"What happened to that confident lawyer/mediator that was here last night?" She asked herself.
Carrie looked at her alarm clock. It was 11:30. She had only thirty minutes to decide on an outfit, put on her makeup, do her hair, and get to the restaurant.
"It is just a normal Saturday afternoon. You have nothing to be afraid of. I'm sure Joe's kids, ex-wife, and ex-mother-in-law will like you. You've faced tougher clients, prosecutors, and judges. The only thing you have to do is get rid of the nervousness until you get to the restaurant. Come on Carrie. You can do it."
The pep-talk to herself wasn't working. Carrie found herself at her closet. There was only one outfit left. It was a simple yellow floral sleeveless dress. It had to do. Carrie picked out a pair of yellow pumps and simple silver chain. She went to her bathroom to get dressed, apply her makeup and decide what to do with her hair. Fifteen minutes later Carrie came out of the bathroom. She quickly put on her shoes and necklace and raced to the elevator.
Joe King was waiting at a table with Phillip and Jamie. He looked at his watch. It was five till noon. He hoped that Amanda and Dotty would get to the restaurant before Carrie did. Joe wanted everybody there before Carrie, so he would only have to introduce her once. He already had consumed twenty glasses of water. To say he was nervous would be an understatement. What if his family didn't like Carrie? 'Calm down, Joe. They will like her,' he thought, trying to reassure himself. He stared into space unaware that Amanda and Dotty were at the table.
"Mom and Grandma are here," Phillip and Jamie announced.
Joe knew Phillip and Jamie said something but wasn't sure what they said. "What?"
"We're here, sweetheart," Amanda said.
"Oh! Hi Amanda, Dotty," Joe said as he stood and greeted them with a kiss on their cheeks.
"How are you, Joe? I'm sorry we're running late. My flight class ran late," Dotty explained.
"That's okay. Carrie isn't here yet. I'm just a little nervous."
"Joe, there is nothing to be nervous about. I'm sure we will like Carrie," Amanda reassured him.
"Amanda, I know you're right. I just wish she would get here so we can get this over with"
At the same restaurant, Lee Stetson was having lunch with Paul Barnes. Paul was only in town for this weekend and wanted to have lunch with Lee.
Since Lee knew Amanda already had plans for this afternoon, he suggested that they go to the new restaurant.
"You seem different Lee," Paul said.
"What makes you think that?" Lee ran his hand through his hair hoping that Paul wasn't going where Lee was thinking Paul was going.
"One, you seem happier than I've ever seen you in years. Second, you keep on looking at your left hand like something is missing from it. Finally, you have ignored all the women who expressed their interest in you. That's not the Lee Stetson I used to know."
"People can change Paul. You should know that better than anyone else. I never thought you would settle down. Here you are telling me you're going to get married. Tell me about her."
"Only if you tell me how serious you are about Amanda King."
Lee nearly dropped his coffee cup. "What do you mean?"
"Lee, it was obvious you were in love with Amanda the last time I saw you. It was written all over your face. I might have been retired for almost two years now, but I haven't lost all my magic. Why else would you ignore all those other attractive women?"
"Okay, Paul. Amanda and I are very serious about each other. I would tell you how serious but I would have to discuss it with her first. Maybe you, I, Amanda, and your fiancÚ can have dinner tomorrow night. So could we just leave it to that. Now, why don't you tell me about your fiance."
"Her name is Maggie Ellis. Maggie works at one of the top law firms in Boston. She's about your age with beautiful red hair and green eyes. She has a sister that lives here in D.C. named Carrie who happens to be engaged herself. Maggie and Carrie want to have a double ceremony in New York where their family is. I'm all for it. The only thing we have to do is convince Carrie's fiance that a double wedding is a good idea. Maggie and I are having dinner with them tonight."
"You're rambling like my Amanda," Lee said smiling at the thought of Amanda.
"It's safe to say that Amanda has got you hooked," Paul said. He was happy for his friend. He had a good idea about how serious they were even if Lee wouldn't admit it. 'I can't believe that Scarecrow is married.'
Carrie couldn't believe her luck. Only on one of the most important days of her life would all this stuff happen to her. First, the elevator in her apartment building decided not to work. She had to run down four flights of stairs. Then, her car wouldn't start right away. She was about to go to the lobby and call for a cab, when her car finally started. She then ended up at every single red light. If that wasn't bad enough, traffic was slow due to an accident. Finally, she couldn't find a parking space. She looked at her watch. It was twenty after twelve.
"Knowing my luck, I'm probably at the wrong restaurant," she said to herself as she got out of her car and headed toward the restaurant. Carrie gave a huge sigh of relief when she saw the sign of the restaurant. She was at the right restaurant. She took four deep breaths as she entered the restaurant.
"Carrie," a male voice called out to her. It was her sister's fiance.
"Hey, Paul." Carrie went to his table. She decided that if she hurried to Joe's table, a hundred more bad things would happen to her.
"Lee, this is Maggie's sister Carrie. Carrie Ellis this is Lee Stetson."
"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Stetson."
"Same here," Lee said.
"Carrie, would you like to join us?"
