DEPARTMENT STORE - LADIES APPAREL
inhaled deeply and then slowly turned around. "Jillian, how good to
see you. What are you doing here?"
"Same as you, I suspect," Jillian
laughed as she walked over to check out one of the gowns the sales girl was
holding. "I need a new dress for the fundraiser. What better
place to find it than Lerner's?"
"You mean you're not having one custom
made by one of your designer friends in New York? You're not having one
hand stitched and beaded?" Although she was trying not to, Stephanie
could barely contain the sarcasm in her voice.
"We only got our invitations last week,
Stephanie," Jillian reminded. "And, yes, although I've known
about the ball for quite a while now, there just wasn't enough time to have
designs drawn up and narrowed down and fabric selected and...."
"I get the picture."
"Mrs. Callison, I'm sure you'll find
just the gown you're looking for," the sales girl spoke up. "Our
styles rival anything that you could find in one of those Manhattan fashion
"Yes, they're just wonderful,"
Jillian smiled. "Like that one." She pointed at one of the
dresses hanging on the rack. "That one is especially nice. I
like the detail around the neckline and those sleeves are just darling."
"I was thinking about getting that
one," Stephanie spoke up. Of course, that wasn't exactly the truth --
she hadn't even seen that gown, yet. "I think it would look fabulous
"Mmmm...I don't think so."
Jillian shook her head as she tapped her chin with her finger. "I
don't think it would flatter your figure at all. It's almost too sleek."
"Well, Stephanie, you are more curvy
than I am...."
"Are you trying to say that I'm
fat?" Stephanie's jaw tightened as she balled her hands up into fists
and propped them on her hips.
Not at all, dear," Jillian stammered, taken aback by how her comments were
received. "I was just saying that not every gown works for every
woman. We each have our own beauty strengths and weaknesses and we've got
to learn to hide the weaknesses and accentuate the strengths. It's one of
those things that I learned in finishing school." She paused
momentarily, realizing that perhaps she still wasn't explaining herself as well
as she'd wanted to. "Steph, I'm not trying to criticize you at
all. I'm just offering my advice and expertise. You've got to admit
that I've got a little more experience at getting dressed up for things like
this than you do. I'm offering my advice as a friend."
"With a friend like you, who needs
enemies," Stephanie mumbled under her breath.
"So, just out dress shopping
today?" Jillian said casually after a long pause. The tension in the
air was more than a little apparent and she decided that a change in subject was
desperately in order.
"Well, it's actually just one in a
series of errands I've got to run before I go in to the radio station to do
today's show." Stephanie's eyes went back to the gown she and Jillian
had been discussing. "Just your usual stuff, a stop by the hospital,
shopping for an evening gown...just your average errands."
"The hospital?" Jillian's
eyes grew wide with surprise. "You're not sick are you?"
"No," Stephanie laughed.
"Todd's come down with an earache and I needed to pick up some drops for
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. But
at least it seem like things are working out between all of you. I know
that at the wedding there seemed to be some tension between you and Todd."
"Still is, actually," Stephanie
sighed. "But this has all been such a big adjustment for him.
It's going to take some time for all of us to get used to everything."
"I can completely understand that,"
Jillian nodded. "You know, it's funny how life can throw little curve
balls at you just when you think you've got everything all settled and planned
"Yes, it is." Stephanie
watched Jillian closely and saw that Jillian's attention, too, was drawn back to
the evening gown. "Are you...thinking about buying that
one?" She paused. "Like you said, it has a sleeker
line. It would look good on you."
"I'm...not sure." Jillian
examined the dress again. "I do like it, but...well...I'm not sure
it's exactly what I'm looking for. I'm not sure if it's the fashion
statement I want to make."
"So like you to put so much thought and
planning into a dress."
"Well, I'm a firm believer in that what a
woman chooses to wear makes a statement about how she is as a woman and how she
wants to be seen."
"Really?" Stephanie's eyes
narrowed, her curiosity peaked. "And what kind of statement do you
think this gown is saying?"
sophistication...." She paused. "I see it as a gown that
the wealthy heroine of a sweeping romantic movie would wear for a ball with her
"And that's not the statement you want
to make?" Stephanie blinked her eyes in surprise. "Sounds
like a pretty good statement to me."
"Honey, I just started shopping,"
Jillian laughed. "You never simply grab the first dress you see
without taking into consideration all of your choices. There very well
could be another gown that makes that statement even better. I've got to
carefully consider all of my choices."
"So you're not getting it?"
"Probably not," Jillian
sighed. "I hardly ever pick the first dress I see. I always
have to over-think decisions like this. I suppose you could call it a
You admit to having a character flaw?
Stephanie struggled to fight her urge to smirk.
"You're not getting it, are you?"
Jillian asked curiously.
"After you so kindly told me how inappropriate
it would look on me?" Stephanie's hand flew up to her chest as if she
were stunned that Jillian thought that Stephanie wouldn't automatically take her
"Now, I didn't say 'inappropriate'.
I mean, it could work with some alterations -- a larger size to fit you through
the bust and then take it in a little through the waist and...."
"A larger size?" Stephanie's
jaw begin to tighten again.
"You know what I mean," Jillian
laughed uncomfortably. "Oh, well, look at the time. Reginald's
parents are having us over for dinner tonight and I promised myself that I would
get this entire dress business taken care of today. So, if I'm going to
get anything accomplished, I better get myself moving." Her eyes went back
to the gown. "Don't worry. You'll find the right dress."
Jillian walked away, Stephanie bit the inside of her cheek, the gears inside her
head working a mile a minute. Margie, the prop girl at the radio station,
was a whiz with a needle and thread. After all, she was always making
her own clothes. Perhaps....
"I'll take that one," she blurted
out, startling the sales girl. "That one Mrs. Callison and I were
"But I thought she said...."
"Who cares what she said?"
Stephanie snapped. "I want that dress! Have it wrapped up and
sent to the radio station and put it on my account." My account --
she liked how that sounded.
"Now I've got to get going. I've
still got errands to run before today's show." She paused and eyed
the girl curiously. "You do listen to my show every day, don't
"That's hard to do when I'm here every
"Well...whatever. Just do what I
asked you to do. Have that dress sent to the radio station."
As Stephanie hurried away, the sales girl
went about her assigned task of packing up the gown for shipment. A few
minutes later, Jillian came back through, still in search of the right dress.
"Any luck, Mrs. Callison?" the girl
"None," Jillian sighed.
"Nothing I've seen even comes close to that first dress." She
paused and rubbed her chin as she examined it, still hanging on the rack.
"The dress you and Mrs. Monroe were
looking at?" The girl's voice caught in her throat. "But
"Oh, my own rule be damned. It's
perfect! I'll take that one!" Jillian held out her finger and
pointed at the dress in question.
"T-that dress?" the sales girl
gasped. "B-but, Mrs. Callison, you can't buy that dress!"
"What? Why can't I...oh...I
see." Jillian carefully looked at the tag. "You're
absolutely right. Thank you so much. I definitely have to have a
smaller size. You do have this in a smaller size, don't you?"
"Well, yes, I do, but...."
"Wonderful!" Jillian exclaimed in relief.
"Then you just wrap it up and have it sent to my home and put it on my
"But, Mrs. Callison...."
"I'll be expecting it later this
afternoon." Jillian turned and began to hurry off down the aisle. "Thank you so much for your help!"
As Jillian turned the corner and disappeared
out of sight, the sales girl shook her head with worry and dread. Oh, to be a fly on
the wall at the Fourth of July Ball!