To risk all

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Chapter 4

Her eyelids refused to open while she was trying to do so. Her head was buzzing without mercy. But why did I go out last night? At least, I’m not working today. She didn’t keep any memory of her return trip with the taxi or even getting to her apartment. She sat up painfully and her whole room started waving before her eyes. She wasn’t feeling very well. What had she been drinking? She hurried out of the room to vomit in the toilet. She then returned into her bedroom, still unsteadily. She slid along the wall, dazed. All the furniture was moving and waving before her eyes. The mirror rocked, her bedside table was moving. She frowned. My bed is really moving… Still against the wall, she painfully sat up without leaving her sight from the bed. There was someone in her bed! She lowered her eyes. She realized she was wearing a light blue shirt much too large to belong to her. She heard a groan, followed by the rustle of sheets. Now she could see who was in her bed: the guy from the bar – Jeremy – was asleep.

She gave a little cry, startling him at the same time. He sat up, bewildered as she could be. The girl hurried back into the bathroom to splash her face with cold water to recollect her thoughts together. He rode with her in the taxi? Having wiped her hands, she clutched her stomach, struggling against a new feeling of sickness. Then she noticed she was naked under the shirt. Something happened last night… She heard a thump from her room. She ran as fast as possible to her room and saw Jeremy lying on the floor near her bed. He groaned as he painfully got up. He was wearing only boxer short. His jeans were around his ankles.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Yes, that’s fine… I just wanted to get dressed too quickly…”

He raised his blue eyes toward her, looking embarrassed. I don’t remember to have noticed the color of his eyes yesterday.

“Uh… It’s my… That’s my shirt you’re wearing. I can… Can I get it back, please?”

She unbuttoned his shirt and hurriedly put on her robe before to restore him his garment. Her skin smelled his aftershave. She watched quietly and thought it was a shame not to keep memory of his tanned skin and his slightly muscular torso. He passed a nervous hand through his hair, looking for something to say.

“You… Do you want a taxi?”

He shook his head.

“No. I’ll manage.”

“Are you sure?”

He nodded, repeating that he would be okay. He left the apartment in a hurry, without giving her one last glance. When she was home alone again, the young woman returned to the bathroom to vomit again. Once her stomach was empty, she rushed into the shower to wake up fully. Dressed in her bathrobe, the she began to see her reflection in the mirror. She looked like a wreck. Bluish rings had dug their way under her eyes which were barely open. She sank down on the sofa, heaving a deep sigh. She searched her memory of what had happened last night. The fact of waking up naked under the shirt of a guy meant there had been sexual activity. Eyes wide opened, she ran to her room to take a glance in her drawer where she was storing condoms. She couldn’t remember the exact number that was in the box before yesterday, but the empty containers suggested she hadn’t forgotten them. At least some good news!

“Wait a minute…” she said aloud, frowning.

There were two empty containers on the bedside table. She put a hand to her forehead, groaning.

“We did it twice?”

Had she been drinking that much to forget what had happened once they were on the sidewalk? He came out with her so she will not be alone. They were still kissing before the taxi arrives to take her home. And after? She doesn’t remember inviting him to get in the taxi, or the night they had probably spent together.

“It has been months since I had sex and when it happens, I don’t remember anything!”

She buried her face in her hands and wept. She wept to exhaustion. She fell asleep in fetus position on her bed. She was barely aware of noises around her. The phone rang several times, but she made no move to respond. She wouldn’t tell anyone. She ends up falling into a dreamless sleep until mid-afternoon. The phone rang again and she regretted not having it unplug. Groping, she took the phone without much haste. She replied with a groaning voice.

“Whoever you are, stop calling.”

“Clara?” her father asked. “Is that really you?”

“What do you want, Dad?”

“It’s been hours since we try to contact you. Why didn’t you answer before?”

Her father seemed on the verge of panic. What she was doing with her day wasn’t anybody’s business. And since she hadn’t wanted to talk to a human being, she decided not to pursue the conversation any longer.

“Why were you trying to reach me?”

“To find out whether you’ll be there tonight at the restaurant.”

“What restaurant?”

“The one we’ll be tonight! Do you ever listen to your messages?”

