Chapter 4. Great Ambition

Girls think about their weddings as soon as they learn what weddings are. Jaycee and I used to talk about our weddings. Jaycee wanted to get married in a cathedral with a big, dramatic dress. It had to be white, of course, and lacy, with a long veil. Turns out, not a lot had changed between then and now.

A couple of weeks after I moved to the city I was sitting in a bridal store with Kaya and Kiyomi. We were sitting in comfortable arm chairs, waiting for Jaycee to try on her first wedding gown. Kaya kept looking at her watch.

"Do you think this will take long?" She asked.

"Yes." I answered simply, Kaya pouted. Jaycee stepped out of the dressing room and stood on the small pedestal in front of the mirror, observing her dress. It was bright white with ribbon straps, tight bodice, and a long train.

"Wow. It's beautiful." Kiyomi complimented. I wasn't so sure it was right for Jaycee, my friend looked at her reflection critically.

"I don't think it's big enough." She said.

"Get her something fancier." I advised the clerk who was helping us. Her name tag read "Karen", maybe that was why Jaycee was so dissatisfied. Jaycee liked only unique names. Names like Karen, Sarah, and Emily made her cranky. It's a little shallow, but she doesn't mean to be outwardly mean to people with "boring" names. Everyone judges based on appearances, Jaycee judges on names instead. Mostly this just means that she gets excited when she hears a really weird name. Jaycee trudged back into the dressing room for fifteen minutes. When she came out, she was wearing the most intricate wedding dress I'd ever seen. It had a strapless beaded bodice and a voluminous ruffled skirt (like, this thing was all beautiful ruffles). The train trailed behind her and when it was tied up for the receptions, the skirt would still look like a...wedding cake. The bodice was hard and gave her good support in the chest area, pushing up her B cups for all they were worth. The white made her look angelic with her skintone and hair color.

"Whoa." I breathed.

"This is a Justin Alexander, you can order it in ivory and white, this particular dress is ivory." Karen explained.

"That looks perfect on you." Kaya agreed. I didn't think Jaycee was listening. She was staring at her reflection with the strangest expression in her eyes. I could tell she was picturing herself walking down the isle in this dress. All eyes on her, Greg waiting for her at the alter. This was a dress that she could make her wedding memories in. She blinked a couple of times and her mind seemed to return.

"What do you think?" Karen asked.

"I've been thinking." Jaycee said suddenly, swinging her hips and watching the skirt of the gown swish around her, "I think I should ask Tiffany to be a bridesmaid."

"Tiffany?" I asked.

"Greg's younger cousin." Jaycee clarified, "Her daughter, Pompkin, is five, she's going to be the flower girl. I just think it'd be nice if I asked Tiffany to be a bridesmaid. I think she'd like that, and so would Greg."

"But how are you going to pick out a dress color?" Kiyomi asked, "You're already having a hard time coordinating these two." She gestured at Kaya and I.

"What does Tiffany look like?" I asked.

"She's a little blacker than Greg. Pompkin's even blacker than her." Kiyomi said.

"You've certainly got an assortment in culture in your wedding." I observed.

"Yes, that's part of what I love about it." Jaycee grinned, "I'm going to ask her."

"Knock yourself out. I have to be somewhere soon." Kaya said impatiently, "Is that the dress?"

"I think it really is." Jaycee said tenderly.

"Wonderful. Why don't we go get you out of that dress and order the dress for you?" Karen, all but forgotten, suggested. Jaycee was escorted away again and Kaya left in a hurry, leaving me with Kiyomi.

"So." She said awkwardly, "How's the city treating you?"

"Good." I answered lamely. That was it on the small talk. We waited in silence for Jaycee to return. She bounded up to us, gushing over the dress and the wedding.

"He's going to love it." She sighed as we walked out of the store. I followed them for a while and we entered a small coffee shop.

"Did you pick out a dress?" The girl at the cash register asked Jaycee.

"I think so." Jaycee grinned, "Oh, this is my friend Faith Miller, she just moved here."

"I've heard a lot about you." The cashier said to me.

"We come here a lot." Jaycee informed me. The woman handed Kiyomi a frozen coffee with extra whipped cream without even taking her order. Jaycee ordered a latte and I got a peppermint steamer. We settled down at one of the tables to drink our coffee. As Kiyomi took a pull at her straw, I blew on my coffee so it would cool down. Jaycee stared off dreamily, it appeared that she was feeling nostalgic.

