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It was another therapy session in Australia.
Elias and Sara were walking over the wide paddock. All of a sudden, Sara blurted, “I've been talking with Danielle about you, Doc. She really likes you a lot.”
“Sara, I'm not the subject of our sessions,” he warned her. “Let's talk about your feelings instead. We begin with the woman, whose name you don't want to tell me.”
She scowled. “I already told you all about that bitch.”
“What makes her a bitch in your eyes?”
“Everything about her. Her whole pushy, unbearable personality. She really thinks she can get anything she wants, without caring about other people's feelings. She really makes me mad. I can't describe it.”
“Your problem is that you let her do whatever she wants. This way you are giving her power over you.”
“Does that mean I have to let go of the hate I'm feeling when I think of her?”
“I didn't say it would be easy,” he pointed out.
Sara contemplated it and made a decision. “I have to go back to L.A. as soon as possible. But, how can I be sure that she won't try again to kill me?”
He scratched his chin. “It might be hard to believe but from the psychological point of view it is very simple.”
“Her goal was to win the young man but she didn't succeed. You don't have feelings for him anymore so she may no longer think that you are the problem in her life. You don't stand between him and her any longer,” Eli explained.
Sara thought about it. “Are you trying to tell me that the snake just doesn't have a reason anymore to attack me and that nothing can happen?”
“That's right,” he confirmed. “I have studied a lot of such cases. In the end it's always the same. As soon as the goal is of no interest anymore the obstacle that has to be overcome disappears as well.”
“Doc, you are awesome,” Sara exclaimed and hugged him tightly. “I will never get into the bitch's way again, I swear to you and to myself. You really opened my eyes and finally I am free!” She let go of him, turned around and ran off, calling over her shoulder, ”Pack your stuff! We will fly back to Los Angeles. I have pressing matters to attend to. I will ask Daddy to give us the private jet. That way will be faster!”
***** THE NEXT DAY – WEDDING DAY *****
It was still early morning in Karen's house.
“Okay,” Liz said to her best friend. “Now turn around so that I can regard the beautiful bride from all angles. Oh, I think I missed a button in the back... hang on, I'll take care of it.”
Karen laughed. “I really don't know how Chris is supposed to open all these tiny little buttons later tonight.”
“Don't worry. He's got the very talented hands of an artist.”
Karen had to think about how tender his hands were whenever he touched her and blushed a bit. “Yes, you are right.”
Liz brushed the last wrinkles from Karen's beautiful, white bridal dress and looked at her face that was beaming with happiness. “You really are in 7 th heaven. I am soooo envious.”
Karen reached out and lifted Liz chin. “I can see that something is on your mind and you are having heavy thoughts.”
To assure her, Liz tried to force a smile on her face, in vain. “You just know me too well.”
“It's clearly written on your forehead. Besides, after all these years we've been friends and working together...”
“You are right,” Liz admitted. “I couldn't talk about it with anybody else but you. But, promise it'll be our secret. Okay?”
The other woman nodded. “I promise.”
Liz gathered all the courage she could muster to confide in Karen. “For weeks now... I'm dreaming of only one person.”
“Since you are so worried I guess it isn't Alex, right?”
She shook her head.
“Okay, go on. You know you can trust me.”
“They are about Sam.”
Karen's expression didn't change at all. If she was surprised by it, she hid it well.
“The dreams are not normal dreams... they are... uh... they are... of an erotic nature,” Liz confessed and blushed fiercely. “I mean we didn't do...uh... but...”
“Your feelings go in that direction,” Karen finished, seeing that the blonde had trouble voicing her thoughts.
Liz was at the end of her rope. Looking at her friend, she waited anxiously for her reaction.
Karen smiled. “Maybe your subconscious is trying to tell you something.”
“Like what?” Liz inquired innocently and confused. “It's not only the dreams. I feel so great in Sam's presence. She is the most wonderful person that I know. I feel tingling sensations in my stomach just when I think about her.”
“I never felt anything like that before. To tell you the truth, I only want to dream about her. Just what is it?”
Karen gently placed her hands on Liz' shoulders. “I can only tell you one thing. What you just described to me, your feelings for Sam, it's the same thing that happens between Chris and me.”
The blonde's eyes widened in disbelief. “No...”
Liz' mind was in an uproar and she quickly changed the subject. “Let's go over the checklist once more. We don't have much time.”
‘Oh Liz,' Karen thought. ‘I wish you would finally admit it to yourself. You found the perfect person for you in Sam. Just be brave and take the first step in the right direction.'
