This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
It was bad enough knowing that your sweet little girl was
about to hit eighteen, Jack Carter mused as he leaned against the dress store
wall. Visual confirmation was the final nail in the coffin. The Tesla Prom was
quickly approaching, and somehow Zoe and Pilar had conned him into taking them
here so they could find the perfect dress. They’d walked in forty-five
minutes ago. There was no end in sight.
“So what do you think, Dad?” Zoe came twirling out of the dressing room garbed in a stunning and good lord far too revealing dark blue gown. There was far more skin showing than Carter had feared, and the way it hugged Zoe’s curves was far too perfect. She turned around to let him view the plunging backside, which stopped right about where hers began.
Carter considered his next words. “Umm.”
“Wait until you see Pilar’s!” And true enough, Zoe’s best friend had found something in the perfect complimentary color for her skin. It displayed her assets to their best advantage as well, but for some reason it wasn’t as disturbing to Carter as his daughter’s was. Strange, that.
“Zoe,” he said carefully, “Don’t you think…that’s a bit…mature?”
Zoe glared at him, hands on hips. “Duh, Dad. I’m eighteen, remember?”
“Eighteen does not make you an adult.”
“It does in
“Pilar isn’t my daughter. And I can’t help but notice that her father isn’t here to approve a dress.”
“Oh, he’s up at Global today,” Pilar said with a slightly sexy shrug. Definitely too mature a dress, Carter noted. “But he said to pick out whatever I wanted and it’d be fine.”
“Nice to know some fathers trust their daughters,” Zoe snarked.
“I trust you. It’s the boys I have a problem with.” A potential blocking point came to mind. “Zoe, this is pretty expensive,” Carter said, reaching over to carefully retrieve and examine the price tag. “I don’t know…”
“Mom said she’s paying for it.”
Dammit. Carter looked around the room until he found his own idea of the right dress. “How about this one?” he suggested.
Zoe snorted derisively. “Yeah, if I want to look like an old maid. Come on, Dad. I want to look good for Lucas. It’s our prom!”
Not a good ploy; Carter remembered his own senior prom and its subsequent activities far too well (and fondly). “Look, at least try this on,” he pleaded. “You might like it when you see it.”
“Fine.” Zoe snatched the outfit from her father and stomped back into the dressing area. Pilar gave Carter a smile and a ‘don’t look at me’ shrug, then sashayed off to join her friend. Definitely too mature a dress, he thought.
“I told you he’d be this way,” Zoe hissed as she slinked out of the beloved blue dress. “God, he is such a prude! He thinks I’m still seven years old!”
“Don’t sweat it. I’ve got your back on this one.” Pilar retrieved a small device from her purse. “Hold that piece of crap up so I can scan it.”
“What’s that thing?”
“I call it ‘camouflage’. You scan the ugly dress, and then…” Pilar pointed the device at the blue dress, and it almost instantly became a duplicate version of ‘Carter’s Choice’. “It creates a holographic field around the fabric, and best of all it stays on until you give it a second zap to remove it. So now you can buy the sexy dress, your dad will be happy, and Lucas’ eyes will pop out on prom night!”
“Great!” Zoe slipped the disguised dress back on, then blinked as Pilar fired at her own dress. “What are you doing?”
“Duh. Like I’m going to let my father see this dress? He’ll kill me!”
Prom night finally arrived. Carter had insisted on giving his daughter a final once over (he knew that dress would be perfect for her) and her date a stern glare before seeing them off. He had just settled into his favorite chair in time for the start of the Dodgers-Giants game when—of course—the phone rang. “Jack Carter. Yes, Mrs. Davis, of course I remember you. You’re Zoe’s history teacher. What’s that…?”
“Ready?” Pilar whispered. She and Zoe had conned their boyfriends into a trip to Café Diem, ostensibly for a pre-prom snack. They were now in the ladies’ restroom, about to spring their big surprise on the boys and the world in general. “Voila!”
“Damn,” Zoe noted as they regarded their true dresses in the mirror. “We look hot.”
“We’ve got the look, we’ve got the boys, and we’ve got the dance,” Pilar said as she did some last minute preening. “Nothing is going to stop us now, girlfriend.”
“Thank you so much for agreeing to chaperone at the last minute,” Mrs. Davis said, handing Carter a glass of punch. “We have so much trouble getting fathers to assist. Either they’re busy with a project up at Global, or they’re simply here to make sure their daughters don’t get within eight feet of a boy.”
“Well, I lost that battle awhile back,” he admitted with a smile.
“Lucas is a fine young man,” Mrs. Davis assured him.
“Yeah, emphasis on ‘man’.” Carter looked around the room in search of his deputy, who had practically lunged across the desk to sign up for ‘guard duty’, as she put it. She wasn’t too hard to find; he had to wonder just how much money Jo had blown on that dress. Judging from the way the boys’ heads were twisting to get a glimpse, it had probably been worth every penny.
“Isn’t that your daughter coming in now? My, they’re quite the couple.” Carter turned toward the front door. Lucas’ height made him incredibly easy to spot, and sure enough, there was Zoe, smiling brilliantly in her incredibly styled…slinky…blue…dress…
The momentary triumph of winning First Prize in Teh_Sexy was quickly washed away by the horror of noticing who was chaperoning.
“Oh crap,” Zoe whispered to Pilar. “What is he doing here? For God’s sake, the Dodgers are playing tonight!”
“You’re dead,” Pilar replied softly. “Drop dead sexy, but dead. Crap, here he comes. Nice knowing you.”
“Some friend you are!” Zoe growled, but Pilar and her date were already gliding away to a nearby circle of friends. Zoe considered her options, took a deep breath and smiled brightly. “Hey, Dad.”
“Zoe.” Her father had that look she’d seen so many times in the past, the one where he was trying to figure out how best to handle the situation. “Lucas…”
“Sir?” Lucas squeaked.
“Have a good time tonight, have her home by midnight, and hands where I can see them at all times.” Assured by the rapid nodding of the boy’s head, Carter allowed himself a small smile and walked away, leaving a terrified teen and a bewildered daughter.
“Hey, you’re still alive,” Pilar said as she returned. “I thought he was going make a scene for sure.”
“Yeah,” Zoe nodded. “He’ll probably wait until I get home tonight.”
“That’s a long time away, girlfriend. For now, let’s party!”
“So what did you do?” Henry asked the next morning over coffee at Café Diem.
“What could I do?” Carter said with a shrug. “It wasn’t like I could make her change right there and then. I was going to talk to her about it, but I ended up falling asleep before she got home.” He sighed and sipped at his cup. “And…she’s right. She’s practically an adult now, not the kid that used to jump into my arms whenever I came home from an assignment and demand to know what I’d bought her.”
“Kids do grow up, whether we like it or not,” Henry noted.
“Says the guy who never married or had any of his own,” Carter shot back. “Or did you?”
Henry shook his head. “Never worked out for me,” he said with just a trace of regret. “It was always the next thing to study, the next thing to conquer that kept my attention. I do envy you, Jack.”
“Yeah, well, that also means you never had to see your daughter wearing this.” He handed Henry Zoe’s official prom picture and waited for the reaction. It was about what he’d expected.
“All right,” Henry finally conceded as he handed the photo back. “I often envy you, Jack. Just not in this case.”
“Comes with the territory,” Carter nodded as he motioned to Vincent for a refill. “It comes with the territory.”