FIUR and VLAMME
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Soaked with sweat, Taylor jerked awake and sat up. “Daddy!” Her head was pounding strongly and she felt dizzy. Carefully and slowly, she rose from the bed and scanned her surroundings.
She staggered and had to hold on to the wall to keep from falling down. “My head...” she mumbled. “It feels as if it is going to explode any moment.”
Taylor blinked a couple of times, but most of the things she saw were still blurry around the edges. “Damn, there is something wrong with my eyes.”
The room contained a huge four poster bed, a couch, a table with four chairs and a chest of drawers. Everything was colored in pink. “Where the hell am I?” she wondered.
Then, the girl discovered a big and a small door. She tried to open the big one first, but it was tightly locked. The other door could be opened, but to Taylor’s disappointment it only led to a small bathroom without another door or even a window. The teenager flung the door shut and looked around the room once more. “Where am I? This must be some weird joke... where is the hidden camera? Maybe I’m being ‘punk’d’ or something stupid like that...”
All of a sudden, she remembered the past evening and what had happened while she was on the way to Sara. Her face paled. “The rain... on the way to Sara... the strange car! He forced me off the road!”
Taylor’s heart sped up as she remembered the face of the strange man, who had given her a shot. “Oh no, no! I’ve got to get out of here!” She ran to the locked door and pulled at the knob with all her might. “HELP! HELP! CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME? HEEEEELP!!!”
“Shhhh...” Samantha whispered softly before she took the cool cloth off Elizabeth’s forehead.
The blonde rose from the couch and rubbed her temples. “Did I really just experience that?” she asked.
Samantha nodded, frightened.
Elizabeth pressed a hand to her mouth to suppress a scream and tears ran down her cheeks. “That can’t be true! SAM! Please, tell me that nothing happened to Taylor!” She noticed that the other woman’s eyes darted away, searching for help on the faces of Christopher and Karen.
Nervously, Elizabeth turned around and looked at Christopher’s serious expression. She grew more and more restless. “What is it? Talk to me!”
Christopher cleared his throat. “Taylor... Taylor wasn’t found at the scene of the accident.”
Elizabeth felt her legs gave way and she almost slid to the floor, but Samantha managed to catch. “What? How can that be? That’s impossible! The stupid police must not have searched right!” She rubbed her forehead, thinking hard. “Let’s go to the place where they found the motorcycle. I bet Taylor is lying there somewhere, hurt and scared to death!”
“Please, Liz, stop it,” Christopher begged. “You know that what you just said isn’t true.” He grabbed her upper arms and shook her a bit. “Taylor is gone.”
Smiling happily, Lawrence went to the cash register at the grocery store, putting all his stuff on the belt. He hummed to himself.
Behind him stood a tall man whose cell phone rang and he picked up. “Jack Carpenter... oh, hi Sam... WHAT?”
Lawrence jumped at the outcry and looked at the man for a second before he turned back to his cart.
“Yes... I will... I’m on my way... I’ll be there soon... bye, Sam.” Jack hung up and put his cell phone into his pocket, brooding. His eyebrows rose in surprise as he became aware of how much the man in front of him was putting at the register.
Lawrence smiled in embarrassment as he noticed Jack’s glances. “For my daughter,” he explained.
Jack returned his smile. “I can only hope that she is not planning on eating this all at once.”
“No, no,” Lawrence laughed. “My little one moved in with me just yesterday. We have been apart for many many years and I don’t know yet what she likes so I thought I would buy a little bit of everything. I want my sunshine to feel comfortable.”
“Oh, that’s nice.” Tense, Jack nodded. “Excuse me, but I have to go. Sorry, but it’s taking too long for me.” He looked around and found a cash register without a line. Moving past Lawrence, he told him. “Have a nice day and fun with your daughter.”
“Thank you,” Lawrence smiled. “We sure will have that.”
Her heart pounding out of control, Sara stood in front of the Stuarts’ house. She was undecided if she should dare to ring the doorbell or just leave again.
Victoria chose that moment to arrive and both women looked at each other, very surprised.
Sara felt the jealousy rise again, the exact feeling she had had a few weeks ago as she saw the former model coming out of Jack’s hospital room. “What do YOU want here?” Sara hissed.
The other woman was taken aback by the tone, but she replied, “It’s none of your business. It’s a family matter.”
“Family matter?” Sara scoffed. “Yes, you have to mess with every happy family... and destroy it.”
“What? No... I...”
“You scheme-forging bitch! You destroyed Jack’s and my life... are you going to continue with the Stuarts now?”
