On Oct. 5th, a 24-hour bug forced Jennifer and Jessica to miss a garden wedding. Luckily for them, Naomi was very understanding. She assigned them another wedding that would take place in two days at the Marriott Hotel. Coincidentally, that was the hotel they were staying at. It will be an non-denominational “Great Gatsby”–themed wedding.
After Naomi hung up, Brian asked, “Illnesses don’t count, do they?”
Naomi shook her head. “No.”
“If they missed one wedding, does it count?” asked Brian.
Naomi shook her head again.
Back in Ottawa, the reruns of Downton Abbey were playing on TV. Jennifer fed herself and Jessica slices of peanut butter bread. They may feel iffy, but it was better than starving to death. On the contrary, Jessica mentioned that last year, she had a bug on the Princess Cruise from Galveston to Central America. That bug went away when the ship landed on Cozumel, Mexico. She also went to Belize City, Belize and Roatan, Bay Islands, and the Honduras. Overall, it was a successful business trip.
Jennifer felt like doing one of her favorite hobbies. She pulled her sewing box out of her suitcase. She used the needle, thread, and pink and blue beads to make two friendship bracelets.
Two days later, Jennifer and Jessica didn’t feel nauseous anymore. The Great-Gatsby themed wedding was supposed to start at noon. When Jessica woke up, she noticed a pink bracelet with her name on it on her wrist. She was very touched. She glanced at the clock that said 10:45 a.m.
“Oh, s—! S—! S—! S—! S—! S—!” exclaimed Jessica, struggling to get dressed.
She shook Jennifer and yelled, “JENNIFER, WAKE UP! WE’RE GONNA BE LATE!” Jennifer woke up and looked at the clock.
“F—! S—!” yelled Jennifer. She leaped out of the bed.
By the time they arrived at the Victorian Ballroom, it was thirty minutes before the wedding was supposed to start. Jessica thanked Jennifer for the bracelet. Jennifer was wearing her blue bracelet. For the wedding, Jennifer wore a red and black flapper dress and a red hat and carried a matching bead purse. Jessica was all in yellow. It was snowing outside and the roads were a little icy.
The duo heard someone near the restroom yelling, “OH, S—! F—! F—! F—! IT’S F—— RUINED!”
Jennifer and Jessica checked near the ladies’ room out to see what was going on. The yeller turned out to be none other than the bride herself. She was a little overweight. She was so mortified when she saw them and apologized for her profanity. She explained that she ripped the back of her dress when she bent down to pick up her bouquet. Jennifer and Jessica stifled their giggles when the bride showed them. It revealed her underwear. She happily accepted Jennifer’s offer of fixing the back of the dress quickly.
“So, what’s with the Great Gatsby theme?” asked Jessica. “Not that I don’t like it, it’s awesome. I love the book and the movies.”
“We love the book and the movie too. The Leo DiCaprio movie version, not the boring Robert Redford version,” replied the bride. Her fiance wanted to do the zombie theme, but she said it was too creepy. And he shot down her idea of the “Game of Thrones” theme because it was too frivolous and people would be traumatized.
Jennifer finished with her sewing. “There you go. Good as new.”
“Thanks, again,” said the bride.
Jennifer and Jessica introduced themselves properly.
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. I forgot. The photo shoot and the interview are after the ceremony,” said the bride.
Jennifer and Jessica nodded as one. The bride entered the ballroom, not wanting to delay the wedding a little longer.
“Between you and me, the movies and book are a little…mediocre. F. Scott Fitzgerald is overrated,” said Jennifer. “I’m more of a Dickens reader.”
At least, the wedding was lovely and tranquil. The yellow, black, and white decor was exquisitely beautiful. The male guests wore tuxes and the females wore formal and party dresses. The groom dressed up like Jay Gatsby. The groomsmen and the ushers walked down with the bridesmaids. The groom’s side wore Ivy League/Cake Eaters suits and the bride’s entourage wore flappers, colorful makeup, and 1920s style jewelry. However, the Maid of Honor walked down the aisle with a Dalmatian dog named Boomer. The dog wore a fancy golden collar. Without making fun of her, a few people laughed including Jessica. Jennifer thought it was cute that the dog was the Best Man.
