Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crescent Bay

Chapter 3 Finale

Part 1 - Molly

"Argh!" I said with annoyance as soon as the call ended.

Colin came up behind me and started rubbing my shoulders. "Bridezilla?" he asked with a smile.

I rolled my eyes. "Yes, I have to go back to Paris. As if I haven't been three times in the last week."

"You could just tell her no." he said.

"Yeah....but I won't." I said with a sigh. "I hope she realizes I won't be at her beck and call for at least a week."

"She probably doesn't." Colin said. "But why don't you think about your friends coming instead of Amelie?"

"Okay." I said picking up a photo album I'd had my mom send me from home. "Help me pick a picture." I walked over to the couch and snuggled against Colin as soon as he sat beside me. I propped open the album filled with pictures from high school. I flipped through the pages slowly, looking over the pictures as they brought back memories from the gang, from cheerleading, of my family.

Colin stopped me and point to a picture of Garrett and I. "Who's that?" he asked.

"My brother Garrett." I said smiling at the picture. I was probably 15 then; it was before Eric has been born and Garrett was my only brother still at home then. "He was probably my favorite brother." I said, I flipped the page. "This was the gang and I after a football game."

"I like that one." Colin said. "That must be Ruby. She looks tough."

"She is...and isn't." I said chuckling. "She's can be tough as nails but can be an emotional nut. But that's something we love about her. And she's a loner, doesn't like crowds at all."

"Isn't she the one who had triplets?" Colin asked looking surprised.

"Yeah, ironic isn't it?" I said. "And that's Boris. He also had a baby already. I figured he would be neck deep in books and school for years - he's a genius. I don't even know if he's even still going to college."

"You should use that one." Colin said. "You all look great in it. I look forward to meeting the others."

"Thanks!" I said giving him a quick peck. "I look forward to you meeting them. Be nice to have all my friends know each other. Okay I need to get this invitation done so I can deliver them. Boris is already in town but I've been so busy with Amelie that I haven't had a chance to see him." I stood and booted up my computer to put together the invitation. The next day I delivered the ones I could personally and left the others with reception where I knew everyone would be staying so they'd be delivered as soon as my friends arrived.

Neither my house, nor Colin's would have been comfortable with everyone in it so I'd reserved one of the ballrooms at the Castle for the party and decided to plan it out as a nice event. I called in a local caterer to supply the food and Deidree volunteered to tend the bar even though she was a guest. I assured her that it wasn't necessary but she insisted, so I let it go. The night of the party, however, she was a no show! She's been so flakey since she told us she was leaving in a few months! Drinks weren't needed immediately so I tried not to worry about it. Maybe she would show up 'fashionably' late. As everyone started arriving, Colin came up silently behind me. "She'll be here." he whispered putting his arm around my waist.

I greeted everyone with hugs and smiles. I was so happy to see them all. I introduced those who hadn't met to each other and tried to keep a smile on my face as I kept looking to the door for Deidree. Amelie had recognized Boris from the Festival and started talking with him, Sean at her side. Ruby, Axel and Stormy were talking near the bar and Tony walked up to us. "Good to see you again Tony." Colin said shaking his hand.

I looked around the room for the woman Tony had said he was bringing. He'd emailed us just a week or so ago to tell us he was bringing someone with him but didn't give a lot of details other than she was female. I spied her at the buffet table picking out a light fare. She saw me looking her way and our eyes met. I noticed her gaze travel over to Tony and Colin. I wondered how much Tony had told her as she made her way over to us and took her place at Tony's side.

Tony was talking to Colin about something and didn't immediately notice her so Laila and I simply observed each other and pretended to be engaged in the conversation between Colin and Tony. "Oh!" Tony said noticing Laila's presence after a few moments. "Laila, this is Molly and Colin." he said motioning to each of us in turn. "This is Laila." he said looking at her fondly.

"Nice to meet you." I said shaking her hand. The four of us chatted, getting along well, while the others danced, talked and ate. I spied Stormy behind the bar and looked back toward the door - still no sign of Deidree.

I couldn't help but be curious about what sort of drinks Stormy would mix. Would they be colorful like her clothes? Would they be full of alcohol or flavor or just an odd mix of both? Laila was talking about China while I watched Stormy mix drinks and I'm sorry to say I missed whatever she was saying. I could tell, however, that she was very passionate about her home. I wondered if she and Tony were a couple - they were something right? I mean she was here so Tony must be close to her. Would he be living in China soon?

