Chapter 27 As Catherine rose from her seat and made her way to the door, she felt Shawn’s eyes on her. A part of her wanted to believe and trust him, while another part thought he just wanted to convince her otherwise so she could keep quiet about the scandal that Elizabeth had been telling the media about him. Those scandals obviously weren’t even half the truth, and their multi-billion dollar conglomerates were not on the verge of bankruptcy amid the pandemic. And yes, she was expecting him to tell her the truth about Elizabeth’s blackmailing him, not just because his grandfather wanted him to settle soon.
She was just waiting for him to open up to her. Not that she was expecting too much, but anyway, she was already married to him, so why not just go with the flow until she could give him a divorce, right? So Catherine, stop scowling, be a dear and s**k it up, she thought to herself. Oh, and then there is the third part that wants to just kiss him… Feel the warmth of his embrace… feel him buried deep within her again. ‘Stop! Jesus, I have to stop thinking!’
But for now, she was going to put the conversation behind her and get her work done. The next few hours go slowly. She was finalizing all of her tasks, but her mind was astray, absorbed with the thoughts of Shawn. Though the man had been ignoring her again and had asked her for coffee again, he was more than absurd with his meeting, never leaving his eyes away from the laptop, and in some ways, it had made her day easier.
Catherine realized that, despite her intense confidence in his company, she still has worries, especially about this pandemic. Her emotional feelings for Shawn made it more confusing, and she wished this whole situation would just end up optimistic so they could resume their lives. But could they? Everything was awkward now, and her heart was shattering into a million pieces as she sat at her desk, eating a warm pasta, a packet of crisps, a small bowl of fruit, and tea for lunch, and watching the garden, birds, and butterflies flying, and saying hello to the beautiful blossoms from her window view when Shawn appeared out of nowhere. Maybe he went for his lunch. Earlier, he told Eddie that she would have her lunch here in the office. Her phone rang, and it was Jane. “Hey girl,” she said as she answered her phone, “how are the kids?” “Hmp! Catherine, good, good, they are fine, but what is this news I’ve heard from Chelsea?” “What news?”
“Your boss is on the front page again, this time with the b***h… Tell me he isn’t going to marry the w***e? Yes, Elizabeth is the name.” Oh, about that, well… about that, it’s just rumored… complicated rumors.”
“Yes,” she said, swallowing a mouthful of food.
“Okay, great. Because the b***h is horrible. She had too many scandals under her name, and Mr. Hottie must stay away from her.”
“I know Jane. But anyway, how’s your lockdown there?”
ne But anyway, how’s your lockdown there?” “Catherine asked, trying to turn the topic to her friend.
“Kids are bored, but yoga was canceled… And what about your date with Hugh? Was it canceled
“Yes, I told Hugh that I had to cancel our date.” “The man was amazing though-” She halted while the door opened and Shawn appeared with a coffee on his hands and furrowed brows, looking at her. “Miss Brown, I was paying you to work, not to gossip!” He grumbled and went to his desk
“Oh, the boss is still an a*s, right?”Jane on the other line must have heard it too. “Yap! By now, Jane. I’ll call you later.” She finished her tea, then opened her email account on the computer. She completely ignored Shawn, knowing full well that the man was staring at her. His gaze burned her, yet she chose to resist it. Within minutes, she received notification of the accounting department’s email.
Their days ended up the same, ignoring each other until Shawn’s grandfather appeared after two months and announced that their wedding preparations were done and dusted.
Catherine’s life went from ordinary and boring to extremely vigorous, though she didn’t do anything aside from saying yes and agreeing to Shawn’s grandfather and their wedding coordinator, and even with the lockdown protocol, Richmond had managed to deal with all the necessary things to be done. After all, it was not a grand wedding, just a few people attending and some media coverage. She told Jane and Chelsea that the two had been bugging her since the news spread like wildfire.
A day before the wedding day, it was past midnight and Catherine, Jane, and Chelsea were in the back of the limo, roaming around the empty street like a freaking zombie apocalypse city. With champagne in their hands, they laugh and giggle. Catherine still believed tomorrow’s big day was going to be just a small affair, involving only a few elite friends of Richmond, a few jealous exes who would wear a luxurious face mask and the media.
For the past thirty minutes, she had been complaining that they were “wasting money” getting a limousine, which she viewed as a “luxury” for three people. Eventually, Chelsea had to shove a glass of champagne in her hand and say, “Seriously, Cath? You are going to marry a f*****g billionaire and you worry about us in the limo? Oh my God, chill, we didn’t even pay for it. Shawn asked Eddie and the sweet, sweet butler to arrange it.” Catherine thought it was time to tell them about her being married to Shawn Richmond two years ago? She shook her head and forgot about telling them, Jane stared at her. “You just asked Mr. Richmond for a limo and he gave you one?” Chelsea snorted. “Yes, we are his future wife’s best friends, so of course, he couldn’t say no.” She jerked a thumb at Catherine. “That would be Mrs.Catherine Richmond, try competing for that.”
