So this was the deal – here we were at Casey’s once more, and this time it wasn’t for a wedding or a grand ball. No, this time Cassie and I were here for something a little more personal. This time, it was for a prom.
And not just any prom – well, not in my case anyway. I don’t know how it crept up on us, but exams had passed, it was too late to worry about GCSEs, and now this was the formal farewell to our time at our high school.
Not to our time at school – the four of us, Alicia, Cathy, Mary and me, were all signed up to go to the post-16 Centre at the school to do our AS classes, but it really did feel like the end of an era to me. As for my darling kid sister...
For a moment, I remembered her and me talking, her wearing the yellow sundress they wore at her primary school, me in my brand new school uniform. And now here we were – me in a blue v-necked sweater over a white t-shirt, jeans and ankle boots, and Cassie wearing a pair of grey shorts and a short sleeved blouse, her hair not in pigtails but hanging down her back.
“It just hot you didn’t it – you’re both growing up.”
I smiled as I looked at Mum, who had June on her knee as David sat on the floor, playing with a toy car. “Yeah – where does the time go Mum?”
“If I ever find out, I’ll let you know – but I suspect that won’t be until I see you walking down the aisle on your wedding day.”
“If I ever get married,” I said as Cassie turned and smiled at us.
“Sorry about that,” Casey said as she came out, “right then – which of these young ladies is going first.”
“Young ladies? Are we ladies now Jenny,” Cassie said as she smiled.
“Well, your sister is certainly not a young girl anymore,” Casey said, “and if you looked at yourself against a picture of you a couple of years ago, I think you’d be surprised at how much you have grown as well Cassandra.”
She was right by the way – without realising it, Cassie had grown a lot in the last year in terms of height. And in other ways, but – well, this is a family show, allegedly.
I suddenly realised both Mum and Cassie were looking at me, so I shook my head and said “nothing – you go first Cassie. I can wait.”
“So where is this young lady going for her prom?”
“Bobby Holderness invited her to go to his prom,” Mum said, “so there is no chance of the two of them ending up at the same dance.”
“Well, they’ll get different designs anyway,” Casey said as she disappeared into the back of the store with my darling little sister, while June looked at Mum and said “Can I get a dress Mummy?”
“We’ll see when your birthday comes round,” Mum said with a smile, “but your sisters need these for the special parties they are going to.”
June nodded as she slipped off Mum’s knee, and went to sit with David as he continued to studiously ignore all of us. “Did you hear from Sarah,” I said as I waited for my turn.
“I did – she’ll be bringing the twins over in October for a visit, but not before then. After all, we’re all taking a six week holiday this summer.”
I nodded at that – I had heard Mum and Dad talking to my grandparents in Australia, and they said they were looking forward to seeing us for a visit – even if it was going to be Winter when we went to see them. David and June were now big enough to be able to do the flight.
Oh lord – twenty hours in a plane. We were going to do it in two stages – flying to Singapore, spending the night there, and then on to Sydney. Even with the stopover, however, it was going to be a very long weekend – so we were taking Cassie out of school a week early, flying over, and then coming back in Mid-August to allow me to collect my results.
After all, nothing must get in the way of the results...
“Jennifer, would you come in a minute please?”
“Sure – will you be all right with the twins for a minute Jenny?”
“What’s the worst that could happen,” I said as Mum stood up.
“Do you have to ask that question?”
I smiled and shook my head as she went through, David and June getting onto their feet and toddling over to me.
“Look at my car Jenn,” David said as he ran it along my leg, laughing as he did so.
“I might have known I’d see you in here.”
I looked at the door and smiled as Alicia Bowden came in, closing the door behind herself. “Let me guess – dress fitting?”
“Yeah – Cassie is in there at the moment having hers checked,” I said as we heard the whispers from the changing area. Alicia was wearing a grey poncho top over a white roll neck sweater and grey pants, sneakers on her feet. “I thought you and Martin were spending today together?”
“We are – but I got a call to come in, so Martin’s gone to get his tux checked out. We’ll meet up again in an hour or so. So – what is Colin going to think of yours?”
“I hope he likes it,” I said with a smile as Cassie and Mum came back out.
“Right – your turn Sis,” Cassie said, “hey Alicia – how are things going?”
“Oh I can’t complain,” Alicia said as I went through with Casey. We went into the changing room, and I stared as she said “well, do you like it?”
“Oh yes,” I whispered quietly.
“Good – let’s try it on you then, and see what needs to be adjusted.”
“Penny for them?”
I looked over from my seat to see Granny looking at me, smiling as she rested her chin on the palm of her hand. Mum and Dad had gone out, and Cassie had gone to see her friends, so that there were only the two of us in the house while the twins slept upstairs.
“Sorry – was I off in the clouds somewhere?”
