Authors: Ashley Beale
"My face expression says he is hot? You're so weird."
She laughs. Nothing fazes Clarissa. I love her energy but I don't understand her recklessness, especially when it comes to men. She swears she'll never fall in love, never get married, and certainly will never settle down. She once mentioned she was like a gypsy... just not one that traveled the world. One that traveled to different guy's beds. I'm not miss innocent, but I've never understood her need for changing her men more than her bedroom sheets.
"Tell me about him."
I sprawl out on the bed and groan. "You want me to talk about my boss after an annoying day at work?"
Knowing Clarissa means I know she won't let me change the subject. "Fine," I growl out. "What do you want to know about him?
"Boxer or briefs?"
"Like I would know!"
Clarissa bursts out in laughter. "I'm just kidding. Is he hot, for real though?"
"I mean, if you can get past the annoying things he does, then yeah he is attractive." I don't dare to simply blurt out that he is fucking gorgeous! She would immediately seek him out to either screw him or set us up, even knowing that I have this thing with Blaise.
She pretends to fan herself. "Details. I need something to add to the click bank."
"Yeah. Guys have spank banks, we ladies have click banks. It’s what you imagine when you're fingers are down your panties."
"Oh dear God!" I grab the nearest pillow and suffocate myself in it.
Clarissa's laughter fills the room, even though the material of the pillow. "Shut up," she yells. "It’s natural and we all do it. Anyone who says different is a liar. I need new material, so describe him to me please."
I take the pillow covering my face and chuck it at hers before sitting up in bed. "You're disgusting." I grab my drink and immediately take a large sip, knowing that if this is how our conversations are going to go that I need to start feeling a buzz soon.
I describe Roman to Clarissa the best I can without going into much detail. I find a possessiveness over him, not wanting to share him with her, even though he most definitely isn't mine. I don't even like him. I just don't want Clarissa to like him. It’s all pathetic... and again, I find myself being extremely childish. Apparently for some odd reason I can't seem to help it.
Our conversation slowly drifts onto Blaise and I tell her all about last night. She swoons over the fact he cooked dinner for me and the fact we fell asleep in his bed together, but I can tell she doesn't care for Blaise and I as a couple. I don't bother asking her why though. I assume it has to do with us already going our separate ways for college, and I'm sure she knows adding a boyfriend into the mix will mean even less talking to one another and seeing each other.
After eating a hot ham and cheese sandwich dinner with dad, we barricade ourselves in my bedroom to finish off the glass of wine while watching scary movies. Our conversations stay away from boys and school, focusing ideally on our friendship we never want to lose. The perfect way to end an overwhelming week of new things.
Somehow Clarissa and
I manage to sleep until noon. I wake to find three missed texts from Blaise and a voicemail from Dad. I ignore both until after I use the bathroom and grab some cereal. Clarissa is already in the kitchen, pouring us both a bowl when I walk in. I grab the milk from the fridge and meet her at the counter with it. She pours the milk over our Lucky Charms, and together we sit at the breakfast bar.
I skim through the texts Blaise sent me as Clarissa goes on about her dream last night. The most I get from her dream is that she was trapped on an island with some guy she met last week at the bar. I feel like an ass that Blaise thinks I'm ignoring him by the third text.
Morning beautiful! What r u doing today? Would like 2 cu later.
U awake sleepy head? Miss u. Call me.
Ok? I get the hint...
Too groggy to speak just yet, I reply to his messages:
Sorry, just woke up. I'll call in a minute.
"Who’s that?" Clarissa asks.
Between bites I tell her, "Blaise."
"Did he mention how he gets boners in his sleep while thinking about you?"
I glare at her. "Gross. We don't sext."
"Because heaven forbid you have any actual fun with him."
"What is that supposed to mean?" I stop eating my cereal and give her my full attention this time.
She smiles before shoveling another bite into her mouth so she doesn't have to answer me.
