“Ugh, thank God that’s over,” I say once I am safely ensconced in my car. I have to be honest; there are times when I think no amount of money is worth it to do this job. Take today for example. I was contracted to dj a five-hour wedding at a relatively posh golf resort. It’s an event I picked up last minute from my boss because he said they wanted someone low key that could play background music. Translation: it’s going to be a boring event where no one dances and everyone will stare at you waiting for their chance to leave. Once the cake is cut, there will be a mass exodus of people, and the party will continue for the last hour with only about ten people in attendance, including the bride and groom.
Oh, if only it had been that simple!
Today’s event was for a young Asian couple getting married. No big deal; ethnicity doesn’t matter to me nor does gender. In fact, I love doing the lesbian weddings! They are tons of fun! But I digress; today’s event was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The bride spoke no English, and the groom spoke limited English. My liaison was the groom’s sister. OK, weird, but I’ve had other couples that wanted me to interact with someone other than themselves. The couple barely looked at each other during the entire reception, and I think they only spoke to each other when they had to. Turns out, today was only the third meeting between the bride and groom. Their parents had arranged their marriage.
This is the twenty-first century! Do people still do that?!?!?!
Anyway, during the first dance, which I’m sure neither of them understood since the groom’s sister had picked Shania Twain’s From This Moment (Really?!?!), the bride and groom danced for all of one minute before stopping. They then proceeded to move among the tables of guests; bowing to each person they came across. The videographer on the event, Lafayette, and I stared at each other, unsure of what to do. I let the song play out while the newlyweds continued greeting and bowing to their guests, and then started playing quiet background music while this ritual continued. In all, ten minutes were spent bowing to the guests before the maître d could finally get the couple seated. The groom’s sister did all the microphone work because she said everything in their native language. I breathed a sigh of relief when dinner service started because it meant I could put on a cd of music and walk away for an hour while the guests ate.
Lafayette – who’s become a good friend of mine over the years – and I collapsed on one of the couches outside of the ballroom. We both wondered how the hell we were going to get through another four hours of this event.
Turns out, we didn’t. After dinner, the bride and groom immediately cut the cake and the groom’s sister told me to open the dance floor, while guests were still eating. I informed the maître d of what she had requested because that really goes against all protocol at a wedding. The catering staff’s number one goal is to make sure all the guests are fed. If they are up dancing, you have no idea who has and has not eaten their meal. Fortunately this banquet manager was cool and told me to do whatever she said. After playing dance music for twenty minutes, of which the only song they danced to was The Vapors Turning Japanese, the groom’s sister thanked me for my services and told me the party was over. I was shell-shocked. Only one other time in my career has a party ended early, and that was for a bunch of Seventh Day Adventists that didn’t believe in dancing. I wasn’t sure what to do, because they still technically had two and a half more hours on their contract. But all the guests were leaving, so I did the only thing I could.
I packed up and got the hell outta Dodge!
So now I’m in my car, listening to blessed silence because I couldn’t deal with noise at the moment. Sometimes this happens after an event; I just want silence to clear my head. I tend to do this when events are especially bad. When an event goes awesome, I like to jam out on the drive home; keep the euphoria going from the party until I get home. Of course today was the worst of the worst.
Which is why I’m pissed off that my cell phone keeps ringing!
The first time I looked at the caller ID it said it was Claudine, so I ignored the call. Technically, I’m supposed to be working now, so I wouldn’t have been able to answer the call. If she were a normal person, she would have left a voice mail. But ever since becoming a bride, Claudine has ceased to be normal. She’s become a bridezilla. It’s worse than I ever feared. Not only did she not leave me a voice mail, she proceeded to call ELEVEN times in a row! No voice mail at all. Then the text messages started, asking me to call her immediately, that it was an emergency. The last time Claudine said it was an emergency all she wanted was to ask me if I thought the bridesmaids should wear cocktail dresses or floor length dresses. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t rate as an emergency. House fire, emergency room visit, flat tire….those are emergencies. Tonight, she probably just wants to know if I think she should have a string quartet during cocktail hour or a jazz trio. And we still have seven damn months until this shit goes down!
