He picked me up at 6:45. I was wearing a white dress. Its silken folds flowed down in rich pleats from my shoulders, meeting in a knot at my waist before pouring out like milk over my Botticelli hips.
I was beautiful.
My hair was curled in big, golden, undulating waves that framed my face and tumbled down over my shoulders. Long rows of sparkles hanging from my ears lay against the glistening blonde of my hair, and my feet were wrapped in silver; high heels that sparkled and added inches to already long legs.
“Fuck me,” my friend Zoë said when she saw me standing in the doorway.
I had bought the dress for just this moment. Five hundred dollars— a Diane von Furstenberg. I couldn’t afford to keep it, so I tucked the tag into the back of my bra, ready to return it the next day. It was the one giveaway that all was not as it seemed; that this was a departure, a rarity in my life of restaurant work and grocery store runs and not having enough money to pay the electric bill. But in this dress, with these shoes and these earrings, with my hair curled like that and my makeup on just so—I was more.
I descended the stairs as he came to meet me striding across the street, his face red from one too many hours spent in the California sun. This was our first meeting, and so I needed a minute to take him in… His saunter as he walked, the camel of his suit, the way his smile beamed like he had just won the biggest prize at the fair. His golden hair gleamed in the glow of early evening, and his blue shirt reflected the soft azure of his eyes. When he said my name with that delicious English twang, the end of his words liltingly betrayed his Liverpool roots. “Jessica Doehle, as I live and breathe…”
It was perfect.