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"Syd! Hey, Syd!"
The Belgium man turned around to see Broots running toward him "Good morning, Broots. Late?"
The tech stopped to catch his breath. "No, at all. I've been here since 8 o'clock. You know how it is... "
The elder man smiled, nodding. "Yes, I know. Always searching for Jarod!"
"Yeah, but this time I have the feeling I'm falling through. That I'm actually getting somewhere." Broots shook his head.
Sydney frowned. "Why do you think that? What's happened?"
"You tell me." Was the nervous tech's reply.
Sydney seemed puzzled. "What do you mean?"
Broots checked at the people around them, there were a lot of people who came and went. Not the right place to talk privately.
Without a single word, they both made their way to the techroom, and only after closing the doors, Broots talked again.
"In the past couple of weeks, Jarod has written to Miss Parker three times, without caring to make the letters untraceable or encrypt them... "
"Did Jarod write again?" Syd asked but Broots didn't answer and kept on talking, like the psychiatrist never spoke.
"-and Miss Parker seems to have gone crazy. She suddenly vanishes, only to reappear after a few days, in a mood crazier than before. Each time she states to have not found Jarod, when each time the trail is clear and unmistakable!" Broots sighed deeply "That's why it's ME asking YOU: what's happening?"
Sydney nodded. "Please, tell me about the letter, first. Has Jarod written another one?" He asked as he looked through the daily mail, but found nothing that could be from Jarod.
"I've got it." said Broots, taking an envelope out from his pants pocket "I thought it was better keeping it away from.. indiscreet eyes." He explained, seeing the questioning look in his friend's eyes ".. considering the kind.. of letter.. "
Sydney stared at the envelope, not believing what he had in front of him: it was an absurd, incredible, red envelope covered with golden-paper hearts, glued on it! No doubt about what kind of letter it was!
"Is it... " Broots began but stopped for a moment "... what I think it is?" Sydney simply nodded, speechless "A... love letter?" Insisted the tech. Once again, Sydney nodded.
For a second, Broots stayed there, opened mouthed. Then he almost shouted "But he's crazy! Crazy, no doubt! Jarod writes love letters to Parker! I mean, Parker, you know, not exactly the next-door girl, and he's sending them HERE, my God!, to the CENTRE!!! Letters like this, then! Look, Syd, look at this letter!" Broots said, putting the envelope right under Sydney's nose "But how old is he? Thirteen? A RED letter, with GOLDEN HEARTS on it! Not even my daughter-"
"Would you calm down, please?" Syd cut him short "And lower your voice, too?" Again, Broots looked around himself to make sure there wasn't anyone lurking in the shadows. "Sorry, Syd, but it's... incredible, I mean- Jarod and Parker, Syd!!"
"I know, my friend, I know." Sydney tried to calm his agitated co-worker "It's been a shock for me, too, and still it is."
"You knew it! How? I mean.. she said to you.. " Broots shook his head in disbelief "Forgive me, Syd, but I can't imagine Miss Parker telling you secrets, THESE kind of secrets!"
Sydney smiled "Let's say... I forced her"
"And SHE let you live!" Sydney nodded, still smiling.
Broots felt like the world was going upside down. He rubbed his forehead, as if to clear his thoughts "Explain one thing to me, Sydney. Jarod is writing love letters to... Miss Parker, because.. he loves her, right?" Another nod, another smile.
"And... she... ?" Broots didn't dare to say more. Sydney's smile widened even more and his nodding became frantic.
The tech closed his eyes "Are you telling me... we are chasing Jarod all over the world, without any success, for all these years... when it would be like a kiss from Parker to catch him?"
"Crazy, don't you think?" Sydney was laughing openly, now.
"I think YOU are ALL crazy!" The tech burst out "But do you realize what could happen if someone, here-"
"That's why we'll be careful to let no-one know about this story." Was the quiet, calm answer from Sydney.
"WE? We who?" Asked Broots, knowing the answer already.
"We... " Syd bent on him ".. who are her friends and care for her."
Broots sighed, already imaging himself in one of those awful torture-rooms, down to the SL-27 "Okay, okay, I'll do my best for.. Miss Parker's happiness-"
Sydney patted him on his shoulder "Right, my friend!"
