Daisy keeps her hands up between them, separating their bodies, but her eyelids continue to sag. She wobbles a little, but she stands upright. Is she drunk? But she barely drank anything, and this seems to be hitting her really hard all of a sudden.
Ryke edges forward into the “fighting area” and places a hand on Daisy’s shoulder. “Go.”
“They’re not punching each other here,” she tells him. “This is stupid.”
His lips find her ear, and I hear him say, “This isn’t your f**king fight, Daisy. Let it go.”
She weakly pushes him off, swaying too much, and then points at Bryan. “You think you’re a man?” she snorts. “You hit him and then what? The other guy hits you back and you’ll feel better?”
“Shut the f**k up,” Bryan tells her.
Ryke shoots him the worst possible glare, one that could seriously shift mountains. Then his eyes drop back to Daisy. “Move.”
She stares at Bryan in challenge. “You want to hit him? Get through me.”
“Daisy!” I shout. Yep, she wants to be hit. To feel something, maybe. I don’t know, but she’s scaring me.
And that’s when Tan Guy charges from behind. Ryke shoves her out of the way, and she falls on her knees while he takes a punch to the jaw. I shimmy around the crowd, people cheering and grimacing as Bryan knees Tan Guy and Ryke tries to fight his way out of their feud.
Daisy has already picked herself up off the floor, wiping her hands on her green army jacket. “Lily?” she stumbles into my chest. We push our way out towards the kitchen area, able to breathe in the open air.
“Are you crazy?” I yell at her. “You don’t provoke guys to hit you.”
She loops a weak arm around my shoulder. “You think Mom would have been mad if I ruined my pretty face?” She laughs lightly and it quickly dies off. She blinks repeatedly, as though she sees stars or black spots. “Lily?”
“What’s wrong?” I ask her in a high-pitched voice. I shake her shoulder.
“I don’t know…something’s…not right…”
“Are you drunk?” What a stupid question to ask.
Ryke breaks through the crowd, a red welt blooming on his cheekbone. “That was the dumbest f**king thing I’ve seen in a long time.”
She turns around very, very slowly. “Who’s stupid? Them or me?” She keeps blinking, and he stares at her for a long moment, seeing the oddness in her movements.
“Perfect,” she says. “Are you okay?” Her eyes slowly move to his welt.
“Perfect,” he murmurs, still inspecting her state. “You know, you have pretty huge balls.”
“The biggest.” Her lips pull into a dry smile, but it falls with her eyelids.
“Daisy?” His worried voice drives knives into my stomach.
Her knees give out. And he grabs underneath her arms before she hits the floor.
“What the fuck?” I say, my heart hammering.
He lifts her up, and her head lolls back, her arms hanging lifelessly by her side.
“Daisy.” Ryke’s hard eyes narrow, and he taps her face lightly. “Daisy, look at me.” Nothing. He pinches her cheeks together and shakes her head a little. She’s out of it.
I put two fingers to her neck and feel a weak pulse. “I don’t understand. She had a beer and one glass of punch.” Well, one and a half but I doubt that half mattered in the grand scheme of things. Right?
Ryke rests his ear to her chest, feeling for the rise and fall of her ribs. “She’s breathing, but it’s slow.”
Okay. I bite my nails, trying to figure what could have happened. This isn’t drunk. I know what drunk looks like, and this…this is not it.
Ryke adjusts Daisy in his arms so he has a better hold on her, and then he pulls one of her eyelids up. “Her pupils are dilated.” His jaw hardens to stone. “Who poured her punch?”
My mouth slowly falls. “You think someone drugged her?”
“I know someone f**king drugged her.”
Jack. I scan the room and land on the black-haired guy in the kitchen. He leans against the refrigerator, pushing the magnets around with his buddy to spell lick my prick.
Ryke follows my gaze, clenching his teeth. “That him?”
“Support her for me,” Ryke says, setting my sister’s limp feet on the ground. He rests her chest against my body, and I wrap my arms around her waist, keeping her somewhat upright so she won’t thud to the floor.
“What are you going to go do?” I ask. Beat the shit out of him? Have a civil conversation? Throttle him for answers? There are so many choices.
That wasn’t much of a reply.
Before I can ask again, Ryke enters the kitchen with a dark scowl. The first thing he does: shove a muscular arm at Jack, pinning him against the refrigerator with his bicep cutting at his windpipe. The colorful magnets slide off the fridge and clatter to the floor.
“What the fuck?!” Jack curses with an English lilt. He tries to escape Ryke’s strong hold, but Ryke presses his weight against him, looking about ready to rip out Jack’s throat.
“What’d you put in her drink?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, glancing at his buddy nearby. The kid tries to cut in and put a hand on Ryke’s shoulder, but Ryke flashes him a deadly glare.
“You f**king touch me, and I’ll break his neck.”
My eyes widen, partly believing the threat. His friend throws up his hands, backing away.
Ryke turns on Jack again. “My friend’s sister, Daisy, has been drugged. You poured her drink. So I want you to tell me what the f**k you put in it.”
