Saturday, December 1, 2012
Most of the staff of The Merryweather was standing on the marble stairway leading to the entry doors of the hotel. Eyes were popping as Cameron Swank made his way to the entrance with a smiling Vanessa Mackenzie at his side.
Vanessa saw Ben standing in the background before the limo came to a complete stop in front of the resort. Her heart pounded as she looked straight ahead not wanting to be caught staring in his direction. He looked wonderful. So handsome in his uniform. She winced as she remembered the way she had spoken to him the last time she saw him. He had shocked her when he made the decision all by himself that the two of them would remain in Camden Corners. She was still a little miffed when she thought about how impulsive he had been in renting the old Blackburn cottage. She loved that old place. As a child she would imagine herself living there when she grew up. In her imagination she was always married to a prince and had seven babies. Seven was the number of baby dolls she had on her bed at home. Her prince did come along but because of her stubborn streak, that was where the story ended. Vanessa hadn't been back home since the day she left. Her family and friends visited her on occasion. Her best friend, Candy Taylor kept her up to date on Ben and his female companions. Every time Candy came to town, Ben was dating a different girl.
“It's a good thing we didn't stay together, Candy,” said Vanessa several times. “He seems to like to play the field and he probably would have cheated on me if I'd accepted his proposal.”
“I'm not so sure about that Vanessa. Anyone in town who has been with him says he is very attentive but it never goes very far. I think it's because he's a one woman guy and you are the woman.”
“If he felt that way, why didn't he stop me from moving here? If he really loved me he would never have let me get on that train.”
“Maybe if you really loved him, you wouldn't have gotten on that train yourself. I know you aren't happy here. Why don't you come back home? You know it would thrill your family. Changing your mind wouldn't be the worst thing you could do. It's been almost four years, Van. Please think about coming home.”
“I will be coming back for the opening of The Merryweather next month. How is it coming? I can't believe Tracy and my cousin have accomplished such an overwhelming task.”
“Vanessa, I can't wait for you to see it. It is going to be a fabulous addition to our town. Camden Corners is coming up in the world. It's great you will be at the opening. Are you coming as Cameron Swank's escort? I can't believe that is part of your job description.”
“I like being Cameron's escort. He is really a super nice guy. You know if it was discovered he was a homosexual, his career would be ruined. I hope someday attitudes change but in the meantime, I want to help in any way I can.”
“I'm not knocking it. I just wish you had a real life. When was the last time you had a real date?”
“Don't you remember that cameraman I had a date with?”
“Yeah, two years ago and that lasted about a week before he got back with his wife. Vanessa, you haven't had a real date since you left Camden Corners and you know it.”
“Should I tell Ben you are coming to town?”
“No, maybe he won't see me. I'll be staying in Cameron's suite while I'm there and I'll be working except for the times I am making a public appearance with him. It's only for the weekend. What are the chances Ben will be at the big parties at the hotel?”
Candy was tempted to tell Ben about Vanessa coming home, but respected her wishes. Besides, she didn't know what his reaction would be to her so called job.
Ben was busy all afternoon and into the evening attempting to control the crowds. He had no idea there were as many dignitaries invited and people from surrounding towns were all anxious to get a look at them. His friend Jim and a few of the other fellows in town helped him set up barriers. Ben would be glad when the weekend was over. He thought he might like to talk with Vanessa but it looked like she had a new man in her life and probably didn't even remember him.
“Vanessa, I've arranged for a rental car for you. Why don't you visit your family or some of your friends? I hate the thought of you being stuck in this hotel room all weekend,” said Cameron.
“Thanks, Cam. You really shouldn't have done that. I won't be leaving these rooms unless I'm with you. My folks are going to meet me in my cousin, Holly's office later. I'd rather not be seen around town.”
“You mean you'd rather Ben Murphy didn't see you. I have never known anyone so stubborn. You know you are still in love with the guy. Go tell him how you feel.”
“I can't Cam, he's moved on with several other women and I'm not about to stand in line waiting for him to get around to me.”
“Vanessa, what will I do with you? At least go down to the pool. It looks very secluded, you won't be bothered by cameras or exes.”
“Cameron, stop worrying about me. I have work to do and I'll be just fine.”
