Big Top Jarod

 

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Wilmington-New Castle airport
Wilmington, DE

Joseph hesitantly walked through the doors, his bag clutched in his hand, which was perspiring so much that the material slid around in his grasp. His eyes swept over the small crowd that was waiting, trying to recognize any familiar faces. Then there was a soft whoop in his ears and a pair of arms wrapped around him from behind, a familiar face grinning delightedly out of the corner of his peripheral vision, and Joseph's hands tightened around the arms encircling his chest.

"Alastair!" he breathed in relief. "Thank Gott."

<"Did you think I wouldn't know you were coming?"> his friend demanded in German, laughing. <"It's been so long,"> he enthused. <"It's so good to see you again.">

"Give him a chance to breathe, little brother," a familiar voice scolded, and Joseph's head snapped around in astonishment.

"Sam!" he gasped in disbelief. "But you… you are…?"

"Dead?" The sweeper laughed. "Delius tried that old line again, huh? Nope, still alive."

He looked over his shoulder to see a group of men approaching, all dressed in black outfits, flame logos visible on their chests. One carried a small, limp body in his arms and Sam took it as soon as the man was within reach, offering it to the healer with a smile.

"I think you'll want this."

Joseph's arms curled around the boy's body, watching as the dark eyelashes fluttered and then lifted. For several seconds, his son drowsily stared at him, before snuggling against his neck and closing his eyes again.

"Daddy," he mumbled, relaxing in the man's arms.

Alastair glanced over his shoulder at the Sanctuary staff, seeing one nod to tell him their plane was ready, before looking at his brother.

"We should get going," he suggested regretfully. "Just in case someone sounds the alarm."

"I guess so," Sam agreed. "Even though not all of us have to be up at 6am."

"Aw!" Alastair gave him a grin. "You poor baby!"

Sam caught him in a headlock and scrubbed his hair. "I always was stronger than you, Shorty, so I suggest you keep your smart remarks to yourself."

"Bully," his brother retorted, running a hand over the maltreated locks. "Why not pick on someone your own size? Your boss's second-in-command, for instance."

Sam chuckled. "Broots? He's getting better, but, unless he was armed, he wouldn't be much of a challenge." The sweeper glanced at his watch. "Still, I think you're right. If I'm much longer, Carly might worry."

"Give my niece a kiss and hug for me," Alastair told him, embracing his brother. "And take care of yourself, pal."

"You too." Sam returned the hug before giving Joseph a friendly clap on the shoulder, nodding at the group and speaking in German. <"They'll take you to your real destination, my friend. Take care of that boy, for his mother's sake.">

The healer's eyes became sad as he nodded, letting himself be guided towards the doors by the hand Alastair placed on his shoulder. Before going through them, he turned back, but the spot where Sam had been standing was already empty.

* * * * * * * * *

Centre Gymnasium

Willie carried his gear across the polished wooden floor, pleased at the prospect of a good workout. The patch between his shoulders itched a little, and it was harder to get off there, but at least it was out of sight when he had his sweats on. His mind was already on what lay ahead, and he didn't notice the sound of heels clicking behind him until someone grabbed his suit jacket and spun him around, slamming him against the wall.

"Miss Parker! What was that for?" he demanded. He had never liked the woman, but couldn't seem to remember why.

"Who ordered you to hire that actress in Frankfort?" she snarled between clenched teeth.

"What the hell are you talking about? When was I supposed to be in Frankfort?"

"Last week, you bonehead. You hired an actress to impersonate my mother and send me on a wild goose chase." She stepped closer and grasped the lapels of his suit jacket in both fists. "I want to know who put you up to it, because I know you're not smart enough to have figured out how to do all that by yourself."

Willie's brow furrowed. "Have you lost your mind, Miss Parker? I've been here in Blue Cove all week. Check the records, if you like. But whatever happened to you, this is the first I've heard about it."

She stared at him, hatred smoldering in her eyes. Then she eased back and crossed her arms defiantly across her chest. "You can bet I will be checking up on you, Willie. And in case you haven't heard yet, we're sending everybody through the Infirmary for a blood draw. Your division's up next."

