“Can I open my eyes now?” Samantha asked impatiently as Amelia and Andrea giggled and continued to talk in muffled voices.
“Hold on,” Amelia called.
“Please Amelia, it’s been three hours and you haven’t shown my dress yet,” Samantha whined. They did her makeup and painted her nails bright red with golden nail art, which had her assume that her gown would be red.
“All right, all set. Open your eyes now,” Andrea chimed and Samantha obeyed.
A soft gasp left her mouth as they revealed the dress to her. A traditional Indian lehenga sat on the bed. The red and gold embroidery design took her breath away.
“That’s-that’s beautiful,” Samantha commented.
“I know right!” Amelia beamed. “You are the bride and it’s your engagement party. We wanted you to look different and unique.”
“Thank you, guys. This is so lovely,” Samantha beamed.
“Yeah, we had very little time to prepare everything,” Amelia added.
“What are you guys wearing?” Samantha asked, still mesmerized by the beauty of the dress.
“Oh, just the usual,” Andrea chirped.
“Are you ready yet?” Narmadha’s enthusiastic sound distracted them a bit. “You all haven’t dressed yet? Go on, get ready. I will take it from here,” she commanded as she placed the tray she was carrying on the bed.
“See you soon, Sammy.” Both the girls chimed in unison as they exited the room, leaving her and Narmadha alone.
“I wish grandma is here,” Samantha commented as she inspected the dress. The blouse made of golden color silk material with red sequined borders and the intricate vine-like embroidery was exquisite.
“And, I am here too.”
Samantha perked up at the sound of her beloved grandmother, who stood there, dressed in a simple white cotton saree and the pearl necklace she always wore. Though she was in her early eighties, the aura of authority couldn’t be missed. Vaishali Deshmukh was a strong woman.
“Grandma!” Samantha engulfed her grandmother as happy tears sprouted from her eyes.
“I missed you so much, sweetie.” Her grandmother sniffled as she embraced her granddaughter.
“I missed you too,” Samantha said, wiping her tears as she looked at the older version of her.
“Do you think I would miss this for anything else in the world?” Her grandmother chastised.
“How did you come? I didn’t know you will be here,” Samantha asked eyeing her mother.
“Gregory sent his private jet and we didn’t tell you as we wanted it to be a surprise for you,” Narmadha answered.
Her grandmother couldn’t attend Eric’s wedding as she was not well. Eric and Amelia went to India after their wedding to take her blessings. Samantha didn’t think she would make it and it came as a pleasant surprise.
“Don’t stand there. Get into that dress. We have less than an hour for the ball to start,” Narmadha ushered her and she obeyed immediately.
The Sinclair’s annual charity ball was usually held in a five-star hotel. This time her dad used their mansion for the ball, considering it has turned out to be an engagement party.
The west side of the mansion, which they used less, and the huge hall came handy for the ball. The dinner buffet and the after party was arranged in the garden area.
When Samantha came out of her bathroom, dressed in the heavy skirt full of embroidery and sequences, her mother had laid out the jewelry on the bed.
“Is that Grandma’s antique piece?!” Samantha exclaimed as she gathered the long skirt to walk towards the bed.
“Yes, it is dear. This belonged to my mother. Now, it is all yours. I have one for Sasha and Amelia too,” her grandmother grinned.
“Oh, thank you, grandma. You made my day so special.”
“Anything for you, dear. Now, go sit. Let your mother work her magic,” her grandma said with a warm smile.
“Okay,” she said, sitting on a chair beside her dressing table. Samantha stared at her reflection, which seemed to glow with joy. Andrea had applied a gold glitter eye shadow and Kohl, which made her brown eyes pop. Her full lips painted blood-red, matched her dress.
Narmadha worked on Samantha’s thick hair, her hands weaving it into an intricate braid. Her daughter looked like a Goddess in the dress she bought her. The red and gold complimented her tan skin well.
When they announced her engagement to Axel at the ball, their plans had changed. Narmadha wanted her daughter to look special and different from the crowd. Narmadha always knew the love Samantha had for Indian tradition. She was sure that she would love this dress.
“There you go,” Narmadha said as she placed the last piece of jewelry on Samantha’s braid.
“It’s too heavy mom,” Samantha whined as Narmadha loaded her up with the family jewelry embellished with ruby, diamond and other gems.
“It’s only for a couple of hours,” Narmadha chastised.
“I didn’t expect that the dress would be this heavy. But, it’s beautiful!” Samantha let out a dreamy sigh as she looked at herself in the mirror.
