A/N: Mr. Review Button was extremely pleased with the responses he received from the last chapter. He kept telling me how witty historygeek222 is. He has the notion that you are aspiring to be a lyricist (He spent several hours searching for "Me+Review" on Itunes…yeah, you'll have to be patient with him…). He loves Kismet Locklear's compliments and can't wait to hear back from ansonozaki. As for N.K., I'm so glad that you stumbled across this story, and I hope you continue liking it!
On a more serious note, I really appreciate all you guys for reading my store and sharing your opinions.
Love all around!
Jess felt eyes on her the moment she walked into her bedroom, and she knew exactly whose eyes they belonged to. She whirled around to give the accusing eyes a pleading look.
"Robert, I know you didn't want me to go in there, but we discussed this last night," she said. It was true. Robert had helped her plan D.O.W.N.E.Y. after Seth left complaining about how she sucked at sharing food. Jess took full credit for the acronym, though. "How else was I supposed to get into his wallet if I didn't sneak into the bathroom? I swear to you. I did not see a thing. But I did hear a few things that were certainly a turn off. Turns out Seth is terribly tone deaf." She snickered and then grabbed her laptop from her desk so that she could lie more comfortably on her bed.
Within moments, she had logged in and arrived at Expedia . com , signaling the start of Step Two. On another window, she opened up her favorite Downey fan site that listed almost everything Robert had, was, and would be doing. The site was her homepage, her haven, and her utopia. She was addicted to it like a drug, going as far as developing a strong friendship with the site's creator. Months ago the site had revealed the time and location of Robert's next film shooting. Of course, she had the date memorized by heart, but she felt it necessary to double check just in case. Once she was properly assured that Robert would begin working in Hollywood next week Wednesday, she closed the window and returned to the first one.
Ten minutes later and Jess was staring back at her laptop. She'd done it, and her eyes locked on the sentence "A conformation email will be sent soon detailing your flight information" as reassurance. Expedia had blindly accepted the serial number of the stolen credit card and was actually helping her. God bless the internet! In six days she would be happily holding a ridiculously small package of salty peanuts up in the sky. She squealed in excitement.
"Robby, darling, I've done it! I'll be able to hear you talk soon," she yelled. Her mind purposely refused to think about Step Three which was the point where she actually had to find Robert. There was really no need for her to stress about that now. She had bought a couple of "Where's Waldo?" books for practice last week and wasn't going to think about it anymore until Step Three was done. Right now she had other things to worry about.
"What am I going to wear," she shrieked, her laptop dropping down to the floor as she stood up abruptly. "I have to dress to impress."
Jess threw her closet doors open and groaned in disgust. She had an awful fashion sense. Actually, that wasn't true. She could spot out cute outfits as easily as Tyra Banks. Her issue was that none of them looked good on her. That left her with oversized t-shirts from the men's section that were funny but did nothing for her looks. Yanking out a shirt that read "five out of four people have problems with fractions," she was instantly filled with the urge to torch her entire closet. None of these things would work! Another shirt with the gang from Sesame Street and the words "all my homies are from the street" mocked her as she frowned. Who knew clothes could be so hateful? Why couldn't they just let her be happy for once?
These were the times that she wished she'd tried harder in high school to make friends. She knew that a normal girl under similar circumstances would simply call her best friend to go shopping with her or perhaps borrow a few flattering items from her friend's wardrobe. It wasn't that easy for Jess, though. She wasn't a loner by any means, but she could count the number of best friends she had on one hand, and they certainly didn't dress any better than her. Jess groaned. She was helpless.
"Would you still love me if I showed up to your house in capris and a regular shirt," she asked the poster.
Robert's silence was entirely too disconcerting.
Yep, she was screwed.
Her body was lying listless across her bed until she realized how ridiculously she was behaving. There was no time for her to let a few yards of fabric block her path towards perfect happiness with her future husband. She would just have to suck it up! She'd seen other girls do it before, anyway. Those girls who had chosen shorts that were several sizes too small yet marched down city streets like they owned the place. Those girls had mastered some kind of art. It would always be obvious that the clothes didn't fit, but the way the girls held themselves made one hesitant to say any snide remark. Their confidence basically masked how awful looked in the clothing. Jess could pull that off, too, right? She could pretend, at least for a couple of days, like she actually thought she looked hot in whatever trendy outfit she ended up wearing. The only problem was the lack of funds for her currently nonexistent trendy outfits.
