Risky Venue Chapter One
She’s got a lot more to lose now…and somebody’s determined to make sure she loses it all.
Blaise is at it again. She’s still searching for that perfect job. But even when she thinks she might have found a job that could be more of a career than just a 9 to 5 gig, something always happens to get in her way.
Usually, that something involves a corpse…
But this time, Blaise’s past comes back to haunt her in a big way. She’d thought she put that whole, seeing a murder on the beach thing behind her. But it seems somebody doesn’t want to leave the past where it belongs.
And her past problems are about to become her current nightmare.
She’s just trying to live her life. But someone doesn’t want to let go of the past. And that means not letting go of her!
“Just think of it as a giant party,” Blaise’s friend, Suz Whatsnoggin told her, grinning.
“It will be just like working at the bar,” Dolfe offered, taking a long swig of his icy cold beer.
Tyrese shook his head. “Not really. There are no Bridezillas at the bar.”
Dolfe’s handsome face filled with worry. “Bridezilla? I don’t know what that is but I’m pretty sure I don’t like the sound of it.”
Blaise winced, imploring her friends with her eyes not to inform her sexy fiancé about the horrors of dealing with a nervous bride. It was the last thing Blaise wanted him to think about on the virtual eve of their own wedding.
Well…if you consider “within the next year” the eve.
Fortunately, Suz caught what her friend was throwing. “It’s nothing you need to ever worry about, Honeybun.” She winked at Blaise.
But Dolfe was not a stupid man. In fact, he was probably even smarter than he was good-looking, Blaise thought. And that was a lot of smart. “It’s just a mean term used for brides who get the jitters,” she told him in as offhand a way as she could muster. “Suz is right. You’ll never experience that with me. I’m a rock.”
He grinned. “A rock, huh?” Being the aforementioned smart hottie, Dolfe was wise enough not to venture any further into those tempestuous seas. He simply smiled, shaking his head, and took another sip of his beer.
Tyrese apparently wasn’t smart enough to stay out of the storm. He dove right in, daring the waves to swamp him. “I have no delusions. If Suz and I choose to get married someday, she’ll be the queen of bridezillas. My Suz will own the term.” He shook his head as Suz gave him a quelling look. “I love me some strong woman. I have my own special way of easing her nerves.”
When he waggled his brows, Suz rolled her eyes. “Stupidity, thy name is Tyrese.”
Ty’s leer slid away. “Babe!” He leaned across the table, one long, brown finger tucking up beneath her delicate chin and lifting. “You know you’re cray-cray about me.”
She leaned in too, her lips a mere breath from his as she released the Kraken. “Dude,” Suz said in her sexiest voice. “You know, if we ever did decide to tie the knot, I’d just be marrying you for your last name, right?”
Ty laughed. “What? You don’t want to lumber through life with the name Whatsnoggin anymore?”
Suz smacked him on the arm.
Blaise shook her head. “Please tell me you didn’t just go there,” she said.
Dolfe winced. “We don’t make fun of a person’s name around here, man. It’s not in good taste,” said the guy named Honeybun.
Ty’s smile withered. “She started it.”
Suz snorted. “Really? That’s what you’re going with? A playground excuse?”
Ty shrugged. “Look, I love your weird name, babe. It’s just one of the many funny little oddities that make you special.”
Dolfe groaned and Blaise sucked in a gasp. “Ty!”
Suz stared at him for a long moment, her pretty face so lacking in expression it was an expression all on its own. It was a face that said, you are so dead, while simultaneously declaring a total lack of concern.
Tyrese slowly lost his swagger and began to wilt, until he became little more than a handsome puddle in the delicate chair. When he was so puddly he looked ready to slither bonelessly off the chair onto the newly carpeted floor, Suz finally gave him a tight smile. “Just for that, if we ever decide to get married, Tyrese Miller, you’re going to take my name.”
Everybody gasped at that, followed by Dolfe’s low chuckle.
“Snap!” Blaise told her friends, knocking dainty knuckles with Suz.
“Come on, girlfriend,” Suz told Blaise. “Help me count the new shipment of linen napkins that just came in?”
