Edmond rubbed his temple where a pounding headache was starting to flair to life. Heaving a tired sigh, he pulled his out his cellphone and scrolled his contacts until he found the one he wanted. Selecting the name, he put the phone up to his ear as it rang. It was oddly tinny and hollow to his ears.
As Edmond waited for them to pick up, he paced where he stood in front of the Champ de Mars, with the lush green lawns and flowering plants on full display while the Eiffel Tower rose behind them, completing the picturesque scene. The sun was starting to dip toward the skyline, setting the sky on fire with streaks of orange and red and pink, when a familiar voice finally picked up the phone.
“Edmond?” Kam sounded rightfully confused. “Is something wrong?”
“I have lost my wife.” Edmond sighed again and wondered how this had all gone so wrong.
The day that Edmond and Sylvia wed was as beautiful and perfect as a postcard. Sylvia spent months planning it down the smallest detail, and all of her diligence had paid off.
In the end the whole affair was a lot grander than Edmond had expected, but that was what happened when one was a marrying a Lord’s daughter. The final guest list was shockingly large and full of many notable names. It was a little unnerving knowing that royals would be attending his wedding, but all in all it was good seeing as Edmond’s side was rather sparse.
The estate gardens were in full bloom, awash with a riot of colors and the air full of the heady scent of roses. Perfect for the reception. The church they had chosen was done up in shades of shining silver and blushing pink.
Edmond’s tuxedo had been perfectly tailored and Syliva had been like a dream come true in layers of taffeta and tulle. Edmond had never been happier in his life as they had danced late into the night. Everyone and everything else forgotten for the brief, perfect moment.
Unfortunately the perfection of that day did not translate to their honeymoon. It all started with arrival at their lodgings in Paris.
The place was a quiet little inn, romantic and private, and hidden away from the more touristy areas. Edmond knew it would be the perfect place to spend their honeymoon. The only problem was that there had been a mix-up with the reservation, they had gotten the dates wrong. After a back and forth with the manager, who apologized profusely for the inconvenience and offered to comp them a champagne breakfast for the duration of their stay, he offered them the only room available.
With a resigned sigh, Edmond turned to Sylvia. Room keys in hand.
“How much of that did you understand?” he asked. Sylvia’s French was passable, and she was improving leaps and bounds every day, but she wasn’t quite fluent yet.
“Enough. I did hear the word champagne though!” She smiled sweetly, as bright and happy as ever, and that helped to ease some of the tension coiling inside Edmond.
He knew their room would be nice enough, but it wouldn’t be the honeymoon suite he had arranged for with rose petals and candles and a bottle of wine. Unfortunately there was little he could do about it at the moment. Not if they actually wanted a room for the night.
They made their way to the room with their luggage in tow. The inn was everything Edmond thought it would be, and that was something good at least. Sylvia appeared enamored with it, marveling the paintings on the walls as they went, gushing over the brightly colored geraniums visible in the window boxes.
There was a particularly lovely red geranium outside the window across from their door, and just beyond that was a small, well tended garden with a rainbow of roses. Edmond decided to take that as a good sign as he opened the door to their room and stepped inside.
At a glance everything appeared in perfect order, meticulously clean, with a view of an ivy covered wall -- not the view of the Eiffel Tower he had been hoping for, but pretty nonetheless. The furniture was antique and extremely well cared for, the bedding looked plush with stacks of gold tasseled throw pillows and burgundy accents.
Although that was where the problem with the room lie: the bed. Or rather the beds. They had been given a double. Edmond sat down their bags and started muttering to himself. Sylvia entered behind him and shut the door with a faint click. Turning around to fully take in the room, she started giggling.
“It’s sweet, like they used to do in old television shows.” She looked up at Edmond, trying to smother down her laughter. It wasn’t working.
“Yes, perfect for a honeymoon, hm?”
“We can always share,” Sylvia said, looping her arms around his waist. She tilted her head back to look at him. “I don’t take up much space, and besides it’ll be cozy. Nothing wrong with cozy.”
She had him there, and so Edmond once again did his best to shove aside his disappointment with the mix-up. He wrapped his arms around her, and drew her closer.
“You are right, of course” he said. “It is only that I had things planned a certain way. Now they are not going as planned.”
“It’s all right, it can be like adventure we figure out as we go.” She grinned widely, eyes sparkling as one cheek dimpled.
“And you are right again.” He dipped his head, intending to kiss his new bride when there came a knock at the door. Edmond untangled himself from Sylvia and answered it. A young woman from the front desk held up an ice bucket with a chilling bottle of champagne, and two flutes.
“Compliments of the manager,” she said and handed the items off.
