Chapter Seventeen: Secret Love Song

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Camila stared into the mirror, remembering back to when she was first thrown into beauty pageants. As much as she liked to pretend she had always hated them, she did love them at first. They gave Camila a chance to spend some time with her mother, and to wear pretty dresses and put a bunch of makeup. She loved looking and feeling like a princess. When she had first joined, she was young and didn't really know much about what happened at the pageants. Sinuhe just said to look and act cute, and to make sure to hit the right notes while singing 'Over the Rainbow'. After that, Camila had won almost every single beauty pageant she had entered. And, after that, Camila slowly but surely started to realize how shitty the whole thing was. 

She didn't like how a bunch of women with narcissistic personalities competed against each other to achieve some sort of status that only mattered amongst them. When they went out into the real world, not anyone was actually going to care that they were the SweetPea Queen of 2003, 2004, and 2005, winning them some sort of streak. Not unless they were in some kind of other competition with other girls in a stupid fashion magazine or something. None of it mattered, not to Camila, not to anyone important in her life. 

Camila sighed, shutting her eyes and sitting back in her vanity chair, trying to forget about everything. She wanted to have a good night. She had her prom dress on, Dinah had just done her hair, and Normani had made her look better than ever with her makeup skills. Yet, Camila didn't really feel good in her skin. She felt used and abused in her current being, and didn't think anything was really going to fix that. Not even Lauren, whom she just wanted to see and not see all at the same time. Camila was, silently, hoping that they would reconnect again, even though Normani and Dinah both snapped at her anytime she mentioned the girl. There was something about Lauren that Camila would always love, and she was sure that was the girl's soul. 

Camila jumped when she felt someone touch her shoulder gently. She opened her eyes, meeting Normani's in the mirror. The softness of dark brown made Camila instantly feel a bit better. A small smile appeared on her face. No matter what situation Camila was in, Normani always seemed to make things better. Even when they were younger and Camila would scrape her knees against the cement, Normani would just smile at her and give her a reassuring hug and then she was back in the game. 

"Hey, Mani," Camila whispered, smiling a bit wider as she twisted around in her chair to face the girl. "You look absolutely gorgeous." 

Normani blushed, looking down at her dress. She was wearing a long, black, sequined dress with a slit up the side. It accentuated her long legs and dark skin and curves, hugging her in all of the right places. Her hair was straightened and pulled back into a sleek bun with pieces hanging off in the front, framing her face perfectly. And her makeup made her look like a queen, with red lipstick and a dark smoky eye with long, beautiful fake lashes. Camila couldn't help but to feel rather jealous. 

"Thanks, Mila," Normani replied. She made a point of checking Camila out, then winked. "You look rather smoking yourself." 

Camila giggled, rolling her eyes. She definitely didn't feel that smoking at the moment. She felt more like she was about ready to curl up in a ball and die than slay some people at prom. But, she supposed outside appearance was a lot more telling than her feelings. 

"Why, thank you, Normani," Camila said, standing up to give the girl a small twirl. The white tutu that hugged her waist flared out, while the bodice hugged her everywhere else, accentuated by glitter and sparkles. Camila really did feel pretty in the piece, but it just didn't feel right. She felt more like she should be in booty shorts and a sports bra, lounging around her house, watching some chick-flicks. Camila sighed again, looking up at her friend with a tight smile. "I don't really feel good about this." 

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