"-but it'll be YOU to give her this letter!" and Broots gave him the shameful missive.
Sydney took it with a look of disease but Broots didn't move to pity "I don't wanna be killed." He stated with dignity "I have a daughter who still needs me."
Sydney wavered some minutes in front of Parker's office door.
If someone, in the past, would have said to him that Jarod would have caused him embarrassment, Syd would have laughed!
Yet, there he was! Out of the door, hoping in Parker's good heart. These ones were right kind of things that get her furious. (And with good reason!) he thought, seeing again the golden hearts in his mind.
Suddenly, the door opened up, startling the man.
"Are you waiting for the mushrooms growing on the carpet?" Parker asked, abruptly.
Sydney, puzzled, looked down at his feet, then at Parker "There's no carpet, here." He answered in a perfect Jarod-tone.
Parker closed her eyes, sighing "No doubt: talis pater, talis filius. Come in, Syd!"
The shrink felt growing in his embarrassment. It wasn't like him to answer inopportunely and now he had to tell her about THAT letter!
"Well?" Parker asked as she sat down in her chair. Sydney moved along the desk, to find himself between the camera and Parker. The woman, frowning, followed her co-worker's movements.
"Well?" She asked again.
"The daily mail, Miss Parker." Sydney said and placed the many enveloped on the desk.
Parker stared at her old friend. (Something is wrong!) "Why didn't Broots bring it?"
Sydney shrugged "I was coming up... so.. "
Parker bent her head to one side "Syd, are you okay?"
"Sure! Why do you ask that?"
She moved her gaze to the mail "You seem a little... I don't know.. "
"By the way... " began Sydney "... there's another letter. From... " his voice became a whisper "... Jarod"
"OH GOD!" Parker let her head fall against the desk, painfully "Why can't he simply leave me alone?"
"Did you tell him this? To leave you alone?"
"YES! What do you think? Yes, I told him so!"
"Well.. " Sydney said as his hand manoeuvred within his pocket "... it seems Jarod hasn't understood that."
There! The reason of such difficulty was on the desk, with its glorious golden hearts!
Parker narrowed dangerously her eyes "What's that?"
Syd took his breath "Jarod's letter."
"Really?" She asked with her best barracuda's smile "And maybe it's even rose-perfumed?"
Sydney, dumbfounded by the question, took the envelope "I don't know, maybe-"
"SYDNEY!" She shouted, snatching the letter from his hands "Have you caught the Broots Syndrome?"
With a disgusted face, Parker opened the envelope "Too much time with children!" She muttered, beginning to read.
"Excuse me?" asked Syd but Parker didn't answer. Instead, she was blushing!
Sydney looked at her with curiosity: she was red like a tomato, for rage and..
(What the hell has written Jarod to make her blushing that way!) Sydney wondered but knew better than to put a voice to his query.
Parker felt Sydney's gaze on her and looked up at him "Are you still here?"
Her stare and her tone didn't promise anything good, but Sydney wasn't the fearful Broots "I was thinking if you... want to talk about it.. "
She stuffed the letter quickly into her pocket. "Sorry, Syd, this time is too... personal... "
Parker grabbed her cell like it was a knife, ready to hit.
"Gee, Miss Parker, it seems that you received my last letter!" Jarod's voice was happy and that made Parker rage even more.
"Here he is, your worthy heir!" She told Sydney and then to the phone "Jarod, stop it with your absurd letters!"
"Why, Parker? Didn't you like it?"
Parker had a dry laugh "You know, Wonderboy, only the envelope is a good enough reason to KILL YOU!"
Sydney tried to calm her down "Parker, don't-"
"GET OUT OF MY WAY!!" Parker snarled at him.
"Ouch! Parker, stop yelling in my ear!" Jarod moaned on the other end of the phone.
"SHUT UP, YOU MORON!" She shouted on the cell and again to Sydney, still in front of her desk. "LEAVE ME ALONE!!"
"But who, me?" Jarod sounded a little puzzled.
"NOT YOU! SYD!"
