“Ror? Hey, earth to Ror, are you listening to me?”
Rory blinked at Terry, disoriented, until she remembered where she was and what had brought on that heart breaking memory.
Her best friend was now the one standing before the mirror, all dressed in white ivory, in a princess wedding gown, straight blond hair held up by one hand, as she admired her dress.
“Sorry, I got distracted.”
Terry knew what had brought on back that haunted look of dismay in her friend’s eyes, and she wanted to find the man and kill him with her bare hands. She came down from the platform and hugged Rory.
“If this is too much, I can ask your mom to come instead and……”
Rory shook her head vehemently and gave her friend a brave smile.
“No, it’s your wedding and I’ll be damned if I let him ruin another one. I just………..this place has its memories. But we are creating yours, so…” she stood up and helped Terry back on the platform. She knelt down and fixed the long train of the dress and stepped back to admire her work.
“I think you should wear your hair down, maybe a natural flower clip to one side.” Rory walked to the side and demonstrated her idea to her friend.
“Yep. Kyle will flip when he sees you.”
And as painful a reminder as Kyle Dawson was of his ex partner, her ex fiancé, the man who jilted her at the altar two years ago, Rory couldn’t be happier those two had finally stopped denying their feelings for each other and taken the plunge.
“I sure hope so. I had to sell everything short of my soul for this Vera Wang gown.”
Rory chuckled as she recalled the price of the dress and the extra tutoring classes her friend had taken in order to pay for her dream dress. She also remembered her father giving Terry a check to pay for a part of it.
He had done the same with her own dress, though she was sure he wouldn’t be throwing his money away on a useless cause with Terry.
“Tell me about it.”
“Excellent. So now all that’s left is wait for the big day. Can you believe I’m getting married in two weeks?”
“No, time sure has gone by fast.”
If only she could say the same for her broken heart, she’d be able to not have to work so hard at being in the moment with her best friend.
Two years ago, after receiving the news that Owen had left her at the altar, Rory had never thought she’d be able to bear to be in a place like this, let alone help plan a wedding. The fact she wasn’t curled up in a corner, rocking with grief, meant she was making progress.
“Anyway, you need to get going missy. You have that appointment with Luc at five. And don’t make that face, it’s bad for your complexion.”
Terry narrowed her eyes as Rory rolled hers. Luc was her friend’s stylist, who always had a vision whenever he saw Rory, and wanted either to make her a blond, dye her hair with red stripes, or shave it off completely. The only time she’d let him her close to her hair, was when she’d been able to leave her parents’ house after her failed wedding and chop it off above her shoulders, as a way to exorcise the memories of Owen’s hands running through it whenever they’d made love.
“You talked to him, right? No red stripes, nothing over the top, just a simple, easy hairdo, right?”
“That’s why it’s called a test appointment, you can tell him what you want.”
“I’m fine with some mousse.”
“Fine, fine.” Rory lifted both hands in surrender and grabbed her purse.
“Have fun.” Terry called out of the fitting room, and Rory mumbled.
“Sure, I won’t.”
Outside the bridal shop, Rory took out her sunglasses from her purse and put them on. She had come in Terry’s car, and she planned to walk the three block distance to Luc’s. It was a warm June afternoon, and since she’d brought her ballet flats rather than her school heels, she could walk without risking unnecessary foot injury.
She was distracted looking both ways before crossing the street that she failed to see a dark figure stand behind her, before he pulled a knife out of his jacket and pressed it against her back.
“Don’t scream and I’ll let you live.”
Rory went utterly still, but did as the man asked, before she let him lead her down a darkened alley. When he pressed her against the wet, dirty wall, she started to beg.
“Please, take everything. Don’t hurt me.”
“You’re real pretty. I’m sure you’ll do.”
“No, no.” Tears started to roll down her cheeks, and her life good and bad, started to flash before her eyes.
“Shut up. We don’t like them noisy.”
She was determined to scream for help, when another voice made both of them turn around to the entrance of the alley. There was a ring to it that made her heart contract and her breath hitch.
“Hey, dude, what’s taking so long?”
“Just getting to know our new friend.”
“Well, cut the crap and let’s get the hell………..” His eyes widened, when he saw the woman being held by Nathan.
“What?” Nathan asked, annoyed that the boss had sent Patrick before he’d had some fun with the merchandise.
“Nothing. Let’s just go. Leave the woman.”
Nathan, who had never really trusted Patrick, narrowed his eyes his way and then turned back to stare at the pale faced woman.
“No, she won’t.”
“Why the fuck no?”
“She’s too fucking plain, that’s why. How long you think she’d last before killing herself?”
Nathan gave Rory another scrutinizing look, before he realized that maybe he was right. Not much going on with this woman. But hell, maybe he could keep her for himself and…..
“Fine.” It’s not like he couldn’t find her again. Let Patrick think he was running this little outing of theirs.
He slammed her back on the wall. Rory breathed out fast, sobbing, before the two men disappeared into the bright June sun, leaving her behind, as if nothing had happened.
She waited until her legs stopped shaking and ran out of there and back into the shop, where she crouched, hands on knees, trying to get her breath back.
That voice…….no, it couldn’t be, it couldn’t be………
“Ror? I thought you’d left.”
Terry came running to her friend when she noticed her shaking like a leaf, eyes too big with fear, and her breath coming out in loud gasps.
“I……I…..Oh God, Terry.”
Terry let out a shocked cry and gathered Rory into her arms.
“Rory, oh God. What happened?”
“This man…..he had a knife and he………I think he was going to rape me. He…..” She couldn’t even continue, her entire body didn’t stop shaking.
“Oh, Jesus, Ror. Did he touch you? Are you hurt? We should go to the hospital and call Kyle.”
Ror shook her head, wanting nothing more than to get home, lock the doors and just deal with this on her own.
“I’m fine, he didn’t touch me. Another man came and stopped him.”
“No, his partner.”
“Christ, I’m calling Kyle.” She ran back to her purse, shoved her hand inside and was about to dial her fiancé’s number when Rory’s hand shot out and stopped her.
“There’s something else.
Rory swallowed back the bile that had risen the second she’d heard that man’s voice speak to her attacker.
“I think……….I think the other man……..I think it was Owen.”