“Stop it,” Victoria told her. “That’s not true.”
Sara crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Oh really? Then what was that situation with Chris or as you told Taylor all these lies about me to break up our friendship?”
“But that’s past,” Victoria sobbed. “I’m a different person now.”
Sara laughed. “Yeah right. You will never change. You destroy everyone that gets close to you.”
“Please, let me try to explain,” Victoria begged, tears streaming down her face. “The Stuarts...”
“You are the last thing the Stuarts need right now!” Sara cut her off.
Appalled, Victoria could only stare at her. Then, she turned around and fled.
Sara was confused and speechless about that reaction, but she didn’t want to concern herself with her nemesis any longer. Quickly, her thoughts turned back to Taylor and her mysterious vanishing.
Thinking hard, Taylor restlessly paced the room that was her prison. “I have to get out of here, wherever here is, as quickly as possible, before the lunatic returns. There is no window, only the locked door. I have to get that to open somehow.” Searching, she looked around. “There has to be something I could use to break it open.”
The teenager went through every nook and cranny of the room, but didn’t find anything. “This guy must have thought about everything. He must have been planning this for a long time.”
As she went once more through the chest of drawers, her eyes fell on a framed black and white picture. It showed the man, but he was much younger and a little blonde girl. They stood on a meadow among many blooming flowers. He was reaching for the girl and she smiled at him. “What is the meaning of this?” Taylor wondered.
Sympathetically, Karen looked at Elizabeth, who sat on the couch between Christopher and Samantha, her face buried at the brunette’s shoulder. “I have to go,” she whispered to her husband. “The twins are waiting.”
Christopher nodded. “Okay. I’ll stay here.”
“No,” Samantha shook her head. “It’s okay. It’s of no use if we all just sit around here. You go home to your sons.”
For a moment Christopher was still hesitating, but in the end, he gave in.
He wanted to say something, but Samantha was quicker. “Yes, the second we have any news, we will call.”
“Okay,” Christopher replied, hugged his sister and stroked her back a last time. Then he left with his wife.
Outside they met Sara, who was still standing undecided in front of the entrance door. “I have to talk with Liz,” she blurted.
“She is in the living room with Sam,” Karen said slowly.
“But she is not in a very good condition. I don’t know if that is such a great idea right now,” Christopher added thoughtfully.
“I have to talk with her,” Sara insisted. “It’s very important.”
“Go in then,” the artist said.
Sara entered the house, after Karen and Christopher had left. She went to the living room.
Samantha was whispering to Elizabeth and kissed her forehead as Sara cleared her throat and began hesitatingly, “Uh... h-hi...” A lump had formed in her throat, making it hard to talk.
Both women looked at her.
Sara noticed their swollen, red-rimmed eyes and the vise around her heart tightened. In a trembling voice, she stuttered, “I... I r-really am s-so very s-sorry. It’s a-all my fault.”
At first there was only silence, but then Elizabeth exploded and attacked her verbally. “YES! You are right! IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT!” She rose from the couch and grabbed the young woman’s shoulders, shaking her hard. “If only you wouldn’t have asked her to drive her motorcycle in the damn rain, she would be...” She stopped. “No, I will not think that.” Elizabeth glared hatefully at Sara. “You... you...” Her arm rose as if to hit Sara.
“Liz, stop it!” Samantha shouted before Elizabeth would really do something that she would fiercely regret later.
Unable to take it anymore, Sara ran from the house as the blonde let go of her shoulders. Crying, she sat down on the stairs. She pulled her knees to her chest and leaned her forehead against them, her hands holding her head.
Jack came around the corner and stopped. Torn by his feelings, he slowly walked up the stairs. Sighing, he stopped in front of the door and turned around. He noticed that Sara was still wearing the engagement ring. Jack was about to go to her and rub her back, as the door opened and Samantha stepped out.
“She is in the living room,” she told him quietly and with a nod he entered the house.
Sitting down next to the distraught girl on the stairs, Samantha said, “I had hoped that you would still be here. Believe me, Sara, Liz didn’t mean to freak like that. It’s just... the whole situation is very hard for her.”
Sara looked up and into Samantha’s blood-shot blue eyes. “But she is right. It is all my fault and I can’t forgive myself.”
Samantha wanted to reply, but Sara jumped up and left with the words, “I can’t be in Liz’ sight. Not as long as Taylor isn’t back safely.”
Samantha’s shoulders sagged and she watched her go. “Oh Taylor, where are you? We all are so worried.”
