Read CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding Online

Authors: yasmine Galenorn

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Mystery Fiction, #Single Mothers, #Witches, #Occult Fiction, #Divorced Women, #Washington (State), #Women Mediums, #Tearooms, #O'Brien, #Emerald (Fictitious Character)

CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding (4 page)

BOOK: CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Joe stomped over to Murray and tossed her a ring of keys. “He won’t be driving anywhere in his condition.” And then, with a cold glance my way, he headed for the bathroom.
“WHAT ARE YOU going to tell the kids? This will be all over town by morning, and Ingrid Lindstrom will have a heyday with it.” Harlow patted my back as I slumped on the bench in the ladies room.
“Did you have to mention Ingrid?” I moaned. The gossip columnist for the
Chiqetaw Town Crier
would be frothing at the mouth over this one. But she was the least of my worries. “Never mind about the town. What am I going to tell my parents? And Grandma M.? They saw everything and I can just imagine what they’ll have to say about all this. Somebody better fire up the smelling salts, because Grandma M.’s sure to threaten a heart attack.”
The door opened and Murray peeked in. “You okay, Em?”
“Okay? How can I be okay? You just had to break up a brawl between my fiancé, my ex, and your boyfriend. Not only that, but my entire customer base watched me shove my ex into the party cake. Thank God I sent the kids home early.” I straightened up. So far, tears had remained in the background, but I was pissed out of my mind.
“Should I be on the lookout for any more trouble? Do you think Roy will pull any more stupid stunts?” Mur asked, settling down beside me. She looked remarkably pulled together for having just negotiated a brawl. But that was Murray—the head of detectives for Chiqetaw’s police force and a beautiful Amazon of a woman. Her eyes flashed, dark chocolate against her caramel skin. Native American, Anna Murray had fought for everything she ever got, and she always came out on top, if a little bruised.
I leaned on the counter, staring in the mirror. My hair was naturally curly so even when it was tousled, it still looked pretty good. But my lipstick had smeared, and I looked altogether too flushed. Otherwise, I’d made it through the fracas unscathed. Harlow handed me a tissue and I cleaned up my face.
“I don’t think so, but you never can tell. Roy’s volatile. That was one of the problems. Well, one of the warning signs. He’s unpredictable and I don’t trust him.” I’d learned the hard way just how far he would go in his selfish pursuits, but it had taken several years before I’d opened my eyes to the realization that he would never change.
“I’ll warn Deacon and Greg to keep their eyes open. Do you know if he’s staying in town?”
“God, I hope not. I don’t know. He must have called Kip and found out about the party. Kip’s a natural-born diplomat and he’s forever trying to smooth things out. He wants Roy and me to be friends. I worry about him.”
Murray sighed. “Yeah, the little guy just wants everybody to be happy. I’ve noticed that for quite a while now. So, is this the first time Joe and Roy have come face-to-face?”
“Yeah, they never met before. I suppose it had to happen sometime, but this wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it.” I shrugged. To be honest, I’d been hoping that they’d never meet. Unrealistic? Of course. But sometimes the thought of the past intruding on the present was too frightening to entertain. Some events seemed so fraught with potential disaster that I wasn’t about to go there unless forced.
Harlow shook her head. “You know, Em, you should have just told Roy to beat it when you first saw him at the door. That’s what I would have done.” An edge in her voice took me by surprise. I glanced over at her.
“Yeah, well, hindsight gives you twenty-twenty vision, doesn’t it? I thought that Mr. Big-Wig Computer Salesman could control himself for once, since the kids were around, but I was wrong.”
“I was just saying that next time, you might want to take preventive measures. Maybe tell whoever’s watching the door to turn Roy away if he shows up.” Harl flashed me a smile, but there was something a little odd about it.
Murray frowned. “Harlow, cut her a little slack. She didn’t know this was going to happen. We don’t always have control over how others act.”
“It wasn’t criticism.” Harl straightened her dress. The sheath showed every curve and there wasn’t an ounce out of place. “I was just making an observation.”
“Yeah, right.” I glanced in the mirror again to make sure I was pulled back together. I was feeling vulnerable as it was; the last thing I needed was a friend second-guessing me. “I guess I’d better get out there and dive into damage control. I’m surprised that my mother, grandmother, and sister aren’t in here clamoring our ears off.”
