“Jennifer, you ready for me?” I asked as I pushed open the doors to the honeymoon chamber. Let the romance begin.
I had waited for this moment ever since the betrothal became official. She was a beautiful girl, with long blonde hair, a round face, big eyes, and a great figure. While other men might see her height as off-putting, not me. Our eyes could meet straight on, although for some reason she decided high heels at our wedding, elevating her above me. She might have intimidated me if not for her shyness. Avoiding our kiss in public? Fear of talking to me? How cute. I couldn’t wait to explore her mind and her body, having her open up to me and me only. We would create a true romance.
“Jennifer?” I asked again, stepping into the room. A servant had lit the fireplace and the air smelled of flowers, incense, and a little ash. The flames, even from the other side of the room, washed over me with waves of warmth. The bed was across from the fire with a canopy of transparent red drapery and silky white sheets. A side room had a bath filled with bubbling water. The view from the window pointed away from the ugly capital and toward the forested mountains, where the sun crested the peaks. Even the rugs on the floor made me want to fling off my boots and let them tickle my toes.
I imagined my bride hiding in a corner, thinking herself not pretty enough, but the look on her face changing when she saw me marveling at her. I was truly lucky to have her as mine. Well, lucky and willing to take advantage of the major debt the Fronths owed my deceased father.
Now, where was she? I walked over to the bed but didn’t see anyone on it. She wasn’t on the other side, either. Under? I took a peek, feeling silly. No, not there. No one in the bathroom, either. I went to the window, but she wasn’t on the balcony. I didn’t know where else she could be.
“Is she still getting ready?” I asked myself. How long could that take? She left the dinner an hour ago.
Starting to get worried, I left the room and started looking through others, throwing open doors and shouting her name. I even found a few people in compromising positions, affected by the wine. But I didn’t care. I was the one who was supposed to be in a compromising position right now.
Should I worry? Should I be angry? I didn’t know what to think. Going back to the banquet hall, I found her father, Franklin Fronth Sr. Sitting down at the empty table with him, I asked, “Where is your daughter?”
“She’s not with you?” the older man asked. “She must be with her maid.”
“Well, help me find her!” I said, raising my voice. When people started looking at us, I lowered it again. What would they think of me if they knew I lost my wife on our first day of marriage? “Can you get some people to look for her? I don’t know where else to look. But keep it discreet.”
Try as I might, the news ended up leaking as search party after the search party was formed. If Jennifer was in the estate, she hid as well as a ghost. And unless she was violently abducted, of which there was no evidence, it became clear she had abandoned me completely.
I slept alone on the silky bed meant for two.