Book Three of the Greg Tenorly Suspense Series
Greg Tenorly was the luckiest man in the world. The woman of his wildest dreams was standing beside him—at their wedding rehearsal. He knew he didn’t deserve her. Anybody could see that. He saw himself as a balding, average-looking 35-year-old. Cynthia was a strikingly beautiful 30-year-old redhead. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Cupid himself had flown in to break up the crazy mismatch.
But Cynthia saw something in Greg she couldn’t resist. Something she should have looked for in the eyes of her first groom. Troy was a rugged, handsome man. Nothing wrong with that. But he was also an abuser. And all the love he’d ever given her meant nothing after that first brutal slap across the face. Then came the boozing and hitting and steady barrage of obscenities.
So, this time around Cynthia was looking for something different. Greg was kind and thoughtful and funny. And regardless of what Greg thought, she did find him attractive—even on their first meeting. And the more she got to know him, the more attractive he became. She wasn’t marrying him just because he was a nice guy. She truly had the hots for him.
It was Thursday night, 6:20 PM. Greg and Cynthia were finishing up a run-through of the ceremony at First Baptist Church, Coreyville, where Greg was part-time music director. They were well on their way to happily ever after. Everything was perfect.
Until the phone call.
Cynthia’s mother, Beverly, was serving as her Maid of Honor. She had girlfriends her age at First State Bank where she was a vice president. But her mom was her closest friend. It might have seemed a little odd to some people—no mother sitting on the second pew, crying. No father to walk her down the aisle and give her away. She wished so much he was still alive to share in the joy.
“And then, Greg, I will invite you to kiss your bride,” said Dr. Huff, pastor of the church.
“What if she doesn’t want to be kissed?” said Sandy Vockelman, Greg’s Best Man. Sandy had a habit of cracking jokes at inappropriate times.
Dr. Huff shot him a stern, over the top of the glasses, stare that said, Sir, this is a holy place of worship—not a comedy club.
Cynthia turned to Greg and smiled. “Oh, I’ll definitely want to be kissed.”
Dr. Huff went on. “And then I will present you to the congregation as Mr. and Mrs. Greg Tenorly and the organist will play the Wedding March as you make your grand departure.”
“Great job, Greg,” said Sandy as he slapped him on the back.
“Now we’ll take a ten minute break and then do a second run-through,” said Dr. Huff.
Sandy leaned in to Greg and whispered, “He’s kidding, right? I’m starving.”
Dr. Huff checked his watch. “So, let’s all be back in our places at 6:34.”
Sandy decided to make a point of being back in his place at exactly 6:35. Even as a college music professor he was still somewhat rebellious. He put his arm around Greg as they walked down from the platform. “I hope this Italian restaurant you’ve been bragging about is worth the wait.”
“It’s fantastic. Believe me—you’ve got nothing in Dallas that can beat it.”
“Well, that’s a little hard to believe.”
“I’m telling you, Man. Their bread is better than Lugio’s.”
“Whoa. Now you’re getting sacrilegious. Nobody’s bread is better than Lugio’s.”
“We ate a ton of that stuff.”
“We had to. I couldn’t make it through my music theory homework without that bread.”
“Yeah, me either. And my music history, music literature…even math,” said Greg.
“It was a wonder I didn’t gain all my weight back, eating like that.”
“You were pumping iron every day. I’m the one who gained weight.”
“That’s true. But it looks like you’ve managed to trim down since the last time I saw you.”
“Thanks. I’ve been jogging with Cynthia.”
“That woman’s good for you, Buddy. Seriously—she’s amazing. Congratulations.”
Cynthia and her mom had gone to the ladies room, and were checking their hair and makeup.
“Sweetie, I’ve got to say that I’ve never seen you more happy,” said Beverly.
“He’s wonderful, Mom. He’s everything I need and want in a life-long partner. And I know he feels the same way.”
“Greg’s a very lucky man.”
“Yes. I’d agree with that.” She smiled at herself in the mirror. “And I am a very lucky woman.”
“Y’all are like a couple of teenagers when you’re together. So you should have a ball at Disney World.”
“You really could have come with us, Mom.”
“Nope. Three’s definitely a crowd when it comes to honeymoons. And besides, I’m gonna have a great time on the cruise with my church group.”
