FIUR and VLAMME
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(c) 2002 - 2013 by Fiur and Vlamme
With a huge sigh, Michiru sat down in an overstuffed armchair and tried to get comfortable in front of the TV. ”The whole day I’ve been trying to get in touch with him, to call him, but he is just not there. I miss you so much, Jonathan.”
Her gaze traveled to her cats.
Bombalurina and Demeter were sleeping cuddled up on the couch and she had to smile upon seeing the peaceful picture. ”I sure wish that could be you and me, Jonathan.” Another heavy sigh escaped her throat. Her eyes turned to the rich dinner in front of her. ”Hmm… just what should I eat first? The tempting chicken wings or those delicious looking nachos with mashed apples? Well, it really is a hard decision… I think you’ll be the first to go…” she said and picked up the plate of fried fish sticks topped with sauerkraut and put that on her lap. With the other hand she picked up the remote control and started channel surfing, until she found something that caught her interest. ”Oh…” She turned up the volume a bit as it was announced that they would now show an exclusive report about the party the Parkers and Stuarts were celebrating due to Elizabeth Stuart’s return. ” Maybe I’ll get to see Taylor,” Michiru said to herself and smiled. ”She was so excited when she told me that her big sister was finally coming back. That really is one unbelievable story.”
”Here you can see the happy family of which Elizabeth Stuart will soon be a part of,” the reporter explained. ”There we have Alexander Parker, her charming fiancé and the soon to be parents-in-law, Catherine and Jonathan Parker.” The camera zoomed in and showed the apparently very happy couple.
Michiru’s eyes widened in disbelief and shocked she let go of the fork, which she was holding. ”Jonathan?! That’s my Jonathan!” she exclaimed.
The reporter went on, ”According to Catherine Parker, they are still as much in love with each other as when they first met and that after over 30 years of marriage.”
Michiru went to the TV and crouched right in front of the screen. ”That can’t be… it is him… Jonathan… there is no doubt… it’s truly him...”
”It’s a shame that their beautiful daughter Victoria can’t be here tonight, but she is at home with a very heavy cold. Now, I will turn the microphone over so that our charming host of this show can have a few words,” the reporter said and gave it to Catherine.
The red-haired woman took it and beamed happily at the cameras with her piercing light blue eyes. ”Even in Hollywood there are still a few families left like ours and that will never change. In all these years, I have always been fighting for my family. Family is the most important thing in life.”
The figure skating coach stared at the screen. ”Family…” she whispered. She still couldn’t believe what she was seeing and hearing.
”Nobody will ever be able to come between me and my husband.” The reporter took the microphone back. ”Thanks a lot, Mrs. Parker, for your words about the importance of family. If you want to have more information about Alexander and Elizabeth please stay tuned to this channel. We will be back in a couple of minutes.”
Michiru switched off the TV. With tear-filled eyes, she stared at a framed picture of Jonathan and herself. She took it out of the frame and looked at it hard for the last time. ”You bastard,” she choked out through a tight throat, tearing up the picture. Slowly, she walked to the door of the roof’s patio, opened it and threw out the pieces, watching them getting blown away by the wind.
Richard found the distraught Sara, who sat in the hay of an empty horse’s box. He went to her and cleared his throat softly.
Sara looked up and glared at him, ”How did you find me?” she snapped, moody.
Richard smiled. ”Well, to tell you the truth it wasn’t that hard. Tugger was meowing up a storm in front of the closed stable door.
”You little traitor,” the photographer said to her cat, but she wasn’t mad at him.
Tugger meowed once more in offense and then stretched out in the hay.
Richard sat down real close to Sara and looked at her in expectation. ”So, what do you think? Can we be friends again?” he asked softly.
Silence fell and the only sound disturbing it was that of the hay-munching horses.
”We will always be alone and we will never find somebody who will love us,” Sara suddenly said.
Richard snorted. ”Now this is something to look forward to.”
The young woman looked deeply into his eyes and he swallowed hard. ”May I ask you a very intimate question, Ray?”
He was a bit surprised but nodded.
”Have you ever been in love with somebody but that person did not have the same feelings for you?”
