Later that day, in the living/dining room of Colette & Diego's condo, Akemi whispers last minute encouragement to his nervous sister while Spencer adjusts her friend Etsuko's veil.
Maile's maid of honor, her BFF from Hawaii, pushes Akemi out of the way good-naturedly and reaches for Maile's headpiece while Spencer continues to fiddle with Etsuko's.
"Thank you so much for coming, Kohana. I hate that you have to leave right after the ceremony, but it means so much that you are here to stand up with me as I become a married woman!"
"Spencer, my only wish for you is the happiness I've found with Ranger-san. You will find true love, I know you will."
Colleen, Remi (Shepherds Pie's new bass player) and the flute player Colleen hired begin playing soft chamber music as the guests arrive and take their seats. Coco awaits on the patio, guarding the cake and food. A mystery woman leans against the brick wall at the side entrance.
The sun beats down on the garden as Mark and the two grooms take their places near the back gate. Angel focuses her camera and begins snapping shot after shot.
Peter's attention is on the music as he awaits the start of the ceremony. Colleen's group sounds great. I'm really glad Remi is working out. That Van was just too much of a flake. There is something just a little "off" about that flute player, though. I can't quite put my finger on what it is . . . .
Harmony looks displeased. I can't believe he dragged me to HER wedding! I know he had to be here for Ranger, but really . . . a DOUBLE wedding? How redneck!
The grooms nervously await the change in music that will signal the arrival of their brides.
Angel carefully finds her focus, readying her camera for the money shots.
As the music swells, Kohana makes her way down the narrow aisle of the garden, her dress swishing rhythmically against the chairs and grass as she passes.
Kohana is followed by Spencer in a matching gown, one of the only nods to tradition in this otherwise somewhat unorthodox event.
As the music suddenly changes, all heads turn to see Akemi escort Etsuko -- in her mother's 1980s gown and veil -- down the aisle to her sweating groom.
Ranger drinks in the sight of the woman for whom he has waited so long to make his wife.
After delivering Etsuko to her waiting groom, Akemi returns with a heavy heart to escort his beloved sister into the arms of the man he still thinks of as her tormentor's son.
Yutaka's mouth quirks almost imperceptibly at the sight of the black feathers decorating Maile's headpiece and bouquet. He should have expected no less from his quirky, free-spirited bride.
Let's listen in on the thoughts of some of the wedding guests:
Stephen: Spencer is HOT in that dress. I wonder how long we have to stay at this deal?
Anna: I feel so out of place. I don't know these people. I wonder how quickly I can make my escape once the ceremony is over?
Marlow: That bridesmaid chick is smokin'! Even better, she's from out of town. No strings, just in and out. I can't wait for this ceremony to be over so I can begin the conquest.
Curly, reaching for Tee's hand: This is so romantic!
Angel: My feet hurt. And I'm thirsty!
Jett: I wonder how many more pictures Angel has to take? The sight of all those legs coming out of that short dress, and her bending over that camera. . . .
Akemi: Well, it's all over but the shouting now. He had damn well better make her happy!
Colette, reaching for Diego's hand: I love weddings!
Harmony: That bitch is really milking it.
Each couple recites their own vows, and it seems only moments later that Mark turns his eyes to the guests and announces, "I now present Mr. & Mrs. Yutaka Kawase and Mr. & Mrs. Ranger Manoso!
As soon as the newly wed couples are announced, Colleen and her group quietly reposition themselves to play while tables and chairs are moved for the reception.
Coco prepares to oversee the placement of the food and beverage tables.
Fortunately, plenty of champagne has been ordered!
