DRAGONJULS' Storybook
~ All Our Tomorrows ~
J M Dragon
Part One
February 2001
e-mail: jmdragon1@hotmail.com


Disclaimers:
Love/Sex:   This story features strong consensual sexual relationships between adult females, certain significant m/f relations, and inferred m/m relations. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province or Country you live, or if you are under the age of 18, please find some other story to peruse. There are many general stories out there for you to read.
Language:   Use of some harsh and derogatory strong language depicting certain subject matter is utilised to employ and set the tone and behaviour of specific circumstances in the story, as well as some general characterisations.
Violence:  There are brief depictions of brutality, references to hostility and both mental and physical violence in this story.
Hurt/Comfort: There is definitely some hurt/emotional discomfort in this one, and some concise scenes of angst and heartache to be dealt with by the characters.
Special Disclaimer: I have made the abuse, kidnapping and psychological traumas as realistic as I possibly could based on my limited knowledge of the child abuse described.  It was not meant to kindle anyone's personal experience or hinder his or her continuing healing process. I do not personally condone child abuse of any type, regardless of the circumstances.  However, I think it’s important to the telling of this story and to help the reader truly come to an understanding of the characters and story line.
This is the fifth and final part  of the Define Destiny series.  Although reading  Define Destiny,   Haunting Shadows, In Pursuit of Dreams and Actions and Consequenceses  is not absolutely necessary, it would assist in understanding the circumstances surrounding this story.
Dedication:  To all readers who have continued the journey with the characters depicted in this series. I have personally found it a very interesting expedition. Thank you to everyone, who did take the time to e-mail me. I was and will be always very grateful. This story is for you!
Acknowledgement:   Thanks to Kim and Alice, I appreciate the generosity of their time in beta reading for me

Chapter One

Catherine Warriorson sat at her desk and rested her weary head on a hand she had propped up on the polished surface. Her eyes were haunted and looked bloodshot from crying and exhaustion, although, actually mentioning that the stoic woman had been crying would have warranted a severe blast of ice from those chips of blue called eyes.

Turning over the locket that held her family in her fingers in what must only be feverish hope of a miracle to the present circumstances, Catherine gave a heavy sigh and contemplated what to do next?

‘There was no fresh news from the police or any significant leads either. The police Captain who had been here the day before was sympathetic, but clearly not able to shed any light on the situation. Then there had been the woman with him! She had come over as confident and informed and seemed to want to get on with the investigation on a rather more basic level than talking about it. Jace had been with her and held her trembling hand through the ordeal of the insistent questions, but no more, once again she was on her own… yes, her own!

Catherine’s sombre thoughts went to a dark place in the recesses of her mind, a place she hadn’t returned to for close on thirty years……

 “Catherine you and your brother will be going to live with Aunt Constantia, after the funeral.” Stewart Devonshire spoke in his clipped cultured voice, the words devoid of emotion.
Catherine looked at her father with red-rimmed eyes and held tightly to her younger brother’s hand. Her father was dressed all in black except for the pristine white shirt that looked out of place with the black suit and tie. “I won’t Papa! Why can’t Lukas and I stay with you?”
Her impassioned plea went unnoticed by her father who was starring out of the window of the study in their London home.
“You can not Catherine and that’s the end of it!” Stewart stated decisively and didn’t see the cascade of tears that poured down her cheeks at his cold harsh dismissal.
“I will not live with Aunt Constantia. We don’t know her Papa. She hates us!” Catherine replied melodramatically. Why was her Father abandoning them to their Aunt they had seldom seen her, not even during their mother’s short illness.
Stewart turned on his heels at the comment and he walked over to the gangly child, looked at her squarely his grey eyes held her ice blue ones and he shook his peppered grey hair at her statement. Both parent and child vied for supremacy and Stewart Devonshire was the first to look away.
“Your Aunt will be your legal guardian in my absence Catherine. You will do as she says and you will in the future talk about and to her with the utmost respect! Do I make myself clear?” His voice rose slightly as he looked once again towards the window.
Catherine knew her father had closed the conversation and she didn’t want him to be upset anymore. He would change his mind and come back for them she was sure of it! He wouldn’t leave them without love. He couldn’t do that; he needed them as they needed him. They were family!
“I understand Papa.” Catherine replied solemnly and she felt a tug on her hand as she looked at her younger brother.
“What’s the matter Lukas?” Her voice took on a soft gentle nuance as she gazed into the liquid brown eyes of her brother; he had the look of their mother so she would always be with them, Papa just had to see that too!
“Cat it will be alright. Don’t cry.” The five-year-old said and smiled at her to reassure her the only way he could.
Catherine returned her brother’s smile weakly and pulled him into a hug and released him as her Father spoke again.
“It is time to go and say goodbye to Mama, come the car is here.” Stewart said in a monotone and walked towards the door to leave the house. Then he turned suddenly and held out his hands to take one of each of his children as they walked silently towards the car, the last time they would ever be together as a family….
Catherine felt the moisture behind her eyes as she recalled the events as if they were yesterday. She knew that no matter what that wasn’t going to happen here! No, by god! Her daughter was coming home no matter the cost. She would find her daughter and bring her home and they would be a whole family again! That was her drive. That was her goal. And that was what was going to happen.

