~ All Our Tomorrows ~
J M Dragon
Part Eleven
February 2001
e-mail: jmdragon1@hotmail.com

Disclaimer:   See Part One

Chapter Twenty-two

Colin had talked to Danni at length the previous evening, agreeing to accompany her to the police after he had finished his morning rounds. Now with the aid of Jake, he was sure that everything would be complete by ten that morning. He had called Detective Armstrong who had handled Jace’s kidnapping over a year ago and explaining briefly the reason for his visit. He would rather talk with him first than anyone else. It was all going according to plan.

Danni had settled quietly in a reflective mood, in the living area. Although the TV was on, he was certain she was not watching it as her eyes constantly strayed towards the main house.

The woman called Hudson, sounded as if she had one major chip on her shoulder. It went by the name of his employer and friend, Catherine Warriorson. He had been a little worried at some of the disclosures Danni had seen fit to regale him with. After she was safely in bed, he hoped soundly asleep, he set some very special alarms on the main house that only he and Catherine were aware of, for the moment. In fact, he wasn’t even sure if she was going to explain them to Jace. Extra safety measures seemed to be the focus for Catherine once the renovations had been agreed upon and finally completed. They had never tested them properly, but he decided that evening was as good as any time to set them.

He’d been fairly confident that Danni was being sincere with her information and did indeed want to make up for some of her past mistakes. He had been correct too, as the safety measures had not been set off. Danni had not left the house or ventured near the main ranch house.

Jake was ambling over to the house. Therefore, Colin needed to leave. Walking towards the room that Danni was sitting quietly in, he opened the door popping his head inside the room.

“I have to go now Danni. If you need anything, please help yourself. I’ll be back in a little over an hour. We will then see the detective with your information, okay?” He smiled at her warmly.

Danni started in surprise. His gentle voice eased her nervousness at the situation she was now in. “Sure, thanks Colin.”

He smiled once more, a merry twinkle in his grey eyes, closing the door behind him.

Danni stared unseeingly out of the window of the room that showed her the drive to the main house. ‘If only you knew it all Colin, what would you think then, I wonder? I doubt you would allow me in your home, or a hundred miles near the family you try to protect. No need for you to know Colin, not now. I will explain it all to the police. Then, it will finally be over. What a tangled web we weave in life. If only things could be different, if only!’

She continued to watch the main house with a mixture of regret tinged with sadness, for things that might have been.

* * * * * * * * * *

Grace was tentatively walking the small ledge. She had forgotten one important point when she’d climbed onto the ridge, her weak leg wasn’t going to be all that steady.

Now she was feeling the strain of dragging it along such a small area. It was taking her longer than she anticipated. The man, she was sure, could only be seconds away from detecting her. She had heard the crash of the bookcase as well as the angry words indecipherable to her, but the tone had been enough.

Taking the next step, she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen again. She clutched at her belly and the ache it caused, sucking in a sharp breath at the pain. Her foot faltered. She had to push back against the whitewashed walls of the building, as she steadied herself. ‘My god, could it get any worse?’

She closed her eyes briefly at the sharp pain and expelled a shallow breath. She finally opened her brown eyes slowly, instinctively knowing that she was not alone. Slowly she turned her head to look at the balcony area she had left the safety of, a few minutes before.

George Spiros looked at the sight before him, a young woman trying desperately to escape him. Under normal circumstances, he would have laughed at the idea, for few women ran from his charms. These were not normal circumstances. He noticed that the woman had pain etched in her features, which had nothing to do with his appearance. She was obviously in distress.

“You should not be on the ledge,” he stated simply in accented English.

Grace wanted to laugh at the ludicrous comment. Of course, she should not be, but it was this ledge or looking down the barrel of a gun. She had decided her chances were much better on the ledge, or at least they had appeared to be at the time. “You had something else in mind?”

George heard the sarcasm in the foreigner’s voice. He had to give her credit for her spunk at a time like this. It reminded him of Althea’s courage. “Please, it would be better if you came back.”

“Oh yeah. Says who?” Grace remarked tightly at the comment. Did he think she was stupid?

