One Tiny Lie (Ten Tiny Breaths, #2)(9)

“Maybe it was the brick wall Ashton had you pinned against while he was diving for second base?” Kacey murmurs with a devilish smile.

“I don’t remember anything!” I yell, but my cheeks flush. Basically, all I do remember about last night involves touching or leaning against or kissing Ashton. “Why him?” I cry out, my hands covering my face as another burst of embarrassment colors my face.

“Oh . . . Livie girl. Who knew a few dozen Jell-O shooters would unleash the beast hiding within?”

Livie girl . . . My brow furrows, another eerie wave of familiarity settling over me. It’s what my dad always called me, but why does that remind me of last night?

“Here . . . This may help.” Kacey hands me her phone.

With a shaky hand and a sinking stomach, I start flipping through the photo album. “Who are all of these people? And why am I hugging them?”

“Oh, they’re your best friends. You love them,” she explains with a matter-of-fact raised brow. “At least, that’s what you kept telling them last night.”

“I did not!” I gasp. And then I pinch my lips together with my hand as more hazy memories swarm me. I did. I remember saying that word. A lot. Why couldn’t I just lose my voice? Or have someone cut my tongue off for me? The thought of a tongue brings me back to Ashton and I groan. Did I tell him that I loved him too? Is that why this happened?

I go back to flipping through the pictures to distract the blush from creeping up my face. There’s a close-up of a guy with a kilt and a bagpipe, his arm around Kacey. I flip to the next to see Kacey pointing intentionally at his kilt, her eyebrows arched questioningly. “What’s he doing at a toga—” I begin to ask but then flip to the next picture and gasp.

“That’s called ‘going traditional,’” Kacey explains.

With a deep frown and a shaking head, I keep moving through the pictures and I feel my face lose more blood by the shot. Kacey and I are hugging in most of them. In some, we look like we’re trying to seduce the camera with wagging tongues and wild eyes. Every once in a while, Reagan’s big grin shows up alongside us.

“Oh no . . .” It’s funny how just a photo can trigger a memory. That’s exactly what happens when the picture of myself pointing to a sign that says “Inky’s” appears. “Ohmigod!” I’ve said that at least ten times this morning. “Oh God, oh God, oh God . . .” I mutter frantically as I flip through the next pictures, hoping my mind is playing tricks on me. Nope! Sure enough, there I am, straddling a chair, holding my hair and the top of my toga to the side as a burly man in black leather pants and covered in ink grips a tattoo gun behind me. I stare at the picture, my mouth hanging open. That explains why my back is so sore. “How could you let this happen, Kacey!” I hiss, hysteria kicking in.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Kacey interjects, snatching the phone from my hand. She quickly finds a video file and hits play before shoving the phone back in my face. I’m all smiles in it, though my mouth and eyes look a little droopy. “I will not hold my sister, Kacey Cleary, accountable for my actions when I wake up!” I declare with resounding clarity.

I hear Kacey’s excited voice as she responds. “Even though I warned you that you would not be happy about this in the morning, right? And that you would try to blame me?” She doesn’t slur when she’s drunk either.

“That’s right!” My hand flies up in the air and the artist stops for a moment to place my arm back down and order me not to move. He goes back to work and I say, “I demand the right to have a tattoo because I, Olivia Cleary”—I jab myself in the chest with my thumb like a caveman, earning another pause and annoyed glance from the artist—“am a super badass.”

My hand holding the phone falls to the side of the bed as I rub my eyes. “How could that guy tattoo me in good conscience? I mean, look at me!” I thrust the phone in her face. “I was drunk! Isn’t that illegal?”

“I don’t know about illegal—it probably is—but it’s definitely frowned upon,” Kacey admits.

I cringe, my stomach curling. “Well, then, how did—”

“He’s a friend of Ashton’s.”

I throw my hands up in the air. “Well, that’s just great! Because he’s reputable. What if they used dirty needles? Kacey!” My eyes widen. “People catch HIV and hepatitis from those places! How could you let—”

“It’s a legit, clean place. Don’t worry,” Kacey muttered in that calm but annoyed tone she uses on the rare occasions that I get hysterical. “I wasn’t as drunk as you. I knew what was going on.”

“How? You had a shot in your face every time I looked at you!”

She snorts. “Because my tolerance for booze is slightly higher than yours. I promised Stayner I’d stay lucid.”

“Stayner.” I shake my head. “What kind of psychiatrist masterminds his patient getting blitzed to the point of tattoos and random make-out sessions?”

“The completely unorthodox and therefore brilliant kind?” Kacey responds with a severe stare. Her response doesn’t surprise me. In my sister’s eyes, Dr. Stayner can turn water into wine. “And he didn’t have anything to do with that, Livie. He just told you to go have fun. You did all this on your own.”

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