Confetti Confidential: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Having realized that fashion design may not be the best profession for her, Isabel Bookbinder has made another career move - this time, into the world of wedding planning! She's still the ditzy, adorable heroine that we love, and her early misadventures include brides being delivered to the wrong ceremony, brides not actually turning up at all – that sort of thing! But despite all that, she is really beginning to get quite good at her job. She's landed a big celebrity client, and she's moved in with her perfect ...
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Confetti Confidential: A Novel

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Overview

Having realized that fashion design may not be the best profession for her, Isabel Bookbinder has made another career move - this time, into the world of wedding planning! She's still the ditzy, adorable heroine that we love, and her early misadventures include brides being delivered to the wrong ceremony, brides not actually turning up at all – that sort of thing! But despite all that, she is really beginning to get quite good at her job. She's landed a big celebrity client, and she's moved in with her perfect lawyer boyfriend, Will - and this time, it's for good. So when her best friend gets engaged to her brother, it seems like the universe is finally aligning in Isabel's favor - that is, until Will becomes increasingly reluctant to discuss their future...

Will Isabel be able to pull off the wedding that could make or break her career? Can she ever measure up in her father's eyes? And will she ever have a wedding day all of her own?

With her characteristic humor, charm, and tendency to stumble into sticky situations, Isabel Bookbinder is an irresistible heroine you’re sure to fall in love with.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439193358
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 410,630
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Holly McQueen is the author of four novels—The Glamorous (Double) Life of Isabel Bookbinder, Fabulously Fashionable, Confetti Confidential, and There Goes the Bride. She lives in London with her husband.
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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

THIS IS A BIG day for me and I really, really don’t want to screw it up.

The moment my alarm clock went off this morning, I was up, out of bed, and into the shower. A swift, invigorating lather-up with a zingy grapefruit shower gel, followed by an equally invigorating scrub-down with one of those weird oily salt rubs that people keep giving me for Christmas, and I was fresh out of the bathroom less than ten minutes after getting up.

I do kind of wish I hadn’t bothered with the weird oily salt rub, though. It left this slick, slightly smelly layer all over my skin, and I had to spend another ten minutes blotting myself with a paper towel just so that I didn’t look (and smell) a little bit like I spent the night sleeping in a giant frying pan.

Once I’d blotted myself off and thrown on my lovely cosy waffle-knit bathrobe, I headed for the kitchen to make myself an energizing cup of coffee. Well—I say “headed” for the kitchen. My flat is so tiny that I’m actually in the kitchen the moment I step out of the bathroom. In fact, even calling it a flat is generous. It’s what the estate agent I rented it from euphemistically called a studio and what Mum and Dad unappealingly call a bedsit. I’m not wild about either term, to be honest, because the former makes me sound like I live here surrounded by half-painted canvases and empty bottles of absinthe, and the latter like I live here surrounded by half-written philosophy essays and empty cans of Strongbow cider. Neither of which is remotely close to the truth.

Anyway, while I was waiting for the kettle to boil, I started up my laptop and had a little nose through the online tabloids. This might just look like idle time-wasting, but in fact it’s an extremely important part of my job. If I’m ever going to make it as a Top Wedding Consultant, it’s absolutely vital that I’m up to date on the tiniest developments in celebrity relationships. Even after just a couple of weeks on the job, I can already see that competition for the best clients is pretty brutal, so I’ll need to be all geared up and ready at the slightest sign of any imminent engagement announcements. Think how impressive it would be if, only hours after you let the world know you’d decided to take the plunge, a wedding planner was calling you with a fully developed plan for your big day. Perhaps a plan with lovely personal references to some of your favourite hobbies, and maybe incorporating elements from your recent romantic getaways in the Seychelles and Mauritius.

Though I’d have to be careful not to come across like a dangerous stalker at that point, obviously.

So. What relationship-related news is out there today? Well, I see from the Daily Mail that the nice lady who presents that neighbors-from-hell program on the BBC has been photographed coming out of the gym with a sneaky cigarette in her hand. And the Mirror is simply beside itself with excitement that somebody who almost made it through to the boot camp stage of The X Factor has admitted to recreational drug use and an addiction to lap dances.

