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Special Disclaimer : This story was written before they had the new point system in figure skating.
(c) 2002 - 2013 by Fiur and Vlamme
The doorbell rang, forcing Alexander to interrupt his phone conversation with Steven McLure, the lawyer of the Parker family. “Hang on a second, Steven. I gotta go and see who is at the door.”
Alexander put down the receiver, went to the entrance door and opened it. “Yes? What can I do for you?” he impatiently asked the young man that stood in front of him.
“Hi, I'm Dorian Turunen. I came to pick up a few things. Vicky said, she talked with you about it.”
Raising an eyebrow, Alexander scrutinized him up and down. “So, you are my soon-to-be-brother-in-law, huh?”
“Uh...” Dorian blushed. “Actually, Vicky and I have not talked about getting married yet.”
Alexander chuckled. “I'm sure that she won't wait much longer. Come on in. Vicky's stuff is upstairs in her old room. Listen, I'm in the middle of a very important phone call. I'm sure, once you got the things, you'll find the way out by yourself, right?”
“Good. See you later.” While Alexander returned to the living room, Dorian climbed the stairs.
Victoria's room was mostly empty. The bed, empty cupboards and a large table with a huge mirror were still there. On the floor, in the middle of the room, was a big box containing picture frames, cups of beauty shows that Vicky won during her years as model and other knick-knacks.
Dorian took the box, left the room and went back downstairs. As he passed by the living room, he heard Alexander's voice. “Hey Steven, I have a question concerning Vicky's father...”
Dorian stopped. He did know that it wasn't nice to listen in on other people's phone conversations, but for Victoria he wanted to find out what Alexander knew.
“Don't you think we can get some money out of the Stuarts for that? I mean, Colin Stuart is Vicky's real father and as far as I know, he never ever paid a little cent for her... yes... okay... yes, call me if you find out something... yes... okay...”
Quickly, Dorian left the house before Alexander would notice him eavesdropping. As he arrived at his car, he had to sort his thoughts that were in an uproar. “Colin Stuart is supposed to be Vicky's father? That... that's hard to believe.”
***** A FEW DAYS LATER – OLYMPIC GAMES *****
At a leisurely pace, Samantha and Taylor were walking along the snowy streets of Anchorage, Alaska. It was afternoon, one day before the big free program. The girl had mastered the short program without any problems and so there actually wasn't anything in the way of winning the gold medal. If only... yes, if only there wouldn't have been Taylor's greatest rival Nicolette Valmy.
Michiru had sent them on this walk in the hopes that Taylor would relax and free her mind. Until now though, the success of that plan was more than nonexistent. Taylor's thoughts were circling merciless around the final and her rival.
The teenager gasped in surprise, as Sam suddenly grasped her arm and dragged her to a small jewelry store. For about five minutes they stood in front of the big window, looking at the sparkling rings and necklaces, until Taylor asked. “Uh... Sammy? What do we want here?”
“Buy a ring.” She pointed at one that appealed to her. “This one over there is very pretty, don't you think?”
“Sure. But for whom do you want to buy a ring?”
Samantha grinned and brushed her index finger across the girl's nose tip. “For your sister.”
“My sister?” Taylor frowned. “But... why...” And then it hit her all of a sudden. “Sammy... are you going... do you want to ask my sister if she wants to marry you?”
The brunette blushed a bit and then nodded wildly. “As soon as we are back home, I'm going to ask Liz, if she wants to be my wife. I know it's not really legal, but I don't care. I love Liz more than anything and I want to show her that.”
“I think that's absolutely cool!” Taylor exclaimed and hugged Samantha tightly.
Happily, the tall woman returned the embrace. “I knew that you would like it, and I'm sure the rest of the family will be just as happy about it.”
“You can bet on that.”
“I'm just a bit worried about Liz' reaction,” Samantha confessed.
Taylor grinned. “What do you think? She's going to freak... in complete and utter happiness.”
Samantha nodded. “Yeah, if you say so, I'll believe you.”
“Good. Now let's go inside and buy that ring before someone else will take it.”
For the moment, Elizabeth was completely and utterly nervous and paced in front of Karen's desk. “Oh God! I think, I'm going to die from nervousness,” she whined. “In a few minutes the sponsors will be here. I really hope that nothing will go wrong. ‘Lords Of The Darkness' is almost finished. We need new projects.”
