CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT
Saturday mid-day — 12:25 p.m.
“What’s left?” Tanesha asked Sandy.
Tanesha nodded to the list on Sandy’s cell phone. Sandy looked down the list and then looked up at Tanesha. They were standing in the middle of the main Castle living room
“Well?” Tanesha asked.
“Everything’s done!” Sandy said, her voice filled with surprise. “But …”
“But?” Tanesha asked.
Sandy squinted at Tanesha. She responded by giving Sandy a sweet smile.
“The last time I looked at this list there was just enough time to finish everything,” Sandy said.
“And now?” Tanesha asked.
“Everything is done,” Sandy said. “How …?
“Would you like some champagne?” Heather asked as she walked out of the kitchen. “Or would you rather have it in the limo?”
“What limo?” Sandy asked.
“We’re taking a limo to the place where we’re getting dressed,” Jill said. Jill shrugged. She leaned into Sandy, “I think we just go along with it.”
“We did save you from the Gods of War,” Tanesha said with a laugh. “Isn’t that what you called them?”
“That’s not even funny,” Honey said as she wheeled out into the living room.
“True,” Tanesha said. “But you can trust us.”
“Are we ready to go?” Valerie asked as she walked through the living room.
“How are you …?” Jill asked.
“I decided to be a Matron of Honor,” Valerie said. “You asked me a long time ago and …”
“You didn’t want to do it,” Jill said. “Turn the attention away from us, that’s what you said. Plus you were pregnant, you said.”
“I didn’t realize how much fun it was,” Valerie said with a sweet smile.
Jill and Honey moved toward the door while Sandy stood in the middle of the room.
“But … the list!” Sandy said.
“It’s all finished,” Tanesha said with a smile. She started toward the door.
“Champagne?” the woman they’d called “Athena” asked. She was draped in peach silk and wore modern heels.
“Aren’t you …?” Sandy asked.
“Athena,” she said with a smile. “Yes.”
“So you’re a Matron of Honor, too?” Sandy asked.
“Not a chance,” Athena said. “I’d never get in the way of a Matron of Honor.”
She smiled at Sandy and walked to the door. After a few moments, Sandy was standing in the middle of the Castle living room.
“But …” Sandy said.
A white limousine pulled up to the side door of the Castle. The door opened.
“Are you coming?” Jill yelled.
Sandy shook herself and ran to the limousine. She hopped into the back.
“This doesn’t bother you?” Sandy asked Jill.
“It’s hard to let go,” Jill said with a nod. “But …”
“Best not to get in the way of a Matron of Honor,” Honey said.
Sandy looked at Honey, and Honey began to laugh.
“You think everything is really done?” Sandy asked. “Our clothes and the kids and our make-up and flowers and …”
“I promise,” Tanesha said. “Everything is done.”
“It’s time for you to simply enjoy your wedding,” Heather said.
“But …” Sandy said and then stopped. “Oh hell, I can’t even remember what was on that list.”
The other women laughed. They drove to the Brown Palace where Heather and Tanesha had booked a suite for the women to get ready. All of their clothing was waiting for them as well as a team of hair stylists and makeup helpers. Seeing that everything was taken care of, Sandy couldn’t help but grin.
“I think I will have some champagne,” Sandy said.
“Good choice,” Athena said.
She winked at Sandy and for the first time, Sandy let herself be excited for the wedding.
“Ladies!” Sandy held up her glass to Jill and Honey. “To the best Matrons of Honor a girl could ask for.”
“To the Matrons of Honor!” Jill and Honey repeated.
They took a sip of champagne and cheered. Heather, Tanesha, and Valerie laughed.
“Time to get ready,” Sandy’s hair assistant said. “Sandy?”
They started getting ready for their formal wedding in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Sunday afternoon — 2:00 p.m.
Paddie looked at Katy, and she smiled. Katy felt so beautiful in her “just like Mommy” dress that exactly matched Jill’s dress. Paddie wore a black tux with a wide blue cummerbund and his shiny sword at his side. No fake sword for Paddie today. No one even bother to suggest it. Paddie looked every bit a knight with Katy as his queen. There were so many people in the procession that they thought Paddie and Katy were a wonderful start to the parade.
