Below is an excerpt from His Last Wish, book 2 of the Sapodilla Resort & Spa series.
This contemporary Caribbean novel is available for pre-order and, for a limited time, it is only 99¢ until it’s release day of November 15th. Take advantage of this deal by clicking the following links: Amazon (US), Amazon (CA), and Amazon (UK).
As sunlight filtered through cotton soft white clouds drifting lazily across an impossibly blue sky, Rushawna Nicholas shook her head. The wedding coordinator of the Sapodilla Resort and Spa could have sworn it was going to rain. Heavy grey clouds had set up in the East that morning, promising a downpour that would have either postponed the planned outdoor wedding or sent it indoors.
“Perhaps we can still have it,” Rushawna had considered as she had gone into the bathroom, flicking on the light as the morning sun had yet to fight through the clouds that blanketed the island of Redonda. But as she had stepped into the honeyed golden light an hour later, Rushawna watched the wall of rain silently travel north.
“But how?” she had asked the groom after pulling him aside from where he had stood in a gazebo decorated with tulle and bold tropical flowers.
Kwame Bembridge had simply smiled and said, “Algorithms.” His attention had soon been redirected as he had seen the string musicians raise their instruments.
To this, Rushawna had nodded although she didn’t understand his puzzling response. But it hadn’t mattered as the resort’s IT tech had helped her out on many occasions. And if some of the things he would say didn’t make sense, it didn’t matter. And so, the wedding planner had scurried to her position, just in time to see his bride step onto the footpath that led to the Gazebo.
“Algorithms,” Rushawna now mused as she pulled her gaze away from a sky that ensured that the rest of the wedding was at an ideal temperature, ensuring the bride was stunning, not sweaty. She looked across at the string quartet that was playing a playful soca melody. Perhaps I can include this in our wedding package, she thought, making a mental note to ask one of the musicians for the number of the director of Villa d’Oro.
In that instant, she caught sight of Frederick Carlson who had come to see the union of two of his employees. Rushawna dashed to catch up with him. Although having a string quartet play at the wedding had been the groom’s idea. Well, many of the ideas had been at Kwame’s requests. It didn’t hurt to try convincing the resort owner to have the quartet added to the Sapodilla’s offerings.
Focused on Mr. Carlson, Rushawna was not aware that someone was focused on her. Assured that the pastel whirlwind of a woman wasn’t paying attention to her, Aliza Bradshaw snatched up a place card and replaced it with another, and placed the place card with her name at a round table that seated six. Two women who were already occupying the table shook their heads.
“What?” Aliza asked in mock innocence.
“What is wrong with that seat?” the older of the two who wore a large green hat that had to be from the Purple Iguana Boutique.
With a scoff and a roll of her eyes, Aliza muttered, “And sit with Orna and Raquel? You know all those two are going to do is talk people business. And Maynard, he’s no better although he acts so holier than thou since he start going to church.”
“Wait,” the younger woman looked across. “When since Maynard start going church?”
Aliza eyed Ticia Lake, “Couple weeks now, why?” She leaned in and motioned for her coworker to do the same.
“And you say those two gossip,” Simone King tsked.
Ignoring her, Aliza raised an eyebrow at Ticia.
“Well,” Ticia sat back and scanned the dining room slowly filling with guests. “You know the girl in activities…”
“That gyal,” Aliza balked and sat back. “That one might go to church every Sunday, prayer meeting, women’s fellowship, and whatever, but she wutless like the rest of the hotel hot gyal. I wouldn’t be surprised if husband she looking for and Maynard doesn’t know a quarter of what he getting into.”
“And she don’t know what she getting into with Maynard,” Simone muttered more to herself than to the others.
“Oh?” Aliza leaned in while Ticia’s wandering gaze returned to the older woman.
With a tsk, Simone shook her head. “There is nothing wrong with wanting a husband,” she peered at Aliza over the low floral arrangement. “In fact, didn’t you have your eyes on a certain somebody?”
Despite meeting the gaze of the bar supervisor, Aliza’s eyes grew hard and her smile leaked away as Ticia let out a whoop.
