Almost A Bride, always an optimist
January Book of the Month
D-day—A year ago
I knew something was wrong the second I walked up to my front door.
Call it intuition. Call it a sixth sense. But I just knew.
I blame the shoes. The shoes were undoubtedly the cause of all the problems that day. It was the shoes’ fault that I came home early, and the shoes’ fault I was fired.
I suppose I can’t blame the shoes for making me late, though—that was the alarm clock’s fault for rudely deciding not to do its job. And when finally, through the thick haze of sleepiness, I realized that it hadn’t gone off, it was too late. I was already late for work. And when I say work, I mean my brand-new job—job of my dreams—as a fashion assistant at Glamorous Girl mag. The quintessential magazine for the “fun, fierce, and fabulously stylish South African girlTM.”
I’d just made a total career change, leaving behind a successful job as a stylist in advertising to pursue a job in the magazine industry. It was early days, so I was still desperately trying to impress by being perfect, polite, and oh so obliging. Whether it was the request for the latte to be served at 97.7 degrees with no sugar, soy milk froth, and a sprinkling of organic cocoa powder flown in directly from the foothills of the Andes. Or whether it was for the jasmine-and-lavender-scented candles to be burned in the office for ten minutes before my boss arrived—that was me.
Little Miss Annie Obliging.
Because let’s face it, the word assistant is just a glammed-up euphemism for slave. But I was ambitious and determined, so when I realized I wouldn’t be able to attend to the scented candles, or fetch the latte, I panicked. So much so that I left the house without the said troublemaking, life-ruining, world-annihilating shoes.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the shoes. They weren’t ordinary shoes, oh no, they were none other than the just-off-the-Paris-catwalk-and-not for-sale-to-mere-mortals-yet Christian Louboutins. They also happened to be the centerpieces for that day’s shoot.
The same rushed panic that had caused me to forget the shoes in the first place had also left me with barely enough time to scrape my hair back into a casual bun and slip on a creased T-shirt and pair of jeans from my floor.
The latter is a bigger sin than you think. Because where I work, wearing anything other than the most fashionable apparel is sacrilege. People practically throw holy water at you and start wailing in Latin, for fear that you’ve been possessed by the demon of bad fashion. In fact, a real demon possession, complete with a backward-rolling head and the ability to speak in tongues, would be preferable to the demon of last season’s handbag and Crocs sandals.
So when I finally got to work, underdressed, out of breath, without the shoes, and over an hour late, I was in serious trouble.
My boss was throwing a hissy fit, due to lack of flowery scents in her office, and her personal assistant Cedric was in the throes of an overly dramatic caffeine withdrawal, due to lack of latte.
And it kept getting worse.
Two hours later the panicky fashion director summoned the Louboutins. Those shoes had been troublemakers from the start. It had been an absolute trauma getting them in the first place. They’d been flown into South Africa late the previous night, and I’d been tasked with collecting them. Everyone was holding their collective breath for the grand arrival. So when I was forced to confess to their absence . . . well, you can only imagine.
When lunch finally arrived, I jumped into my car and sped home. I had exactly one hour to get in and out before the photo shoot, more than enough time.
I pulled into my driveway at breakneck speed, ran for the front door, slipped my house keys into the lock, and turned—
But . . .
Something made me stop.
Something told me not to go inside.
Something was very wrong.
I looked around nervously. Everything seemed normal. Peter across the road was blasting his TV as usual, the ratbag Chihuahua from number 45 was running up and down the garden perimeter yapping at an unseen force, and Mildred, my neighbor, was outside watering her hydrangeas.
So why was I hesitating?
I took a deep breath and inched the door open.
Nothing looked out of place.
Everything was exactly the way I’d left it.
Yet everything felt wrong.
I slunk down the corridor toward the kitchen, where I knew I’d find the shoes perched next to the coffeepot. But once inside, I was hit by a terribly eerie sensation . . . someone was in the house. A shiver licked the length of my spine when my suspicions were confirmed.
Creeeeaaakkk...A noise was coming from my bedroom directly above me.
Shit, shit, shit, there was an intruder in the house!
I launched myself at the cutlery drawer, grabbing the largest knife I could find while simultaneously dialing the police and still managing to hold on to the shoes for dear life.
“Police! Help, there’s an intruder in my house. Forty-Seven Mendelssohn Road, Oaklands. Quick.”
Now what? I’d never been in a situation like this before. What was the correct protocol? Should I hide, evacuate the house, attack the intruder, scream loudly? Or perhaps a combination of the above?
I thought for a second before deciding to get the fuck out of there! But just as I had one foot safely installed outside the front door, I heard another noise. This time it was different. It was . . .
