Prom Ever After: Haute Date / Save the Last Dance / Prom and Circumstance (Harlequin Kimani TRU Series)by Dona Sarkar, Caridad Ferrer, Deidre Berry
Prom night is finally here. Three girls will find that the biggest night of high school can also be the most surprising .
Haute Date by Dona Sarkar
Ashmita Montague has fallen for the perfect prom dressbut it's way over her budget. How can she impress the school's star athlete while wearing her mom's hand-me-down Indian/p>/b>/p>… See more details below
Prom night is finally here. Three girls will find that the biggest night of high school can also be the most surprising .
Haute Date by Dona Sarkar
Ashmita Montague has fallen for the perfect prom dressbut it's way over her budget. How can she impress the school's star athlete while wearing her mom's hand-me-down Indian wedding dress? Then she gets creative and decides to revamp the dress with the help of her best friend Sebastian. A sudden unexpected chemistry takes Ash by surprise and makes her wonder if it's time to make some major alterations to her love life, too .
Save the Last Dance by Caridad Ferrer
Peyton Chaffee's wealthy parents won't believe she's serious about becoming a chef until she proves herself by working in the kitchen for a prestigious event on prom night. They disapprove of her culinary ambitions and her boyfriend, Eddie. Is she ready to sacrifice one unforgettable night for a chance that could change her entire future?
Prom and Circumstance by Deidre Berry
Everyone knows that popular, pampered Aubrey Garrett is a shoo-in for prom queen. So, self-professed nerd Deanna Parker takes her own nomination as a joke. But with the entire school dividing into Team Aubrey or Team Deanna, competition is getting fierce fast, and there's more at stake for each girl than just a glittering crown.
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Ash Montague ignored the male voice as she dismounted her Vespa and removed her helmet. She glanced up at the storefront located on the side of the historic Fairmont hotel that held the key to her happiness: a prom dress so stunning and so unique that it would hopefully knock Armstrong Jones out of his disinterested hipster mode for good.
A wolf whistle followed.
Ash tended to draw a lot of attention around town when she went anywhere on her burgundy Vespa. People apparently weren't used to seeing girls scooting around Seattle on little two-wheeled vehicles, especially while wearing dresses and ladybug-print helmets. "The expected was never memorable," Ash's glamorous globe-trotting grandmother, Glamma, had always said, and Ash stuck to that mantra as a tribute, even four years after her passing.
"Hey! I'm talking to you. Don't be a bitch." The voice was suddenly behind her.
Ash whirled around, startled. The voice had sounded like it was from across the street. She didn't like that someone had sneaked up on her so quickly.
The guy had to be in his thirties. Gross. He was standing in front of her, way too close, trying to look casual, jeans ripped down both thighs, thumbs tucked into his back pockets. Behind him were a group of men and women, all in the same skinny jeans, all seeming to be waiting for a bus. All of them stopped typing on their phones and were now watching her to see what she would do next. None of them looked as though they were in any hurry to help. Jerks.
"Oh!" Ash forced herself to smile. If he thought he was going to intimidate her, he was about to be surprised. "You want to show off for your friends! Sorry, I didn't realize."
The guy's grin dropped for a millisecond, then the smirky expression returned. "Don't you know you're supposed to say 'thank you' when someone compliments you?"
Ash continued to smile sweetly as she reached into her purse and grabbed her cell phone. "I'm so sorry for my oversight. Let me give you my number."
The guy looked pleased at this and turned around to make sure his audience was still rapt with attention.
"Smile!" Before he could react, Ash snapped a picture with her phone. "For my 'pictures of pedophiles' collection. You know, for that show with the undercover cops. There's a bunch of them over there-" she head-gestured toward the Starbucks on the corner "-filming this right now. You're about to be famous!"
The guy's face changed in a second. Eyes widened, mouth dropped. In an instant, he was gone. She heard his footsteps as he skidded around the corner.
