My Big Fat Superhero Wedding

Episode 9 of Relativity

by Michelle and James Lehmann

 

Michael Bruce glanced at his watch. 7:15. He didn’t like being late under normal circumstances, but he really hated it when it was something important. Even though he knew Ravenswood was well aware of the things he had to do in order to maintain his business and crimefighting, Michael couldn’t help but fear his friend would be upset that he was hadn’t made it on time to his wedding rehearsal.

Heading up the stairs and through the heavy wooden doors, Michael made his way into the church. There was a small group of people milling around the altar. Ravenswood and Melody were at the rear, along with an older woman.

“I’m sorry,” Michael apologized. “The mergers and acquisitions meeting went long. I couldn’t get out of the office.”

Melody smiled and placed a kiss on his cheek. “It’s okay. The priest had to go take a call anyway. He should be back in a few minutes.” She motioned to the woman next to her. “You remember my mother, right?”

“Yes, we’ve met a few times. How are you, Mrs. Krol?”

“Not as nervous as these two,” she laughed. “But I have my own case of jitters. Thankfully tomorrow is the big day so we don’t have too much longer to wait.”

Ravenswood gave a small motion of his hand. “C’mon, why don’t I introduce you to everyone before we start.”

The two headed down the long center aisle. “Dolan,” the private eye called.

“Here,” a man said as he pushed through the crowd. He was Ravenswood’s age, with thinning brown hair and blue eyes. But what struck Michael the most was his height—only four feet tall.

“Michael, this is my cousin, Dolan Chapek. Dolan, this is Michael Bruce.”

“I’ve heard so much about you,” Dolan said as he grasped his hand.

“Same here.” Even though he was trying to look casual, Michael felt himself staring. “Um, I’m sorry. Ravenswood didn’t mention you were—”

“So short?” He smiled wide. “He never mentioned you were so tall, either.”

Michael felt his face flush. “I’m sorry, I must seem terribly rude.”

Dolan waved his hand. “No, not at all. Ray and I grew up together, so we don’t notice any difference in each other. But the reality is that it’s a bit jarring for people when they first see me.”

“Well, honestly, I wasn’t sure if I should say you were a little person or something else.”

“I understand. That’s quite a hot spot with many people I know. My dad gets really insistent on the ‘person of slight stature’ title, while most of the people I know prefer ‘little person.’ I’m not offended by the term ‘midget,’ so it’s not a big deal. My hope is that once people get to know me, they don’t think of me as anything but ‘Dolan.’”

The man was gracious and Michael could see why Ravenswood thought so highly of him. “Well, it’s great to finally meet you.” He glanced around. “Who else is here?”

“On my side—Dolan is my best man, you and Melody’s cousin, George, are the groomsmen. Over there is Melody’s friend, Anna, and she’s the maid of honor...”

As the private eye rattled off the names, Michael committed them to memory. Even though he and Ravenswood had been friends for years, he realized that he had met very few of his relatives.

“...and that’s Father O’Connell,” he concluded, pointing to the man who appeared from the back room. “He’ll be conducting the ceremony.”

“Mr. Bruce,” the cleric greeted in a heavy Irish brogue. “You finally made it. Shall we get started?”

With a nod, the CEO stepped to the side as the priest began to give instructions.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

The rehearsal dinner was being held at The Slotted Spoon, a family-style restaurant about a mile from the church. The establishment had a banquet room in the back, and the members of the Cadavre/Krol wedding party slowly made their way in.

Michael was wondering which table he should sit at when an older man approached him and shoved a palm in his direction.

“Mr. Cadavre,” the CEO said, grasping the man’s hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Since my son wasn’t considerate enough to introduce us formally, I thought I’d do it myself.”

Michael glanced around the room, catching sight of his friend near the door. The detective got a panicked look and hurried towards them.

“He’s been busy, sir. I’m sure he planned to.”

“Well, I want to thank you for what you’ve done for Woody. You took pity on him. If it weren’t for your giving him a job, he’d probably be in the gutter right now.”

Ravenswood made it to his father’s side just in time to hear the tail-end of the statement. He flushed red.

“Ray’s a fine man and a good friend,” Michael said. “His work for my company has been exceptional. I’m very lucky to have him on my team.”

The man gave a roll of his eyes, then leaned in close to his son. “You know, I’m supposed to be covering the cost of this. You didn’t tell me there would be so many people here. This is gonna cost seven, eight hundred dollars.”

“I told you that we were doing the whole wedding party. This is about typical size.” Ravenswood wrung his hands. “Whatever you were planning to spend, me and Mel will make up the difference.”

Albert Cadavre grimaced. “Well, I don’t think it’s fair. What about Melody’s parents?”

“They’re paying for the whole wedding,” he said, his voice strained.

“You know,” Michael said with a shrug. “How about I get this one? I never did get you guys an engagement present and that bothered me. I’ll pick up the tab and your dad can grab the tip.”

The man scowled. “How much is the tip?”

