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|"A painting hangs
on an ivy wall, nestled in the in the emerald moss, The
eyes declare a truce of trust and then it draws me far
away" - Loreena McKennitt
"The Mystic's Dream"
In a small motel room in Peru he sat, a man with thinning dark hair drinking bourbon as he read an American newspaper. His eyes widened as he recognized an old enemy of his family's, then he swore in Russian. The man threw the paper onto the coffee table with disgust, sloshing bourbon everywhere. He made no attempt to clean up the mess... that was why there was maid service. Among other reasons.
Instead, the man sat back and contemplated the news headline and accompanying picture. Derek Rayne had everything, and once more, he had nothing. Victor Arkady had been underground for the last several months, ever since his creation turned on him. And now, this latest bit of news from the States. Arkady shook his head in disgust, folding his arms over his chest as he tried to decide on his next move. This insult could not be tolerated...not at all!
'Philanthropist finds long-lost daughter,' the headlines read. It showed Rayne with his adult daughter, Elizabeth. Apparently, the girl was the result of a liaison from Rayne's youth, since she was listed as being twenty-six, and Arkady knew for a fact that Rayne was in his early forties.
Arkady rose to his feet and began pacing. How did one pay for constantly annoying the Arkady family? His last two attempts to put Derek Rayne in his place had failed miserably. First, there was the shipment of the remains of the pharaoh's lost daughter to the San Francisco Legacy House. Arkady's sources told him that Rayne escaped injury, but his godson, that meddlesome young priest, had not.
Arkady didn't know what had been done to the priest, but obviously, it wasn't enough. Only weeks later, he had interfered when a group of teenaged boys summoned the Warden using the Hand of Glory ritual. I'll take care of Philip Callaghan some other time, he thought, he's the least of my worries! What to do about Rayne's newly-discovered brat?
Not that there was much of a decision to make, of course. There was only one thing to do. No one could mistake the love and pride in Derek Rayne's expression as he looked at his child. Arkady laughed softly, murmuring as he began to make notes to himself, "You have your daughter now, Rayne, but let's see how long you can keep her. The royal brat Senephra failed to cure your habit of interfering... perhaps losing your newly-found daughter will not!" He laughed again, thoroughly delighted with his cleverness.
The spirit which hovered above Victor Arkady's head was furious. Too many times, Arkady had attempted to harm what was his...each time, he had been thwarted, but the spirit knew Arkady would keep trying until he died. No matter, he thought, those of my blood will always stop him.
It was the spirit's hope that those of his blood would always be around to stop Arkady, and those like him. His son was following in his footsteps, and his daughter...his daughter had found another way to serve God. The spirit didn't know how he felt about that. For fifteen years, following the loss of his wife, his beloved Anna, the Legacy had been his whole life...he didn't know how he felt about the choices his daughter made following his death. He knew only that he had done what he could.
However, much as he hated to admit it, his daughter's life was her own, and besides, there was the current problem involving Arkady...he had no corporeal body, he had no physical means to prevent Lissa Rayne's abduction. He didn't even know how it would come to pass...so how could he warn anyone from the Legacy? Especially since there were only three adults with the Sight?
I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, Winston Rayne thought, his bright eyes burning with fierce determination. One way or another, I will protect what's mine. I couldn't stop Senephra from harming my son or young Philip...although I did give her a lecture when she passed through. However, no matter what it takes, I will not allow Arkady to harm my granddaughter! Winston nodded. The matter was settled, it was as simple as that.
It was the second Luna Foundation function within the last two months, and the castle where Derek Rayne made his home was ablaze with lights. Most of the guests had come for a second look at the attractive young woman in her mid- twenties who made her way through the rooms. The dark-haired young man at her side watched in amusement as she greeted each guest with a warm smile and a firm handshake.
"You look like you've been doin' this forever," the young man commented as they drew away from a well-dressed, middle-aged couple in the main hall. She grinned and shrugged, and Father Philip Callaghan persisted with a broad grin of his own, "I'm serious, Elizabeth Marie! Someone watchin' you tonight would never guess this was only your second Luna function. You're doin' fine!"
"It's in the blood. It seems I inherited more from Derek than I realized!" Elizabeth Rayne answered with a wry smile. Philip laughed and Lissa continued, nodding to a man in the corner who had been glowering at the pair for most of the night, "So tell me why the bishop has been giving me the evil eye since he got here. What exactly is his problem? That you've been with me, instead of him?"
Philip blushed at her wording, but replied, "Somethin' like that. I think he also feels that you owe him a debt of gratitude." Lissa raised a dark eyebrow and the young priest continued, half-suspecting Lissa's reaction to this news, "He thinks that you should feel indebted to him for giving me your birth certificate." Lissa stared at her childhood friend in astonishment, then burst out laughing.
"Pobrecito! My heart breaks for him! Hey, he could have come clean at any time during the last sixteen years, Philip, but he didn't. He knew that I was Derek's daughter, and he had a pretty good idea of what was happening in that house. I owe him nothing!" she answered. Her eyes flashed with barely controlled rage and Philip tried not to smile as he turned to face her. Thought she might feel that way, he thought, and if she catches me smilin' like that, she will make me regret it. Painfully.
"Has anyone told you that you look lovely?" he asked. And she did. Her long, dark brown hair was piled on top of her head, and Philip could see reddish highlights in the dark curls. Alex did a wonderful job in help Lissa to prepare, Philip thought, and it sounds like they had fun, judging from the giggling I heard in Lissa's room before the party.
She wore a dark green cocktail dress with matching suede heels. Her only pieces of jewelry were a gold watch which was Derek's early Christmas gift to her, and a Celtic cross necklace. Philip recognized the cross...it had belonged to Lissa's mother Fiona, a gift to her from his mother Maeve. Philip shuddered. I can only imagine the kind of row which Mum had with Grandmother Ryan over that gift, he thought.
Lissa blushed, saying, "Thanks, I had help. I had forgotten how much fun Alex and I had in college, doing each other's hair. I didn't want to wear any make-up at all, but Alex convinced that I would look fine with a little. I guess I was afraid of a make-over. I don't want to change who I am inside, Philip, just because my last name is now Rayne."
"Not a chance," Philip assured her, "and I'm sure Alex said the same thing. Maeve, too. Which reminds me, where is Maeve?" He glanced around for Lissa's fourteen year old sisterm discovering her a few yards away. The teen was happily chatting with Sandy Horowitz, Lissa's partner.
"I just hope they aren't planning an ambush once we get to Mexico City," Lissa sighed with a rueful smile. Philip laughed and Lissa continued, shaking her head, "I still can't believe I'm a detective, Philip. I never even thought to ask the chief about the results of my exam after waking up."
"Yes, but Rachel said that was normal. Your immediate memory, as well as long-term, comes back slowly. I must say, you're handlin' things well. Aside from that idiocy about not deservin' to be a detective, of course," Philip replied. Lissa nodded with a grin, and it was then that Alex appeared.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you could just move into the next room, Dr. Rayne is prepared to make the announcement. Thank you," she said. As Philip and Lissa followed her into the next room, Alex winked at their friend and mouthed 'You look great!" So did she, in her scarlet evening gown.
A few minutes later, Alex, Philip, and Lissa were joined by Maeve, Nick Boyle, and Dr. Rachel Corrigan. Maeve placed herself between Alex and Lissa, and Philip noticed the look which passed between the former roommates. He thought about Nick's comment a few months earlier, about how Lissa would make things interesting. That was an understatement. While the investigations had been routine during the last two months, since the resolution of the Daugherty case, life at the castle had been anything but routine!
That time had been marked by Lissa decorating her room, with Derek's permission. Philip had been roped into helping. But, he had to admit, they hadn't had to twist his arm. He enjoyed the time with his friends, enjoyed the sound of Alex and Lissa's mingling laughter. And there were cases to be solved. Aside from the Daugherty case, Lissa only took part in most of those cases as a consultant or researcher.
Still, Philip had enjoyed having her around. They could never return to the relative innocence of childhood, but he still enjoyed her company...and Alex's. Philip shook himself, returning his attention to the announcement. Pay attention, he told himself, or I'll pay dearly later.
Derek began by saying, "I welcome you, my guests, to my home. More than two months ago, I learned of a great buried treasure...a treasure which had been hidden from me for over twenty-five years. I am speaking, of course, of my extraordinary daughter, Detective Elizabeth Rayne, of the San Francisco Police Department."
There was a quick burst of applause which Derek acknowledged with a smile before continuing, "In addition to her duties as a Vice Detective, Elizabeth also works with the Luna Foundation. This evening, I am proud to announce that Elizabeth and her partner, Detective Alessandria Horowitz, will be escorting a gift from the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. I cannot reveal the exact nature of this gift, at the request of the museum curator and the Mexican government. However, when you return here a week from today, you will understand the need for secrecy."
"That's an understatement," Nick muttered to Philip, "I know a few dozen thugs who would love to get their hands on that. I still don't like the idea of announcing to the world that Lissa and Sandy are going down there." The young priest nodded soberly...that was a concern for him as well. Yes, Lissa and Sandy were both seasoned police detectives with more than five years on the force...but he couldn't help worrying. Especially with Maeve accompanying them.
