"Please Anita! Just one little inch!" I begged my brother's girlfriend and my best friend. Anita sighed and shook her head, before pushing the dress out of her face.
"'Nardo's orders," she stated simply.
I huffed. "And you listen to my brother?"
Anita smiled and shook her head. "Do you really want a bunch of American boys staring at your chest?"
I laughed sadly. "What chest?" I asked, gesturing at my relatively flat chest in exasperation.
"I'm sorry, Maria," Anita apologised, putting my dress down on the table. I glared at it, just sitting there. I swore it was mocking me. Look at how little girly I am it seemed to be singing.
"At least let me dye it red," I wheedled.
"No Maria!" Anita gasped, her black curls bouncing.
"But why?" I whined.
"Try it on at least," Anita groaned. "You never know, it may look better when you actually put it on."
"I doubt it," I muttered, but picked the dress up and marched over to the mirror. Anita smiled as I put the dress over my head. Preparing myself for the worst, I took a peek in the mirror. I gasped at what I saw there.
It was in no way possible that the girl staring at me in wonder was me. This girl was tall, her dark brown hair brushing her shoulders. She was wearing a white dress that came down to her knees, and came in at her waist, before puffing out slightly, separated by a thin red belt. The dress showed off curves I never knew I had, and showed the tiniest amount of cleavage. This was no girl; this was a woman. And this woman was me.
"Oh, Anita, thank you!" I gasped and gave her a hug.
"Maria, you look beautiful!" Anita squealed when we pulled apart.
"Yes, she does," came a voice from the doorway. I turned and saw Bernado, dressed smartly in a purple and black suit, followed by Chino, my soon-to-be fiancée. I pushed that thought away, as the mere idea made me want to hurl, and instead focused on my brother.
"Thank you, 'Nardo," I gushed, jumping into his awaiting arms. Anita coughed.
"And what about me?" she teased. Bernado smiled, and walked towards her, opening his arms wide to embrace her. Anita giggled and ducked out of his way, before skipping around the shop. I watched in amusement as Bernado attempted to chase her, laughing the whole time. Eventually, he caught her and swung her around in his arms, making Anita squeal in delight. Bernado was the only person who could make Anita this way. I couldn't help but feel jealous when I saw them, so sure of the other's love. It was something I badly wanted for myself, but something that I would never have with Chino.
But tonight would be a new beginning, as I became an American lady once and for all. And who knew, perhaps something good would happen? I really hope so.
I looked in the mirror, struggling to tie my tie. I heard Melody giggle behind me, and felt her come and stand beside me and watch, smirking as I continued to struggle. After a few minutes, she decided to take pity on me, and prised the tie gently out of my hands. I smiled gratefully at her as she began to tie it.
"What would the Jets think if they knew their fearsome leader didn't know how to tie a puny little tie?" she teased when she had finished.
"Probably how lucky I am to have you," I murmured. Melody looked up at me, her blue eyes shining brightly, and smiled, her whole face lighting up. It was true; I was incredibly lucky to have someone who loved me, despite all of my flaws. And not only that, but she was incredibly pretty, with her long dark hair and deep blue eyes, as well as being an awesome fighter; easily beating every single Jet. It was why I loved her.
I leant down and captured her lips with my own. No matter how many times we kissed, I would never get over how warm her lips were, or how perfectly they fit with mine. Yeah yeah, tease all you want, but even a Jet has a heart. After a few minutes, we pulled away, gasping for air.
"I love you Riff," she whispered.
"That's good, 'cause I love you too," I smiled.
I stepped back and took in what she was wearing for the first time. In all the time I had known Mel, I had never seen her in a dress. But today…Wow! She was wearing a dress with a yellow top and dark blue skirt down to her knees, the skirt cinching in at her waist before puffing out again. Don't ask me how I know these things…just don't. Mel didn't need heels, and was wearing bright yellow pumps. Her hair was loose, a black wave cascading over her shoulders.
Mel noticed me staring. "What?" she asked confused.
