By Design – Chapter 42

Colleen arrived at Gracie’s apartment early in the afternoon to help her get dressed for the party Eli was hosting that night. Colleen had also been invited to attend, as a friend of Gracie’s. Gracie couldn’t help but wonder what Colleen had said to Eli to get him to let her come. Russ Walker had stopped by earlier that day with gowns for both girls, courtesy of his brother. Gracie had been shocked to open the door and see him standing there. The formal wear wad come as a surprise.

“Eli didn’t have to do this,” Gracie told him.

“I know,” Russ said. “He just wants to make sure everything is perfect.” The smile on the boy’s face was unsettling to Gracie, as if he knew some secret that he wasn’t willing to share. Gracie had tried to brush off the idea though. She knew she was letting her imagination run away with her. There was nothing for her to worry about.

The dress Eli sent her was a deep blue, with sparkles here and there that shimmered when they caught the light. It was beautiful, but even she was amazed by just how wonderful it looked on her. It wasn’t that Gracie had never worn a gown before; she had just never worn one that seemed so specifically made for her.

“Only you would find a man who could dress you so well,” Colleen jested as she squeezed in beside Gracie to look herself over in the full-length mirror. Colleen’s gown was a pale green, and complimented her complexion. Eli had been very careful indeed in choosing their attire for the evening.

But as beautiful as she knew she looked, Gracie found herself nervous about tonight. She was attending this event as a guest, not as a reporter. The idea was still new to her.  The last time this had happened, things had gone a bit haywire. She didn’t want the same mess to occur tonight. Perhaps it was just the memory of the Chen fundraiser that was making her nervous. Though, Gracie couldn’t help but think it was something more. She thought again of the look on Russ Walker’s face when he had dropped off the dresses. The boy was definitely hiding something. There was something going on. Gracie was sure of it. She didn’t like not knowing.

“What’s up with that look?” Colleen asked.

Gracie hadn’t realized she was making a look. She did her best to try to return her expression to normal.

“You’re kind of looking like you don’t want to go out tonight,” Colleen noted.

“It would be horrible of me, right?”

“After all the trouble this man has gone through to make sure you look gorgeous tonight, I think you at least owe it to him to show up,” Colleen told her.

She was right, Gracie knew. “I just can’t shake the feeling something weird is going on,” she admitted to her friend.

Colleen gave her a knowing smile. “Now, whatever would give you that idea?” she asked, as she linked her arm around Gracie’s and ushered her out the door.

It did little to set Gracie’s mind at ease.

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