After the frenzied departure of Maile's maid of honor, Kohana, Angel finishes up the formal photos. The guests mingle. Jett waits patiently. Marlow, having throughly scoped out the crowd even before the abrupt departure of his date, zeroes in on the violet-eyed blonde who appears not to have an escort. "Are you alone?" he asks as he joins her near the garden wall. She smiles. "I guess I am." She sticks out her tiny hand. "I'm Keeli. I'm Ranger's secretary." He takes her hand in his and holds it as if it's a priceless work of art. He looks at her intently as he strokes and fondles her hand. "I am Marlow. I find myself alone as well. My 'date' found it necessary to leave abruptly for West Virginia immediately following the ceremony." "Your date was Maile's maid of honor, then?" "Affirmative. Since we both find ourselves at loose ends, may I escort you to the hors d' oeuvres?" He smiles impishly and holds out his arm. Charmed in spite of herself, Keeli grins up at him and takes his arm.
On the other side of the garden, Curly has chosen this moment to impulsively pop the question to Tee while Akemi and Piper whisper together.
Akemi leans in, eyes locked on Piper's, and says, softly so only she can hear, "You are enchanting, my fair English flower."
She meets his eyes boldly and suggests, "You know, I don't necessarily need to return to Morgan's apartment tonight. George can fend for himself until morning. He has plenty of food and water."
Rob peruses the hors d'ouevres table while Harmony continues to sulk.
Diego whispers to Colette, "You look beauteeful today, mi corazon. More beauteeful even than at our own weddeeng."
Their gazes locked, their faces inches from one another, their breathing quickened, Akemi and Piper are caught in the moment as it drags out into eternity.
Tee is stunned and speechless at Curly's abrupt proposal as Spencer and Stephen look on in amazement.
Angel snaps the last formal shot, thinking Finally! My back is killing me!
The sight of Angel straightening from her camera is the signal for which Yutaka has been waiting. He grabs Maile around the waist, bends her backward, and stares into her eyes for a long minute before . . .
Ranger takes Etsuko by the arms and the two stare shyly into one another's eyes.
"Ranger-san, I have never been happier than I am at this moment."
"Little Flower, you are everything to me. I can't believe you are finally my wife!"
Angel sighs as she straightens. "It's a wrap!" she announces and turns to Jett. "Thank you for being so patient, babe. I really didn't want to come to this event alone."
After a few drawn-out moments Tee flings her arms around Curly's neck and shows surprising restraint and consideration for her surroundings by whispering excitedly in his ear, "Yes! Oh, YES!".
They kiss, leaving Stephen and Spencer standing awkwardly. Her feelings for him have cooled decidedly due to his constant public displays of affection . . . and lust. He looks at her but she pointedly avoids his gaze, concentrating on her friends and their startling news.
"Congratulations, Ranger. It's good to have you as a 'friend-in-law'." Yutaka winks.
As the two grooms chat companionably, Curly and Tee retire to the loveseat in the corner. Jett takes Angel by the arms, leans her back against the fence, looks at her earnestly, and days, "You will never be alone as long as I'm around." Spencer retires to the condo to change, and Stephen takes a seat near the flute player and tries to strike up a conversation. Her eyes, however, never stray from Ranger, and she does not grace Stephen with a response. Marlow and Keeli chat animatedly on their way to the patio.
The musical trio is relieved of their duties when the DJ arrives and begins to set up. Colleen moves to join Peter near the wall. "Hey, you. How did we sound?"
"You sounded great, Red. The new bass player is really working out well, isn't he?"
Colette looks up at Diego with sad eyes. "Why do you think we haven't been able to make another baby, Diego? I love all of our girls, but I want another child from you." Frustrated, Diego replies "Eet certainly ees not for lack of tryeeng!"
"Harmony, grow up! There is nothing between Maile and me! You're making a scene."
Piper whispers "If this was anyone's wedding other than your sister's, we'd be naked in my bed by now." A flush darkens Akemi's pale cheeks as a vision of her naked appears unbidden in his mind.
As Mark moves chairs, Remi's eyes are locked on Marlow's unsubtle attempt to put the moves on Keeli.
"I have loved you since our very first date, when you never said a word about having to abort our camping trip because of my poison ivy."
"Remi has real talent. That Luna, though . . . she's capable enough, but there's just something odd about her."
Coyly, Colette suggests "We can try again tonight if you like, Diego." "There ees notheeng een thees world I would like more, mi Corazon!", he replies fervently. They look around, and their eyes meet as they both have the same thought: "How can we get these people to leave?"