God help us all!
It’s not long before I’m pulling up to my apartment. One of the reasons I chose this place was because each apartment came with a storage unit in the complex, I can store my equipment there and not pay the added expense of an off-site storage facility or worse keeping it in my apartment. I pile my equipment on my hand truck and wheel it towards the elevator. My neighbor, Hoyt, is also waiting for the elevator. I’ve known Hoyt since we were kids; his momma is one of Gran’s best friends, why I don’t know. I’ve never known a more horrible person in my life. Maxine Fortenberry is a selfish, narcissistic, two-faced bitch, and that’s on a good day. I have no idea how Hoyt turned out to be the sweet, kind man he is.
“Hey Sook,” Hoyt says affably as he holds the elevator doors for me. I push the cart in the elevator and try to move it to the side so we can both fit in there comfortably. Once Hoyt’s inside, I press the buttons for the second and fourth floors.
“Hey Hoyt. How ya doin’?” Once upon a time, I had the biggest crush on Hoyt. We’d even gone out a time or two in high school. But Maxine put the kibosh on that real quick. Apparently I had too “wild” a reputation and wasn’t good enough for her little boy. To be honest, I’m happy that Hoyt and I never got serious. I pity the woman who ends up having Maxine Fortenberry as a mother-in-law.
“I’m alright. How was your weddin’ tonight?” Hoyt loves hearing my stories from my weddings; he thinks it’s better than anything he can watch on TV. He’s often telling me I should turn my experiences into a book or a TV show.
“It was strange,” I admit honestly. As the elevator opens on the second level. Hoyt’s gentleman enough to push my equipment out for me and guide it towards our storage units. As I’m about to thank him, my cell phone starts ringing again. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!
Hoyt looks at me with worry on his face as he retrieves his key to unlock the outer door of the storage area. “Who would be calling you so late?”
“It’s Claudine,” I say fuming without bothering to look at my phone.
His brows knit together with concern. “Maybe you should answer it. Might be important.” He unlocks the outer door, twisting the knob to open the door. He drags my cart in behind him and wheels it down to my storage unit. Hoyt flips through his keys looking for the storage unit key to his unit. To be honest, my storage unit is full of crap; I’m not exactly sure what’s in all the boxes but I’m sure it’s shit I thought I couldn’t live without. Hoyt was sweet enough to let me store my equipment in his unit since he has nothing in it. Hoyt really is the best neighbor a girl could ask for. He is willing to help me out when I need it and he has a copy of all my keys. He’s trustworthy, I’ve known him for ages, and he’s a hell of a lot closer than my family if I were locked out of either my apartment or my car.
“It’s not. She’s calling with another wedding emergency I’m sure. Honestly, her wedding isn’t for months. How the hell can she be having emergencies now?” I sigh in exasperation as Hoyt puts my equipment in the storage unit for me. God Bless Hoyt; if I knew it wouldn’t complicate things between us; I’d fuck him as a way of saying thanks for everything he’s done for me. And you know it’s been too long since I’ve gotten laid if I think sleeping with Hoyt Fortenberry is a good idea!
Hoyt chuckles as he locks up the unit and gestures for me to walk out of the storage area. “Aren’t you fond of telling me that the only thing crazier than an Elvis impersonator at a Beatles tribute concert is a bride plannin’ her weddin’?”
I groan as we trudge wearily to the elevator. My phone had stopped ringing only to start again. “Maybe there’s still time for me to enter Witness Protection and change my identity. Do they take runaway bridesmaids?” I turn hopefully, only to have Hoyt chuckle again as the elevator doors open for us. He punches the buttons for the fourth and sixth floors. As the elevator takes us to our respective floors, I wonder if there is a way for me to back out of this. Maybe I can blame it on my boss, saying we’re really busy that day and he won’t let me outta the gig. That sounds like a plausible excuse right? She can’t be mad at me if I have to work. Can she? If it were me, I’d be totally understanding. But Claudine stopped being a rationale human being when Alcide slipped that behemoth engagement ring on her finger. I sigh wearily as I trudge off the elevator towards my apartment. My phone rings again as I’m digging out my keys, and I finally decide to answer it. I’m afraid if I don’t, Claudine will call all night and I’ll never get any sleep.
