Chapter Eight-The Aftermath


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Chapter Eight-The Aftermath

  1. 1. “In my dreams I've always seen you soar above the sky, In my heart there'll always be a place for you, For all my life, I'll keep a part of you with me, And everywhere I am there you'll be…” There you’ll be – Faith Hill
  2. 2. Part One: Present Day (The day of the explosion)10:40 am “Good! So it’s all done? What about David? Are you absolutely sure he won’t talk? Okay then; the money will be wired to your account in the next hour or so! I’ll contact you in a few days. In the mean time keep a low profile!” She rattled off on her cell phone. Yes! She was ecstatic. The first stage of her plan was over and it’s gone way better than she’d hoped. What she wouldn’t give to see Victoria drowning in grief now! Yes, technically she and Victoria were even now but SHE was only getting started! How fun!
  3. 3. Little Creek- Victoria’s hideout For a long time after the police officers from Little Creek’s only police station left, Victoria sat immobile on the sofa. The warmth radiating from the fireplace couldn’t thaw her frozen heart. She felt cold and numb inside. Her first thought was to just kill herself and die along with everything that was important to her.
  4. 4. How did she stay sane in the wake of such a tragedy? First she lost her baby and almost died at the hands of Julian and then things between her and...She couldn’t even bring herself to say his name. ..It hurt too much...Then things between her and Storm went horribly wrong and this! Was she being tested? How much more heartache could she take? How many times must her heart shatter into a million little pieces before she could find peace?
  5. 5. 11:00 am She didn’t know how she got to her studio upstairs, or how she came to hold the photograph in her hand. She looked at the snapshot, a symbol of a happy time in her past, when things were so simple, so uncomplicated. She wished with all her heart things could be back to how they were just a few months ago. How could she lose so much in such a short space of time?
  6. 6. 11:10 am Feeling as though her spirit was dislocated from her body, she wandered the empty rooms of her home, trying to focus on something and make sense of her life. For a long time, she stood staring at her reflection but not really seeing herself. She didn’t recognize the face staring back at her on the bathroom mirror.
  7. 7. Without thinking, she grabbed the Elizabeth Arden face wash on the bathroom counter and slowly washed her face. She wished she could scrub away the memories of the past few months just as easily as she was washing the tears from her face. The sound of her ringing cell phone startled her out of the trance she was in. It took her a while before her mouth could form the words and answer the phone.
  8. 8. 11:14 am “Hello?” She whispered, expecting to hear her tormenter’s voice but immediately her whole body relaxed as she heard the voice on the other end of the phone. “Toria? It’s Kendra. We’re on our way. I’m so sorry! I’m truly, truly sorry. The was on the news...” Kendra cried helplessly on the phone, unable to finish her sentence and hearing her cry iced Victoria’s heart even more, a seemingly impossible feat. “Please hurry. I need you!” Victoria said, her voice breaking slightly as a fresh wave of tears clouded her eyes; she blinked them away, willing herself not to cry. She had to be strong. She had work to do!
  9. 9. 12:00 pm Feeling a little calmer now, she sat on her kitchen stool and thought about her last conversation with Storm. It was on this very same spot she’d sat and listened to his voice through her answering machine. She realized now how petty they’d both been and how pointless their fight was now. After all is said and done, they’d both acted irrationally and drove each other away, when they should have trusted each other and their love. If she could do everything over with Storm she would, but this day had sealed their fate. She waited patiently for Kendra, sipping on her now cold Chamomile tea...Kendra would know what to do and where to start with the funeral plans.
  10. 10. 12:45 pm “Is this her?” Special Agent Ron Richardson asked, staring at the drawing from Jason, BAU’s sketch artist. “That’s what Jason could come up with from the description the kid gave. This is the woman who hired him to create the bomb used in the explosion in Belladonna Cove. She’s a red haired with dark widely spaced, grey eyes, very pretty and exotic looking. She was with a guy they day they approached him and he doesn’t remember the guy very well.
  11. 11. They approached him at the SI University Way shops and somehow they knew he’s majoring in Chemistry. Apparently they asked him a lot of questions about starting and containing fires; which he answered candidly because he didn’t really think it was a crime, but then when she approached him a week later to make bomb he was worried but couldn’t really refuse because he needed the money for his fees...” Melissa Swanson answered, feeling sick to her stomach. Her heart broke for Victoria Mendez; she didn’t know her well, but she knew she meant a lot to Storm and well Storm was like family to everyone at BAU.
