Liz decided, though there was a pouty face glued on the whole way, to be a trooper, accept defeat, and ultimately to drive them to the party. Derek gave her a consolatory pat on the back and in response, she turned around in the front seat to beam back at them. How fast her moods swing back and forth, Allison thought.
“Thank you for choosing to ride Montgomery Transportation. Please keep all seat belts buckled, hands and feet inside the vehicle and kindly make absolutely no attempts at distracting the driver. This is your captain, err, driver, signing off. Please enjoy the ride.” With that, Liz twisted back around and their journey began. Allison realized it really would be a bit of a journey. Derek, Sarah and her lived relatively close. Two high in, gated communities, with a bunch of stuck up rich people, who had no thought past their money. Him and Sarah in Garret Circle and Allison in Warner Circle. Two or three minutes apart, max.
Liz lived farther out but not by much, and in yet another high in gated community, but the people around where she lived seemed more down to earth, and a lot less uppity. Where they were going, wherever this address was taking them, was about a half hour out. Allison settled back into her seat, getting comfortable and ready for the longish drive. But she realized she wasn’t really comfortable. Whenever they all rode like this, Allison always found herself closer to Derek.
At that moment she was probably as far from him as she had ever been in a car. She knew he noticed too, by the way he was sitting, rigid and stiff. But he wasn’t looking at her, attention focused out the window instead. Allison sat there for a few minutes, pondering this, and then she unbuckled her seat belt. Ignoring the evil glare she received from Liz, who had been apparently serious about those rules she had set, she slid over into the middle seat and as close to him as she could get.
She had decided that she hadn’t liked the distance. She smiled at him as she redid her seat belt and he smiled back. He threw an arm around her shoulders, catching on fast. She noticed that tension flowing out of his body and she rested her head on his chest. Much better, she thought. She noticed Liz faintly smiling at her, from the mirror, and she wondered what she was thinking.
She looked up at Derek, “You’re my best friend.” She said.
He nodded, smiling, “I am.”
“No point in changing anything that’s already set in stone.” She said and she meant it. She refused to pull away from one of the people who she trusted most in the world, because of something she may or may not have even seen. He rested his chin on the top of her head, and she moved closer, that stupid seat belt getting in the way, but safety first, right?
“No point at all.” He whispered, his arm tightening around her, ever so slightly.
“Hey, are we almost there?” Allison asked. She was getting a little jumpy at the thought of seeing Jared again. She twitched again slightly and revised that last thought. She was getting a lot jumpy at the idea of seeing him again.
“Yep, about five minutes. Hey … do any of you guys recognize this neighborhood?” Liz asked, glancing around. But she couldn’t really be seeing much with their surroundings being enclosed in black. Night had truly fallen, it was well past eight. Another reason that Allison was nervous, would Jared assume she had changed her mind and had decided not to come? But aside from that, the area did look vaguely familiar, even with her not being able to see much of what was around her.
“Yeah,” Sarah started. She then began whispering something to Liz and Liz then whispered something back. Allison was picking up the same vibe as that weird moment in her bedroom. There was something going on there that Allison was not aware of. Liz then looked up at her through the mirror again ... and she smiled … devilishly.
“Yo, D,” Liz asked. But when he didn’t respond Allison looked up at him. His arm was still around her and he was leaning against the window. She realized he was sleeping and smiled. Probably jet lagged, and yet he had still decided to come along with them. Allison was loathe to wake him, but seeing as they were almost at the party, she poked him lightly.
“Derek?” She said softly, he stirred slightly but didn’t resurface to the land of the living. Derek was in what was known as “dead sleep” and she contemplated leaving him in the car so he could sleep.
“That’s not how you do it. Derek is a big boy. Yell at him.” When Allison shook her head and started to open her mouth to suggest leaving him in the car Liz shouted, “Wake up, Derek Augustus Carter!”
Derek jumped what seemed ten feet in the air and slammed his head on the truck roof.
“What the f - !” Derek called out in bewilderment, he must have figured out who the culprit was because next he yelled, “Liz, what the hell?” He rubbed the top of his head as if he really had knocked it hard and Allison winced herself. It really looked as if it had hurt and with her being so close some of the impact had hit her. She glared at Liz who shrugged. In the midst of all the drama, all of them except for one had stopped noticing their surroundings.
“Guys – ,” Sarah tried to get in a word but Derek and Liz were still at it.
“Why do you do stuff like that Liz? Are you even sorry?” He questioned, eyes shooting daggers at the rearview mirror. Allison was too entertained to look away. When Liz and Derek threw down, they really threw down. She had a feeling things were about to get interesting. But she also had a fleeting thought that maybe she should be worried, because Liz was behind the wheel.
“Guys, look at where we are.” Sarah tried again. Allison was interested enough to turn and check out what it was that Sarah was trying to grab their attention for. She looked and all the breath swooshed out of her. Eyes narrowed in confusion and perplexity and the truck having stopped, she slid across the car seat and slammed the door open. Hitting the ground hard and teetering on her heels a bit, she grabbed at the truck to get her balance and once steady, walked around behind the truck to stand in front of the grand front lawn before her.
By that time Derek, Liz and Sarah had followed suit and gotten out of the car to stand with her in front of the lawn. Arms crossed Allison looked at her friends to see them staring at the house. Most likely having reached the same conclusion as her.
“Wow.” Liz stuttered.
“Is this – ,” Sarah started.
“Yup. ” Derek answered. “Small world ... real small.” He muttered to himself. Allison shook her head. What did this mean? Why was Jared inviting her to a party here? She finally voiced aloud what her brain couldn’t seem to grasp.
“This is Andrew Morgan’s house.”