The Vanishing
Chapter One

    “ You know what they say.
‘Always a bridesmaid; never a bride.’” Autumn Daniels made the joke
even though it hurt. For some reason, she assumed she’d be married
before Marianne.
    Marianne laughed. “You’re not the
bridesmaid. You’re the maid of honor.”
    “ Thanks for the reminder.”
She walked over to the closed door of the dressing room in the
bridal shop. “How does the dress fit? Do we need to make any
alterations?”
    “ I don’t think so. Come on
in and tell me what you think.”
    Autumn did as her sister bid and
smiled. “You will make a lovely bride next week. Alex is lucky to
have you.”
    “ I know.”
    “ It’s good to know you
didn’t let that law degree get to your head.”
    “ Ha ha.” Marianne turned
to face her. “Your time will come.”
    She rolled her eyes. “Why is it that
only women who are engaged or already married say that?”
    “ You know what your
problem is?”
    “ That there are no good
men left?”
    Marianne reached up and
brushed the strawberry blond hair out of Autumn’s eyes. “Your
problem is that you never let men see you. Really see you.” She took out a
barrette from her hair and slipped it into Autumn’s. Motioning to
the mirror, she added, “It doesn’t take much to attract
attention.”
    “ You have a gift for
making things look better than they are.”
    She shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. The
problem could be that you don’t know your worth. Men pick up on
that, you know.”
    Autumn decided it was pointless to go
through this discussion again. How could her little sister
understand? She wasn’t even thirty yet. Resisting the urge to
settle into her all-too-familiar depression, she gave her sister a
quick hug. “I better find out if the saleswoman ever found your
veil or not.”
    Marianne nodded and turned back to the
mirror.
    When Autumn left the dressing room
area, she noticed that the saleswoman was at the counter, staring
at her monitor. Hiding her agitation that the employee slacked off
at work, Autumn approached her and tapped the veil in her hands.
“Is this for my sister?”
    The woman jerked. “Oh! You scared me. I
thought you were one of them.”
    She frowned. “One of them?”
    She waved for Autumn to join her. “Take
a look for yourself. This is a live feed off the news.”
    Curiosity got the best of Autumn so she
obeyed. When her gaze lowered to the computer screen, she slowed
her steps. “Is this a movie trailer?”
    “ No. I...I don’t think
so.”
    Once Autumn could read the words on the
screen, she verified that the source wasn’t a spoof. “Are the other
news stations reporting the same thing? Do you have a
television?”
    “ Right over there in the
corner.”
    Autumn hastened to the small area by
the window and changed the channel from the cooking show to all the
news stations she knew about. She had to be dreaming. This kind of
thing didn’t happen...not in real life. This couldn’t be real! And
yet, even as she wanted to deny it, the proof was right in front of
her.
    Aliens. Little grey men. And President
Jordan was making the announcement right at the United
Nations.
    “ Autumn?”
    She jerked and spun around.
    Her sister’s fiancé laughed. “You look
like you’ve seen a ghost.”
    “ Well...” Her gaze drifted
back to the television resting on the small table by the wedding
catalogues. “You’re not too far off.”
    President Jordan stood at the podium as
he continued to speak. “At this time, we don’t know the aliens’
intentions, but we assure you that all the governments of this
world are coming together to determine the best course of
action.”
    “ This is cute,” Alex
Cameron said, shaking his head.
    “ I don’t think it’s a
joke.”
    “ Come on. There’s no way
this is for real.”
    She picked up the remote and pressed
the channel button several times. “It’s on every channel. They even
suspended soap operas for this.”
    “ Oh no. How will we ever
survive without

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