Chapter Nine-Letting Go

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  • 1. "It may be over but it won't stop there, I am here for you if you'd only care. You touched my heart you touched my soul. You changed my life and all my goals. And love is blind and that I knew when, my heart was blinded by you. I've kissed your lips and held your head. Shared your dreams and shared your bed. I know you well, I know your smell. I've been addicted to you…” Goodbye My Lover– James Blunt
  • 2. Somewhere in Belladonna Cove- Victoria's parents' memorial service night They drove around Belladonna Cove for a while, talking about everything they could think of. They talked about their relationship and how they'd both messed up. "I'm sorry for pushing you away. I'd take it back if I could. I love you," Storm told her seriously, his blue eyes searching her face for some hint that she was still his. "I'm sorry too. What we did was silly. It was pointless, but Storm..." Victoria answered, trying to make him see things her way. "Then let's start over. Let's get out of Statham Island; we'll go some place new!" Storm begged her, interrupting what he sensed was resistance on her part.
  • 3. "How? We are not the same people we were before. We could never go back to the way things were. Too much has happened and I'm not in a good place right now," she told him firmly. She hated seeing the light in his blue eyes die, but the truth had to be said. "We can be better than what we were! You know we can, you just have to give us another chance!" Storm insisted, not willing to give up on them. Eventually they were exhausted from talking about their future and Storm agreed to give her time, to figure things out while they saw other people. He wondered if that was just her way of telling him she didn't want him anymore but she clarified it for him, "I don't want you to waste your life waiting for something that may never happen! I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow or the next day. Right now, I'm taking one day at a time," she told him gently wishing they didn't have to part.
  • 4. Belladonna Cove - Victoria's hotel room. They didn't want to part from each other and they wished they could prolong the night. Victoria knew things in the morning would look different, but tonight she wanted him. She wanted to be in his arms and make mad passionate love with him; one last time, for old time's sake. So naturally, they drifted back to her hotel room and made love urgently at first then more slowly and gently... "Marry me Victoria. Let's elope and start a new life together, please?" Storm whispered tenderly; echoing his words earlier on. He could see the end approaching and for the first time in his life he was truly scared. Victoria seemed so distant, so far away and he wasn't sure how to reach her.
  • 5. Victoria not knowing what to say let out a small sigh. She closed her eyes for a moment and pictured her future with Storm. Yes, she could see it clearly in her mind’s eye; she could see them getting married in a small intimate ceremony, picture the mansion they'd live in and even picture the daughter they'd have- she'd be dark-haired like Storm and pretty like herself. Their future, in her mind seemed so bright and so perfect and suddenly it was exactly what she wanted. She opened her mouth to say something....But Storm's buzzing cell phone on the bedside table killed off whatever words she was going to utter. And sadly for both of them they'd never know what her answer would have been. Victoria turned on her side, her back facing him.
  • 6. It hit then that this was the kind of life they would have: late night calls from the BAU; nights spent alone because Storm was somewhere out there catching serial killers and pedophiles. She knew he loved his job and he was brilliant at it. She also knew he would give it up for her in a heartbeat; but she could never ask him to make that sacrifice because one day he might end up resenting her. She sighed again as she listened to Storm's end of the phone conversation and she knew then their ending had begun. "Okay- I'm on way. I'll be on the next flight out!" Storm said before hanging up on his cell phone.
  • 7. Somewhere in Belladonna Cove- Hamilton & Hamilton Attorney's offices Three days after the aftermath "Ms. Mendez, I'm so sorry for your loss," Marelyna Hamilton murmured softly as she greeted Victoria. Her heart went out to the young woman, she looked so much like her mom, same blue eyes and red hair as Laurien. Laurien and Alejandro Mendez were decent people who didn't deserve to die the way they did. She'd known them ever since they moved to Belladonna Cove some five or six years ago and she'd handled all their legal affairs since.
  • 8. "Thank you. You wanted see me?" Victoria asked uncertainly as she shook her parents' attorney's hand. "Yes. I'm glad you could make it at such notice...it's about your parents' will..." the attorney replied, gesturing to Victoria to take a seat. The next half hour was spent reading and discussing her parents' will. Victoria being the only child was the sole beneficiary to her parents' estate.
