Coraline shivered. She really didn’t want to think about murder while in the midst of planning her impending nuptials. She calmed her niece down as best she could and went about her day.
Work was hectic. She closed the deal on one house and landed another for the agency. She made an appointment to see the place late in the day. She was nervous since the house was located toward the outskirts of town. Despite the fact she had poo poohed her niece, she was scared too. Everyone in town was on edge. The murders were all anyone talked about.
“How could a human do that?” The question came from a mousy desk clerk.
“I disagree that an animal couldn’t have done it,” said another co-worker. “Maybe the fool left the door open and it got in. I’ve never seen a human that could kill like that.”
“I prefer not to think about it,” Coraline announced. “I have a wedding to prepare for and that is stressful enough.”
“Well maybe you shouldn’t have agreed to one so soon. You can’t plan a real wedding in a week.”
“I can and I will,” Coraline said confidently. Then losing her resolve slightly, she added, “I have to because I made a promise.”
Derrick called as Coraline went to check out her new listing. He sounded strange.
“You aren’t going to believe this. My brother got married in Vegas.”
“Really?” Coraline almost lost control of the car. Michelle always boasted he was a confirmed bachelor.
“They are both coming to the wedding. I hope that’s okay. I really couldn’t invite him without his wife.”
“Of course I’m fine with Yvonne coming to the wedding,” Coraline stated as she parked the car in front of the house she needed to examine.
“Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you,” Derrick said with a catch in his voice. “Michelle didn’t marry Yvonne. It’s someone else; someone he recently met.”
“Wait a minute, your brother left town with Yvonne but he returned with a new bride; someone he just met? I can’t be hearing you correctly.”
“I’m afraid you are,” Derrick muttered. “Her name is Cristina. I invited the two of them to join us for breakfast in the morning but Michelle declined. He said they were busy but they’d meet us for coffee around 6:00. Can you make it?”
“Sure, I just have to check out my new listing and then I’m done for the day. I was going to confirm the flowers for the wedding but I’ll do by phone. It seems silly to have flowers at a small wedding anyway.”
“You can have whatever you want, my love,” Derrick cooed. “In two days you will be my wife. I’m looking forward to that more than you can imagine.”
Coraline was touched by her lover’s words. “I’ll meet you at Cappy’s at 6:00 then,” she sighed. With that she hung up the phone and hurried to view the new property.
Coraline finished in time to drop by the florist on the way. It was the last step of her wedding plans. She smiled as she exited it and head the two blocks to Cappy’s. She saw Derrick and Michelle as soon as she entered the door. All she could see of Michelle’s new wife was the back of her head.
She had extremely long pitch black hair and an obvious athletic build. As Coraline drew near the group, however, the hair stood up on the back of her arms. Something wasn’t right. She felt uneasy.
Moving toward her fiancé, Coraline kissed him sweetly. Then she hugged Michelle as he stood to acknowledge her. The embrace was forced and awkward.
“Coraline, I’d like you to meet my wife, Cristina.” Michelle pointed to the brunette with pride. The girl smirked as if the whole situation was beneath her.
“I’m pleased to meet you.” Coraline realized her words didn’t ring true. The closer she drew to the dark woman, the less comfortable she became. She pushed herself into a chair to hide her uneasiness.
“So when did you get back?” Coraline turned attention back toward Michelle.
“Last month,” he said with blinking. “But we were honeymooning, so to speak. That’s why we didn’t contact anyone.”
“I see,” Coraline said without really seeing anything. How could he be in town that long and not contact his own brother?
“We keep busy,” the dark woman added. Another smirk appeared on her face as if she could read Coraline’s thoughts.
“I’m sure,” Derrick injected to keep the conversation from becoming even more uncomfortable. “We’re just glad you made it back in time for the wedding.”
“As are we,” Michelle said, his voice sounding more bored than usual. “We wouldn’t miss it.”
The evening progressed slowly and painfully. The group broke apart just 30 minutes later. Derrick walked Coraline back to her car.
“She’s a weird one,” he said as soon as they were out of hearing range. He squeezed Coraline’s hand.
“I don’t like her,” Coraline blurted before she could stop herself. “She makes my skin crawl.”
Derrick stopped and turned to look at her. “You felt it too? I thought perhaps it was just me. There’s something off about that woman. She’s not even Michelle’s type. He likes party girls.”
“I wish we hadn’t invited them to the wedding,” Coraline murmured. “I think we should just go to the justice of the peace on Friday and skip the rest. I don’t want her there.”
Derrick stared at his fiancée in shock. It was unlike her to take a sudden disliking to someone. He measured his next words carefully.
“Honey, you’ve already gone to great lengths to arrange everything. You’ve purchased your dress and flowers. I say we go through with the wedding as planned. Cristina can’t ruin our day unless we let her.”
Thinking for a few moments, Coraline finally nodded. “You’re right. I’m overreacting. The wedding goes forward as planned.”
The next two days flew by and finally it was time to take the step Coraline had looked forward to since she first met Derrick. She knew instantly she wanted to marry him one day. Now that day was here.
As with all wedding days, a few mishaps took place that made the bride nervous. However, by the time 4:00 p.m. neared, she had managed to soothe her worries and fears.
“You look beautiful, Aunt Coraline.” The words came from Daniel, her 12-year-old nephew. She smiled at the look on his face, knowing instantly he spoke the truth. She rushed to hug him.
“Where is Lexi? I need her to help me finish up.”
“She’s coming,” Daniel grumbled. “You know how slow she is. She’s still primping. You’d think she was the bride.”
“Just because I’m not the center of attention, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t look good,” Lexi interjected as she entered the bedroom. She stopped to stare at her aunt. Her face beamed with admiration.
“You are the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen,” she murmured.
“Thank you, but if you don’t help me finish up, I’m going to be late for my own wedding,” Coraline laughed.
“Go, squirt,” Lexi said, looking at her brother. “Tell mother to start the car. We’ll be right there.” With that, she shut the bedroom door behind her brother.
“I really don’t need anything else,” her aunt admitted. “I just wanted to tell you to steer clear of Michelle’s new wife, Cristina. I don’t trust her. Keep Daniel and your mother away from him too.” Her eyes pleaded with her niece. Lexi caught the sense of urgency and nodded.
“It’s your day. You get whatever you want. Now come on let’s go or Derrick will think you left him standing at the altar.”
The women hurried down the stairs and into the limo. Within minutes, they were at their destination. The music began as Coraline neared the gazebo at the top of the hill. She smiled when she caught sight of her husband to be.
The wedding proceeded without problem. The couple exchanged vows among looks of undying love. Before they knew it, the minister pronounced them ‘man and wife’.
Derrick drew his bride in for a long, passionate kiss. It was only then that Coraline caught a glimpse of Cristina. She shivered at the look on the woman’s face. Suddenly she wanted to take Derrick’s hand and run. She somehow knew with absolute certainty that all of them were in mortal danger.