Chapter Sixteen-Going Home

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Chapter Sixteen-Going Home

  1. 1. "I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky And I'll make a wish Take a chance Make a change And breakaway Out of the darkness and into the sun But I won't forget all the ones that I love – Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
  2. 2. Sunday – the day after Dean and Kendra’s wedding Jade McNamara smiled triumphantly as she looked up at the cozy cabin. She had done it! She had made her clean getaway from Statham Island’s federal prison, without being detected or drawing any unwanted attention to herself. She had finally found a place she could call home, for now at least. This place sure beat the overly crowded Salvation Army shelter she had called home for almost a week since her escape from prison. If she was not tired she would have thrown herself a mini-party to celebrate her ingenuity.
  3. 3. Statham Island-Storm’s penthouse A sleepy smile formed on her lips when she opened her eyes and found him looking at her with such naked love and tenderness. “Sleeping beauty is finally awake,” Storm drawled in a low, sexy voice. His blue eyes smiled back at her.
  4. 4. “Did I snore?” she asked and blanched visibly when his whole frame shook with silent laughter. “I find your snoring endearing,” he assured her, his voice suddenly thick with emotion as he pulled her close and laid his hand on her still flat tummy possessively.
  5. 5. “Is this a dream?” she asked softly, lacing her fingers with his. She was so afraid she would open her eyes and find that it was all a dream, and a very good one at that. “This is real. It’s not a dream,” he murmured against her hair. She felt so right in his arms and it made him sad to even think of leaving her for just a few hours. He never wanted to let her go.
  6. 6. “I feel like I’m home now, finally, after months of wandering. I don’t ever want to let you go,” Victoria cried softly, wishing she could stop the tears from falling from her eyes. After Kendra and Dean’s reception the night before, they came back to Storm’s penthouse instead of returning to his house with Emma. They made love for hours. They talked. They cried. They laughed and they made love some more. Eventually, spent from their feverish passion, they fell asleep at the crack of dawn. Now, they were both reduced to tears again whenever they closed their eyes and remembered just how precious their union had been. “Victoria, my heart will always be your home…always…” Storm whispered brokenly, tightening his hold on her.
  7. 7. Once she was on the outside, the decision to come to Little Creek had been instantaneous. She knew the Mendez’ vacation home was the last place the BAU and the police would think of searching and she also knew the BAU would be watching over Victoria like a good watchdog. Not that Jade was planning on going after her. She had no desire for revenge; she just wanted her freedom back. She wanted to leave the country and never look back. She had to get her hands on her money and get fake papers and that would take a very long time. But in the meantime, she needed a place to stay and this was a good start.
  8. 8. Statham Island-Storm and Emma’s Place “Don’t go. Please stay! What am I supposed to do without you?” Hugo begged. They were fully clothed and they lay on the bed they had shared for almost the past week in one of guest bedrooms at Emma and Storm’s place.
  9. 9. “Please don’t do this. We knew it would come to this,” Cassie cried with a tearful smile. The thought that in a few hours her flight to Strangetown would be leaving and their whirlwind romance of five days would be over left her feeling cold and empty inside. “Why can’t you stay? You could move your practice here. I’m sure you’d get a lot of clients,” he tried again to convince her to change her mind.
  10. 10. “I have to go back home…I---” Cassie started to say, but Hugo silenced her with a kiss. She was so stubborn and would not listen to reason. “I am your home,” he cried harshly against her tender lips.
  11. 11. Ordinarily, with money and a car, the trip from Statham Island to Little Creek would have taken her a good six hours, but because she was on the run and broke, she had had to keep a low profile for a few days and organize her life. Jade was not planning on staying too long in Little Creek. This was a temporary stop, until the dust in Statham Island settled and she was off the Red Alert. Of course it had been a long five days, it was bound to be when she had no money or prospects of three square meals a day and a warm bed. She knew law enforcement of all types, including the BAU, would be diligently monitoring her bank account and tracking her down. So she had made do with all the handouts she got from the good Samaritans who were kind enough to give her ride to the numerous stops she had had to make along the way.
  12. 12. Statham Island-Storm and Emma’s Place “So…” Drake started to say, but his voice trailed off. He was very good with goodbyes but this one was hard because he had grown attached to Daniella. “Shhh---don’t say anything,” Daniella smiled and fastened her mouth to his in a long, emotional kiss.
