Leeds Winemore is a wedding planner for the rich and famous. As much as she despises the job, it pays the bills and is an excellent deterrent to actually getting married herself. Her life is safe, boring, and she likes it that way.
She knows exactly who she is.
So when a multidimensional human named Galen claims she knows the whereabouts of the missing Master Crystals of Atlantis and that the fate of Humanity’s ascension is in her hands, she’s just a bit skeptical. That is, until dark forces turn her reality sideways and threaten everyone she loves. Suddenly, all that crazy talk about free will, past lives, and the battle between light and dark on this planet doesn’t seem so crazy.
She thought she knew who she was. Destiny, however, begs to differ.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.”
“Holy, my ass,” Leeds murmured to herself.
As usual, Carlton overheard her. The man had the hearing of an elephant. He cast a horrified look toward one of the photographers standing in a nearby vestibule, and then leaned close to whisper, “Seriously, you are the most unromantic wedding planner I have ever been partnered with.”
She shifted on her heels. She should have worn the flats. Weddings took frickin’ forever, and the day was young. “I couldn’t help but notice that you haven’t taken the plunge.”
He made a face. “Not for lack of trying.”
Why in God’s name would anyone try?
She scanned the venue with a practiced eye, making sure everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. The church was perfect, lavish yet, tasteful. The latest trendy flowers, expensive white silk carpet rolled down the long aisle, a designer gown for the bride, and the most photogenic, cosmetically-crafted wedding party possible. Rich people had no tolerance for ordinary. Leeds, sadly, had no tolerance for rich people. Yet, it was better than actually getting married. Nothing was worse than that.
So she flashed her patent smile at Carlton. He was just about to say something, but then the minister spoke clearly, “Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
If Leeds didn’t love Carlton like a brother, she’d hope for an objection because at least it would stop a certain tragedy. There was no way this shallow, self-centered couple was going to last beyond the first thirty days of their pre-nup. You want ever-lasting love? Get a cockatoo.
Only when the minister moved onto the rest of the ceremony did Carlton breathe. He dabbed sweat off his forehead with a white handkerchief, and said, “Why do they still say that archaic line?”
“To terrorize wedding planners everywhere,” Leeds said and gathered her brief case. “Are you set here?”
Carlton adjusted his conservative tie on his conservative navy blue suit and nodded. “What’s the worst that can happen now?”
She eyed him. Of course he was kidding. They’d seen it all in the past three years of working together. The post-wedding photo session that turned into a brawl. Hurricane winds that knocked the bride on her ass. The two pet dogs dressed like flower girls that crapped all the way down the aisle. It was a miracle when everything went according to plan. “Right. I’m heading over to the reception.”
He said, “Don’t forget—martini’s stirred not shaken. This is a James Bond themed wedding.”
“Thanks for the reminder, Q. Good luck.”
She headed for the nearest exit. Outside, she checked the late afternoon weather. It was going to be a perfect day—high seventies and not a cloud in the sky. Carlton would be relieved beyond the telling of it. She walked around the front of the church and made sure the limos were lined up, and her agency’s hired crew was all set for the grand exit.
She relaxed a little as she made her way between the parking lot of Jaguars and Lexuses to her car. The sun felt good on her face, even if the rest of her was buttoned up under a boring beige business suit certain to not compete with the bride’s, bridesmaids’, mother’s, or guests’ dresses. There was a light breeze that carried the hint of roses and the non-stop honking of cars circling Central Park.
It had been a while since she and Carlton had had an easy wedding. Most were chock full of impossible mandates by the bride and groom or the family. Just once, she’d like a wedding to go smoothly. Just once.
As she neared her Honda Accord, she hit the fob to unlock the doors. The lights flashed obediently. A dark shadow crossed her face with a whoosh, cool and moving fast, and she looked up to see what had just flown overhead.
There was nothing in the sky.
She slowed and checked around her. A few people hung near the front of the church, and none of them appeared to have seen it. A weird feeling settled over her.
And then Leeds crashed in to a very tall, very substantial man standing between her and her car. He held her steady by the arms as she regained her balance. She stepped back quickly and clutched her bag. Idiot, she was. She could have broken an ankle on these stupid heels.
“Sorry about that,” she said automatically and made sure she hadn’t dropped anything in the collision. “I didn’t see you.”
When she looked up, the man smiled slightly but didn’t move out of her way. “Actually, I think it was my fault. I was trying to get your attention.”
His voice sounded familiar, but she couldn’t pinpoint it. She blinked at him as the freaky feeling returned. He had dark hair and dark looks. His expression didn’t quite mesh with the tailored suit and tie. There wasn’t enough civility in his eyes or something. She assumed he was a late guest, but now she wasn’t so sure. “Do I know you?”
