11: there was a tingle
I slipped on the golden satin dress that fell just to my calves loosely, covering up the rest of the skin showing with a matching cover that almost reached my heels. Turning to the side as I looked into the mirror, I smoothed over my stomach and adjusted the material over my waist and hips, posing in different positions as I looked over my body.
Anger tickled my forehead and I took a step back to fan my face, feeling a full force of heat making its way up to the surface of my skin.
Nothing ever looks right.
Why can’t it just look right?
I closed my eyes and breathed in and out deeply, tapping my foot impatiently waiting for the hot flash to pass through.
I switched on the cold water in the sink and waited for it to reach peak coolness before holding my hands under.
“Yoo-hoo,” Melia sang from outside the door. “My fair maiden, did you put it on yet? I would love to see the complete look!”
I saw her shadow hop excitedly from under the door.
Grimacing, I rolled back my shoulders and tried my best to lessen the tense muscles in my neck and lower back.
“One sec!” I replied, turning the faucet off and drying my hands.
As I went to grab the doorknob, I paused, dropping my head.
“Do you have your camera out?”
“Oh absolutely,” Melia declared proudly.
I gave a glare to the mirror before exiting the bathroom, putting on a smile, arms outstretched while I gave her the show she wanted.
"Ooh,” she gushed, making sure she was getting her angles. “Why did you say you thought it would look bad? You look hot!” she reached out to touch me and recoiled quickly as if I burned her.
I huffed, upset she pulled a smile from me.
“Okay now turn around.” she tapped my hip, camera ready.
I checked my watch, doing as she said. “I think we should get going, the car is coming in a few minutes-”
Melia’s hand ran down my back lightly. “Wow...this detailing in the back is beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I muttered, turning around halfway. “Are you done?”
“Not really but I digress.”
The sound of the video ending came and I searched the ground for my shoes, finding them at the foot of the bed.
I slipped into them and gave a test walk, nodding in admiration at how the colors matched well.
You brought a piece of the fabric to the store to match the color to a tee...if it didn’t come together at this moment, it would be all over honestly.
The synchronization of colors brought a small surge of serotonin into my system and I straightened out, taking a look at my watch again.
“And out the door we go,” I prompted, picking up my purse and phone.
The mirror next to the entrance of the room caught my attention and I paused to look into it, hovering my hand over my hair in case any pieces had the audacity to be out of place after the extensive amount of time I spent to find a strong enough gel to hold it all down.
I gave a triumphant smirk and angled my head differently to scan other areas.
Keeping my stare at my reflection blankly, I spoke, “Mel-”
“Ma’am I am all ready to go. I’m just waiting for you to stop looking like you want to kiss yourself in the mirror.”
I met her gaze in the mirror. “Let’s go.”
Prep time was the most enjoyable yet despised experience that had come into my life.
The chaos of it all always came together to create the beauty of a final piece.
Of course it did nothing for my anxiety but still beautiful.
I just finished off hooking the drop necklace onto Ky – one of the models – giving her a once over before she left to find her space in the line behind Dana.
Five minutes before the show began, Melia and I watched the show from a setup just to the side of the vanities.
“I’m feeling all tingly,” Melia trilled, shivering for emphasis.
“Me too,” I agreed, shifting my feet. “But not the good kind.”
Melia rubbed my back continuously. “There there.”
The show began with a short prerecorded kickoff announcement from Melia and I welcoming the particular line’s name – Nymphs.
“Everything looks good so far,” I muttered, staring at the screen showing different live footage of the runway as the music faded in louder.
“Yes.” Melia clapped her hands excitedly, intertwining them as the first model made her way down.
Even after seeing the outfits multiple times, my eyes still stuck onto the models, studying the presentation and fluidity.
I dug my teeth into the inside of my lip, following the next model when a tap came to my shoulder.
Both Melia and I looked behind us to see Riyya.
“Kasi’s garter belt snapped.”
“What?” Melia’s mouth dropped as we took off in the direction Riyya was leading towards. “I swear I stretched the sample like hell to make sure it wouldn’t.”
“It wasn’t the material, the hook came off.”