They started to laugh. “Right. I forgot,” Jane said, laughing too. “So, Chelsea, are you finally going to tell me where we’re going or what? I’m assuming some sort of male strip club, but… it’s a lockdown, so no hopes there.” “Even better,” Chelsea promised. Like the bosses they are, they sipped champagne and lounged in the back of the limo while the city whizzed past them. They’re empty streets of boredom, and Catherine imagines invisible onlookers seeing them drive by and wondering who’s inside. It was a ghost town, so elite girls and gentlemen alike would possibly lose their minds if they knew the future Mrs. Richmond and her friends were behind these tinted windows. Not that she was famous, but nowadays, their wedding was the talk of the town, especially with people complaining about the virus, toilet paper being hoarded, and yet here they were, the rich getting married amid the pandemic, breaking protocols, and the authorities couldn’t do anything about it. “Jane, top me off,” Catherine mumbled, holding out her glass. Jane leaned over and poured some more bubbly into it. “We should be there soon,” Chelsea told them. She looked like she was trying not to grin. Catherine was also battling her excitement. This surprise was next-level incredible, especially coming from Chelsea. It took a lot of coordination and string-pulling, but miraculously, they were able to make it happen.”
“Oh, okay. Then, before we get there,” Chelsea began, shifting in her seat so she was facing them, “I need to talk to you about something else.”
Catherine wrinkled her forehead. “Please don’t tell us we are in trouble?”
“Of course not,” Chelsea affirmed as if her mind were floating with the idea of making Elizabeth jealous at the wedding tomorrow.
Jane intruded, “Hell… the b***h is invited?” “Catherine sighed and sipped her drink, “Yes, unfortunately.” “Why?”
“It’s Shawn’s idea.”
“Wow, he really wanted to get rid of the girl, huh? Is it true that she was his childhood girlfriend?” I don’t know. Nowadays, Shawn and I talk about nothing aside from the wedding and some issues in the company.”
Chelsea and Jane looked at each other and both sighed, “I’m sorry girl. I know, being conveniently married to a man you don’t love is hard.” Jane added. “I know…I’m just too confused these days.” Catherine replied. Was it really that hard? Yes, even harder because she loves the man, but of course, she doesn’t have the heart to tell her friends about it.
The two gawked at her.
Jane blinked in surprise. “Oh my goodness, you love him, don’t you!?” “Of course not. No way!Maybe… I- I don’t know…” She brought her glass to her lips, watching them over the rim as she took a sip. She doesn’t see any bullshit whatsoever in their eyes. “It’s complicated.”
“Oh, no!” Chelsea went to her side and hugged her… “You love him, girl, don’t you?” The two shared a knowing look, then hugged Catherine again. “I don’t know!” She exclaimed, feeling devastated. He settled her glass in the drink holder beside her, then rested both forearms on her knees and leaned forward, her expression serious. “I think I did… D**n it!”
“I don’t know, I woke up one day and… s**t!” Her mouth was set in a hard line as she pressed her lips together, trying not to cry. “Wait, really?” Chelsea inquired, and caressed her hair, “I thought you hated the man?” “Why not?” Jane said, “The man is rich and hot and those bulges were to die for.” Seriously, Jane? Not right now, OK?” “Come on, Chelsea… I’m just trying to lighten the situation here.”
“Don’t mind her Cath, but think about this. You won’t worry about being homeless anymore. Your job is still yours, right? And after the contract, you’ll get a hefty amount of compensation, right?” Chelsea asked.
“Then how about this: start owning these situations. Maybe being in love with him wasn’t a bad idea. After all, he doesn’t know this, right? Or have you been stupid enough to tell him what you feel?”
“Good now. Own this, Catherine, be a strong woman you ought to be.”
“But it’s hard,” she began sobbing. The pain, the worry, came rushing through like a tidal wave of emotions that made her want to just cry there and be done with it.
The two looked at each other and held Catherine’s hand.
Jane mumbled. “Don’t worry, girl, we will always be there for you. If you need some escape, we would love to share our time and our home with you. I thought you had a choice, but if you’ve
already signed the contract, then own it. Besides, it opens so many other doors, you know? Think about it. All of your incredible accomplishments could be shared with us if you and Shawn get married. We’ll be right there with the announcement of our third child. And when you share your own pregnancy, we’ll be there announcing our fourth.”
“…wait! Are you pregnant again, Jane?” Chelsea asked, and that halted them all.
“Oh, well… it was supposed to be a secret…”
“Why the hell did you drink the champagne? Jesus!” “I did not… Mine is just sparkling f*****g water. See… it’s not even bubbly enough.” Jane choked on her supposed champagne mid-sip as Chelsea narrowed her eyes. “Good, and vea point taken there.” “No, wait, it gets even better,” Jane muttered enthusiastically. “When you, Catherine, give birth to your first kid, guess who’ll be there? Again, Chelsea will be there on her own to introduce you to her new dog and newly acquired goldfish, who she’ll name after your baby to honor you. And when your kid grows up, graduates college gets engaged and has a wedding of their own, we’ll be sitting there in the front row. Faking a heart attack. Deal?” They burst out laughing. Chelsea shook her head and muttered in awe. “You had this in your life plan, didn’t you?” “Yes, of course,” Jane answered and pretended to sip her fake champagne elegantly. “See, Catherine? Didn’t I always tell you that she is the crazy one among us?” They break out into hysterical laughter again. “All right, thank you for being there with me, guys. I truly appreciate it,” She mumbled under a few tears. Ten minutes later, the limo slows down as they near their destination. When Catherine attempted to peer out the window, Chelsea slugged him in the arm and chided, “Hey! Not allowed.”