"We have fun," I protest. "We've been on dates. We had sex on a mini golf course. We had sex against his wall. We got flirty at work. We..." Just as I'm thinking of more ways to convince her of the fun we have together the doorbell rings, interrupting us. I point a finger in her direction as I hop off my stool. "Don't think this conversation is done."
"Shut up." Milk and crunched cereal falls from her full mouth as she speaks.
I open the door to discover a man with a clipboard. He looks sort of like a package delivery guy but he doesn't have a uniform that would suggest so. "Ms. Donovan?" he asks.
"That would be me." I feel like I should wrap a bathrobe around me with the way he looks me up and down.
"I have a delivery for you. Could you please sign this?" He pushes the clipboard my way.
I look it over but don't see what is being delivered. I don't recall ordering a package. "May I ask what it is?" I ask while holding the pen above the line.
"I just deliver the packages, I don't ask what's inside."
I sign the dotted line and hand him back the clipboard. After tucking it under his armpit, he leans down to grab the package. He passes me a small box and a garment bag. I barely get out a thanks before closing the door and walking over to where Clarissa is sipping milk out of her bowl. She places it down and looks at it. "What’s that?"
"My question exactly."
I unzip the garment bag and pull out the gown inside. I gasp when I see what is hanging from the hanger. The tag wrapped elegantly on the hanger reads
Vera Wang Evening Dress
. I'm glad the price isn't located on the tag or I'd probably faint. The top comes down like a faux halter, all in black leather, then it drops mid waist into a frilly tulle mess. Except it isn't a mess. It's an insanely gorgeous mix of black and white material, falling down in different lengths until it reaches just past my ankles.
"What the what?" Clarissa speaks out. "That is the most gorgeous dress I've ever seen. My eyes are about to water. I'm finally in love." She hops off the chair and examines it. I can see her hands twitching. They want to touch it but she doesn't dare. I know exactly how she feels.
I pass the hanger in her direction. "Hold this," I tell her. She cautiously grabs the hanger and holds the dress away from her. It’s as if she is going to ruin it just by breathing in its direction.
Using a pair of scissors, I cut the tape to the box I was also given and I open it up. Inside is a smaller box holding a pair of
heels. I shake my head at it. I don't understand where these would come from. Definitely not the first few people that came to my mind. Clarissa is in too much shock, my dad can't afford this stuff, Blaise doesn't even know I'm attending the meeting, and Roman doesn't know what size I am or have any reason to buy it for me. I'm in shock.
I lift the cover to the shoe box. Inside is a square little card placed on top of a pair of strappy black heels that must be at least three inches. Not too tall, but tall enough I'm going to feel like a giant. At least I'll be a radiant giant in that dress. Although, I’m not even sure I dare to put on the mystery dress, I may ruin it and owe someone thousands of dollars.
I slip on one of the heels to discover it fits me perfectly. "So, Cinderella," Clarissa says. "Who are they from?"
"You're effin hilarious," I spit out sarcastically. I slide the other shoe on too, just so I can get a feel for them. They're most certainly elegant and perfect in every way imagine. I'm in complete awe right now. I don't want to take them off. Ever.
I open the envelope and slide the card out from inside. It's a small, flat card that is written in messy handwriting.
Better than a prom dress. -R.
I hold the card in my hand harder, not able to let go. I have to blink before reading it a second time. Then a third. And a fourth. No. It can't be from him. Why would Roman buy me such expensive stuff for a meeting?! A fucking meeting! He doesn't know me. Or my size. Or anything else for that matter.
Except a gorgeous dress... obviously.
A growl rips through my throat before I snatch the dress from Clarissa and storm down the hall.
"Wait... is that a good growl or a bad one?" She yells after me. "Who is it from?"
I don't answer until I get into my room and toss the dress on the bed. Something so precious shouldn't be treated so horribly but I can't help it. He makes my blood boil and I'm not even sure why! I slide each shoe off and toss them on the bed, making sure to miss the dress.
"Damn him," I mutter.
"Who?" Clarissa screams out in exasperation. She is all kinds of frustrated right now.
