The Goodbye Bride

By: Denise Hunter

“Wait,” Lucy said, her voice muffled. “Summer Harbor?”

“No, honey. Portland.”

“Portland . . .?” Lucy asked. “Portland, Oregon?”

“What? No. Maine. Portland, Maine.”

Ah, for the love of— Zac poked his fingers into his eye sockets. “Lucy.” More shuffling. “Lucy.”

“I’m right here. Zac, I’m in—”

“I heard.” He gave a quiet growl. He shouldn’t even be thinking about doing this. She was gone from his life. He was finally over her.

Sure you are. That’s why you’re going to rush to her rescue.

He’d always been so weak where Lucy was concerned. She’d had him in the palm of her hand since the day she’d walked into the Roadhouse. Right up until she stomped all over his heart with her fancy pointy-toed heels.

“This better not be some trick, Lucy.”

“Why would I even do that?” Her voice was a mixture of outrage and hurt.

He huffed. Like he’d ever been able to figure her out.

“Please, Zac. I’m truly desperate.”

His resolve crumbled at the sound of tears in her voice. Aw, dang it. He’d never be able to live with himself if something happened to her. He ran his palm over his face as resolve settled over him.

“Sit tight. I’ll be there in a few hours.”

Chapter 2

Lucy stared out at the bustling harbor. Her backside was numb from the wooden bench she’d been sitting on since her call to Zac. After she’d hung up she’d been eager to escape the glowering manager, curious patrons, and nauseating smells coming from the kitchen. She’d hiked up her skirts and crossed the street, relieved to find an out-of-the-way bench where she could ruminate in private.

She’d had hours to think, or so it seemed, and she’d reached a disturbing conclusion. She’d definitely lost a month of her life. There was no getting around it. She wasn’t sure why she was in Portland or why Zac was in Summer Harbor, but she had to face it—her brain wasn’t operating at optimum capacity.

She felt mildly dizzy, and her vision was slightly blurred no matter how hard she tried to blink it away. The sunlight glinting off the water felt like knife blades jabbing her in the eyes. She closed them against the pain and focused on breathing.

While the headache and dizziness were disorienting, the anxiety roiling in her gut was even worse. What was wrong with her? Were the memories of the past month gone forever? Did she have a serious injury? How long would this befuddled state last? What if it never went away?

She watched a lobster boat coming in off the water, the men quitting for the day. What time was it? What was taking Zac so long?

What if he didn’t come?

Ridiculous. Of course he’d come. He loved her.

She thought back to their phone call. The sound of his voice, his Mainer accent, had been so reassuring, the dropped r’s as familiar as the sound of waves rolling ashore. Lobstah. Satahday. Chowdah.

She frowned, the memory of the call digging in deeper. The conversation was fuzzy. He’d seemed out of sorts, but she couldn’t remember exactly what he’d said.

What if she had a brain injury? She was going to have to go to the hospital, she just knew it. Anxiety swelled inside. She was suddenly eight years old and sitting alone by her mother’s hospital bed. A machine beeped quietly, keeping track of her heartbeats.

Until it stopped altogether.

Lucy’s heart pounded at the memory, making her headache worse. The hospital felt like death. Smelled like death. But she would have to go.

You won’t die, Lucy. What is the matter with you?

She didn’t have the time or mental capacity to answer that question. And why could she remember something that happened sixteen years ago when she couldn’t remember putting on her wedding gown only hours ago?


She turned at the deep timbre of Zac’s voice. Her heart soared at the sight of his familiar face. His strong, masculine features, the sharp turn of his jaw. She knew every curve and angle by heart. She frowned at the sight of his short beard. His black hair was longer than she remembered too, a thick curl falling over his forehead.

Shaking the confusion, she jumped up and took a step toward him, eager for the safety of his arms. But the world tilted, and she stumbled sideways on the walkway.

Zac sped to her side, catching her by the elbows. “What are you doing?”

She winced at the gruffness in his voice. Her grip tightened on his forearms. She blinked away the dizziness and stared into his gray eyes, wishing she could see more clearly. He felt stiff and sounded cold. Not at all like her Zac.

“Zac . . . I’m so glad to see you. Will you take me home? Please?”

“Just sit down for now.” He eased her back until she hit the bench, letting go as soon as she was seated.

She looked down at the dress, clutching the frothy material. Their wedding day was ruined. Completely ruined. After all that work.

Sudden tears clogged her throat, filled her eyes. “You weren’t supposed to see me yet.”

Not until she came down the aisle. There was supposed to be awestruck wonder on his face. It was a bride’s right, for gosh sakes. She’d wanted the altar lights on just to be sure she caught a glimpse of his expression.

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