Sasha was surprised her bridesmaids hadn’t blindfolded her before they had bundled into the taxi together. Rearranging the skirt of her red and black patterned dress before Amelia sat on it, Sasha bumped her shoulder into the car window. Pulling a face in pain, she watched her other bridesmaid, Dacey, shoving things into the boot then squeezing into the back seat with them.
‘Did you get everything?’ Amelia hissed, trying to hide her words behind her long brown hair.
Dacey nodded, her golden curls bobbing then shot Sasha a look, ‘It’s all good,’ she muttered.
The taxi driver got in and without a word, drove off. A trickle of India style music played through the speakers and set of beads clicked together around the rear view mirror. A light rain began to fall and he turned the wipers on.
Sasha looked out of the window, faking interested in the passing streets light by early evening sunlight. Secretly though, she listened into her friends hushed voices as they seemed to be double checking things.
‘They should be there when we get there now,’ Dacey was muttering.
‘And the food orders?’ Amelia whispered back.
‘What about the…erm…ah..?’
Dacey shook her head and put her finger before her red lipstick mouth, ‘don’t worry,’ she uttered and winked.
Nervously, Sasha dropped her eyes from their reflections in the door window and started playing with the rings on her fingers. Her thoughts tumbled with what her best friends had possible planned and she prayed it was not strippers. That was something she firmly didn’t want to face tonight.
The taxi drove into Manchester city centre and the driver weaved around roadworks and traffic with only the skill a taxi driver can have before pulling up outside a bar and restaurant. Sasha looked out at it, but didn’t recognise the name or the view through the long windows. She could see large tables with white candles in glass holders, a front desk like area with a menu and behind it the start of a long bar, light up with large green shaded lights from above.
‘Stay in there a minute,’ Dacey shot over her shoulder as she bounced out, her curls flying everywhere.
Amelia followed her quickly and Sasha heard the clatter of high heels on the pavement and the two girls unpacking the boot. She saw them hurrying inside with things, speaking to a small white bloused and black skirt wearing hostess behind the front desk. Hands and bags waved for a moment then Dacey and Amelia started to hand things over.
Sasha turned away and watched a couple walking by. They were holding hands, talking to each other and smiling. They walked into a pub called The Black Lion a little further up, where a man finishing a cig was hanging by the door.
She noticed the rain getting heavier than the sound of taxi door opening again, drew her back and Amelia waved her out. Struggling, Sasha slide over the seats and got out. She stood on the edge of the pavement, pulled down her dress then excitedly followed Amelia in. The bar was warm and smelt of limes and vodka. There was a small group of people settling into a table beside the window, three men and four women poshly dressed up. Sasha walked further in and saw a larger group of women huddled around a half circle table.
Trying to contain her shock and delight, Sasha was swept up for a few minutes in greeting friends and family. Someone put a cocktail into her hand and she took a well needed drink. Tangy sweet fruit flavours danced on her tongue before she swallowed. Voices rose and fall around her and so did the clinking of glasses. She felt she was in a dream still though.
Totting in her very high heels, she leant against the bar, joining in parts of conversations and welcoming the stragglers. She finished her drink too quickly and placed the glass onto the bar. Amelia appeared at her elbow and ordered another one before Sasha could speak up. Then with that drink pressed into her hand and her mum taking her other one, she was led up the stairs.
Butterflies fluttered madly in her stomach, she had the urge to go to the loo then as she stepped into the private room, she saw a long dining table laid out with purple cloth, candles, wine glasses, cutlery, name cards and the little thank you presents she had made last week. Her breath caught in her throat then her mum led her to the head of the table and she gratefully sat down.
‘What do you think?’ Dacey asked as she rushed over.
Sasha nodded, ‘It’s very nice.’
‘The food’s on its way,’ Amelia added.
The guests circled the table for their seats and began talking with each other whilst inspecting the thank you presents. Sasha tried to take it all in, failed and took a few sips of her cocktail. An old family friend, began chatting to her and she fell easily into conversation.
The wine and food arrived and the air, which before had smelt of flowery soap and candle wax was taking over by the warm scent of chicken, soup and cheese. Sasha tucked in, recalling she’d no lunch and realising how hungry she now was. The starters were great, the mains even better and pudding the best.
After, Sasha sat back and enjoyed watching everyone talking. Then a photo shoot was in order and champagne arrived in small flute glasses to further clutter the table. Sasha posed, feeling like her smile would be glued on her face forever. Sinking back down, she reached for her glass.
Dacey stood up quickly and declared a toast, ‘Thank you all for coming! I just want to wish Sasha a happily ever after!’
Voices repeated Dacey’s words in a dim echo and the champagne was sip.
‘I would like to say thank you too,’ Sasha’s mum spoke up, ‘I’m so proud of my daughter.’
Sasha patted her mum’s arm and thanked her. They touched glasses and had a drink.
‘And now….’ Dacey said and walked quickly over to a large pair of doors that ended the room.
She flung them open and Sasha saw two smiling, half naked men standing there holding plastic bowls full of melted chocolate. They had little black aprons tied about their hips which read Nude Chocolatiers. The one of the left had three tattoos across his chest whilst the other one didn’t. They were both muscular but not overly so and they had short black hair.
Sasha giggled and felt an odd feeling of relief.
‘Hello ladies,’ the man with the tattoos called, ‘I’m Chad and this is Luke. Sadly we are not strippers, but would you like to come and join us in making some chocolate truffles?’
School girl like laughed filled the room and the women moved into the next room to take seats at a new table. This one had been sit up like a cooking school’s kitchen work bench. There were plastic bowls, wooden spoons, grease paper and little pots of cream at each setting.
‘Who’s the bride?’ Chad shouted above the racket.
Fingers and voices shouted and pointed at Sasha.
‘You need to sit here,’ Chad said and helped her into her seat in a very gentleman like way.
‘We’ll get you all drinks,’ Luke added and began taking orders for the bar.
Chad helped him and then the handed out the drinks. When that was sorted, they began to instruct the woman in making truffles.
Sasha didn’t think she had ever laughed so hard. There was chocolate everywhere and the bridesmaids, even though they had boyfriends, were flitting with the Chocolatiers. Even Sasha’s mother-in-law to be, who had been happily married for thirty years, joined in the funny and embarrassed her own daughter with over the top remarks. Sasha was grateful her mum stayed quiet.
Removing chocolate from her fingers afterwards, Sasha decided her bridesmaids had done a good job after all and her trust had been well placed with them.
Dacey declared it was time for drinks and dancing on the roof top garden before dragging Chad along. Amelia grabbed Luke before he could escape and the whole party made its’ up to the roof.
Sasha stepped out of the doorway and took in the scene before her. The roof top was actually turfed with fake grass and lots of plastic grey pathways were cut in leading around and through. Fairy lights hung from small trees and flowering bushes in large plant pots. Solar powered lanterns shone from a top of small wooden tables which chairs and benches were dotted around. A small waterfall was trickling happily in one corner styled like a desert oasis. Luckily, the light rain had stopped and it was a warm night.
Sasha looked over the wall and across Manchester. Lights from the apartment and office buildings shone into the night and she thought she could make out people behind the windows towering above her. Voices, music and cars all travelled on the wind. She took a deep breath, feeling slightly more sober.
This was what I wanted, she thought, everything has been so right for this night.