The UK Immigration authorities will do everything they can to prevent Tommy's Russian cousin from marrying a British citizen. Tommy is asked to help the wedding go ahead.
Author Notes: This story, like many of my others, is based upon products by Big Busts in the fictional town on the south coast of England, Seacombe. If you're not familiar with their products, you can click on a pamphlet at the appropriate point in the text. Use the Back button to return to the story.
My Russian Wedding
by Charlotte Dickles
"You must be a relative of Tomochka Petrov," the smartly dressed woman said to me, as I waited in the taxi queue outside Seacombe station.
I smiled at her. "I'm her cousin, Tommy Peters. Presumably you're on your way to The Grand Hotel as well, for the wedding. Do you want to share a taxi?"
"Sounds a good idea. I'm Deborah Geeson-Jones, Tomochka's solicitor."
"You mean, you were the person employed to sort out the immigration people? Sounds like it's been hell."
"It's always hell with immigration, especially at the moment with Russian citizens. Compared with Immigration, the police are total gentlemen. The problem is, you fix one problem and then they invent another. That’s really why I've come to the wedding, just in case. Are you a British resident?"
"Second generation," I said. "My grandparents came over from Russia immediately after the war, they anglicised the name and the family's been here ever since."
"Wise move," she said. "Have you met Tomochka before?"
"We had a big family get-together as soon as the family visited England," I said. "Before that, we'd only exchanged cards and letters. But she's a lovely woman. I'm not surprised that Grant fell in love with her."
The taxi arrived just then and we got in and she directed him to The Grand with a familiarity that indicated she was no stranger to the place. Meanwhile, I thought about Tomochka. When I'd said she was lovely, I was talking about her character. To be honest, she had a rather plain, square set face, not unlike mine, which is probably why Deborah D-J had recognised me as family. But what totally transformed her was her curvaceous figure, the kind that dreams are made of – mine anyway. I'd totally fallen for her, but of course, Tomochka had been immediately surrounded by blokes who admired exactly the same attributes in a woman as me, but had a lot more pulling power. I hadn't got a look in, but then, that's the story of my life.
"Tomochka was lucky to find you," I said as the taxi made its way to the hotel. "I hear you worked miracles."
She grimaced. "The problem is that it's not over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, the vicar announces them man and wife."
Tomochka had enrolled on an English-speaking course and her close family had accompanied her to England for a short holiday, which is when I'd first met everyone. Then, her family went home, leaving Tomochka to do the course, and it was in those six months that she met Grant Newton, who was not only considerable older than her, but apparently stinking rich. He'd asked her to marry him and she'd accepted.
In the way they do, the Immigration Service had decided that she only wanted to marry him in order to get residence in the UK. I'd never admit to it, but I thought they were probably right, but then, I'm not one of those who obsessively think that foreigners should not be allowed this side of Dover. Also she was family, so I'd have done anything to help her stay. And maybe, I always had a hope that she would see what a fantastic guy I was and… No, I know that's stupid, but we can all dream.
Deborah nodded out the window. "Taxi's arrived at the hotel now. Enjoy the celebrations tonight."
"Will you be there?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I need to keep a clear head for the next eighteen hours. I'll celebrate then."
It was a big family gathering of Russians, and Russians know how to celebrate. The evening started with early drinks in the hotel bar, waiting for everyone to turn up. Eventually, there was a message from Tomochka and Grant that they'd had to stay behind to sort something out and they would catch us up. So we went out to a nearby pub where the drinks were one-quarter of hotel prices, and drank some more. Then we went to a restaurant and had a great meal, and were just about on the way to another pub to start drinking seriously, when a waiter came over and asked for me by name. It was a telephone call.
"Tommy? It is Tomochka." She sounded very upset. "Do not tell anyone else. Maybe we have to cancel wedding. Can you come to hotel to help us?"
It took just a few minutes to make my departure and walk back to the hotel. I went up to Grant’s room, as instructed.
“Tommy, come in,” Deborah said. “As I suspected earlier, Immigration have thrown another spanner in the works. After that incident with nerve gas, which may or may not be Russian, they're using any excuse to make things difficult for Russian citizens. So they’ve told us to delay the wedding. If we attempt to go ahead with it, they’ve said, they will take Tomochka to an immigration centre to face questioning about her involvement in the terrorist incident. They may even have a police officer present in case of difficulties, for example if there was violence.”