  13. 13. “This is not a goodbye…it’s a see you later!” She murmured when they finally pulled apart. She had never been one for tears or regrets and when she started her fling with Drake, she knew where it would end; she just never expected it to hurt so much. The past two weeks were the best of her life in a very long time. Not once, but often, she had found herself wondering what it would be like to return to Statham Island and stay for good. After all it was her home, but Strangetown was also her home now.
  14. 14. Jade breathed a huge sigh of relief when her hand reached underneath the front door’s welcome mat and found the key to the cabin. “Typical small town behavior,” she mumbled to herself, “always trusting and naive!” It did not occur to her that perhaps the key was there for a reason. She was too tired to make sense of anything right then. All she wanted was a nice long bath and a warm bed.
  15. 15. She knew she looked a mess. Her rich honey blond hair was shorn in uneven layers (all courtesy of her cell mate) and it looked sparse, wild and unkempt. Her once pretty face looked haggard and drawn. She had permanent dark circles under her eyes. Her once alluring lips were now chapped and swollen. She had an assortment of scars and bruises on her face, some of which were now healing or covered by Band-Aids. It was amazing how much damage three months in prison had done to her looks, she thought bitterly as she headed inside the house.
  16. 16. “So the reclusive Storm Chace misses us already?” Drake asked teasingly when he and his older brother took their seats. They were at The Hub the Monday after Kendra and Dean’s wedding day. It had taken Storm a lot of convincing to get his cousins to meet him for lunch. When Storm had called them earlier, Hugo was in a foul state over one thing or another. Drake was playing golf, and nobody, not even a drop dead gorgeous model, could pull him away from his game.
  17. 17. “Shut up, Drake,” Storm growled at his cousin, “listen up…this is important.” “Okay…speak to us oh Oracle!” Hugo drawled sarcastically. Since Cassie’s departure the previous day he was in a black mood. Normally a sweet-natured man, Hugo now went around like a bear with a sore head. “I’m getting married!” Storm announced and smiled at the look of shock he saw on both his cousins’ faces.
  18. 18. “I’m sorry, run that by me again?” Drake exclaimed, unable to hide his shock and dismay.
  19. 19. “The last time I checked, Victoria did not want to marry you,” Hugo pointed out irritably, briefly glancing up from his menu. “She does now!” Storm replied smugly, unable to keep the self-satisfied smirk off his gorgeous face. “Okay…so…you know what this means right? We have to party it up for the next couple of months before the noose is on your neck,” Drake rambled, suddenly excited at the prospect of getting up to mischief again. The two weeks leading to Dean’s wedding had been the best of his life!
  20. 20. “Sorry to disappoint you, the wedding’s next Saturday!” Storm dropped his second bombshell for the day. “So soon? Why? Is Victoria pregnant?” Hugo asked, briefly out of his comatose state. It did not cross his mind that his cousin’s idea of a surprise wedding was insane or that it might just fail. All he cared about was Cassie. “As a matter of fact yes!” was the third bombshell. “But that’s not why we’re getting married so soon. I love her and I can’t wait to make her my wife!”
  21. 21. “Whoa! How many surprises do you have up your sleeve Chace?” Drake stammered. Oh man…oh man…this was not good! It was bad enough Storm was getting married. Now he had a baby on the way?
  22. 22. “What do you need from us?” Hugo asked after a while of comfortable silence. He had barely touched his drink. “Your presence at the wedding…” Storm replied, and turning to Drake he continued, “And your yacht for the venue.”
  23. 23. “See…I told you it was an investment,” Drake smiled, feeling vindicated at last that his luxury purchase was not a waste of money like everybody believed.
  24. 24. “Will Cassie be there?” Hugo asked hopefully looking at Storm expectantly. “Obviously…she’s one of Victoria’s closest friends,” he replied, making Hugo’s day. “If that’s the case, bravo my brother!” Hugo smiled his first real smile of the day and raised his glass to his cousin. He felt like he had been given a new lease on life.
