Chapter 22: I become an unwilling bridesmaid.
People will stare. Make it worth their while.
- Tom Ford
“listen, crystal, I got a call from brad’s mom. She likes you a lot so she talked about you to a friend of hers.” Mom spoke as she poured brad a glass of scotch.
“What should I do then?” I asked as I shifted on the soft leather of the limousine we were currently sitting in. My silk and chiffon dress made a soft rustling noise.
“Well, she is friends with a business tycoon and he has an eligible bachelor of a son-” she continued while she poured another glass of scotch and added ice cubes to it.
I scrutinized her every move minutely.
“-and she wanted you to meet him.”
“Why?” I asked her.
She raised the glass to her lips and took a casual sip looking like the posh wife of an influential lawyer in her maroon silk dress.
“Because they think you are the perfect match for him.” mom said after gulping the drink.
Brad was watching me intently for my reaction.
I took a deep breath and bunched my sky blue skirt in my fist, “so you want me to get married to this eligible bachelor?”
“No...” mom stretched the word and grimaced when she saw the expression I was giving her.
If looks could kill someone then I would have been the world’s best assassin.
“Are you serious?” I shrieked.
“Crystal! Manners!” mom spoke sternly.
“Why do you want to ruin his life?” I asked her almost on the verge of an anxiety attack.
“Crystal it’s not a big deal. You just have to go on a few dates with him and that’s that.” Mom said in a calm voice.
“It’s not a big deal?! Well we will ask him how he feels when he comes to know that I am brain-damaged!” I screamed at her.
Mom stared at me in shock. I pressed the creases out of my skirt. They were trying to get me married.
I was barely seventeen! Now I understood the reason why I was wearing a dress that was fit for meeting the queen of England.
Demure, elegant, and perfectly out of my character.
I sighed in frustration and gave mom a sidelong look, “why are you drinking?”
“I can’t face brad’s mom without being buzzed.” Mom casually poured another drink for herself.
I gaped at her, “that’s why you don’t say a word when she insults you!”
Mom and brad solemnly nodded.
“Well, I want to be buzzed too.” I retorted as I grabbed for the bottle of scotch in the minibar.
Mom quickly pulled it out of my grasp, “remember what you did the last time you were drunk?”
“I was never drunk.” I scoffed. Mom gave me a knowing look.
“Desmond told me.” mom said and I groaned loudly at that. My daddy dearest could not stop bragging about my exploits.
“What did she do?” brad asked with piqued interest.
“I was a child then mom-”
“It happened 3 months ago.” Mom gave me a blank look.
I grimaced at that, “I didn’t do anything.”
“You got drunk. Climbed on the roof and started pole dancing on the TV antenna.” Mom stated.
“See it wasn’t that bad,” I told my mom while brad started laughing.
“They had to call the fire brigade to get you off the roof.” Mom said with a small smile.
“So you don’t know what happened afterward?” I asked her hopefully.
She looked puzzled, “what happened later?”
I grimaced at the memory, “they made the mistake of leaving me near the water hose. The whole street was drenched.”
Mom and brad laughed at that and a reluctant smile tugged at the corners of my lips. The driver announced that we had reached.
The Cobains were close friends so we arrived long before the other guests had. I got out of the limousine stumbling in my four-inch stilettos. They were new and they were letting me know that painfully.
I looked up at the wedding venue and my mouth fell open. It was beautiful with its Tudor style structure. trellis covered windows shone brightly and glittered in their colored hues in the afternoon sun. It was breathtaking in its simplicity and grandeur.
A salty breeze whipped the few strands of hair that framed my face. I slowly turned around. We were on a hillock that looked down at the ocean. The driveway itself was huge and grand, dotted with exotic flowers and modern lights.
“Stop gaping,” Mom whispered in my ear as she nudged me to climb the stairs.
Right, I was the perfect stepdaughter of brad gartlet, not a tourist. Yet I could not stop myself from admiring the beauty of the place.
We entered the building and it was even more majestic on the inside. The receptionist smiled at us. The letter - ‘W’ in golden calligraphy hung behind the reception ostentatiously.
The receptionist led brad to a study where he was met with raucous laughter and loud greetings. She led mom and me to the green room.
The greenroom was cloaked in complete silence. When mom and I entered people greeted us with narrowed eyes and hushed whispers.
“So what do we do now?” the bride asked.
She was a blonde-haired woman of average height. Her lace and chiffon gown clung to her torso before flowing out near her waist. Her makeup was kept minimal and her hair was swept up in an intricate updo with sapphires studded in it.
“Find another bridesmaid for you. We can’t mess up the formation.” A woman in a burgundy midi dress spoke nervously. She was probably the wedding planner.
“Well? Who do you suggest?” another elder woman asked haughtily.
