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Discovering Me (Book 1 of Discovering Me Series)

By @ess1223

Red Hands - R.E.V.O

{Isabella}

I felt guilty that I was far away from New York. Eliza received most of the criticism in person when the story of our case broke in the media. It was relevant because of my father’s fame and Colt’s father’s status as his lawyer. My name, nor Liza’s could be released because we were minors. I was labeled as Dr. Stewart Hales’ daughter. One of his daughter’s just had a baby and the other just turned five — it wasn’t hard for them to figure out it was me. She was labeled as ‘other complainant’. Both of us were called every synonym for “****” in the book by people we had known for our entire lives. It was one thing for me to see what was being written about me online, but it was shouted at her as she tried to attend school. I did what I could to help her, but I could only do so much.

I was floored by how many people took his side. I was passed out in the photo he sent around on his phone, but somehow I was the one that lured him in. To them, I gave him the impression it was okay to sleep with me; and I decided to change my tune after the fact for attention. In reality, my sexual history was the last thing I wanted the world to know. I knew that was doubly true for Eliza. She had never endured isolation before. I had been experiencing it my entire life when everyone shut me out. Her adjustment was much more extreme. 

No one other than my friends at school knew about what was transpiring in New York. That made it easier for me to avoid seeing publications or hearing people talk about it. My home life was still a secret and I was very grateful for that. I buried all of my time and effort into school work, my Sleeping Beauty performance, and getting ready for prom. 

I was worried about spending the money my mother gave me. I knew I needed to be responsible with it. I needed it to be granted my emancipation and to live until I got a job after graduation. But I viewed prom as a necessary expense. I needed it to feel normal. 

~

The four of us piled into Morgan’s car and headed to the mall. Morgan drove. Sami called shotgun. Elle and I occupied the back seat. She had already bought her gown. She was accompanying us to share her wealth of fashion knowledge.

“Do you think I’d get in trouble for wearing jeans to prom?” Sami asked no one in particular as she turned the page of her comic book.

“Yes. With me.” Elle replied, typing something on her phone.

Sami groaned. “But I don’t want to wear a pastry-colored, strapless fruit tart-neckline–“

“Sweetheart.” Elle corrected, keeping her eyes locked on her phone screen.

“That’s actually worse. I know Watson’s not going to wear a tux. Everyone’s going to give me a hard time if I show up in a dress. It’s almost not worth going.”

“I’ll let you wear pants, just not jeans. Some effort is necessary. You’d look great in tuxedo pants. They’re essentially skinny jeans with fancier fabric. They come in different colors, some even have patterns. It would be a great alternative for you.”

“Sweet. I can jump on board with that. What would I do in terms of a shirt and shoes?”

“We could get you a cute blouse and a blazer or we can do just a blouse. I’m more in favor of the blazer option, but it’s your choice. In terms of shoes, I’d love you to rock a pair of heels, but I know they’re not your thing. Ballet flats, boots, maybe even Converse, if they’re clean.”

“That’s doable. Will you pick it out? I hate shopping. I stuffed my satchel full of comics. I’ll read while you shop. We both win.”

“Can I put you in heels if I teach you to walk in them?” Elle looked to her, excited.

“Sure, but nothing too high. I need to be able to run in them.” She turned the page of her book.

“Why do you need to be able to run in your prom shoes?” Morgan looked to her as we waited at a stop light.

“Watson and I have impromptu missions all the time. I’m just saying IF I need to run away, I want to be able to do it without a problem.” She shrugged.

I giggled as Morgan shook her head. “You have some of it preplanned, don’t you?” She questioned, knowingly.

“We have created a number of ‘just in case’ scenario plans. None of it will happen if things go as they should.”

“Like what?” Elle asked.

“That’s classified.”

“I can’t wait until prom.” I announced.

“That’s the spirit, Iz. I’m excited too.” Elle smiled at me.

“I just want to see what they come up with.”

“Other aspects are going to be fun too. It’s nice to see everyone all dressed up. The decorations are to die for; we’ve gone with an old Hollywood theme this year. We’ll get our pictures taken. We’ll dance. It’s going to be a good night.”

“I am pretty pumped up to see Milo in a tux.” I looked to her with a smile.

She sighed dreamily and placed a hand on her chest. “That boy cleans up VERY well. There was a picture of him and Ryan together at last year’s prom in the yearbook. I almost died of a sexiness overdose when I saw it. Remind me, I’ll show you later.”

“I’ll definitely have to look at that.”

“Is he matching his tie to your dress or are you just making sure they don’t clash?”

