Monday, December 3, 2012

The Gala

Chapter Eight
The Gala

I'll leave you two alone,” said Tracy. “Again, I apologize for interrupting your honeymoon. It is not the intention of The Merryweather to invade our guest's privacy.”
Don't give it a second thought, Tracy. It feels good to be able to share our secret with someone. I did telephone my mother earlier to let her know of our marriage. We didn't talk too long since Daddy was within earshot and Mother wanted to break the news gently. He will not be pleased that I am dropping out of the race.”
Or that she married a Democrat,” added Ken.
Tracy winced. She wasn't terribly political herself but she knew of Clayton Holmes' reputation on the floor of the senate. She didn't envy the young couple when the diehard Republican learned the news.
Meanwhile in a small bungalow in Bermuda, Clayton Holmes' suspicion was growing. “Betty, you are hiding something from me. I can always tell when you aren't being completely truthful. Is everything alright with Margie? I know she has had a grueling schedule lately, but she'd better get accustomed to it because when she wins the election, her time will not be her own.”
Clayton, sit down. Let me pour you a brandy.” Betty knew her husband would blow his top when he heard the news about their daughter. She wasn't afraid for herself but she was concerned his temper would get the better of him and worried about his ailing heart.
Betty, I do not want any brandy. Now tell me exactly what is happening. If you don't, I will call Margie myself.”
Clayton, control yourself. You are not going to like what I have to say but please remember you taught your daughter to be an independent young woman. You know she is only running for your old seat because she was afraid you would seek another term and jeopardize your health.”
Get to the point, woman. What has the foolish girl done?”
Margie is not foolish, my dear. You are the one who was foolish to think she would find happiness in politics. Come to think of it, that's exactly what she did. She has found her own happiness and his name is Ken Grayson. Margie and Ken were married earlier today. Margie will withdraw from the race early next week.”
Married? My little girl is married to a Democrat? How could she do this to me? Why didn't you stop that scoundrel from taking advantage of our little girl. He knew he couldn't win the election on his own so he married my angel. Well, we will have the marriage annulled. That's all there is to it. I'm sure Margie is regretting her foolishness as we speak. I'll call Jack Spinelli and have him start drawing up the papers.”
Clayton, listen to yourself. You are not on the floor of the senate now. Margie is in love with Ken Grayson. Ken will be dropping out of the race too. Neither one of the children wanted a career in politics. They were both pressured into running. I met Ken just before we left for our vacation here. I didn't tell you then because I was afraid of your reaction. Ken is a wonderful man. I wish you could see the way he looks at Margie and she looks back at him. It reminds me of the way you used to look at me when we first met.”
I want to talk to my daughter. What is the phone number for that place she is spending the weekend? I can't believe she is with a man. My poor innocent child.”
Clayton, your poor innocent child is thirty years old. You would think she was 14 the way you are acting. You are not going to call Margie. She is enjoying her first day as a married woman and she doesn't need you to put a damper on her honeymoon.”
Betty, I will never forgive you for not keeping me informed about this relationship. If I'd known it would never have progressed this far. Now, pack our bags. We are leaving for home today. I will put a stop to Margie's foolishness myself.”
Clayton be quiet. I will pack our bags and we will return home to see our daughter this evening. She and Ken will be at a gala being sponsored by The Merryweather, a new resort in Camden Corners. I have heard many wonderful things about the old mansion. You will put a smile on your face, embrace your daughter and offer your hand to the man Margie has chosen to be the father of your grandchildren.”
Clayton knew Betty had reached the end of her patience. He also knew when it was time for him to toe the line. It would surprise his former colleagues if they knew this tiny woman was able to control him. She always let him blow off steam but put an end to his tirades when she'd heard enough. He still didn't like the idea that Margie had a wedding without him. He had often thought of the time he would walk her down the aisle to the man of her dreams. Someone hand picked by Clayton, of course. He couldn't wait to see his daughter and make sure she was as happy as Betty seemed to think she was. Maybe he would give this fellow Ken a chance. He still didn't like it, but he would try for Margie's sake. He wondered when he had stopped looking at Betty the way she said he did when they first met. He was still crazy about her. She was his rock. He could never have faced some of those tough days in Washington without her by his side. Maybe he'd better start looking closely at her again. She was still a beauty, the few wrinkles she had only made her more appealing to him.
Let me help you with the packing dear,” Clayton said as he took her in his arms. “Betty, I don't tell you this often enough but you have made me a very happy man. I love you more now than I did when we were first married. Do you remember your father trying to talk you out of marrying me? Maybe no man is good enough for our precious daughters. Ken Grayson is a very lucky man and so am I.”
This was the Clayton Betty loved best. The gentle man whose eyes shown brightly with the love he felt for her. She loved him too and knew he would come around to accepting Margie's choice. She hoped it wouldn't be too long before the grandchildren started coming along. Clayton will be a wonderful grandpa, I just know it.
Guess I'd better get back to my suite. Jerry and Sondra will be banging on our doors soon to hurry us along. I feel like a fifteen year old sneaking around like this,” said Ken still holding his bride.
What were you doing in ladies' hotel rooms at fifteen?” Margie said smiling up into his eyes.
I was thinking more along the lines of behind the bleachers during football games. I wish I'd known you back then, I'll bet you were a knockout.”
At fifteen I had a mouthful of braces and refused to smile. I'll have to show you Mother's old photo album one of these days. Believe me, I was far from being a knockout.”
Well, you are a knockout now. I'd better leave while I still can. It's going to be so hard not to stare at you this evening. I'll be glad when we can tell the world about us.”
They shared one last kiss that would have to hold them until the party was over.
Everything seems to be going well, Tracy,” said Holly. “I hope we ordered enough champagne. I didn't realize how much VIPs could drink.”
