Icing on the Cake

A wedding was to take place. It would be wonderful, and Clarabelle Darling, best friend of the bride, couldn't be more ecstatic for the happy couple.

What the woman did not need, however, was her own happy ending with a man that she found to be intolerably insufferable: completely the opposite of all she looked for in a man. However, there was no escape, as he just so happened to be the groom's best man.

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2. Chapter 1

One hand tapped sporadically against the window and the other was poised in front of her lips, red nails being chewed right down to the nail-beds.

The night's sky was slowly progressing to a dark hue and the street lamps lined the narrow streets as the taxi was pulling into the city.

Normally, one would travel to large cities with the intent of spending their hard working wages that they had been saving, or even with the intention of having that one crazy night out where they unexpectedly woke up the next morning with a one of the town's circus folk occupying their bed. However, one does not normally enter a town dreading attending their best friend's wedding reception.

Clarabelle Darling, after 4 hours travel, was finally in the bright and busy city of London. The sky-high buildings were mostly lit-up, evidence of those who partake in overtime work, and the streets were, naturally, cluttered with late-night shoppers and scantily-clad women with handsome men who were dressed to the nines. The further into the heart of the city they travelled, the more flashing neon signs and club names there were.

It was always the traffic, however, that annoyed her. 15 minutes since they'd reached the city and, as far as she was aware, they weren't even near the hotel.

At this rate, Clarabelle thought, she was going to be late.

"Excuse me, how long do you think we'll be, now?" she leaned forward with high expectations.

"London roads, love. You can never tell," his thick cockney accent was barely distinguishable, something she was going to be hearing a lot more of in the upcoming weeks.

Although thoroughly unimpressed, Clarabelle smiled as the driver glanced at her through the rear-view mirror. Ever polite, she grimaced at the thought.

All it really did was play to her anxieties. She'd specifically left her home an hour early so that she could made it on time, and now not only was she going to have to check in late, she was nervous; punctuality was her forté, and now she was going to interrupt the rehearsal Immediately, she was going to have at least 200 people place her in their bad books.

This was not her idea of a perfect entrance.

Another 10 minutes of tapping her now anxious feet roughly against the black mats of the floor of the taxi, Clarabelle's long sigh of pent-up agitation was released as she spotted the white lights that shone 'The Rosebud' in cursive letters upon the entrance of a large pristine marble building.

The taxi pulled up outside, just off the pavement, and the driver turned in his seat, slightly greasy face bored. "That'll be £28.80."

Clarabelle's big blue eyes widened, yet she grabbed her purse, handing him a twenty and a ten pound note.

"Thank you, keep the change." She scooted out of the black car and swung the door closed. She told herself she shouldn't have been surprised, yet it always sickened her by the amount it totalled to from King's Cross Station to the city center.

She had only just managed to open the boot of the car when a teenager in a green and gold jacket, with matching hat, appeared next to her. "Miss Darling?"

Clarabelle blinked at the boy, nodding hesitantly. "Yes, I'm she."

He grinned, showing his boyish charm as bits of chestnut coloured hair fell into his eyes. "The rest of your party is expecting you inside, check in at the reception, please. I'll make sure your belongings are taken to your allocated room, ma'am."

She hesitated, wincing lightly at the formal manner in which he addressed her, but released her grip on her big black suitcase. "Thank you," she smiled.

Clarabelle stepped away from the car and turned to trail down the red carpeted area that led to the hotel, before glancing back as he was trying to handle the case. "Please, be careful with them."

The boy smiled again, nodding. "I'll deliver them personally, ma'am."

The blonde shot him one last smile before hurriedly traipsing into the hotel as fast as she could in her little black heels. Manolo Blahniks, she digressed, were gorgeous, but painful. Upon entering, Clarabelle's eyes were assaulted with various shades of beige, créme and gold. The chandelier dangling in the center of the lobby bathed the room in golden rays of light, accentuating the marble interior of the reception desk and beige couches that were reserved for those waiting on guests, no doubt.

Her heels clacked against the pristine marble floor as she made her way to the desk. It was a polished sandy stone colour with detailed lines carved at the top.

The woman behind was unaware of her presence, even with the ridiculous noise her shoes were making, as she was leant back in her chair, seemingly talking away to the headset that was visible on top of her dark curly hair.

Taking the chance to glance in both directions, the lifts and stairs being to the right and a set of double doors to the left, Clarabelle's eyes narrowed as she was continued to be ignored by the young, peppy receptionist.

"Excuse me?" she asked, gaining a questioning look from the woman. However, it all of a sudden seemed to dawn on her that she was, indeed, at work; the woman flushed a bright red before pushing the speaker of the headset up.

"I, uh, sorry, ma'am..." she apologised, sliding her seat to the desk and sitting upright. "Welcome to The Rosebud, how may I help you?"

"I was supposed to have checked in at 8pm with the Sampson-Charlton party." She responded, her voice exuding an antsy need to be on her way.

"Name?" She refused to meet her eyes as she spoke.

"Clarabelle Darling!" Was screamed in a horribly high-pitched tone. "You're half an hour late!"

Said blonde winced, slowly turning her head to where the screech resonated from. Alas, stomping with quick precision towards her was her best friend and bride-to-be, one Abigail Sampson.

"Abi, you look stunning," the late woman tried to compensate.

She wasn't lying, of course. Abigail was always gorgeous. Effortlessly, almost. With her chocolatey hair poised in a neat bun at the back of her head and wisps of curls framing her face, her little white dress (appropriately knee-length) hugged her curves and framed her breasts in a way that only she, naturally, could pull off.

The brunette, however, was having none of it.

"Don't 'Abi, you look stunning' me, Clara! Where have you been?" she was almost frantic, grabbing the taller girl's shoulders and giving them a quick jolt of a shake as she had approached the now sheepish looking blonde. "Do you have any idea how long we've been post-poning the rehearsal for?!"

Clarabelle was taken aback, her mouth dropping into an oval shape. "Why would you do that?"

The receptionist watched with bated breath as the woman in white's face was dangerously changing colour to a darker shade. She wanted to hide under her desk, but thought it to be both rude and outright strange.

"Why?" She asked, throwing her hands in the air. "Clara, I can't just start without my maid of honour, it would be simply unethical!"

Clarabelle raised an eyebrow, "Abigail, you're being a diva," her friend was reminded of the rant she had over the phone of specifically not getting carried away tonight.

Abigail stopped immediately, her face dropping and she shrunk back, ashamed for a moment. "Oh dear, that would be the white wine..."

Clarabelle laughed, a tinkling, soft noise, though she was now afraid the babbling woman would not make it through the toasts, nevermind the rehearsed speeches. She turned towards the receptionist, all previous anger towards her dissipated.

"My room number?" The slightly scared looking woman handed her a small silver key with a numbered tag on it, "Number 64, enjoy your stay."

That, Clarabelle knew, was her way of dismissing them. And dismissed they would be.

"Shall we?" she asked, holding out her arm for the now stressed bride to take as she recalled the previous hours to the unsuspecting guest. The wine had certainly entered her system; now, it was just a matter of time before she passed out in a plate of expensive salad and Clarabelle had to hoist her up the lift and to her bed.

Oh yes, she thought in mild horror, yet amusement. This is going to be a wonderful night.

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