Golden Week – Chapter Two
by Dreams in Pink
|← Chapter One||Chapter Three →|
The rest of the school week flew by, and before Usagi realized, it was Saturday morning and her family was getting packed up and ready to go. Her parents were dropping Shingo off at camp before heading to the airport.
“Now the emergency numbers are all on the side of the fridge,” her mother started, still organizing her bags as Usagi sat on the edge of her bed watching.
“I know Mom.”
“And try to eat healthy while we’re gone, I’ve stocked the fridge full of fruits and veggies that you like,” the girl smiled inwardly, even when she wouldn’t be there, her mother was still trying to take care of her.
“I will,” she promised.
“If anything happens, you can call your father and I at the hotel. I left the number on the kitchen table,” Ikuko paused, making sure that her daughter was listening.
“Okay.” Usagi agreed, knowing that this vacation is just what her mother needed.
“Don’t forget to water the plants,” she added.
“I won’t.” The closer they got to leaving, the more apprehensive Usagi felt. Sure, she had stayed home for a night or so on her own, and even looked after Shingo for a long weekend or two. However, this time was different. This time it was just her.
Usagi helped her mother drag the fully packed suitcases down the stairs, where her dad was picking them up to load the car. Shingo sat on the step down to the foyer, tying his shoes.
“Have a good time at camp!” The big sister smiled, ruffling the boy’s auburn hair. Truth be told, she was pretty proud of her little brother. The soccer camp he was attending wasn’t just for anyone; only a few players from a handful of schools were asked to attend.
“Don’t invite any boys over!” Shingo shot back, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. Usagi rolled her eyes, preparing for what she knew was to come. With a complete shift in attitude, she punched her brother in the arm.
“Boys!?” her father shouted making a bee-line into the house from the driveway, “No boys in the house while we’re gone!” He yelled, waving a shaky finger.
“Yes Daddy,” Usagi replied sweetly, hugging him tightly to calm his nerves.
With the last of the luggage loaded, and her son and husband sitting impatiently in the car, Ikuko knew it was time to go. She turned to her daughter, who stood on the front stoop of the house, ready to wave them off.
“We’ve left you some money in the kitchen cupboard,” the mother whispered, Usagi’s ears perking up, “enjoy your vacation, too.” She winked.
“Thanks Mom,” Usagi said, enveloping her mother in a hug. “You too, you deserve it,” she smiled. The blonde watched as her family’s vehicle pulled out of the driveway, and took off down the road. When they were finally out of sight, she stood motionless outside, not quite sure what to do next.
It was eleven o’clock on a Saturday morning, and that only meant one thing – it was time for coffee. Motoki watched as the arcade doors peeled open, and like clockwork, Mamoru came striding through. Without a word the man behind the counter poured his friend a hot cup of caffeine.
“Morning,” Mamoru nodded, wasting no time in downing a few tasty mouthfuls.
“Good morning,” Motoki replied, chipper as always. “I see someone has a date tonight.”
“Don’t remind me,” Mamoru scowled, “how do you know anyways?” he wondered. He definitely had not broadcasted that piece of news.
“It’s all over her Facebook,” he explained, “don’t you ever go on?” Mamoru only shook his head and shrugged in reply. “Just text me and I’ll rescue you from Beryl’s evil grip,” Motoki joked, as Mamoru grabbed the discarded newspaper sitting on the stool next to him.
“You’re going?” he asked, knowing full well that the gala was invite only.
“Yeah, well kind of,” Motoki paused, turning around to start a fresh pot of coffee, “I’m helping Makoto.”
“You’re helping her?” Mamoru repeated.
“She landed the catering job for that night, and needed some help in the kitchen,” the blond explained, always ready to help a friend in need. The fact that he was getting paid for it had swayed his decision.
“Why didn’t she ask her friends?” Mamoru cringed at the thought of his best friend seeing him with Beryl on his arm. It was bad enough that he knew.
“I guess only Usagi and Minako weren’t already going to the gala, and well…” his voice trailed off; no further information was needed.
“Yeah, I get it. I’ve tried their so-called cookies,” Mamoru replied, taking a quick swig of coffee to wash away the bad taste that remerged from the memory. “So it’s really all over her Facebook?” He couldn’t let it go – how many of their mutual friends knew? And what exactly did she say?
“I’m afraid so,” Motoki answered, pulling his phone from the front of his apron. Mamoru watched with anxious anticipation as his friend tapped away at the screen, “See?” he handed him the device.
“Going to the gala tonight. Gotta look hot for my sexy man!” Mamoru read flatly. With a completely blank expression he stared up at the blond, who was trying his hardest to hold back his laughter.
“At least you’re sexy?” he offered, with a mocking grin. Mamoru’s frown buried itself deeper into his brow.
“It’s just one night,” Mamoru chanted, mostly for his benefit. Although Beryl had her own special charm, something about the woman simply irked him. She was often too much to deal with, and she was always trying to grab his attention. Everything from her shrill voice, to the way she dressed just grated on Mamoru’s last nerve. Unfortunately, he was a man of his word and the promise he had made to Beryl’s mother would remain intact. Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Mamoru downed the final sip of his coffee, nodded to Motoki, and headed out the door.
