"Oh, Ivana, look! Isn't this adorable?!"
Wasn't everything adorable, so far? God, I had heard this girl say the same thing over and over about everything. I wanted to slap her and ask if she had any more words in her vocabulary besides her last choice of words.
"Mary," Ivana grinned and hooked her arm through the short redhead (I know. I'm as surprised as you are. I had no idea Ivana's face could grin.) "You are the best! I love how that looks. I can already see it!"
Mary frowned. "Ivana, you have to be honest if you don't like something. It's your wedding! You have veto power over everything."
Mary…ugh. I wanted to shoot myself. Yeah, I had the day off yesterday and I spent it prepping myself for today, knowing it would suck but, God, this was worse than I was expecting. On the plus side, Mr. and Mrs. Estrada were gone…though that meant that I was left with the demon child herself. But, back to Mary. This morning I had been answering some emails when Ivana decided to stomp into my office and announce that we needed to get going. And then I was introduced to Mary. Mary, Ivana's best friend since they were 12, also happened to be a wedding planner and Ivana's maid of honor.
So, currently, we were going from location to location to location in the resort, trying to find the most romantic for the ceremony and the most scenic for the reception. Mary had squealed at every possibility and flailed her arms around with her "grand ideas!" And every time this happened, I felt myself go a little bit more deaf.
"Mary," Ivana squealed. "You have no idea how thankful I am to have you for this! Can you believe this day has finally come?!"
"Aw, sweetie!" Mary trilled and hugged Ivana. "It was like just yesterday that I met you! Do you remember?"
And then they started reminiscing and talking about girl things ("do you remember that one time at the 8th grade dance when you got your period and…"). A disgusted look crossed my face when I noticed that tears were about to ensue not to mention the information that I had just unwillingly been subjected to. I almost cried along with them, out of happiness though, when my phone started to obnoxiously ring and broke their little moment. Ivana shot me a dirty look, huffing, and pulled Mary along.
I sighed in relief and checked the caller ID, seeing that I was being called from the front desk. I frowned as I answered, knowing that Gabe and Heather would only call if there was a big problem. They could usually handle things on their own. "What's up?"
"Hey," Heather said. "We need your help. Shit has hit the fan."
I laughed and then stopped short. "Wait, you didn't say that in front of any guests, did you?"
"Of course not!" Heather sounded insulted. "I'm not that stupid. So, yeah, if you can get here quick, that'd be awesome."
"What happened?" I asked. "I don't know if Iguana will let me leave."
"Iguana?" Heather sounded confused for a moment and I was biting my tongue. I hadn't meant to let that slip out. Heather started to laugh. "Oh man! Hey, Gabe!"
"Heather!" I exclaimed into the phone, walking even farther away from Ivana and Mary. "Don't tell him! I meant to say Ivana but I saw an iguana! Heather!"
I could hear her telling Gabe, who happened to be laughing, and then I heard some shuffling and Gabe's voice on the line. "Damn, Boss, I didn't think you had it in you. Just don't say it to her face."
"See you up here in a few!" I heard Heather say and the line went dead.
"Shit," I muttered when I looked down at the phone in my hand. I was supposed to be setting a good example for my employees and I wasn't.
"Mr. Ortega," Ivana said from behind me. I turned to her and when I saw her with her arms crossed, I could've sworn she heard everything. I would deny it, I thought. "I thought you were supposed to be granting us access to the rooms we desired yet you're standing over here talking away on your phone." Her eyes slid down to the phone in my hand. "You're using the company phone for your personal calls?"
I took a deep breath, forcing myself to remain calm. "No, it was Heather and Gabe. They need help at the desk."
"Right, well," Ivana pushed her hair back. "I need you to open this building for me."
She didn't let me say anything else as she made her way to the door of the building we were currently at. It was a restaurant, the most popular one we had but it was closed for a few days after a mishap with one of the ovens, which were being replaced. I opened the door for Mary and Ivana and watched as Mary started jotting things down in her notebook. I was about to get up and leave when Ivana turned to me with a cold look. "Where are you going?"
"To help Heather and Gabe." I made sure to keep a smile on my face and a friendly tone.
I could tell Ivana was about to reply with another snarky comment – something about how she was in control of my job – but Mary, thankfully came and interrupted. "Ivana, I think this will be perfect! Look, here's what I'm thinking." She grabbed Ivana's hand and started pulling her across the dining room.
I took this as my opportunity to leave. "I'll be at the front desk if you ladies need anything else."
Mary turned to me with a smile. "Thank you so much, Alan. You've been a big help, right Ivana?"
I turned to her with raised eyebrows. I couldn't help but enjoy her discomfort. Her glare intensified as Mary nudged her. "Yes," Ivana tersely said, "thank you."
