chapter-3-prologue


The next day, all excitement from the day before was totally eclipsed by worry over whether Patrick had shared her picture. As much as she wanted to trust him, she found it impossible. And while perhaps it was just her paranoia, it also didn’t help that the male stares upon her body felt especially intense today.

At the end of first period, Kali decided to breach the subject with him again. Chasing him down after class, she tugged his sleeve lightly in the hallway. “Patrick, may I talk to you for a minute? About yesterday?”

“Oh, that?” he laughed. “No need to thank me. Let’s do it again sometime,” he winked.

“Not that, the picture you took of me. I want you to delete it. Having it on your phone makes me nervous.”

“What’s with you?” his voice rose in annoyance. “It’s not like I’m going to do anything with it. Don’t you trust me?”

Just then, a sudden impact to her side caused Kali to stumble. Startled, she turned just in time to see one of Patrick’s teammates give him a high-five.

“Damn, man, that is one fine wide load.”

As Patrick’s teammate disappeared into the crowd of bustling students, Kali was seized with horror. Patrick had shown him the picture. And probably not just him. For all she knew, her ass had been Instagramed to the entire student body. Her worst fears realized, Kali struggled to keep calm. A painful knot was beginning to form in her throat and her limbs shook with anger. He had lied to her, betrayed her after the moment they had shared.

“You know what Patrick?” she hissed. “I don’t think I do.”

Turning away, Kali stormed off before he could also have the satisfaction of her tears.

For the next two periods, Kali sobbed quietly in the girl’s bathroom until her stomach reminded her it was time for lunch. Tentatively exiting her stall, she checked her face in the mirror to assess the damage. It wasn’t pretty. Blotchy and red, the reflection looking back at her resembled chewed up cherry-flavored Laffy Taffy more than a face. She couldn’t possibly leave the bathroom looking like this.

But she had to.

Lunch was the only opportunity she would have to speak to the one person who could help her, Patrick’s ex-girlfriend, Vikki. Together with her friend Jessica, the two ladies ruled the school with their perfect bodies and popularity. Whenever they passed by, students practically bowed their heads and averted their eyes in awe. Just the thought of speaking to them made her gulp.

The odds that Vikki would agree to help her or offer her advice were slim; she had never deemed Kali worthy to speak to before. However, if her relationship with Patrick had ended on bad terms, which Kali suspected it had, perhaps Vikki could overcome her aversion and work together against a common enemy.

After a few minutes of searching, she found them in the outside courtyard in an animated discussion. Vikki appeared angry, gesticulating her hands violently while Jessica laughed. Not the best time to butt in. But hey, she had thrown caution into the wind with Patrick. Why stop now?

“Can you believe the nerve of that man?” Vikki spat. “Do I look like someone who-”

“Excuse me,” Kali said softly, clearing her throat.

Both pairs of eyes, one enraged and one amused, landed upon her. The power of their combined stares caused Kali to falter.

“I-I’m sorry to interrupt,” Kali stuttered, twirling her hair nervously, “but I was wondering if you could help me with something.”

Rather than respond, the two squinted at her with the focused silence of entomologists identifying a new species of beetle. As their eyes passed from her face down her body, they widened in disgust.

“Those horrible shoes . . .” Vikki gasped in wonder.

“Not to mention that itty-bitty bra,” Jessica laughed. “Seriously, how are you not choking to death in that thing . . . um . . . what is your name?”

“Kali.”

Ka-li,” Vikki practiced, her mouth forming into a grimace. “Babe, from the looks of it, you are beyond our help.”

“It’s about your ex-boyfriend, Patrick,” Kali blushed angrily. It wasn’t like she knew she was going to meet them today. Had she known, she would have dressed for the occasion. “He took a picture of me after we, um, never mind. It’s just, now he’s showing it to his friends without my permission, and I don’t know what to-”

“Patrick?” Vikki silenced her with her palm. “That asshole? Say no more.”

“You’ve wanted to get back at him for quite a while,” Jessica smiled. “It sounds like this is a good chance. You’re not the only woman he’s disrespected, Kali. It’s time someone taught him a lesson. So sure, we’ll help fix this.”

