REPORT A PROBLEM
TWO MONTHS LATER
“What do you mean Father Flannigan isn’t performing the ceremony?” said Mrs. Thompson on the phone.
“Who is your mother talking to?” asked Rick.
“Deacon Smith,” replied Amanda. “We may have to find another minister for the wedding.”
“Excommunicated?!” exclaimed Mrs. Thompson. “All of us? My daughter is the whore not me.”
“Sorry dear,” she said to Amanda. “Old habits die hard.”
“I’d better call Dr. Melvin Frank,” said Mr. Thompson.
“Mom’s therapist? Good idea,” said Amanda.
“Now look,” said Mrs. Thompson in the phone, “do you realize how much money we put in the collection?”
Mrs. Thompson waited for the reply. Her jaw dropped.
“There is no possible way that our last two checks bounced!” she announced.
The other patrons in the diner began looking her way. It had been some time since they heard an irate individual in here but usually it was about the service or the food.
“I’m calling my lawyer!” she yelled and ended her call. She then looked at her surroundings, blushed a bit and then stared at her uneaten plate of eggs.
“Suing the Catholic church?” asked her husband. “Isn’t that a bit extreme?”
“Oh shut up!” she grumbled.
“Who is this Dr. Melvin Frank?” asked Rick.
“He’s a therapist who specializes in cult members,” replied Amanda.
“Cults?” said Rick.
“Dr. Frank knows that some Catholics get into their religion to the point of cutting themselves off from the rest,” she said.
“What about your birth out of wedlock?” he inquired.
“Dad wasn’t Catholic and Mom got pregnant before his conversion,” she replied. “He only did it to marry Mom and went through the motions to make her happy.”
“I don’t know whether to impressed or appalled,” remarked Rick.
“Dad’s relieved, I’m sure, that they’ve been excommunicated,” she said.
“So now what?” asked Rick.
“Well we still have two days until our wedding,” replied Amanda, “and we still have the reception hall. It’s time to call in some favors and see what we can come up with."
“I’ll call Reverend Joe and see if he can do the ceremony,” volunteered Rick.
“He’s a real preacher?” said Mrs. Thompson.
“Yes he is,” replied Rick. “He went to Bible College although he never started up a congregation.”
“How about we hold the wedding in our backyard,” suggested Mr. Thompson.
“Dad that’s a great idea,” said Amanda. “What do you think Mom?”
She looked at her daughter and then quickly left. Tears were streaming down her face.
“Let her go,” said Amanda’s father. “She’s been through a lot in the last few months plus with you getting married and the excommunication she’s going to need some serious help.”
“Reverend Joe is available at four on Wednesday,” said Rick.
“Great! Give him the address to Dad’s house and assure him there won’t be a hot air balloon involved,” said Amanda.
Just then the diner door opened and in walked Candace and Jason. They were holding hands. Amanda looked over at Rick and smiled.
“Amanda, I saw your mom. What’s up?” asked Candace.
“Long story,” replied Amanda. “What’s up with you two?” She indicated their holding hands.
“Oh that,” said Candace. “Jason is just giving me moral support during this whole ordeal.” She let go of Jason’s hand and he moved over to order some breakfast.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Amanda said. “The wedding has been moved to my parents house and we need to inform all our guests of the change.”
“How many people?” asked Candace.
“Not many,” replied Amanda. “Just two hundred.”
“Two hundred?!” said Candace.
“And they’ve all RSVP’d,” added Amanda.
“Is your parents’ backyard really that large?” asked Candace.
“No,” replied Amanda, “but when we call people they most likely change their mind. Especially with what just transpired.”
“Okay. I won’t ask because I know you’ll tell me later,” said Candace.
“Excellent! Here’s a list for you and Jason. I trust you’ll work together.”
Candace nodded. “Dad here’s a list for you and one for Rick’s parents if you’ll deliver it.”
“Sure thing Sweetheart,” said her father.
“You have until noon to go through your lists,” explained Amanda. “Whomever we haven’t reached we’ll try this evening. Are there any questions?”
