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DEBRA MULLINS: Cross-Country Romance

June 26, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

I am due to get married this September, so I don’t have an actual wedding story yet…but I do have an unusual tale to tell about how my future husband and I actually met.

I actually knew my fiancé for about four years before I actually met him in person. I work in technical support for our company, and employees from all over the country call me when they have a problem with our software. It’s always the same 300 or so employees, so over the years you get to know people.

I “knew” Jay this way, but it wasn’t until we had a particularly hairy problem that resulted in both of us spending nearly two hours on the phone one day that he really registered on my radar. Jay worked in our California office, and I am located in the corporate office in New Jersey. I’d never met him or even seen a picture, but he had always come across as so mature and professional on the phone that I imagine a much older man. I found out during this memorable conversation that he was actually only two years younger than I am!

During the course of this phone call, it came out that he was tall (so am I), that he was part of an a cappella singing group (creative, I thought…good). . .and that he had recently relocated to our Arizona office to be with his fiancée.

Can you hear the thud of my heart as it hit the ground?

Nevertheless, I was taken by this fellow, and I pathetically seized any chance I had to speak to him on the phone, even if the problem we were discussing could be handled with a simple email. He seemed to enjoy our conversations, too. The company was about to release a new product, and Jay told me there was a possibility he might be sent to New Jersey to be trained on this product. Wow, I thought, we’ll finally meet…even though he is taken! (Drat!)

This was a couple months away and not set in stone. Then a funny thing happened. I suddenly could not get a hold of him at his phone number in Arizona. We had a case we were working on, and it was unlike him not to respond. So I dropped him an email, and I got a quick reply. “Moved back to California,” it said. “Big life change. Tell you about it later.”

So I emailed him my phone numbers and told him to call me at home if he wanted to talk about it outside work.

He called. He had broken off with his fiancée and moved back home to California, and yes, he was going to be sent to New Jersey for training! So for the next six weeks we talked on the phone regularly, and the more I spoke to him, the more I liked him. There was just that one last step–the face-to-face meeting–to accomplish before either one of us felt comfortable admitting there might be something more than friendship developing. That meeting did happen the day after he arrived in New Jersey. We had made plans to go to dinner, and I went by his hotel room to pick him up since I had a car, and he was sharing one with other people who had also come out for training from his office.

He opened the door to his room, and I was so nervous, I rushed inside, babbling about needing to charge my cell phone. It took a moment to plug it in, then I turned to face him.

Violins rose in a sweeping melody. Lightning and thunder rolled, even though it was a sunny day in May. I felt as though the rug had been swept out from under me…but that even if I fell, he would catch me.

Soul mates had met.

I couldn’t believe such a thing could happen–heck, I write this stuff for a living! But he felt the same way about me. When he had to return to California after that week he was in New Jersey, we both felt as if a limb had been amputated. We spent the next three or four months flying back and forth to see each other over long weekends, and the rest of the time talking on the phone or chatting via the internet. Whenever I flew to California, we would go to Disneyland, since he lived right in Anaheim.

That autumn, a position opened up in my office that was identical to the one he held in California. By then we had both decided that we couldn’t live without each other. He posted for that job and transferred out to New Jersey in October. The following May, he proposed to me outside the door of the hotel room where he’d stayed that first time. I had no idea this was going to happen. He had gone out to California to visit his mother for Mother’s Day and had come back with an engagement ring in his pocket. He proceeded to carry this ring around for the next week and finally proposed on Friday the 13th on a day when we had had a disagreement. Never let it be said that this man is not a gambler!

Jay has been here in New Jersey for nearly two years now, and our feelings for each other have never wavered or weakened. We are set to get married on September 2, 2006 at Disneyland, the place where we spent so much time during our courtship. So I’m goin’ to the chapel…just not until September!

Debra Mullins
Scandal of the Black Rose, Avon Romantic Treasure, February 2006

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JENNIFER APODACA: Until Death Do Us Part

June 25, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

This is a bonus blog from A Slice of Orange’s Blog Editor–Jen Apodaca. We have filled up all the available spaces so I’m sneaking my blog in on a Sunday!

