Chapter 23: I crash an ice plie dancer
They stood there pretending to be just friends when all the while everyone in the room could plainly see that they were only existing for each other.
- Emma Blake
The vows were exchanged and max kept glancing at me after every vow. I was so grateful to god for my olive tone that did not express color easily while blushing. After the vows were exchanged, the groomsmen and bridesmaid gracefully slid to the dance floor.
Max quickly grasped my waist and intertwined our hands before sweeping us to a designated spot I was unaware of. The feel of his hard body pressed against mine did not help the butterflies inside my stomach.
Now there were fireworks exploding throughout my body.
Max knew how to dance. Moreover, he was very good at it. He just led me through the rhythm and I followed.
Throughout the thirty seconds, he never once wavered his eyes away from my face. My heart was galloping and if the dance had lasted too long then I would have probably died due to tachycardia.
Too soon, the bride and groom entered the dance floor and all of us backed away. They were professional dancers. At least the bride was. That is how they met and decided to marry.
As the married couple danced, max led me to the sidelines and passed me a glass of champagne from a serving waiter. I looked down at it apprehensively.
Max watched the dancing couple and slightly tilted his head towards me, “she didn’t want this marriage to go like this.”
“Pamela doesn’t like this?” I asked him as I took a tentative sip of it.
It was sweet and bubbly and left my tongue more parched. I took another sip.
“no. She wanted something more fun. She said she wanted to get married in a bar while a local band played a salsa song. But her mother had different ideas.” Max continued.
I turned all my attention to max, “she certainly looked like this wedding celebration was forced on her, but why?”
“Mrs. Cobain wouldn’t leave a chance to flaunt it on everyone’s face that her daughter is getting married to a billionaire,” Max said with a wry smile.
I looked at the couple who were completely enjoying their dance. The bride was smiling and laughing, she truly looked like a bride right now.
“But she is enjoying her wedding nonetheless.” I said when all of a sudden a question arose in my mind, “how do you know this?”
Max smiled at me, “I was forced to attend this wedding. So I used to hang back during the rehearsals. We used to talk.”
“How were you forced to attend the wedding?” I asked him.
My mom had followed me all throughout the house with a pout until I had agreed to come.
“My dad.” Max sighed.
The couple had finished dancing and everyone clapped politely. More people joined the dance floor.
When I looked at max questioningly he continued, “My dad forces me to attend such public functions whenever I ask him for a favor. There is… someone at the wedding that I do not want to meet. But I had asked for a favor so now I have to attend.”
Max looked distressed. People started moving back slowly to the tables now set in the garden. Ice sculptures of dancers were placed at regular intervals and more flowers were brought. Max guided us towards the balustrade that stretched over the hillock.
“What favor did you ask?” I glanced up at him and he gave me an amused smile, “I asked for his range rover for a few days since my BMW was brutally damaged.”
I was going to ask him how when epiphany dawned on me and I winced. Max nodded bemusingly. I had crashed his car.
I glanced at him and gave him a sheepish grin, “it wasn’t all my fault.”
He scoffed at that. Therefore, I told him what actually happened. And I was once again graced by his beautiful heart-warming laughter. Before he could open his mouth, someone approached him.
“Maxwell wester. How pleasant to meet you here.” A man in an expensive pinstriped three-piece suit greeted.
“Mr. Holster, the pleasure is all mine,” Max replied warmly while shaking his hand.
He then turned to me and placed an arm around my waist, “this is crystal winget. Crystal, this is Mr. Holster. He owns the holster enterprises.” I greeted him and shook his hand.
“Maxwell, you should join us. We were just talking about how Nassau County has the potential to develop.” Mr. Holster said. Maxwell glanced at me questioningly.
“Oh, your girlfriend could join us too.” Mr. Holster spoke up.
I quickly responded, “I am not his girlfriend. I am actually Brad Gartlet’s stepdaughter.”
Mr. Holster’s whole demeanor changed at that. His eyes sparkled in joy and he shook my hand again, “oh a future lawyer in making!”
