Today, I’m goiung to gibe you another look at Wedding Bell Blues, my current romantic comedy work in progress.
MJ fought to keep calm and ignored the curious stares.
“Madame Summers?” asked the short, heavy-set, middle-aged man in a Madras jacket that matched the receptionist’s skirt. He was balding and had moved the part in his hair to just above his left ear in what was surely the largest comb-over she’d ever seen. She swallowed a nervous giggle. He didn’t look at all like the mythical Mr. Roarke, and the last of her hopes this would end up being a vacation like she’d watched on Fantasy Island evaporated. “Madame Summers?” he repeated.
Who the hell else would be standing here on the verge of collapse?
His English was heavily accented. Under the jacket, he wore a dazzling, white shirt and plaid tie. His pants were the same deep green as the green in the plaid. His dark skin accentuated the brightness of his shirt.
She drew in a shaky breath. “Yes, I’m MJ Summers,” she answered stating the obvious. “I understand there’s a problem with my reservation, Mr. St. Louis.” She used the name on the small brass identification badge he wore. Her heart hammered, and her palms were wet. Her breathing was faster than it should be with the danger of hyperventilation a distinct possibility. She could feel the gazes of everyone in the room, and hoped they’d all get to wherever they were going quickly. Cold sweat trickled down her back, adding to her discomfort.
“I am so sorry, Madame Summers. I do not know how this happened, but the reservation was cancelled four weeks ago, and the room rebooked. Usually, we double check these things, and send out an official notification, but if you did not receive one which clearly you did not…”
He continued talking, but MJ felt the room start to spin. She grabbed the counter to prevent herself from falling to the floor. Never in her worst nightmare would she have imagined such a thing. No room at the inn wasn’t just a line in the Christmas pageant, it was a reality. What the hell was she going to do?
“Emile,” the man shouted beside her although he sounded as if he were a hundred miles away. “Une chaise pour madame, vite!”
A chair materialized beside the desk, and MJ plopped into it before she disgraced herself further. The receptionist handed her a glass of water as if her problem was dehydration—maybe it was.
Taking a sip, MJ tried to calm herself and gather her thoughts, but her brain seemed unable to make sense of this latest disaster, and her lungs were quickly finding it impossible to filter the oxygen from the air. She rubbed her forehead. This was all a bad dream. There was no way she was stranded on an island without any place to stay.
I’m asleep on the plane, and when I wake up everything will be fine.
“I am very sorry, madame,” the manager said again, forcing her to accept the reality of the situation. “Obviously, we have made an error, but unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to remedy the situation right now. The boat to Martinique has left and will not return until tomorrow. I will see to it that you are given a full refund, of course.”
“There must be someplace I can stay. Is there another room available somewhere else on the island?” she asked. “I’ll pay extra if I have to.”
“Hélas, the resort is completely booked, and it is the only one on Paradise. Rosette will see if we can find you a spot in a hotel in Fort-de-France or Saint Pierre on Martinique itself, but I am not optimistic. This is our busiest times. Even the few spaces in private homes in the village are booked.”
“Seriously? I’d have thought it would be off season,” she said although, considering the cost, she should have known better.
The manager smiled at her indulgently, spoke rapidly in French to the receptionist, and then turned to her again. “Any season is the season for love, but with Monsieur Leroux’s treasure hunt this week, too … Perhaps if you would move over here while Rosette sees what she can find.”
MJ nodded and moved aside to allow others to register. Poor Monsieur St. Louis was almost as upset as she was, and strangely, seeing him that distressed calmed her slightly. There had to be something special about this week’s treasure hunt, something Mark hadn’t told her when he’d insisted she book these particular dates.
She glanced at the rest of the couples who’d been aboard the boat. It was true they all looked physically fit, maybe more so than an average boatload of people should have, but everyone was more health conscious these days, right? As they finished checking in, staring at her as if she were some kind of alien, she fought the childish impulse to stick out her tongue at them. Silently, she prayed once they’d all done so, there’d be an empty room, but no such luck. Ten minutes later, Rosette came back to the manager’s side, said something incomprehensible to him. He frowned, asked a question, nodded at her quick answer, and turned to MJ again.
“Rosette has found you a room in a small bed and breakfast in Saint Pierre, but they can only put you up for three days. You should be able to get a flight back to the United States in that time. You’ll be well-taken care of by Dubois and his wife, and the resort will cover all of your costs, including the airfare. Sadly, the room will not be available until the day after tomorrow. Rosette will ask if one of the staff members can put you up for a couple of nights. My staff are all married, but someone might be willing to let you sleep on their sofa. I would let you use mine, but my mother-in-law is sleeping there.” He shrugged his shoulders. “She is a big fan of Leroux and didn’t want to miss the chance to meet him in person. If we cannot find you a place, you can sleep on one of these sofas,” he said, as if the possibility of something so completely humiliating was a great offer. “Most of the guests breakfast in the privacy of their rooms and bungalows. You would not have to get up before six when the staff come to clean, but you will have access to all of the resort’s facilities.”
And what do I do? Shower out by the pool and dress in the bathroom? Wonderful, just frigging wonderful.
That’s it. What would you do in MJ’s place?
Take time to vist the other midweek Teasers.