“Hello,” I say tiredly as I slide the key in the lock to open my door.
“Sookie, where have you been? I’ve called you all night to discuss something important,” Claudine says shrilly.
“I had to work tonight,” I remind her. She knew I was working tonight, because she’d called me yesterday to ask if I could come over tonight and help her look at cardstock samples for the invitations. Though I’m not sure what was worse, the event I did tonight or looking at different pieces of ivory paper trying to decide which one conveyed the right vision for Claudine’s wedding. At least I got paid to be at the wedding.
Claudine huffs impatiently. “Well I needed to talk to you. Why didn’t you pick up?”
“You know damn well I can’t answer the phone when I’m at a wedding. If you really needed something why didn’t you text me?” I slap my hand to my forehead as soon as the words leave my lips. I need to call the phone company and make sure I have unlimited texting because I’m pretty sure Claudine will now be blowing up my phone twenty-four hours a day.
“Fine,” she says indignantly. “I wanted to let you know that Alcide and I have arranged for all the members of the wedding party to meet next Friday night at The Creole Queen. We want everyone to have the chance to get to know one another before we get into the heart and soul of planning my special day.”
There it is; bride tunnel vision! ‘My special day’ means she could care less about what Alcide or anyone else thinks. And The Creole Queen?!?!?! A meal there costs more than I’d spend on groceries for a month. Why the hell does she have to pick one of the most expensive restaurants in town? Why couldn’t this be done at their home or one of their parents’ homes? Not to mention that it’s the day after Thanksgiving. I usually go home Wednesday night and don’t come back to my apartment until Sunday afternoon. I use the weekend to spend time with my family since I so rarely get to see them. Claudine knows that; she’s often harped on me for missing all the good sales since I won’t go shopping with her in Shreveport, opting to go with Momma and Gran to the local Wal-Mart. Thanks for being a selfish cunt Claudine!
Before I can say anything she rushes on. “We’re all meeting at seven, but I’d really like it if you got there earlier. Oh, I’m wearing a cream-colored dress so don’t wear that color. And please don’t wear one of your Wal-Mart sundresses; remember the place has a dress code. Ok? I’ll see you Friday hun. Bye!”
I stare in disbelief once again at my cell phone. What a bitch!
Friday night rolls around and I’m just pulling up to the valet stand outside of The Creole Queen. It’s 7:25 pm, and I already know Claudine is gonna be pissed that I’m late. I’m honestly surprised she’s not blowing up my phone like she did Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. I decided to rebel a bit against her orders on the dress code. The dress I’m wearing didn’t come from Wal-Mart; it came from Target. You’d never know it though because it’s one of those dresses that the famous designers put out for Target. I found it on the clearance rack a few weeks ago when Momma and I were out shopping. The dress was originally priced at $99. Ain’t nobody in Renard Parish that’s gonna be crazy enough to spend $99 on a dress. Even 50% off would be too rich for most people’s blood. But I found it on the rack for 75% off, so I could justify the expense. Plus, I’ll claim it on my taxes as part of my wardrobe expenses for being a DJ. It’s amazin’ the shit you can claim as a deduction when you are considered self-employed! It’s a strapless bandage dress that starts out fuchsia than fades away to white at the hem. The dress really accentuates my hourglass figure, particularly making the girls look huge, not that they are really that small to begin with. Maybe one of the groomsmen will be enamored with the girls and will buy my drinks for me. Hey, you use what the good lord gives you; I can’t help it He gave me huge knockers.
The dress is already paying off since the valet attendant’s eyes damn near bugged out of his head when he opened my door and looked down.
I give him a brilliant smile which seems to befuddle him further. When I ask him if I need a claim ticket, he blushes and stammers as he hands me one of the blue valet tickets.
“Thanks sweetie,” I say with a wink.
“Leave the poor kid alone Sook. You’re gonna make him cream his shorts in a minute,” Tara’s voice floats over to me from where she is standing down the sidewalk inhaling her cigarette. The poor kid turns bright red before scurrying in my car to drive it away.