At the house of the Stuarts, Richard was about to lose his temper. “Would you please hold still, Chris! How else am I supposed to make sure your bow tie sits correctly?”
The blonde artist apologized. “I'm just so nervous and excited.”
“Okay, it's done. Now, let me have a look at you.” Richard scrutinized him up and down. “Good. You look nice in your kilt.”
Christopher grinned. “Family tradition has to be kept.”
After that, they decided to have a little break and sat down on the couch in the living room. “Richard,” Christopher began the conversation. “There really is a lot I have to thank you for.”
The other man just made a declining hand motion.
“Yes, I do. I really am happy that you are my witness and also that you were such a great friend to Karen during the hard times in the past year. Without you here, Karen might have moved away from Los Angeles for good.” Chris presented him his hand. “Thank you, buddy.”
Richard took the offered hand gladly and patted him on the shoulder. “You are welcome. Now tell me, how does it feel to be a groom?”
Christopher laughed. “Just great. I went through all the preparations already once.”
That came as a surprise to Richard. “Really?”
“Yes. One could say I practiced for later.”
“You had another woman? So that's why...”
Chris nodded. “Yeah, that's why Karen nearly left. The whole thing is forgiven and forgotten and far too complicated to be talked about again. They both have forgiven me and that is what counts. Let's check the list once more. Do you have the rings?”
Richard patted the front pocket of his shirt. “Yep. Do you have your pledge?”
“Yes. I hope Karen will like it. It took me forever to write these lines,” Chris answered and looked at his watch. “It won't be long till Taylor comes back from the airport with Uncle William.” Then he rose and started pacing the room like a caged tiger.
Richard poured him a glass of champagne. “Here, this will calm your nerves.”
Grateful, Christopher took the glass.
“Liz, I really would like to thank you for organizing the wedding,” Karen said, holding the blonde's hands.
“You are welcome,” she smiled. “Anything for my favorite sister-in-law.”
Tears welled up in Karen's eyes and quickly Liz gave her a tissue. “Oh my goodness. I can't bear to think what's going to happen at the wedding if I'm already crying now.”
Liz grinned. “And now for the most important custom so that luck will never leave you.”
Blinking in confusion, Karen looked at her friend.
“Something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new,” Liz explained helpfully.
“Jesus, I almost forgot about that custom,” Karen exclaimed, wide-eyed.
“Okay, okay, calm down, no need to get upset. That's why you've got me, your bridesmaid.” Liz opened a small package. “Your flower bouquet, consisting of forget-me-nots, will be blue. Here are the old Stuart family jewels.”
Immediately, Karen began to cry again. “This coronet is very beautiful.”
“Bend forward a bit so that I can put it on your head. For generations, the brides in our family wore it. My mother was the last, who wore it.”
“Oh Liz, I don't know...”
“Ah, ah, no talking back. From now on you are officially a member of our family. I also have another very special present for you.” Liz took Karen's trembling hands and declared, “I'm going to announce you as an associate of ‘Stuart Films'.”
Karen was so stunned she couldn't say anything.
“You gave so much to this company and worked so hard, especially while I was lost in Vanuatu. This is my way of giving something back to you. You really deserve it.”
“Oh Liz...” Touched by the speech, she pulled her future sister-in-law into a hug.
The other woman smirked. “Just don't get too excited. This means even more work, work, work.”
“That can't keep my away,” Karen sniffled and chuckled at the same time.
“Okay. So, let's continue with this. Something new will be your noble, pearl-stitched bridal veil and last but not least...” Liz pulled a delicate garter from the package and brandished it in front of Karen's face. “Something borrowed. This was meant for my wedding night but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon. I want you to wear it.”
Karen blushed and pulled up her silky dress so that Liz could put the garter on her leg.
Taylor was running through the airport, trying to find out where the passengers from Edinburgh would come out. “Man, I'd much rather be with Sam in the garden to see how everything is being set up,” she mumbled. After some more time of searching, she found one of the black boards. “Oh, there it says that the flight came in late. But still, Uncle Will should be through customs and everything already. I hope he hurries, because we don't have much time. The wedding ceremony will start soon.”
Finally, her Uncle appeared in the crowd. Next to him walked a woman that Taylor knew very well. Her jaw nearly hit the floor as she saw that the two of them were holding hands. “I'm just imagining this. It can't be real. It's just a crazy fantasy image conjured up from my over-tired mind,” she told herself. Unfortunately though, her eyes worked fine and it was no fantasy.
