Wedding of the Century

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Chapter 6

Trixie and Bonnie were sitting in the pew waiting for the "Wedding of the Century" to start. Trixie picked up the nine-page program and began flipping through it. All of a sudden, Bonnie was startled by her companion's sharp, high-pitched hoot. She turned her head and looked at the petite blonde sitting next to her. "What was that all about?" Bonnie whispered.

"Look!" Trixie said, pointing to the program. She was trying to control her laughter, but she was fighting a losing battle, even though she was holding her hand over her mouth. Another snort escaped and Bonnie starting laughing at Trixie's antics.

"Let me see. What's so funny?" She took the program and looked at the page containing the names of the wedding party. She read down the list of bride, groom, mother and father of the bride, mother and father of the groom, maid of honor, matron of honor, best man, the ten remaining bridesmaids, and eleven groomsmen. "I don't get it."

"Heeerrree," Trixie said pointing as she continued to giggle.

There under the list of human participants, was the 'flower dog'. "Miss Shi-ty, the bride's cockapoo."

"The dog's name is Shitty! Sally always called the dog 'She-she' when she talked about her, but I guess she must have called her 'She-tie' during the rehearsal last night. But, I mean, don't you think someone would have looked at that?" Trixie had regained some of her composure but lost it again when Bonnie burst out laughing.

"Excuse me, ladies. I deduce you've just observed the notation for the 'shitty' flower girl?" Mart came up to the pew and handed them each a tissue as a cover. "Pull it together, ladies. I drew the short straw. Trust me, you do not want Dan or Jim to have to come over. Sally is on a tear about the 'mistake' with the groomsmen's outfits and she has decided that there has to be a choreographed dance routine at the reception. Honey is trying to convince her there isn't time to put something of quality together."

"But I would pay to see a dance routine though!" Bonnie said with a giggle. "Mart, I'll give you a free pass on a speeding ticket if you can convince them to do it!"

"No amount of get-out-of-jail-free cards would be worth the wrath of the male Bob-Whites; no way, no how! Now, behave, ladies," Mart admonished.

"Eggscuse me, Espiky. De groomsmen, dey need chew."

"OK, thanks, Raoul. Now girls, conduct yourselves with some decorum, please. This is the social event of the season," Mart warned before he walked back down the aisle.

Trixie looked sideways at Bonnie as a tall, dark-skinned man with closely cropped dark, well styled, wavy hair sat down in the pew in front of them and turned around to face them. He hooked his arm over the seat back and said, "Chew two must be wit de Boob-Whites."

"Bob-Whites," Trixie automatically corrected.

"Dat's qwat I said, Boob-Whites. I yam Raoul, de tailor. Eet is berry nice to meet chew." Raoul stuck an elegant long-fingered hand out to Trixie.

"It's wonderful to meet you. Jim has told me so much about you. I'm Trixie Belden and this is Bonnie Martin." Trixie's hand was held fast by Raoul's, but she didn't pull away. She wanted to talk to the 'Tape Measure Menace'.

Raoul broke into a stunning smile; his straight, bright-white teeth were almost blinding. "Chew hab to be Espiky's seester. Chew look jes like him, escept chew are muy bonito." He took Trixie's hand, which he was still holding, and brought it to his lips for a kiss.

Trixie giggled softly and her blue eyes sparkled with merriment. "Gracias, señor."

"Cheur accent is muy bueno," Raoul said, releasing Trixie's hand. He leaned closer to her. "And I lub cheur dress. Dat color ees berry good on chew."

"Thank you. Blue is my favorite color, but I fear Bonnie and I clash with the bride's color scheme," Trixie said, gesturing towards the front of the church that was swathed in bright yellow and lime-green tulle. The front pews were enveloped with yards and yards of the vivid netting, accented by contrasting bows dripping with crystals. The effect resembled low lying pollution, the overlapping green and yellow netting producing a bilious effect and the crystals looking like raindrops.

"I seespect de bride tinks eet ees lubly. I also seespect de flower dog has beetter taste."

Bonnie chimed in, "I've seen the same color combinations at Dan's. Of course it was inside the moldy food containers in his refrigerator."

"Oh, I knew I liked chew two. We must seet together at de receeption. I hab to go check on de groomsmen." Raoul stood up and leaned over and kissed each woman on both cheeks in the typical fashionista style.

"So, did Dan tell you about their tuxedo fittings?" Trixie asked.

Bonnie was still a bit shell-shocked by their visitor. "Not much. All he said was that it was thorough and then he laughed and grabbed a beer."

