The Witness(10)

By: Nora Roberts



“You mean we stay calm and blend in.”

“That’s what I said. Once we’re in, we grab a table and order Cosmos.”

“What are they?”

“You know, like the Sex and the City girls?”

“I don’t know who they are.”

“Never mind. It’s fashionable. We’re twenty-one, Liz; we’re in a hot club. We order fashionable drinks.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth slid closer, lowered her voice. “Won’t your parents know if you’ve been drinking?”

“They split last winter.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

Julie shrugged, looked away out the window for a moment. “It happens. Anyway, I don’t see my dad until Wednesday, and my mom’s away for the weekend on some retreat with her boring friends. Emma’s out on a date, plus she doesn’t care, anyway. I can do what I want.”

Elizabeth nodded. They were both the same. No one at home to care. “We’ll have Cosmos.”

“Now you’re talking. And we scope. That’s why we’ll dance with each other at first—it gives us time to check out the guys—and let them check us out.”

“Is that why girls dance together? I wondered.”

“Plus, it’s fun—and a lot of boys won’t dance. You got your cell phone?”

“Yes.”

“If we get separated, we call. If a guy asks for your number, don’t give him your home number. The cell’s okay, unless your mother monitors your calls.”

“No. No one calls me.”

“The way you look, that’s going to change tonight. If you don’t want him to have your number, give him a fake one. Next. You’re in college, anyway, so you’re cool there. We’ll say we’re roommates. I’m a liberal arts major. What are you majoring in again?”

“I’m supposed to go to medical school, but—”

“Better stick with that. Truth when possible. You don’t get as mixed up.”

“I’ll be in medical school, then, starting an internship.” Even the thought of it depressed her. “But I don’t want to talk about school unless I have to.”

“Boys only want to talk about themselves, anyway. Oh, God, we’re like almost there.” Julie opened her purse, checked her face in a little mirror, freshened her lip gloss, so Elizabeth did the same. “Can you get the cab? I got a hundred out of my mother’s cash stash, but otherwise I’m tapped out.”

“Of course.”

“I can pay you back. My dad’s an easy touch.”

“I don’t mind paying.” Elizabeth took out the cab fare, calculated the tip.

“Oh, man, I’ve got goose bumps. I can’t believe I’m going to Warehouse 12! It’s totally the bomb!”

“What do we do now?” Elizabeth asked as they climbed out of the cab.

“We get in line. They don’t let everybody in, you know, even with ID.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s a hot club, so they turn off the dorks and dogs. But they always let in the hot chicks. And we are so the hot chicks.”

It was a long line, and a warm night. Traffic grumbled by, rumbling over the conversations of others who waited. Elizabeth took in the moment—the sounds, the smells, the sights. Saturday night, she thought, and she was queuing up at a hot club with beautiful people. She was wearing a new dress—a red dress—and high, high heels that made her feel tall and powerful.

No one looked at her as if she didn’t belong.

The man checking IDs at the door wore a suit and shoes with a high shine. His dark hair, slicked back in a ponytail, left his face unframed. A scar rode his left cheekbone. A stud glinted in his right earlobe.

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