march had started with Matt’s proposal to Amanda and progressed into a full fledged free for all where the planning was concerned. When Juanita’s sister and mother found out about the wedding, they, too, wanted to be in on it. Max and George, Juanita’s brother-in-law and father, instantly wanted to be in the groom’s retinue. And Matt agreed. besides. Even though he was getting remarried, they would still be family. No matter what.
They had always been there for him, even if he hadn’t paid attention to the fact. His opening a gallery to show off all of Juanita’s artwork let them know that he still cared and loved her, even though she was dead and gone. Max had brought several of the paintings that had been mentioned.
Matt looked at them. They were exquisite! Phenomenal. He had never seen so beautiful a group of paintings as he now looked at.
He looked at max, then at George. “I am going to have to search through each sketch book and find the corresponding sketch. I assume every sketch has a painting?”
Max nodded. “At least all the ones before she got with Tim. I am not sure about those sketches. We weren’t allowed to see her during those days, so art was not as plentiful or as beautiful.”
Matt nodded. “I’ll ask Lil if Tim had any paintings by Juanita in his hoard. If so, I will add them to the gallery lineup.”
Lil looked in the door of the office. “Did I hear my name?”
Matt waved her in. “Did your brother have any paintings in what he left you? Any sketchbooks?”
She nodded. “Yes. And he was no artist, so I assumed that they belonged to his lover at the time. Hard to believe that anyone could love him, but…” She looked down at the paintings Matt was looking through. “Whoa! who did those? They’re awesome! The ones Tim left were almost as good, but darker in subject and color. The sketch books, I never opened.”
Matt looked at her. “Bring them in. I would love to see them.”
Lil. nodded. “Sure! Juanita did most of Tim’s early cover art. At least the art during her relationship with the asshole.”
Tim smiled crookedly. “I figured. He barely rapped on most of his works when he was coming into my studio. he usually used studio singers and computer noise. I couldn’t work with him. Always got migraines from the back-tracks.”
She smiled. “I think only druggies listened to his shit anyway. He was threatened more than once by the hard core rappers and gangsta rappers. They called it noise. To them, he was a wannabe. If you are like me, you knew he was a never-was.”
Matt nodded. “True. But he made enough to feel big and important. And to think that the law couldn’t touch him.”
Lil nodded. “True. and I prayed every day that they would end his rampage before he took some poor woman out.” She looked away. “did I ever tell you that he was violent even as a child? I mean, he would beat the shit out of me and Melody on a regular basis. And we were older than him! That was the reason we ran away from home. As well as because of daddy.
“But that is all past. Both he and daddy are dead and buried. I have a wonderful husband in Ty, and three wonderful kids. Melody has a great family too. Perhaps all the crap made us stronger than we would have been otherwise.”
Matt bowed his head. “I-I’m sorry. Shouldn’t have opened old wounds.”
She looked at him and smiled. “You didn’t. I did. Anyway, if those paintings and these belong together, they belong to you and her family. Not me.”
He hugged her. “Thanks, sis. Actually, just turn them over to Ty. He is helping on this.”
Lil left and George handed Matt a packet of photos. “The sculptures. All too big to pack in the back of a car with three screaming kids. And way too big for the trunk.”
Matt chuckled, then looked at the pictures. “Wow! She was good!”
Max smiled. “Good wasn’t the word. She could look at a piece of junk and see the treasure hidden inside. She could take rusted chunks of metal and turn them into something exquisite.”
Matt nodded, dazed. “I noticed.”
In the dining room, the women had all gathered. Each had a glass of red wine and a fortune cookie. This was Darlene’s ice breaker. The wine was for drinking, but the cookie was just a prop. Something to get each woman thinking.
Sandra looked up at Darlene, who sat at the head of the table. “Tell me, again, what is the cookie for?”
Darlene smiled. “Think of planning a wedding as a fortune cookie. on the outside, it is just a wedding. On the inside, it is a lot of planning and careful choreography. And the fortune is how it turns out.
“But a wedding is only what you plan it to be. If you don’t plan it right, it doesn’t turn out right. If you leave something out, it is as empty as if you had put nothing into it at all. But plan it right, get everything in its place, and you have a wonderful, blessed event that can be remembered for years to come.”
Amanda nodded. “I see.”
Darlene looked at Amanda. “So what have you got so far?”
She smiled. “Possible dates. traditional wedding colors and rituals. A red and white bouquet with no frilly flowers, just roses. And other colors include red and blue.”
The planner nodded. “I see. Other colors?”
Amanda looked her in the eye. “Yes. Do we really have to have a white cake?”
Darlene smiled. “Not really, but it is traditional. We can add the other colors to the decor in subtle ways, though. that is, if you still want them.
Color for brides maids gowns will be white and peach, correct? No need in everyone wearing white, if you don’t want them to. Just as the men can wear white or sky blue. We can incorporate red into a heart bouquet of both balloons and flowers, if you like. dark blue, as well.”
She got out her big book of ideas and began showing them what could be done. Oos and Ahhs could be heard emanating from the dining room in waves. Matt smiled as he passed on his way to the kitchen, and poked his head into the room. “Cost is not an object, girls. remember that. Whatever you plan, make it something this city will never forget.”