TG Universes & Series:
“Fitting!” I squeaked.
I searched my few brain cells to find out why I needed more clothing from Eloise Couture but came up empty.
“For the Heinemann wedding of course, I’ll expect you at fifteen to four on Monday, and bring your heels.”
“Monday,” I sort of agreed, it’s not like there’s any arguing with Gerta, “er tschuss.”
Gerta disappeared back inside while I stood in silent shock.
“What was that?” Mand enquired from beside me.
“That was Gerta, couturier to the rich and good of Ahrtal.”
“She mistake you for someone else then?”
“Gerta doesn’t make mistakes.”
“So I got something about Monday?” she pressed.
“She’s expecting me for a fitting for some wedding.”
“Not another one.”
“I can’t remember being invited to one even less agreeing to go, if I did I’ve already got wedding fancy at home.”
“A mystery then,” Mand stated.
“Yeah, come on I fancy some Pflaumkuchen.”
Ahrweiler isn’t the biggest of towns and the old town is pretty compact so it didn’t take long to reach the south gate and start our trawl up Ahrhutstraße back towards the main square. Of the two shopping streets this is the one with ‘Euro Land’ and other regular stores, we spent a few minutes in the bookstore getting Mand a Langenscheidt English / German dictionary before finding a table in the bakery on the corner of the square.
“Hmm, not bad,” I mumbled through a mouthful of plum cake.
“Dunno how you can eat that.” Mand offered before taking a mouthful of Berliner .
“You’ll learn,” I suggested.
“So what you gonna do about this wedding then?”
“Dunno, ask Mum later I guess.”
“I was a flower girl at my aunt’s wedding but that was at Croydon Registry, none of your fancy church do’s.”
“I’ve only been to one,” I pointed out.
“You don’t wear couture to a civic job, Gab, it’s a church job for sure.”
“Well I think Gerta has her wires crossed anyway.”
“It was you said she knows about everything.”
Niederhutstraße leading out to the Niedertor is much more historic, lots of fachwerk and the generally more up market stores. Before setting off to look we collected our bikes, as we’d ride on from the gate to save walking back.
“I can see why you guys go to the cities to shop, there’s not exactly much to keep you here.”
“There’s a few more shops in Neunahr,” I supplied pausing to survey the few model cars in the window of the toy cum craft shop.
“I thought that’s where we are?”
“This bit’s Ahrweiler, Bad Neunahr is further along where the baths and stuff are, one side is all pretentious, this side is, well not. You’ll see, there’s bound to be some reason to go down there.”
“It’s well different to Croydon.”
“Never been,” I admitted.
We moved on up the street but with nothing really to hold us we were at Niedertor after just fifteen minutes.
“I suppose we ought to head home,” I stated after looking at my watch, “I was gonna take you along the river but it’ll wait.”
“Okay,” Mand agreed.
Instead of going back through town I led the way to Silverberg where we picked up the cycle trail up the valley towards home.
“Do I have to wear this?” I complained as Mum fussed with my hair.
‘This’ of course is the red velvet party frock she decreed I had to wear complete with matching heels – not my idea of comfort or fun.
“Yes you do, your Dad’s even wearing a suit.”
“We’re gonna look pretty daft if everyone else is in jeans.”
“I don’t expect the Baroness has ever owned a pair of jeans,” Mum pointed out. “Right, you’ll do, wear your Gran’s earrings.”
“Yes, Mum,” I sighed in defeat.
“Send Amanda up, I’ll see if we can’t do something with her mop.”
“I’ve ordered a taxi,” Dad announced, “should be here in about ten minutes.”
“Someone wants to drink tonight.”
“As long as it isn’t you,” he mentioned.
“Jules, Jen, taxi’s coming!” he shouted up the stairs.
“I really feel a prawn,” Mand offered as we waited.
“Yeah, not many,” I agreed.
The taxi, well it was a Vito bus actually bounced into the yard of the schloss, if this is a small family gathering – well actually I’ve been to a big one. The normally empty courtyard was fair bristling with the products of Stuttgart and Munich’s automotive industries, mostly the more upmarket examples of course. We weren’t late but it looked like plenty were early.
“Ah, Bonds!” the Baron greeted us.
Looks like we got the dress code right at least, he was be-suited and looking quite, erm, dapper.
“Wilhelm,” Dad greeted in turn.