The man shook his head slightly, eyeing her position, which looked less than safe to him. Again he saw a flash of pain she was unable to mask, travel across her face. “You are hurt?” his voice held a concern she was astonished at.

“What does it matter to you? Why not do as you were bid? Kill me now. I’m a sitting duck, easy target for you.” Grace scathingly said as another sharp pain coursed through her, making her sway slightly on the ledge. Perhaps it wasn’t going to be a bullet that would end it all, but her body rebelling.

George saw her sway as he moved quickly towards the balcony edge. She was right. He should just shoot her. That would be one of the two foreigners taken care of. All he wanted to do was save his sister. If he could prove that he had killed one of the foreigners, perhaps he could plead mercy for his sister. He had to try!

“Yes, that is true.” He brought out his handgun levelling it at her head as his finger squeezed around the trigger.

Grace saw the action in slow motion, or at least it appeared that way. It was the end. She could see images flash before her eyes. The final one she had before her as she waited for the end to come was her husband’s trusting smile and warm loving grey eyes. ‘Oh god, she was going to miss him. She was sorry. So sorry she had brought it to this point. He would understand. He would, she just knew it!’

She cried out in agony as a pain stronger than the previous ones tore at her. The intensity creating a dark vacuum, She felt herself falling, falling and falling…

* * * * * * * * * *

Catherine came out of her trance like state, watching over her sleeping daughter as they pulled up at the entrance of the luxury apartment complex. The flashing of lights and sirens prompted her mind back to the present.

“Rita? Are we surrounded?” Catherine asked the woman who was edging them closer to the entrance, suddenly thinking that was a rather stupid comment.

“Yeah, I think so. I didn’t want to interrupt you, but a police vehicle has escorted us since we left the farmhouse. I figured it was better to have them there than give them the slip.” Rita glanced in her rear view mirror, her eyes caught by the ice blue eyes of her employer.

“Good call. So, it looks like the whole of New York PD is here to welcome us home.” Her absent comment unanswered as Rita stopped the vehicle and quickly got out of her seat and went around to open the rear passenger side for Catherine.

As she did so, Lt. Delaney came forward, showing his badge. He stood erect and watchful as Catherine carefully manoeuvred out of the vehicle with her precious bundle in her arms. Lisa was sleeping soundly for the moment.

“Ms. Devonshire, is there anything I can do?” he asked politely, watching a hooded expression cross her face. He could hazard a good guess at exactly what she wanted to say to him, especially now that they knew who the kidnapper was. Dusterly had been right all along.

“No, not at the moment. I’m waiting for my physician. Let him through as soon as he gets here. Don’t make a hash of that small task, will you detective?” Catherine responded softly, leaving her no doubt that the words had hit home as the man nodded his head, shamefaced at the censure.

Catherine mounted the steps shadowed by Rita. To prevent anyone from getting too close and entering the building, two police officers followed discreetly behind them.

Stepping into the elevator, she clasped Lisa closer to her, kissing the top of her head once more. It was the only thing she could do to ensure herself that the child was safe with her now. Her own head was aching. She was also struggling to breathe out of the possibly broken nose. Gulping in air, she concentrated on the steel doors. Her mind cleared slightly and she was inwardly smiling at now being in a position to call Jace. She was able to say at last that she was coming home. Lisa was coming home too!

The doors slid open as they walked quickly towards the apartment. On either side of the door was two uniformed police officers. This time, there was going to be no mistake. No one was going to have the opportunity to take her child away again. As the door opened for them, Stephanie the housekeeper had to stifle a sob as she saw the bloodied face of her employer, but more importantly the small child held securely in her arms. Lisa was home at last!

They walked inside silently, without words. Catherine went to the child’s bedroom, placed her tenderly on the bed, and pulled the blankets over her semi-sleeping form. As she did, she pulled out Blacky from her pocket, placing him by her side. Lisa already clutched the rag doll to her as Catherine had placed her in the child’s hand within minutes of Lisa being safe.