William stepped in front of his niece and spread his arms wide. “Does my favorite figure skater in the whole wide world not want to hug her only, old Uncle?” He wrapped her up in a warm embrace, but Taylor still couldn't take her eyes off her former coach.
William let go of her and laughed happily. “I'm sure you remember Tatjana. She is the perfect woman for me.”
Taylor gave them a somewhat crooked grin.
“Hello Taylor,” the Russian woman said and the girl hoped she wouldn't hug her and kiss her on the cheeks. Thankfully her former coach refrained from doing that. “I'm following your career with great interest. Your progress is really amazing. I'm very impressed by your improvement.”
“Thank you. So, care to share how you two met?”
“Oh, now that was quite funny,” William blurted, while they were on their way to Taylor's car. “We were at a Highland festival and there they had a drinking contest. It was like a lightning bolt hit me when I saw Tatjana. She drank everyone of those strong guys under the table.”
The red-haired woman chuckled amused. “Well, what can I say. That's my Russian soul. But, I could not win against your Uncle.”
Their luggage was stowed away in the trunk and they climbed into the car. Uncle William sat down on the passenger seat and Tatjana spread out on the backseat. “Alright. Let's go now.”
Taylor started the engine and they began the drive to the Stuart house. ‘I can't believe it... my Uncle is in love with my former coach...'
Dressed up in their best clothes, Michiru and Billy came through the gate that led to the garden.
Sam was very excited when she greeted them.
“Wow, look at you. You really look very beautiful in that blue suit, Sam,” Michiru remarked.
Bashful, Samantha lowered her eyes to the grass.
“Maybe you should do something about your wild mane,” Billy mentioned. “Put it up maybe...”
Michiru interrupted him quickly. “Billy, stop it. You are not at work. You are a guest here.”
“I'm sorry, my dear. Old habits die hard,” he apologized and smiled. “Michiru is right. Besides, I kinda like your wild look. It suits you very well. How is your Martial Arts training going? Michiru told me you are doing well. In fact, she can't talk about anything else.” He grinned while the women blushed.
“Billy, please stop it. You are embarrassing us. But, it is true. Sam is the best student for the different styles of Martial Arts that I ever had. She is very talented and then graceful and powerful at the same time.”
Billy gently elbowed Sam in the side and whispered, “See what I mean? She can go on like that for hours.”
Samantha felt very proud that Michiru had such a high opinion of her Martial Arts abilities.
The Asian woman had a look around and then said, ”You told me you have a little cat. May I please see her?”
“Oh yes. Jemima. She is inside. Come on, I'll show you. She is sooooo cute.”
Liz held the entrance door open and called out to Karen, “Your limousine has arrived.”
Carefully, Karen stepped outside.
Liz hurried to the white stretch limo and opened the door for her friend. She helped her to get into the car, which wasn't exactly easy with the wide dress. Then she climbed in beside her and the limousine was on its way to the Stuarts' house.
“Chris has booked the ‘Honeymoon Suite' at the Hilton for tonight,” Karen told her, very excited. “Tomorrow morning we will be off to the Maldives for our honeymoon. It could be that we can't be reached there.”
Liz grinned. “None of us would dare to disturb your togetherness. For how long will you be gone?”
“We will be back in time for the Mask Ball,” Karen answered, rolling her eyes. “We can't decline a personal invitation by your Highness Catherine Parker now, can we?”
Christopher was nervously stepping from one foot to the other while he was waiting in front of the altar.
Richard placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to keep him calm.
The priest glanced at his watch and Billy and Michiru sat down in the first row.
Samantha was sprinting from the gate to the entrance door and back again in order to see if a car would pull up. Tasilo liked that a lot and he ran with her, barking happily the whole time. After another run she came back and sat down next to Michiru and Billy. “The car of bride and bridesmaid has arrived,” she announced smiling.
The priest looked gratefully at the sky and Christopher released a very relieved breath. He turned around to have a look at the guests and frowned. ‘Just what is keeping Taylor and Uncle Will? The ceremony can't take place without them.'
Meanwhile, Taylor hammered her forehead against the steering wheel of her car. They were caught in a traffic jam because a truck with cows had fallen over and now the frightened animals were jumping all over the road.
“We can't let this hold us up,” Uncle William remarked. “Chris cannot marry without us.”
“I know,” Taylor grumbled darkly. “What do you want me to do? Fly?”
Tatjana chimed in from the background, ”Don't get upset, we will find a way.”
