For disclaimers see part 1.

Cyndi, you are a life saver. Thank you so much for helping me out! I am so lucky to have a friend like you.

Feedback? Of course! Just drop me a line at


The Reef - Part 6

By Lois Kay

With her hands buried in the pockets of her slacks, Sam stared in the distance. To anybody passing her she looked like she was enjoying the view, casually leaning against one of the many trees providing shade. Her clear blue eyes contrasted with her tanned face and blond hair, providing a stunning look she wasn't aware of. 

Her brain was trying to come up with a plan to obtain the information she so desperately wanted. She knew Gerald and Lucy would take care of their mother and sister, so they would not accidently run into each other. But it had ruined her original plan. There was no way she could find out if somebody had been following Lucy and Gerald and who he or they would be.

Sam sighed heavily and shrugged her shoulders.

That's plan A down the drain. Now what? Maybe I should go back and talk it over with Jody. Maybe I should give Carol Wong those disks and get it over with. Let them figure it out. As long as they make sure Jody is safe.

The tension left Sam's face and was replaced by a soft smile when she thought about her friend and the way they had woken up that morning. Involuntarily her heart started pounding when she suddenly remembered the look in Jody's eyes when she reached her climax. Sam swallowed hard when she felt a warm, tingling sensation spread through her body. With an impatient gesture she stood up straight, suddenly very aware of what she should do.

Let them all take a long walk of a short dock. I don't want to spend my time being some pathetic excuse for a detective. I'll get Carol Wong those disks and make sure Jody will be safe. They can fix up this mess by themselves.

Relieved because she reached a decision Sam walked back to the corner she quickly rounded a little while ago. She felt a lot better, knowing she would be back at her friends' house, where Jody would be waiting for her. With a happy little bounce in her step, Sam walked around the corner. Immediately her sharp eyes noticed the scene in front of her and with catlike grace she stepped back behind a newsstand, out of sight.

Fiona was still enjoying the soft, salty taste of her licorice, when a car pulled up in front of her. Her green eyes looked at the driver and his passenger and almost invisibly she raised one eyebrow. Just like her older sister would have done.

The sight of the chewing fourteen year old, with the totally bored expression on her face nearly made Fred burst out in laughter. She was a character. He was almost sorry their plans involved her. He grinned at her and nodded.

" Hey."

Fiona stared at him like he was annoyingly blocking her view. Mentally she shook her head, amazed by the boldness of some men.

God, mate, I'm fourteen. Get a life! Besides, even if I would have been older, you are not my type!.

"Hi, " she answered, preparing to walk back into the store.

"Hey, wait, " Fred quickly said. " I just wanted to ask you something okay?" 

Fred's mind worked overtime to come up with a reasonable question that would sound genuine. Fiona just looked at him with a impatient look on her freckled face, ready to turn around and walk back.

" Umm…my mate and I are looking for a…um…a gas station. We don't know the place and we're running low, so…"

Fiona squinted her eyes and didn't believe him for one second, but she was willing to tell them how to the closest gas station, so she could get rid of them.

She pointed towards the corner.

" Go that way and when you reach the Highway turn right. It's about a kilometer I guess. Good luck."

She turned around to walk back to her family, but Fred suddenly called her. The anxiety in his voice made her turn around and look at him with raised eyebrows.

" I'm sorry, I…I'm a bit deaf. Could you repeat that please? Maybe you could come a bit closer?"

Fiona was just about to give in to his request when she froze in place. A very well known whistle, she had not heard for years suddenly made her stop dead in her tracks.

'Sam, you have to teach me how you do that," Fiona begged, tugging on Sam's shirt.

Sam looked down at the little girl, the affection evident in her eyes.

"I'd like to, Fi, really, but you are missing half of your teeth right now. No way you can whistle like that." She teased.

" Yes, I can, " Fiona objected. " Listen." 

She put two fingers in her mouth and started blowing. She did produce a little sound and a lot of saliva.

Sam laughed and with a lot of exaggeration she wiped her face.

" Okay, okay, I believe you. I had a shower this morning, you know!" She folded her long frame to kneel down beside the six year old and gave her a suspiscious look.

" I will teach you, " she whispered. " But this is our secret whistle. Okay?"

