Saturday, March 1, 2008

Phaze Fantasies, Vol. VI

Phaze Fantasies, Vol. VI - Anthology
February, 2008 - 978-1-59426-858-8
$6 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Authors' Backlists: Jude Mason, Augusta Li, Jessie Verino, N, D. Musgrave, Yvette Hines

From "To Have and To Hold" by Yvette Hines:

"Brett is gone." Patricia ran back out of the sanctuary of the church.

Kelli looked at her mocha colored friend with her platinum colored hair cut in a bob around her face. "What do you mean Brett is gone?"

"G.o.n.e. Like as in not at the altar," Patricia emphasized with a sassy tilt to her head.

Gathering the satin and tulle skirt of her wedding gown in her hands, Kelli brushed past her best friend and marched over to the open doorway. Glancing down the aisle to the altar, Kelli expected to see Brett, her fiancé and expectant groom, standing between the minister and his best man, Dan. Scanning the wedding party, who stood up there with odd expressions on their faces, she saw two groomsmen, one bridesmaid and the junior bride. The cute ring bearer and flower girl were making their way down the aisle to the pianist's beat. Gloria continued to play as if she hadn't been told that the groom was absent. But no Brett.

Kelli turned away from the packed church of two hundred guests and faced Patricia. "Where is he?"

Shrugging, Patricia said, "I don't know. When I came out I didn't see him. But everyone is standing around like he just walked away to go to the bathroom or something. When I look at Carl, he just hunches his shoulders."

This is not happening. Kelli's heart felt like lead as it dropped into her stomach. She and Brett had been planning this wedding for the last year. She sold her condominium, because they would be moving to Charlotte where Brett would be working with his father at their law firm. She quit her job, because Brett wanted a stay at home wife. He'd made a big production of her not renewing her birth control because he wanted them to start a family as soon as possible. Now she had less than a month before she would be out.

Anger boiled in her veins and poured out of her heart like hot lava from a volcano. Brett had a lot of nerve to do this to her after everything she'd sacrificed for him. He professed to love her. But if this was his damn idea of love she didn't want any part of it.

"Weren't Dan and Carl driving with him to the church?" Kelli asked, stepping away from the open doorway.

"When it became apparent that Brett wasn't coming out I signaled to Carl to check on him. When he came back out without Brett, Carl pulled me to the side and said that Brett was acting funny this morning and had decided he wanted to drive to the church alone. Said he needed time to think. Carl said Brett seemed fine while they were waiting in the minister's office, but that Brett told them to go out first and start the wedding and that he would be right out. He said that when he went back there to check on him, Brett was gone. When he looked out Father Riley's window Brett's car was gone as well." Patricia grabbed her hand and squeezed as she finished talking.
Carl was one of the groomsmen, as well as Patricia's husband of four and half years. They had met and married shortly after their college graduation. Unlike she and Brett, who had decided to wait until after Brett graduated from law school and passed the bar exam. Now, to have this happen after her years of patience, felt like a slap in the face. "I've heard of the runaway bride, but the groom…" Kelli could feel her throat become thick with emotions. She knew soon she would be in tears. "…this is a first."

"What are you going to do, Kelli?" Letting her hand go, Patricia moved to a side table in the foyer area, grabbed a tissue, and handed it to her.

She wasn't going to cry. No way she would allow herself to break down in the church where she was supposed to be promising her future husband she would love, honor and obey. What a big joke. Kelli figured she looked like she was about to cry. Swallowing hard and taking a deep breath, she shook her head letting Patricia know she didn't want the tissue.

"I don't know." Turning, Kelli marched back to the dressing room she and Patricia had used to change into their wedding attire. She tossed clothes and other items around until she located her purse. "Where are my keys?"

"In my purse. Why?" Patricia sounded unsure of giving her the information. "Kelli, what are you doing? Why do you need the keys?"

Her eyes were beginning to burn as she clutched at pants, tops and shoes, throwing them over the back of the couch. I am not going to cry. When Kelli finally located her friend's purse on the cushion of a couch, she dug inside. She heard Patricia's voice waver with caution.

"Kel, you can't leave."

Swinging around, she looked at her friend who stood beside the open door. Kelli could hear the notes of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin begin to play from the main sanctuary. She wondered if Brett's Aunt Gloria was deaf, dumb, and blind not to see what was going on around her. Over the wedding music murmurs and whispers were beginning to echo through the guests. "The hell if I can't, the groom didn't see an issue with doing it."

Gathering a handful of her dress one hand and her purse and keys in the other, she brushed pass Patricia.

Kelli felt the quick grip of her friend's hand as she halted her exit.

"Who's going to tell the guests what's going on?"

A bark of laughter erupted from her chest as Kelli looked at Patricia and said, "Tricia, as if they haven't figured out by now that the wedding is off. Not going to happen. Then they're not as smart as I am." With that, she pulled her arm away from Patricia and ran toward the door.

"Where does she think she's going?" Kelli heard Mrs. Cardwell, Brett's mom call out to Patricia in her wake. "She needs to talk to the guests."

Kelli shook her head at the woman's audacity and continued racing down the steps of one of the oldest cathedrals in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mrs. Cardwell wanted someone to speak to the people, she needed to locate her damn son.

Pushing all thoughts of Brett and his overbearing mother out of her mind, she sprinted by the black limo decorated with white ribbons and bows and a large sign that said 'Just Married' on the back bumper. In an hour it would have been taking them to the reception. But not anymore. Arriving at her Carolina blue convertible Mazda MX-5 Miata with its hard top, she unlocked the door. Shoving the bulk material of the skirt of her wedding dress into the car, she closed the door, not caring if any of it got trapped in the frame. She would never wear this dress again.

Starting the car, she pulled out of the parking spot and shifted into drive as she pressed the control to make the hard top retract.

"Kelli!" Mrs. Cardwell bellowed, her face noticeably beet red even from the distance. "You get back here this instant!"

Ignoring her, Kelli drove away as the wind pulled her wedding veil from her head, signaling her departure. She watched her rearview mirror as the pearl headpiece that landed in the middle of the road and Brett's mom both became specks.

The feeling of water streaming down her face as she traveled down the street drew her eyes to her face in the mirror. Damn, I'm crying.