Saturday soon rolled around and the girls in dorm seven were up bright and early, getting ready for a day full of shopping. Rose was the first one to wake, groaning when she saw the time on her alarm clock, knowing she would never fall back asleep. She pulled herself out of bed and quietly made her way into the bathroom. She carried out her morning routine, brushing her hair, washing her face, cleaning her teeth, and applying a slight touch of natural makeup. She had never been a fan of makeup, she didn’t like the feeling of a face caked with foundation, lips immovable with lip-gloss, and eyelashes sticky with mascara. She didn’t even think she needed it, as she knew she wasn’t a bad looker. She took off her pajamas, put on clean underwear and a matching hot pink bra from Victoria Secret, and tiptoed into the bedroom towards the window to check what the weather was like. Olivia moaned sleepily in her bed and Rose yelped, sprinting back into the bathroom, and closing the door behind her. Adrenaline pumping from the shock, she decided that it was warm enough for shorts and she pulled one of her favorite outfits. The tank top had been a gift from a friend before she moved to New York. It was pale pink and on the front was written LOVE in black lettering, on the back was written HATE. She wore dark denim shorts and black strappy sandals with a small heel. On one of her wrists was a single friendship bracelet, all four of the girls had the same one, each in a different color. Hers was blue. On her left wrist was a silver watch which had been a gift from her aunt. She was tying her hair up into a high ponytail when Ava knocked on the door.
“Come in, I’m nearly done,” she called out.
“You look hot, no lez intended.”
Rose laughed, “I’ve been up for hours, that’s why.”
“Yeah right, anyways, let me know when you’re done-”
Rose grabbed Ava’s hand and pulled her into the bathroom, dodging around her and heading back into the bedroom, smacking Ava’s bum as she left. “No lez intended,” she laughed.
Next to each of the beds was a small table with a lamp and some room for their personal belongings. Rose walked over to Olivia’s bed, a laugh beginning to rise in her throat. A small silver chain dangled from inside the lampshade and with a quick flip of her wrist, Rose gave the chain a slight tug and the lamp lit up.
“Bitch!” shouted Olivia, covering her eyes and waving her hands dramatically.
Rose ignored Olivia’s flailing arms and skipped over to Isabella’s bed, who she shook gently until she gave a quiet moan. Rose started to turn around but all of sudden she was falling forward, on top of Isabella. She heard Olivia laugh from behind.
“At least you’re out of bed, Liv.”
“Get off of me,” said Isabella, who was wriggling around under Rose’s body, trying to breathe under the girl’s weight.
“Ooops,” Rose laughed, jumping off the bed. She walked back to her own, bumping Olivia’s hip with hers on the way. “Get dressed. It’s 9 o’clock already, I’m going down for breakfast in thirty minutes.”
An hour later, the girls were sat at their table in the dining hall, everyone in the room was chatting excitedly about shopping plans. After they had eaten a delicious breakfast of warm blueberry muffins and steaming oatmeal, they hurried out, wanting to make the most of their time in town. They couldn’t leave the school until 12 o’clock, which meant they had an hour to kill. The decision was made to hang out in their room until it was time to leave, and time soon flew by.
“Bella? Are you ready?” asked Rose, getting impatient, “Honest to God, we’ll just go without you!” she yelled.
“I’m here, I’m here,” called Isabella as she approached the door, holding a piece of paper in her mouth.
“What you got there?” asked Rose as she locked the door behind them.
“It’s an envelope, my allowance is inside.”
“Oh, mine’s in my wallet. Hurry, the other girls are waiting downstairs.”
It was a quarter past twelve by the time Rose, Olivia, Isabella, and Ava had signed out of the school. They walked at a quick pace out of the school grounds and down the steep hill to the town. The weather was warm but the occasional autumn breeze was chilly as it blew the hair across the girls’ faces. It took ten minutes to reach the street lined with the best shops, and it didn’t take long at all to locate the pretty boutique that Olivia had been talking up all week. As they pulled open the door, the tinkling of a small bell could be heard throughout the store.