A knock on the door pulled her out of her dark thoughts.

* * * * * * * * * *

Serena Dusterly looked over at the doorbell and reconsidered her options for possibly the hundredth time! It wasn’t that she didn’t want to help find the child. She did! She wanted that so much it was tearing at her soul. She had fucked up once and it cost her the job she loved and the credibility of her colleagues. How on earth was she going to convince the control freak Catherine Warriorson, that she was capable of finding the person behind the abduction?

Pacing outside the door, it opened and she stopped and looked into the face of a woman who starred at her in intense query. The police officer who had been stationed at the apartment door when the family had been together had been relieved now the threat to the other child was no longer a possibility.

“May I help you?” Stephanie Merchant asked politely, but couldn’t help the nervous note in her voice.

Serena gathered her momentary wavering confidence and smiled briefly. “Yes. Yes, I need to speak with Ms. Warriorson if that’s possible?”

Stephanie continued to stare at the woman, who she was sure now that she had looked closely at her, had been in the apartment with the Police Captain earlier.

“Is she expecting you?”

“No! No she isn’t, but it’s important. Would you ask her please my name is Dusterly. I was here earlier with Captain Travis.” Serena heard the weak tone of her voice and knew she had no chance convincing the woman inside, if she couldn’t get her act together. She pulled out her wallet with her ID swiftly confirming her name.

Stephanie gave her a thorough glance and turned back, her boss wasn’t going to be happy about the interruption. She had looked irritable and pale when she had stepped out of her study in search of tea. God only knows if the woman had slept any. It was highly unlikely if the dark circles under her eyes were anything to go by.

“I will check for you, please come inside the foyer.” Stephanie opened the door a little and allowed the woman to enter.

Stephanie closed and locked the door behind them. She then headed down the corridor and knocked on the study Serena remembered from her previous visit.

Serena watched the housekeeper enter the room and close the door.

Catherine turned with haunted eyes to ask Stephanie the problem with her expressive glance rather than words.

Stephanie related the woman’s request and waited, watching several expressions cross the tall woman’s face.

Stroking her hand absently over her scarred left cheek Catherine pondered the request.

“Did she say if there was any news?” Catherine inquired slowly and felt her gut tighten as she asked the question, but her eyes and facial expression remained calm and unemotional.

“No, no she didn’t, only that she would like to see you and it was important,” Stephanie answered bleakly, knowing how much that would hurt the woman before her.

Nodding her head she glanced down at her desk and into the smiling faces of her family, fingering her locket as she did so. It was going to be another long day without them. Her feeling of loneliness had threatened to overpower her on more than one occasion in the last few hours. Yet, the profound sense that Jace was here with her no matter the thousands of miles that separated them was so acute, it was her great comfort and strength.

“Send her in Stephanie, let’s hear what she has to say,” came the reply, as she sat down at her desk with a heavy sigh.

Stephanie turned and left her employer and called Ms. Dusterly over in a quiet yet audible voice.

Serena gulped in a deep breath and had you been watching the scenario carefully, you could almost see the shoulders going back in a determined effort to give a totally confident and in control stance.