Paddie’s mother, Julie, gave them a little push on the back to get them started. Like Ivan had taught them, Paddie held out his elbow and Katy lay her hand on top of it. They stood up straight and started toward the alter. The organ played the wedding song that everyone knew but no one knew the name. They got to the front and turned around.
With their turn, Sam Lipson started down the aisle with Honey. The church aisle was too narrow for Honey to get down it in her wheel chair. They’d agreed that Sam would carry all ninety pounds of Honey down the aisle. Unbeknownst to Honey, MJ’s team was helping. Sam lifted Honey in to his arms. His kiss on her cheek was the symbol for the team to get to work. The aisle was lined with burly men and a few women. Sam passed Honey to Trece, the big body builder. Surprised, Honey began to laugh. He kissed her cheek, passed her to Matthew Mac Clengahan, and stepped aside. Matthew kissed Honey’s other cheek and passed her to Joseph Walter. Joseph kissed Honey’s cheek and passed her to Royce Tubman. He kissed Honey’s cheek and passed her to the one they called White Boy. Another kiss on Honey’s cheek and she wound up in Zack Jakkman’s arms. Always ornery, he kissed Honey’s forehead and passed her to Leena Carmichael. Leena kissed her cheek and gave her to Vince Hutchins near the front of the chapel.
Vince paused for a moment before turning to MJ. He set Honey into MJ’s arms and then kissed her cheek.
“Who brings this woman to this marriage?” the priest asked.
“I do,” Sam said from the back of the chapel. “Her father.”
“And her mother,” Tiffanie called out from the mothers pew.
“We do!” MJ’s team called in unison.
The priest laughed. MJ’s partner Margaret wheeled Honey’s chair to the front and MJ set Honey down. The team slipped back into the crowd as Jill and her father, Perses, started down the aisle. They walked slowly but with purpose. They had to get this wedding started before they ran out of time.
“Who brings this woman to this marriage?” the priest asked.
“Her mother and I do,” Perses said.
He was so happy to be there that he forgot to temper his voice. His work rang out with the power and purpose of the Titans. The sound rose up to the ornate chapel roof and shook the stain glass. The priest shot a worried look to the structure before nodding that everything was on track. Embarrassed, Perses brushed Jill’s cheek with a kiss and went to his seat. Jacob stepped beside MJ.
Sandy and Seth started down the aisle. Just an hour ago, Sandy had fit into her mother, Andy’s, wedding dress for the first time. She was pretty sure it had some magical component to making the dress work. Sandy didn’t care. They’d agreed that it would be too weird for Seth to wear the tux he’d gotten to marry Andy, so he wore his usual black tux.
They got half-way down the aisle before both Sandy and Seth were crying. Once at the front, Seth gave Sandy a quick stabilizing hug.
“Who brings this woman to this marriage?” the priest asked.
“Her father,” Seth said. “Me. Her mother is here in spirit.”
The priest nodded and Seth went to sit next to Ava. Aden stepped next to Jacob.
The priest opened his mouth and …
Somehow, the three couples were standing in the entryway. People were filing out of the church.
“Do you remember any of that?” Jill whispered to Sandy.
Sandy shook her head. She knelt down the Honey.
“Do you remember what just happened?” Sandy asked Honey.
Honey shook her head.
“Lucky we have a videographer,” Honey said.
Jill gave Honey a worried nod. Honey’s mother, Tiffanie, came to greet Honey.
“That was the most beautiful ceremony,” Tiffanie said.
“Just beautiful,” Anjelica, Jill’s mother, said.
Sandy noticed that Seth and Perses were standing together in the entryway. She could tell by the odd look on Perses face that something had happened during the ceremony. Better at hiding his emotions, Seth looked like his usual self. But when his eyes flicked to Perses, she knew something had gone on. She was about to walk over to him when Maresol, Seth’s housekeeper and friend, was standing in front of her with Sandy’s grandfather, Bernie.
“You look so beautiful,” Maresol said. “Happy.”
“Ebullient,” Bernie said and kissed her cheek.
Maresol smiled to Bernie and they moved away.
“Did you see …?” Sandy whispered.
Jill and Honey nodded. They greeted Tanesha’s mother, Yvonne, and her father, Rodney.
“Where’s Heather?” Honey asked low tone as Blane came out of the church with Mack and Wyn. “That Athena.”
“Tanesha’s gone too,” Jill said.
“We’ll have to watch the video,” Jill said with a nod.
