Today we’re back to Donna and her slimebag fiancee, Stephen.
Donna Corliss was happy to hear from Stephen on a Friday night at six—Spokane time. It meant she wasn’t the only one at home on a weekend party night.
After a few minutes of pleasantries, Stockton got to his point.
“Donna, have you had the wedding invitations printed yet?”
“No. They’ve been designed, but the order is being placed next week. Your mom has just been delightful in working with me on all these details.”
“I’m glad to hear that you and mom are getting along so well, and I don’t want you to take what I’m about to tell you in the wrong way.”
Corliss sat down, frozen in dread.
“Yeah . . . ” she said.
“I’m afraid we’re going to have to postpone the wedding.”
“Postpone? Postpone? Stephen, what do you mean? Do you really mean postpone—or cancel?”
“I said postpone and I mean postpone,” he said angrily.
I’ll save you any more of that for the moment. The issue at hand is Peter’s decision to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, something Stephen says he heard from his dad, even though Peter hasn’t formally filed the paperwork yet. He tells Donna that it is “not appropriate for me to be married to a woman whose case is coming before the Supreme Court” and that they need to call the engagement off too, just temporarily until this case is over. I had thought Stephen was being all interested in appearance as was his want, but I’d forgotten something.
“Just listen to me. If my boss knew that I was engaged to a woman who’s (sic) cert petition was before the court and I didn’t tell him, eh’d make my life miserable. He’d probably even fire me.”
“He would do that?”
“Justice Jesse D. Rose would most definitely do that. But if we are not engaged or married when the case is filed, there is a very good chance that I would get assigned the case to screen it for him.”
What. Not only is recent law school graduate Stephen in D.C. because he’s a clerk for a Supreme Court Justice, he’s a clerk for the specific Justice Farris thinks he’s most likely to persuade to take the case. Stephen explains that he’ll be writing the summary of the case for Rose, and that if he does so he’ll “have at least a little input on whether or not the Court will take your case” but that if they’re engaged he’ll have no influence because he’ll have to disclose that and he won’t be asked to screen it. Intrigue. Drama.
Donna accepts this, and Stephen says that if the Court doesn’t take the case they can get married in April or May. As you remember, she wants to marry Stephen so that she can get out of Spokane before she’s investigated by the state bureau after the case. But now I’m also wondering. Wouldn’t that look suspicious, for Stephen to suddenly be married by someone involved in this case? Wouldn’t someone ask how long they’d known each other? Either Stephen hasn’t considered this, or Farris hasn’t—or Stephen is figuring that everyone will forget about the case if cert is denied—or Stephen isn’t intending to reinstate the engagement to begin with.
“All right. I guess you really are just looking out for me. Thanks.” Corliss began to cry. “I’d better go. It’s OK. I just have to cry for a while.”
And that effectively ends the conversation.As he hung up the phone, his doorbell rang.
“Carol! Hi! Geez, you look like a million bucks. I’ll grab my jacket, let’s go.”
Because Stephen is a lying, cheating cad of the worst sort. I can’t help but wonder how Facebook would have affected this. He’d have had a lot more of a ruse to keep up if social media had kept everyone one click away from each other. And actually, there’s a dissertation topic waiting to happen—has the advent of social media affected people’s ability to cheat on their partners? And if so, in what way?
Now for a change of scene:
Casey bolted out from the front door the minute she saw Peter’s Explorer at their front curb. Gwen was not far behind, hurrying to lock the door and get downtown before the real crowds hit. By nine-thirty, the stores in downtown Spokane would be tapped on this, the last weekend before Christmas. Next Saturday would be Christmas Eve.
Peter quickly tucked Casey into the back seat, giving her a warm hug. He opened Gwen’s door with a flourish, reaching out ostensibly to help her step up to the high seat of his vehicle. Instead he grabbed her around the waist, swung her in a complete circle, and then kissed her before she could say a word.
Cue the Christmas music. Actually wait, there’s also this:
“Yeeee,” Casey squealed.
That’s in response to Peter kissing her mom. Because that’s totally realistic.
This book feels really dated here, as well as very cliched. I say dated because, seriously, who actually goes to stores to Christmas shop anymore? We have this thing called the internet. You can buy things on it.
They had a delightful day walking and shopping, holding hands, stealing kisses, and staring at each other with extended gazes. As they strolled hand-in-hand down the mall, Peter leaned over and whispered to Gwen, “It’s just how I dreamed it would be.”
“Me too,” Gwen said, squeezing his hand. “How could this be more perfect?” she thought to herself.
How convenient that Gordon died so Peter and Gwen can take Casey into a Hallmark Christmas card.
Peter insisted on paying for everything despite the fact that 1994 was looking like a down year financially.
Oh, interesting. The book was published in 1996, but was set in 1994. Also, if Peter’s having trouble financially in his firm, there’s no reason Gwen can’t pay for some of the gifts—she does have a job, as Farris occasionally remembers. But you know. Chivalry and all that. Or something.
After Casey was in bed, Peter and Gwen sat on the couch and snuggled in each other’s arms.
“Next Christmas, we can sit in front of our fireplace out at the lake and watch the fire.”
“That’ll be great, Peter. I really can’t wait,” Gwen said, snuggling just a bit closer.
Because of course they’ll be moving into his house.
Meanwhile, Casey sat away in her bed crafting a plan to get rid of that creepy man who wouldn’t stop hanging around her and mommy. He expected her to hug him, which she did not like, and he took away all of her mommy’s attention. Casey was starting to suspect that he took away her daddy, too. The creepy man got everything he wanted. But Casey was watching. She might smile and giggle sweetly at them, but that was only to distract her mother from her internal brooding. Something had to be done—and soon.
Oh, wait, sorry, I guess I lapsed into fan fiction again. Yeah, that was me, not Farris, but you know it’s bad when I have to start creating fan fiction to make it through a section!