I study myself at all angles, making deliberate slow circles in front of my full length mirror. My dress is black and short, fitted to my body like an adhesive. Although the dress looks simple, it really is quite complex. There are different cuts in the cloth so that when it's put on, certain sections of skin are showing. My shoulders are bare and there is a small diamond opening in the front of my dress to show off my tan and slender stomach. It's nothing too outrageous, and at a quick glance it might not even be noticeable. It's just enough to show Evan a little skin, I think seductively.
What little cleavage I have is put on display in a respectful manner using the ever popular Push-up bra. I have always been mildly insecure about my chest. I've thought about getting breast implants a time or two but I just can't seem to push myself to do it.
I slip on my three inch black stilettos and add a final touch to my make-up. I have curled my hair tonight and kept it down, allowing it to cascade over my shoulders and down my back. I can't believe I have butterflies in my stomach. I've already been on multiple dates with Evan. And yet I'm getting the 'first date jitters.'
And then I realize perhaps the reason I'm so nervous is not to see Evan's reaction to my dress, but rather to see Jeremy's…
Connie's shrill laughter breaks me from my thoughts and I kick myself into gear. I click off my bathroom light and take my time walking down the hall, getting a better feel for my shoes. As I start walking down the staircase, my cheeks heat and my stomach squirms with anxiety. Stella, get a grip of yourself.
When I hit the bottom stair, I smile at my guests and welcome them into my home. Evan and Jeremy are sitting next to each other on the couch, both of them staring at me like I might vanish into thin air. My heart beat thrums in my ears as I move closer to them. Evan smiles and allows me to see his eyes lingering up and down my body. I can't help but feel proud when he does it.
Jeremy, on the other hand, sucks in a sharp breath and forces himself to look away. And yet for some reason, it's Jeremy's reaction that puts a crimson blush in my cheeks, making my hands turn both cold and clammy.
"Good Lord above Stells, you look phenomenal," Evan says, standing to greet me.
He gives me a warm hug, kissing my cheek softly before pulling away. He moves to my side, allowing his hand to trail down my back and loosely drape around my waist. He's never done this before and my sub conscious is jumping for joy inside my head. She loves this type of attention.
"For realsies! Girl you are wearing that dress!" Connie adds, coming over to give me a quick hug before returning to Gavin's side.
"Well thanks you guys," I say with a sheepish smile. "Have you all had a chance to meet one other?"
I look to Jeremy, doing my best to gauge his reaction. He refuses to make eye contact with me and his face reveals nothing. That's never a good sign.
As dinner winds down, I crack open another bottle of wine and start passing it around the table. In my opinion, the night was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and finished their plates with satisfaction. And thanks to Connie's brazen personality and Evan's witty humor, the laughter and flow of conversation was unwavering the entire evening.
"Is everyone ready for dessert?" I ask.
My insides are warm and my brain feels a bit fuzzy after all the wine I've drank tonight. Ok, this will be my last glass, I promise myself.
"None for me Stellllll-uhhhhh," Connie slurs with a hiccup. "I'm stuffed like a turkey on thanksgivin.'"
Gavin looks at his watch and gives Connie the look that means "it's time to be going," but Connie is oblivious to his signal. Her insides must be even warmer than mine. Her face is deeply flushed and her movements are slow and choppy. Evan passes her the wine bottle, but before she has the chance to take it, Gavin snatches it up.
"Stella I don't mean to be rude, but my parents are coming from out of town tomorrow to have breakfast with us. I'm afraid if we don't leave now, I'm going to regret it in the morning," Gavin says, passing the wine bottle over Connie's outstretched hands and setting it down in front of Jeremy.
I giggle and nod in full understanding. "Of course Gavin. I'll walk you guys out."
Evan stands when I do, helping me out of my chair and guiding me to the front door. Jeremy stays behind, collecting up the dinner plates and moving them into the kitchen. Gavin and Connie take a few minutes to walk to the door, Connie's footsteps a bit fumbled and out of sync with her normal walking pattern.
"Stelllll-uh, I had a fantaaaabulous time tonight!" Connie says with a slap-happy grin on her face.
"Yes, I had a really good time too Stella," Gavin adds, holding Connie protectively against his side. "In fact, what are you all doing tomorrow night?"
Evan shakes his head. "Nothing on my end."
"Nope, me either. And Jeremy is free too," I add for good measure.
"Great," Gavin says. "We're thinking about having a night on Connie's boat tomorrow. We can sail a bit, swim, have a late dinner, maybe have a few drinks. How does that sound?"
"Wow, amazing!" Evan exclaims.
"Sounds good to me!" I say.
"Good. If you want, we'll meet here at your house, Stella. We'll take two cars and you can just follow us from here."
"Sounds good, Gavin!" I say, my excitement already growing.
