Married at Midnight

By: Gerri Russell

Lenny pushed back his fear. He had to be strong for all of them—including Viola. “Remember that song Viola used to sing . . . ‘Nothing’s Going to Keep Me from You’?”

Ernie’s lips pulled up in a sentimental smile. “That was her signature song.”

“When she wrote that song, she wrote it for all of us, for everything we were together,” Lenny reminded his friends.

“You’re right,” George agreed in an unusually serious voice. “Viola will be okay. She has to be, especially now that we finally helped her get her heart’s desire.”

“I don’t know,” Aaron said with an Elvis shake of his false black hair. Beneath that wig he was the baldest of the bunch. “Ellie didn’t look too happy about her current situation. I heard her say the word divorce before the elevator closed.”

George stomped his foot, sending the red gusset in his white pant leg flapping. “Connor’s marriage can’t end that way. What happened here in Vegas between them . . . it has to mean something.”

Lenny looked at the men around him, his gaze going from face to face. “Ellie and Connor may need our help realizing what they’ve been given. We owe it to Viola.”

If there was anything the four of them liked better than impersonating Elvis, it was helping the misguided find their way. Lenny’s heart beat a little faster. The cold that had settled inside him in response to the news of Viola’s condition faded, replaced by an overflowing warmth that filled the corners of his aging soul.

Aaron tugged at the edge of his blue jacket as a flicker of pain crossed his face. “Viola’s been on her own for a long time now.”

“She won’t be alone any longer. We have a new mission, my friends. We’re going to Seattle. We’ll make sure Viola knows we’re near, but we’ll also make certain our newlyweds don’t make a mistake they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.”

Ernie plunged his hands into the pockets of his gold lamé jacket. “We can’t force them to stay together.”

Lenny narrowed his gaze. “Who said anything about force?”

“Have you learned nothing from playing Elvis for almost forty years?” George wiggled his bushy brows. “Some things aren’t meant to die.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Lenny exclaimed as they strode out of the hotel room and toward the elevator with their Elvis personas once again in place.

Because of traffic on the Las Vegas Strip, the drive to the Chapel of Burning Love seemed to take forever. Connor parked his rental car around the back of the small white building. As he walked along the sidewalk to the arched front doors, the building suddenly seemed vaguely familiar.

Memories tiptoed across his mind as he stepped into the foyer. He remembered sweeping Ellie off her feet and carrying her across the threshold. He’d had no idea which threshold he was supposed to carry her over, so he’d carried her over every single one from the chapel to the hotel to her hotel room.

And he remembered her smile. At the start of their evening together as they took that first drink of tequila, her smile had been too stiff to be real, too forced. She hadn’t been pleased to see him, and he knew he certainly hadn’t wanted to see her despite their paths crossing once again.

It was what he’d seen in her eyes after the second and third shots of tequila that had made him stay in the chair beside her—her desperate loneliness, her fragile self-worth. Those emotions had echoed in his own soul, had helped him set aside their past for the moment as he offered her his hand for a dance.

Shaking his head to clear the memory, Connor stepped through the chapel doorway. He found Ellie in the small room, sitting at the altar, staring at a wooden bower covered in artificial white roses and strands of crystals where they’d said their vows.

His heart hammered in his chest as he approached her, as he remembered the way she’d looked at him last night. The way her gaze had connected with his. The way her false smile faded as a real one took its place.

At the altar he stopped and waited for her to register his presence. Slowly she turned toward him. He released his breath, not realizing he’d been holding it.

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