A/N: I'm SO SORRY for not updating earlier! I was supposed to on Saturday (two days ago), but for the whole weekend, I ended up going out! Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter. I know it's kind of calm and everything ... the drama will come soon :P And yes, for those who read the second last chapter of Fake Fiancee, it's the same Aubrey and Michelle who met Lainie in the ice cream parlour! xoxo
“You make me feel like I’m living a teenage dream …”
“The way you turn me on, I can’t sleep …”
“Let’s runaway and don’t ever look back …”
“Don’t ever look back!”
A ritual for Ruby and I was to spend our Sunday afternoons doing something together. The activities usually ranged from finishing assignments for hours, to visiting thrift stores in search of unique bohemian clothes and sipping on a delicious macchiato at Starbucks. Sometimes we painted our nails and toes, experimented with make-up and belted out to tunes from our iPod docks, like we were doing right now.
Once ‘Teenage Dream’ ended, Ruby started to blow carefully on her painted polka dotted nails. I was really proud of my handiwork. After years of practice on my best friend, I considered myself as a professional manicurist. She was good at pedicures, so we were like scones and jam.
We had started our Sunday sessions or ‘Sunday Sesh’, as Ruby liked to call it, ever since we met in junior year.
I had been walking – scratch that – running in the local mall, trying to reach Sephora before it closed down for the day, because I had been in need of a new eyeliner pencil for the party Aubrey had been holding that night. Of course, I hadn’t been really paying attention to where I was going and I ended up bumping into someone. Before you knew it, we were both on the ground, I had been completely mortified of myself and was about to profusely apologise, but the sight of Ruby on her back with her red hair sprawled everywhere with potato and gravy all over her white tea dress proved to be too funny, and I ended up giggling instead.
Cheeks flushed, Ruby had wiped a small tear away from her soft eyes and asked, “Is this what you wanted?”
You know that feeling when you laugh at other people’s misfortunes, and they end up crying? It’s a horrible, sinking feeling of regret and shame. Well, that was how I had felt. I had stood there in the middle of the mall and watched as the redheaded girl rushed off to the women’s bathrooms to wash the food off her clothes, and debated whether or not to follow her, or to head to Sephora to buy my much needed eyeliner.
It’s pretty obvious what happened. I had gone to apologise to Ruby and we ended up talking.
As for my eyeliner? Well let’s just say that my puppy-dog face had worked like magic on Aubrey.
“I can’t wait to go back to college,” I thoughtfully said, out of the blue. “I know it’s unusual, but I miss the routine.”
Ruby suddenly sat up on her queen-sized bed, making her hair fly dramatically. “Talking about routine, I forgot to tell you something.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“I scored a volunteer job at a teaching centre for disadvantaged students,” She paused for a second to let it sink in, and then continued as she looked out the window. “It feels ... satisfying for me. I feel like I’m doing something you know? I’m helping people.”
I nodded because I understood what she meant. “How many kids do you teach?”
We connected because we had so many common interests. For example, one of them is that Ruby and I both studied in the same field – education. I still remember ‘career day’ in senior year, and we had started talking about what we wanted to be. We both had known that we wanted to help people in some way. She had been set on teaching art and maybe history. On the other hand, I had still been unsure and was looking up information about nursing.
The day when I realised I wanted to be a teacher was when I tried some nurse training in a children’s hospital. It had been a tiring day, until they had asked me to read a story book so some young children, and keep a teenager company while she was writing short stories as a hobby.
“We only focus on one or two kids. It depends on the days we can work. I’m busy with college and only come in on Monday and Thursday, so I’m working with Paul. He is such a cutie too! The poor boy has autism.”
I felt for him. It must be so hard.
“But it’s really worth it.”
“It must be a really good experience. I’d love to do that,” I murmured.
“And you can!” Ruby suddenly exclaimed, making me drop the bottle of nail polish I was holding.
“Oh!” I felt so stupid. How could I have been so clumsy?! “I’ll clean this up,” I assured.
Ruby shuffled forward and was careful not to go near the puddle of gold. “That can wait until later,” she said dismissively. “You can come and watch me teach Paul!”
Feeling doubtful, I shrugged. It would be fun to watch, but I didn’t know if I had enough time, especially with all the small homework and assignments that was sure to come from college. “I don’t know, Ruby. I’ll have to think about it ok?”
I watched as Ruby pouted and moved her fringe out of her clear eyes. She seemed to be deep in thought. “So I’ll take that as a maybe?”
