Chapter Eighteen


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Chapter Eighteen

  1. 1. I tried to kill the pain, but only brought more. (So much more). I'm dying, and I'm pouring, crimson regret, and betrayal- Tourniquet by Evanescence
  2. 2. Sunday- the day after Victoria & Storm tied the knot… Little Creek-Mendez’ vacation home…. “Nooooooooooooooooooo!” Jade McNamara let out an animal like howl when she saw the headlines in the society page of The Observer and quickly scanned the article. She first felt it at the pit of her gut, a sudden heat, which slowly spread to every part of her being. At first she did not understand what it was. She thought she was going to be sick, or even worse, going to die. She gripped the ends of the kitchen counter tightly and watched her shaking hands…and suddenly she knew what it was, this violent heat that gripped her heart! Rage! Pure and simple rage! Undisguised rage! Hateful rage!
  3. 3. ‘Statham Island’s most eligible widower finally weds- Special Agent Storm Chace and Euphoria art gallery owner, Victoria Mendez, tied the knot yesterday afternoon in what was described by wedding guests as a fairytale wedding aboard SS Maelstrum, a luxury yacht, in Sandy Bay Marina. The troubled couple, decked by controversy and drama since the tragic kidnapping of Ms. Mendez earlier this year are said to be expecting their first child due this spring…” The rest of the article tracked Victoria and Storm’s love affair, the tragic end to Julian Scott and Jade’s Houdini trick when she escaped from Statham Island’s federal prison.
  4. 4. “Noooooooooooooooooo!” She let out another howl as she flung the newspaper across the room. Thoughts of her freedom and letting the past go were clearly forgotten. It was not fair. Here she was hiding, on the run and trying to get her freedom back while Victoria lived the perfect life, married to the perfect man, and in a few months, she would have the perfect baby. Perfect, perfect, perfect!
  5. 5. Howick Hills Tuesday “I must be the happiest woman in the whole world,” Victoria sighed. They stood in the open plan living room, gazing out into the river behind the Chace’s vacation home as the sun set. They were in Howick Hills for their honeymoon and they had arrived on Sunday, the day after their wedding. Howick Hills held special memories for them; after all it was where their relationship had taken a turn for the better.
  6. 6. Both had not even thought of venturing out into the world. They just wanted to be in each other’s arms, wrapped in the cocoon of their love and happiness. “Then I must be the happiest man alive,” Storm smiled at her and gently kissed her soft lips. “I love you Mrs. Chace!”
  7. 7. Little Creek-Mendez’ vacation home…. Wednesday Three days after her employer tied the knot in what the wedding guests described as a fairy tale wedding, the day, for Angela Davis, began and continued like any other day-a day full of chores and running errands for the rich. First she had had to clean Mrs. Chester’s house on Lake Street, then she had to walk Mr. Joseph’s dogs, run errands for the elderly couple on Smith Street and then end off her day by checking on the Mendez’s vacation home. Now, as she sat in her van and peered up at the house, she was glad her day of chores and errands was almost over.
  8. 8. She was a maid and a house sitter by profession. She had worked for the Mendez’s as their house sitter for over eight years now. Not that she had much to do really; she just had to check if all was in order with the house, sweep here and to dust there. It was easy money for an easy job she only did once a month. When Laurien and Alejandro died in a little over four months ago Angela was sure her services would no longer be required, but Victoria had not had the heart to fire her and so her job was secure...for now at least.
  9. 9. From the window facing the street in the bedroom downstairs, Jade watched the cleaning van pull to a stop in front of the house while her heart thudded out of control. She had been in Little Creek for just over two weeks now and in all that time there had never been any unexpected guests until today. In fact, Jade had done a very good job of staying out of sight. And now…now nosy, Scooby-Doo had come to play!
  10. 10. She felt the same rage she had felt two days earlier when she had read about Victoria’s happy ending boil inside her. Her mind spun in a hundred directions as she wondered what to do next. The key, missing from its hiding place would be the first giveaway, then the mess in the kitchen. She had to do something… fast.
