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Now or Never (Resetter Series Book 3)

Now or Never (Resetter Series Book 3)

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 After time traveling to the past Addi had her new life all planned out and it did not include Randy Vassell. She was determined not to make the same mistake she made with him before. After all, he was the man that she had wasted twenty years of her life with in the previous timeline. However, life did not always go the way that is planned and 2002 found Addi in a very bad situation. When her only option was to go back home and lay low for a while, she contemplated working for Randy, who was newly engaged to be married. And that was when she realized that what she had for Randy would always be there. Would she blow her second chance with him, or would they finally have a happily ever after?

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Chapter One

Skyler's Wedding- July 2000

"So we meet again, Addi."
Addi knew it was Randy even before she turned around. She had been aware of him through the whole service and then the reception. In a room full of good-looking men, he was a standout. She was sure that she was not the only female who was ogling him.
She turned around slowly from where she was to take him in fully, and then just like that, her once steady hands started to tremble on the glass of wine.
"Randy didn't see you there." She was trying for nonchalant. She failed.
"Liar." Randy laughed. "It was a nice wedding. You made a beautiful maid of honor."
"Thanks." Addi nodded. "I almost didn't show up. Sky and Travis were crazy enough to plan a large wedding in a mere two weeks."
"But you did come. It's nice to see you again." Randy cleared his throat. "Can we go somewhere quiet and talk?" He looked around the crowded poolside of the Jefferson mansion. "Maybe to the gardens?"
Addi bit her lip and then shook her head. "I don't think so. I meant what I said, Randy. I can't have a relationship with you."
"Yes, I remember," Randy nodded, "Oh, I remember last year in New York. You said I was a past mistake and that I had no place in your life this time around."
"That's right." Addi nodded. "I am glad you got the message."
"I did." Randy shrugged. "I just don't get the reason for the message."
Addi put the drink on a table and then turned around again. "Okay, come on."
Randy raised an eyebrow but did not argue. He followed her as she headed down a cobbled stone walkway all the way to a mini bridge where there was a pond and an unoccupied gazebo.
It was quite picturesque. There were koi in the pond—little colorful bodies glinting in the six o'clock sunlight. Addi stood in the gazebo her hands braced on the railing, her long curly hair in a half up half down hairdo. Her filmy long pink dress floated around her. She looked like a princess waiting for her loyal subject.
"Can I take your picture?" He asked taking out his camera; this is too lovely a moment not to capture.
Addi seemed like she thought about it for a moment and then she nodded. "Go ahead."
He snapped several shots of her and then smiled. "I guess you are used to this and all, you being a model."
"That was last year." Addi sat in one of the chairs in the gazebo. "This year I am writing a novel."
"That's quite a departure from what you said you were doing before." Randy stepped up into the gazebo and sat before her.
He loosened his bow tie and raised an eyebrow. "In the previous time, you were a doctor in sociology. You should be pursuing a masters degree by now."
"You remembered that?" Addi asked flippantly.
"I remember everything you ever told me." Randy leaned forward and frowned. "I invested in those tech stocks you told me about."
"Good for you." Addi smiled at him, the first genuine smile he was seeing from her in a while.
"I invested some of my money in real estate. After the 96 meltdown, several places were going for cheap."
"And where are you working now, or are you just investing? Addi asked him.
Interest. Finally.
Randy relaxed somewhat. "I am working at Gordon and Fletcher, chief accounting officer for their telecommunications company. That's the reason I was at the tech summit last year in New York."
"That sounds great." Addi looked at him and then away. "Really great."
"I am still not married to any pastor's daughter or have any hopes of joining the ministry." Randy reminded her of what she had told him that he had ended up doing before she had reset things.
"I am very much interested in knowing why we can't be together. You have written me off based on previous information from a timeline that I am not privy to."
Addi sighed. "I don't remember much of what happened. I have this book where I wrote down stuff, and I cautioned myself never to get involved with you."
Randy leaned back in the chair and rubbed the back of his neck. "This is frustrating Addison. You and I have chemistry. It is stupid for us not to explore that in the here and now. I am single. You are single. I have liked you since you were a kid. Now you are a grown, gorgeous woman. You have to give us a chance."
"No!" Addi stood up. "I have other plans."
"You have a boyfriend?" Randy asked belatedly.
"Yes." Addison nodded. "The timing for us is just off."
"I'd say." Randy huffed. "I don't know why I assumed you were single. Josh never mentioned to me that you were dating."
He got up and stood beside her, looking down in the fishpond. "I guess we aren't meant to be after all."
"I guess so." Addi looked at him, and her lips had a slight tremor. "I am going back to the party."
"You can break it off with him," Randy said holding her hand. "I'll wait."
Addi looked down at their joined hands and then up at Randy. The pulse in her palm was racing, and she knew her voice would be breathless. "I don't think I should."
"You should." Randy leaned toward her so close she could feel the heat from his face. She could feel his breath on her skin. "When you do, call me."
Addi inhaled tremulously and then stepped away from him. "I don't think so. Goodbye Randy."
"Never goodbye," Randy gave her a bitter half-smile, "not between you and me. I have a feeling we were meant to be together..."

