Reeling Her In

Today was the day we began the Late November project but we weren't exactly off to a great start. To begin with, we still hadn't discovered her name and were calling her Late November for the time being. We'd managed to locate her scurrying around campus in the morning but we hadn't initiated contact yet figuring it might be useful if we knew a little more about her before we waltzed in.

The campus had a small café right next to it which had become a haven for the college students. We'd followed Late November there and Terry and I were sitting a few tables away, watching her like hawks.

Okay, so we were stalking the poor girl. But really, she'd thank us for it later.

"Or we could just ask her what her name is," I suggested bluntly in opposition to Terry's plan of hacking into the university's student files to find out as much as we could about Late November. Terry gave me his 'serious look' which comprised of him narrowing his grey eyes and pursing his lips. It always made me laugh because he reminded me of my mother every time he did. I stifled a giggle and met his 'look' head on.

"Alyssa," he said in his 'serious' voice. "We're trying to help her not scare her off. We can't just go and introduce ourselves. It didn't work the last three times we tried it," he huffed.

The gay man did have a point. Unfortunately, we'd come to a point where our reputations were preceding us. The last couple of times we'd used the direct approach the girls had already heard of us and were horrified to learn that we thought that they needed our help. Pride is a very delicate thing and seeing as it was exactly what we were working on, we had to thread lightly.

We were suddenly interrupted with Terry's cell phone rang. He reached into his pocket to retrieve the phone while I let my eyes wander over to Late November once more.

She was sitting at her table by herself, sipping her drink and reading something but I couldn't quite make out what it was. Her chestnut coloured hair was in the same loose bun that it was in yesterday. Her clothes hadn't changed much either. She still had those jeans on and that horrendous vest but today she wore a pale green t-shirt under it. She'd also traded her woollen scarf in for a pine green silken one.

I was actually a little impressed. Perhaps Late November wouldn't be so difficult after all. She definitely had a few nice pieces of clothing that we could work with and had some sense of colour co-ordination as her pale and dark green combo today had shown. I could feel a smile spread across my face as I grew more excited about the two weeks to come.

Terry had finished his phone call and I looked at him expectantly. "Hayley's on her way. She's been snooping around."

A few minutes later, Hayley herself plopped down on a chair beside us and said breathlessly, "her name is Nicole Carter."

"Late November's?" Terry asked, just to be sure.

"Yup," Hayley confirmed, reaching across the table to help herself to Terry's mocha frappacino. "She's a freshman. She lives in the dorms over at the Fergusson building."

"How do you know all this?" Terry wanted to know.

"I have my sources," she said mysteriously, her blue eyes twinkling. "So, when do we start?"

"Yeah, Terry and I were just discussing what the best approach would be. Any ideas?" I asked.

Hayley took a sip of Terry's drink and stole a glance at Late November, Nicole, and turned back quickly. "I don't think that will be a problem."

"Why? Did you think of something?"

"No. She's on her way here."

Sure enough, a short moment later, Nicole had stomped up to our table and was giving us all a contemptuous look. The three of us, glanced nervously at each other until I decided to break the awkwardness. "Hey. You're Nicole, right?"

"You know very well who I am," she snapped. "And I know who you are and what you're up to."

Terry laughed nervously, "What do you mean?"

"Please, I'm not blind. I've seen you three, especially you," she pointed accusingly at Terry, "following me around and whispering to yourselves. You think I'm ugly don't you?"

The allegation stunned us all but Hayley managed to find her tongue before Terry and me. "That's not true at all Nicole. We think you have immense potential, we just want to help you reach it."

"And people actually buy that crap?" Nicole said bitterly.

"But, we're on your side," Terry tried.

"Why don't you join us right now and we could try to explain to you want we were planning for you," I offered, gesturing at the other chair at our table.

"What you were planning? I don't think so."

"Come on. Just hear us out and if you still don't like it then we promise to leave you alone. We can't do anything to you that you don't want," Hayley assured.