Karen laughed. “Liz, I really don't know why you worry at all. You have prepared your speech well. You will make them see that we are the only company they should give their projects to. If they don't do that, it will be their loss, and they will come crawling back, once they realize that they were wrong.”
Elizabeth took a couple of deep breaths and released the air slowly. “You are right. I have to become more calm and not take everything to heart.”
Karen gathered her into her arms and held her for a minute. “You will see, everything is going to be fine.”
Not being convinced yet, Elizabeth forced a smile to her face and mumbled, “Your words in God's ear, dear sister-in-law.”
“I think we got lost,” Taylor remarked as she walked with Samantha through a dark alley.
“Nah, it's a shortcut,” Samantha replied.
“How can you know that?” the girl inquired. “You've never been here before in your life.”
Samantha just grinned. “But I have memorized the map of the town.”
Taylor looked at her in disbelief and then snorted. “No way.”
“I was only joking,” the tall woman confessed. “But, I'm sure if we follow this street we will eventually come out at the main road. There we can ask somebody for the way.”
“I hope so,” the teenager mumbled, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
Samantha placed an arm around Taylor's shoulder and pulled her close to her body. “Don't fear, my little ice princess. I'll protect you.”
She had barely said that when suddenly Taylor was torn away from her and flung against a nearby house wall. Samantha was whirled around and looked greatly surprised in a face that was hidden behind a black woolen mask. Then she felt a piercing pain in the left side as a long knife impaled her body between the ribs. The culprit took her backpack and fled the crime scene.
A bit dizzy, Taylor staggered to the place where Samantha was laying on her back, on the cold ground, groaning in pain. “Sam?” she whispered frightened. “Oh shit!” With trembling fingers she opened the woman's coat and saw herself confronted with a strongly bleeding stab wound.
“Hang on, Sammy!” Taylor took Samantha's cold hands and placed them over the wound. Then she placed her left hand on top of Samantha's and pressed down, while she used her right hand to dig into the pocket of her coat, fishing out the cell phone to call an ambulance.
“Hang on, Sammy! Everything will be fine.”
The brunette looked at her through pain-veiled eyes and blood came out of her mouth as she began to talk. “Tell... your... sister... that... I... love... her...”
Tears welled up in Taylor's eyes. “You will tell her that yourself because you are not going to die! Okay?! You will get well and then you will ask Liz to marry you and then you will live happily ever after! Damn it! Why is nobody answering the phone?!” The teenager hung up and tried again. “Sammy! Stay awake!” Taylor exclaimed when she saw Samantha's eyes beginning to close.
Elizabeth was in the middle of the big conference as the telephone rang on Karen's desk. Karen picked up. “'Stuart Films', Karen Miller speaking. How may I help you?”
“Karen, Karen... I need to... talk with Liz immediately!”
Instantly, Karen was concerned. “Taylor? Is that you?”
“Yes,” the girl sobbed desperately. “Karen, please get Liz to the phone.”
“Little one, that's impossible at the moment. She has this big meeting.” Karen heard the teenager sniffle. “What's wrong, sweetie? Maybe I can help you.”
“It's about Sam... we're at the hospital... Sam's hurt very bad and...”
That was enough. “Okay, hang on. I'll get Liz.”
Karen didn't think twice because to her, family was the most important thing above anything else. Quickly, she walked to the office and opened the door.
Elizabeth stopped talking as she saw that everybody was looking at the door behind her. She turned around and found Karen there, a very serious and concerned expression on her face. Elizabeth raised her eyebrows questioningly.
Karen motioned for her to come closer.
“Please, excuse me a moment,” the blonde said to the men and women. She walked over to Karen and together they left the room. “What's wrong?”
“Taylor is on the phone,” Karen explained. “She is crying and sounding as if she is about to have a breakdown. She says there is something wrong with Sam.”
Fear rose inside Elizabeth and wide-eyed, she stormed to the phone.
Lost in thought, Dorian stared at the box the contained Victoria's stuff. Even though he had given it to her a few days ago, the former model didn't have the time yet to unpack it. It still stood untouched in a corner of the living room.
Dorian leaned back on the couch, tiredly rubbing his face with both hands. “What shall I do? What shall I do? Should I tell Vicky what I heard? How can I tell her without upsetting her? Or should I keep it from her?”
