The weekend of Sam and Daniel’s wedding was upon her. She, Luke, Jens, Alec and Shaheen drove down to Surrey in her car.
“Aren’t you embarrassed by this,” Luke said cattily.
“No, it is a box on wheels which gets me there. And as I am the only one with a car, unless you want to walk, I would shut up!”
“You have a tape player, who has a tape player!” Jens laughed.
“Tape is the next vinyl,” Shaheen took to Cass’ defense.
“Look there is a Prodigy tape!” Alec laughed, “How long have you had this thing?”
They quite happily berated Cass’ driving and car all the way to the Hotel. Cass’ car was the oldest and dirtiest in the graveled driveway. She parked discreetly behind a magnolia bush, so as not to upset Daniel’s sensibilities.
The Hotel was an Edwardian country house affair, with large mahogany staircase and stone fireplaces. Shaheen was sharing with Cass and the three men were sharing. Shaheen and Cass did not expect to see the happy couple before the morning preparations.
Meeting up in the bar, it transpired that the guys had a cozy double bed and single cot arrangement. They were taking it in turns to share with Alec, “Just so that there is no jealousy.”
Cass wasn’t drinking because of her role in the next day nuptials. Masochistically she approached Sam’s horrid school friends to say hello. They had spent an afternoon sharing a spa together. She was not too sure of all their names or which was which. Their names all ended with an “A” sound and were blindingly blonde.
On approach to the “A”s table, she realised her mistake. She was confronted with the ice-cold stares of a minor public school houseroom. Their midlife-crisis husbands were trying desperately to keep up with their respective child under the age of five.
Cass quickly retreated back to the bar after saying her hello’s to the A’s.
“Two words. Blood and stone,” Luke said smiling at Cass’ swift return.
“That is three,” Cass retorted.
“Why did you bother?” Shaheen said tucking into her third cocktail.
“Well, I think they are rather lovely,” Jens said admiringly.
“You are so straight,” Alec laughed. “You could not see bitch behind a pretty face, even if she was sinking her teeth into you.”
“I wish the one in the middle, was doing that,” Jens slurred.
“Gross,” said Shaheen. ”You don’t have a big enough retirement package.”
“True,” Jens said glumly.
Cass left to get rid of all the diet coke she had consumed while watching her friends getting merrily sauced.
As she was about to flush, she over heard the A’s coming in. She was not some one to listen, but the first thing out of A1’s mouth stopped her dead in her tracks.
“I don’t know why Sam chose the Jihadi and the Ginger Trannie, over us. I have been dieting for months.”
“That is probably why. She does not want to be out shined,” said A2. A2 was definitely Beta Bitch.
“She isn’t a trannie,” said A3. “She is pretty and tall. Anyway Sam sees more of them.” Cass had always liked A3.
“Well she always liked to be ‘different’. Have you seen her friends out there?” interjected A1. “At least she now recognizes, she can’t carry on being so, well, HER, and get what she wants.”
“I thought the guys were quite nice looking,” A2 said unguardedly as they left the bathroom.
“Careful darling, didn’t you sign a pre-nup?” A1 spat just as the door closed.
Cass quietly left the stall, and looked at herself critically in the mirror. She had breasts and bum. She definitely looked like a woman. Why did that stupid bitch’s opinion upset her? She knew she could not make a scene. It was Sam’s weekend. It did not matter how much she disapproved of Daniel. This was going to be special for Sam. Cass would suck it up. She would never ever see them again.
To Cass’ surprise, Luke noticed she looked hurt. She whispered what had happened. Cass did not want Shaheen to hear. She might have said something. Luke bought her a drink, “Make sure you drink it. You look like you need it.”
Once Cass was more relaxed, Luke looked over at the As. He was well practiced at flirty eye contact. He made sure that they were looking at him. He suddenly lent in and kissed Cass passionately on the mouth. Then he cheekily waved at his Class A audience.
“Point made,” he said. “They have nothing on you.”
The following day, the nuptials went off without much incident. The reception was strange. It was obvious to everyone that there had been little previous interaction between the two wedding parties. People kept milling around, saying how nice it was to see the other. There was no mention of the happy couple, other than Sam looked beautiful.
Sam’s brother Chris was getting very drunk with Jens. Cass and Chris nipped out for a cheeky cig.
“I should have said something,” Chris said morosely.
“We all could have but she would have done it anyway, and hated us at the same time,” Cass consoled him. “How is the internship?”
“I really enjoy it but there is no work at the end of it. Pharma companies are more interested in paying for my new brother in law to have a pill to keep it up, than pay for antibiotic development.”
“It worries me too,” Cass said sympathetically. “What is the point of having a giant boner when you are dying of blood poisoning?”
Chris snorted with laughter, “Come on, lets get hammered and worry about this stuff tomorrow. The guys are trying to keep Jens away from Daniel’s sister.”
“God,” laughed Cass. “Thanks for the heads up. I thought he was getting wasted.”
