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Sinful Desires Vol. 1(3)

By:M. S. Parker

“I was really hoping you hadn't gone through any extreme weight loss or something,” she said as she handed me a hanger with way less fabric than I'd expected. I glared at her. “Trust me, Piper.”

I sighed. It wasn't like I had much of a choice. I took the dress and wondered what I was going to wear underneath it. All of my underwear was nice enough, but I'd never had the money for fancy lingerie. Not that I needed it. What I did need, however, was a strapless bra and a thong because there was no way anything I'd brought with me would work with this dress.

“I got these with it.”

As if she'd read my mind, Anastascia held out lace panties and a bra that both matched the dress. She gave me a grin and practically skipped out of the door, leaving me alone to change. I didn't even glance in the mirror as I put on the bra and panties, or as I wiggled into the impossibly tight dress. Only when I'd gotten everything adjusted and in the right place did I finally look up. And gasped.

Anastascia had done an amazing job.

The dress had only the thinnest of straps and the neckline was cut low. Combined with the bra, it actually gave me a decent amount of cleavage. Nothing as impressive as my friend would be sporting, but enough to accentuate my figure. The cut of the waist showed off the little bit of hips I had without making my muscular legs look like tree trunks. Most people don't realize how hard it is for athletes to find something that makes their legs – and arms for some – look nice. The hemline was mid-thigh, long enough to show off some skin, but not so short I was uncomfortable. The dress, and everything that had come with it, was a dark, rich emerald color that made my own dark green eyes glow and my hair shine. I didn’t bother to see if the cheap, faux leather shoes I’d brought with me would match. I was sure Anastascia would have a pair of heels that would look fabulous. Since my feet were a little bigger than average for my size and Anastascia had small ones, we met in the middle with the one thing we could share: footwear.

Anastascia let out a whistle as she stepped back into the room.

“Right back at you,” I said as I took in her dark red dress that highlighted every one of her curves.

“What do you say we show up Rebecca and her snobby friends?” Anastascia asked with a grin.

I nodded. I still wasn't feeling particularly enthused about the reunion  , but at least most of the dread had gone away. I looked like I fit in now, and if people asked how I could afford living in Vegas, I could always tell them I was working while studying dance. No one had to know the details. It’s been five years, and maybe most of my classmates could be grown up enough to put aside social status and we could have a pleasant evening.

Chapter 3

I hadn't been back at the school for more than ten minutes before I realized how foolish that hope had been. After half an hour, it was painfully obvious that nothing had changed since high school, even if my wardrobe had improved. There was no doubt in anyone's minds that Anastascia had bought me the dress, confirmed by the multiple conversations I overheard regarding being my friend's charity case.

I was already fuming when a tall, skinny young man with dark hair and a prominent Adam's apple approached. I didn't need to look at the name-tag to know it was Eddie Rancid, a kid with a last name so awful he should've been less popular than me in school. Not the case.

“Hey, Piper.”

He still had the same sleazy smile.

“Hi, Eddie.” I kept my tone polite. Eddie had been picked on mercilessly in school for his sci-fi obsessions and bad complexion, but those weren't the reasons I hoped he'd keep walking.

“Looking good.” His eyes ran over me and I could feel him mentally undressing me. Considering what I did for a living, the fact that I had to stop myself from shuddering spoke volumes about how creepy I found him.

“Thank you.”

He edged closer, invading my personal space. “You know, I wanted to ask you to prom senior year.”

“Really?” I crossed my arms and tried to make a single word convey how not-interested I was.

“I mean, I figured if anyone was going to put out, it'd be you.”

Really? Had those words really just exited this dick head’s mouth? I gritted my teeth and could feel my temper start to rise as I ground out, “Is that so?”

Either Eddie was a moron when it came to reading people's body language and inflections or he simply didn't care. I was willing to bet it was a little bit of both. Either way, I shouldn’t have been surprised when he kept talking.

