Monday, December 10, 2012

Melanie and Joe

Chapter Fifteen
Melanie and Joe

Susie, this was going to be a small wedding just two days ago when Joe accepted my proposal. Why are there so many chairs on the beach?”
Susie Marino and Valerie Rossi were busy instructing their husbands exactly where to place each and every chair.
You've never lived in a small town before. Two days is more than enough time to spread the word about an impending wedding. Half of the staff of the hospital will be here as well as Joe's patients and that includes most of the town. It helps that Camden Corners' favorite movie star is the bride.”
Retired movie star. My only role from here on out will be that of Mrs. Joseph Mackenzie.”
I can't believe I'm hearing those words and my blood pressure isn't rising. Melanie, these last two days have been so relaxing for me, I can't thank you enough for putting up with me,” said Hap.
You have been much easier to put up with for the last couple of days than you ever were back in California. I'm so happy you will be giving me away today. You have always felt like family and it seems so right to have you in my wedding.”
I'm proud to do it, Melanie. You know, Margaret and I weren't fortunate enough to have children but if we had, I would have loved to have had a daughter just like you.”
Melanie gave Hap a hug. She had never seen him this mellow before and she suspected Aggie had a lot to do with it. “Did I hear you on the phone a little while ago?”
Yes, I had to sneak a call to the office while Aggie was at the grocery store. That darned woman won't even let me make a phone call without giving me grief. Myrtle is handling everything quite well. She has been my right hand for so many years. It's just a thought, but I was considering letting her take over for me for a few months. Aggie allowed me to go into town yesterday and introduced me to some of your neighbors. They seem like genuine people, Melanie. I'm beginning to understand why you like it here so much.”
It doesn't take long for Camden Corners to get to you. There is something magical about this town. Hap, I know how you have depended on Myrtle through the years. She would be quite capable of running your business. I won't try to influence your decision, but I do hope you will be staying here. I think Aggie would like it too.”
Do you think so? I'm beginning to have feelings for her. Can you believe this old goat is developing a crush on a woman?”
Aggie walked in the front door and heard what Hap was saying. Her heart skipped a beat. I like you too, Charles, she said to herself.
Aggie was humming a happy tune when Melanie and Hap walked into the kitchen. “Aggie, you seem happy today.”
Yes, I'm very happy,” Aggie answered as she smiled at Hap.
I hope you will save me a dance at the reception today, Aggie.”
Oh dear, my dance card is full. I'll see if I can find a spot for you between Rock Hudson and Paul Newman,” Aggie laughed.
A booming voice could be heard from the front porch. “Isn't Kevin Abbott enough of a superstar for you? Did you need to invite Rock and Paul too?”
Kevin! What a nice surprise. This must be Rhonda. I'm so happy to meet you, I'm Melanie and this is my friend, Aggie.”
Miss Fairchild, I can't tell you what an honor it is to meet you. You are my idol. You are even more beautiful in person.”
Rhonda, please call me Melanie. I'm sure you could find a better idol than me in this world. Come in and sit down.”
Julianna and Rick followed the starry eyed girl in. “Isn't she something? She is really very nice but so star struck. Kevin is eating it up,” whispered Julianna as she gave her friend a hug. “Where is my little doll, Samantha? I can't wait to see her.”
She is helping Susie and Val decorate the altar out by the lake. She will be surprised to see you. I didn't tell her you and Rick were coming in case you couldn't make it after all. I hope you and I have some time to talk while you're here.”
When will you be leaving on your honeymoon?”
We aren't taking one right now. Joe can't get away from the hospital and I think I should stick around to chaperone Hap and Aggie. They fought like cats and dogs when Hap arrived and now they are making eyes at each other every chance they get. It's positively scandalous,” Melanie laughed.
Hap is making eyes at a woman? I can't believe it. I'm happy for them. Rick never could understand why Aggie didn't remarry after her husband died. She was so young and still is quite pretty.”
She was waiting for me to come into her life,” said Hap as he stepped into the room. He gave Julianna a hug and shook Rick's hand. “You have a very special lady here, Rick. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that. Sweetie, now that I've lost my favorite starlet, maybe you could forget about being a photographer and let me make you a star.”
And leave my dreamboat husband to travel all over the world by himself? Don't be silly, Hap. You are looking well. I hear you gave everyone a scare.”
Oh, I'm fine. I was trying to make Melanie feel guilty about abandoning me. It didn't work though, she is determined to settle down and become a house Frau.”
Good for her. She has worked hard for a long time. She deserves a break.”
Samantha walked in the door and saw Julianna. “Julianna, you came. I was hoping you would come to our wedding. Mama and I are marrying Dr. Joe today.”
Tears came to Julianna's eyes. She had missed Samantha and Melanie. She missed Camden Corners too. Even though she had only lived in the town for a few months, it felt like home to her. Maybe some day she and Rick would come back to live. For now though, she was Rick's wife and her home was wherever he was.
Hap, have you seen Aggie, I can't seem to find her anywhere?” Melanie asked.
The last I saw her, she was running next door to Joe's. Probably giving him some last minute advice on how to treat a lady. The old biddy, she can't seem to keep her nose out of everyone's business,” Hap said as he was struggling with his tie.
Let me help you with that. I think you are out of sorts because Aggie isn't here helping you get ready.”