“Taylor? Sweetie, what's wrong?” Elizabeth asked, greatly concerned as soon as she had the receiver in her hands.
“Liz! You have to come here immediately!”
“I don't know what to do,” the teenager told her in a trembling voice. “They've been operating on Sam for hours and nobody tells me anything!”
“Okay, calm down, Taylor. Tell me what happened. Why are you at the hospital?”
“We were on a walk and suddenly there appeared this masked man and stabbed Sammy.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes and felt her heart skip a beat. “Oh God! Is everything alright with you, at least?”
Taylor sniffled, “I'm fine. I'm just worried about Sammy.”
Elizabeth looked at Karen, who had heard everything. “Okay sweetie, listen to me. Stay where you are. I'll be on my way to you as soon as possible.”
“Do you think you could get Dr. Lewis to come here too?”
“I will see what I can do. Take care of yourself. I'll be with you soon. If they let you see Sam and if she's awake, then tell her everything will be alright. I'm on my way, okay? Tell her not to be scared and stay with her, okay?”
“Alright. Until soon.”
“Bye sweetie. Oh, and tell her that I love her.”
“I'll do that,” Taylor promised.
“Okay, bye sweetie.”
Elizabeth hung up and buried her face at her palms. “Oh God, why? Just when I think everything is going fine something horrible happens.”
Karen pulled her into her arms and tenderly stroked her back, calming her. “Sam's going to make it. She is tough and she is a fighter. You have to check now where you can get a flight to Anchorage.”
Elizabeth rubbed her forehead. “What about the meeting?”
“Don't worry about that. I think, I can finish it for you.“
Elizabeth squeezed her sister-in-law. “I don't know. It's not fair to put this upon you too...”
“Ah, ah, ah, no talking back. Family is more important than anything else.”
Elizabeth released a deep sigh. “You are right, like always.”
Karen smiled. “I know. And now you need to get ready. Sam and Taylor need you.”
Restlessly, Michiru was pacing in her hotel room. Night had fallen but still she had not heard anything from Taylor or Samantha. They were not at their room and she was beginning to get worried. “Where the hell are you two?” she grumbled to herself. “Taylor has her big day tomorrow and you are still not back. Nobody is answering the cell phone. I don't want to call the police because I know they are not going to do anything because it has not been 24 hours yet that you disappeared...”
Releasing a deep sigh, she lay down on the big bed and switched on the TV. “Maybe there is something on the news? I hope nothing happened to them.”
***** THE NEXT DAY *****
Slowly, deep blue eyes opened and Samantha awoke. Her nose was burning from the oxygen tube that had been placed there and her whole body was aching, especially in the rib area. The next thing that she became aware of, was a small warm hand, which held one of hers.
Samantha turned her head a bit and found Taylor, who sat on a chair next to the bed, sleeping. She called out the girl's name hoarsely and squeezed her hand weakly.
Taylor jerked awake and looked around sleepy-eyed until her gaze found the woman's. “Sammy!” she exclaimed happily, jumped off the chair and sat down on the edge of the bed. She bent forward slowly and carefully pulled Samantha into a hug, using great caution as to not cause the other woman even more pain. “Thank God, you are finally awake. Do you remember what happened?”
“I already talked to the police but I'm sure they will want to question you too when you are feeling a bit better.”
“Did they catch him?” Samantha whispered.
Taylor shook her head sadly. “No. Actually, I think it will be almost impossible anyway. It was too dark and I didn't see much of him.”
“Yeah, and his face was completely covered by a woolen mask.”
“He stole your backpack.”
At that, Samantha's eyes widened. “Where is my coat?” she asked fearfully.
“They threw it away because it was soaked with blood.”
Taylor stroked her arm, trying to calm her. “Don't you worry. The ring is safe. It's in the drawer of the nightstand over there,” the teenager said and pointed with her chin in the direction.
Samantha exhaled sharply in relief. “Good.”
“I called Liz. She is on her way. I don't know exactly when she will be here. But, she wanted me to tell you that she loves you.”
That brought a big smile to Samantha's face. “I love her too.”
“I know,” Taylor replied, grinning broadly.
The other woman's eyes fell on the clock that hung on the wall opposite her. “Hey, isn't there some Olympic Games that you have to win?”
Taylor averted her eyes. “That's not important anymore,” she stated in a small voice.
“Sweetie, you've worked so hard for it...”
