The Wedding is a short story I wrote many moons ago. It takes place in the FlyGirl universe.
My eyes fluttered shut and my head drooped. I kicked my feet in a futile attempt to curl up in the chair. Someone repositioned my head.
“Siobhan, head up, please. We’re still working on your hair.”
I blinked my eyes open. I was sitting in one of those uncomfortable salon chairs and facing a full length mirror. In the mirror, I saw my soon-to-be sisters-in-law, Amelia and Molly, standing behind me and studying me intently.
Molly was younger, and nicer, I suppose. She wore her dark hair short and in a precision bob. Her skin was pale and her makeup perfect. Kuddos for putting on that red lipstick so perfectly. I would have told her that, but I didn’t really care enough to form the words it required. In one hand she held bobby pins; in the other, she had a tiara.
Amelia was the older one. Tall, thin, and ice blond, Amelia was from generational wealth, and she let everyone know it. I was from generational wealth, too, but I was also poor, so there’s that. She stood, arms crossed, eyeing me like I was roadkill.
A third woman I did not recognize stood off to the side, holding a brush and some hairspray.
I yawned loudly.
Mollie sighed. “I’m telling you, do the loose, simple look. It’s how she wears it, anyway.”
Amelia rolled her eyes. “No. I will not have her look like a hippie bride.”
“Sitting right here,” I said and raised my hand. “Do I get a vote?”
“No,” the two women answered in unison.
“Fine,” I mumbled. “Whatever.” My eyes closed and my head drooped. I floated on a pleasant cloud of apathy.
It may be my wedding, but the design and styling of it was really more their thing, anyway. I didn’t mind, to be honest. Things like planning, scheduling, designing, completing… those things weren’t my thing.
My thing was the wedding night. I giggled a little to myself. My wedding night was going to be off the chain.
“Um, is she okay?”
This was a new voice, one I didn’t recognize.
“She’s fine,” Amelia answered curtly.
“She doesn’t look fine,” the voice persisted. “Has she been drugged?”
I snorted. Drugged? No. On drugs? Maybe… a little… prescribed, of course. Getting cut up hurts.
“No! Of course not!” Molly tried to laugh, but it came out a high pitched croak. “She’s had a hard few days, that’s all.”
The voices got quiet. I heard someone say kidnapping and rescue. “We all thought she should postpone the ceremony,” I heard Amelia say, “but she insisted.”
I raised a thumbs up. “I’m good,” I said to my reflection. “Super good.”
I felt a comb in my hair. “You got kidnapped? Seriously? What happened?”
“Oh my God… it succkkkkedddd,” I groaned. “I was like, trying to get home during that nor’easter we had, but this Russian guy who was all grudgy because someone who may or may not have been me may or may not have called the authorities on his B.S. trafficking operation.”
“Seriously?” the unfamiliar voice said. “That’s whack.”
I blinked my eyes open and made eye contact with the girl. “So whack. I mean, they grabbed me off the street and took me to this dump of a motel, and then the leader was all I’m going to make you pay, you dirty, stinking, little–” I began jerking my hand up and down, like he did when he stabbed me.
“That’s enough, Siobhan,” Amelia said in her stupid Amelia Long Island Lockjaw voice. “Suffice it to say, it was awful. We don’t like to talk about it. You understand.”
“I don’t mind talking about it!” I exclaimed. “Really! I mean, how many people do you know with a man’s name carved into their chest?” I nodded enthusiastically at the girl’s horrified expression as I tried to pull down my dress to show her. “Man, this thing is on tight…”
Molly and Amelia were both next to me, holding my arms.
“Enough, Siobhan,” Amelia said.
“Right? Honey, you’re all dressed, and you look so pretty.” To Amelia, she hissed, “She’s talking a lot. Should we dose her again?”
“I’ll get the bottle,” Amelia replied and hurried out.
“Be right back,” Molly said brightly and followed.
“Well, I think it’s horrible,” the girl said as she pulled her hands through my hair and fluffed it high. “You must have been terrified.”
I thought about that. I hadn’t been scared, exactly. Exhilarated? That was a better word. Not bored? Two words, but that worked, too. But saying those words out loud nearly put me in a psychic ward. People didn’t like it when you weren’t processing the trauma or whatever.
“Yeah,” I said, then sighed. “It was so scary.” I paused. “Cold, too. I mean, really cold. The place they held me had no heat. It sucked. You think someone would have thought, maybe we need heat during a nor’easter.” I paused. “Then again, they were Russian, so maybe heat’s not a thing they need. Who knows.”
“Wow.” The girl stuck some hairpins in my hair. “I have mad respect for you. I would have been freaking.”
For a moment, I remembered the feel of the cheap bedspread and the weight of Nick’s body as he cut into my chest. Go ahead, Nick. Do it. I double dare you... I took a deep breath.
“Yeah, well, it could have been worse. My fiancé shot him in the forehead, so it’s all good. Besides, before this happened, I thought I was in love with this stupid FBI guy, but did he crash through a door and save me? Nope. Probably still waiting on a search warrant.” I giggled a little at the thought of Special Agent Jason Donnelly trying to get a search warrant. “Nope. Something like this happens, and suddenly everything makes sense.”
I yawned again and winced. My throat burned. “Hey. I’m thirsty. Something to drink, here?”
