Read Death by Engagement Online

Authors: Jaden Skye

Death by Engagement

D E A T H   B Y   E N G A G E M E N T

 

(book #12 in the CARIBBEAN MURDER SERIES)

 

 

Jaden Skye

 

About Jaden Skye

Jaden
Skye is author of the #1 Bestselling CARIBBEAN MURDER series, which includes 12
books (and counting). The first book in the series, DEATH BY HONEYMOON, a #1
Bestseller, is now available as a
FREE
download on Amazon
!

Also
in the series are DEATH BY DIVORCE (#2), DEATH BY MARRIAGE (#3), DEATH BY
DESIRE (#4), DEATH BY DECEIT (#5), DEATH BY JEALOUSY (#6), DEATH BY PROPOSAL
(#7), DEATH BY OBSESSION (#8), DEATH BY DEVOTION (#9) and DEATH BY BETRAYAL
(#10). She is also author of the romance A PERFECT STRANGER.

Jaden
has always been fascinated with mystery, wrongful death, lies, deception and
the power of the truth to prevail. Her romantic suspense/mystery novels feature
strong female protagonists who must overcome insurmountable obstacles, and
through them, she seeks to get to the very heart of the nature of justice and
love.

Please
visit
www.jadenskye.com
to find links to
stay in touch with Jaden via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, her blog, and a
whole bunch of other places. Jaden loves to hear from you, so don't be shy and
check back often!

Books
by Jaden Skye

THE CARIBBEAN MURDER SERIES
DEATH BY HONEYMOON (Book #1)
DEATH BY DIVORCE (Book #2)
DEATH BY MARRIAGE (Book #3)
DEATH BY DESIRE (Book #4)
DEATH BY DECEIT (Book #5)
DEATH BY JEALOUSY (Book #6)

DEATH
BY PROPOSAL (Book #7)
DEATH BY OBSESSION (Book #8)
DEATH BY DEVOTION (Book #9)
DEATH BY BETRAYAL (Book #10)
THE TOM’S RIVER SAGA
A PERFECT STRANGER (Book #1)

 

Tap
here to download Jaden Skye books on Amazon now!

 

 

Copyright
© 2014 by Jaden Skye

All
rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no
part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any
form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the
prior permission of the author.

This
ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be
re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If
you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for
your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are
the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Prologue

 

Neither
Cindy nor Mattheus could believe the time had truly come. The plane they were
on headed from Jamaica to Aruba was getting ready to land.

“We’re
here, we’ve done it.” Mattheus pulled Cindy closer to him. “I had no idea I
would feel this thrilled and victorious.”

Cindy
felt thrilled as well. Mattheus had repeatedly told her that Aruba was voted
the second best place for destination weddings and that was where they had to
go next. This was a trip not only to celebrate their engagement, but to check
out wedding venues and set a date. Cindy was amazed that Mattheus wanted a
large wedding and was so excited about planning it. He was going to invite
whoever was left of his family, an old uncle he grew up around, the police
force he’d worked with on the islands and all kinds of assorted friends. Cindy
was also surprised that she wanted to be more private. She wasn’t at all sure
yet who she would invite.

“Buckle
your seat belts. Get ready for landing,” the voice of the flight attendant came
over the loudspeaker, breaking into Cindy’s thoughts.

“We’ve
done it, Cindy,” Mattheus whispered. “It’s only a matter of days now before we
find the venue, set a date and tell the world.”

Cindy
buckled up slowly and carefully. “The date will depend on availability of the
venue, won’t it?” she asked.

“Yes,
it might, but I’m not waiting long,” said Mattheus. “I’ve waited long enough.
I’m totally ready now.”

Tears
stung Cindy’s eyes, as Mattheus grabbed her hand. She couldn’t help but
remember the plans she’d made for her wedding to Clint. There’d been endless
arrangements that had taken forever, with everyone in the family having their
say. Without a doubt, it was time to move on now. Cindy was sure of her love
for Mattheus and of his for her. She was surprised, though, to realize that
this time she would have been just as happy with a small ceremony, for a few
family members and friends.

“I
want the whole world to know about our wedding,” Mattheus proclaimed as the
plane began to descend. “We deserve a lavish celebration. We’ve earned it.”

Cindy
smiled and said nothing as the plane swooped into the fading light of the early
October evening.

Chapter 1

 

Each
wedding venue had been more beautiful than the next. The Saint-Croix Hotel,
where Cindy and Mattheus were now, was the third venue they’d visited since
they’d arrived in Aruba. The wedding planner who greeted them was tall, suntanned,
elegant, and spoke to them as if they were the only couple he’d ever taken on
the tour. He told them that their most exquisite dreams could come true right
here at the Saint-Croix.

“The
Saint-Croix Hotel will bring your wedding to life,” he crooned. “You’ll have
whatever you desire. You can choose from the simplicity of a barefoot ceremony
on the beach underneath a native gazebo, to an extravagant ballroom gala for up
to five hundred guests.”

