False Start (Mavericks #1)

By: Julianna Marley


“No. No, not tonight!”

Alivia Moore panicked, throwing the beige blanket off of her warm legs. Well, she did it again. She somehow managed to accidentally doze off into a very ill-timed, but oh so wonderful, late afternoon nap and now she was late. As usual. She wondered if she should finally visit the doctor for this.

Chronic lateness.

That was a real thing, right?

Checking her phone, she threw her black yoga pants, which ironically enough had never actually seen a day of yoga in their life, across the room scrolling through the string of distressed text messages from her assistant, Ross. Promising she would be at the hotel in an hour tops, she dropped her phone onto the bed running to the bathroom for the world’s quickest shower, wondering what type of superpower she was going to need to possess this time to beat traffic and make good on her promise to him. She had no intentions of taking a nap, but to be completely honest, she wasn’t all that surprised either. She was exhausted. No, better yet, utterly drained. All she had to do was get through tonight’s affair and she could give herself a much deserved “mini-break.”

Sixty minutes later, she could just about resist the urge to run past the iron clad gates of the Grand Barcelona Hotel. Towering over all the other buildings in the unmatched historic district of Charleston, the hotel was simply regal. Reaching the soaring glass doors, she reminded herself that she, in fact, was not Cinderella running into the grand ball, as she slowed her pace. She needed to project calmness and composure if she had any hopes of pulling off the largest coordinated event she had ever been hired for thus far.

Walking through the remarkably polished atrium towards the ballroom that held with it the future of her professional career, the ball of nerves that had taken up permanent residency inside her stomach since taking on the risky account decided to flood back by the hundreds. But for as nervous as she was about the event, she was just as eager to see it all come to life. She had spent the last forty-eight hours inside that room directing a long stream of florists and caterers, lighting personnel and music crews, but this time it was different. It felt different. It was finally time to show this city exactly what she was made of.

And she wanted to be sick.

Stepping inside the entrance of the ballroom, she didn’t feel so much like a Disney princess, perhaps more of a fairy godmother as she admired the considerably large room, delighted that the vision she had spent the better part of a month constructing inside her head had not only come to life, but looked even better than she had envisioned. Walking past a round table, she ran her finger lightly over the pitch black tablecloth paired with the fine gold china and crisp white linen napkins. The table settings complimented the spectacular white hydrangea centerpieces towering over each table, tying the black and white affair together beautifully. The staff waited around the room in white gloves holding gold plated trays of Monet with blackberry garnish and petite hors d’oeuvres causing her stomach to rumble reminding her that she hadn’t eaten since morning.

Rolling up the sleeves of her fitted blazer, she checked the time, seeing that guests would be arriving shortly. Casting an eye over to the band who were finishing up fine tuning their instruments, she couldn’t help worry about how the evening would ultimately turn out. Was she going to make a complete mess of everything? Leave nothing but unsatisfied guests and a disappointed host? Charity events were not her normal kind of self-inflicted pain. No, she preferred a different type of punishment like manic brides and spoiled, rich teenagers. But tonight had to be different. Everything needed to be spectacular. The décor on point, the food exceptional and the entertainment even more impressive. The event had to be worthy of the three-hundred dollars a plate the guests were paying to attend.

Being asked to take over the account a month ago, she knew couldn’t turn down the opportunity to design and organize such a respected affair. Aside from benefitting abused women and children, the dinner was being hosted by the new quarterback of the Carolina Mavericks football team. Landing a National Football League charity was like hitting the flipping lottery in the event planning world and when his assistant called her in an anxious fit because the previous planner bailed to travel the world on a meditation journey to Costa Rica, she assured the panic stricken woman that she and Ross would not disappoint.