tagRomanceOverlooked Bride Ch. 01

Overlooked Bride Ch. 01

byEgmont Grigor©

Bianca White whose acclaimed creative mind matches her blonde beauty suffered many young women's unspoken nightmare – being left a little short of the altar. The almost handsome Joe the fiancé turned scumbag by dumping Bianca after falling into the arms a sauna 'hostess' eight days before the wedding.

Perhaps understandably, Bianca became a little upset when Joe said he was rescheduling their wedding and then calmly explained the bride would be Rosa, top earner at her mother's Gentleman's Trouble-free Sauna.

Joe waited, hands on hips for the tears and was caught napping. Bianca kicked him, sending Joe to Hospital Emergency by ambulance for treatment to part of his anatomy by then the size of golf balls.

Naturally compassionate thanks to a soft upbringing, Bianca had called an ambulance and left the door to his apartment wide open for the mobile medics; disappeared into a nearby bar to cry into a couple of martinis.

Next morning Bianca turned up for work at Melrose PR two hours late, drunk. She assaulted the boss who tried to push her back out the door to go home and sober up. Bianca of course, being in the mood she was, resisted although not physically any longer. But by then her boss had lost his cool. Nursing a swelling eye destined to show bruising, Stan Melrose fired Bianca in a fit of pique.

Oh dear, Bianca thought, what have I done. As she walked between the two lines of cold-eyed fellow workers – actually they were now former fellow workers – she laughed a little short of hysteria and joked, "What, no going away present?"

The abrupt end to her current working career persuaded Bianca to think she'd had enough of Melbourne so she spent the next couple of days packing and left for Auckland, pleased that she'd never told Joe her home was in New Zealand; that meant he'd not be able to forward her his medical bills.

The flight proved a brief diversion in itself when a male cabin attendant came on strongly, which made Bianca feel much better. He rewarded her slightly flirtatious behavior by serving her French champagne instead of Aussie bubbles. At least some men are nice, an increasingly relaxed Bianca thought until the cabin attendant leaned over her again and she noticed his wedding ring.

That happened two months ago. Bianca now worked an expensively furnished room she'd leased in an A-class office building with wonderful views of the Auckland waterfront and across to Devonport. A newspaper lay open in front of her, absorbing a second coffee cup ring as for the umpteenth time she read her advertisement.

'Miss Fix-it A graduate in advertising and public relations offers a professional advisory service to people with personal or small business image aspirations wanting to raise the bar to become stand-outs. The impossible may remain impossible but we promise to make a difference. We think outside the box and engage other professionals to offer a complete service. The first interview is free. Contact: Bianca White, Success Consultancy, Blue Sky Tower, Tel 128-9444.'

Bianca's phone didn't ring that day. A call at 9:00 next morning was a wrong number and one at 9:45 was the building maintenance man enquiring had she settled in comfortably and advising a receptionist's work-station would be installed overnight.

By this stage bored Bianca's finger-nails were looking perfect and all her personal correspondence was up to date. She also accepted she was consuming far too much coffee. Inclining towards insanity as well she had the ridiculous thought of calling Joe to say hi and ask how his rearranged wedding plans were progressing.

At 11:58 the phone went, sending her pulse soaring only to have her ear filled by the caller's yawn.

"Ooops, sorry – attempting to multi-task; you being female will assume we men are useless at that."

What a bozo, Bianca thought. "You assumed your victim was a woman?"

"If someone with a chic name of Bianca White was male I'd be worried."

She laughed and said she'd meant a male receptionist may have been answering the phone. The reply was he didn't think someone with a name like Bianca White would hire a male PA; she'd be getting more than enough socially without being distracted at the office.

"I beg your pardon!"

"Oops, perhaps I meant more than enough attention. Nothing wrong with that is there?"

"I suppose not. How may I help you?"

"My name is Marty, Marty Young. I'd like you to find me a wife."

"Marty, this is not a dating service."

"A wife with business flair."

"Oh."

Marty asked did 'Oh' signal rejection, He was told not necessarily.

"Does that mean you're too over-stretched to take on my request?"

"No, not at all."

He pressed on relentlessly: "Do you have any clients?"

Bianca sighed. "No – after twelve business hours you are my first prospective client."

"But not a suitable one? Don't answer that. Allow me to buy lunch to allow you to assess me."

Bianca considered that and immediately felt hungry. "Okay, where?"

"Harbourside – it's near you. Say 12:30 – I'll book a table. How will I recognize you?"

