"Ugh!" Veronica said. She looked disgusted as she looked at my reflection in the mirror.
"What?" Nai'a asked defensively. The two of them at been sniping at each other the whole time we'd been at the mall.
"It's just...no!" V asserted picking at the fabric of the dress. I admit, I didn't much like it myself but had tried it on to please Nai'a.
"I like the style of the dress...but not the color." I said trying to sound neutral. "Did they have it in other colors?"
"The style is all wrong for Prom! This isn't the eighth grade dance or something...it's PROM!" Veronica said. "You should wear something long..."
"She can wear whatever she likes!" Nai'a snapped at V. She looked at my reflection and grimaced a bit. "You're right though, the color is all wrong. I think they had it in a few other colors though. I'll go see."
"Oh don't bother, I'll go find you something Gin!" Veronica said following Nai'a out of the dressing room. They glared at each other the whole way.
Veronica returned first with a not just a dress but a whole ensemble. By the time I had it on, Nai'a had returned with a couple other color choices and another dress. "Eww" Nai'a said, dropping her selections on the chair.
"I have to agree...I like the length and sort of the color...but not the corset...or the necklace...or the gloves. It's just too much..." I said, looking at Veronica apologetically.
"Meh, I guess you're right." she muttered. Even with taking off the gloves and necklace, the dress just wasn't my style. Nai'a looked triumphant for a moment which made Veronica sneer at her.
"Guys come on...just smile and play nice for another hour? Please?" I asked, trying on another dress.
They didn't smile at each other but they stopped fighting anyway. "How's Tim?" Veronica asked as she helped zip the back of the dress for me. "What happened the other night at the award's ceremony?"
"Oh, his dad had a stroke! The nurse was calling which is why they left in such a hurry," I said frowning.
"Is he alright?" Veronica asked. "His dad I mean?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. He's breathing on his own and there doesn't seem to be any major effects but he's not any better than before. They're moving him to an assisted living home soon I think."
We were all silent for a few minutes as I looked over the dress in the mirror and thought about Tim's situation.
"I like this one." I said with a small smile. "I love the color and the cut..."
"You look beautiful Ginny." Nai'a said. "What are you going to do with your hair?"
"I don't know yet...probably pull it up somehow." I twisted and turned on the little step, looking at all angles. "What are you wearing Veronica?"
"Oh I already have a dress." Veronica said. "Assuming my aunt let's me out of the house." she said quietly.
I stepped off the platform and changed back into my normal clothes, delicately hanging the dress back up. "How is that going? Have you heard from your parents at all?"
She shook her head. "My aunt chewed Jim...our accountant...a new one on the phone and he swears he'll apprise them of the situation the next time he talks to them. Apparently my dad video conferences with members of the board and execs at least once a week....nice huh?"
"What?" Nai'a asked, confused.
"That he can bother to video conference so often with them but can't even email me..." Veronica shrugged, trying to look like she didn't really care about such things but I knew she was hurting. "Whatever. Anyway my aunt keeps talking about custody but we'll see..."
I didn't get to see much of Erik in the weeks before Prom because his new band was practicing constantly to be ready but I stopped by at least once a week just to watch them practice. He offered to rent a limo but I assured him I'd much rather have a limo at senior prom when all our friends were going so he and Veronica met at my house and we drove there together.
Prom was being hosted at a fancy hotel in town. We arrived earlier than most because the band needed to do some set up and warm up before the rest of the attendees showed up. "I need to go set up, I think the ballroom is on the second floor..." Erik said.
"Okay, I'll be right up," I said with a smile. "Going to look around, this place is nice." He nodded and pulled me into a long kiss, I'm sure Veronica was rolling her eyes at us.
When we finally broke apart, Veronica cleared her throat. "I'll be up in a minute." she said when Erik looked at her expectantly. He nodded and headed for the elevator bank.
I strolled around the fountain, trying to be casual and waiting for Veronica to leave but she just followed me. "What's up V?" I asked finally.
"I could ask you the same thing, but I think I know." she said holding out a small box to me. I looked at it and my eyes grew wide. "Better safe than sorry." she said with a small smile. Then she left me in the lobby. I stuffed the box into my purse quickly and then approached the front desk.
I saw several seniors making their way upstairs and by the time I got up there, the party was really getting going. Erik looked awesome up on stage and Veronica was practically glowing with excitement; it was a look I hadn't seen on her face in a long time.
Tessa and I were a couple of fan girls, with our boyfriends in the band. We found each other in the crowd since we were some of the only juniors in attendance and we didn't have dancing partners. "Alex looks great up there!" I said over the din of noise.
"Yeah, so does Erik!" she replied as Alex spun his drum sticks and continued playing. She laughed, "How long has Erik been playing? He's really good!"
"As long as I've known him, what about Alex?" I asked watching the drummer, he certainly had a flare to him.
"He started playing a couple years ago...mostly just solo in his garage ya know?" Tessa said. I nodded, dancing to the flow of music.
Eventually Tessa and I were both out of breath and agreed to stop and grab a couple drinks. The school had hired a bartender to serve all alcohol-free drinks - Ms. Moore had said it was harder for someone to spike the drinks this way.