Stephanie asked if they wanted any tea or coffee. Catherine declined and Serena quickly said no, when she really would have welcomed a coffee to settle her nerves.

Catherine quirked her left eyebrow and it tugged at the scarred tissue on her face. “Please sit Ms. Dusterly. You have something of importance to impart I’m told?” Her entire expression was one of a predator, waiting to capture the victim if they lost their way in the world.

Serena had seen many people in this situation, but never had she seen a distraught parent so in control and remote. Did the child actually mean anything to this woman? She knew that the child Lisa Simeon wasn’t either of the women who had said they were her mothers, well her birth parent’s anyway.  That had been the initial investigation into the child’s background from notes Travis had allowed her access to for a short time.

Clearing her voice she gave the woman a small smile as she responded to the question. “Well, actually it is more asking if you would take me on as your own personal advisor in this case?” She sucked in a silent breath and proceeded with her explanation. “I have the background. I know what the person is doing. I even know who it is, but I can’t prove it!” Serena finished abruptly and was shaken at the ice blue gaze that was levelled her way; even if only one eye was functioning, it was enough to scare the hell out of you at close range.

Catherine was stunned. What on earth was going on here? This woman was saying she knew who had kidnapped Lisa and was doing nothing about it!

“Pardon my ignorance in these matters, but why tell me this? Why not the police?” Catherine questioned firmly, but the thread of steel that went through her voice gave anyone listening, the right message.

“I once told the police who I was suspicious of and…” she trailed off unable to continue.

“And?” Catherine was in no mood for hesitancy. This was her daughter they were talking about.

Serena looked up at the cold stoic expression and pushed forth all her courage and answered clearly.

“I had to quit over my accusations. They didn’t believe me!” Her voice held it’s own steel this time and the bitterness couldn’t be hidden either.

Catherine scrapped back her chair and went over to the window and looked out on the park below and the pond and the ducks that swam by followed by a beautiful swan with a brood of signets. Her daughter should be out there watching this scene not held against her will someplace frightened and alone.

“What makes you think that I will believe you anymore than people you worked for years with, did?” Catherine asked, her back turned away still watching the restful scene that was anything but that to her mind. It brought back so many memories of her happy go lucky little Princess.

