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There were only a few minutes left until midnight, as the big, black limousine rolled across the harbor site and came to a stop in front of an old, open warehouse. The lights were cut off and the driver's door opened. Catherine stepped out, her face bearing a dark expression as she scanned her surroundings, searching.
Taking slow steps, she walked into the building and came to stand in the middle of it.
The pale moon was shining through the broken window glass.
“NORMAN?” she called out, her scream echoing from the cold metal walls of the hall.
Norman's answer came from a dark corner. “Where is my money?”
Catherine turned into the direction the voice had come from and responded, challenging, “I fulfilled my part of the deal. Now it's on you to give me what I want.”
“First, I want my money!” Norman continued to argue from his hideout.
“It's in the trunk of my car,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“Get it! I want to see it!”
Catherine raised her hands in a calming motion. She still couldn't see him, and as long as she didn't know exactly where he was, she had no choice but to obey. “Okay, okay. I will go and get the briefcase for you.” She was sure that his gaze followed her every move.
Returning with said case, she put it on the floor in the middle of the hall and opened it. It contained a few million US dollar, the bills bound together in several bundles.
Norman came out of the shadows.
Catherine closed the case and reached out her hand towards him. “The medallion, Norman!” she spat, harshly. “I want it!”
Feeling victorious as he saw the money, Norman grinned in satisfaction. “Push the case over to me and you can have it,” he replied confidently, using the same arrogance in his tone like Catherine did.
Using her foot, the red-haired woman shoved the case closer to him and noticed how his hand went into the pocket of his pants. She looked up and her hateful glare met his eyes. Then she started to sneer and called out, “The game is over, Norman!”
Samantha and Liz had eaten their ice cream and now they were on their way back to the car. Liz shivered a bit. “Ooh, it does get a bit chilly already at night.”
With regret, Sam responded, “I don't have anything I could give you to warm you up.”
‘If only you knew, Sam.' Inside, Liz jerked over her own thought and quickly pushed it as far away as she could.
“Oh, now I know what I can do,” the brunette announced a moment later, beaming happily at the other woman. She stepped behind Liz, who immediately could feel her wonderfully shaped body, and she felt pleasant tingles ran through her own.
But that was only part of Sam's plan. She reached for Liz's arms and entwined their fingers, pressing her front tightly against the blonde's back. “Now you cannot freeze anymore,” Sam declared, grinning from one ear to the other.
Liz stammered, “Yes, you are right.”
“And like that we can go to your car.”
Liz swallowed hard, feeling hot and cold as she felt the other woman's body so tightly against her own and she loved it. That's why she let Sam do whatever she wanted. Pleasantly touched, she leaned back into Sam's nice smelling, warm, soft body and closed her eyes, trusting that Sam would guide her back to the car.
The brunette noticed that she seemed to like it and so she tightened the unusual embrace a bit more.
There was a mixture of surprise and disbelief on Norman's features as he heard the words that came out of Catherine's mouth. “What... how...”
A shot rang out and hit him unexpectedly in the back of his head. He staggered and fell to his knees in front of Catherine, who sneered at him. “Well, I guess I beat you and won our little game after all.”
Norman spit out the blood that had collected in his mouth. Taking his last few breaths, he groaned, “I knew you would betray me, but...” He fell on his side and croaked, “But Kayla's legacy will have vengeance and take you down...” More blood dripped from his lips and around his head there was a pool of the dark red fluid forming. He died, his face contorted in a strange grin, because he knew that she had no idea what he was talking about.
“PAH!” Catherine snarled. “Finally all this is over.”
Alexander stepped from the darkness, holding a revolver. His eyes gleamed cold. “What are we going to do now with this snake?”
Disdainful, Catherine looked at the dead Norman and then turned around to go. “Leave him here. Nobody can make any connection between us and his body, but hurry to get rid of the weapon.” She climbed into the car and looked at her son. “You can keep the money, my son. I just want what's in his pocket.” Catherine demanded and drove off.
With a nasty smile Alex began to search Norman's pockets and finally found the medallion. He held it up and studied it. The silver sparkled in the moonlight. “What about this old thing is so important to Mom that she commits murder for it? Well, I will take it and then we will see... maybe I'm going to keep it for myself.” He stuffed the necklace into his jacket, took the case and strode to his hidden car.
