A Wedding For Blueville, Part Two

Ben and I walked into the main wedding hall that at one time must have been the ballroom of The Watch. It was certainly impressive. The entire room was lit with candles, there was no artificial light anywhere from light bulbs or spot lights. Mark and Max had decided they wanted an “enchanted glade” theme and from what I saw of the forest that had been recreated inside, they’d managed it very well. Trees shot up out of their temporary pots all over the room. Glass globes hung from branches with candles in them and white fabric had been wrapped around all the trees, designating the rows.

There was no seating, they asked everyone to stand with them and it was marvelous.

Ben and I maneuvered our way through the crowd and took our places next to Grandmama Murphy and Ben’s “Aunt” Elise. We murmured our greetings just before the quartet started playing. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to a wedding that started on time.

We looked back at the doors and watched Mark make his entrance, dressed in a midnight blue tux and escorting his mother. She was beaming. I smiled and there may have been a tear that escaped. His father and sister followed and then it was Max’s turn. Max didn’t have much in the way of family, so he walked with his sister, who had to take his handkerchief half way through because she couldn’t stop sniffling. I started crying openly then and Ben handed me his handkerchief and wrapped an arm around my shoulders.

The vows they made were short and simple, no “obey” line or long sappy love confirmations. In short, their vows personified their relationship. It was incredibly sweet and when it was over, Mark dipped Max for the kiss and made us all laugh. We joined them outside as they laughed and rand down the aisle together, smiles so wide and pure.

The wedding reception was being held in the same hall, so we all waited outside while the crew set up the tables and added more candles. They had opened up the doors at the back and sides of the hall and the quartet that played for the wedding, was now playing to sooth us as we waited. Ben and I ended up wandering over to the happy couple to give them our well wishes.

“Marlowe!” Max yelled as he rushed me and picked me up in a bear hug. “I’m so happy you came! Did you bring your Ben?”

I laughed. “Yes I brought him! So now put me down!”

Mark was off to the side with Ben, laughing at us. I stuck my tongue out at them as Max put me down and we stood together.

“Oh look at them, will you? Such a pair!” Max said with a grin as he looked at his husband with love that I could feel radiate off of him.

“I think we got the best of the lot.” I said, wrapping an arm around his waist. “They’ll never leave us, even when we tell them we’re going to Tahiti together!”

I laughed and then squealed when Ben stormed over and scooped me up. “You are not, I’ve not yet had my fill of you!”

Max was doubled over with laughter until he coughed, which made Mark run over and thump him on the back. Just as Max got himself under control, the gong rang out for dinner. We walked back up to the hall while Mark and Max walked down to the lake with the photographer to do the wedding shots.  We entered the hall and tables had been set up with a soft cream-colored linen table cloths with a deep green runner. Glass vases filled with pussy willows, cat tails and bluebells decorated every table. I’ll admit, I didn’t think it would look that amazing.

They must have given the okay, because the wedding dinner was served as soon as all the guests were seated. Ben and I had been placed near the wedding party table, so we got a good view of everything as it was being served. They had three different choices; one vegetarian tofu thing (which looked disgusting. I’ll never figure vegetarians out), one for the fish lovers and another for the meat lovers. Since Ben and I were in the mood for surf and turf, we chose the meat and fish choices, then cut our dinners in half and passed over the half we weren’t going to eat. When Grandmama Murphy saw what we did, she started laughing.

“What?” I said as I started at her. She was becoming red-faced from her laughter.

“Well Ben, it seems you’ve finally found someone who dines the way you do.”

Ben grinned. “Yes and I didn’t even have to ask her. She’d the one who suggested we do it on our fourth date.”

I melted a little. Who doesn’t want their guy to remember their dates that well?

Grandmama Murphy shook her head. “Don’t you let this one go, Benjamin.”

It sounded vaguely like a threat, but Ben laughed. “That’ll be up to the both of us, Grandmama. Not just me.”

She gave a curt nod and then began eating her dinner. We ate with the soft music of the quartet playing. The only interruption was when the newlyweds came in to the hall. We gave them a standing ovation.

“Oh, sit down.” Max said, getting a laugh out of the room. He and Mark walked hand in hand to the wedding table and took their places.

