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Thanks: To Lenore and Ginger for looking this over.
Authors Notes: This story takes place after 'Turning Point' and 'Sanctuary'. You might want to read those first before reading this.
Falling Down an Upward Spiral (part 1/8) by M. Rose
"So we meet again." Lyle snickered as two sweepers held the Pretender in place. His smile turned serious and he aimed his 9mm at Jarod, "You've caused me a lot of pain, Jarod."
Jarod's eyes narrowed as he spat out, "My heart is just crying for you."
"Ah, Jarod, but it will." Lyle leaned in closer and whispered in the Pretender's ear, "You will be begging me to kill you when I'm done."
"I wouldn't bet on it."
"We'll have to see about that."
Miss Parker rushed in, "Lyle, what are you do..." she stopped in her tracks when she saw the scene before her.
Lyle turned his head toward his sister and smiled triumphantly. "I win, sis." His arm swung towards her and in that split second Jarod realized what her brother was planning to do.
"PARKER, GET OUT OF HERE."
"I guess that means you lose."
Before she could heed Jarod's warning, the bullet pierced her chest. She looked down in shock as her cream-colored silk blouse quickly became drenched with the crimson liquid and then fixed her eyes on her childhood friend before collapsing to the ground.
Her sibling laughed uncontrollably as Jarod screamed, "NOOOOO."
Squeaking in with oxygen tank by his side, Raines passed by his supposed daughter and towards Lyle. "Good work, son. I knew you wouldn't disappoint me." He turned his attention towards his captive, "Time to go where you belong, Jarod. Time to go home. There's nothing left for you out here."
She couldn't be dead, he thought, but as soon as he saw a significant amount of blood flow out of her, he knew. Lyle was right about one thing; he wanted to die.
He fought as hard as could to get to Parker's body, but the sweepers dragged him the opposite direction.
"PARKER." He woke up fighting sheets instead of sweepers.
It was only a dream. Correction, it was a nightmare. One he hadn't been able to shake since his confrontation with Lyle a few days ago.
Peeling off the sweat-soaked sheets, he walked on unsteady legs into the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. It helped to wake him up, but it didn't take away the feeling of dread coursing throughout him. He looked up and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He looked awful. He was glad to be in-between pretends. He was clearly in no position to concentrate.
As hard as tried to stay awake, he would eventually nod off and then the nightmares would start up again. Every time it was the same scene over and over again and his fear that it might come true, overwhelmed him.
How could he help others, if he couldn't help himself?
He had to find out if his fears were true or if he was just going crazy. As he looked at his computer, he knew there was only one thing to do.
He was able to get the last flight into Delaware. Not only was it the last place he should be, it was an irrational move to make. He should have simply called her or asked Sydney if she was okay, but it wasn't enough. He had to see her in person. He had to make her believe there was a clear and present danger to her life. Lyle would let NOTHING get in his way of achieving power at the Centre aside from death.
There was no question about it; she had to get out of there.
But how could he convince her to leave with him? He would tell her the truth. He had never lied to her and wouldn't start now. She would probably laugh at his insistence, shove her gun in his face. "So Wonder Boy's a psychic now?" and insist that the situation would be under control, "Oh, I think I can handle my brother."
He remembered what Sydney told him. "But, if the person in question is worth the effort, don't stop trying, Jarod. You might be surprised at the result."
The odds were against him.
When he arrived at the cottage, he noticed her car in the driveway and touched the hood. It was still warm, which meant that there was a good chance she was still awake. However, there wasn't a single light on and that caused Jarod's internal alarms to go off. What if she was hurt? Or worse? He tried to rationalize that she probably had gone to bed early, but it didn't work. The sooner he would see that she was okay, the better he would feel.
Once inside, he looked around for anything unusual. Nothing was out of place. And then as he approached the living room he saw her. She was lying on the couch with her eyes closed. The slow rise and fall of her chest indicated she was merely asleep and he sighed in relief.
He took the rare opportunity to watch her. The worry lines were gone, making her look years younger. Also gone was the usual scowl that graced her face too often to count. Didn't she realize that all she needed to capture him was that dazzling smile of hers? She was still dressed in her usual designer work clothes and held an empty glass in one hand that looked ready to fall at any moment. Careful not to wake her, he slowly took the glass and placed it on the coffee table.
Removing the picture frame tightly clutched over her chest would be harder to accomplish. He gently pulled the frame free from her grasp and turned it around to see the photo of her and her mother. She must have been thinking of her mother before she fell asleep and a twinge of sadness went through him.
He placed the frame next to the glass and jumped a little when he felt something touch his cheek. It was a hand ... her hand. She was awake and he thought for sure his life was over, but instead of hearing the click of her 9mm, he turned his head to see her looking at him intently. A look he had seen only one other time -- in front of Ocee's fireplace in the island.
This was definitely NOT what he expected. "Park--" Her thumb caressing his lower lip, stunned him into immediate silence. He figured she was still dreaming and needed to rouse her out of whatever daze she was in, but part of him liked what she was doing and wanted more.
She gazed at his mouth and stroked his lip again, "Shhh." He closed his eyes at the sensation and decided to investigate further before making any rash decisions.
Her gaze journeyed from lips to eyes and he could feel the electricity pull them together closer and closer until they met for a kiss.
This time without interruption.