"So tell me, Kate, who do you like?"
Kate Dudley rolled over on the four poster bed to eye her friend with a look of exasperation. "How many times do I have to say this, Leah?" she complained. "Real guys just don't come up to snuff. I'll stick to my Mr. Darcys and Rhett Butlers, thank you very much."
"But Kate," protested Leah, "sooner or later you're going to have to accept that your fictional heroes aren't going to magically come to life and appear to sweep you off your feet. And besides," she added meditatively, "what about Junior Prom?"
"What about it?" Kate said nonchalantly.
"If you won't give the guys a chance, who are you gonna go with?" Leah pointed out.
Kate threw a pillow at her. "Who said I was going?"
"Oh, please, Kate," Leah exclaimed, tossing the pillow back with vigor. Having poor aim, she missed. "Everyone wants to go to Prom. It's a girl's dream. Haven't you learned that from your precious books?"
"I'll have you know," Kate said loftily, "that the Bennets did not have Prom."
"Oh, forget about the Bennets!" Leah cried. "They're fictional!"
"And far better company than most real people," Kate retorted.
"But they won't provide you with a date to Prom," Leah returned smugly. Kate sighed, knowing that to deny it would be a waste of time.
"Maybe they won't," she said, "but as I have no intention of ever going near the Junior Prom, that's fine with me."
"But Kate, what else would you be doing?"
Kate shrugged. "Oh, I don't know," she said. "Read, maybe. Watch a movie or something. Anything I'd be doing on any other normal evening."
"But Prom isn't another normal evening-" Leah started, but she was cut off by the sound of Enchanted's Ever Ever After blasting into the room.
Kate's eyes widened, and she dove for her purse, which lay on the floor. Digging frantically through it, she finally pulled out a rather battered pink Unicel phone and glanced down at the screen. ALLY it proclaimed in capital letters. Mouthing, "It's Alejandra," to Leah, Kate pressed talk.
"Hey Ally!" she said brightly. "One sec, Lee's here. Lemme put it on speaker, 'kay?"
A moment later and Alejandra Berry's voice filled the room. "Leah! Kate!" she exclaimed gleefully.
"Ally!" Leah screamed, diving towards the phone. "We miss you so much! When are you getting back from Paris?"
Ally's mother, Maya Berry, was an international diplomat for a large company, and she was always heading off to other countries. When her children were on vacation, she dragged them with her. Victor Berry, their father, was a writer, and he went along with the schemes, as they provided good material for his novels.
Ally laughed. "That's what I was calling about," she said. "Mom finished up the deal yesterday, and we're coming back in a week. So I'll be able to spend the last week of summer with you guys!"
"YES!" Leah screeched, pumping her fist in the air in elation. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"
Kate, listening from the bed, giggled, and said "That's awesome, Ally. Did the deal go well?"
"What? Oh, yeah. Of course," Ally said, "no one can resist mom's arguments for long."
Kate grinned widely. Maya Berry had never been known to lose an argument, and after so many calls from Ally, the question "how did it go" had become more of a habit than a real inquiry.
"Yeah," she laughed. "Well, congratulations anyway. And by the way," she added, with a sly glance in Leah's direction, "how's Paul?"
Leah blushed bright red. For the past seven months she and Paul Berry had been going out, after finally admitting to each other that they'd liked the other for ages. It was a constant source of amusement to Kate and Alejandra to tease Leah about him.
"Oh, Paul?" Ally asked. "Yeah, he's doing fine."
There was a long pause. Kate stared piercingly at Leah. A few seconds later, Leah gave in. "Um, has he, uh, mentioned me lately?" she asked.
Ally laughed. "I was wondering when you'd get around to asking me that," she said cheerfully. "Of course he has! His cell battery died, and we can't find the charger, or he'd have called you by now."
"Yeah," Kate said, "it's been what, four days since he called, Lee?"
Leah glared at her. "Shut up," she snapped. "Just because I actually have a boyfriend."
