"I still can't believe you're going through with this," Nick said as he watched me get dressed.
Instead of wearing a real dress, I had taken one of Nick's old Jerseys, cleaned it well, and then sewed it into a dress. I had screwed up once, and had to use a different jersey instead of the one I had originally intended, but now I was wearing, a tight, form fitted dress. I also wore knee high socks and a pair of high lace sneakers. On the back, I had done an original painting of the school mascot. It didn't look like a prom dress, but I looked like me.
Nick was wearing a proper suit. We looked strange standing next to one another, but somehow it looked right.
"Oh my god Liz!" Danielle exclaimed when she saw me. "That is- I mean, wow, you look great but are you seriously going to wear that?"
I nodded happily.
"It's my jersey," Nick said sheepishly. "But it wasn't my idea! I thought she should a wear a real dress." He leaned toward me. "But I think you look better like this," he whispered in my ear.
Tyler was driving. He had given us a perfunctory greeting. Apparently all was still not well between us but we told each other that we both looked nice. It was better between us than it had been at least.
When we got to the school and climbed out of the car, I told Nick and Danielle to go ahead of us and hung back.
"Hey." Tyler looked me over. "You do look very nice. Very... Right."
"Thanks. Look, I just wanted to say, Danielle told me about Alice. And uhmm, thanks."
"Yeah. Sure. I know she's done some pretty shitty things to you as a friend."
"Yeah, well, I haven't been the best friend to you either."
He shook his head. "No, you were a good friend. Just not a great girlfriend."
"I know, I'm sorry."
"It's okay. I'm leaving anyway."
"Yeah, I heard."
"Uhmm, also, my sister wants to see your brother."
"What?" That surprised me.
"She called off the wedding. Said she couldn't go through with it. She feels too terrible about what happened to your brother. And that she wasn't there for him. She wants to try and be in his life again."
"Yeah, I know. Your brother's pretty messed up and it probably can't happen, but she still said it just didn't feel right. She's going to go talk to your parents tomorrow. See what they think."
"Yeah, I mean... I don't know."
"She also, well, can you keep a secret?"
"A friend of her's from college's dad runs a pretty fancy hospital and they have this really great brain injury rehab program."
"Tyler, that's great but I don't think we can afford that..." I didn't actually know. And I'm sure my parents would scrape together every penny we had for it, but hospitals are very expensive.
"No, no, that's the best part. The VA will actually pay for it. There's just not many spots available. Anyway, my sister was able to snag one for your brother."
"Oh my god, are you serious?"
"Oh wow!" I threw my arms around him and hugged him. "Thank you! Thank you!"
"Hey, don't thank me. Thank my sister." He hugged me back, a little stiffly.
"Well, yeah. I will. Oh my God. You don't know how much this will mean to family."
"Promise you'll keep it a secret."
"Iz?" Nick had come looking for us. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, everything's great." I realized there were tears in my eyes but I wiped them away.
"Alright..." Nick said, glancing between Tyler and I. He nodded at Tyler then took my hand and gently drew me towards the school. Behind us, Tyler and Danielle linked arms companionably. "Come on Ice Queen, time to make your big entrance." Nick said.
"I'm not Ice Queen yet." I reminded him.
"Soon enough." He grinned.
We walked in. My dress was greeted with cheers, grins and scowls. A few admired me. A few girls shot me death glares.
"A little casual aren't we?" Victoria greeted us before we had gotten too far. She nudged one of the chaperons. "Excuse me, but do you think this girl is properly attired for this occasion?"
The woman looked me over and then looked at Victoria's low plunging neckline and breasts that were practically popping out of her dress. "There aren't any rules actually about formality but there are about provocative attire young lady. I'm going to have to ask that you cover yourself a bit more." She told Victoria.
Nick and I grinned at each other and drew away as Victoria yelled at the woman and more chaperons came over to see what all the commotion was about.
"May I have this dance?" Nick asked, and pulled me toward the dance floor.
"I thought you'd never ask." We danced a few fast numbers, then a slow song came on. I glanced around and saw that Tyler and Danielle were sitting at the table together. They were talking and smiling a little, but both seemed more interested in the food that they had picked up from the buffet than each other.
"Liz?" A light tap on my shoulder.
"Blake, hey." Nick and I stopped dancing.
"Hey, uhmm, do you know, is Danielle on a like, date? With that guy?"
"No, they're just here as friends."
"So uh, what do you think she would say if I asked her to dance."
"I think you should ask her and see."
"Right, okay." He walked away. I saw him start for his friends, then turn around and walk towards Danielle. Nick pulled me closer but then as we turned in a small circle, I saw Blake take Danielle's hand and lead her towards the floor.
A few songs later. I drank a soda. Ate a few mini hotdogs and was headed towards a slice of cake when the music stopped.
"Alright everyone, it's the moment you've all been waiting for. The announcement of the Ice Queen."
Everyone started to move in towards the stage. Nick took my hand and tried to draw me forward but I held fast. He shrugged and stood back with me.
The teacher called for a drum roll.
"And the Ice King is- Blake!" Grinning, Blake made his way on to stage, pulling Danielle with him.
"Good for him!" Nick said. I knew he was glad his friend won.
"And now the Ice Queen." The room hushed.
I waited for my heart to start pounding but nothing. I looked around the room and almost laughed. I realized that I didn't care.
"And the Ice Queen is-"
"Come on, let's go."
"I don't want to know who won. I don't care."
But it was too late. The crowd rippled. Stares turned towards me.
"Come on, you won. The crown is yours."
I walked towards the stage even more glad I had worn sneakers because my legs were shaking. I didn't care about winning. But I didn't like being in front of the crowd.
Then I heard it. A low chant.
"Izzie. Izzie. Izzie." I looked on stage, sure enough it was Blake. More voices took up the chant. "Izzie. Izzie. Izzie." I felt my cheeks burn but I was smiling. Nick was grinning broadly as he walked with me, his hand on my back, gently guiding me.
I took the stage and noticed Alice standing the crowd. She was alone. She wasn't smiling. Then she caught my gaze. She gave me the tiniest smiles and a small thumbs up. Then she vanished.
They put the crown on my head. The whole room was chanting my name. Izzie. Izzie. Izzie.
I smiled. "Well, uhmm, thanks," I said.
The room roared it's approval and I laughed. Then I took Nick's hand. Nick's hand that felt so right in my own. He was laughing too. He caught me in a hug and then we walked down the stairs for our dance.
Though I might have been crowned Queen, Nick was my Prince of Ice.