All Dressed in White

By: Mary Higgins Clark

Acknowledgments





We now know who did it! Others in this tale are no longer “under suspicion.”

Once again it has been my joy to cowrite with my fellow novelist, Alafair Burke. When we put our creative brains together we have a lot of fun.

Marysue Rucci, editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, is again our mentor on this journey. A thousand thanks for all the help.

Thank you to Dr. Frederick Jaccarino for his helpful expertise on a medical issue in this story.

“Root, root, root” for the home team. In my case it is “my spouse extraordinaire,” John Conheeney; my children; and my right-hand assistant, Nadine Petry. They are always with me with words of encouragement and solid advice. Thank you, merci, gracias, etc. etc. etc.

And you, my dear readers. You are always in my thoughts as I write. If you choose to read my books, I want you to feel as though you have spent your time well.

Cheers and Blessings,

Mary





Here comes the bride dressed all in light

Radiant and lovely she shines in his sight





Prologue





It was Thursday evening in mid-April at the Grand Victoria Hotel in Palm Beach.

Amanda Pierce, the bride-to-be, was trying on her wedding gown with the help of her longtime friend Kate.

“Pray God it fits,” she said, but then the zipper finally glided past that tricky spot above her waistline.

“I can’t believe you were the least bit concerned that it wouldn’t fit,” Kate said matter-of-factly.

“Well, after all the weight loss last year, I was afraid I might have put on just enough to strain at the waistline. I thought better to know now than Saturday. Can’t you just see us struggling with the zipper as I’m about to walk down the aisle?”

“We won’t,” Kate declared emphatically. “I don’t know why you were so nervous about it. Look in the mirror. You’re gorgeous.”

Amanda gazed at her reflection. “It is lovely, isn’t it?” She thought of how she had tried on more than a hundred gowns, checking out Manhattan’s finest bridal shops, before spotting this one at a tiny store in Brooklyn Heights. Off-white silk with an empire waist and handmade lace overlay for the bodice—it was everything she had pictured. In forty-three hours, she would be wearing it down the aisle.

“More than lovely,” Kate declared. “So why do you look so sad?”

Amanda looked again in the mirror. Blond with a heart-shaped face, wide blue eyes, long lashes, and naturally raspberry-colored lips, she knew she had been blessed with good features. But Kate was right. She did look sad. Not sad, exactly, but worried. The dress fits perfectly, she reminded herself. That must be a sign, right? She forced herself to smile. “I was just wondering how much I could eat tonight and still fit in this on Saturday.”

Kate laughed and patted her own, slightly round belly. “Don’t talk that way around me, of all people. Seriously, Amanda, are you okay? Are you still thinking about our conversation yesterday?”

Amanda waved a hand. “Not a second thought,” she answered, knowing she was not being truthful. “Now, help me get out of this thing. The others must be ready to go down to dinner.”

• • •

Ten minutes later, alone in her bedroom, now wearing a light blue linen dress, Amanda slipped on an earring and took a final glance at the wedding gown, now carefully spread on the bed. Then she noticed a makeup smear on the lace right beneath the neckline. She had been so cautious, and still the faint smudge was staring back at her. She knew it would come out, but was this perhaps the sign she was waiting for?

She had spent nearly the last two days as an outsider at her own destination wedding, searching for clues to tell her whether this wedding was meant to be. Looking at that spot on her gown, she made a vow, not to her groom, but to herself: we only get one life in this world, and mine will be happy. If I still have a single lingering doubt, I will not be getting married on Saturday.

I’ll know soon enough, she told herself.

In that moment, she found a sense of complete control. She had no foreshadowing of the fact that by tomorrow morning, she would have vanished without a trace.





1





Laurie Moran listened as the teenager in front of her practiced her high school French. She was on line at Bouchon, the newly opened French bakery that was around the corner from her Rockefeller Center office.

“Jay voo-dray un pan chocolate. Make that deux.”

The cashier smiled patiently as she waited for the young woman to string together her next request. Clearly she was accustomed to these clumsy attempts by customers to practice their French, even though the bakery was in the heart of New York City.

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