"Syd?!? Is Syd there? Hey, Syd, hi!" Jarod shouted to make himself heard by his mentor.
Parker seemed on the verge of a heart-attack, so the shrink thought well to beat a retreat.
"Hi to you, Jarod, bye." Sydney said and quickly left.
"Thanks God!" breathed Parker.
"But what's wrong with you? Hey Syd!" Jarod called again.
"HE'S GONE! STOP ACTING LIKE A CHILD!"
"Ouch, my ear!" Jarod moved away the cell from him but voice's Parker was strong and loud anyway.
"Let's get back to that letter, Jarod." She hissed.
"Oh yeah, you see, Parker, I didn't want it.. how to say?.. it went.. unnoticed?"
"Unnoticed?" Parker was choking by her rage "UNNOTICED? JAROD, YOU'RE JOKING! A LETTER LIKE THAT!"
"Did you read it?" Jarod asked quietly.
The woman tried to calm herself down. It was too dangerous losing control in that way, with eyes and ears ready to see and listen. And to report.
(Hell! This is the Centre!) She thought, tyding her hair with a hand.
"Jarod, stop writing to me, and most of all, stop writing those... things." She refused to find another word.
"I only listened to my heart, my love, and reported to you what it said." His voice was soft and warm like a caress, but Parker tried to ignore it.
"You don't.. Jarod, don't talk this way." She whispered " It isn't.. safe.. "
"They cannot hear me."
"They can. And they can trace this call, you know"
"They could, if you were talking on YOUR cell"
Parker frowned, puzzled "What are you saying? I am talking on MY cell!"
"No, you're not. I replaced it."
She looked at her cell: it looked like hers. It looked like.
"Ah, well." Jarod laughed "Better if you don't know this!"
"And it'll take a little time, to them, to identify and track this line, so.. in the meanwhile.. " His voice became soft and warm again ".. I can tell you all I want, all my wishes. For instance.. "
Parker stood up and went to the window, her back to the camera. She knew she couldn't hide her emotions, while Jarod, on the other end, confessed his most hidden desires and feelings.
Her rage was vanished. And her heart was racing.
(Like a schoolgirl!) She thought. It wasn't certainly the first time that a man talked her this way, saying those kind of things.
But God! This one wasn't simply a man. This was Jarod, who knew always how to reach her, which buttons to push. He knew her. And listening to him made her feeling so... good and right and... warm!
(I'm nearly moaning and sighing, like a porno actress) Parker almost laughed and Jarod didn't miss it.
"Am I wrong, or you were giggling?" He asked, a smile in his voice.
"I was thinking.. your heart.. " She whispered ".. says things that are really.. obscene"
"Uh-uh. And I didn't say everything, you know." he answered.
"There's something else, then?"
"I would like better.. to make them, rather than talking about them." Parker felt all of his desire, his love, his passion. "Parker, please, come here, come to me. Now. I... need you, I... "
"Please!" the despairing need in his voice made her trembling with his same desire "Parker, please, you know where I am. I'm waiting for you"
Sydney walked in the techroom, still thinking about his 'children'.
The painful gaze that was present on his face made Broots ask about his welfare.
"Are you hurt, Syd?"
"Yeah." He sighed, sitting beside his co-worker "My pride!"
"Let's say.. that Parker almost bit my head off, with the letter and everything."
Broots made a sorry face "Listen, Syd-"
"Don't worry, my friend. Better me than you!" The elder man smiled reassuringly.
"Well, well, well." Lyle's voice cut the two men's conversation "And where on earth is my dear sister?"
Sydney stood up "In her office, Mr. Lyle, but.. " Lyle, who was going out again, turned towards the man when he continued speaking ".. I'd avoid to see her in this very moment, if I were you."
"Really!" Lyle had an amused look.
"I received a great telling off only few minutes ago." Sydney lowered his voice as if he were telling some deep dark secret. "She's in a homicidal mood, you know."
"Oh!" Was Lyle's only reply "And this is new, maybe?" The young man was about going again but again he turned his head "By the way, what have you done to make angry my dear sister?"
"I.. brought her the mail." Sydney answered.