I came on scene in the middle of their story. By the time I was born, my Aunt Edith and Uncle Dick had been married 22 years already. To me, they were always larger than life. They had a fiery passion for social justice, they lived well and traveled the world, and they suffered some of life’s very cruel pains with dignity and strength.

My dad suddenly died when I was 13. In spite of their own grief, my aunt and uncle stepped up, making sure my mom had family support, and for me, the youngest, and only child left at home, they made sure I learned the stories that kept my dad close in my heart. They arranged family reunions to keep my dad’s side of the family together, events that have very special memories for my kids.

When my mom was dying, it was my aunt who supported me. Even though Aunt Edith was starting to struggle with her own illness, she kept up regular phone calls that were my lifeline. I was making hard decisions and she reassured me over and over that my mom trusted me implicitly and told me to never second guess her trust or love for me.

On our last Thanksgiving all together, my uncle and I were doing the dishes (he truly is a man before his time), and my uncle was telling me another story about my dad as a fighter pilot in World War II.

It finally dawned on me that for all these years, my uncle was giving me a gift of knowing my father through him. It’s a priceless gift that I will always treasure. I vividly remember looking at my uncle and asking him what he did in the war. It took some real work to get it out of him that he flew the planes that carried wounded soldiers to safety and medical care. He told me that he wasn’t as good a pilot as my dad. I beg to differ, he was a hero. And my dad would agree. I hugged him, embarrassing him to no end.

They meant the world to me, my aunt and uncle. But they weren’t finished teaching me.

Finally at 87, my aunt was dying. The courage of her and my uncle was tremendous. They accepted reality with such stunning grace. My sister and I went to spend some time with them. A moment that stood out was my uncle sitting by my aunt’s bed and adjusting it patiently to find a comfortable position.

She teased him with what little breathe she had left that he had to sit there and wait while she “tested” the position.

He looked at her with a private smile. A smile that melted the years off both of them, stripping away the illnesses and heartbreaks of life to reveal the lifetime of love between them. A love that I imagine was only a seed when they took their vows in that chapel over 65 years ago. A love that grew into a life force of its own, so vast and powerful that I knew not even death would extinguish it.

I saw what a lifetime of love looks like in that moment, and it is a rare thing of true beauty. I will carry that memory in my heart for the rest of my days.

My aunt took her last breath with my uncle by her side holding her hand. Death may have parted them, but their love lives on.

Jennifer Apodaca
THRILLED TO DEATH hardback now
BATTERIES REQUIRED in paperback now

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DANA DIAMOND: Vegas, Baby!

June 23, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

I didn’t cry at my wedding. If you knew me, you’d know how shocking that is. I cry at commercials, songs…the beauty of a nature hike can bring me to tears. But at my own wedding I didn’t shed a single tear.


Because I was so concerned about everything else!

I remember watching my husband as I walked down the aisle. This man, who doesn’t cry and still won’t admit that he did on our wedding day, was leaking like a sieve.

And here I was, with this big, fat, dopey grin on wondering why the hell I wasn’t crying…and if the coordinator had maneuvered the cake onto the dance floor like she’d hoped, and if my mom was having fun, and if the guests were comfortable, and if I would laugh my head off inappropriately during my vows, and if I would remember the steps to the intricate waltz my husband and I had practiced for our first song.

For the record, everything went beautifully. Every wedding has a major disaster story, right? Mine didn’t.

By all accounts, everyone had an amazing time. Our ceremony didn’t last too long. The food was excellent, though I only got a bite of mine. The toasts were poignant. Everyone danced like it was 1999. And our first dance was so good my girlfriend’s mom just told me last week that it is the most beautiful first dance she’s ever seen…and it was almost a decade ago.

So, even though I had this perfect, wonderful day, I always felt a little cheated that I hadn’t cried. What was wrong with me? Didn’t I love my husband? Was I not touched by the sentiment of the day?

I got my answer last year.

When we first got married we thought it’d be fun it to renew our vows in Vegas. It sounded like so much fun we said, “Let’s do it every year!”

But you know how life goes. It took us years to actually do it.

So off we went last year. And when I say we, I mean my mom and the kids too. I couldn’t leave them out of such a momentous occasion!

We stayed at the Paris. It was gorgeous! And my husband took care of all the arrangements for this ceremony. All I had to do was show up…and get the kids dressed, of course.

