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Morning of the Wedding, Midsummer’s Day
“Emma, this is not the time for hide and seek. Get your freaky butt out here now.”
I wince at the sharpness of my voice as it echoes off the greased stained hallway. The bridal party in the room down the hall pause for five horrifying seconds before the noisy commotion kicks up again.
The conservatively dressed man standing guard at the doorway shifts his expensive-clad feet and glares at me before muttering something unintelligible into his fancy-looking headset.
I wheeze in a breath but cough it right back out as cheap, musty incense tickles the back of my throat. Dammit to perfume hell and back again. I walk over to the cabinet and grab the offending incense stick.
I know he’s watching every single step I make. Probably counting my breaths too.
Lucky for me I stopped giving a fuck twenty-four hours ago after I received the phone call.
I snap the stick in half before stashing it down a wilting, potted fern plant.
“Sorry, fern.” I mutter, stuffing my hands inside my freshly pressed trouser pockets.
I stare at the dying plant, painfully aware of every harried breath I take. You’re walking the bride down the aisle in two hours. Get your shit together, Dylan. Now.
I crack my knuckles before patting my anxiety tablets at the back of my trouser pocket. Just one more day and I’ll be back home to the land of the ordinary and Catsby.
I straighten the lapels of my cheap tuxedo jacket before striding down the narrow hall, nodding and smiling as more of the bride’s party arrive. Once the party disappears from view, I wilt and slam my head back repeatedly against the wall. Marty will roast me alive and have me for kebabs for the wedding buffet because I, Dylan Williams, lost the only thing that mattered to my best friend in the entire world.
“Hey Dylan, is everything okay?”
I snap upright as Marty’s sleek, blonde head pops out from behind the B&B bedroom door. Her hair is pinned in some fancy knot that took like three fucking hours to do this morning. She’s beaming with excitement, her heart-shaped face all dewy and glowy. She’s the perfect picture of a bride-to-be. I ignore the slight wobble in her legs as she walks towards me, courtesy of the bottle of gin she was smacking down since 10:00am this morning.
My shoulders tense but I smile breezily at my best friend who in one hour is entering into a marriage that has nothing to do with love and everything to do with escaping bad memories. “Everything is peachy,” I say. “Emma is just a little excited. She’s in the loo.”
I am going to hell. And I’ll take the bottle of gin and my bird-killing cat with me.
Marty strolls up to me, looking like a fairy princess in her white, sparkly dress that seems to sparkle an awful lot for a wedding dress.
I cluck under my tongue as she takes off my crooked bow-tie. “You sure you want my ugly mug walking you down the aisle?”
“Shut it,” she says, clipping the bow-tie back on. “You’re prettier than me and we both know it. I can’t think of anyone better than to walk me down the aisle to a new, happier life. Very, very happy. Lots of happiness. Got me?”
I raise my eyebrows at her scowl. New? Maybe. Happier? Hah. “I suppose you’ve forgotten you have a brother who should be walking you down the aisle?”
The less said about the father, the better. I pause. Maybe the brother too.