  11. 11. Angela reached underneath the welcome mat for the key. Her eyes widened in shock when her hand felt nothing. That’s weird, she thought. She clearly remembered leaving the key under the mat the month before. She did not know what made her do it, but she turned the door handle and it creaked open.
  12. 12. “I don’t believe this!” She moaned crossly, annoyed at the messy kitchen that greeted her. There was a rotten stench in the house, garbage and newspapers were strewn all over the floor, piles of dirty dishes in the sink and pizza boxes and milk cartons were on the kitchen counters.
  13. 13. “Couldn’t she clean up after herself?” she cried to the empty room. Suddenly, she was pissed off. She had not signed up for this! She had a sudden urge to call Mrs. Chace and give her a piece of her mind!
  14. 14. She heard light footsteps come up behind her and her eyes widened in shock for the second time that day and she blurted out, “You…it’s you! What are you doing here?” Angela screamed as fear and panic gripped her heart. She knew who the mad woman was. She watched the news and she also read the papers!
  15. 15. Without a word, Jade approached the maid stealthily like a predator on the prowl. “No...Please, let me go…I’m sorry! I won’t tell anyone,” Angela begged in a small, whimpering voice, trying to edge away from the menacing look in the other woman’s eyes.
  16. 16. “I know you won’t,” Jade sighed and aimed the gun at Angela’s stomach, not put off by the maid’s bloodcurdling screams.
  17. 17. Jade woke up to the horrible smell of blood and decay. She whimpered almost immediately when her eyes met what she could only describe as a scene from the movie SAW. There were smudged blood stains on the floor from when the maid had tried to get away after Jade shot her. She stifled a scream when she saw the instrument of all this horror not too far from her. She felt her stomach heave out of control as she saw the dead woman. A horrified voice somewhere in the dark abyss of her mind cried “No!” over and over again.
  18. 18. Dazedly, she scrambled to her feet and ran out of the cabin into the cleaning van in the driveway. She honestly could not remember how this horror came to be. She remembered watching the cleaning van from the upstairs window and coming downstairs, but everything after that was a blank, and it scared her terribly. She did not even know how long the attack had lasted but from the clock on the car’s stereo it was just after 4pm.
  19. 19. The key was still in the ignition and the maid’s handbag was in the backseat. She shifted the car into gear and gave the cabin one final glance and she never looked back….
  20. 20. Somewhere in Howick Hills Victoria and Storm spent four idealistic days in Howick Hills sightseeing and acting like typical tourists before real life came crashing in, dragging all its drama and horror with it. Storm was not new to Howick Hills, but he participated in all things tourist for Victoria’s benefit. They went on tours, sampled the local cuisine, spent a day at the spa, learned to slap dance and Victoria even learned the local greeting. It was the best four days they had ever had in a very long time. Their relationship was great, their baby was growing and Victoria was starting to show.
  21. 21. Throughout their bliss though, there was always a niggling thought, somewhere at the back of Storm’s mind. He knew, from the daily updates he got from Pete and Melissa that Pleasantview was acting up and sooner or later he would have to make a decision. But now, as he gazed at his wife splashing in the river behind their cabin, decisions would have to wait!
  22. 22. “Hey…aren’t you coming in?” She called out to him, raising her sweet voice above the light wind. He was about to answer her when his cell phone rang. As always he was torn between answering the incessant ringing and paying attention to his wife. “Pete talk to me,” his work won this time as he grumpily answered the phone.
  23. 23. “There was a homicide in Little Creek,” Pete rasped urgently on his end of the line. He heard his boss’ sharp intake of breath as his words sunk in. “And . . . ?” Storm gritted out the word. He wished with all his heart that his suspicions were wrong. “The crime scene…it’s…your wife’s vacation home!” Pete delivered the startling revelations with little emotion in his voice, “the DNA and prints found at the scene match Jade’s. The victim is a Ms. Angela Davis and she was the Mendez’s house sitter for the past few years.”
  24. 24. “I’ll let Victoria know,” he mumbled, his blue gaze still fixed on his wife, who was now getting out of the water and coming up to meet him. “Storm, you need to come home!” Pete sighed. He really hated being the party pooper. “I know…” he agreed just before he disconnected the line. Real life had finally paid him a visit, and it was at that exact moment he saw the unraveling begin.