"We met here." She said in a haze, "I was looking at apartment ads and he sat down across from me. He was so nice."

"Is this where you burst into song to replay the entire relationship for us?" Kiyomi asked dryly. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded that. At least I'd know everything. As it was, Jaycee stuck her tongue out and blew on her coffee. Kiyomi, a popular hairdresser, had to leave before we did. She drank her frozen coffee at impressive speeds and left.

"He's going to love it." Great, Jaycee was reminiscing again.

"Tell me more about when you met." I said, deciding to get my money's worth out of this state. She explained about Aaron moving and Greg getting the apartment she wanted. They met by pure coincidence and he invited her to move in right on the spot. She was telling me about him, but I still wasn't getting a feel for the guy. Jaycee saw my expression and stopped talking.

"One of these days, you're going to get to know him." She stated.

"No complaints here."

"I'm just so used to you knowing everything. And it feels like you've been here the whole time. Like Kiyomi, she knows Greg pretty well, I want you to, too."

"I'm sure I will." I said. I guess it wasn't that important. In all reality, it probably wasn't any of my business who she decided to marry. Just then my Blackberry started to ring. Loudly. "Oops." I said as I fumbled around in my purse, looking for it, "I haven't figured out how to adjust the ringer volume yet." I explained as I located the phone and answered it, "Hello?"

"You didn't call." Jim accused. Shit.

"I'm sorry, I've been busy."

"I'm sure, I just wanted to hear from you."

"Who is it?" Jaycee asked impatiently.

"It's Jim." I whispered.

"Who are you talking to?" Jim asked.

"Jaycee."

"I wanna talk to him." Jaycee said, taking the phone out of my hand. She stared at the keyboard for a second before pressing a button with a little speaker on it. She then held it up in between us and said, "Hey, Jim."

"Hey, Jaycee." Jim, now on speakerphone, answered.

"If you're mad at Faith, it's probably my fault, I've been keeping her busy."

"We were just at the bridal store to pick out a gown." I added.

"Couldn't be more interested." Jim said in a voice that suggested otherwise.

"No need to get snippy." I said, "Look, I have to go now, but I'll call you tomorrow, I promise. Okay?"

"I guess."

"Great. Love you."

"Love you. Bye." And he hung up.

"How do you turn off speakerphone?" I asked Jaycee. She smiled and pressed the same button she had before. I thanked her and put the phone back in my purse.

"Is everything okay with you two?" Jaycee asked. I sighed and shrugged.

"I guess. I just haven't called him in a week. I guess I understand why he's upset, I said I would and I didn't. But I have been busy, I'm ready to start over, but I'm spending too much time thinking about my old life, you know?"

"I can understand that."

"Right, and we did talk about this. We're seeing other people." I sat up a little straighter.

"Maybe that's what you need." Jaycee said enthusiastically, "A date! I'm sure there's a lot of newly good-looking people at the doctor's office, you've got a great deal." I thought about Gunther Cenn and shuddered, even without the big nose, I couldn't see myself dating him.

"I don't know." I started. My ringtone blared out again across the coffee shop.

"I was just talking to your boss, do you realize you have an awesome medical plan?" Jessalyn asked as soon as I answered.

"Um...I guess?"

"So I got someone to take some test shots of you on Friday, Scooter and I will be there too. So I made an appointment for you on Tuesday to get your teeth whitened."

"Is that necessary?"

"Are you telling me you never wanted to whiten your teeth?" Jessalyn asked slyly.

"Well," I began.

"There you go. I'll pick you up." Jessalyn announced happily before hanging up.

"I'm getting my teeth whitened so I can be a model." I explained to Jaycee, "How do I turn this ringer down?"

"I always thought you'd be a good model." Jaycee said as she took my phone and adjusted the volume, "I was hoping you and Jessalyn would hit it off." She handed the blackberry back to me, "Back to the point: you need a date."

"I don't think that's it, I've only been out of a serious relationship for a week."

"All the more reason to experiment, date a lot. Get Jim out of your head."

"Maybe I don't want him out of my head." I grumbled.

"But you want to forget about Nevada." Jaycee said softly, "He's part of that."

"That reminds me," I said suddenly, "we're visiting in five weeks."

"Visiting?" Jaycee squeaked.

"Yeah. Everyone told me to bring you back with me for a visit. Five weeks. We can leave when I get out of work on Friday and we can come back Sunday."

"I don't happen to have a say in this, do I?"

"No." I replied happily.

"Figures." Jaycee looked at her watch, "I have a meeting with the wedding planner. Want to come along? I need someone's opinion."