When the bride walked down the aisle with her stepfather, Jessica cried a bit softly. Her face was a little moist. Annoyed, Jennifer sighed and handed her a tissue. At least, no one noticed the stitches on the back of the bride’s dress.
Jessica took one camera out of her bag. She said softly, “S—.”
“What’s wrong?” whispered Jennifer.
“My camera’s about to die. It’s the only one I bought. We were in such a hurry. I forgot to bring the others,” whispered Jessica.
“Don’t worry. I’ll go get them,” whispered Jennifer.
She slipped through the exit entrance quietly.
Thankfully, Jennifer returned with the cameras during the kiss. After the ceremony, Jessica did a photo shoot in a different room, not outside since it was too cold. Jennifer interviewed the bride, the groom, and half the attendees about the wedding.
The reception took place in the same ballroom. The bride changed into a white Great-Gatsby inspired shirt and black pants. The appetizers were shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, and finger sandwiches. The main meal was lamb, fried chicken, broiled potatoes, and green beans.
Simultaneously, two of the bridesmaids, the bride’s stepfather, and the groom’s stepmother made embarrassing, inappropriate toasts on stage. Obviously, they were all intoxicated They got off track, talking about their own miserable lives. The bride and groom covered their faces in humiliation. The groom’s stepmother tumbled off the stage. When it was time to cut the cake, the couple fed each other with the chocolate devil cake. Afterwards, everyone helped themselves with that cake with vanilla ice cream or pineapple upside down cake.
Boomer danced to will.i.am’s “Bang Bang” from The Great Gatsby soundtrack on the dance floor on his paws. In the middle, he did a backflip. Jessica recorded the whole thing. Jennifer clapped and danced a little. Some of the guests and half of the wedding entourage used their phones to record or take pictures of Boomer. The youngest bridesmaid posted a video of that on Facebook on her iPhone. She titled it, “Who Let the Dogs Out? Lol.”
An intoxicated man startled Jennifer and Jessica when he laid his hands on their shoulders. He asked them to do a threesome with him in the bathroom. They politely declined and tried to leave, but the man grabbed them by their waists. He was very persuasive using crude, seuxal language. Jennifer and Jessica struggled to get out, but he refused to let them go. He held them tightly. Jennifer elbowed him in the stomach. The drunkard released them. Jessica kicked him in the balls. He grabbed his crotch and fell on the floor like a tree that was cut down.
“That’s what you get for messin’ with us,” said Jessica.
She fist bumps with Jennifer.
Suddenly, a pair of handsome twin brothers who were in their mid-thirties, dressed in 1920s–themed party suits, entered the scenario.
“Is that guy bothering you?” asked one of them. He had a Canadian accent. A squared-shaped birthmark was above his lip.
“Yeah, he was harassing us. He wouldn’t let us go. We’re fine now. He’s obviously drunk,” said Jessica.
“He’s one of the groomsmen. We’ll take him back to his wife, wherever she is,” said the twin with no birthmark.
After that was dealt with, they went to have a drink at the bar. The twins’ names were Robert ‘Robbie’ and Ryan Hill. Ryan was the one with the birthmark. Jennifer and Jessica limited themselves to two drinks.
“Are you two here for the bride or the groom?” asked Ryan.
“Neither. We’re reporting weddings including this one for Global Travel magazine based in London, UK. I’m the temporary photographer, she’s the permanent journalist. Well, technically, I’m from Fredericksburg, Texas, she’s from London,” said Jessica talking speedily.
It was a habit of hers, being nervous and speaking too fast when first meeting good-looking men.
Ryan was impressed and Robbie was mixed.
“Must be exciting,” said Ryan.
“It is. Right now, we’re halfway through,” said Jessica.
Obviously, they could not keep their eyes off each other.
“Wait, did you say Global Travel Magazine?” asked Ryan. “We subscribe to that.”
“Correct,” said Jennifer.
“And you don’t happen to be one of the writers, Jennifer York?” asked Robbie.