I smiled and with a wave at the two of them I headed out of the restaurant. I felt relieved to be able to step out of Ivana's intense glares and Mary's overexcited and unnecessary squeals."Ey!" I heard the familiar whirring of a golf cart and Luis' voice as he pulled up next to me. "Why do I always find you walking? Haven't you realized we have these things?"
I laughed. "You offering me a ride?"
"Climb in, man." He came to a full stop and I quickly got in. "Lobby?" I nodded my head and he pulled a U-turn. "So, I heard you're Ivana's slave for the next two months."
"You heard right."
"How'd Jen react to you being forced to spend time with another lady all day?" He asked, his gaze drifting off to a group of women in bikini at the beach. I smacked the back of his head when he nearly ran us off the path. He smiled and turned to the right, waiting for my answer.
"I don't think she cares too much." I shrugged. "Besides, there's nothing to worry about. Ivana is a psychotic lady and is engaged. I have nothing to do there. I don't want to."
Luis laughed and pulled up to the lobby. "That's what we all say, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but I actually mean it."
He shot me a skeptical look and left with a wave. I sighed and followed a group of people into the lobby, picking up a cup from the floor and throwing it away in the nearest trashcan. I could see Heather arguing with Gabe about something but their expressions instantly became relieved when I walked in.
"Thank God!" Heather exclaimed. "I was starting to think Iguana wouldn't let you come."
"Heather." I shot her a pointed look and she shrugged back at me.
"Sorry Boss, but that was good nickname you gave her."
I ignored that. "So, what happened? What's the big problem?"
Gabe laughed. "You're not going to believe this."
I blinked, waiting for them to continue. Heather sighed. "We have an angry fiancé."
Crossing my arms, I leaned against the desk, facing the two of them. "You mean Trevor?"
"The one and only," Gabe answered.
"Well." Gabe checked his watch. "About half an hour ago, we received a very angry phone call from him, complaining that the housekeepers woke him up."
"Did he have his sign up?" I asked.
"Nope." Heather shook her head. "I checked with the housekeeper to make sure and before that, I had to make a delivery to the room next to him and I don't remember seeing a sign."
I nodded. "Then what?"
"Well, he's unhappy." Gabe ran his hand through his hair and his eyes shifted to somewhere behind me, his face turning somber. "And he's on his way here."
I turned and sure enough, Trevor was stomping our way with a very pissed off face. "I have called the front desk," Trevor declared, "and no one has been answering my calls."
This, must have been a lie. Gabe and Heather even had a competition going to see who answered the most phone calls in a day. So far Gabe was up by three. There was no way they would not answer a call, even if it was someone like Trevor. "I apologize," I said, deciding not to argue this with him. "We'll check the phones to make sure they're working correctly. Heather," I turned to her. "Make a note and call the phone company to come have them checked."
"Oh," Trevor interrupted. "There's no need for that. Perhaps proper training will fix this."
Now, he was insulting me. I was the one that had to go over training with them once a month (part of The Estrada Resort's way of being exceptional was to practice, practice, practice) no matter if they already knew it. I felt my temper rise and I my hands clenched the edge of the desk. "Right," I said. "Do you need anything else, sir?"
"Yes," Trevor sounded annoyed. "Towels."
"How many?" I asked, gritting my teeth.
"Three large ones."
Gabe shuffled off to get the towels and in the meantime I focused on breathing regularly and not throttling Trevor. Gabe returned, handing Trevor the towels. He didn't say anything once he snatched the towels away and shot us all a glare, going back to his room. "How," Gabe asked, "can anyone possibly need more than ten towels in a room?"
I shrugged. "I don't want to know."
"Agreed," Heather said. "So, that's our problem."
"Relax," I sighed. "He's like Mr. Kliner. Always impossible but we always find a way to fix everything for him. Just be on your toes. Relax." I repeated.
"Oh, yeah," Gabe sarcastically said. "That's easy considering he's about to marry the owner's daughter."
"Speak of the devil," Heather sighed. "And her accomplice."
I looked up to see Ivana striding in with Mary at her side. Couldn't they just leave me alone? I was tempted to go hide.
"Alan!" Mary exclaimed, and I winced, feeling my ears bleed at her high pitched voice. "I was telling Ivana that maybe you could help us decide between the restaurant's patio or the large kiosk farther up the beach for the reception. You probably know which one has less wind draft and all that stuff, right?"
I glanced down at my hands and found them balling up again. I stiffly nodded. "Sure, I can help."
I could feel Heather's gaze boring into my temple and then shifted down to my hands. Her eyes shot up to Mary. "Sorry to interrupt but, I'd like to give my opinion, as a female." She laughed and I knew she was attempting to pull the attention off of me to give me a moment to compose myself. What would I do without her? Mary turned to her with all of her attention. "I think the restaurant would be better. After all, it's specifically designed for special occasions. Not to mention, it has a spectacular view of the beach and the horizon and, the tables could be maneuvered to make an excellent dance floor in the middle. We've done it before and it looks beautiful. Whereas the kiosk has a lot of trees blocking the view and it's actually not all that big. You'd have to put some tables outside and that would make it seem like you're excluding some of your guests."
