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"The Pretender" and its characters don't belong to me (unfortunately!), they belong to their creators and owners and are being used without permission, but for no profit, just for fun.
Don't sue – you know, I have no money at all!
I came up with this idea while I was re-watching episode 4.09 “'Til Death Do Us Part”.
The first time I saw that ‘twisted little model of Parker’s first meeting with Thomas’ and Jarod hidden in the warehouse, dressed up like a clown…I felt like I could cry for days.
I don’t know why he would have wanted to hide this secret from Miss Parker.
I guess he might have been a bit worried about her reaction, and maybe also a bit ashamed. But you know what? I’ve always thought Tommy was a great guy, and so I started to imagine things that Jarod and Thomas might have been sharing before the pretender’s decision to introduce the man to Miss Parker. Were they close? Were they friends? Did they often talk about Parker?
You’re going to find out by reading this. I hope you like it.
Oh, and last but not least. English is very far from being my native language, so please: be kind.
And last but not least, my total gratitude goes to Danielle SmileyFace, my Beta for this fiction. She’s one of the sweetest persons I’ve ever known on the web and she’s always very helpful and patient with me. Thanks a lot!
Chronicles of a Hidden Friendship - Part 1
Mr. Goldsmith was hanging from a rope dangling over the unfinished balcony of the fourteenth floor of the Wellington Hotel, in Dover. When he had first started to construct this building, he would have never imagined that one day it would become the place where he would die.
His screams couldn’t be heard anywhere, not from that height, not at that late hour.
“Scream all you want, nobody’s going to help you, Patrick!” a voice above him yelled to cover his shouts.
“Help! Please! Jarod, you’re crazy, pull me up!”
“Uh-uh. I think I’ll let you fall, then I’ll take all the money your insurance company is going to pay for your filthy life. That is, if you don’t survive. If you have the misfortune to survive the fall, well…we’ll think about that later!”
Jarod let go the rope for a couple of seconds, listening to Goldsmith’s screams of terror. Beside him, a man was helping to keep the rope steady and waiting for Goldsmith to confess his selfishness. After letting the man fall down a couple of feet, Jarod and his companion blocked the rope once again. Goldsmith was now dangling, hung by his feet and crying in despair.
“Jarod! Thomas! Let me go! Please, I’m going to do everything you want! I’ll give you every single cent that I have!” Goldsmith yelled, still whining.
“Like you did with Martin Anderson?” Jarod yelled deeply, he wanted Goldsmith to hear him well. Thomas stared at him, sweating for the pain and fatigue he was experiencing during that weird night. He knew Jarod was doing the right thing: Goldsmith was a liar, an impostor, a greedy man who deserved what was happening to him. And yet, he realized at that moment that maybe Goldsmith was right: Jarod seemed a bit crazy. That light in his eyes was almost terrifying.
“What are you talking about? Thomas, I know you’re my competitor in this whole affair, but please…help me!”
“Sorry Patrick, I’m following Jarod’s orders at the moment.”
“Oh my God!” shouted Goldsmith.
Jarod glanced at Thomas, who smiled at him in answer. Jarod knew that Goldsmith would have been tough to convince, but he had his own methods of persuasion. He grinned back at his friend, then started his longest speech.
“That man lost his legs because you hid his accident from the Insurance Company…You were afraid it would have stopped the work at the hotel, weren’t you? Your creditors were already breathing down your neck and you had to open the hotel as soon as possible to pay them back…So you left Martin alone, facing his destiny on his own…and this cost him both his legs…”
Goldsmith was still crying and screamed, “I had no choice! I would have lost everything I had, they wanted to take my hotel from me…I had no choice!” he repeated.
Thomas was becoming more aware of the situation, so he was the one who answered, “Martin has a little girl. Her name is Sarah…her mother is dead, her father was working hard to ensure her a future…What is he going to do now?”
Jarod noticed that Thomas’ motives seemed personal, more than he had realized before. He stared at him for a second, then he focused back on Goldsmith, waiting for his confession.
“Yes. Yes, I did it! God forgives me, yes, I did it! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please don’t let me fall, Jarod!”
“Is that what you would have done?”
Goldsmith rustled up all the strength he still had in his bones. He bent to look at his two persecutors, then he implored them, “Jarod, Thomas, please!”
“No!” Jarod shouted.
A glance at Thomas, and then they both let the rope go. Thomas was sure that Jarod would stop it in time, not to let Goldsmith hit the ground. But the more he fell, the more he screamed and the more Jarod waited.