"I agree," Rachel whispered from Nick's other side, "but Derek thought it would be safer for Lissa, Sandy, and Maeve. If those thugs know that the Luna Foundation completely backs this journey, they might leave the girls alone." Nick snorted, then gasped in pain. Philip glanced over long enough to discover that Rachel had elbowed Nick in the ribs. The psychiatrist winked at Philip, who suppressed a smile.
"Don't count on it, Rachel...mark my words, the girls will be attacked while they're in Mexico City. The government and police department will do their best to protect them...but there will be an attack of some kind," Nick replied. Philip glanced at his friend, concerned by the certainty in Nick's voice. However, he remained silent and instead, turned his attention back to Derek.
His mentor was now saying, "Elizabeth, Alessandria, if you could join me?" Lissa immediately went to her father's side, and from her place beside her husband, Sandy followed suit. Derek took Lissa's hands and kissed the back of each, then released them. He repeated the gesture with Sandy, causing that young woman to blush fiercely...amusing Philip, who had found himself blushing in response to comments made by Sandy many times. Derek gave each young woman a glass of champagne, saying, "A toast...to Elizabeth and Alessandria! Two extraordinary women!"
"To Lissa and Sandy," the guests responded. Derek put his arm around Lissa's shoulders, obviously very proud of his daughter. And, Philip thought, he should be proud of her. However, the young priest was concerned by the tension he saw in Lissa's face when Derek touched her...or rather, when any man, even Philip, touched her.
However, once she saw that it was Nick or Philip who touched her shoulder or arm, Lissa would relax with a rueful smile. But when Derek touched her, the tension remained for a few minutes, along with a wariness. There is something she hasn't told us yet, Philip thought, something she isn't ready to trust us with. But what?
Don't push her, he admonished himself in the next instant, when Lissa is ready to tell us what's troubling her, she will! However, Philip couldn't stop feeling uneasy about the secret which she was keeping from her extended family. As children, he and Lissa never kept secrets from each other. Philip had hoped all the secrets were out now.
By eleven pm, the last of the guests had gone home and Derek was in the study, playing the piano to relax. Rachel had gone home, since Emily had classes the next morning. Maeve and Alex had both gone to bed, while Nick checked the grounds. Derek had no idea where Philip and Lissa were.
"Derek..." a voice whispered. The precept tensed. He knew that voice! It repeated his name, then added, "Your child is in danger, Derek. Guard her well." And then Derek knew the owner of that voice. A cold hand closed around his heart, but he willed back the fear.
"Dad?" he whispered instead. Derek rose to his feet and walked around the study, trying to locate his father. Derek said, "Dad, where are you? What do you mean, Lissa is in danger? Has Reynolds come back from the grave to harm her?" He didn't think it was likely, but he had to ask.
"No, son...the danger Elizabeth faces comes from this world, not the next. Your greatest fear will come to pass. An old enemy seeks revenge, Derek, and he's willing to use Elizabeth to get it," Winston Rayne's disembodied voice told him. There was a long silence, then Winston added wistfully, "I will do my utmost to look after her, Derek. Perhaps I can do better as a grandfather than I did as a father."
"What kind of danger?" Derek asked softly. There was a silence, then Derek added, "How can I protect her, if I don't know what kind of danger she's in?" There was a small amount of desperation in his voice. God, to lose Lissa, so soon after finding her! He didn't think he could bear that... nor could the others. Alex...Philip...even Nick.
"I don't know, son. And perhaps I didn't do as badly as a father after all. You still have the capacity to love your daughter, so perhaps I didn't ruin things totally. And perhaps, one day you can forgive me," Winston said. As quickly as he had come, he departed. Derek could feel his father's departure and he sat down at the piano again.
Lissa was in danger. From what his father had said, it seemed that Derek's fear that his enemies would use Lissa had been valid. But acknowledging her as his child had felt right at the time...declaring to the world that he had a daughter had seemed proper and correct. Derek certainly wasn't ashamed of being Lissa's father, and he knew Fiona would have been equally proud of their daughter.
"Derek? You're still up?" the subject of his musings asked. Lissa stood in the doorway, bleary-eyed. She was dressed in a nightgown and robe, her long dark hair falling to her shoulders. She looked about twelve years old. Derek quickly steered his mind away from his daughter's years without him. He honestly had no idea what Lissa had looked like when she was twelve...she had told him that there were no pictures of her during that time. It didn't surprise him, but he still wished he could have some way of seeing her after she was taken from his and Philip's lives.
Derek smiled at his daughter and answered, "I couldn't sleep. Philip has gone back to the rectory? I didn't hear him leave." Lissa nodded sleepily and Derek walked to her side, slipping his arm around her shoulders. He drew her close, wanting to protect her. After a moment, he murmured, "Did I tell you at all tonight how beautiful you were? Or how proud I was of you? Or how much I love you?"
Lissa's arm went around his waist as she asked, "Are you all right, Father? It isn't like you to be this mushy. I guess you're just worried about this upcoming trip to Mexico City. I'll answer your questions anyhow...yes, you told me several times that I was beautiful, mentioned often that you were proud of me, and told me at least four times during the course of the night that you loved me very much."
"Of course I'm worried about this trip, Elizabeth! It's the first time in three months when you'll be out of my sight for any length of time. Neither Nick nor Philip will be with you, and that doesn't help. And police detective or not, you are my daughter. That will never change, no matter how old you are. I wish I could go with you, but I must stay here," Derek replied as they walked up the stairs together.
"Father, if something is going to happen, it will happen. I know, you want to be there in case it does. I feel the same way about going. I would really like to stay here, just in case something happens to you, but I can't," Lissa told him and Derek laughed softly.
"Well, then we'll call ourselves even. Just be careful, little one," he said. Lissa nodded as they reached her room, and Derek asked, "Would you mind if...?" His voice trailed off as he gestured to her room. Lissa's eyebrows knit, then she laughed, understanding his meaning.
"That's right, you haven't seen my room since I actually moved in, have you? I'm sorry...Xan, Maeve, and I have been pretty busy. We've gotten most everything taken care of, but Nick and Philip have helped somewhat. Much to the chagrin of the bishop. He thinks I'm trying to steal Philip away from the priesthood," Lissa said, rolling her eyes.
"Hmmm. I hadn't realized the bishop was so possessive of Philip, at least not until tonight. I noticed him glaring at you for most of the night," Derek replied. Lissa flicked on the light and Derek caught his breath. His daughter, with the help of her sister and Alex, had transformed the room.
"Did I go overboard?" Lissa asked anxiously. Derek didn't answer immediately as he studied the room. It was neat...for the most part. Lissa's jeans from the afternoon were still on the bed, and books had yet to be put in the bookcase, but otherwise, it was fairly neat. It was the pictures on the walls which caught Derek's attention, however. His daughter continued, "I did go too far. I'm sorry...it's just that..."
"It looks wonderful, Lissa. It has your personality stamped on it, and that's what I wanted for your room. This is your home, and your room, and you must put your own mark on it. Tell me, where did you get that picture?" Derek asked, indicating a picture that was actually several pictures. Lissa smiled, taking the frame down.
"Xan and Philip helped me with this. They both went through old pictures. See, that's Xan and me outside our room at Broussard Hall," she said, indicating a picture in the lower right hand corner. Lissa and Alex sat back-to- back, their heads resting on the other's shoulder. Both girls...for Alex was only about twenty-one and Lissa about seventeen...were laughing at the camera.
"There's you and Philip playing soccer. I think Jonathan Boyle took that picture," Derek said with a sad smile. He thought about his old friend, wondering how he had missed the signs of Jonathan's drinking. Could I have protected Nick and Christine, Derek wondered, did I miss signs that Jonathan was abusive? He would probably never know. He looked at his daughter, who was staring at the picture thoughtfully. Derek asked softly, "Lissa? Are you all right?" She snapped back to herself and nodded.
"Yeah...sorry about that. I guess I's still dealing with Uncle Jonathan's abuse of Nick. You know, he was always so gentle with Philip and me," Lissa replied. Derek looked at her quickly, and Lissa added, "Nick didn't tell me that his father beat him...I saw it in his eyes." She started to say more, but fell silent.
Derek didn't know what to say, and Lissa sighed as she continued, "Here's a picture of me and Xan in front of the student's union building. The sisters victorious, is the title a hallmate gave to that picture. Alex and I had just come from a confrontation with this bigot, who had been harassing her. We were at lunch, and he started giving her a hard time for no reason. The hallmate I mentioned...she snapped this picture when we headed back to our dorm."
Derek studied the photograph, smiling...his daughter and Alex had their arms around each other's waists, and both girls grinned at the camera. They had been exhilarated and there was just a little anger remaining in both girls. Lissa heaved a deep sigh as she put the picture back. After a moment, she pointed to a picture of the Toronto skyline and said, "Nick specially ordered the picture of Toronto. That's some city. Have you ever been there?" Derek shook his head and Lissa continued, "I spent my senior year of college at the University of Toronto. I stayed with Aunt Molly. My phone bill will be atrocious for my call to her."