“Can they do that?” Tommy asked.
“They can get away with almost anything,” Deborah said. “I’m assuming they’ll be waiting outside the church and if Tomochka turns up, they’ll take her off somewhere and question her.”
“Tommy,” Tomochka said, “Deborah thinks you may help us.”
“I’ll do anything I can,” I said, “but I really don’t see what I can do.”
“We need a decoy,” Deborah said. ”Someone who can appear at the church wearing Tomochka’s bridal gown – for which they’ll need to have a very narrow waist – with sufficient likeness to fool them into taking her into custody. Then, Tomochka can slip into church and the service will proceed.”
I nodded. “Seems a good idea,” I said, “but will you find someone who’s a good enough match?” As I’ve mentioned, Tomochka had this incredibly curvaceous figure, but had our family's plain and rather square face. Our family were not renowned for their slight figures, so the need for a narrow waist ruled out practically everyone. I quickly thought through the family members and immediately wrote them all off. There was no one suitable, and Immigration were hardly going to arrest someone who was nothing like.
“We have thought of someone in the family,” Deborah said. “The question is whether they’ll agree to go ahead with it.”
“If they’re in the family, then they’re honour bound to help,” I said, “but I simply can’t think of...”
“It is you, Tommy,” Tomochka said.
“Me!” I was gobsmacked. “We may be about the same height and our faces may be similar...”
“Almost identical,” Deborah said.
“...but I’m a skinny runt with none of Tomochka’s curves, my hair is nothing like and... My God, you want to pad me out and do my hair and... things?”
“You are our one hope, Tommy,” Tomochka said “It is much to ask, but Grant and I need you.”
“But do you really think it will work?” I asked. “Grant? You’re a third party. What do you say?”
Grant looked at me and said, “I have to say I’m cynical. Your face is a good match but transforming you into a woman with Tomochka’s curves is beyond credibility. Tomochka has told me a little about the wedding dress, and you’re going to need more than some socks stuffed into a bra.”
“But you not listen to Deborah,” Tomochka said. “She know company here who make men look like women. “
“Well, the proof is in the pudding,” Grant said. “If Tommy is game enough to go ahead, then we have nothing to lose. Let’s do it.”
“Hang on,” I said. “You say I have nothing to lose but I’m masquerading as someone else when I’m arrested. They’ll charge me with something, surely?” I looked at Deborah.
“My plan is that you deny being Tomochka. I’m not certain how your voice will sound but at the minimum, you’ll shake your head when they ask if you are her. Keep shaking it as though in terror. I’ll be close by and I’ll advise you to say nothing, not even admit your name. I will agree, on your behalf, to be taken in for questioning, in order that you’re not arrested, which has its own consequences. By the time I get to wherever they’ve taken you, I’ll have a copy of the wedding certificate with me. Neat, eh?”
It certainly sounded all right, put like that, but I had an instinctive mistrust of solicitors. "You say there are consequences of being arrested?"
"You'd be fingerprinted and a DNA sample taken, and no one wants those things on record. But you can't go to prison for remaining silent. You are a British citizen so a lot of the tricks they'd try if you were Russian are denied to them."
"It's not going to be very comfortable, detained in some Immigration Centre," I said.
"It will only be for an hour, or so, and the result is that these two lovely people will be married."
"Tommy, I will be very grateful," Tomochka said. She accompanied her words with an action which threw everything upside down. She winked at me.
Not one of those obvious winks that everyone could see and treat as a little joke, but a very tiny wink using the eye that no one else could see. It was a wink that said, "Sex, Tommy, Sex."
"Hmm," I muttered, trying to hide the feelings racing through me. No normal bride would promise that on the day before her wedding, so the marriage really was one of convenience, designed to flout the UK immigration regulations. To be honest, that bothered me not one jot. Maybe Cleopatra gave a similar wink to Anthony, and the future of two nations had been altered by a wink. Certainly, it made my decision a no-brainer. "I will do whatever I can to help," I said.
"Wonderful, Tommy," Tomochka said, and she leapt up and kissed me on both cheeks, managing to press her luscious body against me in a most agreeable way.
"Right," Deborah said. "In that case, we need to take action quickly. First of all, swap phones with each other now, and turn them off, as Immigration may be tracking yours, Tomochka. Tommy, I need you to go to the transformation company called Big Busts. They're a ten minute walk from here, and they'll be expecting you. Agree with everything they suggest. The bill will all be taken care of.