  • 9. "....In addition to the vacation home in Little Creek, their home and confectionary shop in Belladonna Cove each of your parents took out a life cover valued at $1000 000 and they put you as their beneficiary. Ms. Mendez right now you are one of the wealthiest young people in Statham Island and we should come up with a plan for you to grow your money. I can look at solid investments for you that will be sure to triple your worth ... I can give you a name of a reputable banker here in Belladonna Cove..." Marelyna carried on excitedly, as if all that inheritance was hers.
  • 10. Victoria sat immobile and unmoved. Most people would be happy and excited to find out they were worth a couple of million simoleums but she wasn't most people. She was filled with a sadness she didn't know how to shake off. She would gladly give away all this money just to have her parents again. "What am I supposed to do with all this money?" she asked no one in particular. She lived a simple life, had no yearnings and desires for a flashy lifestyle...she couldn't think of any good use for the money until she remembered the news report three days earlier about the flash floods in Strangetown and millions of people were displaced. She could help the survivors in Strangetown. An idea formed in her head as she thought of all the good she would do with her inheritance.
  • 11. Somewhere in Statham Island- One week later Victoria struggled to see the road ahead. It was raining so hard and the roads were slippery. She wondered again if she wasn't insane, driving in this horrid weather when she could be at home with a tub of ice cream and watching Cartoon Network the whole day. But then she remembered her parents and she was reminded again why she was out and about in this grey weather. She needed answers and she had to know. Maybe when she knew she'd be able to let go and move past this black cloud that seemed to suck the life out of her ever since her parents' death. The BAU didn't really need her to meet with Jade now because somehow they found a breakthrough when they linked Jade to Julian Scott. It turned out Jade was Julian's old flame and she'd killed her parents and those four innocent people purely for revenge. Victoria didn't want to accept this simple explanation, in her mind there had to be more than Julian and revenge!
  • 12. Somewhere in Statham Island: BAU's interrogation room "Well, you showed up! Will wonders never cease! I really thought you wouldn't have the guts to meet the woman who's dealt you a bad hand!" Jade sneered at Victoria when she walked into the interrogation room and sat across from her. "And what's this?" Jade asked pointedly when Special Agent Ron Richardson followed on Victoria's heels and sat down next to her.
  • 13. "I'll be overseeing this interview Jade, if you don't mind!" Ron replied sharply. It was BAU's policy to have someone from the team sit in during private interviews; Storm wanted to sit in, but the team had declined his request because he was too close to Victoria to be objective. "I don't think so Mr. Suit! I want to speak to Victoria alone! Go on, you can still look in on us, I know your goons are watching through the window" Jade mumbled coldly, turning to look at the one-way window to the interrogation room. "It's okay Special Agent Richardson. I'll be fine," Victoria smiled politely at him, signaling for him to leave the room. Reluctantly he left the interrogation room but not before he gave Jade a scathing look.
  • 14. "Why?" Victoria asked calmly when they were alone. She just wanted the answer to that question. She wanted to understand what would make this seemingly perfectly normal woman do something so insane! She looked at Jade and tried to see her for the murderer she really was, but the truth is she looked so normal it was hard for Victoria to believe she was responsible for the void in her heart. "Did you cry?" Jade asked coldly, ignoring Victoria's question. "Excuse me? What?" Victoria asked, shocked at this unexpected question.
  • 15. "Did you cry when you heard the explosion? Did you imagine your parents' flesh mixed with all that debri and devastation? Could you smell it? Taste it?" Jade taunted, an insane, glazed look in her eyes now. Special Agent Pete Charlton felt sick to his stomach as he watched the interview through the one way window. He understood Victoria's need for closure but he just wished she could get closure under different circumstances, not like this, at the mercy of the woman who'd killed her folks.
  • 16. "I hope they lock you up and throw away the key!" Victoria hissed hotly, unable to keep her anger in check now, but her emotional state seemed to excite Jade even more. "We are all sick in our own little ways Victoria; I was just more brave than most and showed the world my true colours!" Jade answered her mouth dripping with venom.
  • 17. "Why? Why did you choose my parents? Why them?" Victoria tried again, forcing herself to remain calm. "I would have killed Storm first, but then I found out you guys weren't together anymore which meant you didn't care for him much and well I started liking him myself. Your parents were randomly chosen. It could just as easily have been Kendra and Dean!" Jade answered.
