Page 24 of My New Step-Dad

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“That’s because I eat three meals a day,” I mumble to myself, letting the dressing-room curtain fall closed. I look in the mirror to see if she’s right. The tight material clings to me like a second skin, the dark blue making my skin look like silky porcelain. Turning to the side, I run my hands across my stomach, not seeing what she does. I look…beautiful. Older than I really am. I bite my lip, wondering if Bruce would like it. My age seems a little off-putting to him

Unexpectedly, Holly bursts into the dressing room, a bright orange dress hanging over her arm. I look at her in the mirror and suddenly don’t feel so beautiful. This is the woman Bruce will actually touch. I wonder if they’re in some kind of relationship. Would that make me the other woman? Surely what we’re doing crosses lines if he’s in a relationship with someone else. He and I aren’t together, and I feel stabby at the idea of him doing things with this woman.

“Here, try this one,” she says, shoving the bright orange ball of cloth in my face.

“Is this a hunting charity event?” I say, eyeing the fluffy thing she’s calling a dress.

She lets out a laugh, and it’s the first time in my life I ever thought a laugh could be filled with sophistication. She even laughs classy.

“Trust me, you’ll stand out.”

No shit, I think to myself. The thing is fluorescent orange. I guess the point of the color is to stand out, but I can only think of one person I care to have attention from.

“Thanks,” I say, taking the dress from her.

“So, I was wondering, woman to woman, could you put in a good word for me with Bruce? I think he thinks I just want something casual, but, well I’ve sort of been in love with him before he married your mom.”

My eyes go wide at her words. Seriously? It’s not bad enough that I have to hang out with Bruce’s fuck buddy or whatever she is, but she wants me to talk her up to him? At least I know they aren’t in some kind of committed relationship. That’s what people do, right? They date multiple people, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for that. I need to find out what Bruce and Holly have going on. No way will I be doing whatever this is we’re doing while he’s seeing other people. I mean, masturbating on each other has to classify as some kind of relationship, right?

“I mean,” she continues after seeing the look on my face, “I know he and your mother weren’t really married, and a man has needs. I’m more than willing to fill them. I just want more. Bruce is going to be, well, hell, he could probably run for mayor in the future if he really wanted to. I think we’d make the perfect pair.”

I’m happy she thinks my shock was over the fact that she was hitting on Bruce so soon after my mother’s death and not the fact that I want him for myself. I can’t believe I let Bruce talk me into doing this.

When he told me he wanted to help me find a dress for the event, I had no idea he meant he would be sending Holly to help me. I would have turned him down if I had known that. I actually thought he was going to come with me. We’d go dress shopping, and then he would show me around town.

I feel like my brain is a jumbled mess of emotions and I have no idea what to do. I’ve spent years just going through the motions, and now I feel like everything around me is coming to life, and I’m overwhelmed.

“I can’t do this.” Pushing the blue dress down my body, I let it pool at my hips. I grab my own halter dress and slide it over my head, slipping my flats back on.

“You really shouldn’t wear flats, you’re already so short.”

Ignoring her comment, I grab my purse hanging on the hook on the wall, and make a retreat out of the dressing room, glad Holly doesn’t follow me. She probably thinks I’m looking for another dress, but I’ve just got to get out of here for a while.

I don’t know what to do at this point.

I loved every second of last night. When I came home yesterday to Bruce pissed about my hanging out with Bryan, it only pissed me off too. He tells me to go find someone my own age, and then flips when I actually do.

But last night at dinner, I got a piece of him. He’s lonely too, but he thinks it’s too late. I know he wants me, but part of me wants to bait him and show him how perfect we could be together. We both get what we want. But another part of me is sick of doing the chasing. With Bruce, I’m not just fighting against him, I’m fighting against his career, and clearly, other women.

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