"So are you going to go, then?" Stella, Lacey's favourite person in the world, spoke. She was curled up on Lacey's sofa, a cup of coffee between her small, ring laden, pale hands. Lacey had always been jealous of Stella. She was tall, edgy, fashionable and didn't look like a ten-year-old. Stella blew her coal coloured fringe out of her emerald eyes, before giving Lacey a nudge. "Are you?" She said, in a scandalised sort of way.
"I don't know! Maybe? I mean, he wasn't my type- sure, he's my Mother's type. Tall, suited up, obviously a business man. He's definitely rich. The date's at the Bello Pane." Stella looked shocked, as her mouth dropped and she inhaled sharply. Lacey nodded, proudly.
"You've got to go!" Stella shuffled in her seat, she budged up to Lacey and seemed more excited than she should have been-more excited than Lacey was, though that wasn't hard to beat. After Lacey still didn't seem convinced, Stella got up, leaned down and put her mug on the table. "Ms Lacey Louise Veronica George, if you do not go on this date," Stella held one hand half in the air and the was other on her heart, "I, Stella Elizabeth Ronson, hereby promise-nay swear- to slap you very, very...brilliantly around the face." She grinned, looking very unimpressed by her own choice of words.
"Then I must go!" Lacey smiled, playing along, "I mean, a brilliant slap is the worst type of slap!" Lacey gave her a sarcastic look and went back to feeling slightly deflated.
"I couldn't think of any other adjectives that expressed quite how much I want you to go on this date!" Stella threw her hands up and collapsed back on to the sofa. She looked at Lacey. She poked her with her index finger that held a beautiful, pale rose crystal ring. "You have to go." She said, more softly this time.
"Fine." Lacey stood up and grabbed Stella's mug from the table. "But if this end badly, and I'm almost positively certain that it will, then I will be giving you that brilliant slap." She smiled, sweetly and Stella mimicked her.
* * *
"Stell!" Lacey pushed her friends hand away, which was poking at her eye, "I don't want fake eyelashe-OW!" Lacey pulled away, "You've got glue in my eye!" Stella pushed on, trying to steady her friend,
"Lace! Stay still! It doesn't hurt!" Stella's right hand had hold of a small bottle of eyelash glue and the other held Lacey's wrist. But, no matter how hard she tried, Stella couldn't intercept Lacey's hit. Lacey swung her hand round and slapped Stella across the head. Stella withdrew and held her cheek in shock. Lacey laughed, but realised that she had no grip on the chair and before she could stop herself she was-"AGH!" falling off her chair.
Stella just stood there, in silence. Lacey was on her stomach, her dressing gown revealing almost a little too much of her behind. Her hand was on her forehead, which was searing with pain. She was sure it was grazed and could almost feel her skin turning bruise coloured. Stella had removed her hand from her reddening cheek, and had placed it over her mouth. Her eyes were wide and she looked more shocked than before. Lacey pushed herself off of the floor and leant on the foot of her bed. She looked at Stella and Stella looked back. Within moments, they were laughing, hysterically. Stella had tears in her eyes, the laughter forcing them out. The laughing session lasted a whole five minutes before they pulled themselves together and Stella simply said, "No eyelashes for you then." which, of course, sparked another fit of the giggles.
When they had totally and completely settled down, Lacey sat back on the chair, in front of her mirror and gasped when she saw the atrocity on her forehead. "Stell!" She turned to her friend, who was sat on Lacey's bed, her phone in her hand. "Why didn't you tell me it was this bad!" Stella seemed unresponsive, still looking at her phone. "Stell!" the other girl finally acknowledged Lacey.
"Sorry, Lace. Rick-" Stella's boyfriend-"Needs me." And with that, a glum looking Stella grabbed her coat from the foot of the bed, ran out of the room and after a few moments, Lacey heard her front door open and close. Lacey gulped and looked in the mirror. The bruise on her forehead was beginning to form. It was redder than it should be as the carpet burn was swelling. Her mascara was running, leaving dark black trails down her cheeks. Her left eye was bloodshot, and stinging, but it was nothing compared to the pain in her head. Before breaking down in tears, Lacey had to believe that her look was salvageable. She picked up her phone, which lay on the bed behind her and realised that it was half past six. Half and hour. Half an hour to patch up her make-up, dry and style her hair and choose an outfit. Almost hyperventilating, Lacey began her job.