***** THE NEXT DAY *****
It was close to noon in Paris. Dressed and his suitcases packed, Jack stood at the door, gazing sadly at Sara. “Believe me, I don't want to go, but you are leaving me no choice.” He waited, hoping for a word or a motion from her that would hold him back. It never came.
Sara was unable to take one step towards him.
Jack sighed. “I wish you would hold me back.”
She wouldn't even look at him.
“I guess that's it then. Goodbye, Sara.” He left.
Traumatized, the young woman stared for minutes at the closed door and realized that she had let this great man walk away. Still in her pajamas and with bare feet, she raced out of the room and along the corridor.
She saw the slowly closing doors of the elevator and screamed at the top of her lungs the words she never before was able to say, “I LOVE YOU, JACK!!!”
It was too late. Jack was gone and Sara fell to her knees, overwhelmed by the pain that emptiness and the loss of Jack left behind.
Karen was happily munching on a croissant and mumbled, “That really was a good idea from you to bring breakfast.”
Richard laughed. “I figured you wouldn't have much here. You can only start a hard day of work if you ate a good meal.”
“I'm sorry there is nothing more in this house aside a bed. But, I'm intending to get myself new furniture.”
Richard rapped his knuckles against the wooden floor. “I really like these beautiful wooden floors. It is a wonderful work and won't give you any splinters.”
Karen snorted. “Stay calm, Richard. It's just wood. Nothing to get excited about.”
“Ha hah. Very funny.”
She had finished her meal and wiped her greasy hands on a paper towel. “When Liz and Samantha appear here later, please, remember that today you will be surrounded by unknowing, weak women. So please, don't bombard us with so many technical terms like you did yesterday when you tiled my bathroom. I didn't understand one word of what you were saying.”
Richard raised an eyebrow. “Alright, big boss.”
Soaked with cold sweat, Sara woke in the plane. A female flight attendant came towards her, smiling. “Good evening, Ms. Jones.”
Sara rubbed her eyes tiredly. “How much longer is it going to take?”
“You slept for a long time,” the woman answered. “We will land soon in Beijing. Please, fasten your seatbelt.”
Sara nodded and looked out of the window. The colorful lights of the big city came closer and closer. ‘Just where is this going?' she thought to herself. ‘Am I going to have nightmares every night again?' It was always the same. She woke in Alexander's room and gazed into the barrel of the gun that Vicky pointed at her. And then she would jerk awake like right now. ‘And like this I shall be able to concentrate on work? The best thing will be to not sleep anymore because then I can't have nightmares.' One last time she skimmed through the documents that Monsieur Devereux had given her. ‘Oh, I'll be living in a small apartment in a building where all the athletes are living, close to the ice hall. Well, that saves me the trouble of searching for a hotel.'
“Good morning! This is going to be a wonderful day!”
Karen looked up as she heard these words and saw Liz and Samantha in the garden, both of them waving at her with matching smiles on their faces. Holding on to the sleeve of his shirt, she dragged Richard with her as she raced outside to greet them. “Hey cuties, already awake? I wouldn't have thought that you would show up here so early, we are still in the middle of breakfast.”
Liz shrugged her shoulders, still smiling. “Well, Dad always used to say the early bird catches the worm. So, are you going to introduce us?” she asked with a questioning gaze in the strange man's direction.
“Oh yes, sorry,” Karen responded, quickly. “This is the man, who made me laugh again. Richard Thornton.”
The blonde shook his hand politely.
Samantha kept to the background and looked at the city.
“I brought you something you might need as soon as you move in,” Liz explained and gave Karen a bag. “There are candles for romantic evenings and a big fluffy, cuddly blanket for your new couch... whenever you get it.”
“Thank you.” Karen looked at her and what she saw scared her a little bit. “Liz, you seem to be quite bouncy today. Is everything alright? Do I need to be worried?”
Liz made a declining hand motion. “Nonsense. I just took a vitamin pill.”
Not convinced in the slightest, Karen continued to look at her best friend.