"Oh!" Lyle considered Sydney's answer carefully. "Maybe.. I don't need to see her right now."
Syd nodded "Great idea."
"Yes, maybe tomorrow will be better. Not that I fear my sister!"
"Neither do I, Lyle. But why spoiling the day if it can be avoided?"
Lyle pointed his finger to him "Wise words, Syd!" And nodding, he left.
"Whew!" Broots was almost passing out "Sydney, how do you keep yourself so calm? With Lyle! I don't manage to.. My God! That man is.. is.. "
Sydney sat again "We have to keep cool, Broots. For Miss Parker and for us!"
"You're not any solace for me, Syd, you know!"
The evening was clear and lukewarm, stars were beginning to appear here and there.
(Really a beautiful night!) Jarod thought, as he leant on the window of his room (It lacks only someone to share it with!)
He'd always felt the weight of loneliness, in his life, but now it was becoming unbearable.
Parker. He wanted Parker. It was an uncontainable need for him.
"This is absurd!" Jarod muttered "I've always been able to keep my emotions inside me, and now I... I can't! Simply!"
The truth was that he didn't try it anymore. Jarod felt like overwhelmed by his feelings, with the violence of a river overflowing. He didn't manage to focus anymore, she was always in his mind.
The 19 past 10. Jarod became more and more restless "If she's not here in an hour-"
"An hour?" Parker asked as she snuck up behind him "One would think that a passionate lover wouldn't have such a patience!"
Slowly, Jarod turned his head, feeling his heart pounding in his chest.
"You're here." he whispered. She nodded, suddenly unable to speak.
They stayed still, both searching the courage to make the first step.
Jarod moved toward her, trying not to make her feel trapped. Parker didn't react, and he made another step. Another one. Another one.
They were so close, now. Jarod tried to speak "Park-" But she stopped him, her fingers on his lips.
"Don't talk." She whispered, as her arms slid around him "Don't say anything."
The next morning, Parker was awfully late for work.
She catapulted from bed to her car in a second, only to run wildly to the airport, which she just made it in time to catch her flight back to Delaware.
Then she had hurried to home in a cab and, without even taking time to change her clothes, she had run to her car and now she was driving to the Centre.
"Hell!" She muttered, glancing her watch "Daddy will kill me!"
Parker tried to regain her composure. Not easy! It seemed to her that everybody was watching her, that everybody could see what she had done.
She felt ashamed, for going away without saying goodbye.
It had been wonderful. Parker had left aside all her fears and shelters. With Jarod, they were useless. Still, she felt insecure and scared, things were changing too fast, she needed time.
Suddenly the Centre appeared in front of her.
"Let's hope they'll never find out!" She sighed heavily.
Inside the building, everything seemed the same. Dark, cold, threatening. As usual. Parker relaxed a little. Funny that exactly what she feared the most, now were almost reassuring!
"Angel! At last!" Mr Parker's voice boomed, behind her.
Parker stiffened instantly and maybe for fear, for feeling guilty or simply to defend herself, she turned to answer a little too abruptly.
"It happens every now and then, Daddy! I don't think is a great sin!"
Mr Parker's eyes narrowed and his daughter thought well to explain "I overslept, Daddy. I'm sorry." She said, hoping he'd excused her.
Some seconds of silence.
"As a matter of fact" He began, disapproval in his voice "You seem to be needing to sleep a little more."
Parker felt a thrill in her heart. What did he mean by that?
"See you later, Angel." Mr Parker said and went away.
Parker was walking towards the elevator, when she heard the wheezy sound announcing Raines' arrival.
"Good morning, Miss Parker." He wheezed.
"It was, till two seconds ago." She replied.
Raines opened wide his dead eyes, blushing till his ears, but said nothing and left. Parker felt puzzled. What a strange reaction! She shrugged it off, as just been Raines. his middle name is "Strange"!
The elevator took her to the SL-5 and she almost ran to the tech's room. Inside there, at least, there were friends.
"God, what a GOOD morning!" She shouted.
Sydney and Broots turned their heads "Well, good morning, Mi-" Syd cut himself out. Then, with a light smile, he completed. "-ss Parker"
The woman stared at him, as Broots reddened like a tomato.