Lawrence was still humming happily as he entered the secluded cabin and carried in the groceries. He pressed his ear against the door that led to Taylor’s room and remarked, “I don’t know what you like so I got a little bit of everything. Oh, there is so much time we need to make up for, my precious daughter...”
Taylor stood on the other side and her eyes widened with fear as she heard his words. “My precious daughter?” she repeated quietly to herself. “This is one freaky nightmare.” Then, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “I WANT TO GO HOME!!!”
Chuckling, Lawrence answered, “You are at home, my sweet. Nothing can tear us apart.”
Taylor thought her heart would stop.
A key was stuck into the hole and turned. “I’m coming in,” Lawrence announced. “You must be starving.”
Frightened, the girl stared at the door that opened slowly. She retreated and banged against the table. Her eyes fell on the wooden chairs and she reached for one. Holding on to it tightly, she retreated even more, until her back hit the wall. She kept the chair in front of her, using it like a shield.
Lawrence entered and was a bit astonished that she was hiding from him.
Taylor’s gaze flitted about and found the open door. Her whole body tensed and as she was about to just start running, the strange man closed the door and locked it from inside. The teenager pressed her body even more against the wall.
Lawrence put the bags on the table and observed her. “You have to be hungry. You didn’t eat anything since yesterday.”
“Yesterday?” she asked surprised. “I’ve been here a whole day already?” Her watch was gone and there was no clock in the room. The girl had nothing, which could be used to keep track of the time.
He frowned. “Yes. I’ll leave you alone now.” Then, he added in a more friendly tone, “After all the time they kept us apart, it is understandable that we need to get to know each other again.” Lawrence left the room without problem, because Taylor didn’t dare to do or say something rash.
After a moment, she let go of the chair and then she heard her tummy rumble. Taylor was very hungry.
“I’ll stay until Dr. Lewis gets here,” Jack said quietly.
“I don’t understand why it’s taking her so long,” Samantha commented.
“I called her while I was driving over here and informed her.”
They were interrupted as the doorbell rang.
Samantha sighed, “I hope that’s her.” She rose and opened to let Gillian in.
The doctor was a bit out of breath. “I came as quickly as I could. Where is she?”
“Upstairs in the bedroom,” Samantha answered and pointed in direction of the stairs.
“Okay. I’ll go and see what I can do.”
Jack and Samantha said goodbye in the entrance hall. “I will go now,” Jack stated. “But, if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me, okay?”
The brunette nodded and tried to smile. “You can bet on that.”
Jack hugged her and then he left.
Samantha climbed the stairs to talk with Dr. Lewis, who just came back from the bedroom.
“So? How is she, Gillian?”
“I gave her something to calm down and she will sleep now till tomorrow morning.”
Gillian looked at her, full of sympathy. “I’m so sorry.”
“Stay with her now, Sam. She needs you. Be her rock. I’ll let myself out.”
Carefully, Samantha entered the bedroom and looked at Elizabeth.
The blonde was slumbering peacefully, as if nothing had happened.
Then her eyes fell on the packed bags for their honeymoon. She began to unpack them with a heavy heart. Once she was done, she lay down beside her wife and pulled her into her arms. “My Angel... my poor Angel...” she whispered, lovingly holding and rocking her.
Nervously, Dorian fiddled with a pen, constantly pressing the button at its end. He couldn’t think about anything else than his father and his half-sister Sara. Dorian was so lost in thought that he didn’t notice when Victoria came home.
He jerked in surprise as she suddenly lay down on his lap, looking up at him with wounded, brown eyes. “Vicky. I thought you wanted to visit the Stuarts?”
“I was there,” she told him. “But that nasty bitch Sara was there and tore into me like crazy. I ran away. She completely freaked!”
“It probably was a misunderstanding.”
“No,” she defended herself, shaking her head. “She brought up all this old stuff.”
Dorian cleared his throat. “Well, to put it mildly... you were a bit of a beast... then. And now that she and Jack are not together anymore... She probably didn’t mean it. She just got upset and needed to let off some steam. I think you just were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were the unfortunate person, she used as a vent.”
Victoria frowned. “Why are you defending her so much, Dorian? Am I your girlfriend, or...” Her eyes widened with sudden realization. “It’s not what I think it is... or is it?”
Dorian waved her off. “No, no. It is...”
“What?” she demanded, her eyes blazing threateningly.
“Sara is my sister.”
Victoria blinked in surprise.
“Matthew Thomas Jones is our father. It was revealed when they tested my blood for the bone marrow donation.”
“Does she know?”