Richard turned bright red. ”Oh, oh… that’s very complicated… and… ”
She made an impatient hand motion. ”Okay, okay, stop stuttering. I am depressed. I will never ever find someone who’ll truly love me!”
”Stop talking such nonsense. Come here.” Protectively, he pulled the crying Sara into his arms and held her.
”Just why does it never work? What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?” she wanted to know.
Richard sighed. ”There is nothing wrong with you. You moved to a big city. The first idiot you met there didn’t realize how wonderful you are. Well, stuff like that happens, but it doesn’t mean you can give up.” He looked at her, pouting and then in a very whiney voice, he ordered, ”Come on, I want the old Sara back. It seems I lost her somewhere between America and Australia.”
Sara chuckled and hugged him tightly. ”Do you know what, Ray?”
”I feel so safe with you. You are the only true friend that I have.” Exhausted she closed her eyes and buried her face at Richard’s chest. She couldn’t see the pitiable expression on his face, while he was holding the slumbering, young woman tightly in his arms.
***** THE NEXT DAY *****
The doorbell rang. Groaning and sleepy-eyed, Michiru forced herself out of her soft, warm bed and stumbled to the door to open it.
Billy was in a very good mood and went quickly past her, entering the living room. He looked at her, his eyes shining with such enormous happiness like she had never seen before. ”Ask me,” he told her impatiently. ”Come on, ask me, before I explode!”
Michiru rolled her eyes and sighed. ”Okay, what happened?”
”Sweetheart, I’m in love!” he exclaimed, stressing the last word.
The coach’s face was expressionless, as was her voice, when she muttered, ”Great.”
Billy looked at her in concern. ”Great? Hey, what’s wrong with my best friend today?”
”She kissed love goodbye forever,” Michiru grumbled darkly.
He was so stunned he couldn’t say a word.
”I’ll go to the bathroom now, throw up and then get dressed. You can wait for me or you can go already.” With that she disappeared and shut the bathroom door behind her.
Billy started to impatiently pace the corridor.
The doorbell rang again.
”I will open, sweetheart,” he called out in direction of the bathroom. He did as he said and found Catherine in front of the door. ”Yes, please?”
Catherine was a bit surprised. Quickly, she plastered a fake smile on her face and said sweetly, ”Excuse me, I’m looking for Michiru Kasawaki.”
Billy smiled. ”Oh, please, come in. Michiru will be with us soon.”
Catherine’s eyes traveled over the interior of the loft before they returned to the handsome, young man. ”I have to admit, I am a bit surprised to find you here. I mean a man.”
”I’m a very good friend of Michiru’s. Would you like a cup of tea?” he inquired friendly.
”No, thank you.”
Michiru came out of the bathroom, rubbing her hair with a towel. ”Billy, who was…” she stopped as she recognized the red-haired woman.
Catherine was sizing her up and down. ”So. You are Ms. Michiru Kasawaki,” she said, disparagingly.
”You don’t know each other?” Billy chimed in, looking in surprise from one woman to the other. ”I thought…”
”Billy, would you please go?” Michiru asked, looking pleadingly at him. ”We will talk about the thing you wanted to tell me later, okay?”
”Alright, whatever you want, sweetheart. See you later. Bye.” He gave a tiny peck to her cheek, nodded briefly in direction of Catherine Parker and left the loft.
Once they were alone, Catherine couldn’t hold it in any longer. ”So, this Billy… is that one of your little love affairs as my husband was?”
Michiru fought hard to keep her cool. ”You can calm down, Mrs. Parker. Whatever was between Jonathan and me is over for good.”
”It better be, because I won’t allow you to destroy my family.”
”You can keep Jonathan. I will gladly do without him. I think it’s better you leave now.”
In front of the door, Catherine stopped again and turned around. ”I know women like you. Seduce a rich, married man and last but not least have a child with him to blackmail him and take him away from his family.”
That stung and Michiru shot back a sarcastic remark. ”Yes, it does seem you know women like that. You are in luck though that it didn’t go that far.”
With one last evil glare, Catherine left and closed the door with a bang.
