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Rafe arrived at the small airstrip about twenty minutes after his departure from the Arkady compound. As ever, the pilot asked no questions. Rafe was grateful...he had the uneasy feeling that Darien would screw up the plan somehow. And if if Darien harms any of those girls, Rafe silently swore, by all that's sacred, I will kill him!
Derek was in his office, reading over a fax which had just arrived from the Seattle House regarding the atmospheric disturbances which Nick had mentioned. The sound of a car door thudding shut disturbed his reading and Derek looked up frowning...a frown which deepened when he saw Philip running toward the House as if demons pursued him.
Derek put down the fax and raced downstairs. Philip was obviously very upset, and that was more of a concern at the moment than the disturbances on the night George was washed up on the Washington coastline. He nearly collided with Philip as the young man flew inside. Derek grasped Philip's shoulders as the priest gasped, "Lissa's in trouble, Derek!"
For the first time, Derek saw the paper in Philip's trembling hand and he drew it from the priest's unprotesting fingers. What he saw there was confusing, to say the least. He recognized Philip's handwriting without difficulty, but the message wasn't written in his godson's voice. No, Derek mused, No, it sounds more like...
"Philip, when was this written?" the scientist asked, leading Philip into the study. The young priest took several gulps of air, trying to force the words out, and Derek eased the younger man onto the divan.
"No more than forty-five minutes ago. It was Winston, Derek...your father is tryin' t' warn us. Lissa is in grave danger, Derek, we have t' contact her!" Philip gasped once he had some breath back. Derek looked at his friend, startled. It was over an hour from the Legacy House to St. Bart's. Philip managed a tired smile and said, "I encouraged the taxi driver t' break a few traffic laws."
"The danger must be growing...let me see that again," Derek requested. Philip handed him the paper, sitting back against the back of the divan. He drew deep, gulping breaths and Derek wondered uneasily if he should find Rachel. However, Philip seemed to be relaxing...though not much, and Derek returned his attention to the paper in his hands. It hit him on the second reading and he muttered, "An old enemy...not Hitchcock...Arkady! Philip, we must leave for Mexico immediately. Can you arrange it?"
There was the barest hesitation from the younger man, then Philip took another deep breath and replied, "Any way I can. You should probably tell Alex, Nick, and Rachel." Derek nodded...yes, that was a very good idea...then Philip continued with a thoughtful frown, "Derek, what did you mean about the danger growing?" Before the scientist could answer, Philip's eyes widened and he exclaimed, "You knew! You've known all along, haven't you?"
It had always been Mr. Arkady's contention that Darien Blume was entirely too impatient for his own good. He was hot-headed, impulsive, and no one doubted that it would end up being Darien's downfall. No one, except Darien. He only knew that when it was time to attack, it was time to attack.
Across the room, he could see Lissa Rayne sitting on a desk, laughing at the jokes of the other officers. Her young sister was blushing and laughing, while Sandy Horowitz stood watch over both of them. She reminded Darien of a mother, guarding her young. Darien had always hated his mother.
On the other side of the room, he saw Javier Escobar watching him steadily. Who died first? Escobar? The bitch partner of Rayne's brat? Her succulent little sister? The desire was intensifying now, and Darien knew the time was coming, the time for him to strike.
Something was very, very wrong. Lissa's internal radar, which always warned her of approaching danger, was almost deafening. She had been glancing around the room for the last few minuntes, while laughing at the jokes of her colleagues, trying to ascertain the source of danger.
For the first time, she noticed Javier Escobar making his way to her side, and Lissa murmured to Sandy, "Keep an eye on Maeve. I have a feeling the excretement is about to hit the blades." Sandy nodded, their previous argument forgotten. There was a wariness in her eyes as she moved even closer to Maeve. Lissa slipped lightly to her feet, continuing, "If things get crazy, get her outta here."
"You got it. What are you going to do?" Sandy asked. Lissa started to answer, but instead, grasped her younger sister by the waist and pulled her down under a desk. She grasped Sandy and yanked her down as well, just as gunfire echoed through the precinct. Sandy cried out hoarsely, "Take cover...oh, shit, oh shit, oh shit!"
Lissa glanced at her partner and gulped, seeing the bloodstain on Sandy's shirt. Her insides knotted, but Lissa whispered, "Hang on, Sandy. Maeve, are you all right?" There was a frightened assent from her sister, and Lissa continued, "I need something for Sandy's wound. She was shot in the chest, right side. I have to stop the bleeding."
Lissa was reaching into her sister's hiding place when once more, her internal radar went off. Lissa half-turned, but something blunt slammed into the side of her head, knocking her into the desk. Through a haze of dizziness and pain, Lissa heard Javier Escobar screaming something in Spanish, then there was another burst of gunfire.
Lissa's arms and legs felt like rubber...they were absolutely useless. That didn't stop her from trying to reach out to Sandy, but there was another crack from whatever hit her the first time. Lissa began sliding toward the darkness, hearing her sister scream her name. She thought of her father, who still didn't know how much Lissa loved him, and then there was nothing.
It wasn't that difficult for Darien to get away...most of the police officers in the station were attending to the wounded and the soon-to-be dead. He threw the unconscious detective over his shoulder and carried her from the station. They wouldn't risk hitting her, he knew.
Outside, he opened the car door and threw Lissa Rayne into the back seat as if she was a bag of potatoes. Briefly, he considered hitting her again, but decided against it. Mr. Arkady would be very displeased if he did strike her.
Besides, there was no time to waste...he had to go to the airstrip. No doubt that big dummy Rafe was there. Blume snorted as he backed the car up and headed out of the station parking lot. Rafe was just a big, dumb ox. He had no brains, just brawn...but he didn't need to be smart. Blume was the smarter of the two...he had all the brains.
As Derek had requested, Rachel went to the hospital psychiatric ward to evaluate the man whom the others honestly believed was from ancient England. Personally, the psychiatrist thought the whole idea was prepostrous, but Derek was totally serious. Nick had told her before she left that he had taught the man some modern English.
"Hello, George," Rachel said as she entered the hospital room, "I'm Dr. Corrigan. Derek asked me to come take a look at you." The man calling himself 'St. George' sat up and Rachel caught her breath. Neither Lissa nor Alex had warned her that their alleged time traveler was handsome...and really, handsome was being mild about it.
He was, as Nick had said, fairly young...no more than thirty-four or thirty-five. Long black hair fell to just above his shoulders, and pale blue eyes peered out from under black bangs. He wore a mustache and beard, which accentuated his extremely fair skin. He said very slowly, "Good day to you, Mistress Doctor. Lord Derek sent you?"
Rachel smiled and answered, "Yes. Although I wouldn't let Derek hear you call him that." George looked befuddled, rather than amused, and Rachel continued, "So you're from England. What year were you born?"
"I am told that you call my homeland 'England.' I am told that the year is 1996. And that I now live in a place called 'the USA.' Ever since I woke up, I have confronted strange things...many wonderful, many confusing. Lord Derek's daughter, Lady Elizabeth, she is like no princess I have met before...but in spirit, she is a princess," George replied. His English was stilted, as if it wasn't his native language. And yet, his accent was unmistakeably British.
Rachel started to speak, but George continued, "And the Lady Alexandra...I have never met a princess like her before. But once Lady Elizabeth told me that she was a princess from far away, I knew it to be true. Perhaps they carry not the title 'princess,' but princesses they are. In my home, priests are wizened old men in brown robes. They are not young. How old is that boy who says that he is a priest? How many years has he walked upon this earth?"
"Philip is twenty-eight years old...he'll be twenty- nine in February. He is no boy, though he does look very young. And he is a priest," Rachel replied. She had the un-nerving sense that the others were right about this man. She had never encountered someone like this before, someone from the truly ancient times. Rachel continued, "And yes, Lissa and Alex are princesses."
"So old? I thought that he was no more than twenty! He looks very, very young for a man of twenty-eight. I have been told many times that...Philip? Yes. So, Philip truly is a priest, as he says he is? And yet, he speaks so strangely! Does he speak as a priest for this time, Mistress Doctor?" George asked and Rachel nodded.
"Yes, he does. He speaks as a priest of this time, and as a priest for the place where he was born. Do you know of a land called 'Erin,' George?" Rachel asked, remembering the ancient, poetic name for Ireland. He responded with a puzzled frown, and Rachel continued, "Eire? Ierne? Hibernia?" George's expression lightened on the second word, and Rachel asked, "You know of Ierne?"
George started to speak, but a nurse said over the intercom, "Paging Dr. Corrigan...paging Dr. Rachel Corrigan." Rachel sighed and quickly excused herself, then walked down the hall to the nurse's station. The nurse on duty said, "A telephone call from Dr. Derek Rayne."
Derek? Rachel picked up the phone and before she could speak, Derek said quietly, "Lissa is danger. Can you be at the castle within an hour? I'll need your help." Rachel assented without a second thought, and hung up. The rest of the interview would have to wait until later.
