Chapter 2

Time seemed to tick by slowly for Clarabelle as they marched around the corner, Abigail careening her towards where, she hoped the tipsy girl knew, the reception was being held. Each step felt like a weight being pressed on her shoulders; as if her tardiness somehow meant this was her karma, looking after the drunken bride (or at least making sure she made it back in time).

"Abi," she gasped as they took a sharp corner and she almost bowled into a man as she apologised quickly with a flushed face. "Are you even aware of where you're going? We've been wandering for 5 minutes now."

"Oh, hush, Clara!" She exhaled excitedly. "We're almost there. Can't you hear the sound of music in the air? It's simply exhilerating!"

Clarabelle, her face distorted with amused confusion, could not. Either she was getting old, and therefore deaf, or the tiny girl beside her had finally reached the end of her tether - she had gone simply nuts.

Before she could begin her protests of asking someone for help, the small brunette swung them around a corner and into a short corridor that lead to the entrance of two rather large white double doors.

"Oh," Clarabelle was startled. "I do believe I stand corrected," she muttered sourly under her breath as Abigail giggled at her.

"We may now start the rehearsal!" The bride-to-be hollered as she pushed both doors open with a flourish, exciting a loud uproar of men bellowing and women clapping at Abigail's enthusiastic entrance. No doubt most just wanted it over and done with by this point.

There was no account for bad taste in the room; it was spotless. The walls were cream, with intricate designs gracing the ceiling where a giant diamond chandelier hung, the sparkling light embracing the room and its occupants in a glowing manner that felt like the moon was spilling in through the roof. The circular tables were lined with white table-cloths, upon which stood a small boquet of red roses in the center with five sets of silver plates and cuttlery spaced out.

The brunette traipsed into the room, heels clicking on the marble floor, with all eyes on her, while Clarabelle's hand was trapped inside her claw, dragging her along for the attention-bound ride.

"Now, you have just got to meet Ethan's cousin, Virgil. He's simply to die for, Belle!"

"Abi," she scolded, and the girl flushed sheepishly.

"Sorry Clara."

She dismissed it with a wave, but her face showed otherwise as she was frowning, thoroughly peeved by her mistake.

Sensing her friend's quarrel, Abigail's own elated mood faultered for just a moment, before she stopped them both by a table of children, who seemed to be using the lovely white table-cloths as colouring sheets.

The smaller woman turned to Clarabelle, eyes drunk with love, as she took both her hands in her own between them. "Clara, do you remember when I first met Ethan?"

The woman snorted slightly, covering her fault up with an embarassed chuckle, "Of course I do. There were several haughty, if not rude, words exchanged. I believe there was an octopus used in the line of fire, also, if I do remember correctly."

"And several batches of pudding gone to waste after they were dumped on Ethan's head," Abigail laughed to herself, placing both her and Clarabelle's right hand over her mouth to stifle the laughter.

"'My new hunting coat!'" They cried together in attempted masculine voices, mocking the man who was no more than 30-feet away, and no more aware of their conversation than anyone else in the room.

Abigail broke hands to wipe away the glistening tears that threatened to smudge her mascara and sighed, her drunken giggles coming to a close. "I didn't quite expect this," she glanced around, almost melancholic, at the celebrations taking place.

Clarabelle smiled, her face finally relaxing of stress. "I believe you aren't alone. I imagine anyone who had the pleasure of witnessing you both in our second year would've seen body bags rather than wedding rings." She joked, but held a certain amount of truth to her words.

For a moment, she thought Abigail was going to come back with a witty remark or reminiscing memory, but Clarabelle was instead surprised when abigail burst into another fit of giggles, and the blonde sighed heavily.

"Gosh, we were such troublesome devils!"

Clarabelle raised her brows, shaking her head lightly at her bizzare choice in words. She hooked her arm into the babbling brunette's as she then proceeded, as she thought she would, to recount stories of the couple's hate-love relationship as students. Instead of paying the utmost attention, however, she rather focused on maneuvering around drunken uncles and scattered children as they scuttled around the floor.

She almost thanked her lucky stars when she caught sight of a certain dark-haired handsome as he stood at a table towards the bottom-center of the room - in front of a small marble stage with a string-quartet playing symphonically in harmony - with a glass of champagne in his right hand as he was talking to several other very handsome, muscular men in black tuxedos.