Well, you don’t always strike gold. Besides, if everything goes well at my meeting today, I may not need to trawl about the tabloids trying to detect imminent celebrity engagements anymore. I could find myself automatically catapulted to the very top echelons of the Wedding Consultancy circuit, the first port of call for any self-respecting star who’s planning to get married.

Which would be completely brilliant, obviously.

While my cafetiere was steeping, I made myself a quick piece of toast, and then went to eat it on my Power Plate machine. That isn’t me having some bonkers, LA-style eating disorder, by the way, where you can only eat carbohydrates if you actually burn off the calories while you ingest them. It’s simply because I have this great big Power Plate machine that I bought a few months ago, and there’s literally nowhere else I can put it. With hindsight, it probably wasn’t the smartest way to invest nine hundred quid, but I was working in the fashion industry at the time, and I was just getting a little bit tired of always being the only person in any given room with a muffin top creeping over the tops of my jeans. Though obviously, giving up on actual muffin tops might have been a more sensible way to treat my neurosis.

Still, I will get around to using my Power Plate at some stage. And for the time being, seeing as I don’t really have room for an actual table, it really is a jolly handy place to sit and eat my toast.

Anyway, now I’ve taken my nice steaming cup of coffee back up to my bedroom on the mezzanine level, so I can have a look in my wardrobe and decide what I’m going to wear today.

Actually, let me rephrase that—what I’m going to wear with my black suit today. Because black suits seem to be what all the Top Wedding Consultants wear. My new boss, Pippa Everitt, who’s right up there with the very best in the field, never comes to work in anything else. Obviously, seeing as I’m not yet a completely fully fledged Consultant myself, I’m not usually required to wear anything other than jeans and a freshly pressed T-shirt, but today I’m going to be conducting an important client meeting of my own. Correctly styling my brand-new Karen Millen suit might make all the difference between getting the gig, or not getting it at all.

Right. I think I’ll team it with this nice, crisp white shirt, some minimal, elegant jewelry, and these sensible black peep-toe heels I bought en route to my boyfriend Will’s office Christmas do when I suddenly panicked that the skyscraper red heels I was wearing made me look less like a tax lawyer’s girlfriend and more like a tax dodger’s bit-on-the-side.

Then, because I’m worried this whole Look is just far too trainee accountant, I abandon the minimal jewelry and sling on a huge pair of chandelier earrings and a bright turquoise bangle.

Which just makes me look like a trainee accountant on dress-down Friday.

So I replace the crisp white shirt with a slouchy gray V-neck T-shirt, ditch the boring black courts for my favorite spiky black stilettos, forget about jewelry altogether and just accessorize it all with the lucky Mikkel Borgessen clutch bag that has got me through big meetings before.

Yes. That’s more like it. This is the Look that will catapult me out of the realms of assistanthood and into the top echelons of celebrity wedding planning.

The thing is, when I took the job with Pippa Everitt, I knew it was going to sound like a bit of a backward step. I’ve spent the last year working as Deputy Creative Director to a top fashion designer, no less, so stepping into the role of Pippa’s assistant was always going to look retrograde. But you can’t afford to be snooty about that kind of thing if it’s going to help you get where you want. And being a Top Wedding Consultant is what I really, passionately, want to do, more than I’ve ever wanted anything else before. And all right, as my friend Lara pointed out, that’s pretty much exactly what I said about novel-writing when I really, passionately wanted to be a novelist, and it’s certainly a lot like what I said about fashion designing when I really, passionately wanted to be a fashion designer. But this is completely different. And I’ll take any low-rung job if it gets me on the ladder.

Though if I could skip up a couple of rungs, that would be fantastic, too. Which is why I need to just spend a few minutes tidying up some very important work right now in time for my big client meeting.

I head down the stairs into my living “area,” reach for the leather conference file on the coffee table next to the sofa, and open it up to the notes I finally finished printing out at two o’clock this morning.