Thomas ran towards the rope, but Jarod took him by his arm and stopped him.
“Wait.” he said. He seemed calm and conscious of what he was doing, while watching Goldsmith fall. Frightened to death, Thomas leaned over from the balcony and looked at the man. At that moment, the rope was blocked by a locking device, and the man’s fall stopped as he reached five feet from the ground.
“Sorry, Goldsmith!” Jarod intervened, “Not enough rope, I suppose.”
Thomas smiled, and Jarod shook his hand.
After spending some time with the authorities, Jarod was already packing his things. All his belongings consisted in his DSAs viewer and a bag containing some clothes and his relatives’ pictures. Thomas shook an officer’s hand, then approached Jarod’s side.
“Well, my friend, I’m sure Martin would be very glad to tell you in person, but I’m the one who’s going to thank you, for both of us.”
Jarod smiled, “You’re welcome, buddy.”
He loved addressing him by using that word, when he talked with Thomas. He’d never had a “buddy” companion before, that was a nice feeling. He’d known him just for a couple of weeks, and yet he felt like he’d been his friend for a lifetime.
Thomas was a nice guy, he’d helped him take down Goldsmith, thanks to him he had been able to save Martin’s life and his daughter’s, too. It felt good to work with him.
Jarod had realized at once that Tommy reminded him of himself. Not the darkest sides of his character, the brightest ones. He was funny and smart, and very generous. He couldn’t figure how he could possibly not have a girlfriend yet.
“Jarod, do you really have to go?” he asked him, once again.
“I’m sorry Tommy, but…I’m needed somewhere else…and I’m not supposed to stay too long in this part of the world…”
“Talking about Dover? Or Blue Cove?”
Jarod smiled “I’ve never been very comfortable in Blue Cove. I spent my childhood there and…it wasn’t a great experience. I grew up on my own, without ever knowing my family.”
“It’s terrible, I’m sorry, man!”
Jarod hesitated, then spoke, “Wanna see their pictures?”
They started to walk away, towards Jarod’s car. He put his bag on the car hood, then took some photographs from his diary.
“Is this your mother?” Thomas asked, looking at Margaret’s picture. Jarod nodded, his heart aching every time he thought about his mother.
“And that’s my brother Kyle. He died almost an year ago…” he explained, his voice a mere whisper. Thomas sighed.
“You know, my folks died when I was twenty…”
“I’m sorry…” Jarod answered, he knew too well the feeling of losing someone you love.
“Well I was so…angry, and hopeless, that I just walked away…I don’t have any photos of them.”
“It’s just a bunch of photos, but…they make me feel like…like they’re still with me. Like Kyle’s never gone, and like my mother’s watching over me…”
Thomas nodded in agreement.
“I feel so lonely, sometimes…I would like to…just find someone, you know? Someone who truly understands what it feels like to be…alone.”
Jarod sighed. He felt the same way, but he knew he would never find that kind of connection to someone, not unless he got rid of The Centre first.
He moved his pictures and a new one came into view.
“Hey, who is she?”
Jarod glanced at the photos and realized at once who’d caught Thomas’ attention. He would have never admitted, not with Sydney, neither with her, but he always kept her photo with him. He knew she would shoot him, should she found out, and yet he couldn’t help bringing that picture wherever he went.
“That’s Miss Parker.”
Tommy’s eyes were almost sparkling. He’d never seen such beautiful eyes before, not that he remembered. Jarod looked at the picture, his breath getting faster, then he looked back at Thomas.
‘And what if…’
“Who is she? Your girlfriend?” he asked, almost begging for a negative answer.
Jarod’s grin became a sad smile of resignation, “It’s complicated.”
“You’re not together? Why?”
“Parker was my best friend when we were young. We grew up together…we were…well…kind of one thing…”
“Then what happened?” Tommy realized at once he was almost discovering another secret of Jarod’s past.
“Things changed. She went away and became a…well let’s say she’s not the easiest person to get along with, now.”
Tommy smiled, “Wait a second, this is the Miss Parker who lives up on Brier, isn’t she?”
Jarod smiled, “Her reputation precedes her…”
Tommy laughed, “God, I’ve heard stories about her, but…I never thought she was real…”
Jarod was now grinning in appreciation. The idea was taking shape in his mind. It seemed so easy. Tommy…and Parker.
I feel so lonely, sometimes.
