“Pink, Lilah?” I snatched the silky dress from her hands, my mouth pinched tight as my shoulders drooped in feigned disappointment. “You know green’s my favorite color.”
“Sorry, Crookshanks,” Lilah smiled sweetly. She was now in on the cat jokes that Magpie, Seth’s wife, loved so well. Why they couldn’t use my given nickname of Booker amused me more than it should. “The thrift store was all out of green chiffon. You’re stuck with pink.” She waved and shut the bathroom door.
I fisted the bright, nineteen-eighties looking prom dress in my hand and groaned. “Okay, buddy. Man up and put on the dress.” I glanced into the oval mirror above the sink, and pointed at my reflection. “You made the deal. Now it’s time to pay.”
Lilah exploded on Port Fare in June to avenge her brothers’ deaths. Her three drug dealing brothers. Her sicko father tricked her into thinking my best friend Seth and I were responsible. Of course, technically, we were. Seth and I were undercover agents for the MET, the Mobile Enforcement Team, a division of the DEA, at the time, and they were part of our caseload.
I never doubted that Lilah was in on her father’s plan to kill all of us, but she insisted she was merely an innocent pawn in the scheme. After I did my best to make her life miserable, she struck a deal with me that if she were telling the truth, I’d have to apologize to our group of friends, and hand wax her car . . . in a dress. Well, not only was I wrong, she went and married my good friend Cole not too long after. Now I stood in their bathroom, cowering over the gaudy dress in my hand, about to keep my word. I always kept my word.
I stripped off my t-shirt and jeans, setting them on the counter as I wrangled my way into the dress’s many layers. The thing hung on me like a tent. I tugged the tag from the collar forward and glanced at the size.
“3X. Really?” I yelled through the door. I heard both Lilah and Magpie laughing.
I turned back to the mirror, running my fingers through my dark brown hair, smoothing it back into place. I was right, the color washed out my face. And the fact I even knew that was disturbing on so many levels. Fingering the skinny shoulder straps, I remembered Maggie and Seth in their bulk sweaters and Cole and Lilah wrapped in thick wool jackets. “I’m gonna freeze.” Only mid-October and the temperature had already dipped into the thirties. Welcome to upstate New York. I had no one to blame but myself for the rotten timing. If I hadn’t been so busy setting up my office, I’d have waxed the car sooner, but today was the first Saturday I had any free time since quitting the MET.
Well, at least the skinny shoulder straps showcased my biceps. I’d like to say that it was my love of the gym that did that…but sadly it was more my lackluster love life. What else was I supposed to do with my spare time?
“Enough with the pity party, Gatto. You chose to live a monk-like existence.”