The Bitter Side of Wynter

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Chapter 34

After Lein arrived at the Las Vegas airport, he tried to tip the pilot, but she refused his money. He thanked her gratefully and went inside the airport. He found a pay phone and saw a thick dictionary-sized phone directory. Lein picked up the book and flipped straight to the yellow pages to look up wedding chapels. He glimpsed over what seemed like nine million chapels before he found one called True Hearts. He ripped out the page, folded it up, and stuck it in his pocket. Lein then walked outside. There were dozens of taxis awaiting deplaning passengers. He spotted an unoccupied car and jumped into the back.

“True Hearts Chapel on Fremont,” he told the driver.

“Ah, yer goin’ to a weddin’ aye,” the driver said through a thick accent.

“No,” he said absently, “I’m going to stop one.”

Again, Lein cursed traffic as the taxi began moving away from the airport toward the casino-clotted strip. It had to be his luck that the chapel was located right on casino alley. Once he arrived at the chapel, he literally threw the cabbie a fifty-dollar bill to cover a twenty-dollar fare. He ran up the steps to the front door of the huge building and entered the foyer. An elderly receptionist met him.

“Are you getting married or attending a wedding?”

“I’m supposed to be a witness for a wedding,” he lied. He thought that if he told her he wanted to break up one, she’d call the police, and he needed no more delays. He had a premonition racing through his mind of them already getting married right at that moment.

“For who, son,” she asked.

“Perion Thorn and Blaine Marion,” he said smoothly.

“Then you’d better get on the ball, I think they’re up now. They might’ve gotten another witness. You’ll have to go through these double doors behind me, then downstairs. There’s a glass wall all along the hallway, you’ll be able to see if they’re up as we speak by just looking. I hope you made it on time.”

His heart beat furiously in his chest, his premonition seemed to be coming true. “So do I,” he said, sighing.

Lein opened one of the double doors and slowly walked to the glass wall, still hopeful. He stood and looked over into the chapel. Lein’s heart nearly stopped. Right before his eyes, Blaine kissed Perion, his very new wife. Too late, he thought, too damned fucking late. Frustrated and heartbroken, he pressed his balled fists and forehead against the glass.

Debi looked up then, as if experiencing her own premonition. She saw Lein standing against the glass, looking defeated. Her eyes said everything her mouth could not: I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.

Right at almost the same exact moment, Perion broke away from Blaine and looked up in the same direction as Debi. She saw Lein. He looked up then, sensing Perion’s eyes upon him. They locked gazes for a seeming eternity. His eyes were empty and hopeless; hers horrified. Her heart sank to her feet. Too late, she thought, exactly as Lein had.

Seeing Debi and Perion looking upward, Blaine followed suit. He saw Lein as well. He smirked and mouthed with comic exaggeration: guess you lost.

Of course, Perion didn’t see the one-sided exchange. She was devastated. Oh Lein, what have I done, she whispered to herself. She glanced at her best friend. Debi was staring at her meanly, with an expression close to contempt. She looked away from Debi quickly, and then down at her feet. No help there. She didn’t even feel like looking at Blaine, despite the fact she had just committed herself to him for the rest of her life. When Perion looked back up, Lein was gone.

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