Fiona nodded enthusiastically her dark green eyes shining with excitement.

" Listen…" Sam started and a blond and a dark head were bent close together.

Again a clear whistling reached her ears and without thinking twice Fiona turned around and made a run for the corner, following the direction of the sound.

Sam had been watching the scene in front of her with fear in her heart, her hands clenched into fists, her whole body alert, ready to come into action when needed. She couldn't hear the conversation that was going on between her friend's little sister and the stranger in the car, but deep down inside she knew it could only mean trouble. She mentally slapped herself for not telling Fiona to stay inside the shop, close to her mother and brother. If Lucy and Gerald were followed after visiting Jody's apartment, the ones doing that would easily recognize Fiona as being Lucy's sister. They were just too much alike.

Relief took over when she saw Fiona getting ready to turn around, but immediately after that her heart stopped when the girl turned back, ready to step closer to the car.

Guided by instinct only, Sam whistled, the 'secret' whistle she taught Fiona years ago, hoping and praying the girl would remember. And she did. Sam saw the dark haired head jerk back and Fiona's whole body tensed. Sam whistled again and to her utter relief, the fourteen year old turned around and ran towards the corner, where Sam was waiting.

Fiona raced around the corner without looking where she was going and felt a pair of strong arms pull her out of sight.

"Let's go, " Sam hissed, not bothered to explain anything yet. She didn't know what the reaction of the two men in the car would be and she had no intention of finding out. Not with Jody's sister around.

She pulled Fiona through the back entrance, inside the corner shop, scanning her surroundings with hawk like precision. It was a regular souvenir shop, with lots of caps, t-shirts, postcards and other knick knacks. Without trying to attract attention Sam walked to a distant corner where she could keep an eye on both entrances, never letting go of Fiona's arm. Finally she stopped, turned around and cast the young girl a worried look.

" Are you all right? " she asked, her blue eyes filled with concern.

Fiona just nodded and stared back at Sam with her eyes wide open.

" What did they want?"

Fiona rubbed her face, trying to remember what the young man in the car had asked her. That wasn't an easy thing to do, because Sam's whistle and presence had thrown her totally off guard.

" Um….he…they were looking for a gas station and I told him where to find one. But then he said he was a little deaf and he asked me to come closer. I…Sam, what the hell is going on here?"

Those last words were uttered in so much adult like frustration that Sam had to smile. The agony in her eyes was replaced by a gentle spark and she couldn't help smiling.

" Wow, you have grown up, " she teased. 

Fiona smiled back and reached out to touch Sam's arm.

" It's really you, isn't it?" she asked, full of wonder. "I always hoped you would come back, Sam. I missed you, you know. So did Jody and Luce.. I mean, we weren't allowed to talk about you, but I knew they missed you. Jody is gay, you know. Dad doesn't approve."

Sam's face went blank after that little demonstration of teenage bluntness and she could feel herself stare, not feeling very intelligent at the moment.

Fiona looked up at her and furrowed a brow.

" You did know that, didn't you? It's not like I outed my sister. Did I?"

" No, " Sam answered, finally finding her voice again. She chuckled, ruffeling Fiona's hair affectionately. " I knew that, silly, it's just that…you can sure change a subject, you know that?" 

Fiona giggled and playfully pushed away Sam's hand. Grabbing it between her own.

"I'll try to stay on the track, " she promised, her dark green eyes sparkling. " What did those blokes want, Sam?"

" That is a long story, Fi and I don't mind telling you, but not here. Let's just say they were up to no good. Okay? I will tell you the rest later."

" Please do, " Fiona mumbled. " I am sick of getting treated like the family's fool. No one tells me anything, ever. They all think I'm a baby or something. Only Jody treats me like a human being."

" Oh, and a baby isn't a human being?" Sam teased, good naturedly. 

Fiona laughed and stuck out her tongue at Sam, who tweeked her nose in answer.

" I suppose I'll have to come up with a plan," Sam mused, keeping an eye on the door. " We have to get out of here, but I don't want those men to see us. They might still be waiting out there. But I have to warn Ger and Lucy."

" Don't you have a ce….ah, I see, you have a cell phone, " Fiona said, watching Sam pull the item out of her pocket. "Good, I'm glad you are one of those modern people. " 

" Squirt, " Sam answered, but she smiled. 