The early afternoon found Usagi and Minako quietly relaxing at the nearly empty house. Usagi was seated on the floor, with her back pressed against the mattress, as she delved into the world of her favourite manga. Minako was laying loftily on a pink duvet, her feet dangling off the edge of the bed as she leafed through a fashion magazine.
“Okay, Usa, I have the best idea ever,” Minako announced, tossing the magazine to floor, and turning towards her friend.
“I’m listening…” the pigtailed blonde replied curiously, putting down her book.
“Let’s crash that gala,” Minako suggested, her ocean eyes sparkling with mischief.
“What?” her companion looked back at her, surprised. She couldn’t be serious.
“Everyone we know is going to be there.”
“But we don’t have an invitation,” Usagi countered – there was no way they would be able to get in.
“We’ll just sneak in the back, no one will even know!” As far as Minako was concerned, it was definitely a fool proof plan.
Usagi hesitated, contemplating the idea. “What if they catch us?” She wondered, biting her lip.
“Then they’ll just ask us to leave, and we leave! No big deal!” The honey-blonde replied, with a nonchalant wave of her hand. “It’s not like we’re doing anything bad,” she continued, Usagi wrinkled her nose in contemplation. “Oh come on, think of how much fun it’ll be! We can go shopping, get new dresses, do each other’s hair and makeup….”
“Let’s do it!” Usagi agreed, won over by her twin’s enthusiasm for the plan and for the chance to get dressed up for the night. Besides, the other girls would be there, so why shouldn’t they attend, too?
Forty minutes and two buses later, the girls arrived at the mall. Sunlight trickled in through the skylights, making the marble floors sparkle. The two friends stopped to look at the map, taking a moment to determine their plan of action.
“Do you even know what we’re supposed to wear?” Usagi wondered, doubt starting to poke holes into their wonderful scheme. She wasn’t accustomed to going to fancy parties, what if they stuck out like sore thumbs?
“Don’t worry,” Minako replied, digging into her coral coloured purse to pull out her phone, “I took a photo of the invitation when Ami wasn’t looking!” Huddled around the screen, they read the invitation:
Juuban General Hospital
cordially invites you to our 10th annual gala
Saturday, April 26th at 7:00pm
Crystal Plaza, Grand Ballroom
Benefitting Juuban General Hospital
Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at 7pm
Silent auction and dancing at 8pm
“It sounds pretty fancy…” Usagi said.
“It’ll be fine! I promise!” Minako reassured her, “now let’s go find some dresses!” Linking her arm in her friend’s, she pulled her away from the directory and into the sea of stores.
Within the first few shops, Minako had found the perfect ensemble. She had chosen a short, amber coloured ball dress, that had silver laced throughout the bodice. Usagi, on the other hand, was having far less luck, and was slowly losing steam. The girls reached yet another store, and Minako threw herself onto a chair, turning her body sideways, and allowing her feet to dangle over the arm.
“So?” Usagi asked, emerging from the dressing room in a simple black dress.
“Too boring,” her twin stated, glancing up from her texting mission. A few moments later she had changed into a fuchsia gown with a large slit up the side. “Too pink,” Minako stated, causing her friend to slink back into the dressing room. Usagi opened the door to reveal a floral printed dress. “Too flowery,” she tossed the dress aside for yet another. “Too old lady,” Minako remarked, shaking her head as her friend had come out wearing a cream dress heavily decorated with lace. Usagi was beginning to feel frustrated – nothing seemed to look right. With one garment left on the hanger, she slipped it on.
“Too… ugly. That’s just ugly,” Minako curled her nose with disapproval.
“I’m never going to find anything,” Usagi whined, turning and stomping back to change.
“Just wait there,” Minako ordered, and with a heavy sigh, lifted herself up and went to look around the shop. She came back moments later with a dress that she flung over the top of the door. “Try this!”
Behind the door, Usagi held it up – it was beautiful. She carefully unzipped the side and slipped it over her head, lightly tugging at the ends so it sat just right on her frame. The strapless, ivory dress was decorated with a golden jeweled waistline that accentuated her tiny figure. The lacey fabric flared slightly, and ended just above her knee.
“This is it,” Usagi announced excitedly, pushing open the door.
“That is it,” Minako nodded approvingly. “Am I good or what?” she winked, receiving a giggle and a thank you from her best friend. With their shopping taken care of the girls hurried back to Usagi’s empty house to prepare for the night ahead
Mamoru glanced down at his watch; 6:45pm. He had been waiting in Beryl’s foyer for the past fifteen minutes. With an annoyed sigh, he leaned against the wall, phone in hand as he browsed through the latest news headlines.
“I’ll be right down!” his date called, but Mamoru murmured in response. After another five minutes of waiting, Beryl made her grand entrance, slinking down the stairs in an emerald green gown that hugged every curve. “So, what do you think?” she asked, reaching Mamoru and doing a spin to show off every angle.
“You look nice”, the man replied diplomatically.
“You don’t look too bad yourself,” she winked, shamelessly giving him a once over. While he almost always dressed nicely, Mamoru was meant to wear a suit. His charcoal pinstriped pants and blazer were tailor made to fit his body, and on top he wore a crisp white dress shirt, accented with a red silk tie.
“Let’s get going,” he said, walking to the door and holding it open. Beryl frowned, having hoped for a more enthusiastic reaction, and a kiss on the cheek at the very least. Determined to make him hers by the end of the evening, she lead the way.
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