The buzzing of the phone on the night table rudely dragged Joyce Madison back to the conscious world. Reaching out from the bed, she lifted the receiver and dragged the headset back under the sheets where she had buried her throbbing head only six hours before.
"Hello?" the forty-seven-year-old brunette said in a groggy voice.
"Good morning, Mrs. Madison, this is your ten-thirty wake up call," said the disgustingly cheerful voice on the other end.
"Wonderful," she replied, already replacing the phone on its cradle before she could say what was really on her mind to the desk clerk.
Only five minutes later, Joyce admitted defeat and tossed aside the sheet, lifting herself up and swinging her legs over the side of the bed. The room around her came in focus as she put on the eyeglasses she had left next to the phone. The cold spartan nature of the hotel room didn't help her mood.
"Damn that miserable bastard!" Joyce cried out as she recalled the reason for her sour mood.
Yesterday had been a day that should've been one of the happiest of her life - the day her son took a wife. And for the most part, it had been just that. At least until her ex-husband, Robert, had shown up with his own child-bride.
The blonde whore, as she liked to think of her, really wasn't a child-bride, she had to admit, but she might as well have been. Twenty years Joyce's junior, she was also only three years older than their son, Stephen's, new wife.
To add insult to injury, the two of them were staying only two rooms down. The image of them going at it all night had been enough to disturb Joyce's badly needed sleep. It had also served as a reminder that the other side of her own bed had been empty for far too long.
Taking a deep breath, Joyce tried to put both thoughts from her mind, concentrating instead on the fact that right now, her son and new daughter-in-law, Karen, were on their way to ten glorious days in the Florida sun. At least that much was going right.
Thinking of Karen made Joyce remember why she had asked for the wake up call in the first place. Sometime during the reception, still early enough that the idea made sense, Joyce had promised Karen's mother, whom she had met all of eight hours before the wedding, that she would have lunch with her today. A native of San Francisco, the mother of the bride was only going to be in town for the weekend.
"I guess it would be poor form for me to call her up now and cancel," Joyce said to herself as she headed for the bathroom in the hope that a cold shower would help clear the fog from her brain.
As she stood under the running water, letting it both wash her body and clear her head, Joyce thought back to yesterday. During the hectic half-hour that Joyce had got to actually spend with Sharon Robinson, she found the fifty-year-old redhead to be charming and friendly. She could easily see where Karen got her looks from and pointed out to her son that old maxim that if you want to see what your new bride is going to look like in thirty years, take a good look at her mother. If that proved to be true, then decades from now, Stephen would hardly be disappointed.
Five minutes under the cold water was all that Joyce could stand, but she left the shower feeling better than when she crawled in. She dried herself off then took care of her rest of her morning toilette.
Stepping naked into the other room, she laid out the clothes she planned to wear across the bed, a nice green dress that was just perfect for a lunch date and the appropriate undergarments. Before she dressed, however, she moved over to the large dressing mirror over the bureau and took stock of herself.
In all honestly, she had to say she looked pretty good for her age. A lot of the friends she'd gone to high school and college with couldn't say the same thing, especially after two kids and a divorce. As much as her ex-husband made her furious at times, she had refused to let him ruin the rest of her life. She'd seen too many other women bury themselves in a bottle or worse.
Okay, she had a few extra pounds, but she lived in the real world and not Hollywood where you had personal trainers and nutritional experts to work with you every day. And if she didn't dye her hair every month, a good part of it would probably be gray. But if that was a crime then millions of other women were just as guilty.
Her breasts had held up pretty well, partly because she went right back to keeping up her body after each of her pregnancies. Something Robert never seemed to appreciate as his eye was constantly roving. The rest of her body also showed the effects of a few years, but what did anyone expect, no one with a real life kept the body they went to college with.
"Enough of this," Joyce said to herself, "it's just Robert making you crazy again."
