There was noise everywhere and it wouldn't stop. I groaned, pulling my pillow over my head.
"Celia!" Lan was attacking my door. "Get up, lazy bum!"
"No!" I shouted back. I curled deeper into my blankets, wondering briefly if I had remembered to lock the door. The banging continued. "Go away!"
I heard the door creak open, and I cursed. I really needed to start remembering to lock the door before I went to bed. Sighing, I squeezed my eyes shut as light footsteps crossed my bedroom floor. My mattress shifted; she was sitting on my bed, now. I waited a few seconds, but nothing happened. Then suddenly, Lan tore the pillow away from my head. I glared at her, tired.
"What time is it?" I asked. My voice was still thick with sleep. "You'd better say sometime past noon. Otherwise you're going to need a pretty good reason why I shouldn't shoot you right now."
"Ten oh three am!" she answered cheerfully. I hissed.
"Why would you wake me up so early?"
"I have a date with Austin—"
"And the need to share that with me was so overwhelming that you just had to wake me up at ten in the morning on a Sunday?"
"He has this friend," Lana continued. "I said we'd double."
It took me a few seconds to register this. "A blind date?" I asked slowly. She nodded.
"Don't worry," she interjected swiftly. "It's just dinner and a movie. Completely casual, no pressure. If he sucks at dinner conversation, you won't have to talk to him during the movie. And if it bombs that much, we can ditch; Austin will take care of your date."
My grouchiness dissolved. I say there, staring at her, going over the possible scenarios in my mind. Lana's face was growing more and more troubled, as I said nothing.
"What's his name?" I questioned finally. Lana sighed in relief.
"Craig," she said brightly. Teasingly, she added, "he's taking Calculus with Aus, so he's smart enough for you, right?"
"Yeah?" I tried to imagine myself, sitting in a booth at a pizzeria somewhere, beside a tall silhouette with a brightly coloured name tag. "CRAIG" was spelled out in big, bold letters. I resisted the urge to cringe at the image.
"Austin says he's a real fun guy," Lana crawled over to sit beside me, her back against the wall.
"Austin says a lot of things," I mumbled. "Not a lot of it happens to be truth."
She continued on as if she hadn't heard me. "You could use some fun."
I swatted at her. What's that supposed to mean?"
"Lee, you can't spend your life living through a dry spell."
"This is not a dry spell," I protested. "I just don't see the point right now is all."
"Dry spell," Lana said dismissively as she giggled. "We'll fix that."
"Fix?" I echoed. She threw me an impish grin. "What do you mean, 'fix'?"
"Get dressed. I've got work to do."
"But it's ten am on a Sunday!" I wailed, grabbing my pillow and ducking under it to hide once more. This plan was foiled yet again, by Lan who grabbed it and threw it across the room. "Can't I sleep for another few hours?"
"No," she answered darkly. "If I don't get you up now, you're going to try and find a million things to do. I can't let you out of my sight."
Damn. I sighed.
"Besides," she cooed. "I want to go out. Let's get coffee."
It was going to be a very long Sunday if Lana wanted caffeine in her system.
"Come on, get ready. You're driving," she grinned and left my room. I yawned, curling up on my side again.
"Ugh." I whined to my wall. "This is so not fair…"
"Mmmm," Lana sighed happily as she sipped her latte. "This is amazing."
"You only say that when you're not paying for it," I mumbled, blowing gently through the hole in the plastic lid of my paper cup.
We were sitting in the newest location for the Starbucks in a well-known mall that held itself high, with its two floors.
"The fact that I didn't pay for it makes it taste so much better," she chirped.
"You're welcome," I said flatly.
"You're the best, Lee. I don't know what I would do without you." Lana smiled sweetly, holding her cup with both hands, wrapping her delicate fingers around it.
"Nothing," I replied, taking a small sip of my caramel macchiato. She stuck her tongue out at me.
"Are you going to tell me about the guy from SuperStore?"
I shook my head at her, frowning. "No."
"Please?" Lana pouted. I closed my eyes and shook my head again. I heard her make that oddly high pitched frustrated sound. "Celia."
I stood up, pulling on my jacket and grabbing my drink. She looked up at me expecting and answer and I waited her to follow suit. "Come on, don't we have to go get ready for my blind date? I wanna go shopping or something."
"You're avoiding the subject," Lana was pouting again as she finally stood. "You're going to tell me eventually, you know."
Oh, no I wasn't. I was going to avoid telling Lana that I saw Max for as long as humanly possible. She knew about him, who he was. I didn't want her knowing that he was now in the city.
"Where to, captain?" I asked. I stood by the entrance/exit that led back into the mall. Lana stepped forward, pouting like a child.
"I don't know," she said sourly. "I don't know what I'm going to have to work with."
I rolled my eyes. "You have my entire wardrobe and access to all my makeup."
"All of it?" she peeked at me as we walked.
"All of it," I confirmed, taking another sip of my near scalding drink.
"Let's go upstairs, then and start with makeup." Lana was planning, envisioning and organizing colour palettes in her mind as we spoke. I don't think she even heard me agree with her. She walked quickly—never spilling her latte—in brisk, graceful movements, pausing only because there were people who were on the escalator before her. Sunlight streamed through the high glass-topped tower ceilings, illuminating the escalator area like a spotlight. I took my time, slowly following after my Asian stylist, giving her plenty of time to create and recreate probably thousands of looks for me in her mind.
"You go ahead, Lan," I began. She whirled around and glared at me as soon as the words were out of my mouth but I continued anyway. "There's something at Spencers I want to check out first, okay?"