Though in some ways, I don’t like to think of them as just plain notes. I like to think of them as more like an agenda. Or a strategy, perhaps. Or even—and I wouldn’t admit this to just anyone—a kind of manifesto.

Because honestly, this is what got me all fired up about weddings in the first place. When my old boss, Nancy Tavistock, suddenly announced back in May that she was getting married, only a couple of months after her divorce was finalized, I immediately volunteered to help her out in any way that I could. And even though she hired Pippa Everitt to pull together a spectacular big day on spectacularly short notice, Nancy needed all kinds of extras that Pippa didn’t and couldn’t provide. Like, to-ing and fro-ing with Nancy’s lawyers to make sure all her legal affairs were tied up before she jumped into marriage with a penniless twenty-three-year-old male model. Like, tracking down a top personal trainer to make sure Nancy looked her absolute best in her own-label wedding gown (and, I suppose, before she jumped into bed with a twenty-three-year-old male model). Like, speaking repeatedly on the phone to Nancy’s sisters in Chicago, and finally persuading them that even though they’d been jealous of her all their lives, they’d regret it if they didn’t take up the invitation to fly first-class to London and watch their little sister walk down the aisle. And then, a couple of weeks later, as I watched a serene, newly toned, blissfully happy Nancy setting off to Syon House to get married, I realized that some of her serenity, and a little bit of her happiness, and pretty much all of the toning, was down to me.

So when Pippa took me aside between the dinner and the dancing to mention that she’d been impressed by my work, and would I consider coming and working as her new assistant, I jumped at the chance.

Because it’s just so obvious that there’s this huge gap in the market—not for plain old ordinary wedding planning but for a whole new kind of wedding planning. You could call it holistic wedding planning if that didn’t bring to mind images of aromatherapy massages and Hopi ear-candling. You could call it ultimate wedding planning if that didn’t bring to mind shouty Territorial army cadets doing shouty Territorial army things in the Yorkshire Dales.

But then I don’t really think of it as Wedding Planning at all. I prefer to think of it as Bride Management.

I look down at the first page of my manifesto and read my opening lines.

So just what is BRIDE MANAGEMENT™?
It’s the New Generation of Wedding Planning that’ll guide you all the way from engagement to altar!

Hmm. Sounds a little bit stiff, to me. A little bit formal.

… from opening the Tiffany’s box to opening the door of the honeymoon suite!

Ugh, no. That one manages to sound both grasping and creepy in equal measure.

Wait. I’ve got it.

… from “I Will” to “I Do.”

Perfect.

Well, I think it’s perfect. All I can hope for now is that Wendy Gordon sees it the same way.

The lobby of Gordon/Miskoff PR is painted a soft, flattering off-white, with pale wooden floorboards. There are low leather sofas, large black-framed mirrors, yucca plants in big pots, and lots of strategic up-lighting, presumably so Gordon/Miskoff’s celebrity clientele don’t accidentally catch a glimpse of themselves in one of the large mirrors and panic that they’ve suddenly started looking their age, and that Wendy Gordon had better get them a “Fabulous New Look!” photo shoot with OK! magazine double quick. In short, apart from the up-lighting, it’s pretty much the same as any other office, right down to the bored-looking girl at the reception desk, the bike messengers neglecting to remove their helmets as required by the sign on the swing doors, and the scowling man in the black suit surgically attached to his BlackBerry on the low leather sofa opposite me.

Over the last ten minutes, it has become clear to me that he’s also a Top Wedding Consultant, and so therefore my competition for this job. Pretty tough competition, too, because he’s been on the phone to all the top suppliers, the people that my boss Pippa also uses to source her flowers and her favors and her stationery.

“Yes, Caroline,” he’s saying now to a woman on the other end of the phone who, I assume, is Caroline Quartermaine of Quartermaine Press, one of the top wedding stationers in London. “I did say I wanted the seven-inch by four-point five … well, I suggest you go back and check your records … no, my bride wants to look at a gold edge and a silver edge … well, Caroline, it would be an order for two hundred and fifty Save the Date cards, two hundred and fifty invitations, and a hundred and seventy-five Orders of Service, so I’d have thought you’d be extremely keen to make sure I don’t start looking at other stationers …”

I shoot him a couple of sympathetic glances, which I think he takes to mean something else entirely, because quite suddenly, and rather rudely, he gets to his feet and goes to continue his conversation across the other side of the reception area, near the potted yuccas.

