A/N: Just a heads-up: if you encountered any particular type of content in the last story, then chances are you'll find it here too. You have been warned!
That being said, you can rest assured that you'll find no mature content in this introduction.
Chapter 1: The Ultimate Reunion:
I feel my breath catch as I run a hand along the sleeve of a well-pressed dolphin-gray sport-coat, the mannequin wearing it positioned in the rear of the Brooks Brothers at my local galleria. The suit itself looks incredibly handsome, but it's nowhere near as handsome as the man I'm buying it for. That man is none other than Trevor Bordeaux, the one who had acted as my savior during a time when I'd been living a bleak existence. The one who had allowed me to give up a life of poverty, homelessness, and countless one-night stands with complete strangers in exchange for cash.
He's the sixth and best boyfriend (and now fiancé) I've ever had, bar none, with his combination of looks and personality. Being the nerd that he is, he can't dress himself in anything better than flannels, jeans, and the occasional graphic tee. So whenever I get the chance to show him off at neighborhood parties, it usually falls on me to buy him nice clothes so he can look more presentable. The suit I'm picking out for him isn't for our wedding (that's not for at least another six months), but rather for the wedding of my best friend Katrina Vicciotelli tomorrow, for which I've been appointed as a bridesmaid. Somehow, even after all these years, we've managed to get back in touch, and once the wedding rolls around, I'll finally be able to catch up with her properly.
Luckily for me, I've managed to find a whole rack of suits in Trevor's size, though I'm still deciding on which one to pick. I've already ruled out black, blue, and gray - too traditional for my tastes. Brown might blend in with his shoulder-length hair and look beyond awkward. White, off-white, and other vivid colors will make him stick out like a red M&M in a bowl of grits. And patterns would be too mature for a guy of his age. I eventually settle on a burnt sienna suit covered in horizontal and vertical lines of an even darker shade. It's a nice compromise between all my requirements.
After paying for the suit, I exit the store and stride back towards the parking garage. Along the way, I pass by Victoria's Secret, where one of the lingerie sets catches my eye. Each cup on the bra is themed after a different anime, as are the front and back of the panties. And since the whole set is reversible, this most likely means even more shows are represented here. The set is finished off with pink lace along the edges, and the mannequin it's being displayed on seems similar to me in terms of height and measurements. I can't help but crack a small but genuine smile at the sight of this, wondering how Trevor would react if he were to see me wearing this one night. But I ultimately ignore the set and keep walking, as our sex life is simply not big enough to warrant such a purchase. Plus, the damn thing costs forty bucks.
I finally make the drive back home in the rusty red Toyota we both share. Our homely, two-story house is located in a neighborhood just five miles outside of New Orleans. A small wooden shack called Mama Bleu's is situated halfway between the two locales that acts as a fried catfish joint, where I briefly stop to pick up tonight's dinner. Upon arrival, I park the car in the driveway and head up the cobbled walkway to the front door. Just a week ago, the walkway had been surrounded and almost completely obscured by overgrown day-lilies. I've always found the flowers to be beautiful, but the crowns of greenery are hideous and spread out everywhere, which makes them highly uncomfortable to walk around during warmer weather. There's just something so off-putting to me about having plant life brush against my exposed skin. Thankfully, though, Trevor had been kind enough to uproot them and replant them in the backyard, replacing them with some generic boxwood shrubbery.
"Hello?" I call out upon entering the front door, only to receive no answer.
I shrug and close the door behind me. As nice as our house is, it tends to feel pretty lonely whenever just one of us is home. Both Trevor and I have considered adopting a household dog or cat, but seeing how our backyard leads directly out into the bayou, the risk of it getting killed by a gator is quite high. With tuxedo in hand, I - after setting the warm paper bag on the kitchen table - head upstairs to the master suite. It's one of very few rooms in the house that's not peppered with any of Trevor's anime and/or video game merchandise. Opening the door reveals Trevor himself, who's currently in the midst of packing for our trip. On sight, he immediately gives me a courteous smile.
"Oh, there you are. Didn't hear you come in." He says honestly.
"Yeah, well I'm back. And I got you a suit for the wedding." I reply matter-of-factly, holding up my purchase.
Trevor does nothing more than adopt a slightly skeptical look at the sight of it. He usually does this whenever I give him something formal to wear, though his expression admittedly isn't as pronounced as it normally would be.
"Trust me. You'll look great in it." I continue in a tone of sincerity.
