If He Didn't Have a Twin
Chapter 11: Dancing in a Sea of Dresses

Eric Slater was staring down at me like I was a piece of blubber on his shoe. His face was twisted into some sort of strange shape: one of his eyebrows was up, both sides of his mouth were pointed downward, and his nose was wrinkled.

But then I stood up, and he stood only an inch or so above my height rather than towering over me by half a foot.

"Egads, Landon, why do you have to look so much like your brother?" I said, rubbing my head.

His eyes narrowed. "Don't insult me. And he's my half-brother. There's a difference."

"Not much of one. It's not like you're his step-brother or something. You have the same dad. You've lived in the same house. He's family. Isn't that more of what a brother really is? A brother's not someone who just has the one hundred percent of the same blood as you, you know."

"If I had a real brother he wouldn't be such a pansy."

"Are you sure about that?" A small crowd was gathering around our confrontation. Toner was standing off to the side, biting his lip and shifting from foot to foot. He moved his hands, indicating for me to get a move on. "Not saying it won't get rid of the fact that you look like him, you know. Anyway, he's still your brother. You share blood, and your dad's blood no less. What makes you think he's a pansy?"

His glare was cold. "He ran away," he said shortly. He turned on his heel and walked away.

I shook my head as I watched his retreating back. Turning to the crowd, I made eye contact with a few familiar faces. "Having fun making a spectator sport out of a couple people having a conversation?" I bit out, frustrated by the sheep-like characteristics of my fellow classmates. "You have better things to do, kids. Run along." As the crowd slowly dispersed, Toner came up to me and slung a long arm around my shoulder for support. I sighed. "I just wish people were more normal when things like this happen. They wouldn't want people to watch them breaking up with their boyfriend or get a detention. It's embarrassing and outright rude."

"I can't argue with that, Ev, but it's interesting to see those things. They're different."

"Well, why can't we just be attracted to boring things! Like that," I said, and pointed to a blonde head bobbing in the crowd. "That's just a normal guy going about his business in school. He isn't making a scene. He isn't causing drama. Why can't people be focused more on guys like him? The world would be much less chaotic, if you ask me."

Toner removed his arm from my shoulders. I shivered a little at the loss of warmth, but stopped when he did. He looked worried. "What's wrong, Tone?"

"I think it'd be a bit more, chaotic, actually." He forced a smile at me. "Go to class, Ev. I need something from the attendance office."

"Okay," I said. "Are you going to be okay? Are your toner explosion senses tingling?" I teased, referring back to his little accident in eighth grade.

"Oh, yeah, definitely," he said quickly, not even getting fazed by the comment. He pushed me farther through the hall. "Go."

He practically ran in the opposite direction.

Indie and I were at La Bamba, dropping off her application for a job. "Did you see Toner at all after English?" I asked casually. "My English class. I wanted to ask him something."

"Yeah," she replied, half occupied with trying to stuff a contest slip into an already packed cardboard box. "He ran up to me right in the middle of passing time. Was all," she tried to smack the slip in, "out of breath and stuff. And then he walked me to class." She punched in the paper and raised her hands in triumph. "Woo! Why?"

"He did? He told me he was going to the attendance office… I don't know. He was just acting weird."

She shrugged. "He was just being normal Toner to me. He came up to me in the hall and started talking about how the cake is a lie. But I told him I like cake, so my cake had better not be a lie unless he wanted to give me cookies. And then he offered to sell me cookie dough for his sister's tennis team." Grinning, she showed me her wallet. It was empty. "I bought three tubs."

I laughed. "You're going to make me bake them, aren't you?"

"Yeah, or my mom." Her eyes crinkled. "You know I wouldn't go near a hot, smoking oven. Too much heat for me."

"Me too," we heard someone say. We turned around to see who it was, but no one was there. I blinked.

"Did you say something?" Indie and I asked each other in unison. She shook her head as I said, "No."

"Hm, weird. So! We're going dress shopping, right? For winter ball slash homecoming?" Indie bounced on her toes.

Giving her a salute, I nodded resolutely. "Yes, ma'am! That we are. Let us go into the wild blue yonder that is the mall and empty out our wallets!" I proclaimed. She nudged me. Rolling my eyes, I said, "Oh, right. My wallet."

"Got that right," Indie laughed. "Let's go, milady. We have to get ahead of the game."

We ran to the bus stop and got there just as the large blue and white vehicle pulled up. The driver, a large woman with wild red curls, gave us a surly look from behind the wheel. "Seventy five cents for a round trip to the mall," she grumbled. Indie and I exchanged glances.

