Cassie stood in front of the mirror and admired her beautiful satin dress. The long white material billowed about legs and clung to her torso, fitting her figure perfectly. It was a little tight, but it would have to do. As for the trail, it appeared almost endless. It would make for an interesting trip down the aisle. Her best friend and maid of honour, Emma watched her in awe.
"You look beautiful."
Emma shyly approached the mirror. She too was wearing a gorgeous dress except it was a lot shorter than Cassie's and was baby blue to match her startlingly bright eyes. She shrugged as she stood beside the bride.
"I look alright."
"You look stunning!"
"Sure." Emma said, not sounding too convinced. She backed away from the mirror and a smile suddenly appeared on her face, as if she'd had a brilliant idea. "Give us a twirl."
Cassie looked down at the pool of fabric that simply lay on the floor around her feet.
"I'll fall over!" she complained.
"I can catch you if necessary."
"Fine." Cassie grumbled. She lifted her skirts as best as she could and attempted to spin. Her new shoes snagged on the dress and sure enough she found her friend supporting her. "What did I tell you?"
She soon found herself facing her reflection once again.
"Do you want to practise your vows?"
"Yes." nodded Cassie.
The bride said nothing other than what she longed to say in church, but the thought went unsaid between the two friends. Today was her day, everything had to go perfectly. The more she thought about it the more nervous Cassie became. Emma, who had known the woman for several years, sensed this.
"Let's stop there. You're going to get married an hour's time, you need to unwind."
"Thanks. I – I just need some air."
"Do you need help with your dress?"
Cassie looked down at the long trail.
Emma laughed and gathered up the fabric beside her friend's legs. When they were both ready Cassie opened the door and started to make the long trip downstairs. Emma followed behind, holding back anything that could cause Cassie to trip. Finally they got to the bottom. Emma handed the pile of fabric back to the bride.
"If you need me I'll be in the living room with everybody else."
Emma opened the door by her side. Cassie could hear the sound of cheerful laughter and wine glasses clinking. The wedding hadn't even started yet. She hoped her brother wouldn't get too drunk.
She slowly made her way towards the garden. Not wanting to destroy her wedding dress with dew, she stuck to the patio and dropped her trail behind her. Cassie wanted so desperately to pace up and down, but she knew she didn't have the space or freedom for that kind of panic. To be honest, she didn't even know why she was afraid. Tom had told her many times that he loved her and she had returned the favour. Tom wouldn't lie to her, she could always tell when he was lying. Or could she?
"Stop it." she muttered to herself.
"Talking to yourself are you? They say it's the first sign."
Cassie grimaced. She'd recognise that irritating voice anywhere.
"What are you doing here Danny? Shouldn't you be with Tom?"
Danny was Tom's best friend and best man. He was also the most annoying, obnoxious person Cassie knew, the amount of arguments he sparked was ridiculous. She dreaded to think what his speech would be like at the after party. His drunken manner would only make matters worse. But unfortunately for Cassie, he was also a photographer. On hearing about the pair's happy news he had insisted on taking all the pictures necessary for the ceremony. Initially Cassie had been set completely against it but he then gave them a bargain they couldn't refuse. Danny had offered to do the service for no charge, claiming it would be his wedding present for the happy couple. Cassie, knowing they barely had enough money to afford a honeymoon, reluctantly agreed but she had a nasty feeling she was going to regret it.
"Oh I've got plenty of pictures of him. You however, are a sight for sore eyes Cassles. Let's have a look at you."
Cassie stayed facing away from him. She hated that nickname - Cassles sounded far too similar to the word castles and it made her sound like some old building kids visited on school trips.
"How many times must I tell you? Don't call me that! I'm not ready for pictures yet."
"Temper, temper. Someone's moody."
"I'm allowed to be moody, it's my wedding day."
Danny moved so he was facing her. Cassie smirked at his appearance. His wild blonde hair was out of control and sticking up in all directions as usual, she could tell from the nauseating stink of gel that he'd attempted to tame it but only half-heartedly. Tom had once told her it took a whole bottle of the stuff to make Danny's hair behave.
"You're meant to be happy."
"I am!" Cassie snapped, in a tone that sounded anything but.
"Now, now Cassles," said Danny in that patronising tone. "don't freak out on me." Cassie moved further away from him onto the patio that stretched through the garden. Now she stood just in front of the washing line. Once again the irritating photographer was left behind her. He sighed. "I'd prefer it if you didn't sulk on me either. Come on darling, I just need to get a few pictures."
Cassie made to move away again but Danny put his foot down, literally. She glanced behind her to see what was holding her back and let out an ear-splitting screech.
"Get your muddy boot off my wedding dress!"
"Okay! Jeez!" exclaimed Danny, flinging his hands up in surrender. Cassie twisted, trying to examine the damage the best man may have just inflicted on her beautiful dress. "It's not that bad." he said casually.
