Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental. The characters are fictional and of my own creation. The place, time, and incidents are purely fictional. Copyright © January 2004.
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Inevitable Destiny 5 – The Pain of Parting
Angela watched Samantha leave with an intense feeling of loss and a heart so heavy she was numb. She couldn’t move. Samantha’s cold words kept echoing through her mind like a final sentence.
"That should hold you for a day, Ms. Stephanos."
She had always assumed that Samantha would be mad at her, if they ever met again, and she thought she was prepared for that, but the total rejection of their past, good or bad, implicit in that single statement rocked her to the core. The coldness projecting from angry green eyes burned through her heart. Samantha hated her. She had seen it in her cold eyes, heard it in her words. Before this meeting, there had always been the possibility that they could work beyond it should they ever meet again, until the cold finality of that rejection.
"That should hold you for a day, Ms. Stephanos."
Samantha had let her know in that one small statement that she wanted nothing to do with her on any level and that as soon as she finished her job, she would be gone, without hesitation and without looking back.
Well, she had expected that, hadn’t she?
No, not really, not deep in her heart. Down deep, she had always hoped that Samantha would forgive her. She had suppressed it, along with all her feelings for the little blonde, but it had always been a little spark of hope buried deep in her heart.
The shock of seeing Samantha had subconsciously awakened the longing, the emptiness she had never quite been able to completely get rid of or hide from herself. What the hell was it about the petite woman that so affected her emotions? She’d known the little blonde, from the time she’d first appeared in her life, and kept her out of jail, until she had walked out of her life, a total of thirteen hours, and a good portion of that they had spent riding or sleeping. She figured their time together, where they actually interacted, was maybe an hour. An hour! She had known the blonde for a stinking hour, during most of which she had treated her terribly, and yet… from that very time to this, there was hardly an hour that didn’t pass when she didn’t somehow intrude into her life, and that was after a very concerted effort to forget her.
Angel’s life had been in total ruin when she met the blonde. Her brother virtually controlled her father’s company, though the old man really didn’t have a clue, thinking things were going along as usual. For a while she had been at the helm of the legitimate part of the business that her father saw, but she had found things, very disturbing things. She had quietly fixed some of the problems, she thought. Never, at that time dreaming that the real problem was Luca and that she no more than found and corrected one problem than he had moved the process that controlled it to something else and added more.
She had mostly found drugs coming in with shipments of other things from several countries. Luca caught her meddling almost before she acted to correct the problem and not only moved the real drug shipments to another route but created little diversions to keep his meddling little sister busy.
Then Juliana was in a terrible accident when a bus full of teens, who were coming home from a football rally, was struck by a semi rig. The driver, three teachers, and seven students were killed outright and virtually all nineteen other kids had been severely injured. It was the worst school bus accident in the state’s history.
Juliana received severe head trauma that damaged her developing mind and body. Both her legs were broken and so was her right arm. Three ribs were fractured and her pelvis was shattered. She was two years recovering and slowly, as she did recover it became heartbreakingly obvious that she would never completely heal, physically or mentally.
Their mother had a nervous breakdown, leaving their father to cope with the family tragedy, his wife’s emotional collapse, and his unwieldy business. He couldn’t do it. He was lost without the wife he adored and just could not handle the injuries to, or care of, his dearly loved youngest daughter.
Marcus, the youngest son started to hang with the wrong crowd during their financial crisis and during the family crisis he got worse and worse, then finally just left; yet another failure for her father to be burdened with.
At the same time the eldest son, who should have been his father’s greatest support, had pulled away after the financial crisis was averted and took to nightly wild parties, rapidly distancing himself from the business.
There was only one person left to pick up the pieces, and she had. She quit her dreams of finishing collage and took charge of Juliana, cared for her father, and did much of the daily drudgery of her father’s business so he could get back to what he did best, handling the warehouse and shipyard operations.
Weekends became a thing of the past and she often tumbled into bed well after one in the morning only to have to get up at four or five.
She did it. How, she really didn’t know to this day, but she did it, becoming head of the household, in charge of her sister’s care, and when she finally returned home, her mother’s. She worked in the office as accountant, bill collector, office manager, typist, information officer, paymaster, janitor, and delivery agent. Whatever was required that day that no one was available to do, she did. When she had a moment from all that, chances are she was on the dock running a forklift, tallying shipments, taking inventories and even working on a recalcitrant truck or van.
