I heard the car beeping in front of my flat’s sidewalk as I flipped the latch on the door and walked to the elevator/lift. My phone flashed as a message from Eleanor swooped up onto the screen: We’re downstairs waiting! Liam’s getting a bit impatient JI laughed as I got off on the first floor and shuffled out into the London street.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I had just gotten home from classes. Zayn hadn’t stopped by today because it would been completely pointless; it would have been that awkward 15 minute tea with nothing to talk about. So he stayed home after picking up Waliyha, and I honestly knew it was good for him because his mother missed him loads amidst his work…and me. I smiled as I slipped my Blackberry into my leather purse pocket, its black case quietly melding into the mold of my purse. My sunglasses were on my face, shielding me from the afternoon orange sky. I loved London because everything was much more picturesque here. Well I mean it was probably because I ignored how the afternoon sunset light glinted off of the top parts of Washington, DC buildings.
I slung my purse on my shoulder as I walked out of the building, passing the young man at the lobby desk – Zayn was always jealous because Nathan had a crush on me and would always want to walk me to the lift – and I flashed him a smile. Today my style was relaxed chic, a pair of comfy and rather ripped bleached jean capris with a loose pink crop top, the three quarter sleeves sliding up and down my arm as I fixed my braided bun. I finished the outfit with teal green Toms that Louis was very proud of and Molly wanted to barf on. But all in all, it was a good fashion day for me.
No wonder Nathan was in love with me.
Liam was sitting in his new navy blue Jeep, waving at me to come out. Danielle was in the passenger seat and I assumed Eleanor was in the back. I moved my hair out of my face as I stepped out onto the gray pavement and walked quickly to the back of the Jeep, flashing a smile at both Danielle and Liam, who was now turning on the engine to the car.
“Jess, long time no see!” said a voice instantly recognizable as the one and only Eleanor. She flashed me a bright smile, one that matched her beautiful yet casual outfit of skinny white jeans, flats, and a striped sweater. Eleanor made me smile but also made me sad because she was gorgeous, and I just wanted to be her. Like perfect, flawless, and never forced. She didn’t even have to try to be the beautiful person she was. Inside and out. Argh, I wanted to be her so badly.
Anyway, moving on. I flashed her a smile and gave her a hug as I got comfortable in the Jeep. I was ready for this shopping trip, or so I had thought.
We talked about our days as we drove through London, admiring the sights and pointing out places we’d been, never wanted to return to, or would like to try again. We eventually started getting closer to the mall.
“So Eleanor and I were discussing what you’d look really good in, you know, before we picked you up” Danielle said, turning her head of curly brown hair toward me, a huge smile on her face. She turned to Liam, who was carefully maneuvering the car, and said, “And Liam and us agreed we’d like to see you in something tight and sexy.” She had a sneaky smile on her face.
I didn’t. I stared at her flat in the face, no emotion registering on my face at all. Eleanor smiled at me, her face intrigued, while Liam let out a laugh.
“I mean, Jess, not tight…” said Liam, his eyes flicking up to the rearview mirror. “Damn Jess, you seem worried!” He realized my state of emotion and laughed again, running a hand through his hair. “Well I don’t know what to say, these girls are dangerous around clothes,” he said in a quiet voice, as he made the turn into the mall complex.
“I mean… we really don’t have to buy anything…” I was unbuckling my seat belt, not knowing whether to sprint out the door back toward my apartment or just stay bolted to the seat.
“Oh come on Jess, it’ll be great, we know what we’re doing,” Eleanor reassured me, as she smiled at Danielle. Eleanor got out of the car, gathered her belongings and texted a message, probably to Louis, with her long but dainty fingers.
Danielle hopped out of the car, her long legs hitting the pavement and quickly making it around to Liam’s rolled down window. She planted a quick kiss on his lips and told him to pick us up in another two or three hours or so.
I got out of the car and gave Liam a worried look. He smiled and said, “Trust ‘em, they know what they’re doing. I mean they always look great so…”
“If you’re trying to get another kiss out of me, it’s not gonna happen,” said Danielle, who was already walking down toward the entrance of the mall, Eleanor close behind. She stopped, and looked in my direction. I was still clinging to Liam’s car, refusing to move forward.