"I doubt if it will be that bad...you were only on the phone to her for three hours, and that was your only long distance call for the month. Besides, you and Molly had a lot to talk about...a lot of catching up to do. Just out of curiosity, how did she react when she found out that you knew you were my daughter?" Derek asked and Lissa laughed, her dark eyes twinkling with mischief.
"She gave a shriek which would put most of the banshees in Ireland to shame, then apologized for never telling me the truth. Mama made her promise that she wouldn't tell... against her better judgment, she agreed, since Mama raised her. She said to tell you 'hello.' She was also pleased that I reconnected with Philip, though she wasn't happy about him being a priest," she replied. Derek barely controlled his smile. Yes, he remembered, quite vividly, the one time which Philip mentioned becoming a priest in Molly's presence. That had been over fifteen years earlier...her reaction had been strong, to say the very least.
"As I recall, both Molly and Fiona always felt that you and Philip would marry when you became adults. Or rather, should marry. It would seem that was not meant to be. What did Molly say when you told her that you were now a member of the Legacy also?" Derek asked next and once more, his daughter laughed. The precept delighted in the sound. It was music for him. There was so little laughter here...
"She got real quiet...I know, 'quiet' isn't a term to describe any of the Summers women...then said, 'well, it is a family tradition...on both sides of your family.' Then she basically repeated what Mama said about Hitchcock," Lissa replied. Her mouth tightened as she mentioned Derek's former best friend, and the man who might have been her uncle under different circumstances. Derek looked at the floor and his daughter put her hand over his, adding, "I'm sorry, Father." Her eyes were filled with compassion and Derek smiled.
"There's no need for you to be sorry, little one...you have done nothing wrong. So, please don't apologize for your mother's mistakes. Or for anyone else's mistakes. You'll have to tell me in detail about your conversation with your aunt one day," he replied and Lissa nodded, then yawned sleepily. She covered her mouth with the back of her hand, looking embarrased, but Derek laughed. He kissed her forehead and added, "For now, rest."
"Okay. I'll see you in the morning. Philip said to tell you that he'd be here at noon for the meeting...but he might be a little late. He has a pre-Canaan meeting with two parishioners. I went to high school with the woman...her fiance grew up in Chicago and moved out here two years ago," Lissa replied. There was a sadness in her dark eyes and Derek smoothed back a dark curl from her eyes.
"Don't give up, little one...your time will come. For now, can you content yourself with a old grouch for a father?" he asked with a teasing smile. That radiant smile he loved so much returned to his daughter's face and Derek added, "I'm glad to hear that."
"Now you're being silly, Father...you're only forty- three!" Lissa replied and Derek laughed, drawing her close. Once more, he wondered why she stiffened when he embraced her. The stiffness always left her body after a few seconds, but...he wondered. Lissa smiled sleepily and Derek left her room, wondering how to protect his daughter.
Alone in her room, Lissa lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. It would be one of those nights, when it would take her forever to fall asleep. And unfortunately, Philip had returned to the rectory. He was a member of the Legacy, yes, but he was still a parish priest. God knew, Lissa was proud of him. That wasn't the issue. But...she missed him.
A gentle knock at the door alerted her to a visitor, and Lissa whispered, mindful of the others in the House who were sleeping, "Come in." The door opened, revealing Alex in a night shirt and a pair of shorts. Lissa sat up with a smile and said, "Xan. How did you know I needed to talk?"
"ESP?" Alex offered with an impish grin, and the former roommates both laughed. After a moment, Alex said, "I don't know...I just couldn't sleep either. Are you nervous about this trip to Mexico City? I know it's not the first time you've been out of the country, but that's not relevant."
"Watch it, Xan, you're starting to sound like me!" Lissa joked, and had the pleasure of seeing her friend smile. The young detective took Alex's hand and said, "I've missed talking to you during the last few weeks...and shop talk or discussing picture sizes isn't what I mean. I hope you know that it doesn't mean I don't love you any more."
Alex laughed again and replied ruefully, "How many times did I say that to you during finals week?" Lissa shrugged and they laughed together again. After a moment, Alex continued, "And I haven't felt neglected or left out. We spend as much time together as we can, but you also have time to make up for with Derek and Philip. I can wait!"
"I know that, Alex. It's just that...well, being in a coma for a year tends to change your perspective. If something were to happen to you tomorrow, and I hadn't told you how grateful I am to have you back in my life, I don't think I'd ever forgive myself," Lissa replied. Tears blurred her vision and Alex put her arms around her, pulling her close. As she had years earlier, Lissa drew strength from her friend...and hoped that Alex wouldn't mind.
"Lis, you're not going to lose me. Hey, what's really troubling you? You're not as stoic as Derek, but you're also not this maudlin most of the time. What's upsetting you?" Alex asked, gently rocking her. Lissa clung to her friend for several moments, unable to put her fear into words.
"I don't know, Alex. I just had this sudden desire to tell you that you're one of my best friends. That even though I've been neglecting you lately, you will always be dear to me," the younger woman said after several moments. Alex pulled away, still holding Lissa's shoulders.
"You call the last two weeks in this room 'neglecting' me, dear friend? Lissa, I've had such fun helping you re- decorate your room...you have not neglected me. I think you're also missing Philip. I miss him, too. A lot," she replied. Lissa looked away, still feeling fragile, and Alex continued, "Lis, you don't have to be strong all the time. It's not healthy. And I don't mind you leaning on me."
"You have this uncanny ability to read my mind," Lissa sighed and Alex grinned impishly. The detective continued, "All right. I do miss Philip when he's not around. That just made me realize how much I missed you."
"And I've missed you. You're getting really sleepy and sentimental, so it's time for me to go. Sleep well, little sis...I'll see you in the morning," Alex said. Lissa nodded and Alex kissed her forehead, then slipped from the room. Only five minutes later, Lissa was asleep.
In her own room, Alex thought about her conversation with Lissa. She tried to tell herself that her friend was just tired...when Lissa got tired, she became sentimental. At all other times, it embarrassed her. Unless, of course, they were watching a movie. Lissa had once jokingly referred to herself as a big sap when it came to the silver screen.
Perhaps that was true, but Alex also knew that when someone Lissa loved was endangered, then all bets were off. She had seen her shy, soft-spoken roommate turn into an absolute tigress when she perceived a threat to Alex or another hallmate who had been kind to Lissa.
Alex got out her photo album from college, her eyes softening as she looked through the old pictures of herself and her favorite roommate. Lissa had blushed the first time Alex called her that, but she hadn't argued with the term. It had been a great source of joy for Alex to watch that gentle teenage girl slowly blossom...she only regretted that they had lost touch for such a long time.
Once more, Alex's mind drifted back to the letters which she had never received, and she wondered what was in those letters. It was fairly obvious, at least to her, that Reynolds had intercepted all of Lissa's outgoing mail. But why? For the first time, something occurred to Alex.
He was hiding something, she thought, and he was afraid that Derek would find out. After a moment, Alex shook her head. No, that was too far-fetched. For Reynolds to intercept Lissa's letters to Alex on that account, he had to have known that Alex was with the Luna Foundation.
But it's possible, Alex argued with herself, Reynolds could have seen my name in the paper, linked with the Luna Foundation, and made the connection. She got out of bed and began pacing. She wished Philip was here. Even if he couldn't advise her, it would have been nice to talk to someone who knew Lissa when she was a child. Besides, like Lissa, Alex missed Philip for purely personal reasons.
At least he's at the rectory, Alex told herself, at least now I can reach him. That wasn't the case after Ellen killed herself. Alex trembled with rage, thinking of the woman who had hurt Philip so terribly. It's lucky for her, she thought grimly, that she's dead. Otherwise, I might be tempted to do some fairly permanent damage to her.
Alex shuddered, remembering the way Philip totally shut down after Ellen's suicide. She thought of the argument which further pushed Philip away from them, between the new priest and Derek shortly after Philip's ordination. And she remembered the lost expression in Derek's eyes when he walked into Philip's empty room the following day. They had all been devastated by his departure...Alex, Julia, Nick, and perhaps most of all, Derek.
For a long time, Alex had been afraid that Nick would never be able to forgive Philip for leaving. She flinched, remembering Nick's final words to their friend, "Damn you, Philip! You can go to hell for all I care!" Maybe I was wrong, Alex thought, maybe Nick was devastated even more than Derek was. I mean, Derek never gave up on Philip's returning to us one day. Nick didn't even believe that.
It had taken some time, but eventually, Nick let down his guard with Philip once more. Things came to a head when Philip was nearly killed, after falling down the library stairs. Hearing about the incident from Alex and Kat had shaken Nick, and after Alex returned to her own room the following morning, Nick appeared in her doorway.
"Is Philip all right?" he had asked, his green eyes reflecting anxiety. Alex had nodded, massaging the back of her neck with one hand, and Nick continued with a sigh, "Thank God for that. He really scared me."
"Not as much as he scared me, Nick. You weren't the one who found him, you didn't feel him shaking like a leaf," Alex had replied. She was tired and irritable...sleeping in the chair in Philip's room had been uncomfortable.
