I take a deep breath picking up imaginary lint from my five hundred dollar cocktail dress and look around the Brown Manor.
I've lost count the number of times I thought that this isn't a great idea. I really don't know the first thing to do in a fancy high-class party where everyone seems to talk about everything. And coming here alone is now turning into a really bad idea. I still remember this place from when I used to spend my vacations here. The Brown Manor was like a real castle in upstate of London and it was just as old. The sprawling lawn which could be used for horse races is where the party crowd was. Under the stars. William Brown and his newly wedded wife Elissa chose to get married at urban church not far from here and now were dancing under the diamond sky oblivious to everyone.
I don't know William very well but I know his brothers. His elder brother Jason is kind of guy who is currently flirting with the maid of honor. Not surprising maybe, he doesn't even remember me. And the younger brother James...... well let's not go there shall we.
I move forward into the party hoping maybe I find someone I know but not too much. I really have no idea what I am doing here, all I know is that I got a call from my grandfather telling me that if I don't attend William and Elissa's wedding I would be disowned as an Avery. I knew it wasn't just a threat coming from his mouth he totally meant what he said. And when I called mom, she repeated those damned words just like every time "Just do what grandpa says, bye."
Well, welcome to the story of my life.
I spot the brown hair with a hint of white just as heard, "Violet, oh my sweetheart." I don't really remember him but I know who that is. Mr. Elliot Brown or the Elliot brown of Berkeley square, owner of everything I can see right now. He came to me and smiled the most genuine smile I can ask for and said, "Oh sweetie you've been so big" followed by big bear hug.
Ok correction I can never forget this man and his hugs. I sighed and out of habit said, "You're right Santa." Now that it's too late to take it back I remember that I am not six anymore. I straightened from his hug and said, "I am so sorry Mr. Brown I shouldn't have called you that."
He only smiled brighter and said, "I am glad you remember that but you're right you can't call me that. Call me Elliot, will you?"
He clasped both of my shoulders in his hands and looked down at me proudly. "Oh god, you were so tiny when I last saw you. I think I would still have your little shoes in my closet."
"I... I thought I had taken all of them with me" I said slightly embarrassed.
"Oh no you always lost your shoes in weird places. I think I got that one while lawn maintenance years after you were... gone."
He looks like he is sorry for me because we both know I wasn't just simply gone. "Well it's nice to see you, Elliot." I sputter not knowing what to say.
He looks slightly offended, "hey... Don't you 'it's nice to see you' me lady. We are going to see each other a lot." He winks at me and leaves to see some other guest.
Well some people grow against the age, I guess Elliot Brown is one of them. He has brown hair and green eyes like all his children and definitely doesn't look a day above thirty considering he is 47 fighting a level 2 stress disorder and also runs the biggest whiskey empire in London. He is warm hearted and sweet or in other words he is nothing like my grandfather.
Ok so now Elliot knows I am here well it means I have attended the wedding, maybe now I can leave unnoticed and not face the 'consequences'. I turn around debating if it's wrong to leave, after all Browns were really great to me when I was little but now, I am not and things have changed. Other than that, except Mr. and Mrs. Brown they don't even remember me. I walk towards exit determined to leave before I see the one person I remember so well.
I don't even get close to the door when I feel someone's hand brush against my arm. My skin is quickly pricked with attention and I stop short when he says, "Violet."
His voice is very quiet, just a whisper. I would think I just imagined it if I didn't know better. And I also know who that is before I even turn around.
I keep standing there like a buffoon for a long minute stalling, but eventually I have to turn around and face him. Taking a breath and asking for strength from the lords in heaven I turn around.
Good lord. I haven't seen him for like 17 years but still I know it's him. "James." I say after I gawk at him like an idiot. I have to say he's ... hot like really hot.
Last I saw him he was nine with small scrawny legs and plush cheeks. His hands size of a tennis ball and hair disheveled. Well look at him now with a face and body that belongs in magazine covers. He is taller than me not an inch or two but really tall like almost a foot and half over me without heels.
He looked at me with his mesmerizing green eyes and smiled appreciatively. It was that smile from when we were little like he just got his favorite candy and I couldn't help but smile at that too. "I thought you would like to say hi." He said in a deep husky voice which was just as sexy.
"Yeah...hi?" that was stupid I just put it out there like a question. Let's just say it's the drinks I didn't had this evening.
