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Danielle snuggled more deeply into her cardigan and walked along the empty beach. “It was my luck that Elias went to bed so early and won’t know that I crept out of the house. I’m sure he would have a fit. But, I just couldn’t help myself. I need to know everything I can find out about Greg and myself. Why am I doing it secretly though? I have this feeling that I can’t talk with anybody about it... totally crazy.”

She was still pondering and brooding as she recognized the Corvette in the glow of a lantern. Danielle took a deep breath, walked over and got into the car.

Alexander wanted to give her a kiss in greeting, but she retreated.

“Please don’t,” she pleaded, her hands coming up, instinctively trying to protect herself from further advances.

“Okay, okay. No worries,” he said. “It’s nice that you came,” he added, grinning.

Danielle nodded, bashfully. “I want to know more about you and me.”

Alex waggled his eyebrows and smirked. “Oh baby, you just wait till the night is over. By then you will know everything there is to know,” he promised. “Now, I will show you this very romantic place were we spent many wonderful times... “ With that he stepped on the gas and the car sped away.


Michiru clapped her hands, the sign for Taylor to start with the exercises. They had changed clothes. Taylor was wearing a green satin suit with a tiger head stitched on the back and her coach wore an ivory-colored suit without any adornments. The hall they were in was big and high. The walls and ceiling were covered with mirrors and soft, red carpets lay on the floor.

A bit away from Michiru and her protegée, Sam stood and looked around, turning and spinnning to see how often her body was reflected by the many different mirrors.

Moving a bit closer to Taylor, Michiru softly whispered, “Samantha is a child completely untouched by civilization, right?”

“She was. But now, our world is her home too and it will probably change her.”

The coach nodded. “In that point you are right. Inwardly though, she will always be a pure, innocent soul. I can feel it.”

Taylor raised an eyebrow. “Hopefully.”

“Would you please excuse me for a moment? I’d like to show Samantha the ‘bungee-ballet’.”

“Sure,” the teenager responded, a bit astonished. “I’ll go to the other room and try some of those neat machines.”

“Don’t forget to warm up first, okay?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” With mixed feelings Taylor left the room. The situation was very weird but she trusted her coach to not do anything to hurt Sam.

Michiru walked over to Sam, took her hand and brought her over to the ‘bungee-ballet’. Samantha wasn’t scared at all of the nice woman. She didn’t protest as Michiru strapped them both between the poles with help of the bungee ropes.

Using just little force, they both lifted off the ground, floating in the air like fairies.

Sam closed her eyes. The feeling of flying, careless and free, grew stronger with each passing moment. In her mind she saw herself and Shakira as they were racing through the deep, green jungle. It seemed so real for a second. She felt that if she would just reach out then her fingers would touch once more the soft fur of the big cat.

After sometime of complete weightlessness, they came down and their feet touched the ground.

While Michiru was busy loosening the ropes from their belts, Taylor returned. She saw how Sam happily hugged her coach and whispered, "Friend.” It was so silent in the room that the girl could hear the word very clearly. This was the first time that Sam ever had spoken to somebody else than Liz.


Alexander turned the key and cut off the car’s engine.

“Where are we here?” Danielle asked.

“Don’t you remember? Here, up in the mountains, this is our personal ‘kiss hill’,” he explained, calmly.

Her eyes widened and there was a trace of fear.

“Don’t worry,” he told her gently. “I’m not going to force myself on you or push you to anything you are not ready for.”

“Okay.” Danielle stepped out of the car and looked at the brightly lit hills, while Alex spread out a blanket on the ground and opened a bottle of champagne. From the corner of his eye he glanced at her briefly and saw that she was completely enraptured by the sight. Quickly, one of his hands slipped in his pocket and brought out a little bag with a white powder.

She was still looking at the lights so she didn’t notice how he put that into her glass.

‘So, my dear. That stuff should help to remind you of the hot nights we had together but still it will hold your true memories at bay,’ he thought to himself and grinned, inwardly. Alex gave a glass to Danielle and they cheered. “Just a glass to relax a bit and then you can ask me all you want. Is that a deal?”

She nodded and without suspicion she emptied the glass.

‘Let’s see how many questions you can ask me before this takes effect.’

It didn’t take long for the blonde’s legs to start wobbling. “This is weird... I’m suddenly feeling so light...” Confused, she started to laugh. “Wooooohoooo... I can fly!” She dove into Alexander’s arms, who had no problem catching her. “Everything is so colorful and great... YES! EVERYTHING IS JUST GREAT! Oh, and I want you!” she purred the last few words passionately into his ear.

