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Gentle fingertips, which were softly running through her hair, woke Elizabeth. She opened her eyes only to squeeze them shut in the next instant, because the bright sunlight was shining directly into her face. She buried her face at Samantha's throat and wrapped her arms tightly around her jungle princess.
“Good morning,” Samantha said softly, never ceasing the gentle stroking.
“Mmhh,” Elizabeth mumbled against her throat. “For how long have you been awake?”
“Since the sun came up.”
“I can't help it. I think my inner clock is still active. In the jungle, I always had to get up when the sun rose, because I had to hunt and catch my breakfast.”
Elizabeth's hands gently stroked her back. “It's a good thing that cornflakes boxes don't have legs and can't run away.”
Samantha chuckled. “Yep, that's a real good thing.”
“How late is it anyway?”
The brunette craned her neck to look at the clock on the nightstand. “Almost 9:00.”
“Oh, well, I think this is an acceptable time to get up.”
Samantha grinned. “We could also lay here a little bit longer and snuggle.”
“Mmmmhhh,” Elizabeth purred. “I do like that idea.” She placed her head upon Samantha's chest and listened intently to the other woman's strong heartbeat. One of her hands slid down to caress Samantha's belly.
“You know, I need a new picture.”
The blonde looked up at her, frowning. “What?”
“I need a new picture for my medallion.”
“Why?” Elizabeth asked and sat up.
“Because the picture I have is wrong.” Samantha pressed on the tiny button and the lid opened.
Elizabeth was astonished. “The whole time you had a picture of me in there?”
“Of course,” Samantha answered, smiling. “But now you have short hair. I need a new picture of you.”
The blonde beamed and leaned down to kiss her. “Oh Sam, I love you so much.” Then she got up and rummaged in the drawer of her nightstand. She found a new picture and something else. “I totally forgot about that?”
“What is it, sweetheart?”
“This.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and presented her palm to the dark haired woman.
Tears welled up in blue eyes. “You found it... my medallion.”
“Yes. I found it on the evening of the Costume Ball in Alexander's room.”
Samantha wrinkled her forehead. “Alexander? Why did he have it? Chris said that Norman took it...”
Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders. “I don't know. You have it back. That's all that matters.”
“You are right,” Samantha agreed and happily pulled the blonde into her arms. “You were the one, who gave it back to me.” Tenderly, she cupped her face. “I love you, more than anything. There are no words to express it.”
“I agree,” Elizabeth whispered back and lowered her head, but before their lips could melt in a kiss of never-ending love the doorbell rang. Slightly annoyed, Elizabeth rolled her eyes and sighed. “I wonder who that could be...”
Sleepy-eyed, Taylor walked downstairs and shuffled to the door.
Sara, who was also still half-asleep followed her.
The teenager opened the door, blinked against the bright sunlight and announced, “It's for you, Sara. I'll go back to bed.” With her eyes barely open, she made her way back to her room.
Sara gazed to the door and instantly became wide awake as she saw Jack standing there. “YOU?” she exclaimed in disbelief. “What do you want?”
Nervously, Jack ran a hand through his hair and tried to smile. “Hello Sara. Uh... can we please talk?”
“I wouldn't know about what!” she hissed venomously. “What are you doing here anyway? Did your PREGNANT fiancée let you go out, without collar and leash for once?”
“I would like to explain everything to you, if only you would spare me a couple of minutes,” he answered, ignoring her harsh comment about Victoria.
“FORGET IT!” Sara yelled, shut the door into his face and raced back to her room. Upstairs, she almost crashed into Elizabeth.
“Who is it?” she wanted to know.
“Nobody important,” Sara grumbled.
The doorbell rang again and was accompanied by stormy knocking.
“I'd say that sounds important.”
“But not for me!” the young photographer snapped.
Elizabeth climbed down the stairs to open the door for the seemingly impatient person in front of it. “Jack?” She was surprised.
“Can we talk? It's about Victoria.”
“Did something happen?” Elizabeth asked, greatly concerned.
“I kicked her out of my house.”
The blonde's eyes widened in shock. “What? How could you do that in her condition? That's very irresponsible of you!”
“She is not pregnant,” he blurted quickly.
“No! She lied to me.”
As Jonathan entered his office, he found Victoria sitting there, completely dissolved in tears. “Vicky? Sweetheart, what happened?”
