The shrill sound of my alarm going off this morning nearly sent shivers through my whole body. I was exhausted to say the least. My flight from New York to London was perhaps the most exhausting trip that I have ever had to encounter.
Everything that could have gone wrong went incredibly wrong. My connecting flight to New York was delayed and when I landed in New York I had to sprint through the airport to barely make it to my flight to London. I boarded that plane and of course I was next to a restless baby. Needless to say my sleep time for the plane that flew overnight was severely cut down.
Sleep deprived and crazy eyed is what I must have looked like to the poor souls at London Heathrow Airport. And of course you don’t actually think anything could get worse right? Wrong. International customs only had a couple of people working and of course our plane came in behind multiple other international flights. I waited for over 2 hours to get through customs. Then to add insult on top of injury my driver who was supposed to pick me up decided to leave because he was convinced I never got on the plane to begin with.
When I finally got to my hotel room I had a grand total of three hours to sleep before I had to meet my cousin, Jenna, for whatever she had in mind to do, not that I was bitter or anything. So yeah, when my alarm went off at noon I was not a very happy camper. I didn’t have time for a shower so I sprayed some perfume on and ran some baby powder through my somewhat greasy hair.
I quickly changed into some leggings and oversized sweater. I surveyed myself in the mirror and laughed a little. I shrugged my shoulders and waited on Jenna to call and say that she was at the hotel. It didn’t take her long to call before I hauled my butt down to the front entrance.
“Oh my God it’s my beautiful baby cousin Charlotte.” Jenna ran over and engulfed me in a hug. Her accent was my favorite. She had picked up accents from all over the UK and Ireland. It was mainly a British accent with hints of Irish thrown in. Jenna was some sort of celebrity party planner; she never wanted to tell me the intricate details of her job.
“Hi Jenna,” I smiled at her lazily when she let go of me, “You look amazing, as usual.”
“And you, my darling, look a little tired. Not much sleep on the plane?”
“Is it that obvious?” I groaned.
“To the average person you look very acceptable.”
I laughed at her comment and let it go. That was her simple way of saying ‘Wow you look like crap, I have an image to maintain.’
I followed her to her very new Jaguar car. She must have made loads of money if she could afford this thing. I probably couldn’t even afford the steering wheel.
“So Charlie,” she looked over at me before starting the car and heading off, “where are you at right now? Like with your studies and living?”
“I’m currently studying to be an engineer at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio. It’s like twenty minutes from my house.”
She nodded her head, “Sounds hard.”
“Oh yeah. I feel like I barely make it through each semester but it will all be worth it.” I smiled at her and relaxed back into my seat. “By the way, what are we even doing?”
“Did I not tell you?” She scrunched her nose as I nodded my head. “Wow, you flew all the way over here and had no idea why you were coming?”
“Well, yeah that basically sums it up.”
She started laughing, “Well we are left with the task of finding a venue and hosting a benefit for The Weinstein Company. Its kind of a pre-party for the BAFTA’s.”
“The what?” I asked quickly clearly being pretty ignorant to whatever she was talking about.
“The British Academy of Film and Television Arts. It’s an awards show, very similar to The Oscars. It’s kind of a big deal over here and well everywhere.” She grinned.
“And you have to host a benefit?”
“We do,” she smiled at me deviously, “and none other than for Harvey Weinstein.”
“I’m going to pretend to know who that is. So yeah this sounds like a lot of fun.”
She giggled at me, “The best part, we get to go to the party.” Her eyes lit up and she started dancing while driving, very safe for sure.
“You mean we have to dress up and go meet people?”
“In short, yes.”
“I…” I took a deep breath, “I don’t want to. I’m not good in situations like those.”
She snickered at me, “Well it seems as though you really don’t have any say in the matter. You kind of are already here and I got it all cleared and ready to go. Please Charlie you have to come with me.”
“I’m just not like you in that way. I’m not good meeting new people let alone famous people.”
She scoffed, “Please Charlie, there will hardly be anyone you actually know there. A few famous people and a bunch of behind the scenes people, the rich ones who get to donate tons of money.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “I’m not happy about this. But I will go. I hardly have the attire for this event.”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ve got that covered.”
“So when is the party?”
“In three days.”
“You haven’t even booked the venue for the party yet?” My eyes started bugging out.
“Relax child. I’ve pre-booked multiple venues. I just need a fresh set of eyes to help me pick the right one.”
“Oh my God this is a some sort of hell you are putting me through.”
She smiled at me as she was pulling up to the first venue. “This is the worst part I promise. The party is going to be glamorous for sure.”
The first venue was beautiful. It was in the heart of London that made it extremely accessible. Yet it was lacking the London charm that I was seeing all around me. And the day kept going on like this. We would drive around, stop, look at the place and I would find something I didn’t like about it. Jenna was clearly getting agitated with me but hey she wanted me to be there so that is her fault.
This happened until we pulled up in front of a very stunning and massive venue. I couldn’t stop gaping and apparently Jenna noticed.
“Seems like you like this one?”