She sat on her bed, a little more awake now. No, she didn’t listen to her messages. If she hadn’t responded to their calls, how come he was expected her to knew what he meant? She asked her father to make a little summary of all their messages. He sighed deeply.

“You’re so irresponsible. Even at your age. Like you never passed the teenage stage.”

“I’m busy, OK? I have a life too, you know.”

She wouldn’t tell him she was sleeping right next to the phone and just preferred not to answer. She didn’t want her father to take advantage of this information against her one day.

“What’s with the summary?”

“We have a family dinner tonight. This means that you will have to be there too. Be there around 7:00 p.m. and don’t be late. Got it?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“No. As if you really had something else to do with your evening! Remember to be there on time, please.”

The young woman wanted to tell him she’d rather prefer to see her dentist than spend her Saturday evening with her family. But she shot her mouth. She didn’t know whether her father would be able to understand the subtlety of her reply. She doubted it. Her father seemed satisfied with her answer. She could finally hang up. She rubbed her eyes to awake herself. Her clock told her it was 3:35 p.m. Why her family bugged her on a Saturday night? She really didn’t need that to ruin her day.

But at least she still had a few hours before the dinner to prepare herself psychologically to face her mother and her older sister. Victoria was her senior by only one year, but the two young women looked so different from one another. Her sister was, according to Clara, a genuine cowhide. One of the many similarities she had with their mother. Her brother Sebastian was the youngest of the family and he was gay. Still, he was always the beloved little boy by her parents. For Clara, there was no place for her. She felt like a stranger in her own family. She had understood it for some time. She avoided them as much as she could. Much better for her mental health.

She rose and began to delete all messages left by her parents. They were useless now. Then she went to the mirror to assess the damage left by the evening and the night before. Nothing very gratifying. The dark circles had slightly gone, but her hair looked like a battlefield.

“Let’s limit the damage.”

She frantically brushed her hair to restore their appearance a little more normal. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. She still managed to do something. She wouldn’t stay very long at the restaurant. Just enough time to know why she was disturbed during her weekend. She would make an appearance to satisfy everyone.

In front of her closet, she knew she risked being criticized no matter what she wears. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get out of this situation.

She managed to be ready before the scheduled time. She was surprised, actually. She went to the restaurant by taxi. When she got inside, everyone was already there. Sebastian and his boyfriend had just sat when she made her entrance. Her little brother jumped right into her arms, happy to see her. Richard, his boyfriend, did the same. Patrick, her sister’s boyfriend, looked away. His father gave her a little smile while keeping a certain distance, but her mother didn’t stop her conversation with Victoria. With them, nobody should be offended at their lack of tact. They had always been like that. Clara returned the smile to her father before moving to where there was still a place. She really didn’t interfere with conversation during the meal, simply listen. Except when she was attacked.

“But no!” the young woman replied, shaking her head. “I’m just tired, that’s all. I’m fine.”

“Of course you do since you don’t have to trouble yourself with anybody else,” her mother replied. “No man in your life to forbid you to do stupid things.”

The young woman sighed, looking at her mother. Thank you for reminding it to me so kindly, mum. She tried to smile.

“It’s nobody’s business. Okay?”

“It’s not a way to live your life,” her mother replied, filing her glass on the table. “You’re getting old!”

“Mom!” Victoria cried. “Leave her alone.”

Clara raised her eyebrows, surprise by what her sister just said.

“It’s her business if she prefers to have sex with every man she met.”

The young woman looked at her sister, furious, but she chose not to say anything. Her words might exceed the rules of family diplomacy. Despite the nap she had made during the day, she was already tired. She moistened her lips with a sigh. Amazing how a simple meal with her family could swallow all her energy!

“Is my trial over now?” she blurted in a bored tone. “I thought my presence was desired tonight.”

“Yes”, her father replied, “of course.”

“Well is it possible to get to the point, please? I didn’t want to spend the rest of my Saturday night to be judge.”

Her mother looked at her.

“We don’t judge you, honey.”

“You choose to live a libertine life,” her sister added. “That’s it.”

“Enough of this,” Clara cut by putting her napkin on the table.

Sebastian gave a chuckle and hid his face behind his napkin while exchanging glances with Richard. You’re lucky that nobody looks at your case! And they think I’m libertine…! She could see her brother’s shoulders shaking with laughter as he tried very hard to calm down. Richard whispered something to his ear which calmed him a bit. Her father got up, cleared his throat to attract everyone’s attention.

