by Catharsis

Part 2 - A Rough Rehearsal

"Wow, this looks great," Jim said, ogling the spread of food laid out on Beth's kitchen table. He set places for two on either side and lit the candle that had gotten itself nearly hidden by the large array of dishes.

Beth chuckled. "Don't expect this kind of treatment every night once we're married. Besides, these are samples from the caterer, not my cooking."

"Really? I can't tell the difference."

"You're too kind," Beth smiled, "and I love you for it."

The two sat down and began tasting each dish in turn. When they'd gone through them all and were ready for seconds, Beth pulled out a pad of paper and a pencil.

"Okay, there's some things we need to discuss."

"I like the chicken, and the ham would be great, but with a different sauce. Those raisin-like things are nasty."

"No, not about the food. And those ARE raisins."


"It's about some things your mom made me promise."


"Now, don't get me wrong. She's been an absolutely wonderful help these last few weeks with planning this elaborate wedding, especially with my parents being so far away that they can't be here to arrange things. Honestly, she's fantastic. Her knowledge of who to contact for this and that has made everything run so smoothly. I'm a lot less stressed out than I think I otherwise would be."

"That's good."

"However, my mom was all set to put an announcement in her local paper about the engagement, but your mom told her not to. Not only that, but she told my mom she had to keep everything quiet until after we were married. Now, I promised to take your mother's side in planning out the details but, well, my mom isn't too pleased. I need to know what all this secrecy is about."

"Lois didn't tell you?"

"She told me that there were people envious of her money, and they might use me to get back at her."

"That's the truth."

"But not the whole truth."

Jim paused, then picked up his glass of wine. "You should ask her about it."

"Jim, I'm not marrying her! I'm marrying you. You know about what she's afraid of; you've always known." Beth's expression and tone softened. "I don't like it when you keep secrets from me."

Jim swallowed. "It's probably something you'll never have to worry about, but... Okay, I'll tell you the whole story.

"When I was in medical school, I was introduced to this girl at a party. She completely knocked me out, and we began dating pretty heavily soon afterwards. Her name was Phoebe. She had long, blond hair, long legs, and figure that made all the other guys in my fraternity super jealous. She was perfect for me, well mannered, intelligent, and shared a lot of my interests."

Jim noticed the frown on Beth's face, and raised his hands calm her. "But, see, that was the problem. It was all a lie, an act she played just for me. Her real name, it turns out, wasn't Lindeman or whatever it was she initially told me. It was Harcourt. Mom found out a few days before our wedding and sunk the whole thing."

"I'm sorry, I don't follow..."

"The Harcourts own the biggest investment bank in the city. My dad worked for them for years as a partner, and when he left them, the contract he had signed decades ago when he first started forced them to buy out his share of the business. Problem is, they didn't want to. There was a nasty series of lawsuits between Wallace Harcourt and my dad, and it left my dad in such poor health that he never got to enjoy the fact that he won everything he was owed. A few months after he died, a big out-of-town conglomerate bank bought what was left of the Harcourt's company for a fraction of what it was worth. All the court battles had left them desperate for operating capital. Wallace never forgave my dad, and to this day, nobody in his family or anyone connected with them will do business with my mom or me."

"So, what was Phoebe doing marrying you?"

"Getting my dad's money back into the Harcourt family. Pure and simple. She'd have been able to get her hands on it as soon as Lois passed away. Bless her heart for being so sharp. She and I probably would have died of arsenic poisoning or something a week after the wedding."

"Where is Phoebe now?"

"In another country, thank goodness. She'd been studying overseas for most of her life -- that's why nobody knew who she was -- and now she's gone back to live with her uncle. I can only hope that the restraining order has finally sunk in."

"Restraining order?"

"Not against me; against her! She kept hanging around for the next two years after the engagement, babbling about how I had uttered a solemn vow to marry her. You have no idea how hard it is to date other people when an ex shows up unannounced and pulls that act. I tried blowing her off and thought I had convinced her to go away once. Then, my girlfriend at the time, Ellen, broke up with me rather suddenly. We have no proof, but we think that Phoebe did something to intimidate her. Ellen wouldn't go into details about what happened, but Lois maintains that Phoebe humiliated her in a way that only another woman can."

Beth's head was full of thoughts bouncing back and forth. A possessive former lover, a vengeful family feud: what had she gotten herself into? Of all of the information he had just divulged, it was Jim's last comment that stuck out must prominently in her mind.