“It's really not important. Right now, all that matters is that you get well. I will stay with you until Liz arrives and by then it will be too late. Let Nicolette win. I don't care.”
Samantha was touched because she knew that the teenager was sincere about everything she had just said. “No Taylor! You have to go there! Look, nothing can happen to me here, the doctors will take care of me and I could see the competition on TV.”
“Taylor, this is your big chance. You can't let it pass you by just like that.”
The girl looked at her, unsure. “You really want me to go? Are you sure you will be fine until Liz gets here?”
“Yes, it will be alright. And as soon as you're done you can come back, right?”
Taylor wrestled with herself for a couple of moments until she decided to give in. “Okay. If that is your wish...”
Samantha nodded and smiled. “That's it. Go and live your dream. Make everybody proud.”
To say that she was worried, was putting it mildly. Greatly concerned, Michiru stood in the backstage area of the big ice hall and looked at her watch about every minute. “Just where are you?” she muttered under her breath. Since she had been unable to find out anything about Taylor's or Samantha's whereabouts, her concern was growing with each passing moment.
A man in a suit came to her. “Ms. Kasawaki, if your protégée doesn't make an appearance soon, we will have to disqualify her and close her out of the competition.”
“I assure you that Taylor will be here soon,” the coach told him with the sweetest smile she could muster.
The man sighed. “Alright. She will be starting at the end in the last group anyway so I will give you more time.”
As soon as the man had left, she pulled out her cell phone and tried once more to reach Taylor.
Sara was about to pull her hair in frustration. “I just don't know what to do anymore,” she confessed to Peter, who was sitting opposite her in the small café they had chosen for their conversation. “I know that Jack misses his family, but of course, being the stubborn man that he is, he would never admit it.”
Peter sipped his coffee and then asked, matter-of-factly, “And you honestly think that if I could find his family it would help a reconciliation between them?”
Shrugging her shoulders, she answered, “I don't know. I don't know if there is need for a reconciliation since I have no idea why Jack doesn't have any contact with his family.”
His eyebrows rose in astonishment. “Then why are you so insisting on bringing them together? Maybe Jack has very good reasons for not staying in contact with them.”
Sara sighed. “We will get married soon and I think his family has a right to know so that they can be there. They should be there! Besides, I'm getting tired of this discussion and of having to defend my ideas. Are you going to help me or not?”
Peter rolled his eyes. He never could say no to her. “Okay, I will see what I can do and what I can find out for you.”
“Thanks Peter,” she replied and smiled at him gratefully. “You really are a true friend.”
Taylor sat on the backseat of a cab, on her way to the ice hall. She was on the verge of screaming from frustration because they were stuck in a traffic jam. The girl bent forward and asked the driver, “Is there no shortcut?”
“Not at the moment.”
Another thought rose, which made Taylor inquire, ”How far is it from here to the ice hall?”
The driver had a look into the rearview mirror and knew what she was thinking. “About 15 minutes on foot.”
She nodded, fished her wallet out of her jeans and gave him 20 dollars. “You can keep the change,” she told him, opened the door and ran as fast as she could, straight to the ice hall.
Another tear rolled down her cheek and Elizabeth wiped it away quickly. She leaned back in her seat and stared out the tiny window next to her, but there was nothing to see, only clouds.
Gillian, who sat next to her, reached over and patted her knee. “Everything is going to be okay. I promise.”
Elizabeth turned her head to look at her and smiled weakly through her tears. “I really am glad that you could come with me.”
“No problem. I help where I can,” the doctor replied. “I thought it was very nice of Mr. Jones to give us his private jet.”
“Yes, otherwise I would still be at the airport without a ticket to Anchorage.”
Gillian nodded. “Mmh. I guess all flights were booked due to the Olympic Games.”
“I just hope we won't be too late. If I lose Sam... I wouldn't know what to do.”
“You should not think like that.”
Silence ruled, until after a while Gillian asked, “Doesn't Taylor have her big day today? The figure skating finals?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth nodded sadly. “But she's going to miss them. She's staying with Sam until we get there. The competition will be over by then. I feel so sorry for her. She's been working so hard for it. And now, she won't be able to make her dream come true.”
Nerve-wrecked, Michiru exhaled sharply and rolled her eyes in annoyance as the man came back to her.
With an expressionless face, he told her, “She has one more minute. If she doesn't appear until then, she's out.”
