A/N: I feel like I'm saying this every time I post a new chapter of anything no matter what fic it is but like. I feel like this chapter is kinda boring. But, in my opinion, things pick up after this so I hope you guys stick with me for just a little longer. Two things with my writing: 1) I like to remind everyone at every opportunity that the characters are bi unless stated otherwise and 2) I like to be super obvious with my writing and it kinda feels like I'm flashing a giant neon sign in a scene towards the end of this chapter but lskdf. What can I say, that's just what I do. I said that a lot of this chapter was supposed to occur in chapter 2, but I split it up since it was double the length of chapter 1 and I wanted to keep some consistency but…I added a few more scenes so this chapter is still much longer than 1 and 2. I'm sorry for that. As always, please let me know what you guys think, even if it's just a keysmash or an emoji or whatever. I'll really like to know if you guys are enjoying this fic and if you'd like to see it continue or not.
Twenty minutes later, Zack and Bailey were standing in the beauty parlor, facing a very adamant London, who was sitting in a salon chair, her legs crossed, her nose stuck in the air and her lips pursed in scorn.
"C'mon, London. Please?" Zack pleaded.
"Nope," London deadpanned.
"Why not?" Zack persisted.
"I don't help people," she stated as she coolly examined her freshly manicured hand. Zack sighed, rolling his eyes as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"C'mon, Zack, maybe we should just-" Bailey began, lightly putting a hand on his arm.
"Besides, look at her," London interrupted, her face twisting in disgust as she gestured to Bailey, "it'd be way too much work." Bailey's eyebrows came together in annoyance, her mouth dropping open as she crossed her arms over in front of her, although she chose not to respond. She was pretty used to London's insults at this point. Zack's lips slowly curled into a smirk, a clever gleam in his eye.
"Yeah, you're probably right. It would be too much work," he began, his tone exaggerated, as he joined his hands together behind his back, and Bailey's insulted expression deepened as she shot daggers at him.
"You do realize I'm standing right here?" she snapped, speaking more to Zack than to London.
"C'mon, Bailey, London's right," Zack said, shooting a look to Bailey, "There's no way she'd be able to pull off something like this," he concluded through gritted teeth, overemphasizing every word, his gaze still locked on her. London froze, her eyes snapping to Zack.
"Excuse me?" London retorted, her brows knitted together in irritation. Bailey narrowed her eyes, puzzled by Zack's expression and tone before she quickly caught on to his plan, and realization dawned on her face. The two of them shared a subtle smile before turning their attention to London.
"Yeah. I don't know what you were thinking, Zack. There's no way London could achieve something of this magnitude," Bailey remarked dramatically. London's eyes darted to Bailey, her offended look intensifying.
"C'mon, Bails, we'll just have to think of something else," Zack announced theatrically, and with a shrug, he turned on his heel and started towards the exit. London huffed and stood up, her eyebrows furrowed.
"Hang on a second," she demanded, and Zack froze, his back still turned to her. "I could do it," she countered defensively.
"No, no. Just forget we even asked," Bailey insisted, dismissively waving her hand as she went to join Zack at his side, "We'll just go find someone else that's more suited to the task," she concluded and she and Zack took a few steps towards the door.
"Wait!" London called after them, and the two of them stopped. The three of them stood in silence for a beat, with Zack and Bailey subtly sharing a sly smile while London presumably contemplated what to do.
"I'm in," London declared finally, and Zack shot Bailey a satisfied grin before they both spun around, making their way back over to her.
"So… What do you suggest we do?" Bailey inquired, meeting London's gaze. London slowly approached her with a scrutinizing glare as she circled around her, examining her from head to toe. Bailey could feel herself getting self-conscious, but she resisted the urge to try to cover herself or make herself appear smaller.
When Zack had poked fun at her appearance earlier that day, Bailey knew that he was only half-serious, and if she was admitting things to herself, she often enjoyed their banter. But, knowing London, she knew her comments would be all serious and most likely twice as scathing, which caused Bailey's insecurity to escalate with each passing second.
"We'll start with the hair," London announced as she stopped directly in front of Bailey, lifting the ends of her hair on each side of her face with a repulsed expression. "We'll do lowlights, we'll trim those nasty split ends, and you are in desperate need of a blowout."
"Sounds-" Bailey began, but London cut her off.