"Me, right?" I asked. Indie nodded. I slipped some change into the till and she grabbed the tickets. We thanked the driver (who grunted in reply) and sat at the back of the bus.

"If you weren't already Oscar, I'd put my vote in for the bus driver to be. She's grumpy," I whispered to Indie. Looking around at the other people on the bus, I saw a guy sleeping in his seat. "And he's Sleepy."

Indie grinned and pointed to a man with a briefcase under his arm and glasses poised on his nose. Next to him were a guy sniffing into a tissue, and then a guy picking his nose. "Doc, Sneezy, and Dopey, I presume?" she said. We both burst into a fit of giggles, drawing uncalled for attention to ourselves from the other people in the back of the bus. We waved at them, apologizing.

When we got off the bus at a stop nearby the mall, we were still laughing, having found the rest of the Snow White's seven dwarves. I tripped out of the door and accidentally knocked into a person, while Indie giggled and rocked on her heels beside me. "Sorry!" I called back to the person; I felt even worse because I hadn't seen who I had run into. "Who was that?" I asked Indie, who glanced behind us, her hand over her mouth as she held in a shout of laughter.

"I don't know. Maybe it was that blonde kid? Or the redhead. I think it was the redhead." She shrugged. Linking arms with me, she asked, "So, what's James wearing? You guys are going to match, right?"

I laughed at her. "Indie, how does he know what he's going to wear when I don't even know what I'm going to wear?"

She squeezed my arm. "Oh, right. I think you should go with yellow. Or gold, maybe. Or some sea green. Or a really dark blue."

"Or a lot of other stuff," I cut in, pointing out that she was listing off a large range of colors.

"Yeah," she said, not getting the hint. "Or a lot of other stuff. Ooh!" She pulled me into a store filled to the brim with shiny accessories. "Look at this bracelet! It's so big." She put it on her wrist and made the store's lights glint off it. I smiled. "Pretty, no? Should I get it?"

"I'm not paying for it," I said. Her face fell. Pouting, she put the bracelet back on the rack and trudged out of the store like a dismayed toddler. I half expected her to sit down in the middle of the doorway, pound her fists on the floor, and put on a huge fit. But at the same time, I didn't expect her to do that. It would be a bit extreme—even for Indie. Instead, she made a run for the nearest dress store. I ran after her, catching her arm and looping mine through it.

She went right up to a blue dress. It was rather short, to the knee, and had a bubble skirt. The bow in the front was accentuated with sparkling rhinestones. "Ev, look at this! Isn't it cute?"

Laughing, I told her, "Indie, you do realize we're going to winter ball, right? You'd freeze if you wore that in the dark."

"Which is why I have the big twin boy of mine to keep me warm, silly!" Her eyes danced as she fondly stroked the soft fabric of the dress. "It is a pretty dress though, isn't it? Something I would wear."

"Let's look over here, Indie," I said, trailing over to the other side of the store. "There's a lot more to choose from. How about you take that rack and I'll take this one?" She clapped and hurried over to her spot, wasting no time in getting to the back of the rack and working her way up. Shaking my head, I smiled at her. She was always convinced that other girls would hide the goods in the very back and wanted to see what was there. I just thought that the girls left the not-so-good ones in the back, and didn't bother.

I took my time at my rack, thoughts wandering to any old thing; truth be told, I actually wasn't looking for a dress. I may have looked like I was, but I just thought about the events that had happened that day. It seemed as if I had been having a lot of encounters with blond people: running into Landon, for one, the person I had run to at the bus stop… Well, scratch the blond people thing, I was just running into people today, wasn't I? I could be such a klutz sometimes. I scolded myself as I flipped randomly through the dresses. What was I doing here, anyway? I'd probably just fall all over James's feet while we danced and-

"Oh my gosh." Indie's gasp cut off my little brain fart. Snapped out of my reverie, I blinked at her but she just took the time to stare at my hands. I looked down and had a quick intake of breath.

The black dress in my hands was laced with a gold and red pattern, and swept to the floor in waves. I stared at it in—dare I say it?—awe. Though I wasn't much of a shopper, the dress was absolutely perfect. Sure, it wasn't the teal or the yellow or the anything that Indie had recommended, but it was perfect. And James would definitely look dashing in a black, gold, and red tuxedo… there was no question about that.

Indie pushed me towards the dressing room. "Try it on, now, Evelyn. It's totally perfect. Go!"

"But what about you?" I asked, worried. "I'll help you look for one for you, and then we can model for each other. That would be better, wouldn't it?"