I didn’t wear white. There was no DJ. No photographer. No five-tier white cake with gum paste roses. No crystal Tiffany lamps on the tables. No reception at all.

But I cried.

When we got to the chapel, made famous by Michael Jordan and Jackie Collins, we ran into another lovely couple from Boston who, on a lark, hopped a plane to renew their vows after 25 years. We were chatting and cracking up in the lobby with the same attitude of “What the hell…ain’t this a kick?” But when they came out, their faces were tear-stained and wobbly. I couldn’t believe it.

“What did they do to you in there?” I asked.

But they just smiled and shrugged. They couldn’t answer. But they left hand in hand and cuddling like 18 year-olds.


Then it was our turn. My little ones were our attendants, which was really cute because one of them was just walking. And I do mean just walking. We were so proud.

And then it was time for our vows.

What went through my head this time can only be compared to what people say go through your head when you face death except it was like a montage of every hardship and joy we’d faced together. And everything the officiator said was the perfect counterpoint to everything I was feeling.

I couldn’t believe it. This cheesy Vegas ceremony in a rundown chapel that married couples faster than you could get prescription glasses affected me more than my wedding that took me a year and a half to plan.

But there I was. Focused solely on my husband this time…I didn’t know I could love him any more than I already did, but in that moment I loved him more than I ever had.

And you know all those fears you have when you’re first going through it? Can we really make it? Am I really choosing Mr. Right like I think I am? Well, while I was renewing my vows, those uncertainties weren’t even on the radar. I knew we could make it. We had. I knew he’d be Mr. Right. He was.

I bawled my freaking eyes out!

But this time there was one disaster. My little one lost Bunny! We looked for that damned thing everywhere before we finally found it…in the parking lot…with a tire track on it from where limo had run it down. Poor Bunny. My little one cried too.

Dana Diamond is the OCC/RWA Secretary, a columnist for OCC’s award winning Orange Blossom Newsletter, a contributor to The Writer’s Vibe and hard at work on her next book. For more on Dana and her interview with Charlene Sands, be sure to visit Dana’s blog at: http://www.danadiamond.blogspot.com/

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MARY WINE: A Life Guard Wedding

June 22, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

My best friend dreamed of a wedding set against the ocean. She set out to make her dreams come true but got a little too close to the water! The bridesmaids assembled on the pier for pictures and like every wedding, this felt endless. We shifted and fluffed and smiled and shifted some more. The groom decided to lean on the rail of the pier as his bride’s train was once again being fluffed. There was a crack that warned everyone the wood was giving way. The groom tensed up and the arm he had lovingly draped around his bride hooked her like a sardine as he went over. My friend’s train fluttered like a punctured parachute as she dropped into the ocean with half the groomsmen and bridesmaids jumping in right after her. We all decided that in her cathedral length gown, she was going to go straight to the bottom without our rescue. The Life Guards immediately launched a mission to save us all from our folly and the happy couple cut their cake in their jeans!

Mary Wine

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SANDY BROWN: Wedding Blues, or Gold?

June 21, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

Cathy really didn’t need to be nervous. She’d planned the perfect wedding. An outdoors ceremony, the gazebo that would frame the bride and groom sat where the setting sun would etch them in hues of pink and gold.

She sighed; relieved to know everything was in order.

Is it?

Oh no, that tiny voice in her head was at it again. With a sigh, she opened her plans book and began to pore over the arrangements once more.

Flowers—check, caterer—check, one by one she ran over the list, checking each item off to verify its completion. Finally satisfied, she slammed the book closed and clamped her hands over her ears as though she could shut out the voice in her head.

Did you…the voice began.

“La, la, la, la,” Cathy sang, covering her ears again, “I’m not listening.”

# # #

The day of the wedding flew by, and now here she was standing beside her blue-eyed, dark-haired fiancé. So handsome, and he’d picked her out of all the girls he could have had. Tonight she would become Mrs. Eric Carlotti.

The sunset couldn’t have been more perfect, highlighting the bride and groom in its amber glow. Slowly the sun sank, exposing a clear, star-lit night that promised enchantment

Eric repeated his vows in a strong, positive voice. Her heart swelled with love. As a girl she’d planned her wedding to be as magical as this one had turned out to be.