Michiru was about to shoot back a remark as Taylor burst into the hall, worn and completely out of breath. Not being able to hold herself back, the coach grinned broadly and replied with the sweetest voice, “Well, I think that matter has been solved.” With that, she left the man standing there and hurried over to her protégée, who was panting for breath and looked as if she would fall down any second.
After Elizabeth and Gillian had arrived at the hospital, they were greeted by a nurse, who was waiting for them with more bad news.
“What do you mean we can't go to her?” Elizabeth asked on the verge of a hysterical breakdown.
“They are preparing her for an emergency surgery.”
Shocked, Elizabeth closed her eyes. “What else can go wrong?”
Gillian turned to the nurse. “I am a doctor myself and I would like to be present during the operation.”
“I will ask the chief surgeon. Please, wait here.”
Elizabeth held the nurse back before she could leave. “I have a question. My little sister was staying here with Samantha. Where is she?”
The shrugging of shoulders was her answer. “I'm sorry, I can't help you with that.” She disappeared into the room, where Samantha was lying on the table.
Elizabeth leaned her forehead against the glass of the door, fighting tears. Under all the tubes and machines, she almost couldn't make out Samantha's beautiful face. “Hang on, my darling... I love you... I'm here...”
Completely lost in thought, Dorian was sitting on the couch.
Victoria's head was resting on his lap and her face bore a dreamy-eyed expression. She loved the way, he was so tenderly stroking her forehead. “Dorian?”
“You are so quiet, honey. Is something bothering you?”
Dorian thought about it and then came to a decision. He needed to tell Victoria what he did find out via coincidence from Alexander. “Vicky, I have to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
He took a deep breath to gather all his courage in order to blurt it out. “I... I know... I know who your father is.”
“What?” She sat up and looked at him expectantly. “So? Out with it! Who is it?”
“It's not that easy. Many lives will change if you know...”
“Dorian, just tell me! Who is it?!” she demanded impatiently.
Like an echo, the words were reflected in her mind. She stared at him dumbfounded.
“Vicky? Are you alright?”
She was unable to answer.
Dorian grew concerned. “Vicky, darling? Can I help you? I know, I should have told you more carefully. I'm such an idiot. Please, forgive me.”
Victoria was still showing no reaction.
“Vicky! Please say something... anything! Scream or cry, but please, don't be silent...”
She rose and grabbed a couple of things, stuffing them into a bag. Still, she was not saying a word. Then, she walked to the door.
Dorian's eyes widened and he called out to her desperately, “Sweetheart, you are in shock... you shouldn't...”
“I want to be alone,” she told him quietly.
Victoria turned around with tears in her eyes. “Dorian, please.” She walked out.
Dorian bit his lip and then buried his face in his hands. “I knew I shouldn't have told her, at least not yet! Argh! I'm such an idiot!”
Taylor was dressed in her costume for the final free program and tied the laces of her skates. As she saw Michiru coming towards her, she tried to explain what had happened. The words wanted out all at once and so it was an incomprehensible mix of letters that gushed from the girl's mouth.
“Later,” her coach interrupted her quickly. “There is no time right now. It's your turn.”
Now that Michiru was looking at her in a certain way, Taylor realized what challenge lay ahead of her. It was the chance to make all her dreams come true, but at the same time it all could end in a horrible catastrophe. She felt her nerves flutter and her heart sank into her pants. “I c-can't,” she stuttered, staring wide-eyed at her coach. All courage had left her.
“I don't want to hear that again,” Michiru told her, tenderly grabbing the small shoulders in front of her. “You have the greatest talent I ever saw. I know that you will win today. You are the best in figure skating. Free your mind, let go of all fear and win this competition. You can do it.” She smiled at the girl, hugged her and patted her back in encouragement.
Taylor took a deep breath and stalked towards the ice.
Deafening cheers thundered from the audience.
Taylor slid to the middle of the hall and took her position. She tightened the headband that her mother had once braided for her father and thought of her family and friends.
The first sounds of Vanessa Mae's ‘I'm a doun' rang out and Taylor began her free program, highly concentrated.
The TV in the hospital's waiting area had been switched to a sports channel. Many people had their eyes glued to the screen, watching figure skating and listening to the remarks of the commentator.