“Well,” the tour desk operator sat back, remembering the person in question. He did look good in that suit, and not once Aliza had affirmed that it should have been her in the white dress standing beside him. But it’s not the first time that that little slut got what was rightfully hers.
She recalled the boy in third form who only had eyes for the now bride. “We can’t always get what we want,” she aimed for lighthearted but even to her ears, it was as hollow as the bamboo growing on the property.
“Hey,” an enthusiastic greeting broke the tension and a white-clad Belinda Jefferies now Bembridge came to a stop at their table. Looking from one to the other of the women seated, she beamed and they were all reminded of why they were there, to begin with.
“I’m so happy that you all came,” she bit into her nude-colored lips, looking more grateful than happy. “It means a lot to Kwame and me, to have you here for our big day,” she rested her left hand on Simone’s shoulder, her diamond ring catching a ray of sunlight that had found a crack in the clouds.
“Of course, dear,” Simone patted her hand as she looked up at her. “Thank you for having us,” she smiled at the bride.
“Hey, I wouldn’t have missed it,” Ticia cooed, although everyone knew she was there for the food. “And girl those vows, they almost made me ruin my makeup.”
“Yeah?” Belinda gave her a nervous smile. “I was afraid mine was… cringey.”
With her attention on Ticia, Belinda didn’t see Aliza roll her eyes and nod as she pursed her lips. But when the bride looked her way, the tour desk operator was giving Belinda her version of a happy-for-you smile.
“What did you think?”
“It was good,” Aliza settled on. “So now you have the rings, I guess we’ll soon hear that you with child,” her teeth glittered between her matte red lips. And her smile seemed to grow as Belinda’s inner light dimmed.
“Well,” the bride looked down at the table before she looked up but not at Aliza but at someone in the distance behind her wedding guest. “We plan to take some time just for us. You know,” her eyes lowered to meet Aliza’s unrelenting gaze. “Get used to living together,” Belinda tried to smile, but it wasn’t the same as when she first came to the table.
“Bey!” hearing the name, all four women turned to the direction from which the call came to where Kwame was motioning Belinda over. He was standing with Mr. Carlson, the wedding photographer a few feet away.
“I better get going,” Belinda’s smile warmed, melting away the sadness that had crystallized. “Mr. Carlson isn’t staying for the reception so I better thank him for coming before he leaves. Thanks again for coming,” she said before hustling over to her husband’s side.
Once she was out of earshot, Simone snipped, “Why you go say that for?” Her eyes narrowed as she glared at Aliza whose back was to her as she watched the photo taking.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Aliza drawled, eyeing the silky t-strap dress with a buttery cowl that embraced the other woman’s breast and hinted at her cleavage. It made the usually dowdy accounts clerk look ravishing. That should have been me, she mused. Not in that, though, she visualized the wedding dress she had cut out of Oprah Weddings.
“You know what I’m talking about,” Simone hissed, the feather on her hat, bristling with her disdain.
“What are you talking about?” Ticia looked from one woman to the other. Although the three women were on friendly terms, they worked in different departments and had started work at the Sapodilla at different times with Ticia, a front desk agent, coming in last.
“Go on,” Simone threw at Aliza. “Tell her.”
Turning around ever so slowly, the red-lipped woman sat back in her chair and glanced at Ticia before meeting Simone’s angry eyes. With a chupse, “He don’t want any children.”
“What?” Ticia sat up and looked to Simone for confirmation. When the older woman nodded, the young woman looked across at the newlyweds shaking hands with Mr. Carlson. “What? He have children already?”
“Not that we know of,” Simone sighed as she followed Ticia’s gaze.
“And she doesn’t want them?” Ticia pulled her gaze away as Belinda turned to Kwame and stole a kiss. The receptionist looked to Aliza who shrugged her shoulders. Then to Simone who met her gaze before she looked down at her wedding ring.
“I don’t know her like that,” the older woman seemed to be struggling with the words. In a flash, she remembered the birth of her two kids and felt the pain of her three miscarriages. “She may be one of those women who don’t want children,” she looked up at Ticia and by the look in the young woman’s eyes, they both knew that the bride was not such a woman.