“Ms. Beckett this is absolutely delicious and so not fair.”
Tracy’s mouth made a pout. Compared to the more generous servings on the plates from the rest of the people seated at the table, her own looked ridiculously empty. Even Trevor was on his second helping while she, as the bride and with one week left to go, had to annoyingly watch her intake of food so that she could fit into her very expensive Rosa Clara wedding dress.
“Nonsense.” Sylvia dismissed Tracy’s comments as she waved a hand in front her face.
“Tracy, I don’t know why you are so worried. You look stunning and I doubt you’ll have any trouble getting into your dress if you eat like a normal person.” John Beckett smiled at his daughter’s best friend, while he took a sip from his glass of red wine.
“If only that were true. Unlike Olivia here, I’m not blessed with such an abnormal metabolism. The stuff I eat does go to some very visible places in my body. My maid-of-honor, on the other hand, I mean look at her,” Tracy pointed with her fork at her friend who was sitting in front of her next to Noah, “she has Rice Krispies every morning for breakfast, plus she loves those chocolate cupcakes from the Cheesecake factory and I know for a fact, she hasn’t been dieting for the wedding. I, on the other hand, have had to eat cereal that tastes like cardboard for the past six months.”
“And I can’t eat a darn thing because my inconvenient state makes it hard for me to retain anything solid within this ethereal thing I’ve become.” Emilia said from behind Tracy’s chair.
Olivia hoped her mental groan was enough for the ghost’s loud complains to cease. Emilia had also been hovering next to each guest either bending down to stare directly at their faces, or just commenting on anything they said, as if they could listen to her. It didn’t help Olivia’s pounding head to hear how Emilia thought Tracy’s mom had done a good decision in not inviting kids to her daughter’s wedding. The ghost had mentioned a particular anecdote from a cousin’s wedding.
“This kid, he was the son of one of my cousin’’s friends from work. Anyhow, the kid thought it would be fun to go play by the fountain and step on the muddy ground and then use the bride’s dress as his own personal canvass to leave his handprints all over her out-of-this-world Vera Wang gown. My uncle has a lot of money so he kind of bought her the dress. I swear, my cousin wanted to kill the kid, so instead she just got so wasted she ended up puking on the groom by the end of the party.”
Certainly a story not fit for when Olivia was having dinner. Not that she had been eating as enthusiastically as the rest. Which was another reason her mother kept throwing puzzled glances at her because Olivia usually had second or third helpings during this holiday. Tonight though, she’d been mostly playing with her food, almost as if the one worried about fitting into a dress was she.
Thanksgiving was not the place nor time to try to figure out why all of a sudden Olivia’s life had turned upside down. Or to worry her about being sick, as she still suspected from time to time, causing her to talk to hallucinations, one in particular, that in a way were projecting her true feelings about Noah’s lack of enthusiasm.
Hell, she could even be making the whole Michael deal up, too. Unfortunately, the chemical and emotional response she’d experienced with him the first time they met, was as real as the half-eaten eight pound turkey judging her for lack of holiday spirit, in the middle of the table.
The noise of the conversation brought her back from her mulling inside her mind. She caught the last word from Tracy’s mouth as she relayed the tragedy with the flowers last Wednesday when she’d had to borrow her car.
“……..I went in there ready to kill whoever had been responsible for ordering red gardenias instead of the red lilies I specifically asked for and payed a very high price for. I mean, there I was ready to teach my third period class and I get this call from the florist asking me about the red gardenias. Honestly, I think Trevor and I might need to throw a telethon to make up for all the expenses of the wedding.”
“That’s when I say, thank god for the gift table if not, most married couples would end up eating from plastic cups and plates and sleeping on the floor.” Tracy’s mother added.
“Yep, she’s got a point.”
Don’t tell me, you know a story about someone whose house fell down because they neglected to register for gifts.
“Mind the attitude young lady.” Emilia moved blindingly fast to stand next to her.
