PART TWO - Chapter 38

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EMMA

A few weeks later, I stood in front of the mirror in our apartment, feeling transformed.

"Thank you guys so much for rescuing me," I said to Iris and Kalisha. "Maybe someday I'll have more fashion sense, but in the meantime, I refuse to embarrass myself at another law school cocktail party."

Kalisha waved a hand in the air. "Stop it. You have plenty of fashion sense. You just need a little help putting the New York spin on it."

"That's for sure," I said, gazing gratefully into the mirror at the maroon sheath dress with lace sleeves she'd loaned me. "You, on the other hand, have the spin down. This dress is amazing."

"It's amazing on you," Iris said, moving to stand behind me.

"Come out here and let me do your makeup." Kalisha called as she walked into the living room. "The light's much better in here."

I sat down on the love seat, while Kalisha positioned a kitchen chair right in front of me and spread her makeup out on the coffee table.

My eyes widened at the plethora of compacts, brushes, and bottles. "You're not going to use all of that on me, are you?"

She grinned. "You'll be beautiful, I promise."

While she worked, Iris started twisting and pinning up my hair. I took tiny breaths and tried not to move, which wasn't easy.

"Wow, this is quite the production," Brett said as he walked through the front door without so much as a knock.

I gaped at him, which made my eyes move and made Kalisha poke me. "Sorry," I told her. "I guess Zach gave you a key, huh?" I said to Brett.

"Well, yeah. I mean, I have been your neighbor for two whole weeks now. But don't worry, I won't get in your way. I just came for a beer." He rounded the corner and went into the kitchen.

"Don't you have beer in your apartment?" I called.

"I don't need it. You guys keep a very well-stocked fridge."

I rolled my eyes. "We need to have a serious talk about boundaries, Brett."

"I'm sayin'," Iris muttered from behind me.

Brett strolled back into the living room, beer in hand. "At least I haven't walked in on you and Zach getting busy," he said with a chuckle.

I patted the cushion beside me in search of a pillow. When I found it, I held up a finger, signaling the girls to pause for a second. "Again, boundaries," I yelled, and threw the pillow at his head.

It hit his elbow, which made him grin, and he waved and headed out the door. "Later, ladies."

When he was gone, Iris exhaled like she'd been holding her breath. "Not even a real hello. I do not get that guy," she said.

"Are you two still seeing each other?" Kalisha asked, reaching for a tube of mascara.

"Good question. I honestly don't know. Sometimes it seems like he's really into me, and other times it's clearly just a friends with benefits situation."

I tried not to feel guilty for my role in matching them up. I told myself that they'd already found each other on Tinder before I'd even had the idea. "I guess I wouldn't get too attached," I told Iris carefully, not wanting to overstep my bounds. "In my experience, Brett's not really into commitment. He's a really great guy, but he's all over the place with everything, not just women."

***

ZACH

It felt good to walk into the party with Emma on my arm. She'd really stepped it up this time, wearing a next-level sexy dress and shoes that made me want to watch her walk around all night. No matter how good she looked, though, the pressure of the night was still eating at me. These parties weren't really parties; they were networking events, and I needed to make the most of this one.

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