Derek didn't even bother answering Philip's question, and the young man didn't press. Instead, they both got to work...within twenty minutes, Rachel had returned to the castle, and Philip had made the necessary arrangements at his parish. It had been decided that Rachel and Alex would remain behind, in case Arkady called with ransom demands.
This didn't go over well with Alex, but Derek was too busy making his own arrangements to talk about his decision. At last, the bags were packed, the chopper had been fueled, and as Nick and Philip began to load the Legacy helicopter. Alex once more broached the subject of the journey.
"I want to come with you...Lissa will need me," she said stubbornly. Her arms were folded over her chest, and there was a distinctly determined expression in her brown eyes. Derek merely shook his head as Rachel joined them. The psychiatrist was looking from one to the other, obviously concerned about them both. It will be all right, Rachel, Derek thought, just as soon as I'm certain Lissa is safe.
"No, Alex, I need you here. I'm certain Arkady will call here, to gloat. It's possible that he's taking Lissa in order to get the Mayan ritual cup. And if we're all out of the House, then he'll get suspicious," he replied and Alex's brown eyes darkened even further.
Nick and Philip joined the trio, the priest saying quietly, "It's time. We're flyin' directly to Mexico City, so you can contact us at any time on the helicopter. There's still a chance that Lissa hasn't been taken yet...to abduct her so soon after her arrival would be foolish."
Alex was still staring at Derek, and the expression in her eyes alarmed him. She took a step forward and said in a low, cold voice, "I would advise you to remember the last time I stayed behind during a rescue mission. My best friend was killed, and I couldn't be there for her. I really hope that the same thing doesn't happen this time!"
Derek's blood ran cold as Alex spun around and walked back toward the House. Rarely had he seen Alex so angry, and it un-nerved him when she did become angry. Philip said quietly into the silence that followed, "I'll talk wi' her. Don't leave wi'out me, all right?" Nick nodded and Philip walked swiftly after Alex. Rachel was staring after the researcher with undisguised concern, but she stepped to Derek's side as he watched Philip stride toward Alex.
"I never even considered...I should have seen it sooner. Alex stayed here under my orders, and blamed herself when Julia was killed. I was so concerned with your anger and grief, Nick, I never considered Alex's," Derek said softly. He shook himself and looked at Rachel, adding, "You might want to bring Katherine to the castle while we're gone." Rachel nodded and Derek got into the helicopter.
Nick said nothing as they waited for Philip, but Derek could feel his disapproval. At last, the psychic said quietly, "You think Alex should be coming with us...that Rachel should remain behind alone."
"It doesn't matter what I think about Alex coming with us, Derek, you're the boss. But you should be a little more careful in the future. You keep treating Alex like she's nothing more than your grad assistant, and you won't like what happens," Nick replied. He fell silent, and there was an uncomfortable silence in the helicopter.
"We will bring her home safely, Alex," Philip said quietly, putting his hands on Alex's shoulders. She stiffened at first, then turned to face him. The young priest asked softly, "Are you angry wi' me, then? For not bein' in Ireland, for not protectin' Julia?"
Alex shook her head and answered huskily, "No. And in my mind, I know that my being in Ireland would have made no difference. But dammit, I get so angry with Derek sometimes! He keeps secrets, expects us to tell him everything...and that's on one of his good days! Now we find out that he knew all along that Lissa was in danger...his own daughter... and he did nothing to warn her! Nothing!"
Philip tried to think of something to say. It didn't matter that Derek hadn't known the source of the danger, or even that Mexico City would be where Lissa was abducted. Nor did it matter that Derek would probably never forgive himself if anything happened to Lissa. And it didn't even really matter that Derek could be incredibly high-handed. Once more, Alex was being forced to wait helplessly, while someone dear to her was in trouble. At last, he took both of her hands and said, "I make you this solemn vow, Alexandra. We will bring Lissa home safely. Not in a casket, not in a body bag, not in an urn. Especially not in an urn."
This was said with a shudder and Alex laughed. An urn had caused the Legacy...more specifcally, Philip and Lissa themselves...a great deal of trouble before they destroyed it a few months earlier. Philip grinned, which faded as he continued, "I can't promise that she won't be on a stretcher, or in a wheelchair...I can't promise that she won't be in pain. But she will be alive, Alex."
"How can you be so sure of that, Philip? For all we know, Arkady could have Lissa by now? You heard what Derek and Nick said...he actually thought he could control that demon! Arkady is a fool!" Alex replied. Well, Philip thought, at least her anger is directed away from Derek, and away from herself. That's something. Alex repeated, "How can you be sure that you can bring Lissa back safely?"
"Have faith, Alex. Have faith in Lissa's strength and resourcefulness, have faith in Nick and in me, even if you can't have faith in Derek. We won't rest until we find Lissa. You know that," Philip replied. There was more he could have said, but it would have been redundant.
No, Philip thought, no, leave it where it is. Alex has made her position perfectly clear...and this anger has been buildin' for a long time. I'm not much better...I take Alex for granted just as much as Derek does. And once we bring Lissa back safely, Alex will relax.
The young priest continued after a moment, "And in any event, you know Lissa. She doesn't give up wi'out a fight. Believe in her, Alex. She needs you to believe in her more now than she ever has before." Well, Philip thought, hopefully, Alex won't feel so helpless now.
Alex smiled for the first time and she asked softly, "I'm being stupid, aren't I? If anyone can find Lissa, if anyone can make sure Arkady doesn't hurt her, then you can. Forgive me for my lack of faith?" Philip nodded with a smile, then Alex said, growing serious once more, "You be careful as well. No foolish heroics, all right?"
Philip briefly considered making a flippant remark, but instead replied, "I will. We all will. I won't tell you not to worry. Just be safe, all right?" Alex nodded and Philip gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. He murmured to Rachel, "She'll be all right, I think...but don't leave her alone. The House is too big for that."
Rachel nodded in understanding, and Philip continued to the helicopter, where Nick and Derek were waiting. As he got in and buckled up, he waved to Alex. She waved back, looking terribly, terribly alone as the three men flew south.
There were several moments of pandemonium after the shooting stopped. Javier Escobar, who had collapsed when the bullet hit his protective vest, struggled to his feet. The carnage sickened him. A few yards away, Sandy Horowitz was reclining against a desk, her face white as she pressed a jacket to the right side of her chest.
Escobar immediately dialed the number for an ambulance, replying curtly to the questions asked. When the dispatcher was satisfied, Escobar went to Sandy and applied steady pressure to her wound, saying, "The ambulance is on the way. We'll get you to a hospital. Where are Maeve and Lissa?" A dark head popped out from under the desk.
"That blond man took her," Maeve answered in a quavering voice. Escobar's blood ran cold. Blume! Merde, I was right all along about him! Hijo de una puta! Maeve continued, now sobbing, "He hit her with the end of his gun while she was trying to help Sandy!" Escobar held his arm out to her, and Maeve buried her face against his shoulder.
"What the hell is going on, Escobar?" Sandy rasped, then her face went white. Escobar pressed his finger to his lips, and Sandy lay her head back for several moments. She closed her eyes, then whispered, "What happened? Who was that guy Blume? Why did he want Lissa?" The questions came tumbling out of her mouth, despite her loss of blood.
"I don't know, Sandy," Escobar answered honestly, "but I intend to find out. Dammit, I knew I couldn't trust him! I knew something seemed wrong with everything about him!" The paramedics arrived and they immediately began examining Sandy. The police lieutenant drew Maeve to her feet, keeping his arm around her shoulders, and said, "I'll take you to my wife, at least until Dr. Rayne is notified." Maeve nodded, still shaking, and Escobar promised, "We will find Lissa. By any means necessary, chiquita, we will find her."
In the air over Lissa's prone body, Winston Rayne hovered protectively. It was actually close quarters in the back seat, even for a ghost, but Winston didn't care. This is ludicrous, he thought angrily, absolutely ridiculous! Why didn't the idiot stick to the original plan?
Don't ask questions when you already have the answers, Winston, Anna answered reprovingly. She had been his constant companion ever since his return to San Francisco to warn Philip. And bless the lad, he had wasted absolutely no time in warning Derek as well. Winston knew that his youngest child would soon be on his way to Mexico. Anna continued after a moment, Asking foolish questions shan't help Lissa. And she is our primary concern...the poor child will most likely blame herself when she awakens.
Especially since, Winston began...Anna, look out! The warning was un-necessary, of course...nothing could harm Anna now. But as Blume's speeding car spun out of control and swerved into the opposite lane, hitting another car, Winston's first reaction was to protect his wife. His second was to make sure that his granddaughter was alive.
The child still breathes, Winston, Anna told him, although Blume does not. He will be joining Hitler and his kind in hell very shortly, I think. There was a cold satisfaction in her voice. Lissa moaned softly, but remained unconscious, and Anna continued, His kind roasts nicely.
Winston shuddered and told his wife, You frighten me sometimes, Anna. I've never met anyone who hated the Nazis more than you do. What did you see before I joined you and your brother? As ever, his wife remained silent on that subject. Winston sighed and continued, There will be another coming shortly. I've read his soul...he is a good man. Until Derek arrives with Philip and Nick, this man Rafe will take good care of our child.