In all this time, her only time alone was when she straddled her powerful bike on her way to some other crisis in her father’s company. Her only solitude an infrequent, solitary ride into the country for a brief respite from the nearly overwhelming responsibilities.
Luca returned, married. Angela was ecstatic even though Luca’s wife turned out to be an irritating opportunistic bitch from the fires of hell. She immediately hated Angela and she never missed a chance to make her life miserable, but Angela tolerated it because Luca was back.
At first she welcomed him back because he jumped right in to help her and for the first time in a very long time she had a moment or two to herself, though more likely his help released her to do something else that needed doing.
She didn’t actually begrudge the work; in fact she reveled in it at times. Hard work didn’t bother her and she enjoyed most of it.
Things got better and she returned to college on a part time basis to get her degree in business so that she could be even more help to the father she idolized and the mother she adored.
Her big brother encouraged her, helping her find the time to follow her dream. Life was getting back on something of an even keel.
Then she found drugs in a shipment of coffee. The federal inspectors were on good terms with her father and her. Most of their time was simply used to verify that a shipment of thirteen widgets did in fact come from Spain. They pushed forms and kibitzed with the workers, letting the workers do the work. When a mandatory inspection was upcoming, to fill some quota or other, they always knew in advance and Luca saw to it that, that – and all other – shipments at that time were clean.
Angela found the drugs and thanked god it hadn’t been the federal agents that found them. She worked with her big brother to get rid of them and insure there were no more coming from that place. She searched for the culprit, receiving the drugs on this end, knowing that there was no way her father could possibly be involved. When she finally tumbled that Luca was behind the drugs, there had been a great row. She had threatened to turn him in unless he stopped it all.
Two days later Juliana disappeared.
Several weeks passed. Angela’s frantic searching for her, driving everyone involved crazy before Luca told her that he had Juliana and after a blindfolded trip he proved it. He said he would kill her if Angela said a single word.
Even with the threat against Juliana hanging over her head, things kept degenerating between Luca and her, until eventually she was forced away for a couple of years, helpless to do anything else. When she came back, things got worse and Luca finally gave her an ultimatum. If she stayed she would receive parts of Juliana, starting with her little finger, every month until she left. Again she could see it in his eyes. He would do it, and he would enjoy the pain he caused both Juliana and Angela.
She left again and on that trip she was rescued from her destructive inclinations by a small green-eyed blonde. They met and something profound seemed to happen. Before she realized what had really taken place or just where her brain had been parked, they were traveling together.
Angela knew that if Luca found out about the blonde, she would suffer. He would use her like he was using Juliana. He would kill her.
She had to make the blonde go away.
It had been one of the hardest, most painful things she had ever done.
She didn’t understand. She didn’t even really know the woman, yet getting rid of her was like carving her own heart out with a dull knife.
When it was done she traveled on in a daze, barely able to function.
One day she stocked up—until her bike was practically groaning—on supplies and disappeared in a piece of mountain wilderness that seemed almost pristine. She followed deer trails, nearly losing the heavy bike several times, the heavy road machine unsuited to rough trails.
She found a small clear stream near a little cave. The cave was an animal den that was long disused and she hid away from the world, away from the blonde, and away from herself for nearly a month. She ate very little and she did very little, except walk in the forest trying to heal the wound in her heart. The pain caused by the final incredibly hurt look in Samantha’s beautiful green eyes.
She cried. A lot. Anything could set her off because anything she did inevitably came back to the one person she had to forget. The person she didn’t even know.
The water feels so good. I wonder if she….
I wonder what her….
And when she wasn’t thinking of her she was seeing her. In her dreams, mostly devastatingly painful dreams, about what she had done to her. In the color of a leaf floating in the water that matched her eyes. In the color of a little dried grass, so like the color of her hair. In the ripples in the water.
She wanted to scream.
She did scream.
She didn’t leave until she had been four days without food. She was gaunt, having lost twenty pounds she didn’t have to lose. She was weak, having eaten only when the pain of hunger impinged on the pain in her heart. She was defeated, by the few memories she had of a little green eyed blonde. Nothing seemed to matter
She went home.
