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by Deb T.
| Pt. 1 | Pt. 2 | Pt. 3 | Pt. 4 | Pt. 5 | Pt. 6 |
Over the next several days, Lissa grew stronger, taking
in a little more food each day, and getting a little more
exercise. First, there were walks around her bedroom as
Derek and Nick supported her. Then, she was allowed to eat
solid food, a milestone which was celebrated with pizza made
by the castle staff at Nick's suggestion.
When she wasn't doing her exercises or sleeping, Lissa
spent time with her new friends and her sister. The young
cop spent hours talking with Alex...playing chess with
Derek...trading combat stories with Nick, a former Navy
SEAL...and just sitting in the library, quietly reading
while Philip translated old documents.
Eventually, by the end of her second week at the castle,
Lissa was walking with a cane. She was still weak, and it
was Rachel's one condition when Lissa began leaving her bed.
The young cop often left her room unaccompanied, and it was
on one of these walks when the Vision hit. She was admiring
the artifacts in the foyer of the castle, when the world spun
crazily. Suddenly, she was five years old and she could hear
her Aunt Alicia saying, "This is my niece, my sweet little
Lissa. Can you say 'hello' to my friends, Lissa?"
Try as she might, Lissa couldn't see the faces of the
two men with her aunt...she could only sense that they both
loved her, in very different ways. One man was possessive,
and Lissa pulled back from him, realizing that he would do
anything to keep her aunt with him. The other man had a
comforting feel to him, and Lissa knew without being told
that this man only wanted her aunt's happiness.
That sensation was replaced by another visual, this time
of Lissa's small hand reaching for a larger, adult hand. A
man's hand, with long, slim fingers. Then overwhelming agony
overwhelmed her, as once more, Lissa watched her aunt Alicia
die. Her aunt was screaming something as the thing slowly
tore her apart...it was a name, but Lissa couldn't tell
what the name was. Not that it really mattered, for soon her
aunt's screams ended, and there was only harsh weeping.
The last vision wasn't even a visual...it was a soft,
masculine voice in her head, saying, "You are not helpless,
Lissa. You are a little girl, yes, but you are not helpless.
Never allow anyone to tell you that you are." Lissa received
the same sensation as she had with Aunt Alicia's second
friend...a comforting presence, who would never hurt her.
And then, the edges of Lissa's vision lightened,
bringing her back to reality. Once more, she heard voices,
but these were voices she knew. Lissa slowly opened her eyes
to find herself lying on the ground, staring up at Derek and
Philip, both of whom looked anxious. It was the younger man
who asked, "Are you all right? Derek and I heard your cry,
Lissa." She smiled weakly...it was easy to become friends
with him. Too easy. Philip continued, the anxiety slowly
leaving his pale blue eyes, "Did you have a Vision?"
"I don't know if it was a vision or a memory," Lissa
answered, "The first was of my aunt Alicia. She was holding
me close, and introducing me to two male friends. I couldn't
see their faces, but I...they both loved her. One with a
possessive, obsessive passion. The other was equally
passionate, but... The first man would have hurt anyone
who got between him and Aunt Alicia, and the second man would
only harm someone who hurt another."
"What about the other visuals...memories?" Derek asked
softly. He glanced at Philip, away from Lissa, as he spoke,
something the cop noticed immediately. She drew her mind
away from the suspicions which crowded into her heart, and
instead, concentrated on the other images.
"The second made no sense...I saw my hand reaching for
another hand, an adult's hand. In the third...I watched my
aunt die again. Only this time, once her screams faded, I
heard someone weeping her name. And as she died, my aunt was
screaming a name," Lissa replied, shuddering. Derek's hands
tightened on her shoulders, and the young woman continued,
"The fourth was a man's voice. He said that even though I
was a little girl, I wasn't helpless."
"We'll worry about what they were later," Philip said,
sliding his arm under her knees and wrapping the other arm
around her waist, "right now, we'll get you back to bed.
You're always shaky when you have these Visions, so I'll
carry you back upstairs to your room."
Lissa started to protest, but Derek shook his head. For
some reason, Lissa did as she was told as Philip lifted her
from the ground. Derek picked up her cane and trailed behind
them as Philip carried her upstairs to her bedroom. Lissa
closed her eyes, hoping that she wouldn't give herself away.
