The inside of Holly Hocks was as dreamlike as the back lawn was magical. The home was so large, it had a ball room, which went back to its original design in the early 1800's. Naturally, Ivy Lane was Bunny's home now. It was all she had of Harrison, and she felt his love there everyday. That said, the lawn at Holly Hocks was also special because that was where she first spent time with Harrison. The sweeping carpet of thick green St. Augustine grass that slowly made its way to the river, was the first time she realized that someone really wanted to spend time with her. It was Harrison's choice. He wasn't embarrassed to be with her. But now, all she had was memories.
Her deep thoughts were interrupted by Mike, "I brought you a glass of champagne. I do not know enough about wine to feel safe going there."
"You are a dear," Bunny said taking a sip. "How can you go wrong with champagne." As they stood there chatting, Sam and Della walked up. "Whoa!" said Mike. "Della, you have always been a good looking woman but tonight you are stunning."
Della gave Mike a short curtsy and thanked him. Mike looked at Sam,"Guess those rocks cost you a pay check or 2?"
Sam laughed,"No, I didn't buy them for her. However, worse yet, I fear her expectations have risen a bit."
They all laughed. Just then Vivian and Terse walked up. If the men appreciated Della's stunning beauty in her deep green dress, red hair, and emeralds, they were speechless when they saw Vivian. Mike just stood there somewhat speechless. Luckily Sam could speak,"Vivian, that color looks divine on you. If Terse is an ass tonight, let me know and I'll be there to console you."
They all laughed when Della cocked an eye toward Sam and interrupted her conversation with Bunny. "Vivian, can take care of herself. Perhaps you need to have someone on standby to offer you solace if you stay on this track tonight."
Sam smiled and gave Della a kiss,"You know I'm smitten with you."
"Yes, but it never hurts to remind you." Sam gave a big hug.
Mike stepped up, "Well Vivian in that case, if Terse does something stupid, come find me, I'll take it for the team."
Bunny looked at him then looked at Vivian. "I'm not even going there." She laughed, "Y'all are all nuts."
Wade walked up with Maisy Ruth, his date for the evening. He complimented everyone on the way they looked. Della said, "Thank you Charlie. And thank you for the tickets tonight. This is wonderful." Wade kissed each lady on her cheek, spoke to the men, then headed toward the bar.
"Charlie?" asked Sam.
Della giggled,"It's an inside joke."
Vivian added,"A long story."
Standing with Vivian and Della, Bunny looked like their Fairy God Mother. All she needed was a magic wand. But no one stared or snickered, or even commented behind her back. This was their Bunny. Well, that was everyone but folks like Marcy and Tula.
Speaking of Marcy, of course she was there, but only as a date of an older man, with more money than charm or good looks. Marcy spoke badly about him behind his back, but with him, he could do no wrong. Anyone in their company would think she worshiped him. Close friends feared he would die an untimely death from an unfortunate incident.
Bunny excused herself to go to the Powder Room. On her way she ran into Marcy. Harrison had told her that Marcy felt guilty that Harrison had to escort her instead of Bunny to the Ball due to the rules of the Grand Assembly. In a way, she had always remembered that as a thoughtful thing for Marcy to say. They spoke. In the conversation, Marcy asked Bunny,"Can you do me a big favor?"
"Of course, I'll be glad to", said Bunny.''
"I'm waiting for my date, "said Marcy, "and it sounds silly, but I told him I would stay here with his things until he gets back. He always gets irritated at me because he says if he gets up to go to the bathroom, he has lost me for the evening."
Bunny laughed,"I've been accused of the same thing."
"Can you get me a glass of wine? They are serving different kinds, I want a red wine. They'll ask if you want a Cabernet, a Pinot Noir, or a Burgundy. Please tell them you want a 'Gallo Ripple'.
Bunny smiled, " 'Gallo Ripple'? I've never heard of that?"
"It's my favorite, not many people drink it."
