Leda’s Log. A behind-the-scenes, slice-of-life look into the Legion of Angels, hosted by Leda Pandora, the Angel of Chaos.

Warning: may include abnormally-large cats and adorable baby angels.

Leda’s search for Nero brings her back to the very beginning, the place where she first met him in Vampire’s Kiss.

Leda’s Log

Part 13: Back to New York

I called Nero’s phone—repeatedly—but he didn’t pick up. I tried not to let that worry me, but, yeah, I was worried. Nothing was going right today. If only I’d had my magic, I could have reached out to him telepathically. But I didn’t. I didn’t have anything but my wits, an ever-deepening sense of dread, and a massive headache from when that lunatic Masher had smacked my head against the dumpster lid.

Oh, and five dollars. I also had five dollars in my pocket. That wasn’t enough to buy anything, so I snuck aboard the next train out of Purgatory headed for New York. Gods, it was great being poor again.

New York. That’s where I’d met Nero on this very day. He had to be there. He just had to be. I’d find him, we’d team up, and then we would find our way out of this mess and back to our daughter.

At least that was the plan. Unfortunately for me, the Legion’s killjoy soldiers had other ideas. They stopped me before I’d made it two steps into the lobby.

“Guests are required to check in at the front desk,” intoned a dour-faced corporal that I didn’t even remember.

Luckily, he didn’t remember me either—or, more like, he hadn’t met me yet. Thank goodness for small favors. If he’d already known me, he might have grabbed his sword—or, at the very least, a fire extinguisher. I didn’t exactly have the best reputation in this time. Actually, come to think of it, I didn’t have the best reputation in my time either. People thought chaos followed me wherever I went.

I couldn’t imagine what gave them that idea.

I offered the grumpy corporal a congenial smile, then walked up to the front desk. “I’d like to see Nero Windstriker,” I told the woman there.

She gave me a contemptuous, cursory glance. “So do a lot of girls.”

She said girls, but what she really meant was floozies.

I withheld a sigh. It was Alicia Henson. Of course I had to get my very least favorite receptionist. And she was keeping me away from Nero.

“Oh, come on,” I said as serenely as I could with my angry heart thumping in my chest. “Do I look like an angel fan girl?”

Henson looked me up and down, then declared, “Yes.”

“Please.” I pressed my hands together. “It’s very important. I need to see Nero.”

Colonel Windstriker is very busy,” Henson snapped. “If you want to see him, you can fill out a petition, just like everyone else.”

She passed me a green sheet of paper fixed to a clipboard. All of the Legion’s paperwork was color-coded. Green was the color to petition the Legion of Angels for aid.

“You can fill it out over there,” Henson added, pointing at the very full waiting area.

She was brushing me off, and we both knew it. I was so tempted to punch the counter, but since it was made of marble and I didn’t have my powers right now, I’d only end up breaking my hand.

So I changed tactics. I knew what day this was. I knew how to get Nero’s attention. And it wasn’t with a petition. Corporal Sourpuss Henson would just toss it to the bottom of the big stack of petitions, and no one would see it for months.

“No, not this one.” I waved the green clipboard away with an easy smile. “That one.” I pointed at a yellow clipboard.

Henson simpered. “That is an application form, Miss, not a petition.”

I nodded, still smiling. “Yes, I am aware of that.”

“You want to join the Legion of Angels?” She gave me another long, assessing look, and I just knew she was cataloging every rip in my shirt and the blood stains all over my pants. “You?”

I hastily pulled my messy hair up into a ponytail. “Yes, of course.” I tried to smooth out the wrinkles in my clothes, but of course it was hopeless. “I would make an excellent soldier, don’t you think?”

“No,” Henson replied coolly.

Someone chuckled behind me. I turned my head to find Alec Morrows. He hit me with a flirtatious wink, then circled around the desk to stand behind Henson.

“Just hand me the application form, Corporal Henson,” I said tightly.

“How do you know my name?” she demanded, her eyes squinting with suspicion.

Gods, this was taking far too long.

“It says so on your uniform jacket,” I said impatiently.

“I am not wearing my jacket.”

“No, you’re not.” I folded my arms over my chest. “And I doubt Colonel Windstriker will be impressed by your dereliction of duty.”

Corporal Henson glowered at me.

Alec snorted again. “I like her. She’s spunky.” And when he looked at me, I was pretty sure he was picturing me naked.

I ignored him. “So, are you going to give me that application form or not?” I asked Henson.

“Fine.” Henson extended the clipboard to me, but she kept a firm hold on it. “Fifty bucks says you don’t survive the initiation ceremony,” she added with an icy smile.

I snatched the clipboard out of her hands and, brows lifted, replied, “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but tell me, Corporal, who exactly do you expect to pay you if you’re right and I don’t survive the ceremony?”