She speed dialed a number and within seconds she was speaking to Lucy.

" Lucy, it's me, listen. I am in the shop at the corner and I have Fiona here with me. We…, she's all right…yes, she did, right away…" Sam winked at Fiona. " No…Lucy…Lucy, listen, please, I will explain later. I want you and Ger and your mom to walk to your car. Take your time, all right? …No, I do have a plan, just wait. Walk to the car and you'll see…..What? Yes, they are still out there. No….okay, we'll see you there. …It's okay, Luce, I can deal with your mom, don't worry. See you in a bit."

" She talks too much, doesn't she, " Fiona smirked, watching the resigned expression on Sam's face 

" So do you, " Sam grunted, making Fiona laugh. " Come on, we have to get moving." 

" What are we going to do?" 

Sam looked down at the young girl that was standing next to her and a mischievous glint appeared in her eyes.

" Something I have always dreamed of, " she grinned. She walked toward the counter, where an eldery woman looked at her with an expectant expression on her face.

" Hi," Sam greeted her. " Those caps behind the counter, are they hanging on a nail?" 

The woman looked at her, totally astounded and wasn't able to answer for a few seconds.

" If they are, " Sam continued. " I would like to buy them. All of them, but I also need the nail."

" Do you remember what I told you , Fi? "Sam asked looking the teenager straight into her eyes. Fiona nodded and jerked her head in the direction of the corner.

" I will cross the street, right there, so they have to see me and I will walk to mom and the others. But, Sam, how do you know they won't see you? " 

" I'm not sure, Fi, but I think they will be too busy watching you and your family, to have eyes for a clumsy tourist dropping a stack of baseball caps." 

" I hope you are right, " Fiona answered, impressed by Sam's confidence. "I'd better get going then, huh?" 

She wanted to turn around, but Sam stopped her, to look at her intently.

" If anything goes wrong, go straight to Gerald. Don't come this way. Okay?" 

Fiona cast down her eyes and nodded obediently.

" I want to hear you say it, Fi, " Sam urged. " Promise me." 

" I promise, Sam, " Fiona repeated softly. " You be careful. Okay?"

" Of course, " Sam grinned. " I'll see you in a few minutes. Tell Lucy to pick me up at the back of the Mall." 

Fiona nodded and walked to the corner of the street intently watched by Sam, who also kept an eye on the car with the two men, still parked at the same spot. She saw them watching Lucy and Gerald and they suddenly sat up straight when Fiona crossed the street.

Sam wasted no time. She stepped outside, her face obscured by the stack of caps in her arm and walked towards the car, passing them unnoticed. Suddenly she dropped the caps on the pavement, next to the car.

Softly muttering she kneeled down to pick each and every one up, praying the men in the car would ignore her. They did and when she grabbed the last item she placed a big nail against one of the back tires. When the car moved it would certainly puncture the rubber, causing it to go flat within a few seconds. 

After that she quickly got up, and let her long legs carry her away, still unnoticed.

" I told you they would eventually show up, " Little Steven spoke with evident pride. 

Fred cast a look to the right and shrugged his shoulders. His partner had been cursing at him for at least five minutes after Fiona bolted, threatening him with all plagues known to mankind if he screwed up again.

" Wonder where she went to," Fred mused.

" You never know with those kids, " Little Steven answered. " Maybe her boyfriend called or something."

Their eyes traveled from the slim form of Fiona to her family who were waiting for her at the opposite corner, near the restaurant Lucy and Gerald had been waiting before.

" Keep your eyes on them, Freddie, " Little Steven growled. " Can't lose them now. We will follow them wherever they go. Got it?" 

Fred nodded in silence and squinted his eyes against the bright sunlight. From the corner of his eye he saw a tall form passing the car, dropping a stack of baseball caps.

" What's that? " Little Steven asked, casting a quick look in his rearview mirror.

" Some bimbo being stupid, " Fred answered absentmindedly, not taking his eyes from Fiona, who was crossing the street.

Neither of them payed attention to the woman picking up the items she dropped and neither of them saw her walk away, a big smile covering her face, her clear blue eyes twinkling, while her brain registered the license plate number that was now engraved in her memory.