I'm not out of sorts, and if I am it's because of the pablum she forced me to eat for breakfast. She knew that stuff wouldn't fill me up but she insisted I couldn't have a bacon cheese omelet and now I'm just plain hungry.”
It's for your own good and you know it,” came Aggie's voice. “Do you want to be carried out of here on a stretcher on Melanie's wedding day. Now let me brush you off. I must say you do look very handsome.
Melanie, the guests are beginning to arrive, we'd better get you dressed. Julianna and Rhonda are upstairs helping Samantha. I hope she can keep her shoes white and polished long enough for pictures.”
Joe stood in front of the make shift altar waiting for his bride and his new daughter to meet him there. The music started playing.
Nervous, old buddy?” asked his best man, Rick Marino.
Not at all, I never realized it, but I have been waiting for this day for a lifetime. Here they come, I'm glad Melanie didn't change her mind and run back to Hollywood.”
Samantha walked down the pathway carefully dropping daisies from her decorated basket. Julianna followed her and finally Melanie, on Hap's arm, walked toward her husband to be. It was as though everyone in the world had vanished and it was only the two of them staring at each other and smiling. They were pronounced man and wife to the cheers of all those in attendance.
A buffet table had been set up by the caterers at The Merryweather. Hap arranged to have a fully stocked bar and was quite disappointed when Aggie stopped him from ordering his favorite bourbon. “One glass of champagne to toast the bride and groom,” she'd told him.
Melanie and Joe greeted each one of the their guests at the tables set up on the beach. “Holly, I know you and Tracy had a hand in this beautiful wedding. I can't thank you enough. You both made us feel welcome from the first day we arrived here. I've been meaning to ask you, since you know so much of the history of Camden Corners, what is the story with the Royal Opera House on Main. It looks to be abandoned.”
Isn't it a beautiful old building. It was built almost 100 years ago by a man named Jamison Bently. He was a young architect at the time, I believe the opera house was his first project. While he was here, he stayed in the boarding house owned by the widowed Caroline Watson. Caroline and Jamison were attracted to each other and shared a kiss in the gazebo on the grounds of the Watson House. Caroline felt as though she was being disloyal to her dead husband and ran from Jamison. Jamison left town, married and raised two sons. After his wife passed away, he returned to Camden Corners to work on another project. He sought Caroline out and again they shared a kiss in the gazebo. This time, Caroline didn't run away. They married and raised a new family which is a story in itself.”
Steve Burke laughed, “Melanie wanted to know about the building not the history of the love starved Caroline Watson.”
Steve, she was not love starved, she was being loyal to her dead husband. I suppose you wouldn't object if I took up with some stranger before your body was even cold.” Holly said with mock anger.
If I'm dead, who cares. Just stay away from gazebos with strange men until that time.”
Everyone at the table laughed. “To answer your question, Melanie, the building was abandoned several years ago it has been for sale off and on for many years. It's in fairly good shape for its age. It would need some repairs and I don't know how extensive they are. It was perfect for an opera house, but not much more. What did you have in mind?”
It's something I have been thinking about since I decided to stay in Camden Corners. Why not start a community playhouse? Actually, Aggie gave me the idea. She was telling me how talented some of the folks here are. I understand a talent show is held at the high school every year. Since I know a little about the theater myself, maybe I'll check the building out to see if it would work for that purpose.”
Melanie, that would be wonderful. I'll see about getting a key to the place and go with you to explore after your honeymoon.”
Maybe some day next week, I'm afraid my doctor husband's services are required at the hospital. We won't have much of a honeymoon but I can wait for that. The important thing is I am Mrs. Joseph Mackenzie and I love my new name.”
Since I'm a Mackenzie too, I must say you wear it well. You are a fine addition to the family.”
What's this about an old opera house,” said Hap. “Is that the place over on main?” Melanie what are you planning? I can always tell when the wheels are turning in your head.”
Hap, you would be the perfect one to go with us to check out the building. It will keep you occupied while you are stuck here in Camden Corners and it will also keep you from annoying Aggie.”
What are you planning without me and what makes you think Hap annoys me? I want in, whatever it is.”
Tracy returned to the table after sharing a dance with Billy Wells, manager of the local real estate office. “Billy, do you still have the listing for the old opera house? Some of us would like to take a look at it one day next week.”
We still have it, Holly. The building is owned by a company located in Pennsylvania. They are seriously thinking about tearing it down and taking their losses on it. It's a shame because it really is in good shape for its age. Just say the word and I'll meet you there.”
Thanks, Billy. Melanie, just let me know when you are ready to look at it and I'll give Billy a call.”
It was time for the bride and groom to depart. Julianna and Rick planned to stay with Samantha in Rick's house while the newlyweds spent their wedding night in Joe's house.
Joe carried his bride over the threshold and up the winding staircase to the master bedroom. He opened the door while soft music played on the stereo. Dozens of candles were glowing in the fireplace, rose pedals were scattered on the bed that was covered with a white satin comforter.. Champagne was chilling on the nightstand. Melanie suddenly knew where Aggie had disappeared to earlier in the day.
Oh Joe, everything is so beautiful. I love it and I love you.”
I love you too, Mrs. Mackenzie. Welcome home.”

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