Ravenswood held up his hand. “I’ll handle the tip, okay, Dad? Why don’t you go sit down.”

Albert mumbled a quick thanks and headed to one of the tables.

“I’m so embarrassed,” Ravenswood said, grabbing Michael’s arm. “Thank you for that.”

“What does it matter having money if you can’t help your friends? Besides, I was serious about the gift. I’ve always felt like a heel for that.” Ravenswood looked like he was struggling to hold back tears, so Michael turned away to give him a moment to compose himself. “I’m going to go get something from the bar. Care to join me in a club soda with lime?”

The private eye nodded. “That sounds great.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

It was a quarter past seven when the silver Lexus pulled up to the Midnight Lounge. Michael got out and handed the keys to the valet as the three other passengers exited.

“All right, the strip club!” George said, bouncing up and down.

Dolan shook his head. “This isn’t a strip club.”

“It isn’t?”

“No, it’s a night club,” Ravenswood said. “They have stand-up comics on Saturday night.”

George’s face fell. “Oh. Not that I’m complaining, but I usually like more strippers in my strip clubs.”

“Are you kidding?” The private eye headed for the front door. “Melody would kill me if I went to a strip club the night before our wedding.”

“My wife would kill me and we’re already married,” Dolan added.

“Sara wouldn’t kill me,” Michael smirked. “But I think she would punch me really hard.”

George’s mouth turned down into a pout.

“Listen,” Ravenswood said. “You can enjoy going to see comedians, or you can ditch us and go to a strip club on your own. Your choice.”

George sighed and shrugged. “I guess I’ll stick with you guys.”

The four of them went inside.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

“Do you know how many babies they have to squeeze to make one jar of baby oil?”

Laughter rippled through the room.

Michael’s cell phone began to buzz and Ravenswood’s brow furrowed. With a “don’t worry” gesture, his friend rose and walked away from the table.

“What’s that all about?” asked Dolan, keeping his voice low.

“There’s some important stuff going down at the office,” Ravenswood lied. “And before you ask: Yes, it’s more important than my wedding. Trust me, it’s a big sacrifice for him to come tonight.”

Dolan gave him a doubtful look but said nothing.

After a few minutes, the CEO returned. “Uh, listen, I’ve got a bit of an emergency going on—”

Ravenswood cut him off. “I already explained it to them. You go do what you need to.”

“Thanks,” Michael smiled. “You stay here, though.”

Watching the man leave, George puckered his lips. “Well, that was pretty rude of him. Now we’re stranded.”

“We’ll take a cab,” Ravenswood said. “It’s no big deal.”

George sat back in his chair and scowled. “I’ll bet he ran off with some girl.”

Dolan sighed and turned to the man. “Look, George, I know from experience that sometimes business has to take priority. It sucks, but you do what you have to do. Now give us all a break, will you?”

Ravenswood smiled to himself. As kids, he could always count on his cousin to back him up. It made him feel good to know that no matter how much things changed in his life, some things would always be the same.

Trying to clear his mind, he focused his attention back on the comedian.

“So, tell me, how many penguins does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Sara Wolff walked down the street, her eyes scanning the building numbers. “The Cabinet,” she read off the purple card in her hand. She had heard that the men were headed to a comedy club, and she hoped Melody’s bachelorette party would be along the same lines. However, as she approached the address and saw the silhouettes of buff men in the window, she realized a night of jokes and celebrity impersonations wasn’t on the agenda. Showing the invitation to the bouncer, she walked into the strip club.

A half-dozen men were situated on a small runway, straddling bar stools, rubbing up and down on poles, and doing their best to entice the women who were gathered around. Sara caught sight of Melody across the room and headed over.

“Welcome,” a brunette wearing a feather boa greeted. “I’m Kristie, Mel’s friend. You must be Sara.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” she said with a crooked smile.

“Great, you’re just in time. Joey Boa Constrictor is supposed to be out here soon. He’s gonna do a special wedding girl dance for us.”

The other women at the table began to hoot, but Melody just blushed and covered her face with her hands.

One of the men hopped off the stage and grabbed Sara’s arm, grinding his hips against hers. “Oh, my gosh,” she gasped, yanking away. The man turned and began to dance with one of the other girls.

With a deep sigh, she sank into one of the chairs. It was going to be a long night.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

As Kristie promised, Melody had been taken on-stage for a dance with one of the club’s premier strippers. The man twisted, turned and swayed his hips as he placed Melody’s hands on his body. Even though she took it in stride, it was clear the bride-to-be was more embarrassed than aroused.

Afterwards, Sara had managed to sneak off alone to a secluded corner of the club. It was near the “private rooms” where female patrons purchased lap dances. Mixed with the music and hoots were some moans and groans which suggested a bit more might be happening around the corner. Sara closed her eyes and tried to ignore the sounds.

It was nearly ten o’clock when Melody spotted her and made her way over. The blonde slid into an empty seat. “I’m sorry you’re not having a good time.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” Sara said. “I’ve never really been into the bar scene. In school, I was a bookworm. I rarely went out drinking or dancing.”