"Well, our new friend Raoul nicknamed Mart - Spiky, Jim - El Fuego, and Dan he called El Guapo."

"Wonderful, just what mister modest needed, a nickname calling him handsome," Bonnie snickered.

Trixie grinned, shrugging her bare shoulders. "But he is handsome. Don't you think?"

"Who's handsome? Wonder-woodsman? Or yours truly?" Bobby teased as he slid into the pew behind Bonnie and his sister.

"What are you doing here? Where are Moms and Dad?" Trixie asked. She was so surprised to see her youngest brother she ignored the nickname.

Bobby quirked his eyebrow and grinned at his sister. "Di called; she left her purse at home so Tess called and asked me if I could bring it over. Seems she needed it now. So I got spiffed up early and thought I could scout out the talent."

"Scout out the talent?" Bonnie inquired, her brow raised.

"Gosh, umm, sorry, Officer Martin. I thought I could drive Tess over here and, umm, wait for my parents." Bobby backpedaled quickly.

Bonnie laughed. "Sure, that's all. Scout the talent sounds like classic El Guapo to me. What do you think, Trix?"

"Not saying a word."

"So the guys told you about their nicknames. Cracks me up, Spiky, El Fuego, El Guapo, and El Grande. I bet they want to get tee shirts made," the young man pondered out loud.

"Excuse me…El Grande? No one mentioned El Grande. Who's El Grande?" Trixie said. Then she realized who it had to be. "Ewwww, ick! More than I ever wanted to know about Brian."

Bonnie and Bobby were laughing as Brian walked up the aisle, escorting Tess to her seat. As soon as they saw him, they couldn't control themselves and once again there was raucous laughter heard throughout the church. Brian gave the two women a look designed to shush them, and he turned and walked back to escort the next wedding guest.

After everyone had calmed down, Tess asked, "Do I want to know what that was about?"

"No. Your sister would kill me. You look very pretty, Tess. I really like your dress," Trixie said, complementing the teenager on her short formal. It was a pretty, simple dress with a V-neckline and cap sleeves accented with sparkling beadwork. It had a ruched empire waist and a layered chiffon A-line skirt that gave the red dress a comfortable fit that was chic and appropriate for the fifteen-year-old. It was sweet, sophisticated and flattering. "Red really is your color. Don't you think, Bobby?"

"Yeah, you look nice, Tess." Bobby said, looking at the dark-haired young lady sitting next to him. "I don't think I've seen you in a dress since, what…Stinky's twelfth birthday party?" Bobby started to chuckle. "Remember, you pushed Tommy Mundy into the cake? Why'd you do that anyway?"

"I don't really remember," Tess denied between clenched teeth. She remembered it perfectly. She was so happy to go to Theodore's party. Until Tommy started teasing her about being dressed like a girl. Her temper had gotten the better of her and one thing led to another and Tommy was wearing cake. Tess was the exact opposite of her flouncy, frilly, poufy twin, Bess. Tess liked sports. She enjoyed running. She took pleasure in her classes. And she had a secret crush on Bobby Belden, who didn't seem to know she was a girl.

"I remember he said you looked like a girl!! That was so funny. Well, I promise not to remind you that you're a girl. I wouldn't want you to push me into Sally's cake. She'd kill both of us," Bobby replied.

"Funny, Belden, very funny. We must be getting close to this thing starting. Mummy and Daddy are here with Bess." As they had been talking, the church had been filling up. Both sides were now full of well-dressed guests. Many of them were waving the program back and forth to try and cool down.

Mr. and Mrs. Lynch were escorted down the aisle. They waved at their daughter and the others she was sitting with. Bess was staring goo-goo-eyed at Zac's surfer-dude handsomeness as he escorted her down the aisle. Minutes later, the Beldens and Wheelers were seated close to the Lynch family.

"Looks like the Wedding of the Century is about to launch," Bonnie said, looking once again at the program. Still finding the 'Shitty' flower dog extremely funny, she shook her head and giggled.

***

Mart had hurried back to the vestibule where Ben and his groomsmen, except for Sally's brothers Bill and Bob, were waiting. As he entered the area and shut the door behind him, the groom gathered everyone around him.

"Listen, guys. I need to say this before Bob and Bill come back from seeing Sally. I know that she's has been a crazy, raving bridezilla bitch since this whole thing started. Claudia, too. The big difference is Claudia is a bitch all the time," he laughed. "I'll admit that Sally has questionable taste in wedding attire, but she has good taste in everything else. She has to, she's marrying me." Ben grinned and slapped Jim on the back.