“I don’t care,” Sandy said. “We look beautiful. We’ve had a wonderful day. And we’re now married in the church.”
“That’s all I wanted,” Honey said with a smile.
“Time for the reception,” Jacob said. “Shall we?”
Jacob held his arm out like Paddie had. Jill put her arm onto his and they left the church. Inside the limousine, Jill tried one more time.
“Do you remember the ceremony?” Jill asked.
“Every moment,” Jacob said.
“Really?” Jill asked.
“You didn’t,” Jacob asked. He scowled. “Should I be offended?”
Shaking her head, Jill laughed. Sandy and Aden got in the limousine.
“Jill doesn’t remember the ceremony,” Jacob said. “Do you think I should be offended?”
“Sandy doesn’t remember it either,” Aden said. In a joking tone, he added, “I guess we don’t cut it.”
“Cut what?” MJ asked as he leaned in with Honey in his arms.
“The women don’t remember the ceremony,” Jacob said.
MJ looked at Honey and she nodded.
“There was something …” MJ said. He looked off in the near distance. “Nope, just purely wonderful.”
“Lucky we got a videographer,” Jill said with a laugh.
“Can I interest anyone in champagne?” Jacob asked.
He pour sparkling cider for Aden and Honey and champagne for the rest. They held up their glasses and MJ noticed that Honey’s top had a tear in it.
“What happened to your dress?” MJ asked Honey.
At the same time, Jill realized her dress was also dirty. Sandy’s bottom hem was black with grime and her heels were broken.
“What is going on?” Jacob asked.
“Let’s just have our champagne,” Sandy said. “Thank God that we’re here together, now.”
They clinked glasses and took a sip of their drinks.
“Do you know …?” Jacob asked.
Sandy shook her head.
“I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough,” MJ said.
“I hope so,” Jill said under her breath.
Sandy and Honey nodded. The limousine pulled up in front of the Castle. Unwilling to give up her wedding reception, Sandy forced herself to be cheerful. Everyone else seemed to have made the same decision because the tone in the limousine went from tense to happy.
They fell out of the limousine and went into the Castle. Delphie greeted them cheerfully at the door. After they passed, Delphie sent a worried look after them.
“Something happened, didn’t it?” Seth asked as he walked through the door.
“I’m not sure what,” Delphie said. “It’s like the memory has been erased from time.”
Nodding, they went inside to enjoy the party.
Sunday evening — 8:15 p.m.
“Are you going to tell us what happened?” Jeraine asked Tanesha. His eyes flicked to Heather. “I covered for you, but damn, what the hell?”
They were standing in the Castle driveway. The wedding couples had just left for their big night in the swanky hotel downtown. Most of the little kids were asleep. Katy and Paddie were still awake, but only because they had been promised they could be there when Katy’s parents left. Sam was escorting them to bed.
“Uh,” Tanesha said with a scowl.
In the near past, she would have shaken her head, shrugged, and walked away. He didn’t need to know her business after all. Since they were trying to have something that looked like a marriage, she paused.
“Don’t you dare run off,” Jeraine said between his teeth. “I fucking hate that.”
She raised her hands and nodded. She did, in fact, know that he hated this behavior of hers. Knowing that had always made it even more tempting to do. She looked at him, and then noticed that Blane, Delphie, and Seth were watching her with interest.
“Uh …” Tanesha stalled for time.
“The truth is that we simply cannot tell you this tale …” Athena broke into the conversation.
“Why not?” Jeraine asked.
“Who are you?” Seth asked.
“Athena, you know, popped out of Zeus’s head?” she asked. “Goddess? Wisdom? Warfare?”
“And young man, let me finish,” Athena said. “I’m a lot older than you and speak a bit more slowly.”
“We can tell you what happened, but it won’t make any sense to you,” Heather interrupted.
“Unless you know a few things first,” Athena said.
Heather and Tanesha nodded.
“Where’s a fairy when you need one?” Sissy asked with a grin.
Abi walked toward them from the backyard.
“When did you get here?” Tanesha asked.
“Just now,” Abi said. “Did someone call a fairy?”
“You’re not a fairy,” Jeraine said.
“No, but I can help,” Abi said. “I know what Sissy is asking for.”
“Let’s go inside,” Delphie said. “All of this will go down better with a cup of tea.”
