A new bride worries that her past will catch up with her.
|Author's Notes: Word count 2249, before notes, titles, pictures, and HML-formatting. Written as a contest entry for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest" Oct. 2013
"Do you, Nicklaus Jackson Rose, take this woman in holy matrimony? To be your lawfully wedded wife, to love, honor, and cherish. To have, and to hold, until death do you part?"
"I do," said Jack as he locked eyes with the amazing young woman standing in front of him. She is beautiful, like a movie star, oh; Mother and father will not believe my luck.
"Do you, Michelle Phillips-Copper, take this man in holy matrimony? To be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, honor, and obey. To have, and to hold, until death do you part."
Michelle returned Jack's gaze, looking deep into his eyes; there was something there, it's like that picture saw. Yes, a little boy standing in front of a candy store window. Oh, is this fair to him. Dare I take the chance? The corners of her mouth reached up high into her cheeks, and her perfect teeth showed behind her succulent lips as she said, "Yes, I do."
"Then by the powers vested in me by the state of Florida, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride," said the justice-of-the-peace.
Twenty minutes later, Jack's Saab 900 convertible was cruising down old Highway 19 heading south, out of Tallahassee. Michelle had kicked off her shoes and put her feet on the dash. She was lazily taking in the sights as they rode through the small, quiet Florida towns.
"Jack this is wonderful. Thank you for putting the top down, I haven't felt this free in a long time."
"I might as well have bought a sedan for as many times as I have put it down. But you were right It's a perfect day for it, I love October, the skies are clear, and the air is cooling off. Yes it's all good."
Twisting in the seat toward Jack, Michelle's brow furrowed as she watched him drive. Should I tell him everything, or will the truth about Dennis scare him? No, keep your mouth shut you stupid twit. Jack's so cute he's got a hard-on for you. Okay, I'll save the truth until next week. How could Dennis find me anyhow I am 3,000 miles away, and I told nobody where I am.
Jack noticed the concern on his new wife's face. "You okay? You're not changing your mind already are you?"
"Oh no, Darling. I'm taking in the sights, but my stomach's growling. I guess my Danish and OJ are worn off." Michelle leaned over letting her hand rub the inside of Jack's thigh as she kissed him on the cheek. "You think we could stop somewhere and grab a quick bite?"
"Sure, certainly, sorry, I wasn't thinking. We are almost to Cross City. There are two restaurants if you don't count the Hardees. We probably need to stop at the store too; I didn't have time to get word to Mrs. Nilson that we were coming."
"Mrs. Nilson? I thought we would be alone?"
"She is the housekeeper, and we will be alone. I'll send her and the handyman off after we get there. I tried to call, but there was no answer. She was probably vacuuming or down in the basement canning. The woman is always cooking and canning."
"Why are we stopping at the store for food?"
"Because she cooks everything from scratch; she says the additives are killing us. She's a fanatic about anything unnatural in the food. So if she's not going to be there; perhaps we should get simple stuff. You know microwaveable, or pop it in the oven kind of groceries."
"Perhaps we should let her stay. I'll keep my clothes on: no reason for her to have to leave her home."
"Hah! I'll be damned! Anyway, she doesn't live in the main house. She stays in one of the guesthouses when I am home and bring company."
"Oh, I see, have you brought a lot of women to your old house on the river?"
"A couple time a year I would take someone down, mostly to satisfy the old girls insisting that she cook fresh stuff for me. What do you care about the past? Darling, you are not getting jealous already."
No, heaven forbid Jack I was just trying to Okay, there's no need to send her away, just ask her to give us the weekend."
"Is there something wrong? You looked worried?" said Jack.
"Ahh ... No, it's just the dÃ©jÃ vu thing again, and I keep feeling like someone's following us."
"It's going to be okay. Soon you won't have any worries; I promise no one is ever going to bother you again."
"Darling, I hope so. I told you I am no saint. Jack, I have never made a secret of the fact that I have a past. It's why I am here and not in LA."
"There will be no more running from your problems; we will face them head on. Do you really think we're being followed?" Jack started watching the rear view mirror.
"No, I am just stupid." Jack's smile eased her concerns. "On second thought, We are on our honeymoon. Let's not stop to eat, your Hardees drive-through sounds pretty damn good right now."
Three hours later, the car pulled off the main highway onto the narrow private road leading to Jack's estate beside the Suwanee River. The huge house at the drive's end surprised Michelle, circled by ancient live oaks all surrounded with pink azaleas it was a picture perfect southern mansion. The majestic three-story looked well cared for. It's brown granite columns went from the ground to the roof, and the rails of the double-decker porches all looked freshly painted.
They parked on the side of the house. Jack got out and opened the car door for his new wife.
Michelle climbed the twenty steps to the porch while Jack tended to their things. When he arrived beside her, she was looking out towards the road.
"Won't be any traffic out there. We are at the end of the road. The nearest neighbor is five miles back. You are more likely to see a boat on the river; one comes down this part every two weeks or so. It's just us, Mrs. Nilson and old Edgar.
"He's the handyman, groundskeeper. I suppose, I should warn you they are a bit peculiar. It's because they are old, but they have been here since the beginning of time, and I can't let them go. They have looked after me my whole life."
"Jack dear, we were not expecting you home so soon. Is everything okay?" said a frail woman as she came outside.
