“Leigh, we have a problem,” Ella, my beautiful assistant, is likely to cry.
I force a smile, hoping the worst problem she is telling me has something to do with the suppliers or the venue, not involving the bride and the groom.
Before she came in, I was meditating, and I have never done that, except now. The silver-white color of the black-out drapes in the large glass window of the hotel room was open, making it possible for the sun’s rays to kiss my face. Despite my fear of height, I have chosen to sit beside the window to meditate and divert my worries about our event today.
Mei requested that we wear black for today’s affair, adding a baby pink scarf to match the wedding motif. I love and hate wearing black, and today, I was not comfortable with the color, especially at a wedding. It was like a bad omen.
Junko, my Japanese friend, teased me about this wedding because today marked the 9th event I had after starting my own business, and this was the 4th wedding I have planned and coordinated. She explained the reason for their dislike of the number, and she told me shi is related to death since it was pronounced the same way, while ku is pronounced the same with agony. I only laughed and brushed off the negative thoughts. First, I am only twenty-four, too young to suffer and die.
As much as I don’t believe in her, having Mei as my client was hell. When I received this project, she requested a small, private, cheap, intimate wedding like having a budget meal but wanting delicious foods on the table.
Who doesn’t want an intimate wedding?
So, I made sure to comply with all her requests, but in return, the bride-to-be gave me a bazillion times of changes in her plans that caused me plenty of headaches. This was also my first time planning a wedding without seeing her groom because he was on a business trip and would come back days before the wedding.
Days before Mei’s wedding and meeting her groom, I was rushed to the hospital because of this annoying, extreme headache that I thought a tumor had appeared in my brain because of too much stress. Alfie, my other assistant, had to meet the couple, and he whined, wanting to join me in my hospital bed because the couple, the beautiful bride-to-be and the scary-burly-groom-to-be, were asking for changes.
When I saw my assistant’s face, looking pale and tears brimmed in her eyes, I was sure my heart escaped from my chest.
What is it this time, Mei? I wanted to scream.
“We have a problem...” She repeated and sniffed as she opened the door wide. It only meant I had to stand up to check on this problem myself.
“Ohh... kay... What is it this time?” I gritted my teeth, forgetting the meditation and its benefits to my health, and followed Ella walked to the hallway.
“Mei is missing!”She said, wiping the tears flowing on her cheeks.
I stopped walking, imagining I heard it wrong and grabbed her wrist to stop her. I released a nervous laugh and swallowed hard.
“You’re kidding, right? Mei is just somewhere in this hotel, and she is just experiencing cold feet….” Tears were starting to well in my eyes while constantly nodding as I took a deep breath. I could feel the tightness of my chest.
If I find Mei, I will strangle her neck and have a funeral instead of the wedding. It would match my dress anyway.
“All we have to do is find Mei and...” I breathed out, my heart palpitating. “Oh my God, why did I ever accept this event?” I said, breathing heavily as I thought fast where on earth Mei could be.
“Didn’t you receive Mei’s email?” Ella asked me, surprised that I did not open my messages.
“Email?” I yelled annoyingly. “On her wedding day? Is this some sort of business situation that she had to email me of an important event?” I asked angrily, making my assistant cringe.
She tugged my arm, pulling me to continue walking and stop in front of the room. She opened the door, and we walked like burglars, padding as we entered.
“Why are we walking like this?” I whispered at her, almost taking my high-heeled shoes to ensure we would not make any noise.
“Shhh…” she hushed me, causing me to press my lips.
Already in his tuxedo, the tall and well-built man, not exactly burly as Alfie described, was facing the window and stopping Ella and me.
My heart went quiet, or perhaps it stopped beating already as I watched his relatives scrambling to their feet, panicking as he yelled, roaring like a tiger.
“Who’s that?” I mouthed at Ella, glancing at her with my eyes wide as an owl.
“The groom?” answered Ella anxiously, unsure with the detail. Then I remembered only Alfie saw and talked with the groom among the three of us.
“You didn’t know?” I asked hysterically, causing Hulk to turn to us, only he was not green but red because of much anger.
I released a gasp and forgot to breathe out as he turned to us.
“That’s the groom?” I asked Ella, stopping myself from sneering and saying no wonder Mei ran away. Probably in his sixties or seventies, the older man turned to us. His glaring eyes made us jump back. For a brief second, all my internal organs, including my spirit, left my body when he started yelling at me.
