SUSPENDED AGGRAVATION: Chapter 17 Nora Edinger May 24, 2020 Editor’s note: Suspended Aggravation is an original, Wheeling-centric novel by Nora Edinger and is published exclusively through Weelunk. While some of the places mentioned in Suspended Aggravation are real (or nearly real), the storyline and most characters (with the exception of a few cameo appearances by actual city residents) exist only in the author’s imagination. For the backstory, read our Q&A with the author. CHAPTER 17 Location: Ohio Valley Mall, 40.0683° N, 80.8678° W Emotion:”Going to the chapel….” Cracker Barrel’s gift shop was an odd place to buy a wedding dress. But, Allie knew what she wanted and Cracker Barrel was where it could be found on short notice. She made her way through a display of Americana decor and picnicwares for the next coming holiday. Score! The gauzy white dresses with body-skimming crochet overlays were still in stock — and there was one in her size. It was perfect. She remembered seeing the summery frock a couple of weeks ago during lunch with some church ladies. She’d thought, even then, that it would make a beautiful dress for a casual wedding. How could she possibly have imagined then that she’d be buying it for her own? Next, she headed into the Ohio Valley Mall proper, checking her watch as she pulled into the parking lot. If she didn’t waste time doing something frivolous — like eating — she could probably fit the rest of her shopping into her extended lunch hour. She’d just stay an extra hour or two at the end of the day if need be. Allie walked slowly past Victoria’s Secret, pretending not to look at the display of lacy black and hot pink next-to-nothings in the doorway. She looked furtively around the mall’s broad hallway, trying to appear nonchalant while checking to see if anyone she knew was around. Rats. An ad rep from the paper was talking to what was probably a business manager just across the hallway. Allie waved at the woman and walked a bit more quickly. Boscov’s lingerie section it would have to be. Even that turned out to be a bit daunting. Buying a stack of delicate bras and undies and a couple of negligees that appeared to be made of little more than sea foam and ribbon without so much as an engagement ring on one’s finger wasn’t for wimps. But, Allie did it with her head held high. She figured she could be as embarrassed as she wanted when she took the time to more closely examine her purchases in the privacy of her own home. Rings. Hmmmm. She wondered what Gabe would want to do about that. In Africa, there was so much literal bad blood connected to diamonds, she would never feel comfortable wearing one of those. There was also the connection between some jewelry and some very non-Christian forms of worship — a real issue in the places of the world where she had lived. Her family had opted to skip ornamentation entirely for those reasons. Her parents didn’t even wear wedding bands. “We just act married,” Allie remembered her mom saying on more than one occasion. That familiar quote made all thoughts of dresses and rings suddenly disappear from Allie’s mind. Married. I am getting married! She locked her bags in the Cooper’s trunk and sped back to the office with a few minutes to spare and an unusually wistful smile on her face. ♥♥♥ Location: DOH headquarters in Moundsville, 39.9203526, -80.7431407 Emotion: “… and we’re gonna get married.” Gabe spent his lunch hour and a bit more than that mostly booking a cabin at Canaan Valley. He’d done enough hiking there over the years to know the very place he wanted. He smiled. Allie would love it — the flat, grassy expanses, the meandering river, the ring of hills. What a blissful place to begin their married life. It was practically a way to give God’s seal of approval to their covenant — a match made in Canaan. He smiled again as he thought about the cabin itself. He’d wake his wife up early and they’d watch the sunrise snuggled under a quilt on the porch swing and he’d make her a wonderful breakfast and then they would … A return phone call from the DOH human resources office interrupted that happy line of thought. Yes, the powers that be said. He could add Allie to his health and life insurance policies as of midnight on Friday. He’d already added her to his house deed as of the same time. All in, is all in. He’d had texted her in the morning to tell her his plan and ask her what last name she planned on using for legal purposes after their marriage. He knew it was probably caveman of him, but he was delighted she wanted to be Allison Elizabeth Morelli. Allison Morelli. Allie Morelli. Mrs. Morelli. A few little Morellis. Who could have imagined something so wonderful a couple of months ago? A couple of weeks ago, for that matter? He smiled an unusually wistful smile. He was biting into the still-too-hot burrito he had scrounged from a box he kept in the office freezer when two more thoughts occurred to him. One: Allie had never even been inside his home. What would she think of it? Would she even like it? Two: She’d probably want a ring. He guessed he did, too, although he’d never really thought about that kind of thing. And, oh, there was an item three, as well: How do you even get married at the courthouse, anyway? Did they need to make an appointment or just show up? He’d have to call. Gabe looked at the calendar on his desk. They had less than three days left until the wedding. He puffed out a breath and looked at this watch: 5 p.m. Calling the courthouse was out. He called Allie instead. “Can you come over for dinner tonight?” he asked. “I thought you might like to see the house.” ♥♥♥ Subscribe to Weelunk Location: Gabe’s house in Woodsdale, 40°04’33.9″N, 80°41’04.1″W Emotion: “Going to the chapel of love.” “Oh, Gabe! I love it!” The inside of the bungalow-style home wasn’t at all what Allie expected. There was plenty of wood everywhere, but it was all freshly painted a creamy white, except for the floors, which were a lustrous