“But yes, only that it wasn’t as dramatic as that. They just got this very horrible present. One guy bought them this crystal sculpture of a crouching tiger with topaz green eyes. Yes, a sculpture as in it had to be displayed on their front lawn before they could sell it to some poor loser who thought it would look cool as a bar decoration. Anyway, it was the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen, and I worked for Amanda who was Queen of the tacky people.”
“Don’t worry Sylvia, when Olivia and Noah start planning their wedding, you’ll go through the same thing. Believe me, you’ll stamp your feet on the floor as if it were your own.”
And then, Olivia saw it all happen in slow motion. Trevor began to open his mouth and despite Tracy’s nudges to his ribs from under the table, he asked what Olivia had wanted to avoid ever since Noah had said the words forced and marrying you in the same sentence.
“When are you two tying the knot? I would think after ten years you would have already beaten us down to it.”
“Please,” Emilia snorted in disgust. “Only a man would call it tie the knot. Like the minute the guy says I do, an invisible rope descends over his head with a firm knot making the nose unescapable.”
You don’t think you can make me invisible as you, can you?
“Don’t be a chicken. Hey! Maybe with all eyes on you two, Noah will give in to your wishes.”
“We haven’t really talked about it.”
The minute Noah finished speaking, Olivia whirled her head to stare at him with her mouth wide open. She was so perplexed by his denial that her eyes were like two huge round crystal balls.
“Or maybe not.” Emilia rolled her eyes at Noah. The option of still scaring him half to death was more appealing with every stupid thing he said.
Tracy caught her friend’s reaction and frowned as she was sure Olivia had mentioned she was going to have the talk with Noah this past Monday. Although, she wasn’t a hundred percent sure since Olivia had neither offered any important details nor had they had time to sit down and discuss other stuff rather than her upcoming nuptials.
Unwilling to cause a scene in front of her parents and the rest of the guests, Olivia drank like she did the very first time the whole issue about marriage had surfaced last Monday at dinner and hoped her voice would sound steadier and less hysterical.
“We haven’t not talked about it, Noah.”
Something inside Sylvia’s mind switched on a bright bulb as the cause for her daughter’s broody attitude finally came to light.
“You’re right we did. But I think there’s no point discussing something we decided is best left alone for now, until we’re more ready. But rest assured everyone,” His gaze did cover the entire table, “I want this woman in my life. I see her as part of my future.”
“Wow.” Emilia felt bad for Olivia. “Such a diplomatic way to say ‘screw you, we’ll do it my way even if it means you waiting for me like an idiot for the rest of your life.’ I hate it when guys sound so sweet when they are being such jerks.”
“That’s good to hear, Noah. I’m sure you and Olivia agreed this was not the right time?”
Leave it to her mother to press the right button to get the answers she sought.
“Sylvia is right. I mean, I wouldn’t like to think my daughter had no say in this important matter.” John sounded far too serious. A silent communication passed between him and her mother, as both detected that not all was as simple and easy as Noah was painting it.
“Oh! I could just kiss your dad. That’s another diplomatic way of saying ‘don’t mess with my baby girl’.”
Instead, the ghost only blew a kiss at John Beckett and waited expectantly for either Noah’s or Olivia’s reply.
Tongue-tied. Olivia hoped Noah would not think she had put her family up to this. She knew they loved Noah and meant well with their concern, but after this morning’s ugly episode inside his car, Noah might not see it as innocent as it really was.
“Of course, John. We’ve only started laying the ground for it. I love your daughter as you well know. And what she thinks is as important to me as her saying yes when the time comes.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet Noah.” Tracy said, sounding halfway convinced.
“Yes, it really is honey.”
Olivia lifted her head to brush her lips lightly against his cheek. Noah took her hand and squeezed it under the table.
“You gotta be kidding me, Olivia.”
But Olivia took a mouth full of cold turkey, tuning out her dead friend’s banter and instead went on to answer some question Tracy’s father made about her job. It could be things weren’t as grim as she had been picturing them all morning.