The
thought of having five hundred guests at her wedding made Cindy feel weak.

“Your
wedding will be replete with tropical cocktails served in coconut shells, with
strands of gardenias and lilacs hung overhead,” he continued, smiling and
displaying a row of perfect white teeth.

Cindy’s
head was spinning, but Mattheus seemed delighted and intrigued, completely
caught up in the image of paradise momentarily coming alive.

“Your
[cl1]
 
guests will never forget the
occasion,” the wedding planner practically drooled.

“Not
exactly five hundred guests, though,” Mattheus joined in laughing, thoroughly
enjoying the tour and taking in every possible detail.

In
the particular venue Cindy and Mattheus were in everything was on a larger
scale. As they stood in the spacious indoor ballroom, they could also see the
breathtaking beachfront wedding setting, featuring a bamboo stage for the bride
and groom to stand on while taking their vows. Formal gardens surrounded the
hotel and there was also a casino for guests to enjoy after the wedding, as
well as a personal spa to luxuriate in. It was all part of the package. Taking
it all in, Cindy felt as if she were transported to another world.

As
Mattheus chatted with the wedding planner, another couple entered the ballroom,
with a wedding planner and tour of their own. Cindy enjoyed seeing the couple
go through the same routine. Cindy smiled at the young woman, who quickly
smiled back. The bride-to-be was in her late twenties, tall, striking and
languid with wavy blonde hair and large eyes. The groom-to-be stood a few steps
away, handsome and solid, with dark brown hair. They looked like a storybook
couple about to embark upon the happiest time of their lives. Cindy wondered
how she and Mattheus seemed to them. Was there any way anyone could realize
that this would be a second marriage for Cindy? Did she and Mattheus seem older
and weatherworn? As Cindy looked at the couple, they followed their wedding
planner and ambled over close to where she and Mattheus were standing.

Cindy
listened to their wedding planner speaking to them in a lilting tone, casting a
spell.

“It’s
up to you,” he was saying. “Your wedding package could include both a
beachfront wedding and golf course ceremony, if you like. We’ll take care of
everything. You’ll have a fresh floral bouquet, groom boutonniere, pre-recorded
background music, a floor-draped tables, bottles of champagne, two torches and
a palm-fringed aisle with a candle walk.”

The
couple nodded
nondescriptly
[cl2]
 
, taking it all in and saying little
in return.

“Dream
weddings don’t just happen, they’re planned,” their wedding planner continued.
“At our venue we all sit down together and make sure everything meets your
needs.”

“Do
we get the same treatment?” Mattheus joked with their wedding planner then.

“Absolutely,”
he said quickly. “We help you execute every little detail so that all your
dreams become a reality on your glorious day.”

Mattheus
threw a quick look at Cindy. “I like this place,” he said in a low tone.

“We
have two more to check out first,” Cindy reminded him, “then we can choose.”

“So
far we like this very much,” Mattheus announced to the planner. “We have to
look at one or two more, but then we’ll be back.”

“Certainly,”
the planner replied, as though this were common practice. He was accustomed to
it. “First, follow me down the hall and let me show you our wedding preparation
room. Then you can have cocktails in our Conch Club, right on the water, and
talk it over.”

Cindy
and Mattheus followed him out of the ballroom to the next stop. Just before she
left the ballroom, though, Cindy turned back and glanced at the other couple to
see how they were doing. To Cindy’s surprise the young woman was watching her,
rather than listening to what her planner was saying. Cindy waved a light
good-bye, and the young woman raised her hand and waved back.

After
Cindy left the ballroom and followed the planner down the long, carpeted
hallway, a moment of sadness filled her heart, though she had no idea why.

*

After
they finished the tour, Cindy and Mattheus drifted over to the Conch Club,
which was perched out over a beautiful stretch of sand, surrounded by water and
sky.

The
maître d’ greeted them graciously. “A bride- and groom-to-be?” he asked as he
gently led them to a wicker table at the water’s edge. “I’m delighted to let
you know that a welcome cocktail is awaiting you, as a gift from the hotel.”

Mattheus
laughed. “This place sure has their act together,” he said to Cindy when the
maître d’ left. “They spot a wedding coming from a mile away.”

“The
planners probably send all the couples here straight from the tour,” Cindy
replied. “Let’s see if that other couple doesn’t arrive in a few minutes as
well.”

Cindy
and Mattheus took their seats and smiled at each other delightedly as the waves
lapped against the edges of the club. Filled with joy, Mattheus reached out for
Cindy’s hands as a large, beautiful bird perched before them for a moment, spun
around and then flew on.

“Which
place do you like best, so far?” Mattheus asked then.

“Actually,
they all seemed pretty much the same to me,” said Cindy softly. “I like them
all. Whichever you want is fine with me.”