“Tara Mae Thornton you didn’t need to embarrass the poor kid,” I admonish as I walk to the entrance of the restaurant. She looks stunning in a purple halter dress, smokey make up, and straight ebony hair.
“Oh please. He’s probably rubbing one out in your car as he thinks about you bouncing on top of his dick.” She pulls a last drag from her cigarette before flicking it in one of the sand buckets provided for such a reason.
“Tara Mae! There’s no need to be so nasty,” I admonish with my face twisted in disgust. Great, now I have to worry about cum stains not of my own making in the car. Don’t judge me; who hasn’t had sex in a car?
We meet in front of the restaurant and we embrace like we always do when we see each other. Tara eyes me up and down when we pull apart before whistling appreciatively. “Hell I might have to rub one out later because of those girls. Damn Sook, have they gotten bigger?”
I laugh as we pull open the doors of the restaurant. “I promise you, it’s the dress. So,” I say looking around since I’ve never been here, “how much trouble am I in with Claudine?”
“None that I know of,” Tara says with a shrug. “She and Alcide ain’t here, but a lot of the old gang are. Come on, we’re all hangin’ out in the bar waitin’ for ‘em to show up.”
Why am I not surprised? The only things Claudine’s ever early for are sales at her favorite stores. It makes me wonder how late she’ll be to her own wedding. If the old gang is in the bar, I’m willin’ to bet that one of the guys will start a pool to see how late the bride will be on her wedding day.
One of the first people I see in the bar is Tray Dawson. I run to him happily and throw my arms around him. Tray has always been one of my favorite people since college. Out of all Alcide’s friends, he’s probably the one I like the most. Tray’s been there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on, and he’s been more of a big brother to me than the one I’ve got. I adore Tray and wish that Hadley would finally wake the fuck up and realize that Tray’s been in love with her since the day they met.
“Tray Dawson where the hell have you been hidin’? I haven’t seen you in forever!” He’s a big burly man who wraps me up in his arms and lifts me off the ground, spinning me in a circle. Thank God this dress is painted on me or else everyone in the bar would have gotten a peep show.
“There’s my favorite girl,” Dawson says with a chuckle. He sets me down on my feet, keeping one hand on my waist as he gestures for the bartender. Dawson orders me a gin and tonic, having the bartender put it on his tab. I smile happily; I know Dawson is buying my drink as my friend, not because of my boobs. Well, maybe my boobs had a little to do with it since his eyes light up a little when he hands me my drink.
He holds up his beer and we clink glasses as I take a long swallow. Around the bar are others from our college days, family members for both Alcide and Claudine, and friends they’ve made since we graduated. As I look around the bar, I notice Hadley talking to a tall blond male. She waves enthusiastically at me and I wave back at her with as much enthusiasm. The man she’s talking to turns around to see who she’s waving at.
I lower my hand and the smile fades from my face. I sigh internally. I knew I couldn’t avoid him forever, but you can’t blame a girl for trying.
“Sook,” Dawson says drawing my attention back to him. “You gonna be alright?”
“Yeah Dawson,” I say taking a huge swallow of my drink. “I’m right as rain.”
“No one told you he was the best man,” Dawson says as we watch Hadley and Eric make their way over to us.
Oh joy! I don’t know what I did to make Eric Northman hate me. One minute we were hot and heavy in college and then the next . . .
Tara and Claudine have dragged me to a party that the guys are having in the frat house. I didn’t want to go, and clearly if Eric wanted me here, he would have invited me. But he didn’t, and I don’t know why.
Eric and I have dated for about a month now. Last weekend, I’d gone home for my Gran’s birthday. Before I’d left, things with Eric were amazing. We’d met that day on the basketball court thanks to Claudine’s interference and we’d gone out to dinner that night. We managed to stay until closing time; talking, laughing, and getting to know each other better. It felt like we formed a connection instantly. I knew from when our hands had touched earlier in the day that we were attracted to each other; there was that little jolt that I felt go clear down to my toes. But that jolt was nothing compared to what I felt when his lips touched mine when he walked me to our apartment door. It was supposed to be a simple goodnight kiss, but it ended up being a make out session that lasted for three hours. I was more than happy to be in his arms and feel his lips on mine, but I was not happy about how badly my back hurt the next day. You try being pressed up against a brick wall or a metal railing for three hours and see how your back feels. At least he was nice enough to give me a massage the next night . . . among other things.