“No,” Dorian shook his head. “Sara doesn’t know it yet, but I think the time has come for her to hear the truth. It’s of no use to keep it from her any longer. I’m going to tell her.”
***** A FEW DAYS LATER *****
It was still early morning at the Stuarts’ house as the doorbell rang.
Sleepy-eyed, but full of hope, Samantha raced down the stairs, still clad in her pajamas and flung the door open.
A cloud of nasty smelling, blue smoke greeted her. Instantly, her eyes teared and she had to cough.
Bending over from the strong coughing urge, Samantha’s eyes fell on a pair of extremely high-heeled pumps. Her gaze wandered upward over long, slender legs that ended on a short black skirt with matching blazer. Samantha looked into cool, blue-gray eyes and then found herself fascinated by a pair of blood-red lips.
The stranger also scrutinized her up and down. Then she let go of the lit cigarette and stepped on it to extinguish it.
Expectantly, Samantha looked at the woman in front of her. “Yes?”
“Hello. I’m Adrienne Procter and that’s my partner, Simon Chapman.” The woman pointed behind her and out of the shade of a tree stepped a man. He had short gray hair and a friendly smile on his face. Simon nodded at Samantha in greeting.
Ms. Procter continued, “And who are you?”
“My name is Sam but I don’t think that’s any of your business.”
The strange woman took a card out of her pocket and held it under Samantha’s nose. Smiling smugly, she added, “I forgot to tell you that we are with the FBI, didn’t I. We are here to solve the Taylor Stuart case.”
“FBI?” Samantha stared at her, dumbfounded.
“We would like to talk with Elizabeth Stuart,” Agent Adrienne Procter said, impatiently.
Samantha didn’t like the woman’s behavior but she asked them to come inside.
The agents were just about to do that when Dorian appeared. His questioning gaze met that of Agent Procter and immediately she asked him, “Do I know you?”
Dorian shook his head.
“Yes, you do seem very familiar,” she insisted.
Again, Dorian shook his head.
“Your name isn’t Jarod?”
“No. My name is Dorian Turunen.”
Samantha turned to the young man. “What is it Dorian? It’s a bad timing for a visit.”
“Have you seen Sara?” he wanted to know.
“She’s not at home and nobody knows where she is.”
Samantha thought about it. “Try the beach. She used to go there often with Taylor.”
Samantha noticed that Ms. Procter observed everything closely and it seemed as if she would take notes in her mind, while Simon scribbled things down on a small pad. Again, she asked the agents to enter and they followed her into the house.
The seemingly endless days went by in the same monotonous fashion. At least, Taylor thought it were days, but it was hard to tell without a clock or connection to the world outside just how much time had gone by. She also became more and more frightened of her kidnapper.
Taylor lay on the bed and stared off into space. ‘I have to flee. I have to find a way to get away from this lunatic. I don’t want to eat with him anymore and I don’t want to listen to his crazy stories any longer.’
The last time they had eaten together, the girl had managed to take a knife and hide it. Now, she pulled it from beneath the mattress and tip-toed to the door.
She pressed her ear against it, but couldn’t hear a sound. Taylor used the blade, trying to break the door open as she had seen it done in several movies where people used a credit card to do that. “Come on, Taylor. Come on. You have to hurry!” she urged herself on.
Then, she heard a door close.
“Oh no, he’s coming back,” she whispered nervously. “Damn it!” Taylor tried to pull the knife out of the door where it had gotten stuck. It didn’t work. “Shit!”
The sound of footsteps came closer and the teenager managed to run to the bed, lay down and pretended to be asleep.
The door was unlocked and opened and the knife clattered to the floor. Lawrence stared at the blade and then at the girl.
Taylor sat up, almost holding her breath as she saw the angry glare he bestowed upon her. “STAY AWAY FROM ME!” she shouted desperately and began to tremble.
His eyes took in the shaking girl and he was confused. “Why Taylor? Huh? Why do you want to destroy everything?”
She didn’t answer.
Lawrence still stared at her and then he came to a decision. “I really am very very sorry, but I will tie you up until you have really settled in.”
“What?! No! No!”
“You should have thought about that before,” he told her sympathetically. “My poor child. I have to raise you and teach you better manners. I think those pompous asses that you lived with forgot about that.”
“What is this all about?” Taylor wanted to know.
Lawrence fetched two ropes and tied her feet and hands.
“When it is time to eat, I will untie you, of course. I will cook something very delicious today. Every child likes pasta with tomato sauce and cheese. I think you will be no different.” Lawrence smiled and walked to the door. He turned around once more. “In case you need to use the bathroom, call me.” The door closed behind him and was locked again.
