My Life A Bit South of Normal

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nieman Marcus and Feral Hogs

Della and Sam were two stepping to the band's fairly good rendition of Hank Williams' 'If Heaven Ain't Alot Like Dixie'. Everyone watching them was clueless as to what they were doing. They knew it wasn't a waltz or a fox trot. Obviously no one going around a large circle was doing the traditional southern 'shag' they had learned at Alabama and Ol' Miss. Many just stood there, entranced.

Della was clueless as to the dozens of eyes on her. She only had eyes for Sam, her Texas cowboy. She had been swept off her feet from the moment he first walked into the office. The 2 were planning their wedding, the only issue was Texas or Alabama. Sam's family was very well to do. They expected their only son's wedding to be one large enough to accommodate all their family, friends, business associates, and significant others. After all, nothing in Texas was small.

Della's family, on the other hand, could only imagine a simple church wedding for their daughter with a reception in the church hall. One big enough to handle their family and friends. No one needed anything else - just something proper and simple.

Della and Sam had 'danced' around their families for months. Neither wanting to hurt any one's feeling. There had been many discussions about elopement - some serious and others not so much. They just wanted to get married and not hurt any one's feelings in the process. Why did love have to be so difficult?

While they were visiting Sam's family in Dallas, his mother and sister, Cora Lee, had made an appointment with the head of the Bridal Department at Nieman Marcus. They made it a 'Girl's Day' of it to look at wedding gowns.  Della had never been treated to such. She quickly realized she was terribly under dressed in her simple skirt and blouse. However, being polite, no one said anything.

The ladies were served champagne and pastries as they sat and watched models parade before them displaying the gowns. The dresses were lovely. Della had only seen such in the few Bridal magazines she has looked through. She had been handed a printed sheet that gave the description, including the designer, of each gown as it was presented. The prices threw her into a state of panic.  'Any one these cost more than my used Honda Civic', Della thought. Never wanting to hurt Sam's mother's feelings, she smiled and commented pleasantly on each as it was presented. The glasses of champagne did not hurt.

Sam's younger sister complicated the situation. Being the debutante of the season the year she came out, a cheerleader for the University of Texas Longhorns while at college, and then having her wedding featured in 'Town and Country' as well as the social  column of the 'Texas Observer', Della knew she would never measure up to Cora Lee. But, she was able to politely handle Mrs. Peterson.

Sam and Della had returned from Texas, a little more confused than before. There was no middle ground. The Peterson's idea of a wedding was 500 guests, a full band, open bar, seated dinner, dancing, an affair guaranteed to make the society pages. While the Lees could not imagine anything more than a simple service in the local baptist church with a reception in the social hall complete with Lue Ellen's pecan sandies and pink punch.

Ima Jean, Della's mother, had been dreaming of her daughter's wedding since the day Della was born. Given Ima Jean and Tommy were married in the living room of the justice of the peace in the next county over, she could only dream of her daughter's wedding.

20 some years ago she had bought a Simplicity pattern for the wedding gown of her dreams. Unlike her simple wedding, she wanted her daughter to have the best. The least she could do was make her wedding gown. Ima Jean had even bought yards of white eyelet that she carefully kept wrapped in paper, stored in the bottom of her husband's freezer out back under the shed. Since Thomas only used the shed to clean his fish and the freezer for the deer meat, quail, dove, and feral hog he killed each year.

So there they were - Sam and Della, in love, lost in the music. They just wanted to get married and share their day with their family and friends. How difficult could that be?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hello Sunshine and Summer Dance

Bunny survived the rest of Thursday evening. She had no idea what happened to Pervis and, personally, she didn't care. Seeing him was like being visited by the ghost of Christmas past. Before they turned in for the night, Mike reminded her that the following evening was the town's summer dance in the town park.

The 'Summer Dance' was an annual event Gallagher had hosted every June since 1895. The original idea was to get everyone off their porches one summer evening in June. Even though the southern heat was often unbearable, no one was going to miss this event. Given there was usually nothing else going on in town, not attending was taking a good chance one would be talked about. That being the case, it was worth bearing the heat to preserve one's reputation. And while there, one may as well get the scoop on those poor souls who did not venture into the heat. 

