The pain in Trevor’s lower left abdomen slightly eased as he was hurriedly placed on the gurney. He turned to Isabella as she spoke her words of comfort even though they didn’t seem to be very promising, considering the situation. A small weak smile made it’s way to his lips as he assured her he’d be fine. “Darling, only the good die young.” Trevor winked at her as he brought up the old inside joke between the two of them, where they always said Trevor wouldn’t have to worry about death any time soon if Billy Joel was right. It wasn’t a shock that he had remembered, he might have stopped talking to Isabella but it wasn’t like he forgot everything about the two of them, after all they did know each other since they were little kids. Trevor didn’t even know why exactly he stopped talking to her, but somewhere between what happened with Christine and how Chase turned out, he had completely ditched the long friendship Isabella and he had built. Trevor held his side as the nurses guided him to a room where he was greeted by doctors who were already prepared to do whatever Trevor needed. He saw a nurse give him anesthesia and vaguely heard someone tell him he’d be with the surgeons so they could work on the wound. A few moments passed and he couldn’t fight it any longer as the anesthesia took over and everything went black.
Three hours, 2 blood transfusions, and 17 stitches later, Trevor’s eyes fluttered open. The lights were off and signs of early morning filled the cold room. Trevor was confused as to where he was before the memories of the fight and arriving at the hospital came flooding back to him. As the boy awakened, he let his eyes examine the room. It was plain and simple, on his left he found that he was attached to a few wires and an I.V. and on his right he noticed two gray chairs. One holding his folded bloody clothes and the other with a black jacket hanging from it’s arm. Trevor was confused as to who the jacket belonged to, he wasn’t sure if Isabella had stayed or if she told his parents. He hoped for the first option because he didn’t need to hear about how ‘his friends were bad influences’ and how ‘this is what happens when you don’t listen to your parents’. The slight pain in his side registered and he lifted his thin gray blanket, peering down to see what the doctors had done to him. He moved his hospital gown gently and ran his fingers over his stitches, thankfully whatever medicine he was on was working and the slight stinging sensation was much more bearable than before the surgery. He heard the door click open and his head snapped up towards the noise. Silence fell upon the room as Trevor’s eyes met Isabella’s and he waited for her to say something, expecting her to blow up on him about how much danger he put himself in and how if the conditions were bad enough, he could’ve died.
There was slight surgery that had been done on Trevor, upon the doctor’s request, Isabella stayed in the waiting room, the clock slowing and quickening as every minute passed. At a few hours past midnight, the room was barely empty, bawling parents stuck to the corner while sniffling patients were scattered in seats, eyes red and puffy from post-breakdown. Everything was big, from the blue marble vinyl on the floor and the uncomfortable beige leather armrests, making her feel extremely.. small. Not only small, but alone, as she was slowly buried alive in a casket of worry and wonder, like what on earth they could be doing to Trevor and why his parents weren’t around. Why had he called him anyway, and not his parents, or a closer friend of his? Was she the honest choice or was she just a plan B, because he knew that she would keep this a secret? Thoughts washed in and out of Isabella like red tides, only leaving her to close her eyes for a moment before the sound of the waiting room’s vending machine awoke her.
Two hours later, Isabella was called in by the doctor, taking one last look at the clock before she left down to the white corridors. She fucking hated hospitals, no doubt.
She had fallen asleep at his bed side, seeking refuge in the smaller chair, but granted with comfortable support. It was amazing how she was victim to slumber under such grand circumstances anyway, but seeing Trevor at peace like that was contagious like a yawn. But she was awakened by the doctor and his stethoscope at the hour of six a.m., who was evidently convinced she was his cousin. Isabella flashed a groggy grin towards him and stepped out of the room, leaving behind a sleeping patient. A few minutes later, she had come back with a coffee and danish, the most appealing thing in the hospital cafeteria; though she hadn’t had much of an appetite, anyway. It was her surprise, upon entering the room, that Trevor was awake. “Oh,” she cleared her throat, walking towards him slowly. Isabella grabbed for the jacket she had placed upon the back of the chair and wrapped it around her shoulders; she took a seat where her jacket was. “Morning there, sleepyhead.” A slightly warm smile lingered on her lips. “Coffee, danish? How are you?” At the moment, she couldn’t have cared less about the hate she had for him; it had been placed to the side of the shelf, where concern was abundant.
