It rushed into the church, the figure dressed in black and wearing a baseball cap. In front, the pews on both sides of the aisle had been filled with elegantly dressed men and women sitting there, several fanning their faces with their programs because it had been quite warm inside, what with the wedding of the month being held on a midsummer night.
She looked down the aisle where the couple stood at the end, the bride dressed in white, with cascading train that most likely had its own attendant and the veil ornamented by beads of diamonds. The groom dressed simply in a black tux, the jacket covering his muscular build.
A minister stood before the couple, thumbing through the Bible which lay on a podium in front of them. His brow intent on finding just the right passage to send the two of them into marital bliss.
Or barring that marital contentment.
The figure at the other hand put its hand on its hip, just watching the ceremony get rolling. The procession had likely been very lovely, the bridesmaids dressed in soft lavender carrying bouquets, the two little flower girls who stood there with their baskets looking aimlessly towards the audience.
The organist quit playing the march and the minister with his stoll around him cleared his throat.
"All right everyone…we are gathered here today to celebrate the entrance of these two individuals into the holiness of matrimony."
The figure watched and sighed, there wasn't anything holy about this proposed merger disguised as matrimony. And one of the parties entering into it was about to make a terrible mistake.
One that was about one minute away from being rectified, as the figure looked at its watch.
Buck just stood there dressed in his penguin suit in front of a crowded church filled with people, some of which he knew, many he didn't as the minister prepared to begun the ceremony. He looked over at his bride who stood there waiting coolly, her icy blonde hair coiffed neatly above the nape of her neck and a diamond necklace bordered by sapphires around her neck. The dress had been tailored by Vera Wang based on a design which had been passed along by her mother from her own ceremony and she wore the engagement ring that Buck had given her when he had proposed after their whirlwind courtship of a month since he rescued her from some bad guy on a case he had been investigating while working with the security firm. His third fiancée that had been a client of his endangered by some major villain but who paid attention?
Well except for his business associate Gracie of course who was not standing beside him at the altar and in fact, had decided not to even sit in the audience of his wedding. A big deal because it actually looked like he was getting married this time.
She had stood before him earlier in the week, her hand on her hip and rolling her eyes at him.
"I can't believe this Buck…you're marrying a woman you've known what…a month? Though that's quite an improvement on proposing to women you've only known a few weeks or days…"
"Gracie I would really like it if you would support me here."
She sighed, running her hand through her luscious mane of mahogany hair and when she looked back up at him, her hazel eyes almost looked weary underneath all that fire.
"I…can't…this woman is not who you think she is," she said, "though that might not matter to you…maybe it's this aura of mystery…"
"I know her enough to know I want to marry her."
She just shook her head.
"Okay…fine…then marry her," she said, "but I'm not going to sit in some church and watch this train wreck…I'll be…away and hoping that somehow you'll come to your senses."
Buck remembered that she had been angry but he realized she had also been concerned and why was that? Elisa was a beautiful lady who was pleasant to be around and who needed him and after Lynette had walked out on him and his dangerous and unpredictable lifestyle, he really wanted to be needed. Okay there weren't any major sparks between them but they were certainly compatible.
And then with one look Gracie had walked out on him and hadn't been seen since.
That had bothered him a lot that his best friend couldn't stand by him on the most important day of his life. Elisa's brother, Marshall had been trying to get Buck to finance one of his new inventions in the area of sonar technology and Buck had agreed to look at it after he and Elisa returned from their honeymoon.
Now he stood here at the altar scarcely believing it, trying to restrain himself from pulling on his tie and from thinking about another woman who had walked away.
The figure crept up the side aisle without being seen because everyone's attention remained focused on the ceremony which had just gotten started. Suddenly, it reached into its bag that it had slung over the shoulder after it walked fairly close to the front. It looked around while palming a round device that had been activated with a simple flick of a small switch.
Then the time began to count down.
"Mr. Montana…do you take this woman here to be your lawfully…"
The round object went flying in the air after the figure tossed it and hit the cobbled floor with a clatter. Eyes focused on it, puzzled at first as it hissed on the ground and then…BOOOM, a cloud of thick smoke shrouded the front part of the church and another object of similar size landed nearby and did the same, sending more smoke and the guests began to wonder if it wasn't a good time to vacate the church.
Buck stared out in the smoke after shielding his bride who looked awfully piqued at what had happened.
"Buck…what is this?"
