"It’s so beautiful!"
Abby threw open the drapes and gazed out at the lush gardens below. A carpet of deep green grass, flanked on either side by fuchsia flowers, led to the turquoise ocean. She sighed again in utter contentment and turned to her husband. "The perfect location for renewing our vows and finally having that honeymoon."
Her proclamation drew only a grunt from her Greg, who was staring out the window, presumably admiring the same view as Abby, yet he stared off into space visibly lost in thought. Oh well, Abby reflected. Preoccupied by the demands of a thriving business, Greg was often lost in thought. She refused to let Greg’s absent-mindedness interfere with this once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Carefully packed in her luggage lay a strapless wedding gown. The designer silk creation fit her perfectly. When they’d said their vows the first time, the best she could afford was a navy suit. Formal wear came in dark colors, her mother-in-law had insisted. The short dress of white eyelet she’d intended to wear simply wouldn’t do. According to Greg’s mother, it looked like a sundress. Abby couldn’t see what difference it would have made to their informal civil ceremony. No bridesmaids, no flower girls. Greg’s parents were their only witnesses. She refused to count Greg’s best friend Dorian as a witness, especially after he’d arrived drunk. Abby thought of her new silk wedding gown and smiled. This time things would be different.
The door to their suite banged open. Abby jumped. A tiny shriek escaped her lips. Not the door to their room, she realized, gathering her wits, but the door to the adjoining suite. And standing in the doorway was Greg’s best friend, Dorian, a beer already in hand.
"What’s he doing here?" she hissed at Greg, who finally tore his attention from his woolgathering.
"Oh," he said absent-mindedly. "I invited him."
"You invited him!" Her voice rose louder than she intended. She grabbed Greg by the sleeve of his silk t-shirt. "What do you mean you invited him?"
"I figured since he was our best man the first time round, he should do the honors on the second."
"Honors! He got falling down drunk!"
Greg’s eyes narrowed as if he really didn’t understand why she might be upset. Instead of arguing with her, he merely shrugged. Greg never argued. He simply did what he wanted.
Seemingly oblivious to their discussion, Dorian turned his attention to his beer. With some distaste he extracted the slice of lime stuffed into the neck of the bottle and tossed it in the garbage can. Their garbage can. Where the ants--
Abby dragged her mind back to the present, determined not to let Dorian spoil her last chance at a perfect wedding. Rooms could be rearranged. As soon as she’d gotten rid of Dorian, she’d have a talk with Greg and get Dorian moved to the other side of the resort. Or, if circumstances permitted, the other side of the island. "I see you’ve found the bar," she sniped.
Dorian pretended not to notice. "Pretty swanky place, huh?"
She studied her husband’s friend. Greg’s polar opposite, she never could understand what the studious Greg saw in the boisterous Dorian. Greg had spent the past twenty-five years working round the clock to build up his business. Dorian floated from job to job working as everything from a carpenter to a skiing instructor, to his current incarnation as a web developer. Still, at forty-seven, that lifestyle had to be losing its appeal. She glanced at Dorian’s nonchalant demeanor. Apparently not.
"What you need is a beer," Dorian said, turning his attention to Greg. Dorian captured his attention easily enough, she thought with a pang of anger. Or perhaps it was the beer. "Sure," Greg said. Grabbing his room key, he followed Dorian to the door. "Back in an hour honey," he said, almost as an after thought.
"Don’t be late. We have a meeting with the wedding planner at five," she reminded him.
From the doorway, Greg turned back. "It’s not a wedding, honey. We’re already married. You really don’t need to get so bent out of shape." The door swung closed on whatever she would have said.
"Yes it is," Abby told herself. The wedding she’d never had. The one they’d never been able to afford. This time she’d have the flowers, the cake, the wedding video and the designer silk dress. This time she’d have it all. She stared out the window at the sculpted gardens and the blue sea. In her suitcase was the bikini she’d dieted for six months to fit into. Well, two could play at this game she thought and went to change.
The white bikini looked striking against her suntanned skin. Even though she’d sworn never to set foot in a tanning salon, she’d broken down and got a base tan. She’d had her hair streaked to give her a sun-bleached look. All in all, she looked pretty good for forty-five. Tossing a plush hotel towel over her shoulder, she headed for the beach.
She found a hammock tied beneath two palm trees. Gentle waves lapped at the shore beneath her. Abby found the sound soothing. Lulled by the rush of the sea, she drifted off to sleep.
A prickling feeling woke her a couple of hours later. Abby lifted her head. The tide had drifted inland and warm water now lapped around her buttocks through the hammock’s netting. She looked down at her body and groaned. Where a couple of hours before, she’d been a golden brown, now her torso had turned a color only a lobster could be proud of.
Flinging herself out of the hammock, she jumped down into the water and waded back toward the hotel. "Don’t panic," she muttered to herself. "Make-up can cover sunburn." Hopefully the hotel gift shop sold aloe vera.
The hotel gift shop, it turned out, didn’t sell aloe vera. When she arrived back at her suite hoping to slink into the shower unnoticed, she found Greg and Dorian sitting on the balcony. Beer bottles littered every table on the patio. She turned to hide in the bathroom, but Dorian caught sight of her and burst out laughing.
Abby opened her mouth, her temper rising and intent on tossing Dorian bodily from their room, when she caught sight of the clock. "Five to five!"
At the sound of her voice, Greg turned. "There you are. I wondered where you’d gone."
Dorian gave her an appreciative once-over and then went back to his beer.
"We have five minutes before we have to meet with the wedding coordinator." Her voice sounded shrill even to her own ears.
"Ready when you are," Greg said.
Annoyed and not sure why, Abby darted into the bathroom. No time to cover her burns with makeup. No time for anything. She brushed her wind-swept hair and pulled on a white sundress, wincing as she did up the straps. She left her bikini bottoms on.
"Wow, you’re really burned," Greg said as she emerged. No wow, you look wonderful or I’m really glad to be marrying you again.
"Let’s go," she said tersely and headed out to the hotel offices.