Prom Nights from Hell Chapter Four part two

Prom Nights from Hell Chapter Four part two

Sibby Cumean started talking as soon as they got out of the airport.

“How long have you been driving people around?” she asked Miranda.

A year.

“Did you grow up here?”

“No.”

“Do you have any brothers?”

“No.”

“Any sisters?”

“N-no.”

“Do you like driving?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have to wear that boring black suit?”

“Yes.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty.”

“Um, not.”

“Fine. Eighteen.”

“Have you ever had sex?”

Miranda cleared her throat. “I don’t think that question is appropriate.” She heard herself sound like Dr. Trope, the assistant head of school, with the voice he used to tell her he wasn’t listening to another excuse about why she was late getting back to campus, rules were made for a reason and that reason wasn’t so she could flout them for her amusement; and speaking of late, did she plan at some point to decide what she was going to do next year or just irresponsibly forfeit her place at the several top-tier colleges she’d been accepted to, making the school look bad and herself look worse; and really he didn’t know what had gotten into her recently, where was the Miranda Kiss who was going to be a doctor and save the world, who was a credit to the school and herself, rather than the one who was on her way to being expelled-is that what you really want, young lady? A voice she knew well since she seemed to have been hearing it at least once a week since early November.

“You’re a virgin,” Sibby announced, like she was confirming a sad fact she’d long suspected.

“That’s not-”

“Do you at least have a boyfriend?”

“Not at this-”

“A girlfriend?”

“No.”

“Do you have any friends? You’re not really very good at conversation.”

Miranda was beginning to understand why the girl’s relatives hadn’t come to the airport for her.

“I have lots of friends.”

“Sure. I believe you. What do you do for fun?”

“Answer questions.”

“Please never try to be funny again.” Sibby leaned forward. “Have you ever thought of wearing some black eyeliner? It would be an improvement.”

B polite! “Thanks.”

“Can you pull up?”

“Um, we’re at a stoplight.”

“Just go forward a tiny-perfect.”

Looking in the side mirror, Miranda saw that Sibby had rolled down her window and was leaning out, saying now to the guys in the jeep next to them, “Where are you boys going?”

The guys answered, “A little moonlight surfing. Want to come, goddess?”

“I’m not a goddess. Do you think I look like one?”

“I can’t tell. Maybe if you take off your shirt.”

“Maybe if you give me a kiss.”

Miranda hit the button to roll up the window.

“What are you doing?” Sibby demanded. “You could have broken my hand.”

“Put your seat belt on, please.”

“Put your seat belt on, please,” Sibby mimicked, slumping back into the seat. “Oh my gods, I was just trying to be sociable.”

“Until we get to your destination, no more socializing.”

“Have you listened to yourself recently? You sound like you’re eighty, not eighteen.” She scowled at Miranda in the mirror. “I thought you were a driver, not a jailer.”

“It’s my job to make sure you get where you’re going in a safe and timely manner. That’s printed on the card you’ll find in your seat pocket, by the way.”

“How is kissing some boys going to make me unsafe?”

“A million different ways. What if they have an invisible mouth fungus? Or DeathLip.”

“There’s no such thing as DeathLip.”

“Are you sure?”

“You’re just jealous because I know how to have fun and you don’t. Virgin.”

Miranda rolled her eyes but kept quiet, listening to cell phone conversations from the cars behind them, a woman telling someone that the gardener was on his way, a guy saying in a mystical voice, “I see a mysterious stranger coming for you, I can’t quite tell if it’s a man or a woman.” Another man talking to someone about how he wanted to take that bitch out of the will and it didn’t matter if she was his mother’s favorite dog-

She was interrupted suddenly by Sibby shouting, “Inn-Out Burger! We have to stop.”

B accommodating!

Miranda agreed to let Sibby order her own at the drive-through, then regretted it when she heard the girl saying to the guy taking the order, “Do I get a discount if I let you kiss me?”

“Okay, seriously, were you raised on Crazycake? Why do you want to kiss all these guys you don’t even know?” Miranda asked.

“There aren’t that many boys where I come from. And what does knowing them have to do with it? Kissing is great. I kissed four boys on the airplane. I’m hoping to make it twenty-five before the end of the day.”

She added the two working the drive-through lane when she got her burger.

“Are all hamburgers that delicious?” she asked when they were on the road again.

Miranda glanced at her in the rearview mirror. “You’ve never had a burger before? Where do you live?”

“The mountains,” Sibby answered quickly, and Miranda picked up a slight rise in her heart rate, suggesting that she was lying and not used to it. Which seemed hugely unlikely-the not-used-to-it part-for someone who had a case of acute Boy Crazy like this girl. Her parents couldn’t possibly let her run around-

Oh So Very Much Not Your Problem, Miranda reminded herself. B discreet.

Sibby tried to solicit kisses from four other guys as they drove. They were a mile from the drop-off point and Miranda was thinking that the ride could not be over soon enough when Sibby shrieked, “Oh my gods, a doughnut store! I’ve always wanted to try doughnuts, too. Can we stop? Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?”

They were already almost an hour late but Miranda couldn’t deny anyone a doughnut. Even someone who said, “Oh my gods.” But pulling in, she saw a group of guys sitting at a table inside and decided that it would be dangerous to let Sibby near them if she wanted to get out of there in under forty minutes. “I’ll go in and get them, you stay here.”

Sibby had seen the guys, too. “No way, I’m coming in.”