"What do you make of it, Derek?" Philip asked after
Lissa was settled in her room once more and resting. They
were in Derek's office, and the older man was sipping a glass
of wine as he stared out the window. The young priest added,
"The memories keep coming back in fragments, and they terrify
her. You heard the terror in her voice when she screamed."
"I think this is less painful for her, Philip, but when
the pieces at last fall into place, she will be devastated.
And she'll probably be furious with us for not telling her
everything, but..." Derek said, shrugging helplessly.
Philip nodded with a sigh.
"But she has just woken up from a year-long coma, she's
still weak, and learning all about her past with the Legacy
so soon after her return to the world might be asking for
trouble," the young man completed. He ran a hand through his
dark brown hair and said softly, "I've never heard a scream
like that before. Not even your cries when you woke up from
one of your nightmares were like that."
"By the time you came to live with me," Derek replied
wryly, "I had been dealing with the dreams for several years.
Lissa is, at this time, a clean slate." He sat back and
added, "I'll ask you the same thing Rachel asked me two weeks
ago, when Lissa first woke up. How are you reading her? I
know you don't have the Sight, but your instincts are good
where people are concerned. And Lissa was your friend."
"She's in a lot of pain, Derek, but won't acknowledge it
even to herself. And she's angry. With her father, with
herself, with whoever shot them both. And she's scared. She
caught the glance earlier, while she was talking about her
aunt. Derek, she was a cop for five years before the
shooting. Her instincts are good. She knows we're holding
out on her, and that frightens her, because it undermines her
trust in us. And yet, we have no other choice, not if we
want Lissa to remain healthy," Philip replied with a sigh.
"Yes, I saw that look, and I agree...Lissa Reynolds is
a very angry young woman. And a very dangerous woman when
crossed, if her chess strategy is any indication. There are
times when she reminds me more of Alicia than of Fiona!"
Derek said wryly and Philip laughed. The older man smiled,
then added seriously, "Any feedback from Alex and Nick? I
know they're spending time with her as well."
"Alex doesn't talk much about Lissa, just to her. Nick
says that she's half-warrior and half-mystic. Kat thinks
Lissa is the nicest lady in the world, after Rachel and Alex.
But Kat also senses Lissa's rage. She told me that we
shouldn't anger Lissa," Philip replied and Derek nodded.
"Yes. Do you remember an incident during the summer
Michael came to visit? You and Lissa were playing tag on the
grounds, and you ran afoul of her father," he said. Philip
nodded and Derek continued, "William hit you across the face-
and Lissa threw herself in front of you, telling him that he
wasn't to hurt you again. It was the first time Lissa ever
stood up to William. She was amazing, with her hands on her
hips and demanding that he leave you alone."
Philip smiled and added, "Yes, and about that time,
Michael came on the scene. Before I had a chance to speak,
Lissa had blurted out the entire story. Fiona took Lissa and
me inside to put a cold cloth on my face, then gave us both
ice cream. Michael never told me what happened after that."
"Your brother decked William," Derek replied with a
faint smile, "and told him that the next time William struck
you, or any other child, Michael would return the favor
tenfold. I had to step in, before William hit Michael. Your
brother was only fourteen, but he didn't stand for anyone
harming another child. Not you, and not Lissa."
Philip lowered his eyes when Derek mentioned Michael.
After a moment of uncomfortable silence, the older man added,
"I want to talk with Rachel about a possible trip to the
mainland with Lissa. She is becoming restless...I want to
see if she's strong enough first." Philip nodded and turned
to leave, but Derek said quietly, "The pain of losing Michael
will fade in time, Philip." The young priest nodded, then
silently left the room, leaving Derek to his other work.
When Derek broached the subject with Rachel twenty
minutes later, the psychiatrist said immediately, "Derek, I
think that would be the best thing for her. She's starting
to go a little crazy, and a trip into San Francisco would be
the ideal solution. Just the two of you?"
Derek nodded and replied, "Yes. She's still not very
comfortable with Philip...Nick and Alex are busy." He
smiled sadly, then added, "I thought I see how she remembers
her aunt. Her viewpoint about Alicia interests me."
"Just be careful, Derek," Rachel cautioned, and he
frowned. Of course he would be careful with Lissa's
memories! The psychiatrist explained, "I'm not worried about
you saying something to upset her...but whoever shot Lissa
and killed her father is still out there."