Melody giggled. “Well, I was a total party girl. In college, I went to bars, strip clubs, frat parties, you name it. I loved to go out and dance and get drunk. But now, it’s different. All my girlfriends are having a blast and I could care less. All I keep thinking is that I want to go home, get married, and start my life with Ray. I want to be his wife. I want to live in the same house. I want to be intimate.”

Sara’s brow furrowed. “Um, you mean you haven’t...”

Even though it was dark in the corner, Sara could still see Melody’s cheeks flush. “I mean, we have, but... See, Ray and I met at the coffee shop. He would come in to use the internet. We started talking and discovered how much we have in common. We were ‘just-friends’ for a long time. Then we started dating. Thing is, when we started dating, we stopped being friends. We started concentrating so much on being boyfriend and girlfriend, and on the...” Her voice trailed off.

“Sex?” Sara offered.

The blonde nodded. “Yes, on the sex—that we lost sight of what brought us together. We nearly broke up because of it. Anyhow, when Ray proposed, we both decided we would wait until we were married to make love again.”

Sara was flabbergasted. “So you haven’t done anything all this time?”

“Well, admittedly, there have been a few times where the moment got better of us. But, for the most part, no.” Glancing at the group of women still dancing with the strippers, Melody shook her head. “I know it sounds stupid. My girlfriends give me such flack over it.”

“Not at all. I think it’s sweet.” She gave a coy smile. “And I think your wedding night is going to be amazing.”

Almost on cue, a passionate cry came from one of the private rooms and both women blushed.

“Why don’t we go back with your friends?” Sara suggested.

Melody nodded. “Yeah. We should probably be heading home soon.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

St. John’s Cathedral was a Catholic church located on the far west side of Gale. It was one of the older buildings in the city, and Yule had to stop a moment to marvel at the architecture. Holding the door open for Sarar, the two headed inside. The church was packed with friends and family, and nearly every seat was filled. An usher hurried them to a spot in the very back row. A mere three minutes later, the organ began to chime.

Ravenswood stood at the altar as the wedding procession began. The bridesmaids were dressed in shimmering blue gowns with silver stars on the skirt, and the groomsmen wore black tuxedos with matching cummerbunds. Once the best man and maid-of-honor had passed, two small girls walked down the center aisle, tossing snow white rose petals on the ground.

The music then shifted and the Wedding March began to play. Melody wore a traditional white gown with fur trim and tiny crystals sparkling all over. The only word Yule could think to describe her was “stunning.” He felt Sara’s hand slip into his, squeezing it tight.

Someday I’ll be walking you down the aisle, he thought as he smiled down at his daughter.

The bride made it to the front of the church and everyone settled in as the priest moved into position. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Sara sat in silence as Yule drove to the banquet hall. The wedding had been beautiful, and she had destroyed her make-up with all the tears she’d shed. She was touching up her mascara when the Mercedes pulled up to the Chateau LeRouge.

The reception was being held in the Blue Room, a grand hall which could easily seat two hundred people. The wedding party hadn’t arrived yet, but a number of guests were already there. Most of them had congregated around the hors d’oeuvres table, which offered an impressive display of bite-size dishes. The focal point of the arrangement was a giant liver-pate fish.

“Wouldn’t have been my first choice of centerpieces,” Sara whispered as she grabbed a mini-eggroll and placed it on her plate.

The seating assignments showed them at table thirty-four. From the other guests on the list, Sara realized it was one of the “left-over” tables—the place where you placed friends and family who don’t really fit-in anywhere else. Not recognizing any of the other names, she grabbed the placards and headed over.

“Who did Michael bring to the wedding?” she asked her father as she seated herself. The church had been so crowded, she hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to her brother after the ceremony, and she had no idea who he had brought as his date.

“Isabelle,” Yule answered, poking at the various appetizers on his plate. He picked up a devilled egg and popped it into his mouth.

“Who’s Isabelle?”

“Michael’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. She’s a fashion photographer.”

“Girlfriend?” Sara felt a bit hurt by that. “Why didn’t he ever mention her to me?”

“Because he was off-again with her for a while.” Dipping a carrot stick into some French dressing, he took a bite. “You know about Carrie, right?”

Michael had told her that he’d been involved with a woman years earlier, but never shared the details. “He’s mentioned her...”

“Well, he was at a shoot with her in Australia and Isabelle was the photographer. They started talking and turns out she keeps an apartment in Gale, so they began dating.”

“Oh.” Sara blinked a few times. “What about Carrie?”

“He still sees her on occasion. I guess they’re on-again, off-again, too. But she’s far too busy with her career, so they don’t hook-up often.”

Sara sighed. It didn’t surprise her that Michael would have so many women, but it made her feel even more like a failure in her own love life.

“Hello, there,” a woman said, walking up to the table. She was in her late 40s, with coiffed brown hair and green eyes. She gave Sara a quick wave, but her attention was centered on Yule. “I’m Geraldine, Melody’s godmother.”