She wore a glimmer shiny wrap dress in gray that tried to defy her age unsuccessfully. She was probably the bride’s mother. The bride’s mother tipped her flute of champagne and finished it in one go.
“Vanessa?” she asked tauntingly while pointing at a girl sitting on another settee.
The girl looked about my age but she was a total outcast here. She slumped in a lilac silk dress but that is where her high-class wedding wardrobe ended.
She paired the dress with ripped tights and spiked six-inch platform heels. The darkest shade of red adorned her lips and her eyebrows and lips were pierced. I glanced at the other bridesmaids in their dusk pink and wine dresses. Nope, certainly not.
Even the wedding planner was aware of this. She nervously searched around the room and then her eyes settled on me.
She perked up. I nudged my mom who was busy chatting and giggling with another woman.
“She could be the bridesmaid!” the wedding planner squealed, “What is your name?”
I gulped dryly. Everyone’s attention turned towards me. Mom nudged me to speak up.
I cleared my throat discreetly and spoke, “crystal winget.” The bride’s mom narrowed her eyes at me.
“She is my daughter, Mrs. Cobain.” Mom quickly came to my defense.
As she wrapped her arm around my waist, a blanket of security laid on me. The whole room was scrutinizing me like vultures watching their prey.
Mrs. Cobain smiled warmly at mom, “welcome jade. Your daughter is really beautiful.”
She then looked at me and spoke, “now dear if you would please walk from that part of the room to the windows.”
I was about to ask why but my mom just squeezed my hip and let go. Taking a deep breath, I started walking and prayed to all the gods existing in earthen culture to save me from stumbling over my heels. When I had done what was asked of me, I turned back to Mrs. Cobain.
She was smiling at me appealingly, “are you a model, my dear?”
I scrunched my nose at that, “no. absolutely not.”
“Ah, then you must be a talented dancer?” she prodded.
A lump formed in my throat and I somehow squeezed the words out, “not anymore.”
When she looked at me questioningly I added, “I used to do ballet when I was small.”
The bride gave me a small reassuring smile while her mother smiled at me as if she just confirmed a very profitable business deal, “excellent then! Crystal will be the bridesmaid. Get her ready!”
She then walked up to me and laid a manicured arm on my shoulder, “you don’t have to do much. Just walk to the aisle with the groomsmen and after the vows are done dance with him for 30 seconds before my daughter and son in law start dancing.”
She squeezed my shoulder assuringly before walking away. I looked at Vanessa in pure horror who was smiling at me sympathetically. At least someone was nice here.
Thirty people stared at me, judged me from each and every angle then everyone turned towards the bride who looked tired of the ordeal. She just waved her hand and everyone pounced on me at once.
“Just a few adjustments to this dress and she could wear it.”
“Oh her face is the perfect canvas. She is going to look perfect.”
“Does she know the routine? Do we need to teach her?”
“Well, who cares! The groomsman would take care of that”
“We will have to cut her hair.” The hairdresser said. My mom was quick to stop him.
“Just a few snips. I am not cutting all of her hair.” The hairdresser pouted.
Mom gave me an uneasy glance and I smiled to assure her. Mom loved my hair. She was very protective of it. Under 15 minutes I was ready.
I was fitted into a backless, halter dusk pink dress with a slit that ended at my mid-thigh. It clung to every curve of mine accentuating my pear-shaped figure. I had to remove my bra but my lace panties were left alone.
Whoever the previous bridesmaid was, she definitely had huge breasts and small hips. Therefore, even though the top of my dress looked demure, things were different at my hips and thighs. My hair was done in retro curls and a golden feather-shaped clip was clipped to my hair.
“Perfect. She looks beautiful. Oh, the best bridesmaid of all. Jade, you did well bringing your daughter today.” The bride’s mom complimented.
My mom grew taller at my praise while I shifted uncomfortably in my dress. They had kept my makeup minimal with just winged eyeliner and pink lipstick.
“Are all the bridesmaids here?” the wedding planner asked.
Her assistant rushed in with two girls behind her, “yes.”
I watched the youngest bridesmaid for a second longer before she turned her big blue eyes at me and jumped at my sight, “crystal!”
“Leah!” I squealed back as she ran to hug me in her wine-colored flow dress. Her hair was done in a style similar to mine.
“You are looking so beautiful Leah!” I gushed at her.
She grinned widely at me as her cheeks turned pink, “thank you. Maxy said I look like a princess.”
I chuckled at that. All the bridesmaids started chattering with each other.
There were seven of us with Leah being the first then a 10-year-old, a 13-year-old,then me and after me a college girl, a 24-year-old and finally the maid of honor.