“Alright but I'm going to the bar by the pool. Tracy Robinson said it would be off limits to the public. Don't work too hard, dear.”
On his way down the stairs, he saw a good looking fellow in a sheriff's uniform. He was talking to Tracy Robinson. That has got to be Ben Murphy. He looks like someone Vanessa would be interested in.
“Hello Mr. Swank, I hope your accommodations are satisfactory.”
“I couldn't ask for anything more comfortable, Tracy. Please call me Cameron,” he said noticing the name Sheriff Benjamin Murphy on the other gentleman's nameplate.
“Ben, do you mind if I call you that?”
Ben was surprised to be called by name. “No, sir. I don't mind at all. I enjoy your show very much and catch it every chance I get.”
“Thanks, Ben. I enjoy playing the part. I'd like to buy you a drink so we may talk. I'm sure, unlike my character, you don't drink on the job but maybe you would enjoy a glass of soda while I indulge in a nice cooling beer.”
Ben was curious as to why this television star would be interested in talking with him. He wondered where Vanessa was and why she wasn't hanging on his arm now.
“Ben, I'm sure you are curious as to why I singled you out. I hope you will keep what I'm telling you under your hat. You see, I am not interested in the opposite sex as most men are. It would ruin my career if the public found out my preference. The reason I'm telling you this is because there is a young lady upstairs who obliges her bosses at the production company and places her arm in mine when I appear in public. Her name is Vanessa Mackenzie. I think you know her.”
“Yes, I do know Vanessa. It's been a long time since I've seen her.”
“Yes, four years, I know that because Vanessa talks about you often. She still loves you, you know. I wonder how you feel about her. I'm asking because I don't want her to be hurt if you aren't interested.”
“Please call me Cameron.”
“Cameron, Vanessa left Camden Corners four years ago. She was furious with me then and she hasn't contacted me since. I made some decisions about our lives without discussing them with her first. I realize I was wrong to do that but she seems to be very happy with her life and I'm happy with mine just the way it it.”
“Oh hogwash, Ben! You are just as stubborn as Vanessa and you are both foolish to go on like this. Vanessa won't even leave the hotel for fear of running into you. She spotted you when we drove onto the property today and she let out a wail that frightened the driver. I can see the pain in your eyes just mentioning her name. Here, take the key to my suite and go surprise the dickens out of our girl. I'd still like to be seen with her tonight but after the gala, we will have a little spat and I'll become involved with someone else by weeks' end. That's the kind of guy Cameron Swank is.”
“I think Cameron Swank is a pretty great guy. I'm taking a chance that she won't throw me out on my ear. Thanks Cameron.”
Ben took the back stairs two at a time. After four years, he found he couldn't wait to come face to face with Vanessa.
He gingerly knocked on the door and then stuck the key in the lock and turned it.
“Hi Cam, that didn't take long. How was the beer?”
“The root beer was very good. I think it was Dad's. My favorite.”
Vanessa turned with a start. She recognized Ben's voice. “How did you get in here, Ben?”
“Your friend Cameron says you still love me. That works out quite well because I never stopped loving you, Vanessa. I'm sorry I was presumptuous four years ago when I planned out our lives without even consulting you. I'll give up my job and my home and move to New York if you will still have me. Where I live and work are of little importance without you in my life.”
“Oh Ben, I have been a silly fool. I was sorry I moved to New York a week after I left Camden Corners. I have missed you and my family and friends for all this time. I was afraid to come back to town because I couldn't bear to see you strolling around town with someone else. I love you Ben. I always have and I always will.”
“We have wasted so much time. I hate to wait even two more days but you are Cameron's for the weekend. If it weren't for him I wouldn't be holding you in my arms this very moment. I think we should name our first born after him. What do you think?”
“I don't think our son would like to be called Sidney, do you? That's Cameron's real name, Sidney Plank.”
“Maybe we will just send pictures. Vanessa, let's get married on Monday. We can keep it quiet until Cameron finds a new escort.”
“Any thing you decide will be fine with me. I just like to be asked first.”
“O.K. Will you marry me on Monday?
“Only if we can start the honeymoon this afternoon. We have until 7:00 tonight. Then I'll have to get ready for my date.