Gallagher was so small there were no secrets. That said, it still had that southern civility - even though everyone knew your business, they politely acted as if they didn't. Of course, that did not stop anyone from asking leading questions.

By the time Mike and Bunny arrived there was quite a crowd. Kids were running about wild. A local band was tuning up on the band stand. Flora and Cora were there, Don and John following behind. Barbara had convinced Jerry to stay another night to get a better feeling of the town. 

Lue Ellen had a table serving slices of her famous sour cream pound cake. Ella and Rayanne were there serving the gallons of lemonade Walter had donated from the Cafe.  The Grand Gallagher Ladies Club had a cash bar. Proceeds from that went to their 'Charity' fund. (It was always questionable just what their 'charity' was, but it was not polite to ask.)

Mike walked to the bar to get a glass of wine and one for Bunny.  Ike was there poured the 2 glasses and handed them him. "Tell Miss Bunny I'm sorry. We don't have any rose or Chablis this morning. But, I think she may like this pinot grigios." 

"Thanks Ike, I'll tell her," Mike smiled.

He turned to see the Sheriff behind him. "You really missed it today."

"Really? What in the world could I have missed in one day?" Mike laughed, "Actually, I imagine anything I missed was more titillating than court."

"I was surprised you were tied up there all day."

"Well, I thought so too. That was until the Widow Dillworth's case came up on the docket." The Sheriff cocked an eye. Mike just finished, "Let's just say, she took issue with the Judge's ruling." 


"Wanted to call 'expert' witnesses."

"For what? She parked her car in the middle of the town green, after almost taking out a bench, and then missing Jefferson Davis' statute by a mere foot. If I remember correctly, she thought she was in front of Millie's." The Sheriff laughed, "She was only off by 2 blocks."

"Well, the Judge was going to have none of it. He reminded her that she was not Perry Mason. Then the Judge called Mercer to testify that Mrs. Dillworth had failed her last eye exam and should not have been driving in the first place."

"The fun just never ends."

Mike shook his head, "So what did I miss?"

"Early this morning, Buzz passed a man walking down the Old Wire Road. Said the man didn't look good, so Buzz stopped to offer him a ride. He said when he got to the man, he was acting like he was delirious. All the man would say was, 'I lost my hat and my mother is going to kill me'."

"Where on the Old Wire Road? Close to Ivy Lane?"

"He was about a half mile from Ivy Lane going towards town."

"No car? Did he say where he had been?"

The Sheriff shook his head, "Nope, no car that Buzz saw. All he talked about was his hat and his mother. Ask Buzz, he can tell you the whole story."

Mike excused himself and went to find Bunny. No doubt she was wondering where her glass of wine was.

Barbara saw Terse and Vivian across the lawn. Having to walk on her toes to keep her 4 inch heels from sinking into the park's grass. She dragged Jerry over to meet them. This was her last chance to get the 2 of them together. Before they reached them, Terse said under his voice, "Dear God, she's back."

"Mr. Jackson, I'm so glad you're here. I'd like you to meet Jerry, my producer."

Being polite, Terse offered his hand, "Reginald Jackson, nice to meet you." He turned and introduced Vivian, "This is Vivian Wells, my girl friend."

Not wasting any time, Barbara went straight to the point, "Reginald, I was hoping you had time to reconsider my proposal. We could make you famous," she smiled, "and rich."

Reginald smiled,"Miss Birch . . . it is Miss Birch?"

"Of course, but please call me Barbara."

"Well Barbara, I appreciate that very much. However, I already signed a deal."

"Reginald, I am sure you have a 'deal', but I can offer you so much more than a little local company. After all, we work with Hollywood. You know big names, big lights," she waved her hands wide in the air, the gold bands on her wrists jingling. "You're not going to find that here."

"No mam, probably not." Terse said hoping that would end the conversation. Unfortunately, it didn't.

"What kind of deal did you get?"