" Fiona, where in the name of everything that is sacred did you disappear to?" Joan McDonnell asked her daughter as soon as she was close enough to hear her.

" I was outside, mom, " Fiona tried to explain, remembering Sam's warning not to tell about the two of them meeting yet. "I went to that shop at the corner." 

That wasn't a lie, Fiona thought and her dark green eyes were innocent when she looked at her mother.

Joan sighed and put her hand on Fiona's shoulder, pulling her with her.

Lucy and Gerald exchanged looks and the first one quickly stepped forward.


Joan McDonnell heard the tension in Lucy's voice and turned around, a crease in her forehead.

" Umm, I…there's some trouble Jody ran into and…" 

" What kind of trouble?" her mother interrupted, with a worried look. " Is she all right? Why didn't you tell me before? Where is she?" 

" Wow, so many questions, " Lucy tried to joke, but her mother's piercing eyes stared right through her. " She's fine, mom, really. I thought you might want to see her. I know she'd love to see you." 

" Honey, you are not really comforting here, " Joan McDonnell answered, not recognizing her daughter who usually was full of confidence, but was carefully chosing her words now.

" Jody's apartment has been broken into, " Gerald took over, knowing his mother simply needed more information to calm down. " Jody wasn't home at the time and right now she's with Sarah and Megan. We were actually on our way to see her."

" I'll come with you then, " Joan McDonnell spoke without hesitation, surprising her children who knew their parents normally didn't want to associate with gay people. Well, their father didn't, their mother had never said a word about it. " Let's go." 

" We have to pick up some…thing from the mall, " Lucy explained, feeling like a conspirator. " Why don't you go ahead?" 

" I don't know where they live, " Joan McDonnell simply answered, causing Fiona to chuckle.

" I'll come with you then, " Gerald offered the solution. His little sisters eyes were begging and he could hardly suppress a smile.

" Fi, why don't you keep Lucy company ?" 

The answer was a big grin and Gerald laughed at the eager expression on the freckled face of his sister. He followed his mother to the car and before he got in he turned around to look at Lucy.

" Be careful, " he mouthed and his sister nodded, sending him a small smile.

" Come on, twin sister, ' she joked, teasingly pulling a strand of hair. "Let's go get Sam. " 

" Okay, Fred, here they go. Now we only have to follow them to find out where that redhead is and if we don't we always have the kid sister to help us out." 

" Which car are we following? There are two." 

" What do you think? " Little Steven sneered. " The two sisters, of course. God knows where the other two are going. We have to keep an eye on that little one. She's our ticket. Remember?" 

Little Steven's eyes followed Lucy and Fiona, who were walking towards Lucy's red car, apparently taking their time, chatting and teasing each other. Fred couldn't help but smile when he saw the way the two sisters were treating each other. It reminded him of his own sister. He hadn't seen her in years. Not since his father seriously beat him up and he decided to run away from home. He had never returned. For the first time in years he remembered his sister's face when he walked out the door and a lump formed in his throat. Fred swallowed hard and looked outside the window, trying hard to regain his composure.

" You ready? " Little Steven asked in his gruff way.

" Yeah, I am, " Fred answered, his voice slightly hoarse from emotion.

Little Steven cast him a curious look and shrugged his shoulders.

" You okay?"

" Fine, " Fred answered, clearing his throat. " Just thirsty, that's all." 

" If everything goes according to plan I'll buy you a nice cold Foster's," Little Steven promised, starting the engine.

He waited for Lucy's car to leave the parking lot and when she drove past them he pulled up, making sure there were no more than two cars between him and the one he followed. After a few hundred meters Little Steven noticed that the car didn't respond well and he yanked the steering weel while going around a corner. Immediately he started cursing, startling Fred, who's eyes were fixed on the car in front of them.

" What?" 

" Damnit it all to hell!! Believe it or not, but we've got a flat tire."

" Jody, honey, will you please at least try to relax," Sarah sighed, watching her friend pace the varandah for the umpteenth time. " You and Megan are so alike. Whenever you are nervous, you start pacing like idiots. You are driving me nuts."

Jody stopped dead in her tracks and send her friend an apologizing look. The minute Sam had left, she has been a nervous wreck and she knew it. She trusted Sam, knew she would be careful and not take any risks. But still. 

