Miss Parker strode out of the elevator, her body quivering with anticipation.
She had so much to hold back now, so much that she couldnt say,
but Gabriel would know. The door opened and she stepped inside, ignoring
Penfields warning glare.
Is he awake? Miss Parker asked softly.
He knew you were coming, the nurse replied tightly. Its
way past his naptime, but theres no getting that child to sleep
Parker grinned, and pushed past the woman into the toddlers private
bedroom. Gabriel was running through the room, his dark eyes glassy with
joy he could not contain. As soon as she was through the door, he changed
course with a squeal of delight and careened toward her. She dropped down
to her knees and held out her arms to him.
Mine! he chortled, racing toward her. Mine! Mine!
Yes, sweetheart, she echoed, her throat closing up around
the words. Look how youve grown! My goodness, no more diapers?
What a big boy you are now.
Gabriel crashed into her, throwing his chubby arms around her neck. He
held her close. He wriggled against her, rubbing his face against her
neck and cheek, turning himself completely around in her embrace, rubbing
his whole body against her, and embracing her again tightly.
Its okay, honey, she promised him. Im here
for you all day, if you want.
I want Mine, he shouted, and snuggled against her neck, fingers
tangling in her hair.
Parker cuddled and kissed him, picked him up and danced around the room
with him in her arms.
This is my son, she told herself, unable to say the words aloud.
This is my baby, mine and Jarods. He knows how I feel, all the
things I cant say to him because the walls have ears and eyes.
Tears began to stream down her cheeks.
So this is what it feels like to be a mother.
Parker held him tightly and wept, and Gabriel joined into her tears.
His little hands stroked through her hair, touched her face, held onto
her neck. His sobs of joy and relief turned into hiccups and sniffles.
Mine, he whispered, his voice barely audible.
Yes, she told him tearfully. Im yours. And youre
mine. I missed you so much, Gabriel!
She wanted to hear him call her something else. How she wanted him to
call her that other endearment from across the green lawn of a park in
the sunshine. How she wanted to hear him say it at night, before she tucked
him into bed, or when he was hurt and needed her to comfort him. She was
his mommy, but she could not teach him that word, not yet.
Not until Gabriel was free of this place forever.
Cant think about that right now, she reminded herself.
Lets sit in the rocking chair and read a book, she
Mine stay wif me? he asked softly, playing with her hair,
rubbing it against his cheek.
Yes, honey, she promised with a kiss. Youll have
your nap in my arms today. Okay? Are you tired?
Gabriels only answer was to cling to her as she took her seat in
the rocker, his face wedged firmly up underneath his mothers chin.
Clutching fistfuls of her hair, he drifted off to sleep as she read him
his favorite story. This time, she did not disentangle his grip as she
had so many other times on previous visits to his nursery. This time,
she wanted to feel that pull, the heavy warmth against her body, the sweet
baby breath heating the skin against her neck.
Sweet little angel, she whispered, rocking gently in the
quiet room, holding her baby. Somewhere deep inside herself, Morgan had
always known Gabriel belonged to her. Shed had time now to digest
the news of his parentage, setting things in motion to get her back to
this place. There was so much she wanted to tell him, but none of it could
be put into words.
From the beginning he was not like other children to her. Somehow, she
had always been more tolerant of his noises, messes and energy than she
had been with other children. Where anyone elses toddler would set
off her worst temper, this one was a delight. She felt that familiar sensation
of belonging more strongly now that she knew the truth of Gabriels
origins, and recognized it as part of her gift, part of the inner sense
she had inherited from her mother. And this time she held onto it, focused
on it, felt its strength.
And could feel her mother firmly tethered to the other end.
She smiled, and closed her eyes. Mama, she whispered.
Right here, my love, came the echo of that familiar voice. Right
where Ive always been. Congratulations, Morgan. Now you truly understand
how I felt about you. How I will always feel
Parker said nothing. She held Gabriel close, and began to sing softly,
an old familiar tune that she barely remembered from childhood. She tried
to ignore the quiet little thought niggling at her consciousness, the
image of a sad face with dark hair and warm brown eyes. Jarod had bought
her this moment of peace, possibly with his life. Quietly, she pushed
that image away. She wanted nothing to disturb the baby, including her
own disquiet. Gabriel needed this rest, and so did she.
There would be time to help Jarod later.
She closed her eyes and inhaled the sweet fragrance of child, ignoring
the warm saliva now trickling down her neck and into the collar of her
Armani suit. There were more important things than a spotless appearance.
To Morgan Parker, the most important thing in the world was right there
in her arms.
