Page 65 of Don't Look Back

I laughed, letting go of Cassie and everything for the time being. “I hope not. I doubt showing up in a ball gown would be cool.”

“Scott would be pissed. He’d never figure out how to take it off.”

“Ew,” I moaned.

Looping her arm through mine, she giggled. “There’s this dress I’ve seen in there, and I’ve been kind of saving up for it.” Her eyes lit up with excitement and the kind of love only the perfect dress could bring, and now I understood why it was such a big deal. “It’s, like, this 1920s-style flapper dress with beads. Super flirty and just so cute. I hope they still have it.”

“I don’t know what to get,” I admitted. “Or what I like, to be honest.”

“Well, the evil Sammy”—she flashed me a grin—“would choose something that showed as much boobs and legs as humanly possible.”

“Great.” The bell rang over the door as we stepped into the store, which was a maze of racks. “What about the lovable Sam?”

Julie glanced over her shoulder with a frown. “Hmm, good question. Since you were, like, eleven, I’d go with your boobs not hanging out, and actually…actually, you didn’t wear a lot of dresses then. You were a jeans-and-shirt kind of girl.”

“That’s so helpful.” I grinned, following her toward the back, where dresses hung on the walls and filled the racks. A few other girls were there. “So, what dress are you in love with?”

Reaching up on the tips of her toes, she grabbed for a dress shoved behind several long, billowy dresses. I fell in love with what she pulled out instantly. Silvery and shimmery, it was as if a thousand stars had been sewn into the dress, and when she held it up, the overhead light made them sparkle.

Darting to my side, she grinned. “I totally hid it behind the other dresses.”

“I can see why. It’s beautiful.”

“Isn’t it?” She looked like she wanted to make out with the dress. “The only thing is, if I do buy this, I won’t have enough in time to buy shoes. And I don’t have anything in my closet that would do this baby justice.”

I ran my fingers over the intricate beads. “I think I have a pair of silver heels that would go with this dress, actually. They’re really strappy.” Julie’s eyes nearly crossed with awe. “And the heels are, like, four inches, but if you want to borrow them, have at it.”

“I think I love you,” she replied.

Smiling, I shrugged. “Your affection is easily won.”

“When it involves killer shoes? Yes.” She clutched the dress to her chest and squealed. “I’ve tried it on so many times I think the owner of the shop is going to start charging me. Oh! I’m thinking about wearing this wig I kept from last year’s school play. It’s this short bob thing that would work perfectly.”

She was in plays? “Yeah, it would go with the whole flapper thing.”

“And not to mention I think Scott would love it.” Her eyes glimmered with mischief. “It’s like he’s cheating on me with me.”

I laughed out loud at that and returned to thumbing through the racks. Gravitating toward the longer dresses, I went through several black and red ones before my fingers stopped on one that was such a pale shade of green it reminded me of sea foam. Unhooking the dress, I held it up.

The material was supple, and there was a tight band of the same color under the breast. The top, with its neckline, reminded me of the famous Marilyn Monroe dress on the grate. I couldn’t stop touching it.

“Oh, that would look perfect with your hair and complexion,” Julie commented.

My smile was tentative. “You think so?”

“Yes. You should definitely try it on.”

Taking the dress to the counter, I waited for the cashier to let me into the small changing rooms in the back. My back was to the window, and all of a sudden, I got this peculiar sensation…like if I turned around, someone would be standing right there.

I ignored it, watching the plump lady behind the counter finish ringing up a duo of giggling girls.

The feeling persisted. I rubbed the back of my burning neck as my heart rate pitched. Realizing I hadn’t brought any of my pills with me, I focused on maintaining a slow, steady rhythm while Julie poked around the vintage clutches.

After what felt like forever, the lady led me back to the changing rooms and the feeling of being watched lessened until it completely vanished. Feeling good about taking control of my own mind, I stripped in the tiny stall and slipped the dress on over my head.

Twisting to the side, the material moved against my bare skin like satin. The hem swooshed around my ankles and the back dipped low…as did the front. Standing on the tips of my toes, I imagined the look on Carson’s face.

My cheeks flushed.

“Let me see!” Jules banged on the door.

Opening the door, I stepped out and turned around. “What do you think?”

“Wow,” Julie breathed, fixing the material on my shoulder. “It looks great. And it really shows off the girls.”

Boy did it ever. “Too much?”

“Not at all.” She peered over my shoulder. “I can’t see anything looking down. Your date will probably be disappointed, but it definitely draws the eyes.”

I laughed, doubting Carson would be too disappointed. What would he say? Something ridiculously sexy, I was sure. And would he finally kiss me? God, I hoped so.

“You should wear your hair up.” Julie scooped up the long strands, twisting the mess off my shoulders. “Shows off your neck.”

Sold on the dress, I quickly changed and checked out with Julie. I thought the dress was a little pricey, but I believed Dad would be pleasantly surprised that I didn’t break the bank.

We placed our dresses in the car and then headed to a diner down the street. As we waited for our meals, Julie chatted about her summer plans and how Scott was taking her skydiving after graduation. It would be a first for both of them. Apparently I’d done it already, but I didn’t remember. Julie invited me, and the old spark of interest was fueled once more.

Near the end of our lunch date, Julie sat back and folded her arms. “So, you’re really going to prom with Carson?”

I finished off the rest of my cheeseburger, nodding. “Why is that so shocking?”

She gave me a duh look. “Do you like him, or are you just going with him because you don’t want Del anymore?”