"But for God sake, what's wrong with all of you, this morning!" She asked impatiently. The tech turned his back and began typing frantically, calling
"Well, Miss Parker" Sydney began, trying to repress a laugh, but he cut himself out again, as Lyle entered in the room.
"So you're here, dear sister.. " Lyle's voice faded away, as he stared Parker.
He bent himself in ahead, as if to see better, then he asked with an amused tone "Have you began to date schoolboys, Sis?"
"What?" Parker shook her head, trying to understand.
"Or maybe.. " Lyle kept on talking, musing ".. yes, maybe he was a vampire. Sure! A vampire, no doubt!"
Parker looked at Syd, then at Lyle "But what are you talking about?"
"About that catastrophic hickey on your throat, Sis. Hadn't you noticed it?"
"WHAT?" She put her hand on her throat and grabbed her bag to find the hand-mirror.
"Obviously, she hadn't noticed it." Lyle said to the other men.
Parker stared her throat in the mirror: in the very middle of it, there was an huge, red, swollen hickey!
"THAT SON OF BITCH!!" She roared.
"How could you not to notice it, Miss Parker!" Sydney tried to control himself.
"I didn't go home!" She snapped.
"You should be more careful, Sis." Lyle was dying for managing not to laugh, but it was becoming more and more difficult "What if Dad would see it?"
"Oh, no!!" She closed her eyes, shocked.
"Sis! Are you saying.. don't tell me.. "
"Daddy already saw it!" She moaned "And Raines TOO!"
"Hell!" Lyle snapped his fingers "What a scene I missed!"
The three men didn't worry anymore to hide their hilarity as Parker checked that shameful bruise. "If only I stopped at home!"
"If you want" Her brother was choking "I-I can ask to, yeah, my secretary to get you a scarf." Then he addressed Sydney "Even if it wouldn't be enough a blanket for her!" Another laugh, more roaring than the previous.
"Careful, Lyle! Don't you dare laugh at me or you'll suffer another loss by my hand!" Parker warned her amused twin.
Instantly, Lyle regained his composure "Laughing? Who? Me?" He asked with a look of absolute innocence "I'm not laughing, Sis, why should I? I'm not laughing at all! Do I seem laughing to you, Sirs?" He asked to the other two.
"No, no, absolutely no." Sydney and Broots denied all together.
Parker stared at them with disgusted look and walked away, shaking her head.
The trio stayed silent for a moment. But it was enough a passing glance to make them bursting in laughter.
In the silence of her office, Parker examined the damage done to her neck. Jarod managed always to cause her embarrassment. She could still hearing Lyle's laughter in her mind. Not to mention Broots and Syd ones.
Parker felt bad, recalling the look full of disapproval of her father. And Raines blushing! That was the best! The ghoul didn't hesitate to make awful things to a child, but he was able to blush for a hickey on her neck!
Sure, it was incredible she didn't notice. Everyone else did it.
Even Sam. Even his always-stoned face had had a tremble, seeing that round, red sign. But at least, he had the decorum not to laugh in front of her. Maybe he was laughing now, with the other guys of her team.
Nothing to do. Parker had to resign herself to be the Centre's laughing-stock for the following three weeks.
"All because of that stupid child!" She muttered.
"Miss Parker?" Sydney made hearing his voice through the door.
"Yeah, come in!" He entered with an opened smile.
Parker glanced him, with a grim look. "You could have told me about it!"
"Miss Parker, I was going to say it, when Lyle came in, don't you remember?" He explained "Here!" Syd put two scarf on the desk. "I think that one blue matches better with your shirt"
"Uh-uh. He was really amused, you know!"
"Oh yes, I know! I bet he's still laughing!"
Sydney was stroking his chin, musing. "I think I never heard him laughing. In that way." Sydney said but Parker was settling the scarf around her neck and didn't pay attention. "I mean.. " the man continued "It wasn't a... spiteful laugh. There wasn't wickedness. He laughed like... like a man... who sees his sister caught in the act. Amused is the right word." Sydney turned his gaze on Parker. "You know, you two have the same laugh."
