Riley spent the past week busy with final touches and last minute decisions as the day of the wedding was now upon them. Now sixteen weeks pregnant, she was extremely nervous about the wedding, yet somewhat at ease because she hadn’t heard from the unknown caller since the night of the bachelor party. She had not told Scott about the phone call, or her indiscretions.
Scott and Riley were up early to leave for Noah’s house, where they had decided to have the wedding. There would be plenty of room for the people and the parking. Riley showered then allowed Sharon to fix her hair. She was a certified beautician.
The front lawn began to fill with cars as Riley slipped her wedding gown over her head, careful not to mess up her hair. The dress seemed to be much more snug around her belly then it was two weeks ago, the last time she tried it on. She smiled, knowing her belly was finally beginning to grow. It deepened her excitement of the pregnancy.
They were lucky for the warm, gorgeous day as the wedding was held outside, in the back yard beneath a large gazebo that had came with the house when Noah bought it. Knowing it was time, Riley approached her father who was standing just inside the doorway that they would walk out. Riley could see Scott before he seen her, thinking he looked very handsome in his tuxedo. Luke stood beside him as his best man.
Riley slid her shaky hand through Noah’s arm as the music began to play. She was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd as they stood and turned towards her. “Are you ready to do this?” Noah softly asked her.
“I love you daddy, thank you. Yes. I am.” Riley smiled at her father as he began to lead her down the isle. The short walk seemed like miles and she looked into the crowd as she walked down the isle. Barely knowing half of them, she was suddenly more nervous. But then she looked up at Scott and realized this is truly what she wanted to do. The thought gave her strength.
Scott couldn’t keep his eyes off of her as she walked towards him. His heart was pounding and his hands were sweaty and he knew he was nervous, but realized this is what he truly wanted to do. Noah and Riley stopped just before the alter as the preacher asked who gives her away.
“I do.” Noah spoke up.
The preacher nodded at him, then Noah and Riley stepped towards Scott. Lifting her veil, Noah kissed her cheek, then placed her hand in Scott‘s and stepped down as Riley turned towards Scott. She drew in a deep breath and smiled, already trying to fight back the tears she knew would come.
Silence fell over the yard as the preacher began the ceremony. Riley’s hands were shaky against his sweaty hands and they each knew the other was nervous. Luke handed Scott her ring as he recited his vows first, then Aleah handed Riley his ring as she recited her vows. The ceremony seemed to Riley, to last only seconds as it was time for Scott to lift her veil.
He placed his hand along her chin with this thumb softly rubbing her cheek. “You really are the love of my life.” He whispered to her.
She smiled and grabbed the lapels on his tuxedo and jerked him towards her. He smiled back as he lowered his head for a long kiss to finalize their vows. The crowd cheered and clapped as they continued to kiss. Pulling back from her, they both smiled and hugged.
“You look so beautiful.” He said in her ear, just above a whisper and above the crowd.
In one sweeping motion, he picked her up and carried her down the isle and back into the house as the crowd stood and cheered. Scott carried her through the house and into the bedroom where he knew they would have privacy, at least for a few minutes. Setting her down on the floor, he held her and looked into her eyes.
“I can hardly believe it. You are my wife.” He said and kissed her. “I promise to protect you and keep you safe. And I promise to try to give you everything you want.” He kissed her again.
“I promise to never cheat on you and never leave you. And I promise to be a good mother to your children.” She kissed him.
“Children? Does that mean you want more than one?” Scott asked.
“I assumed we would. You do want more than one, don’t you?”
“Yes. Actually. I’ve always pictured three kids in my family.”
“That sounds like a number I can handle.” She smiled again as he leaned down to kiss her again.
“Are you ready to face all these people?” Scott asked as he reached down and took her hand. She smiled and nodded at him and he led her back out of the house and into the crowd that had scattered about. Seeing them come back out, the crowd began to cheer, spreading like a wave as people noticed them.
After an hour of meeting and greeting, Riley made her way to the food table as Scott continued to mingle. Gathering a plate full of food, she sat at a table and began to eat. Aleah sat beside her and hugged her. “Congratulations. How are you feeling?” She asked Riley.