"If you say so." Trevor replies, "And it just so happens I got something for you as well. I heard that not only will we be staying at a country-club, but the groom also lives in a mansion, so the chances of us getting some pool time are pretty high."
Immediately, he holds up a hanger. Dangling from it is a pure white crocheted bikini with mint green (referring to the plant, not the toothpaste) along the edges of both halves. The whole thing just screams eyesore. In an instant, I can feel blood rush to every inch of my body, getting trapped directly beneath my epidermis and causing me to blush a brilliant shade of cranberry. For my entire life, I've always been a rather thick-set and curvy woman - still at a healthy weight according to my doctors, but lightly marbled with fat nonetheless. Trevor often tells me that it only adds to my beauty, but I nevertheless find it uncomfortable to expose my body anywhere outside the bedroom, and whenever I get to visit a pool or beach, one-pieces and tankinis are always my go-to options.
"Er... thanks, Trevor." I stutter.
"Take it from me, Roxy. You've lost a considerable amount of weight since we got engaged. I'm sure you'll look stunning in this." Trevor insists.
I can't help it - his flattery wins me over once again. I nod and accept his gift with a small smile, before I start to assist with the packing. After making sure Trevor doesn't pack his new suit too carelessly, I slip my new swimwear into my suitcase (mentally telling myself to wear it at least once) alongside a couple of more conservative alternatives.
"Y'know, suddenly something smells really good." Trevor comments.
"Yeah, well I figured I'd pick up dinner on the way back." I reply honestly, "I stopped at Mama Bleu's in case you were wondering."
"Oh, sure. I don't mind." Trevor replies, "I still have yet to find a place with fried catfish anywhere near as good as theirs."
"Tell me about it." I reply, nodding in agreement.
Our conversation continues as we near the end of the packing process.
"So, remind me again. Whose wedding is this?" Trevor asks.
"It's my best friend, Katrina. I don't know who the groom is, but apparently he's pretty wealthy and owns a lot of businesses. A likable version of Trump, if you will." I explain, "I'm not sure how, but somehow she managed to contact me after all these years of not speaking at all. I dunno about you, but I'm excited as all hell."
The next day, we arrive in Big Sky, Montana, where we then have to rent a car and drive over to a small, tight-knit, and extremely well-hidden town by the name of Kicksburg. We only have a couple of hours before the wedding starts, so after dropping our bags off in the room and hurriedly changing into formal attire, we don't hesitate to rush over to the ceremony. The country club where we'll be staying is also the location where the event takes place, and it's located on the outskirts of said town.
Upon arrival, I have to separate from Trevor, as I happen to be one of the bridesmaids. I've arrived just in time to walk up the aisle, and I join the others in a single-file line. Sitting in the same row as them, I briefly examine everyone. The dresses we're wearing are all the same in that they're all made of silk in a deep violet color, but as far as individual dresses go, each woman's differs greatly in terms of fit and cut. I recognize one of the bridesmaids as Priscilla, Katrina's elder sister by about seven years, even though they look as though they could be twins. The only way to visually discern the two is by their different tastes in fashion and the color of their eyes (Priscilla's are violet, while Katrina's are a vivid green). I briefly think back to the days when Katrina and I had been kids, in which Priscilla would often poke fun at us and torment us in various childish ways. I'm silently glad she hasn't noticed me sitting down in the same row as her, as there's a chance she might recognize me and start some sort of beef.
The wedding ceremony takes about fifteen minutes, and even though I actively pay attention to it, I can hardly see anything, as I'm considerably shorter than most of the people surrounding me. Even after all the guests are let loose to mingle and enjoy the festivities, it takes me a short while to find the pair of newly-weds. When I finally pick them out from the crowd, I notice Trevor shaking hands with the groom, and clinging onto the latter's arm is just the girl I'm looking for. I don't even need to say anything upon approaching them, as I'm quickly recognized.
"Well if it ain't Ms. Roxanne Romano! I honestly couldn't recognize you with all those highlights! How've ya' been?!" Katrina asks eagerly, her Brooklyn accent twice as thick as mine, and without the twinge of New Orleans dialect.
"Oh, I've been fine!" I partially lie, "Man, look how big you've gotten over the years!"
"I know, right?! 5'10", and I ain't even wearin' heels!" Katrina replies, still grinning widely, "Meanwhile, Priscilla over there somehow managed to reach 6'1"!"
"... And I'm still at 4'10". As has been the case since ninth grade." I sigh half-jokingly.
"I take it you know this man?" Katrina asks in a sudden change of topic.
