Romance Fiction posted June 17, 2017 Chapters:  ...15 16 -17- 18... 

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A chapter in the book Love Parts3

The Missing Bride

by Barb Hensongispsaca

It is a beautiful day for a wedding. But then again all weddings are beautiful no matter what happens. This is one of those days.

This was going to be a very nice occasion, even though, the union of Jan and Paul really was not that note-worthy. It has been two years since they decided that, despite their differences, they just couldn't stand to be apart.

Starting out as high school sweethearts, they had known each other for over thirty years. They went their separate ways when they decided to pursue their careers after graduation. Paul has been married once before but his wife died of cancer. Jan has been married twice. The first was to a too-young-disaster of a man which ended in divorce. Her second husband was killed in a car accident about three years ago.

Paul has three children - all boys. Two of them will be standing up with their father as he marries his "princess bride", as he affectionately calls her. His third son is in a hospital in Germany. He was injured last week by mortar fire, therefore, will not be able to attend his father's wedding. He told his father not to put it off.

"You're not getting any younger, Dad, and you should not let this one get away!" he told his father when he spoke to him after the accident.

Jan has no children because she put her career first. Therefore, she asked Paul's sister ... that's me ... to be her maid of honor. I was thrilled. I had fun planning the bridal shower, even though the games had to be revamped for us older people. Jan was always smiling and upbeat about this wedding.

Her oldest sister, Mid, declined the honor of being maid of honor due to health reasons. She did not want to be pushed down the aisle in her wheelchair by one of the groomsmen. Her other sister, Beth, walked with a cane, and even though she accepted Jan's offer to stand with her on this special day, she felt she could not do what was needed to honor her sister.

"We have been best friends through school, Nancy, and I would love it if you would consider standing next to me as I marry your brother," she said the day she asked me.

Everyone could see the love these two had for each other, but they both questioned their decision to marry. Being set in their ways, they realized marriage might be a hard thing to do. They had many discussions relating the pros and cons, but it came down to the fact that they loved each other and wanted to make it permanent.

"We could just live together," they both would say in unison as if planned, but they would laugh it off.

Today, there are close to 100 people in the church. Jan's sister, Beth, and I are ready to precede the bride down the aisle. There is only one problem - the bride is not here. Her dress is here, her bouquet is here, but she's not. Beth is beginning to worry. Jan's father, who will be 70 this week, is growing concerned. Only I know where she is.

Paul is in his little room getting dressed, oblivious to the fact that his "princess bride" vanished. The preacher is sitting up front and Paul's sons finish escorting the last of the guests to their seats. They are going to join their father as they get ready to go to the front. All three are unaware of Jan's absence. She is not getting dressed, or putting her makeup on, or fussing as a bride should be. She is not here.

Beth and I finished prepping; our final make up touches are done. We are ready to give Jan our full attention when she arrives. She will be here.

Jan's father just left us again, after checking to see if his daughter had arrived.

"Has she called you? I have not heard anything from her. You don't think she got cold feet and decided against the wedding?" he asked, his face drawn with worry.

Beth straightened his tie and his handkerchief, told him he still can't dress himself without mom. He smiled despite his worry. He went back outside to wait.

I hear the music start to play, and I know soon we are expected to make our appearance. We will. I know she is on her way. She left here last night and planned to be back before sunrise this morning. I was sworn to secrecy. She called me this morning and said all was going perfectly but she was running a bit behind schedule.

"Just hold everything together, please, and don't tell anyone," she reminded me.

I wait as long as I can. Knowing I have to make an announcement, I walk out to see Paul and his sons standing up front with the preacher. The organist changes music and I realize too late that I am holding my bouquet. Everyone assumes I am leading the procession. Jan's father is hurrying to my side and the church grows quiet.

"She is not here yet and I think we need to let everyone know. Do you want me to say something?" I ask as I lean close to him.

"No, I will. I am not sure what to say," he says to my relief that I don't have to be the one to speak to the expectant crowd.

He makes his way to the front of the church. His walk is slow but determined. I notice Paul's face as confusion sets in.

"Thank you everyone for coming and I need to ask for a little patience because Jan has been detained. She will be here as soon as she can but for now we are going to reverse the program. We are going to eat first and the wedding will commence after the meal," he tells the expectant crowd.

Paul's eyes become red with threatening tears as he turns to his brothers and says, "I knew she did not really want to do this, but I wish she would have talked it over with me and been honest. Now, we have a church full of friends and family, and I will have to tell them there is no wedding!"

Just as people start to rise, the church doors open. Jan is standing there. Next to her is a very handsome man in uniform. He is in a wheelchair, attended by his wife.

Everyone recognizes Paul's son, Brian, who was supposed to be in a hospital in Germany. Brian broke the surprised silence by saying, "Am I too late to stroll the bride down the aisle?"

Paul finally realizes what Jan had done and hurriedly moves from his spot to greet his son ... and his absentee bride.

Jan apologizes to everyone and asks them to please be patient while she changes and if Paul agrees, the wedding will go on. She never let on that I knew where she was.

Paul takes Jan in his arms as he says, "How did you manage this? Never mind. You are not leaving my sight until we are married."

Jan, in her jeans and sweatshirt, is walked down the aisle by Brian in his wheelchair, pushed by Jan's father. Brian takes his place beside his brothers as Jan's father gives his daughter's hand to Paul.

Like I said, it is a beautiful day for a wedding. But then again, all weddings are beautiful, no matter what happens. This is one of those days.

Romance Writing Contest contest entry


word count 1313
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