Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles


Soon, Jill appeared next to him with Brian, who was laughing in loud bursts as his wife gave her best impression of a dancing Elly May from The Beverly Hillbillies. Even Dustin joined them, and Clayton didn’t waste any time in showing him the steps. The kid didn’t do too badly. There was hope for him yet.

Spying Mac at the edge of the crowd, Rhett danced his way over to his friend.

Mac took one look at him and said, “No way in hell.”

He didn’t dare ask Peggy, who fingered her waist like she was looking for her gun.

“I want to dance,” Keith piped in.

Peggy didn’t miss a beat. She simply responded, “Go find your Uncle Tanner.”

The band switched to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and this time Charleston found him and pulled him away from his dance-averse friends. They started to twirl around the floor until his cousin tugged him over to one of the tables on the edge of the dance floor.

“Help me up,” she ordered, stepping onto one of the chairs with her high heel. “Let’s show these Yankees how we Southerners like to party.”

Usually he would be the first one to volunteer to dance on the table with her—if it could hold their combined weight, that was—but he didn’t think Abbie would approve.

“Maybe you should come on down, honey,” he drawled as she planted her other foot on the chair. “We’re not in Dixie.”

“Rhett Butler Blaylock,” she said, staring down at him with her hands on her hips. “Either clear this table, or I will break all the dishes.”

She had that dangerous look in her eye that told her she wasn’t messing. He started to gather up the glassware. The dinner plates had already been cleared, thank God. Hotel servers ran over to help him, likely at Mac’s cue, and soon Charleston was dancing on the table. A crowd gathered, clapping to the peppy tune as she twitched her skirts and threw her head back and let out a bawdy laugh like a dancehall performer at a New Orleans cat-house.

Someone slapped him on the back, and he turned his head to see his mama dancing in place by his side.

“I used to be able to do that,” she told him.

She’d retired? Thank God. He remembered her dancing at her cousin Patsy Lou’s wedding. His mama had broken a table and bruised her ample behind. It had been a memorable night.

“She’s continuing your tradition,” he told her, clapping with the other guests now. Maybe that would cheer her up in her retirement.

“Everyone knows it’s good luck,” Mama told him. “It’s a well-known fact that couples don’t divorce if I’ve danced on a table at their wedding.”

Looking over his shoulder at his bride’s shocked expression, he said, “I’ll be sure to tell Abbie that.”

And with that, he made his way through the crowd to the band leader and requested another Frank Sinatra classic next to pacify his bride—and keep things from getting further out of hand. When the band transitioned into the new number, the crowd gave an audible groan. Rye graciously helped Charleston off the table, and the servers breathed a sigh of relief.

Rhett made his way back to Abbie.

“How about this song, sugar?” he asked.

She didn’t say anything, only placed her hand on his proffered arm. The dance floor was as empty as a picnic spread after an ant attack.

“Your family is as crazy as you described them,” she said softly, for only his ears.

“I warned you, sugar,” he said, swaying with her to “All The Way.”

“I like everyone’s…spirit,” she hastily explained. “I’m just…not someone who dances on tables.”

He told her about his mama’s belief that table dancing at weddings somehow prevented divorce. And hastily added that she had retired.

“She should have gone on the road with her act,” his bride said with a smile.

Now that was the smile that had made him fall in love with her. It was sweet and slightly embarrassed and filled with a restrained humor he found endearing.

“I can see the headlines now. ‘Hire Mama Blaylock. Table Dancing Ensures Life-Long Marriage. Don’t Miss Out On Her Wedding Reception Special.’”

They both laughed more easily.

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