Now standing erect, Catherine stared down at the child. The lump she felt in her throat now manifested itself in tears as she slumped into the chair at the child’s bedside and cried. Her sobs refused to be masked as she tried, but failed to combat them, the sound to her was even louder as she was unable to breathe properly out of her nose. She was a mess!

“Don’t cry Catherine.” A small voice said. The woman was not sure she had heard the voice in reality, or if it was in her mind.

“Please Mom, don’t cry.” This time Catherine was sure she heard it, looking across at the pale face of her daughter, who was looking solemnly at her with blue eyes as wide as saucers.

Catherine continued to look at Lisa. She did not know what to say. Then she remembered that Jace had said actions often speak louder than words. So she moved towards the bed, settled herself down next to the child, and pulled the frail body into her arms as she kissed the top of her head. “Lisa, we missed you!” Words she whispered brokenly, over and over again as they both found solace in the comfort of each other.

For several minutes they stayed like that, then Catherine spoke gently into the silent room.

“You and I are going home Lisa, home for good. Jake, Elena, Grandma Faith, Grandma Alison, Colin, and Judy will be there. Ah, Rio too. Can’t forget Rio now, can I?” Catherine smiled feeling Lisa chuckle into her body.

“No, we can’t forget Rio, Catherine. Rio Warriorson, that’s his name! He’s family too!” Lisa spoke softly, closing her eyes as she settled further into a closer embrace.

“You won’t go away, will you Catherine?” a mere squeak from the child as sleep began to take over again.

No, I won’t go away Lisa. I’ll never go away again. You’re going to be safe from now on, I promise.” Catherine whispered, not knowing if the child heard or not, but the small sigh that she felt from the child convinced her that she had indeed heard that promise.

“You did not say mom, Catherine. Will mom be home too?” The child asked wearily, but sleep claimed her before Catherine could answer. She would do so tomorrow, yes tomorrow.

Looking up at the white ceiling with the plaster-moulded fairies that adorned the centre of each corner, she vowed that this time the promise would never be broken. Only death itself would end the decree.

“I love you Lisa. Tomorrow if all goes well, we will go home for good!”

Catherine closed her eyes, wondering what was happening with Jace. Having felt a tightening in her gut increasingly as the hours had proceeded, she had hoped it was the rescue attempt. But now, she still felt the nervous feeling. Something was not right. She had only experienced that when Jace was in trouble or worried. As soon as the doctor arrived and had seen to them both, she would call Jace. He would be here soon. They had called him as they hit the outskirts of New York, so anytime soon.

“We have her back Jace. Thank you for your strength, my love. Without your guiding light, where would I be today?” she spoke as the sun streamed into the room without permission, warming them with its rays.

* * * * * * * * * *

“No!” Fatama Spiros threw the one word into the room. It seemed to echo off every surface as everyone watched in uncontrollable morbid fascination. Hudson was about to blow Jace’s head off!

Hudson turned with malevolent eyes towards the old crone who had issued the single word, effectively stopping her final squeeze of the trigger. ‘Did Jace Bardley, this insipid creature, have nine lives?’

“What?” Hudson shouted, her tone harsh.  Her eyes darted around the room for any obvious problem.

“We came here to kill Xianthos. That was the deal. I want her dead first.” Fatama stared at Constantia Xianthos as she sneered at the wheelchair bound woman. Constantia’s silent tears trailed her cheeks as she stared at the still figure of her greatest friend, lying at her feet. She was unable to help her or give her comfort.

“What difference does it make?” Hudson glanced at the woman in the wheelchair, smiling wickedly as she thought what a wonderful sensation it was to hold all these peoples lives in her hand. Not one of them would have a chance to plead for their lives. Well, she might let them plead, but they would not live. No loose ends was something she had learned along the way in this life.

“I want Xianthos. You asked for my help, I want Xianthos first!” Fatama stated with confident authority.

“Oh…Oh well, it doesn’t matter anyway. She’s next then, that’s my choice.” Hudson agreed, bored at the conversation. After all, it was only a matter of a few minutes.

