Chapter Three: Count Down
A tea kettle whistles on a lit stove’s eye. In a yellow, small kitchen Grace sits ontop a countertop, while Hannah clicks off a burning eye on the stove. “Don’t you just love autumn? It’s the prettiest season.” Hannah pours steaming hot chocolate into two red coffee cups, then pops open the fridge and adds a few ice cubes to one cup. She then goes and slides ontop the kitchen’s countertop next to Grace. Slowly handing her a cup. “Plus there’s coco.”
“Yeah, I gotta admit that’s one thing that hasn’t changed, we still like the same things. Except Opera. That’s the fine line.”
“Hey! You told me you liked the shows I took you to.” Hannah pouts childishly. “Tristan und Isolde? Come on that one was a sad romance.”
“I lied, they were horrible. The voices and music always gave me a headache.” Grace shrugs apologetically and grabs a notebook from beside her and opens it.
A pen is clipped to the spine of the notebook, she yanks it out. “Okay so, we have three cater options, which are under your budget.”
“Slightly under.” Hannah peeks over at the paper; blowing onto her hot drink.
“The bridesmaids dresses and the groomsmen suits are done thanks to you. I found a wedding band for David on Pinterest, I forgot to show you. RSVPS will go out tomorrow on Facebook although it might not be that many people coming with such short notice, so the banquet hall will be small. My mom found one that’s affordable.”
Grace makes a list. “Okay, we can go with that one then. I’m thinking of hairstyles and jewelry right now. Oh, we have to pick out the courses and dessert.” Grace jots down notes.
“Oh, you need a dress too.” Hannah eyes the list. “If I knew I was getting married I would have saved up more. Everything feels rushed. Also, the wedding would have been on June 5th not October 27th, it’s such an odd date.”
“Well, you could hold off if you want.” Grace sips her coco.
Hannah bites the inside of her jaw. “Something’s telling me not to wait, though.”
“What are you superstitious now?” Grace continues sipping her drink.
“Remember I told you about how it feels like destiny and whatnot?”
“It’s like the feeling is getting stronger and I don’t want to slow down because it a crazy good feeling,”
“Hmm.” They giggle. “I guess you should follow your gut, then. So....now, let’s get back to the list, we need to stay on track. You didn’t tell me how many bridesmaids there are.”
“Three total. Two are models that Davy works with, their super pretty and clingy. I was nervous about letting them join the wedding, because, uh,” Hannah gets uncomfortable, her gray eyes shift. “I thought something might have happened between them. You know, they’re all hot and work together? But I okayed it, I didn’t want to bring up the past.”
“I understand that.” Grace adds. “So, who’s the other one?”
Grace’s face lights up. “Oh, cool, it’ll be good catching up, I missed her!”
“Yeah, once Harry, her boo, agreed she did too.”
Grace looks to her friend, shocked. “WAIT WHATTT?? Who is this Harry? When did she get a man?”
“I know right! I haven’t been introduced to him yet either! She met his last year at a Rihanna concert.”
“So she has a date for the wedding, now you just need one.”
Grace’s expression goes blank. “Right, yeah...” She scribbles a line in the notebook.
“I can probably ask my cousin Jake...but he’s in California.” She ponders.
“Maybe....Who’s David’s best man?”
“It’s Harry, again, Scarlet’s boo. He and David played on the football team in high school. Scarlet says they’re close, which is great because Davy doesn’t have a sibling his age, just a little sister, Kaylie, she’s six.” Hannah drinks her hot beverage. “He also considers you as a sister, I thought that was so adorable when he told m-”
“Let’s stay on track.” Grace cuts the bride off abruptly. That highly upset her to be considered a “sister” to David. That’s impossible!
“There’s three total, we actually had five guys, but that was too many, so I told Davy to let two of them go.”
“Oh okay, cool. Are you going more towards inside or outside?”
Hannah scratches her head. “I’m not sure yet.”
I would know if it were my wedding, Grace judges. “I think inside, it’ll be easier to get.” She hops off the counter and hurries down the hall of her nice apartment to grab something from her bedroom. “I mean, we need somewhere to rehearse.”
