Corinne McAllister was a girl I’d dated precisely three times in high school, but who still managed to get an unbreakable grip on my heart. When her dad was transferred to Seattle my world was devastated. Now, ten years later, an anonymous e-mail told me she was back in town. We arranged to meet at S.U.D.S., a friendly bar not far from my apartment.
When she walked in I knew her in an instant. She had the same gorgeous blonde hair, the same lithe figure, the same button nose. I hadn’t expected the form-fitting satin wedding gown. Her eyes lit up when she saw me.
“Jack! You look fantastic!”
“Thanks, Corinne, you too. But?” I gestured at the gown.
“I’m supposed to be getting married today, but things have gone south. I need a big favour.”
Despite the fact that my heart was being torn out through my chest, I had no choice. For her, anything. “Sure, what is it?”
“I need a groom.”
“What? What’s going on, Corinne?”
“Will you do it? Come on, we can talk when we get there.”
She towed me out the door and across the street to a small church. The minister looked a bit confused as we went into a small dressing room. There was a tuxedo waiting, which looked fairly close to my size.
“Put this on while I explain.”
While I dressed she told me that she was part of a secret anti-terrorist organization that was trying to stop some major league crazies from releasing a biological weapon in downtown Chicago. The wedding was a front; the real goal was the five star resort in Colorado where we would be going on our honeymoon, and where they were headquartered. The guy that was supposed to be her partner had come down with a case of steel-jacketed lead poisoning a couple of days ago. That was where I came in.
“Isn’t this a little complicated, Corinne?”
“It’s all we’ve got. The resort is booked up for months, and our only way in is a contest prize won by one of our sleeper agents. Don’t worry, I’ll be there to protect you.”
“It won’t be a legal marriage, silly; we’re both using assumed names. I’m Cindy McWilliams and you’re John Appleby. Do you still do target shooting on Thursday nights?”
I was surprised she remembered. “Yes, but …”
“I’ll give you a gun; hopefully you won’t need it. Protecting yourself is like target shooting, except the targets move and fire back.”
“What about the, um, sleeping arrangements?”
“In two hours you’ll be my husband. I’ve been waiting ten years to take advantage of that. If we can make this team work, we should be able to stay together for a long time.”
It was dangerous, it was insane. It was probably suicidal. But it was either run off with a gorgeous spy on a dangerous adventure or go back to selling men’s wear at the department store. I kissed the bride.
Originally posted to Writer's Digest.