Fatama Spiros stood up and walked unsteadily over to Constantia Xianthos. At last, the feud would end. The niece would be as good as dead soon enough. The maniac foreigner would see to that. Now within inches of her nemesis, she looked down at the silver hair that was bowed looking at the creature of the floor. That stupid Englishwoman should never have allied herself to the Xianthos seed. It always brought death and destruction to anyone it touched. It always had and always would. Legend foretold it, now she knew first hand.

“You refuse to look up at the person who takes your life, head of the house of cowards called Xianthos?” Fatama spit out at the woman she hated, hated with a rage that fired her belly as soon as she heard her name. It had always been this way, even as a child when they had attended the same school. Her beloved Nikolos had eyes only for the tall raven-haired, blue-eyed beautiful woman. There had been only one way to ensure that she caught Nikolos eye and that was to discredit Constantia in his. It would be easy, or so she thought. It had finally taken another death to complete her plan. That had been beneficial too.

Constantia wanted nothing more than to join her friend in death! Sarah had given her life to protect her, when the foreigner had walked in firing a shot in her direction. Sarah had un-selfishly placed her body in front of her, taking the bullet meant for her. She had fallen directly in front of the wheelchair unmoving. It wasn’t right that Sarah should die. It wasn’t her time!

Constantia lifted her head, regally piercing Fatama with an ice blue gaze that emitted the feeling of having frostbite in seconds. “You call my family cowards? You! Fatama, how can that be? When you chose to use assassins to kill me, rather than do the deadly deed yourself? Tell me Fatama please. I want to know, how that cannot be considered a coward’s way out?”

“You are such a fool Constantia! You were as a young woman, even more so as an old one.” Fatama felt chilled by the gaze of her prey. Surely, it should be the other way around.

“Fool, I may be Fatama, but I would never throw my child to the dogs for an outdated ancient feud, that is not even of your own bloodline. What of your daughter Althea? She is a fine woman. You embroil her and your son in long forgotten disputes that have no meaning to the new generations of our children. Greece is no longer a country of legends, gods and goddess’. It is a place where our children can be equal to the rest of the world. We should rejoice in it! So much better than feuds and disputes of old.” Constantia gave what she expected to be her last words in this life, regarding the pale features of Althea Spiros as she did so.

“How would you know? Where are your children? Even as a surrogate mother you failed, didn’t you? One child is dead. The other is a perverted creature that should be in prison or dead!" Fatama scathingly responded, bristling with emotion.

Constantia heaved a heavy sigh. Jace watched, listening to the conversation. She felt her own heart jerk in compassion then anger as her partner was discussed in such disparaging terms.

Suddenly, a shot rang out. All eyes darted to the open balcony where the sound resonated.

“My god, at least it sounds as if one of your brood can do what it’s told. Unbelievable!” Hudson caustically broke the silence of the stunned room.

Jace wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Had the man who was hunting them traced Grace? Had he shot her? Perhaps it was a warning shot. Maybe it didn’t hit it’s target…Oh god, where are you Catherine when I need your strength? My darling, I need it now.

Fatama turned to the American, smiling briefly. “Yes, my son will always do his duty.”

“How about I just finish off the old woman, Bardley, and the rest of them? Then we will celebrate with Champagne at the family restaurant. What do you say?” Hudson retorted, now only interested in getting the job done.

Fatama looked at Constantia Xianthos, Jace Bardley, and the two men tied up against the wall, unable to move. Then her eyes turned to her daughter, her youngest child, the apple of Nikolos’ eye. He had doted on the child, had always said she was brighter than his son was. Yet, who was brighter now? She was about to die. George would live and carry on the name, as it should be! It would all be over soon, all of it!

“As you wish. I will go talk to George.” Fatama announced as she slowly made her way towards the door.

“Mama? Mama, you can’t let her do this! You can’t!” Althea pleaded as she held out a hand to stop her mother.

“Oh, give me strength!” Hudson exhaled a deep breath in exaggerated irritation.

The door to the room opened suddenly as George Spiros stepped in. Casting his eyes around with slight trepidation, the demonic one of the foreigner, Clauser locked his gaze.