Trusting her husband to keep watch over their granddaughter, Anna Rayne materialized in the vehicle which Darien Blume had hit with his car. After forty years, crossing the veil was still difficult for her. But she was certain that the other car's occupant would need her. A young woman was slumped over the steering wheel...she didn't seem much older than Anna's granddaughter. As Anna suspected, the younger woman's spirit rose out of her body and Anna smiled tenderly at her, saying, Hello, dear one. I am your guide, Anna. You were Cecilia Escobar, yes?
Y-yes, the young woman replied, but-but I cannot be dead. My husband...we have guests tonight, three young norteamericanas. Anna merely smiled sadly, and Cecilia Escobar continued, What language did you speak? It was not Spanish, it was not English. Why did I understand you?
Because, dear one, where you and I are going, language has no meaning. And I was speaking Dutch, the language of my youth. I will explain everything on the way...there is so much which I must tell you. I do understand how you feel, Cecilia. I had to leave my husband, and two small children. My son Derek was only a few months old at the time...but you can watch over your small ones. I only hope that your husband is stronger than my poor Winston was. Come, Cecilia. Lingering will help no one. She took Cecilia's hand and guided the younger woman into the light. Rafe had been content with silence during most of the trip...he had a lot to consider. The pilot would break the silence ever so often to explain a change in the flying pattern. But, as they began the descent into an airstrip just outside of Mexico City, the pilot said, "Senor Rafael, I have bad news. There was a shooting at a police station, and it's feared that an American detective named 'Elizabeth Rayne' was taken hostage. Is that not..."
"Yes...gracias, Jaime. Oh, Blume, you fool! The last thing Mr. Arkady wanted is attention, and you'll attract the attention of every law enforcement agency on both sides of the border!" Rafe muttered angrily. After a moment, he continued, "Jaime, there is a car waiting for me at the airport?" The pilot nodded and Rafe smiled.
"Excellent. I have Blume's escape map, so I'm certain I can find them. In the meantime, listen for any news of car crashes. If I know that moron, he was probably driving too fast when he left the police station after shooting it up," Rafe answered and Jaime nodded in acknowledgement. Rafe sat back. There was nothing to do now, but wait.
For the next several seconds, Winston waited alone in the car, studying his granddaughter's still face. She looked so much like her grandmother, it broke his heart. Looking at her, he saw the spitfire young Resistance fighter whom he had married so many years earlier. She is the living image of Anna, he thought, Anna returned to the mortal world.
Winston flinched as his eyes returned to the bruise on Elizabeth's forehead, wishing that he could heal that injury. The butt of the gun had smashed into her temple, and Winston hoped with all of his heart that Anna was right...that the denizens of hell would be coming for Blume soon.
As his wife had predicted, Blume's spirit was sucked down into the underworld amid his screams and an unholy fire. Winston moved closer to Elizabeth's prone form protectively, but none of the fire touched her. And a good thing. Winston would have made Satan suffer for harming his grandchild!
Now is a fine time to display your paternal affection. You are dead, and our son is still in pain from what you did to him, Anna said tartly as she returned. Winston didn't reply...he had heard this many times during the last twenty-seven mortal years. If there was one thing Anna had never forgiven him, it was his treatment of Derek and Marina.
Anna sighed, then continued, However, I know you have never forgiven yourself for what you did to Derek. Marina has the memory of me to ease the pain, but our son was just an infant when I was forced to leave you. The question is, dear heart, have you ever forgiven me?
I never forgave myself, Anna...and I have never forgiven your brother. It was his death which sent you into premature labor with Derek, and why did you insist on naming our son after him? For years, I couldn't look at Derek without seeing your brother, Winston replied.
You know why, Winston. Just as I know why you are protecting Lissa. You are guarding her, to atone for never telling our son that you loved him. Or for never telling Derek how proud you were of him. Do you remember what you did only a half hour before you were killed? You ridiculed him for a simple mistake with Latin. And you have never forgiven yourself for that, she said.
Winston turned away from her sweet, but relentless voice. He didn't bother denying her words...he knew them to be the truth. He had loved his son so much...had been so proud of Derek, but his own pain and bitterness had gotten in the way. And protecting Derek's daughter was Winston's only chance to redeem himself as a father.
For the next thirty minutes, little effort by the police was made to find Lissa Rayne...they had problems of their own. More than ten people had been killed when Darien Blume opened fire in the police station, and even more were badly injured. Among the second group was Sandy Horowitz.
At the detective's insistence, she was one of the last to be transferred to the local hospital. Once she regained control of her emotions, Maeve began helping out with those who were wounded less severely. She had learned years earlier that the best way to cope with her fear and grief was to help other people. And right now, she was terrified out of her mind. More than anything, she wanted Philip here.
As she bound the shoulder of one wounded officer, Maeve found just thinking about her sister's best friend calmed her. She could almost hear Philip's soft Irish lilt in her head, and she smiled dreamily. Lissa had once said that Philip's accent was musical, back before she remembered him from her childhood. Back before she was shot...back before Maeve's life was turned upside down.
She tried not to think about how much her life had changed during the last few months...it was almost scary, really. Learning that her sister, the woman who had raised her, had been like her second mother, wasn't even really her sister...learning that their adorable young parish priest was Lissa's childhood best friend, a childhood which Lissa had forced herself to forget in order to protect herself.
A cry of rage snapped Maeve out of her reverie and she looked up. Across the room, Javier Escobar was trembling with rage, his face white as he stared at the telephone receiver in his hand. A chill went down Maeve's spine... Oh, no, she thought, what's happened this time?
Once Rafe's plane landed and he signed for Mr. Arkady's Jeep, it only took him ten minutes to find Darien Blume's car. Rafe shook his head, sickened at the carnage. The driver of the other car had been killed as well...according to her driver's licence, she was Cecilia Escobar, a thirty- one year old wife and mother of three.
At least Cecilia Escobar was in one piece, which was more than Rafe could say for his late colleague. The impact with Cecilia's car had severed Blume's arm. His head had slammed through the windshield, and Rafe couldn't tell where Blume's chest began and the steering wheel ended. It was a thoroughly unpleasant sight. Rafe was fervently grateful that he hadn't eaten anything for the last ten hours.
He was also grateful that Lissa Rayne was still unconscious, though the sight of the purple and green bruise on her right temple distressed him. That bastard hit her, Rafe thought, it's just as well that he's dead. Otherwise, I'd kill him myself! The big man very gently scooped the young woman into his arms and carried her to his car. With infinite tenderness, as a father would show his newborn baby, Rafe placed the American detective in the passenger side of the Jeep, carefully buckling her into the seat. From the airport, he would call the police and tell them of the accident...and then, he would fly back to Peru.
The silence was deafening. For so long, Philip had laughed at that phrase...but the silence in the helicopter as he, Nick, and Derek was deafening. It usually didn't pay to talk in the helicopter anyhow...the machine made too much noise. But this was a different kind of silence.
There was a coldness in this silence...the young priest didn't know quite how to explain it. He only knew that it made him very, very uncomfortable. Philip glanced at Nick, who returned the look solemnly. He argued with Derek while I was talkin' wi' Alex, the young priest realized, and whatever he said really got to Derek.
As if hearing Philip's thoughts, Nick asked, "How is Alex?" Philip looked at him quickly, and Nick smiled, adding, "I figured it was time someone said something. Worrying about Lissa isn't gonna help anyone until we get to Mexico, so I thought I'd see about Alex."
"She's all right, I think. Angry, frustrated... anxious. She's never totally forgiven herself for Julia's death, you know...thinks she could have prevented it by bein' in Ireland. She knows in her mind that it wasn't her fault, but her heart hasn't totally accepted that. Now she sees it happenin' all over again with Lissa," Philip answered quietly. Nick's mouth tightened.
"I hope she's wrong. What about you? Why did Winston try to contact you?" he asked. Philip shrugged with a sigh. He had been wondering about that himself for the last few hours, ever since he read that message in his own hand- writing. Why had Winston chosen him as his medium? Nick sighed, "I don't suppose it matters, not really."
"No. The only thin' I can think of is...well, Winston drove my mother t' the hospital when I was born. I s'pose he felt a kind of connection t' me, since he was one of the first t' see me," Philip answered helplessly. He didn't know what else to say...what else it could be?
"I remember when he held you," Derek said from behind them. Startled, Philip turned to face his godfather, who continued in a faraway voice, "I remember the expression on his face...and for that one brief second, I was so jealous. He had never looked at me like that...I had never seen that kind of tenderness in his eyes when he looked at me."
Philip and Nick exchanged a startled glance as Derek went on, "Then I was ashamed, of being jealous of an innocent baby. Only a moment later, both the jealousy and the shame was gone, because Maeve asked me to be your godfather. My father froze, and for a moment, just for a moment, I saw a hurt look in his eyes. Then he very gently passed you to me, and told me that I was to take very, very good care of you."
