CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Promising Omens
The wedding bells were pealing, summoning the guests to church. A cheery flock of flapping pigeons scattered from the steeple. A few passers-by in the street looked up at the church. A young couple getting married. That was a promising omen.
It was a bright day in November. A weak yellow sun was trying its best to overcome the biting cold air, warming what it could see of the pretty Viennese streets and smiling a watery smile, embarrassed to be appearing to the world again for the first time in three days. But the sun was happy to feel useful once again, and strived to make the day special for the people of Vienna. That was a promising omen.
Five girls in buttercup yellow dresses emerged giggling from a car. Each one of them was astoundingly pretty in her own youthful way. The youngest was about nine years of age, magnificent auburn hair falling sleekly down her back and curling outward at the ends, like waves breaking on the shore of a lake in the golden and rose-coloured glory of the sunset. The second girl who stepped from the car was eleven years old and had wavy dark tresses dressed in a becoming French plait. These two both had sparkling green eyes, were excited and joyful. The other three girls in yellow were dark, with eyes of a startling violet colour contrasting finely with the vivid yellow silk. One was tall and plump and ten or eleven, another tall and slim and fourteen, and the last tall and plump and nineteen. They were very obviously sisters, and all very attractive.
The kind-looking bright-eyed man in a grey suit parked the car, and pointed the way to the parish hall. Having escorted them to the door, he returned to great doors of the church and stepped over the threshold, and surveyed the rows of pews through the glass of the back porch.
Most of the guests were there. There were a couple of rows at the front, reserved for the relatives of the bridal couple, but the remainder of the smiling army were friends. Rob could see a tall dark handsome man standing nearby, glancing anxiously down the central aisle and touching a nearby pillar with fond fingers. He looked tense.
“You nervous, Vinzent?” teased Rob.
Vinzent glanced at him, his dark eyes big but impassive, as always.
“I’ll be absolutely honest with you, Rob,” he said: “I’m terrified.”
Rob nodded and grinned. “I’ve been through it all myself,” he said. “My hand shook so much I could scarcely shovel the breakfast spoon into my mouth the day we got married. But I forgot all about it as soon as I saw Lindy. She looked beautiful that day,” he said reminiscently.
“Aoife’s much more beautiful,” Vinzent said. “And you can’t deny it.”
“My cousin’s pretty,” Rob acknowledged grudgingly, “but I prefer my wife a million times over.”
Vinzent shook his head, but disdained to quarrel even in jest. He was too nervous to form his words to his satisfaction. “When does it start?”
“You tell me; it’s your wedding,” Rob replied with a shrug.
Vinzent’s shoulders relaxed and he stopped pacing. He smiled. “I hope my knees stop knocking, or my trousers will be coming down!”
“They’ll stop knocking as soon as Aoife arrives,” promised Rob with a chuckle.