Taylor was about to cry when she looked down at her feet and hands. There was no way she would manage to free herself, but she would try.
Sara stood lonely at the end of the pier. There was nothing between her and the roaring sea. She was crying. “This has to come to an end... Now the time is right to finish this.” Sara had made up her mind.
She closed her eyes and suddenly she was grabbed from behind, a hand closed around her wrist and a voice said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Sara whirled around. “Dorian? Are you trying to kill me? I could have fallen!”
“But you didn’t,” he answered, grinning roguishly. “And I’m glad about it, because I’m not a very good swimmer.”
“What are you trying to tell me?” she frowned.
“I need to talk with you.”
“Really? Actually, I’m not in the mood to talk.”
“No?” He looked at her, cocking his head. “What were you planning on doing?” Sara was trying to think up something, but he answered for her, “To me it looked as if you were trying to tear off the ring together with your finger. Even though it is such a beautiful engagement ring.”
“Yes, okay. You are right,” she grumpily admitted. “I just can’t get it off. That’s the only reason why I’m still wearing it.”
Dorian lifted an eyebrow. “Of course.”
Nerve-wrecked, she rolled her eyes. “You didn’t come here to talk with me about that stupid ring, did you?”
“No. How would you like going for a walk on the beach?”
After a while, Sara remarked. “So? What is going on?” They sat down and she took a handful of the fine white sand, letting it run through her fingers.
Meanwhile, Dorian was thinking about the perfect choice of words. “What I have to tell you will change your... our lives.”
Sara frowned. Then her eyes widened in realization and she blushed a bit. “Uh... Dorian... I’m not ready for a new relationship.”
For hours, Taylor had been trying to get rid of the bonds. She clenched her teeth because the ropes were burning and cutting into her wrists. “Damn that hurts,” she hissed. “It burns like hell.”
The plates with pasta were still on the table. She had not eaten with the kidnapper because she found it repulsive and despair grew inside her with each passing second. “I’m so hungry but I can’t give in. I have to think about my family and friends. They must be worried sick about me.”
Taylor was trying to cut the rope that bound her hands on a metal edge of her bed. Then, she noticed that her hands and the rope had turned red. Wide-eyed, she stared at her wrists. “Oh shit, I’m bleeding!”
If he would not have been sitting already, Sara’s words would have made him fall. His face bright red, Dorian replied, “No. It’s nothing like that. I’m happy with Vicky.”
She wrinkled her forehead at that.
“Yes, I am. Even if you find that hard to believe. What I want to tell you goes in a completely different direction.”
“You are confusing me more and more, Dorian. Just tell me. It can’t be that hard.”
“Oh yes, it can.”
Sara sighed. “I’m not going to throttle you or rip your head off, no matter what it is. It wasn’t that long ago that you saved my life, you know?”
“That has something to do with it,” Dorian replied, seriously. “Let’s say, it was the trigger.”
“Now you are scaring me. Will the sickness come back?”
He shook his head. “No. It’s... Dr.Lewis found out something when they were testing my blood...”
“What?” Sara was getting impatient.
Dorian looked deeply into her eyes and blurted, “You are my sister.”
That confession struck Sara like a lightning bolt and she was rendered speechless.
“I am your half-brother,” Dorian continued. “Matthew is also my father.”
She could only stare at him.
“Please, Sara, say something. I know it’s unbelievable, but it’s true.”
“I need to be alone,” she responded quietly, before she rose and ran down the beach.
Dismayed, Dorian looked after her. “Why is it that women always run away from me when I’m telling them something important?”
***** A FEW DAYS LATER *****
Lawrence sat at the table, his fingers drumming nervously on the top of it, while Taylor sat opposite him on the bed.
Her wrists were bandaged and she looked at him with an expressionless face. For two, maybe three days, she was carrying out her new strategy. She refused to eat anything.
At a loss, Lawrence just sat there until he broke the silence. “It can’t go on like this,” he mumbled and pulled at his hair. “I can’t guard you every day and every night only to keep you from trying to flee into the nasty, bad world outside. I have stuff to do and I need to go shopping, my child.”
He rose and walked around the table, making wild gestures as he said, “And now, now you suddenly stopped eating... Taylor, my sunshine. Just what is wrong with you?”
The girl kept silent. She had given up fighting with Lawrence. She knew it would be of no use, because he was a psycho.
Tears welled up in Lawrence’s eyes and he asked her in a broken voice, “Why can you not feel comfortable with me? Why are you making it so hard to accept me as your Daddy? I know why... yes, yes... they brain-washed you.”
