Author's note: This story is hard to categorize. Without giving away too much, it contains straight sex, group sex, voyeurism, a little bit of self-pleasure, a little bit of exhibition, humor, grudges, nostalgia, longtime crushes, memory lanes, and ten years of pent-up attraction between a boy-turned-man and our female protagonist. More than anything, though, it contains love, and for this reason, I file it under Romance. Enjoy!
Lily had her chance to escape it. To resist that seductive draw to revisit a past that she didn't entirely like and flaunt her ugly duckling tale. She could have ignored the letter. The email. The Facebook invitation. Her flight was refundable and she could afford to lose the deposit on her hotel room.
As she stepped off the elevator and headed for the ballroom of the Marriott, she saw them staring -- classmates who couldn't connect the old Lily with the new, dates who wondered why she was there alone. She sauntered through the lobby feeling taller than her 5'2" frame, confident in her short green dress and sparkling clutch purse. Husbands earned elbows to the ribs. Wives vowed to start using gym memberships that had gone idle. And all of it fed an ego that Lily rarely acknowledged she had.
She ran her fingers through her loose, auburn hair, shaking it out around her pale shoulders. She felt the room arch and flex. So did her conviction. This was an unexpected turn on. Until that moment of revelation, she could have left it all behind and gone home. Now, she was caught.
"Welcome back to Good Shepherd High." The woman seated behind the check-in table recognized her, adding a knowing wink to her jaunty smile. "Well, hello there, Lily Noland!"
"Hello, Suzy." Despite the entrance, her enthusiasm was a little stiff. That would improve by the end of the night. Drinks would help. "You look good."
Lily winced at the bald-faced lie, but Suzy seemed to take it in stride. The former editor of the yearbook and president of the graduating class, who'd put on a few pounds, just smiled and said, "You've never been a good liar. You, on the other hand, really do look good." Suzy appraised Lily's slender elegance and Lily felt oddly apologetic. She picked up Lily's nametag, decorated with her senior yearbook photo and current profession (medical doctor), and smiled. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were an impostor."
Cringing at the black and white image of her former self, Lily asked, "Why the old photos?"
"Oh, please. You know that's why you're here. Now go on and impress."
"Go on!" Suzy giggled, sending her through the double doors and into the high-ceilinged ballroom with an extra bounce in her step.
The ten-year reunion of Good Shepherd High School's Class of 2001 was held at the same hotel as its senior year prom. This was done by design. The planners liked the symmetry involved. Two ceremonial nights on either side of their growing years, when teens became adults.
Unfortunately, Lily never made it to senior prom. She imagined what it would have been like, but only after the fact. She imagined going with Jack Waldrup, her childhood friend and unrequited crush. She imagined the dancing, the cheesy photo in front of the muslin-draped backdrop. The virginity-losing later that night.
Jack had taken a better offer: going to prom with the prom queen, Adele Blanchette. And from the way he'd raved about the crazy antics they'd gotten up to after prom, even Lily had to admit he'd probably made the right choice -- from a strictly male teenager perspective, anyway. That was also moments before she'd made him aware of her feelings, slapped him, and told him he could go to hell.
Looking around that room was surreal. She recognized faces but couldn't connect them with names. She remembered little things about them like details from a dream. The guy standing in line at the bar starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The fair-skinned blonde with a toddler clutched in her arms used to smoke cigarettes in the parking lot before school.
The déjà vu fog was universal. It was a speed-dating event with a bunch of people you already knew. The usual questions were asked: what do you do now? how many kids do you have? where do you live now? The inevitable judgments were made: he's going bald already? she's 28 and already been divorced twice? he came out of the closet?
The attention Lily got was also pretty universal. This time, she felt naked under the x-ray assault. Or, at the very least, stripped down to her lacy, ivory lingerie. Many didn't connect the lithesome beauty with the nerdy valedictorian. It wasn't that she was ugly back in school. Lily had always been naturally attractive with her thick hair and unblemished, porcelain skin. She just didn't care enough to accentuate those qualities. She'd never put on make-up until her senior year and hadn't really started to think about clothing style until she was nearly graduated. Ten years of experiences later and she'd swapped out her plastic-rimmed glasses for contacts and had her dark red hair cut to fall in loose, shimmering ringlets around her shoulders.
