Jared managed to catch Mary’s upper body before she hit the floor. But his left leg gave out from the added weight, and he dropped to his knees, holding her head and shoulders on his lap. He leaned over and snagged her cell phone to call 911, but a voice shouting from the phone halted his movement.
He put the phone to his ear. “Hello?”
“Mary?” A woman asked.
Jared looked at Mary cradled in his lap, her eyelids fluttering. “Who is this?”
“Sylvia, David’s sister.” Sylvia cleared her throat. “Who are you?”
He gripped the phone. “Mary fainted. What did you say to her?” He eased Mary off of his lap onto the floor and then pulled himself up, his feet crushing the wildflowers.
The woman sniffled. “Is she okay?”
“She will be. Tell me what happened.” Holding the phone to his hear, he dashed over to the sink for a glass of water.
“There was a car accident, on the way to airport. I just heard from the police that David, he, a tractor-trailer crashed into his car and—” Sylvia broke down into sobs.
If Jared wasn’t worried about Mary, he would have enjoyed Sylvia’s performance more. She had the tone down, the little quiver in her voice. She played her part very convincingly. If he didn’t know David Kline was a phony, he would believe every syllable. But he had to convince Sylvia he did believe what she was saying not to tip her off that someone was wise to their scheme. He filled a glass with water from the kitchen sink and then grabbed a throw pillow from the living room couch on his way back to Mary.
Slipping the pillow under Mary’s head, he injected anxiety into his voice when he asked, “Is he all right?”
“David didn’t make it.” Sylvia wailed. “I don’t know what to do.”
Mary stirred and opened her eyes. “Jared?”
He stroked her hair with his free hand. “I’m sure Mary will want details when she’s recovered from the shock. Can she reach you at this number?”
“Yes.” The woman blew her nose. “I’m glad she has somebody with her at this time. Tell her I’ll call her tomorrow, but she can reach me anytime.”
Jared ended the conversation and gazed down into Mary’s bewildered eyes as they filled with tears. She whispered, “Is he really dead?”
Nodding, he gathered her in his arms and began to sing softly. “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb, Mary had a little lamb it’s fleece was white as snow.” He sang nonsensical nursery rhymes while she sobbed in his arms. This wasn’t quite the way he pictured things turning out. Not by a long shot.
# # #
“And that’s how it’s done.” Sylvia grinned smugly as she turned off the phone and tapped it against her cheek.
“Good job.” David raised his hand in the air and Sylvia met it with a high-five. David leaned back in his chair and grinned. “How’d Mary take my demise?”
Sylvia chuckled. “By fainting, apparently. Some man answered her cell phone.”
David narrowed his eyes. “Probably Jared. I think Mary’s in love with him.”
“I thought Mary loved you.” Sylvia raised her eyebrows. “Or is the double-timer getting double-timed.”
David snorted. “Nobody cheats on me online.”
“You’re that good.”
“Yep, and you know it.” He folded his arms.
Sylvia walked over and dropped a kiss on top of his head. “You verified the money’s in the bank, right?”
“Yes, got confirmation that the wire transfer went through this morning.” David pulled away and stood. He took a deep breath as he flexed his hands then balled them into fists. “Jared could be trouble.”
“Don’t worry. You didn’t hear the concern in the man’s voice for her. She’s a grief-stricken bride left practically at the altar.” She guided him back into the chair and eased onto his lap. “We’ll be long gone with the money before she realizes it.”
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.