"You better hope your fiancée does better with your wedding, Belden," the groomsman Zac ribbed with a punch to Mart's shoulder.

Mart quirked an eyebrow as a large grin spread across his face. "My lovely Diana has our wedding fully under control," he said smugly. "Plain black tuxedos for the men. Two maids of honor and two bridesmaids wearing lovely lavender gowns of a similar design but complimentary to each of them. She has exquisite, elegant taste."

"Hard to believe since she's marrying Mart," Dan snickered loud enough to be heard. "Yo, Zac. You'd better redo your tie before Claudia sees how crooked it is."

The door opened to spilling voices and laughter from the chapel into the room. Bob and Bill Wellington entered the room followed by a pair of waiters carrying trays of frosted beer mugs.

"Sally sent us a little present. She knows everyone is tired of standing around in the monkey suits so she figured a little liquid refreshment would be welcome about now," Bob announced with a grin, as the waiters were swarmed by thirsty men.

***

"Geentlemen, Queen Claudia says eet ees time. Let us see dat chew all look wonderbul. Feenish cheur cerveza, chew must geet ready to eescort dee bridesmaids down de aisle," Raoul instructed, but the groomsmen paid him little attention. He clapped his hands rapidly, placing them on his hips and said fiercely, "Feenish!"

The groomsmen quickly finished their beer and lined up in the designated order. Because the 'mix-up' with the computer that Raoul arranged had angered Sally, she sent instructions with Claudia that the groomsmen would alternate between correct and wrong attire. The last ones down the aisle would be the Best Man, Jason, and the Maid of Honor, Bitsy.

Just before Dan was about to head down the aisle with his bridesmaid, Candy, Diana came rushing up. "Oh goodness, I finally got out of the bride's suite. I needed to drop off the guest book. Can I sneak down the aisle please?"

"Diana, my beloved I cannot allow you to just meander down the aisle unaccompanied. It would be indecorous. Please permit me to accompany you to your seat," Mart said, bowing low to the floor, with a wave of his hand.

"Hurry up, dude. Claudia is on the warpath," Dan warned.

"I'll stall Mother. You escort your Diana down the aisle, Mart. I'll buy us at least five minutes," Billy said and turned to find his mother adjusting already straight bow ties. Thinking on his feet, Billy loosened his impeccably tied dark green accessory. "Mother, I need some assistance, please."

***

Diana gasped when she crossed the threshold. "Oh, my," she croaked. "It looks like a sinus infection exploded in here," she whispered, as they moved quickly down the aisle to the pew where Trixie and Bonnie waited.

Mart snorted. "Don't look at it directly for any length of time," he whispered back. "It will do irreparable damage to your lovely violet eyes." He kissed her gently and then urged her into the pew. "Ladies, take care of my beloved. She is rather flabbergasted right now."

Trixie giggled then answered, "Of course she is. She's having an allergic reaction to poor taste."

She giggled again as Mart again shook his finger at her before he hurried back up the aisle.

***

Minutes later, Mart had returned to the vestibule, Billy's tie was once again perfect and he and Bob were ready to escort the mother of the groom and mother of the bride to their seats. The chamber group played a flourish and began Pachelbel's Canon. Within a moment the mothers were on their way down the aisle.

Honey wasn't sure how she lucked out, but she was standing next to Brian, waiting for their turn to walk, "slowly and reverently" down the aisle. She leaned toward Brian and whispered, "I think someone outside the wedding party picked the music. This is overused but tasteful. I was expecting music along the lines of Oh Promise Me. Remember, we must walk deliberately and respectfully, according to Queen Claudia." She snorted softly. "How, I ask you, am I supposed to walk at all in this mermaid get-up?"

"Well, Honey, I have to admit, I've never seen you looked quite so…jaundiced," Brian teased.

"Thanks a lot. Just for that, I'm going to waddle over and see if Dan will trade me," Honey said, punching him lightly in the arm. Although she was just taunting him, she turned to walk away, but the skirt was all tangled around her legs and she pitched forward. If not for Brian's quick reflexes, Honey would have been nothing more than a yellow and green splat.

Grabbing her around the waist, Brian wrapped his arms around her to keep her from falling to the ground. Honey was trembling in his arms. Thinking she was upset over her stumble, Brian was about to comfort her but quickly realized she was laughing. He couldn't help but laugh himself. Standing Honey upright, he gently turned her around so they were face to face. Once again, he was left speechless by her beauty. Brian tucked a stray hair behind her ear. "Can't have you looking less than your best," he said softly, staring into her surprised hazel eyes.

Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring started playing, cutting short Honey's reply. Was Brian Belden making a pass at me? Oh my gosh, I think he was! I didn't think he felt that way about me. Where is Di when I need to chat? UGH! Honey had to fight her desire to caress the tiny lines at the corner of his eye. Slowly she took a small step back and stumbled again.

"Careful," Brian said, steadying her another time before carefully letting go. "Looks like they're starting down the aisle. Ready?"

Honey tore her gaze away from Brian's dark eyes to see that Dan was walking slowly down the aisle with his bridesmaid, Candy, Sally's cousin. She was an extremely voluptuous blonde. Looking closely at the couple, it was easy to see that Dan was a step and a half ahead of the woman, who was walking exceedingly slowly down the walkway. Candy had a death grip on Dan's arm and was not so subtlety attempting to pull him backwards. "I guess Dan's in a hurry to get this over with."

"Honey, my dear, we're all in a hurry to get this over with. How fast do you think we can get down the aisle? Under a minute? I dare you!" Brian teased.

Honey smiled at the ludicrous thought of the two of them sprinting down the runner. "As if I can move faster than a shuffle, Brian, but it would be pretty funny to see what Queen Claudia would do!"

They moved up the queue as Zac and Miffy started down toward the front of the church. This pair was walking exactly as Claudia had instructed. They were pausing for a count of three in between steps. The couple was moving so slowly, they seemed to be standing still.

Halfway back on the groom's side, Trixie leaned over to Di and whispered, "Oh no, one look at Claudia and they've been turned to stone." Diana, who had taken a seat next to Raoul, tried to control her giggle, but a slight noise escaped her. However, she carried it off as a sneeze. "Bless chew!" Raoul said softly, handing his silk handkerchief to her and winking. "Dunt look deerectly into cher eeys. Eet ees rumored che ees a berry powerful vitch."

Zac and Miffy finally made it to the front of the church and Jim started escorting Sally's other cousin, Kelli, down the aisle. Having watched the past two groups head down the runner, Jim had a plan. He gently, but firmly had Kelli's arm. When she started to walk extremely slowly, Jim softly squeezed Kelli's hand and encouraged her with a brilliant smile. Although they did not walk as slowly as they had been instructed, Jim didn't seem to be dragging his bridesmaid down the aisle.

One by one the pairs of groomsmen and bridesmaids made their way toward the waiting groom. The groups seemed to fall into two categories, snail pace and turtle pace. "I have made an observation," Di said, not as softly as she intended, but those in attendance were losing their patience and murmurs were heard throughout the church. "The guys in yellow are oozing a slow slimy trail behind them and the others are able to move a little faster because of the ooze."

"I suspect the others are all our others and they're ready for this fiasco to be done," Trixie said, smiling broadly as she watched Brian and Honey struggling down the aisle. "Does anyone else think they look like they're doing a modified version of the bunny hop?"

***

It was over twenty minutes later when the final bridesmaid and groomsman stood at the altar watching the maid of honor and best man make their way slowly down the aisle.

The members of the wedding party shuffled their feet or shifted their weight from foot to foot as they waited for the bride to make her appearance. Even Ben and the minister were fidgeting as the final attendants walked to their places.

The climate in the sanctuary had progressively grown warmer as the audience waited for the processional to end and the bride to appear. The heat and boredom encouraged the pews of people to talk instead of whisper as they fanned themselves with the programs.

Finally, a high-pitched yip was heard through the church. Heads swiveled to the entrance of the sanctuary. Standing in the tulle-draped doorway was the wedding planner holding a yipping, squirming, and twisting cockapoo at arm's length, like a bomb about to explode.

"The poor dog looks like it's trying to make a break for it," Bobby said in a low voice to Tess.

"You'd try and escape, too, if you were wearing that awful flower ring around your neck and a horrible green bow on the top of your head," Tess said quietly, enjoying the fact that she had to lean in toward Bobby to speak softly. She quickly discovered that if she spoke even more softly, he bent closer to her. "I'm just guessing here, but the fact that the unfortunate dog has been dyed bright yellow-green to match the bridesmaids' dresses doesn't help the unlucky pooch's psyche."

Bobby whispered, "That is a rather regrettable canine color. I imagine the dog has been warped, since being weighed down with the name 'Shitty'. Of course, if that woman isn't careful, the dog is going to twirl right out of her hands and then it'll be splat! So long 'Shitty'."

A sweet little giggle escaped from Tess. "That would be a terrible tragedy. It might delay this wedding even longer. Oh, she escaped!" They watched as the terrified dog raced down the aisle.