The man sounded very excited as he announced, “And here is our young, American hope. In the qualifying and the short program, she was number one. Now, she could win the final with a perfect free program. Expectations are very high. It's a dramatic beginning. With a triple touloup and a double rittberger, she has a furious start and the way she does it, it looks so easy, as if this difficult combination of jumps is nothing... oh, and here is touloup number two... the expression of her performance is outstanding... now, she is preparing for the triple axel and... yes, she stands it without problem at all and follows it with another! Taylor Stuart has such a wonderful body language... her fingertips are stroking over the ice like a bird caressing the surface of a lake with its wings... wonderful. The next combination... triple axel and touloup... once again perfect! This young lady really knows how to express Vanessa Mae's music with her skating. Her gestures and mimic are in perfect harmony, showing how superior she is... now she is going through the pirouettes... oh my, I get dizzy from just looking at that... the next jump... another rittberger in perfection... Never ever have I seen such a program. She also has quite the acting talent... hmm, that might be a career to think about once she is tired of figure skating? Nah, we want to keep her and watch her for a long time to come. She is just awesome. So, let's go back to her outstanding and astonishing free program, full of wonderful expressions and emotions... She is preparing for the salchow, her so called ‘jump of fate'... will Taylor Stuart be able to do it? Will her nerves not fail her today? The triple salchow... Argh, that was close but she didn't touch the ice with her hand, she managed to stand it! She can't make a mistake or fall, else the gold medal would be lost to her... As graceful as a feather dancing in the wind, she is sliding over the ice... This young lady really is the only one, who can combine technical perfection and outstanding expression like that... I dare to say that she is in a league of her own... now follows the part with the highest difficulty level... the step combinations... the audience is cheering... there is actually a broad grin on Taylor's face as she is showing off what she can do with her feet... she is so quick about it too. one could think her feet would end up in a knot... she must have inherited this talent from her father Colin Stuart, who was an outstanding dancer... too bad, he cannot see his daughter today fore he would be so very proud... well, it really looks as if Taylor is on her way to the gold medal... here comes the last jump combination... she shows us a triple lutz paired with a triple flip... look at that!... Nobody jumps as high and lands as safely as she does... now she prepares for the final part of her show... the last pirouettes... and that's it... now we have to wait for the points... Taylor Stuart is beaming and waves at the audience... I wish, dear ladies and gentlemen, that you could see, hear and feel what's going on here. The applause is deafening... flowers and stuffed animals are being thrown on the ice. Completely out of breath but also very happy, Taylor Stuart is sitting on the bench, next to her coach Michiru Kasawaki. They are waiting for the decision of the judges... yes, Nicolette Valmy, who is currently holding the pole position has to be afraid...and here we go, the points... oh... for techniques she is getting from 5.9 to 6.0 from all judges and also for expression she is getting 5.9 to 6.0... something like that never happened before. That means, she made it! It's the gold medal for Taylor Stuart!”
Elizabeth didn't move away from the window, until Gillian left the room and came to her. “Gillian, what... how is Sam? She is going to make it, right?” she asked the doctor with tears in her eyes.
Dr. Lewis gave her a smile and announced, “She is out of the worst. They will put Sam into ICU and then we can go to her.”
Elizabeth was very relieved as she heard that and the pressure around her heart loosened. She sank against the wall and Gillian patted her shoulder friendly. “Let's go to the cafeteria,” the doctor ordered. “You need to eat something. I don't want you to have a breakdown.”
The blonde nodded. “I think that's a good idea.”
Waving and blowing kisses at the audience, Taylor left the ice hall and walked to the locker rooms.
Michiru had noticed that something wasn't right with her protégée, since she was gone the whole night. So, she tried to keep reporters and fans off the girl's back, because the last thing Taylor needed at the moment was giving interviews to nosy people.
It got calmer and quieter the longer the teenager walked along the corridors, but her mind wasn't quiet at all. “Well, now I've got the gold medal, but I can't be really happy,” she mumbled to herself. “Sammy, I hope you are okay and that Liz is there with you. Hopefully, Michiru will come soon so that we can get out of here as quickly as possible.”
Her locker room was in sight and she was just about to enter, as a voice rang out. “Congratulations!”
Surprised about this unexpected, sudden encounter, Taylor jerked. “Ohh... hi...”
“My child, you were so awesome!” the strange man gushed, smiling widely.
A bit embarrassed, Taylor looked at the floor. “Uh... thank you...”
