Late Saturday night....14th January
Lottie had experienced crushes before. She had a long standing crush on a famous movie star who was about ten years older and went through women like she went through novels (at least one a week.) She had a crush on the recently solo boy band member (who hadn't come out yet...) She'd had a crush on real people too like her best friend from Green Lanes, Stacie's brother, Jeremy. That was mostly because he was the only boy she had ever known and had actually felt the same way about her, but they were both too shy and awkward to do anything about it. Whenever she went round to Stacie's and he'd be there, Jeremy would hide in his room and if he did make an appearance he would look anywhere but Lottie and mumble something indiscernible. He had bad skin which he would try to cover with a long fringe, but once Lottie caught a glimpse of his eyes which were an unusual light grey. Lottie used to dream about him when she couldn't sleep. She imagined going round to his house when no one else would be there and they wouldn't say a word, but he would lead her up to his room where they would lie on his bed, she would push the fringe out of his beautiful eyes and he would kiss her passionately for hours until their legs were so weak neither of them could stand. The bit about them not saying anything was very likely to happen, but neither of them would ever make a move so it was complete fantasy.
And now, Teddy dominated Lottie's mind and the feelings she thought she had for poor acne riddled Jeremy had completely vanished. Teddy was something else with his tall muscular frame, golden hair and green eyes. He had an air of confidence about him and when she had stumbled into him the day before he had a slight musky scent, but also a sharp, fresh tang of pine and lemon. She imagined seeing him again so he could return her book. They would meet at the bench and he would take her by the hand and lead her into the woods until they found a patch of ground completely shadowed by trees, lay her down and do unspeakable things to her, all without saying a word (Lottie wasn't very good at conversation with the opposite sex as you can probably imagine by now.) And then with a disappointing rush of reality, Lottie realised this would never happen as Teddy had a girlfriend. And Eden of all people.
She was shocked when she realised that was who he was. Eden didn't have any photos of him in the dorm, in fact Lottie realised, she didn't have photos of anybody. And neither did she mention him much. Someone called Noah appeared in more conversations than Teddy. Lottie relaxed slightly. Maybe this meant something. Maybe, one day, she stood a chance.
Eden had snuck into the dorm in a foul mood just before midnight. Mrs Bell had been in to turn the lights out a couple of hours earlier and Sabrina had put pillows under Eden's duvet and shaped them to look like she was in bed and already asleep. Eden came crashing into the dorm and flicked the main light on causing everyone to wake up, sit up in bed and blink at her.
"What the fu...?" Sabrina said, her mouth slacking unattractively. Eden threw her purple quilted Marc Jacobs handbag onto her bed, but it missed and fell on the floor, the contents spilling out.
"Bloody thing," she mumbled and staggered towards her bed, plopping down on it and then bending over to retrieve the contents of her bag. With a sigh, Sabrina loyally pushed her duvet to one side, swung her legs out and helped her scoop up make up and loose change. She put a hand on Eden's knee and looked up at her, "Is everything alright, Ede? What happened?" Eden stared at her with unfocused, mascara smudged eyes. She didn't speak for a long time. "Not really," she said quietly. "Teddy. Well Teddy....Oh, I dunno." She started to remove her clothes, where they landed in a tangle on the floor. She then noticed Lottie sitting up opposite her and glared at her and looked like she wanted to say something, but thought better of it. Eden was down to her matching oyster coloured satin underwear now and Sabrina was still sorting through her bag and laying her make up out neatly on her bedside table. Eden clasped Sabrina's wrists, "I don't think Teddy wants to be with me," she declared and then her eyes opened wide and with a gasp she grabbed the Marc Jacobs and threw up in it.
A few hours later, after she had passed out and Sabrina had tucked her in bed, Eden woke up with a shock and freezing cold as she was still in her underwear. Throwing on a baggy sweatshirt and clutching her toothbrush, some cotton wool, make up remover and tub of Creme de la Mer moisturiser to her chest, she quietly staggered to the bathroom. She noticed her handbag on the windowsill underneath the open window and wondered what it was doing there. When she reached for it, she grimaced as she got a waft of vomit, remembered what had happened, and put it back. Sabrina must have washed it out for her and left it by the window to air out. Eden stared at her reflection. Her face and neck were blotchy and covered in streaks of black eye make up. There was thick white residue in the corners of her mouth and her tongue was grey when she stuck it out. She calmly wiped everything away with her expensive make up remover and a thick slather of her luxurious moisturiser already made her feel better. As she brushed her teeth she reflected back on the evening.