Tony started telling a story animatedly and I tried to tune in for it, very interesting in what he'd been doing for the past year. But between looking for Deidree and watching Axel swallow back one of Stormy's drinks and shudder I lost track of what Tony was saying. I watch Axel grin and slam down the glass on the bar and ask for another and laughed at the sight of it. Colin, Tony and Laila turned to me confused - clearly it hadn't been the moment to laugh in the story. I blushed and felt Colin's arm squeeze around my waist. "Sorry. Was watching Axel." I said with a small smile. The others turned to watch and Axel downed another of Stormy's creations and laughed as well at his reaction.

The four of us walked over to the bar and Stormy served us all mystery drinks. They were, in fact, just as colorful as Stormy always was. I smiled as I examined the contents of my glass and longed for my camera. I knew the others would be amused - although not surprised - if I started taking pictures of the drinks. Before anyone could take their drinks I raised my glass. "I want to make a toast." I said. The others turned to me expectantly. "To friends, old and new." I waited for everyone to join their glasses with mine. "And to the pact." I added with a smile. With a round of bell-like clinks, we all drank. Only Axel, who had had two of the drinks already, didn't shudder a bit as the liquid hit us.

The rest of the night went by far too quickly for my tastes. Although tonight was only the beginning of our week together, I knew as it concluded that the week would end far too soon and I would be missing my friends again. Nevertheless, I looked forward to all the events of the rest of the week being planned by the others.

End Day 1

Part 2 – Ruby

We made our way into the Charles de Gaulle Airport. They said this was one of the busiest airports and they weren’t kidding. People were rushing around everywhere. Axel went to gather our bags, while I browsed a small table that was littered with brochures for Musée des Arts Décoratifs. There was a poster that advertised an exclusive showing of some Ancient Chinese artifacts.

“Axel come look at this at this.” I pointed to a poster that was set up near the pamphlets. “Do you think we should go there? It looks neat.”

Axel moved one of my bags to his other hand and barely glanced at the poster, “Uh, yeah sure. Can we get going? These are heavy. What’d you pack in here, the whole bedroom?”

Rolling my eyes at him, “Of course not. But everything in there I need, so be careful with them. You look funny carrying all those bags, let me help you with one.” I tried to take one from him.
“No, I can do it. It’s just awkward, that’s all. Now let’s find a taxi and get to our hotel.” He grunted as he carried the luggage.

I tried to stifle a giggle, but it came out too loudly, “Whatever you say. You’re the boss.”

The hotel was gorgeous. It had plush red carpets that your feet could get lost in. After setting the bags down, I took my shoes off and just walked around barefoot to feel the softness. “Axel, look at that bed. It’s amazing. How soft do you think it is?” I playfully winked at him.

“I don’t know, why don’t you find out. I gotta pee.”

“Fine… your loss.” I jumped up and down on the bed. Like I had done as a small kid, it was like jumping on a cloud. “Axel! We need a bed like this at home. It’s awesome.”

Axel came out of the bathroom, “What are you doing, you goon? Get down from there.”

I kicked my legs out from under me and landed on the bed with a plop. Axel grabbed me by the waist and pulled me into an embrace. “Now this is what a bed is for.”

I covered his face in kisses, as he slowly unbuttoned the first couple buttons on my… well, I won’t go into details…but it was fun.

After our “romp”, I called Molly and let her know we had arrived and where we were staying.

“Molly, France is gorgeous! No wonder you chose to come here. I love it.”

“Yeah, it’s a beautiful country. I am glad you two made it safely. How was your trip?”

“I don’t know, I slept through a good portion of it. I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. Byron has the flu.”

“Oh, Ruby I am sorry. Is he okay?” The concern in Molly’s voice showed very clearly.

“Yeah, I think he’ll be alright. Mom has been through worse with the boys and I. I think it’s me who is having the hard time. I feel terrible leaving him, but Mom assured me he would be okay. She has Dr. Caulder’s number if she needs anything.”

“I was worried about you being in that little cabin with all those people. How did you manage?”

“You know, I think being with the kids and Axel as much as I have, small crowds don’t seem to bother me as much. Who knew triplets would be good therapy?” Molly laughed as I joined her.

