Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. We are back to posting scenes based on a word, and today, that word is GOLD.
Today’s scene comes from Wedding Bell Blues.
Paul took her hand in his and smiled at her, as he moved toward the path that led to the dock. “I’m having a lot more fun with you then I did before you arrived. Despite last night’s unexpected surprise, I watched an incredible floor show, danced with the most beautiful woman in the room, and made new friends. Although my knee was sore earlier this morning, it feels fine now.”
“I forgot all about your knee. I’m sorry you had to carry me. I’ll wear flats and carry my heels tonight, and I will definitely take it easy on the champagne.”
He hefted her beach bag onto his shoulder and chuckled. “I did warn you the stuff had a kick, but carrying you was a pleasure, not a chore, and I’ll gladly do it again. Did you put in sunscreen and a hat?”
“I did and added two towels,” she answered, wondering which of the women he thought was the most beautiful one—from what she could remember, he’d danced with half a dozen different partners as had she. It had to be the Italian girl who resembled Sophia Loren.
Hand in hand, they walked along the same path she’d followed yesterday. How could things have changed so much in less than twenty-four hours?
Fifteen minutes later, MJ stood at the bow of the boat looking out at the turquoise ocean as she waited for Paul to return. Unlike yesterday, today the sky was clear and the sun shone brightly. Lindsay and Noel had joined them.
“Noel’s gone down below to get me coffee. I assume Paul’s done the same? I must say this is a much nicer crossing than the one we had yesterday,” Lindsay said, coming to stand beside her. “And you look a lot happier too.”
“I am,” MJ answered, unable to hide the smile on her face. “I’m a little worried about the diving, but Paul promises not to leave my side.”
Lindsay chuckled. “Will you ever explain to me what’s really going on between the two of you? Despite the story you told yesterday, I’m convinced there’s a hell of a lot you didn’t share. I saw your face, remember? No one can fake that kind of shock. He must’ve done a lot of groveling to get you to forgive him and agree to marry him.”
MJ felt the heat burn her cheeks and knew it had nothing to do with the sun.
“There’s no mystery to it, Lindsay. I came here expecting to be alone. We’d had an argument, but time apart and loneliness have a way of changing things. Once I saw him, I knew I wanted to be his wife.” Since most of what she’d said had a touch of truth in it, she had no doubt her sincerity showed on her face.She did want to be Paul’s wife … she just wanted to be the love of his life, too.
Lindsay raised her eyebrows. “You may be able to convince others that’s what happened, but I don’t buy it for a minute. I know you and Paul are up to something, but I respect your need to keep it between you. When I’m not taking photographs I work as a psychologist. I know when people are lying, and that’s as big a pile of bull as I’ve ever seen anyone shovel.”
MJ felt her blood run cold. “But…”
“Stop, MJ. I’m not going to say anything to anyone because I’m convinced you were in real trouble, and Paul rescued you. Knowing the document you two signed this morning is legally binding comforts me because no matter what happens, you’ll be protected. That ceremony tonight is going to legitimize this even more. There’s history between you; it’s obvious in the way he looks at you, and I can see you really care for him, but there’s something more–I’ve seen a longing on your face, and I don’t think it’s got anything to do with finding La Corneille’s treasure. That being said, I want you to know Noel and I will back up whatever story you tell. I know we haven’t known one another long, but I’m your friend. I hope you can tell me the whole story one day.”
MJ smiled, blinked her eyes rapidly to keep the tears at bay, touched by the other woman’s concern. “Thank you.”
“Thanks for what?” Paul asked coming to stand beside her and handing her a glass.
“For being a friend. This isn’t coffee,” she said, looking at the orange-gold concoction in her glass.
“It’s an island specialty—a little of the hair of the dog. It’s a mimosa, with champagne, and Galliano. Try it. You trust me, right?” he asked and winked.
MJ smiled at him, lifted the glass to her lips and sipped. “This is delicious.”