"In the meantime, Tomochka and Grant will go to join the others for a drink. Tomochka will stay for just one drink and then I will take her on to a different hotel, where she will stay the night, so there's absolutely no chance of anyone seeing the two of you together. Big Busts will telephone me when they've finished with you, Tommy, and I will come and collect you, and bring you back here where you will sleep in Tomochka's room.
"Tomorrow, Tommy, your bridesmaids will visit you to dress you for your wedding. I will brief them a little beforehand about our operation, and Tomochka, you will leave the hotel and buy a smart suit and then be near the church as the time approaches. You should turn on Tommy's phone tomorrow morning, Tomochka, so we can liaise with each other. Is that all clear?"
Those last four words were said in a way that said we all needed to get on with things, regardless, as time was pressing. I nodded.
"Good," she said.
As I left the hotel, I realised how crazy I had been to agree to the plan. It was, of course, the promise from Tomochka which had swayed me, but which actually was no promise at all. Of course she would be grateful; she'd buy me a bottle of good wine. But we all clutch at straws, and that's what I was doing.
Of course, there was another part of me which was totally thrilled at the whole idea. There had been times when I was younger when I may have touched my mother's panties and bras, and just wondered what it would be like to wear them, and maybe once or twice I had slipped them on but that was all a long time ago. Now, I was going to be padded out into that wonderful figure of Tomochka, dressed in a bridal gown and taken to the church. Who could resist that, even if I did end up in prison at the end?
When I arrived at Big Busts, there was a Closed sign on the door, and the shop had every appearance of being so. But as I walked up to the door, it opened and a voice said, "Hello, you must be Tommy. Come in."
She told me her name was Joyce, and took me upstairs and into a treatment room, where a woman called Sally joined us. They were both women of an age and friendliness that they might have been my aunts.
"Deborah has told us what we need to do to you," Sally said. "She's supplied us with Tomochka's measurements and plenty of photographs."
"There's no chance of this working, is there?" I asked. "She and I are completely different."
"Actually, you're both very similar," Joyce said, staring at the photos on her computer. "OK, Tomochka has large boobs and hips but we can easily sort those. What's important is that your face and body structures are very similar. Clearly, your hair will require the most work to get right, but we have a hairdresser coming in a bit later to sort that out. So let's get moving straight away. We're going to leave you for a few minutes. Could you remove all your clothes and put on this dressing gown. You might like to look at this pamphlet whilst you're waiting for us to return with some products we'll get you to try on. OK?" They both smiled.
"Can we bring you back a tea or coffee," Sally asked. "Or something a little stronger which will help you relax."
"A beer would be nice," I said.
Sally smirked. "It might be nice but I understand you have to squeeze into a wedding dress tomorrow morning. I could bring you a glass of wine, or perhaps even a gin and Slimline?"
It was after midnight when Deborah came to pick me up. Sally and Joyce had been right. Fitting me into their wonderful products had been easy; it had been lengthening my hair which had taken most of the time. They had decided that Tomochka's hips and thighs were so voluptuous compared with her narrow waist, that I needed a combination of a Torsolet, to pull in my waist, and Hiplet to pad out my thighs. They showed me the products in their pamphlet before getting them and then fitting me into them. Then I spent hours in their hairdressing salon, having my hair lengthened and blonded. I'd also spent some time in being coached in the ways to move, to walk and sit down, get in and out of cars, and so on. And I'd been given some voice-changer liquid which had seemed to burn out my throat at the time, but now gave me a much squeakier voice.
"Wow!" Deborah said. "You look fantastic."
I had to agree with her as I stared in the mirror, and the voluptuous Tomochka stared back at me.
"Is this really going to work?" I asked Deborah.
"I'm never one to forecast outcomes," she replied, "but with you looking like that, it stands a hell of a chance."
We left Big Busts and walked back to the hotel. When we arrived, we could hear the family party making lots of noise in the bar, so we headed straight for the lift.
"Tomochka," someone called, right behind me.
I froze initially and then turned; it was my revolting cousin Ivan.
"A last kiss before you’re married," Ivan said.
Before I could stop him, he'd planted his lips across mine and had me in a bear hug. For a few seconds, I hopelessly struggled to escape, but then I succumbed.
"Ivan, leave something for me," Grant's voice cut through with quite a little bitterness.