"Yes, everything is wonderful ... Michelle Rose, meet Mrs. Frances Nilson. Mrs. Nilson, this is my new wife, Michelle."
"Pleased to meet you Mrs. Nilson, sorry we weren't able to get word to you we were coming," said Michelle, holding out her hand.
"Oh don't be concerned dear; it is always a joy when Jack brings someone for dinner. Please, do come in."
Once inside, Jack nodded to Michelle in the direction of the wide stairs. "Please, excuse us, Mrs. Nilson, while we get settled in."
She took on a curious gaze and raised her chin almost as if smelling the air. "Jack Dear, are you expecting anyone else?"
Michelle froze in place. Oh no, she knows, God damn it ... how.
"No, Mrs. Nilson, no one else," said Jack.
The couple made it to their room; Jack sat their bags to the side, and Michelle looked white as goose-down when Jack turned to face her.
"Does starting our honeymoon frighten you that much?"
"No, that's not it. Jack, There's something I need to tell you, something about my past. Remember, I told you that I had a past."
Jack moved closer, wrapped his arms around her and let his lips press against hers. He pulled back and started unbuttoning her blouse.
"Whatever it is, it can wait. I am more interested in the present, then the past. I think, I have been most patient with you. Will you not return the favor, and see to the needs of your husband?"
Michelle could not deny the lust in Jack's heart, it raged as ravishing hunger in his eyes.
"Okay, Darling, but after this; we must talk. I need to tell you the whole truth, and it may be hard for you to accept."
"It's a deal," said Jack between his kisses of her neck and shoulder. "I will listen to every word, but there is nothing that you can say now that will change anything."
An hour later and everything was quiet save for some soft panting; Michelle pulled the sheet over herself as she lay on her back beside Jack. "Darling, will you listen to me now?"
"Yes, tell me, tell me everything."
Michelle rolled onto her side and put her hand on Jack's chest. "My ex-husband is a monster. I didn't know it when we got married. But when we were on our honeymoon he killed a store clerk when we stopped for gas. Later he killed the hotel manager where we stopped our first night. On the way back to LA, our car broke down, and he walked to a farmhouse. He came back with a car; he told me the old couple that owned it agreed to let us borrow it for a few days. I didn't know what he was doing until we were back in LA, and I saw the news. Jack, I freaked out when they showed our pictures on TV and said they were looking for us as suspects in nine serial murders. I got up while Dennis was in the shower and ran. I just ran Jack. In Vegas, I filed for divorce and started east, and I have been running ever since. He's here, Jack. I just know it."
"Oh, that's silly. How could he find you here? Nobody knows where we are. They built this place before the civil war: it isn't even on the map. The entire damn Yankee army missed it. Even the electricity comes from our generators. There is no way your Dennis or anyone else could find us."
"You don't know him Jack; he's pure evil."
The noise of shattering glass rose up from the downstairs. Jack got up and opened the bedroom door.
"Stay here, I'll be back in a minute," he said as he slipped naked out the door.
"Wait, Jack! Don't go, please!" But Jack paid no heed to her plea.
Michelle got out of the bed and went to the door. She stood quietly listening. But everything was deadly silent. "Jack ... Jack," she whispered, there was no answer. She opened the door wider and a bloody hand reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder. She screamed and pulled back falling onto the bed. He was on top of her in an instant.
He pulled her hand yanking her up and toward the door. He said, "Come on, Michelle, we have to get out of here. You can't stay here. I won't lose you again. Come on now."
Blood covered Dennis's crazed face and the side of his head. The front of his shirt was soaked in it.
Michelle screamed at him. "Dennis, what have you done? No, I can't do this again, what have you done to them. You bastard, not again! Let me go!"
"You don't understand. You can't stay here. I won't let ..."
'Thud-cur-whack'. The sickening sound of skull giving way to the hammer blow filled the room, and Dennis went limp and fell with a thud onto the floor.
Michelle let out another screech, and she fell back to the bed. Jack set the hammer on the nightstand and slid onto the bed beside her.
Frantic, with tears running down her face, Michelle reached out to Jack. Jack too was now covered in blood there were several cuts on his back.
"Jack, you're bleeding. How bad are you hurt? I am so sorry; I tried to warn you he is a mad man, a crazy murderer who kills for no reason."
"oh, that is bad of him killing without purpose if just sinful, truly sinful, Jack eased in beside Michelle and kissed her cheeks and her forehead.
He said, "Now, now, Darling. I told you nothing was ever going to bother you again, and I meant it."
Jack's hands caressed over his wife's naked body until they were on either side of her jaw. He held her face and kissed her once more. While he did so, his hands moved down around her neck. They began to tighten softly, gently, and Michelle started to relax as the weight of his body rolled over on top of her. The warmth of his kisses comforted her. Michelle felt his hands getting tighter, and his firm hard grip twisting around her neck. She opened her eyes to see Jack was now raised up his arms extended to full length. She tried to scream, but nothing came out.
"Shoosh ... now, Darling, just relax. Let your worries fade."
Michelle resisted, but it was too late. As she lost consciousness beneath her husband's grasp, the bedroom door pushed all the way open.
Jack looked up at Edgar's gray, drooping face, as he stood over them.
"Hello, Father, look what I brought you and mother for supper. Doesn't she look delicious?"