"There she is," Terry nudged my arm and whispered conspiratorially, ignoring me as I swatted his elbow away. I was beginning to feel stupid. We were standing behind a large plant, trying to get a look at a person who wasn't supposed to see us. We'd been standing there for nearly twenty minutes before Terry spotted her and the leaves were beginning to poke into my arm gently, making me itch.
"Who is?" Hayley whispered back.
"Her," Terry hissed urgently.
"I don't see her," I replied, craning my head to get a better look but Terry pulled me back abruptly.
"Don't go staring at her! If she sees all three of us staring at her she'll think we're stalking her or something and then we'll never get any work done," Terry chided and immediately Hayley and I stopped trying to see the girl Terry had pointed out.
"Do you at least know her name?" I asked, scratching my arm absently.
"Well, no," he answered sheepishly. "But she has to be our Late November."
"We don't even know what she looks like," Hayley argued. "I found someone else who would make an excellent Late November."
"No really, mine takes the cake," Terry promised. He raised his head a little to see over the huge green leaves before ducking down again. "Quick! She's coming this way. Try not to look suspicious."
"Too late," I muttered wryly. I mean, really, three people standing around a huge bush couldn't possibly look the least bit suspicious. People stood behind bushes, spying on other people all the time.
I felt Hayley nudge me in the ribs and was about to grumble when Terry's girl stalked past us. Immediately, we all stopped everything we were doing, which wasn't much really, and stared as the girl walked by. She didn't even notice us which made staring at her in stunned silence that much easier.
Terry was right. She had to be our Late November. The poor girl had one of the worst wardrobes we'd seen in a long time. And trust us; we'd seen a fair few. She was wearing a beautiful white blouse but it had been buttoned all the way to the top and at the sleeves. Below that, she wore, and we considered this the biggest crime ever, tapered jeans that were worn very high on her waist. And to top off the 'look' she had a brown men's vest jacket on with a ratty woollen scarf thrown over her neck. Unfortunately, her hair wasn't fairing much better either; she had fabulous brown locks but they looked as if she had simply pulled them away from her face in a loose bun because she didn't know what else to do with them. I caught myself slowly shaking my head and even Hayley's mouth had dropped open in amazement.
See, Terry, Hayley and I had made it our personal missions to help people bring out the best in themselves. It was something we started soon after we'd first met in freshmen year when we discovered we had a mutual distaste for the over-commercialised poncho that everyone was wearing at the time and it later turned into an on-going project. Every two weeks, we'd find one special person to take under our collective wing and gently steer them into feeling better about themselves.
I suppose you could say that the three of us had seen one too many make-over shows and thought we could do it ourselves. And you'd probably be right. Except our make-overs weren't so much about reconstructive surgery and intensive gym-schedules. Instead, we concentrated on making a few little changes like new pair of contact lenses here, a couple of new clothes there and then at the same time, reminding them of how wonderful they were and helping to widen their social circles so that they would be able to get out there more.
Some would argue that we were just being overly idealistic and well, just plain shallow but we'd argue otherwise. Some people gave clothes, money and food to the less-fortunate, while others chose to save the animals. We gave ego-boosts. Its not that we thought of our missions as charity cases per se, it was just something that we found that we were really good at while being able to do something nice for someone else at the same time.
And so it began, armed with our combined talents, twice a month, we'd find someone who looked like they could have used our help. More often that not, they'd eventually let us help them and while we discovered the amazing people buried under those shy exteriors, they too discovered whole new sides to them. Sure people laughed at us at first and many still tease us, but they become more receptive to what we were doing after a little while. We'd established ourselves as the resident style gurus on campus and I couldn't help but feel a little proud of the fact.
I had never let my life revolve around the way that I looked although I did take pride in the way I dressed and presented myself. Life was all about presentations. You wouldn't be taken seriously anywhere if you looked like crap. So, long ago, I'd worked out which colours and clothing pieces looked best on me and had stuck with those. Somehow, along the way, I had also managed to pick up what colours and styles could work on other people too and it was a skill I had subsequently found more than useful.
