"You realize, she’s going to kill you if she finds out that you’re going through her things," Ton drawled, sitting back against the headboard of Erin’s bed. He wiggled a bit, then found the perfect placement of pillows to cushion his back from the laminated wood.
Face scowled at him, then glanced at the bathroom door. The sound of water against tile was faint but persistent. He had a few minutes at least, maybe an hour if Erin was the sensualist he suspected her to be. "I’m helping her. She won’t kill me for that."
"Yeah, helping her just like Wes helped her rearrange her underwear."
The Wraith scowled at his partner, not liking the idea of Wes seeing Erin’s underwear, even if she wasn’t in it at the time. "I’m not going to leave spiders in her panties."
"You’d better not," Ton chuckled. "I don’t think the maids would enjoy removing your blood from the carpeting."
Ignoring the comment, Face opened the wardrobe and began searching through its contents. "Gods!" Loran’s voice echoed faintly inside the closet. "This girl is in serious need of a personal shopper. This is wrong. This is evil…"
Curiosity got the better of Phanen, forcing him from his comfortable nest of pillows. "What are you shouting about? She’s going to hear you."
Face removed himself from the wardrobe, looking indignant. "I…"
"…finally came out of the closet? Good for you, Face. I’ll send you a congratulatory note later."
"Oh shut up."
Ton grinned as Loran pointed inside at Erin’s belongings. "Look at the sorry state of her wardrobe."
The Wraith did as he was told, eyeing the assortment of T-shirts and sundresses that were carefully lined up on wire hangers. "So what?" he shrugged. "She’s a University student. And Erin isn’t exactly the frilly sort. Last night was probably the first time she’s ever worn a gown."
"Exactly my point. She needs help."
Ton looked at him skeptically. "She likes being this way."
Face’s pale eyes narrowed. How could his wing be so dense? "Do you REALLY believe that? Do you think she’s happy? Have you looked in her eyes? Really looked? There’s a helluva lot of loneliness there for someone who’s content."
Phanan considered Face’s words, trying to cut through the emotion to see if this was one of his performances or if there was substance behind his words. He weighed his wing’s observation with his own, and came to the same conclusion. Erin was hurting. She was alone. The way she thrived during their escapades made it obvious that there was more to Erin than the shy image she presented to the world. She just hadn’t learned to show everyone that aspect of herself. "All right, what do we do?"
If Erin had been in the room, she would have fainted from the grin on Loran’s face. "I KNEW you’d agree with me."
"When don’t I agree with you?" Ton countered dryly.
"Good point. Now get that superior intellect warmed up and help me figure out how we can help her…"
Erin came out of the bathroom, toweling off her hair before water could drip onto her shirt. She paused when she realized the Wraiths were staring at her. "Wha?"
Face cleared his throat; "You’re going to the Follies in that?"
Erin looked down at her jeans and blouse. "What’s wrong with my clothes." She looked at him, eyes narrowing. "Wait a minute. I’m not going to the Follies."
Ton and Face exchanged a look; Erin knew she was in trouble. "Yes, you are," Face answered patiently. "We want to experience the best of Las Vegas and the Follies are classic."
Erin knew she would lose the argument but she had to try. "I’m not going to watch half naked ladies prance around on stage."
The ex-actor sighed, "We aren’t going to the topless review."
Ton glared at Face. "What do you mean we’re not going to the topless show? You said…"
"Ton, you know you’re not properly trained for that. I thought we were finally making progress, then you fling yourself at Erin’s bodice the first chance you get. Couldn’t even restrain yourself enough not to do it in public." Loran cast a green-eyed look towards Erin. "Not that I blame you, she does have stunning breasts, but you shouldn’t do it in public!"
Erin blushed a color that matched her hair and Phanan looked woebegone. "I try and I try, Face, but I just keep slipping," Ton sobbed. Erin rolled her eyes and noticed Ton was giving her a rather satisfied smirk. "So are we going to the Follies?"
Conned in less than five minutes. She really should have more self-control around them. But then, what fun was that? "All right, boys, we’ll go to the show." Again she looked down at her clothes. "So what’s wrong with the way I’m dressed?"
"Um…how do I put this," Face said, looking decidedly uncomfortable. "It’s…"
"Boring," Phanan interrupted.
Erin scowled at the Wraiths. "What do you expect me to do, dress up like a showgirl?"
"Well actually…" Loran began.
"I am not dressing like a showgirl!" Erin almost yelled, not sure she was angry that Face had suggested it or that for a nanosecond she had actually considered the idea…and liked it.
