When Zara woke up the next day, she had the silliest smile on her face.
Her mind instantly flashing back to last evening, she felt a glowing warmth in her belly.
She was probably the happiest she’d ever been.
Getting out of bed, she glanced at Susan’s unused one. She hadn’t returned last night, choosing to spend time with Matt and in turn leaving Zara and Finn together.
She still remembered the kiss she had received.
God, it had been perfect.
Finn really was a good kisser, even though he was just the second guy she had locked lips with.
Zara was inexperienced, but she liked it anyway.
When she checked her cellphone, the smile turned wider.
He had texted her.
Good morning, sunshine. Off to work. I’ll pick you at 7 today.
Zara typed out a reply.
Good morning. Yes, I’ll be ready.
Then she stretched herself, her heart filled with hope. She had done the right thing with Finn.
He was such a great guy and the way he treated her, Zara knew that he’d never, not intentionally at least, hurt her in any way.
It was liberating. To be able to have even an ounce of trust in someone.
Nathaniel had called her last night. Just once. Zara had ignored it.
The day breezed by.
Susan returned mid-morning, to literally pounce on her and question her about last night.
Her cheeks feeling like they were on fire from the constant blushing, Zara spilled the beans, describing everything to her best friend.
Susan had oohed and aahed throughout the conversation and had said that she was taking matters into her hands and that by the time evening came, she vowed to turn Zara into such a raving beauty that Finn wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off her.
Before leaving last night, Finn had mentioned that it was a black tie party and wasn’t on a large scale, just a few of the company members.
Zara had decided to wear a simple but beautiful baby blue dress that had been lying in the back of her closet and was almost as good as new.
They began prepping almost an hour and a half before seven.
After a shower, Zara pulled on a pair of lacey black undergarments, something that she used very infrequently. Susan had gone along with the dress and had decided that it was a perfect choice.
Zara was glad she agreed because if she hadn’t, she didn’t doubt that Susan would instantly pull her along for a completely unnecessary and tiresome shopping spree.
Zara stood before the mirror, Susan pulling out the makeup materials from the cupboard, and took a moment to observe herself.
She had always considered herself reasonably pleasant to look at, on her best days.
Her breasts were small. Her hips round, visible silver scars on the top of her thighs that were the evidence of some of the weight she had managed to lose before joining university.
She didn’t have a toned body. Her stomach was rounded and chubby. Her thighs jiggled when she ran. Her hips had plenty of cellulite on them. Her waist didn’t have the perfect indent, but tapered gently.
So far, she had managed to keep herself in check, though not spectacularly. Gaining weight was too easy for her. Losing it though was a pain.
There were some features of her physique that she particularly loved. Her collarbone was prominent, her ankles slim. She had numerous beauty spots all over her body, and of course, her tattoos. Along with the Viking symbol on her ankle, she had the musical treble clef inscribed on the inside of her right arm, a tiny crotchet with wings right near it, her mom’s initial on her left shoulder and a tiny angel inked on her right shoulder blade.
She loved her ink and wanted more of it in the future. Her mom hadn’t been very enthusiastic about it, insisting that it hurt too much. But Zara had been adamant and finally she had caved.
“I know you look really sexy semi-nude, but you have got to get that dress on you like, right now!“, Susan snapped from across the room.
Zara laughed at her, snapping the bra behind her back more comfortably.
She went to the bed where the dress lay. It was a strap dress, clinching at the waist and then having a subtle flow. It ended just above her knees, giving her both a classy look and somewhat of what Zara liked to think as the Princess kinda feel.
Susan sat her down before the mirror, instructing her to shut her eyes.
Susan began her work, tweaking and pulling and brushing and curling.
“So...“, she began.
Zara groaned, knowing exactly what she was about to say.
“Do you have protection?”
“I am not sleeping with Finn tonight!“, she cried out, struggling to keep her eyes closed.