  25. 25. Statham Island- Dr. Marx’s Practice Three days after Kendra and Dean’s wedding Victoria and Storm were at Dr. Susan Marx’s practice for their first obstetrics visit. Dr. Marx was highly recommended by Dr. Warren and she was also highly expensive, but they knew they could not put a price tag on their baby. “There’s your baby,” Dr Marx announced, pointing at the image on the screen on the ultrasound scanner. Victoria and Storm gazed at each other in awe and wonder. It was a beautiful moment - hearing their baby’s heartbeat. The baby looked weird, but Dr. Marx assured them that that was how babies looked at fourteen weeks!
  26. 26. Storm was glad he had made it in time for this visit. He had had to wheeze through rush hour traffic from the BAU to the hospital, but it was all worth it. He did not want to miss a single second of his baby’s life and he could not wait for the moment when he would touch Victoria’s swollen tummy and feel the baby kick. She was still not showing and Dr Marx assured them that it was normal for some women not to show until the fifth or sixth month. “Can you tell what sex it is?” He asked hopefully.
  27. 27. “The way baby is positioned, it’s hard to tell. I guess this little one wants to surprise you,” Dr Marx replied, still staring at the machine. “It doesn’t really matter, just as long as the baby’s healthy,” Victoria sighed happily. She felt a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. This was her happy ending. She was finally home in Storm’s arms and their baby was healthy. She could not have asked for more. This was enough for her.
  28. 28. Well she did want to be Mrs. Storm Chace, but the way she felt right now, she thought that wanting anything more than what she already had was bordering on selfishness and greed. But was it so wrong to be selfish and greedy? “I’ll send a nurse to clean you up and prep you for your blood work Mrs. Chace,” Dr Marx informed them as she left the room to attend to another expectant mom.
  29. 29. Victoria wondered why Dr. Marx insisted on calling her Mrs. Chace when the medical forms they had completed earlier clearly stated Mendez as her last name. Not that she was complaining; being referred to as Mrs. Chace was music to her ears. It was too bad though that there had been no further talks of marriage after their rushed discussion at Kendra’s wedding. As much as she had tried to bring up the matter, Storm always changed the subject much too quickly.
  30. 30. Now, whilst they waited for the nurse, Storm sat watching the emotions on her face fleet from excitement, wonder, delightful surprise, and finally to anxiety and worry. “Are you okay?” He asked, softly searching her eyes.
  31. 31. She lowered her gaze to hide the rush of emotions from him, “I’m, fine. It’s just that. It was nice, the way Dr Marx kept referring to me as your wife. Storm…you said in two weeks we’re getting married---” She started to say, but let her voice trail off when she saw the distant look in his eyes. She decided right there and then that she did not need a ring or an official document to make her feel more married to him than she already did. He owned her in every sense of the word and no document would make the invisible hold he had over her any more tangible. “Will you be okay on your own? I have to rush back to the office…you know…stuff…” He murmured evasively, averting his eyes from her.
  32. 32. “I’ll be fine,” she told him, unable to hide her disappointment. “Rob will escort you home or wherever you want to go after this,” Storm stated the obvious just to fill the silence that was suddenly too deafening. Rob, was the head of the security personnel he had hired since Jade’s escape.
  33. 33. Statham Island – Storm’s penthouse Thursday It was Chick Flick Thursday and they were watching a movie starring Queen Latifaah, Katie Holmes and Dianne Keaton. After five minutes into the movie Storm did not remember what the name of the movie was or what the storyline was about. But Victoria was clearly enthralled judging from her peals of laughter and the way her eyes hardly left the screen.
  34. 34. His cell phone buzzed somewhere in his jeans’ pocket. Her body stiffened as she braced herself for yet another night spent alone because he had to rush back to work. She knew from the little he had told her that they were working feverishly on tracking down Jade because Pleasantview had thrown a hissy fit. She never complained because she understood the demands that came with his job. But…She just wished…She just wished she could have his undivided attention all the time. Storm felt her tense up and he wished he could ignore the call, but he had waited two days for it. “I have to take this,” he excused himself and all Victoria could do was stare after him, her interest in the movie suddenly gone.