No one answered. I looked for the girl in the mirror, but she was gone. Everyone had left. Man, these painkiller fugue states. For me, it feels like a second, but who knows? It could have been an hour. I leaned closer to the mirror. My hair did look nice, though. I patted it carefully. Maybe it was a little Julia Roberts Pretty Woman circa 1990s hair, but maybe it was supposed to look that way.
My throat was on fire. I started spinning the chair. “Hellooo? Anybody there? I’m thirsty?”
Suddenly, a champagne glass hovered in front of my face. I tried to grab it, but it floated just out of my reach. “Hey! Come back here!”
The champagne glass obeyed me and landed in my hand. “Hellooo, beautiful, ” I said to it.
“Hello to you,” the champagne replied. Except it wasn’t the champagne who replied. It was a man. I looked up, surprised.
In front of me stood a tall, older man who looked vaguely familiar.
Where do I know this guy from? I studied him carefully. His face was a little too narrow to be classically handsome. Brown eyes, brown hair, long, narrow nose, and surprisingly full lips. He wore a black cashmere coat over a black suit. His tie was black. His shoes were black and shiny.
He raised the glass to me and smiled. “To the bride. May you be as beautiful in your coffin as you are on this day.
I’m not going to say I immediately sobered up, but the combination of his expression and words set off alarms in my head. I sat up. “You shouldn’t be in here,” I said authoritatively. “Who let you in?”
“I let myself in,” the man replied. “Now, let us drink.” He raised the glass to his lips and watched me expectantly.
I looked at the champagne. It was cloudy. Champagne is not traditionally cloudy. As thirsty as I was, I held off.
“I shouldn’t be here alone,” I told him. “Where is everybody? Where’s Amelia and Molly?” I turned towards the door. A chair had been pushed under the doorknob. “Strange place for a chair.” I looked at the man. “Did you put it there?”
The man ignored my question. “You should drink,” he insisted. “It’s an exceptional vintage.”
It occurred to me that the man had a slight accent. I tried to hand it back to him. “I don’t know. It looks flat. You taste it for me and tell me.”
“You are an irritating one, aren’t you? Just like Nicolai said.” The man forced laugh, then glared. “DRINK.”
I flinched. Suddenly, I knew who he was. Maksimilian Vasiliev. Nicolai’s brother. Dead Nicolai’s brother.
Anger welled up and stamped out whatever fear remained. This loser has the nerve to crash my VERY SPECIAL DAY? This is MY DREAM DAY, BY GOD. Nobody, I mean, NOBODY is ruining it, especially not some DEAD SEX TRAFFICKER’S psycho brother.
I tossed the champagne into his eyes, then slammed him in the temple with the glass.
Roaring with anger, he lunged toward me and missed. I managed to slipped out of the seat and onto the floor.
Someone began pounding on the door. “Siobhan? Siobhan! Open the door!”
“Help!” I screamed, crawling for the door and knocking over the makeup artist’s bag at the same time. “Nick’s brother is trying to poison me!” Makeup tools of the trade rolled around in front of me. I started tossing useless stuff aside. Hello, scissors? Tweezers? A nail file? Something useful?
A tube of Milk Lip & Cheek tint across the floor. Wait. I like that brand. I picked it up. It was a perfect color rose. I popped off the lid to test it on my arm.
Before I could swipe, hands wrapped around my throat and yanked me back. “We’re not done, Mrs. Cosetino,” Vasiliev whispered in my ear. “The longer I have to wait, the more painful it will be for you.”
I snapped at his ear, but missed. “Promises, promises.”
A pop, followed by a cacophony, and the door split into pieces.
Vasiliev licked my cheek, then let go. I dropped to the floor.
Alex kicked his way inside. In his hand was an Uzi. “Siobhan? Good God.” He handed the firearm off and ran over to me. “What happened?”
“Mak… Maka… Maksa..” I paused. “Nick’s brother.”
“Maksimilian,” he said perfectly, kneeling in front of me and cupping my face. “He was here?”
“Uh huh. He wanted me to drink something.” I shuddered. “He was insistent.”
Alex frowned. “Did you?”
“No. D’uh.” I rolled my eyes. “It was so poisoned it should have been bubbling little cartoon skulls.”
Alex smiled, even if it didn’t reach his eyes. “How did he even get in here?”
I shrugged, but one of Alex’s men said, “There’s a door back here, sir. The clothes rack hid it.”
“Spread out,” Alex barked. “Find him. I want him alive.”
He turned to me and pushed my hair back. “Baby, we can wait on this, if you want.”
“No. I’m good.” I climbed to my feet, using his head to bolster me. “It’s all good. Let’s do this.” My hair had fallen out of its style, but other than that, I looked pretty good. “Come on, why waste this? I look good, don’t I?” I grinned at him and tried to spin but nearly fell. “Come on. Tell me how pretty I am.”
“I shouldn’t tell you,” Alex replied, catching me. “It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.”
“It is?” I asked. “Aw, man.” I threw my arms around him. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
His answer was a kiss. In the distance, an organ began playing Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
Author’s note: The first draft of this story was written in 2016, before the presidential election and certain cultural events. I had originally intended to post it as-is, but turns out that the story I wrote back then doesn’t resonate as much with me as it once did. For those who liked the original story, thank you! I hope you like the changes. As always, thank you for reading.