In the shower stall, Danni scrubbed off a layer of sweat and dirt. No matter what Kyle said, she wanted to look her best today. Wrapping her towel around her, she headed out to the main room. Sitting on a bench putting lotion on her legs, she watched Kyle standing outside Cordelia’s stall.
“Come on, Cordelia. It can’t look that bad.”
“But it does.” Cordelia’s muttered. “I look silly.”
“If you don’t get out here, I will pull you out.” Kyle threatened.
“What are you doing?” Danni raised an eyebrow.
“I am trying to get Cordelia to try something different. It’s too warm for sweaters. But she’s too chicken to even show me what it looks like.”
“No, she’s trying to make me look like a streetwalker.” Cordelia countered, still hidden inside the stall.
“Come on, Cordi. Try something new for once.” Danni laughed. “No one’s in here but us.”
“Okay, but you guys have to tell me the truth.” Her intake of breathe was audible. She walked out in a pair of dark shorts and a rainbow striped top.
“Have you ever seen a prostitute?” Danni cocked her head at her friend “This is completely normal, Cord!”
“You would literally be the most covered up hooker ever.” Kyle laughed.
“I don’t know.” Cordelia huffed, rubbing her bare arms “I feel really… naked.”
“Whatever, you look fantastic.” Danni clapped her hands in delight and stepped into the stall Cordelia had just vacated.
“Come with me.” Kyle’s voice was low as she grabbed Cordelia’s hand and pulled her out of the bathroom. Cordelia crossed her arms over the chest, leaning against the wall. “You don’t have to wear anything you don’t want to.”
“You stole my clothes.” Cordelia raised an eyebrow.
“I’ll give them back if you really want.”
Cordelia ran her hands along the bare skin of her lower thighs “Does it really look okay? I’ve never worn shorts this short.”
Kyle pulled her phone from her pocket and quickly opened an app full of pictures. “Look at this.” She stepped up beside Cordelia and held up the screen. “These are all beautiful women who don’t fit stereotypical beauty standards. And they’re all attractive.”
Cordelia slid her finger across picture after picture. Of girls bigger and smaller than she was. All looking totally comfortable. “I don’t know. I don’t look like these girls.”
“The only thing that makes them different is that they like themselves.” Kyle shrugged. “I know you’ve lived in this town of crap and have been convinced that you’re disgusting, but at some point, you’re going to have to get over that.”
“A couple pictures and a rainbow shirt aren’t going to catapult me into a whole new Cordelia.” She shot a glance at Kyle.
“I don’t want a new Cordelia. I want a happy Cordelia. Think about it.” She took her hand and lea her back into the bathroom where Kyle began braiding Cordelia’s hair into two long braids. “There you go. Now tell me what you really think.”
Hesitantly, Cordelia stepped in front of the full length mirror. “Well, I don’t look hideous. I guess.” She turned to the side, a little uncomfortable, but pleased. “Who knew?”
“So you’ll wear it?”
“I guess. I mean, what can it hurt?”
“Cordi! You look fantastic.” Bianca bounced over to her sister from the shower stall.
“You do!” Danni insisted, stepping in front of the mirror.
“It’s all Kyle’s fault.”
“Thanks Kor. I’ve been trying to get her to wear something less sweatery for years. What did you say to her?”
“Nothing I can repeat without risking death.” Kyle laughed and shot Bianca a knowing look. “You look nice, too, Danni.”
“Hey, sometimes you just gotta put it out there.” Laughing, Danni stepped up to the sink and pulled at the front of her tank. “You don’t look exactly under dressed yourself, trying to impress Zack?”
“I try to impress no one.” Kyle smirked, changing the balls on the barbell fed through her bellybutton. “But reminding him that I’m awesome isn’t the worst thing in the world.”
“Hey, when did you get your belly done?” Rayne hurried over to touch it.
“Over the summer. I forgot you hadn’t seen it yet. Like it?” They began to inspect the jewelry.
“Cordi, you’re sure you don’t want some mascara?” Danni waved the tube at her in the mirror.
“Nope. The clothes as a big enough step for today.”
“Someday Cordi, someday…”
“I don’t always have to do what you want, Danni.” Cordelia looked down at her lap. “Just let me go at my own speed. Please.”
“Cordelia?” Danni turned from the mirror. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing.” Cordelia jammed her hands into her pockets. “I’d like to do more this morning than prep for boys. Is anyone ready to head back?”
“I am.” Kyle twisted a yellow ball onto her tongue ring and grabbed her stuff. She handed Cordelia the pile of clothes she had taken from her.
“Me, too.” Danni nodded.
Leaving Rayne and Bianca behind, the three girls crunched along on the path in silence until they reached the campsite. Danni threw her bag into the tent and noticed the message light on her phone was flashing.
