The Planned, Unplanned Wedding

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2. Three Million Pounds.

Chapter Two.

The next morning, I go to the studio before the 9am opening time as I usually do. I collect the mail from the floor as I walk through the door, no doubt about my loan repayments, and take them up to my desk upstairs.

Hannah arrives half an hour later and we enjoy a cup of tea together before opening time.

“What time is my first appointment at?” I ask Hannah.

“You’ve got an appointment with new clients this morning. Miss and Mr James, at 9:30am.”

“Ok, thank you. Did they state their budget or what package they’d be opting for at all when you booked them in?”

“They’ve chosen the silver package but suggested they may upgrade to the gold one if they can justify the price comparison between the two. They’d like to know more details about the gold and what services you offer with it. I offered to tell them at the time, but Miss James insisted on talking to you personally about it.”

“I guess I best use my professional charm to encourage them for the latter then.”

Our conversation is interrupted by an overly handsome man, dressed in an expensive-looking, pristine suit, as he walks into the room. His strong cologne filling my nostrils and no doubt the entire room.

“Excuse me sir, but-” Hannah slows her words as if realising something, “this room is staff access only. If you could wait downstairs, Layla will be with you shortly,” she continues, getting to her feet to usher him back downstairs.

“It’s fine. We can speak here,” he insists.

His persistent attitude makes me take a double take on him when I glance back up from my desk.

What the hell? Elliot Sawyer? What is he doing here?

Elliot Sawyer is a well-known, or famous some may call it, young and incredibly handsome entrepreneur, who lives here in London. Rumour has it that he went from rags to riches in a matter of years. How true that actually is, I don’t know. We all know how the media are. They’ll write anything to get peoples attention, whether its true or not.

What I do know is that he has a popular hotel chain across the country, along with his real estate business, ‘Sawyers Properties’. The type of properties he sells and rents are only affordable to those who are classed as millionaires though. I couldn’t help but have a quick gander on the housing market while I was searching for my own apartment to rent. I purposely refined the search from high to low just to fantasize about living in one of the most expensive properties. Probably the worst thing I could have done as it was depressing comparing it the apartment I later called up about that day. He had many properties listed on there, all with price tags over five hundred million, and that was just within this area of London.

Even though my services are popular and well-known here in London, with his net worth and money, he could have chosen a more established and experienced wedding planning company, like the huge firm ‘Veil’s Parade’s’, one of my biggest competitors who are located just ten miles from here. Why has he come here? I’m not saying that I don’t offer exceptional services, but why is he so adamant about planning his wedding here rather than having ‘the best of the best’, as most people who possess a substantial amount of money would want.

I get up from my chair in an attempt to politely assist Mr. Sawyer back downstairs.

“Sorry sir, I don’t believe you have an appointment,” I say as I approach him.

“This is my appointment. Now, can we get to business? I’m a busy man,” he disregards my intention, walking past me and sitting in the chair opposite my desk.

Wow, how fucking rude. What an asshole. I can see what Hannah meant by the phone call they shared yesterday now.

“Mr-” I follow him towards my desk.

“Sawyer, to you,” he cuts my words off.

I’m already starting to lose my patience with this arrogant prick.

“Mr. Sawyer, appointments are issued through a booking system on a first come, first serve, basis. Unfortunately, I do not allow clients to skip the queue as it would be unfair to all my clients.”

“You’ll never run your business successfully if you’re trying to remain fair,” he scoffs. “When is your next appointment?” he asks, crossing a leg over his other and leaning back into the chair with his arms folded behind his head.

Seriously though? What’s with his cocky attitude? And how dare he criticize the way I run my business, he doesn’t even know me!

“My assistant, Hannah, can tell you when the next available app-”

“No,” he cuts me off again, “When is your next appointment today?”

If he cuts me off again, I might just about lose it.

Remaining calm and gritting my teeth, I reply with, “If you mean my first appointment of the day, it’s at half nine,” I glance at the silver watch on my wrist, “In half an hour to be precise.”

“That’s enough time for me. You’re not exactly busy.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Sawyer. I regret that we cannot offer you an appointment today, but I can recommend other professional wedding planners within the city to accommodate your needs.”

“That’s unnecessary, you’ll do just fine,” he pulls a booklet and pen out of his suit blazer pocket, “But, as you’re so adamant you can’t give me thirty minutes of your-” he looks around the office, “not-so-busy time, perhaps this will persuade you.”