The rest of the evening went by pretty quickly. The dancing started soon after dinner and the newly weds danced to “This Magic Moment” by Billy Joel Royal. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. It was marvelous. There was more dancing, a cutting of the cake (which was red velvet and yellow cake in alternating tiers) and what would have been the traditional bouquet toss. Instead of flowers, both Max and Mark tossed their boutineers. I know for a fact that rat Max was aiming for me, because I saw him looking for me before he tossed his. I ended up with one anyway. As I moved out-of-the-way for Max, Mark hit me in the head with his boutineer and the crowed got a good laugh. They got an even bigger one as Max asked when the date was and I gave him the finger.

Ben came up behind me as we mingled shortly after.

“Ready to go soon?” He said as he kissed the top of my head.

“Yes. I love weddings, but I’m exhausted.” I replied as I leaned back in to him.

“Let’s go bid the happy couple a farewell then. They’re leaving tonight for Bora Bora.” He said as we made our way over to the happy couple.

I couldn’t think of a response, so I settled for calling Max a jackass and wishing him well as we hugged hard.

“You two, I love you both. Take care of each other.” I kissed Mark then and when Max protested, Ben kissed him.

Mark and I doubled over in laughter at Max’s fish impersonation.

“Oh Max, you left yourself wide open for that one.” I said with a grin as I reclaimed Ben and slid my arm around his waist.

Max eyed me, then his husband. “I’ll keep what I was going to say to myself. I don’t want to sleep alone when we get to Bora Bora.”

“Smart move.” I said and we bid them farewell.

Making our way home, in the Thunderbird, Ben reached over and picked up my hand, kissing it softly.

“May I stay the night?” He asked me.

“Do you need an answer?”

“Yes.” He said simply.

“Then yes, you can stay. I want you to stay.”

“Good.”

I had to laugh. It was filled with relief, like he was honestly worried that I was going to say no.

We got home and climbed out of the car after Ben parked. We went in together and Ben stayed.

-Marlowe

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Missing!

So I woke up this morning to Winston freaking out and someone pounding on my door. I got up and shuffled my way to the door, opening and sticking my head out side. It was Mark. He was frantic.

Max was missing.

I’d be frantic too if Ben was missing, so I tossed some clothes on and put my hair up into a ponytail. We drove out to where the Business Park had located itself last Friday, near Pinks Pumpkin Farm, but it wasn’t there.

I should probably explain the Blueville Business Park further before getting back into what happened.

You see, the Business Park moves itself every Friday. Normally, it’s to one of seven or eight different locations. This time however, the Park had managed to move itself to an entirely new location and everyone was out looking for it because their loved ones hadn’t come home.

There are other things that happen in the Park too. Like people disappearing for years at a time and coming back looking exactly the same as when they left. Jack Higgins is one of those people. He’d been missing for nearly 40 years before coming back. By then, his children were grown and his wife had died. That was a sad day when he showed up at Miss Maggie’s.  I thought she was going to have a heart attack when she saw him. According to her, he looked exactly the same.

So Mark and I drove around trying to find the park when Ben called and told us that he and Justine, his assistant, had found the Park. It had moved itself to just outside the campgrounds off of Green Arrow highway, south off the Blue Rabbit junction. That surprised everyone because that spot had never been one of the Park’s previous spots. That’s when we knew something was wrong.

So Mark and I drove out to Camp Street, where the Park was at and when we got there it was covered in police and local authorities. Mark panicked when he spotted all the ambulances and was out of the car before I could stop him. I parked my car on the side of the road and made my way over to Ben, who was talking with the Sheriff. Ben spotted me and started making his way over to me as well. We met and I immediately slipped my arms around his waist and buried my head into his chest.

“I’m okay, you know. It didn’t happen  to me.”

“I know. I feel better now though.”

“Really? that’s weird, so do I.”

“That’s good. I’d have been sad if you hadn’t.”

Ben tipped my head up and kissed me. “Not a chance of that, ‘Lowe.”

“Tell me what the sheriff said.” I said as I slid around to his side and we walked down the road away from the scene.

“Well, apparently someone inside the building turned everyone in to scarecrows.”

I stopped dead and looked up at him. I studied his face and found that he wasn’t joking. “How bad is it? Are they still alive?”

Ben sighed. “Some of them are, but they’ve got to call in a specialist to turn them back. Something about a Priestess.”