Excited, he knelt down in front of her and placed his hands on her knees. “Remember, my precious. You were five years old as your evil mother took you away from me. That whore just left Chicago without telling me anything.” His voice grew cold and hard and it scared Taylor even more. “I searched for you everywhere. You have to believe me, my little daughter... and then I saw you. On TV. My daughter had become a figure skater, a beautiful ice princess.”
Taylor was shocked.
“Nothing could hold me back,” Lawrence continued. “I always saved my money so that I could go to all your shows and competitions.” He smiled. “Yes, your Daddy was always with you and then I moved to L.A. so that I could always be close to you. I sent you letters and presents, but those criminals that called themselves your family always found them first and threw them away. And then came this tall woman with the long black hair. She never let you out of her sight...”
“Sam.” The name escaped the girl without intention
“Yes, yes,” Lawrence grumbled. He rose. “Now we have to come up with something that will take care of your sudden loss of appetite.” He sighed. “It seems I will have to force you before you kill yourself.”
“SO WHAT?” Taylor shouted angrily.
Lawrence shook his head. “No. That would hurt me tremendously. Mhh... but I could...”
Taylor pricked up her ears as a nasty though reared its ugly head.
“Yes, I will kill your friend Sam, if you don’t eat!”
“You wouldn’t dare!” the teenager hissed outraged.
He scowled at her. “Try me. You should know by now that your Daddy doesn’t lie. I’m not going to be a bad example like those people you lived with.”
She could see in his eyes that he really meant what he said and the ever present fear rose and spread throughout her body.
“Will you eat?” he asked.
Taylor lowered her head and replied quietly, “Yes.”
Lawrence was relieved and exclaimed happily, “See? That was easy, wasn’t it? Come and join me at the table. Let’s have breakfast. I bought your favorite cornflakes.”
Reluctantly, the girl got up and sat down on a chair.
FBI Agent Simon Chapman sat in an armchair in the living room of the Stuarts’ house, while his partner Adrienne Procter stood on the deck and lit another cigarette.
Elizabeth opened the glass door and walked to her. The blonde was a horrible sight. Her face was gaunt and pale and she had huge dark rings under her eyes. “Did you find out anything?” she asked the woman.
Agent Procter blew out a cloud of smoke before she looked down at the small blonde. “Yes, indeed. We found out something.”
“So, tell me!” Elizabeth urged.
“We managed to save some tire marks at the site of the accident.”
“What? What kind of tires? To which car do they belong? Who’s the owner?” Elizabeth shot out one question after the other.
“Slow down, Ms. Stuart. We don’t know about the car yet.”
“But what... argh, it’s hopeless! Taylor is probably dead already!”
Samantha heard her wife’s outburst and hurried to her side to take her into her arms. “Shhhhh. Don’t think like that,” she told her and glared darkly at the FBI agent.
The agent just shrugged her shoulders and took another drag of her cigarette.
Simon joined them outside. “There is hope. The tires are very old and that brand is not produced anymore. It’s only a matter of time until we have him.”
“BUT WE DON’T HAVE TIME!!!” Elizabeth yelled. “Taylor’s been gone for a long time already...” Crying, she hid her face at Samantha’s chest.
Adrienne wanted to say something but her partner shook his head, indicating that they should just leave.
Taylor was trying to swallow the last bite of breakfast without throwing up.
Lawrence rose and went outside.
Suspiciously, her eyes followed him, but he came back inside immediately, holding a huge pair of hedge clippers.
‘The door... it’s still open,’ she thought to herself.
“So, I’m going to take off the rope on your feet, but you have to promise to be a good girl.”
Taylor nodded wildly.
He cut the rope with the clippers and at the same time, Taylor picked up a plate and as he knelt down in front of her, she hit him with it on top of his head. The plate broke into pieces and cut his skin.
Lawrence screamed, fell on his side and held his head.
Taylor jumped up and ran to the wide open door. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as badly hurt as she had thought and he caught up with her, grabbing her hips. She struggled with all her might in his grip but it was useless.
Growling angrily, he wrestled her down and carried her back to the bed.
Taylor curled up there, shaking with fear and crying. She didn’t know what he would do now.
Lawrence went outside and came back with a long, heavy iron chain. An open iron ring was hanging on one end.
The man was bleeding from the broken plate and the blood ran over his face, giving him the appearance of a demon. “I wish I wouldn’t have to do this, but you don’t give me any choice.” Lawrence closed the iron ring around her foot and attached the chain to a pipe that ran along the wall behind the bed.