Ash blew out the breath she'd been holding-she hadn't realized how scared she'd been till just then. She did a little curtsy for the audience at the bus stop. Most of them looked shocked; a few pantomimed applause.
That guy was not going to be messing with her-or any other girl-for a while. She hoped, anyway.
Ash's apprehensive mood vanished as soon as she set foot inside Rebel Without a Dress. There was no longer a doubt in her mind that love at first sight was actually a thing. She reached out and paused, almost afraid to touch the most beautiful dress she'd ever seen. It was so perfect, it might simply disappear into thin air.
"Melanie, that is a customer who just came in. Don't stand there like a mannequin. Greet her. Make yourself useful," a sharp voice cut through the angels' choir in Ash's head.
Ash glanced over at the tall, basketball player-looking girl with a halo of frizz around her head who was the subject of the yelling. She looked familiar. Poor thing was now stumbling toward her after being dressed down by her boss, a pinched-nose, pale blonde woman who had a disgusted expression on her would-have-been-pretty face.
"Hi. Hi. Sorry I didn't come over earlier. Can I help you?" the lanky girl asked breathlessly.
Ash smiled at her, feeling sorry for the girl for having such a nasty manager. She recognized Melanie as a sophomore who frequently loped through the hallways like an antelope, always with a surprised expression on her face. She was a cute girl and would be enviably graceful and willowy once she grew into her long limbs. Ash was always envious of tall people-the one thing she would never be able to accomplish.
Melanie grinned back as she watched Ash lift the hanger off the rack and hug it close. "Would you like to try it on?"
"I would like to marry it." Ash twirled the orange silk dress around in the air. "God, it's beautiful."
"I'll open you a dressing room. We only got that one in two sizes, the one you have there and huge. I'll make sure no one else gets to see it before you."
Ash handed it over and made the rounds of the store, halfheartedly sorting through generic-looking dresses and accessories, occasionally stopping to make sure no one else was going into her dressing room. She was not letting the Dreamsicle, as she'd already deemed the dress, out of her sight.
"You're going with Armstrong Jones, right?" Melanie was back at her side in an instant. "God, you're so lucky. I love his blog. And his podcast. Is he really that funny?"
"Yes, he's amazing." Ash couldn't help but feel smug. Yes, yes, yes, she was going with Armstrong Jones, their school's star blogger and podcaster. His series on observations of society was so hilarious that local colleges had started asking him to blog for them, as well. Plus, he was incredibly hot in that skinny-on-purpose kind of way.
It had taken him four years to notice her. She was determined not to lose his interest on prom night, when his sensors would be in full gear looking for material for his blog. That gorgeous orange dress waiting for her in the dressing room would hopefully ensure that. She wanted the contents of his blog cynically recapping the prom to be vague because he hadn't been able to take his eyes off of her the whole evening.
"Melanie! Why are you just standing there like a statue in the garden of good and evil? Bring her other options!" The painfully thin voice of Melanie's boss barked more orders. "What is the matter with you? Move faster!"
Jeez, this manager was horrible. Plus, every time she screamed, Ash jumped as though she were committing a crime.
Before Melanie could start pushing things Ash didn't want to see anyway, Ash charged straight toward the dressing room, pausing at the checkout counter where Melanie's boss was poring over a catalog.
"I just wanted to say-" Ash gave the manager her sweetest smile "-I love that this store kind ofjust lets you shop. I hate when salespeople follow you around like you're about to steal something. Or trying to make you buy tie-dyed Ugg boots or something to drive up commission. That's so insulting."
The blonde supervisor didn't even look up from what she was reading.
"You should give Melanie a raise or something. She helped me find the best dress ever," Ash prodded. Still nothing.
Wow. Poor Melanie. This job must pay well, at least.
Ash shot a sympathetic glance at Melanie and she ducked into her dressing room. She was so excited to try on the dress that she started to shed her '50s-style polka-dot dress into a ball even before fully closing the door behind her. She slipped the silky dreaminess of the Dreamsicle over her shoulders and watched it flutter to the ground.