“Lisa get back in the car now!” Jace shouted at the small girl, who had decided that teasing geese looked like a good thing to do.
“Oh Jace, it’s fun and look at all the baby ones. I want to stroke one can I? Can I?” Lisa requested and blinked her long eyelashes at the small blonde who was looking over her shoulder at the gathering gaggle that had suddenly appeared that Lisa hadn’t seen yet.
“No, Lisa you can’t do that. The parents wouldn’t like it. Now please get in the car.” Jace was watching the interested looking geese gather momentum as they waddled cautiously towards the child.
“Catherine, I can can’t I?” Lisa turned her small eager face towards the tall woman who was busily strapping Elena into the chair in the back of the vehicle.
Catherine had vaguely heard them talking, but hadn’t been taking notice. Absently she replied. “Sure, whatever! Make it quick, We have to get back to the ranch.”
Catherine really wished she had been paying attention when the next moment Jace was tapping her on the back and she shot up so fast her head hit the edge of the car. She rubbed it gingerly and looked at her partner in surprise.
“How could you Catherine?” Jace accused her and her green eyes held a reproach that made Catherine forget the pain she felt at cracking her head and gazed apologetically at her partner.
“What? What have I done now?” Catherine asked and looked from her to their elder daughter who was now happily grinning as she had got her way and was touching or trying to touch one of the young fledglings.
“What have you done? You are so soft with our children. You would give them anything. Well you can get Lisa out of the predicament she’s going to be in any second now. Look at those geese!” Jace pointed in the direction of the flurry of activity as three large geese began stalking the small girl who was oblivious to them.
Catherine looked in the direction of the small hand that indicated the problem and she breathed in deeply.
“Oh, hell!” Catherine expounded, almost under her breath.
“Yes, precisely.” Jace retorted and looked at the scene.
Then all hell did break out as Catherine rushed to aid Lisa, pulling her away from her happy task, which was going to end in tears. Following close by her side was Rio, who had left his position on the back seat to chase after his larger mistress, suspecting she might need his help.
Jace looked over her shoulder and checked that Elena was secure. Then she turned on the engine and manoeuvred the car towards the scene of a child being whisked up into the tall woman’s arms, who was now running away as fast as she could from spitting and chasing geese, which looked none to happy with her. The dog, although he was barking madly at the antics of the geese, was running away from the pecking beaks as well. ‘Where was the camera when you needed it?’
“Jace? Jace stop the car!” Catherine shouted. It was one thing to chastise her over the stupid comment she made, but quite another to leave her, Lisa and now Rio to fend for themselves. Geese could be quite vicious creatures.
Jace heard the plea and slowed down and came to a dead stop as Catherine opened the front passenger door and threw Lisa in unceremoniously. Lisa giggled as she bounced in the seat of the vehicle.
Catherine was inches from having a beak peck at her as a heavy groan left her lips. Then she saw Rio who was still chasing around the car at the impudent geese.
“Rio, here boy!” She commanded and Rio came bounding around to her as she opened the door as one frustrated and angry goose finally homed in on his target and nipped at her ankle.
Rio looked up at her once and jumped into the back of the Land Rover.  Catherine swore under her breath as she felt the stab of the beak on the back of her leg.  “Jace move this tin can out of here!” Catherine bellowed and just as she did so, she felt another nip and her hand released the door handle and she turned to shoo away the offender. At that moment, Jace set off with the car gathering speed, leaving Catherine stuck in the middle of the area with angry geese, with Lisa and Rio peering at her from inside the vehicle.
“OH bloody great!” Catherine sucked in a breath and ran like the devil was chasing her towards the slowly retreating car.
“Jace? Jace! You forgot something.” Lisa screeched and couldn’t stop laughing as she saw the efforts that Catherine was making to catch up to them.
“Missing? What’s missing and think yourself lucky that you didn’t get pecked. Isn’t that right Catherine?” Jace asked, her concentration on driving up the steep slope out of the valley they had picnicked in.
Jace looked into the rear view mirror and her eyes shot open just like a bug’s. Startled at the rather exasperated and certainly heavily breathing tall figure of her partner, who was running as hard as she could after them with at least three geese running to catch up with her. The infuriated geese didn’t look happy either.
“Catherine?” Jace whispered and stopped the car and held it in gear on the gradient, willing Catherine to get to them before the geese got to her.
“Yes, Catherine, Jace.” Lisa answered smugly and watched with a smirk as Catherine finally caught up to them, wrenched open the door, and shot inside sprawling over Rio and Elena who pulled her hair immediately. The door closed behind her and in short gasps Catherine told Jace to move out again.
“Are you okay?” Serena Dusterly asked as she watched the expressions cross over the taller woman’s face, memories obviously.

Catherine pulled herself out of her revere and looked with haunted eyes at the woman who was offering her a thread of hope if only a slim hope. She’d take it!

“I was recalling something that happened a few months ago, a good memory in a way, still have the scars to prove it.” Catherine glanced down towards her legs, although you couldn’t see what she meant as she was clothed in denims. Her legs had been pecked several times and she had to go and have a tetanus inoculation and all in all she had come off worse that day. But it had taught her a lesson in taking notice and not agreeing with everything Lisa said in the future. Although Jace's ministrations later that evening had been worth any discomfort she had experienced with that little adventure.

“You had better tell me more about yourself Ms. Dusterly. I had assumed wrongly it would seem that you were a member of Captain Travis’s team.” Catherine sat down in her chair and motioned for the other woman to speak up.

“I was a profiler for the FBI for six years until I quit a little over two years ago. People who didn’t like my views on the serial abductor forced me out. When one of the children turned up dead, I was a useful scapegoat I guess and I let them take me down.” Serena never looked away as she related her story. But she had flinched slightly as the blue eyes pierced hers and she saw the brief pain that flashed across them with the mention of the death of one of the children.

“I see. And you say that you know who the abductor is?” Catherine linked her fingers together on the desk in front of her and she could feel the wedding ring she wore slightly warm against her flesh and she felt a degree of reassurance from its simple secure message.