Well. I was only trying to be friendly. I mean, I know we’re competing for the same client, but that’s no reason not to try and show a little bit of solidarity.

Besides, I know exactly how he feels. I’ve only been a wedding planner for a couple of weeks, but I seem to have spent approximately ten whole days of that on the phone to people like Caroline Quartermaine myself. Honestly, there’s nothing I couldn’t tell you about the intricacies of the stationery business. I can withhold on all manner of trivia, from plate-sinking to blind embossing, from the ideal card thickness (600 gsm, in case you’re interested), to the advantages of Palace Script over Copperplate. And don’t even get me started on half post quarto sizing, or the best shade of tissue to line your envelopes.

I suppose it’s no surprise, really, that the job isn’t quite as much fun as I imagined it might be.

The thing is, I can’t help feeling a tiny bit cheated by Pippa. Before I went to work with her, she made all these big claims about how I’d be accompanying her to client meetings, giving input on wedding design, and, most importantly of all, actually getting my very own brides to work with. But all she’s done since I started working for her a couple of weeks ago is get me to make phone calls, and run errands, and, on more than one occasion, rustle up a pot of tea. Not to mention the fact that she’s given up pretending any interest in any of my innovative Bride Management techniques that I thought were the things she practically headhunted me from my last job for anyway.

Headhunting, incidentally, is certainly how I described my latest career move to my family. Dad has traditionally taken a pretty dim view of what he likes to call “Isabel’s job-hopping,” so when I told him I was leaving Nancy Tavistock, I knew I was going to have to make the move sound really, seriously worthwhile. As far as Dad’s concerned, unless you’re going forward, you might as well be going backward, which is why I wasn’t going to tell them I’d gone from being Nancy’s Deputy Creative Director to Pippa’s mere Assistant. Hence the handy use of the word headhunting, which is basically true.

And the equally handy use of the word Partner. Which, basically, isn’t.

Still, it’s had the desired effect. Dad’s been surprisingly silent on the whole issue, which, for a Class-A shouter, blamer, and disapprover like him, is pretty much an ideal result. And Mum, obviously, was always going to think the whole idea of a career in weddings was marvelous, as evidenced by the fact that she’s phoned me almost every day since I started, to ask if I’ve had the chance to take anyone dress shopping yet, and if I’d be able to tell her if I ever ended up planning a wedding for someone really famous, like Jennifer Aniston or Madonna.

Scowling Man has finished huddling by the yuccas and has come to sit back down on the sofa opposite. He accidentally meets my eye and clears his throat.

“Bloody stationers.”

“Tell me about it!” I roll my eyes to show that I’m completely au fait with the stresses and strains in the life of the Wedding Consultant.

“I mean, how hard can it be to get me a couple of samples?” He stabs a finger at his BlackBerry in exactly the same kind of end-of-his-tether, weight-of-the-world manner that Pippa also employs on a regular basis. “You’d think in this day and age, they’d be doing everything possible to improve their service. Virtually every bride I work with would be more than happy to send out an invitation on email.”

I nod. “Or on a CD.”

“Sorry?”

“An invitation. On a CD.” I smile at him. “You know, a nice, personalized message from the bride- and groom-to-be, giving all the details of the time and place of the wedding? Ideal when so many couples are choosing to get married abroad, or to have a three-day celebration in place of a more traditional event, and there’s just so much more information to get through. We’re finding it’s ever so popular!” I add, which is a phrase I hear Pippa use when a client is proving reluctant to commit to something.

Scowling Man blinks at me. “Really?”

“Absolutely!” Well, it would be terribly popular if Pippa would actually give me the go-ahead to suggest it to any of her brides. “I mean, we’re in the twenty-first century now, aren’t we? Just because weddings are big on tradition, there’s no point in refusing to avail ourselves of the latest technology!”

