"Oh Elsie, I'm ever so certain that it'll be a wonderful wedding." young Lady Sawyer smiled at her servant through her reflection as her corset was tugged and pulled tight.
"And why wouldn't it be?"
Lila beamed when she saw her father, "Oh father, I'm just ever so excited."
"And if this Shortman boy knows what's good for him, he will be too." her father crossed the distance and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "Now, hurry up. They'll be here any moment."
Arnold dashed through his house and jumped into the carriage where his parents were waiting for him.
"Arnold, sweetie, you're cutting it awfully close." his mother said with a soft laugh, combing his hair back with her fingers.
Arnold wrinkled his nose, but allowed her to fix his hair, despite the fact he liked it much better when his hair was messy.
"Well you've really hooked a good one, now you've just got to reel her in." his father said enthusiastically.
Arnold swallowed a lump in his throat. "I'm already reeling, dad." he stuttered. He'd always liked Lila, ever since they were children. She was kind, pretty, and sweet. Everything he could ever want in a wife. He could hardly believe that he'd actually be marrying her at the end of the week. "Shouldn't Lila be marrying a…a Lord or something though?"
Stella and Miles looked at each other cautiously. The only reason that Lila's father had agreed to marrying her off was because he was getting a generous sum of money in exchange for her hand. "Titles aren't everything, son." Miles said at last.
At last, they arrived at the Sawyer estate and Arnold's nerves hadn't calmed at all. If anything, they ran even more amuck once he saw Lila and her father there for the wedding rehearsal. There weren't many people, to Arnold's relief, but there were still enough unfamiliar faces to make the nerves all the more apparent. Lila's mother had died long ago so representing her family was her father and a dear old friend of hers named Olga, who was already weeping hysterically.
"Hello Arnold." Lila greeted him warmly.
"Hello, Lady Sawyer." Arnold replied sheepishly.
Lila giggled, "I'm ever so certain that since we're getting married on Saturday it would probably be best if you just called me Lila."
"Right…Lila." He corrected himself, smiling at her.
"Are you ready for the rehearsal?" She asked sweetly.
"Um…yeah, as much as I'm ever going to be." He chuckled uncomfortably.
"What're we waiting for?" Olga said happily, dragging Lila towards the drawing room where the rehearsal would take place. "Let's get started! It's going to be a glorious wedding."
"Ever so glorious!" Lila agreed happily. "Are you coming, Arnold?"
Arnold swallowed a lump in his throat and nodded before following the rest of the crowd.
Three Hours Later
"Master Shortman." The priest snapped. "Let's take it from the beginning…again."
Arnold could have sworn that he shrunk a few inches at the priest's words. His mother was sleeping on his father's shoulder and his father looked bored enough to fall asleep himself. Lila's father was scowling, his patience run out. The only one who still had a smile on their face was Olga.
Arnold cleared his throat. "With this candle." he placed his candle against a flame, but it didn't accept the fire. "This candle." He repeated, a note of desperation in his voice. His dismay grew when the candle didn't light again. "This candle."
Arnold glanced over his shoulder when Lila's father started grumbling. He only looked back when the priest cleared his throat, indicating that the candle was now lit. Arnold grinned, "With this candle." his voice rang with confidence and he chuckled lightly, only to extinguish the flame again. He was about tobegin again when the priest stopped him.
The door rang and Lord Sawyer listlessly ordered the butler to go and answer it.
"A lord Wolfgang, sir." the butler stated once he returned.
"I don't have a head for dates. I'm apparently a day early for the ceremony." Lord Wolfgang stated cooly.
Lord Sawyer stared at Wolfgang, unable to recall if he was from his side or his departed wife's before he ordered a chair be brought in for him. Lila and Arnold stared at him from the alter, neither of them aware of who this newcomer was. "Carry on." Wolfgang said dully.
"Let's just pick it up after the candle bit." The priest growled.
"Yes, of course." Arnold said, holding up his left hand and swallowing a lump in his throat.
"Right." The priest hissed.
"Right." Arnold agreed full-hearted before he realized the priest was informing him that he was holding up the wrong hand. He quickly switched before cautiously taking Lila's hand into his own. "With this hand I will-" Arnold collided with the table after taking four steps forward with his fiancée rather than three.