She quickly got dressed, then went back in the bathroom to put on her make-up. Soon after that, with ten minutes to spare, a much more composed Joyce was heading for the elevator and the restaurant in the lobby.
Waiting for the elevator, she became aware of someone else standing beside her. She turned her head just enough to see who it was. To her shock, it was the child-bride.
"Good morning," she managed to say, reminding herself to be civil.
"Hi," the younger blonde said with a smile, then turned back to watching the indicator display over the door.
It took a second for Joyce to realize that Ginger, she finally found the strength to say her name, even mentally, had no idea who she was. This despite the fact that they'd been introduced the night before.
"Did you have a nice time at the wedding?" she asked the blonde.
"Oh I had a great time, but I think I drank way too much," Ginger gushed. "Were you one of the guests too?"
"Sort of," Joyce grinned, "I was one of the organizers you might say."
"Really, then you must know my Robby," she replied. "It was his son's wedding."
"Oh yes, I know him very well," Joyce said in a neutral tone.
"Isn't he the most."
"He's certainly something, that's for sure," the older woman agreed as the doors opened.
As they stepped into the elevator, Joyce decided that it was hardly a matter of having had too much to drink the night before. What ever else Ginger might have going for her, and in the physical assets department that was a lot, a high intelligence didn't go along with it. Or even a medium level when she thought about it. Once those physical charms began to go, it was a certainty that Robert's wandering eye was going to reemerge. If it took that long. By the time they reached the lobby, Joyce was feeling a lot better about herself.
By the time she reached the restaurant, Joyce found that Sharon had already arrived and been seated. Led to the table by the waitress, Joyce thought that her new in-law looked a lot fresher this morning than she did, despite being a few years older. She was wearing a pair of white slacks with a blue blouse.
"Good Morning," Sharon said as she looked up from the menu that she had reading.
"Good Morning," Joyce said in turn, "I hope I didn't keep you waiting."
"Not at all, in fact I think you're right on time," the redhead smiled warmly.
"Have you ordered yet?" Joyce asked as she picked up her own menu.
"No, but the special looks good."
"Then why don't we make it two of them then," Joyce said as she put down her menu.
"Sounds fine to me," Sharon said.
The waitress returned a moment later and Sharon gave both their orders. Joyce took the brief time to review what Stephen had told him about his new mother-in-law. Fifty years old, Sharon had been widowed almost twenty-one years ago and had never remarried. Joyce had been divorced only two years and hated being alone. She couldn't imagine being that way for two decades.
It couldn't be for lack of attention, Joyce thought. Even at the half-century mark, Sharon was a striking woman. Her dark red hair was cut short and framed an attractive face. Her body was quite full figured and if she hadn't managed to defy gravity as Joyce had with her smaller bust, well then she managed to hide it well.
"It was a very nice wedding, don't you think?" Sharon said as they waited for their order to be delivered.
"Very much so," Joyce agreed. "I'm glad the children had such a good time."
"I seem to recall you having a pretty good time yourself," Sharon grinned.
"I guess I did get a little carried away and had too much to drink," Joyce admitted.
"Nonsense, it was a celebration," Sharon replied. "If you can't cut loose at your child's wedding, then when can you?"
"I notice you managed to retain a more proper decorum," Joyce said with a touch of embarrassment.
"Well lets just say that I cut loose in a different way, one that I though wouldn't be that appropriate at the wedding," Sharon explained.
Before Joyce could ask what that meant, the waitress returned with their lunches. When conversation resumed, it centered on more on the children and their future. It went on for almost three-quarters of an hour until finally, when the meal was done and that topic exhausted, the two women returned to more about themselves over coffee.
"Karen told me you lost your husband a short time after she was born," Joyce said, "I was sorry to hear that."
"Thank you," Sharon replied, "but it was a long time ago. And Stephen tells me you've been divorced two years now."
"Yes," Joyce acknowledged with a nod of her head, "you probably met my ex last night with his new wife."
.... There is more of this story ...