The boutique wasn’t very large, and although it was filled with rows of clothes rails, it had a spacious impression. The walls had been lined with panels of wood and painted white, the floor the same. There were pink glass chandeliers hanging here and there from the ceiling, as well as sparkly floor lamps plugged into all of the wall sockets. Along the walls were clothes rails and in the center of the store were white tables displaying everything from shoes to accessories. There were white leather sofas sat on pink woven rugs, and beautiful vases with roses of every color under the sun.
As the four girls separated to look at different things, a middle-aged woman appeared from the behind the counter. She was decked out in a pink blouse and pleated skirt, high heels, and pink bangles sliding musically along her arm. Her hair was done up in a high bun with silver feathers placed messily around its base.
“Let me know if you need anything,” she said, smiling widely, too widely though Rose. She looked in her direction and nodded as if to say ‘will do,’ and then carried on looking at one of the many rails of dresses.
“What do you think Liv?” asked Rose, holding up a pale blue dress.
“Yuck!” replied Olivia, crinkling her face with disgust.
“I guess that’s a no then,” said Rose.
“That dress will never get a yes,” said Olivia.
The girls pawed through more dress rails until another one caught Rose’s eye.
“Liv, what do you think of this one?” she asked. The dress was strapless, made out of pink silk, and covered with tulle netting that crossed at the bust.
“It’s perfect!” Olivia squealed, waving her arms around in excitement. “You have to try it on!”
The smile that Rose threw in Olivia’s direction was almost as big as the one the shopkeeper had worn on her face. “If you insist,” she laughed, pulling the curtain of the changing stall closed as she stepped inside of it.
“Sooooo.. what’s it like?” asked a persistent Olivia for what Rose thought must have been the tenth time.
“I haven’t got any more of it over my body since the last time you asked!”
Rose hooked the hanger back onto the short wooden rail and unzipped the side of the dress. She slipped it over her head and let it fall around her. She zipped it up and tucked the hanger straps into its side. Then she tugged the bobble out of her hair and let it cascade around her shoulders. When she looked at herself in the mirror, she could instantly see what Olivia had imagined.
“Ta da!” sung Rose as she stepped out of the changing room.
Olivia was nowhere to be seen. She scanned the rest of the store, unable to spot her friend. The others weren’t in sight either.
“Liv?” she called.
There was no reply. Rose stepped further into the store, about to ask the shop assistant if she knew where her friends had disappeared to, when she caught a quick movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned to face the front window and saw her friends outside. They were huddled around something. Rose couldn’t see what it was and stepped out of the store, forgetting that she was still wearing the dress until she heard an ear-piercing beeping noise. The shop assistant, who was also outside, came back and stopped the noise. The other girls had turned their heads when the alarm went off, and called Rose over towards them.
“What happened?” she asked.
Olivia was the one who replied, “We saw a dog sprinting down the road and a man calling after him- there he is now, crossing the road.”
Rose turned to get a look at the man who was making his way over towards them, and as he came closer, Rose saw that he was only young, not as old as he had seemed from afar. He was dressed in a light blue shirt and smart black jeans, baseball shoes in a deep purple color, and his hair, chocolate brown like his eyes, was gelled back. Beside her, Isabella breathed in and Rose knew what she was thinking. He was good looking. Then suddenly something clicked somewhere in her mind and she started back towards the store, hoping he wouldn’t see her.
“Elizabeth?” the boy asked, looking in Rose’s direction.
She gave no answer, but looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. She knew what he was thinking and shook her head slightly, hoping he would get her message.
His eyes twinkled and she closed hers for a second in relief.
“Sorry, I must be mistaken,” he blushed slightly, “Anyways, thank you for stopping Alfred for me, he really hasn’t been himself today.”
“No problem,” said Ava, who was gazing at the mysterious boy.
“What are you doing in New York?” asked Rose.
The other girls looked at her, confused.