"You're angry with me," Nick had stated. Alex had merely responded with an irritated glance as she sat down on her bed, and Nick continued, "Look, I'm sorry we left the two of you alone, but we had to get to Kat. I knew you'd take good care of Philip. He needed you...not me."
"That's not the issue, Nick! I didn't mind staying behind to look after Philip, I didn't mind spending the night in a chair beside his bed. What I do mind is you waiting until Philip is nearly killed to pull this concerned act. He's needed us to care about him all along!" Alex retorted.
"It's not an act, Alex! I was just as concerned about Philip as anyone, and I still am! Do you think I don't know that we might have lost him for good this time? Do you really think that's what I want?" Nick exclaimed. Alex had bounded up from her bed, hands on hips.
"Why not? You never wanted him to return...never wanted him to come back at all. And didn't he tell you that he would switch places with Julia if he could have? Hey, Senephra could have taken care of that for you once and for all!" she retorted. Nick stared at her in disbelief, his mouth hanging open in complete astonishment. Alex wasn't entirely sure where this anger originated...or even if she could stop it before she devastated Nick completely.
"I was angry, Alex. I loved Julia, and my grief and rage made me obnoxious...but I never wanted Philip dead! Never!" he said earnestly. The sound of a door opening interrupted the argument and Alex flew out of her room and up the stairs, with Nick only a few steps behind her.
"Philip, what are you doing out of bed?" she had exclaimed, racing to his side. Philip was clinging to the wall, his face very pale. He looked a little better than he had the night before, and Alex put her arm around his waist, draping one of his arms across the back of her shoulders. Nick took the other side, and Alex asked, "What's wrong? Do you feel sick?" Philip slowly shook his head.
"I heard arguin' and planned to check it out. Is Katherine all right?" he asked anxiously as Nick and Alex helped him back into bed. Alex covered him up, and from the other side of the bed, Nick nodded. Philip closed his eyes, murmuring, "I was afraid somethin' else had happened. Were you two arguin' about anythin' in particular?"
"No...just venting our frustration. Last night was pretty wild, as I'm sure you remember. It's nothing for you to worry about, Philip. Just get some rest," Nick had replied gently. Alex looked at him quickly, and the former SEAL shrugged with a half-smile.
Months later, as Alex remembered that morning, she smiled sadly. She knew Nick had never stopped caring about Philip, despite the angry words spoken at the tribunal. The researcher gave a disgusted snort. Not that she had much room to talk...Alex knew she had hurt Philip deeply with her lack of trust in him. He had forgiven her, of course. He always did, but that wasn't the issue.
She wasn't even certain why she was remembering these things. You're tired, you're worried about Lissa, Alex thought, your mind is wandering. It happens. Her mind now as exhausted as her body, Alex at last put away the photo album and went to sleep. The next few days would be long.
The following morning dawned bright and clear. When Rachel arrived for the meeting at noon, she found the other members of the Legacy in the library. Philip was reading the morning newspaper, his Irish lilt thickening with excitement as he read aloud, "Dr. Rayne continues...oh, hi, Rachel."
"Hello, Philip...I take it the party last night was another big success?" Rachel asked with a smile as she took her place between Nick and Alex. Derek nodded with a faint smile, and Rachel continued, "I'm very glad to hear that. Kat asked for some pictures of Lissa...she was very disappointed that she didn't get to see you in your Christmas dress, as she called it." Lissa grinned.
"She's a doll, Rachel...a genuine sweetheart. I hope you know how lucky you are to have that little girl," the younger woman replied. Rachel noticed the quick, concerned look which Philip directed at his friend, and wondered at the cause for it. Lissa continued after a moment, "In any event, I got my itinary from Teniente Escobar a few minutes ago. He sent it to my email address." Lissa passed the sheet around.
"Your user-ID is 'Emar.' Wasn't she like an Irish goddess or something like that?" Nick inquired as he studied the paper with great interest. Lissa and Philip exchanged an amused grin, and Nick continued, "I guess not. So how did you come up with that particular ID, Lis?"
"You're thinking of 'Emer,' Nick, but she wasn't a goddess. I'll explain that to you later. And 'Emar' is just my initials...Elizabeth Marie Anne Rayne. So, does it meet with your approval?" Lissa asked as Nick passed the sheet on to Alex. The researcher looked tired, and Rachel wondered if her young friend had had a bad night.
"It looks okay...I just wish I were going with you, Lis. I know, Teniente Escobar and his men will protect you, Sandy, and Maeve...but I would still feel better if I were going with you three," Nick sighed. Lissa smiled sweetly and leaned across the table to pat his cheek gently. Rachel tried not to smile at Nick's disgusted expression.
"I know, and you're very sweet to care so much. But it's like I told Father last night. If something is going to happen, it will happen...whether you're there or not. Same thing applies for here," Lissa replied as she sat back down.
Nick frowned, evidently not understanding the young cop, and Philip explained, "She means, she'll worry about us as much as we'll worry about her, Nick. Even if she was here, she can't stop somethin' bad from happenin' to us, if it's meant to happen. Is that close enough, Lissa?"
"That was perfect, as you well know, Philip. Okay. Sandy, Maeve, and I are leaving on the 6 am flight tomorrow. We need to be at the airport by four am, so I'm not even bother going to sleep tonight. I'll probably take a nap around five, so the first person who bothers me before ten pm dies a very painful death! Sandy will meet us at the airport. Nick, can you fly Maeve and I in the chopper?" Lissa asked. The security expert nodded and the detective took a deep breath, closing her eyes.
Rachel sneaked a look at Derek, who was staring at his daughter in disbelief. The psychiatrist said into the silence that followed, "Lis, honey, you've done the impossible. Your father is speechless...I didn't think that was possible, without getting blasted by Alex."
Lissa frowned and Alex said, "I'll explain another time, Lis. Is there anything you need from us, before you take your nap?" Lissa shook her head and Alex continued, "Okay. I should have the last of the research on the artifact ready for you by one thirty. You can read it on the plane, assuming you don't zonk. Your tickets are all ready...they arrived this morning, so the only one who needs to show up early is Sandy. But, knowing you, you'll want to keep her company. How's your Spanish?"
Lissa responded with rapid-fire Spanish and Rachel looked at the girl, dumb-founded. Derek translated with a smile, "She said, 'after spending all morning reviewing my notes from high school and college, if my Spanish isn't fluent, it never will be.' Tell me, Lissa, when you take Maeve to soccer practice, do you still talk with the youngsters on the boys' soccer team?" Lissa smiled, running her hand over her hair with a sleepy smile.
"Sure do. And I've had some real interesting conversations with one boy, Andy...Greg Montoya's son. I think I've just about convinced his friend Julio that I'm not a threat. He's started...thawing. Anyhow. My Spanish is about as good as it's going to get. Why do I feel like I'm forgetting something?" Lissa asked plaintively.
Rachel laughed, replying, "Probably because you're a perfectionist, just like your father." Lissa nodded with a sigh in acknowledgement of this truth, and Rachel continued, "Kat asked if you could please bring her back something from Mexico. I'll leave that to your judgment. You're not actually a mother, but you know what's appropriate."
"Kat's the same age Maeve was when I joined the force. Yeah, I'll get her something nice," Lissa replied. Something had changed in her expression, but Rachel couldn't tell exactly how. Or why. And in a moment, Lissa had returned to her previous mood, saying, "What about the rest of you? Any particular souvenir wishes?"
"Just for you to come home safely," Philip and Nick answered in unison. The two young men looked at each other, then Nick started laughing. Philip just shook his head, smiling, and Nick continued, still laughing, "This is getting scary! Derek, is there anything else?"
"Yes...Nick, how is the George investigation coming?" Derek asked and the ex-SEAL sighed deeply. Rachel looked at the precept, interested, and Derek explained, "You were out of town when this happened, Rachel, otherwise, I would have asked you for an evaluation."
"This guy was found on the coast of Washington earlier in the week, Rach...he claimed that he was St. George, slayer of the dragon. He's a young guy, thirty-four at most. Probably younger. He wound up with the Seattle Legacy House, and when they couldn't care for him properly, they sent him down to us. I've been spending the last week with him, trying to figure out what gives," Nick explained.
"The spooky part is, I've been doing research with Alex in the middle of our preparations. This guy, when he first arrived, talked like an Englishman from medieval times. I've found old manuscripts, and his language and idioms fit. It's not just his accent, but his whole way of talking. Anyhow, Nick and I did some checking...there were electrical disturbances when this guy showed up," Lissa said.
"So you think, even if he's not St. George himself, then he might be from medieval England?" Rachel inquired and Lissa exchanged a glance with Nick. After a moment, they both nodded and Rachel continued, "But why would he wash up on the coast of Washington, if he came forward through time from medieval England? And why didn't the Seattle House discover these disturbances on their own?"
"That last part's simple to answer. The people who took the man to the Seattle House didn't mention anything about electrical disturbances. They only said that he arrived in the middle of a storm. Nick and I convinced the locals to be a little more forthright," Lissa answered with a half-smile.
