Eric sighed as he waited beside his best friend in the small, dingy room. The couches were too small for his big frame and his back was beginning to cramp up.
"How long do we have to wait for her?" he groused.
David turned his bright blue eyes up to Eric's and smiled. And not for the first time did the bigger man entertain the idea of the small redhead dressed in a pink gown. He didn't know why the gown was always pink, but that was the least of his problems with the thought. Having it, for instance, bothered him most of all. They'd been friends going on twenty years, and yet Eric still didn't understand the attraction. He kept it to himself though. After all, it wasn't like he lusted after any other guys. Come to think of it, his relationships with the female species weren't too stellar either.
"We're early anyway," David said softly. "My appointment wasn't until five." He then turned back to the ancient issue of People magazine.
Eric watched him covertly. David always seemed too delicate to be a guy. He was almost painfully the stereotypical brainy type, which made their friendship even more farfetched. While Eric was far from stupid, he'd never pulled anything higher than straight B plusses in school. David had been in the honors club, and the gifted program. He could have graduated a year early, but had turned it down. Though he'd denied it, Eric suspected their friendship was the reason. David was also painfully shy. They'd met in preschool when they were four and had been best buddies ever since. Eric, the outgoing, sporty type of kid that he was, shielded David from the normal abuse he likely would have received.
In fact, David would probably never had lost his virginity if Eric hadn't have set him up on date after date … usually the unwitting friends of whichever girl Eric had been seeing at the time. Eric wasn't kidding himself into thinking he only had David's best interests at heart. He was desperately trying to exorcise his feelings for the small man so he could finally find a lasting relationship of his own. But the matches never seemed to last any longer than Eric's own relationships.
"Why do you need to see a psychic again?" Eric asked, not wanting to admit that he wanted his friend's attention on him and not that stupid magazine. It worked as David tossed the magazine aside and met his gaze again.
"I just want to find out if I've had a past life. Aren't you even curious?"
"Yeah, sure," David chuckled.
"I'm not!" Eric insisted. "I couldn't give a rat's ass if I was once the king of England. It's what's happening in this life that concerns me."
"But understanding past lives can help you avoid making the same mistakes in this life," a breathy woman said, interrupting their conversation.
Eric turned to see a middle-aged blonde sprite looking at them expectantly, and groaned. At least he could wait here while David had his reading.
"I'm Madam Gwendolyn," she bowed her head as she spoke, making Eric roll his brown eyes.
"I'm David," his friend said. "And this is my friend Eric."
"Eric," the women said as she bowed her head again. And Eric rolled his eyes again. "Won't you two please follow me?"
David stood but stopped short. "Oh, no, I'm the only one for the reading," he said.
"Mm mmm," she said regally. "Wherever you go, he must follow."
"He should be present at the reading."
"I, uh, don't really go for this," Eric tried to explain as she watched him expectantly.
"Why don't you just come with us?" she replied. "You can just observe. But I really do need both of you if I am to give David a complete reading."
Eric sighed but got up from the tiny couch. If nothing else, at least he might have a better chair. He and David followed the woman to a small office behind the waiting area. It had a table and four folding chairs in it, and a large crystal ball rested on a stand in the middle of the table. Eric frowned, almost groaning at the cliché.
"Please do have a seat," Madame Gwendolyn said as she plopped regally into one of the chairs.
David and Eric sat opposite her and watched her … as she studied them.
"Yes," she murmured. "Inseparable."
"Um," David began nervously.
"It surprises me, though," she went on, as if speaking to someone else in the room. "The bigger one is supposed to be the smaller one."
"What?" Eric nearly bellowed.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she smiled at him. "I tend to zone off and have conversations with my spirit guides."
"Uh huh." Crackpot! Eric wanted to get this damned thing over with and leave. "About his past life …" he prompted her.
"Yes, his past life," she brightened. "And yours, too."
"Excuse me?" Eric shook his head. "No. I don't want a reading. Just him."
"I can't do him without doing yours," she said seriously.
"Because you are bound to him," she said simply … as if that was all the explanation he needed.
"Huh?" the two men both said together.
Madame Gwendolyn sighed and sat back in her seat. She glanced between the two considering them thoughtfully before she went on, looking at David. "You do want a past-life reading, right?"
"And you want me to be absolutely honest with you?"
"Very well." She looked at Eric. "You do want him to have his reading, yes?"
"Then you have to be here and you have to listen, too." She nodded her head at the end of the statement for emphasis and closed her eyes. "I will now channel my spirit guide to read you."
David and Eric traded wary glances then sat quietly and waited.
"You," she pointed at David, "began your first life as a powerful sorcerer."
Eric nearly choked out a bark of laughter but her hand shot to him next, her eyes still closed. "You were his best friend since childhood."
Okay, that part she got right … for this lifetime anyway, he thought.
"You were betrothed to his sister," Gwendolyn went on in an eerie voice. "But you didn't know he wanted you for himself."
"What?" Eric barked out. David just stared with large eyes at her.
"Yes," Gwendolyn went on. "You were much smaller than normal men, and he'd been protecting you his whole life."
Now that's a switch!
"But you thought he was only doing it as your friend and the brother of your intended."
"Yeah, okay," Eric muttered.
"Do not turn a deaf ear to me, boy," Gwendolyn hissed. "Heed me, or ye'll never be free."
"I, uh …" David tried.
"And you, sorcerer," she turned her closed eyes to him. "You coveted him. On the day of his wedding, you spirited him away."
David gulped and looked frightened. Eric just shook his head and patted his arm for comfort. The crazy bitch was going to give the kid a heart attack.
"What …" David said shakily as he licked his dry lips. "What did I do to him?"
"You cast your strongest binding spell upon him," she muttered. "He will always be bound to you. No matter how many lives you live, or where you are born, he will always be drawn to find you."
"For … forever?"
Eric sighed as he watched his poor friend try to grapple with this nutcase's reading. He wished he could have talked David out of coming but the redhead seemed defiantly set on learning about who he had been.
"Until you mate."
"WHAT?!" Eric exploded.
Gwendolyn began to chuckle as he stared daggers through her. She still didn't open her eyes, though.
"You are meant for him," she said simply. "No woman will ever change that. No matter how many you try."
"B-but …" David tried to speak.
"He was meant for you in that lifetime, too, Sorcerer," she assured him. "But the rules of society were taking him from you. You did what you had to do."
"What … happened to us back then?"
"That's not for me to reveal yet," she smiled.
So that's it! She wants to string him along for another reading! Eric was pissed.
"But know this, Sorcerer. This man will always be yours."
"I am NOT!" Eric nearly jumped out of his folding chair.
"You are," she said, turning back to Eric. "And since you already dream only of him, you know my words to be true."
"I don't dream of …"
"Always of him … in a bright pink gown. You … are … his."
Then Gwendolyn sagged forward and released a breath, fairly panting. David watched her in horror, while Eric didn't quite know what to think. He still thought she was a sham … but how did she know about the pink gown?