“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony,” the preacher intoned, gazing around the church, smiling at familiar faces.
Both families had been coming to services at the church for years so the preacher was overjoyed to be uniting them through the marriage of the two youngest members of each group. He remembered the night four years ago when he pronounced to his wife his certainty the two would wed. He had spied a smoldering glance from Tom and watched Irene’s face flame red. He knew then it was only a matter of time.
“Marriage is a sacred commitment between two people, a commitment based on love, trust and hope, strengthened by the grace of God,” the preacher continued. “Tom and Irene face each other please and join hands for the reciting of your vows.”
“Will you, Tom, have Irene to be your wife? Will you love, honor and cherish her, comfort and keep her, and forsaking all others remain true to her as long as you both shall live?”
“I will,” Tom replied, tears in his eyes.
“Will you, Irene, have Tom to be your husband? Will you love, honor and cherish him, comfort and keep him, and forsaking all others remain true to him as long as you both shall live?”
“I will,” Irene replied.
“The exchange of rings is a symbol that signifies the love this couple shares. Tom, take Irene’s left hand and recite your vows and then place the ring on her finger to seal the bond of your love.”
“I, Tom, take you Irene to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, to love and to care for, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer til death do us part,” Tom recited, a single tear rolling down his cheek as he slipped the ring on Irene’s finger.
“Irene, please recite your vows,” the preacher instructed.
“I, Irene, take you Tom to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, to love and to care for, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer til death do us part,” Irene said, smiling into Tom’s eyes as she slipped the ring on his finger.
“By the power vested in me through God, I pronounce you man and wife,” the preacher smiled, “you may now kiss the bride.”
Tom leaned forward, placed his lips close to Irene’s ear and whispered, “I know what you did last night,” before sliding the knife from his jacket sleeve and plunging one end into her stomach. He then pulled her close, kissed her lips and thrust himself on the other end of the double-edged knife.
Irene gasped in pain and shock, and then slid to the floor with Tom. Before her eyes closed for the last time, she saw the face of her lover, Tom’s brother, bending over her.