"I forgot how great you are to shop with!"
Marie laughed as she brought her feet up onto the plush, cream French sofa. She took a deep sip of Champagne and instantly regretted it, remembering how much she hated the taste. Why Champagne? Why not cocktails or chocolate milk? No. They just had to have a drink that matched everything in the room. Marie gave the dressing room another disappointing sweep glance. Everything was either the color of cream, rose gold or the pink Champagne she was drinking. It was boring. A massive chandelier hung above her head, her black strappy wedged heels were lying on a rich cream colored carpet that covered the wooden flooring and Giselle was behind a curtain that was almost beige, while Marie waited for her to reveal the third dress she was trying on. It was so typical of Giselle to wait until the day before a great event to find a dress.
"I would have done this weeks ago, I swear. It's just that -." Giselle grunted and there was a slide of fabric." - There was no one to go with. I have made friends here but none good enough to have the honest and understanding I need to help me pick out a dress," Giselle said. Marie smiled and placed the glass back on the little table next to the couch. "I've been here for a week and a half. What is your reasoning behind not doing this sooner?" Marie asked teasingly. Giselle let out a breath of defeat. "Fine. You got me, but you can hardly judge me. I've been working really hard on this show and trying to keep up with studies. You know dress shopping is never that high on my priority list." The curtain slid open and Giselle's slender form appeared in a flowing black dress with a boat neck and capped sleeves that was dazzled with beads above the middle and along the collar. Giselle lifted perfectly plucked eyebrows above bright green eyes expectedly.
"Well?" Marie grimaced and shook her head. Giselle sighed and pulled the curtain shut again.
"There's only two more left so you better like one or the other. I'm starting to get hungry," Giselle said. "That's a good thing. I think we went a bit overboard today," Marie said as the image of Giselle's car filled with shopping bags filled her mind. She and her sister together with credit cards might not be the safest combination. "Well at least now you have an outfit for every big event this year," Giselle called from the dressing room. Marie scoffed. As if she didn't have enough clothes already. "Where's that black skater skirt you love so much? It's been more than a week and I haven't seen it yet."
"It-" Marie stopped and her eyes widened when she remembered. Concealed from Giselle's view, Marie dropped her head into her hands on her lap. "Damn it," she whispered. "Marie?" Giselle called. Marie lifted her head just enough to speak clearly. "It's back at home. I had it on the day before my flight." Which meant she had left it at the farm. "Ah, no wonder. You know, there's a store here that only sells hipster clothing. You'd love it. Even if you don't go for the clothes, it's good for a laugh. I completely forgot to tell you about it. I first thought it was some sort of cute costume shop." Giselle laughed and continued describing the store but Marie was only half-listening. She reached for her phone that lay next to the glasses and unlocked it. Her breath hitched when she saw the message icon in the corner and dropped her phone again. She groaned inwardly sat upright.
Derek had messaged her the night before and she was not ready to read or reply. Which was ridiculous. It had been over a week and she felt like a complete child for not being able to face him yet. It was just a little kiss. . . Maybe she should just buy a new skirt.
Marie shut her eyes tightly and almost laughed at herself. She was really starting to become childish. Gathering a deep breath, she put her wedges back on and took her phone off the table. Marie stood. "Hey, Giselle, I just need to make a quick call. I'll be right back."
"Wait!" The curtain opened and Marie's eyes widened at the sight of the stunning black gown with a sweetheart neckline, lace bodice and gathered skirt that seemed to have a slit at the side. The dress hugged at Giselle's slender curves in a way that would make someone's head spin, particularly Eric's.
"That's the one," she said and pointed for emphasis. "Good!" Giselle slumped her shoulders melodramatically. "I'm starving! Meet you outside in about ten minutes," she said and closed the curtain. Marie gave an unnecessary nod and picked up her bag that lay on a table near the exit. She felt like such a celebrity when shopping with her sister in Palanadia. They both had dressed up in summer dresses that could also serve as date nightdresses, Marie's a mauve and Giselle's a white with porcelain blue floral print. Every here and there they would see some journalist with a camera snapping at them, particularly seeking a scoop about their future queen. Marie stepped into the receiving area of the boutique where a pretty blond assistant smiled at her. "Is everything alright, Miss Balaco?" She asked. Marie smiled and gave a nod. "I've just got to make a call while my sister finishes inside."
"Did she find a dress to her liking?"
"Many." Marie smiled again. "She's decided on one and will be out in a moment. But you'll have to excuse me," Marie said and made a go for the door. "Oh, there's a little quad area through there that connects the different stores. It's a quieter place to talk than on the street," the girl suggested, causing Marie to halt and turn to her as she pointed towards a pair of French doors where light was pouring through along with the shadows of leaves from trees. "Thank you," Marie said with a little wave as she headed towards the doors. Outside the trickle of the fountain almost got her to relax. She sat on the rim and opened the message before she had a chance to hesitate. Marie raised an eyebrow at the message and scoffed, the sound of her bag hitting the ground gave a quiet thud. "You have got to be kidding me," she said, shaking her head incredulously and called him immediately, fueled by something close to but not quite outrage.
"Hey, stranger. How's Palanadia?"
Marie's mouth fell open but she closed it again. Fine, if this is the game you want to play, Derek, she thought before she answered. "Spectacular," she forced a smile into her voice. "I'm staying in this cozy little B&B, the weather is sunny all the time, I've spent hours of catching up with my sister. We watched movies, went for dinner, played board games. We went shopping today and basically spent enough money to send my father into psychogenic shock," she said. "Live and let live," Derek said almost mockingly. Marie pulled the phone from her ear and gave a low growl before returning it. What an insufferable ass! "Anyway, would you mind picking my skirt up for me? I don't really know your dad that well nor can I navigate through the farm and it would be so much easier if I can just pick it up from you when I get back home."