Mattheus
looked momentarily puzzled. “Really? You usually have such strong opinions
about everything.”

“They’re
all magical,” Cindy repeated, as from the corner of her eye, she saw the other
couple enter the club. “Look at that, here’s the other couple,” she continued,
“just as we predicted.”

Mattheus
looked over at them as the maître d’ led the couple to a small table right
beside Cindy and Mattheus.

The
young woman smiled at Cindy as they sat down. “Looks like we’re fated to meet
each other again,” she said playfully. “I’m Shari.”

“I’m
Cindy, and this is my
fiancé,
[cl3]
 
Mattheus,” Cindy responded. “It’s a
pleasure to meet you.”

“Thank
you, a pleasure to meet you, too,” Shari replied. “It’s fun to see another
couple going through the same thing. This is Doug,” and she motioned to her
groom-to-be.

The
four of them smiled at each other pleasantly as a waiter glided their way,
carrying an ivory tray on which stood four scrumptious tropical cocktails.

“I
guess we’ll all be drinking together,” Shari remarked, as the waiter arrived,
handing each one their drink.

“Let’s
toast to all of us,” Mattheus responded, lifting his glass happily.

“To
all of us,” Shari echoed as everyone lifted their glasses and drank.

“How
long have you been looking for venues?” Doug asked after they all put their
glasses down. “We’ve been doing it for three days now, and Shari’s family’s
down here too, to give the final okay.”

“Sounds
like quite a gathering,” Cindy chimed in.

“You
could call it that.” Shari smiled. “My family insisted on joining us. I can’t
make up my mind about which place is best, though. None of them feel just
right. What do you think? Which one do you like best?”

“They
all seem fine to me,” said Cindy.

“Really?”
Shari was surprised. “All of them?”

“Shari
is very particular,” Doug interjected, “and so is her mother. I thought we’d
find the place in a day. But it seems there’s something wrong with each one of
them.”

“Nothing
important happens in a day,” Shari replied, a bit ill at ease.

“Okay,
two days then.” Doug cracked a smile, seemingly the more practical of the two.

“How
about you?” Shari turned to Mattheus. “Which venue do you like best?”

“I
like the one we’re in right now,” said Mattheus. “In fact, I’m ready to find a
date and take it.”

“Just
like that?” Shari’s eyes opened wide. She had a fragile quality that was
endearing.

“Not
everybody has to go over every detail again and again,” Doug interjected. “Some
people just make up their minds and act.”

Shari
lifted her glass to her lips and drank what was left of her cocktail all down
quickly.

“We
made up our minds to get married, and so it’s not such a big deal which venue
we do it in,” said Doug. “If you ask me there’s almost no difference between
them.”

Shari
put her glass down and shook her head lightly. “Men, men, men,” she said,
turning to Cindy.

Cindy
smiled. “They can be quite confusing at times.”

Shari
leaned closer to Cindy. “Everything can be quite confusing at times,” she
murmured.

Cindy
looked at her, surprised.

“Shari’s
indecision can be quite charming, of course,” Doug said to Mattheus,
interrupting. “Sooner or later, she’ll just let me pick a venue and then she’ll
like it as well. She always comes around eventually.”

Cindy
noticed that Doug spoke about Shari as if she weren’t there. Shari didn’t seem
to mind at all, though. In fact, she seemed to like it.

“Doug
knows me so well,” Shari giggled.

“I
prefer a woman who knows what she wants and lets me know as well,” Mattheus
commented. “Cindy’s basically a tiger about most things in our lives.”

“A
tiger?” Shari’s eyes grew round. She was obviously fascinated by Cindy and
Mattheus and Cindy found her interesting as well. Cindy was also surprised to
be thought of as a tiger; hadn’t quite seen herself that way.

“I’m
a tiger in a manner of speaking,” said Cindy, laughing. “At work I’m a tiger,
at home, I’m just me.”

“Have
you two known each other for a long time?” asked Shari.

“Long
enough,” said Mattheus, and they all laughed.

“How
about you two?” asked Cindy.

“We’ve
known each other forever,” Shari answered quickly. “We started dating in
college.”

“That’s
a long time.” Mattheus nodded.

“Not
long enough,” Doug replied.

It
was enjoyable to meet and chat with another couple who were also recently
engaged and looking for wedding venues in the same location. It was also
interesting to learn that Shari, Doug and Shari’s family were staying at the
same hotel as Cindy and Mattheus. After talking a bit more the four of them got
up, wished each other well, and left to go their separate ways.

*

Cindy
and Mattheus took a cab back to the hotel. They were going to rest a bit,
change and prepare for a beautiful evening together, dancing and dining under
the stars. Cindy had brought silky romantic dresses along and beautiful
jewelry. The time she and Mattheus were sharing together now, itself felt like
a honeymoon. She couldn’t imagine anything better. She’d never felt as close to
Mattheus, as relaxed and happy and ready to take the next step with him.

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