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Reluctant Bride, Chapter 2

Lorne had chosen the Panagea Restaurant on Bay Street for his first date with Illona. It was perhaps not THE restaurant in town but the cuisine was exquisite and it was quiet and cozy. He had picked Illona up and left her off at the front door while he parked the car. On returning, he was delighted that the maître d’ had ushered her to a secluded corner and he joined her.
The waiter, Peter, hovered and they decided on sharing a bottle of red wine. Lorne never considered himself a oenophile so he took Peter’s advice. As the latter opened the wine and went through the usual ceremonies of presenting the cork pouring a tablespoon for tasting, Illona and Lorne perused the menu. Once again they relied on Peter for suggestions.
While they slowly enjoyed their lobster bisque, they batted small talk back and forth, reliving the previous evening and re-enjoying it. Then came the duckling. At a lull in their conversation Lorne dared to ask, “What about this guy Bill?”
Illona was obviously uncomfortable with the question. “What about Bill?”
“Well who is he and what does he mean to you… if that’s not too personal a question?”
He could see that Illona was blushing. Then she plunged in. “Ah, Bill. Yes, Bill. Well he used to take me out when I lived in… well, whatever, that’s beside the point. Trouble was that he wouldn’t take the hint that enough was enough. I’ll say one thing for him, he was persistent! But if you’re not found of another person, persistence is not an redeeming quality. I think I told you, he followed me down here to press his suit, I guess… Is that enough information?”
Lorne looked at her and wanted to cuddle her and take away her stress, but he continued. “Last night when I was retrieving my coat he came up to me.”
“He came up to you? And???”
“He grabbed me by the shirt front and told me in very strong terms ‘to keep off his grass!’”
“To keep off his grass!’ I’m NOT his grass,” replied a highly irritated Illona.
“I’m glad to hear that.. But that probably doesn’t solve the problem. You said he was persistent. He followed you to this city. We may not be able to shoo him away like a pesky fly. And I don’t know that I can take him on physically. He probably tops me by 60 or more pounds. He could make minced meat of me. I don’t mind trying to be a hero but I don’t relish being a dead hero.”
She gripped his hand warmly. “Don’t worry. Well, think of something.”
“I thought we could just ignore him, but I doubt that would work. He’s pretty hard to ignore. Or I suppose you could have the police charge him with stalking. But that would be long drawn out affair and probably not too satisfactory.”
She was silent for a long time. She had not let go of his hand. “I think I can handle him,” she said lamely.
Lorne looked up. “I think you’re going to have your chance. Here he comes!”
Bill must have had scouts checking her out. He came striding up the floor, all 240 pounds of him, planting each foot with delicacy of a pile driver. Distaining social niceties, he pulled out a chair, sat down, grabbed a spare glass and the bottle of wine from the cooler, poured a full tumbler, took a great gulp and swallowed. He spat in Lorne’s face. “So get this, Mr.… whatever your name is, this,” pointing to Illona, “is my grass. You’re on it. Get off, or I’ll tie you up in a very small knot and throw you over that wall.”
Illona exploded. “I AM NOT YOUR GRASS. You are not welcome here. Get lost! NOW!”
Bill turned to her with a snarl. “What you think is not important. I’m talking to this underfed kid here. I’m thinking of eating him. Waiter! Have you got any ketchup?”
Lorne stood up to face what seemed inevitable. He realized he hadn’t a hope in physical combat but, even so, he wasn’t going to flee and leave Illona with this raving maniac.
He faced the aggressor and put up his fists in what he thought might be an effective defensive stand. Bill laughed. An unpleasant sound. He brushed Lorne’s hands away with one swipe of his ham-sized hand. He drew the other back to get leverage to punch Lorne out. He showed his utter surprise, when his arm was grabbed from behind and forced into a painful arm lock. He howled in pain and caught the sight of his assailant in the mirror. It was a uniformed policeman. The cop forced him back into his chair And stood over him ready for any aggressive movement.
Bill blustered. “Who the hell are you? Damn you, I think you’ve broken my arm. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
The cop smiled grimly. “Well I could book you for disturbing the peace, but actually I came in here to ask if you owned a Ferrari with license number, F&F 1?”
Bill calmed down a bit. “Well… yes I do.”
“It’s parked on a fire route.”
Bill stood up. “I’ll move it.”
The cop interrupted. “Well, sir, there’s another small thing. We looked you up on the computer and there seems to be an outstanding warrant for your arrest.”
For the first time, Bill looked nervous. “On what charge?”
“Embezzlement.”