Blaise stood, winking at Tyrese. “You’d better pull together your best defrazzling game, son. That’s one ticked off ‘special’ girl right there.” Blaise grinned as she followed Suz’s angrily swaying behind toward the door at the back of the enormous room. Behind her, she heard Dolfe’s deep chuckle as Ty whined at him in a voice that sounded like seagulls on a stormy beach.
Suz stopped at the open storage room door and grinned. “That should keep him on his toes for a while.”
Blaise laughed softly. “Oh yeah.”
Before going inside, the two of them stood in the doorway and looked around at the massive main space. It was a gorgeous room, elegant and clean, with lots of light and clean, simple lines. Blaise was impressed by her friend’s vision and decorating skills.
“It’s really beautiful, Suz.”
Her friend sighed, leaning companionably against Blaise’s shoulder. “It is, isn’t it?”
Blaise nodded. When Suz had first come to her with the idea of a wedding reception barn venue, Blaise had thought Suz had lost her mind. But her friend had quickly sold the plan, backing up her excitement with lots of rock-solid information that supported both the need and profitability of the venture.
With Blaise’s help and Dolfe’s investment in time and effort, Ty and Suz had turned the dream into reality in only a few short months.
They’d found a big, dusty barn out in the country on twenty acres of farmland and woods. The property featured a picturesque creek running along behind the main building, a wide lawn with old growth evergreens, and a lovely bridge over the creek that would make a perfect spot for pictures.
Ty and Suz had turned the interior of the metal-sided barn into a beautiful space, with rustic looking cedar walls, a tall ceiling with the original beams, and cream-colored carpet that Blaise couldn’t help thinking was going to be Hell on Earth to keep clean.
The public portion of the venue mostly consisted of one, giant room, with an alcove for coats and gifts, two bathrooms, and an open-air patio out back that served both as an outdoor kitchen and smoking lounge. The roof of the lounge was outfitted with industrial-sized heaters for cooler nights, and giant ceiling fans for sultry summer nights. The structure was mostly enclosed, with one wall entirely open so that smoke from cigars or the grill could escape harmlessly out into the night. The view through the open wall included the pretty little creek and bridge, as well as a few acres of grass, flower beds, and evergreen trees.
It was actually a really nice space that Blaise hoped they’d be able to use for future Honeybun parties. It was large enough to accommodate a family as big as the Honeybuns, even as they continued to grow.
The non-public part of the venue consisted of a storage room with a small office at the back, and a caterer’s kitchen with restaurant-grade appliances.
The main room held fifty tables that were big enough to seat eight to ten people each, with chairs that Suz had covered in frilly white covers. Overhead, crystal chandeliers looked both opulent and kitschy against the age-darkened wood and were complimented by yard after yard of gossamer drapings, which hung from the rustic beams.
They’d added a small dance floor on one end, with a raised stage and glossy wood floors.
A swinging metal door in the back corner of the main space led to the caterer’s kitchen, which contained ample refrigeration, a bank of industrial microwaves for reheating food that was brought in for events, and a couple of long, wide, stainless-steel counters for food prep. They’d added the kitchen space on Dolfe’s suggestion, and it had required building a small annex of the main building. But Blaise realized it had absolutely been the right thing to do, and she was happy her friends had listened to her very smart fiancé.
Blaise had been intrigued as the couple turned the ugly building into something straight out of a fairy tale. All her doubts had slowly been swept away as she saw the enormous potential there.
And the last hurdle had been breached when they got their first clients, who were on their way to the venue at that very moment for a walk-thru.
Suz took a deep breath. “This is really going to happen, isn’t it?”
Wrapping an arm around her friend, Blaise nodded, “It really is.”
“I hope this couple isn’t difficult,” Suz said, frowning. She chewed on her bottom lip, clearly affected by the whole bridezilla conversation.
“We’ll deal with whatever happens,” Blaise said soothingly.
Suz nodded, giving Blaise a wide smile. “Have I told you that I’m so happy you’re here to help us get this off the ground?”
“Only five times today,” Blaise said, laughing. “But remember, it’s only for the first few months.” The wedding reception venue concept felt too much like working in a bar for Blaise’s taste. She was happy to help out, but it wasn’t what she wanted to do long-term for a living.
“I know,” her friend said on a sigh. “But a girl can dream, can’t she?”
“She absolutely can.” Blaise swung her arm to encompass the entire space. “Look what happens when she does.”
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