“Girls, are we killing someone and dumping their bodies in the river? I heard nothing… Just a f*****g river… or a pond.” Catherine’s forehead was knitted with interest and curiosity. “Don’t you worry about that, girl,” Jane mumbled mysteriously. “Don’t worry?” She snorted, “I’m always worried when you two plan something.”
Chelsea reached into her jeans’ pockets for the scarf she shoved in there earlier. “See… this is it… You’d be surprised, and yes, this is to blindfold you.”
Her eyebrows shoot up. “Hell no! Wait… No f*****g way.”
“So suspicious,” Jane grumbled and raised an eyebrow. Chelsea grinned. “Come on, girl, we promise this won’t end with you being thrown in a pool of naked men or anything.”
“Fine…” Catherine shook her head. She decided that maybe she could trust them because she bobbed and dutifully allowed Chelsea to secure the blindfold, as she tied it extra tight as vengeance for her keeping her secret. That’s a little bit tight.” Catherine grumbled under her breath.
“I know because you dare to keep a secret of falling in love without us knowing.”
“Jesus, I thought we were over that.”
After they hopped out of the limo, Jane took Catherine’s arm to guide her so she wouldn’t fall flat on her face. As they stepped toward the entrance of Chelsea’s chateau garden, with all the yoga girls giggling and waiting, Chelsea was bouncing up and down like a child on a sugar
high. Tonight wasn’t just for Catherine. It’s for all of them. Voices bounce off the open garden walls as they head down the burrow toward Chelsea’s locker s*****s. They were in the passage of the visitors’ area, which was the best that Chelsea could swing, decorated with candles and flowers, followed by the others, who seemed to be giggling again, but Catherine was sure as s**t not complaining. She recognized some of their voices. The yoga girls went above and beyond to grant Chelsea’s request. Clearly, being famous and rich in their group has its advantages.
A moment later, they reach the underground studio’s well-decorated room door. When Jane rapped her knuckles in a complicated knock, the voices beyond the door immediately went silent.
A blindfolded Catherine warily walked her head back and forth. “Oh my god, please tell me there are no spiders here. What the heck is going on…”
Chuckling, Chelsea opened the door, and Jane guided her inside. Jane almost squealed like a teenage girl at the sea of familiar faces that greeted them. It took all their willpower to stay quiet, and she saw her excitement reflected in everyone’s eyes. Chelsea held her finger to her lips, signaling to the group to keep their mouths shut. “Psst! You ready, girl?” Chelsea asked Catherine. “Oh, goodness me… I was born ready,” she drawled. Someone chuckled. –
The moment Catherine pushed the scarf down, leaving it draped around her neck, her breath hitched dashingly. Gaping like a dead fish, she stared at the almost naked twenty-odd girls filling the studio room. Then she broke out in the largest, giddiest smile they had ever seen. “OMG! Chelsea? Are you kidding me!? Everyone is here… And they are almost naked!?” She slapped her knee and held her hip like an old lady trying to hold herself upright, glee rolling off her in tides. “How did you do this?” she demanded as her astonishing stare spread over their yoga classmates. “And why are you all wearing summer swimming suits in winter?” They all laugh.
“I have four massive Jacuzzis here, girl, and the guest of honor is… HUGH!” Chelsea finished her words by turning on the music from the remote in her hand. Catcalling and wails echoed through the area, and many more giggled as their yoga instructor appeared from behind the massive red heart covered in condoms and started dancing, which made the ladies scream
“Oh my god.” Catherine could help but laugh wholeheartedly while Hugh winked at her as if telling him to keep their secret to herself. Oh, Jesus, if only they knew that he was gay. “I can’t believe you’re all here.” A dazed Catherine begins to greet her friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in days. “This is…” Catherine swears her eyes appear a bit watery now. “This is the greatest gift, you guys. I didn’t expect to see y’all here and,” She abruptly tightens, guilt crossing her face.
“Aw, s**t. Are you all staying for the reception tomorrow? You were all invited, but not everyone RSVP’d. I’m going to have to contact the wedding planner, Shawn, and… There was a
pause in her words, and her mind was clearly working hard to figure out how to deal with this new guest for tomorrow.
A few girls snickered and giggled at her visible anxiety. “Shooss Catherine, It’s all taken care of, ” Jane assured her. “We didn’t want you to know who was surprising you at this party, but don’t worry, the wedding planner and Shawn have all the RSVPs.” “He knew all about it,” Chelsea added, “so the planner knows we didn’t just dump twenty extra guests at your wedding.
“You two are my angels,” Catherine added as she hugged her best friends.