  35. 35. “Kendra thanks for getting back to me,” He breathed into the phone when he was in the privacy of his bedroom. “Storm, what’s going on? We went hiking and there was no reception where we were. We only got back to the hotel today. Is Victoria okay?” Kendra asked on her end. “Victoria’s fine. Everything’s okay. I just wanted the phone number of the florist you used for your wedding,” he informed her coolly. “My florist? Why?” his sister-in-law asked, stunned.
  36. 36. He closed his eyes and tried to think of the best way he could break the news to Kendra without sending her into hysterical mode. “I’m planning a surprise wedding for Victoria…” He replied as coolly as he could, but Kendra cut in.
  37. 37. “What? Does Victoria know? Oh s***---it’s a surprise---WOW! When?” was Kendra’s incoherent and hysterical response; the very same response her brother- in-law had been afraid of. She was aware of the loud chattering of her teeth as she tried to keep herself warm. They were at the Sky Vista Hotel in Three Lakes and it was bitterly cold.
  38. 38. “Next Saturday,” Storm announced, smiling a little. He knew how crazy the whole idea sounded, but now more than ever, he wanted to make Victoria his wife, before the house of cards tumbled down. His talk with Melissa the previous day had unsettled him. The truth was when he had suggested they get married in two weeks he had really thought they could pull it off, but now with the BAU making all sorts of demands on him he was left with little free time. He felt like he was sinking in quicksand and there was nothing he could do to pull himself out and he could not excite Victoria with the wedding plans when Dr. Marx, on the day of their obstetrics visit, had clearly warned them about Victoria’s dangerously high blood pressure.
  39. 39. “Whoa! I’m coming home! You can’t pull this off on your own and I’m the best events coordinator you’ll find, plus you don’t have to pay me,” Kendra informed him excitedly.
  40. 40. “But…I already have a wedding planner. I just wanted your florist’s name because Victoria loved your flowers so much,” even when Storm stammered this out to Kendra, his mind was already playing with the idea of working with her. Why not? She was good at what she did, she was family, he would just give her a brief on what he wanted and she would deliver. This would give him more time at work and more time at work meant finding Jade before he was pushed into a corner.
  41. 41. “So, just dismiss whoever it is and hire me instead, Victoria’s wedding day is important to me, and you know I’ll do my best,” Kendra insisted, not giving him room to decline her offer.
  42. 42. “Okay…but what about Dean? You’re on honeymoon,” he had a horrified look on his face as he tried again to dissuade her. He was already in Dean’s bad books for his dalliance with Bree. Stealing Kendra from him on their honeymoon could be deadly.
  43. 43. “Don’t worry about Dean; I’ll handle him. We’ll be home soon,” Kendra smiled smugly, glancing briefly at her sleeping husband, oblivious to the sudden change in their plans. “And Storm? Congratulations! I knew you’d get it right eventually, I just didn’t expect it would take you this long,” She murmured and rang off before he could reply.
  44. 44. Storm was a different man when he returned downstairs a little while later after working out a few more details with Kendra. He found Victoria still sitting on the couch, but she was now staring blankly into the darkness outside.
  45. 45. He did not know if the movie was finished or if she had lost interest when he had left the room to take Kendra’s call. Whatever the reason, he was filled with regret as he felt the sadness radiate from her. So naturally he sat down behind her and cradled her in his arms. “Did you miss me,” He whispered, leaning closer to her. She did not reply, but he felt her relax and allow herself to sink into his arms.
  46. 46. He turned her around slowly to face him and pulled her feet up. He placed them on his lap and started massaging them gently. Victoria noticed the change in him immediately, but did not comment. He was more relaxed and the worry lines on his forehead were gone. It was almost as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
  47. 47. “Mmmh, that feels so good,” Victoria purred and closed her eyes, relishing the moment. Within minutes their clothes were strewn all over the floor and the silence was punctuated by Victoria’s soft moans of delight as they made love for the first time that evening.
  48. 48. Storm’s penthouse “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you still be on honeymoon?” Victoria asked, delighted to answer the door and find her best friend there. It was a Saturday, exactly a week after her best friend’s wedding. “I missed home so much…so we jumped on a plane and here I am. I know, I’m a big baby right?” Kendra cried making a face. She hugged Victoria and squeezed her gently, “It’s good to be home!” “Wow…you’ve only been gone for a week and you already miss this place?’ Victoria asked shocked.
