'You know he's only going to go if you're there,' Marissa sighed, rolling her eyes.
'That's not true,' I said, trying to be serious. The smile tugging at my lips however quickly gave me away. Deep down, I knew what she was saying was true. I had been dating Nate for a year and a half now. A day rarely went by when we weren't with each other and everybody knew it. We were so in love, it was crazy. He still gave me butterflies after all this time.
'You know it's true,' she laughed. 'But you are gonna come, right?'
'Why do we have to go to Mystic Falls? Why can't we stay here?'
'Urm, because it's crap here?' Marissa suggested, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
'You do have a point,' I pursed my lips.
She stared at me expectantly.
'Alright,' I relented. 'I'll go.'
'Good!' she grinned. 'I'll see you after school.
Of course I wasn't to know it at that point, but if I had just told her I wasn't going... If I had just stayed at home, things would have turned out so very, very differently.
* * * *
After school, I met Marissa as planned in the carpark. Nate was already there with Marissa's boyfriend Jack. We all piled into Marissa's sleek BMW that her parents had bought her as a bribe for their divorce. It wasn't any wonder why Marissa acted the way she did, I had met her parents several times and they were just like her.
Marissa shared her father's icy blue eyes but the tilt of hers was different, more catlike and seductive. She often used them to her full advantage, particularly with Jack as I had witnessed before. But her mother's bright blonde hair was Marissa's main, defining feature. It was always poker straight, kept in pristine condition with various bottles of expensive shampoos and mousses, all designer labels. Her slender, model-like figure was the envy of nearly every girl at Richard Falls, but only I knew how Marissa had achieved it. Only I knew about her eating disorder. She had sworn me to secrecy, but I could never tell anyway. It was just too serious.
'I heard you were going to that thing at the Mystic Grill on Friday,' Nate murmured beside me.
'Yeah, Marissa talked me into it.'
'It's gonna be fun. Even more so now that you're going.' He planted a little kiss on my cheek. I could only blush furiously.
'Get a room,' Marissa chipped in.
'Sorry, but I seem to recall you and Jack all over each other when I was driving,' Nate shot back.
'Oh yeah,' I laughed. 'That was getting pretty hot and heavy.'
'Urm, no I am so not like that,' Marissa said quickly, shooting a glance at Jack, who was now looking anywhere but at us.
'Yeah whatever. Who's party is this thing anyway?'
'I dunno,' Marissa shrugged her shoulders. 'Some guy.'
'Wait, it's a party?' I asked. 'I never knew about that. We shouldn't crash some guy's birthday.'
'We won't be crashing it. There'll be loads of people there, he's not gonna know everyone.' Marissa pulled to a stop outside the mall. 'Now, help me choose an outfit will you Ari?'
'Sure,' I sighed. This was going to be fun.
Jack and Nate headed off as Marissa led me into the nearest boutique store. Rows of expensive dresses lined the wall, and as I caught a glimpse of the price tag from one of them, I inhaled sharply.
'Jeez, I can never afford these.'
'Oh come on, they're not that expensive,' Marissa scoffed.
'You may not think that $800 for a dress is a lot, but I do. I think I'll just stick with an outfit that I've already got thanks.'
'Fine, but help me choose one would you?'
'Sure,' I shrugged my shoulders.