“You finished the business?” Hudson asked matter-of-factly, quite as if she was shopping for groceries.

George mumbled something low in Greek and then replied in English. “Yes.”

“Good, that means you can help me with the final plan.” Hudson smiled cruelly at the spectators in the room.

Jace cried out in anguish as the man confirmed her worse fears. Grace was dead

“Bardley, shut up!” Hudson spoke harshly at the blonde, obviously distressed at the news.

George glanced first at his mother, before quickly sliding around the room to the captive audience and   finally resting on his sister, distressed at her frightened terrorised features.

Turning to Hudson, making his way so that he was in front of her, he answered her question.

“Yes! Yes, I’m ready for the final plan.” He spoke softly as he faced the foreigner.

* * * * * * * * * *

Chapter Twenty-three

Colin had finished the chores as he had expected. Now, they were heading towards the gates to pick up Danni’s car.

“You okay with this Danni? I’ll understand if you want to forget the police.” Colin asked the pensive woman at his side. She had said very little since he’d come back from his rounds.

Danni stared unseeingly out of the windscreen, barely hearing any of the words. Her mind was in turmoil, everything had appeared to be easy, explain to Jace and then disappear for good. Her mind continually going over the information she had, also what Hudson had asked her to do. She couldn’t do it. She’d agreed to do it for the money. Yes, the money had been the big factor. She could go live on one of the small islands in the pacific and start all over again. No one would know her or find her. Hudson certainly would not bother with her. She was such a small cog in her plans. She was sure the woman had other things to care about. That left her as a trivial irritation.

“Danni are you okay?” Colin asked worriedly as he pulled up at her vehicle and parked a few hundred yards away from the gatehouse.

Danni shook her head of her thoughts as she smiled at this kind man. She hoped one day that she would meet someone as kind and gentle with her. “I’m sorry Colin. Yes, I’m fine. I’ll get my car and follow you to the police station.”

Colin looked at her closely, nodding his head. “Okay, you know best. It’s in town about ten miles south, if we lose each other.” He chuckled at that, for the roads were virtually deserted. Traffic jams were only a thing of the big cities.

Danni smiled at the comment and then suddenly placed her arms about the tall man, hugging him tight. “Thank you for giving me a chance Colin. You don’t know what it means to me.”

Colin went a crimson red, as he felt her arms go around him. He had not expected this kind of emotional outburst. ‘Women!’

“Mr. Montgomery?” The security officer shouted to him.

Disengaging from the embrace, he smiled at her. She went towards her vehicle as he went to see what the guard wanted.

“Yes Fred. What’s the problem?” Colin smiled at the man. He was a good security man.

“You told us to report anything suspicious?” Fred asked tentatively.

“Yes, of course Fred. Has there been an incident?” Colin was immediately on his guard. The property, and particularly the people within the property were his main concern.

“Well, last night around midnight a car drove up and asked directions to the town. I thought it was a bit odd, but you know what tourists are like. They can’t read maps like us old ones can.” Fred rambled; Colin wanted to say great, thanks, but waited a short time for the man to finish.

“That was all? Did they leave immediately?” Colin asked as he turned to watch Danni get in her vehicle.

“Well, yeah I guess they did. I thought you might want to know?”

Colin turned back to the security guard, “Sure, I did Fred. That’s great. Thanks for telling me. I need to go into town now. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

Colin walked back to his vehicle and saw Danni turn to look at him. He smiled back as he reached his vehicle.

As he opened the door to the vehicle, Fred shouted at him again.

“Mr. Montgomery?”

“Yes Fred?” Colin asked absently. The security man ambled over as he sat in his car, turning on the engine.

“I’m sure it’s nothing, but…they stopped next to your visitor’s car for a little while. I don’t think anything was amiss. They appeared to be talking, had a drink out of a flask, then they went away.” Fred said turning back towards his station.

Colin mulled over the new information, initially thinking nothing about it as he set his vehicle in motion. He passed Danni’s car, waving at her to follow. Driving twenty yards along the road, he heard an explosion and was suddenly inundated by a fireball with metal objects crashing on his Landrover.

