"Taylor, when I get my hands on you, you are really going
to regret being one of my relations, I swear." Nancy put her car into gear,
turning out of the layby and screeching back onto the main road. "That is
if I don't kill you. What in hell were you guys up to last night? Hell, we
all went to Violet's hen night and survived! Why is it men can never get
She glanced out of the window, hoping for some sign of her cousin, but
the street was full of strangers and she grimaced, cursing under her breath.
"Where was it Cameron said they left him?" She mused. "Fifty ninth street?
Great. Okay. Let's go back there. Maybe someone there saw him leave."
She threw the car into reverse, heading back down the street she had just
come from. She was painfully aware that time was running out and that she
had to find Taylor within the next few hours.
"Otherwise there will be no wedding." She muttered to herself, pulling
to a halt beside the big battered dumpster and pushing open the car door,
getting out of the vehicle. With a moment's hesitation for the smell, she
walked up to the big metal container, pulling herself up and peering in.
"God, what a smell." She muttered. "And Taylor, you owe me a new jacket
and pants for this. I'm gonna stink. Oh God help me, now I'm sounding like
She wrinkled up her nose, glancing around the inside of the big dumpster.
"It's empty." She realised. "So he must have woken up and wandered off.
That means he could be anywhere in the goddamn city! Taylor's English, he's
never been on his own in Los Angeles before!"
She sat down in front of the dumpster, leaning up against it and pulling
out her phone.
"Maybe I can call him." She muttered. "I should've thought of that before.
Clever, Nancy! Hare off out looking for him and don't even call his phone."
She keyed in the number, waiting impatiently for it to be answered.
"Oh come on, you hungover lout, what's keeping you?" She fretted. "Pick
up, damn you, pick up!"
"Hello?" At that moment a voice came down the line, startling her.
?" She demanded. "What the..? I called Taylor's phone. Didn't
"Nancy, that you?" Sylva's voice came back down the line.
"No, it's the Mona Lisa, who else would it be?" Nancy snapped. "What in
hell are you doing with Taylor's damn phone? Where is he - is he back with
"No, he's not here." Sylva responded. "This is Taylor's
"Syl, I appreciate you're none to bright most mornings, but for heaven's
sake talk some sense!" Nancy was fast losing patience. "Did Copper tell you
what was happening?"
"Yes, but I..."
"Well, where did you get that phone?"
"I found it." Sylva responded. "Don't get snarky with me, Nancy. It was
in the mailbox. I came out to get the morning mail and heard it ring, so
I answered it. I didn't know it was Taylor's."
"How in hell did Taylor's phone get into our mailbox?" Nancy exclaimed.
"Oh God, what did those boys get up to last night?" She sighed. "All right.
You have his phone, so I can't call him. Keep a hold of it, huh? I'm gonna
have to think of something else."
She switched off her phone, slipping it back into her bag and rubbing
"Think, girl." She muttered. "If you were a stranger in town, and you
didn't have a phone, where would you go? A payphone?"
"Excuse me, Miss."
She glanced up, meeting the gaze of a refuse collector, dressed all in
overalls. He cast her a genial smile, indicating the dumpster. "I need to
get to that - morning clearance."
"Morning..." Nancy stared at him, then, "Oh my god, please say he didn't...he
"Miss, is something wrong?" The man looked anxious. "Are you feeling ill?"
"No, not me, but someone will be when I find him." Nancy grimaced. "Look,
I know it's an odd question, but was this dumpster emptied last night?"
"Wasn't supposed to be, Miss. Not till this morning." The man shook his
head. "I..." He peered into the dumpster, frowning.
"Hey, that's odd. It's empty! Shouldn't be empty! Usually it's overflowing!"
"Oh no." Nancy closed her eyes briefly. "I joked about it with Copper
but I never...can you tell me where it would have gone, if it had been collected?"
"Well, I don't rightly know, miss." The man looked flummoxed. "Usually
we take it up San Diego way at this time, but since this was an extra clearance
and all - noone told me about it so I couldn't tell you. Lose something important?"
"No, someone. My cousin - his stag night was last night and apparently
he passed out in a dumpster. This one." Nancy explained. The man stared at
her, then he grinned.
"Then I'd try the dump in San Diego." He said with a grin. "Don't worry,
if he's there no harm will've come to him. Very careful, they are, checking
all trucks that come in for wildlife."
"San Diego?" Nancy muttered a curse, then, "Well, I guess I'll try there."
She cast the man a rueful smile.
"Thanks for your help." She told him. The man's eyes crinkled with amusement,
and he laughed.
