Disclaimer: See Part I and the additional disclaimer/warning below.
(This installment was particularly difficult to write. I have attempted to be as non-graphic as possible while still conveying the intensity of the trauma Katherine suffered.)
WARNING! This installment contains the depiction of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and incest with a child. If you or someone you love has suffered as a result of rape, abuse, or incest, please consider carefully whether or not you want to read this installment. There are many organizations that offer help to victims. Among them is the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. RAINN is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. It operates a national toll-free hotline for victims of sexual assault. RAINN was founded by singer/songwriter Tori Amos (who is herself a rape survivor) and was funded with initial grants from the Atlantic Group and the Warner Music Group. You can visit their website at www.rainn.org. RAINN's hotline is: 1-800-656-HOPE
Copyright © Saggio Amante 2003, 2004
All rights reserved.
Laurel awakened with a start to the sounds of Katherine's moans and moved just in time to miss being hit by her flailing arms.
"Stop! Stop!" Katherine whimpered in her sleep. "Don't, Pip, don't!" She cried, eyes closed, as she thrashed on the bed.
Laurel began to stroke Katherine's hair, feeling its sweaty dampness against her palm. "It's all right, K.G.," she said soothingly. "Shhh. It's all right."
The larger woman seemed to calm almost immediately at the sound of Laurel's voice and her soothing caress. Laurel put her arms around Katherine and pulled her to her breast, holding her loosely and continuing the soothing strokes. Katherine's breathing deepened and her body relaxed.
'What demons do you have inside you, Katherine Grant?' Laurel thought. 'And what have I gotten myself into?'
The dream overtook Katherine. It was always the same. She was seven years old, sitting on the couch in her daddy's study while he worked on some papers in front of him. She worshipped her father and sat silently as she had been taught to do. She knew if she moved or made any sound, he would send her away. She looked out the window behind her father and saw a tall, blond man exit a small red sports car. She couldn't contain her excitement as she watched the young man approach the house and she began to squirm and wriggle on the couch.
"Katherine Louise, sit still and be quiet!" Her father commanded.
"But, daddy, it's ...."
"Get out Katherine! I cannot work with your incessant noise. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, if you make a sound, you cannot stay. Go on, now." He said sternly.
Katherine felt large tears fill her eyes as she slid off the couch, knowing she had disappointed her daddy once again. She walked out into the big hall, tears sliding down her cheeks, just as the front door opened. She saw her mother move to the tall, blond man and give him a hug and a kiss.
"Philip Isaac Porter," her mother said delightedly to her younger brother. "Where in the world have you been?"
"Here, there, and everywhere," he responded rakishly, pulling his sister into a warm embrace and glancing over her shoulder.
"Well, who do we have here?" He asked as he stepped away from his sister and opened his arms. "This can't be Katherine Louise. She's much too grown and beautiful to be that little baby, Katherine," he teased.
"Uncle Pip, Uncle Pip," Katherine squealed as she flung herself into her uncle's arms and nuzzled her nose in his neck. "It's me. It's me. I'm all grown up."
"Why it is indeed Katherine Louise," laughed Pip. "My, my you have grown up. I almost didn't recognize you."
Pip placed the child back down and knelt in front of her. "What's the matter, Princess, he said as he brushed the tears from her cheeks. "Has that brother-in-law of mine been mean to you?"
"No, Uncle Pip," Katherine replied seriously. "I've been bad, but I'll be good from now on. I promise."
Pip put his arms around the little girl. "I know you will, princess," he said fondly. "Here, let Uncle Pip kiss it and make it all better." He placed a light kiss on the child's forehead and cradled her to his chest.
"Katherine, it's time for your nap. Go get Nanny and tell her to put you to bed," Mrs. Grant said stiffly.
"But, mummy," Katherine began.
"No arguments, Katherine Louise, go. Uncle Pip will be here when you wake up," her mother said.
"Will you, Uncle Pip?" Katherine asked pleadingly.
"Yes, my little Kit-Kat, I'll be here when you wake up. I promise," Pip replied, hugging the child tightly. "Now go find Nanny."
Katherine smiled broadly at her uncle and skipped off to find her Nanny.
"Well, Elizabeth," Pip said, "I see things haven't changed too much since I've been gone."
"What do you mean, Pip?"
"I mean, I see Harold is just as insensitive as ever when it comes to Katherine," Pip responded. "For Christ's sake, she's his child and he forever brings her to tears over something. And you're just as bad. Anyone can see that that child craves affection, and you both treat her as if she doesnt exist. I don't know how two cold fish like you ever managed to produce a child at all, much less as lovely a child as Katherine."
"Pip!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "Such rudeness is uncalled for. Harold and I love Katherine, but we will not have her brought up like some wild child. She will learn discipline and appropriate behavior, unlike some people I know." She glared pointedly at Pip.
"God, Elizabeth, she's a child. She deserves some laughter and fun in her life," Pip said. "Look, I'm headed to Orlando, why don't you let me take Katherine for a few days. We can go to Disney World and Sea World. It's time that child was able to act like a child."
