Disclaimer: I don't own Hellboy and company. I'm just playing with them for my own twisted pleasure. I promise to give them back in good condition. Eventually.
Author's note: To all of my wonderful faithful readers, Beth E., Underwater Owl, Dragoneyes, all of my friends over at the Hellboards, and anyone else I might have missed, thank you so much for reading and reviewing my stuff for so long. Here's the latest story. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get this up, but in the short time I've been writing, never have I revised a chapter more than this one. But this chapter is done, and there will be more on the way. So enjoy, and of course, please review.
"You may kiss the bride," the priest says.
A loud cheer fills the church. Their lips meet and I sigh. I just hope my wedding is just as wonderful next month. I glance up at the front pew and see Grandmother dabbing the tears away from her eyes with a lace hanky before it ruins her make up. I look at Aunt Stephanie and see that she's openly crying with a huge smile on her face. Uncle John looks so proud I'm afraid that the buttons on his shirt might burst. Their reactions are not too surprising since Jeff is their only son.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the priest drags my attention back up to the happy couple. "I would like to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Cantrell."
Another cheer echoes through the church as Jeff and Pat take their first steps as husband and wife. Music fills the room as first the wedding party and then the guests file out. I'm happy for my cousin, but a little sad knowing that there's no way that other than my grandmother, Sharon and Vicki, will any of my family be at my wedding. In fact, other than Sharon and Grandmother, no one even knows about it. I've even moved my engagement ring to the other hand so as not to raise suspicion.
A short time later, the happy couple is still in the church with the photographer, wedding party, parents, grandparents, and siblings doing the photo shoot thing, and I'm standing outside the church waiting for them to finish so that we can go to the hotel for the reception. A cool breeze blows in off of the sea and gently plays with the skirt of my dress while I play with the small bag of bird seed one of the flower girls gave me. Various family and friends are milling around outside talking.
I walk over to the edge of the lawn and look out over the Pacific Ocean. I can see why they wanted to get married here. Carmel, California is just beautiful. The sky is a crystal clear blue and it's actually very nice day, not as cold as I feared it would be when I woke up this morning to a thick heavy fog. I could hear the light house sounding its horn in warning to passing ships as I left my room when I went to get breakfast at the hotels' restaurant.
As a particularly large wave hits some rocks just off shore, my thoughts turn like always back to Abe and I sigh. Ever since he found out about the waiting a year and a day rule, he's been about as passionate as a monk. The most I can get out of him is a hug and a kiss. If I even think about doing anything frisky, he either grabs my hands until I swear to behave myself or moves out of range of my grope. Darn telepathy.
He, Hellboy and Liz are back in Monterey Bay at the Navel Postgraduate School working with a small group of SEALs. The BPRD and the navy are trying to see if specially trained humans can take on some of the things that HB and Abe do. If it works, it might take some of the work load off of HB and Abe, or at least give them some more back up.
They've been there for the past week attempting to train the SEALs, and from what I understand, it's not going to well. Underwater training sessions with Abe have all been fiascos and the training sessions with Red have been even worse. These men can't seem to wrap their mind around the fact that the paranormal doesn't work…normally. Liz and I are supposed to work with them next week. I can't wait to see their reaction to us. Actually, I'm more interested in seeing their reaction to Liz. A tiny shy woman who is seven months pregnant and can blast them all to kingdom come, I guess it'll be a good lesson in never assuming anything is as it seems.
"Hey, Maggie," someone yells from near the front steps of the church. "Come on, they're about to leave."
I walk over and join the crowd of well wishers near the door. A moment later, Jeff and Pat come charging out of the church through a shower of birdseed and finally into the safety of the waiting limo. The white limo with the obligatory "Just Married" graffiti pulls away and the other limos start pulling up to receive their passengers.
Soon we're headed north on Highway 1 toward Monterey and I'm in a limo with Sharon, Ron, and Vicki. We stick to the safe topics since not even Ron knows about Abe.
"So what did you think of those bridesmaids dresses?" Sharon asks.
"The color was…bright," I answer.
"It was hideous you mean," Ron laughs in his deep baritone voice. I can see Vicki's eyes starting to droop.
"I didn't say that," I reply.
"But that's what you were thinking," he chuckles.
"Well," I hesitate. "Of all the bridesmaid's dresses I've ever seen, those would have to pretty much be on the top of my worst list. I often wonder what designers are thinking when they create these dresses."
"I think the idea is to guarantee that none of the bridesmaids look better than the bride," Sharon chips in.
"No worries there with those dresses," Ron says, still quietly chuckling.
