Authors: Teal Wingate
“I don’t want to move on. I want you.”
“But don’t you get it?” her voice took on a hysterical note. “Don’t you get it? Even though he threw me away, I still want him. I dream about him Trey. I remember how his voice sounds. I bought a bottle of men’s cologne I couldn’t afford just because it smells like him. How sick is that? I hardly knew him. But I feel things for him that aren’t just physical. Things that won’t go away, no matter how much I want them to. Do you think you can love and hate somebody at the same time?”
“Sunny, I think you’re just obsessed with a memory.”
She shook her head. “Move on Trey. Let me grieve for what I’ve lost. Give Trinity a chance.”
“Trinity?” he scoffed. “What would I want with that little freak?”
“She’s a really good person Trey. And she’s pretty.”
“Sunny, she’s got blue hair and a big black hoop through her eyebrow.”
“You’re a snob. She’s just Bohemian.”
“Sunny she’s a freak. No man wants a woman who curses like a sailor and probably has to register at the local health department once a month to report on her sex partners.”
“You’d be surprised at what some men want,” the woman in question said sarcastically from behind them. “And you’re wrong about the health department too. I haven’t had a social disease in at least a year or two.” She turned to walk off.
“Trinity wait!” Sunny called. She tried to run after her friend. Trey stopped her.
“Let her go,” he said.
“Her feelings are probably hurt. I need to explain.”
need to apologize.
need to explain,” Trey said. His eyes looked troubled.
“I just don’t understand? Why would you say those things about her? She’s never done one thing to make you hate her so much.”
Trey rocked back on the heels of his boots. He grabbed the back of his neck with an impatient hand and rubbed. “I don’t hate her.”
“You give a pretty good imitation of it.”
“She just gets under my skin, is all.”
“Under your skin?”
“I want her Sunny. Is that plain enough for you? I think she’s just about the hottest woman I’ve ever seen. And she’s totally off-limits for a guy like me.”
“But I’m not?”
“You’re not. You’re everything I
be looking for in a wife.”
“You make me sound about as appealing as soggy white bread. So all that stuff you just said to me was a line? I thought I knew you Trey, but apparently I have no clue who you really are.”
“None of it was a line. You
beautiful. You are all the things I said you are. You’d make me the perfect wife. And I’d have to be dead not to be attracted to you.”
“But you’ve got your motor revved for the chick with the blue hair and the eyebrow hoop?”
“Yeah,” he admitted it with a very red face. “I guess I do.”
“You know I’m scarred for life over this, right?” she said with a perfectly straight face.
Trey was worried for a moment. Then he saw a mischievous smile settle on her lips. He sighed in relief.
“Shut up, Sunny. This isn’t even a bump in the road for you. We both know it. You said yourself you never felt anything but friendship for me.”
“Yeah, but now I’ve been dumped twice. That takes a toll on a girl.”
“You’re sure the other guy walked?”
“He made it crystal clear. As did his fiancée
“You better go after Trinity.” She tilted her head towards the café. “Maybe if you grovel enough, she’ll forgive you. I think she likes you.”
Trey straightened to his full height. His face brightened. “Really?”
“I’m pretty sure.”
“Sunny, I’m sorry.”
“No, I mean it. I’m sorry. I just thought you’d be so much easier to fit into my life. I mean, can you really see Trinity ever joining the Sheriffs’ Wives Association?”
Sunny smiled. “Maybe it’s not about who fits.”
“You’re right. I’ve been an idiot,” he said, looking over her head to the café. “She’s on the deck.”
Sunny gave him a little push. “Go grovel.”
“You sure you’re Ok?”
“I’m fine. I do love you, Trey.”
“Like a brother?” He grinned.
“Yeah, just like that.”
“You know it’s crazy, but I think that’s how I feel about you too. Like you’re my sister. You Ok with that?”
“More than Ok.”
“Great, wish me luck with Trinity.”
“I do, Trey. I wish you all the luck in the world.”