"For the last time, I'm not interested," Nicole practically screamed before turning her heel and storming out of the café. A few people had noticed her little outburst and were now staring at us curiously.

"Well, that went well," Terry said cheerily.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bless Terry and his eternal optimism, I thought wearily as I followed Nicole through the crowds of students as they roamed around the corridors in between their respective classes. I was on stalking duty later that day and was having a tough time keeping up with Nicole as she weaved her way through the masses.

But then she stopped walking abruptly, as if she was suddenly transfixed by something before her. There were too many people between us and I couldn't see what—or should I say who—had caught her attention.

I took a few steps closer and got a better view of her face. She sighed expressively, a soft smile settling on her lips while her emerald eyes had slightly glazed over in a mix of appreciation and desire. I couldn't help myself, stepping up so that I was beside her I asked, "Who is he?"

"I dunno," she replied in a faraway voice. Then, realising where she was and who she was talking to, she snapped out of her daze and fixed me with a pointed glare. "Don't you guys know when to quit?"

"Not really," I said, trying to sound cheerful but she only scowled. She was about to walk away but I grabbed her arm before she could. "Nicole, wait, please."

"I thought I told you I wasn't interested," she sneered and jerked her arm away.

"Look, I just wanted to talk to you. It had nothing to do with your make-over. I just saw you here and wanted to talk to you," I emphasised on the last word.

Colour bloomed in Nicole's cheeks and her brow creased slightly in worry. "You saw me here? For how long?"

"About a second. You were just standing here when I saw you," I fabricated the truth a little.

"So you didn't see me speak to that guy?"

"What guy?"

She exhaled audibly. "It's not important."

"Aw, come on," I coaxed, my interest piqued. "Was it the one you were staring after?"

She reddened again but nodded ever so slowly. "But like I said, it wasn't important."

"Why isn't it important, Nicole? You looked like you were interested in him," I said out of observation.

"Well, to be honest, I don't even know him." she stared at the ground.

"But you just spoke to him?"

"Well… I bumped into him and apologised and then he just walked away," she confessed.

"Do you at least know his name?"

"No."

"Well, what did he look like?" I asked trying a different approach.

"He's tall, dark and handsome," she replied dreamily.

I raised an eyebrow at her cliché. The girl had it bad. "So then why didn't you introduce yourself?"

Nicole looked at me like I was insane for a moment before she realised I was serious then said quietly, "A guy like him would never go for a girl like me."

"Nicole, how can say that?" I said lightly.

"Because it's true. Guys tend to look through me rather than at me," she muttered and took a few steps away from me.

I felt a pang of sympathy for the girl; her self-esteem could really have done with a boost. I wanted to say something to ease her mood but I hardly knew the girl and certainly didn't want to offend her further by saying the wrong thing.

But I didn't need to. Nicole remained very quiet for a second then her eyes grew wide and she looked at me anxiously. "Say, is that make-over still available?"

It was exactly what I'd been waiting to hear but now that she'd said it, I wasn't so sure. Her intentions had changed so dramatically I knew the guy she'd seen had something to do with it. And while I was really looking forward to giving her that make-over, her motives worried me. I'd always believed that people should feel good for themselves, not for the sake of someone else.

But her green eyes sparkled with hope as she stared at me intently. I couldn't say no to her now. Besides, I reasoned with myself, she was a big girl. She would know what she was doing. And even if she didn't, we could probably change her outlook while we made her over. Who knew, maybe her mystery man would fall for her anyway after we were done with her.

I flashed Nicole a bright smile and pushed all my apprehension aside. We would make this work yet. "You bet."

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A/N: hey guys, I read this over a couple of times but you know how when you're very familiar with a passage your eyes tend to skip over bits, so I reckon I may have missed a mistake or two. Sorry. And thank you to Shiegra for being my first reviewer :D