Good morning and welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. It’s definitely autumn here in Eastern Ontario, but on Paradise island, the Quimbois magic continues for MJ and Paul as Wedding Bell Blues head s for its climax.
Here’s is this week’s scene. Enjoy!
MJ cocked an eyebrow at him.
“Why are you really doing this, Paul? And don’t give me anymore of that helping out an old friend or getting even with a bully crap,” she said, her gaze insisting on an honest answer, not another quip or deflection. “This pseudo wedding isn’t just going to transform my life; it’s going to change yours, too. I know you think we can get out of it easily, but so many things have gone wrong already. A lot of people are going to be hurt when the truth comes out, and Mama’s only one of them. I’ve always hated lies, and this is a whopper.”
Looking down at her, he swallowed. Maybe it was time for some truth.
“Change isn’t always a bad thing, MJ, but when it is, you’ve got a choice—let it beat you or do whatever you can to overcome it. I loved being a soldier, helping people, doing what little I could to make the world a better place, but sometimes, the best intentions blow up in your face. I made it back from Afghanistan alive—not everyone did—but I lost a piece of myself there. When I woke up in the hospital in Germany, I swore that if I survived, I would find a way to atone, a way to make my life count for something. Being able to go back to work as a police officer is a big part of it. I bought the house in Watertown because I believe it can help me lay to rest the ghosts that haunt me.”
“I don’t understand. What ghosts?” she asked, her gaze filled with compassion.
“Maybe someday I can share that with you, but believe me, this is the last conversation we should be having right now. Let me just finish with this. My life wasn’t perfect in Stilton, but I was happy when I was part of your family. That’s what I’m searching for. I need to find my happy place, and having you in my life will help me get there. You wanted honesty? Here it is. I’m a selfish bastard. I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it for me.”
“Bullshit! You may think you’re being selfish, but you don’t have an egotistical bone in your body. There’s a lot you aren’t telling me, and I respect your right to keep your secrets. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. I promise I’ll do whatever I can to help you find that happy place and make the next few months as bearable as I can. I haven’t been through hell the way you must’ve, but I will do whatever I can to help you find what you’re looking for. The only thing more I’ll ask from you is that we don’t lie to one another. Do we have a deal? It isn’t too late to back out. Everyone will hate us, but these are our lives on the line.”
Before he could answer, the door opened and Monsieur St. Louis stood there, his face split by the biggest grin he’d seen yet.
“Vous voilà,” he said, obviously relieved to see them. “I was on my way to speak to you. Monsieur James has decided to film the noce civil on the beach near the cabanas. He says the sunset will make it more dramatic. The staff has taken care of everything. Many of the guests are already there, and there’s a cart waiting to take you down to the area where the ceremony will take place.”
“That’s fine” Paul answered, aware that MJ would probably welcome a few minutes more to prepare herself. She’d sounded confident, determined, and accepting of the situation, but he was positive it was an act. The pulse at the base of her throat displayed her agitation even if her words hadn’t.
MJ nodded and smiled, slipping her arm through his. “Of course. Louis Rich knows best, and if the sunset is as gorgeous as it was last night, I can see how standing with a liquid gold ocean in the background would be the perfect backdrop for a treasure hunt.”
Monsieur St. Louis nodded. “C’est vrai. If you’ll follow me? We can go through the main building.”
Paul put his hand over MJ’s as she held his arm and followed the manager. He could feel her nervous tremor. Leaning down, he whispered into her ear.
“Just think of it as a scene in a Hollywood movie. It’ll be over in one quick take, and then, everyone will reach for champagne, toast the occasion, and then focus on the treasure—the real reason they’re here. We’ll be nothing more than window dressing.”
She chuckled. “I hope so, but I can’t help thinking this is one of those movies, where, just as the bride and groom kiss, the camera cuts to the water and an enormous Great White shark surfaces.”
Paul laughed, unable to erase the image of a bad B-rated horror movie from his mind as Monsieur St Louis opened the building’s main door.
“You crack me up, you know that—”
“Oh my God!” MJ cut him off before he could finish. “I wasn’t expecting this.” The awe in her voice matched his surprise. “If this is Quimbois magic … It’s Cinderella’s coach. Paul, it couldn’t be more perfect.” Her eyes shone with excitement, reminding him of the countless pictures he’d seen of radiant brides on their wedding day. Come hell or high water, he wouldn’t let her down.
“Your carriage awaits, princess,” he said softly.
The beautiful, white, antique calèche was shaped like a pumpkin.Votive candles front and back would provide lighting for it tonight. A man, dressed in the island’s livery, held the carriage door open for them.
“You like it?” the manager asked, the smug look on his face telling him he knew she did. “Monsieur Rich brought it to the island this morning, horse and all.”
“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “If I’m asleep, please never wake me up.”
Monsieur St’ Louis chuckled. “Madame, as I’ve said before. On Paradise Island, all your dreams come true. Alphonse will drive you around the island, and I will meet you at the outdoor chapel. Enjoy!”
Can you imagine a more perfect way to get to a wedding?
That’s it for this week. Please take the time to check out the other selections on Tuesday Tales.