“Guilty as charged,” replied Jennifer.
“I thought your name rang bells. We read some of your articles,” said Robbie. “Non-wedding trips, particularly, mostly. You write well.”
The Hills were the caterers for the wedding. They worked for a travelling catering company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Other than weddings, they also cater at birthday parties, showers, and funerals. Personally, Ryan prefers cheerful ones, not depressing ones like the funerals. Robbie did not care what party except weddings. To them, Ottawa was the third city so far. Their hometown, Vancouver was the first and London, Ontario was the second.
“In my opinion, this is one of the best weddings we’ve catered for,” said Ryan.
Oblivious to them, Robbie rolled his eyes at the term “weddings.” Jennifer raised an eyebrow. She was under the impression that Robbie was on the same page as she was when it comes to love, marriage, and weddings.
“The Great Gatsby theme is fascinating. The book, the DiCaprio movie, and the music are in my top 20 pop culture lists,” said Ryan.
“Me too!” said Jessica.
“Everything fascinates you, Ryan,” said Robbie.
“Hey, you ladies wanna go in the kitchen?” asked Ryan.
“We’re not supposed to, are we?” asked Jennifer.
“Long as you’re with us, nah,” said Ryan.
The Hills snuck the ladies into the kitchen. Luckily, no one was there. Ryan encouraged the ladies to taste some of his tiny Canadian bacon and kangaroo meat sandwiches. The ladies took a bite of those sandwiches. Their eyes opened widely. They looked like the 1970s paintings with the big eyes.
“OMG! This is so delicious!” said Jessica.
“Thank you. I made these sandwiches. Sandwiches and green beans are my favorite food,” said Ryan.
“Have you tried the desserts?” asked Robbie.
“They melted in my mouth. I thought the chocolate devil cake with vanilla ice cream was better than the pineapple one,” said Jennifer. “It was ok. No offense.”
“None taken,” said Robbie. “We changed the dessert menu because we ran out of nuts for the butter tarts.”
“Good. We hate nuts,” said Jennifer.
“I’m allergic to all kinds of nuts. Ryan’s allergic to pepper,” said Robbie. “Ryan has to cater another party tonight. Would you ladies like to hang out? There’s a good pub called Maple Leaf nearby.”
Jennifer looked at Jessica. “You up for it, Jess?”
“I think I’ll take a raincheck. Thanks,” said Jessica yawning.
“Suit yourself,” said Robbie.
After the duo emailed Naomi the Great Gatsby piece at the Marriott, Jessica plopped herself onto bed. Jennifer changed clothes, reapplied makeup on, and walked on her way to Maple Leaf. The snow was drizzling. The atmosphere was cold as ice. Oblivious to the world, she spinned around feeling like she was in a snow globe.
Only a few more weddings to go. Bam! I’m done. Then, I’ll go back to the way things were. For the next article, no weddings. thought Jennifer.
“Hey,” said a voice behind her.
Startled, Jennifer stopped on her tracks. She was relieved that it was only Robbie. He was in casual clothes.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare ya,” said Robbie.
“No, it’s my fault, I was in my own little world,” said Jennifer. “The weather made me spin.”
She and Robbie headed down to the Maple Leaf. They had a drink or two.
“The receptions are more fun than the ceremonies,” said Jennifer. “I have to report on other people’s nuptials whether I like it or not. My anti-romance views don’t matter.”
“We’re on the same page,” said Robbie. “I have to set aside my personal bull— at weddings and kids’ parties and just do my job.”
When their order of poutine arrived, they shared it.
Robbie added, “True. Weddings suck. They’re crazy, stupid, expensive. What’s it worth for? Single life saves you the stress from all that bull—. Marriage lacks freedom and ruins everything. You don’t have time to explore your passions, travel, etc. What’s the point in getting hitched? It’s not like the old days where you have to get married and have kids. There are other options these days. Some people are happier being single. Sometimes, the person you marry or about to turns out to have a dark side. And speaking of children, don’t get me wrong, I like kids, only when they’re polite and courteous, not spoiled brats. I just don’t think I’m parental material.”
