I was late for my cousin’s wedding. It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I was the maid-of-honor. I had just flown in from California, and I was getting more nervous by the moment trying to find my exit off the Garden State Parkway.
I hadn’t seen my cousin Candace in years, but as children we had been close, so when she called me six months ago, I agreed to be her maid-of-honor.
My exit loomed in front of me, so with a sigh of relief I pulled off, and found St. Thomas’s church. The lot beside the church was crowded, but I squeezed my small rental car into a space between two black Hummers.
I took a deep breath and stepped inside. There were several people already seated, and I was looking around for a familiar face when suddenly I was grabbed from behind. Before I could squeak out a protest, a man whispered in my ear, “You scream, you die. I’m takin’ you to Vinnie.”
He quickly walked me to one of the aforementioned black Hummers, smiling and nodding at the newly arriving guests as he pushed me to the car. He held me so close, I could barely breathe.
I felt a metal object dig into my side. A gun? What was going on? Who were these people and where was Candace? Tears came to my eyes as I wondered where I would end up. Under the new Yankees stadium maybe?
We reached the Hummer and he threw me in the bag seat where a man yanked my hair back and taped my mouth. I yelped in pain. I looked down and saw the gun in his lap. I closed my eyes and leaned back in the seat trying to rationalize what was happening to me.
We drove for what seemed an hour, and finally pulled into a long driveway. My kidnapper killed the engine of the Hummer. The man in the back ripped the tape off my mouth. “You should be glad we found you,” he said. “You didn’t really want to end up married to Nicky the Stick, did you?”
“What are you talking about” I asked. “Who’s Nicky the Stick?”
He laughed. “Vinnie said you were a feisty one. Come on. He’s waiting for you.”
We entered the front door of a large stone house. “Hey, Vinnie,” my kidnapper called, “we got her.”
“In here,” a deep voice called.
The men walked, or rather pushed, me into the living room. There was a man sitting in a chair. He looked disturbingly familiar. His black hair was slicked back and his eyes were so dark, they were almost as dark as his hair. He looked around forty and was wearing a ferocious scowl.
He looked me up and down without interest. “Who’s she?”
“Whadda ya mean, Vinnie?” my kidnapper asked. “It’s Jenna.”
“You knucklehead. This ain’t Jenna. Who’s this broad?”
“I…I thought you said go to St. Thomas. She’d be wearing white. She’s wearing white,” he stammered.
I was wearing ecru, but it didn’t seem prudent to argue the point.
“St. Thomas on Vaux Hall. Is that where you went? And I said she’d be wearing white, as in she’d be the bride.” Vinnie looked like he was going to blow an aorta. “That’s what I get for doing my brother a favor and letting his son
do me a favor.”
“Uh, we went to St. Thomas on Mason Street,” stammered my kidnapper.
“That’s the Episcopal St. Thomas, Jenna’s at the Catholic St. Thomas, you idiot. Get outta here. Go get her. The marriage is in an hour. You two don’t bring her back...” He made a cutting motion across his throat.
They bumped into each other trying to leave. Great. Now I was stuck with this nut and no ride home.
“Look, miss. I’m sorry. This has all been a misunderstanding. How ‘bout I call you a cab? We forget about this. I mean, you talk about meeting me or my men and…” He made the same motion across his throat. Suddenly I knew where I’d seen him. He was Vinnie Ragonese. Top mob boss of the Ragonese family. He even made the papers in California. I had no doubt he’d carry out his threat.
“Don’t worry,” I stammered. “I won’t say a word, and a cab would be great.”
I made it back to the wedding just as they were throwing rice at Candace and her groom.
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