“I’m fine. Hungry, but fine.” Riley smiled at her as she took a bite of food. “Are you going to eat?”
“I will, right now, I’m having a few drinks.” Aleah held up her glass.
“Yeah, I can’t have a drink to toast for my wedding.” Riley said.
“We bought apple juice for the occasion.” Aleah informed her.
Riley smiled. “That was thoughtful, thank you.”
“Do you want me to get you some?” Aleah offered.
“In a minute, I want to finish eating first.” Riley answered.
Aleah sat with Riley while she ate, then as she finished, she stood up. “I’ll be right back.” Aleah said and walked away from the table.
Shifting her view, Riley laid her eyes on a man she had seen once before, in the bar. Normally, she probably wouldn’t remember, but this man reminded her of Chuck. Dressed in a nice suit, he was looking directly at her and when he seen that she had seen him, he motioned for her to come over to him.
Curiosity overruled fear as she walked towards the stranger, feeling a degree of safety at home, surrounded by the crowd of family and friends. There was no one within a twenty foot radius so no one could hear their conversation.
“Who are you?” She asked the man.
Looking her up and down, as he spoke, she immediately recognized his voice as the voice on the phone the night of Scott’s bachelor party. As fear washed over her, so did the goose bumps. “I can see why they chose you… I’m the one who spoke to you on the phone, Riley. I just want to make sure you understand how serious I am. Heed my warning when I say, that you have until your honeymoon is over to tell your husband what you’ve done.”
“What the hell do you want from me? Is it money?” Her anger showed in her voice.
He laughed at her then was serious again. “No. I don’t want money. I want you to pay for what you did. I want you to go to jail. If you don’t, maybe this pregnancy will end up the same as the last.” He said and nonchalantly flashed a knife. As he lifted open his jacket to put the knife back into his pocket, she seen the gun in his waste band.
“I’m assuming your brother was Chuck, because you look like him. Don’t forget who you’re talking to, I took their lives, I can take yours too. Now, you get the hell off of this property and never come back. And leave my husband and I alone.”
“Like I said, when the honeymoon is over, the honeymoon is over.” Chuck’s brother said as he turned and walked away from her.
Fighting her emotions as she watched him leave, she was left with a sickening feeling that made her weak and nauseated. Then, turning back towards the party, she looked around quickly as she ran towards the side of the house where she sat on the ground with her back against the house and cried.
Aleah returned to the table with the glass of apple juice but Riley was no where in her sights. Stepping into a chair, then on a table, she looked around for her. She would be easy to spot in her flowing white wedding gown, but she couldn’t find her. With the glass in hand, she walked around to locate her. Something inside her told her to walk around the corner of the house and that’s where she found Riley, still leaning against he house, crying. Placing the glass on the window sill, Aleah sat down beside her sister.
“Riley, what’s wrong. This should be the happiest day of your life.” Aleah said as she put her arms around her, confused as to why she was crying.
“I don’t know what to do, Aleah.” Riley looked her with mascara running down her face.
“What are you talking about, Riley? You don’t know what to do about what?”
“Wait a minute. Chuck? Is that the one who broke into your apartment and attacked you in the middle of the night?” Aleah asked and Riley nodded her head. “And what does his brother have to do with it?”
“He called me, at home, the night of Scott’s bachelor party. He threatened me, saying that if I didn’t turn myself in, there would be consequences.”
“What kind of consequences?”
“I don’t know, but he just appeared and threatened me with a knife, reminding me how my last pregnancy ended. And he had a gun.”
“What? He was here?”
“Riley, you have to tell Scott. Now. It sounds as if your life is in danger, again. I know you don’t want to go to jail, but you’re better off there, than dead.”
“Aleah, I can’t have this baby in jail.”
Aleah looked at her sister and seen the same distress she had seen before. “I know, Riley, I know.” She said and hugged her sister not sure what to say next.