“Well, wherever it was, it must have been nice, because you were smiling,” Granny said as she stood up. “Let’s abandon the film and make some coffee.” She walked to the kitchen, and I stood up and stretched before I followed her. As she put the kettle on, I said “did they have proms when Dad was at school?”
“Oh lord no,” Granny said, “you were lucky if there was a school disco for the end of the year. It was not exactly the thing to do – but, like so many other things these days, the idea crept in from the US.”
“Yeah – I remember talking to Heidi and Cindy about their proms on Skype. I have to say, it’s nice to make a fuss once in a while.” As I watched Granny pouring the hot water in the mugs, she said “so – where were you?”
“Wondering what the beach is like in June down under – why aren’t you coming Granny?”
“Ah – well, Jethro wants me to come and stay for a few days, and then Lucinda and I are planning a little trip of our own,” she said as she handed me a mug. “Besides, I really do not like the idea of spending two days on a flight.”
“That is a problem,” I said as I held the mug in my hands. “Still, it’s going to be good to see them.”
“And I’ll be in touch as well – the joy of internet communication,” Granny said as we walked back through. “In my day, you had to book the call through an operator, and then wait.”
“Why on earth would you do that?”
“Cost and technology – but a suspicious mind would also say it made sure the powers that be were listening in.”
Granny laughed and said “no comment” as we both sat down again. “But that’s the past, this is now – looking forward to it?”
“I am – but it’s a strange feeling. I mean...”
I took a drink from my mug as Gran smiled. “I remember that look in Connie and Cassie,” she eventually said.
“The look of a young woman who’s just realising she is becoming a woman – properly becoming a woman. After all, from what I understand, the prom is a rite of passage, correct?”
“You mean I’m growing up?”
“Oh a bit more than that,” Granny said with a smile, “a bit more than that...”
“Growing up? I suppose we both are, aren’t we?”
I nodded as I sat with Cassie in the back of the SUV, watching Mum as she strapped the twins into their car seats. We had been to church, and were heading back to Sunday Lunch at home, and then a fun afternoon doing homework.
Yes, homework – although my exams were over, the four of us has also had to pick our options for year 12, and we had to start doing preparatory work for them. In the case of Alicia, for some strange reason she and Martin had picked the same options – Music, History, Media Studies and English Lit. I had picked English Lit and History as well, but I was also doing English Language and Sociology – on the advice of Aunt Connie, who had suggested them as a good choice for someone interested in journalism as a degree.
Mary’s the scientist in our group, so she had signed up for a different set of subjects – Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics, two of which she was sharing with Mark. And Cathy, lovely Cathy – Photography, Media Studies, Religious Studies and Philosophy.
We were both wearing long skirts and blouses with jackets, as well as heels – but I had something else on as well, and as I buckled myself in I had to stop myself from giggling. Then I saw Mum look at me, before she said “I see – would you two like to have a little challenge when we get back?”
“OH go on – are you up for it Jenn?”
I nodded – but I knew Mum knew. And I knew this was her telling me not only that she knew, but I was going to pay for it.
As we came into the house, Dad took the twins into the front room and Gran headed for the kitchen, as Mum pointed up the stairs. As we both walked up, she said “if you need the toilet go now – I don’t know if you will get the chance before lunch is ready.”
Cassie walked to the bathroom, leaving me as Mum looked at me and said “Well?”
“I’ll go when Cassie comes out,” I said quietly.
“And when I come out, there will be no problem,” I said quietly, Mum nodding as Cassie came out with her jacket on her arm, and I went in. I removed what needed to be removed, did what I needed to do, and left something in the laundry basket as I came back out.
“So what are you going to do – hogtie us on the bed?”
“Oh no – something a little less strenuous,” Mum said as she handed me a pair of socks, which I pulled on over my hands. I then was taken by surprise as she produced a length of cord, crossed my wrists in front of me, and then lashed them tightly together. I figured I had a chance now – but then I went into Cassie’s room, and I knew I was sunk.
Cassie was lying on her back, her wrists obviously crossed and tied together in front of herself – because Mum had lifted them above her head and tied them to the top of the bed. She had also crossed Cassie’s ankles and tied them together – before securing them to the foot of the bed.
“I don’t think this is going to be easy,” she said as Mum put a pillow next to her feet, and I lay down, watching as she lifted my wrists above my head and secured them next to Cassie’s feet. I wasn’t surprised when she crossed my ankles and tied them together, then to the top of the bed as well.
“Now then, you can try and get free, or just stay here until Lunch is ready,” she said as she folded two cloths, “open wide.”
We looked at each other on the bed and then felt the cloth on our tongues as the cloth was pushed into our mouths, and then she covered our lips with a wide strip of red tape. “Enjoy the down time,” she said quietly as she left, closing the door behind us as we looked at our own hands.