Chapter Two

January 2002

Moving was like time travel, well sort of, Addi thought staring at the stack of boxes in front of her. She just had to look into any one of them, and she could revisit some memory from a few years ago or remind herself of her past.
She pushed away a box with a bunch of her modeling pictures and then closed her eyes. Why was she even taking them with her? She didn't want to be reminded of the past, especially the last three years. She brushed the thick rope burns around her neck and shuddered.
Her life so far had been one disappointment after another, beginning with the relationship with Devin Garcia—if it could be called a relationship. He had turned out to be her worst nightmare.
She could do with a reset right now. Too bad she had already done the whole reset thing already; this would have been a perfect time to do one, but that was next to impossible. This was her life now, and she had to deal with it as best as she could. And dealing with it involved leaving New York and starting over somewhere...anywhere but here.
Her parents had visited over the Christmas holiday and had found her in the hospital looking like something the cat dragged in. Her bruises had been a bit darker and rawer looking then.
Her dad had taken one look at her and started crying. Her mother had been a bit more stoic, but Addi could see the shock on her face as well. It was no wonder that they had urged her to come home. At least for a while.
And though it felt like a backward step, what could she do? She had nothing and no one here in New York. Josh was in San Jose, California, working as a software developer. She had lost all her friends from the modeling world when she left that profession.
Her little stint as an author for the past year hadn't won her any friends. She had isolated herself from her regular church group. They had moved on especially after the media furor of last year.
She was tainted goods.
As for her book, it looked like it would be forever destined to be a manuscript. After spending nearly nine months perfecting what was in her mind—an instant best-seller, and then getting rejection after rejection from every publisher, she could no longer consider herself an author.
She couldn't do it. It wasn't the life for her.
So what was she now?
Nothing. She had a degree she had never bothered to use, and all of her excess money was gone in her pursuit of literary greatness.
She was broke, with a whole lot of nice clothes and shoes. Boxes and boxes of shoes. Shoes she would be donating to Goodwill.
As for her relationship status, definitely single.
Single, scared and hiding from the mafia. Even now she still feared that they would come back to finish what they had started.
Addi laughed harshly to herself.
All of this because of Devin Garcia.
Devin Garcia, charismatic preacher, head of a mega church who was now languishing in federal prison because he had used his church as a front for the mafia's money laundering operation.
Her ties to Devin had almost gotten her killed because they had mistakenly assumed that she was in on his criminal activities and knew where he hid his money.
Some idiot must have mentioned that she was the ex-fiancée because she had certainly kept a low profile during the media firestorm that had taken place last year. She had holed up in her apartment, never daring to leave. Dreading the moment when someone would mention that Devin had been engaged to be married in March.
She looked at the box where she had marked wedding across the top. That was going straight to Goodwill too, with her handmade wedding souvenirs and her place settings. She had chosen a Paris themed wedding because that was where they had met in September 1999. He was on vacation with his parents and siblings, and she had been at the Paris Fashion Week. They had met by chance in a hotel lobby and had discovered that they were both from New York with Jamaican connections and the rest was easy. Devin was an easy person to be with.
She opened the box and grimaced. She had spent hours making her little Eiffel tower keepsakes. Luckily, she hadn't bought the dress or paid for the cake. She closed her eyes and envisioned the dress; it had been a lace figure hugging wedding dress, which had not been cheap. She would have to go back to the store for her deposit.
Just one of the many things that she still had to do to close this chapter in her life and move on.
She would not waste one more thought on the fact that she was on a path to nowhere. She had the golden opportunity to live her life over again, and she was doing a pathetic job of the whole thing.
