After Mr. Lemay spoke I was beside myself. I simply couldn’t believe what I had heard.
“You mean that’s it?” I asked. I didn’t plan on it but I was loud.
Mr. Lemay stopped talking. Peter stopped talking. And that’s when I noticed that everybody in the restaurant had stopped talking and were staring at me. Everybody was staring at me like I’d grown a second head. Uncomfortable with the stares I asked Peter what was going on. He deferred to Mr. Lemay.
“Normally, when someone asks me what you and Peter did it usually comes with the understanding that the law is pretty dry, boring stuff. I know being engaged can be a rather exciting time for some people but I assure you the paperwork involved can be extremely tedious and boring. When you take all the emotion and romance out of getting married it is usually a pretty quick ceremony. Sometimes the ceremony can be very lengthy. And when the officiate, and in this case that’s me, notices people looking at their watches he or she knows the ceremony has gone on for far too long. Most wedding ceremonies are about forty to forty-five minutes long. What kind of wedding are you two hoping on having?”
After taking a drink of water I answered Mr. Lemay.
“Peter and I have talked about this at length about this and we both want a small wedding. I’m not one of those women who simply must have a fairy tale type wedding. A girlfriend of mine from my university days had a fairy tale type wedding and the marriage didn’t last five years. Another girlfriend had a small wedding and that marriage is still going strong. I’m not superstitious but I’m going with what I’ve seen work. We want a small ceremony with just a few guests.”
Mr. Lemay realized he had asked a loaded question and was politely holding his breath. When the color of his skin started to go red he let out his breath.
“Phew. For a second there I thought you were going to say you wanted one of those big ornate affairs. Between you and me the big lengthy weddings are hard on the back and knees. The bride and groom are already nervous enough but with a religious ceremony, the knees can take a real pounding. I’ll let you in on a trade secret. After a long ceremony but before the reception the bride or groom invariably makes a smart remark about that it might have been easier if they had eloped. As you already know in the province of Ontario the law requires that you apply for a marriage license before one can be issued. Once you are issued a marriage license it must be used with ninety days. Since we’re altogether right now why don’t we get some of the nitty-gritty details out the way.” Mr. Lemay pulled a small writing pad out of his pocket. “Alrighty, if you could give me your full names with your dates of birth we can start the paperwork. Let’s start with you, Cassie.”
I knew this moment would come. And it’s my own damn fault. Secrets are a real pain.
“OK, fine. Here goes.” I held Peters hand because I knew he was going to be surprised.
“Cassandra Euphemia Carter. Date of birth January 28, 1986.”
When Peter heard the name Euphemia he turned his head towards me and mouthed the name. I knew he was going to do this and mouthed the word “home”. Something told me I had some explaining to do. Mr. Lemay looked up from the pad. “You’re a Challenger baby” referring to the space shuttle that exploded 73 seconds after lift-off. Next, it was Peters turn. I didn’t expect any surprises. I knew my man.
“Peter James Christopher, date of birth May 15, 1984.”
Mr. Lemay proceeded to lay down the law.
“I’ll be in my office around eleven tomorrow morning. I’d like to see both of you there at that time. Let’s get the paperwork out of the way. Peter, you must produce a document you were sent that says you were legally divorced, and there are no impediments to getting remarried.” When I heard that I realized I had completely forgotten about this. Then Peter said something that totally surprised me. “Don’t have to worry about that. I checked on it yesterday. It’s in my safe.”
I didn’t know he had a safe. He never told me of its existence. I took a sip of water then put the glass down. I was angry that Peter had never told me of the safe. And I needed to let Peter know I was angry without it being obvious. I grabbed his hand then apologized to Mr. Lemay.
“Excuse me, Mr. Lemay. I don’t mean to be rude by interrupting you but I suddenly realized that I really need to talk with Peter. Privately.”
I held Peters’ hand and led him into an adjacent room. Once we were alone I let him know how I felt.
“When the hell were you going to tell me about this safe. I didn’t know about it. We’re engaged to be married. That means no damn secrets.” Peter apologized and told me he had the safe installed in his study.