  • 18. "What did I ever do to you?" Victoria screamed, violently getting out of her chair; unable to spend one more second in this woman's presence and yet wanting to know the truth. She was drawn to Jade as much as she was repulsed by her. "I have two words for you!" Jade murmured, a gleeful look on her face, "Julian Scott!" "So it's true? All this was for Julian Scott" Victoria whispered hoarsely. "Of course! He was the love of my life and your special friends killed him," Jade smiled sweetly at Victoria.
  • 19. "You killed four innocent people in those fires, why?" Victoria asked again, trying to get her head around this lunatic's ranting. "Because I can! They were a diversion, test runs. At first I wanted to kill someone you loved and make it seem like it was arson, but then my imagination ran amok and I thought of fireworks and new year's eve. Julian went down in a hail of bullets from the FBI, so your loved ones had to go out in style too..."Jade murmured gleefully. She loved the way Victoria hung on her every word! "Julian killed himself. The FBI didn't kill him!" Victoria pointed out.
  • 20. "And you know this how? You were dead yourself when everything happened so how do you know he really killed himself? For all you know this was all just a conspiracy!' Jade shot back angrily. She believed it in her heart of hearts that the FBI killed Julian. She knew him, he would never kill himself. Julian was a fighter, like her and killing himself seemed like such an easy way out and didn't fit Julian's character. "Was it worth it?" Victoria asked suddenly, catching Jade off guard. She could see she would never get a satisfactory answer to her question. Jade had really done all this for revenge. Victoria couldn't live with the fact that six people were dead because of her; if she hadn't met Julian, if he hadn't fallen in love with her and kidnapped her, none of this would have happened. Jade thought for a long time about Victoria's question then nodded her head; yes, it had been worth it. She'd do it all over again if she could!
  • 21. One week later...Victoria's apartment in Statham Island. "Hey, I just wanted to let you know I'll be out of town for a while...my application to the Red Cross was successful and they're shipping me off to Strangetown! Yeah, I know. But I'm so excited! Don't worry, I'll be fine. Of course I'll be back in time for your wedding! I love you too. Take care now!" Victoria was on her cell phone with Kendra. Like she'd known she would, Kendra disapproved of her mission to help the needy; she wasn't against Victoria helping, she just couldn't understand why she had to go all the way to Strangetown to do that. But Victoria was happy and excited. For the first time since her parents' death she felt like she had a purpose; she had something to look forward to and wake up for.
  • 22. Somewhere in Statham Island - Dean & Storm's childhood home While Kendra's on the phone with Victoria, Storm poked the fire in his old dining room trying to warm his frozen heart. They were over! She was going to Strangetown to do God knows what! He didn't understand why she had to put her life in danger like that, but he couldn’t stop her either. She was determined to go to Strangetown and help the flash floods victims and he admired that about her; she could be so selfless and caring at a time when her own life was falling apart.
  • 23. A kaleidoscope of his memories with Victoria hit him hard, he remembered the last time he made love to her, how he'd asked her to marry him...remembered the time she was in a coma and he missed watching her paint on his penthouse's roof top. He missed her so terribly and he should go and see her before she left, but what's the point? No use rehashing the past, especially now that she's determined to run as far away from it as possible.
  • 24. "Storm, Victoria's leaving for Strangetown in a few hours!" Kendra announced quietly as she walked into the dining room, Dean following closely behind her to set the table. "I know!" Storm replied, turning around to face his brother's fiancé. "Aren't you going to stop her? Fight for her? You know she's being reckless!" Kendra said, exasperated with him.
  • 25. “No…She's a grown woman. She knows what she's doing!" Storm answered sharply. Dean sensing his older brother's fury signaled to Kendra to stop but she just wouldn't let up. "But she doesn't. She's trying to find meaning in her life and that meaning is right here. We are the meaning she's trying so hard to find, you, and me and Dean. We are all she has and we shouldn't let her put herself in danger like that!" Kendra insisted. "Who knows what can happen to her in Strangetown? There are rumors of aliens and strange people. Do you want her to get abducted by those truth seekers?"