“Daddy,” she sobbed. “I'm in trouble.”
He walked over to his daughter and hugged her. “Oh, sweetie. Tell me what happened?”
“I feel like a real bad person. I did something that destroyed my life.”
Jonathan frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“Jack, he is gone,” she replied, dabbing at her overflowing eyes with a tissue.
“What? He left you? In your condition?” His face darkened. “I think, I need to have a talk with Mr. Carpenter.”
“No, Daddy,” she interrupted him. “No. It's not his fault. It's solely my fault.”
“Honey, could you please be a little bit more clear as to what is actually going on? At the moment, you are not making much sense.”
She took a deep breath. “Daddy, I lied... I'm not pregnant.”
“Dear God, Vicky. Why are you saying it, if it's not true?”
“I had to do something,” she answered. “That was the only thing to keep Sara away from him. But now, everything is over. Jack will return to her and I will lose the man, whom I love more than anything else. I shouldn't have done it. I should have realized from the very beginning that his heart belongs to Sara and that he would never truly be mine.” Once more she burst into tears and sobbed at her father's chest. “Daddy, just how am I supposed to forget him?”
Jonathan held her and stroked her back. “Awww, little one. Time will heal all wounds.”
She shook her head. “No. Not this one.”
Elizabeth blinked in confusion and then looked at Jack. “Well. That is... quite interesting.”
“I know. Liz, you have to help me. I have to explain everything to Sara, but I don't think she wants to listen to me.”
“What do you want me to do?” Elizabeth asked. “I can't tie her to a chair and force her to talk with you, if she doesn't want to.”
He looked at her pleadingly. “There has to be a way.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Wait here. I will see what I can do.”
She went upstairs and knocked at the door to the guestroom, which had become Sara's room. “Sara? May I please come in?”
“It is your house. I'm just a guest,” came the reply.
Elizabeth entered and leaned against the door frame. “Jack is downstairs.”
“Good for him.”
“He would like to talk with you.”
“Tough for him. I'm not interested in what he has to say,” Sara snapped and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
“Why do you have to be so stubborn?”
“I am not! I just don't want to be hurt by him again! He probably is here to tell that he wants to marry Vicky soon and she would love it to have me as bridesmaid.”
“He's kicked Vicky out of his house,” Elizabeth said calmly.
Sara pricked up her ears. “Really? Why?”
“That's something he wants to explain to you himself. So, please, go downstairs and talk with him.”
“Okay,” Sara relented. “I have to dress first.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Good. I'll tell him that you will be down in a moment.” She went downstairs to the living room, where Jack was waiting, impatiently drumming his fingers against his thighs. “She'll be down in a minute.”
Jack was grateful. “Thank you, Liz.”
Samantha came downstairs, carrying a still sleepy Taylor on her back. Both of them wore sports clothes. “We will go now,” Samantha announced, grinning.
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “And where do you want to go with my little sister?”
“She wants to go jogging,” Taylor whined. “Even though I told her, it's far too early and I'm tired. She just carried me out of my room!”
Sam jumped a little bit up and down so that Taylor had to strengthen her grip in order not to slide off the tall woman's back. “I'll get you to wake up, don't you worry, little one.”
“Do you see that, Liz? She is soooooooooo cruel to me!”
Elizabeth laughed and cupped Samantha's face. “Have fun jogging, you two. Once you are back, breakfast will be ready.”
“Okay, until then,” the brunette responded, leaning down for a kiss.
“Hey, I got an idea,” Taylor chimed in as she saw that. “Why don't you two just continue like that and I get to go back to my bed?”
Samantha let go of the blonde's soft lips. “No way, sweetie. We will go jogging!”
“Argh, you're so mean, Sammy!”
“Ms. Kasawaki said you need to work on your stamina and that is what we are going to do.”
Taylor groaned tortured while Sam carried her on her back to the door.
“Until later, darling,” the brunette called out to Elizabeth once more.
“Okay. Please be careful, you two. Don't do anything I wouldn't do.”
“Yes Ma'am,” she responded and blew her beloved a kiss. Then she disappeared with Taylor.
Sara came downstairs. “Where is he?”
“In the living room,” Elizabeth pointed out. “I'll be in the kitchen if you need me.”
