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Alexander was ready to scream. Three different telephones were ringing at the same time and every other minute somebody came into his office, having a question or demanding his attention otherwise.
Very frustrated, he ran both hands through his dark hair and groaned. "Oh God, this is pure horror!"
The door opened and Catherine entered the office. "Well, dear? How is it going?"
"Oh, just wonderful," he snapped sarcastically. "I'm just at the verge of a nervous breakdown. How can you and Dad manage this every day?"
"Talking about your father... do you have any idea where he could be?"
Alex shook his head. "No, I didn't see him since yesterday. I thought he called you?"
"He did," Catherine sighed, "but he didn't say when he would be back."
"Is this about something important?"
She hesitated a bit after that question and replied, "Ah no, nothing big, it's just..."
Alexander raised his eyebrows. "What?"
His mother declined. "Forget it. I will try his cell phone in order to get in touch with him."
"Yeah, do that," Alex agreed. The phone at his desk started ringing again. "Excuse me, Mom..."
She smiled at him with great affection. "You are doing great, my son. I'm so proud of you right now." Catherine dropped a tiny kiss on his head and then left the office again.
He rolled his eyes and grumbled, "I'll be happy as soon as Jack gets back and I have peace again." After a deep sigh he picked up the receiver. "Hello, Alexander Parker speaking, how may I help you?..."
Jonathan stood in front of Michiru's loft, holding the box with the cats in his hands. He took a few deep breaths and gathered whatever courage he could muster up. "She will forgive me, she has to," he mumbled to himself and finally knocked.
The door opened a crack and revealed part of the coach's face.
"Hello, my lotus blossom, may I please come in?"
Michiru was still offended, but she let him enter.
"I brought you a present," Jonathan announced, smiling.
Sitting on her couch, she just scowled at him with crossed arms.
Sighing, he tried to explain. "I know you are mad. I'm really trying to spend more time with you, my lotus blossom. But work..."
"Yes, work!" she cut him off roughly. "Work! It's always about your work! That goes before everything else. I still don't know what exactly it is you are working."
"I told you, I'm in the movie business."
"Doing what?" Michiru demanded.
Instead to answer, he tried to divert her attention to something else. "Wouldn't you like to know what I brought you?"
"No. I want some answers and I want them..." She couldn't finish her sentence because he had opened the little door on the box and the red cat came out.
Michiru's eyes widened in astonishment. "A cat? You bought me a cat?"
Bombalurina jumped on the woman's lap and looked up at her. Then she placed her front paws on Michiru's shoulders and rubbed her head gently under her chin. She began to purr loudly as Michiru started to stroke her soft red fur.
Jonathan looked at them, grinning widely. "And? Do you like her?"
The Asian coach beamed. "She is wonderful. I wonder what name I should give her?"
"Oh, she already has one," he explained. "It's Bombalurina."
"A bit much, don't you think?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "The store owner said the name fits the personality."
"You are right. It is kinda beautiful. A beautiful name for a beautiful cat."
A tiny "meow" sounded from the box and Michiru stared questioningly at Jonathan.
"I guess there is someone else, who would like to say hello to you."
Michiru was enraptured as the little black and light-brown cat walked out of the box and straight in direction of the couch, where she could see her friend.
"Her name is Demeter," Jonathan said. "She is a little bit shy at first but then she seems to get quite cuddly too."
"Awww, she is soooo cute," she gushed and lifted the small cat up on the couch to cuddle and snuggle her too. "Oh Jonathan, this is the most beautiful gift I ever got."
"I would do anything for you, my lotus blossom," he declared quietly. "I will go down to the car to get the stuff they will need."
He barely made it back with all the stuff as his cell phone started to ring. Without looking at the display to see who it was, he answered it. "Hello?" Jonathan jerked in surprise and paled a little bit as he heard the screeching voice of his wife on the other end. "Uh... yes... I'm on my way." He hung up.
Michiru looked at him sharply. "Let me guess. Work?"
"Yes, I am so sorry, but..."
"You have to go?"
Jonathan nodded. "I'll call you later, okay?"
"Fine," Michiru grumbled.
