“You guys look amazing!”
Alanna wasn’t exaggerating. Maria’s olive green mermaid gown complemented her skin tone perfectly. The bodice of the dress was a body-hugging tube with a gold braid extending from the left side of her waist, across her body to her right shoulder. There was also gold piping along the bust and waist of the dress. Maria’s hair was swept into a messy but elegant knot at the back of her head and she had accessorized very simply with pendant gold earrings, a gold cuff on her left wrist and olive green strappy sandals. Her makeup was understated and gave her a fresh faced look.
Lexie was wearing a deep blue halter ball gown, fitted on top and flaring slightly from the waist. The back featured a deep V down to her waist. The majority of the gown’s skirt was taken up by a mixed zebra and leopard print that started on her left hip and extended diagonally across the front and back of the skirt, enveloping the remainder. Lexie wore silver teardrop earrings and silver open toed heels. Her makeup was minimal as well with just a hint of sparkly blue eyeliner that made her eyes really pop.
“Terrence and Michael, I hope you guys know how lucky you are,” Alanna added as the guys slipped corsages onto the hands of their dates.
Alexis blushed as Michael replied, “Trust me, I know.”
Alanna smiled broadly, enjoying the compliment he’d just paid to her sister. Lexie was always uncomfortable being the centre of attention for too long and turned to Alanna asking for the millionth time that she join in the festivities. Her little sister shook her head.
“Well, the gown is on your bed, with matching accessories all picked out; if you should change your mind.”
Lana smiled and walked them to the door.
“Have fun, kiddos! And take good care of the girls!”
“Yes, ma’am!” the boys responded in unison, grinning.
Alanna laughed as she closed the door and then deciding to go to the pool earlier than usual, grabbed her bag from the closet near the front door and headed out.
Terrence worried that his disappointment was visible and overcompensated by lavishing so much attention on Maria that she started to feel claustrophobic. She excused herself and headed to the ladies’ room as soon as they arrived at the hall. Lexie went with her and after checking to see that they were alone, Maria expressed her bewilderment at Terry’s behaviour.
“He has never been this clingy. I don’t know if he’s taking Alanna’s words to heart or he’s showing a side of him I’ve never seen before. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.”
“Let’s see how the rest of the night goes. If it gets unbearable, pull him aside and let him know how you feel, but politely. If that still doesn’t do the trick, then tell him you’ll hang out with Mike and I for the rest of the night. We’ll run interference, no problem.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to ruin your night.”
“Nah, you won’t. But I have a feeling that the rest of your night will be fine. He’s probably just nervous. You do look amazing like Alanna said.”
Maria smiled. She could see why Lana loved her big sister so much. She was such a calm and level-headed person. Lexie knew just what to say to make you feel better. Maria was an only child. Growing up, she had never wished for a sibling because she had her parents all to herself and got their full support, time and attention. As she got older and that inevitable rift forms between a young adult and his/her parents developed, she still didn’t feel that ache for a sister or brother to confide in. She was fairly independent and could bend her best friend’s ear when she really needed to blow off steam. But as Maria moved closer to graduation year and her priorities changed and she and friends grew apart, she began to feel a little lonely. She didn’t have many cousins or anyone she could pick up the phone and call when she was depressed at three in the morning. Then she met Alanna, and she grew to love her like a sister. And she realised now that Lexie would become just as important to her. For the first time in a long time, Maria felt like she was a part of a family.
Lexie was a bit taken off guard at the fierce hug Maria gave her before they went to rejoin the guys. But she was glad that she seemed to have lifted the younger girl’s spirits. Maria had been a great source of support for Lana and Lexie loved her for it. She could tell that Maria had felt alone for a long time and the big sister in her couldn’t help but reach out to her. They walked out in comfortable silence, each grateful for the little family they had formed at St. Aloysius.
While Maria was getting a welcome boost from Alanna, Terrence was experiencing the shock of his life from Michael.
“You know what you’re doing just makes you look more guilty, right?”
“Come on. Anyone with eyes can see the way you look at Alanna. For whatever reason, she’s off limits to you and you’re trying to use Maria as a distraction. You always pay extra attention to Maria when Lana is around and I figure you’re trying to hide your disappointment about Lana’s absence tonight by being ridiculously over-attentive. Hell, even Ria’s feeling uncomfortable right now.”
“Shit! Dude, have I been that obvious? Do you think Maria knows?”
“Nah. The girls are pretty clueless right now. But they’ll figure it out soon or later if you keep this up.”
Terrence had never felt so panicked in his whole life. A lot of friendships would be ruined if he couldn’t get a handle on the storm that was his love life.
Mike could see that he had made the situation worse and attempted to do some damage control.
“Try not to worry about it tonight. Have some fun with the beautiful girl that turned about a million heads when she walked in the door. Tomorrow, worry about all this. But, you do need to sort it out, Terry. If you decide you want Maria, then you’re gonna have to give the relationship your all. No more divided attention. If you can’t do that, then you need to end it now. She cares about you a lot and right now, you’re not being fair to her. I could be a bad friend and tell you what you’re doing is fine. But you’re better than that and a good friend would tell you so.”
“Sorry, if I got too Dr. Phil on you. I was raised by my grandma and so I’m like an old-fashioned fifty year old woman in a twenty year old guy’s body.”
Terry had to laugh at the image of Mike in a floral muumuu, knitting doilies while cat sat on his knee. He resolved to take his friend’s advice. He’d have fun tonight and tomorrow he’d attack the Gordian Knot he called his love life. Where were Alexander and his sword when you needed him?