Modellahz diaries

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Prom Dance Ch.8

I slept in the control room, the night before the cotillion, under Arun's watchful eye. It wasn't comfortable and I was only able to grab a couple of hours, but I needed them for the day ahead. I would add a few more hours in the morning then off to the hairdresser. I had an 11:00 AM appointment. The Limo was supposed to pick me up at five. It would be tight, but the hairdresser was close to home and Anita was there to carry me through the final stages. The hairdressers accepted my phone's Coupon Crave coupon without question. I was a little hesitant when I handed it to them to verify, but Arun had done his job well. "My name is Nikki and I will be taking care of you." The woman said as she approached. I smiled as the blonde led me to a chair. Her hair billowed out near her shoulders and seemed to frame her face well. I had high hopes for my hair as well. "Trixie will join us in a moment to handle the makeup." she smiled to set me at ease as I sat down. "Now what are your looking for, dear?"
"I'm not sure," I admitted. "Something elegant," Anita jumped in, "she's going to a formal ball."
"That will be fun," Nikki stated as she fluffed my hair, "maybe a high braided bun with a few accents strands running loose. It would look divine with your skin tone." She tucked some of my hair up high on my head, "we'll have to add some highlights to make it pop." The last time I had a high maintenance hairdo was when I went to prom. I would have to take her word for it. "That sounds nice," I said, looking at Anita for help. "Lovely," Anita agreed. I felt better about my decision.
"My head is yours, Nikki," I directed. She removed my glasses and started with a warm wash that felt so good I almost nodded off. My light brown hair was then professionally highlighted with soft dirty blonde streaks that seemed to blend perfectly, almost like they had been there all along. Nikki knew her job.  "Your first big dance?" Nikki asked. She was trimming away my split ends and cleaning up hair by my neck. "Prom was the last one," I answered, trying not to move my head. "We'll make you the star of the ball," Nikki smiled, "you'll have men throwing themselves at your feet." I tried not to laugh, not wanting to disturb her scissors. "I'll just be happy to not trip on my own feet," I said with a smile in my eyes. "Nonsense," she continued, "you have wonderful bone structure and with a smile like that, they will be fighting for a dance." I felt my face blush. I don't know how much I had embezzled for her services, but it wasn't near enough. "It's been awhile," I joked, "not sure I remember what to do with a man."
"It's like riding a bike," she quipped, "but a lot more smiling comes with the sweating." I couldn't stop the laughter this time. Anita's face wasn't helping. "You'll have to be still if you don't want to look like Medusa." I settled down, struggling to hold my smile in check as Nikki went back to work.
She pulled my hair into a tight braided bun with a few small trailers that were curled down the side of my face. It felt strange not to have a ponytail hanging behind me. My head felt free with nothing to resist my neck from turning. "Absolutely wonderful," a large woman said as she moved toward my chair. "This is Trixie," Nikki said, "she'll take care of your makeup." Trixie walked around the chair looking at my face, her fingers drawing shapes in the air almost like she was finger painting.
"What color is the dress?" Trixie asked. "I have it in the car," Anita announced. "If you could bring it in, it would help," Trixie added, not looking at Anita. Anita ran off quickly. "We don't want to do anything that would lessen the dress or the hair," Trixie mumbled, "they should complement, be friends and laugh together." I was a bit worried she might be insane. "I never try to build beauty, only bring it out. Gently steer the eyes in the proper direction, but never demand their attention."