Luca came to find her, to threaten her, to force her away again.
He found her broken, lost, unaware of what was happening outside her own agony.
He considered putting her away. He told her so. She turned away from him and stared forlornly out the window. He went away and left her alone. She cried.
A sharp pain flared across her upper back, slamming her into the table and breaking her reverie.
"On your feet."
She stood and was rewarded with a baton smashed into her kidney.
"Move when I tell you to!"
The belt was tightened back around her waist, cruelly tight. Her bladder protested, but she held it, knowing the guards—this guard especially—would love it if she wet herself, using it as an excuse to punish her more.
"Come out of there!"
She sidestepped until she was beside the little bench.
She did so, keeping her head lowered. To look at a guard would probably earn her a backhand. It had before.
The baton struck the back of her right thigh.
She shuffled; her feet only free enough for about half a step.
The baton struck her thigh again, harder, lower, closer to the joint.
She ran, her mincing steps probably comical to the guards.
Here, in less than a week, Angela had learned real hatred.
Here, in so short a time she had felt what it was truly like to want to kill someone. She had thought of killing Luca often but she had never, yet, really wanted to kill him. She still didn’t, even though she was reasonably sure he was the cause of her being here, and that he may have killed Juliana.
She wanted to kill this guard. She had wanted to kill her for maybe three days now.
There were several others that she came close to wanting to kill, but this one, this one was evil. This one she dreamed of killing; painfully.
Her heart was pounding and pain was shooting up her right leg from the scraping of the leg iron on bare skin. This guard had insured that they were on bare skin. She wanted to stop. She needed to stop. She kept on running.
The slam of a solenoid and the scream of the warning siren told her a door was opened and a moment later she hustled through it."
Excruciating pain flared in her buttocks.
The scream of the door alert pierced her sensitive ears again, making her wince. The door she had just come through slammed shut.
Her peripheral vision told her she was in the small space between the double doors to the main cellblock.
They were deciding. Put her in solitaire or kill her.
She expected her life to end shortly. She was trapped, with no way out, surrounded by at worst, her killers, at best her tormentors. They would kill her.
Time seemed to drag itself along, a minute taking an hour. Every sound was magnified to her, every smell. She heard doors open and close, getting closer. Her executioner was coming.
She wondered how they would do it.
She decided they would put her back in the general population. In the yard, again. They had tried there twice before but more to torment her and to see if she could defend herself. This time they would succeed.
Maybe the shower. Two cons played with her there once. They finally rushed her. When she left they were unconscious, one with a broken arm, but they got a knife on her and she had a six-inch cut to show just how close they had come. Next time there would be more than two. She determined she would not go down alone.
Maybe in the dining hall. Even dull utensils could be deadly if you knew how. A riot in the dining hall would leave them blameless, just one of those unpredictable things in a prison.
She tried to prepare herself; prepare to die. She was scared and she was sad. If only she could tell Samantha how sorry she was. If only she could tell her why she had chased her away. Maybe then she wouldn’t mind dying so much.
But she did mind, damn it! It was wrong. People died in accidents or in their bed, not in a prison because their own brother sent them there to die. Not now, not in the twentieth century! Not in America!
With each thought her anger grew.
Her brother did this. He was destroying her parents, using Juliana, using her, to satisfy his greed, his need for power.
Hatred for him finally blossomed. And swelled.
A guard stopped in front of her. Her baton pushed into the softness of her throat, hard, forcing her head up.
It was her, Corporal Jeffrey; her hard face set in a smug smile. The smile faded and she sucked in a surprised breath. She involuntarily stepped back from the intense hatred in the brunette’s pale blue eyes and Angela saw fear.
Corporal Jeffrey’s eyes went mean and hard and she raised her baton.
Angela didn’t move, the hatred didn’t diminish; it grew.
The guard lowered the baton then reversed it and smashed the brunette in the gut, hitting her in the solarplexus, hard.
Angela didn’t move, the hatred intensifying even more.
Fear returned to the corporal’s dark eyes and she stepped back again, and started to lift her baton to smash the brunette in the face.