It was obvious there was no way we could free each other, so we just ay back, as I wondered why Mum hadn’t said anything. Then I realised she wouldn’t – Cassie was growing up, but she was still too young…
“That was delicious – thank you Mum,” I said as I pushed my dessert pate away, “Cassie and I will do the washing up.”
“Good – I was hoping you would volunteer,” Mum said, as I stood up and started to gather the plates while Cassie went to run some water for the glasses. I scraped the food into the bin, and arranged the plates in the dishwasher while Gran came and started to make some coffee.
“You were quick to volunteer,” she said quietly.
“Yeah – Mum knows I did something today without asking first, so this is me paying my penance.”
She looked over at Mum, and then said “good – take responsibility for your actions.”
I smiled as I watched David and June walk in with Aunt Cassie and Aunt Jo, while Cassie washed and I started to dry the glasses. At least I was paying it quietly…
“What have you done to upset Mum?”
I looked at Cassie, and said “made a mistake – it’s going to be okay now though.”
The Monday morning break found me in my usual place – sitting in the common room with Alicia, Mary and Cathy, discussing the events of the weekend.
“You got busted,” Alicia said, laughing as she shook her head.
“Yeah and I paid the price. Anyway, weren’t you at the Renaissance Fair on Sunday?
“Ah yes – Martin and I were the troubadours, walking round the fair ground and entertaining the visitors.”
“And doing a very good job of it as well,” Mary said as she put her drink down, “Mark and I visited, and we stood to watch Martin on the lute and Alicia on the vocals.”
“I KNEW I had seen both of you,” Alicia said with a grin, “where did you go off to?”
Mary blushed as she said “well, we walked round the stalls, and somehow – don’t ask me how – I ended up volunteering for the stocks…”
All three of us burst out laughing at that, as Mary blushed and smiled. “Okay – setting that aside, what did you and Samuel get up to over the weekend Cathy?”
“He went to be fitted for his tux for Friday night – his aunt and I had to virtually drag him into the rental place.”
“Well, this could get very interesting. I trust you finally made it out alive?”
“Of course I did – Samuel wanted it in the end. Once he had been persuaded…”
“So we all have our gowns sorted for Friday,” Alicia said, “and presumably the boys have their tuxedos sorted out. What else?”
“I think Mum is sorting out the corsages on behalf of the boys – but they’re dong five. Why would they…” Cathy then slapped her head as she said “stop me for a fool –Cassie is going to Bobby’s prom, right?”
“Yup – So Mum and Dad get a nice quiet night, and Bobby’s parents get to do something to entertain Suzie.”
“I’m sure they will think of something,” Mary said with a grin. “Anyway, you girls still good for tomorrow night?”
“Gather at your place? Sounds good to me.” I smiled as the bell started to ring. “But, in the meantime, I have a discussion on Pride and Prejudice. See you girls later.”
Tuesday night found me walking up the path to Mary’s place – only to be taken by surprise as the door opened and her brother Eddie coming out with Alicia’s sister Angela.
“Hey – I didn’t know you were both back,” I said with a smile. Eddie had just completed his degree course, while Angela had finished her first year.
“Yeah, well, exams are over, and I’m just waiting to hear what I have got and when the graduation ceremony is,” Eddie said, “and then I find out if my postgrad application has been accepted. At any rate, we have to get going – you’ll find Alicia inside with Mary.”
“Thanks,” I said as I came in, slipped my jacket off and hung it up, and then went into the front room. I was wearing my usual sweatshirt and jeans, with black trainers, while I saw Alicia was in a pair of black leggings and a blue tunic top with slippers. “So what is the topic of conversation girls?”
“Plans for the summer – what else,” Mary said as she stretched her legs out and wriggled her toes. She was very Cathy like in her white top and floral skirt – and as Cathy came in, wearing an open collared blouse over a jumper and jeans, Alicia and I just burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny,” Cathy said as she looked at us.
“Nothing, nothing – right, summer holiday plans. Jenny?”
“Well, actually – the family is off to Australia for a couple of months, to visit my other grandparents.”
“Ooookay,” Alicia said, “that counts you out for the break. Mary?”
“Family trip to France after Eddie’s graduation,” Mary said, “Cathy?”
“No idea yet – what about you Alicia?”
“That’s easy – we’re heading over to Maine to visit Sarah and Brian. Alicia is also talking to Chloe about the wedding and some arrangements for that.”
“Enough about the summer though,” I said, “I want to discuss something else?”
“What you were wearing under your skirt on Sunday?”
“Yeah - look, let’s be honest. We’ve all tried it, right?”
I looked at all three of them as they nodded.
“So come on – how did it feel to you?”
“Great, if truth be told – why do you ask?”