He frowns. “Well, surely if you wanted to avail yourself of the latest technology, you’d send out an iPod nano with the personalized message on it, not a crappy old CD?”

Oh.

Actually, he’s got a point.

Though I don’t think he had to be quite so deliberately rude about it.

I reach for my file, flip hurriedly to where I’ve written my Interesting and Innovative Invitation Ideas, cross out every reference I can find to CDs, and start scribbling in iPod nano instead.

I really should have thought of this before. Obviously a personalized iPod nano is far more suitable for Summer Shelley’s wedding invitation than a crappy old CD.

In fact, now I’m thinking it through, it’s completely perfect. I mean, Summer Shelley sings, doesn’t she? That group she was once in, Girlz 4 Ev-A, was meant to be the American answer to the Spice Girls. Though you’d probably have to assume that if they were the answer, then the question must have been something like Shall we shamelessly try to cash in on the Spice Girls’ worldwide success by manufacturing a girl band with very little discernible talent for singing or dancing, but who look completely amazing in neon Lycra? But maybe Summer just never really got to prove her natural singing talent, because Girlz 4 Ev-A were a terrible flop, and she’s had to make her name ever since taking her clothes off for men’s magazines, appearing on shows like Celebrity Big Brother, and, most recently, getting engaged to Tim Holland. Which has actually gained her far more notoriety than her seminude photo shoots ever did, because he’s the heir to a multimillion-pound retail fortune, and pretty notorious himself for his twin habits of (a) relentless modelizing and (b) shoveling industrial amounts of cocaine up his nostrils. Though not anymore, obviously. A stint in the Priory rehab center and hooking up with Summer Shelley have put an end to all that.

Anyway, maybe an MP3 of her singing a couple of nice, romantic ballads as her very own wedding invitation might give her stalled music career a whole new start! Summer could be back in the charts again, and all because of me and my Interesting and Innovative Invitation Ideas.

Well, all because of that and Scowling Man. I mean, credit where credit is due.

“Isabel Bookbinder?”

I glance up as my name is suddenly spoken. It’s a tall, skinny girl in dark denim and horn-rimmed glasses, standing at the swinging doors that must lead through to the main office. “Hi,” she continues. “I’m Natalie, Wendy’s assistant. We’re ready to see you now.”

“Great!” I get to my feet.

“And you’re here from …” She glances at a clipboard. “Pippa Everitt Weddings?”

“That’s right!” I’m unable to resist a glance over my shoulder at Scowling Man, whose ears have pricked up at the mention of the eminent Pippa. “She’d have loved to have been here today, but I’m afraid there was a dreadful emergency at the office.”

I cross my fingers behind my back as I say this. Because really, it’s a little bit of a fib. Pippa not only wouldn’t have loved to have been here today but she doesn’t actually know that I’m here in her stead.

The thing is, I was the one who answered the phone when Wendy Gordon called yesterday morning, and I just assumed Pippa would be thrilled about the possibility of planning a wedding for Summer Shelley. But as soon as I hung up and asked Pippa if she could squeeze in a preliminary meeting with Wendy some time this week, she gave me a long lecture on how I’m never supposed to agree to things without checking with her first, and an even longer lecture on how she hates working with celebrities, and how after the hell of planning her current celeb wedding, she’d only work with another one if somebody was holding a loaded gun to her head. And then she told me to call Wendy back and give her a flat-out, categorical No.

Which, obviously, I didn’t do. I waited until Pippa went out for her client lunch, then called Wendy back and gave her a flat-out, categorical Yes.

Look, I do feel bad about going behind Pippa’s back. But as soon as she realizes that she won’t have to do a thing, and that I’m the one who’ll have all the hassle that comes with a celebrity wedding, I’m sure she’ll understand. Besides, it’ll be her wedding consultancy that will get all the amazing kudos and the publicity from an exclusive magazine deal. Honestly, she’ll be thanking me for it. I’m absolutely certain.

