The Best Man to Trust - By Kerry Connor

Chapter One

The storm was getting worse.

Meredith Sutton stood in the open doorway and watched the darkness gathering over Sutton Hall. The snow had been coming down for a several hours now, but it was only in the past couple that it had become clear just how bad this storm would be. The wind had picked up, shaking the windows and whistling through the eaves. Light flurries had turned into a heavy downfall, as though a white curtain had been dropped over the world. The curtain was still translucent, but soon it would be impenetrable.

Staring out into the snow, Meredith tried to convince herself that the feeling of unease weighing down on her was solely due to the weather.

Unfortunately, lying to herself wasn’t that easy. As she kept an eye on the end of the driveway, she was entirely too aware of the cause of her apprehension.

They should have been here by now. If they didn’t arrive soon, they might not arrive at all. They might be forced to stay in town, or at the airport.

Which might not be such a bad thing, a voice whispered in the back of her mind.

Meredith did her best to shake off the doubts. Nothing was going to happen this weekend. The wedding would go perfectly.

She would never make it through the next few days if she let herself think otherwise.

“Any sign of them yet?”

The voice came from behind her, just before Rick Tucker, the new handyman at Sutton Hall, appeared beside her to stick his head outside and look for himself.

“Not yet,” Meredith said.

“They should be here by now,” Rick murmured. “Hope they didn’t get stuck in town.”

“Hmm,” Meredith replied, unable to bring herself to agree. “If they were smart they wouldn’t try to make it up the mountain in this weather.”

“I guess so. Shame if the wedding was canceled, though. It’ll be nice to get the first wedding under our belts, won’t it? Finally get a fresh start for this place.”

“Yes, it will.” Funny, but when she’d come here, she was supposed be the one getting a fresh start. She’d never dreamed the place itself would need one, never imagined the terrible things that would happen here.

It had been a year and a half since she and her brother, Adam, inherited Sutton Hall, an elegant manor in the mountains of Vermont, from a distant relative they’d never heard of. A year and a half since she had taken one look at the high ceilings and gorgeous wooden interiors, the mountain views and garden outside, and decided this would be a beautiful place to hold weddings. A year and a half since she’d begun work on the business that was supposed to be her new beginning.

And six months since the first bride to come to Sutton Hall had been murdered, thrown off the balcony of the bridal suite.

The killer had eventually been caught, but most of the couples whose weddings had been scheduled after that first one that never took place had understandably canceled. Meredith had returned their deposits though she hadn’t legally been required to, not really blaming them for the decision. A dozen weddings had been booked before the murder, and all had canceled.

All but one.

During the flurry of cancellations, Meredith had fully expected the Delaney/Pierce wedding to follow suit. When that hadn’t happened, Meredith had called Rachel Delaney to confirm she hadn’t simply forgotten to do so, or to make sure she’d heard about what had happened here. But no, Rachel had verified that she knew about the murder and she and her groom still wanted to be married at Sutton Hall. Everything was to proceed as planned.

Of course the one wedding that wasn’t canceled was the one Meredith had been dreading from the start.

Unlike the other couples who’d originally planned to have their weddings here, Rachel Delaney and Scott Pierce weren’t strangers to her. Not entirely, at least. The three of them had gone to the same college and graduated together seven years ago. Meredith hadn’t really known Scott, and she and Rachel had only been acquaintances at best, but there was enough of a connection that they weren’t completely unfamiliar with each other, although she hadn’t seen either of them since college. Meredith had recognized a few of the other names on the guest list, all of them fellow alumni.

It was a time Meredith wasn’t particularly fond of remembering. Unfortunately, there wasn’t going to be much chance of avoiding it this weekend.

Adam and his fiancée, Jillian, were supposed to be