"She's an artist," Nikki commented, "trust her and you will be pleased." I had little choice since I was already way out of my league. Anita entered with the dress. Trixie pulled back the plastic and held a small portion of the fabric under my chin. Her head moved wildly from side to side, then up and down. She was looking from every angle. She handed the dress to Anita and wordlessly shooed her away. Nikki brought over a large case and set in on the counter. The top opened down the center and it unfolded into numerous trays filled with all sorts of makeup products. Trixie took one last look at my face, turned and grabbed a jar with acuity. "Close your eyes, dear," she instructed. I did and relaxed as the chair lounged back. I heard a stool sliding up next to me. She went to work. She was humming some tune I almost recognized as she lightly applied something to my eyelids. Fingers, cloth, and brushes moved across my face with expertise. For all I knew, I would look like a clown, but she didn't seem to be making any deviations from her intended vision. She paused for a moment when I yawned. It was, after all, my internal clocks middle of the night. The work continued when my mouth settled. I was almost to dreamland when she announced she was finished. I opened my eyes and saw three heads staring at me with smiles. Nikki raised my chair back into a sitting position and they all stepped aside. I could barely recognize the face in the mirror. Nikkie's hair and Trixie's face combined to give me sophistication with an air of fun. I smiled. The face in mirror glowed. I had never looked so good in my life. "Camera?" I asked Anita. She fished her phone out of her purse and captured my new look. It would only last for the night and I wanted proof. "You're gorgeous," Anita said as she examined the screen on her phone to make sure the picture came out. I turned to Nikki and Trixie. "Thank you," I gushed, "you're miracle workers."
"It's all in the raw materials, my dear," Nikki said, waving the compliment away.
"We did do good, though," Trixie smiled as she nodded. I suddenly couldn't wait to get home and don the dress. "4:15," Anita announced, "we have to rush." I left a sizeable tip. I couldn't really afford it, but I haven't been this pleased with my looks since I figured out my parents were biased when I was five years old. I grabbed my glasses off the counter and headed out the door. Anita and I hurried to her house. I put in my contacts and stashed my glasses and a change of clothes in Anita and Arun's guest room. When I came out of the room fully dressed, Arun gave me a wolf whistle. Anita smiled and didn't even scold him. Arya was wide-eyed, her expression said it all. I twirled, watching the hem of my skirt billow out. Everything was perfect. I had never been perfect before. Tonight, I would be a princess. The doorbell rang. Our timing was perfect. Arun opened the door to two gentlemen in black chauffeur livery. "Elite Limousine at your service," the older of the two bowed. The younger, somewhere in his twenties was staring at me. He got an elbow from his elder. "I am Tim, your driver," the elder smiled as he spoke, "and this is my son, Zac. He will be handling the doors."
"Pleased to meet you," I said and for the first time since a fifth grade play, I curtsied. It seemed so natural and the dress seemed to flow with it. Arya giggled and I shared a smile with her.
"Are...are you ready, Ma'am?" Zac stuttered. His eyes were still taking me in. He made me feel even more beautiful. I smiled at him and his face went red. Yes, I was more than ready. Anita giggled.
"I am ready, Sir," I said, moving toward the door. Anita rushed forward with the small pink hand purse I had found at the store. The color was perfect for my dress and held my phone and some backup makeup. Everything else, I left with Anita. Zac held the door of the limo for me. He looked gallant doing it and had obviously been given instructions on how to stand. Tim seemed proud of him. I thanked him as I entered which brought a smile to his face. There was room for ten people in the back of the limo. I was careful to tuck my dress carefully so it would keep its shape as I sat. Zac made sure my dress was completely inside before he closed the door and joined his father in the front seat. "We should have you at The Meriden in twenty minutes, Ms. Igwe," Zac said and pushed a button which started a divider rising up behind the driver seat. "Please," I said, startled at being closed in, "I would rather you didn't close me off." 
"Of course, Ma'am," Tim said with a smile and lowered the panel. He started the car and headed down the road. "It is a fine night for a dance," he commented, realizing I preferred conversation. 
"I am so looking forward to it," I said with a formality that was born from the dress, "It has been a long time since I have attended one." I didn't tell them it was my high school prom.
"I think you will make quite the impression," Tim continued, "Grace and beauty always play well at these affairs." I felt my cheeks warm. Grace and beauty. "I borrowed the dress," I admitted, too embarrassed to accept all the credit. "A shame you can't keep it," Tim said, "you wear it so well."
"I...thank you," I said, unused to the compliments. 
"It's really pretty," Tim added. My smile was becoming permanent. Zac was turning in his seat, I suspect to face me. A stern look from his father had him cease and return to facing front. 
"I don't usually go to these types of things," I said, as I realized the ball was becoming a reality. A little apprehension was sneaking in. 
"You will have no trouble fitting in," Tim countered, "Though I suspect you will be exhausted from all the offers to dance." 
