“Before you came here, Jared was hard. Cynical. You didn’t need to be an Empath to know that. I wouldn’t say he’s changed. No, he’s still like that in many ways. But my point is that he’s not like that with you. When he’s with you, he’s relaxed. He trusts you. I’d say that’s a big thing for Jared. I can sense that he’s not a very trusting person, just as I can sense that he absolutely adores you. Oh, luv, if you’d have felt how beside himself he was when your gifts were on the blink, you wouldn’t be worrying like this. If there was any doubt in my mind about his commitment to you, I’d be trying to talk you out of the Binding. I’m a meddling sod like that.”
I smiled. “Yeah, you would do that, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, because I love you. And Jared does as well.”
A knock at the apartment door had Fletcher bouncing to his feet. “This is going to be fabulous.”
“Why do I get the feeling that this is more for you than it is for me?”
He gave me a wounded look. “I can’t believe you’d even think that.”
“So I’m right then?”
“Possibly.” He opened the door, and a tall Keja with flowing sable hair and a large, silver cosmetics case strolled inside.
The Keja shook my hand. “Hi, my name’s Rayna. I’m here to do your Swarovski Pedicure. Are you both having one?”
“What’s a Swarovski Pedicure?” It turned out that it was when someone spent almost two hours applying individual Swarovski crystals to your toenails in a very intricate, beehive formation. And it was bloody great. I liked it so much that I even asked her to apply them to my fingernails as well.
Afterwards, Fletcher and I sat back and admired them with sighs of appreciation.
“These will look fabulous with your ceremony dress and shoes.”
“Am I allowed to see this dress yet?”
Hearing the apprehension in my voice, he shook his head at me sadly. “I’m hurt that you have so little faith in me. But, yes, you can see it now.” Obviously excited, he practically skipped to my bedroom.
I followed behind him, dreading what was about to happen. I would no doubt dislike it, and he would no doubt become upset, and then I would have offended my best mate. In the room, I found him standing before the bag that was hanging on my wardrobe door.
“Ready?” Without giving me a chance to answer, he tackled the zipper and pulled out the weirdest thing I’d ever seen. There wasn’t a word to describe it. A mix of pink and purple, the organza gown actually had fairy wings and a magic wand.
“A joke. Calm down.”
I sagged in relief. “Sod.”
“This is your dress.” He carefully withdrew another dress and held it out at arms’ length. Ducking under his arm in order to circle the garment, I literally couldn’t say a word. Technically, I shouldn’t like this dress. I mean, I’d envisioned myself in something reasonably simple but nice…maybe a white silk halter-neck that was just below knee-length, lacking even a hint of a train. This sleeveless, backless, floor-length dress was pretty much the opposite.
In the typical ‘fit n flare’ style, it was skin-tight all the way to mid-thigh before flaring out. It was definitely going to accentuate my already noticeable cle**age. And it was decorated with girly things like crystals and beads, and even had a clump of rosettes on one hip. But I absolutely loved it. That must have shown on my face, because Fletcher hung up the dress and started jumping up and down, clapping like a performing seal.
“I knew you’d adore it! See, you should have a little more faith in your mates.”
“Is it satin?”
“Yep. Isn’t the court train gorgeous? I had a feeling you still wouldn’t want one, so I asked the designer to sew in a little loop.” If he hadn’t pointed it out to me, I never would have noticed it. “If you don’t want the train, or you just want it out of your way while you’re dancing, all you have to do is lift it by the loop and then hook it on one of the fake buttons near the small of your back.”
I did the only thing I could do right then. I practically wrapped myself around Fletcher, hugging the breath out of him. Then we were both jumping up and down, squealing in delight – something I wouldn’t normally do.
“Come on, you have to try it on. I’m convinced that it will fit, but it’s best to make sure.”
Both mine and Fletcher’s eyes widened at the sound of Jared calling my name. “He must’ve teleported inside. Don’t come in! You’re not allowed to see my dress!”
“Okay, I’ll wait out here.” I could hear the smile in his voice.
Fletcher and I worked as a team to quickly, but still carefully, return the dress to the bag. We both breathed a sigh of relief when the zipper was closed.
“Can I come in now?”
“Yes,” I replied.
Opening the door, he went to walk inside, but then his eyes caught sight of something over my shoulder and he froze. “Whoa.”
Realising what he’d seen, I chuckled. “Don’t worry; that’s not the dress. Fletcher thought it would be funny to make me think I’d be dressed like a slutty fairy at my Binding Ceremony.”
Fletcher smirked. “You should’ve seen her expression, it was priceless.” His smirk was replaced by a frown as he folded his arms across his chest. “Hang on a minute. You’re not supposed to be here. You’re not allowed to see her the night before. It’s bad luck.”
Jared rolled his eyes. “That’s a human thing.”
“She hasn’t tried on her dress yet.”
A shrug. “She can do it after I’m gone.”
“She’s supposed to be relaxing.”
“You’re suggesting that I’m not a relaxing person to be around?” This was asked with all the innocence of a five year old.
Fletcher sighed tiredly. “I won’t get you to leave, will I?”
Adjusting his glasses on his nose, Fletcher sighed again. “I’ll leave you two alone, then. Try not to bonk, all right? It’ll all add to the anticipation for tomorrow evening.”
As Fletcher dashed out of the room, Jared snatched my hand and tugged me to him before landing a very disorientating kiss on me. “Hey baby.”
“I didn’t expect you to come here. Aren’t you supposed to be getting hammered with the boys?” That had sounded a lot more fun than a pamper party, but everyone was determined to keep us separated for this one night.