With an audible grunt Jody let herself fall down into a chair, brushing away her hair from her forehead with an impatient gesture. She had promised Sam to stay put, but it took a lot of effort not to jump up, take the car and drive downtown, looking for her friend.

" Sam is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, " Sarah softly spoke, trying to comfort the fidgeting woman in front of her. " I think she proved that the other night when she fought off that bloke." 

"I know, I know, " Jody sighed. " But I'm still worried."

What if something does happen to her? I can't cope with that. Oh, God and I didn't even tell her that…I should have told her. It's not like I didn't have the opportunity. I could have told her this morning, after…. 

Jody felt a blush creep up her cheeks, but didn't try to hide it.

Of course Sarah noticed and with a small smile she looked at her friend.

" Happy thoughts?" she teased.

" Mmm, " was all Jody answered, but she couldn't hide her smile. 

"Want to share ? " Sarah asked, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

" No, " Jody laughed. " You know I don't have many secrets from you or Megan, but there are a few things I like to keep private."

The auburn haired woman laughed hartily and affectionately squeezed Jody's knee.

" I can't blame you, ' she agreed, her grey eyes twinkling. " Just hold those thoughts, will you? They suit you much better than a worried frown. Ah, there's our tea girl, " she spoke when Megan came out of the kitchen, carrying a tray full of glasses and a steaming tea pot. " Saved by the drink, Jo." 

" Who is saved from what? " Megan informed, placing the heavy tray on the table, casting a curious look at her lover.

" I am, " Jody answered with a smile. " Your wife is a tease, Megan."

" Tell me about it, " Megan grunted, taking a seat next to Sarah. " She's an expert. I think she took lessons at college. But hey, gotta love her anyway."

She leaned over and gave Sarah a quick kiss, winking at Jody.

"Talking about my wife, " Megan continued. " You didn't forget about the party next week, did you? We really want you and Sam here when we celebrate our fifth anniversary."

" We'll be there, " Jody smiled. " I wouldn't want to miss that for the world. I just hope this mess will all be cleaned up and I can continue my normal life again."

Megan and Sarah exchanged a look, while the latter one filled their glasses with the hot beverage.

" What are your plans, Jody? " Megan asked. " I mean, with Sam and all."

Jody stared at the flowers that were bordering the varandah, a pensive look on her face. Her green eyes were dark and Megan could see the conflicting emotions run across her expressive features.

" We haven't discussed that yet, ' she finally answered. " Heck, we haven't discussed anything yet. I mean, everything happened so fast and I don't even know whether we want the same thing."

" What do you want, Jody? " Sarah gently asked.

" I don't want to give up on Sam, " Jody quickly answered. " When I ran into her last week it became clear to me that I….that even though I tried to forget her, I hadn't. Eight years later and I still feel the same about her. I feel like she completes me. I could probably live my life without her, like I've been doing ever since she left, but I would never be whole, a part of me would be missing. I feel like only Sam can make me feel complete. I didn't realize how much I've missed her, until I saw her again."

Jody twirled a strand of hair around her finger and bit her bottom lip, trying to come up with the right words.

" I still love her, " she finally said. " That's what it all comes down to. I don't think I have ever stopped loving her. Somehow I can't."

She hesitantly looked at Megan, but her friend smiled warmly at her.

" I have always known that, Jody. Please, don't apologize. We knew we would be better friends than lovers, and we are. You were looking for a friend, and you found one." Megan grabbed Sarah's hand and squeezed it tight. " You have found two friends, " she added. " I think that is worth a lot." 

"It is, " Jody answered, tears in her eyes. " You two are….just wonderful. But you know that."

" I know I am, " Sarah deadpanned. " But I am not so sure about old Megan here." 

" Hey, who are you calling old?" Megan called out with feigned hurt. She reached out to grab Sarah's arm, but her partner was much faster and had jumped up, before Megan could even touch her.

" Take it easy, children, " Jody laughed. " I don't think that……." 

She stopped in mid sentence, cocking her head to one side, listening intently. Immediately she jumped up.

" There's a car coming."