  12. 12. “That’s a load of horse crap! A lot of people are dead because of the information he gave and the bomb he created. Try telling the families of the victims that the person who helped kill their loved ones was just trying to pay his school fees! Try telling that to Victoria Mendez!” Ron barked angrily. He knew the press was having a field day with this story, especially now that the link between the fires in the past few weeks and the explosion that morning was confirmed.
  13. 13. Melissa knew they had to issue a statement to the media before this turned into a circus like the Victoria and Julian mess. She felt absolutely devastated for Victoria but she was glad Little Creek’s police department broke the news to her; rather them than the BAU!
  14. 14. Part Two: Statham Island-Jade McNamara’s home (14:45 pm) Jade knew something was wrong as soon as she heard the sound of the helicopter circling her neighbourhood. She took a short nap which somehow turned to a full afternoon’s sleep. Not that she was complaining, after all she had an amazing dream about Storm. Pity she was leaving Statham Island that evening and they never got to do the dirty; so many wasted opportunities and only because he was still hung up on Victoria.
  15. 15. 14:47 pm She softly padded to the kitchen to get a glass of water. A look of horror crossed her face as she glanced outside her kitchen window and saw three or so dark SUVs parked outside her house. She knew right there and then why the helicopter was circling the neighbourhood. Warning bells sounded in her head as she tried to force herself to stay calm.
  16. 16. Little Creek-Victoria’s hideout 14:51 pm As soon as they reached the Mendez’ vacation home in Little Creek, Kendra jumped out of the car and bounded up the front steps. Normally the trip from Statham Island to little Creek took six hours but today the journey took them a little over three hours and Dean didn’t want to think about the speeding tickets he’d be getting in the post soon. He stayed behind, composing himself. Where did he start to comfort her? What did he say? All the words he wanted to say seemed so insignificant. He knew though that their presence meant a lot to her.
  17. 17. “Toria, I’m so sorry for your loss!” Kendra whispered softly as she rushed inside the house and gave Victoria a warm hug. Her heart went out to her best friend as she felt Victoria’s whole body shake with unshed tears. “I’m so glad you are here!” Victoria cried helplessly. “I didn’t know what to do, or where to start with the funeral ... I knew you’d know what to do! You always know what to do!” She rambled on incoherently. “’s okay. I’m here now. We’ll get through this...Me, you and Dean. We are here for you! Scream and cry if you need to; break down if you have to, we’ll be right here!” Kendra consoled her.
  18. 18. “I’m so afraid...I’m so scared...he said...he said he’ll take away everything I love...” Victoria wailed, now talking about the malicious caller. Kendra didn’t understand what her best friend was talking about, she just assumed she was distraught with grief and to calm her down she gave her some valium to sleep, “Don’t worry about anything Toria. I’m here now. Take these, they’ll help you sleep and when you wake up Dean and I will still be here.”
  19. 19. Statham Island-Jade McNamara’s home 14:55 pm “Be careful. She’s dangerous but we want her alive!” Melissa said on her end of the line. “I know. Lynn, Pete and Marcelle are in position and ready to move in. The SWAT team is on standby and we’ll be out of here in no time.” Ron assured her, trying to believe his own words but also thinking about the last time he said something similar; Victoria ended up fighting for her life in ICU and lost her baby and Julian killed himself!
  20. 20. What a great track record he had! Ron wondered again why he did what he did. Maybe it was time for him to pack it all in and leave the BAU. So many people were dead and for what? Revenge? The four arson victims were just trial runs; innocent people used as a diversion from the real thing: the explosion that morning.
  21. 21. Special Agent Pete and Special Agent Lynn Lane couldn’t believe the sight that greeted them when they broke down Jade’s front door. She stood immobile, staring outside her kitchen window, unmoved by the commotion in and outside her house. For a little while the two BAU agents didn’t know what to do. They came in armed, expecting gunfire and explosions and that’s what they’d prepared themselves for. But this, this picture of perfect detachment destabilized them completely.
  22. 22. Slowly, as if she had all the time in the world, Jade turned away from the window and settled her gaze on Special Agent Pete Charlton, completely ignoring Special Agent Lynn Lane. “Jade McNamara you are under arrest for the murders of....” Special Agent Pete Charlton recited her rights for her, but he was just wasting his breath because all Jade cared about was Victoria.
  23. 23. “Did she cry? Did she break down and cry when she heard the explosion? I wasn’t there you know, when the car exploded. But my friend tells me it was awesome; like fireworks...he said it’s like New Year’s Eve! Did she imagine the bits and pieces of human flesh flying in the air? Did she cry? Does she hurt?” Jade asked over and over again as Special Agent Charlton cuffed her and Special Agent Lynn Lane led her to the waiting SUV outside.
