At ten o’clock in the morning, Catherine was awakened and ushered by Eddie to the living room, where she asked for a small breakfast. Arriving in the grand living room, Catherine Brown, soon to be Catherine Richmond, was one of those obnoxiously attractive women who turned every head when she walked into a room. She had curly, glossy blonde hair, bottomless, deep cobalt eyes, and a perfect body that showed no signs of stress as she sauntered down the stairs. If they didn’t know her, they probably hated her. Or, at the very least, die of jealousy. And not only was she remarkable, but she was about to get married to one of the richest men in London.
Jane thought that some people were just born lucky. “Oh, Cathy, what the hell happened to your eyes? You look dead… Where is the makeup artist? Cover that eye-bag girl.” “They are on the way. I’m too tired and hungry to wait. I could use a f*****g sandwich now.” She replied as she yawned and looked around. “Here, girly, take this cookie,” Jane replied, seized the Peppa Pig little bag her daughter had from the side table and took cookies from the ziplock. “Thank God, you’re an angel, Jane. I wasn’t able to wake up for breakfast, but I already notified Eddie.”
“Well, thank goodness I wasn’t drunk…” Jane retorted with a smile. “By the way, this mansion is amazing. Our room is massive and the kids love it,” Jane mumbled, as she watched her friend, still yawning. Still, it was very hard to dislike Catherine once one got to know her. She was a ride-or-die kind of friend, devoted to the core and crazier than her aloof exterior implied. When she entered the private living room, a brilliant smile lit up her face. As if it was an immediate exhilaration to find all of them here. However, Chelsea, who seemed still exhausted and was complaining of a headache, was ignoring them even though she’d helped plan this. “I can’t believe you’re all here. Where are the others?” An uncharacteristic remark of excitement quivered in Catherine’s voice. She was usually calm as an apple. Self-assured. She doesn’t get emotional. But Jane was pretty sure tears were clinging to her impossibly long lashes as she clutched little Sarah in her arms as she bit her cookie. “I could use some coffee with this to wake me up. My headache is killing me too.” “You too?” Chelsea grumbled and took half-eaten cookies from Catherine and finished them with a very unladylike mouthful that made little Sarah giggle. The four-year-old, meanwhile, was clamoring to get down from Catherine and not get squeezed to death by her mom’s best friend’s arms.
At Catherine’s request, the guest list was kept small, so their little group barely made a dent in the large, elegant living room of the Richmond mansion; after all, Catherine has never been a social butterfly, though. She worked her way through college, supporting her brother Dave, which didn’t leave her much time for socializing. Their little group today consisted of Jane, Chelsea, Dave, and their two roommates, and five of the yoga girls who volunteered as additional makeup warriors. But it was Sarah, Jane’s little amazing daughter, who captured
everyone’s attention. The toddlers have Jane’s brown and dark red hair and her husband’s big chocolate-brown eyes.
The two were the perfect combination of the two of them, and Catherine sighed if she would ever experience some sort of family-like Jane.
She did not doubt that her own child would be just as beautiful. But knowing that this marriage was just for the papers, there was no hope for her dream. Besides, as Shawn mentioned last night on the patio, after their party, she had a long conversation with Hugh on the phone. And her accidental husband was not expecting her to treat him like a real husband when they were not in front of everybody. In fact, he insisted that she could still have her room, and he had given her enough freedom to do whatever she wanted to do as long as she was discreet about it, and told her that she could keep her private life confidential and away from prying eyes.
How dare he? Catherine was, of course, furious, but she didn’t voice it. She could do whatever she wanted? Jesus, what the hell was it supposed to mean? It was not like she would have an extramarital relationship with someone else; she was not like that, for heaven’s sake. Shawn, on the other hand, insisted, the nerve… Was it just his way of telling her that he could do whatever he wanted with his private life as well? That he could still f**k someone else? In his personal life? D**n it! She was now so stressed because of it.
D**n if it didn’t hurt. Her already shattered heart had broken into a million tiny pieces again. However, as Chelsea said last night, she had to own this, head high and chin up. Her reverie was interrupted by Sarah’s shrieking before flinging a pair of chubby arms around her knees. “Aunt Cathy,… Why do you look sad?”
“Me? Of course not, little princess.”
“You’re not fine, aren’t you, Auntie?” This morning, the little girl was wearing a pink dress with a tutu skirt, her hair arranged in two pigtails.
Catherine bent down so she could hug her properly. “I am happy, sweetheart, I’m about to wear a little princess dress like you today, what makes you think I’m sad?” she asked, while Chelsea and Jane looked at each other.
“Because your eyes are sad,” Sarah replied with a pout that made Catherine heave her left brow. “Oh my goodness, is that a tiara?” She mumbled instead, trying to keep the little one away from her eyes. She pretended to admire the sparkling golden crown atop her ginger head. Maybe her eyes never knew how to lie. Even Sarah noticed it.
“Ya! Uncle Dave got it for me!” Proudly, Sarah shows the tiara off to the whole group, as they all ooh and aah consequently. Then the rest of the girls gossip about each other until a well-dressed butler comes and says that tea and Catherine’s breakfast will be served soon.