It was lovely.
It made her look fun and regal at once-a difficult achievement when one was not quite five foot two inches, and in laceless Skechers at that. The color made her light olive skin glow. Her new Bettie Page bangs over her shoulder-length bob went elegantly with the dress's strapless neckline.
The dress had a dropped-waist bodice and a hem that stopped at mid-thigh in the front. In the back was a long, drapey train that fluttered every time Ash moved. The Dreamsicle was a glorious tangerine peacock.
The pièce de résistance was a series of boomerang-shaped cutouts all up and down both sides that showed off Ash's midsection, which she usually never thought much about. The ten years of tae kwon do her father had insisted on were finally paying off for something. Other than the defending of the small and nerdy, of course.
She couldn't believe she actually felt pretty. Not just "kind of cute." But actually pretty. She almost squealed when she looked at her reflection again.
She quickly texted her neighbor and best friend, Sebastian, who'd accompanied Ash's mom to the bookstore down the street. Mission accomplished. Come see. Bring Mom.
Ash did a spin to the latest beat pulsating through the dressing room and stared at herself some more. She wanted Armstrong Jones to look at her as though he was looking at a vintage record from 1970. Would this dress do the trick? She was sure she'd be the only girl at the prom in it.
For weeks, Ash had worried she wouldn't find a dress that was cool, fun, unusual and most of all, unforgettable. All the things Armstrong was and thought she was, too. She was not going to prove him wrong with some generic one-shoulder satin dress in an Easter-egg color.
Prom season was in full effect in Seattle, and every store in the city had its best selections out. Ash had purposely chosen Rebel Without a Dress, the most eclectic store in the downtown area, knowing most girls from her school didn't even know the store existed, much less remembered it during prom season. It was hidden away behind Luly Yang, Seattle's most famous couture dress boutique.
Armstrong hated mainstream things. And the Dreamsicle was the opposite of mainstream. She couldn't believe she'd snagged the only one in her size.
Fate. Destiny. Perfection.
Ash whipped out a matte red lipstick and sharpened her Cupid's bow.
Perfect. Her mother was going to be blown away.
Minutes later, Ash heard her mom's telltale high-pitched English accent.
"Ash! Ash are you in here? Where are you, darling? I don't see you!"
"Mom, in here!" Ash stuck her hand up in the air and waved, hoping Sebastian had come, too. This dress might need some convincing on the parental front due to the cutout situation. Sebastian was always good with her parents.
"Here!" She waved harder.
Ash heard peals of giggling from the dressing room next to her. Great. Witnesses. Embarrassment galore. At least the chances of their knowing her were slim.
"Mom! Seb! Seriously, you guys?" Ash stuck her head out from behind the door, wondering why this was so difficult. Her petite, dark-featured doppelganger mother and tall, faux-hawked Sebastian stood right in front of the door, the complete odd couple. "Right here. I'm not deaf-you don't need to yell."
"Well, you don't answer, love. And no one can hear anything over this atrocious music."
Could she be any louder or more embarrassing? Ash hoped the girls who'd been giggling earlier couldn't hear the conversation over the music.
Ash saw Sebastian stifling a laugh.
"Sebastian said you found a dress."
"Will you do us the grand honor of showing it to us then? Or are we to figure out what it is by means of osmosis?"
"Mom! This. Is. Amazing. You'll love it. Are you ready?"
Laila Montague did her own version of an eye roll. "Breathlessly."
"Okay, be amazed." Ash threw open the door with a hard bang.
Laila blinked as she looked over the dress top to bottom. Sebastian's eyes widened.
"That's not good." Her mother was not known for tact.
"What? The fact that it doesn't already belong to me? You bet it's not good." Ash swirled the skirt around and around for effect, watching her reflection.
"No, the dress is horrid."
Ash's mouth dropped open. She couldn't be serious. The dress was amazing. She'd never seen anything like it before.
"Mom! You're being mainstream again. Seb, tell her not to be judgmental."