“You can have me completely,” he groaned back, fumbling with her clothes. He opened her cardigan and then the blouse she wore underneath.

Danielle grabbed him and dragged him down to the blanket. A bit clumsy, she began to take off his clothes. “Mmmh... I want more,” she moaned. “More of you... and more to drink...”

“You can always have that from me,” Alex promised, his excitement steadily growing. “Now enough talking. Action speak louder than words. And I have lots of things to show you.”

“Oh yes! Take me... take me...”

***** THE NEXT DAY *****

The past night Liz had not been able to sleep well, so she was already up and about while Sam was still happily walking in the land of dreams.

Being a creature of routines, the first thing she did was go into the kitchen, make herself some coffee and read the newspaper.

After a while, Christopher joined her. He took a cup of coffee and sat down opposite her. Unsure of how to start the conversation he so desperately needed to have with her, he sipped from his cup and began to drum on the table with his free hand.

About five minutes later, Liz just couldn’t take it anymore. Nerve-wracked, she set the newspaper aside and glared at her brother. “You are driving me crazy, Chris! What is it?”

“Uh... nothing... nothing...” he replied, wanting to appear completely indifferent.

Liz grinned. “Yeah right. Go on, ask me.”

He sighed. “How do you know that something is up?” She cocked her head and he sighed again. “Alright... I think I got it. It’s the female intuition, correct?”

“Ding, ding, ding, a million dollar for the candidate. And now, tell me what’s on your mind.”

Chris rubbed his unshaved chin, trying to think of the right words. “Alright, now what would be the best way to start? Uh... mh...”

“I’m tired of listening to you making weird noises. Just spit it out, okay?” she told him, impatiently.

He took a deep breath and finally blurted, “Liz, please, help me to get Karen back.”

The business woman looked at him with an unreadable expression. She rose and poured herself another coffee. Once she was sitting down again, she picked up the newspaper, hiding behind it. “There is no way I’m getting mixed up in that,” she declared.

“Please, please, you have to help me,” Chris begged. It was tugging at her heart. “I tried everything, Liz. Really everything. She doesn’t want to listen to me.”

“I know.”

“So, what’s your opinion? What should I do?” He was getting desperate.

Liz relented and sighed. “You cannot push Karen.”

Chris reached over and ripped the newspaper from her hands. “I just can’t sit here and twirl my thumbs. What if she is already going on dates with another man?”

“You should have thought about that before you made your hasty wedding plans.” That comment had hurt him and Liz felt sorry immediately. “Look, Chris. Karen loves you. But, you need to give her some time so that her wounds can heal. You really hurt her very bad.”

“Do you really think that?” he asked in disbelief. “I mean that she loves me? I know, I was acting like the greatest fool on earth...”

She crossed her arms. “Now that is something I won’t argue about at all.”

“Thanks, dear sister of mine,” he replied, grinding his teeth.

Liz patted his hand. “You know, if Karen wouldn’t want to have anything to do with you, do you think she would buy a house that is not far away from us?”

“You are right,” he replied, feeling that his spirit had been lifted. “Our love will stay and eventually Karen will realize that too.”


Catherine came down the stairs and turned to the butler. “Isaac? Has the mail been already delivered?”

“Yes.” He gave her an envelope he had just taken out of the mail box. “There is a letter for you, Mrs. Parker.”

“Thank you, Isaac. That’s all for the moment,” she told him and went to her study. Looking at the white envelope from all angles, she was a bit puzzled. “Hmm... no sender... no stamp... just ‘To Catherine Parker’ as address. Strange. I guess this means that whoever wrote this delivered the letter in person.” Catherine sat down and opened the envelope. She took out the single sheet of paper and unfolded it. The head of the Parker family froze as she saw it had been made of words, which had been cut out from magazines. Reading what it said, her breathing stopped.

In the shocked state she found herself in, she also didn’t notice that she was being observed through one of the big windows. Norman stood there, camouflaged by a huge palm tree pot. He was happy about Catherine’s reaction. ’Yeah, you bitch. Finally I’m getting back at you for everything you did to me then. Because of you I lost everything and became a homeless beggar, living life in poverty... always on the run from cops while you were living in wealth. Now, it’s time for me to get a piece of the cake of luck, or else you can say goodbye to your family and abundance.’ Quietly and careful to not be detected, he left the Parker property.