Suddenly, she remembered something magnificent and jerked up into a sitting position. How could she have possible forgotten? The same card that she'd just used to buy plane tickets could just as easily be used for clothes. Her right hand went up to smack her own forehead-punishment for her moment of stupidity. Hanging out with Yale Fail appeared to be having some negative consequences.
Regrettably, going out to the mall wasn't an option. A Claire's and a Limited Too just wasn't going to cut it. That meant she was going to have to partake in some online shopping. She prayed that they didn't charge customers a ridiculous amount of money for overnight shipping, but she knew she'd pay whatever they asked for. This was not a time for her to be stingy with money. Sure, she had intended to only charge a few hundred dollars on her parents' card and pay them back later, but the clothes could easily be…a late graduation present!
At the same moment that Jess typed in the credit card's serial number into Nordstorm's website, Seth shuddered in the booth. His friends gave him a look. It wasn't exactly cold in Santarpio's, their favorite pizza joint. Amazingly, his two best guy friends from Massachusetts had applied and gotten into Yale as well. They remained friends throughout college and often got together in the summer.
"Dude, are you okay," Jeff asked, genuinely concerned as he watched his friend's face turn an interesting shade of green.
"I told you we shouldn't have ordered anchovies," Lisa noted, elbowing Jeff in the side. Her boyfriend grunted and turned to glare down at her.
"Seth, I love you and all, but you had better not throw up on me," Ryden threatened, scooting away from Seth and looking at the man with hesitance.
He did feel sick, but he had heard Ryden perfectly clear. Tyson, his other friend, had a fairly good friendship with Ryden and had decided to invite her along without telling Seth. It had been quite the surprise to see her there, and he burst into a wide grin when Ryden chose to sit next to him. Tyson, Jeff, and Lisa were on the opposite bench and completely oblivious to their game of footsie. At least, that's what Seth wanted to call it. She could have been just kicking him on accident, but Seth opted not to see it that way. At the moment, he wanted to focus on the three precious words Ryden had just said and not the bruises developing around his ankles. He wondered idly if he could get her to say them again.
Ryden heard a disturbing rumbling sound come from Seth's stomach, and she just couldn't take it anymore. "No, there will be no vomit on my Marc Jacob dress tonight," she shrieked as she slid out of the bench, making sure to grab her Miller Lite first. She crossed her arms over her chest and refused to sit back down until Seth looked healthy again.
Seth silently cursed his stomach. His thigh had been centimeters away from hers when his stomach had turned evil and scared Ryden away. "I don't understand," he moaned. "We've eaten at Sanatarpio's a billion times, and I've never gotten sick before." A pain shot through his belly that made him want to grab his sides, but he refused to look weak in front of Ryden. Not that she would have noticed. Judging by the way she was swaying back and forth hazardously, he assumed she was a beyond tipsy.
Tyson examined his sick friend more closely, trying his best not to roll his eyes at his friend's obvious infatuation. "That is true," he agreed. "You even ate that pizza with the garlic and hot peppers without batting an eyelash. In fact, the last time I saw you get sick was when…"
"Your mother called you in the middle of Calc and said that somebody had stolen her identity," Jeff finished. "You were perfectly fine in class, but as soon as you hung up the phone, and it sunk it that some stranger had just blown $15,000 on a TV…"
"You shivered, turned green, and then started acting up just like you are now," Tyson completed.
Lisa looked up at Seth when she suddenly remembered something, too. "Then there was that night that Jeff and I got drunk at Beantown Pub last summer, and I decided to pay for a round for everyone at the bar. You weren't even in the room at the time, but we found you outside later throwing up on the brick walls which was odd because you were our designated driver," Lisa recounted. Her eyes grew wider and wider, and she began to bounce in her seat. "It's almost as if you have some premonition of when somebody's going to lose money, and you get physically sick."