After Presley's, her and Teddy had taken a cab to the Sect club. It was completely rammed and within the first five minutes someone had spilled beer down her pink jeans so she stormed off to the bathroom to try to clean them. That didn't work and she was left with an embarrassing wet patch instead. There were two girls sitting on the sink, smoking joints who laughed at her as she furiously wiped at her leg with cheap wet toilet paper which pratically disintegrated in her hands. She glared at them with their black leggings and heavy boots, their eyes rimmed with black kohl pencil and their pierced noses, threw the wodge of toilet paper into the sink and stalked out. Pushing through people for what felt like hours, she finally spotted Teddy leaning against the bar talking to a small girl with a shiny white blonde bob which looked like a glossy helmet from the back. As Eden got closer she could see the girl was also wearing black leggings, but flat black pumps, a long dark grey sloppy T-shirt and a fitted red leather biker jacket. From a fashion point of view, Eden could appreciate how well she was dressed, in fact they were the only well dressed girls in the place, she looked around with disdain, but she also bubbled with jealousy as she noticed the body language between the girl and Teddy and looking down at her own stained pink jeans, she realised how much she didn't belong there. Teddy noticed Eden above the girl's head and smiled at her, beckoning her over.
"Eden, Eden, come and meet Justine," he shouted. The blonde bob turned towards her and unfortunately the face that went with it was very pretty. Justine had a thick fringe, a very small snub nose, wide apart blue eyes, also ringed with black kohl and full red lips. Eden gave her one of her most bewitching, yet knowing smiles,
"Justine," she purred and put her arm territorially around Teddy's waist.
"Nice to meet you," Justine replied with a slightly northern accent.
"Justine does the PR for this place," Teddy nodded approvingly towards the bar. "She also booked the Crows for tonight."
"The Crows," Justine caught Teddy's eye and sniggered. "The band who are on tonight? Teddy was just telling me you guys love them and he got tickets especially. They are going to be the next big thing."
"Oh right," Eden sniffed. She tilted her face up to Teddy, "Darling, can you get me a drink please. I feel like a dirty martini," she thought she sounded sophisticated and everything else was dirty in there so surely she'd fit in. Justine sniggered again, "I don't think they do that kind of drink here, Eden, why don't you have a beer or something?" she gestured to the bottle of beer in her own hand. Eden curled her lip, "Fine. I'll have a beer."
The rest of the night was much of the same and Eden drank more and more to feel comfortable, but she only ended up feeling more out of place. Justine stood with them for ages and then disappeared as soon as the band finished. Eden was sick to death of being pushed into, people holding cigarettes far too close to her hair and the wet patch on her jeans eventually dried out, but left a horrid greyish stain. Teddy, in the meantime, was having a ball and singing along to the music, punching his fist in the air and drinking beer after beer. The only attention Eden received was from his hand which would move from her waist to her bottom every five minutes or so and she would continue to remove it. Finally, after the lead singer in the last act had done a stupid stage dive, but not been caught properly and bumped his head, the club started to empty out. Teddy queued for their jackets and Eden waited outside breathing in the crisp air; a welcome change from sweat, stale beer and cigarette smoke. As she turned towards the door, she caught a flash of white out of the corner of her eye and realised it was Justine's hair. She was smiling to herself and slipping her mobile phone into her handbag. A minute later Teddy appeared also with his phone in his hand and the jackets in the other. He helped Eden into hers, "where to now my love?" he said softly and reached down to kiss her. Eden turned her face away from the beer fumes.
"I just want to go home."
On her way back to the dorm Eden noticed the light on in the laundry room so she went in. She recognised one of Lottie's floral sweatshirts sticking out of the 30 degree wash basket and digging further she found a pair of her jeans, pyjamas, a tatty grey sweatshirt and a few more tops. She took them out and dumped them in the 60 degree basket.
Wednesday 18th January
After dinner, Lottie had planned to hang out with Jenny and Bette in the common room and watch back to back episodes of their favourite sitcom which was showing on TV. She quickly removed her uniform and reached for her favourite pair of skinny jeans and sweatshirt which had just come back from the laundry and smelled fresh and warm.
"That's strange," she mumbled as she struggled to pull her jeans up.
"Problem?" Eden looked up from her bed where she was painting her toe nails a lurid mandarin colour.
"It's just my jeans, they are a bit tight!" she struggled some more, but finally got them on and then wriggled as she tried to button them up. The waistband dug into her stomach causing a ring of flesh to hover and hang over it. She pinched it and frowned. Reaching for the sweatshirt, she noticed it was snugger than usual also and kept pinging up to show off the top of the jeans so she had to keep pulling it down.