With one last glance at the photographer's retreating back, Elizabeth entered the kitchen and started to prepare breakfast. "Welcome to another crazy morning at the Stuart household," she muttered under her breath. Shaking her head slightly, she grinned. "It never gets boring."
Jack jumped out of the armchair as Sara entered the room.
They stood in front of each other and stared at each other, silently.
Finally, Jack spread his arms in a welcoming gesture. “Please, forgive me.”
Not thinking twice, Sara raced into his embrace.
***** A FEW WEEKS LATER *****
Billy pushed the cart, as they made their way through the grocery store. Samantha was carrying Sakura in her arms.
“I hate going shopping,” Billy groused. “Especially on Fridays. It seems as if the whole city is out to shop because they have nothing else to do. Besides, they put stuff to different places again. How is anybody supposed to know how to find anything if they are constantly moving things around? We have to figure out where they hid the diapers.”
“I will have a look around, so you won't need to steer the cart around,” Samantha replied. “Wait here, I'll be right back.”
“Okay.” While she left, Billy regarded the frozen groceries in a nearby freezer.
“Excuse me. You are a friend of Michiru, right?”
Billy turned around and glared at the man that had spoken to him. It was Jonathan Parker. “I don't think that's any of your business, Mr. Parker,” Billy snapped.
“Please, I just want to know if she is alright.”
“That also is none of your business!” He wanted to leave but the desperate man wasn't about to let him go.
“Has the baby been born yet?”
“Stop harassing me or I will call for security!”
Jonathan though did not stop. “Is it a boy or a girl? I really wish I could see Michiru with her baby.”
Billy exploded, not caring that there were at least a dozen other people around. “How dare you!? Do you really believe that after everything you did to Michiru that she would want you anywhere near her, even though you are the father of her daughter!?” Shocked, Billy slapped a hand over his mouth. That was something he didn't want to be revealed.
Jonathan looked at him with the same shocked expression. “I am the father?”
Samantha chose that moment to return with Sakura in her arms. “Hey Billy, I'm back. I found the diapers. They are...” She stopped and wrinkled her forehead because the strange man that stood beside Billy was staring at her as if he had seen a ghost. “Is something wrong?” she inquired concerned.
“Oh... m-my G-god... K-K-Kayla...” Jonathan stuttered. ‘This young woman looks exactly like Kayla. Unbelievable.'
Samantha took a step closer to him and asked in a trembling voice, “What did you call me?”
“Nothing,” Jonathan replied quickly. “Nothing of importance.”
“No. I heard you say the name Kayla,” she insisted.
Before Jonathan could tell her once more that it wasn't important, Samantha became distracted by Sakura, who wriggled and squirmed wildly in her arms and babbled impatiently, “... Da da... Da da...”
“Come on, Sam. Let's go home. Sakura needs to have a nap,” Billy chimed in.
Jonathan looked at the cute baby in Samantha's arms. He just couldn't take his eyes off her and instantly forgot about everything around him. “Sakura is your name, my little one?” he whispered. “You look so much like your beautiful mother.” He reached out a hand, intending to stroke the baby's cheek, but Billy grabbed him and dragged him away. A last time he looked at Sakura and then towards Samantha. As their eyes met, he asked, “Who are you?”
Samantha could only stare at him as Billy dragged him out of the store. “Don't you ever come close to the baby or Michiru again...”
“I have a right...” Jonathan interrupted him only to be cut off by Billy again.
“You lost your right on the day you chose to hurt Michiru! Now get out of my sight before I forget that I am a nice, understanding person, who doesn't like violence!”
Utterly confused, Samantha was still standing beside the freezers. “He looked at me as if he would know me... then he called me Kayla... me... what does that mean? I'm so confused. I need to go home to Liz. She'll know what to do.”
Sunlight fell softly through the leaves of the trees. Karen, Christopher, Elizabeth, Dorian and Sara sat in the garden, which was a landscape that consisted mostly of hills and holes due to the dig site, and enjoined some ice cream.
Elizabeth sighed and looked at Sara. “So, today is the day that you'll move out of our house and go to live with Jack?”
“Yes. Jack's house has been completely renovated and redecorated.”
Dorian was stunned. “And all that just because his former girlfriend lived there with him?”
“Yes. It will be a new beginning for the both of us. I don't want any reminders of that person,” Sara explained.