He trotted off towards the café. He never looked back. She watched as he approached Trinity.
“At least one of us should get the
‘happily ever after’
,” she whispered after him.
Three Years Later
don’t care what that florist bitch told you. I
Plumeria,” Leanne Simmons snarled as she twitched the long train of her Vera Wang wedding dress over her arm
“I understand that Ma’am. But there’s just none available. The flight that was supposed to be bringing it in is delayed at LAX,” Consuelo answered. Her worried voice was heavy with an accent.
“Listen to me. I’m going to say it real slow so you can understand. I’m getting married in two hours. And I
be carrying a Plumeria bouquet. I swear to God, if I’m not carrying that bouquet down the aisle, I’ll make sure you and all your aunts and cousins and whoever the hell else you claim are kin will all be deported before the sun goes down.
“You can’t do that, Miss Simmons. I’m an American citizen.”
“If I don’t get that bouquet, you’ll just see what I can do.” Leanne dismissed the housekeeper with a flick of her fingers. She turned back to her soon to be mother-in-law.
“Do you think the crown is too much?” she asked. She looked at herself in the huge-gilt framed mirror leaning against the wall of the bedroom. It’d taken Leanne five long years to get here. She didn’t want to screw it up.
“No, dear, I told you when we bought it. A woman should always wear something Tiffany on her wedding day. I think it’s very tasteful and a perfect foil for the medieval lace veil.”
That’s what Helene McIntyre said. But it was not what she truly thought. She turned her critical eyes to the social climber her son had decided to marry. It wasn’t a love match. JD wasn’t capable of that. And he wasn’t being coerced. No one was adept at intimidating him. She knew. She’d tried it herself when he was a child. Skilled though she was, she’d failed.
So Helene wondered, in a detached kind of way, why her eldest son had chosen this woman to marry. Leanne was stunning, in a purely superficial way. But there was clearly no breeding there. Helene gave the marriage six months at the outside. There must be a huge business deal involved. That’s the only thing she could think of that would lure cold-blooded JD into marrying.
“Darling, do tell me how you managed to corral JD. I thought the boy would never get married,” Helene said in a deceptively kind voice. She took another sip from her champagne glass. She eyed Leanne over the crystal rim.
The bride smirked. She didn’t know anyone else on the planet who would have the temerity to call JD McIntyre a boy. Half the time, she wondered if he was even human. His icy disregard, not only for her, but for everyone frightened her at times. But then she thought about all his lovely money. And that he was the unacknowledged sovereign of the Social Register in Dallas. It didn’t hurt that their wedding was being covered in the media as if he was a British prince.
She still couldn’t believe he’d finally agreed to her bargain. And that’s really what this marriage was, a business contract. There were some charity things he wanted to do in her name. She still didn’t understand that part. Why would anybody give millions to orphanages, drug rehabs, and other nonprofits and let somebody else take the credit? It boggled the mind. And as for sex, she had agreed in the pre-nup that he would do what he wanted. She’d look the other way. There would never be any children. Neither one of them wanted any. But again, no kids was a point specified in the pre-nup. To be sure she didn’t saddle him with a bastard, he’d insisted she get a long-term birth control implant. She’d opted for sterilization instead. That way she’d never lose her wealth. She liked sex. And she wasn’t going to go without. Every kind of birth control had some margin of error. Getting your tubes tied was permanent.
She didn’t want to be pregnant. But she’d have liked to be in his bed again. He’d been the best lover, she’d ever had. And that was saying a whole lot considering her promiscuity. But JD hadn’t slept with her since that disastrous night on the Gulf Coast five years ago. She’d seriously overplayed her hand that time. And she’d also underestimated his self-control. Even last Christmas Eve, when it was freezing, and she’d shown up naked, under a fur coat, at his door. All she’d gotten was the threat of the police and a head cold.
“Darling? Did you hear my question?” There was a sharp edge to Helene’s voice. She didn’t like not getting an immediate answer.
“I beg your pardon?” Leanne blinked.