“No, a psychologist in making.” I softly told him.
Some of the sparkle in his eyes dimmed. I was aware that psychologist was not a rich girl occupation and that is exactly the reason why he was not so excited anymore.
“Which college are you thinking about?” he asked me still trying to be enthusiastic.
“I had a full scholarship offer to Yale. But I thought it would be better to finish high school and then re-apply. ” I smiled at him. It wasn’t entirely untrue. I was forced to drop the college deal because mom was scared for me.
Max was looking at me awestruck and even Mr. Holster looked extremely impressed.
“By all means dear! Please join us. You must know everything about how to convince the masses. Ah, brad is such a lucky man!” Mr. Holster gushed.
I was certainly basking in his praise. The scholarship was all my hard work and passion.
“I would Mr. Holster but my mom is asking for me. Thanks for the invite though.” I told them.
Max smiled at me before walking off with Mr. Holster. He glanced back at me one last time before being engulfed in a group of influential businesspersons. My mom approached me with a hot model in tow.
“Crystal, this is Aziz Hussain. And Aziz, she’s my daughter crystal winget.” Mom made the introductions.
The guy was exotically handsome. He had jet black hair jelled in a fashionable hairstyle. A light amount of stubble covered his square sharp jawline. His sharp dark eyes glittered as he smiled.
“Aziz Hussain is the one I was talking to you about this morning. They own the Hussain industries.” Mom told me while she gave me a look that made it clear that I was supposed to behave.
I smiled at him brightly, not that it was hard to do so. He was exceptionally godlike.
“I am so glad to meet you, Mr. Hussain. I have heard a lot about you.” I told him as I extended my hand, palm down.
He took hold of my hand and pressed his lips softly to the back of my hand, “I reciprocate your feelings Ms winget.”
He stroked the back of my hand once with his thumb before releasing me. I discreetly glanced at mom with panicky eyes.
“I see Mrs. Magreine there. Why don’t you two get acquainted with each other?” mom spoke before backing away quickly.
My dear mom, always on my rescue. Leaving me to potential suitors who were my elder sister’s age. I internally sighed as I signaled to a waiter and took a glass of wine. Mr. Hussain was clearly older than I was. He looked to be about 20 or 21 with his developed manly features. I turned to face the view of the ocean. He joined me on leaning against the balustrade.
After a few moments of silence where I gazed at the horizon and Mr. Hussain watched me, he finally spoke up, “you truly are beautiful Ms. Winget.”
I tore my eyes reluctantly from the horizon; it was only past four and the clouds made fascinating shapes. When I turned to meet his eyes, I found him x-ray scanning my intentions.
Blinking twice, I mustered my prettiest smile, “thank you, Mr. Hussain. I had been thinking that people were just falsely calling me beautiful.”
He looked shocked at first and then amused at my outburst.
Mom was going to kill me for my irrelevant use of sarcasm.
He turned his body towards me so that he was leaning on his hips, “let me get this clear with you, Ms. Winget. You are too young. And I have no intention of making you, my bride.”
“Oh thank god.” I said aloud.
Then I widened my eyes before covering my mouth with my hand in horror. He laughed at me. What is with me embarrassing myself today?
“Ms. Winget you are, I suppose, of my younger sister’s age. It is a shame really that my father thinks I am capable of courting such young girls.” He said as he sipped on his glass of brandy while staring out at the docks.
“Well, why didn’t you tell your father that you did not want to court me?” I asked him frankly.
He swept his hypnotizing eyes over me, “because he is not a man who likes to hear no for an answer. He wants me to get married soon and has been pushing suitors at me for so long now.”
He again watched me for a few seconds and then said, “One fine day he heard of a young girl who is intelligent, respectable, and demure and is beautiful. He heard about you and your connections. Your age is not an issue for him. My mother is 16 years younger than him.”