“Are you excited, little one?” Jane asked her daughter. “We’re about to have tea, and Aunt Cathy here will have her make-up later. Like Elsa and Anna.”
“Like Frozen!?” Sarah shouted, “I’m excited,” “All right, so behave yourself and play with uncle Dave while Mommy and the many aunts put on make-up, okay?”
“OK, mommy.” They all settled around the beautiful table in their assigned seats. The little girl was between Jane and Catherine, with Chelsea and Dave, who was playing on his phone directly across from them. “Where is the little boy?” Chelsea asked. “Still asleep with his father. Thank the gods for that. We don’t want him talking about Paw Patrol the whole time.” Jane added with a foolish smile. The moment Sarah settled into her little seat, she tried to snag a teacup off the crisp, white flowery tablecloth on the beautifully set table. Jane negotiated like a pro in a flash, blocking Sarah’s hand as competently as a goalie making a clutch keep. “No, no, t-this cup is Aunt Catherine’s,” she mumbled, moving the marvelous china toward the grinning butler with a wonderful smile. “This one’s for you, little girl.”
Catherine hid a smile. Sarah’s cup was clearly made of plastic.
“Don’t laugh Catherine, trust me, this is way better. We’re going through a butcher stage,” Jane explained, catching her knowing smile. “No expensive china for this little one. Trust me, it’ll cost a fortune to replace all the cups she dropped. Her father will kill me.” As the two servers appeared to pour our tea, Jane noticed Catherine was looking a bit pale. She nudged her gently. “Gurl, you look pale… My daughter isn’t kidding; you look awful. You okay? “She murmured “I’m fine, just a bit queasy,” she mumbled. “Not sure though,” she added as she wolfed down an entirely loaded bacon and omelet right before their very eyes. “Maybe I’m just hungry. I’m a bit nauseous though.” “Ow! You should have this mint tea… or, I believe, one of these black teas. That’ll help with the queasiness.” Jane glanced at the free female server who was addressing them. “You said something about black? Can we try that one, please?” “Of course, milady.” “It smells so good,” Chelsea muttered as she brought the teacup to her mouth. She took a dainty little sip. “Love this, This is perfect. Just what I need to get rid of this headache.” Across the table, Sarah adorably mimics her. “Mmmm!” The little girl announced, slurping her tea. “Perfect, just what I need.” Everyone’s trying not to laugh. “She likes tea?” Catherine mumbled from Jane’s other side, sounding surprised. “It’s not too bitter for her?”
“It’s sweet black jello juíce, Aunt Cathy,” Sarah grumbled, grinning.
Jane said, “There’s no way I’m pumping this child full of caffeine. Are you out of your mind?”
“Come on, Jane, there’s decaf, right? Well, just add more sugar for her to stop grinning,” Catherine pointed out and wolfed ham and eggs.” “Girl, I’m not taking the chance. Believe me, she accidentally devoured one. Not after last month’s mini coffee brownies. She was so wired, I almost took her to the clinic.”
The servers brought the first round of biscuits and sandwiches on extraordinary two-tiered trays. And for the next hour and a half, the trays kept coming, and the makeup artist and hairdresser arrived and started their little torture. “Catherine? You look, OK girl?” Now it’s Chelsea who inquires, “You are so pale…” “I’m fine, just a little giddy. I feel like I’m about to vomit… I’m a bit dizzy as well.”
“Yes, maybe it’s the champagne last night. Do you happen to have iron multivitamins? I forgot to take mine.”
“I have one here,” uttered one of the yoga girls as she went to rampage through her handbag and gave one to Catherine. “I’m also anemic. I carry this all the time, especially when I was pregnant.”
“Are you pregnant, Aunt Cathy?” Sarah asked, pausing next to her chair. She was shocked by the question. Catherine was taken aback. How? Was it possible? And knowing that, and now she remembered, her period hasn’t come yet. It was supposed to come by this week, or was it simply the result of her recent stress? Oh God! no! Please be stressed … she silently prayed. Dave, however, was fighting to ask her, knowing that she was already married to Shawn and that something happened between them a month ago on the mountain. Catherine answered the little girl, “I’m not… of course… I’m just a little sick, princess. Thank you for asking.” “You’re welcome.” With a big, beaming smile, Sarah moved to the next seat, which happened to belong to Dave. “Are you okay, uncle Dave?” she inquired. Dave’s lips twitched. “I’m doing great, little pet.” “If Aunt Cathy is pregnant, I’m no longer your little pet and I’ll be sad.” Chelsea and Jane paused and looked at each other while everyone else was busy drinking tea for makeup.”Don’t worry, you are still my little pet,” Dave replied, and he kissed the little girl on the cheeks and lifted his brow at Catherine.
Their servers returned to top off everyone’s teacups, and the conversation shifted from Sarah to tonight’s wedding reception. The ceremony itself was taking place about an hour before that, but it was a private event. Just Shawn and Catherine, and Shawn’s grandfather.
This was a fact that Chelsea was pouting over. “I can’t believe we won’t get to see her recite her vows.”
Jane snorted. “Seriously, Chelsea?” Jane whispered, “It’s not like real, real. So s**k it up and stop making Catherine hope for something else. She is already hurting.”