“Something that’s always bugged me from a couple of years ago,” I said as I looked at Alicia. “Happy time.”
“Happy… Oh now I know what you’re getting at,” Alicia said, “and?”
“Who wants to volunteer for an experiment?”
“Maybe later,” Alicia said with a smile, “I keep meaning to ask how your darling cousin and her family are.”
“You mean the suddenly comfortably well off Patricia Pickering and her equally comfortable well off friend Rachel Rigg?”
“The very same,” Alicia said, “Have they splashed out on anything?”
“Not really,” I said, unaware of Mary moving behind me, “I mean, Aunt Jessica has paid off the mortgage, and I know she’s planning to have some work done on the house. Beyond that, I think Lisa and Charlie’s dad is setting up a trust find and – hey!”
The last bit was because I realised Mary and Cathy had pulled my wrists behind my back and were starting to tie them together. “Well, you did say who wants to volunteer for an experiment – you just volunteered.”
“Mea culpa,” I said with a laugh. “Anyway, the last I heard Mister Williamson had also arranged for Rachel’s dad to buy the restaurant he works in, so that’s where his share went. As for Charlie and Lisa, knowing their parents it will be squirrelled away for their future.” As I was talking, the other two were making sure I could not move my arms, as the rope pulled my top over my chest.
“I wouldn’t be surprised either,” Alicia said as she took some rope from a box, and knelt in front of me, crossing and binding my ankles together and then securing my legs together. “You know Colin is actually missing his own prom to come to ours?”
“Yup – just one of the things I love about him,” I said with a smile, “and I know Cass is looking forward to going to it with Bobby. Hey – a blindfold?”
That had taken me by surprise, as a folded scarf was tied over my eyes – I had expected to be gagged. But no, I just could not see as they slipped my sneakers off – and then I heard a bussing sound.
“What the – oh no, no, you wouldn’t dare HELELLPPPPMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
The scream was for a simple reason – they had started to run the electric toothbrush over the soles of my feet, and even with my ankle socks on, it was driving me crazy – and so were the ropes as they rubbed on my chest as I thrashed around.
“So who is going to be the king and queen of the prom,” Mary said as I thrashed around.
“Well, on this evidence, Jenny and Colin will be too busy laughing to win it…”
“You are horrible people,” I said as I came back in, smiling as I took my seat.
“Well, you did ask for it,” Alicia said as I took my phone out, and looked at the text message. “Oh lord,” I said as I stood up, “I need to get back.”
“Why – what’s happened?”
“Aunt Connie – she’s gone into labour five weeks early.”
“Any word yet,” Aunt Cassie said as she came into our front room with Aunt Jo.
“Nope,” Mum said as she looked up, “Dave said he would call as soon as anything happened. I think he’s just in a little bit of shock…”
Aunt Jo sat next to me and said “Can’t sleep either?”
“Nope – we sent Cassie to bed, and Gran went round to look after Danny and Janey. I’m worried though – this is really early.”
Cassie nodded as Mum stood up. “I need to make some coffee,” she said as she went out, and Dad came in. “Hey,” he said as he looked at Aunt Cassie, “what are you thinking?”
“Wishing there was something I could do,” she said quietly as Dad nodded. Mum then came back in with a tray of coffee mugs, each of us taking one before she sat down.
“You should get some sleep Jenn – you have school tomorrow.”
“Not a chance – I’m staying up until…”
I stopped talking as I heard the buzzing, and Dad picked up the phone that was vibrating on the coffee table.
“Dave? Tell me what’s happening,” he said as he walked out of the room, all of us looking over as we tried to hear him. After a few minutes, he came back in and sat down, rubbing his eyes.
“Well,” Mum said as she looked at him.
“It’s a baby girl – she’s in an incubator, and Cassie is having an operation. More than that I’m not going to say until Dave gets back here.”
“But she’s all right?”
“She’s going to be all right,” Dad said with a little smile, “but she won’t be doing much for a few weeks.”
“How is your aunt,” Alicia said as we met over lunch the next day.
“Recovering – and that’s all they are telling me. She’s not having any visitors at the moment, so we will have to wait before we see her and the latest girl in the family.”
“And how is Cassie taking the news?”
“She’s worried for Aunt Connie, just like the rest of us,” I said as I looked over to where Cassie was talking to her friends.
“What happened anyway?”
“From what Mum said this morning, Aunt Connie started to have contractions without warning last night, and Uncle Dave ran her straight into hospital. Now it’s a waiting game.”
The other three nodded as I heard my phone telling me there was a message. Looking at it, I smiled and whispered “thank god.”
“Aunt Connie and baby doing well,” I said as I looked over at Connie, who was reading her phone and smiling as well, “Miranda Brown will be home soon.”
