The Counterfeit Bride(4)

By: Liberty Blake

Cassidy looked over and saw her erstwhile beau Buck Matthews standing in a nearby pew. If she hadn’t felt sorry for the young man and gone out to dinner with Buck a few nights earlier, she never would have heard about this dastardly plot. He bragged about this high society soiree he had to go to. He had laughed so hard telling her about the bride’s ridiculous name that he never noticed that Cassidy didn’t join in.

Cassidy’s heart had dropped. The ridiculous name Buck found so humorous was the very same name listed on her birth certificate. She knew she had to do something to stop the wedding. If not for that one pity date she would be safely tucked into her own cozy bed in Primrose, Texas totally unaware that her life was in danger on the other side of the world.

Cassidy looked the young man in the eye and the fixed smile on her face grew warmer. “You look real good, Buck. You clean up nice.” The young college student blushed under the warmth of her smile.

“Sit down, Buck. I hope you’re not part of this April Fool’s prank,” the man beside Buck growled.

Cassidy’s spine locked into the perfect posture Grammie had drilled into her as a child. She had to push her indignation to the bottom of the pit of atrocities that she craved vengeance for. April fool’s prank indeed! As if I were some college student with nothing better to do with my life. She owed Buck Matthews a lot for alerting her to the problem. The wedding was set for the next weekend, so she hopped the first plane she could get out of Texas. Cassidy was afraid she’d end up married by proxy if she didn’t do something to stop to the wedding. She had read of things like that happening. Her attorney didn’t think it would be legal, but with the Dolmides money behind whatever was going on, she couldn’t afford to take the chance. She didn’t want some overbearing Greek messing up her life. Her “parents” had done a fine job of that on the day of her birth.

Time was her enemy.

Cassidy never regretted leaving home at fifteen, and looking at her cousin Julia Jenkins pretending to be Cassiopeia she was even more ecstatic she had escaped when she had. The thought of living with the Jenkins made her skin crawl and nausea boil in her tummy.

A gentle touch on her arm brought Cassidy back to the present and Athens. She turned her attention back to the priest with the nice brown eyes. He wasn’t the enemy. It looked like he was another dupe of the Jenkins and Dolmides.

“Why do you wish to interrupt this ceremony, my child?” he asked in a gentle voice “What is your objection?”

“I have no wish to be married, especially not to a man of someone else’s choosing.” She could feel her voice losing some of the warm Texas drawl. The voice she used to calm men down. Instead she heard the hard bitten Yankee edge she had when dealing with an obnoxious drunk or all around creep. Every time she dropped an ‘r’ she mentally cringed. She hated hearing Aunt Patsy’s voice coming out of her own mouth. She shivered in revulsion. “I’m a free woman with a mind of my own. I choose my own way of life and my own men.”

“Then why the hell are you here? Do you think I will pay you to leave? If so, you have sadly miscalculated. I do not pay off tramps,” Costas Dolmides shouted.

“No, sir, you just pay to get rid of their unwanted children. The children neither one of you think about nor care anything about again. At least not until you need them to do something for you. You should be ashamed of yourself throwing babies away!” Tears gathered in her eyes, but she would not let a creep like Costas Dolmides make her cry. She counted it as her biggest failing that whenever she got mad the tears flowed.

Kelley Flynn stepped away from Julia’s elbow, tottered in her very high heels, pulled back her arm, and hit Cassidy solidly across the face. “How dare you malign the character of a fine man like Costa. We’ve explained everything to dear Cassiopeia. She understands why we had to do the things we did in order to protect her. She’s forgiven us.”

Cassidy raised an arm in the age old signal to halt, which effectively stopped the two black leather clad behemoths that had rushed up the aisle to protect her. “It’s all right, boys.” She paused briefly. “Thank you for the fine welcome you have given me, Mom. Unfortunately for you and your lover, you are both being conned. You never explained anything to Cassiopeia, and she sure as shootin’ hasn’t forgiven the two of you for a single day of misery she had to suffer at Aunt Patsy and Uncle Joe’s hands. Tell me something, please. Does it feel weird to not know your own daughter? That an imposter has stepped in to pretend to be your daughter? Or are you in on it?”