Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 12.2

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter twelve, part two

Jessica won her place at Oxford and moved in with us. We had agreed with her parents that, in view of the status of their relationship, there was no need for us to make futile efforts to make them sleep separately. We had their two apartments joined into one reasonably-sized affair with two bedrooms. That left them to choose on a night-by-night basis whether to sleep together or separately. Whether they chose to tell us of their arrangement was up to them. We never asked.

David studied business management and international politics, while Jess majored in psychology, with additional studies in linguistics. Our holiday pattern continued while they were at university: both families spent Easter and Thanksgiving in Hawaii, and three weeks of the long summer break and Christmas in Knight Towers. For the rest of the summer break, the kids were free to follow their own desires. During their three years at Oxford, they spent holidays volunteering for UK-based overseas charities. They both taught English to schoolchildren in the Philippines, they carried out conservation work with wildlife in Madagascar and they worked with migrants and refugees in Italy. The combined result of these placements, together with voluntary work they carried out more locally, was to produce a pair of well-rounded, mature, thoughtful but high-achieving adults. Of course, Jessica’s parents came over for their graduation, after which both families took a two-week wildlife-watching cruise in the Galapagos archipelago to give the youngsters a chance to unwind. It was also something both families had long ago placed on their respective ‘bucket lists’. This was the first opportunity that Jason and Noelani had enjoyed to see David and Jess totally relaxed and doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company. As far as we parents were concerned, that holiday sealed the deal. Those two had to marry; they were so close and so well suited.

Knowing that it would be some months before the six of us would be together again, I decided to air over dinner the question that was on all our minds.

“So, Jess,” I started. “What plans for the immediate future?”

“Do you mean before or after I marry this rather wonderful son of yours?” she asked, answering my unspoken question.

“Let’s say before,” I suggested hesitantly.

“Don’t think there’ll be much time for anything before that.” A broad grin spread across David’s face as he looked at Jess, his cheeks glowing and his unblinking eyes fixed on hers.

“Perhaps that’s what we should be talking about, then,” Noelani said.

“I’m with Nell,” Sophie added, “let’s get down to specifics.”

“We have it all worked out, Sophie,” Jess said, “We were just trying to find the right time to talk to you all about it.”

“Now sounds good,” Jason said, to which we all agreed.

God, but these kids can be practical sometimes.

David started the ball rolling. “First off, we want to have a quiet, low-key civil wedding in England, then we start the process of getting Jess off the student visa and onto ILR – Indefinite Leave to Remain. Once we have that, she can apply for a British passport.”

“Will that mean giving up her American passport?” Noelani asked.

“Heavens, no,” David replied. “Dual citizenship is okay by UK and US law. Once we have that, we plan to go to Hawaii for a full, traditional Maui wedding with all the trimmings. Then we’ll set in motion my petition for an American passport.”

“Sounds like you’ve thought it all through,” Jason said.

“Oh yes; we certainly have.”

“But where do you intend to live, and what work will you do?”

“That’s what we need to talk about. I want to get into Dad’s business, so I’ll be ready to take over when he’s too fragile and frail to keep up with it—”

“Oy!” I complained, laughing so much that no-one took it seriously.

“But I want to continue my studies to a Masters and maybe even a PhD. I want to look at the psychological effects of the evolution of languages,” Jess added.

“Where do you need to be to do that?” I asked.

“Anywhere I can get a decent connection. It’ll be research-based and conducted mostly online. I can also, wherever I am, teach English to non-native speakers.”

“Even in England or America?”

“Duh! Refugees? Migrants? These days there’s plenty of scope for that. It also gives the chance to work with speakers of other languages, which will dovetail nicely into my studies.”

“Right,” Noelani said, “let’s get down to specifics and do some serious planning.”

Our end of the arrangement was easy. In fact, there was nothing for us to do. David and Jess had already, unbeknown to us, spoken with the local registrar. Knight Towers was already authorised for weddings; there hadn’t been one since Sophie’s and mine two decades earlier, but the licence was still valid. David knew this and wanted their UK marriage to take place there. Family and close friends only, they had insisted.

Noelani had been beaming throughout the discussion. She was, as we had found earlier, a most accomplished event organiser and caterer, and the opportunity to put on a traditional, no-holds-barred Maui wedding was something she had dreamed of for ages. To be able to plan and arrange it for her own daughter was, in every conceivable regard, the icing on the cake. That part of the planning involved Jess and her mother only. The rest of us had to satisfy ourselves with fill-time activities like swimming and scuba-diving in the crystal-clear waters around the islands, relaxing on empty beaches and generally being as chilled as any of us had ever been. Sadly, after only two days, it was time to leave the cruise and return to civilisation. We had one month to prepare for the UK wedding. Two weeks after that was the Hawaiian affair. Our job was easy. It was Noelani we felt sorry for, although her level of excitement and the number and rate of the phone calls and emails suggested that she was a long way from feeling sorry for herself.

The first wedding, the civil ceremony under English law, took place in the Great Hall of Knight Towers. Sophie used the same decorators, caterers and event organisers as she had used for our wedding, and I was delighted, and more than a little relieved, to see that they were all as good as they had been two decades earlier. She had even asked me to arrange for Joe Green to act as celebrant.

It was a significantly smaller affair than ours had been. Apart from immediate family, David and Jess had invited a small number of their closest classmates from Oxford, who knew that they were representing the larger circles of loyal friends that they both enjoyed. The brief ceremony was professionally recorded on digital video, and an approved edit was released to a closed group on social media for the benefit of those who couldn’t attend.

The kids flew to Hawaii just a couple of days after the ceremony. We followed two weeks later.

The arrangements were as detailed and as immaculate as I expected from Noelani. The actual ceremony was restricted by permit to a total of forty people, including the couple, the photographer and the celebrants. The beach was specially prepared according to the ancient traditions of the island and the ceremony itself was as near authentic as it was possible to make it: the exchange of Leis, the Pu and Blessing Chant, the anointing with Holy Oil, the binding of the hands during the vows, the blessed Keepsake Ties, the Niu Cups, the Ho’okupu Offering and the sacred nectar exchange; everything was as it has been practised for millennia – and nothing was missed. Once again, the whole affair was videographed and, as with the function at Knight Towers, an agreed edit was released to a closed group on social media.

After the ceremony, we made our way to a marquee that had been raised in the grounds of the Reeves’ home, for a feast prepared according to island traditions and attended by more than one hundred people. By the time that was over, we were in no doubt that David and Jess were well and truly married!


Next week we begin the final part of the Hannice Knight trilogy: Knight after Knight