"Oh, I'm just getting started," she interjected, letting go of Bailey's hair as she began to pace, her high heels making a clicking sound on the tiled floor. Bailey and Zack shot each other slightly wide-eyed looks, and Bailey wondered for a second if Zack was also thinking that perhaps this had been a huge mistake.
"After that, we've got to do something about those badger claws you call fingernails."
Bailey pushed her lips together for a second, taking a deep breath.
"Okay," she responded slowly, trying her best to remain positive and polite despite the fact that she was being insulted.
"Then we'll have to do something about your outfits. Anything to fix this whole farmgirl look," London continued as she stopped pacing for a moment, her lips pursed together in distaste.
"That's what I said!" Zack chimed in with a toothy grin, and he and London shared a laugh, as they started playfully poking fun at Bailey's expense.
"Ha ha ha, okay," Bailey grumbled, her face twisted in aggravation, and the two of them promptly ceased the teasing, with Zack's smile immediately vanishing, while London just rolled her eyes. "Like I told Zack, it's not like I can afford a whole new wardrobe here," Bailey continued.
"Well, as much as you desperately need a new wardrobe, at least a couple of new outfits is better than this," London declared, her revolted expression returning as she gestured to Bailey's current attire. Bailey bit her lower lip, biting back her words as it became increasingly difficult to hide her frustration."Besides, it's not just about getting you new stuff. It's also about utilizing what you already have. And after that, we'll work on your face. Now that's-" London proceeded, holding up an index finger, but Bailey put her hands up to stop her.
"Okay! No need to comment anymore, let's just do it," she interjected through gritted teeth, the best fake smile she could muster plastered on her face. She glanced over at Zack, who was now staring at the floor, chewing on his thumbnail, obviously trying to hide his amusement at the situation. He met her gaze after a second, and she shot him a dirty look, although she couldn't help the tiniest grin tugging at her lips, which just caused his smile to grow.
London's lips curved into a determined smile and she snapped her fingers twice before pointing an index finger to Bailey. A second later, Bailey was being swarmed by a half a dozen workers, who began dragging her into the heart of the salon. She shot Zack an uneasy look, her eyes practically pleading with him to help her, but he just grinned at her as he playfully waved goodbye.
"You know, London," Bailey started, her eyes still locked on Zack, a crafty smile slowly creeping onto her face as she continued to get pulled away from them, "Zack was just telling me that he'd love to get your opinion on his appearance and what he could improve on," she finished, and his eyes went round, his teasing smile immediately disappearing. London turned her attention to him, her face twisting in contempt once more.
"Where do I even begin?" Bailey heard London state, and she tried to stifle a laugh. She and Zack locked eyes again, and it was like they were having an entire conversation without actually saying a word.
"Payback," she was saying by playfully sticking out her tongue and waving goodbye to him in the same manner he had just a few moments ago. He crossed his arms over his chest as he glared at her, determination flashing in his eyes.
"I'll get you back for this," he was saying, which only caused her smile to widen. She could tell from the gleam in his eye that he was only pretending to be upset with her, and just as she was pulled to a place where he was no longer in view, she could've sworn she had seen the smallest of smiles dance across his lips. She was then promptly thrust into an empty salon chair and the employees immediately commenced work on her hair and nails.
Bailey spent what felt like an eternity to her in the salon, getting lowlights in her hair, a new haircut, a blowout, and a full set of acrylic nails, with a fresh coat of cherry red nail polish. When she finally reunited with Zack and London a few hours later, the pair of them were engaged in a seemingly heated debate, so much so that they hadn't even noticed she had returned. London was seated in one of the salon chairs facing the mirror as she applied a new coat of lipgloss, with Zack lounging in a row of chairs in the waiting area across from her, his legs dangling over one of the armrests.
"I'm just saying, being bi isn't an excuse to dress tacky," London argued, rubbing her lips together before meeting his gaze in the mirror.
"That's the perfect excuse," Zack disputed, sitting up a little, smacking the back of his hand into the palm of the other. London screwed the cap back onto her tube of lipgloss as she twisted around in the chair to face him.
"Then how do you explain me?" she countered as she stood up before gesturing to her outfit and jutting out her hip, an overconfident smile spreading across her freshly glossed lips.