"It's probably all the school stodge you eat," Eden commented as she concentrated on her nails. "You have definitely put on weight since you joined. You should drink the smoothies the girls and I have instead of most of the meals round here."
Lottie frowned again as the waistband dug into her and made her skin itch.
"Hmm, maybe you're right." The door swung open and Jenny popped her head around it,
"Lots, are you coming, the show's about to start!" she said. She glanced at Eden and wondered why she was smiling to herself.
Saturday 21st January
At around the same time as the previous Saturday, Lottie had planned to take a casual stroll to her bench to see if Teddy might have the same idea and return her book. She knew she had been acting weird all week and making inane comments whenever Eden was around to gauge if she knew about the book borrowing, just in case Teddy had mentioned it to her. She hadn't got any satisfactory answers and in fact, Eden was being incredibly nice to her so maybe she had got over whatever problem she had with her in the first place.
Lottie was feeling so listless and tired and she wasn't sure why. She had completely cut out carbohydrates, as Eden suggested, and had been living on salads and vegetable broth the past few days which was so boring. Eden even kindly made her one of the smoothies her and the rest of the Blique would have instead of dinner most nights. They would show their faces in the dining room and pick at a salad or steamed vegetables and then go back to the common room kitchen and make these smoothies that they would drink out of plastic Starbucks Frappuccino cups with straws. It tasted gross, but still, it was very thoughtful of her.
Lottie cried off going out for a coffee with her friends that afternoon so she could plan her outfit carefully. The horribly tight jeans had been banished to the back of the wardrobe and the others she had actually weren't so tight. Could you lose weight in just a few days? She picked a floral dress her mum had chosen and that she'd never worn. Eden has something similar (yeah right, about a hundred times more fashionable with a designer label.....and a designer price tag.) Anyway, she should wear more dresses. Maybe Teddy would like that, she thought staring dreamily at her reflection. She looked kind of pale. Make up! Lottie unzipped her cosmetic bag which just looked depressing with a rogue mascara rolling around in there, a brown kohl eyeliner without the lid and a chapstick with a slight pink gloss which she had once thought to be daring. She glanced over at Sabrina's bedside table which was teeming with make up of all varieties. The Blique were out shopping and wouldn't be back for a while. Sabrina would never know if she borrowed anything, it was practically there for the taking after all. She tiptoed over and gazed at the selection. There were four tubes of mascara; for volume, lash extension, moisturising and curling, all in deepest black. Lottie chose the least scary one with a simple black tube. Next, she selected some Nars tinted moisturiser which said it catered for all skin types. Then a sweep of blusher and a fairy dusting of sparkly powder which came from a chic black Chanel compact. Finally, the lips. Lottie couldn't see any lipstick or gloss on the tabletop so she opened the first drawer and there were rows and rows of shiny tubes from clear to the palest pink to the brightest fuschia. Lottie picked one in the middle and went back to the mirror to paint her lips with it. She carefully put everything back where she found it and surveyed her appearance. The dress skimmed her slim hips and fell above her knees revealing shapely calves which had no need for tights as she had such olive skin. She had slipped on some black ballet pumps which flattered her legs further as she was so tall and didn't need heels. Her face glowed and her cheeks flushed pink. Her lashes were luscious and thick as were her glossy lips. She smiled at herself. Ooh, hair! Her hair hung in waves past her shoulders, but it looked flat and boring. She liked the idea of having a bit more volume, maybe a bit more curl. She knew where Eden kept her hair wand so plugged it in and waited for it to heat up. It was a strange looking thing and she wasn't quite sure how to use it, but had watched Eden use it enough times so it couldn't be that hard. After burning herself a few times Lottie had had enough and switched it off. OK, one last check in the mirror. Perfect. Lottie flung on a denim jacket, flicked her hair and left the room.
As she walked down the hill she realised she had butterflies and prayed Teddy would be there. What would she talk to him about, she wondered. The bench was within view now and it was empty. Lottie's heart plummeted, but she carried on walking nevertheless. She eventually reached the bench and flopped down on it, the wood a cold jolt against the back of her bare legs. She pulled the denim jacket closer to her and folded her arms against the bitter chill. After twenty five minutes of swinging her legs, staring frantically to her left and her right to see if anyone was coming and checking her watch, Lottie, now absolutely frozen, reluctantly decided to go back to the dorm. She trudged up the hill, frustratingly kicking stones that were in her way along the path. What was that? She paused as she thought she heard something. It must be the wind. She carried on walking. No, it can't be.
"Hey!" she heard a male voice shouting and swung around.
It was him.