Christopher laughed. “I don't understand how you managed to live apart for such a long time after you and Jack made up. I can't be without Karen for one night.” He looked lovingly at his wife and then kissed her.
“I am real happy that Jack has so much time now.”
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth inquired.
“Well, to prevent Catherine from firing him, he quit. It is better for his career this way. At the moment, he is searching for something new but the earthquake really shook the movie industry. Finding him such a great, creative position as he had with the Parkers will be hard.”
Elizabeth and Karen exchanged a look.
“When will Jack be back?” Karen wanted to know.
Sara looked at her watch. “Actually, he should show up in a moment. The last boxes are packed and then I'm gone.”
“Hey, hey, hey,“ Elizabeth exclaimed. “That sounds as if you are planning to move to Europe and not just around the corner to Santa Monica.”
“I‘m a little bit sad,” Sara admitted. “I had a great time with you all and I liked being your guest.”
“Thanks for the praise. You really were a nice guest.”
Sara pouted a bit. “Too bad that Taylor has to have a training session and that Sam is babysitting with Billy.”
Richard couldn't believe it as he was about to leave his apartment and found himself face to face with Jack. “To whom do I owe this honor?” he asked.
“Actually, I was on my way to the Stuarts to pick up the final boxes but then...”
“You suddenly missed me?” Richard finished for him sarcastically.
Jack sighed. “I know you have every reason to be angry at me. That's why I'm here. I wanted to apologize for my rude behavior the last time we saw each other. A few weeks have passed since then and I feel bad about it. It wasn't fair.”
Richard looked at him, not betraying any emotion. “Anything else?”
“You've been a good friend to Sara,” Jack said, not liking Richard's attitude. “But now, I am back at her side and I want you to back off a bit.”
“What?” Richard was astonished. “You want me to stay away from her? Never! I'll still be Sara's friend... also, when you will be nothing more but a bad memory again. She didn't suffer because of me. It was all because of you! This discussion is finished.” He retreated back into his apartment and was about to shut the door, but the other man's foot prevented that.
Hostile, they glared at each other.
“I'll warn you only one more time,” Jack stated. “Keep away from my wife.”
Richard sneered. “Wife? You are not married yet.”
“Not yet, but I'll ask for her hand this evening.” Jack grinned.
The other man swallowed hard. “She will never say yes.”
“Yeah, you would like that. I know what you want, but you will never get Sara.”
“If it seems so clear to you, why are you threatening me?” Richard asked. “Are you scared of me?”
Jack snorted and waved him off. “It's of no use to talk with you. You are a hopeless case and I have to get back to MY Sara.” With that, he left.
Richard closed the door angrily. “I have to do something to get this uncomfortable situation out of the way. I think I know how to solve this matter.” He reached for the phone. “One little call to Daddy Jones about my worries concerning Sara's wellbeing should be enough to make him come here.”
His heart was pounding out of control as Jonathan rang the doorbell to Michiru's loft.
She opened and blurted right away, “Billy, you are already back. That's...” Then she recognized the man in front of the door. “YOU?” she exclaimed in shock. “What do you want?”
“Sakura is my daughter,” he said and walked right into the loft.
Michiru was too surprised to stop him.
“How could you keep that a secret from me?”
“You don't have to pretend anymore. Billy let it slip. I just met him in the grocery store with OUR baby.”
Michiru was flabbergasted. “Billy?”
Tears welled up in Jonathan's eyes and he choked through his dry throat, “How could you do that to me?”
“How could I do that to you?” Michiru grew angry. “How could you do what you did to me!?”
He looked at her. “So that's what this is about, huh? An eye for an eye?”
Michiru began to cry and Jonathan regretted his words immediately. “I'm sorry. I know that you will never be able to forgive me and I have to deal with that. But still, it doesn't change my feelings for you in the slightest. I realized that when I was looking into the sweet, little face of our daughter. I want to be there for Sakura and you. I really want to be there and not just give some money once in a while.” He wiped his face. “On the way to you I have made a decision. My other children, Alexander and Victoria, they are grown up. They go their own ways and have their own lives.”
Michiru had an idea of what he would say next and it scared her.
“Concerning Catherine... there is nothing left of our marriage,” he continued. “Throughout the years we have grown apart and I don't have any feelings for her.”
