The small sanctuary of Hawthorne Beach Methodist Church was decorated with peach and white decorations. Peach silk bunting draped gracefully from the ends of each pew, peach carpet was laid out just for this occasion. Silk arrangements of peach and white roses mingled with baby's breath adorned every corner of the church and the pews were filled with family and friends.
Jean-Claude stood in the middle of the aisle just short of the doorway, looking rather dashing in his black tuxedo with a peach rose boutonniere and matching cumberbund, talking with his brother, Frank. "I hope you thought to bring an extra batch of your brew," he laughed.
"Of course," he answered with a wink. "I had to move the operation, though. Damn revenuers."
"Not again? I thought they stopped busting stills in the sixties."
"Nope. They still get nostalgic and bust one now and then." He scowled. "You got enough ammo?" he asked, pointing to the antique Lancaster rifle in Jean-Claude's hands.
"Plenty. I brought an extra box with me, just in case." He handed it over. "But what the hell am I doing with it, Frank? I'm not gonna need it for this one."
"Keep it." He held his hands up. "I don't need it. All of mine are married off. The next one in line is only twelve. I think I'm gonna take a seat." He turned around and walked down the aisle to a pew a couple of rows away from the front and sat down beside an elegant-looking couple.
Travers came in the front door and saw Jean-Claude, looking gravely concerned. "We're ready," he replied. "Any sign of the groom and the best man?"
"None," he remarked dismally, checking his watch. Five minutes to five. "They've got five minutes and that's cutting it to the quick." He walked quickly down the aisle and across the altar to a side door and walked through it.
Brenda came in the front door, along with a petite redhead with a pageboy hairstyle and turned up nose. Both of them were wearing long strapless peach colored dresses with skirts so full, they wore hoops underneath, along with matching strands of pearls and satin pumps. The dresses stopped just short of the floor and the skirts rustled with every step – both girls looking like they had come to a party on the plantation.
The other girl looked at Brenda and asked, “Do I look alright?” as she turned around for Brenda to inspect.
"Yeah, you’ll do, Morgan,” she answered while tugging on the bodice, which was a bit snug and showed off her assets nicely. “I will be so glad to get out of this getup and get into some real clothes."
“I think you look really sophisticated,” Morgan replied.
“I wish I felt it,” Brenda managed to laugh. “Sadly, I feel like a fish out of water dressed like a Barbie doll.” She started rubbing one arm right just above the elbow, where her matching satin gloves came up to. “I hate these long gloves. Somebody forgot to tell our sister that the fifties went out of style some time back.”
"Are you through griping? I think everyone’s ready to get this show on the road.” She postured herself correctly, holding a small bouquet of peach roses and baby’s breath. "I think you're supposed to be in front of me, since you’re the Maid of Honor."
"Oh." She moved around and got in front of her. She looked at Travers and asked "Are we ready?"
"Not yet," he answered, pulling a gold UNCLE communicator out of his dinner jacket. "We’re still missing the groom and the best man." He went through the task of opening it and sent the command "Open Channel D. Number eleven, Section Two."
On the Lear Jet, Napoleon and Illya were both scrambling into their wedding attire. Obviously getting a bit unnerved, Napoleon was having trouble with his tie. "How about helping me out with this?" he asked. "I'm all thumbs right now."
Illya shook his head as he buttoned his vest. "I never thought I would actually witness this,” he remarked. “You’re actually going to go through with this lunatic farce?”
Napoleon’s communicator started beeping. He quickly reached inside his jacket on the chair and grabbed it. “Solo here.”
"Travers here. We're at the church and everyone's seated and waiting," Travers replied in monotone. "What's your E.T.A.?"
Illya took hold of the pen while Napoleon quickly scrambled into the tuxedo jacket. "We had a problem getting to the airport," he started explaining. "We're still in-flight. Have the walls of the church caved in yet?"