“That’s true.” Hannah yawns. “Hey, you know, you should be a wedding planner. I mean you seem so professional right now. Or am I just that bad?”
“You’re probably just that bad!” Grace yells teasingly. “I also have some vows you can reference.”
“Whoa, you are on it girlfriend!” She snaps her fingers.
“Yasss I am.”
“I guess I get bad decorating from my mom. Did I tell you she suggested beige and purple?!”
“No, way! THOES COLORS what in the world...?”
“I would have left the room.”
“Hey, Grace, you know if you’re still having no luck with the art job, a wedding planner wouldn’t be a bad rebound.”
Grace returns with a laptop and joins her friend back ontop the counter. “I don’t know, maybe...arranging things is fun. If it gets to that bad of a point I may look into it.” The laptop powers on.
“It sucks that it’s not working out, you were so happy when you got that acceptance call, you almost ran into a wall at Victoria Secrets.”
“Oh wow, you had to bring that up, huh?” She tilts her head sideways and chuckles.
“You know it.” Hannah’s eyes observe her friend sweetly. “But, I really do hope it gets better.”
“Me too, I hate feeling like a disappointment every time I clock in, and being secretly analyzed all the time. It’s the worst feeling ever.”
“It’s best to keep my mind off of it for now. Distractions are good.” Grace blinks away tears. “What about your job?”
’Well...the mall is busy for the holidays. I liked it a lot at first but now it’s so stressful, even for a cosmetic receptionist, it’s kinda too much to handle.”
“At least you get to see hot guys as a treat.”
“Ha!” Hannah rolls her eyes. “Oh hey, that reminds me. I picked you up something in New York.” She places down her cup, and hurries from the counter to a small, round kitchen table, and rummages inside a bag for a while before pulling out a small white bag. “My mind went to our 8th grade trip to New York. I remembered you going crazy about some striped cookies I never got to taste.”
She offers Grace the bag, who takes it and holds it with a huge, wide smile that flashes all of her teeth. She looks inside the bag. “No you didn’t!”
“Yes, I did it!” She wiggles her body goofily. “Dean and Deluca Black and White cookies. I searched for hours. Happy early birthday. I won’t be able to spend it with you. Honeymoon and all. Hawaii is seeming like an option, since Davy’s agent cleared a few gigs. I didn’t not want to get you anythin-” Grace slams into her friend with a tight bear hug, tearing up at the sweet gift and the mention of the honeymoon.
Chattering and music travels within a packed bar. Customers gather around a flatscreen tv, watching a football game. Shouting as the announcer bellows dramatically; “Adrian Peterson has the ball!!”
“GO GO!!!!” A few in within the crowd, chant aggressively. Some people sit at tables, while others play on dart boards which hang on the wall. Eight red darts land on a board, each one hitting the target.
Grace arrived at the bar before her unwanted guest, to work out some frustration. So far all she had managed to do was ruin a dress. She had to pick up the pace, the horrible event was just less than a month away. She wondered why it was happening so soon. Is Hannah pregnant? Oh, God, she better not be!
A red Buick pulls up and parks in front of large windows beside Grace. Her temples throb at the sight of them together. Ugh! Her fist ball up. David and Hannah hold hands as they approach, covered in cheesy, irritating love as they kiss each other’s cheeks, chuckling. She wanted to go and rip them apart but decides to keep cool. Grace focuses back on the board and rams three more arrows into it before they enter and see her spiteful demeanor.
“Wow, eleven darts already?! How much did she beat you by, babe?” Hannah asks, from the corner of her eye, Grace spots their two intertwined hands, swinging.
“20 to 9, but I let her beat me, though.”
A chill runs down Grace’s body as she looks up at a charming face that belonged to a smooth, deep voice. For a split second, she loses herself in hazel eyes and dark skin, remembering faded memories. Recalling slow dancing with him under the moon...kissing him.
“I believe it was 25, and you didn’t let me win you just sucked at it.” She smirks.
