Nigel and Theresa, newly married, arrive at their honeymoon destination, Moosehurst Lodge. A gift from Theresa's controlling father, sending them to the fly-in resort where she grew up.
George and Martha, the lodge owners and as close as anyone could be to Theresa, are a little quirky. They drink too much. They cuss. And after a few they like to call each other names.
Nigel notices George has a hard time keeping his eyes off of Theresa. Finds out Martha has a hard time keeping her hands off anyone who isn't George.
Worst honeymoon ever? Not if George can help it.
But is Nigel man enough to let him?
Nigel felt his stomach creep back up into the spot it normally resided in his gut as the Cessna pulled up to the wooden dock on Lake Wanatee. He wiped his clammy palms on his pants legs, turned to look at Theresa and flashed a sheepish grin.
“You okay?” she asked, mouthing the words so the pilot didn’t hear over the headset.
Nigel nodded, let out a sigh and released the tension from his shoulders. Flying had never been his forte. Small planes didn’t help.
Despite his phobia the trip up had been glorious. A spectacular sea of red and orange, the colors turning brighter the further north they flew. Nigel was still a little stunned at being there at all.
Derek, his boss of five years and now father-in-law, had shocked them both in a dinner speech after their lavish wedding, which he’d bankrolled. Two weeks off from Nigel’s gruelling IT position at MedCare, an all expenses paid trip to Moosehurst Lodge, the executive resort where Derek held their corporate retreats and, finally, a direct flight from the city so they wouldn’t have to drive and take a tiny float plane from the nearest village.
It was an extravagance neither of them had expected. Not necessarily wanted, as had been the case with the wedding.
Theresa had wanted a small wedding since before they’d been engaged. Just a few friends and close family in a cozy rural setting.
Derek, when they broke the news that they were getting married, had laughed his big fat laugh and shook his head. Took his cell phone out and called Harrison, his house manager, and told him to start planning a five-hundred guest affair.
Theresa had fumed and fought and stomped her feet. Derek hadn’t cared. Nothing less than the best for his one and only baby girl.
Nigel had been surprised when, once the big day got closer, they’d told Derek about their honeymoon plans. A little cabin up north, a twelve hour drive away. Nothing but them and the wilderness. Just a four day weekend a week after the wedding day.
He’d smirked but said nothing.
Theresa’s face had turned bright red when her daddy made the announcement in front of all five hundred people that he was sending them to Moosehurst whether they liked it or not. Just another way her father insisted on controlling everything she did.
And he’d taken Nigel aside after dancing. Out for a manly cigar on the balcony of the sprawling banquet hall he’d rented for the occasion. After a few puffs he’d poked him in the centre of his chest with his thick finger and said “you’ve got one job up there, son.” The moniker was more dominating than affectionate. “You put a baby in that belly,” he’d said, staring straight into Nigel’s somewhat frightened eyes. Poked him two more times. “And do it with respect,” he’d growled.
So it was against that backdrop that Nigel found himself climbing out of the Cessna Caravan to the sound of waves lapping at the dock. Waiting as the pilot hauled their suitcases out. Turning toward the resort at the sound of a manly “hello!” rolling at them over the water.
A heavy-set but not entirely unfit man was lumbering down the stone steps leading to the water. Square-jawed, hair cut high and tight, he was wearing a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal his hairy forearms. Beneath that a pair of worn jeans and work boots. The whole deck shook as he stomped toward them, grinning.
Nigel looked sideways at Theresa to see that she was smiling, too.
The man, looking as much a man’s man as Nigel had ever seen, stomped right up to Theresa, wrapped his thick arms around her, lifted her off her feet and swung her around in a circle.
Theresa squealed like a little girl being greeted by her favorite uncle.
A vague sense of unease gripped Nigel as the man buried his face in his new wife’s neck and kissed it. And while he knew they knew each other well, he couldn’t suppress the cold finger of jealousy that scraped down his chest at seeing another man — that sort of bear of a man — handle his bride that way.
He set her down, pulled away and looked into her eyes, beaming. “Sweetheart,” he whispered, shaking his head then, to Nigel’s surprise, wiping at the misty corner of one eye with his finger. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there.”
Theresa tsked, tilted her head to one side and cooed. “Aw, uncle George, you’re so sweet.”
Uncle George cleared his throat into a fist and took a step away from Theresa. “You’d better cut it out with that uncle shit,” he growled. “I feel old enough as it is. It’s George from here on in.”
Theresa let out a girlish giggle and rolled her eyes. “Oh please,” she said softly. “You’re not old.”
“George,” George said in a playfully threatening growl.
Theresa giggled again. “George it is,” she said.
Nigel watched his beautiful bride like a hawk through this interaction and a shudder raced up his spine. It was absurd to think that George posed any threat. Theresa had told many stories about summers spent up at Moosehurst. Water skiing on the lake. Campfires and roasting marshmallows in the fire pit by the forest. Uncle George taking her out to the middle of the lake to fish. And while he wasn’t a real uncle, him and her father were close enough and Theresa had spent enough time up there that that’s what she’d come to call him. Ever since she was a little girl.
So obviously there was no threat. Obviously this was just Theresa falling back into her former self. Giggling and smiling at big uncle George the way young girls do to get a man’s attention.
But Nigel couldn’t but notice the coquettish look in her eyes, the way she posed so her best features were on full display. Couldn’t help but feel that there was something simmering beneath the surface. Something not quite innocent that had been bubbling for a long time before she’d even met her Nigel.
He was snapped from this strange and disconcerting reverie by George turning toward him and looking him square in the eye. “Where the hell are my manners?” George muttered. He opened up his bearlike paw cocked his arm back then brought it swinging toward Nigel just as he extended his.
George caught him in a grip that nearly knocked him back a step.
Nigel did his best not to wince as George squeezed his palm in his.
“George,” George said, eyeing him with slightly narrowed eyes.
“Nigel Davis,” Nigel said.
George pumped his hand three times, chin jutting as he nodded. He stepped back, scratched his stubble and looked Nigel up and down. “So you’re the kid who stole my baby, huh?”
Nigel, not sure of what to say, turned to Theresa for help, mouth opening and closing like a beached fish struggling to breathe.
“Oh stop it,” Theresa snapped, her voice playful. She slapped George on the arm. “You’re just like my father.”
A manly chuckle rolled out of George as he grinned back at Theresa. “Kind of scrawny, don’t you think?”
Theresa rolled her eyes and shook her head.
George turned back to Nigel. “I’m just messing with you, bud. Honey’s the closest thing I ever had to a kid of my own. Feels kind of weird to see her married.”
“Honey?” Nigel asked quietly.
“It’s just a nickname,” Theresa explained. “From when I was little.” She looked at George with affection. “But maybe now that we’re all grown up we should use real names? Or should I keep calling you uncle George?”
George harrumphed and rubbed his hands together. “Alright, baby,” he grumbled. “You got me there. Welcome back to Moosehurst.” Then he turned to Nigel. “And to you, welcome to Moosehurst. You’re gonna’ have a fucken’ kick-ass time here. I promise.” He squeezed between them and picked up the two suitcases the pilot had deposited on the dock.