Arriving at the hotel I'm grateful I managed to rope Helena into joining me today. Clarisse had dismissed most of the staff considering they were all going to be at the hotel all day but for some reason Helena had also be excused from working the party, something she usually does every time they hold one.
I snatched her up as soon as I heard, bringing her with me as my free assistant now Al is too preggers to be on her feet all day. Helena was excited to help, mostly so she could be here with Christopher and see him looking all sexy in his tuxedo later.
"Are you sure it's okay for me to borrow this babe? It looks really expensive." She marvels at the gown I'd worn to Tara and Cole's party a few years ago, she needed something for tonight and it was all I had.
"Yeah girl, brought my sewing kit in case you need it pulled in a bit with that teeny tiny waist of yours but as long as you wear killer heels the rest of you should be good."
Wondering further into the hotel, I almost forgot I was being followed by a giant clothes carrier until it spoke. "Seriously Brie, how far is this room because this dress weighs a fuck-ton."
I roll my eyes. "Not that much further. Josh I've seen you bench press twice my weight, you can hold onto it a bit longer. My shoulders fucked and Helena is practically a toothpick with tits, I need you to suck it up and carry the damn dresses."
Josh peers at me over the pile of dresses, shoes and binders I need for today. Following us up the grand marble staircase that encompasses most of the centre of the hotel. There are gonna be some insta-bitches taking serious selfies on this thing later.
Finally we arrive at the room Sonya had told me was our staging area. It was probably the most glorious hotel suite I'd ever seen. The theme of creams and golds continued through the living room, large bi-folding doors sat off to the left that led out onto a balcony that wrapped around the edge of the entire suite.
There were two bedrooms, one of which already had all the equipment we'd be needing today, and the biggest bathroom I've ever seen in my life. The tub was larger than the pool we had in my part of town.
Josh dumped the dresses on the bed of the other suite whilst I set up all the binders on the coffee table so I could get straight to work. This day was going to kill me with stress but I keep reminding myself that when I wake up tomorrow morning I'll have more money than I ever thought possible. Ten percent of a shit-ton is still a shit-ton.
"How's your shoulder? Are you definitely up for this?" Josh asks, steadying himself on the arm of the sofa and staring at his phone. This is the longest he's left Steve other than when his mother made him go home and sleep, I could tell he was already nervous and eager to get back.
"I'm good babe, you shoot off. Helena's got me." Helena nods with conviction as she slips down into the seat opposite me. "Honestly babe, you go. I probably won't be available much today but if anything happens text me and if not I'll come by with Al in the morning."
He looks relieved as he checks his phone a final time before slipping it back into his skin tight jeans. How does he even walk in those things? "Okay, if you need a lift back call." He knows Jayce already said he'd come get me but I still love how much he worries. This whole 'my car at the bottom of a cliff' thing is getting on my nerves already. I'm getting a new one as soon as this check clears.
Josh kisses the top of my head on the way past and winks at Helena before getting out of the room.
Helena sighs watching him walk away. "I can't believe he's gay. If he weren’t, you guys would be perfect together. Doesn't he have a straight brother or something he could set you up with?" Oh god don't get me started.
I start ringing all the vendors, confirming all the plans and checking there's no delays. I was about two hours in when Sonya decided to leave the hotel bar long enough to grace us with her presence.
It took her a solid twenty minutes to realise that Helena and Aleah were not the same person, even for her the fact she couldn't see the difference between a nineteen year old black girl and my paler than snow pregnant best friend was a low point even for her.
Shovelling another cup of espresso down her throat I think I sobered her up enough that she was making coherent sentences again. She's always been an absolute flake but lately it had been getting a lot worse, something was definitely up but I didn't have time to worry about it today, it was Monday Brianna's problem.
The day was running pretty smoothly otherwise, no major hiccups in terms of the vendors. Helena was following me carrying the planning binder as I checked over the room set up when Clarisse and the whole Vanderbilt clan entered.
Clarisse looked impeccable as always in a clean white power suit, a black lace trimmed camisole underneath giving her the hint of sexy most women her age would be intimidated by.
I couldn't keep my eyes off her as she walked through the room, power oozing from her pores with each and every step. You'd never believe only a few days ago I watched her fiancé pin her to a wall whilst she hurled abuse at me. One more night and I'd never have to see her condescending face again, tomorrow couldn't come quick enough.
Sonya walked over to greet her, the welcomes like a well rehearsed dance they only teach the rich. Clarisse’s eyes missed me completely as they looked over the room, almost to the point I knew she was avoiding the contact with me on purpose.
Antonio was nowhere to be seen but Christopher stood alongside his brothers staring and smiling at Helena as she pretended to check the silverware for invisible water marks. I'd met Tommy before but not the other brother, he stood in the middle and looked just as uncomfortable to be here as I would be in a nunnery.
Christopher edges his way towards us slowly so I take Helena's arm and drag her to the next table so they can stand together inconspicuously. As I take the binder from her hands her arm falls to her side and I see the moment Chris stands behind her, letting his knuckles graze against hers.
Tomorrow they will walk off into the sunset together, their whole world beginning and I couldn't be happier for them. Helena has been through so much, yet she's stuck by him. What they have is real and true, she deserves that.
"You've done a wonderful job here Ms Parker." I was so distracted staring at Helena and Christopher’s little moment I hadn't noticed Tommy make his way to my side.
I smile at him. "Thank you so much Mr Vanderbilt, I hope it will be a spectacular evening."
He smiles back at me. "I'm sure it will be... Tell me, have you been having any more issues with my mother's grooms-bride?"
Fuck. I mean he did get into a bit of tug of war with Connor over my body but I don't think that counts. "No, I believe he received your message loud and clear. Thank you."
He nods, backing away as Clarisse approaches. Her gaze no longer floating around the room as she focuses entirely on my eyes. Reaching the table she extends her arms, the fake smile I've got used to seeing filling her face as she grasps my shoulders harshly. "Brianna, I'm so happy to see you out and about again. I was beside myself when I heard about your... accident." Her fingers begin to dig deeply into my shoulder, sending bolts of crippling pain throughout my body that make me want to scream out, but I refuse to give her the satisfaction. "Please, if you feel unable to continue today and need to go home then please do, I will understand completely."
You'd like that wouldn't you bitch. I don't move, embracing the pain and letting it motivate me as I grow a smile big enough to challenge her own. "That’s incredibly sweet of you Clarisse but I assure you I am perfectly capable of completing every task placed in front of me. It takes a lot more than that to keep me down."
She smirks, digging her thumbs into my shoulder so hard I can feel her hands shaking under the pressure. "Clearly."
We stay in a stand off, both refusing to give in until the energy in the room becomes toxic enough to kill us both and she finally relents, letting go and releasing another jolt of pain as she removes her hands that under any other circumstances would bring me to my knees.
There's something truly evil about the way she's looking at me, something that even I'm not sure I'm strong enough to stand up to. Sonya pulls back her attention, Clarisse leaving with her as they walk through the room and I fall into one of the chairs.
Helena rushes to my side but I give her a knowing look, I don't want anyone to know I'm in pain. Hurriedly we walk to the kitchen and check in with everyone there, my pain finally easing after the chef offers me a shot of the port they were adding to the first course, before we make our way back upstairs to get ready.
Here we go...