Maggie Shayne: Weddings from Hell

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Maggie Shayne Weddings from Hell
  • Название:
    Weddings from Hell
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    HarperCollins
  • Жанр:
    sf_fantasy_city / Фантастические любовные романы / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2008
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-06-165246-2
  • Рейтинг книги:
    5 / 5
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Weddings from Hell: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Some marriages are made in heaven . . . Some are not. What happens when "the happiest day of your life" turns into a nightmare? Forget the drunken best man or the bridesmaid dresses from the '80s . . . none of these wedding day disasters can compare to a cursed bride determined to make it down the aisle, or a vampire who is about to disrupt your wedding.

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WEDDINGS FROM HELL

Omnibus of novels by

Maggie Shayne, Jeaniene Frost, Terri Garey, Kathryn Smith

TILL DEATH

Maggie Shayne

Prologue

It was an ordinary Saturday afternoon. Seven-year-old Kira wore bib overalls of faded denim, a striped T-shirt, and copper-red braid that hung all the way to her butt. Her feet were bare, pant legs rolled up nearly to her knees as she waded in the lake. It was too early, Dad said, to go in for a real swim. But wading in the shallows was okay. The water felt just fine to Kira, and she wondered if she should "trip and fall" all the way into the water. Once she was wet, her parents wouldn't see any sense making her get out.

She glanced at the shore, where dandelions were like yellow polka-dots in the lush green grass. Her mom was spreading a plastic tablecloth on the picnic table. It was red and white checks. Kira thought it was silly to bother with a tablecloth at a picnic, but her mom liked things the way she liked things, so she didn't voice her own opinion on the matter. Probably, Kira thought, there were important reasons to use a tablecloth at a picnic—reasons she was just too young to understand yet.

Her dad was standing at the grill, with a big two-pronged fork in one hand and a long-handled burger-flipper in the other.

"Darlin'?" Mom called, her Scottish accent clear, even in that one word. She'd managed to get the flapping tablecloth to stay put by laying her purse on one end, and Kira's shoes on the other.

Dad turned toward her, and when he caught her eye, he smiled.

"Could ya get the cooler from the car? And while ya do, why not move the car outta the sun, so t'willna be like an oven by the time we're ready to leave."

He looked at the parking lot, just up the hill from where they were picnicking, on the shore of Cayuga Lake . "I don't see any shady spots. Do you?"

"Right there, love, beneath the shading arms of that oak tree," she said, pointing.

He followed with his eyes, and spotted the place she had in mind. "Okay," he told her. "Whatever you say."

Kira grinned, because she heard something in his voice that told her he thought moving the car was about as necessary as a tablecloth on a picnic table. But he would never say so out loud. Mom liked things the way she liked them, and there was no point in arguing.

She had skin like cream and hair the same color as Kira's, but wildly curly where Kira's was straight. Her eyes were green, as green as emeralds, her father used to say.

She'd left Scotland to find a husband, and vowed never to go back. She didn't talk about why not, or what had happened there that had made her so very unhappy. And since Kira didn't like seeing her mom unhappy, she didn't ask. She wondered, though.

Dad moved the car to the spot Mom had dictated, then got out and fetched the giant red cooler full of food from the trunk. It was as he carried the cooler around the car and down the hill, that the car began to roll forward.

It started slowly. So slowly, that Kira wasn't sure it was really moving, at first. Mom didn't notice it. She stood by the table with a roll of masking tape she'd unearthed from the depths of her purse. She tore off one strip and then another and then another, using each of them to hold the tablecloth to the table, tucking the tape underneath so it wouldn't show.

Dad didn't notice it either. His back was toward the car as he strode down the hill carrying the huge red cooler with the white top.

But it was moving. It was. It was rolling slowly—then faster, right down the hill toward Kira's parents. She found her voice, shouted, "Mamma! Pappa!"

But instead of looking at the danger trundling toward them, that only made them both look toward her.

"The car!" she cried, and she pointed at it. "Look out!"

Her father turned to look, just as the car rolled past him so close that the mirror on the side knocked the cooler right out of his hands. Mamma turned slowly, and Kira heard her dad shouting her mother's name.

She must have seen it, Kira thought. But not in time.

Kira closed her eyes tight just before the inevitable happened. And by the time she opened them again, the car's nose was in the water.

She lifted her gaze to see how bad things were, even though she was afraid to look. The red cooler lay on its side, its white lid open, their picnic spilled all over the grass. Macaroni salad and rolls and the chocolate cake she'd helped her mamma frost that very morning, lay ruined and broken. Pappa was on his feet, holding one arm across his chest as if something were wrong with it, even as he stumbled down the hill. He had the most horrible look on his face.

Kira looked for her mamma. The picnic table was crushed. She could see a bit of blue beside it, and that must be her mamma's dress. Kira came out of the water, sloshing step by step.

Other picnickers had come running by now, gathering around, looking and pointing. Someone shouted "Call an ambulance!" and others went running to obey. But mostly they were just looking.

Kira crept around the table. By then her pappa was on his knees beside Mamma. And she heard her mother's voice, weak and slurred.

"It's the curse. It's the curse. Oh, Paul, how could ya?"

"There's no curse. You're gonna be fine," Pappa said.

"I'm dying. You have to tell her, Paul. When she's older, tell her. Before it's too late, warn her. Tell her, Paul."

"Mamma?"

Kira had made her way closer, and stood right beside her parents. Mamma's middle looked almost flattened, and there was a lot of blood on the skirt of her blue dress. Her legs lay all twisted and cockeyed, and they didn't move at all. It was almost like her mamma couldn't feel how messed up they were. Her skin was so white. And her eyes looked far away.

She gazed at Kira. "It isna Pappa's fault," she told her.

"I know." Kira sniffed and wiped her nose. "I should have yelled sooner."

"No, baby. This wasna your fault, either." Weakly, her mamma lifted a hand and touched Kira's cheek.

"Stupid car."

"'Twas fate, darlin'. An' now I'm goin'. Not 'cause I wanna, but 'cause I've no choice in the matter. But I'll be with ya always, lass. Always my bonny, bonny girl."

"But Mamma, I don't want you to go."

"Like an angel, love. I'll be watchin' over ya like your own guardian angel."

"No Mamma! No!"

But Mamma's eyes fell closed, and her hand, cold and white, fell away from Kira's cheek and landed with a final thud in the grass.

For the first time in her life, Kira heard her father cry. And then there were sirens and more people. Paul Monroe wrapped his little girl in his arms, and carried her a few steps away to let the paramedics have room to work. But Kira knew it was already too late. Mamma had gone. Kira knew it, had seen it and felt it when it happened.

Mamma had gone. And she'd blamed it on a curse. Kira wasn't sure exactly what that meant, or whether it could even be true. All of the grownups who surrounded her for the next several weeks—her grandparents and aunts and uncles—all on her pappa's side, of course—she didn't know any of her mamma's family—told her that there were no such things as curses.

And for a little while, she believed them. But only for a little while. Once Pappa shot himself in the head, she realized that curses were very real, and very very bad.

Chapter 1

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