Beginning to look for Riley, Scott hadn’t seen her in some time. Aleah pulled a tissue out of her bra and Riley sort of laughed at her as she took it to wipe the mascara that had trailed down her cheek. Just as they both stood to hug each other, Scott came around the corner.
“There you are.” He said and walked up to them.
Riley turned to face Scott as she tried to force a smile. But by the look on her face, and the redness in her eyes, he knew she had been crying. He took her into his arms, not understanding why he’s seeing her this way.
“Riley, what’s wrong?” He softly said in her ear.
“Aleah and I were just talking about mom, wishing she was here to see us get married.” Riley came up with a quick but viable excuse. Aleah smiled at her and rubbed her back before she walked away, leaving the two alone.
“I’m sorry, Riley. I can’t imagine the pain you’re feeling right now. But I bet she’s watching from heaven. And I bet she’s proud.”
She squeezed him tighter. “Thank you, Scott. You always know what to say to make me feel better.”
He pulled away to look in her eyes and wipe the tears from them. “Come on, people are asking for you.” He said and walked slowly with her back to the crowd, giving her time to gather herself before facing anyone.
It had already been a long day by the time the sun went down. Riley was able to push Chuck’s brother to the back of her mind, at least for the night, to enjoy the start of her life together with Scott. They cut the cake and she survived through the dollar dance and other festivities. Riley encouraged Aleah to stand with the other single woman, so she could throw the bouquet.
“Are you serious Riley, I’ll pass this one. Besides I certainly won’t be the next to get married, I haven’t dated anyone for six months.”
“Yeah, but you never know when you’ll meet that special someone. He could be right under your nose, like Scott was for me.” Riley said but Aleah still refused to join.
With a karaoke machine available, Scott pleaded with Riley to sing a song for him on their wedding night. She refused at first, but seeing that most of the guests were already drunk, she ultimately agreed.
With Scott standing on the stage with her, she began to sing the sweetest song she knew. Suddenly she had the attention of the entire crowd and grew nervous. But then she looked into Scott’s eyes and found the strength to belt out the remainder of the song. As she put down the microphone, the crowd cheered, raising her self esteem regarding her voice. She smiled as she looked around the room, then hugged Scott.
“See, I told you that you had a beautiful voice.” He said in her ear over the crowd. He took her hand and led her off the stage and to the dance floor. “You know what, every man here has had the chance to dance with you, except for me. I think it’s time for me to share a dance with my new, beautiful wife.”
The DJ cued the music for them and they swayed together to their song. Holding her tight, he leaned down for a long, passionate kiss, not caring who was watching them. Soaking up the fact that she was in his arms on their wedding night and having his child, she felt overflowing with love. She never knew she would or could, ever feel this way.
As the song came to an end, they stayed in each others arms for a moment, still kissing. Hearing the song with the faster beat, he pulled back and smiled at her then took her hand and led her off the dance floor. Feeling the hunger in her stomach again, she pulled him towards the table where hot, fresh food had just been added.
Smiling at her, he understood the need for her to eat. “I love you, Riley. While you eat, I’m going to mingle again, maybe get another drink. I’ll come back to find you in a few.” He kissed her then let go of her hand and disappeared into the crowd.
Riley grabbed another plate full of food and a glass of fruit punch. But instead of sitting at a table beneath the large white tent, she walked into the darkness to find the patio furniture down by the edge of the river that ended the property. It was quieter and less hectic as she sat in an outdoor lounge chair. Watching the moonlight shimmer on the water, she ate the contents of her plate. Then laid back in the chair and gazed up at the stars.
Merely an hour later, Scott came back under the tent to find her, but she was gone. Searching around the tent and through the crowd without finding her, he went into the house and searched every room with no results. Seeing Aleah, he asked if she had seen her but Aleah said no. They both grew concerned and she helped him search.
Walking out of the light towards the river, Scott tried to focus his eyes on the lawn furniture, then focused them in on her. Walking up beside her chair, he realized she was laying in her wedding gown, asleep. Kneeling down before her he studied her face for a few moments before reaching down to stroke her face and wake her.
“Riley…” He spoke softly.
