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Chapter or Story Chapter or Story
It's almost over. But not yet.
Time to clear things up.
When the last guest left, the doctor accompanied Jarod to his room with his relatives in tow. Parker, Ethan, and Catherine took advantage of that moment of calm to clear things up.
For Miss Parker, one question needed an answer more than any other.
“Mom.” Parker whispered, enjoying the cool breeze in her hair. “Ethan and I had time to talk about it and we – we noticed that we don’t hear the voices anymore.”
Catherine smiled, “I’m not surprised.”
“Do you – do you still have the gift? You can still hear them?” Ethan asked.
Catherine waited a moment before answering, almost dryly but tenderly, “Yes.”
“Why we can’t?” Parker demanded, she was already missing her inner sense.
“It’s just an assumption, but I believe that since you fulfilled your destiny your inner sense have no reason to exist anymore. Especially after we met.”
“It was your voice we heard inside us.” Ethan stated.
Catherine nodded with a smile, “As a matter of fact, I’ve tried to guide you as much as I could, all these years. I tried to communicate with you, even if sometimes it was impossible. Now you don’t need my voice in your head because I’m here with you, again.”
Parker smiled in affection, “Yes.” she took her hand and kissed it. “You came back.”
Catherine nodded, getting emotional for the love her children were demonstrating her. She felt she didn’t deserve it.
Catherine cried silently.
“There are so many things to say, still.” Parker gasped, this time with some resent in her voice.
“I know, Sweetie.” her mother replied. “You’ve got at least a million questions, and I’ll answer, even to Jarod’s ones. We’ve got all the time in the world now that the Centre is not a threat anymore.”
Miss Parker nodded, glad that her mother understood her urge to know the truth, once and for all.
Ethan, instead, seemed a bit upset. The voices had been a part of him for many years, and now, suddenly, he had found out he would live without them.
Would he feel alone?
Almost as if she was reading his mind, Parker said, “We’re sticking together from now on. We take care of a few things and then we find a nice place to settle. Nobody will get in our way, ever. Promise?” she asked, this time addressing herself to both.
“Deal.” Catherine answered.
“Deal.” Ethan concluded, hugging his sister.
So much was said in the next couple of hours.
Catherine told them about their births, how Mr. Parker had decided to inseminate her with Raines’s semen. She revealed her feelings when she had discovered that Raines was her brother-in-law – and she’d never known.
She explained how difficult it had been for her to leave Ethan at Raines’s mercy, knowing that he would exploit him just as the Centre was doing with Jarod.
She told them why she’d never tried to contact them all those years.
During the conversation, there were hard moments. Like Parker acknowledging that her mother abandoned them to a terrible destiny without even trying to get back and save them. Catherine asked for their forgiveness, she wanted her daughter to understand that faking her death had been the right thing to do to protect not only her children, but Jarod and Angelo, too.
Catherine told them about the struggles of being on the run; at first, hiding on her own, and then with Margaret.
The two women had traveled a lot, they had been to Africa, they had landed many times on Carthis, too. Margaret had decided to go on the island on her own just a few days before Parker and Jarod did.
Catherine clarified that only after Jarod’s escape they had decided it was time to move. It had taken them almost seven years, but they had eventually paved a secret path to help Miss Parker, Jarod, and Ethan make a plan to destroy the Centre. Catherine always kept an eye on Ethan and Parker’s life, just like Margaret followed Jarod’s pretends, even if she knew she couldn’t get in touch to protect him from the Centre.
One day, Ethan popped up like a magician, guided by his inner sense to find them in a flat on the outskirts of New York. He had escorted the two friends to Major Charles’s, so that his father could hide them while Jarod and Parker’s plan to destroy The Centre began.
Glad of being finally reunited with their family, Margaret had begged the Major, Emily and Jesse not to tell anything to Jarod.
Catherine almost passed out when she met Jesse, witnessing the madness behind Project Gemini. She had felt like travelling back in time when an adolescent Jarod sat by her side. But talking with Jesse had made her realize that he was different from Jarod in so many ways. He was his own person.
More sociable, more peaceful, mostly because he had been freed from The Centre much sooner than the pretender.