  • 26. "Victoria needs to find her purpose in her own way! She'll be fine. She's tired of everyone protecting her and sheltering her. She wants to prove to herself she's strong and if it means her going to Strangetown, then by all means." Storm shot back. "Look at it this way, when she comes back she'll be at a better place and this might just be good for her. Let her go Kendra!" Dean added gently. "I still think you should fight for her. You say you love her-------" Kendra continued but Storm cut her off.
  • 27. "Love shouldn't be so hard Kendra. But with Victoria and I it's been hard from the day we met and I'm exhausted. I love her and she says she loves me too, but she's not at a good place right now and she needs time. I need to let her go and she'll find her way back to Statham Island...to me...to us...Let her go Kendra! I have!" Storm murmured in a resigned tone. He was exhausted emotionally and maybe Victoria was right, this time apart would do them good. As much as he tried to block Victoria out his mind he couldn't. She was like a drug he couldn't get out of his system.
  • 28. While Kendra and Storm argued about her, Victoria left her apartment and got on the airport shuttle. There were no direct flights from Statham Island to Strangetown so she'd have to take a connecting flight in Pleasantview. As the shuttle sped towards the airport, she thought about Storm and their relationship. She wasn't leaving because of him. She was just mad at the world and she hoped working with the Red Cross in Strangetown and focusing her energy on what mattered would heal her broken spirit. She made a mental note to call him when she got to Strangetown and let him know it wasn't him, it was her. He'd been the perfect lover, always supportive, always there for her but she wasn't sure who she was anymore and she hoped this journey would help her rediscover herself.
  • 29. Time went by so fast in Strangetown. During the day she helped the Red Cross Team with the survivors of the flash floods; she nursed the ill and the wounded at the local clinics and she gave painting lessons to the children suffering from Leukemia in the oncology wing of Strangetown's only hospital. She was inspired by the children's determination to live through another day. In the evenings she wrote in her journal about her time in Strangetown, her parents and her grief. At first it was hard for her to commit her feelings on paper, but it got easier each day. Soon her month with the Red Cross at Strangetown was up. On her final day she wrote out a cheque for $200 000 and donated it to the Red Cross. There were heartfelt goodbyes from everyone in the small team of volunteers; she hadn't expected to get so attached to everyone and so involved with the locals, especially the children.
  • 30. Soon after Strangetown she accepted an assignment to cover the civil war in Veronaville; Statham Island's Daily News needed a free lance photographer and she accepted the offer. It killed her over and over again to know that some of these men would never return home, hold their loved ones and be with their families again. She died a thousand deaths when the casualties were women and children - but that was always the tragedy of any war, children and women were always collateral damage in any war! In Veronaville, amidst the war and the stench of death she made a commitment to start a charity benefit for war survivors and advocate peace and unity. She could not think of a better way to honor her parents' memory. And she would need Kendra's help; her best friend was good at organizing and planning charity benefits; after all she was a professional party planner!
  • 31. Takemidzu Village- Two months after leaving Statham Island Victoria got out of the airport shuttle and stretched her legs. She took in huge gulps of air and enjoyed the sun caressing her face. After spending a month in Strangetown with the Red Cross volunteers she'd spent another month in Veronaville covering the war there until last night when the Daily News abruptly pulled her off the story. They told her it was getting too dangerous in Veronaville. They'd received direct orders from SI government to pull out all SI nationals from Veronaville. She'd decided on the spur of the moment to take a trip to Takemidzu Village and now, here she was, enjoying the clean fresh air and sunlight on her face. She tipped her driver and watched him speed off down the road before turning her attention back to the quaint hotel she'd be staying at for the next few days.
  • 32. "Welcome to Takemidzu Village, Ms. Mendez; hope your stay with us is most enjoyable," the hotel's receptionist smiled up at her as she completed the hotel's check-in forms. "Thank you! Is my room ready?" she asked expectantly; suddenly she wanted a nice hot shower and fresh clean sheets. "Yes ma'm follow me please," replied the hotel porter, carrying her luggage to her room.