Once he had left, she looked at her new roommates. "Well, at least I have you two."
Both cats snuggled closer to her, making Michiru smile despite the sadness that was slowly creeping upon her. "You won't desert me, I know that," she said and continued tenderly stroking them.
Karen sat in her office at 'Stuart Films' and was going through some files as the phone rang. "Hello?"
"Girl, you are sounding very down. It's Jack and I'm calling because I've got awesome news."
Karen had to smile. "You sure sound very happy. So, tell me, what's up?"
"Are you sitting?"
"Because I don't want you to fall over," Jack explained.
Karen snorted. "Yeah, right. Now please, tell me."
He inhaled sharply and then blurted, "Danielle is out of the coma."
"Really? Now that is the greatest news I heard in a long time. How is she doing?"
"So far, so good. The doctors have taken her off all those machines. She is still very weak. That's why she needs to stay there for a longer time."
Karen sighed in relief. "I'm so happy that this nightmare is over."
"I'm so looking forward to Alexander's face when we get back. I'm sure that is something he won't like too much." Jack laughed. "What about over there? Any news concerning Liz?"
"Unfortunately, no. There is still no sign that she is alive. It's especially hard for Taylor."
"Yeah, I can imagine that. But she has a big brother, who will take good care of her."
Karen's face fell once more at the mentioning of Christopher. "Yes, and that's why he is going to marry Sara Jones," she replied sarcastically. "He is only thinking about himself."
Silence ruled at the other end of the line.
"Jack? Are you still there?"
"Yes... uh... listen... I gotta go back to Dani. We will talk more later, okay?"
"Yes, okay. Bye."
Jack hung up and looked strangely at the phone, trying to process what he had just heard. "Sara is going to marry Christopher?" He frowned. "Great, now that will be interesting. They were so not made for each other." Then he shrugged his shoulders and mumbled, while walking back to Danielle's room. "Whatever, I don't care anyway."
Taylor was in the garden, playing with Tasilo, as Christopher walked up to them and joined them. "Hey, little one."
"Hey, big brother."
"Don't make any plans for this evening," he told her.
The teenager looked at him and wrinkled her forehead. "Why?"
He smiled. "Because we will have a visitor."
"Your friend, Sara Jones."
Taylor froze. "Sara Jones is coming here this evening?" she asked in disbelief.
"Yes," Chris said and his grin got bigger. "Aren't you happy? I know you two have not seen each other in a while..."
"I will not be here this evening," she cut him off, harshly.
Christopher's face fell. "But what... what's wrong?" There was no way for him to know that Victoria had done all she could to make Taylor very insecure about Sara's true nature. "I thought you two are best friends and she will soon be part of our family when I marry her."
"For you maybe, but she will never be part of MY family," she announced coldly.
"NO! I don't want to discuss this anymore. Please, take care of Tasilo. I have to go to my next training session."
Christopher tried once more to get his sister to talk with him. "Taylor, please..."
"You can do whatever you want. I won't be here for dinner and I won't be here as long as she is here."
"Leave it! Sara Jones isn't, was not and will never be my friend. As far as I'm concerned, she doesn't exist!" With that she left her brother standing there, went to the house to get her bag and then drove off in her car.
Chris looked at Tasilo, completely confused. "What the hell was that all about? I just don't get it."
The dog placed his ball directly in front of Christopher and waited patiently for him to throw it.
Danielle lay in the hospital bed. Most of the tubes and machines had been taken from her weak body. For the moment, she got a bit more oxygen through a tube in her nose. Despite that, her condition was stable and she was better.
Jack sat beside her, holding her hand. "God, Dani. I'm so glad that you finally woke up. You had us all pretty worried about you."
"I'm sorry about that." Her voice was scratchy from weeks of being unused. "Jack, why am I here? What... what happened to me?"
"Are you saying you don't remember?" he asked concerned.
Danielle shook her head. "Was I very sick?"
Jack sighed. It wouldn't be easy but he would have to tell her the truth. "Danielle, you took some drugs that nearly killed you."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "I can't remember... why don't I remember?"
He began to stroke her hand to calm her down. "Don't get upset. It's going to be okay. We will find a way, I promise."