“But first,” Vikki interjected, “we need to fix you. Like, seriously, did you get dressed in the dark this morning? Your hair, makeup, clothes, everything is a complete disaster. It’s going to take hours, a weekend at least.”

“Um, why is that necessary?”

“Because we can’t be seen with you the way you are now. What would people say? I refuse to endorse poor fashion choices with my presence. You understand, don’t you?”

“I suppose-”

“Great!” Jessica slapped her on the back. “Then we’ll swing by your house this weekend and see what we have to work with.”

“Okay, let me give you my-”

“Sorry. We’ve got to head out now,” Vikki interrupted. “We’ll see you Saturday, Kelly.”

True to their word, Vikki and Jessica did not speak to Kali the remainder of the week. Though they had promised to visit her home Saturday, Kali knew better than to actually believe them. Especially since the two girls hadn’t even asked her for her address. By Friday, she was simply resigned to being the laughing stock of Patrick’s friends. One day it would all die down, and her life could return to normal.

However, a booming ring of her home’s doorbell nine o’clock sharp Saturday morning provided a rude awakening. Rubbing her eyes, she swore she could hear two familiar voices echo from downstairs.

“Hello Miss Andropolis! I’m Jessica. It’s nice to meet you.”

“And I’m Vikki. We’re here to see Kali! She told you we were coming, right?”

Wrong.

Panicked, Kali leapt from bed, threw a hoodie over her braless chest, and raced out her room.

“Morning Mom! Sorry I forgot to mention I was having guests over today! They’re, um, friends from school.”

Bewildered, Kali’s mother cast her a questioning glance. The fashionable girls on her doorstep were certainly not Kali’s usual friends.

“Well alright then. Have fun girls.”

“I can guarantee you, this will not be fun,” Vikki muttered once Kali’s mother was out of earshot. “Please tell me that isn’t what you were going to wear today.”

“Oh no! These are my pajamas.”

Were your pajamas,” she corrected. “We’ll fix that. Now, take us to your room. March.”

Obediently, Kali led the girls upstairs to her room with a scowl. She resented being ordered around her very home like a prisoner, especially when she should be peacefully sleeping in bed.

Thankful that she had cleaned a few nights before, Kali allowed Vikki and Jessica inside. To her surprise, the two girls immediately made way to her closet and, after a collective gasp of horror, proceeded to toss her belongings on the tidy floor.

Atrocious,” Vikki hissed. “All of it.”

“T-shirts . . . khaki shorts . . . when was the last time you went shopping? Middle school?” Jessica laughed. “That would explain your sizing issue! These bras are 32B. You’ve got to be a 34D at least. No wonder you can barely squeeze into them.”

“Not any longer.” Vikki brushed her hands dramatically. “Everything must go. I don’t even need to see the rest of it. Jess, go ask Miss Andropolis for a dozen trash bags. We’ll toss them on our way to the mall.”

“Wait! You can’t just throw my things away!”

“Oh yes we can. Not even charity would take this garbage. Now, you, throw on . . .” Vikki scanned the floor for the least offensive garment, “oh to hell with it, it’s all equally hideous. Just take this shirt and these shorts. We’ll buy you the first outfit we see that the mall that doesn’t make my eyes bleed. Then you can change.”

“Yes, your highness,” Kali growled through clenched teeth. Already she was regretting this plan. Her invitation to allow Vikki to help had not called for complete wardrobe upheaval.

As Kali reached for one of the many discarded bras on the floor, Vikki intercepted here with a fierce stomp.

“No bra.”

Kali blanched. “What? You cannot be serious.”

“Dead serious. None of them fit you anyway. Wear a jacket if you must, but I won’t have you walking around looking like trailer trash.”

Retreating to the bathroomto change, Kali slammed the door with a mutter. “Who needs a bra for support with friends like these?

At the mall, Vikki and Jessica marched Kali into the very first store by the entrance. After a three-second scan of the perimeter, Vikki spun to issue orders.

“Jess, grab a bra. You,” she pointed to Kali. “Go to that fitting room and try on . . .” she paused a moment to browse through the rack, “this top and this skirt.”