"Who says your outfits aren't tacky?" Bailey quipped, and their eyes flicked to her, a smile dancing across Zack's face as he stood up while London glared at her.
"What'd you just say?" she snapped, and a wry smile appeared on Bailey's face.
"I'm kidding," she said, taking a few steps towards them, "We all know your outfits are the exception, not the rule." London's eyes moved from Bailey to Zack, but he just shrugged in agreement as he made his way to London's side. London opened her mouth to respond, but Bailey interrupted her, knowing that if she didn't change the subject soon, this disagreement could go on for a while.
"So, what do you think?" she asked, twirling in place as she dramatically flipped her hair over her shoulder. A satisfied smile crossed London's face.
"Much better. You almost look decent," she answered enthusiastically, and Zack set his mouth in a hard line while Bailey just grinned.
She knew in London's world, that was meant to be a compliment.
Bailey looked at Zack then as she watched him expectantly. He noticed her looking at him after a minute, and he nervously shoved his hands into his front jean pockets.
"Uhh..." he stammered, his eyes narrowing a little as he examined her, "It looks...you look...good," he concluded. "What did they change, again?" he whispered to London, and she and Bailey rolled their eyes.
"Never mind," Bailey uttered with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"You do look good, though," he said sincerely, and the corners of Bailey's mouth quirked up. The three of them stood in awkward silence for a moment.
"So, what's next?" Bailey inquired finally.
"Next is makeup. You desperately need to learn how to-" London started, and Bailey's face fell as she took a deep breath, squeezing her eyes shut as she started rubbing her temple, steeling herself for a new slew of rude comments. Even though she was accustomed to London's insults, she had taken quite a few of them today and they were starting to wear on her.
"To highlight…" Zack interrupted, and Bailey's eyes snapped open again to see Zack stepping in front of London and raising his voice a little to try to drown her out, "Your natural beauty," he sputtered, putting his hands out in front of him, "Right, London?" he finished through gritted teeth, shooting a warning look at London. London scoffed.
"Sure. That's one way to put it," she deadpanned, and Zack exhaled sharply as he and Bailey shared a look.
"Thanks for trying," Bailey said to Zack, and she gave him a warm smile as she joined him at his side. London grabbed her purse that was hanging off the back of the chair she was sitting in just a minute ago and she gestured for them to follow her, leading them out of the salon and into a store a few doors down. She wove through the store, guiding the pair of them to a counter towards the back with glass cases underneath, stocked full of various cosmetic products.
"You know, it seems like you've got this covered, so I'm just going to go," Zack said as he pointed a finger towards the door, "Text me later," he said to Bailey, and he turned on his heel as he started back towards the front of the store.
"Oh, no, no, no," London retorted, grabbing him by his shirt collar and pulling him back, almost causing him to lose his balance in the process, "You dragged me into this, so you're not going anywhere. If I have to suffer, so do you."
London pointed to an empty chair in front of the counter for Bailey to sit in and Bailey complied. Zack exhaled sharply, aggressively readjusting his shirt as he glared at London. The two of them stared at each other for a moment, and Bailey could tell from Zack's expression that he was contemplating whether it would be worth it to try to argue with her or not. Finally, he let out a deep sigh of defeat as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Fine," he growled, and London just gave him a satisfied grin before she bent down and started perusing the products in the glass cases.
"How long do you think this'll take, anyway? Like, ten minutes?" Zack estimated, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans as he absentmindedly scanned the counter. London stopped what she was doing and turned her head to face him as she stayed silent. Zack looked over at her after a second when she didn't respond. "Fifteen?" he said, the disbelief dripping from his tone, but London just continued to watch at him as she straightened back up, crossing her arms over her chest. "Twenty?!" he uttered incredulously, the horror showing on his face. An amused grin spread across London's lips.
"You're adorable," she said condescendingly and she went back to picking out items. Zack let out a sharp breath as he slumped down into an empty chair next to Bailey, resting his chin in his hand.
Once London had compiled an assortment of products, she got to work applying Bailey's makeup and giving her tips on how to hide some of her "imperfections," to put it nicely. Zack did everything he could to entertain himself in the meantime, but after almost half an hour, Bailey could tell that he was getting restless. He anxiously bounced his leg in the chair as he let out sharp breaths every few seconds, his eyes scanning the shop for anything to distract himself. His gaze soon landed on an attractive blond that walked by, and his eyes stayed glued to her as she passed. A flirty smile crossed Zack's face as he stood up and started after her, but London reached out and grabbed him by the collar just as she had done before, all the while keeping her eyes on Bailey.
