Says It All
Miss Parker entered the nursery, finding her baby brother playing with his blocks. He looked up when the doors opened and grinned. Pushing himself up off the floor, he toddled over to her, raising his arms and signaling to be picked up. As she shifted the book from her hands to under her arm, his attention suddenly changed as well.
"Book," Gabriel demanded, flexing his fingers.
"Book, please," Miss Parker corrected, as she smiled and handed him the blue leather book. Gabriel clutched it tightly to his little body, its weight making him struggle as he walked toward the rocking chair.
"Wead, pease." He placed the book on the chair, waiting for her sit down. Casting an icy glare at the nurse, who left in a hurry, not waiting to be ordered out, she made herself comfortable and pulled Gabriel into her lap, her lips brushing the back of his head.
She watched as Gabriel lifted the cover, his eyes finding the first picture. "Mine happy."
"Of course I'm happy," she replied. "I'm always happy when I'm with you." She watched as his chubby fingers turned the thin pages of the book. "Nasty rats," she murmured, "lurking in the shadows." Gabriel nodded his head in agreement, then urged her to continue with the story.
Finishing the book, she looked down at her brother. "How about I give you a surprise, a good one, later?" she whispered, smiling against his soft baby cheek, laughing softly when he nodded enthusiastically. "I have to go, but I'll come and get you after dinner." Parker got to her feet but not before she gave her baby brother a quick kiss and a hug. "Later."
* * * * * * * * *
Miss Parker stopped, hesitating before opening the door to Sydney's office. He held his coffee in both hands, his elbows resting on the desktop, then lifted the cup slowly to drink. His eyes were deep set and he looked silently at her over the rim of the cup.
"Can we talk?" she asked as she came around his desk and leaned back against it.
"Ever since Washington, when I saw that picture...." He shook his head.
"Lies, Syd. They are so ingrained into the Centre's existence, I don't know what to think anymore. When I learned about the boy all I wanted to do was get him away from here. Then I learn about her; that Daddy had a hand in it all. What I don't understand is why the Centre let her live outside of their control."
"Did they, Parker?" He set the cup down and leaned back in his chair, his elbows resting on the arms, his fingers steepled together.
"What are you implying, Sydney?"
"They didn't let her out of their control, Parker. Not really. They knew where to find her when her father started to raise questions, questions that were better left unasked. So my question to you is, how important is the truth to you? Not small truths or small lies; I mean large, consequential truths. Sometimes lies hurt. Sometimes the truth hurts more."
"Miss Parker!" Broots rushed into the office, breathless and nervously bending a file in his hands.
"I found hard copy files on Senator Evans and his wife. You're not going to believe it," he whispered and watched as she reached across the desk and ripped the files out of his hands, her eyes already scanning them.
"Parker?" Sydney asked.
"Later." She pushed off the desk and strolled out of the office, leaving the two men to stare at each other.
* * * * * * * * *
Lyle stood in the hallway, cursing inwardly. An upstart had cut him down, in front of his father. His world was changing, again. Danger lurked in every shadow, every corner. He was growing angry, seething really, but remained quiet. Turning when he heard the door shut, he saw Cox leave his father's office. He squared his shoulders as Cox approached, making his way through the Centre personnel.
"Need help finding your misplaced objects, Mr. Lyle?" Cox asked, a thin smile gracing his features.
"I find your concern for me touching." Lyle spoke in a cold and dangerous tone. "But also quite insulting. You're convinced that I'm going to fail. I remind you that we both failed the challenge when we let the Major rescue our supposed trump card in capturing Jarod. My father has seen fit to give me a chance to redeem myself and I will not fail at this." His lips curled into a sneer.
"Ah, yes, the task of overseeing the blue files," Cox whispered. "Two are AWOL and two are pushing up daisies. You're doing a fine, fine job." He looked back and forth from one end of the corridor to the other.
"I have more important things to do than stand here and waste time on recrimination." Lyle stepped onto the elevator and watched the door slide shut.
* * * * * * * * *
Parker sat at her desk, doodling on a notepad, contemplating. She couldn't stop thinking about everything she'd told Sydney, earlier. She stared at the files, stunned. She shook her head. Question was, how much did Jarod know?
A quiet knock on her door interrupted her thoughts. Looking up, she found a happy, familiar face smiling at her.
"Hi, Miss Parker. Daddy said that you wanted me to come here and dance for you," Debbie said happily, her eyes bright.