  25. 25. All this time they had searched for Jade she had been in Little Creek; and the BAU and the SI PD had never thought of checking there. If he ever had any doubt about Jade’s cunning ways it was gone now, and for the first time since his team had proposed the drastic plan of action, he was forced to admit that they were right. He would never sleep peacefully at night until Jade was caught or dead, and the latter suited him just fine! It took him a long time to tell Victoria about Little Creek and surprisingly she took it well…almost too well!
  26. 26. Part Two Statham Island- BAU’s offices Monday “Pleasantview wants an update on the McNamara case. I know things have been hectic with the wedding and everything else going on in Little Creek, but they need an answer ASAP. They are threatening to intervene should we not come up with a satisfactory resolution,” Melissa Swanson murmured as she walked into Storm’s office exactly nine days after Victoria and Storm tied the knot. The BAU’s headquarters and controlling powers were based in Pleasantview.
  27. 27. It was Storm’s first day back at work officially and his office was the last place he wanted to be. He wished he was still back at his vacation home in Howick Hills, snuggled up against Victoria and wrapped around in the feeling of euphoria he always felt when he was with her.
  28. 28. Intervention from the controlling powers would spell trouble for him. He would have known this, too, if he had been around the office a lot more, but lately, he was wrapped up in his love bubble with Victoria and dreaming of happily ever after. While his life was all rosy and sweet, the rest of the world was not. Pleasantview would not handle him with the kid gloves his own team used on him when there was a dangerous woman on the loose. They would be swift, brutal, and demanding. His team, judging from his feelings and the way he had been handling himself lately, was afraid that if it got down to it, he would choose Victoria over his job and that was not good.
  29. 29. “I don’t see why this is still our problem. Jade escaped from a federal prison and Little Creek is outside our jurisdiction,” Storm retorted acidly. “Well Storm, the BAU, specifically you, hold the key to bringing Jade in,” Melissa pointed out.
  30. 30. “I will not use Victoria as bait,” Storm roared through gritted teeth, sticking to his guns. Ever since Jade’s escape, he had been getting pressure from everyone, including his team. He knew they all meant well and the plan might just work to his advantage if it was successful. But that was a big IF and he would not take that risk! He was finally at a good place with Victoria, and they had a baby on the way. Leaving her, even if it was for a short time, was not an option!
  31. 31. They all knew Victoria’s safety was his weakness and they kept using it as an excuse for wanting to lure Jade out into the open where all the big guns would take their shot at her. His team argued that he could never guarantee Victoria’s safety when Jade was still out there. He hated admitting it, but they were right. The pressure from Pleasantview right now was still the friendly kind of pressure. He knew if Jade was not found soon things would get really ugly really quickly, but he swore he would keep his wife out of it.
  32. 32. “They need an answer anyway…whatever your decision is! We have a conference call with Pleasantview at 2:00pm. We’ll all meet at 1:00pm to discuss strategy and how we can hold them off for now,” Melissa informed him, turning to leave the room.
  33. 33. Statham Island’s BAU team was sitting through a heated session in one of the boardrooms and going over their plan to get Jade out of hiding. For days now, they had been deadlocked on the course of action to take and it had come to voting time. Storm was outnumbered. He was the only one against the plan because he, more than everyone in the room, had everything to lose if their plan went wrong. He sat slumped in his chair, feeling defeated.
  34. 34. “Storm, think about this carefully. This could very well put an end to the fear and worry over Jade,” Ron tried, yet again, to convince his friend to get on board. He was called in by the team at the last minute in the hope that he would talk some sense into Storm. They all knew he was the only one he would listen to. But clearly things had changed drastically since Ron left the BAU because no one, not even he, could talk any sense into Storm where Victoria was concerned and his lack of objectivity made everyone around him very nervous!
  35. 35. His team was obviously worried about the community’s safety, but they also knew the huge boosts their careers would get if and when they caught Jade. Storm felt sick to his stomach when he thought about his team’s success at the expense of his relationship with Victoria.
