Olivia LeClair's experiment with speed dating is not going well. First there was the nasty encounter with the date from hell who tried to murder her and now the mysterious Harlan Rancourt—long believed dead—sits down at her table and tells her she's the only one who can help him locate the legendary Vortex lab.
This is not what Olivia had in mind when she signed up for the package offered by the dating agency. She doesn't have much choice, though, because her psychic investigation firm works for the mysterious Foundation and Victor Arganbright, the director, is adamant that she assist Harlan. There's just one problem—no one knows Harlan's real agenda. His father once ran the Foundation like a mob organization, and Harlan was destined to be his heir. There's a real possibility Harlan has returned to claim his inheritance.
For now, however, it's a case of because others are after the secrets of the long-lost lab. Unfortunately for Olivia, the one thing friend and foe have in common is that everyone is convinced she is the key. Her unique psychic talent is required to defuse the ticking time bomb that is Vortex.
Neither trusts the other but Olivia and Harlan soon realize they must work together to survive and unlock the Bluestone Project's most dangerous secrets before more innocent people die.
Lightning in a Mirror
“If I disappeared tomorrow would you walk into hell to find me?” Olivia asked.
She did not look up from her phone. She wasn’t supposed to be on it. The rules of the speed dating event were quite specific about that. All phones, watches and assorted tech were to be powered down for the evening. But she had concluded the event was a waste of time, so she had palmed her phone from her handbag. She was now holding it under the edge of the cocktail table, where the event coordinator could not see it.
The knee-length burnt orange wool coat she was examining was stunning, but, sadly, the color was over-the-top for Seattle. Most of the outerwear on the city’s streets came in shades of gray, black, navy and forest green. If she were to stroll down Pine Street in a burnt orange coat, she might as well carry a sign that shouted tourist.
The man who had just sat down on the other side of the small, round table did not respond to the question. With a sigh, she looked up. It was obvious from his uncertain expression that he thought she was texting.
“I said, if I disappeared tomorrow would you walk into hell to find me?” she said.
“Excuse me?” He looked around and then leaned forward. He lowered his voice. “I think they said that we should turn off our phones.”
“Sorry.” She dropped the phone into her large handbag, wedging it between her turmeric-yellow wallet and the vintage camera. She took a closer look at her new date. The name tag stuck on his shirt identified him as Nathan.
“Hi, Nathan. I’m Olivia,” she said, going for bright and sparkly. “I’ll repeat my question. If I disappeared tomorrow would you walk into hell to find me?”
“Uh.” Nathan got a deer-in-the-headlights look.
She recognized the expression. Nathan was rapidly coming to the conclusion that she was weird. Within the next thirty seconds he would do what the previous dates had done—excuse himself and take off to find the restroom, where he would hide out until the bell rang.
It was not Nathan’s fault she had signed up for the Four Event Success Guaranteed package offered by the speed dating agency. So far most of the people she had met had been nice. A bit boring—but nice. The experiment had been a disaster for her, however.
She had purchased the package because it was 20 percent off. The first event had been a washout, but she had told herself to be optimistic. You couldn’t expect immediate success. But now she was midway through the second event and the prospects were looking even more dismal.
“I’m not sure exactly what you mean,” Nathan said.
He did a quick, furtive glance around the room. It didn’t take any psychic talent to know he was searching for the restrooms
She gave him another shiny smile. “The matchmaker said we are supposed to ask each other questions. That’s my question.”
“Oh.” Nathan cleared his throat. “Well, uh, I guess it would, you know, depend.”
At least Nathan was considering his answer, not running for the restroom. That was promising.
“What would it depend on?” she asked.
“How well I knew you. Whether or not you and I were, you know, close.”
“And if we were close?” she pressed. “Then would you walk into hell to find me?”
Panic sparked in Nathan’s eyes. He glanced at the table where the event coordinator sat. When he realized there was no salvation coming from that direction, he made a heroic effort to move forward.
“My turn,” he said, bubbling with artificial enthusiasm. “My question is, where do you like to go on vacation?”
“Hawaii. My turn. If I went missing would you walk into—”
“I guess I’d call your friends first,” Nathan said. He sat back in the booth, putting a little more distance between them. “See if they knew where you were. Then, uh, maybe call the cops. Hey, I like Hawaii, too. Do you snorkel?”
“No.” She leaned forward, closing the space he had just made. “How hard would you look for me?”
“Well, uh, I’m not an expert when it comes to search and rescue work. Don’t you need a dog for that?” Nathan shot to his feet. “Excuse me. Gotta hit the restroom. Be right back.”
And another one bites the dust. No, that wasn’t right, Olivia thought. I’m the one who just bit the dust. Again. She realized she didn’t care. The speed dating experiment was a failure. If she hadn’t bought the Four Event Success Guaranteed package she would leave right now. But she had made an investment, and the fine print was firm—no refunds.