“Tell me about it,” said Jennifer.
“Three years ago, the day I called off my engagement, I was relieved. I stopped trusting women, no offense. She’s been screwing around behind my back. When Ryan’s ex-wife broke his heart two years ago, it surprised me that he still believes in love,” said Robbie.
“Before I met Jessica, she lost her trust in men after she left her abusive husband. Then, she gave romance another chance,” said Jennifer. “Did you notice that she and Ryan could not keep their eyes off each other at the reception?”
“Love at first sight,” said Robbie sarcastically.
“Ryan’s not going to break her heart, is he?” asked Jennifer.
“No, he’s decent. Trust me,” said Robbie.
He was very non-judgmental when Jennifer told him about her two previous engagements that didn’t pan out and her failed novel-writing career.
They played pool, crossword from his book, and danced to rock music from a cover band. Jennifer thought it was so funny that Robbie turned out to be a clumsy dancer.
When they left the pub, Robbie recognized a middle-aged man acrossed the street. He said it was the critic who gave him a negative review for his work at an 18-year-old birthday party in Toronto a month ago. That particular critic said Robbie’s kangaroo burgers were bland and insipid while other critics said they were scrumptious.
Suddenly, a metaphorical light bulb lit above Robbie’s head. He gathered up snow to make snowballs.
“Oh no, no, no, no! Don’t even think about it! Robert!” said Jennifer. “Christ, you’re being childish.”
Robbie shushed her and nodded towards her. “Get behind me!”
Jennifer scoffed and shook her head. They hid behind a bush. He leapt up, threw a snowball at the critic like a baseball pitcher, and laid low. He giggled silently and gave one snowball to Jennifer. Jennifer leapt up, threw it at the critic, and laid low. They made a couple more snowballs and threw them at the critic when he was not looking. They laid low while the critic looked around. He shrugged and mumbled, “Kids.” He left.
Robbie made sure the coast was clear. He walked Jennifer back to her hotel.
“I know it was childish, but he deserved it,” said Robbie.
“At least, there were no cops around. If my boss was here, I’d throw snowballs at her only if she took things too far. She’s a total b—-, but that’s the way she is,” said Jennifer.
“On a scale of one to ten, how bad is she?” asked Robbie.
“Around seven or eight,” replied Jennifer. “Someday, I’ll find a new job with a nicer boss or start my own magazine. I don’t wanna work for that witch for the rest of my life. I’ve been working for her for five years. I ask myself, ‘when is the right time for that?'”
“The time is never right for anything,” said Robbie. “Sometimes, you have to be patient for good things to happen when you least expect them. You can’t rush into them.”
Jennifer tripped over a hole on the icy pavement. Robbie grabbed her, preventing her from falling.
“Whoa, careful!” said Robbie.
“Thanks,” said Jennifer.
They gazed at each other’s eyes. There was a spark between them.
“You ok?” asked Robbie releasing her.
“Y-yeah, I’m fine,” said Jennifer. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” said Robbie.
Jennifer blushed. “I uh…I gotta head back to the Marriott. So, I’ll see you later.”
“Bye!” said Robbie.
She headed back to the Marriott on her own. Robbie stared at her butt. He slapped his forehead and shook his head. He thought, What are you doing? Get over yourself! She’s just a fling and nothing more. Even though she is hot.
Jennifer headed to the bathroom in her room and shook it off. She didn’t notice that Jessica was not there.
She thought. Dear God! What am I doing? Am I losing my mind over this gorgeous guy? Bloody h—! Get over him, you idiot! He’s just some bloke I met. A fling! Nothing more! Remember, Jennifer, you do not need a man. You do not need a man. You do not need a man. You’re better off alone. Alone and free! No matter how hot he is. Doesn’t matter if he’s a good apple. Maybe he doesn’t need a woman. Frankly, I wonder…does he now?
Meanwhile, Jessica and Ryan walked around the hall. Turns out the party Ryan was supposed to cater was cancelled. Jessica felt like taking a walk after her nap and she happened to bump into Ryan in the hall.