Christopher was sitting in front of the TV and felt sorry for himself. One hand was stroking Tasilo's head and he muttered, pouting, “Yesterday the two of them came home so late that I was already sleeping. Today they left so early that I wasn't even awake yet. I wanted to drive them over to Karen's place. That is sooooooo unfair.” He crossed his arms and poked out his lower lip even more, not bothering at all that he was acting like a spoiled brat. “Nobody thinks of me. Now I can sit her all day with Tasilo.” Clearly offended, he took the remote and started channel surfing until he stopped at the ‘Morning News'. Shocked, he listened to the words of the show's host. “According to the police the dead man that was found this morning, was identified as Norman Kent. We also have information that about 30 years ago, he was a member of the L.A. police department himself.” A picture of the victim was shown and Christopher's eyes widened even more. “The execution, that is how a police officer put it, happened last night in an empty warehouse at the harbor site. Norman Kent was shot in the back of his head. The police says it was a well planned deed, even though the motive or who did it is still unknown. The man had nothing with him but the clothes he wore. We will give you more information as soon as the police continues with the investigation.”
Still in shock, Chris switched off the TV. “Good God. This is horrible.”
“Are you really sure that you are okay?” Karen asked again.
Liz nodded, but lowered her voice as she leaned closer to her and replied, “Please, don't say anything to Sam. Or else she will get unnecessarily worried and I don't want that. I just want her to be happy and smile the whole day.”
Karen raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Yeah, to brighten your day, right?” She winked.
Again, Liz blushed fiercely, which seemed to happen a lot lately.
Their conversation was interrupted as Richard came towards them, holding up three painting rolls. “Okay Ladies, let's do some work. I just mixed the paint for the wall that Karen chose in the shop.”
Liz glanced into the big bucket and said skeptically, “Orange?”
Karen frowned. “Of course not! This is a light ‘Toscana-Apricot' with a trace of terracotta,” she explained.
Liz snorted as she tried to keep her chuckles in. “I didn't know that mixing paint is a science. Are you sure you still want us for the painting job?”
“Stop it,” Karen replied and shoved her playfully. She took her roll and put it in the fluid paint. “Something like that you don't get to do often. I like it. Especially, since I have so many nice friends to help me.”
Vicky stormed into the dining room, where her mother and father were already sitting, having breakfast. “He will be here! He will be here! Finally, he will be here again!” she announced happily, barely able to keep from jumping up and down in her excitement.
Calmly, Catherine put down her coffee cup. “Victoria, please behave,” she reprimanded her. “I think we raised you better, didn't we?”
Victoria was offended, but she obeyed. In a normal tone, she continued, “Good morning, Mommy. Good morning, Daddy.” She kissed them both on the cheek and sat down on her chair.
Catherine was satisfied. “And now, please tell us whatever news you have in a normal expression and not quite so loud.”
“Jack Carpenter will be back soon,” she blurted right away.
“Oh. That is nice. It did take him some time.”
“How do you know that? Did he call?” Jonathan asked, astonished.
Victoria smiled. “I called at the airport... every day since he left.”
Jonathan raised both eyebrows. “Don't you think you are a little over-anxious, my precious?”
“Please, leave Vicky alone,” Catherine told him. “It is always good to make an effort if one loves a nice man.”
Vicky nodded. “Besides, he made a promise to me and I want him to fulfill it as soon as possible!”
The three women were busily painting the walls when Richard took Karen's camera and called out, ”My Ladies, if you would please turn towards me for a second? You look beautiful with your paint-sprayed clothes and faces!”
Karen put her hands on her hips and groaned. “Boy, painting sure is hard work. I didn't think that my new living room would be that big.”
Liz grinned and looked over to Samantha, who was gazing at her part of the wall in utter satisfaction. “I like painting,” she announced to the surprise of everybody present. Not only was she talking in front of others for the first time, but also while in the presence of a man. That was a sure sign that Sam was growing more and more comfortable in her new world and it made Liz happy. “But I like painting pictures much better... with more colors,” she added and walked over to the blonde, gently wiping the paint off Liz' face with a soft cloth.
“You should ask Chris,” Liz told her. “He has tons of paint and other things stored in the garage. I'm sure, he wouldn't mind sharing them with you.”