Philip had never heard this story before...not even from his mother, who had delighted in telling him stories about his infancy. Another look passed between the two young men in the front seats. Derek was silent for several moments, then said, "I swore that as long as I drew breath, no harm would come to this child. A foolish vow, of course- but I meant it with all of my fourteen year old heart."
Derek sat back, retreating into himself once more, a distant look in his eyes. Philip looked at Nick, who returned the look helplessly. Neither man knew what to do. Neither man knew what to say. What could they say to their mentor's memory of that day? And so, they flew in silence.
Rafe returned to the airstrip where Jaime was waiting. The pilot's eyes widened ever so slightly when he saw Lissa's limp body draped over Rafe's arms, and the big man said, "That moron Blume got himself killed. And the jackass hit Detective Rayne. Mr. Arkady will not be please!"
Jaime shook his head, and Rafe continued, "Take Detective Rayne and get her settled. A woman was killed when Blume's car hit hers. I should call the police and let them know about that." Jaime nodded and took Lissa from Rafe.
Rafe made the necessary phone call, wondering about the dead woman's family, then head back to the airplane. Jaime had already started the engines, and Rafe sat down in a seat opposite Lissa's. Jaime had strapped her and Rafe smiled, pleased with his pilot's consideration.
They had only been in the air for ten minutes when Rafe phoned Mr. Arkady from the cellular phone in the plane. Once his employer answered, Rafe said, "I have good news and bad news, sir. The good news is, I have Detective Rayne with me now, and we're on our way back to Peru."
"And the bad news is Blume got himself killed somehow. I was expecting this," Arkady said, sounding rather bored. Rafe had hated his 'partner,' but their boss's lack of reaction disturbed him. After a moment, Arkady asked, "What about the girl? What did you use to sedate her?" Rafe gulped, glancing at the dazed young woman lying a few yards away. She seemed conscious, but she certainly wasn't alert. Poor child, he thought, she will have a nasty headache when she wakes up fully. And drugs will only make it worse.
"Blume used the butt of his gun, sir. She has a rather nasty bruise on her forehead. I was wondering if I should give herself something to make her sleep...she isn't very alert. Not a drug, per se...just something that will let her sleep peacefully," Rafe replied. There was a moment of silence, then Rafe heard some foul Russian phrases coming from his boss. The big man winced, glancing over at the dazed girl before remembering that she couldn't hear Mr. Arkady. Still, once a father, always a father.
At last, Mr. Arkady had calmed himself and said, "Yes, do sedate her. I've spent the last few months gleaning every bit of information I can about this girl, ever since I learned that she was Derek Rayne's daughter. She's dangerous, but I don't want her harmed further. At least, not until Rayne gets here." Mr. Arkady gave a low chuckle, then continued, "Excellent work, Raphael. Excellent work, indeed, and you will be rewarded suitably." Then he hung up.
A frisson of fear shot down Rafe's spine as he slowly replaced the receiver of the cell phone in its cradle. What did his boss mean by that? I don't want to know, he decided, I don't want to know what he plans to do to Detective Rayne once her father gets here. Because he won't have a chance to harm her...I won't let him!
Victor Arkady hung up the phone, swearing under his breath. Damn that Blume! He hadn't wanted Lissa Rayne harmed at all, until Rayne arrived in Peru to rescue her. At which point, Arkady would have blown her spine out and left her to die in her father's arms. Well, that part was still possible. It was just that Arkady hated wrinkles.
Arkady turned his attention to the profile he had compiled on Elizabeth Marie Anne Rayne over the last two months, ever since learning of her existence. She was twenty-six years old, born in March of 1970. Her mother had been Fiona Summers-Reynolds, the oldest of three sisters, all of whom were in the Legacy. The two older sisters, Fiona and Alicia, were both in the San Francisco Legacy House with Derek Rayne...they were both Legacy members at the times of their respective deaths. It was a hazardous job, of course.
Summers-Reynolds had been killed more than sixteen years earlier on Angel Island, in a random shooting...the second sister, Alicia, had died in 1975 at the age of twenty-five, while on a Legacy mission with Derek Rayne and her fiance, Randolph Hitchcock. Arkady arched a brow. Perhaps I should look up this Randolph Hitchcock, he thought, but later. Not now. The youngest sister, Marianna ('Molly') was thirty-three, the precept of the Toronto House.
As a nineteen year old college student, Elizabeth Reynolds (as she had been known at the time) spent her senior year of college at the University of Toronto, while living with her aunt. She was rather reclusive...going only to her classes and an occasional performance at the theatre.
Arkady frowned. That was odd...he knew of Marianna Summers. She was quite the social butterfly, and he would have expected her to encourage her niece to mingle as well. I wonder if there's something I haven't found yet, Arkady thought, some reason for her seclusion?
Lissa. Lissa, can you hear me, child? Lissa bit back the whimper of pain...her head ached. If she hadn't known better, she would have sworn she was waking up after a hangover. But she had learned years earlier that alcohol and the Sight didn't mix well. So she never drank...however, she still had no idea why her head hurt like hell.
And who was that talking to her? She knew it wasn't her captor...he had a thick accent which Lissa couldn't place. The voice now speaking to her was also masculine, and it did have an accent, but very slight. It reminded her in some ways of Philip's soft lilt. But it wasn't Irish. The voice spoke again, this time whispering, Listen to me, child. Do not fight the darkness...it will give you time to grow stronger. And you will not be alone.
Lissa tried to speak, tried to ask her companion about his identity, but her mouth felt as if it was filled with cotton. The voice added, And I am Winston Rayne, your grandfather. Rest now, little one. Just rest.
Lissa felt something stab into her arm and fuzzily realized that she was being drugged. But she didn't have the strength to fight back...not now, you don't. But you will. Just rest, child. Rest and trust us. Lissa tried to say that there was no reason why she should trust him, but the words didn't come as she slid back into the darkness.
She doesn't give her trust easily, Winston observed, does she? I suppose I can't blame her, but it would be nice if she showed just a little respect. I am her grandfather, after all. He was seated behind Lissa on the small commuter plane...it was a far cry from the Legacy planes, of course.
You are being tiresome, Winston. In the first place, Lissa is in no shape to treat anyone with respect. In the second, you obviously haven't been listening to her conversations with the others during the last few months, Anna replied. Winston noticed the change in address...she had started calling their granddaughter 'Lissa' as well.
Winston flinched. He had, in fact, been listening to his granddaughter talking with the other members of the Legacy during the last few months. He had heard Derek tell Lissa, in a halting voice, of how Winston had mistakenly killed the wrong Cantwell sister...thus robbing a small girl of her mother. Derek had not, however, told Lissa about the reaction of Ruth's daughter to that news.
I do not deserve her forgiveness for killing Ruth, Winston told his wife quietly, but I will never forgive Rachel Corrigan for blaming Derek. Never! He was just a boy, only slightly older than little Maeve is now.
I know, dear one. I know. I was angry with her as well when poor Derek told her about your fatal mistake. But, Derek did save her daughter, and that made things right between our families. Even Ruth stopped harping on the fact that you killed her, rather than Rebecca, Anna replied.
Winston gritted his teeth and answered, Derek has saved Katherine's life more than once, Anna. He saved her from Senephra, and from Cantwell. And I plan on telling Elizabeth that Arkady is the one responsible for Senephra's remains being shipped to the San Francisco Legacy House.
His wife hesitated, then said, Dear one, you do know that Lissa will hold Arkady responsible for what Senephra did while she was a guest of our son. Is that what you wish? Winston smiled grimly and Anna continued, I see. Katherine has already told Lissa much of what happened.
She has told Lissa what she knows. And that will be enough. I want Arkady to pay, but I don't want him to die. Yet. No, if Lissa discovers that Senephra tortured Derek, then she will most likely kill Arkady. I don't want that for our granddaughter, Winston answered. There was an approving silence from Anna. The late precept hesitated, then added, Besides. Killing Arkady will take away from Lissa's time to escape. And I know exactly where I'll take her!
Three hours after Derek, Nick, and Philip left, the phone rang in the San Francisco Legacy House. Rachel jumped at the sound...for the last three hours, there had been dead silence in the House. Alex had rebuffed her attempts at conversation, and Rachel was concerned for the younger woman.
"Luna Foundation, this is Alexandra Moreau. No, he's in a meeting in the city at the moment," Alex replied. Rachel watched anxiously, as Alex gripped the edge of the desk for support. After a moment, the young woman replied tightly, "I will make certain that he knows. Don't hurt her!" She replaced the phone in the cradle, sinking into a chair.
"Arkady," Rachel guessed and Alex nodded. Rachel closed her eyes, murmuring, "He has Lissa, then. We should call Derek and the others...let them know that Arkady has called. Did he make any kind of ransom demands? Did he ask for the Mayan ritual cup?" Alex shook her head.
"No, nothing like that. He just wanted to gloat. Derek was right. As usual," she replied, burying her face in her hands. Alex was silent for several moments, then she looked up at Rachel and added, "But you know, that doesn't make me feel any better about being here while she needs me."
