May fidgeted in front of the bedroom mirror.
“I’m having second thoughts about this dress,” she yelled, frowning at her reflection.
“What do you mean?” Em shouted back from the bathroom where she was getting ready. “What’s wrong with it?”
There wasn’t time to respond; Em was already trotting up the stairs.
“It’s kind of tight, don’t you think?” she asked as Em’s face peeped through the doorway.
Out of the corner of her eye she could see Em’s face light up at the sight of her, shaking her head in earnest. “First of all, you were very excited about that dress ten minutes ago. Second of all, I definitely don’t think it’s too tight.”
May groaned. “You know what I mean. I don’t want to look trashy or anything.”
“You do not look trashy,” Em assured, stepping into the room. “It’s a classy dress and you’re a babe in it. Although if you insist on changing, I volunteer to help you undress.”
“Pervert.” May turned to shoot her a teasing look but fell short when she saw what Em wore. Given that there weren’t many occasions to get dressed up in the backcountry, Em didn’t have a dress of her own. Nothing in May’s closet would have fit Em’s hourglass figure. They reached out to Lenaia, who had been delighted by both the chance to play dress-up and at the fact both girls would be at the gala.
Lenaia’s little black dress clung to Em’s curves perfectly; its delicate straps and plunging neckline sent a blush racing across May’s cheeks.
“I see you checking me out,” Em grinned.
“You really fill that thing out,” May replied, laughing weakly. “You look fantastic.”
Em looked like a pinup. Her long hair was curled into starlet waves. A pair of blood-red lips smiled back at May.
“This dress does great things for my tits,” Em agreed, looking down at herself and nodding in approval.
May pursed her lips, trying to hide her smile as Em stepped up behind her. She slid her hands around May’s hips, locking eyes with her in the mirror.
“Don’t be like that,” she whispered into May’s ear without breaking eye contact. “I know you like them too.”
Em’s hands slipped lower as she pressed herself into May’s back, leaving a trail of slow kisses down her neck. It left May aching in all the right places.
“We’ve gotta go,” May quavered.
Em hummed quietly. She nuzzled into May’s hair, fingertips inching their way to the hem of her dress. “Would it really be the end of the world if we were a few minutes late?”
It took every ounce of willpower for May to turn and face her.
“Tell you what.” She wrapped her arms around Em’s neck. “We leave now, and I promise to take you up on your offer when we get back.”
Em raised an eyebrow. “To help you out of that dress?”
May nodded. Em brought her face closer, lips close enough to kiss. She paused with barely a whisper of space between them.
“Deal,” she purred before pulling away and sashaying toward the door.
“That wasn’t very nice,” May pouted.
Em tossed her hair over her shoulder and looked back. “You’re not the only one who knows how to tease, darling.”
Grinning broadly, May turned back to the mirror as Em slipped back downstairs. Looking at it again, she found the dress fit just fine.
Mr. Anoki’s grand beach-side home was already alight with festivity by the time the girls made their way up the front steps. May felt the confidence and flirtatious ardor from earlier disappear at the thought of opening the door. She willed her hand forward and paused.
“What’s the matter, Maybe?” Em felt May’s nervous energy and gave her hand an encouraging squeeze in response.
May looked to Em, her eyes shining. “I can’t do this,” she whispered.
“Of course you can, babe,” Em coaxed gently. “It’s just a party with a bunch of people you already know. You’ve been looking forward to this!”
But May didn’t have to say anything for Em to know it was more than that. May’s eyes searched hers desperately. Em knew she had to swallow her pride.
“We’ll tell them we’re just friends,” Em said.
“Em…” May’s lip quivered dangerously.
There was nothing else to say; Em hit the nail on the head. May wasn’t as ready for the world to know the truth about them as she had originally let on. Em was glad May didn’t ask her if she was sure; she didn’t want to have to lie. Besides, it wasn’t as if they had talked about what was going on between them. Were they dating? Or where they just friends who fucked?
Either way, Em knew it didn’t matter right now. Helping May feel safe outweighed the hurt. Smiling reassuringly, she reached out and knocked on the door.
As the sound of approaching footsteps sounded from inside, Em gave May’s hand one last squeeze.
“By the way, your ass looks amazing in that dress,” she whispered with a wink, releasing May’s hand just as the door opened.
“It’s about time you girls showed up!” Lenaia squealed, pulling them both into a tight group hug. She looked dazzling as ever, draped in a gown of shimmering sequins.
Lenaia eyed Em approvingly. “Was I right about that dress or what?”
“I doubt I’ve ever looked hotter,” Em conceded.
“What I wouldn’t give for tits like yours,” Lenaia grumbled before turning her attention to May. “So, what am I telling people? Are you ladies here as friends or-”
“Friends,” May blurted, her expression tense.
Lenaia’s eyes flicked to Em and back again. “Right… Well, dinner should be served soon, so you’re just in time. But you might want to take care of that lipstick on your neck before we go in.”
May’s face blanched. Mortified, she stood rooted while Em quickly wiped the incriminating red smear from her skin.
“Don’t worry,” Lenaia said, her voice hushed as she stepped aside to let them inside. “Your secret is safe with me.”
May wasn’t sure what she had been expecting; a hush to fall over the room? Dozens of pairs of eyes turning in unison to scrutinize her and Em as they entered? Whatever drama she anticipated was all in her head; the opulent joint sitting and dinning room was packed with chattering people, hardly any of whom paid a moment’s notice as Lenaia ushered the girls into the crowd.
“I’m on door duty,” Lenaia griped through a gritted smile, waving someone over from the other side of the room. “I’ll see you both at dinner, okay?”
As she stepped away, a sharply dressed man breezed into the space she left behind.
“May!” he exclaimed, embraced her warmly. “I was beginning to worry you weren’t going to make it.”
He led them both to the dining table and introduced himself to Em as none other than Mr. Anoki himself. She did her best to hide her surprise at how much younger he was than she had imagined as she thanked him for letting her tag along.
“Of course!” Anoki beamed. “Delighted to have you.” He turned to May, giving her shoulder a light touch. “And so thrilled to have you back at our table, May. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish rounding up the guests. Dinner will be served shortly, enjoy the wine!”
The party drifted to the table, finding their seats amid loud conversations and laughter. One of the girls from the group May danced with during the concert struck up a conversation with her. Em watched, smiling fondly, relieved to see May loosening up and enjoying herself at last.
Em had just reached out for her glass when she caught sight of Lenaia through the crowd, wordlessly trying to get her attention. She looked panicked, pointing as subtly as she could at May.
Em gave her elbow a nudge.
“I think Lenaia is trying to get your attention.”
May looked up just as the last of the guests filtered into the room, brought up by the band Lenaia was friends with. Em recognized every face except one.
She glanced beside her to find the blood had drained from May’s face. She looked as if she was going to be sick.
“No,” she whispered, a single syllable drenched with fear.
“What’s wrong?” Em asked, hushed. She watched Lenaia mouth the words I’m so sorry over the newcomer’s shoulder.
May’s wide eyes met Em’s.
Banner art by @blushmallet