“They’re making coffee, and as soon as it’s ready, Royal will bring us some as well as a fruit plate. It’s all part of the service.”
“I’ll go and find Noel and get one of those pretty things myself,” Lindsay said.“We should be at the dive site in about an hour. I’ll see you later.”
“What was that all about?” Paul asked. “You looked so serious. Not having second thoughts, I hope.”
MJ smiled. “No. It was just girl talk. Now, tell me all about this statue we’re going to see.”
Paul smiled. “Manman dlo is a mermaid responsible for all the shipwrecks in these waters…”
Eight hours later, MJ stood by the window waiting for Paul to finish dressing. The day had been magical. If she was dreaming all of this, she never wanted to wake up. She was so glad she’d let Paul convince her to dive down with him and see the underwater statue. The large head of Manman dlo, the mermaid, hadn’t been what she’d expected, but watching the colorful fish swim around it, going in the grotto and coming out the mouth had been the real treat. To top it all off, she hadn’t had the least bit of trouble with her asthma.
After the dive, they’d taken a bus tour of Martinique, stopping here and there to admire the exotic birds and plants, and enjoying a picnic on a cliff overlooking the town of Saint Pierre. She’d had one of the local beers brewed on the side of Mount Pelée, the volcano that had spawned the island paradise. Lindsay’s camera had clicked non-stop, and MJ looked forward to seeing some of the pictures she’d taken, pictures Lindsay said she’d arrange in an album as a wedding present.
Sipping the glass of champagne Paul had poured for her from the bottle that had greeted them when they’d returned, MJ tried not to focus on what would happen in the next couple of hours. Paul had graciously allowed her to shower first, so she’d hurried and finished dressing out here.
The strapless, white gown was beautiful in its simplicity. Silver and crystal cabochons encircled the bust and flowed down the side of the dress in a river of glitter. Around her neck, she wore a necklace of crystals and matching earrings dangled from her ears. She’d used gel to tame her curls, knowing the sight would stun Mama, but there wasn’t much she could do about that now. On the counter sat a gorgeous bouquet of tropical flowers, decorated with lace and ribbon in the island plaid, compliments of Monsieur St. Louis and the staff.
The bathroom door opened, and she turned to smile at Paul, catching her breath at the sight of the man who would soon be her husband, forcing herself to remember it was all a sham. He’d looked fantastic last night but tonight, in his black tux, he looked sexier than ever, and her heart flipped. It would be too easy to fall in love with him, and this time when he left, she wouldn’t recover from the heartbreak. The jacket emphasized his broad shoulders and slim waist. He walked over to her and smiled, exposing that dimple she loved but rarely saw.
“You look incredible,” he said walking toward her.
She swallowed. “Thank you. So do you.”
He reached for his glass of champagne on the table. “To us.” He clinked his glass against hers. “Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” She blew out a nervous breath, finished the champagne in her glass, and reached for her clutch. “What if I can’t do it, Paul? I’ve never been a good actress, and if my asthma acts up…”
Paul took the empty glass out of her hand, and held her hand in his.
“You’ll be great. We’ve got this. There’s no acting involved. We’re legally engaged, and we’re about to be married on national television.”
He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed her fingertips. The romantic gesture sent warmth spiraling through her.
“You trusted me with your life this morning, trust me now.”
She nodded, incapable of speaking even if she wanted to.
“I won’t let you down. That’s all you have to remember. We’ll go through with the noce civil, have a wonderful dinner with Rick and Cindy and the Smiths, and then we’ll dance and enjoy ourselves just like we did last night.” He gazed into her eyes. “I had more fun today than I’ve had in I can’t remember how long and that was because I was with you. We make a good team, Marilyn. All you have to do from here on in is be yourself.”
“You make it sound so simple.”
“That’s because it is. Let’s go get married.”
He scooped her up in his arms, and headed for the door.
That’s it for now. Please take the time to check out the other selections on Tuesday Tales.