I gaped at him. I was not sure if I should be shocked by the fact that my age didn’t matter to my potential marriage or the fact that I was demure and respectable.
“What are you implying Mr. Hussain?” I asked him looking straight into his eyes.
He gave me a wry smile before speaking up, “it will take me some time to tell him that you are not an appropriate choice for me. Until then you would have to accompany me on some dates.”
“I hope you don’t mind that?” he asked me quickly with raised eyebrows.
I glanced at him once before looking back at the ocean; the waves rose over each other and looked clear blue near the horizon. They resembled the blue eyes I liked so much.
However, I had to keep my mother happy and if this would make her happy then so be it.
I nodded firmly at him before smiling, “I hope that we become good friends Mr. Hussain. I would really like to know you.”
He smiled at me and took my hand, “once again Ms. Winget, you stole the words that I wanted to say.” He kissed the back of my hand.
“I apologize for my quick departure but there is a certain someone here who I would really like to avoid meeting. I have your contact details. I will give you a call.” He then nodded to me once and we said our goodbyes.
Damn my mother for even thinking about stringing me with a man 3 years older than me who acted as if he belonged in some novel about royalty than in a New York love story.
I saw Mr. Hussain join his family. A woman with creamy skin wearing a shimmery embroidered hijab around her head looked in my direction.
I detached myself from the balcony railing and walked towards them. The woman with Mr. Hussain smiled warmly at me.
When I reached her she bowed slightly and greeted me in an Arabic manner, “Assalaamu Alaikum.”
I was nowhere near good at Arabic but I reciprocated her gesture and greeted her back ”Wa Alaikum salaam”
Her eyes widened and I smiled warmly at her. Two boys who looked to be about 13 or 12 were standing beside the woman. They greeted me in the same manner and I greeted them back.
“Ammi Jaan, this is crystal winget. And Ms. Winget this is my mother Rua Hussain and my brothers, Altamash and Aftab Hussain”
I tried to talk to them for a few minutes. When they left Mrs. Hussain hugged me warmly and Aziz looked impressed too. I shook hands with his two younger brothers.
When I turned back mom was beaming back at me proudly from across the other end of the venue. One of the few things that my mom taught me was to be a perfect people pleaser, and I was not going to let her down now.
She turned back to chat with some women wearing lots of jewelry and I made my way towards the open bar at the other end of the balcony.
The bartender came to me and quickly asked what I wanted. I just shook my head. I was not really into drinking. It was 4:45. Dinner would start at 5:30.
People were dancing to a slow song on the dance floor that dominated the center of the venue. The tables were arranged surrounding it, with rustic but elegant chairs. Very few people were at the tables.
I spotted Leah on the dance floor with max. Max had Leah dancing on his toes and Leah could not stop giggling. I smiled at the two of them. It was very clear that max loved his sister.
Some guy approached me. I glanced behind him and saw his friends discreetly trying to spy on us. It took me minutes to make him run away. Then another approached and after I had turned him down another person approached.
By the time, I had stripped that person of all his coolness and charm with my sarcasm many songs had passed by. My eyes scanned the dance floor, involuntarily trying to find someone.
When I saw him, my blood boiled in jealousy. He had his arms around a girl in a red dress. They were dancing slowly. She was practically glued to his front. Her hands were stroking his neck and she was murmuring something in his ear. His hands were at her waist. He grabbed her hips tightly and she giggled obnoxiously. I took my glass of wine and downed it in one go.
“Excuse me? Get me a whisky on rocks.” I told the bartender.
He looked surprised at first but quickly complied with my request. I turned to watch max and the girl and swallowed a gulp of the bitter amber liquid. Max was turning in a circle when his eyes locked on mine.
I took another gulp of the drink and finished it. Slamming the glass on the counter, I gestured for another one. Max took another turn and I took a huge gulp of the liquid.
He looked at me, widened his eyes, and mouthed ‘help me’ while removing his hands off the girl. However, the girl quickly got hold of his hands and placed it on her butt. I spit the drink back into my glass. So much for looking elegant.