Lily scanned the crowd, wondering once again why she was here. She didn't have a clique to reconnect with, or even any good friends. As she slipped her green eyes over the familiar-yet-unfamiliar faces, she realized she was looking for one person in particular and hated herself for it. Where was Jack? Maybe he hadn't come at all.
A weird mixture of relief and disappointment filled her when she didn't see him. Nerves a bit frayed, she decided to treat it with alcohol and headed for the bar. She didn't quite make it when she finally ran into someone she recognized without a doubt. Unfortunately, it was the other person she'd been dreading to meet. Adele Blanchette.
"Lily, is that you?" the shapely blonde asked with a salesman-like enthusiasm. When Lily nodded, the blonde embraced her in a hug that completely threw her off balance. They'd never been friends back in school -- the blonde was at the center of popularity and Lily was at the center of nothing -- so at most she'd expected a quiet acknowledgement from the ex-cheerleader.
"I told you it was her," Adele said, turning to the other blonde who Lily hadn't noticed until after the hug. "You look amazing!"
Lily was half hoping that women like Adele would have let themselves go, carrying around the extra pounds of a couple kids and a fat ring that gave them the excuse not to work it off. Adele had no such ring and if anything, she was even thinner, her face maturing into a true Nordic beauty. And her body, showcased in a little strapless pink number, was still intimidating to Lily, despite the pride she had in her own.
When Lily didn't answer immediately, Adele added, "We had a few classes together. I was the dumb blonde." Adele hid her sarcasm well enough to avoid Lily's searching gaze. Girls who transformed this much always came with a complex and Adele's first instinct was to shut them down. But she reminded herself that she was going to be good tonight, and forced a smile.
"Adele! You ... I never thought of you as the dumb blonde." Lily decided to be nice, but they both knew it was a lie. Lily hoped she sounded genuine; Adele let her think she was. "We had Latin together. It's so strange, seeing all these old faces, you know?"
Adele continued to bristle inside. You might look all shiny and new, but you're still the same girl with a chip on her shoulder that you ever were... "Definitely strange to see the old faces." She turned to her companion, who hadn't said much of anything. "Do you remember Morgan?"
Lily did, vaguely. They'd never exchanged so much as a glance back in school, but she seemed nice enough now. "A little. Nice to meet you."
"You, too," Morgan said. "Doctor. Wow..."
"Thanks." She started to return the compliment when she saw that Morgan had left her occupation blank. Not wanting to pry, she simply said, "You look great. Just like your picture."
She realized how silly she'd been earlier. Girls like this didn't let their beauty soften. They'd been so concerned with appearance in high school and that kind of thing didn't just stop after graduation. Take Morgan. Lily was impressed by the vintage '40s look she'd created; it was Katy Perry complete, from the glamour of her wavy, golden hair to the open-toed Seymour Troy Troylings. Even her black dress, while considerably shorter than anything from the actual '40s, had broad, padded shoulders and a cut that emphasized her hourglass figure.
Looking around, though, she did realize that time had taken its toll on most. In the brief silence that followed, Lily added, "I can see that most can't say that."
The titter she got from the two women felt like hot coffee on a cold day and gave her a similar kick.
"Come on, let's get drinks."
"Let's get shots," Morgan suggested enthusiastically.
Turning to Lily with an arched brow and a smile from cheek to cheek, Adele asked, "You in?"
Lily looked from one woman to the other and smiled. Acceptance where she'd least expected it. "Bottoms up!"
A round of Jagermeister and a trio of Cosmopolitans later and Lily was beginning to wonder why she'd worried about coming in the first place. That was when Jack finally showed up. He spotted her first, weaving his way through the crowd. All Lily could do was brace for impact and curse him for still being good looking.
.... There is more of this story ...