Gavin nods good-bye to us both, thanking me again for the evening. Evan brings his arm up to drape it over my shoulder. He pulls my body in closer to his, resting his head on top of my own.
"Your hair smells amazing," he murmurs.
Gavin has successfully buckled Connie into the front passenger seat. When he opens the driver's side door, I can hear Connie's booming voice singing some teeny-bopper song. She's snapping her fingers and swiveling her head left and right. I can just make out Gavin's faint laughter as he gets into the car with her, waving good bye to us, and pulling out of my driveway.
"You have nice friends, Stella," Evan says.
He turns me around so I'm facing him now. He gently brushes a loose strand of hair from my face and kisses the tip of my nose. My sub conscious is on the edge of her seat, begging me to stay here to see what Evan will do next.
But I can't, especially with Jeremy's prying eyes in just the next room over.
"Thank you," I respond, tilting my head to the side. "They're an odd pair, the two of them. But they're obviously a lot of fun to be around."
"Yea. I would not be opposed to more double dates with them in the future."
He smiles at me, his eyes bright, and his face flawless. Evan, you have no idea how badly I want a future with you. I can feel tears welling up in my throat at the thought of losing this wonderful man in front of me. I've only just started to get to know him and already I'm being forced to let him go.
Damn that angel and the fulfillment of his stupid 'assignment.'
Evan glances towards the kitchen where Jeremy is still cleaning up dinner. He leans in just slightly and lowers his voice. "You want to go for a short walk?"
"Yes," I respond without hesitation.
Grabbing his hand, I lead Evan out my front door. I don't bother to tell Jeremy where I'm going or when I'll be back. Of course, with his heavenly powers, I'm sure he knows anyway. Evan and I make our way down to the beach, slowing our walk when we reach the shoreline.
Evan rubs his thumb along the top of my hand, his touch so soothing and warm. I slip off my shoes and leave them in the sand, memorizing their location so I won't forget them on my back to the house.
"I like those shoes," Evan says with a smile. "I've got to hand it to you Stells, you looked insanely hot tonight."
I suppress a girlish giggle and squeeze his hand. "Thank you Evan. You're not too shabby yourself."
Evan laughs at my statement and pauses for a moment to stare up at the night sky.
"I had a lot of fun tonight," Evan says quietly. "Ok. And I know it's not my place, but I have to ask. It's kind of been driving me crazy all night, actually. That Jeremy guy -"
Oh jeez, here we go….
"-he's your new roommate for a while, right?"
"Yes," I say.
My stomach is clenching and I am prepared for the worst.
"Does he have feelings for you?" Evan asks, his eyebrows furrowed together with concern.
I'm so taken aback by his question that my mouth just flounders open and close, no words forming no matter how hard I try.
"I know it's none of my business," he says again. "I mean, you and I haven't said we're exclusive or anything. I just don't want to get too attached if I think some other guy is already in the picture. Does that make sense?"
I nod my head slowly, absorbing his words. The sand squishes beneath my feet and through my toes as we continue to walk along the beach. The sound of the ocean is all around me, its calming noise like background music at a fancy restaurant.
"Evan," I say, finally finding my voice, "I assure you there is nothing going on between Jeremy and I. And I can guarantee he doesn't have feelings for me. I'm honestly at a loss for words on how he gave that impression to you."
Evan shrugs his shoulders in the same off-handed way Jeremy does and pulls me in closer to him.
"Well, maybe I'm just reading into it too much. I have that tendency, I suppose. But before Connie and Gavin came over, it just seemed like all he could talk about was you. And the way he kept looking at you during dinner…..I don't know. It was just the vibe I got."
He kept looking at me during dinner? Little tingles of excitement pulse through my body. Somewhere in the depths of my brain, my demon sneers in displeasure, reminding me yet again that angels can't have feelings for demons. If anything, Jeremy was just acting like he had feelings for me as an attempt to dissuade Evan in pursuing me further.
The more I think on that idea, the more I start to believe it. Of course Jeremy would act smitten with me in front of Evan. He's obviously willing to do anything in his power to split Evan and I apart. Acting like the third man in a love triangle would certainly do the trick.
Why, that no good little -
"So Stella, if you neither of you have feelings for each other, can I ask you another question?"
I take a deep breath, trying to calm my anger down to a mere simmer. Oh, that angel must think I was born yesterday if he thinks I'll let his tactics work on Evan. I'm one step ahead of you, Jeremy.
"Of course, Evan," I say, nuzzling into his body.
Evan pulls our walking to a stop, gently tugging me forward until I am standing face to face with him. I can tell he's nervous as he looks into my eyes, and I am once again baffled by how handsome he is. His dark hair is so thick, his face so chiseled and masculine.
"Can we make this exclusive?" Evan asks, a small smile forming on his lips. "Because Stella, I want nothing more than to be the guy that gets to call you my girlfriend."