“Water?” Cordi asked, crouching in front of the cooler. They both nodded and Danni punched the buttons to access her messages. The voice that came through the earpiece took a second to click.
“Hey Danni… uh, this is Anson. Caleb asked me to call. Traffic has been crazy. We’re still over an hour away. Just wanted to let you guys know so you don’t worry. So yeah… I guess we’ll see you in a little while. Oh and Greg and Blaine took a separate car, so they might get there ahead of us. Not sure. We lost them a while ago. Okay, yeah, so… bye.” The automated voice of the answering system came on and asked if she wanted to save or delete the message. Danni just held the phone for a moment and then hit the button to replay the message.
“What’s up, Danni?” Cordi peered over her sunglasses.
“Anson left me a message. Even his voice is sexy.”
“I’m sure it is.” Kyle rolled her eyes “Is there a problem?”
“Nah, just bad traffic.” She replayed the message again and held out the phone to Cordelia. “Want to hear it?”
“That’s alright… this is your thing.” She smiled without looking up from her book. Kyle watched Cordelia sink lower in the chair, maintaining her ever present composure. Kyle pushed up from the bench and settled herself into the chair beside her quietest friend.
“You don’t always have to give in on everything.” She said quietly, making sure Danni was still distracted.
“Kyle, enough. Just enough. Please” Taking a long drink from her water bottle, she refused to look at Kyle. Bianca and Rayne arrived at that moment, providing a much needed distraction for Cordelia.
“B, you look hot.” Cordi whistled at her sister.
“I know.” Bianca smiled over her shoulder jokingly. “Think Greg’ll like it?”
“I don’t’ know how he couldn’t.” Kyle smiled as she took in Bianca’s typical skimpy outfit. Her shorts barely covered more than her bikini bottoms and she hadn’t bothered to put a shirt over the top. “You and Danni match though, perhaps pink is the colour to wear to impress boys.”
“We do match. I didn’t even notice. Oh well, we’re after different guys, right.”
“What’s that?” Danni looked up from her phone. “Hey, look we match.”
Rayne laughed throwing her bag into the tent. Her outfit didn’t cover much more than Bianca’s.
“What? Why are you all laughing?” Danni looked confused.
“We were just commenting on how you two match. Trying to impress your boys.”
“Oh, okay. “ Danni shrugged and turned back to her phone.
“Danni got a message from Anson. She’s been listening to it non-stop since we got back from the showers.” Kyle raised an eyebrow.
“Wow. Obsessive much?” Rayne’s face mirrored Kyle’s.
“Hey, it’s still the new throws of a crush. You know what that’s like.” Danni shrugged.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Rayne flopped into a shaded chair to lather on sunscreen.
“You’re telling me if this message had been from Caleb you wouldn’t have asked me to listen to it?” Danni raised an eyebrow at Rayne
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Rayne repeated defensively “I don’t like Caleb.”
“He’s my brother, dude. I can tell when girls are paying special attention to him.”
“I don’t!! For real! I have no feelings for him.” Rayne help up her hands.
“Right.” Danni looked at her over the top of the water bottle “Anyway… traffic is bad so the guys are going to be about an hour later than they thought. Greg and Blaine took a separate vehicle, so they may be earlier, I haven’t heard from them.”
Bianca crawled into the tent, “I have a message.” Silence fell for a minute. “They’ll be here in about fifteen.” Sitting down at the table, she called her boyfriend, and talked with him until Blaine’s Civic pulled onto the gravel.
“Hey ladies,” Blaine called as he popped the trunk.
Danni asked, glancing into the tightly packed trunk. “How long do you guys think you’re staying? There’s enough stuff in here for a week.”
“You can never be too prepared.” Blaine shrugged.
“Man, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you and Cordelia would be perfect for each other.” Danni laughed.
“Watch it!” Blaine glanced towards the other. He pulled the tent bag out and jammed it into her arms a little harder than necessary.
“Sorry! Sometimes I forget. I’ll just put this over here.” Danni headed over the gravel parking space to an empty patch of grass.
“Cord, can you find the other handle for the cooler?” Blaine wrapped his hand around one of the handles.
“No problem,” Cordelia leaned into the trunk, moving sleeping bags and pillows until she found the other one.
“Thanks,” She replied sheepishly
“Can we talk later?”
“Sure. Something wrong?”
“Nope. I just want to run something by you privately.” Blaine replied quietly.
“Kyle and I are hiking over to the rock face later this afternoon. That might be a good time.”
“Sounds like a plan. Now heave.” They lifted the heavy cooler out of the trunk and side stepped to the shade.
Half an hour later, Caleb called to say they were even further behind because of an accident. With forty-five minutes to kill, Greg and Bianca wandered off some alone time, and Kyle, Cordelia and Blaine headed down to the Rock face while Rayne and Danni waited impatiently for boys they couldn’t wait to see.