"Er, yes. Roxanne here is my..." Trevor chimes in.
"Girlfriend!" I quickly cut him off, "... Yeah, Trevor and I have been dating for about... uh, two years."
"You're not serious." Katrina says, glancing at Trevor before adopting a smug grin, "Well damn! You sure know how to pick 'em!"
"I wouldn't say you're half-bad at it either." I reply, "Isn't she, um... what's your name?"
"Well I don't like to brag, but the name's Mark Simmons." The groom replies, gently shaking my hand.
"Nice to meet you, but uh, I'm afraid your wife and I have some catching up to do. Don't worry, you'll get her back before the night ends!" I say cheekily as my best friend and I walk off.
We eventually settle down at a stone wall just outside the cluster of white tents where the aftermath of the wedding is taking place. The sky has transformed from cerulean to tangerine-orange, and a few stars and even the moon are faintly visible. Katrina is the the first to sit down on the wall, removing her veil as she gives me a warm smile. Her form-fitting, diamond-flecked wedding dress doesn't stop that far below her wide hips, so she quickly adjusts it so it still covers her while she sits, simultaneously tugging on the upper edge so she doesn't accidentally flash me. To put it lightly, I'm amazed at the sight before me. Katrina looks almost exactly the way she did as a child. It's the jet-black beehive and avocado eyes obviously, but overall I'd say she hasn't physically aged much between fifteen and twenty-something - not counting the increase in height and the additional body parts that come with puberty. Looking even closer, only now do I notice that there are some more subtle things that differentiate her from her sister: her skin is a shade or two darker, and her chest and rear are about twenty-five percent larger.
"I have to ask again. Is that really you I'm staring at?" I ask jokingly, "Sorry, but I'm still not used to seeing you as an adult."
"And vice-versa. Heh, seems like only yesterday you were that naive but lovable twelve-year-old that my other friends would make fun of me for hangin' out with." Katrina replies, "Gotta say, puberty treated me pretty damn well. I take it that was the case with you too? Cause ya' kinda' left before I could see it happen to ya'."
"Left?" I ask in a brief moment of blankness.
"Y'know, after your parents died? Unless my memory's playin' tricks on me, you were relocated to New Orleans afterwards." Katrina explains, "I'm truly sorry for your loss, by the way."
"Oh, that? It's fine, really." I reply, "But yeah, it wasn't as bad as some adolescents say it is. I remember I got an unusually large amount of acne during my senior year of high school. I didn't get my first period until it was about sixteen, but since then it's been irregular and unpredictable, so I just use birth-control to skip it."
"Fun fact: Priscilla and I used to be on the same cycle, but ever since high school, we've been weeks apart." Katrina chuckles.
"Well no wonder she always seemed to be so crabby whenever we interacted back in the day." I chuckle as well, "Or maybe it was always part of her personality."
"Well seeing how she still acts like that sometimes, I'd say the second option's slightly more accurate." Katrina replies, "But enough about puberty. Let's chat about how adult life's treatin' us."
"Well I'd say it's pretty obvious what you're going through, so we don't need to spend too much time on that." I reply lightheartedly, "But as for me, I've finished high school, I'm slowly carving my way through college, I got a job as a waitress, I met Trevor two years ago, and we've been living together in New Orleans for one year."
"That ain't too shabby." Katrina replies, "By the way, you'd better promise to make me the bridesmaid of honor whenever you two decide to get married!"
"Not too shabby?! I'd say I've got it good!" I say in a jokingly angry tone, "Oh, so because you've just gotten married to a rich guy, you suddenly feel the need to be so condescending?!"
As I wrap up my response, I lightly punch Katrina's bare arm, eliciting an effeminate giggle.
"Oh, quit being so sensitive!" Katrina replies, yanking me under her arm and using her right hand to tousle my hair for a few seconds, "Clearly you haven't matured completely since I last saw you!"
"Oh, really?" I ask sarcastically.
Giggling, I wrench myself out of her grip and crack a smile, before we half-wrestle for a minute or so. Our playful bout only ends as Katrina's left breast pops out of her dress, shocking both of us. She quickly readjusts herself with a mad blush, and we both can't help but laugh. A good ten minutes pass by in which we keep laughing hysterically and hugging each other the whole time. In particular, I happen to be the most ecstatic I've been in a long time. I mean, how could I not be? I've been reunited with my childhood friend after countless years, and I've learned that her life away from me has been a good one. From now on, I swear I'll never let myself lose contact with her again.