Maybe if she hadn't set out exactly what she should and shouldn't do in this new version of her life things would have gone much better. Maybe, if she had just allowed herself to live, to approach her future with spontaneity and not with the kind of rigidity that she had predetermined for herself, maybe then she would be better off.
As it was, she had written a rulebook of sorts for her second time around, and it wasn't doing her any favors. She picked up the large journal, which she had on top of one of the boxes and skipped through it. She had in the very front of the book, How Not To End Up Forty, Single and Childless.
Marry early, stop nitpicking, any suitable man but Randall Vassell will do. Randy is bad news; you had a twenty-year affair with him, he has never chosen you first. You spent most of your adulthood pining for this guy, waiting for him to love you enough to choose to be with you and only you.
Addi winced. She had that written on every page in bold. Now look at her, she had thought that she had made a head start, but it wasn't to be.
Life had curveballs. Such a pity she had not accounted for that in her black and white version of the future.
If it weren't for Mrs. Florence and her grandson across the landing, she would be a dead person now. She would not have seen her twenty-fifth birthday. Mafia henchmen had tied her up in the apartment and tortured her about Devin's hidden money. Talk about her plans going horribly awry. How could she have foreseen that any of that would have happened?
Addi could still feel the low throbbing pain from the two cracked ribs where she had gotten a couple of blows from one of the thugs.
They had wanted answers, and she had none.
She had no clue that Devin was not a straight shooter. She thought he was a decent guy who had been romantic and restrained and thoughtful. He reminded her of her dad.
They had done the whole courtship thing right. She was going to wear white on her wedding day legitimately and then she would live happily ever after with the man who God ordained for her. And they would have children, at least four, and all of this had to happen because she was never a wife and mother before.
How could she have foreseen that in her fairytale plans, her future husband would be an undercover criminal?
Addi kissed her teeth in frustration and got up from the floor with difficulty. Her right leg was still bruised; her left ankle was still taped. She had no business being on the floor sorting through boxes. If she had any sense at all, she would not have returned to the apartment alone.
Her parents had offered to extend their holiday and help her to move, but she had refused. She had no idea what she wanted to do yet. She was still on the fence about what to do with her life.
She heard a key in the door, and she froze. She hobbled toward her bedroom. She was not going to stand in one place and wait for the unscrupulous thugs to get her again. No, no, not this time.
Obviously, she wasn't moving fast enough, the person who was coming into the apartment was already in.
"Really Addi!" It was Sky. "If you were running from me, you would be caught. You can barely hobble on your leg!"
Addi stopped and looked around at her heavily pregnant cousin. "What are you doing here? I told Mom and Dad not to tell you..."
Sky glared at her and then came fully into the apartment; she wasn't alone, Travis was behind her.
"Hi Addi," Travis said solemnly. "You look like er..."
"Like hell." Sky completed.
"Thanks." Addi relaxed slightly and then exhaled in relief. She looked between Travis and Sky. "You both look good."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "And I am glad to see you."
"Oh for heaven's sake." Sky had tears in her eyes as well. "Don't you ever hide anything from me again. Not something like this. I don't care if I am in labor. It doesn't matter where I am or what I am doing."
Sky headed for her and then clasped her in a hug, which was pretty awkward since her belly was poking between them.
"Come on let's go sit down," Sky said looking around at the crowded apartment.
Travis cleared out a settee and Addi sank down in one of them in relief.
Sky sat across from her aided by Travis.
"I can't believe what I heard." Sky squinted at her. "Tell me it's not true."
"I don't know what you heard." Addi inhaled raggedly.
"You were beaten up by thugs." Sky rounded her eyes in consternation. "Your neighbor saw the men coming in here and called the police, and her grandson kept knocking at the door asking if you were all right. The guys left by the fire escape and they found you tied to a chair, gagged and bleeding. How am I doing?"
"You sound like the news," Addi muttered.
"How can you even still be here in this place?" Sky asked. "Why would you come back?"
