44. Christmas party

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[RECAP: Marcy has been visiting her friend Addy in New York. But she can't help feeling that Addy is hiding something from her.]

Addy insisted on going shopping and both of them getting new dresses for the Christmas party.

Marcy protested that she really couldn't afford it, but Addy waved a credit card at her.

"Mom got a huge bonus and it's our Christmas present. One of the advantages of this job move was a tonne more money, so let's go for it."

Marcy felt awkward letting Addy's mom buy her clothes, but Addy's mom assured her it was okay. "It will be much more fun for Addy if you're both shopping for new outfits. Just enjoy yourselves!"

"You really do have the coolest mom ever," Marcy said as they hit Fifth Avenue once again.

Marcy found the perfect dress in one of the first boutiques they visited. It was snow white and sleeveless, with a skater skirt and a ruched, banded waist. There were scattering of crystals in a snowflake pattern over the bodice. It was also an exact fit.

"You have to get that, it's perfect," Addy told her. "You look like a Christmas angel."

But Marcy felt she couldn't buy the first dress she saw, not straight away. So she then spent the rest of the day looking at other clothes, agonising over whether to get it or not, and fearing that someone else may have already bought it.

Addy could read her mind. "Just go back and buy it. You haven't found anything else close to that."

At the back of Marcy's thoughts, which Addy didn't manage to mind read, was the feeling that the dress might be kind of wasted if Gray wasn't there to see it. She remembered his reaction to her outfit at the closing night party, and felt warm all over. And sad, thinking of how far away he was, and that they couldn't be together. For ages, if ever.

Addy herself was trying to decide between three different dresses. Being blonde, she could wear Christmas holly red, which Marcy was encouraging her towards. "The black is elegant, but you have so much black in your wardrobe. It won't stand out. And the green is nice, but it's a bit Christmas-only, isn't it? The red you could wear for New Year's and Valentines. Or any time, really."

So they went for the white and the red.

"You absolutely have to have new underwear. You can't wear a dress with old stuff. Let's go to Victoria's Secret."

Marcy was certainly going through her holiday money quickly. Fortunately there was a sale on. And Addy was right, if you were going to wear a brand new dress, it felt nice to have brand new lingerie to match.

"Now the hair salon," Addy announced.

"Are you serious? It's not like we're going to prom," Marcy said.

"Trust me, New York is dressy."

Marcy went with it. After all, it was always nice to get pampered. She just hoped the make up artist was actually an artist, and not the type to turn her into a painted clown.

Luckily the stylist was very competent. She did something amazing with Marcy's hair: twisting it up on her head and allowing a few auburn tendrils to cascade down.

"Your neck looks super long and swan-like with that style," Addy said. "Seriously you look like a model, except you're not tall enough."

Trust Addy to bring her back down to earth. "Thanks."

"You know what I mean," Addy said. "You have to be six foot or whatever."

Addy looked wonderful too; Marcy could easily imagine her starring in some TV show. Not that Addy had any desire to go into showbusiness, but in her new dress with her hair styled into glossy waves, she looked the part.

For her own part Marcy felt kind of like she was all dressed up with nowhere to go. She felt a little guilty about thinking this, as Addy was so excited about the evening.

Of course they did have somewhere to go, but since she wasn't interested in attracting attention to herself, she wondered whether all this effort was worth it. It would have been so much more cool if it was Addy and her getting ready for the Springdale prom, as they had always dreamed of, and then getting picked up by whichever hot guys they were dating.

Marcy could only imagine showing up on the arm of a teacher. The scandal it would have caused was almost funny. She could just imagine the principal's eyes bulging out of his head with shock and outrage.

* * *

Addy had been right about the party. It was held in a penthouse in Manhattan and was full of super glamorous people. Even if they were only high school age - though at least half looked as though they were college students - they clearly had generous allowances.

Addy introduced her to Taleisha, whose party it was. She was in Addy's high school class and looked like a supermodel.

"So glad to meet you, Addy has told us so much about you. I love your dress!" she greeted Marcy.

"Yours too, thank you for inviting us." Marcy saw Addy and Taleisha exchange a glance but wasn't sure what it was about.

There was so many new names and faces but everyone was very friendly.

Compared to parties back home, it was pretty out there. There was catered food and a bartender, mixing cocktails all night. A slushie machine with bright red and green drinks. An actual live DJ. Even a bubble machine.

"Is this normal for parties here?" Marcy asked Addy.

"They're not all quite like this. Taleisha's parents are super rich, her father's some big shot on Wall Street. She's really nice though."

Several cute guys were giving Marcy the eye, but she wasn't in the mood for flirting.

"You should see the view from the roof," Addy said. "You can see the whole city."

They went up to the roof. It wasn't just the regular old roof that Marcy expected, there was a hot tub filled with people and a guy jumped in, fully clothed, as they passed by. There was an actual roof garden with colour-changing LED lights all around.

The view was spectacular. "Imagine living here!" Marcy said.

"You will, one day. Once you're a famous playwright and I'm doing whatever the hell I'm doing and living with you rent free, because I'm your best friend and when you find out your Christmas present, you're going to love me forever."

Addy had had a few drinks but not enough to be beaming at her quite like this, Marcy thought. What was she up to?

Just then she saw Addy grin in recognition at someone behind them.

"And here's your present now!" Addy said.

Marcy turned around.

It was Gray.

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