Coolest Girl in Town Chapter 188
Now that Elise was exposed, she could only mumble reluctantly, “I dabbled in it.” At that point, Cynthia realized that she had had a foot-in-mouth moment. Does this mean Alexander has no idea of Elise’s alter ego? Swallowing, she shot Elise a fleeting, apologetic look and quickly interjected with what she hoped was a dismissive tone, “That was just a thought. I mean, if I have to be brutally honest, Ellie’s not good enough to come up with a brilliant design, so maybe it’s for the best that you let a professional handle it.” However, even as
Cynthia said this, Alexander still held onto the previous statement on Elise’s so-called ‘dabbling’ in wedding dress designing. When they pulled up at the Griffith Residence, Cynthia was so excited that she practically bolted out of the car and hurtled into Laura’s arms. “Mommy, I’ve missed you so much!” The Griffith Residence was filled with raucous laughter and even better cheer now that Cynthia was home; Laura and Robin, in particular, seemed to have wide grins permanently fixed on their wizened faces.
The days went by without anyone really noticing them, and in the blink of an eye, everyone was into the sixth day of the new year. That morning, Alexander texted Elise. ‘Come downstairs when you’re done washing up. I’ll be waiting for you by the cul-de-sac.’ Elise blearily searched for her phone when she heard it chime with a new message. Upon reading Alexander’s text, she felt all the sleep drain out of her, and she clambered out of bed toward the window. She pulled aside the curtain and immediately caught sight of Alexander standing by the yard.
What is he up to so early in the morning? Without wasting another second, she washed up and put on a fresh change of clothes, then went downstairs and into the front yard. “What’s going on?” Alexander’s gaze lingered on her briefly before he reached to open the car door for her. “Get in. There’s someplace I need to show you.” She stared at him warily, trying to figure out why he was being so mysterious. Nonetheless, she slid into the passenger seat, following which Alexander started the car and drove away from the curb. A few moments later, the car rolled to a stop outside Brendan’s atelier.
As it turned out, the festive spirit of the new year’s arrival did not dampen his workaholic tendencies, given how the atelier seemed to be bustling like it usually did. “Welcome. Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist at the front desk asked courteously. Alexander hummed in response. “I’m here to see Brendan. He’s supposedly here.” When the receptionist heard that they were looking for Brendan, she replied hurriedly, “Please wait here for a moment while I call Mr. Griffith.” She had only just said this when Brendan walked out from the main atrium of the atelier.
“Alexander,” he greeted perfunctorily. His eyes slid over to where Elise stood mutely next to his brother, and while it was a little odd for him to think of her as his sister-in-law, he said nevertheless, “Hello, Elise. Come on in.” Elise stiffened at the slight awkwardness that came with Brendan addressing her, but Alexander did not miss a beat as he took her by the hand and guided her into the atelier. This was the first time she saw Brendan’s atelier in all its glory; the space was filled with rolls of fabric and various contraptions, and rows of mannequins donning multiple designs.
Brendan led them into his office and swiftly produced a design sketch for Elise’s perusal. “Take a look at these, Elise. These are all the initial designs I came up with for your wedding dress, and there’s even a ready-to-wear piece based on one of them. Just a quick glance will do and let me know if you want to make some tweaks for whichever piece you choose. Tell me in advance, though, so I can make the adjustments in time.”
He sounded pleasant and courteous enough, but he didn’t actually expect Elise to come up with any suggestion for changes to the design. After all, as far as he was concerned, she was a non-expert and couldn’t possibly weigh in on his work. “Hold up—all that mystery and suspense just so you can bring me here to take a look at my wedding dress designs?” Elise asked Alexander incredulously. Alexander eyed her steadily and said, “Your aunt did say that you have an affinity for stuff like this, so I figured it would be meaningful if you could have some input on the wedding dress design.”
For some reason, a surge of warmth coursed through her when she heard this, and she beamed at him as she quipped, “Thank you!” She pored over the design sketches eagerly. She had to admit that Brendan had a flair for designing. Where some of his designs were clearly imbued with elegance, others were a little quirky; there were no two designs that were the same, and Elise could see all the thought he had put behind them, not to mention his prowess. At last, her gaze fell upon one of the sketches and stayed there. “This one is pretty nice.” Brendan smiled.
“You have good taste, Elise. This wedding dress is practically tailor made for you; I thought about how you carry yourself and came up with the design, so it suits you best. The ready-to-wear piece I mentioned earlier happens to be based on this. I could show you if you’d like.” A little stunned by how he had so accurately guessed her preferences, Elise nodded and said, “Okay, let’s take a look.” With that, Brendan brought them to the atrium next door. A mannequin had been positioned in the center of the room, and a white tarp had been draped over it.
Brendan stepped up and proceeded to pull the tarp off, ceremoniously revealing the intricate and elegant dress beneath. Elise stared at the design sketch that had come to life before her, so moved by the flawless silhouette and the opulent material of the wonderfully made dress that she found herself at a complete loss for words. “Do you want to try it on, Elise?” She nodded numbly, and Brendan had one of his assistants bring her over to the fitting rooms. At that moment, Brendan and Alexander were the only two left in the room. With a rueful sigh, the former commented, “Elise’s figure is gorgeous enough that she’d carry the dress well, but…” He trailed off, then added with a hesitant dry cough, “I think the make-up artist would need to put in a bit of arm grease to, uh, make her look pretty.”
Alexander’s expression turned grim at this, and Brendan instantly knew that he had said something he shouldn’t have when he felt the air around them grow cold. “Don’t get angry, Alexander. For the record, I’m not trying to badmouth Elise in any way; I just think that women and vanity go hand-in-hand, and I’d hate to think that Elise would regret not looking pretty on her big day.” The hostility went out of Alexander when he heard this, but he sounded stern as he said through gritted teeth, “Don’t ever mention something like this again. I will not have you badmouthing my wife to my face, capiche?”
The love Alexander had for Elise, which belied his aggressive tone, made Brendan nod hastily. “Got it! Rest assured that I’ll watch what I say from now on.” He had never thought that Alexander would be so defensive of Elise. He’s not being serious, is he? Meanwhile, in the fitting room, Elise had slipped into the luxurious dress and found that it really was made for her. The dress was perfect save for its weight, which felt like a tonne as it hung on her frame. It was almost as if she was wearing gravity itself, and breathing suddenly became laborious work.
She took in a deep breath and exited the fitting room, announcing, “Alexander, I’m done.” When she came to a stop in front of Alexander, his eyes flashed with an approving gleam. The dress accentuated her figure, bringing out her curves and flattering her silhouette. She looked like a dream. Brendan was equally stunned as well. Despite his earlier remarks, he hadn’t thought that Elise would look this good in the dress. “What, is there a problem?” Elise asked doubtfully when neither man said a word. Immediately, they snapped out of their thoughts, and Alexander was the first to break the silence.
“No, you look beautiful. The dress becomes you.” Next to him, Brendan piped up in agreement, “You look gorgeous in the dress, Elise! You’ll definitely wow the crowd at the engagement party if you show up in it.” Elise, however, was still skeptical as she pressed, “Really? Do you guys really think so?”
The men nodded in unison, and she smiled brightly at their affirmation. She rather liked the dress and how splendid it was, but if she had to nitpick, the weight of it was pressing down on her ribcage and cutting off her circulation. More to the point, she had only put the dress on minutes ago, but a light sheen of sweat was already breaking out over the small of her back.