And yet, he shared the same cleverness, the same ironic sparkle and, of course, the same voice that belonged to her little Jarod.
Parker didn’t blame Catherine, Margaret and Ethan for not telling her the truth. She understood the women’s motives.
And yet, she couldn’t help but feeling left out; she would have deserved more trust from her mother. The same trust she was struggling to accord her, now.
“You’ll learn to trust me again, eventually, Charlotte.”
Parker grimaced when she heard her name, “Mom, nobody had called me by name since you disappeared. Ever. To everybody I’ve always been Miss Parker.”
The woman nodded, “I know. But to me, you’ll always be my little Charlotte. The daughter I abandoned even if I never wanted to. You hate me for that?”
Parker sighed. It wasn’t easy to leave it all behind.
Now that she had time to ponder about this, her pride was surfacing from the inside.
“I don’t hate you, Mom. I love you with all my heart. But it’ll take some time before I can trust you again. I hope you understand.”
“I deserve this, sweetie. Your love has always kept me going. It will always be enough.”
Parker had left her mother and brother with a kiss to get back inside the hospital.
In the corridor outside Jarod’s room, Broots and Debbie were chatting with Angelo and Zoe, the only outsider who was still there.
Parker couldn’t believe the incredible progress made by Angelo since getting out of The Centre. He seemed able to socialize more with people, he could also exchange more senseless sentences than before.
And once again, Michael had fallen asleep in his arms. Angelo seemed to be the perfect babysitter for her son.
She stopped in front of the little group and all of them went quiet when they noticed her serious expression.
“Broots, would you do me a big favor and take Angelo and Michael back at my place? I’m going to reach you in a while.”
Realizing that Parker trusted Angelo enough to leave him alone with Michael, Broots smiled for how much things had changed.
Miss Parker was the same in her looks and in her sarcastic remarks, but she was finally conceding to her emotional side, too. She really had a heart.
“Of course, Miss Parker. Let’s go Debbie, it’s been a very long day.”
Zoe knew that this woman had something to tell her, so she stood back, ready to challenge her.
Miss Parker began, “Nobody would ever expect us to get along. And you ain’t no woman I’d make a Thelma-and-Louise trip on the road with.”
Miss Parker was good with words and boy, she went straight to the point.
“You’re everything I never was. You’re enticing, you are fun, and you really care for people around you. You were there for him when I couldn’t.”
“Couldn’t or wouldn’t?” Zoe corrected her.
It was Parker’s turn to smirk, “Touché.”
Zoe smiled in return, glad for causing such reaction in her opponent.
“I know it would mean the world to Jarod –” Parker sighed, it was so difficult to say these words “- If we could be civil. He loves you, he won’t exclude you from his life.”
“Maybe it’s weird” Zoe nodded. “But I agree.”
Then she stretched her hand, looking for a handshake to seal the deal with this strong, confident woman. Parker, reluctantly, conceded.
Zoe walked away, but Parker stopped her, “Zoe.”
The red-headed turned around while Parker did the same thing.
The former Centre operative approached Zoe, walking until her face was only a few inches from the other woman’s.
Her quintessential intimidating tone made Zoe shiver when Miss Parker threatened, “Try get in the way between us, and I kill you.”
Zoe waited a few seconds, then she grimaced, “See ya, Miss Parker.”
Parker stared at her leaving the hospital with contentment.
Margaret, Major Charles and Sydney were still in Jarod’s room. When the pretender saw Miss Parker, his face lit up.
They’d been parted for only a few hours, but he’d missed her. This complete dependency scared Jarod at times. On the run, he had gotten used not to depend on anyone, to live in complete loneliness. And yet that day, when all those people had surrounded him with love and affection, he had realized that it felt good to be able to count on someone.
And sure, Parker was still threatening as a sharp blade, but Jarod had always known that he could trust her. Even in the darkest hour, when she was his hunter. There was always a weird connection between them, a bond that Jarod had never been able to cut.
He wouldn’t want it any other way.
“Miss Parker! Jarod was telling us about the bank in Dover,” Phillip explained her.
