“I just have to know,” she says, drumming her fingers against the manila folder.
“Don’t look for what you don’t want to find,” Drayton says, but the words have lost their sincerity over the years. A quarter century in the business, and every women who’s hired him has been the same.
She curls her fingers under the edge of the folder, begins to peel it back, then quickly closes it, slamming her hand down on top. “Can’t you just tell me?”
He shakes his head. “My job is to do the research.” It still surprises him that he even has a job. He’s not like a private eye, who follows his charge around, takes pictures, captures him in the act. He digs into the past, which, if this bride-to-be really wanted to know, a simple Google search would have sufficed—changes of residences, voting history, criminal history, even school records if he was heavily involved in sports or academics. Old social media posts could have also given her a glimpse into his past life.
All these things she could have done herself, without give up $500. But like all the other women before her, she has waited until the day she walks down the aisle to decide she wants to know the man she’s marrying. And like them all, she doesn’t want to be responsible for what she finds.
“Do you love him?” he asks.
“More than anything.”
“Then why isn’t it enough?”
Like Rachel, who’s fiancé’s last relationship was with another man. Or Brenda, who’s fiancé never told her about his previous marriage. Or Jessica, who’s fiancé’s deceased father was a Klansman, and before he met his black bride, he shared his father’s beliefs.
Why was it never enough to let the past stay buried, to continue forward with the new life they’d already begun to build? Did not the flowers still rise from the ashes left behind by the destruction of fire? Did not the sun still rise after the darkest hour of the night?
“I just have to know.”
She opens the folder, and all the air left in the room is sucked into her lungs.
Another marriage, ended, before it’s had a chance to begin.