Gabbie tiptoed barefoot onto the cold wooden pedestal, leaning against the saleswoman for support while her good for nothing sidekick sank further into the couch cushions, legs crossed in a feminine manner, sipping on Gabbie’s Frappuccino from earlier. Struggling to keep her balance, she tossed her arms out wildly almost knocking the woman in the face as the fluffy white fabric from the dress threatened to twist around her legs like a python.
“Whoa, sorry.” she smoothed out the sides of her dress while the woman plastered a fake smile on her face, pulling the train out from around her legs.
Gabbie shot a dirty look toward her companion, using the wall to wall length mirror in front of her as a way to reflect her disapproval to him. “Wouldn’t be this much of a hassle if ELI helped out.” she growled, emphasizing his name with a hiss, over the gentle harmonies of some sapping boy group playing through the speakers of the bridal shop.
Eli slurped loudly, announcing the death of her drink, brown eyes glistening with mischief. “Nah, you’re doing fine, hun.” he wiggled his fingers in her direction, taking his job as ‘harmless best friend’ way too seriously. He tossed the empty cup onto the couch beside him and began fiddling with his phone, probably updating his twitter page with his dark sense of humor.
She rolled her eyes at him, settling them on her reflection with a gasp, the breath knocked out of her like when she leaped from the plane skydiving over the summer.
Finally she could stand still and truly appreciate her outfit. No other dress made her feel this way, sick to her stomach as if eggs were hatching creepy crawlies that clambered up her insides to melt her heart. If she could’ve cloned herself right then and there, she would’ve just to punch herself in the face.
Her eyes watered despite herself. “It’s beautiful.” she mumbled, the wobbliness of her voice catching Eli’s attention, drawing his eyes up from his tiny phone screen.
“It looks wonderful on you.” the saleswoman stated politely with a genuine smile, one Gabbie hadn’t noticed when she tried on any of the other dresses. “She looks wonderful, doesn’t she?” the saleswoman turned to Eli as his phone slipped between his fingertips. She snickered, leaning closer to Gabbie, whispering with a wink, “I think he likes it.”
Again, Gabbie wanted to punch herself. Her face flushed as her gaze skipped over Eli’s watchful eyes. “What are you waiting for?” Gabbie inquired, focusing her eyes on a veil hanging from one of the dressing room stalls rather than on him. “Take the photo and send it to Leena–” she paused, eyes enlarging as she shot a quick glance at the saleswoman. “Er, my sister. Big sister.” She smiled goofily. “Just take the stupid photo!” she hissed at Eli.
Eli hopped to his feet, adjusting his tie before snapping a few photos. He looked so darn professional, she hated it. With his stupid vest and ridiculous pasty pink gator print button down shirt they’d spent hours at the mall laughing at before he secretly purchased it behind her back. His whole existence annoyed her. Why the heck had she been dumb enough to team up on this with him? Yet her heart skipped a beat when he smiled down at the photos he’d just taken.
The saleswoman had a new light in her eye, puzzle pieces falling into place as she envisioned the perfect accessories to match this perfect dress. “One moment.” she nearly squealed, trotting past the packed aisles filled of bridal attire before waiting for a response.
Gabbie groaned, arms lifted at her sides as if someone just pour ice cold fish water on her. She looked beautiful but she felt icky. She bet if she tried, she could Hulk smash this dress right off her body. Of course, that would just leave her half naked and exposed in front of Eli.
“It does look nice on you.” Eli’s voice was like a cold breeze, penetrating deep into her bones and sending goosebumps across her skin. He stepped into view from behind her, avoiding dirtying the train of her dress with his shoes. “How about it?” He grinned, a dark mischievous little thing. “Wanna get married yet?”
“Shut up.” Gabbie snorted. Her body fell rigid the closer he stepped toward her. “We have a job to do. Does she like the stupid dress or not?”
Eli let out a disappointed sigh, obviously wallowing in sorrow from the fact she didn’t let him toy with her emotions again. Scrolling through his messages he released an even bigger sigh, slamming his phone to his side. “Ugh,” he groaned, eyes rolling so much they resembled bowling balls. “She’s set on that freakin’ ugly ass mermaid style dress with all the poofy crap on the arms and bottom. That thing literally looked like the 80s would’ve burned it with torches.”
Gabbie chuckled. She didn’t know about all that but the dress was pretty hideous. It didn’t matter to her though, whatever the client wanted was what she bought. “Like you’re one to talk with that ugly ass gator print on.”
“I’m flattered you noticed.” His grin was back, so big it exposed his sharp canine teeth which always made her unbearably warm and fuzzy inside. “It captures everyone’s attention.”
“I’m sure it brings all the guys to the yard.” she teased but she was fishing. Was he into guys? Was he not? Was he into her? Why was he driving her nuts?
He must’ve caught onto her intentions because he placed a finger to his lips, seemingly floating back to the couch as the saleswoman returned. “Here, try this on!” the saleswoman chirped with delight. Again, she didn’t wait for a response. She was already sticking the the comb from the veil into Gabbie’s messy bun, draping the shear fabric across her shoulder to reveal an almost hidden glittery snowflake pattern.
Gabbie gasped again and she’d be damned, a single traitorous tear slid down her face before she could rub it away. “Your fiancee is going to love it. It goes perfectly with the theme.” The saleswoman smiled.
Gabbie stifled a groan. She wanted to tell the gullible lady there was no fiancee, no wedding. At least not for her. She was simply a body double sent by various irresponsible brides across the state to find the perfect dress moments before their big day. Nothing more. She didn’t even have a boyfriend. But staring at this dress in the mirror, the bodice twinkling in the light overhead, and the veil shimmering snowflakes over her shoulders, she could picture it. Her big day. She didn’t know who it’d be with but her mind filled in the blank, shifting her attention to Eli’s expression as he stared at her from the couch.
