The Missing Bride

“I told you I have a very important deal to finalize; I will try to come as soon as possible”, said Mr. Smith.

“Okay, I understand”, said Rebecca plainly and hung up. A tear rolled down her cheek and many others following its lead, started falling on the pillow in her lap.

“Oh dear”, comforted Mrs. Stuart, “there is nothing to be upset about. He will be there I assure you. Now don’t you give it any more thought my dear! Let me see that beautiful smile of yours… there you go.” She beamed at Rebecca and hugged her tightly.

“If the drama queen is done, can she spare me some time?” said Joe mockingly. Rebecca threw a pillow at him but he dodged it. Mrs. Stuart laughed at their childish behavior, kissed Rebecca on the cheeks, bade them both good night and left the room.

“So tomorrow’s going to be a great day for you”, said Joe after Mrs. Stuart had left the room.
“Indeed”, said Rebecca with her eyes fixed on the wall. “It’s supposed to be the best day of my life.”

Mr. James Smith was a prominent and successful businessman. His flourishing business was the cause of his lavish lifestyle. He had this amazing house that people called ‘The White Palace’ due to its beauty and hugeness. He had only one daughter, Rebecca Smith. He lost his dear wife when Rebecca was only seven years old in a car accident. Had it not been for Rebecca, he was devastated. He pulled himself together and decided to move on with life so that he could strive to provide his daughter with a better future. Mrs. Merry Stuart was his only sister who was a widow and had no children. May be this was the reason she loved Rebecca extremely. So Mr. Smith gave the responsibility of his little daughter to her and busied himself with his work. Mrs. Stuart raised Rebecca like her own daughter and she grew into a very fine beautiful lady.

Rebecca Smith was a very sensitive person and who wouldn’t be after they have seen so much in such a little age? Her mother’s accident left some deep scars in her memory that shone brightly whenever she was alone. Otherwise, she remained joyful all the time. She would be very mischievous at times, having little playful joint ventures with Joseph Turner. Joseph, or Joe as she called her, was her best friend from school and they were always found together. Despite all her cheerfulness, she missed her mother very much. The little memory she had of the time that she spent with her would play in her mind in a flashback. She kept staring at her mother’s picture before going to bed daily. But what she missed the most was her father’s time and attention. He was always too busy. He was way too busy to attend her birthdays, her parent-teacher meetings, her sports days at school, her graduation ceremony, and lastly her wedding! She was getting married to a doctor, Edward Williams, who was the son of a friend of Mrs. Stuart. He had seen her in a party and fell in love with her at first sight. She loved him too and was really looking forward to the day they would get married. It was the most special day of her life that’s why she naturally expected her father to be present there. But the night before the wedding, he called her and told her that he would be late for the ceremony as he is preoccupied with some official tasks. She would always understand her father’s reasons for his absence but this time she wasn’t ready to do the same. This time had to be different.

Rebecca had no trouble getting up early; the reason being she didn’t sleep at all. She had so much to do before actually getting ready for the wedding. She hurried across the house doing one thing or the other. The ceremony was to be held at 6 pm and it was already 1pm. She had been asking Mrs. Stuart for the past two hours if Joe had come yet. Rebecca’s face would get angrier after every time she shook her head in a no. “Why isn’t he here yet? He should have been here by now. He was supposed to bring Rosetta an hour ago”, said Rebecca nearly crying.

“Thank you all for missing me”, echoed Joe’s voice in the hall. He had brought Rosetta who had to dress Rebecca up and do her makeup.

“You… you are so dead”, yelled Rebecca at him from across the hall and was about to run towards him to chase him when Mrs. Stuart held her arm and dragged her to her room with Rosetta.

“No time for all this now”, she said with artificial anger, “start getting ready now.” Joe whistled merrily and said, “Don’t worry we will have plenty of time to settle all this.” He winked at Rebecca and continued whistling.

The White Palace really looked like a palace. The lights and decorations were all very appealing and pleasing to the eyes. The guests had started arriving and were guided by Mrs. Stuart to their seats. Everyone kept looking at the stairs to see if the bride had come yet. Mrs. Stuart sent Joe to check if she was ready and bring her then. Almost half an hour went by and Joe didn’t return. Mrs. Stuart now started getting a little angry and decided to go upstairs herself. She pushed the door open and was about to scold everyone when she saw Joe sitting on the couch holding his head in his hands. Rosetta was sitting on the bed and looked on the verge of tears.