“Just one or both?” I asked.
“One,” replied Riyya and she stopped at one of the makeup stations where Kasi sat.
“I am so sorry,” Kasi started, “I guess I was just moving around too much and-and it just came apart-”
“It’s okay it happens.” I assessed the situation and looked around the cavity tables for the safety pin boxes. “Just gonna add a safety pin to hold it down.”
I dug to the bottom of the container and pulled out the small baggie with light blue pins.
We had realized very early that matching the color of safety pins as close as we could to the lingerie colors would blend just right if an occasion such as this came into play.
I attached the loose end of the strap to the pastel blue thigh highs, making sure it was fitted evenly to its untouched counterpart.
Standing up, we made sure everything was good before she rushed off to get behind Kasi who had just left for her cue.
“My heart’s in my throat,” I wheezed.
“Mine’s in my ass.” Melia had her hand over her chest, fanning herself.
We returned to the screen and watched the rest of the main show in silence before the end sequence began.
I pushed up my glasses and glanced at myself time and time again in one of the vanities, waving my hands in the air to keep them from getting clammy.
Melia’s hands intertwined mine and she smiled softly, a reassuring gaze meeting my frantic one.
“Only takes forty seconds.” She squeezed my hand and waited until I took a final deep breath starting the walk out of the prep room.
The applause was audible from the back as well as the music.
Everything came pounding in my ears until it rang.
I stuck a small smile on my face, feeling the jitters my lips gave as I clapped along to applaud the models and ourselves.
Reeling myself back into my appearance, I smoothed my hands over the front of my dress and brought the opening of my shawl closer in.
The show ended with a final bow and some acknowledging waves before everyone on the runway dispersed backstage.
“I just really want to give another round of applause to all of you gorgeous individuals. We’re honored to have this big of a show and we couldn’t have had anyone better to show off our work the way you all did.” Melia raised her hands and clapped and everyone followed along, cheers arising.
While they returned to the fitting rooms to undress and talk amongst themselves, Riyya pulled us over to tell us the list of people who wanted to speak to us.
Pictures were being snapped from left and right, making the questions being asked a bit difficult to answer.
“Your line is clearly rising in popularity as well as yourselves. Do you think you could ever become a big name like the others?”
I couldn’t control the small look of disdain my face gave way to.
It was noticed and everyone shifted to face me.
“...um...it’s not really an aspiration of ours to be like anyone else. Yes we have inspirations and idols, but the reasoning behind creating a brand like this is to make a new space for individuals who haven’t been acknowledged by quote, unquote, the others.”
The journalist nodded, her voice recorder still being held up towards me.
That took the absolute most out of me, so I stayed quiet for the rest of the questions, tapping Melia’s thigh to signal her.
Final pictures were taken – including a multitude with the models – then we fixed up what we could before leaving the venue.
“This restaurant is nice,” I commented, looking around at the decorations. I pulled my shawl closer in then crossed my legs, wiggling my elevated foot.
“Glad to know my research did not go to waste,” Melia replied, placing her phone down. “My tongue wants some wine.”
I was in the middle of cleaning off my glasses with my handkerchief when she was speaking - I sighed defeatedly, shaking my head.
“Why-” I put my glasses back on, “-did you have you have to say it like that?”
“The tongue wants what the tongue wants.”
When the waiter came up to the table I muttered a ‘thank goodness’ before being asked what drink I would like.
“Bottle of red wine for the table,” Melia chirped.
I closed my mouth and leaned towards Riyya. “Do you even drink?”
“I can,” she affirmed eagerly.
“Alright then,” I agreed with Melia.
In ten minutes, the wine and glasses were set on the table along with the appetizer - french onion soup.
Riyya ′oohed′ quietly.
A trickle of thank-you’s left our trio.
We ate and talked, ate and talked with Melia making our laughter louder than it needed to be.
“And I say, ‘sir, if your hand accidentally brushes my ass again, I’m going to take this fine little steel piece attached to my keychain. It’s not suppose to pierce the skin on the first try but I’m starting to build up the determination to make that happen’.” She took a sip of her wine, pausing the story. “The look on his face was muah chef’s kiss. Striking that much fear in a man will honestly change your view on life.”