While walking around, Jessica and Ryan realized that other than they’re avid readers, they both loved Clue board game, all types of movies except horror, all kinds of music except rap & funk, travelling the world, friendly animals, and optimistic views on romance, marriage, and family stuff. They mentioned their divorces. Ryan felt sorry for Jessica when she told him about her past. His marriage ended because he and his ex-wife married too young. They grew up in different directions. He would love to start a family someday, but only with the right woman.
He changed the subject. “So, what’s Jennifer’s deal?”
“Like your brother, she doesn’t believe in marriage. She’s been engaged twice, but never walked down the aisle. She’s a little unpredictable sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, she’s cool once you get to know her. She’s a good partner….and friend,” said Jessica. “Our boss is the Wicked Witch of the West. Luckily, my job is only temporary.”
“When this is all over, what are you gonna do then?” asked Ryan.
“Find a permanent job, I guess. I don’t know where. With the American economy recovering slowly and all—
She was interrupted by loud sex noises from the suite room. Ryan kneeled down to listen. He smiled.
“Isn’t that rude?” whispered Jessica.
“Not if they know we’re here. It’s not like we’re perverts or something,” whispered Ryan.
Jessica looked around. Luckily, no one else was there. “True. This is so awkward.”
Ryan shushed her. The lady sounded like a yodeler. Jessica thought it might be the newlyweds. After listening for a few minutes, she scampered off. Ryan followed her.
“Sorry you heard that,” said Ryan.
“At least, we didn’t walk in on them. That’d be so weird and awkward on their wedding night. Another worst case scenario: they open the door and we get caught eavesdropping,” said Jessica.
“You’re telling me. Lol,” said Ryan.
Jessica checked him out, admiring his good lucks and cute dimples.
God, he’ s so gorgeous. He’s definitely a good apple. I wanna sleep with him now. No, no, not yet! We just met. Get over it, Jessie! Do a little more background checking first. thought Jessica.
They stopped at her room.
“Well, this is my room,” said Jessica. “It was uh…nice meeting you. I had fun.”
“Me too,” said Ryan. “I hope we see each other again. So…goodbye.”
Later, Jennifer and Jessica played Clue on Jessica’s bed. Sometimes, Jessica brings the board game with her whenever she’s board.
“They’re not bad apples,” said Jessica.
“It’s obvious to me that you and Ryan fancy each other,” said Jennifer.
Jessica blushed. Her face was red as a beet. “I’ll admit that he is quite charming. Not so intimidating. We have good chemistry.”
Jennifer took her turn on the game.
“Which Hill brother do you like? Ryan or Robbie?” asked Jessica.
“Robbie,” said Jennifer. She clasped her mouth. It slipped out of her mind.
“I knew it! You like him!” said Jessica. She teased in a sing-a-long. “Jenny likes Robbie. Jenny likes Robbie. Jenny and Robbie sitting in the tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”
Jennifer blushed. “Shut up! He’s just a hot stranger I met. I have a lot of flings during my travels.” Jessica gave her a weird look.
“Ok, yes, he’s nice, cute, interesting. He does…beguile me a little. But I’ll get over it. We probably won’t see each other again,” said Jennifer.
Jessica shrugged. She told Jennifer what she and Ryan accidentally overheard. Jennifer spit out her water.
“No way! That is so hot!” said Jennifer.
After the game, Jennifer and Jessica googled Robbie and Ryan on their computers. She tried to hide her disappointment when she learned on Facebook that Robbie was engaged to another woman.
“Forget about him. He was probably just some creep trying to get into your pants. A bad apple he was,” said Jessica. “At least, Ryan’s available. And he has a clean slate.”
“At least, Robbie and I didn’t hop in bed,” said Jennifer.
“That’s the understatement of the year,” said Jessica. “I wanted to sleep with his brother. But I…chickened out. I mean I barely knew him.”
Later, Jennifer did Pilates while Jessica was watching The Wedding Planner on HBO.
Jennifer tried to tell herself, You don’t need a man. You don’t need a man. You don’t need a man. You’re already happy enough as it is. Forget about that liar.
After the movie, they binged-watched Orange is the New Black on their tablets.