Sarah and Megan stopped their playful interaction and joined Jody, who had walked to the driveway. She had hoped to see Sam return, but when the car came into sight, her shoulders slumped slightly as she protected her eyes from the sun to get a better view.

Megan who was standing next to her heard her gasp.

" Oh, my God, it's mom." 

The first thing that came into mind was her father, but then she realized her mother would have called her. Besides, how would she know where to find her? Jody could see Gerald sitting next to his mother, but Lucy was nowhere in sight. She clenched her hands into fists, causing the knuckles to go white.Silently she prayed that Sam and her sister would be safe. Her stomach was tied in knots when her mother parked the car and she and Gerald stepped out. Gerald immediately noticed the anxiety on his sister's face and he smiled reassuringly, seeing her visibly relax a little. Sarah and Megan tried to look not too surprised when Joan McDonnell approached the varandah. 

The older woman hesitated and her eyes traveled from her daughter to the couple standing next to her. The silence was deafening, until Megan stepped forward, her right hand extended.

" Mrs. McDonnell, what a surprise. I am Megan, Jody's friend. " she smiled friendly, shaking the other woman's callused hand. " Why don't you come up to the varandah?"

" Umm…nice to meet you Megan. I…um…I heard about Jody's apartment and I wanted to make sure she's all right." 

" I'm fine, mom, " Jody finally spoke, stepping down and hugging her mother. " But thanks for coming up.'ve met Megan." She turned around to Sarah. " This is Sarah, Megan's partner." 

" Nice to meet you, Mrs. McDonnell, " Sarah smiled. " Come out of that sun, you all. It's much better up here." 

Joan McDonnell returned the warm smile and willingly followed the auburn haired woman up the stairs, taking a seat on the varandah.

" Ger, " Jody hissed when her brother tried to walk passed her. " What the hell is going on? Where are Sam and Lucy?"

" They will be here any minute, sis, " Gerald explained very matter of factly. " We ran into mom and Fiona at the shop."

" Fiona? " Jody echoed. " Where is she?" 

" With Sam and Lucy, " Gerald answered as if that would be self-evident. 

" What? No, Ger, stop, I don't understand. Please?"

Jody was genuinely confused and Gerald took pity on his sister, gently patting her back.

" Sam has everything under control, Jody, " he comforted her chuckling. " She must have some sort of a plan, but I have to admit I am dying of curiosity. This is going to be interesting." 

" That's the understatement of the year, " Jody reacted feebly, feeling all control she had slipping away, like sand through her fingers.

Her mind raced, trying to comprehend what her brother had just told her.

" Did Sam run into mom ?"

" No, Fiona," Gerald grinned, finding it all very amusing. " Mom doesn't know Sam's here. Yet."

" Oh, my goodness, " Jody whispered, suddenly feeling very light headed. This was a confrontation she had hoped to postpone, at least until Sam and her had a chance to work things out between them. 

How will mom react when she sees Sam? The last time they saw each other was eight years ago, way before the accident. Mom has never spoken about Sam after that, like she didn't exist.This could get nasty. Mom might blow her top and Sam…I don't want her to be hurt again. I won't allow that. I have to stick with her, even if that would mean losing my mother. Oh, God, I hope Sam knows what she is doing.

Jody turned around to walk back to the varandah where her mother and Megan were having a polite conversation about the flower garden. Megan sensed the older womans agitation and tried to put her at ease, realizing Joan McDonnell had to willingly be here, doing something her husband did not approve of. She knew from the stories Jody had told her what kind of person David McDonnell was and how his iron will used to rule the whole family.

Feeling grateful Jody smiled at her friend and took a seat next to her mother, trying very hard not to see the amused glint in Gerald's eyes, who apparently was finding the whole situation very amusing. Jody shot him a gloomy look and was about to ask her mother what she wanted to drink, when a car entered the driveway. Lucy's little red beetle.

" Ah, there's Lucy and Fiona, " Joan McDonnell smiled, not hearing Jody's groan. " Fiona was dying to see you, Jody, I…what's wrong, love? You are so pale. Are you sure you are all right?"

Jody could only nod and swallowed away the bile that was rising in her throat, suddenly feeling very nervous.

" I'm okay, mom. Really, " she softly answered, her eyes glued to the car. They were looking for Sam, whom she could see sitting next to Lucy. After the car stopped, they remained seated and by the gestures she was making, Jody could tell Sam was giving instructions.

