“Hey, Celia, did you want to go to that fab boutique I was telling you about yesterday? My charge card is all ready to go.”
“Yes,” I assured her. “I promise it’s okay! My father gives me tons of spending money and I haven’t used it all up yet this month. I’m dying to be your personal stylist. Meet me there in fifteen? Awesome!”
I got off the phone with that bubblehead. Sure, she was book smart, but the girl was about as shallow as a sheet of ice on a spring pond. All I had to do was mention a free shopping spree just for her and she was all over it. Seemed to forget how salty I was toward her until I got my little idea.
Phase I of Bulldoze Celia Estelle had officially begun.
Leather and Lace Boutique was in the fashion district of San Myshuno. The famous aging model, Chiandra Stoltz, owned the place, and I happened to know that one of Jackson’s fathers used to own it, too, so it always drew me in knowing its history. I felt a bit closer to my future hubby going there, and one day, hoped to buy it from Chiandra. Keeping it in the Richardson family was a goal. I could do wonders to the décor. It was a bit dated.
“Wow,” Celia whispered. “I’ve never been in a clothing store with seating before.”
“It is expensive, but you can’t find these kind of clothes just anywhere. We’re going to have a blast.”
Celia looked infuriatingly beautiful today. She was my match in almost every way. Well...except for cunning. Poor dear. If she wasn’t dating my hubby, I think we could have been friends.
“Come on, Celia. We’ll sit down and wait for the attendant to show us the exclusives. If you like something, she’ll put it in the fitting room for you.”
Now...to jump into my plan. “So...what’s Jackson up to today? He isn’t hanging out with Ro, is he?”
She stopped in her tracks, cocking her head. “How did you know?”
“Are you kidding? I’m one of Ro’s besties. He’s an awesome friend. My gbf. He’s gay, you know.”
“Gay? I didn’t know.”
I shrugged. “And Ro has a little crush on your boy. Just FYI, I’d keep tabs on that relationship, if you know what I mean.”
Oh. My. God. My little Bambi automatically texted Jackson without another word. This was going to be easier than I thought.
“Good!” I encouraged. “It’s always best to remind him that you’re his girlfriend. Lots of texts will show Ro he doesn’t have a chance.”
As we sat down, she looked worried. “You don’t think Jackson could be...”
“Gay?” I almost shouted the word with glee. “Well, one can never tell...”
I went on, “I mean, he could be bi. He does have gay parents so their example alone wouldn’t turn him off to the idea.”
Then she brightened and said, “Well, I trust Jackson. The way he is to me shows me that he isn’t gay in the least. I have to physically restrain him all the time.”
Uh oh. Jackson’s heterosexual-ness definitely might get in the way of this plan, but all I needed was to sow some doubt.
“That’s where it can get complicated. I doubt Ro would ever restrain Jackson that way. Once Jackson finds out....who knows what could happen?”
Celia shot me with a vicious stare. “You really think something like that could happen between them? Then maybe I shouldn’t stop him when we’re together.”
Oh, shit! Now I was encouraging her to have sex with Jackson! Backpedaling, I patted her knee and said, “You probably have nothing to worry about. Just texting him and curbing his time with Ro should do the trick.”
Staring off into the distance, she said, “Yeah...okay. They’re supposed to go to the movies tonight. Maybe I can show up?”
“Yes! Keep tabs on them that way! I could help you out. I’m supposed to go to the movies with Manu. You can come with us.”
That was a lie, of course, but Manu liked me, and if I suggested we all go out together, I doubted he’d say no. I had to put Manu in her life somehow and this was a perfectly innocent way to do it.
A smile brightened her face. “Sounds great! Goodness, Winter, I’m so glad you told me all of this.”
Raising my hands, I said, “Just remember, girlie. I got your back.”
After we chose a few outfits for Celia to try on, we went to the dressing room.
The first outfit looked irritatingly great on her. Why did that girl have to be so infuriatingly beautiful?
I scratched my chin. “Hmm...I don’t think Jackson likes pink. And he likes plainer clothing on girls.” God, I was making up so much junk, I hoped she didn’t figure it out. I knew next to nothing about what Jackson liked in girls’ clothing.
Next, she came out in a boring number with chunky boots. Not sexy at all.
Flipping my hands up, I said, “Perfect. Jackson is sure to love.”
“Well...we’ll see.” She flicked her phone up and took a selfie. The girl had no shame. But I liked the fact she was peppering Jackson with texts.
“Wow, Winter! You were right. He loves this outfit! Thank you so much!”
I put my hand over my head. This was going to be harder than I thought.
I always liked going over to Ro’s apartment now. His parents just moved to the city over Christmas and it was like a retreat for me. My parents’ fighting wasn’t getting any better and going to San Myshuno was always fun. A great escape for me. Only problem was, Ro wouldn’t be going to my high school anymore, but that was okay. I’d make sure we hung out on the weekends more.
“Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Atsukari. Thank you for inviting me over again.”
“You’re always welcome, Jackson. You know that,” his father said. “We were worried Ro wouldn’t see you much since we moved.”
“That won’t happen. We might even see each other more now that we don’t have classes together,” I said.
“Yeah, I can’t run away from Jackson no matter how hard I try,” Ro joked.
We played some video games when another text from Celia buzzed loudly in my pocket.
“Dude,” Ro said, “that’s like the tenth text in the last five minutes. What’s her problem?”
“I don’t know, man. I guess she loves me or something.”
“You like her doing that? I mean, does she always text so much?”
I actually hated it. Lately, she’d been texting me constantly, it was annoying. And on top of that, last Saturday, she showed up with Winter and Manu at the same movie Ro and I were at. So, it ended up being a date with her, which was alright, but a guy needed some bro time. But I didn’t want to rag on her to Ro. I could tell he didn’t like her that much, so I decided to change the subject.
“Hey, what about you? I’ve never asked you if you’ve met someone now that you’re in the big city high school. It’s not backward like our old country school.”
Ro chuckled. “Newcrest High is not some backward country school. But to answer your question...maybe.”
“Alright, man! I knew you’d find someone. Tell me about him. Maybe we can go on a double date or something.”
“Maybe. We’re just talking now. His name is Eskander Darvish. He’s a rich fuck like you.”
“Hey...I’m not Richie Rich anymore, dude. Just some normal boy from the ghetto now. And I have fighting parents to prove it.”
His face got all serious. “It’s that bad still, huh?”
I sighed, not wanting to talk about it. Instead, I tickled him and said, “I’m not going to cry about it, but you will when I finish you off!”
“NO!” he cried. He hated being tickled.
He jumped on me but I had him dead to rights. Having a dad who used to do MMA came in handy sometimes. I got his leg in a lock and yelled, “Are you going to give up?”
“Yes, you got me. God, Jackson, I’ll never call you a rich fuck again.”