Riyya’s eyes were wide, clearly taking in the information with more than a grain of salt. She turned to me and I froze mid bite, covering my mouth as I chewed.
“And where were you?” she asked.
I thought about my whereabouts that night – it was freshman year and earlier that day, Melia had offered to take me to a party she was invited to.
I had said no, of course. Everything was new – surroundings and such.
And as much as Melia was begging to be my tour guide at the time – though it was just as new to her – I just shook my head and laid back down.
“I was up waiting like a mom,” I said, shooting Melia a playful look.
Melia took her lips from the tip of her glass. “I told you who was with me. And anyhow you know I can take care of myself.”
I scoffed. “Oh I know.”
After being deliciously filled by the appetizers, the main course came and a low groan collectively left our mouths.
My plate was laid out in front of me and I waited until the others got theirs before picking up my spoon.
The rest of the time we spent at the restaurant went smoothly, more stories from college here and there along with Riyya’s adamancy for advice.
With our meals boxed and ready to go, we exited the restaurant and made our way back to the hotel.
“Okay my turn,” I cut into Melia’s ramble as she stopped at the traffic light.
“This is a very widely known thing but when you create your art – sketching, sewing, presenting, or anything like that – you make sure you feel like it’s your art. Every time you look back at it, you know that the energy and time and blood and sweat you put into it did not go to waste. Take pride in your art. Always take pride in your ability to create the things you do.” The light turned green and Melia made the turn into the street of the hotel and pulled into the parking lot. “That way when you move forward and get better at your craft, you never have the thought that anything you had created was bad – you’re only left with the realization that your talent had blossomed.”
Melia nodded enthusiastically, turning halfway to face Riyya in the backseat.
“She’s absolutely correct.”
We exited the car, returning to our rooms minutes later.
Goodnights were exchanged before we went in and unwinded from the night entirely.
“My food baby truly is a beautiful vision into the future,” Melia murmured as she paused in front of the mirror rubbing her bloated stomach in the mirror. “Alright everyone get undressed I’m in the mood for skin on skin contact.”
I slid off my cover, looking around the room. “And who is everyone?”
“You, me, and the ghost that keeps taking the covers off of me at night.” She took off her shoes, setting them to the side. She stretched overzealously and yawned, stripping her body of her dress.
“Maybe the ghost wants to be warm,” I said as I closed the bathroom door.
My clothing started dropping to the ground piece by piece, my gaze to the ground while I waited for Melia’s response.
“My arms are open and ready-”
I heard a knock come to the door and pulled on my robe quickly, gathering up my garments from the ground.
Opening the door to exit, I paused hearing the rustling of items.
A bouquet of yellow flowers were put into my face, waving slowly as a hum followed.
“And for you madam.” Melia’s grin was so wide I chuckled nervously and looked at the petals of the bunch then back up at her.
“...thank you. Um...but you just stole the check at the restaurant, why did you need to get me flowers?” I took hold of the stems and held it closer to me, giving it a small sniff.
“I didn’t get you those.” Melia held up a card between her fingers. “Let’s find out together.”
I went and sat on the edge of the bed, cradling the flowers while opening the small card that came with it.
My grip on the bouquet became a bit tighter.
Miss optimism stuck out her tongue out at Sir pessimism.
Looking back at the flowers, a squeal of giddiness unknowingly rumbled in the back of my throat.
“What was that?”
I peered up at Melia, meeting her weirded out expression.
My cheeks warmed as I straightened up, coughing lightly.
“What was what?”
She gestured to her throat. “That noise you made. Did you just growl?”
I sputtered out a laugh. ”Growl? I am not the one, Mel.”
“I’m not shaming you for it, clearly. Maybe after reading the note and realizing that deep primal urge to fuck the man that is literally-” Melia patted my back, sliding her hand down it, “-ready to rearrange this spine of yours, your body reacted as it should.”
I smacked her forearm. “I truly do hate you.”
She tilted her head, half smiling. “You think so?”
“Anyways!” I rolled my eyes and stood, setting the flowers on my nightstand. “I need to clean this makeup off my face. I’m all tuckered out.”