"We'll be all right...but thank you for your concern.
I'll see Lissa now," Derek said and Rachel smiled, then Derek
left the room. He passed Philip in the hall, and the young
man was smiling. Derek rapped lightly on Lissa's door. A
soft voice beckoned him inside and Derek asked as he opened
the door, "How would you feel about a trip to the mainland?"
Lissa was sitting up in bed, and her eyes lit up as she
replied, "Go to San Francisco? Right now? Today? You and
I?" Derek nodded, grinning at her eagerness, and Lissa gave
a little girl's squeal of delight, saying, "Absolutely! You
mean I can go outside and be a normal person?"
Derek laughed and said, "You never stopped being a
normal person, Lissa, but yes. Would you like to dress...
perhaps take a shower?" Lissa nodded, her eyes glowing with
anticipation, and Derek continued, "Then I will leave you to
your preparations. Are you strong enough? Or will you need
help?" Lissa shooed him from the room, and Derek laughed as
he left, saying, "I'll meet you in the library!"
After Derek was gone, Lissa went into the adjoining
bathroom and turned on the shower. She smiled with delight.
I'm going into San Francisco, she thought as she laid out her
clothes, I'm actually going out! Her eagerness made her
hurry, stripping off her clothes and jumping into the shower.
It felt good, having the water beat down on her. She
grabbed the bar of soap and began washing all over. Alex and
Rachel had given her sponge baths, but those just weren't the
same as a shower. Once she began feeling clean, Lissa went
to work on her hair, scrubbing it vigorously. By the time
Lissa was finished, nearly thirty minutes had passed. She
quickly dressed and combed her hair, then retrieved her cane.
It only took her five minutes to reach the library...an
improvement over her usual eight. Derek and Philip were
talking, but they both looked up as Lissa entered and smiled.
She returned the smile and said shyly, "I'm ready. Sorry it
took so long, but I was kinda making up for lost time."
"No need to apologize...it's totally understandable,
given the circumstances. Philip, I'll see you when we get
back," Derek replied. The young man nodded and Derek turned
to Lissa, saying, "Come along, then, the world awaits." The
young woman rolled her eyes, but said nothing. She had
become accustomed to Derek's sense of drama during the last
two weeks, and even grown to like it.
"Have fun," Philip called as they left the library,
"Lissa, look after him. I've never known anyone who can
attract danger the way Derek does. He doesn't have to find
trouble...it finds him." Lissa laughed and Derek glared
at Philip as they headed to the foyer.
Lissa gave a soft exclamation when she saw Derek's black
Range Rover. The psychic smiled and teased, "Am I to take it
that you approve of my vehicle?" Lissa nodded wordlessly,
her dark eyes growing wide with awe and another emotion which
Derek couldn't quite identify.
"It's beautiful, Derek...and oh so practical. So this
is your baby...do you allow anyone else to drive it?" Lissa
asked as they got into the vehicle. She slammed the door
and added, "Not that I would drive something like this...
it's too damn big. My car is a little bit of a thing, not
real sporty, but it gets me where I need to go."
"Philip has driven it in the past, but he doesn't really
like it. In his parish, he usually walks wherever he needs
to go...or takes a taxi. Nick, Alex, and Rachel all have
cars of their own, so they don't usually need to drive this.
So, you approve of my transportation, but you wouldn't drive
it yourself?" Derek teased as he started the car, and Lissa
shrugged. He laughed and said, "Well, at least you're
honest. What would you like to do while we're in the city?
Are there any places you enjoy visiting?"
"We don't need to go anywhere, Derek, just being out and
about is wonderful. Although, we will need to eat around
noon. You've seen what happens when I forget to eat," Lissa
replied and Derek nodded with a sigh. She had nearly given
him heart failure a few days earlier when she fainted in the
study. Lissa continued, "Have you forgiven me for that yet?"
"What do you think?" Derek parried and Lissa grinned
mischievously, her eyes glittering with amusement. There
were times...such as right now...when the resemblance to
her aunt was overwhelming. Lissa didn't physically resemble
Alicia, aside from her long dark hair and dark eyes, but she
did act a lot like her aunt. He continued after a moment,
growing serious, "You frightened us all, Lissa. I honestly
thought we had lost you."