"Isn't that normally the maid of honor's job?" I asked.

"I want all of your opinions. But Kaya and Kiyomi are busy today. Plus, you've known me the longest, you probably know me the best. Kaya and Kiyomi would try to plan the wedding the way they want it, not how I want it."

"Thanks. Sure, I'll come."


The wedding planner's name was Margaret May, known to us as Ms. May. She was a severe-looking middle aged woman with golden hair that was always in a ridiculous updo and a little too much botox. She smiled at us when her secretary escorted us into her office, which looked like the lobby of a fancy hotel. We sat in the chairs across from the desk and watched as she closed her phone. She had her laptop open, her earbud in, and several buttons flashing on her landline. She ignored all of that, however, when she looked at us.

"Jaycee," She said, eyes glinting, "It's good to see you again." She pulled something up on her computer, "So I have in here that you had your first wedding gown appointment today. How did it go?"

"It went amazingly!" Jaycee said enthusiastically, "I found the perfect dress."

"Oh? Would you like to tell me a little more about it?"

"It's a Justin Alexander," Jaycee started. I took out my phone and scrolled to the pictures I had taken of her in the dress. I handed the blackberry across the desk. Ms. May took it, looked at the pictures, and smiled.

"It's very you, dear. It certainly fits in with your plans for an extravagant wedding." She handed the phone back to me. When I took it, she looked at me, realizing she didn't recognize me, "Sorry, dear, I don't think we've met."

"This is Faith, she's one of my bridesmaids and my oldest friend. Well," Jaycee backtracked, "friend that I've had the longest..."

"I think she gets it." I cut across her.

"Nice to meet you." Ms. May said professionally before turning her attention back to her client, "That certainly must be a load of your mind, finding the dress, that is."

"Yes." Jaycee agreed wholeheartedly.

"Now," Ms. May returned to her computer, "have you given any thought to a color scheme?"

"I have." Jaycee hesitated, "But I have a problem. Faith here is a redhead, my sister is blond-haired, blue-eyed, my friend Kiyomi is Japanese, and Tiffany is African American. I'm having a hard time finding a color scheme that would look good on all of them."

"It is hard to coordinate a neutral color among different ethnicities." The wedding planner stated sympathetically.

"We could just do that!" I said suddenly, looking at the other two enthusiastically. They stared back at me blankly. Remembering that not everyone was inside my head (a problem I often had), I explained myself, "A color scheme of neutral colors. You know, earth tones, there are some pretty browns out there and even pale pink would work. Despite popular belief all redheads do not look terrible in pink."

"There are a lot of good colors in a neutral palette." Ms. May assured us, digging through the drawers of her desk. She brought up a few color swatches of browns and pale pinks. As I'd predicted, they looked good together. Jaycee stared at them for a minute, chewing her lip as she thought it over. I was sure that in her head she was going over dresses and decorations in these colors, I know I was. "Perhaps you want to consult the groom?" Ms. May suggested.

"No, this one is my decision. He's a guy, he doesn't really care about this stuff." Jaycee smiled and relaxed at the mention of her future husband. She looked at the swatches with clearer eyes and stated, "I like it. Let's do it." Ms. May clapped her hands together and I grinned proudly. Ms. May went to typing on her computer again. I studied her fingers for a moment, I could type way faster than her. Satisfaction.

"So, you have a dress picked out. We have the Flood Mansion booked for the wedding and reception on May 8th. We've sent out save the dates. Now, we need an appointment to pick out wedding invitations, I think the groom should be present to this one. We also need an appointment to pick out wedding cake flavors and designs. From there we can pick out place settings, decorations, music, etc. Also, I'm making an appointment for you at the bridal store to look at bridesmaid dresses. And are you having a flower girl?"

"Yes."

"Then use that appointment to look at flower girl dresses, too. So I will see you in a couple of weeks with your groom. Then after that you should at least bring your maid of honor. And I suggest you bring this one with you." She gestured to me with a wink, "She has good tastes."

"I could be a wedding planner." I said to Jaycee as we left the building, "Did you see how nice her office was?"

"I don't know, it's a lot more work than being a secretary. There's a lot more to organize, and you have to remember things about so many different clients. Plus the hours are crazy, you'd never have time for us again!" Jaycee pointed out.

"Thanks." I sighed, "Way to crush my dreams." Jaycee looked alarmed, and I felt it too after a moment of reviewing my previous statement. I'd never had dreams or ambitions before.

