"I am not wearing that," I said, surprised my brain could function after such an absurd suggestion.
"Yes, Sydney, you are," Repeated Rose firmly.
"No, I'm not!" I argued, refusing to back down in my adamant refusal of the dress. Admittedly, it was a gorgeous gown… For someone like Jill, or Queen Vasilisa. Not some slightly overweight, plain girl with absolutely no social skills. To my surprise, I wished that Adrian were here. He would back me up, probably insisting that the colour, whilst I may dislike it, was fine, but the gown was too far out of my comfort zone. He would encourage me to wear it, but when I refused he would sigh and hold up a more reserved dress in the same shade.
But Adrian hadn't spoken to me since the plane flight. And although he wasn't moping around anymore like he promised, he still avoided me wherever he could. Meanwhile, I was left worrying about him and hoping he wasn't drowning his sorrows in alcohol, women and cigarettes, and wishing that we could just slip back into our old routine of friendly banter.
Lost in thought as I was, I hadn't noticed as the girl's had begun to slip the dress over my head. I only noticed when Jill lifted my arms up to slide the dress on.
"No, I said I wasn't wearing it!" I moaned, put out that a vampire had distracted me so easily.
"But look how good it looks on you," Jill whined. I gave myself a once-over in the mirror. The gown was a pale blue, more of a colour than I usually wore but acceptable, nonetheless. It was sleeveless, with a fitted bodice and billowing skirts. Around the bodice were intricate silver lilies, woven together here and there, and a chain of lilies linking down the mesh overlay where it crossed the front of the skirt.
The girls, as I had been watching the dress, had neatly and professionally spun my hair into an artfully messy bun. My golden lily had been covered up before I got here, but now they had added blush to my cheeks and you would never guess there was ever anything on my cheek. The bun had a diamond lily clip holding it in place, and a silver cross had replaced my gold one. As a finishing touch Jill slipped three thin silver bangles onto my right wrist and both girls stepped back, admiring their handiwork.
I sighed, though, as I looked at the stilettos the girls had laid out for me. They wouldn't rest until I walked out of the room in them, but I would almost certainly return home with something broken.
I jumped at a knock on the door.
Jill smiled knowingly, crossing the room to open the door, and I turned to find myself staring into the impossibly green eyes of Adrian Ivashkov.
"Wow, Sage, God, you look… beautiful," He said, grasping the side of the mantle in order to remain upright. I was struck both by the effect I had had on him and by the compliment. Although it wasn't "Like light made into flesh," I found that I preferred the one simple word. It didn't mean I was sexy, it didn't mean I was flawless; it didn't hide any other intentions other than to admire.
Jill and Rose hurried out, giggling to themselves about something as they went to get themselves ready, leaving me with Adrian.
"Would you like to come in?" I offered, and he nodded, wandering in and falling onto my bed.
"You have a habit of making yourself at home, you know," I commented as I sat on the couch chair, facing the bed.
"That colour suits you," Adrian commented as he stared at me. Unnerved by his intensity, I tried to change the subject.
"Well, I'm glad, because I'm seriously worried I'm going to faint from lack oxygen,"
"I'd catch you, you know," Adrian replied instantly, and he sounded so sincere that I found myself believing him.
"I need to get going," I said eventually, "Actually, you do as well. Otherwise we'll be late for Sonya's wedding,"
Adrian nodded and stood, opening the door for me. I nodded my thanks and tried to ignore the butterflies in my stomach as we walked towards the garden.