Elizabeth looked at her brother fondly. Even though she disapproved of the way he lived his life, she adored him. She always envied his free spirit and wished she had more of his joie de vivre herself although she would never admit it to anyone.
"I'll discuss it with Harold," Elizabeth responded. Just as she finished speaking, her husband walked into the room.
"Pip," he said, proffering his hand. "To what do we owe this honor?"
"I'm in town for a few days on my way to Orlando," Pip replied. "I was just saying to Elizabeth, you ought to let Katherine come with me. I'd enjoy showing her Disney World and Sea World, and I'm sure you two could stand a few days without a child disrupting your lives."
Harold Grant frowned. "I don't know, Pip, she's never been away from home with anyone but us."
"Darling," Elizabeth interrupted, "perhaps it would be a good idea. You and I were thinking of going to the cottage for a week. Wouldn't it be nice for it to be just the two of us without Nanny and Katherine under foot?"
"Well," said Harold, "it may not be such a bad idea. I'm sure Nanny needs a break, too. Let's do it, then. We'll give Nanny the week off, and Katherine can go with Pip."
"Ah, that's settled, then," Pip remarked smiling. "Let me go tell Katherine."
"Pip, don't wake her," Elizabeth said. "She needs her nap."
"Oh, Elizabeth," Pip replied as he headed up the stairs. "Don't be such a boor. I hardly get to see the child as it is, and an hour less sleep is not going to hurt her in the least."
Katherine was wide-awake and beside herself with happiness when Pip came into her room. She could tell by the grin on his face that he had something special to tell her.
"Hi, Kit-Kat," Pip said as he sat on the side of her bed. "I've just finished talking with mummy and daddy. How would you like to take a very special trip with your old Uncle Pip?"
"Where, Uncle Pip?" The child asked with a serious tone.
"How about ..." Pip paused, "Disney World!"
"Oh, Uncle Pip, can we, really?" Katherine sang gleefully.
"Yes, princess, we can. It's all arranged if you want to go," Pip responded.
"Will mummy and daddy and Nanny be coming?" Katherine asked grimly.
"No. Just my big girl, Katherine, and her Uncle Pip." Pip winked. "No grouchy old folks or nannies allowed."
"Really? Really?" Katherine squealed as she flung her arms around Pip's neck.
"Really," Pip replied hugging her.
"You're very quiet, Kit-Kat," Pip said. They were half-way to their destination, and Katherine had not spoken more than two words the entire way. "Are you sad to be so far away from mummy and daddy?"
"Oh, no, Uncle Pip. I'm just trying to be seen and not heard."
"Seen and not heard. What does that mean?"
"Well, mummy and daddy always say 'children should be seen and not heard'. I'm trying to be good so you won't make me go home and miss Disney World."
"Oh, darling Katherine, we are going to have a grand time. Don't worry. And you can talk to Uncle Pip anytime. Deal?," Pip said holding out his hand palm up.
Katherine looked confused. "Hit my hand," Pip told her. She hit his big hand with her little one. "Now, we have a deal," Pip said.
"Deal!" Katherine giggled.
The rest of the ride to Orlando was a happy one. Pip and Katherine laughed and sang silly songs, thoroughly enjoying each others company. When they arrived, they checked into the Omni Hotel and headed out to the park. Small World was Katherine's favorite ride, and they rode it over and over until Pip could take no more.
"Enough, Kit-Kat," Pip said as Katherine begged to go on the ride again for the seventh time. "Let's get something to eat and see some other things. We can come back to Small World again before we leave." He held out his hand, and the small child took it reluctantly.
"Uncle Pip, I have to ... you know," Katherine began hesitantly.
Pip looked puzzled then realized that it had been over four hours since the child had used the bathroom. "Here we go," he said as he spotted a ladies' room. "I'll wait outside for you."
Pip stood waiting for what seemed too long a time. He was just getting ready to go into the ladies' room after Katherine when he saw her come out laughing and holding the hand of a tall, black-haired woman. "Hello, Philip," the woman said. "You never told me your niece was such a beautiful young woman."
A look of panic crossed Pip's face but he forced a grin hoping he would not frighten Katherine. "Mabe," he croaked. "What are you doing here." He reached out to take Katherine's hand.
"Now, Philip," the dark-haired woman said. "Don't be rude. Katherine and I are just getting acquainted. She's invited me to join you for a while."
"How did you find me?" Philip asked.
"Find you? We never lost you," Mabe replied derisively. "Come, little one," she said grinning at Katherine. "Let's go get something to eat."
Katherine looked expectantly at her Uncle Pip. He smiled gently and took her other hand. To anyone watching, they looked like the perfect family.
"Why don't we have room service in your room, Philip." Mabe said, her words more of an order than a question.
"Of course, Mabe," Philip responded with a conciliatory tone, hoping to get Katherine to the safety of the hotel. Katherine skipped happily along between the two adults unaware of the undertones in their conversation.