  24. 24. Part Three Little Creek-Victoria’s hideout He wanted to rush to Victoria’s side as soon as Ron broke the news to him. And he was on his way out when Ron showed him the sketch which looked suspiciously like Jade and it hadn’t taken them long to confirm it was her; before he knew it, he was caught up in the case...But he was here now. He remembered when Emma died how he wanted to be left alone and he was sure that’s exactly how Victoria felt. But he also knew they couldn’t allow her to grieve on her own or push away the people who cared about her.
  25. 25. “What the hell took you so long? For someone who claims to love Victoria you have a funny way of showing it!” Dean yelled at Storm as he met him outside. “I got tied up at work. I know I should have been here...” Storm tried to explain but Dean cut him off. “You damn straight you should have been here!” “How is she?” Storm asked, looking up at the house. Dean ignored his question and headed for the house.
  26. 26. She looked vulnerable and fragile as she slept and he wanted to protect her. He wanted to wake her up and hold her and tell everything will be okay. She moaned sadly in her sleep and it broke his heart to see her like that. In that moment, watching over her, he made a promise: he’d never leave her alone again. If anything could be learnt from this tragedy was that life shouldn’t be taken for granted and time lost couldn’t be recovered, which is why he and Victoria shouldn’t waste any more time circling each other and playing mind games.
  27. 27. “I knew there was something dodgy about that woman! I knew it. She was too sweet, too keen to on you and Victoria. And to think you slept with her! My God, how do you sleep at night?” Kendra asked harshly in hushed tones, unable to conceal her repulsion. They were talking about Jade and her role in Victoria’s parents’ death.
  28. 28. “Where the hell do you get off suggesting I slept with her and I’m responsible for this? How dare you!” Storm raged. He understood Kendra’s anger at him for hurting Victoria, but he felt she was out of line for speculating about his love life.
  29. 29. “Come on, Storm. We all know your reputation! Do you really expect us to believe you guys were just friends! I’m just saying invited all this evil to Victoria’s life and look at the mess!” Kendra fired back. “That’s enough both of you!” Dean yelled. “We are all on Victoria’s side! Quit treating each other like enemies!” He would have carried on, but Victoria’s voice stunned all three of them.
  30. 30. “Storm? What are you doing here?” Victoria asked as she softly padded into the lounge. Her head felt heavy and foggy and she thought she was hallucinating. Pulled by an invisible thread, Victoria and Storm gravitated towards each other.
  31. 31. Without thinking Victoria threw herself in Storm’s arms and let the unshed tears she’d been holding back the whole day wash over her. He held her and let her cry; feeling her body shake with grief and this awakened anger in him so strong he was sure he’ll kill Jade McNamara with his bare hands when he saw her again.
  32. 32. He didn’t say anything because he didn’t have to and she knew he understood completely what she was growing through. That’s how their relationship had always been; they always knew what the other thought and felt and sometimes words were not needed because they were in tune with each other. But in the end she needed to hear him say he loved her and he wouldn’t; and that’s what drove them apart. He said it now, when he knew it would count the most, “I love you...I love you so much! You are unforgettable and amazing. I can’t get over you. I don’t want to get over you!”
  33. 33. “Toria, you haven’t touched your food. You need to eat so you can regain your strength,” Kendra said gently. “I’m not hungry!’ Victoria answered. She was aware of three pairs of eyes on her. She hated being under their microscope likes this. She knew they all cared about her, but she wished they could all stop treating her like an invalid. “But you h....” Kendra started to say but she stopped at Victoria’s outburst.
  34. 34. “Would you be hungry if you heard your parents get blown to pieces? Would you have the appetite to eat or the stomach to hold down food?” Victoria screamed and immediately regretted her words. She flung her face in her hands, forcing herself not to break down and cry and make a spectacle of herself again, before rushing out of her chair. Dean and Kendra turned to Storm expectantly; reading their eyes he went after her.
  35. 35. He found her lying on her bed. He pulled her gently in his arms and lay down with her. Slowly, wordlessly, he comforted her. He wanted her with a force he’d never felt for anyone before, not even for Emma. It took a lot of self control, on his part, not to make love to her. Instead, he gave her something more meaningful than sex in her time of grief: he gave her intimacy. He held her and made her feel safe. In that shared moment of intimacy, separately they acknowledged that what they felt for each other was undeniable and only time would guide them forward.
  36. 36. It was dawn when Victoria finally woke up and Storm was gone. She was too numb to feel disappointed and besides she understood he had an obligation to his job and he was working on her parents’ case together with Belladonna Cove’s police department and the rest of SI’s BAU. After yesterday, the day her parents were killed she was devoid of all emotion. She felt as though she’d died right along with her parents and nothing mattered.