Murray grinned. “It isn’t because they didn’t try. I asked them to keep a lookout to make sure that Roy doesn’t get back in. And I assigned your father the task of running interference with the manager, who caught the tail end of our little soap opera out there. They were more than happy to be given something to do.”
I gave her a grateful smile. “Thank you. I don’t need this. Life’s been stressful enough, working out all the details for the wedding. I thought it would be easier the second time around, but there are more factors to consider. I want the kids to feel included, my family has expectations, not to mention coming up with a viable explanation for why Joe’s parents aren’t here. His brother is supposed to be coming in Sunday, though.”
Murray shushed me. “Get out there and show them what you’re made of, Em. And don’t worry about Joe,” she said, reading my secret fear. “He was just mad at Roy. You know how guys get. Everything will blow over and your wedding’s going to be beautiful.”
I took a deep breath, held it to a count of four, then let it out slowly. Another petite wave of dizziness hit me. Too much champagne, probably. “I hope you’re right. Okay, let’s get this show on the road.”
GRANDMA M . SURPRISED me. She was still wearing her perpetual frown, but she slipped her arm around my waist and drew me aside. “Finally, you’ve found a young man willing to stand up for you. He’s a good boy, even if he is too young.”
I knew she’d never liked Roy. From the very beginning she kept telling me he was going to be trouble. It was one of the few things Nanna and Grandma M. had agreed on. I gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Thanks, Grandma.”
She hemmed and hawed. Having handed me an olive branch, she had to follow it up with a smack. “Of course, if you’d refrained from getting married to Roy so quickly, you wouldn’t find yourself in this whole mess now.”
I didn’t bother defending myself, but I knew her buttons by now. “Think of it this way, Grandma M. If I hadn’t met Roy, you wouldn’t have two beautiful great-grandchildren, would you?”
Her lip quivered and I knew that I’d made my point. She patted me on the shoulder and I made my way over to my parents. By the time I got there, Joe had already started reassuring them. I slipped up beside him, slid my arm through his, and backed up my knight in an EMT uniform.
I MANAGED TO convince my parents to go straight back to their hotel for the evening, taking Grandma and my sister with them. My spare bedroom was jammed floor to ceiling with Joe’s stuff. He’d given up the lease on his apartment the month before and now we were slowly sorting through his things, along with mine, in an attempt to integrate our households.
The attic—actually a small spare room—on the second floor was filled with boxes awaiting the big garage sale we were planning for later in the summer, while the downstairs guest room was filled with boxes still left to sort through. Secretly, I was relieved. The thought of having family staying with us during the days leading up to our wedding scared the hell out of me. I could only cope with so much.
As we pulled into the driveway, I saw Miranda on the roof, as per usual. When we first moved in, I hired a handyman to install a reinforced guardrail around a flat area on the roof directly outside her bedroom. She could safely crawl out her window at night, dragging her telescope along with her, to watch the stars.
She saw us and waved. I blew her a kiss, dreading telling her and Kip about their father’s latest farce. They’d seen him drunk a number of times, for which I was infinitely sorry. It had taken a couple of years before my hopes that he would turn it around and treat them right crashed to the floor. And I’d long given up on the idea that he might ever treat me with any shred of civility. Since the divorce, he’d been as lousy a father as he had during our marriage. Sometimes I wondered just why he stayed in touch with us at all.
Joe grabbed my hand and pulled me into the backyard, to the trellised opening that divided my lot from the one he’d bought the year before. “Let’s sit in the garden for a few minutes and shake off the evening.”
“That sounds perfect,” I said.
After filling in the foundation that had been the basement for the old Brunswick house, we’d spent every spare moment during the spring decking out the lot with flower and herb gardens. We installed a fountain, several stone benches, and a couple of statues. All hints of the ghostly visitors who had made the lot their home were gone. As we weeded out the thicket of briars and vines, we’d unearthed the past and put it to rest. Now, the land felt clear and happy and whimsical.
Joe and I wandered through the burgeoning flower beds that Horvald had helped us plant. Nasturtiums and poppies colored the new sod, patchwork pretty, and creeping phlox and stonecrop made for a sturdy groundcover. The path forked in two directions. To the right, it led up to a pristine ivory and green gazebo with burgundy trim. To the left, the path wound into a labyrinthine spiral, which coiled its way to a meditation bench.
