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Page 52



"Caulter!" The Senator gestures to me, my mother draped over his arm. She has that too-happy look that says she's well into several glasses of champagne. "I'd like to introduce you to Congressman Hill and his wife, Barbara. Caulter has been accepted to Yale for the fall semester."

I stop, staring at him. That's news to me, since I've not applied anywhere. In fact, the guidance counselor at school practically insisted on sending my applications in himself, but I refused to let it happen. Why go to college, when I already have a trust fund?

Besides, there's no point in school for people like me. We're meant to live off the dividends from our trust funds; smile and have photos taken at social events; and eventually meet a girl who will attempt to stave off the inevitable decline of age by spending the equivalent of a mortgage on plastic surgery.

My mother looks at me meaningfully. "You are planning to attend Yale in the Fall, aren’t you, Caulter?”

Smiling, I nod my head. “Looking forward to it,” I say. What I’m really looking forward to is getting the hell out of this party. I came outside chasing after Katherine, but why? It’s better to let her think the worst of me.

But that's until I see her beside that Neanderthal lacrosse player. I watch as she grabs two champagne flutes from a tray as a server walks by, and downs them, one right after the other. She makes fleeting eye contact with me, and turns back to the guy, obviously ignoring me.

My mother says something to me, and the Congressman's wife puts her hand on my arm, but I can't hear what either of them are saying. Everything fades as I watch Katherine lean forward, with her hand on his arm, then tuck her hair behind her ear, tilting her head down as she bites her lip and smiles.

That smile is what does it for me. That smile is what kills me. It pushes me beyond the pale, and I’m done.

He’s talking about my father. He’s talking about my father’s campaign, and “the really important issues,” and the Presidential race, and oh my God, I think he just said something about wanting a wife and kids. I touch his arm and pretend whatever the hell he just said was funny, but really I’m thinking about Caulter. I can’t get the image out of my head -- Caulter standing there with that woman in the library.

I want to vomit. The idea of him fucking some other woman, in the library of all places, makes me sick. I think she's married, too; I saw her on the arm of an older man earlier tonight.

A server passes with a tray of champagne and I grab another flute, despite the fact that I’ve already downed two and deposited the empty glasses on the bar. I wish Chase would just shut the hell up. He talks and talks, endless streams of words, and it makes me want to claw my eyes out.

I wonder if I should just hook up with Chase. He's not awful looking in a meathead sort of way. Maybe that would be enough to erase the memory of Caulter's touch that seems to just linger on my flesh. Screw Caulter, anyway. There's nothing special about him.

I look up and Caulter is right in front of me.

"Excuse me," he says, putting his shoulder between Chase and I.

“What the fuck?” Chase asks.

“I need to talk to Katherine.” Caulter says. “That means you can leave.”

Chase puffs out his chest and stands his ground. “I’m talking to her, dickwad,” he says. “Do you want me to have to beat your ass at your own house?”

“Chase.” My voice is sharp, warning. “This is not the place.”

“Whatever,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Obviously you give more of a shit about your step-brother here than --”

Caulter looks at him. “Why are you still here?”

“Fuck you, asshole.” But Chase walks away. I'm not disappointed to see him go.

But I am pissed at Caulter. “What, did you get tired of banging the redhead in there?” I hiss.

His grip on my arm tightens and he leans in close to me, glancing at a couple nearby, who toss us dirty looks before moving to another spot a few feet away. The bartender is mixing a drink, but I have the sneaking suspicion he’s also listening. Caulter whispers in my ear. “That was not what you fucking think, and I will explain.”

I shake him off. “I don’t want an explanation, Caulter. It’s none of my business.” But I do want to get the hell out of here. I weave and wind through the people outside, and cut through the back entrance of the house. I know Caulter is somewhere behind me, but I don’t care. I want out from under the scrutiny of all those people, and I feel a little buzzed from the champagne.


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