“Miranda? So another grandmother has a granddaughter named after her.”
“Yeah – do you think she and Luci will be as close friends as our grandmothers?”
“Who can say?”
Friday afternoon seemed to come far too quickly, as I came home at lunchtime to find Mum talking to Gran in the kitchen.
“Here she comes, the Prom girl,” Mum said as she stood up, “want a sandwich?”
“Please – how is Aunt Connie?”
“Very tired, but recovering,” Gran said as I sat at the kitchen table. “I went to see them this morning - Miranda is really tiny, and it might be a few weeks before the rest of you can see her.”
“Fair enough – thanks Mum,” I said as I took the plate from her, and started to eat the chicken and bread. Mum gave me a drink of milk as well, before she sat down and began to drink her coffee again.
“So, what are you going to do this afternoon young lady?”
“Relax I think – when is the hairdresser coming round Mum?”
“Five o’clock, so that she can take care of both you and Cassie,” Mum said, “your dress and shoes are already in your room, so you just relax for a little while. You’ll be ready in plenty of time.”
“Can’t say fairer than that,” I said as I took a drink. “Cassie has to spend the afternoon at school, after all…”
I looked at the clock as the door opened and closed, seeing it was four as Cassie came in. “Some people get all the luck,” she said as she sat down, “we had double English this afternoon – and you know how much I love that.”
“Well look on the bright side,” I said with a smile, “it’s that special night.”
“Oh yeah,” Cassie said with a grin as I looked at her. It didn’t seem that long ago she was the girl in a yellow school dress and pigtails – and now she was wearing the blazer, blouse, tie and skirt.
“Sorry, sorry,” I said with a smile, “Just thinking of how much we’ve both grown up over the last year or so.”
Now that did make me laugh, as Mum came in. “Right you two – come and eat now, before the hairdresser arrives and you need to start to get ready.”
“Food – good idea,” I said as I stood up – although I had to admit, the butterflies were starting to multiply in my stomach…
We went into the kitchen and sat down as Mum put a plate in front of each of us, as well as a drink, before she sat looking at us with a mug of coffee in her hands.
“What,” we said in unison as she shook her head and laughed.
“Nothing, nothing – I guess with Miranda arriving so early, and what happened to Patty, your dad and I have realised just how lucky we are to have two such lovely daughters.”
“Are you trying to get us to laugh Mum,” Cassie said, “because if so, it’s not working?”
“No – just one of those stunning moments of clarity that hit from time to time,” Mum said as she sipped her coffee, and smiled. We looked at each other, and then started to eat, finishing as the doorbell rang.
Mum went to see who it was, coming back with Bobbi from the salon. “Right – Cassie, you go and shower first, and then Bobbi can get to work while Jenny gets cleaned.”
As I came out of the bathroom, wearing a towelling robe, I saw Cassie carefully walking up the stairs, her hair carefully formed into soft curls that fell down to her shoulders. She smiled at me as she went into her room, Mum following as she said “go to the kitchen Jenny – Bobbi is waiting for you there.”
As I went down the stairs, and walked in, Bobbi looked at me and said “right – second girl for today. How do you want your hair for the big night Jenny?”
“I was wondering if I could have it up,” I said, Bobbi nodding as she said “right – have a seat, I’ll put this over you, and we can get to work…”
As she worked on me, I started to think about the prom, and what would happen during the night…
“There – what do you think?”
I suddenly stopped daydreaming as I looked at the mirror and saw the way my blonde hair was now formed into a wonderful design on my head, and smiled. “That’s wonderful Bobbi.”
“Good – now up to your room and get your dress on.”
I nodded as I walked up the stairs, just in time to see Mum coming out of Cassie’s room.
“Right – in we go and we get dressed,” she said as we walked in, and I saw my dress hanging on the wardrobe door. It was royal blue, with short puffed sleeves and a round neckline, and gathered at the waist before it flowed out into the floor length skirt. As I removed my gown and put on clean underwear, as well as a new pair of tights, Mum carefully removed it from the hanger and held it as I stepped in, then pulled it carefully up and allowed me to put my arms into the sleeves before she fastened it at the back.
“Now that does look good,” she said as I looked in the mirror, and then she fastened something round my neck. It was a double set of pearls, and as she did so she said “my mother gave me these for the day Dad and I married. I’d like you to wear them tonight.”
“Wow – thanks Mum,” I whispered, “but won’t Cassie…”
“She’s wearing your grandmother’s,” Mum said as I slipped into the matching blue high heeled that we had bought, and then I put on the long opera gloves, before Mum picked up the long blue wrap. “Right then – shall we see what your sister thinks?”
“It’s what Colin thinks that really matters,” I said quietly, but I smiled as we walked down the stairs. Dad had come back, and was waiting with the camera as I saw Cassie stand up.