"I mean it, Harmony. Act like a decent human being or I'm dragging you out of here, Ranger or no Ranger."
Without warning, Marlow grabs Keeli around the waist and pulls her to him, pinning her with his piercing brown eyes as if to relieve her of all self-control. At her short exclamation of surprise, Ranger and Yutaka turn, but almost before the scene registers on the two grooms, Remi has already started moving toward the source of the disturbance.
"Wait. Not here, Jett. Not now. Let's have our own private moment. Later."
"Woman, you take my breath away." She certainly isn't like Hawaiian girls!
"I know what I like and I know what I want. Am I supposed to be coy about it? Coy isn't my style. I want you, Akemi."
On the patio, Spencer calls out to get everyone's attention. When the crowd quiets, she introduces the two brides, who have changed into shorter, more manageable dresses for the reception.
Colleen waves as the brides enter the patio from the side entrance, the flute player's idiosyncracies forgotten for the moment.
As Akemi turns to greet his newly wed sister and her childhood friend, he crosses his hands in front of his groin to hide the evidence of his intimate conversation with Piper.
Harmony continues to glare at the woman she considers her rival, oblivious to the drama unfolding around her.
With surprising strength, Keeli breaks Marlow's embrace and pushes him away just as Remi reaches them. Jett starts toward the altercation, but noting that between them Keeli and Remi have the situation in hand, Angel restrains him.
Etsuko has chosen a short, tiered dress trimmed in gray, accessorized by a large black hat. Maile has elected to keep her headdress but has changed into a short, tapered dress trimmed in tulle and black lace. Etsuko emits an uncharacteristic "WOOHOO!" as she re-enters the patio, arms held high in triumph.
While everyone's attention is focused on the brides, Piper's hand surreptitiously cups Akemi's ass and squeezes lightly.
Akemi bends to embrace his sister's lifelong friend, knocking off her hat in the process. "Congratulations, Little Flower! Thwarting your father was not an easy task; I commend you on your perserverance."
Remi pulls Keeli protectively away from Marlow with one arm as he and Ranger restrain the man. Angel's and Jett's attention is momentarily distracted by the arrival of the brides as the drama in the garden plays out.
Focused on restraining Marlow, Ranger does not notice Luna's hand stealthily creeping up behind him, inches from touching his arm.
"No trouble, mon! Everyting iree!"
"Piper, this is my sister's childhood friend, Etsuko. 'Suko, this is my . . . friend, Piper."
Coco prepares for the cake-cutting.
Maile's eyes scan the crowd upon her return from changing gowns, finally locating her beloved waiting at the far end of the garden. She runs to him as he moves in her direction, both oblivious to everyone around them.
"Are you sure you're all right, lovely lady?"
"I'm fine. Thank you. He just . . . startled me, that's all."
Curly and Tee are apparently celebrating their engagement, oblivious to their surroundings.
The crowd shifts. Peter selects a bottle of champagne. Stephen talks earnestly to Spencer, capturing her hand despite her attempts to pull away. Dani, the Event Planner, makes an appearance to check on the progress of the party. Marlow, rejected forcibly by Keeli, has spotted new prey.
"Congratulations, Maile and Yutaka! I'm so honored that you asked me to officiate." As Mark occupies the attention of her friends, Curly and Tee congratulate Etsuko enthusiastically, sharing their own news. Unnoticed, Luna creeps up next to Ranger and touches his shoulder.
Seeing the corner bench being vacated when Curly and Tee jump up to speak with Etsuko, Akemi guides Piper to that corner and they sit, drinking in the sight of one another and trying to keep their hands from straying underneath each other's garments.
"Hey, baby. Wanna make some sweet music with me later? I want to see if there's any end to those legs coming out from under that dress."
Everything looks as though it's going perfectly! I'm so relieved!
"To us, Colleen. An unlikely couple who keeps on breaking the odds."
"And for all of those reasons and more, I am asking . . . . "
"Here. Eat this and quit glaring."