“May I hug you?” the man inquired. “Please?”
Taylor looked at the stranger, whose shoulder-long, greasy hair was hanging into his face. She didn't want to get close to him at all.
He looked at her pleadingly and so she gave in. ‘It would be only for a second and then he'll leave me alone', she told herself.
Trembling, the man hugged the girl. Awkwardly, she patted his back, hoping that this was it and he would let go. His hand found his way over her back into her hair and stroked it. That was the point when it became uncomfortable for the girl and she pushed him quickly away. She didn't notice that he had pulled off her headband and stuffed it into his pocket. “Well... uh... it was nice meeting you... but I really have to go now.”
The man stared at her and tears welled up in his eyes.
“I... I really need to go home. Thanks for the congratulations. It's always a pleasure to know that one has fans.” With that she fled into her locker room and leaned against the closed door, not knowing that she had come face to face with a man she should actually be very afraid of.
He still stood in front of the door, holding on to the headband in his pocket. “That's right, my child.” He grinned. “You need to go home and I will make sure that it happens soon.” Turning around, he left the building.
Samantha's room was mostly cast in darkness, only the lights of a few monitors were illuminating it. Her eyes were closed while she rested and recovered from the surgery. Slowly, she came out of the narcotic haze that was veiling her senses. The ECG was beeping constantly.
Carefully, the door was opened, a dark shadow slipped into the room and the door was closed again. Silently, the shadow crept towards Samantha's bed. He bent over the young woman, holding a knife in his hand. Dried blood was still stuck to the blade. His grip tightened around the knife's handle.
Suddenly, Samantha's eyes flew open. Fear was clearly visible on her features as she became aware of the dangerous situation. She was paralyzed and couldn't move, even though everything inside her screamed to reach for the call button that would bring help in the matter of a second.
The shadow above her smiled and whispered, “Remember me? Now I'm going to end what I couldn't finish the last time we met.” He raised the knife and a lone tear rolled down her cheek. ‘I love you, Liz,' was the last thought that raced through her mind before the knife came down.
In that moment, the door opened and banged against the wall. Not thinking twice about the consequences, Elizabeth took in the situation and bravely jumped on the man's back, wrapped her arms around his neck and held on as tightly as she could.
Gillian, who was behind her, left the room to find the security people.
Inside the room began a wild wrestling match for the weapon. While Elizabeth was trying to beat the knife out of the man's hand, he was trying to shake the blonde off his back. During their bizarre dance, his back crashed against the machines and the blonde screamed in pain from the hard impact.
Samantha could do nothing but lay there and watch, an expression of absolute terror in her eyes.
Again and again, the man hammered Elizabeth against the machines until the pain became too much and she couldn't hold on, sliding off his back. Giving her an annoyed glare, he turned back to Samantha.
Blood was dripping from Elizabeth's nose, but with the greatest of efforts, she managed to get back on her feet. Her eyes wide with fear, she staggered to the bed. She saw that he raised the knife again to stab her lover and yelled, “NOOOOOO!!!” Elizabeth reached him with a desperate jump, grabbed the hand that held the long knife and bit down as hard as she could.
Roaring in pain, the man let go of the weapon and shoved Elizabeth away from him.
The blonde crashed into a small table. She saw stars as her head collided with the hard wooden edge. She slid to the floor, unmoving.
Samantha could see her fallen form from the corner of her eyes and this time her fingers finally moved and she pressed the call button.
Cursing, the man shook his hand, looking in disbelief at the deep, bleeding marks that Elizabeth's teeth had left behind. Then he knelt down, his hands searching for the knife that had clattered to the floor during their fight. He found it under the bed and rose. “No, let's end it once and for all,” he growled.
Samantha knew she was staring into the face of inevitable death.
Meanwhile, Taylor had let Michiru into the locker room. She also had informed her on everything that happened the past afternoon and night. “We have to go to the hospital immediately!”
Michiru agreed and quickly, they packed their things.
Taylor threw her costume together with other things into her bag, not noticing at the moment that her father's beloved leather headband was missing.
Michiru shut the lid of her cell phone and announced, “I called us a cab. It's waiting at the back exit.”
The girl's eyes traveled once more throughout the room, making sure that she wasn't leaving anything behind. “Okay, let's go.”
Taking her shoulders, Michiru held her back. “I need to tell you something. I am so very proud of you. Despite everything you pulled through.” She gave her a little kiss on the forehead.