‘That’s what he said’, he thought. ‘Maybe this is crazy, but…what if…’
“So you know the evil Miss Parker who lives in Blue Cove…the world is small, after all!”
“Parker isn’t evil. She’s just lost…and she feels lonely, too…”
“What do you mean?” he asked, still looking at her picture.
“She lost her mother when she was young and she still suffers for her loss…her father…he never helped her through it.”
Jarod smiled, thinking about his childhood and all the nights spent trying to console Miss Parker.
“Yes. Yes I did.”
“Then why aren’t you together? It seems to me that she means a lot to you, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, she does. But…” Jarod sighed “We’re simply not meant to be. It’s never gonna happen between the two of us. I’ve already resigned myself.”
“Do you still see her?”
‘Yes, whenever she tries to catch me’, Jarod thought.
“Not as much as I’d love to. But it really doesn’t matter, because she hates me.”
“Hates you?” Tommy was now confused. How could she possibly hate a man like Jarod?
Jarod realized he had to come out with something fast. The fairytale about The Centre wanting him back because he was a pretender didn’t seem to be something he really wanted Tommy to know. Not yet, anyway.
“We had a…huge fight a few years ago. I wanted her to confront her father, she didn’t, and since then we…don’t talk anymore.”
“I’m sorry, Jarod…”
“I’m afraid she will never forgive me. But hey, I’m a young, handsome bachelor, ready to find hundreds of girls to make all my wishes come true!”
Tommy chuckled, “Well, if it were me, I’d never let go of a woman like this.”
‘I totally agree with you, buddy’, Jarod thought.
“Well, I hope so, because you’re going to meet her.”
“What?” Tommy asked him. Now he seemed really confused.
“I want someone to take care of her. And I’m certainly not the man that she needs to heal and become…a complete human being again.”
“It didn’t seem to me that you were willing to share her with someone, a few moments ago…”
Jarod grimaced. Tommy actually knew him well.
“Listen. I do care for her. A lot. But if I really want one thing…it’s to see her finally happy. I’ve known you for a while, Thomas, but I feel like we met a life ago. I trust you.”
Tommy nodded, not understanding where he was going with that.
“I trust that you can make her happy. You two would be great together!”
Jarod tried to imagine Parker with Thomas. His mind was filled at once with nice thoughts and feelings. Yes, it could work.
“I don’t know, Jarod…I don’t want this to spoil our friendship. I mean, she looks amazing, but…You’re one of the best friends I’ve ever had, I don’t want to lose that for a woman.”
Jarod smiled and grabbed his hand, in which Thomas was still holding Parker’s picture.
“You won’t. I promise.”
Thomas waited a second, thinking that Jarod was the best person he’d ever met in his whole life. He’d helped him save Martin’s life, and now he was rewarding him with the woman who was likely to be his soul mate.
“If you make her happy, then I’ll be the one who’s going to be in debt.”
Jarod had never been more sure of something in his life. He wanted Thomas to meet Parker. He wanted him to help her.
He knew he could make it.
“Where can I find her?”
Jarod smiled in relief and happiness.
“There’s a gas station down in Blue Cove where she always goes…”
Tommy was still recovering from the meeting he’d just had.
He couldn’t believe his eyes when he’d seen Miss Parker in front of that cigarette machine. He’d been visiting that gas station for days, since he came back from Dover. He’d been waiting for her to show up, and finally she had arrived. He’d never seen a more beautiful woman. She was even better than in Jarod’s picture.
When he’d realized she was willing to take a pack of cigarettes, he’d understood that was his chance. Jarod hadn’t made any mention about her smoking problem, and being an ex-smoker gave him an advantage. His heart had been beating so fast while talking to her.
And what had she said?
I don't have any friends.
Yeah, and in that moment he was almost going to tell her about Jarod, then he had struggled to stop the words coming out from his mouth.
He’d remembered the only condition that Jarod had imposed.
“Whatever she tells you, wherever the conversation leads, it doesn’t matter. You must never – ever – talk about me with her.”
“She wouldn’t understand. This is…”
“Complicated, I know…” Tommy smiled in answer.
“It’s very important, Thomas. Promise me.”
Jarod was hanging on his words.
“Not a word about you, Jarod. I promise.”
And he’d kept his promise. Even if their first encounter hadn’t been as agreeable as he had hoped. And yet, he was sure she had been surprised. He had that strange feeling she would come back. And in fact she had. And with just a couple of minutes he’d figured out how she really was. He’d remembered all the adjectives Jarod had used to describe her.