Trevor’s jagged breathing echoed through the vast darkness around him and he leaned his head against the building that served as his support. His hands clutched at his left side while the throbbing pain shot through him once more. The young boy’s jaw clenched tightly as he sneaked a look at his hands. Blood. Blood everywhere. Trevor let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and returned to his original position. He’d never admit it, but for once, Trevor was scared. Minutes felt like hours as the time dragged on, every second a little more of Trevor’s will was being taken over by fear. The sound of Trevor’s heartbeat was sickening, he could hear it taunting him, feeling it throughout his entire body. His body was growing weaker and his breathing was growing slower, when finally, he was brought back to reality by a slamming car door and the bright headlights to go with it. Sure, Trevor had gotten into trouble like this a few times before, but never had he been hurt badly enough to need help. He was Trevor Keane, he didn’t need anyone’s help, he could easily manage on his own. But right now, if he didn’t get that help, he knew it wouldn’t be long until he was out cold. That’s where Isabella came in. Granted, he blatantly ignored her for about half of their high school career and she now hated him for it, but he didn’t know who else to call. She was the only person that he was sure would help him at a time like this. And after all, desperate needs called for desperate measures. In his hazy state, Trevor couldn’t exactly tell what was going on but he could tell he was being helped up. He winced and groaned quietly as his wound stretched while he stood up. They made their way to the car and the pain pulled him out of dozing off back into the hazy state. Soon enough, he was strapped into Isabella’s passenger seat and she was in the one beside him. “He wasn’t supposed to, to bring a knife. That’s playing dirty. I guess he’s just a pussy.” Trevor gripped the side of the car tightly as another shot of pain ran through him. His voice was quiet and his words were broken up, but he kept going, “But the Police came. Let us off with a warning. I don’t, don’t think they saw that I got stabbed. And then they left. And he ran.” Trevor turned his head to look at the blonde girl next to him, “I’m sorry, Bells. I didn’t, didn’t know who else to call.”
Trevor’s muted sounds of pain grew seemingly louder against the white noise of the radio, each and every wince and groan travelling through Isabella’s own veins, as if she could feel the hurt that he had. She never liked it when he got himself in trouble, but he was always there to pick up the pieces; this time around, she needed to, and for once, the hate that wallowed inside her felt like elastic. It stretched wider and smaller, and she didn’t know whether or not it was the smell of blood that caused it or the anxiety that breathed through the air vents of the car. Maybe it was both. Isabella glanced over at Trevor every other syllable that he ached to breathe, inwardly reminding herself to keep her eyes on the road. This was her moment to be his savior, be the absolution he wished for, no matter how much he fucked up tonight; he was stabbed and practically left for dead.
"Mm-mm, it’s okay. Don’t talk right now," she shook her head, thinning her lips as she drove the bumpy streets on the way to the hospital; the roads were dead, she sped up with reckless abandon. It was beyond Isabella’s knowledge of who exactly did this to Trevor, but she knew one thing for sure, and that was that he needed immediate medical attention. She passed by every sign, took every exit, that soon led her to the hospital parking lot of the emergency room while Smashing Pumpkins guided their way through. Once parked by the entrance, Isabella made subconscious haste to step out of her seat and grab for Trevor from his own, being mindful of his wounds as she wrapped him around her shoulder again. From the way he was limping and perhaps in a state of painful hysteria, he grew heavy, but it wasn’t long before nurses rushed out with a gurney. "Everything’s gonna be okay, Trev, I promise. Okay?"
She whispered in his ear before they took him away, but she insisted on following, tears not falling from her cheeks but she could feel them coming. She never let them fall, maybe because she needed to be strong for him; besides, if the situation was made tense, then Trevor would’ve had a smaller chance of surviving. Small stab wound or not, traces of blood were still on her clothes and the passenger seat of her car.
There was no telling why Isabella was doing this. She vowed to never talk to him just as he had done the same, just as he had ignored her and avoided her in the halls where her greetings would be left alone. After a while, her hand wouldn’t raise to wave anymore, and Trevor Keane became another face she’d pass by in the library or lend a pen to in class; their friendship single-handedly deteriorated. It wasn’t catastrophic, it wasn’t a certain supernova in the sky, but what makes it so terrible and devastating was that it was absolutely silent; like they never existed in each other’s lives. Isabella was okay with that, all until yesterday when he began to speak to her like old times; and now, he was calling her up in the dark of the night, giving her another reason to be an insomniac. She didn’t know why she was doing this, but there was something inside her that pulled on the tethers she and Trevor had together, as if letting her know that their connection still existed.