No one had any questions. Mr. Thompson then left in search of his wife and Amanda gathered up her things and went outside with Candace. Rick then approached Jason who was awaiting his takeout order.
“Hey thanks again for the bachelor party,” said Rick.
“No problem,” said Jason. “I may not know my job very well but one thing I do know is how to throw a party.” He smiled but seemed distracted. Rick paused not sure what to say although both of them knew what they should be talking about.
“So are you and Candace dating now?” asked Rick.
“Not really,” said Jason. “Candace and I are ‘together’ at least through the wedding. We’re closer as friends but not a couple.”
“Amanda is going to disagree with that you know,” said Rick.
“We know,” replied Jason. “Candace will tell her the same thing but we know she won’t fully hear her. She’d rather we be a couple.”
“Is that a bad thing?” asked Jason.
“No, not really. But I still have Simone in my life and I don’t want to give that up. Candace knows and understands.” Jason got his order and they walked outside.
“Ready?” Jason asked Candace.
“Yes and hungry too!” replied Candace.
“Here’s the solution,” said Jason indicating the container from the diner. The pair left and Rick hugged his wife.
“This will all work out in the long run,” he said.
“I know that,” she replied. “It’s just that days like this I wish we were back at your parents beach house.”
“That was a very special time,” said Rick.
She looked at him with an arched eyebrow.
“You say that as if it’s to be our last,” she said.
“Sorry Sweetheart,” he said. “I just find myself thinking back to that time as well.”
That afternoon everyone met at the Thompson house to view the results of their call lists.
“So out of two hundred that have RSVP’d only 75 are still coming and ten haven’t yet been reached,” announced Amanda.
“That’s a more manageable number,” said Mr. Thompson.
“I’ll call the caterer and have them scale back the reception,” offered Mrs. Thompson.
“Good idea Mom,” said Amanda. “It appears that our excommunication had a much greater effect on our so-called friends than we first thought.”
“It’s better this way,” replied her mom. “It appears we were welcomed for our money than our presence.”
“Well at least we can fit most everyone into the backyard,” said Mr. Thompson.
“Plus the reception hall is less than a mile away,” added Rick.
“So we’ll call the remaining ten people this evening and have a definite answer,” said Amanda.
“Jason and I will handle those calls,” volunteered Candace. “It will give you and Rick time to be alone.”
“Yes and your father and I, along with Rick’s parents, will handle the decorating of the house and backyard tomorrow,” said Mrs. Thompson.
Amanda began to tear up at how helpful everyone has become.
“This will work!” she said.
Rick gave her an assuring hug as everyone made their way out the door.
“Reverend Joe will be here at noon tomorrow to for the rehearsal,” said Amanda.
“Then we have almost twenty-four hours to ourselves,” said Rick with a sly smile.
“What are you thinking?” asked Amanda.
“Dinner and a movie,” replied Rick.
“What movie are we talking about?”
“Entrapment with Sean Connery?”
“We haven’t seen that one yet!” she replied.
“I know,” replied Rick. “It’s downtown for another couple nights.”
“And dinner is?” she inquired.
“Wherever you want,” he said.
“How about the restaurant in the Hotel Regata?”
“That’s perfect!” said Rick with a smile. “Just the three of us.”
“Three?” asked Amanda.
Rick moved forward and placed his hand on her stomach.
“You, me and the baby,” he replied.
Her eyes met his and they gazed deeply at each other. Two months, and then some, that they had been this alone and this intimate with each other. Amanda suddenly frowned.
“What’s wrong?” asked Rick.
“My bladder,” she replied. “Every time someone touches my stomach it seems to affect it.”
“Sorry,” said Rick. She turned and ran back into her parents’ house while Rick got the car ready.
That evening Rick and Amanda had a wonderful meal together followed by watching the movie from the balcony in the theater next door. Normally the balcony is closed during the week, but an usher allowed them to slip upstairs. Most of the movie was missed as they attempted to make up lost time being together.
The next day they got a late start knowing they didn’t have to be present until eleven. Rick busied himself in the kitchen with Julia’s help to make Amanda breakfast for their long day ahead.
“What’s all this?” asked Amanda as she enter the kitchen.