"I think I know what Lois meant," Beth said in an off-hand way.

"You do? What? I can't dig anything out of her about it." Beth stared at him in slight disapproval for a few moments. "Look, I've been completely open with you. Phoebe hasn't been around here for a year and a half. Lois has a private detective tailing her right now who will warn me the instant she gets on a plane to return." Beth raised her eyebrows at this. "I swear to do everything I possibly can to keep you safe."

Beth smiled. "Well, even if she does manage to slip by you, I'm sure I can give her more than she can handle."

"Positive?" Jim got a hungry look in his eyes, one Beth recognized from the night she told him what had happened between Lois and her that one afternoon.

"Oh, yeah, you'd be surprised what your bride to be is capable of," Beth cooed with a hint of sassiness. She slugged down the rest of her wine, feeling the alcohol burn down the inside of her throat.

"Do tell, dear."

Beth laughed self-consciously. "One time, back in college, there was this girl that lived down the hall. Julia, I think her name was. Never really hit it off with her. She was always giving me dirty looks, doing little things that ticked me off. She had a plain face, but these oversized boobs that she was always showing off with. Never anything explicit, mind you. Just, she'd claim that bras were too painful to wear, and there she'd go, bouncing down the hallway at nighttime in a loose tee shirt. No class what so ever.

"So anyway," Beth continued, "one night I'm drinking with a bunch of my friends on the hall in one of my neighbor's rooms, and Julia's there too. She's half plastered and running her mouth about how she loves the fact that her boobs are so big and how she can't help what the good Lord gave her, and I'm pretty wasted at this point and have had enough. I tell her to shut up. She takes offense, and says I'm just jealous.

"Well, I look around, and it's obvious that the other girls are waiting for something to happen. I wasn't really interested in getting into it with her, but before I could say anything, my roommate Trish, who'd been just as sickened by Julia's flaunting as I was the whole time, speaks up.

"'I've seen your tits in the shower, Julia, and Beth's are much firmer. Gus will pick her chest over yours any day.' she says. Julia's buddies start sticking up for her, and soon the party divides into two groups. I'm trying to stay the hell out of it all, but I'm amazed to find out that the subject of my and Julia's boobs has been a source of disagreement on the hall for some time.

"So, one thing leads to another, and it's decided that there has to be a comparison test. We shut the door, and Julia and I take off our shirts. I was in my nightgown, and she was just in her big tee shirt, so now we're standing side by side in practically nothing, waiting for the impartial few in the room to make a decision."

Beth paused. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"

Jim grinned. "What happened then?"

"Heather (that's who's room it was) said she couldn't see any difference at all. Well, that led to a bunch of yelling and accusations. In the middle of it all, Julia turned toward me, and bumped her chest into mine. I step back, and she gets this snotty 'I told you so' look on her face. 'Yours aren't firm at all,' she snorts.

"I don't know who started it, but soon the whole room is chanting 'boob fight, boob fight'. I didn't know what the hell they were talking about, but I could guess from the name. I looked over at Trish to ask her if they were being serious, and she's there goading me on with the rest of the room. Suddenly, Julia says, 'Come on, you dumb bimbo, your flabby tits against mine.'

"Now, you know me. I'm no bimbo and I don't appreciate being called that at all. Plus, I'm nearly drunk, so I say, 'OK.' The room quiets down, and both of us approach each other with our hands on our sides. Julia's giving me the evil eye, but I'm having none of it. We have a little stare down contest for a few seconds, and then Julia lurches forward and rams her fat tits into my chest. I push her back, and soon we're pressing our boobs into one another back and forth around the rug in the middle of the room.

Beth savored the expression on Jim's face, and continued. "It wasn't easy, and we both kept getting off balance. I tripped, or most likely somebody tripped me, and I fell into Julia hard. I caught myself on her arms and was so furious I outright slapped her tits with mine as I stood back up. She yelped in pain, so I did it again, and again. About the third time, though, my boobs started to hurt. She was swinging her fat tits back at me and tickling me with her nipples. We kept going for, oh, I don't know how long. It seemed like twenty minutes or more. But eventually, it was obvious that we were getting nowhere. Smacking our boobs together was just too painful. We ended up trying to crush each other's chest, but that ended up a stalemate, too. I was sweaty and tired and ready to pass out, and the other girls must have seen the agony on our faces, because they separated us and called it a draw."


