Tara’s eyes sparkled and she clapped her hands in excitement. She peered through the darkened rear windows of the white limousine as it pulled up in the driveway of the Bethel Anglican Church. She let out a tiny squeal and made a mental note of all the vehicles she recognized in the parking lot.
Tara and her fiance, Dan, had been dating for the past 6 months. She thought his marriage proposal was a bit quick, but as they were so in love, she accepted before the words had fully exited his lips. She was also very much attracted to his mature ways. She was 26 years old and he was 19 years her senior, and he seemed to know so much more about the ways of the world. The two had met through a mutual friend at his company’s event.
The bride looked out of the left window, then leaned over her maid of honor, Nikki, to see what was happening on the other side. Nikki shared in Tara’s joy – she was her best friend after all – but felt very apprehensive about whirlwind romances. She had always thought Tara was a bit naive when it came to her relationships with men. The joy on Tara’s face though, was enough for Nikki to keep her comments to herself today. This was to be her friend’s special day, she told herself, and no expenses had been spared on this event.
Tara beamed as she examined her engagement ring for the umpteenth time. She grinned and clapped her hands again.
“Nothing can ever go wrong today! I can’t wait to be ‘Mrs. Daniel McKenzie’!”
Debra sat in the church pew fanning herself and checking her wristwatch ever so often. She saw the white limo pull up into the church parking lot and assumed this must be the bride’s ride. What the heck was her father thinking getting married to this bubble-head? Had he not done this before and how did that turn out? She had barely gotten to know his last wife when he told her they were getting a divorce.
She scanned the gathering of roughly 100 guests in the church hall and wondered how many of them had attended her father’s previous wedding ceremonies. Her mind wandered as she tried to remember whether she had locked her apartment door properly.
At 22 years old, Debra was the eldest of Dan’s four children. She regarded the 26 year old Tara with curiosity. Why would a young woman marry a man who had already been married four times? And he was so old! She had assumed Tara was just a passing fancy. Imagine her surprise when he informed her that they were getting married! Her mother must be turning in her grave.
As she watched the limo stop at the back entrance of the church, she glanced up at the top end of the aisle at her father. He beamed at her and gave her the “thumbs’ up” sign. She thought: “I’m never getting married”, smiled, and returned the gesture.
Daniel sat in the first pew of the church, with his hands clasped and elbows on his knees. His left leg seemed to have a mind of its own and tapped along to its own rhythm. Tiny beads of sweat formed and reformed on his brow no matter how many times he patted his face with his handkerchief. His morning suit was starting to feel heavy and hot.
“You’d think that after doing this four times before I’d get the hang of it by now,” he whispered to his best man and business partner, Eric.
Eric replied, “You think that after doing it four times before, you’d have figured out by now what you’re not doing right.”
Dan smiled and replied, “Well, maybe five times is the charm.”
He mopped his brow again.
The most recently divorced Mrs. Daniel McKenzie looked in the rear-view mirror of her Mercedes as she checked her perfectly coiffed hair. Not a wrinkle to be found in that reflection, she thought, and her finger smoothed along under her right eye. She was a stunning beauty at 28 years old and still bitter about the short 12-month marriage and subsequent divorce. She was the only one of Dan’s exes who had not borne him a child. Didn’t want to deal with the stretch marks, she told him, after they had tied the knot. Besides, she said, he already had four. Perhaps that was the deal-breaker, she now thought, checking her lipstick in the mirror.
In the church parking lot, she watched the white limo drive into the courtyard and park at the rear. She saw the bride exit the vehicle and walk towards the rear of the church with someone she guessed was her maid of honor.
“So,” she thought, “this was going to be my replacement. Pretty.”
She picked up her purse with the loaded pistol inside and exited her vehicle.