“It a special breakfast Mamma,” said Julia.
“Fiber and protein to get you through the day,” added Rick.
“Plus enough to feed my little brother,” said Julia patting her mother’s stomach.
“And just how do you know it’s going to be a boy?” asked Amanda.
“I don’t,” said Julia. “But it would be nice to have a brother.”
“Well whichever it is I just hope it’s healthy,” said Amanda.
“Eat up, it’s going to be a busy day,” said Rick. He then turned to Julia. “I want you on your best behavior today. No tricks.”
“Yes Daddy, I’ll be good.”
“Yes,” added Amanda in between bites. “You have an important job with the flower petals.”
“I’ve been practicing all weekend at Grandma Wendy’s,” said Julia.
“That reminds me,” said Amanda. “She was designing a special veil for me to wear. It was made from her veil when she married Joshua.”
“I’ll call and remind her to bring it to the rehearsal dinner tonight,” said Rick.
After Amanda got dressed they hurried out the door. In the car’s backseat was a large stuffed bear.
“What is Mr. Jingles doing in the car?” asked Amanda.
“He wants to be in the wedding.”
“Why does Mr. Jingles want to be in the wedding?” asked Rick.
“Because, Daddy, he’s my date,” said Julia sweetly.
“But he doesn’t have the proper clothing,” said Amanda.
“Oh please Mamma?” asked Julia. “I’d be too afraid to walk down the aisle by myself.”
“Well for now he can come with us to the rehearsal,” said Rick.
“Hooray!” shouted Julia. She got into the car and gave her bear a big squeeze.
Amanda gave Rick a look of panic.
“What’re you doing?” she said under her breath.
“Trying to make my ladies happy,” he replied. “I’ll think of something.”
The rehearsal went as planned and everyone figured out their positions for the ceremony. Dr. Melvin Frank was on hand in case Mrs. Thompson lashed out verbally. The decorating continued as most of their friends left to get ready for the rehearsal dinner.
“Tomorrow morning we decorate the reception hall,” said Amanda.
“I’ll call to make sure they know we’re coming,” said Candace.
“We could just drive over there,” Jason suggested. “It’s on the way to your apartment.”
Rick and Amanda exchange glances and Candace caught them.
“It’s not what you think,” she said. “We are…um just good friends.”
“You’re not going to convince them,” said Jason.
“But who’s going to convince us?” asked Candace.
“What?” asked Jason.
“There is something between us,” she replied.
“Really? When did this happen?” he said.
“I’d rather not say right now,” she said.
“And why not?” Jason demanded.
“Mr. Jingles is so happy to be part of the wedding,” said Julia as she came up to her parents.
“Point taken,” said Jason. He and Candace left for the reception hall.
“I told you there was something going on,” said Amanda to Rick.
“What’s going on Mamma?” asked Julia.
“Aunt Candace is happy.”
At the rehearsal dinner Grandma Wendy shared her idea.
“Since Julia wants to have her bear involved,” she said, “I thought I’d get him a little tuxedo and she can pull him in a wagon down the aisle.”
“That’s perfect!” exclaimed Amanda. She hugged Rick’s grandmother.
“But how will she throw the petals?” asked Rick.
“I’ll tie a little pouch to her waist,” replied Wendy. “She can pull the wagon with one hand and throw petals with the other.”
Everyone was getting seated when Candace stormed in with Jason close behind.
“I’m sorry but I still love Simone,” he said.
“You could have fooled me about ten minutes ago,” shouted Candace.
She then noticed everyone staring at her. She turned a bright crimson and made a beeline to a back table. Jason smiled and simply sat down next to Rick.
“Mood killer,” Rick said to Jason.
“Sorry,” he replied. “It’s a long complicated story.”
“Tell us later,” said Amanda.
After the meal everyone sat in different groups and chatted about the upcoming ceremony. Candace remained seated, by herself, and stared at the floor.
“So tell us what exactly happened?” asked Amanda.
“Well to put it simply,” replied Rick, “we kissed.”
“You kissed Candace?” said Amanda almost shouting. Some of the other guests looked up and Amanda blushed. She got up and took Jason outside.