Yule’s eyebrow perked up. “Nice to meet you. I’m Ulysses David and this is my niece, Sara Wolff.”

I’m your daughter, Sara thought to say, then remembered that Yule was supposedly a distant relative of the Bruce family. She bit into a piece of cauliflower to keep quiet.

Geraldine slid into her chair and began chatting with Yule. Sara tried to join the conversation, but it was obvious the two were focused on each other. Her mouth twisting, she poked at the broccoli on her plate.

A few minutes later, another woman approached. Her skin was bronze, her eyes brown, and her wavy black hair reached to the middle of her back. When she spoke, she had a thick Latino accent. “You must be Sara.”

Grasping the woman’s hand, Sara blushed. “Yes, I am. I’m sorry. Do I know you?”

“I’m Isabelle Suarez. Michael’s told me so much about you.”

As the women exchanged pleasantries, a young couple moved to the table, filling two more seats. The room was nearly full and everyone began to get anxious for the arrival of the guests of honor.

Fifteen minutes later, the lights dimmed and colored spotlights shone on the doorway. The deejay introduced the members of wedding party as they entered, The bride and groom made their way in last, greeted by thunderous applause. As Melody and Ravenswood situated themselves at the head table, waiters began to appear from the kitchen.

“Oh gosh, sorry we’re late,” an auburn-haired woman said, rushing to the table. She plopped her large purse down, knocking over a water glass. “Traffic was terrible.”

A black-haired man slid down next to her. “We didn’t make the ceremony. How was it?”

“Lovely,” said Isabelle. “I should have thought to bring my camera.”

“I’m Leslie and this is Dick,” the woman said in introduction. “I’m a client of Ravenswood’s private eye business.”

Yule began to clean up the spilled water. “Really? I didn’t think he did much of that anymore.”

“Oh, he doesn’t. But back in the day, I used his services a lot. I was always having him track my husband, to see if he was fooling around.”

Dick smiled and nodded. “Yeah, he managed to get a lot of dirt on me, didn’t he?”

The couple laughed heartily and then kissed.

“Well you’re just in time,” Yule said, returning to his seat. “They’re about to serve dinner.”

“Excellent. What’s on the menu?”

“I heard it’s mostly Polish food,” Isabelle said.

Yule smiled wide. “That sounds good to me. I love pierogi and golumpki.”

Dick grimaced. “I don’t care much for that.”

The photographer shrugged. “They have regular fried chicken and mashed potatoes, too. Or you could go next door. I hear there’s a huge Italian wedding. Lots of pasta, meatballs, and cannoli.”

The man rose. “That’s a good idea. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Isabelle leaned over towards Sara. “I wasn’t serious.” The two women giggled.

A server appeared holding a large tray above his head. Sara arranged the napkin on her lap as the waiter placed a salad in front of her.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

It was 8:30 when everyone had finished eating. Despite the awkward chatter in the beginning, the conversation during dinner had been light and cheerful. Everyone at the table seemed to make an effort to talk with everyone else, with the exception of Yule. He kept his full attention on Geraldine, which included a game of footsies which Sara managed to get an unexpected eyeful of when she dropped her napkin on the floor.

As the staff cleared away the dishes, the guests started to mill about the room. Michael, who had been seated with the wedding party, finally caught up with them. From his expression, Sara could tell he was feeling good from the wine.

“Sara,” he said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Gosh, you look pretty. You met Izzi, right?”

“Oh, yes,” Isabelle said, her eyes lighting up when she caught sight of him. “We’ve had a great time talking. You didn’t tell me your sister lived in South America. I was born not too far from where her foster family is.”

Michael didn’t seem to hear her. “I didn’t tell you how beautiful you look,” he whispered, his mouth moving to hers.

Watching the passionate lip-lock, Sara felt her face flush. Her brother was a bit more tipsy than she had first thought.

“Let’s dance,” he said as he pulled the Latino woman out of her chair.

The other couples rose and followed. Even Geraldine grabbed Yule’s hand and yanked him out onto the dance floor. Sara looked around the empty table and plopped head down on her hand. “Alone again.”

“Hey,” Dick said, returning with a plateful of ravioli. “That food next door is great, even though it looks like a Goodfellas convention in there.”

Sara cocked her head. “What do you mean?”

“Big time mafiosos. I’m surprised they don’t have tommy guns. Oops, I see my wife dancing with someone. Better go break it up.”

As the man left, Sara looked around the room. She wanted to congratulate the bride and groom, but there was a long line of guests waiting to talk to them. There was no one else at the wedding that she knew, and she didn’t want to be rude and just barge into someone else’s conversation. Frustrated and bored, she decided to head over to the deejay table. Maybe she could request a song or two.

Making her away around the dance floor, she heard a voice call from behind her.

“Hey, toots. Wanna tango?”

“Toots?”

She turned to see an older man with dark olive skin, black hair, and thick bushy eyebrows. He wore a dark gray pinstripe suit and highly polished shoes. “Nice joint, here, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.”