He seriously didn't know so he couldn't really answer. Could this be some kind of organized hit involving Elisa's family, the Miami branch for example who had shown up with all their Rolls Royce and were clearly packing when they had attended the wedding rehearsal last night. It could also be the Vegas group who had been trying to resist an overthrow by the Miami group of their gambling operations. He hadn't really been knowing what he had chosen to marry into because he had been so caught up in the haze of meeting up with Elisa on a trip to the strip after his aborted wedding to Lynette.
But a figure came toward him just when he had stood up again, wondering why he hadn't worn his own gun. Yeah it was his wedding day but you would think he would have learned over what had happened last time. The figure looked into his eyes, its hair hidden by the baseball cap and something familiar…never mind what did this person want with him?
"Come with me…"
"But you just threw a bunch of stun grenades…"
"They won't hurt anyone, they're just noisy and the smoke's pretty noxious."
The minister had begun calling for calm in the chaotic environment but no one really listened and people started panicking pushing out of the pews into the narrow aisles. Buck guessed the wedding was off for now. Linc had been sitting out in the audience and had remained unperturbed by the uproar, but Buck caught a trace of what looked like relief on his face beneath his no nonsense demeanor. What was it with those who were close to him that they all seemed to be against this marriage? But he was a grown man and he could make his own decisions.
"Why should I go with you?"
The figure pulled out another stun grenade.
"Because I have one left and I have half the mind to stuff it down your pants."
He looked perplexed.
The figure gestured, its svelte build looked wait a minute here…female? No doubt about it, and Buck thought a profile view would clinch it.
That would be his bride who still lay on the ground wondering why her wedding day had gone up in smoke. Buck didn't know that either but maybe there was one way to find out.
He put up his hands.
"Okay, okay…I'll go with you," he said, "Just don't hurt anyone."
The figure tilted her head.
"No one's hurt here…and now one person won't be."
Hmm, that sounded a bit enigmatic to Buck but he finally followed the figure as they weaved their way through the throngs which still packed the twin aisles. They headed through the alcove in the back and then out the double doors, into the warmness of night.
"Get in the car," the figure said as they reached a convertible.
He turned to face her.
"No…and who the hell are you anyway?"
The figure just shook her head and looked at him seriously.
"Those men are not who you think," she said, "They're after your company…"
"No time to explain now," she said, "Just get into the car and I'll tell you later."
Buck grabbed her arm.
"You'll tell me now."
The figure wrenched her arm away.
"Don't…I'm saving your ass here and it will become clear enough to you soon."
Buck just stood there suddenly speechless.
"But my fiancée…"
"Has a role to play in the script too…now get in the car."
He finally did, sitting shotgun while the figure got on the driver's side and started up the engine which screamed to life. She looked over and saw men coming out with guns drawn.
They sped away just as the men reached the car and Buck braced for the gunshots which thankfully didn't come. They raced down the city streets until they reached a bluff over a sandy beach where the glistening water caressed the edges of the shore. They just sat in the car looking out there and Buck didn't know what to think and he looked over at the figure which sat there with him, dressed in black jeans, a sweater and a jacket. Mahogany hair began to slip from beneath the cap betraying the figure's identity and recognition struck him.
"I know you…"
The figure removed her hat and the hair fell around her shoulders and her mouth curved into a smile.
"Of course you do…you've always known…"
Buck found himself looking at his long-time business associate and lifetime friend Gracie.
They hid out in a beach house that she had broken into with a credit card like he taught her because he knew that Elisa's cousins would come after them for what just happened. But Gracie explained that Elisa's cousins were as close to Mafia as what was left in the country and that they had been trying to rope his conglomerate into it.
"I had no idea…"
She rolled her eyes at him again.
"That's because you men don't always think with your brains Buck."
He frowned, tearing off that hated tie.
"That's not fair…"
She sighed as she looked out the windows.
"Okay, you met up with her on that case we worked on…she clung to you because she needed a man to protect and save her from an enemy of her family…and then you ask her to marry you?"
"That's not quite how it went," Buck said, "We spent some time on my yacht."
They had taken off sailing to Hawaii not long after the bad guys had been scooped up by Lt. Hoyt and other police and he had told her and Linc that he would keep in touch. And he did, to tell them that he was engaged to be married again. She had been quite upset about it once the shock wore off but Linc had told her that Buck probably had just been attracted to Elisa because she reminded him of Lynette and he was still mending from that broken relationship but that his nephew would come to his senses in time to call it off.
