Beware the Ides of March
It was noon. Lucrecia sat alone on her apartment balcony overlooking San Francisco Bay with a glass of wine on the small table beside her, turning a gold, diamond encrusted cat brooch with ruby eyes over and over in her hands, thinking about the man who had given it to her as a birthday present last year.
That relationship was now over, ended exactly a month before when his company had taken an unexpected nosedive. She glowered at the brooch as she thought about the insult he had given her when he broke the news.
How dare he do such a thing on Valentine’s day? Even if he felt he had to pick a smaller gift instead of the one he kept, he could have had the decency to wait at least one day.
It wasn’t that she particularly minded that the relationship had come to an end she had expected. It had been fated so from before it started. What had angered her such that she still seethed a month later was how and when he had ended it.
Still, she should be getting her revenge… right about now. She had friends who would confirm it sooner or later. He had gone on a business trip to Sydney, one she had been scheduled to go on with him, but that possibility had evaporated as precipitously as the relationship. She smiled, a devilish little smile, remembering her last words to him before picking up the expensive handbag he had previously bought for her and walking off.
“If you can’t behave like a decent adult, then beware the Ides of March.”
George lay alone in the hotel bed. Lucrecia should have been beside him, but that relationship had fallen apart a month before, when his fortunes turned and he could no longer afford to keep a mistress. His wife was supposedly visiting her mother to help her with some of the things she couldn’t get to as easily anymore.
He suspected her of having taken a woman lover she wanted time with, but as long as it kept her from complaining about his mistresses, and she didn’t spend inordinate amounts of money on her, he wasn’t inclined to complain. Inordinate might be rather smaller than it used to be, and he’d be watching the accounts rather more closely, but he could let her have some indulgences if her lover was willing to accept the changes.
He turned his thoughts from the current sad state of his sex life and to the meeting he had late the following morning. With a little luck, this would win him the next big contract and get his financial ship turned around again. Still contemplating the meeting, he drifted off to sleep.
[i]George was back in the small tea house he had taken Lucrecia to when he had to break the relationship. The same strings of pink and purple hearts adorned the windows, and they were sitting at the same table.
The tea house wasn’t as high class a place as he would usually take her, but he had little spare cash he dared spend after the heads of his biggest client, which made up nearly two thirds of his business, had all died in a plane crash a week before and the company had filed for Chapter Seven late the previous night.
The remaining executives could have kept going, at least for a while, and he had counted on it from the moment he heard the news. That would have been so if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate situation that the main servers had two mirrored hard drives fail taking out a critical server. Neither was that failure a critical one. The real problem came when the knowledge needed to put together they keys needed restore the older backups, encrypted by infosec requirements, had been found to have died with the executives on the plane. Even so, the current records could have been restored, and operations continued at least for a time, if the FAA hadn’t come the next day to request certain older records for a crash investigation, which read attempt appeared to have instigated the death of the drives. That had started the clock on restoration from backup ticking with a short window and no mercy available from the long arm of the bureaucracy.
When the clock ran out all company operations had been shut down by the FAA, and the fines started mounting. After a few days of fruitless searching for friends and relatives of the executives who might have pieces of the keys, an emergency meeting with the FAA was called by the heirs and remaining executives. It was decided that without the records the company could not continue operations, but, in light of the people responsible for creating the problem being dead and past punishment, and the unexpected nature of the simultaneous drive failure, the company would be allowed to set aside a fund for the FAA to use to attempt recovery of the records for use in the current and future crash investigations, dim though the chance appeared, and shut down.
George had explained this to Lucrecia as nicely as he could, his voice unsteady with his own concern for his company with so much of his business gone without notice.
“I would that I could shower you with jewels, or better still, that we needn’t part, but, alas, unless I can save my business, I can find only this, if even this, that I can truly call mine to give you.”
He unclasped the silver chain from his neck, reached across the small table, and clasped it around hers. She leaned forward and bent her beautiful head to make it easier for him to do so. He carefully reached under her flowing blonde hair and hooked the clasp. As he lowered his hands he grasped hers gently and looked into her lovely blue eyes.
“I wish you all the best.”
Her response had been nothing like he expected. Her eyes blazed as she said, “If you can’t behave like a decent adult, then beware the Ides of March.”
