Authors: Mary Martinez
Tags: #General Fiction
Skye grinned, then nodded across the table at Fanny and Joy, tilted her head in Rae’s direction and continued. “We thought you wanted to celebrate with your BFFs before the formal bachelorette party.”
“No, not celebrate. I need to conspire with my
Best Friends Forever
before this farce goes any further.” Their questioning looks prompted her announcement. “I’m not marrying Chandler.”
Rae lifted her cocktail. “To Cecie, she found a loop hole, woohoo.”
“If I found one I wouldn’t need my friends to cover my back.” Cecelia raised her wine and clicked the glass to Rae’s all the same.
Then Skye lifted her drink to click. “I’ll cover your ass any day girlfriend.”
Joy tossed a glare in Skye’s direction, and then covered Cecelia’s other hand on the table with hers. “Of course, we’re BFFs. You need our help. What can we do?”
Cecelia took a deep breath. She was really going to do it. She was going to defy the great Broderick Wilson.
Did she have the courage? She looked around the table at her friends. They had been close since grade school. All coming from different backgrounds but somehow they’d ended up best friends.
Fanny, the other attorney in the pack, spoke up for the first time. “Remember when our friendship started?” She laughed. “First day of sixth grade, I’d just moved in. Cecie you dared me to steal Mr. Farris’s chewing tobacco out of his desk. You promised you’d be my new friend. I did. After school, you introduced me to your friends. We tried the awful stuff and made a pact to tell no one. Then we were sick for a week!”
“Yeah, well no one told us we weren’t supposed to swallow the shit,” Skye injected dryly.
Joy’s giggle matched her name perfectly. “Friends who throw-up together are friends for life.”
Skye tilted her head encouragingly. “The pact holds. Cecie tell us what you need. Nothing will leave this table. Whatever you have up your sleeve better not make us heave up a lung.”
After a chorus of agreeing, punctuated with a click of their glasses Cecelia asked, “Ready?”
“Got your back always,” her friends chorused. It had been so, since the tobacco incident. Cecelia had never questioned why a small incident had forged such a bond. Through the years, she’d always been grateful for it.
“Here goes.” Cecelia grinned at her lifelong friends.
“Wait a minute.” Joy leaned over the table as much as she could from a sitting position. “I thought if you didn’t go through with the wedding, your father would fire you from the firm and disinherit you.”
Cecelia sipped her wine, then set it on the table with a snap. “All true.”
“Damn. You lose everything, are you sure you want to do this Cecie?” Skye asked.
“Yes. I lose more than everything if I marry Chandler. I lose control, freedom to be happy, and my own identity. If I marry him, I will no longer be Cecelia Wilson. I’ll be
Mrs. Chandler Evans
He’ll always be the senior partner. It’s the way of Wilson and Evans. The
thing I won’t lose is the money and my position at the firm.”
Fanny shook her head, then sipped her drink. “It’s all so archaic.”
“Yes, and I don’t want to live like that, and neither does Chandler.” Cecelia stared out over the other customers. People milled around the dance floor waiting for the musicians. People who could choose what their life path would be and live on their own terms. She was about to become one of them.
It felt good to be doing something, instead of brooding. A flash of Bella with her twinkling beads flashed through her mind.
“…wondered,” Rae said.
“What, I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you asked.” Cecelia swallowed down her musings and brought her attention back to her friends.
Rae smiled, reached over and laid a hand over Cecelia’s. “I’ve always wondered why you were agreeable to such a sham. You’ve always been strong willed and known where you’re going with your career. Confident, everything I’ve always admired in a person. So why did you agree in the first place.”
How to answer? She regarded her four friends. These four women were the only people on earth who would understand the true reason.
“You were hoping for Broderick’s approval, weren’t you?” Skye raised a brow. She’d probably known the answer before Cecelia had figured it out.
“It took me awhile to figure out why I’d actually agreed in the first place.”
Joy sighed and shook her head. “Sweetie, you know you can tell us. Why don’t you get it off your chest?” She placed a hand on top of Rae’s.
Skye and Fanny placed their hands to join the others. They were a solid wall of support. Cecelia blinked back tears; she needed to hear the words herself. Somehow, that would give her permission to go through with her plan.
“At first, it was just a matter of…” She wiped at her eyes with a cocktail napkin. She needed to stop blubbering. “…just something I’d grown up with. You know? Then I had my first crush. And I was devastated because when he asked me to go to the dance Broderick forbade me to go.”
Skye gave a half cough, half humph with a nod of her head to continue.
“I believe that was when I began to fully understand what my parents expected of me. Still I wasn’t that upset I couldn’t go to the dance. Mostly it was that Broderick didn’t even want to meet the young man. Just ‘No’. But it wasn’t until law school that it smacked me upside the head.” With her free hand, she chugged a bit of wine. Not very lady like but she wasn’t feeling the part.
“Go on, I want to know why
law school you still agreed.” Fanny as the other attorney in the group wanted to know.
“Because I read the contract and I convinced myself that I didn’t have a choice.”
“Convinced yourself? That sounds like you had another reason,” Rae said.