“Well,” he began, “as we are all there, we’ll get down to business, if you wish.”

Clara cast a fugitive glance over Victoria who smiled like she was in toothpaste commercial. Patrick, the asshole who was supposed to be her boyfriend, also cleared his throat to attract attention on himself. He thanked them for being there and then continued with a speech that seemed to last forever. The young woman listened with a distract ear, finding futile for him to take such a great paths to finally spill the beans. He had asked Victoria’s hand to her father and his request was accepted. Clara raised her eyebrows. She will really marry this fool? She wondered if her sister had agreed out of pity. She suppressed a smile.

“It’s fantastic!” her mother exclaimed, shaking the hand of her daughter. “Congratulations to both!”

As if you didn’t already know, mom.

“Wow”, Sebastian just said. “What news.”

“And will this great event will be?” their mother asked. “There are so many things to think about before the bid day.”

Victoria’s smile widens even more.

“This is where you play a major role”, she replied.

She put her other hand on her mother’s and turned to her.

“We want a great wedding, but the date is set for August 10.”

Clara’s eyes widened. It was in two months! She wondered if her sister had just lost her mind. What’s the rush? This wasn’t worth the trouble to do everything so quickly unless Patrick might change his mind… Another question began to burn her lips, but she wouldn’t trigger a lengthy discussion with Victoria. But his brother attacked without delay, having never been afraid to provoke.

“You’re pregnant and the Patrick’s family refuses to host a little bastard among them. What a tragedy!”

A heavy silence enveloped them suddenly. All eyes turned to Sebastian who was smiling stupidly, very proud of him. Clara bit her lower lip so she will not break with laughter. She could see the expression of horror painted on her sister’s face while her lips trembled.

“But what are you talking about!?!” Victoria exclaimed, near tears. “Don’t say that!”

Her mother drew her to calm her down. Clara looked down at the ice cubes that were still in her glass of water without worrying about the other family members. She prayed that this dinner comes to an end very quickly. The hysterical drama from Victoria could be a great help. The reason why her father had insisted for her presence was absolutely ridiculous. She swallowed an ice cube before filing her glass on the table and get up.

“Excuse me”, she said, taking her bag, “but I leave you to your drama. Good evening to all.”

“We follow you”, Sebastian adds, rising too.

“Not now”, Victoria said, wiping her eyes with her napkin. “I wanted you to assign your roles for the day.”

Her brother leaned against the back of his chair, looking bored.

“Forgive me, dear sister, but we’re going to be on the beach sunbathing and surfing during this time. So we’ll both be absent for your wedding.”

You are so lucky. I’ll be all alone because I have nothing better to do that day. Great! Clara folded her arms across her chest with a sigh of despair. She couldn’t run away quietly! She waited a little more.

“Sebastian”, Victoria continued, “you will be Patrick’s best man.”

He shook his head.

“No way.”

“But…”

“You should consult us before deciding a date. We are on vacation and not about to cancel them.”

“Please…”

“And it’s not my fault if your boyfriend has no friends. Find someone else for this position. Why not Clara’s date? It’ll be great with her role as maid of honor, right?”

The young woman struck him with a well-deserved kick on the ankle.

“Oh no!” the future bride hastened. “I don’t want her to be my bridesmaid. You can leave, Clara.”

She frowned, surprised because of what she had just heard and by the eagerness of her sister to tell her. Her sister didn’t want her as her maid of honor? Should she be upset or angry? Her brother turned to her, stunned by the confession. He was obviously waiting for a response from her. She simply turned and went directly to pay her bill. She then rushed to leave the restaurant. She still didn’t know what to think about Victoria’s decision. She didn’t let her choose to accept or decline the offer. It was simply out of the question for her to participate one way or another to this day. Her whole family, except her, will have a role to play that day. Even if Sebastian had just refused.

She still was reeling from the news when she was alone on the sidewalk. Indirectly, she didn’t think it was fair. Sebastian didn’t care to participate or not. Her father would walk Victoria to the altar – and probably pay for the entire wedding – and her brother had just been named best man. Her mother was planning the whole day. But her? A simple extra, unimportant.

