Chapter 35 The angel

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Flora

Saturday afternoon I took Linda shopping as planned, with the prospect of finding the best little silver dress for her. I had made her stop at my house first, where I did her makeup. I painted her eyelids with shimmers and added some rhinestones around her eyes. Linda was a bit skeptical of course, but freshman girls were easy to fool.

"We are celebrating your birthday, aren't we? It's the perfect time to glam up." I had also brought the Swarovski tiara my parents had given me when I celebrated my fifteenth birthday and hid it in my bag. I would put it on her after we arrived at the party.

Once at the department store, I found several pretty little chiffon dresses, but those were very girlish. Linda would want to look grown-up, I decided. It would be her statement. That she wasn't a little girl anymore and she was ready for new experiences.

I settled finally on a sultry dress with a generous sampling of silver sequins. The dazzling sparkle made it look party-ready, and I urged Linda to try it on. I was afraid silver sequins had the potential to make a person look like a has-been diva on Sunset Boulevard, or like a magician in a Broadway musical, but Linda was young, innocent and sweet, and she wore it like a dream.

"Lindy, you look fabulous," I said, pretending to wipe away a tear. "This must be how your dad will feel like when he gives you away at your wedding."

She giggled. "I like it, but I'm a bit self-conscious."

"No birthday girl is supposed to feel self-conscious," I advised as I paid for the dress. "You should feel as fabulous as you look. Now let's find the right pair of shoes."

I convinced her to keep shopping in her party outfits, and then we found an outdoor café to have tea and snacks. We both put on oversized shades and I suggested we pretend we were celebrities.

As soon as someone came our direction, I started my act.

"Oh no, you recognized us. We really just want a quiet afternoon to ourselves. How about I just sign your t-shirt?"

It worked like a charm. People were so easy to maneuver. We managed to give out some autographs and even got our photos taken a few times. I signed my name Nina and when one girl asked me if I was Nina Dobrev, I didn't bother correcting her.

"That's such a riot!!" Linda said in between breathless laughter as we headed back, her face flushed and her eyes darting in excitement. "Shopping with you is the ultimate dream, Flora."

She was so easy to please I wondered why we went to so much trouble to plan a surprise party. "I had a lot of fun too," I said. I liked the look on her face. I liked that I was capable of making someone happy, and in return I felt immensely rewarded.

"This is so much better than cooking a birthday meal with you-know-who," Linda said. "I had the best birthday of my life!"

"Lindy, I'm glad to hear that." Just you wait.

Once in my car I texted Sean and told him the eagle would land in twenty minutes. When we arrived at the house there was no sign of anything going on and for a second I almost thought the whole thing was cancelled. But when we threw open the door, the lights came on and music started blazing, and numerous smiling faces swarmed before me as people yelled out happy birthday.

The room looked like an arctic dream, with magical lights and shapes of snowflakes dotted over the ceiling. My head swirled a little, like I was on a merry-go-around ride, and all I saw was glamour and sparkle.

Linda turned to me and her tears fell instantly. I felt a little like crying myself, like I had just given birth to a small baby and it's the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was completely worth it, every minute, every cent. This moment would be frozen in time, tucked away safely in my memory bank.

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