"I don't want one," Kate put in.
"Just because my boyfriend calls me-"
"If I don't have or want one, he obviously isn't going to call," Kate pointed out.
"Do you want to talk to him on my phone?" Ally interrupted hastily.
"Yes!" Leah said quickly, grabbing the phone and taking it off speaker. She disappeared into her closet, and when she emerged ten minutes later, she was beaming.
"All's well?" Kate enquired, putting the cell back on speaker.
"Mmm hmm," Leah trilled.
Kate snorted. "So, Ally," she said, turning her attention back to their friend, "anything else we should know about?"
"Hmm…" there was a pause. "Mom says hi, by the way."
"We say hi back," chorused the girls.
"They say hi back, mom!" Ally yelled. "Okay, I'm here. Let me see…well, I got you guys both presents…and Paul got one for Leah…he won't let me see it so unfortunately I can't tell you what it is…"
Kate sneaked a glance over in Leah's direction. "Leah's blushing again!" she reported gleefully. In unison, she and Ally cooed "Awwwwww…"
"Jealous," Leah muttered. "You're both just jealous."
Kate snickered. "Suuuure we are, Lee Lee."
"What was that about Leah?" a male voice enquired.
"Nothing," Ally said, "go away, Paul. You just talked to your girlfriend. Let me talk to her."
"Paul, beat it."
There were scuffling sounds, a few muffled curses, and then Ally came back on. "Sorry 'bout that," she said brightly. "Paul was being an ass. I'm back."
"Hey!" Leah yelped. "Don't call Paul-"
"He's my brother, Lee," Ally sighed, "I'm allowed to insult him."
Leah muttered a few uncomplimentary things about siblings under her breath, but she didn't pursue the subject. "Well, tell him to call me again tonight if he can," she said. "Kate's leaving in a bit to have dinner with her cousins, so I'll be able to talk for longer."
"Yeah, yeah," Ally said. "I'll consider passing that on."
"Passing what on?"
"Paul, go away! You can call Leah tonight!"
"Hi Paul!" Kate trilled, switching from bother Leah mode to bother Alejandra mode. "How's life?"
"Oh, hey Kate," Paul responded. "Not that bad, except that my demonic sister keeps-ow! Let go of my hair, Ally! You're sixteen! Aren't you supposed to be more mature by now?"
"Aren't you?" his twin retorted. "I thought you told me to follow your expert lead, because you were older and therefore wiser."
"Shut it, Alejandra," Paul snapped.
"Best way to get me to stop bothering you is to go away," Ally said. "It's a proven fact."
There was another pause, more grumbling, and then Ally said "Actually, I kinda gotta go now. Mom wants to take us out to dinner, and it's a dressy place."
"Ooh, wear that pretty orange dress," Kate told her. "The strapless one."
"That's what I was thinking," Ally said. "With a little black shrug jacket. Talk to you later!"
"Love you," Leah said.
"Yeah, same," Kate added. "Bye, Ally."
There was a click, and then Kate shoved her phone back into her purse. "So," she asked, "what were we talking about before Ally called?"
"Mmm?" Leah looked up. "Oh, I don't remember."
"Talking to Paul drive it out of your head?" Kate teased.
"Noooo…" Leah protested slowly.
"Riiight," Kate said. "Well, anyway, I should get going now, probably, I know I said I could stay till five, but mom would probably prefer it if I came home earlier. She wants the house tidied up before Jesse and Willow get there."
"Aren't you guys going out for pizza?" Leah inquired.
"Yeah." Kate rolled her eyes. "But I guess the fact that they'll be in the house for about ten minutes total merits a full cleaning." She sighed. "Call me tomorrow, okay? We can go get ice cream, or something."
"Sounds like a plan," Leah said cheerfully. "See ya then."
"Bye!" Kate waved over her shoulder as she shut the bedroom door behind her. "Enjoy your chat with Paul tonight!"