“Well, the Ball is being held at the School. I can’t wait to see you two. Be good.” I could hear the grin on her face.

“Who? Us? We’re always good. See you later Molly.”

I hung up the phone and looked at Axel. He had found the mini bar. “Oh lord, it starts.” He just shrugged as he poured himself a drink and a small glass for me.

We had been in France a few days. The dance at Molly’s school was super fun. Nice to see Axel had a new drinking buddy. Sean and Colin were very nice and I can see why Molly loves him. He is very eloquent, he’s a gentleman and he really seems to love Molly. This is most important. While I am saddened that Tony and Molly are no longer together, it seems that things have worked themselves out. Laila is a wonderful girl. I hope Axel and I didn’t scare her with our wild antics.

I called Boris and told him we would be meeting everyone at the Museum for the tour. I was excited to see the Chinese artifacts as I had hoped everyone else would be as well.

At noon we all met at the museum. It was in a fairly upscale part of town so everyone dressed nicely.
They had golden statues of Anubis holding flames to light the rooms. The walls were carved with hieroglyphics and the floor was misshapen blocks or crude cement. It really gave the museum an air of mystery.

They also had a Tomb Simulation you could try out. No treasure to be had, but it was complete with a fire trap. Tony couldn’t help but show off to everyone his daredevil skills and warm his buns.

Axel and I found a sarcophagus. We each took turns lying inside one. It was dark and damp. Not an ideal spot for napping. I carefully exited and brushed the dust of my skirt.

Stormy found a pad you could step on that made the fire trap disengage.

This gave Colin the opportunity to check out one of the ornate boxes sitting in the middle of the room. He opened the lid and inside was a gift certificate for 20 dollars to be used at the gift shop. I thought that was pretty neat. He used it to buy Molly one of those Mummy Teddy bears we saw.

Boris had taken Axel to the balcony; there were a couple of telescopes set up there. I don’t know what they were looking at, but I kept hearing gasps from Axel and “oohs” and “aahs” from Boris. Silly boys.

Colin and Molly could be found stealing kisses in the darkened Egyptian room. They are really a cute couple.

Stormy and I found time to sit on one of the benches during the tour and chit chat. I was interested to hear about Sunny and this new guy beau. It seems they are hitting it off. I hope he makes her happy. She deserves it.

I asked Axel to get a group shot of us before we left. It still makes me laugh. We are a great group of goofballs.

Afterwards, we went to lunch at a local bistro. Axel ordered for the two of us and bought champagne for everybody. The atmosphere outside was great. There was a cool, crisp breeze. Birds could be heard chirping their songs. There was also a traveling violinist. Boris gave him a few bucks to play at our table for a bit. The melody he played was beautiful. I looked and Axel and squeezed his hand. “I love you honey.” “I love you too, Ruby.” The gentleman worked his way to the other tables while we chatted. Molly talked about the upcoming wedding. It sounded like she was having a heck of a time with Amelie, but Molly is a good friend. I appreciate the lengths she’ll go to help her friends out. I talked about my kids, I may have gushed too much about them, but I am a proud mother. I can’t help it. I asked Boris how little Ning was. It seems our kids grow so fast. Before you know it they’ll be all grown up.
Anyway, we finished lunch and I was beat. It had been a long day. I just wanted to get out of my skirt and into some comfy clothes. I also wanted to call Mom and see how the kids were. We said our goodbyes. We had another fun filled day ahead of us and I wanted to be rested.

End Part 2

Part 3 - Stormy

The sun had just disappeared as we stood there in amazement looking up at the massive, yet intimidating Langraab Chateau we’d rented for the night. This place was known to be haunted by the late, and very paranoid, Monsieur Landgraab. Twenty minutes prior to our arrival, Francois Mercier, our tour guide, gave Molly, Colin, Tony, Laila, Boris, Ruby, Axel and I, a little history on Monsieur Langraab and his estate. Because Langraab thought someone wanted to get information on his assets, he installed traps and other security devices throughout his home because of his paranoia. Today, they have been replaced by mock traps to show visitors where the originals have been. There's a possibilty that we'll set a few of them off during our stay, but they were harmless and part of the entertainment . He also mentioned that any apparitions seen, or additional noises heard apart from the traps are not special effects.

