Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part II

Here is the second part of my serial flash fiction, a paranormal mystery set in a bachelorette party shop and venue. To read the first part, click here. For more Friday Flash Fiction, search the hashtag #fridayflash on Twitter or check out Mad Utopia on Saturday, when Friday Flash guru J.M. Strother posts a comprehensive list with authors and genres.

Always a Bridesmaid


Toby loaded the last of the boxes in the truck and wiped his hands on his jeans. "All set!"

The older man who watched him shook his head and leaned on the porch rail. "You could just send 'em. That's why God made UPS."

"But this way it's an adventure!" He grinned and for a moment was surprised by his own smile.

"And you get away from that woman."

"I could never fool you, Dad." Toby climbed the porch steps two at a time and enveloped his adoptive father in a hug. With some gentle but manly thumping on the back, of course.

"She ain't that bad, Son. You gotta settle sometime. And once I get better, I'll go back to helping you with the business."

Now Toby's smile faltered. He and his mom had talked to the doctors that week, and he knew it didn't look good. They wouldn't tell Tom, but the tumor in his brain hadn't responded to the chemo and radiation like they'd hoped. But the old man kept his spirits up by not listening to them even though he complied with their instructions. Never mind that he was almost blind.

"Bunch o' fools," he muttered like he could tell what his son was thinking. "Now go. Those cookies ain't gonna last forever, and your mother'll have a fit if those linens she stitched for your cousin aren't there in time for the rehearsal dinner. You know she's already upset about missing her sister's only daughter's wedding."

"All right, all right, I'm off!" And with another gentle – but still very manly – pat on the back, he was.


Lydia shook her head. "There's no point in going into all of this again, Amber!"

Her friend put her hands on her hips. "Sarah Lydia Rockfort Smithson Webber!"

Tiffany raised her eyebrows. "That's a lot of last names!"

"And that's not even all of them." Lydia sat and put her head in her hands. "Look, can't we just drop it! It's going to be different this time."

Tiffany sat beside the bride and put a hand on her shoulder. She sensed the girl's hesitation. "What's going to make it different?"

"Why do you want to know?" This was no longer the girl who had gleefully chopped the end off her man-cake earlier. She narrowed her blue eyes and set her jaw, and Tiffany could see the determination and the grief the girl had endured. No, this was a young woman who had suffered more than she should have.

"She can help you, Lydia!" Now Amber pleaded. "Please, at least try!"

"There's no point. I'm cursed. We've only heard about happy marriages that make it through the first night."

"Tell me about the curse," Tiffany said, but she couldn't help a little smile that the rumor was doing its work. "Happy Brides go to the Bride's Best Friend for their bachelorette parties!" had been her slogan, and the part about her brides always having happy marriages? Well, she couldn't help it if good marketing, careful selection of her first clientele, and a little magic had all worked together.

"Something always happens to my husband on the wedding night," Lydia whispered.

Now Tiffany felt the chill return. "Like what?"

Amber came to stand behind Lydia. "It's always an accident," she said. "There's never anything suspicious, no hint of foul play."

Lydia bit her lip, tears running down her cheeks. She obviously couldn't continue, so Tiffany looked at Amber again.

"Freaky stuff, like a short in the television or a balcony on a honeymoon suite that's rusted. Things that people are only going to find out the worst way."

"I see." She couldn't see, really, but she could sense the shadow that hung over Lydia, and she thought about the spirit in the kitchen.

"But it's going to be different this time," Lydia said in a small voice. She looked up through her tears at Amber. "I know it is."

Amber put her hand on Lydia's shoulder. "You need to tell her that part, too."

Tiffany arched an eyebrow. "Which is…?"

"He picked the groom. He said if I married the right one, it would all be okay."

Tiffany stood and walked to the other side of the table. She felt like a magnet with the same pole toward Lydia's, the force pushing her backwards. "What did he offer you?"

Lydia shrugged. "A chance to finally be happy with a wonderful man."

Amber squeezed her friend's shoulder. "But you don't know that! You see, Tiffany," she said, and the party hostess heard the panic in the girl's voice, "this is why we need you! No one else believes in curses anymore!"

A clap of thunder shook the small building, and rain poured from the sky. Tiffany ran around the room and closed windows, which had been open to the surprisingly balmy weather. Now a chill wind whipped the empty branches outside.

"I think that you have no idea what you're getting into," she said and rubbed the goosebumps on her arms.

"I've already lost six husbands," said Lydia. "I almost didn't try again, but when Trent picked me up that night, I knew he'd be different. He'd be the one to break the curse!"

"Does he know about it?" Tiffany asked. She'd been ready to dismiss the girls' claim, but six husbands? Lydia couldn't be more than thirty! "And who picked him?"

"I don't know." Lydia blushed and looked away. "I only see him in my dreams. But yes, Trent knows about the curse. He laughed, especially when I told him he'd been chosen to break it."

The cuckoo clock on the wall chirped two, and Tiffany cursed under her breath. There would be a tea at four, and she needed time to clean the shop.

"We should go," said Amber.

Tiffany nodded. "Come back any time tomorrow. The wedding's next weekend, right?"

"It's Tuesday."

Tiffany almost dropped the plates she held. "That doesn't give us much time."


Elisabeth Black said...

What! No fair.

Nice job. :)

Unknown said...

Ouch, lost six husbands. I'd give up. This is a nice follow to the first part.

Lily Mulholland said...

Lydia, Tiffany and Amber? LOL! Good witchy names all :)

Anne Tyler Lord said...

This is mysteriously interesting, can't wait to see what happens THIS time. Goodness, 6 guys down, this one better be the ONE!

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

Six men? Sheesh, that's some tenacity... Isn't she verging on serial killer now?

Sam said...

I can't wait to find out what happens next - will number seven make it? ;)

mazzz in Leeds said...

Six husbands - ouch! You'd think Trent would be a bit more worried!

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story. Will be interesting to see what happens next.

Anonymous said...

Hm, if I were Trent, I wouldn't have laughed off six husbands dying off. Very intriguing & I cannot wait to see what happens next. I read the previous post, man-cakes? I laughed out loud at that one...

Donna Carrick said...

All I can say is Lydia must be a real hottie! 6 dead already? Definitely a bride worth dying for! ha ha. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Laura Eno said...

Left hanging...
Can't wait to hear more about the curse. :)