Back at the church, Lynda walked across the front foyer, just outside the sanctuary, asking, "Where is he? Is he alright?" She was quite a sight. Her dress was of white satin, with a décolletage neckline, leg-o-mutton sleeves covered with Chantilly lace and hand-sewn faux pearls and sequins. The ball gown style skirt with a slightly dropped waist just covered the tops of her satin sling back pumps. Lace trim completed the skirt and in the back of the gown, a row of tiny pearl buttons went down the back to the waist, where it ended at the skirt. A large white bow sat right at the back of the end of the buttons. Her hair was pinned up on top of her head, which was the perfect compliment for her hat. It was a white derby hat, with gorgeous fold over pouf with a Russian veiling bow and streamers hanging from it, as well as a detachable Cathedral-length veil underneath it. Completing this look was a 3-strand pearl choker (passed down from her late grandmother DeBeauharnais,) a gold Rolex watch with diamond dial (loaned to her by Brenda) and pearl drop earrings. She was also minus her glasses, which really showed off her emerald green eyes, which were looking quite concerned by this point.
Back on the plane, both guys heard her loud and clear. Napoleon cleared his throat and tried to explain quickly "There was a traffic tie-up on the way to the airport and we were late getting to the plane." He checked his watch and asked Illya "How about checking with the pilot to see how much longer we're going to be, would you?"
Meanwhile, Lynda was growing rather impatient, but was trying to stay calm about it. "Okay, I think I'm calm for the moment." She checked her gold Rolex watch. "It's two minutes til." She grabbed the communicator from Travers and asked, "Can you get here in two minutes?"
"Can you stop Hell from busting wide open?" he asked, getting rather snippy. "We're doing the best we can, Sweetheart. I didn't plan it this way." He realized he was being a bit harsh and felt rather small. "I'm sorry, it's just been one hectic day and I'm terrified. I didn't mean to snap at you."
"I know," she sighed. "We'll compare notes when you get here. Mine hasn't been exactly peachy king, either." She recalled their conversation earlier and sighed “Uncle Frank & Grandaddy are armed and ready with shotguns, not to mention guzzling down well water like it's going out of style and to top that off Mama Jackie's wearing the lavender Nolan Miller. This is going to be a first-class disaster," she wailed.
“I guess somebody’s got to be Mother of the Bride,” he remarked. “Just try to take a deep breath and calm down,” he tried to reassure her. “Everything’s going to be fine.
"I won't if you won't." She handed the pen back and stepped outside for air to find her father standing at the bottom of the steps, smoking a cigarette. He was quite a sight in his pale lavender tailored suit and large white hat. The jacket had leg o' mutton sleeves and a flared waist, the skirt was straight. White gloves, hosiery and a wide floppy hat completed the shocking, yet elegant look, along with white stiletto heels. His long, blonde wig was perfectly poufed in a 60's beehive and he was dripping with diamonds, to the utter shock and dismay of the family.
He saw the concern in her facial expression and asked, "He's not coming, is he?"
"He's on his way," she answered, trying to gather her train without wrinkling it. "Traffic tie-up on the way to the airport. Or that's what he said." She cringed at the mere sight of him. “I cannot believe you had the audacity to wear that outfit today, of all days,” she complained. Her green eyes turned dark and she looked like she was going to erupt at any moment. “You had a tuxedo fitted for this occasion, Mama Jackie. What happened to it?”
“I didn’t say I was going to wear the tux,” he replied. “Would you calm down? You look like you’re about to have a coronary.” He looked her over from top to bottom. “You don’t look very comfortable right now,” he remarked.
“That’s only because I couldn’t find anything at the local tent factory,” she winked.
"Sure you don’t want to call this off?" he asked, climbing the steps and offering her a cigarette, only for her to wave it away. “One won’t hurt you right now,” he replied. “I have a better idea: let’s blow this pop stand. We can go home, pour both of us a drink and we'll talk about the p-p- Hell, I can't bring myself to say it."
"Pregnancy?" she asked. "It's not a four-letter word. And the last time I checked, it wasn’t contagious." She managed a smile. “I know this looks really, really bad right now. I know I should have been getting ready for Graduation and going to Harvard. But instead, I’m out here on these church steps, four and half months pregnant wearing a wedding dress.”
Jacques turned around and laughed. “Yep,” he agreed. “And you’re worried about being embarrassed?”