Her dress was gold silk, and had long sleeves which were hooked over the middle finger of each hand. Unlike my dress, the skirt of hers was straight, but I could see the gold shoes underneath, and there was a gold bolero style jacket on the back of the chair.
“Wow – we do scrub up well, don’t we?”
“Yes we do,” I said as Dad put his arm round Mum. “Right – we need to get a photograph of both of you before you head off,” he said as we stood side by side, holding our purses as he took a photograph of us, and then one of us with mum.
I had not realised how late it was getting, but when the doorbell rang and Dad went to answer it, I was glad to see the look on Bobby Holderness’ face when he walked in. He was wearing a black tuxedo, with a white shirt and proper bowtie, but he whistled and said “wow – you look amazing Cass.”
“Thank you,” Cassie said as she blushed, and then took the small box Bobby handed to her. Opening it, she saw the yellow corsage, and nodded as Mum pinned it to her dress, before Dad took a picture of both of them.
“Your carriage awaits,” he said with a smile as Dad helped Cassie with her jacket. He took her arm, and they walked out, the three of us watching as they walked down to where Mister Bridges was standing by the door of his grandfather’s Rolls Royce. Bobby let Cassie sit in, as we watched her smile and wave before the door was closed, and he walked round to the other side.
We waved as the limousine drove off, and then I smiled as a Jaguar pulled up. The driver got out, and opened the back door to allow Colin Hampton to come out, wearing a new dark suit, white shirt and bow tie as he walked to the door with another box in his hand.
“Hey,” he said as he joined us and came in, “was that Cassie and Bobby?”
“Yup – you look good.”
“Not as good as you – this is for you as well, by the way,” he said as he handed me the box. I opened it and smiled as I saw the corsage inside, handing it to Mum so that she could pin it on my dress, and then Dad carefully put the wrap over my shoulders. Taking Colin’s arm, we waited as he took one more photo, and then made our way to the car as the driver stood outside.
Getting in, I smiled at the other two and said “hey there.”
“Hey yourself,” Alicia said as she smiled. She was wearing a silver silk dress, with thin spaghetti straps over her shoulders, and a grey short jacket, with matching short gloves and shoes, while Martin was running his finger under the collar of his shirt. He was wearing a grey jacket and trousers as well, as he said “Do I really have to have the tie on?”
“Yes you do,” Colin said as he sat down, and the door closed, “any word from Cathy?”
“She and Sam are on their way to pick up Mary and Mark, and they’ll meet us at the venue,” Alicia said, “well, this is it Jenny. How did Cassie look?”
“Amazing,” I said quietly, “and very much like Aunt Cassie?”
“Did she tell you by the way?”
“Tell me what?”
“She’s one of the chaperones tonight with Doctor Frost.”
“So that’s why she didn’t want to see the dress,” I whispered as I shook my head. “Fair enough - I wonder if that’s the only surprise we have tonight.”
I didn’t see the look exchanged between Martin and Colin – neither did Alicia, but if we had…
Still, that was later – right then, we were looking out of the vehicle windows as we made our way to the Holderness Grange, the hotel at which our ball was being held. When the driver pulled up outside the entrance, he opened the door and allowed Martin and Colin to get out first, before we stepped out and looked at the brightly lit entrance.
“Shall we,” Colin said, as we walked into the reception area, and then followed the signs into the grand ballroom. The large room was decorated with garlands and nets holding balloons, while a band was playing at one end and a buffet laid out at the other side.
“Well, someone looks amazing.”
“Thanks,” I said as I saw Aunt Jo and Aunt Cassie looking at me, both of them wearing long evening dresses.
“Over there, all four of you – the official photographer is there,” Aunt Jo said as she pointed to where a small queue of couples were waiting. We went to join them, before we heard Mary behind us saying “Amazing, isn’t it?”
We all turned and nodded as we saw the newest arrivals. Mary was wearing a red strapless dress with a short jacket, and matching shoes, while Cathy had on a high collared black dress with elbow length sleeves. Mark and Samuel were smiling behind them, wearing the regulation tuxedo and bow ties under the collars of their shirts.
“Right – official photos and then we par-TAY!”
As Colin and I posed for the photograph, he whispered into my ear “you look amazing tonight.”
“Thanks,” I whispered before smiling for the photograph, “I hope Cass is having as much fun at the other prom.”
“I’m sure she is,” Colin said as we walked onto the dance floor, holding each other as we started to dance. It felt wonderful to be in his arms, and I could see the others felt the same way as they joined us on the dance floor.
It was a slow dance – but things soon sped up after that as the disco music started.
“Well, this is turning into an amazing party,” Alicia said as we sat at a table to the side of the dance floor. The boys had gone off to get some drinks, and we were watching the others enjoying themselves as well.
