I look at my watch, and it’s almost seven. Our last appointment just left after deciding on a twelve-thousand-dollar wedding gown. She also purchased four six-thousand-dollar bridesmaid dresses. I shake my head, it must be my age, but I can’t imagine ever spending that much money for one day out of what is hopefully a long life. Even if I could afford it, I think I would choose to spend that kind of money on something completely different. Like I don’t know, a house, I giggle.
The bell rings on the door. I look up and see a beautiful young woman walk in the store. I walk out behind the counter to greet her and stumble; Gus Wendle, walks inside behind her. He spots me over by the reception desk, and he smiles. “Willow Nelson.”
He then whispers something to the young woman. She walks over and starts looking at gowns, and Gus walks over to me. He holds his out hand, “It’s nice to see you again.”
I hold my hand out, and he takes ahold and kisses the back of my hand like he did at the restaurant. “John mentioned you worked at Vines. I didn’t have a chance to tell you, my sister, Sarah, just became engaged and is eager to start planning her wedding. Of course, this is one of her first stops.” He scans my body. “I would have mentioned it at The Table, but I didn’t think Aiden would appreciate the continued interruption.”
I smile and ignore his comment about Aiden. “When is your sister’s wedding?”
He smirks and puts his hand in his expensive, black wool dress coat, “Next December.”
“Gus, you have to come and look at this dress,” the young woman, Sarah, calls from across the shop. I smile to her and rudely walk away from Gus Wendle and focus my attention on the bride.
I quicken my steps when Gus tries to put his hand on the small of my back. Men are fucking assholes. This is my shop, and I should be leading him, not the other way around.
I approach Sarah and hold my hand out to introduce myself. I’m taken off guard when she says, “Willow, I know. I’d like to try this dress on now.”
She holds up a twenty-three-thousand-dollar ball gown. Gus clears his throat, “Manners, Sarah.” She rolls her eyes at him and looks at me and says, “Please.”
I plaster on a professional smile. I’ve practiced it enough by now. I mask the shock at how spoiled and rude this girl is acting, I’ve seen it plenty of time since I started here. I take the dress from her, “Please, follow me Sarah and I’ll take you to a fitting room and have Ann, our top bridal consultant, help you into this gown. It’s beautiful, a wonderful choice.”
I walk her to the largest dressing area and hang the gown. “I’ll send Ann right in with you, please have a seat over here.” I point to the chairs right outside the dressing room, in the viewing room.
Gus sits and makes himself comfortable, but Sarah hops up onto the platform for brides and starts checking out her behind in her skinny jeans. Gus again clears his throat, and her eyes swing to him. She steps down and takes the seat beside him, “I’d like you to help me, Willow, please.” She stands back up.
“I’m sorry, I have only worked here for a few months. I am not qualified to give you the assistance and guidance that a bride needs. Now excuse me, Ann was hanging dresses in the warehouse.” I glance at my wristwatch. “Unfortunately, we close in an hour, but Ann will be happy to assist you with the gown. I will schedule you an appointment when we have more time to give you a consultation.”
“Did I hear my name?” Thank God, Ann walks back and greets us. “I’m Ann Arter,” She shakes Sarah’s hand.
Sarah looks at her brother and gives him a bratty smile, “Schedule me an appointment while I try on this dress. You’re paying, and I’m free anytime. Just make sure you can come with me.” She walks past Ann and into the dressing room.
Gus didn’t strike me as a man who would take an order from his much younger sister and one done rudely in front of a stranger. I must have been wrong in my guesses about him. “I’ll have an appointment set and ready. Enjoy trying on the gown, it’s lovely, and you made a smart decision,” I excuse myself.
Gus follows me to the front of the store. I hear Sarah bark an order to Ann about help with something. I shake my head and thank God my children are not spoiled brats. I send a prayer up that they don’t choose a spoiled bridezilla because that is definitely a real thing.
I blow out a relieved breath, and finally lock the door, and set the alarm behind me. It’s nine-thirty, and I’ve had an extremely odd and uncomfortable night. Poor Ann, I don’t know how she does her job. We’ve never had anything like this happen since I started working here. She said she has only had one bride do this to her one other time.
I ran back and forth, doing my best to ignore the stares and not to get involved in any conversation with Gus Wendle. He tried all night to strike up a conversation with me. I was polite in the beginning when we schedule a future appointment for his sister. But once he asked a personal question about me and then my relationship with Aiden. I made myself scarce in the office or the warehouse. I kept checking on Ann and checking my watch, seeing closing time come and go.
Thank God, Laura finally called me back. I informed her we had a potential ‘no-budget’ bride who popped by and now wouldn’t leave. She said she would be right into the store. I was thrown for another loop when she showed up with John Glassman.
John was all smiles and laughing at our situation, but the smile was wiped clean off his face when Gus and Sarah Wendle walked out of the viewing area. Gus was happy to see John and wasn’t embarrassed at all that his sister was getting kicked out of a bridal salon. But by his red face, John was embarrassed for him. I give John credit tonight. He helped us usher them out the door.
I shake my head, what a weird night. I stop a block from the bridal store and look into the cute, cool, trendy stained glass store. I love walking to and from work each day. Aiden tries to scare me with his women walking alone in the city lecture, but I look around, and the streets are all well-lit. Vine Street runs into Fountain, my street, so I’m too close to home to drive. I never have ever felt worried about walking home or running in the morning. There are always people around and out and about in this area of the city.
I hear my phone ring, and I dig it out of my purse. A flame kindles in heart; it’s Aiden. “Hello.”
“Hey, did you finally get rid of the princess?”
I snort, “Yeah, Laura had to rescue us and guess who she was with? John Glassman.”
“Willow, I don’t want to know. I explained to you his personal life is not a concern of mine. I don’t want you to share with me Laura’s wild stories of them together. ”
I laugh, “Okay, that’s fair. Heck, I don’t want her to share them with me, especially now I know the guy she’s doing the wild stuff with-”
“Willow,” Aiden growls.
I giggle, “Well, do you want to know who our princess bridezilla was tonight? You may know her, but I don’t want to switch your mood when I mention the family, so maybe I should keep it to myself.”
He chuckles, “Who is the bridezilla? I doubt I know her.”
“Her name is Sarah Wendle. The man we met at The Table, Gus, his sister was our bridezilla tonight. He came in with her, and I was surprised after we told him our shop hours he didn’t seem concerned that he was holding up my and Ann’s night. Really Aiden, if my children ever, ever acted like some of the people I’ve come across in this position. I swear I wouldn’t care how old they were. I would smack their mouths.”
“Where are you, Willow?” he breathes down the phone line.
“I’m walking home, they just left. Can you believe that—”
“Where the hell are you? On Vine Street?”
“Nope, not any longer. I’m on Fountain, and I see my house. Don’t lecture me on safety. I have Mace with me. Lots of people are out shopping and enjoying the nice weather of the holiday season.” I roll my eyes and climb my front steps. I enter my code and unlock my house. “Aiden, are you still there?”
He’s quiet, “Spend the night with me, Willow. I’ll pick you up in ten minutes,” he says and hangs up the phone on me. I shake my head. Men. I’ll never understand how they honestly think.
I drop my coat and purse on my bed and run to brush my teeth before Aiden gets here. He said he’d pick me up, I’ve never been inside his house before. I can’t wait to see what it looks like inside. I can’t wait to see what his space looks, smells, and feels like. I bet it’s a very masculine house.