"But, that's not the end of the story. Remember I said I knew what Lois was talking about with what happened to that old girlfriend of yours? Well, a few days later, after my boobs felt better, I was still pissed off over what Julia had done to me in front of everyone. I went to her room that night and confronted her. She was all confident she could win a rematch, and locked the door and challenged me right then and there. We took off our shirts, and she had the nerve to grab my boobs with her hands. I lost my temper and shoved her back into the wall. By her fat baggy tits." Jim winced.

"Needless to say, we were soon slapping and fighting like crazy. I was so mad at her I didn't care what I was doing. She wrestled me down onto the floor, but I fought back. Soon, though, I was all over her and she got desperate. The bitch tore at my underwear and began attacking my rear. So, I did the same to her: spun her over and began smacking her behind but good. She got up and retaliated, but I lunged at her, knocked her down, and pinned her. The bitch squirmed for a while before realizing she couldn't escape."

"Even then, though, she wouldn't apologize. I got rougher and rougher with her, bashing her chest with my boobs and squeezing her shoulders, but she still refused to give up. She called me all sorts of filthy names like 'whore' and 'slut', but I finally found a way to shut her up."

Jim was practically salivating. "How?"

Beth looked down into her glass, somewhat embarrassed. "I made her orgasm." Jim leaned forward. "I ground my hips into hers and she got silent all of a sudden. Then she started up again, saying her body was much better and that she was going to outsex me. She began bucking her hips into mine and rubbing against my thighs. That set me off. I was so determined to humiliate her that I rammed my pussy into hers and met every one of her thrusts head on. At first, she was still talking trash, but soon she was getting too horny to say anything. We went at it like that for probably ten whole minutes until she finally climaxed."

Beth's cheeks were rosy red. "After that, I didn't hear one word of lip from her. She knew what was in store for her if she crossed me again."

Beth looked up at Jim. He was a wolf ready to devour its prey.

That was the first time Beth had ever had sex in the kitchen. She hadn't known just how exhilarating it could be.


The day before the wedding arrived with a flurry of activity and visitors. Beth's bridesmaids, her best friend Natalie and two fellow nurses, had completed their final fittings and arrived at mid-afternoon to show their dresses off to Beth in her apartment. When they were done, they raided the liquor stash despite Beth's teasing admonishments about getting too drunk for the evening's dinner and the partying afterwards.

"Just you wait for what we've got planned," Natalie chuckled deviously.

One of the nurses covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh, yeah. We'd better let Beth get some rest. She's gonna need it!"

Shaking her head in mock disapproval, Beth ushered the trio out the door. For the first time in nearly a week, Beth experienced peace and quiet. She sighed contently. Lois had arranged everything with almost military precision. Her parents were in town, the venue was set, and each attendee was accounted for and knew what they had to do. Beth reflected on all of the horror stories of mix-ups and accidents at other weddings she'd heard of, and thanked her lucky stars that her future mother-in-law could be so no-nonsense and sharp. "She certainly is tough," Beth reminded herself. She pitied anyone of the many people that had been hired for the big day if they decided to cross Jim's mom. The brunette also hoped that she herself would never end up on the wrong side of Lois' wrath.

The doorbell rang, waking Beth from her reverie. "Who is it now?" she wondered in a tired frame of mind. Opening the door, Beth saw a slightly hunched-over woman in her fifties standing in the entrance way. She wore a simple brown outfit that went well with her curly auburn hair.

The woman looked up at her slowly with an embarrassed twinkle in her eye. "I do so hope I've got the right place. Are you the bride?"

"I... I am getting married tomorrow, yes. Can I help you?"

"Ah. I'm so sorry to impose on you. I'm Madeline Ivers, Justin's aunt."

"Justin Carraway?"

"Yes. He's going to be a groomsman in the wedding tomorrow. I just got into town, but I can't seem to find him or his friend Jim at home. He gave me this address as a place he might be."

"Well, Justin was here at lunchtime, but I don't know where he is now. Have you tried to call him?"

"Not yet." The woman looked tired and slightly confused, and Beth's innate nursing instincts kicked in.

"Why don't you come on in, sit down, and I'll call around to see where he is."

"That's very kind of you."

Madeline walked slowly into the living room, and Beth closed the door behind her.

"You have a nice apartment."

"Thanks. It's small, and served me well, but soon I won't be living in it any longer!" Beth's heart swelled with happiness at the thought of her upcoming honeymoon and the big house she and Jim would share. She turned to get the cordless phone from the kitchen.

