The quick clicking of heels resonating from a short distance woke me up. My eyes flickered at the sun peeking into my room from my window. I was still dazed from sleep and was trying to figure out if it was morning or afternoon.
The click-clack of heels was audible now and the loud footsteps were approaching my room. My sluggish brain tried to process what was happening.
"Chloe, are you ready?" The sound of my sister's voice sent me flying from the bed to the door, to stop her from entering my room.
Oh My God, today is the wedding! Shit!
I looked around for the wall-clock and checked the time. I still had forty-five minutes to get ready.
"Chloe?" My big sister called, trying to open the door, but I pushed with overwhelming might on the door and succeeded in locking it.
"Almost ready, I will be out in a minute!" I said breathlessly.
"Why are you locking the door?" she asked, knocking on the door a little harshly.
"I don't want you to see how fabulous I look yet?" I giggled nervously, noticing her roll her eyes from the other side of the door.
"Whatever, hurry up. I can't be late for my best friend's wedding. I will be waiting downstairs."
I waited for her to leave before running to my closet to pick out the dress I bought last week for the wedding. I laid it on the bed and undressed quickly, almost tripping on my pajama's shorts as I pulled it down my legs, hastily.
During my whole twenty years on earth, I had never taken such a quick shower. I scratched my skin in the process of applying my body lotion in a rush. I slipped on my peach tulle dress that stopped above my knees. The off-the-shoulder sleeves were made with delicate lace that caressed my skin. I loved the dress because it went with the light shade of my skin, elaborating on my blue eyes.
"Chloe!" Ciara called.
The aftermath of her voice rang in my head. It made me feel like a child being scolded for playing in the mud.
"Coming!" I yelled back as I brushed my hair and prepared to style it to perfection.
"Chloe, come on, we're gonna be late," Ciara shouted from downstairs, her patience seeping out of her. She sounded frustrated. I didn't blame her, I'd feel worse if I were in her place.
We were going to a big wedding—a billion-dollar wedding sounded more appropriate since the two wealthiest families in Beverly Hills were getting married. Well, I considered myself poor since I was living off my parent's wealth.
It was Ciara's best friend's wedding and I wanted to tag along mainly because of the music and mouth-watering food. Food was life, food was a big ass mood. Argue with your sanity, I'd always defend that quote.
I didn't know much about her best friend but I knew they have been joined at the hip since senior year and Ciara was going to be the maid of honor. I never wanted to go to the wedding, I had loads of school work due on Wednesday, especially an 8-page essay but when Ciara kept talking about the wedding and how spectacular it was going to be, I became intrigued.
Now, she was waiting for me while I struggled with the chignon I decided to do. I had everything planned for today's event but everything was falling apart. My dark brown hair was long, making it hard to style the way I wanted. I felt like an angel as I stared at myself in the mirror mounted on the white dresser but I was not even close to being considered an angel. I blocked the memories away with a smile.
I kept my eyes on the mirror as I used each pin to hold my thick hair in place, but it was a complete disaster. I was in this situation because I forgot the time for the wedding and now, I was a mess.
"Coming, I just need to put the last pin." I lied, I had two pins in between my lips as I struggled with the one in my hand to hold my hair. I had spent almost twenty minutes on my hair, who knew chignon was this hard. I won't be surprised if my big sister decided to ditch me, it was her best friend's wedding anyway, but I won't miss the cake for the world.
"Oh my God, Chloe, what the hell are you doing up there?" Ciara yelled.
She was my ride to the wedding and my invitation card as well. I couldn't risk going without an invitation.
"Chloe!" mom called.
"Honey, hurry up," I heard dad's voice next.
"Almost done!" I yelled back after I succeeded in putting the last pin, next time I would use YouTube. I believe YouTube had all the answers to every difficult task in life. I smiled at myself in the mirror, impressed with my handiwork.
I grabbed my makeup kit and went to work. I was about to use the dark eyeliner when Ciara yelled my name again, making me smudge it against my cheek.
"Great," I growled, grabbing a wipe to clean the charcoal color streaking my face.
"I give up, I'm leaving. Sofie will kill me if I show up five minutes late," she said. It was what our parents wanted, they refused to allow her to stay the night at Sofia's house, and she couldn't attend the bachelorette party because our mom believed it was a lame party for ill-mannered women.
"Wait, give me five seconds!" I screamed, grabbing my rock-studded clutch and packed my lipstick, eyeliner, and jewelry inside. I picked up my stiletto heels and rushed out of the room like my ass was on fire.
"Sorry, I was styling my hair," I rasped, running down the stairs barefoot like someone escaping from a psychiatric ward. Just when I was about to get off the last step, the worst happened. Everything in my clutch handbag fell out, and when I tried to pick them up, my hair loosened, as the pins fell out. I stood upright and stared at my sister who looked at me with murderous intent.
My parents looked frustrated too, mom mostly. She was the type that expected you to never do anything wrong, she loved perfection and right now I was the opposite. They might die from a heart attack when they discover the truth about their perfect daughter. People will always see what they want to see, I guess that was their reason for seeing me as a perfect daughter. But it was never enough for my mom, she expected the ultimate best from you.
"Sorry, I will just pick them up and—"
Ciara cut in, "You know what? I can't wait anymore, not even for you to breathe. Call your boyfriend, I'm sure he won't mind giving you a ride." I hated when she was angry, there was this look she always gave me like I was the worst person to ever exist on Earth.
Her dark eyes blazed in anger as she stared at me, it was as if I could see the fire in them. She took after my father's eyes while I took after my mom's blue eyes. I envied her perfect height and oval face, she could be mistaken for a model. I, on the other hand, could be mistaken for a fifteen-year-old.
