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Alex groaned. She dreaded the thought of leaving the confines of her condo tonight. Damn. It was Deb’s birthday and there was no way to get out of this without being totally pathetic. Deb had been such a good friend, always supportive no matter how paranoid Alex acted.
It was almost time to go. Alex stood in her bathroom staring at herself in the mirror. She hardly bothered with makeup any more but Deb would expect some sort of attempt on Alex's part to appear with-it. She put some gel in her short blonde hair and thought for a moment about how different she looked. When she was kidnapped, she had long, auburn-coloured hair, but afterwards she felt compelled to change everything possible about her appearance. Her shrink said it was a coping mechanism. She had also lost much weight, too much probably. Being on edge all the time wreaked havoc with one’s metabolism.
She rushed to the elevator. As promised, Deb was standing waiting in the lobby and chatting with Bill, the weekend concierge. Bill was huge. Alex liked him and his size.
“You look great, Miss Kent!” said Bill. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so dolled up before.”
“C’mon girlfriend,” Deb laughed. “Nice to see you out of your track suit!” She grabbed Alex by the arm and they waved bye-bye to Bill.
A few moments after the girls left, a delivery man came into the lobby with a massive flower arrangement springing out of an oversized ceramic pot. He was struggling with its weight and size and plopped it down right in front of Bill’s face.
“Hi there! I have a very special delivery for Alexandra Kent. Can you buzz her for me?”
“I’m sorry but you just missed her,” said Bill. “She left with her friend a couple of minutes ago.”
“Can I leave these with you then?” the delivery man asked. “Just sign here for me.”
“I can’t have them here, they’re blocking my view. I guess we could take them up to her suite.”
“Whatever,” said the delivery guy. “I was told she has to receive them today and I’m already late with this delivery. Traffic downtown is a bitch!”
“Tell me about it,” said Bill. “That looks heavy. Would you mind carrying them up? I have a bad shoulder.”
Bill grabbed his master keys and put the “Back in 10 Minutes” sign on the desk and followed the delivery guy into the elevator.
The girls had finished dinner and now they were having coffee and sharing a piece of chocolate birthday torte.
“Wow, this stuff is amazing,” said Deb, “but you’re not eating your share. Help me out here!”
“I’m stuffed,” said Alex, pushing back from the table.
“Oh please! You hardly touched your pasta. You are going to disappear altogether if you don’t start eating properly. Remember when we used to put away gallons of ice cream and Oreos? I worry about you, Alex. When are you going to be yourself again?”