Michiru burst into tears of desperation.
Jonathan leaned back in his leather office chair and picked up the phone. ”Hello? Oh, Catherine, my dear… Where are you? … Already in the car… that early in the morning … you sound angry... What? You want to talk with me? ASAP? Sure, I’m the whole day here at the office. Alright, until then.” He hung up and drew his brows together, thinking hard about his wife’s weird mood and sudden need to talk with him. Everything had just been great the day before at the party.
Victoria entered his office, also not being in the greatest of moods since she had missed the party the day before. ”Hey Daddy. Mom sent me to you. For some reason, she really wants me to work here at the company now that my career as top model is over. But, actually, I’m not in the mood to sit in this boring office all day.”
Jonathan smiled and got up. He grabbed Vicky at her bony shoulders. ”It will be wonderful, sweetheart. You’ll see. Come with me and I introduce you to some of your soon-to-be-colleagues.”
Victoria rolled her eyes in annoyance, but followed her father like a good little girl. ”What did I do to deserve that,” she whined to herself and low enough that he couldn’t hear her.
”Okay, let’s see, where should we go first?” The words had barely left his lips when he discovered Jack, who entered his own office at the end of the hallway. ”I know. We will go to Jack Carpenter. One of our most valuable men.”
Once more, she rolled her doe-brown eyes but let her father drag her along. ”I’m sure he’ll be Mr. Super Boring himself.”
Both of them entered Jack’s office.
He greeted them happily and with a big grin that matched those of toothpaste commercials. ”Good morning. How are you two?”
The disarming smile had a certain effect on Victoria. She went to him and blurted, ”Hi, I’m Victoria. My friends call me Vicky. From now on, I’ll be working here as V.I.P. attendant.”
Politely, Jack shook her hand. ”Ah, the daughter of the house. Nice to meet you.”
She winked at him. ”I’m looking forward to work closely together… especially with you.”
”Oh, I’m sure it will be a pleasure,” Jack responded and let go of her hand.
Jonathan patted the man’s back and dragged his daughter from the room.
Victoria waved goodbye to Jack.
”Well, that went great!” Jonathan commented proudly, once they were outside. ”I will introduce you to some more people.”
Victoria quickly shook her head in denial. ”That’s not necessary, Daddy. Really.”
Inside his office, Jack was thinking about the past few minutes. ”Man, she sure was coming over a bit eager. But, she is beautiful, definitely beautiful. I really am looking forward to see what working with her will be like.”
Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ was sounding from the speakers of the big shopping mall. Liz had decided it was time to show Sam some more of her world to help the brunette feel more at home. With the promise of more chocolate, the blonde finally managed to get the very excited Sam away from the automatically opening entrance door. Smiling, she took her hand and led her along, while the other woman couldn’t tear her eyes off the door. ”It’s magic,” Sam insisted.
Liz chuckled. ”No, it’s not. Once again, it’s just technology,” she explained.
Sam’s eyes widened in astonishment and she said, ”All these amazing things you have. Everything is so loud and colorful.”
Liz looked at her, a big grin firmly in place. ”Wait till Christmas time. Then you can see what’s really colorful.”
Now the brunette was beaming as much as the tons of bright lights around her. ”Ah, Christmas. Emily told me about it. It is a very special celebration, isn’t it?”
”Wait and see, you’ll experience it in a few months.”
While Sam was scanning her surroundings and collecting new impressions with every step she took in this new world, Liz set up the shopping plan. ”Let’s go to the top floor first and see what clothes they have to offer. Then we should check out the shoe department and maybe some accessories to complete your look.”
Sam glanced at her with a look of insecurity. Maybe everything at once and right at the first day was a little bit too much. ”Okay, let’s just check out some clothes and shoes then. Come on, Sam, I promise it will be fun.”
As soon as they had reached the escalator, Samantha stopped again. ”The stairs are moving? Why?” she inquired.
They stepped on it and Liz explained, ”People are lazy in the cities.”
”But I am not lazy,” came the reply.
The blonde chuckled. ”Well, I am a little bit.”
Sam looked back down after they had reached the top. ”That was lots of fun. Can we please ride it again?”