“Do I care?” she asked indignantly. “Have I ever cared what anybody thought?” She winked. “Hell, if you really cared, you would’ve went with the tuxedo instead of looking like a Dolly Parton wannabe.”
“Touché,” he replied. “You do realize that I am concerned about you.” He started to add something, but instead went strangely quiet.
She sensed it and sat down on the step with him, quietly asking, "Could it have something to do with something that happened years ago? Like an illicit affair between Mama and Harry?" She decided quickly to move in for the kill. "Save it, Brenda and I already know that Harry was the sperm donor, okay? It's not the end of the world as you know it." She saw him flinch uncontrollably. "It's okay, really. It doesn't mean anything." She managed to sit down beside him and saw tears coming down. "Like that's gonna make a difference, Mama Jackie. You've got to stop worrying so much." She managed to laugh. "I wish we had a video camera right now 'cause this is good blackmail material."
"I'm worried you're gonna be in for a world of trouble," he answered sorrowfully, shaking his head. "You're so young, Lynda Josephine. I'm worried you're going to get hurt bad, and if that happens, I'm going to have to come after that son of a bitch and kill him myself."
"You're not going to do anything but finish your smoke and pipe down," she ordered. "You're more nervous than I am and I'm the one who's getting married. It's pathetic."
"You're not the only one getting married, you know."
"Believe me, I know that full well." She smirked to herself.
About fifteen minutes later, the side door was open on the Lear Jet and Napoleon and Illya were hurriedly fastening their parachutes, deciding that would be the quickest way to get to the church. "And I promised I wouldn't create a scene," Napoleon remarked.
"Believe me, Jacques' already walked off with the Oscar," Illya replied with a wink.
Napoleon looked down to see the downtown area of Hawthorne Beach, the church steeple coming up. "I'll be sure to put in a good word for you with the man upstairs," he warned as he quickly jumped out.
Back at the church, the crowd had stepped outside for air before the main event would take place, some doubting that it would, due chiefly to the fact that the groom was nowhere to be seen or heard. They gathered in groups underneath the trees and general chatter took over, with remarks about the weather, stocks, politics, etc.
Brenda walked over from a group near the corner to the front, where Lynda and Jacques still stayed on the front steps, quietly waiting. "Any word yet?" she asked.
"Nothing," Lynda grumbled, her patience almost gone. "We might as well send everyone home." She took off her hat and carefully placed it beside her. "I guess I was wrong about all this." She drew back as Jacques tried to put his arm around her. "I guess Napoleon isn't coming after all."
"Let's wait a few more minutes, then if he doesn't show up, we'll send everyone to the Country Club," Jacques suggested. "I've spent fifty thousand dollars and I'm not gonna let it go to waste."
"I thought I was the one who spent fifty thousand on the reception," Jean-Claude remarked, taking a seat on Lynda's other side, shotgun in hand. He placed it across his lap. Looking dead at his granddaughter, he told her "This wedding will take place, young lady. Even if I have to go looking for Napoleon Solo myself, you will get married. I'm not going to go to my grave knowing that my grandbabies aren't taken care of like they should be."
"You’re not going anywhere, Grandaddy," she groaned, obviously hearing this speech for the umpteenth time. "How many times do we have to tell you that you have to ask permission first?" She laughed. “Be your luck, you’d die of a heart attack in a hot tub with a couple of nice-looking blondes.”
“Good Lord willing, I’ll be in bed with two good looking blondes when I die,” he laughed in response.
Travers walked over and sat down beside Brenda. "I take it they haven't shown up yet."
"Not yet," Brenda sighed, getting rather antsy at the moment. "We're all gonna wait a few more minutes and, if they're a no show, we're sending everyone on over to the Country Club."
"What are you going to do?" he whispered in her ear.
"I don't know yet," she smiled. "I might go over there, there again, I might find something else to do."
"Just remember: wherever you go, I follow. Capuche?"
"Fish," she grinned, causing an explosion of laughter from everyone but Jean-Claude, who eyed the agent rather uneasily. Leaning over Lynda's lap, he whispered to Jacques "I do not want that young man in this family."
"I agree," Jacques whispered back. "Malcolm Travers couldn't get laid by a corpse if his life depended on it." He saw something in his father's expression and asked, “Just what have you got up your sleeve?”
