Beth said, as she opened the dishwasher, “Well, sis, I think he’s gorgeous. Those dark eyes, they’re almost hypnotic. Or do I mean magnetic? And that sexy voice with the ever-so-slight foreign accent! Delicious! I think you hit the jackpot this time, toots. I’m ready to start loading now.”

Susan rinsed a plate off in the sink, and handed it to her. “He’s only been in the states a few years.”

“He speaks English beautifully. Where’s he from, Transylvania?”

“Shh! He’ll hear you. No, he’s from someplace in Romania, called TimiSoara. He fled Romania during CeauSescu’s rule; his whole family was wiped out. He doesn’t like to talk about it, so don’t mention it, okay? Chambers is an anglicized version of his name, which was something unpronounceable.”

“More unpronounceable than CeauSescu? You know,” Beth said in a confidential tone, “Dave says that another teacher at school was a client of Derek’s, and she just raves about him. Says he’s sure to make her a bundle on the stock market.”

“Well, he’s definitely quite successful, for as short a time as he’s been a broker, and being a foreigner and all. It takes a lot for people, especially women, to trust strangers with their money; but whatever it is, he’s got it in spades. That’s where he’s going tonight, as a matter of fact,” continued Susan. “I have to get him on the redeye flight to New York. There’s a very wealthy client of his up there who wants him to meet some of her friends. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him to expand his client base.”

“So, six weeks to the wedding, I just can’t believe it. Mom thought you’d never settle down.”

“You promised to be matron of honor for me, didn’t you?”

“Oh sure, Sue. You know we’d be there, come hell or high water, even if you held it in Timbuktu. So where is it going to be, anyway? TimiWhatsit? Or is it some big secret you’re keeping?”

“That’s ‘Timmy Schwa-rah.’ No, we just haven’t quite worked out all the details. Derek wants a late night wedding, lots of candles, organ music, the whole schmear. Just the family and a few friends, of course. I always pictured a summer wedding, myself, but… for some reason he wants it in November.”

For a moment the kitchen was silent, except for the clanking of crockery and the hiss of the sprayer from the sink. Then, tentatively, Beth said, “Honey, you just don’t seem real excited at this point. Are you getting cold feet?”

“No, no, nothing like that. I… well, I took him to meet Mom yesterday.”


“She liked him. A lot.”

“Oh.” Beth took a pile of silverware from Susan before she commented, “That’s a bad sign.”

“Tell me about it. Mom has the worst taste in men. Remember that guy Steve she fixed me up with?”

“Turned out to be a drug runner for the Mafia? I remember it well. How about Evan? She dated him, what, eight months before she found out he was married, with six kids. And let's not even mention dear old Dad. At least she didn't saddle us with his name. I don’t know anybody with a worse track record. And, she hated Dave. Told me only perverted men are grade school teachers.”

Sue laughed. “Some test. We take a guy home to meet Mom, and if she hates him, he’s a keeper.”

“What about Aunt Minnie? Did you take him to see her yet?”

The door to the kitchen swung open, and the two men came in, each loaded down with additional dishes. Derek, tall, dark, and undoubtedly magnetic, asked, “Aunt Minnie? Who might that be? Is this another relative I need to meet before our nuptials, my dear?”

“Well,” said Beth, “I guess she’s not really an aunt, just some distant cousin that we keep an eye on—and who keeps an eye on us.”

“Yeah,” added Dave. “The best kind of relative, filthy rich and incredibly ancient. Here, don’t wash those wine glasses, there’s a whole ‘nother bottle out here.” He set his pile on the kitchen table, and walked back out into the dining room.

“Really?” asked Derek, walking to the sink with his load. “So who will inherit from this ‘distant’ cousin?”

“Probably Susan,” said Beth. “She’s always been her favorite.”

“Knock it off, you guys. Minnie will live forever.” Susan started to unload Derek, setting the dishes in the sink to be rinsed.

“How elderly is Aunt Minnie? I find what you call ‘little old ladies’ quite… enjoyable. They are so sweet and charming. Perhaps she would be interested in some investment advice.”

“Dave’s right, she’s ancient. Heck, she seemed incredibly old when we first saw her, remember Sue? I was about four, I think.”

“That’s right, Beth, ‘cause I started grade school that fall. Anyway, I haven’t seen Minnie for years. We still have to sneak out to see her, even now.”

“Isn’t that the truth. She and Mom had a falling out about ten years ago, and Mom still can’t bear to hear her name mentioned. She about had apoplexy when she heard I took Dave to meet her.”

“So, what happened to the old place? Last time I went to see Minnie, she was living in the house in Biloxi.”

“Oh, Sue, didn’t you hear? The old place burned down.”

“Oh, my god! She wasn’t hurt was she?”

“No, she got out all right. Lost everything, I’m afraid. At least she’s closer to us now. She moved out near the everglades, off Okeechobee Road, west of Miami, a huge old place.”

Dave returned with a bottle of merlot. “Here, here’s your glass, Derek. Well, the result at the inquest was ‘Arson by person or persons unknown.’ Girls, glasses, please?”

“I just can’t imagine her leaving Biloxi. How did it happen?”

Reaching for her glass, Beth said, “Thanks, Dave. We just don’t know what happened. Of course, she didn’t have a dime of insurance, but you know Minnie. She bought the new place and found a ton of antiques to fill it, apparently without missing a beat.”

“She sounds quite intriguing, this mysterious aunt of yours. When will I be allowed to make her acquaintance?”
Beth said, “Why don’t you take him tonight, Sue. When’s your flight out from Miami, Derek?”

“I’m taking the midnight flight.”

“That would give you, what, two hours to meet her and chat a bit before you have to be at the airport. That way, you have an excuse to leave—otherwise she’ll keep you there all night.”

“How interesting. Yes, let’s pay a call on her. I’m just dying to meet her.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Derek. Can you stand to meet so many of my relations in one day?”

“I wouldn’t dream of missing the opportunity. But, shouldn’t we telephone to let her know we’re coming?”

“Oh no, she doesn’t believe in telephones, and I know she’d be thrilled to see Sue.” Beth peeled a sheet of paper off a notebook near the wall telephone. “Let me write down the directions. I think I remember how to get there all right, I haven’t been out there since last spring—but they’ll be close, I know.”

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