Rachel didn't know what to say, so she said nothing. Alex sighed, "Well, I've written down Arkady's message. I'm heading to the hospital, but I should be back by the time Derek and the others radio in. If not, this is the entire message here. If I know Derek, he'll want it word for word. I'll be back in an hour or two."
"But, Alex..." Rachel began as the younger woman rose slowly to her feet and headed for the door. Alex stopped in her tracks and turned very slowly to face Rachel, whose voice trailed off at the coldness in her friend's eyes. There was silence for several moments...un-nerving silence.
At last, Alex said in that same low, cold voice from earlier, "Rachel. I have performed the secretarial duty which Derek proscribed for me before he left. Now, I am going to the hospital to talk with George. I need to get out of this mausoleum before I lose what's left of my sanity. Now. Are you going to try to stop me?" Rachel saw the determination and anger in Alex's brown eyes, and shook her head. The younger woman turned and left.
Rachel had seen Alex angry in the past. That wasn't the issue. It was just that this was the first time that anger had been directed at her, and it un-nerved Rachel. Philip was right, the psychiatrist thought, the House is far too big for Alex to be here alone. I'll get Kat...she can usually cheer up Derek, so cheering up Alex should be easy.
On the way to the hospital, Javier explained to Maeve about the phone call which had angered him. His superiors had been furious with him for the Blume incident. The police lieutenant added a few other Spanish phrases into the conversation, and Maeve wisely didn't ask him what those words meant. She didn't think she wanted to know.
She did, however, ask, "Javier, why do you swear in French?" The lieutenant looked at her with a frown and Maeve explained, blushing, "I've learned some French swear words, and I know that 'merde' is French for...well, you know." Comprehension dawned in Javier's dark eyes and he smiled.
"I spent a semester at Loyola University, Maeve. It was the semester before your sister arrived, and that's how I met Alex. Dios mio, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen! She's still beautiful...more beautiful than she was then. Anyhow, she taught me," Javier replied.
Maeve grinned and answered, "Alex is really pretty, isn't she? I think other than Nick and Philip and Lissa and Derek and Rachel, she's my favorite in the Luna Foundation." She laughed, realizing what she had said, and added, "I love them all. Even Derek, though he can be an awful grouch at times. Especially when something doesn't go his way."
"Sounds like a number of people I know, including myself! Tell me more about Philip. You and Lissa mentioned earlier that he's her best friend...but he's special to you, too, isn't he?" Javier asked. Maeve nodded, her heart clenching at the thought of her sister.
"Yeah, he is. Well, let's see. Philip is twenty-eight, twenty-five months older than Lissa. He was born in February and she was born in March. We thought she was born in May, but her mom lied about that. Anyhow. He's about six feet tall, maybe a little shorter, has dark brown hair and blue eyes, and a really pretty Irish accent," she replied.
Javier laughed and said, "I asked you to tell me about him, not what he looked like, Maeve! I know there's more to him than good looks if he's Lissa's best friend." Maeve looked at him, then nodded slowly. He was right. She had described Philip's looks, not his heart.
"Sorry. Well, he's really smart. He specializes in ancient languages, in addition to being a priest. He's funny...he tells some really neat stories about when he and Lissa were kids together. And he's really sweet. You can tell him anything and he won't get mad," Maeve replied after a moment. She smiled, remembering one incident, and said, "Like, there was the time when..."
As soon as Alex left the house and headed for the mainland, some of the anger began slipping away. Perhaps it was being away from that huge House, perhaps it was the feel of the wind in her hair...but Alex began relaxing. She even began regretting her harshness with Derek. A little.
I'll apologize to Rachel when I get back to the House, Alex thought, she was only trying to help. As she drove, more of the tension slipped from her neck and shoulders... Alex was almost sorry when she reached the hospital. Maybe that's all I needed, she thought, just to get out and drive for a while. I haven't done that in a long time.
"Hello, Miss Moreau...I'm glad to see you. George has been a little on edge, without any visitors today," the nurse on duty said as Alex passed by the nurse's station. The young woman nodded with a smile and walked into George's room. She was rewarded with a broad smile.
"It's very pleased I am to see you, Lady Alexandra. Mistress Doctor...Dr. Rachel, I think she said her name was. She was here earlier, but I much prefer your company," George said. His puzzled frown indicated his opinion of Rachel, and Alex smiled in spite of herself. George patted the chair beside his bed and continued, "Please seat yourself, Lady Alexandra. Something troubles you deeply, and I wish to help you, if I can."
Lissa's head hurt...and 'hurt' was an understatement, but she was in too much pain to figure out a better term. She forced her eyes open and moaned when the bright lights struck her sensitive corneas. She promptly closed her eyes once more, trying not to whimper in pain.
"Turn down the lights...we don't want to blind the child," a man's voice said. He had a distinctly American accent...not the voice which had spoken to her on the plane. Not my grandfather's voice, she thought fuzzily.
The burning against her eyes subsided, and Lissa once more opened her eyes. She took stock of her surroundings, as well as her companions. She was lying on her back...four gray walls surrounded her. There were two men in the room: a large man with salt and pepper hair, a full mustache and beard. The other man had thinning dark hair, but it was his eyes which frightened Lissa. Not even her step-father had such cold eyes. Snake's eyes, Maeve would have said.
"I am Victor Arkady, Detective Rayne...welcome to my humble abode. I apologize for my late associate's abuse. Mr. Blume was something of a misogynist. However, he won't be harming any more women. I've notified your father of your presence here, so I'm certain he'll be arriving with the next few days. Until then, make yourself at home," the man said. He rose to his feet and walked out of the room.
The remaining man said, "I am Rafe, little one. I am your protector. I will allow no one to harm you. Ask, and I shall provide it. For now, you must rest." He inclined his head and followed the first man...Arkady...from the room. Lissa lay back, closing her eyes. What the hell had happened? The last thing she remember was gunfire, and...
Sandy! Lissa bolted upright, and moaned aloud at the crack of pain that exploded into her head. She collapsed back onto her cot and a disembodied voice said, "That was not very smart, Elizabeth Marie Anne. That fool Arkady should have thought to check you for a concussion. Even Rachel Corrigan knows enough to do that, and she's..."
The voice stopped, sighed, then said, "All right, Anna, you've made your point! Are you sure she's suffered no ill effects?" Lissa blinked as a figure began materializing in the middle of the room with her. The figure belonged to a man, about thirty-five or forty, maybe older. He had short, black hair and piercing blue eyes. Lissa frowned, wondering if the blows to her head had caused brain damage. The apparition glared at her and replied, "Don't be so tiresome, Elizabeth, I'm as real as you are!"
That convinced Lissa...no figment of her imagination would say that! She said softly, "Grandfather?" The man nodded, looking slightly appeased, and Lissa began trembling. She looked down at herself, disturbed, then continued, "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm shaking like this!"
"You've been through a rather difficult ordeal. I know you blame yourself for your partner's shooting, but there's absolutely nothing you could have done about it. You reacted as quickly and as well as anyone could under those circumstances. Give yourself a few minutes to calm down," Winston Rayne replied gently.
After a moment, her trembling did ease and Lissa looked at her grandfather with a thoughtful frown. She said quietly, "I don't understand. You died before I was born, Grandfather, before I was even conceived! Why are you here now?" Unexpectedly, her father's father smiled.
"To protect you, of course...I'm in neither heaven, nor hell. I suppose you could say I'm in Purgatory. Your grandmother has gone on to Heaven, beyond the veil as she calls it. I've remained behind, to atone for my many sins. This is part of my atonement...protecting my granddaughter, to atone for my treatment of your father," he replied.
"Makes sense to me," Lissa muttered. She cocked her head to one side, wincing at the pain, and said, "You were speaking to someone named 'Anna' earlier. Is Anna my grandmother?" Winston nodded and Lissa continued, "But I was told that my grandmother's name was Barbara."
"It's her second name...your grandmother's full name is Anna Barbara van Heusen Rayne. Her older brother Derek and I always called her 'Anna,' but when she moved to the United States with me, after the war, she began going by Barbara, since it means 'foreigner.' And your grandmother was a stranger in a strange land. That's how all who met her in this country knew her," Winston explained. He paused, then continued wistfully, "You look just like her."
"So I've been told. Grandfather, what's going on? Why does Arkady want me? I know he's trying to get at Derek through me...something which concerned my father, I know. But..." Lissa began. She faltered and sighed, "I'm sorry, I sound like your typical whining hostage."
"No, you don't. You sound like a frightened, confused young woman who is worried sick about her father and her partner. Sandy is fine, by the way...and Derek should be arriving in Mexico City within the next hour. He will be here soon, child," Winston replied firmly.
"You're...you're different than I expected," Lissa said bluntly. Winston roared with laughter, hurting her head all over again, and the detective winced. She wrapped her arms around her knees, shivering once more, and her grandfather's eyes darkened with what looked like concern.