“Thank you.” Edmond nodded kindly -- it wasn’t her fault she had interrupted them after all -- and kicked the door shut. He turned back to Sylvia. “Well, at least now you have your champagne.”
After enjoying their champagne they settled into their room before deciding to have a meal at a quaint cafe near the inn. Their meal was delicious, their service attentive, and of course Edmond’s dining companion was without compare. It appeared things were finally looking up despite the earlier headaches, and Edmond intended to put it all behind him and fully enjoy his honeymoon.
Unfortunately their bad luck soon reasserted itself. The strap on Sylvia’s shoe broke on their way back, and she twisted her ankle. They iced it, and though the swelling wasn’t too bad, it was quite tender. Because of that they spent their first night in Paris in their separate beds as Sylvia propped up her ankle and refused to even put a sheet over it.
By morning Edmond was on his guard against more ill fortune. It was of little consequence. Sylvia’s ankle meant their itinerary must be put on hold.
“I’ve ruined everything, haven’t I?” She was pouting, and that would never do. He dropped a kiss to the top of her head.
“It is hardly your fault the strap broke.”
“But now I’m stuck here for the day instead of sightseeing.”
“Well, we can spend the day drinking champagne in the garden. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? If we keep ice on your ankle, I’m sure it will be better tomorrow.”
That pacified Sylvia for the meantime, and once again she was all smiles. A marked improvement over the pouting. With a quick call to the front desk to arrange their day, they made their way to sit in the small gazebo in the gardens.
Truly, it wasn’t a terrible way to spend their day. Even if it wasn’t what had been planned. Although as they sat in the sunshine filtering through the ivy canopy Edmond decided he would make new plans. Something extra special to make up for the disastrous start to their honeymoon.
“What do you mean you lost your wife?” Kam sounded incredulous.
“He lost Sylvia?!” Mina cried before there was an odd muffled sound, almost like Kam was covering the phone.
Edmond listened to the sound of muted rustling of something brushing against the mouthpiece, and hissed words he couldn’t quite make out. Now worried, Edmond wondered if he should try to call someone to check on Kam. Before he could act Mina’s voice sounded clearly in his ear.
“Edmond, what’s wrong?” Her voice was soft with concern, and as earnest as always. So Edmond relayed the mishaps that had befallen them since arriving in Paris, plus his current predicament.
“Her ankle was finally better, so I sent her to the shops for a bit while I arranged for a surprise picnic in Champ de Mars. It was going to be so romantic with the sun setting as they turned on the lights on the Eiffel Tower. But now I am here, the sun is nearly set, our food is spoiling, and she will not answer her phone!”
“She probably got waylaid shopping, it is Sylvia after all. Or she forgot to charge her phone. I wouldn’t worry too much yet.”
“That does me no good, Mina. The surprise is ruined and I am worried regardless.”
“Gimme a second. Here’s Kam back.” The phone went quiet again, but it no longer sounded like Kam was being accosted.
“What’s going on?” Edmond asked.
“Hell if I know, she just bolted from the room.” Kam snorted. “She’s right though, you shouldn’t worry. There are plenty of perfectly plausible reasons why Sylvia might be running late.”
“I know that. It’s only that--” It was only that Sylvia had spent all of her time and attention on the wedding, and it had been beyond perfect. In every way. Edmond had imagined the honeymoon being just as wonderful. Only Edmond wasn’t sure how to explain that to Kam without sounding like a complete sap.
“Ah ha!” Mina’s triumph cry saved him from having to try at all.
“What was that?”
“Putting you on speaker,” Kam said.
“What is it?” Edmond asked.
“Well, it was a combination of things. She did get sidetracked shopping, then she dropped off her things at the hotel, and then she got a little turned around trying to find the park.”
“How do you know all of that?!” Edmond stopped his pacing and pulled the phone the away from his ear to glare at it.
“It’s Sylvia, she never has her ringer on. She didn’t hear you calling or texting.”
“Then how did you get hold of her?” Kam sounded just as incredulous as Edmond felt.
“I commented on her newest Instagram post asking her to DM me ASAP. Come on, it’s totally obvious. I’m surprised you two didn’t think of it.” Mina sounded so nonchalant, as if she had just told them the time of day.
“Mina, you know I’m old and Edmond is technology impaired. Neither of us have any clue what you just said.”
“It doesn’t matter. Sylvia will be there shortly, I promise.”
“Right,” Kam drug out the word.
“Don’t give me that look, Kam. It’s fine. They’ll be fine. I think at this point it’s a proven fact all of you Ryan men, be they blood or adopted, are all cursed to have bad honeymoons.”
