Good morning. Well, October’s behind us as are the dog days of summer, and if you live in any northern country, late fall is upon us, soon to be replaced by early winter. We’ve already had a taste of that with our first snowfall, and yes, my heat is on! When it dips below O degrees Celsius, it’s time to turn on the furnace–at least for part of the day. It’s also time for me to escape into a book where the setting is hot and inviting.
This week, I’m posting once more from Wedding Bell Blues. Our word is HOOK. Enjoy!
The carriage pulled to a stop near the beach, now decorated with lights and planters filled with exotic bushes and flowers, as well as chests full of faux jewels and gold. Rows of benches created an aisle to the archway, placed to capture the setting sun, where the service would take place. Offshore, a camera crew moved up and down the beach in a small boat, taking in all the festivities from that angle, while other camera men stood off to the side getting a different perspective on things.
On the far side of the seats, most of the hotel’s hundred guests milled around, chatting and enjoying champagne or one of the other cocktails provided. There would be an introduction to the event before it started. Louis Rich would talk about the filming and get everyone’s permission forms signed and witnessed. Other couples would be interviewed and the sponsors identified, their prizes handed out throughout the event.
Waiters dressed in white tuxedos with plaid cummerbunds moved through the crowd. Women, in white dresses and plaid sashes, their hair covered by elaborate, plaid headdresses, offered canapés.
“Hello,” a man in a dark shirt and pants stepped over to them and opened the door to the carriage. “I’m Giles. If you’ll come with me, Mr. Rich is waiting to go over the evening’s events with you.”
MJ allowed him to help her out of the coach, but as soon as Paul was beside her, she hooked her arm in his, desperate to hang onto her lifeline.
“I’m terrified I’m going to get sick on camera,” she whispered, the butterflies in her stomach in full revolt.
Paul squeezed her hand. “Do that, and we’ll have far more serious rumors to squelch.”
She felt her cheeks heat at the implication and groaned. If that were to happen, people might assume she was pregnant, the last thing she needed.
“Hey, I’m only joking. You’ll be fine. Just remember. We’re in this together.”
She nodded, licked her lips nervously, and reached for the glass of champagne that materialized beside her, downing it in one gulp, and grabbing another.
“Take it easy,” Paul admonished and smiled. “You don’t want to stumble down the aisle, either.”
“If I thought I could stumble and pass out, only to wake up and realize this was all an ugly nightmare, I would.” But she heeded his advice and sipped more slowly.
“Mrs. Davis,” a man in a white dinner jacket, black shirt, white tie, and black pants stepped up to her as soon as they entered the tent that had been set up on the far side of the clearing. “Congratulations.”
“Mr. Rich. Nice to meet you. Marilyn and I can’t thank you enough for being part of our surprise celebration,” Paul answered for her.
It was a good thing he did. She felt as if her mouth was full of sand, just like the beach on which she stood, silver heels sinking deeper each second.
Louis Rich laughed. “The pleasure’s all mine. I have a feeling this extra show is going to boost my ratings nicely. Thanks for letting us horn in on your honeymoon. When I decided to do the whole treasure seeking thing, I hadn’t thought about exactly what kind of resort this was, but once my staff did more research, … well, you know what they say … never look a gift horse in the mouth.”
“The Trojans should’ve.” Paul mumbled.
She stifled a giggle.
“Look on the bright side, millions of American viewers are going to share this special moment with you, and we have all kinds of sponsor prizes waiting to be delivered to you when you get home. You’ve become America’s couple. Everyone is rooting for you to find the treasure, too.” He turned to the woman beside him. “This is Kate. Since the proceedings are in French, she’s going to translate everything for the audience at home. If you’ll go with her, Mrs. Davis, she’ll hook you up with a microphone. The folks at home may not understand what’s being said, but they will expect you to agree in English.” He turned back to Kate. “Have them check her makeup. There’s a lot of white here and I don’t want here to look washed out.”
“Yes, sir. If you’ll come with me?”
MJ looked forlornly at Paul, knowing she would have to let go of him and that was the last thing she wanted to do.
“It’s okay,” he said, his gaze telling her he understood her trepidation. “I’ll be right here when you get back.”
“Actually, you won’t be. Makeup’s waiting for you, and then we’ve got a pre-event interview. The bride will join you when the official is ready to start.”
Fear gripped MJ, but the look of concern on Paul’s face—and the three glasses of bubbly she’d had—eased her worries. This interview scared him more than the marriage did. What was he afraid of?
“We’ve got this,” she whispered shakily. “Go and wow them. I won’t let you down.” Turning to the woman, she smiled. “I’m all yours.”
That’s it for this week. Please take the time to check out the other selections on Tuesday Tales.