Scooping her into his arms, he began to sway. “I’m Vito. Your name isn’t Maria, is it? You look just like my cousin Maria.”

“Oh, no, I’m Sara,” she said with a giggle. “So, whose side of the church were you on?”

The man grimaced. “Church?”

“Bride or groom?”

“Oh, um. Both.”

“So you know both the Krol and Cadavre families?”

The man’s eyes widened. “Hey, I don’t know nothing about any dead bodies, okay? I’m just here for the food.”

Starting to feel a bit uncomfortable, Sara glanced around. Yule had moved to the sidelines, but was still talking with Geraldine. Michael was several feet away, dirty dancing with Isabelle. Rolling her eyes, she realized she was going to have to rescue herself this time. “Listen, I really have to—”

“Dip,” the man cried, pitching her backwards. As he leaned over, his suit jacket popped open and Sara gasped.

Vito pulled her back up and whirled her into a spin. She finally stopped back in his arms. “How was that?” he asked. “My Nana always said, get the girls with the fancy dancing.”

“Oh, yes.” She tried to shake off the dizziness. “Fancy dancing.”

Pulling her close, the man sniffed. “You smell pretty. So, are you seeing anyone? I’d love to take you for pizza and beer sometime.”

“Yeah, sure, maybe some time. Oh, gosh, look, there’s cousin Wilma. I must say hello. Thank you for the dance.”

Her heart pounding, Sara tried to casually rush to the far end of the room. She wanted to find her father, but he and Geraldine had disappeared. Michael was back at the table, so she hurried over.

Drinking down a the rest of his vodka, her brother smiled. “Sara, did you meet Izzi?”

“You asked me that already.” Catching a whiff of his breath, Sara gagged. “Oh my gosh, are you drunk?”

“Just a little,” he slurred.

Isabelle smiled as he pulled her onto his lap. “It’s okay. I’m taking care of him. Did you need something?”

Yes, I need Black Torrent, she thought, but instead said, “It can wait.” Turning, she headed for the bride and groom across the room.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Ravenswood grabbed Melody’s hand, leading her to a secluded corner of the room. He wrapped his arms around her waist and smiled. “You happy?”

“Best day of my life,” she whispered.

As their lips moved to meet, a familiar redhead appeared from the crowd. “Oh, my gosh, thank goodness you’re alone.”

“What’s wrong?”

Sara pointed into the crowd. “That guy. He’s carrying a gun in his suit.”

Ravenswood shook his head. “He doesn’t look familiar.”

“He’s not from my side of he family,” Melody added. “He looks Italian. I wonder if he’s from the party next door.”

Sara’s eyes got wide. “Oh, my gosh. Your friend was saying that it looked like there was a bunch of mobsters over there. Do you think maybe he was right?”

Melody shrugged. “Gale certainly has enough crime families. It’s possible.”

Ravenswood took a few steps forward, scanning the crowd. Near the door, he caught sight of another Italian man peering out into the hallway; three more men were standing near the disk jockey.

“I’m counting five. It definitely looks like they’re hiding out in here, waiting.”

“Until they can strike?” Melody looked around. “Where’s Michael?”

“He’s totally drunk,” Sara said. “I don’t think he can stand up.”

“Then we gotta do it.” Ravenswood turned to the redhead. “Do you have your costume?”

“No, why would I?”

The couple rolled their eyes in unison. “Always have your uniform,” Melody droned, sounding just like Yule.

The private eye glanced around. “We’ll duck into the bride’s room and change. Meet us outside of there in ten minutes.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Melody peeked out of the bathroom. “Is the coast clear?”

“Yeah,” Sara said.

Overcast and Zephyra emerged into the small room designated for the bridal party. Since many couples headed straight to their honeymoon, the banquet hall provided a secluded area for them to change and have a bit of quiet. Even though they had brought their costumes out of habit, Melody never thought she’d be changing into crimefighting gear at her reception.

“I overheard one of the guys talking,” Sara said. “He mentioned something about the Mendoccios?”

Overcast cringed. “The Goose. Crap. Big time family.”

“I guess the groom is a cousin or something.”

“They’re going to hit at a wedding?” Melody asked in disbelief. “What scum.”

Ravenswood adjusted the hat on his head. “Well, we can’t go in there dressed like this. We’d stand out like sore thumbs. Plus, if these guys are serious, they could just start shooting. We gotta do this on the sly.”

“How?”

The couple turned to face Sara.

“Me?” she peeped.

“You gotta find a way to bring them over to us, so we can take care of them.” Reaching into his bag, Overcast pulled out a transmitter. “So we can hear you.”

Clipping the small black device to the top of her dress, she squared her shoulders. “Okay. Wait here.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Sara returned to the reception room. She looked for the man she’d been dancing with earlier, but he wasn’t around. There was another man near the dessert table, picking cherries out of the punch bowl with a steak knife.

“Hey,” she said, trying to sound perky. “You’re Vito’s friend, right?”