amber. Everything was light, airy and cottagey, not unlike her apartment at all. Her furnishings and art could mingle very well with whatever he had. Not that he had much, she noticed. He hadn’t been exaggerating when they were shopping down in Charleston. Allie smiled to see the leather wingbacks he had purchased there were already flanking the stone fireplace that anchored the living room. They were perfect there. She could imagine Marmalade curled up in their depths for a nap. They’d need a dog, too. Her Centre Market daydream was coming true. And, so fast! “Gabe, my stuff will fit in here really well,” she chirped. “I have a love seat that’s slip covered in denim. We can put your end tables at the sides of it and my wicker coffee table in front. I have a big area rug that has some red in it, too. That will go really well with your chairs.” Gabe smiled at his fiancée’s enthusiasm. “That’s pretty much up to you. You can see I’m not much of a decorator. I just want to be comfortable and still be able to find my stuff when you’re done. Do you want to see the rest of the house?” Of course she did. The kitchen was in great shape. Gabe had all the basics for cookware. Not as much in terms of dishes — except for the A+ picnic supplies. Allie thought of her own complete set of blue and white chintzware and smiled. Between the two of them, they should have everything covered and to spare. The tiny downstairs bath was fine. They’d need more towels than she had, though, since there would be at least one other bath upstairs and all Gabe seemed to have on this floor was one rather tattered specimen that might have been blue at some point. Neither of them had anything for the dining room, either. But, that would be fun to furnish together. She imagined visiting a flea market or two. Maybe they’d go over to Amish country in the truck. That left only the bedrooms. Allie felt ridiculously shy as Gabe led her up the stairs by the hand. “We have three bedrooms and two baths on this floor. This one’s ours,” Gabe said, pointing through the door yet not moving past it. Allie followed his lead and peeked around him into a large room that contained only a queen-sized sleigh bed that Gabe explained Isabella’s down-sizing parents had given him when he moved back to West Virginia. “Just the frame, I mean. It’s an antique. The mattress set is new,” he assured her. There was also the massive dresser she had so badly wanted him to buy. What appeared to be a spaghetti sauce jar loaded with daisies stood proudly on the dresser’s marble inset, the white flower petals echoing the slightly askew linens on the bed. “It’s beautiful,” Allie whispered, completely charmed that he had thought of flowers for her first glimpse of their room. How blissfully romantic. “You’re beautiful,” Gabe said, kissing her lightly then quickly backing away from her. “Well. We had better get back to the kitchen if you want dinner anytime soon.” “Can I see the other rooms, too?” “Other rooms?” Allie gestured to the upstairs hall in which they stood. “Oh. Oh, yeah. They’re all empty.” Gabe smiled another wistful smile. Empty for now. Neither of them actually said the words they were both thinking. Allie finally offered, “I have enough furniture to fill one of them. It’s pretty girly. A twin bed. A dresser. That sort of thing.” Gabe got a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face at that. “You’re not on birth control,” he blurted out. Allie blushed bright pink and looked down at her shoes, but not before noticing that Gabe was at least a bit embarrassed himself. “No,” she said quietly, still examining her sandals as if they had suddenly sprouted wings. “I don’t think there’s time … I’ll take … I can take care of … unless you want to be … to be… right away.” “I wouldn’t mind right away if you don’t,” Allie said softly — smiling at both the idea of starting a family and the surprising fact he was unwilling to say the word “pregnant” to her. Their discussion and the fact she actually might be carrying his child within days made their impending wedding seem more concrete than ever. “Is that what you would like?” Gabe glanced past her to the open door of what would soon be their bedroom. “I wouldn’t mind that at all, African Queen. OK, we have a plan then.” He took a deep breath and grabbed her by the hand again. “You know what, let’s go out to dinner.” “I thought you were cooking dinner,” Allie said as he pulled her toward the stairway with more speed than she expected. “Where do you want to go?” “Somewhere where they don’t have beds,” he laughed. They were already at the front door. INSIDE THE STORY: • Wheeling sits at the western edge of a 13-mile-wide strip of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle. Ohio is just across the river and Pennsylvania to the east. Perhaps because Ohio is literally in sight of the downtown, that interstate relationship seems to be the closer one. Interestingly, the portion of Ohio that is closest at hand has large Amish and Mennonite populations. A trip to a big box or grocery on the Ohio side frequently includes sharing the aisle with women in black bonnets and little boys in yellow straw hats. • If there was a poll, I suspect the Outer Banks of North Carolina would be the No. 1 vacation spot for land-locked West Virginians, including the residents of Wheeling. Mountaineers dream of the beach. Inside the state, however, Canaan Valley is a popular spot. Skiing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, live music. There’s a lot going on or nothing going on — whichever you prefer. PREVIOUS CHAPTER NEXT CHAPTER • A long-time journalist, Nora Edinger also blogs at noraedinger.com and Facebook and writes books. Her Christian chick lit and faith-related non-fiction are available on Amazon. She lives in Wheeling, where she is part of a three-generation, two-species household Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window) Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.