22. Bailey

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The week flies by, and before I know it, I'm standing in front of the floor length mirror in my bedroom, dress on, makeup done, hair styled.

I had spent all night last night in the school gym, decorating with Ginny and anyone else I could convince to help. Ian and Amanda even showed up for an hour or so, hanging Christmas lights.

I love my dress so much, I can't stop running my hands over it. It's baby blue and shows just the right amount of midriff without being gaudy. The top is lace with off-the-shoulder cuffs, and the bottom is chiffon and flows seamlessly to the floor. When I tried it on, I felt just like Juliet—without the poison.

I decided to go simple with my hair, just some light curls and a few strands tucked back with bobby-pins to stay out of my face. My mom is standing behind me in the mirror with tears in her eyes.

"Geez, Mom, it's not my wedding day," I say, teasing her.

She nods, "I know, sweetie. You just look so beautiful...really."

"Thank you, Mom." I give her an appreciative smile.

She takes a deep breath, trying to compose herself. "Now remember, your father and I will be there for the coronation."

Parents are allowed into the prom if their kid is nominated for King or Queen, to be able to take pictures and congratulate them. Although some students complain, I actually think it's nice. At a big moment like that, you should have your family there.

"I remember, Mom, even though there's no way I'm going to wi—"

I'm cut off by Ian's voice from downstairs. "Bailey, hurry the hell up! We're all waiting!"

"Language!" My mom yells back.

I take a deep breath and one more look in the mirror before heading down the hall. At the top of the stairs, I look down to see Ian, his girlfriend Amanda, my date Derek, Mandy and Nick all standing in the foyer.

"Sorry. I didn't know everyone was here," I say and begin descending the stairs.

Everyone looks up at the same time, and I'm having an "only happens in the movies" moment. All I need is a romantic song and slow motion to complete the scene as they all stare at me taking every step.

Maybe I should be looking at my date, but my eyes are automatically drawn to Nick. He's staring at me with his mouth hanging open. When he catches me looking at him, he closes it and attempts his cocky, half-grin that I've seen so many times over the years.

Once I reach the bottom, Mandy is the first to speak. "Bailey, you look fucking hot."

I laugh as Derek wraps his arm around my shoulders playfully. Derek and I used to be very good friends, and even kissed once in eighth grade, but a couple years ago, we sort went separate ways. I dove head first into cheerleading while he starting hanging out more and more with the stoners. I certainly partake in the occasional toke at parties, but I'm not going to revolve my life around it.

I've never had any bad feelings towards him, though, and we recently found out that we're the only ones in our class going to SIU, so we kind of reconnected. It will be nice to have one familiar face around campus. I could never see him as anything other than a friend, and he's never given me a reason to think he feels any differently.

After we take a million pictures in my front yard, the six of us pile into the limo we rented to take us to the dance. Per usual, Nick sits as far away from me as possible.

Derek has a fake ID and snuck some beer into the back. Everyone has one on the way to the dance besides me. I'm too nervous. I know it's silly, but I'm afraid no one will like the decorations. All I could afford with my almost nonexistent prom budget was Christmas lights and tulle. I'm actually hoping Ginny is right. No will even pay attention to them. Derek more than makes up for my lack of drinking, though, by having four during the thirty minute drive.

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