“I mean, your accent makes me assume you’re British.”
“That would be correct,” he said, letting out another masculine chuckle, “I’m transferring here for the semester, it’s part of some British curriculum, I don’t really know,” the boy responded, shrugging.
“Sounds pretty cool,” said Olivia.
The boy looked as though he was planning on saying something, but had changed his mind at the last minute. “I’m Chris by the way.”
“And I’m Rose,” she said, stepping forward to shake Chris’s hand. “No Elizabeth here, although I do hope you find your friend.”
Chris smirked, “She’s just somebody that I used to know, I visited New York one summer…” his voice trailed off, and he glanced at his watch.
“Well,” Ava pointed to the store, “We had better head back inside.”
“Cool. Thanks again. See you around,” Chris said, touching Rose gently on the arm, willing for her to stay back a minute.
“Rose, you coming?” asked Isabella, standing in the doorway.
The moment that Isabella turned her back to them, Rose spun around to face Chris.
“You have one minute to explain,” she said, “Julian,” she spat out.
“Give over, I see I’m not the only one with multiple identities. Though I must say your American accent is really quite believable.
“Whatever. I doubt I even want to know.”
Rose turned, stopping when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Can I call you?”
Rose tried to force her scowl from turning into a smile. The sun was behind him, making his brown hair shine gold like a halo around his face. A flawless face, shaded darker where his long eyelashes cast shadows down his cheek. She couldn’t help but admit just how many times she had closed her eyes at night and seen his face behind her eyelids since they had last seen each other.
Julian caught her gazing at him dreamily and winked, “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Rose flipped her hair over her shoulder and waved goodbye.
“What now Jules?”
“You should buy that dress,” he said, and walked away, his thumbs in his pockets, whistling ‘God Save the Queen’ under his breath.
“So...” Ava started cheekily, “Does this mean you have dibs on the hottie.”
“Guys!” groaned Rose, but then smiled, “We’ll see. He did give me his number.”
Olivia squealed and then suddenly remembered the dress Rose was wearing. “I told you it would look fab.”
“Well you are the dress master,” teased Rose, smiling to herself about how Jules liked it too. She walked over to the shoe display, “what color shoes should I wear?”
“Silver heels,” said Ava, appearing behind a stack of dresses and cardigans, as if it was the most certain thing she had ever said. “There’s a pair right here if you want to try them on.”
“Wow. They look beautiful,” said Rose, admiring the shoes. “Oh my gosh, I think that clutch would match everything perfectly!” she exclaimed, having spotted a purse on a shelf behind Ava. She slipped on the shoes, held the bag in her hand, and strutted through the store. The other girls looked up from the bundles of clothes they each had, and couldn’t help but agree.
“You are buying it all,” declared Olivia.
Rose smiled, “Thanks ladies, I’ll be here all week,” and with that, she went back to change.
Once she had pulled the heavy curtain closed behind her, Rose took out her iPhone. She scrolled through her contacts and found Julian’s number. He hadn’t had to give it to her, she already had it from the summer. She clicked onto their texts but then changed her mind, turning off the phone and slipping it back into her purse. She’d let him text her first.
After the other girls had each chosen a dress, they left the store, bright, bulging shopping bags in every hand, the name of the boutique scrawled across them.
“Sorry!” Ava apologized
“You should be! The stupid edge of your bag laddered my tights,” complained Rose, tutting.
“You have at least a hundred pairs, I’m sure you’ll live,” said Olivia.
“But these are my fav- ”Rose stopped. She crinkled her brow and turned her head to look behind.
“I could have sworn I just saw Ju- Chris.”
“He’s not the only good looking guy in New York,” said Isabella sarcastically.
Rose shook her head, dismissing what she thought she had just seen. “You’re right. Anyways, we need to pick up our pace or we’ll be late back and none of us want to spend tomorrow stuck in our rooms at the school.”
“You’re the slow one,” laughed Olivia.
Behind a lamppost, a boy sighed with relief.