"I am afraid I don't know anyone there," I admitted. I would know my step family, but I was intent on avoiding them. "It's all in the advertising," he said, "just say yes to the first dance request and make sure you're seen on the floor." He chuckled almost to himself, "The single men will go into combat mode to get the next dance. I must admit, I find you brave to attend unescorted." I wasn't sure if I wanted to cringe at the thought or bask in the glory of being brave. I looked out the window, now wondering if I had made the right decision. I did it more to have a secret fight with my step mother. A battle she wouldn't even know we were having. "Zac and I will be right outside," he continued. I think he sensed my apprehension, "If you need to take a breather, thwart a suitor or leave early, we are at your disposal." I smiled at him. I could use a couple of brothers for emotional support. 
"That is good to know," I said, "I might take you up on that breather. Any other pointers?" 
"Just smile," he said. "It's usually pretty stuffy at these things and you are going to be like a fresh breeze." I blushed, happy I chose not to drive alone to the event. I needed my embezzled pseudo brothers. I spent the rest of the trip learning about Tim and his son. Zac was learning to take over his father's business and he made sure I knew he was currently unattached. I was flattered with his subtle flirting, knowing that his father would keep it in check. He was a nice guy, but not my kind of guy. I couldn't really define what I was looking for in a man. I only knew what wouldn't work. I wasn't even sure a perfect partner existed for me. Given my current work schedule, he would have to be part vampire.Zac deftly pulled the limo around the main building missing the other vehicles by inches. The building was called 'The Meriden.' Though I had driven past the front gate before, I could never see over the hedge grove that bordered the property. It was luxurious. Three story high roman columns stood sentry along the long stone porch. To each side of the grand entry steps, lay expertly trimmed bushes that were dotted with red flowers. Light shone through the tall windows, driven by elegant chandeliers that I could just make out since the main floor was raised a good ten steps higher than the drive. Finely dressed people, mostly couples were climbing the steps and heading toward the entrance. Zac moved quickly to open my door. He was smiling as I exited, happy that his father's eyes were finally pointed elsewhere. I straightened my dress as I stood and did a quick turn around. "How do I look?" I asked Zac. "Beautiful, Ms. Igwe," he replied, with a tinge of desire. More flirting. For his benefit and because I couldn't stop it, I smiled honestly. I saw his cheeks go red again. It was all the encouragement I needed. "We will be parked near the walkway," he added, pointing off to the side where a brick walking path terminated. "Thank you, Zac," I replied. I took a deep breath, straightened my shoulders and started up the stairs. There is something about walking into a new experience where past knowledge was useless and perceived scrutiny is high. It raises the heart rate and increases stupidity. My heart went into overdrive as I pulled my phone from my purse. It took three tries to type in the long password that I no longer thought humorous. A well-dressed doorman scanned the invite off the phone and waved me inside with a smile. I almost tripped over the threshold. 
I bypassed the check table and walked slowly into the hall. I was a fish out of water. People were gathered in small groups around the rim of the dance floor. There were small waist high tables scattered about that most of the groups had gravitated to. Waiters and waitresses roamed taking orders and delivering drinks. I had thought myself lonely before. I was desolate now. Standing in the entry way seemed conspicuous and the last thing I desired was to be seen as obviously lost. I fought off the idea of running back to the limo. I moved slowly into the room, fighting the fear I knew was irrational. I set a goal. Find the bathroom I would eventually need. It let me move with more of a purpose. "What a lovely dress." The comment came as I passed one of the small occupied tables. I questioned whether it was directed to me and turned my head late in response. "Truly lovely," A second speaker stated. She was a mature woman oozing sophistication. Her smile seemed honest though her posture was starched proper. Her friend, I suspected the initial speaker, stood a little more cavalier though her jewellery spoke of years of wealth. Both were in conservative, but appealing gowns.