Gabbie cleared her throat, faking a smile that barely reached her cheeks let alone her eyes. “Thanks but I’m actually thinking of purchasing the mermaid style one.” The sales woman’s expression dropped, her eyes pleading what her mouth could not say. “You know, the one with the poofs.” Gabbie gestured toward the sleeves, squeezing the air above them as if the puffy fabric was really there to play with. In the reflection of the mirror, Gabbie noticed Eli fake gagging. Honestly she felt the same way but it wasn’t her decision to make. “But I’ll keep the veil. It’s really lovely.”
That decision brighten the sales woman’s mood by a hare. She nodded, faking a smile of her own. “Of course, right away. Get changed and I’ll ring you up at the front.” She bowed slightly, rushing off toward the front of the shop to retrieve the unfavorable dress.
Eli slow clapped, walking in time with his clapping. “Pretty sure you broke that girl’s heart.” He chuckled. She tried not to pay him any mind but he was probably right. That saleswoman looked crushed at her decision, just as crushed as she felt.
Gabbie grabbed a bunch of fabric near the front of her dress, rediscovering her painted toes beneath it all and attempted to step down from the pedestal without a repeat of last year. Eli offered a hand which she gladly took. No face planting for her this time.
“You okay?” he asked when she was fully down. He snagged up her long train and walked with her back to the dressing room.
Gabbie released the groan she’d been holding in from earlier, tugging the veil out of her hair, undoing her messy bun in the process. “I’m getting old.” she whined and Eli dropped the train to fold his arms across his chest. He quirked an eyebrow at her, giving her a look that said she’d only be old when she was a 80 year old grandma. Still, she felt it. Joint pains, gray hair weaving through brown strands, squinting to read signs from far away, and the pressure to have kids and live happily ever after. He was always going to be two years younger and a man no matter how much he pushed gender standards so he’d never truly understand how she felt. “I’m 28 with no real job. I get jobs from word of mouth from careless soon to be wives. What am I doing with my life?”
Eli shrugged his shoulders. “Making miracles?”
“I’m serious.” Gabbie pouted. She tried shimmying out of the dress but failed, groaning again. She wanted out this stupid perfect glove fitting dress that made her look like a fairy tale goddess. Damn she looked good. It was too bad she was shopping for someone else’s wedding.
Eli picked up on her struggles and unbuttoned the back until he reached the bottom. The bodice fell slack into Gabbie’s hands and she pushed it to her chest to keep it from falling farther. “You’re doing better than most.” He placed an ice cold hand on her shoulder but removed it when she shivered. His hands were always so cold, they often joked he was a walking corpse. “Who else is talented enough to make this into a career?”
Gabbie smiled. In a way, she was a miracle maker. Surprise, surprise, not every woman in the world was dreaming of their wedding day since birth. She’d found quite a few who hated the idea of dress shopping. One of her good friends in particular waited until the morning of her wedding to worry about a dress (she was debating reusing her old prom dress which happened to be white). Gabbie rushed into action. Since they were the same size, she scoured the city while her friend pampered herself with mani / pedi, makeup, and a new hairstyle for her nighttime wedding. She’d luckily discovered stores with already altered dresses ready for immediate purchase and brought one back to save the day (cue trumpets and confetti cannons). Business took off from there, so much so she quit her old part-time job to do this full time. She was the Body Double, a name her clients came to know her as.
Gabbie pushed Eli out the dressing room, pulling the velvety flower print curtain between them so she could get changed. He exhaled loudly. “Kicking me out during the best part?” She imagined his grin, flirtatious with a hint of amusement, the one he always pulled when he made her heart race.
Gabbie huffed, climbing over the white fabric as it fell below her ankles. “As if you’re interested.” Fishing again, the line tossed into the big wide blue ocean. The ball was in his court but all she heard was silence from his end. Typical. She pulled her shirt on with too much force, ripping off one of the buttons. “Crap!” She snatched the button mid fall and kept sticking it back in place as if that could actually fix it. Eventually she gave up, shoving the button into her pocket. It’s not like her shirt really needed it anyway.
When she stepped outside the dressing room, she spotted Eli leaning against a nearby pillar, his face a forced blankness as if he’d never heard her comment from earlier but she knew he had. He went to hand her back the hair tie she lost after pulling off the veil but she rolled her eyes at him, shoving an empty palm into his gut. “Give me the credit card.” she demanded.
Eli rubbed his tummy then compiled, retrieving their business credit card from his black leather wallet. She plucked the card from his grasp and stormed off to the front of the shop. “Your welcome.” he called after her, trying yet failing to keep up with her. “You’re in one of your moods again.” He nudged her playfully but the death glare that followed made him freeze in place. “What’s wrong?”
Gabbie nearly snapped the card in her hands. “Oh you know what’s wrong.” she snarled between clenched teeth then did a 180 degree turn, shifting her emotions accordingly when the saleswoman returned to the counter. They chatted happily as if nothing was wrong while Eli inched uncomfortably toward the door. Once the dress, zipped inside a plastic cover, and the veil were handed to her, Gabbie pushed past Eli and made stride for their car.
“Are you going to tell me what your deal is?” Eli dared to ask. He jogged to keep up with her, watching her hang the dress up in the back before hopping into the seat beside it. Silent treatment. This was his karma. “Fine,” he mumbled mostly to himself since Gabbie was already in the car pretending he didn’t exist. “Guess I’m driving.”