“Ladies,“ Wilhelm allowed with a very Germanic head incline and click of the heels. “Come on in, Max! Coats!”
“Aunt Juliana is complaining about the punch already,” Max announced as he arrived in the hallway. “Oops sorry.”
“I’ll sort your Aunt out, coats please.”
I couldn’t help but smirk as Max’s eyes nearly popped out when I took off my coat.
“This is Mand,” I supplied as introduction, “Mand, this lummox is Maximillian Maria von Strechau.”
“Um how do you like Germany?”
“It’s okay so far, your middle name really Maria?”
“I was named after my great grandfather, the thirteenth Baron.” He sighed.
“I thought this was a little family do?” I hissed at Max as he led us into the house.
“It is, Aunt Catherine and her herd, the Taxis, I’m sure you’ll recognise everyone, Gab,” he stated taking a proprietorial grip on my arm.
“Yes, with the Duke and Duchess, I think there are still moves to pair us up.”
“No British royals this time then?”
“Wrong side of the family,” he deadpanned.
“Gabeee!” Sophia’s voice cut through the clamour of voices in the ballroom, causing all eyes to turn my way.
Talk about rabbit and headlights. The whole thing lasted but a moment, older guests smiled and nodded, others just returned to their conversations.
“Sophia,” I allowed as we exchanged air kisses and a light hug.
“When mama said we were coming I hoped you’d be here, nice dress by the way.”
“You too,” I offered, “I only found out we were coming this week.”
“I think it was to be a surprise party but word got out eh.”
“I guess, this,” I tugged Mand forward, “this is Manda de Vreen, she’s just joined our race team.”
“The Antwerp de Vreens?”
“I don’t think so Soph, she’s from England, she hasn’t much German.”
“Ah so,” Sophia swapped to her quite passable but accented English, “nice to meet you, Manda from England.”
“Soz, Mand, this is Sophia Thun und Taxis.”
“Soph will do, Amanda.”
“Gab,” Max whispered in my ear, “you should go see Gran.”
“Erm looks like I’m needed, can you look after Manda please Soph?”
“Sure, but don’t be too long or I will steal Max back,” she chortled.
Hmmph, empty promises, Sophia.
“Look who’s here, Gran!” Max got the Baroness’ attention away from another elderly relative.
“Ah, Gabrielle, we haven’t seen you for so long.”
“She’s been doing lots of travelling, you know for her racing, I told you, Gran,” Max supplied.
“Shut up, Maximillian, I was talking to Gabrielle.”
“Go and entertain Sophia, I’ll send Gabrielle along shortly.”
Just what I need, a private audience with the Baroness and her cronies.
“I promise, Grandma.”
“You’d best get back to that grandson of mine, I can see he’s anxious for your company over there.”
I’m sure he is, “Yes, Grandma.”
To be fair it wasn’t the grilling I was expecting but my conversation with the Baroness certainly didn’t go without notice from the other guests.
“You escaped,” Soph noted when Max and I returned to the livelier end of the room.
“She’s not so bad.”
“Sometimes,” Max sighed.
“You might know, Max, do you know anyone called what was it now, oh yeah, Heinemann? I seem to have an invite to their wedding.”
“You are so funny, Gaby,” Sophia chuckled.”
“What did I say?”
“That’s Analise, Gab,” Max told me.
“My cousin, don’t you remember, you said you’d be my plus one.”
Something stirred in recognition a long way back in my noggin.
“Is it that time already?” I filled.
“Four weeks time, aren’t you a bridesmaid?” Sophia queried.
“I am? I mean am I?”
Bridesmaid? Ut uh, no way.
“There you are, Gaby,” Gloria, Max’s mum stated.
“In the er flesh.”
“I spoke with Gerta earlier, don’t forget your fitting Monday, she did the other bridesmaids while you were in Japon.”
There’s that word again.
“I, a, no, I mean yes,” the exposed bits of me tried to merge with my dress.
“You alright, Gab?” Mand asked.
“Um just a bit warm.”
“Food in the gallery!” Willie announced.
That’s right food; I’ve not eaten since that Pflaumkuchen in Ahrweiler earlier.
“Come on, Mand, my legs are empty.”
It’s bad enough going to another wedding, going as a bridesmaid is that times ten, heck I don’t even know this Analise, what does she want me for?
Maddy Bell 26.11.15
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