Taylor parked her car in the underground car park below Michiru's apartment building. She took her bag from the passenger seat and got out. A car sped past her and only for a second could she catch a quick glance at the driver. "Jonathan Parker?" A few more thoughts popped up in her head and she put two and two together. "Oh shit. What if he is the man Ms. Kasawaki was talking about when she told me about her Jonathan?"
Jonathan raced out of the underground car park. He barely avoided colliding with the girl that got out of her car. He was already on the road back as his mind screamed at him who exactly the girl was. "Oh God! That was Taylor Stuart! What if she recognized me and will tell Michiru? She would never forgive me! Please, don't let her have recognized me..." That was his mantra as he drove to the Parker's movie company.
Sam stood at the shores of the small lake and looked to the other side. She was a bit concerned because Liz was over there, up on a tree, holding a rope in her hands. The business woman was completely drenched from head to toe, but still, she was not about to give up.
"Liz, maybe we should stop before you will really hurt yourself."
"No, no," the other woman declined. "I think I finally got it all figured out."
"Are you sure?" Samantha asked, raising her eyebrows questioningly.
The blonde didn't answer. She thought that at the moment action would say more than words. Howling her own unique version of a Tarzan yell, she grabbed the rope tighter and jumped off the tree. Having crossed half the distance her hands slipped off the rope and with a massive splash, she landed on her stomach in the middle of the lake.
Worried, Sam dived into the water and swam over to her as quickly as she could.
Liz was coming up as soon as Sam reached her. "Are you okay?"
She brushed wet, blonde hair out of her face and pouted. "Yeah, I'm okay. Why can't I do it?"
Sam smiled tenderly. "You are expecting too much of yourself. You cannot learn that from one day to the next. It will take some time."
"How long did it take until you could do it?"
The brunette shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know, I didn't count."
"I will try again," Liz declared stubbornly.
"Don't worry, I know you'll be there to rescue me in case something happens." Liz climbed back up the tree while Sam decided to just stay in the water. Once again the blonde came flying towards her holding on to the rope. As soon as she was close to Sam, Liz let go of the rope on purpose and pulled her legs toward her chest, wrapping her arms around them. This created an enormous splash, soaking the brunette even more.
The blonde came back up and grinned widely.
"So, you think that is funny, do you?" Sam grumbled playfully.
"Well, let's see how funny you think this is!" The jungle woman started to splash her, which ended in a major water battle where both of them splashed and dunked the other. Finally, the panther Shakira also entered the water and decided to have a little fun too.
Michiru opened her door and found Taylor in front of it, looking a bit lost and unsure.
"Taylor? Now that is a surprise. I thought you would get here 3 hours later."
Clearly uncomfortable, the girl rubbed her neck. "Uh... yes... I hope I... uh... I'm not disturbing you... am I? I could... uh... I guess I could go and come back later Ms. Kasawaki..."
Michiru just smiled. "No, no. Come on in. I was just about to watch a DVD that Jonathan brought me. We can watch that together before we go over to the ice hall for your next training session." When she didn't get an answer, she looked at Taylor, who seemed to be completely lost in thought. "Taylor?"
The girl jerked. "Wh-what?"
"Are you okay? Did something happen at home?"
"Why don't you go and get comfortable in the living room. I'll go and make us some tea and then you can tell me what's bothering you," Michiru said, taking the teenager's shoulders and steering her in direction of the living room.
"Nope, no but."
Taylor hung her head in defeat and marched with hanging shoulders into the room while Michiru went to the kitchen to fix some tea.
Danielle was about to despair. She tried so hard to remember something but it just wouldn't come to her. "There are faces whirling around in my mind and there are names I should know. They have to be from the time before the coma. Try as I might, I don't remember anything. Everything is like surrounded by very thick fog. I'm so scared, Jack. I'm so horribly scared," she whimpered.
He tried to console her as best as he could. "Hey, don't get ahead of yourself just yet," he told her in a soft voice. "It wasn't that long ago that you came out of the coma and I'm sure you will get all your memories back. It will take some time and it will take lots of patience. Trust me, everything is going to be okay."
