Although this is a standalone, readers who want to know how Kim got her man might want to see my story 'Where The Heart Is?'
"Do you, Kimberley Ann Gideon, take this man, James Edward Knapp, to be your lawful husband?"
And with that Miss Kim Gideon became Mrs Kim Knapp.
They signed a few documents and turned to leave the small Registry Office.
It was sparsely populated. Just Jim's two brothers and their families, a few of his workmates.
Kim had no family, of course. But the one man she had hoped would be there for her big day was missing.
And it hurt.
As they left Kim noticed a youngish woman, dressed in a pinstripe trouser-suit, sitting at the rear. She seemed to be subjecting Kim to an intense, puzzling scrutiny.
The newlyweds had a few photographs taken in the little garden behind the building. The guests had drifted off. There wasn't going to be a reception. They were just going to have a meal at a nearby hotel. It was how they both wanted it.
After the photographer left, Kim looked to the sky, her eyes brimming despite herself.
Jim put his arm around her shoulders. "I'm sorry, Kim. I tried everything I could think of. I searched the the Internet, everything."
She patted her husband's arm. "Never mind. It would have been nice. I suppose he's off somewhere. Up there, saving worlds. Changing lives." She smiled with an effort and playfully swatted her husband's arm. "Anyway, who was that woman in pinstripes at the back of the room? Have you been hiding something from me, Jim Knapp?"
"I thought she was with you," said Jim. "Speak of the devil -"
The woman in the pinstripes was making her way across the lawn towards them. She stopped in front of Kim and stared closely at her.
"Can I help you?" said a discomforted Kim.
" I thought as much! You're not Kim Anderson!"
"Sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. There seems to have been some sort of mistake." The woman pulled a piece of paper out of her handbag and passed it over to Kim. "This was pushed through my door a few days ago."
Kim and Jim hereby invite you to their wedding...
It went on to give the location, date and time for the just completed ceremony.
"We didn't send out anything like this," said Jim.
"It's bizarre," said the woman. "I've an old school friend called Kim Anderson. I haven't seen her in nine months. The last I heard she was touring Eastern Europe in a camper-van. I thought this was from her. Just the kind of madcap thing she would do. At short notice."
"It must be a coincidence," said Kim.
"But the place and time?" The woman scratched her head.
"Some kind of joke?" suggested Jim. "Maybe you could use this in one of your stories, Kim."
"Stories?" asked the woman.
"Kim is trying her hand at writing," said Jim.
"What kind of writing?" asked the woman.
"This and that. Children's stuff mostly. Pre-school."
Kim snorted. "I'm just an amateur. I'm a librarian, really. I'm thinking of going back..."
The woman smiled. "Here's another coincidence. My name is Karen Marshall. I work for Watermans, the publishers. We're always on the lookout for new authors and we're trying to get a pre-school line going."
"Tell her about Kimbo," urged Jim.
"Just a bonkers idea I had, "said Kim, doubtfully. " A rabbit that flies around in a space-rocket. Rubbish really."
Karen smiled. "Actually that sounds quite interesting. Look. I've got to get back to the office but here's my card. Call me in the week and we'll meet up to discuss it over lunch. Oh, and congratulations by the way."
Kim watched the retreating figure, astonished.
"Well how about that!" said Jim.
Kim pocketed the business card and was about to do the same with the mysterious invitation when something caught her eye. She held the piece of paper up to the sun and the watermark became clearly visible.
Kim's jaw hit the floor!
Six months later Kim had cause to look at that invitation again. A parcel containing the first three books of her 'Kimbo' series had just arrived from Watermans. She turned them over in her hands, wonderingly.
They were beautifully illustrated nursery books:
'Kimbo Builds a Rocket',
'Kimbo Meets Doctopus'
'Kimbo on the Moon'.
By Kim Gideon
It was just her professional name now, of course.
Kim took the books out into her little garden, along with Karen Marshall's wedding invitation.
She unfolded the sheet of carefully-folded paper and held it up to the sun.
The watermark, HIS face, smiled down on her.
Then she held up the three books. She hoped that somewhere, out there, he would be able to see them.
"I know you must have had a reason for not being there," she said to the sky. "But thanks, Doctor. Thanks for the best wedding present ever!"