Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.2 MB
HER DREAM WEDDING
IS ABOUT TO BECOME A NIGHTMARE
It’s Julia’s wedding day. Her nerves are to be expected – every bride feels the same – but there’s another layer to her fear, one that she cannot explain to her soon-to-be husband, Mark. She’s never told him the details – and she is determined he never finds out.
As she begins down the aisle, spotting Mark in his tailored suit, she knows she is taking her first steps to happiness – her past is behind her, it can’t catch her now. Mark turns to face her . . . But it isn’t Mark in the beautiful suit – it’s his best man. Because Mark is missing. And Julia’s past is closer than she thinks . . .
‘Are you all right?’ The registrar rushed forward; his already wrinkled brow was furrowed deep. He seemed at a loss as to what to do.
‘She’s fine.’ Lucy bent over me, peering into my face. She turned to him. ‘I can be the witness.’
‘Do you need some water or something?’ He shifted his weight from one leg to the other, not sure where to go.
‘Great idea.’ Lucy rushed to the table where a jug of water stood and poured me a glass.
‘I’m all right,’ I said. ‘A little hot, that’s all. This dress is too tight.’
‘I have to ask . . .’ The registrar leaned closer towards me. ‘Is anyone forcing you to get married?’
‘No, no one’s forcing me to do anything.’ I couldn’t keep the irritation out of my voice. Why was he asking me that? I wished he would get away from me.
His face relaxed. ‘I’m sorry – I have a legal duty to ask. It’s one of the standard questions.’
‘Of course.’ I tried to control my breathing.
Lucy handed me the glass of water.
‘I’ll . . . I’ll leave you to it,’ he said. ‘Thank you.’ He hurried out of the room without looking back.
‘Drink the water,’ Lucy said. ‘It’s going to be fine.’ She squeezed my shoulder gently.
Cool water slid down my throat. ‘Do you . . . do you think they know about what happened?’ I couldn’t look at her as I said it.
‘You’re being paranoid.’ She stood up straight. ‘How could they know?’ There was a sharpness to her voice.
‘You’re right. It’s just . . . I hate being the centre of attention. Everyone staring at me again.’
She gave a brief nod but said nothing. We never talked about our past; it was our unspoken rule.
‘We need to get going.’ She handed me my bouquet and smiled at me. ‘It’s nearly two.’
I smoothed my dress and glanced in the mirror one final time. The colour was coming back to my cheeks. Today my life was going to begin with Mark. He had been everything to me for so long now and soon we would be married. I felt a flutter of happiness at the thought.
We waited outside the ceremony room – the point of no return. Once I crossed that threshold, everything would change, my life would never be the same again. I was ready.
But voices rumbled from inside the room; I’d expected silence. I glanced at Lucy, who was hunched over, fussing with my satin train.
I thought of Mark. How we’d talked about this day for so long. Now it was finally here it felt different. Strained, maybe. As if everything was pulled taut and a single thing could rip it all apart.
Lucy stood up and waited beside me. My feet were starting to ache and the underwire of my lacy bra was digging into my ribs. I tugged at my bodice.
Lucy turned to me. ‘Shouldn’t someone open the doors for us?’
‘I would have thought so.’ I tried to remember what my wedding planner had said would happen at this moment. The voices still rumbled on through the door.
‘I can go in and find out what’s happening?’ Lucy suggested.
‘No, everyone will see you. Let’s give it a couple of minutes. David’s probably lost the rings or something. I told Mark he’d be useless, but did he listen?’ I’d never liked David. He seemed so superficial and didn’t strike me as a good person.