The pastor's patience had run out. "Three steps! Three! Can you not count? Do you not wish to be married?"
"No no!" Arnold protested, waving his hands manically in front of him.
"You do not?" Lila asked, trying to not show the hurt in her voice.
"No!" Arnold declared, "I do not not wish to be married, that is I wish to be married very much."
"Pay attention!" The pastor exclaimed, striking Arnold on the head with his cane. "Have you even brought the ring?"
"The ring? Yes I have it right here." Arnold smiled sheepishly as he held the wedding band up. His nerves made him shake and the ring slipped from his grip and onto the ground. The pastor exclaimed in an outrage that since he'd dropped the ring Arnold didn't want to get married and to his embarassment, Olga sprang up and screamed when his hand snaked under her dress to collect the ring. "Got it!" He said with a smile before he realized all that had happened.
"Young man." The pastor said darkly, stepping around the alter and towering over the cowering groom-to-be. "This wedding cannot proceed until you have properly prepared. Learn. Your. Vows."
Arnold felt like his stomach was tying into knots and he did the only thing he could think to do. He stumbled backwards into the door and groped for the knob before running from the mannor as fast as he could.
Wolfgang laughed coldly. "He's quite the catch, isn't he?"
Arnold sighed as he walked through the woods. He needed to get as far away from the wedding rehearsal as he could.
"It really shouldn't be so hard. It's just a few simple vows." He sighed to himself as he walked. "With this hand I shall take your wine…no." He walked for a few moments more before trying again. "With this hand I shall cup your…" He stopped himself when he realized his hands were held closely to his chest. He blushed and shook his head. "Oh heavens, no."
He tried and he tried and he walked and he walked until finally he reached an area of the woods where he'd never been. Finally, he steeled himself and began reciting his vows. "With this hand, I shall lift your sorrows. Your cup will never empty, for I will be your wine." He smiled at his audience of trees, bushes, and shrubs in the darkness, thrilled that he had at last gotten some of it right. He pressed on. "With this candle, I will light your way in darkness." He spotted a dead branch that looked strikingly similar to a human hand and knelt beside it. "With this ring…I ask you to be mine." He placed the wedding band on one of the fingers of the hand-like branch and grinned. He was ready.
But not for what happened next. The wind picked up and in a loud flutter, a flock of crows crowded the trees around the clearing he'd been standing in. He swallowed a lump in his throat and stood to leave, but was suddenly unable to do so due to the strong grip around his wrist. It dragged his arm into the earth and he screamed, trying to pull away. He managed to get his arm out of the dirt and stared in horror as what he had thought to be a branch better exposed itself, revealing a skeleton arm, with his wedding band neatly placed around the ring finger. Its grip hardened and he shouted again, finally managing to free himself from what was trying to pull him into the earth, but not the undead arm. He stammered and yanked until his arm was free and threw the deceased limb in time to see the rest of the body claw its way out of the grave. He stared in awe and horror as the corpse stood, donning a tattered wedding gown that clung to its-or her- curves, a veil covering her face. With her attached arm, she pulled the veil off of her face and smiled at him. "I do."
She was lovely -for a corpse at least- with big blue eyes, a breath taking smile, and long blond hair that hung down her back in loose waves. This didn't ease Arnold's panic though. He screamed and ran, praying and hoping that it was all nothing more than a dream and begging himself to wake up. He ran and looked over his shoulder every now and then, hoping she'd be gone, but she was still there, following him with her veil and gown billowing eerily behind her. The crows followed him as well and he didn't stop until he reached the bridge by the church. When he turned to look back at the woods, she wasn't there. He heaved a sigh of relief, but when he turned around she was right behind him, making him shout and leap back.
"YOu may kiss the bride." She said with a coy smile, placing her hands upon his chest before leaning in and placing her lips against his.
Arnold's heart raced and his world turned black.
Happy Halloween to all of my fan follower peoples! I thought I'd start this to get in a festive mood, even though I've got plenty of other stories I need to work on, but this idea has been driving me nuts for a while. I hope you liked the start of it. Review and let me know what ya think. Love ya.