Before the guide led us up the porch and into the foyer, a wall of faux flames shot up, covering the width of the porch. We were taken aback for a bit because it looked so real. This was the first trap we set off, which Landgraab would have activated at night to scare off anyone getting too close. Francois, flipped a hidden switch in the nearby bushes which turned the flames off.

We all went up the porch, glancing down at where the traps were set, then gathered in the foyer where Francois briefed us on what paranormal activity we may encounter overnight. Afterwards, he showed us a few important rooms, such as which bedrooms we can all sleep in, the restrooms, and the kitchen. The fridge was amply supplied with food for preparing meals and other edible treats. The other rooms throughout the Chateau were open for exploration. Including the servants quarters out back behind the estate. Francois will be back at 9 a.m. the next morning to take us back into the city.

The kitchen was the last room the guide showed us before he took his leave. Before deciding on what to do next, I rummaged through the cabinets to see what sort of munchies were available. I found a bag of chips, took a handful and passed the bag to Boris. He didn't want any and passed it on to Laila.

"Let's go through the rooms we haven't seen in the hall to the left of here, then back track and hit the right side of this floor." I suggested, popping another chip in my mouth.

Everyone either voiced or slightly shrugged in agreement. We made our way into the hall, turned left and slowly walked down the hall eying the old colorful paintings on the maroon walls. To the right of each painting was a tiny plaque with a brief inscription of the person occupying each painting. When we approached the first door to our right, which was closest to Ruby, we waited for her to open the door so we could peer inside. Her eyes went wide as she shook her head no. Axel gave her a peck on the cheek, then went before her to open the door.

"Axel, wait!" cried Ruby, but his shirt slipped out of her hand as he hurried through. Some us followed behind, but there was nothing there but a set of stairs leading to the second floor.

We filed back out into the hall and continued to poke around the different rooms on the first floor. Most rooms were dimly lit with ornate furniture rich in reds, blues, gold and silver throughout.

A couple hours later we made our way up to the second floor. There were creaking noises coming from God knows where. Every so often someone would stop to listen, wondering where the other noises were coming from. In the master bedroom, we noticed it was windy outside, causing the tree limbs to eerily smack against the window.

By midnight we went down another set of stairs, passed through a short hall, turned right entering the formal living room. We were heading to the sun room to relax a little when I heard a shout and curse from behind me. We quickly turned to see Boris and Colin shielding their eyes from the extremely bright electrical currents shooting wildly out of the floor before them. We ran to the office where they were standing, which was across the hall from the living room.

I’m beginning to think floor traps were Landgraab’s favorite. Especially if he wanted to stop people in their tracks from intruding in on his affairs. Personally I think he should have hired guards, but if he was the sort that thought everyone was out to get him, then these rigged contraptions were best for him.

“What happened?” asked Molly looking a little astonished. She shifted her eyes from Colin to Boris and back to the electricity flying upward.

“I motioned for Colin to follow me into the office to poke around, before joining the rest of you in the sunroom. But before I could reach the desk, I heard a loud click nearby, causing me to stall a minute. Next thing I know, this blockade of electricity kept me from reaching the desk.” answered Boris, looking a bit shook up.

“I’m sure there’s a switch somewhere in here to disarm it. Let’s look for it.” I proposed.

Half hour later, Boris found the switch to turn off the electrical currents behind a painting. After poking around the desk a bit we finally went to the sunroom to relax and chat a bit.

A resounding boom came from the far end of the estate above somewhere, causing a few of us to jump. Someone squeaked. Tony left his chair going towards the arched doorway.

“I’m going upstairs to see what’s up.” Tony called over his shoulder, and kept on walking. Boris got up as well, followed by Axel and Colin. Laila was on her way to accompany the guys as well.

“Laila, maybe the four of us can do our own exploring without the guys.” Molly said quickly before Laila left the room.

“I think that’s a great idea, Molly.” replied Laila, smiling. Ruby, Molly and I walked over to where Laila was standing.

“How about searching out the servant’s quarters?” Molly suggested, pointing her thumb over her shoulder in the general direction of where the quarters were located. They could be seen from the sunroom’s large windows.

“Ooo! Let’s do it! But let’s grab a soda or something first and our jackets.” I was feeling brave all of a sudden. Besides, I wanted to see as much as possible.

“What’s going on with the lights in the living room?” asked Ruby, visibly nervous.