”Sure, later. Now, let’s find some clothes for you.”
A salesclerk came racing towards them as soon as they had entered the store. ”Welcome Ms. Stuart. It is nice to see you again. How may I be of assistance for you?”
”Hello Stacey. This is my friend Samantha and she is in need of some new outfits. Do you think you can do something about it?”
A happy spark appeared in the eyes of the salesclerk. ”But of course.” She pointed at a very comfortable looking couch. ”Please, have a seat. I’m sure we will find something very beautiful for your friend. Maybe something that will enhance her gorgeous blue eyes?” Stacey winked at Sam, who blushed and looked away bashfully.
Liz smiled and nodded. ”Thank you.”
The salesclerk hurried away and Sam slid very close to Liz. ”What do I have to do now?” she wanted to know.
”You just point out what you like and then we go to the dressing cubicle where you’ll try it on to see if it fits.”
”Damn it!” Jack cussed. ”This woman just never does what I want her to do.” He was in his office, having a little break and despairing over the fourth part of the Tomb Raider PC game.
Without knocking, Alexander entered.
Jack looked up and paused the game. ”Alex, what a surprise.” He wasn’t too happy to see the man, but he tried to keep it from showing in his voice or on his face. ”What can I do for you?”
Alexander sank into the chair in front of Jack’s desk. ”Oh Jackie boy, you are so in luck to not have a headstrong woman glued to your cheek.”
Jack was a bit annoyed about his behavior. ”Please, don’t insult Liz. Tell me what you want.”
Alex raised his hands in a calming gesture. ”Hey, calm down, okay? Actually, the real problem is not my fiancée. It’s her new ‘sidekick’.”
”What’s that supposed to mean,” the other man inquired and frowned.
”Well, she’s gotten herself a new little friend, fresh from the jungle and now her sole attention is on this jungle savage Sam! They are hanging out the whole time and Liz barely gives me a thought.”
‘Yeah, and that is much better for Liz,’ Jack thought, but didn’t dare to voice out loud. ”Alex, I’m sure everything will work out, you’ll see. I will see Liz this afternoon together with Dani.”
Alex jerked up in his chair as that name fell. ”DANI? Danielle is back? She is out of the coma?”
”Oh, did I forget to mention that?” Jack replied, matter-of-factly. He felt some satisfaction in seeing the other man caught off guard and so flustered. ”Sorry, I didn’t know it was so important to you.”
Alex rose and went to the door. ”It’s not,” he muttered. Inside, he was scared of the truth. ”Where is she now?”
”For the time being, she is living with me,” Jack answered.
”Oh.” He went out of the office and was just about to close the door behind him when something popped into his head and he stuck it into the room once more. ”By the way, Jack, You will have to go to Paris soon. Mom and Dad want you to meet with this European software specialist. He wants to sell us some new technology and you are supposed to check it out. Have fun!” Alex finally left.
Jack leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply. ”Oh no. Why does that have to happen now?”
The salesclerk was showing Sam and Liz lots of different outfits, but every time, Samantha had shaken her head in denial.
”Have a look at that. I think this would be something for you,” Liz pointed out. ”The jeans look wonderful combined with the sporty top. It would really suit you.” The blonde rose from the couch and took the clothes from Stacey’s hands. She led Samantha to the dressing cubicle. ”Just get in there and put it on. Once you are done you can come out. Okay?”
Sam looked at her with a sad expression. ”But you said ‘we’ would try it on.”
The business woman didn’t know how to get out of this one. So she relented and went together with the brunette into the dressing cubicle.
Once inside, Liz mentioned, ”This is one tiny space. Maybe it is better if I wait outside.”
”Please don’t,” Sam responded quickly. ”If you go I will be all alone in here.”
”There is nothing here to be afraid of,” she tried to calm her down, but seeing that Sam would really be scared if she left her, she decided to stay. While Sam was taking off an old T-shirt from Chris and the shorts they had bought on Vanuatu, Liz forced her eyes to the walls and ceiling, so that they wouldn’t stray like they did in the bathroom not that long ago.
