Cold Feet/C12 Chapter 12
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Cold Feet/C12 Chapter 12
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C12 Chapter 12

VIOLA

He sees me, smiles and winks, and then his face becomes serious as he shakes his head almost imperceptibly with what I believe is disappointment. I have never seen someone try on so many expressions so fast. I feel my gut twist. I’m sure he is here because of me, and I’m sure he’s coming for me. I feel sick as I feel myself flush like a child scolded in public even though no-one has said anything.

George greets Rick and shakes his hand. He watches him leave before closing the door and then waves to me indicating I should follow him as he heads back to the living room.

We enter the living room and my eyes meet Emma. She seems to have aged overnight. She looks at me with sadness. I see the pain of someone who feels betrayed in her eyes.

George crosses to Emma and gently takes her hand. They sit down on the sofa together and George pats her hand reassuringly.

“Please have a seat,” George says looking at me.

I sit down but only on the edge of the single-seater sofa, behind me.

“Mr. and Mrs. Benton, I came here to tell you how truly sorry I am for what happened last night. I expect that you’ve heard the news by now. You must…”

Emma looks up her eyes suddenly hard. “What were you thinking?” she asks her voice rising steadily as she speaks. “What in heavens name made you believe talking anyone out of cold feet when they’re getting married was a good idea?”

“Experience has shown me that people get cold feet. When the bride or groom or both get cold feet, they do eventually get married. I did what I did because I know how hard it is to get people to come from so many different places at such an expense only to be disappointed if the wedding doesn’t go ahead.”

“Do you think I care?” Emma asked. “Do you think I care about the cost? I care about my daughter. She is everything that matters.”

“I understand Mrs. Benton. Trish is the most important person in this situation and I am truly sorry…”

“It’s easy to say sorry after the damage has been done. Sorry makes nothing right. Trish will live with the scars of yesterday for all of her life.”

“I know. I am truly sorry. I was wrong. I can’t go back and change what happened and I am truly sorry. Please forgive me…”

“…forgive you? Forgive you?” Emma’s voice rises as she speaks. I see spittle fly from her mouth as she turns a lighter shade of purple. “You dare to come in here and make this about you? How dare you ask for forgiveness? You knew… you knew Trish had doubts and a valid reason for those doubts and yet you pushed her to go through with it. How embarrassing do you think it is to stand in a reception full of guests who toast you and your husband only to be in the front of the same people ten minutes later when the groom is caught with his… his… fucking dick in that… that tart?”

“I’m sorry, Mrs.…”

“Shut up!” Emma says. “Have you ever been married? Have you?”

I shake my head.

“So, you don’t have a clue about what it means to get married? You don’t have a clue what it takes to arrange a wedding for someone unless you’ve been there yourself. It should have been the first question we asked.”

“I beg to differ Mrs.…”

“You are not a wedding planner. You are a wedding bully! If it’s the last thing I do, I will see you, your name, your business flushed away to the sewers but before I do that, I’ll make damn sure everyone knows you’re…”

“… Emma…” George tries to stop his wife but she brushes his hand away.

“…shit!” she finishes vehemently.

George grasps Emma’s hand quickly and squeezes it. “Honey, calm down. Please. Let me talk.”

“Why? Don’t you support me?” Emma asks angrily rounding on her husband. He does not reply but I imagine the look on his face is one she knows well or perhaps one she has never seen before but knows it means that she needs to back off.

Emma stands and storms from the living room.

Silence settles over us. I want to talk but I’m afraid to do so will be the wrong thing to do.

George finally speaks. “Do you know who the gentleman was who left when you arrived?”

I nod. “Yes,” I say. My voice is almost a whisper.

“We called him to arrange Trish’s divorce.”

“I’m sorry. I truly am…”

George ignores me and continues speaking, “… we’ve also spoken with him about the possibility of suing you after what we’ve seen on the television this morning.”

I feel the blood drain from my face. The fear that kept me up all night has just become a harsh reality. I feel like a spectator as I watch my dream catch fire in my mind’s eye. My dream. My livelihood.

“Please Mr. Benton,” I say as I grab my handbag, open it and remove the envelope with the check. “I came here to refund you all the money you paid me for my services. I believe you must be very disappointed and under the circumstances, I don’t believe it’s fair to take your money. Just please don’t sue me. I realize what I did was wrong but I did it at the time to ensure that weddings don’t get canceled at the last minute causing great financial loss and inconvenience.”

George looks at me as if I am crazy. Finally, he speaks, “Have you ever been in love?”

“Yes,” I reply hesitantly.

He shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”

“I don’t understand sir,” I respond.

“If you have ever been in love, you would know that love is the most important thing, always. Money, inconvenience, anything and everything else aside from love, especially on a couples wedding day, is worthless in comparison to a couple’s love. It’s the day when they take the step to love and commit to each other for the rest of their life. Money is trash compared to that. It doesn’t matter what happens on that day, as long as what happens on that day leaves the bride, and hopefully the groom happy too. But you are telling me that you don’t see it that way.”

“Sir, I thank you for enlightening me regarding your perspective and I must say I agree with you. Nevertheless, I am concerned about the costs. They aren’t everything but if I wasn’t cost-conscious it wouldn’t be fair to you. The cost is secondary but from me to you, I do have consideration for it. I do not doubt though that if I was in your shoes, I would see it as you do.”

George studies me for a moment. “Was that reporter right about all the incentives given to wedding planners?”

“It happens in many cases,” I reply.

“And do you benefit from them?”

“I could but I don’t.”

“Why is that?” George asks.

“Because I don’t want the incentives for myself. I negotiate the incentives so that the client gets the benefit. It’s how I am always able to offer good prices. I also never negotiate incentives until the wedding couple has chosen the venue. Only then do I negotiate before I tell the venue or supplier that they have been selected by my client.”

“You expect me to believe that?” George asks with disbelief.

I nod. It’s true. I know the damage that reporter has done to the industry but I am not guilty of it. “You can audit me if you want.”

George smiles sardonically, “For someone who is facing a lawsuit, you’re making a lot of promises that we can benefit from. If I were you, I’d be careful with what I promise.”

I sigh. I place the envelope on the coffee table between us. “That’s a check for my fees. Your money returned in full. I am sorry, truly sorry for everything that you have suffered and I hope you can forgive me. I also hope you will not sue me but will accept this as a settlement. In all honesty, I am one of the best wedding planners in the city. I take immense pride in what I do and I am sure that if you take the news report out of the picture you would see that I did an excellent job of everything except for coaxing Trish to go ahead with the wedding. It’s the worst thing and I’m sorry. In truth, I don’t make that much money and if you sue me, I’m sure my business won’t survive. I probably couldn’t pay the amount that would be awarded to you and I would have to file for bankruptcy. I’m sorry Mr. Benton.”

George looks at me and says nothing. Then he reaches across the table and pushes the check back to me.

“Our lawyer told us not to take any money from you. I’ll discuss this with him and Emma and we’ll be in touch or Rick, our lawyer will. Good day, Viola.”

George looks at me and I finally pick up the envelope, return it to my handbag and stand to leave.

“Good day Mr. Benton.”

He makes no move to stand so I turn and see myself out.

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