Much to my dismay, she shook her head vehemently. Seeing my bewildered expression, she sighed and rolled her eyes. Grabbing a random dress off the rack next to her without even looking, she said. "Okay, let's go!" I eyed her selection incredulously; it was an obnoxious green and blue ensemble, but it was long, so I let her go with it. She dragged me into the dressing room.

The attendant in front of the dressing room eyed us suspiciously as Indie dragged me enthusiastically up to the entrance to the fancy dressing rooms. The lights surrounding the entrance sparkled on a glittery background, and made for quite the entrance to show off a dress in. After handing us the cards to hang on our doors, she gave us a warning look and made sure that we would behave in the dressing rooms—all without even opening her mouth.

Indie, however, was unperturbed by the stern attendant to the dressing room, and dragged me to the two available rooms at the back of the room, and closest to the mirror. Grinning, she gleefully shoved me into one of the rooms, shut the door for me, and ran into her own room. Her door closed with a bang. I stood, unmoving, in the small room and blinked at the sudden lack of Indie; sometimes she just didn't give me a chance to prepare myself. After a quick shake of my head, I lifted the dress in front of me and inspected it carefully. There didn't appear to be any rips or tears, and it was in great condition. Slowly, I undressed and put on the dress, shutting my eyes whenever they strayed to the mirror on one of the walls of the room. I didn't want to see the dress until Indie had given me her criticisms.

A knock sounded on my door. "Are you ready yet, Evvy?" Indie asked. "Come on! And you have to see this dress on me; I know you were looking at it weird before—and yes, I did see that look you gave it, you dork—but I think you'll be surprised. I'm surprised. Maybe you'll be surprised. It's got this great color to it; it looked weird under the mall lights outside but you have to see it in here because it's absolutely gorgeous and Ev, you are taking way too long!"

My door flew open and I let out a tiny scream before I clapped my hand over my mouth. Indie, on the other hand, didn't restrain herself at all. "Evelyn Fitzgerald!" she exclaimed, clapping. "Buy the dress! Now! I don't care how much it is, you need it. It's totally perfect for you. Seriously."

"Dang, Indie," I gasped. "That dress is stunning." I ignored her comments; I was just waiting for something she would say that would need fixing. She, however, decided to just list off what else I needed on her fingers. I would need shoes, a clutch, a hair appointment, a nail appointment, a boutonnière for James, a…

"Indie, did you hear me? Dress. You. Amazing. Buy."

She looked at me happily, and then glanced down at herself. "Yeah, I know that already. I don't need a telling to; no matter what you said I would have gotten it." She grinned, glancing at her reflection in the mirror in the hall. "It's perfect. Funny how I just got it by a stroke of luck, isn't it? And to think it was at the front of a rack! Who'da thunk?" Looking at me, she quieted and tilted her head. "Ev, you haven't even looked in the mirror yet, have you?"

I shook my head. "I was actually waiting for you to say something bad," I admitted. She rolled her eyes and grabbed my shoulders, dragging me forward to the large and lit mirror in the dressing room hallway. Making a grand gesture, she pointed to the mirror.

To say the very least, I looked a lot better than I thought I would. Really, my mind hadn't been into the whole dress shopping thing, in case it hadn't been noticeable or anything. But when I saw myself in that dress, I couldn't help but think of the smile that would be on James's face when he saw me in this. I fingered the fabric of the floor-sweeping dress, lifting it up and letting it fall back down to the floor in waves. When I looked at my face, and myself as a whole in the mirror, my eyes shone.

Indie decided to choose that moment to shove me playfully, getting me out of my reverie for the second time that day. She grinned mischievously and swished the skirt of her own dress around. "You're buying it, right?"

"Mom, we're home!" I called when Indie and I bounded happily through the front door of my house. The bags from the shopping trip swung from my and Indie's arms, crinkling and making noise.

I heard the pitter-patter of little feet before I saw my little sister hurtling towards us, a scared expression on her face. She was biting her lip a little and hid behind me. Frowning, I handed my bags to Indie and picked her up. "What's up, Shan? Is there a bug?" She shook her head and pointed toward the kitchen. "Mom? Are you home? Hello?"

"In here, honey," I heard her call through the house. Her voice came from the room where Shannon had pointed, and Shannon struggled in my arms as I went towards her voice. I let her down and allowed her to hide behind me.