The living room lights flickered for a moment, then went completely out. An agonizing moan from somewhere close by sent chills up my spine. Then I saw it..or him.

“What the hell is that?!” Molly’s voice was a little shaky.

Out in the hall stood a figure of a man, staring back at us. The torturous moans continued.

“Let’s go to him and see if he’s the ghost of Monsieur Langraab.” Whispered Laila.

I almost gave her the are you crazy look but I didn’t want to take my eyes off the creepster.

“We’ll lock arms and walk as a unit..” Laila continued.

Okay, I was down with that….I think. We grabbed each other’s arm and shuffled our way towards the spooky guy. Damn he was scary looking. But this is what I paid to come see, right? I whimpered.

At one point we had to go around the coffee table which caused us to move out of direct sight of the man.
When we passed the table and got back on track so we can keep our eye on the guy, he was gone. Just like that. We stood there, using only our eyes to search him out, not daring to move.

“He could be behind us.” Whispered a panicked Ruby.

She’s right. Crap. “Ok, I’ll turn around and see if he’s there…” I volunteered. Why the heck did I do that?! I gulped loudly broke the arm link with Molly and very slowly turned around….with my eyes closed.

“Do you see him?” Ask Molly, whispering as well.

“I don’t know!” I replied my whisper.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” asked Ruby.

“I haven’t opened my eyes yet!” I wanted to yell, but whispered loud instead. I took a deep breath “Alright, here I go…on the count of three. One….two…………………three.” My eyes flew open quickly surveying the area, but no one was there. “He isn’t here….” I was a little disappointed.

When the guys caught up to us again, they gave an account of what they had found while away. They first went up the grand staircase, then turned left down the main corridor on the second floor. Apparently a door slammed in the distance, so they went to investigate where the noise was coming from. Finally after finding nothing on the second floor, but hearing strange noises up above, they journeyed up two more flights of stairs that were well hidden.. The guys found themselves in a small room with double doors leading out onto a balcony.

Ghastly laughter came from behind the wall, to the left of the balcony doors.

“Maybe there’s a hidden spring somewhere on this wall! You can vaguely make out the lines of a door here.” Tony moved his finger up the wall as if outlining a door. He was determined to see who or what making the racket.

“I believe the boom we heard from downstairs was thunder now that I see lightning outside.” Said Boris looking out towards the balcony.

“This is lame….” Axel said, as he nudged Boris. Boris looked over at his brother, shook his head, then walked up to the wall to help Tony find a hidden switch of some sort. Axel rolled his eyes and folded his arms.

“Francois spoke of hidden switches and hidden doors of all sorts. Perhaps there may be one here for us to discover.” Colin mentioned casually.

“Ha! What’s this?!” asked Tony, excited. “Think I found it”

There was a teeny tiny wire Tony pulled on. The wall vibrated causing dust to fly everywhere. When a portion of the wall slowly swung open, they were able to scan the dark, cobweb filled narrow room. On the far wall stood a weird statue almost the width of the room, as if it were guarding the set stairs to the left of it.

Boris asked Axel to follow him inside while Tony and Colin stayed behind should the wall close, they could open it again. The ghastly laughter came again, but much louder. Out of the shadows a figure of man stood there for a few seconds, then blended with the shadows again. The chilling laugh remained, echoing off the walls. Axel ran to the area where the ghost or whatever it was, stood. Nothing….

“Let’s go find the girls and see how they’re doing.” Said Colin a tad hasty. He wasn’t sure if what they saw was real or, just an illusion.

By the time Francois came to collect us, we were eating breakfast in the dining. He asked about our night as we were finishing up. We gave him the details of last night’s events and he seemed quite intrigued. I admitted to being creeped out many times. Everyone chuckled, and admitted to being startled a few times themselves. We were entertained, but I doubt we’ll come back here again. Well, maybe I would….

Part 4 - Tony


I sent a quick email to inform everyone I would be bringing Laila along with me to France. Laila was a little nervous about leaving China for the first time in her life. She was having a little problem at first getting a passport but she was able to get one.

As we boarded the plane; Laila squeezed my hand tight, I looked her way and smiled saying “everything will be fine, my friends are some of the kindest people you will ever meet.”

