Chapter Twenty-Seven - Prom Night
Six Months Later…
“Do I look okay?” I asked, surveying myself in the full-length mirror, twisting this way and that to check myself from all angles.
“Are you kidding? You look gorgeous,” Annie exclaimed, staring at me.
I looked at the dress: corseted, coloured ivory and gold, which pooled around my feet. The straps were off-the-shoulder with pearl flowers. My hair was curled and pinned into an elegant chignon, with wavy strands cascading and framing my face, some pinned back with elegant gold clips.
Annie also looked beautiful. She was wearing a red dress that hugged her curves, with a heart-shaped neckline. It also fell to her feet, and had only one strap. Her blond hair was curled back into a side bun, her side fringe hanging low over her eye.
It was prom night, and of course it would be our last prom ever. Next week we graduated.
All our SATs were over, and Matt, Annie, Cole and I were going to the same college: Annie for medicine, Matt for environmental science, Cole for law (he had decided he wanted to be a lawyer), and I was going for Musical Performance and English Literature.
Emilie and Alyra were going to a different college, but it was only thirty miles from us, and we had already sworn to keep in touch.
A lot had changed in the last six months: Cole and Matt were back to being best buddies, all past rivalries forgotten, and Aly and Cole were getting along really well. Things seemed perfect, and I was floating in a blissful state.
Just then my mother came in, and spent the next fifteen minutes gushing over how beautiful we looked, and taking thousands of pictures.
We all jumped when we heard the doorbell. My mother gasped and shooed us upstairs, saying we needed to make a grand entrance like they did in those cheesy movies.
“Please don’t embarrass us,” I whispered to my mother as we made our way back to the second floor.
I should’ve known better.
As soon as they were inside the house my mother’s voice echoed up to us.
“Don’t you boys look charming? I might have to keep you for myself.”
I groaned and hit my head against the wall as I heard footsteps echoing downstairs.
Matt and Cole were arriving together and meeting us here, so that we could all go as a foursome.
“You know, being the mother to Grace and very close to Annie, I feel the need to warn you guys that if anything happens to the girls, I will have to hurt you. I don’t want a granddaughter in nine months, and I don’t want my daughter’s best friend to have a kid in nine months, OK? Keep it behind the zipper.”
“Oh, god,” I muttered. “I swear she’s doing it on purpose. Just to make me squirm.”
Annie snickered into her hand as my mother called up to us. “Girls! Your dates are here!”
“Right now they’re probably wishing they weren’t,” I muttered, picking up my clutch containing my make-up, license, and wallet, and stepping into the hallway.
We made our way to the stairs, and Annie and I began to descend them. One hand gripped the side of my skirt to hitch it up, and I probably looked like some maiden in the 1800’s, except with deodorant and considerably better teeth.
I looked down at my mother, whose light blue eyes were sparkling with tears, and over to Cole, who was looking at Annie with adoration and love, and then down to Matt, who was looking at me like I imagined a groom would look at his bride as she walked down the aisle.
When we reached the bottom, Matt snaked his arm around my waist and pulled me closer. He kissed my temple and murmured, “You look absolutely beautiful.”
My mother was almost hysterical as she watched the romantic scene before her, and she insisted we take about a thousand more photos before we left.
Matt pulled me to the side and quickly pulled out a box, opening it for me to see.
Inside was the most beautiful white orchid I had ever seen. It was made of fabric so that it could be kept forever, and I felt my eyes water.
“The day that this orchid dies is the day that I stop loving you,” he whispered. Maybe under any other circumstances I would’ve snorted at the cheesiness, but not right now. Not with the way he was looking at me.
“Matt, that’s beautiful. Thank you. And it matches my dress, which is weird because you hadn’t seen it before.”
He looked sheepish. “Yeah, Annie kinda helped me pick it out.”
“Well, then it matches you in more ways than one.”
I smiled as he gently tied the corsage around my wrist, and I admired how handsome he looked in the tuxedo. It was black on black, with an ivory tie to match my dress. At least we were colour-coordinated.
“Oh, I have something for you, too!” I remembered suddenly, pulling open my clutch and taking out the smaller box I had.