"Maybe you should see a doctor. Sis."
"I know, but . . . oh, Angel, what if I can't get pregnant again? What if something about Hope's birth . . . ."
"The man be crazy. No need to be jumpin' a lady like dat."
I see many more event planning gigs in my future if this one continues to go well. Mrs. Rodrigues is so influential! I know that if she recommends me, I'll definitely have an "in", and if these two couples are happy with their wedding . . .
When Luna touches his shoulder, Ranger turns. Odd-looking woman, he thinks, but not unattractive. Asian . . . but blonde. Very unusual. And, he notices, shorter than me.
Marlow moves in for the kill. "I'd like to come around behind you and slip my hand . . ."
"Peter, no. Let Rob handle Harmony. It looks like he's finally got the hang of it. No need for you to get involved."
Jett fetches punch for Angel, who is very thirsty after working through the wedding.
As Rob and Harmony move toward the garden to find chairs, a low, throaty rumble approaches, growing louder and louder until it interferes with conversation.
Abruptly the noise stops in front of Colette and Diego's condo, and a minute later Harley and a girl they've never seen before amble into the garden and set a gift bag down in the first wicker chair inside the gate.
As the new arrivals approach the newlyweds to pay their respects, a few sotto voce comments are heard among the crowd. "Oh look, Harley owns black pants!" "Who's that girl with Harley?" "She's cute, but hardly dressed appropriately for a cocktail wedding . . ." "No worse than he's dressed!" "Well, that's true enough."
The arrival of these latest guests is Luna's signal to disappear. She walks seductively toward the gate, stopping to bend and pick up her flute off a chair. Ranger's eyes follow her, unblinking, paying particular attention to her dainty backside.
Keeli waves at the new arrivals, her brief fright nearly forgotten in Remi's comforting presence.
The DJ slaps Marlow so hard that the CRACK would have been heard by the entire crowd had the music not drowned out the sound. Marlow staggers backward, falling into a startled Dani.
As befits their status as a newlywed couple, Yutaka and Maile are totally oblivious to the party around them.
"Well, you really went and did it, didn't you, Ranger-man? Got yerself a ball 'n chain, eh?"
"Hello, Star. I'm Etsuko and I am very pleased to meet you. Have you known Harley-san long?"
Marlow switches off his embarrassment at the sight of potential new prey. "Ah, lovely maiden. A thousand apologies for my clumsiness! Are you all right?"
Luna picks up her flute and slips out the front gate. Ranger belatedly turns his attention to Harley.
If he could see the look on Luna's face as she quietly exits the party, it might give Ranger pause, but as the fall of silver hair recedes, he turns back to his bride, the odd woman forgotten.
Marlow senses that this naive young woman will be easy prey if he plays the seduction right. Intense, relentless. Give her no opportunity to resist. Go in for the kill. No prisoners.
He grabs her hand, immediately asserting his dominance.
His method honed by years of predatory experience, he pins her with his piercing eyes, drawing her to him, brooking no resistance.
Spencer's attention wanders from Stephen's clumsy attempt to propose. She looks up at Marlow, thinking Now that's a man I wouldn't kick out of bed for eating crackers!
"Hello, you must be Tee. Congratulations on your engagement! I'm Star."
"Hey, man! I hear you're about to join the club these guys just signed up for!"
Eventually the patio is cleared so the dancing can begin. The DJ, unflustered by the unwelcome attentions of the man in the purple scarf so successfully put in his place, ramps up the tunes. Marlow pulls the unworldly Dani tightly into his arms and leans back slightly so she can't miss the hard bulge of his crotch pushing insistently against her.
Akemi's whisper is hoarse with desire. "I would like to take you right here, right now, against this wall."
Curly and Tee barely move as they sway together in the corner.
Colleen and Peter dance slowly, focused on not spilling their champagne.
Yutaka and Maile sway together in the garden, completely absorbed in one another and their own little world.
Ranger, however, has less romantic ideas.
As the dancing continues, Marlow works his hand inside Dani's jacket and checks out the fastenings on her dress.