An afterglow of rain illuminated the pavements and sidewalks that Isabella drove past on her way to PS36, a place she passed by in her jogs and knew like the back of her hand. Due to the time, it was quiet in the streets, almost eerie under the white lampposts; and the Marilyn Manson that played like radio static wasn’t helping much either. Her thumb tap tap tapped at the steering wheel, and her teeth constantly bit down on her lip, drawing blood without hesitance as she grew even more anxious. What was Trevor doing that caused him to bleed profusely or rest against a building? He was hurt, in need of a hospital, and Isabella was driving like a mad man without a care in the world. She went sixty and was at that brick building like lightning, parking the car with a sudden jolt and slamming the door on her way out.
As she had expected, Trevor was limp against the cold brick, half-asleep or awake, she couldn’t tell. Her heart beat rapidly like commas and apostrophes altogether as she walked towards him, wrapping her arm over his shoulder and helping him up. “Oh, God,” Isabella felt warmth against her shirt; she liked to guess it was something else other than blood as she walked towards her car’s passenger seat. “What happened, tell me who did this to you. You’ll be fine, I swear, I swear.” her words of comfort didn’t go out with as much clarity as she had anticipated, because God, was she scared herself.
Mason felt a tad uncomfortable that the conversation was mainly about him, but he answered anyway, being careful not to mention anything about his bipolar disorder. “If I were to put any reason behind it I guess it was because of my past — psychological trauma. When I was a kid something happened…” The memories replayed in his mind like an old movie, in black in white. Flash. Darkness. Flash. Pain. Flash. Loneliness. “It’s the real reason why I can’t sleep, the insomnia really drains me. Sometimes my body can’t fight it any longer though… that’s why I slept so late today…” So many things Mason wasn’t telling her. Getting torn out of bed. Kicked the livin’ crap out of. Torture. Mental torture. He wanted to change the subject, it was getting too deep. He trusted her, but this wasn’t the place and time to be talking about fucked up childhoods. The waitress returned with their food, smiled, and walked off. Mason hesitated before looking back up at Izzy, he was just waiting for the moment when she would start judging him or worse, pitying him. He didn’t need a pity party to make himself feel better over the things he could have never controlled.
What Mason had come out with at his own pace was nothing that Isabella had anticipated, nor something she expected. For a moment she was lost in her words and couldn’t think of saying a coherent sentence without having to constantly trip over her tongue; but honestly, there wasn’t really anything she could say. She wasn’t going to barge in his life and feel sorry for him, let alone judge him; because it wasn’t in her place, and it wasn’t the time. The only thing she could say she was sorry about was the fact that she brought it up, cursing herself for perhaps reviving unwanted memories, but it was nothing she could take back. They were just acquaintances enjoying a late dinner and nothing called for a certain depth in their conversation; but it was Isabella’s fault this time. Her lips parted to say something, but the waitress came by with their food and stole her breath before she could speak. Adjusting the basket of a burger and fries, Isabella sat up, giving Mason a close-mouthed smile. “Let’s eat up, okay?” she nodded at him, hopefully sending him a notion that she did understand, but for his own sake, wouldn’t pry on further about it. A smooth transition of topics was in order. “So, man, it’s been a while since I’ve had on of these.” Isabella picked up the burger with two hands and shot her companion a wide grin.
”Oh and I’ll have the same,” he quickly said to the waitress before she dashed off. It came out sort of awkward but he wasn’t too worried about it. Plus if the waitress was stupid enough to bring her food out instead of waiting for both their orders he didn’t want to make Izzy feel uncomfortable about whether she should eat before him or not. The waitress nodded and walked off. Cute. Mason and cute didn’t seem to click together in his head. More like strange and bizarre. “Almost every night I guess… I try not to do it on school nights because it causes a lot of trouble but sometimes I can’t help but feel like escaping you know?” He hoped he wasn’t being such a chatter box and annoying her with his absurd ideas of dark alleyways at night and turning up at stranger’s houses. Thinking it over, it was probably unwise and dangerous… but he found a thrill in it and it helped him cope with his problems.