I opened it and pinned the small white flower onto his lapel, thanking God I didn’t stab myself or him. What a way to make the night memorable.
Finally we were ready to go, and he held my hand as I hugged my mother goodbye and followed Matt and Annie to the car.
“Remember what I told you boys!” my mother said as we loaded ourselves into the car.
Matt chuckled as Cole started the engine and smirked at us through the rearview mirror.
“No funny business, you two. Remember that this is my car. Behave.”
I giggled and rested my head on Matt’s shoulder.
Wow, prom. One more week of school before our high school life was over. How weird to think about.
We joked and bantered all the way to prom, and I had to admit, already I was having a good time, and we hadn’t even stepped into the gym yet.
When we finally managed to get out of the car—which was no easy feat when you have a long dress—Matt put his arm out and I hooked mine through.
“May I escort milady to her destination?” Matt asked, affecting a British accent, which sounded hilariously terrible.
“What a kind, young gentleman,” I answered, also pretending to be British. “Why, yes, you may.”
He frowned. “Why is it that when I pretend to sound British I sound like a posh guy from New Jersey, but when you do it, you sound like a lady going to high tea?”
I shrugged. “You’ll learn, young chap. Now how about a spot of tea, eh?”
We grinned and headed to the refreshments table. I took the opportunity to look around the gymnasium, which looked more like an upper-class ballroom.
The prom committee had done an amazing job, and there were fairy lights strung everywhere. Pink and white balloons and streamers decorated the place, and the band up the front was playing a slow song. It was beautiful here.
We spent the next hour dancing, but since neither of us were award-winning dancers—and I was famously known through the school for having two left feet—we were more just being idiots, which was fine by me.
Just then we spotted something in the corner that we hadn’t noticed before. I tugged on Matt’s sleeve and gave him a pleading look. “Can we go in, can we go in?”
He chuckled at my excitement. “Sure. If you want.”
I pulled him over to the photobooth and checked inside the red velvet curtain to make sure it was free. When I was sure it was, I pulled it open and sat down with Matt.
“Alright,” I turned to him with a serious look. “What are we gonna do?”
“We have four slides and I’m about to press go, so think fast.”
He pressed the button and the camera counted us down from five. Quickly I looped my arms around his neck and leaned closer, giving the camera a cheesy grin.
There was a blinding flash of the light, and then the camera began counting down again.
“Pull a stupid face!” I called, sticking my tongue out and going cross-eyed. It felt good to be so loose and carefree.
The camera flashed again and I quickly blinked the brightness out of my eyes as once again the camera clocked the time.
Just then Matt tickled me unexpectedly, and I burst into laughter as the camera flashed. Wow, quick and surprising thinking on Matt’s part.
“Our last shot, make it count,” I said to Matt, turning to him. “What should we do?”
“Whatever you want,” he said, smiling down at me and melting my heart.
“Something unexpected but totally cheesy,” I said quickly as the camera hit two.
He moved closer and licked his lips. “I have the perfect thing.”
“Wha-“ I began, but was cut off as he pressed his lips to mine. I shut my eyes immediately and temporarily forgot my surroundings, until the camera went off.
He pulled back and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, Grace. I couldn’t resist.”
I giggled and hopped out of the photobooth with Matt by my side. We picked up the developed slide and moved aside for two giggling girls entering the booth.
I looked down at the side. The first one was of us looking like Hollywood movie-stars or bachelors, both of us pulling wide and cheesy grins.
The next was of us pulling stupid faces. I looked like a lunatic with my crossed eyes and tongue out. Matt had a wolfish grin and a peace sign above my head as in rabbit ears.
The third was of him smiling down at me as I was bent forward in laughter from his tickling assault. I looked completely blissful and happy, and Matt had a dopey, loving look on his face.
The last was my favourite. Him and I were kissing, his hands on my waist and our heads tilted to the side. It looked loving and beautiful, and I smiled at the photo.
Just then our principal came onto the stage, and we quickly grabbed each other’s hands and dashed forward to hear better.
She tapped the microphone twice to see if it was working, cleared her throat, and began.
“Ladies and gentlemen, now the moment you have all been waiting for. It is now time to announce the Prom King and Prom Queen. Once they have been announced, they will be handed their crown, and then will have their special prom dance. Please remain to the sides while they have their celebratory dance.”