"I'm sorry, child. I suppose I am quite different from the fool who took his fifteen year old son into that mine so many years ago. Taking Derek was stupid, and so was opening that damn sepulchre. I was drunk, and I was a fool. I'm trying to make up for that now. Will you let me?" Winston asked, his voice gentling. Lissa nodded very slightly, mindful of the ache in her skull, and Winston continued, "Very good. There is much you need to know, little one..."
"She did what?" Derek exclaimed. Philip and Nick looked at each other, frowning. Uh-oh, Nick thought, why do I get the feeling that Alex went off without telling Rachel? He and Philip were standing in the lobby of the airport, while Derek talked with Rachel.
There was a long silence, then Derek sighed, "No, of course not. It's just..." Another silence, during which time, Philip and Nick exchanged another look. Derek replied, "All right, thank you, Rachel. I'll let you know when we find out something." He hung up, sighing, and told the two younger men, "Arkady called...he does have Lissa. Alex took the message, then went to the hospital."
Nick's heart sank with the announcement that Arkady had already taken Lissa. Philip said quietly, "She went to see George...there was nothing more she could do around the House, so she went to see someone who needed her help. Where do we head next, Derek?" Nick glared at him, sickened. How could Philip be so damn calm, when Lissa was in danger? She was supposed to be his best friend, for God's sake!
"Head to the police station, I think. Philip? Philip, what is it?" Derek asked, his voice sharpening. Nick looked back at the priest, who was listening intently to the conversation between two security guards to his right. The priest very quietly asked a question of his own in Spanish, and his eyes narrowed at the answer.
"Make that the hospital. According to these two gentlemen, someone opened fire on the police station about two hours ago. If we want answers, we should head to the hospital," Philip replied grimly. Nick's heart sank even further, though he hadn't thought it possible.
Derek paled and he whispered, "Dear God...Lissa called from the police station." Nick nodded, glancing back at Philip, who was thanking the two security guards. At least, Nick assumed that was what he was doing. Derek started to walk away, but Philip was still talking with the security guards. He's found out something else, Nick thought.
At last, Philip nodded, murmuring, "Gracias." He joined Derek and the three men began walking toward the rental car which would be their transportation. Philip said, "They told me to check a local airstrip. There was a problem earlier."
"What kind of problem?" Nick asked, his earlier annoyance with Philip forgotten. The other young man shrugged with a sigh, and Nick continued, "Well, then let's get to the hospital. Philip, did he tell you which one?" His friend nodded and Nick began relaxing. At least someone knew what the hell was going on!
Over the next hour, Winston told Lissa about Victor Arkady, about his family's obsession with the dark side. Occasionally, Anna would pipe up with a comment of her own, which Winston sometimes relayed to Lissa. More often, however, he did not. Some things were best left unsaid.
And finally, he told her about Arkady's part in Princess Senephra's appearance at the San Francisco Legacy House. As he expected, his granddaughter's eyes darkened with anger. However, Lissa said only, "Soooo...my genial host sent the princess's remains to my father's House, knowing at least a part of her story." Winston nodded.
"Yes, child...Arkady was certain that she would attack Derek. However, he made a slight miscalculation. Arkady didn't realize that a high priest had murdered her...so Philip's life was endangered, not my son's," he replied. Lissa nodded, her jaw tightening.
"Yes, Kat told me. So, in a manner of speaking, Arkady nearly cost Philip his life. Very interesting," Lissa replied, her jaw tightening. Her eyes had narrowed, and Winston watched his granddaughter in fascination.
However, he said only, "Yes, child. If I could have warned him, or your father, I would have. But there were other things which required my attention at the time, and I was told that I could not interfere. Would it help if I told you that I gave Senephra a stern lecture when she passed through?" Lissa nodded with a faint smile. However, there was no warmth in that smile. Winston had seen her smile before...seen the brilliant, radiant smile which dimmed the lights in the Legacy House. This smile was as cold as the Arctic, and it didn't reach her eyes. Winston shuddered, feeling almost sorry for Arkady...almost.
He was also very glad that he hadn't told Lissa about what Senephra's other deeds. If she knew that Senephra tortured Derek, Winston thought, she would kill Arkady. Slowly...painfully...and I would enjoy every second!
Behave, Winston, Anna advised, though her voice held some amusement, you said yourself that killing Arkady will do no good. Although I must admit, the idea of our Lissa returning the favor has its appeal. But she knows enough. Whatever she plans to do to Arkady, it will be painful enough. Winston agreed, grumbling.
Maeve sat in the waiting room, alone. Javier...funny, it was so easy to call him that now...was checking on a lead involving a car accident near a private airstrip. Sandy was in surgery, and for the first time since her sister's abduction, Maeve was alone. The teen smiled ruefully. She had forgotten what it meant to be alone during the last few months. Lissa was awake and healthy, and Maeve had a lovely new family...Derek, Alex, Nick, Rachel, Kat, and Philip.
She smiled to herself. Maeve hadn't realized how much she would miss Philip when she was in Mexico...missed his smile, his wry sense of humor, and that lovely Irish lilt. I must really miss him, Maeve thought ruefully, I keep thinking that I hear his voice or Derek's! The teenager jolted out of her drowsy state as the older man's name crossed her mind...damn, I still have to call Derek! With all her concern over Sandy, she had forgotten that.
"Maeve! There she is!" a voice exclaimed. Maeve frowned to herself. I'm going nuts, she thought, I could have sworn I heard Philip call my name! The girl opened her eyes with a sigh...and gasped to see Philip striding toward her, Derek and Nick at his heels. She blinked...I'm definitely going nuts! But then she saw his worried expression, and knew that he was real.
"Philip!" she cried out and ran to him. The second his arms closed around her, the second her head rested against his chest, Maeve's control shattered and she broke down crying. She wrapped her arms around his waist tightly, sobbing, "Lissa's gone, Philip, somebody took my sister!"
"I know...I know. We'll get her back, Maeve, truly we will," Philip replied. He said nothing more, just stroked her hair and rocked her back and forth. Maeve clung to him, feeling truly safe for the first time in hours. Philip had never let her down...they would find Lissa.
Alex was at the hospital for two hours, talking to George about Lissa's abduction, and how worried she was for her friend. She told him about Julia's death...how she remained behind at Derek's insistence, to do research on the other four sepulchres. At last, Alex was talked out and there was silence for several moments. George was silent, chewing his lower lip thoughtfully. Alex said wearily, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to unload all of this on you."
George replied, "There is no need to apologize, Lady Alexandra. You and the others have become very dear to me, and the idea of Lady Elizabeth in danger vexes me." Alex smiled and George continued, "I am glad that you told me about what troubles you, Lady Alexandra. I have never completely forgiven myself for my initial reaction."
Alex laughed and replied, "It's all right, George. I understand your...apprehension when you first saw me, and I accept your very gracious apology. I should be getting back to the House...you look tired. Thanks for listening."
"I am growing a-weary," the man replied, "but there is no need to thank me, Lady Alexandra. You have all shown great patience and compassion for me...I will do what I can to help all of you. When Lady Elizabeth returns...and I know she will...tell her that I prayed for her."
Alex replied, deeply touched, "I will do. Get some rest, George." She touched his hand and rose to her feet. When she reached the door, Alex turned and said, "Thank you for your prayers. Philip would say that a few extra prayers can only help." Then she slipped from the room.
Javier Escobar had been in shock ever since learning of the accident involving his wife's car. He had been told that Cecilia was dead, but he couldn't accept it. Not his Cecilia! This can't be happening, he thought, it couldn't have been Cecilia's car which that bastard Blume hit! Or, maybe Cecilia let Haydee borrow it again...she has a such a soft heart for youngsters. That's it...I'm sure it was Haydee who was killed, poor child.
He quickened his steps, determined to get this nightmare over. The coroner, Dr. Soledad Alvarez, looked up as he entered. He saw the pained expression in her eyes...she had been friends with Cecilia for years, since they were small girls. She told him in a husky voice, "Javier, I'm so sorry...she died instantly." Javier ignored her and went to the table. Soledad joined him and very gently pulled the sheet away from the corpse's face. His wife's lovely face was peaceful and still, and still warm. Javier felt as though he'd been stabbed in the heart with a rapier...Oh, Cecilia. My sweet, sweet Cecilia, he thought.
In a voice which Javier didn't recognize as his own, he asked, "What was the cause of death?" He tenderly caressed Cecilia's long black hair away from her face, kissing her still-warm forehead. The doctor didn't reply and Javier growled, "Damn you, how did my wife die?"
"Massive cranial damage...she died of head injuries. It was instantaneous. I am so sorry, Javier," Soledad repeated. Javier ignored her, kissing Cecilia's cheek, the tip of her nose, her chin. The doctor said, clearly uncomfortable, "I'll give you a few minutes alone with her." She slipped silently from the room, allowing Javier to break down. He sobbed into his wife's hair.
When some of the spasms had eased, Javier looked at Cecilia and whispered, "He wasn't working alone, my love. Blume was working for someone, and I mean to find out the identity of that someone. I don't care what it takes, Cecilia...I will avenge your death." The police lieutenant broke down once more, sobs shaking his six foot, two inch frame. His tears soaked her hair, and Javier wondered how in God's name he was going to tell his children.