“That’s not tru--”
“It is!” Mina cut him off. “Jaden and Ramona almost got divorced as soon as they eloped. Neven nearly broke an ankle, which isn’t just bad luck for him but absolutely the work of a curse! And don’t even get me started on ours.”
“Our honeymoon was mother nature’s fault, not mine!”
“Yes it was, because you’re a Ryan! Now poor Edmond is suffering the same fate because you decided to adopt him.” Mina’s voice got closer to the phone. “Don’t worry, Edmond, it’ll work out in the end.”
“Perhaps this was a bad idea….” Edmond trailed off, wondering if Mina was right. Maybe everything was destined to go wrong no matter how hard he tried?
“Edmond?” Kam’s voice sounded closer, more clear, and Edmond guessed he had been taken off speaker. “Are you all right?”
“I think so.” Edmond sank down on the low wall lining the entry to the park, shoulders sagging.
For a brief moment he entertained the idea of fleeing Paris before he further incurred the curse’s wrath. He imagined grabbing Sylvia’s hand the moment she turned up, dragging her back to their room and packing their things before it was even full dark.
“There’s not a curse, you know. Mina is just off her rocker.”
“I HEARD THAT!” Mina cried in the background.
“She does make a good point, however,” Edmond said.
“She does not. Even if she did, what difference does it make? So the honeymoons are shit. Jaden and Romona are still happily married, bickering and making up as the wind changes. Neven has full use of all of his limbs. And Mina and I were not blown away by a hurricane in Miami. Now it’s all happy marriages and good times.”
“ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT, BABE!?”
“Do you wish you had married Anton instead?” Kam yelled back.
“OH MY GOD! EW!”
Despite himself Edmond cracked a smile at their antics. Kam was right, everyone was happy now. Things were good. Life was good. That was what was important.
“Look--” Kam started but Edmond cut him off when he caught sight of a familiar head of blonde hair.
“She’s here. We’ll talk later, yes?”
“Yeah, mate. Go enjoy time with your wife.”
“You too,” Edmond said laughingly as he hung up. He managed to get his phone into his pocket just before the whirling dervish that was his wife slammed into his side. It was a good thing there was no one around to comment on such an unladylike demonstration.
“I’m so sorry! I completely lost track of time so I didn’t even think to check my mobile until I got the notification from Mina and she said you were worried.”
“It’s all right.” Edmond wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and rested his cheek against the top of her head.
“It’s not all right! I didn’t mean to worry you and I’m sorry I keep ruining things--”
“You haven’t ruined anything.” He didn’t want to tell her that he believed Mina when she said they were cursed, because it sounded crazy in his own head. And yet…
“What was your surprise anyway?” Sylvia pulled back in order to look him in the eyes. Her eyes were shining with curiosity, bright and blue.
“A picnic,” he said as he started to turn her around. The lights on the Eiffel Tower were just starting to burst into life, the sky turning to deep navy while the horizon beyond still glowed a brilliant pink. “And that.”
“Oh, it’s beautiful!” They stood together watching the lights, Sylvia resting her back against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. “This is perfect, Edmond.”
“Are you sure? There was supposed to be a picnic under the trees with all your favorites and chilled champagne.” He pointed to the blanket near them, and a wicker basket sat atop it. “I fear now everything is less than perfect. It seems nothing has gone according to plan.”
“So?” she asked with a shrug as she turned to face him.
“So?” Edmond frowned at her. “I wanted this to be everything you deserve. I tried to make it absolutely perfect, and now everything has gone wrong in some way.”
“It is perfect, Edmond.” She glanced back at the Eiffel Tower. “We’re in Paris and I’m with you and we’re married. If that isn’t perfection I don’t know what is.”
Edmond knew she truly believed it was perfect, and how he loved her for that. “I think the only thing here that is perfect is you.”
“That’s not true!” Sylvia giggled, her cheeks growing dark. “I forgot the time and got lost on my way here. I’m hardly perfect.”
“Doesn’t matter.” He shook his head. “To me you are.”
Sylvia didn’t hesitate before lifting up onto her toes to kiss him. They stayed together a moment, her arms around his neck, and his circling her waist. Eventually Edmond withdrew and offered her his hand with a slight bow.
“Will you dance with me?”
“There’s no music,” she laughed.
“So?” He shrugged. “We are young and in love and in Paris. What else are we supposed to do but dance?”
With a glowing smile Sylvia slipped her hand into his, and together they fell into a slow waltz on the sidewalk in front of the Champ de Mars, bathed in the light from the streetlamps. They danced until dawn, completely lost to the world, before finally retreating to their inn and the waiting champagne breakfast.
It was utterly perfect.