Meanwhile, Catherine had gotten over the first shock. “This is a nightmare,” she whispered to herself and placed a hand over her pounding heart. “Who... how... somebody is trying to blackmail me. But who could know all this from so long ago... about Kayla... and the baby? It says here they will contact me again to tell me what exactly they want. There only can be one person, but I thought he would have died a long time ago? What does he want? What evidence does he have to use against me? Both are dead. They died.” She rose and walked to the window, looking out at the garden. “Norman Kent,” she muttered.

“Norman Kent?” Alexander, who had just entered the room without knocking, asked.

Catherine jerked and whirled around.

“Who is that?”

Forcing a smile to her face she answered, “Nobody, my son. Just forget the name.”

Alex shrugged his shoulders. “Fine. I wanted to tell you that Lizzy will come over today. We want to talk about our wedding. I’m going to call her to make sure that she really will be coming over.”

“Good, good,” she said. Her face fell as soon as Alex had left. Her mind turned back to Norman Kent.


Christopher came back into the kitchen. “I don’t know where Norman is, but it looks as if a bomb exploded in the pool house. Everywhere is cut up paper from magazines and newspapers. No trace of him though.”

“We will make breakfast ourselves then,” Liz replied.

Taylor, who had come down earlier, yawned and closed the refrigerator. “We are out of orange juice and there is no toast left either.”

Chris just took his car keys. “I’ll drive to the grocery store to get everything. I’ll be back soon.”

“I don’t think I can eat something. My tummy has been in an uproar all night and it’s still rumbling,” Taylor said, placing a hand over her stomach.

Liz scowled. “Are you trying to tell me something about my wonderfully cooked dinner?”

“No, no. Why do you think that? Just because it was burnt and looked like coal...”

“Hey! It was well-done!”

Not wanting to fight with her sister about her none-existing cooking skills, the teenager quickly changed the subject. “Where is Sam?”

“She’s still sleeping.”

“Really? Usually she is the first awake.”

Liz shrugged her shoulders. “Sam was so exhausted after your training session that she fell asleep immediately. This has to be the first night that she really slept through since we are back.”

“That’s cool. Well, and we did have lots of fun yesterday too. You should have been there.”

“Sure,” the blonde mumbled, quietly.

“When we were with Michiru yesterday it was the first time that Sam spoke. Even though Sam knows me longer, she talked to her. She really seems to like Michiru.”

Liz was stunned. “She spoke while other people were present and you just tell me that matter-of-factly?”

The teenager raised her hands. “Sorry, I didn’t know it was that important to you.”

Yawning and looking completely disheveled, Sam entered the kitchen.

Taylor took that as her cue to leave. “I gotta go and get dressed.”

“Good morning, Liz,” Sam croaked and hugged the blonde like she did every morning. “I would like to go with Taylor to Michiru again. Will you allow me to do that?”

Liz blinked in surprise. “Allow? Sam, you are a free person and you can do whatever you want. Please, go to Michiru if you like it so much.” It came out harsher than she had intended. The thought that suddenly Sam liked to spend time with other people instead of her had hurt her feelings.

While Samantha was still pondering the blonde’s words, the telephone rang.

Liz squeezed past her. “Excuse me.” She picked up the receiver. “Hello?... Oh, good morning, Alex. How nice of you to call me.” Looking over to Sam, she saw that the brunette was frowning. “Of course I will come over... I know you are sorry... yes, we will talk about everything... you want to spend the whole day with me? Just the two of us?”

Sam’s frown deepened.

“You want to change... I know that you love me... yes, till soon.” Liz hung up and announced, “I’ll go to the Parkers now.” She was nearly out of the door when she called back sarcastically, “I wish you two a wonderful day with Michiru!”


Sara woke up as something rough and wet licked across her face. Her cat meowed so loud, it tore at her heart. She patted him with closed eyes. “Are you hungry, my sweet?”

“Well, if you are asking me... yes,” somebody next to her answered.

Sara’s eyes flew open and she sat up quickly. “JACK?!”

The man in question rose and looked at her, smiling. “Good morning.”

“Yesterday... we did...” she began, suspiciously.

“...only talk,” he finished her sentence and calmed her down.

Sara nodded. “Yes, I remember. It was good.”

“For me too,” Jack said, his smile growing brighter. “I really am hungry though.” He leaned over, about to give her a little kiss, but the tomcat squeezed between them, hissing furiously.

She reached up and tenderly rubbed Tugger between his ears. “I guess he is telling you that you are not the only one who’s hungry.”

Skeptically, Jack glanced at the cat and said, “I think he’s jealous.”

“Nonsense. Would you order breakfast while I have a shower?”

