The Lonely Hearts Club
Page 16

 Elizabeth Eulberg

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I was a horrible friend. I had completely forgotten that she was inside drinking, I gave Ryan back his jacket as we followed Diane inside. She led me into a bathroom on the second floor where Tracy was lying on the tile floor, looking a light shade of green.
I bent down next to her and brushed her hair out of her face.
"What is she doing here?" Tracy pointed at Diane.
"Be nice." I started to help her off the floor.
"Watt." Ryan came in, washed out his cup, and filled it with water, "She's going to need this first."
Ryan, Diane, and I waited around in awkward silence for what seemed like ages while we forced Tracy to drink two cups of water. She stared at Diane the entire time.
"You aren't going to take her away from me," she slurred.
Diane began to reply but Ryan interrupted. "Okay, time to get you up and home."
"Stop!" Tracy pushed Ryan away. "I don't want Paul to know I'm a mess. I can walk out myself. I want to say goodbye first."
Diane gave me a weird look that I couldn't read. "I don't think that's a good idea, Tracy," she said. "Seriously -- you should just make him wonder what happened to you, I might even let him know that you've had your share of guys hitting on you. . . ."
Tracy liked the thought of that and agreed to go quietly.
As we headed downstairs, we saw Todd, standing on the couch, dancing with his shirt off,
"No way, Penny*'** he called out. "You can't leave!" He stumbled over and nearly knocked me to the floor. Ryan grabbed Todd, to steady him. Meanwhile, Diane was trying to hold Tracy up, but Tracy kept trying to push her away.
this was a nightmare.
"Margreeeta," Todd, was slurring. "Margreeeeta, where've you been?"
"She was out in the back talking to me," Ryan replied.
Todd, pushed Ryan off of him. "God, Bauer! What, you need to . . . you need to . . . you can't. ."
"I didn't do anything, Todd,. Calm down." Ryan grabbed him again by the shoulders. "Penny and I are just friends. I'd never do anything with her. You should know me better than that!"
Yeah, and I should've known better than to have gone to this party. to make matters worse, Missy came running over. She threw her arms around Ryan and said, "Hey, sexy -- I've been looking all over for you!'
I took Tracy's hand and walked out to the car. Diane helped buckle her in as I adjusted the rearview mirror. Ryan came running over to the car (he somehow managed to escape from Missy's claws) and tapped on the window. I lowered it.
"Sorry about that. I didn't want to give him any reason to be more upset."
"It's fine," I started to fiddle with Tracy's radio.
"Are you mad?"
I took a deep breath, I didn't know what I was.
"No, I'm fine, really. this evening has been a complete disaster."
"Oh," he replied in a softer voice. "Well, I had fun."
"Well, good for you."
I turned on the engine and drove away.
Chapter Twelve
THINGS WERE A BIT AWKWARD the following morning. Tracy was hungover and miserable. Diane was coming over to talk, and I had a feeling it was about what she'd seen between me and Ryan.
"Hey, how's Tracy feeling?" Diane said as she entered my bedroom.
"Not so hot. She's in the shower now." I nodded toward the hallway. "there was no way I could've brought her home last night. I was able to sneak her in!'
Diane was looking around. "Wow, I forgot how cool your room is." I looked around at the Beatles posters that lined my walls and the bulletin board full of old concert signs and ticket stubs. I guess it was pretty cool. Mostly it was just home.
"Well, I'm glad I have a few minutes alone with you, because there is something that I need to tell you!' Diane sat on my bed and looked nervous.
"there's nothing going on between me and Ryan!' I blurted out.
"What?" Diane replied.
I started pacing my room. "I was so miserable when I got to the party, and when he suggested going outside and getting away from it all, I just went along with it, I mean, he's a guy, the enemy. Not to mention the guy who broke your heart. I would never -- and I mean never -- do anything with him."
Diane shook her head. "I know that. I was a little surprised when I saw the two of you." She laughed. "It was a little uncomfortable, but you two have always been friends. What I really wanted to talk to you about was Tracy. You see .. , I saw Paul kissing someone else at the party."
"I got there with Audrey and Pam, and I needed to go to the bathroom. So I went upstairs, and I walked in on him . . ."
Tracy was definitely going to kill the messenger for this one.
I lay down on my bed. "this is going to be ugly!' I warned Diane. "She was really hoping he was going to ask her out."
Diane shifted uncomfortably and started playing with the frayed end of one of my bed pillows.
"Much better!" Tracy came barging into my room with a towel on her head and collapsed onto the bed. "Okay, time to figure out what we're going to do about the complete ass I made out of myself. I don't think Paul is ever going to ask me out now."
Diane and I stared at each other, not sure what to say.
Tracy looked exhausted. "Okay, okay. I know, guys, and I'm so sorry."