The violin players began to play ‘Here Comes The Bride'.
Inside the house, Liz pressed a kiss on Karen's forehead. “Welcome to the family. You've been a part of it for a long time but now it's truly official.”
“I really am happy to be a part of such a great family,” Karen croaked, a bit choked up from all the emotions that were whirling inside her.
Liz lowered the bridal veil over Karen's face and then had a look at the guests in the garden. “Oh God, no! They are missing! Taylor and Uncle William are not there.”
“Don't worry, they'll be here on time. Go ahead, Liz. Everything will be fine.”
Elizabeth left and walked along the light blue carpet to the altar. She looked into Christopher's eyes that were beaming with happiness and felt tears well up in her own. Stopping in front of him, she kissed his cheek and said, “I'm grateful that you are my brother. Our parents would be just as proud of you as I am right now.”
“Thank you. That really means a lot to me,” he replied.
“Just where the hell are Taylor and Uncle Will?”
The priest's eyes widened as he heard Liz' choice of words and he cleared his throat.
Christopher just shrugged his shoulders. “You have to excuse her. She is worried.”
Inside the house, Karen took a few deep breaths to calm her nerves. “In a few minutes I will be Mrs. Christopher Stuart.” She turned to the door and was about to step outside as Taylor came storming in and hurried towards her. “No, don't Karen! Don't do it!”
Confused the bride turned around and looked at the teenager.
Christopher was about to have a nervous breakdown as the violin players played ‘Here Comes The Bride' for a fourth time and still there was no sign of Karen. Worried he looked at Liz, who was just as confused.
The priest was also demanding an explanation. “Mr. Stuart... I have a few more ceremonies to hold today...”
“I know, I know, please be patient.”
Restless, Liz stared at the door that was supposed to open and reveal Karen.
Samantha placed her hand on top of the blonde's, stroking it gently.
Liz' eyes turned to Sam's.
“Everything will be alright. There, look,” Samantha told her and pointed at the door.
Taylor came out, waved quickly to her brother and then crept to her seat besides Liz and Samantha in the first row.
Immediately, Liz bombarded her little sister with questions.
“You really don't want to know what happened,” came the mysterious answer. ‘Liz must never find out how we got out of that traffic jam,' she added in her mind.
Behind her came William and Tatjana. He also wore a kilt and they were holding hands.
Christopher's and Elizabeth's eyes nearly popped out off their heads as they saw that. William just waved as he became aware of his nephew's questioning stare.
The ceremony continued and once more the violins played ‘Here Comes The Bride'.
Finally, Karen appeared smiling in the garden.
The guests rose and admired her beautiful wedding dress.
Christopher swallowed hard and felt tears burning in his eyes as he saw that Karen wore the Scottish sash with the Stuarts' family pattern. Overwhelmed, he looked once more at his Uncle, who gave him a thumbs-up in confirmation.
Karen stepped next to Christopher and stood now at the altar, under the Californian sun.
He couldn't keep his eyes off her. “You look so very beautiful,” he whispered to her. “I still can't believe that in a moment you will truly be mine.”
While they were staring at each other, the priest rattled off his text.
After the most important question that both of them answered with yes, Richard gave Christopher the rings and the couple slid them on each other's fingers. Then they took their vows.
“Every second I was without you was a piercing pain,” Chris said. “I've been a fool to have wanted to end our dream before it could even come true. Here and now, I swear in front of all these witnesses to love you, respect you and honor you. In good times and in bad times, until death do us part.”
Karen was touched by his words and presented her vow. “You were my first love. You have always been my one true love. I know you will be my last love. In the past, I did not do the things my heart told me, although I knew that you were the right man for me. Here and now, I swear in front of all these witnesses to love you, respect you and honor you. In good times and in bad times, until death do us part.”
A few of the guests began to cry and Chris was already about to walk away with Karen from the altar as Richard held him back and whispered, “You forgot to kiss your bride!”
He lifted Karen's veil and they sank into a deep, long, loving kiss.
Guests, friends and family members cheered at that and threw rice.
Taylor, who had recorded everything with her camcorder, called out, “Okay, now every woman gather so that Karen can throw her bouquet!”
Richard walked to her and took the camcorder from her hand. “I'll keep recording for you while you stand with the other ladies.”
“No thanks. I'm not going to take any risk,” Taylor replied, grinning sweetly.
Tatjana, Michiru, Samantha and Liz stood behind Karen's back and under loud clapping and cheering the bride threw the bouquet.