I chuckled. “Yes, it’s definitely a maybe.”
Ruby beamed at my positive answer, then stared at her thin silk blanket, which she used for the summer heat. “I’ll get that cleaned up now,” she announced, pointing to the spilt nail polish.
Immediately, I felt guilty and shook my head fiercely. “No, I’ll do it.”
“It’s my blanket!”
“It’s my fault!”
Ruby nudged me back onto the bed. “I said, I’m doing it!”
Before I could answer however, my phone buzzed in the pocket of my denim cut-offs and I cursed the person who was calling me at a time like this. I checked the caller ID and my cheeks flushed.
I had just cursed Aubrey. What a nice, sisterly thing to do!
A relieved sigh came from the other side of the line. “Gracie, you picked up! Let’s go shopping!”
I blinked at the sudden request. “Why?”
“For the engagement party, silly,” Aubrey replied crisply. “I’ll need a wonderful outfit and different opinions matter to me.”
I sighed. Today was Sunday, a day for my best friend and I, and I certainly didn’t want to ruin it and hurt Ruby’s feelings by ditching her for my older sister. “I can’t, Aubs. It’s Sunday remember? I don’t have time to go shopping; I’m hanging out with Ruby.”
There was silence and I knew that Aubrey was a bit ticked off. My sister didn’t like it when things didn’t go to plan. It scarily took her about half a minute to reply. “Bring Ruby along then.”
I frowned and looked up, because I felt Ruby’s eyes on me while she cleaned up the mess on her blanket. “What?” she mouthed to me.
“Hold on a sec, Aubs.” I then turned back to Ruby and asked, “Hey, my sister wants to go shopping to find an outfit for her engagement party. She wants you to come.”
I didn’t say that she had originally only wanted me to tag along, because it would probably hurt my friend’s feelings.
“Now?” Ruby asked, looking down at what she was wearing – her blossom pink night dress.
“Hmm … alright then. Just let me get changed into something more suitable, ok?”
As Ruby stalked off to sift through her clothes in her wardrobe, I turned my attention back onto the person waiting for me on the phone. “She said she’ll come.”
“Great,” Aubrey replied in her business-like tone. “I’ll come and pick the both of you up in ten minutes.”
“Sure thing, see you.”
And the phone went dead.
* * *
There was a honk from outside Ruby’s townhouse, which signified the arrival of my impatient sister. I smoothed down the collar of my sleeveless peach blouse and followed Ruby out the door, into the breezy summer’s day. A smile lit up on my face as I took in the vast sky and the sun, which was beating down on our little town.
Once we both reached the car, my heart immediately sunk, for there was another person coming along on this shopping trip.
Sitting in the passenger seat of my sister’s car was her best friend, Michelle Moran. They had been an inseparable pair since middle school and ended up as the two most popular girls in high school. Well, technically Aubrey had been more liked because she wasn’t as cold-hearted as Michelle.
I still remembered when Aubrey had came home from her senior prom crying, because she had been announced as prom queen and Michelle had ignored her for the whole night. Honestly, I had no idea how my sister could be best friends with a girl like Michelle, who only looked out for herself.
I knew my thoughts towards her was rather immature and plain rude, but I had reason. Michelle had always made snide remarks about me throughout our high school years, and asked Aubrey questions like, “Why are you sisters with the quiet freak? I don’t get it.”
I had sat there, bursting to say something insulting, but unfortunately, I had lacked the confidence. I didn’t really like starting arguments and making enemies. Who did?
Gratefully, Aubrey had always defended me like a sister should and told her friend to be quiet.
“Well look what the cat dragged in,” Michelle drawled in a low voice, as Ruby and I slid into the car and buckled our seatbelts.
“Can’t you refrain yourself from doing that?” Through the mirror, I saw Aubrey apologetically mouthing the word, ‘sorry’ to me.
I rolled my eyes as she flicked her shiny ash blonde hair in my direction as if I was some worthless piece of trash and started to fix up her make-up in her compact mirror. Unfortunately, she worked as a model, which didn’t help her narcissism. She paraded around in her ridiculous stilettos as if she was the queen of the town.
It was about a half and hour drive to the department store that Aubrey wanted to visit, and once we arrived, we all couldn’t contain our excitement. Even though we all had different senses of style, it was no secret we all enjoyed shopping.