He wiped some blood of his face and looked at it. “I think, I’ll have to go to see a doctor...” Without sparing the girl another glance, Lawrence left the room and locked the door behind him.
***** A FEW DAYS LATER *****
The doorbell rang and Samantha opened the door.
It was the FBI agents.
Before Agent Procter could open her mouth to say something, her partner asked, “Good morning. May we come in, please? It’s very important.”
“Of course,” Samantha replied excited, thinking that maybe they had good news and this nightmare would finally be over.
They went to the living room, where Elizabeth lay tiredly on the couch. She was very pale and had lost weight. She struggled to sit up but Simon smiled at her and shook his head. “It’s alright, Ms. Stuart. You don’t need to get up.”
“Do you have good news?” she inquired quietly.
“What my partner is trying to say is that we contacted a profiler,“ Agent Procter chimed in. “Our experts came to the conclusion that we are dealing with a case of kidnapping. Now we are waiting for the culprit to call and demand money. That’s why we will listen in to all your phone conversations and so on.”
“Are you really sure?” Elizabeth wanted to know. “After all this time? Shouldn’t the kidnapper have contacted us right after the deed?”
“Well, there are psychos that act a little different than others,” Adrienne stated.
Elizabeth's eyes widened. “Psychos?”
Samantha suddenly had an idea. “What about a stalker?”
Elizabeth stared at her wife.
“There was a stalker...”
“And you tell us about it now?” Adrienne exclaimed.
The blonde managed to sit up finally and glared darkly at the FBI Agent. “I was at the police station then, when the letters came and this guy broke into our house.”
“And?” Agent Procter raised her eyebrows questioningly.
Angrily, Taylor's sister jumped off the couch. “Nothing! They told me there wasn’t anything they could do since it was just some crazy guy, who wrote a couple of letters. And now... now... this bastard has Taylor!”
Samantha held on to Elizabeth and made her sit down on the couch, because she feared that otherwise her emotional distraught wife would physically attack the agent.
Calmly, Adrienne took a drag from her cigarette that she had lit during the blonde's outburst. “The letters... do you still have them? Could I see them?”
“I left them at the police station,” Elizabeth growled.
“Good. I can get access to them there.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Everything possible to find your little sister,” Agent Procter answered. She nodded at Simon and the FBI agents went to the door.
“We will call you if we have any news,” Agent Chapman promised and with that they left the Stuarts’ house.
Elizabeth looked at Samantha and whimpered, “I don’t know for how much longer I can hold on. It kills me not to know what happened to her.”
“I know, Angel,” Samantha responded, holding her tightly. “The situation is taking its toll on us all.”
“I don’t think they are going to find her.”
Samantha looked at her, shook her head and tenderly wiped her tears away. “Never give up hope.”
“That’s easier said than done,” Elizabeth sobbed in despair.
Again the doorbell rang. Samantha looked at her watch. “That will be Karen. I have to go.”
“Yes, that’s right. I almost forgot but you have an appointment with Gillian today.”
The doorbell sounded now constantly and was accompanied by heavy knocking.
A small laugh escaped Elizabeth. “You better let her in before she tears down the whole house while trying to get in.”
“Okay, Angel. Until later.” Bending down, she gave her wife a soft kiss and then went to open the door for Karen.
“Boah,” Karen exclaimed. “That took forever! Were you sleeping, or what?” Her eyes found Elizabeth. “God, she looks horrible.”
Samantha hugged her in greeting and whispered into her ear, “Try and see if you can get her to eat something. I’ll be back in about two hours.”
“Alright. Till later, Sam.”
Victoria lay on the black leather couch in Dr. Lunaris’ office. “So, Victoria. Tell me about your visit with your siblings,” Elias said.
“It was a complete disaster,” she grumbled.
“Why? What happened?”
Nervously, Victoria fiddled with her fingers and confessed, “I didn’t even get close to them. Sara, that stupid bitch, was waiting for me in front of the entrance door. She attacked me verbally. She said so many bad things that I just ran away. I think, I should go about this whole thing differently. I mean, if I were to go there and would say, ‘Hello, in case you didn’t know, we have the same father and I would like to be a part of your family,’... I mean, seriously, they would just close the door into my face.”
Elias drummed his pencil against his notepad. “You are right about that. I think, I’ve got an idea.”
Victoria looked at him with eyes full of hope. “Let’s hear it.”
“Uncle William,” he suggested, smiling.
Questioningly, she wrinkled her forehead. “Uncle William?”