Terse politely smiled,"They were quite kind."

Jerry spoke up, "If I may ask, who did you sign with?"

Terse hesitated, "It's a company from LA - Pacific Standard/Hello Sunshine."

Barbara was shocked, "Witherspoon, you signed with Reese Witherspoon? How did you get her to take your script? She is big time."

"Actually, I didn't," Terse said quietly. He badly wanted to get out of this conversation. He never cared for Barbara from the first time he met her. As for Jerry, he questioned anyone who would keep her company. "Miss Birch it was nice seeing you again." He turned to Jerry and offered him his hand, "and nice to meet you, Jerry."

Barbara, not willing to give up. "Mr. Jackson, I hope they accept the script, if they don't, please call me."

Finally loosing all patience, Terse spoke up, "I think she'll produce it. After all, she contacted me. I didn't contact her." He smiled at Barbara and Jerry, "Y'all enjoy yourselves." He put his arm around Vivian's waist. They made their way to the bar.

As Mike walked through the crowd looking for Bunny, he saw a couple making out behind one of the big oak trees in the shadows. That brought back memories of his teenage years. 'A right of passage' he thought. But he then he stopped in his tracks.

The site of Cora Eldridge moving from behind the tree to the top of a picnic table, half naked, getting to 3rd base with an older man he didn't recognize was not a sight he wanted to see. Mike knew he needed to move on but he just stood there for a second or 2. Some things defied imagination. He shook his head and walked away still looking for Bunny.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Let's Recap

Gentle readers, having been gone for a week or 2, I have not given up on the tales and tribulations of the folks in Gallagher. I am back (to reality) and eager to see what is going on in our little town in Alabama. That said, I thought, perhaps we should recap where we are:

Bunny Vontese is now married to Mike Pace. Unbeknownest to her and everyone else, Mike is not just a Sheriff's Deputy, but a well educated young man. Come to find out he comes from a fairly well to do family that lives not too far away. They live happily at Ivy Lane, the former home and estate of Harrison Wells.  Remember Harrison met his sudden death  during his very short engagement to Bunny. He willed Ivy Lane to Bunny, along with a sizable trust to keep it (and Bunny) in good shape.

Anna Belle is now keeping company with Walter Pace, Mike's Grandfather, whom she met at Bunny's wedding. Her business, the Gallagher Gentlemen's Club, is fairing very well, despite the mysterious death of 2 of her patrons.

The Eldrige twins are in the midst of figuring out the rituals of courting - now that Don and John have arrived. (They are a set of identical twins the Eldridges found on an online dating site for older folks.) Of course Flora and Cora got in a bit of trouble when their liquor still was discovered in their back yard while the Colonel was searching for the body of General Holden James Kirby, a long deceased officer in the Confederate army. 

The final batch of their fine moonshine has found its way into Dot's Do Drop In, where Ike (the bartender) dispenses it in small doses to any patron who knows the secret phrase.

Colonel Wadsworth continues to dress in his Confederate uniform as well as ride around town on his horse. The Museum of Confederate Uniforms, Hats, and Paraphernalia does well under the Colonel's watchful eye. 

Winifred, the Colonel's wife who once dressed in a dowdy costume of the time of our most recent unpleasantness joined the 21st century. She now is one of now one of Anna Belle's 'girls'. While at the Club, where she goes by the name 'Sara', she generally keeps company with Clark Butler (of course his wife Blanche is totally unaware of the situation as is the Colonel).

Vivian, who showed up in town with a few unruly children has settled in. The children's uncle, brother of their late father, and his wife (Harvey and Laurelie Wells) have adopted the children. All is well there.

Of course, Vivian, was the love child of Tula and William Vontese (Bunny's father). She and her mother do not fair well together. Vivian has settled into a relationship with Terse who has become a nationally recognized novelist and town celebrity.

Vivian's estranged mother, Tula, continued to wreck havoc in may people lives until she was arrested for embezzlement, transporting an adult against his will, and Elder abuse. She has now found herself in prison.

