Chapter Forty-Three

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We stay like this, enjoying how close we are, five minutes in comfortable silence until Blue looks up at me and asks, "Can I have more pasta?"

"You have the appetite of at least three men," I joke and climb off his lap and walk into the kitchen.

"I can't help your cooking is delicious." He smiles.

I scrape the rest of the pasta from the pot with a smile of my own. I'm in mild shock Blue agreed to go to the baseball game with his father and brother. Giving the last time I saw him after leaving him with his family, his brother's blood on his busted knuckles, I thought for sure we'd never see them again, let alone go to a sports game with them. I'm not going since I'll be with Delia and Catherine going bridesmaids dress shopping, which makes me uneasy. I know I promised to accept if the bonding experience ended in violence, but I pray they can all get along.

When I walk back into the dining room, Blue is texting on his phone. "Change of plans for tonight. Paula booked us a gig for a new nightclub downtown."

"Can I come this time?" I ask and put the plate in front of him.

"Yeah... this one should be more exciting than the one earlier today. At that one you could wear your normal cutesy stuff, but tonight... maybe try something different," he suggests and takes a huge bite of food.

I take a bite and scrunch my nose. "I'll stick to my normal outfits." I've seen what women wear to go nightclubbing and trying to picture myself in a tight and short dress makes me uncomfortable.

"Okay." He doesn't push the subject any further, and we finish eating in a semi-comfortable silence.

I begin to get dressed almost two hours before the gig, my hair already straightened and pulled back in a ponytail with a simple white ribbon to match my white knee-length dress, when Blue's words from earlier come into mind. Try something different, less cutesy... I'm always dressing proper and rarely go out of my comfort zone. Normally, I wouldn't care what others think, but thinking about what Blue said gets me to thinking; is he sick and tired of how I look? I try not to delve into the dark parts of my brain, but I can't help myself think about the gorgeous girls he slept around with. They're the kind of girls who dressed confidently and unafraid of showing off their assets. I like to say I've become more confident because of Blue, but maybe I'm deluding myself. I should actually show how more self-assured I've become.

I wipe off the light makeup I'd done and curl my hair into thick waves that fall down my back. But it still looks too put together, like I spent too much time to perfect it. I run my fingers through my hair and flip my hair once. Dizzy and whiplashed, I look into the mirror. I'm taken aback by the mess I've made, but it looks good for where we're going tonight. I pat down my hair before grabbing a black eyeliner and drawing a straight line on the top and bottom. Thick and unapologetic. Before I can think it through, I create a smoky effect of eyeshadow. After adding mascara, I blush my cheeks pink and swipe on red lipstick.

"Whoa..." I murmur, staring at the girl in the mirror. She looks mature, confident, and wild. One look at her and I know I've overdone it, but the gig is in half an hour. I have to roll with this bout of craziness and keep going.

I stare at the mirror for a good five minutes, wondering who the hell is staring back, before sprinting in the room to finish getting dressed. I wonder what Blue's reaction will be when he sees the final product. He's the one who suggested I wear something different... but maybe this is more than what he meant. I push the nerving thought to the back of my head and head to the closet. Naturally, my eyes go to the pastel dresses and blouse, but I'm not going to be cutesy tonight. Tonight, I'm going to be wild, carefree Lily. I take a deep breath and snatch the red dress I wore in California. He loved this dress on me, and I can't lie and say I didn't like how he looked at me when I was wearing it. I carefully pull the dress over my head, zip it up, and strap on a pair of black high heels. Instinctively, I contemplate wearing a cardigan over the dress, but before I can decide on it, the door opens and Blue walks in.

"Are you ready to...?" He stops talking when he sees me.

"Do you like it?" I ask in a small voice.

His eyes run down my legs. "I fucking love it."

I smile. "You don't think I look strange with the heavy makeup and my... hair." I run a hand through my messy mane and rake my fingers through the loopy curls.

"You do not look strange. You look... very... um... you look very... hot. You're always beautiful, but right now... it's just... wow," he splutters.

His inability to form a coherent sentence makes it hard not to laugh out loud. He's rarely speechless, but it gives me an odd boost of confidence.

"Are we going to leave, or are you going to stare at me for the rest of the night?" I tease.

"I'd rather rip the dress off your body... but Paula promised a good pay for tonight," he says with a resentful sigh and visibly contemplates taking me to bed over the pay. "But we should go now, before I take you right here and now."

"Aren't you going to change?" I manage to ask without buckling under my weak knees.

"Nah, I'm good." He's wearing a black T-shirt and ripped black jeans and black combat boots. He looks attractive, like always. "Let's go, beautiful." He holds out his hand and my insides melt. I roll my eyes at his lack of effort to look this good, take his hand and let him lead us out of the apartment.

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