She stepped back staring over Angela’s shoulder.
"Hold up there."
"Shit, she’s toast anyway. I just want to wipe that look off her face."
"Maybe not. We can’t contact Ruben and that bitch lawyer has got Devlin running scared."
"God damn it! I knew that bitch was a yellow pussy!"
"Better tone it down, she might be listening, Jeffrey."
"Fuck her. Let’s do this bitch and be done with it!"
"What the fuck’s wrong with you, Conway! Your back going yellow too?"
"No, and my brain’s not made of Jell-O either, stupid. The little bitch has got some serious claws. We do this one and blondie could bring this whole deal down. Stick this bitch on ice. We’ll take care of her later."
Angela could hardly believe they were discussing her death so calmly, like she was already dead. What kind of sub species were these people? She realized that in fact she was dead, by the very fact they were discussing her fate so openly. They couldn’t afford to let her out with what she was hearing.
"You’re blowing some big bucks here, sarge."
"No. We’ll keep her on ice just until we talk to Ruben. Then we’ll arrange a lovely accident for gorgeous here."
"I don’t like it," the corporal groused.
"Well you don’t run this deal so shut the fuck up and cage her!"
"You heard the sarge, bitch. Move!"
The baton struck her behind the knee and she crumpled to the floor, crying out in agony. The next one hit the back of her head.
"Get the fuck up!"
"Easy, Jeffrey. Keep that up and I’ll make you carry her!"
The corporal let her climb back to her feet, with some choice words to encourage her.
The door opened in front of her and she shuffled through.
She had trouble with the stairs, having to hop from one to the other because her feet were chained too close together. It was tricky and dangerous. If she misjudged, she would have a long painful fall. The corporal was behind her. Her shoulder blades tingled in anticipation of a push.
She made it, though her injured knee joint threatened to collapse on her all the way down.
She made it on hatred.
She knew if she ever had the chance, she would kill the monster behind her.
It was strange really. For all her bluff, gruff attitude, she really wasn’t a violent person. In fact she was a bit of a pacifist. She could defend herself, that was true, and she had, perhaps too often in the past few years, allowing her anger and frustration to dominate her. She was good at martial arts and had taken several titles, until the realities of life forced her to give it up. Even then she kept up her conditioning and practiced when she could. Working as a stevedore on occasion certainly didn’t hurt her either. That’s what helped her when the corporal hit her in the solarplexus. She had tightened her abdomen and absorbed most of the blow. It had hurt like hell, but not like it would have if she had not been able to do that. She could remember the few times when she had actually encouraged or at least not tried to prevent violence. One of those times had been in that bar so long ago. Her mood that night had been one of total helplessness over what was happening in her family. She needed something to strike out at and those jerks had been just the thing.
Right place at just the wrong time.
That incautious decision to violence had led her to meet someone she wished with all her heart she had never met, but wished with all her heart she had met under different circumstances. That meeting, caused by her own stupidity, had caused her more emotional pain than anything else she had ever done.
All because she couldn’t control her frustrations and lashed out at a couple of fools.
Who was the real fool?
The corporal made her hobble all the way to the last cell, striking her backside several times; vicious blows that could break bones, or split skin.
She opened the door and shoved her inside so that she fell.
And then she beat her into unconsciousness.
* * *
Samantha didn’t start to shake until she was several miles from the prison. She lit a cigarette from the pack she had left in the little BMW then, after taking several deep drags to calm her nerves, she thumbed the phone button on the steering wheel.
"It’s me, Grace, put me through to Mr. Pike."
"Right away, Ms. Coulter," she answered, sounding concerned. God, she can hear my frazzled nerves singing over the phone.
"Ms. Coulter, I’m afraid Mr. Pike is in conference," Marci Sowicki said after a slight pause.
"Tell Mr. Pike, Angela Martina Stephanos is a dead woman unless he gets on this phone."
The line went to Musac. She finished her cigarette and stubbed it out before the line crackled to life. By the time he picked up she was calm as ice, but she was seriously pissed.
"Ms. Coulter, what’s this crap, Marci is feeding me. I’m in a meeting." Jonathan growled.
"Did you know Angela is being held in the state prison?"