Pearce has settled into his family estate, Cre Uisce Aer, that he bought and has lovingly restored. He has hired Don and John to restore one of the gardens on the property. Come to find out, they are experts in designing Japanese gardens.

Dr. Mercer Magill and Iris Barker are now an item. She went a little off the range for awhile there. After her husband met his untimely death, a young man pretending to be her husband's nephew showed up with a scheme to swindle all her money. However, he found her possessed. He was arrested. She was committed to the Midsummer Sanitarium that ended up being an undesirable place. After she was rescued, she got right in the head again, and is now seeing Mercer on a regular basis.

Reeza, the Voodoo priestess who livesdeep in the Bayou, regular appears with her tarot cards. Her interpretations, as bewildering as often as they are, usually proove true.

Sheriff Quitman is keeping law and order in the county, as best he can. Mary Lou is handling both the Sheriff's Station and the Sheriff fairly well.

Speaking of the Sheriff's Station, there is a percular lady living in a bedroom the second story of the building. Ada Mae claims to hold the deed to the building (which was once a fine home). She lives there as if she were claiming squatters rights. Of course Ada Mae also lives in her own little world which allows her to time travel (in her mind) and always dress in the costume of the period.

The Goodness Gracious Tea Room had become quite the popular place, especially among the ladies of the town. Blanche, Caroline, and Hattie are doing very well with the business.

Barbara Birch and her producer friend, Jerry, are back in town for a visit. Her first hope was that Terse would allow her to produce a movie based on one of his books. That did not happen. Now, Barbara is very eager to show Jerry the cast of the town's eccentric citizens, in hopes he will make a film about them. Unfortunately, their presence alludes him and he is convinced Barbara has made it up. 

Dr. Hollis Sadler is now seeing Stella Marlboro, the widow of Madison, an attorney in town. Madison was a well liked man with a predilection for the bottle. He was found one morning in his parked car in front of their home. The assumption being he died of natural causes. However, he met his untimely death at the Gentlemen's Club thanks to a woman who loathed men and a taser.

Belva, one of Harrison Wells' daughters, has divorced her husband, Culler, after she discovered he was much more partial to women's clothes than his Brooks Brothers suits. Culler became 'Colleen' and relocates in Gallagher. Haynes Duiese was smitten with Colleen from first sight. Their relationship was going very well until her inauspicious death at the Historical Society Gala at Cre Uisce Aer.

Cordelia Wells is still the matriarc of the family. Aunt Cordelia (as she is known) often can be found holding court at her table at the Tea Room during their 'Apres High Tea Time' (aka lady's happy hour.)

Quinton Gallagher Hampton IV (Wade), who owns the Q.G.Hampton Rentals and Housing Co. (where Bunny works) is doing well. He has had to occasionally offer 'aid' to Anna Belle at the Club  when the need arises. (Let's just say he has become very adept at removing the bodies of gentleman who have met their unfortunate deaths at Anna Belle's club.)

Kathleen and Jeb managed to get married despite Dixie's grand plans that they wanted nothing of. Harrell tried his best to keep Dixie in check, but even he wasn't a match for his wife's plans of a preposterous wedding cake, invitations sent in purple satin boxes, butterflies, and a haute couture wedding gown.

Meanwhile the lives of Sam, Della, Bob and Parker, Ada, Buck Beaver, Amy, Axson McDermott, Bates, Maisy Ruth, Liza, Roy, Hattie, Charlie, Chief Pyre, Cliff, Luigi, Doyle, Imogene and Joe, Irnis, Knox and Kirby, Larry, Luther, Theo, Manfield, Marcelle, Millie, Parnell, Pearl, Rayanne and 'Miss' Ella, Ed, Walter, Frank, and Grice, go on.

The tales continues.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Boone's Farm and a Bowler

Bunny was in the kitchen when she stopped running. Mike had reached the butler's pantry and opened the door. There was no point her going any further. Bunny stood back, waiting for the shit to hit the fan. 

"Here they are," Mike said calmly. "Mary Wells had the best selection of wine glasses - all fine thin crystal. Can you please carry these 2 and I'll take the other 2."