“Thank you,” Taylor replied and then they were on their way to the back exit.
Samantha had just made her peace and squeezed her eyes shut, but her life was not forfeit. Two men of the hospital security stormed into the room and tackled the attacker, overwhelming him. They put him into cuffs, took the knife and led him away. “The police has been informed. They will be here in a couple of minutes to arrest him,” one of the men said to Dr. Lewis, who was taking care of Elizabeth.
Gillian nodded briefly and turned back to the blonde.
Samantha tried to sit up in the bed in order to see better. The only thing she heard from her love was painful groaning.
With Gillian's help, Elizabeth managed to scramble back to her feet and she staggered towards Samantha's bed. Panting, she supported herself on the bed's frame. One look into each other's eyes was enough to make both women burst into tears.
The flickering neon light of a broken sign in front of the run-down motel cast the tiny room one time in red and another time in green light.
The man was sitting on the bathroom floor and banged his head against the door. “Lawrence, you idiot!” he cursed himself and again his forehead collided with the door in self-punishment. “Lawrence, how could you forget to bring flowers for your child? Damn it!” He rose and lay down on the bed, staring at the stained ceiling in despair. “Soon, everything will change for the two of us. As soon as I am in Los Angeles, we will begin our life together. You and I. I will take you away from the area of lies you were forced to live in. Now you will live with your true father.” He pulled the headband from his pocket and snuggled his cheek against it. “I can't wait to hold you in my arms again... my child... soon...”
As Taylor and Michiru arrived at the hospital, they were immediately greeted by Gillian. She told them everything that had happened.
While Michiru shook her head in disbelief, the teenager stared wide-eyed at the doctor. “And now? What's going to happen with the guy?” she asked. “I hope he will rot in jail forever. Sam almost died... he probably would have killed Liz too.”
“I don't think it was a simple robbery,” Michiru chimed in. “I mean, nobody knew, who he was. Neither Taylor nor Sam could tell the police what he looked like... why did he come back into the hospital to really kill Sam?”
Gillian shrugged her shoulders. “I honestly don't want to know what's going on in the heads of weirdos like that.”
Taylor turned to her coach. “You think, he was planning the deed and actually really wanted to kill her? But how can that be?”
“Calm down,” Michiru told her gently. “Let the police do their work. I'm sure they will find out what's going on and what his motives were.”
Dr. Lewis agreed with the coach. “That's right. Let's go see Sam and Liz.”
Samantha and Elizabeth were alone in the room, holding hands in silence. The brunette lay on her bed and the other woman sat on the edge, her right arm wrapped up in a bandage.
“You know what scared me the most, Liz?” Samantha asked quietly.
“It wasn't the fear of dying...”
Elizabeth' eyebrows rose in surprise. “No?”
“No. The worst was the thought... of never being with you again...”
“Oh Sam...” Elizabeth choked. “It was the same for me. When I heard about you being attacked... and then what happened just now... oh please, let's talk about something else.”
“Okay. Liz, I have to ask you a question,” Samantha replied.
“Yes? What is it, honey?”
“Liz, would you...” the brunette was unable to finish her sentence, because Taylor, Michiru and Gillian chose that moment to enter the room.
Taylor raced towards her sister and hugged her tightly, minding her hurt arm. Then she looked at Samantha and back at the blonde. “I was so worried.”
Elizabeth smiled and tenderly brushed some hair off the girl's forehead. “We are fine.”
Samantha reached for Taylor's hand and squeezed it softly. “Hey little ice princess. You are already done? How did it go?”
Frowning, Elizabeth looked at her lover and then she realized what she was talking about. “Right, the Olympic Games. Yes, sweetie, how did it go?”
Instead of answering, the teenager just pulled the gold medal from beneath her sweater, grinning broadly.
“Awesome!” Elizabeth exclaimed happily and embraced her little sister so hard, Taylor feared she had broken a couple of ribs.
“That's so great,” Samantha said. “I knew you could do it.”
“Yes, it's just bad that we can't be home to celebrate with the others.”
“Awww, don't pout sweetie,” Elizabeth responded and disheveled her sister's hair again. “As soon as Sam is better, we will be out of here. Mr. Jones lent us his private jet so we can fly out whenever we want.”
“That's cool. I can't wait because I soooooo wanna go home.”
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