"Did you know there have been three attempts on her life in the past two days? Did you know that prison officials know about it and have been beating her, just for kicks?"
"Do you want her alive?"
"What? Of course I do."
"Do you want me to get her off?"
"I already told you that, Sam…."
"Then here’s what happens. I want two teams and I want Phyllis Donovan to head one of them. I also want you to get on the phone, right now and get her the hell out of the state pen before they kill her."
He was silent for a moment. "The teams you can have, and you can have Ms. Donovan, but the rest will have to wait. I’m in a crucial conference."
"It has to happen now, Jonathan," she said firmly.
"Can’t do it, Sam. She’ll have to wait."
"Then cancel the teams and Phyllis. I’m off the case. You can reach me at my apartment."
"What! You can’t do that!"
"Well I’m doing it, Jonathan, because unless you get her out of those peoples’ clutches in the next few hours, Angela Martina Stephanos is the name on the body bag you will be picking up."
She hung up.
"Jesus, I need a drink," she muttered as she ran her trembling hand back through her hair. She was in knots, a deep sense of fear welling up in her and she had trouble forcing it back down. What the hell’s wrong with me? She eyed the cigarettes but decided against it.
The phone rang.
"Yes," she answered.
"Not very friendly, Ms. Coulter," Jonathan Pike growled.
"You don’t pay me to be friendly, sir. You pay me to get results," she answered and he chuckled.
"Give me the highlights, Sammy."
For the next ten minutes she gave him an overview of her afternoon while she deftly waded through the impossible traffic.
"I’ll get her out. Oh, and your teams are forming under Ms. Donovan’s lead."
"Thank you, sir."
He chuckled, "Good work, Sammy. Can’t remember ever having my ass gnawed quite like that by a subordinate before."
"Sorry, sir, desperate times. Which reminds me, you might want to get her out in an ambulance. She has injuries that haven’t been treated."
"All right, and don’t be sorry, Samantha, just don’t ever do it unless its absolutely necessary or I will kick your ass all the way down the stairs, personally."
The line went dead.
Still shaking too badly to use the phone in the center console she thumbed the button on the steering wheel again and began speaking as soon as the line picked up, again preventing Grace from giving her spiel.
"Grace. Don’t talk, just listen. Phyllis is forming two teams for me. I want team one to get on Angela Stephanos case. I think I can get her off because her rights have been mauled pretty badly, get them on it. Tell Phyllis she’s being held in the state prison and treated like a death row inmate, and that there have been attempts on her life. She also shows evidence of having been beaten, I suspect by the guards. Tell her I think there is a contract out on her and I think the guards are in on it. Tell her to start the teams turning over rocks, fast. This is highest priority. Got that?"
"Yes, Ms. Coulter."
"All right, I want the second team, to dig into her father’s business. Tell her the old man is probably clean but the older son is very dirty and he’s using his father’s business as a front."
"Don’t think, Grace’
"Sorry, ma’am. Anything else?"
"Yeah, Tell her I want her to protect the Stephanos interests but to get Luca. I’m going to see old man Stephanos now. Tell Phyllis I’ll meet her at our favorite watering hole, in," she paused, glancing at the clock, "two hours."
"One more thing, Grace." She paused for a moment then took the plunge. "Call Betty." Betty was slang for Tanya Goranovich, someone you never wanted to know.
Grace gasped. She had seen the woman up close and personal once, when she had inadvertently been about to step into a very bad situation. She nearly died of fright.
Tanya was petite, no more than five seven. She had short blonde hair, a pixie face, and a young girl’s wiry thin body. Grace never knew where she came from in that empty hallway, but suddenly the woman had her in an iron grip and a frightening whisper told her if she tried to call out she would snap her neck. The woman pulled her into a small room and out a back door, then slowly let her go, telling her not to scream or she’d have to kill her. Grace had turned and looked into the deadliest black eyes she had ever seen.
"Tell Sammy to warn her help to be more careful," she said then was gone.
"What shall I tell her?" Grace replied, hardly able to speak.
"Tell her, ten minutes."
"All… all right, anything else?"
"No. Get to it. Call Betty first." She hung up.
She knew she should have made the call herself, but she was shaking too badly to dial the number. It was going to be a very long day.
* * *
To be continued….
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