The man shot her a sideways glance, then looked her up and down. “Yeah, why?”

“He said he needed to see you. He said it was about ‘the thing.’ He said you’d know what that meant.” Glancing at the table, she started to pick at the orange slices, hoping she wouldn’t look suspicious.

Shoving a maraschino into his mouth, he nodded. “Okay, where?”

“This way.” She moved into the hallway, adding a little sway to her hips for effect. “In there,” she said, pointing to the bridal suite.

Stepping in first, Sara leapt to the side, giving the superheroes a clear shot. Zephyra grabbed the man from behind and clamped her hand over his mouth. Overcast jumped in front of him and pulled a small canister from his pocket. He pumped the spray into the man’s face. A moment later, the Italian’s eyes closed and he slumped to the floor.

“That was great,” Overcast said with a thumbs-up. “Now go do that four more times.”

Rolling her eyes, Sara nodded and headed back down the corridor. When she returned to the party area, Vito was by the doorway, peering into the adjacent banquet room. His hand was tucked into his lapel, and she feared he was eyeing a target.

“Hey there,” she said, batting her eyelashes. “I was looking for you. Your friend wanted me to come and get you. He said it was important. It was about what you were doing tonight.”

Vito’s eyes narrowed. He glanced around the room. “You mean Benny? Where is he?”

“I’ll show you.”

Vito followed close as she swaggered towards the bridal room. His eyes narrowed. “I don’t know about this. Why’d he tell you anything?”

Sara felt her heart start to race, but tried to keep a sweet composure. “It’s just up ahead. It’s okay.”

The man stopped and grabbed her arm. “Something’s not right here. C’mon.” Holding her tight, he pulled her back to the main room and approached one of the other guys. “Hey, Tommy, have you seen Benny?”

“No.” He glanced at Sara. “I saw him leave with her.”

Vito sneered and Sara began to tremble. “Where is he?” he growled, shaking her.

“I told you, back there. If you’ll just go with me...”

A man Sara recognized as one of the wedding party—Dolan, she believed—approached the group. “Hey, guys. Why don’t you leave the lady alone? I’m sure you’ve had a few too many drinks, so just relax, okay?”

“Who the hell are you, little man?” Vito growled. In a fluid movement, he pulled a revolver from his jacket and waved it in front of the dwarf. “Sit down,” he ordered. He pushed Sara into a chair and turned to his partner. “All right, we’re switching to Plan B. Let’s go.”

The other mobsters in the crowd moved to the three exits, locking the doors. Vito walked up to the deejay and placed the .45 to the man’s head. Motioning with his finger, he grabbed the microphone.

“All right folks, I’m your new deejay for tonight,” he announced. “We have a new game for you to play, it’s called ‘sit down and be quiet and no one gets shot.’” It took a moment for the crowd to realize what was going on, but as the men held their guns high, everyone started to scream.

“Shut up!” Vito ordered.

Sara sat in her chair, biting her lip. She looked pleadingly in Michael’s direction, but he was totally passed out. If nothing else, she was happy that most of the party-goers were calming down and listening to the men.

Wondering what she should do next, her attention was distracted by an obnoxious voice.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She recognized the man as Albert Cadavre, Ravenswood’s father. He stood to face the mobster closest to him. “This is a wedding. You think you can just bust in here and scare everyone?”

 

Ravenswood listened through the communicator. Even though the sound was garbled, he knew what was happening. “Oh, my God, my father’s big mouth. He’s going to get shot.” As much as the man annoyed him, he didn’t want anything to happen to him. He certainly didn’t want him getting killed. There was no time to plan, they had to act—now. “C’mon.”

Zephyra shook her head. “How? We can’t just run in there. I don’t want anyone else getting hurt.”

A voice sounded over the communicator. It was Sara in a strained whisper. “There’s four of them. One near the north door. One at the DJ table. One near the punch bowl, and one at the center of the dance floor.”

Ravenswood smiled. He was starting to like Michael’s sister more and more.

“That’s how,” he nodded. “C’mon, I know what we need to do.”

 

Sara had pulled the collar of her dress up to her mouth to whisper the men’s positions. As she finished, she noticed Dolan staring at her.

“Who are you talking to?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

Dropping her hand, she just smiled and glanced around. The gift table wasn’t far away. Her eye fell on the present she had bought for the couple. If she could just get over there...

Across the room, the thug pointed his gun at Albert. “Hey, old man, back off.”

“I will not back off. You can’t come in here and do this! There are children here!” he bellowed. “What were you thinking?”

With a loud crash, one of the doors burst open, Overcast and Zephyra plowing into the room. It was enough of a surprise that the men paused before turning to shoot.

“Get down,” Sara yelled. Everyone in the room began to scream and drop to the floor.

Overcast leapt towards his target—the guy who had been stationed near the door. After three punches to the face, the mafioso was dizzy enough for the crimefighter to knock the gun from his hand. He then kneed him in the groin.