"I'm tougher than I look, Derek. I don't have any
illusions about my mortality...I know I'm just a fragile
human being, but I'm not a shrinking violet either," Lissa
replied in an equally serious tone. Derek smiled ruefully.
Yes, he had realized that very quickly after her awakening
only a few weeks earlier! Lissa continued after a moment, "I
have no intention of leaving Pippa alone again."
"That wasn't your fault, Lissa," Derek reminded her,
"you had the bad luck to interrupt a burglary." He fell
silent, then continued, "What I don't understand is why the
police never found anything missing. I've spoken with the
chief of police several times since your awakening."
Lissa looked at him curiously and said, "Really? What
else does he have to say? Has he asked you about an amazing
coincidence, how I came out of a year-long coma only twelve
hours after being moved to your castle?" Derek nodded with a
faint smile, and Lissa continued, "I thought as much. So,
why are you checking into this? It's over."
"I'm not so sure of that, Lissa," Derek replied, "as
Philip could tell you, you are now part of my family. I take
care of my own. And until I'm certain that the danger to you
and your sister is past, I will continue to investigate the
shooting. All right?"
Lissa stared at him for several moments, a speculative
gleam appearing in her eyes. Then she said, "So you've
adopted me, have you?" Derek shrugged...that was as good a
term as any. Lissa was silent as she considered that, then
she grinned and said, "Well, I can think of worse fates. You
choose. What shall we do?" Derek laughed...he was growing
to love the adult Lissa as much as he had loved the child.
His blood froze when he saw the girl. He had seen her
in the past...a slim, coltish young woman with curly dark
brown hair. The wind blew her hair away from her face as she
got out of a black Range Rover, and she wasn't alone. There
was a man with her, perhaps fifteen years older than she was.
No, he thought, panicking, no, she's dead! Or close to
death...so he had been told by his grandfather, who worked
at the clinic. The young man remembered the sadness in his
grandfather's voice as he talked about sweet Miss Lissa, who
had been in a coma for the last year after some coward shot
her. Never realizing that his own grandson was that coward.
That had been a mistake...Lissa Reynolds wasn't
supposed to get hurt. She wasn't even supposed to be home
from work so soon. But come home early she had. That nearly
killed her and now, she was awake. She could identify him.
He couldn't allow that to happen...he knew he wouldn't be
able to bear the shattered expression in his grandfather's
eyes when he learned the truth. I have to find out who she's
staying with, the young man thought, taking a deep breath, I
have to find out what happened. And then I have to kill her.
For the last two weeks, Lissa had been troubled by how
disturbingly familiar Derek Rayne was. It wasn't just his
generosity to the department, nor was it the hours she spent
in the museum, or even the lecture she had missed years
earlier. No, there was something about the man himself.
It wasn't until they stopped for lunch that Lissa
realized why that was. It had begun so innocently...they
were discussing her aunt. Lissa's recent nightmares and
fragmented memories had brought her aunt's death home to her
a second time. She said softly, "You would have liked my
aunt, Derek. In a lot of ways, she was like you. She had
the same habit of hiding fear and pain behind a confident
mask...which wasn't actually a mask. And she only let her
guard down around children...especially me."
"Am I that transparent, then?" Derek teased gently and
Lissa rolled her eyes. He continued after a moment, "I'm
sorry, I shouldn't tease you like that. You do have the
Sight, Lissa, in more ways than one. Don't you ever frighten
people, with this ability to see into their souls?"
Lissa smiled and answered, "Nope. I don't always tell
people what's in their soul. Only the ones who are strong
enough...and you're certainly strong enough. I'm not sure
about Rachel. I could probably tell Philip, though he hides
from some part of himself. Xan, she could handle it."
"You're a very perceptive young woman, Elizabeth," Derek
replied quietly, "Tell me more about your aunt. I know that
you loved her very much, and that she loved you with a great
intensity...almost as if she were your mother, rather than
your aunt. But tell me more about her."
Lissa was silent briefly, then replied, "She had a lot
of love to give, Derek. I told you about the two men she
brought with her on one visit. I...don't ask me how, but
somehow, I knew that she loved both men. After that day, she
changed somehow. She became more thoughtful and less impish.