He jots something down into the booklet before ripping the page out and presenting it onto my desk.

I pick up the paper, realising it is a cheque. A cheque that reads three million pounds.

My jaw almost drops to the ground when I read the figures, and my heart begins to pound against my chest.

He’s offering me three million pounds to have a thirty-minute appointment with me? How desperate is he? He must love his fiancé an awful lot to be this desperate.

“Mr. Sawyer, are you bribing me?” I place the cheque back onto the table. “I’m not sure what kind of game you are playing, but I don’t have time for time wasters or practical jokes. I’m trying to run a business here, which you, of all people, I thought would understand.”

“Miss Vaughan, I’m not one for wasting time myself, I’m a busy man, so you’re lucky I am even able to find the time to be sitting here talking to you in your office. What part of my serious expression and using the ink of my best fountain pen, appears to you that I am pulling a prank or wasting your time? You are the only one wasting time here. You’re wasting everyone’s time. So either sit down and listen to my requests, or lose the quickest and easiest three million pounds you’ll make in your life, along with your reputation and business I may add.”

What the-

“Are you threatening me, Mr. Sawyer?”

“I prefer to call it negotiating, or doing business if you like.”

He is by far the biggest, rudest and most arrogant prick I have ever met. Either way, my reputation and business is on the line because of said prick. Also, a substantial amount of money which could do huge things for my business, including employing more employees, relocating to a bigger premise, creating better advertisement opportunities, and I’ll ultimately be able to offer better services. This whole situation is insane. But how can I turn this opportunity down? I can barely believe it to be a reality right now, but I’m going to hold my tongue, grit my teeth and accept his offer, or bribery, or threat, or whatever it is he is doing to me right now. If I decline, I know he’s not the type of man to joke about sabotaging my reputation and business, and if he was to do so, I’d be left with nothing. All my hard work and years of my life would be wasted, just like that.

I take a seat opposite him in my office chair, “Mr. Sawyer, as you seem somewhat eager to have this appointment, I will allow it,” I look away from him and mumble under my breath, “As I don’t seem to have a choice.”

“Sorry, what was that?” he asks.

“Nothing,” I dismiss, returning my gaze towards him. “I’d prefer if you kept this ‘business’ between us though, as I usually don’t allow people to skip the waiting list, even when a substantial amount of money is offered to do so,” I raise an eyebrow.

“I don’t have a problem with that. Discussing the way you run your business is no concern of mine, nor is it an entertaining topic to gossip about to my friends. As this appointment has already been cut short, I’d like to start by telling you I will also see you on Thursday. I will see you every Monday and Thursday at the same time, 9:00am, for the next three weeks.”

“But-”

“No buts. You’ll receive your three million weekly for upholding your end of the deal, seeing me at the agreed days and times I just spoke of. I want an over the top, best money can buy wedding, planned and ready by the end of the third week, ready for the following Monday on the fourth week, the day the wedding will take place, May 29th. I’ll email you my details so that you can forward all bills and costs to me. We’ll talk about venues on Thursday, and any other arrangements, but I’m trusting your judgement to do as much as the planning as you possibly can yourself. Plan it as if you possess all the money in the world and as if it was going to be your own wedding. I want luxury, expensive, nothing tacky. Don’t told back on money, there is no budget,” he stands up from the chair and walks towards the stairs.

“Mr. Sawyer-” I call to him.

He turns back to face me as he stands with his hands in his suit trouser pockets.

“You’ve asked me to plan as much as I can, but isn’t that something your fiancé would prefer to do with yourself or me? When will she be visiting? I’ll need her opinion on things.”

“She won’t be, she’s too busy. You’ll do it all. See you Thursday,” he replies.

Without saying another word, he flees down the stairs and exits the studio.

“What the actual-” Hannah begins.

“Fuck?” I finish her sentence, earning a nod of agreement from her. “I’m not dreaming right now, am I?”

“I certainly hope not. You’ve got three million pounds to cash in,” she picks up the cheque wide eyed before passing it into my hands.

We both burst out laughing. I laugh with joy, excitement, confusion and perhaps some nervousness.

“I can’t believe that just happened, and Elliot Sawyer of all people? Like, the actual, Elliot Sawyer?!” Hannah gushes.

“I know, right? Why us? It’s all rather peculiar if you ask me. Though, I must say, he’s a total fucking asshole in real life. Who would want to marry such a man?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind at all. His face, body and money make up for his ugly personality. Though, I think I’d quite like to be ruffled around by a bad boy,” she smirks.

