peacekeeping by phoenix.writing

14 Mar

Lisa darted around the corner, flying down the corridor as fast as her ridiculous shoes would allow, and saw what she’d been looking for.

The ladies’ room.

She darted inside, wishing that this place wasn’t so damn fancy so that the room had an actual door.  Preferably with a deadbolt, the kind which you could turn in an emergency.

She reminded herself that she was on her best behaviour and not supposed to be causing any incidents.  They were trying to keep it together enough for the evening to be salvaged.

Which was, of course, why Lisa was hiding in the bathroom instead of stomping on Ian’s instep right before she kneed him in the groin.

Not very discreet, that.

Probably hard to accomplish in this dress, too.

She stared at herself in the mirror.  She was stuck here in this hideous dress that was a colour that no one could possibly like—whoever’d said it was the perfect colour for a spring wedding was out of their damn mind—being chased by a man that no one could possibly like who had drunk too much alcohol and was even less likeable than he had been when he was sober.

And she was doing it for someone who wasn’t even here.

It was sort of like the blind date from hell.

She heard the sound of drunken pursuit and narrowly resisted the urge to start banging her head against the wall.  Her updo was too expensive for that, and the pain was unlikely to help.

It looked like she was going to have to try to knock him out after all.

“Psst.”

She looked over and found that a girl was beckoning to her from one of the stalls.

She looked to be about thirteen or fourteen, with straight dark hair and big blue eyes.

“In,” she instructed.  “I’ll take care of the Hulk.”

Lisa had had a little to drink, needing the liquor to make this almost bearable and prevent herself from just giving up and ducking out.  But she had been reasonably certain up to this moment that she wasn’t drunk.

Of course, Ian was kind of big and hulk-like….

The girl looked at her with exasperation.  “Come on, we haven’t got all day.”

Really, it was no stranger than anything else that had happened today.

She headed into the stall, the girl urging her to climb up on the toilet seat so that her feet weren’t showing.  Lisa locked herself in, slipped off her shoes so that she didn’t fall and break her neck, and then did as suggested.

She gritted her teeth as she balanced on the toilet seat.

Amy owed her so much for this.

There was the sound of running water, but Lisa couldn’t see what was going on without risking some part of her being visible.  It was impossible not to know when Ian arrived, however, because he bellowed.

“Lisa!”

The sound of water ceased.

“Are you aware that you’re in the ladies’ bathroom?”

Lisa’s lip curled up involuntarily.  The amount of disdain and condescension in the tone was impressive.  She could envision Ian looking round himself in confusion.

“Lisa!  Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

Lisa had to resist the urge to hit her head against the wall again.

“Are you talking about the woman in the salmon dress?”

There was silence for a moment, and Lisa could envision the eye roll from the girl before she repeated, “The woman in the pink dress?”

“Lisa!”

Drunken recognition at its finest.

“She went the other way,” the girl told him.  “Popped in here to get a drink of water, but said she wanted some exercise, so she’s taking the long way back to the ballroom.”  A beat of silence.  “You’d better get going if you want to catch up with her.”

Crossing her fingers, Lisa hoped, for once, that he was as drunk and stupid as he had been behaving all evening.

“Thanks, squirt.”

Lisa breathed a sigh of relief as it grew silent outside.

“I think it’s safe to come out now.”

She emerged from the stall, putting her shoes back on reluctantly; they looked great.  Unfortunately, they were the same colour as the dress, and she’d been wearing them for hours.

“Thanks,” she said with a smile.  “I owe you one.”

The girl shrugged carelessly.  “No problem.  You’ve been at it for hours, and he is clearly a loser.”

“Definitely not at his best while drunk,” Lisa agreed diplomatically, though privately, she’d thought he was a bit of an ass before the drinking had started.

“Don’t know why Uncle Dave is friends with him.”

Ah.  That explained the girl’s presence—and made Lisa lucky that she hadn’t been turned in forthwith.  Some of David’s family hadn’t been taking the desertion of the bride so well.  And with her gone, those salmon-coloured bridesmaids made obvious targets.

“Perhaps David simply hasn’t seen how he behaves in ladies’ washrooms,” Lisa suggested.

The girl cracked a grin.  “There is that.”

“I’d better get back out there.  Make sure no one’s started throwing cake at one another again.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

She headed back to the ballroom.  She understood the purpose of the open bar, she really did.  It would have been an open bar anyway, and now, with most of the guests either confused or pissed, it made doubly as much sense.  It gave them something to do now that there was nothing to celebrate.  The small group of them who were still celebrating the actual outcome were smart enough not to do so loudly, and Stacey had drafted the whole group of them to be peacekeepers.