"No," she stated simply as she let go of Zack, and Zack once again bitterly readjusted his shirt, his eyebrows coming together in annoyance.
"Seriously?" he groaned, glaring at London, "It's not like I'm of any help here." London paused for a moment to meet his gaze.
"I told you: if I have to suffer, so do you," she said before she turned her attention back to Bailey.
"Again, right here," Bailey said flatly as she pointed to herself, but the two of them ignored her.
"But what's the problem in me going to go talk to someone for a second? I'll come right back," Zack insisted.
"I know you, and no you won't," London replied sternly.
Zack let out a sharp breath, pushing the hair from his eyes before he crossed his arms over his chest, mumbling something about how London "wasn't the boss of him," despite the fact that he was pretty much obeying everything she said. He watched her work for a minute with a pouty expression, before a clever look appeared on his face, his lips creeping into a smirk. He hunched down next to her so that they were almost cheek to cheek, and she jumped back a little, surprised by the sudden close proximity. She glanced at him irritably out of the corner of her eye before she went back to brushing on blush to the apples of Bailey's cheeks, now clearly trying to ignore the fact that Zack's chin was practically resting on her shoulder.
"Whatcha doin'?" he singsonged in her ear.
"Putting on blush," London answered, the tiniest hint of annoyance in her tone as she dipped a brush into a small compact that housed a pastel pink powder.
"What are you gonna do after that?" he continued, his eyes shifting to London for a second before they moved to the items on the counter behind Bailey.
"I'll probably do lipstick next."
Zack nodded in response before he straightened back up. He picked up a tool off the counter and started fiddling with it.
"What's this do?"
"It's an eyelash curler," London replied as she closed the compact in her hand, placing it in a bag with a bunch of new makeup she had hand-picked for Bailey.
"What's it do?"
London froze, a look of disbelief crossing her face as she turned to him.
"What do you think?" she said flatly, but Zack just shrugged, "It's an eyelash curler," she continued, putting emphasis on the words. Zack stared at her blankly. Bailey put her hand to her mouth and glanced down at the floor for a second, trying to conceal a smile.
"It curls. Your eyelashes," London explained, overenunciating every word and rolling her eyes as she turned her attention back to Bailey. Zack messed with it for a few seconds longer before he set it back down. London reached around Bailey to the counter, grabbing a brand new tube of cherry red lipstick, as she pulled the cap off and rolled the end a little.
"This will go perfectly with your new manicure," London commented as she started applying it to Bailey's lips just as Zack picked up London's makeup bag and started rifling through it.
"Do you really need all these brushes?" he interrogated as he pulled out a fistful and held them up. London snatched the case from him along with the brushes as she forcefully threw them back in. She exhaled sharply, her patience now dangerously thin.
"Yes. They all serve a specific purpose," she growled, flinging the bag back onto the counter before she returned to applying lipstick to Bailey's lips. Zack reached for something else on the counter, but his elbow bumped into London's arm and she let out a yelp as she accidentally smeared lipstick across the side of Bailey's face.
"Zack!" Bailey exclaimed as she jumped out of her seat. Zack winced as he looked between the two with an apologetic expression.
"My bad," he muttered, and London let out a huff as she turned to face him. She grabbed her purse off the counter, pulling out some money as she shoved it into his hand.
"Here. Here's twenty dollars, go get me a vanilla soy latte from the coffee shop across the way," she said, pointing to the exit.
"Twenty bucks for a latte?" he remarked in disbelief as he unfolded the bill in his hand, turning it over to examine it. London bit her lower lip in uncertainty as she pulled more cash out of her purse.
"Would fifty be better?" she inquired as she held up the money in her hand.
"Actually, London, what Zack meant was-" Bailey started, but Zack cut her off.
"Fifty's much more reasonable," he said, making sure he was loud enough to talk over Bailey as he snatched the cash from her with a greedy smile.
"Zack," Bailey warned, her tone sharp as she shot daggers at him.
"Don't worry, Bail, I'll get you something too," he replied, a sly smirk on his lips as he winked at her.
