Authors: Tamar Myers
.J. has no father, and rather than choose among her myriad Shelby cousins, she asked the Rob-Bobs to give her away. They were, of course, happy to oblige.
It was at C.J.'s rehearsal dinner at Blossom's that I first met Rob's mother. I was standing in the line for the ladies' room when she suddenly appeared behind me.
“Are you the famous Abby?” she said.
“Excuse me?” Then instantly it dawned on me that this was yet another Charlestonian who'd seen my picture in the paper, thanks to Aida. pint-size hero saves the day, the headlines in the
Post and Courier
screamed. That alone made me mad, as C.J. deserved equal billing. At any rate, I was trying very hard to put that trying experience behind me, but there were still folks who just had to express their admiration or, inexplicably, wanted a celebrity to acknowledge their exis
tence. “If a celebrity knows my name,” one woman confessed, “then I know I'm someone too.”
“Guilty as charged,” I told Rob's mother, then added quickly, “of being Abby, that is. Is there something you'd like autographed?”
She seemed startled by that. “Should there be?”
“Ma'am, I don't supply the paper, and I'm not even sure I have a pen with me. And just so you know, I don't sign on either skin or undergarments.”
“I don't want your signature!”
I forced a smile. “Well, if you'll excuse me, thenâ¦”
“I'm Rob's mother. Mrs. Goldburg.”
Of course she was. She looked just like him, except that she was beautiful, whereas he was handsome. But the same features served them both well.
“It's nice to meet you,” I said with enthusiasm born of embarrassment.
“Abby, could we talk?”
“Sure. Are you at the dinner? I mean, I didn't see you. If you are, maybe right afterâ”
I felt like I'd been given a royal command. Since Blossom's boasts a lovely courtyard, replete with splashing fountain, I led her outside. She launched into her agenda immediately.
“You know that my son is gay.” Her voice rose barely enough to make it a question. Could she be another secret Canadian?
“And, of course, you are aware that he lives with a young man from Cleveland.”
“Yes.” Bob hails from Toledo, but there was no point in correcting her.
“Abby, you know my son well. What does he see in this man?”
“WellâuhâI think they complement each other. Bob is a bit uptight, perhaps a bit obsessive-compulsive, and Rob isâwell, you knowâalmost perfect.”
“But Abby, Rob told me that his roommate had been married once. What if that means he's not really gay? My son could be hurt if that young fellow decided to go straight again.” She sounded hopeful that it would happen.
I'd kept my promise to Bob, by the way, and had been there when he broke the news of his failed union with a woman to the real love of his life. Rob was understandably hurt that his partner had withheld such an important detail of his past, but soon forgave him. One thing I knew for sure: Bob would “turn” straight the same day Tom Cruise turned gay.
“People are born either straight or gay,” I said.
“It's not something one chooses. Who would choose to be discriminated against, and hated, their entire life? Yes, Bob was married. Like a lot of gay people, he got married in a desperate attempt to conform to society's expectations.”
“Maybe. But still, this Bob character”âshe shudderedâ“Abby, he cooks things I never even heard of. Last night he made alligator aspic followed by kudu croquettes. What the heck is kudu? I was afraid to ask.”
“I think it's a type of antelope. They raise them on game ranches in Texas these days. But strictly speaking, ground antelope meat would be a burger, not a croquette. Bob doesn't like to use the B word. Sounds too plebian for him. Besides, he likes his food to alliterate. What did you have for dessert?”
“Quail egg custard. Bob said it took a dozen eggs per serving. I think I ate about an egg's worth.” She shuddered again. “Well, on the bright side, I won't have to work hard to keep weight off.”
“I hear you. But you're going to be here only a couple of weeks anyway, right?”
“You're quite wrong, my dear. I plan to make Charleston my home.”
Any thoughts of having to use the powder room went poof from my mind.
“You like it here, don't you?”
“Yes. But I have a career to keep me busy, and my own homeâI meanâare you thinking of buying your own home here?”
Buy a home? Darling, why on earth would I do that?”
“Oh, so you plan to rent a condo. I see. Well, I suppose that does have its advantages. Upkeep on a house and yard are time-consuming. There is no denying that.”
Her perfectly applied lips parted in a brief smile. “Now I see why my Robby finds you so amusing. Darling, I plan to live with the boys, of course.”
“Don't sound so shocked, dear. Rob is my son, after all. And this Bob fellowâwell, I'll just have to make do with him, won't I?”
As fate would have it, the object of her disdain passed the window that looked out into Blossom's charming courtyard. Mrs. Goldburg's back was to the glass, and she couldn't see Bob grimace and shrug.
I risked a wink, which thankfully appeared to go unnoticed. Little did the woman know that I had just declared war on her. What fun it would be to join forces with my buddy from Toledo to drive
her crazyâor, at the least, out of the Rob-Bobs' nest. Yes sir, saving Bob's sanity was going to be my next big project.
“Well then, Abby, I guess we're in agreement.”
“You'll never know just how much,” I said. “Welcome to Charleston.”
The gods and goddesses of Charleston smiled down on C.J.'s wedding; the day was sunny and clear and remarkably cool for late spring. It was Toy's day too, of course, but by the way she carried on, you would have thought it was Mama's.
“Are you sure it looks all right this time, dear?” she said, fussing with her corsage for the millionth time.
“Mama, if you don't stop, you won't have any flowers left, only ribbon. Everyone's going to think you stuck a Christmas bow on your dress.”
“But Abby, these aren't flowers, they're dandelions. Who on earth chooses dandelions for their wedding?”
“Our beloved C.J., that's who. She claims it's an ancient Ledbetter custom, dating all the way back to Richard the Dandelion-heartedâdon't askâand that breaking this custom would bring bad luck to the entire clan. But you have to admit, it was a cute idea to have the flower girl blow apart
the puffy seed balls as she walks down the aisle, instead of dropping rose petals.”
We were standing just outside the bridal room of Grace Episcopal Church, that beautiful Gothic-style church to which Mama belongs, and where she prays that someday I will be a member as well. I'd taken a peek into its awesome sanctuary, and had been stunned to see that not only was it full, but ushers were setting up chairs in the vestibule. It seemed like all of Shelby was there, and half of Charleston. I was pleased to see that my two much-loved children, Susan and Charlie, had already taken their seats and appeared to be anticipating the moment when C.J. would officially become their aunt.
“Mama, you need to go downstairs so the usher can walk you to your seat. It's time for the show to begin.”
Mama nodded. Thank heavens her eyes were dry now. She'd cried so many tears since getting up that morning that I'd made her drink Gatorade to replace her electrolytes.
“Tell C.J. I love her,” she said. “And remember to stay away from that goat, or she'll eat your bouquet.”
“She's not a goat, Mama. Besides, I happen to think Zelda Ledbetter is very pretty.”
“Well, I do like the ribbon in her beard.” Mama gave me a kiss. “Pass that on to C.J., dear. And tell her to crack a rib.”
TAMAR MYERS is the author of twelve previous Den of Antiquity mysteries:
Larceny and Old Lace
Gilt by Association; The Ming and I
So Faux, So Good
Baroque and Desperate
Estate of Mind
A Penny Urned
Nightmare in Shining Armor
Splendor in the Glass
Tiles and Tribulations
Statue of Limitations
. She is the author of the Magdalena Yoder series, is an avid antiques collector, and lives in the Carolinas.
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PLENDOR IN THE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
THE CANE MUTINY
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