"Yeah, I heard about that. What's it for?"

"Looking for security risks. Specifically, Aurora addicts. I'll see you there shortly. Right?"

That caused a slight flicker of alarm, but it vanished quickly enough. "Of course. Shall I go before or after my workout?"

"After is fine. And I'll be waiting." She pivoted on her high heel and left the gym at a brisk walk.

Willie watched her leave, and then headed for the men's locker room. He pulled out a hanger and began to disrobe, taking note of the other men changing clothes, and kept his back to the wall as he changed shirts, so no one would see the patch. He couldn't afford to be spotted with one, but he also knew that he would need help from his supplier to know what to do.

Valentine came in a moment later, sweaty and panting from his own workout.

Willie caught his eye and nodded him into an out of the way corner of the locker room where they could talk without being overheard.

"You've heard about the drug testing they're doing?" he whispered. When the other man nodded, he added, "What do you want me to do?"

"They're also doing body checks, looking for patches," Valentine informed him. "But I've got a solution for that, too. There's a syringe in my gym bag with your name on it. Take off the patch, scrub off the adhesive in the shower, and no one will be the wiser."

"But won't the test come back positive? Then what do I do?"

Valentine smiled, secrets twinkling in his dark eyes. "You do nothing. The test will come back negative."

"But if this is Aurora…" Willie began uncertainly. "That's the drug everybody's been talking about for months now."

"You assumed," Valentine corrected. "But it's not Aurora. It's new, and they don't have a testing protocol for it yet. Supernova won't show up on a screen for Aurora. They're not that alike." He chuckled, and clapped the other man on the shoulder. "Like I said, don't worry. Be happy. I'll take care of you, Willie."

The sweeper smiled, reassurance flowing through him like comforting warmth. "Whatever you say, sir. Just keep it coming."

"You have my word on that." Valentine started to walk away, raising his voice and bringing up the subject of a recent sports match on television, giving the other men in the locker room the impression that they were just talking about personal things.

Willie finished changing, and headed out into the gym for a rousing workout, secure in the knowledge that his most important needs would be met, and that he had no reason to worry about Miss Parker.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas
Research Laboratory

Jarod worked diligently on his latest idea for a new treatment for Jacob. The boy's health was declining rapidly, and hope was fading that they'd be able to stave off the inevitable for much longer. He glanced over at his research partner, and noted the dark circles under Jordan's eyes.

"Did you sleep last night, son?" he asked quietly.

Jordan didn't look up from the notes he was scribbling. "A little. Elizabeth came by to see me. She helped me get some rest."

The elder Pretender nodded, grateful once more that the Australian woman had come into their unique organization.

The PA speaker in the lab switched on abruptly . "Jarod, Faith and Sebastian, please come to the conference room."

Jarod glanced at Jordan, promised to be back as soon as he could, and headed for the elevator. He found Ramona waiting in the conference room, sitting quietly near a young man with a thick shock of straight brown hair and blue eyes. Beside him was a small boy, about four years old, who looked very much like him and was obviously scared, pressing close to the man and staring around with wide eyes. There was something familiar about the man's face, but Jarod couldn't place it. He stood when Jarod came in, rose again when Faith stepped in a moment later, and again when Sebastian entered the room.

"Faith, gentlemen, this is Joseph Otto and his son, Peter," Ramona began. "Their English isn't very good, so I was hoping Jarod might be able to translate for us. Do you speak German, Jarod?"

The names were a shock, and Jarod met the man's eyes instantly. "Joseph? How did you get out of Berlin? Alastair said you were still a prisoner there." He repeated himself in German when his comment brought a look of confusion from their visitor.

"Jarod?" Joseph grinned. "Is that you?" He rose, came around the table and hugged his old friend, clapping him firmly on the back . "They told us you were dead! I am glad they vere lying."

Jarod took a moment to explain to the others about the meningitis experiment, leaving out enough detail to avoid being questioned, and moved on to the reason why Joseph had come.

