Little strips of tissue floated down to the floor in a mess that Josie knew her mother would have a fit over if she saw. Her fingers worked endlessly at the tissue, rolling and tearing bits off of it in an anxious gesture that she had never quite gotten under control. It was unladylike if her parents were to be believed, and gave too much away. But the box of tissues was right there and she was tucked away in a balcony where no one could see her anyway.
It was maddening. Josie knew she shouldn’t be up here, basically hiding from everyone, and overthinking. She didn’t have that right. She didn’t have the right to even be remotely upset about this situation. The whole thing was her own fault. She was the one who was convinced it would be better to wait, to push every single one of her parents’ buttons when it came to her lack of suitors just so she could wait for this one to finish school.
He’d brought a date. The very thought had her fingers clenching, trying to keep from shredding the tissue too quickly. It would be rude to shred the whole box worth. She hoped the help wouldn’t be too upset when they found the mess.
“I would say green isn’t your color, Josephine, if you weren’t wearing it.” Josie nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of her sister’s voice from over her shoulder. Beverly was second only to their brother in skill when it came to sneaking up on people, and that was because she so preferred the dramatics. “Shall I be more direct?”
“No,” Josie sighed, her fingers going still when her sister claimed the armchair next to her, smoothing out the fabric over her dark green dress. Beverly didn’t need to get any more direct than the knowing look in her gaze. She knew that jealousy wasn’t a good look but she couldn’t help it.
Her sister didn’t say anything for a moment, just quietly sipped on her glass of bubbly and eyed the mess on the floor. This was one of their favorite places to hide when the parties dragged on. They could still listen to the music and watch all the people but far enough way they could relax without the pressures of society. Which made it perfect for Josie to wallow.
“I have an idea,” Beverly’s voice was calm, even as she picked up the box of tissues from the small table between them and tossed it down the hall. There was a small moment of silence as both girls listened to it bounce and thump against a wall somewhere. “Why don’t you go down there and tell Wallace how you really feel? Enough of this waiting around.”
Just the thought of doing that made Josie’s heart pound and she was shaking her head before Beverly had even finished. There was no way, no way in hell she could do that. “He brought a date, Bev, I’m not going to go ruin that girl’s night just because her presence irks me.”
“Besides the fact we all know he’s been hung up on your since we were children, I was informed that it wasn’t a date,” Beverly held out her glass and Josie took it, relinquishing the last of her tissue to Beverly’s other waiting hand. While she sipped gratefully from the glass, Beverly tucked the last chunk out of sight and sat up so that she could see the crowd better. “Though, he probably should have made that clear with that poor girl.”
Despite already knowing what she’d see, Josie’s eyes followed her sister’s line of sight to the pair in question. Wallace was in his element, he thrived on the fun of parties and this one was no exception. He spoke with his hands when he was excited, so she knew he was in the middle of some story from the way he moved.
The girl at his side though made her wish for the tissue back. Just to give herself something else to focus on than the adoration in those pretty blue eyes. They’d been introduced, Josie had done her part as the hosts’ daughter and made conversation with everyone before she made her escape, but Josie couldn’t remember that girls name for the life of her. In her defense, she’d been in a bit of a daze when she realized that Wallace had a girl on his arm.
“I’m not ruining her night,” Josie finally murmured, ignoring Beverly’s snort in favor of downing what was left in the glass. She didn’t have a right to anything. Josie and Wallace weren’t dating, in fact, she’d artfully avoided dating in favor of giving him the time and space to finish school before telling him how she really felt. If he ended up with another girl before that day, then it was not meant to be.
She couldn’t hold him to things he’d said when they were children, that would be silly. They’d lingered though, his feelings, had become more obvious over the years and she’d found it harder to keep silent about her own. Moments like these, where she knew that other women saw how amazing he was, made her wish she had. Then it wouldn’t be a question anymore. She’d know if he really wanted her or if it was just a boyhood crush on a girl who never gave him a yes or no answer to their relationship.
Meeting Beverly’s gaze, one shoulder rose and fell in a lopsided shrug. The movement caused the strap of her dress to drop and she thanked the universe for the small reason to look away again. “She obviously likes him and is having fun, I don’t have the right to go and spoil that.”
“I beg to differ. They’re all having fun down there and you’re here, shredding tissues because you’re jealous. So go down there and get him.”
“Leave it alone, Bev, it’ll pass and I’ll come back down.” The promise sounded weak, even to her own ears, but she tried anyway. It wasn’t the first time she’d retreated here to take a break and calm down the green-eyed monster that had taken hold.
“The two of you are so stupid. Can’t be honest with each other or yourselves.” Beverly’s voice was sharp but Josie refused to flinch. At least she hoped she did. The words stung more this time since they were the same ones she’d been telling herself for awhile now. “You both are cowards; don’t give me that look Josephine, I meant what I said. This needs to stop.”
Blinking in surprise, Josie only stared in confusion as her sister marched over to snatch her glass back and then disappear into the hall with little more than a swish of fine fabric. She was used to sharp words and her sister getting annoyed with this dance that they’d been doing, but Beverly had never reacted quite that way. Had never marched away like that.
“Oh no,” the last small pieces of tissues flew from her lap as she shot to her feet, the mess on the floor scattering with the hem of her dress. Beverly, and their younger brother Blaise, had both been telling her the same thing for months now; that she needed to just come clean with Wallace. However, it was Beverly that had threatened just a few weeks back that if Josie couldn’t keep it together, then she was the one who was going to spill the beans. “Bev!” Rushing down the hall, she could only hope to catch up to Beverly before she made it back to the party. Unfortunately, there were a lot of routes and only one of her. “Beverly! Get back here!”