Their hands still joined in the center of the table. Cecelia found the strength to continue.
Before she had a chance, Joy asked. “You weren’t falling for Chandler, were you?”
“God no. As I told him earlier today, I love him like a brother. Besides, he doesn’t love me either.”
“Then what?” Rae asked again.
Cecelia answered with a question. “What did you dream of when you were a little girl?”
“Hot boys.” Skye promptly threw out her answer.
Cecelia gave a short laugh. “You would. Didn’t you ever want to marry any of those hot boys?”
Skye gave an exaggerated shudder. “My turn to say
Her hand at the bottom of the pile was starting to feel uncomfortable, if emotionally comforting. She knew they were there for her. Cecelia leaned back gently pulling her hand out and signaled the waitress in one motion. “Another round please?”
All her friends leaned back and settled in to listen to the rest of her tale. Of course, they waited for fresh drinks. She smiled inwardly. Some things would never change.
“Well go on.” Joy demanded after she’d taken her first sip of her pink something or other.
“I remembered as a little girl, dreaming of my wedding day. I don’t remember the groom. I don’t think I ever dreamt of one because it’s always been planned. But I remember my father.”
Fanny raised a brow. “I think this is the first time I’ve heard you say
instead of Broderick.”
True, he was Broderick, not her father. “In my dream he was my father. I was his precious little girl. Even though I was a grown woman by then,” Cecelia said. She took a quick sip to compose herself so her voice wouldn’t quiver when she continued. “He’d extend his elbow and I’d place my hand in the crook of it. The wedding march would sound and he’d whisper, ‘Are you ready, princess? Your prince is waiting.’ And I would smile at him through my happy tears and nod. And then I’d wake up. My pillow drenched, my face covered in tears. And as the years passed and I’d have the same dream, eventually I’d wake and I’d feel as if I’d been in a nightmare because the dream was something I wanted almost more than I could breathe, and knew it would never happen.” A tear splashed on her hand, she hadn’t even realized she’d was crying.
All four reached for her hand at the same time. Again, the solid wall of support surrounded her. She leaned her head on Skye’s shoulder for a moment while she pulled herself together.
Sucking in a gallon of air she straightened, she needed to finish so she could share her plan.
“Cecie, what happened in law school that changed?” Joy asked, patting her hand before she released it and took a sip.
“I knew Chandler dated other women, I wasn’t jealous. However, I figured I could do the same. Oh,
“Broderick?” Skye asked.
“Yes, apparently I was carefully watched. After all the great Broderick Wilson couldn’t deliver tarnished goods to the Evans prized son, now could he? I had met a guy and we went for coffee after one of my classes. He asked me to go out on the weekend and I said sure.”
“And? Don’t keep us in suspense.” Fanny leaned in as if she hung on each word.
“I have to take a breath now and then you know,” Cecelia joked. “I still don’t know how Broderick’s watch dog knew what day my date was for, but I have never been so humiliated in my life. There was a knock on my door and of course I thought it was my date a few minutes early. But no it wasn’t. I’d never seen the man before and I almost didn’t open the door. But he was in a business suit, and looked respectable. I opened up and asked if I could help him. He said that Mr. Wilson had sent him. I raised a brow and waited for him to continue.
“I remember the words as if it were yesterday. ‘Cecelia Wilson, you will not go out with that young man tonight. You are not allowed to see other men. Chandler would be very disappointed as I’m sure you know, I am at this moment.’ Then the guy turned and stood in front of my door. Like an armed guard. Yes, he had a gun.”
“Did he stay there?” Joy asked.
“Bastard.” Skye shot back the rest of her tequila.
“Did your date show up?” Rae added her question in. Only Fanny refrained.
“Yes, he did stay. And yes, my date showed up and was not allowed past my bodyguard. He never spoke to me again. I don’t know what he was told.”
“So that’s why you agreed to the contract?” Fanny finally spoke.
“No, that is when I first realized that no amount of dreaming would bring Broderick to his senses and be the father I’d always wanted. And that’s when I convinced myself I didn’t have a choice. One of Broderick’s watchdogs would always be there to make sure I did what was dictated. Since then he’s let up on his vigilance, or this would never work. I thought I’d reconciled myself to my life sentence...” Cecelia had never put into words her emotions. It felt good. “…marriage to Chandler. Then I saw a glimpse of the fairytale when I picked out my dress.” The weight flew off her shoulders. Her four best friends knew how she felt. Even her mother had never cared to ask.
“What are you going to do?” Rae Asked.
“I’m going to tell all of you how you can help.”
“Name it.” Rae pulled her purse open and pulled out a pencil and paper from the compartment. “Where do you want to start?”
Fanny raised her hand, her tone matter-of-fact. “Wait one minute. I thought your accounts would be frozen if you didn’t marry Chandler. How are you going to live?”
“You’re an attorney. How did you start out?” Cecelia wanted to make a point to the others.
“Not like you, I didn’t have a cushy job at a law firm when I finished school.” Fanny’s tone didn’t reflect any envy, just reality. Then her gaze narrowed.