“I got the safe after the she-devil made tracks. She doesn’t even know of its existence. We were already going through divorce proceedings. She had a nasty habit of going through mail meant for me and me alone. She was hoping to find something that would make me look really bad in the eyes of the court. When her lawyer found out what she was doing he threatened to drop the case and sue her.” Peter took a sip of water and did his best to clear his throat.
“I don’t know if this will make any difference but the combination is the same as your measurements. You know that really old Oxford dictionary?”
I nodded my head.
“That’s it. Looks like an old book, feels like an old book even smells like one. Only it isn’t.”
I couldn’t believe it. I’d dusted it and held it at least a dozen times. And it felt just like a dusty old book. Now I felt foolish for making a big production out of nothing. Without warning, I asked Peter what the combination was. He rattled off a sequence of three two-digit numbers. Those were my measurements alright. As we walked back to the table I asked him if there were any more secrets. “Nope.”
When Peter and I got home we went straight to the safe. I wanted to try opening it. We stood in front of it. I just couldn’t believe I didn’t recognize it for what it was. In front of me was a 1935 edition of an Oxford dictionary. At least it looked like that.
“It looks like an old book, feels like a book, even smells like an old book. I just can’t believe it. I even held it and still didn’t catch on. Right now I feel really dumb.” I said.
Peter did his best to sooth a bruised ego but it didn’t work. I still felt dumb.
“Don’t feel dumb. I fell for the charade lock, stock, and barrel. When I went into the store I thought all safes were cube-shaped and clunky. It never occurred to me that a safe could be anything else. Why don’t you try opening it?”
That sounded like a challenge to me. By my reckoning there were at least twenty-seven numerical combinations of three different numbers. Where would he start? After pondering the question some more I asked myself a more specific question. Where would Peter start? Would he start with my bust size or somewhere else? After analyzing the question some more, and giving myself a headache in the process, I threw caution to the wind. I went from the top to the bottom. After inputting the numbers a mechanical voice startled me.
“Hello, Cassie.” Not quite sure what was going on I looked at Peter for an explanation.
“Relax M’lady. You and I are now the only people on the Earth it will open for. It senses who is touching it and takes an air sample. It now knows your pheromones.”
I looked at Peter wondering if I was about to marry a mad scientist.
“Why does it need to know my pheromones?”
“It’s a safety measure the designer put in. In order for anyone to open it the person holding it must have the correct pheromones and enter the correct numerical sequence.”
I was like a kid in a candy store. There was something about the safe I just couldn’t get enough of. I held the safe in my left hand and input the combination with my right. I felt the surface of my left hand being sucked in a little closer as it took a little “sniff”. When I finished inputting all the numbers I could feel it unlock and was greeted by an entirely different greeting. “Hello, again Cassie.” When I peered inside I saw photographs! I love looking at pictures. And they were of Peter. But not my Peter. A teenage Peter with heavy looking glasses and a face full of pimples. As I held the pictures with one hand I turned to Peter.
“Is this you?” I asked timidly while pointing at the pictures. “Lordy, you look like a geek. All you need is the pocket protector -.” I looked at another photo. There it was! Suddenly Peter put his hand over them, took them from my hand, and put them back in the safe.
“They’re from a time I’d rather forget. The only reason I have them is to remind myself how far I’ve come. School, for me, wasn’t the best of experiences. It was there I learned other kids could be really nasty and cruel. But I do need my divorce decree and my passport. And that has an entirely different photo of me.”
Oh goody. Another photo. And since it’s a government photo it’s guaranteed to be extremely unflattering. Then Peter showed me his passport photo. This was taken shortly after the new security regulations came into effect. That meant no glasses and no smiling. Another 9/11 security feature that really didn’t do anything.
“Oh my god! You look like you’ve just been arrested for murder! You look like you could kill. What happened to your glasses? And who gave you that dopey haircut? It looks like someone stuck a bowl on your head and went to town.” I asked not really expecting much of an answer.