“My name is Galen,” he said, his tone even. “I’d like to talk to you about doing our wedding.”
Behind him, a tall lean blonde woman suddenly appeared. She wore a mid-length purple gown made of poufy chiffon with matching purple heels. Her hair was piled on her head in a willful up-do, and a sparkling necklace caught the sun. Way overdressed for a wedding, but that wasn’t even the strange part. Her forced smile was frozen on her face, teeth clenched and eyes wild. There was something not right with this woman.
“This is my fiancée, Jean.”
Jean’s eyes got instantly wilder, her lips stretched to the limit, and there were just so many teeth.
Leeds had to pull her gaze away from the woman to regain her composure.
“It’s in Hawaii,” Galen continued. “In six months.”
“In a year,” his fiancée said simultaneously.
Leeds glanced between them. She could usually pin a couple based on their mutual social class, clothing, and jeweler. But these two were just plain wrong. Far be it from her to decide who Weddings with Bliss catered to, but…wow.
She donned her wedding planner smile and reached into her pocket for a business card. “I’m sorry. You’ll have to contact the office. They can discuss your needs and assign the appropriate planner.” And dear God, let it not be me. She gave the card to Galen who took it without looking at it.
“Oh, no. We want you,” the woman said, her voice shrill.
And the crazy just kept coming. Leeds backed up between the cars, abandoning the attempt to get past the pair de loons. “Thank you. I’ll see what I can do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a reception.”
She rounded the front of the car with Galen heading toward her. He was so big and moved so powerfully, it almost wasn’t human. Panic set in in earnest. Oh Lordy, time to make a break for it.
“We just want to talk,” Galen said.
I’m sure you do, she thought. He might not look as crazy as the fiancée, but he was going to marry her. That was enough for Leeds.
“Sorry, I really don’t have time right now,” she called as she made a beeline for her car and climbed into its relative safety. She locked the doors, fired up the engine, and pulled out of the parking space far too fast. The chill that had settled over her lingered as she glanced into her rear view mirror to find the bizarre couple staring.
She clenched the steering wheel and hit the gas. “Batshit crazy. I swear to God, weddings make people batshit crazy.”
Galen watched the car speed away, knowing he’d blown first contact badly. Truth be told, ‘first contact’ was a stretch. He had envisioned the moment of his reunion with Leeds in a thousand ways. Complete and utter indifference was not one of them.
He rolled the tension from his shoulders. He hadn’t been prepared for the rush of emotions he’d gotten when she faced him. Even an eternity was not long enough to ease the bitter taste of betrayal.
“That was an unexpected reaction,” Abel said next to him as he teetered unsteadily on high heels. “Does she not remember who she is?”
“Apparently, not yet.” He loosened the tie with a single yank and released the top button of the shirt. He forgot how confining being in such a physically dense dimension could be. Or how quickly and easily the emotions flowed. He was lucky he hadn’t given them away.
Her tail lights turned the corner and disappeared with a squeal of her tires.
He said idly, “It might take another contact to awaken her memories.”
And then things would get interesting, because his boss hadn’t told him how she’d react to her destiny or her past life with him. All they’d told him was that he was to handle it. That was his job as a troubleshooter for the other side of the veil and he was the best, but this one was different. This one would release him from a karmic imbalance thousands of years in the making.
Abel said, “Another meeting seems redundant. You are certain you had a past life with her?”
“Believe me, I remember it vividly.” He’d spent the better part of 15,000 years trying to forget it.
“And she came back at this time to find the missing Atlantean crystals?”
“So I was told.” Or hand them over to the Darkness to be abused or manipulated again. Either of which would not bode well for Humanity.
Maybe he was wrong. Maybe she just came back to redeem herself. Who knows what she’d been doing all this time? He certainly hadn’t tried to keep tabs on her. He’d been too busy trying to resuscitate his own soul.
Abel fussed. “She is a Legacy, but did not show the typical signs of having received the download of information I gave her. She should have asked questions. She should have been cooperative. I am not properly instructed on how to handle this situation.”
Galen glanced over at Abel. The dress was too much, but try telling that to a shapeshifting alien. Still, he had a point. Galen hadn’t been primed on it either, and since he hadn’t, they would stick with the plan. “It might take a few downloads for her to accept her mission. We keep trying until she remembers. Change into something comfortable, Abel. We have work to do.” But before he finished the sentence, Abel had vanished.
Galen stared at the spot where Leeds had turned the corner. He had to admit that part of him was annoyed that she didn’t seem to remember him after all they’d been through. Part of him was also relieved. Because otherwise, she probably would have murdered him again.