Danielle sighed in exhaustion but let her head sink back into the pillow. It didn't take long and she was asleep.
Jack kept sitting at her side, holding her hand and thinking of ways to help her. But one particular thought was rearing its head and try as he might he couldn't push it away. 'Sara is going to get married to Christopher.'
Unsure, Christopher looked at the telephone in front of him and thought about if he really should make that call. "I know it will just end in another fight... alright, I just do it and have it out of the way. It's not like he can pull me through the receiver."
Slowly he dialed the number to Scotland.
After a short moment of ringing, his uncle picked up. "Hello?"
"Hello Uncle William... how is it going? Everything okay again with the bar?" He asked nervously.
William sounded surprised. "Everything is okay. But that's not the reason for your call, is it?"
Chris cleared his throat. "No. It's just... that... I... uh... I'm going to get married and I wanted to invite you. I also want for us to forget about the stupid fight we had before you left."
"Oh, you made up with Karen? That's great news," William answered sounding more happy now.
The blonde man closed his eyes. Now would come the hard part. "I'm not going to marry Karen. Sara will be the bride."
"WHAT?" William roared, beside himself with anger. "So, you did lie to me, Chris!"
"No," he defended himself. "Everything is far more complicated than you could possibly think..."
"So what," his uncle snapped. "For your information, I'm not going to come to this wedding. I'm not going to look on when you throw your life away."
That was the last thing Chris heard before the dial tone came through. Dejected, he hung up and stared ahead. "I knew it would end like this."
Alexander entered Catherine's office to give her some documents she would have to sign. He was surprised to find her sitting there with a rather satisfied smirk on her features. "What's up with you? Got some good news?"
"As a matter of fact, yes, my son. I called Sara's Dad and informed him about what's going on."
Alex pricked up his ears.
"Matthew just called me back and told me that he is on his way and that he will be here in about 2 days," Catherine explained.
"And just what are you thinking will happen, Mom?"
"Well, of course that the whole rubbish concerning the wedding between Sara and Christopher will be stopped."
Alex was skeptical. "You seriously think you can stop Sara from marrying that artist just because her Dad is against it?"
Catherine looked at him and wrinkled her forehead. "What do you mean?"
"Mom, you know Sara. The more somebody says anything against it, the stronger her will will get to actually marry that idiot."
"Nonsense," his mother told him. "Sara will see that she is wrong as long as we prove to her that he is only marrying her because of money."
Alexander turned around to leave. "I will just say one thing... she is a naive, stubborn girl in love... there is nothing to be done about that and your plan will backfire. Until later then. Unfortunately, I have to get back to work."
Once Alex had left, Catherine felt some doubts rising. "Could he be right about this?"
Michiru came back from the kitchen with a tablet in her hands. She poured Taylor a cup of some wonderful, nice smelling Asian tea. The coach smiled as she saw the girl stroking the cats that visibly relished the tender caresses. "As I can see, you already befriended Bombalurina and Demeter."
Taylor looked at her in surprise. "Quite unusual names for cats, especially Bombalurina."
"They are very cute and cuddly."
The Asian woman laughed happily. "Yeah, I know. I got them from Jonathan."
Again, the mentioning of that particular name made Taylor think back to the encounter in the underground car park. "Can it be that he was here just a while ago and is driving a metallic-green jaguar?" Inwardly she prayed and hoped that Michiru would say no.
"Yes," came the happy exclamation that had Taylor turn her head away so that Michiru wouldn't see the pained expression on her face. "Did you see him?"
The girl shook her head. She couldn't tell her the truth. Her mind was in an uproar at the moment and this was just another thing she so didn't want to deal with right now.
Michiru felt so bad for her young protégée because she could tell that there was something burdening her. "Taylor? Please, tell me what's wrong. Is there any trouble at home?"
The teenager nodded and admitted in a quiet voice, "Yes, and it is becoming too much. But I really don't want to talk about it right now." She still didn't look at her concerned coach. Instead she stroked Bombalurina between her pointy ears and rubbed Demeter's soft fur. "How about we watch that DVD of yours?"
"Okay, whatever you want, Taylor. Just know, whenever you want, I'll be here for you and you can talk with me about everything, alright?"