Parker looked at him. "Excuse me?"
"You and Lyle laugh the same way." He repeated.
"And that should have to make me feel less humiliated, because?"
Syd didn't avoid to laugh again. "Please, it doesn't happen everyday to make a good, honest laughing here!"
"I'm glad you find all this funny." Hissed Parker "I should kill you, Syd! It's all your fault!"
"Mine?" The man was puzzled. "And what I did?"
"What you DIDN'T, my dear!" Parker approached him and lowered her voice "You DIDN'T teach Jarod about women and sex. If you would have done it THEN, I wouldn't be in this mess NOW!" She pointed her finger to her neck.
"Jarod had all the information about it, then-" He said.
"But emotionally, he's still a child! Theory is useless without-" Parker stopped abruptly.
"-practice" completed the shrink, smiling "You're right, Miss Parker. But it seems that he's making up for lost time... with your help"
Parker gave him one of her 'I'll kill you'-looks "You'll pay for this one, Syd!" She said and left the office just as her co-worker burst out laughing again.
Just like Parker thought, Lyle was still laughing. He couldn't help it. Every time the panicked look of Parker came in his mind... well, it was great!
Too bad he hadn't seen his father's reaction. Daddy's little girl caught been naughty! Lyle covered his face with his hand, as a silent laugh shook him.
"I would like to know this guy, only to shake his hand!"
Broots was trying to focus on his job, with no success. He was the only one to have not found Miss Parker's mishap funny. Yes, he had laughed with the others, but the truth was he felt a embarrassment! And jealousy! He had no right, Broots knew it, but... how much he would have liked to be HIM, to give her that hickey!
Parker closed the door with a kick and collapsed on the couch. Home, finally!
"My God, what a day." She muttered, staring at the ceiling. It wasn't the first WRONG day in her life, surely but she never felt so tired!
(Those who have a clandestine love affair, have to be really tough!) She mused.
Parker jumped to sit up. "Jarod!" She cried out "But why do you feel the need to scare me!"
"Sorry, love." He smiled, sitting on her side. "I didn't mean it. Tired?"
"Uh-uh" She passed her fingers through her hair.
"Oh, my poor little one!" Jarod began stroking her shoulders, when Parker stood up abruptly.
Frowning, she inquired. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Jarod too stood up. "Well.. I'm here.. to see you?" He tried, a little puzzled. Why she was so angry!
"I said it before and I'll repeat it again: you are crazy!! It isn't safe, you know!"
"Oh, don't worry, love, I had been really careful, no-one knows I'm here" Jarod said as he tried to hug her, but Parker slapped his hands down.
"Don't call me Love, you, son of bitch!"
"Parker." The pretender had a hurt look on his face. "But what's wrong with you? What have I done?"
She narrowed her eyes, her hands on her hips "I had a BAD day all because of you! Look here!" and Parker showed him her throat.
Jarod stared his masterpiece with a contented smile.
"Gee, Parker, it has to be me to make it?"
"Yes, Wonderboy, and the whole Centre is still laughing, thanks to you!"
"What do you care? Let them laugh!" Once again, he tried hugging her and this time Parker didn't refuse him, even if she was still angry.
"Sydney had a silly smile glued on his face" she said "And Lyle was folding in two from laughs!"
"I'll punch him." He whispered, kissing her neck.
"And my father seemed as thou he wanted to kill me" she added.
"For a little bruise? Isn't that too much?" Jarod mumbled, moving with his kisses to her lips.
"LITTLE? Are you kidding? This is the largest hickey I've ever seen!!"
Parker was pushing him away but Jarod trapped her in his arms.
"I'm sorry. I swear I'm sorry, love, but you know well I can't resist you." He stared in her eyes, leaning his face toward hers.
Parker closed her eyes, with a resigned sigh: how could she stay angry, when he looked at her in that way?
"I thought.. " He whispered ".. you'd be glad to see me." Here it was, that puppy look!
"But if you want me going away... " He said as he moved to let her go but Parker grabbed his shirt and kissed him voraciously. Jarod was the first to break the kiss, panting.
"This means... " he asked.