“Not me,” he winked. “You’re getting to be a bit too suspicious.”
From the corner, one of the guests looked up and saw a couple of specks in the sky coming down toward earth. He pointed and several others looked up as well. Almost immediately, an uproar commenced as the specks came closer into view and it was seen that it was two people.
The commotion caused the family to get up and run down the steps to see what was going on. Lynda was wiping off her glasses with a handkerchief, which she returned to Travers and put them back on and gaped in shock. "Oh my God, it's raining men!!!" she almost screeched at the top of her lungs as everyone watched, open mouthed, as they all saw Napoleon and Illya land on the ground almost a hundred feet away, the parachutes covering them like blankets.
Both men scrambled out and unfastened themselves and rushed toward the church, totally unaware at the scene they had caused, not only outside on the church lawn, but on the street as well. A car slammed on brakes and almost half a dozen fender benders were created in the chain reaction, horns honking; the sickening sound of metal crashing into metal. One car skidded sideways in a lame attempt to avoid a truck and instead knocked down a telephone pole. Travers and the guys were trying to herd the gathering inside the church like a flock of sheep.
Lynda gathered up her train and started off toward Napoleon until they met halfway. He swooped her into his arms and gave her a long, passionate kiss. He broke away rather reluctantly and whispered, "You're absolutely ravishing."
Lynda grunted, still a bit piqued. "If it isn't the late Napoleon Solo," she returned rather sarcastically.
"I told you I'd be here," he answered.
"I know you did," she nodded, looking down to see his tie was askew. "Let me fix this for you," she remarked as she went about redoing the bow tie.
"Are you ready to go inside and make everything official?" he asked.
She finished and sighed heavily, looking rather tired. "I don't know about you, but I'm growing rather weary of all this," she rapidly answered, her nerves already in a tizzy. "I think I'll go home."
"Why don't we go inside and get married first, then we can go home," Napoleon suggested, trying to tell himself it was only last-minute jitters.
She gathered her veil as he let go of her and turned around. As she started to walk away toward Jacques' Lincoln, she stopped and turned around a few yards away. "Why don't you go inside and get married? I'm going home," she remarked amid gawks from the family, who were quite shocked beyond words at her. "You can tell me later how it went."
Napoleon couldn't believe his ears. He saw her turn around and move further away from him and he felt Illya’s arm tugging at him, urging “Let’s just go back to New York. It’s obvious this isn’t going to work.”
Without a word, Napoleon broke free from Illya’s grasp and went after her. "You're not walking out on me, Lynda Josephine DeBeauharnais!" he ordered. "You kidnapped me and made the entire UNCLE organization the laughingstock of the intelligence community, now you want to turn around and leave me standing here???" He rushed after her and grabbed her arm. "You've done nothing but drive me crazy forever and a day and I can't stand it anymore." He swooped her up into his arms and started carrying her toward the front steps. "I love you and we are getting married, even if I have to carry you down the aisle kicking and screaming!"
"Goddamnit, Napoleon!" she screeched. "Put me down!" she fussed. Are you out of your mind?" She started kicking her legs in protest. "You didn't want me to begin with, remember? You were gonna marry someone else and leave me hanging and you think I'm gonna ever forgive you for that?" She rattled on, still demanding to be put down as they went up the steps and into the sanctuary. "You didn't have to show up, you know," she continued fussing.
"You'll be alright once we get inside and get this over with," he replied, somehow managing to keep his composure.
Once inside, they quickly made their way to the altar, with Lynda still kicking and screaming. "Hell no, I won't go!" she started chanting the entire way down to the pulpit until Napoleon finally set her down. "That does it! I'm leaving!"
He grabbed her wrist. "You're staying put, young lady!" He saw the preacher's eyes almost bulge out of their sockets and his mouth drop open in total shock and disbelief. "Let's get on with this, Father, shall we?" he asked, motioning for him to start as people were still coming inside to see the fracas.
"Uh, um, this is highly unusual-" he started, pushing up his glasses and hurriedly opening his book.