Sam beamed at her, but her smile quickly faded as she noticed something. “Liz, you are so pale. Are you feeling ill?”
“No. I'm just not used to so much physical work, that's all,” she tried to assure her but Sam didn't look very convinced.
“Come on,” Karen chimed in. “Let's get this photo session ‘3 Angels for Richard' out of the way.”
Liz chuckled in relief, having feared that Karen would nag at her again. “Okay... wait... I'll climb up on the ladder. That should look dramatic.”
After Karen and Samantha had taken their position next to the ladder, Richard took a picture. “Okay, let me take another one, just in case. So, one more time... say ‘cheeeeeeeeeeeeese'.” He looked at the small screen that was in the back of the camera and saw that Liz was wobbling on the ladder. “Liz! Be careful!” he called out suddenly.
The room had started to spin around her and she lost her grip on the ladder, sliding off it.
Sam had the presence of mind to reach for her and could catch her.
“Oh my God, Liz! Are you okay?” Karen asked, looking worried at the pale face of her friend.
Liz couldn't answer because she had lost consciousness in Samantha's arms.
Deeply concerned, Sam searched for the blonde's pulse and was very relieved as she felt it throbbing against the tips of her index and middle finger. “Liz. Liz, wake up. Liz!”
“I knew it was only a matter of time till something like that would happen.” Karen muttered. “Come on, Sam. I will drive you to the hospital.”
“I could drive,” Richard chimed in, wanting to help.
Karen shook her head. “That's very nice of you to offer, but I have everything under control. As soon as Liz wakes up, I'm going to give her a piece of my mind that she won't forget any time soon!” she announced, anger and concern waging a war inside her.
Carefully, Sam held Liz in her arms and carried her outside to Karen's car.
“Maybe the whole painting job was too strenuous for her,” Richard mentioned, scratching his head.
Again, Karen shook her head. “I don't think so. Let's wait and see what they will tell us at the hospital.”
“Okay. I will wait here. Call me as soon as there is any news.”
“Alright. Until later.” Karen grabbed her car keys and hurried to her car where Sam was still patiently waiting, holding the small blonde in her arms.
Christopher was still sitting on the couch in the living room, staring off into space, still shocked about Norman's brutal death. “What where you involved in, Norman? What did you want with Sam's medallion? What about the cut up newspapers and magazines in the pool house, the weird phone conversation, of which I caught a few pieces and the way you panicked when I confronted you? All of that has to be linked up somehow and make sense. But how? Why should somebody kill him? He was just a homeless guy that saved my life. Maybe there is more behind it than I think?”
Christopher sat there for a long time, brooding. Then he made a decision. “I need to talk with Liz.” He jumped off the couch and grabbed his car keys. “Tasilo, come here, boy.”
The German shepherd pranced around him, his tail wagging furiously in happiness.
“Are you up for a little ride?”
Tasilo barked and went up on his hind legs.
Chris laughed. “Alright, I take that as agreement.”
Danielle stepped out of her room. “Elias?” she called out.
“I'm in the living room,” the psychologist answered.
She joined him and sat down opposite him.
An uncomfortable silence fell.
He was reading in the newspaper, not paying her any attention at all.
Danielle took a deep breath. “Uh... can we talk?”
Fumbling nervously with her fingers, she replied, “About what happened yesterday.”
He folded the newspaper and looked at her. “There is not much to talk about. You made your point and set down your opinion quite well. That's why I have made a decision.”
“Which would be?” she inquired softly. She was a bit scared of what he would have to say now.
“I came to the conclusion that I'm unqualified to be your therapist.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “What?”
“I never should have let Jack talk me into this. I am a psychologist for children and nothing more,” he explained.
“It will be much better for you if a real specialist would take care of your case. Someone, who has a lot of experience in such matters. The documents for a clinic were sent to me. There they will take care of your drug problem. I'm sure, they will be able to bring back your lost memories completely.” Elias told her all that with an expressionless face and without betraying any emotion.
“You can't do that!” Danielle exclaimed. “You can't just send me off to a clinic!” She was upset.
“You are right, I can't do that. You can. Fill out the documents, sign them and...”