"Well if you aren’t going to dress like a showgirl, you should at least dress so that you’re not underdressed compared to us."
Erin eyed the pair. Face was wearing a ragged pair of jogging pants and a tacky T-shirt he had picked up from one of the shops they had explored. Not that she minded. The cheap cotton clung to every muscle of his chest, leaving Erin little need to use her imagination. If she continued staring at the stunning ex-actor, she was sure she’d start drooling. Ton was dressed more conservatively than his wingmate, but Erin was still enjoying the view. Tight jeans were giving her very erotic thoughts, especially when she could catch a glimpse of…Nice rear, Lieutenant… The rest of him wasn’t bad either, what little of him, he’d allowed to be visible. Even with the air conditioner’s chill, the long sleeved shirt that he wore was unnatural for the desert clime. Erin assumed it hid whatever scars Phanan had acquired during his time with the New Republic.
Though the view of the Wraiths was spectacular, they weren’t exactly going to grace the covers of any fashion magazines. "It seems that you two are underdressed."
Face gave her a sly smile that caused butterflies to flit through her stomach. He’s too gorgeous for my own good… "Don’t be impatient, Red. We promise not to disappoint you…"
Face’s prediction was correct. Erin was definitely NOT disappointed. But she WAS horribly underdressed. She didn’t know how they managed it, but then, fashion had never been one of her strong points. Slacks and a plain shirt should not look that good, but then considering the guys that are wearing them, I shouldn’t be surprised….
Which embarrassingly reminded her of her inadequate wardrobe. They look gorgeous and sophisticated and I look like a ratty kid.
"You both look…amazing," she managed to stutter, trying and failing to get a hold of her demeaning thoughts.
Face gave Ton a look that clearly said "I told you so!" then smiled at their guide. "You look beautiful, Erin, but…" He winced when he saw how she seemed to fold in on herself at his words. "But you could use a little excitement." He tried to soften his words by adding, "since we’re going to the Follies."
It was obvious that he had struck a nerve. Cursing his stupidity, Loran gave her THE grin, which, as expected set Erin in even more of a daze. Thankfully, this daze was from a smile that was renown for dropping a woman’s mind several IQ points and not from whatever thoughts were ruining her mood.
As Face led her to the dressing table, he glanced at Ton. His wingmate shrugged not sure what to do to help Erin. Improving self-esteem wasn’t exactly one of Ton’s specialties. Better to leave that sort of work to Face.
"You are lovely, Red, there’s no denying that. I just think that you should look a tad more festive." He suddenly reminded Erin of a naughty puppy that was hoping to receive praise from his mistress. She couldn’t help tentatively returning his smile.
Face studied her for a moment; then, bowing low he picked up her hairbrush. "If Milady does not mind…" Ton gave his wing a relieved look as Erin giggled at Loran’s antics. Face didn’t mess things up too badly if he can get her to laugh.
As the ex-actor fussed with her hair, she caught his eye in the mirror. "You’re pretty good at this."
He smiled weakly. "Spend enough time on sets, you learn things. How else do you think I learned how to create all stunning disguises the Wraiths really on?"
"Can anyone say ego?" Erin asked politely.
"I can," chorused Phanan.
"Thank you, Ton," Face grumbled. "Your assistance is always appreciated."
"I’m always glad to help."
When Loran finished with her hair, he moved to her make-up kit, fussing over its contents until he found whatever he needed. Erin wasn’t sure what he did, but the results were amazing. Her hair was twisted into some complex style wrapped around her head like a loose crown. Her gray eyes now had a green cast that was highlighted by the color of her hair. Could her lips really look that full, her eyes that exotic? Somehow he had made her look casually elegant, perfectly complimenting the style of her dates….Dates? Erin couldn’t help grinning foolishly at that thought.
Face noticed her grin and gave her a look that could only be described by her earlier comment of "Ego!" He leaned against the table and smirked. "I assume you like the new look."
"I do," she murmured, gaping at the mirror. "But that can’t be me!"
"It is," Loran smirked. "And I didn’t even have to fool with your natural features. All I used was different colors." He teased her nose with one of the feathery cosmetic brushes he had used. "We TOLD you that you were beautiful."
"You’ll also be late for the show if we don’t hurry," Ton added. "Course if we were late, we’d have to go to the next show which is the topless…"
Erin pretended to glare at Phanan. "Don’t even think about it…"
Continued in Part Eleven