"Zack!" she barked, her voice a little more severe, but he continued to ignore her as he turned around and headed towards the door. She sighed as she glared at his back for a moment, as if her intense gaze would somehow will him to turn back around.
No such luck.
"Well, actually if you're going to get me something, I really want an iced matcha-" she called after him, her tone returned to normal.
"Matcha green tea latte," she and Zack both finished simultaneously.
"I know what you like," Zack replied without looking back, dismissively waving his hand. London grabbed a tissue and some makeup remover off the counter as she got to work removing the line of lipstick from Bailey's cheek.
"We're not going to see him again," Bailey mumbled as she watched Zack disappear around a corner.
"I know," London responded, and after a second they shared a playful smile.
Once London had finished with Bailey's makeup, she started taking her through the store, all the while picking out numerous articles of clothing and piling them into Bailey's arms. After London had buried Bailey under a mountain of clothes that made it almost impossible to see where she was going, she led her into a dressing room area that had a few hot pink ottoman's scattered about, along with a full-length mirror and a smaller room with a curtain in which to change. Bailey carelessly tossed the pile onto one of the stools and London sorted through them, putting a few outfits together for Bailey to try on. She handed them to Bailey, and Bailey went behind the curtain to change.
"So, what are you doing all of this for?" London asked suddenly, "Zack mentioned something about a bet?"
"Not so much a bet… More like a deal," Bailey corrected, slipping out of her jeans and into a miniskirt, emphasis on the mini.
"And the deal was?" London inquired. Bailey paused, biting her lower lip as her gaze flicked to the floor for a moment.
"Well, Zack needed help raising his grades so I promised him I would help him and in exchange, he's helping me… change my image," she explained.
"And why would you go to Zack, of all people, for that?" London interrogated. Bailey stayed silent for a beat. She knew London was going to keep grilling her until she got the full answer, but the more Bailey thought about it, the more ridiculous she felt about the whole thing.
"Well, it's not just my image. Zack's a guy, he's been on a lot of dates. I just thought he could help me become more…" Bailey began, trailing off before she could finish.
"More…?" London pressed. Bailey started pulling on a pair of strappy heels as she spoke.
"Well, now that I'm about to say it out loud, it sounds kind of silly, maybe even a little shallow, but he's helping me become more…desirable," she finished her voice barely above a whisper by the end as she threw open the curtain and met London's gaze.
She was expecting London to scoff or laugh or poke fun at her, maybe even hit her with a biting remark, but she didn't. A delighted expression crossed her face as her eyes scanned Bailey.
"Much better," London remarked. Bailey stepped in front of the full-length mirror, examining herself for a second. The outfit was a bit flashier and more revealing than something she would've picked for herself, but she didn't exactly hate it. She guessed it was somewhat of an acquired taste; something she could see herself getting used to eventually. London's smile faded a little as she met Bailey's gaze in the mirror.
"You never really cared before what you looked like," she started, and Bailey sucked her lips in for a moment as she tried to ignore that back-handed compliment, "So, why the sudden insecurity?" she finished, an intrigued expression etched on her face. Bailey took a deep breath as she turned around to face her, all the while contemplating her answer.
"I just… Kind of want to be noticed, you know? I mean, have you ever noticed how many guys flirt with you in comparison to me?"
"Well, duh, I'm me," London replied with a cocky smile as she dramatically flipped her hair over her shoulder. Bailey pressed her lips into a thin line.
"Now, when you say that, do you mean that you want to be noticed by all guys or just one specific guy?" London inquired. Bailey nervously tucked a stray hair behind her ear as she took a seat on one of the hot pink ottomans.
"I'm not saying it wouldn't be an added benefit if a certain guy were to start taking more notice of me," she answered slowly.
"So, you could say that all of this is for Cody," London commented, a hint of disdain in her voice. Bailey exhaled sharply.
"Not… entirely," she retorted, "I told you what it was for, his attention would just be an added benefit."
London pursed her lips in thought.
"Did you ever think that maybe the reason why it seems like to you, that guys don't notice you as much as me, isn't because they aren't, but just because you've been too busy noticing Cody not noticing you that you haven't noticed all the other guys noticing you?"
Bailey squeezed her eyes shut for a moment as her mind tried to decipher London's words. Her forehead creased as she looked at London, now clearly confused.