It sounded like . . .
My blood ran cold.
But it couldn’t be. Trevv was at work. Trevv had a very important day in court, he told me. His client’s final hearing was today. Right now, in fact. I’d called him from my office about an hour ago and he’d told me he was in court.
He was in court, dammit!
I started climbing the stairs.
But that was impossible . . .wasn’t it?
The noises grew louder and louder the farther up the stairs I went. I’m not really sure at what point I knew what the noises were or knew what I was going to see when I opened the door. But I just knew.
It’s one thing walking in on your boyfriend having sex with another woman, but it’s another thing entirely walking in on him the second the other woman is coming. She was facing the door, straddling him, furnishing me with a full-frontal view that has been permanently burned into my visual cortex. She threw her head back, arched her back, opened her mouth, and let out a high-pitched wail. As if that wasn’t self-explanatory enough, she decided to toss in a few words for good measure.
“Yes, Trevvy, yes. Oh my God, oh my God, oh Trevvy. Yes! Yes! Ah, Ah, Ah.” *Pant, pant, pant* “I’m coming!” *Long high-pitched scream*
Now...there were several things wrong with this picture, aside from the obvious. Firstly, who the hell screams like that in bed? No one does! Sex is not so good that you have to break the sound barrier with your squealing dolphin sounds. Secondly, what the hell was she wearing? She was clad in some kind of leathery studded number that looked like it had been worn by one of the Village People. And to make matters worse, Trevv was blindfolded with the tie that I had bought him two Christmases ago and . . .OH MY GOD. . .were those, were those . . . nipple clamps?
I felt sick to my stomach.
And thirdly, who was this mystery woman without an ounce of cellulite, the tiniest trail of a stretch mark, or the slightest smidge of fat, and with boobs that seemed to defy all know natural laws of gravity and motion? Which woman can be that damn perfect . . .
. . .and then her features came into focus and the answer dawned on me.
My boyfriend’s “coworker.” The woman I’d invited into my home on several occasions for dinner. The woman that I always phoned when I couldn’t get hold of Trevv, because I knew they were probably together working on a case, tired and exhausted and burning the midnight oil when they’d rather be at home with their significant others. She had a fiancé after all.
Poor overworked Trevv and Tess.
God, I was naive.
But the show didn’t end there. Tess’s eyes were still closed when Trevv started making some delightful sounds. He’d never made sounds like that with me before. His sweaty hands reached up and grabbed at her hungrily.
Loud, long moan.
I was frozen. It’s hard to know what to do when you watch your partner of two years with his penis somewhere you wouldn’t even like to imagine, let alone witness in full blinding daylight.
Once all their postcoital panting had tapered off, Tess opened her eyes and saw me standing in the doorway. The look on her face was indescribable. Shock and horror and fear all at the same time. And then she opened her mouth and screamed.
Trevv then turned his head toward the door and whipped off his blindfold. Our eyes locked and then he did something truly bizarre. Unexpected. He grabbed Tess by the hand and dragged her to the other side of the bed.
“Anne, please...You don’t want to do this.” Trevv threw his hands in the air defensively. He looked terrified. She was bleating hysterically by this stage.
What was going on? Wasn’t I the jilted one? Wasn’t I the one that was supposed to be upset? I started walking toward them, which seemed to only make matters worse.
“Anne, please. Please.” He seemed to be begging now. “Think about what you’re doing. I know this is bad, but this isn’t the way to handle it. Please don’t do this.”
Things happened pretty quickly after that. Suddenly, the room was filled with armed police officers. I was about to tell them they could all go home when Trevv cut me off.
“She has a knife. She’s going to kill us!” he shouted, pointing at me.
What knife? I glanced at my hands and that’s when I realized I was still holding the large knife, and it was pointed in their direction.
I quickly turned to explain, “I wasn’t going to—”
“Ma’am. . .” One of the police officers cut me off and started creeping toward me as if I was a feral pit bull that hadn’t eaten in a week. “Put down your weapon.”
“I swear, this isn’t what you think, I was just trying to—”
BAM! Face on floor, handcuffs around wrists.
Three really painful things happened at that point: One, the knife slipped and cut the entire length of my palm. Two, some of my newly acquired, gorgeous nails broke off. And three, the crystal-encrusted, six-inch heel of the priceless Louboutin snapped off, rolled across the floor lifelessly, and disappeared under the bed. As I was being dragged out, I glanced up and saw that Trevv was clutching Tess in his arms. He gently planted a kiss on her forehead.
“It’s going to be okay, baby, it’s going to be okay.”
ALMOST A BRIDE, the laugh-out-loud rom-com, is out 31st January!