Turning off the ignition immediately, he looked into his rear view mirror. He couldn’t believe what he saw. The car that belonged to Danni was engulfed in flames. He felt the heat of the fireball, knowing that Danni could not have survived the explosion.

Flames engulfed the vehicle, decimating it to a smouldering shell! Colin looked towards the security guard that was lying on the ground. He needed help! It was clearly too late for Danni.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hudson smiled at the Greek who she had been certain was a lost cause who wouldn’t come up with the goods. Well, how wrong could you be?

“By all means George, lets make history, shall we?” Hudson smirked at the man.

“Yes, let’s make history.” George replied mechanically. He pulled out his gun and without another word, aimed it at Hudson.

Hudson looked at the barrel of the gun and laughed in a cackle that would have done justice to a witch’s coven.

“You’re pointing that the wrong way idiot.”

George looked at her and smiled at the comment. “Idiot? No, not me foreigner, you are the idiot.” He concentrated his aim and was about to squeeze the trigger when he felt a sharp pain in his chest. He glanced down in shock to see crimson red spread over his shirt. ‘What was that?’

“Yeah, idiot. I’ve shot you first.” Hudson smiled sardonically at the shocked expression on the face of the dying man. She swiftly moved away from the gun barrel that might go off in reaction.

Fatama could not believe what she saw. Screaming her pain at the injury to her son, she kneelt down awkwardly as he slumped to the floor.

“George? George? Please don’t die. Mama is here George. Don’t die.” The words said in a heartbroken tone that tore at even the most cynical in the room, all except one.

“Oh my god, now we have the melodramatics? For god’s sake Fatama, it’s the way it goes. Some you win, some you lose. Didn’t I explain the rules to you sufficiently?” Hudson stated in a bored tone, looking at the body of the man at her feet with his mother wailing over the fool.

“Look, I’ve had enough of this. Let’s just shoot them. I’m thirsty for that champagne.” Hudson looked around with increasing boredom.

“You have no feelings whatsoever Hudson, none!” Jace glared at the mad woman, knowing why Catherine had focused on making sure this woman was neutralised. If she saw her partner again…no! When she saw her again, she was going to make sure that if Catherine ever came across this type of situation again, she would listen and listen close.

“Oh Bardley, when will you get off the soap box and consider yourself dead?” Hudson dismissed her as she would a small bug under her feet, aiming her gun at Jace’s head once more.

“I wasn’t aware I possessed a soap box. That’s more suited to you than me, I think. What ever did anyone do to set you on this path? It’s not too late to change, you know.” Jace tried to plead with the woman.

She had thought that once, a long, long time ago, she knew Hudson. The gun aimed at her head, and the recent shooting of one of her accomplices without a second thought, should have frightened her. It hadn’t! If she did not try something, she was dead anyway. Perhaps somewhere inside Hudson, she still had a heart. It was always worth a try. What did she have to lose now anyway? Her life was already forfeit.

Althea Spiros saw the woman kill her brother without a second thought. Her attention was now drawn to the small blonde, who really should not be goading the woman, for it was certain death. She was positive Jace knew this. Slowly, she knelt by her brother’s body, placing a trembling hand on her mother’s shoulder in sympathy. No matter what differences they had, ultimately they had both loved George. It was perhaps the only thing that they shared.

“Mama please, he’s dead. It is time for us to leave. There is nothing left here for us. The revenge you sought will only bring more pain and grief. It is time to go home.” Althea pleaded with her mother, her heart full of pain as she looked at the serene expression on George’s face in death.

Fatama Spiros heard the words, but they made no sense to her. How could they? For revenge was sweet, she would have her revenge! Looking up quickly, she startled the young woman, who had betrayed her. George would not be dead if Althea had agreed to the plan and followed the directions of the foreigner.

“You! How can you say that? I will have my revenge. All is not lost. George will not die without my exacting that revenge in the fullest.” Fatama spat at her daughter. The manic expression in her Mother’s eyes shocked Althea. Reaching for the gun that her son held lifelessly in his hand, she retrieved the weapon aiming it at her daughter.

