Being Inspired, maybe - 68

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

I hated the idea of dressing up.  

It was bad enough that I had to wear a suit every day to work, but changing into a tuxedo after a long day at the office, just to shake hands with a few of Celeste's family was almost too much.

Especially since most of them didn't like me, and took every chance to tell her marrying me was her biggest mistake.

She had booked a room in the best hotel, not far from the pier where a large replica paddle steamer was waiting to 'cruise' the river and host a party, her younger sisters engagement to a self-made billionaire about the same age as me.

He was a smug self-serving little shit, but I doubt anyone agreed with me.  To her family money was money, no matter what shape it took 

Our family once had money, but that all seemed to disappear on bad investments and stock market crashes, leaving us with a name, and the prestige that came with it, not the sort of family that her family considered suitable.

But, then, Celeste had more commonsense that the rest of her family put together.  Getting a room with two bathrooms also showed her practical side.  She was making an effort to shine.

I was ready, and loitering near her bathroom, watching the transformation.  Most days she liked the idea of being casual, but when she had to play dress-ups, like tonight, it was often enough to take my breath away.

Tonight was going to be no exception, and I just hoped Monique, the younger sister, didn't accuse her of trying to upstage her in what was surely going to be an entrance to remember.

Oddly enough, there was no love lost between them, and everything was a battle with no middle ground.  She was as equally self-serving as her intended husband and it was going to be interesting watching the family dynamics.

"I'm sure you realize this is going to be an event in more ways than just being an engagement party."

We'd already had a long discussion about the party, and it seemed to me that since the announcement, Celeste had acquired an annoyance, but I wasn't sure it was with her sister, or her mother, with whom she had an equally tempestuous relationship.

"It's just another party, David.  That's what my mother said."

"And you believed her?"

"What I believe and what I think are two entirely different things."

The hair was done.  I'd come to realize in the time I'd known Celeste, is that until the hair is in place, nothing was going to happen.  Many a time schedule had been shattered over that hair, and I'd lost count of the times we had been late.

Of course, and as much as I hated to say it, sometimes I thought it deliberate, so she could make an entrance.  Those times I hated being in the limelight, but unfortunately, it came with the territory.

I was hoping she was not going to do that tonight, and upstage her sister.  The dress she had chosen was stunning.  It could only mean one thing.  The battle lines had been drawn.

In it, she made another breathtaking moment.

I had to ask, "Are we going to be on time, or late?"

"What do you think?"

A question answered with a question.  And a wicked smile.

I sighed.  It was going to be hell on earth.

It wasn't far from the hotel to the boat.  We could have walked it, notwithstanding the gown and cape that went with the ensemble, but we took a stretched limousine right to the top of the gang away, causing other guests to move out of t the way.

I could see the party was in full swing and nearly all of the guests were aboard.  Monique would be waiting for the last guest to arrive before she made her entrance, so no doubt she was cursing her sister by now.

I helped Celeste out of the car, thanked the driver, and we waited for the car to leave and the last of the guests to arrive.  There were two desks to the boat, and we would boats on the top deck and then go down a sweeping staircase to the lower deck where the festivities were.

Not too so similar to the old ballroom entrances in times past.  I wondered if there was a footman calling out the names of the guests, and a line of family members we had to shake hands with?

At the top of the gangway, an assistant took the cape and we moved towards the top of the stairs.  Yes, a footman, dressed appropriately, announcing the guests on arrival.

They'd gone all out on replicating 19th century England, right down to the string quartet greeting the guest on arrival.

"This really is over the top, even for your family," I said.

We moved to the top of the stairs.

"Isn't it though."  Then came the wicked smile and I knew something was about to hit the fan.

The footman took my invitation and read the names, "Sir David and Lady Celeste Braithwaite."

Yes, I thought, letting her go first descending the stairs as if she was floating down them, a hushed silence descending over the crowd below, something none of her family had, a title, and the prestige that came with it.

Her sister no matter how stunning she presented herself could match that.

And, as for her mother, if looks could kill I think both of us would be dead.  But, as they say in the classics, the night is young.

© Charles Heath 2019


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