They shuffled into the main living room. Blane built a fire while Delphie and Heather made the tea. After a few moments, they were assembled in the living room.
“The first thing that happened,” Athena started.
“Let me show you,” Abi said. “Find a seat.”
She waited until everyone was sitting down and had their tea. She opened her hand and the wedding appeared in a small ball in her hand. She blew on the ball and it grew until they were sitting on the edge of the action.
“Before we start that …” Athena said. “We must first talk about …”
“Rachel,” Heather said. “It’s really Rachel.”
“Come again?” Seth asked. “How did my year old granddaughter become responsible for all …”
He waved his hand in their direction.
“Of this,” Seth said.
“It’s complicated,” Heather said.
Seth waved his hand at the image of the wedding in front of them.
“Show us,” Seth said. He crossed his arms and scowled that intense O’Malley stare. Even the goddesses grimaced. “Now.”
“I bet I know what it is!” Noelle said.
She ran out from the stairwell where she’d been hiding just out of sight with Ivy, Nash, and Teddy. The children peeked around the corner.
“This is about Cleo,” Noelle said with a nod. “Right?”
Tanesha gave Noelle a slight nod.
“What?” Delphie asked at the same time Sam said, “The cat?”
The other adults just looked confused.
“Show us,” Seth said again.
“I’ll just tell you, Grampa Seth,” Noelle said. “You know how much Rachel loves Cleo, right?”
Seth nodded. Rachel often brought the cat with her when she came to visit Seth. He also knew that when Rachel was a preemie, the cat had never left her side. Her purring and warmth helped Rachel grow into the adorable little girl she was now.
“Where did Cleo come from?” Athena asked.
“I gave her to Sandy,” Heather said. “She’s a rescue.”
The adults nodded as if Heather had said something significant.
“She’s just a cat?” Athena pointedly asked Heather.
“No,” Delphie said at the same time Heather said, “Sure.”
Delphie shook her head and gave Heather a strong look.
“Okay, okay,” Heather laughed. “Don’t turn your Oracle voodoo on me.”
“May I see this cat?” Athena asked.
Teddy set the black and white cat on the floor. She walked over to Athena and sat down. Athena laughed.
“I’ve wondered what had happened to you,” Athena said.
Cleo licked a paw in response.
“Please do go on,” Athena said to Noelle.
“Rachel has been going to school for the last month or so,” Noelle said.
“Since we started the new term,” Teddy said.
“She’s been doing really well, but sometimes she gets scared,” Noelle said. “She’s smaller than the other kids. I mean, not smaller than Maggie, but she doesn’t have Maggie’s charm.”
“There’s a bigger kid in her class that isn’t very nice to Rachel,” Nash said.
“Calls her a ‘kike’ behind the teacher’s back,” Teddy said. The adult’s scowled. “We don’t know what that means.”
“It’s a cruel name for a Jewish person,” Seth said.
“But Rachel’s not Jewish!” Ivy said.
“Her great-grandfather is,” Seth said. “My mother was. It’s a weird bloodline thing.”
“Oh, sorry,” Teddy said. “I didn’t mean to say a bad word.”
“Rachel isn’t a great talker,” Ivy said. “So she just freezes up.”
“What does this have to do with what happened today?” Sam asked.
“Rachel’s been taking Cleo with her to school,” Noelle said. “Katy made it happen.”
“It’s kind of a secret,” Nash said.
“Not among us, you know,” Ivy said.
“Just grownups,” Noelle said. “We just did it so that Rachel was okay in her class. With Cleo there, Rachel’s really confident and happy.”
“She’s doing better at school,” Nash said.
“Rachel brought Cleo to the wedding because she’s scared about Mom and Dad going away,” Noelle said.
“There was a cat in the church?” Seth asked.
“Nobody could see her,” Nash said. “Not even us.”
“We didn’t know she was there,” Teddy said. “Or at least I didn’t know she was there. Did you?”
Nash shook his head as did Ivy. Noelle looked away rather than answer.
“So we have a chapel with a powerful Titan and a couple Goddesses in the audience,” Seth said. “A sword of power and a magical cat and an Oracle plus her protégé. Anything else?”
Noelle, Nash, Teddy, and Ivy shook their heads in unison.
“Now will you tell us what happened?” Blane asked.
“Of course,” Heather said.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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