Birthday

In which a girl gets all her birthday wishes.

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4. 6:12 p.m.

6:12 p.m.

Mila and Hartley are finally back home from the mall, which Mila thinks she has already memorized due to all the walking and searching she’s done today. Surprisingly, Hartley didn’t take five hours to find Mila her dress, so here they are, ready from some primping for some mysterious blind date.

Mila leaves her bedroom door open behind the two of them once they’re inside. Hartley dumps their shopping bags on the floor and puts her hands on her hips. “We don’t have that much work to do, but…”

“I hope you’re not insinuating terrible things about me,” Mila says. She bends down and fiddles with a bag. “You bought me lingerie while you were at it?” She looks up, raising an eyebrow. “You really have high hopes for this blind date.”

Hartley rolls her eyes. “We’re not adults, Mi. That stuff’s for me.”

“You’re not an adult too…” Mila throws a hot pink push up bra at Hartley’s face, and it catches on her bun perfectly. “Disgusting. You’ll have to tell me who the guy is later. And who is the guy I’ll be seeing tonight?”

“That would ruin the surprise, wouldn’t it?” Hartley takes the bra off her head. “Anyway, it’s time for you to get ready. We wouldn’t want the dress I prepared to go to waste…again.”

“Shut up.” Mila takes the bag with her dress. “That event…was a different matter.” She looks up at her best friend, who sends her a strangely triumphant smile. “Let’s get going, shall we?”

“Ow, ow,” Mila says, flinching as she resists the urge to reach out a couple inches and to strangle her best friend. “Have you ever heard that you’re not supposed to put the curling iron right against human skin?”

“Shut up; you make sacrifices for beauty,” Hartley says through clenched teeth. She takes a bobby pin from between her teeth and sticks it in Mila’s hair, probably disregarding the fact that it’s poking into her scalp rather than holding her hair together. “You wouldn’t want to look like a hot mess, would you?”

“It’s a new trend nowadays.” Mila closes her eyes. “Why do I need to look like I’m going on the red carpet tonight? For all you know, I could be going to McDonald’s, and this might just be overkill.”

“Well, lucky for you”—Hartley spits out the bobby pins between her teeth, muttering something about the metallic taste—“I happen to have the guy’s number. And he’s told me everything. Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

“Yeah, like your past history’s proved that.” Mila rolls her eyes. “Fine, whatever. We’re almost done, right?”

“Stick in there, fella.” Hartley finally releases the last strand of hair from the hair curler and sticks another pin into Mila’s scalp. “And there. Stand up and use that full-length mirror that your mom got you. Or the one that your dad got you. I can’t really remember.”

Mila doesn’t say anything even though she really does want to slap her best friend for being such an annoying bitch, but she stands up and wobbles her way to her bedroom mirror. Woah. She doesn’t remember looking like…Audrey Hepburn. Her hair’s woven into curls which are pinned to the back of her head—all that hair curling has paid off. And that amazing eye shadow effect that Hartley claims that she invented… And her bright pink lipstick. And that little black dress.

She turns around to Hartley, who looks like she has tears in her eyes for whatever reason. “Thank you, Hart,” she whispers. “Thank you.” She pauses. “I didn’t know you were such a makeup guru.”

“I’m not. But I can certainly pretend.” Hartley shrugs. She checks her watch, frowns a little, and starts typing furiously away, like she’s texting someone.

“What’s up?”

“Just messing around with your date a little…” Hartley’s frown deepens.

Mila reaches for her phone. Hartley turns around and holds the phone away, scowling. Mila can’t tell if it’s playful or not. “Stop it,” Hartley scolds. “You are not messing up all the work I just did on you.”

“You’re such a scheming bitch,” Mila says.

“Yeah, I know.” Hartley seems to have accomplished what she wants and looks up with a tiny smile. “And yeah, time’s running out, so let me walk you out.” And she walks out of Mila’s bedroom without a back glance.

“Stupid brat, she didn’t even tell me where I’m supposed to be going,” Mila mutters as she grabs her clutch and heads out herself.

At the front door, Hartley is standing with her hands on her hips, looking a little like a proud mother on the night of her daughter’s prom. Mila raises an eyebrow. “Well, I hope you can apply those mothering instincts somewhere else, preferably with that guy you bought lingerie for.”

