After Marissa had chosen a skimpy black dress that I personally thought was a bit too revealing and dressy for the Mystic Grill, we headed to Starbucks for drinks. Jack and Nate had gotten our trademark table; the one with the four high seats perched directly beside the window. I decided to indulge in a caramel frappuccino, ignoring Marissa's expression as I did so.
'How many calories is in a frappuccino?' Marissa mused, shushing the person behind her when he told her to hurry up with her 'damn decision already'. He was obviously in a rush, maybe late for work judging by the impatient expression and smart suit he wore.
'Who cares?' I smiled. 'Indulge.'
For a second, I really thought she was. I held my breath, stared at her, hopeful. It was a stupid thing, I know, but it would be the next step for her. It all came out in a whoosh when she ordered a bottle of water.
'Bottle of water? You can get those for a quarter of the price from the shop down the road. Or free at home.' I said, a little irritated. I had to remember that it wasn't Marissa's fault she was so obsessed with calories and so conscientious of how much she weighed.
'Shut up Arianna,' she glared at me, which instantly told me to stay quiet. I took a long slurp on the straw before heading off to sit beside Nate.
'So, did you girls get anything nice?'
'Yeah, I got something you'll love,' Marissa smiled at Jack. 'Arianna on the other hand, got nothing.'
'Only because I couldn't afford it,' I muttered, embarrassed.
'Let me buy you it,' Nate offered.
'Why not? You deserve it.'
'You know I don't feel comfortable with people buying me things,' I told him. 'But thank you anyway. I really appreciate it.'
'Well, I'm perfectly alright with it,' Marissa chirped. 'You can buy me something if you'd like.'
'Sorry, no. I can't afford it,' Nate winked.
I giggled, rather embarrassingly due to the fact that I was mid-slurp of my drink and ended up choking, making a bit of a scene. Marissa and Jack were staring at me with wide eyes, only Nate was rubbing my back and asking if I was okay.
'Well that was mortifying,' I uttered after I was done choking.
Nate laughed. 'This is why I love you. You're so adorable.'
'Yeah, it's so cute nearly dying on your frappuccino,' Marissa arched an eyebrow.
'Lighten up,' Jack nudged her playfully. 'It was pretty funny.'
'Yeah, I suppose it was.' Marissa smiled. 'You're such a klutz Ari.'
'I'm here to entertain,' I commented dryly.
We ended up staying in Starbucks for just over two hours, and it was getting dark by the time we finally emerged. There was a cold chill in the November wind and I shuddered involuntarily. Nate pulled me closer, holding the door open for me when we got to Marissa's car.
'Why don't you do that for me?' Marissa whispered behind me. I sat down awkwardly, pretending not to hear Jack's protests.
The drive home was quiet and uneventful. Jack was staring out the window, Marissa had her eyes fixed on the road. I snuggled up to Nate on the back seat, letting the warm air blasting on my face soothe me, inhaling the familiar scent of Nate's jacket. The luminous glows of the speedometer were strangely comforting, and I felt my eyelids drooping out of my own accord.
Marissa pulled up outside my house ten minutes later. By now I was exhausted, the lack of the sleep from the previous night catching up with me. Nate looped his arm round my shoulder, quietly thanking Marissa, as he led me inside. My father confronted me as soon as I crossed the threshold.
'Arianna? Where were you?' he demanded. He must have remembered his manners as he tacked on the end a greeting to Nate.
'We only went shopping,' I said innocently. 'Didn't I tell you?'
'No!' He exclaimed. 'You don't know how worried I was!'
'I'm really sorry dad. I must have lost track of time.'
He sighed. 'You can't keep doing this Arianna. You need to let me know where you are.'
Nate shifted uncomfortably beside me.
'I'll talk to you in the morning,' my father relented.
'I look forward to it!'
'Come on Nate,' dad said ignoring me. 'I'll take you home.'
'Okay, thanks Mr Fielding.'
My father grabbed the car keys off the ledge and headed outside. Nate and I stared at each other for several seconds before we simultaneously burst out into laughter.
'It's not funny really,' Nate tried to sober up. 'Your dad was obviously worried. I'll see you tomorrow at school.' He bent down to kiss me, cupping my face in his hands. I stood up on my tiptoes, linking my arms around his neck.
'I love you,' he murmured against my lips.
'I love you too,' I grinned.
'See you tomorrow,' he smiled, before heading back outside.
Tomorrow would be Friday. The night of this party. The 15th of November 2010. The night would change my life.