The dream morphed. The Valentine’s hearts disappeared, and the whole atmosphere seemed a little darker and bleaker. The TV was playing something set in ancient Rome.
Lucrecia spoke two words.
As if that was an arranged signal the staff and patrons of the tea house dropped what they were doing and converged on the table. Lucrecia watched with unconcealed malicious delight as they hauled him to a set of tables that had somehow been moved together, and put him on it. As he opened his mouth to protest one shoved the nipple of a large baby bottle into his mouth which immediately started dripping into his mouth. He had to swallow in order to keep from choking on the bland liquid. Though he struggled, there were far too many of them for him to fight, and they effortlessly kept him restrained.
As he was able to notice his situation he felt a cold metal line on his shin, and then heard the snip of scissors. After the cold line moved and he heard another snip he realized they were cutting off his suit.
“No!” he tried to say, but all that came out around the nipple and liquid in his mouth was garbled noise, and he nearly choked.
The suit cutter continued to work, and he felt other hands tugging the laces of his shoes. Then his shoes were pulled off, and his socks followed. In moments, he was lying naked on the tattered remains of his once-expensive suit.
Another person held a purple rectangular plastic object in front of him, then slowly unfolded it, and he heard Lucrecia’s voice, “If he can’t treat women like a decent man does, then he can diapered like a baby.”
He felt his legs being spread and lifted and his bottom lift with them. He heard the quiet muffled thump of powder shaking in a container and felt a slight tickling sensation on his penis. The shaking stopped, and he jumped as a hand started rubbing him [/i]down there.[i] The hand moved thoroughly around and he felt himself start to get an erection. The hand stopped for a moment, and then his penis was flicked. Hard.
"Babies don’t get erections, said Lucrecia. “They don’t need them, since they don’t need to please a woman. You are obviously incapable of pleasing a woman, so you don’t need them either.”
The hand returned to rubbing the powder in. The erection collapsed and with it his will to fight. He felt himself lowered to the table again, but there seemed to be more padding than his suit had had. Something was pulled up between his legs and spread across his belly. He realized that they were putting the diaper on him. Then he felt the sides being pulled up and taped in place. Lucrecia bent over him as the last tape was attached.
“We’re getting there. Soon you’ll be ready.”
After a couple minutes that felt much longer he started sucking air from the bottle, and it was pulled from his mouth and replaced with a pacifier. Then he was lifted into a sitting position, his arms were lifted up, and someone from behind him pulled something down his arms and over his head. As it passed by, he could see that it was pink.
The unknown garment was tugged into place, and then he heard and felt a zipper being drawn up his back. Someone else held a pink headband up to a murmur of approval, so it was put on his head, not that his hair was long enough to need any help. Others shoved socks and shoes onto his feet, and then he was carried over to a mirror.
He looked at his reflection in horror. He was wearing a dress no longer than a shirt, and certainly not long enough to cover his diaper. The only reason it could even be called a dress and not a shirt was because it had a waist and flared skirt, which only made it show more of his diaper as he moved. On his feet were purple socks and pink Mary Janes.
Lucrecia came to stand beside the mirror. “Don’t you look just adorable now?”
He stared at her.
“You should be wetting your diaper soon,” she said. “That bottle was a special drink to make you need your diapers, and we took care of your erections already.”
He saw movement in the mirror. A pink stroller was pushed up behind him and he was put into it. His arms were put through the straps, and the crotch strap was pulled up between his legs. By careless, or perhaps not so careless chance, the hem of the dress was folded up under the straps as they were clicked into place, leaving his entire diaper on display except for the straps.
“Oh, don’t you look adorable,” said Lucrecia, smiling at him.
George just sat there, mute. Suddenly he felt a warmth in his crotch. He looked down, then reached down. The diaper was warm and getting thicker. When he pinched it the material was squishy. He tried to stop the flow, but nothing happened. It seemed the muscles just wouldn’t respond to his commands at all. He looked up in horror.
Lucrecia just kept smiling. “That was the drink taking effect. Now you will forever need your diapers. Let’s go for a walk.”
The stroller was turned on its rear wheels and pushed to the door. As they passed through the doors the scene dissolved.
George awoke mumbling, “But I did the best I knew how. Why did you have to do this to me?”