"Never mind the small talk," Napoleon quipped, pulling out his gun and pointing it at the preacher's chest. "Just cut to the chase, hmm?"
"Okay, okay," he nodded, shaking like a leaf and scared for his life. "Um, do you Napoleon Solo take this woman, Lynda Josephine DeBeauharnais, as your wedded wife?"
Meanwhile, Lynda was still protesting in sing-song fashion. "I'm not going to say it," she sang loudly (and off-key). "You can't make me. No way in hell."
Napoleon ignored her and answered, "I do."
The minister shook his head and grimaced "May God have mercy on you." He looked over at Lynda and asked, "Do you, Lynda Josephine DeBeauharnais, take this man, Napoleon Solo, as your wedded husband?"
Lynda shook her head. "Nope," she said, amid gasps and oohs and aahhhs. "You can't make me." She started singing again. "You can't make me, no way in hell."
Napoleon looked over at her and asked "Who wants French fries with mayonnaise?"
"I do," she nodded, grinning from ear to ear.
The minister shook his head and mumbled a prayer. "Okay, then, who's got the ring?"
"What?" Lynda asked, shocked. "What ring?"
Napoleon looked around. "Illya!" he called out. "I need the ring."
Illya came running down the aisle, searching through his pockets. "I can't find it!" he exclaimed.
"What do you mean you can't find it?"
"I can't find it, Napoleon," he growled. "I know I had it when we bailed out of the plane."
Brenda snuck up behind Illya and tapped his shoulder. "Is this what you're looking for, Mon Cherie?" she asked, holding up a gold wedding band.
"Where was it?" he asked, taking it from her.
She shrugged and adjusted the bodice on her dress without a word as the ring was handed off to the groom.
Lynda looked over after the ring was placed on her finger and asked Brenda "Okay, since I've been talked into this against my will, where is it?"
"Against your will, Hell!" she exclaimed, reaching into her bodice and producing another gold band. "You've been planning this day since we were six!" she squealed, creating a furor of laughter.
"I'll remind you of this on your wedding day," she warned.
"That will be a cold day in Hell.” She reached into her bodice and pulled out another ring. "By the way, here."
Lynda shook her head. "I don't want it."
"It's not for you, smartass!" she retorted. "You're supposed to put it on Napoleon's finger." She rolled her eyes.
Lynda waved it away. "Hell no. I don't wanna be here anyway."
"Take the fucking ring and quit your damn bitching!" she fumed, forcing the ring into her sister's hand.
"Girls!" Napoleon interrupted. "Can the two of you stop squabbling for just a little bit?"
"No!" they snapped in unison.
Meanwhile, Travers slipped up behind Brenda and whispered in her ear "Would you like to get away from all this for a while?"
"Gladly," she whispered back, glancing over at Illya to see if he heard her. To her disgust, he paid her no attention as Lynda still run her mouth. "I'm gonna burn your ass a new one for this if it's the last thing I do!" she bitched, creating even more uproar from the crowd.
A few minutes later, the minister thankfully concluded, "By the power vested in me and in the state of North Carolina, I now pronounce you husband and wife. What God hath created, let no man put asunder."
Napoleon pulled his new bride into his arms. Lynda started twisting and struggling to get away. "I'm not gonna kiss you," she sang off-key. "No way in Hell."
"I told you we were going to do this, even if I had to drag you down the aisle, remember?" he asked, slipping one hand around the back of her head and pulling it closer.
“I know, but I didn’t think you’d actually-" she was arguing, but then felt his lips on hers and his tongue trying to slip between her lips. She struggled for a moment or two before totally succumbing to his charm. She threw her arms around him.
From the back door of the church, Jean-Claude and Jacques stood quietly; their mouths dropped open in shock at the way the ceremony occurred. Quite exasperated, Jean-Claude accepted a mason jar from Uncle Frank and took a giant swig. "Why can’t anything go right in this family?" he complained, passing it to Jacques.
"Define normal, Dad," Jacques replied, chugging the rest of the well water down. He tossed the jar behind him and it landed on the floor, shattering in a million pieces. "This family really puts the 'fun' in dysfunctional. I'll see ya'll at the reception," he grumbled and, turning on his heels, walked out the front door.