She began to walk faster. More questions stick around her mind. Her brother came out a few minutes later and he called her once on the sidewalk. She loved her little brother and Richard. They loved her too. She turned to him to know what he wanted. They both arrived in front of her, out of breath.

“You should go to the gym” she laughed.

Richard buried his hands in his pockets.

“I’ve been trying to convince him for weeks!” he said. “Thank you for sharing my opinion!”

“Oh! Okay. Great!”

Clara smiled to see the stubborn look of her little brother.

“What did you want?”

“I hope you’re not worry too much for this wedding thing. Our vacations are not lie, in fact. It’s been weeks since we plan to leave.”

“And it’s not an obligation for you to be there,” Richard added.

She shook her head, replying that she didn’t intend. She wished them a nice evening and a good night before she goes on. Back to her small neighborhood, she decided to stop by the supermarket near her apartment before returning. She was completely exhausted, but happy to be home with her good friend: bottle of red wine.

Finding her corkscrew in a drawer, she sat in front of the television to open the bottle. She began to watch a movie to relax quietly. She fell on a film she had seen several times already. The story of a poor single girl who was clumsily trying to change her life. She poured herself a glass and watched the movie. She really rather preferred to stay home than spend the evening with her family. She finished her first drink and poured herself another one immediately. The taste was simply sublime and comforting.

She forgot the many disappointments met with her wonderful family, focusing on the screen. It didn’t worth the trouble to think about it.


The sleep vapors refused to leave her when she desperately tried to wake up. She rubbed her eyes, groaning. Her head would explode again. Finally opening her eyes, she found the bottle of wine completely empty on the coffee table next to her empty glass. She moaned a little more, putting her face into the sofa’s cushion. She was still wondering what might have woke her up when, in the fog of alcohol, she heard distant blows struck against the door. She growled, sitting up. Who could come to her place on Sunday morning? The strokes were much more insistent and were followed by loud voices.

She could recognize her mother and her sister. But why were they there so early? Sighing, she resigned herself to open the door.

“Why was it so long before you open?” her mother asked while handing her a coffee.

“You can see she has a hangover,” Victoria said.

“Because normal people sleep on Sunday” Clara replied.

“Since when are you normal?” her sister laughed.

The young woman bit her lower lip to stop her from replying something mean. She wasn’t in the mood to fight with her sister. She took the coffee before closing the door. She went to the bathroom to get something against her headache, trying to ignore the shrill voices of her mother and her sister. Shut up, please! What have I done to deserve this? She swallowed the pill with the help of her coffee and then returned to the living room. She collapsed on the couch and rubbed her temples, praying they finally silenced themselves. She ventured a question.

“Tell me what you are doing in here, please.”

Victoria turned to her, offended. She crossed her arms furiously on her chest without taking her eyes off her sister.

“Don’t tell me you forgot?” she asked with an outraged voice.

The young woman looked up at her sister, waiting to see what she could have forgotten to cause so much drama.

“Were you sleeping when we arrived?” her mother asked.

“What do you think?”

“This is the beginning of the afternoon, Clara.”

She opened her mouth, surprised that she had slept much longer than expected. She couldn’t believe it. But obviously, this wasn’t a time issue.

“How could you forget something so important for you sister?”

“But what do you talking about?”

“She’s still drunk, mom.”

The young woman turned to her older sister. She was now in a very bad mood. She refrained as much as she could not to jump at her throat to shred it with her teeth. Her mother came and sat beside her on the sofa, putting her hand on hers.

“Do you have a drinking problem, darling?”

Clara was speechless.

“You know you can tell me everything.”

“No!” Clara replied, withdrawing hastily her hand. “I have no problem!”

She was on defensive mode. She never drank alone. Not even a full bottle by herself! It was the first time she had done it since she obtained her college degree. The only real problem she had at this time was the presence of her mother and sister in her apartment on a Sunday afternoon. She wanted to be all alone, real quickly. Victoria passed another comment on her lifestyle, bringing the young woman out of her mind.

“Can you shut your mouth for five minutes?”

“Clara!” her mother exclaimed, standing up. “Calm down, please.”

“I’ll clam down when she’ll stop bugging me. My life doesn’t concern you! Mind your own business.”