I thought I should give her a little background on each one; Ruby being married to Axel, their three children, of course she knew of Molly and Colin already, seeing I told her everything about my previous trip to France, Then there was Stormy, she may seem a little strange to people that don’t know her, but she is a real sweetheart. Then I told her about Boris.

Laila was silent as I spoke of Boris, then she asked “Has Boris ever been to China? I know I’ve heard that name before.” “Yes,” I replied. Then Laila asked if he was the same Boris that dated Jing. I smiled and said “Yes, They had a child together, how did you know?”

That’s when she told me she also knew Jing very well, although she never met Boris; she knew of him, Jing was very fond of Boris, although she did not know Jing had a child or that Jing had passed away because she lost touch with Jing a few years ago. Laila was excited to meet Boris.

Laila held my had during the entire flight, My eye were getting heavy and a burning sensation as I was getting sleepy, Laila placed her head on my shoulder as we both fell asleep on the plane.

When we landed in France late that night, Laila was still holding my hand, “We’re here sweetheart” I whispered into her ear, she took a deep breath and exhaled still clutching my hand “good, can’t wait to meet everyone.” We stopped and got a car rental, I remember the last time I was here I had to depend on Molly to take me everywhere and I did not want to put her out again.

After checking in; I called Molly, and informed her we had arrived in France and where we were staying, “I received the invitation for tomorrow you sent out, I need directions how to get there.”

After getting the directions, I told Molly we will meet everyone tomorrow at the party, Laila and I was just going to stay in tonight seeing it was after 10:00PM .

The Next day Laila finally got to meet everyone at Molly’s party, she enjoyed everyone, especially Boris, and they talked about Jing most of the night.

At the end of the party I told Colin “This is a nice place, you think it will be available for Father’s Day? I would like to book it for Boris and Axel to celebrate Father’s Day” Colin said he knows the owner and would check, he returned and said it’s too late to book the Hall for Father’s Day, But he knew a few places and would check for me.

Molly asked everyone what they wanted to do tomorrow, all the girls shouted “SHOPPING!” the guys just kind of hung their heads; Boris said “it’s going to be a long day.”

Colin picked up on it and said “Molly why don’t you take the girls shopping and I’ll take the guys out on the town and see if we can find a hall for Tony.”

Molly agreed. “That’s why I love you so much, you think of everything” As she gave him a peck on the cheek.

It was the first time I heard Molly say she loved him, was kind of odd hearing the words come out of her mouth, but I shook it off, it will take a little time to get use to Molly saying I love you to another man.

Laila said “I’ll go with the guys” Ruby looked at Laila and said “Don’t be silly missy; you are coming with us and like it.” Laila and Ruby laughed and Laila agreed.

Molly, Stormy, Ruby and Laila went shopping, stopping for lunch and more shopping, of course they had to stop at the famous fish supply store for stormy and more shopping. Ruby wanted a Dress so they stopped and Ruby tried on a few, then stopping to check herself out, looking into the Mirror “I like this one.”

Stormy said “Yes that’s a nice one Ruby.”

Ruby smiled and said “Axel won’t be able to keep his hands off me.”

Molly laughed and said “you won’t be able to keep it on long enough to find out.” Laila just blushed and smiled.

Collin took the guys out on the town and found a Hall for Tony. During the drive they talked about everything.

Colin: “So Tony, I hear you were quite the football player in high school.”

“Yes, I still love the game.”

Colin pulled the car over, got out and opened the trunk; he pulled out a football, “let’s see what you got”.

We went into this courtyard and tossed the football around. Colin seems to think of everything.

On Father’s Day

We all got together and took Boris and Axel out for lunch Ruby had already given Axel his Father’s Day present, so after lunch Axel and Boris received and opened their gifts from everyone. Everyone was saying Happy Father’s day to the both of them.

We rented a limousine that was stocked with all kinds of drinks and spent the entire day together. I must admit by dinner time we were all feeling quite good, but I think it was hitting Ruby and Stormy a little harder than the rest of us.

Ruby and Stormy was talking very loud, laughing at everything; Axel did not make thing any better he would keep tickling Ruby making her laugh even more. Laila just smiled as she got to see us in action.

During dinner we ate danced and drank some more, Boris, Stormy and Laila talked about China. Ruby and Axel, well, let’s just say they were being themselves loving each other. Molly and Colin mingled with everyone, danced and talked about some of everything.

