Cold Feet/C15 Chapter 15
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Cold Feet/C15 Chapter 15
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C15 Chapter 15

RICK

I go back inside and tell Viola that George has agreed to accept the refund. I remove a standard letter of settlement from my briefcase, fill in the details by hand and have Viola sign the agreement.

She signs it and makes sure I have the check.

“Thanks,” I say.

“Thank you,” she replies.

I hesitate and then venture to offer her a suggestion. “You can fight this, all the other lawsuits.”

“And I suppose you want me to appoint you as my lawyer?”

I shake my head. “I’m not thinking of that. I’m just saying you can fight this. You can’t settle everyone’s claims.”

“I don’t intend to. I’m filing for bankruptcy.”

“But you’re not…”

“… Not insolvent?” She asks and laughs cynically. “For a lawyer, you make too many assumptions. I guess now that you know what my fee for Trish’s wedding was, you reckon I must be rolling in money. This house is mortgaged to the hilt. I owe money on my car. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills I need to pay. My business has just dried up in less than twenty-four hours and you reckon I’m not insolvent? Well, I’ve been insolvent for a long time. I just never made it official but now I will.”

“Wait, are you sick?” I ask confused.

“Do I look sick?” she asks sarcastically.

“No, no, you said you have thousands of dollars in medical bills to pay…”

“… my mother’s care before she died.”

“I’m sorry,” I say again. “I had no idea.”

“I didn’t expect you to,” she says looking me in the eyes. There is sadness there, and pain, but most of all there is an icy coldness to her gaze. I think that she is blocking her emotions as much as she can.

I nod. Then I put the settlement letter and check in my briefcase and stand. “Thank you. I’m sorry. I think I should be going.”

She says nothing but stands and walks to the door ahead of me. Again, I have the opportunity to enjoy the sway of her hips and the sight of her long legs but somehow it doesn’t have the same effect on me as when I arrived.

She opens the door and I step out.

“Thank you,” I say again. She does not reply and I hear the door close behind me as I walk to my car.

VIOLA

I hear Rick’s car start and heave a sigh of relief.

It’s been the morning I feared. I receive call after call from people threatening to sue me or just wanting to rant and blame the fact that their marriages failed on me. Cancellation after cancellation has followed and I have watched my business being choked to death in a matter of hours.

I call an estate agent who regularly leaves pamphlets in my mailbox. The agency is proactive so I decide to get them in and explore having them list the house for sale.

They answer the phone promptly and I am soon put through to an agent who arranges to meet me at two pm. As I put the phone down, the doorbell rings. I wish I had a fence and gates in front of the property. Too late for that now, I think to myself as I open the door without checking who it is.

It’s the reporter from the television report.

She smiles superficially. I see the cameraman behind her. No doubt the camera is rolling already.

“Good morning Miss Hughes.”

“I’m Dana Rothschild,” she says. “Can we come in?”

I step outside and pull the door closed behind me. “No, you can’t. We can talk outside.”

She smirks. “As you wish. I assume you know why I’m here.”

I don’t reply.

“I wanted to get your side of the story on the wedding fiasco last night.”

“I think the video of the groom and bridesmaid says it all don’t you think?” I say.

Dana ignores me. “Do you deny using a wedding whisperer at the wedding yesterday?”

“I have no idea what a wedding whisperer is,” I say feigning ignorance for the term. I am amazed at how far it has traveled since Steve introduced me to the term. I realize that Dana has either spoken to Steve or Christine. I guess that it’s Christine. There’s nothing I can do about it. Much to my frustration, it’s gone viral and I guess I will always be associated with it. I have seen memes all over social media already with people making their interpretation of a wedding whisperer. I just don’t want to give Dana the pleasure of feeling that she has created a title that has gone viral.

“The wedding whisperer, the person you used to coax the bride, or occasionally groom, into going ahead with the wedding despite their concerns or cold feet. I must admit it was a unique idea but it truly isn’t the best way to try and set yourself apart from or above other wedding planners as last night has proven.”

“And you say that based on what? Do you know how many times the wedding whisperer has helped and the couples are still together?”

“Oh, so you do know what a wedding whisperer is?” Dana asks seizing on my reply. Before I can say anything she continues, “And how many times have you used a wedding whisperer and the marriage has ended in divorce? Shall I tell you?”

I don’t bother trying to answer.

“Well, we’re still counting,” Dana smiles. “Calls are still coming in, and they are all, I repeat, all, crying for blood. The common thing they all tell us is that they never knew you used a wedding whisperer.”

I say nothing as I stare back at Dana.

“Why did you not tell your clients?” she asks. “Is it because you were afraid of looking like a greedy, gold-digging, money-hungry wedding planner only interested in making money and having a track record as one of the best wedding planners in the game? And as your reputation has grown so have your fees. Do you not have any shame or remorse for what you have done?”

I can’t say anything more. I don’t trust myself to speak. I’m afraid that if I say something I will cry and appear weak on national television. I don’t think that’s a good idea. I reach behind me and fumble for the doorknob.

Dammit! Where is it?

At last, I find the doorknob. My sweaty hand slips on it and it refuses to turn. I try again. And again. Finally, I twist it and I feel the door open behind me. I turn to go back inside but Dana steps forward and grabs my arm.

“There is nowhere you can hide. People are coming for you and they will have justice.”

It’s enough. It’s all I can take. I spin around angrily shaking her hand off. Tears flow from my eyes freely but I don’t care.

“What… I did…,” I pace my words as I choke back the sadness that threatens to stop me from being able to speak, “… was only in the interest of my clients. Many people get cold feet and if they don’t go through with the wedding, they might just ruin their best day ever. Weddings are expensive and if they cancel on their wedding day, they will lose a lot of money for something as silly as getting cold feet.”

I am gaining confidence as I speak and now anger has crushed my sadness.

“People get divorced all the time. Whether they had a wedding whisperer or not, got cold feet or not, people still get divorced. So, before you come and lay divorces and blame at my feet I suggest you go and look how many people get divorced without ever having used a wedding whisperer. People divorce for a whole host of reasons and I can damn well assure you that having been coaxed into going through with their wedding has got nothing to do with them getting divorced later.”

“Well, the people we’ve spoken to beg to differ…”

“I have refunded my client’s money. All of it. That means I picked up the tab for the wedding yesterday because someone still had to pay for the services that were provided. All clients who retained me for their weddings in the future that have asked for their money back have had their money refunded. If you want people to sue me, I’ll tell you this. I’ve only worked as hard as the next person to make a living. I have no savings because I’m paying my mother’s hospital bills. This house is mortgaged to the hilt and my car is owned by the bank. So, if anyone feels they have a right to sue me please do so because there is nothing I have to give. I am quite honestly bankrupt. The only thing is I haven’t declared bankruptcy yet but that’s easy enough to do. So why don’t you clap yourself on the back for destroying someone’s business, and putting another person out on the street after you get the hell off my property.”

I turn and enter my home and close the door behind me. I can hear Dana on the other side speaking with the cameraman for a while longer and then there is silence. I peer out the window and see them leaving in their press van. I heave a sigh of relief and lock the door before I head to the bedroom and break down in tears on the bed.

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