Feeling more than a little intimidated, yet obligated to return Abigail and greet the groom, she marched over to the men and the circle of testosterone broke as Ethan's sparkling blue eyes caught sight of his soon-to-be-bride, placing his glass down.

Clarabelle mosied straight past the men and smiled at Ethan. "It appears you've lost a fiancé."

Ethan guffawed loudly, grinning at her. "And found a maid of honour!"

Clarabelle rolled her eyes at his cheesy line, her painted lips smiling at him nevertheless as he stepped forward and wrapped his huge arms around her in a tight, quick bear hug. He kissed Abigail's forehead after, shaking his head with a small smile as she greeted him in a loud voice.

"You look good," he appraised, cocking his head at her.

Suddenly, she felt very aware of what she was wearing - or, a lack thereof. Rather uncomfortable at the mentioning of her clothing, she resisted the urge to glance over her little black dress. It was formfitting and a classic, so she was told by her publicist. She was now tugging on the ends, hoping to add even one more inch onto the material.

"And so do you, Charlton." She smiled confidently despite herself, their playful banter ever present. "Though I wasn't aware military was mandatory in our country. Though, I have been proven wrong already today."

Ethan smiled goofily as he ran his hand across his dark cropped hair. His new hairstyle reminded Clarabelle of a marine; he certainly had the build to pull if off. The man in question laughed in a wily manner.

"It was a shock to Abigail this morning, too."

Clarabelle watched as Abigail turned a distasteful, drunken eye towards his now less-than-full head of hair.

"I now see why she's consumed her body weight in alcohol." Clarabelle eyed her, then him, with a raised eyebrow.

The groom took her accusation in stride, his chest rumbling with silent laughter as he eyed his love, perhaps a bit more drunk than he'd realised. However, a sudden shift from his left caught their eyes, as the man next to him chuckled loudly at her remark. Clarabelle was already wary of him.

"It's a wedding reception, sweetheart; if you're not getting drunk, you're doing something wrong." He guffawed at himself, with what was left of the men around them joining him.

Clarabelle eyed the man with the cheeky smile on his face. She had never seen the man before in her life, but, looks alone, he was not a person to be easily forgotten.

Built like a house, the man was huge; his arms were mascular, looking as if they could snap a tree trunk in half under his white shirt (with tie, no blazer), and his upper body gave a very clear insight as to what the rest of his clothing were hiding.

Clarabelle managed to force her eyes up to his face. "Is that right." She stated, her manner unimpressed.

He, however, grinned a gleaming, pearly-white grin. "Indeed it is." His plump pink lips formed a devilish smile that made his strangely alluring hazel-green eyes dance with amusement.

She decided then that she would heed no attention to his words. It was clear he was a pompous man that indulged himself in alcohol and, judging by that strong, squared and rugged jaw, women, too. And, based off of his general attitude, Clarabelle had no need associating herself with such a man.

Appropriately, the unforgotten pixie-like drunk spun to attention. "Can we now start? I fear if we wait any longer your cousins will have devoured the entire buffet table!"

Ethan smiled, giving the arrogant dark haired man a pat on the back. "Fetch a glass of water for the bride," the man rolled his eyes, reluctant, yet left the dwindled as commanded. "And after you have sobered up, we shall start, dear." He wrapped his arm around her petite shoulders and she leaned into him.

It wasn't up until that moment that Clarabelle finally wondered aloud; "Where am I to be seated?"

Ethan blinked at her, well aware he was going to have to take the bullet for his little drunken brunette. He glanced towards the now sparce circle of men, down to just two who were conversing between themselves. He virtually had no one to protect him from the blonde's wrath.

"Well, it's complicated. The tables thus far are not numbered, nor is there a specific seat for each person," Clarabelle had no idea what he was talking about; she had been assured a seat with Abigail, "Because we're changing locations; we're not using this room. So, uh, you'll be seated on that table, just there." He pointed to the identical table next to them where one of the previous muscle-bound men was already seated.

Clarabelle threw him an inquisitive look, furious at being apparently duped, yet composed herself as quickly as her curiosity had passed. Being rather annoyed at being placed next to strangers, she tried to reign in her insatiable need to shake the man by his lapels and straightened her posture.

"I understand," she noted. "But there will be words in the morning."

As she strode in her black high heels away from the couple, scraping her chair across the floor as she sat down, he exhaled softly.

All he knew now was that, after the celebrations tonight, he was going to dread waking up in the morning.