”Liz? Can you please give me the pants?”
Tense, the blonde turned to Sam, who was standing in front of her, wearing only her panties. The sudden closeness confused Liz and her emerald eyes strayed now and again to the brunette’s well-formed, naked upper body, while she felt Sam’s warm breath on her hair. Her body was paralyzed, but the thoughts in her mind were on one wild roller coaster ride.
Sam bent down a bit more so that she was able to look into her eyes. ”Are you okay? Is there something I can do?” she asked in concern.
Liz swallowed hard. Trying hard to only look into Sam’s eyes, she stuttered, ”You… you sh-should… first… uh… put… put on the top first.”
”Is everything alright?” inquired the salesclerk in front of the curtain.
”Yes, yes, ” Liz replied, hoping that her voice didn’t sound as croaking as it sounded to her own ears. ”We will take different models from the tops and a few more pairs of jeans I think. Please, bring everything to my car. Thank you.”
Victoria’s mood had improved and happily she had driven back home, while Jonathan turned back to work. He was busily going over some paperwork as his door flew open and Catherine came in. Jonathan went to greet her, but she held up a hand to stop him and thundered, ”Michiru Kasawaki!”
All color drained from his face and he froze, utterly and completely stunned, unable to speak.
”That’s her name, isn’t it?! Did you really think I wouldn’t find out?” she raved on. ”You are a fool, Jonathan, if you think you could ruin my family and my company.”
”Let me try to explain…”
”YOU will listen to ME!” she cut him off roughly. ”I am your wife and you are cheating on me with such a cheap hussie?!”
”There is no need to be offending, Catherine. Michiru is not one of those women,” he defended the Asian coach. ”I will not allow you to talk like that about her. She deserves much better. Besides, she doesn’t know that I’m married.”
Catherine crossed her arms. ”Ah. Is that so? Do you want it to end with Michiru like it did with Kayla?”
That remark stung and hurt him deeply. The tension between them grew to the point of being unbearable. ”No,” he answered quietly. ”And exactly because of that I will drive to her now. I will tell her everything. I will commit myself to her because I just realized how much I love her.”
She scoffed. ”Do you think love will be enough for a good-working relationship? You are such a fool. I’m telling you, you are going to regret going to her. Stay with your family, Jonathan.” He was already in the corridor when she screamed after him, ”DO YOU REALLY WANT TO ABANDON YOUR CHILDREN?”
”SHAKIRA!” Sam yelled it so loud that she attracted the stares of more than just one person.
”What? Where?” Liz asked, looking around, trying to see what Sam had discovered.
The brunette pointed at a huge stuffed toy panther that sat in one of the windows of a toy store. Tears welled up in her eyes.
Liz took her hand and gently rubbed her thumb over the back of it. ”Would you like to have her?” she inquired softly.
Sam nodded gratefully.
”Alright, we will go in then and I will buy her for you.” Once the huge, black panther had been paid, Sam held it tightly in her arms. It would take a long time before she would let go of it.
”Boy, I’m exhausted. But, I promised you, we would go to a store where you can get loads of sweets and candy so this is what we are going to do.”
Sam’s eyes were shining with happiness as they had found said store and she tried her way through several different chocolates and candies.
”Hey, not too much or you will get sick,” Liz warned. ”We will take some of that stuff home with us. What do you say to that?”
Later the two of them were in the car and on their way home. Both of them completely exhausted but also happy about all the things they had accomplished that day.
”Your world is like paradise,” Sam mentioned. ”You can get everything you want and wish for.”
Liz didn’t agree. ”That only applies to things you can pay with money,” she mumbled under her breath, too silent to be heard over the blaring car radio.
”Miss, I have a meeting with Adam Evans, the casting boss,” Juan explained to the young lady behind the front desk at the Parker’s movie company. He was growing a bit impatient and stepped from one foot on the other. ”My name is Juan Rodriguez and he sent me a personal invitation. He told me to come today.”
”I really am sorry, Mr. Rodriguez. But Mr. Evans is in a very important meeting at the moment. You will have to have a little patience.”
He smiled bashfully. ”I know, I have to work on my temper sometimes.”