“Just look at this dress!” Ruby pointed out a summer floral dress in purple, green and creamy white. You’d think it was a horrible combination, but the designer had made a really good decision. It was lovely, especially with the cut out of the heart at the back of the dress.
“Who needs that when you have this?” Michelle cooed as she held up leather pencil skirt which had caught her eye. “Just look at this Aubrey! It’s definitely perfect for the office and a hot night out, don’t you think?”
I watched as the two studied the skirt. It was weird because I wasn’t used to Michelle smiling at all. Usually there was a permanent smirk or scowl on her model face.
Aubrey took a baby doll chiffon top from a nearby rack. “This would go with it.”
Michelle took in the top with disgust. “Yellow? Definitely not me.”
“I think it’ll suit you,” Ruby piped in from beside me.
The supermodel shook her head fiercely and shoved the top to me. “It’s more of a Gracie top.”
I took in the look of the piece of clothing and silently agreed, even though Miss Fashionable had deemed it ‘not her type’, which was basically saying that it wasn’t good enough for her. It was me – light, airy but bright.
“It does,” Aubrey mused, with her head tilted slightly and a hand on her hip. “I’ll buy that for you then.”
I didn’t bother to persuade her otherwise, because for one, she’s always been buying me clothes and secondly, a new item in my wardrobe never failed to make me happy.
I walked behind the other three as they headed for the escalator to head upstairs, where the glossy, bright floor was dedicated for women only. Funky music played through the speakers and sale assistants charmed their customers into spending their cash.
Michelle and Aubrey absolutely adored this store, so they knew where we were going. We ended up in an area with many dressing rooms and racks of party and evening gowns. Wow.
“Both of you should find something to wear to the engagement party as well,” Aubrey told Ruby and I. “I’ll pay for it.”
Ruby was slightly taken aback. “Even me?”
“I did say the both of you, didn’t I?” Aubrey replied with a roll of her chocolate brown eyes.
I watched as my sister walked off to join her best friend, who was surveying an animal print dress, then turned my attention back to Ruby. She looked touched that my sister would be willing to buy her something. I wasn’t that surprised though, because Aubrey earned a lot of money from her career. She was a lawyer who was very good at what she did.
“So am I really invited to the engagement party?” Ruby asked in a rather timid manner.
I laughed. “Of course you are! You’re practically family!”
The engagement party – I couldn’t believe I was attending. Aubrey had asked Jason if they could hold it off until I came home so I would feel like a part of the celebration. Wasn’t it so considerate of her? I had been so touched when she had told me.
Ruby and I spent a good hour trying on and looking at expensive designer brand dresses. It felt uncomfortable for both of us though, because we were used to thrift stores and Oxfam shops. Ruby found a bohemian-inspired dress – a gorgeous lavender maxi dress which cascaded down to the floor like a waterfall. It drew attention to her curves and complimented her fiery red hair. Meanwhile, I had chosen a white strapless, which had a silver belt under the bust and flowed out into a fluted skirt.
We were both pleased with our decisions and tentatively joined the older girls, who were studying their figures in the illuminating ceiling-to-floor mirrors. I smiled at my sister, who looked delighted with how her tulle dress made her skin look creamy, but frowned when I saw Michelle’s choice of clothing – a dress which clung to her body in a suggestive manner in bold blue.
“You look striking Mich,” Aubrey told her friend.
Although it was definitely true, Ruby bit her lip to stop herself from smiling and I coughed slightly into the back of my hand. The self-centred supermodel however, didn’t notice our presence and simply beamed at her reflection.
“Aubrey,” I called, making her turn around to face us. “Are you finished?”
She nodded. “Just let Michelle and I change and we’ll meet you at the cashier.”
So Ruby and I walked off and hung around the jewellery section, waiting for the two older girls. When they finally came out, talking, we all went over to the counter to pay. They both took out their platinum credit cards and flashed them in front of the shop assistant, who immediately asked if they would like to buy the small boxes of dark chocolate wrapped in pink tissue, or if they’d like a membership card so they could be offered various discounts on items such as Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses or Tory Burch shoes.
Boy, did Ruby and I feel inferior!
It was a relief when we were able to get out of the department store, after about fifteen minutes of Michelle demanding to know why the store didn’t have Roberto Cavalli misty rose fur coats in stock yet.
As we got into the car, Aubrey slipped on her cat-eye sunglasses and asked, “So where to next?”
“We’re definitely going to a restaurant,” I spoke up, ignoring Michelle’s raised eyebrow. “My stomach’s growling!”