“Here, let me get that for you.”
“I can do it myself. Thank you.”
“So, you live up on Brier, don't you?”
“Careful. They have stalking laws in this state.”
The sharpest tongue ever.
“I'm restoring a split level just north of you.”
“That dump on the hill?”
“There's nothing quite like discovering a 17th century hardwood floor under a sheet of lime green linoleum.”
“I can only imagine.”
“Don't you have any passions Miss Parker?”
“You know my name.”
Uses jokes as a defense mechanism.
“Gates Restoration. Where everything old is new again.”
“I wrote that myself.”
“Move over Hemingway.”
And she was, indeed. She looked like an angel, even if she was more like a devil, inside.
Tommy had a hard job to do. He really had to help her to lower those walls she had built to protect herself.
While he was waiting for her to come back, he called Jarod. He wanted to let him know he’d finally seen Parker.
After a couple of rings, he answered the phone.
“What?” he asked. Tommy would realize only later, that Jarod often answered the phone like she was used to.
“It’s me, man. I met Parker a few moments ago.”
Tommy told him everything they said to each other, while walking inside the shop at the gas station.
“That’s great, buddy, when are you asking her out?”
“I don’t know if she’s ever going to accept, Jarod…she’s so…God, she’s so beautiful.”
Jarod felt his heart breaking into a thousand of pieces, but couldn’t actually blame Tommy for that. He’d been the one who had pushed him towards Parker, hadn’t he?
“Don’t worry. If I know her well, and I’m sure I do…”
“She’s wondering who you are and why you approached her.”
“And then she’s coming back.”
Tommy grinned and ended the call with a smile on his face.
A couple of hours later, he was preparing everything for his night to the bluffs. He truly wanted to try his new telescope, but he had a strange feeling.
‘What if she doesn’t come?’
Their last conversation had been abruptly interrupted by that weird woman, and since then he’d been wondering what Parker had to do with her.
The February sky was amazing. The evening wasn’t very cold, but the sky was very clear, there were no clouds in sight. He thought that Parker would enjoy this, should she come.
He’d almost implored her.
“Do I look like a hanging out in the woods kind of gal to you?”
“Well uh, not in those shoes, no, but uh, you can never tell when people are ready to dive into a new experience. Know what I mean?”
And he really hoped that she would kick off those shoes, that night.
His phone rang and he answered as fast as he could.
“Hey buddy…how’s the night going?”
Jarod was really hoping that Parker would show up at the appointment.
“I don’t know, Jarod…she’s not here yet, and it’s almost midnight. I think she’s not coming.”
Jarod sighed. He was still at the Luna Park where he had just left Rachel and her kids. So the music around him was very loud.
“Where are you?” Tommy asked him.
“Uhm…spending the night in a Luna Park!” he replied. ‘Well, it’s true!’, he thought.
Tommy smiled to himself. “You always surprise me, Jarod. So, what am I going to do?”
Jarod knew what he had to do. But he couldn’t tell Thomas he was going to call Miss Parker. Tommy didn’t know about their weird relationship and all the phone calls he made late at night.
“Have faith, buddy. I’m sure she’s coming.”
A minute later, Jarod dialed Miss Parker’s office number. Hoping not to hear her picking up the phone, he was really upset when she answered.
Forgetting his feelings, Jarod put on his pain-in-the-ass façade.
“It's midnight, Miss Parker. What a shock to find you still at the office!”
And that was true, indeed. But Miss Parker would never realize that Jarod was upset for her decision not to get out with Thomas.
“I was just on my way out…” she replied, more gently than usual.
Jarod looked inside his mind and heart. He inhaled slowly and decided what were the best things to say to her.
“I met a woman who reminds me of you. She was smart, compassionate… and tortured.”
He lingered voluntary on the last word.
“Is that what I am?”
Jarod felt he could talk more.
“Like you, she was a prisoner of her past, of people who wanted to control her future. Instead of fighting back she almost let them destroy her.”
“Doesn't sound like a happy ending.”
Jarod felt her disappointment, and knew at once there was still hope for her. She was still caring. For everything. For her life. For her future. For her happy ending.
“Oh, it all worked out in the end. I hope the same thing happens for you.” he confessed to her, and he meant it.
Jarod could hear expectation in Parker’s voice. Even if they were enemies, even if they pretended to hate each other, he knew she really listened to every word he said. He knew she still cared about him.
Then he told her the most beautiful thing she’d ever heard in her whole adult life.