Melia’s face was still the same as I passed her to get to the bathroom.
“Of course you are.” She jabbed a finger in my direction. “While you’re in there, I’ll give you some time to think.”
“Mhm.” I closed the door behind me and shut it softly, hurriedly switching into the warm water from the sink.
A heavy breath escaped my mouth and I put a hand to my cheeks, meeting the heated skin.
That was nice, my thoughts urged, just accept that something as simple as that made you feel a certain way.
A good way.
My cheek mushed against my hand while a smile grew.
My subconscious rubbed her hands together and pleaded greedily, now we can go on the date right? I want this feeling to last forever.
The music that started from in the room, cut into my turmoil and brought me back into my cleanup routine.
After twenty minutes, I came back out to the room, patting my face dry with a small towel. My glasses were in my free hand.
Melia was still playing music, laying down on the bed and moving her head to music as she scrolled through her phone.
She turned to me and looked me up and down.
“How was self reflecting time?”
I trudged to the dresser where my products stood.
“Self reflection time?” I grabbed a cotton pad and poured my toner on it. “That’s kinda hard to do when I have Miss Megan Thee Stallion, bouncing off my eardrums for nearly thirty minutes.”
“Oh you misunderstood. She was merely supporting the path put into place,” Melia chattered animatedly, making me huff a couple of chuckles as she continued, “see I already took some inspiration and texted my man. Would anyone else in the audience like to volunteer-”
I let my toner dry, shaking my head and looking up to the the ceiling. “Goodness Mel, why are you not tired-”
“I’m all riled up of course!” she hollered, making me turn around to hush her as she stood up from the bed and entered the bathroom. “Tonight went so well. Everything is going so fucking well! I’m getting tingles!”
I rubbed my moisturizer into my face, laughing to myself.
After strategically placing my head scarf around my hair to make sure it didn’t end up at the foot of the bed in the morning, I quickly changed into my pajamas while Melia was cleaning up and hopped into bed, tucking my phone under me after I angled it towards the light to open it.
Turning off the ringer, I hovered my thumb over my messaging application, curling my toes into the bed as I froze for a moment.
Just say thank you, why are we making this difficult?
Ooh, should we add emojis?
You’re not an emoji type of person, why start now?
It sounds dry, you’re a woman of substance for goodness’ sake.
I tapped the screen and made my way to Emilio’s name.
thank you. they’re very pretty
After two minutes of proofreading and reluctance, I sent the message and closed the app, pressing the phone off.
Just then the water shut off in the bathroom and Melia came out, her hair tied up in a bun.
“You look cozy,” she commented, walking to the dresser and readying her nighttime routine.
“I sure am.” I nestled into the bed noisily.
I jerked under the covers feeling the vibration against my stomach. Laying on my back to keep an eye on Melia’s movement, I unlocked the device and viewed my notification.
emilio: Bon. They reminded me of you.
I bit down on the inside of my lips, squeezing my throat to stop anymore unexpected sounds.
Melia was still fortunately minding her business.
did you eat dinner, I began to type out.
Are you his mother? Why are you always asking if he’s eating? Making sure he’s all big and strong!
I held the backspace.
But as acquaintances, you’re just asking if he had a meal. You did it yesterday, what’s the big deal.
Slowly, I retyped the question.
My gaze drifted to Melia pulling on her t-shirt, closing all the products she used.
okay have a good night, I rewrote quickly.
It was read immediately and his reply was in the works.
“Whatcha doing?” Melia’s breath tickled my ear and I jumped, squirming away from her.
“Just finishing something up,” I murmured, closing my apps and clicking the phone off before connecting it to the charger.
She nodded, looking at the side of my head until I returned her stare.
“Proud of you,” she said.
I whispered back, “I’m proud of you too.”
“I meant it when I said things are going to go well.”
“I’m going to hold you to that.” I sighed and fixed my position so I was on my stomach.
My thoughts pinpointed on one aspect of my life at the moment and those tingles that Melia talked so highly of bloomed from my lower stomach.
I hid my grin in the pillow before dozing off.
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