“Remember how we wreck them?” Jarod asked.
“We?” Parker grimaced, in fake disbelief, “If it wasn’t for me, Jarod would be still there, trying to negotiate with them.”
Everybody laughed and Jarod thought that, for how sharp they were, her remarks always made his life better.
Parker amused him, even if he would never laugh openly to her jokes. She made him laugh inside, she enlightened his dark soul. She always was, since when they were kids and she invented nicknames for Mr. Raines.
“Well, it’s late, we’re leaving now, son.” Margaret kissed her boy goodbye and exited the room with Major Charles.
“Bye, big bro.” Emily hugged Jarod before following her parents outside.
It was only the three of them.
Everything had begun with them, and everything would end with them.
“What did Zane tell you?” Jarod demanded, glad that he could finally speak freely.
“Everything’s ready.” Sydney replied. “Tomorrow, I’ll be dead.”
Jarod nodded in silence and Parker squeezed her putative father’s hand, trying to show her affection.
“I’d like Angelo to settle in with me.” she said “At least until we figure out what our lives are going to be.”
Sydney nodded. He had decided to move in with Michelle and Nicholas, and even if the idea of departing from Angelo hurt him, the psychiatrist knew that there wasn’t place for him in their lives, at that moment.
“He’s a good babysitter.” Parker talked on, trying to lift Sydney’s mood.
“I don’t want to leave you.” he confessed, to both his children.
Jarod and the woman exchanged a look, they didn’t need words to express their feelings.
“How can I go on without you?” Sydney asked, squeezing Miss Parker’s hand more tightly. He had been with her everyday, for years, and now he didn’t know how to say goodbye.
“We can meet every day, if you want to.” She proposed.
“And I’m going to call you every night to annoy you. I don’t have my favorite huntress to torment anymore, but I couldn’t cope without my mentor’s advice!” Jarod reinforced the message.
Sydney nodded, a tear streaming down his face.
“Angelo might need me.”
“We’ll take care of him, Sydney. Everything’s going to be fine.” Parker held him, she’d never seen him so vulnerable, not even when she had shot him by mistake in that basement.
Jarod decided that was the right moment to reveal a few things to the people he loved the most.
“Sydney, I’ve spoken with Michelle. She agreed to move down here with Nicholas. He already found a job in New Haven, and I already purchased a home that would suit you all.”
“New Haven?” Sydney asked, with curiosity.
Parker was stunned by that revelation, too. Jarod didn’t want to live in Jacksonville, then?
“I’m not going to accept Zane’s offer. I want to enjoy my family, my children, my life. I guess I just need it, after so many years of unfinished business.”
“You won’t go to Washington?” Parker asked, her heart beating faster.
“No, Parker. Ben told me that he wants to ask Catherine to live with him in Maine, and Ethan would love to spend some time with his mother. He’d be glad if you were there, as well.”
Parker shook her head.
“Parker” Jarod interrupted her train of thoughts. “You need to be with your mother, now. You must make up for lost time.”
“So, why don’t you settle in Jacksonville, with your parents? I can already picture this, Oh, hello Mom, I’m Clio, where is daddy? Sorry love, he lives a thousand miles from here!”
Sydney smiled for the first time since a few minutes, Jarod sighed in exasperation.
“Parker, let me fin – ”
“No! Do you realize that in eight months I’m going to pop out your daughter, and I’m gonna need you more than ever? How can you possibly even think of leaving me alone in such a moment?” she yelled.
“Parker, let me –”
“Save your half apologies, I’m not leaving you, ok? Not even if –”
When she heard her name, she almost shivered.
If they had been alone, she would have probably jumped on the bed, biting every inch of Jarod’s skin.
“I’m coming with you, too.”
Parker opened her mouth in astonishment, “But…you just said –”
“No, you said!” Jarod scoffed in amusement, “Have you ever noticed, Sydney, that she never let you finish a sentence?”
“Yes, I noticed once or twice.” he replied, smiling.
Jarod raised his hand to put a lock of Parke’s hair behind her ear. She looked almost…emabarassed?!
“Sydney, would you mind leave us for a few minutes?” Jarod asked.