“He has a black tie. I was thinking maybe I’d get a black dress, but at the same time I love the colorful ones. Aud wore a black dress to her prom. How great she looked in it stuck with me.”

“Did she go with Everett?” Excitement was written all over her face.

“Yep. Her senior prom was the only dance she went to. She was escorted by her future husband; efficiency at its finest. ”

“I’d LOVE to see those pictures eventually.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” I smiled over at her.

As soon as we entered the mall, Elle led us to one of the department stores. I started to feel overwhelmed when I spotted their wide selection. Sami sat down on the couch in the dress section. She removed one of her comics from her bag and immediately started reading. Morgan started skimming the racks.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Elle mused.

“Where do I start?” I looked around at the dresses, wide eyed.

“That’s the best part! There is no right answer. Pick up one that looks pretty and try it on. If it doesn’t work, just move on to the next one.”

“Can you point me in the right direction?” I requested with a hopeful smile.

“I’d love to!” She looped her arm through mine and dragged me over to the nearest rack.

Three hours later, I had tried on 15 dresses and none of them were ‘the one’. Morgan had found hers, though. It was a purple strapless floor-length gown with a ruched knotted top bodice and a belted bow waistline. She looked so beautiful. She got a unanimous ‘yes’ from all of us when she asked what we thought. She joined Sami on the couch and started reading the comics she had completed.

“Why can’t I find one? There are thousands to choose from.” I asked Elle after changing out of my last dress.

“We’re holding out for ‘the one’. That usually takes a while and it happens when you least expect it, but it’s totally worth it. Clothes follow relationship philosophy.” She took the dress from me and placed it on the restock rack in the dressing room.

“I gu—“ I stopped in my tracks when I saw the boys standing by Morgan and Sami.

“What are they doing here?” Elle asked incredulously before storming over there.

I followed her over there with a bright smile.

“I told you not to come here! We’re busy and you’re going to ruin the whole effect!” Elle fussed at Ryan, putting her hands on her hips.

“I am sure I’ll still think you look beautiful.” He offered her an innocent smile and batted his eyelashes.

“What does he want?” She looked to Milo.

“Finn lost a bet and he owes Ryan a video game. We are here to pick it up. We passed this section on our way to the main portion of the mall. I think he wants to inform you of his win.”

“Are you trying to impress me?” She raised an eyebrow.

“Is it working?”

She fought off a smile. “You’re silly.”

“How is dress shopping?” Milo smiled at me.

“Abysmal. Guess how many dresses I’ve tried on.”

“Um, 5?”

“Try triple that.”

“Yikes.”

I nodded. “My expectations might be too high.”

“What are they?”

“I want it to make me feel good. I want it to help make prom a night that allows me to forget what everyone is saying back home. I want it to be our night, you know?” I couldn’t make eye contact with him until the last sentence.

He placed his hand on the side of my face and caressed my cheek with his thumb. “They don’t know you.”

“That doesn’t stop it from hurting.”

“I love you.”He leaned down and kissed me.

I smiled against his lips and pecked them once more.

“I love you too.” I informed him after he pulled away.

“Let’s go, Miles. Finn needs to pay up.” Ry called to him.

“See you later?” He kept his eyes on me.

I nodded. “Have fun.” I offered him a smile.

He returned it. “You too.”

I blew him a kiss as he walked away with the guys. He winked at me. I couldn’t keep a dopey smile from creeping onto my face.

“You two are so cute.” Elle smiled at me.

“No, we’re not. We’re just – I don’t know. It’s easy for me to feel like myself with him.”

“And you are adorable.” She cooed and pinched my cheek like I was a baby.

I rolled my eyes with a smile and turned around to follow her to more dresses. My eyes landed on a mauve strapless, floor-length gown with a sheer illusion plunging neckline and a lace overlay. There were a few embellishments on it, making it sparkle a bit as the light hit it. 

“I think I’m in love.” I walked towards it with a smile.

Elle turned around. “Oooo, great choice.”

I found my size and went to the dressing room. Elle came in with me and helped me zip it up. As soon as she was done, I looked at myself in the mirror. I placed my hands on my hips and checked myself out in all directions. I loved how it looked and moved. I felt so beautiful.

“This is the one. Definitely.” I kept my eyes on myself.

“I couldn’t agree more. You look fabulous.”

“I already own heels that match it too, which is a bonus.”

“You should go out and show Mom. It’ll always give you a better idea of how it moves.”

“Good idea.” I unlatched the door and walked out.