Stark anger, outlined with fear, reddened Bill’s face. He looked around for an escape. Two burly uniformed policemen were standing at the door. No chance to bolt.
The policeman continued. “Hands behind your back.” A quick whip with the plastic cuffs and Bill was impotent.
He wilted. He got up an walked ahead of his escort to the door. He didn’t finish his wine.
Bill looked at Illona with reverence. “Do you always travel with your guardian angel?”
Illona was sheet-white and still shaking—but steady enough to reply, “I keep him on call.”
When the kafuffle had run its course and the restaurant clientele had returned to dinning and chatting, Illona and Lorne began their let down after their fight-or-flight high. Soon they would crash into limp rags.
Lorne signaled that waiter. “Peter, after that, I think two cognacs are in order. Don’t worry about the brand, just two large cognacs—and coffee.”
Peter responded with alacrity. Illona and Lorne sat limply while they toyed with their food and sipped their snifters.
“Feeling a little better now,” asked Lorne gently squeezing her hand.
“Yes. I’m OK. But that was something, wasn’t it. I didn’t know Bill was that uptight. I feel sort of responsible for leading him on, even though I thought I was trying to turn him off. Ha! Funny how wrong you can be.”
“I know what you mean.” After a long silence while they stared into space, Lorne said, “I don’t know whether this is the right time but at least it will take our minds off what happened. I want to ask you to go to Montreal with me. I have some business there which will take a day or two and I thought you might enjoy the break and the chance to see a unique city.”
She looked up at him with as steely eyes as she was capable of producing. “Let me get this straight. Your suggesting that I go to Montreal with you for a period of time?”
“Yes.”
“No one else going with us?”
“No.”
“Is this an invitation or a proposition?”
He hemmed and hawed. “Look. I’m in love with you.”
“She wilted a bit. OK. I think you’re quite a man. In love with you? Not yet. Go to Montreal with you on a nice sexy week-end? No way.”
“Oh Illona. You misunderstand me.”
“In what way?”
“I’m not taking you to Montreal to seduce you! I want you to meet my mother.”
Her jaw dropped almost to her knees. “MEET YOUR MOTHER!!! Well, there’s a switch… Why should I meet your mother?”
“Because I think she’ll convince you that I’m not such a bad catch after all. Look. She lives all alone in quite a big house in the middle of town. Lot’s of guest rooms. We don’t have to share one. She’d never put up with that anyway. But we have a weekend or a few days or whatever to get to know each other in a family setting.”
“Well, I’ll be damned. I’ve NEVER had a proposition like this! Ummm. But it does sound sort of interesting—and safe,” she added with a smile. “When would we go?”
“Well this weekend is too close to get prepared. What about the following weekend? That will give me a chance to alert Mum. I know she will be delighted but I want to give her time to prepare. She loves to bake.”
Illona had shifted from anger to a modified delight. She took the plunge. “OK. You’re on. Will you make the travel arrangements? I’ll pay my way of course.”
“Who pays what is a minor concern. We can sort that out as we go along. I think we should go up by train, first class. That allows us to enjoy a quiet 4 to 5 hours together, see the scenery, share a good meal with wine, and arrive for the evening. How’s that sound?”
“Well, you’ve breached all my defenses. You’ve got me positively excited.”
“Good. I’ll get things in order. Come. It’s time to take you home or people will start talking about us.”
She smiled wickedly. “Oh I think it’s too late to stop the rumour mill. People’s personal stories are far ahead of where we actually are… But maybe that’s a target.”
He drove her home. At her door, he kissed her goodnight and she was tolerant enough to allow him to linger on her lips.

9 Responses to “Reluctant Bride, Chapter 2”

  1. Bill McNamara says:

    I’m hooked Lyman. I’m reading this and it’s not even bedtime! Will Lorne’s mother like Illona? Will she bake cookies? Will the train be on time? Will Bill – I’m beginning not to like that name – show up and cause trouble? Will Justin punch Bill out? More please.

  2. Libby Buchanan says:

    Fascinating so far but where do we go from here?

  3. Silvana Ness says:

    This is getting quite engrossing; it may require more than one last chapter to
    unravel – it’s a very good yarn.

    Silvana

  4. Lorna Kelly says:

    Okay, okay! What happens next?

  5. John Crossley says:

    I like the direction you’re heading Lyman,

    John.

  6. Jack Long says:

    How can you possibly keep up the intensity? Who is Bill anyway and where is he going to fit in?
    I think you’ve got a big challenge here.
    Good luck.
    Jack.

  7. Joy MacFadyen says:

    Standing by for Chapter 3!
    Cheers,
    Joy

  8. Rose says:

    I’m in for Chapter three too. Thank you Lyman.

    Rose

  9. Kcub says:

    Just catching up. Great so far!

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