While cute, the asymmetrical pink top and black skirt were not what Kali considered proper school attire. Not wanting to start an argument, and knowing she couldn’t win one anyway, Kali disappeared into the fitting room. By the time she emerged, both Vikki and Jessica’s arms were already loaded with garments.

“Oh hey! It fits!”

“I suppose,” Kali said turning in the mirror. “Although I’m not sure if this style is for me.”

“It doesn’t matter what you think,” Vikki rolled her eyes. “Just go buy it, cut the tags off, and put it back on. You can toss your old clothes in this trash can.”

“But first, a commemorative selfie to celebrate the new you, Kali!” Smiling, Jess pulled Kali under her shoulder and raised her phone. “Smile!

After three more trips to the fitting room, twelve more selfies, and one more trip to the checkout counter, Vikki and Jess led Kali to stop two, the very lingerie store she had abandoned a week before.

“But I just bought a bra at the last store,” she protested. “It fits fine.”

“You can’t get by with just a t-shirt bra, babe. You are going to need way more than that to lift these girls!” Before Kali had time to react, Vikki had cupped her breasts and propped them up with her hands. “Jess, fetch me every push-up bra in this store. We need reinforcements!”

Too stunned to speak, Kali gaped, mouth open in wonder at Vikki’s utter lack of personal space, while Jessica snapped another photo.

“Yes, captain!” Jessica managed to wheeze in her fit of riotous laughter. “Don’t mind Vikki, Kali. She likes to take a hands-on approach!”

By afternoon, Kali was ready to collapse with exhaustion. She had purchased more clothes and spent more of her father’s money than she could count. Yet despite it all, she was surprised to find herself having more fun than ever before in recent memory. The more she tried on, the more she appeared to earn Vikki and Jessica’s approval. Between try-ons, Kali and Jessica laughed until their sides hurt taking sexy selfies. Even Vikki didn’t seem as bossy as Kali embraced the spirit of shopping herself and actively started asking Vikki for her approval.

Best of all, she was beginning to feel pretty. Each time she spun in the mirror with a new exciting ensemble, she could barely believe the transformation before her eyes. “What comes next?” Kali asked excitedly, never wanting the day to end.

“Shoes,” her companions shouted in unison.

“You’re going to need a pair for every new outfit.”

“And some stylish sneakers to boot,” Jessica giggled.

Kali snorted. “Jess, did anyone ever tell you you’re kind of a dork?”

“Whoa, watch it now Vikki! This kitten has claws!”

“Yes, but does she have balance? Here,” Vikki tossed her a box of hot pink, suede stilettos. “Try these on for size.”

Sitting, Kali nervously removed the heels from the box. She had never worn heels before, let alone ones this high. The last thing she needed was to fall and break her neck in front of her new friends. Gripping the stool for balance, Kali braced herself to stand.

So far so good.

Feeling ready to take her next step, Kali outstretched her leg hesitantly, only to feel it shake like the limb of a baby giraffe.

“Clearly, someone’s not ready for the big leagues quite yet,” Jessica offered her arm for balance. “Once we finish up here, let’s go back to my house for dinner and plotting. My mom should be home and can teach you everything you need to know about the cat walk.”

“Was your mom a model?” Kali asked, clinging to Jessica’s arm for dear life.

“A stripper, actually. She’s going to love you!”

At Jessica’s house, Kali was relieved to find that she wasn’t wrong. As the girls entered the driveway of the beautiful villa, a woman that looked remarkably like Jessica beamed at them from the front door.

“Welcome home Jessy! And hi Vikki,” she cooed, giving the brunette a kiss on the cheek. “Now who is this pretty little lady?”

“Our new friend, Kali,” Jess said, punching her shoulder lightly. “I brought her here because she needs your help with her new big-girl shoes.”

“Sure! I’d love to help, sugar,” she said, planting a similar kiss on Kali’s face. “You’re in the right hands here.”

“Thank you very much!” Kali grinned. Despite her earlier misgivings, she had to agree with Jessica’s mother. With these girls, she was in the right hands.

 

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