"Oh, believe me, it's no bother." He assured her. "Dull job at the best
of times." He eyed her thoughtfully. "Say, don't I know you from somewhere?"
"Um, I...don't think so." Nancy bit her lip, shaking her head.
"I'm sure you look familiar." The man scratched his head. "Ahah! I know."
"Oh this gets better." Nancy swallowed hard.
"I'm sure I played baseball with your father! You look just like I remember
him!" The man seemed pleased with his deduction. "Now what was his name,
again? Ah I remember. Blake. Blake Richards, yes. You're the spit of him.
Am I right?"
"Um, yes." Nancy nodded hurriedly. "Wow, what a memory you must have."
"Ah, I never forget a face." The man winked at her. "Tell your Dad old
Bert says hi, will you?"
"I...I'll be sure to." Nancy nodded. She pulled open her car door, slipping
inside before the man could continue, and closing the door firmly behind
"I don't know who Blake Richards is, but thank God he looks something
like me." She muttered, putting the vehicle in gear and pulling out of the
layby once more, waving to the man as she went. "But San Diego? Could Taylor
really be there? I guess I haven't a choice. I have to drive like the wind
and see if I can find him...but boy, do Cameron and the rest have some answering
Back at the Starlight Mansion, Sylva had neatly escaped the attentions
of the bride and her companions, putting Taylor's phone safely in his room
and placing the pile of cards and letters on the table, so that one of the
Teenangels could take them up. She sat down on the stairs, frowning.
"What's eating you now?" Topaz's voice came from behind her, and she turned,
rolling her eyes.
"Nancy called." She replied. "And apparently we have Taylor's phone here.
You think she's going to find him?"
"I don't know." Topaz responded. She rubbed her temples. "To be honest,
it's just capped off my morning. I've been up since half five, Syl, if you
catch my drift."
"Oh, you're not sick today?" Sylva looked horrified. Topaz nodded.
"Babies don't make exceptions for weddings." She said dryly. "I'm all
right, Syl, it's passed and I feel groggy but okay. It's just turning out
to be one of those days."
"Aww." Sylva hugged her friend tightly. "It stinks."
"Tell me about it." Topaz rolled her eyes.
"What do you reckon did happen last night?"
"I don't know." Topaz spread her hands. "I'm not a guy, and I've never
really understood what happens in a guy's head when he's surrounded by other
guys. Testosterone takes over, I guess. But I have words to have with Cameron
about this. You'd think, being an intelligent guy, with all those years at
university, he'd know better."
"I didn't exactly mean for 'im to vanish."
A fresh voice interrupted them, and both girls glanced up to see the best
man himself at the bottom of the stairs, hands in his pockets and a sheepish
look on his face. "Cynthia let me in - I wanted to know if I could 'elp at
all. After all, I am the best man, and..."
"And a damn fine one you proved to be, too." Topaz interrupted him. She
put her hands on her hips, coming down the stairs to join him, and sending
him a decidedly unamused glare. "Look, Cameron, I know guys get up to some
crazy stuff on stag nights, but couldn't you just have, I dunno, hired him
a stripper and be done with it? What was all this about?"
"It wasn't on purpose!" Cameron protested again. "Listen, Rora, I know
it sounds lame, but it was just a joke. We figured 'e would find 'is way
"Taylor doesn't know LA, Cameron." Sylva pointed out.
"No, but nor do I, an' I got back okay. We 'ad Aaron with us too." Cameron
"You left Taylor out there, though." Topaz said grimly. "Cameron, this
is Violet's wedding day. Upstairs is a happy bride to be, having her hair
done and getting all excited about her big day. She is blissfully unaware
of any of this, and we don't want to be the ones to have to break it to her
that the best man managed to lose not the wedding ring, but the groom himself!"
Cameron bit his lip.
"I know." He admitted. "I already feel wretched about it too, Rora. I
'aven't a clue where 'e could've got to, either. Los Angeles is big - but
could 'e 'ave wandered off?"
"Well, Nancy's gone to look for him." Sylva said. Topaz nodded.
"She knows LA best of all of us, and they're blood. I think she feels
a sense of obligation." She replied. "Nancy's a softie deep down, she wants
a perfect wedding." She glared at her hapless boyfriend. "So you better
hope she comes through and finds him, hadn't you? Else you will not be popular
at anyone's house!"
"Look, Rora, I'm sorry and I said I feel awful about it - what else can
I do?" Cameron spread his hands. "I don't know Los Angeles either, I wouldn't
'ave a clue where to look! It was stupid, none of us should 'ave left 'im
- Aaron didn't want us to - but it's 'appened. What do you expect me to...Rora?"