They turned in a circle again and max begged me to help me with his eyes. I hopped down the barstool and made my way towards the dance floor. My feet hurt but seeing that girl’s hands all over max just burned the alcohol in my stomach.
The song still had some minutes to get over but I just wade my way through the dancing couples and reached max.
I tapped the girl’s shoulder. She turned to look at me. Yup, she was a classic bimbo with an excellent fashion sense.
“Excuse me? I was hoping if you would let me take this dance with him.” I told her as I pushed her away elegantly while swaying my hips, “oh thank you so much.” I told her and quickly got hold of max before waltzing him away all the way to the other end of the dance floor.
I looked back at the girl and she was shell-shocked, she had no idea what just happened.
When I looked up at max, he was looking at me with parted lips, “how did you do that?”
“You were there, my damsel in distress. I am sure you saw how I did that.” I told him with a smirk.
He frowned at that, “damsel in distress?”
“Who called for help?”
“Okay, I agree,” Max said he swayed us a bit before grinning down at me.
I scrunched my nose at him, “what?”
“Now we can dance for the whole hour.” He said still grinning as his hands left mine and traced the curve of my waist before pulling me abruptly against him.
I wrapped an arm around his shoulder and the other hand on his bulging biceps.
“I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” I told him as my shoes bit me painfully.
“And why is that?” he asked me with a smirk as he tightened his grip on the small of my back pressing me flush against his torso.
“My shoes. They are new and they are hurting me badly.” I winced and looked down at my feet.
“Can’t. Mom said not to go barefoot on any social event.”
Max chuckled but stopped when I winced again. The skin just above my heel peeled off.
“Crystal, get them off.”
“Fine then. You didn’t give me any other option.” He said and suddenly kneeled in front of me.
I barely stopped myself from squealing in surprise. Slowly his hands slid from my waist to my hips to the back of my thighs then to my calves before grabbing hold of my shoes. I clamped my thighs tightly together. A fire had started in my belly and it was rapidly spreading all through my body.
Max looked up at me with darkened eyes, “lift your feet.”
I bit my lip as he removed one shoe then the other. He made sure to stroke my feet sensually before getting up. He held both of my shoes in one hand then encircled his arms around my waist pulling me closer. Without my heels, I had to look up to meet his eyes.
“Now you can dance.” He said smiling down at me.
“My feet still hurt,” I told him softly.
He leaned down to murmur into my ear, “Want me to kiss it better?”
I grinned at him then shook my head. I rose on my toes and settled my head on the crook of his neck, he put his chin on the top of my head and we just swayed to the rhythm mindlessly.
The song changed and a different song came with a little faster yet sensual theme. My hips swayed once. Max pulled back to raise an eyebrow at me. I shrugged, and he took my hand to twirl me. I rose on my toes and performed a pirouette. When I stopped, max pulled me back with an amused look. I threw my head back and laughed. When I stopped laughing, max was grinning down at me.
He leaned in closer to my ear before whispering, “You are simply breath-taking.”
Then he kissed my jaw near my ear. We danced for a little while longer, laughing and giggling at the silliest things. Maybe we were both a little drunk. But who cares?
When we pulled back, many people were staring at us. I felt a blush threatening to overtake my face so I released my hands from his hold and walked off the dance floor.
Max followed with my heels in his hand. He placed them down at my feet and I stuffed my feet back in them before going to the bar.
The bartender slid a whisky on rocks and max shook his head.
The bartender gestured to me, “it’s for ma’am.”
Max whipped his head at me and I smiled awkwardly.
“A bottle of champagne,” Max told the bartender. The bartender got us a bottle and two glasses.
“I think you are the magnet for unnecessary attention. You just have to steal the day for yourself.” Max said as he gestured for a corkscrew.
I scoffed and he grinned at me, “no really. You have a habit of making drama unfold.”
“I don’t invite drama,” I told him as I grabbed the champagne bottle and shook it rapidly.
