The world around us keeps getting uglier. The bombing in Manchester, England was a despicable act. No one will ever convince me that such a display of cowardice and lack of respect for humanity can advance a cause. My heart goes out to all who were touched by the heinous actions of the perpetrator.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. Each week, a group of authors use a word cue or picture prompt to create a scene in their current work in progress. I’m getting to the end of Wedding Bell Blues.
This week’s prompt is STAPLE.
Now that Mark and Melena are on Paradise Island too, the fat;s going to hit the fire. Something’s going to happen, but what?
Enjoy this week’s tale.
Bill chuckled. “He didn’t get around to mentioning that. But it’s all water under the bridge, now. Mark and Melena are the final members of our treasure hunting team.”
MJ shivered. How the hell had that happened. The boat hit a wave, sending her crashing into into the gunwale and she gasped. Paul reached for her and pulled her into his arms.
“Are you alright?” he asked, his gaze conveying his concern.
She nodded, too stunned by this latest stroke of bad luck to answer. Wasn’t Quimbois magic supposed to be on her side?
“I met Mark a few months ago in a treasure hunters’ chat room,” Bill continued. “Was I surprised to see his name picked to be on our team. You should’ve seen the manager’s face. I thought he was going to make a stink, but then he shrugged and said something about fate.Would anyone like coffee? They’ve got some in the galley.”
Dismissing Mark and turning to Bill, Paul grinned, but MJ saw the muscle jump in his jaw. “I’d love coffee. What about you, darling?” he asked, pulling her closer into his body.
“Coffee’s fine,” MJ answered, although a cup of hemlock might be more to her liking. On their team? How would she survive this?
“We’ll have the same,” Mark said, his compressed lips and two spots of deeper red on his ruddy complexion telling their own story. He was angry, but at what? The tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a machete.
“Six coffees coming right up.” Bill said. “Come on, honey. I’ll need your help.”
Christy nodded and following her husband.
MJ wished she had an excuse to leave, too, but Paul was holding her tightly to him.
“Melena and I had a big wedding but not quite the fanfare you managed to pull off on national television. Just how did you arrange that dog and pony show?”
“I’d say all my dreams came true. Fate and fortune favor the bold.” Paul turned away from Mark, snubbing him. “I don’t believe you’re from Stilton, Melena.”
“No,” she said softly, licking her lips. She was pale—no, she was green—and the boat had just left the dock, although the water was surprisingly rough given the light breeze.
“I grew up in Philadelphia,” she continued, looking directly at Paul and not the horizon. “Mark and I were childhood friends, but it wasn’t until I moved to Stilton that we connected again. You two obviously know how that works. Things just happened.” She shrugged.
MJ smiled. “And if you and Mrk hadn’t reconnected, I might’ve made the biggest mistake of my life,” she said, smiling up at Paul.
He bent his head and kissed her softly. Turning to Melena he said, “I’ll add my thanks to hers.”
Mark coughed, but it sounded a lot like he’d said “bullshit.”
MJ frowned. “I have some Dramamine, Melena,” she offered. “It’s a staple for those of us who don’t travel well.”
Melena nodded, her cheeks pink in her otherwise bleached face. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine.”
MJ frowned and nodded. She didn’t look fine. Mark didn’t seem to notice or care.
He leaned closer, lowering his voice.“How do you intend to continue this little charade when we get back to Stilton?” Mark asked and sneered. “I checked the laws. American citizens can’t legally marry here.”
“They can with special permission from the French government,” Paul said, his teeth gritted, a sign that Mark was getting to him. “You might want to recheck your facts. MJ is my wife every way she can be. While we’ll go back to Stilton to visit, we’ll be living in Watertown.”
Mark’s eyes narrowed. “Watertown? What about her job? She’s in line for department head.”
While this might be a testosterone induced pissing contest, this conversation was about her and MJ was determined to be part of it.
“Not that it’s any of your business, Mark, but I resigned my position three months ago when Paul and I decided to get married. He bought me a house just down the street from my new school.”
“Why do I find that hard to believe?” Mark asked, leaning into Paul. “No one knew where the hell you went after your loser father beat your mother to a pulp and the two of you slunk out of town. Since MJ never left Stilton, I don’t buy this ;little miracle romance of yours. Pen pals. Bullshit. You may have conned Louis James, But I’m going to get to the bottom of this and expose you for the frauds you are.”
MJ put a restraining hand on Paul’s arm, felt the tension in his muscle and watched the muscle jump in his jaw once more.
“Mark, for once in your life, think before you say something you’ll regret,” she said. “Paul and I are married, like it or not. There’s nothing you can say or do to change that.”
Paul hugged her tightly, reassuring her he had himself under control, and dropped a kiss on her head.
“Don’t threaten me, MJ. But, what I want to know is why you’re really here?”
“She’s on her honeymoon with me,” Paul interrupted. “She had a reservation, and we decided to use it.”
“That’s bullshit. You claimed you knew what I’d done yesterday. Now, I see you’ve got nothing on me. Well, here’s how this is going to go. This whole charade of yours is a load of crap, and when Louis James finds out the truth, the shit will hit the fan. You’re act is just an excuse to get the treasure for yourselves. That gold belongs to me. When we find it, Bill and I will be the only ones there. The fact we’re on the same team means nothing.”
Paul stepped close, putting himself in Mark’s face. “Really? Let me lay a few facts out for you. The treasure belongs to the islanders. If you find it, you’ll get a finder’s fee and nothing more. Try to smuggle it home and you’ll be doing hard time. But that’s not all. I’m a police officer. I know exactly what you’ve done. This place keeps excellent records. They’ve got your emails, even you damn telephone conversation. I know exactly what the two of you did.”
Melena seemed to shrink and grow paler.
“You will not bother my wife in any way shape or form, and you will return every last cent she paid for this holiday or you will be charged with fraud and identity theft. Personally, I think it’s time everyone saw you for what you really are.” The ice in his eyes was unmistakable.
Mark’s face whitened. “Don’t threaten me, soldier boy, ” he bluffed. “You’re out of your league. I wouldn’t bank on your evidence. For the right price, it could all disappear, and even if it doesn’t, it’ll be her word against mine. People in Stilton know she “offered” it to me. Who do you think they’ll believe?”He shook his head. “You and the slut deserve each other.”
Paul released MJ and reached for the collar of Mark’s shirt. “I suggest you apologize right now, or you’ll be swimming back.”
“Please, Paul, let him go. You’re making a scene,” MJ begged.
In a flash, Paul had changed his hold on Mark into a bear hug. “And I can still take you know,” he said loudly and laughed releasing the man. “I suggest you take your wife below deck and find her a place to lie down. Here come the Smiths. If you ever insult my wife again, you will regret it. This isn’t a threat, it’s a promise. Do I make myself clear?”
Mark nodded and seemed to shrink before MJ’s eyes. Why had she ever been afraid of him? She smiled, stood on tiptoe, and kissed her husband’s cheek.
“Here you go,” Christy said offering Paul and MJ the cups she held. “I’ve got cream and sugar.”
“Thank you,” MJ said, taking the cup and moving out of Paul’s protective arms. She had this now. “So what do I need to know to catch a really big fish?”
Now, don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.