“What the fudge?” Emma Jackson sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes.
“Really, Emma? Fudge? Why can’t you just say ‘fuck’ like the rest of us normal human beings?”
Emma narrowed her eyes at one of her best friends and roommate, Brooklyn Smith. “I teach small children for a living, and I’m fairly certain their parents would appreciate my usage of the word ‘fudge.’” She put her feet on the floor and stood. “What did you wake me up for?”
“It’s December thirty-first.” Brooklyn grinned. “You know what that means!”
“Tonight’s party time!” Brooklyn shook her hips. “I’ve got the night off, everyone else has the night off, we are getting dressed up and heading to downtown!”
Emma laughed. “That doesn’t explain why you’re waking me up before noon on my day off.”
“Brunch.” Brooklyn narrowed her eyes, surprised Emma had forgotten. Her typically organized friend rarely forgot anything.
“I forgot about brunch.” Emma dropped back onto her bed. “I’m so tired.”
Brooklyn bounced on the edge of the bed, and Emma threw her pillow at her.
“Don’t be so dramatic Miss Jackson, you’ve been on vacation for over a week now.”
“Exactly, vacation, that means I should be allowed to sleep as late as I want.”
Brooklyn sniffled, and Emma looked up to see her showcasing fake sadness. “Fine, but brunch won’t be brunch without our Emma,” she said sadly and walked slowly to the door.
Emma threw her other pillow and hit her square in the back. “Fine, I’m getting up.”
“Yay!” Brooklyn slammed the door behind her, and Emma groaned before rolling out of bed.
After pulling on some leggings and a sweatshirt, Emma put on her black rimmed cat-eye glasses to avoid having to put contacts in. At least brunch with the girls is casual. She tossed her brown hair up into a messy bun and grabbed her cell phone and wallet.
“Ready,” Emma grumbled as she stepped from her bedroom into the tiny living room of the three-bedroom apartment she, Brooklyn, and one of their other friends, Bailey, shared.
Their other three friends, Lillian, Pam, and Ada, shared another three-bedroom just down the hall. They had been lucky enough to be looking for a place to live right as their complex was finishing construction and were able to grab apartments just across the hall from each other.
“You look tired,” Ada said with a grin.
“Easy for you to say. You always look like a model,” Emma said with a yawn. Even wearing jeans and a light sweatshirt, Ada Romano looked like a million bucks.
“Probably because she is one,” Lillian joked and stood. “I’m hungry. Can we go now?”
“Now that Sleeping Beauty’s awake.” Pam smirked.
“Always with the book jokes,” Bailey said sarcastically.
“Can’t help it,” Pam retorted and grabbed her coat.
The six girls had been best friends since elementary school. All had grown up in a tiny Texas town about an hour and a half from where they lived now.
They walked out of the building and into the frigid December air. This winter had been a surprisingly cold one compared to the last few years. Most of the time, Texans didn’t get the chance to experience a true winter.
Ice coated the streets, so they linked arms and walked down the sidewalk and into their favorite brunch restaurant, The Egg and I.
They were seated quickly, and everyone except Ada ordered coffee.
“I don’t understand how you survive on that stuff.” Bailey turned her nose up as Ada dipped one of the tea bags she carried everywhere into the hot water the waitress brought her.
“I don’t see how you drink coffee, so I suppose we’re even.” Ada took a sip of her tea, and to everyone’s amusement, made a slurping noise at Bailey, and then moaned as the hot liquid slid down her throat.
“Don’t go having an orgasm in here, Ada, I want to be invited back.” Bailey smarted off.
Ada stuck her tongue out and then flipped her perfectly wavy brown hair back over her shoulder. Her dad was Italian, her mother from Jersey originally, and Ada received the tan skin, dark hair, and brown eyes from her father, yet somehow managed to look almost exactly like her mother. The looks had gotten her plastered all over the cover of nearly every fashion magazine in Dallas, and that was after she turned down a job in New York, where she would have been working exclusively for one company.
They still wondered why she turned it down, but her answer was always the same: if she were here, she could work with multiple companies and be with her friends. If she went to New York, she would have been alone and only allowed to do one type of shoot.
“So, what’s the game plan tonight, ladies?” Pam asked after the waitress had taken their order.
“I say we go home and take a nap.” Emma lifted her coffee cup to her lips again.
“All right, now that we have your bad idea out of the way, I say we do some shopping, hit the salon for mani-pedis, and then go back to the apartments, get ready, and be out the door by eight.” Bailey, the always organized interior designer, pulled out her planner and started jotting down notes about different shops they should check out.
“Bales, that’s not necessary. We know what stores to go to,” Brooklyn told her.
“I like lists,” she insisted and continued until Ada stole her pen. “Hey!” Bailey called out and shot Ada a glare.
“No lists today.”
“Fine. Can I have my pen back?”
Ada handed Bailey back her pen, and Bailey shoved it and the planner into her purse.
“I may have to take some calls today. I don’t have to go in unless it’s an emergency, but it’s possible I’ll need to offer some help to the vet tech on call.”
“Lillian, can’t you take one day off?”
“Since I’m the only vet on staff, and we’re an animal hospital available to clients twenty-four-seven, that means no.”
“Lame!” Ada said with a laugh, but she offered Lillian a half-hug. “We still love you.”
“Good to know.” Lillian smiled.
“Food!” Ada called out excitedly when the waitress headed their way with a tray.
They watched patiently as the woman unloaded the plates, placing the food in front of them.
“How do you eat that and still stay so thin?” Brooklyn asked Ada as she began to cut up the buttery waffle she had ordered.
“Good genes,” she said around a mouthful.
The girls laughed and continued to eat. None of them messed around when it came to food. The second it was on the table, silence ensued.
Once brunch was eaten, and checks were paid, the girls made their way outside, where they linked arms again and headed down the street to the spa they frequented. It was shaping up to be an incredibly relaxing day, and the night could only get better.
“Are you sure this isn’t too tight?” Emma asked as she did a little turn in front of the full-length mirror in the bathroom.
“You look hot, love!” Bailey smacked Emma on the butt, and Brooklyn let out a whistle.
“It’s so small.” Emma pulled up the top of the strapless dress and did another check in the mirror. “Although, I suppose it does look nice.”
“Honey, it looks more than nice.” Bailey winked. “Tonight is going to be amazing!” Bailey did a spin once she had slipped into her peep-toe heels and then headed into the kitchen. “Who wants to do pre-shots?”
“Emma does!” Brooklyn offered from her bedroom.
“What? No! You guys know I’m a lightweight. If I get started now, I probably won’t make it to the club.”
Brooklyn and Bailey both laughed. “Live a little, Emma!” Bailey said as she poured some vodka into a shot glass.
“Ugh, we’re starting with vodka? That stuff tastes like rubbing alcohol smells.”
“But it’s what we’ll be drinking for most of the night, so this way we aren’t mixing liquor! Besides, it’s birthday-cake flavored.”
“Those labels lie,” Emma said, but downed the shot anyway. “Sheeeeesssshhhh, that is rough.”
“Whoohoo!” Bailey slammed her shot glass down. “That’s the stuff! I am so ready for tonight, you gu