God, honey, I hope you know what you are doing. Please, know what you are doing.

Finally both car doors were opened and Lucy and Fiona were the first ones to get out, Sam followed, unfolding her tall frame and stretching her muscles.

Jody anxiously looked at her mother who was staring at the threesome with furrowed brows and Jody knew she just had to wait until recognition set in.

Joan McDonnell shielded her eyes against the sun to get a better look and her face changed from eager anticipation to bewilderment to shock. All blood drained from her face and even her lips were white when she recognized Sam.

Time froze when the two women locked gazes and like in slow motion Sam walked up to the varandah, her eyes never leaving Joan McDonnell's. To Jody's relief Sam looked calm and only the way she bit her bottom lip showed ner nervousness. 

In the meantime Jody's eyes flew from her mother to Sam and back again, waiting for the first words they would exchange. No one spoke. Lucy and Fiona were standing next to Gerald, who finally seemed to realize the impact the meeting could have and Megan and Sarah were sitting very quietly, hardly breathing. Wishing they would be somewhere else.

Sam stopped at the stairs and looked up, sending Jody an encouraging smile, before retutning her stare to Joan McDonnell, who finally found the strength to speak again.

" Samantha Stevens, " Joan McDonnell's voice was thick with emotion. 

" You don't have to worry about Jody anymore, love," David McDonnell spoke with contentment. " She's gone. " 

" Who is? " Joan asked, afraid to hear the answer.

" That …heithen. She was polluting Jody's mind with all those pervert thoughts."

" But, David…." 

" No, Joan, don't worry about it. I took care of it. Me and father Jamison. She won't be back."

" But…what did you do, David? " Joan asked, while her heart cried out for the pain her eldest daughter would have to go through.

" I didn't have to a thing, " David laughed. " She did it all by herself. Drove her car off the cliff. She's in the hospital and will be okay. She's going back to Holland."

" What happened?" Joan gasped.

" Just an accident, "her husband explained very matter of factly. " I told you not to worry. She won't come back, I made sure of that. Jody will never see her again. " 

" David…"

" No, Joan, that's enough. I don't want to hear another word. You understand? That Stevens' girl is out of our daughter's life and that's for the better. I won't accept any of my children associating with people like that. She will never see Jody again. I promise." 

" Yes, it's me, " Sam softly answered, her eyes full of compassion for the woman she knew had no life of her own. " It's been a long time." 

"Yes, it has, " was the whispered answer.

Joan McDonnells eyes slowly traveled to her eldest daughter, who was looking at her Dutch friend, not able to hide the loving concern on her face.

They have found each other again. I can see it in Jody's eyes. She's trying not to show it, but I can see. My God, how did all this happen? Sam. And she looks so calm, so mature, so…very confident. What has been going on? But…does it matter? She is here, after all these years she came back. Does it matter what happened? Not that I know, David never wanted to tell me. But whatever it was, shouldn't I be forgiving? Shouldn't I accept all people the way they are? Just because some are…'different', doesn't mean they are bad. Megan and Sarah seem very nice and I always did like Sam. Besides, I could never disown my own daughter, even though David insisted. If I really love my fellow as myself I can't turn my back on her. She doesn't deserve that. No one does. She's a human, not better or worse than I am.

For the very first time ever since she got married, Joan McDonnell made an important decision all by herself. She slowly rose from her seat and stiffly walked towards Sam, who had still not moved an inch, but Jody could see her swallow hard. Just in front of the tall, blond woman she stopped and extended her hand.

" It's good to see you again, Sam," Joan McDonnell spoke hoarsely, feeling her hand get caught in Sam's larger one. 

Jody's sigh was audible for everyone present while Lucy raised her eyes to the sky and mouthed a silent 'Thank you'.

" It's good to see you too, Mrs. McDonnell. It's been too long." 

" It has. Can you tell me what happened? I really want to know. David never…." 

" It's not a nice story, mom," Jody interrupted, putting her hand on her mothers shoulder, softly squeezing. " It really isn't."

Joan McDonell turned around to look at her daughter. There was sadness in her eyes and Jody could see the resignation, but also a flicker of something very unknown to her mother, fighting spirit. A spark of pride and resistance.