Madeline's voice stabbed at her from behind. "You are so right about that!" the woman growled.

"Guh," Beth choked, as her suddenly hostile guest leaped onto her back and wrapped one arm around her neck. "Wha-" she started to say, but Madeline wrenched her head backward and dragged her off-balance by yanking her left arm. Stumbling, the pair teetered into the living room area and bumped into the couch. The older lady's grip remained like a steel cable, hauling Beth this way and that as she thrashed desperately to escape. Her mind reeled as chaotically as her body did. "Who is this woman?" she wondered, "with sinews stronger than someone her age should have. This couldn't be Phoebe... could it?"

"No way," she answered herself. "And there's no way some old crone is going to get away with ruining my day." Beth twirled, flinging the lighter woman into the wall with a grunt. The impact did nothing to jar Madeline's iron grip loose. Instead, the auburn haired attacker released Beth's arm and sunk her nails into the brunette's tender boobs. Beth howled, and tore at Madeline's hand. With her concentration elsewhere, she didn't pay attention as her foe pushed off from the wall and intentionally stuck her leg in Beth's way, tripping the duo and sending them hurtling to the carpet.

With a painful jerk, Madeline pulled one of Beth's arms behind her back. "So, you're a feisty one, eh?" the woman sneered. "That's no matter."

"Who the hell are you?" Beth screamed in anger. "What do you want?"

"You're going to do one simple thing for me, dearie. You're going to call off the wedding."

"The hell I- augh!" A twist of Beth's arms cut off her attempted reply.

"Jim is lying to you. His heart is already taken by another, and he'll leave you as soon as his true wife returns to forgive him." Beth lay still, stunned and trying to process what she was hearing. "Now, I'm sorry to have to get so rough with you, but I needed to have your undivided attention, and you seemed to be the kind of person who needs a stronger form of convincing than words to change your mind."

Beth's face bunched up in a snarl. "And what if I don't?"

"Let's just say that I'm prepared to be quite persuasive."

Beth sagged a bit underneath Madeline's weight, and her breathing slowed. In a low voice, Beth said, "OK, then. You have your answer."

Madeline leaned her head down nearer to Beth's. "What? I couldn't quite hear you. What was your answer?"

"Never!" yelled Beth. She bucked her hips, throwing her opponent off to one side, and tore her arm free of Madeline's grasp. Rolling swiftly, she swung her other arm around as fast as she could. Her aim was true, and her elbow slammed full force into Madeline's cheek. She immediately regretted the move. Sharp needles of pain shot through her arm as if it had violently encountered a brick wall. Fear temporarily took hold of her, fear that she was up against someone much tougher than she was, and fear that nothing she could do could hurt the demonic bitch that sat atop her. Beth flailed and wriggled, eventually freeing her legs and scrambling up onto the couch.

Catching her rapid breath, Beth turned around and sat down. To her surprise, Madeline remained where she was, massaging an obviously injured cheekbone. Slowly, the older woman stood up and shook her hair back into place. Beth took heart in the fact that she'd done as much damage to her foe as she'd done to herself. The veneer of invincibility now gone, Madeline now faced her as someone Beth could deal with. "That's good," the brunette thought to herself, "because nobody's going to intimidate me from going through with marrying Jim."

Beth got up and dodged away from the sofa, not wanting to be trapped there. The two women circled each other in the center of the room. Madeline wore a tan blouse with a lacy collar, brown slacks, and matching flats. She reached out with her arms, taunting Beth and feinting attacks with her outstretched nails. Beth didn't take the bait. She weaved this way and that, daring Madeline to charge and sending her heavy breasts bouncing beneath the orange shirt she wore that had come partially untucked from her white shorts.

After one such maneuver, Beth unconsciously wiped a lock of her brown hair away from her face. Madeline seized the opening, and latched onto her other wrist. When Beth instinctively tried to free it, Madeline grabbed for it, too. Beth countered and had soon secured a tight hold on the other woman's free hand. In a flash, both females dug in their heels and began straining to push each other backwards. Beth's advantage in height and youth didn't seem to matter when pitted against Madeline's fierce determination and steel trap-like fingers. The pair grunted and groaned with exertion for over a minute, locked in a heated battle of muscle and willpower.

