TWO WEEKS LATER
“Jessica?” Shirley almost shouted into the phone.
“Yes?” a puzzled voice said.
Ah, at last! It finally went through. Shirley had tried contacting Jessica for weeks now and it never was possible. It was today, thank you Lord, she prayed.
“Jess, its Shirley.”
“Shirley?” the voice was cold.
“Yeah, yeah. I have something really important to tell you.”
“Another lie, I guess.”
“What? I don’t get you!”
“You’ve been lying to me.”
Shirley went mute. How did she find out? Had Jessica followed her secretly? Carl had said something? Or her parents? She couldn’t guess.
“Its…. I…. Its….,” she stuttered on the phone. “I…. There’s no time for that now. What I’ve got to say is more important.”
“I don’t have time…”
“Listen to me. Get away from Evan,” Shirley ordered her, like she were a child.
Jessica laughed, a very unusual one. “I’m getting married today.”
Shirley’s heart skipped a beat. Marriage?
“Evan’s my groom. You’d have been here, but you choose to betray me.”
“No! No!” Shirley whispered in a husky tone, “Don’t ever do that!” She wasted no time in telling Jessica the truth. “He will kill you, marrying him will be your worst mistake ever.”
The line went dead.
Jessica hung up.
Shirley stood transfixed, her whole body went numb. Just her mouth opened agape and her eyes popped out. Slowly, her memory came back, she recalled what happened two weeks ago.
**** **** **** ****
“Who are you?” Carl questioned a man of about thirty-two or there abouts all dressed in black. His blue eyes sparkled.
Shirley scanned him through. He was well built.
“I’m Isaac.” he replied calmly.
“Isaac?” Shirley repeated. She’d heard the name before. “Oh. Isaac? As in Jessica’s friend? You’re a bodyguard to Evan?”
Isaac was pleasantly surprised. Jessica had told her friend about him. He feared she might hate him.
“Yeah. How come you know about me and I don’t?”
“Uhm, never mind. Does she know I’m here? How did you find us?” Shirley questioned, her heart throbbing fast. She felt Jessica must have found out about her lies and sent Isaac to get her.
“Nope. She doesn’t.” Isaac replied after thirty seconds.
Shirley heaved a sigh of relief.
“What do you want?” Carl asked. He held his shotgun at him. Didn’t know if it was the right thing to do or not. But surely, this guy can’t be trusted. A bodyguard to Evan.
“To help you,” Isaac was tired of being interrogated, like he was a criminal with an FBI agent. “I am aware that you’re a cop and you want the person that attempted to murder Jessica Jack Peters.”
Shirley and Carl were both surprised. It was a pleasant one indeed. The help they’d both prayed for and wanted had finally come. They both smiled.
Carl was cautious, he prayed it wasn’t a trap. He searched Isaac before letting him in. Isaac was armed, Carl took the guns from him.
“Tell us, how do you intend to help us.”
Shirley sat close to Carl, opposite Isaac. She had her eyes all over him. He was an interesting man and what he had to tell them must be interesting.
“Her enemies are not here, they’re back in Chicago.”
Shirley’s eyes widened.
Carl grinned. He thought as much.
“Currently, I’m working for them. They want her dead, her money. Her father had been poisoned to death. Due to their brilliance, all tracks had been covered and the cops couldn’t get them. The same people wants to kill her.”
“Who are they?” Shirley threw at him.
“Richmond and Evan.”
Carl didn’t know Richmond, but that same name, Evan came again.
Shirley couldn’t believe it. “You mean, Rich? He works in the same hospital as she!”
“Yeah, yeah. His getting that job was all part of our scheme. There’s big money, you know.”
“Why are you betraying them?” Carl asked.
“I was forced into it, they’ve ruined my life in the past and they wanna do it again. I can’t let them.”
“Hmm. Who is the master mind?” Carl wanted to know if he’d been right.
Isaac was silent for few minutes. He too, ruined his life. “Its her cousin. Dominic.”
Carl’s suspicion had been confirmed. Carl smiled and glanced at Shirley. She rolled her eyes. She knew too but never wanted to admit it.
Isaac continued: “We call him Boss. His uncle Simon had named him ‘the-Devil.’ whatever his reasons are for plotting her death, I do not know.” He checked his watch. “Time is up. I need to go now. They’d be searching for me.”