She asked me several times which I liked better. My answer
was always the same...the younger one, because he didn't
fear me, or Aunt Alicia's love for me."
"He had no reason to fear her love for you...it was no
threat to him," Derek answered with a sad smile, "and how
could a sweet little girl be a threat to a grown man,
especially when he knew that your aunt didn't love him?" The
pain in his voice went to Lissa's heart, and she reached
across the table to take his hand. With that one touch, a
flood of memories washed over her, and Lissa was transported
back more than twenty years...
"I'm so sorry, Fiona...I wanted to save her. God
knows I wanted to save her," a soft, husky voice said from
inside the kitchen. Five year old Lissa stopped at the door.
She cocked her head to one side, frowning.
Only a few minutes earlier, she had found her aunt Molly
sobbing in her room. For once, Lissa had been unable to make
her young aunt smile again, and that frightened the child.
She had gone to the kitchen, to talk with her mother, but
instead, she listened outside. Her mother said in a gentle
voice, "I know, Derek, it isn't your fault. No matter what
that fool Hitchcock says, I know my sister."
Lissa pushed open the door and discovered her Aunt
Alicia's friend Derek sitting at the kitchen table, while her
mother stood beside the sink. His back was to her, but she
recognized Derek's broad shoulders and the dark brown hair.
Lissa walked slowly into the kitchen, heading toward her
mother. Her mother's eyes were blank, and that frightened
Lissa further. The child turned to Derek, and saw the
glimmer of tears. Lissa knew, then, and she whispered, "Aunt
Alicia is never coming back, is she?" Derek shook his head.
"No, little one...she's not," he replied. Even that
was too much for him, it seemed, for he lowered his head, his
shoulders bowed. Lissa looked from her mother to Derek and
back. Her mother's eyes were still expressionless, and with
her childish instincts, Lissa decided that she had a better
chance of making Derek smile again. With that in mind, she
crawled up into the chair beside his, and touched his hand.
What Lissa saw then was straight from a nightmare...a
horrible thing, tearing her aunt apart. She screamed, "Mama,
the monster is killing Aunt Alicia...make it stop, Mama,
make it stop!" As she released Derek's hand, Lissa was
barely aware of the shock and horror in his eyes...
"Oh my God," Lissa whispered twenty-one years later,
"it's you!" She pulled her hand away from Derek's,
repeating, "It was you who came to our house that day, to
tell us about Aunt Alicia! My God, all this time, you knew
that I was seeing her death through someone else's eyes, and
you never told me!" As ever, her voice dropped when she was
angry. Derek nodded, his chameleon eyes never leaving her
face. Lissa felt ill, her hands clenching on the table.
"I am so sorry, Lissa. I wanted so much to tell you
myself, but I felt it best if you remembered on your own,"
Derek replied in a soft voice. He swallowed hard, then
added, "Besides, I had to hear your perceptions of your aunt.
You were right, Lissa...I loved her very much."
Curiously, the rage died and Lissa admitted, "I know.
Mama knew as well...she never wanted Aunt Alicia to marry
Randolph Hitchock. That was his name, wasn't it?" Derek
nodded and Lissa continued, growing calm again, "It was you
who gave me the teddy bear. After Mama calmed me down, and
you told me that I hadn't...that Aunt Alicia really died
the way I saw...you brought out that teddy bear, and told
me that Aunt Alicia had planned to give it to me herself."
Once more, Derek nodded, his eyes filled with sadness.
"She loved you very much, Lissa. All she ever talked
about when she was doing work for the Foundation was you.
There were times when I believed that Hitchcock was jealous
of her love for you, but then I told myself that I was being
ridiculous. You were just a child, after all. Perhaps I
wasn't so ridiculous after all," he said. The man paused,
then added, "I hope you can forgive me for not telling you,
Lissa. I talked with Philip and with Rachel...they both
agreed that telling you wasn't wise."
"They were right," Lissa said wearily, "I'm not sure I
would have believed you. I had to remember it alone.
Forgive me for being so angry with you?" Derek nodded with a
weak smile, and Lissa continued, "Then I forgive you for
holding out on me. Is Aunt Alicia...is she why you and the
others in the Foundation chose to help me?"
