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C6 Chapter 6

Elena Sergio

For a moment, I stared at my sister, my mind blank. And then I thought, you don't get to do that.

Only after Karen had asked me, "I don't get to do what?" Did I realize I'd voiced my thoughts.

My gaze remained on her as she turned away from me to drop her phone on the dresser behind her.

"You don't get to play the big sister, little sister card," I said, upset with what she'd said. "I'm eighteen now, Karen. I'm not a kid anymore, so don't treat me like one."

She turned to face me, a puzzled look on her face. "I didn't . . . I didn't mean it that way."

"Then what did you mean?" I threw my hands up in the air. "I don't know what you meant. I came to you because I needed your help, not so that I can be treated as if I'm some dumb fourteen-year-old."

Moments passed and Karen remained silent. Then finally she spoke, "Sorry, if you took it that way. Look all I'm saying is, are you sure you have a thing for this guy?"

"Well, I wouldn't be here asking about how to get him attracted to me if I didn't know, would I?" I raised my eyebrows for added emphasis.

She leaned back against her dresser and crossed her arms. "Okay then, what I meant by "are you ready to go all the way" was, are you ready to change everything about you, Ellie? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone, do things you never thought you'd be alive to see yourself doing, go places you're normally not interested in, just for some boy you just met?"

"You make it sound so bad," I muttered, staring down at my socked feet. "Do I have to do much though? I mean, aren't I okay with the way I am?"

The sudden snort from Karen made me raise my head at her.

"What was that for?" I yelled, feeling hurt.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." She held her hand to her mouth, apparently trying and failing miserably to hold in a laugh. "No offense."

"Some taken." I glared at her.

"Okay, first off, Ellie, if I'm being a hundred percent frank, then you're not okay. You're far from okay just the way you are," she said.

"But what's wrong with me?" I murmured.

"Actually nothing, Ellie." Karen came over and sat down beside me. "Absolutely nothing. You're beautiful just the way you are, but if you want to get this KJ guy to see you as the girlfriend type, then you do have to change some things."

"Like what?" I looked at her.

"Which brings us to our first issue." At once, she shot up from the bed and stood before me, her hands clasped in front of her. "Your dressing."

"My dressing?" I quipped. "What is wrong with the way I dress?"

"Hoodies, jeans, and sneakers all day every day isn't exactly gonna cut it, Elena." Karen stated.

"But my skin—"

"Is beautiful! And I know it's sensitive, but hey, what is sunscreen for?"

I sighed. "I don't know, Karen."

"Anabel only said the shit she said because she's a jealous one, obviously. I mean being tan is great, but porcelain is cute."

At her words, I felt a surge of confidence. Looking up at her with a smile, I said, "Thanks."

"Pfft." She waved a hand casually. "Don't mention it."

"So," she continued, "you gotta get a better dress sense. More gowns, more color, less or no hoodies if you can help it, and heels once in a while. Luckily, you have me for all that."

"Should I write this down?" I thought out loud.

"No need," she said. "It's pretty simple."

"The next issue we have is," she resumed, "your walking step, Ellie."

"My walking step?" I frowned. "What the heck is wrong with it?"

"You don't slouch, no, but the way you walk does need a little bit of improvement. Try swaying your hips while walking, just for added effect."

"Noted, I guess." I shrugged.

"The third is makeup," Karen said. "Make your face a little brighter. Put on lipstick, and mascara, conceal your eye bags, maybe try lashes, just do what suits you."

"Lashes?" I scoffed. "Karen, I'm in high school, remember?"

"Oh." She slapped her forehead. "Sorry, I got too carried away. Either way, put on some makeup, even though it's light, just something to bring out the color in your eyes."

"Now the fourth and the final one, drumroll please, confidence!" Karen exclaimed.

"Confidence?" I asked.

"Uh-huh," she nodded, her mass of dyed blonde curls bobbing with movement. "Confidence is essential. Not the "oh I can do everything by myself alone because I'm the bestest best", but the "I can stand up for myself because I deserve better" kind. Boys love when girls are confident in themselves. I mean, there are moments being shy is allowed, of course, like when you're about to share your first kiss or your first time, blah blah blah, but confidence is sexy and guys love sexy."

"So, of all these, which ranks the most important?" I asked. "Confidence?"

"It would've, but I think dressing does. How you dress speaks a lot about you, you do know that, right?"

"Yeah." I nodded.

"Good. Now since I'm going to be at home for at least two more weeks, I'm going to groom you until you can stand on your own two feet," Karen said.

"Aww." I placed a hand on my chest. "You'd do that for me?"

"Uh, duh." She chuckled. "Why not?"

"You're the best!" I grinned, standing up from the bed and giving her a tight hug.

"Of course, I know that." She laughed. "But before we get too carried away, I do have to tell you something."

"What is it?" I stepped back from her with a concerned look.