“I had my suspicions and now all I need is the chance to prove I’m right. I hope if we can do it soon, we can have your daughter back home safe to you.” Serena continued with her dialogue the woman before her was like a stone statue she was obviously well used to hiding her emotions in difficult situations.

“A chance? Yes, chances are few and far between are they not Ms. Dusterly when we screw up! I take it you think that you have screwed up and cost children their freedom and perhaps their lives?” Catherine spoke quietly and watched the pain etch itself on the plain features of the woman. The bleached blonde hair was cut to shoulder length and it was neat and tidy, but the style could have been a little more flattering.

The woman was of medium proportions not exactly plump, but certainly a degree overweight. Her grey golden-flecked eyes never left Catherine’s face and that was the telling trait that she looked for.

“I need someone to give me that chance. Yes that second chance to redeem myself!” Dusterly choked out her emotions riding high. She was disturbed that this stoic woman made her feel this way as no one had before. It was as if Catherine Warriorson was searching her soul and stripping her bare of past faults before she would decide.

The phone rang allowing the emotional plea to drift in the air, as Catherine swiftly retrieved the handset.

“Warriorson!” the voice harsh in tone.

Serena had never seen someone look so immovable one minute and then the next totally animated.

“Jace, how are you?” Catherine softly asked her partner.

A single tear dripped from the blind eye as she heard the reply and Serena Dusterly stood up from her chair.

Catherine glanced up and quickly spoke to her partner on the phone before she then spoke directly to Serena.

“If you wouldn’t mind going to ask Stephanie to make some tea and whatever you personally would like to drink, I need to take this call in private. I will come and seek you out when I’ve completed the call. Ask Stephanie if she wouldn’t mind making us breakfast as well. You and I have things to talk about Ms. Dusterly and a child to bring home safe.” Catherine returned her attention to her waiting caller and missed the look of exultation that crossed Serena Dusterly’s face at that moment.

“I have my second chance,” it was a wavering statement as she headed for the door.

Catherine heard the softly spoken words and replied briefly.

“Yes you do. Someone gave me a second chance once, now I’m returning the favour. Make it count Dusterly. Make it count for us all!”

Serena opened the door and stepped back out into the hall closing the door behind her to allow Catherine Warriorson her privacy. She couldn’t help the words that fluttered past her lips quietly.

“I will make it count! I will! Even if it costs me my life.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Chapter Two

Sarah looked at the pale features of her friend Constantia. Hadn’t she been through enough in her lifetime already! Were her last days going to be plagued by tragic circumstances also? It wasn’t fair and she was going to see to it that things didn’t happen the way Althea Spiros had related to her friend.

Lukas Dimitrie looked over the balcony into the deep blue of the sea and he lost himself in melancholy thoughts. So, it really wasn’t some fictitious vendetta that he had thought long since finished. It was real, alive and fermenting away in Fatama Spiros’s mind and if Althea was correct being manifested in the shape of Sally Clauser.

Constantia gazed out over the beloved balcony and the two people she loved and was distressed that they were hurting over the current predicament. What choice had she but to involve them? Her insistence that this was a private matter and not for the police to handle had angered both of them she knew. Particularly Lukas. Who had practically dialled the number for Police Captain Artillius to come to their aid.

There had to be other solutions, there just had to be.

Her active intelligent mind went over the discussion that had taken place with Althea Spiros.

“I believe you have something important to relate to me Miss Spiros?”

Constantia had watched the young woman with a practised eye never giving anything away and her single raised eyebrow arched in question.

“Yes, Miss Xianthos I have! You won’t like it, but all I will say is it is the truth.” Althea looked with a hint of fear into the blue steel eyes of the older woman. Within them she saw not only strength, but also a compassion that she hadn’t expected to see.

You want to stand and pace Ms. Spiros or would you prefer a seat and then perhaps you may tell me what is bothering you.” Constantia gave the young woman a small smile and although brief, it was genuine and Althea felt a sense of relief. This wasn’t going to be easy.

Althea seated herself inches away from Constantia Xianthos and related her tale of woe. She then waited with a held breath as to how the older woman would react.

Constantia had always known that Fatama Spiros hated the fact that she had returned to the Island, but she could never have suspected that it went to such a depth of hate that she considered murder!