“No!” Jace shouted as she saw the action and the altercation, her discussion with Hudson now on hold. No one else was going to die today, not if she could help it!

When movies were shown in slow motion, that was how Jace felt as she dived towards the mother and daughter scenario. She was praying to whatever god was listening, to help her out here. Expecting the worse and feeling a sharp pain to her chest, resulting in a loss of breath from her lungs, she heard a shot ring out, then another within a split second.

‘Had she been shot? Was she still alive? She could hear sirens and voices far away, or at least that was what she judged them to be.’ She opened her eyes which she had squeezed shut as she dived towards the floor. She focused now on the ceiling, rather than the weight that was lying across her.

“Jace? Jace are you okay?” James Thompson shouted from his position at the wall. He was unable to move, but he could talk. He had been in the movie business for years. He could have sworn this was right out of one of the latest action adventures. But it wasn’t fiction it was real life and my god, what a real life.

Jace looked towards her friend shaking her head of the jumbled thoughts. “Yes, yes James. I’m fine.”

Althea Spiros had a hand clutched to her mouth as she looked at the now prone body of her mother, the dark eyes staring unseeingly, out at her. No longer alive, no longer able to exact revenge, no longer able to manipulate and harm anyone. She placed a trembling hand over the eyelids, shutting them one final time as she bowed her head beginning to cry. Wracking sobs filled her body. ‘Revenge? What is revenge?’

“You have nine lives Bardley. Did you know that?” Clarissa Hudson spoke so quietly Jace wasn’t sure if it was just in her head, but she felt the movement of the body lying across hers.

Jace sucked in a breath as she realised it was Hudson lying across her, bleeding profusely from a gun shot wound to the chest.

“I don’t know how…that is why?” Jace exclaimed softly, clearly unsure as to what happened.

“No one Bardley, no one but me, was going to have the pleasure of your death. The old crone wasn’t going to take my pleasure away. You were mine.” Hudson spoke with a halting quality to her words, each syllable a drain on her energy levels. Her face ashen, eyes dilated, Jace could see the shadows of pain crease her features, ensuring the bearer knew what pain was at its most acute level.

Jace couldn’t believe the woman was still trying to intimidate her as she lay possibly within minutes of death! How could anyone have such a hatred, that it kept them away from death’s door as it opened to allow entry?

“Hudson, you saved my life. How is that a part of your plans?” Jace appealed softly. As she saw a grimace of pain, blood coursed from Hudson’s mouth causing her to splutter and cough.

“I’ll never die Bardley! I am always going to be here. The shadow of tomorrow that you want to forget, but never will! How can you? I just saved your ass. Ironic, don’t you think? How will that precious partner of yours take that news? Make her sick probably.” Hudson viciously spat out. Her breath became ragged as she exhaled.

Jace shook her head, the blonde hair swirling around like a halo, “Catherine will be grateful.” The words were simple, but sincere as she stared at the woman, unable to fully understand the events that had taken place.

Hudson’s eyes glazed over, wondering if the final moment was here. Perhaps an angel had come to take her, another irony if that proved the case. “Catherine will be so upset! That woman will never forgive herself for having to be grateful to me for anything, especially your life! I think it is fitting, my final deed, always to be beside the two of you, for the rest of your days. A living death, I think they call it Bardley. So, I get my wish after all.”

The door to the balcony room opened. In rushed two police officers, with three more at the door. Taking in the situation, they immediately tracked down the guns and scoured the area for others with weapons.

“We need medical attention here.” Constantia spoke in rapid Greek, relieved when two paramedics rushed inside under police escort.

One paramedic attended to the prone figure of Sarah Rogers turning her slowly to assess the injury, which was a mass of blood from the shoulder area.

“Is she dead?” Constantia barely whispered, hoping another tragedy could be prevented.

The paramedic checked for life signs. Much to Constantia’s annoyance, he remained silent for a few moments more. Then, he peered up at the woman in the wheelchair, giving her a wink.