He was in the hotel bed with the dawn just making the curtains glow. The dream he’d had was certainly a strange one. Perhaps it had something to do with having thought about it again last night. But what about the second part of the dream? What was that all about?
He threw off the covers. The cool air hit him unexpectedly hard, and then he felt a trickle of warm liquid on his thigh. He reached down and felt the sheets in horror. They were wet. How had that happened? He’d never had a problem with wetting the bed, even as a child.
He paused a moment, thinking about the dream he’d had, only to be startled by his alarm going off. Six o’clock local time. His meeting wasn’t until eleven, but he liked to be up early anyway. The alarm continued to blare, so he reached over and hit the button to stop it. With a sigh he swung out of bed and made his way through the nearly dark room to the bathroom and stepped into the shower.
As George scrubbed himself he continued to ponder the dream. Could that have anything to do with it? How? And why did it have to be today, of all days? As he was getting close to done in the shower he remembered something else about the dream. He grabbed his penis and pictured the lovely Aussie woman at the check-in desk last night. His penis remained completely limp, with no hint of getting stiff.
Now George was getting seriously alarmed. How could a dream do all this to him? He lingered a few more minutes in the shower, but came up with no answers. Sighing, he turned off the water, stepped out of the shower, and started to dry off. Half-way done drying off he felt warm water on his foot and looked down to see that he was peeing. More dribbling than a proper stream, but peeing on himself nonetheless.
Muttering dark oaths, George hung up the towel and stepped back into the shower to rinse off again and considered what to do. He was nothing if not resourceful. That was how he had built a large and successful manufacturing business from the ground up. On stepping out this time he took the second foot towel and wrapped it around himself like a loincloth before finishing drying off. Once he finished he went to get his clothes. Before putting them on he felt the towel and realized that it was a little damp at the tip of his penis. If this kept up, he’d surely have wet clothes in no time.
Back to the drawing board. George walked through the hotel room looking for a solution, and spied the wastebasket in the bathroom. More specifically the bag lining it. Maybe that would work long enough for him to get something better. If he had a problem he was going to deal with it and get on with his life. Whether he liked it didn’t matter. He couldn’t let his employees down without doing everything he could to keep the company going for them. Those bastards might have left both him and their employees high and dry, but he was damned if he was going to fail his people without a fight to the bitter end.
He bent down, pulled the liner from the can, and considered his options. After a moment he went back to his pants, got his pocketknife and opened the tiny scissors. A minute’s careful work made two leg holes and he slid the bag up his legs. A bit noisy and weak, especially after what he’d done to the bag, but with luck he wouldn’t need to go far or for very long.
With the bag tied in place George put on his clothes, sat down, and opened his computer to look for a nearby medical supply store. While he could have just gone to any drugstore he figured the medical store clerks would be more discreet. As luck would have it, there was one with suitably early hours just a half kilometer away, which he translated to a quarter mile. Perfect.
He took down the name and address, then put on his coat and went down to the lobby to get a cab. In just a few minutes the cab pulled up and he gave the name of the place to the friendly driver, Rich. At this still early hour the roads were clear and the cab pulled up in the empty parking lot not two minutes later.
“I shouldn’t be more than a few minutes,” George said to Rich, “and then I’ll need to return. Please wait for me here.”
George smiled as he stepped out of the cab and Rich closed the door behind him. He’d found that being friendly usually got him far better service, whether or not he felt friendly.
The taxi driver was easy to be friendly with compared to what he needed to do now. Still, he didn’t seem to have any other options right now. The meeting must go on and he had to make it through whatever it took to do so. Hopefully this was just a brief episode, but if it wasn’t there was only one solution he knew of.
He squared his shoulders, lifted his head, and strode resolutely into the store. There was a counter to his right and a few aisles to his left. He turned to the counter to find a pretty young woman standing behind it with a name tag that said “Kate.” As indicated by the empty parking lot, he appeared to be the only customer in the store.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, preparing to give the story he’d invented, “I just flew in last night, and found that my diapers didn’t make it.”
“Oh!” she said, a little surprised. “Uh, yes. We do have some options.” By the time she finished speaking she had regained her professional demeanor.
She walked around the counter and went down the aisle at the end of it. George followed her halfway down the aisle. There were rows of packages indicating features which meant nothing to him.