“Jess. Come on. It’ll be fine,” said Eleanor, her head tilting in that puppy-dog way, her lips pursed like an innocent little child ready for an adventure.
I hated when she did that. It was totally the way she got Louis to gift her whatever she wanted.
“Okay Jess, you can’t say no to that,” said Liam, poking me in the shoulder. “You can do it. Look sexy for us, now.”
I returned his smirk with a glare.
“Okay, okay, I’m going,” he said, the key starting up the ignition and the car driving away from me. My legs decided to take me toward Eleanor and Danielle, who were both lighting up like Christmas trees. My head was hanging in fear.
“Oh babe, lose the face, we’re going to have a grand time,” said Danielle. She was so excited I felt bad. I let a smile rise up to my face, and Eleanor looped her arm through mine to reassure me even more.
We walked into the mall, my mood lightening as we talked about our boyfriends, cute boys at work/school, and life in general. We walked together, Eleanor to my left and Danielle to my right, pointing out funny people, cute couples, or horrendous outfits.
“You know, the fun doesn’t stop when you’re in a relationship,” said Danielle, as she moved her hips at some tattooed rag doll trying to sell free belly button piercings. “You just have to know to have fun with it,” she said, running her hands through her hair at a boy at an ice cream counter. They all seemed quite enthralled by Danielle. And for some damn reason, it was all natural to her. If I tried moving my hips at a guy like that, they’d think I had hip problems. Or mental problems.
Eleanor laughed as he sent glances this way and that, but Danielle sensed my how uncomfortable I felt.
“Now, now, Jess,” she said, her heels click clacking toward a store that I knew meant bad news for me, “we must definitely love our boys, but to know that we have the power to make other men weak… it’s too good. It’s hilarious actually,” she said. “You just have to take it halfheartedly.”
I smiled back at her, kind of confused.
“Well?” She said, still moving in a direction toward the same store filled with scary looking evening gowns.
“What do you mean well?” I said, trying to detour our group in another direction.
“You know what I mean by well,” she said, “and no, you smartass, we’re going to that store right there,” Danielle said, pointing at the shop.
I sighed. “I can’t shake my hips and do all that stuff you all are doing because I don’t look like you guys and I swear even if I tried I’d look like a horrible mess,” I said, the words coming out jumbled and confused.
“Jess, stop,” said Eleanor, her hand landing on my shoulder. She was just such a calm little mess I couldn’t even deal. “You’re gorgeous, and we all know that Zayn goes for the drop dead beautiful girls.” She fixed a curl that was sticking up from my head. I was that pathetic loser.
“Ah well, I guess I ended that trend,” I said, fiddling with the bottom of my shirt. I got a shut-the-hell-up stare from Danielle. She couldn’t deal when I was hard on myself about my appearance.
“Hon you’re gorgeous,” she said, quickening her pace as we entered the store. “And you’ll know that for sure when you try on some of these dresses.”
I stopped at the entrance of the store while Eleanor and Danielle went in, already scouring through dresses. Danielle had gone full throttle in the backless dress section while Eleanor was looking through the more dainty, short dresses. Sometimes I liked Eleanor’s style. I couldn’t rock it like she did, but it was much more sane to me.
I dawdled near the front, hoping to make a quick getaway when they weren’t looking. But Eleanor had her eyes on me.
She dropped her shoulders and pulled me over to where Danielle was looking through cleavage bearing, sequined dresses.
She looked deep into my eyes and asked me, “Jess, what do you want to wear tomorrow night?” She was holding my two shoulders as if to keep me from running away.
“I don’t know…” I stuttered. “Just, I don’t know…just something…I don’t know, something I’d feel beautiful in?”
“That’s what we’re trying to do babe,” said Danielle, her hands on my shoulders, pulling me so to face her. “Just trust us with this. We’ll pick something that you’ll feel freaking amazing in and Zayn will just drool over you.”
Eleanor let out a giggle while I rolled my eyes.
“As long as you guys aren’t playing a joke on me and are planning on making fun of me at the party…” I said, giving both of them a long look. They weren’t capable of screwing with me on such a high level, but I just wanted to make sure.
“We promise,” they both said, each grabbing one of my hands.
“So you ready to try on some new stuff?” Eleanor said, her hands moving through racks of dresses.