"I can tell you who paid Blume to abduct Lissa," a quiet voice said from the doorway. Javier rounded on the interloped, ready to ream him for interrupting this most private of good-byes. But he said nothing, seeing that his visitor was Dr. Derek Rayne. Right now, Lissa's father bore no resemblance to the cool, unflappable head of the Luna Foundation. He was just a father whose daughter was missing, abducted right in front of Javier's eyes...a young woman whom Javier was supposed to protect.
"Dr. Rayne. I'm sorry I was unable to protect Lissa properly," Javier said, making no attempt to wipe the tear stains from his cheeks. His eyes strayed to the door, as two men...make that two young men...entered the morgue with Maeve Reynolds. Javier, who was thirty-seven, would have been very surprised if either had seen thirty. Maeve's arms were wrapped around the waist of the taller young man.
"I am sorry for your loss...I couldn't warn Lissa in time. If I had known where the danger came from..." Derek Rayne replied, his voice trailing off. Javier looked at the older man, then realized that Rayne had known his child was in trouble. He had known all along! Rage exploded within Escobar. He grabbed Rayne by the lapels and threw him into the wall, his hands around the man's throat.
"Bastardo! You knew that your daughter was in danger, you knew that she needed help, and you did nothing? What kind of man are you? I might have been able to save my wife, damn you!" Javier screamed. He couldn't kill Blume, but by God and the Virgin, he could kill this man! He vaguely heard Maeve screaming, but the roaring in his ears prevented him from hearing what she was screaming.
Someone tried to grab his arms, tried to pull his hands away from Rayne's throat, but Javier released the other man just long enough to knock whoever it was backward. This time, Maeve's scream came through loud and clear, "PHILIP!!!" The rage died and Javier released Rayne, who was gasping and coughing. Philip, he thought, Lissa's best friend. The priest. Dios mio, I struck a priest!
The young man was on the floor, coughing. Maeve was at his side, her arms wrapped his shoulders, while the young man rubbed his chest. Javier knelt beside him and said, "Forgive me, Father Philip...I temporarily lost control of myself. I don't usually go around striking priests." A weak smile lit the young priest's face as Javier helped him to his feet. The lieutenant turned back to Derek Rayne, continuing, "I should not have attacked you, Dr. Rayne."
The other young man was at Rayne's side, eyes blazing with barely suppressed rage, but Rayne answered hoarsely, "Apology accepted, Teniente Escobar. Dr. Alvarez said that your wife was killed when Blume's car went out of control." Another fit of coughing interrupted his words, and the second young man moved closer. I should watch this young one, who must be Nick, Javier thought, Alex told me about him!
A fresh spasm of grief ripped through Javier's soul, but he replied, "Yes. They both died instantly. Blume was headed in the direction of a private airstrip. Two of my men are following up that lead...they should be calling in soon." He paused, gently arranging the sheet over Cecilia, then added, "Dr. Rayne, you said that you know of Blume's employer. Can you tell me what you know?"
"His name is Victor Arkady. But this is not the place for this discussion. Shall we go to the waiting room? I think Maeve wants to hear about Sandy's condition," the anthropologist suggested. Javier flinched. He had forgotten all about Sandy, but it was quite obvious that Maeve had not.
"Excellent idea. A girl from our street is watching my children...but after I'm finished here, I must go to them. I must tell them myself that their mother is dead," he replied. Rayne nodded and murmured something to the young man beside him, then they filed from the room. Javier paused long enough to look over his shoulder at the sheet covering his wife's lifeless body, then followed the others.
Winston faded into the background when the big man, Rafe, returned with food. He had told Lissa not to squander the food that she had been given...that Rafe himself had tasted it. And she would need all of her strength. Winston smiled, remembering Lissa's reaction. She had said, "But Grandfather, wouldn't Arkady put something in my food to incapacitate me? I mean, if I'm sick, I can't escape." By now, her headache was receeding...drawing yet another un- necessary remark from Anna about the hard-headed members in the family. Just because it happened to be true...
"Understand, child...Arkady is very arrogant. This is a man who believed that he could control a demon...so do you really think that he'll have much respect for a little thing like you?" Winston had asked. Lissa's eyes narrowed and the ghost continued, "Now, what you are going to do is fool him into thinking that you're still weak from the blows to your head, and from the drugs which Rafe gave you."
"I am NOT that little...I'm five feet three, and I weigh one hundred ten. That's not a creampuff, thank you very much. However, point taken...I want to trick him into underestimating me. You're sneaky, Grandfather...you're very sneaky," Lissa said and Winston smiled.
"I'll take that as a compliment, Elizabeth...and you weigh one hundred seven," he replied. Lissa rolled her eyes in exasperation. Winston had seen his wife do that on several occasions, and he burst out laughing. Once he regained his composure, Winston said, "I do apologize, but your grandmother often did that as well."
Lissa had muttered a few choice epithets under her breath, but didn't argue further. Now, Winston watched in concern as Lissa picked at her food listlessly. Rafe asked anxiously, "Does your head still hurt, Detective Rayne? You must remain strong, if you are to survive. I fear that Mr. Arkady plans to kill you once your father gets here."
"I'm sorry, Rafe...I am still a little dizzy," Lissa answered. Her face was pale, and the bruise on her forehead seemed even darker. Lissa asked after a moment, "Rafe, could you tell me something? Why are you doing this?"
"Why am I in Mr. Arkady's employ? Because, little one, I killed a man. And when I got out of jail, Mr. Arkady was the only one who would hire me. I had nowhere to go...I had nothing left that mattered to me. At the time, I thought I could do worse," Rafe answered. He sighed, shook his head and muttered, "I was quite wrong about that...but I can't change the past, much as I'd like to."
"I thought it was something like that...what I was asking was why you're doing this. Why are you taking care of me like this?" Lissa asked. What are you doing, Elizabeth, Winston thought, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, child, that's asking for trouble!
"Because you're...I had a daughter, who was only four years younger than you are. Her name was Victoria. She and her sisters were murdered several years ago. The man I killed was their murderer. You remind me of Victoria...and I have no wish to see another father lose his daughter. I must go, but I will be back. Try to eat, if you can," Rafe said. He gently touched Lissa's hair, then left the room.
"What was that all about, granddaughter?" Winston hissed as he reappeared. Lissa dropped her wan act, and began gobbling down the food as if she hadn't eaten in a week. With a start, Winston realized that his granddaghter had to have been starving...she hadn't eaten much all day. However, he repeated, "What do you think you were doing?"
"Gathering information, what did it sound like? In my line of work, Grandfather, information is absolutely essential. The more I know, the better I can plan. And since you weren't listening closely, I will tell you that Rafe gave me something a minute ago," Lissa snapped. Winston drew back, startled by this change in his granddaughter.
"He told you that his daughters were murdered years ago, and that was the reason why he was taking care of you," he replied, somewhat subdued, but still impatient. He thought he preferred the quiet, frightened young girl she had been. She showed a lot more respect when she was scared. Lissa shook her head, finishing the last of her meal. Winston continued, growing more and more annoyed with his granddaughter, "He also told me that he went to jail for killing his daughters' killer. So? Lissa, we know that he's protective of you, what more do you want?" Lissa sighed and rose to her feet, walking to the window. The man continued, "What are you doing now, Elizabeth?"
"Scanning the perimeter. Checking out the defenses. I can't very well escape if I don't know what I'm doing, now can I? And you weren't listening to the most important part, Grandfather...he told me that he went to work for Mr. Arkady because he had nowhere else to go. Do I need to spell it out for you?" Lissa asked impatiently.
Winston stared at his granddaughter for several moments, certain that the blows to her head had knocked a few gears loose in her brain. But Anna said with a sigh, Winston, you are being dense! Rafe is confiding in Lissa! He doesn't view her as a threat. Arkady doesn't view her as a threat, so that will make it easier for Lissa to escape!
"I see now...although your grandmother had to explain it to me. Tell me more about this plan of yours to escape, granddaughter," Winston said as Lissa walked back to her cot, then noticed the dark circles under her eyes. He added gently, "Later. You can tell me later. Rest now. I'll wake you when it's time." Lissa nodded and lay back down on her cot. Within just a few minutes, she was asleep again.
As Derek had suggested, Rachel went to her house to pick up Kat. When she returned, Alex was getting out of her own car. Once Rachel put her car in 'park,' Kat jumped out and ran to Alex, who picked her up. Laughing, the young woman said, "Hi, Kat! Rachel...I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped at you before I left." The psychiatrist smiled and Alex continued as they walked into the House together, "Any word from Derek?" Rachel nodded and the researcher sighed, "Then I'm sure I'll hear about it when they get back. But I had to get out for a little while, Rachel."
"I know...and I shouldn't have tried to stop you. Philip tried to warn me...but he has the strangest way of doing that," Rachel sighed, shaking her head. Kat frowned at her, obviously displeased with any criticism of Philip.