Madeline spun her hand suddenly, making it awkward for Beth to continue holding it tightly. The older woman yanked hard, drawing Beth off balance. Before the brunette could react, Madeline drove a shoulder into Beth's chest, let go with her other hand, and clasped both sets of fingers deep into her long brown tresses. Beth instantly copied the attack, and the warring females staggered about the room in a crazed bout of hairpulling. Their bodies bumped and collided, sending Beth's boobs smacking humiliatingly into Madeline's face on occasion. A strong tug ended that, and the two begin spinning around and around. Bent over at the waist, Beth lost her footing, and Madeline toppled her down onto the floor soon afterwards.

She immediately clambered all over Beth, and the younger woman fought back hard. Their arms clawed at each other's clothing, and their legs entwined in a twisting struggle all their own. Over and over they rolled, face to face and body to body, neither giving an inch. Tighter and tighter they gripped each other, squeezing with all their might. Beth wrestled against her foe ferociously, but Madeline's ability to withstand punishment seemed bottomless. The writhing females reached a stalemate, but the embrace Madeline had her in left Beth short of breath.

They both moaned in agony as a mutual bear hug constricted their midsections worse than ever before. When the python-like duel slackened, Madeline sent an unexpected punch into Beth's side. Beth cried out in anguish and relaxed her grip further. Madeline quickly disengaged, pushed Beth down onto her back with a painful claw attack to her heaving left boob, and then rolled her over onto her stomach. Again, Beth felt a strong arm lash around her neck and execute a headlock. She began to despair, wondering if she had enough waning strength to get free.

Madeline panted, "So, changed your mind yet?" Her voice sounded calm, but still belied the fact that the fight had taken a toll on her. Beth gurgled, straining to release the vise grip-like limb that held her fast. "There's no use trying to escape. The sooner you come to my point of view, the better it'll be for you."

Beth reared up, using precious energy to do so. "No," was all she could muster.

"Mmm," Madeline murmured. "How about you sleep on it, then?" The headlock tightened, slowly cutting off air from Beth's head and making her dizzy. Her elbows gave way, and her torso fell to the carpet. She flailed, but felt consciousness begin to slip away from her...

"What the hell?" a voice intruded suddenly.

"You!" growled another.

"Damn it," spat Madeline. Beth felt her breathing return, and she gasped for air like a fish out of water. Barely registering to her senses, her ears picked up the sound of the patio door opening and her eyes caught the sight of Madeline's figure darting out into the parking lot. Then, Jim's face filled her vision and sobs overtook her tired frame.

When she at last regained her faculties, she found Jim kneeling beside her, checking her out for injuries, and his mother pacing back and forth like a caged beast waiting to be set free to go hunting.

"Are you OK?" Jim intoned, in the soothing voice that Beth loved to hear him use.

"No, well, yes, now that you're here."

"I can't believe the nerve of that bitch!" complained Lois aloud. Beth turned her head. She'd never seen Jim's mother so irritated.

"Who... was that?" Beth asked, still recovering. "She said she was Justin's aunt Madeline."

"Madeline?" Jim said in surprise.

Lois interrupted. "She was someone I never thought would pose a problem for you. I really, truly didn't. I'm so sorry this happened, and glad that she didn't get to do whatever it was she was planning." Lois paused, thinking. "Her name isn't Madeline. It's Esther. Esther Harcourt." Beth's eyes widened. "Phoebe's mom."

"Call the police, then! She attacked me in my own apartment!" Beth's nerves, already frayed, dangled dangerously nearer to coming undone. Her eyes pleaded at Jim, but he merely put his hands on her shoulders in an effort to calm her down.

"Yes," said Lois in a snide tone, "why don't we? In fact, I know the Deputy Chief of Police. Why don't I give him a call?"

"Yes!" agreed Beth.

"Mom," chided Jim. Beth looked at him, puzzled.

Lois turned toward Beth with weary resignation. "Dear, the Deputy Chief's name is Matthew Harcourt. He's Esther's son. She won't spend a second in a cell, even if she were ever arrested."

Realization dawned in Beth's mind. She cursed in the futility of it all. "What do we do now?"

Jim spoke up, his voice full of confidence. "We're going to rehearse the ceremony this afternoon. We're going to have fun at dinner tonight. Tomorrow, we're getting married. After that, we're going to live together happily despite whatever stupid ideas the Harcourt clan has in mind!"

Lois wore a more realistic expression. "We may have to curtail the after-dinner partying, I'm afraid. Sorry."

"What if that woman shows up again?" Worry quavered Beth's voice noticeably.

"If she does, she'll have me to contend with," Lois stated with authority. "Personally."

To be continued