No one had ever told Lisa that saying yes to being a bridesmaid could land her in a gig like this.

But she’d personally broken up one food fight and three verbal sparring matches, averted impending disaster with fourteen trips to the bar and thirteen walks outside—thank god for the mild weather—and got seven people on their way back to their hotel rooms to sleep it off.  She’d also ensured that at least half the men who wanted dances on David’s side got them.  And so long as there was an open bar and an excuse to dance with a reasonably pretty woman—even if she was in a dreadful dress—that was apparently a good enough reason for most people to be here and keep the peace.

It had been working pretty well until Ian had decided that he had a protracted interest in her.  The groping on the dance floor had been bad enough, but there was really only so much Lisa would take, even in the name of trying to prevent Amy from getting disowned by her family.

It was nearing midnight now, so surely they were getting close to the period where they were allowed to call it quits, go home, climb out of the dress from hell, and pretend that none of this had ever happened.

But just looking at the ballroom now, she could see the salmon colour scattered throughout the room and knew that nobody else had given up, so she couldn’t do so either.  Not even if she was the only one who had been stuck with Ian to this annoying a degree.

She made it through thirty more minutes, dancing with men whose names she didn’t know, carting off several more towards their rooms, and smiling what she felt sure must be a grimace.

And then, of course, Ian found her again.  Breath that reeked of alcohol wafted past her cheek, and then she found herself wrapped in an embrace from behind.

“You run fast, little bunny.”

She twisted out of his arms, turning to face him and trying not to look quite as pissed as she felt.  She had kept it together all evening, and she really, really didn’t want to be responsible for a brawl.

He sidled closer.  “I just want to dance.”

Yeah, if by “dance”, you meant “grope, fondle, and pinch”.  There was no way Lisa was going through that again.

“Sorry,” she said.  “I’m all done for the night.”

He frowned at her, clearly having trouble processing this.  “Just one dance.”

She loved Amy and had a lot of respect for David, who’d behaved like a true gentleman through this whole debacle, but not even half a dance.

“No,” she said clearly and tried to get past him.

His hand closed over her arm, hard enough that she couldn’t wrench out of his grasp.  Hard enough that it was probably going to leave a bruise to go with the one that she was sure that he had already left from that pinch to her butt.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

She was going to have to hit him.  She had a vision of the other bridesmaids coming to her aid, a sudden swarm of salmon all over Ian.  It was going to be a disaster.

“I believe the lady said she didn’t want to dance.”

They both swung around to face the new voice, Ian’s look of anger melting into one of submission so fast, Lisa was astonished.

“Take a walk, and make sure it ends at your hotel room.”

For a moment, it looked as though the man was going to protest, but then he lumbered off without another word.

Lisa looked at her rescuer with some confusion.  Blue eyes, dark hair that was just starting to grey a bit at the temples.  Older than she and Ian, definitely, but probably only two thirds Ian’s size.

His expression indicated he wasn’t someone to mess with, but she’d thought that Ian was well past caring about that sort of thing.

The other man held out his hand gravely, and Lisa accepted it without thought and was soon waltzing about the room.  Unlike half the men who had stepped on her toes tonight, this particular man actually knew what he was doing—and didn’t look as though he’d gone near the bar, never mind actually drinking any alcohol.

“Thanks for that,” she said gratefully.  “I was afraid I was going to have to cause a scene.”

“I was told quite firmly that if I allowed the Hulk to get you, I would be in serious trouble.”

Lisa frowned at him, and then her brow cleared as she finally recognized those eyes.

“It looks as though I owe your family a great deal this evening.  I’m Lisa, by the way.”

“Daniel Arnsworth.”

Looking into those brilliant blue eyes, Lisa decided that maybe when Amy’s mom had prattled on about spring being a time for new beginnings, she hadn’t been totally wrong.

~

Links to Cold Feet and Motherhood

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4 Responses to “peacekeeping by phoenix.writing”

  1. J Adamthwaite March 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    I really like the links in this story… and I especially like the start to Alice and Lisa’s story. It really sets up the complicated relationship they have and develops the reasons for Alice reactions to Lisa in the last story. I also really like the idea of Amy’s wedding party carrying on without her!

  2. jmforceton March 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    This is looking like the beginning of a great short story.
    Interesting reading.

  3. ingrid March 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Great. I was completely transfixed the whole way through. Fantastic links to the other stories too!

  4. juleshg March 16, 2010 at 12:33 am #

    thank you — I had hoped you would show us what happened after Amy bolted from her own wedding. It was a great story and a lovely meeting for Dan and Lisa

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