“Trust your heart Miss Parker. Don't let them take away your happiness.”
When she hung up, Jarod was really hoping that she would go and meet Thomas.
And when Thomas saw her coming, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I didn't think you'd come.”
When Parker smiled, Thomas felt his heart almost exploding in happiness and emotion.
“Tell me about yourself.”
“What do you want to know?”
Tommy didn’t know where to start.
Thomas had spent the toughest week of his life with Miss Parker.
She had asked him to renovate her living room and to fix a wall damaged by water. Thomas had then seen her mother’s picture for the first time, which reminded him of Jarod’s words. He had advised him not to push her, should she not feel like talking about her mom. He’d also told him that Catherine’s daughter looked so much like her. In spite of his warning, Tommy had been enchanted to realize how much she really resembled her mother. However, following Jarod’s suggestion, he hadn’t gone too far.
“That's gotta be mom.”
“I look just like her, I know. She passed away when I was a little girl.”
“Oh. Must have been tough.”
Then he had diverted their conversation, trying to make her change her mind about the paint colour she wanted him to use for the wall. He had defined her a “doer”, and Parker had made him notice that she always got what she wanted.
Anyway, she hadn’t been offended by his comment, because later she said to him that she was indeed a “doer”, because she thought that stability breeds success.
Then he almost freaked out when he saw her gun. He didn’t want let it show, but he was really scared. Parker’s excuse for the fact she carried a weapon was as lousy as her lies about her job. What kind of sick “corporate risk assessment” company would make her carry a gun?
And when he told her he found another room behind the wall, she put the walls up once again, and all the chemistry between them suddenly disappeared.
So he called Jarod for advice.
“Hey buddy, how’s going with Parker?”
“I…uhm…I saw something that really scared me, today.” he replied.
“What, her sharp claws?”
Jarod chuckled, but Tommy didn’t.
“She carries a gun.”
Jarod shut up at once. Another thing he hadn’t mentioned before. How could he explain such a thing to Tommy?
“Well…she uses it…her company…”
“Yeah, she told me the story about the company that wants her to use a gun, that she feels safer with it…”
“Well it’s corporate policy…”
“Oh, come on, Jarod! Jee, you two live on the same planet. You are really meant for each other, you know?”
Jarod now felt a lump growing in his throat.
“What do you mean by that?!”
Tommy realized at once he’d just said a stupid thing. He actually believed what he had said, but it wasn’t the time, nor was he the right person to talk about that. He knew Jarod and Parker were very much alike, but he didn’t want to admit that she should be with Jarod instead of himself. And yet, Jarod had been very clear: they weren’t meant to be, were they?
“I’m sorry Jarod, please…I was just disappointed…why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you have to know her on you own. There will be dark places in her. Very dark places. And you must be ready to accept them, if you want this to work.”
“Meaning that I could reject her, should I find out she’s too…weird?”
“Not weird. Tortured.” Jarod corrected him. Parker wasn’t strange, neither different. She was just a very lonely woman. Grown up in the wrong place, just like him.
“Ok…you’re not hiding something from me, are you, Jarod?”
He didn’t like lying to Thomas. He was his friend, one of the best he ever had. But he couldn’t tell him about The Centre, he wasn’t ready to understand. And he didn’t want to put him in further danger.
“Look, I can’t tell you. But I’m sure of one thing. You have to be strong, if you want to win Parker’s heart.”
And he had tried indeed. Even when she had come back from her work and got frightened realizing that he had found out about her mother’s studio. She’d been very upset and that wall had become the symbol of her sorrow and resentment.
She had accused him of being a “stranger”, that she didn’t want to bare her soul to a man she didn’t really know. So he had tried to follow Jarod’s advice and hold on, even when she had yelled back at him.
“Is that what the gun's for? Hmm? To keep strangers away? I'm guessing your life is filled with them, starting with her.”
He had pointed at her mother’s picture.
“Put the wall back up while I'm gone.”
Tommy was afraid that might be the end. He didn’t know what to do.
Everything was so difficult.
Parker was difficult.
Jarod was right, he had to be strong if he really wanted to win her heart.
The idea came to him while putting the wall back up.
‘Every room deserved a door’, he thought.
If that would be the end, then he wanted to leave fighting, at least.
So he put a door in the wall. He locked it.
And he waited for Parker’s return.
He didn’t know where she had been, he didn’t even care.
All he knew was that he didn’t want to lose her.
And when he saw her face when she recognized the door shape, he understood he’d done the right thing.
