My nerves are skyrocketing as I make my way down the main stairs to meet everyone for breakfast. I’ve never had a problem talking to people, but after last night and then again this morning, meeting Jesse and Amelia scares the crap out of me. I’m worried of what they’ll think and if they’ll still want me to plan the wedding. Not that they have much of a choice since the wedding is in less than three weeks, but still, they could ask me to leave. The thought of leaving so soon, even before I get to see the finished touches, saddens me. I don’t know why, of course, considering I’m leaving anyway at the end of the three weeks. I guess the Donovans get under your skin.
Or one in particular.
In the short amount of time I’ve spent with the Donovans, I’ve actually grown fond of them. They’re nothing like I imagined. I like them, even if Ada is batshit crazy,
“Hi, Pagan. They’re in the dining room. It seems everyone had a lie-in this morning,” Jeff tells me as I meet him at the bottom of the stairs.
I smile at the old man, taking his arm when he offers. “I think it’s the booze that did it.”
He laughs, squeezing my arm gently. “It probably was. My Emily had to put Miss Ada to bed after she found her asleep outside by the pool.”
“Oh no!” I chuckle. Can’t help it.
“Jesse, Amelia and their sister, Gabriella, are already in there. Angela’s gone out for breakfast, and Drake just stepped outside to answer a call. I’ve not seen Mr Beckett this morning.”
My smile turns tight when we arrive outside the dining room. “I’m sure he’ll make his presence known.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Be wary of that one,” he says, gazing down the hall. “Go on in. Emily will be in shortly with breakfast.”
“Thank you.” Leaning up, I kiss his cheek, giggling when a blush rises on his face. “See you in a bit, Jeff.”
He clears his throat. “You too. Now eat.”
When I enter the room, everyone turns to me with bright smiles.
“Hi, Pagan. This is my sister, Gabriella. She got in this morning.” Jesse is all smiles as he introduces me to his sister.
“Hi, Gabriella. It’s lovely to meet you,” I tell her.
My, the Donovans must have good genes. All three of their kids are beautiful.
Gabriella has flawless milk-coloured skin, dark silk brown hair and bright blue eyes like her brother’s. Except hers don’t hold anything on his. His are sharp, piercing, like they can see right through to your soul.
“I’m so glad you could make it. When Grams said she hired you, I didn’t believe her. A few of my friends and I attended a women’s aid charity gala in Wales last year. It was incredible,” she gushes as she walks up to greet me, kissing me on each cheek.
I beam, proud of that gala. “I’m so glad you enjoyed it. We do one every year.”
Jeff pops his head through the door, clearing his throat. “Emily will be serving breakfast. Would you like me to wake Mr. Beckett?”
“He’s awake,” I blurt out without thinking. Not wanting to implicate myself, I add, “Ada spoke with me this morning and mentioned she passed him.”
“All right. I’ll let Emily know.”
I nod and turn back to the room. Gabriella puts her arm around me, steering me towards the large oak table. “You have to tell me everything about your job. It’s so fascinating. You must meet loads of gorgeous men whilst working,” she says excitedly.
If only she knew her brother is the only one.
Stunned at the thought, I trip over my feet. My hands land on the table, knocking over a plate, fork and whatever else was there.
“I’m so sorry,” I say, bending down to pick up the smashed plate.
“Hey, it’s fine. I’ll get a broom from Emily. Don’t touch it,” Gabriella says before rushing from the room.
I ignore her, picking up the broken pieces and placing them in a pile.
“You really don’t need to do that,” Jesse says.
“It’s fine, nearly done,” I explain. I’m just picking up the last big piece when I notice a fork under the table. On hands and knees, I crawl under it a little, grabbing the fork.
“Well, you really were literal this morning. But with so many eyes?” Drake’s voice sounds from above me.
Shooting up, I bang my head on the table. “Ouch.”
“Shit! This is becoming a pattern.” He comes into view as I get to my knees, a smug grin on his face.
“Ugh, why are you always there when I do something incredibly embarrassing?”
“Better question, why do you keep falling all over yourself in front of me?”
I glare at him. “Your ego is impressive,” I tell him sarcastically. Jesse and Amelia laugh and my face heats.
I’m really never going to get a glowing review after this job.
“I know, right?”
I continue to glare and get up from the floor, dusting off my leggings and top.
“I’ve got the broom,” Gabriella yells as she comes barging back in. “Hey, I told you not to touch it. Did you cut yourself?”
Smiling, I shake my head. “No, I’m fine. Here, let me do it since I made the mess.”
“No, you sit down. Emily’s coming now.”
Seeing she’s not going to let me clean my own mess, I take a seat, growling when Drake drop into the one next to me.
He leans over, making sure no one else can hear him when he whispers in my ear, “Admit it, you’re totally thinking of having sweaty, dirty sex on the table right now, aren’t you?”
Turning, I narrow my eyes at him. But now that he’s put the thought in my head, I’m actually thinking about it.
Grr, I hate him.
“Actually I’m thinking of how I’m going to make it through breakfast without stabbing you with my fork.” I smile sweetly.
“Feisty. I like them feisty.” He winks, turning to the door when Emily walks in with a rolling tray of food. “Emily, that smells amazing.”
She giggles. “Thank you, Drake. Enjoy.”
A message alert goes off and a small smile touches my lips when everyone rushes to grab their phones.
Jesse frowns down at his as he looks over the screen.
“Everything okay, honey?”
“Um, yeah. Aaron can’t make it to breakfast. He said he’s had an allergic reaction to something and his face is swollen.”