He suddenly remembered, “You’ve got to leave this town as soon as possible. We came here for you. Carl, you’re wanted dead. We need Shirley alive, Boss is obsessed with her.”
He stood up to leave. “Dominic has a collection of daggers. Be careful and please, help me save Jessica.” He pleaded.
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Isaac hadn’t mentioned marriage. If he had, probably they’d have sped up their trip back. Carl’s, Jessica’s and Isaac’s life were all in danger. Why was she exempted? She’d rather die with them than be Dominic’s girl. People were cruel.
Jessica was her problem now. She was going to get married to death. Evan would be her worst nightmare. The trust wasn’t there. She got angry. She doesn’t know I’m trying to protect her? Sticking my neck out for her!
“We’re leaving now,” Carl broke into her thoughts. “Bett will stay behind. He’s getting better, but they’re trailing us – me.”
She picked her bag as they both strolled out of the suit. Her mission to Orlando had been accomplished, now she had to get back to complete it.
Shirley was dressed in black trouser and jacket. Her hair was tied in a pony tail. She had gun holsters around her hips. She wore no make up, she looked pretty still. Carl was clad the same way…. Just that his hair was parted and not as long as Shirley’s. They both looked tough.
The war had just began.
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**** **** **** ****
Shirley should be crazy, thought Jessica. How would she tell her not to get married and on that very day? Nonesense. She’d made up her mind and there was no going back. She’d closed her heart to everyone, excluding Evan and her mother. She’d never let herself be crushed, she felt she was doing the right thing. Little did she know she was very wrong, creating her problems, making her mistakes.
Mrs. Beauty was very excited the evening Jessica announced her wedding with Evan. Seeing that happy face, those lovely smiles, Jessica’s joy increased. She was livng for her mum alone.
Jessica’s hardened heart got her blind to the fact that she wasn’t really happy. She never loved Evan. Being blind to her emotions, she wanted to be strong. She was doing that the wrong way. Her wedding wasn’t what she’d always dreamed of – a grand wedding at the beach, with lots of family and friends – especially Shirley. Being in a white flowing dress, beaming with joy and getting married to the one she loved. That wasn’t the case. The marriage was to be a small court wedding with just 4 in attendance including the Judge, making them 4. Shirley wasn’t going to be there. She wasn’t going to be in a white wedding dress but in a black trouser suit. She wasn’t marrying who she loved, but out of spite and revenge. She wasn’t really happy, she was depressed, making others happy.
“Honey, hurry down. They’re here,” she heard her mother call.
She hurried up from the bed, she saw the pillow was wet, touched her face. It was then she realized she’d been crying.
Hurrying, she dried her face and applied mild make up. She took her hand bag and ran down.
* * *
The drive to the court was smooth and tensed. Jessica hadn’t smiled nor laughed. She’d even be scared of Evan on seeing him in her living room. The words Shirley told her replayed itself, “He will kill you, marrying him will be your worst mistake.” Her cell had been ringing, she refused picking up. It was Shirley calling. Didn’t want anything ruining her day. The cell kept ringing, frustrated, she switched it off.
* * *
“Miss? Hello?” the Judge beckoned to Jessica.
She quickly snapped out of her thoughts.
“I’m sorry,” she apologised.
“Do I repeat the vows?” the Judge asked.
“Please do.” She bent her head. What was happening to her? She wanted this marriage. She rose her head to face the judge. A man in his mid-fifties.
He kept on saying with with cracked voice, “. . . . . .take Evan Daniels to be your lawfully wedded husband. . . . . . .?”
She glanced at Evan again. He was smiling at her. He’d taken his vows. She sighed.
They exchanged rings.
Evan’s smile turned to a grin.
“Please sign,” the Judge passed them the marriage certificates to sign.
They did as they were told.
“I now pronounce you, Man and Wife.”
There was an applause from the Judge, Mrs. Beauty and Richmond.
Evan kissed his bride for the first time. The kiss was brief. It was good but no where close to Isaac’s. She felt nothing.
“May the witnesses come and sign.”
They both did.
Beauty hugged her daughter and congratulated her. Richmond shook Evan.
They took some pictures.
Jessica was now Mrs. Evan Daniels.
TWO WEEKS LATER