"Faith!" Jaycee cried, "Look at you with...life goals!" Looking overcome with emotion she stopped and, right there on the street, gave me a big hug. I looked around, rigid and embarrassed. No one seemed to notice, though, people continued to walk around us as though we weren't even there. I guess people had gotten used to seeing weird things on the street. I hadn't quite gotten there yet, the other day I saw a man walking down the street with a live cat wrapped around his shoulders like a boa. While everyone else ignored it, I'd stared openly. As a result I had both the man and the cat stare back at me accusingly. How do people get used to this stuff? Finally, Jaycee broke away.

"Well, if you really want to be a wedding planner, I fully support you." She said with a sniffle.

"Uh, thanks." I said awkwardly, unable to return the emotions. Normally, Jaycee isn't a very emotional person. But I suspected that with the stress and excitement of the wedding, coupled with the lack of alcohol, she was running on a different energy than usual. And that affected everything she did.

"And thanks for helping me with the colors in there. I take everything so seriously, I get so worried about making the wrong decision that I can't decide anything at all! These are only some of the most important decisions in my life! I don't want to mess any of it up."

"Why don't you have Greg help you?" I asked, she smiled dreamily.

"Greg doesn't really have opinions when it comes to this stuff. He just wants me to be happy. Basically, without a third party, we'd never get through any of these wedding plans. I at least need someone to bounce ideas off of."

"I'm glad to be of service." I chuckled.


"Jaycee thinks I need a date." I told Jim when I called him from work the next day.

"Maybe she's right. You decided we needed to see other people." Jim reminded me.

"I know, but does that mean I'm ready to go out right away? I just got here. This is the longest I've been away from you in eleven years."

"That's nice of you, but you shouldn't avoid people for me. Go out. Have fun. I insist."

"Have you been on any dates yet?" I asked.

"No, but my mom tried to set me up with Judy Cranburg."

"Oh my." I clapped a hand over my mouth the squash a giggle. Judy Cranburg did Yoga, she was the town's token vegetarian. She hugged trees, and she hated me for moving to a city that had once been a vast forest (or something). I couldn't see her and Jim, who'd do anything for a cheeseburger, as a couple.

"It probably won't work out." Jim said, "Hey, I was talking to The Krauses," the family that owned the department store, "and they said that there was a woman calling them for photos of you. They sent her some prints."

"That's my friend Jessalyn. She thinks I could be a model."

"You are a model."

"Not by San Fransisco standards." I argued. I hadn't realized before how much I really wanted it. I wanted to pose in front of a camera. I wanted to be in ads and runway shows. Well, that was a surprise.

"San Fransisco standards?" Jim repeated. The door to the office opened and someone walked in, I'd forgotten about Dr. Calibur's appointment.

"I'll have to call you back." I said into the phone. Without waiting for an answer, I hung up.


The next day I went into work late after having an early morning appointment with the dentist. I bared my newly whitened teeth and observed my reflection in the back of my phone. Dr. Calibur had given me a compliment when I first arrived that morning. They were really white, whiter than pearly white. My smile was bright, almost glowing. Weird. But also cool. It's interesting how something small like getting your teeth whitened can make you feel so much more confident. I felt gorgeous, I felt like I could do anything. I could be a model, and a good one. And I could date, I could have anyone I wanted. I knew I was probably exaggerating, but that's how good I felt about myself. And, as a girl, that's normally pretty hard to do.

I was feeling so on top of the world that I pulled up the Photoshop program that I had yet to use on my computer and started playing around. I felt like I could do anything. So I designed a little yellow business card that read: Faith Miller, Wedding Planner. Then I decorated it with cute wedding stuff.

"You're not quitting, are you?" Dr. Calibur asked when he dismissed his next appointment. I jumped, unaware that he had come up behind me.

"No. No." I gasped, hand on my heart, "Just a side project. Sorry."

"As long as it doesn't interfere with your work here, I don't care." Dr. Calibur stated bluntly before dropping the file off on my desk and retreating back to his office. Beneath the cold exterior, Dr. Calibur was actually a pretty cool boss. I was in the middle of typing up the file when my Blackberry rang. I glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was Jaycee.

"Aren't you supposed to be working?" I asked upon answering.

"It's a commercial. Chill out. Hey, I need a big favor of you." Jaycee said.

"What?" I asked suspiciously.