He heard her apologies, and her tales about her mother, and how that room used to be her “sanctuary”. But he was sure that it wasn’t just for the room.
It was her sanctuary because of what she did with her daughter inside that room.
“When you closed off that room, you closed off a part of your soul. The part that came from her. Get it back.”
“I can't do it alone.”
“Come on. It'll be okay.”
When he stretched out his hand, and she let hers inside his, he realized he was actually falling in love with her.
‘Oh my god, now I’m in serious trouble’, he thought.
They spent the whole night inside that room. Catherine’s studio was full of dust and memories of the past she had shared with her daughter. Parker felt like she was coming back home after decades of absence. She could feel her mother’s presence throughout the place, and she liked that feeling. She even allowed herself to cry a bit in front of Thomas, who kept holding her hand while she wandered inside the studio.
And then he saw it. There was a black and white old photograph portraying two children together. One was definitely Miss Parker, because he’d seen other pictures of her as a child.
The other one was a boy. Dark hair, dark eyes, very sweet smile.
“Who’s that boy, your brother?” he asked her.
He didn’t want to hear the answer, because he was afraid he already knew was she would say. And he didn’t like lying to her.
Parker turned around and looked at the picture. She didn’t even remember when it had been taken, maybe before her mother’s death. It portrayed Jarod and her, they seemed happy. They were playing together.
“No, he’s just…”
Parker sighed. Thomas noticed a slight and imperceptible smile appearing on her lips. That was the moment when he realized that the feelings Jarod had for this woman were absolutely returned. Parker was visibly miles away, while looking at that picture. She even touched it slightly and sighed once again.
“He’s just a boy I used to know when I was a kid…” she explained Thomas.
“A friend?” he asked her, feeling a pain dictated by jealousy.
Parker glanced at him and smiled.
“The only one I’ve ever had.”
Tommy and Miss Parker had spent a wonderful month together. They’d even decided to leave for a couple of days, during a weekend of ostensible calm.
Tommy was so glad that she had accepted to join him for this trip, that he called Jarod to tell him the news.
“You know, Parker always answers the phone the very same way…”
“Thomas! Long time, no see! How’s life treating you?”
Jarod knew he was telling him the same words he had told Miss Parker during a phone call he had made almost a year before. There was a certain irony in it.
“Life is amazing, and I owe you for that, Jarod.”
Jarod felt happy. He had been trying not to call Thomas too much, and he had noticed his friend’s calls had become more occasional, too. That was a good sign.
“She’s doing well. But I feel like…she’s living in the moment. I always talk about the future, but she seems detached whenever I try to touch the argument.”
Tommy sighed “Well, the other day I told her…that I love her.”
Once again, Jarod felt his heart burn from beneath.
“What did she say?”
“Nothing. Well, she didn’t answer me. I don’t know if I should worry about that.”
Jarod felt a weird feeling of satisfaction, when he heard that news. So Parker hadn’t told him that she loved him, yet. Was it just because she wasn’t ready or…
‘Stop torturing yourself, Jarod!’ he thought.
“Parker is just scared, Thomas. I know she loves you, too. She wouldn’t have let you inside her life, otherwise.”
“Well, remember Mark, the realtor I was in touch with?”
“Yes, I do remember Mark. He’s such a boring man!”
“Well he is, but he just bought the house I’ve restored.”
“He found me a house…it’s in Portland… I would work out there for a while.”
“Maine is a lovely state.” Jarod replied.
“Nope, it’s Oregon.”
Jarod shut up for a moment. That was something he would have never expected Thomas to do. What would Parker do? Would she go with him?
And then Jarod had another revelation.
Parker just had to go with him.
It was her chance to be happy. It was her redemption. She could leave The Centre, once and for all. She would be happy. Far from him, but eventually free.
“Buy the house. And ask Parker to go with you.”
“What? Are you crazy? She’s never gonna leave her family!”
“She will, if you convince her.”
“I’m never gonna make it, Jarod. You know her. She won’t.”
“You have to try, Tommy. It’s not like you’ve got something to lose.”
Tommy was silent. Jarod felt his heart in his throat.
“Yeah. Parker and I are goin' away for the weekend, so we'll talk when we get back.”
“Okay, buddy. I'll see you again soon.”
“You take care, Jarod.”
Jarod hung up.
He’d never been more hopeful in his entire life.
Maybe this time everything would be ok, even for Parker.
End of Part 1.
Let's go straight to Part 2!