"Were you just leaving?" he asks with a frown on his face pointing towards the giant gates.
"Um-no.... of course, I wasn't leaving." I blurt out. Ok it's not alcohol, it's this man. Positive. "I don't know what I was thinking. It's just weird... this all-" I say motioning around everything with my hands.
He smiles at me affectionately, "hey...just come with me okay?" With that he takes my hand in his and leads me towards the party. And now I really don't know what I was thinking, even if he hadn't remembered me it's still him and me, I shouldn't go out of my way just to ignore him. He was my best friend. Now, it feels like I was being stupid and it's all great.
He takes me to the far end of the crowd which is mostly empty and then again turns to look over me, "I can't believe it's really you" and then hugs me tightly as if to make sure I am real. It shouldn't be weird at all because I basically grew up with this guy but somehow, I feel like burying my face in his neck. Stop that thought it's only James I try to tell myself. He releases me from his tight hold and bends down to kiss me on the cheek "I missed you and Jesus you're so lovely."
"I missed you too" which is an understatement I missed him like crazy is more like it "and you are so very pretty-I mean handsome yourself." And before I know what I am doing I reach over to touch his hair. His eyes widen and I immediately jerk back and apologize "sorry that-I don't even-"
"Shhh... you want something to drink?" he shuts me up with his suggestion.
"Yeah sure" I exhale when he again takes my hand and leads me towards the outdoor bar. He orders a gin tonic for himself and turns to me. When I order Brown urban wing, he looks at me with amusing eyes, I shrug.
"Hey I didn't take you for a whiskey girl." He said when bartender comes up with our drinks.
"Well, I guess Browns affect me more than they should." I say taking a sip of my drink under his watchful gaze.
He chuckled, "you don't really look that affected, and you were going to leave." He said the last part as if it was an accusation.
"That was..." I don't know, so I go with it "- I don't know. I was just a little nervous. I haven't been here for a very long time. People don't really know me here."
"Some do and that's enough." He said it with a confidence that made green of his eyes brighter. I kept looking into those eyes and he didn't avert his gaze. It was like we still had the same connection from years ago. But that's not possible. I looked down to my drink.
We finished our drink in silence. When bartender asked for refill, James shook his head and took my hand. "Would you like to dance?" he asked with a small smile.
I agreed and he led me towards the dance floor with a hand on small of my back. Once there he extended his arm and placed my hands on his shoulders. His hands came to my waist and we started moving with the music.
It isn't the first time we are dancing like this. When we were little, we used to dance a lot courtesy of Mrs. Brown, a ballerina in her days, who loved to teach us. But when we couldn't even stand on our toes, she gave up. Although we learned a little about music and used to just swing together with it.
And there it is, the connection, growing even more as we keep dancing. But it is not the way it was when we were kids, now it's different. Like a... attraction? Well that's the word you use when you want to press your entire body against someone and feel them.
And I do want to. I keep myself from nuzzling my face in his tux covered chest.
"So, what are you up to?" he breaks my trail of thoughts.
"I- I what? ... Nothing." I sputter caught guilty.
"I mean what are you doing these days?" he asks reinstating the question.
Oh "I finished my degree in interior designing this year. About to start an internship in san Francisco." I tell him.
His hold tightens on my waist, "I thought you were coming back to London."
"Well not possible." I give a little smile "San Francisco is great and internship is perfect." Not as good as the one here whose application is still in my luggage, but I don't tell him that. "Besides mom is still in states." I shrug. Not that I am staying there because of her.
"I see." He said with zero enthusiasm.
When he doesn't say anything else, I ask him, "What about you?" to fill the awkward silence.
"I umm..." he coughs as if he was in deep thought "Well, I am an official whiskey maker now." He smiles emphasizing official and that pulls a smile on my face too. When we were kids, he used to make drink with different juices calling it whiskey like his father. It was their game.
"Do you really make it yourself; I can't see Elliot letting you do that." I say looking at him.
"No, he doesn't." he is nearly grumbling but shrugs "But he lets me manage everything else."
"That's good. I always knew you'd be involved with Brown whiskey." I tell him with a smile "Making it or drinking it"
He narrows his eyes at me, "I would take that as a compliment."
"It is." I tell him and then it's just us dancing and looking at each other like nothing else matters. I see William and Elissa leave the dance floor looking so in love and that's when the thought occurs to me. "Is there someone you should be dancing with?" He narrows his eyes again like he doesn't understand what I am asking. "I mean is there a girlfriend who might be glaring daggers at me?" I make a show of looking around really dreading his answer.