"Thank you," I stammered. My feet stopped oddly out of sync with my turn. I was both happy that someone had spoken and nervous that I may enter into a conversation out of my league. The cavalier women smiled and covered a small chuckle with her hand. "Stop it, Betty," Ms. Sophistication scolded, "she is nervous enough." She turned to me, gracing me with a warm smile. "You look like you may need a friend. Would you like to join us for a while?" I had never heard kinder words in my life. "Yes, very much," I said with more enthusiasm than appropriate. Betty's smile became inviting as she made room for me to slide up to the table. I saw they both had glasses of wine untouched in front of them. They may have just arrived. "I am Ruth and this, of course, is Betty," Ms. Sophistication said, "and you are?"
"Tasha," I replied, happy that I had enough sense to not say Ella. "I gather this is your first shindig," Betty said, ignoring the scowl on Ruth's face. Betty was a straight forward woman who didn't hide her intentions. She moved quickly to the point and wasn't overly concerned with niceties. I liked her.
"Yes," I said, more in my element with Betty, "this event is a lot nicer than I am used too."
"Well you certainly dressed for attention," Betty complimented. Another scowl from Ruth. "You’ll have those boys eating out your hand." I suppressed a laugh. "I'm not really here to find a man," I admitted, "It is more of a small revolt. I was told I couldn't go and I decided I could."
"Never let them tell you no," Betty insisted, jabbing her finger on the table to emphasize the point. "I like you already."
"But be pleasant when you do it," Ruth said softly, trying to counter Betty's aggressiveness. "Would you like something to drink?" A waitress had snuck up behind me. "Yes," I replied. At $5,000 a ticket, I should drink a few gallons. "Some wine would be nice."
"Red or white?" The waitress queried. I had no idea how to answer. It depended upon how sweet the wine was. I was always partial to whatever was on sale and had a screw off top. I knew I was thinking too hard when Ruth jumped in. "Why not try both," Ruth said, nodding to the waitress, "then you can decide your flavour for the night." I didn't even know that was an option. I looked up hopefully at the waitress, but she had already moved on, Ruth's suggestion taken as the order.
"Thank you," I said, smiling at her diplomacy. "Excess is always the main theme at these things," Ruth instructed, "never fear to ask for what you want. It is expected."
"Ugh, those Okoye girls are here," Betty said, her eyes pointing to the entrance. I took a quick look at my stepsisters and their mother. I had to admit they looked good. If they kept their mouths shut, they might attract a few men. "Those two have been hunting for gold the last four events," she continued. My face reddened. How much of my money were they using to fund their safaris? "Hunting?" I asked, keeping my back to my sisters. I knew the answer, but I wanted to keep the conversation going. I enjoyed stepsister gossip. "Husband hunting, my dear" Ruth replied quietly, "they aren't very good at it. Hard to get is not in their repertoire." I stifled a laugh. Betty didn't quiet hers. "Sorry, Love," Betty apologized into Ruth's scowl, this time hiding her smile. I was surprised how she said it. It sounded like she meant it. "It's their mother that eggs them on," Betty continued in a whisper, "she was somewhat successful in her hunting," she shrugged her shoulders, "like mother like daughters." That was an astute observation. My stepmother was very successful. Too successful. Maybe I owed my stepsisters some slack. Like me, it's not their fault they were saddled with Jeremaine. A waiter stopped by offering small plates with mixed hors d'oeuvres. Ruth accepted one for the table along with a set of cloth napkins. The waitress followed a moment later with my red and white wine. I sipped the red, cringed at the bitterness I wasn't expecting. The white was a lot sweeter with a nice fruity finish. "Looks like the white appeals to you," Ruth said, smiling at my taste testing. I must have made quite a face when I tried the red. "I guess my palette is uneducated," I said, trying to sound suave in my ignorance. "Nonsense," Betty said, "your tongue knows what it likes." I saw Ruth send a smile Betty's way. I began to notice they shared a lot of special looks. They must be friends from way back.
The snacks were to die for. All were finger food, the napkin your only plate. I watched Ruth bite into some kind of roll, holding the napkin daintily under her chin. I copied the movement when I bit into a cracker with some kind of seafood concoction. It melted in my mouth. A tangy mix with a hint of sweetness, crab I think, offering a soft texture against the cracker. The real problem with assortments of hors d'oeuvres, there isn't enough of the ones you really like. The seaweed and rice roll was pretty good, but the crab cracker was my favorite.