The trio reached the hotel and immediately went to Philip's suite. "What will you have?" He asked Mabe as congenially as possible under the circumstances.
"Just a small salad and an ice tea," she replied. "What about you, little one?" She said smiling at Katherine.
"A hot dog and some french fries and some pizza and some coke," Katherine said all in one breath, looking hopefully at her Uncle Pip.
"Hot dog, fries, pizza, and coke, it is," he said smiling at her.
As Philip called room service to place their order, Mabe went to the bar and poured them each a drink. She carried them over to Philip just as he was hanging up the phone. "Here, darling," she said, holding out a glass of amber liquid. "I've fixed your favorite."
Philip looked at her warily. "I'll drink yours, Mabe. You can have mine." He ignored the proffered drink and reached for the one Mabe was holding close to her chest. She gave it to him reluctantly.
Philip sipped on his drink as they waited for room service. Katherine sat contentedly on the bed watching cartoons.
"Mabe, you'll have to leave after lunch. We can talk another time," Philip said.
"Of course, Philip," Mabe smiled. "It was delightful seeing you again. We'll have to get together soon."
Philip breathed a sigh of relief. 'Perhaps she is going to be reasonable,' he thought. A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts, and he went to let room service in. He tipped the server and let him out. As he turned back to Mabe and Katherine, he felt his head spin and his knees buckle. "Mabe," he cried before lapsing into unconsciousness. "What have you done?"
"Ah, Philip, you're so predictable," Mabe replied.
Philip awoke to the coolness of cement under his cheek.
"About time you awoke, Scarabeus," he heard Mabe croon.
Philip got to his feet slowly, still shaky from the narcotics. He felt the cloth of the black cloak drape to his knees and Mabe pull the hood up over his head. She placed the scepter in his hands. "Welcome home, Lord Scarabeus," she intoned.
Philip looked at the large stone altar ahead of him. Candles burned, lighting the cavern with an ominous glow. He saw the bodies standing at attention surrounding the altar and heard their moaning song. He saw them part and turn, standing at attention before him, still chanting. In their hands were silver knives with gold handles, tips pointed downward.
Mabe took Philips hand and led him to the altar. He saw Katherine lying there almost spread- eagled as if asleep, naked, with a large sword covering her tiny body, its hilt just under her chin and its point at her feet. Her small hands and feet were tied.
Philip knew what he had to do for to fail would surely mean his niece's death. He handed the scepter to Mabe and removed his cloak revealing his nakedness. He lifted the sword from Katherine's body and looked at her with glazed eyes. He moved toward the small body on the altar.
Katherine opened her eyes and looked at him groggily. "Stop. Stop." She whimpered fearfully. "Don't, Pip, don't!"
"It's all right, just close your eyes, my virgin angel," Pip intoned mechanically as he joined her on the altar. "You belong to Scarabeus now."
The bodies around the altar continued their keening, their backs to the scene as it played out.
Mabe looked coldly into the frightened eyes of the child before her.
Katherine felt her beloved uncle move on her and felt the searing pain of their joining tearing her apart before she lapsed into unconsciousness.
Katherine awoke with a start not realizing at first where she was. Her body was drenched with sweat, and her breathing was ragged. She felt a pair of arms holding her loosely and a hand stroking her hair lovingly. 'Laurel,' she thought as her mind began to clear. 'Oh, God, I hoped you wouldn't see this so soon.'
She rolled away from Laurel and onto her back. She took deep breaths to calm her shaking insides then reached for the smaller woman's hand bringing it to her mouth in a soft kiss before she released it.
"I'm sorry if I frightened you," Katherine whispered.
"It's all right, K.G. Do you want to talk about it?" Laurel asked hopefully.
"Not now but soon."
"We will need to talk about this, you know." Laurel said warmly, surprising herself with the intense connection she felt for the woman lying next to her.
"I know," Katherine replied.
The two women lay in silence listening to each others breathing until finally Katherine spoke again. "Laurel, I'm not good at relationships. I'd like for us to work toward something. I don't know what, but the connection I feel when I'm with you is something I've never felt in my life. I'm hoping we can continue to see each other and see where this can lead. You need to know about me and I need to tell you, but I need to know if there is a chance for us." She held her breath.
Laurel reached across the space between them and placed her small hand into Katherine's larger one. "We still have a lot to learn about each other. We both have ghosts in our closets. I'm hoping we can let them out and try to build some kind of relationship here."
Katherine exhaled and smiled. "I hope so, too," she said softly, bringing Laurels hand to her lips..
Dr. Singer looked at her clock and wondered if Katherine was going to show up. She had just about decided that her patient had changed her mind when the office door opened and Katherine strode in.
"Ah, Katherine," the doctor said. "Are you ready to go to work?"
"Yes, Doctor Singer, I'm more than ready."
"Good. Now sit back in the chair and tell me how things went with your new friend."
Katherine settled back in the recliner and began to talk.
To be continued in Part 7Return to the Academy