  • 33. The few days she'd planned on spending in Takemidzu Village stretched to another month. She started off her days by doing Yoga in the mornings, then meditating at the local Zen garden. She spent her evenings dining alone at her hotel. She also enjoyed grooming the Zen garden during the day. She felt at peace with herself and with the world. It must be something in this place, she'd thought to herself when she first got here. But as each day passed, she realized it wasn't just the place that was peaceful, she was at peace too. She could now think of her parents without wanting to break down and cry; her heart still squeezed painfully at the thought of them, but the tears didn't smart the corners of her eyes anymore. •
  • 34. She loved this Far East town. Everything was so simple here, so easy. She lost herself in the culture and the people. She went on the tours and explored the town; she sampled the local cuisine and found herself enjoing the local dish, Chirashi, so much she ended up asking for seconds and thirds everytime she stopped at the food stalls located in the town's major attractions. The first time she tried her hand at the ancient game, Mahjong, she sucked badly, but pretty soon she was so good she gave the locals a run for their money.
  • 35. Then she did the silliest thing she'd ever done - she wished on a wishing well! She didn't believe in this mystical stuff, but hey, now that she was here why not? So she tossed her coin and made a wish. Her eyes grew as big as saucers when suddenly a green, calming light radiated from the wishing well and it started raining coins! She'd wished for peace of mind but the gods gave her money instead. Maybe she'd find peace of mind in money. Either way, she'd come to the well a non-believer, and she left knowing there was something deeply mystical about the place.
  • 36. Her afternoons were spent in perfect bliss of laziness starting with her favorite acupuncture massage then ending the nights off with long walks with her new friend, Kimone. They didn't really have much in common but Kimone was grieving the death of his wife, she was grieving her parents and misery loves company. Her favorite part of the day was drinking tea at the many tea cafes in and around town. She loved this place so much she was starting to think of it as home and not once but many times she thought of buying property and moving out here permanently. She delighted in the locals' company. She loved listening to their many variations of the Dragon legend. Soon she learned the local language and learned to take a bow and before long, she was blending in and getting lost amongst the locals. She loved the feeling of anonymity. Here she could relax and be herself. She had no responsibility, no pressure and no demands.
  • 37. Then the dream started out of the blue...It began the same way each night. First Storm would appear to her and she'd see him as if he was right there in the room with her. Then the dream would shift to her intimate moments with Storm, making love, feelings of desire and tenderness being stirred in her and just when she was about to tell him she loved him and missed him he'd explode in a gigantic fiery blast.•
  • 38. And then she'd wake up sweating and crying, glance at the clock on her bedside table and see it's just past 4am. Every day without fail, she had the same nightmare and wondered what it all meant. This morning was no different. She woke up from the dream and felt disoriented. She wondered if Storm was okay. Maybe it was her subconscious telling he was in danger and she should get home. Or maybe, it was just a dream. And dreams don't mean anything!
  • 39. Victoria wretched over the toilet bowl for a long time. She felt nauseous and she was convinced the chirashi she had for lunch was spoilt. She rose from the floor and was about to flush the toilet when another wave of nausea hit her. She wretched again and again until there was nothing in her tummy to heave up. Slowly she made her way to her bed and lay down. She felt so horrible and wanted to go home. She didn't want to die here alone. As soon as she felt better she'd be on the first flight out to Statham Island. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, hoping just this once she wouldn't have the dream.
  • 40. The next day, she went to say goodbye to the wise old man in Pagoda in the Shadows. They'd grown quite close and she often came to him when she was scared and uncertain about things, like today. "Victoria," the old man greeted her warmly as he pulled her close in a big bear hug. "To what do I owe this visit?" "I came to say goodbye. I'm leaving tomorrow, going back to Statham Island," she answered, smiling warmly at him. She still felt weak and dizzy but the cool air made her feel so much better.
  • 41. Before he could say anything, Victoria went down on her knees and wretched again and again. She was so mortified - she'd never done something like that in public, let alone someone's house. "I'm sorry...I don't know what's wrong with me," she mumbled apologetically, getting up from the floor and going to find something to clean up the mess with.
  • 42. "Come here. I want to tell you a story, something you need to take with you on your journey home," he replied softly, taking her hand. And so Victoria sat and listened to the old man's variation of the Dragon Legend, a tale she'd heard so many times from the locals. Some said it was a love story, some said it was ghost story and well she was feeling so sick right now, and she didn't really care. "And so you see Victoria, no man is an island. We all need each other in our small ways. Miracles happen all the time, we just don't stop to recognize them for what they truly are!" the old man finished off his tale with parting words of wisdom.