Jeff scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous, Lisa," he said, elbowing her lightly in the belly.
Ryden got tired of standing (if that's what you choose to call it) and motioned for Lisa to scoot down so that she could have room. The boys groaned as they were smashed to the side; however, Seth didn't notice. "Do you honestly think that's true," he asked Lisa who nodded.
"Listen man, we don't know what's making you sick, but let's not just sit here and keep talking about it. You need to get your butt to the bathroom," Tyson said, jerking his head towards the toilets. He would rather not watch as his friend puked over their lovely pizza. There were still plenty of edible slices left.
Seth took Tyson's words of advice and stumbled back to the bathroom in a haze. For some reason, he thought Lisa may be right. He had chosen not to drink tonight in hopes of getting the chance to drive Ryden home (that's not called being desperate, it's called being opportunistic by the way), so it wasn't the alcohol that was getting him. He highly doubted that the fish had bothered him either. Lisa's theory may actually be sound, but that meant that someone close to him was in some financial crisis.
As he swung the men's bathroom door open, he checked his phone for missed calls and found none. He hated the idea that he'd end up waiting it out. He wanted to help prevent anything bad from happening not stand helpless in an empty bathroom. Realizing that he had no choice but to kill time until he received the dreaded phone call, he returned to his table to see that the two large pizzas they'd ordered had been completely devoured. This would make it the third time that somebody had eaten all his pizza, but he had to admit that Tyson and Jeff had nothing on Jess. She ate pizza like some kind of monster.
Noticing that Ryden had returned to her old seat, Seth chose to stand up so as not to bother her further. He reached in his back right pocket of his jeans to get out a couple of bucks so that he could pay for his share of the bill. His mouth was open to offer to pay for Ryden's share too when he realized that something very important was missing from his wallet. "Mr. Kalen's credit card is gone," he yelled.
"I was right," Lisa cheered, sticking her tongue out at Jeff who laughed at his girlfriend's childishness.
"This is serious, guys," Seth shouted, not understanding why or how his friends could be laughing at a time like this.
Tyson saw that his friend was on the verge of hyperventilating and decided to step in to help. Sometimes he wondered if Seth would have lived a better life if he'd chosen to get a degree in architecture or political science. Money always seemed to stress the man out. "Chill, Seth. Why don't you go and check to see if you dropped it in the bathroom? We'll take care of the bill and then look around the restaurant to look for it," he said calmly.
Seth appreciated that at least one of his friends was being sensible and left a little more relieved. Unfortunately, he was pulling out hairs when he came back, and he and his friends were empty handed. His mood was not improved when Tyson said he was leaving early to drop Ryden off at her friend's house. Seth knew that Ryden wasn't in any condition to stay-he didn't know how a girl could get that drunk from one watered down beer-and help, but he couldn't help feeling crushed that he wasn't the one driving her home. Could his day get any worse?
A few minutes after Tyson and Ryden left, the group and the restaurant's staff had officialy given up looking. Now Seth had his head resting on his steering wheel as he sat in the parking lot. How could he have been so irresponsible? This was something the Kalens had been trying to avoid. He didn't even understand where the card could have disappeared to (he was not going to say "stolen" quite yet). He'd spent most of the day at the pizza place with his friends, aside from the time he spent with Jess in the morning. Wait! Maybe it had fallen out while he had been in the shower? It was a possibility, and he clung onto that tiny shard of hope.
Seth yanked out his phone and called Jess's cell phone number, waiting anxiously as he heard the phone ring and ring and ring.
"Hello," he heard her say.
Seth let out a long breathe. "Thank God you answered. I was wondering if you could do me a favor," he said.
He heard a groan. "What do you need? I'm kind of busy, right now."
"Oh! That's right. Is your party still going on or are you at your house now?"
"Seth, would you date a girl wearing Converse or would you prefer heels?"
Seth frowned. Boy was this girl random. "Umm heels, I guess. Listen, are you home? This is important."
"I thought you would say that." He heard her sigh. "Well there were those shoes I saw on page two. They were kind of cute."