She opened her eyes and through the darkness, could clearly see his face. She smiled at him. “I love you, Scott.”
“What are you doing out her all alone? Most of the guests have left and the rest of them are so drunk, they’ll probably sleep in their cars, or on the lawn. Come on, let’s get you inside and out of this dress, you’ll be more comfortable.” He said and reached his arms out to pick her up.
With her in his arms, he stood and began to walk towards the house. She wrapped her arms around his neck and laid her head on his shoulder. Across the lawn, through the small, drunk crowd, he carried her into the house and straight into the guest bedroom that they would share for the night. Setting her to her feet, he walked behind her to unbutton the twenty five buttons on the back of her gown.
As he unbuttoned it, he kissed her back all the way down to the last button. Sliding the dress off her shoulders, she pushed it past her belly and waist and it fell in a pile on the floor around her feet. With a soft touch, he rubbed his hands across her back while she reached up and removed her veil, tossing it into the chair in the corner. Then she reached up and pulled out the accessories that held her hair up in place, then allowing it to fall down her back and into place.
Pulling her hair together in a ponytail, he brushed his lips across the back of her neck. “I still can’t believe you are my wife.” He whispered in her ear.
She turned towards him and smiled as she stepped out of her wedding gown and picked it up, tossing it too, into the chair. Reaching up, she pushed his jacket off his shoulders, tossing it over with her gown. Looking into his eyes, she began to unbutton his shirt. As she leaned up to push the shirt off his shoulders, she kissed his neck.
Continuing to kiss his neck and chest, her hand found the button of his pants. He slid his hands around and unclasped her bra, slipping it off her, then reached down and tugged at her underwear. As they were both naked and standing in the middle of the room, he reached down and picked her up. Bringing her up to him, she wrapped her legs around him. He pinned her back against the wall where they made love and consummated their marriage.
It was five in the morning when the alarm clock woke them. They had two hours to get to the airport to catch their flight. Riley woke Aleah up, then took a quick shower, after Scott. As soon as the three of them were ready, they said goodbye to Noah and left to head back to Newport. Aleah had agreed to stay at their house for the duration of their honeymoon to care for Cosmo. They already had their bags packed so they merely dropped Aleah off, giving her the keys, and the use of Riley’s car, grabbed their luggage and headed for the airport.
Stopping inside one of the restaurants, they ate breakfast before they quickly made their way through the airport, found their gate and boarded the plane. Riley’s hands were shaking as they found their seats and sat down. Scott had been on a plane before, however, this was Riley’s first time and she grew increasingly nervous. Seeing the nervousness on her face, Scott reached over and took her hand.
“Riley, don’t be nervous. Nothing will happen, we will be fine.” He said, trying to ease her.
She merely smiled at him but his words didn’t seem to help. Her hands gripped the armrests as tight as she could while the plane took off. It was a merely five hour ride to their destination on a tropical island. Again, she gripped the armrests as tight as she could during the landing of the plane. She was relieved to be on the ground as they vacated the plane.
From the airport, they rented a car and Scott found his way to the hotel, with directions from the car rental associate. Riley looked around the extravagant hotel as Scott checked in. Opening the door as Scott carried their luggage in, he dropped them in the middle of the room, Walking to the window, Scott opened the blinds. They were on the eighth floor, with a view overlooking the ocean. He slid the glass door open and stepped out on the balcony.
“Riley, you need to see this view. It’s breathtaking.” Scott said and held his hand out for her.
“You’re not getting me out there, there is no way.” She said as she stood just inside the glass door.
“But you can’t see the beach unless you come out.” He encouraged her.
“I’ll see the beach from the ground. I don’t need to be out there.” She insistently refused.
Realizing she was obviously afraid of heights, he gave up and came back inside. She was uncomfortable enough just seeing him out there. Looking around the room, she saw that it consisted of one king sized bed, a small living area consisting of a couch and two chairs, and a kitchen area with a small refrigerator and stove and table. Turning on the bathroom light, she looked around the bathroom. She knew they would be spending two weeks in this room and it was acceptably comfortable to her.
