Addy entered the mansion, for the massive mahogany door was not locked. She set the gift aside and called out to Vikki. There was no reply. But who could hear a lady in such a labyrinth? Addy snooped about, gently announcing, "Just me, Addy the artsy bridesmaid. I come with a gift," she added to explain the breaking and entering.
What could not be explained was the smell. Mansions smell of fireplaces, flowers, fine wine—yet it was the door to the wine cellar where the stench was especially potent. Instinct told Addy to flee. But Love told her, Vikki needs you.
The sound of a swing brought childhood memories of the subtle emphasis two ropes, a board and a fluttering skirt placed upon feminine beauty. Addy clung to this happy place in her past, until she descended the steps to a reality where her friend now swung, not from the old oak tree, but from a rafter in Gill's cellar.
Tears did their best to mask the horror, but the eyes—faded to a soulless ice-blue—had already imprinted their image on Addison's frontal lobe. The whole of it was overwhelming. Vikki was still clad in her bridal gown. And she was not alone. The rotting corpses of six other Mrs. Bluebeards dangled about the room.
The wooden ladder was still set by Vikki's body. Addy took out her fabric shears and cut her friend free. She must have spent the next hour holding her, sobbing.
Then Addy had a thought. You're a fox, she imagined her friend saying. "I love ye," she replied as she took out a hairbrush. It took a very long time for Addy to straighten her own curls, and even longer to braid them. "I love ye," she repeated as she stripped her friend. "I love ye," she said again as she dressed Vikki in her own clothes.
Naked Addison carried her fallen friend past the other brides, laid her body behind a wine rack and said, "Goodbye, me love." She embraced her friend for as long as she dared—then sprang into action.
Addy hastily streaked upstairs. Front door closed? Check. Gift? Grab it! Leaving the upstairs as it was prior to her arrival, Addy bolted back down, stowing the unveiled attire alongside Vikki's corpse.
Addy donned the bridal gown and those pointy white shoes. She practiced balancing with both stiletto heels on one step of the ladder, practiced clutching the broken noose with chin and neck. Only a fool would mistake her for hanging—but at a glance, this would work. A pale redhead is where she should be, Gill would see.
By the time he did, Addy's performance was well-rehearsed.
The unsuspecting husband tromped loudly down the steps. Tromp. Tromp. Tromp. He admired the disheveled frailty of the pale redhead at the end of her rope.
Until his eyes met the Vixen's. Green. Lively. Cunning. Predatory. Addy sprang like a fox, embedding a stiletto heel in the big man's throat! There it remained affixed to Gill's blue goatee. Addy stumbled on her lopsided footwear, grinning at the absurdity until calloused knuckles struck away her snarky satisfaction!
Thick fingers wrenched her neck, but Addy was stronger than most men. Vikki's killer would not be the exception. She broke free, dropped the man with a stomp to the kneecap, and as Gill Bluebeard lay prone, the Vermilion Vixen proceeded to bash the man's face against the basement floor until it was littered with teeth, blood, and Mr. Bluebeard's last bowel movement.
Addy left him in that undignified state. As for Vikki, she was laid to rest in the master bedroom, dressed in the vermilion qipao painstakingly crafted by her dear childhood friend.
The funeral did not bring closure. Addison wanted closure, wanted love, happiness, a bridal gown and a bride of her own.
But all the Vixen wanted was a pair of stilettos that don't break when you kick a man in the throat.