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Hadden McNeal looked at his watch. She was already fifteen minutes late.
"Relax, she'll be here," Steven smiled at his friend. "She's always running late."
Hadden attempted a wry smile, "For her own wedding?"
Steven placed his bible on the pulpit. "Maybe she had car trouble."
Hadden shook his head, staring with blank eyes at the splashes of orange and gold that decorated the church. Miranda had insisted on using pumpkins and cornstalks, instead of the traditional flowers, while still keeping with the fall season. He'd agreed as he always did when Miranda wanted something. He loved her too much to deny her.
"Miranda would have called." He jammed his hands into his pockets and looked at Steven. "No, something's wrong. I just feel it."
He winced slightly as Mrs. Biggers hit a sour note on the piano. God, not again. This was the seventh time she'd played "Oh Promise Me," and he figured she was getting pretty tired of playing it. He sure as hell was getting sick of hearing it.
Where is Miranda? He shifted his weight from foot to foot, trying to ignore the whispering in the church. This just wasn't like her. Oh, it wasn't that Miranda was always on time that made him worry about her lateness now–she hardly ever was on time for anything. And for the most part he didn't mind, although it was irritating as hell on occasion…like now, for instance.
He'd thought that after the other day, when she'd come flying into the church fifteen minutes late for rehearsal–dammit, he'd assumed she'd be on time, today of all days.
Where in the hell could she be?How could she even think about being late? Today was their wedding day, for Christ's sake!
Did the church doors open? He turned his head that direction, expecting to see Miranda running down the aisle, her large blue eyes all soft and apologetic, her shoulder length white blonde hair wind-blown, her fingers stained from charcoal from the preliminary sketches she was doing on a new book of fairy tales.
No, it didn't look like the church doors had opened.
Hadden could hear the worried whispering coming from the pews filled with friends and family, mostly his family. Miranda's mother was ill and unable to make the trip from Florida to Silver Valley, North Carolina. The only other relative she had was her paternal grandmother, and Hadden had never had the pleasure of meeting her. Presently, she was with Miranda's mother.
He wondered if Miranda had received bad news about her mother. Perhaps that was why she was late? Damn, he should never have agreed to that superstitious nonsense about not seeing the bride before the wedding. Miranda had even insisted they celebrate her twenty-fifth birthday a day early so as not to step on tradition. She'd wanted everything to be perfect for their wedding.
She'd not be late and jinx our wedding.
Then where is she? He glanced at his watch again. Five more minutes had crept by; Miranda was thirty minutes late and still counting.
He looked up and saw his mother give him a thumbs-up sign. He knew she was trying to let him know everything was all right, but he could see his own worry mirrored in her eyes. He tried to give her a smile, but it felt stiff and awkward. "OK, Hadden, relax," he whispered under his breath. He ran his hand through his dark brown hair and stared down the aisle.
Where is she?
It seemed as though he'd loved her forever. In his mind's eye, he could see her floating down the aisle in her white lace wedding dress, looking like the angel she was…
"Just go call her," Steven said, looking at his own watch. "You can use the phone in the rectory."
Copyright © 2002 by Jewel Dartt