Natalie leads me through a corridor and into a large, bright office, where a woman is sitting at a big glass desk. This is Wendy Gordon of Gordon/Miskoff PR.

Well, maybe Miskoff is the glamorous half of the partnership, responsible for the sleek offices and the trendy Marylebone location.

Because honestly, for a well-known celebrity publicist, Wendy is a bit of a surprise. She’s wearing a plain black trouser suit over a straining V-neck T-shirt, and I can see beneath the desk that her feet are shoved into a horrible pair of zebra-stripe driving shoes. Her round face is un-made-up apart from an unflattering slash of rose-pink lipstick, and her mousy brown hair is cut in a short style that—and believe me, I should know about this—doesn’t flatter its frizzy texture.

She doesn’t get up. She doesn’t even glance up.

“Is this one of them?” she asks in a sharp voice.

“Yes, Wendy.” Natalie nods me toward the chair opposite the desk. “This is Isabel Bookbinder, from Pippa Everitt Weddings. Pippa does send her apologies, apparently,” she adds, as she sensibly begins to retreat out of the office, “but she’s dealing with a huge emergency this morning.”

Wendy’s head suddenly snaps upward, and she fixes me with a beady stare. “I see. Well, if Pippa isn’t that interested in working on my client’s wedding—”

“Oh, no! I mean, yes. I mean, of course she’s interested!” I can feel myself getting warm in my Karen Millen jacket. “And I’m sure, Wendy, that when you see the wonderful ideas she’s put together, you’ll realize just how truly committed she is.”

“All right. Let’s see the wonderful ideas.”

I flip open my folder and take out my manifesto. “I do apologize for the small alterations,” I say, handing a copy to her. “Somebody failed to spot a typographical error, and so where you see the words MP3 player …”

“Yes, yes, there’s no need to worry about things like that,” Wendy interrupts. “We’re only really interested in your suggestions for my client’s wedding.”

“Absolutely!” I beam at her. “Well, as you’ll see from page one, which deals with the wedding design itself, we’ve really been inspired by the transatlantic nature of the couple’s relationship.”

I have to say, I’m really pleased with myself about this bit. Summer Shelley being American and Tim Holland being British, I’ve come up with all these fabulous ways of incorporating both sides of their heritage.

“As you can see, I’m suggesting a lovely traditional English garden party theme for the afternoon drinks reception … you know, dancing round the Maypole, cream teas, big jugs of Pimm’s or fresh lemonade, because obviously”—I lower my voice discreetly—“I know that the groom might prefer a nonalcoholic option.”

Wendy says nothing.

“Er … and then that would be followed by a witty New York theme for the evening reception. I mean, what nicer way to welcome all their guests, from Britain and America alike!”

“Canada.”

“Sorry?”

“Canada. Summer Shelley is Canadian, not American. Her family will be flying in from Canada.”

Oh.

Well, this has put a bit of a wrench in the works of the witty New York theme.

“‘Your guests will be able to wander between authentic New York street-food stalls,’” Wendy is reading aloud, “‘where they can enjoy tasty treats from hot dog carts and delicious wares from pretzel stands—and not forgetting that glamorous old-time speakeasy serving Manhattans and Cosmopolitans (nonalcoholic also available).’”

“Which can all be perfectly easily adjusted to add some Canadian flavor!” I say hastily. “I mean, we could serve mini pancake stacks with maple syrup … er … maple-smoked bacon sandwiches … all served on horseback by Canadian Mounties …”

Wendy’s eyebrows arch into an unimpressed V, and she scribbles a couple of notes in the pad on her desk. “All right … so, I have a few questions about security. Obviously, there’s going to be a certain amount of press interest in my client’s wedding—”

I hold up a hand. “Wendy. I can assure you that we would guarantee absolute paparazzi neutrality.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Paparazzi neutrality! If you just flip to page two …” I take her handout from her and turn over the page myself. “You can see in detail our pledge to arrange top-quality security services. After all, nobody wants a repeat of those awful leaked photos of Catherine Zeta-Jones’s wedding, do they? Or that sneaky photographer who almost got away with crashing Madonna’s wedding up at Skibo?”

