Wait Chapter Eleven: Pulling Together the Pieces

Mandy, Jeremy, Alex, and Jake all walked in to The Mediterranean House, a restaurant that, by its name, served food from countries that touched the Mediterranean Sea. It was a place known for having delicious food and for not being crowded before school dances. Jeremy walked up to the host stand. “Jeremy Taylor, party of four at 5:30,” he told the host. The host ran his finger down the list of reservations. “Ah, yes,” he said, taking a pen and crossing off their name. “Let me lead you to your table.” The host grabbed four menus and led the group to a table with a view of the waterfront. “Your server will be right with you.” The four thanked him and sat down, Jeremy and Jake pulling out the chairs for Mandy and Alex. “Thanks, guys,” the girls told them. “I’m paying for your dinner, Mandy,” Jeremy told her. “I’m paying for yours, Alex,” Jake said. The girls looked at each other. “Let’s order the most expensive thing on the menu!” Alex suggested. “But what if we don’t like it?” Mandy asked. “Oh, who cares? They’re paying,” Alex said. The girls laughed. “Kidding, guys. We would never do that to you on purpose,” Mandy said. “Or would we?” “You two are just weird sometimes,” Jeremy told them. “Thanks. We know,” Alex replied. The server came and took their drink orders. The group prayed for safety on the ride to and from the dance, that the dance would go well, that it would be a night they would always remember, and that God would give them a good night. “Amen,” they all said in unison. The server cam back with their drinks and took their food orders. Alex ordered chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, Jake ordered broiled steak with Greek stuffed olives, Jeremy ordered the Pasta de Roma, and Mandy ordered spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese. “You’re going with Mandy to see her dress before the hair appointment, aren’t you?” Jake asked Alex while they waited for their food. “Yeah,” she replied. “I’m going to take the bus to my house afterwards and get ready for the dance. Then you’ll pick me up at 8:30 and take me to the dance with you and Jeremy.” “Yep,” Jake replied. “Wait. Why isn’t Mandy going to the dance with us?” “I want to surprise you with my dress. When I walk in alone, no one will know who I am,” she replied. “How will you find us?” Alex asked as their dinner arrived. “You’ll know what my dress looks like, Alex,” Mandy replied. “That and I know a surefire way to find you all. It’s a surprise, though.” “Thanks,” the group told the waiter as he set down their food. “Enjoy your meal,” he replied back. The group ate their meal and continued talking about the upcoming dance that night. Soon enough, they paid for the meal and walked out of the restaurant. Jake kissed Alex goodbye and walked to his car. Jeremy held Mandy’s hand as the trio walked to his car. After they got buckled and Jeremy pulled out of the parking lot, he told Mandy, “I’m sending a small limo to pick you up for the dance at nine. It’s an older model car. It’s black. The driver’s name is Gordon Campbell.” “Oh, I know him! He and my grandpa were best friends since they were in diapers. I haven’t seen him since my grandpa died ten years ago,” Mandy told him. “Then he’ll be glad to see you,” Alex said. “Probably,” Mandy replied as Jeremy pulled up to the San Heights Apartments. “See you two tonight!” Jeremy said. He kissed Mandy on the cheek before she got out of the car to join Alex on the sidewalk. The girls waved goodbye. “You should totally marry him some day,” Alex told Mandy as they walked through the lobby and got into the elevator. “Maybe I will,” Mandy replied, smiling.

