Learning to Live

By WordsofRemedy

Chapter 8: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

~*~*~*~*~

"Wow, Elsa. You look stunning."

I glared at Tom with intense hatred.

"Screw off." I said, applying a touch of my mother's lip-gloss. I leaned into the mirror for one last facial check and then stepped back to survey the dress.

Tom whistled just to aggravate and then walked away chuckling. I wished that he would just go home. I was not looking forward to the day he moved in. I had no idea how I would avoid being alone with him for the rest of my time at home.

The dress was stunning, I thought. It had nothing to do with me. I lifted it gently off the floor and stared at the shoes. Everything fit perfectly, and I couldn't help but feel like a pampered princess. The crystal flowers glistened magically in the light and my face glowed in radiance. I had curled the ends of my white, blonde hair and pulled a little bit of it back into an elegant twist. The rest I let flow over my shoulders and back.

Mom came into the room and beamed. "Absolutely gorgeous." She said with too much enthusiasm. She was still trying to suck up to me. I knew that she wanted Tom and I to get along. Fat chance.

"I can't believe your date bought you that dress. He must be rather rich, eh?"

"Mom!" I yelled. "Who cares about money? I didn't ask him to do this." I was still touchy on the subject.

"Well, you still look gorgeous." She kissed me lightly on the cheek. "I know you'll have a wonderful time."

"Right." I said, sighing. I wondered if I had ever had fun with Ashton. The object of his fun had always been me . . . tormenting me. Was this just another way to persecute me in front of his friends?

The bell rung and I shook the thoughts out of my head and ran to the door. I called good-bye to mom and shot out before either of them could get a glimpse of Ashton.

"You aren't going to let me meet your mom?" Ashton asked me as I slammed the door. "Whoa!" He exclaimed suddenly. "Elsa, you look . . . well you look pretty damn good!"

I rolled my eyes and told him to get moving.

But all the same, I smiled secretly, seeing the amazed and dreamy look in his eyes.

"A couple of the guys invited me to ride with my date in the limo, but I turned them down and brought my car instead." Ashton said almost apologetically as he opened the door and helped me into his car.

"They don't know who your 'date' is yet, do they?" I asked accusingly.

"Well," He stuttered. "Not exactly. I thought we'd surprise them."

"I can't wait." I said sarcastically. Ashton shot me a quick glance and then started the engine.

"They won't be able to find anything mean to say to you tonight." He said moments later, very sincerely. "I mean, not even I can."

I smirked and turned to look at him. He was dressed in a handsome tux, the only thing missing was the bowtie. Instead he had just left his white oxford unbuttoned at the top, showing off a bit of his smooth chest.

"If you can't find anything mean to say, then I guess things will be alright."

We rode the rest of the way in silence.

~*~*~*~*~

"This is it." Ashton said as he put his arm through mine and we entered the gymnasium.

The gym was hardly recognizable. The prom committee had done an excellent job with decorations, lighting, and arrangement. We walked down a long red carpet towards the middle of the room, where people were milling around, socializing or snacking on delicacies. Music was playing softly, but we were a few minutes early and things weren't in full swing yet.

"Ashton!" One of the guys in the middle of the crowd called out. "Ashton you dumbass! Over here!"

Ashton looked at me almost regretfully. "I hate this guy." He said under his breath.

I realized it was Will who was calling Ashton over. His comment surprised me.

"But I thought Will was your best friend." I exclaimed in a whisper.

"He is." Ashton said just as softly. "But I still hate him. And he hates me too. We're only friends because we hate each other so much."

"You make no sense."

Ashton continued as he steered us toward Will. "If we weren't friends then we would constantly be at each other's throats and competing for everything. So we both have a silent agreement that we'll tolerate each other and try to share."

"Sounds like kindergarten."

Ashton gave me an amused glance. "Half these people failed kindergarten." He cleared his throat abruptly. "Will! Sup, man?"

"Hey, look after the prom we're all headed to Kate's house, her parents are out of town and . . . hey! Who do we have here?"

Will had finally taken notice of me. I saw his expression go blank as he tried to place a name with my face. I guess a bit of extra make-up and some glamorous clothes made me almost unrecognizable. Suddenly a sign of comprehension alighted Will's features as the light bulb seemed to click on.

"Well damn!" He said quite loudly. A few of the girls who were previously eyeing Ashton with envy turned their gaze on Will. "This can't be her!"

I glared at Will. "Who am I then?" I asked sarcastically.

Ashton sighed and turned to Will. "Look man, I invited her to prom. I thought she would need a date you know . . ."

I turned my glare on Ashton at that point.

Will laughed noisily. "Ha, ha! Well aren't you just the Good Samaritan! And look, the punk glams up pretty nicely! Hey baby, you can come home with me tonight if you want!"

"I'd rather not." I said hatefully. "Ashton, if this is how the rest of the night is going to be, then I'm ready to go home now."

Ashton looked at me worriedly and then pulled me away from all the awestruck faces.

We stood in the corner and Ashton grabbed my hand. "I'm sorry Elsa, let's just dance and try to enjoy the evening. We'll leave in a while. But let's just enjoy each other's company and ignore those people, okay?"

"Enjoy each other's company?" There was a touch of unbelief in my tone. "Since when have we ever been able to enjoy each other?"

Ashton smirked. "Well, now's a great time to start isn't it?"

I couldn't find anyway to reply to that, and before I knew it, he had swept me off onto the dance floor.

Everything felt so surreal. The lights were dimmed, and flashing pink and blue lights flew around the room slowly, as Ashton and I danced in each other's arms. Every so often he would look down and catch my eye, smiling slightly. He would then gently brush my hair away and let it run through his fingers. He seemed fascinated by it.

After a while I grew tired and asked to sit down. The shoes I was wearing were beautiful, but hardly comfortable. Ashton led me to a seat and then ran off to fetch some punch, which I had heard, had been spiked.

"Isn't this just so adorable?" I heard a girl saying to two others as they walked by in their expensive dresses and narrowed their eyes at me. "Ashton took her to the prom! That was really brave of him, I mean . . . if it weren't Ashton himself, this guy's reputation would have been severely damaged!"

A girl with long black hair, flipped it over her shoulders and turned to glower on me again. "I know. Look at her . . . I wonder how she ever even afforded that dress."

I glared back and said nothing. I reminded myself that they were just jealous. They had probably all been expecting Ashton to ask one of them. And instead he had taken the girl they stepped on everyday.

"Hello, girls." Ashton said smoothly as he sidled up next to me. "Enjoying your dates? Where are they by the way?"

I saw the redhead blush. "Let's go Kate." Kate was the one with the long black hair. I noticed that her nails had been professionally done, as she waved back at Ashton.

Ashton rolled his eyes as he turned back to me and handed me a glass of the "punch".

"I can't stand Kate. She's been after me for two years. She didn't upset you did she?" Ashton inquired.

"No." I muttered as I gulped down the punch.

We sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment.

"Hey, let's blow this place." Ashton said suddenly. "I have a surprise for you."

"I'm not sleeping with you Ashton." I said with a bored tone. I had been expecting him to try and carry me off, charming me with his good looks and snagging my virginity while he was at it.

But he looked taken aback at my comment, and I saw a glimmer of hurt in his eyes. "That wasn't my idea. But it can be arranged." He narrowed his eyes. "My surprise involves no physical contact at all." He smirked. "That is, if you think YOU can keep your hands off me."

"I'll put money on it." I said. "But let's go."