“Do you have any recommendations on which of these are best for wetting day and night?”
She pointed to a set of blue and white packages on the bottom shelf. “These seem to sell well, and I’ve had a few people tell me they are great. The other most popular one for what you have is probably these Tena slips,” she said, pointing to the right at some blue packages.
He looked more closely at the two sets. The blue and white packages said “Abena Abri-Form Premium” on them.
“I think I’ll get the Abena,” he said.
She looked at him a little curiously, and then said, “For daytime most people with heavier incontinence seem to like either the three or four. Everyone using them for bedwetting seems to prefer the four. The four is, of course, thicker.”
George took a moment to consider before replying, “Hmmm… Since I’m not familiar with this brand, maybe I should get one of each. I have an important meeting later, and I really don’t want anything to go wrong.”
“Of course. What size do you need?”
“Uh, thirty six inch waist.”
Kate stared blankly at him.
“Let’s see,” he said figuring in a mumble, “thirty-six, seventy-two, and eighteen is ninety, plus a little,” now he spoke full voice, “so about ninety-one, ninety-two centimeters.”
“Then the mediums should fit you perfectly,” she said reaching down and pulling two packages off the shelf.
“What about wipes?” he said, and tried to fit it in with his lie, “I’ve got a few, but I was counting on the extras with the missing diapers.”
“Oh, right over here,” Kate said moving down the aisle a little.
George looked where she gestured with the package of diapers in her hand. There were three options to choose from. He picked each one up in turn and looked them over before settling on one.
“That should be what I need for now,” he said, “and hopefully that will do for the rest of my time here.”
“Well, we’ll be here if you find you do need anything else,” she said as she walked to the counter.
In moments she had his purchase rung up. He pulled out his credit card while she put everything in a large paper bag. She ran his card through, and handed him the receipt to sign. Looking out the door she saw the taxi, so after she took the receipt back she folded the top of the bag over, turned it upside down, and put it in another bag.
George smiled at her as she handed him his bag, “Thank you, Kate. You have a nice day.”
“Thank you sir, and you do so too.”
He walked out of the store, and Rich promptly stepped out of the taxi and walked around to take the bag. George let him put it in the back seat and nodded as he entered the door Rich held open. The trip back took no more time than the trip over.
Back in his room, George went straight to the bathroom, opened the bag, and set the packages of diapers on the counter. He considered the choice for a moment, then decided that he ought to see if the thicker ones would work, and he could always change his mind later. With that in mind, he opened the package and pulled out one of the diapers. It had a white plastic fake cloth with a blue ladder running down it. He unfolded it, wondered how it was supposed to go on, checked the instruction pictures on the package, and set it on the counter before wondering why he hadn’t checked himself before opening the package.
He shrugged. It probably didn’t matter, and if he somehow didn’t need it, the cost of a package of diapers wasn’t going to break him at this point. Looking in the mirror, he could see the obvious lines of the towel folds under his pants. Good thing it had been early enough that his coat was comfortable, and the local late summer temperatures weren’t quite so horrible in the first place.
George undid his belt and took off his pants. The makeshift towel diaper pulled down, settling in the crotch of his pants. He pulled it back up with his left hand and held it while he leaned against the door and took off his pants. Then he let down towel and bag and looked at it. There was a sizable wet spot on the towel, covering about a third of it. Shaking his head, he let the towel down to the floor and pulled it off his feet. At least it had worked enough to keep his pants dry.
He opened the wipes, took one out, and ran it over his crotch. He considered, then took a second wipe and did the same before picking up the diaper and putting it on. It was harder than he expected, but he managed to get it looking at least close to what he thought it should be. Once it was in place he put his pants back on, and looked in the mirror again. It did seem to flatten his bottom, and perhaps did produce a bulge in front, but compared to the towel folds it was hardly noticeable.
Back in the room again, he saw the wet bed. Another problem. Hopefully that wouldn’t cost him too much.
George decided he would go down for breakfast, but before he put the diapers and wipes back in the bag, put it in the closet, and closed the door. He also rinsed out the towel and hung it on the edge of the tub. The wastebasket liner he considered for a moment, then wadded up some toilet paper put it inside, and left it crumpled in the bottom of the wastebasket. Hopefully the maid would just pull the whole thing out without looking at it and put in a new liner.