Rachel decided that she didn't want to know what the police detective meant by that, and Philip added quietly, "But that's not all. When I went to visit him, he refused to believe that I was a priest...he told me quite bluntly that in the first place, I was too young to be a priest. And in the second place, I didn't behave or dress like a priest. Imagine, if you will, all of this said in a thick English accent from about fifteen hundred years ago."
"Oh, and let's not forget his reaction to me," Alex said with a half-smile of her own. Rachel raised an eyebrow with interest and Alex continued, "He caught sight of me through the window of his hospital room, and promptly dove under his bed. He was certain that I was either a devil or an angel of death." Lissa was no longer smiling...her hazel eyes had grown hard, and Alex continued, "Well, you gotta figure, there were no dark-skinned people in England back in that era. And I'm a little too dark to be a Pict."
"Also too tall, you don't wear blue paint on your face, and you are entirely too pretty for anyone to assume that you're anything but human. Neither demon nor angel are you, my friend," Lissa put in, her eyes still hard. Alex smiled at her, and the young cop continued, "In any event, Nick is going back up there this weekend, to see if he can find out anything more specific about these disturbances."
"Even if he is St. George, we still have to find out why he's been sent forward through time," Philip added. He paused, then added with a grin, "We never did tell Rachel about George's reaction to Lissa, did we?" The others shook their respective heads, and Philip continued, his pale eyes sparkling with laughter, "Rachel, he thought Lissa was a princess...albeit a strange-looking one. She told him that Alex was actually a princess from a faraway land, and that Lissa herself was Alex's lady-in-waiting."
"After that, George was a lot more comfortable with Alex. And Lissa, according to George's standards, you are a princess. He told me later that he still believed you were of royal blood, but were pretending otherwise," Nick added. He paused, then said, "Anyhow, that's where things stand right now. It's a really, really weird situation. He still doesn't believe that Philip is a priest, and he really doesn't know what to make of Derek or me."
"Would you like me to do an evaluation, Derek? It sounds like you could use all the help you can get," Rachel observed and Derek nodded. Rachel continued, "I have an hour free...one of my patients cancelled our appointment, so I can head over to the hospital after the meeting."
"That's an excellent idea, Rachel. Lissa, what do you have planned for yourself for the next few hours?" Derek asked. Rachel glanced back at Lissa, and realized for the first time that there were dark circles under the younger woman's eyes. It seems that Alex isn't the only one who didn't sleep well last night, Rachel thought, wonder if they pulled an all-nighter talking after the party?
"I'm done packing...I finished that up at four this morning. I suppose I could run into town. Maeve has been talking about studying abroad, and I need to see what her grades have been like. Not recently...I know she's been doing well in school, but before I came out of the coma," Lissa replied. Rachel frowned...this was the first time she had heard anything about Maeve studying abroad!
Before she had an opportunity to ask, however, Lissa added, "While I'm in town, I think I'll swing by the precinct and make sure the cases Sandy and I have been investigating are covered. I know what it's like to come into the middle of a case, and not know what the hell is going on. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, much less on another detective. 'Sides, there are a few folks who resent the fact that a new detective gets a plum assignment like this one. I'm not about to make things worse!"
"I thought the chief had explained to the other detectives about that," Philip commented and Lissa shrugged. The young priest continued, "Well, I can certainly understand why you don't want to ruffle any feathers. Could I get a ride with you? A couple in the parish...their newborn daughter is sick, and I've been spendin' as much free time with them as I can." Lissa nodded without hesitation.
"Sure thing. Can you be ready in twenty minutes?" she asked and the priest bobbed his head once. Lissa continued, "Terrific. Let me know what time you want to come back. I don't have anything more to add. Derek, is there something you need me to do once I get back from my errands?"
"Just rest, Lissa...I'll make sure dinner is kept warm for you," Derek replied. Lissa just smiled. Derek continued after a moment, "It would seem we've covered everything. Nick, when do you plan to leave for Washington? The Seattle House wanted to know if you would like back-up from one of their people." Nick sat back in his seat, then shook his head. Derek continued, "Are you sure? The Seattle House is very anxious to make up for their inability to help earlier."
"C-y-a. No, that's fine, Derek. Alex will be with me, so we should be all right. And we're leaving Friday night," Nick answered. He didn't say, that will keep her from worrying about Lissa so much, but Rachel knew he was thinking it. Philip had his parishioners to keep him busy, and Derek had the entire Legacy to keep his mind occupied.
"Very well...the meeting is adjourned. I'll see everyone else at dinner?" Derek asked. All except Lissa nodded and Rachel left with Nick, with Alex remaining behind to talk with Derek. The psychiatrist and the ex-SEAL were silent for several moments as they walked through the House.
"You're really worried about Lissa, aren't you? Nick, you know she can take care of herself...she's proved that over and over again. She protected Maeve from Reynolds for years, and she and Sandy are partners. They watch each other's back. They'll be all right," Rachel said.
"Rachel, all six of us can take care of ourselves, under normal circumstances. But you had no real way to protect yourself from your former headmistress...I had no way to protect myself from Jerry when I was trying to help Wendy; Alex couldn't protect herself from the ghost in Vance's tenement...Philip and Kat couldn't protect themselves from the Egyptian kid...Derek couldn't protect himself from Hitchcock," Nick replied. Rachel was silent. There was nothing to say...he was right.
Nick continued, "I guess what I'm trying to say is, things happen, Rachel. You have no control over them, and no way to prevent them...no way to protect yourself. That's what worries me. Put Lissa against the guy who shot her and her step-father, she's fine. Let her and Philip confront a seriously sick sorceror, they send him back to hell."
The young man took a deep breath, then continued, "But what happens when Lissa, Maeve, and Sandy get into a situation where they're in over their heads? Lissa needs more back-up than just Sandy and her kid sister."
Rachel didn't know how to answer at first, but finally, she replied, "Nick, the four of you can't always be there to look out for Lissa. I can understand why Derek and Philip and Alex are so intensely protective of her...but what about you? Nick, are you attracted to her?"
"Lissa is like my little sister...and no, I'm not attracted to her. I mean, yeah, she's attractive! But I'm not attracted to her. I just want to make sure no one ever hurts her again, Rach, that's all. I've got some things to do, I'll see you later," Nick said.
Rachel watched him leave and she chewed her lower lip thoughtfully. There's something which he isn't telling me, she thought, I don't know what it is, but Nick will eventually tell me what's going on. He always does.
Nick thought about his conversation with Rachel as he headed upstairs to the lab. He wasn't about to tell her about his own previous link to Lissa...if his little sister wasn't ready to tell Derek and Philip about her first meeting with Nick, the ex-SEAL certainly wasn't going to tell Rachel!
He sat down heavily in his chair, his mind drifting back to that first time he had seen Lissa, seven years earlier. It had been in late September, so it was a little cooler than usual. Still, you would have thought it was February back in the Northeast, from the way the girl was bundled up. Nick understood now...though he still had no idea what had pushed Lissa to the brink of suicide...that the coldness was inside Lissa's heart and soul. And perhaps, he received a clue when he saw the pure despair in her eyes.
Nick knew a few things about despair...but the lost expression in those eyes had chilled him far more than the weather ever could. And for a few minutes...for just a few minutes...he had been afraid that she really would jump into the water below. But then, she had taken his hand.
Nick could still remember the relief that had surged through him once he felt the girl's small, cold hand slip into his. Once she was on eye-level, he had realized with a jolt that she was a little older than he originally thought. When he had first looked at her, Nick had thought that she was only about fifteen. A closer look told him that she was much closer to his own age.
Nick now knew that she was only about six months younger than he was. At least, in terms of years. In terms of the scarring on her heart and soul, he was certain that she was much, much older than he was...perhaps even older than Philip. After a moment, Nick rejected this last idea. There were times when he was sure Philip had been born old.
He knew a little more about his friend's childhood now, thanks to Fiona's diary. Nick flinched, still feeling guilty about that intrusion into Lissa's privacy. At the same time, he was glad he had read it. It had told him much he needed to know. But there was still more which he didn't know.
After Lissa and Philip left for San Francisco, Derek went upstairs to his office to complete some paperwork. And yet, he couldn't keep his mind off his father's warning the previous night. Which old enemy wanted revenge? Derek thought Randolph Hitchcock was most likely.
And God knew Randolph had the resources to have men in Mexico City take Lissa...moreover, he had always been jealous of Derek's daughter, if only because Alicia loved her. Derek smiled to himself, remembering his first meeting with his daughter, more than twenty years earlier.
His smile died as he looked at the picture taken of Derek's entire family on the night he publicly acknowledged Lissa as his daughter. Lissa, smiling shyly, with Derek's arm wrapped around her shoulders; Philip, looking nervous as ever when a camera was focused on him; Nick, Rachel, Maeve, and Alex beaming. Derek's eyes returned to Lissa.
I won't allow you to hurt her, Randolph, he thought fiercely, I won't allow you to hurt my daughter! The question remained, however, how he would protect her. He had no idea how Randolph would strike, when he would strike, and where he would strike. And unfortunately, his Sight was silent. No images gave Derek clues which would allow him to protect his child. However, Derek Rayne had never allowed that to stop him...it certainly wouldn't now.