Realization starts to process in his features. “Oh shit, mate. She’s smashed?” He tries to look over Ryke’s shoulder to see Daisy, but Ryke smacks the side of his face. “Jesus! Okay, okay, you don’t have to hit me. I’ll tell you what you want to know.” He grimaces a little, guilty. “We put GHB in the punch, but it’s only enough to get high…that’s it. I honestly didn’t think anyone would pass out from it.”
“Yeah?” Ryke sneers. “Everyone’s body reacts differently to drugs. She weighs, what, one-twenty? Don’t you think it would hit her harder than you? Use your f**king brain.”
“Okay,” he swallows. “Okay, you’re right, mate. I will next time. Brain power on.”
Ryke eases off him. “And warn the girls at your party what’s in the punch, especially if you’re going to put a date rape drug in it.”
“Got it.” He nods stiffly.
Ryke rolls his eyes, still pissed. He walks back to me and effortlessly lifts Daisy’s limp body in his arms. He gathers her hands and sets them on her chest so she doesn’t look like a dead person. I’m stuck in a state of shock. The series of events tonight have electrocuted my mind. I feel dumb. Just dumb. Not even silly dumb.
Ryke stops outside the kitchen and yells at the crowd, “For anyone who doesn’t f**king know, there are drugs in the punch! Have a happy f**king New Year!”
I slam the door on our way out, adding to the dramatic exit. Hopefully Ryke’s statement helped someone tonight. Maybe it won’t, but there’s not much more we can do without ruining everyone’s time and being complete buzz kills.
We head down the elevator and out of the apartment complex. “How far away is your car?” I ask as we walk along the sidewalk. The roads are crammed with vehicles and cabs. Brave souls dressed in night clothes walk in between the stopped traffic, going places but never getting there fast enough.
“Not too far. I paid to park in a deck,” he explains, picking up his brisk stride. I try to keep up.
“How is she?”
His eyes flicker down to her and back up. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Google GHB symptoms for me.”
Fear pricks me, and I scroll on my cell, typing quickly. “Uhh…unconsciousness.” Duh. “…slow breathing, weak heart rate…” My eyes begin to bug at the series of words: lowered body temperature, vomiting, nausea, seizures, coma, death. Death. “We need to get to a hospital now!” I begin to frantically type in 9-1-1. I end up dialing 8-2-2. Dammit!
“Hey, slow down for a second. Put the phone away, and tell me the other symptoms, Lily.”
“Um, seizure, coma, death…” I think I might vomit.
“Well, she’s not having a seizure. She’s not in a coma, and she sure as hell isn’t dead. So stop freaking out.” He adjusts Daisy in his arms. “She’s really f**king cold.”
I snap my fingers and spring on the balls of my feet. “That was one. Lowered body temperature is a symptom.”
His eyes darken. “Anything else you’re keeping from me?”
Think. “Uhh...vomiting and nausea. That’s it.”
He nods. “I’ll drive her to the hospital. She’ll be fine. Just, don’t have a panic attack in the street. Think you can do that?”
I glare. “Yes.”
Thankfully we reach the dimly lit parking deck and approach his Infinity that’s squeezed in between a Mini Cooper and a BMW. “My keys are in my pocket,” he tells me.
I glance at his pants pocket. Near his crotch.
He rolls his eyes. “Now’s not the time to be perverted, Calloway.”
“Right,” I say, reaching in, my cheeks flaming. He doesn’t look happy about me digging near his penis either. I pull out his set of keys and press the unlock button. The car honks and blinks to life, the taillights flashing.
“Get in the passenger seat, and I’ll put Daisy on your lap,” he tells me. I do as he says, and he sets my gangly sister on the seat with me. I drape her long legs to the side and put my hand to her head, clammy and cold. I rest her cheek to my chest. In this moment, I feel solely responsible for her.
“To the hospital,” I remind him.
“I know.” He turns the key into the ignition and pulls onto the street. Only five minutes in, and we’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. So many people wander on the roads that they thud into Ryke’s car and throw confetti at the windshield.
I keep my fingers pressed to Daisy’s wrist, checking her pulse every few seconds.
As we sit in silence, I watch girls on the side streets, swaying as they walk in heels, their guys keeping an arm underneath them so they don’t face-plant on the cement. The couples remind me of Lo—only I would have been the one holding him upright. Not the other way around.
Last year, I wore this sparkly silver dress and decided to be pantyless the entire night. I thought it’d be easier for a quickie in the bathroom with Mr. Random. In retrospect, it was a bad, bad idea. I danced all night at a fancy club and was too inebriated to realize that I flashed the crowds with every hop.
Lo ended up dancing beside me, keeping a hand on my shoulder to ease my Kangaroo springs. He even tugged down the back of my dress for me. Near midnight, he offered to give me his underwear, which I promptly declined. I love the whole memory—even if it’s a royally f**ked up one. The only thing I try to forget is the end of that night. Where he booked a room at the Ritz to pass out in, and I slinked into a bedroom one floor below to screw some guy.