“Ouch, thanks for letting me down your score just so I can look good, jerk.” David replies sarcastically and embraces her, his seamless body connect perfectly in her grooves, chin touching the top of her head. Grace feels his warmth and bites her lip. But the feeling ends fast. He pulls away. No. She would have begged him not to if Hannah wasn’t around.
“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with telling it how it is instead of lying.” Her voice hints cleverly, David picks up on her petty jab; his smile loosens a bit.
“I think you just got burned twice, hon.” Hannah rolls her sleeves up. “As for me, I’m sure it’s a pretty simple game once you get the hang of it.”
“One on one, you’re on but I’m warning you now, I won’t go easy.”
“Wow, some friend you are.”
Grace doesn’t find this funny. Her serious face takes over. Determined to win the game because it meant more than what it seemed. It would prove that she was better than Hannah. A desperate plan, but hey, I gotta start somewhere. So far her objective was to show that she was the better option unlike Hannah, who couldn’t even stick a target. Who didn’t mean as much to him as I do.
Their match begins, Hannah thud a few darts, which miss the board. With each throw, Grace takes out underlying rage. The first shot; back off bitch! Her mind riles up as a hand whip another dart forward with so much force that her arm jerks back. The second shot; he’s mine! Grace places her feet firmly on the floor. The third shot; I love him more!
The match intensifies quickly, Grace darting skill go relentless while Hannah struggles to make a hit. David sees straight through Grace. A fire lights in her without Hannah even reading it. David watches Grace’s movement, seeing her viciousness increase. “We should get something to eat.” He intervenes, taking the board down from the wall and hiding his anger with Grace from his fiancé.
“No, be honest I’m horrible at it.” Hannah wraps her arms around his neck. “I didn’t even get one, can you believe that?” She snorts. “Grace is killing it.”
“Oh, if you think that was something it’s not. I done worse to Davy.” She says the Hannah’s nickname for David with a slight sneer.
“Yeah, she’s good. But, I had a few wins. I’ll teach you some moves, baby.”
Hannah drops her arms from around his neck. “Hold that thought, I gotta pee, brb!” She gives David a lingering kiss. Grace eyes narrow to their hands departing as her friend jets towards the restrooms. “I’m serious don’t move a muscle, you guys, a muscle!”
“Okay, we won’t.” Grace laughs, a short, robotic sound. Once Hannah is out of sight, she glances over at David. Inner sparks began to ruffle her stomach...her heart heats up. She secretly inhales his scent. Craving it, remembering it. But David isn’t feeling the same, only anger drives him.
“I saw what you were doing. I thought I told you to drop it. How unclear was I?! You’re lucky Hannah didn’t catch that.”
“LUCKY!? I WAS BEING BOLD AS HELL! It’s not my fault she’s clueless.” Her hands swipe the board from his and pins it back to the wall. “Besides I’m just getting started.”
“Is there anything I can do to make you stop this?”
“No, not unless you dump her ass and stick to the promise you made me. Then I’ll be peachy keen.” David goes quiet, he drops the meaningless act of reasoning with her. “So, how long are you staying in Chicago?” She lightens her tone.
“Um...well, I’m trying to stay at least until the wedding, but I doubt I can.” He plucks darts from the board and hands them to her. “Hannah thinks we can’t be apart, because it’s bad luck.”
“And you’re okay with her controlling you like that?” Grace aims an arrow, closing one eye to level it accurately. “That’s pretty possessive.”
“It’s not like that.”
“I wouldn’t treat you like a pet if we were together.”
“Listen, you need to stop this!” David steams up.
’“NO, I DON’T NEED TO STOP ANYTHING!”
“YES, YOU DO!” The calmness leaves his voice. “I’m engaged, that’s not changing YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT!” A few customers at the bar glance their way. Grace puts the darts down and inches in close; nearly touching his lips. David exhales sharply, staring deeply into her eyes, not drawing back. This makes Grace even more certain.
Oh yeah...I have him still.
“Do I?” So badly she wanted to kiss him, her eyes trace his lips, but Grace lets the moment die. She backs away, as Hannah makes her way back from the restroom.