Michiru shook her head and begged, “Don't say anymore.”
But he did. “I will file for a divorce. Our daughter needs me and that is the most important thing to me.”
Michiru was shocked. She couldn't believe what she had just heard. Her thoughts and emotions were in a turmoil. She opened the door and told him to leave.
Once Jonathan had left, she broke down crying.
The friends were still sitting in the Stuarts' garden, laughing and having a good time as Jack and Taylor appeared.
The teenager crossed her arms and glared at the others reproachfully. “Ooohhhh. There you are. Having a nice afternoon?”
They nodded in agreement.
“Great. Didn't you forget about something?”
The others looked at each other and then shook their heads.
Taylor pointed at herself. “ME! You forgot me at the ice hall!”
Elizabeth scrambled up from her chair. “That's right. One of us was supposed to come and pick you up.” She wrapped her sister in a hug, rocking her from side to side. “Awww, my poor, poor baby, I'm sorry,” she cooed playfully.
“It was my luck that Jack came by and gave me a ride, or else I would still be there.”
Christopher grinned roguishly and teased, “Well, you could have walked. Would have been a nice training for your stamina.”
Taylor scowled and grumbled something under her breath. Then she mentioned to Elizabeth, “Our mail box is overflowing.”
“Okay, I'll get it. That is if I can get past the smooching couple here.”
Chuckling, Jack and Sara let go of each other. “Ah Liz. You should know how it is when one is in love,” Jack said.
Elizabeth poked out her tongue at him. “Might be. But there is work for you. A bunch of boxes want to be put in your car.”
Jack sighed. “Work, work, work. Can I not have some fun?”
“You can have all the fun you want at your home.”
While Jack and Sara were having a discussion if Tugger should move with them or rather stay with Jemima, Elizabeth walked to the mail box. Her eyes widened as she found another pale pink envelope. There had been a couple of those in the past few weeks. ‘No, no. Not again. Why does it not stop?' Frightened, she scanned her surroundings but couldn't see anything. “He was here again.” The only thing on the envelope was Taylor's name in a very clear handwriting. Liz threw it as it was into the trash can and returned to the others as if nothing had happened.
Sara was crawling around in her car that had been standing the whole time in front of the house and cursed, ”Damn it! I know that I left the pictures lying on the passenger seat.”
Elizabeth pretended to be happy and tried to smile. “Hey? What are you looking for so hard?”
Sara got out of the car and shook her head. “They are gone. The pictures are gone. You know that yesterday I made some pictures of the whole family. I had them developed over night. This morning I packed them into the car. I'm sure I did.”
A thought rose in Elizabeth's head, but she didn't dare voice it.
Billy had just put a fresh diaper around Sakura's behind and placed her into her bed to sleep, as the door opened and Michiru returned home.
“Hey sweetheart,” Billy whispered. “Sakura just fell asleep. Where have you been? I thought you wanted to be home when Sam and I came back from grocery shopping?”
“I took a walk,” she explained. “I needed some fresh air to clear my head.” After a pause, she added, ”I had a visitor.” She looked at him expectantly.
At first Billy didn't know what she was getting at, but then he thought back to the encounter at the grocery store. “Oh no, don't tell me it was him... Jonathan Parker was here?”
“What did he want?” Billy asked carefully.
“WHAT?” he shouted.
Michiru placed an index finger over her lips. “Shhh. Sakura. Let's go to the living room.”
They sat down on the couch and Michiru continued. “He wants to play Daddy and he also wants to leave his family.”
“I just wonder what birdy told him that Sakura is his daughter?”
Billy blushed. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to tell him. It just slipped, because he made me so angry...”
They talked about what had happened at the grocery store. In the end Michiru looked around and asked in confusion, “Where is Sam? Did she not have time to wait for me?”
“Well, ever since the grocery store, she seemed to be a bit out of it and confused. I asked her, but she didn't want to tell me. She wanted to go home to Liz as quickly as possible.”
Michiru smiled. “She probably just missed Liz.”
Jonathan closed his suitcase, sat down on the bed and stared at a picture frame that held a photo of the Parker family.
He was brought out of his thoughts as Catherine entered the room and asked, “What are you doing?”
Jonathan cleared his throat. “I'm moving out. I'll be living in a hotel until I found an apartment. I need to get away.”