  36. 36. What sickened him the most was the knowledge that had it been any other person, any other woman in the world, he would not hesitate to approve the plan, because when all was said and done, it made sense and it was guaranteed to work. All this time he had been so hell bent on protecting Victoria when what he should have done from the start was to leave her open and vulnerable so that Jade would get sloppy and come after her. But this was not just any woman!
  37. 37. “There’s no other way? There must be another way! We just got married. I can’t do this to her. I will not!” Storm raged. He could not believe it was happening. He had known, throughout his career, that sooner or later the time would come when his job would demand a personal sacrifice from him, and it looked like that time was now. He could not believe what his team was asking of him. He would not. He refused.
  38. 38. “It will work. You know it will!” Pete insisted with what he hoped was a comforting smile, while going over the plan in his mind for any loopholes they might have overlooked.
  39. 39. “Storm…the higher ups are insisting on a speedy resolution on the McNamara case. I can’t hold them off any longer,” Melissa let out a frustrated sigh. “We could keep searching for Jade, but you know that with each passing day, chances of us finding her dramatically decrease,” Lynn piped in, her grey eyes darting about the room wildly. She understood Storm’s reluctance all too well. He had fought so hard to make things right with Victoria and now this mess with Jade. Talk about bad timing.
  40. 40. “I can’t…I won’t. There has to be another way. Keep searching for Jade. SI PD should get off their backsides and start earning their keep,” Storm retorted heatedly. There was no way he would put Victoria through another roller coaster, not when things were so perfect between them.
  41. 41. “So that’s it? That’s how you want this to play out? Think about what this could do for your career. Are you willing to take that chance?” Pete asked, unable to keep the feeling of outrage from his voice. He loved Special Agent Lynn Lane, but he was also ambitious, and he knew where his priorities lay. Clearly Storm did not.
  42. 42. “To hell with your damn career Pete!” he growled, his eyes narrowing slightly. A short uncomfortable silence followed his outburst. Emotions were running high; Lynn and Melissa were afraid that Storm and Pete might have a go at each other. “Victoria’s pregnant and I will not put her in harm’s way. Please…as my friends, I’m asking you to hold off on this. Just give me the next few days… hopefully by then we would have found Jade. I know we’ll find her…” Storm pleaded, buying some time. He knew he was digging himself deeper into a hole.
  43. 43. “Just a few days Storm, to think things over…But once Pleasantview decides to intervene, you will have to come on board,” Melissa relented, seeing right through his efforts at buying himself some reprieve.
  44. 44. “Urgghhhh,” Victoria let out a frustrated sigh. Her hands refused to co-operate with the canvass. She was out on the balcony, painting. She still could not get over the breathtaking view of the ocean and sail boats from up here. If she did not give Piper a masterpiece soon, their gallery would be in trouble. But right now, though, it looked like the masterpiece would have to wait; she was a mess over the Jade saga in Little Creek, and she could not focus on anything. Over the past few days since returning from Howick Hills, she found herself thinking about Jade and how she had a way of tainting every bit of her life. But I will not let her taint my life with Storm…not again, Victoria vowed
  45. 45. “Mrs. Chace, this was just dropped off for you,” Edward announced, handing Victoria a pastel colored gift box. “Edward, please, you must call me Victoria,” she smiled up at the butler as she took the package from him, “thank you!”
  46. 46. When she was alone once again she tore into the packaging and her heart sang with joy when she held the cuddliest teddy bear she had ever seen in her hands. Wow, Storm really was excited about the baby if he was buying toys already. She made a mental note to thank him thoroughly when he got home.
  47. 47. “What’s this?” Storm asked, gesturing toward the stuffed teddy on the coffee table, later that afternoon when they were cuddling in the living room and listening to classical music. Victoria had read in one of the pregnancy books that music was great for the baby’s wellbeing! Only time would tell if there was any truth to that! “I was going to thank you for it later. But now you’ve spoiled the surprise!” Victoria replied, a half smile forming on her lips, oblivious to the look of alarm on her husband’s face.