He broke off in mid speech as his girlfriend put a hand to her head.
"Are you okay?" He asked gently. Topaz swallowed hard.
"I feel a little woozy." She admitted. "I..."
Cameron put out his arms just in time to catch her, as the singer gave
up her grip on consciousness and fainted. Sylva hurried down the stairs to
join the couple as he gently laid his girlfriend on the floor.
"This is all your fault, you know." She snapped. "How could you worry
her like that? Especially now!"
?" Cameron stared at her. Sylva blushed violently.
"With Violet's wedding." She said lamely. "It's a big day for one of our
friends and now you've sent Taylor into the wilderness and the stress has
made Topaz collapse. You proud of yourself?"
"She's only fainted." Gently Cameron stroked the fair hair, as Topaz's
blue eyes fluttered open. "Rora, are you all right? You just went...I caught
"I...I fainted?" Topaz's voice was no more than a whisper, and Sylva called
into the kitchen for someone to grab a glass of water. In a moment or too
Jade emerged, with Sammi in tow, Jade clutching water and Sammi stopping
dead in shock when she registered the scene. Both girls had been in the kitchen
preparing last minute things for the reception and neither of them had been
aware of the commotion going on in the front hallway.
Cameron held out his hand for the glass of water, gently helping his girlfriend
into a sitting position and encouraging her to take a sip.
"Yes." He murmured. "How do you feel now?"
"A bit groggy, but I'll live." Topaz's voice was stronger this time, and
Jade knelt down beside her, a concerned look on her face.
"Are you sick?" She asked. Topaz shook her head.
"I haven't eaten breakfast yet." She said truthfully. "With everything
going on, too, I guess things kinda piled up on me." She took another sip
of water. "I feel a bit steadier now."
"Sammi, are you gonna stand there like a moron or are you gonna help us
out here?" Sylva raised an eyebrow at her cousin, who frowned.
"It looks to me like she has plenty of help." She said quietly. "Topaz,
you should probably go rest or something - shouldn't she?" She cast
blue eyes on Cameron, who nodded.
"Definitely." He agreed. He got to his feet, carefully scooping her up
in his arms. "It's a good thing you ain't 'eavy, Rora!"
"Where are you taking me?" Topaz demanded. "Don't think you can worm your
way back into my good books by sweeping me off my feet and playing Mr hero
"I love you when you get angry." Cameron winked at her, gently carrying
her into the lounge and setting her down on the couch. "Don't fight me,
all right? Dr Milligan knows what's best."
"Like heck he does." Sylva snorted. "Dr Milligan only went and lost the
"What?" Jade stared, and Sammi's jaw dropped.
Taylor?" She squeaked.
"Shut up!" Cameron snapped. "We didn't lose 'im, we just..um....misplaced
"They put him in a dumpster and left him there. Now he's vanished." Sylva
said succinctly. "Some stag party, huh?"
"Stag night?" Jade frowned. "Was Jake in on this?" Jake was her twin brother.
Cameron nodded slowly.
"Aaron was the only one who thought it was a bad idea." He admitted. "We
were all, well, rat-arsed."
"You were what?" Sylva stared at him.
"That would be a nice British way of saying, drunk out of their heads."
Sammi looked troubled. "What about Vi? Does she know?"
"No, and she's not to." Topaz shook her head. "Nancy's gone to try and
find him and we're hoping she will. She's determined as anything, anyway,
and she's Californian born and bred. If anyone can find him, she can."
"I'm sure she will." Jade said, though her eyes remained troubled. "Oh,
it's been everything with this wedding! What is it going to take just to
get Vi and Taylor down the aisle?"
Nancy glanced briefly up at the road sign as she sped into the Californian
city, her mind occupied with how to find her cousin. She knew only too well
that time was short and even if she did find Taylor, he had yet to get changed
and ready to be a fit groom in front of all the guests. Inwardly, she muttered
a curse as the lights turned red in front of her and she was forced to slam
her foot down on the brake pedal. She frowned.
"What a day." She murmured, secretly hating the pedestrians who had innocently
chosen that particular moment to cross the road. "San Diego is as big as
Los Angeles. Where in hell could Taylor be? Where would I go, if I were him?"
She snorted. "No, that won't work. If I were him, I wouldn't have gotten
drunk or let Cameron and company ditch me in a dumpster." She sighed, rolling
her eyes and flicking on her indicator, cutting lanes as the light went green
and ignoring the indignant honks of other drivers as she pulled out in front
of them. "I guess the dump is the place to start. I'm really hating
this wedding idea."