Cassie's eyes narrowed, she didn't trust the man for one second. Then she spotted the huge footprint left on the material.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" she shouted.
"Easy, we can fix this in a jiffy."
Before Cassie could protest Danny grabbed the fabric of her dress and pulled. She winced at the tearing sound.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
The noise stopped almost as soon as it had started. Cassie turned around to face Danny and was alarmed by the pile of fabric by his feet. She stared at her dress. The bottom was framed by a ragged edge where Danny had torn off the fabric containing the shoe mark. The photographer was holding a large pile of material, including the broken remains of her enormous trail. He dropped it to one side carelessly, picked up his camera and snapped a shot of the shocked bride as she gaped at him. The bright flash blinded her and for a minute they stood in silence whilst her eyes adjusted to daylight. Danny grinned. He looked her up and down.
"Well I think it's an improvement Cassles."
At these words Cassie's shock turned to anger and she gave the man a vicious slap. Danny, who'd somehow managed to remain completely ignorant as to the consequences of ripping off half of a girl's wedding dress, was not expecting the force the bride put into the slap and fell backwards into the washing line. His arms flailed as he fell, reaching out to the pole which held up the line in the hope of slowing or stopping his descent, but this only tugged the rest of the washing line down with him. Most of the drying clothes dropped onto the ground. He twisted as he fellHe tw in an attempt to avoid the remaining line but it only seemed to ensure his course. Danny collided with the cord. The force of his impact plucked the line from the poles and it wrapped around his neck as his head hit the ground. At first Cassie stared at him triumphantly. But something was wrong. The first thing Cassie noticed was that his hands were shaking. They frantically went to his throat trying to remove the cord but the line had secured itself tightly. Danny gasped, trying to gulp in air to speak but to no avail.
His eyes bulged as he opened his mouth again.
"He-elp" he croaked.
"Oh my god." gasped Cassie, realising the seriousness of the situation. The washing line was strangling her best man. "I – I'll be right back."
She ran inside the house and into the kitchen, glad that she could move freely but still annoyed at how the photographer had destroyed her dress. She knew the cord was thick and that no scissors would cut it. Cassie scanned the work surface and found what she was looking for. A knife.
She darted back outside. Already Danny's condition looked worse. If anything he'd made his bonds tighter and a hint of blue tinted his face. She knelt down beside him. He was barely conscious but still seemed alarmed at the sharpness of the metal in her hand. She carefully started to saw through the cord, at first it appeared to be working and the shaking of her hands lessened. She could tell from the relieved look on Danny's face that he agreed with her. But then Cassie got to a tougher layer of the cord. She couldn't break its grip on Danny. She pressed the knife against it as hard she could. Then the cord snapped and the knife ripped through into Danny's flesh. Cassie squealed and jumped back as blood spurted out at her. Danny's eyes rolled back into his head and his hands fell to his sides. She stared. He was dead. She had killed him. She felt hysterical, but most importantly how was this not going to ruin her wedding day?
If she called an ambulance she'd become a suspect - besides they wouldn't be able to do anything for him and there was no way she was going to be caught kissing another man on her wedding day, even if it was CPR. Cassie realised she had one option left and with that she picked up Danny's feet and dragged him into the house. Thank god everyone was busy in the living room. She tugged Danny so they were by the under the stairs cupboard and opened the door. She didn't stop to examine what she would be covering in Danny's blood; she just shoved him in as quickly as she could manage. She locked the door behind her and turned to find that a long trail of blood covered the carpet. There was a pool of it in the garden too. She raced upstairs to the bathroom and rapidly came down the stairs armed with blood stain remover and got to work. Fortunately Cassie found that it came out relatively easy. But she knew the stains in the garden would be tough to cover up. She knelt down scrubbing at the carpet and was halfway through removing the trail when Emma emerged from the living room.
"Cass the limo is going to be here soon – " she trailed off and eyed her friend curiously. "I see you found the wine." Cassie's eyes widened - wine – the perfect excuse! She made an act of standing up drunkenly and turning to face her friend. Emma gasped. "Oh Cassie what happened to your dress?"
"Danny happlened." the bride slurred.
"Where is that idiot? He's going to be in so much trouble when I get my hands on him –" Emma ranted. Emma rarely got angry, she was normally quite shy but when something wound her up she could yell pretty loud. Cassie looked down at her dress whilst her friend raged and noticed a rather large blood stain streaked across the bottom half. She felt sick. This was going to wreck her wedding, but a more important issue was at hand. Emma wanted to find Danny. "He is so dead!" Emma finished.
Cassie smiled at the irony and hoped that her friend's shouting wouldn't attract too much attention.
"He's not going to be at the wedding."
"What? He's the best man!"
Emma seemed to have changed her tune rather suddenly.
"I told him to piss off and for once I think he listened."