Ash says she's the Dark Queen of the Damned. I say I'm the Empress of the Undead. My dad, passing by the bathroom where we're getting ready, takes one look and declares us Two Weird Girls from Jersey.
"That'll work," Ash says.
Tonight, we're Goth. We've got the layers of black mesh shirts, the cargo pants rolled up to the knees, the ripped fishnets, the combat boots, the white face makeup and the smudgy rings of eyeliner. Ash brought a can of black hair spray, but she's already used most of it on her curly brown hair. "Not sure if there's enough left for you, Rapunzel."
"Shut up and start spraying," I say. My hair is blond, and long enough to tuck into the back of my cargoes. Ash blackens the strands around my face and puts skunky streaks all around the back. The noise scares Cat Stevens—aka Stevie, The Furminator, and Mr. Honey Head—who is watching us from his perch on the toilet tank. He jumps down and dashes out of the bathroom.
"What did you do to Stevie?" my mom calls. I hear her murmuring, "Poor baby kitty. Little marmalade man."
After Ash finishes, we crowd the mirror. "We are so hot," she says. And we are. Dark and freaky and brooding, the way vampires might look. I should like it more than I do. My black bra doesn't fit right, and the straps dig into my shoulders. The fishnets itch. It's a stupidly warm night, and I'm already sweating. Plus, I've got on so much mascara that when I blink, my lashes spike my skin.
It's different for Ash. She's sort of Goth-y anyway, with her pierced eyebrow and sharp cheekbones and the German swearwords courtesy of her Deutsch grandma. I lean closer to the mirror. "I should have bought contacts. In the store, I saw these green lenses with slanted pupils, kind of like a lizard."
Ash frowns. "You have the coolest eyes on the planet. Amber."
"Right," I say. "Like that stuff insects get caught in."
"Plus," she says, ignoring me, "you don't get contacts for one Halloween party." Ash blinks her own dark eyes, lush as melted chocolate. "And you can stop being so cranky, please."
"Sorry." I bite my lip. "Can you believe this is our last Halloween together?"
Ash's hands fly up. "Enough with the 'Can you believe this is our last whatever?' stuff. It's October. We've got like eight whole months of school left."
"More like seven."
"Six if you count vacations," I say.
"Audrey, the key word is 'months.' Besides," she says, digging her elbow into my side, "there are more important things to worry about right now."
"Like a certain person by the name of Luke DeSalvio, who I'm sure will be at Joelle's tonight. You remember him."
"Oh," I say. "Right."
"Listen to her!" says Ash. "Oh, right. Like you aren't about to explode all over this bathroom."
"Yeah, well. Like you're always reminding me, it's not serious. We're just friends," I say.
"With benefits," says Ash, her voice low so my parents can't hear it. "Anyone for tongue sushi?"
I smile but don't answer. This is Ash, the girl whose name is always mentioned in the same breath as mine: AshandAudrey, AudreyandAsh. But there's so much I haven't told her, and now I don't even know where to start. What I do know: me and Luke aren't friends, me and Luke aren't anything. I had decided I would tell him this tonight, if the subject ever came up. But we never did do much talking.
"There will be lots of guys at the party," I say. "Who knows? Maybe I'll branch out a little."
"Really?" Ash says. "Well, well. I guess someone's got a brain in her head after all."
Her phone bleats like a sheep and she grabs for it, looks at the screen. "Picture mail," she says. She presses a few buttons and the image pops up. "My baby brother in his Spider-Man costume."
I look over her shoulder. "Cute."
"Please. The boy's a demon from hell. Last week, he actually peed in one of the houseplants." Ash tosses the phone back on the sink and shakes her head in the mirror. "The spray looks great on you, but it makes my hair look like ramen noodles."
That makes me laugh a little. "Squid-ink ramen noodles," I say.
"You have to get your parents to take you to normal restaurants once in a while. Pizza, anyone?"
"We go out for pizza. Of course, it's the kind with a cornmeal crust and gobs of goat cheese."
"Goats!" says Ash.
My not-quite-normal parents are waiting for us in the living room with two glasses of wine and a digital camera—the wine for them, the camera for us. Usually, I hate all the pictures. I don't need anyone documenting my awkward teenage years. Tonight my dad insists and for once I'm okay with it, maybe because I don't look much like me anymore. My dad has us pose on the antique church pew against the yellow wall. He backs up and almost falls over the coffee table. My mom laughs and takes a sip of wine, shining and velvet in the light. They love this part, the part when I'm getting ready to go out but I haven't left yet. I wonder if it will be hard for them when I'm off at college. Besides Cat Stevens, I'm all they've got.
"Okay, girls," my dad says. "Look Gothic!"
"Goth, Dad," I say. "Not Gothic."
"Sorry," he says. "Ready? Say 'Goat cheese!'"
Because it's my dad, we both yell "Goat cheese!" In the picture, we've got the black hair, the white skin, and the bruise-colored lips, but we're both grinning like five-year-olds. Ash takes one look at the picture and says, "We've got to work on our attitudes, girl. We've got to think dark thoughts."Good Girls RB/SB. Copyright © by Laura Ruby. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Good Girls by Laura Ruby
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