“I was just wondering why you and JD finally decided to tie the knot? I was under the impression you had parted a few years back on bitter terms.”
Leanne slapped a sickly sweet smile on her crimson lips. “Now why would you think such a thing, Helene?” She fluffed at the enormous poufy skirt of the gown. “We just needed a breather. You know how passionate affairs work. The fire burns hot and bright. If the couple isn’t careful, they can be left with cinders instead of true love.”
Helene arched one penciled eyebrow. “And that’s what you and JD have, true love?”
“Of course, how could you ever think anything else? I would give him my soul.”
“I imagine you would,” Helene said in a voice as dry as the Mojave Desert. She sipped at her glass. The older woman was sure Leanne would give JD her soul and anything else he wanted in exchange for money. “Consuelo?” she called.
The heavyset Hispanic woman bustled into the room. “Si, Mrs. Helene?”
“Take this, will you?” Helene said. She handed the housekeeper her cell phone. “It ruins the lines of my silk jacket. I shouldn’t be getting any calls. But if I do, just tell them I’m busy and I’ll get back to them when I can. Can you do that?”
Two hours later, a long line of black limos pulled up to the biggest church in Dallas. One by one their doors were opened by stern-faced servants. The last vehicle in the line rolled up to the curb with a great deal of pompous ceremony. Leanne Simmons stepped out into the spring sunshine. She turned in a complete circle so that everyone who had gathered to see the wedding of the year got a good look at the bride. Her diamond tiara seemed to catch fire in the brilliant sunlight. The beading on her gown glittered with her every movement. Her veil was a museum piece. The spider-web priceless lace floated about her like a gossamer shield.
With a dramatic dip of her head, Leanne acknowledged the crowds lining the sidewalks. She heard the whir and click of innumerable cameras. Professional photographers from every fashion magazine, celebrity tabloid, and society scandal sheet elbowed each other in their haste to get their ‘
. She smiled. She’d done it. She’d bagged the biggest matrimonial prize in Dallas history. With no small amount of malice, she wondered how her sorority sisters felt now? They’d have to sing their chapter’s wedding blessing to her at the reception. They’d have to curtsy to her when they came through the receiving line. Life was sweet. And everything, everything she’d been forced to do had been worth it. She would be Mrs. John Deacon McIntyre, even if the man detested her.
In the cool interior of the church, Helene took pride of place in the mother-of-the-groom pew. She sat by herself because Sam, her other son, was JD’s best man. And her wretched, disobedient daughter still had not confessed her sin and returned home.
Candles flickered. The air was heavy with the scent of Plumeria. The church was completely filled. Even with a steward checking invitations on the steps, the interior of the holy place was standing room only. Somehow Consuelo had managed to procure a spot halfway up one side of the church. The woman stood under a lavish stained-glass window. She carried not only her purse, but an emergency bag of necessities that Helene often required. Her employer’s cell phone was in the housekeeper’s hand. She had muted it, of course. But she kept a very close eye on the thing. Consuelo could not afford to fail in any of her duties. Jobs that paid as well as hers, were very hard to come by. And after the Plumeria scare, Consuelo was taking no chances.
The string orchestra began the majestic and sedate Wedding March. Leanne was nothing if not traditional in her wedding musical choices. Consuelo watched as everyone rose to their feet when the beautiful blonde bride glided down the center aisle on her father’s arm.
Sea Glass Café
Billy Murphy was very proud of himself. He’d earned his pre-school diploma. That very morning, he’d stood on the stage of the elementary school’s cafeteria in his blue graduation gown and his funny flat hat. He’d had a whole bunch of people cheer for him when he’d gone up to the principal when his name was called. Everybody had been there. Sunny had driven him to school in their new car. Even Trey had arrived in his sheriff’s cruiser. Its lights had been flashing in honor of Billy’s great achievement.