She scanned the skyline for a notice indicating a likely location for the
dump the refuse collector in Los Angeles had described. Though she had been
to San Diego many times before, there had never been such a constraint of
time, and she was all too aware that time was running out.
"I am not going back to Los Angeles and telling Violet that my cousin got
stuck in a dump in San Diego and I couldn't find him." She muttered, flicking
her indicator on and turning left. "Let's try this way. Surely he can't
have gotten too...ah! That looks promising!"
She turned left again, pulling to a halt outside the big city dump and
getting out of her vehicle, stopping to assess the busy scene. It was bad
luck, she mused dryly, that the dump which normally served Los Angeles had
been shut for the last fortnight due to a strike in the city, and therefore
much of that city's waste had been forcibly transferred here.
"It's just my damn luck it's the weeks around Vi's wedding, too." She mused,
walking up to the gate and peering through. "Taylor? You in there?"
"Something up, little lady?"
A large man with a balding head and bearded face peered back at her, making
"I was...looking for someone." She faltered, regathering her wits. "He's
kinda tall, long dark hair, hungover? Goes by the name of Taylor...sound
at all familiar?"
"Well, we don't usually let members of the public in here, but I think
one of my colleagues evicted a young man earlier." The large man nodded
his head. "Something about a wedding and a stag night prank gone wrong?"
"Oh, thank goodness!" Nancy looked relieved. "Do you know where he went?"
"Not a clue, lovey, but I'd say not too far wherever he is. Looked utterly
lost, poor soul."
The face vanished, and Nancy realised that was the best information she
could hope for. She rolled her eyes, heading slowly back to her car as she
contemplated her next move. She slipped behind the steering wheel, closing
the door and revving the engine.
"If Taylor has an ounce of sense in his stupid body, he'll have headed
south, towards the residential area." She mused. "Looking for a phone booth
and help. My best bet is to head that way. If he isn't there, well, God only
knows where he went."
She screeched out of the parking lot and back onto the main road, causing
more angry motorists to wave fists at her unusually reckless style of driving.
Though she pretended that the romance of the wedding was nonsense to her,
she knew how much it meant to Violet and she was determined that she wasn't
going to let the gentle, softspoken Teenangel be disappointed on her big
She turned right, heading down one of the main roads of the residential
area and slowing her speed down, so that she could easily scan the passers-by
for her absent cousin. A mother with her two children walking to school,
an old man collecting his mail and waving his stick at a young boy who had
seen fit to toss his newspaper across the lawn into a puddle, rather than
putting it on the step. She sighed. This was hopeless.
"I'm never going to find him at this rate." She muttered, turning onto
the next street and glancing around her. "I don't know what Vi sees in him,
I really don't. I...wait a minute!"
She slammed her foot on the brake, screeching to a stop as she caught sight
of a tall, dark haired figure in a bus shelter, seemingly haraunging a bewildered
looking old lady. She rolled her eyes.
"What are you doing now, you moron?" She wondered, rolling down her window
and waving frantically at her cousin to attract his attention. "Oi, Taylor,
are you coming to your wedding or did you decide to go shopping in San Diego
instead? When you've quite done gassing, we haven't a lot of time!"
Taylor met his cousin's gaze sheepishly, turning to say a farewell to the
old woman, and then hurrying to get into Nancy's car.
“Nancy, thank you so much!” He said, leaning over to hug
her, but Nancy pushed him back.
“Get off me!” She snapped. “You stink! And you owe me big. You do realise
you are gonna pay for my car to be cleaned?”
“No problem.” Taylor told her solemnly, as she pulled the vehicle around
and headed back the way she had come at top speed. “Besides, it wasn’t my
fault. I cant believe I've lost my mobile phone and wallet too - my credit
cards and everything is in them. I bet Vi is pretty ticked.”
"She would be," Nancy mused. "If she knew you were missing. And don't worry
about your phone - Syl has it."
“Thank god she doesn’t know.” Relief flooded Taylor's grey eyes, and
he carefully fastened his belt, sitting back in his seat. “Im so going to
kill Cameron when I get back. What the hell was he thinking? Hopefully my
wallet will be at home if the guys gave Syl my phone."
"I think Syl found the phone in the mailbox. Don't ask me, that girl is
weird most days anyway." Nancy told him dryly, as she pulled onto the interstate.
"Well, it's gonna be tight, but it looks like there is going to be a Starlight
wedding today, after all!"