* * *
In almost record time, Lacey had fixed her make-up. She applied plenty of mascara-she didn't need fake eyelashes anyway. Her lipstick was faint, but glossy and her hair was easily done. It was times like this, that Lacey thanked the Gods that she had chosen a boyish haircut. She had straightened it and placed it over her forehead, over the bruise, as a side-fringe, before spraying it with lashings of hairspray. Her dress was simple enough. Short, but still classy, it was black lace that had shoulder sleeves and a slight puffiness to the middle. Happy with her look, Lacey pulled her phone out her purse and checked the time. She was already late. Ten minutes late, but she knew that Leo wouldn't be there at seven on the dot and stay for only a minute. She let out a sigh and picked up her plain black six inch high heels, before slipping on some flats. The Bello Pane was only a short trip down the road, and Lacey hated taxis. Being alone in a random car with a stranger gave her the creeps, so she had decided to walk.
* * *
The Bello Pane. There it was, in glowing letters. Lacey had passed here before, many times, but she had never been in. It was the type of place her Mother would have taken her to, for her birthdays, as a child, and she hardly wanted to relive those slightly awkward memories. But, she was here now. Putting on her heels, she could see the inside of the restaurant. It was busy, she could tell that much, but it also seemed spacious. It had grand furniture, as far as she could see, and the wallpaper was very elegant.
Before she could study it any more, a pair of hands gripped her shoulders, gently, from the back. Shivers rushed down her arms and as she turned around, she was shocked to see who the hands belonged to.
"Lacey!" Benedict Foster. He planted a kiss on both of her cheeks. Wow, he looks the same. "I almost didn't recognise you with that lesbian haircut!" He laughed, his hands still on her shoulders. Oh, he was just the same. The same insulting, stereotypical jokes. The same gorgeous cheekbones and glittering eyes. Her childhood sweetheart, here, now, to ruin her date. His hands dropped, then, as someone else took his arm. Lacey looked to see who it was. Some blonde, tall, perfect woman with perfect hair and perfect make-up. Lacey tried to stop the jealousy rising inside her. She and Ben had ended it in their last year of high-school, nearly eight years before, but there was still a hint of attraction for Lacey, even though he was a lot of an ass-hole. "Well, say something!" Ben spoke, his accent was the same as Lacey's, but she knew that he'd been living in the West since he had left school, and so his voice was more polished now.
"Hello!" Lacey blurted out, as if she was just saying something for the sake of it, and she was. She could see how successful he'd become; standing there in a fancy suit, with his girl dressed in a gorgeous red dress. Lacey couldn't help but think how much of her life she had wasted. "It's been nice to see you, but I've got a date so, I've got to get going." She nodded, before turning around and-" Lace, wait. We'll walk in with you." He smiled, catching up to her.
As they entered the restaurant, Lacey spoke to the Waiter at the door. He grinned and said, in a thick Italian accent, "Welcome to The Bello Pane! Eh, name? Please." He had a an entrance book in his hand. Lacey suddenly felt her gut wrench, and after all that had happened so far that night, she didn't feel so hungry any more. Lacey, ignoring the man, looked around for Leo. He was nowhere to be seen. Typical. She thought. Just typical. She didn't know whether to be angry at him, or herself. Perhaps he had waited, but it was only quarter past seven. And, unless Lacey had read him wrong, Leo seemed to be a very patient guy.
"You know what, I think I'll give tonight a miss." She held her stomach, suddenly feeling rather sick. As she tried to walk out, Ben grabbed her arm, looking beyond pitiful.
"I'm in the city for a while, perhaps we can meet up for coffee?" Lacey smiled the best she could and nodded, before walking out, leaving him with his arm out and his girlfriend looking impatient.
Standing outside, she took in a few deep breaths. This was the biggest mistake ever. It had been the worst night she had ever endured, and she felt as if she was about to be sick. She was on the verge of being completely dissolved of dignity, but she felt as though she had a tiny scrap of pride left, and decided not to throw up on the street, like some common drunk. Composing herself, Lacey made her way back home. But, a few steps into her journey, she saw a figure running towards her, at quite some speed. It was dark, and the moon revealed only a silhouette of the figure that was gaining on her. She stood still, shocked and unknowing of what to do. That was it. She was never leaving her house again.
As the figure got closer, Lacey's heart lurched.
It was Leo.