After the ceremony, everybody had come back to Sea Glass Café for a celebration. Harry made special hamburgers for them all. Maude Evelyn performed a dance all by herself, one she’d made up just for him. Trinity even let him feel her tummy. She and Trey were going to have a baby real, real soon. Billy got to feel the baby kick and jump in Trinity’s big belly. But best of all, Sunny gave him his own sea glass jar.
He and Sunny went down to the beach all the time looking for sea glass. Some days they didn’t find anything. But some days they found lots of pieces of the smooth pretty glass.
He’d been allowed to play with Sunny’s collection ever since he was a baby. Almost every day he took the pretty glass rocks out and lined them up on the living room floor. There were so many, he could make a long line all the way into Sunny’s bedroom. That’s how he’d found the little card and the picture yesterday.
He knew her dresser was her own private space. Just like his toy box was his own private space. But nobody was around, and he just couldn’t help peeking into the bottom drawer. Way in the back, under Sunny’s swimsuit he found a really old letter, a black and white picture, and that funny little card. The letter wasn’t too interesting. But the card and the picture were pretty awesome.
Billy knew his phone number. Sunny had made sure he could say it before he started pre-school. So he knew that was somebody’s phone number on the little card. He couldn’t read everything on the card. But he knew his letters and he knew he recognized a J and a D.
The big man in the picture looked scary. He was wearing some kind of weird clothes. A black coat, a white shirt, and a funny black stumpy tie. Billy had never seen anybody dressed like that. Not even on Sundays when Sunny dragged him to church.
Billy wondered if the man might be his daddy. He’d asked Sunny about his daddy, a lot. She said she’d tell him when he got older. Wasn’t five old enough? So, even though he knew it was stealing. And stealing was one of the baddest things a person could do. Billy hid the card and the picture in his bookbag.
He’d just finished his special pre-school graduation hamburger when he remembered it. The grownups were all laughing and talking. Nobody noticed when he snuck off to get his stolen loot. He hoisted the bookbag up over his shoulders. He started towards the door.
“Master William, where are you off too?” Maude Evelyn’s question made everybody at the table turn to look at him.
He should have watched out for her. Maude Evelyn might be real, real old, but she had eyes like a hawk.
“I’m just going to put up my bookbag up,” he mumbled. Now he was a liar as well as a thief. His sins just kept piling up.
“Come right back, sweetie. Harry made you a cake,” Sunny said with a loving smile.
That only made Billy’s conscience hurt more. But he had made a plan. And he was going to do it, no matter what. He was going to call the number on that little card. He was going to ask that man in the funny black coat if he was Billy’s daddy. It would only take a minute. He’d do it and be back before any of the grown ups started wondering about him.
Trotting down the shell-lined path behind the restaurant, he made it to the porch fast. He ran into the living room. He plopped down on the white slipcover of the saggy sofa. He looked through the living room’s big window. Nobody had followed him. Billy dug way down in the bookbag. He unzipped the secret compartment. He pinched the end of the card and pulled it out. He laid the smudged thing on the white-painted end table. His tongue stuck out of one corner of his mouth as he carefully dialed the numbers on their old telephone. Sunny had taught him how to dial 911 a long time ago. It was easy. This number was longer, so it was harder. Especially with their weird old phone. Sunny didn’t think it was weird, she said it was
The phone started ringing. It rang and rang and rang.
Consuelo jumped when she felt the strong vibration in her hand. She’d gotten distracted by the beauty of the wedding. Her mind had begun to wander. Now she was scrambling to look at the caller ID. Mrs. McIntyre had given her very specific instructions. If somebody called, she was to answer the phone and tell them her employer would call them back.
What should she do? The church was so crowded, there was no way she could exit it without creating a scene. But Mrs. McIntyre would be furious if the housekeeper didn’t answer the phone and relay her prescribed message.
Consuelo turned to the stained-glass window. She tried to shield what she was doing from the guests near her. She hunched over. She cupped the phone in two hands and pressed what she thought was a mute button. Suddenly the quiet sanctuary was filled with the blaring of a small child’s voice.