To Have or to Hold
- 104.7K words
After jilting her fiance at the altar, Becca needs to escape fast. Fleeing on her honeymoon on her own, there she meets the handsome and generous Jace, who is willing to look after her and is worlds apart from the ex she once loved. But how well does she know Jace Morgan? And is he really all that he seems? Still, waters run fascinatingly deep, in this delectable romantic suspense.
Chapter 1 - The Not-So-Great-Escape
This was not how I pictured my big day.
This was not how I was supposed to look.
My heart pounded as the sound of the crowd churned through my hearing.
I was supposed to be the picture of wedded grace, marrying the man I loved, and not wanting to be anywhere but here.
Face-down and lying at the foot of the church steps, my dress screwed up above my head, with a weight hanging off my foot - a weight which I couldn't make out - this was nowhere near a great escape.
The crowd around me rumbled with a sense of wondering whether I was still alive, or whether I'd managed to knock myself out on the church step. What was a spectacle in the first place, was now an eye-sore.
"Let me help you up," came the irritating voice of my groom.
"Piss off," I hissed, finding the floor with my palms, and scrambling to my feet, whilst fighting with a dress that was once pearly white, but was now creased and stained from the dewy underfoot of the church entrance.
Managing to stand, I realized what the weight was that was clinging to my ankle - it was my page boy, my nephew, who hadn't realized that he needed to let go of the back of my dress when I'd decided to make a bolt for it. My nephew, who was now lying on the floor, belly down, was looking at me like I was the life jacket on board the Titanic. Was he okay? I hope so. I couldn't process what to do to help him through my own need to desperately escape.
My sister, who was chief bridesmaid, was scrambling through the crowd of people, trying to aid her four-year-old son in standing up, as I scanned around the array of people that I wished would disappear. After today, at least half of these people wouldn't be talking to me again, yet in this equation, I certainly wasn't the bad guy.
"Have you hurt yourself?" he asked, with a feigned expression of concern as he reached out to me.
"Don't ever touch me again," I growled, moving my hands away from him and gaining some form of balance. "I'm outta here."
For the second time, I gained traction and made a bolt for it.
"I didn't mean it! Come back, Becca!"
Those words made me stop in my tracks as if they were laced with lead. Approaching the church gates, I whirled around to be met with the sea of people filtering out of the church to watch the scene unfold, with my darling fiancé, Scott, halfway down the path, with the wonderment of whether he should try to approach me, filling his hazel eyes.
"You didn't mean it?!" I screeched.
"Yeah, I didn't mean it!" he cried, now looking more pathetic and desperate than ever.
"You didn't mean to screw my friend?! Who is also my bridesmaid?!"
The crowd gasped, as my so-called friend, Lisa, emerged from the sea of people.
"But we love each other!" she cried out as if that was going to make me soften to the situation.
Oh, Lisa, please forgive me. I didn't realize that there was love involved. Please, take my fiancé, and while you're there, take my dress, too. Here, the church is ready and waiting for you both
"You, you cow!" I raged at her. "Have him! Thanks for saving me the trouble of marrying a cheating prick!"
Turning away from them both, the wedding car was in sight, and I could feel the relief in hiring what would now become my getaway vehicle, instead of having to hail a taxi - although it would've been less of a waste of money. Reaching the road that the car was parked on, the chauffeur jumped out, not knowing what to do with himself, yet all I needed him to do was drive - fast.
"Bugger," I whispered, feeling a crunch of something underfoot, and through the wobble that was taking place underneath my ankle region, it was apparent that my heel had snapped. Now, instead of walking quickly, I was kind of wobbling from side to side in a much slower fashion than I wanted to move.
"Becca! Becca!" I could hear Scott shouting, with his voice edging nearer, meaning he was gaining on me.
Quickly stopping and whipping the damn shoes off, I was now sprinting to the car, whilst grabbing hold of my dress so I didn't trip over the stupid thing again.
"Drive! Drive!" I shouted at the chauffeur whilst maniacally waving my arms at him, as he scrambled back into the car and I bundled myself in the back.
Due to the size of my dress, I'd managed to get in head-first, yet I couldn't move from the face-down position to sit on the back seat, because I was wedged in tight. So now, with my dress flipped above my head, the car was driving away with me showing my arse to everyone who was standing outside of the church and watching on.
I hadn't even managed to close the car door behind me, so with that flapping to and fro in the breeze due to the speed of the car, I prayed it didn't hit any other vehicles that were parked up because there's no way I wanted to be lumped with an extra bill for this speedy getaway.
"Where am I driving you to?" the chauffeur asked, looking mildly panicked about the scenario.
"Er, hold on." I puffed and panted, trying to haul myself up from the car floor and take a more ladylike position on the back seat.
Man, my hands were burning from where I'd toppled on the church steps.
"Is the luggage in the boot?" I asked, trying to blow my hair and veil out of my face and finally parking my backside properly on the leather interior.
"Yes, it is," he replied, warily eyeing me in the rear-view mirror.