“Your mother appears to have considered the options very carefully hasn’t she?” Constantia finally replied and looked over her beloved balcony to the beauty of the Aegean Sea she loved.

Althea nodded her head in shame and blinked back the tears she so desperately wanted to shed at the information she knew would cost her the family she loved. Perhaps her life as well!

“Yes. She has and she will do it too! I don’t want it to happen. I thought if you knew the circumstances, we could together stop the act and settle the problem without any need for death.”

Constantia considered the facts as they had been presented to her, then shook her greying head of hair and smiled in compassion at the young woman.

“Althea, if what you say is correct,” she held up her hand as Althea was about to interrupt, “ then you and I, perhaps others close to me also, will make preparations to act accordingly and stop this fiasco before it becomes too late.”

“You think we can stop them?” Althea asked earnestly.  She so desperately wanted a peaceful resolution and to have no bloodshed either.

“I hope so my dear. I certainly do!” Constantia said softly her mind racing with the problems.

Now the predicament was upon them and she had no choice but to bring in one other interested party, no choice at all!

“Sarah, Lukas I have a plan. You want to hear it? It will involve someone else as well.” Constantia implied and the two interested parties turned to the frail woman in her wheelchair and listened intently as she unfolded her strategy.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Jace, I love you darling. Are you okay? How is Jake taking it and the rest of the family?” Catherine asked her partner as the door closed on Serena Dusterly.

Jace looked over at the boy who was playing with Elena and making her laugh, it was good therapy for the boy who had been solemn and hardly said a word over dinner.

“I love you too Catherine. And yes, I’m as good as I will get until I have you in my arms again, and our daughter safely home with us. Jake, I believe he’s hurting Catherine. But he doesn’t want to upset me and he’s holding it inside.” Jace replied and looked at the pictures on the desk that she was seated at in the study. There were lots of pictures of both her and Catherine and the children and one of each of the children separately. As her eyes tracked to Lisa’s she couldn’t help the tears that flowed down her cheeks.

“He needs to let it go Jace. It will be far worse if he bottles it up. Perhaps Colin can help. Jake talks to him like a father figure. What do you think of that suggestion?” Catherine felt the churning emotions in her partner all she wanted to do was take her in her arms that was something she had permanently etched in her mind. Now she didn’t want to imply that Jace couldn’t handle the situation, but sometimes other people could help and she was fairly certain that Colin could in this instance.

Jace glanced at the boy again and she smiled tearfully. “Yes, I think that’s a wonderful suggestion Catherine. How are you darling?” She wanted to ask if Catherine had any news, but she knew that if she had any, her partner would say soon enough.

Catherine looked at the closed door of her study and considered her options and frankly there was only one… no longer would she keep things from Jace. “Ms. Dusterly, who came with Captain Travis has offered her services to us as a private advisor. It appears that she works freelance now, but she was the original profiler on the case a few years ago. Travis sent her to seek me out I think. She stated she knows who is responsible for the abduction.”

Jace sucked in a breath at the words, so there was a chance! A lead at last! My god she should be there with Catherine… she should be there!

“Do you believe her?”

“Jace if there is a remote possibility that the woman is right, I will take it. I will take anything at the moment and the chance to have Lisa back with us.” Catherine responded her voice rising with her impassioned comment.

“Then we take the chance Catherine. We take any chance no matter how fantastic and remote.” Jace replied her voice gaining in strength as she wiped the errant tears from her eyes.

“How are the rest of the family taking the events?” Catherine asked bleakly her heart-felt heavy with the continuing loss of their little princess and her distance from Jace.

Jace looked over at the two children who were engrossed in some game that she couldn’t quite decipher, but it was bringing a smile to Jake’s face and that was something at least. Elena could always be relied upon to bring a smile to the stoic featured boy’s face. It was really quite amazing that he had so many mannerisms that matched Catherine’s, especially when he used that replica eyebrow action. Boy that was something to behold.

“Faith is being so supportive and she and my Mom are basically keeping busy with the children and helping Judy around the house. I don’t think either of them want to think beyond each hour and hope every phone call brings good news,” Jace answered. Her memory filled with the scene of the two older women holding each other as each shed many tears over the predicament. It had been a very emotional scene and she had fled to the bedroom and cried her own tears at all the pain that was once again being levelled their way.