"I'll be wearing bright red-frame Italian sunglasses – just the very latest arrival at Melbourne Airport duty-free."

"How will I tell they're Italian – don't answer. That was my idea of a joke."

"Fine, Mr Young. I'll meet you at the Manchurian in thirty minutes.

"Harbourside."

"That was my idea of a joke. Good-bye."

Bianca joined the short line waiting for the maitre d'. Two other women were wearing bright red-frame sunglasses but the approaching maitre d' came to the back of the line and said, "Welcome, Miss White. Please follow me."

Once Bianca was seated and receiving her host's welcoming smile, Marty reached across and shook her hand.

Puzzled that he'd apparently identified her and pointed her out to the maitre d' she asked: "How were you able to distinguish between Italian sunglasses and non-Italian sunglasses at this distance?"

"That was no problem. Those other two women had partners and didn't look like people suitable for the name of Bianca White whereas you were alone so, bingo Miss White White!"

"Oh God, not you too. My mother had no idea what Bianca meant, she just liked the name and I guess father just thought it sounded sexy."

"You father obviously was a discerning man with foresight."

"Yes, and remains so. Is your Marty with a 'y' or an 'i'?

The reply was 'y'.

"My mother is French and that name in France usually goes with an 'i'.

Bianca thinking a compliment wouldn't go amiss said, "But it's a lovely name and perhaps that explains your good looks," She watched Marty duck his head behind the wine list.

Bianca concluded that was a good sign, knowing women tend to like a little humility in a man. She switched off her phone to avoid having non-existent office calls switching through. She'd decided to have this broad-shouldered and very personable man as a client. It ought to be easy to fit him up with a lovely lady. Some of her old girl friends were still unmarried, a couple were divorcees and if she placed his photo on a dating website and filtered the calls she'd probably get a few local responses and perhaps 10,000 from Russia.

"Marty, up close and personal, okay? Tell me about your undesirable traits?"

"Wow, are you hired?"

"Yes – I'm that desperate for business."

"That's a joke, isn't it?"

She smiled, shook her head, and said she'd like just one glass of sparking wine while waiting for her chicken salad with vinaigrette dressing.

"How do you know it's on today's menu?"

"This restaurant is in the heart of the CBD. It would lose potential custom from weight conscious women without that standard dish."

"Oh yes, waiters call it the chic-dish I believe," she smiled.

"Or the Virgin's Banquet – I've heard waiter's call out that when heading into the kitchen."

"My God, aren't men cruel?"

"Actually, in the main those shouting the Virgin's Banquet are waitresses in the main."

A waitress appeared at the table. Marty ordered a glass of sparkling and a glass of light alcohol beer. Asked about food he said they would skip soup and entrée.

"Virgin's Banquet and Hunk's Fodder – medium rare."

The round face of the waitress lit up. "You've been listening to trade secrets sir."

They both watched the attractive rear of the waitress swinging like a pendulum.

"Hunk's Fodder?" enquired Marty's guest.

"Rump steak, onions, mushrooms, salad and French fries."

"Oh, why aren't I surprised? Since we are close to the subject of delectable flesh, what are the specifications for the prospective spouse?"

"Around twenty-five, any color hair or eyes, strong but very feminine build, about five-ten, unlikely to run to fat early, great in bed, loyal, takes an instant liking to me, doesn't take quick quips against her too personally, doesn't sulk, likes adventure, is sports minded and will go to the gym with me, doesn't mind me hanging out with the boys a couple of times a month and I suppose can't get enough of me."

"Is that all?"

"It's enough isn't it; if I set the bar too high you won't find anyone for me."

"I don't think those specs are too onerous to fill – I for one would meet them with ease and..." Gulping, Bianca realized where her fast mouth had taken her; her 'client' was gazing at her with new interest.

"Excuse me for a minute," she said, grabbing her shoulder bag and heading for the restroom to exorcise her huge blush, under cold water if necessary.

Marty stood as she approached the table. She was aware she was under scrutiny so said brightly, "Oh our drinks have arrived."

"We did order them," he said unnecessarily.

"You made no mention about business specs – the deal was you wanted me to find someone with business flair."

"Oh yes, that too."

Marty said he ran a school for immigrants or 'new arrivals' as they were politely called. "We teach what we call 'Aspects of New Zealand's Distinctive Culture for new arrivals' but it's been a struggle to fill classes."