When we walked into the kitchen, Mom was standing there with an exasperated expression on her face. Her hair was disheveled and her face pink, as if she had just been working out. I listened for one of her Pilates videos to be playing in the next room, but the house was quiet but for the noises of the kitchen. Mom sighed. "Shannon, sweetie, come here please." Shannon shook her head empathetically. "Honey, they're just vegetables. They won't kill you. Please? They'll make you grow up into a big, strong girl like your sister and Indie. Look at them! Don't you want to be like them? They eat their vegetables regularly, right girls?"

Indie grinned and nodded. "No," she said, and laughed at how her actions and words contradicted each other. Shannon, though, didn't seem to notice. She sniffed once, then eyed me and Indie suspiciously, an adorable pout on her face. She sniffed again, this time disdainfully, and stalked out of the room with her nose in the air.

I laughed aloud at my little sister's antics. Blowing her messy hair out of her face, my mom looked at the bags in Indie's hands. "What's this?" she asked, cleaning up the mess of vegetable goop decorating the kitchen counter. "Did you girls go shopping?"

"No, Mom," I said sarcastically and smiled. "We just wanted to make it look like we went shopping so people on the bus would think we're cool."

"Because we totally do things like that," Indie added.

My mom laughed. "Right," she agreed, playing along. "What did you get?"

"Dresses! For the Winter Ball. Auntie Layla, you have to see Evelyn's dress. It is so perfect! I mean," Indie said, laughing, "mine isn't all too bad, either. But Evelyn's dress is so pretty, on her and off her." A pause. "That sounded weird, but whatever. My dress looks funky when I'm not wearing it, but I must say, I am quite dashing when I'm wearing it." With exaggerated gestures, she pulled the two dresses out of the bags one at a time; out came hers first, with mine following closely behind. She put them on the kitchen table, where my mom came over to inspect them.

"Considering the way you described them, hun, I'm guessing that the black one is Evelyn's and the… colorful one is yours?" She fingered the fabric of both dresses, grinning at Indie.

"Yes, ma'am. Aren't they gorgeous?"

"They are," she said fondly. "Oh!" She started, making both Indie and I jump in our spots next to her. "Evelyn, someone called the house earlier; he said his name is Tony Erman. What happened to your phone? Well, anyway, he'd like you to call him. He says it's urgent."

Toner had called? "Okay, Mom." Exchanging a look with Indie, I shrugged and felt in my pocket to see if my phone was there. "Maybe my phone died, I don't know. Or maybe I didn't take it off of silent after school?"

Indie and I went upstairs after saying bye to my mom and Shannon; my mom was trying to coax Shannon out of her hiding spot under the kitchen table and convince her to eat her vegetables.

"Hm, that's weird. My phone's not in my backpack, either," I said, rooting through my bag. After failing to find it in the pockets of my jeans and jackets strewn around the room, I sat down heavily on my bed. "What happened to it?"

Indie, who had been looking for it in my desk drawers, shook her head. "I don't know, Ev… you didn't leave it in James's car, did you? Or at school?"

Shaking my head, I gripped my forehead in thought. "I hardly take out my phone during school. I had it at school, though, I thought. I just don't know where it went." I sighed. "I probably just left it somewhere on accident. I'm sure I'll find it tomorrow, right?"

She shrugged at me. "Sure, you probably will. I wouldn't worry about it." Grinning, she handed me the house phone. "Hows about calling Toner, though? I want to know this urgent news."

"Yeah." I found Toner's number in the directory installed in the phone, and waited for it to ring. Indie, in her excitement, grabbed the phone from me and bounced around in her seat.

"Tony!" she cried out when he apparently answered the phone. "Hi! What's the urgent news? Evvy is right here, so don't worry, she's listening. Oh, and this is Indie!" She laughed. "News!" Putting the phone on speaker, she placed it in between us on the floor.

"Indie?!" a voice that sounded suspiciously not like Toner's said. "Shit! Erman, do somethi—"

And the line went dead.

Author's Note

Ah, I know this chapter took forever to come out. Almost two months! Sigh... But I hope you liked it! 'Tis exciting, no? ;D And eep! I just checked the word count and this chapter is a little under 4000 words, as opposed to a little over 3000. Woot! Hope you like the longer chapter, haha. :P

Sad to say, though, that I honestly don't know when the next chapter can get out. It might have to be in a month because crunch time for the HUGE tests has started, and those won't be over until at least mid-May. I'll definitely be working on the chapter, though, so don't worry about that! :)

On another note, you should check out Tough and Dirty! It's a great little FictionPress newsletter for writers with a whole bunch of great stuff. :) You can find more information on it in my profile. Subscribe! It's really great. And I'm the advice columnist ;) So send me a question; I'll be happy to answer!

I think that's it. Review? :)

loves&hugs.. kte-wonderful