"What do you mean she isn't coming?" Magdalena cried across a table filled with an elaborate array of frosted cakes, croquembouche, and glasses of fizzing champagne, waving a fork with such force Rosine winced.
"I'm sorry darling, but no one's seen or heard from her in two weeks," her cousin replied, helping herself to a tall glass of champagne, only once it became clear Alena would not be flinging a pronged missile her way. "You know what Charline's like - such a drama queen! Marcos most likely made a comment about the weight of her ankles or knocked over a floral display, so now she's off in a huff. She'll be back eventually, she always is. And I don't mind standing in for a while. It will be more fun without her - she can be such a priss."
"She is not," Alena snapped back out of obligation rather than disagreement.
Twenty-three and single, Rosine, considered herself to be part of a modern group of purebloods creeping into society all of whom believed in evolving with the times and put personal freedom over family values, but still sponged off mum and dad when they wanted the next designer bag or a new six bedroom villa in Portugal.
Magdalena was approaching life like a relic, according to her cousin, and would soon grow weary of married life and wish she had partied harder when she had four babes wrestling for a tug at her nipples.
Magdalena thought Rosine was a ditz who would be sorry she'd wasted her looks when she was forty and withering like a walnut and realised all the good men were taken and she was now the lonely aunt everyone avoided at family dinner parties; but unlike Rosine, Alena had enough manners to keep her thoughts to herself. She did not think she could stand to have Rosine shadowing her for a day of wedding preparations - never mind a week.
She jammed a fork full of lemon sponge into her mouth and chewed frantically as panic rose in her chest and turned to anger. "I cannot believe she's done this - no actually I can. This is just like her. Everything always has to be about Charline. She thinks she's the fucking sun and we're all just here to move around her!"
"My thoughts exactly," Rosine said, tipping the contents of her glass down her throat and watching greedily as it magically refilled before her. "But that's what a rotten teenage marriage does to a person and why I will not be wearing any wedding bands until I'm at least thirty."
Everything Rosine was saying sounded like nonsense to Magdalena and she wanted to scream even more now than in the initial shock of Charline's no-show.
"And I won't be wearing white. All that virginity stuff is soo 1922." Rosine continued to chatter seemingly untouched by Alena's angry gaze. "You're not doing that, are you?"
This was turning into one of the more challenging days of Alena's young life and when she envisioned smashing Rosine's face into the chocolate fudge cake she knew the partnership would not work out. She dropped her fork with a clatter and dabbed a napkin across her mouth.
"Let's finish up for today," she said with as much brightness as her mood allowed. "I really appreciate all your help but I wouldn't want to keep you - I know how busy you are. I'll send my friend Darlene a message - I'm sure she wouldn't mind coming to a few engagements with me until Charline cools off."
When her sister did return she better come armed with a sobbing apology because Magdalena intended to make her grovel. You did not leave someone to entertain Rosine alone without an exceptional excuse and Alena hoped, for Charline's sake, that it wasn't another décor disagreement that had caused the older woman to throw a strop and threaten the construction of Magdalena's dream wedding.