I choke on air and Drake starts laughing, patting my back. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” I croak out.
“Is he okay?” Amelia asks, looking concerned.
“Yeah. Emily, can you take some food up for him? He’s hungover, and I don’t want him to be ill all day because of an empty stomach.”
“Of course. I hope he’s okay. I’ll have to see if I have any cream for him,” Emily assures him before leaving the room.
“Looks like it’s just us,” Gabriella beams, seeming happy that Aaron won’t be joining us.
*** *** ***
When Amelia and Jesse asked me to meet them in their father’s office after breakfast, I thought for sure they were going to fire me. After what happened last night, then sleeping in their brother’s bed and drawing on the best man’s face, I was pretty certain. What I didn’t expect was to be handed a non-disclosure form.
“I don’t understand,” I say, reading through it. It seems pretty simple, and in my line of work, I’ve had to sign a few of these. I just don’t understand why I would have to with Amelia and Jesse. Yes, they’re wealthy, but from what I know, they lead simple lives. Amelia runs a successful clothing line and Jesse is a lawyer. Both great jobs, but none that would really require this.
“We’ll explain once you’ve signed. We couldn’t say anything over the phone since we didn’t want our engagement getting out so soon.”
I nod, signing the paper once I’ve finished reading the last page. “It’s fine. I’m just surprised is all.”
Handing it over, I give them a reassuring smile, hoping they don’t confuse my surprise with disapproval.
“Amelia’s last name isn’t Hudson. It’s Fisher,” Jesse tells me.
I raise my eyebrows, wondering if that’s supposed to mean something to me. “I’m sorry, I’m still not following.”
He chuckles and Amelia smiles. “It’s okay. Many people don’t know, but the ones who do make my life hell. I’m Amelia Fisher, Eric Fisher’s daughter.”
Eric Fisher. Eric Fisher. Eric Fisher.
“The prime minister, Eric Fisher?” I ask, swallowing hard.
Eric Fisher has been hounded in the press after he was accused of abusing his power as prime minister. He was accused of living in sheer hedonism and pure greed, but from what the press released on TV, he lives a day-to-day life like any other person.
“I see you’ve heard?”
“Um, yes. I’m sorry for what’s happening in the papers,” I tell her. They are brutal. If it weren’t for the testimony from a spokesperson and pictures of his home that were revealed, I’d have believed the newspapers.
“Thank you. It’s been hard for him, constantly defending his name and title. He does everything he can for our country, but there’s always someone wanting to get higher in their job,” she seethes, a lost look in her eyes.
“Hey, it’s fine. Your dad’s been wrongfully accused. People will know that,” Jesse says, hugging his fiancé lovingly.
A pang of jealousy hits me. I try to mask it, but a part of me desperately wants what they have. I’d love someone to comfort me or hold me when some idiot has royally pissed me off at work. But most of all, I want someone to look at me the way Jesse is looking at Amelia.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just get upset over it,” she explains, wiping under her eyes.
“It’s fine. I understand now why you’ve wanted to keep this on the down-low.” I smile softly.
“They’ve been following us around since it all came out. We’re worried that when the news hits we’re getting married, they’ll use that as another way to get at my father. He’s a wealthy man, was before he was even elected, but they won’t mention that. They’ll be too focused on the money spent on our wedding.”
My heart aches for her. Her wedding day isn’t supposed to have a black cloud hanging over it.
“I promise I’ll do everything in my power to make sure your day is special. But something tells me there’s more to why you brought me in here.”
“There is,” Jesse says, smiling now. “We have a few trusted magazines who have been supportive of Eric and are close with my parents. We want to make an announcement to those magazines in a few days. We were hoping you’d arrange for that to be done.”
“That’s fine. If you give me names and numbers or email addresses, I’ll put it on my schedule. But how have they not found out already?”
It’s Amelia’s turn to smile now. “We actually got engaged six months ago, but it happened the same time my dad was accused, so we’ve only told family.”
“That’s why you haven’t sent invitations out,” I say almost to myself. I always thought it was weird since most people need time to arrange sitters or get time off work.
“Yes. Close family know the date already, but we didn’t want to risk it getting out if we told friends. It’s another reason why I got stuck with my cousin as maid of honour. My best friend, Hallie, knows, but we’ve been friends since we were little.”
“I’ve listed names and addresses in here for invitations. We’ve looked over everything you sent Mum and we love all of it. And again, thank you for organising our wedding on such short notice. We couldn’t have done it without you,” Jesse says.
“It’s what I do.” I smile, taking the list from him. “Would you like me to get my colleague to sign a non-disclosure form, or would you like to take care of it?”
“We’ll let you sort that out. We trust you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get some things for tonight,” Jesse tells me, grinning.
After he leaves, I turn to Amelia. “Is there anything you need me to do before I grab your dress for the engagement party?”
“Can I come with you? I’d like to try it on one more time to make sure it fits.”
“Of course you can. I have to go to the baker for a taste testing of your cake. I think he’s just worried with the size, thinking it’ll go to waste if it’s not liked.”
She laughs. “Roberto’s, right?”
“My mum had hers made there for her third wedding. She didn’t bother taste testing because she was worried about putting weight on. He refused to make it until it was tasted. I got the pleasure and it was superb. I’d be happy to go,” she tells me, and I giggle at her dreamy expression.
“Let’s get going, then.”
“We should ask Gabriella. We can make this a girls’ day and go for lunch,” she offers.
“Sounds like a plan. Let me grab my things and I’ll meet you outside. I’ll drive.”