“What’s wrong with you two? What happened? Wait… where’s Rebecca?” asked Mrs. Stuart sensing the tension in the air.

“We… we don’t know… we are not sure…” exclaimed Rosetta hesitatingly.

“What do you mean? What’s the matter? Please tell me what’s going on here? And where is Rebecca anyway? Everyone is waiting for her downstairs, even the groom and his family is here now”, said Mrs. Stuart.

“Well…” said Joe, “ the thing is that we don’t know where Rebecca is. Rosetta got her ready and then went to the changing room to get ready herself. But when I came to the room, it was empty. Rebecca was not here, nor was she in any of the other rooms as I checked the whole house myself. I looked for her everywhere but she is nowhere to be found. Her cell is lying here on the bed. She has simply disappeared!”

Mrs. Stuart sank into a chair, unable to speak. She was too shocked to respond to them. Rosetta brought her some water and then ran to call the doctor. Meanwhile Joe called Mr. Smith and told him the whole sad yet intriguing incident. Mr. Smith couldn’t believe it and said that he was going to take the first flight back home. Joe then hurried downstairs and broke the shocking news to them. Everyone was astonished and wordless. It was Edward who broke the silence and came to Joe and suggested that they once again searched the house. The search was made; her friends were called but in vain. Everyone was waiting for Mr. Smith now, for it was going to be his decision whether the matter should be handed to police or not.

The darkness of the night had crept up when Mr. Smith entered his house. He looked as white as his palace and was almost trembling. Joe approached him and retold the story and asked if he thought it right to involve the police. Mr. Smith was too shaken up to answer at once and seemed deep in thought. Suddenly the house phone rang. Joe hastened to pick it up but Mr. Smith went to get it himself. The little color that remained on his face now drained off as he listened to the caller. When he hung up, everyone rushed to him to hear any news about Rebecca. He told them that she had been kidnapped and the kidnapper had asked him to come alone to rescue her and the price of her daughter’s freedom will be told on the spot. He received clear and severe instructions that he will be only endangering his daughter’s life if he brought someone with him or anyone followed him.

So Mr. Smith left the house drove to the spot he had been told by the kidnapper. It was a small deserted road that led to a highway afterwards. On the sideway were a lot of old big trees and bushes and it was pitch dark there. Mr. Smith parked his car and looked around but there was no one to be seen.

“Rebecca!” he called out. There was no answer for some time. Then he heard Rebecca’s sweet soft sound calling him from the trees, “Daddy… daddy I am here.” Mr. Smith turned on the headlights so that they could light up the area a little. He then ran through the trees screaming her name and looking for her. He didn’t have to go too far when he found her sitting under a tree. She was not tied and looked unharmed; to her father she looked like a pure, innocent fairy dressed in white. He took her hand and raised her to her feet and hugged her. They both were crying and held each other’s hands. Then Mr. Smith said, “I don’t understand, a guy called me and said you were kidnapped… I was afraid that I might never see you again… I swear I would have given anything to bring you back…”

Rebecca interrupted him and said, “I know you must be confused as to what is it all really about. It was all a plan daddy which I came up with and Joe was my partner. According to the scheme, when Joe came upstairs to take me to the ceremony, he helped me escape through the back door where another friend was waiting in the car to take me away. We designed a plan to force you to come; a plan to turn the events in such a way that you could be with me, a plan to make you realize that I needed you. I am sorry daddy that I made everyone worried because of me but I had to take this bold step because I wanted my father to be present on the most important day of my life. I wanted him to be the one walking me down the aisle; I wanted him to witness me starting a new life. I just simply couldn’t bear the fact that you, like always, were going to miss my party!”

Rebecca’s voice was shaky as she was crying too much and pouring her heart out in front of her father. Mr. Smith was immobile and speechless, for each and every word that her daughter uttered was true. He had been neglecting her the whole time; thinking that it’s only money and luxury that she needs. His eyes were getting wetter as she enlightened him of her loneliness and all the times that she missed him.

“Speak no more my child,” he said, “I realize now how wrong I was. What you did is justified. What an unfortunate father I would have been if I didn’t have time to be there with my own daughter on her wedding.” He held her close and walked towards the car. Then he took the steering and drove towards the light and radiance of the city. It was indeed a special day and for both of them.

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