Ivan released me and Grant looked at me and I could see him wondering. Was this Tomochka or was it really Tommy pretending to be her? I smiled at him and he realised. He smiled.
"You look fantastic," he said.
"Big day tomorrow," Deborah said. "I think we should all get to our respective beds.”
As Deborah and I ascended in the lift, she handed me a room card and said, “Your room number is 120. Tomochka says she’s left out some pyjamas on the bed for you to wear."
It was as we split up with those parting words that the reality of what I had done hit me in the face. In the space of a few hours, I had committed to changing my gender, to spending the night as a woman, to dressing for my wedding and then getting arrested and thrown into some detention centre.
Logic said I should be in a blind funk; in fact I had an exhilaration running through my bones as never before; I felt alive as though now I was as I always should have been; I felt good in myself.
Room 120 was fabulous. Overall, about ten times bigger than the room I’d booked into this afternoon: a separate lounge and bedroom with a huge bed with wonderful drapes surrounding it. There were walk-in wardrobes and a long dressing table. Doors led out onto a balcony overlooking the sea and I could hear the waves breaking on the beach below. It was a room I could swoon around in all night, trying on different clothes and watching myself in the many mirrors surrounding me. Instead, I knew I had to get some sleep. I had a challenging day ahead.
When Deborah had said Tomochka had left out some pyjamas for me, I'd imagined striped winceyette, but the filmy creation lying there had more relation to heaven than to winceyette. I tentatively held it up and it floated down to reveal a kind of Arabian Nights creation. A piece of paper fell out. I picked it up and read the words.
‘Dear Tommy. I owe you. Wear this tonight and next I wear it for you. xxx’
Surely that meant what I thought it meant; that Tomochka’s wink had been more than a blink; that she was going to honour her promise after she was married.
I slipped out of the clothes which Big Busts had given me, a plain track suit over bra and knickers, and stared at my naked reflection. A surge of happiness shot through me, I felt so completely right in myself. As I stared at my body, no one could imagine I was not a real woman. The skin of the Torsolet and Hiplet were not totally uniform, as a plastic normally is, but had a skin-like variation, with minor blemishes here and there. The joins with my own skin, at neck, shoulders and knees had been blended in, and they looked nothing more than the kind of creases you get in skin. The Sensotouch meant that, as I ran my hands over curves, it was though I was running them over my own skin. My large boobs bounced and wobbled with every movement, and between my legs, the slit of my pussy led to the ultimate prize.
I again looked at my beautiful pyjamas and picked up the harem trousers and slipped my legs into the silky material. As I pulled them up my legs, I realised they were harem trousers in the real meaning of the word; two independent legs which fitted over the waistband, where they could be drawn together like curtains or pulled wide open. Either way, they would provide no barrier to a rampant prick!
The top was a full length gown with long wide sleeves attached to the gown along their length. I slipped into it and tied the front together, beneath my bust. As I moved around the room, the material was so light it floated out behind me, and if I spread my arms, they turned into wings, as though I were an angel.
I’m not certain how long I simply walked around, wondering if I had gone to heaven. Whatever tomorrow might bring, it had all been made worth it by those last few minutes.
I slipped into bed, and my eyes immediately closed.
I woke early next morning and I spent lots of time dancing around my room and balcony, my arms outstretched, feeling like the angel in heaven, until I noticed a couple of males tidying the beach who were having a good gawp up at me. I gave them a cheery wave before retiring back to my room.
That made me wonder just who I had become. Tommy Peters would have been incredibly embarrassed at being caught giving such a display, and felt like a fool for most of the day, concerned in case he met one of those men. But she was someone else. She didn't get embarrassed by men gawping her stupendous body, because that is what nature decreed.
A knock at the door and the room maid was bringing in breakfast: fruit salad and orange juice, along with the morning paper, which I placed straight into the bin. I really did not want to be introduced into demonised hate news when I was feeling so good on such a wonderful day.
At half-past eight, my bridesmaids, Anya and Evva, came to my room. They were from the Russian part of my family, and had bodies typical of much of our family, in other words, they were built like brick shithouses! Deborah had briefed them on my position. That's to say, she'd told them that I was substituting for Tomochka until the wedding, but not told them my gender. I think she'd also told them to ask no questions about the whole affair, for they seemed remarkably incurious.
There was a hairdresser arriving at nine and a beautician at eleven. In the meantime, they had lots of things to do with me, including dressing me in my oh-so-sexy lingerie.
