I thought I had updated all the chapters, but realized recently that the last chapter did not update. Sorry about that. Here it is.
Falling Down an Upward Spiral (part 8/8)
by M. Rose
The constant trill of the phone irritated her to the core, but she would not answer it.
For over 20 minutes she sat in her car staring out the window ... gathering up the courage to do what she knew in heart she had to do.
"What about ... us?"
"You run, I chase. That choice was made for us long ago."
She never believed in choices. Of course, she never had any to begin with - a byproduct of pleasing Daddy.
Jarod always told her that she could make her own choices in life, but she never believed ... until now.
She could choose to be with him or find the truth.
It wasn't as easy as it sounded.
The urge to drop everything and go to Jarod was overwhelming, but part of her *needed* to find the truth. Surely Daddy couldn't have really wanted her dead simply because he read it in the Scrolls, could he? Was he that far gone? He had pretended to be in a catatonic state to fool the Africans while she and Jarod were locating the Scrolls. Maybe this was another ruse? But why?
Then her thoughts turned towards her twin. Lyle's niceties earlier in her office grated her nerves. She only agreed to meet him for dinner to get him out of her office quicker. She had to admit, she was extremely curious to find out his true intentions. Was he was really trying to help her or was it just another one of his games?
The more she thought about the footage Jarod had showed her and what Lyle had said, the more confused she became and the renewed sense of purpose she was filled with earlier was now clouded with doubt.
Her father wanted to kill her.
Her brother wanted to help her.
It didn't make any sense.
Nothing did anymore.
And then there were the constant nightmares. She was sure they were premonitions of some sort. Either that or she was suffering a nervous breakdown.
She didn't know which she preferred.
She pulled out the crumpled note Jarod had left with his latest clue. He was usually very cryptic with his messages, but this time was different. She was no longer his huntress. Without words they had formed a bond, joined together as a team that began in an island in Scotland.
Broots had traced the lifesaver to a marina in Bayville, Delaware. The number written on the note corresponded with a boat docked in its spot. There was also a time written on the other side of the note. Coincidentally, the same time that she was to meet Lyle.
Jarod's words back on the island lingered in the back of her mind as her cell phone began ringing ... again. "I just hate to see anyone miss a turning point when one is staring them right in the face."
She tore her eyes away from the window and stared at the phone lying on the passenger seat.
"Turning points only come when you've got something to turn to."
She snatched the phone and quickly answered, "Hello? Jarod?" But she was greeted with a dial tone.
Sighing, she turned off the phone and threw it back on the seat. Maybe it was better she not talk to him anyway.
He probably already knew about her meeting with Lyle and would try desperately to stop her. She silently chuckled to herself. Jarod was as stubborn, if not more, than she was. She chased, threatened and even prevented him from finding vital information about his family so she could capture him for her own selfish reasons. Yet, he never gave up on her.
Jarod may have been a thorn on her side, but he gave her something no one since her mother ever had, he gave her hope.
Unwavering hope ... and love.
In that moment, everything became clear and a decision was made. She was choosing a destiny of her own making, not from ancient writings on a piece of paper, however sacred it might be. And not a destiny chosen by a man she always thought of as her father, not anymore.
Her liberation from the Centre's grasp was invigorating. It was as if she released over 30 years of disappointment and pain.
Filled with newfound confidence, she stepped out of the car and pulled out her gun as she headed towards the unknown.
When she arrived at her destination, she read the note to make sure she was in the right place and then looked straight ahead ... into the blackness of the water as it lapped against the dock.
There was no boat.
There was no Jarod.
Dejected, she sighed and closed her eyes.
He left without her.
It was what she wanted. For Jarod to be free and away from danger, but a part of her wanted to know what pure freedom felt like or rather freedom WITH Jarod.
She had to laugh about the irony of it all. If she didn't, she'd cry into a heap right on the dock.
It just wasn't meant to be.
THEY weren't meant to be.
Disappointment wasn't foreign to her. In fact, it was the only constant in her life. But it didn't make it any less painful.
She could hear Daddy now, "Just another lesson to learn in life, Angel. You can't rely on love."
She went to pull her cell phone out of her pocket to call Sydney when she remembered throwing the object on the seat of her car.
She started back towards the car when she heard a familiar voice. "Excuse me." Her eyes widened as she turned and stared at the man before her.
He picked the note out of her hand and turned it right side up to reveal the number 21. "I believe you had this upside down."
Still in shock that he was standing before her, she said, "You're kidding."
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
She noticed his hand clutching a jacket. "Going somewhere?"
His features turned serious. "When you ... you didn't answer your cell ... I thought --"
"What? That I was with the evil spawn?"
He nodded slowly as if he couldn't believe she really came. She couldn't believe it either.
"Sydney told me about your plans to meet with Lyle."
"Yeah, in the office today he told me that Daddy was alive and that the Scrolls," she paused for a moment. It was harder to say the words out loud, "foretold my death. I guess he didn't like the pace and wanted to expedite events."
"So Lyle told you this out of the kindness of his heart?" he said skeptically. "One could run through that obvious lie."
He was right. Her brother would never change. "True," she turned away from him and sighed, "even after everything he had done, a small part of me wanted to believe him," tears stung her eyes, "but I guess tigers never change their stripes, do they?"
He didn't answer, instead she felt his arms encircle her and she leaned into his embrace.
It felt nice.
It felt like home.
But there was something she needed to know.
"Why am I here, Jarod?"
"Come with me."
Without escaping his embrace, she turned to face him. "What?"
"Come with me, Parker."
"I ... I don't know. This is --"
She nodded. "Terrifying."
He rubbed up and down her arms in soothing motions. "We can be scared together."
She didn't answer. Her confidence weakened as fear crept back into her soul.
"How about it Parker?"
She stepped away from the warmth of his embrace. "This," she pointed at one the boats, "the two of us cramped in a tin can ... we would drive each other crazy before we left the dock and you know it. I'm sorry Jarod, but the answer is no."
"Aw, come on Parker. Give it a chance. Give us a chance. We deserve at least that, don't we?"
Suddenly a flash of white light blinded her. She shut her eyes, but then opened them when she felt a hand on her cheek. At first she thought it was Jarod's, but it was more delicate, and softer. "Momma?" Her mother was standing before her, young and beautiful. She wanted to ask her so many things, but before Parker could say anything, her mother answered, "Shhh, my love, everything's going to be fine IF you believe what's in your heart. Believe in him, sweetheart." And just as fast as the flash came, it went and she was once again face with his luscious brown eyes.
"Okay," she whispered, but then continued in more forceful tone, "but if this doesn't workout, you realize I will kill you."
His face broke out in a huge grin as he pulled her closer. "I don't doubt that for a second, Parker."
She shook her head as she questioned, "Jarod, are we crazy?"
"Certifiable." He whispered as he leaned in to touch his lips against hers.
Author Notes: There were several ways this could have ended. My initial ending was going to be very sad and angsty, but dammit I went with the happy ending route. Oh well, those two kids deserve a happy ending ... for now anyway.;-)