"Are you ready for la americana's visit, Javier?" the tall, blond-haired man asked, leaning against the police lieutenant's desk. Javier Escobar looked up from the paper in his hands, then looked rather pointedly at the chair. His companion said, "Sorry. So, what gives?"
"Detective Rayne arrives tomorrow, Darien, with her partner and younger sister. She just emailed me with the confirmation plans. I must say, I've enjoyed dealing with the Luna Foundation," Escobar answered.
The police lieutenant looked at his watch and muttered, "Merde...it's time! Darien, was there something specific you needed?" His companion shook his head with a smile, and Escobar continued, "Well, come on. You wanted to know about Detective Rayne's upcoming visit, here's your chance."
His companion straightened, his green eyes glittering. Escobar looked at Darien suspiciously. He didn't trust this man. His superiors had told him to cooperate with Darien Blume...not that Escobar believed that was his real name. There was something very strange about Darien. Something fishy is what Alex would say, Escobar decided, smiling as he thought of the beautiful researcher from the Luna Foundation. Yes, 'fishy' would be the term Alex used.
"I didn't realize I was invited," Darien answered. Now there was a bald-faced if Escobar had ever heard one. He knew damn well that he was invited. And that only increased Escobar's distrust of him. Unfortunately, that was no reason for him to go to his superiors. And he couldn't say that Darien's background made him suspicious. Everything had checked out...a little too well. It was all too neat, all too perfect. That made Escobar very nervous. However, until Darien...or whoever the hell he was...actually did something to harm Lissa Rayne, Maeve Reynolds, or Alessandria Horowitz, there was nothing Escobar could do.
Darien was silent as he and Javier Escobar walked to the conference room where the plans involving Lissa Rayne's visit would be finalized. Despite the orders of his boss, Mr. Victor Arkady, Darien still wanted to rub out the Rayne girl immediately, but Mr. Arkady wouldn't hear of it.
They had arrived in the conference room and Darien sat down beside Escobar as the meeting started. He was well aware of the other man's distrust, and he had received permission from Mr. Arkady to take out Escobar when they grabbed Elizabeth Rayne.
Darien hadn't made up his mind whether he would just kill Escobar and be done with it, or if he would draw out the process and really enjoy himself. I have time to decide, Darien thought, Lissa Rayne doesn't arrive until tomorrow. I can't make my move right away...there's time yet. Winston Rayne was on the point of panicking. Rarely had he panicked during his life...rarely had he panicked since his death in Peruvian cave. But the threat to his granddaughter was growing stronger, and Winston couldn't warn his son again. All I can do, he thought, is pray that I can help Elizabeth when she needs me most. I failed Anna, Marina, and Derek...I can't fail my granddaughter!
"Lis...Lis, wake up. We're getting ready to land," Maeve whispered, giving her sister a little shake. One eye opened, surveyed their surroundings, then closed again. Lissa sighed deeply, then opened both eyes. Maeve continued, "We're on final approach. I figured waking you first would be a good idea. I remember what happened the last time I tried to wake Sandy...my hip was bruised for a week."
Lissa responded with a sleepy smile and she replied, "Good girl. What did Philip tell you about Belfast just before we left?" Maeve looked at her in disbelief, and Lissa continued, "C'mon, honey, I've known you for fourteen years, and Philip is incapable of hiding things from me. What gives with that situation? Sister Antonia told me that even while I was in a coma, your grades remained decent."
"Philip is going to contact his sister-in-law in Belfast and see how she would feel about having me as a houseguest while I attended school," Maeve replied almost reluctantly. Lissa nodded encouragingly and the teenager continued, "I would help her with the little ones at the same time. Philip isn't real thrilled with the idea of Shelagh moving in with his grandparents. Are you angry?"
"Why would I be angry, silly girl? You'd be home this summer, wouldn't you?" Lissa asked with a half smile and Maeve nodded, her eyes growing wide. Lissa continued, "I will miss you, sweetheart, but this is a wonderful opportunity for you. I just wish Shelagh lived in Dublin, or some other city in the Republic."
"I know...Philip said the same thing. He wants Shelagh to move south, but she's determined. Says that things didn't go bad until Michael went to England," Maeve replied and Lissa nodded. The young girl continued hesitantly, "Lissa...what should I do if we do encounter Philip's grandmother? You've told me a little bit about her, and I'm afraid if I met her...Well, you taught me to respect my elders, but it's gonna be awful hard to show respect to her, after what she did to Philip."
Lissa smiled tightly and answered, "Bite your tongue and count to one hundred fifty. Otherwise, pray that you never encounter Nuala Ryan. You know that Mama had little respect for Winston Rayne, right?" Maeve nodded, and Lissa continued, "Well, she positively despised Nuala Ryan. They tangled several times, usually over Philip."
"What was Philip's mom like? You told me that you named me after her...sort of. Did you ever meet the first Maeve?" the teenager asked and Lissa shook her head thoughtfully. Her younger sister continued, "Then why...?" Her voice trailed off and the teen frowned.
"I never met Philip's mother...well, actually I did. I met her at my aunt Alicia's funeral. I remember that she was very beautiful and very kind, and that she loved Philip very, very much. Well, she loved Michael as well, of course, but we're discussing Philip. As the years passed, I heard more and more about Maeve Callaghan from both Philip and my mother," Lissa explained, gently shaking her partner.
Sandy swatted at her hand, muttering, "Lemme sleep, Francis! I gotta work in the morning." Lissa motioned to Maeve to hand her the still-cold drink sitting on the teen's tray. When Maeve did so, Lissa lightly placed the cup against the side of Sandy's neck and the young woman came awake with a squeak. Lissa jerked back just in time to avoid being hit, and she returned the cup to Maeve.
"That was cruel," Maeve said as she placed the cup on her tray. Lissa shrugged with a smile, and Maeve continued, "I'm surprised at you!" Sandy was glaring at Lissa with death in her eyes, and Maeve said, "Please, wait until we're off the plane before you two get into it. I don't want our trip to Mexico to get off to a bad start."
"Don't worry, honey...Sandy won't do anything. She knows better than that," Lissa answered merrily. Her eyes were sparkling with laughter, and it took all of Maeve' self- control to keep from laughing herself.
"Witch. Ingrate," Sandy muttered as she straightened in her seat. Lissa merely smiled in response, winking at Maeve. Sandy continued, "I take it that's your way of paying me back for all the times when I embarrassed Philip? That's low, Elizabeth, that's really low."
"Trust me, Sandy," Lissa answered, "you'll know when I'm paying you back for Philip. That was just a wake-up." Sandy glared at her...and went chalk-white as the plane descended. Maeve looked at her sister's partner, concerned, and Lissa's amusement disappeared. She took Sandy's hand, murmuring, "This is why I woke you up. Hang on to me."
Maeve took Lissa's other hand, and the trio held onto each other as the wheels of the plane touched solid ground. Maeve was stunned to discover that Sandy's face was even whiter. Her lips were moving and Maeve wondered if she was praying. To the best of her knowledge, Sandy didn't believe in God...something which had always amazed Maeve. Not that she didn't believe in God...Maeve knew a lot of people who said they didn't. What amazed her was how well Lissa and Sandy got along, despite Sandy's alleged atheism.
Slowly, gradually, the plane slowed down. As it did, the color slowly returned to Sandy's face and Maeve was relieved to see her hand losing its tight grip on Lissa's hand. At last, the plane drew to a stop, and Lissa asked, "Are you okay, Sandy?" The other police detective nodded, swallowing hard as she relaxed in her seat, and Lissa continued, "Good. Let's wait for a few minutes, and let some of these other nice people out, then we'll get off.
Maeve was certain that this was as much to give Sandy a few minutes to compose herself as Lissa's consideration for the other passengers. Sandy replied, "I think I can handle that. How many times have you flown, Lissa? And no, that huge black helicopter in which you and Maeve arrived doesn't count!" Maeve grinned, remembering the helicopter ride from Angel Island to the airport. It was a lot different from her first helicopter ride, three months earlier!
"Mmm. Well, I flew to Northern Ireland when I was a year old with my mother, and back. That was my first actual meeting with Philip. I flew to Louisiana and back when I started college out there...I didn't get a travel- friendly car until I joined the force. And of course, I flew to Toronto and back in '90. So, I've flown about eleven times now," Lissa replied with a shrug.
The plane slowly emptied, and during that time, Lissa, Maeve, and Sandy organized their carryables...that was Lissa's turn for the things they actually carried onto the plane with them. At last, an older gentleman motioned the trio in front of him and said something in Spanish, which Maeve didn't understand. Lissa smiled and answered, "Gracias." She gave Maeve a gentle push, then followed with the still-shaken Sandy. Maeve looked back and saw that her sister's hand encircled her partner's wrist.
Once they emerged from the tunnel leading to the airport, they were greeted by a tall, handsome man. He smiled, approaching Lissa, and said, "I'm Javier Escobar, Detective Rayne...Detective Horowitz. It's a pleasure to meet you both. Are you Maeve Reynolds?" This last question made Maeve blush...she hadn't been expecting any attention from the man who would be their escort.