Hayley had a completely different style from me altogether and I often envied her confidence for being able to pull off the looks that she did. I was much more classic with my approach to my clothes, tending to stick with looks that I knew worked rather than going for something dramatically different. Hayley did not have that problem and had found a way to assimilate her own style with whatever was trendy at the moment. I had no idea how she did it, but she did.
Terry, on the other hand, had his own thing going. Being a gay male, he knew he had to look good and he did. Hayley and I were actually somewhat disappointed to discover he was gay in the beginning because he was just so attractive but it was easy enough to get over. Even though he wore a lot of black, Terry always matched and his white blonde locks were always perfectly in place. But his speciality was in presentation. While Hayley and I had a ball dressing up our new friends, Terry would look at the whole picture and then add the finishing touches to it by helping them with how they should carry themselves, where to look when talking and so on.
We'd long ago decided that there had to be reason that we'd all found each other when we did. And there had to be an even greater reason that we were all good at what we did and worked fabulously well together. It didn't take long before we agreed to open our own PR firm after we graduated and we were currently taking different majors at college in skill areas that we'd be able to use later on.
But that was all beside the point. We had far more pressing issues to be dealing with at the moment.
And that's where we were as we stared after the girl Terry had showed us. He turned to look at our faces and a huge grin appeared on his when he saw our stunned looks. "So?" he asked eagerly. "Don't you agree?"
"Absolutely," Hayley nodded then turned to me. "Alyssa?"
"Who knows, you guys, she could just be having an off-day," I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. She was slumping away from us now, dragging her feet as she walked.
"Or an off-month?" Terry filled. "I've seen her around quite a couple times now and it hasn't gotten better."
"In that case, I agree," I conceded. She needed us, whether she knew it yet our not. We couldn't let her down.
"We'll start on her tomorrow then, since tomorrow's the 14th," Terry pointed out.
"Yeah, one project at a time. Besides, tonight is Rebecca's debut," Hayley reminded, her voice tinged with excitement.
Indeed, tonight was Rebecca's night. Rebecca Connelly had been our Early November. Hayley had found her in her Art History class complete with thick plastic-framed glasses and long floral skirts. As it turned out, Rebecca actually had really great calves but was too afraid to show them. We decided to let her keep her floral motifs but found her some stylish knee length skirts instead. Rebecca was also too hesitant to let go of her glasses and after much negotiating, we'd managed to convince her to swap her outdated pair for smaller black frames that didn't hide her green eyes so much.
The final effect was breath-taking. Rebecca had that sweet girl-next-door look and her confidence level had sky-rocketed. She was smiling at random people more, starting her own conversations and had even been asked out. Tonight, at the party her friends were throwing her, we felt like proud parents.
That was until he came and ruined it all for me.
"Nice job," I heard a lazy voice behind me say. I knew who it was without even having to turn around but for some reason I did just in time to catch an irritating smirk spread across his face before turning back to watching the radiant Rebecca.
"Oh leave me alone, Troy. I'm trying to enjoy this."
"Of course," he replied languidly as he stood next to me. "Enjoying watching the latest addition to your ever-growing legion of followers."
"Legion of followers?" I laughed. "Very original, Matthews. Well done.
But Troy continued smirking as if he knew something that I didn't, making me feel more and more annoyed by the second. Finally, as I was about to walk away, he asked. "So when am I being introduced to your new minion?"
New minion?! How dare he? I felt an urge to slap that smirk right of his face but physical violence really wasn't my style. Instead, I closed my eyes and counted to ten.
Okay, fine, till about four before I opened them only to see Troy standing there waiting for his answer. "First of all, if you ever make a remark like that again about any of my friends, I'll make you regret that you even learnt how to speak in the first place. Secondly, if you'd quit being so full of yourself for just one second, you might notice that Rebecca doesn't actually want to meet an arrogant jerk like you."