“She’s lost a lot of blood, but I think we arrived in time.” He stood up motioning for a stretcher to be placed beside Sarah.

Constantia watched as her friend was settled on the stretcher, tears cascading down her face. She placed a tender hand on the cheek she could reach as they lifted the injured woman away.

“Would you like to ride with us?” The paramedic asked gently, virtually knocked off his feet at the dazzling smile he received.

Jace was relieved of the now unconscious Hudson. A paramedic worked on the prone woman to revive her, looking grim as he did so. Hudson’s words echoed in her mind as she struggled to stand, covered in the other woman’s blood.

“Is this everyone in the villa?” the police captain asked in English.

Jace looked up into his eyes, her emerald ones glistening with unshed tears. “No…no my friend Grace is in the villa somewhere, she…she was …she….” Jace broke at that point, weeping for her friend.

“Would that be a Mrs. Montgomery?” The Police Captain replied, with a brief understanding smile.

“Yes…yes it would. Have you found her?” Jace asked quickly, her face taking on a blotchy hue as she cried for her friend.

“Well, I guess you could call it that, but she found us first. She’s feeling a little under the weather, but the medics have checked her over. She’s resting.” Flashing him a bright smile with tears that fell down her cheeks, Jace rushed out of the room. She was unaware of Grace’s whereabouts, but knew that it was important to see her friend at this moment. ‘Oh thank you God. I couldn’t have done it without you.’

* * * * * * * * * *

Jason Bardley had arrived at the apartment of his daughter-in-law some time before. He was now standing silently, watching over the park below from the large picture window in the lounge. He had not wanted to disturb Catherine, but would have sorely loved to see Lisa to convince himself that it was not a dream, and he would suddenly wake to find the nightmare situation the reality.

“Mr. Bardley, would you like a coffee?” Rita Tuscany asked the silently brooding man at the window. She had worked for him only a short time, but found him gracious, charming, and a joy to work with, especially after the months of problems working for Constance Waverly.

Jason heard the voice of his PA, turning to give the young woman a faint smile and nod of his head. “Thanks Rita. When is the doctor due?”

Rita glanced at her wristwatch, raising her eyebrows. They had called him some forty-five minutes ago. It could only be the traffic delaying the man she had to assume. You certainly didn’t keep Ms. Devonshire waiting. “Anytime now I suspect. Should I call him again to find out where he is?”

Jason shook his grey hair peppered head, walking over to look down the corridor to the closed bedroom door. “You know Rita, in all the years of my life, this has been the most difficult I have had to live through. Never ever, do I want to go through this again. How can these monsters call themselves human beings if they abduct our innocent children?”

Rita looked down at the carpet that adorned the floor of the room. She felt the welling up of tears at his comment. He was so right. What was even more appalling was, the person who had committed the crime was a well-respected citizen, seemingly above suspicion. “It makes you wonder who you can trust in this life, doesn’t it?”

Jason looked up sharply at the words as he heard the bitterness in her tone. “Rita, there are evil people in every walk of life. The majority are good clean living people, just like you and I. Sometimes in life, we have to trust our judgement and cross our fingers a little.”

“Mr. Bardley, will Lisa be okay, do you think?” Rita asked in concern.

“What do you mean exactly Rita?” Jason stepped closer to the younger woman. Had Lisa been hurt in any way?

Rita shuffled at her spot close to the door, sighing heavily.

“She’s at that age when all impressions are taken in and…and well, it isn’t the easiest of experiences to forget, is it?”

Jason considered the truth of the statement. In reality, can you ever forget such an experience? “I think it will be hard, but she has two wonderful parents who I know will be willing to move heaven and earth to help her forget. Not to mention, the rest of the family too. That little girl is a spunky kid who will make it. She will put the rest of us to shame. Count on it Rita.”

“Hope so.” Rita said softly as she went to ask Stephanie about coffee.

Jason looked down the corridor making a decision. He would call Alison at Destiny and inform her and the rest of the family of the good news. He walked quickly towards the study to make the call. As he entered the study, he heard the doorbell. The doctor had arrived at last!

Continued in Part 12


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