The old man nodded and exited the room using with his crutches.
“I hate it when you deliberately embarrass me, Jarod.” Miss Parker confessed, visibly annoyed.
“No, you don’t.” he replied, dragging her towards him. “This was our twisted game for years, our relationship was always a tit for tat, we looked like an old married couple, constantly fighting.”
Parker giggled, “You’ve no idea how many of those conversations Sydney and Broots overheard. They probably cursed the speakerphone for years.”
Jarod laughed, “That was just - skirmishes between lovers. Like when we got stuck in the Keys.”
“Mmm, I don’t remember.” she teased him.
Jarod sat in his bed and bended to meet her face, keeping the same dangerous distance of that night, after he had tied her up.
“You know, what I’ve always wondered?” he asked.
“Uhm?” she asked, wistful.
“I was a coward, that night. I reminded you of our first kiss instead of kissing you.”
Parker just smirked and stared at him.
“What would you have done? If had kissed you, I mean.”
“Well, at first I would have bang heads with you.” she replied, making him laugh. “Then…”
Parker reached out and kissed him passionately, then she bit his inferior lip, pushing him back. She licked her lips, tasting Jarod’s blood.
Jarod gasped, “Message received. No more mind games.”
“You’d better, boy wonder.”
“Back to business. I spoke with my parents and they’re ready to move to Maine. They’d be close enough to visit often. And Jesse needs me. And even if you wouldn’t believe it, I think you should be a part of his life, too. You’re one of the few people he totally trusts.”
“Ah, what have I ever done to both of you, Jarod!” she mocked him, ironically.
“I admit you have a certain influence on us both.” Then he got serious again. “When Clio is born we can get back to New Haven. I’ve bought that house hoping that one day we would live there, together. It’s huge, Angelo will have his own space and our children will grow up in a safe place, surrounded by trees. And they will be close to our families.”
“You had the time to think about this, uh?”
“Broots will be in Washington, close enough to take a flight and visit with Debbie. Sydney will be there, too. You saw how much he still needs you.”
“He needs you.” she added, more and more convinced that Sydney would be incomplete, without Jarod, who nodded in agreement.
“And about us…well, I want to make up for every second I wasted pretending to be running from you.”
Parker took the chance to clarify a couple of things, “Even the time you spent in Zoe’s company?”
“Parker.” Jarod almost reproached her.
“Tell me the truth, you had more fun with her.” she challenged him, a bit hurt by that thought.
Jarod let her talk herself, he already knew what to say to have the last word.
“I suppose that in your estate plan there’s a place for Zoe, too!” while saying so, she didn’t even notice Jarod caressing her belly lovingly, completely ignoring her while he realized he couldn’t wait to meet their daughter.
God, he wanted her to be as beautiful and as deliciously arrogant as her mother.
“You’re jealous.” he said, shortly.
Parker gave him a nasty look, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Jarod dragged her to him and kissed her again, afraid that she would bite him again to get revenge for his remark.
When they finally parted, breathing on each other’s face, he repeated, “You’re jealous.”
“You'd like that, wouldn't you?” but her tone betrayed the fact that she had been caught red-handed.
“Admit it, and I’ll tell you where I hid that time we played hide and seek at The Centre and you couldn’t find me for two hours.”
Parker stared at him in astonishment, too curious to let this go.
She had always wondered how Jarod had managed to disappear for such a long time; she had looked for him everywhere. Then, he had suddenly appeared to home base and won that match. This always happened when they played hide and seek.
“Where?” she questioned.
“In your father’s office.” he replied, with the satisfied smirk that always make women fall at his feet.
“I swear. If I think about it now, I was really incautious, but the adrenaline of that day lasted for a while!”
Parker chuckled and decided that Jarod deserved his prize. “Ok, Pez-Head, I was jealous. Tell me who wouldn’t be. I’m in love with a genius whose IQ is far above the average, who’s charming, amusing, generous, passionate, and – incredibly sexy.”
“Were you talking about someone?” he smirked again.
“God, that thing is going to kill me one day.” she concluded, jumping on the bed next to him and lying down, rocked in his tender hold.