The morning simply flew by, with people coming and going and pampering me in between. The beautician spent ages on my face and then turned my grubby unkempt nails into inch-long, delicate pink talons, and by midday, I felt pleasantly exhausted. That's when Evva showed me the shoes.
"Oh my God!" I said. There was hardly any structure to the sexiest shoes I had ever seen. An S-curved sole with a tall, spiky heel, and a few straps, all in the most delightful shade of pink. "I can never wear that. It's got heels and it won't even be the right size."
"You wear," Evva said, holding the shoe next to my foot. "Almost right size. We make it fit." She pushed me so I fell back on the bed, but held onto my foot, so she could force my toes into the straps, and then she managed to do up the buckle on the end hole. "Next foot," she said, dropping my one foot to the floor and reaching down and grabbing the other, and forcing it around the other shoe in the same way. "Now stand."
I tentatively put both feet firmly on the floor, and could feel their impossible height. "No way," I said.
"Yes, you stand," Evva said, and they both grabbed me unceremoniously from either side and forced me to my feet.
"Ouch! That's painful," I said, as my weight settled in them. "I can never walk in these."
"Yes. You walk," Anya said, and they started to frogmarch me up and down, bellowing out instructions as to how to put my weight on the heel, thrust out my breasts, take tiny steps, put one foot in front of the other, and so on. After a while, they could let go of me and I tottered around on my own until my legs and ankles were aching.
"There. You do it," Evva said. "We break for lunch now. You can take off shoes."
That surprised me, but I reckoned they realised I needed the break if my feet weren't going to fall off during the wedding ceremony.
We had a break and the hotel brought in some food: sausage, chips and beans for them and a small salad for me. Conversation was difficult and restricted to basics since they had very limited language skills, as did I in Russian. Finally, we cleared away all the food and the large box containing the bridal gown was opened.
We'd all had little peeks in it during the course of the morning, but nothing prepared me for the sheer beauty of it when we pulled it out of its box, still on the form which held it upright. It was in the lightest shade of pink imaginable, with a heart-shaped neck, little puffed up sleeves, a waistline which I knew I could never fit into, but was determined I would, and then at the hips, the skirts ballooned out like those of a fairy-tale princess. It was so wide at the base, I didn't even know how I was going to crawl into it or how I could move when I did.
"Shoes back on first," Anya said, "and then in to crinoline." She pointed it out in a separate part of the box, pulling out a large pale-pink disk and letting it unfold from her hands. Suddenly it was transformed from a disk into cone of wonderful ruched material. Then she let go of it all and let it fall to the floor, where it formed back into a disk.
I reluctantly put my feet into shoes and since I couldn't do up the buckles, Evva did them for me again.
"Step into centre of crinoline, then we pull it up around you," Evva said.
She tied the lace in a bow around my waist, and suddenly I was surrounded by the cone of lacy material, which followed me wherever I moved, separating me from everyone and everything else.
Meanwhile, Anya was releasing the laces at the rear of the dress bodice so I could fit into it. "Now, we lift the dress and lower it over your head," she explained.
So bulky were the skirts, it was fortunate there were two of them to lift it so I could manoeuvre myself into the bodice. It was a struggle, even though Anya had released the laces as far as she could, and it meant them manhandling my boobs, squeezing them up quite painfully (yes, the Sensotouch is very realistic) in order to force them through the narrow waist. Then they were pulling the dress down over the crinoline so it flared out for several feet all around. Or that's how it seemed, anyhow.
"Time to corset your waist," Evva said, and I turned my back on them to let them have their wicked way with me.
It's worth mentioning that the Torsolet I was wearing was already doing a wonderful job of reducing my man waist to a size that looked not far off Tomochka's. On the other hand, Tomochka had envisaged some corseting in order to get into her dress, which meant even more serious corseting for me.
"You do it," they kept saying, as they pulled the laces. "Breath out, we pull."
Tighter and tighter it became until I could go no further.
"We take rest for moment," Evva said. "We well over halfway."
"Halfway!" I said. "There's no way it can go any tighter."
"Tomochka, we fit you into this dress or you bust," Anya said. "Wait. I have idea."
She wondered over to the window and fiddled around with the curtains. "I think this will do," she said, holding up one of the thick curtain ties.
"What do you want that for?" I asked.
"Put your hands together," she ordered.
