Cate had been living under a rock ever since her internship started. There was nothing to gloss over; spare time was rare and, although she loved her work, the busy daily routine and irregular hours started to have a negative effect on her social life. To make up for it, she had promised to take some time for her loved ones this evening - even if all she wanted to was lie in bed and watch a documentary until she would fall asleep after another day of working overtime at the hospital.
However, her roommates, Krystal and Tory, had already been waiting for her return eagerly. They were sharpening their knives, pardon, pencils and eyeliners to match her natural style to something club-worthy. And as if all the makeup wasn’t enough, they insisted on picking her outfit for the night.
They were as close as the family so she loved both of them dearly. Just not tonight.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” Cate yelled and gasped at the sight of her reflection. She was wearing a tight-fitting, merlot-colored piece of clothing that barely reached the middle of her tights. “Is this even a dress?”
“Of course it’s a dress,” Tory answered, raising an eyebrow. “What else would it be?”
“A half-finished shirt without a back!” Cate replied petrified as she pulled her gaze away from the big mirror. “Where are the damn pants to this thing?”
All this exposed skin made her uncomfortable as hell.
“I knew Cate was going to act like this,” Krystal stated, giving Tory an ‘I-won-the-bet-glance’ as she stuck a strand of her shiny obsidian hair behind her ear.
Tory sighed as she threw her arms in the air. “Fine. I’m paying the first round tonight.”
Krystal grinned with satisfaction. It was a rare sight. Known for her poker face, she didn’t show many emotions. It didn’t quite fit her cool and sophisticated image.
“You should stop the drama, Cate,” Krystal told her friend. “I don’t understand why you hate showing off your goodies so much.”
“Cause there are none,” Cate murmured with a hint of self-pity.
She was being a little dramatic due to her exhaustion. In return she received the perfect bitch face from Krystal, making Cate pout.
Tonight her friend looked like a top-tier model in her strapless golden-green gown, ready to hit the after party of some red carpet event. Cate didn’t doubt the possibility of model scouts trying to get Krystal’s number again at the club. Though she looked stunning, Cate just didn’t understand why her friend dressed up so modish for an evening at some night club.
Even in jeans and a t-shirt, Krystal could outshine most of the women on the dance floor. Hell, even if she had been dressed in a potato sack and worn a mask on her face, the men would have turned to her to admire her endlessly long legs, which were in perfect shape thanks to a five times a week drill workout and Pilates classes.
Cate believed that there wasn’t a point in putting effort into dressing up. Next to her best friends, she was bound to be overlooked anyway, years of experience being the proof of that. It wasn’t that she was short, but she wasn’t tall either; she was slim but not skinny, and her face was rather plain. To sum it up: she didn’t have Krystal’s model body or elegance, or Tory’s cute face or seductive hourglass-curves to catch people’s attention.
Dressed in everyday wear, Cate would have been totally fine with that. But since her two friends were hell-bent on making her show off her body tonight, she felt inadequate next to them. Besides, she had no plans of catching the eye of a guy anyway. The whole dressing-up-thingy was beyond her.
The door opened and Key marched in, typing something on his phone. Cate reached for a blanket to cover her lower body while she watched his black painted fingernails move over the screen at superhuman speed.
The guy gave her an amused side-glance when he saw the aghast expression in her chocolate brown eyes. He pushed a strand of his black hair with pink ends that had been bothering him to the side, obviously trying to suppress a laugh. But he partially failed as a broad smile began to grace his face.
“Seriously, Catie?” he asked in his usual husky voice. “You’re my second cousin. We shared a bath tube when we were kids and I even bought your pads before. One would think there are no secrets or uncomfortable things left between us.”
Cate’s face turned strawberry red, especially because of the mention of the embarrassing incident from 8th grade.
How could he bring that up?!
“You are late,” Cate stated in an attempt to divert the attention.
“Yeah, the game went on for longer than I expected. The other team was quite good. We have a lot of work to do if we really wanna win the championship.”
Cate nodded, knowing that he played all day for a living.
"Universal Star, tell Catie that we are not going to a Tupper party for soccer moms,” Tory ordered from the kitchen, where she was refilling their drinks.
She used the nickname, she and Krystal had specially created for Key in honor of his diva-like character and unexpected talent in random things. It was now his official competition alias in the world of online games.
“One day every bird needs to leave the nest,” Tory added with a hint of concern, exposing her motherly side.
But Cate didn’t hear her. She was busy trying to figure out what to do with her clothes. In the end, she decided to at least wear some opaque tights under her dress. She turned in front of the silver-framed mirror again, critically eyeing her bare backside.
How come I still feel naked?
“I need a jacket for this,” she uttered to herself, and the expression on her face made it clear that she was not yet satisfied.
Tory tried to suppress the urge to massage her temples but failed.
“Oh my god, Caitlin. You are like the prudest gynecologist-in-training I know. Shouldn’t you be used to woman’s assets by now? It is only your back, for Christ’s sake! How will we ever find a guy for you?” she asked, rolling her big blue eyes. Cate thought her eyeballs would fall out soon.
“You’ve declined to go out with anyone since the Tristan-disaster. It’s literary been ages! All you do is stay at home in oversized clothes and study or watch TV when you’re not working. Do you want to be the next Virgin Mary?” her friend continued to nag when Cate didn’t answer.
“That’s called boyfriend-style and I rather hold onto my hymen than onto some sex-obsessed gigolo who doesn’t give a damn about my two favorite organs - heart and brain, thank you!” Cate retorted stubbornly, trying to walk to the front door in the ridiculously high luxury stilettos Krystal had lent her as gracefully as possible to escape further discussions.
It is about time we get out of here... she thought.
“It’s only called ‘boyfriend-style’ if you have a boyfriend; otherwise you just look like an old maid. Besides, how do you even know what they are after? You don’t give anyone a chance. Even if the perfect boy next door would ring our doorbell, you’d be sure to close the door right in front of him before he could even say ‘hi’. When will you ever open up again?” Tory shouted behind her, persistent as always. But Krystal held onto Tory’s arm, shaking her head with a silent warning.
“We want to have fun tonight,” she said. “Let’s not spoil things by going overboard. Be happy she’s getting out of the house for once. That’s already a reason to celebrate.”
“I can hear you guys, you know?” Cate grumbled from the hallway, her eyebrows furrowed.
She wasn’t stupid. She knew her friends wanted to build her confidence by having random guys hit on her. But that was the last thing she wanted right now.
Sometimes it wasn’t easy to be the only introvert in a group of extroverts. They just didn’t understand why Cate liked to dress comfortably or needed a bit of distance to feel... safe.
“The cab is here. How about you girls stop quarreling and focus on enjoying the night? It’s been months since we last went out,” Key stated and walked up to Cate, pinching her cheek like she was still the same small girl that had moved into his parents’ house nearly twenty years ago. “Don’t be a spoilsport and just enjoy the evening.”
At this point, Cate had no idea that going clubbing with her crew while wearing this outfit would turn out to be the least of her problems tonight.
My little Mobsters,
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