The speeches, like the food, were mediocre. The father of the bride’s speech was unremarkable, due to his antipathy towards the groom. The groom’s speech was more about himself than anything else. The best man’s speech involved a mind numbing power point. The “funny” pictures of the groom in the early seventies only increased the size of the elephant in the room.
Cass was glad that the wine was flowing freely. She hated weddings. There was so much false sentiment. The overwhelming anxiety to make sure it was good and no one was offended, grated her.
She boredly surveyed the guests from Top Table. Alec and Luke were looking worried, sitting either side of Jens. She hoped that Sam had not noticed. Luckily the speeches were over and the guests could retire to the ballroom. Shaheen lent into Cass whispering, ”We have got to do something about Jens.”
The women approached the three men. Jens was slurring and telling Luke about his future conquest of Daniel’s sister or one of the As. Cass should have anticipated Jens’ reaction, they all should have.
“Come on sweetheart,” Cass said gently. “There is enough time for a lie down upstairs, before the rest of the party.”
“I don’t want to,” Jens said with unusual petulance.
“Mate, you don’t want to ruin this for Sam, do you?” Luke said kindly.
This seemed to sober Jens up a little, “Yes, a lie down might be nice.”
They were all needed to help Jens up the stairs. So Sam did not notice all her friends deserting her in her darkest hour, Shaheen and Luke gallantly returned to the party.
Cass managed to encourage Jens into bed. He appeared to be sleeping. Alec was looking around for a waste paper bin to put beside Jens bed. Cass was taking advantage of their en suite. From outside the bathroom door, Cass suddenly heard a commotion. “Jens! No! Get back to bed.”
“But look at me!” Jens was slurring. Cass stuck her head around the door. Jens was completely naked and waggling his sizable appendage in a helicopter movement at himself in the mirror. “I am better looking than him.”
Jens turned around and started smacking his own rear. “ Look at my arse! Tight like a tiger! I bet he has an old man’s droopey bum!”
Cass thought she should help, but could not stop laughing. Alec was doubled over, but got out, “Yes, you are better looking than him.”
“That settles it! I am going to show Sam what a mistake she has just made,” Jens started to make a deceptively sober stride to the door.
Cass blocked the door, just in time. Alec tried to herd Jens back towards the bed. Jens started bouncing from bed to bed childishly.
“You fancy me, don’t you?” Jens said in mid air.
“Of course we do,” Alec and Cass said appeasingly.
“I wish I was gay or Luke then,” Jens said suddenly stopping his bouncing. “Luke loves you, Cass. I wish someone would love me.”
“We love you,” chorused the two babysitters.
“Good, love you too, night night,” Jens said and then passed out in a naked star fish on top of the double duvet.
Alec looked uncomfortably at the cot bed in the room. “You can share with me,” Cass said generously. “I don’t think you will be moving him.”
“Do you think it is safe to leave him?” Alec was concerned. The snore from the bed confirmed that they could, but they moved a bin close to the bed.
“You know Jens was right, “Alec said as they walked down the corridor.
“I like Luke too, but we would kill each other within a week,” Cass mused. “Anyway, I.” she stopped abruptly.
“You still love Jason, we all know that. Don’t you think you had better stop this party thing, then? It is not very fair on Luke,” Alec’s soft honesty cut Cass. She thought she had hidden her pain well. Contaminating one of her best friends with it, made her feel like a prized shit. “Don’t beat yourself up, baby. We all play with fire sometimes, but knowing when to stop before you burn the mansion down, is the trick.” The two were in such deep conversation, they did not notice Daniel’s sister pass them in the corridor.
In the ballroom, Daniel singled out Shaheen and Cass. He thanked them for looking after Jens without incident, “Sam is lucky to have such good friends. I don’t think she noticed. I just want her to have a lovely day, well a lovely life.”
“She is definitely having a lovely day,” Shaheen said admiringly. Sam looked luminous as she flitted from table to table.
“I know! I have hardly seen her. I had better find her” Daniel smiled. “But really, thank you.”
As they watched him disappear into the party, Shaheen lent into Cass,” What do you think?”
Cass sunk a cynical nose into her glass, “Slight improvement, but we will see. Still think it is weird and controlling. If it was just love and companionship he wanted, why not find a woman his own age?”
“The same could be said about Sam, darling,” interrupted Luke. “But there is a slight power imbalance in his favour.”
“Come on lets show Sam’s horrid friends how we have fun!” Shaheen dragged a protesting Cass onto the dance floor.
After embarrassing herself for a few hours, she decided to retire to bed. Shaheen, Alec and Luke were still going heroically.
She managed to get to bed and drink her complimentary hot chocolate. Chocolate would block out the flashback to her drunken insistence that Sam’s octogenerian grandfather dance to Deee Lite’s Groove is in the Heart.
She was woken about five am by the party of three, crashing into the room, snorting with laughter. “Sorry Cass, Luke is now staying with us too,” Alec said.
“Our room appears to be over occupied,” Luke laughed.
“There must be something irresistible about Daniel’s family!” Shaheen flaked out on her bed.