The young lady returned his smile. ”Please, have a seat. I will get you some coffee and I assure you that Mr. Evans will have time for you as soon as he is out of the meeting.”
”Thank you.” Juan sat down and waited. He did not like having to wait, because having all this time without anything to do made him start thinking. Again and again, Billy’s words were echoing through his mind and he mumbled to himself, ”That just can’t be. It is impossible. I can’t be that… that would not be good for my image at all. But it can’t be helped…” He looked up at the ceiling. ”God, please, send me a sign, for or against this theory of Billy Chambers’.” Sighing, Juan scanned his surroundings and looked along the corridor. His eyes widened and he swallowed hard as Jack came towards him, wearing his motorcycle leathers.
The man greeted him with a firm handshake and a warm smile. ”Hey Juan, long time no see. How is it going? Did you get a part in the newest movie?”
”I’m gay,” Juan replied breathlessly.
”Okay,” Jack said matter-of-factly.
The singer was shocked. ”Oh my God, did I just say that out loud?”
”That’s no big deal, you know?” Jack answered and patted his shoulder. ”Everybody can do whatever they want.”
”No… no… I didn’t mean it like that… I was rehearsing some words for a role…”
”Whatever you say. I got to go now. I have some free time and need to get home to see some friends of mine. Have a great day and good luck for the role.”
Juan watched him leave with longing eyes. ”Bye.” Once more he looked at the ceiling. ”If that was the sign... then I am lost.”
Sam and Liz had returned a while ago from their exciting shopping trip. The brunette had been so exhausted from all the new impressions and things she had seen that she had fallen asleep. She lay in the garden, in the sweet smelling grass, cuddled up to the enormous toy panther.
Meanwhile, Liz and Taylor were lying on the bed in Liz’ room. Taylor had just told her sister everything that happened in more detail while she was lost in the jungle.
”Part of it I pieced together from what I have heard from others,” Taylor finished her tale.
Liz looked at her closely. ”It seems to me though that you are not quite happy. It sounds as if you and Sara became real good friends.”
The teenager sighed. ”I messed that friendship up completely because I let Vicky influence me. I believed all the crap she fed me. I do feel guilty for my behavior towards Sara.”
Liz ran her fingers through the girl’s hair. ‘Well sweetie, there is only one thing that will help with that. You have to apologize to Sara and explain everything to her. I’m sure, she will understand it.”
”But it is so difficult,” Taylor replied, fumbling nervously with her fingers.
”Taylor, little one, if you don’t do it, it will burden you forever and it wouldn’t be fair to Sara.”
”But she is so far away.”
”Sweetie, an apology works quite well over the phone too, you know? You have to get this misunderstanding out of the way. You’ll feel better then.”
Taylor took a deep breath. ”Okay, you win… smart, big sister.”
”I know that.”
Both of them laughed.
Michiru was lying on her couch, trying hard to read a book, but she just couldn’t concentrate at all. She was hurting too much. ” Just how could he do that to me?” she asked herself. ”He already has a family… I should have known… pretending to be hard working and all this secrecy… now I understand it all…”
The doorbell rang.
Michiru wiped the tears from her face and rose from the couch. Zestfully, she opened the door. ”Billy, it isn’t a good time right now…” She stopped as she recognized the man in front of the door. ”YOU?”
Jonathan gave her a little smile. ”I know, I didn’t call before, but…”
”Go away!” Michiru demanded harshly. She was angry like never before in her life.
He was surprised about her unwelcoming greeting. ”What? Why?” Then he noticed her red, puffy eyes. ”What happened, ” Jonathan asked concerned.
”You actually dare to ask me that? I was watching some TV yesterday evening, Mr. Happily Married!” she retorted strongly.
Jonathan paled. ”Oh no.” He banged his head once against the doorframe. ”Please, listen to me, I can explain…” he started but got cut off.
”NO!” Michiru exclaimed with tears in her eyes. ”Too long I have been listening to your excuses. It’s over. Get out of my life. Forever! I don’t ever want to see you again, you bastard!”
