The sun had just dropped below the horizon when Amina entered the dining room. She smiled when her Maid of Honour jumped up from the table and dashed across the room, throwing her arms around Amina.
"Are you excited? I'm excited and I'm not even the one getting married!" Julie shrieked. Amina was about to answer when the door opened again and two men stepped into the room. Julie immediately flew into a panic and tried to push them out again, yelling that it was bad luck for the groom to see the bride the night before the wedding.
"Julie, chill out! Only dogs can hear you now!" cried Horatio. He swept Amina into his arms and carried her out of the dining room, across the hall and into the living room. Amina giggled as she was dropped onto the sofa, Horatio vaulted over the top and landed beside her. Julie and Logan followed a moment later, Julie looked calmer but her face was very red.
"It's bad luck is all I'm saying, tempting fate is what you're doing" she muttered, flopping into a chair. Amina smiled and shook her head, settling into Horatio's chest.
"So, what are we doing this evening? Do you wanna play a board game or something?" asked Logan. He twisted in his seat and stared at the pile of games on the shelf behind them. Horatio snorted with laughter and pushed a hand through his hair.
"What are you twelve?" Logan sighed and clucked his tongue.
"You were the one that didn't want a stag night. I'm not watching telly all bloody night." Horatio scowled, Amina sensed the brewing argument and jumped to her feet.
"Let's play hide and seek. I haven't played that since I was twelve! Julie, you count to a hundred. Go!" Before anyone could argue, Amina turned on her heel and fled the room. She ignored the shouts from the others and ran up the stairs to the second floor, pausing for a moment on the landing before dashing along the corridor and grabbing a piece of twine that hung down from the ceiling. A square dropped down and squares slid down to the floor, Amina hurried up them into the attic as the sound of pounding footsteps in the hallway floated up to her. She pulled the stairs up and crept across the creaking floor; her eyes darted from side to side to find a good hiding place. Amina grinned as she spotted an old chest sitting against the wall behind a screen; she lifted the lid and climbed inside. It was a tight fit and she almost had to bend double to fit inside but she managed to get the lid closed.
Julie finished counting and sighed, leaning her head against the wall. After a few more seconds, she took a deep breath and turned towards the door. She had heard them all go upstairs so she went straight to the steps and headed up to the landing. Something hit the floor with a crash in the bedroom; it was followed by a muffled curse. Julie covered her mouth to stifle a giggle and walked along the corridor, poking her head into the bedroom. A leg was just vanishing under the bed, Julie lifted the edge of the duvet and cleared her throat.
"I found you" she said in a sing song voice. Logan groaned and dragged himself out from under the bed, he was covered in dust and sneezed three times in quick succession.
"Bless you, bless you, bless you" said Julie, laughing. Logan dusted himself off and followed her from the room.
"Horatio's in the bathroom" he said. Julie clicked her tongue and frowned at him.
"You're not supposed to tell me that, it's cheating!" she hissed. Logan rolled his eyes and shook his head. Julie pushed open the door to the bathroom and yanked the shower curtain aside, Horatio was leaning against the tiled wall with his arms crossed.
"Amina's in the attic" he said. Julie sighed and turned away from him, they were no fun. She shoved Logan backwards and pulled the attic stairs down. Julie flicked on the light as she passed through the trapdoor.
Logan and Horatio waited on the landing, whispering softly about the surprise honey moon Horatio had planned. The stopped talking when Julie came back down the stairs and pushed them back into place.
"Where is she?" asked Horatio.
"I dunno but she's not up there. Are you sure you heard her go up to the attic?" asked Julie. They went back downstairs and searched every cupboard before doing the same upstairs but Amina was nowhere to be found.
"Where the Hell did she go?" asked Logan.
"She'll come out when she realizes we've stopped looking" said Logan. They went into the living room and switched on the TV.
Amina didn't come out that night and she didn't show up to the wedding the next day either. Horatio called the police and they searched the house from top to bottom again just to be sure. Julie called Amina's mobile phone over and over again until her battery was drained but they never found her. Amina had vanished into thin air.
A year later, Horatio decided to sell the house and move away to start again. They had never found Amina and the house was too full of memories. Julie and Logan offered to help, the house was almost empty and there was only the attic to sort through now. Horatio folded a screen and laid it aside before turning to a chest in the corner of the room.
"Does that need a key?" asked Julie. Horatio shook his head and sighed.
"No, it has a catch on it that you have to twist. I got stuck in this thing once when I was a kid, you can't open it from the inside. It's here" he said. Horatio twisted a little lever on the side and the lid snapped up. The smell was almost overwhelming; Logan retched and dropped to his knees. Julie pulled at her hair and screamed until she was hoarse. Horatio stared down at Amina, she was bent almost double to fit into the trunk but she was definitely dead. Horatio replaced the lid and sat down on the floor, dropping his head into his hands and sobbing until his voice gave out. At least he knew she hadn't left him.