If it had not been for my fiance's alcoholic cousin Mookie I feel quite sure that my daddy would still be a member in good standing at the Oconee Hills Country Club. But Mookie can't drink hard liquor. She can drink beer and wine all day and all night and not bat an eyelash, but give her a mai-tai or, God forbid, a margarita, and you are asking for trouble.
It was my rehearsal dinner, which the Jernigans were hosting, and I was the bride-to-be, so I don't believe I should have been the one responsible for keeping a grown woman and mother of two away from the margarita machine, even if she was one of the bridesmaids.
Nonetheless, I was the one standing there when Mookie went spinning out of control across the dance floor, and I was the one who got sprayed with a good six ounces of strawberry margarita. And across the front of my blue raw silk Tahari dress too.
"For God's sake," snapped GiGi, my mother-in-law-to-be. She of course had neatly sidestepped Mookie, leaving her own pale pink beaded gown spotless. "I told you not to have her in the wedding. You know how she gets."
"Keeley," Mookie yelped, lunging at me with her half-empty glass. "I am sooooo sorry. Let me help you get cleaned up."
She proceeded to dump the rest of her drink down my back.
"It's fine," I said, gritting my teeth. "Just a little spot."
Mookie's mother, who is used to this kind of behavior, snatched her up by the arm and started dragging her toward the door so she wouldn't cause any more of a scene, and all the women closed ranks around me, dabbing and fussing until I wanted to scream.
Actually, I'd been wanting to scream for several weeks now.
Enough! Enough parties. Enough presents. Enough luncheons and teas, enough sappy wedding showers, enough family and friends oohing and aahing over the perfect couple.
A.J. had had enough too. "Can't we just go somewhere and screw our brains out for a couple weeks, then come back and be normal?" he'd asked the night before the rehearsal dinner.
It had been a busy week. I'd already endured the "Sip 'n See Tea," where everybody in the county came by my daddy's house to paw over my wedding loot, and the bridesmaids' luncheon where GiGi let it be known that she thought it was awful my mama hadn't been invited to the wedding. As if I even knew where Mama had been living for the past twenty-some years.
And that was just the solo stuff. That very night A.J. and I had suffered through the "His 'n Her Barbecue Shower" given by one of his former fraternity brothers.
At the time he asked this question, A.J. was modeling the Hot Stuff! barbecue apron and padded oven mitt, which had been a shower gift from his Aunt Norma. To be perfectly honest, A.J. was naked under the apron. And he wasn't wearing the mitt where his Aunt Norma had intended.
I had A.J. backed into the corner with the barbecue tongs, and then one thing led to another, and pretty soon we were rolling around on the floor of his apartment, and my chef's hat came off along with the rest of my clothes, and the next thing you know, A.J. was having one of his attacks.
"Hee-upp! Hee-upp." His whole body arched backward. I pushed him away, not startled really. A.J. gets like that sometimes when he's, uh, in the throes.
"Breathe, baby, breathe," I instructed, slithering out from under him.
"No," he managed, between hiccups. "Don't stop, Keeley." He tried to pull me back down. "Come on. I'll be all right."
"Hee-upp! Hee-upp! Hee-upp." His body jerked violently with each hiccup. I was afraid he'd hurt himself. Hell, I was afraid he'd hurt me. Not to mention that I don't find fits of uncontrollable hiccups much of a turn-on. Not even when the hiccupper is the love of my life.
I scrambled to my feet, ran to the sink, and filled a cup with water. "Come on, A.J.," I said, helping him to his feet. "It's better if you stand up. Come on, sugar, drink some water for Keeley."
"I (hee) don't (up) want any damn hee-uppp! water," A.J. stuttered. But he took a sip anyway.
"Another one," I urged, rubbing his bare back. He caught my free hand and slid it down his belly. The man never stops trying.
"No, now," I said, giggling and moving away. He pulled me back toward him. I held out the cup. "Not until you drink all this water."
He frowned but started sipping.
"Go slower," I said. "You know it's the only thing that works."
"I know what works," he said, getting that look in his eye again. "Come back over here and rub on me again."
But I'd picked up my clothes and was already hurrying into the bedroom to get dressed.
"Hey!" he called after me. "That wasn't the deal."
I pushed the button on the doorknob. "I know," I called through the locked door. "I tricked you."
By the time he found the key to the bedroom door I was just zipping my skirt.
"Aw, Keeley," he said, his lip thrust out in that adorable pout of his. "I wanted us to do it one more time tonight."
I tried to kiss the pout away, but he wasn't having it.
"A.J.," I said, pushing his hands away from the button he was unfastening.
"Now, really. The wedding's just a few days away. I have an early morning meeting and a ton of stuff to do. I can't be staying over here fooling around with you all night."
"Come on, baby," he whispered, sliding the zipper on my skirt down while pushing my skirt up toward my waist. "Once we're married, it won't be as much fun as this. We'll be all legal and stuff."