  • 43. "I'm sorry...I don't get it! What does it all mean? Why did the princess need the dragon again?" Victoria asked confused, she turned away from him and stared out into the lake. "Because Victoria he wasn't really a dragon! He was her knight in shining armor!" the old man replied impatiently. "Must I really spell it out for you?" "Please do! I love your culture and language and everything else, but sometimes I wish you'd all stop talking in riddles!" she told him crossly. She felt feint and fatigued and she wanted to take a nap.
  • 44. "Storm is perhaps just what you need and not the dragon you imagine him to be!" he snapped at her. "What? This is about Storm and me? Your Dragon Legend? Please! Storm and I are done. We agreed to end things amicably," Victoria told him quietly. "I have to go now...thank you for putting up with me for the past month," Victoria whispered sadly as she bowed to him.
  • 45. "It was no trouble at all. Remember you can always call this place home!" He answered, bowing back at her. "Take care of you both Victoria." "Storm's a big man, he can take care of himself," she smiled impishly at her friend before turning around and rushing down the long flight of stairs. "I don't mean..." he called out to her, but she was already too far away to hear the rest of his words.
  • 46. "Madam is leaving already?" asked the same receptionist who'd greeted her when she checked into the hotel a month ago. "Yes. It's time for me to head back home. My friend's getting married in two weeks and I'm her maid of honour" Victoria told him excitedly "Congratulations to your friend. Maybe you can recommend the hotel to her for her honeymoon, yes?" the receptionist asked hopefully, shaking her hand gently.
  • 47. "I'll definitely do that. I've enjoyed my stay immensely," she answered, meaning every word she said. "I can tell. Madam looks much better now than when she came," replied the porter. "Really? Was I that ugly?" Victoria joked. She would have continued her light hearted banter but then her cell phone rang and she had to answer it.
  • 48. "Toria, do you want me to pick you up from the airport?" Kendra asked as soon as Victoria answered her phone. "No...that's okay. Thanks. I'll take the shuttle. Don't worry; I'll see you tomorrow afternoon." She told her best friend. As much as she was excited to see her friend, tonight she needed to be alone. She had one final thing to do before her life in Statham Island could resume. She hung out with one of the local girls while she waited for the shuttle. She was going to miss this place tremendously, but she was needed at home; she had a wedding to attend. As she left the hotel, she wondered if her breasts looked as big as they felt. She knew she'd over indulged during her holiday, but she hadn't expected her boobs to grow!
  • 49. Somewhere in Statham Island- three months after her parents' death She looked up at her dark apartment and realized how little, on the outside, things had changed. Her place still looked exactly as she'd left it three months ago. But she'd changed. She'd learned to let her past go, forgave Jade for her parents' death, forgave herself for making bad choices which led to dark moments in her life and she even forgave Storm for hurting her terribly in the past. From this day forward, her life was all about looking into the future. And her future started with small chemist package in her bag. She thought of Storm and wondered if he was seeing anyone. Three months was a long time to wait for someone to make up her mind and she was sure, he was not a patient guy! Slowly she climbed up her front steps and smiled when Bibo, the neighbor’s dog, bounded down to greet her! It was great to be home!
  • 50. A little while later, having taken a bath and washed her hair, Victoria sat nervously on the sofa in her bedroom wringing her hands tightly on her lap. She'd just taken the pregnancy test and was waiting for the results. She tried hard not to look; it said on the box she'd get results within 5 minutes. This was the longest five minutes of her life. In that five minutes she imagined the changes that would happen in her life if the test turned came out positive. She'd tell Storm of course first thing in the morning and she'd let him decide how he wanted to handle things. She was self sufficient and she believed she could raise a baby on her own, but Storm had a right to know.
  • 51. After what she was sure was five minutes, she bent down over the test and greeted her fate. She knew two blue lines meant 'baby on board' and one blue line meant 'no baby on board'. She felt like someone had kicked her in her gut when she glanced at the test and saw the results.
  • 52. A myriad of emotions played across her face. Relief? Sadness? Anxiety? Shock? Pure disbelief? But what had she really expected?