"You can’t help the wanderlust, can you?" Isabella inquired rhetorically, a grin playing on her lips after the waitress walked back to the kitchen, placing their orders. She sat up a bit closer, resting her forearms on her side of the table, hoping it wasn’t too much of a bother for Mason to deal with; she just happened to have a strange sort of posture when she listened intently. "Do you mind if I ask why you do it? There’s a reason behind everything. But if you don’t want to tell me, then please, don’t." A slight chuckle seeped from her lips as she reached over for the salt shaker, placing it in front of her on the surface and once a while grazing her finger over the opening. It was in her sincerest hopes that Mason would speak more, for she wanted to know more. In school it seemed like he would always be by himself, like isolation was painful to him all until his friends came; but even after that, he’d still be.. alone. Maybe it wasn’t her business, but Isabella wasn’t annoyed; rather, intrigued and interested.
She looked good, very cleaned up and well-mannered. Mason felt guilty for not trying a little harder now, he looked like filth compared to her. His eyes moved their attention from her for a second. A woman from another table had walked over to the jukebox, feeding it a quarter. “Nah, I was just… suprised that’s all,” he lied. Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics came over the speakers, quietly enough to hold conversations but hard to tune out. God this song was so overplayed, but Mason couldn’t help but find it somewhat catchy. Some of them want to use you/Some of them want to get used by you. “I’ve just wound up here a couple times around 3 a.m.” She was probably not used to talking to someone who partied so much. “Do you like it?” The waitress walked over before he could get a response. He hadn’t even looked over the menu yet. Luckily she just asked for their drinks. “I’ll have a coke,” he smiled and looked over to Izzy.
There was a little bit of something in Isabella that sensed Mason’s reply was not at all too truthful; but she didn’t want to pry, seeing as it wasn’t in her place and could potentially jeopardize the small friendship they were growing into. And frankly, it was none of her business, nothing she (or anyone, for that matter) should be poking their business into. Mason had a harmless reputation of staying within a certain group, so she was blessed to have him around; if not as a close friend, then an acquaintance that would soon build up. Once the waitress stepped over and Mason had spoke of his order, Isabella began, “I’ll have a double cheeseburger and some curly fries. And, oh, a coke.” she shot the waitress a smile. “I love it, it’s actually real cute,” she replied to him with a nod, “Do you walk around at night regularly? I know exploration’s one of your things, and it’s interesting, honestly.” Her eyes kept on his with a certain somersaulting enthusiasm, like commas would turn into apostrophes. Eurythmics sighed in and out of the diner every time a new customer would step in and a customer would step out; it was static all around to a mysterious pop beat.
The diner was a lot more crowded than he had anticipated, it kind of made him on edge. People still go to diners? He thought he was more original than that. It was only a few people here and there, but he had hoped it would have been empty. The place to themselves. Darkness. Sudden darkness. Unexpectedly, soft hands were on his face and at first it made him jump. A split second of fear and uncertainty. But then he heard a sweet voice and relaxed, it was just Izzy. He hadn’t seen her when he walked in and felt stupid but Mason smiled, “Hey Iz.” Mason never really took the time to get to know Isabella. Maybe it was her sweetness that drove him away, she was obviously way too good for him even he could see that. Mason wondered what his friends would think if they saw him right now with her. Probably give him hell for it. But Mason wanted better for himself and hoped to change his life around, his friends meant everything but maybe it was time to put that aside and focus on where he was going to wind up in ten years — scary thought. Right now it didn’t look so promising. Mason untangled her hands from his face and looked up at her as she walked around to sit across from him. “I didn’t realize you were already here…” his mouth curved as if apologizing for his lack of attention.
Once her hands had been unraveled from Mason’s eyes, Isabella sauntered over to take the seat in the booth across from him, her usual wide grin plastered on her lips. For a moment, she had felt him tense up when she impaired his vision, but she hoped she didn’t startle him too much. “Did I scare you?” she inquired playfully, letting out a laugh as she took off her satchel, laying it beside her on the booth. She reached over for the small menu that hung rather lazily behind the condiments, eyes scanning what today’s special was; yet, seeing all the options, she remained indecisive for the moment. Isabella’s gaze now averting to meet Mason’s own, she flashed him a warmer, close-mouthed smile, “I move around a lot. I was gonna say hi to you when you came in, but I thought this way would’ve been better.” she nodded just slightly at him before placing the menu down on the surface of the table; just like the rest of the diner, it had resembled the white marble that was once a fad. A plus for presentation. “So, have you ever been to this place before? How’d you find it?” It wasn’t very usual for Isabella to see Mason outside of school, both of them being their own sorts of wallflowers and only occasionally sharing greetings in the halls. For the two of them to acquaint just a little bit closer was.. nice, per se.