“Sure,” Victoria muttered. “Nobody wants to live like you.”

“According to you, I’m an alcoholic bitch. Have you looked yourself in a mirror lately? I prefer my life to yours with a broom stuck in the…”

“Girls! Enough!”

Clara put down her coffee on the kitchen counter with a sigh. Victoria suddenly crossed her arms over her chest, taking a pinch mine. Shaking her head, their mother said that perhaps they had discussed about it after she left, something that Victoria hastened to deny.

“It doesn’t matter”, their mother said, “because we’re here and we’ll go shopping. We must find the dress for your sister. So jump in the shower and get ready.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“But I need you to find MY dress!” Victoria replied with a whining tone. “You must come with us! I really need you for this!”

“Whatever!” Clara dropped. “You say that only because Sebastian refuses to do so.”

“N-No… Not at all…!”

You’re such a liar! Tell the truth for once! Reluctantly, she went to the bathroom to get ready. She did it without enthusiasm because she knew she couldn’t win against her mother. Normally, she could rather shop alone rather than doing it with two women who stopped at every shop in case there would be something interesting. She still had to resign herself to accompany them to be left alone.

In the shower, she was fully awakened. The motivation wasn’t there when she got dressed.

“Hurry up!” her sister cried. “We don’t have all day!”

The young woman sighed, dreading what awaited her in the following hours. Her mother decided to drive up to the bridal shop. Clara didn’t really agree to that. She felt trapped. There was still the subway that was nearby, but her mother refused that she joined them later. There’s no trust… Clara wasn’t going to be able to leave when she would have enough. Again, she lost the battle. Sitting quietly in the back seat, she was drinking her coffee while her mother and sister chatted about nothing and everything without worrying about nothing else. The trip went much too slowly for her. They finally arrived in the parking lot of the store. I just arrived in hell… A little soft music surrounded them when they opened the doors. Some girls were hysterical in a corner of the shop, crying and laughing all at once. One of them had just emerged from the dressing room wearing a white dress with a very cheesy taste. Clara suppressed a giggle. It wasn’t the moment to draw attention. When she was behind enemy lines.

Victoria went to a shop assistant and began to explain to her what she wanted. Her mother approved every description with a nod. Clara finished her coffee and looked for a trash can to throw her cup while her sister commented each dress the saleswoman suggested to her.

“Mom!” the future bride whimpered. “It’s not working!”

Clara sank down on the huge sofa near the cabins, praying that the research end very soon. Everywhere she could hear shouts of joy and tears. But can someone explain to me what am I doing here? Now she feared the rest of her Sunday afternoon. With her sister, it might be even longer than expected! Her mother dealt her a nudge to get her attention to the cabin since Victoria just got out of one of them. Ten against one she’ll find a lot of bad stuff for that dress. And she was right. Victoria began to enumerate with a whining tone all the things she didn’t like, from the texture of the fabric to the model itself.

“In addition, the cut gives me a fat ass… It’s not working at all!”

Clara suppressed a smile, agreeing with her sister on that one. Moreover, the cut was too horrible. It didn’t fit her at all. The second had no more success. It seemed to come straight out and American soap opera! There were so many ruffles and sequins… Even the puffy sleeves were incredible horror. Victoria was in tears and on the verge of hysterical crisis. Her mother wanted her to calm down by taking deep breaths. It wasn’t worth making a scene for a simple dress, but Victoria didn’t see it that way.

“My dress should be perfect, you know?”

“It’s possible that you don’t find it today…”

“No!”

She began to shake her fists, startling the frilly dress. She moaned like a spoiled child, stamping her foot. Clara sighed, rubbing her eyes.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t find it now,” she told her sister. “There isn’t one shop in town that sells dresses. Yours is perhaps in another store.”

“But it I can’t find it today, I’ll never find it!”

“No need to dramatize,” Clara muttered.

“Stop laughing! You really don’t risk getting married one day!”

Clara got up, feeling the anger rising in her like a heat wave. She didn’t offer a spectacle to all clients and be the mean jealous girl yelling at a future bride in public. She tried to control the words that were eager to get out of her mouth!

“Let me point out that it is YOU who insisted that I come. I can leave, if you prefer. I have no problem to find something else to do!”

She stepped toward the door when Victoria begged her to stay.