Hartley blushes—she actually flushes a bright pink that can rival Mila’s lipstick!—and turns to Mila’s dress, pretending to fiddle with one of the straps. “Well,” she mumbles, “you’ll have to meet him soon…”

“Yes!” Mila is nothing short of jumping up and down in her killer heels. “See, I—”

“Enough about me; more about you.” Hartley steps back from Mila’s dress. “Anyway, I guess I should tell you where you’re driving.”

“Yes?” Although she won’t admit it, Mila doesn’t feel too secure about herself and her date tonight. There are already butterflies battering the sides of her stomach, and she has a feeling her appetite won’t be too good at the meal tonight. She doesn’t even want to go through all the what-ifs that she’s so good at creating in her mind. She licks her lips.

Hartley sends her a dirty look, but she keeps talking. “The Sunset Grille. I told him six thirty, and for him to prepare something special for you afterward. It’s your birthday after all.” Mila fidgets with her clutch. Hartley pats her shoulder and pouts. “I’m very sure it’ll be something you’ll always remember. Your seventeenth will be very special.”

“You’re really sure.” Mila avoids her eyes.

“Yes. Now go. You’re making me nervous. I have very high expectations for this guy.” Hartley actually pushes her out her front door, knowing that Mila can trip and fall and break her face. Mila sighs and walks out to her car.

She settles in, sends a last look at Hartley (who’s dramatically waving and wiping off imaginary tears as if she’s seeing Mila off on a journey across the Atlantic), and pulls out.

The first thing Mila thinks is that Hartley did not mention that the Sunset Grille is one of the fanciest restaurants that she has ever seen. Well, she thinks as she lets out a long sigh, at least I fit in. She gets out of the car, taking a second to steady herself on her ridiculously high heels. The parking spot that she’s chosen isn’t too far from the restaurant itself, so she takes a chance to scan the people sitting at the window tables. No one she knows. Hartley has prepared well.

She sighs again and pulls out her phone. There’s no warning text from Hartley saying that this entire thing is a joke and that she should get back home so the two of them can continue the dress up game together. This is it. She stows the phone back in her clutch and starts to walk across the parking lot toward the beautiful, modern building.

Well, whoever this guy is, he has money. Mila licks her lips one last time and pauses before she steps up to the entrance of the restaurant. She’ll make it through. She will. She steps through.

The maître d’hotel greets her immediately as soon as she steps in. He takes her jacket, and, surveying her appearance with a satisfied glint in his eye, asks her if she has a reservation. She inhales.

“Yes, I’m here for a reservation for two under Beauregard. I’m told my date is already here.”

“Of course, Miss Beauregard. I’ll have someone take you to your table.” He smiles briefly. “I hope you enjoy your meal.”

“Thank you,” she murmurs as she is ushered away.

For some reason, she feels just a little self-important as she walks through the bustling steakhouse full of distinguished businessmen, heels sinking into the plush carpet. She keeps her chin held high as she follows the waiter through all the tables to a spot not far from the heart of the restaurant, the bar. She will not freak out. From the way Hartley has been acting, this guy can’t be much older—she knows perfectly well what Mila’s taste in guys is. And the two must be close, because Hartley has his number. Mila definitely knows him, whoever he is.

The waiter pauses at a table set for two, where someone in a jacket and tie sits waiting, head bowed as he enjoys his cocktail. “Here you are, ma’am.”

Mila can only numbly walk to her seat and sit down after the waiter pulls out the seat for her. She stares straight ahead at his face and holds in a breath.

Oh my God. I love Hartley so much for this.

“Enjoy your meal.” And the waiter leaves her with him.

Well, isn't Hartley very, very devious? She definitely has something up her sleeve that Mila and her date didn't see at all. Mila's also such a darling...who's related to another darling we know here. [I know, I'm awfully clever, yeah...just kidding. I missed Hailey and Calvin a lot.]

Anyway, please do keep up your support! I love you all for it!

By the way, on a different subject, does anyone know any methods to get unaddicted to a TV show? I'm kinda addicted to Gossip Girl now...uh oh. Please comment below; I appreciate all suggestions!

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