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Liz rolled her eyes. She grabbed two more dresses that she had been eyeing earlier and took the room next to Victoria. It all really was pointless. She had plenty of dresses that she could wear to an event like this that no one had ever seen her in. Well, Hayden had probably seen her in most of them, and he was her date, but that didn’t matter. Hayden didn’t count.

The first dress was a knee-length black dress with a high neck and slight shimmer to it. She liked it, but it was a little tight through the hips, and she didn’t love it by any means. Victoria vetoed it immediately. The second dress, a baby-pink lace ensemble, also received an instant no.

Victoria would be trying on her dresses forever, so Liz took her time with the last one, the one that she had liked the most originally. She carefully pulled the zipper down to the bottom and stepped into the silky material. Finding the edge of the zipper, she pulled it back into place.

She stared at herself in the mirror and a sad smile crossed her face. The black dress was exquisitely cut and molded to her body in a way that made it seem it had been made for her. It was cap-sleeved with an extensively beaded bodice that hugged her torso. A soft silk material covered her athletic hips down to just a few inches above her knees. The back created a U shape to the middle of her back.

It was beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. Probably too beautiful to waste on a scholarship banquet.

Suddenly her vision blurred as tears marred her eyes. Liz saw herself then as a mirage. A woman floating and indistinguishable amongst her surroundings.

It was ridiculous for her to be near tears just from looking at a boutique dress. She hadn’t cried since the night of the argument with Hayden. Why was she crying now? She willed her tears away, but they refused, and she got a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

She loved Hayden. She adored Hayden. He was everything she ever wanted. Well, almost. Her stomach tightened painfully.

He was everything she ever needed. Taking a deep breath, she accepted that. Listing his qualities would take too long, and she knew what a great man he was. She didn’t need to convince herself. Yet as her eyes lifted back to the mirror, a tear trailed slowly down her pale cheek.

The guilt of what she had done was weighing on her heavier than ever. All she wanted to do was tell someone, anyone. But the one person she could talk to about it never wanted to see her again, and the one person she needed to talk to about it would never forgive her. He loved her, but how could he accept what she had done?

“Hey, bitch, check out this one,” Victoria said, banging on her dressing room door.

Liz wiped at her face and tried to compose herself before opening the door.

“You look great!” Victoria said, checking out the dress. When she looked back up at Liz, though, she tilted her head and furrowed her brow. “What’s this about? You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she croaked. She wasn’t hiding anything from her best friend.

“I mean, it’s just a dress, Liz. I think it looks great.” The look on Victoria’s face made it all too clear to Liz that Victoria knew it wasn’t the dress. “Now, what’s really wrong?” Victoria demanded, planting her hands on her hips.

Liz shook her head. “Nothing, Vic, I’m fine. No worries. Just a beautiful dress, huh?” she said, lying through her teeth.

“What the f**k is going on?”

“Nothing! Can’t I appreciate a good-looking dress?” She turned away from Victoria and looked at herself in the boutique’s trifold mirror.

“If it makes you cry that much, then don’t get it,” Victoria said flatly.

A tear rolled down Liz’s face when she stared at her reflection again. She very clearly looked as if she had been crying. God, she needed to get it together.

“Okay. I can’t make light of this anymore. What the f**k happened? Just f**king spit it out.”

“I kissed someone else!” Liz said, covering her mouth as soon as the words left it. She crouched in the middle of the dressing room and covered her face. Even as her tears continued falling, she brushed them away and looked back up at her friend.

Victoria’s mouth was hanging open and she was staring at Liz as if she had never seen her before. Liz shrank in on herself even more at the expression. Yeah, she was a terrible person.

“Oh my God! Was it recently?” Victoria asked, her eyes as large as saucers.


“Was it that night when you and Hayden got into an argument last October?”

Liz stood up and pushed her hair off her face. She felt clammy and slightly nauseated, but it felt good to get it out for the first time ever.

“Yeah. It was.”

“I knew it!” Victoria shrieked.

“Yeah, you guessed it. I’m a terrible girlfriend who cheated on her perfect f**king boyfriend. Yay! So glad you were right,” Liz said in frustration. She felt like shit.

“Oh, please, your boyfriend is not perfect! He pushed you into someone else’s arms. I would have f**ked someone else that night. You were totally in the right.”

“I was not!” Liz cried. “Are you insane? I kissed someone else while I’m dating Hayden.”

“Well, don’t tell the whole world,” Victoria said, nodding her head into the boutique.

Liz shook her head. She hadn’t been paying any attention to what was going on around her. “I’m going to change. I just want to go home.”

“Yeah, but you should get that dress.”

“I don’t want it.”

“But it’s like your meltdown dress. You need it.”

“Whatever,” Liz said, walking into the dressing room.

“So, who is the guy?” Victoria prodded after a couple silent seconds.

“It doesn’t matter.”

Liz took the dress off and put it back on the hanger before sliding back into her jeans and sweater. She was in and out of there in no time at all, but when she walked back out, Victoria was still in her dress.

“But really . . . you’re not going to tell me?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Um . . . it does.”

“Let’s just go,” Liz said, placing the dress on the return rack and folding her arms over her chest.

“You have been beating yourself up about this since October, and you’re not going to even talk about it with me now?” Victoria asked. She actually looked hurt.