She heard Susan utter a sound of disbelief and she was pretty sure that the crazy girl that just rolled her eyes at her.
“For God’s sake woman, that guy has literally fallen for you! Are you seriously so fucking blind?”
Zara swatted at her hand.
Susan pressed the brush to her cheek.
“I’m serious you pigheaded psycho. You need to go for it. It’s time to lose your v-card, Zara.”
This time it was she who rolled her eyes.
“It’s like our second date. I can’t just jump his bones like that. He might probably think I’m crazy.”
“But he likes you. I mean, come on!
The guy shows up on your doorstep-”
“To check up on you because he thought you were sick.”
“He said he felt what Mavis felt in Hotel Transylvania! Who the fuck even does that!?”
Zara had to smile.
“Finn really likes you. I see the way he looks at you.”
“Quiet.“, she snapped.
Then she felt the touch of the lipstick tube on her mouth.
Susan held her chin in her hand, applying it carefully. Zara had chosen a pale pink shade that went well with the dress.
She pulled Zara up by the hands and led her forward.
“Open your eyes, dummy.”
And almost gasped.
A beautiful stranger looked back at her.
Susan had combed her hair back, partitioning it at one end and letting it fall to the side in thick dark waves.
Her eyelids had smoky eyeshadow on them, her cheeks held just a hint of blush and her lips were painted perfectly. Golden loops hung from her ears.
“Wow.“, she breathed, in awe of the transformation.
Susan stood behind her, her hands on her shoulders, a bright triumphant smile on her face.
“Told ya.“, she winked at her.
“Thanks, crazy.“, Zara teased, turning around and hugging her lightly.
“I didn’t do much. You’re beautiful already, you dumbnut.”
Zara laughed and flicked her chin, earning a mock glare in return.
Moving into the living room, she slipped on her pair of golden sandals, that she used on special occasions only.
This was one of them.
Her heart raced when the doorbell rang.
Susan put a finger to her lips, to shush her and went to the door.
Zara stood up and moved forward.
Susan opened it, but hid Zara from view.
“Finn! You look great!“, she chirped.
“Hey, Susan. Thanks.“, Finn’s deep, friendly voice chuckled.
When Susan suddenly pulled open the door and she saw him, she felt her breath catch at the same time that his eyes landed on her and his jaw came unhinged.
He looked amazing.
Dressed in a charcoal black suit with a white shirt showing through his lapels, it hugged his lean physique like a second skin.
They stared at each other for a whole minute, neither of them saying a word.
Zara was only dimly aware of Susan’s eyes darting between them.
It was Finn who spoke first.
Zara felt her skin heat up, a blush rising to her cheeks.
He took a few steps toward her, breaking the trance they seemed to be in.
“Zara-“, he said her name softly as he reached her and took her hands in his own.
“You look stunning.“, he said in a quick breath, his eyes roaming all over her.
She struggled to find her voice.
“You look really handsome too.“, she said, feeling suddenly shy.
Finn couldn’t seem to stop staring at her.
His hand reached out and he cupped her cheek, his other hand holding her palm in his.
For a moment, Zara saw him struggle with himself as if debating internally.
Then his jaw clenched and he seemed to shake himself.
“Are you ready?”
Taking her purse from the table, Zara followed him out, his hand still holding hers.
Susan hugged her goodbye and kissed Finn’s cheek, giving her a wink as she shut the door.
They walked down the stairs in silence.
When they reached the footpath, Zara spotted the car just at the entrance of the building.
She began to make her way toward the door when Finn tugged on her arm and pulled her close.
He smelled like the aftershave she had come to recognise.
Zara placed her hand on his chest, her lips curved in a smile.
“Do you have your lipstick in that purse?“, he asked, his voice sounding like gravel, as he ran his fingers over her back.
Zara nodded her head, slightly confused, her heart beating erratically nonetheless.
“Good. Because you might need it.”
Then his lips fell to hers and her thoughts fled.