"I'd like to join you, but I'm meeting my fiance's family and I'm already twenty minutes late."
"You're finally meeting Joe's family," Paul said.
"Yeah. His family includes his two sons, ex-wife, and ex-mother-in-law."
Lee almost dropped his coffee cup again. Carrie had a fiance named Joe who had two sons and is still close to his ex-wife and ex-mother-in-law. It was too strange to be a coincidence.
"Excuse me. Paul, I'll be right back."
Joe was at a pay phone near the bathroom of the restaurant. He was starting to get worried. Carrie was never this late and she wasn't answering her phone. He decided to go back to the table.
On the way back to the table, Joe bumped into Lee Stetson. "Lee, what are you doing here?"
"I'm having lunch with an old friend of mine."
"Why don't you and your friend join us? My fiance isn't here yet and I would be grateful if you would. It would keep them from asking me where Carrie is every five seconds."
Lee was convinced that Joe King was Carrie Ellis' fiance. "Joe, does Carrie have straight auburn hair and blue eyes, has a sister named Maggie who happens to be engaged as well, and wants to have a double wedding with her sister?"
"That's her. Have you met her?"
"Come with me. I'll take you to her. My friend happens to be her sister's fiance."
"Carrie, I was so worried about you. I thought something horrible had happen to you," Joe said as he led Carrie, Paul, and Lee to his table.
Amanda was stunned by who was with Joe when he came back to the table. "Lee, what are you doing here?"
"Amanda, I'm having lunch with an old friend," Lee answered as he pointed at Paul.
"Joe, Lee aren't you going to introduce us to the other two people," a curious Dotty asked?
A few minutes later, after Carrie and Paul were introduced to everyone, everybody was laughing when Carrie explained what happened to her on her way to the restaurant.
"You poor thing. Here I was thinking that you were irresponsible when everything was going wrong for you," Dotty said.
"That's Murphy's Law for you. Anything that could go wrong does go wrong," Carrie said,
"I thought this afternoon was going to be terrible, that Joe's family wasn't going to like me."
"Your fears were unjustified. I think you are good for Joe," Amanda said.
"Thank you, Amanda."
"We think you are cool Carrie," Phillip assured her, "Don't we Jamie?"
"Yep. It's great that both mom and dad are involved with such gnarly people," Jamie said.
"I'm with them," Dotty said, "Why don't you tell us a little about yourself?"
"Okay. As most of you know, I'm a lawyer/mediator at Legal Aid. I have one sister named Maggie who is engaged to Paul," Carrie started pointing at Paul, "Well my sister and I would love to have a double wedding in New York where our family is. Paul has already agreed to it. This evening Maggie, Paul, and I were going to convince Joe to go along with it. Maggie and I always dreamed of a double wedding. I'm telling you all this because I'm hoping that you will agree with me and will talk Joe into it."
"Well I for one would enjoy a trip to New York. I've always wanted to go shopping on Fifth Avenue," Dotty said.
"Joe, summer vacation is coming soon. We could make it educational for the boys," Amanda said.
"Aw, Mom," Phillip and Jamie said in disgust.
"Amanda, are you sure you can go to New York for the wedding? IFF might not give you time off," Joe said.
"Don't worry Joe. Amanda will be able to go to New York," Lee said.
Paul asked, "You'll be going too. Won't you Lee?"
"Paul, I wouldn't miss seeing you get married for anything."
"I'm glad you're going Lee," Joe said.
"Joe, can we go call Maggie and tell her the wonderful news. She'll be so ecstatic."
"Don't worry about us. Mother can take the boys out for hamburgers. You two go on ahead."
"Thanks Amanda," Joe said as he and Carrie left the restaurant.
"Mother, you take the Wagoneer to get the boys something to eat. Lee can drive me home," Amanda said, handing Dotty the keys.
"Come on boys. I bet you're starving," Dotty said. She and the boys left the restaurant.
"Amanda, do you think it would be okay if we told Paul about how serious our relationship is?"
"Sure, as long as he promises not to tell anyone else."
"Lee, Amanda, I promise not to tell anyone that you are married as long as you can explain to me why your marriage is such a big mystery."
"Paul, it's too dangerous for our family if they know about our marriage and our real jobs," Lee explained.
Paul could think of many arguments against their reasoning. He decided not to say anything about it because it was obvious that they weren't ready to listen. Not yet at least. His instincts were telling him that Lee and Amanda wanted to savor a few more months without sharing with everyone else. He promised himself that he would bring the topic back up when he sees them for the wedding. "I'll keep your marriage a secret. I better get to Maggie. When she hears the news, I'm sure she would want to celebrate. I'll see you later"
"Bye, Paul." Lee and Amanda said as he left the restaurant.
"Mrs. Stetson, why don't we go back to my place later on and have some dessert?"
"I'd love too."
"Amanda, you don't know what a relief it is to me that Joe is actually getting married. Hopefully, his second marriage will last much longer than his first. Carrie seems very nice."
"Lee, I know you'll be glad when Joe is finally out of the picture. I just hope Maggie is as nice as Carrie is. Why don't we go have the dessert right now?"
"I like the way you think."
Lee and Amanda rushed out of the restaurant.