Jonathan tried to pull her into his arms but she resisted and shoved him roughly away. He tried one last time to get her to listen to him. ”Michiru, I love you!”
”I don’t want to hear your lies anymore! It’s over, get that through your head!” In her desperation, she reached for a porcelain vase and threw it. It missed him by mere inches, hit the wooden doorframe with a loud bang and burst into pieces that fell to the floor. Quickly, she closed the door in front of him and leaned her back against it. Tears fell and harsh sobs erupted from her throat, while she slid to the floor, wrapping her arms tightly around her middle.
Outside, Jonathan was leaning his forehead against the door and fought his own tears, listening to Michiru’s heart-wrenching sobs. Each of them left a painful sting in his heart.
Shouts of joy rang out in the house of the Stuarts as Jack and Danielle entered the living room with a big bouquet of flowers.
Jack opened his arms. ”Lizzy, my little Lizzy is back,” he said grinning.
Liz was also very happy to see her friends again. She threw herself into his arms, hugging him tightly, while he picked her up and whirled her around.
”Enough, enough, big guy,” Liz chuckled. ”I might get dizzy. It is so good to see you two again.”
Jack disheveled her long, blonde hair. ”It is far better to see you again.”
”Without your help that would have never been possible.”
”I didn’t do much,” he answered, smiling. ”Taylor and Peter are the ones, who deserve to be praised. Thanks to Taylor’s wild idea and persistence and Peter’s technological knowledge it was possible to set this plan into action. Enough of that. Let me have a look at you. Boy, Lizzy, you sure look fabulous. Far too good for your fiancé.”
”Let’s not talk about that,” Liz responded quickly. ”He also has good sides.” She changed the subject to better topics and her eyes found Danielle, who was keeping to the background. ”Let me give Dani a hug.” She did that and then held her at arm’s length. ”You look much better than last time I saw you.”
The other woman smiled bashfully. ”I can’t remember the last time we saw each other, but thanks for the compliment.”
”I know, Taylor told me all about it. I’m so sorry, Dani.”
Jack was scanning his surroundings, searching. ”By the way… where is the little one?”
Liz grinned. ”She is upstairs, trying to get an uncomfortable phone call out of the way.”
Jack nodded, not exactly knowing more than before his question. ”Ah. Okay.”
”Everything seems strange but I also feel very comfortable in your presence,” Dani mentioned after a moment of silence.
These words made Liz think of Samantha, who was still outside in the garden, sleeping in the sunlight. ”Dani, you are not the only one feeling like that.”
Elias sat on the porch, going over some papers and documents. He looked up and saw the sea, inhaling deeply of the fresh air. ”This really is a wonderful place Jack has here, to relish and enjoy some peace and quiet after a hard day at work.”
There was a knock at the door.
”So much for peace and quiet,” Elias mumbled and got up. Walking to the door, he thought, ”I wonder who that could be? Jack and Danielle have a key so that they wouldn’t have to knock.’
He opened and found a tall, muscled man, wearing mirrored sunglasses and a cap that he had pulled deeply into his face. The man stroked his beard and said in confusion, ”Oh, hello. Who are you? I wanted to see Jack and Danielle.”
”My name is Elias Lunaris. I don’t think I caught your name?”
”I am… Greg… I am a friend of Jack’s.”
”Nice to meet you, Greg,” the therapist said, shaking his hand. ”Unfortunately neither Jack nor Danielle are home, but maybe I can help you?”
The man cleared his throat. ”Actually, I wanted to know about Dani’s condition. I know she’s been very sick.”
Elias smiled. ”If that’s the case then you are asking the right man because I am her therapist.”
”Now that comes as a surprise. So, please, tell me, how is she doing? Is she talking about things from her past? Are there any certain people she mentions?”
”Danielle may have awakened from the deep coma she was in,” Elias explained, ”but sadly her memories from the time before have not been restored yet.” He sighed.
Greg pricked up his ears. ”Really? That’s horrible! Do you know how long such a loss will be? Her whole life?”
”I hope not… but under certain circumstances it could take quite a long time.”
”What circumstances?” Greg inquired hypocritically.
