Chapter 5

Wendell changed the subject to keep the ride stress-free. The two proud parents talked about Amanda's success at the internet startup and Ethan's promises as a college athlete. Wendell also updated Connie on some of the family news on his side so she'd be able to say the right thing to the cousins and the various aunts and uncles in attendance.

"If they even remember me or want to speak to me," she said.

"We have someone addicted to pain meds. Another just came out. We have an Uncle who got fired for sexual harassment. We have another relative facing gun charges," Wendell said. "I don't think too many people are going to be too concerned about you!"

"And you have the normal family!" Connie said lightly.

Wendell had little trouble finding the five star luxury hotel along the Charles River.

"I have no business being here," Connie said when she saw the expensive hotel.

"Pretend you won a trip on Wheel of Fortune," Wendell said.

Somebody drove off with their car and somebody else took their luggage as they walked into the granite lobby to check in, Connie looking like she was Dorothy landing in Oz.

Wendell checked them in and said hello to a few relatives he recognized in the lobby before leading Connie to the elevators. The doors opened and there stood Herm Charleton, the man who was about to marry Wendell's mom.

"Wendell!" He was a big man with a booming voice, a cigar in his mouth.

"Hi Herm," Wendell replied. "This is Connie."

"Well, Hello Darling!" Herm replied, giving Connie an unexpected bear hug. "Welcome to Boston!"

"Thanks," she said, caught off guard.

"Helen is going to be tickled pink knowing you're here!" He said with enthusiasm.

"I'm the ex-wife, just so you know," Connie felt compelled to note.

"Hey, I've got two ex-wives," Herm let her know. "Well one's dead so I don't suppose she counts as an ex. But don't worry, it's not as scandalous as it sounds."

They were standing in the hallway with their luggage listening to Herm ramble on.

"I was married to Sweet Polly for forty-two years," he said proudly. "Dear woman, best wife ever. But she died in my arms and in my grief I married one of my ditsy employees thirty years younger and that turned out to be a pretty stupid thing to do so I divorced her and then I met the most amazing woman in the world whom I love dearly -Wendell's mom - and I get another chance at happiness. Ain't that great?"

"Yes, it is," Connie said.

"She's a lovely lady and we're grateful to have found love and companionship again at this late stage of our lives so here's my advice to you, ex wife - it's only weird if you let it be weird. Who cares what other people think as long as you're happy?"

"Well, I..."

"So you have a great time, enjoy our wedding, and don't you listen to nobody but those who matter. And thanks for coming!" He gave her another hug and then pushed the elevator button.

"Thanks, Herm," Wendell said. "Good luck and enjoy the ceremony."

"Without a doubt," he said as the elevator doors closed on him.

"See?" Wendell said to Connie with a grin. "It's going to be great!"

Wendell led Connie to their room. He opened the door and she stepped into it with her mouth hanging open when she saw all the comforts, luxuries, and attractions.

"Oh My God!" She said. "How much did you pay for this?"

"Don't worry about it," he said. "It's on Pat Sajak!"

The room offered a lovely view of the city and Connie stood at the window for the longest time admiring the scenery. Wendell relaxed on the bed clicking through the television channels and it was almost as if they had never divorced and they were in town for a family wedding as a couple who had been together for twenty-five years, even with the two queen sized beds in the room.

Connie eventually excused herself to take a long bath and then she spent time getting ready. She looked stunning when she came out of the bathroom dressed and with her make up on.

"You look great," Wendell told her.

The ceremony was held in one of the specialty rooms on the top floor with a breathtaking view of the skyline. Connie socialized with family members she hadn't seen in years. The cousins treated her like one of their own and Wendell's sister Lisa avoided all controversy by being gracious, polite and friendly.

When the bride entered the room, she immediately crossed to where Connie was standing and gave her a meaningful and heartfelt hug, thanking her for coming.

"Well thank you for inviting me," Connie said.

"You probably thought I was crazy," Helen laughed.

Connie hadn't seen her former mother in law in years but she was impressed at how great Helen looked, wearing a modest pink dress, her gray hair styled in a simple arrangement.

"Well, we only live once, right?" Connie smiled.

"There you go!" Helen laughed.

It was a low key yet beautiful ceremony with a distinguished older gentleman performing the service with reassuring and uplifting words, speaking about the importance of family, and the gift of finding love again no matter what the circumstances.

Amanda and Ethan sat with their parents for the ceremony and they were indeed a family again, at least for the moment while a string quartet played in the background.

The group adjourned to one of the ballrooms on the lower floors for the reception which was fit for a King. Herm's family was happy that he was happy and Connie enjoyed reconnecting with people she hadn't seen in years, most of whom treated her like a long lost Sailor having returned from a great voyage.

The buffet food spread was something seen at the Academy Awards. There was a humorous Disc Jockey playing the music with plenty dancing well into the night.

Connie and Wendell took their son Ethan to the airport so he could get back to his team in Illinois, giving him hugs and kisses during their airport farewells.

"You know, I shouldn't say this, but it was really great seeing you two together having a good time," Ethan told him in front of the security gate.

"It was great seeing you seeing us have a good time!" His mother laughed, giving him another hug and kiss.

Wendell shook his son's hand goodbye and the two parents watched their son go through the security process and then disappear down the hallway toward his gate.

"I wish he wasn't so far away," she sighed. "And now Dax will be gone too."

"Well, at least it's Parris Island in South Carolina instead of San Diego," Wendell said. "That's a little closer. And it's only twelve weeks."

"Yeah, but then who knows where he'll end up?"

"Isn't that true of all of us?" Wendell asked as they left the airport. "Tell you what. We'll go down for his boot camp graduation."

"You'd do that for me?" She asked with surprise.

"When he ships out, why don't you move back in at the house?" He suggested. "We can empty out your place, fix it up, and sell it for more money than you'd get now."

"I couldn't possibly ask you to do that," she said. "I made my bed and I have to sleep in it."

"I have beds," Wendell told her.

They drove back to the hotel - the party was still in full force, but it was mostly the younger cousins and other young people and the bride and groom had already retired for the evening so, after spending a few quality moments with Amanda and some of the cousins, Wendell and Carrie went to their room.

It had been a long and exciting and emotional and exhausting day. Connie absentmindedly stripped out of her dress, almost as if she had forgotten where she was and who she was with and just like that she was walking into the bathroom naked and Wendell followed her to the door, watching as she stood at the sink brushing out her hair.

"You're naked in front of me?"

She looked at him in the mirror. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

He stepped up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing the back of her shoulder. "Too long," he whispered.

"Are you really willing to just forget the last twenty whatever years?" She asked, staring at him in the mirror.

"Yes," he said plainly. "Are you willing to try again?"

She turned to face him, staring into his eyes. "Will you really save me this time?" She asked.

"Yes," he promised.

She leaned in and kissed him. "I believe you," she said.

"Come to bed with me," Wendell requested.

"You again?" She asked with a smile.

"Blame my mother," Wendell said, lifting her up in his arms and carrying her to the bed as if he was carrying her over the threshold - again.