He looked a little stunned at first but recovered from it quickly enough. "Ouch, Lyss, that really hurt," he said, clutching his heart and pretending to look pained. "And here I was trying to save the terrific trio from having to stage another one of your ridiculous introductions," he retorted before stalking off.
I felt my face heat up almost instantly and unconsciously channelled all my rage into crushing the plastic cup that I was holding. What did I do to deserve having him spoil everything I did? Someone please tell me so that I can stop. The guy drove me insane and yet I kept letting him get to me. In the two years that I'd known him, all he had ever done was cause me anger. Granted he was one of the best looking guys on campus with his too-shiny black hair that was always falling into his damn chocolate brown eyes and that infuriating smile that showed his perfect teeth (which I was convinced had been enhanced by some over-charging dentist somewhere). If anything, the guy knew he was too good-looking for his own good and had grown too accustomed to having throngs of girls ogling him. Too bad for him that I preferred guys that actually had a brain lodged somewhere in their cranium rather than in their pants.
It was true that our make-over projects had led to our knowing a great number of new people and we figured that between the three of us, Hayley, Terry and I were possibly connected to almost every person in our year group and then some. One thing had led to another and before we knew it, our make-over projects had also spun off a side project:
Ever since we began our little "introduction service" we had received countless numbers of phone calls from nervous girls and even some guys asking for our help. It seemed that our idea had become an overnight hit at our college in helping them meet the men or women of their dreams. All they had to do was call us and we would set up the necessary "coincidences" and "chance encounters" so that the people could meet. We would then introduce people to each other then let them go on from there. We never guaranteed that the people involved would fall in love or end up dating but most of the time, all that our 'clients' really wanted was a chance to get some one-on-one time with the person that they were lusting after.
It wasn't our fault that three-quarters of the girls that we'd received 'introduction requests' from wanted to meet Troy Matthews, despite our desperate pleas to convince them otherwise. But for him to automatically assume that Rebecca was one of those and then having the gall to think he was relieving us of some great burden just made me want to inflict as much physical pain to his damned perfect body as I could, despite my usual aversion to violence.
And to top it all of, he'd called me Lyss. As if we'd been friends for a long time when we were anything but.
I must have been standing there, lost in my thoughts of murdering Troy for quite some time and jumped when Hayley gently touched my arm, asking me if I was alright.
"No," I muttered back, finally realising the damage I'd caused to my cup.
"Troy?" she asked sympathetically.
"Who else." It was a statement more than a question.
"Forget about him, sweetie. He's an asshole," she said gently, taking my arm and leading me back towards where Rebecca was laughing with her friends.
"Would you believe what he had the nerve to say?" I began, my voice still shaking.
"Yes," she replied quickly cutting me of before I could launch into the idiot's pathetic scene. "But it's not important. Rebecca wants to see you." She continued leading me away.
I know what she was doing and I knew I would thank her for it later. But it still didn't help improve the foul mood Troy had put me in. Again.
A/N: Well, this is my second fic…. It stemmed from an idea that's been floating around in my head for awhile now plus I've been reading a lot of fics in this genre :) I know the first chapter suddenly had a lot of information to digest but I wanted to get on with the story soon instead of wasting another couple of chapters explaining what it was Terry, Hayley and Alyssa did. I apologise if it seemed too happy/nice to be true, if you know what I mean, but, as I hope you'll see in later chapters, they really do have noble intentions when it comes down to it so please bear with me. The chapters to come will bring a lot more insight to my characters without having to be bogged down by history. I hope you all enjoyed that. Please do leave a review; comments, criticism, suggestions or general proclamations of love are welcome.
Updated 180106: I'm finally editing this damn thing. Hopefully this chapter reads better now. Thank you to Joanna Woo for your help with this chapter.