“You need to get away from what?” she asked aggravated. “From the family that loves you?”
“No,” he answered calmly. “From you.”
At first, Catherine was speechless and then she stuttered, “W-what? Why? When... when did you wanted to tell me? Were you intending to creep out of the house, leaving a note that would say ‘Will be gone forever'?”
Jonathan wanted to draw her into his arms but she didn't let him. “Please, Cathy. I don't want to hurt you, but you have to see the truth. I know a divorce is ugly, but there is no future for us together. If you would be honest then you would know it as much as I do. Throughout all the years, in which we have been together, our marriage became just a partnership.”
“HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?” she demanded to know. “That's a lie!”
“No. Our life together has been a lie.”
They were so wrapped up in their fight that they didn't notice Victoria, who was standing in front of the door, her eyes wide in shock as she listened to their words.
“I can't believe this,” Catherine raged. “What has suddenly gotten into you, Jon?”
“The realization that it can't go on like it does. I really am sorry to have to tell you this, but I have another daughter.”
Catherine stared at him and a thought rose. She couldn't finish it though, because he continued, “Michiru... she has...”
“NO! Not that bitch Michiru with whom you had an affair!” she cut him off.
“Please, do not talk about Michiru like that, Catherine. It wasn't her fault and can't be changed anyway.”
“Because of that child you want to leave us?”
“No, Catherine. I have a lot of reasons. I tried everything to hold up our marriage. In the end, it all was just a show for the public. Admit it.”
She stared at him. “You still think that everything we had was a lie?”
Jonathan didn't answer.
Tears of rage welled up in her eyes. “I bet you will like a little piece of truth that I have for you.”
“What do you mean?”
She laughed hysterically. “You only have one living daughter... the one you have with your Asian bitch... yes, you heard correctly.”
He blinked. “But... Vicky... my princess...”
Catherine crossed her arms, sneered and continued for him, “... is NOT your flesh and blood!”
Jonathan was confused and thought that Catherine had made this up in her anger. He took his suitcase and went to the door. “Please, calm down, Catherine. I will call you and maybe then we can talk.” He left the room and walked along the empty corridor, not looking back.
“YOU DON'T NEED TO!” she shouted after him. “IF YOU LEAVE ME YOU WILL ALSO NOT SEE THE CHILDREN AGAIN! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
Precisely, the man worked with the pair of scissors and cut Christopher's face out of a photo that showed him with Taylor. On the picture, he held his sister in his arms and was about to throw her into the pool. After he was done cutting, the man glued his own face in the free space. “Now it is perfect,” he muttered.
He put it into a frame and set it up on the nightstand, next to his bed.
Then he sat down on his desk and began, like so often before, to compose a letter. “I have to come up with something new,” he mumbled. “It's no wonder that my daughter doesn't write me back, because this one woman is throwing away my nice letters. But I've seen right through you, Elizabeth Stuart. I'm not going to put up with it any longer. I swear to you that Taylor will receive the letters of her father and you can't prevent that. If this won't work then I will contact her personally.”
With a gleam in his eyes, he looked at the new picture he had created. “Soon. Soon we will be reunited again.”
Sobbing, Victoria climbed out of her Porsche. Her make-up had left smudges all over her face, her eyes were red and swollen from crying. “I don't have anyone whom I can trust. Nobody. I don't have a family that loves me and where I belong. I only have one last hope.”
Carefully, she crept around the beach house and stopped behind a bush.
Jack was on the deck, leaning against the wooden balustrade and gazed out at the sea.
‘Even after everything that happened, he will help me,' she thought to herself. ‘Jack is the nicest person that I ever met.' Victoria was about to come out of her hideout and tell him her sorrows, but Sara joined him on the deck. She was carrying two glasses of champagne. Giving one to Jack, she lifted her own and said, “To us.”
Jack looked at her. “I still can't believe that you finally moved in with me. This is our house now.”
Sara grinned roguishly. “Well, if you wouldn't live close to the sea and if you wouldn't have such a nice view, I might have changed my mind under different circumstances.”
He pretended to be shocked. “Oh, so that's it, huh?” Jack sighed dramatically. “Now I know the bitter truth and you don't love me for me, you only love me because of the house.”
She had to laugh about his antics. “Oh, I do love you, Jack Carpenter!”