“Please… I need your help…”

The young woman sat down again without saying anything. Sort of a small personal victory. Her sister continued to whine for a moment, visibly discouraged by her unsuccessful searches. After having tried five other dresses, she still hadn’t found one that was perfect for her. Clara contained somehow her growing exasperation. But this is a dress that you’ll wear once in your life! Not worth making a fuss for a single day! She was fed up of hearing her sister’s whining. She jumped up and walked towards the rows of arches aligned along the wall, the saleswoman following her. The lady tried to give her some advice that the young woman didn’t even bother to listen. From a quick glance, she eliminated more than half of what was in front of her. She looked more closely at the other half. She fell on a dress with banal cut, but didn’t look like the others.

She returned to her mother and sister who were still whining.

“Try this one,” she said, handing her the dress she had found. “I’m sure it’ll suit you.”

Victoria frowned, grimacing. She shook her head, pushing the dress away.

“I don’t think so.”

“And why?”

“It’s too… common…”

“Stop being picky and get back to the cabin!”

She pinned the dress on her sister’s chest by pushing her back into the dressing room. Her sister strongly protested, repeating that she didn’t want a common dress for her wedding. But Clara wasn’t listening. She could hear her mother opposing herself too. When Victoria was back in the cabin, Clara turned to her mother, explaining her point of view.

“She thought some models very gorgeous before trying them.”

“Yes. So what?”

“What would happen if she tried a common dress? I believed they are worth a second glance.”

“But maybe it will not work either.”

“It worth the risk.”

Her mother looked sorry, looking at the door where her daughter was changing.

“I don’t think she could handle another failure.”

“She’s not the first person who can’t find her dress on the first day. She’ll recover, don’t worry. And I thought you had waked me up because you need my help.”

“No, it’s not a good idea…” her mother muttered, shaking her head.

At this moment, Victoria screamed and stormed out of the cabin, cheeks wet with tears.

“I found it! It’s MY dress! I want this dress for my wedding!”

Surprised, Clara and her mother turned to her. Victoria hopped up on shaking her mother’s hands. Clara sighed in relief. Mission accomplished! Their mother didn’t understand what was happening.

“Found? Are you sure?”

“With Clara’s help, I finally found my dress!”

“Oh!”

And they both began to weep for joy in the sight of a terrified Clara who hastened to get away from them. She was rather ashamed of their behavior. It was only a dress, after all. It wasn’t worth the trouble to get so excited. After they dried their tears and all measures taken for a few corrections, they went to the cashier. Leaning against the counter, the young woman was planning an excuse not to stay any longer. She didn’t want to spend her last hours of freedom with her mother and her older sister. She was thinking about it when her cell phone rang. Saved by the bell! She looked at the screen. It was Mary. She unhooked.

“Yes?”

“Edward and I are having a coffee on the Malcolm’s terrace. Will you join us?”

The young woman bit her lip so as not to smile like an idiot. She had finally found THE reason which would allow her to escape. She cast a glance at her mother who pleads with the seller about the corrections. They will not miss me.

“Yes”, she answered, “I think I can make it. When?”

“Let’s say in twenty minutes. See you soon!”

“Yes. I’ll see you later.”

She pressed the button before turning to her mother.

“I have a small emergency. I’ve got to go.”

“You have a lover waiting?” Victoria laughed.

The young woman forced herself to smile as she was eager to hit her violently.

“Mary isn’t going very well and she wants to talk about it with me.”

“Oh,” her mother simply said. “You can go.”

Clara frowned, staring at her mother. She replied she hadn’t asked for her permission to leave. I can do what I want when I want, mom. She turned as quickly as possible, hoping not to hear another stupid comment from Victoria. Her insinuations went so well on her nerves! Moreover, they were untrue. Once on the sidewalk, she began to walk a little faster. She crossed the street at a crosswalk and met Edward. He put his arm around her shoulders.

“You were in the neighbor?”

“Yes, not very far. Where have you been?”

“I went to see my poor mother.”

“How is she?”

He shrugged, looking straight ahead. He didn’t talk about his mother and she knew it. From what she knew, she was very ill. Her friend was still a little depressed after each visit.

“She has good days and bad days, you know.”

“And today?”

