Death of a Maid | Chapter 16 of 17 - Part: 1 of 10

Author: M.C. Beaton | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4743 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 11

The best laid schemes o’ mice and men

Gang aft a-gley.

—Robert Burns

Spring came reluctantly to the Highlands, crawling in on sleety gusts of wind. Then one day, the sun shone down from a cloudless sky. The air of Lochdubh was filled with the sound of vacuum cleaners and flapping dusters as the inhabitants got down to the annual spring cleaning.

Hamish Macbeth, now proud possessor of a brand-new Land Rover, felt it was time that he, too, did some spring cleaning.

As he worked away, his mind seemed to be waking up again after the long, cold winter.

He found himself wondering how the one-time suspects in the murder cases were getting on now that they no longer had any fear of the police prying into their private lives.

Thanks to the new cat flap, Sonsie and Lugs could get in and out of the house whenever they wanted. He left his chores and drove off towards Braikie, marvelling at the glory of the day.

Even the sea along by the shore road was quiet, with only little glassy waves curling on the beach.

His thoughts turned reluctantly to Elspeth. Was she married? Was she happy? Would he ever see her again?

At that moment, Elspeth was arriving at the church in Glasgow in a carriage drawn by two white horses donated by her Gypsy relatives. Beside her sat her uncle Mark, uncomfortable in his wedding finery. The best man, Luke’s fellow reporter James Biddell, came up to the carriage. “Drive around again,” he said. “Luke hasn’t arrived.”

“Where is he?” demanded Elspeth.

“We finished up the stag party at four this morning. He said he was going back to his digs. I called round, but he wasn’t there.”

“I’ll murder the bastard,” grated Uncle Mark. “Drive on.”

If only I had insisted on a closed limo, thought Elspeth. Crowds were gathering to see the bride. By the time they came round to the church again, a procession had formed behind the carriage.

But there was James shaking his head. “You didn’t do anything nasty to him?” asked Elspeth. “You didn’t tie him up to a lamp post or something?”

“Nothing like that,” said James shiftily. How could he tell Elspeth, looking so beautiful in her white wedding gown, that they had hired a stripper for the evening and that drunken Luke had gone off with her?

“I’m getting down,” said Elspeth. “I’m not going to make a spectacle of myself, driving round and round.”

Groaning and wheezing and complaining that his collar was strangling him, Uncle Mark helped her down and led her into the church.

Elspeth’s two bridesmaids were waiting in the church porch. From inside the church came the sound of the organ and the impatient rustling and whispers of the guests.

Gazing out at the blue sky above the grimy Glasgow buildings, Elspeth suddenly wished herself back in the Highlands. Did she really want to marry Luke? Somehow the whole thing had gained momentum: presents from the staff, arrangements for the reception.

Half an hour passed. Elspeth turned to her uncle. “Get in there and tell them the wedding’s cancelled but they can all go on to the reception and get something to eat and drink.”

“Don’t worry, lass. We’ll hunt him down and drag him to the altar.”

“I won’t marry him after this,” said Elspeth. “Get on with the announcement.”

So the announcement was made, and the guests made their way out to the cars. Elspeth refused to get back into the carriage and shared a car with her editor. What a mess! They were due to leave on their honeymoon that very day. Luke had the air tickets to Barbados.

The reception, fuelled by good food and a lot of drink, turned out to be a noisy affair. After the meal, Elspeth took the floor for the first dance with James. She felt suddenly very happy and relieved. She realised with a shock that she had been dreading this wedding, dreading being married to Luke.

Luke awoke with a groan and stared up at a dingy, unfamiliar ceiling. He rolled over and collided with a body in the bed next to him. “Elspeth?” he said.


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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