* * * * * * * * *
Cox stood silently in the near darkness watching the woman and child,
a clipboard held close to his chest, arms folded across it. His cold blue
eyes did not blink as they took note of the tender interaction. When the
child fell asleep, he pressed the button that would turn off the intercom,
so he could no longer hear what went on in the room. The woman could not
see through the mirrored glass panel, but Cox was sure she knew she was
He glanced to one side and saw that Ms. Penfield was busying herself
with picking up toys and straightening the babys room, keeping tabs
as she had been ordered.
Im not so sure this is a good idea, Cox said without
turning around, aware that the person who had just entered the room was
the Chairman himself. She may not fully recognize the attachment
she has to the child, but she knows its there. And if she ever suspected
that hes her own son
Nonsense, Parker challenged in a low growl. She doesnt
know a thing. And socializing with Gabriel makes a wonderful carrot. Shed
do anything I wanted, if she thought for a minute Id take away her
visiting privileges again. He chuckled softly. And look what
it got me this time - she concentrated more fully on her work, and brought
Jarod back to us.
Cox saw that the man was fairly beaming with pride.
Then think of what it may do to the boy, Cox reminded him.
He feels the connection with her. Undoubtedly, he doesnt have
the experience to know what it is, but he feels possessiveness toward
her that he doesnt toward anyone else. Deep down, he recognizes
that she belongs to him, and I suspect he will also share that same link
with his father.
Parkers eyes met Coxs with a frigid glare. Watch it,
Cox smirked. While you may have engineered this project and may
thereby consider yourself his father, sir, you did not produce the biological
material, as we both know. And when Jarod begins working with the Seraphim
as their teacher, Gabriel may well exhibit the same possessiveness with
him that he does with his mother. The two of them combined may exert undue
influence over him.
The Chairmans chest puffed out. He pursed his lips in thought.
Well deal with that when it happens. Besides, even if we told
Jarod that Gabriels his son, under Aurora he wont really care.
Wonderful drug, that.
Cox turned back to the glass. You put a lot of stock in that chemical,
Mr. Parker. I hope it lives up to its reputation over the long term.
I have every confidence that it will, Cox. And you let me be the
judge of whats best for Gabriel. Hes mine, after all.
Cox said nothing more, but continued to watch the old man out of the
corner of his eye until Parker left. The doctor hit the intercom button
again, and listened to the woman singing softly to the toddler in her
arms while she rubbed his back. This was going to be a problem, he was
sure of it. But as long as Mr. Parker was in charge, there wasnt
much he could do about it. He punched the button off again, and left to
return to his duties.
* * * * * * * * *
French Quarter Hotel
Ethan sat straight up. He rubbed his eyes, trying to focus on something
in the dark room. He listened, struggling to remember what it was that
had wakened him.
He and Dr. Goetz had traveled lately to Canada, as close as they dared
come to the United States. His treatment had progressed well, though he
knew it would take a lifetime to come to terms with what Raines had done
to him. He was more comfortable with the voices now, but they had been
relatively quiet since he went on the run, and for the first time in his
life, he began to feel at peace.
The respite had given him time to pull himself together, to deal with
his suicidal thoughts and the depression that had almost killed him the
previous year. He was grateful to Dr. Goetz for pulling him through, for
devoting every moment of her time to him while they traveled together.
But now the voices had returned.
There was someplace he needed to go, but he couldnt get a clear
picture of it. Something to do with Jarod, but he wasnt sure what
it was just yet. He closed his eyes, took a deep, cleansing breath, and
crossed his legs beneath the blanket, preparing to meditate as Dr. Goetz
had taught him, to tap into that place deep inside himself where the voices
He summoned up a memory of Jarods face, as he recalled it the last
time he had seen his brother. Jarod had been worried about him then. Now
it was the other way around.
Flashes of his brother fighting for his life. Small pains and great fear.
Warmth flooding his system, and pleasure. Artificial pleasure that made
Ethans eyes popped open. He didnt understand all of it, but
he knew what it meant. He could feel Jarods terror. His brother
was back in the Centre.
The covers were hastily turned back, and Ethan leaped out of bed, looking
for his clothes. He reached for the lamp and flicked it on, momentarily
blinded by the light, and dressed quickly. Shortly after that, he was
packing his bag, getting ready to leave.
Dr. Goetz. He needed to tell her what was happening. Suitcase in hand,
he checked the travel clock on the bedside table. It was just after five
a.m. Everyone in the hotel would still be sleeping, including his shrink.
It couldnt be helped. He combed his hair to waste another couple
of minutes, give her a little more time to sleep, but once he was finished
and ready to go, he moved to the common door that separated his room from
hers. He knocked sharply, calling her through the door.