Elias nodded. “Yes. William Stuart.”
Lawrence sat in front of a hospital room, waiting for his turn. He had been at the hospital before, after Taylor had hurt him with the plate. Today was his appointment for a check-up exam. The stitches that had been put in to stem the flow of blood on his head were supposed to get taken out.
While he sat there, his thoughts were circling around Taylor. Lawrence just couldn’t understand why the girl didn’t want to finally accept him as her father. He gave it his greatest efforts to make her happy and to make her life as wonderful as possible, but still, the girl didn’t stop resisting or fighting him.
Lost in thought, he played with his keychain.
As the door to the room opened, he looked up and froze.
Samantha stepped out, followed by Dr. Lewis.
“If there is anything I can do to help you somehow, call me, okay?” Gillian asked. “And take good care of Liz. I’m beginning to worry about her condition. As soon as you have any news concerning Taylor, call me too, okay?”
Samantha hugged the doctor and promised she would do all that, while Lawrence stared hard at the floor and prayed that the dark-haired woman would finally disappear.
“Thanks for everything,” Samantha said to Gillian.
“No problem,” the doctor responded. “What are friends for, right?”
Samantha winked at her and said goodbye. As she passed by Lawrence, she gave him a brief glance and then left the hospital.
Lawrence released a relieved breath as soon as the woman was gone from his view. He looked up and right into Gillian’s smiling face. “Mr. Miller?”
“Ye-yes, Ma’am?” he stuttered in surprise.
“It’s your turn.”
“Good.” He rose and followed her to the room.
Victoria was putting clothes into a big suitcase as Dorian entered the room. Surprised, he looked at his lover. “You are packing? Where are you going?”
“Scotland,” came the short reply.
“Scotland? What do you want in Scotland?”
“To visit my Uncle.”
Dorian’s frown deepened. “You never told me that you have relatives in Scotland.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I didn’t know about it earlier myself. I will go to William Stuart. He is the brother of Colin, my real father.”
“Oh. I’m happy for you.”
She sighed and then grinned broadly. “Oooooh, I’m so excited. Finally, I will get to know more about my true family.” Victoria stopped as she noticed that he was staring at the floor. “What’s wrong with you?” she inquired tenderly. “You seem very dejected.”
“It’s because of Sara.”
Victoria rolled her eyes but he didn’t see that.
“I just don’t know how to get through to her...”
Not the slightest bit interested in her nemesis, the blonde exclaimed with a look at her watch, “WHAT? It’s that late already? I have to hurry or I will miss my flight.”
Samantha returned home and found Elizabeth in front of the TV. Tears were running down the blonde’s face and she sniffled while watching old home videos.
Karen rose from the couch and went to Samantha.
“Could you talk her into eating something?”
Karen only shook her head sadly. “I feel so helpless, Sam. If they don’t find Taylor anytime soon... this whole thing is going to destroy Liz. God, it’s such a horrible situation.”
“I know, but we must not give up hope,” Samantha replied strongly.
“Chris is also a nervous wreck, but he doesn’t show it as openly as Liz does.”
Samantha pulled the other woman into a hug. “As long as the family holds together then everything will be fine.”
“I hope you are right,” Karen answered. “I’ll go now. You call me if there is anything new, right?”
“You can bet on that.”
Karen left the house and Samantha joined her wife in the living room. She sat down next to her on the fluffy carpet and tenderly stroked her hair. “Angel?”
Swollen, red-rimmed eyes turned to her and gave her such a wounded look that Samantha’s heart broke all over again. “How would you like if we would have a nice bath and then eat something?” she asked softly. “I will cook us something very delicious.”
Elizabeth sniffled. “I don’t think I can swallow one bite but the bath sounds nice.”
“Liz, you have to eat,” Samantha insisted. “How will you be of any help to Taylor if you don’t have any strength left?”
“You really think that the FBI agents will find her?”
“Yes I do,” Samantha confirmed. “They might be a bit unusual, especially that Ms. Procter, who is a bit of a rude and vulgar character, but I do believe that they are going to find Taylor.”
Once more, Elizabeth burst into tears and the other woman pulled her into an embrace, trying desperately to console her.
“I can’t. I just can’t,” Elizabeth sobbed. “I cannot stand by and watch another member of my family get buried! First Mommy, then Daddy and now Taylor...”
Tortured, Samantha closed her eyes. “Please, don’t talk like that. As long as we don’t know for sure that Taylor is dead, she will come back to us. Please, Angel, please! Hang on to that positive thought!”
*****STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EPISODE...
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