Mo Noonan’s life is falling apart. She's failed out of grad school. Her fiancé just dumped her in front of all her friends. Her mother thinks she's a failure.
And now she's dead.
It's hard making friends with the dead, especially when you’ve been murdered, but Aedan Hanlon is willing to show Mo how to navigate the Underworld, though he keeps going on and on about facing her Truth. After spending time with Aedan, Mo begins to wonder, can the dead fall in love?
And if they do, why does the Goddess of the Dead have to mess everything up? Why can't Mo and Aedan just rest in peace?
What a beautiful wedding.
Mo had to admit that the day had turned out far differently than she thought it would. At first, she had resisted the entire idea. Weddings just weren’t her thing. But in the end, it really had turned out wonderfully, and she was glad she had agreed to be a part of it.
The Mother of the Bride or MOTB—Mo thought of her that way, in all caps—was in her element. She floated from one duty to another, cheerfully and sometimes snidely urging the women to do as she wished. “Maureen, that lipstick is too dark.”
Mo sighed and wiped off the deep wine color she liked, replacing it with the paler, rosier, glossier one the MOTB had chosen. Marion, one of the bridesmaids, rolled her eyes in sympathy. Another bridesmaid, Kate, snorted.
MOTB smiled at Mo. “That’s much better, dear. You’re so pretty when you’re dressed normally. I don’t know why you must always wear such dreadful, dark makeup. It makes you look so pale, like death.”
Kate and Marion looked at Mo, eyes wide.
Wow, rude MOTB. Mo opened her mouth to respond, then shut it. It would not do to cause a scene so close to the ceremony.
Gillian saved them all by intervening. “Could you please show me which bouquet is mine?” She took MOTB by the arm and led her over to the table where the flowers had been placed. Gillian knew which bouquet belonged to her...and probably to everyone else. They had been lectured regarding size and precedence twice already.
Mo walked over to the window that looked out onto open ground behind the stone church, which was tucked into a glen in the Scottish Lowlands. She loved the rolling landscape of her adopted country, especially now in the fall, when the hillsides still held a purplish tinge from the fading heather, and the browns and golds of the season gilded the land. The setting sun added to the luster. Motes of dust danced in the molten light. It was truly beautiful.
From somewhere in the depths of the church came a noise, a sort of howl that broke the spell. Everyone froze. This wasn’t what should have been heard minutes before a wedding. The women all looked at each other. MOTB left the room. Moments later, the organ began to play.
From outside came the sound of voices raised in argument. Mo leaned into the window, craning her neck to get a better view. Around the corner of the church came three men in dress kilts. The sandy-haired one was in the lead, and the other two—one brown-haired, one a large red-haired man―were chasing him.
Mo made a strangled noise.
“What?” Kate moved closer to Mo.
All Mo could do was point to the sandy-haired man. “Alisdair.” Her voice came out as a bare whisper.
The other three women rushed over. “And Rhys and Colm.” Marion pointed to the other men.
Where is Alisdair headed? There was nothing behind the church but an old cemetery and the rolling hills. She watched as Rhys caught up to Alisdair and stopped him, then stepped in front. Colm came up behind and placed his meaty hand on Alisdair’s shoulder, as if holding him in place so he wouldn’t run.
Rhys spoke animatedly for several moments, arms waving. Alisdair shook his head over and over again. Colm said nothing. He simply stood, looking grim.
“What’s going on?” Marian looked from face to face, but no one answered.
“Ladies!” MOTB had returned. “Get away from the window before the men see you.” The women obeyed without protest.
“What’s going on?” Marian asked again, as MOTB crossed the room and watched the scene unfolding outside.
MOTB looked indecisive for the first time that day, which was disconcerting. “The piper.” But the way her eyes shifted made Mo wonder if it was the truth.
“The piper made Alisdair upset?” Kate raised an eyebrow.
Mo understood. “Gareth. The piper reminds Alisdair of Gareth.” Kate, with her pretty blonde curls and London accent, had just joined their social group in the past nine months. She could not know that Alisdair had been deeply affected by the sudden death of his bandmate.
“But the piper was Alisdair’s idea.” Gillian shook her head. She hadn’t wanted her brother to have a piper at his wedding, not because of the trauma Alisdair had suffered, but because she didn’t like them.
“True.” Mo nodded. “But it’s almost three years to the day that Gareth and Ellie died. I didn’t know Alisdair well last year, but he hid away all that weekend. He was supposed to be my partner for a gaming contest, but he bailed at the last minute.”
“Poor Alisdair.” Marian bit her lip. Mo knew Marian had known Alisdair for years and had witnessed his depression. “Maybe I should go talk to him.” She headed for the door.
“No.” MOTB’s tone was sharp and stopped Marian in her tracks. “The men are coming back.”
The women looked at each other. From outside came the drone of a bagpipe being tuned. “That’s our cue,” Kate said.
Gillian walked over to the table and picked up her flowers. The other girls followed. “Here.” Marian handed Mo her bouquet, a lovely combination of sunflowers and burgundy roses.
“Thanks.” The smell of the roses engulfed her.
“Lead on, Macduff.” Kate indicated that Mo should go first.
Is quoting Macbeth bad luck at a wedding? Mo wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer. Instead, she led her friends out the door leading to the exterior of the church and around to where the piper stood.
When he saw the bride, he began playing in earnest. MOTB smiled beatifically at the group and then entered the church.
Mo turned around to take one last look at the setting sun before she, too, entered the building.
Yes, it certainly is a beautiful wedding.