“Not very good. Can you tell me what you did: you looked exhausted!”

She forced herself to smile. He was a pro when it comes to change subject! Respecting his choice, she nodded and said:

“It’s very nice of you.”

“You really looked exhausted. What did you do? And can you tell me what happened on Friday night?”

“I got a surprise last night and I’ll tell you everything when we get in front a good coffee.”

She wouldn’t talk about Friday night or Saturday morning either.

“I even can’t get a scoop?”

She shook her head.

“Please…! I will not tell anyone!”

“Be patient, Eddie.”

He grimaced and continued to walk. Once near the café, they came upon Mary, who was still talking on the phone. She speeded up them without ending her conversation. Edward leaned over to Clara’s ear.

“She met a guy”, he murmured to her.

“Did you saw him?”

He shook his head as she opened the café’s door. Mary eventually hung up, smiling.

“It’s great that you came!” she shouted, pressing Clara in her arms. “I was afraid you wouldn’t want to come since we haven’t heard from you since Friday. Good! Take a coffee and let’s talk between adults!”

Edward let them both entered before him. Clara and Mary let to the terrace where they settled there after ordering something. Clara took whipped cream with her right index while her friend told them about their latest conquest. She didn’t give specific details about their night together – as she always did – but the limit wasn’t very far either. With just a little imagination, it was very easy to know exactly what they did.

“It’s so cool!” she said, blowing on her cup.

“Be careful,” Edward began, “Cupid may have decided to hit you without giving you warnings.”

Mary glared.

“Don’t think about it, though!”

He hastened to reply that he was telling the truth. But he didn’t give him the time to add a word. He told her that Clara had perhaps some revelations to make about last Friday. Mary turned her head towards her friend.

“The blond guy? Did something happen with him?”

She seemed very excited. Clara didn’t speak. She remembered how fast he left her apartment. Her good mood flew slightly. She wouldn’t talk about it. She wanted to forget her entire Friday night. She practically did it by herself.

“Victoria will marry Patrick.”

Her friends didn’t expect this story like she could tell by the look on their faces. She leaned over the table to begin her story, wanted to get their attention on something else. She gave them most details. She spoke of her mother’s silly remarks throughout the meal, the almost normal silence of her father and the boredom of her brother. Then she told them that Patrick had asked permission from her father to marry Victoria.

“Damn…” Edward groaned. “Is she really going to marry this fool?”

“There still was a little drama after the announcement”, Clara said. “I had thought about the option, but I didn’t dare to ask the question directly.”

Her friends were hanging on her words.

“Because they’re getting married in two months, my brother asked her if she was pregnant.”

They burst out laughing.

“He even asked if it was because Patrick’s family didn’t want a bastard with them.”

“Oh!” Mary dropped, laughing. “Your sister should be furious!”

“Rather hysteric.”

“So they didn’t want to answer?”

“I still wonder why she wants to marry this guy,” said Edward, taking a sip of his coffee. “Is he retarded or something? He always seems to be mentally retarded.”

“Doesn’t matter”, Clara said. “This is Victoria’s choice.”

She took a spoon to melt the whipped cream into her mocha coffee, telling them that her mother was planning the whole wedding and her father would probably pay the bill at the end. Then she told them the wonderful torture session she suffered shopping for the future bride’s dress. She told them that Sebastian had refused to be best man. Mary asked her what role she would play that day. Clara shrugged without looking away from her coffee. Her friends were stunned to learn her exclusion. Clara didn’t want to linger any longer on this subject either. She knew she wasn’t the family’s favorite. The feeling of having no space inside her family was stronger since yesterday. She even wondered why her parents had three children.

“She still ordered to help her find her dress.”

Mary’s eyes widened before shaking her head.

“It’s your consolation prize?”

Clara raised her cup to her lips with a shrug.

“I never said I was going either.”

“Of course you’ll go!” Mary launched. “And you know why?”

“Why?”

“Because you have a big heard,” Edward said, “and they will use it to make you change your mind if you tell them you don’t want to go.”

The young woman raised her eyebrows, realizing they were right on this one. Her family – especially her mother – excelled in emotional blackmail. It was therefore quite possible that it goes that way. She should have thought earlier to prepare herself. She quickly took a mental note to stay on guard the next time a family member contacted her.

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