"I know what you're feeling right now," she began, sitting on her bed. "The rush, the elation that you've finally met your dream guy. I can relate to it because I experienced it, while I was in high school too.

"My point is, you have to be careful, Ellie. You really have to guard your heart. Forget all I just told you, if you feel even the tiniest bit of discomfort, you have to stop. If you feel you're forcing yourself to love these things then you have to let go of KJ. Really. You'll eventually find a guy who loves you just the way you are anyway."

"Oh," I muttered. "Is there something you're not telling me?"

She sighed. "When I was a junior, I thought I'd met the absolute love of my life. Just like you. And I did things I never thought I would. Stepping out of my safe space just for him would do anything he asked. Until I realized I was just fooling myself and I was just another girl to him.

"I don't want you to go through the heartbreak and depression I went through, Elena. That's why I need you to be careful. Don't let anyone deceive you into doing what their narcissistic selves want. Always be to realize the difference between love and just physical attraction."

"Wow," I breathed moments after she was done. "Thanks, mom."

She gave me an amused look.

I smiled. "But seriously though, thanks for the advice. And I wish you'd told me sooner about this guy so I could give him a piece of my mind."

"You don't need to worry." She chuckled. "I already did that and besides, I'm already over him. A long time ago."

The next day, I woke up earlier than I normally did, just to prepare for school. Karen woke me up, apparently more hyped than I was about school. One she'd graduated from already by the way.

She'd picked out a baby pink satin dress with a white collar that stopped about two, three inches above my knees from my closet. Honestly, when she pulled the cloth out I was surprised that I still had it. The last time I wore it was in sophomore year, two years ago.

"I'm not wearing that," I objected the moment I saw it. "It's so freaking short. What if I fall?"

"You won't," she sighed. "Remember what we talked about last night? Don't tell me you're backing out so early."

"Fine," I exhaled. "I'm not. I'll wear it."

After I'd taken a hot bath and put on my underwear, I slipped into the dress. It was tight from my waist up and flair down below. And it did look cute when I looked at myself in the mirror. Plus the boots Karen gave me, which were black and had heels, made my legs look longer and more killer. I was amazed at how pretty my skin could look too when properly exposed. With sunscreen, of course.

After breakfast, Karen did my makeup, using mascara around my eyes that enhanced their light blue color, and drawing a winged eyeliner. Then she proceeded to cover my lips in baby pink lipstick that went with the color of my dress.

At the end of the whole makeover, I looked like an entirely different me. A whole new individual. I honestly didn't think I could look this pretty.

Mom dropped me off at school as she did on some occasions when she finished preparing for work on time, commenting on how she loved my makeover and how she fancied the girly touch.

"You look so cute," she'd squealed as I was leaving her car for the school door.

You know that awkward feeling you get because you did something and now you all of a sudden think everyone realizes what you did and now has their focus on you, watching you and judging or admiring you in their mind? Well, I was getting that feeling right now as the hallway seemed to fall into a hushed silence as I walked into the school.

Or was it just my imagination?

My head down, hands holding the straps of my bookbag, I began walking over to my locker when I remembered what Karen had said about confidence. "Confidence is sexy and guys love sexy".

As if on autopilot, I jerked my head up, dropped my hand from the straps of my bookbag, and squared my shoulders before I began walking with a new gait, swaying my hips as I went.

Now I was certain people were watching me because as I walked by I caught a couple of them glancing and some full-on staring.

Finally, I got to my locker, entered the combination, and pulled the door open, having unlocked it. Burying my face in my locker, I felt like I could finally breathe. I let out a shaky breath, chanting over and over again in my head that I was doing great.

I was acing this. After all, I had heads turning and people keeping silent, so of course, I was.

"Who are you and what are you doing at my friend's locker?"

I whipped around at the voice, excited to hear it.

"Matthews!" I breathed and hugged him, never happier to hear his voice.

"Whoa, Elena?" He stared at me after I stepped back from him. "I-I didn't realize it was you. You . . . you look different."

"It's still me anyway." I smiled.

"I know, but you look even more amazing," he commented. "Is that makeup?"

"Karen did it for me," I grinned.

"Oh," he murmured. "It's beautiful."

"I know right?" I did a twirl. "I feel great."

"Why the sudden change though?" He asked, a confused expression creeping into his face.

I remained silent, not knowing what to say to him.

"Wait a minute, is this about KJ?" He raised an eyebrow. "About the new guy?"

My further silence answered his question.

"You gotta be kidding me," he scoffed.

"I don't understand." I frowned.

"Don't tell me you did all these just to get him to notice you, Elena," he said.

"What's the difference anyway?"

"A dress? Makeup? Curled your straight hair? What got into you, Elena?"

"What are you talking about, Matt?" My frown got deeper.

He stepped back from me, his lips turned down. "This isn't the Elena I know. This isn't my best friend."

With that, he turned away from me and stalked off.

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