Every time Rachel logged on to Facebook for the rest of the week she checked to see if Amy was on chat. But Amy was never on Facebook when Rachel was. And she didn’t send any messages either. Rachel told herself that if by Friday Amy hadn’t sent a message, she would send her one.

The party was on Saturday night and Rachel really needed some more tips on how to make sure her date with Simon was unforgettable. She had never had a boyfriend before. She didn’t want to mess it up – not with Linda waiting in the wings. This was her one chance. How great it would be to steal Simon from under Linda’s nose!

On Friday at break time Rachel decided to call Amy. The phone went straight to voicemail. But the voicemail message was so strange that Rachel called it again, and listened intently:

“You’ve reached Amy Amore for your amusement. What more could you ask for? Leave a message after the beep.”

Rachel was baffled, and she didn’t leave a message. But then, she thought, she had heard weirder messages before on her school friends’ phones.

Later, as she was waiting with a group of girls for their taxi, Rachel spotted Simon and Linda. They were chatting. Rachel felt hurt. What was Simon doing with Linda when he had asked her to the dance? Was it a joke at her expense?

Just then a big black Mercedes C55 pulled up. The boys who were waiting for the taxis whistled. The car had black tinted windows. The door opened and there was Amy standing on the pavement. There were more wolf whistles. Amy seemed to enjoy the boys staring.

“Aren’t you coming?” Amy walked over to Rachel and took her school bag. Rachel couldn’t believe it. She was speechless when Amy led her to the car. Gary stepped out of the driver’s seat and opened the door for her. Everyone stared in awe as she got into the back seat of the Merc and they sped off.

Inside the car was like another luxurious world – a world of soft black leather and sexy music.

“We’ve bought you something really special,” Amy said, turning to smile at Rachel. She looked excited. “It’s a fabulous dress for your date. You deserve the first date of your dreams.” Amy turned around in the passenger seat to smile at Rachel. Rachel felt like a celebrity, being escorted away from school by her new friend. It really was like a dream come true.

“Don’t worry, we’ll take you home afterwards. We’re heading to Gary’s penthouse in Sandton where you can try it on. Shoes too. I can’t wait for you to see the outfit.” Amy winked at Rachel. “I want you to have the first date that I never had,” she said. “My mother didn’t see why I needed special clothes. She didn’t let me go on dates either.” Amy’s tone wasn’t sad; it was bitter when she said those words.

“Where is your mother now?” asked Rachel. She wanted to make it better for Amy in some way. Amy had been so kind to her.

“That depends…” answered Amy.

“Amy was adopted,” said Gary.

“My adoptive mother is with her third husband and their real children.” Amy paused. “She’s forgotten about me, and I don’t care about her. My real mother, well, I’ve never met her. Not yet. So she’s going to make up for all those years of hardship, that’s for sure…” Amy looked at herself in the rear view mirror and put on fresh lipstick. “But let’s not talk about all that. We are going to have a good time.”

“You deserve it,” said Gary and pinched her cheek affectionately. They pulled into the driveway of a mansion. Rachel hadn’t noticed where they were driving. She had no idea where they were, only that this was a rich neighbourhood.

Inside Gary’s lounge Amy plonked herself down on the elegant black leather couch and Gary went behind the bar to mix surprise cocktails for ‘you girls’, as he called her and Rachel.

“The best way to know how to act around boys, is to practise with men. You’ve got to come with us to the Club this afternoon to meet some men and practise chatting and flirting! Gary’s club is really the best place to do it,” enthused Amy.

Gary handed them their pretty cocktails – they even had little decorative paper umbrellas and mint leaves and ice. Rachel felt so grown up. She was happy, she had a date, and life suddenly seemed very rosy. It was even rosier after the cocktail.

“With you I feel more confident,” said Rachel. “I feel I could do anything. It’s just…”


“When you’re not around that confidence disappears and I’m just shy, boring Rachel again.”

“You could never be boring,” said Gary. He was emptying a small packet with white powder onto the glass table top. He took his bank card and started cutting the powder into thin lines.

Rachel knew what it was. A woman from the drug counselling centre had visited their school. She had a briefcase full of examples of different kinds of drugs. She showed them charts as to what the drugs did to your brain.

“Want some?” Gary asked casually. Rachel shook her head.

“It will wear off before you know it,” Gary said.

“Perhaps she’s not ready,” said Amy. “And that’s fine. Different strokes for different folks.”

Rachel was relieved. Amy was being so nice. She understood.

“She doesn’t know what she’s missing,” laughed Gary. “Hey, why don’t you go and try your dress on? It’s the first door on the left.”

The dress was laid out on a double bed. Amy stared at it. It was stunning. There was a pair of stilettos too. When she put the dress on and looked at herself in the mirror she couldn’t believe the transformation. It fitted her perfectly. How had Amy known her measurements? She felt like a million dollars, like she could be anyone she wanted, and do anything. The dress was platinum silver with sequins and fine red beadwork on the front. It had a sexy split down the side.

She was about to go out and show Gary and Amy when she heard raised voices from the lounge. Angry voices.

They sounded like two different people, not the Amy and Gary Rachel knew. Perhaps it was the drugs that made Gary shout like that. Rachel sat down on the bed. She suddenly felt out of her depth. What if they were arguing about her? What if Gary hadn’t wanted to buy the dress for her? Maybe Amy wanted the dress for herself.

She decided to wait until they had stopped arguing. She recognised Amy’s fluffy white jersey. It was lying on the floor at the foot of the bed. There was a notepad on the bedside table.

Rachel picked the notepad up. There was a list of telephone numbers. All with initials and her surname next to them: Rylands. Street addresses too. All of them were crossed out with a red pen, except for one: Ryland P, 62 Festival Street. Rachel’s address. Next to this was Rachel’s mother’s name: Patricia. It had been underlined three times. Rachel’s school’s name was also there, and the time that school came out, as well as Rachel’s ballet schedule.

Rachel frowned. Amy was calling her now. Her voice had changed, the anger had disappeared. She heard Gary laughing. The storm that had suddenly erupted had died down just as quickly.

Rachel went out in her dress.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Gary. “I am proud to show you around the club. Let’s go. The first after-work customers will be there. ”

“How are you feeling?” asked Amy.

“Good,” said Rachel uncertainly. Suddenly she seemed way out of her depth. And the feeling only deepened as she was led inside the club.

* * *

Tell us what you think: What should Rachel do?