Henson frowned. A crinkle formed between her beady eyes.

Laughter echoed behind me. Familiar laughter. “She’s got you there, Henson.” Basanti slid smoothly up to the counter beside me, leaning her hands against the glossy marble top.

“Hey, Bas—uh, Major Somerset.” I stopped myself just in time. “Nice to see you.”

“Major?” Basanti laughed. “I’m a captain, blondie.”

“Maybe Colonel Windstriker secretly promoted you,” Alec joked. “He could have slipped you some extra Nectar when you weren’t looking.”

“That would explain this massive Nectar hangover.” Basanti rubbed her head. “Never challenge an angel to a drinking contest,” she told me with a wink.

I shrugged. “You could have won if you’d cheated.”

Basanti gave me a long, hard look, then she burst into laughter. “Good one,” she said, patting me hard on the back. Her gaze dipped to the yellow form attached to my clipboard. “And, hey, for what it’s worth, I hope you survive the initiation ceremony. The Legion needs more soldiers with a sense of humor.”

While she’d been talking, I’d filled out the form. It wasn’t so hard once you’d done it before—and already knew all the expected answers.

“Thanks for the recommendation.” I handed Basanti my completed form. “If you like me so much, how about you personally present my application to the Angel of New York?”

“You’ve got guts, that’s for sure,” Basanti laughed. “So, hey, why not?” She snatched the form out of my hands.

Henson bristled. “But that’s not—”

“Oh, yes, please give me a lecture on protocol, so I can return the favor, Corporal. As Spunky here pointed out, you neglected to put on your jacket this morning.”

“Also, her shoelaces aren’t tied in the standard Legion knot pattern,” I pointed out helpfully.

Basanti glanced under the counter at the Corporal’s boots. “You’re right. Good catch, initiate. I think you’ll fit in nicely here.”

Then Basanti gave me another hearty pat on the back, which really hurt. Once again, I found myself lamenting my lack of magic. It was so annoying being weak and human. I’d gotten used to being strong. Used to having magic. This just felt wrong, like I didn’t belong in this body.

I watched Basanti pass through the security gates and disappear down a long hallway. The doors slid shut behind her.

Corporal Henson was giving me the double evil eye, so I moved toward the crowded cluster of chairs. “I’ll just wait over here.”

I was waiting for a long while. Some time later, a soldier came up to me and escorted me through the security gates.

“So you’re taking me to see Colonel Windstriker?” I asked him as we walked down the long hallway.

He didn’t even look at me. “Yes.”

Finally, I was making progress. I’d meet up with Nero, we’d figure out how the hell we’d gotten all the way here, and then we’d find a way home again. There wasn’t any problem we couldn’t conquer together. When it was us against the whole wide world, I pitied the poor world.

But, wait. What if there was no us? What if the Nero I was going to see now wasn’t my Nero? No one else I’d encountered so far in this wonky, out-of-time world was from my time. So why was I assuming Nero would be? What if this Nero had never met me, didn’t love me, and had absolutely no reason to trust me?

The soldier opened the door to one of the tiny meeting rooms along the hallway. I stepped inside. Nero was standing there, right in my path, dressed in black battle armor, looking exactly as he had the day we’d met. Just as beautiful. Just as deadly.

His eyes were focused on me. Cold. Assessing. Distant.

Like he didn’t know me at all.

“That will be all, Sergeant,” he said curtly.

I heard the soldier leave and click the door shut behind me.

Nero strode forward, his movements smooth but surging with power, his emerald gaze never leaving me. He stopped in front of me and demanded sharply, “Who are you?”

My breath stuttered, my heart sank. He didn’t know me. This wasn’t my Nero.

“Captain Somerset said you seemed to know her,” he continued. “And me.” Suspicion hardened his eyes. His voice was piercing. “I asked you a question.” He captured my wrists, slamming them against the wall, trapping me. “Who are you?”

I held his gaze. “The woman of your dreams.”

He stopped, surprised.

“That’s right, Windstriker,” I said. “I know you dreamt about me last night.”

His eyes widened in shock. His hands popped open, and I wiggled free.

“Who am I, you ask?” I strode forward, puffing out my chest, trying to make myself look at least halfway formidable. “I’m Leda Pandora, the Angel of Chaos.” I pressed my index finger to his chest, demanding, “Who the hell are you?”

Nero moved like lightning. His hands closed around my wrists. But he didn’t trap me. He lifted my fingers to his lips and whispered, “I am Nero Windstriker, your husband.”

To be continued…

Taking the train to Nero (the cat).

Finally reunited, Leda and Nero are ready to take on the threat that brought them here. But who (or what) is behind this? The story continues in the next entry of Leda’s Log, coming next week!