"You won't dress me in anything that horrible, will you?" Sharon asks worriedly. And after seeing the strange look on Ron's face, she quickly adds, "Whenever you do get married that is."
"Of course not," I reply. Sharon breathes a sigh of relief. "I'd find something much worse. How do you feel about day glow green?"
Sharon looks daggers at me as Ron all but falls on the floor as his booming laughter fills the vehicle. It's a good thing that little Vicki can sleep through just about anything.
A while later, our limo pulls up to the front door of the Monterey Plaza Hotel and our door is opened by one of the employees. We exit and follow the rest of the guests through the lobby, across a patio with a fountain with dolphins, and finally into the "Dolphin" ballroom.
We go through the reception line and then find our assigned seats. I find myself seated with the brides' brother, Peter, and his wife, Pam, friends of Jeff's, Karel and Bridget, and my cousin Brian. We do the introduction thing and make small talk as we wait for the bridal party to finally take their seats. Lunch is served, then there're the toasts, and finally the first dance. I watch as Pat pulls her father up onto the dance floor and they do the traditional Father-Daughter dance.
I feel a deep depression settle over me as I watch them. I know that my father will never be able to do those things that Pat's father has done today. I can feel tears trying to start forming in my eyes.
"Stop that," says a voice behind me.
I don't need to turn around to see who had spoken. It's Grandmother.
"Stop what?" I ask.
"You're getting all misty eyed over that dance again," she answers. "You do it every wedding. Now just stop it or you'll ruin your makeup."
I just sigh with a half smile and turn my attention back to the dance floor. A minute later, it's over and the whole wedding party is now up there dancing. I get my mind off of my parents by looking at the bridesmaids' dresses again, and I shudder. What was she thinking when she picked out those dresses?
The next several hours are spent talking and dancing. Then there's the cutting of the cake, the bouquet toss with a couple of the bridesmaids fighting over the flowers, and the garter toss.
As the party winds down, I find myself sitting at my table alone. By some miracle, I hear my cell phone ring. I take it out of my purse and head outside. The caller ID shows the number to be Manning's cell phone. What could he possibly want?
"Yes, Dr. Manning, what do you want?" I ask as a way of greeting.
"You," is the answer.
It takes me a second to realize that the person on the other end of the line is definitely not Manning. I feel a smile creep across my face as I head toward the edge of the balcony for more privacy and to get away from the noise.
"Hi, love," I reply. "How are the training sessions coming?"
"Better," Abe responds. "One of the SEALs managed to tag Red's tail with a paintball today."
"Well, that's an improvement," I laugh. "What color did he get hit with?"
"Pink," he answers as I chuckle. "But I have a feeling that it was just dumb luck that they were able to hit him."
"But at least they finally hit him," I point out while I lean against the railing. "How are the water sessions going?"
"About the same," he says. "They keep looking for air bubbles to try and find me."
"Is Manning planning on ever letting them meet you and Red?" I ask. The setting sun is starting to turn the sky red and the water of the bay is getting darker.
"I think tomorrow or the next day is the plan," he answers. "How are you doing?"
"I'm fine," I lie.
"Liar," he retorts. "Even Red would be able to tell that you're lying."
"I miss you," I whisper.
"I miss you, too," he replies quietly. "It's only another day and a half before you'll be here. I think I can handle it."
"At least that's one of us," I playfully snarl at him.
I can hear him chuckling from his side, the brat. I hear him talk to someone on his end before he starts talking to me again.
"I'm sorry, love," he says. "Manning says that they want to do another water session before the sun sets. I've got to go."
"All right," I sigh. "Maybe they'll do better this time."
"Maybe," he replies. "I love you. Bye."
"I love you, too," I answer. "Bye."
I hear him disconnect, and with a sigh, I close my phone. I look out over the bay and watch a flock of pelicans skim over the surface of the water in flight.
"Was that Abe?" Sharon asks as she comes up beside me.
"Yes," I reply.
In an unfocused way, I look down into the water just below me. Something catches my attention and I focus in on it. I see a woman's face with dark hair and eyes and a look full of hate glaring up at me from the water. I grab Sharon and shove her away from the railing.
"RUN!" I manage to yell just before the water comes over the side of the railing and engulfs me. It hits me so hard that I'm knocked down and my phone goes flying out of my hand causing it to skitter across the red tiles of the balcony. I barely manage to take a deep breath as my head submerges. I try and grab hold of something, but it's like the water is now a living thing and it pulls be back over the railing. I'm pulled down the thirty feet below to the waiting ocean. I hit hard and my eyes cloud over with darkness.
A/N: For those of you not familiar with the military of the USA, a navy SEAL is a soldier who is trained in SEa Air and Land combat.