"I'm not surprised – that's rather a mouthful to promote and sounds boring."

"What do you mean, I thought up the concept and the name?"

"Oops, I accept that. But you overlooked the end tag – it's called marketing."

"But the name has to be long as we're not teaching every aspect of New Zealand culture. We have no wish to run foul of the Commerce Commission and be fined $250,000 or whatever for misrepresentation."

"You don't do that if you chose your wording carefully."

"Like what?"

"Oh, I'm not in thinking mode. Something direct and snappy. Um, like this one, 'Learn the New Zealand Way'.

Marty's mouth fell open. "Jesus, that's it. How much do I owe you for that?"

"Just my Virgin's Banquet, glass of wine and long black coffee will be fine."

They parted, exchanging cards outside the restaurant.

"How much?" asked Marty.

"Seventy bucks an hour"

Two women passing looked at them with interest. "Hell, I'd pay her treble for an hour; she's gorgeous," the older woman said to her companion.

Marty met Bianca's eyes and they both burst into laugher.

"I hope you wouldn't think I'd be such a skinflint in paying for THAT service," he laughed, and virtually bellowed when Bianca replied, "But I never charge."

Recovering first Bianca said if seventy bucks an hour to find a suitable wife/business partner was too expensive, he'd better try elsewhere.

"No, it's fine – but to keep the lid on it, could you report in every evening you work on my case, say between 6:00 and 7:00?"

"Certainly. I take it you are free to marry?"

"Yes, I'm thirty-three, quite wealthy after my grandmother's estate came my way. My parents are living in Boston at the moment. Oh – candidates must like dogs and horses."

"Horses?"

"Yes, those sexy things, usually brown with long classy legs, a mane and sometimes wear reins and a saddle. Grandma left me a lush 33-acre lifestyle block. I inherited three horses, three dogs and seven Hereford steers."

"What, no bull?" "Steers are cattle a little removed from requiring the service of a bull."

"Oh gawd, I knew that. I love horses."

"Well, you've scored a big point there, haven't you? Bye."

Bianca decided to allow him see the blush. "Bye." He looked at her intently before turning away.

Well, he'll be a great catch for someone she thought, walking back to the office. There were five telephone messages, four of them business calls. Time to advertise for a receptionist; perhaps some of those applicants could be of interest to Marty?

The next hour was spent at the computer designing a questionnaire to capture all the information she needed on Marty, explaining in a covering note that women were too discriminatory to line up to be interviewed as a prospective wife without knowing such things and hair loss in his family, did he snore, employment and salary details, political affiliation, attitude towards children and level of respect for women.

Bianca emailed that off. Back came the questionnaire filled in with a couple of comments:

"You forgot to ask about favorite sexual position, do I habitually leave the toilet seat down and how much of my income would she get a month. Excellent questions thought."

Bianca replied: "Thank you for prompt action and I find your attitude encouraging. I had to leave some questions for the young women to ask at their interview. I suggest you spend the night with each one in a hotel to test performance..."

The phone went. Bianca had meant to write 'Joke' in brackets after that last word performance but lost concentration. She signed it 'Bianca' and fired it off and grabbed the phone.

"It's Fitzroy Herbert, speaking Bianca. I'm looking for support."

"Sorry Mr Herbert. I remain neutral; I don't donate to any political party or individual politician. If I want to grease palms use butter."

"Pardon me?"

"That bit about greasing palms was a joke, Mr Herbert."

"Oh I see, a joke eh? Haw-haw-haw. A consultant with a humor who looks like the back of a bus."

There was a silence.

"That bit about the bus was a joke Bianca."

"Oh, Heh-heh-heh."

"That's the spirit Bianca. I have an image problem – got caught cheating on my wife by my wife who's told the Sunday newspapers coming ou late Saturday night. May I come and see you?"

"Yes, anytime today. As I've just started the business I'm not overloaded yet."

"I suppose you demand $150 an hour?"

"No, a flat $100 is fine. If you don't have an over-enlarged ego, this will be a quick fix."

"I'm a politician, Bianca. We float on ego. Are you sure you're experienced?"

"I said over-enlarged ego – that's a matter for me to find out. I'll get the coffee machine primed up."

The phone went again. "Hi Bianca, it's Sara Bloom. How are you dear?"

"Fine and you?"