Before she knew it, Mike and Walter were in the kitchen. "You okay honey?" asked Mike. 

Trying to think quickly, she just said, "I thought I may have left the oven on and wanted to check." Since she had just prepared a green mixed salad and cold macaroni, hopefully no one would pay attention to those details.

As soon as she knew Mike and Walter were back on the porch, she opened the door to the butler's pantry. Standing there was Pervis. "Did they see you?"

"No, I didn't want to get shot. Mother would be most disappointed."

The last thing Bunny was worried about was 'Mother'. Looking around the small room she saw no where for him to hide. However, that was not the issue at the time. "I need you to leave - very quietly. You are lucky my husband didn't find you."

Bunny walked out of the pantry with Pervis behind her. She looked both ways. Not seeing anyone, she quietly said, "Now scoot." She pointed toward the kitchen.

Bunny took a deep breath and made it back to the table on the porch. As she sat down Walter asked, "Bunny, please explain to me how I am drinking a 2016 Chateau Margaux. This is some of the finest wine I have ever had." He sipped it very slowly knowing Mike had just opened a bottle of wine that retailed for over $500.

"Well, all I know is that it is red. I really like a sweet pink Chablis, not the reds everyone else wants. Heck, I still like Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. Now that is some good stuff." 

Mike just shook his head. He poured more wine into Walter's goblet and added, "To answer your question Pops - 2 words: Harrison Wells." He put the bottle down. "Bunny inherited it."

"Well, do tell, there must be a story here."

Bunny explained her relationship with Harrison. 

"So this," Walter said, waving his hand around, "was all his?"

"It was."

"He didn't have any family?"

"Oh, he did. And I'm not very popular with them."

"I guess not."

"Pops you want to see Harrison's wine cellar?" asked Mike.

"Do you mind Bunny?"

"Of course not, it is Mike's as much as mine." She laughed. "Harrison had been building his wine collection for years. The first time he mentioned his collection, and said he wanted to show me his cellar, I thought he was talking about a 'root' cellar.  Then when we went down there, it looked fancy, but I couldn't read most the labels. I do know something though - whoever Mr. Rothschild is, he must sure make good wine." 

They all laughed. Walter added, "Yes, my dear, he did make fine wine."

"But none before its time, I can add," Mike said.

Everyone laughed at Mike's take on Orson Wells' infamous comment about Paul Mason. Every one but Bunny.

"So true it is." laughed Walter.

They finished their dinner. Afterwards Bunny was in the kitchen cleaning up. Walter brought the dirty plates in from the porch. "Bunny, I just want to tell you how happy you make Mike. And, that means the world to me. He had a rough shake as a little boy."

"Oh Walter, I adore him. After Harrison's death I thought I would never find true love. But then came Mike. I'm just like a puppy in spring time - falling all over my feet and not knowing what to do with myself."

"My dear, no doubt you made Harrison very happy from everything I hear. Mike said he was an excellent businessman. I know he would not have left Ivy Lane to you on a lark." He paused. "We are so lucky to have you." He reached over and kissed her on the cheek. "God bless you."

"Well, I'm not my Mama."

"You may think that, but you are better in your own ways."

As Walter made his last comment, Bunny saw Pervis walking very carefully through the grand hall toward the back door. Trying to distract Walter, she said, "Let's go see that wine cellar."

"After you my dear." Walter indicated she go before him - toward the grand hall. 

She turned back toward him, "Let's go through the dining room, there is something I want to show you."

"Sounds wonderful. I have seen so many lovely pieces in this house."

As they started that way, Bunny saw Pervis walking down the hall to the kitchen. He must have circled around from the hall through the dining room. Thankfully, he ducked back into the butler's pantry. "Oh, I don't know what I was thinking," Bunny turned around quickly. It is in the hall after all." The 2 turned around once more and walked back through the kitchen into the hall.

Bunny noticed some portraits of Harrison's grandparents. She pointed them out and told Walter they had been painted by a well known artist. He was most impressed. After that they joined Mike and Anna Belle in the library where the stairway down to the wine cellar was. 