"Yes," she admitted shyly. Lissa put her arm around Maeve's shoulders, and the teenager continued, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lt. Escobar." She noticed Lissa's slightly exasperated expression and added, "I'm sorry... it's Teniente, isn't it? I'm taking French, not Spanish."
"No need to apologize, chiquita. And you may call me 'Javier.' I'm telling you this now, so you won't need to argue with your older sister later about showing respect to your elders. I have a daughter the same age as you," Javier Escobar replied, taking Maeve's hand and kissing it. Maeve could feel her face burn, and the police lieutenant turned to Lissa, continuing, "It's a pleasure to meet you. My friend Pablo Valdez has much respect for your father."
"My father has a great deal of respect for him as well. So, you know Dr. Valdez? I met him while I was attending college in Toronto. He spoke at length with my aunt, Molly Summers. That's probably why my father asked me to be the Luna Foundation's representative, even though I'm certain Dr. Valdez doesn't remember me," Lissa answered.
"You are quite wrong, Detective Rayne...Pablo remembers you very well. He told me that you said little, but observed much. Now, if you'll come this way, our car is waiting," Escobar said and they followed him. As they walked through the airport, Maeve found herself clinging to her sister like a child. She had absolutely no desire to get lost! Escobar continued, "And I've known Pablo for several years. I'm married to his sister. You'll meet her tonight- she wishes the three of you to join us for dinner."
"Why, thank you. That would be very nice. We're going directly to the police station?" Lissa asked and Escobar nodded as he led them to a station wagon. The three Americans piled into the car. Sandy got into the back seat, and Maeve decided to sit with her. Old habits died hard. Lissa took the front passenger side and continued once Escobar was in the car with them, "So, Teniente, how much do you know about this particular artifact?"
"Very little, Detective Rayne...and please, call me 'Javier.' You'll make me feel old if you continue to call me 'Teniente,' and I'm aging all too rapidly. Pablo has told me very little about this artifact, only that it's Mayan in origin. Very ancient," Escobar answered.
"Mmm. I can explain its significance over dinner if you like. And please, if you want us to call you 'Javier,' then you must call us 'Sandy' and 'Lissa.' In private, at least-I should maintain some degree of decorum," Lissa replied. Maeve could tell that Sandy had more or less recovered from the plane landing...a mischievous smile lit her face. Lissa had obviously noticed as well, for she said in a level voice, "Behave yourself, Alessandria."
"Lissa Rayne maintain decorum? Well, there's a first time for everything, I suppose. Just remember, I'm not the one living under the same roof as my parish priest," Sandy said. Maeve flinched, sinking as low into the car as she could. Not smart, Sandy, she thought, you know better than to comment on Lissa's relationship with Philip!
"You'll have to excuse Sandy, Javier. She is obsessed with my best friend, Philip. I've known him since we were both small children, and he's now a priest. Sandy still thinks there is more than friendship between us...something which can never be," Lissa replied. Her voice was like Northern tundra. Maeve, who had never been further north than Portland, still thought the saying was appropriate in this case. Especially given Sandy's expression.
Javier, bless his heart, answered smoothly, "It's a fortunate young priest who has a female confidante. But I'm sure you both are strong for each other, when it's needed most." Lissa nodded and Javier caught Maeve's expression in the rearview window...and winked. The teenager blushed, grinning, and Javier continued, "Now, if you'll pardon me, I will act as your tour guide. You're here on business, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the beauty of Mexico while you're here. Just remember, the businesses are closed during siesta. Now, Lissa, out your window..."
In San Francisco, Philip moved quickly through the halls of the hospital. At last, he reached the neo-natal care unit and slipped into the sanitary clothes provided by the young orderly. Out of breath, he joined the young couple at their daughter's bedside, and Philip's heart sank.
There were tears in the young mother's eyes as she tenderly stroked the cheek of her daughter, and Philip struggled with what to say. However, the mother, Diana, said, "It's a miracle, Father Philip...the doctors say she's going to be all right." For the first time, Philip looked at Diana's face and saw the joy there. He looked back at the baby...she was sleeping, not dead.
For several moments, he couldn't say anything, but at last, Philip managed to reply, "I've been prayin' for such a miracle. For you and for..." Philip's voice cracked, but he continued after a moment, once he regained his composure, "Forgive me, but I feared the worst when I received your phone call." The young couple looked at each other, consternation written clearly in both pairs of eyes.
"Father Philip, I am so sorry! I was just so excited by the improvement in Sabrina's condition. We called you down here so you could see her, and to thank you. I don't know what we would have done without you during the last few weeks," the father of the child, Bradley, said.
Philip had regained all of his composure by now, and he shook his head with a rueful smile, saying, "No, I'm just a little on edge today. A dear friend is flyin' to Mexico, and I'm a little worried about her. She's a police detective, and quite adept at takin' care of herself, but..."
"But you're still worried about her. We understand. It's just that sometimes, we forget that you have other parishioners. I hope you're still with St. Bart's when it comes time for Sabrina's first communion...for her Confirmation...for everything," Diana said.
"Well, we can only pray. Would...would you mind if I held her?" Philip asked almost shyly. It had been so long since he held a baby, not since his niece Erin's birth. And he had the feeling that if anything could take his mind off his concern for Lissa, Maeve, and Sandy, it would be holding this little baby, this precious little piece of the future.
"Of course, Father Philip! I've seen you with little ones...ohh, it's all right, my little one! This is Father Philip, Sabrina...say hello," Diana said as she picked up her daughter and placed Sabrina in Philip's arms. The young priest held the baby close, resting his cheek against her tiny forehead. Diana said softly, "You should have children of your own, Father Philip. It would be a great loss to the Church, but you would make a wonderful daddy."
Philip rolled his eyes and answered with a wry smile, "Bein' an uncle is enough of a challenge, Diana...but thank you kindly for the compliment. You and Bradley have the difficult job...raisin' this wee one, takin' care of her when she's sick, guidin' her when she's uncertain. I have the easy job, both as a priest and as an uncle."
Diana laughed, though Philip could see the sadness in her large dark eyes. Diana replied, "I'm sure you could meet any challenge you faced. A man with your strength and kind heart...I have faith in you, Father Philip." The priest smiled...that sounded like something Lissa would say.
At the Arkady compound, the big man known as 'Rafe' received his final instructions. He was leaving for Mexico, and he was to aid Darien Blume in the abduction of Lissa Rayne. As usual, Mr. Arkady spoke to him as one would a child, but Rafe didn't protest. It suited his purposes.
But as he walked to his employer's Jeep, Rafe quietly vowed to himself that if anyone actually took Lissa Rayne, he would be the one. Looking at pictures of the young woman brought back memories, of Rafe's lost daughters.
Lissa Rayne reminded him greatly of his oldest daughter, Victoria. She would have been twenty-two, if she were still alive, four years younger than Lissa Rayne. Physically, the two looked nothing alike...but the American detective had kind eyes, as Victoria had. Rafe knew that Darien was a misogynist. He knew that Darien would try to hurt Lissa Rayne, before they even reached Peru.
I cannot stop the abduction, Rafe thought as he started the Jeep, Mr. Arkady has too many people in Mexico City for that. But if I'm the one who actually captures Detective Rayne, I might be able to protect her...at least until her father gets to Peru, perhaps with Nick Boyle. Rafe never questioned that Dr. Rayne would come for his daughter...the big man would have moved heaven and earth to save his daughters, and Derek Rayne would do no less.
The phone rang in the study of the Legacy House, and Alex grabbed it, eyeing the clock. Lissa was supposed to be in Mexico City by now. She said breathlessly, not really caring if she sounded anxious, "Hello, Luna Foundation... this is Alex Moreau speaking."
"Hi, Alex, it's me...I hope you didn't run to the phone! That's dangerous, Xan!" Lissa said in a scolding tone. Alex nearly collapsed against Derek's desk, overwhelmed with relief. Her former roommate continued after a moment, "You didn't run to the phone, did you? You were practically sitting on top of it! Alexandra!" Alex began laughing, now certain that her friend was all right. Lissa continued, "I suppose I can't change you now, and I don't think I'd want to try. We're in, we're safe."
"I'm glad...and I wasn't sitting on top of the phone. I was just in the study, leaving some information for Derek, when you called. Philip is with that young couple he mentioned yesterday. He went tearing out of here like you wouldn't believe. Rachel is at the hospital, evaluating George. Are you at the airport?" Alex asked.
"No, we're at the police station. I hope that baby didn't die...Philip helped me with some last minute things early this morning, and he told me about it. I think he needed to talk, and I was the only one who was up at the time," Lissa explained. Alex nodded, though Lissa couldn't see her. The younger woman continued, "And do you really expect me to buy that you just happened to be in the study when I called? Xan, I know you better than that!"
"Oh, you think so, do you?" Alex teased, grinning broadly. Nick entered the study and the researcher mouthed, 'it's Lissa.' Nick smiled, obviously relieved, and Alex continued, still in that teasing voice, "What makes you think you know me better than that, Elizabeth Marie?"
"Oh, puh-leaze! Are you, or are you not, the same Alexandra Moreau who refused to leave for a date until she knew I was back in San Francisco safely? And are you, or are you not, the same Alexandra Moreau who would have stayed with me when I was sick, and missed my father's lecture, if I hadn't pushed you to go?" Lissa retorted.
"All right...all right, maybe I was waiting for you to call! But you're in Mexico City, and you're safe, and that's what really matters. Nick is standing right here, would you like to talk to him?" Alex asked. Nick started to back away, waving his hands, but the young woman glared at him. Not another step, buster! The ex-SEAL froze in his tracks.
"Sure, put him on...hey, while I'm still on the phone to you, I just wanted to say thanks. For listening to me ramble the other night. I was very tired, but I felt it needed to be said," Lissa said.
"That's what friends are for, kiddo. I know, I know, you hate being called 'kiddo.' You asked me if I was the same Alex Moreau whom you knew in college...I was just proving that I was," Alex replied, and was rewarded with soft laughter. She grinned, then said, "Here's Nick."
The young man took the phone, saying, "Hey, kiddo... all right, all right! Yeesh! You mean you have one set of rules for Alex, and another for me?" There was a long silence, then Nick laughed, continuing, "Oh, so there's one set of rules for Alex, another for me, another for Philip, and so on? Okay, I'm just glad you warned me!"
Alex laughed to herself as she finished straightening up the papers for Derek, then walked quickly from the room. On her way to the library, she met Derek and explained quietly, "Lissa is on the phone...she's talking to Nick, but I'm sure she'd like to talk to you as well. I have to make sure I have everything packed for the trip to Washington." Derek nodded and Alex continued upstairs. She still couldn't shake her unease, but she would have to trust Lissa.
Darien Blume watched Lissa Rayne. Her head was bent as she talked to whoever on the phone, and Darien fantasized about blowing her head off right now, in front of the entire police station. A dreamy smile crossed his face...oh, that was so tempting! To just end her life, here and now.
He felt a pair of eyes burning into him, and Darien looked up to discover Lissa Rayne's younger sister, Maeve Reynolds, glaring at him. She was only about fourteen, but evidently, she had seen the way he was looking at her sister.
Maybe I should take that little bitch out first, Darien thought, though it would be a pity to waste such a pretty little girl. Maeve Reynolds had dark brown hair, shoulder length and glossy, with a fair complexion, and brown eyes. Darien had never had such a young one before, and his heart rate quickened at the thought. His fantasies were rudely interrupted when Javier Escobar grasped his shoulder and spun him around. Escobar maintained a tight grip on his shoulder as he whispered, "You lay a finger on that child, Darien, and I will rip out your guts with my bare hands."
Darien stared up at the Mexican police lieutenant, who continued, "And once I'm finished with you, I'll let Lissa do whatever she wishes with you. One thing you need to know about Elizabeth Rayne. She protects those whom she loves. And even though Maeve isn't her sister by blood, Lissa loves that girl with all of her heart. Remember that."
Escobar released him with a contemptuous look and joined the American detective. Darien glared at his retreating back, then realized that he had attracted the attention of Sandy Horowitz. The other American slipped closer to Maeve, and put a protective hand on her shoulder, staring at Darien all the while. She's the first one to die, he finally decided, after Escobar, the wop dies first. But they're all going to pay for failing to recognize greatness!
After returning to the rectory, Philip busied himself in every way he could think of, doing whatever had to be done, just so he wouldn't worry about Lissa. A soft voice asked from the doorway, "Are you all right, Philip? I know the Nguyen baby is safe...Diana called me earlier."
Philip looked up and smiled wearily as Father Luke Quinlan entered the office. Luke returned the smile and asked gently, "It's Lissa Rayne, isn't it? I know you're worried about her. It's a perfectly natural reaction, when you find your best friend after nearly twenty years."
"That's part of it, Luke," Philip admitted, "but I'm troubled by the bishop's reaction to her. He's known her since she was a child, he baptized her...he even asked her to look after me when I first arrived at St. Bart's. So why is he treatin' her as if she's the whore of Babylon?"
"Because Bishop Douglas fears her power, Philip. Up until now, aside from Alex Moreau, you've had no close female friends. The bishop is afraid that your friendship will deepen into something more. And so, he hopes to drive you apart again," Luke answered. The older man sat down on top of the desk, taking a deep breath.
"Lissa and I are friends, nothin' more! We've known each other for years...is this about Ellen? Does the bishop think I would allow somethin' like that to happen again?" Philip asked, pain shooting through his heart when he mentioned the woman's name. Luke put his hand on his shoulder compassionately and Philip whispered, "He does."
"I know you, Philip. I know the only way you would leave the priesthood is if you were forced out. Sadly, our bishop has an obsessive personality. You've never noticed it because he chooses not to let you see it. But it's there. Bishop Douglas has become obsessed with keeping you in the priesthood," Luke replied.
The older man paused, then continued, "I've watched you over the last three years, Philip. You're not a priest who thrives on the attention of women...if anything, it frightens you. But you don't hate women. Your friendships with Lissa Rayne and Alex Moreau, your gentleness with Diana Nguyen, proves that. What I'm trying to say is, I will testify to your character, should the need ever arise."
Luke paused again, then added, "Hopefully, it will never come to that. But beware, my young friend. Bishop Douglas isn't a graceful loser, and if he believes he's lost you, he'll try to destroy Lissa." Luke slipped from the room, and Philip sat back. For the first time since his arrival at St. Bart's, the young priest was afraid of his bishop.
What is this idiocy, Winston raged after Luke left, My granddaughter is in danger from that buffoon Arkady, and I must protect my grandson as well? Technically, of course, young Philip wasn't related to Winston, but Derek looked upon the boy as his son...and if Derek regarded Philip as a son, then he was Winston's grandson.
Winston had gone to St. Bartholomew's, hoping that he could somehow warn Philip about the danger to Lissa. The boy didn't have the Sight, per se, but he could sense things. Instead, Winston had been treated to a meeting between his grandson and one of his older colleagues, a Father Luke.
That fool of a bishop kept my granddaughter from her family for years, Winston raged, and now he's trying to separate those children again! It was unthinkable! If that moron Reynolds hadn't been so set on revenge against Fiona, Winston was sure that Philip and Lissa would now be married. Derek wouldn't have to worry about keeping Philip in the Legacy, because the Church wouldn't have a claim on him.
You don't know that, Winston. No one does know, for certain. Winston sighed, hearing his wife Anna's voice from beyond the veil. He had chosen to stay in limbo, hoping to atone for his sins against his children.
However, he could still hear Anna's voice. She was right, of course...his gentle Anna had rarely been wrong. Winston smiled in spite of himself. Not that she had been very gentle when he arrived in Limbo...it took him nearly two mortal years to stop smarting from her tongue lashing, deserved as it was, concerning his treatment of Derek.
However, Derek wasn't the issue at the moment. Winston flinched when he heard Anna retort, her Dutch accent thickening with annoyance, Oh, do stop that, Winston! We both know that this is as much about Derek as it is about Lissa! Try to warn Philip about the danger to Lissa... until the bishop actually behaves foolishly, there is nothing you can do to help Philip. The poor boy doesn't believe the bishop would ever actually do something so stupid.
Once more, Winston acknowledged his wife's wisdom and turned his attention to reaching Philip. The boy didn't have the Sight, he didn't 'hear' things. Which gave Winston very few options. Then he spotted the pen in Philip's hand. Of course, he thought, I should have realized it sooner!
Philip returned his attention to his paperwork, still disturbed by his conversation with Luke Quinlan. It only took him a few minutes to realize he wasn't alone in the room...a chill went down his spine and Philip turned in his seat. Whatever was with him, wasn't human. Was it?
When Philip turned back around, he received a shock. Written on a tablet, in his own handwriting, was a message. "Lissa is in danger. Warn Derek that the danger comes not from Hitchcock. Protect my granddaughter!"
Even though the room was comfortably warm, Philip began sweating. The hand-writing was his, definitely. But the message wasn't his. Lissa had four grandparents...Winston Rayne, Anna van Heusen Rayne, and the Summers grandparents. Philip didn't know their names, but he didn't think the warning came from Lissa's maternal grandparents.
Which leaves either Winston or Anna, he thought. Anna has been dead for more than forty years...she died shortly after Derek was born. And I never met her. On the other hand, according to Da, Mum, and Derek, Winston was there when I was born...he drove Mum to the hospital when she went into labor. And Lissa was born only a year after he was killed in Peru. If the message came from anyone, it came from him. Without any more delay, Philip grabbed his jacket and ran from the rectory. Derek had to know about this.
Good boy, Winston thought approvingly, I might have known that a child raised by my son would know better than to ignore that warning! He was quite pleased with himself for remembering his ability to get inside an embryonic psychic and use them as a medium.
Do not rest on your wreath yet, husband, Anna warned, mixing her metaphors as usual, until Elizabeth is home and safe with Derek, your self-appointed job as her guardian angel is not done. Winston started to protest, but Anna continued, You know I am right, my darling...you chose to protect Elizabeth. And until she is safe with her family, you cannot abandon her. Not to worry...I will stay with you until that time comes.
Continued on the next page
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