“I went to kiss her on the cheek and she turned her head so that our lips met,” explained Jason.
“And did you stop?” asked Amanda.
“No,” replied Jason. “I kissed her back because I thought she needed it. She told me about her last boyfriend, Tony and how he treated her.” He paused. “I thought I was just doing her a favor but she thinks it’s more than that.”
“And what about Simone?” asked Amanda.
“I still love her. It was an innocent kiss and nothing more,” said Jason.
“But Jason you can’t toy with Candace’s emotions,” Amanda said.
“I’m not!” He retorted. “I tried to explain it to Candace and she got mad.” He breathed deeply. “All I have been trying to do is be there for Candace during this whole event. I think she’s jealous of your marriage and that she doesn’t have anyone in her life.”
“That’s pretty observant,” commented Amanda. “I had sensed the same thing in her in the last couple weeks.”
“So what do I do now?” he asked.
“I talked to Candace about it,” replied Amanda.
“That’s a relief,” said Jason.
“Oh you’re not off the hook yet Romeo,” said Amanda. “You need to tell Simone what happened and if she really loves you, she’ll understand.”
“And if she doesn’t?” asked Jason.
“Well there’s always Candace,” said Amanda with a smile.
“What’s your deal with me and Candace?” “I just think the two of you would really make a great couple,” she replied.
“I’ll think about it,” said Jason looking at his watch. “Guess I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“Do not be late or I’ll hunt you down!”
The next morning everyone arrived at the Thompson residence on time. Everyone that is except Jason.
“I told him I’d hunt him down,” said Amanda. “Did he think I was joking?”
“Calm down Amanda,” said Candace. “He called me this morning and said he’d be a couple minutes late.”
“Why that—” she stopped suddenly. “Did you say he called you?”
“Yes,” said Candace. “I’ve gotten over yesterday. I guess I overreacted. I should have know he was just ‘being there’ for me.”
“Then maybe there’s still hope,” replied Amanda.
“I won’t hold my breath,” Candace said.
Jason then arrived.
Candace was the first to greet him and saw that he had a black eye.
“What happened? Did you get in a fight at the gym again?” she asked.
“Simone slugged me after I told her I kissed you,” said Jason.
“I’m so sorry,” she said.
“Don’t worry,” he replied. “She told me she was dating this bodybuilder from Ashland for the last couple months. I’m better off.” He went to find Rick and Candace shared this latest bit of news with Amanda.
All the guests had arrived and everyone was getting into place.
Then someone noticed Julia was missing.
“What do you mean Julia is missing?” demanded Amanda.
“Rick and Jason are looking for her at this very moment,” said Candace calmly.
“I just can’t believe the bad luck I’m having,” said Amanda.
“Excuse me for saying this, but you sound a whole lot like your mother!” Candace announced.
Amanda paused and buried her face in her hands. She started crying.
“You’re right. I’m so sorry. I just wanted this to be a perfect day.”
“But it is perfect!” said Candace. “Your family and friends are here and Rick is ready to do this. You should be very happy!”
“You’re right,” said Amanda. “I am happy.”
Jason peeked his head into the house.
“It’s okay,” he said. “Julia was down at the duck pond. She said Mr. Jingles wanted to feed them.” He smiled then winced because of the pain.
“I’ll talk to her after the ceremony,” said Amanda.
“No need,” said Jason. “Grandma Wendy has that situation handled. Now let’s get you two married!”
The ceremony was beautiful. Both mothers cried and even Grandma got a little misty.
“…I now pronounce you husband and wife,” announced Reverend Joe.
Without any coaxing Rick kissed Amanda deeply on the lips.
Everyone applauded the couple and then turned and walked down the aisle. Rice was thrown from every direction and they made for the house.
Candace then came to the front and was escorted by Jason. Julia then followed with Mr. Jingles in her arms. He was a bit bigger than her.
“The reception will be held at the Richmond Reception Hall,” announced Reverend Joe. He, too, proceeded down the aisle as well.
Inside the house Amanda and Candace were animatedly talking while Jason helped Rick brush rice out of his hair and clothes. Amanda and Rick exchanged glances and smiled.
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