“Yes, that’s a very understandable reaction and I hope to have the phone call to make us all happy real soon. Has Grace been informed? Is she home?” Catherine asked the final words tumbling from her lips virtually inaudible.

Jace looked at the instrument in her hand and pulled a wry expression as she responded.

“Darling, Grace is home and she’s unhappy as we all are and I think she wants to help in anyway she can. You know Grace?”

Catherine closed her eyes at the words. ‘Good! If Grace was at home, then Jace would have a close friend to confide in and support her should the worse case scenario happen.’

“I need to check in with Dusterly and get moving on things here. Will you tell Grace I will speak with her later?” Catherine’s voice lowered as she asked the question of her partner.

Jace was a little perplexed at the question. ‘Why would Catherine need to talk privately with Grace?’ “Sure, I will let her know. She would appreciate the contact I know.”

“Jace?” Catherine said her voice the low timbre that made Jace shiver at the reaction the sound had on her body.

“Yes? Do you need me to do anything else for you?” Jace asked quietly, when Catherine used that tone in her voice the statement that followed would be important.

“I want you to know that I love you deeply and nothing will stop me from finding out who has done this and bringing our daughter home. No matter the cost to me personally or financially!” Catherine spoke the words with the same low timbre emphasising certain words. It left Jace in no doubt that each element of the comment was to Catherine a solemn vow.

Jace sighed heavily, ‘my love, you would fight the very devil himself, but I hope you know when to give up and come home if the situation is hopeless?’

“Catherine I never doubted your love. I think we might just have been given a miracle in the shape of Ms. Dusterly if she is right. I’m going to believe in that miracle and you will both be home soon.” Jace decided that it wasn’t the time to voice any doubts or concerns that she had. Catherine needed her strength and she would get that. The miles apart didn’t matter. It never would to them.

Catherine heard the power in her partner’s voice and it was the additional strength that she needed and that suddenly released within her an inner energy that was needed to carry on.

“As much as I want to stay and talk Jace and I do, I need to get a plan together with Dusterly. Right now my love, every second counts.” Catherine replied hoping that Jace would understand the need to finish the conversation.

“Catherine go! Speed along my love and keep safe. I will always be at your side in spirit you know that, right?” Jace smiled into the receiver as she heard the sharp in-drawn breath and she could imagine the expression of her partner’s one of awe and wonder.

“Jace…I…I need to go.” Catherine wasn’t always the wordiest person in the world and when she was awe-struck the words died.

“Catherine I know… I will always know.” Jace replied softly and tears welled up in her eyes all she wanted to do was hold the woman close and whisper that everything was going to be all right, they would both see to that.

“Talk to you a little later Jace. Kiss the kids for me. I love you.” Catherine’s voice trembled with emotion.

“Yes, Darling, talk to you later and I will kiss the children for you. I love you so much Catherine Warriorson. Go battle the foes and defeat them and bring our little princess home.” Jace smiled tearfully as she heard a muted goodbye and the line died.

Replacing the receiver on the cradle, Jace looked at the pictures of their family and how happy everyone looked and then she glanced over to the photo of Catherine’s deceased son and her family. Suddenly she smote a hand to her forehead.

“Oh, God! I forgot to tell her about the call from her Aunt! Now what do I do?” Jace whispered into the empty study.

Her eyes travelled to the patio doors and the children that were still playing and she contemplated them silently. One word kept coming louder in her mind each time, one word that conveyed so much, one word that was so important to them all, one word that had to be considered, one word that created so much love, one word that was strength.

FAMILY!

Jace moved away from the desk and made her way towards the patio doors and slid them open. She heard Jake explaining something patiently to Elena and the toddler reached up giggling smothering him in playful kisses. That particular action had the boy both squirming at the attention and laughing at the antics of his baby sister.

Yes! A very, very important word to them here on Destiny... Family!

“Guess I’m going to have to work this one out myself. Catherine shouldn’t have additional worries. She needs to keep focused on Lisa. Constantia will just have to be my problem!” Jace spoke absently and then was brought out of her daydreaming as small arms wrapped around her legs.