He grabs her buttocks and pulls her even closer, his libido raging after his two previous failed attempts to pursue prey and the unfortunate departure of his date.
Akemi and Piper are completely absorbed in one another, the flood of hormones blocking off awareness of everything but each other and their urgent need to couple.
Marlow pins Dani to the wall and whispers tried and true seduction lines non-stop into her ear as he relieves her of her jacket. She is young; she is too desperate to have a boyfriend; she is too inexperienced to recognize Marlow's insincerity. She is the perfect prey.
Working his seductive charm, he has her dress nearly unfastened without her awareness.
Certain that everyone else at the wedding is so wrapped up with his or her own partner that they won't notice, Marlow backs Dani against the wall, and without giving her a chance to protest, slips his had inside under her dress, and a finger inside her, delighted to find her not wearing panties.
"OH!" she gasps, as his skilled fingers begin their practiced dance.
Certain that he has this conquest firmly in his clutches, he whispers hoarsely, "Come!" and drags her by the hand into the unfamiliar house. He pulls her stumbling through the condo, opening and shutting doors, until he locates the room he seeks. He yanks her inside, tosses her down onto the bed, shuts the door, and unfastens his pants.
As he thrusts himself inside her, grabbing and lifting her buttocks to meet him, she clutches the bedspread and struggles not to cry out. Deep inside she knows this is not how it's supposed to be, but deep inside is where he is, and he is relentless.
He does not take his eyes from hers, knowing from experience that uninterrupted eye contact allows him to exert almost supernatural control over impressionable young women.
Only when his release comes does he let the spell dissipate, looking away from her face. He shudders violently as all movement stops, then after a long moment he pulls out of her and stands.
Pulling up and fastening his pants, he pulls her to her feet, her dress still unfastened and falling off one shoulder, a sticky trail running down her legs.
"You are mine now. You will be available whenever I want you, for as long as I want you. You are mine. Understand?"
He slips her jacket onto her arms, dress still unfastened, making the point that he owns her and can do with her what he wants.
She attempts to turn away in shame, but he will not allow it.
He turns her to face the door, grabs her left hand in his, grasps her right elbow, and walks her out of the bedroom and out the condo's front door.
In the garden, Ranger is back for seconds.
The gifts are stacked neatly, awaiting their opening later that evening.
An announcement is made and all of the single women gather eagerly on the patio for the tossing of the bouquets. Colleen purposely positions herself in the back corner, having no desire to be married at this point in her life, and her sister Coco likewise fades into the background. Some of the other girls jockey for position, however, anxious to be the one to make the catch.
Mark takes the opportunity to greet his brother.
Maile and and Etsuko look at one another and share a smile. "Ready . . . set . . . ."
The bouquets sail tantalizingly through the air.
Maile and Etsuko turn to see the results.
OMG, not HER!
"Give that to me! It's MINE! It was coming right for me and you snatched it out of my hands!"
"Harmony! Behave yourself!"
Marlow chooses a dark and lonely path back to the apartment Dani shares with her friend, Jerri. She tries to twist away as he pulls her along by the hand, but he yanks her roughly into his embrace, pulls down her still-unfastened dress, and clamps his hand around her right breast, forestalling any further attempts on her part to escape his grasp.
Once in Jerri's basement apartment, Marlow quickly surveys his surroundings.
Aroused and not wanting to postpone his enjoyment on behalf of "niceties", he quickly pulls her to him in a lover's embrace.
He strips off her jacket once again, this time with such deceptive tenderness and soft, murmured endearments that Dani begins to relax slightly.
Just as she begins to let down her guard and enjoy this experience with the man she believes to be her new boyfriend, Marlow pushes her back onto the kitchen table, slipping his hand under her dress to invade her once again.
Again, no foreplay. Marlow grabs her buttocks and lifts, impaling her repeatedly as tears slide unnoticed from the corners of her eyes to soak her hair.
A Sad End to an Otherwise Happy Tale.
Oh, but there's an epilogue!