They do seem to be kicking up their heels. Did you see who pulled up in a limo a little while ago? It's Senator Holmes and his wife. They weren't on the guest list but I told Leonard to invite them in. Maybe we should get out there to welcome them. I hope there isn't going to be a scene.”
Why would there be a scene, Tracy? Tell me what you know. I can see by the look in your eye that you are holding back.”
I'll tell you later. I gave my word that I wouldn't say anything and it's something you would feel compelled to share with Steve if I told you.”
Let's see, it must have something to do with the senator's daughter, Margie. I know, she and her opponent have fallen madly in love and are eloping at midnight.” Holly said with a chuckle. She took one look at Tracy whose jaw had dropped. “That's it, isn't it? I was only kidding, but oh how romantic. I won't tell anyone, Tracy, not even Steve.”
You are almost right, Holly. They are already married. They were holding off making an announcement until Tracy could tell her father on Sunday. Looks like the cat will be out of the bag a little sooner than that.”
Good evening Senator and Mrs. Holmes,” Tracy said with a welcoming smile. “We are very happy you will be joining us this evening. I'm Tracy Robinson and this is Holly Mackenzie.”
The senator was obviously distracted and glanced around the room no doubt looking for his daughter. Betty Holmes told the girls how impressive The Merryweather is. “I have read all about your renovation project and the journals you found. You have done a wonderful job with this place. I hope you will forgive my husband and me for crashing your party. Our daughter is here this evening and my husband was anxious to talk with her. We will be on our way shortly. I would like to return one day soon. I'm fascinated with the journals you found and would love to take a look at them.”
Please, Mrs. Holmes, you and your husband are more than welcome to stay this evening. The journals are kept in cases but our staff is in the process of copying the pages. They are rough copies but readable and quite interesting. You are more than welcome to look them over.”
Betty, I see Margie. Ladies, our daughter is inside, if you will excuse us?”
Betty smiled at the girls. “I would love to see the journals, I'll book a room for later next week. Clayton can go fishing while I examine them.”
Daddy? What are you doing here?” Margie could tell by the look on her mother's face that she had broken the news to her father.
We came to see our daughter, we missed you dear. Will you excuse us ma'am?” Clayton said to the woman Margie was having a conversation with at the time.
Let's go to that table there in the corner where we can talk privately.”
Ken saw his in-laws when they walked into the room. He looked in Margie's direction wondering if she needed him at her side. He noticed she held up her hand and gave him a slight nod indicating that she could handle it herself.
The exchange didn't escape Sondra Shoemaker's attention. She suspected something was going on between the candidate and her opponent. Tonight the glances between the two of them were unmistakeable. As hard as they tried, they couldn't keep their eyes off one another. Sondra excused herself and walked out of the ballroom directly to the bar. “Give me a double bourbon, son,” she said as she sat on the bar stool next to Jerry Evans. “We were right about those two, Jerry, looks like we are going to need a couple of new candidates.”
Marjorie, your mother told me about your marriage. I'm sorry you felt you needed to hide your relationship from me, but I do understand. Before I meet my new son-in-law, I want you to know you and your mother are the most important things in my life. I know, at times it seemed my only interest lay in senate chambers. I don't regret my time as a United State Senator, but I do regret my attempt to force you to follow in my footsteps. I don't often admit that I have made a mistake, but in this instance, I did and I'm truly sorry for it.”
Daddy, I don't regret running for office. I would never have met Ken if I hadn't made that decision. I am sorry for the time and money spent on a campaign that should never have begun in the first place. My only hope is that you will accept Ken into our family. I truly love him, Daddy.”
I know I'm a stubborn old goat, my darling daughter, but I love you and I can see the happiness in your eyes when you mention your husband's name. Now, call the young man over so I can shake hands with my new son.”
Senator Holmes still caused a stir among the reporters even after his retirement. They were standing in the background but, because of their good instincts about a possible story were all watching the foursome in the corner. They noticed the senator rise from his chair and walk to the stage where the band was playing soft music.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Clayton Holmes. Some of you may know me as the former senator representing the fine State of New York. I'm not here this evening to make a political speech although I would be happy to if you'd like.” The crowded laughed and cried no in unison. “As you may know, my daughter, Marjorie agreed to run for my vacant senate seat. A funny thing happened on the way to November. Margie met and fell in love with her opponent, Ken Grayson. I am pleased to announce that Margie and Ken were married this morning. May I present Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Grayson.”
Flashbulbs were exploding as the couple walked to the stage. The band began playing the wedding march, reporters were jotting notes and asking questions. The main question was about the campaign. Were one or both staying in the race? When did they stop being rivals and become lovers? What did Senator Holmes think of a Democrat joining the family? It was total chaos.
Ken walked to the microphone. “Please everyone, we will answer your questions very soon. We are all here to enjoy the grand opening of this beautiful hotel. We would like to thank our hostesses, Tracy Robinson and Holly Mackenzie for the gala event this evening. Since Margie and I are just beginning our honeymoon, we will depart for the evening.” He turned to his in-laws. “Come with us to our suite. We can finish our conversation there. You will simply be bombarded with reporter's questions if you stay here.”
Oh Ken, dear. We don't wish to intrude on your honeymoon,” said Betty. “I'm sure you two would like some privacy.”
Now that we are both out of work, we will have plenty of time to be alone. Besides, I'm starving. Those little doodads they were passing around down there didn't do a thing for my empty stomach. We will order room service. I'm sure Tracy and her staff will accommodate us.”
I think I'm going to like our new son-in-law, Betty. He's a take charge kind of guy. He even talked those reporters into backing off.”
He's a lot like you, Clayton. Now let's join Margie and Ken. I'm a little hungry myself.”

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