Today's Reading

"How much do you want us to spend?" Dougie asked as he slid across the vinyl.

"Twenty each?" Darren suggested. Twenty each? My eyebrows slithered up my forehead. "It's for four nights, remember," he continued, reading my expression, which I knew would be echoed and then some on Martin's face.

"Twenty's fine," Emma replied, shooting me a warning look. I made a face at her, unimpressed. My best friend Emma didn't drink, said it turned people into mindless idiots. Darren's girlfriend Emma, however, apparently thought differently. Resigned, I reached for my purse.

There was a definite air of annoyance in the back seat as Dougie and Darren shut their doors on the three of us. Emma didn't seem to notice; she was too busy staring at Darren's broad shoulders as they disappeared into the warehouse-style supermarket.

"Isn't Darren gorgeous?" she sighed.

Martin huffed a laugh that he managed to turn into a half-convincing cough. Emma slanted her eyes at him before turning her attention to me.

"Isn't he?" she prompted.

"Um..." I shrugged.

He was good-looking, I supposed, in a tough kind of way. He was a big guy, one of those compulsive gym-goers, and his clothes came from the sorts of stores that blared out dance tunes and sold shirts with brand names emblazoned in huge letters across the front. Two years older than us, he had a job in the construction company Emma's dad managed—that was how she'd met him. He was confident too, walking with a pronounced swagger. But it was all very deliberate, very affected. A paper-thin facade. To be honest, I thought he looked a little like an idiot. Dougie, on the other hand...

Dougie was as laid-back as Darren was pumped up. He was just as tall as Darren but nowhere near as bulky. Nicely normal-sized. He had similar blue eyes, but they were usually smiling rather than eyeing the world with barely veiled aggression, and his thick, brown hair stuck up everywhere, nothing like Darren's gelled masterpiece.

"Heather?" Emma waved a hand in front of my face, pulling my attention back to her and her question.

"Sure." I smiled at her, putting just the right amount of enthusiasm in my voice.

I'd had quite a lot of practice at that recently. For the last six months, Emma and Darren had been inseparable. If I wanted to spend time with her, I had to put up with him too. Which didn't make me happy because the Emma I knew—the one I'd been friends with since we were shy five-year-olds together on the playground—turned into someone completely different as soon as she was within swooning distance of Darren.

"He is!" she asserted, smiling dreamily. "And he's such a good kisser."

Given that I knew for a fact Emma hadn't kissed a single boy before she'd caught Darren's eye, I wasn't sure how she was in a position to judge, but I kept my mouth shut.

Martin gave a cough—a real one this time—and squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. Emma didn't notice.

"And he knows what he's doing, if you know what I mean." She gave me a smug look. "I mean—"

"Emma!" I interrupted before she could expand on that. "Enough details."

"What?" She looked at us, wide-eyed, the picture of innocence.

I was saved from answering by the reappearance of Dougie and Darren.

"Here they come," I said, relieved. Then my eyes widened. "Did they buy the whole store? Where the h ell are we supposed to fit all of that?"
...

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