Liar Liar(10)

By: L A Cotton

“Wear something nice. Something other than those jeans and t-shirts you’ve been hiding under. Us Torrence girls are blessed with good figures for a reason, sweetie.”

“Sure thing, Mom.”

I left her drying the dishes while I went upstairs to get ready. Scarlett’s message had been brief: dress down, meet there. Part of me worried it was all some elaborate prank—another joke at my expense—but she seemed genuine. And I really wanted to make some friends. If I couldn’t make Credence High work, everything my parents had sacrificed would be for nothing. I refused to let that happen. No matter how hard it was going to be.

Staring at the contents of my wardrobe, a pang of regret throbbed through me. I’d thrown out almost everything that reminded me of my life in Montecito. Floaty summer dresses, cropped pants, and pashmina sweaters. It didn’t leave much in the way of options for tonight, and I fingered through the t-shirts until I found something that might work.

Once I had changed, I added some gloss to my lips and mascara to my lashes. I was brushing my hair when Mom walked into my room. “Oh, wow.” She eyed my outfit with surprise. “When I said nice, Becca, that’s not quite what I had in mind.”

Placing the brush down on the dresser, I turned to her and looked down at myself. “Does it look that bad?”

Remembering Scarlett’s dark jeans and low-cut top, I’d picked out a pair of black jeans and a black sparkly tank top that I’d worn once back in Montecito as part of a Halloween costume.

“No, no.” Mom assured me. “It’s not bad …” She hesitated. “Just different. You look so different, baby.”

“You’re kind of freaking me out, Mom. Different good or fashion-disaster different?”

“Good, I think.” Her mouth pulled down at the corners as she tilted her head to the side, still looking at me. “Yes, good. Definitely good. I was just surprised.” Her lips curved into a smile, and I relaxed a little.

“You’re sure?” I spun and faced myself in the mirror. Mom was right—I did look different. Dark honey blond hair cascaded over my bare shoulders and down my chest, contrasting with the shimmering tank top. The jeans, teamed with wedged sneakers, slimmed down my legs and made me look taller than I was.

“You look beautiful, Becca.” Her eyes zeroed in on my wrist. “You’re not wearing your bracelet?”

“Hmm, no, I don’t want to lose it,” I lied, forcing a smile. She wouldn’t understand. “Okay, I think I’m ready.”

A girl I barely recognized stared back at me, but maybe this was a good thing.

A new look for a new Becca.

Maybe this girl would stand a better chance of fitting in.

By the time I reached the club, it was dark. Mom had wanted Dad to drive me, but that would have blown my cover, so I braved the bus system in town. Finally, after two wrong changes and almost forty minutes, I found the place, if you could call it that.

Inside. Scarlett’s last text had said. No one looked twice at me as I joined the line and waited, nervous energy humming through my body as my eyes darted around the place. A one-story building and walls thick with graffiti, in what appeared to be an abandoned parking lot—it was definitely not the kind of place I was used to.

“Over twenty-one?” a gruff voice asked, and my head whipped around to meet a hulk of a man's icy stare.

“Hmm, no.”

“Hand.” His eyes dropped to my hands, and I held one out limply. He stamped it and motioned to the door. “In you go.”

Inside, music throbbed in thick, smoky air. People lingered in the long hallway, drinking and chatting, and dark recesses hid couples pressed up against each other, making out. Arms pressed against my sides, and I was careful not to bump into anyone or stare for too long as I made my way farther into the club, searching for Scarlett. My new look might have come as a shock to Mom, but as the hallway widened into a huge room and my gaze fell on a sea of tank tops, skinny jeans, and sneakers, I knew it was the right call.

“Hey, new girl, you made it,” Scarlett yelled, waving me over. I lifted my hand in a small hello. “New girl, meet everyone. Everyone, this is new girl.” She lifted her beer and frowned at my hand. “Oh shit, tell me you didn’t get stamped?” Amusement flashed over her face, and the chorus of laughter from around the table caused a flush to spread up my neck and into my cheeks.

“I- hmm…”

“Someone get the girl a beer before she passes out.” Scarlett patted the seat beside her, sliding down to make more room. “Rule number one,” she said. “No one’s eighteen in here. Am I right?”