“Oh yeah,” came his playful remark. “I sure would like a shower now too.”

Sara smirked. “I can imagine that. But, it’s my turn first, you can have yours after me.”

Jack sighed and picked up the phone.

As Sara returned from the bathroom the food had already been brought up to the room.

“Will you wait for me until I’m back?” he asked on his way to the shower.

“I will think about it,” she called after him.

After Jack was out of her sight, she remembered something very important. “Dad! I really have to call him.” With sweaty hands she dialed the number to Australia and waited for her father’s voice. Her heart was pounding out of control by now.

Matthew picked up immediately after the first ring. “Hello?”

“Daddy?” she asked, hesitatingly.

“My little one! Are you okay?”

She relaxed a bit because he didn’t sound too bad and most of all not that mad. “Yes, I’m fine Daddy. Also, I’m very sorry that I left in such a hurry, but you were suffocating me with your care. I got a job here and for a while I will stay in Paris,” she explained.

Matthew tried to stay cool and calm but another thing was weighing heavily on him, so he asked, “How is Richard? Is he with you?”

Sara wrinkled her forehead. “Why? We parted ways at the airport in Sydney. Since then I have not heard from him.”

“Are you really telling me the truth?” He had to make sure.

“Of course. What else could he do after you fired him without reason!”

“I had a very good reason!” Matthew retorted.

“It’s not true. Richard told me everything and you are completely wrong with your wild speculations. Richard was my best friend, there was never anything else between us. You drove us away with your damn stubbornness! Bye Daddy, I will talk to you soon. Give my greetings to Rose.” Her emotions in an uproar, she hung up before her father could say anything.

When Jack came back from his shower, he found her sitting somewhat dejectedly on the bed. He tried to cheer her up. “What do we want to do today?”

“I would like to see the castle of Versailles and the Louvre.”

“Okay. Everything the lady wants she will get,” he promised.

“So? Everything, huh?” Sara looked at him seductively and slid a blue grape into his mouth.


Christopher stepped out of the small super market, carrying a full bag. Looking up, he recognized Karen, who stood on the other side of the road. He was just about to run over to her as he noticed the man that was with her. “What the hell...”

Karen sat down with Richard below a huge umbrella of the small café and they ordered a big breakfast.

Christopher felt as if a dagger had been plunged into his heart and mumbled, “She’s got a new one? She already has somebody new? I didn’t think that Karen would console herself that quickly. It seems as if I really don’t have any chance. Completely and utterly over.” Dejected, he climbed into his car and drove home.

“Really, it’s not necessary...” Richard began.

Karen interrupted him. “I wanted to invite you to breakfast because you spent time with me yesterday and I enjoyed that very much. You really are a fantastic rider that really astonished me.”

Richard turned slightly red. “I don’t deserve all that praise.”

“Yes, you do. I have not had fun like yesterday in a long time. Besides, our conversation was very good for me and I really do need a good friend right now.”

He looked at her and promised, “Karen, I’m always going to be here for you.”

“Hey, would you like to come by my house later? I think I’m going to buy it.”

“Congratulations, house owner.” Richard shook her hand playfully and grinned. “I will help you with interior works and reconstruction. I am a natural talent at that.”

Karen placed a hand over her heart, pretending to swoon, “A man with craftsman skills? Ooooh, I think I’m going to die.”

“Please don’t. It would be a great loss to lose a fantastic woman like you.”


At the Louvre in Paris, Sara was standing in front of a huge statue, carved of white marble, and admired it.

Jack wrapped his arms around her from behind and said in an envious voice, “Why are you staring so hard at this naked guy?”

“That’s Herakles, you lowbrow,” she explained smiling and leaned her head against his chest, looking up into his eyes. “In our parts he is better known as Hercules.”

“Ah. The son of Zeus and a mortal woman.”

“That’s right. You remind me of him.”

Jack raised an eyebrow, looked back at the statue and his gaze stopped at a certain part. “Ah, now I can see why,” he exclaimed, convinced.

Sara punched him none too gently in the side. “Don’t be so vain. Men.”

Holding hands they went on through the exhibition rooms.

“No, the reason you remind me of him is because he was a hero. Probably very patient, loving, generous... just like you,” she continued their talk.

Jack stopped. “But without a sweet woman at his side also his heroic deeds wouldn’t have been possible.”

They looked at each other and shared a quick kiss.

“What do you want to do now?” he inquired

“I would like going for a walk in the 'Jardin des Tuileries'.”

Jack wrapped an arm around her shoulders while she wrapped one around his waist. Holding on tightly to each other, they left the Louvre and relished the warm sun of August.


