Married at Midnight

By: Gerri Russell

Instead of Ellie, his father’s phone number appeared on the screen. Why would his dad call him now? He knew he’d be busy with the trials for his self-driving car. Or at least he would have been had the onboard computer not failed.

Connor answered the call even though he had no time to talk. “Hey, Dad. Can I call you back in an hour?”

“No time for that.” His father’s voice vibrated with urgency.

A cold chill slithered down Connor’s spine. “What’s wrong?”

“Your grandmother Viola had a heart attack last night. Things don’t look good,” Clark Grayson informed his son somberly. “She’s headed into bypass surgery this morning and asked to see her only grandson when she wakes up. Please come home. Your grandmother needs you.”

Connor took a steadying breath. There was no time for emotion. He could fall apart later. Right now his grandmother needed him. “I’ll be there as soon as I can catch the next plane, Dad. Tell Grandmother I’ll see her soon.”

“Everything okay?” Red Elvis asked when Connor ended the call.

“I’ve got to go.” Connor looked around in a daze for a moment until it dawned on him that he was still in Ellie’s room. “Ellie,” Connor said, her name booming in the silence that had fallen.

He had to get to the airport. He also had to go after his temporary bride.

“Can we help at all?” Red Elvis asked. “Sounds like something at home isn’t quite right.”

“My grandmother had a heart attack. I need to get back to Seattle.” Connor said the words, but his mind was already working on how to be in two places at once and how to deal with this awkward situation with Ellie.

He heard the four Elvises mumble something to one another as he hurriedly pulled on his socks and slammed his feet into his shoes. The last conversation he’d had with his grandmother before he’d left for Las Vegas played through his mind. She’d teased him, saying, “I want to live long enough to see you settled down.”

In that moment, he felt a quiver of hope as a crazy plan began to take shape.

Marriage was important to Viola. She’d be so happy to know he’d married. It was all she ever talked about when Connor visited her every Sunday. What if . . . he really was married? Maybe that would give his grandmother something to live for. He’d heard stories of people overcoming the greatest odds if they had a strong enough incentive.

But what about Ellie? Could he convince her to fly back to Seattle with him? And then would she pose as his bride until his grandmother either recovered enough to handle the news that they would divorce or until she . . . Connor couldn’t finish the thought.

His grandmother would live. That was the only eventuality he would focus on. And he was willing to do anything to see that happen, even if it meant staying tied to the one woman he’d vowed never to let into his life again.

Lenny, George, Ernie, and Aaron waited in silence for Connor to leave the room. The moment he did, Lenny wilted onto the bed even though he knew his red costume clashed with the gold bedspread. You never knew when a photo op would occur, and he was usually hyperaware of putting himself to his best advantage. At the moment, though, he didn’t really care. “Oh dear, not Viola.”

George paled, suddenly serious as his cheeks took on a similar pallor to the white costume he wore. “Our girl is sick.”

“She’s not our girl anymore,” Aaron interjected, though worry hung in his words. “I wish she was.”

“She’ll always be our girl,” Ernie said with a sigh.

“You’re right,” the others agreed.

Lenny’s thoughts moved to the past. Along with Viola, the five of them had been a late-night lounge act in the 1950s at the Sands Hotel alongside entertainment greats such as Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Judy Garland.

The two years they were together had been the best of their lives. Then in an unexpected turn of events, Viola quit the group to marry a man she’d met the week before. The four of them had continued on as a musical act, but nothing was ever the same without Viola.

It wasn’t until 1977 when Elvis Presley died that the four of them truly bounced back—this time as Elvis impersonators. Viola had stayed in touch and was thrilled that they’d made a comeback in the entertainment world. Yet not one of them had married, as each only had a place in his heart for one girl: Viola.

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