Michiru put in the DVD and announced. "It's not exactly a movie. It's a musical. Have you ever seen 'Cats'?"
Taylor shook her head.
"Good, me neither. I was told though that it is great."
Standing alone in an elevator, Juan was thinking about the chaotic whirl of emotions that happened inside him. "I'm sure it was the fault of the woman... I just am not attracted to brunettes... I'm a real man and something like that never happened before so I'm sure it was alone her fault... I'm a Latin Lover... a guy the ladies swoon over and fall all over for... she just wasn't my type... besides, Victoria was blonde and then everything went without any problem at all... that's it... I just prefer blonde-haired women... I just need to find the right one and then everything will be fine."
A bling announced that he had reached his destination and he left the elevator. In front of a big mirror he smoothed his hair again and practiced his most charming smile. He winked at his reflection and gave himself a thumbs-up. "That's more like it." Confidently, he went to the door where the name tag said in bold letters: Karen Miller.
Beaming in utter happiness and humming softly to herself, Sara came out of the Mercedes car shop where she had just bought Christopher's birthday present. Her happiness faded quickly though as a venom-yellow Porsche held in front of her and Victoria stepped out.
The model adjusted her tiny mini skirt and carefully skipped over to her on her high heels. "I'm going to do it," she announced and forced a smile to her face.
Sara was confused. "What?"
"I'm going to be your bridesmaid. I'm only doing it though because else you wouldn't have anyone for that," the model explained and crossed her arms, trying to stare her down.
Sara just raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
Vicky glared at her.
Smirking, Sara just couldn't keep her next remark in and said, "Well, somebody needs to catch my bride's bouquet in order to someday get a nice man too."
The blonde was boiling inside, but she kept from exploding and just replied quite innocently, "If you have time, we can talk about the wedding and set up a schedule."
"Well, not right now. I have to talk with the manager concerning Taylor's special surprise."
Victoria didn't like that too much and she needed to know more about this. "Why Taylor? What kind of surprise?"
Sara wasn't suspicious at all because she had no idea about Victoria's evil schemes that had already started to take place. She didn't know that most of those involved Christopher's little sister. "It is Christopher's birthday next week and I wanted to make Taylor a little bit happy too, so I thought I would hire 'No Doubt' for a little garden party. It's a great idea, don't you think? Why is that of interest to you?"
That question brought Vicky back from her thoughts. "It isn't. You are boring me to death," she snapped in annoyance, went back to her car and raced away.
Wrinkling her forehead, the young photographer was left behind.
With a mighty bang, Jack's fist met metal and left a huge dent in the old coffee machine.
"Can I help you in some way?" a male voice sounded from behind him.
He turned around and ran a hand through his hair in embarrassment. "Uh... I should have gotten used to the fact by now that this damn thing isn't working that great."
The man pointed at the dent. "But that's no reason to get violent."
"It's not so much about the coffee machine," Jack explained and presented the man his hand. "May I introduce myself, my name is Jack Carpenter."
The man took his hand and smiled. "Nice to meet you, I'm Elias Lunaris."
"I've seen you here before, together with your son. You've been telling him a story and it was great."
Elias laughed. "Well, there are a lot of kids I take care of here, but they are not my own."
Now even more embarrassed, Jack stuffed his hands into the back pockets of his jeans. "Oh, sorry. I didn't know that."
"I'm a psychologist and when I have some free time I work here in the hospital. The job is voluntary."
Jack nodded and replied admiringly, "That's really noble of you."
Elias declined, "I don't look at it as being noble. I just want to help and console the best I can. Most of the little patients are horribly sick and so often alone."
Jack sighed deeply and agreed.
"And you? Why are you here?" the dark-haired psychologist wanted to know.
Exhausted and a bit out of breath, Jonathan entered Catherine's office. The first thing he did was to drink a big glass of water with ice.
His wife stepped in. "Jonathan. It's about time."
He walked up to her, hugging and kissing her. "Hello, my darling."
Emotionless, Catherine mentioned, "You are sweating an awful lot. What have you done?"
