"Asher." Mr. Barrington pointed to the guest with his glasses. Lucas was leading them to the dining hall when they met the Master at the doorway. "Surprised to see you here. My home welcomes you at any time. Hows your father?"
As Mr. Barrtinton continued to chat with Asher, he took him to his seat. John appeared at the other end of the dining hall with Claire and the Head Butler.
It was rare for the Head Butler and his family to dine with the Barringtons. Only on special occasions do they all get to sit together with disregard to the status of master and servants.
Mr. Barrington sat at the head, Asher and Lucas at his sides. On Ashers side were the Head Butler and John. On Lucass side were Abigail and Claire. For some reason, it is customary for couples to sit across from each other at a formal table.
As soon as everyone was seated, Mr. Barrington made a toast welcoming Claire into the family. He had always been good with speeches and Claire felt everyones warm doors opening for her. The smiles on all their faces radiated the room as they raised their glasses to Mr. Barringtons finishing toast.
Well, all except one.
"Lucas." Mr. Barringtons tone was calm but absolute.
Lucas clenched his jaws and shot daggers straight at the person in front of him. He raised his glasses nonetheless.
"I should apologize for Mr. Lucass rude behavior. It seems hes still mad at me." Asher smirked.
Abigail tensed beside the second most powerful person in the room. His moods had repercussions that could result in everyone around him jumping in fear. For some reason, she dared to look at him through the corner of her eyes and immediately regretted it. He saw her looking and set his cup down. While the rest of them drank and she brought the rim to her lips, she could feel the awful feeling of Lucas looking at her.
Lunch commenced when the maids rolled in seven carts covered in large stainless steel. The first course was a delicate creme brulee au foie gras.
"I supposed this is when I congratulate you on the wedding," Lucas spread his napkin. "How have you been, John?"
The question could not sound less sarcastic as he did not care one bit.
"Never better. Mr. Barrington had decided to open a few chains of restaurants. I had been managing them, so I kept myself busy. Hows New York?"
"Americans," Lucas growled.
"What about us?" Asher urged.
"Loves sex. And alcohol."
Asher squinted with a forced smile. Hes not using this time to get his comeback, is he? How embarrassing is the topic of sex on a lunch table?
"Hows your tech firm?" Mr. Barrington leaned back and wiped his mouth.
Lucas cleansed his palate with a chug of his champagne.
"Im opening a new office in Washington D.C."
"You said you would only do that if the Huxtable brothers sign?" As soon as Mr. Barrington finished, hed already answered himself and his eyes sparkled. What couldn his son accomplish?
"They signed last month. With Ashers friends and friends of the Huxtables, we can have a little manpower to start up security guards. Who wouldn want to hire ex-marines to protect them?"
Asher mouthed "You
e welcome" from across the table.
"Thats wonderful news indeed. Lets move to other matters. I don suppose you slept well last night. I had Abigail change your sheets. How long will you be staying?"
The second course was a golden soup a loignon. As the dishes were swapped, a ringtone disturbed the soft clinking.
Lucas searched for this phone and excused himself from the table without answering his fathers question. He would most likely be finishing his meal in his quarters.
As soon as he left, Abigail could finally comfort Claire in low whispers. She had seen her future sister-in-law struggle trying to figure out which of the five spoons to use first. She had nudged the disoriented girl and showed her the first spoon. And now, she slowly picked up the second spoon so Claire could follow through.
The rest of the meal included small talk about Claires work and the couples honeymoon after. John was adamant to keep the trip quiet to avoid assistance from Mr. Barrington. There was no offense taken because believe it or not, Mr. Barrington knew when he should dabble and when he should not. John was more than adequate to pay for his own honeymoon trip to the Maldives.
Asher didn sleep the night. He had booked a room somewhere in the city and wouldn tell anyone where.
"So the bad guys won catch me," he answered with a wink before leaving out the gates.
The Head Butler has a small wing on the first floor for his family. The wing included two living rooms, two offices, a kitchen, and three bedrooms with their own private baths. They were the only servants living in-house while the others commute. In fact, the Campbells had been serving the Barringtons for generations.
Claire just stopped by to drop off some stuff and returned. This is the last night she would spend as a single person. She would rather spend it with her family.
Abigail has let off her duties early tonight. She was requested to get a good nights rest. Before Abigail hit the showers, she brought a glass of her Fathers favorite tea and set it on his desk.
"Nervous for tomorrow?" he flipped through some pages.
"Hm? Im not the one getting married tomorrow," she pressed her lips together.
Her Father finally stopped his hands and looked at his daughter. He was a very busy man his whole life and had missed a few of his childrens important moments, but his love for them was no less than Mr. Barringtons. As the Head Butler, he had many responsibilities. He could cover for others, but no one could do what he does.