  49. 49. Kendra was startled when Victoria, out the blue, burst into tears. “Hey, what’s wrong?” She asked, wrapping her arm around Victoria’s shoulders. “I’m pregnant—I’ve just begun my second trimester and I don’t know… It’s Storm….He---He’s so distant lately. He’s hardly home and he hasn’t said anything about our wedding since---since!” Victoria sobbed loudly, flinging her face in her hands. All the tears she had been holding off for the past few days found their release as she flung herself in Kendra’s comforting hug.
  50. 50. “Toria, that’s wonderful news,” Kendra cried, truly happy for her best friend but sad to see her cry. Suddenly it all made sense, the oh-so-sudden wedding. He wanted to do right by Victoria and marry her before she started showing. “He’s hardly ever home…” Victoria wailed again, “and he doesn’t want to marry me!”
  51. 51. “Sweetie, trust me, Storm DOES to want to marry you. I’m sure he’s just busy with work…you know with Jade’s case,” Kendra comforted her. She had heard about hormones running amok when a woman was pregnant, but she had never seen it firsthand.
  52. 52. “I was browsing through this bridal mag on our flight back and you won’t believe this amazing dress I saw. I wish I’d seen it before I got married,” Kendra gushed, almost too casually, pulling a magazine from her handbag and leafing through it quickly. They were now sitting in the kitchen, sipping on chamomile tea to calm Victoria’s nerves.
  53. 53. “It’s stunning,” Victoria commented, a wary look still in her eyes. “Which one would you go for?” Kendra nudged her. Her mission was to get Victoria to choose a dress and get her measurements.
  54. 54. “I don’t know. They are all pretty,” she answered indecisively, glancing quickly at the glossy shots. Her mind was not on wedding dresses and imaginary weddings. She was still thinking about Storm. He was evasive lately about his whereabouts and who he was with. There were times when she called his office only to find out that he was not there as he had led her to believe. He seemed distracted and broody and on more than one occasion, she had found herself wondering if perhaps their relationship was moving too fast for him. If she did not know about Jade’s case, she would have thought there was another woman. But the way he held her, and made love to her, when he finally managed to come home in the early hours of the morning dispelled any doubts she may have had about him, and assured her she was the only woman in his heart.
  55. 55. “Come on; if you were to get married like right now, which one would you want to wear?” Kendra prodded, not dissuaded by her friend’s listlessness. “This one,” Victoria finally committed to a long and frilly creation. “Are you sure? This one? No other one?” Kendra asked over and over just to make sure.
  56. 56. “Yeah…I’m sure. I like this one. I think I’d look beautiful in it. Anyway, it’s not like I’ll ever get to wear it,” she complained, suddenly bored with looking at dresses she would never wear at the rate her relationship with Storm was going. “You never know…you just might,” Kendra hinted, but it was lost on Victoria.
  57. 57. They spent the rest of the afternoon pampering themselves with manicures and pedicures and trying on Victoria’s clothes. Of course Kendra had an ulterior motive for that too. She quickly stuffed one of Victoria’s dresses in her hand bag while she was on the phone to Storm. Kendra knew Victoria’s dress size, after all they had been best friends forever, but Victoria had also put on a few pounds since her pregnancy.
  58. 58. It was a Monday, exactly five days before what would have been her wedding day and Victoria felt restless. She did not know why though. Maybe it was the deafening silence in the house, or the SUV parked outside the complex, or maybe it was not having Storm around, but suddenly she felt like breaking out. Breaking out? That sounded like a term used in prison! She understood Storm’s need to keep her safe, but she still yearned for some sense of normalcy.
  59. 59. She was not allowed to go anywhere without security detail. Shopping was not fun when there were people always trailing a few feet behind her. She had a strong urge to get out and leave.
  60. 60. Without thinking, she put on her colorful beret and carefully placed her digital camera inside her handbag. She had been neglecting her painting and photography lately, and today was as good as any day to get back into it. She used the back exit she had discovered a few days earlier when she had explored the building for the lack of something better to do.
  61. 61. She smiled with relief when she realized no dark SUV followed her. She was waiting for the bus to Downtown at the bus stop two blocks away from the penthouse. She wondered what she should do next when she got to Downtown. Maybe she could stop at Starbucks for a smoothie, or she could go book hunting, or she could just get lost in the crowd. The possibilities were endless, and she would take them all!