Liz took a step to the side and just watched.
The flowers landed in the arms of a stunned Michiru. She looked at the bouquet with sad eyes and then pressed it into Billy's hands, who was very astonished. He tried to save the whole situation and said, “Okay, I will take care of it for you so that the beautiful flowers don't get hurt.”
Karen pulled Liz to the side. “Can it be that you didn't even try to catch the forget-me-nots?”
Liz shook her head sadly. “Is it a sign?”
“A sign? Liz, you really can't be helped.”
“You will figure it out, eventually, I hope. Here, have a piece of cake.”
At the airport of Sydney, Sara hugged her father. “Please Daddy. You have to promise me that you won't be sad while I'm gone.”
“I wish my little one wouldn't leave me,” he responded. “Does it have to be L.A. of all places? Do you really think that's wise?”
Sara nodded stubbornly. “Absolutely. I love you, Daddy.”
Matthew sighed. “You really have your old man wrapped around your finger.”
“As soon as work allows it, I want you to come visit me, okay?” she asked and squeezed his hand. “And don't work too much, you have to think about your health. Once in a while, you need to relax. I talked with Rose and she will take care of you. Please, listen to her, alright?” She pressed a kiss on her father's cheek. “I'll go now, before I start crying. Bye.”
“I love you too, my little one,” he called after her.
Sara entered the plane where Tugger was already waiting for her.
Danielle shook hands with Matthew. “Thank you for the wonderful weeks I had at your house.”
“Thank you for being such nice company. I hope we will see each other again.”
Now it was Elias' turn to say goodbye to Mr. Jones.
“I'm counting on you to have an eye on my daughter, Dr. Lunaris. You know why.”
“Don't worry. I made a deal with Sara that we would continue with our sessions and that I would be there for her.”
After these words, Matthew felt a lot calmer.
“Thank you for everything, Mr. Jones.”
“Oooooh, I'm so excited,” Sara exclaimed inside the plane. “I hope Taylor will be happy when I suddenly appear at her door.”
Danielle smirked. “You are so bouncy only because of Taylor?”
“No,” Sara grinned. “Tomorrow, I'll see him again and there is so much I need to tell him.”
Elias finally entered the plane too and the crew prepared everything for lift off.
It had gotten late at the Stuart house. All of them had a great time throughout the wedding celebration. By now, Elizabeth, Samantha and Taylor were exhausted and hung tiredly on the couch. “It will be a while since we will see the two lovebirds again,” Liz mentioned.
Taylor grinned to herself. “I bet they will use the free time to make the Stuart family grow.”
Liz snorted. “Well, and I guess Tatjana will belong to the family soon too. It's a pity they already had to leave again. I would have liked to know some more about their relationship.”
The teenager shuddered at the thought. “Do you think Uncle William wants kids with her at his age? Karen's and Chris' babies will be far prettier, that's for sure.”
Liz burst into laughter. “The stuff you worry about. Chris and Karen still have plenty of time. I wished Danielle, Elias and Jack could have been here for the wedding.”
Taylor growled, “Not Jack. Not with the way he is behaving lately. I really can't believe...”
“I know you don't like Vicky,” Liz interrupted her and gently ruffled her sister's hair. “But Jack seems to really like her and we have to accept that.”
Taylor crossed her arms and thought, ‘It's a good thing Sara is not here.'
While Sara was allowed to look over the pilot's shoulder, Elias was talking with Danielle. “Mr. Jones was very generous. With the money I'm going to rent myself an apartment because I intend to stay a while in Los Angeles.”
Danielle's eyes sparkled as she heard that.
“I was talking with Jack earlier. He moved with Victoria into his beach house.”
Her face fell. “Oh, I guess then I will have to go back to my apartment... alone.” The thought frightened her, because she was still scared of Greg and of being alone. She had gotten used to Elias' presence.
He could see it on her face and so he said, “Don't fear. If you want, I will accompany your every step. You've gotten much stronger and the time in Australia was very good for you. You are looking great.”
“Thank you,” she replied and felt her cheeks flush. “Everything I accomplished is because of you. You are the person, who made it possible.”
Groaning uncomfortably, Taylor rubbed her aching tummy. “Gee, I shouldn't have eaten that 5 th piece of cake. When I go to training tomorrow I might break in on the ice.”
Elizabeth was barely listening to her sister. She was enraptured by the painting Samantha had given her for Christmas. They had hung it above the fireplace.