“NO!” she cut him off, roughly. “Why do you want to do that? You said you are my friend! You said you were going to help me! Was all that a lie?”
“No,” he replied calmly.
“Then what is this all about?” Danielle demanded to know.
Elias folded his hands and looked at her imploringly. “Please understand. I cannot help you.”
He sighed. “Because you don't let me. You don't trust me, Danielle. Your nightly trips are the best proof for that,” he pointed out.
Danielle thought about it for a moment. “It's not going to happen again,” she promised. “I will do anything you say.” She was getting a bit desperate, because she didn't want to go to another clinic. Also, she didn't want another doctor to take care of her. “Please, give me one more chance,” Danielle begged.
“Danielle, you have to do it for yourself. Do you understand that? You have to want it for yourself. Don't do it for Jack or me or for anybody else. You have to want it for yourself.”
She looked him straight in the eyes and declared, “I want to get well. And I want you to help me with it.”
Eli rubbed his forehead and the bridge of his nose. “I don't know about that.”
“Under one condition.”
She nodded. “Whatever you want.” She knew that this time she had to make things right. There wouldn't be another chance.
“Talk to me. Whenever there is something up. No matter what it is. Come to me and talk with me. And trust me. I know, all of that is a lot to ask. But without this base, it's not going to work and I can't help you.”
The telephone rang, interrupting their intense discussion.
Elias picked up. “Hello? Oh, hi Jack!... this evening?... sure... of course we will come and pick you up. No, there is no need for you to take a cab... okay... yes, until later. Bye.” He hung up and turned back to the woman. “That was Jack. He's coming back tonight. We will pick him up. He sounded very dejected.”
“Maybe the meetings he had in Paris didn't go as he planned?” Danielle suggested.
Eli shrugged his shoulders. “I guess we will have to wait till he's back to find out about that.”
Restlessly, Samantha was pacing in front of the hospital room. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and scowled a bit. Sam didn't like it one bit that she didn't know what the woman in the white coat was doing to Liz behind the closed door.
Karen tried to calm the tall brunette down, but it was in vain. “Sam, you have to try and relax a bit.”
She looked at her questioningly.
“You are not going to be of any help to Liz if you get so upset,” Karen explained softly, holding out a hand to her in the hopes that she would take it.
Sam sighed in resignation, took the offered hand and let herself be pulled with gentle force to the orange-colored plastic chair next to Karen.
“I know you are very worried about Liz. I am too. But I can assure you that she is in good hands with Dr. Lewis. Liz will be okay.”
Knowing deep down that Karen spoke the truth, Sam nodded and forced a small smile to her face.
Karen rose from her chair. “I'm going to get myself a coffee. Would you like one too?”
Sam shook her head.
“Maybe some hot chocolate?”
Once again the brunette shook her head.
Karen went on, suggesting things that Sam could chose. “Water, soda, anything at all?”
Samantha reached into the pocket of her jeans and brought out the old, wrinkled wrapper of a chocolate bar.
“Is that what you would like?” Karen asked. “You know, you sure are bad with decision making... nearly as bad as Taylor is,” she chuckled. “I will get you something. You just stay here. I'll be back in a second.” Karen went to the big machines.
Her face a mask of pain, Sam stared at the closed door in front of her. “Liz,” she whispered. “You have to get well.”
Billy was in the kitchen to make himself a tuna sandwich. He had switched on the radio and the announcer there said, “And here is the new super smash hit by the one and only Latino superstar; Juan Rodriguez. Let your hips roll to ‘Call For The God Of Love'!”
Billy let go of his sandwich and stormed to the radio, turning up the volume. At the top of his lungs, he crowed along with the song, prancing and dancing crazily through Michiru's kitchen.
When the song was over, he took his plate and went to the living room, sitting down on the couch between Bombalurina and Demeter. “I will never forget last night,” he told the cats. “What a voice... what beautiful eyes... what wonderfully soft lips... what a man!”
He wasn't paying attention because he was far too busy swooning and dreaming about his heartthrob and so the cats stole the tuna from his bread.
“Hey, that was my snack!” he exclaimed, after he realized what had happened.
Bombalurina licked her lips and looked at him as if to say, “So what?”
