Prologue: Caught in the Storm
The day was ideal for disaster. Thunder, rain and lighting decorated the skies. Water was everywhere; the streets were flooded, basements filled with at least an inch of rainwater. Everywhere, people were running in a vain attempt to escape the storm. They ran into stores, cars, buildings, it didn't matter. They only cared for shelter.
She was in the church that day. Her head bent, almost-black hair brushing against the carpeted floor. She was soaked, rain and tears spread on her face, mixed with the make up she had happily applied forty eight hours earlier. Her veil stuck to her face and bare back, but she didn't care. She curled up against the floor, hands hitting it as though it might provide some answer to her disaster.
Her wedding dress was tattered; the bottom was soaked in mud and water, ripped from her run through the streets. Some of the mud had splattered farther up against her bodice. The girl's five foot frame trembled as she heaved whole, heart-wrenching sobs.
Her family hovered around her, her sister, her mother, her father, the priest… Only her brother stood apart, hand clenched into a fist as he stared out the window, watching the storm.
She shuddered away from her sister's touch.
"Andie, you have to get up. We have to go."
"No, no… God, no…" She kept repeating the words over and over, curling up into a tighter ball, hand digging into the carpet.
"Andie, please… You haven't eaten anything in almost two days. Please…" It was her mother this time, tone pleading, tears streaking her own face as she took in her daughter's broken figure.
"NO!" The girl screamed, hitting her mother's hand away. "I said no! Something had to have happened… He wouldn't have…"
"Andie, we called all of the local hospitals, all of his friends… There's nothing…"
"Stop it!" She tore at her veil, childishly placing her hands over her ears as she cried. "Stop it! He couldn't… He wouldn't… stop!"
Every figure in the small room froze, daring not even to breath as they turned to the figure in the doorway. They'd been so caught up in the girl's suffering that no one had noticed the door open. Andie stumbled to her feet, wobbling as though she were a child, eyes wide as they looked at the familiar frame.