The day had been nonproductive. Mason got nothing done, in fact, he had slept all day long unintentionally. What the fuck is wrong with me? He guessed that it was because of the move, coming back here. And also accepting the possibility that he wouldn’t go home for a very long time. He was suprised he even safely got back to his dorm last night. He had the tendency to go out and find trouble, mostly not having any recollection of the nights events thanks to a pal of his in the apartments a few blocks down. They had met at a party a couple year ago and Mason frequently visited him for shots of patron and whiskey. Mason didn’t know much about the guy but he never turned him down when he wanted peace and quiet, and a floor to sleep on.
Having nothing to eat that day, Mason was relieved that he wouldn’t have to eat alone. He and Izzy, as he liked to call her, agreed upon having burgers at the diner down the street. Mason didn’t feel the need to impress anyone so he threw on a t-shirt that was lying on the floor, he wasn’t sure if it was in the dirty or clean pile. Whatever. He touseled with his hair a bit before leaving. The temperature outside was dropping slightly so he pulled the hood on his jacket up. Once inside, Mason looked around the place. It was the ideal fifties diner, jukebox and friendly atmosphere included. The sign said “seat yourself” so he picked a spot in back righthand corner, facing the doorway so he could see when she would show up. He hoped she wouldn’t flake on him, he was really hungry and wasn’t looking forward to spending the night alone.
Afternoon naps were both energizing and rather unfortunate, seeing as Isabella woke up carrying the belief that it had been the next day. She greeted the sun like it had been morning, worked out like it had been morning — all until she logically checked the clock. It was practically almost seven o’clock and the day wore on her, following her home and then leaving her with a bit of a weight on her shoulders that she had hoped would alleviate soon. There was also nothing in the refrigerator, no parents home, but thankfully, a friend by the name of Mason to seek solace in. She had never minded his company, no matter how seldom and sporadic their meetings were; in fact, she barely remembered a time they had talked more than just about what last night’s homework was. It was shame on Isabella’s part, though she had hoped things between them would change soon, and that their meetings like this would become regular; exactly how running track everyday had been regular.
She stepped inside the small diner, bells acknowledging her entrance as well as a sign that said to sit yourself accordingly; but seeing as Mason hadn’t been around just yet, she decided to explore. One black tile after the other white tile, Isabella examined the diner that would seem completely isolated if not for the scattered customers in their red leather seats, and the slight hum of radio static in the stereo that once in a while played actual music. It had the feel of a true authentic diner, but seeing as the place was somewhat brand new, Isabella wasn’t fooled. In mid-step, she heard another verse of bells and was pleasantly surprised to find Mason; not late, just in time. After he had taken a seat, she walked behind him, grateful that he faced the opposite direction, and placed her hands over his eyes. “Guess who?”
Watching her properly ingest drugs sent an overwhelming sensation into his chest. It was like watching your little brother or sister when an award, or your child finally learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. Proud. He was proud she was not only willing to learn, but she did…great. She could actually handle her drugs well. He understood she didn’t want to do drugs, that wasn’t going to stop him, but he wouldn’t try to force it on her. At least she tried. That was one of Rich’s goals. Try everything once. Unless it’s dumb. “Thaaat’s my girl.” He took the joint and laughed with her. It was nearly out anyways so he just set it on the ground and got down for a moment, stopping it out before he hopped back on the table. “Fair enough angel.”
He exhaled for a moment, looking out. The sky was even darker now, the silhouette of the moon was just in front of them. Inching it’s way higher and higher. “It really has been forever, and you’ve changed…tremendously.” He finally looked back at her. “You know, what do you do now. For fun, or whatever, what’s Miss Grown-Up Isabella like?”