Reasonably satisfied that the bed was the only thing he hadn’t hidden, not that he could, George checked his pockets for the things he needed, put the “please clean” sign on his door handle, and went down to the hotel restaurant.
After a light and leisurely breakfast George went back up to his room. The maid was working on the room next to his, but as he got closer he saw that the sign had disappeared from his door. He went into his room to find that it had indeed been cleaned. The bed was neatly made, and the wet towels were gone from the bathroom. There wasn’t any note about what had happened, but he figured he’d hear about that when he went to check out.
Satisfied with the condition of the room, he went into the bathroom and pulled down his pants to check his diaper. It was wet. Not that he had experience, but it didn’t seem like it should be wet enough to need changing yet. He pulled his pants back up and sat at the table with his computer to recheck his notes for the meeting.
The alarm startled George out of his work. As usual, once he got going, he would work until he was entirely finished or something demanded his attention. He finished the edit he was making and got up. As he did so he felt the diaper he was wearing and went to the bathroom to change it before the meeting. When he took off his pants he saw that this time it was definitely quite wet. Still, it had kept his pants dry, which was an improvement over the bed last night.
George realized he didn’t have any diapers in the bathroom, so we went to his closet and got the bag out. As far as he could tell it hadn’t been touched. He opened it and pulled out the packages of diapers. He considered using the thinner ones, but decided that the one he had worked, and he didn’t know about the others. Ten minutes later he had finished changing and went to collect his briefcase. He looked at the clock. Twenty til. The restaurant wasn’t that far away, so he might be a little early, but it wouldn’t be that early.
Briefcase in hand, George left the hotel and took a cab to the restaurant, arriving ten minutes later. Just about perfect, he thought to himself.
He entered the restaurant and gave his reservation. It was still early, and he was seated right away. While he waited for the clients he was meeting he set up his computer and put his papers in order. The maître d’ brought them to the table five minutes later, and George stood to greet them.
“G’day, George,” said the taller man, holding out his hand, “I am Theodore.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Theodore,” said George, shaking his hand.
“Ron,” said the other man, holding out his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
“A pleasure to meet you, too.”
“Thank you for coming all this way to meet us,” said Theodore.
“It’s my pleasure. I’ve long wished to come here for pleasure, and another client needed me to look over their operation.”
“It’s still good of you to make time for us when we are coming to you,” said Ron.
“I built what I have by being efficient. That carries through every part of what I do.”
Theodore smiled as he started to reply.
Two and a half hours later, the three men left chatting amiably about places George might visit while he was in the city. George, for his part, was delighted with the proposed contract that had now been sent to the lawyers of both firms for review. It might take six months to get the cash flow from it stabilized, but he was fairly sure the lawyers would quickly approve it as written and both parties could sign in person before he left.
The valet quickly brought Theodore’s car and he and Ron departed, leaving George to wait another few minutes for the taxi. The day was warm, but bearable in the shade, which made the wait no bother, especially given his mood.
As he sat down in the taxi he felt something gooey squishing around. His eyes widened, and the taxi driver looked questioningly at him.
“No, there’s nothing wrong,” he assured the gentleman.
Five minutes later, however, as the taxi pulled into his hotel, the smell was rather apparent. The taxi driver, fortunately, was a professional, and pretended not to notice, for which George was glad. He exited the taxi, took his briefcase, and went to his room as quickly as he could without looking improper.
George looked at the package of wipes on the counter and then decided that a shower was in order. It took a while to get cleaned up enough to satisfy himself, and he was glad he hadn’t tried to use the wipes. Once he was clean, he dried off, stepped out of the shower, and put on his third diaper. Fourth if he counted the towel first thing in the morning.
With nothing else he needed to do, George went to his bed and lay down on top of the covers. There was a crinkle he didn’t remember as he sat down. Wondering what it was, he pulled aside the covers, then pulled the sheet out and reached underneath. There was a plastic layer that plainly hadn’t been there before. Evidently the hotel wasn’t taking chances on a repeat of what happened last night.
George pulled the covers back in place, moved the second pillow on top, and lay on it with his hands under his head to think about what happened.