I did, and she wrapped the curtain tie around them, binding them together, and then tying them in a simple knot. "Walk to bedroom door," she told me, whilst Evva looked on with as much mystery as I was in.
"Keep walking," she said when my skirts were touching the door.
I did as she said, aided by a shove from behind until I was partway through the door between lounge and bedroom.
"Now lift your hands as far as they will go."
I realised she wanted me to lift them to hook my wrists over the top of the door, but I couldn't reach up that far.
"I'm not certain this is a good idea," I said but the two women grabbed me under the armpits and physically lifted me the few inches to hook me over the door. As they slowly released me, almost my whole weight was hanging through my arms, with only the extra height of my heels able to take any of my weight.
"Help! This really hurts," I yelled.
"Evva," Anya said. "Let us tighten those laces now."
"No! No! No!" I yelled. But the pain in my arms was being superseded by the pain in my rib cage as it was crushed. "No," I whispered.
"Yes!" they said, as they pulled the laces tighter and tighter, but there was a buzzing in my ears and it all seemed to fade into nothing.
"There, I knew you come to with water on face," Anya said.
I opened my eyes. They were standing looking down at me.
"Is OK," Evva said. "You faint. Stay there. Have rest. Then we get you up. Beautician come back to touch up makeup and we go to wedding."
"To my wedding! Is it time?" I asked.
"Cousin Ivan is knocking at door. Say you are late," Anya said. "But bride cannot be late for own wedding. Stand up, now?"
I nodded, and they all carefully helped me to my feet, stroking down my skirts before the beautician appeared to make certain I looked just perfect. Finally, I stood in front to the mirror as my veil was placed over my head. The crushing pain around my chest and stomach, and my screaming feet and ankles were all pushed to the back of my mind. I had a wedding to attend.
"OK," Evva called out, opening the door. "Time for bride to go."
Cousin Ivan was the perfect gentlemen as he led me down to the hotel reception, all trace of last night's stolen snog forgotten. Deborah was waiting in reception.
"Darling, Tomochka," she said. "You look absolutely beautiful." She came and gave me a kiss. "Is everything all right with you?" she whispered. "You look fantastic."
"So far so good," I muttered back. "Does Ivan know?"
She shook her head. "Not yet. I want completely natural reactions from everyone."
"What are you two muttering about?" Ivan asked.
"Girl talk," Deborah said.
It was a real crowd in the limousine, me with my huge dress, Ivan, Anya, Evva and Deborah who sat with the driver. In just a few minutes we were arriving at the church.
"Strange," Deborah muttered. "No sign of Immigration."
It took even longer to get me out of the car and straightened up than it had to fit me in, and I was far too busy doing that to actually worry about an Immigration Inspector. But then, suddenly, we were standing in line, ready to enter the church. Me with Ivan on my left arm, the two bridesmaids behind, holding my skirts off the ground. Now we had nothing else to do, I was suddenly terrified of being arrested.
"What are we waiting for?" Ivan asked. "Shall we go in?"
"Not yet," Deborah said. "Let me go inside and check."
"This is stupid," Ivan said. "Don't worry," he added to me. "It will all go perfectly.”
"What's holding us up?" he called to Deborah as she came out, giving a little shake of her head at me.
Presumably that meant no Immigration officials around to stop the wedding. Deborah was on her phone, clearly with no response. She rang the number again.
Just then, another phone started ringing and Anya riffled through her handbag to pull one out. "Is your phone, Tomochka," she said, handing it to me.
Of course, it wasn't mine but Tomochka's and it took me a second or two to fumble with the unfamiliar controls.
"Let me," Deborah hissed, snatching it out of my hands. "Yes? Hi. There's no sign of you know who so we're ready for you. Where are you? WHAT!"
She looked at me, despair on her face and then said, "Stay here," and darted inside the church.
"What the hell is going on?" Ivan asked.
I shrugged. I hadn't a clue, either.
A minute later, Deborah came out of the church and walked straight over to me. "Tomochka," she said. "You're going to have to go through with the wedding."
"What?" I said.
"Of course, she's going through with it," Ivan said.
"But I can't," I said.
"Yes, you can," Deborah said. She stared at Ivan. "Time to walk the walk."
"Yes but…" I had no choice. Ivan was walking and I had no choice but to totter beside him, into the church and down the aisle, as the Bridal March commenced playing.
