May 4, 2010

Chapter 6

“One hour. Right here.” Max looked from right to left across the girls. “Can you be ready in one hour?”

“Can you, Superstar?” Erin smacked him on the arm.

They agreed to meet at the elevators in an hour and head to dinner. As the guys headed for their part of the hotel, Erin called to Max, “Let us know if you need to borrow some hair product!”

Maddie changed her clothes 211 times in 20 minutes. She put her hair up and down. She switched underwear, shoes, eyeliner…

“Ugh, I am going all eighth grade!” She tossed aside a purple dress, and held up a green one. It was strapless and satin, but really bright and fun with an asymmetrical dip to the skirt. It said party, not prom. “Too much?”

“Perfect,” Erin said. “And if you have those heels with the straps and the… wait. How tall is he?”

Maddie stepped into the shoes in question. “Yup, too tall. I’m 6 feet in these, at least. Damn, I love these shoes.” They were black, with stiletto heels that bordered on insanity. A little platform under the toe made them deceptively comfortable, so they felt like a secret weapon you could dance in all night.

“Wear them! I bet he’s into a little Tom & Katie setup.” Deanne leaned backward out the bathroom door. “And if not, well the other two are way tall. What are their names again?”

After quizzing Deanne with roll call, Maddie decided to pin her hair up in a messy twist. It was still wet, so the updo would make the curls dry without looking like The Lion King. She put on some makeup, but not a lot. “Tarted up like the dog’s dinner,” her wacky aunt had once called that heavy look. Maddie settled for a slightly subtle version of ‘the works.’ She gave her exposed parts a light coat of a lotion called Midnight Pomegranate, which she thought smelled like a party.

Erin was wearing a sleek black number with a silvery cinch belt high around her midsection. Her long dark hair was straight and shiny. Deanne stood about 6 inches shorter than the other girls, even in her heels. She’d opted for black Capri pants and a sparkly red top that emphasized her enviable rack. Her dark blonde was was barely shoulder length.

With 30 minutes before meet time, Cynthia finally came through the door. She stepped in, took a look at the carnage of clothes and supplies, and stopped. “This is a major operation!”

“We’ve got a major situation. And you’re in on it, if you’re as hot as we are in 30 minutes.” Maddie took the shopping bags from her and tucked them away. “Now go!”

“You have to tell me,” Cynthia pleaded at the elevator bank. “What is going on?” She looked from face to face, and settled on Deanne. She sensed Deanne was somehow slightly less anxious.

“Honey, I’m in it and I barely even know,” Deanne answered.

The elevator ride down was smooth and fast, and to Maddie it felt like the initial drop on a roller coaster. She could see herself in the mirrored doors, and she willed herself to look calm and collected. As they descended, she nearly reached out to stop at any floor so she could throw up.

The door dinged open and they stepped into the foyer. Deanne was off first, and Maddie could hear the guys calling out. Erin got a wolf whistle from someone. Maddie was right behind her, and for a moment everything was slow motion, like then you try to walk in water. Just a blink, and then Max was howling, actually howling and people in the casino were turning to look.

A hand clamped onto Maddie’s arm so hard she gasped. Cynthia was stunned. Completely frozen. It broke Maddie’s nerve, and she wrapped an arm around her friend.

“Everyone, this is Cynthia. This is all a surprise to her, so please be nice.” Maddie said, peeling Cynthia’s fingers off one by one. When she got the hand free, Kris was there to take it.

“I can be very nice,” he purred, sliding in next to her, and Cynthia laughed. Tension broken.

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