"Seb, tell Ash it's not judgmental to speak the truth. It's horrid. That color. Those open parts." She gestured vigorously at the cutouts. "Why is it so short in the front? Did they run out of material? We can buy them some more at Nancy's Sewing Basket and fill in the rest."
"Seb!" Ash implored. Her mother was on one of her rants and only Seb could make her see reason.
"Mrs. M, the dress is really unusual. And it does make Ash look very tall."
"Sebastian, don't fall prey to my daughter's manipulation. You're smarter than that."
"Oh, Mrs. M. I'm staying neutral. Just showing a potential defense."
Ash's mother, a defense lawyer, raised an eyebrow at him.
He held up his hands in surrender. "Your dad. Smart man for staying home, that's all I'll say."
Ash exhaled, her blunt-cut bangs blowing straight up in the air. This was not going well.
"No matter," Laila continued. "I'm sure this shop is quite expensive. How much is this dress?" She attempted to reach for the price tag.
"Does perfection really have a price?" Ash twirled around again, trying to keep her voice low and herself out of her mother's clutches. Everyone didn't need to know they couldn't afford anything. Plus, she hadn't had a chance to check, she'd been so blown away at its beauty. "Just look at how amazing it is. How one of a kind. No one else will have this."
"That's for sure. You couldn't pay me thirty-five dollars to wear that in public," her mother said. "How much is it?"
Ash grabbed the price tag. "Perfection at the low price of $799."
Yikes. That was a lot more expensive than she'd thought it would be. This was about to get worse.
Her mother's eyes widened. "For this dress? This unfinished, cutout spectacle?"
Even Sebastian looked surprised, but thankfully said nothing.
"I'll help pay for it! I promise!" Though she had no idea how that was going to happen. The prom was less than a month away and she hadn't had the forethought of having a paying job during the school year. She knew she should have charged for her tae-kwon-do instruction to the younger students!
"Ash, you're not leaving this dressing room in this dress. It's vulgar."
"Mumsie, please!" Ash tried the name she'd used to call her mother when she was younger. "I'll pay you back every cent of the dress by the time the prom arrives. I'll even put a down payment today!" She recalled having six dollars in her purse.
"Please change and let's go straightaway. We won't be able to afford anything in here. I've told you this before. Don't look at me with that hurt-puppy expression, love!" And with that, Laila left the dressing room. Sebastian gave Ash a sorry look before trailing her mother out.
No. Ash stood hopelessly in the corridor. This was not happening.
"Harsh," said a familiar voice. The dressing-room door next to Ash's opened. Two girls from the soccer team came out, each with armloads of dresses.
There went the "no one knew about this store" theory.
"Wow." Jessica Moriarty, the taller but less-pretty one pointed at the Dreamsicle. "I'd love to try that on if you're not going to get it. That's amazing."
Ash's cheeks burned. "I am going to get it."
"Yeah, okay." Jessica shrugged and giggled in her friend's direction. "Maybe you can find something like it at a thrift shop or something. You know. vintage."
Jessica didn't mean it in a helpful way. The Montague family's lifestyle had changed dramatically in the past year and, instead of shopping at Lululemon or Nordstrom like most of her friends, Ash had to resort to vintage scrounging at secondhand shops such as Crossroads Trading Co. and Red Light in Capitol Hill. She'd tried to do her best to make the full-skirted halter dresses, petticoats and sneakers look as deliberate as possible. At least they looked cute with her dad's vintage scooter when she pulled into the school's parking lot and always was able to park directly in front.
Though most people complimented her funky, offbeat style, Ash worried people were talking about her behind her back. Like Jessica, but actually discreetly.
Melanie appeared by Ash's side as the two girls left, still giggling between them. "I'll hide it for you. In the back. No one will know. Can you buy it by next weekend?" she whispered.
Ash shook her head and slammed the door before she started crying in front of Melanie. The Dreamsicle was the last one in her size There was no way it would be there past the weekend, even if Melanie did her damn best to keep it safe for her.
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