  37. 37. Part Two: Present Day (Belladonna Cove- Community Chapel - Victoria’s parents’ memorial service) She felt his presence long before she saw him. There was a sudden lull in the room but the energy between them buzzed so loudly in her ears; it was so tangible she could almost touch it. She had a sensation of timelessness; the rest of the mourners faded away like a foggy morning’s mist and only she and Storm existed. It was almost as if all her life, she’d existed only for this moment: to feel so alive in Storm’s presence. Without wanting to, she turned around on her seat and looked towards the chapel’s door. He cut a fine figure in his dark suit and for a second, she longed to reach out and smooth his tousled dark hair out of his blue eyes. Their eyes met and held for what seemed to be eternity. Storm didn’t want to believe the look he read in her was a look filled with love and yet with a hint of resignation and sadness. He knew she’s probably upset with him for leaving without saying goodbye three days earlier. He hadn’t wanted to leave her but Melissa had called insisting he get back to Statham Island.
  38. 38. “What the hell took you so long?” Dean whispered through gritted teeth echoing his words three days earlier. Both Chace brothers felt a touch of de ja vu. “I’m here aren’t I?” Storm retorted. The past three days were the longest and most gruelling days of his life. Jade McNamara was refusing to talk to anyone of them insisting on a “tell all” interview with Victoria. They’d bargained and offered her a deal but she refused, insisting on talking only to Victoria. They couldn’t understand her obsession with Victoria.
  39. 39. Victoria was moved by the heartfelt condolences from everyone who’d showed up for her parents’ memorial service. St. Claire’s chapel was filled to capacity and it meant a lot to Victoria to know her parents were loved and respected by almost everyone in the small community of Belladonna Cove. “’s time to give your eulogy,” Kendra murmured gently, dragging Victoria out of her daze. Her stomach twisted and turned as she took her place on the podium. She stood looking at the sea of faces, trying hard not to break down and cry.
  40. 40. “I...I didn’t prepare a eulogy for my parents. But there’s a passage from the Bible I’d like to read. This passage sums up who my parents were, their values and what they’ve taught me....” Victoria said, her voice breaking slightly. “It’s from Corinthians 1:13. Love is kind; it does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
  41. 41. Everyone in the room was moved to tears. Storm hated seeing Victoria in so much pain and if he could miraculously wipe her pain away he would. He would gladly change places with her just so she wouldn’t have to go through this. He was very angry with Jade, for coming into his life and duping him so... Ironically he remembered a bible verse, where Jesus warns his disciples to "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.” That’s exactly what Jade was: a wolf in sheep’s clothing! He tried hard to remember which book the verse was from. Was it Matthew? Corinthians? He just couldn’t remember! He was mortified when he couldn’t recall when last he was in Church or opened his Bible...after Emma...well, he stopped believing.
  42. 42. Ron Richardson couldn’t understand how bad things kept happening to such a sweet person. He prayed for the six innocent lives lost at the hands of that mad woman Jade McNamara. In Victoria’s grief, he made a decision- he was taking a sabbatical. Maybe he’d return to the BAU…maybe not, but all he knew was that he was disillusioned with law enforcement and man in general; the pressure of his job had finally gotten to him. He had no doubt in his mind that Storm would make a great leader. He just wondered how, for someone who’s so intuitive and in tune with the human psyche Storm couldn’t get a handle on his personal life! Victoria’s now bolder voice startled him out of his reverie; he turned back to her and paid attention to the rest of her tribute to her parents.
  43. 43. “This passage was the foundation of my parents’ marriage. Yes, they did go through rough patches, but what union doesn’t? My parents taught me that love is the most important thing one has and should carry with always. With love we are able to trust each other, we are able to be compassionate and empathetic but most of all, we are able to forgive past transgressions and move forward. So on this day, seeing all of you here for my parents, I realize how loved they were and I know your love for my parents will get me through this.
  44. 44. Our love for Laurien and Alejandro will get me through the next hour, the next two days and hopefully the next few months. And I’d like each and every one of us to honor my parents’ memory by living love-filled lives.” She tried so hard not to cry, but in the end she just broke down and sobbed loudly. “And now I’d like to leave you with a poem my parents wanted to be read at their memorial service when the time came and sadly that time is now. It’s called Do not Stand at My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye.” Victoria whispered, her voice barely audible now and unable to meet everyone’s eyes because she knew their heartfelt compassion would just undo her all over again.
  45. 45. “Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you wake in the morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft starlight at night. Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep. (Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there, I did not die!)”