"But I don't have an invitation," I grumbled.
Ciara groaned and searched her fancy golden purse then threw it at me with an icy look.
"Happy now? Thanks a lot, Chloe, for making me late for my best friend's wedding. Remind me not to pick you as my maid of honor, not even one of the bridesmaids."
"Ciara," mom stepped forward in my defense.
"Sorry mom, sorry dad. I have to be on my way."
She looked her me, the expression on her face so grim that I wanted to run to my room and forget about the wedding. She turned away and headed for the front door. I knew I had to face my parents next.
I turned to look at them with a sheepish grin plastered on my face. Mom folded her arms and her fierce blue eyes focused on me like a camera. She was tall—taller than dad and everyone in her family. I guess Ciara took a quarter of that gene, while I took my dad's short gene.
"Chloe," mom started, her whole demeanor reminded me of my high school principal. That woman was Ursula's twin sister that escaped from the sea.
"You owe your sister an apology and this should be the last time you try something like this, we didn't raise you to be so tardy."
"I get it, mom, it won't happen again," I grunted.
"Good, give Grey a call now. If you're twenty minutes late then forget about attending the wedding."
"Mom," I grumbled.
"Twenty minutes, Chloe," she repeated.
"Dad." I gave him the puppy eyes.
"You heard your mom."
Why doesn't anyone treat me like the last born in this family? I thought we get special treatment.
He always sided with his wife; how could I forget that? Well, dad was timid and avoided trouble like the plague while mom was trouble in the flesh, I might have taken after her on that one. If there was anything I had learned about their relationship while growing up, was that mom had the upper-hand.
"I didn't mean for any of this to happen."
"Remember, this family has a reputation, it will be best if you don't ruin that." Mom reminded me. She was probably thinking about her classy group of friends that only gathered once in a blue moon to sip expensive wine and envy each other's designer clothes.
It was always about the family's reputation, every freaking mistake I make ruins the family's reputation. Even if I break my leg, it ruins the family's reputation.
"I won't," I faked a smile.
I'd been faking smiles my whole life, hiding my broken soul and the pain no one ever noticed—not even my parents. I only hoped I would never fail them or give them any reason to be ashamed of me.
Like that list has not been filled, wait till they find out.
Luckily for me, Grey was close by. I finished my makeup, put on my jewelry, and wore black stiletto heels. Mom called my name when Grey arrived. I hurried down the stairs with a wide smile.
There he was in a black slim suit he matched with a black converse chucks, looking cool and handsome as always. His curly hair looked perfect from here, tumbling to his forehead like bangs. His soft smile made his brown eyes sparkle with an irresistible charm as he held my gaze.
My parents stared at us as we approached each other like two lost lovers finding each other after years of endless search. I tried to suppress the wide smile on my face as I moved closer to hug him, but mom's voice interrupted us.
"You're running late."
Mom believed that only married couples should show affection outside. She told me it was a waste of time since we were not going to end up together in the future.
The first time Grey called me sexy in front of my mom, she made a fuss out of it, telling him it was an offensive word and he was addressing me as a stripper. We had rules in my family, like, we were not allowed to date till we were eighteen. We could move out of our parent's house to live on our own when we were done with college and had a decent job. Mom told us she was brought up that way and that was the reason for her success and reputation.
I doubted that.
Dad once told me she had a strict father that left a scar on her arm. That explained why she always wore long-sleeved clothes.
I loved my freedom and I wasn't getting it here. I don't get my trust fund till I turn 22, I plan to elope once I get access to it; maybe a continent far from home.
Well, I had broken the first rule, I started dating at thirteen, in fact; I dated five guys before I turned eighteen and I was not planning on staying with my parents till I was done with college. Mom might have succeeded in talking me into a college only twenty minutes from home, graduate school would my decision to make. And there was no way I was passing the stupid rule to my kids, for crying out loud it is the 21st century.
I hooked my arm with Grey's and stared at my parents. Mom's eyes fixated on us, it was an effort not to roll my eyes at how she monitored us like a hawk waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
"Be on good manners, Cassandra." I hated my middle name and mom only used it when she wanted to express how serious she was. I always saw mom as a disciplinarian, her reputation was like oxygen to her.
"I will, bye dad, bye mom."
"Bye Mr. and Mrs. Simpson," Grey said, smiling firmly.
"Make sure you return home with your sister!" mom yelled after us.
"I have goosebumps when I'm around your parents," Grey whispered to me when we were out of earshot.
I giggled, facing him, he looked elegant and I was the type to hype my man. I ran my fingers through his soft curls and smiled at him. His mixed genes from his white father and Sudanese mother did him good. His father was a movie producer and his mom was a powerful attorney, but they lived in New York while he moved here with his elder brother during his junior year in high school.
"You look hot, I'm so jealous," I said, frowning. His brown eyes glimmered under the sunlight. I traced his chiseled jawline and cheekbone with my fingertips.
"You look stunning," he said, putting his arms around my waist, sliding it slowly to my hips. He leaned closer to my face to kiss me, I slightly parted my lips to welcome his.
"Cassandra," I heard my mom's voice, we both looked in the direction of the voice and found her staring at us from the door.
"We were just about leaving." We rushed to where his white Tesla was packed and got in.
"Wow," he laughed.
"You should be used to my mom by now."
"Trust me, I'm still trying." We left for the wedding, laughing.
I guess it would've been worse going with Ciara, while she was fuming in rage and holding an invisible dagger over my head.