This week's challenge, it being June and all, was wedding related. We were to include the traditional 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue'. My version is a happy occasion, for some. A little over the 1000 word limit, at 1024.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. John put on his game face and smiled at his new bride. At thirty-two years more than his fifty, she certainly fit the ‘something old’ part.
He'd met Deidre at a book fair, as he'd tried to flog his self-published book. When he'd realized she was a publisher, he'd cranked on the charm. They'd met for drinks that evening, then lunch the next weekend, where he'd alternated between promoting his latest manuscript and flattering his prey.
"You have it all," he'd said, stroking her wrinkled arm. "A famous publisher, with a huge house, and lots of friends."
"Old friends," she'd replied. "Many dying now. And a business I’ve been married to." She sighed. "I don’t want to die single and alone."
John was always one to seize an opportunity, so here he was, married, and with his second book being readied for publication. And already regretting it, ever since the minister had invited him to kiss the cold lips of his bride. She sat propped up in her chair, oxygen mask dangling below her mouth, and, he realized, leering at him. He was dreading the next step.
She leaned forward. "Let’s give this another hour then head upstairs, sweetie. I may be old but I still need to get frisky. My naturopath gave me some helpful creams, and I’ve a blue pill for you.
John suppressed a shudder. He reached over and pattered her arthritic hand. "Later. I need to dance a bit first. Maddy?"
He smiled at Deidre’s maid of honour and admin assistant. She was over thirty, but smart and sexy as hell. They’d spent a lot of time together working on his book, and more.
He'd shared his plan with her. "She won't last long. And when she goes, this will all be mine. Ours."
Maddy steered him to a dark corner of the dance floor and draped herself against him. "Let's sneak away for a quickie, Johnny. I’ve a room upstairs."
He glanced back at the table. "Not now. She’s squinting around already, wondering where I am."
"I don’t blame the bitch. I miss you so much every day, once she’s gone you’ll never be out of my sight."
Maddy was sweet, but once he was free he'd look around, for someone less needy, and younger. Something new. He smiled, and gave her butt a squeeze. "Come on, let’s get back to her."
Deidre pursed her thin lips at them. "Maddy, I feel a chill. Fetch my shawl from my room, now."
As soon as they were alone she glared at John. "Don’t think that just because I’m old I’m stupid. I see you two together. The little glances, the casual touches, all those late night so-called editing sessions. Watch it, buster!"
"Or what?" he said. "You wanted to be married, so you are. I’ll share your bed tonight, to make it official, but then I will have a separate bedroom and a separate life. Don’t worry, I’ll be at your side for your boring banquets and book launches. Or I can leave you to die alone and single."
Deidre’s voice wavered as she slumped back. "You won’t leave. You need to at least see your mediocre book published. Just be careful what you assume."
"Whatever," he said. "I’m getting another drink."
He stayed at the bar, sipping a very expensive Scotch and flirting with one of the servers. She looked to be barely twenty, but knew who he was. She put her hand against his chest, and tipped a hip into his thigh. He was about to say something clever, when somebody grabbed his arm.
"Bastard," said Maddy. "I can’t leave you for a minute and you’re trying to pick up this child?" She slapped him, turned, and headed out the door. He rubbed his face. She’d get over it.
He got back to their table just as someone was leaving, a sheaf of papers in his hand.
Deidre smiled. "Did you enjoy your drink, dear? With a side serving of drama?"
"Don’t worry about it," he said. "Who was that? He looked familiar."
"Just one of my lawyers," she said. "Some last-minute paperwork for one of my authors. I’m cutting his payments." She lifted her mask, and fitted the strap behind her head. "It’s been a long day, and I’m feeling quite short of breath. Turn on my tank for me. I think it’s time we went upstairs."
The image of Deidre naked, instead of some impressionable young waitress, was too much. John reached across the table and grasped her hands firmly in his.
"You might be just living on borrowed time, but I can’t wait. And I certainly can’t face your ugly body tonight, no matter how many drinks I have."
She tried to pull her hands free.
"Stay still, you domineering wizened old crone. You won’t die single, or alone. But you will die."
Deidre struggled for a moment, then just smiled. He watched as her lips turned blue, the light faded from her eyes, and her lids drooped. Her chest shuddered, then was still.
He dropped her cold hands, and waited. Just a few minutes and brain damage will set in.
"Is she napping?" Maddy sat down at the table, next to her boss. He reached for her hand but she pulled back.
"Yes, I think so," he said. "Too busy a day. Couldn’t even leave work aside—some lawyer was here with an author’s contract. Sounded like she was cutting the poor bastard loose."
Maddy looked delighted. "Actually, the poor bastard was you. She finally decided to amend her will to leave the firm in a trust, just in case. Not directly to you. And I'll run it for her." She nudged Deidre.
"Come on dear, time to leave the party." She leaned closer. "You look so pale. Do you need more oxygen?"
She glanced down at the tank. "The valve is flipped off!"
John lunged for the tank, but Maddy blocked him and waved her arms.
"Doctor, help, we need a doctor over here. And security!"