The Chase:Briar U

By: Elle Kennedy


“I’ve noticed,” I say dryly.

“You should’ve seen what she did to Daphne! She acted like it was the alcohol thing, but really she was just jealous because Daph slept with her ex-boyfriend Chris, so she made Daph’s life miserable. One weekend when Daphne was away, Kaya ‘accidentally’”—Bianca uses air quotes—“donated every piece of her clothing to these freshmen who were collecting stuff for the annual clothes drive. Daph eventually quit the sorority and moved out.”

I’m starting to think that alcohol poisoning was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to Daphne Kettleman, if it got her out of this hellhole.

“Whatever. I don’t care if I live here or not. Like you said, I’ll be just fine.” I put on the cavalier, nothing-in-life-ever-ever-gets-to-me voice that I’ve perfected over the years.

It’s my armor. I pretend that my life is a beautiful Victorian house and hope that nobody peers close enough to see the cracks in my facade.

But no matter how convincing I am in front of Bianca, there’s no stopping the massive wave of anxiety that hits me the moment I slide into my car five minutes later. It stilts my breathing and quickens my pulse, making it hard to think clearly.

What am I supposed to do?

Where am I supposed to go?

I inhale deeply. It’s okay. It’s fine. I take another breath. Yes, I’ll figure it out. I always do, right? I’m constantly screwing up, and I always find a way to unscrew myself. I just have to buckle down and think—

My phone blares out its ringtone rendition of Sia’s “Cheap Thrills.” Thank God.

I waste no time answering the call. “Hey,” I greet my brother Dean, grateful for the interruption.

“Hey, Boogers. Just checking that you made it to campus in one piece.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Gosh, who knows. You might’ve run off to Miami with some hitchhiking wannabe rapper you picked up on the interstate—or what I like to call a recipe for becoming a serial killer’s skin-suit. Oh wait! You already fucking did that.”

“Oh my God. First of all, Jasper was an aspiring country singer, not a rapper. Second, I was with two other girls and we were driving to Daytona Beach, not Miami. Third, he didn’t even try to touch me, let alone murder me.” I sigh. “Lacey did hook up with him, though, and he gave her herpes.”

Incredulous silence meets my ears.

“Dicky?” That’s my childhood nickname for Dean. He hates it. “You there?”

“I’m trying to understand how you think your version of the story is in any way more palatable than mine.” He suddenly curses. “Aw fuck, didn’t I hook up with Lacey at your eighteenth birthday party?” A pause. “The herpes trip would’ve happened before that party. Dammit, Summer! I mean, I used protection, but a warning would’ve been nice!”

“No, you didn’t hook up with Lacey. You’re thinking of Laney, with an ‘N.’ I stopped being her friend after that.”

“How come?”

“Because she slept with my brother when she was supposed to be hanging out with me at my party. That’s not cool.”

“Truth. Selfish move.”

“Yup.”

There’s a sudden blast of noise on the line—what sounds like wind, car engines, and then a barrage of honking. “Sorry,” Dean says. “Just leaving the apartment. My Uber’s here.”

“Where are you off to?”

“Picking up our dry-cleaning. The place Allie and I go to is in Tribeca, but they’re awesome, so worth the trek. Highly recommend.”

Dean and his girlfriend Allie live in the West Village in Manhattan. Allie admitted to me that the area is way fancier than she’s used to, but for my brother it’s actually a step down; our family’s penthouse is on the Upper East Side, making up the top three floors of our hotel, the Heyward Plaza. But Dean’s new building is near the private school where he teaches, and since Allie has a lead role on a television show that shoots all over Manhattan, the location is convenient for both of them.

It must be so nice for them, having a place to live and all.

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