Mary was jotting all of this down in her notebook and then turned to the three of us with a questioning glance. "Hm, that's very true. I need to see a floor map. Would you be able to get me a floor map of the two, by any chance?"
"Sure," Gabe smiled and immediately moved to the computer, to print out a copy.
"Wonderful!" Mary exclaimed, taking the maps from Gabe. "This will help me out a lot!"
She walked away, already making notes on the maps, not bothering to look back to check if Ivana had followed her or not. She hadn't. I glanced at Gabe and Heather and was annoyed to see that they had found ways to appear busy. Why couldn't I ever do that?
I shot a smile to Ivana and to no one in particular announced that I would be in my office if they needed anything. I was alone for all of two seconds when Ivana started clearing her throat from the door. I looked up, forcing a smile. "How can I help you?"
She glanced around my office and averted her eyes back to me. "Actually, I need you to go find me some foxglove flowers. I would go myself but I promised Trevor's mother I would show her the plans we had so far and I'm meeting her in," she checked her watch, "half an hour. I need these flowers as soon as possible, by tomorrow evening."
I felt my eyebrow twitch and I was positive she caught it when she suddenly sent me a smirk. "Of course, if you can't-"
"No," I interrupted. "Of course I can."
She turned to leave and then stopped, turning to me with a too innocent smile, "Oh, and if you could also find me some candles in the shape of nigellas, non-scented."
Ivan smiled at me while I fought to control my breathing. I smiled back at her. "Of course Ms. Estrada. I'll go right now."
She stood at the door and I knew she was waiting for me to get up so I did and she smiled at me one more time as we walked out of the lobby with strange glances from Heather and Gabe. "Thank you, Mr. Ortega. I believe the next ferry leaves in ten minutes; just enough time for you to get there."
I watched her go as she left and I wanted to throttle her or possibly drown her in the deep end of Luis' pool. I sighed, checking my watch and decided to go to the dock to wait for the ferry. I didn't even know what the hell a foxglove or nigella was…how was I supposed to find them, let alone a candle of one? So, I called the only person I had a feeling could help me out as I waited for the ferry.
"Hello?" Jen answered.
"Hey, Jen," I said and I could just imagine the grin that was flowing onto her face.
"Hi, Alan, how are you?"
"Good," I said even though I was as far away from good as possible. I heard a high pitched squeal from her end and then some laughing. She was at work, at the daycare. "I have a question for you-"
"Do I want to go out for dinner on Friday?" She laughed. "Yes, I do."
I cringed. I always forgot to be careful with my wording around Jen. "Actually," I said, "I was wondering if you know where I could find some foxglove flowers."
"Aw, are you trying to buy me flowers?" She asked.
This was getting nowhere so I groaned and faked an overly exasperated sigh. "Jen, I would but this unfortunately has to do with Ms. Estrada. Remember her?"
"Oh," I heard her mutter something to a little kid and then her voice turned back up as she spoke into the phone again. "Yeah, the owner's daughter, right?"
"Right," I said, glad that she had finally stopped trying to shove hints in my face for us to go out. "And, she sent me out to buy some foxgloves and candles in the shape of nigellas."
"So she wants the real foxgloves but fake nigellas?" Jen sounded puzzled.
"Yup," I said, watching as I saw the ferry drawing closer and closer. "I just don't know what they look like and I also don't want to waste time going from flower shop to flower shop to find some. So, can you help me out?"
I could imagine Jen taping her fingers against her forehead as she thought. It was her way of focusing. "Well, you could try Stem's. They carry a large assortment of flowers. You know where that is, right?"
"Yeah," I pulled out a pen from my pocket and scribbled it on my palm.
"There's also Maddy's Flowers. About a mile north from Stem's."
"What about candles?" I asked boarding the ferry and finding a seat.
"I've never actually seen nigella shaped candles." Jen muttered. "But, I think your best bet would be ScentSational. Oh, and also Illuminations."
"Jen, you are amazing!" I sighed in relief as the ferry got to the dock and people started making their way out.
"Thank you, Alan," she giggled. "Well, good luck with all of that. I need to get going though. I need to help Kim with the kids. It's nap time. You know how they get."
"Yeah, of course," I said, ready to hang up. "Thanks again. I'll see you later."
"Bye Alan." And before she hung up I started to hear some wailing and her mutter of "Oh no!" and then the line was dead.
I sighed making my way to the lot where I parked my car, dreading the drive through the rush hour of lunch to find foxglove flowers and nigella shaped candles.
A/N: So, thanks so much to JadeDream, ishta, woodstock1969, MsKarlz4, and the annonymous reviewer muzikall for reviewing so far!
You did the reading part....so....now review, please! ^_^