“One really could think that you two didn't get anything to eat today. If you go on like this, it won't be long and both of you will be as fat and ugly as Garfield!”
Demeter cuddled up to him, purring.
“Playing nice is not going to help you any,” Billy responded, grumpy.
Bombalurina positioned herself directly on his lap and rubbed her head against his abs.
Billy sighed submissively. “Alright, alright. I will forgive you. Still, I'm going to call your owner, because I'm dying to tell her about Juan.” He glanced at the watch on his wrist. “Hmm, it's already late in Beijing, but I'm sure that Michiru is still awake.”
Billy picked up the receiver and dialed the number.
“Hi sweetheart! I hope I didn't wake you up or disturbed you otherwise?”
Michiru laughed. “No worries. I was just reading. How are you doing?”
“Oh, everything is wonderful,” Billy sing-songed. “The leaves of your plants are hanging down... your cats stole my meal... the man of my dreams kissed me...”
“What did you say about my plants?” she interrupted him quickly.
Billy chuckled. He loved to tease her. “Everything is alright with your plants. Don't worry, I was just kidding. But Demi and Bombi did eat my tuna, even though I feed them twice a day, just like you told me.”
“What was the other thing you said?” Michiru inquired. “The man of your dreams kissed you?”
His eyes sparkled and a dreamy smile appeared on his features as he breathed, “Yes. Juan.”
“You mean the Latino singer, whom you dressed up as Cupid?” This really surprised her.
“Yes. Oh Michiru. I'm in 7 th heaven! First, he bought me a drink. Then, I declared my eternal love for him and after that he kissed me.”
“Then... he ran away.”
“Oh Billy,” Michiru sighed. “I'm sorry.”
Billy shrugged his shoulders and told her what he was thinking about that. “I think he needs some more time and he is probably scared of our bond.”
“You really think it will work between the two of you?”
“I hope so. I want it so much.”
Christopher was standing in front of Karen's newly bought home and looked at it admiringly. “Wow. This is like a castle from a dream.”
Meanwhile, Tasilo was busy, sniffing at any piece of grass his big, black, wet nose came upon.
Richard came out of the house and Chris felt jealousy rise up inside him. “May I help you?”
The artist had decided to hate Karen's new ‘friend' but the friendly, easy-going demeanor of the stranger made it very hard. “Uh... hi. I am Christopher Stuart and I wanted to talk with my sister Elizabeth.”
“I'm sorry I have to disappoint you,” Richard replied, “but she is not here.”
“But that's her car over there,” Chris pointed out, wrinkling his forehead. What was going on here?
“Karen drove her to the hospital.”
“What happened?” The concern was clearly audible in his voice.
Richard shrugged his shoulders. “She broke down, all of a sudden. I think the work was too strenuous for her.”
“Thanks for telling me,” Chris responded. “I will drive to the hospital right away. Come on, Tasilo!”
Barking, the dog followed him to the car.
Richard watched him leave before he went back inside the house to finish the painting job. “So. That was the guy, who broke Karen's heart? To be honest, I imagined somebody very different. He seems to be quite a nice young man. Well, who knows? Still waters run deep.”
After a seemingly never-ending time of waiting, the door to the hospital room finally opened and Dr. Lewis told Karen and Samantha to enter.
Liz was laying on the bed, her face as pale as white chalk, and her eyes were only halfway open.
“Well, what's wrong with her?” Karen asked anxiously. She was deeply concerned about her best friend.
“She will have to stay in bed and rest a couple of days, “ Dr. Lewis replied. “Ms. Stuart is going to be alright. She is just extremely exhausted.”
Sam sat down on the chair that stood next to the bed, took one of Liz' small hands between her own, guided it up to her face and held it tenderly against her cheek.
“Can we take her home or does she need to stay here?” Karen inquired.
The doctor scribbled something on a sheet of paper. Without looking up from her task, she responded, “If you promise me that there will be someone with her the whole time, then I can release her now.”
Karen's eyes flickered to Sam and Liz' tender interaction and she grinned broadly. “Oh, you can rest assured that somebody will be with her. She won't be left out of their sight one second.”
Gillian nodded. “Good. There won't be any problems then. I do have a few questions though.”