  48. 48. “Did it come with a note?” Storm asked, his voice sounding edgy. “I threw it away…but you know what it said; you sent it!” Victoria mumbled drowsily. Storm’s fingers in her hair were hypnotic and she was almost falling off to sleep. He closed his eyes and counted backwards from hundred, trying to steady his racing heart. “Victoria, tell me what the note said, as much as you can remember,” he asked in a low, shaky voice.
  49. 49. “It said ‘Hope baby likes this!’ or something to that effect,” she answered, her eyes quickly darting to his face. “Why? Storm, what’s going on?” With his eyes still closed and still trying to repress the sudden fury in his heart, he informed her coolly, “This didn’t come from me, Victoria….” and let the rest of his unspoken words hang in the air.
  50. 50. “Jade!” she sighed with a bewildered look in her eyes and all Storm could do was nod.
  51. 51. They were gathered in the main boardroom for an emergency meeting the evening after Victoria received her surprise gift. The tension in the room was so thick one could almost cut it with a knife. From the deep frown on their boss’s face and the forlorn way his shoulders were set, they all knew he had finally caved. “Let’s do it!” were the only words Storm uttered in a low voice, a faraway look in his eyes as he gazed out into the darkness beyond the glass.
  52. 52. “Are we missing something, Storm?” Pete asked, gently rubbing his wrist and trying not to undress Lynn with his eyes. “A few days ago you were dead set against the plan. Did something happen?”
  53. 53. “She made contact with Victoria…sent her a stuffed animal and a cryptic note. You were all right; I can never assure my wife’s safety until Jade’s found!” Storm informed them, still looking into the darkness outside. “Okay…listen up; let’s go over the plan again,” Melissa took over the meeting as they once again went over the plan they had come up with weeks ago. She was sorry to see Storm pushed into a corner like this, but she had known that sooner or later, he would have to give in.
  54. 54. “Okay…listen up; let’s go over the plan again,” Melissa took over the meeting as they once again went over the plan they had come up with weeks ago. She was sorry to see Storm pushed into a corner like this, but she had known that sooner or later, he would have to give in.
  55. 55. “How long will it take to set up everything?” Storm asked as their meeting drew to an end. “It’s all systems go. We were just waiting for the go ahead from you,” Pete replied from his lone position on the couch. “The real question is, how long will you need?” Melissa asked the dreaded question. A long painful silence followed and all his friends could do was to watch him struggle with his inner conflict. “A week,” he finally replied. He hated giving in to his team’s demands but what other choice did he have. He needed them as much as they needed him and he could only hope their primary concern would be Victoria’s safety and not their damn careers!
  56. 56. “It’s beautiful,” Victoria sighed breathlessly as she surveyed the gold emerald necklace Storm had fastened on her neck moments before. “I love it!” “Good,” he murmured, leaning closer to her, “don’t ever take it off!” “Can I at least take it off when I take a bath?” She teased grinning up at him.
  57. 57. Her smile killed him all over again. He had thought he was fine with this, but he was not. The lies, the deception, and finally, what he was sure she would see as betrayal, were too much for him. Again, he debated whether or not to tell her the truth, but his team had drilled it into his head to leave her in the dark as much as possible.
  58. 58. She saw the pained look in his eyes and she wished there was something she could do to make him feel better. She knew it had to do with work, but she did not know a large part of his pain had to do with her too. “Is everything okay?” she asked finally, unable to bear his pain. “Yeah, everything’s perfect,” he lied.
  59. 59. “Whoa!” Victoria exclaimed as she felt their baby kick for the first time. “What’s wrong?” Storm asked with a worried look in his eyes. Wordlessly, she took his hand and placed it gently on her tummy. “Wow…we’ve got a kicker here!” he laughed, thoughts of work and Jade momentarily forgotten. They stayed in that pose for a long time as their baby continued to move. They felt the same awe and wonder they had felt when they had heard their baby’s heartbeat for the first time during their first visit with Dr. Marx. Storm was glad he was here to share this moment with her. It killed him to know just how easily he could have missed it….
  60. 60. Special thanks go to Tina, for once again proof reading this chapter. Without your feedback Tina, I’d truly be lost in this writing business 