Wedding Bell Blues

By: Meg Benjamin

Konigsburg, Book 2


To Beckie and all the Kharities ladies—thanks for the read, guys. And to my terrific editor, Lindsey McGurk. And last, but definitely not least, to my guys, Bill, Josh, and Ben.

Chapter One

Blissful people made Pete Toleffson want to puke. Normally, he spent his days getting bad guys convicted and saving good people from being victimized. He considered that world to be the real world and “bliss world” to be something like a parallel universe for the clueless. Blissful people lived in la-la land. Blissful people needed to be rapped upside the head.

Which was unfortunate because his brother Cal was currently the most blissful person in Konigsburg, Texas. Well, maybe the second most, after his fiancée, Docia Kent.

Pete studied his brother as he sat smiling beside him in the booth at the Dew Drop Inn. Cal was so blissful he made Pete’s teeth hurt. At least Docia hadn’t come in yet. The two of them together could induce sugar shock.

Pete felt like telling them to get a room, but they already had one, or rather they had a house together on the edge of town. Pete was staying in Docia’s old apartment above her bookstore in downtown Konigsburg. Of course, his residence in Docia’s apartment was strictly temporary. He was only here for the wedding. After that he’d head back home to Des Moines and the real world again.

Konigsburg was closer to something out of Disney. He kept expecting to see cartoon bluebirds twittering around over Docia’s head, and maybe a couple of bunnies hopping along at her feet. A far cry from the Polk County Attorney’s office.

Pete took a swig of beer and ignored the urge to check his cell phone messages that he felt every time he thought about being an assistant Polk County Attorney.

Guts up, Toleffson. They’ll get along without you somehow.

A buzz arose from the corner of the room behind him, accompanied by the dull thonk of a dart hitting the wall. Pete turned and squinted through the gloom. If he really looked hard he could just make out the target. God only knew how somebody could actually see enough to hit anything in the dim light of the Dew Drop.

For the life of him, Pete couldn’t figure out why Cal was so fond of the place. The Dew Drop was a joint, a dive, a honky tonk. Hell, he’d helped to close down better places than this when he got court orders for the Des Moines vice cops.

He turned back for another swallow of beer. Across the table, Cal’s friend Wonder Dentist (and what the hell kind of nickname was that?) was squinting at the far wall too. “Bullseye. Ellison’s been practicing, I see.”

Cal grinned at Wonder. Cal grinned at everybody. Pete wondered briefly if he ever stopped grinning these days. Maybe at night, in bed. But then, considering he shared that bed with Docia, maybe not.

Pete surveyed the Dew Drop denizens, what he could see of them. Even though the late afternoon sun had still been shining when he’d entered the bar, only a few dim beams penetrated the smeared windows at the front. The chandeliers overhead weren’t much help since half of the bulbs looked to be burned out. A dive. A dump. Depressing as hell.

Pete clenched his hands on the table in front of him. He did not need to check his messages.

Cal raised his chin. “There she is.”

Docia Kent stood framed in the doorway, red hair curling around her shoulders in tendrils, her denim shirt knotted beneath her breasts.

Pete sighed. Cal had all the luck. If he’d seen a woman like Docia Kent sitting in a dump like the Dew Drop, he’d have thrown her over his shoulder and headed for the hills, which, apparently, was more or less what Cal had done.

Docia started toward their table, trailed by a couple of other women Pete could barely see. Hard to notice other women when Docia was around. When they got closer, Pete recognized the first woman as Wonder’s girlfriend, Allie Maldonado.

He’d been introduced to the other woman, and now he ransacked his memory for her name. Jane something. Okay, Janie Dupree, the assistant manager of the bookstore. Docia’s maid of honor.

Pete sighed again. He was going to have to listen to wedding talk. He’d listened to wedding talk for the past two days, ever since he’d arrived in Konigsburg. Not that he begrudged Cal or Docia their wedding, but did they have to discuss it so much?

So happily?

Docia slid into the booth beside Cal while Allie slid in beside Wonder. That left Janie Dupree perching on the edge of the seat beside Wonder and Allie, given that Pete, Cal and Docia were taking up the other side. Putting three very tall people together side by side was probably not a good idea. If they’d been on a boat they’d have capsized by now.

Pete frowned. He was shoved up against the wall to make room for Cal and Docia. Did couples naturally expand to fill any extra space? Them and their stupid happiness?

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