Hannah earns a laugh from me before I slump back into my chair and let out a heavy sigh.

“If I wasn’t busy before, I definitely am now. On top of all my current clients, I’ve got to practically arrange a whole wedding at such short notice, single handily as Elliot’s fiancé is apparently too busy to plan her own wedding with me. I’ve got to do all the guess work. What if they don’t like it? Who even is his fiancé anyway? He’s kept her quiet from the media who apparently know everything.”

“I’ve no idea. I’ve never heard of a bride-to-be being too busy to plan her own wedding before, its every brides dream to plan her own wedding. Also, why has there been no media news on his fiancé? The media are normally all over that kind of thing.”

“Yeah, I know right. Maybe he’s trying to keep it quiet to have a private wedding?” I burrow my brows in thought. “He didn’t instruct me to book a private venue though, so I’m not sure it could be that after all.”

“I guess we won’t know until the wedding day. Maybe she’s ugly and that’s why he hasn’t announced their engagement or wedding plans?”

I chuckle lightly, “I don’t think so, Hannah. But, you never know. Who knows what’s going through that mans mind. He’s not at all charming like the media portray him to be. I feel sorry for his employees having to put up with him as a boss. I suppose its the money he pays them that allows them to put up with it.”

“True, I wouldn’t mind putting up with it for a handsome wage,” Hannah says, returning to her desk and taking a sip of her probably now tepid tea.

“Hannah Woods! I hope you’re not thinking of leaving me to work for that A-hole of a man?” I tease.

She laughs, “Of course not. You’re the best boss anyone could ask for. You pay well and you’re totally laid back and not stingy on annual leave either, even though I still don’t know how you manage to cope alone when I’m on leave. Speaking of which, you can probably afford to hire more employees with that piece of paper in your hands.”

I glance down at the cheque still in my hands. Three million pounds... just like that. I can afford to do a lot of things with three million pounds. Paying off my loans for starters. I still feel guilty by allowing him to skip the list, not that I really had a choice, and I start contemplating whether I should actually accept this money or not.

“To be honest, it feels kind of wrong to accept and cash in this money,” I say, a frown appearing on my face.

“What? Don’t be absurd! That man has practically forced you to arrange his wedding or lose your business by declining. Why should you work hard and waste your time for free? Accept and cash the cheque, Layla. You deserve it, honestly.”

“Well, I don’t know about deserving it-”

“Oh shush,” she cuts me off. “Stop being modest. You’ve worked bloody hard over the years to get to where you are today, and you basically started with nothing. You’re not going to let that man get away with threatening you for no reason. Go straight to the bank and cash that thing in. It’s going to take a few days to process, maybe longer with that amount of money. Think of all the ways your business can benefit from it, and be thankful it is you holding that cheque, and not someone like the owner of Veil’s Parades, aka, Hilda.”

“Ugh, Hilda. I’ve never met such a stuck up cow in my life.”

“Yeah, I remember last years wedding convention clearly. I never could understand how anyone could work for her. What a dreadful, jealous woman. Her intentions were definitely to sabotage our work that day, and she would have got away with it too had she not been caught.”

Hilda, the owner of Veil’s Parades, had tried to falter with our display tables at the convention last year. The convention offers wedding planning companies from all over the country to display and advertise their work and business, where many engaged couples come to visit, in hopes of finding their perfect wedding planner. Like the many other planners who had decided to join the convention, we made sure everything was set up the night before and presented as appealing as we could for the next day.

Tracy, from Winter Weddings, had notified me the morning of the convention about Hilda’s tactics. She had witnessed Hilda loosing the bolts of mine and a few other planners tables. Obviously Hilda’s intention was that with enough weight applied to the tables during the convention, they would start collapsing and ruining the displays. It was lucky that Tracy had witnessed it and reported Hilda to the owner of the convention Sally Miles. Hilda was made to re-tighten the bolts of all tables she had loosened and received a serious warning. She should have been banned from the event there and then if you ask me, and all future events. But she always has been a suck up to Sally.

“I suppose you’re right, Hannah. I can’t throw away this opportunity. I’ll head to the bank immediately, could you take over my appointment until I’m back please?”

“Of course, go, it’ll be fine.”

I thank Hannah and head to the bank, holding onto my handbag for dear life along the way.

End of Chapter Two.

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