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I pulled my purse around and reached inside, searching for my boarding pass. I pulled it out and looked up, scanning the screen for my flight number.
I felt a swish of fabric against my bare leg and snapped my head to the side. With surprise I saw it was the runaway bride, clutching a boarding pass and her pretty, strappy shoes in her hands, her brow furrowed as she looked up, studying the screen.
I took a moment to look her over out of the corner of my eye. She certainly looked like a bride, so I’d have to give her ten out of ten for effort. She had the ivory gown—perfectly fitted, tasteful, no meringue in sight—the veil, trailing from the top of her head down her back, and her perfectly styled dark hair hanging in curls over her shoulders. She was about my age and height, perhaps slightly taller, although I did have my three-inch heels on, so I was cheating a little—or a lot.
She turned and looked straight at me.
“Oh, hey,” I muttered, my face heating up. I had been so totally busted.
“Hey,” she replied with a faint smile.
I looked around, trying to spot the cameras. This had to be some kind of setup. When I spotted none, I said, “Can I ask you something?”
She returned her attention to the screen. “Actually, I’m trying to find my flight, but I don’t see it up there.”
“Do you want some help?” I offered, playing along with the charade—because that’s what this had to be.
The bride looked back at me, her face softening. “Yes, please. The agent said the gate wasn’t assigned yet, so I needed to check the board, and I’ve . . . I’ve had a stressful day.”
I chuckled. “I bet. Here.” I reached for her boarding pass, which she handed to me straight away. I checked the flight details. “You’re going to Baltimore?”
“I am?” she replied, her brows knitted together.
I took a step closer to her. I pointed at the destination listed on her boarding pass. “That’s what it says here.”
She shrugged, flashing me a smile that lit up her entire face. “I guess I’m going to Baltimore.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “You didn’t know where you were flying?” She shook her head. I looked around us again. “This is some kind of stunt, isn’t it? I mean, you’re a runaway bride, there must be a groom here or something, right?”
Her eyes flashed. “Todd’s here?” She scanned the people milling around us, some of whom were watching her, some talking behind their hands. A couple of girls were filming her on their phones.
“Who’s Todd?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at her. “Oh, I know what this is! It’s street theater, only, we’re at an airport, so technically this is airport theater, if that’s a thing. Is that a thing?”
The bride shot me a quizzical look. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can I have my boarding pass back, please?”
“Oh, of course.” I handed it to her and watched as she studied it, looking up at the screen once more.
My curiosity got the better of me. I had to ask. “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but are you for real?”
She turned to look at me. “What do you mean, ‘for real’?”
“I mean, are you an actual runaway bride?”
She shifted her weight, pressing her lips together. There was something in her expression, something that gave me the answer.
This was no stunt.
“You are, aren’t you?” I asked softly, putting my hand to my face. “You’ve run away from your own wedding.”
She nodded, her face grim. “And I need to get out of here. Before . . .”
“Before anyone realizes where you are?”
She nodded again. “Although, I don’t think they would look for me here. Would they?”
“Honey, it’s an airport and you’re a runaway bride. Of course, they will look for you here.”
She wrung her hands, and my heart went out to her. I had no clue what her story was or why she was here, standing next to me, the classic beautiful bride, but she looked lost, like she needed someone’s help.
“Do you know what? If you want to make it harder for them to find you, the first thing you’re going to have to do is lose the dress.”
She looked down, as though seeing her wedding dress for the first time. “Yeah, you’re right. But I didn’t bring anything else to wear. I’ll just have to go shopping when I get to . . . Baltimore.”
“I have a better idea,” I said with a smile. “I think we’re about the same dress size.” I pulled in my tummy. “I’ve got a spare pair of shorts and a T-shirt in my bag. Clean, not worn.” Which was mostly true. “How about we go to the ladies’ room and you can get changed into them?”
“You’d do that for me?” she asked, her voice cracking.
“Of course. Just as long as you didn’t murder anyone as well as run away from your wedding. I don’t want to be an accessory to a crime or anything.”
She let out a laugh. “No! Just left my future husband at the altar.” Her face fell as her words appeared to sink in. “I left my future husband at the altar.” She shook her head, her hand over her mouth. “I can’t believe I did that. Poor Todd.”
I noticed the group of people watching her had grown in numbers. For some reason I couldn’t explain, I felt protective of this woman. “Let’s go and get you changed, okay?”
She nodded dumbly. I took her hand in mine and led her past the ogling strangers into the ladies’ room.
Once inside, I pulled my spare T-shirt and pair of shorts out of my bag and handed them to her. “Here.”
“Thank you.” Her smile was weak and I could tell she was holding back the tears. “I . . . I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s Addison Bloom, but my friends call me Addi.” I extended my hand.
She leaned down and placed her shoes on the bathroom floor, straightened up, and placed both her hands on mine, clasping them tight. “I’m Sabrina Monroe. It’s great to meet my guardian angel.” Tears welled in her eyes as she smiled at me.
I laughed, as much enjoying the compliment as I was trying to lighten the mood. “I’ve never been called a guardian angel before. I kinda like it. Why don’t you go get changed? I’ll wait out here for you.”
“Sure.” Sabrina enclosed herself in the disabled stall, and I waited patiently outside. After a moment, she called out. “Um, Addi?”
She cracked the door and poked her head out. “I realize I’ve only known you for a few minutes, but I need your help getting out of this thing. Naomi, my maid of honor, helped me get into it, and I doubt I can do it myself. It’s a little complicated with all the buttons.”
Once we had wrangled with the dress and the veil clipped to the top of her head, she wrapped the dress around her arm to form it into a ball and unceremoniously dropped it on the floor.
If that didn’t tell me how she felt about getting married, nothing did.
Well, other than running out on her wedding, of course. That was a pretty darn clear sign, if ever there was.
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