THE BRIDE WORE CRIMSON by Adrianne Lee
(November 10, 2015; Forever E-book; The Weddingville Series #2)
EVERY BRIDE WANTS A KILLER WEDDING
Weddingville, Washington, is in the throes of its annual bridal fair. For Daryl Anne Blessing, that means soothing the high-strung brides-to-be who have taken her family's dress shop by storm. Hunky photographer Seth Quinlan is around to provide eye candy and witty repartee-but it's no laughing matter when a diamond ring set disappears from the Ring Bearer Jewelers, followed by a designer gown from Blessing's Bridal Shop.
Daryl Anne hopes the thefts are just the work of a prankster poking fun at the wedding fever that's overtaken the town. But Weddingville's shopkeepers can't afford for the bridal fair to lose its luster. Then business takes a dark turn when a bride is found dead in Flower Girl Shop's fridge. Now, with Weddingville's romantic reputation on the line, Daryl Anne and Seth turn up the heat on their own simmering attraction-and a killer determined to make bridezillas a dying breed . . .
“I followed Seth to the salon. “What’s going on, Quinlan? You’re too distracted.”
“Only by you, Blessing.” He reached for me, but I stiff-armed him, holding him at bay.
“Sweet talk won’t make me forget”—permanently—“what I want to know. Out with it. What was taken from the Ring Bearer?”
Seth looked suddenly more sad than anything else. My stomach dipped. I’d rather have him closed-mouthed than see that regret in his sexy eyes. “What is it?”
“Meg’s ring was taken.”
I heard a gasp and thought it was my own, but Seth was looking past me. I spun around, half expecting my sneaky cousin to be standing there. But who I saw was worse. Meg.
“Granny O’Malley’s ruby ring was stolen?” she sputtered, her eyes the size of giant green marbles. The color drained from her face, her freckles standing out like paint splotches across her pert nose. She opened her mouth to speak. Once. Twice. Three times. Finally she managed, “Why didn’t Troy tell me?”
That’s what I was wondering. I shot a meaningful glance at Seth. “Yeah, why didn’t he?”
Seth looked as disgruntled as a man stuck carrying someone else’s burden. “It’s a detail they, the police, are holding back. Only the thief will know what was taken.”
Meg’s frown deepened, but the confusion faded from her eyes, replaced by a growing horror. I held my breath for an impending emotional storm. She didn’t disappoint. “It’s a sign. It’s that ring. It’s cursed, you know. Granny O’Malley told me so when I was fifteen.”
“She did?” How come I’d never heard about this? “What curse? You never told me about a curse.”
“This wedding is doomed, too, isn’t it, Daryl Anne?” Meg sobbed. “And I haven’t even looked for a gown yet.”
Leave it to my best friend to reduce the disaster of a family heirloom disappearing to a sign from God that she’d never find a happy union. I shook my head. The theft was a sign of something all right. Criminal activity. “There are no such things as old Irish curses.”
There aren’t, are there?
“But in case there are,” I added, totally covering my bases, “it’s probably a good thing that you won’t actually be wearing that ring when you wed Troy.”
Meg’s drowning green eyes stilled on me. “Are you crazy? I can’t marry Troy without that ring. It’s his family tradition.”
Oh. Wow. She’d slipped off the edge of the pier and was sinking into the salty waters of illogic. It couldn’t be called a tradition, could it, if Troy’s granddad gave it to his bride, and his grandson, not his son, passed it on to his bride? It had skipped a generation. I struggled for something to say that would bring her back to the surface of sanity. It came to me in a flash. If the ring was such a tradition, then why had Troy offered her a ring of her choice if she didn’t want to wear the ruby one?
I stopped short of asking this as something else snagged my curiosity. “Exactly what kind of curse did Granny O’Malley tell you was on the ring?”
Seth produced a box of tissues, and Meg snatched a few, blowing her nose and dabbing at her tears.
“Do you remember me telling you that she was a Traveler? Her whole family was.” Meg glanced from me to Seth, explaining, “Irish gypsies. They traveled the countryside in caravans, camping and living together.”
Seth listened, his brow furrowed.
Meg lowered her voice as if afraid she’d be overheard. “She had ‘the vision.’ She knew things. Like fortune-tellers do.”
I restrained from rolling my eyes, but a memory stirred. Granny O’Malley in her long black skirts and puffy-sleeved blouses, always waving her arms when she talked. She wore jangling bracelets on each wrist that clanged like a wind chime made of silverware and gave me the gollywobbles as a kid. You know, that queasy feeling in your stomach when you face something creepy. I shuddered now, recalling. I’d always thought of her as a wicked witch, the kind who’d eat Hansel and Gretel. She spoke in a Gaelic tongue that I never could decipher—which made her that much scarier.
I pinned my best friend with a glare. “What curse, Meg?”
“I’m not sure. I can’t remember exactly. I recall feeling sick at the thought. That her warning was dire. Something about the marriage failing within the first couple of months.”
What? Who would put that kind of a curse on a wedding ring? It was cursed if you wore it? Or cursed if you didn’t wear it? It didn’t make sense. “Are you sure you have that right?”
“Positive,” Meg wailed. “I can’t marry Troy.”
“Huh?” Seth blurted, obviously taken aback by this new development. I could tell his mind was scrambling for a way to make this right. He excelled at rescuing damsels in distress.
Meg might be more than he could handle. I caught her hands in mine, cooed soothing words that I hoped were heard over her soft moans, and realized I could use some comfort myself. The wedding planning hadn’t even begun, and I was once again failing at my major maid-of-honor duty of keeping the bride calm. But how did I fight a curse? Exorcism? A séance? I had no idea. I was out of my depths. My logical side categorized all things paranormal as fiction—great for books and movies and tales around a campfire, but not believable in real life.
Meg, on the other hand, leaned toward all things being possible. Her belief kept me from being too rigid, more open-minded. I pulled her into a hug, and as she cried on my shoulder, I determined that anyone who believed in possibilities deserved a better outcome. I wished her all the love her heart could handle. If marrying Troy would give her that happiness, then someway or another, that needed to happen.
I had to do something. But what? I looked at the problem from all angles and finally realized there was only one way I could fix this for Meg. My solution? Find the person who was robbing the shops in Weddingville and get back that ruby ring. Heck, I’d helped take down a murderer a couple of months ago. A thief was child’s play. Right?
About the Author
Adrianne Lee lives with her husband of many, many years on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State in a pole barn building her husband transformed into an upstairs apartment with a shop below for his hot rods. Adrianne creates her stories on her laptop, in her recliner with her adopted cat, Spooky, curled between her calves, snoozing.