Authors: Lisi Harrison
“Nothing above midthigh. It’s the Miss Kiss, not the Miss Look-at-This.”
S and S cracked up. Claire tried. But after a year of Massie’s clever comebacks it was impossible to settle for anything short of brilliant.
“Can you believe we’re actually
?” Sarah looked around Dress Barn like she was Dorothy landing in Oz.
Claire could practically hear Massie say. “It’s so exciting,” she managed, finally locating her own voice. “We’ve waited all these years and—”
“Save it for the judges.” Amandy elbowed Claire playfully. “Let’s shop!”
Sari casually stuffed her empty Ziploc in the mannequin’s green and brown polka-dot pocket.
“Um, security!” Sarah fake-called.
?” Sari cracked up.
“Security!” Claire and Amandy joined in until they were slapping each other’s shoulders in hysterics, barely remembering what had been so funny in the first place. Once they finally stopped, Clare’s abs ached with soreness and her heart buzzed with joy.
“Meet at the dressing rooms in ten?” Amandy ask-insisted, subtly reminding them why they were there.
Seconds later the girls split like overprocessed hairs, each claiming a different part of the Barn. Claire wandered into the greens and yellows, where a cheerful shift dress caught her eye. It was the perfect length, and its flowers were definitely fruit colored—banana and kiwi, or was it more of a lime? She pinched the hem area and gave it a little rub between her index finger and thumb. The fabric was coarse and porous. Something Piper would definitely be able to hear with her sensitive dog ears. Claire released it quickly and peered across the store to see if her friends were having similar reactions to the rash-inducing material. But SAS were piling outfits onto their bent arms like they had won an hour of free shopping at Bloomingdale’s.
Claire tried to imagine the Pretty Committee in this store, where the average dress cost thirty dollars and size twenty-fours were welcome. But she couldn’t. In her mind the PC and the Dress Barn refused to fuse, like oil and water. Curdled milk and coffee. Angie and Jen. She could, however, imagine Massie making some kind of joke about how the store must be called the Dress Barn because the clothes were for animals. And for a second she actually missed the alpha. A second later, she missed her old sweet self.
Suddenly, Claire started to sweat. Her stomach cramped and her heart accelerated. The vibrant colors of the Dress Barn surrounded her, yet she was unable to move. Old photos told her that bright greens, yellows, pinks, corals, and turquoises flattered her—even more so now that she had a tan. And statistics proved that the judges liked these colors. But something was stopping her from bending her own arm and piling on the options.
That something was Massie.
Claire knew too much about good quality and bad taste. After spending the last year surrounded by delicate hand-washables and dry-clean-only designerwear, she had developed an appreciation for good quality. She just hadn’t realized it until now. And without the money to do anything about it, that knowledge made her feel like she was in a polyester-covered prison cell.
Ducking for cover behind a circular rack of knit cardigans in a rainbow of colors, Claire fired off a quick text.
Claire: Going 2 a VIP ball. Dress must be flirty, fun, & flattering. No black. Any suggestions?
A response arrived within seconds.
Massie: The 3Fs? No prob. Miu Miu has an ivory dress w/floral-shaped sequin embellishments. It’s feminine without being overly girly and can be dressed up or down to suit the mood. Great with a Stella McCartney bag and Jimmy Choo shoes, 100% silk, inserts: 75% acetate, 25% viscose. Dry clean only. Note: Italian sizing.
Instantly, Claire began flipping over the dress labels in search of silk. But rayon and polyester blends were all she could find. Giving up, she hurried toward the ivory section, where, as luck would have it, a mannequin was wearing a cute A-line dress with tiny floral-shaped sequins. The flowers were brown (earth tone
) and the dress was cream-colored (white
), but it hit at the knee (Miss Kiss, not Miss Look-at-This
), was close to Massie’s Miu Miu (
), and cost $32.95. (
Claire hurried to the closest mirror and slipped the dress on over her clothes. Once the bulk of her cargo skirt and Ella Moss shirt were gone it would fit perfectly. All she needed was a pair of brown slides and—