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Please read the two part "Madeline Series" stories first- http://www.pretendercentre.com/missingpieces/viewstory.php?sid=1147 as they set up the scene for both this version and The Empty Cottage by the Lake.
Disclaimer: Well, folks, here we are again... sorry it's been so long. Jarod, Miss Parker, etc. belong to NBC. They would belong to me if I was a millionaire. But I'm not (yet), so I'm afraid I can't buy NBC and give our favorite show a consistent time slot and the promotion it deserves. It also means I can't give Lyle lots more air time- sorry Sarah. *g*
"The title is based on the song "Hands", by Jewel...
Author's Note: Another reference to Michaela.. I promise her story is in the works. : - )
Madeline Series Version 1
by: Danielle : - )
A Small Restuarant
"Hi." Madeline said shyly. She was just realizing that talking to someone on the phone was completely different from actually meeting them face to face, for the first time.
"It's great to finally meet you!" Jarod said warmly as he took her hand. The sincere warmth in his dark brown eyes helped put Madeline at ease.
"You, too." She smiled and knew in her heart that what she was doing (and about to do) was completely right.
"Angelo says 'hi." She continued easily now.
Jarod smiled fondly, "I wish I could have taken him with me the last time I was at the Centre."
Madeline couldn't keep the broad grin off her face at this perfect start to what she had to say to Jarod today.
"Let's get him out. Let's get them all out." She said, staring intently at his face.
"What?" He blinked, clearly not expecting that.
"This is what I wanted to see you about. I want to rescue Angelo and the other children at the Centre." She said with an intensity that made the brilliant Pretender nervous.
"Madeline, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. You don't understand. And what do you mean, other children?"
"There are like, a dozen children at the Centre, only a few of them aren't really children anymore. But, yes, I do understand. I understand that these kids are put through Hell in that place- maybe even worse. I've seen them, heard them talk about it. I've seen the DSA's about it, Jarod. I know what a horrible place the Centre is."
"Maybe you do, but-"
"But nothing! I know more than a good 99% of the people who work there! And those that do know are too scared to do anything about it."
"But they have a reason to be scared! You don't know what they'd do to someone who did what you're talking about doing."
"They'd kill me like they killed Catherine Parker." She said this quietly, but with no less determination.Again all Jarod could do was blink.
"Catherine Parker rescued some of the children in the last '60's. The found out and killed her. Miss Parker's mother didn't commit suicide." Madeline was leaning forward in her seat as she continued to speak in a voice full of passion and determination.
"I know that." Jarod couldn't believe she had found out in a matter of months while it had taken him years. "Did you tell Miss Parker this, any of it?"
"No. She's not ready to hear it yet."
Jarod sat back in his chair, wondering where she had acquired such wisdom and insight at such a young age.
"They might find out you did it." Jarod saw how set she was on doing this, and knew he had to dissuade her.
"I'm sure they will eventually figure it out." She stated calmly.
"They'd probably kill you."
"Yes." She simply said.
"How old are you?"
"You're still so young! You've got your whole life to live!"
"It's not worth living knowing I had the chance to save them and didn't." She held up her hand to stop him as he opened his mouth to argue, then continued speaking directly from her heart, "I couldn't live with the knowledge that those children were being tortured and I didn't do anything about it, Jarod, don't you see? It would kill me more surely than they would."
"Guilt does not cause death, Madeline, or I'd have died long ago!"
Madeline just rolled her eyes, not having the patience to explain about literal translations and figures of speech.
He started to continue, "It wouldn't-"
She was furious now, her face dark, "It would! And don't you dare try to tell me how my heart and conscience would react!!" She was crying now, tears sliding down her face, "I'm a religious person, Jarod. In the end I'll be standing before God no matter what I do, and I can't stand before Him someday and try to justify why I---who had the freedom to act----didn't help them. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Jarod held up his hands to show her he had no more arguments against what she said.
"Catherine Parker was a wonderful selfless person. Do you know how much I wish I could make Park see that? But her father..." She trailed off, unsure of how to word it.
"May have had something to do with his wife's death."
Madeline nodded, her sad eyes matching his.
"He's made Park hate her mother, think she was selfish and weak. How can I make her see that it's the complete opposite?" Despair tinged her voice now.
"I don't know." Jarod admitted, "I've stayed up night after night trying to answer that question, but nothing comes."His voice carried unutterable sorrow.
"I don't want to die anymore, Jarod. I'm happy and safe, and know how much potential lies in my future. But I'm willing to give it up to save them. I had a great life before my mom died, and this year has been great too. Just about all those children have no memory of anything like that. And they deserve it. I've had my chance and now it's their turns. Am I making any sense to you?" She ended earnestly.
"Yes, I can understand it." He paused, wondering if he should continue. After a moment he did, "Catherine Parker described it in much the same way."
"What? How do you know?" Madeline watched him closely.
"In one of her safe deposit boxes I found her diary. She started keeping it when she was first forming her plan to rescue us. She wanted her daughter to find it someday. She was sure they'd find out, too, and wanted her daughter to know the truth because she didn't think her husband would give it to her."
"She sure hit that nail on the head." Madeline commented.
"Nail?" Jarod was lost.
"Never mind... Did you send the diary to Parker yet?" She wasn't sure if Miss Parker would show her something so personal.
"Not yet." He admitted, "It's another thing I don't think she's ready for."
Madeline nodded comprehension, "Do you have it with you now?"
"Do you think it would be okay for me to read it?" She asked hesitantly.
"Sure." He shrugged easily.
"Good." She smiled, "I'm not sure when I'll be able to meet you again, but I should have some weekend competitions coming up in the next couple of months. I can just tell Park they last longer than they do, or start a day earlier, so we can meet again."
"Okay." He said, nodding in a pleased manner, "I'll bring the diary for you to read."
"Thanks." She meant it from the bottom of her heart.
"Madeline." He said in the most serious voice she had ever heard him use, "Promise me you won't try anything before we've had time to plan it together."
"Don't worry, Jarod, I'll be good."
He nodded shortly, "You leave now, and I'll wait a few minutes before I go."
"'Kay." She stood to go. Jarod stood, too, to walk her to the door.