Things get better and better in the next few weeks following our talk. Lizzie and I are gradually starting to become close again and I can’t be happier. We continue our study sessions together and I reap the benefits of the results. My grades are getting better and I am relieved that I might actually pass this quarter with at least B’s in all my classes.
That is of course, except for my art class, which I know I will be receive high grades for this quarter. With all the practice and teaching from my professor, my painting skills have really increased. I am very impressed with myself. I have even asked my professor for some private time in the art studio and he has given it to me.
I really enjoy painting in there, for it gives me the peace and mind to concentrate. As much as I love painting in my dorm, all the noise from downstairs and the nearby rooms can really crowd my artistic flow.
The painting is also a good distraction. I still haven’t figured out how exactly I am going to talk to Charls. I am very nervous about it and haven’t even brought myself to give him a phone call. I suspect Brad is probably watching him. I can still remember the look on his face when he thought Charls and I might have been together. If only he knew the truth…
It’s a while before I finally hear back from Kimberly about what the Tri-Fruhms are up to. It seems like they really don’t trust her. Over e-mail, she tells me that the Tri-Fruhms have put their prank on Janice on hold until they find out if her petition went through. She then says that they are secretly planning another Greek event that will happen on that coming Friday. As for the location, it was yet to be announced. The Tri-Fruhms weren’t going to risk getting caught. This was going to be a lot trickier than I thought.
I spend most of the week trying to figure out exactly where the Tri-Fruhms are holding their event. I keep trying to get a hold of Kimberly, but to no avail. I suspect that she is trying to keep the Tri-Fruhms off her tail. So, I spend most of the week hanging at the Grotto playing some pool. I did ask Lizzie and Janice to join me, but they are too busy.
That Friday evening I am about to lose all hope, when I finally get a phone call from Kimberly.
“Got a location?” I ask her.
“Yes.” Her voice is even lower than a whisper. “Charlotte is holding a party at the R.E.D club tonight.”
I frown. “How are they able to do that? Isn’t that a public place?”
“They’ve rented it under a false name. Bethany.”
I cringe thinking of Noel’s friend Bethany and all she endured at the mercy of the Tri-Fruhms. What a mockery for them to be using her name. “Well that’s messed up.”
“Agreed.” In the background, I can hear Charlotte announcing that it is time to leave. “I’ve got to go Abby. You know what to do.” She then hangs up. And so the fun begins.
Things are going much better between Abby and me. It is still going to be awhile before things are back to how they were, but at least we are off to a good start. It also felt so nice to talk to her about my situation with Michael. So far, I still hadn’t taken her advice. I hadn’t gotten myself to talk to Michael. I can’t tell if I am just nervous or what. But I know I need to talk to him and soon. Fortunately, I have other things to worry about, like Abby’s plan to take down the Tri-Fruhms. Besides, it was already Friday, the day of the their Greek party and we still didn’t know where it was being held.
I spend most of the afternoon after class hanging around the dorm with Janice. When night falls and I haven’t heard from Abby, I start to think that maybe the plan is off. That is until I run into Janice.
“I just heard from Abby. The plan is still a go.”
“Awesome. Where are we going?”
“Club R.E.D. Apparently, the Tri-Fruhms have booked it under the name Bethany.”
I frown. “Bethany? Like the girl they drugged last year?”
“They’re messed up.”
“Tell me about it.” Janice stretches. “Well, we should get ready. The party will be starting in just an hour.”
In just thirty minutes, we are all dressed and ready to go. I don’t really have any clubbing clothes, but I do the best I can.
Janice changes into a new outfit and I marvel at the chance to see her in a dress. The last time I saw her in one was back at the party back in October.
“You look great!” I say to her.
“Thank you. I hope you don’t mind, I invited Greg. I thought it might look less suspicious if he came along. After all, he does sometimes mingle in their crowd.”
When we get to the front of the club, we stop in our tracks. Clare is standing there with Brad right at the front entrance. To their side, is Janice’s boyfriend, Greg Shalom.
“If you don’t care about her then why are you freaking out about it?” Clare was saying. She looked peeved.
Brad shrugs. “I’m not. I could care less what Abby does. I just don’t want her with him!”
“Listen to yourself! You sound like a jealous ex-boyfriend!”
“Well, I am her ex-boyfriend!”
I am a bit stunned by what I am hearing. It sounded like Brad and Clare were fighting over Abby!
When Greg notices us, he moves toward the side to block Janice and I from Clare and Brad’s view. He then gestures for us to go inside. Taking his cue, Janice and I hurry in.
Upstairs, the party is in full swing. People are dancing and swaying from left to right. I pull out my cell phone camera and start to record. The Tri-Fruhms are floating about the room and downing drinks at the bar. The evidence is pretty damning.
After a while, I decide to take a break. Feeling my stomach grumbling, I make my way over to the bar and order some boneless hot wings. I must say, they are fantastic. I am so into eating them, that I don’t even notice someone approaching from behind me.
“Hey Lizzie.” I look up and nearly choke on another wing. Michael is standing right beside me.
“Michael? What are you doing here?”
“Abby invited me. She insisted I come. At first I was confused, but now I see why.”
I did too. Abby was trying to give me a little push. But honestly, I wasn’t ready to talk to him.
“Lizzie, we really need to talk.”
I sigh. “Not now Michael. We actually aren’t really supposed to be here. We’re just collecting evidence to use against the Tri-Fruhms.”
“I know. Abby filled me in when I came in. But still Lizzie, we need to talk. You can’t keep avoiding me like this.”
I look back down at my plate. Being near Michael was starting to make my body heat up again. “I-I’m not avoiding you. I’ve just been busy.”
I sigh. “Michael I’m sorry! I just can’t do this right now!”
Michael is quiet for a moment and then he sighs. “All right Lizzie. I’ll go.” He then walks away. After he is gone, I can’t help but feel disappointed. I know I asked him to go, but a part of me didn’t think he would leave.
“Maybe I should talk to him,” I think, He had come all this way to see me. The least I could do is say something to him.
I slide off the bar stool and make my way over to the dance floor. Just before I reach Michael, I stop in my tracks. Michael is standing by Abby’s friend Kimberly chatting with her. I feel a familiar sensation in my chest, the same way I felt when I saw Michael with Abby that night at the arcade.
“Care to dance,” Kimberly was saying, and Michael nods. They both then start grooving together to the beat of the music. I feel my chest tightening and a knot in my throat. But what right did I have to feel this way? Hadn’t I just turned Michael away? I curse to myself. What an idiot I am being. Abby went through all the trouble to invite him and I hadn’t even bothered to talk to him. I needed to figure out my feelings and I needed to do it fast or I could lose Michael, even as a friend, for good.