“Did she have a lot of stress lately?”
Karen nodded. “Yep. One really could say that. For a few months, she was lost in the jungle and at the moment she is going through a hard time with her fiancé. Besides, she did overtime at work even though there was absolutely no need for that.”
Dr. Lewis made some more notes, before she continued, “Did she take any kind of medication?”
Karen rubbed her chin, undecided if she should tell her about Liz' sudden need to take pills, but then she made up her mind, wanting to get it all in the open so that the doctor could really help her. “As far as I know, she took something that would make her sleep at night. During the day she took something else, which was supposed to help with her concentration and she claimed it were vitamin pills. Frankly, I'm not so sure of that.”
“Whatever it was she took, her body had problems coping with it. The reason she had a breakdown is that her body was pulling the emergency brake so to speak.”
“We will make sure that something like that doesn't happen again,” Karen promised sincerely.
Gillian nodded and smiled. “Good. Also, make sure that she drinks plenty of fluid so that the rest of the pills gets flushed from her system and take care that she really keeps away from stress. She needs a lot of rest during the coming days.”
“Alright, thank you.”
“I will call a nurse, who will help you to bring Ms. Stuart to your car in a wheelchair.”
Karen looked towards Sam, who shook her head. “I don't think that will be necessary.”
Dr. Lewis sighed. “Actually, I would have to insist on that according to hospital orders...” She stopped as she saw how gently the tall brunette shoved one arm under Liz' knees and the other under her back, picking up the small, pale woman with great tenderness and care. “Well, but in that case, I think we can make one exception. Just, please, don't tell anybody or I'll get in trouble. Have a great rest of your day and hopefully a speedy recovery.”
Sitting on the couch in his living room, Juan was brooding about his behavior from the last night. To say that he was shocked about himself would be putting it mildly. “My God. Just how could I do something so crazy?” he asked himself, shaking his head slightly in disbelief. “I kissed a man on the lips! In a busy bar where there were so many people around. What's going to happen if one of that damned paparazzi got a picture of that?” The thought alone made a sick feeling rise in his stomach. “I can already see the headline and a picture that takes up the whole front page of dozens of magazines and newspapers,” he groaned and rocked his body. “Just what is wrong with me? First these unfathomable feelings for Jack and now Billy.”
A moment passed where he just stared off into space. “A kiss has never affected me before like it did with him. Not with Victoria, who was very hot, and not with any other woman I've ever been with. And I did like his touch. Maybe I am bisexual?” Desperate, he buried his face in his hands. “If only there would be somebody I could talk to. I can't say anything to my parents, they would disinherit me right away without a second thought. Not to mention what a disgrace I would be for the whole Rodriguez family.”
Jonathan and Catherine were watching the news.
“The headlines from today is the brutal murder that happened last night at the harbor site,” the lady said. “Former police officer Norman Kent, who had gone into hiding 29 years ago due to gambling debts, was found shot. There is no trace of his killer or the weapon. The police are asking for your help. If you have any information, please contact the nearest police station.”
“This guy probably messed with the wrong people,” Jonathan said, shaking his head.
“Yes, I think so too,” Catherine replied indifferently.
A commercial break came on and Catherine left the room, climbing up the stairs to go to Alexander's room.
Not bothering to knock, she just walked in. “Did you see the news?”
Alex nodded. “Yes. They don't have the slightest idea what's going on,” he laughed. “They probably think some guy, who the snake was owing money to, snuffed out his lights.”
“I hope the weapon is safely stored away?” Catherine asked, serious. They really couldn't allow themselves to make any mistakes.
“Don't worry, Mom. Nobody is going to find it,” Alex replied with a smug grin.
“Good. Now give me what Norman had in his pocket.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, Mom. But he only had his car keys in his pocket.”
Catherine's eyes widened in surprise. “What? Nothing else?”
Alexander shook his head.
“Did you search everything?”
“Yes Mom. He didn't have anything except the car keys.”
“Damn it!” she cussed. “He must have hidden it somewhere. Damn it to hell!”
“Mom? What exactly are you looking for?” Alex inquired innocently.