Those three weeks were the best I’d ever had with a boyfriend. Eric and I spent every moment possible together. We were even sleeping over in each other’s room almost every night. Just sleeping, no sex. Not that I didn’t want to and Eric certainly wanted to, but we never seemed to find enough time to be alone. Someone was always around our apartment or over at the frat house where Eric lived. And neither one of us wanted to rush through our first time together. Given how explosive our chemistry was together, a quickie wasn’t going to be enough to satiate either one us.
But when I came back from my weekend in Bon Temps, things with Eric were different. He was withdrawn and found reasons not to see me. This entire week I’ve only seen him a handful of times, and not for any significant amount of time. I don’t know what happened; I couldn’t get him to talk to me. So I was less than enthusiastic about coming here tonight where I knew I would have to see him. Why’s he been avoiding me? Did I do something wrong?
Once we got to the house, Claudine ditched Hadley and me, making a beeline for Alcide. We knew we wouldn’t see her for the rest of the night; the two of them will end up fucking the night away. It’s a wonder her vagina hasn’t broken yet from the amount of sex they have. Hadley, God bless her, doesn’t leave my side. She squeezes my hand, letting me know she’s here for me.
“Do you want me to come with you to look for Eric?”
I nod my head yes. There are a ton of people here, more than at one of the usual frat parties. I think it’s the birthday for one of the brothers and that’s why it’s such a huge celebration. We have to push our way through the crowd, making our way from one room to the next. It’s on the patio of the house where I feel like my heart is gonna break. Sitting on one of the loungers is Eric stretched out and on top of him is Yvetta, the campus whore, dry humping him for all she’s worth as their lips are tangled together. Part of me wants to yank her off his lap by her fake blonde extensions and pound her face against the pavement until she’s a bleeding mess and her skull is crushed in. The other part of me wants to go over there and bitchslap him with the pimp hand of God himself for cheating on me. I probably would have done both of those things if it weren’t for the fact that Eric’s eyes meet mine over Yvetta’s shoulder. Those aren’t the eyes of the man I’ve been falling in love with; they are the eyes of the asshole player everyone warned me about. When other girls on campus learned I was dating Eric, they all came up to me and told me their Eric stories, how he was a love ‘em and leave ‘em type guy. I hadn’t believed any of them. He was different with me; I saw a side of him that no one else got to see. My Eric was a shy, nerdy guy in private that loved Star Wars and told me about his dreams of being a photographer. Yes he had a body that was meant to be worshipped, but he had a sweet, gentle soul.
So what happened?
I lift my chin proudly and turned on my heel without saying a word. No way in hell am I giving him the satisfaction of knowing he hurt me or causing a scene for the campus to gossip about. There will already be talk about us, and I refuse to add fuel to the fire. Hadley is by my side. She tries to speak, but I tell her not now. Not in front of these people. Rather than make it seem like I’m running, I end up mingling for damn near an hour, refusing to give Eric any satisfaction. At one point, Eric comes in through the sliding glass door and watches me with hooded eyes. I’m proud of the fact that I don’t look at him, well not too much anyways. But when I see Yvetta come inside with him, her arms wrapping around him and her lips kissing up his neck and along his chin, is when I’ve had enough.
Fortunately for me, Tray appears as my white knight. He looks in disgust as Eric and Yvetta climb the stairs towards his room. “Ladies, how ‘bout I give you two a ride home?”
I’m not gonna lie to you, it hurt . . . A LOT! I was falling for Eric and then he slammed on the brakes. We never talked about what happened; I never knew what went wrong between us. What I do know is that Eric and I tried to avoid each other as much as possible the rest of our time in college. After college we didn’t see each other at all.
He’s the best man; I’m the maid of honor. We’re gonna have to find a way to get along for the next few months. If not, that tuxedo he’s supposed to wear at the wedding is going to end up being the outfit he wears to his funeral.