They made their way down the steps. When they rounded the last turn in the staircase, Walter just stopped. "Well, I've never." He continued down into the wine cellar. "This is incredible." He walked around looking at the different bottles and commenting on many of the labels.

Seeing he was so happy, Bunny said, "Walter, you are welcome to have anything in here. There is no way Mike and I will ever be able to drink it all."

Mike walked over to the far wall and opened a cabinet that revealed a glass cigar humidor. "Another thing Harrison enjoyed."

"My kind of man." Walter walked over to get a better look at the cigars. Just then there was a large thump upstairs followed by someone yelling "Yow". 

"What the heck?" asked Mike. 

"I didn't hear anything," said Bunny trying to make light of it.

"How could you have not? It sounds as if someone fell down."

Bunny quickly suggested, "Maybe something fell off a shelf, I'll run up and see," she said as she headed for the stairs.

Mike followed, "I don't think anything that falls off a shelf yells 'yow'."

They reached the top of the steps and carefully walked through the libary. Seeing nothing, they quietly made their way through the living room. Mike turned and whispered to Bunny, "Stay here, I'm going to check the hall."

Mike carefully walked out of the living room into the grand hall, trying not to make any noise. There he didn't see anyone. He made his way toward the kitchen. It was then, on the floor of the hall, he saw the bowler hat. 'What the hell', he thought as he picked the hat up.

By this time Bunny was right behind him. She saw the hat. Worse case scenarios went through her mind. 'Was Pervis still in the house? Was he gone?' 

Seeing the look of mild terror on Bunny's face, Mike gave her a hug. "It will be okay, I promise." He looked at the hat. Then he laughed. "How dangerous can someone be who wears a bowler. Only dandies wear bowlers."

"Yeah, like someone who lives with their mother," said Bunny. 


Realizing what she said, Bunny laughed weakly. "Oh, I read it in a book."

Mike put the bowler on the hall table. "Whatever. Let's get back to Pops and Anna Belle." They made their way back to the wine cellar.

"Everything okay," asked Walter.

Mike shook his head and laughed. "The weirdest thing - we didn't see anyone but there was a bowler hat on the floor in the hall. Pops, I assume that was not yours."

"No, not quite my style." He laughed, "But no body?"

Mike just smiled and looked at him. "Didn't see one. But if this was a board game, we could rule out the dinner guests in the wine celler. Maybe it was an intruder hiding in the butler's pantry." They all laughed, except for Bunny.

Monday, July 2, 2018

In the Closet

Anna Belle's relationship with Walter Pace was getting more serious. He often came to visit her at the Gentlemen's Club. It never ceased to amaze him what a good business person she was. The Gentlemen's club was a gold mine. It was obvious to him, that the members enjoyed all the amenities it offered. Anna Belle's girls were beautiful, friendly, and very professional. Anyone walking in off the street, not knowing any better, would think they had walked into a very nice men's club - and nothing else.

Walter would sit at the bar while Anna Belle made her rounds, ensuring everything was going well and everyone was happy. He  never wanted to give her up. It had been a while since he had enjoyed the company of a woman as much as did Anna Belle's. He was falling desperately in love with her.

Mike suggested to Bunny that they have Walter and Anna Belle over for dinner Thursday night. "I don't get to spend a lot of time with Pops. He is very special to me. Besides, I think he has had a very good affect on your mother."

Bunny laughed, "I know he's special but you're talking about miracle worker."

"Bunny, she is not so bad. Actually, I think she is very nice."

"She is very nice, unless she is your mother."

They discussed the dinner plans. Mike said he would call Pops. Bunny loved to entertain and she adored Pops. Maybe, he would have a good affect on her mother, as Mike said.

Thursday afternoon Bunny left work early to get things ready for dinner. She pulled out Mary's fine crystal, china, and sterling. In the butler's pantry, she found a drawer of table linens. Going through them she found a set of matching napkins and a table cloth. They fit the table on the front porch. After adding a vase of flowers from the yard, she was very happy with the ensemble.