Seth shook his head, quickly growing annoyed at being ignored. "Are you home or not, Jess?"
"I'm at home. Where else would I be?"
Maybe this was pointless. It was more than obvious that the girl was distracted and would be absolutely incapable of looking for the credit card herself. He would be better off driving over to her house himself. "Never mind, I'm just going to come over there."
"Sure. W-wait, what?!?!"
Seth rolled his eyes, hung up his phone, and started his car.
Jess had never experienced heart burn before, but the pain in her chest certainly resembled a fire. She berated herself for not paying better attention to Seth. It was just that the neon green Converse had looked so perfect/fierce/marvelous/epic, and she was trying to figure out what shirt she could wear with it when Seth called. Now he was coming back to the house for some random reason, and Jess had to get ready for his return.
Seth had reminded her that she was supposed to be at some geeky Guitar Hero party dressed up as a psycho guitarist. How was she going to pull that off when she didn't even own mascara (nor know how to apply it)?
Option A: Pretend that the party had ended early and she'd gotten home with enough time to change out of her costume.
Problem: Seth had asked for pictures before he had left that morning (gah!) and might ask for photo evidence which she clearly wouldn't have.
Option B: Say that the party had been canceled.
Problem: Seth would wonder why she hadn't called him for food all day. Sure, in reality she had actually skipped breakfast and lunch, but the likelihood that Seth would believe that Jess had willingly chosen not to eat a meal was zero. Especially not after last night when she'd eaten the majority of the pizza for lunch and dinner, too.
Option C: Do some experimenting and trust that things magically turn out perfectly in the end.
After hunting around in her parents' bathroom, Jess found some eye shadow, lip gloss, blush, and nail polish in her mother's drawers. Jess desperately wished that she knew how far away Seth was so she could plan things out. If she had been given a good twenty minutes, some YouTube user could have easily taught her how to use this junk, but it looked like she would have to manage on her own.
Jess looked down at some mini brush and plopped it down into the light pink blush, swirling it around until she saw the powder transfer over to the brown bristles. Not knowing how to precede, she just brought the brush up to her cheeks and made big circles. Next was the eye shadow. The container provided the option of cream, black, lavender, and purple powder, except the makeup company insisted on calling the colors complicated names like Ice Princess 233. Whatever. She took the tiny black brush and plopped it into the lavender before bringing it up to her eyelid. After that disaster was over, she developed a fond respect for all women who could properly apply eye shadow. She didn't understand how anybody could put on that makeup with both their eyes closed; as it was, Jess had done an awful job. Blind, Jess had put eyeliner mostly above her eyebrow (don't ask questions) and missed her right eyelid entirely. There was no point in trying to redo it, so she moved onto lip gloss hoping that it would be as easy to handle as ChapStick. "Freedom of Peach" was the shade she had apparently chosen because evidently "peach" wasn't good enough of a name. She rolled her eyes as she twisted the top off the lip gloss. Great! There was some stupid wand brush in there, something ChapStick definitely did not have. Thankfully, she was able to use the mirror and both of her eyes to use the wand to paint her lips. She didn't do so badly with that compared to other things…
Eventually Jess returned to her room and opened up her intolerable closet. She tugged out a denim mini skirt that she hadn't worn in ages and a red glittery tank top her mom had bought her several years ago for Halloween. Let's just say that she'd been a pretty pathetic looking Spice Girl and leave it at that, but she couldn't really complain about her top. It was the most reasonable selection given her limited choices.
After she put on the clothes, she knew that knee high socks and her black Converse were absolutely necessary. As for her hair, Jess quickly used some hair ties to make two ponytails. Personally, she thought she could pass as a video game character. The complete look took her twelve minutes and a handful of seconds which was perfect because Seth rang the doorbell exactly two minutes later.
A/N: Mr. Review Button is getting brainwashed by the Match . com commercials. I need help persuading him that FictionPress is the only site he needs. Drop him a message.
Don't feel like writing to Mr. RB? Afraid all these messages will go to his head and make him a bit conceited? You can write to me, too. I'm debating whether or not Seth should discover Jess's plans to fly off to California. What do you think?