14.5K 706 186

I turn over the mask clasped in my hand, the black lace sparkling with Swarovski crystals

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

I turn over the mask clasped in my hand, the black lace sparkling with Swarovski crystals. I place it down and let my honeyed curls fall over the black ribbons that hold my dress in place. Gabe Tucker's Saints and Sinners party has been the talk of the school for a week, ever since the Hopton Devils had won the homecoming game last Friday, and I'm more excited than I care to admit. With only cheesy teen movies as a reference, I don't know what to expect, but a high school party has to be better than the awkward school discos put on at MillFallows.

The only dampener on tonight is the prospect of seeing James and Elodie together. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that.

From the computer screen, Lissie wolf whistles. 'Aren't you glad I told you to go as a sinner?'

'You sure it isn't too much?' I pull down the hem of the dress.

'Excess is not a thing, darling. Hedonism becomes you.'

'Just because I look like a sinner doesn't mean I won't be acting like a saint. Like always.'

To prepare for tonight, I'd spent the day at the mall with Anna-Beth; my wardrobe does not cater to the sort of party held at Gabe's house and it had been time to call in reinforcements. She'd spent more of my month's allowance than I could have thought possible, but I have to admit that I feel good as a result.

The short, high-necked silk dress skims over my body like water and stops half-way down my thighs. At first glance, it looks conservative - more saint than sinner – until I turn to reveal my bare back. Anna-Beth had tried so hard to make me buy it in red, but I'd played it safe. I'm still not out of the woods with Savannah and wearing her signature colour to Gabe's party would be catastrophic for me.

The urgent honking of the horn makes me hustle. Throwing a hoody over my outfit – I don't need any raised eyebrows from my father when he'd pushed back against the idea of me going at all - I race past my parents, shouting them a quick goodbye. Cricket, who's wearing white jeans and a silver halter-neck top, eyes the sweater and trainers as I leap into the back seat of her sister's car. Smiling, I unzip the hoody, revealing the outfit underneath.

'You went sinner?'

'I need to look good tonight,' I say, pulling out a compact mirror. I swipe gloss over my lips – devil red like Lissie suggested.

Anna-Beth holds out a bag to me. 'I tried to bring Nola's Weitzman boots, but she kicked off. These are still great, but flat.' She grimaces at that, but I thank Anna-Beth's sister. Flats feel more familiar, and no doubt I'll need that tonight.

As I pulled on the over-the-knee suede boots, Cricket gasps. 'Holy hey. You look insane! Finch'll be kicking himself tonight, for sure.'

With a sudden jolt, I realise I haven't thought about Finch all day. That's a first. After my almost moment with James, I dressed for him. When I enter, I want him to take notice of me. Guilty pinpricks of shame make me turn away from Cricket. I know my motives are wrong. It isn't that I'm trying to upstage Elodie, not really. She should be happy with him.

Under Tennessee SkiesWhere stories live. Discover now