Unfortunately, the dog was extremely frightened and she did not walk sedately down the aisle as Sally had envisioned when she spoke of her "precious wittle luv". The scared dog darted down the aisle, ducking into random pews until she encountered feet. She tore under the side pews, ripping the tulle off the ends, creating a wave of fluffy green and yellow destruction in her wake.

Bitsy, as the maid of honor, had doggie treats to entice the dog to sit patiently throughout the ceremony. At least that was the original plan. Now all she wanted to do was get the dog's attention and stop the destruction. Moving demurely down from the steps, she tried to bend over to get closer to the dog's level, but the mermaid style dress refused to allow such strenuous movements. Fearing she would hear a ripping sound, Bitsy was about to give up trying to bend over, when the dog finally came to a stop near the Wellingtons.

The fear finally caught up with the little dog and she squatted in preparation to relieve herself. Claudia shouted, "No!" and made a move to rapidly scoop up the pooch. Unfortunately, Bitsy was trying to capture the dog at the same time and the two women collided. Coming from a standing position, Bitsy had gravity working with her, to Claudia's loss. Elbows flew, the dog yipped, and the sound of rending fabric rang out through the church.

In the end, the people in the pews were no longer talking and fanning themselves. They were sitting speechless, watching Bob Wellington pick his mother off of the bilious carpeting. Claudia's green dress now had a split along the side, from the hem almost to her hip. Bitsy was victorious and had a firm hold on the cockapoo, who was camouflaged against the mermaid dress, still cowering slightly after her scare. Claudia looked around dazed, as Bob eased her onto the pew then quickly resumed his place near Ben.

At that moment,
Sally appeared in the doorway on the arm of her father. A collective gasp was heard from the sanctuary as they saw her gown. The top of the dress was made of fitted transparent tulle, only decorative lace and beadwork covered strategic areas which were emphasized by the corseted bodice. As they moved slowly down the aisle, the ball gown skirt, made of yards and yards of tulle, moved gently to and fro, emitting a gentle swishing sound.

As they neared the altar, 'She-She' wiggled in Bitsy's grip trying to get free. Finally, she put her sharp teeth into the hand holding her and got dropped to her freedom. One yip and she moved to safety underneath the hem of Sally's dress.

The minister closed his eyes briefly and counted to ten. "Who presents this woman to be married in holy matrimony?" he asked, fearing the possible answer or next calamity.

"Her mother and I do," Sally's father stated proudly. Gently, he placed Sally's hand into Ben's, kissed her cheek and moved to sit by Claudia in the first pew.

The minister took a deep breath, relaxed slightly then began, "Dear family and friends. We are gathered here today to witness the declaration of love and marriage of Sally Wellington and Benjamin Riker."

The minister looked over the pews at the people in attendance. His brow wrinkled and he licked his lips nervously. With everything that had happened already, he dreaded having to ask the next question. A deep breath expanded his lungs and then he stated, "If anyone has just cause why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace."

The sanctuary was quiet as the people inside hoped to get past the question and complete the ceremony.

"Bbbbbbuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrpppppp!"

The minister's chin dropped to his chest and he slowly shook his head back and forth as he sighed in consternation. The bride and groom both whipped toward the best man. While Ben had a look of dismay, Sally glared at the source of the belch. "Jason!" Sally hissed furiously.

The object of her ire covered his mouth and turned dark red. "I'm sorry, Sally, Ben. I was nervous about what I needed to do so I drank that beer you sent to us. I didn't think it would affect me like this," he said contritely, followed by another small burp.

"Hu-hum," the minister cleared his throat to reclaim the bride's and groom's attention. "Let us continue."

He paused for a moment to smile at the couple and glance across the congregation. "Benjamin, will you have this woman as your lawful wedded wife, to live together in the estate of matrimony? Will you love her, honor her, comfort her, and keep her in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, be true to her as long as you both shall live?"

"I will," Ben said strongly as he gazed at Sally's tear-filled eyes.

"Sally, will you have this man as your lawful wedded husband, to live together in the estate of matrimony? Will you love him, honor him, comfort him, and keep him in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, be true to him as long as you both shall live?"

"I will," Sally answered softly as Ben gently wiped a tear from her face.

"Sally and Benjamin have written personal vows for today as an expression of their love," the minister informed the witnesses. "Benjamin, whenever you are ready."