“Oh, Izzie, it’s beautiful.” She placed her hand on her chest and beamed at it.

Sami tore her eyes away from her comic. “It looks like you. You should get it.” 

“Yeah?” I smiled.

“You look really happy in it.” She added before she resumed reading.

As promised, Sami let Elle pick out her prom outfit. She settled on a pair of red tuxedo pants with a black stripe down the side. A white blouse and a black marching band-style blazer with gold buttons. She paired it with black heels. They weren’t crazy high – only 3 inches, but it was easier for me to imagine Sams wearing her Doc Martin’s. After the four of us bought our prom wear, we put our clothing bags in Morgan car and went to the food court to get lunch.

“Pleasure to see you again, ladies.” Ryan sat down at our table.

“How did dress shopping go?” Milo sat down beside me.

“I did it. I found the perfect dress.” I smile in his direction.

“That’s great. Where is it?”

“Morgan’s car. How did buying Ry’s game go?”

“He made Finn recite ‘I, Finnegan Patrick Watson, have lost to you, Ryan Matthew Stephens, and now I must pay what I owe or suffer the dire consequences’ at the register as dramatically as possible before he bought it. We drew quite the crowd.”

I giggled. “I bet. I would’ve loved to have seen it.”

“No worries. It’s all on my phone.” He removed it from his pocket and cued up the video.

“You’re not allowed to share my pain with others. It’s in the contract.” Finn called to him from his seat beside Sami.

“There was a contract involved?” Morgan asked, looking up from her food.

“I don’t mess around with my money, Mom. Finnegan thinks it’s funny to outsmart our bet arrangements. I drew up a contract myself using Elle as a consult. We made it evil genius proof.” Ryan informed her.

I looked to Elle for verification. She sighed heavily. “His proposal made it sound important.”

“It was important.” He corrected.

“I refuse to believe getting the latest addition of Grand Theft Auto was a matter of life and death.”

He gasped overdramatically and placed his hand on his chest. “I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

I giggled at his priceless expression.

“Sometimes, you make it hard for me to admit that we are friends.” She told him.

“Yet you’re going to prom with me.” He pointed out with a wicked smirk.

“Don’t make me change my mind.”

“You know you like this.” He placed a kiss on her cheek. She fought off a smile as she pushed him away.

“I’ll show you later.” Milo whispered in my ear.

“You better.” I smiled over at him.

After we finished lunch, we resumed shopping as a group. Milo and I held hands as we walked. Elle dictated where we went. The rest of us had no preference of where we went next. We ended up in a make-up store. She wanted to buy eyeshadow that matched her dress.

“What color’s your dress?” Milo asked me.

“It’s a pinkish color. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you match me.” I smiled in his direction.

“I would do it if you asked.”

“I know, but I like it better when people in a coupling do their own thing but keep each other in mind.”

He nodded in understanding. I continued to absent-mindedly browse the make-up counter.

“This is the color of my dress.” I pointed to a tube of lipgloss the identical shade.

“Do you want that?”                                                             

“You know you’re not allowed to buy me anything.” I picked up the box of lip gloss with the same number as the display.

I put together a make-up palette based on my dress with my skin and eye colors in mind. Elle helped, of course. I placed my items on the counter by the register. As the cashier rang them up, I reached into my purse to get my wallet. Before I could get out my card, Milo was swiping his through the machine.

“Milo, — ” I looked at him pointedly.

“I don’t have to buy anything for prom. That’s not fair.” He signed his name on the touch screen.

“This is it.“ I accepted the bag the cashier offered me. 

“I’m not making that promise. What else do you need to get?” He took my hand back into his.

“You’re not going to give up, are you?”

He shook his head. “You might as well do this the easy way.”

“Earrings.” I admitted.

“That is it?” He looked at me with disbelief.

“And a special bra. My dress is strapless.” I added reluctantly, looking down.

“I can handle that.” He placed a kiss on my cheek and reached for my bag.

“Nope, you’re not allowed to do everything. I’m capable of carrying it.” I held it out of reach.

“So stubborn.” He joked.

“You know it.” I played along

 Being fully submerged in all things prom has allowed me to get my mind off of my dwindling reputation. The problem still exists without me fixating on it. I’m doing my best to handle it, but it will still be out of my hands for a few more weeks. Living in the now was the only hope I have for remaining in one piece. There’s a difference between repressing and postponing. Repressing is a recipe for a disaster waiting to happen. Postponing allows you to have a moment to breathe to keep you from drowning in your problems. Returning to the problematic situation is how the distinction is made.

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