Sturdy really didn’t suit her. Zora sneered at the rack and pushed aside another foot’s worth of dowdy, comfortable smocks. She couldn’t wear this stuff. She didn’t think anyone could.
“Oh look,” Murray pushed against her right arm and pointed across the Bingies to a table that boasted several flashing red signs, “There’s a sale, Zor.”
“Lord help us.” She glanced to either side of the store. Any minute now, someone would see her shopping at Bingies, and the nearest star would go supernova.
But Murray looked serious. She tottered off toward the sale table like a Bomorian heading for an open bar. Zora checked the store again and then slunk in her sister’s wake. The table held piles of stiff, pasty-colored skirts and horrid fuzzy sweaters with a faint-hearted attempt at LED stitching. Murray pulled out a blue one of these and held it up between them.
“What?” Zora stared at the thing. She’d seen better weaves on office furniture. Hell, she’d seen better on the office staff. “Mur, they put stuff on sale for a reason.”
“It’s just overstock, Zora.”
“That's because nobody would buy it.”
“Well,” Murray sniffed and stuffed the sweater back into the pile. “You have to find something to wear soon, Zora. Even Ignatius is bound to notice your midsection eventually.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Just tell him.”
Zora smoothed the front of her shirt over her belly and twisted to the side. She figured she was about four and a half months along, but it’s not like she was obvious yet. “I haven’t gained that much weight, Mur.”
“You look like you swallowed a cantaloupe.” When Zora gasped, she sighed and gave her a more thorough inspection. “Fine, a small cantaloupe, but still.”
“Nothing here has been in style for at least five years.” Zora stuck her lip out a little. The clothes really did look awful, and the concert would attract a hip crowd, even on Cyrus 4. “Can’t we just blame my middle on the burgers?”
“You want people to think you’re just getting fat?”
“Maybe.” She wished she was still puking. At least sick would give her an excuse to skip the damn thing. She looked around the store again. They had to have something, one garment that didn’t scream geek. Murray started chattering again and, Zora noted, continued to paw through the mark-downs.
“You know, Zora,” she said. She always called her Zora when she felt patronizing and Zora had a tendency to tune her out once the conversation shifted in that direction. “It might be a good time to consider toning things down a little.”
“Why?” She scanned the back of the store, where Bingies’ excuse for lingerie floated at various heights on round, plastic hover disks. A flash of color beside one of the tables looked slightly less than horrid. Zora squinted at it.
“Because you’re going to be a mom, soon,” Murray continued. “You can’t exactly continue to dress like you usually do.”
“What? Why not?”
Murray blinked at her.
“Seriously, Mur. You’re saying I have to what? Dress like, like--.”
“Don’t say it.”
“I’m just saying you might consider muting some of the more outrageous aspects of your wardrobe.”
Zora tossed her hair back and laughed. When Murray didn’t join her, she frowned and started toward the back of the store. She wove through tables of drab, utilitarian clothing as if they might leap out and turn her into a frump at any second.
“Come on.” She sidestepped a rack of coats that looked suspiciously familiar. “The kids not going to care how I dress.”
“Are you kidding me? Of course it will.”
“What?” She reached the rack she’d seen from sale central and parted the hangers. “Now this I like.” The dress hung loose under the chest, would hide her shape and still look fantastic with her red boots. It had almost no sleeves, and a pattern with more color than anything else in the store. And unlike the rest of the inventory, the fabric on this one actually flowed when you moved it. “What do you think?”
“That’s a nightgown, Zora.”
“So? It’s nice. I can dance in this.”
“You can’t wear a nightgown in public.”
“Wanna bet.” She could wear whatever the hell she wanted. She could go naked if she felt like it. In fact, a few of the venues she knew of required as much. She slung the dress over her shoulder and flashed her teeth at Murray. “I’m buying it.”
She enjoyed watching her sister’s mouth open and close, especially when no sound came out. Zora grinned and headed for the register. Nobody told her what to wear. Nobody. She felt her hand sneak toward the little cantaloupe on reflex and forced it back down to her side. Shit. She already worried enough about what Iggy thought of her, what he would think if he knew about everything in her, heavily populated, skeleton closet. The last thing she needed was to worry about what the baby would think.
But Murray had managed to spoil the party, as usual. And as she watched the Amaryllian woman ringing up her purchase, she couldn’t help but wonder what the baby would think. What kind of a mother wore a nightgown to a concert? Maybe a really hip one, or maybe, one who had absolutely no business whatsoever taking care of a baby.