“Then come here and cuddle me,” he pouted.
Sara felt very safe and warm as his strong arms closed around her.
Jack scrutinized her face. “You know, you are a little pale around the nose. Do I have to be worried?”
“No,” she shook her head. “It's just from all that stress we had lately. What with moving and everything.”
Happily, he rocked her gently from side to side. “We are our own, perfect, little family. Nobody will be able to destroy our luck or get between us ever again.”
She snorted. “Oh yeah, we are a great pair. An unemployed photographer and an unemployed computer freak.”
“Look at the bright side. We have lots of time just for us.”
Longingly, Sara gazed at the sea.
“I know, you are missing Australia...”
“But not as much as I would miss you,” she interrupted him. “Everything I want is you.”
Jack smirked. “Well, you got me.”
She nodded. “And that makes me the happiest person on earth.”
Behind the bush, Victoria had heard everything and was once more battling tears. ‘They are so happy with each other. Jack will never belong to me. He started a new life with Sara. A new life without me. Nobody wants me. Nobody needs me. I'm useless in this world.' Even more confused and upset than before, she crept back to her car and raced off.
Alexander and his mother sat in the living room, reading the newspaper. Catherine had not said one word about Jonathan's wish to divorce. Instead, she ignored everything and kept her silence.
As he read an article about the movie project that had been given to the Stuarts, Alexander quickly flung the newspaper into the flames of the burning fireplace. “That silly goose,” he exclaimed angrily. “She has everything. Their company is thriving and she is happy in her life. I just can't believe that our family and company is going down the drain.”
Catherine looked up from her paper. “She is happy in her life? Does she have a new boyfriend?”
“The words should be new girlfriend,” he spat scornfully. “Although, new isn't right. Sam, the bitch from the jungle...”
“What?” Catherine was a bit shocked. “They are a couple?”
“Well, I don't think they are out to the public... Liz most certainly wouldn't have the courage for that.”
Alexander scratched his head. “I don't want to talk about it anymore. That subject is through for me. I'll go out now and meet a few of my buddies.”
“I wish you a nice evening, my son,” Catherine said while he walked out of the room, but her thoughts were already somewhere else. “One catastrophe follows the next. So, Liz is trying to keep her relationship with that woman a secret. Is she scared that they will take the movie project away again once they find out? I think I should help the truth along. Everybody should know that Elizabeth Stuart brought a lover home from the jungle.” She grinned and reached for the phone. “Now all that's missing are a couple of nice pictures to prove what's really going on behind the walls of the Stuart house.”
On the other end of the line somebody picked up and a rough, male voice answered, “Hello?”
“Hi, it's Catherine Parker. How would you like an interesting story?”
Alone, Elizabeth sat on the swing. Darkness had fallen and she was brooding about the letters.
Silently, Samantha joined her.
For a while they sat there, until Samantha began, “He called me Kayla... Kayla...” She fiddled with her medallion and read the inscription again and again.
“Who called you Kayla?” Elizabeth wanted to know, glad for the disrupting of her own heavy thoughts.
Elizabeth was surprised. “Mr. Parker?”
The other woman could feel that her thoughts were in a turmoil. “Maybe he once knew a person with that name and she coincidently looked like you. It doesn't have to mean...” Somehow, Elizabeth herself wasn't convinced by her own words.
“You know, this encounter showed me that I don't know anything about my heritage... I don't know who my parents are or how I came to be on Vanuatu... I mean, I don't think I was born there...”
Elizabeth tenderly stroked her back. “That really bothers you, huh?” she asked, concerned.
“It's just that I don't know anything and then Mr. Parker calls me Kayla. That can't be coincidence.”
Desperation was written in Samantha's eyes and Elizabeth felt a harsh tug at her heart. She just couldn't bear to see the other woman so sad. “I have an idea. Tomorrow morning, I'll call Jack. Maybe he can talk with his friend Peter to see if he can do something for you.”
“Of course. You have a right to know more about your past. I want to see you happy.”
Samantha leaned down and placed a tender kiss on Elizabeth's lips. “Just what would I do without you?”
Elizabeth stroked her cheek. “I would be lost without you too.”
“Wanna go upstairs?”
The blonde nodded, took Samantha's hand and together they went back to the house.