She surveyed the crowds, and everyone leant forward in anticipation, dying to know who Prom King and Queen were.
“And now, without further ado, we shall announce them. Prom King for Alderidge High is…” Pause for dramatic effect. “… Cole Adams!”
Cole looked up from his cup of punch in surprise, as the gymnasium burst into applause. Matt wolf-whistled and I yelled Cole’s name. Cole moved towards the stage after one last lingering kiss to Annie—which most girls almost died of jealousy at the sight of.
We all knew who would be crowned Prom Queen.
“And to join Mr Adams up on the stage as Prom Queen, we have…” Another pause as all the girls shot forward to hear better. “Grace Holland!”
I turned around to congratulate my best friend, who had to be Prom Queen considering her relationship with Cole, and froze as the name sunk in.
The spotlight was turned on me as everyone clapped and cheered my name and hands pushed me to the front of the stage.
I walked up the stairs and the principal gave off another announcement I didn’t quite catch.
Then the crown was lowered on mine and Cole’s heads. I caught a glimpse of Matt in the crowd, as he clapped and cheered my name. He looked so proud as he stared up at me, that I couldn’t help but grin wildly.
“Congratulations to Alderidge High’s Prom King and Queen of 2013, Cole Adams and Grace Holland!”
Cole and I joined hands and raised them into the air as everyone cheered and clapped. I took a deep breath and savored this feeling. Who would’ve guessed that a simple jeans-and-flannel-wearing hippie and her tormentor, a leather-and-jeans-wearing Bad Boy, would be up onstage together, holding hands and laughing at the crowd.
We walked down the steps and everyone moved back in unison, giving us space so we could dance in the middle. I put my hands round Cole’s neck and he wrapped his around my waist, grinning like a maniac.
As the music started up, we began to move in slow circles. “Seven months ago, I would’ve laughed if anyone said this is where we’d be prom night,” Cole said.
I giggled. “Definitely. Who would’ve guessed something like this would happen. It seems crazy. But things have changed so much. You went from being the Bad Boy who exploded a science experiment onto me the first day at a new school, to one of my best friends in the whole world.”
“Not to mention the adventures in between.”
“I have to admit, despite everything, it was kind of fun pranking you.”
He shook his head ruefully, giving me a huge grin. “And it was kinda fun pranking you, too,” he admitted. “Though we never really found out who the winner of that prank war was.”
“Oh, it was me for sure,” I told him. “My pranks were the most creative.”
“But mine embarrassed you more.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not,” I replied, feeling like an immature four-year-old.
“How about we call it a tie?” Cole proposed, grinning at me.
I sighed. “Fine. But this isn’t over, Adams.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Holland.”
We both laughed, and then I looked over to the couple dancing next to us. Matt and Annie.
Cole and I looked at each other, and we both seemed to be having the exact same thought. That this moment would be ten times more perfect if we were dancing with the one we loved. I grinned at Cole and he nodded down at me.
I turned to Matt and Annie, and called out, “Hey, Fisher!”
Annie turned around expectantly at me, and I took the crown off my head, tossing it gently to her. “Crown’s yours now. Go dance with your Prom King.”
Her mouth gaped open as we switched places. I put my hands around Matt’s neck, where they belonged, and he held me close, lifting his head proudly.
“I am the luckiest man in the world,” he murmured.
“That makes me the luckiest girl,” I whispered.
I leant forward and pressed my lips to his, grinning like crazy.
When I pulled back, I looked at Annie and Cole, who were dancing. The Prom Crown was perched on her head, and she was smiling like an idiot.
All of a sudden confetti fell from the sky and we were surrounded by glittering pieces of paper, catching in our hair and sticking to our dresses.
I looked up to the roof where more confetti and sparkles were falling. I bit my lip and laughed, looking back into Matt’s warm, beautiful eyes.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you, too.”
He kissed me again, and this time neither of us let go. Confetti continued to fall, music continued to play, but the rest of the world faded away, until there was only Matt and I.
It was like a dream come true.
I know I’ve said this before, but I don’t know how life could’ve been anymore perfect.