What is it, Ethan? Dr. Goetz called. Im coming.
Ethan waited for her to open the door. She took in his state of readiness
and the suitcase in his hand in an instant. She looked surprised. Then
she looked worried.
Where are you going?
Someplace I have to go. There's something I have to do.
He could see the shock on her face. Ill pack my bags. Want
to tell me about it?
You cant come with me this time. I have to do it by myself.
What? Why do you want to do that? You remember what Jarod said-
Yes. I know. But I think its time for your sabbatical to
be over, he told her. Its not dangerous, where Im
going. I promise.
Dr. Goetz seemed to wilt a little. She nodded. With a sigh, she said,
Youre special, Ethan. You changed my view of the world, and
its been very exciting, working with you. She smiled, wistfulness
in the corners of her mouth and her sleepy eyes. I guess I just
wasnt ready to hear it yet. You are stable enough to function on
your own. But we should still keep in touch. Youre not ready to
be completely on your own for a little while longer.
He nodded. He could feel her reluctance to leave him, her affection for
him, and her fear. Ill be careful, he assured her.
Her eyes were sad as she took his free hand. She gave him a fond squeeze.
Ill pay for the rooms in the morning, and then book a flight
home. Youve got Jarods credit card, so you have money. How
long do you think this mission will take?
A week, maybe. Ill meet you at your office when Im
She smiled warmly, stroked his cheek fondly, and waited for him to go.
Something cold settled in the pit of Ethans stomach, and squeezed.
He could see his brothers face, feel the tears fading away as the
alien pleasure settled firmly inside him. He was dizzy, and almost lost
his footing, standing still as he was. He shook the sensation from him,
and caught the doctor's worried glance.
"It's my brother," he explained. "I have to go find him.
But he knew where Jarod was. There was no finding him. There was only
going there, to save him.
You can't. Not now, the voice he recognized as his mother's told
him. This is what he needs to do, where he needs to be. For the children.
He gave himself up for them.
I'll be all right, he promised thickly. And I'll join
She nodded, and he headed down the hallway, listening to the voices that
would guide him to where he needed to be. West, he knew. Back into America.
But that was all he could see at the moment.
* * * * * * * * *
Downtown Dallas, Texas
Come on, love. Just a little farther now. The man with the
shockingly platinum hair eased his arm around his girlfriend, propelling
her across the parking lot with him.
Why Dallas? Mimi whined. Its so hot here! Why
cant we just stay in one place for a while?
Because we need someplace safe, and I know just the spot,
he promised. Youll meet lots of very nice people. Youll
like them. He turned away, looking for security cameras, and mumbled
under his breath, The accommodations are a little posh for me, but
itll do. For a while, anyway.
He led her toward the huge concrete tower, devoid of signs of life, not
a single window showing except at the very top. Once upon a time it had
been used for grain storage, but its derelict exterior was intentional,
hiding its true purpose - and its residents -- from the world. He dragged
her toward the only door into the facility, where people in uniform greeted
them at a reception desk. They waved him through as if they had been expecting
him, and they passed through the nondescript lobby to the huge steel elevator
beyond the checkpoint.
I wasnt sure theyd let me in without a bit of a row,
but apparently Im still welcome, he told her, punching the
button for the first floor. The doors slid open after a short rise, and
there were people about, dressed in black jumpsuits with white turtlenecks,
emblazoned with a flame-red logo. The uniformed men and women offered
a smile or a nod, sometimes even a wave of greeting as the couple strolled
through what appeared to be busy offices, well lit and decorated with
plenty of scenic pictures to account for the lack of windows. Good.
Theyre expecting us, just as they should be.
Whos expecting us? And where are we going? What is this place?
Its been a long time since I was part of all this,
he admitted. Didnt think Id ever be back. But now that
Ive got a reason
He led her toward what looked like
a conference room down the way past several cubicles.
The black double doors were adorned with a stylized flame-red logo that
extended onto the wall above and to the right of the door. In the middle
of the red fire were the words Prometheus Productions in yellow.
Mimi read the name as they moved toward it. Isnt that a movie
He grinned and gave her a peck on the cheek. Right-o, love. They
do a lot of film work locally at Las Colinas Studios and in Hollywood
as well. Big budget action films mostly, but theyre still considered
upstarts, despite how well theyve done at the box office over the
last two years. They seem to always know what the public wants.
He chuckled. Youre about to meet the owner.
She hurried in front of him, smiling now, eager to get on with this latest
adventure. Who is he? How did you meet him? Why didnt you
tell me about this before?
