Sunday, December 2, 2012

Strange Bedfellows

Chapter Seven
Strange Bedfellows

How's it going Tracy?” said Steve Burke as he and his photographer came through the back door of the hotel.
Hi Steve. If Holly and I make it through this weekend, we will be able to handle anything that comes along. I'm thinking back to the time everyone in Camden Corners discouraged us from taking on this project and wondering if maybe they may have all been right.”
The grand opening has been a little more overwhelming than you thought, huh? I'm sure you didn't expect so many VIPs to show up.”
You got that right. We were hoping one or two would accept our invitation, but as it turned out more said yes than no. Now we have to put up with the media too. Present company excluded, of course.
Holly is in the kitchen, I think the chef is worried his bonbons are too sweet. He insists we ordered the wrong brand of sugar. That fellow is an excellent cook, but a real pain in the bustle.”
A pain in the bustle? I think that is something my grandmother would say.”
Mine too,” laughed Tracy.
A harried Calvin Carmichael came rushing to where Tracy and Steve were standing. “Tracy, I think we have a problem,” he said, his voice at a higher pitch than usual.
I'm afraid I booked two guest into adjoining rooms. A gentleman called just last night and asked if it was possible to move him to a room with access to another guests suite. I was happy to accommodate him, but now I fear the gentleman was playing a trick on me and our guests.”
What's the problem, Calvin? There is a lock on each door. Each guest will have their privacy.”
You don't understand, Tracy. Steve, you know more about politics than I do. I was just informed that Mr. Ken Grayson and Miss Marjorie Holmes are running against each other for political office. Mr. Grayson's campaign manager and Miss Holmes campaign manager are in the foyer now in a shouting match with the desk clerk because of the proximity of the rooms. I'm so sorry Tracy, it is all my fault.”
Go ahead Tracy,” said Steve. “I'll go with you so the other reporters don't get out of hand.”
Tracy couldn't believe the commotion these two were causing when she entered the registration area. “What seems to be the problem here?” she tried to shout above the crowd noise.
Ms. Robinson, I personally booked a suite for Ms. Holmes requesting specifically that she have a private room. Now it seems her suite adjoins the Grayson suite. I cannot tolerate this lack of professionalism,” said a feisty little woman who Tracy assumed was the campaign manager for Marjorie Holmes.
Ma'am, I assure you, there are very secure locks on the inner doors of both suites. No one will be able to enter from either side unless both doors are open.”
Not good enough! I want a new suite for Ms. Holmes and I want it immediately.”
Ma'am, every room in the hotel is occupied. I'm afraid there is nothing we can do at this point. If you would prefer, we will arrange to have Ms. Holmes moved to a hotel in Greensboro. I'm sure they will be happy to accommodate her entourage and we will send a limo to Greensboro to transport her to the Gala tonight.”
Sondra, what seems to be the problem here?” Marjorie Holmes said as she walked through the doors.
Marjorie, this imbecilic facility has placed you in a room that adjoins Ken Grayson and they tell me they have no other suites available.”
Calm down, Sondra. We do not have a problem here. I'm sure there is a secure lock on the door connecting the rooms. How do you do ma'am. I'm Marjorie Holmes, I'm guessing you are one of the owners of this beautiful establishment.”
Welcome, Ms. Holmes, I'm Tracy Robinson. I am truly sorry for the confusion. Apparently a gentleman called and specifically asked for adjoining rooms. I'm sure it was a hoax and I do apologize for not verifying the request.”
That was not a hoax, it was a deliberate attempt to intimidate Ms. Holmes and I know just who the culprit was,” said Sondra as she glared at Jerry Evans, Ken Grayson's campaign manager.
Sondra, please! That is enough. Let's not bother these busy people any longer. I would like to get settled in my suite. It's been a busy morning. Thank you everyone. If you will please take my bags to the suite, I'll follow. Sondra, I'd like to be alone until cocktail hour. Would you please find something to occupy your time until then.”
Sondra didn't like being dismissed. She wondered if Marjorie Holmes had what it takes to run for office. Marjorie's father, Senator Clayton Holmes had been the perfect politician. He loved the game and it showed through his thirty years in the senate. He grudgingly gave up his seat after suffering a heart attack the previous year. Before he announced that he would not be running for for the office again, he received a promise from his only child, Marjorie that she would run in his place. Clayton and his wife, Betty, adored their daughter. Clayton had asked of Marjorie only two things in her entire life. The first was that she never marry a Democrat and the second was that she take over for him in the senate. She never commented on his first request and avoided all talk of politics with any young man she dated through high school and college. She was afraid if she turned down his second request, he would change his mind and run again. She didn't want to lose him to the stress of the job and agreed to be a candidate.
Ken Grayson caught the political bug during the Kennedy era when he was a junior in high school. Through the years, he enjoyed working behind the scenes. The moment the announcement was made that Senator Holmes would not be running for re-election, he was being pressured into becoming a candidate.
Jerry, I don't have any desire to run for any office. I've never even been on the school board. What makes you think I could be elected as senator?” he said to Jerry Evans, the state party chairman.
Ken, you are young and good looking. After thirty years of Clayton Holmes, the public is looking for someone different. The fact that you don't have a political background will be a plus for you. Besides, we don't have anyone else that would be able to beat the sentimental favorite, old Clayton's daughter.”
Clayton Holmes has a daughter? I hope she doesn't look like her father.” Ken grimaced at the thought of a female Clayton Holmes.
I've never seen her but I hope for her sake, she looks like her mother. What about it Ken? Will you at least think about it?”
