What's That Sound
This Isn't The 1800s
Your Average Girl
Don't Make Me Go
Dress-Up Game
Alone With the Enemy
Some Strange Magic
You Only Live Once
What Are You?
A Wrong Turn
A Deal's a Deal
The Secret Inside
Helicopter, Helicopter
Mind Your Manners
A Maze and Delight
The Lost Seed
A Secret Escape
Getting Hot Inside
Seriously, What The
Got a Bad Feeling
Let's Try Something
Breathing is Overrated
In the Meantime
Nice Day for a Drive
Can't Turn Back
Dress-Up Game
"Good news," said my mom, which lately I'd learned generally meant I was in for anything but. She'd reappeared at the door to my room with her phone in hand. "My stylist is on her way."

Wait, since when did Mom have a stylist? Geez, this whole being rich thing sure was uncanny. Back home, our hair 'salon' had been than the cosmetology student's bathroom next door.

I didn't know whether to be excited that I was about to get my hair and makeup done professionally, or upset because more things were happening to me without my permission.

But I didn't have time to think about it any longer, because just then the doorbell rang and Mom darted down the hall, calling, "Coming!"

The stylist turned out to be a pretty, twenty-something girl named Becca. She had glossy purple curls flowing down to her mid-back and wore a black apron with pockets tied across her front. She'd come in carrying the kind of toolbox you'd think a carpenter would use, but it turned out to be filled with an assortment of hair irons, product, and makeup.

"What kind of look are we going for tonight?" she asked as she combed through the nest of knots that had worked themselves in. I still didn't get how some people got hair like hers. I guess, to be fair, she'd probably spent a while in school learning how to get it to look like that.

In a momentary flash of evil genius, I considered saying something like goth punk with lots of spikes, but then I considered exactly how grounded I would get myself and let that idea fade into nothing more than a happy fantasy.

So instead I said, "I guess we could just go for something that makes it look like I actually took a shower after gym today."

At that, the stylist laughed. "Alright. We'll go for a pretty, but still semi-casual sort of look."

It was kinda fun getting my hair done. Almost. At least until I remembered what all this was for--that I was about to get stuck out with a dude who thought he was cooler than everybody else--and my stomach clenched and I found it hard to stay sitting still.

"You got a big date tonight?" Becca asked, but she sounded preoccupied and only half interested, just making small talk. I think she was holding at least a couple bobby pins between her teeth, judging by the sound of her voice.

"Yeah. Something like that." Okay, I realized I didn't sound super friendly and she was being nice, so I added, "I don't know about 'big', though. I kinda just want to get it over with."

At that, she swiveled the barstool I was sitting on around to face her.

"Girl, let me give you some advice." She plucked the hair pins from between her lips and stuck them into the curls she'd just finished ironing into my hair as she said, "You gotta take charge of yourself. If you don't want to do something, don't let anybody talk you into it."

Well, that was all easier said than done and all...

Then she was spinning me back again and I felt the heat of the iron back near my scalp. "Hold still now," she said, then, "Alright. Done."

"I think it'll be okay," I said, mostly because I didn't want to sound so pathetic. "I've just never really talked to the guy much and he's kinda a, uh," I didn't want to say jerk in case my mother was listening from the hall. "He's rich."

"Hmm. Well if you're sure you want to go." she said, opening the makeup case and holding up a round of pressed powder to my face. "Yeah, this is the one."

In another fifteen minutes, I was all made-up and pulling on a dress--my mother had insisted--and Becca was admiring her work.

"Hot damn, girl," she said, "You look gorgeous."

Then she was gone and I stood with my purse by the door, wondering if I had time to sneak a glance in the mirror and see how the final result came out. Even if it was just to meet a boy I didn't like, I found mysrlf still wanting to know how I looked.

Just as I was turning towards the hall, a sharp knock came from the front door. I jumped, swiveling frantically. Maybe I could still run...

But Mom appeared at my shoulder and urged in a forced whisper, "Well, open it!"

With no choice but to obey, I stepped forward, teetering momentarily in the narrow heels that matched the dress, but catching myself at the last second on a shelf beside the door.

When I got the door open, Mercurius was standing there with his arms crossed, scowling. Not exactly a bad look for him--he looked a bit like the hot bad-boy in one of my favorite fantasy series--hot in books, but in real life not so much. In real life, personality matters.

"What took you so long?" he said, not even bothering to greet my Mom where she stood behind me. Oddly, she just smiled sweetly at him and waved us off like she didn't notice anything he was doing was rude at all.

"Have a great time, sweetie!" she called after us, shutting the door.

A glossy, red sportscar was parked in the drive. He climbed in without waiting for me, the engine running before I got inside.

Just like that, I was alone with the most longed-after boy in school. The most dangerous boy in school, I might add, based on the speed at which he reversed out of the driveway and peeled into the street.


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© Hopeful Romantic ,
книга «Just a Kiss».