"Surprise me." I told the bartender, my cheeks were warm from all the dancing and heavy crowd.
He grinned and started a flurry of activity, tossing mixers and fruit into the air and catching them flawlessly. He juggled some fruit for me as well and I couldn't help but laugh. He placed a pink concoction before me and with perfect aim, flicked a heart shaped pick into the glass.
"Thanks." I said, looking at the heart a little warily. "What's in it?" I asked.
"Well that would be the surprise part." he said with a wink.
I turned in my chair to watch the band and dance floor while I drank. It was really good! I'm not sure what the heart had to do with anything of if it just complimented the color of the drink.
I barely finished the drink when the music stopped and for the first time another song did not start up again. "We're going to take a little break, we have Jake on DJ duty so I'm sure he'll keep you dancing while we grab some drinks and a moment or two with our dates." Erik said with a wink. The crowd cheered as they waved their way off the stage. He saw me across the floor and made his way to my side.
After he'd had a drink, Erik smiled, "Care to dance?"
"Sure." I said putting my glass back on the bar and let him lead me onto the dance floor.
Alex and Tessa also joined us on the floor a few minutes later, I saw Veronica hanging out with the keyboardist off to the side, they seemed to be enjoying each others' company though.
The only took a break for a few songs before returning to the stage with a burst of cheers from the crowd. After awhile, the crowd started to thin; some of them were leaving for after parties and some had grabbed food from the buffet tables and gone over to the room next door that was set up with tables and couches.
Tessa sought me out again, easier now that the floor was less packed. "There's a party upstairs in one of the suites, you guys wanna come?" she asked. "Once the guys are done of course?"
"Um..." I thought about it for a moment and shrugged. "Maybe..." I thought back to the little box and card key in my purse and then considered a group party.
"Think about it!" Tessa called as she walked over to the buffet table and picked at some of the hot wings.
When the band finally stopped playing, there were only a handful of couple left in the room and I was lounging on one of the couches, completely danced out. My shoes had been kicked off already as well. "Gin..." Erik said, picking up my legs so he could sit down. He put my legs back over his lap and smiled. "You look exhausted - ready to go home?"
"Home?" I asked. "No. There's an after party upstairs if you're interested."
"Eh, I don't know..." Erik wasn't one for large crowds really.
"Come on, Tessa and Alex are going, we can just stay for a bit..." I said swinging my legs off his lap and slipping back into my shoes. When we got to the elevator bank, a handful of others were waiting, including Alex and Tessa. There was room enough for all of us in the elevator but I held Erik back. "We'll take the next one." I said to the others with a smile.
The next elevator came quickly enough and this time Erik and I were the only passengers. I curled against him, slipping my fingers into his and laying my head against his shoulder.
Erik turned toward me after pushing the button for the floor and put his arms around me. "I don't think I had a chance to tell you how beautiful you look tonight." he said.
"Not in the last ten minutes anyway." I said with a grin. "You've told me a few times..."
"Well it merits being said again." he said with a smile.
The after-party was being held in a suite on the fourth floor and wasn't as crowded as I'd expected. Erik and I made the rounds, saying hi to people as we went. "I'm so glad you came!" Tessa said, hugging me.
"Wow man! You guys were great!" one of the seniors I vaguely recognized clapped Alex and Erik on the back. Alex was lurched forward by it and his drink spilled forward all over the front of my dress!
"Oh no!" Tessa and I said at the same time. Alex grimaced, "Sorry Ginny!" he stammered, looking around for a towel or something.
I looked around and spotted a thrown open mini-fridge but there was no water or club soda in it. I chewed on my lip for a moment. "I'm gonna go try to clean up a bit." I said.
The suite had an adjoining room and I hoped the fridge in there had not been raided in the same way, I pushed my way through the people and when I got to the adjoining room, the lights were mostly out and it was empty thankfully. The fridge was stocked so I was able to dab at the stain.
"Gin?" Erik poked his head around the door. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." I said, I motioned to the stain "Got it mostly out I think..."
"Good..." he came fully into the room and let the door close behind him so we were alone in the semi-darkness.
I lingered a moment, thinking of my previous plans and then close the gap between us. He moved toward me, as if to envelope me in an embrace but I stepped to the door and clicked the lock into place. When I turned back toward him he looked confused. "I love you Erik"
"I love you too Gin..." he said slowly, as if assessing the situation and proceeding with caution.
I reached up and pulled the flower pins from my hair, letting them drop to the floor, my hair fell from it's bind. Then I gingerly fingered the end of his bow tie, with one slow tug it fell as well. "I want you to..." I said as I started pulling back his jacket.
His fingers were on my back, tugging at the strings of the dress. He knew exactly what I wanted. And he wanted it too.
I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing in my nearly forgotten purse. One glance at the clock told me it was after three in the morning..."Oh no." I muttered thinking about the inquisition I was going to be facing at home.
But when I looked back at Erik's still sleeping form, I couldn't help but smile a bit. At least until my phone buzzed annoyingly again.
End Junior Year