“Are you the wedding planner?” He screamed furiously at my face. He was too close that I could imagine a monster ready to devour my head.
With my mouth half-open and eyes wide, I nodded.
“If you don’t find the bride today, I swear to you I will drag you and your company to hell. Do you understand?” He was furious not to notice that his face was too close to mine.
I swallow hard, thinking I am too young to go to hell. I have never even tasted heaven, and now there is a possibility I would be dragged to hell at my young age because Mei decided to be selfish on this day.
“Uncle, calm down. Let me fix this,” A handsome man also in a formal suit patted him on the shoulder and then held my arm, pulling me out of the room. He glances back, making sure Ella closed the door.
“Where’s Mei?” He asks in a worried tone.
My eyes blink at the handsome man in front of me. If we were in a different situation, I would probably be batting my eyelashes on him.
“She… We couldn’t find her,” Ella answers for me, thinking I was still in shock.
“Oh my God, Leigh,” Alfie stops before us, still catching his breath as he places his hand on my shoulder. Either he is holding to me for support, or he is preparing me for our doomsday.
He breathed in and then sniffled as he breathed out. “Mei ran away with George Clooney.”
“What do you mean?” My eyes are glaring as I grit my teeth and grip my hands on his shoulders.
He gulps, ready for my beating. “I tried to stop her, but she said she couldn’t marry him.”
Anger rises to my body, and I can feel my blood boiling that I would probably burn anyone who would come near me. My hands ball into fists, and I am ready to punch anyone who comes near me.
“Oh no!” Mr. Handsome groans as he places his hand on his nape. “We should do something,” His eyes fixed on me. “What do we do?”
I shake my head, hoping to tell him my brain could not process anything yet after the groom just screamed at me. Besides, this handsome guy is looking for a person, not a thing that we could easily find a substitute for.
“I’m doomed!” I utter, almost crying and looking at how my career ended. I could imagine my family's sneers and the ‘I told you so’ words when they found out how I failed my business. No one believes I could be successful at my chosen path except Dyna, my cousin and best friend.
He paced in front of me, and then he stopped. “I have an idea,”
My right eyebrows shot up. From the way he looks at us, it seems not a good idea.
“My uncle’s worry is not for himself but his guests. The wedding must push through no matter what. He didn’t want to be embarrassed.” He puffs out a quick breath as he turns to me. “Find me a bride!”
“What?” Is he looking for a bride or a ride?
“It’s the only solution. Let’s find a bride,” He smiles, embarrassed at his idea. “By the ways, I’m Chase, the family lawyer, and all we need to do is convince someone willing to be an instant bride, and I’ll help with the processing of divorce.” He explains and speaks very fast.
My lips curved a mocking smile. “Chase, the family lawyer,” I gritted my teeth. “We are talking about a person, not noodles, that if you craved for ramen and it’s not available, you could just have the instant cup noodles instead!” I snarled, not breathing as I ranted at him.
“You don’t know my uncle, Miss….” He asks, trying to look cute, which didn’t need to.
“Leigh.” I heave a deep sigh and look heavenward. I don’t go to church often, but now I really need a miracle.
I don’t want to be dragged into hell, and for the sake of saving my face and my business, his idea seems okay.
“Okay… Bride… Bride? Hmm...” I repeat, pacing, too, and then I stop and look at Ella. She was once a print model, a beautiful lad at twenty-six before she decided to join my insanity of starting the business.
Her eyes widen. “Don’t look at me. I’m pregnant.”
“You’re pregnant?” I ask, raising my eyebrows and glancing at her sexy body.
She squeals excitedly. “Two weeks.”
It is a piece of good news, but I could not help myself from sneering at her. My nose creases as I sniffle again.
Our eyes turn to Alfie. He roars with laughter, but when we glare at him, he covers his mouth right away with his hands.
“As much as I appreciate you considering me, the groom would surely cut off my head before I could enter the banquet garden.”
I roll my eyes and purse my lips for a brief second. “Point taken, but Alfie, you know a lot of single women, maybe... you know...” I raise my hand, scratching my head and feeling desperate.
He nods, showing his dimples as his lips curve an uncertain smile. He glances at his stainless steel wristwatch, and then he combs his hair as he looks at Chase.
“Tons… but Leigh, with the time left, the only single woman I could suggest and ask right now is...” He takes a deep breath and frowns, getting himself ready for beating.