Only he hadn't not if she had to burst into some church like some Ninja something lobbing smoke bombs to get him out of there.
Buck just stared at her, sitting there on the edge of the king sized bed with the 500 thread sheets underneath, dressed in a form fitting outfit meant to conceal her in the shadows and wearing an irritated expression on her face.
"Buck…the family you were marrying into are bad news…when I went to set things straight with one of your future brother in laws, he threatened not so nicely to put a bomb in my car."
"You heard me…a bomb in my car…is that what you really want, to marry a woman who might rock your boots off but whose family makes threats?"
Buck's heart plunged at that revelation, that anyone would threaten to harm the woman…well the woman who was very important to him in all ways but one…and that had been through a mutually agreed upon decision.
" Gracie she didn't really rock my boots," he said, "I don't think she's that kind of girl."
Now Gracie looked at him dumbfounded.
"Then why did you want to marry her then?"
Buck struggled in his mind to find the answers but now they proved to be somewhat more elusive than they had been even yesterday.
"Of course you don't…because you didn't think it through first," she said, shaking her head, "and because guys like you always go for women like…"
He held up his hand.
"Wait a minute here, why are you telling me what I like…and assume there's a type of woman?"
"Because I've watched you and you always go for the women who need your help, or to be rescued. Fiancees number one, two and now her."
Buck really hadn't noticed but he did notice that Gracie looked especially lovely in form fitting black. The woman had a figure that had muscle but also curved in some really nice places. Wait a minute, what was going on here, he had just been standing at the altar with someone who Gracie had just described as a mafia princess and he…well he wasn't thinking of her right now.
"You really need to…where are you right now…"
Because he had appeared to be in a daze, oh well maybe some of the smoke from those grenades had gotten to him. The instructions had said they were harmless but maybe…
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
Soft music began to play in the background from where, he had no idea and the room had become bathed in luminance.
He walked over to her and pulled her off from where she sat on the bed, into his arms, wrapping them around her waist.
His eyes bore directly into her own.
"What does it look like," he said, before his lips swept over hers and he ran his hands through that luscious mane of hair he had wanted to touch…well for the past five minutes at least…strange how something had changed, the room, the lighting and his focus. His hands left her hair and ran down her body where the fabric hugged her frame. She sighed and then she let him explore her mouth with her own…just a second ago she had been fed up with him and now…well obviously not.
"It's you I want…."
She blinked as he swept her off of her feet and carried her.
"Buck, this makes no sense…is this real or is this a dream?"
Buck didn't care at that point as he moved them closer to the bed…but yeah it did seem a bit funny that he had been standing at the altar with someone else and now…
"We'll make it real…"
Okay, she thought, that works for me as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him again.
Then the squeal of tires outside the beach house interrupted them and he hastily put her down when they heard voices and footsteps loudly just outside.
"Buck…they found us."
His heart beat quickly as he looked around for a place to hide but suddenly, gunshots rang out and the glass from windows splintered and exploded towards them, showering them with a fine mist of ground sand.
"We can't just stand here…"
So they collapsed behind the bed, while bullets flew around them.
"Maybe they'll go away," he said, but wondered if that were true.
Her breath had become jagged and he gazed down and his eyes widened as he saw a stain widening on her shirt, one shade darker than its material. Buck put his hand on it and it felt damp, his fingers laced with blood when he removed them.
His heart froze as he realized what had been happen…the bullets kept coming like crescendos in his ears…the blood streamed down his fingers onto the carpet. Her face became ashen, draining of its life and her eyes fluttered.
But no one could hear him over the whistling of bullets and the pounding of the walls getting struck and penetrated by multiple rounds. Suddenly, as he embraced the woman in his arms, the colors began to blur and fade and whirl around him, again and again and again.
And then the darkness of the room around him.
Buck found himself drenched in sweat in the bed of the motel that he had been staying at while trying to figure out what to do. What plan to put in action for the tomorrows that had just become today.
He gazed over at the wedding announcement, the ceremony that was going to take place today between the woman who meant everything to him and the man that had swept her off of her feet a month earlier…the man who Buck knew was not what he appeared to be.
If he had only responded when she had told him she loved him…
As that thought hit him, he got out of bed to get ready to get going, to get to the church in time. Looking at his watch, he could see time was not on his side but he had the most important act of his life to take.
He had a wedding to stop.