"You look beautiful," I breathed.
Mel blushed. "Well, you don't look so bad yourself mister." I grinned, and held out my arm for her to take.
"Shall we, Miss Melody?" I asked in a fake posh voice.
"We shall, Mister Riff," she replied in an equally fake accent, and looped her arm through mine. Together, we walked through the door and into the cold New York night.
We arrived outside of the gym, and could hear the music coming from within. There were people milling about the entrance, and Riff and I had to push our way through to get in the door. I cringed when I saw the other girls, dressed to the nines. But you're not just any girl! You're a Jet! Walk tall! I reminded myself.
The inside of the gym was unrecognisable. Gone was the drab work out area, replaced by blaring lights and streamers and banners hanging on the walls. The rest of the Jets were already there, dancing to an upbeat song. Riff held out his hand, and I took it, letting him lead me to the dance floor. Contrary to popular belief, Riff and I were surprisingly good dancers. My ma had forced me to go to gymnastics and ballet every week. 'Course, it wasn't long after that my dad was sent to jail, but…
Anyways, we got into the swing of things quickly. Riff spun me around, and caught me on the return. Suddenly, a gasp filled the air. I followed Riff's annoyed gaze, to see the Sharks and their "girls" standing in the doorway. Bernado was at the front, with Anita, and behind I saw Chino, with a girl I had never seen before. Bernado ignored our glares, and started introducing the girl to some PR's who had gathered by the door.
"And these are my friends Rosalia and Indio," Bernado was pointing at each person. Someone nudged his shoulder, and he turned away from the girl and glared at us. The Sharks grouped together and stared at us. We stared right back, and started edging forward threateningly.
"Well, hello boys and girls," a far too happy sounding voice sang. I groaned, and looked at the short man who had come between us. Glad Hand; the social worker. He was balding and middle aged by the looks of things. I saw the sheen of sweat on his forehead and smirked. We were making him nervous.
"We are here today to make new friends." I snickered. Yeah right. "So how about we have a get together dance?"
Immediately, a group of boys from either side joined hands and started to tango. Glad Hand glared at them and they stopped and re-joined their gang.
Smiling, Glad Hand stuttered, "S-so, make t-t-two circ-c-cles; girls on the inside and boys on the outside."
"Hey, which one are you?" Snowboy called, causing everyone to chuckle.
"Very funny (!)" Glad Hand said. Everyone looked at him; no one moved to do as he'd asked. Glad Hand sighed and looked at us pleadingly. "Well, it can't hurt to try, can it?"
Immediately, I staggered into the clearing, clutching at my stomach. "Ooh, it hurts! It hurts!" I groaned. I stopped in the middle and straightened up, smiled innocently, before retreating to stand next to Riff's laughing form. Glad Hand smiled sarcastically at me. I grinned back.
Riff and Bernado caught each other's eye, daring the other to move first. I grabbed Riff's hand and squeezed it reassuringly. He looked down at me, questioning. Shall we? He seemed to be asking me. I nodded, before looking up and glaring at Bernado. Together, Riff and I stepped forward and he led me over to the clearing. I smiled at him as the Jets whooped. Bernado grinned, and walked forward, before standing next to Riff. He held out his hand, gesturing for Anita to join him. After a moment's hesitation, she lifted her skirt and skipped forward, stopping when she was in front of her boyfriend. The Sharks jeered. Riff and I signalled for the Jets to join us, whilst Bernado did the same for the Sharks. Soon the Sharks and Jets were part of the circle.
"I knew you could do it," Glad Hand smiled, causing me to roll my eyes. "Girls to my left and boys to my right."
The music started, and we hesitantly began to walk around our circles. I glared at the PR woman in front of me, and knew that Anita was behind me. I was sandwiched between two people that I hated the guts of. Great (!) Suddenly the music stopped and I looked at my partner. He was a PR. Riff was standing next to him and staring at his partner, who was a Shark girl, uncertainly. I met his eyes, questioningly.
What should we do?
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