"Yes, I did. I also promised Gabriel that I had a surprise for him. I'll go get him." She smiled as she got up from her chair.
"I'll limber up and get my music ready for you."
* * * * * * * * *
After his visit with Merritt, Jarod lost himself in his work, hoping the pain he still felt over recent losses would eventually pass. So, with laptop computer over his shoulder and a duffel bag in his hand, he found himself in a first class cabin of a US Airways Boeing 757 destined for New York. The flight was arduously long.
* * * * * * * * *
A run had removed some of Jarod's restlessness, but he was still agitated. So, it should have felt good to sit in the steam room and sweat. He shifted his towel, and allowed his brain to reprocess the events of the last few weeks. He'd gone through the internet sites and pulled all references to the Senator and his wife. Ever since his talk with Merritt, something that she had said bothered him. So, he spent the morning pouring over the police accounts, autopsy findings, toxicology reports, photos. Something lingered in his memory cells, nagging at him. Some forgotten detail hovered just beyond recall, some stored memory that he couldn't access. He wanted to find the connection, needed to find it, but couldn't. The door to the steam room opened and a man entered the steam room. He nodded, then took a seat on the bench.
"Jarod Dark, Mr. Sutton." He sighed quietly, putting all thoughts of earlier out of his head.
"Looking forward to directing the newest video for Charybdis?" Peter asked. "I know that they are rather hard to work with, but they are the hottest thing to hit the air waves."
The silence stretched for so long that Peter thought Jarod hadn't heard. He turned, about to repeat the question, when the door to the steam room opened.
"What's so important that you dragged my butt down here?" another man asked tersely, entering the room. The tall lanky, man with hollow cheeks and hair the color of the midnight sky walked over toward them, but stayed standing.
"Brett Maron, manager of Charybdis and…" Peter was saying as the younger man extended his hand toward Jarod.
"You've got a wonderful song, Mr. Maron," Jarod said, shaking the man's hand and looking into clear blue eyes.
"Thanks, but I'm only responsible for the score, Dante Canetti wrote the lyrics. Now, if you can put on video what he, my sister and I envisioned for it, then we'll work well together."
"I'm sorry about Mr. Canetti. Tell to me what you envision for this video," Jarod said, eagerly. "And I would really like to meet with Beckett."
* * * * * * * * *
An hour later, Jarod was parked in front of his apartment building. The evening was cold and snowy, and the drive home had taken longer than expected. He killed the engine of his red convertible and got out. The building was absolutely still, but the spooky quiet failed to relax him. He went directly to the refrigerator and took out a bottle of Jolt. He looked out at the window at the dark water below, his thoughts black as the river. His agitation had returned, and he found himself drumming his fingers along his left thigh, a nervous gesture that had profoundly irritated Sydney. Years of his complaints had never broken Jarod of the habit. Finishing his soda, he put on his favorite CD on full volume, and as he stood in the shower, the group sang to him of the road to hell. The neighbors would have to survive. He spent hours writing and listening to various types of music, but he just couldn't get the right words for his own song down on paper. Not yet, anyway. These words had to be special, their meaning clear for the recipient. He looked at what he had written so far:
He crawled into bed, his anxiety still with him. Sleep didn't come easily, and he lay in bed for some time, watching the shadows on the ceiling and fighting the impulse to call Sydney. He hated himself for needing him at such times, for craving his strength whenever he felt upset. It was a ritual he'd vowed to break. Eventually sleep took him down like a whirlpool, swirling all thoughts of Sydney, Miss Parker, and Mr. Cox from his consciousness.
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod awoke a jumble of uncharacteristic nerves. He took a seat in front of his laptop and checked to see what his search of the Centre's mainframe turned up regarding Merritt. His mailbox opened and he quickly clicked on the icon. There was a message from his source. Clicking on the attachment, he waited impatiently as the file downloaded. Reaching for the phone, he pressed the necessary number.
"This is Sydney," the familiar voice said.
"Sydney, has Miss Parker talked to you about what happened in Washington?"
"A little, Jarod. Yesterday, Broots found something in the Centre's files. Parker took the file and…"
"Thanks." With the call terminated, Jarod returned his gaze to the computer screen. Scanning the file he'd just downloaded, he found something that made his heart run cold: Judith White Evans. He knew that name. It rang so familiar in his head, but he couldn't place it at first. Then, bang. It was as if someone had flicked the tines of a fork against a fine crystal vase. Judith White Evans, and Mr. White.
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