“TA DA! Uncle William is here! I came in through the backdoor,” William shouted in greeting and dropped his bag on the floor.

Taylor beamed and hugged him, while Sam retreated a bit because his loud greeting had scared her. “Where is my present?” the teenager asked and grinned.

Will patted her head and announced, “Well, there is this bottle of the best Scottish whiskey somewhere in my bag.”

“Ha ha, very funny,” she pouted.

Her Uncle laughed. “How about you introduce your pretty friend to me first?” he asked and nodded his head in the brunette’s direction.

“Yeah. That’s Samantha from the jungle. She’s the one who helped Liz to survive there.”

William opened his arms wide. “Come here then, Sam. Let me give you a big hug too.”

The new arrival felt a bit uncanny to her. Instead of going to him, Sam fled upstairs to hide in Liz’ room.

Puzzled, William looked at his niece. “What did I do?” He sniffed his arm pits. “Am I smelling bad? I’m sorry but it was a long flight...”

“No, no, Uncle Will. You are fine. Just give her a little bit of time. It’s still hard for her to meet strangers, especially men.”

“Okay.” Searchingly, he glanced around.

Taylor saw what he was doing and told him, “Besides us there is nobody home. Chris should be back anytime soon though.”

He looked at her in disbelief. “What? They are still living here?”

“What do you mean, ‘they’ are still living here?” she asked, drawing her brows together.

“I’m talking about Chris and Sara. As a married couple shouldn’t they be living in their own house? Okay, I can try and make my peace with Sara. I still think their wedding was wrong, but what else can I do, right?”

“What? You still don’t know?” Taylor was surprised. “Well, I guess I’ll be the one to tell you then.”

He cocked his head. “Tell me what?”

“Chris left Sara standing in the chapel...”


“... because he realized that the only one he truly loves is Karen.”

William shook his head, sadly. “That boy... he always has to learn the hard way, huh?”

“I’M HOME!” Christopher called from the entrance door and walked into the kitchen. “We can have breakfast now. I will skip it though, because I lost my appetite.”

William and Taylor marched into the kitchen and Will declared, “More for me then. That long flight really made me hungry and the stuff they served at the plane was horrible!”

Chris snorted and hugged his Uncle in greeting.


Light summer wind was blowing gently through the branches of the trees, playing with the leaves. Sara and Jack lay in the grass, in the shade of a very big tree. He stroked her slightly heated cheeks. “It can stay like this forever,” he said.

“What? Being lazy all day?”

Jack sighed contently. “I’m meeting this partner of the Parkers day after tomorrow for the first time. Until then I’ve got plenty of time and I want to spend every second of it with you.”

Sara sat up, turned and lay down half way on top of him. His words had touched her deeply. “That was the sweetest thing anybody ever said to me.”

“Yes, that’s how I am,“ he grinned.

“Really? My memories are a bit different than yours then... let’s see... chocolate with raisins... aggravating me with stupid sayings... and...”

He interrupted her quickly with a passionate kiss.

Playfully, she held him back from her body. “Hey, hey, hey. Are you trying to make me shut up? I really can’t stand something like that.”

Jack pulled her back down and whispered, “No, that’s not it. I just like kissing you.”

“Oh, if that’s it, my heart,” she replied relieved. “I don’t want to disappoint you then.”

“I was expecting nothing else from you.” Jack leaned back, only to jump up in the next second, his face contorted in pain. “Ow!” he touched his back. “I think there was a rock.”

Sara checked, but couldn’t find anything in the grass. “There is nothing.” She reached over and pressed on the place that Jack was carefully rubbing on his back. “Ouch! Are you trying to kill me?”

Sara grinned. “It’s just a muscle cramp.” She wrapped her arms around him from behind and whispered into his ear. “I guess your age is making itself known.”

Jack grabbed her and wrestled the giggling woman to the ground. “Are you implying that I’m a hot grandpa?”

“Just turn over and lay on your belly so that I can massage your tired, cramped up muscles.”

“Oooooh. I like the sound of that... and it lets me forget that I am sooooooo old.”

Thinking that the little joke had hurt his feelings, she apologized. “I’m sorry, my heart. I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I know, don’t worry.”


Once more, Elias glanced at his watch and wrinkled his forehead. “Mhh. It’s nearly noon and Dani still isn’t awake yet. Normally she gets up early in the morning. Maybe I should check if she is okay.” He walked to her room and knocked carefully at her door. “Danielle? Danielle are you alright?”

