It is infuriating; Eliza enjoyed bouncing e-mails, a conversation with her sister, a small gesture on a long road to reconnect with her and Rylan has put a stop. The last e-mail came through from Emilie explaining how Rylan believed Eliza had run from her family eager for alone time and so she should be that way. He banned everyone; Ziva mentioned he had told her to ignore Eliza; instead, they talked for hours with Ziva secretly relaying messages to Charlotte. Patrick suffered the effects of her abandonment; he held a grudge, refused to e-mail, call or send a message; Eliza knew he ignored her, hating her for leaving. His big sister, his role model, vanished overnight without saying why or a hug goodbye. Eliza’s efforts to explain, Patrick rebuffed as lies to leapfrog the apology and get to the normality she wanted, without acknowledging the hurt she caused.
Eliza knew Patrick needed time to accept her choices; she could see some hope when he had a slight smile at being able to taunt, calling her a “quitter” or “deserter”. She needed friends; the city school had its cliques, so when former classmate and debate master Lee wanted to let off steam in the city, Eliza was eager in accepting the invitation to party. Their budget would cover the door fee and a couple of drinks at the Skyline Lounge, and it was the place. The doorman looked them up and down, unimpressed by Lee’s fake ID; he gave both red stamps. It put a dampener on their evening; the red stain on their hands meant zero alcohol, the bar had a strict policy on underage drinkers. Situated uptown, atop the glamourous expensive high rises, the lounge breathtaking view of the city lights made her feel small and how much she needed to save have the dream of a penthouse apartment.
Lee made numerous toilet visits, eager to remove the red evidence was under eighteen; they were free of parents, so what was one lousy drink with a friend. Eliza shrugged; they would be graduating soon; she fancied either dipping her toes, a generous pool her wishing she had a swimsuit or embarrassing herself with some tuneless attempt of a country duet that screamed desperate for love. It would be the latter; Lee’s efforts to bribe the barman into giving him a beer had been acknowledged by the grump security; they came to have fun, however, kicked out, perhaps barred, was a definite no.
They had outstayed their welcome; after a tuneless rendition of “Sweet Green Hills”, security gave them a look making Eliza shudder. Pulling Lee into the elevator, Eliza checked his phone for any raves they were missing. A trip to Windenberg made a dent in their budget, but where else were they going to find fun and cheap alcoholic drinks sold to minors. Lee handed her a glass of red wine; as he disappeared into the crowd chasing a girl. Eliza stood awkwardly, stomping her feet to the rhythm, hesitant to taste the watery liquid. Vicky hollered, waving to her, with Emilia and Ziva, they headed her way, she stared at the glass, knocking back the contents as her aunts embraced her. She coughed the unexpected strength of the wine, knocking the wind from her. Her friend cringed, leaving Eliza to have her styled cramp by middle-aged women recapturing their youth.