Victoria stopped her car at the edge of the road. She left the headlights on and the motor running while she stumbled toward the abyss that lay in front of her. Standing there and staring into the blackness, she sobbed, “My life is worthless. Nobody is going to miss me so I can just as well jump.”
A strong wind was blowing and pulled at her delicate frame while she looked down.
Dorian passed by the car, wondering what it was doing there with the lights on and the motor running, but nobody was inside. He stopped his own car next to the Porsche and then discovered the woman, who was standing close to the edge, her long blonde hair floating in the wind. “Oh my God, is she intending to kill herself?”
Dorian got out of his car and slowly walked towards the woman. As he was close, he could hear that she was crying. “Miss...” he called out hesitatingly, not wanting to scare her.
Still, Victoria jumped and whirled around so strongly that it nearly caused her to lose her balance. “Who are you?” she sniffled. “What do you want?”
“My name is Dorian Turunen and I don't like what you want to do.”
“How can you know what I intend to do?”
Dorian looked into the abyss and almost grew dizzy. “Well, to me it's obvious.”
“So what? Leave me alone!” she hissed.
“What can be so bad, that a beautiful, young woman like you wants to jump?”
Victoria looked at him, new tears falling from her brown eyes. “I don't have a family.”
Dorian sat down beside her. “I don't have one either. My mother died a few years ago and I never got to know my father. She never told me his name and now it's too late. Since then I've been on my own. I have a couple of jobs so that I can have a decent life.”
“I'm sorry,” Victoria said.
He made a declining hand motion. “Nah. It's not that bad. My mother taught me to get along with little. Not everybody has been born with a golden spoon in their mouth. At the moment I'm having a very good time. I can live and eat for free. I'm very grateful to the family that treat me like a friend and as if I would be one of them. Like that I can concentrate better on my studies.”
Victoria had listened to him carefully. “After what you just told me it seems to me that you should be closer to despair than I,” she admitted.
“It always depends from which angle you look at a situation. If you think it's bad, just try to find something positive about it.”
“You are right, Dorian. All my life I've been so selfish and did so many bad things to others... but that the man, who I thought was my father, actually is not my father... that threw me completely off guard,” she explained.
“But that is no reason to throw your life away,” Dorian told her. “You should try and find your real father then. That would be a great new beginning. Maybe, he doesn't know what a great daughter he has. He will never know, if you jump. Come, please, give me your hand.”
Victoria asked in a small voice, “Would you help me to look more positive into my future?”
He nodded. “Of course, if you want to.”
She gave him her hand and he pulled her back from the abyss. Shyly, she gazed up at him. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome,” Dorian replied and held her trembling body tightly in his arms.
Impatiently, Sara fidgeted around. “May I finally know where you dragged me to for my surprise?”
“Hang on a second, okay?” Jack said. “Why do you always have to be so curious?”
After a few more minutes of her whining, he relented and took his hand off her eyes.
Astonished, Sara looked up. “We are in a planetarium?”
“But that's not all,” he replied and took her hand, leading her to the seats. “We will be all alone here. You always nagged about that you couldn't see the stars in Los Angeles...”
“Yes, because of all that pollution in the air.”
He nodded. “I know. Tonight though, the stars will shine only for you.” Jack pressed a button on a remote he was holding and the ceiling of the hall opened, revealing an artificial sky.
“It's so beautiful,” Sara whispered breathlessly. You are always surprising me again and again.”
Jack grinned and from the speakers in the hall sounded Jon Bon Jovi's ‘In These Arms'.
Sara beamed, while they were swaying to the music, wrapped up in each other's arms.
As the song reached the part, ‘...I'd get down on my knees for you...' Sara felt goosebumps all over her body and Jack really went down on his knee, in front of her. “Look up at the stars,” he told her. “Do you see one that shines brighter than any other?”
Jack took a deep breath. “If you want it will be your own star with the name Sara Carpenter.”
Tears welled up in her eyes because his words had touched her deeply. “Sara Carpenter... I would be proud if a star and I would have that name.” Overwhelmed, she hugged him again. “This is the happiest day of my life.”
Jack laughed in relief. “I was a bit scared about what your answer would be.”
“I will never let you go again. There is nothing more a woman could get if she is given her own star...”He put an engagement ring on her finger and the pair cuddled up in one of the seats, looking at the stars until the early morning hours.
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EPISODE...
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