It really looked like some form of show off than a celebration. Bridesmaids were supposed to be girls very close to the bride. In this case, most of the others barely knew her and I was not even aware of her name until I spotted it on one of the golden calligraphy banners as ‘PAMELA COBAIN WEDS MARCUS JACOBS’
Judging from the bride’s expression, she had similar views too. It all seemed as if forced by her mother. We were all sent to stand under the vine-covered archway that led to the aisle.
The groomsmen came and lined up to stand with us. Surprisingly my partner did not arrive. Oh god, I hope I could skip this now.
“You are Rachel’s replacement?” a guy in his 20′s asked me.
Judging by his outfit and the annoyed expression on charlotte’s face he was probably her partner. I smiled at him politely and nodded.
“Wow, you are more beautiful than her.” He said while looking at me up and down, “I am Zachary by the way. But you can call me Zac or anything actually. I will listen to you anyway.”
I could not help but chuckle at his flirting, “I am crystal winget. Call me crystal, nothing else.”
He grinned at me like a little boy, “Guess your partner didn’t come yet. If you want I could be your groom...sman” he purposefully stretched the word groomsman.
I jerked my chin towards charlotte, “what about charlotte?”
“She can find someone else.” He waved his hands in her direction and smirked at me.
He was such a jerk. Charlotte looked ready to murder him. I turned my back to him and looked at Leah who was talking to a little boy making him blush. Cute.
“I could give you that.” He murmured into my ears while pointing his chin towards crystal and the boy.
I was not sure if he was talking about their cute romance or he was suggesting that he could give me babies. Either way, I was extremely disgusted by his invasion of my personal space.
“Dude. Back off.”
A familiar deep voice spoke and the jerk moved away from me. I closed my eyes for 3 seconds and prayed that it was not who I thought it was.
Slowly I turned back and was met with the clear blue stare of Maxwell wester. His eyes widened as he checked me out.
“Wow! ...you look...” he murmured.
The way he paused to find words to describe me brought warmth into my heart. I felt my insides melting like chocolate on a hot pan.
“Beautiful?” I suggested as I smirked at him.
He abruptly shook his head, “beautiful is a very lousy word to describe you.”
My breath hitched and all the blood in my body rushed to my face. I could not stop the grin that overtook my face.
Glancing down at his shoes, I bit my lip to stop the smile. I was lost for words. When I looked back up, max was smiling his gorgeous smile as he came to stand beside me.
I swallowed once and tried to rein my heart from running away. His citrus and mint cologne wrapped around me and the warmth radiating from his body just made me even hotter. I was literally burning up inside.
Struggling to maintain a calm facade, I turned to look at him. His hair was gelled back perfectly. He was clean-shaven and his sharp jawline was very prominent. I just wanted to slide a finger down its length. He was wearing a stormy gray tuxedo with a thin silk tie in dusky pink to match my dress.
He was complete perfection and I was not the only one to notice that. The other three bridesmaids with hormones were checking him out too.
He turned to me with a smirk and asked, “Like what you see?”
I smiled at him ruefully as I realized that he was using my own words on me.
“Yeah. Pink definitely suits you.” I told him.
He touched his tie then turned to me with a raised eyebrow, “you know what suits me more?”
I tilted my head to him and he leaned in to murmur into my ear, “being next to you.”
Cue, the unmistakable blushing.
I giggled at that and turned to face the archway, trying my best not to linger on his smooth words. I turned my attention to the ceiling above us.
It was done in intricate freehand swirls with curves that looked like floral vines. Moreover, it had a completely LED lighting system underneath it. Therefore, the faint lines seemed to glow and illuminate the hallway in an ethereal glow.
“Do you like this venue?” max asked me with an amused smile.
I gave him a quick glance before fixing my eyes back on the design, “it’s wonderful.”
“You should start an apprenticeship with the architect who designed this place. You could learn a lot.” I told him teasingly.
To my surprise, he laughed. He laughed a deep belly hearty laugh that sounded more like a bark. Nevertheless, it warmed all the parts in my body that only activated in his presence nowadays.
Everybody turned to look at him then me questioningly. I shrugged; I had no idea why max was laughing but I would not put a damper on it when it made me feel all fuzzy and warm inside.
He finally seemed to calm down. The music started and Leah walked out with her partner. I turned to him, his cheeks were flushed and his eyes were still gleaming with humor.
“Why did you laugh?” I asked him.
He turned to me with the most brilliant smile and extended his arm to me. I wrapped my hand around his triceps.
“This venue is my idea. I designed this place when I was 13 and my dad started building it. Technically I am the chief architect.” Max spoke as I looked at him in awe.
It was my turn to feel embarrassed for trying to tease him.
“Thanks for the praise by the way.” He winked at me.
Before I could ask him anything else, it was our turn to walk down the aisle. Somehow, the idea of being and dancing with max just made my heart do somersaults behind my ribcage.
Damn, I was falling for him.
This wass bad.
This was so bad.
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