"I'll be right back." Bunny scurried to the bar. Luckily there was only one person in the 2 lines for wine, while the full bar lines were 4 and 5 deep.
She walked up and a formally dressed bartender asked,"Yes mam, how can I help you?"
"I would like a glass of 'Gallo Ripple'?"
"Excuse me, what kind do you want?"
" 'Gallo Ripple' "?
"Is that a red or white?"
"A red," said Bunny thinking this must be a new or unsophisticated bartender.
"Please excuse me," and the bartender turned to his partner and explained his problem.
Then both bartenders were there trying to serve her. "Mam, would you like a Cabernet, a Pinot Noir, or a Burgundy?" He paused and added,"maybe, a Malbec?"
Bunny did not realize this would be so hard. "No, thank you, it is a 'Gallo Ripple'."
The first bartender looked at Bunny and smiled,"What does it taste like"
"I don't know. I've never had any. A friend of mine asked me to get her a glass of wine and was very specific that she wanted a glass of 'Gallo Ripple'."
By this time many of the guests in line had picked up on Bunny's quandary. There were a few hushed chuckles. The first bartender knew he needed to do something to save this lady. Obviously, she was the butt of a cruel joke. He turned away where Bunny could not see him, poured a red wine glass half full of a Burgundy, then added some Bitters and cherry juice from the bar.
He returned to Bunny and gave her the glass and a napkin. "Mam, take this to your friend and make sure she taste it to ensure it is what she wanted."
"Thank you so much for helping me."
"You are welcome, bless you," said the bartender, curious as to what the story was behind the ripple and the Fairy God Mother costume.
Marcy was surprised when Bunny returned, even more so when she handed Marcy the glass of wine."It took a while for them to find it, but they did. The bartender said to make sure you tasted it to make sure it is the right thing."
Marcy just looked at the glass of wine. It couldn't be that bad. After all it was probably just a Cabernet, a Pinot Noir, or a Burgundy or maybe some combination of the later. Marcy swirled the glass, as if she knew what she was doing. Next she sniffed the wine. Then she took a good sip.
Immediately, Marcy spat out the wine, which went all over her white silk sheath dress. She looked at Bunny. "What the Hell is that?"
Before Bunny said anything, a voice over her shoulder said, "Your God Damn 'Gallo Ripple'. Doesn't it have the correct notes Marcy?"
Bunny turned around and saw Terse standing there with 3 glasses of champagne. "I am surprised that even you would try to embarrass someone like that. You are not a 13 year old, although you act like one."
Marcy looked at Terse with looks that would kill. "So you did this? Do realize how much this Carolina Herrera dress cost me?"
"No, I didn't do this. A very quick bartender did and I could not care less what that dress cost." He turned to Bunny,"You OK?"
"I am now."
"Here," he handed her a glass of champagne. I need to get you back to the group. We were all worried where you were?"
"That's what friends are for. By the way I wanted to thank you for sharing the jewelry with Vivian and Della. It has made a nice evening even more special."
"I'm glad they are enjoying it."
They found the others. Terse made a comment about how difficult it was to get through the groups of people. He said he had found Bunny stuck in the crowd. "Someone had to save her!" he laughed.
"Terse was my knight in shining armor."
At that point they heard their host asking everyone to find their tables for dinner and be seated. As they started looking for their places, Wade spotted them. "Our table is #8, over here. Maisy is already seated." He pointed toward the left side of the large ballroom. The group moved toward the table.
Mike said,"I don't know about y'all, but I'm starved."
Sam laughed,"Me too, but I have never left Holly Hocks hungry."
Della looked at them, "I think y'all are always hungry."
Across the room, the Colonel put his hand behind Winfred's back,"Let's find our table." The Colonel whispered in her ear, "My dear, you have left me breathless this evening."
Just then, Clark Butler found them in the crowd, "Colonel, you and," he paused just a second, "Winfred will be sitting with us at the head table, if you will follow me."