Hello Again. Welcome back to Tuesday tales. I’m continuing with my contemporary romance, Wedding Bell Blues. Rather than go back in the story, I decided to plow ahead from the last post.
“You don’t look so bad yourself,” MJ smiled indicating the clothes he’d donned.
“Just about everything I have that isn’t military issue is brand new. I didn’t have much call for this kind of get-up when I was in the service. I let the sales clerk in the men’s store pick out my wardrobe—but I warned him I didn’t want anything sissy.”
She chuckled, her laughter as clear as a crystal bell. “Women do love a man in uniform, but I doubt you’d look sissy, as you put it, no matter what you wore. More champagne?” She indicated the bottle he’d just opened.
“Yeah. It was delivered with the hors d’oeuvres. It seems the manager can’t do enough for us.”
MJ looked over at the plateful of delicacies and reached for s tiny stuffed tomato.
“Well, at this rate, I’ll be the size of a house in ten days. Are you going to pour me a drink or just stand there holding the glass?”
“Sorry.” He poured the wine into the flute and handed it to her. Reaching for his own glass, he raised it in a toast. “Here’s to us.”
“To us,” she said echoing his words and sipping from her glass. “You realize by now, our ‘engagement’ is probably all over town. That selfie Carla had me send has probably gone viral, too. You’re stuck with me for a while, but God willing, we can get out of this without having to go through a mock wedding, although how we can manage that is beyond me. I hate to think of Mama hurt again.”
Paul frowned. “MJ, I don’t consider it ‘stuck’ with you, and if we do have to get married, so be it. I don’t want to hurt your mother either, but sometimes we have to look at the greater good. For the record, I’m looking forward to having someone in my life to do things with like training for the Ironman.”
She choked on the wine.
“Excuse me? What Ironman?”
“I swore when they told me I’d walk again, that I’d compete in next year’s Ironman. I know you’re asthmatic, but I’m not exactly Speedy Gonzales either.”
She moved over to the railing to stand beside him, her face mirroring her acceptance of the situation. “Considering what you’re willing to do for me, I promise to do my best to cheer you on. It’s an incredible sight, isn’t it,” she indicated the Caribbean sunset. “I rarely get to stand around and watch the sun go down at home. Nine out of ten times, I’m either working on something in my room or Mom has me stirring a pot in the kitchen. By the way, Carla said you make great bean soup.”
“A man’s gotta eat as they say, and I was pretty fed up with mess chow and K-rations. Being able to cook for myself was the greatest gift your mother ever gave me. I look forward to cooking for you.”
Paul sighed. He felt at peace for the first time in months and prayed this new-found sense of well-being would stay with him. As the sun dipped lower on the horizon, he contemplated everything that had happened in the space of eight hours. He’d rescued an old friend, set up a plan to make Mark pay for his sins, and had gotten himself engaged to a woman whom he not only admired, but really liked—one he’d be willing to spend the rest of his life with.
My greatest desire.
Suddenly, he wasn’t sure exactly what that was. He glanced at the ring on her finger, the symbol of the bargain they’d made. However long this lasted, he’d make sure she had the time of her life. This might be about getting even with the Achilles heel, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have fun, too.
MJ turned away from the sunset, pulling him out of his musings.
“Shall we go to dinner? You’d think with all the stuff I’ve eaten today, I’d be full, but I’m starving. Unfortunately, I’m a stress eater, and this is the most stressed I’ve been in months.”
Paul laughed. “Relax. We’ve thought of everything. This will work. And as far as eating goes, I’m convinced these resorts spike the food so that it runs through your system more quickly. We got a fair amount of exercise in the pool, walking around the grounds, and playing in the surf on the beach.”
“I had a great time. It’ll take me a while to get used to iguanas that size, but at least my heart didn’t pound out of my chest when we meant the last two.”
She put down the glass. “Can we recap the wine and finish it later? I wouldn’t mind a midnight swim before bed. You did say there was nothing large that came in here, right?”
Paul choked. A midnight swim? Visions of her glistening in the moonlight wearing nothing but the string bikini she had on earlier had his hard as a rock. He swallowed awkwardly, begging his body not to betray him.
“No predators, guaranteed, and a swim before bed will help us both sleep better.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
MJ smiled, picked up her evening bag, and turned toward the door.
Before he could answer, her tablet chimed.
“It’s Carla,” she answered. “Let me see what she wants and write a quick response.” She opened the message, read what Carla had sent and shook her head.
“I was right. News of our engagement is all over Stilton, and Mom is getting all kinds of congratulations.” She frowned. “I sure hope this plan of yours works and isn’t going to come back and bite me in the ass.”
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