“Mama!” Elena shrieked from her clinging position at her feet.

“Hey baby. Have you finished teasing Jake?” Jace looked over at the boy who was looking a little rumpled and his normally tidy hair was stuck out in places he looked quite comical.

“Jace, Elena is a little monster,” the boy remarked with a wide grin and ventured closer to them.

Jace reached down and pulled her daughter up into her arms and hugged her tight and kissed the dark head of hair, her eyes once again brimming with tears.

“I’m sure our little monster here could do with a walk. What do you say Jake?”

Jake gave her a thoughtful look and his face turned serious as he spoke.

“Yes, that’s a good idea. Catherine will bring Lisa home Jace. Catherine never let’s anyone hurt her family. She loves us all too much.” Jake’s voice rose slightly at his unusual emotional outburst.

Jace moved Elena over to one side then she held out her arm as the boy went forward and rested his head on her shoulder. They all felt the close connection of family. “I agree with you Jake. She certainly does love us all very much, as we love her, don’t we?”

“Yes we do!” Jake replied solemnly and he nestled further into Jace’s shoulder for comfort.

Elena snuggled further into her side of her mother’s body and to the protectively watching grandparents from their position on the porch; it was such a poignant scene. Yet, reminded them that miracles happened, and those three together here on Destiny attested to that as nothing else could.

* * * * * * * * * *

Catherine looked at her hands that still held tightly to the handset of the phone. It was now five minutes since she had disconnected from Jace and yet she couldn’t move. Something was telling her that another problem was looming. ‘ Wouldn’t Jace have told her if something were wrong at home?’

Shaking her head to clear away the foreboding thoughts, she placed the receiver back in its position moving lithely out of her chair and headed for the door into the hall.

As she reached the kitchen area she looked at the profile of the woman who was perhaps the only chance they would have of finding Lisa and bringing her home. As Catherine scrutinised the woman unobserved, she really wasn’t sure if Dusterly could take the pressure. What if she was wrong as her colleagues had thought two years ago? Well there was only one way to prove that and what did she have to lose? But oh, what a great prize to gain the return of her daughter, if she was right!

“Dusterly have you arranged breakfast?” Catherine barked at the woman and it brought a wicked smile to her face as she saw the younger woman practically fall off her chair at the barked words.

“Yes…yes I have. Your housekeeper is in the laundry room. She will be right out.” Serena Dusterly spoke nervously totally unprepared for the entrance of her new employer. ‘My god this woman would have made a marvellous government agent. She had the aura about her that made you feel scared and yet protected too!’

Catherine moved swiftly to take a chair and saw the teapot standing and went over to pour herself a mug of tea. Adding her milk and stirring the liquid in to produce a beige beverage, Catherine smiled in anticipation of the taste to come.

“Excellent! So I hope you have a feasible plan. I suspect we haven’t much time?”

Serena Dusterly looked down at her linked hands and then to the cooling coffee in front of her. She had so many cascading thoughts that it was impossible to tell this woman before her in any clear coherency.

“I have ideas,” she finally stated quietly.

Catherine raised her left eyebrow to the top of her forehead and it gave her that demonic look she loved to give when she was displeased with something. Walking slowly towards the kitchen table she placed the hot steaming tea on it’s shining surface and locked her piercing blue eyes on the golden flecked grey ones of the woman who had her daughter’s life hanging on her actions.

“Dusterly, I hope for your sake that the ideas are good!”

Serena Dusterly drew in a deep breath and faced the woman squarely and traded glance for glance. “Yes, they are good ideas. I just need the resources and someone to believe in them and trust in me!”

Catherine looked long and hard, blinked and released the other woman’s eyes and sat down.

“Well, you came to the right place then. I have the resources and I’m going to believe in them and trust in you. So let’s get this show on the road!”

Serena Dusterly heard the words and wasn’t sure of the sincerity until she looked across at Catherine Warriorson and saw the strength of purpose in the woman. Suddenly her confidence bubbled inside, screaming to be let out of its captivity.

“Yes, lets do just that!” Serena spoke and was given a genuine smile from the stoic featured woman. It made her even more confident as she started to explain her ideas to the solemn woman in earnest.



Continued in Part 2
 

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