There was a knock on the door before Sasha poked her head through the door. “Mom, the photographer is here. Dad said that Axel and Samantha will have a photo shoot in his office before the ball,” she announced.
“Whoa! Sammy... You look so beautiful!” Sasha exclaimed when her eyes landed on Samantha. “Gosh... Axel is a goner,” she gushed.
“Thank you, Sasha. You look beautiful too,” Samantha complimented her younger sister who wore an ivory dress with a high neckline, her hair left open.
“Oh, my God! Look at you,” Andrea exclaimed as she entered the room wearing an ivory colored gown embellished with sequence, which gave it a glittery effect. The slit, which started just a few inches above her knees gave a view of her long toned legs. The low neckline offered a decent view of her cleavage.
“Thanks, Andy,” Samantha grinned as Andrea pressed her cheek against hers. “Where are the girls?”
“You know how it is. If it was not for the stylists we hired, we wouldn’t even make it to the ball until ten p.m.,” Andrea said with a roll of her eyes.
“Axel is here,” Ryan poked his head next. He let out a loud whistle at the sight of Samantha. “Sammy, you look amazing.”
Samantha blushed at his compliment and her heart fluttered thinking about Axel.
“Come, let’s take a selfie,” Sasha pulled her aside and the others soon joined.
Samantha gathered her heavy skirt in the front as she climbed the stairs to her father’s office. Gregory had arranged for a family photo shoot before the ball, which was again a surprise for her and she appreciated his thoughtfulness.
“Jonah, take a few family photos. Keep the couple photographs for the last as they don’t have to appear at the party for another hour,” Gregory’s voice could be heard through the door which was slightly ajar.
“Sure thing.” A man with a slight Irish accent replied.
Samantha took a deep breath as Amelia nudged her playfully. Andrea, Amelia, Gabriela, and Sylvia, all wore identical ivory gowns with a low neckline and a slit on their mid-thigh. Sasha and Marina wore the modest version with no slit and had a high neckline.
Andrea opened the door wide and the chatter went down immediately. Samantha raised her brown eyes to meet Axel’s blue ones and the world seemed to fade around them for a moment.
Axel forgot to breath when his eyes landed on Samantha. They ushered him and his family to Gregory’s office when he arrived at the mansion. He was casually observing the arrangements they were making for the photo-shoot when the door opened, revealing a Goddess standing there in all her glory.
He couldn’t avert his gaze and he didn’t even hear someone calling him. A flash broke his trance momentarily and he looked at Jonah, the photographer with a huge grin on his face.
“Perfect!” Jonah gushed as he looked at his masterpiece. “Now, first we will take the family photographs. Mr. Finlayson, please come here,” he ushered and Axel walked with robotic steps to the chair with his parents, his eyes never leaving Samantha’s.
Axel obeyed and the dark blush on Samantha’s face told him he was affecting her same way too. He wondered how painful it would be for the rest of the night with her, looking so delectable.
Soon, the family photos were taken and it was time for their couple photos. Jonah didn’t have to say anything as the couple locked their eyes again. He barely had to place them this way and that way. The shy smile on Samantha’s face and the proud grin on Axel’s face were all too perfect.
Axel felt like he was the luckiest man alive when he rested his forehead against her cheek as Jonah made her sit on his lap. Axel carefully held her hand as Jonah clicked away.
“Perfect!” Jonah shouted as they held their hands, eyes locked with a smile. “Congratulations, Mr. Finlayson and Ms. Sinclair. The photoshoot is done for the day,” with that he left the couple alone in the office.
“You look breathtakingly beautiful. This moment will forever be the best moment in my life,” Axel whispered.
Samantha could only blush at his compliment. At that moment, there was only her and Axel. Her heart, felt like it will explode with overflowing joy. Axel looked so handsome in a black suit and she suppressed her urge to run her hand along the slight stubble on his cheek.
“I got you something,” he continued in a husky tone laced with so much want that she felt her body heating up.
He revealed a red velvet box from his coat pocket. “I saw this yesterday and couldn’t help but think of you.”
The simple gold ring had a golden flower in the middle with small vines around them.
“This will look so good on your hand,” he continued as he put it on her right-hand ring finger before placing a soft kiss. “I want to kiss you so badly. But, it will have to wait until this party is over,” he uttered with a pained expression, making her chuckle softly.
“All right, lovebirds. It’s time,” Eric’s loud voice announced from the outside.
“Are you ready?” Axel asked, taking her hand.
“Always,” she whispered as they made their way out.