" You don't have to protect me from the truth, Jody, " she spoke, sounding very determined. " I would really like to hear the whole story. I think it's about time."

"Maybe we should all sit down, " Sam suggested.

" Sarah and I will make you all some sandwiches, " Megan spoke, getting to her feet and pulling Sarah with her. " We know the story and I think this really is a family matter."

" You are my family, " Jody objected. " But I appreciate the thought, Meg, thanks."

Megan smiled and she and Sarah disappeared into the kithen, leaving the padded bench for Jody and Sam to sit on.

Jody entwined her fingers with Sam's and briefly nudged her shoulder with her head. Sam smiled at her and squeezed her friend's warm hand reassuringly.

" Mush balls, " Lucy teased, trying to lighten the mood, which earned her a poke from Fiona who looked at her annoyed.

" I don't know where to begin, " Jody started, looking up at Sam. " So many things have happened."

" The accident, " her mother suggested. " I'd like to know what happened." 

" All right, " Jody answered, taking a deep breath. " I was waiting for Sam to pick me up that morning…"

Taking turns Jody and Sam told Joan McDonnell their story, sometimes interrupting each other to complete it. Their voices were soft and melancholy when relating the events that had happened eight years before, but couldn't hide the warmth and of happiness when telling how they met again and what happened after that. When talking about her reason to come over and the break in at Jody's apartment, Sam took control and her face was grim when she told the attentive audience, including Jody, what had happened that morning. Her clear eyes were pensive when they rested on Fiona, realizing what could have happened to the teenager if she had not been there.

" But how did you know it was Sam whistling?" Gerald asked his youngest sister, who was sitting on the arm rest of Lucy's chair.

Fiona looked at Sam and a mysterious smile crossed her face. Sam chuckled when she realized Fiona wasn't going to tell anybody about the secret whistle that was invented in her childhood.

" That's for you to find out, Birdy boy, " she teased. "You are the scientist of the family."

Jody ignored the bantering of her siblings and had turned to look at her mother, who was very pale and whose eyes shone with unshed tears. She reached out a hand to cover her mother's slightly trembling one.

" Are you all right, mom?"

Joan McDonnell swallowed hard before nodding.

" It's so much to deal with all of a sudden, " she answered, her voice filled with pain, while the same words echoed in her head over and over again.

Oh, David, how could you? How could you?

" I can't believe he did that. I didn't know he was capable of….this," she sighed. " I don't know what to do. I…I have to think it all over, I guess." 

" Are you going to confront him about it?" Lucy asked, feeling sorry for her mother and the situation she was in. 

" Not now, " her mother answered. "Not while he's in hospital because of his heart, but he will be out in a few days. Maybe I should just ask his doctor about it. See if he can take…..the stress."

"Are you gonna tell him about us," Jody asked, feeling like an iron band was being pulled tight around her stomach. 

" About Sam and me?" 

The greatest fear Jody had was her father trying to come in between her and Sam again, even though she had not seen him for years. But now she knew what he was capable of doing and she also knew her father was a very proud and determined man.

" Not if you don't want me to." her mother answered, giving her daughter an inquisitive look.

Jody cast down her eyes and immediately felt Sam's hand gently rubbing her back. She leaned into the contact and felt a strong arm slipping around her shoulders, pulling her closer. With a sigh she rested her head against the familiar shoulder and closed her eyes.

" I don't know, mom. I don't think I know anything right now. I…it's just…Sam and I, we've just recently met again and I couldn't stand the thought of…him…trying to destroy that again."

" We wouldn't let him, honey, not anymore, " Sam's voice rumbled in her ear and a pair of green eyes met a very confident pair of blue ones.

" You sound do sure of yourself." 

" I am sure, " Sam smiled, kissing the top of a reddish blond head and it sounded so much like a promise that it brought tears to Jody's eyes.

" Than I think I should be as well, " she smiled, returning her gaze back to her mother.

" Tell him, mom. Whenever you feel it is the right time, just tell him." 

" I am glad that is all settled, " Lucy suddenly spoke in a voice that sounded so dry Sam had to smile. " But what do we do about these guys that were after Fiona?" 

To be continued in part 7

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