Taylor noticed the pleased smile on Liz' face and grinned to herself. Then she looked at Sam, who was staring off into space, her fingers tenderly tracing the medallion that hung around her neck. Drumming her hands against her knees, Taylor declared, “I guess there are two hearts that found each other.”
Liz jerked from her thoughts and looked at Sam, who smiled at her. “Who are you talking about?” she asked her little sister.
“Who do you think I'm talking about?” Taylor responded innocently.
“Chris and Karen?”
The teenager smirked. “If you think so.”
“Yes, I think so. I also think you should go to bed. It's late.”
Taylor jumped off the couch. “Good idea. Good night you two.”
As soon as the girl had left, Liz said, “We could go to bed...”
“We could enjoy the fire some more,” Sam answered.
Liz nodded. “I'm far too tired to drag myself upstairs into bed anyway.”
Samantha scooted closer to the other woman and pulled the yawning blonde halfway on her lap.
“It was such an exhausting day,” Liz mumbled. “I'm happy that Chris and Karen finally found each other and...” Before she could finish her sentence, she fell asleep from plain exhaustion.
Sam always enjoyed these undisturbed moments with her. She looked at her medallion, opened it and looked at the picture of Liz that she had chosen for the free space next to the inscription. “Just what are these feelings that I always have when I'm in your presence? I don't have an explanation for what I'm thinking and feeling. I just know that my heart belongs to only you,” she whispered to the unhearing ear of the sleeping blonde in her arms.
***** THE NEXT DAY *****
They had reached the airport of Los Angeles. Elias hugged Sara tightly and said, “You will make it in this city. Just remember, no matter what happened or will happen in the future, never allow anybody to gain control of your own life.”
“I promise, I will take my life into my own hands and won't let anybody rule me. Today everything will change,” the photographer replied. She winked and added, “After all, this is the 'City of Angels' and anything is possible. Okay, I'm going to take a cab to the house of the Stuarts. I do have your phone number, Doc, just in case. I'll see you later, Dani. Bye.” Sara disappeared with her suitcases and the cat transport box in the crowd.
Danielle watched her go and felt bad. “Maybe we should have told her. I mean about Jack and Victoria Parker.”
“I don't think so,” Eli responded. “She's not a child anymore. See it as her first real quest in life and we will see how she'll manage.”
“My first quest will be to go back to my own apartment,” Danielle said and it was audible that she was scared to death. “The thought alone frightens me,” she admitted in a small voice.
Elias pressed a tender kiss on her forehead. “I'll come with you. Together we will conquer your fears.”
Michiru had just finished her morning workout, consisting of some yoga exercises. She sat down and had a cup of stomach-friendly tea. Although she fought it, her eyes had a will of their own and once in a while she was staring at the forget-me-not bouquet. Billy had put the flowers in a vase in the middle of the living room table.
“Why did it have to be me, who caught the bouquet?” she asked herself, depressive. “I'm the last woman on earth that will marry. Single woman with an illegitimate, unwanted child is searching for a caring, honest father...” She got overwhelmed by her feelings and broke into bitter tears.
In that moment the door opened and Billy came in. As always he was in a happy mood. “I got the perfect thing,” he sing-songed. “Yummy bagels that will give my favorite pregnant friend tons of energy for her day.” He was shocked as he found her curled up on the couch. “Michiru? What's wrong, dear?” Billy pulled her into his arms and began to rock her. “Oh sweetie. You cannot let yourself get so carried away with your emotions. That's not good for the baby. You have to take care of yourself.”
Slowly, Michiru got her composure back. “I'm better. Don't worry.”
“But I do,” he responded fiercely. “I promise from today on, I will not let you out of my sight for even a second. I'll bring you to bed now because you need to rest. I think the wedding yesterday was too much for you.”
He supported her and led her to the bedroom, where he tucked her in and then sat down on the edge of the bed. “Oh sweetheart, you deserve so much more than what you got.” He gently caressed her swollen belly. Kissing her cheek, he rose and went to the door.
“Billy, I really wish that you were the father of my unborn child. I don't know anyone who would be more perfect than you for that role.”
He placed a hand over his heart and smiled. “That was the most beautiful thing anybody ever said to me. Thank you, that really touched me.”
“I'll be next door, in case you need anything. Sleep now, sweetie.”
In a happy mood, Sara stood in front of the entrance door to the Stuarts' house. “Oh man, I'm so looking forward to Taylor's surprised face when she sees me,” she grinned.