And then, the words she’d waited for. “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Eric captured her lips in a kiss full of promises, a kiss much the same as previous ones, but somehow different.
Passionate, like always, but so much more. It was a silent oath that he would always be there for her, a seal to the spoken vows.

Glowing, they walked back down the aisle to the applause of family and friends.

“Are you happy, honey?” Eric asked as they twirled in the first dance.

“Ecstatic. It turned out exactly like I planned it. Even your brothers haven’t caused trouble…yet,” she teased.

Eric and his three brothers had been well-known through their school years as incorrigible pranksters. It seemed there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for a laugh, and Cathy had spent hours, perhaps days, trying to defuse in advance each and every practical joke they might have thought up.

“I made them promise to stay cool tonight,” Eric said, “but I’m keeping an eye on them just in case.” With that he scanned the room with quick jerky side-to-side movements of his eyeballs.

Cathy laughed and hugged him tighter, resting her carefully coifed head against his chest.

Beer and wine flowed freely, and the party guests relaxed in the white plastic chairs that had been purchased for the reception. In a quiet lull between songs, a loud crack reverberated in the room.

“Yeow,” someone yelped.

Everyone grew quiet as they glanced around in search of the source of the noise. And there it was…

“Oh no,” Cathy and Eric groaned in unison.

Right in the middle of the room, one of her new husband’s uncles sat sprawled amidst the ruins of a broken plastic chair. A big man, she assumed he’d tilted back on the rear legs putting too much pressure on them.

She and Eric ran over to help Uncle Cyrus up from the floor. “Are you all right?” she asked.

He looked at the newly married couple with a raised brow. “I’m fine, but I want to know which one of you boys sabotaged my chair.”

The silence grew until someone, somewhere tittered nervously. That’s all it took for laughter to roll across the room in an explosive wave led by an obviously uninjured Uncle Cyrus.

A new chair was exchanged for the broken one and the party continued with an anxious Cathy continuously scanning the room to catch people leaning back in the suspect chairs.


Snap, crackle, pop. The room echoed with the sound as if a bowl of cereal had been placed too near the microphone.

In dismay Cathy and Eric watched as their guests dropped like flies in broken chairs. As an uncomfortable silence spread over the room, she felt like bursting into tears. Would someone get hurt at her wedding? Why was this happening?

Eric’s brother, Drew, pointed at a cousin laying flat on the floor and laughed.

“Darn you, Drew,” the cousin yelled, getting up, “you did this, didn’t you?” He set off after Drew, who grabbed a bunch of grapes that adorned the buffet table and began hurling them one at a time at his cousin.

“Oh no,” Eric groaned, before chasing after the other two.

Before Cathy knew what was happening, her guests were scrambling for cover as the other brothers and cousins joined in the melee. Grapes flew across the room in rapid fire.

Horrified tears welled in her eyes. How could Eric have allowed this to happen? As she watched he snatched a bunch of grapes and joined in. That was more than she could take, and a slow anger built in her.

She was storming out of the hall when she noticed that the guests were laughing instead of reacting in anger and disgust as she had expected. She spun in a slow circle, her white gown flowing around her ankles, and watched the guests return to the room.

Cathy forced herself to relax. Her breathing, which had been on the verge of hyperventilation, returned to normal.

The DJ, bless him, turned the volume up and the strains of Chicken Dance blasted from the speakers. The grape fight ended as quickly as it had begun. People gathered in a circle to put their energies into the ridiculous dance.

Eric showed up at her side. Turning toward him with full intentions of venting her indignation, she stopped short at the look of contrite sheepishness on his handsome face. Cathy plucked a grape off of his shoulder and grinned.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” he murmured. “I told them to behave, but maybe I just shouldn’t have invited them.”

“Sweetheart,” she replied, “this is so much better than you shoving cake all over my face.”

His brows lifted in astonishment, and she knew he’d expected a much different reaction from her. He pulled her into his arms and swung her back and forth.

“I love you,” he whispered in her ear.

“Me too,” she answered.

“You love yourself?” he teased.

She swatted his shoulder. “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I do.”

She settled against him, happy and content. This was the man she’d chosen and the family she’d married into. And she couldn’t be happier!

Sandy Brown
OCC/RWA Ways and Means Director

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