I didn't wait for her reply but disappeared into the store. Ah, Spencers. A collection of hilariously perverted and just plain epically cool stuff. I mean, come on. How cool are Mario mushroom candy tins? They're just about the best things ever. I debated on buying one of them, seeing as I'm really going to need a big pick-me-up after tonight. I moved on to the back of the store, searching for a good laugh at all the strange and absurd 'toys'.
"This could turn into a daily thing, you know."
I refrained from screaming, but I didn't escape the natural reaction to jump before I turned around. He grinned at me and I groaned in exasperation.
"Oh, come on. Now you're just plain creepy." I muttered. Max was beaming as he stepped forward. Only then did I notice he was holding something. I looked down at his hands. He was holding some very… interesting, lingerie, to say the least.
"What do you think of this?" he asked, holding it up for me to see. It was extremely skimpy. Trying to keep my calm, I rolled my eyes.
"It's not your size; you won't fit into that, fatty." I replied icily. He let out a low chuckle, stepping closer.
"Not for me," he said huskily. "For you."
I think my heart stopped. I couldn't figure out what to say or even what to think. He smirked at me. I flushed deeply, staring at him incredulously as he closed any and all distance between us, leaning forward to place his lips near my ear while his hands hovered lightly over my waist.
"I'd like to see you wear this for me," his voice was so low, he might as well have been whispering. Excitement and disgust whelmed up inside of me. I stepped away from him.
"Please drop dead," I hissed at him before walking out of the store without a glance back.
My heart was racing as I made my way over to the black and white stripped front of the store I knew Lana would be in. I sought her out in the aisles upon aisles of makeup, perfume and skin products. It was all organized by brand and she was browsing the Urban Decay section. She didn't look up when I approached.
"What kind of look can I give you?" she asked, her eyes scanning through the rainbow of eyeshadow palettes.
"One that doesn't make me look like a trashy, washed-up prostitute," I answered, resting my head on her shoulder, tiredly. "What colours were you thinking of?"
"Specific," Lana said flatly. "How about girl-next-door?"
"How about 'Celia Lawrence: about to be tortured'?"
"Very funny," she frowned at me. "We'll use what you have. Let's move on to clothes."
"After two hours, you're going to tell me that we're going to 'use what I have' in the clothes department, too." I said teasingly. She laughed at that one.
"It's quite possible. But I don't think it's likely," Lana flashed me an impish smile. "There's a sale at Suzy Shier."
And she didn't have to say anything more.
"I can't believe you're doing this to me!" I groaned. We were sitting in her bedroom, with a mirror propped up against the wall and resting on her desk as a makeshift vanity. The happenings of today were only momentarily forgotten.
"It's not like you don't like it," she answered patiently. I couldn't tell if it was true or not which frightened me most of all.
"Hush up and be still," Lan instructed. She tugged a lock of my hair gently, curling it expertly around the white-hot weapon of choice in her hand. "Or I'll burn you with the curling iron."
"You're evil," I complained. "You are a spawn of the devil. A monster. A witch. You're lucky you're pretty."
Lana simply laughed. "I'm done, take a look."
She spun the desk chair so that I was facing the mirror. I gasped. The girl I saw in the reflection stared back at me in surprise, perfect ringlets of reddish-brown hair framing her face. Her cheeks were tinged with a bit of blush; her eyes were perfectly made up, her lips glossed.
In other words, she wasn't quite me.
The girl in the mirror was Lana's creation.
"You like?" she asked eagerly.
"It doesn't look like me," I said quietly. But I couldn't stop staring at her. Lan wrapped an arm around me. The girl in the mirror looked like the girl that Lana breathed life into whenever she was bored.
"Of course it looks like you, Lee," she assured me. "You're just not used to getting so dressed up all the time. If I had it my way, you'd be wearing more makeup on a daily basis."
"If you had your way, you'd treat me like a doll," I mumbled. She smiled a bit, rubbing my shoulder comfortingly and glancing over at the clock at her desk.
"They'll be here soon. I'm going to get dressed."
I sat there, just frowning at myself and making different facial expressions. I wanted to make sure that it really was me, staring back at me in the mirror. I reached out and let my fingertips touch the glass, lightly.
"You said it was just dinner and a movie, why are we getting so dressed up?" I grumbled.
"We're going to Moxie's, at Polo," she replied.
"Moxie's isn't so formal," I countered. "It can be very casual."
"It can also be a great date restaurant, which is why you need to get dressed up. Stop complaining."
"But you're setting me up." I whined. Lana shot me a look.
"For your own good," she said in the most motherly tone I had ever heard. "You got pretty clothes, didn't you? Be happy about that, at least."
I sighed happily and looked over at her bed, where I had laid out my clothes. It was true; the top I had bought today was definitely a good pick-me-up and a reason to rejoice. Lana left me to dress while she went to go get ready herself. I slid on my leggings as slowly as I possibly could, tugging the black, stretchy fabric sluggishly over my skin. It was like a second layer of skin, once I was wearing them properly. I picked up my shirt and smiled. It was an adorable mix between a thick-strapped tank top and a pretty, loose-sleeved, dressy, t-shirt. It was brown, long and fitted and ruched. I was debating on cutting off the strap, as it could be a very cute one-shoulder top without it but I decided against it. I slid it on, flatting the front against my stomach, smiling broadly. I was happy, maybe even a little excited. It had been so long since I had just dressed up and gone out to flirt.
"You know, I really think I'm going to enjoy this," I said to Lana. She looked over at me from her closet and smiled.
"What would you do without me?" she asked innocently. It was a rhetorical question but I answered her anyway.
"A hell of a lot," I grinned.