Ben turned to Sally and gently took her hands in his. A devilish grin broke across his face as he looked at her and said, "I promise to love you, Sally, even though you listen to Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. I will learn to tolerate them as proof of my love. I will promise not to criticize your choice in music or your cooking skills." He squeezed her hands and winked before adding. "Till death? Jeez, that's an awfully long time, isn't it? Wait a second! My death... or hers?" He chuckled softly. "All I know is that our love and laughter will be forever. I love you."

Sally laughed softly. "I promise to love you, Benjamin, for as long as we don't kill one another. I'll try to learn how to cook your favorite meals of beanie-weanies and mac-and-cheese. I'll give you the TV remote except when McDreamy and McSteamy are on. Our love and laughter will be forever and I love you."

They turned back to the minister.

"Um, yes," he stammered, surprised by their vows. "Repeat after me," he requested. As they pledged themselves to each other, he completed the ceremony and then introduced them for the first time as man and wife.

The smiling newlyweds stepped away for the altar to lead the wedding party out of the sanctuary.

The movements made the cockapoo leave the cover of Sally's dress to yip and nip at Ben's feet. The teacup terror wove in and out of his feet until the laces on his shoes attracted her attention. Yipping and snapping, she nabbed a lace. Ben walked purposefully down the aisle to exit the sanctuary, smiling happily at his bride, their families and friends as the dog hung onto the shoelace for dear life.

***

After everything that had happened, the Bob-White men and Honey felt so badly about all that went wrong during the ceremony, they stayed in their wedding attire and joined in for the photographs being taken outside the church. They stood patiently for several group pictures where they could hide within the masses.

Once the group shots were completed, the photographer called for the parents of the bride and groom. A murmur broke out in the wedding party when Claudia stepped forward and took the ice-pack from her face. An ugly bruise and a knot the size of an egg resided near her eye.

"Oh, my," Honey said softly. "It's going to take some serious air-brushing to remove that thing from the photos."

Chuckling, the boys moved to return to the room where their clothes were waiting. They had taken six steps when they heard, "Wait for me." They turned as a group to see Honey waddling as fast as her dress would let her. She finally gave up trying to walk and hopped the last foot she moved.

"Gee, sis, you don't move very fast in that thing," Jim grinned.

"Fine brother you are. Walking off and leaving me," Honey grumbled. "And the rest of you would have left me, too." She glared at the others.

Jim and Brian laughed as they stepped to either side of her. "Aw, you know we wouldn't leave a Bob-White behind with the fashion enemy in the area," Brian said, brown eyes twinkling.

"That's for sure. Claudia is still on a tear and we wouldn't want you to get caught," Dan agreed with a chuckle as he and Mart moved nearer.

"Here's the deal," Jim explained. "None of us can lean over far enough to pick you up in that dress unless we want to rip the butt out of our pants and who knows what else."

Brian snickered, then added, "I don't think the dress would allow her to bend to be carried anyway. So there's only one way for us to help you move along faster. You just bend your arms at the elbows and hold them stiff to your sides."

Honey blinked confused eyes at Jim and Brian. "I don't understand what you…eeeee," she squeaked as they lifted her from the ground. Her bright green shoes waved up and down like the fins of an actual mermaid. Jim and Brian each grasped Honey's elbow, lifted her straight up and carried her back into the church.

Mart and Dan laughed uproariously as they stepped aside for the smiling trio to pass then fell in behind them.

"Mart, I don't think we'll have this much fun at your wedding," Dan said with a snort. "You need to talk to Di about loosening up on the plans."

Honey's head snapped to the side so she could glance at Dan. "Danny, haven't you seen the tuxedos Di picked?" she asked with a wicked glint in her eyes. "Since you and Brian are the best men with Bobby and Jim as the groomsmen, Di got you these handsome deep purple tuxes with lavender shirts. She had to special order them from your friend Raoul's store. She thought it would make Mart stand out more as the groom."

"Oh, hell, no. Hell, no," Dan groaned, punching Mart. "I will abdicate my best manliness."

"Best manliness?" Jim queried, as he and Brian set Honey down outside the bridesmaids' changing room. He quaked with laughter along with the Beldens, as Honey giggled.

Dan blushed because he knew he'd been had. A small grimace crossed his face as he thought of how lame that sounded, before he joined his friends in laughter.

***

Twenty minutes later, the Bob-White men again stood outside the door to the bridesmaids' room.

Jim knocked on the door and called out, "Honey! Hurry up. There is a hot blonde and a cold beer waiting for me at the reception."

"Oh, dude," Mart and Brian said in unison. "That's my sister." They each punched Jim in the arm.

Jim laughed and smiled at the look of disgust on his friends' faces. "A very hot blonde, if I do say so myself."

"You must be talking about me," a purring voice said from behind Jim.