“Come on, Scott. I’m starving to death.” She said as she grabbed her purse and walked towards the door. Grabbing the room key, he followed her out the door.
Instead of driving, they walked along the beach. It wasn’t long before they came across a small restaurant with tables on the sandy beach beneath a pavilion. As they waited for their food to arrive, Riley studied the paper place mat that contained local businesses. One particular ad caught her eyes. It was the local zoo and there was a coupon for buy one admission, get one free.
Tearing it off the place mat, she handed it to Scott as a suggestion to fill their day. He smiled and shook his head. “You want to go to the zoo? I’ll find out where it is at.”
As they stood at the counter to pay the bill, he asked for directions to the zoo. They told him it wasn’t far, only a mile and pointed him in the correct direction. They decided to walk the mile and familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Enjoying their visit to the zoo, she was exhausted as they left, just at closing time. It was dark and she knew they had a long walk back to the hotel.
On their way back, they found another restaurant to eat a late dinner before returning to their room. Walking back into the room, she immediately changed into her pajamas and crawled onto the bed. It was just past ten. Standing beside the bed, Scott stripped down to his boxer briefs and laid down beside her. In each others arms, they enjoyed the first night of their honeymoon, just soaking up each others company. In the dim light of only the TV, they both fell asleep.
Having been asleep for two hours, she walked into a dream. It was cloudy and she appeared to be at home. And she knew she was alone. Laying in bed, she was under the impression that it was morning and Scott had just left for work. Turning over in bed to get comfortable, she realized she was further along in her pregnancy as her belly had grown quite large.
Hearing a noise, she opened her eyes and turned towards the bedroom door to see Chuck’s brother walking in. She felt the fear as it rushed across her and she sat up in bed, still in her dream.
“I told you there would be consequences if you didn’t turn yourself in. Now your time has come.” She heard him say, then watched as he pulled the gun from his waist band and point it at her. Fear was suddenly accompanied by pain and devastation as she felt the bullets from three pulls of the trigger. All three shots went into her stomach and she knew it had killed the baby.
With a loud scream, she sat up in bed, grabbing at her stomach. Opening her eyes, she looked down, but seen no bullet wounds, and felt no pain as she frantically rubbed her belly. “God Damnit!” She yelled.
Scott sat up beside her and put his arms around her just as she realized it was another bad dream. For her, it was the last straw and she knew her dream would become reality if she didn’t confess to Scott. She suddenly found herself angered as she pulled herself out of bed and went into the bathroom and turned on the light.
In front of the mirror with her hands leaning on the counter, she nearly hyperventilated as she cried hard. Scott came in and wrapped his arms around her from behind. “Riley? What can I do to help?” He asked, knowing she had had a bad dream.
“Nothing, Scott. I don’t think there is anything you can do.”
With his hands gently pulling on her shoulders, he turned her towards her and enclosed his arms around her. “You’re not alone here, Riley. I am here for you. Just tell me what happened.”
“I lost the baby. In the dream.” She said, her head tucked against his chest.
“It was only a bad dream, Riley. Look at yourself, you are fine. The baby is fine.” He kissed her on top of the head. “It’s only one AM. Come on, let’s go back to bed.”
She went with him back to the bed and laid down, although she didn’t want to. As Scott fell back asleep, she laid painfully awake all night, debating her decision to tell him everything as she once again, found herself fearing for her life, and now, the life of her baby. For seven hours, she laid wide awake, crying, angry and scared.
It was eight AM when Scott pulled himself out of bed. Looking at her, she appeared to him to be sleeping, but she wasn’t. Through squinted eyes, she watched him as he searched through his luggage to find clean clothes, then disappear into the bathroom.
She was sitting up with her back against the head board and her knees into her chest, crying when he came out of the bathroom, towel drying his hair. Seeing her mental state, he stopped and came directly to the bed, fully dressed.
“Riley, what is going on with you. This should be the happiest time of you life, instead, you’re sitting here in tears. Please tell me what’s going on.” He said as he sat on the edge of the bed, facing her.
With tears streaming down her face, she shook her head and hesitated before opening her mouth. “Scott, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t lie to you anymore.”