"No" he looks like he is offended "there is no one" and gives me a twirl.
We keep dancing for least five songs just catching up. There was something sensual in dancing with him, even the simple innocent touches felt more. Just looking at him makes me want to kiss him but dancing with him feels more intimate.
But when songs change from slow to fast pop songs we let go. Just as I think of thanking him for dance, he asks me if I would like to come inside. I debate saying no because for one, it's his brother's wedding he must have plans other than baby-sitting me and two, I am not really looking at him as I would a baby sitter. So, I surprise myself by saying, "yeah I would love to." Not the only thing I would love to.
We go into the manor together. And it is equally beautiful and grand as it is from outside. But where manor looks like a castle from the outside it looks like a modern luxurious hotel from the inside. One can spend ages taking in the details of it. As a child it always thrilled me but now even more. I just want to take out my sketch pad and draw every furnishing and fittings of this place.
My thoughts of Brown Manor disintegrate in a second when James' hand touches mine.
"Here" he says leading me towards balcony on first floor with a hand on my back. There is no one on the balcony as the party is basically downstairs. Balcony is also a piece of work with carved knitted railings and hanging lights, bigger than my dorm room back in DC. "Just wait a second" he says again pulling me out of my thoughts of manor and walks out the door we came in.
In my time alone I try to gather my thoughts. I don't know what's happening. So, James really do remember me which he shouldn't because he didn't a few years ago. I don't know if he took a recap session. But then again why would he? He didn't even know if I would come here today or ever for that matter.
And then there is this other thing, major thing, that I want James. Like in a way I never wanted anyone. And we have just met...after a long time. But the problem is when we were kids' things didn't matter but now, they do. He probably thinks of me like a kid sister he used to play with.
I turn around and lean against the handrail when I hear his heavy footsteps. His handsome face comes into view and in his hands, there are two tumblers and a bottle of whiskey. With the smile on his face I can conclude it has something to do with that bottle.
"Now what is that?" I ask him giving him an excited look.
"The very first urban wing we made." He said with a proud smile and handed me the tumblers. He poured two fingers in each one and placed the bottle on the nearby table.
He came to stand in front of me and took one tumbler from me. "Didn't Elliot keep all the first in his personal stash?" I ask him. Elliot was really proud of his collection and always flaunted about it.
"He does. But this one is mine so don't worry." He said with a mischievous smirk.
And it was that smirk what did it for me. I took a step towards him forgetting all thoughts of vintage whiskey. My hold on the tumbler was very tight when I stood up on my toes to reach his face. I closed my eyes but I know he had bent down, and so our lips met.
His lips were soft against mine as we kept kissing. Without leaving my mouth he took my whiskey glass from my hand and pushed me towards the handrail with his body. Instinctively I wrapped my now free hands around his neck when my back hit the handrail.
"Violet" He said my name in a quiet whisper between the kisses and wrapped his arms around my waist just as I heard two clanks of glass shattering and someone's 'what the hell' from below. He picked me up and my shoes fell to the ground just as my hands went to his hair feeling the soft strands. The soft murmur of crowd below faded and there was nothing besides our soft moans.
When my back hit the cold wall, I realized that we had moved. His hands also moved from my waist to my thighs, picking me up again. I wrapped my legs around his waist as kissed me senseless. All thoughts of him thinking of me as a sister were now foolish as he pressed himself against me pinning me to the wall. His mouth left mine and I moaned his name in loss.
"James" I gasped as his lips came to my neck kissing his way through my collarbone and back to my jaw.
"Please don't tell me to stop" he said kissing hollow of my throat and tightened his grip on my thighs.
"Don't stop" I tell him and feel him smile against my throat. He complies and continues showering kissing on my neck.
I moan tightening my grip on his hair pulling his face to mine. He once again takes my mouth in a deep kiss.
"I can't wait to make you mine." He said kissing corner of my lips, his voice breathless from the kiss.
But his words don't make sense in my fuzzy brain so I ask him, "what?"
"Nothing" he tells me very quickly and again takes my lips. But as my brain starts working again, my hands leave his hair and stop him with a hand on his chest.
"What do you mean by that?" I ask him more firmly pushing him away but he doesn't relent. He kissed me again and said against my lips almost a whisper.
"We are getting married"