"Great. Fiona told me you were home and that I ought to consult with you. I'm director of the Auckland Regional Visitor's Centre and we have a city accommodation crisis – we have an over-supply of four star-plus hotel rooms and some owner's a doing a freeze and threatening to convert their hotels into luxury apartments. That would really give us a room crisis because we are experiencing great growth each year. I'm desperate to keep these operators profitable and so far have spend almost $150,000 on consultants to come up with ways to get those rooms filled but it's been money down the drain. Are you able to meet me and our chairman tomorrow at 3:00 in the deputy-mayor's office. Deputy-mayor Brenda Coddingham is our chairman."

"Yes, my pleasure. I must catch up with Fiona."

"Excellent. Some of these consultants charge up to $300 an hour. I hope your fee is a little more modest." "Well, I know it's public money but you will still be on a budget Mrs Bloom. I'll only charge you $180 an hour."

"That's magnificent. I always knew you were a lovely girl. Bye Bianca."

I seem to have racked up my fees, Bianca sighed. This is scary. By the end of the week I'll be $1500 an hour at this rate.

Bianca spent half an hour looking through Russian dating websites and finally found a guy who looked quite a lot like Marty despite the moustache and goatee. She 'grabbed' the photo electronically and copied it into the two New Zealand dating sites she'd already registered with and paid the fees. Her text read:

'Hi, I'm 33, successful in business in Auckland and desire a sexy 5ft 10in lively woman, attractive but not necessarily beautiful with great boobs. She must be strong in either business management or business financial control to become my business partner with prospect of marriage. You'll contact my professional adviser when responding to this message.'

She had those posted before Mr Herbert arrived to undress her, mentally; she was warmed by the lust in his eyes.

"Bianca, how wonderful to meet you at last. My word, what a surprise. Are you free tonight?"

"Hi Mr Herbert. Sorry, my live-in girlfriend and I are going to a cross-dressing ball tonight – and you can't come as it's an all-girl affair."

"Oh, well I suppose that's just as well as I am in disgrace with older people in my electorate. Young single women and divorcees think me being found accompanied in bed is a hoot and many wish to personally console me but they are heavily out-numbered."

"Has you wife thrown you out or alternatively walked out?"

"No, a night of tears for Kit was enough for her; she came into the spare room for company and bang, we were soon banging again. Normality restored. I need you to win back these bitchy elderly women who now hate my guts."

"Well, I can help you. But that ends your free interview. Come back tomorrow and the clock will tick."

"Can't I go on to fee-paying now – I'm off back to Parliament in the morning on the 'Red Eye Special at 7:00."

"It's you call."

"Start the clock ticking sweetie – um, I mean Bianca."

Bianca noted the time and said: "The easiest thing is for you to make a public apology for being unfaithful to Kit."

"I can't do that," Fitzroy Herbert said, grabbing a handful of his thinning hair, his long face looking mournful. "I'd win back the oldies but lose those women who admire me for being a playboy. It's not ego; it's political survival. The PM is thinking about calling an early election."

"Right," Bianca mused, not believing that claim about an early election. "Stay quiet and let me think while I get the coffee." Ten minutes later as they drank and chatted about the Film Festival the thought suddenly seized her.

"Kit is an unusual name. Is your wronged wife Kit Hughson."

"Yes, but listen, she wronged me by allowing to have such easy access to her friend Leta."

"Spoken like a politician Mr Herbert. You wife took me for Psychology 1 and 2 at university. I know her rather well because I flourished under her tutelage. This is what I propose: I should meet her for lunch on Saturday so could you would kindly arrange the place, time and her presence then inform me. Do you dare tell her what I want to talk to her about, other than I'm being paid to get your career back on track. When the story of your infidelity breaks in the Sunday papers I'll have to have her issue a moving statement for publication in next morning's 'New Zealand Herald' that she accepts you have been under stress through overwork and that she forgives you for this lapse."

"But Kit, she's the one with the ego; she'll never agree to that."

"Just leave it to me, Mr Herbert. You are paying me to be the expert problem solver. You may leave now. Here's my card – email me when you've arranged the lunch. I want you to arrange this luncheon meeting to help soften up Kit – she'll be surprised finding you actually seem to care."

Bianca busied herself designing a small run-on advertisement for the 'Situations Vacant' section of the morning newspaper. It was impossible to pitch only for women without breaking equal opportunity laws but that was okay – she would interview all applicants who measured up and just by chance the few who were selected to meet the prospective 'employer' would be female. The ad read:

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byEgmont Grigor© 11 comments/ 42084 views/ 14 favorites

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