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Note: This is a sequel to The Bank. You don't really have to read it to follow what's happening, but saying you should is a shameless plug for me : )
I had caught him. It doesn't really matter how, or whether or not he let me. He was in the Center, and I was getting out as fast as I could.
Last night when I hauled him in, I passed him off to the sweepers and went down to my office. I removed my few personal items and went home to sleep.
The next morning I walked into Lyle's office at 9:00 am sharp. Since my father had disappeared again, Lyle was in charge, and my ticket to freedom.
Lyle had on his lizard-slime face as he held a bottle of champagne and talked with the members from the tower.
"Ahh my lovely sister Parker! Glad that you came to celebrate. You are, after all, the hero of the day."
I put on my own stoic smile but refused the champagne, it was too early, even for me, to drink.
"Lyle, How about we celebrate over lunch? Just the two of us, just like Daddy would have wanted." My smile got sickeningly sweeter.
He cocked his head a bit, unable to hid the surprise, but that smooth lizard grin came up just as fast.
"Yes of course, I'll drop by your office around...12:00?"
"Perfect" All this smiling was making me sick, so I turned on my toes and left.
I spent the next hour or so copying some files from my computer onto disks. Nothing that the Center would be threatened by, just a few emails from Daddy, Sydney, and Jarod.
Sydney entered and looked like he had not slept since Jarod returned.
"You look well rested" He stated, his tone hinted at anger and resentment.
"I am." I ignored his undercurrent remark about my apparent apathy towards Jarod's condition.
"What are you going to do now?"
"I'm going to leave it all behind Sydney. Jarod's back and I'm leaving, never to return."
He folded his arms and looked down at me. "Don't you care about what happens to Jarod?"
"Whether I care or not is irrelevant Sydney. It's out of my hands."
"Par-ker.." His voice sounded like a parent disapproving when one sibling says they don't love the other.
"I'm sorry Sydney. I've spent my life trying to get my father's approval. I know that that's not going to happen. Hell, he's not even here to give it! So now I'm leaving as fast as I can. I can't wait and worry about Jarod."
I did care about Jarod and didn't want to see him broken in anyway, but I was too tired to keep living and fighting at the Center.
"What will you do Parker? You'll be bored."
"Maybe I'll take up painting. Say goodbye to Brootes for me. Tell him to take care of Debbie."
Sydney gave up. He knew me well enough to drop the topic. He would come back ready to fight again, but I didn't plan on staying that long. Jarod had been back for less than 12 hours, and I planned on being out by this afternoon.
"Take care of yourself then" Sydney said. I stood up and hugged him.
Lyle entered, and saw us hugging. I was actually glad he arrived when he did because a bit longer and I think I would have cried. I knew this was going to be the last time I would see Sydney.
"I will Sydney. That's my new purpose."
I turned to Lyle, smiled and picked up my purse as we headed out.
Lyle drove us to a small restaurant. The food was great, but better yet, the tables were very private.
Lyle waited until we had ordered before talking.
"Okay Parker, what's this about?"
"I have a deal for you."
He raised his eyebrows. Getting Lyle's interest was easy, you just have to use the right words.
"When Jarod escaped three years ago, I made a deal with Daddy. I bring Jarod back, and I get to leave the Center - no questions asked. I want that same deal Lyle. Daddy's gone and you are now the one to get it from. I want to leave the Center, change my name and never return. Never be followed. L*E*F*T A*L*ON*E."
Lyle smiled and nodded. I think that he was expecting me to plea for Jarod, especially after seeing me with Sydney. But this was a topic he could understand: self-preservation.
"What about the Major and the Boy..."
"Not my problem. I caught Jarod, The Center's other lab rats are it's own problems. And if Jarod escapes again, also not my problem. I'm not about to be his hunter for the rest of my life."
He nodded again. "And Raines? Are you going to let him get away with shooting you and our mother?"
"I'll deal with it. Sydney and Jarod are right. Killing the bastard and becoming a murder is not the solution. Raines' current state will have to suit me. If he ever returns to his evil self, I just hope that the he'll know about the poetic justice of his reeducation."
I was ready for all his questions. I had thought this scene out in my head hundreds of times. I knew he was trying to provoke me by aiming at my, well our mother, but I knew his week spot too, power.
"You are willing to leave the Center completely behind? Never see anyone again? Daddy... Brootes.......Sydney?"
I gave him an affirmative nod.
"Ok so you want to leave the Center. We turn our backs while you drop off the face of the earth. Why should I let you?"