“Without my glasses, I was blind as a bat. Glass lenses were really heavy. And plastic lenses were almost as bad. They scratched far too easily. So when I could afford it I went under the knife and had Lasik Eye Surgery. That explains the lack of glasses. My expression is all she-devils fault. I was not in the best of moods that day and she certainly didn’t help matters. She insisted we get to the passport office early. She had this theory that if we went after 12 PM she’d catch a cold. So we got there as soon as the office opened which meant eight in the bloody morning and you already know I’m not a morning person. As for that hair cut the she-devil gave it to me. She said she graduated first in her class at hairdressing school. And before you say anything I know I had to agree to the cut. So punishment has been served.”
Peter was very spooky at times. How did he know I was going to say something about his hair cut?
Peter put his divorce decree and his passport in his briefcase. I told him my passport was in my old apartment in the city. But I put my health-card (it had a photo) and my birth certificate (it didn’t) in the briefcase and closed it. Then we went to bed.
The next morning I wanted to check Peters briefcase. Everything we needed was still in it.
Peter snuck up on me, closed the lid, and put a hand on the briefcase. The he turned and faced me.
“I think we should ask for a meeting with Dr. Willowby, Wilma, Kenny, and Trina. What are your thoughts on the matter” asked Peter. He looked like he really wanted to get this over with. He didn’t look very enthusiastic about the question at hand.
“Why do you look like you’re going to the gallows. You know I love you” I asked hoping to hear a few words of reassurance.
“I know you do. I just wish we could get married and be done with it. I want our life together to begin as soon as possible. You’re probably tempted to say “but we are together” but I want things to more permanent and legal. I want to be able to call you my wife. Right now “wife” is just a word. Since you came into my life you’ve made a really miserable time a lot more bearable and at times enjoyable. Collaborating on this book has really jump started my creative juices and I want to do something to something to say thank you. You once said you thought I was gun shy when it came to marriage. I think am to a small degree. I thought my first marriage would be my last. But right now I want to be your husband so bad I can taste it.”
Considering what I just heard I suggested Peter call Dr. Willowby. I wasn’t too thrilled when I heard “I just wish we could get married and be done with it” but I understood where it was coming from. Peter was scared this marriage would crash and burn just like his first marriage did. It wasn’t butterflies. It more like fear. There wasn’t much I could do.
“Let’s give them a call. I need a maid of honor and you need a best man. Plus you need his permission to leave the country.”
Suddenly there was a resolve in Peters’ eyes that I hadn’t seen in a really long time and it felt really good to see it again. So we adjourned to the breakfast room table. He sat on one side of the table while I sat opposite him. Peter put his phone on the table and I pressed the speed dial button for Dr. Willowby. After a few seconds, there was a click and their phone began to ring. Dr. Willowby answered.
“We’re getting married”
There was a pause. Then a hand went over the mic and there was some muffled talking in the background.
“Ah, I hate to burst your bubble but that’s old news, Cassie. You already told me.”
Aware that I had indeed said that, I told him the truth. All of it.
“I know I did, but this time I really mean it.” Peter interrupted me.
“Dr. Willowby will you please be my best man?”
Someone put their hand over the Willowby phone. More muffled chatter. A woman’s voice said, “I think they really mean it”.
“You can bet the ranch on that Wilma. Is Trina there?”I asked.
Dr. Willowby took over.
“No she-no she’s not. Why don’t you two come over tonight and you can tell us everything. If you don’t I think Wilma will die from a severe overdose of curiosity.” Just then there was the distinct sound of someone getting slapped.
I took over.
“Hey you two, play nice. Wilma, there are three main questions to consider. One is when. The second is where, and the third is where as well. Make sure his Lordship is there too. Same wine?”
“Are you trying to kill me?” laughed Wilma.
Dr. Willowby spoke again.
“Hang on…the chef is thinking.” Another slap was heard. That’s when Peter took over.
“Dr. Willowby. From a soon to be married man to a married man who should know a lot better, “Never, never, never forget that she’s the boss.”
Between giggles Wilma replied excitedly.
“Well said, Peter. Don’t you dare let him go, Cassie! Same wine…like Christmas….7 PM….Stop that!”.
…to be continued in Chapter 12D!