Nothing stirred inside the room.

He became concerned and decided to enter. First thing, he marched up to the window and opened the heavy curtains to let some sunlight into the room. After that, Elias turned around and his eyes fell on the bed where Danielle was sleeping. It puzzled him that she wasn’t wearing pajamas but jeans, a blouse and a cardigan. Also, she had her shoes still on. “That’s weird,” he commented quietly. “Did she go out yesterday evening?”

He grabbed her shoulder and shook her gently. “Danielle, Danielle, time to get up.”

She grumbled and turned away from him.

“Hey, come on. Get up.”

“Only five more minutes, Daddy, please,” she mumbled so bad that he had a hard time to make out the words.

Elias laughed in amusement. “Daddy is not here. Only the good, old Dr. Lunaris.”

Danielle opened her brown eyes a tiny crack. “How late is it?”

“Close to 12:00.”

She lifted up a little bit, but as she grew dizzy, she lowered her body back down to the pillows. “I’m not feeling so good,” she groaned. “My skull is hammering, everything is spinning.”

“Would you like to eat something?” he asked, innocently.

Abruptly, Danielle jumped out of bed and stumbled in direction of the bathroom. “No, I think it’s the opposite,” she called back over her shoulder before hugging the toilet. After she had thrown up, she washed her face and rinsed her mouth.

She looked into the mirror. A pale face with blood-shot eyes stared back at her. “My God, what is that?” There was a huge hickey gleaming on the side of her throat. “I hope Elias didn’t see that.”

Thinking back to the wild night she had spent with Greg a satisfied smile appeared on her features. “Oh Greg, you little vampire. I really need to see you again soon.”


Alexander was busy making his room presentable for his upcoming date with Liz. He was about to bring some dirty clothes downstairs for washing, when his eyes fell on a black lace bra. “Look at that. What do we have here?” he said, grinning widely. “A little souvenir from Dani. I must have put that in my pocket accidently. Whooo, what a great night that was! So wild and fiery and full of incredible passion. I wish my fiancée would want me like that. But, I think it’s only a matter of time until she will finally relent to my charms and let me take her.”

He brought the clothes downstairs and put a bottle of champagne in the cooler, which he took with him to the room. Scanning the surroundings once more, he nodded in satisfaction. “Perfect. Now, she only has to show up.”

The doorbell rang.

Alex stormed down the stairs and flung the entrance door wide open. “Babe! Come in!” He hugged her and wanted to kiss her in greeting, but Liz turned her head to the side so that his lips met her cheek instead of her mouth.

“Alex, we have to talk.”

“Yes, I know, babe. We have to set the date for our wedding. Why don’t we go upstairs, have a little bite to eat and talk about everything.”

“No, thanks. I’m not hungry,” she responded.

“Alright. Then let’s go to the living room. Mom gave me some pamphlets and brochures for catering services and places where we can have the wedding ceremony. We look at them and then decide what we like best.”

Liz couldn’t take it anymore, so she blurted, “Alex, there won’t be a wedding.”

“What?” He looked at her completely shocked. “Could you please repeat that? I don’t think I heard you correctly.”

She exhaled sharply. “I’m here to end our engagement and give you back your ring.”

Alex was flabbergasted. He hadn’t been expecting something like this at all. “But... what... how... why? Is it because of yesterday? I told you I’m sorry for that. I apologized!”

Liz shook her head. “It’s not only because of yesterday. I am just not ready to marry you.”

He ran a hand through his short, black hair. “Fine. We can wait a little longer. I love you and I only want to be with you. You can’t do that to me, Liz. You can’t leave me!” Using a different tactic, he looked at her pleadingly. “Do you know what I’ve gone through while you were lost? Do you know how scared I was that I would never get to see you again? I thought I would never get to hold you in my arms again. Or to hear your sweet voice. And now that I finally got you back, you tell me that everything is over between us? No, I can’t accept that!”

Doubts about her decision started to rise in Liz as she looked into his tear-filled eyes.

“Don’t do it, Liz. Please, don’t do that to me. I love you!”

She sighed. “I need more time. You always push me so much!”

“I’m sorry. I won’t do that anymore, I promise. You will get all the time in the world to think about everything, okay?” he told her.

“I have to go to work.”

“Alright. Call me if you need anything.”

“Okay. Bye.”

Wanting to be charming, he kissed the back of her hand. “Until soon, sweetheart.”

After Liz had left, Alex slammed his fist against the living room table. “FUCKING SHIT!!!” he roared, angry. “Who the fuck does she think she is? I can’t believe it! I should have left her in that fucking jungle! I wouldn’t have so many problems then!”