  62. 62. She was happily engrossed in a mime performance outside Center Drip Coffee house or affectionately known as CDC on Low End Street, a slum area in Downtown; she hardly noticed when the sun set and it got dark. She had spent a large part of her day taking shots of the depilated buildings, graffiti and break dancers in the area. She loved this part of Downtown and a long time ago, when she was starting out as an artist and a photographer, she had rented a place not too far from CDC. In a daze, she heard screeching tyres come to a halt on the curb not too far from her, but she did not turn to look at the newcomer. She heard the car’s door open and shut forcefully, but she did not take her attention from the mime artist.
  63. 63. Her eyes widened in shock when she heard Storm’s commanding growl, “Fun’s over…Let’s go…Now!” She hesitated for a second and only because she was suddenly afraid of the iciness in his voice. Unceremoniously, he yanked her arm and guided her toward his car with the engine still running. “Get in,” he hissed, opening the passenger door for her. “Fasten your seat belt!” He muttered in a dangerously low voice when he got in behind the wheel a second later. He was trying very hard to stay calm.
  64. 64. “How did you know where to find me?” She asked, acting as though everything was normal, when they were finally in the privacy of his living room. “Mhh” Storm snorted, his eyebrows twisting in a frown. Of course - the BAU! Big brother was always watching! Victoria groaned inwardly and rolled her eyes as it dawned on her that he would find her wherever she was just as long as her cell phone was on.
  65. 65. “I’m sorry…” Victoria stammered after a few moments of tense silence. “What for? For sneaking out? Ignoring my calls, or deliberately disregarding my explicit instruction not to leave the house without Rob?” He asked through clenched teeth. “I wanted to feel and act normal again…I just wanted to be on my own, for a little while. Ever since Jade escaped, my life doesn’t feel like mine anymore,” she explained, hoping it made sense to him.
  66. 66. “Does normal include the slums Victoria? Do you know how dangerous that place is? What is wrong with you? What is this compulsion you have with attracting trouble?” He finally let loose on her. All the pent up anger and frustration poured forth. “That’s not fair!” She retorted hotly. “I’m fine aren’t I? Nothing happened!”
  67. 67. “Storm…can’t you call off the dogs? I mean all this security? It’s obvious Jade’s not planning on harming me, otherwise she would have by now. It’s been two weeks already,” Victoria suggested. She was honestly tired of being followed everywhere she went. “No!” He replied savagely, a dangerous glint in his eyes. “Rob stays until I say otherwise! This is for your own good, Victoria. I can’t watch you 24/7 and I will not take a chance with that mad woman out there. Don’t you understand what you mean to me? You and the baby are my life now!”
  68. 68. Without warning he crushed her in his arms and planted a punishing kiss on her lips. She struggled for a while, shocked at his anger, but then felt her body slump against his sinewy frame as his lips softened on hers. Before long she was moaning softly and she wanted him with a hunger that still overwhelmed her. She was tugging on his t-shirt when he gruffly pushed her away. “You’ll be the death of me Victoria,” He snarled, looking deep into her eyes, before scooping her in his arms and taking her upstairs to finish off what he had started moments before. “I love you too,” she mumbled against his neck.
  69. 69. Victoria was surprised when she walked into the kitchen on Wednesday morning and found a bare-chested Storm in jeans nursing a mug of coffee in his hand. He rose from his position on the barstool and hugged her. God, she smelt so good. “Morning. Shouldn’t you be at work already?” She asked, leaning up to plant a kiss on his still hot lips.
  70. 70. “Not today. I’ve taken the day off to spend time with you. I know I’ve been neglecting you,” he whispered against her hair. “Promise?” Victoria asked, a little skeptical. “On my life,” he affirmed. “And to show you how serious I am, my cell phone is off and it will be for the rest of the day and we’ll unhook the landline!”
  71. 71. “Great…so what do you feel like doing?” she inquired, a naughty smile already forming at the corners of her mouth. “How about this first?” Storm asked wickedly, lifting and carrying her upstairs to their bedroom. “Get dressed, we’re going out!” Daniella announced very early on Thursday morning, walking into Storm’s living room with Cassie and Kendra following close on her heels.
