Wade walked into the rental office in the morning."Good morning ladies."
Della laughed,"You sound like Charlie, so that must make us your angels."
Wade shook his head, "Something like that." He put 2 tickets on Della's desk. As he did, Bunny walked into the room. He handed 2 tickets to her also. "I thought y'all would enjoy this."
Della and Bunny looked at the tickets. Before they could ask, Wade offered,"These are tickets to the Gallagher Historic Society's annual dinner. Usually it is a nice affair. The Butlers host it at Holly Hocks, so you know it will be a nice time."
Vivian walked in the front door. Wade handed her 2 tickets also and explained what they were for. All three ladies thanked him.
Wade laughed,"Obviously they are for you 'plus one'. Isn't that the new thing - 'plus one'?"
The Vivian and Della laughed with Wade. Bunny didn't get it. Della smiled and said,"Bunny, 'plus one' means the invitation is for you and the one other person you wish to bring with you. Like a date."
Vivian offered,"Like, Mike!"
"Oh," said Bunny. "I always wondered what that meant."
Wade just smiled and shook his head. Before he walked out the door, he added, "Oh, and Col Walker is the evening's speaker. Even though I know y'all are 3 naturally beautiful women, let's close the office at 2 this afternoon - just in case y'all may need some time."
They all thanked him and told him goodbye. Wade left.
As it was, the dinner was that evening. Della laughed,"Good thing we did not have plans for tonight." She looked at the invitation."Oh my, it is black tie."
"That means that Mike needs to wear a black bow tie, right?" asked Bunny.
"That means Mike needs to wear a tuxedo, if he has one. And if not, his best suit. And, you need to wear a formal dress."
"Oh," said Bunny trying to remember what dress she had like that. "I'm sure I have something to wear."
"Bunny, it will not matter what dress you wear, your jewelry will be gorgeous."
Bunny had not even thought about the jewelry. But, she did know she needed to figure out what she was going to wear that evening. She called Mike to tell him about the invitation, hoping he could go.
"Of course I can go. And, believe it or not I have a tuxedo."
"How did you know it was black bow tie?"
"Because that dinner is always black tie," Mike laughed. Her comment just reminded him of why he adored her. "What if I pick you up at 6?"
"That would be great. See you then." They rang off.
Just as she had called Mike, Della had called Sam, and Vivian had called Terse. Everyone was set to go. The ladies discussed what they would wear. Della had a deep green dress that would look great with her red hair. Vivian said she was going to wear a dark blue one that she loved. One would think it was the prom the way the ladies discussed hair styles, shoes, etc.
At lunch, Bunny went home and pulled her jewelry out of the safe. It always surprised her how beautiful it all was. She selected a tiara, a necklace dripping with diamonds, and matching earrings. While she had the jewelry out, she took her time and looked through it. Carefully she put the jewelry she wasn't using that evening back into the box and locked the safe.
Back at the office, she pulled out a small cloth bag and placed it on Della's desk. Della just looked at her with a quizzical expression. "I thought this might go well with your dress tonight."
Della opened the bag to find an emerald necklace, earrings, and matching bracelet. "Oh, Bunny!" Della said stunned. "Are these . . .?"
"Yes, they are part of Mary's collection. I thought it would be a good night for you to enjoy them also."
"I don't know what to say?"
"Nothing, I can't wait to see them on you. Just enjoy them."
"I promise I'll get them back to you tonight," Della said excitedly.
"I think sometime next week will do."
Della carefully picked up the jewels, still in awe of what she was holding.
Vivian walked in, saw what was on Della's desk and gasped,"Oh, my God Della, those are spectacular. Are those yours. . . to wear tonight?"
Before Della could say anything, Bunny handed Vivian a small bag. Vivian carefully opened it. She looked at Della. "Oh!" She pulled out a blue sapphire set of earrings and matching choker. "Bunny!!" The looked closely at the pieces. "These look like Harry Winston pieces."
"They are, whatever that means." Bunny explained the story behind the jewelry. Vivian gave her a big hug.
Della laughed,"There is only one problem - no one will think they are real."
"I don't care. They will make me feel special." said Vivian, still looking at the sapphires.
Bunny looked at Vivian,"You are special. You do not need sapphires to make you feel that way."
By this time it was 2 and they closed the office. At home Bunny looked through her closet. Mary had many lovely long dresses, but they were all just not that fancy. Bunny just did not think they were correct for a 'black tie' event. Then she came across a dress she knew was perfect. Of course, what was she thinking? She pulled it out.
