Before We Wed
STYLE & PROFILE SERIES, BOOK 2
A Romantic Suspense Novel
Just as Sarah Martin and Jon Clayton say their vows, the police crash the wedding to arrest the groom. Jon is terrified and Sarah is heartbroken. Thankfully, their friends support them emotionally and help find Jon an excellent attorney.
When evidence of John’s guilt is found, he swears he’s innocent. But how can he prove it? As if an arrest and pending trial aren’t bad enough, his ex-wife refuses to let him near their seven-year-old son, and has their shared custody agreement rescinded as part of his bail agreement. But when Jon Jon is injured, Jon breaks the agreement and his bail is revoked.
Sarah sees strange men in Jon’s business one night. One follows her home and attacks her. When Jon finds out, he pushes her way to protect her, but it doesn’t deter her loyalty to him or the attacker’s determination to killer her. Will the enemy get to her?
Is Jon truly innocent and have no idea how the damaging evidence found its way into his business? Are there more sinister people involved? Will Sarah find evidence to clear him, or will she find out he’s fooled them all? If someone else is framing Jon, who is it and what are their motives?
Sarah Martin and Jon Clayton stood at the altar, Sarah gazing lovingly into Jon’s sky-blue eyes. She wore an antique white wedding gown with lace over satin, while Jon sported a black tuxedo with a white shirt and black tie. They smiled, holding hands. This was the best day of Sarah’s life; the day she’d anticipated all year.
A tear slipped down her cheek as she said, “I do.”
The pastor turned to Jon, “Jon, do you take Sarah—”
The church doors crashed open. “Police. Stay where you are. No one moves.” Two plain clothes detectives entered through the double doors.
The crowd gasped and turned to see what interrupted the ceremony. The younger officer drew his pistol, while the older held the butt of his gunin his holster.
As soon as the older cop saw there was a wedding taking place and a room full of people, he signaled his partner to lower his weapon.
The matron of honor, a very pregnant Jenny Drake, shot a glance at her husband, Trevor, who stood beside Jon as his best man. He shrugged.
“What’s this about?” Trevor asked, moving toward the intruders.
“Stand where you are, sir. We’re asking the questions here,” the younger of the two said, reaching again for his pistol.
Trevor threw up his hands. “Hold on there a minute, officer.”
“Don’t get antsy, Tom,” the older white-haired detective said. “They’re just curious about what’s going on, especially given the way you’re waving your firearm around like a maniac. Put it away.”
Jenny walked over. “What’s the meaning of this? Can’t you see we’re having a wedding ceremony? No one is breaking any laws here.”
“Sorry, ma’am. My name is Detective Lawrence Green. We have a warrant for the arrest of a Jon Clayton, and we were told by an informant that he was holed up at this address. We didn’t know it was a wedding.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Sarah said.
“I’m Jon Clayton,” the groom said. “I don’t understand—”Detective Green took Jon by the arm. “You need to come with us to the station, Mr. Clayton. Everything will be explained there. As I said, we have a warrant for your arrest.”
“Why?” Sarah asked. “What are the charges? He hasn’t done anything wrong—there must be some mistake. We’re getting married. You can’t take him!” Although she tried to stay calm, she became more hysterical by the moment.
Jenny wrapped an arm around Sarah’s shoulders. “You’re right. There’s been a terrible mistake, but we’ll get it figured out and then you and Jon can get married as planned.”
The other detective, Tom, joined his partner on the other side of Jon. “Turn around and face my partner,” the other detective, Tom, said. Jon did as he was told. “Put your hands behind your back,” Tom added. Again, Jon cooperated. Tom put handcuffs on Jon and turned him toward the door.
“Again, sorry for the intrusion,” the older detective said. “You can carry on with what you were doing…” he began, then stopped when he clearly realized they couldn’t continue because he and his partner were taking away the groom.
They walked Jon out. “You have the right to remain silent…” Sarah heard just before she broke down sobbing, not caring that everyone stared at her. She dropped to the floor and covered her eyes, her body shaking.
Jenny said to Trevor, “Don’t worry about her. Lynsi and I will take care of Sarah. You go to the station and help Jon.”
The friends took hold of Sarah’s arms and helped her to her feet. Then they led her out of the room and into her dressing room.