"What?" she breathed.
"Never mind," London responded as she started rifling through the pile of clothes. She hesitated after a moment, turning a little to face Bailey. "What is it about Cody that you like again?" she inquired. Bailey's eyes snapped to her.
"Why do you ask?"
"Curiosity," London answered, but Bailey could tell by her tone that there was more to it than that. Bailey stayed quiet for a minute as she considered her answer.
"Well…" she began, biting her lower lip in thought as her mind wandered to the object of her affection, a blissful smile spreading across her lips. "He's cute. Smart. Sweet," Bailey recounted, her tone wistful and her eyes sparkling as she pictured him in her head. A look of doubt crossed London's face and Bailey was pulled from her daydream, a curious expression now etched on her face. "You don't think so?" Bailey asked, her tone a little harsher than she intended.
"It's not that, it's…" London said, trailing off.
"It's?" Bailey insisted. London bit her lower lip.
"It's nothing. Never mind."
"No, you started this. What are you thinking?" Bailey demanded, and London exhaled sharply, her eyes locking with Bailey's.
"Well… It's just… Whenever you would describe the traits that you look for in a guy, they don't really match Cody to me," London explained. Bailey narrowed her eyes, an inquisitive expression on her face, prompting London to explain further. "For one, you say you like guys that are athletic. Definitely not Cody. Outdoorsy type? Still not Cody. Tough, but with a soft heart-"
"Aha! There! Cody has a soft heart," Bailey interjected, her tone triumphant as she pointed to London. London rolled her eyes.
"Fine. But the tough part?" she countered. Bailey's face faltered.
"Romantic…" London continued, but Bailey interrupted again.
"Okay, so that's what? One out of-" London began as she started counting on her fingers, her eyes rolling skyward as she tried to calculate the number of traits she had mentioned.
"I get your point," Bailey said flatly. "Since when do you listen to me, anyway?" she added, a tinge of annoyance in her tone. London rolled her eyes as she let out a sharp breath.
"I listen to you sometimes," she remarked. Bailey's eyes flicked to her lap as she started fiddling with the hem of her skirt.
"In any case, it's not like I was, or am, expecting to find someone with all of those exact traits."
London let out a "hmm," and Bailey could feel herself getting more irritated with each passing second.
"I suppose. But, if you were to ask me, I'd say your ideal guy sounds more like-"
"There you guys are!"
Both girls jumped at the noise as the pair of them turned to see Zack standing in the doorway holding two to-go coffee cups in his hands, one holding a hot beverage that was presumably London's vanilla latte, and the other one an iced green beverage, which Bailey assumed was her matcha green tea latte.
Bailey's heart skipped a beat as she remained frozen where she sat, her mind stuck on London's words, her eyes glued to Zack.
"Took you long enough," London grumbled as she took her drink from Zack.
"There was a long line," he responded with a shrug.
"You've been gone almost an hour," London shot back.
"It was a really long line."
London rolled her eyes as she took a sip. Zack turned his attention to Bailey then, and she stood up as he handed her the other cup in his hand.
"Thanks," she breathed, although she was having trouble focusing on what she was doing considering her mind was too busy trying to figure out what name London was about to say.
"What?" Zack questioned, and Bailey was pulled from her train of thought.
"You had a really intense look on your face," Zack replied.
"Oh, sorry. Just lost in thought."
Zack nodded in response. His eyes started scanning her, and she could feel herself getting self-conscious again, the longer he stared.
What do you think?" Bailey questioned, her tone much timider than she intended. His eyes flicked to hers.
"Permission to speak freely?"
"You look hot," he responded with a playful smile, and Bailey let out a light laugh, the heat rising to her cheeks. She could see London rolling her eyes out of her peripheral vision, but she chose to ignore it. After a moment, Zack's smile began to fade and an odd expression crossed his face. Bailey's face faltered as she glanced down at her outfit.
"What?" she asked, her eyebrows knitted together.
"It's nothing," he replied, but she could tell from his expression that he was lying.
"What is it?" she pressed.
"Do you like the changes?" he inquired suddenly, and Bailey blinked, somewhat taken aback by his question.
"The changes… Do you like them?" he echoed. Bailey thought it over for a minute. She loved the changes to her hair, and she liked the way the cherry red lipstick made her lips pop, but if she was being honest, the outfit was way too tight, the heels were uncomfortable, and she hated the acrylic nails.
