Good morning and welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. If this is your first visit, this is a weekly private blog hop written for your enjoyment by a group of talented authors. Each week, we use a word in our current work in process and invite you to read and share your opinion on it. Anyone can comment on a particular post, so don’t be shy. All feedback is appreciated! Once a month, our prompt is a picture and a 300 word limit is imposed. Most of the other post will vary in length by 1500 words is usually the max.
This week’s word is Track and I’ll be posting from Wedding Bell Blues. Enjoy!
MJ smiled weakly at Paul, hoping he hadn’t noticed the way his kiss had stunned her. Before she could think of anything to say, Mama pulled her into her arms, almost smothering her against her ample bosom. Releasing her just a bit, she grinned through the tears of joy running down her cheeks, adding an additional layer to the guilt MJ bore.
“I’m so happy for you, agapiménos,” her mother said, speaking Greek the way she always did when she was overwhelmed, kissing her first on one cheek and then the other. “I told you when he left that if it was meant to be, he would be back, and here he is. Papa would’ve been so proud.” She reached up and kissed Paul on each cheek, too. “He loved you like a son and worried about you after you left. Now, he’s at peace, knowing you’re back where you belong.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Summers. That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” Paul responded, his voice clogged with emotion.
Mama stood between them and put an arm through each of theirs.
“No more Mrs. Summers. Call me Mama, like you used to do. I wish Ron could’ve been here, but I know he’s watching.” She sighed, her eyes still bright from her tears. “Our family is complete. Now, I can’t wait for more grandbabies to fuss over.”
MJ gasped, knowing her cheeks flamed. “Mama!”
Paul burst out laughing. “Slow down, Mama. We haven’t even started the honeymoon yet. You need to give us some time as a couple before we become a family.”
Mama narrowed her eyes. “Not too long. She isn’t getting any younger and neither are you.”
“Please, Mama,” MJ begged, hoping the microphones weren’t still picking up every word. “I’m not that old, and neither is Paul.”
“Well done, you two,” Louis Rich interrupted the disastrous conversation. “We need to borrow you all for some publicity shots before you get into the carriage for the ride back to the main building. Mrs. Summers, you’ll ride back with me. That’ll give the newlyweds a few minutes alone. I think we surprised the hell out of them. Let’s give it time to sink in, shall we?”
“Of course,” Mama said, letting go of their arms and stepping toward Mr. Rich.
“Here,” he handed them each a flute of champagne from the tray the waiter beside him held. “Let me be the first to toast the new bride and groom.” He raised his glass. “Congratulations.”
MJ sipped from her flute. How much wine had she had? She really needed to watch herself and keep her wits about her. There were television cameras everywhere.
Paul leaned down and whispered in her ear. “Are you okay? You look scared to death.”
“Maybe just a little,” she murmured. “I feel like a goldfish in a bowl with everyone looking at me and no place to hide.”
“You don’t have to hide, not now, not ever. As long as you’re with me, you’ll be safe.”
The conviction in his voice was unmistakable.
“Excuse me, sir. I’d like to remove your mike.”
“Is it still on?” she asked horrified that everything Mama said might have been heard by the television audience.
“No, it went dead after the ceremony. The reception room’s been miked already, so this won’t be needed.”
“We’ll give Joe a few seconds to collect his equipment, and we’ll move over there. The photographer is waiting.” Mr. Rich turned to Mama. “Mrs. Summers, if you could join us too? We’ll have a few mother-daughter shots taken for you.”
As soon as the technician removed the last of Paul’s wires, he held out his arm to her and winked.
“Shall we, Mrs. Davis?”
MJ finished the champagne in her glass, hoping it would give her the strength to make it through the rest of the evening, and praying she wouldn’t fall flat on her face later. She chuckled sheepishly.
“Mrs. Davis. That will take some getting used to.”
“You can always keep Summers or use Summers-Davis,” he offered. “I won’t mind.”
“She’ll do no such thing,” Mama cut in, horrified by the idea. “A married woman takes her husband’s name.”
“Mama, it’s the twenty-first century,” MJ interjected. “If I want to be married to Paul and keep my last name or even hyphenate it, I can. That’s between Paul and me.”
Keeping Summers might be for the best since she wouldn’t have to change any of her identification. If she took Davis, then once they filed for divorce she would have to change it all back.
“Actually, I’m planning to keep my maiden for my professional career. If someone calls me Mrs. Davis, I won’t go ballistic, but for now, unless the school board has some objection, I’ll remain Ms. Summers.”
Mama screwed up her face, the action warning of a “talk” to come, but she stayed silent.
Within a minute or so, they reached the area Louis Rich had selected for the photo shoot and Kate waited to freshen her makeup.
After what felt like an hour, the photographer signaled an end to the shoot. MJ’s face hurt from smiling so much, and she was certain the spots from the flashbulbs dancing before her eyes would never go away.
“That’s it for now,” Louis Rich said, coming to stand beside them. “Your driver has instructions to take the long way back to the main building to give you two time to talk. There will be a few official task back there, including the official acceptance of the sponsor gifts, the banquet, and the cutting of the cake. After the first dance, we’ll wrap up for the night. Tomorrow is all yours—enjoy the peace and quiet. The treasure hunt starts the following morning, and a camera crew will join you to keep track of your progress. I’ll be back at the end of the week to wrap everything up. By the way, we’ll be leaving early since I need to be in the New York studio by six, so you’ll have to say goodbye to your mother after the dance, too.”
“I don’t really know how to thank you for everything,” Paul said. “Neither Marilyn nor I expected any of this.” He held out his hand.
Louis Rich shook it. “The pleasure was all mine. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of attending a wedding where the couple fits so well together. Maybe we can do a follow-up special when that first baby is born.” He winked.
MJ fought to keep the panic off her face, and then calm filled her. There would be no follow-up for the birth of a child, and unless Mr. Rich decided to publicize their divorce, this would be the end of their involvement with him.
That’s it for me this week. Don’t forget to check out all the other on Tuesday Tales.