“Riley, what are you talking about?” He reached over and took her hand. “What did you lie about?”
She drew in a deep breath before revealing her secret to him. “I did it, Scott, both of them. All three of them.”
“What do you mean?” His facial expression was stern.
“I killed them, Scott. I’m so sorry.” She sobbed harder.
He looked at her for a minute, not sure what to think or say. He was suddenly feeling ill as he stood up and turned his back to her, running his fingers through his hair. “Oh my God, Riley. I can’t believe this is happening. And you tell me this now, on our honeymoon?”
By the sound of his voice, and his facial expression as he turned back towards her, she knew he was angry. “Scott, I don’t know what to say right now.”
Drawing in a deep breath, he sat back down on the bed. “Right now, you have to tell me everything. No more lies. Please.”
Nodding her head, she wiped her eyes before she began. “You already know what happened at that cabin. And you already know what happened with Chuck. But I just couldn’t let it go. It just wouldn’t let me go. The more time that went by, the angrier I became. I didn’t want to report the attack, I wanted to seek my own revenge. So I did some digging and found out who the were and where they all lived. I waited until it was late, then snuck to Aaron’s car and cut his brake line. Then I waited all night for him to leave that morning. When he did, I followed him and watched as his car smashed against that tree. And with David, I purchased a red wig and pair of big sunglasses to disguise myself. Seeing him walking down the sidewalk, I picked him up, asking him for directions. I took him to the trail head and lured him out of my car. Then I revealed my true identity to him. He attacked me again, and I fought back, with my tire iron. I was so mad, I couldn’t stop hitting him. Then I dragged him into that ravine and left his body there. It was the night I hit the deer. You saw the bruise from him punching me in the face. After I killed the deer with the same tire iron, I threw it into the woods.”
Scott knew she was telling the truth, when she told him about the wig. They had found a red fiber on David’s body that was determined to be from a wig. But the finding was never released to the public, or her.
She squeezed his hand. “Scott, if they would have learned that I survived, they would have come after me. Just like Chuck did. Hannah even agrees with me.”
“Hannah?… The waitress from the restaurant? The girl you tutored? What does she have to do with any of this?”
“She was the other victim, from Pendleton. She’s held her trauma inside her for a year, until I came along, then she finally told her parents about it. After Aaron’s and David’s deaths, she came forward to offer me her help.”
“I can’t believe this is happening.” He said as he looked down at the bed, then back up at her. “Riley, I believed you, I trusted you. I’ve given you my heart and soul, everything I have… and now, I’ve never felt so betrayed. I was falling in love with you while you were killing them. Oh my God, I married a murderer.”
She cried harder as his words cut her like a knife. “Scott, that was out of line. You don’t know what I went through at that cabin all weekend. You weren’t there to watch me suffer. See me traumatized. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. But you, Scott, you helped me get to where I am now, emotionally.”
“Riley, I met you one week after your attack. I’ve been there with you, I’ve seen what it’s done to you, emotionally. But I hate to say that you have to go to jail. Do you realize that?”
“Scott, In the eyes of the law, it was murder. But in mine, it was punishment and closure. They can’t find any evidence against me. If you can keep this to yourself, I won’t have to go to jail. Taking their lives was much easier than having to tell you it was me. I don’t have the need or the want to kill anyone else, only those who tried to kill me. Please, Scott. I don’t want to have our baby in jail.” She reached over and held his face in her hands.
He suddenly felt torn between his career and his heart as he stood to his feet. “God, Riley, What the hell am I supposed to do? You’ve got my head so messed up right now, I can’t even think. You are my wife and I love you, but I need to be alone right now.” He said as got up and walked out the door.
She cried harder, knowing her confession to Scott would have the most significant impact on her life. She was scared of his reaction and watching him walk out the door, she found herself feeling emotionally numb once again. As Scott walked down the hallway towards the elevators, he realized she had gotten away with not one, but two murders. If she would have went after Chuck instead of him coming after her, his death would have also been ruled a murder. And her the undeniable suspect.