If the dream was anything to go by, Lucrecia had somehow done this. But it made no sense to him that it could even be real. The diapers were, however, real, and he had plainly needed them, whatever the reason. Turning the question over brought no answers, and he drifted somewhere between waking and sleep.
Lucrecia sat on her couch after dinner turning the brooch over and over in her hands and wondering why she felt empty instead of satisfied. She scarcely noticed the Cuckoo clock on the wall chime eight. True, she didn’t know for certain if her plan had worked, but she had no reason to doubt it. Why, then, didn’t it make her happy?
Her mind drifted back to the time in the tea house when he had ended their relationship.
George, his eyes bright with unshed tears, explaining the unexpected, and likely catastrophic-to-his-business loss of his biggest client. The parting gift of the silver chain, given as tenderly as he had ever given her any gift. His words as he did so, “I would that I could shower you with jewels, or better still, that we needn’t part, but, alas, unless I can save my business, I can find only this, if even this, that I can truly call mine to give you.” His last words to her, his eyes so full she now wondered if he had really seen her as he said them, “I wish you all the best.”
For the first time she saw, not a man casting her off with grievous insult, but a man, nearly broken by a misfortune not of his own making, making his way through the bramble briar of his misfortune in the best way he knew how. A man who had the day before been on the top of the world, now wondering, if not tomorrow, in perhaps three, perhaps six months’ time, where his next meal would come from. A man who, despite that, had given her all he believed he could. She knew he had worn that chain for years. Decades, perhaps.
How had she repaid him?
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she considered the state he must surely be in. She knew he had an important business meeting that should have ended not long before. Had he canceled? Had he wet himself and looked a fool? Could he still have any chance of winning the contract?
She was weary and worn out when the cuckoo clock chiming nine brought her back to the present. Her bed was calling her invitingly, but there was something she needed to do first. She picked up the phone and went to dial, then realized he would surely recognize her number and ignore it. If it was going to happen, there was only one way it would. Lucrecia took a moment to dry her eyes before picking up her purse and heading out to the payphone.
George was startled out of his half-sleep by the sound of his phone ringing. It wasn’t a number he recognized, and he was tempted to ignore it, but few had this number, and none of them were likely to call unless it was important.
The female voice on the other end was ragged, “I’m sorry, George. I forgive you for what I should never have taken insult from in the first place.”
It took him a moment to recognize the voice he knew so well. When he did, he was shocked to hear the cool and collected Lucrecia sounding like something terrible had happened to her. And those were the first words she spoke to him?
Lucrecia stood in the payphone booth waiting for what seemed an eternity, the price of the call rising. She had said the words that might bring a healing and a restoration of what was lost. Tick… tock… Would it work? Tick… tock… Could it work? Tick… tock The seconds, each one interminable, ticked by. What was George thinking? What would he say? Tick… tock… She considered hanging up, but dared not. As long as the line was open she had a chance. Terminating it would surely snuff the delicate coal she had, perhaps, ignited.
Finally, after three minutes that felt like three hours, George spoke a single word.
As ready as she had tried to be, it still took her a moment to answer.
“Because I, in my foolishness, took your gift of the last thing of value you had, insulted you for it, and then compounded my wrong by trying to destroy you.”
George was silent for a moment. Lucrecia took the opportunity to continue, “I most humbly beg your forgiveness, because… I… find… I would rather… live… with you… as a pauper… than live… alone… in the richest palace in the world.”
George stood by the alter in the cathedral. Lucrecia, resplendent in her white gown, made her careful way down the aisle. His diaper grew tight as he watched her elegant steps perfectly timed to the music. It was a little damp, as it always was these days, but that was no matter. He had his beautiful bride, who loved him just the way he was. Lucrecia mounted the steps to stand beside him before the priest.
“I, George Adams, take you, Lucrecia Valenti, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.”
As he spoke, Lucrecia thought back to the moment when she knew she had made the right decision, that moment towards the end of that fateful payphone call when he had said, “I too must ask forgiveness, for not giving you the chance when I could no longer shower you with gifts as I once had.”
She spoke the traditional reply, meaning every word as much as she had ever meant anything she had said.
“I, Lucrecia Valenti, take you, George Adams, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.”
“You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. What God has joined, men must not divide. Amen.”
“Amen,” came the response from the crowd.
George and Lucrecia turned to each other and kissed, each with eyes and ears only for the other.