”For instance if she would take drugs again. Her memory loss really could be permanent.”
Greg nodded. ”Yes, that would be really horrible. Thanks for the information.” He turned around to leave.
”You know, you could wait for them here,” Elias pointed out but the other man shook his head. ”No, that’s okay. I’ll call next time before I come over.”
In Australia darkness had fallen a long time ago.
Matthew opened the big stable doors and called out for his daughter. ”Sara? Sweetheart, are you in here? There is somebody on the phone for you. She didn’t want to tell me her name. She just said she was a friend of yours. Are you here, precious?” He was just about to leave as he noticed some rustling noises in one of the supposedly empty boxes. Looking over the wooden wall he froze. He hadn’t expected that but to him it was clear. His ranch help had shamelessly taken advantage of his little, emotionally hurt daughter, seduced her and used her for his own needs and now they were laying wrapped up in each other’s arms, slumbering peacefully in the hay.
Matthew entered the box, roughly pulling the sleeping pair apart.
Sara’s eyes flew open. ”Daddy? What…”
He grabbed Richard’s shirt and pulled him up. ”Richard! What the hell do you think you are doing with my daughter here?!” He was beside himself with rage.
”Sir, I don’t understand… we must have fallen asleep…” he tried to explain, shocked about the behavior of Sara’s father.
”Oh… is that what it is called nowadays?” Matthew cut him off. His face was red and there was a vein dangerously pulsing on his forehead.
Sara was so upset that she burst into tears. ”Please, Daddy, leave him be. We were just talking and Ray was consoling me. Please, Daddy, let him go. We didn’t do anything wrong.”
”You keep out of this, Missy!”
She tugged at her father’s shirt and sobbed, ”Daddy, please!”
”Miss Sara Jones, you will go to the house right this instant! Move!” Matthew ordered in such a tone that wouldn’t allow any talking back.
Imploring, Sara looked at Richard.
”It’s alright, Sara. Do what your Dad said. It’s going to be okay, I promise. Go now.”
Reluctantly, she relented to her father’s wish. She had never seen him that furious.
Once she had left, Matthew turned back to the other man. ”Now to you, Richard. I trusted you blindly and as I just found out that was a big mistake. It won’t happen again though. I want you to leave my ranch as soon as possible. Tomorrow morning, I want to wake up and find you gone! Is that understood?!”
”Yes, Sir.” Richard replied, his face or voice not showing any emotion at all.
The elevator’s doors opened and a little sound of surprise escaped Billy’s throat as he discovered the pieces of the porcelain vase. Fearing the worst, he pounded his fist strongly against Michiru’s door, calling her name.
A few moments passed until the door opened a crack.
Billy pushed against it until it was far enough open so that he could enter. What he saw next shocked him to the core.
As pale as a white sheet and with beads of sweat on her forehead, Michiru was crawling over the floor on her hands and knees, nearly unable to say anything.
”My God, sweetheart! I will get you to the hospital immediately!” Carefully, he drew her into his arms and picked her up, carrying her to the elevator. She clung to him with as much strength as she could muster in her weakened state and buried her face at his throat.
”It’s alright, sweetheart,” he told her in a calming voice. ”Everything is going to be okay. I’ll take care of you.”
”Billy, I’m scared,” she sobbed.
”I know, I know. But I’m here with you and I won’t let anything happen to you. Don’t worry.”
Silence fell for a short moment.
”Damn it! What’s taking that stupid elevator so long?” Billy cussed.
Finally the doors opened and Billy raced out of it, through the underground parking lot to his car. As soon as he had reached his car, he balanced and shifted Michiru a bit in his arms, supporting her against the car to dig his keys out of his pants’ pocket. After he had managed to open the passenger door, he carefully lowered Michiru into the soft leather seat and fastened the seatbelt. For the first time, he noticed the tears that were silently running down her cheeks. Wiping them away with tender fingers, he said, ”Don’t cry, sweetie. Everything is going to be fine.”
Michiru nodded slowly and gave him a tiny smile.
Billy stormed to the other door, jumped inside the car and raced with squealing tires out of the garage and on to the hospital.
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