“This is…” I looked around, as she pulled into the gated lot, “incredible.”
“You can rent this place out?”
“You can do anything with a little bit of money love.”
“This is it then. I don’t think I have seen anything more beautiful than this. I want this.” I said all too quickly.
“We haven’t even gotten out of the car yet Charlie.”
I threw my hands up in defense, “Don’t care. This is it. We can look around but this is the venue. I’m telling you.”
She started cracking up. “Okay. I’m going to go talk to whomever I need to go talk to and rent this place out. Just for you.”
I nodded as she bounded off into the castle and got out of the car too look around.
“Incredible isn’t it?” I heard a male voice from behind me.
I jumped as I turned to look at him, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful.” I said softly as I surveyed the man. He looked like a servant of some sort.
“I work here everyday, it never gets old.”
“I can see why. Its absolutely gorgeous.” I said looking around again.
“Indeed. Have a nice day madam.” He bowed in front of me and started off.
“Oh you too!” I yelled back. British people were strange.
“We got it!” Jenna yelled to me holding up some papers and smiling, “We have The Orangery and it’s going to be exquisite darling. They have their own catering and everything all we have to do is show up.”
“I can honestly say I’m a little excited.” I replied as we made our way back to the car.
“That’s my girl. Now tomorrow I have made plans to find beautiful dresses. They are actually being brought to my flat so I will pick you up in the morning and we can try on dresses?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Amazing. I will pick you up tomorrow morning at 10am sharp. I have errands to run in the morning so you better enjoy your sleep.”
“Oh I will. You don’t need to worry.”
She shook her head at me as we pulled up in front of my hotel, “I would have you stay at mine but I only have a studio flat, I don’t have another bed love.”
“It’s perfectly fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I quickly went to my room and looked at the clock that read 8 pm. I smiled and changed into my pajamas and went to sleep faster than I ever have before.
“This dress will look so good on you.” Jenna said as she pulled out yet another ugly gray dress that looked like it was made for an old woman.
I shook my head, “Does anybody have taste around here? Those are the just no.”
“What do you want then?” Jenna sighed.
“Something not gray.”
“Okay then black?”
I shook my head again.
“Ugh Charlie you have to be more specific.” She glared at me.
“Red. I want red.”
“Really? That’s like the hardest color to pull off you know.”
“I get that. But red is my color Jenna.”
She rolled her eyes and went back to the racks of dresses that were brought to Jenna’s apartment. I can honestly say I have never seen so many dresses before in my life.
“Okay. This has to be it.” Jenna said as she pulled out a beautiful red dress. It was absolutely gorgeous. “Donna Karan is the designer. Try it on.”
She threw me the dress and I tried it on. It was stunning. It fit just like a glove and it hugged in all of the right places.
“Well damn.” Was all Jenna said as I walked back into the room, “Red certainly is your color love.”
I smirked at her, “Told you I wasn’t lying.”
It was the night of the benefit and Jenna and I just got our makeup done and dresses fitted for the last time. Jenna had on a beautiful shimmery black ball gown that any guy could fall for. We took a limo over to Kensington Palace where there was a red carpet and tons of photographers.
“Follow my lead Charlie. Just smile and pose for the cameras. Don’t answer anybody’s questions and this part will be over in no time.”
I did exactly what she said. Luckily nobody wanted to interview me, not that I blame them I wasn’t exactly a big celebrity. I had a plethora of comments on the dress and many people asked where it was from and who designed it. I guess that was a confidence booster. After about a half an hour of taking pictures and posing we were ushered inside and to The Orangery where the party was taking place. This was something that I couldn’t even write down; it would all go to waste because the sheer beauty would not be captured. The lighting and the flower arrangements were perfect down to the last detail. It was the most beautiful event I have ever been to.
I talked to quite a few people here and there. I wasn’t exactly trying to stand out so I took a seat at an empty table and started reading and replying to text messages that I had neglected from the days in London. I was so caught up in reading the messages that I hadn’t even noticed someone standing right in front of me.
He cleared his throat, which caught me completely by surprise, and I jumped in my chair. This caused him to laugh and it was quite an infectious laugh because we were in tears before he finally spoke up.
“I’m so sorry to startle you like that.” I heard a thick Irish accent behind a beautiful face of a boy I could have sworn I recognized.
“Oh, it’s completely okay.” I smiled at him, “Just a mini heart attack is all.”
He smiled, “I’m Niall.”
“Charlotte but everybody calls me Charlie.”
“I like that name. And I like your accent.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re the one with the accent but its all good.” I grinned at him.
“Well Charlie, I came over to ask you to dance. Would you give me the honor?”
“Me? Are you sure? I’m pretty uncoordinated.”
“Oh me too. But yes you.”
“I guess.” I started laughing again, “It’ll be your fault if I trip though.”
“Deal.” He laughed with me and held out his hand.
I placed my hand in his as he whisked me away to the dance floor. Just as we got there the music switched from up-tempo to the slow dance. Ed Sheeran’s song Photograph came on and this was the first of many dances I shared with my Niall.