"I had to sort out my things." Addi shrugged. "I wasn't staying here, Mom and Dad paid for a hotel, I just came back to get my stuff. Josh is planning to sell the place anyway. I have to clear it out."
Sky nodded. "He says he is in Hong Kong for six months?"
"Yes," Addi said tiredly. "His company is doing some technological stuff that he has to oversee."
"And you are coming back to Jamaica?" Travis asked. He was sitting at the edge of the settee, watching her keenly.
"Yes." Addi grimaced. "This is a backward move though. I mean, I'll be living with my parents again. Maybe working at the hardware store. It will be just like when I was a little girl."
Sky shook her head. "You don't have to do any such thing. You can stay with us or if you don't want to you can stay in Travis' apartment. We spend all of our time at the new house anyway."
Travis nodded. "You are quite welcome to stay there, and we can find a position at the company if you want. There must be something that you would like to do there."
"I couldn't impose." Addi looked between Travis and Sky. "I mean you guys are generous and kind, but I don't want to be a family leach. You have your new baby to think about and..."
"Stop the pity fest," Sky held up her hand, "you can impose on me at any time."
She rubbed her belly absently. "You know you don't even have to work at Jefferson Pharmaceutical; you remember Randy?"
Addi nodded slowly. What kind of question was that? She thought about Randy every day for an unhealthy amount of time. Her life up to this point was based on not wanting to repeat her history with him.
Sky knew she remembered Randy. Addi waited patiently to hear where this was going; if the sly glint in Sky's eyes was any indication, this was going to be good.
"Randy bought an insurance company," Sky said. "The other day we went to the launch. Wasn't it good, Travis?"
"It was okay." Travis shrugged. "Randy's fiancée is a little pushy. I did not get a chance to enjoy myself."
"Oh yes, she is. She is a realtor, and she is not afraid to do the hard sell. Her name is Selena Burns." Sky grimaced. "She's something else. But anyway, Randy was mentioning that he was hunting for a personal assistant, his current assistant is on the verge of retirement. He has a couple of businesses under his belt now, and he desperately wants somebody to arrange his work life."
"I wouldn't work for Randy," Addi shook her head, "It would be too awkward."
"Why?" Sky asked innocently, "it's not as if you still like him or anything. And he definitely does not like you. You should see Selena!"
"Thanks a lot," Addi growled, feeling a shaft of jealousy prick her out of nowhere.
"Oh, did I mention that the job is in Montego Bay?" Sky wrinkled her nose, "far from us but we can always fly down a couple of weekends. Randy mentioned something about accommodation, and the compensation package sounds really good. I recommended a girlfriend of mine, Emma, from university but Randy turned her down. He is very picky."
"Or, it could be that Emma is something of a handful," Travis murmured, shaking his head at Sky. "I told you Randy and Emma would not have been a good fit. The girl is practically unemployable."
"I don't think working for Randy would be a good idea..." Addi rubbed her hands together, flexing them nervously. "And I have no administration experience…"
"I would not dismiss it so readily," Sky jumped in before Addi could continue her protest. "Think about it, you might not even get it, but if you do, you wouldn't be working for family or living with Uncle Nate and Aunt Vicky. You'd be independent and who knows you may..."
Sky stopped speaking and then glanced at Travis. "Are we going to help her to pack or what? I need to make a phone call."
"Wait a minute." Addi frowned. "I don't think working for Randy would be appropriate, I mean, I..." She bit her lip.
Sky looked at her with a smug expression on her face. Waiting for her to confess that she had made a horrible decision in pushing Randy away and choosing Devin instead.
Sky's opinion was well known; she had spent half of her honeymoon two years ago, cussing out Addi about turning down Randy. So this seemingly innocent suggestion was not what it seemed on the surface.
Sky was up to something.
Addi was too banged up and feeling out of sorts to care. She would welcome a new opportunity to leave New York, like this one, even if it meant working for Randy.
"Go ahead," she sighed and pushed herself out of the sofa painfully. "It's not a bad idea. Maybe he will turn me down like he did your friend Emma."
"I doubt that." Sky fished her cell phone from her bag and waddled to the patio.
Travis looked at Addi and then around at the room. "I know somebody who can clean up this apartment in no time."
He took out his phone and Addi was left staring into space while her life was arranged for her.