"Yes," she answered.
"Then it doesn't matter what I think," Zack said simply. Bailey cocked her head to the side as she stared at him.
"But, you are thinking something. So, what is it?" she interrogated. Zack exhaled sharply, pushing his lips into thin line for a moment.
"Well, what?" Bailey urged.
"You don't look like you," he mumbled. Her shoulders dropped as she blinked, somewhat thrown.
Wasn't that sort of the point?
"So, what? I don't look hot normally?" she countered, crossing her arms over her chest and Zack let out a sharp breath.
"You know that's not what I meant. It's just that normally-"
"Zack," Bailey interrupted, as she gently grabbed his shoulder, a smile spreading across her lips, "I'm just teasing."
He smiled at her, but his smile didn't quite reach his eyes like it normally did. She smiled back, but she could feel a pit beginning to form in her stomach, his comment stuck in the back of her mind.
Bailey wasn't quite sure what she was expecting come Monday morning. She had worn one of the outfits London picked out for her; a mini skirt and a plain white t-shirt paired with a jean jacket and a set of strappy heels. The skirt was a bit shorter than something she would've gotten herself, but it wasn't too extreme or revealing. She had styled her hair in soft, casual curls that cascaded down her shoulders and gracefully framed her face. She had swiped on the all-too-expensive mascara and cherry red lipstick London had somehow convinced her to buy. She thought she looked nice. Pretty.
Still, there was a nagging feeling deep down inside of her, those words Zack had said when he first saw her, stuck in the back of her mind.
You don't look like you.
She stared at her reflection in the mirror for a beat.
Wasn't that kind of the point?
She shook the thought from her mind, taking a deep breath as she grabbed her backpack off the floor and started out the door. She made her way to her homeroom class, stopping in the hallway just short of the doorway as she inhaled, steeling herself to go in.
She wasn't really sure what she was expecting there either. As ridiculous and unrealistic as it sounded, she guessed that she half-expected one of those big reveals in one those cheesy teen movies, where the protagonist walks in in slow motion and the majority of the class stops to stare as they walk by.
That isn't exactly how it had played out.
Her entrance had garnered a few looks, but otherwise, most of the other students paid her no mind, as it was Monday morning, and they were too tired, too bored, and too unhappy to be there to pay her any attention.
Nevertheless, she did end up grabbing the attention of the one person she truly wanted to. Zack and Cody had been standing side-by-side near Cody's desk, and both of their eyes were glued to her when she walked in. She had even managed to get a double-take from Cody.
"Hey, Bailey," Cody said with a smile as she walked by, "new look?"
She stopped near his desk on the way to her own and she smiled at him.
"Yeah, do you like it?" she asked as she twirled around in place to give him a better look and she could feel his eyes examining her.
"Definitely! You look nice," he said with a grin. Her heart skipped a beat and she could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. "Did you get lowlights?" he inquired as he studied her hair for a moment. Bailey could see Zack rolling his eyes out of her peripheral vision.
"I did. Just wanted to try something new," Bailey responded.
"It looks good on you."
Butterflies started fluttering in Bailey's stomach and she thought for a second that her heart might actually beat out of her chest.
"What do you think of her new look, Zack?" Cody questioned as he shot a look at his twin. Bailey and Zack both shared puzzled expressions.
"I think she looks good?" Zack replied, uncertainty in his tone.
Ms. Tuttweiller strolled into the room then and she instructed everyone to begin taking their seats. Zack and Bailey said their goodbyes to Cody as they started towards their desks.
"What do you think that was about?" Bailey mumbled to Zack.
"It's Cody. I don't pretend to know nor care what goes through his mind," Zack whispered back as they both sat down.
Bailey pushed that last part of her interaction out of her mind, focusing instead on the part where Cody complimented her new look. She felt giddy and dizzy in the best way.
"Just a reminder to everyone," Ms. Tuttweiller announced, "Submissions for the Young Aspiring Writers Competition need to be submitted to me by end of the school day Friday."
Bailey scribbled that little reminder in her notebook before finally willing herself to stop replaying her encounter with Cody so that she could focus on class. Still, she couldn't help the small smile that now felt permanently etched on her lips.