The back of Sarah’s hands were covered in black smudges after she ‘d wiped her eyes. She looked in the mirror. Lines of mascara streaked from her eyes and down her cheeks. Her best friends and co-workers stood by her as she cried her eyes out. Eventually she stopped, feeling numbness that swiftly changed to anger
“What do you want to do now?” Jenny asked.
“I want to go to the station and be with Jon, of course.”
“Okay, you get changed and—”
“She will do no such a thing.” An angry southern drawl rang out from the open door.
They all turned to see who it was.
“Mom,” Sarah said. “What’re you saying? Of course I’m going to the police station to stand by Jon.”
Mrs. Martin, Sarah’s mother, was a tall, slim woman with dark hair and strong eyes. She’d raised six children and now suffered from empty nest syndrome. Recently, she’d found a job working as an administrative assistant for a local government employment agency.
“You will not stand by that loser. I should’ve known Her mom stood slim and tall, about five foot ten inches. Strong-minded and contentious, she’d ruled her family by belittling, bullying, and bending them to her own will.
Sarah had left home as soon as she’d graduated high school to get away from her. She’d thought her mother had changed, that later years had somehow sweetened her disposition. She’d dared to dream for a better relationship—one where they’d eventually be close like moms and daughters should be. It didn’t look like that would happen.
“Mom, please,” Lauren, Sarah’s twin sister, said as she appeared behind her mother. “You’re not helping.” She turned to face her brother. “Dean, please go to the police station, find Trevor, and see if you can figure out what’s going on.”
Dean worked as a paralegal for a local law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, while also going to law school. “Sure thing, sis,” he said, then rushed out the door.
“But Lauren, you heard the detective. They had a warrant for his arrest,” Mrs. Martin said.
Lauren shouted, “My goodness, Mom! It couldn’t be bad. They didn’t even say what he was being charged with.”
Mrs. Martin stomped her heeled shoe. “It was bad enough that they took him away in handcuffs for all Sarah’s family and friends to witness.”
Sarah’s oldest brother Aaron, the dentist, sauntered in to join his mother. Streaks of gray made light highlights in his hair. He’d gotten a little belly bulge since Sarah had seen him last. “Mom’s right. He can’t be any good. For one, Sarah chose him, and we all know what type of guys she went out with back home. All losers.”
Jenny and Lynsi tried to comfort Sarah as her family went after Jon’s character like a pack of wild animals going after their prey.
Lauren clutched Sarah’s hand and rolled her eyes. “Sarah doesn’t need this right now. Go back to your hotel rooms until we can get this straightened out.”
“She’s right,” Lynsi added. “We’re Sarah’s closest friends. We all know Jon well, and we know he’s not a criminal.”
Sarah hated her mom and oldest brother right now more than she ever had. It was bad enough how they’d belittled her during her younger years with one verbal stab after another, but now they were attacking the man she loved.
Lauren turned toward her mother and brother. “You’re all making an earthquake out of a little tremor.”
Sarah swiped away the puddles under her eyes, threw her shoulders back, and folded her arms over her chest. “Yes, Mama, will you please take Aaron, Daddy, Jason, and Shelby and go to your hotel rooms or to my house. Lauren, Jenny, Lynsi and I will change and go to the police station to see what’s going on with Jon. He’s no criminal. He owns his own business, and he’s the man I love. We know he’s done nothing wrong. This is all just a big mistake.”
“Humph!” Sarah’s mother held her shoulders back, her back straight as a rod. “I don’t see a need to stay another night here. We should just check out and go home. Obviously, there’s not going to be a wedding anytime soon.”
Heat rose in Sarah’s face, and she stood with hands on hips, facing off with her mother and brother. They sickened her. “For the love of… Just go!” Gritting her teeth, she pointed toward the door. “I couldn’t care less where. But just go.” She pushed them out the door, shut it, locked it, and leaned against it.
“Way to go, girl,” Lauren said. “Looks like you grew a backbone up here in New Jersey.” Turning toward Jenny and Lynsi, she said, “Thank you. I thought Sarah would never stand up to Mom like that. That woman could get on a saint’s nerves. Aaron isn’t much better, either. Shall we get changed?”
Sarah hugged her sister. “Thanks, Sis, for all your help. Although I’m sad about Jon, I’m happy to have you and Dean here with me. And I’ve never been more thankful to have left Atlanta ten years ago as I am right now.”
BEFORE WE WED – Pre-order price $2.99. Regularly $3.99 in ebook through Amazon, Books2Read, and later $9.99 in print.