Cold Feet/C14 Chapter 14
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Cold Feet/C14 Chapter 14
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C14 Chapter 14

RICK

“So, what are you waiting for? What better way to make an example of the joke his daughter’s marriage is by tearing a wedding planner’s business down along with the wedding that blew up in her and everyone’s face?”

“I did not suggest that they should sue you. I went there because I thought they only wanted to hire me for the divorce.”

Viola shrugs. “If not you, it would be someone else anyway. This will give you the vindication you need for your beliefs.”

“Look, I didn’t want to do this at your expense,” I reply.

“But you’ve been asked to and you will, because it’s what you do.” Viola sits forward and places her chin on her hand. Her eyes are narrowed again and she smiles cynically. “Look on the bright side.”

“What’s that?” I ask. I don’t see how there is any bright side to this at all. Not for her at least.

“At least you get to fuck me after all. Whether I want it or enjoy it doesn’t matter.”

I shake my head in disappointment. “You should do something about your language,” I say.

“It’s how I talk when I’m having sex,” she replies calmly, her gaze ice-cold wanting me to know I’ll never get the chance to be with her now.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

“Really? It doesn’t matter Rick. You see, this is at my expense. Let me fill you in on what’s happened since that reporter aired the news about the wedding and took an ax to wedding planners everywhere…”

I say nothing but hold her gaze thinking how beautiful her eyes are and watching her soft lips moving as she talks. I’m losing concentration again and force myself to listen.

“…I’ve had client after client call and cancel. Do you know that I operate on the basis of no refund once the deposit has been paid? Do you know what I’ve been doing all morning?”

I don’t answer but shake my head.

“I’ve been refunding deposits. Every. Single. One. My calendar is open from today to two months from now and it’s opening up more and more as every minute passes. You have never seen a wedding planner that’s been more available than me.”

I swallow guiltily.

“But hey, it’s not your fault. Do you know why I went to see George this morning?”

“No, but I guess you’re about to tell me.”

She ignores my sarcasm and continues, “I went to give him his money back. All of it. Every dime. I’ve paid the suppliers from my pocket and I will charge him for nothing.”

“Did he take it?”

“You’re here aren’t you? Do you think he took it?” she asks her tone making it clear she expects me to know the answer. I can see the anger flare in her eyes.

She gets up and crosses to her handbag that is sitting on the floor beside the dining table. She picks it up and removes an envelope from it. She returns and sits down again. She sets the envelope on the table and pushes it towards me.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“It’s George’s check. I would like to ask you to take it and offer it to him again.”

I smile. She seems so cute with her request.

“You think it’s funny?” she asks.

I shake my head. “No. It’s just that I don’t work for you.”

“I’m aware of that Rick, but here’s the truth. I may be offering to refund his money but there were still costs that had to be paid. I paid for them so I’m already running at a loss from Trish’s wedding. I can’t do more than that. I have very little funds left after seeing my entire pipeline of business wiped out for the next two months. The cancellations are still coming and there really aren’t that many clients left. I’m facing bankruptcy so I suggest that you take this check back to your client and ask him to accept it as settlement of the pain Trish has suffered because of me because if he doesn’t accept it now, it’s not going to bankable pretty soon.”

I pull the envelope towards me and take out the check. I am shocked to see the amount on it. I raise my eyebrows in surprise.

“What?” she asks.

“That’s a lot of money. How much is your share?”

“Half,” Viola replies.

“Half?” I ask in disbelief and then repeat it. “Half?”

“You seem to have a problem with that,” Viola says matter of factly.

“That’s a lot for your share,” I say.

Her eyes narrow and she moves to the edge of her seat. “And who are you to judge what’s a lot? What’s your markup?”

“I didn’t mean that you charge too much…”

“… How much?” she interrupts insistently.

“Half,” I say sheepishly.

“And yet you think I charge too much?” she asks in disbelief. Then she holds up her hand. “Oh wait. Of course it’s too much. Because I deal in making people happy. I work on making the happiest day of a couple’s life, their happiest day ever while you work to make it a regrettable memory.”

“Look, I’m sorry. I never meant to belittle you or what you do…” I say.

“No. You just think that everyone else is beneath you. You went to university for how many years but there’s no degree for wedding planners. Why should I make good money when I never slaved away at a degree as you have? In case you haven’t heard, the service industry commonly generates margins of fifty percent. You provide a service and I provide a service. Besides, I am offering your client all his money back so what do you care? That’s where your interest ends.”

“Does it?” I feel my anger rising now. “I don’t have to accept the full refund and take it back as an offer. I can sue you for more which is exactly what George wants.”

“How much do you want? Do you want the house? My car? My underwear? I’m pretty sure you’d like that. Oh wait, you’re not suing me, your client is. Maybe you can get your client to sue me for my underwear anyway and then he can pay you with it!”

“What the hell has your underwear got to do with this?”

“Do you think I didn’t catch you enjoying the view down my blouse earlier? As I recall you still have my panties which by the way, I was able to afford because of what I charge my clients. You didn’t worry about how much they cost when you took them.”

I blush. She really is feisty, I think to myself. She holds nothing back when she’s angry. I shake my head.

“I’m sorry,” I say reining in my anger.

“Very professional don’t you agree?”

I don’t answer and my silence seems to take the wind from her sails. She sighs and looks out of the windows to the garden again.

“You’re not the only one who’s given notice of intention to sue so I suggest if you want anything for your client, that you take that settlement check. I’m guessing by the time this is all over the lawyers will be picking over what’s left of my assets. I’m filing for bankruptcy and closing shop.”

And there it is. The harsh reality of what people in my line of business do. “What do you mean other people intend to sue you?”

She smiles wistfully and finally looks back at me as she works hard to blink back tears. She swallows a few times before she finally trusts herself to speak.

“I would have thought you could figure that one out. The couples who used me as their wedding planner and who have since gotten divorced. They’re suing. Many of them.”

“How? Why?”

“Because they claim I had my wedding whisperer intervene when they got cold feet and thus pushed them to go ahead with a wedding they would otherwise not have had. They’re suing for emotional trauma and heaven only knows what other bullshit claims they want to lodge. They will win and there is no way I can ever pay the claims that will be filed against me. So much for trying to do good for others. When this is all over, I’ll never work as a wedding planner again.”

I’m speechless. I never stopped to think that there might be other people that wanted to sue Viola.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

“Thanks, but I can’t bank sympathy,” she says looking out the window. “Do you want the check or not?”

“Can you give me a few minutes? Let me call George.”

She nods as she continues to look out the window. I stand and cross to the sliding door that leads to the garden. I step outside and dial George’s number on my phone. He answers quickly and I explain the situation to him. After some consideration, George accepts the refund as settlement. After he hears that Viola’s business and reputation are finished, he seems satisfied.

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