Jim and his friends turned to see Tiffi and the other bridesmaids standing in the hallway behind him. "No, actually I was talking about my girlfriend, Trixie."

Tiffi sent a smug look toward the other women, then sidled up to place her hands around Jim's arm. "Well, handsome, since she isn't here, I'll be your girl."

Jim's face darkened with anger. "You are a persistent piece of work, aren't you? For the very last time, I am not now nor will I ever be interested in you or your predatory friends," Jim said harshly. "Now, take your hands off me this instant or I will have you arrested for assault, stalking and anything else I can get my lawyer to throw at you."

Tiffi flinched at Jim's tone. She glanced at the other women to see their surprised reaction before turning back to Jim. Softly, she said, "You can keep putting on an act for your friends. I can meet you in the small conference room off the reception hall in an hour and we can talk privately." Tiffi rubbed a hand along his chest.

Jim extracted himself from Tiffi's talon-like fingernails. "Damn it," Jim roared. "Take your hands off me this instant."

Tiffi recoiled from the fury in Jim's voice. She looked at the other women to see embarrassment and pity in their eyes.


"Gosh, Tiff, can't you take a hint?" Bitsy said scornfully, as she frowned at the other woman. "He told you no at the church, the rehearsal and here. He's not interested and won't ever be. You're acting like a sleaze all the time. It's no wonder there isn't a man who will look twice at you."

Bitsy took a deep breath then looked at Jim and the others. "Jim, we want you and your friends to all know that the rest of us aren't like Tiffi," Bitsy said with moist eyes. "We were friends in college but we just can't stand to watch her act like this anymore. We've tried to stand by her as a friend but we can't handle her acting so immaturely." Glancing at the other women in the hallway, Bitsy then added, "We're very sorry for standing by and letting her hurt you and Trixie. We'll apologize to her when we see her at the reception."

"You bitches," Tiffi screamed as she lunged at Bitsy.

"What is going on here?" a man's angry voice bellowed. "Tiffany Ann Vanderbilt! Let go of Bitsy this instant!"

Tiffi immediately let go of Bitsy's hair. "Daddy!" she cried, as she threw herself on the chest of a man of about sixty. "Bitsy said hateful things to me and so did he. He, he led me on." She pointed accusingly at Jim.

"Who are you?" barked the man, as he set a crying Tiffi away from him.

"Jim Frayne? Who are you?"

"Alexander Vanderbilt. I'm Tiffi's father. Now tell me what's going on here," he demanded.

Dan stepped forward and showed Vanderbilt his badge, then led him a few feet away. "Let me explain, Mr. Vanderbilt."

Jim, Brian and Mart stood quietly together in the hallway. Tiffi stood off to one side trying to hear what Dan and her father were saying. The other bridesmaids stood to one side watching the drama play out.

As the men watched Dan and Vanderbilt talk, the older man turned red and responded with anger. Dan's face was solemn and he talked calmly to Vanderbilt. Tiffi's father glanced her way with a frown before his shoulders slumped and he nodded his head. Dan touched Vanderbilt on his shoulder then took his place with his friends on the wall.

Vanderbilt's voice was steel when he said, "Calli. Get Tiffany's things from the room and bring them to me, please."

As an alarmed Calli rushed into the second room to get Tiffi's things, her friend's father stood with his hands on his hips. It was obvious he was counting under his breath.

Vanderbilt glanced at Jim. "You're Matthew Wheeler's son, aren't you?" he asked quietly.

Jim stood straight and said proudly, "Yes, Mr. Vanderbilt, I am. Do you know my father and mother?"

"Yes, we've met." He looked at Tiffi then everyone else in the hallway before returning his gaze to his daughter. "Tiffany."

Tiffi looked up with wet eyes, "Yes, Daddy?"

"This is the last time. Do you hear me? The last time. I will no longer allow you to be an embarrassment to your mother and me. You have made a fool of yourself. You've acted tawdry. This is not going to be tolerated anymore. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Daddy," Tiffi sobbed.

"Cut the waterworks, Tiffany. I'm not buying it this time," her father ordered. "Now, you have been a nuisance to Mr. Frayne, his girlfriend and his friends. I want you to apologize for your behavior."

Tiffi flicked the tears away from her cheeks. "No. I won't do it. He turned me away and wouldn't have anything to do with me."

"Tiffany, he won't have anything to do with you because he has been virtually engaged for ten years to the young lady you have been harassing. If he hasn't looked at anyone else after ten years, he isn't going to. You will apologize. Now!"