Each one of us took turns toasting Boris and Axel, wishing them a happy Father’s Day, by the end of the night I was feeling quite wasted. Guess I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking, so I put down my glass down for the rest of the night and danced with Stormy, Ruby, Molly and Laila, I don’t think I stopped dancing till it was time to leave.

End part 4

Part 5 - Boris

Although Stormy and Tony had met Molly's new friends on previous trips to France, I had not met them all yet. I had a brief introduction to Colin at the festival, and got to talk with him again at the reception hosted by Molly on the first night. I also got the chance to meet Amelie, Sean and Diedree as well. After learning that Amelie's family owns the local nectary, I shamefully monopolized her for most of the evening talking about the Nectar Festival and nectar making. I don't think Sean minded too much, as he found a new drinking partner in Axel. Stormy manned the bar and kept them supplied with her colorful concoctions.

I was at a loss as to what I could host for our annual meeting, but on Amelie's suggestion, I decided to reserve the nectary's cellar. As this year's festival was winding down, I suggested we take in the closing ceremonies of the annual Nectar Festival at the Champs Les Sims Nectary. According to Amelie, this is a pretty impressive festival. It is a great honor for her family to host the festival this year.

Upon our arrival, we were met by Amelie, Sean and Diedree, who escorted us to the cellars. We were led into a richly paneled room containing many racks of fermented brew, some tables and chairs, and a stereo. Sean made sure to point out the adjoining bathroom, as we may need to use it on occasion this night. Although all of Molly's new friends were warm and welcoming, Colin seemed like a perfect fit, hitting it off with everyone. Everyone milled around for a few minutes, discussing the other events this week.

Many bottlers brought cases upon cases of their nectar to promote their products. Many different blends of nectar were available for public tasting out on the nectary grounds. The nectary cellar had a vast collection itself, filled with bottles made available for tasting. We each perused the racks and selected several different blends and vintages. Amelie had engaged a few stewards from the nectary to prepare our choices for tasting. Each glass was filled less than one fourth full. The air in the room was quickly filled with the aroma of mixed fruits.

The bottles were poured and we each grabbed a glass, as Colin offered up a toast to all of us, Molly's childhood friends. Tony in turn raised his glass and toasted Molly's college friends. Several more toasts were made, each received with a resounding "here, here."

Everyone took a seat at one of the tables and began sipping the nectars. As we sampled each one, we compared notes with each other, such as color and taste. As we sampled more and more, the discussions became less about the nectars and more out us.

Everyone was having a very good time. The laughter was constant. Anecdotes were shared by all. To my surprise, Stormy didn't seem to be boring anyone to death tonight. I love her dearly, but there is more to life than just fish and fishing. Several times, Ruby began to freak out at the large number of people in the room. As our group grows in size, she becomes less comfortable. I hope one day, she will be able to overcome this. Thank goodness Axel was there to calm her.

We were all beginning to feel "good" from the effects of the nectar. Molly was leading me to wonder how much nectar she had actually had during her time in France. She was holding her own very well. Molly never seemed the drinking type to me, but then we all discover hidden talents, likes and dislikes, don't we? We find out something new about ourselves and our friends all the time. I believe our differences are our strength. Why we fit so well together. Like pieces of a puzzle, all shaped differently, fitting together to form a complete picture.

Ruby switched on the stereo and coaxed Axel in to dancing. What a sight that was after Axel and Sean had been matching each other drink for drink. I was beginning to think we'd have to borrow a wheelbarrow to cart him back to his hotel.

It wasn't long before everyone had grabbed a partner and was dancing. The lights were dimmed. We were all having a great time.

As everyone seemed to get comfortable dancing, inhibitions seemed to fade. Stormy and I took to the floor. I was reserved and clumsy, while she had some moves on her. Molly and Colin danced together with precision and grace. Tony and Laila were obviously the new couple. And then there was Ruby and Axel. The two flailed about like a couple of tribal natives attempting to summon the rains.

As the evening began to wind down, the owners appeared and graciously allowed each of us to select a bottle to take with us with their compliments. We all thanked them for their hospitality as we filed up the stairs and out into the evening air. As we were exiting the building, the fireworks signaling the end of the festival had just gotten underway. We stopped and watched for a few minutes, "oohing and aahing" as each rocket shot into the air and burst against the clear night sky. What a perfect end to a wonderful week.

End Last Day

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