The gown she never got to wear, the one she bought for the Grand Assembly Ball. She hung the dress from the top of the closet door. There it was in all its splendor - the purple polyester dress with lace detail on the skirt. She had almost forgotten the amount of tulle that made it look like it had a hoop skirt underneath. The jewelry was a perfect match.
Winfred had known for weeks that the Colonel was the speaker at the Historic Society dinner. She also knew she needed something really nice to wear. Needless to say, even though her 20th century wardrobe was expanding, she had not gotten into formal wear.
On the morning of the dinner Winfred was at loose ends. She still had not found anything to wear. She had taken the day off since she knew it was important to the Colonel. When she showed up at the Gentleman's Club that morning, Anna Belle knew there was some issue. Winfred explained her situation to Anna Belle. Anna Belle just laughed,"I think I can solve that problem for you. Follow me."
Anna Belle led Winfred upstairs into a bedroom at the end of the hall that Winfred had never been in. Anna Belle opened the doors to a large closet and disappeared inside. It wasn't 2 minutes before she emerged with an armful of clothes. "I think these should fit. And I think any of them will look spectacular on you."
Anna Belle spread the dresses across the bed. Winfred had seen gowns like this in fancy magazines but never in real life. "Oh, come on," said Anna Belle,"try them on. Let's see which one best suits you."
As Winfred tried on gown after gown, she felt like a little girl playing dress up. Finally, they agreed on a sequined covered peach colored gown that fit her well without being too revealing, but was still alluring. Winfred was thrilled and, once again, indebted to Anna Belle. Naturally, Anna Belle was more than happy to make someone else happy.
Winfred was so proud of the Colonel. Speeches to historic societies, like this one he was going to give that evening, was when he was at his best. Even with his eccentricities, he really was a fine man. When she emerged from the bedroom, the Colonel was almost speechless. "Winfred, my dear, you will truly be the belle of the ball tonight." She thanked him, they walked to the car, and he opened the door for her. As soon as she was settled in, he got in the driver's side, they started toward Holly Hocks.
"Come to think of it, I do not know anything about the Butlers. Who are they, besides the owners of Holly Hocks? I do not even know their names?" Winfred laughed.
"Well, they are Mr. and Mrs. Davis Clark Butler III. His wife's name is Adair. They are both so nice, interested in historic preservation, and philanthropy." The Colonel paused. "But is not just our hosts, there will so many people there tonight who are key to supporting the historic preservation of the area. Keep that in mind," he said with a wink.
They arrived at Holly Hocks, and drove up the long drive lined with tall ancient cedars. As they approached the house, the Colonel stopped. A gentleman opened Winfred's door and helped her out. The Colonel gave his keys to the young man on his side of the car. All the cars would be valet parked. The Butlers would never dare have a guest tonight worry about parking.
Winfred stood at the steps looking at the lovely antebellum mansion. Thankfully a few of these were spared the ravages of the war and all the other natural disasters that had followed. The Colonel came to her side and they walked up the steps together. Once they got in the front door, there was a small line of guests waiting to greet the hosts.
While they waited, Winfred looked around at the architectural detail, the fine art, and the rich colors of the grand hall. The large crystal chandeliers overhead, cast a gentle bright but elegant light onto the room. Finally they reached their hosts. Winfred introduced herself to Adair Butler, a lovely red headed lady, who had aged very well. Adair offered her hand and with genuine warmth welcomed Winfred to Holly Hocks. She turned to her right and introduced her husband. "Clark, this is Winfred Walker, she is the wife of our distinguished speaker this evening."
Clark Bulter offered his hand to Winfred,"So nice to meet you."
Winfred took his hand, smiled, and said, "You also. I have heard so much about Holly Hocks. I am looking forward to this evening."
His long look at Winfred ended only when she turned to her right, "Mr. Butler, this is my husband, Colonel Walker."
"Our speaker!" Clark said enthusiastically. "We are so looking forward to your talk tonight."
"Thank you sir, I just appreciate being invited." Winfred and the Colonel moved along. Winfred was relieved when they immediately ran into one of the Colonel's fellow history buffs. As the Colonel rattled on about some newly learned nugget of some battle 150 years ago, she did not have to say a word.
Winfred needed a chance to catch her breath and compose herself. She had no idea that one of her favorite clients, she knew as 'DC' , was in real life Mr. Davis Clark Butler III. No doubt Clark was surprised to see that 'Sara' was Winfred and married to Colonel Walker. This should make for an interesting evening.