A short while after she had knocked, the door opened and she blurted, “Can I move in?” She had to look up then, because in front of her stood Samantha. “Hi, I'm Sara Jones and you are...?”
The tall brunette dragged her into the house and regarded the cat transport box with great interest.
“Hang on, I'll let him out,” Sara said and opened the little door. Tugger came out and she picked him up, rubbing her nose against his. “Hey, my cutie. Are you okay?” She turned to Sam, holding out the tomcat. “Here, you can hold him a bit, if you want to.”
Sam took him and immediately he rubbed his head against her cheek. “My, he is cuddly.”
Sara laughed. “Yeah, he likes to fix his attention on women. Unfortunately, he doesn't get along too well with men.”
Samantha gazed deeply into the cat's amber-colored eyes. “I think we will get along.”
Suddenly Taylor's voice rang out from upstairs. “SARA!” she exclaimed happily.
“TAYLOR!” the other girl yelled back and the teenager came storming down the stairs. They fell into each other's arms and then did a little happy dance from excitement.
After that, Taylor introduced Sam and Sara.
“Oh, so you are Samantha from the jungle. It's nice to finally meet you in person. I've heard a lot about you.”
“I know you from the DVD that Taylor made.”
Sara smiled. “Oh yeah. Thanks Taylor for making that. I watched it many times together with Danielle and Dr. Lunaris.”
Taylor's eyes widened in surprise. “What? Dr. Lunaris was your therapist?”
“Yeah. Nice coincidence, don't you think?”
Tugger was now striding around Taylor's legs and she picked him up, rubbing his back in greeting. “Say, is he neutered?”
“Because we have a little cat. Her name is Jemima.”
Sara waved off Taylor's objection. “If she's still little then there is nothing going to happen, don't worry. You know, actually I don't have much time. I want to go to Jack and surprise him. Can you please give me his address and a description as to how to get there?”
Taylor hesitated. “Maybe he won't be home.”
“I called his office and they assured me that he is definitely home today.”
The teenager didn't feel well and reluctantly she wrote down the address for Sara.
“Thanks. I'll go right away.”
“I need some time because I want to find the right words for the apology that I owe him. Bye! I'll see you later and then we will have a long talk. Also, please have an eye on Tugger. I'll be back.” With that she was gone, leaving Samantha and Taylor to stare after her a bit flabbergasted.
“Maybe Victoria won't be there so that they can really talk,” the teenager hoped. “Oh man, I hope everything will be okay.”
Holding a huge flowerpot in front of his face, Alexander stumbled into Liz' office. “Sweetheart, I got you a present,” he sing-songed sweetly.
She looked up from her work and asked in wonderment, “What's going on, Alex?”
Panting, he sat down the pot and grinned. “I thought that flower bouquets might get a bit boring after a while and since I know how hot you are for jungle things I got you a palm tree.”
“Please, refrain from such comments,” she responded coldly.
“Okay, okay. Gee, I didn't mean it bad.” He wanted to pull Liz towards him, but she resisted.
“I don't have time for that. There is much work to do, especially now that Karen is on her honeymoon. I have a lot to do.”
The grin faded from Alexander's face. “Which brings us right to the subject. Why was I not invited to the wedding?”
“It was only a small celebration. Only our families were present,” she answered evasively.
“But I'm almost a part of your family. We've been engaged for a long time and we will marry this year.”
“Okay,” he relented. “Let's talk about the Mask Ball then. What are you going to be? I would like my costume to match with yours.”
Liz became dreamy-eyed and thought of Samantha. Out loud, she said, “I would like to fulfill a wish of someone very special. I'm going to be an angel.”
Alex grinned in triumph and thought, ‘So, Liz still has intense feelings for me. She just can't admit it freely but she'll let go of her prudish inhibitions with me. I'll make sure of that in an undisturbed moment.' Then he said, “Good, I know the fitting costume for myself.”
“What will it be?” she asked curiously.
“Oh, that I can't tell you, Sweetheart. Only so much... opposites attract.”
Liz sighed. “The secrecy of the Parkers, huh?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “You know my mother. Speaking of her, I gotta go. How about a kiss goodbye for your fiancé?” He tried to kiss her on the lips but Liz turned her head to the side so his lips met only thin air.
“Bye, I have to continue.”
Alex went to the door and thought, ‘I wish you would finally begin with me.'
