Hello and welcome back to Tuesday Tales. I’m continuing with Wedding Bell Blues. We are well on our way to the climax where MJ and Paul will have to face Mark and Melena, but today, we have the start of their public performance as Monsieur and Madame Davis. Enjoy.
This picks up right after last week’s post.
“I know you don’t believe me,” Paul said, his gaze begging her not to overreact. “I had nothing to do with this. I swear on my mother’s grave.”
Staring into his eyes, MJ read the truth there. Whoever had orchestrated this fiasco had done it without Paul’s knowledge. So who was to blame?
The manager bustled over to them, looking like a cross between the cat who’d swallowed the canary and a child caught with his fingers in the cookie jar.
“Mais, c’est incroyable,” he said, softly enough that no one around them could hear. “As the Greeks would say, the gods have cast the dice. I did not even know your name was in the jar. If you will follow the maître d, he will escort you to your table, and félicitations.
“But we aren’t married,” she hissed, “and everyone thinks we are.” Well, everyone except Lindsay and Noel who seemed quite content to let the matter drop.
“C’est de rien. Once you sign the agreement in the morning and after tomorrow night’s noce civil, it will not matter. Here, on Paradise Island, you will legally be bound. Now, stop worrying and enjoy yourselves.”
Before she could ask what a noce civil was, a chant went up from the crowd.
“Kiss her, kiss her, kiss her.”
MJ looked up, fear and panic making the butterflies in her stomach battle for supremacy.
“Looks like this is out of our hands now. In for a penny…” Paul bent his head and met her lips gently.
The moment his mouth touched hers, she lost the ability to think. All she could do was feel. Heat pulsed through her, sending wave after wave of desire rushing along every nerve she possessed. Unconsciously, she opened her mouth, and his tongue dove into her. She was on fire, a phoenix rising from the ashes of whatever existence she’d had before. The room vanished, and she floated in this new magical space where only the two of them existed. This was the end to her long-ago dream.
“Ahem.” The sound of someone clearing his throat pulled her back to earth just as Paul raised his head. Desire flashed through his eyes for a second, and with it the realization that he was rock-hard against her, proving he wasn’t as immune to her as she thought he was. That was no brotherly kiss.
The crowd applauded even harder. MJ looked away, certain her cheeks were afire.
“On the kiss meter, I’d say that was a twelve,” Lindsay said and laughed. “And it looks like I captured it.” She held up her camera for MJ to see.
MJ couldn’t speak. She wasn’t even sure she could breathe. If Paul hadn’t been holding her, she would’ve collapsed for sure. What had just happened? A kiss like that had to mean something.
“Shall we go, darling? They’re waiting for us, and I’m sure these people want to sit down and eat,” he said loud enough to be heard by those around them. “We can finish this later.”
He winked, and those nearby laughed. The gesture and the sound shattered the magical illusion, just as easily as if he’d thrown a bucket of ice water on her head. He’d been playing it up for the crowd. He didn’t have to catch his breath because the kiss had meant nothing to him other than adding another layer to this charade, a travesty she could easily come to regret. As far as his arousal went, Mark had always been able to rise to the occasion and look what that had gotten her.
Drawing on an inner strength she didn’t realize she possessed, she batted her eyes coquettishly, in reality not to flirt but to keep the tears away.
“Of course, dear.” She turned and smiled at the waiter. “Lead on.”
As they approached the head table, MJ pasted a grin on her face. No one here would see how devastated she was, especially not Paul. She could play her part as well as he did.
I’ll smile for ten days, and then I’ll shed an ocean of tears.
“Tonight, your server will be Antoine. Enjoy your meal.” He snapped his fingers and left to be followed immediately by a young Creole man dressed in black tie and white gloves, much as the maître d had been. Around them, people were slowly being seated.
“Bonsoir. I’m Antoine. Would you care for an aperitif? The sommelier’s suggestion is a champagne cocktail, but you may have whatever you like.”
“That sounds fine for me,” MJ said, hoping she might get drunk to help her get through this, knowing it wouldn’t help one damn bit, and she’d probably end up making an even bigger fool of herself than she had.
“I’ll have a Blonde,” Paul said gruffly.
Antoine nodded and slipped away.
“MJ, about that kiss,” Paul started to speak, but MJ cut him off. She didn’t want to hear that it had all been an act. She’d gotten that part. She wasn’t as naive as he thought she was.
“I think we did great, don’t you? The crowd certainly bought it,” she said with more enthusiasm than she’d expected. “Lindsay said it was a twelve, so thank you. If we can keep this up, Mark will buy into it for sure.”
Paul cocked his head, his eyes troubled as if her words might’ve hurt him.
“Glad I lived up to your expectations.”
Before she could say anything, knowing that somehow she’d hurt him, the woman who’d pulled their names arrived at the table and sat on Paul’s left.
That’s it for now. Please take the time to check out the other Tuesday Tales.