“Yup, I guess so,” I said, taking a deep breath and moving to a rack of my own. It was a bunch of short dresses that had a small amount of glitter and sequins. I could somewhat work with those.
Unfortunately, Danielle didn’t think the same way.
“Babe, please please no short dresses…” she whined.
“Why? Aren’t you gonna wear one?” I said, my eyes wandering over a white, sequined ensemble that would have hit mid-thigh and hidden all my unnecessary fat.
“I mean I am, but Jess, you always do short and flowy,” she responded, the whine still in her voice.
“Well then what?!” I said, a bit frustrated.
She turned to me, a sneaky smile on her face. “So this rack is filled with tight long dresses…you’d be so hot in these.”
Eleanor waltzed on over while I looked at the dresses. They were absolutely beautiful, but they would just highlight every piece of fat on my body.
“No, Danielle…” I said, a piece of sadness in my voice.
“But, why, Jess?” said Eleanor, her hands smoothing a deep, metallic red dress.
“Well, I mean, because, obviously….” I stuttered. God, that dress Eleanor was holding was breathtakingly gorgeous.
“No, no Eleanor, I know why,” Danielle answered for me. She picked up the dress and felt it between her hands. “It’s because when she wears this,” she flicked her eyes toward me and then back to Eleanor, “Zayn will see everything he hasn’t been able to see in bed… You know they haven’t shagged yet?!” She laughed, while Eleanor’s face became humorous and her mouth shaped into a wide O.
I felt a smile creep up on my face, emotion heating it like no other. “No,” I replied, throwing a playful slap at Danielle, “It’s because I’m obviously huge and that dress would just show how fat and walrus like I am in real life!” I threw my hands to my side like a little girl.
“Okay hi, you need to shut up and just try this on,” Danielle said, throwing the dress into my arms. Eleanor pushed me into the trial room.
“Guys…” I said, standing in the trial room, holding the red dress in my hands.
“JUST TRY IT ON,” they said together outside the door.
I could see their feet from under the door and knew that I couldn’t just creep out of the store.
“Ugh I hate you guys,” I said. I turned away from the mirror and began to strip. I slid into the deep red, maroon dress and pulled the straps up to my shoulders. I didn’t even care to the look in the mirror because I knew I looked like a hippo.
“Open up, we can see the dress under the door!” Eleanor said, excitement shaking her voice.
I unlatched the door and pulled it wide open so they could see. Their faces were filled with awe and smiles. I felt completely indifferent.
“Yup, kay, so I look hilarious, I’m gonna go change now,” I said, pulling the door toward me and starting to unhook the side of the dress.
“Jess, stop, you look amazing.” Danielle said. Her breath changed a bit and I turned to look at her. “Did you even look in the mirror?”
“I mean I don’t need to, I look like a joke…” I said, but she refused. She swiveled me toward the window and I saw someone I had never seen before.
She was wearing a deep maroon dress that had a quiet sheen on it, little sparkles coming off of here and there. The dress clung tightly to her nonexistent bust – which now seemed very full – and to her hips and to her butt. The tightness stopped at her knees, where it flared out softly. The spaghetti straps cut into her shoulders nicely, and there was no cleavage; the top was a simple cover it all style.
Everything was there. My boobs, my thighs, my hips, my butt. My tummy seemed flatter as the fabric tied it back. It looked painfully tight, but I felt absolutely comfortable.
“Now look at the back,” said Eleanor, who turned me from the side. My head turned over my shoulder to see the party in the back.
There was nothing there to see. My back was completely bare, dark maroon glittery straps making a low X on my back. There was absolutely nothing covering my back apart from those two straps; the fabric returned right at the top of my butt.
“What do you think now?” said Danielle, as she swiveled my shocked face toward her.
I looked at her completely shocked and turned back to the mirror, quietly admiring the girl who was on the other side. I got a shiver wondering what Zayn would think seeing me in this.
“You like it, don’t you, Jess?” said Eleanor, a smile on her face.
I nodded in the mirror, unable to form sentences.
They both grabbed a shoulder and shook me.
“We’ve got your dress,” said Danielle. “and it was tight and sexy.” They high fived each other behind my head.
I was still lost in the mirror. Who was that girl?