Tiffi's eyes narrowed as she looked at her father to gauge her options. Seeing hard anger in his eyes, she knew that if she balked, she would be cut off immediately. This wasn't the first time her dad had caught her trying to get her way with a man. Her mind processed everything and came to a decision that she could live with for now.

"Jim, my dad is right," Tiffi said contritely as she looked down at the hallway rug. A small smirk crossed her face, but she cleared it, then looked around at the people in the hallway before focusing back on Jim. "I'm sorry for throwing myself at you and the unwanted attention that I have given you. Please tell your girlfriend that I am sincerely sorry."

Calli returned with a small case and garment bag. Handing it to Tiffi, she moved back with the rest of the bridesmaids.

Taking hold of his daughter's arm, Vanderbilt said regretfully, "Tell Sally and Ben that we've had a family situation and had to leave. It was an, um, interesting wedding." The older man's lips twitched as he tried to keep a straight face.

Bitsy said, "We'll let Sally know. She won't be terribly surprised about Tiffi needing to leave after what happened at the rehearsal dinner."

Vanderbilt tugged on Tiffi's arm. "Well, then, ah, good evening. We are truly sorry for the commotion."

The stunned group watched as father dragged daughter down the hall, speaking in harsh tones.

A door opened and Honey stood there, checking her carryall to make sure she had all her belongings. She looked up to see the male members of the group staring at her. "Are you guys ready?" she asked, before noticing the shocked look on their faces. She immediately looked down to make sure she was fully dressed before she asked, "What? Are you guys all right?"

Dan cleared his head first. "It's a long story, Honey. We'll tell you on the way. Wow, great dress." He stepped forward, took her tote and garment bag from her.

Brian took her hand and held her arm out to one side. "You look beautiful," he said softly.

Honey shyly replied, "Thank you. Any jaundice? I just had to wear it to counteract the toxic mermaid." She laughed as he twirled her around and the flirty skirt flared out. The short dress had a strapless sweetheart neckline that combined with the skirt and golden beaded material made it very sexy looking and perfect for her figure.

The remaining bridesmaids complemented Honey on her dress before filing past her into the changing rooms. Confused, she looked around at her brother and friends. "What'd I miss? Everyone is acting strange."

Mart and Dan gave the rest of the group a gentle nudge toward the exit. "It's a long story, Honey. We'll tell you on the way to the reception."

"I'll catch up in a minute. Bitsy, let me see your hand," Brian requested as they passed in the hallway. Taking her hand in his, he examined the area around the bite. "You were lucky. She-she only scratched you. You could have had some serious puncture wounds. The dog's teeth are as sharp as needles. Wash it well with soap and water and if it looks irritated or changes, see your regular doctor."

"Thanks, Brian. I will. I think it would have been a lot worse if I wouldn't have let the little terror go as fast as I did," she replied with a slight smile. "Please make sure Honey knows how sorry we are," she requested quietly.

"I will, Bitsy. You just make sure you talk to my sister," he reminded, then hurried toward the parking lot.

As the Bob-Whites settled in the SUV, Jim said, "Brian, you tell the story. Dan, I'll need you to talk us out of any tickets I get. I really, really need to get to Trixie."

"And a beer," Mart finished for him. "Don't forget the beer."

NEXT

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AUTHOR'S NOTES

We do not own these characters, except Raoul, who we adore, Bonnie, Tess and Bess. The rest of the gang belongs solely to Random House and we borrow them lovingly.

We apologize if we have offended anyone who may have used the same wedding colors or recognize Sally's dress. We found them to be humorous and they fit Sally.

Dresses worn at the wedding… Wedding of the Century Style

The unseen wedding planner had better, if somewhat overused, taste and selected the following music for the service:

Pachelbel's Canon

Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Thankfully she did not allow them to use Oh Promise Me.

We wish to thank our wonder, fantastic and tireless editors: Missy/Mylee, Kelly/KellyKath, Joyce/Bundysbaby, and Clo/GrandmaCindy. All errors are ours and ours alone.

And once again, all this would have been impossible without the generous efforts and love of our friend, Bonnie, the future…we hope, Mrs. Mangan.
Description: C:\Users\Jim\Documents\Jo\WORD Web Pages\Stories\wotc6_files\image001.jpgDescription: C:\Users\Jim\Documents\Jo\WORD Web Pages\Stories\wotc6_files\image001.jpg

Jo and Jenny are available for wedding planning, but utilize sources like TLC's
Big Fat Gypsy Wedding…so their taste is extremely questionable!

Header photo is from
Free Pictures Web and green background is from Free Backgrounds