"No!" Derek said firmly, "I would have helped anyone in
your position. It was just that Philip brought your case to
my attention when he recognized you...when he saw you. I
knew once I heard your name...and had always hoped that I
would see you again. You were such a lovely child, and I
wanted to believe you would fulfill the promise I saw in you.
As soon as I talked with your sister, I knew you had."
Lissa's attention was still on Derek's remarks regarding
Philip, and she remembered what Kat had said about the young
priest's departure from the Foundation. She said slowly,
"It's been almost impossible for you to let go, hasn't it?
I've watched the two of you together, and anyone can see that
you love Philip like your own child."
"In another time, Elizabeth Marie, you would have been
burned at the stake as a witch," Derek replied reflectively,
without addressing her question. Which, of course, answered
it, and Lissa smiled impishly at her companion. Derek shook
his head and answered, "I begin to understand Pippa's
directness. I don't remember your father being so direct,
but I really had little desire to get to know him. I didn't
like the way he treated you, or your mother."
There was a brief, stabbing pain in Lissa's heart as she
recalled the man she had called 'Father.' After a moment,
she asked, "Derek, I've tried to mourn him. I really have.
But I don't feel anything about his death. Not even relief.
I just feel dead inside. Am I dysfunctional?"
"Not hardly!" Derek replied swiftly. Lissa could tell
she had surprised him...he only used slang when he was
surprised, upset, or anxious. That much she had learned
about him during the last few weeks. Derek continued,
"William Reynolds hurt you very badly. From the time you
were a small girl, he did his best to undermine your
confidence in yourself. I have never forgiven him for that.
Or for..." Derek stopped and shook his head.
For some reason, Lissa didn't push. She said quietly,
"It's over and done with, Derek. For now, I think we should
head home after we're both done with lunch. I need to think
about what you've told me." She noticed the man's surprised
look and said with a smile, "Didn't you know how much I've
learned from you in the last half hour? I can see you don't.
And I'm too exhausted to explain it to you. Would you mind
waiting until after I've rested?" Derek shook his head, now
looking pleased, as well as surprised.
"That sounds fair. I can get the check while you finish
your lunch," he offered and Lissa nodded with a smile. It
took him only five minutes, then he was back at the table,
saying, "I'm ready whenever you are." Lissa finished the
last of her lasagna and pushed herself to her feet. The
motion was a little too quick, and she swayed. Derek grabbed
her by the waist quickly and asked, "Can you walk?"
"Sure. Just let me lean on you," Lissa assured him.
Derek merely smiled. He didn't have to say the words...
Lissa knew that she could lean on him as long as necessary.
Until she was strong enough to stand alone, he would not let
her down. They walked from the restaurant, Derek's arm
strong and supportive around Lissa's waist. Not for the
first time, the young woman wondered what her life would have
been like if this man had been her father.
The young man watched the pair walk from the restaurant
together. The man's arm was wrapped around Lissa Reynolds'
waist, but in a supportive manner rather than an intimate
way. If I didn't know better, the young man thought, I'd say
he was her father, rather than that sumbitch Reynolds.
There was a slight resemblance between Lissa Reynolds
and her companion...they both had curly, dark brown hair
and fair skin. However, the man with Lissa was no more than
forty years old...hardly old enough to be the young cop's
father. Worse luck for her, the young man thought, given
that Reynolds was such a jackass. He made a mental note of
the license plate on the Range Rover, and quickly wrote the
number down on the pad of paper which he always carried in
his hip pocket. He had his contacts.
Once more, the assassin cursed the man who had given him
the money to kill William Reynolds, and the fate which
resulted in Lissa's early return from work. You should have
stayed out of it, he thought, but no, you had to play the
knight in shining armor! You had to be a hero, and now you
have to kill an innocent girl to cover your own ass!
Derek glanced at Lissa several times on the way back to
the castle. She had actually taken the memory of that
earlier meeting a lot better than he had expected...than he
had any right to hope for. On the other hand, she hadn't
remembered her mother's death yet, so it was entirely
possible she wouldn't forgive him for keeping that from her.
One memory at a time, he cautioned himself, just deal
with one incident remembered at a time. Derek was certain
that the young woman sitting beside him would be devastated
when she realized that her young parish priest was also her
childhood best friend, all grown up. When she remembers
that, he thought, all hell will break loose.
continue on to part eight
Now go e-mail Deb and let her know what you think!