Zephyra had entered and headed for the man near the center of the room. When he turned to shoot, she jumped on an empty chair and used it to launch into the air. As the bullet sailed beneath her, she collided with the criminal and knocked him into the punch table, liquid and glasses flying everywhere. Pulling a small taser from her pocket, she shoved it into his side. The mobster screamed in pain and released his gun.

Using the distraction to her advantage, Sara fell to the ground. “Cover me,” she whispered to Dolan.

“Cover you?”

She started to crawl over to the gift table.

“Oh, gosh, he’s got a girl,” she heard Dolan gasp.

“Everyone freeze or the broad gets it,” she heard one of the criminals shout. Glancing back, she saw that Tommy was at the far end of the room, his gun pressed against Isabelle’s temple.

Keep going, she thought to herself, hoping no one would notice. She managed to make it to her present and opened the box.

“Hey, lady, ixnay,” Dolan whispered harshly. “Carrot-top!”

Sara had just realized he was talking to her when she heard the metallic click of a gun cocking.

“What are you doing there?” It was Vito’s voice and he wasn’t happy. “Get up.”

Wrapping her fingers around the handle of her gift, she rose. She could feel the man poking her in the back with the gun barrel—he was right behind her.

“Now turn around,” he ordered.

In a fluid movement, Sara whipped around and bashed the man in the side of the head with the cast iron skillet. Vito groaned and staggered back. Dolan didn’t waste a moment. He rammed his head into the man’s midsection, pushing him to the ground. He then grabbed the gun and pointed it at the mobster’s head. “Who’s the little man now?”

The action was enough of a diversion for the thug holding Isabelle to lower his gun. The woman stomped her leg down, ramming the tip of her pointed high heel deep into his foot.

“Aaargh, bitch,” he screamed.

“Get him!” someone cried. Relatives and friends rushed forward, grabbing the man and disarming him. The Italian hitman screamed as fists and legs assaulted him.

It was only a few minutes after the crimefighters has arrived, but all of the mobsters were apprehended. A small cheer went through the crowd.

With a crash, the north door opened and five men dressed in suits and fedoras stepped in. Sara sucked in a ragged breath. “Not again.”

Before anyone could react, the men parted. A shorter, rotund man dressed in a pale gray suit entered the room.

Dolan’s eyes grew wide. “The Goose.”

 

Ravenswood knew who the man was immediately. He had been working in Gale long enough to know most of the crime families. However, Gustavo “The Goose” Mendoccio was a big enough name that most people around the country had heard of him. Some even argued he was more famous that Al Capone.

The mob boss caught sight of one of the incapacitated thugs. “Vito Carpelli. So, Mr. Palermo decided to send you to hit my family on little Tony’s wedding day. Tsk, tsk.” There was still high tension around the room, and the crime lord raised his hands in a non-threatening manner. “Everyone relax. We’re friends here.” He gave a motion of his finger. “Boys, put the guns away.”

As his men did as told, the Goose approached the crimefighters, hugging and kissing them both. “Capes. I love you guys. Takes tons of moxie to dress up like that and run around the city beating up the bad guys.”

Overcast flinched. Unfortunately, the Goose and his men were part of the bad guys. Beyond the doors leading to the hallway, the detective noticed the patrons from the adjacent wedding party all sneaking out.

“Is your reception over already?” he asked.

“I’m sure the police are coming soon. We don’t want any trouble with the authorities.” He motioned to the thugs on the ground. “I have to thank you for taking care of this little problem. You helped make my nephew’s wedding day a good one.” The man adjusted his lapel. “The Goose now owes you a favor. Whatever you need, just ask.” As he turned to leave, he leaned back over his shoulder. “Just don’t try to cash it in too soon, okay?”

Mendoccio and his lackeys left quietly, and a moment later the room across the hall was empty.

“Hey, where’s Ravenswood and Melody?” Aunt Eunice called, noticing for the first time that the couple of honor was missing.

Zephyra piped up. “They might be in trouble. We’ll go and see if we can find them.” She darted out the door.

Overcast looked at the crowd, whose eyes were now all on him. Forcing a smile, he gave a small salute and hurried out after his partner.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Sara exhaled and looked around to make sure everyone was okay. Remarkably, the only ones injured were the thugs, and the family members had taken it upon themselves to restrain them. She turned back to the door. “You know, I think I’m going to go help them find Melody and Ravenswood,” she whispered to Dolan.

As she stepped out of the room, the man followed. “I’ll go, too.”

The redhead thought to argue, but realized she might give something away. She headed down the hallway.

“So, what’s your name?” Dolan asked.

“Sara. I’m Michael Bruce’s sister.”

“Ah,” he said with a nod. “You were pretty good with that frying pan. Where’d you learn to do that?”

“I saw it in a movie once.”

Keeping her pace slow, Sara hoped to give her friends enough time to change back into their civilian gear. However, Dolan had already caught sight of the bride’s lounge and rushed ahead. “Let’s check in there.”

