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"I don't want to do this."
"I beg your pardon?" Rebecca cocked her head, staring at Rick through the thin netting of her veil.
Having walked down the long aisle by herself, she now waited for him to take the last step to stand by her side in front of the minister.
He didn't budge. "IIdon't want to do this." His gaze drifted to the front pew where his mother sat.
"I don't understand." She kept her voice as quiet as she could manage. "What's wrong, honey?"
Rick stood a few steps away in his designer tuxedo and fidgeted, shifting his weight from one foot to the other like a naughty child caught coloring on a freshly painted wall. "I changed my mind."
The weight of his words sank in. "Changed your mind? What do you mean 'changed your mind'?" Rebecca tried to ignore the echo of her cry through the cavernous sanctuary.
She was drowning in all of the ruffles and ribbons and crinoline she'd starved herself for almost a year to fit into. The heavy satin dress and layer after layer of petticoats suddenly seemed to swallow her whole.
She was an utter fool.
Aunt Kay sat in place of the parents Rebecca had never known. When Rebecca locked eyes with her, her aunt stared back, sending an expression full of sympathy. She'd tried several times to talk Rebecca out of marrying Rick, claiming he wasn't the right man for her. Aunt Kay had been right. As usual.
The musky smell of the flowers strewn around the church swept over Rebecca. It reminded her of a funeral, mourning the death of what should have been her perfect wedding. The wedding that would see her married and able to start a family. God, how she yearned for her own family. A mom. A dad. A whole passel of kids. Rick always told her he wanted the same things, so she'd ignored the warning bells that constantly nibbled at her. Especially his strange attachment to his puffed-up, self-important, opinionated mommy. Now it had all come home to roost.
The stunned crowd grew so quiet she could hear the nervous breaths whistling through her fiancé's flaring nostrils. A few heartbeats later, the twittering sounds of the guests floated toward the altar.
She should have expected Rick's cold feet. This last week, he'd been withdrawn, not wanting to discuss the wedding plans or hear about the annoying last-minute details she'd had to tackle alone. He'd spent more time talking to his mother than with Rebecca.
She shifted her spray of red roses to her left hand, grabbed her veil with her right and flipped it away from her face. Staring at him, she slowly shook her head. "You don't mean it, honey. You don't really want to..." She took a steadying breath. "You're justjustnervous, that's all."
A buzz of voices rose louder from the pews. She glanced up to the minister, pleading with her gaze, hoping for some support and guidance. The dark-robed man shifted his wide eyes from Rebecca to Rick and back again.
No help there.
Rebecca focused instead on her reticent fiancé. "Rick, calm down. Look at me." His gaze settled on her, his brown eyes as dull as they usually were when he
She sniffed the air.
He'd been drinking. Working up his false courage. He'd gotten plastered to go through with this marriage. Her anger rose, but she focused on consoling him. "It's going to be fine."
Rick shook his head and backed away from the altar, moving down one of the four steps that led to the dais.
Feeling a sickening mix of humiliation and anger, she fervently hoped she wouldn't throw up in front of everyone and add to her shame.