“Parker, there’s one last thing I need to ask you, and then I promise we won’t talk about it anymore.”
She nodded, noticing his sudden seriousness.
“Are you happy with me? I mean…” he paused, in apprehension, “happy as you were with Thomas?”
Parker was taken by surprise. Why was he coming up with such a ridiculous question, now?
Parker had thought about this many times. How her life would have been, if Thomas hadn’t been killed. If they had managed to leave. If they had gotten married.
But that was just a list of endless “ifs”.
Thomas was a good man, they would have been happy together, sure.
However, Tommy was even tremendously honest and maybe, one day, he would have told Miss Parker that he actually knew Jarod.
Parker answered the pretender’s request with another question.
“What do you think my reaction would have been, had I found out that you knew Tommy? That you’d been the one who allowed me to meet him?”
“At that time, I did because – ”
“Because you love me.” she interrupted him, cutting him short.
“You always had. You wanted me to be happy, and if I couldn’t be happy with you, then I might as well have been with a wonderful man like Tommy. And believe me, I loved him very much, Jarod. I wanted to try and give him all myself.”
“I told you once, if you had moved to Oregon, I would have disappeared from your life. I was the one pushing you to give him a chance, remember?”
Parker smiled, “You told me not to let them take away my happiness.”
Still one of the most beautiful things he ever told her.
“And later, when you didn’t want to leave with him, I encouraged you to go, I pleaded you to go.”
“And I said, You'd like that wouldn't you?” she chuckled.
Jarod ignored her, “I really meant it, Parker. I wanted you safe and happy, with Tommy.”
“I know, Jarod. But answer me, now. What do you think I would have done if one day, by chance, Tommy had told me the truth about your friendship?”
Jarod didn’t know what to say; he also didn’t know what to expect from Parker.
“You think I would have said, 'Oh, that’s great, so you and Jarod knew each other; Tommy, you know that we used to play doctor together, when we were kids at The Centre?'”
Jarod sighed in exasperation.
“I would have hated both of you for manipulating me, just like my father, Lyle and Raines. I would have thought that our relationship was just your mis-en-scene, a way to control me and keep me away so that I wouldn’t chase you anymore.”
“It wasn’t like that!” Jarod complained.
Parker patted him, “Shut up, let me finish! Then I would have come back to Delaware. You would have appeared out of nowhere; you would have called to confess everything, like you did one year after Tommy’s death. That you lit the torch. I would have realized, in any case.”
“Realize what, exactly?” he wasn’t following her.
“That you really cared for me. That you wanted my happiness, that you loved me, even if we didn’t want to say it out loud.”
“I wasn’t that explicit when I called you that day. You were upset, you were thinking just about Tommy, certainly not about what I felt for you!” he responded, a bit offended.
“Jarod, he’d been dead for a year! You know what anniversaries do to me, are you blaming me for that?”
“Of course not, Parker. I was the one who helped you discovering who murdered him.”
“Yes, you were, and I’ve never appreciated you more. I must have realized that I was still in love you, back then. I didn’t want to run the risk of ending up not telling you, at least once.”
Jarod sensed she was over, but he said, “You didn’t answer my question.”
Parker knew she couldn’t lie to Jarod. She couldn’t cheat, with him.
He wanted a real answer.
“I would have been happy with Tommy, yes. But sooner or later I would have realized that it was just a fallback. Running from my past, far from the man I was truly in love with. Tommy was smart, he would have understood, too. Maybe I would have hurt him, had I left him to go back chasing you.”
“You think so?”
Parker nodded, “I’m so happy with you, Jarod. We’ll be happy together. And we’ll be free, finally.”
Jarod smiled and kissed her forehead.
“And what about you, Jar? Are you happy now?”
“I once asked Sydney if I would ever feel whole. I’m the happiest man in the world, now that the last missing piece of the puzzle went to its place.”
Parker smiled to herself, sensing what was coming next.
“You are that last piece.”
They didn’t talk more.
They lied down, wrapped with each other, until they both fell asleep.
They didn’t need anything else, that day.
That day, they had everything one might want from life.
Reviews for the last chapters would be appreciated :)