  72. 72. “Oh my God, what are you guys doing here?” Victoria burst into tears of joy when she saw her three friends.
  73. 73. “It’s the reunion tour of the fantastic four!” Cassie whispered conspiratorially. She was ecstatic to be back in Statham Island. For some weird reason Strangetown had not felt like home when she returned and it had taken her a good couple of days to get back into the mundane routine of her work.
  74. 74. “Let’s go do some damage,” Kendra informed her, flashing a platinum credit card. She smiled, remembering how Storm had handed her the credit card and ordered her to make sure Victoria got everything her heart desired. If she did not have Dean she would have been green with envy. “Okay…let me get dressed,” Victoria cried, unable to contain her excitement as she ran upstairs. She had not realized how much she missed the other two until now. She made a mental note to ask Cassie and Daniella what they were doing back in town so soon, but she guessed it had to with the Clayton boys!
  75. 75. Kendra was their self-appointed driver; after all she would not let anyone drive the red hot Ferrari Dean had given her for her wedding present. They stopped at McD’s, their old high school hangout, for a well-deserved lunch after a hectic morning at Marci’s beauty salon, a pampering session at Maple Springs Pool & Spa, and doing some damage on the clothing racks at RAGE in Downtown. They had spent almost two hours trying to help Victoria pick out her wedding underwear and lingerie for her honeymoon. Of course the fact that Victoria was not privy to that information made their shopping excursion a lot harder. All three thought Storm’s surprise wedding was the most romantic thing they had ever heard of, but they were all starting to agree, the most frustrating too. They had all smiled with relief when Victoria had finally settled on a sexy, yet stylish pale pink negligee and a matching underwear set.
  76. 76. While they waited for their waitress to return with their greasy Quarter Pounder Deluxe meals, Victoria had a weird sense of déjà vu as she remembered the countdown to Kendra’s wedding. If she had not known better she would have thought one of them was getting married. “What’s going on? Why did you guys drop by so suddenly?” She asked, as she sipped on her sparkling water. She saw the fleeting look of panic on her friends’ faces, but misinterpreted it as embarrassment. “I get it…it’s the Clayton boys right?”
  77. 77. “What---?” Cassie asked in a shrill voice, trying to conceal her shock. “Yeah…you caught us---Hugo and Drake!” Daniella replied much too quickly, while Kendra suddenly found the restaurant’s décor very much interesting even though she had been there more times than she could count. “Awww…sweet…I’m so happy for you both,” Victoria sighed. She wanted everyone in the world to be in love and as happy as she.
  78. 78. Cold Issue Clothing, Downtown “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who has loved you as much as I love you. I would never intentionally do anything that would endanger you or our baby. You know that right?” Storm growled savagely, pulling her close to him in a possessive embrace. They were at Cold Issue Clothing in Downtown shopping for maternity wear. It had taken a lot of convincing on Victoria’s part to pull Storm out of bed after spending an entire day doing what people in love do. She was still shocked at his sexual appetite.
  79. 79. “I know that, silly,” Victoria told him breathlessly, suddenly afraid of the wild look in his eyes. She knew the look too well. It was the same look he had had when he had tried to tell her about his tryst with Bree. “Storm, what have you done…What have you done this time?” She forced the words from her lips and loathed herself for sounding so distrustful. It was the night before his wedding day and it should have been one of the best nights of his life, but instead, he was an emotional wreck. There were so many things he wanted to tell her before they walked down the aisle, but he just could not. Instead he stammered, “I---I…Nothing…I just wanted you to know. You are my life, Victoria, and I would die without you.”
  80. 80. “Stop…you’re freaking me out! Are you leaving me? Are you going away, Storm?” She asked with tears clouding her eyes. Instinctively, she crossed her arms over her chest in a protective gesture. He knew then that he should tell her everything, but seeing that look in her eyes killed him, and he vowed never to leave her…come hell or Pleasantview.
  81. 81. “I will never leave you! Not now or ever!” He cried harshly, crushing her closer to him and wishing there was something he could do to stop both their hearts from breaking. And he knew right there and then the grave mistake he had just made.

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