I smiled. This is where the Parker gift of talking comes in.
"Because when once I've left, you'll get it all. There will be no other Parker to compete with for chairman of the board. If, and when Daddy returns, you'll get my inheritance. The rode up the ladder is clear for you go grab the power. You'll get it all Lyle."
He took a sip of wine contemplating. Then the waiter showed up with our food and Lyle once again waited until he left before speaking.
"Okay, you've got yourself a deal." He took another sip, and without breaking eyes contact he said, "What about Jarod?"
I nodded. "Give me some time to say goodbye. Listen or not, I don't care. But when we get back, take me too him and then I leave. For good."
"You know he came in with some interesting marks on his back. Looks like your lab rat got lucky recently."
"He's not my lab rat." I didn't make a move to signal my guilt.
Lyle apparently accepted my answer because we ate in silence until we were almost done.
"If I let you see Jarod, you have to do one more thing for me."
I was ready for this too.
"You've got to let me know where you are. I and I alone will know. I'm sure you'll want to be contacted, if something were to happen."
"I have a friend who works in a post office. You can send me a letter there. He'll get it to me."
I had set the scheme up just a last week. Brootes traced a package there and I learned that Jarod had been rerouting mail through that branch for over a year. Jarod's friend was more than willing to do the same for me.
"No Parker, you don't understand. I want to know where you are and how you are doing."
This surprised me. He continued.
"It doesn't have to be anything detailed, write to me about a place you were months after you left. I want to know that you are safe, and hopefully happy. I've never had a good family Parker, and I know that you haven't either. And you may hate me now, but I know that you want the same thing: a real family member who you can trust. You turned down my offer before, in the cemetery, please don't do it again. This is completely away from the Center. This is between you and me."
I was stunned. I rejected him in the cemetery because I felt it was a way to control me and get to Daddy. But I was leaving the Center. We would not be competing anymore, so there could only be two reasons. The first is that he would someday pull me back into the Center, and just needed to keep me in reach until then, and the second is that he was telling the truth. I didn't know which one I wanted to believe more. The conniving Lyle I knew or the unknown Lyle my twin.
"Okay. I will." I knew that one day I would have to face the Center again -- that was inevitable no matter what precautions I took. And having a correspondence with Lyle might lead to that friendship that I really did want, deep, deep, DEEP down.
We shook on the deal and got up to leave. Lyle dropped more than enough money on the table and we drove back to the Center.
Outside Jarod's Cell
I watched the monitor for a few moments. Jarod was pacing, his eyes down and his hands behind his back.
"Hello Jarod" I said entering, without feeling -- not enjoyment nor sadness in the statement.
He stopped pacing. "Hello Miss Parker. I suppose you are off then."
I nodded and removed a piece of paper and a small pencil from my pocket. I handed it to him.
"The code please Jarod."
He nodded and wrote down the code to bank account that he had created for me from all of my mother's scattered accounts.
He handed the paper and pencil back and looked at me.
"I wish you good luck. It's harder than it looks."
"Is Richard helping you?"
I was not surprised as I should have been. Richard was the friend at the Post Office.
"Yes he is."
"Good. Do you know what will happen here once you leave?"
I shook my head.
"A lot of people will miss you. You seem to instill a strong sense of loyalty in those you meet."
I thought about it. Boy Genius was right again. Lyle had just proven that very point.
I stepped up to him, forcing him against the wall, and kissed him, my arms encircling his neck, and my leg sliding up his.
He leaned forward and kissed me back. Like that first passionate kiss we shared not so long ago, he held my hips to his with one hand and stroked my hair with the other.
After an eternity, I pulled back and ran my tongue over his lips one last time. Then I leaned my head against his chest and his strong arms hugged me.
"I will miss you Melissa" he whispered into my ear.
I looked up into his brown eyes.
"I have always missed you Jarod. And I always will."
I put my head back down and gave him a final hug. Then I left.
Lyle was waiting for me outside the door. He had his arms crossed and his eyebrows raised.
"He's not your lab rat?" he questioned, taking my hand and running his remaining thumb over my fingernails.
I smiled at him. "Not anymore. I've gotten all I could from Wonder Boy."
Lyle escorted me out to my car. He offered his hand again, and we shook once more.
"So long Parker, don't for get to write."
I drove away from the Center to the edge of town. There I switched cars leaving Parker behind and driving off as Elizabeth.
Please let me know what you think!!!