She had knocked. Her heart was pounding out of control while Sara stood in front of Jack's house, deeply inhaling the scent of a rose that she had bought earlier. A dreamy smile appeared on her features as she heard sounds from inside, indicating that someone was on their way. Her face fell as the door opened and she saw Victoria standing there, who was only wrapped in a white sheet.
“You?” the former model asked, greatly surprised. “I wouldn't have thought that you would dare to come back to Los Angeles. Besides, you showed up at a very bad time.”
“I thought Jack lives here,” Sara stammered, shocked to look into the face of her nemesis.
“Of course he does,” Vicky shot back. “My sweet fiancé and I live here together.”
The rose fell from Sara's hand as she heard that.
“I didn't know that you two knew each other. He's never mentioned you.”
Jack called from the bedroom, “Who is at the door, princess? I miss you in bed! It can't be that important.”
Sara staggered backwards, down the stairs while Vicky answered, “It's just Sara Jones.”
Silence ruled inside the house.
Victoria fixed her eyes on the younger woman. “So, how do you know each other?”
“Since when are you together?” Sara asked instead of answering.
“I don't think it's any of your business but Jack and I became close before he went to Paris to work out a deal with some computer guy...”
“No...” Sara shook her head.
“And after Jack returned from Paris he moved in with me one day later,” Vicky said, grinning broadly.
Jack's voice chimed in once more from the bedroom. “SARA?”
Vicky turned around, frowning. “What's going on here?”
As she turned back around to Sara, she found the photographer gone.
Meanwhile, Jack had put on some clothes. He came to the door and looked out. “Where is she?” He picked up the rose from the floor and said to Vicky, “I heard what you said to her. It wasn't very sensitive.”
“So what? I don't care.” Her fingers began to fumble on the buttons of Jack's jeans and he slapped her hands away. “Not now, Victoria!”
“What the hell is wrong with you all of a sudden?“ she demanded to know.
He ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing. I have to get some fresh air.”
“What?” she exclaimed in disbelief. “You want to leave me here all alone?”
“I'm sure you can find something to do without me.” He put on his motorcycle leathers.
“What if I don't want to?”
Jack didn't react, so she tried her puppy dog eyes on him. “Stay with me, please...”
He walked out to his motorcycle. “I'll be back soon.” With that Jack raced off and left a steaming Vicky behind.
Samantha was already at the Dojo, going through some warming up exercises, as Michiru and Billy entered.
They were wrapped up in a heavy discussion. “You shouldn't have gotten up,” Billy said reproachful. “You need to rest a lot in your condition and you should refrain from any kind of stress!”
Michiru was nerve-wrecked. “I'm not about to die, I'm only pregnant.”
“Yes, but think about how your hormones are out of control lately. I think you shouldn't work anymore until after the baby was born.”
“Billy, please excuse me being frank, but you really are crazy. I'm not going to hang around at home, doing nothing the last few months. Besides, this is not just work. It's my passion and I'll still do it, no matter what you say.”
Billy hung his shoulders. He knew it was in vain because it was plain to see that she had made up her mind about that matter.
“Hello Sam!” Michiru called out happily, as she discovered the brunette. “You already started?”
“Should we take a break with my apprenticeship?” Samantha asked in a small voice.
“Why... oh, you heard our discussion.” She shot a dark glare in Billy's direction before turning back to Sam. “No, there will be no need for that. I'm always happy to see you. You are my light on this otherwise gray day. Billy has to leave anyway.”
He sighed. “Yes, that's right. So, until this evening. Bye Sam. Please, take good care of her, okay?”
Sam nodded. “Bye, Billy.” Then she turned to Michiru. “Are you alright?” she asked concerned.
The Asian woman smiled. “A pregnancy is not always easy, especially if it is the first one.”
Samantha placed her ear over Michiru's belly. “To have a baby is the most wonderful thing that can happen to a woman. It's a gift of God.”
‘Yeah, a gift at the wrong time by the wrong man,' Michiru thought. She quickly changed the subject. “This morning at the phone, you said that you wanted to ask me something. What is your question?”
“Well, Liz said she's been invited to the Parkers' Mask Ball and I am too. Ms. Kasawaki, please, you have to help me picking out the perfect costume for me.”
Michiru smiled and asked, “What would you like? Or better, what is the most important thing for you?”
“Liz,” Sam replied honestly.
“What do you feel the most when you are in her presence?”
“I want to protect her.”
Michiru nodded. “I think I know the perfect costume for you and I can fit it on your body.”
Sam's eyes sparkled and her whole face beamed. “Thank you, Ms. Kasawaki.”
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EPISODE...
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