"Mid-October, there's a big benefit thing at Greg's work. It's going to be really formal, like a ball or evening party or whatever. Problem is: there's a telethon that night that I'm doing at the radio station. Or the radio equivalent of a telethon. What are those called? Anyway, I'm going to be at the radio station all night with Jay raising money to help child prostitutes."

"And the favor?" I prompted, not seeing Jaycee's point.

"I need you to be Greg's date for the benefit."

"What?" I squawked, "Me? Why? I can't! I don't even know him yet!"

"That's why I'm asking you. I'm sure it will be fun. There will be fancy food and dancing, and you'll finally get to know my fiancee better." I chewed my lip, unable to argue with her logic there, I could use some quality time with the mysterious Gregorium. But I wasn't so sure that time should be a formal event. I didn't have grace in such social situations, I'm from a hick town! There would be a lot of pressure to act appropriately and not step on Greg's foot while dancing. Not to mention I could already sense that dancing with my best friend's fiancee that I barely know would be awkward. I'm also not good around crowds. So there were many, many reasons that I wanted to decline this offer.

"I don't have a dress for that." Was the excuse I gave her.

"That's easy, we can go shopping for one!" Jaycee said enthusiastically. Used to be that Jaycee couldn't stand shopping. Now, for some reason, she couldn't seem to get enough of it.

"I can't afford a fancy dress."

"Don't worry about it. We can find good deals. That's great! We've only got a month so we'll go shopping in a week or two, okay?" Jaycee asked cheerily. I fought the urge to sigh.

"Yeah." I agreed half heartedly. Jaycee squealed her excitement and hung up the phone to return to her job. I put the phone down slowly and raised my fingers to my temples, feeling a small headache start to form. I was still sitting like that when Dr. Calibur's next appointment arrived, a middle-aged couple. I jumped again when the door closed behind them, then panicked when I realized I hadn't finished typing up the last file yet. "Terribly sorry about that." I apologized, gathering my composure and sitting upright. "You have an appointment?"

"We're the Fischers. I'm Laura and this is my fiancee Dale." The woman introduced her and her companion.

"Dr. Calibur, the Fischers are here." I buzzed.

"Just a minute." He answered.

"Take a seat." I said with a smile. They moved toward the empty seats, but Laura caught a glimpse at my computer screen, where my business card was still displayed.

"You're a wedding planner?" She asked excitedly. Behind her, Dale looked pained.

"No, not yet. I'm thinking about it, but I don't have any experience. I mean, I'm helping my friend with her wedding, but she has a wedding planner so..." I realized I was rambling and blushed, "No."

"Would you be looking for more experience?"

"Laura." Dale said warningly, she just waved him off and looked at me expectantly.

When I hesitated, she continued, "Dale and I are getting married in a few months. It's my second marriage, so I'm familiar with all of the steps but I just don't think I can do it by myself. We can't afford a wedding planner, which is why I'm doing it. But if you'd like to help, like an internship or something, I'd really appreciate and you could gain experience in your wedding planning business. We wouldn't be able to pay you much..."

"We don't need a wedding planner." Dale continued.

"You're not the one making all of the plans." Laura shot back. She smiled at me, "What do you think? Do you want to be a wedding planner?" I gaped. I'd just come up with the idea to be a wedding planner a couple days before, and now a job was just falling into my lap. On one hand, I felt really lucky. It was a chance to follow the only dream I'd ever had. On the other hand, I didn't feel ready to handle such a big project.

"Faith Miller?" Laura read my name off the business card, "I'd help you with the steps, I just need someone who's a little more organized than I am to help out."

"Yeah." I said quietly. I cleared my throat and said a bit louder, "I'm interested."

"I'll call you. We can have our first get together next week." Laura grinned. Dale rolled his eyes but didn't continue arguing.

As Dr. Calibur called the couple into his office, I began rubbing my temples again. I couldn't let such a big opportunity pass, things like that were part of the reason I came to the city in the first place. I just hoped I could handle it.

Working for Dr. Calibur, being Jaycee's bridesmaid, modeling, the benefit, and wedding planning. I was starting to get the distinct feeling that I was biting off more than I could chew.


VICTORY SCREEEECCHH!

I am so sososososos sorry this took so long! I had it ready months ago but I had technical difficulties :(

Anyway, hopefully we won't have a delay like that again.

And also, can we just talk about how Justin Alexander is my hero?
So much love...

JAYCEE'S DRESS:
URLs to pictures available on my profile! Check them out!
(it's Justin Alexander 8484)

Since my last chapter they've change the reviewing thingy!

Eh? Eh?

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