He smiled. Calm down, pet. This will be our refuge from the world
outside for a while. I wasn't sure I'd be welcome anymore, but apparently
they seem to think I'm still worth something to them. Pulling her
into a quick embrace, which she squirmed out of almost immediately, he
made eye contact. We call this place Sanctuary.
Two minutes later, they stepped into the conference room, elegantly appointed
with several rows of wide, plush seats around a large metal table topped
with marble. A handful of people dressed in black suits, jackets emblazoned
with the flaming logo, were gathered at the table, apparently waiting
for them to arrive.
A young woman with long black hair came forward to meet them. Sebastian
says you should visit more often, she told him. Holding out her
hand toward Mimi, she added, Im Ramona, Sebastian McKenzies
personal assistant. If you need anything while youre with us, Im
usually the one to ask.
Mimis smile spread from ear to ear. Ohmigod, I cant
believe this! Isnt he the guy that nobody knows what he looks like?
And Im going to meet him?
Her companion squeezed her hand. Youll be safe here, love,
he promised. And Ill be able to sleep, knowing youre
all right. He leaned close and kissed her cheek, making her smile
and giggle softly. Theres my pretty, he teased. Come
on. Lets go meet the recluse, and all the others he keeps hidden
away from the world.
Ramona gestured them into chairs at the middle of the table.
Mimi whispered in his ear after he had settled into his seat. Studio
He grinned. They work for him, yeah. But they got their jobs because
theyre special. Different. They needed him, and he needs them.
Special, like how?
His dark brows twitched together in thought as he sought the words to
help her understand. Most of them are outcasts. Mutations. Evolved
humans. Whatever you want to call us. People who arent like the
rest of humanity. He shrugged. We all find our way to Sebastian,
sooner or later.
Mimi frowned. Am I special? I thought I was just broken.
He rounded on her, his eyes flashing with warning, and he shook his finger
at her. Dont you ever talk like that, Mimi. Youre not
broken, just different. He felt that spark of anger disappear, and
behind it was the warmth of the affection he felt for her. He put his
arm around her, oblivious to the others watching them, breathing in the
fragrance of her hair. You can be however you want to be here, because
everyone will be good to you. Neither of us will have to be frightened
that someone might hurt you, when your judgment isnt
She nodded, trust implicit in her expression as he pulled away. Will
they like me?
How could they not? It had been a long time, and he had thought
he didnt belong with the rest of them, but discovering Mimi made
it all too apparent that this was indeed where he needed to be
her by his side. He could be content now, as long as he had her with him.
Sanctuary was at last the home for which he had been searching for so
long, and for once he was glad to be back. He turned to the people seated
around them and smiled. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce
you to Mimi Roberts. Mimi, this is everyone."
* * * * * * * * *
Miss Parker's Office
She looked up when she heard movement, and hardly recognized Sydney as
he slouched into the chair across from hers. His face was as impassive
as ever, but his eyes revealed clearly the wounded soul inside him. Sydney,
How could you? the older man whispered. How could you
betray Jarod so completely?
She stiffened. I had a job to do. You know that.
But I thought
after what you learned about Eclipse
that you finally understood him. What changed? You brought him here and
turned your back on him.
Parker considered. She knew that her new office was clean of surveillance
devices, but she wasnt sure she could trust him with the truth.
If he knew about Gabriel, it could get him - or both of them - killed
if he let it slip to the wrong person, or in the wrong place. He might
even inadvertently tip off what he knew by how he behaved, and still endanger
them. That was a risk she couldnt take, for both their sakes.
Sydney had kept secrets from her before. Now it was his turn to be in
the dark, for his own protection.
I didnt have a choice, Sydney, she said tightly. I
dont want him to be here. God knows, this is the last place Id
wish him to be, but thats the way it is. I cant tell you anything
more than that.
He seemed to wilt a little more, almost slumping in the chair, clearly
emotionally drained. I cant accept that, Miss Parker.
He glanced around. I cant believe youd trade Jarod for
a promotion and a bigger office.
She leaned toward him, trying to project as much sympathy as she could,
without giving too much away. Youre right. I would never do
Then why? That last word was almost a wail of anguish.
Parker swallowed. Because thats the way it had to be, Sydney.
None of us had a choice.
The psychiatrist sat silently in the chair for a moment, head down. When
he spoke again, his voice was a mere whisper. Can you get me in
to see him?
She felt his pain, like a knife in her heart. But there was nothing she
could do about it. No, Sydney. I cant.
He lifted his chin and met her eyes, tears glistening against the brown
irises. All right, then. He rose and walked out of her office,
stiff with hurt and defeated pride.
Im sorry, Sydney, she breathed. God, Im
so sorry. For all of us.