“Everyone knew girls from your neighborhood were easy. What are you doing aft––”

Raising a hand to interrupt him, I inhaled slowly and then let it out. “I'm going to walk away now, Eddie, and if you know what's good for you, you're going to let me go.”

He had the audacity to look shocked at my response. I caught a glimpse of the surprise on his face before I turned and headed towards the memorabilia display. I didn't really have anything I wanted to remember, but it was as far from Eddie as I could get while still being inside the building. I stayed there for a couple minutes, putting up with more sly glances and not-so-subtle comments, but then I couldn't take it anymore. I needed some air.

“I'm going to take a walk,” I said, leaning close enough to Anastascia to be heard over the music without raising my voice.

“Do you want me to come with you?” There was concern in her eyes.

I shook my head. “Stay.” She'd been subjected to some prejudice in school due to being mixed race, but most of her isolation had been self-imposed, choosing me over the shallow rich kids who were now fawning over how great she looked and all of the wonderful things she did. She deserved her time in the spotlight.

Before she could argue, I hurried away. No one stopped me and only a few even looked my way. I cut a wide path around where I saw Rebecca and her gang of friends chatting. They probably all still lived in the city and met for brunch every Sunday, picking at salads that cost more than a full meal at some places and sharing the latest gossip. I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to keep myself from slapping that smirk off her face if she said something, so I figured it was better to steer clear. I didn't want to be the girl who got kicked out of the reunion   for fighting. Despite my current occupation, I had too much self-respect for that.

I took a deep breath as I stepped out into the chilly evening. It wasn't quite freezing, but there was a bite in the air that said winter hadn't quite relinquished its grip despite it being early May. I rubbed my hands over my arms as I looked around the school grounds and tried to figure out what I was going to do while I waited for the reunion   to end.

“Are you cold?”

I froze, and not because of the air. I didn't have to turn towards the voice, however, because the owner of it was stepping around so I could confirm what I already knew.

“Rebecca insisted I bring her tonight when her date canceled, but as soon as she got here, she went off with her friends.” Reed flashed a charming smile. “I was trying to think up an excuse to leave when you came out. Looks like you're as bored as I am. Want to take a walk with me?”

Chapter 4

It had been almost three years since I'd walked down Germantown Avenue. Those last couple years with my mother, I hadn't gone anywhere but home, work and the hospital, but before that, when I'd been at St. George's, I'd walked down here often. I'd hated the school, but the neighborhood, with its cobbled streets and little shops, was beautiful. I'd walked it in the morning, afternoon and evening. I'd walked it with Anastascia as well as alone.

But I'd never dreamed I'd be walking it with Reed Stirling.

“I always preferred Chestnut Hill to the city,” Reed said suddenly, breaking the surprisingly comfortable silence between us. He didn't look at me, but I risked a sideways glance at him. His hands were in his pockets and he looked completely relaxed. “It's one of the reasons I asked my parents to sell me our family home out here rather than buying an apartment in the city like they and my sister have. I got my fill of city living when I was at Columbia getting my MBA.”

Like with Anastascia, I didn't hear any arrogance as he spoke about his family's wealth. I appreciated that he didn't try to downplay it either. That was a mistake people often made, thinking that those of us who had less money would want them to act as if their money was shameful.

“It is beautiful here,” I admitted. “I remember the first time I came here, when my mom brought me to do the testing to get into St. George's, and I thought about how amazing it must be to live here.”

“But you left the city,” he said.

“I did.” I waited for the next inevitable question about what I'd been doing since graduation.

It didn't come.

“I remember you.”

“What?” I looked over at him, startled.

He gave me that smile again. “I'll admit it. I didn't recognize you at first, but once my sister said your name, I remembered you.”

I raised my eyebrows, letting my expression show my skepticism.

“I swear.” He held up his hands as we started back up the hill. “Believe it or not, even the juniors heard about the freshman who told Professor Kirkwood that Ernest Hemingway was a drunken misogynist with an ego the size of Spain and a writing style reminiscent of a sleep-deprived toddler.”