 

Melody shoved her black crimefighting suit behind the couch, then struggled with her wedding gown. Ravenswood was stripped down to his boxers and trying to get his pants on.

“I hate cummerbunds,” he grumbled.

“It took three of my girlfriends to help me get into this dress,” she groaned. “I’m never going to get it on that quick.” There was a rattling at the door. “Oh, my gosh, someone’s here. What’re we gonna do?”

Ravenswood’s eyes grew wide, his mind whirling. He sucked in a deep breath and fell back onto the couch, Pulling Melody on top of him. “Just go with it,” he ordered as he pressed his mouth to hers.

The door opened and Sara stepped in, giving a squeal before she covered her eyes.

Dolan rushed in from behind her. “What is it—? Aaahhh!” he screamed, as he caught sight of the couple.

Melody rose and grabbed the gown from the floor, covering her half-naked body. Ravenswood didn’t have to fake blushing. “Oops, I’m sorry. We were just—”

Dolan gave a half smile and waved his hand. “Yeah, um, I understand. Listen, we had an incident back in the room. I think you both need to get back there.”

Sara nodded, her hand still over her eyes. “I’ll tell them you’re all right and will be back soon.”

The two left, pulling the door shut behind them. Ravenswood sighed. “Oh, my gosh, that was close.”

Melody flushed red but smiled. “That was quick thinking, honey.” Her voice stopped and sucked into a gasp. She reached up to her head, then turned to the corner to see the pile of long blonde tresses rumpled on the floor. “Oh, my gosh. My wig. I didn’t have it on.” She stared at her husband. “Do you think he noticed?”

Ravenswood closed his eyes. Dolan noticed everything. “It doesn’t matter. We just have to run with this. C’mon, let’s get dressed and get back in there.”

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

“This is the wedding everyone will be talking about for years,” cousin Jane said, squeezing Melody’s arm. “I hope you enjoy your trip.”

Most of the relatives had filtered out into the lobby. The police had arrived and had carted the Palermo gang away. They then proceeded to get statements from the patrons before letting them go home.

Ravenswood caught sight of Sara. She was checking on Michael, who was still mostly unconscious. He and Melody headed over.

“Is he all right?” asked the private eye.

Sara nodded and smiled. “The one night he decides not to be the designated driver. He’s going to feel terrible about this in the morning.” She lowered her voice to just above a whisper. “You know, you guys are always saying the Bruces have a superhero gene, but your family was pretty amazing today. I think you both get it honestly.”

The couple blushed.

“Ravenswood!” a voice cried. From across the room, Albert Cadavre stormed through. “There you are. Someone said you and Melody were back in the bridal room! Seriously, couldn’t you wait until your honeymoon to screw around? Your party was nearly killed by mobsters, and you and her were off making out?”

The groom cringed. He wanted to scream and tell his father that he and Melody were the reason that everyone was okay. He wanted to blurt out that he was Overcast the hero, not the screw-up Albert thought him to be. But he didn’t. Instead, he did what he always did, what he had done since he was five years old. He looked down and remained silent. In a huff, his father stormed away.

“I think you get your superhero gene from your mother’s side,” Melody whispered, softly.

With a smile, the detective kissed his wife.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Yule opened the door to the penthouse. He expected to see the lights off and everyone in bed. Instead, he caught sight of Melody, Ravenswood, and Sara, talking in the front room. On the far couch was Michael, sprawled out, fast asleep.

“What are you guys doing here? I thought you were heading out on your honeymoon.”

Melody sighed, “We had to re-book for tomorrow. We missed our flight because of the police.”

That was not the answer he was expecting. “Police?” he threw his coat onto a nearby chair. “What are you talking about?”

The blonde didn’t answer. Instead, Sara stood and glared at him. “And where the heck were you? You just disappeared. You ran off and slept with that woman, didn’t you?”

“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” Yule snipped, though he made an effort to keep his voice level. “Why should it be any concern of yours, anyway?”

“How was I supposed to get home?” she challenged.

“I thought Michael would drive you.”

“Does he look like he’s in any condition to drive?”

Actually, he didn’t, but that wasn’t what concerned Yule. Taking in the group’s appearance, he noticed that Sara’s dress was rumpled and torn. Melody and Ravenswood both looked harried and had dirt on their faces. “C’mon, what happened?”

The private eye shrugged and rose. “You can read about it in the newspaper tomorrow.” He grabbed Melody’s hand. “Right now we’re going to go back to my apartment and get some sleep.”

Our apartment,” she corrected. “And sleep is debatable.”

Sara squared her shoulders and grabbed her purse. “I’m going back to the Home tonight. You and Sleeping Beauty there can call me later.”

As the three left, the man scratched the back of his neck. He walked over to his son. “What the heck happened tonight?”

Michael’s eyes fluttered open, his face twisting in pain. “Oh, my head.”

“You’re no help,” Yule sighed. Shaking his head, he switched off the light. “Well, I’m sure whatever it was, it wasn’t that big of a deal. See you in the morning.”