“A medallion,” she snapped, aggravated. She took a deep breath to calm herself. “Just forget it. It's not important.” That said, she left his room.
Blinking in confusion, Alex watched her go.
Karen opened the entrance door and Samantha carried the limp body of Liz inside. “She is completely exhausted,” Karen stated the obvious. “The best would be to bring her upstairs and put her to bed.”
“I don't want to go to bed,” Liz whined.
Karen glared at her. In situations like that, the blonde could be worse than a child. “It's an order from your doctor. Sam and I will make sure that you fulfill it. No more discussion!”
“Can I not rest on the couch?” the business woman pleaded.
Karen sighed, and looked at the pale figure in Sam' strong arms. “Alright. The couch it is then.”
Carefully, Sam lowered her precious cargo to the leather couch, put a pillow under her head and covered her with a fluffy blanket.
“Thank you,” Liz said quietly.
The brunette smiled and tenderly stroked her forehead. “You are welcome. I will go upstairs and change clothes. I'll be back in a minute.”
Karen rummaged in the kitchen and came back with a glass and a bottle of cold water. She put it all on the table and sat down on the carpet, in front of the couch. Looking into Liz' tired face she told her, “You really gave us quite a scare, do you know that?”
“I'm worried. What happened today shows that these worries are not unnecessary. What's going on with you?” Karen wanted to know.
Liz shrugged her shoulders, helplessly. “I don't know. Maybe I have the midlife crisis or something.”
Regarding her closely, Karen responded, “I think there is something else going on.”
Liz averted her eyes.
“Actually, I'm pretty sure that there is something else behind all this. But, I'm not going to push you anymore because you are completely exhausted and need rest. I'm going to call Richard and tell him everything so that he's not worried.”
“Okay. But don't take too long. I don't want the phone blocked in case Taylor calls,” Liz replied, rubbing her eyes tiredly.
“Yes. How is the little one doing anyway?”
“I don't know. She has not called yet.”
Karen went to the phone and Samantha came back downstairs, wearing a freshly washed pair of sweats. She sat down on the carpet in front of the couch, took one of Liz' small hands and rubbed her thumb across the knuckles.
When Karen came back she couldn't help but grin in the face of such a tender moment. She cleared her throat and quickly Liz pulled her hand back. “Is anybody hungry? How about I call the pizza place and have something delivered?”
“I don't think I can eat anything,” Liz complained.
“Nonsense,” Karen interrupted her. “You can manage one tiny little piece of pizza.”
Sam nodded and chimed in, “You really have to eat something Liz. You have to get your strength back.”
“See? Sam thinks as I do.”
Sighing in defeat, Liz gave in. She just didn't have the power to argue anymore. “Okay. I will try.”
Completely exhausted, Sara dragged her feet to the cab. She fell down in the backseat and gave the driver the address to the apartment building that was close to the ice hall.
The cab drove off and Sara closed her eyes.
She must have nodded off, because the next time she opened her eyes, they had already reached their destination. Sara gave the driver a few American dollar bills.
His eyes sparkled in happiness and he thanked her several times.
With her bag slung over her shoulder and holding the cat's transport box, including Tugger, she entered the building.
She was greeted by a small Chinese woman. “Ms. Sara Jones?”
“Yes, that's me.”
“Would you please follow me? I'm going to show you to your apartment.”
They climbed up the stairs and the Chinese woman unlocked the door. Motioning for the photographer to enter, she said smiling, “That's it. Welcome to Beijing. I wish you a wonderful time during your stay with us.”
“Thank you very much,“ Sara responded gratefully.
“If you need anything, please, don't hesitate to tell us.”
“I will do so, thanks.”
The Chinese woman bowed and left the apartment.
Sara dropped her heavy bag to the floor, put the transport box on the bed and opened the door of it.
Tugger marched out proudly, stretched his limbs and yawned.
She stroked his head, smiling as he started to purr. “At least one of us slept well.”
The tomcat licked his paw and rubbed it across his face, before he jumped off the bed to explore his new surroundings.
Sara took out her picture map and the other photo equipment that she would need the next day. “Tomorrow morning I will have the first appointment with a French figure skater. Well, I hope she is not going to be one of those arrogant bitches.”
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