  46. 46. As soon as she finished the last line of the poem and thanked everyone for coming to the memorial service, Kendra rushed up to her and gave her a big hug. “I’m so proud of you Toria. You were so brave, so strong and your parents would have been so proud of you. That was such a beautiful tribute to your parents and I’m sure their smiling down at you from heaven,” Kendra told her empathetically, meaning every word she said. She knew she wouldn’t have been able to stay so strong and focused with so much going on. Victoria was truly an Unforgettable person. “Thank you. I needed to hear that. And I couldn’t have done it without you!” Victoria whispered. She excused herself. She needed to be alone with her thoughts and process everything
  47. 47. “I thought I’d find you here,” Storm said as he approached her. “I just needed to be alone...I know everyone means well, but I just need to be by myself,” she explained. She glanced up at him, bewildered a little at his touch. She still couldn’t understand how her body came alive on its own like this whenever she was close to him. “You did great! Your parents would be proud of you,” he told her, echoing Kendra’s word earlier. “Why does everyone keep assuming they know what my parents would have felt?” she asked unexpectedly.
  48. 48. “I’m sorry...I...” he tried to say, but she cut him off with her hand. “I love you! Let’s start over. Let’s leave Statham Island. We’ll start a new life. We’ll get married. I don’t ever want to be away from you again!” Storm whispered urgently, pulling her close in his arms. “I know you are angry with me and I’m sorry. But I had to go back. They needed me at work!” He continued self conscious now at her cool reception of his undying love her.
  49. 49. “I’m not angry Storm. I’m just exhausted. I need to be alone and figure things out. I love you so very much and it would be so easy to let you take care of me. But I can’t allow that. I need to learn to be on my own for a while; find out who I am and what I’m capable of. All my life, people have been taking care of me and I can’t allow that anymore. I need to take care of me!” Victoria cried helplessly. “I understand and I don’t want to push you into anything. Take your time; I’ll be here waiting for you whenever you are ready!” Storm told her gently, kissing her softly on the lips. They held on to each other, one wanting more and the other unable to be more because she was broken into so many different pieces it was hard to piece herself together again.
  50. 50. They drove around Belladonna Cove for hours, talking about everything, her parents, her art gallery, Little Creek. Storm even talked about Emma and how he’d grieved for her. It was sad that it took her parents’ dying for them to allow themselves to be vulnerable to each other and talk openly. Eventually the subject got around to Jade and her request to meet with Victoria. “I’ll do it!” Victoria told him, staring at his blue eyes and challenging him.
  51. 51. “No...I don’t want to put you through that. We’ll figure out a way to get a confession out of her.” Storm insisted. He wouldn’t throw Victoria in the wolf’s den and Jade was just that, a vicious, vindictive wolf in sheep’s clothing. “Storm, I need to know. I need to know why she did it. Why she chose my parents and why she hates me so much. It might just give me closure. I have to talk to her. I want to talk to her!” Victoria told him stubbornly.
  52. 52. Change sneaks up on us. Sometimes it’s welcome because it’s what we need to grow and move forward. But sometimes, it shatters ours worlds, splinters us into tiny little fragments of broken images and it’s in such moments of change that we resist it, fight it and sometimes flee from it only to realize, after running full circle, that we are back to where we started and maybe, after all, change is just what we need. Victoria was in transition; the old Victoria would have run away at the first chance of confronting her parents’ killer; she wouldn’t have been strong enough to handle it but the new her was more than ready for the confrontation. She needed to prove to herself that she’s strong and capable of handling any adversity without a man or someone rescuing her. Getting through her parents’ memorial service was the first step and confronting Jade was the next. She needed to be self sufficient and self reliant and maybe when she was all those things she could let other people in her life...other people like Storm.
  53. 53. She loved him with all her heart and he loved her too, but she had work to do, on herself and on her own. She would be of no use to Storm unless she was healed. Her healing started with learning to be on her own and comfortable in her own company. All her life she’d formed attachments...first with her parents, then clinging on to Kendra from kindergarten right through to college, then she attached herself to Piper by going into business with her and then Storm came along. She’d never allowed herself to enjoy her own company and be on her own. She didn’t know who she was, because she’s always been an extension of someone Kendra’s best friend, Piper’s business partner and Storm’s...Storm’s what? Suddenly she remembered E. Kubler-Ross’ words, “Death is the great clarifier; it shows us what is important.” Yes, sometime change, sneaks up on us but she could see it clearly now as it approached her. She was just sad that it took her parents’ death for her to realize change was needed…She had work to do and it began with Jade.