“Time to cast your votes.”
I looked at Tracy Bates, who had a bunch of papers and a box of pens in her hands.
“Our vote? Vote for what,” Mary said as she looked at our Head Girl.
“Prom King and Queen – write your choices down, and then drop them into the sack Rhona’s holding. The result to be announced later.”
We looked at each other, then each grabbed a voting slip and a pen, scribbling our choices down on the sheet before we folded them and put them in the sack.
“What are you lot up to,” Sam said as the boys came over.
“Prom King and Queen Vote – want to cast yours?”
“Why not,” the boys said as they made their choices, and put them into the bag before the two girls moved on.
“Thanks,” I said as I took the glass of punch from Colin. “So who did you vote for?” He didn’t answer, merely raising an eyebrow…
“All right,” the headmistress said as she stood on the stage, “the time has come to hand out the awards for this year. First up, the Carer of the Year award, for the girl who has looked out for everyone else without being asked to. The winner is – Cathy Harmer!”
We all clapped and cheered, Samuel most of all, as Cathy went up to accept the trophy. She stood at the microphone, blushing as she said “Thank you,” and then walked back again.
Two more awards were handed out before the headmistress said “and now for Voice of the Year – and this year it is a joint award to a couple who have been entertaining groups all round Holderness over the last year. The winners are Alicia and Martin – and we’re going to ask them to come up together as well.”
Martin smiled as he offered Alicia his arm, and they walked up to the stage, our table yelling and banging the table as they each got a trophy in the shape of a note.
When they came back, the headmistress said “and now for the main event – the Prom King and Queen. We have counted and verified the vote, and I am pleased to say that the Prom King for this year is…
“Colin… Colin… Colin…” The chant went round the room as Colin looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and walked up to the stage, looking out as a crown was placed on his head.
“And the Prom Queen for this year is…
“Guess we get to play the proud partners,” Mark said with a smile as we applauded Mary on her walk up to join Colin, applauding as the tiara was placed on her head and the headmistress called out “I give you your King and Queen!”
We all stood and applauded as they posed for photographs, and then walked back over to join us. “Well, that was a surprise,” Colin said as she sat down, “sorry it wasn’t you Jen.”
“Well, you make a really handsome king,” I said before I kissed him, “So can I have a dance with you now?”
“Of course you can,” Colin said as he took my hand and we went back onto the dance floor.
It was a magical evening, but when Colin whispered into my ear “come with me,” I wondered what he was going to do. We made our way out of the ballroom and into a side room, as Colin said “Have you enjoyed tonight?”
“Yeah – why?”
“The guys and I have a special surprise for you – but you need to be prepared for it. Ready?”
“I know what that means – so none of the added ropes, all right?”
“I promise,” Colin said as I crossed my wrists behind my back, and he took from a large duffle bag a length of rope, doubling it over and using it to bind them tightly together.
“You’re not planning to take me out onto the dance floor tied up, are you,” I said as I felt the rope tightening around my wrists.
“Nope,” he said as he then tied the rope – it was a silk rope, soft and strong – round my waist to jeep my hands against my back. A longer length was then used to bind my arms to my sides, the bands sitting above and below my chest.
“Now what,” I said as Colin cinched the bands with two smaller lengths between my arms and my body.
“Open wide,” Colin said with a smile, and as I did so he pushed a folded cloth into my mouth. Once I had closed my lips over it, he gently kissed them before he smoothed a length of clear tape over them.
Putting my coat on over me, he then looked out before he escorted me to where a minibus was waiting outside. As I got in, I saw Martin waiting with Alicia, my friend raising an eyebrow as she said “Uswllhmmm”?
“Wrnntthnlenns” I said as Mary and Cathy came out as well, and the boys sat with us in darkness, the driver closing the door before we set off.
I nodded as I realised we were driving up the road to the front of Holderness Manor, Mrs Bridges coming out as we stopped at the front door.
“Welcome girls – take them to the library boys,” she said as we were escorted inside – and stopped as went into the library as Alicia said “Hmggdhrswlll.”
“Gshaaa,” Cassie said as she sat with Lisa and Suzie, looking at us.
Cassie was still in her prom gown, while Lisa and Suzie were wearing ivory silk dresses with gloves – but all three were bound and gagged in the same way we were. Which meant Bobby must be around here somewhere, but who else…
I turned and saw on the couch behind us Patty and Rachel, clear tape also covering their mouths as they struggled in their bindings. Rachel was wearing a royal blue dress with elbow length sleeves, and shorter blue gloves, while Patty had on a gold long sleeved dress with lace gloves.
They weren’t the only ones sitting on the couch either – I could see Pippa, Hazel and Claire beside them, all three wearing long gowns and all three bound and gagged in the same way.