"Mom, Philip isn't strange!" Kat said and Rachel grinned at Alex, who was trying not to smile...or worse, laugh. Kat looked up at Alex, saying, "Tell her that Philip isn't strange, Alex." By now, they were inside, and the researcher was almost shaking with laughter. The telephone rang, and both Alex and Rachel jumped at the sound.
"Miss Moreau, it's for you...it's Dr. Rayne," Duncan said. Alex rolled her eyes and headed into the study, still carrying Kat. Rachel followed them, mentally preparing herself for the battle royale about to start.
After explaining to Javier Escobar about Victor Arkady and his battles with the Rayne family, Derek excused himself to call the House again. He hoped by now that Alex would be back from the hospital, and calm. Though he would never admit it aloud, he knew he had made a mistake with her. She has never stopped grieving for Julia, he thought, and it was foolish of me to assume that she had.
Duncan answered the phone and informed him that Miss Moreau had just returned from her errands. Derek then learned that Dr. Corrigan had returned with little Katherine, and that Miss Moreau would speak to him in a moment. A second later, Alex said, her voice wary, "Hello, Derek. Is there anything new about Lissa?" Derek winced at the chilly tone, as well as the flatness in her voice.
"Yes, but it isn't good. One of Arkady's men opened fire on the police station. Sandy Horowitz is just coming out of surgery. The man who actually took Lissa is dead, so Teniente Escobar's men are looking into a private airstrip near here," Derek replied. He paused, then added, "I'm afraid I have more bad news. Teniente Escobar's wife, Cecilia, died in the same accident that killed Arkady's man."
He heard a sharp intake of breath, then Alex muttered, "Dear God, poor Javier...and poor Cecilia. She was only a year older than I am. Do you have this man's name? I could run it through the Legacy database, and see if anything comes up. It might be an alias, but if you fax a recent picture to me, that would be a big help."
Derek smiled...Good, she's behaving like herself again! He replied, "I think I can probably fax a recent picture for you. According to Teniente Escobar, this man was a liaison from the Chicago Police Department. At least, that was the story given to his superiors. Everything checks out, including a picture, but Escobar feels certain that the man was a fraud." There was another pause.
"Derek, if possible, fax me his fingerprints as well. It's highly likely that he had plastic surgery, but it's nearly impossible to alter fingerprints. I'll see what I can dig up. What about Maeve, how is she doing?" Alex asked.
"As well as can be expected. Escobar told me that she was a big help with the less seriously wounded. She more or less fell apart once she saw Philip, but she's fine now," Derek replied, smiling faintly at his godson.
"Give her my love, and tell her to hang in there. I have Kat on my lap, so I'll get off the phone and get to work. I'll call the Chicago Police Department and see what they know about Darien Blume," Alex said. She paused, then said, "I needed to get out of here, Derek. I couldn't think, and breathing was nearly impossible. I had to go." It was a statement of fact, not an apology.
"I know," Derek said softly, "I know. Be well, Alex. Let me know what you find out." There was an assent, and Derek hung up. He walked back to the small group and announced, "Alex will see what she can find about Darien Blume. She sends her condolences, Teniente. How's Sandy?"
"The doctor says she'll be fine. Tell Derek what your men found, Javier," Maeve said, looking up at the tall policeman. Derek turned his attention to the man, trying not to smile at Maeve's reference to the man as 'Javier.' The lieutenant smiled at her indulgently.
"Of course, chiquita. Dr. Rayne, I spoke with my men while you were on the phone. They tell me that Lissa was taken to a small plane, bound for Peru. A large man named 'Rafe' carried her onto the plane himself, and signed for a Jeep at the airstrip. I don't think it will surprise you to learn the identity of the plane's owner," he said.
"Victor Arkady," Derek said grimly and Escobar nodded. Derek continued, "Teniente Escobar, do you have a recent picture of Darien Blume, or fingerprints? Alex believes he had plastic surgery...she believes that his fingerprints will give us a clue to his actual identity."
Nick bobbed his head approvingly, and Derek relaxed. It would seem that his annoyance with me faded when Teniente Escobar attacked, the precept thought. While he would never admit it to anyone, not even his daughter, Derek didn't enjoy battling anyone. He didn't think it was something which she, Philip, Nick, Rachel, or Alex needed to know.
"I can easily get you a copy of the picture and his finger," Escobar replied. Derek smiled gratefully and sat down beside Philip. He had spoken little in the last half hour, and Derek was a little worried about his godson. He knew that Philip was worried about Lissa, but Derek was certain there was more to Philip's silence than that. Escobar turned his attention to Philip also, asking, "Father Philip, you have been quiet. Something troubles you?"
"Nothin' in particular...I just haven't had anythin' t' say," Philip replied with a shrug. Derek doubted that, but wasn't about to say so in front of the police officer. No, Derek knew that his godson would speak up when he was ready. Until then, there were other things which needed Derek's attention. Like getting that information to Alex.
"Detective Rayne is still very weak," Rafe reported when he joined his employer in the study, nearly half an hour after leaving Elizabeth Rayne's cell. Mr. Arkady nodded, sipping a glass of port, and Rafe continued anxiously, "She also has little appetite. Perhaps the sedation was too much." Mr. Arkady sat down his glass.
"She'll be fine...besides, the weaker she is, the less trouble she'll cause. You worry too much, Rafe. I know she reminds you of your daughters, but you worry about her entirely too much," the man replied. Rafe didn't reply. There was no need for him to reply.
After a moment, the big man said, "There's something else that concerns me...leaving Blume's body in Mexico. They can identify him, Mr. Arkady." His employer waved a hand negligently and Rafe controlled his frustration. He said quietly, "They can trace Blume back to this compound."
"Rafe, Rafe, Rafe! That's what I'm counting on! Rayne should be leaving San Francisco within the next few hours. But it will take time before the police department can even get their affairs in order," Arkady replied. Rafe fell silent. Arkady took another sip of port, then added, "Besides, I have plans for Detective Elizabeth Rayne."
He smiled coldly and another frisson of fear shot down Rafe's spine. For the first time, the big man began realizing what this man planned to do to Lissa Rayne. And the father of four murdered girls didn't like it. No, he did not like it at all. But before he could speak or do anything, there was a terrible crash from upstairs.
Winston flinched as his granddaughter threw her cot across the room. She looked at him and asked, "Is that enough of a motivation, Grandfather?" Winston nodded and Lissa continued, "I'm glad to hear that. I still think we're moving too quickly, but I'll trust you on this."
"The last thing Arkady expects is an escape attempt. He thinks you're weak and harmless...he'll soon learn otherwise," Winston answered. He fell silent, and added, "They're coming now. Be ready. I'll take care of Rafe... Arkady is all yours."
"Don't hurt Rafe, Grandfather," Lissa whispered as Arkady and Rafe burst through the door. Winston hurled Rafe into the wall and held him there, while Lissa pulled a knife from her boot. She said, her voice Arctic cold, "Greetings, Mr. Arkady...don't fool yourself into believing that I won't use this, because I will. Gladly." Satisfied that Rafe would cause no trouble, Winston released the big man.
"It would seem that I've underestimated you, Detective Rayne...but you don't really think that you'll escape from this compound, do you?" Arkady asked. Lissa merely smiled coldly and for the first time, Winston saw something glimmering around his granddaughter.
Anna, he thought, trying not to laugh, that's cheating! Arkady tried to smack the knife out of Lissa's hand...and got zapped. Lissa said quietly, "Back up, Mr. Arkady. I'm leaving. Now." With the knife at Arkady's throat, Lissa forced him from the room and into the hallway.
Winston saw her eyes narrow at the sight of the spiral staircase, then saw the cold smile which lit her face once more. She wouldn't, Winston thought, would she? Lissa continued as she backed him toward that stairs, "I know you know who I am, Mr. Arkady. I am Derek Rayne's daughter. But, did you know that Philip Callaghan is my best friend?"
They were now at the edge of the stairs. Lissa's eyes closed and once more, Arkady lunged for her. But something strange happened. The edges of the rug under Arkady folded, as if someone was picking up the edges...and was preparing to pull the rug. Lissa's eyes flew open and she said, her smile growing even colder, "I've been told to give you a message. Princess Senephra sends her best." And with those words, Victor Arkady tumbled down the stairs backward... hitting his head on the marble floor at the bottom.
Winston looked at his granddaughter in amazement and she said, "Poetic justice, don't you think? Senephra never laid a finger on Philip...and I never laid a finger on Mr. Arkady. Do you think Grandmother approves?"
Approves? That was beautiful! And Senephra is sitting beside me, laughing herself silly! Winston ignored his wife...although her statement didn't surprise him. The child was easily amused. Typical eight year old. He said none of this to his granddaughter, however. He did say, "I know she approves, child, as do I. Now, when will you tell your father that you have telekinetic abilities?" Lissa shrugged and the man continued with a sigh, "It matters little now. Come along, dear child...we have much work to do in a very short amount of time!"
Continued on next page...
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