"The airport, then. Please hurry," I answered, grabbing hold of the flapping car door to finally close it and looking out of the back window, to make sure that I wasn't being followed.
Luckily I wasn't, and I would explain the details of what had happened to whomever really needed to know when I got back. I couldn't go back home - my cheating, scumbag fiancé would follow me back there, and I needed some headspace to think about this situation.
Thankfully, the tickets and luggage for what was meant to be our honeymoon were packed in the boot of the car, as this vintage vehicle was supposed to take us to the airport when the day was through, yet I was going to be utilizing everything much earlier than expected.
With my head swimming with thoughts about what the start of this brilliantly awful day had consisted of, and after a few hiccups in the traffic department, we eventually arrived at the airport, and I was glad to be in a place where there would be nobody who knew me. I couldn't have faced the questions, sympathy, or anger, at my current situation, so a week away in the sun to clear my head sounded like bliss.
I had to escape.
"Is everything okay?" the chauffeur asked, retrieving my luggage from the boot.
Did it look okay? I was stood, in the car park of an airport, groomless and in a ruined wedding dress. This was far from 'okay' and wasn't anywhere near the word that I would've used to describe this scenario.
"I'm fine," I lied, taking my luggage from him.
"Do you need help carrying it in?" he asked.
"No, thank you. I'll find a trolley. Thanks for bringing me here," I replied, heading off toward my destination, suitcase and flight bag in hand.
"Good luck!" I heard him shout after me.
I needed it.
Dragging my suitcase along behind me whilst trying not to catch it on the hem of my dress, I made my way into the airport to seek some solace. I prayed that nobody at the church had cottoned on as to where I had escaped to, but once I was through security, I would be nicely shielded from any interfering busybodies.
Grabbing a trolley and trying to look relatively normal in a crowd of casually - and sanely - dressed people, I could feel the burn of stares heating my back. If it wasn't for the fact that I was wearing a bright white dress, which was also donning brown mud marks in different places from where I'd fallen over, and bare-footing it along the floor of the airport, I probably would have been stared at because of the incessant squeal which was unhelpfully emanating from the wheel of the trolley.
It was one of those wheels that looked drunk, wobbly, and was constantly trying to head off in the other direction, whilst announcing at the top of its voice to the other wheels that it wasn't drunk, it was totally fine, and was capable and in control.
As if I needed any more attention than was already being directed toward me.
With whispers and stares carving my pathway, I went to check in and then realized that I had hours to spare before my flight: Hours of sitting around and looking like a complete twit in a creased and dirty wedding dress.
Getting through security was a bundle of laughs, and yes, I was being sarcastic. The real reason that they didn't have airports in the olden days, was because nobody could fit through the scanners in a poofy dress. The inventor of the airplane probably thought it wise to hold off on inventing anything that could fly, when women were incapable of sitting on a plane normally, and not having to take up a row of seats with a humongous underskirt. How women used to wear these types of dresses on a daily basis was beyond me.
Checking the clock once again, at this precise moment in time, in a parallel universe, I would have just finished taking my vows and have been making my way to the wedding reception with my new groom; not getting scanned over by security staff that were wondering whether I was wearing this dress for a bet, whether I was plain loopy, or whether I was trying to smuggle copious amounts of cocaine out of the country. Although I was sure there were more discreet ways of doing so. This was hardly the nimblest, drug baron attire.
After checking in and being in receipt of the unwelcomed, amused stares from the airline staff, I decided that first things first - I was going to have to get changed out of this ridiculous get-up. There was no way I could sit around for hours in a muddy wedding dress and have any more of the psychological torment of strangers whispering about me. This day had been tough enough without adding to it.
Spotting the ladies' toilets in the distance, was my port of call. It was the first thing on my to-do list to get changed and blend in with the crowd. Today of all days, I wanted to blend, because I needed to mope in peace. I could see some looks of wonder etched on the faces of mainly ladies, who'd probably caught on to the fact that I'd obviously run away from a wedding but didn't know why. Maybe they thought I had jilted the groom? Not quite.
Hauling my flight bag over my shoulder, it dawned on me that I was missing something crucial - my luggage. I'd handed it in!
"Damn blasted, effing nuisance" I hissed under my breath.
There was no way I could strip off to my underwear - I'd get thrown out of the airport. Nobody ordered a stripper.
Spotting a clothing shop in the distance, I was saved! Hotfooting it in bare feet over to the shop, I hadn't realized how much my feet were starting to hurt, and the white stockings I was wearing had ripped at the toe, and the little piggy that cried "wee, wee, wee," all the way home, was poking out and being grazed along the floor.
Entering the shop was another barrel of laughs, with the sales assistants immediately turning their attention to me. Before I even had a chance to start browsing, one of them came over to me and looked me up and down.
"Can I help you?" she asked, not knowing whether she should be asking a crazy woman that or not.
A Valium and a shot of Tequila would be lovely, thanks.
"Yeah, I need something comfy to change into. Something simple, and some shoes," I replied, flashing my bare, holey, stocking-clad foot out from under the dress.
"Of course," she spoke, heading off with me in tow.