"Shut up and kiss me!"
Parker turned on her right side, in the bed, staring the rain through the window. When had it begun to rain?
Sleep didn't come, but she didn't care. It felt so good to be there, with him. So peaceful. A strong, male arm slide around her waist. Parker smiled, feeling Jarod's breath on her ear.
Parker laughed. "With you next to me? Impossible!" They kissed as Jarod brushed her hair.
"I simply adore your smile." He breathed. She presented him another smile.
"Tell me one thing." Parker began. "That last letter... "
"Do you intend to kill me for that?"
"Not this time! But what had you in your mind, putting on it all those awful golden hearts?"
"It made sensation, uh?" Jarod was giggling like a child.
"You bet it!"
"Well, it was Sammy's idea. You remember, my friends, the girl... " He explained.
"Yeah." Parker nodded, caressing his chest. "Sammy is justifiable, she doesn't know me."
She punched him lightly, in his stomach. "But YOU knew better than sending that... horror to me! You had to know I'd be angry!"
"Yep!" Jarod nodded. "I did it on purpose."
"On purpose, uh?"
He nodded again. "You know, to have a reaction." Another kiss.
Parker frowned for a sudden thought. "You didn't... make them reading... that stuff, right?"
"No. I thought it wasn't.. suitable? For kids."
"Neither for grown-up!" She retorted, laughing.
Jarod put a hand on his heart, faking disappointment. "Was it so bad? It was the first time, you know, I'd never written a love letter, before!"
"Yeah, it was clear!" Parker was still laughing.
"Okay, okay. I know you certainly received letters better than mine."
She looked at him, who was trying to hide his jealousy.
"No." Parker said.
"No what?" He was puzzled.
"I never received letters better than yours. I never received love letters, before."
Jarod's puzzlement increased. "Ah no?"
"No. Yours were the first."
"Oh." Jarod relaxed. He couldn't avoid to feel jealousy about her past men, but he was aware too that it was more important to be the first one in her heart than in her bed.
But there was a thing he wanted to know. "Have you.. ever written a love letter.. to some guy?"
Parker lowered her look. "Yeah."
"And.. how it ended it?"
She had a bitter laugh. "It never started. I didn't send them."
"I thought he didn't care for me." she whispered.
Jarod felt sorry. This seemed to be the Parker's life story: she always loved those who didn't love her.
"You thought he didn't care." He said. "But maybe you were wrong."
"As a matter of fact, yes! I was wrong!"
"And then, why you didn't send them!"
She stared in his eyes. "And what would have been the purpose? They would never have given 'em to you. Anyway, you would have never known it."
Jarod opened wide his eyes, absolutely stunned. "Parker." He breathed. "To me. You wrote to me!" She nodded, unable to speak and he took her in his arms, holding her tight.
Parker was right. They would never make him know. Another chance vanished. How many other chances they had stolen?
"Jarod." She whispered, loosening their embrace. "We can't go on this way"
"I know." His tone was firm and Parker almost felt scared.
"What do we do?" She asked, already knowing the answer.
Jarod bit his lips: he knew well how hard it was for her, but...
"We have to take them down." He answered. The pain in her eyes was unbearable, for Jarod.
"There's no way out, Parker." He added.
"I know but... my father, Jarod... what will happen to him?"
Her father! Always her father!
"But how can you still love him, after all he did to you?" He asked, not hiding bitterness and rage. Parker caressed his lips.
"The same way YOU can still love me, after all I did to you."
"No, it's not the same!"
"It's the same, Jarod. Love is... a mystery. You don't know why you love someone, why you love this one and not that one. You love. Simply."
Jarod sighed. Again, she was right. How could he blame her attempts to save her father?
Parker waited in silence. She was ready to accept whatever decision he would have taken. Whatever decision. But she hoped...
"I can't promise, Parker." Jarod stared in her eyes, hoping she could understand him. And Parker understood: the two of them or the Centre. She nodded.
"But I'll do my best to protect him." He completed. Parker smiled.
"I know you'll will."
The Centre went down, of course. But don't ask me how. This was a story about Jarod and Parker, not about the Centre.