“Max?” I asked and I looked up at him.

Ben shook his head and rubbed a hand over his face. “They’re not sure.”

I didn’t have anything to say so I put my arms back around Ben and held on. I didn’t cry either, I didn’t think that I could. We stood like that until Mark came walking back up the road. From the slump of his shoulders I knew the news wasn’t good, but neither Ben nor I asked him anything. We just opened up our hug and tucked him in, holding on as he cried. I looked up at Ben and he nodded. As Ben slipped away to go talk to the Sheriff, I managed to walk Mark back to the car and sat him down on the hood. I didn’t care about the paint at that point.

All I knew was that my friend was hurting. I sat there with my arm around him as Mark buried his head in to the side of my neck and cried. We both rocked back and forth, until Mark started babbling the story out. He was allowed into the Park to see if Max was one of the ones they’d declared dead. He searched through every row of scarecrows until he’d gotten to the second to last row. Max was the third one in, marked with an orange X on his trouser leg. They’d checked and he was gone.

They’d just gotten married. Ben and I were at their wedding. At that moment, I was angrier than I’d ever been and I’d wanted something to be done. I looked up at Ben as he came walking back with the sheriff and he spotted the look on my face. His skin went pale and I could have sworn he’d made a sign against bad juju on his leg. I murmured to Mark that I needed to talk with the Sheriff and to stay on the car, that I’d be back in a minute. Mark was reluctant to let go, but eventually did.

I stormed over to where Ben was talking to the Sheriff and planted myself in front of both of them.

“Any news? Anything at all for Mark?” I demanded.

“Still the same. We’re still waiting for the specialist.”

“What about the dead?”

“They’ll need to be transformed back before they can be claimed. I’m sorry, Marlowe.”

“Who did it?” I asked, brushing aside the Sheriff’s apology.

“We don’t know just yet. That’s why we’re still waiting for the specialist.”

I huffed out a breath. I was angry with no place to put my anger.

“If I can talk Mark into going home and getting some rest, can we take him?”

The Sheriff nodded. “We’ll call you if we need him back here.”

“Okay.” I said as I stormed off, fully prepared to badger Mark in to going home and catching a couple of hours of sleep.

Ben caught up with me and kissed me, pulling me in for a hug after and murmured that he’d be over as soon as he wasn’t needed. Apparently, the reason why he’d been out to the Camp was to treat the dragon that lives in the woods behind cabin six or seven.  That was fresh news to me, I didn’t know Blueville had a dragon resident. I told Ben I’d see him at my place later and browbeat Mark into the car and going to my place for a shower and food. I didn’t want him to be alone.

As I’m typing this up, I’m watching Mark sleep on my couch with Winston covering his legs. Poor man. Married and widowed within two months. I can’t imagine the pain. My heart sinks thinking if it was Ben in that Park and I don’t really want to think about it anymore.

I’m going to go try to make bread. I’m terrible at it, but maybe forcing myself to think about the steps will help me keep from worrying about Ben. He’s still out there at the site and it’s been hours since we left him there with the Sheriff.

I just want him to come home.

-Marlowe

New Home, Part Two

Doctor’s appointments for my arm yesterday mean that I’m getting a late start on everything. So, where did I leave off?

Oh right. Miles waking me up the next morning from where I slept on the couch.

I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised that he already knew that Ben had gone home from my place plastered. He always was well connected, even in our hometown. The grape vine here in Blueville seemed to suit him with how fast he got his information. I honestly think that only the town newspaper would have the information faster than he does.

He woke me up with a “Good Morning, you hussy” and dangling a cup of coffee in my face.

I responded by promptly throwing up all over his new boots.

I instantly felt better and drank the coffee he provided while he cursed at me loudly from the bathroom where he was trying to get them clean.

“These were only a few hours old! How could you?”

“You didn’t show last night to help me unpack the truck. My neighbor ended up helping me until three in the morning.”

“That’s not the way I heard it from Miss Maggie down at the bakery this morning. She says that Ben, whose last name is Solt by the way, came in to drop off the ten that he owed her because you guessed his profession on the first try.”

“Mmmhmmm.. I did.”

Miles poked his head out of the bathroom and frowned at me. “I never could figure out how you could do that without freaking people out.”

“It’s a gift. Like my deal with cars and the way they respond to me.”