His cell phone rang.

Irritated, he answered it. “What is it?!” As he heard who was on the other end, his voice suddenly became very gentle. “Oh, hello Dani, my darling,” he crooned. “Really?...Yes... This evening?... Okay... yes, I’ll be looking forward to it too... Until then, my sweet.”

Alex hung up. “What do you know. I guess this is a good day after all,” he muttered and a devilish grin spread over his face.


Christopher was trying very hard to concentrate on the chess game that his uncle had forced upon him, but it was in vain. The whole time he had to think about Karen and her new ‘lover’.

William noticed that his nephew’s mind was elsewhere, because he made mistakes during the game that even a beginner wouldn’t make. “And once again, check mate.”

Christopher shrugged his shoulders. “Oh well. You are too good for me, Uncle Will.”

“If your concentration hadn’t been so bad then you would have played better. What’s wrong with you? What are you thinking about so hard?” he wanted to know.

The artist sighed. “Karen. It’s really over. I’ve lost her for good.”

“Because of the thing with Sara?” William shook his head. “Nah, you’ll see, it will work out.”

“No, Uncle. Not this time. She has somebody new,” Chris said, crestfallen.

“How do you know that?” The older man cocked his head and wrinkled his forehead.

“Because I saw her,” Chris admitted, grumpy. “I saw her with that guy!”

William’s eyebrows rose. “Oh... Maybe it’s not like that. Are you sure it wasn’t a member of her family or a friend?”

“I am absolutely sure,” Chris confirmed, rubbing his right temple. “The woman of my dreams that I love so very much has another one. She won’t spare me one glance. I was such an idiot!”

“You are right about that.”

“I just don’t know what to do. I’ve tried everything.”

William drummed his index and middle finger of his left hand against his chin. “Mhhh. I’d say you need some distraction so that you can think more clearly later.”

“What do you have in mind?”

He thought about it for a moment and then declared with a big grin, “Disneyland!”

Christopher looked at him dumbfounded. “Disneyland?”

“Yeah. Let’s make it a trip with the whole family! I’m sure it’ll be lots of fun.”

“Yes, why not. Riding roller coasters, watching cool shows and parades. Sure, count me in!”


Hand in hand, Sara and Jack were standing in front of the cathedral Notre Dame.

“Wow,” was the first thing that came to Sara’s mind and she said it out loud.

“Yes. That thingie is real big and impressive. So, this is the home of the hunchbacked Quakidodo and his beloved Esperanza.”

Sara laughed.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“You are.”

“Why? What did I say?”

“You messed up the names completely,” she explained, still giggling.


“Yes. The hunchback’s name was Quasimodo and not Quakidodo. Also, the gypsy girl, he was in love with, was called Esmeralda.”

“I knew that,” Jack claimed. “I was just testing you to see if you know it too.”

“Yeah right,” she snorted. “Okay, I got an question for you now.”


“Who was Esperanza?”

That question caught him off guard. “Uh... well... huh... uhm... There really was an Esperanza?”

Sara nodded, fighting hard to keep from grinning.

“I have no idea.”

“Esperanza is the horse of Zorro.”

He cocked his head, looking at her hard to see if she was joking. “Really?”

“Yes. If you don’t believe me I will gladly lend you the book so that you can read it.”

“That’s not necessary, sweetheart. I believe you.”

She waggled her eyebrows. “So... did I pass your test?”

“Oh yeah,“ he confirmed. “Do you want to know something else?”


Jack leaned down to whisper into her ear, “Intelligent women make me very hot.” He pressed a tender kiss right behind her ear, making her shiver in pleasure.

“Oh, Jack. You are so incredibly sweet.”

He laughed devilish and purred, “Just wait till we are back in the hotel room.”

“Alright, let’s visit this awesome building and check it out from the inside. After that, I could eat something.”

Jack’s grin widened and one eyebrow rose, indicating what he had in mind for that.

“Not that what you are thinking,” Sara said, laughing. “Is there anything else on your mind once in a while?”

He raised his hands in defense. “Hey, is it my fault that you are so unbelievable attractive?”

“Come here, you charmer.” She pulled him into her arms and they sank into a tender kiss.


When Liz came home, William dished out dinner. “Hello everyone,” she called out. “Wow. Something smells nice in here.”

“Liz!” Her uncle wrapped her up in a big bear hug. “It’s so good having you back.”

“It is good to see you again too,” she replied, smiling.

“Sit down. Dinner is ready.”