Let me talk it over with a few people and I'll get back to you. If I do this thing, I want to keep it clean. You will promise me that, won't you? I never approved of mudslinging and I don't want to start now.”
A few days later, Ken reluctantly agreed to throw his hat in the ring.
Ken, where have you been? I just had another run in with Sondra Shoemaker. What a b..”
That's enough Jerry. The lady is just doing her job. What were you two arguing about this time?” said the always even tempered, Ken Grayson.
Oh, the hotel messed up. Booked you in an adjoining room with Marjorie Holmes. Sondra thinks I did it on purpose although I don't know why I would choose to have you so close to Ms. Holmes.”
Did they reassign our rooms?” Ken said with just a hint of panic.
No, there aren't any extras. They offered to move Marjorie and her staff to another facility in Greensboro but Marjorie said that wouldn't be necessary. That lady has class. I don't know why she picked Sondra as her spokesperson.”
That isn't any of our concern. I'm beat, I'd like to just relax in my suite until I have to make an appearance at the cocktail party. I'm sure you can find something to occupy yourself for a few hours. I noticed the bar is open.”
Don't mind if I do. Call me there if you need anything. See you later, Ken. Don't do anything I wouldn't do.” Jerry laughed at his own joke.
Holly stepped into Tracy's office. “Why did we ever decide to have this grand opening? I'm exhausted already and it's only Friday afternoon,” Holly said as she collapsed in the chair across from her friend. “I understand there was some commotion at the registration desk.”
Yes, I think we have it all straightened out. Marjorie Holmes is a pretty level headed person. That's more than I can say for her campaign manager. I think I'd better check with Ms. Holmes to see if everything is satisfactory. Why don't you hide out in here for a few minutes. You look like you could use a break.”
Tracy walked up the stairs to the second floor. She gently knocked on the door to the Rossi Suite. This was one of her personal favorites. It was decorated in the tradition of a Tuscany vineyard. Nick Rossi had planted the first of many grapevines over 70 years ago. Through the years, several wineries had been added and could be seen from the balcony where there was also a view of Lake Camden.
Ms. Holmes,” she called. “It's Tracy Robinson, I'm just checking to see if everything is satisfactory.”
Marjorie opened the door slightly. She was in her robe with her hair slightly mussed. Tracy was afraid she had disturbed her from a nap.
I'm so sorry if I disturbed your rest,” she said as she heard a male voice.
Darling, have you seen this view? It's breathtaking with the lake and all those vineyards in the distance.”
Tracy gasped as she looked up and saw Ken Grayson standing by the picture window with only a towel wrapped around him.
Her face turned bright red as did Marjorie's.
Ken turned as he realized they were not alone. “Marjorie, why don't you invite our guest in. I'll just go put on some clothes.
Ms. Holmes, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to intrude. Please forgive me. I will be on my way.”
Don't be silly Tracy. Please come in. By the way, my name is now Mrs. Grayson. Ken and I were married this morning by a good friend of his who knows how to keep a secret. Please call me Margie, I think under the circumstances we can suspend the formalities.”
Ken stepped out of the bedroom fully clothed. “I'm afraid your staff took the blame for the adjoining rooms. I was the one who called and requested this arrangement. I didn't want to have to sneak down the hall to visit my bride and this seemed the perfect solution.”
Tracy, I'm sure you are wondering how the two of us got together since we are on opposite sides in this election. The truth of the matter is that neither one of us has strong enough convictions to represent either parties. After this weekend, we will both be dropping out of our races. We are hoping to keep our marriage a secret until I have a chance to speak to my father and tell him of the marriage and of my decision. Daddy's heart is not strong, but I think he will understand when I tell him how happy Ken makes me.”
It's not my business, but why did you get into your respective races when you had feelings for each other.”
We didn't even know each other. We didn't meet face to face until we crossed paths in a hotel lobby in Rochester. We both had appearances at different functions. I had seen pictures of Margie and thought she was a beauty, but when I saw her in person, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”
When I spotted Ken standing by a potted plant, I was so taken with his good looks, I walked right into a rack of postcards and they went flying all over the floor with me landing on my derriere right smack in the middle,” Margie said as she and Ken both laughed.
We have been together as often as possible ever since. We finally decided we couldn't live like this any longer. I'd intended to tell my father about Ken but he and mother took off for Bermuda a week ago. They are expected back Sunday afternoon. We just couldn't wait any longer to be husband and wife.”
That is the most romantic story I have ever heard. I can't believe you two have been able to keep your relationship a secret,” Tracy said.
I think Jerry suspects I have a female stashed somewhere. I'm sure he has no idea it's Margie. If he knew he would be having a panic attack.”
Sondra has no idea. I'm sure she would never understand how I could choose a mere man over being a United States senator, “ said Margie.
Meanwhile in a bungalow in Bermuda, Clayton Holmes is becoming suspicious. “Betty, why did you drag me here to the middle of an ocean when our daughter is running for office in New York?”
Clayton, dear. The election is months away. Have a sip of your lemonade and try not to worry about what is going on back home.”
Betty was lost in thought as she recalled her last conversation with her daughter. Our little girl is married. I couldn't be happier for her. She fell in love with a Democrat. Her father will have heart failure but I'm sure he will recover. I just don't know how to tell him. Maybe tomorrow. It will have to be soon since we will be leaving for New York in less than two days.

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