Jonathan hesitated a second. "Well... that happens when one is running from one job to the next without barely a break." He took off his jacket, rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and took a seat at the desk.
Catherine took the jacket in order to hang it up. During that she noticed an unfamiliar scent that smelled like a light, sweet perfume. Suspiciously, she stared at her husband, who was sitting with his back towards her. Quickly pushing the evil thoughts aside, she hung up the jacket. Shortly after that she was caught in a heavy sneezing spell.
Jonathan jumped off his chair and hurried over to her. "Did you catch a cold?"
His wife pushed his helping hand aside and sat down in an leather armchair, holding a tissue to her face. Another sneezing spell happened and Jonathan stood rooted to the spot a few feet away.
After Catherine had somewhat recovered, he wanted to hug her.
She just put her hand out and mumbled, "Stop!" through the tissue she was holding over her mouth and nose. "Stop right there and don't come any closer."
"But what..." Jonathan was confused.
"You've been around cats!" she yelled, outraged.
He jerked and paled. He had completely forgotten that Catherine was allergic to cats.
Jack was hesitating a bit. Even though the psychologist seemed very nice, he was not sure if he really should tell him everything. But then he thought it couldn't hurt. Maybe Elias would be able to help. "Well, I'm not here because of a kid. It's about a good friend of mine. Her name is Danielle. She's been here for a while and she just came back out of a coma."
Elias interrupted him, "That's good news that she's out of the coma. But still, you don't look exactly happy. What else is going on?"
Jack sighed deeply and then unburdened his soul to him. "She's been into drugs. Her family has turned their backs on her and besides me there is nobody to take care of her. Now, she is suffering from tremendous memory loss and I feel completely helpless. I don't know if there is anything I can do. I don't think I'm competent enough for that. Do you understand what I mean?"
Elias nodded. "Yes. Are you thinking about professional help? I can only agree with you and tell you it would be best to get support by a psychologist."
Jack looked at him in expectancy.
Catherine was still glaring at him darkly as Jonathan finally found his voice again. "Oh God, Catherine, I'm so sorry... I completely forgot about it... but..."
She was still inhaling deeply through her tissue. "Where did you get in contact with those damn beasts?" she demanded sharply.
He only had mere seconds to make up a little cover story and of course it was quite an unbelievable one. "Oh, I just remembered... one of our business associates had his cats with him during our meeting."
Catherine's scowl was still firmly in place. "What? Why?"
"Well, he was with them at the vet and didn't have time to bring them back home before our meeting."
She sniffled into her tissue and scoffed, "You honestly expect me to believe this absolutely ridiculous story?"
Jonathan shrugged his shoulders and tried to be as cool as he could but on his inside he was shaking with fear. He felt as if his life was dangling from a very thin thread and Catherine was standing in front of him with a pair of scissors.
Juan knocked at the office door before opening it and shoving his head through the crack.
Karen looked up in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Working his charms on her, he replied, "Well, a beautiful woman such as yourself shouldn't be all alone, sitting around in this stuffy office. I thought I would take you out to lunch."
Liz' assistant shook her head and sighed. "What gives you the idea that I would like to accompany you?"
Juan came in and sat down on the edge of her desk, smiling lovingly at her. "You are alone, I am alone and that's why you won't deny me my wish."
Karen rose and pushed him gently back in direction of the door. "I don't have time for such fun so I will refuse your offer." After that she returned to her chair and sat down again.
Juan though wasn't about to give up that quickly. "What about dinner then?"
The blonde rolled her eyes nerve-wrecked. "Never!"
With his pride very hurt, Juan walked out of the room and closed the door behind him. Barely able to keep from pouting he went to the elevator.
Annoyed, Karen stuffed some documents into a drawer of her desk. She froze for a moment as a framed picture of Christopher was revealed. She reached for it with trembling hands and sighed as she looked at his gentle features that once she had so loved to caress and kiss. After a few seconds of this she grew mad at herself because it was beyond her why he still had such influence on her emotions. She threw the photo into the waste-paper basket and stormed out of her office. Seeing the man, who had just left, she called out, "Juan? Would you like to go have lunch with me?"
Grinning wildly he turned around and blew her a kiss.
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