“Either your butt stays in the car, Kissing Bandit, or the doughnuts stay in the store.”

“I don’t think that’s a nice way to talk to customers.”

“Feel free to use my phone to file a complaint while I’m inside. Do we have a deal?”

“Fine. But will you at least roll down the window?” Miranda hesitated. Sibby said, “Look, Grandma, I promise I’ll keep my butt in the car, I just don’t want to suffocate. Gods.”

When Miranda came out, Sibby had wedged herself in the window with her body and legs outside the car and her rear hanging back into it, and was deeply involved in kissing a blond guy.

“Excuse me,” Miranda said, tapping the guy on the shoulder.

He turned around kind of hazy, looked her up and down. “Hello, dream girl. You want a kiss, too? I could do something really special with lips like yours. You wouldn’t even have to pay me a dollar.”

“Thanks, but no.” Looking at Sibby now. “I thought we’d agreed that-”

” – my butt would stay in the car. Where, if you bothered to look, you would see it is.”

Miranda turned away so Sibby wouldn’t see her crack up.

She handed Sibby the doughnuts and slid into the driver’s seat. Once Sibby had wiggled back through the window, Miranda caught her eye in the rearview. “You were paying guys to kiss you?”

“So what?” Sibby glared. “Not all of us can get kissed for free.” More glaring, then, “You barely have boobs. My boobs are bigger than yours. It makes no sense.”

Sibby got quiet, not even eating her doughnut. From time to time she’d sigh dramatically.

Miranda started feeling a little sorry. Maybe she had been acting like a grandma. She looked at How to Get-And Kiss-Your Guy on the seat next to her. Maybe you’re jealous she’s four years younger than you but has already kissed more guys in one day than you’ll probably date in your whole life even if you get a boob job and live to be two trillion.

Shut up, U-Suck channel.

She should be nice, make conversation. “How many kisses is it total now?”

Sibby kept her eyes on her lap. “Ten.” Looking up to add, “But I only paid six of them. And one of them I only gave a quarter.”

“Nice work.”

Miranda saw Sibby look up suspiciously, like she thought she was being made fun of, decide she wasn’t, and start picking at her doughnut. After a while she said, “Can I ask you a question?”

“You’re asking permission now?”

“For real, just please stop trying to be funny. It’s painful.”

“Thanks for the hot tip. Did you have a question or-”

“Why didn’t you want to kiss that boy back there? The one who wanted to kiss you?”

“I guess he’s not my type.”

“What’s your type?”

Miranda thought of Deputy Reynolds-blue eyes and cleft jaw and shaggy blond hair, getting up every morning to go surfing. The kind of guy who always wore sunglasses or looked at you with his eyes half closed and was too cool for smiling. Then pictured Will with his dark, maple-syrup-color skin, short curly hair, huge boyish smile, and abs that rippled when he stood talking, shirtless, with the other players after lacrosse practice, body glimmering in the sun, his laugh ringing out and making her feel like she felt when she saw butter melting on perfectly cooked Belgian waffles.

Not that she routinely jumped up onto the roof of the marine biology lab when no one was looking to watch this. (Weekly.)

“I don’t know, it’s more a feeling than a type,” Miranda said finally.

“How many boys have you kissed? A hundred?”

“Uh, no.”

“Two hundred?”

Miranda felt herself blushing and hoped Sibby couldn’t see. “Keep guessing.”

They pulled up to the address she’d been given, an hour and fifteen minutes later than they should have, the first time she’d ever dropped a client off late.

When Miranda opened the car door for her, Sibby asked, “Is kissing a boy who’s your type really different than kissing just any boy?”

“It’s complicated.” Miranda was surprised at how relieved she was that she wouldn’t have to go into it more, admit to this girl that, actually, she had no idea.

The place looked more like a government safe house for witnesses than a home, she thought, walking Sibby to the door. It was like the dictionary definition of nondescript, sandwiched between a house with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves enacting the Nativity on the front lawn on one side, and one with a pink-and-orange swing set on the other. The only thing you noticed about this house was that there were thick curtains hanging in the front windows so you couldn’t see in, and a six-foot-tall solid wood fence blocking off the backyard so you couldn’t get in. The street was filled with noises-Miranda heard BBQs sizzling, conversations, someone watching Beauty and the Beast in Spanish-but this house was silent, as though it had been soundproofed.

She registered a low humming coming from the side, like an air conditioner but not quite. Glancing up, she saw that none of the power lines connected to this house. None of the phone lines, either. A generator. Whoever lived here was living off the grid. All in all, the whole place was really cozy, if cozy meant creepy and cultish.

And the woman who opened the front door? Exactly what you’d expect of someone creepy and cultish, Miranda thought. She had graying hair pulled back in a loose bun and was wearing a long skirt and kind of shapeless sweater. She could have been anywhere from thirty to sixty years old, it was impossible to tell because she was wearing a pair of huge bifocals with unflattering square frames that magnified her eyes and covered half her face. She looked completely harmless, like a schoolteacher who’d dedicated her life to caring for an aging relative and whose one indulgence was a secret crush on Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre.

Or almost like that. Like that was the look she’d been going for. But there was something wrong, some tiny thing that did not quite match, one tiny detail that wasn’t right.

So. Not. Your. Business.

Miranda said good-bye, took her $1.00 tip-“Because you were really quite late, dear”-and drove away.

She was half a block away when she slammed on the brakes and sprinted back to the house.