“But it’s going to be hard to stay in touch with you while we’re in Orlando and you’re out at sea.”
“You don’t need to stay in touch with me. It’s your honeymoon. I don’t want to hear from you until you get back. And that’s an order, Young Lady.”
“Okay, okay. So, I guess I shouldn’t worry about you.”
“Of course not. Just enjoy yourself. We can share our stories when we all get back home.”
Beverly had moved into her daughter’s house a few months earlier. There was some concern, especially on Greg’s part, that she would interfere with their lives. But Cynthia had reassured him that her mother would respect their privacy. And so far, she had. Except for a couple of times when she accidentally caught them making out on the couch.
When Sandy went into the men’s room, Greg walked down to his office to get the gift for his Best Man. It was a music engraving pen, stamped with the letters ‘SUV.’ Sandy was a composer who still preferred writing manuscripts the old fashioned way rather than using music software and a printer. He said he felt more connected to Bach, Beethoven and Verdi when he wrote out the music notation by hand.
Greg had used one of those pens a few times. And he wondered how many shirts his buddy had ruined over the years. If you got a single drop of that black Indian ink on your clothes, you could forget about the washing machine or the dry cleaners. That pair of pants or shirt was going straight to the trash can.
‘SUV’ was a nickname Sandy had picked it up as a ninth grader, at six-foot-two, 285 pounds. It was just too hard to resist when some kid realized Sandy’s middle name was Uriah. Sandy Uriah Vockelman—‘SUV.’
Sandy quickly corrected the boy. His first name was Alexander—Sandy was just a nickname. So, his initials were really ‘AUV.’ And you can’t create a nickname from another nickname. But it was too late. ‘SUV’ stuck. And he hated it. Maybe he would have liked it if he had been a offensive lineman. But he was no football player. His thing was choir and piano and music theory.
So, he began to work out with weights and trim down. By his senior year, he didn’t mind being called ‘SUV’ anymore because he was a slim, buffed-up guy. All of the choir girls wanted to go out with him—even some of those with boyfriends.
Greg sat down at his desk and pulled open a drawer and took out Sandy’s gift. His cell phone rang. He checked the caller id. It was anonymous.
“Hey, Greg. How’s it going?”
Greg didn’t recognize the man’s voice. “Uh…fine.”
“Cynthia’s going to look stunning in her wedding dress.”
“That’s for sure.” Greg still didn’t know who the caller was, but it seemed like he was supposed to know.
“There’s something I need to tell you about, though.”
“What’s that?” Greg waited for the punch line.
“Are you sure you can trust her?”
“What do mean? Who is this?”
“I’m afraid there are some things she hasn’t told you.”
“This is a joke, right? Who is this?”
“She’ll rip your heart out, Man.”
“This is not funny. Now, stop it. Who is this? Sandy?”
Greg heard a click. “Hello?”
The caller was gone.
If that was Sandy, Greg thought, I’m gonna kill him. He put the gift box in his jacket pocket and walked down the hallway. Sandy was standing outside the restroom, drinking from the water fountain.
“That wasn’t funny, Sandy.”
“Huh? Oh, you mean that wisecrack about Cynthia not wanting to kiss you?” He chuckled. “Yeah, sorry about that. Couldn’t resist.”
“No. I’m talking about you calling me and pretending to be somebody else.”
“Just now, while I was in my office.”
“Well, that wasn’t me, Man. Must have been some other weird friend of yours.”
“Are you serious? You didn’t just call me?”
“No. I really didn’t. Why? What did the guy say to you? Whatever it was, it sure got you upset.”
“No, it was nothing. Just somebody clowning around, I guess.”
“Then I’m sure he’ll take credit for it later. Probably at the rehearsal dinner. Hey—maybe it was the pastor. He seems like a real jokester.”
Greg looked around to make sure Dr. Huff wasn’t within earshot. Then he laughed along with his old buddy.
But as he and Sandy walked back toward the auditorium for the second run-through, Greg couldn’t shake off the uneasiness. The man on the phone didn’t sound like he was joking. But who would call him two days before the wedding and malign Cynthia’s character? Even though they had been together for less than a year, he felt he knew her well. And he wasn’t about to let some stranger or prankster rattle his faith in her.