"It was worth a shot," Smiling warmly up at Richie, Isabella sat just a bit straighter on the park table before letting her figure slump, a slight habit she had whenever she was sitting. Her posture had to be more than decent, considering the fact that she was a trac runner; but whenever it came to sitting or laying, her back had been less than its usual par. But it wasn’t anything she had hoped to change soon, if at all; in fact, she barely noticed small things like that. Once Richie finally broke the comfortable silence, the sky fell a shade lower and a shade darker, the moon undergoing its daily ascension in replace of the sun. Anyone around took their route home, wherever that may be, and any laughter from children faded until it became nothingness. Night was approaching slowly, surely, sweetly.
She didn’t know whether or not her so-called tremendous change was a beneficial thing or not, but she wasn’t going to go assuming anything contradictory. “Pretty much. I mean, freshman year we didn’t have any classes together. Not counting lunch. And have I changed for the good or for the worse?” she inquired with a nonchalant chuckle, glancing over at Richie and flashing him another grin. Even if it had been years since they properly spoke, he was still illuminated unlike everything else, the spark of incandescence and a large smile. “Well, Miss Grown-Up Isabella isn’t quite grown up. It’s still the same with me: track, study, track, study. How about you?”
“Suit yourself.” He shrugged, taking another hit. The ember lit up his face as the sun continued to go down. He looked out over the trees, the far away houses, the streets who’s lamps were beginning to turn on for the night. He was reminded of when he used to play street hockey and all of his friends raced home as soon as the street lights went on because we all knew we’d get our butts blistered if we weren’t in by then. He licked his lips and smiled. “I dunno actually. I usually light up. 4:20 you know. Figured I’d enjoy a nice view.” He was being honest. He may have been insensitive for the most part, but he did know how to enjoy the little things. A sunset, the company of a pretty girl, a mellow high, and the rush of knowing anything can be gone in a snap. “She’s still a pain in my ass.” He shook his head laughing. “But she’s good. She’ll be starting at good ol’ Riverside High next year. Godspeed to her.”
He sat in silence for a moment. He liked that they were able to be quiet, and it wasn’t awkward. He looked over at her and couldn’t help but chuckle at her freckles. “So uh…you still talk to Trevor? Weren’t you guys best friends in grade school or something?” He asked, he had friends in grade school, but not anyone close like they were. People just couldn’t keep up with him. There were a few now who could, which was pretty radical to Richie. But they were few and far. So far, that was only Arabella, Charlotte, and so far Isabella was. There was another girl who he wanted to know, but he just didn’t have the time. He had to really be sure she was worth the time. He sighed heavily and offered her the joint again. “Come on, live a little.” He gave her a mischievous smirk.
A smile adorned Isabella’s lips as she nodded towards the sunset, noticing how the colors all blended together; oranges and scarlets transitioning smoothly into indigos and blues, with a warm yellow haze to top it off. All in all, the hour of the day made for a decent time to become unsober, yet bathe in the relaxation of it all, the privilege of being high all by yourself right in your fingertips. “It is nice,” she agreed, looking over at her old friend now, and shooting him a grin. “She’s grown up quite a lot, huh? Do you think she can do high school without her big brother?” came her inquiry, nudging Richie with her shoulder now, just slightly.
"Trevor?" she echoed, the name leaving her train of thought at an utter stop; the end of the railroad track. Letting out a sigh, she came to realize that the subject of Trevor Keane had once more found itself to relevance, but she didn’t want to ignore the question. "No, not really," Isabella shook her head, offering him a shrug and a thin-lipped smile afterward. "We were friends, but it just stopped. It’s not a big deal anymore," she waved off the subject with her hand, hoping that her notion of topic change had been taken politely and not rudely. Anyone could ask as much as they wanted about Trevor, but at a certain time; just not when things were reaching their tranquil peak.
At Richie’s offer of a hit, Isabella hesitated. She knew nothing about narcotics except for what school has drilled into its students for many years now: that drugs were bad. But she did make an unspoken pact to become more adventurous, more open, more willing to try things; and with a look of light uncertainty towards him, she reached out for what he offered. She trusted him wholeheartedly for the simple fact that they had known each other since grade school, no matter how close or distant friends they were, so no doubts were placed upon him. Taking the hit, she inhaled the new airy substance roughly at first, coughing just so once she removed the joint from her lips. “Just once,” she let out a chuckle.