Wendy says nothing for a moment. But it’s only because she’s continuing to read page two. I mean, I know we got off to a bit of a shaky start, but I think she’s starting to be just a little bit impressed by my manifesto. And just wait until she gets onto the appendix, with my Interesting and Innovative Invitation Ideas, and sees my suggestion about those MP3 players …

Quite suddenly, her head snaps up again.

“I’m sorry, but what the hell is Bride Management?”

I clear my throat. “Well, traditional wedding planning methods don’t even begin to take into account the real strains and stresses faced by the average twenty-first-century bride, celebrity or otherwise. We’re long past the days when a wedding planner was useful for nothing more than ordering the invitations and booking the string quartet. Nowadays there are many brides who want—no, who need—far more support than that.”

I’m so pleased all that came out right. I spent long enough practising it in front of the mirror last night.

But Wendy doesn’t seem quite so impressed. In fact, she’s started staring at me like I’ve just escaped from a nearby mental ward.

Maybe this isn’t actually going quite as well as I’d begun to think.

“Perhaps it might make more sense if you have a little look at some of the fantastic special services we offer.” I take Wendy’s handout again and turn another page for her.

“It says here you can organize therapy.” She glances up at me. “You mean massages and spa treatments?”

“No, I mean Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.”

“You offer psychiatric services?”

“Oh, Christ, no. Just Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s just this very gentle form of therapy, almost like reprogramming the way your thoughts work—”

“I know what it is!” she snaps. “I’m just baffled as to why a wedding planner would arrange it.”

“Oh, well!” I flap a hand. “The reasons are legion. It could be that the bride is having sleepless nights of worry, or that she’s even suffering the occasional panic attack—”

“And personal training?” Wendy stabs the page with a stubby finger. “Summer doesn’t need her wedding planner to arrange a personal trainer! I’m pretty sure she already has one.”

“Ah, in that case, we could act as an all-important liaison between her trainer and her dress designer. You know, bring him along to fittings so he’d be aware of everything he needed to do to get Summer looking her absolute best in her dress. Some serious tricep toning, perhaps, if she’s chosen a strapless style. Or if she’s gone for something cut on the bias, then we’d be looking at squats, I imagine, and lots of lunges.”

Wendy takes a deep breath. “Miss Bookbinder. Summer Shelley has appeared nearly naked in Maxim. She has promoted her lingerie range wearing only a thong and a pair of strategically placed Swarovski crystals. I don’t think anyone needs to worry about getting her to do extra squats and lunges before her wedding day.”

“Oh, God, of course. I only meant, you know, in case there are any nasty telephoto lenses lurking around, trying to snatch shots at unflattering angles—”

“Well, according to you”—Wendy gives a short, mirthless laugh—“the paparazzi will have been sufficiently neutralized to eliminate that risk.”

Oh.

Well, I suppose I did kind of walk into that one.

“Look, Wendy …” I take a deep breath. “I realize that some of what I’m suggesting here might sound a little bit unusual …”

“I think that would be putting it mildly.”

“… but it’s just because we’re trying to offer our brides a really special experience.” I put a hand on my chest but then take it very swiftly off again when I feel my heart racing like mad beneath my rib cage. “We’re there for our brides twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week …”

“In that case, I really should be letting you get back to business.” Wendy gets to her feet—she looks even shorter, standing, than I thought she would—and extends a graceless hand. “Thank you for your time.”

I get to my feet, too. “And thank you for your time. Will I … um … be hearing from you?”

Wendy sits back down, already reaching for her telephone receiver. “Have a very nice day.”

Great.

I’ve blown it, haven’t I?

My big chance, and I’ve blown it.

Well, there’s no point in making a fuss. This is embarrassing enough as it is.

I head for the door. “Oh, please pass on my warmest congratulations to Summer and Tim.”

Wendy nods. “Bring the next one in, will you, Natalie?” she says into her phone as I pull open the door and head back out to reception.

© 2010 Holly McQueen

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