“Yes, you do,” Max said as he took the bottle from me.
The servers brought the tables of food out. The food was arranged on rustic thin wooden tables. Max started unscrewing the top of the champagne bottle.
“Oh just give it to me,” I told him as I snatched the bottle from him.
He chuckled at me, “hey give it back!”
“No!” I told him as I shook the bottle once again.
“Crystal don’t shake the bottle. The cork would pop out and hit someone.” Max warned me.
“As if,” I told him and stuck my tongue out.
However, champagne really liked max and it listened to him.
So the cork flew open. I saw that small piece of wood fly in an unmistakably perfect 45-degree trajectory and hit one of the ice sculptures posing in a plié position. The ice sculpture teetered on its toes.
“Oh fuck.” Max muttered.
We both watched the ice sculpture tilt to the left and right before it balanced. I sighed in relief.
“Not so quick, crystal,” Max muttered.
I followed his line of vision. The sculpture was on the edge of its pedestal and then it fell.
Have you ever placed your ruler on an eraser in school and tried to launch things?
Well, the ice sculpture fell on one side of the table with a huge crash and tilted the table so that it was vertically standing.
The food flew and fell over all the guests drenching their suits and dresses worth thousands of dollars.
And because matters weren’t worse yet max grinned at me wickedly before lifting a plate of scallops and yelling "FOOD FIGHT!” he then threw the food randomly at someone and told me to duck.
Duck? Was I supposed to throw ducks?
I did not expect anyone to react to max’s words. These were rich and respected people.
Apparently, I was wrong. People started screaming, shrieking, and throwing food at each other. I gaped at the scene in front of me.
I turned to the bartender behind me to ask if he was witnessing what I was just looking at but a huge lump of ratatouille splattered on the place where I was just a few seconds back, drenching the hemline of my skirt in the sauce.
This was war and I was a weaponless soldier. Some people had the good sense of running away to their cars.
I hoped mom and brad were already there. As I was briskly making my way towards safety I bumped into a girl entirely covered in cream.
I looked at her in alarm and it took me a few seconds to realize that she was the bride. She laughed loudly before hugging me tightly.
When she pulled back, I had cream all down the front of my dress. Taking a deep breath, I emptied the bowl of spaghetti that I was holding behind my back on her head. She squealed loudly
“Happy wedding Pamela,” I told her as I gathered my skirt and hastily made my way towards the exit.
All of a sudden, a hand wrapped around my waist, and I was pulled down. Before I could protest, it started raining Thai rice.
“That’s why,” Max said. I turned to him and he was unscathed.
“How are you not covered in food?!” I asked him
“If only you had listened to me.,” he told me regretfully.
I puffed my cheeks out and got up. There was a stout man in front of me. Just as he turned to face me, max threw some saucy ravioli sort of thing on that man.
“Goodbye crystal.” He murmured before licking the cream on my cheek.
I sucked in a quick breath and turned to him but he was gone. The stout man in front of me was red in the face, and not because of the sauce.
“ENOUGH!” he screamed and everyone came to a halt.
He was the father of the bride and he thought I threw food at him. Every single person still present was called.
He was asking for a CIA investigation to find out who ruined his million-dollar wedding. And his prime suspect? Poor dear old me.
Brad had to hastily send mom and me away. It was not until 11 at night that he stumbled back home, exhausted. Mr. Cobain had kept badgering him about me. I apologized to brad a thousand times. However, he just smiled at me and told me not to worry about him.
“you were awake late yesterday night. Go and get some sleep.” He told me as he climbed the stairs.
“I am so sorry. You had to face so much trouble because of me.” I followed him up the stairs.
He stooped abruptly at my words and turned to look at me.
He smiled softly and spoke, “you are my daughter, crystal. It is my duty to face troubles for you. Go and get some sleep.”
I gazed up at him with a huge lump in my throat. Brad was certainly not the man I thought him to be.
Max got me into trouble all over again.
And we were back to square one.
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