“Anyway. Miss Maggie managed to get out of him that he spent his Friday evening helping you move, but ended up getting toasted on a bottle of Jameson after he spilled the beans about his sister to you.”

“It’s seemed like a good idea at the time.” I said with a yawn.

Miles looked down at me with another frown on his face. “He also said you showed him your tattoo.”

I shot straight up and glared at him. “I did no such thing!”

Miles laughed. “Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.”

I thought about throwing my pillow at him, but got up off the couch instead and went to get something to drink. Miles followed me and grabbed the bucket and mop, walking back out in to the living room to clean up my vomit.

I decided to bake him a pie for doing that when I’d gotten unpacked and everything put where I wanted it in the kitchen. First though, he was going to help me finish unpacking the truck. That he was not going to get out of again.

“I was paying attention, I just don’t want to contribute to your grapevine when you already have the details.”

“But you know it’s more fun when confirm everything. Miss Maggie said that he had a smile on that she hasn’t seen in awhile.” Miles said as he stopped mopping up the mess to lean on the mop with his cheek pillowed on his hands.

I admit, I blushed with the smile I had on my face.

“I knew it, you like him. Damn I wish I had your luck. Do you know it took me three months to find someone to date in this town? You did it within your first ten minutes here. You make me sick.”

“I do not. You’re proud of me.”

“Yeah, well that’s only part of what I’m feeling.”

“Now you’re just being surly on principle.”

“Damn it, I was hoping he was gay. I really liked his ass.” Miles sat on the couch and tried to put on his best grumpy face.

The smile I was holding in bloomed with a laugh. “He does have a fine ass.”

“Oh don’t make me laugh, I’m mad at you.”

“You’re not.” I kissed his forehead and finished cleaning up the mess.

“You do realize that the reason why he hasn’t dated is because of where he’s from, right?”

I didn’t bother answering Miles right away. Instead I stewed about it while I took everything in to the kitchen. I knew where Ben was from, he told me last night. He also told me how the public around here had reacted when he moved in to the house next door and it wasn’t good. I walked back over to the door way between the kitchen and living room and leaned against the doorjamb.

“You know how much I hate that shit.”

Miles walked over and hugged me, placing his cheek on my head. “Which is one of the reasons why I love you more than my own sister.”

“I love you too, Miles.” I was about to say something about my own brothers when I heard a cough from the doorway. I poked my head around Miles to take a peek and saw Ben.

“Sorry for interrupting.”

“You’re only interrupting Miles’s yearly announcement that he heads my fan club.”

Ben looked at Miles and stuck his hands in his pockets, rocking back on his heels. “Oh yeah? When’s the next election?”

Both Miles and I laughed and separated from our hug.

“I like you even more now. Damn it why aren’t you gay?” Miles said with exasperation.

I kept laughing until I was red in the face and tears were present when I got a good look at Ben’s face. The shock that was there was hilarious. I don’t think he’d been around Miles and his honesty enough to get a full dose before. I watched Ben pull himself back together.

“Because I like your cousin’s legs.”

“I like his answer.” Miles said with a laugh.

“I do too.” I said when I’d gotten myself back together again. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the clinic today? I thought you said last night that you had a Great Dane that was going to pup soon.”

“She did this morning. They pulled me out of bed at four am and Missy delivered all nine pups, healthy and happy.”

“Aw, that’s fantastic. No problems? You were worried about that.” I said as I picked up the blankets and pillows that had fallen off the couch. Miles kept his mouth shut and hummed.

“No problems. She was great.” Ben’s lips twitched in a smile and I suddenly hated men who knew I was stalling by folding a blanket.

Miles spoke first. “Well, I should probably get going.”

“Oh no you’re not. You didn’t help yesterday like you said you would. You’re going to help today. As a matter of fact,” I paused and snatched up the keys to the truck off the kitchen counter and tossed them to Ben. “you’re going to help Ben while I shower. I need that truck emptied because I have to take it back on Monday.”

With that I left them in the living room while I retreated to my bedroom suite to shower and change. When I came out wearing fresh jeans and an Oiler’s jersey, Ben and Miles were struggling to get the armoire off the truck. I hurried out of the house to help them get it off the truck but found that they had more help coming. My neighbors from the other side were coming up the drive. We introduced ourselves and I found that they were an adorable couple. Anyway, Mark and Max helped Ben and Miles get the armoire off the truck and in to the house. I’d already picked out a spot for it so they only had to move it once, which they appreciated.