She heard him let out a lazy moan, as if he were relaxing into a seat. "Anything else you want to tell me? Anything else you want to talk about?"
Marie almost rolled her eyes. "Hmm, nothing really comes to mind," she said. There was a brief pause. "Well I'm actually looking forward to seeing you again. This place is kind of dull without you."
Her smile faded. He sounded so sincere. She realized at that moment that she actually missed the idiot. She forced herself not to break and faked a gasp. "How dare you. That is an insult to Mrs. West. Take that back," she ordered mockingly and received a smirk from him. "Of course nothing compares to my grandmother. I dropped by yesterday, she misses you too."
Marie smiled at the thought of the woman. "I'll go visit her soon, probably with my sister. Giselle's working on a piece that she'll absolutely adore, but Giselle's first show in Palanadia is tomorrow night and she's been really busy rehearsing for that." Marie smiled knowingly. Giselle always had great devotion to her art but the sudden fire she had now had definitely been sparked by her desire to impress her fiance. "She's flying back with me and she'll want to drop by to play it herself, but don't tell your grandmother. It's a surprise."
"Great, she'll enjoy that. When do you want to go see my grandma? Maybe I'll stop by and give you your skirt back. Two birds with one stone for both of us," he said. Marie's free hand closed automatically. "I . . ." A sudden surge of panic shot through her, causing her temples to pulse enough so that she could feel it. She shook her head and scolded herself for being so neurotic. "Uhm, I should be free Saturday," she answered. "I'll see you there, maybe then we can actually talk about the subject we're both tiptoeing around."
Marie's eyes lifted and blindly focused on the arch of one of the store doors. "What are you talking about?" she asked, deciding to irk him a bit. "Are we really going to dance around the fact that I kissed you?" he asked, trying and failing to hide his annoyance. Marie smiled victoriously. "Well according to your track record you've kissed many girls," she couldn't help but say.
"Are you mad at me?" He asked in a tone that was much gentler than she expected. Marie paused to think about his question. "I don't know," she said honestly. "I mean who just kisses someone out of the blue without any explanation and then only comes back into contact with them a week after with a text saying, 'You forgot something at my dad's farm. Want me to go get it?'?" Marie asked with sarcasm, she had to exercise great control not to raise her voice. "You should know by now that I'm a bit of a moron."
Marie groaned when she felt a smile touch her lips. She sighed. "You're impossible, Derek."
"How would you want me to react?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe by giving me an explanation as to why you kissed me." Marie felt her cheeks heat in frustration and embarrassment.
"You mean besides the fact that I'm really attracted to you?"
Marie's heart skipped a beat and she dropped her head. This emotion jumping was going to make her lose her mind. How could she be furious at him one second, near laughter the next, furious again, then almost finding him sweet? And it was Derek! She didn't know how to handle someone like him. She understood most of him but only from the perspective of a friend. This was not what friends did, at least not according to her but according to Derek... She'd probably never understand. She shook her head before lifting it. "Derek, you're attracted to the majority of the female population," she said in a neutral tone. "Don't ruin this just because you can't keep that part of yourself at bay. I'm not a toy, I'm your friend and I won't be played around with," she said and noticed Giselle walking towards the assistant to pay for the dress. Marie lifted a hand as Giselle scanned the place. Her sister caught sight of her and Marie opened her palm, indicating that she needed five more minutes. Giselle gave a nod and turned back towards the assistant.
"I'm not about to do that to you, Marie. I kissed you and the reason I can't apologize for doing something so stupid is because I don't regret doing it."
Marie blinked. "I'll see you Saturday. Have a great week," he said but didn't hang up.
"Derek. . ." Marie wasn't sure what to say. She sucked in a deep breath. "And not to be the bearer of bad news, but Dawn of Justice got a pretty shit review so we'll have to find another way to conclude who the better superhero is between Superman and Batman than watching the movie," Derek said.
Despite herself, Marie began to laugh. "We should still see it. . . Or we could redirect our focus to -."
"Civil War?" he guessed. She grinned. "Exactly. I'm calling Team Tony."
"For someone who claims to be so repulsed by being played with, you really do love the Playboy billionaires."
"For someone who enjoys the chase so much, you really do love the righteous and moral."
"Oh, no I'm not Team Captain." Marie frowned. "We're actually agreeing on a side?" She asked. "Team Spidy all the way. Screw your Iron Man devotion." She laughed again and Giselle stepped out of the store with a box containing her new dress. Giselle smiled quizzically as she observed her sister. "I've got to go. Say hi to your dad and Cleo for me," she said and heard him smirk. "You're making me drive to my dad's on my own to get a skirt . . ."
"I'm not making you do anything."
"Yeah, but you know I'd do it because you're asking."
Marie opened her mouth then closed it again. She shook her head, deciding not to overthink it. "What do you want, a biscuit for being a good friend?"
"I'll settle for some forgiveness."
"You're an idiot," she said with laughter laced in her voice and hung up. Giselle raised an eyebrow as Marie stood. "Let me guess, Derek?"
Marie felt her smile deepen. "How many idiots do you think I know?" she asked as she reached for her bag.
'Sup guys :) Comment replies will happen in Part 2, right now I'm having a little (long) study break and I'm about to get back to work but thought I'd drop a bit of procrastination material for those of you who are having the same problem I have right now - tests.
I'm writing in two days yet I'm posting a chapter (obviously I've got my priorities straight).
I love all the people who comment. You guys make my day and i really get super excited every time I see a new comment.
Part 2 will probably be out somewhere next week. A lot of my friends are having big 21st parties in this month and the next so, again, I shall be having priority problems so if I'm taking a bit long to post, please forgive me! Stay smart, readers :)