I stared at the girl before me, and her nervous eyes behind those black rimmed glasses were also set on me. Tentatively, I tucked a strayed strand behind my ear and bit my lip. She mimicked. I blinked, so did she.
"You done with your staredown match with yourself, Em?" A huff came from behind me. "For God's sake! You're doing this for the last five minutes! You're creeping me out now!"
I glanced at my best friend through the mirror. With folded arms on her chest, sitting at the edge of my bed, she scowled at me.
My eyes went back to my reflection. "I don't know, Beth. Do you think he- he'll like my look?"
"After we spent two hours to doll you up? Yes, we think that he'll like your look. And won't reject you when you announce your undying love for him," said my other best friend, Casie, standing beside Beth.
Reject. The same word that has been haunting my dreams for years now. I've been waiting for this day for six years. The day he said those words to me. I've been waiting since.
And if he rejects me today… I don't know what I'd do.
"Will you be my prince, Ace? I want to be your princess," I'd asked my brother's best friend when he gave me a Cinderella dress on my ninth birthday.
He laughed at my silly question, almost breaking my heart. But then when he saw my crestfallen face, he crouched down before me, looking into my turquoise eyes with his stormy grey. "You're my princess."
"Really?" I brightened up like a Christmas tree. "That means you will marry me?"
He bit his lip, his eyes lit up with amusement. "I'm sorry, Rosebud! But I can't."
"Why not?" I pouted.
"Because it's not the right time. You're still so young."
"Then when will be the right time?" I gazed up at him with so much hope.
"When you turn into a blooming rose from a rose bud."
I had waited till that day to bloom into a rose. I didn't know what that meant at that moment. But to remember and understand, I had written those words into my personal diary.
And Casie said at this age we were big enough to have a lover. Well she already had one at the age of fourteen, and is on her fourth at fifteen now.
I knew whatever Ace had said that day was because he didn't want to break a nine year old's naive heart. But I didn't care. I think I was ready to confess my feelings to him today. For real this time.
"Em, you're looking stunning! Though I preferred your long wavy hair. But it's alright, this also suits you," commented Beth.
I'd cut my waist length hair to my shoulder and tamed my wild waves straight. Just like Tess, my sister. She and my brother, Tobias, were twins. So obviously, Ace was her best friend too. And I'd once heard him say that he liked Tess's hair. So I turned my hair just like her. Though hers were blonde where mine was chestnut.
"Short hair is in fashion now. And Ace likes them short," I replied, checking my manicured nails. Just like Tess'.
Just like Ace preferred. All of his girlfriends were just like my sister. Beautiful and classy. Yes, I was jealous of them. But then they all were temporary. Once we'd be together, then there wouldn't be anyone else in his life other than me.
I blushed at the thought.
So I decided to be like them taking inspiration from my sister. Maybe he'd notice me then?
And today's whole makeover was the proof. Dressed like Tess, styled like Tess. I even sneaked her favorite perfume from her room.
"Isn't this dress too short, Casie?" Though I wanted to wear something like Tess, I was uncomfortable in them. Well she looked good in those tight little dresses. She had a good amount on both front and behind. Where I was flat in both ways. Well, a fifteen year old couldn't have any more.
"Is not! You're wearing that and that's final! Don't you want to make Ace notice you?" She raised her brow.
"Fine!" I said, taking a deep breath. Come on, Em! You can do this!
"Alright, let's go now! Otherwise we will miss your brother and sister's grand entry," she chirped, sauntering outside.
Today was my older siblings' nineteenth birthday. And every occasion at Hutton family was known to be grand. So no one wanted to miss this special event. Almost half of the renowned families were invited today.
When we all reached the hall, I kept fidgeting in my place. My hands were clammy and my chest thudded. I was nervous for tonight's meeting with Ace. And my too short dress made me more uncomfortable.
I spotted my dad and mom in the crowd. They stood close to each other, as always. They'd to be always by the hips. Even after twenty years of marriage, they were so madly in love with each other.
And that made me hope. If I and Ace would be like that someday…
"Emmy!" Mom's voice broke my daydream.
I smiled and padded towards them.
"Oh my! Look at you! My little baby looks so beautiful today!" she gushed, her smile blinding.
"You think?" I blushed.
"Of course, baby! You should do it more!"
Dad stayed quiet. He didn't seem to be pleased with me dressing up like that. Opposite of my nature.
"You didn't like the gown I brought for you, princess?" he asked.
I did. Very much. But Ace wouldn't like that.
"Of course I did, Dad! But… I couldn't find matching jewelry with it," I lied.
He nodded his head.
Mom had a knowing look on. She knew, everyone knew of my crush on Achilles Valencian. But they didn't know that it was more than just a mere crush.
He became my dream prince from the day he stepped into our house with Tobis when I was just seven. I still remembered that day clearly in my vague memories. But the day he saved me from some bullies in my school, he became my hero. And with time, he became my heart.
I stopped the urge to cover my flushed cheeks. Where was he?
I looked around. He should've been here by now. Last month when he played chess with me, he'd promised me he'd be here tonight. And he never broke his promises to me.
He used to come here everyday. But after the tragedy his family faced a year ago, his visit in our home had lessened. He changed. Carefree playful Ace turned into a lost and always angry Ace. But he was always soft with me though. He'd come and see us once a month. And of course, to play chess with me.
The crowd cheered as Tess and Tobias climbed down the stairs in a dramatic way with the spotlight on them. In a pink mid-thigh fairy dress, Tess looked like a real fairy, while Tobias looked good in his black tux. They smiled down at the cameras and everyone as their group of friends clapped and whistled wildly.
But there wasn't still any sign of Ace.
Excusing myself, I aimlessly wandered around the people.
Where are you?
Colliding into a hard chest, I stumbled back. A pair of arms circled around my waist.