"Abigail, you must assess the relationship between you and your brother now that hes getting married. He has a duty as a husband now."
She picked her fingers. "Nothings going to change between us, Father. What are you implying?"
Her Father seemed to give it a good thought before voicing it.
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
Abigails eyes went large. "Why of course not!?" She almost jumped out of her skin at the thought of it. "Did John put you up to this?"
Her Father broke into laughter. It was rare for him to have such an intimate conversation with his daughter. If only his wife was still alive to share the burden.
"Your brother cannot put me up to anything. Forget what I said. Go prepare yourself for bed."
Abigail left her Fathers office. Her room was at the end of the hallway. The bedroom was plainly decorated as she didn require much. She had a dresser right by the entrance door and further down was a small sofa. Around the dresser and the sofa was the bathroom. A queen bed sat in the middle across the room where two windows are on either side. The left side of the bed had a nightstand and after that was a desk.
It was a strange habit but Abigail had loved opening her windows at night. She was used to the cool breeze as they kiss her skin and bathe her in the moonlight. Very few did she wear a nightgown to bed as she hated how the skirt would rise up her legs. Instead, she wore an oversized t-shirt with shorts or a buttoned-down shirt and undies. Snuggling under the sheets was also the best. Its just the thought of being so alone in such a massive place that made her heart feel so empty. She yearned for her cottage in the woods, for her vegetable garden, and her waterfall.
The last wedding to happen at Penrose Manor, the Queen was invited. The flowers were flown fresh from India and all the food from France. The reception rocked the nation as the most expensive hall of the century standing in the millions of pounds. This wedding, however, John wanted it simple. The wedding altar and the reception were both held outside. Even the dance was going to be held outside.
Because of this, a large rug was rolled over the grass and a canopy was set up near the Manor. The garden was right in view. Greek columns were stationed around with flower arrangements on top. Guests would come through Penrose Manor where they enjoy the splendid lighting of the chandelier before being ushered to the back.
Abigail woke up early to have the maids and staff set up all the decorations, tables, chairs, and tent. When table clothes and napkins were being carefully laid, she went to check the chefs on the hors doeuvres platters. The sound system was plugged in and the sound guy was on standby. Abigail had a team of maids who went around spraying all the flower arrangements with water. She made sure everyone knew their jobs exactly and who to ask questions to in case she was busy. This all sounded a lot, but five months of planning was enough for her to keep everything organized.
John was the first one to be ready. He came down in a crisp new tuxedo and a fresh haircut. Beside him was a man Abigail had only seen in pictures. He had thick brows and curly hair.
"Ian, my wedding planner, my sister Abigail. Abigail, you remember Ian." John introduced the two of them. "Hell be my best man for today, as long as he doesn mess up."
Ian chuckled. "If I mess up your wedding, you
e allowed to mess up my wedding as well."
John and Ian had been friends ever since high school. They went to universities together and graduated. No one else fit the shoes of a best man better than him.
"Hows Claire? Should I check on her?" Abigail asked.
John suddenly made a face and shook his head. "Susans up there. You don want to go."
He looked at his sweet sister and spared her the pain of being scowled at by the bridesmaid. As sexy and alluring as she looked, Susan had a feisty attitude toward people she doesn like, and for some reason that included John.
"The first guests are about to get here. You should go get ready." John looked at her t-shirt and jeans. "Remember what the hairstylists are always saying about your hair?"
e here?" Abigail was surprised.
At every event that John and Abigail attended, Mr. Barrington always made sure they had stylists and makeup artists getting them ready. Every outfit was hand-picked ahead of time. Not so much John as all his looked almost identical, but Agibail was always a beautiful transformation to behold.
She made her way to the main dressing room, a room that once belonged to Mrs. Barrington when she was getting ready. The routine was, each time her attendance was required at an event, she would open the door to the dressing room and find a mannequin in the middle of the room, in the most beautiful gown. Mr. Barrington and his stylist had never failed to surprise her.
Today, the mannequin was wearing a gorgeous off-the-shoulder dress in the lightest blue she had ever seen. It shimmered from tiny rhinestones like stars in the galaxy. The dress was short and will probably reach her knees. It will definitely show her shoulders and make her stand out in the crowd, but the fact that it was short also drew attention away from her to the bride. The stylist who selected this was meticulous indeed.
It only took an hour for her to get ready. Her thin wavy hair was hard to tame and that was what John meant. Instead, the hair stylist curled her hair and put it in a loose braid accompanied by tiny flowers. The minute she put on the dress, she almost could not recognize herself.