“Ready to see it?” Mandy asked Alex, her hands gripping the curtains that concealed the dress. “Come on already!” Alex replied. “I’m not getting any younger here!” Mandy took a breath. “Ok, then. Here it is,” Mandy said as she parted the curtain. “Oh. My. Goodness!” Alex screamed as she saw the dress. It was a long strapless lavender and black gown. The top was lavender satin. Black lace would cover the bodice while a top layer of lavender satin, a middle layer of black lace, and a bottom layer of lavender satin covered her legs. The middle layer of black lace covered the bottom layer of lavender and the top layer of lavender parted in the middle to make the layer of black lace visible. A silver ribbon went through holes on the back of her dress, tying into a bow at the middle of the lower back. Alex walked around the dress a few times before stopping in front of it. “What shoes are you wearing with it?” She asked. Mandy pulled out her three inch, peep-toed, black patent pumps. “These,” she said. “The dress covers them and they balance out the elegance of the dress.” “Ok,” Alex said. “What about accessories?” Mandy opened a box that held a key pendant in it. “This is the necklace. It was my mom’s.” She opened a small velvet box. “These are the earrings Jeremy gave me on our sixth month anniversary. Plus, the rings I’m wearing now.” “Perfect,” Alex told her. “He won’t know what hit him.” Mandy smiled. “I just hope he isn’t blinded by the dress.” Mandy looked at her clock. “I should get going.” Mandy and Alex grabbed their bags and got in the elevator. They got to the bottom floor and ran down the street to the bus stop. They got on the 226 bus, payed the fare, and sat as it drove deeper into the city. A few stops later, Alex had to get off. “See you tonight, Alex!” Mandy called to her. “See you in your gorgeous dress tonight, Mandy!” Alex called back. “Let’s hope Jeremy isn’t blinded by your beauty!” Alex got off the bus and started to walk toward her house. Mandy rode the bus until it reached downtown and the street where the hair parlor was. She got off and ran to the hair salon. “Mandy!” some of the hairdressers called out. They all knew her since her mother had once worked at the salon. Mandy came here because it was the closest place she could go to so she could be where her mother had once been. Carla, one of her mom’s oldest friends besides Jackie, came over and guided Mandy to a wash station. Mandy let her hair out of its ponytail and shook it loose. She sat in the chair and leaned back as Carla began to wash her hair, making it turn curly again. Mandy usually straightened her hair every morning. Her hair was shampooed, conditioned, rinsed, and towel-dried. Mandy was lead to another chair and placed in it. Product to prevent flyaway hairs was put in her hair. Another hairstylist came over to help. Part of Mandy’s hair was straightened; other parts were curled using a large barrel curling iron. Her hair was parted on the side, the straightened hair combed over so it gave the appearance of side-swept bangs. The curly hair was gathered into an elegant bun/twist at the top back of her head. Hair spray was used periodically to tame any flyaway hairs. A braid, like the one she wore on the date after the basketball game, was pinned on the other side of her head. A strand of hair on each side of her head, just behind her ears, was taken out of the bun and curled. A little more hair spray and her hair was done. The curls provided texture to the bun, which was large. “There you go, Mandy,” Carla said as she turned Mandy around to look in the mirror. “Ah!” Mandy screamed. “It’s perfect!” She gave Carla, Cassie (the other hairdresser), and all of the other hairdressers a hug. “It’s on the house, Mandy,” Carla told her. “Thank you all!” Mandy said as she picked up her bag and walked toward the front door. The entire salon started clapping. Mandy turned around, gave everyone a curtsy, and walked to the bus stop. She was trying hard not to mess up her hair. The 228 bus came by and picked Mandy up. “Tonight’s the dance, isn’t it?” Keith, the bus driver Mandy had known since she was a baby, asked her as she paid her fare. “Yep,” she replied, sitting behind him on a seat. “You’re going with Jeremy, aren’t you?” Keith asked. Mandy nodded. “It’s been two years since we started dating. A long and wonderful two years.” Mandy stood up and got off the bus. “See you later!” Keith called to her before he shut the door and drove off. Mandy walked into the market to pick up Jeremy’s boutonnière. “If I get married this summer, he’s going to be on my guest list,” Mandy thought to herself. Jackie appeared with the boutonnière. “Have a great time, girl,” she told Mandy as Mandy walked out the door and back to her apartment. She got inside and immediately brushed her teeth. The last thing she wanted was bad breath. She took the dress off the dress stand and went into the bathroom to change. She came out and opened her closet to put on her heels. She put on her makeup, which Alex had suggested should included light blush, soft magenta lip stain, petroleum jelly instead of lip gloss, and matte gray eyeshadow. She had put her earrings in and painted her nails black by the time she heard the apartment door open and shut and her uncles calling out her name. “I’m coming!” Mandy hollered through her bedroom door. She put on her mother’s necklace before she opened the door. “Wow, Mandy. You are going to knock Jeremy off his feet,” Jack said as she appeared and twirled around. “That’s kind of the point, Uncle Jack,” she told him. She walked to the front mirror and put on her mask, which was silver with black swirls on it. She walked to the fireplace and posed for pictures. She put on her black double-buttoned coat, grabbed her purse, and Jeremy’s boutonnière. She gave both uncles a hug and walked down the stairs to meet Gordon in the lobby.

“Hi Gordon,” Mandy said as she approached him. “Mandy,” he replied, reaching out and giving her a hug. “I haven’t seen you since your grandfather’s funeral. Are you ready for the dance?” he asked, taking in her appearance. “Definitely,” Mandy replied as Gordon opened her door and she got inside. She buckled herself in as Gordon began to drive away. “I'm ready for anything.”

“Where is she?” Jeremy asked, fiddling with the string on his mask. It was 9:30, and Mandy still hadn’t shown up. “The corsage isn’t going to rot before she gets here,” Alex told him, glaring through her mask. “Just be patient.” Mandy had arrived at the school. But she was putting her plan in motion at the moment, so she hadn’t appeared just yet. She checked her coat and purse in outside the gym door. She gave the committee her ticket and walked inside holding Jeremy’s boutonnière in her hand. She immediately walked over to the DJ. She motioned to Drew, one of Jeremy’s former basketball teammates. “Play Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong with Me’ please,” she told him. He nodded and loaded the CD into his player. Mandy walked back across the room, close to wear her friends were standing. The song began to play. “That’s our song together," Jeremy said. “I wish she was here to dance with me to it.” “She’ll show up, man,” Jake told him. “Let’s go out on the dance floor and wait for her.” They walked out to the middle of the floor. As the song continued to play, Mandy silently followed them. Alex caught sight of her and sent her a message with her eyes, asking if she could tell him to turn around yet. Mandy smiled and nodded as the crowd parted to let her through. “Turn around,” Alex whispered into Jeremy’s ear. Jeremy turned around and his jaw dropped. Here came Mandy, walking in the most elegant outfit he had ever seen her in. She pinned his rose boutonnière onto his jacket. He slid the lavender corsage onto her left wrist. He took her in his arms and began to dance with her. “I’m guessing you requested the song?” Jeremy asked her. “Yeah. All part of my plan,” she told him. The song ended and everyone clapped. It was time to announce the ‘Classic Couple’ of the dance. “This was probably the most unanimous vote we’ve ever had for this,” Principal Hartley told the crowd. Everyone cheered. Mandy and Jeremy just stood looking into each other’s eyes. “And the winner is… Jeremy Taylor and Mandy Watson.” The entire gym turned toward Jeremy and Mandy. “It’s time to go to the stage,” Jeremy said, holding Mandy’s hand. They walked up to the stage, where both of them had a crown placed upon their heads. Jeremy handed Mandy a bouquet of roses. They bowed and walked off the stage as music began to play again. Jeremy and Mandy danced the night away, laughing. He once picked her up by the waist and spun her around. Jeremy was happy because he finally knew when he was going to propose to Mandy. Mandy was happy because it was a night she would always remember. The pieces of her life had finally fallen into their perfect places. Mandy couldn’t be any happier about it.





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