We spent the rest of the day like that, hauling boxes and things out of the truck until it was just my tool chests that remained on the truck.

“That’s it then?” Miles asked.

“No, but those stay on the truck until Monday. I have to go get the keys from the Realtor and then drop them off at my new shop.” I replied as I closed and locked up the truck.

“You’re opening up a new shop? I thought you were just going to join one of the shops in town.” Miles said.

Ben, Mark and Max looked on with interest. I sighed. I hated this part.

“I was, but when I called the other shops, they refused to work with a woman. Said they won’t spend their days listening to me bitch about how hard the job is and if I chipped a nail or not.”

All four men went silent and stared at me.

“That’s.. bullshit.” Miles whispered. I could always count on Miles to be on my side.

“Yeah I know it is, but I’m a woman in a very male dominated career. I expected that kind of welcome. So I’ll open my own. I’ve already done most of the paperwork to open it up. I just need to finish it off. By this time next week I should be open for business.”

Mark spoke up then. “Are you any good with foreign cars?”

“Like yours? I was the best my last shop had. No one wanted to work with them but me. Same with classics and refurbs.” I motioned for them to follow me inside and headed for the kitchen. I pulled out beers from the fridge and passed them around before hitching myself up on to the counter. Ben, who hadn’t said much since the topic started, propped himself next to me.

Max spoke up next, which surprised me because he hadn’t said much all day. “The Mackey twins don’t know beans about putting a care back together. They’ve trashed my Mercedes more than once and I’ve had to go to the dealership over in Clark too many times. It’ll be good to have someone here who can actually work on them. Junior doesn’t do anything with the cars he tows in to his yard. You’ll have my business. Mark’s too; he’s got a BMW.”

I laughed at the last part because his nose wrinkled up in mock disgust. Mark just rolled his eyes.”Thank you. That means a lot.” I said and I leaned over and covered his hand with mine.

Max smiled back and patted my hand before I let go. I sat back on the counter. Miles looks at his watch and freaked because he was late for a date with the same guy who he bailed on me the night before with. Mark and Max had to leave because they were going to dinner with Max’s parents. They promised to come for dinner when I got settled in as payment for giving me a hand. That left Ben and myself when I closed the door behind the guys. I turned around and he was standing in the kitchen door way, holding his beer.

“So, I hear Miss Maggie earned herself a ten this morning.”

Ben laughed. “How long did it take you to get plugged in?”

“Miles woke me with the news. That was around ten this morning.” I said as I made my way over to him, then past him in to the kitchen to find my beer.

“That’s fast. I never knew Miles had a mouth that fast.”

I did a spit take with my beer because he caught me off guard. Laughing, I wiped my mouth with a paper towel and tossed it in the bin.

“That’s Miles. Fastest mouth in the west. That man knows everything, or will, if you give him time.”

“That’s.. slightly creepy.” Ben said with a grin.

“No kidding. You get used to it though. He was always the best source of information when I was a kid, too.”

“I’ll make a note of that.” Ben said as he put down his beer and walked over to where I’d hoisted myself back up on to the counter. “So? Dinner tonight?”

“Date number two? Already?” I teased with a smile.

“If it’s too soon, I’d understand.” He said. There was all kinds of disappointment in his voice and his mouth no longer had a smile.

“Would we be going out or staying in again?” I asked.

“Out. There’s a great fish place over on Surf street that I think you’ll like.”

I thought about it for a moment. It’d been two days since I’d moved to Blueville and I’d already gotten one date, a second seemed a little unlikely. Here I was though, with a man who’d seen me sweat all day and still wanted a date that night. I was sunk.

“Okay. I’ll need to shower though.”

“Nah, you’re perfect.” He said with a smile.

Oh yeah. I could definitely be sunk over Ben.

“Okay.” I hopped down off the counter and dumped the last of my beer in the sink. We left shortly thereafter for this the fish place. I soon found out exactly how literally it was named. Yes, the place is actually called The Fish Place.

So, Winston is whining at me to get moving and my hand is killing me. I’ll leave it here for now. We both could use the break.

-Marlowe