On warm evenings, we walked the spiral to the center, where Joe would sit and read while I practiced my yoga on a mat under the open sky. Calming, it had become our summer routine, helping us to balance the cares of the day. A month in, I’d begun to notice that my psychic powers were increasing, growing more focused, stronger. Though I had to admit for the past week or so I’d been so distracted I wouldn’t have been able to pick up on a ghost if it jumped out in full sheet with chains rattling.
The pebbled tiles reminded me of cobblestones, and the path was lined on both sides by rows of pink rose-bushes, interspersed with western maidenhair ferns. Joe loved pink roses, and I’d found myself drawn to them when we went shopping at the plant nursery. The lot was slowly turning into a haven away from the tensions of our mundane routines, a personal sanctuary for our family. Even the kids came out here to read or play. When we were done building the fence that would support the hedge, we’d have full privacy from passersby on the street.
I dropped Joe’s hand and set foot on the first tile, breathing slowly. Walking the spiral was a solitary event, yet somehow as I walked, the labyrinthine motion connected me to the world in an integral, grounded manner. I conjured up Roy’s face and felt a flash of irritation, but as I took the second step the smell of the roses wafted up to calm me and I found myself letting go of the anger. I thought about why he’d done what he did. Roy was bitter, he was alone again, and he couldn’t accept other people being happy. He always had to be the one in the spotlight.
Another step, and another flash of his face. Once, I’d loved him. Once, he’d loved me. But things change. Roy wasn’t cut out to be a parent or a husband. Perhaps he’d be forced to find his way, now that his second marriage had fallen apart.
By the fifth step, I’d left Roy behind and found myself drifting in the warm buzz of the evening. I inhaled deeply, exhaled slowly. Step-by-step, I worked my way into the meditation bench, and step-by-step, I reattached myself to the joys that my coming wedding promised, rather than the obstacles.
Behind me, Joe was doing much the same. I felt his irritation drain away, the pain where Roy had hit him was fading. Reaching out, I linked to Joe’s energy and blended into the sparkling shimmer that I recognized as his love for me, his devotion. By the time we reached the meditation bench, I turned and he held out his arms. Silently, I slid into his embrace. He held me for a moment, just looking into my face, and then leaned down and rested his lips on my own. I melted into the kiss.
“It wasn’t quite the party we wanted, but Harlow’s dinner will be better. No outsiders allowed,” he said, sitting and leaning against the back of the bench.
I stretched out, resting my head on his lap as I gazed at the flowers surrounding us. “So, are we okay?”
“Of course,” he said, caressing my shoulder. “Why wouldn’t we be? It’s not your fault Roy decided to crash the party. When will you get that through your head? It’s not your fault that he was such a jerk during your marriage. He proved that by the way he treated Tyra. But why don’t we leave him out of this? Tonight, we relax.”
I stared at the sky. We were having a beautiful summer. Spring hadn’t been shabby, either, and with the exception of a few minor situations of the ghostly kind, I hadn’t stumbled over any dead bodies, had any monsters jump out of the bushes, or faced down any armed-and-dangerous felons for a number of months. Hopefully, the universe would keep it that way.
“So, your bridal shower is on for tomorrow?” Joe asked.
I laughed. “Yeah. I’m so glad they didn’t make it a surprise party.” I’d never been keen on surprise parties. The last thing I needed was to stumble in on a roomful of friends and family while wearing yesterday’s sweats with my hair in a scrunchy. Nope, when there were bound to be cameras present, I wanted to look good.
I leaned on my elbows, letting the evening breeze sweep away my worries. As I sat up, another quick dizzy spell made me frown. Definitely too much champagne—I seldom drank and it went right to my head when I did indulge.
After half an hour, Kip and Randa joined us. Time to face the music and figure out how to tell them that their father had made an ass of himself. They’d hear about it from their friends, and I wanted to give them the facts before the rumor mill hit with a vengeance.
SATURDAY BROUGHT MORE sunshine and a surprise transformation. Randa had gussied up for my bridal shower. She was dressed in a floral sundress, and shock of shocks, she was wearing makeup. A pale sparkle of ivory highlighted her eyes, and a thin sheen of pink gloss shimmered on her lips.
BOOK: CnC 5 One Hex of a Wedding
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Night Rider by Tamara Knowles
Skin Dancer by Haines, Carolyn
One Thousand Kisses by Jody Wallace
Flesh Collectors by Fred Rosen
Cat and Mouse by Christianna Brand
Die Happy by J. M. Gregson
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand