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Derek stared out of the window, absently twirling the olive around in his empty glass. He was watching the rain come down outside. When they had arrived a few hours ago, it had just been a drizzle, but now it was really starting to pour. The concert had gone very well. It was amazing what Gerald had accomplished in such a short time! But Derek had been up since 5:00 am, and he was tired.
He leaned wearily against a pillar, and turned his head at the sound of his name. "Derek? Here, I got you a refill." Rachel handed him a glass of champagne as Derek placed his empty martini glass on the tray of a passing waiter. "I really shouldn't...I've had several already."
"Why not?" Rachel asked as she settled on the divan, smoothing out the wrinkles in her burgundy dress. "Nick has volunteered to be our 'designated driver' this evening." Her tone became more serious, "Besides, you deserve to relax some -- and I mean that. You've only been back from Costa Rica for ... how long? Three weeks? And you've done enough work for two men in that time! I'm starting to worry about you."
Derek took a sip of champagne and resumed his study of the rainstorm. "So, are you speaking as my friend or as my doctor? I'm just tired, that's all. And I don't need a keeper."
Rachel tilted her head slightly and looked at him thoughtfully, "Maybe you don't think so...Well, anyway, did you enjoy the concert?"
Grateful for the change in subject, Derek sat down next to her on the divan. "Very much! The Youth Orchestra has come so far since Gerald took over."
Rachel nodded, "That's true. I hope that Katherine will want to do this one day. She really seems to enjoy music -- I know that she's been enjoying her piano lessons. Thank you again for teaching her." Derek smiled, "It's been my pleasure, but she is definitely ready for a real instructor."
Rachel returned his smile, her eyes twinkling, "but you taught Philip, didn't you? And look at how that turned out!" Derek groaned, rolling his eyes toward the ceiling, "Please, don't remind me! Let's just hope that he is content with saving his 'talent' for the youngsters in his parish!"
Derek had never quite been able to understand Philip's inability to produce any music (from any instrument) that didn't make him want to cover his ears! Derek stood up. "Come on, let's find Alex and Nick. It looks like Gerald is wrapping things up." Setting their empty glasses on the table, Derek took Rachel's elbow and gracefully guided her through the crowd to stand by Alex and Nick near the front.
Although Gerald Simons had only been the director for the Youth Symphony for about year, he had made remarkable progress and he knew it. And now he was in his element -- playing host to some of the city's biggest patrons of the arts. He was just finishing up his little speech "... and so I'd like to thank everyone here for their support of the Youth Symphony this year, and for attending our little fund-raiser. There are a few people that I would like to especially thank." He indicated two people standing slightly off to his left, "First of all, our two accompanists for this performance -- Byron Munroe and Leigh McCallister."
Derek recognized the two from the concert -- they had been the only two adults on the stage, other than Gerald. The man, Byron, was tall and slender with white-blond hair and looked to be about 35. He had been the principal cellist on the first two compositions that the orchestra had played. Derek thought that he had seen him before -- he probably played with the adult version of the local orchestra. The woman was younger -- about 25 -- with long, reddish hair pulled back from her face and curling gently around her shoulders. She had accompanied the group on both piano and harpsichord, and Derek had never seen her before.
The woman had been leaning over and talking into the ear of a small, white-haired old lady. As she heard her name, she straightened up, turned, and acknowledged the group with a smile. She looked in Derek's direction, and briefly made eye contact. In that instant, Derek felt an all-too-familiar chill start between his shoulders -- but that's as far as it went, and the sensation faded. Should I know this woman? Or something about her?
Gerald continued to speak, "And, finally, I would like to thank the Luna Foundation for its support -- where's Derek? Ah, there you are, my friend! Thank you for your continued generosity!" Gerald lifted his glass to Derek in a mock toast. Tearing his eyes away and turning his gaze toward Gerald, Derek shrugged his shoulders slightly and returned Gerald's toast.
The party was breaking up, and it was clear that the storm wasn't about to quit. As she slipped her arms into the coat Derek was holding, Rachel asked "Where's Nick? He has the keys." Searching for her coat on the rack, Alex said, smiling "Nick's on his way -- he was looking for a pen. I think he may be getting someone's telephone number!"
Nick joined them at that moment, hastily stuffing a piece of paper into his tuxedo pocket. "Okay, okay, I'm ready -- let's go. Hey, when did all that rain start??" He scowled at the sheets of rain coming down, and then turned to his friends. "Tell you what, give me your umbrella, Rachel, and I'll get the car and pick you guys up right here."
Taking off his jacket and handing it to Derek, Nick took the umbrella from Rachel, "I don't suppose you have an umbrella that doesn't have ruffles on it, do you? No? I didn't think so -- must be my lucky day. I hope that girl I just met doesn't see this!" With that, he sprinted out of the door toward the parking lot -- followed by the sound of his friends' laughter.
As Derek watched through the doors for Nick, others were trying to dash out to their cars. Jostled by an escaping party of six, he stepped back and bumped into someone, dropping Nick's jacket in the process. It was the red-haired woman -- Leigh McCallister, that Gerald had introduced earlier. She stooped down to rescue Nick's jacket at the same time as Derek, and their hands touched.
Straightening slowly, he looked up and met her eyes. Blue? No, green. No, blue. And felt that peculiar shift in perspective. His vision clouded and her face was replaced with a series of visions -- squealing tires; an explosion; and an image of her, battered and bloody, kneeling by the side of the road. Horrified by what he saw, Derek shook his head and tried (unsuccessfully) to speak.
Smiling, Leigh released her hold on Nick's jacket. "Well, I see you've got this. Try not to drop it again -- it would be a shame for it to get wet and ruined!" and with that, she scooted out the door and ran up to a dark sedan. The cellist -- Byron -- was driving and leaned across the seat to open the passenger door. Leigh jumped in, slammed the door, and the car sped off into the driving rain.
Derek had been left standing at the door staring rather stupidly at Nick's jacket. Realizing what had happened, Alex immediately went to his side. She took his arm -- steadying him as he swayed slightly. She asked him quietly "Derek, what is it? What did you See? Something about that woman?"
If this had been the first time, Alex would have been alarmed to see that his eyes had a faintly glassy look and that it took a moment for him to register who was speaking to him. Rachel was alarmed. In spite of her recent experiences with the Legacy, she was still a bit unnerved by such an obvious display of Derek's Sight.
His head finally clearing, Derek grabbed Alex roughly by her shoulders, "Where did she go? Which way? We must stop her -- she's in terrible danger!" He released her and ran out into the rain, looking around for the vehicle that had driven off. Alex and Rachel followed him out into the storm, and Alex tried to calm him. "Derek, Nick'll be here with the car any second -- you can't go after her on foot!"
As Nick drove up to where the three were standing in the rain, Derek ran up to the driver's side, gesturing at Nick to lower the window. "Did you see that car that just left? We must follow them - something terrible is going to happen!"
Nick, trusting Derek's intuition, nodded and said, "Get in." By the time Derek had gone back around to the passenger door, Alex and Rachel had already climbed into the back seat of the Range Rover. Nick put the vehicle into gear and headed out, asking "So, what kind of car are we looking for? Derek? Anyone?"
Trying to wipe the water out of his eyes, Derek glanced anxiously at the two women, "Did either of you see? I didn't realize what was happening until I heard the door slam shut." Rachel and Alex looked at each other helplessly. "I don't know, Derek," Alex said slowly. "It was a sedan -- four door, I think." "And dark" Rachel added. "Dark blue or maybe green. No, it was blue -- I think." Nick groaned, "That's not good enough! We'll never find it if we don't know what we're searching for. Think!"
Alex shook her head, sending little drops of water all over the inside of the car. "I'm sorry Nick. It happened so fast, and with the rain and all ... we just don't know." Nick looked over at his friend to see him still staring into the darkness. "Derek? What do you want to do? We're going nowhere fast." Derek turned to look at him, and after a moment, sadly shook his head.
As they returned to the castle, Nick had barely enough time to turn the ignition off before Derek had thrown open the door and headed slowly up the walk. After deciding to abandon the search, he had described to them exactly what had happened. He had rejected Alex's suggestion that his vision might have been of something that only might happen.
Alex climbed out after him, still trying. "But, Derek, you told me yourself that sometimes visions show us only one of many possible futures. Couldn't that be the case here? And your Sight could be affected by the fact that you've been under so much stress lately -- we all know that you're exhausted." Rachel and Nick caught up with them and Rachel added, "Sure, couldn't that be it? That and the champagne you drank might have impaired your ability."
Derek stopped, paused, and turned slowly around to face the trio. He looked into the eyes of each, his gaze coming to rest on Rachel's. Then he said, quietly, "No, that cannot be possible. I am not that much like my father." And he turned and continued into the castle without another word.
Philip was reading in the library when he heard the door open. He had been relaxing after spending the evening playing board games (most of which he had lost) with Katherine. We've got to get some of the parish children up here to play with her. It's not good for her to be surrounded by adults all the time. At the sound of the door, he put down his manuscript, and headed toward the front entry way.
"So, how was the ..." Philip's question was cut short when he rounded the corner and saw his friend and mentor. Dripping wet, his hair rumpled, and his clothes in disarray, Derek made a sorry sight. Silently, he continued up the stairs to his rooms, closing the door firmly behind him.
The others came in a moment later, and Rachel was obviously upset. "What did I say? Why did he mean by that?" Alex and Nick exchanged a look, and Alex explained "It's not you, Rachel. It's Winston. Even after all these years, that old man still has a grip on Derek. It's not your fault - you couldn't have known. What are you doing, Nick?"
Nick finished shrugging on his flak jacket and gave her a direct stare. "What's it look like? I'm putting on a dry coat so I can go back out. I have to try to find that car - I owe it to Derek. Get Philip caught up on what's happened - this probably isn't over."
The next morning --
The rain had cleared up overnight, and the sun was coming in through the windows. Alex was standing at the window sipping tea and was thinking how clean the gardens looked. Rachel and Philip sat at the long table having breakfast. After what had happened the night before, no one really felt much like talking. Derek came into the room and, after a slight hesitation in the doorway, moved over to the buffet. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down in his usual chair at the head of the table. Looking around at the others, he asked "Where's Nick?"
Rachel looked up from the biscuit she was buttering and replied quietly, "He's probably still asleep -- he went out again last night and didn't get back until very late." When Derek made no response, she looked helplessly at Philip and mouthed the words "you try."
As Philip took another swallow of coffee and tried to think of something to say to his friend, a member of the household staff appeared with a tray and the morning paper. She set both down in front of Derek, with a "Good morning, Dr. Rayne." Derek gave her a nod and responded, "Good morning, Mirriam. And thank you."
Derek reached for a slice of toast, and Philip took a deep breath and began, "About last night, Derek ..." but Derek interrupted him immediately.
"I have no intention of discussing last night" he said coldly as he picked up the paper and opened it to the front page. "I'll thank you all not to mention it again . . ." Derek's words trailed off into silence as he read the headline in the paper.
"Single Car Accident Claims One Life -- Critically Injures Another"
Derek felt the blood drain from his face, and he slowly put down the paper. He rose to his feet and pushed the chair back from the table. "Please, excuse me --" he said weakly as he headed for the study.
Rachel, Alex, and Philip all watched as Derek left the room, and then looked at each other. Philip rose from his chair and moved over to look at the headline. "Oh, Lord in Heaven, I was afraid it would be something like this." He quickly read the first few sentences, "Apparently, there was an accident involving the two people you were tellin' me about last night."
"And?" Alex moved away from the window to stand behind Rachel's chair. "What happened?"
Philip continued to scan the article, "It says here that the vehicle was run off the road, probably by a drunk driver. It crashed through a guard rail and went into a ravine. The driver was killed instantly. The passenger was found a couple of hours later after she managed to crawl out of the ravine up to the road. Police are continuing to investigate." He set the paper back down on the table.
Alex sighed as she sank into Philip's chair. "And I bet I know what Derek's thinking. If only he could've stopped them before they drove away ..."
"He needs to talk about this" said Rachel, shaking her head. "So that he knows that it's not his fault."
Philip was already on his way out of the room. "Let me go." I know how he is feeling -- better than anyone else.
Philip knocked gently, and eased the door of the study open. "Derek?" he called softly. "Derek, let me talk to you." Philip closed the door behind him and approached Derek's desk. The precept was seated behind his desk, busily writing on a tablet in front of him. "What are you doing?"
Without looking up from his work, Derek replied "Finishing up my notes from my trip to Costa Rica -- I should have done that days ago. Then I need to analyze that scroll from Sri Lanka. And then I'm going to answer that letter from the Medicine Man in Oklahoma. So, if you'll excuse me..."
Shaking his head, Philip sat down in the chair in front of Derek's desk. He settled in, leaned back and crossed his legs. Clasping his hands around one knee, he said "You know, I don't have anything to do that's so important that I'm leavin' this room before you talk about this."
Irritated, Derek glared at the priest, "I don't recall asking for your counsel, Father" and resumed his writing. Philip returned his look, but said nothing.
After several long minutes with no sound other than Derek's pen and the shuffling of papers, he stopped writing. Setting down the pen, Derek closed his notebook and set it aside. He placed his elbows on the desk, resting his head in his hands. Without looking up, he asked "You're not going to leave, are you?"
"No," Philip replied, "I'm not." He uncrossed his legs and leaned forward, "Are you ready for my "counsel"? I can even go get my collar, if you like. Would that make this any easier for you?" Philip made a motion as if to stand.
Derek gestured for him to sit back down. "No, no, I'm sorry -- that was an ugly thing to say. You saw the paper?"
Philip nodded, "Yes. It's a tragic thing. I suppose you feel responsible?"
Derek sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Of course I feel responsible! How could I not? If I could have talked with that couple, before they left ... warned them..." He stopped and took a deep breath.
"According to Alex, you did try to warn them - only they had already left. And, did you know that Nick went back out into the rain last night looking for them?" Philip asked. "So you see, between you and Nick, you did everything you could."
Derek shook his head. "Yes, well, it wasn't enough. It seems like it's never enough! You know, Philip, I manage this House and I lead you people into danger all the time. And even though I know in here" he tapped his temple with his finger "that we are accomplishing things, sometimes I wonder in here" he tapped his chest, over his heart "if it's ever going to be enough."
Philip smiled faintly and nodded his head slowly. "I think I know exactly what you mean. As a priest, I wonder that all the time. But we do what we can, Derek. One man cannot right all the wrongs of the world, nor can he keep evil from happening." Philip stood. "A very old friend told me that once" he said pointedly. "It's taken me a long time to learn that lesson. I hope that you will heed those words sooner than I did."
Philip moved toward the door. "As for your remark about Winston ... I think that you need to look within yourself and ask yourself why he still haunts you. I mean that figuratively, of course." He paused before opening the door, "And I hope you'll come to me -- collar or no collar -- if you need anything else. Don't you see, Derek? We all care about you."
Philip slipped back out into the hallway, gently closed the door, and then leaned back against it, eyes closed. Dear God, please watch over my friend Derek and let him know that he's not alone.
Seven Months Later --
Mass had just finished, and Derek stood by the door in the alcove of the Church waiting for Philip. I wonder what he wants? It's not very often that he calls upon me for help -- usually it's the other way around. Derek smiled and nodded politely to several old ladies passing through, and opened the door for them. After several more minutes, he finally spied Philip coming down the hall.
Derek reached out a hand that was clasped firmly and warmly by the priest. Philip smiled and absently brushed a wayward lock of his dark hair back from his forehead, saying "Derek! Thank you for comin' so quickly. You're looking well." That's an understatement! He's finally lost those dark circles under his eyes. And he looks as though he's even put on a little weight. What a difference a few months can make.
Derek returned the smile "As are you, Father. You message has me intrigued. What is all this about?"
Philip gave a very slight shake of his head as a group of teen-aged girls came through the door -- giggling as they passed by the young priest. Somehow suppressing the urge to roll his eyes, Philip held the door open, gesturing an amused Derek through. "Let's walk outside for a bit."
As the two men walked about the grounds surrounding the Church, Philip told Derek about his meeting the day before with an elderly member of his parish -- a widow, Mrs. Lydia McCallister Broome. Her family had attended the church for as long as anyone could remember, and they had always been generous with their gifts -- both monetary and otherwise. Somehow, she had known of Philip's association with the Legacy, and had asked him if he would bring the precept to see her.
As they crossed the bridge spanning the pond, Philip stopped and leaned back against the white rail, his hands in his pockets. "It seems as though she has a relative who needs our help. A great-niece, I believe. Do you know Mrs. Broome?"
Derek shook his head thoughtfully, "No, I don't believe so. The name sounds familiar, though. What about the niece? What kind of help does she need?"
Philip gave him a wary look and replied "Mrs. Broome believes that the girl has shown evidence of developing the Sight as a result of a terrible accident ... seven months ago. She was nearly killed."
Derek looked at him thoughtfully, then made the connection. "McCallister? You mean, the woman from the symphony? After all this time??" He leaned his arms against the rail and gazed out over the water. "I had wondered about what happened to her. I just couldn't bring myself to..."
"It seems as though your paths were meant to cross again." Philip looked curiously at his friend's face, "Are you all right with this?"
Silently, Derek studied the water. "Yes," he said finally, straightening up, and looking at his friend. "Obviously there's something left to be done regarding this woman -- Leigh, isn't it?" Philip nodded. "When us Mrs. McCallister expecting us?"
The two began walking back toward the sanctuary. "As soon as you're available. I thought that you might want to see her immediately." Philip stopped and put his hand on Derek's shoulder. "I'm sorry if this is going to be difficult for you."
Derek gave him a small smile, saying "Well, we do what we can, isn't that right? Come on, the car's parked right over there."
At the Broome House --
The Broome house was spacious and beautiful and sat on several acres of perfectly manicured lawn. As he entered the home, Derek absently noted the fine furnishings -- from the mint-condition antiques to the hand-loomed Persian rug. He and Philip were ushered into a quaint sitting room by a middle-aged woman in a crisp uniform. "Mrs. Broome" she said formally "will be in very shortly." She indicated that they should be seated on the sofa, and left the room.
On the ride over to the Broome house, Philip had given Derek all the details he could remember. Mrs. Broome was about 87 years old, and Leigh, 27, was her great-niece. In the accident, the driver had been killed instantly. Leigh had been thrown from the vehicle, and had somehow managed to eventually crawl up out of the ravine. She was spotted by a passing motorist kneeling on the side of the road. The police speculated that it was several hours before she was able to get help. Her right shoulder had been fractured, and she had suffered a severe concussion. The police never determined who had run them off the road.
Perching on the edge of the sofa, Derek looked up expectantly at the still-standing Philip, who shrugged his shoulders and sat down next to him.
At that moment, Mrs. Broome entered the room, walking slowly but confidently with the aid of a cane. The two men rose as she approached her chair. Lydia McCallister Broome had obviously been a great beauty in her youth. She was a rather small woman, but her posture was only slightly stooped by the passing years. She was tastefully dressed and her fluffy white hair was piled elegantly on her head - the epitome of dignity and gracefulness. "Good Day, Father Callaghan" she said as she settled into her chair. "Please sit, and introduce me to your associate."
Philip gestured toward Derek as they both sat down. "Mrs. Broome, this is Dr. Derek Rayne, Chairman of the Luna Foundation."
Derek gently shook her hand "It's a pleasure to meet you, madam." This is no senile old woman. Sick, I think, but her mind's as sharp as ever.
As Derek released her hand, Mrs. Broome sat back and regarded him silently. Derek resisted the urge the squirm -- he was sure that she was somehow analyzing him. "You don't remember me, do you?" She said, finally. "I didn't think you would -- you were quite young when I saw you last. Just a child, really."
As her servant entered the room with a tea cart, Mrs. Broome continued, ignoring Derek's arched brow. "Your mother Barbara was a friend of my Marta -- from finishing school, of course. You have your mother's eyes."
"Thank you, Mrs. Broome. I believe that being compared to my mother, in any way, is a compliment in the highest form. Marta was your daughter?" Derek accepted a cup of tea and settled back on the sofa as Philip poured honey and cream into his cup.
"Yes. She and her husband Joseph were friends of Barbara and Winston -- or, at least, as much friends as Winston would ever allow them to have," she said as she waved the servant away. "I'll get this for now, Heloise, please leave." The woman frowned slightly, but left.
As soon as the door was closed, Lydia put her tea cup down, and folded her hands in her lap. Giving Philip a glance, she said bluntly, "I don't know how much Father Callaghan has told you, Dr. Rayne ... but I am dying."
At this surprising remark, Derek glanced sharply at Philip, who protested "Mrs. Broome, you know that I would not divulge private information given to me by one of my parishioners without ..."
"No," Lydia interrupted brusquely, waving her hand at him, "Of course not. But, it's true -- all the same. I must talk with you about my great-niece. She has been through a terrible ordeal, and I believe that the Legacy is the only thing that can preserve her sanity. I am not going to be around much longer, and one thing I must do before I go is to help Leigh." Her tone softened, "You see, Marta and Joseph never had any children, and Leigh is like a granddaughter to me. What's happening to her is obvious to me, but those thick-skulled doctors refuse to believe."
"Mrs. Broome, I'm sure that Leigh has received the best medical care available. What is it about her doctors doings that makes you so ... suspicious?" Derek said, setting his empty cup on the cart.
Lydia took a deep breath and thought for a moment -- choosing her words carefully. "Dr. Rayne, Derek, when I was a child, I realized that I could See things that others couldn't -- I could tell things about a person just by looking at them. My parents recognized this and were able to help me treat my ability as an asset rather than a liability." She gave him a knowing look, "And I know that you share a similar talent -- it's as obvious to me as the sun shining."
Lydia continued, "As far as I knew, I was the last person in my family to have any such ability. Until now. I believe that Leigh is now the beneficiary of such a gift."
"And you were saying about her doctors?" Philip prompted, gently.
Lydia's eyes became hard. "Those fools -- not everything can be explained with science, you know. After her accident, Leigh's physical injuries began to heal, but she began having other problems. She had trouble sleeping, and couldn't concentrate, and had to take a leave of absence from her job at the laboratory. But, most importantly, she has become more and more hyper-sensitive to others around her. Those doctors can explain away the insomnia and attention deficiency, but they are at a loss to diagnose someone who can barely remain the room with another person without going mad."
Lydia stopped to take a breath, and Derek interjected, "What was their diagnosis?"
"That's the worst part," Lydia said angrily. "They were convinced that she suffered from some form of psychosis -- and they nearly had her believing that foolishness. Their solution was to medicate her into a stupor. But, I saw what was happening, and decided to find her help myself. Please, you must help her. I am the only person she can bear to be around -- although I don't know why."
Derek nodded, and gently took Lydia's hand. "I suspect, Mrs. Broome, that you -- having lived your entire life with a psychic gift -- are used to 'protecting' or 'shielding' your thoughts and feelings. Most people with the Sight share this same trait. And I believe that Leigh's new 'gift' will continue to be like an exposed nerve until we can help her."
"As soon as possible, I'd like to have an associate of mine examine Leigh. Her name is Dr. Rachel Corrigan and she is a board-certified psychiatrist."
As Mrs. Broome started to protest, Philip assured her, "Dr. Corrigan may be a doctor, Mrs. Broome, but she is also a member of the Legacy. You can trust her -- I give you my word."
Lydia gave them a grateful look and rose from her chair, reaching for her cane. "Now, I would like for you to meet my niece. She is in the library upstairs."
The two men followed Lydia as she slowly made her way from the room. They were surprised to see that there was a small elevator to take them to the second floor. As they exited the elevator, Lydia led them down a long hall to the library. The library was an irregular-shaped room with lots of windows to let in sunlight and warmth. Shelves of books covered the walls between the windows.
Leigh lay sleeping on a divan near one of the windows, her lap covered with a soft, brown blanket. Lydia approached her, leaned over and tenderly brushed a strand of red hair away from her face. "Leigh, darling, it's Aunt Lydia. I've brought someone here to help you."
Leigh shifted slightly and opened her eyes, smiling at Lydia. Her smile faded, however, when she noticed the two men in room. Clutching the blanket to her chest, she struggled to sit up, beginning to panic. Philip saw her distress and approached the divan, kneeling near her head, saying gently "Leigh, I am Father Philip Callaghan, and this is my friend Derek. Your aunt has asked us to help you." Philip reached for her hand, but she grasped the blanket even tighter and closed her eyes tightly. Poor lamb, she's really terrified!
Philip tried again. "Please, Leigh, look at me. We're here to help you. It doesn't have to be this way. Look at me, and you'll know that I'm telling the truth."
Derek moved past Lydia to sit on the edge of the sofa. "Leigh, your aunt would not have asked us here if she thought we would hurt you in any way. You trust her, don't you?"
Leigh's eyes opened and she looked up at Lydia, who has nodding. She looked warily at Philip and then at Derek. Returning her gaze to Philip, she shook her head in confusion -- bringing her hands to either side of her face. "Help me?" she said softly. "I'm sorry ... I just don't know what to think anymore -- I'm so tired of having all these people in my head all the time..."
Philip reached for her hand again, and this time Leigh allowed him to clasp it between his own.
"You don't hear either of us in your head, now do you?" Derek asked. Leigh cocked her head to the side as if she were listening. Her eyes widened, and she shook her head. Derek smiled gently, "No, I didn't think so. Do you believe now that we can help you?" Leigh nodded slowly, squeezing Philip's hand.
Derek rose from the divan. "Good, now we must make arrangements for getting you better." He looked at Lydia. "Your grandmother and I are going to see what must be done." Like getting her off those damn drugs, to start. "Father Callaghan, will you tell our new friend a little about the Legacy while I talk with Mrs. Broome for a moment? Mrs. Broome?"
Derek stepped into the hall. He leaned against the wall, eyes closed, and sighed deeply. "Dr. Rayne, are you all right?" Lydia asked as she made her way outside the library.
Derek nodded and opened his eyes. "Yes, Mrs. Broome. And I think that we're going to be able to help your niece."
Leigh's Aunt Lydia and Derek had immediately begun making plans to transfer her to the Legacy house on the island. Derek had contacted Rachel at Mercy hospital to access Leigh's medical records and make sure that taking her to the island would be safe. It had taken nearly an hour, but Rachel was finally to give them her approval. Lydia had packed a bag for Leigh so that she would have clothing and a few personal possessions, and Derek and Philip had settled her safely into Derek's black Jaguar sedan.
The ride back to the island had taken just a few minutes over an hour. Derek had been concerned about her 'exposure' during the drive, but Leigh had spent the trip nestled comfortably against Philip in the back seat asleep, his arm protectively around her. Twice, during a few moments of heavy traffic, Leigh had shifted and shown signs of waking. Each time, Philip had stroked her hair and had murmured to her soothingly so that she would settle back into her sedated sleep.
After their arrival at the castle, Derek had carried Leigh to a bedroom on an upper floor, depositing her gently on the antique bed. At that point, Alex and Rachel had taken over -- unceremoniously escorting Derek to the door and closing it firmly in his face.
Laughing at his friend's surprised look, Philip said "Well, I think that we should take that as a sign that we're not wanted OR needed, eh Derek?" Philip started for the stairway. "Come on downstairs, I'll buy you some dinner."
Downstairs, the two men were grateful to discover that dinner had been prepared and was still hot. They were just finishing up a second helping when Rachel and Alex joined them.
"Well, she's all settled in -- she ought to sleep straight through 'til tomorrow" Alex said in response to Derek's questioning look. "I'll peek in on her before I go to bed just to make sure she's all right."
Rachel poured herself a cup of coffee. "Since Katherine and I are staying here during the school break, I'll be able to keep a close eye on her, Derek." she said as she sat down next to him. She thoughtfully turned the warm cup in her hands, "What are you planning to do next?"
Shaking his head, Derek replied, "I'm not really sure. I think that the first thing we need to do is determine her physical condition, but after that...Any ideas, Alex?"
"Sure!" Alex said eagerly, "I'll start looking into the Legacy records to see if this situation has happened before, and then I'll check with some of the other houses, and then I'll..."
Derek held up a restraining hand, smiling, "All right, I can see you're ready to get started. If you need any help, ask Nick." He placed his folded napkin on the table and stood, dismissing them. "We'll discuss our findings in the morning. I'll be in my office. Good Night."
Leigh slept all that night, and through the next day, her mind gradually breaking through the fog which filled her. She began to dream.
Leigh bolted upright in the bed, her heart racing. She glanced wildly around for a moment before she realized that she wasn't actually outside, but was in a room. It was dark, but a tiny lamp gave off just enough gentle light that she could see around. Leigh rubbed her eyes, and brushed back her hair - her fingers lingering over the ugly scar at the hairline above her left eye.
Where am I, anyway? This is not my bedroom, and it doesn't look like any room in Aunt Liddy's house. Maybe I'm still dreaming. Leigh reached over and pulled the chain on a lamp. That's better. No, definitely not Aunt Liddy's house.
It was a beautiful room -- very feminine with beautiful antique furnishings. The room was decorated loveingly in soft, pale green colors. She climbed down from the pedestal bed and explored the room, shivering in her thin cotton chemise. There were two doors in the room, and Leigh gently turned the handle on the one closest to the bed -- thinking that it was probably a closet. It was locked.
A soft knock at the other door startled her, and Leigh jumped a little as Alex's head peeked through the door. "Hello, Leigh, is everything all right?" Alex asked in her most calm and soothing voice. I must make her feel at ease. Leigh nodded dumbly as she backed up against the bed. Alex opened slipped through the door, and closed it softly behind her. She was wearing a purple silk robe, and was carrying a small tray of food.
"I heard a noise as I passed by in the hall and ... " Alex smiled encouragingly.
"Who are you? Where am I? And how did I get here? And where is my Aunt?" Her surprise overcome, Leigh fired off a volley of questions at Alex, barely pausing to breathe between each one. Alex could actually feel the tension building in the room. Alex took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a quick moment, concentrating on blocking out the fear and anger that Leigh was unconsciously hurling at her.
Alex opened her eyes, turned and placed the tray on a table. She wrapped her robe around herself a little tighter, and motioned toward a chair. "I was going to say that I thought you might be hungry. I'll stay and answer your questions, but do you mind if I sit first? It IS the middle of the night, you know" Alex said hopefully. "Would you like a cookie?"
Leigh looked at her suspiciously and shook her head. "All right. I'm sorry, but I woke up here in this strange place, and I have no idea what's going on, and I don't even know what time it is. What's the matter, don't you people have clocks around here?" She climbed back into the huge bed and pulled the covers around her.
Alex gave a little laugh and sat down. "Yes, we do have clocks. I'll make sure that one is placed in here tomorrow. This room hasn't been changed in many years, and I guess there was never a clock in here. Now, to answer your questions. First, I am Alexandra Moreau, but everyone here calls me Alex. And 'here' is the Luna Foundation -- on Angel Island. You were brought by two of my colleagues at your Aunt's request, and she is still at her home. What else do you want to know?" Alex picked up a cookie and took a dainty bite.
Leigh listened thoughtfully to the answers Alex gave to her questions. The woman was telling the truth, but she was still holding something back. Leigh wasn't sure how she could be so sure of that, but she knew. This is just too strange. "How long are you going to keep me? And who's in charge around here?"
Alex ignored her first question, and continued to nonchalantly eat her cookie. "Dr. Derek Rayne is the head of the Luna Foundation. Although many of us live here most of the time, this is Derek's home -- his family has lived here for many years. He's one of the ones who brought you here. Do you remember that?"
Leigh frowned. "No, not really." She thought for a moment, "I remember that awful room at the hospital, and all those people yelling at me. And then I remember Aunt Liddy telling me that we were leaving. When was that?"
"I believe that was a couple of days ago -- you were brought here from your Aunt's house." Alex dusted the crumbs off her fingers, and leaned forward in her chair. "Leigh, your Aunt believes that you have undergone some profound changes, and she has asked us to help you ... adjust to them."
Leigh's frown deepened. "Changes? What on earth are you talking about?" Alex continued to speak smoothly, "Changes of a psychic nature. Severe head trauma has been known to cause ..."
Leigh's soft laughter caused Alex to stop mid-sentence and look at her curiously. "I'm sorry, Alex, but maybe you're the one those doctors ought to be looking at. I just don't believe in that stuff." Once again, her fingers played over the scar on her forehead. "Aunt Lydia has tried to discuss it with me before, but I've always believe that things like auras and pre-cognition were for people who needed a crutch to deal with reality."
Seeing Alex's surprised expression, Leigh continued, "I'm sorry -- I don't mean to be rude." She dropped her hand back into her lap and clutched at the blanket. Alex stood up, shaking her head, and then sat on the bed next to Leigh. She took Leigh's hand and looked at her hopefully. "I know that this is a lot for you to take in, but will you give us a chance to help you? Please, it's really important."
Leigh's nodded hesitantly, and Alex gave her one of her brightest smiles "Good, I'll come and get you for breakfast in a few hours. And then I'll introduce you to everyone. Good night!" She gave Leigh's hand a squeeze, hopped off the bed and left the room. As the door closed gently, Leigh lay down, pulled the bedclothes tight around her and hugged her pillow. Yeah, well I won't be here for breakfast.
After leaving Leigh's room, Alex nearly collided with Derek in the hallway. He was wearing black silk pajama bottoms and was sleepily trying to tie the sash on his robe. Barefoot and with his hair tousled, he looked like a small boy gone in search of a midnight glass of water.
Alex hid a smile, and asked, "What are you doing up?"
"What do you think?" he said, wearily rubbing his eyes. "I knew she was awake the same as you did. Maybe putting her in this wing was a bad idea. I suppose you calmed her down, though?"
Alex nodded, leaning against the door to Derek's bedroom. "Uh-huh. She'll be all right for now, I think. You know that she needs to be where we can keep an eye on her. She wasn't at all accepting of the idea that she might have the Sight, though. She's frightened and a little angry."
Derek crossed his arms against his chest, "Interesting. We take these gifts for granted, but I can see how she might be skeptical." He gave his head a little shake, "We'll talk more with her in the morning. I'm going down to my study, but you should try and go back to sleep. Goodnight, Alex."
"Good morning, Derek" Alex called down the hall after him. "And don't work too long."
Leigh lay awake in bed for a long while after she no longer hear voices out in the hallway, and she then slipped out of bed and looked around for something to wear other than her nightgown. The bag that Lydia had packed was in the closet, and Leigh changed into jeans, a loose chambray shirt, and tennis shoes. She quietly brushed her teeth and washed her face and then ran a comb through her shoulder-length wavy hair. She couldn't find her purse anywhere.
Slipping into the hallway, Leigh quickly located the back stairs. She descended quietly into the main part of the house, carrying her bag. She spent quite a few moments wandering around, trying to get her bearings. Leigh could feel the presence of others in the house, but she had no idea who or where they were. This is the biggest damn house I've ever been in! She ended up in the kitchen, and suddenly realized that she was hungry. I guess I should've taken Alex up on that offer for a snack earlier. Setting down her bag, she opened up the huge refrigerator and began to search for a snack.
About that time, Nick came through the door. Dressed in nothing but a pair of shorts and running shoes, he wiped the sweat from his face with the towel that was slung around his neck. Nick looked at his watch and frowned. I know I can beat that time by at least a minute. I must be getting old!
Just then he stopped dead in his tracks and his body tensed as he realized that there was a stranger in the room. Wait. This must be the woman Leigh that Philip and Derek brought in yesterday. I wonder what she's doing? I'd better be careful -- Alex said to make sure not to frighten her. Nick relaxed and leaned against the doorway and said casually, "So, anything good in there?"
Startled, Leigh straightened up suddenly, bumping her head against the freezer, and dropping the gallon of milk she had been holding. The jug hit the floor and burst, sending sprays of milk everywhere. "Oh, geez, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to startle you!" Nick said. He jerked the towel from around his neck, dropped to his knees, and began sopping up the liquid.
Standing there, rubbing her head, Leigh wasn't quite sure what to think. Her first impulse was to take off while this strange, half-dressed man was kneeling on the floor. Nick looked at her out of the corner of his eye. Man, she looks like a deer caught in someone's headlights. He could feel her anxiety. "So, you gonna help me, or just stand there? Hand me that dish towel, why don't you. Oh, and I'm Nick, by the way."
She handed the towel to Nick. After another hesitant moment, she grabbed another one and began to help him. Dumping the wet towels into the sink and drying his hands, Nick said, matter-of-factly, "Going somewhere?"
Leigh returned his steady gaze and replied "Yes, actually I am. I was just leaving."
"Well, then," Nick said, eyebrow raised. "The least you can do is to let me fix you breakfast before you go. You know -- to make up for scaring you earlier. I make a mean omelet. What do you say? Okay? Good!" Nick grinned at her, and was rewarded with a small smile.
Derek set the pen down, and rubbed his aching hand. He had been writing for quite a while. Looking at the clock, he couldn't believe that it was already 6:00. I've got to stop getting up in the middle of the night like this. What I really need is a cup of coffee.
As he strode into the kitchen, Derek stopped short. He was shocked to see Leigh and Nick sitting at the counter talking and laughing together quietly -- empty breakfast dishes in front of them. He tightened the belt on his robe as felt a surprising flicker of annoyance. "Well," Derek said, still standing in the doorway. "What's going on here?"
"Just a bit of breakfast, Derek" Nick replied, smiling at him. "Leigh here was about to leave, but I ..."
"I'm afraid that's out of the question." Derek interrupted as he poured himself a cup of coffee. "Miss McCallister will be staying here for a while."
Nick's smile faded and Leigh's blue eyes narrowed angrily. "Oh, and you must be Dr. Rayne. Thank you so much for deciding all this without even consulting me."
Derek felt her anger building and braced himself to let it wash over him. Nick's gaze was anxiously shifting back and forth between the two of them. It didn't take a psychic to feel what was going on. Derek took a sip of coffee. "Your Aunt Lydia made these arrangements, Miss. You will have to discuss them with her. Until that time, you're to stay here."
The two of them stared at each other for several silent moments. "In that case, Dr. Rayne," she said icily, "I believe I'm done here. Thanks, Nick. It's been a pleasure." Leigh shouldered her bag, and swept out the door -- chin raised
Nick looked at Derek in disbelief. "What was all that about? Geez, Derek, she was just starting to loosen up, and then you had to stomp in here and set her off again!"
Derek drained his cup and set it on the counter. Massaging his temple with one hand, he replied, "I'm not sure what that was, Nick. That's not really how I meant for all that to come out. Of course, it is the truth."
Nick stood, frowning, and began stacking dishes in the sink. "Truth or not, I'm glad it's not me that the recipient of all that ... angst. I'll stay on her good side, if you don't mind. Now let me go make sure that she found her way back to her room."
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