Everyone turned to look at me and smile as I walked down the aisle. At the very end was Grant, and he was looking as confused as me, but he mouthed at me: "It's all right." He gave a little smile and suddenly I knew I could go through with it. Whatever had delayed Tomochka meant that I simply had to stand in for her. Assuming she didn't arrive halfway through the ceremony and expose us all as fakes, I would come away with a marriage licence in her name, which we could hand to her and I could walk away.
As I arrived at the altar, I relaxed and smiled at Grant, and he smiled back.
I suppose I should have remembered some details of the wedding service but it was all just a blur. I'd been to several weddings before so none of it was new, but it's all rather different when you're the main player in the drama.
Whatever, it all went fine until Grant lifted the veil in order to kiss me. As he planted his lips on mine, I saw his eyes widen in surprise, and then stare wildly into my eyes. Clearly, he was as surprised to find me there as I was.
"What's happened?" he mouthed, as we separated from the kiss.
I kind of shrugged with my eyes, which is about the only movement I could make.
Outside, there was the whole rigmarole of wedding photographs. Stand here, stand there, now can we have the parents, and so on, and so on.
It must have been half an hour before the pair of us could get back into the limousine. Deborah scuttled in after us.
"What the hell is going on?" Grant asked. "I have just married the wrong woman."
"I can explain," Deborah said. "Tomochka was walking to the church and she almost came face to face with the Immigration Inspector. She dashed into a dress shop and he followed her to the door, but didn't enter. Apparently, it became a kind of stand-off. He realised she couldn't get to the church without passing him and was content to stand outside and bar her way."
"But we have just taken part in a fraudulent wedding ceremony," Grant said.
"Oh did you?" Deborah said, trying to sound surprised. "I told Tommy to go inside and tell everyone it would have to be delayed."
"No you didn't." I protested. "You told me to go through with it."
"Well, it doesn't really matter," she said. "We're here, now."
"Where?" We both looked around. We were stopped in a shopping street.
"Close enough to wave at the Inspector," Deborah said. "Give him a wave when I point you out." She got out of the car and walked briskly along the road.
"Jesus!" Grant said. "We could go to prison for this."
"But when I came into the church," I said, "you turned around to look at me and tell me it was all right. You knew it was me who’d be wearing the bridal gown, rather than Tomochka."
"Because bloody Deborah told me there was a change of plan, that Tomochka was now wearing the gown and we'd be married as planned. But you needed reassurance, so I was to mouth to you that you'd be all right. That woman has really stitched us up."
"Look," I said. "She's talking to the Inspector."
"Not only that," Grant said. "She's showing him our marriage licence."
That's when the Inspector looked along the road in response to Deborah's pointing arm. When he caught sight of us, we both waved and his face turned to rage. At that distance, it was impossible to make out his words, but there appeared to be a number of four-letter ones.
"Drive on," Grant said. "Deborah can make her own way back to The Grand. Presumably, she'll meet up with the real Tomochka and put her into hiding, again, whilst you and I celebrate our wedding."
"But if Deborah works for you," I said, "why don't you refuse to pay her."
"She doesn't work for me," Grant said. "Deborah works for Tomochka, or her family, anyway.
"That's to say," he added. "Your family. Russian oligarchs."
"My family! They're nothing to do with me except for a blood relationship."
"Clearly, blood is no thicker than water, since you've been set up as surely as I have. OK, I'll accept I went into it with my eyes open. A tidy sum of money for marrying a sex bomb like Tomochka. We'd live as man and wife for long enough for me to satiate my desire for wild sex and for her to get Immigration off her tail and then separate."
"So what do we do now?" I asked.
"We go and enjoy the wedding feast," he said. "Afterwards, we do what married couples always do after the wedding feast."
"I don't think so," I said.
"We have to make this look realistic, otherwise people are going to start smelling a rat, and neither of us can afford that. I was watching you last night at our meeting, I watched you snogging Ivan when you returned to the hotel, just as I watched your wonderful dancing display on your balcony this morning. Tell me honestly. Are you really not enjoying your experience as a woman? If so, then you must surely be fascinated to know what it would be like to have sex as a woman."
I thought. "Erm… well, I'm not certain. Gerroff, Grant, we're arriving at the hotel. People are staring."
"Then we must let them see what they would expect a newly-married couple to be doing." He wrapped his arms around me and kissed me like I've never been kissed before.
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