Samantha and Taylor came out of the living room to join them in the kitchen. “Hi Liz.”

“Hi sweetie. Sam.”

Taylor was so excited she was slightly bouncing on her feet. “Hey, do you want to know something absolutely cool?”


“Tomorrow we will go to Disneyland!”

“Who is ‘we’?” Liz wanted to know.

“All of us,” the teenager exclaimed happily. “You, Sam, Uncle Will, Chris and I.”

“A family trip?”

Christopher entered the kitchen now too. “Yes! Ain’t that great? Roller coasters, stunt shows, fireworks, fast food...”

“Okay, okay.” Liz chuckled. “You don’t need to convince me, I already am. I really like the idea.”

“I already checked the route we will take,” Chris announced. “We will leave here early in the morning. We will return the day after tomorrow in the afternoon, so that Uncle Will won’t miss his flight.”

Liz nodded, but then another thought came to her. “What are we going to do with Tasilo? We can’t leave him alone for that long and who knows if Norman won’t forget about him the way he is so wrapped up in himself lately.”

“I already asked Karen,” Taylor chimed in. “She said we can drop him off tomorrow morning.”

Chris was surprised. “You asked Karen?”

“Do you honestly think I would give my precious doggie to a person I don’t know?”

“And she said yes?”


Christopher frowned. “But she won’t have time, now that she has a new lover.”

“That’s nonsense,” Liz responded immediately. “Karen doesn’t have a new lover.”

“She does!” he insisted fiercely. “I saw them together this morning.”

“Who knows what you saw.”

“Of course, I know what I saw!” he continued to argue.

“Chris, believe me. If she would have one, she would have told me.”

“How do you know that?”

William interrupted them. “Stop fighting now and start eating before it gets cold.”

“Before I forget, I wanted to tell you something” Taylor began after everybody else had shut up. “Ms. Kasawaki offered to go with me to Beijing for a few weeks.”

Liz looked up from her plate. “Beijing? What do you want in China?”

“Well, I could get trained at the best figure skating school.”

“Interesting,” the blonde remarked. “And? Would you like to do that?”

Taylor nodded. “That would be a great chance. I won’t get an offer like that again.”

Liz played with her food. “I don’t know. China is a long way from here and I don’t know Ms. Kasawaki that well...”

“Awww, come on Liz. Please, please, say yes.”

Everybody was grinning as Taylor looked at her sister with big puppy dog eyes and added a drawn out, “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase.”

The business woman sighed and relented. “Alright, alright. But, there is one condition.”

“Whatever you want, dear sister.”

“You are going to call EVERY day.”

Taylor’s mouth fell open. “What? Tsk, Liz...”

Liz pointed her finger at the teenager and looked at her, seriously. “That’s the condition. There will be no discussion about it.”

“Do you have any idea how expensive that will be?” Taylor tried to change her sister’s mind.

“I said there is no further discussion.”

Taylor rolled her eyes. “Okay,” she gave in and pouted a bit, even though she knew it wouldn’t help.

“When will you leave?”

“The week after the next.”

“And tell Ms. Kasawaki she better take very good care of you or else the whole Stuart clan will hunt her down.”

Taylor grinned. “I’ll be sure to tell her that.”

“Hey sweetie. How was the training session today?” Chris inquired. “I found that you and Sam were gone for a long time.”

While Taylor was telling in great detail what happened during training, a weird feeling spread out inside Liz. She looked at Sam, whose eyes were practically sparkling as Taylor spoke of Michiru. Liz couldn’t take it anymore. She rose, got herself a glass of water and a pill against the headache that had been bothering her a while. “Would you please excuse me? I’m going to bed. I have this killer headache and tomorrow we have a big, fun-filled day.” One last time she looked at Sam, who glanced back, questioningly. Liz went upstairs to her room.

“I bet it’s because of that asshole, Alexander,” Taylor speculated, glad that Liz was gone or else the nasty word she had used would have earned her an evil glare.

Her uncle didn’t like the word either. “Taylor!”

“But it’s the truth!” the girl defended her choice of words and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Hey, Uncle Will. You still didn’t give me my present.”

He left the kitchen and returned with a Playstation game.

“Oh cool! A new fantasy game. I will try that right away.” Taylor disappeared to the living room and a moment later the sounds of swords clashing could be heard.

William and Chris cleaned up in the kitchen, while Sam was staring longingly at the stairs. ‘Liz is sad,’ she thought to herself. “I don’t understand why? Did Alexander behave nasty towards her like yesterday at the beach?’





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