She was in the kitchen making a salad when the doorbell rang. Wiping her hands on her apron, she turned toward the big hall. 'It is too early for Pops and Mama to be here,' she thought. 'And, the door isn't locked, so it couldn't be Mike.'

She opened the door to see a gentleman standing there. He looked vaguely familiar. His dress was a bit odd - a three piece pin stripe suit, pocket square, and a bowler, that he was holding in his hand. "'Miss' Vontese, you may not remember me - Pervis P. Mahan VI. We went to dinner a while back."

Yes, it quickly came back to her. "Oh, Pervis!" This was not good.

" 'Miss' Vontese I was talking with Mother this morning and she just made me think of you. I  had to come see you." He looked down at his hat. "Ah, shucks, I think about you a lot."

Bunny didn't quite know what to say. "Well, Pervis, you were unforgettable." As soon as the words left her mouth, she realized she was encouraging him. "Pervis, you should know, I'm married now. I'm not Miss Vontese, I'm Mrs. Pace."

Pervis was crestfallen. "Oh, dear. I knew I shouldn't have waited so long. Mother was right."

He had just gotten those words out of his mouth when Bunny heard the crunch of gravel. Someone was coming up the drive. 'Oh God', she thought, 'I've lost track of time. That must be Pops and Mama.' 
She grabbed Pervis by the arm. "You've got to come in here now."


She dragged him through the kitchen, opened the door to the butler's pantry. "You need to stay here. If my husband finds you, he will kill both of us." Obviously, she was exaggerating, Mike would find it funny. However, it would be way too difficult to explain to her mother. She turned to walk out. Before she closed the door, she turned and added, "He is a deputy sheriff and is armed at all times. Don't you make a sound!" She left and closed the door behind her.

By the time she got back to the big hall, Walter and Anna Belle had let themselves in. Anna Belle kissed Bunny on the cheek, "This is so sweet of you and Mike to invite us to dinner."

Walter gave her a hug and kiss. "We brought you this." He handed her a bouquet of flowers. Bunny thanked him and asked if they would like a drink. They moved into the den. Bunny opened a bottle of wine and poured a glass for each of them them.

It wasn't long before Mike got home. He joined them in the den. "Y'all are early. Sorry I wasn't here when your arrived."

"No worries," said Walter with a smile, "We have just enjoyed visiting with your bride."

"Well, I'm going to get dinner on the grill. I'll be right back."

"What's on the menu?"

"Grilled quail wrapped in bacon and whatever Bunny decided to serve with it."

Anna Belle spoke up, "Mike that sounds delicious. I didn't realize you cooked."

"I picked up a few things hanging around the kitchen at Chateau Belmont during the summers."

Walter laughed. "Pierre loved having Mike around." He paused. "Well that was once Mike settled down and paid more attention to learning than eating."

Once the food was ready they moved out to the front porch where they dined on the porch overlooking the river. 

Anna Belle looked at Bunny, "Sweet heart, you know I am very proud of you. I feel you finally have become your own woman."

"Why thank you Mama."

"I know I have not been the easiest of mothers."

Bunny interrupted her, "You set the bar pretty high."

Walter lifted his glass, "Here's to the Vontese women. Hopefully we can keep up with them."

"Here, here", said Mike as he took a sip of Bordeaux from Harrison's wine cellar.

Walter turned to look at Anna Belle, and continued , "And to a most enterprising woman who has made the oldest profession dignified and profitable."

They all laughed. 

"Honey," Mike said as he got up. "I don't want to hurt your feelings but this wine deserves the correct glass. I'll get some some balloon wine glasses. You need them to appreciate the bouquet. I'll be right back, they just in the butler's pantry." 

"I'll join you. I need to stand up. Getting old is a bitch." Walter stood up and followed Mike off the porch into the house. 

Bunny panicked. She quickly followed them. "Mike, I moved them. They are in the cabinet in the cellar." 

"I don't think so," he said. "I saw them in the pantry last night." Walter and Mike moved into the kitchen toward the butler's pantry.