"Roman! Who does he think he is?!"
I harshly dig through my drawers to find clothes to wear today. "Um." Clarissa takes a second before speaking again. "Who is Roman?"
Her confusion takes me aback for a minute before I realize that I never told her my boss's name. "My boss," I explain. "I told him that I didn't understand why we had to wear a prom dress to a meeting. This is his way of mocking me."
She cocks her head at me. "Mocking you? You think he is mocking you? This is a Vera Fucking Wang dress. He isn't mocking you. He is obviously head over heels for you already!"
"No." I stop her right there. "He doesn't even know me. Besides, he knows I'm with Blaise. This is ridiculous. I'm getting in the shower." I grab the stack of clothes on the dresser and head for the bathroom.
It isn't a surprise when I hear the bathroom door creak open just minutes after getting into the shower. "I don't want to talk about it," I yell out for Clarissa.
I hear the click of the toilet seat being shut. "I'm not saying anything."
The silence becomes awkward fast. I peak around the curtain to look at her. She sits there, looking at her nails as if they hold all the answers to the questions she is dying to ask me. "I have all the same questions as you," I tell her. "So don't bother asking me."
Without looking at me, she shrugs her shoulders. "Wasn't going to."
I whip the curtain shut. While adding conditioner into my hair, I start rambling on about the situation. I'm sure it’s exactly what Clarissa was hoping to get out of me too. "I've been there two days. Two days. He is nice enough, but he creeps me out. He annoys me so bad. He is cocky and arrogant, and..."
"Buys you expensive gowns and shoes to wear to his house."
"No. I mean, yes, he obviously does that. But he does it because he likes being in control. He likes empowerment. I can't stand it. He glances at me like he is going to feast on me for dinner, and it not in the hot, sexual, needy way either. He is a predator and I do not want to be his prey."
Clarissa chuckles from the other side of the curtain. "Do you hear yourself?"
"Yeah. Crystal clear, thanks." I honestly can't figure out for the life of me why I'm being so snappy and pissy about the situation. He did something for me that no man has ever even dreamed of. I should be calling him right up, thanking him profusely, and finding a way to pay him back. I just can't find it in myself to do that.
Maybe he isn't the selfish one. Maybe in reality it’s me.
"From what you described, I'd have him feast on me anytime. I'd also let him shower me in gifts."
I finish up in the shower and reach around for the towel hanging on the wall. Clarissa sits there as I get out of the shower and wrap another towel around my hair.
"Can I do your hair and makeup for tonight? I want you to walk into his home flaunting what he got you and what you already have. You're going to be turning every head in that house tonight."
"Fine," I groan. "If it makes you happy."
"If you weren't so oddly stubborn about a wealthy, attractive man buying you things, you'd be happy too."
I don't bother retorting. She is right, and we both know it. Instead I just slip on the clothes I had picked out earlier and straddle the now vacant toilet seat. Clarissa wastes no time in brushing out my hair before blow drying it.
For the next two hours I'm her canvas. She does a French braid that curves to the side of my neck, then curls the ends that hang loose. All the hair is bunched in different spots around the base of my braid using bobby pins to hold it up, but you can't see them. Some curls still dangle from my hair, giving it an added touch. It's the most elegant my hair has ever looked. Something you'd see in the wedding edition of Vogue.
My makeup certainly enhances my eyes with the amount of black eyeliner she adds and the smoky look she perfected years ago. I use mascara almost daily but I've never gotten my lashes so thick or long before. I'm ultimately amazed at how Clarissa has made me look. I could walk a runway right now, and I'm only in jean shorts and a tank top.
"Wow," I say, looking in the mirror.
"It'll be better when I paint your lips with red lipstick. I'll do that right before you leave so it doesn't wear off."
Dad knocks on the door frame to grab my attention, even though the door is wide open. I turn to face him and whatever words were about to come out of his mouth stumble. I've never seen his eyes water so easily just by looking at me. "Dad?"