On another couch sat Louise and Fiona, also bound and tape gagged.
“Ah good – you all made it.”
We all turned round to see Lord and Lady Holderness in the doorway, Lord Holderness leaning on his cane as Lady Holderness looked at us. Like the boys, he was wearing a tuxedo, and Lady Holderness was wearing an ivory silk dress.
“We did feel it was a little unfair that Suzie had nothing to do tonight,” she said, “so we said she could have her friends round for a dance here tonight – and then young Robert here told us of the plans he and the other young men had made. Is that not right, Robert?”
“Er – yeah,” Bobby said as he appeared with the other boys in the doorway – as well as Charlie, Tommy, Brian, Freddie and the other Cottrell boys. Much to my surprise, Pippa, Hazel and Claire’s boyfriends were also there, and all of them smartly dressed.
“Anyway,” Lady Holderness continued, “why don’t you boys bring your partners through to the ballroom? I think we can find time for a few more dances before you all have to go home.”
“Shall we,” Colin said as he put his arm round mine, and we made our way to the ballroom. Mister Bridges was standing by an old record player, and as the music started the boys bowed, and then started to dance with us.
By now we were used to doing this – and indeed, we have been much more tightly secured for these dances – but somehow it seemed so much more special tonight, as Colin looked at me, and then gently pressed his lips over my taped ones.
I could see Bobby kissing Cassie as well, and as she turned to look at me the tape was crinkling under her smile.
We danced for a while, before Lady Holderness waved to me and Colin to come over to a side table. When we got there, there was a number of lists on the table, and as we look closely I had to stop myself laughing at what we were asked to do. We didn’t say a word, as Colin looked down the lists with me and we agreed on which names to point to.
Eventually, Lord Holderness said “May I have your attentions please? I know some of you have been to a prom tonight, and we wish to congratulate those who won awards there – Martin and Alicia as the Voices of the year, Cathy as the Carer of the year, Mary and Colin as their prom King and Queen…”
I saw Cassie look at me with a raised eyebrow, but I smiled and nodded.
“…and, of course, Bobby and Cassie as their Prom King and Queen.”
Well, that was a surprise to me, but then I saw Bobby put the tiara on Cassie’s head, and I suddenly felt very proud. I knew Mum and Dad would be as well.
“So we wished to hand out a few awards ourselves – and the first award is Most Likely to Get into Trouble. In the end, this was a unanimous choice – and I agree completely. The winner is Patricia Pickering.”
We would all have clapped and cheered – if we could have, but Tommy walked Patty over and accepted the award on her behalf.
“Next, the award for the person Most Likely to Succeed in Sixth Form – obviously, restricted to the older boys and girls, but the winner of this – Jenny Craig.”
Now that was a surprise to me – Colin and I had picked Alicia, but we both walked forward as Colin took the scroll for me, and we walked back.
There were other awards – the Cutest Couple went to Frank and Louise, the Most Likely to Break Barriers Cathy and Sam, and so on and so on. By then, I had to admit it was all becoming a bit of a blur, so when Lady Holderness said “it is getting late – time for the last dance,” I went onto the dance floor, and rested my head on Colin’s chest as we danced around.
“Had a good night,” he asked as he looked at me, and I looked back into his eyes, nodding as I said “tsbnmmssnn – fnks.”
As the music ended, the boys clapped for all of us, and then we made our way out to the hallway. Aunt Jess winked at me as she took Rachel, Patty, and their beaus to the car, while Mister Bridges held the car doors open for Colin, Bobby, Suzie and me.
Cassie nodded as the car door closed, and we drove off, wishing the night did not have to end – even though we both knew it did.
“There you are,” Mum said as we were escorted up the pathway to the door, “I’ll give you both a couple of minutes in the front room to say your goodbyes.”
Colin and Bobby escorted us in as Mum closed the door, and then they removed out coats, before Colin peeled the tape away from my mouth and took the damp cloth out.
“Thank you for a wonderful night,” I said as I looked into his eyes.
“No – thank you,” he said quietly before he kissed me for a good few minutes – and I saw Bobby and Cassie were exchanging a kiss as well. He then untied my arms, before I wrapped them round his neck and said “want to do this again some time?”
“I’d like that – I’d like that a lot,” he said quietly before we kissed again, and then we both stood in the doorway waving our beaus off.
“Well, I can see you both had a good night,” Mum said, “and is that a tiara I see on your head, Cassandra Paulette Craig?”
“Yeah – I was voted Prom Queen,” she said as she took it off and looked at it.
“Well, you can tell me and your father all about it tomorrow – right now, upstairs both of you, and I’ll help you to undress.”
The alarm clock by my side said it was nearly one am as I finally lay down, and as my eyes slowly closed I began to dream of dances with Colin – and our wedding dance…