<"What brings you to us?"> he asked in fluent German. <"Miss Parker said it was something to do with the children, but she didn't tell me much.">

"I come for my other son," Joseph replied in halting English, turning his eyes to the others one at a time. "I vish to be viss him. Now I am dead in Berlin, so I can stay here." He explained to Jarod, who translated for the others. Then, he reached into a pocket of the jacket he wore and pulled out a small silver disc, handing it to Jarod and closing his fingers around it. <"This will tell you everything,"> he assured his friend. <"It has all the parentage records of the Seraphim. All but one.">

"Gabriel," Jarod assumed. But he already knew that information. "So we can use this to locate all the parents who are still living, and reunite the families."

Joseph nodded. <"My son's name is Raphael. May I see him?">

Sebastian glanced at Faith. He leaned close and whispered in her ear. "He's telling the truth," she affirmed softly. "And he loves his son. But he's sad about something, too."

Jarod asked him about that. With a note of surprise, Joseph explained about having to leave Julia, Peter's mother, behind in Berlin, speaking in halting English so that the woman's son wouldn't understand. The Pretender listened, twirling the disc between his fingers thoughtfully.

"Who is Raphael's mother?" he asked when the other man was finished.

<"I never met her,"> Joseph assured him. <"Her name is Catherine Parker. Do you know her?">

For a moment, the disc did not move. Jarod's fingers closed over it, gripping it until his knuckles turned white. <"Yes. I knew her. She's dead."> He didn't need to see his friend's face to know that brought a little sadness with it.

But then he remembered something Miss Parker had told him in a recent phone conversation. Now he had another dilemma, one he wasn't qualified to decide. He'd need to talk to her about it, to ask her opinion before he proceeded. Merritt was Catherine's clone. And now, it seemed, she had a son, and his name was Raphael.

Jarod laid the disc on the table and slid it along the polished surface toward Sebastian, who took it and handed it to Ramona with instructions to compile all the information stored on it in a report for him to view later. Then the Pretender stood, taking Joseph by the elbow, and led father and son toward the elevators and the nursery, so the family could be united at last.

* * * * * * * * *

Saltire Labs
New York City

Miss Parker signed the receipt and watched as the cart full of blood samples was opened, and testing began. She took a seat on one of the laboratory stools in the corner, pulled out her cellular phone and dialed the number she had memorized. The call was picked up, the code delivered, and moments after she hung up, her phone rang.

"Hi," she said softly into the mouthpiece. "How's my baby?"

"Gabriel's fine," Jarod assured her with a smile in his voice. "What's up?"

"Just wondering how things are going down there. I know you've got a lot on your plate right now, but…" She leaned her head back and closed her eyes wearily for a moment. "I'm starting to get a little nervous. I'm not making any apparent progress in the hunt for the Seraphim. If something doesn't happen soon, I'm afraid my position at the Centre may become pretty tenuous."

"I've been thinking about that," he confessed brightly. "And you could use a feather in your cap. I have a solution, but it's going to require some acting on your part. Think you can handle it?"

"I'll give it a shot. What do you want me to do?"

He enumerated the plan, and she started to smile. By the time he finished, she was laughing. "Jarod, you really are a genius. I'll see you soon. Give Gabriel my love."

"There's more," he said quickly, and explained about Raphael's parentage. "Do you want me to tell Merritt, or just wait, so you can handle it?"

Morgan sighed sadly at the fact that she had still another brother, this one her own son's age. "She trusts you, Jarod. You'll find the right words. But she does need to know."

She hung up the phone and slipped it back into her jacket pocket. Tragedy seemed to flow from the Centre like a river, affecting all those it touched even in the most fragile ways. Merritt would decide for herself what she wanted Raphael to be to her. And she promised herself to call the teenager the next day, after she had heard the news, just to talk. That would be a comfort to both of them, and something Morgan would enjoy doing.

Then she remembered Jarod's plan, and let the scenario tumble over in her mind, watching it like a movie, like it had already happened. Suddenly she didn't mind having to oversee all the boring labwork stretching out in front of her for the next several days. She was going to Texas, and the Chairman was going to be very pleased with her, indeed.

* * * * * * * * *

Chairman's Office
The Centre

The telephone rang, and he answered it impatiently. There was too much to do still, and the boy's arrival was long overdue. He didn't have time to talk just then, and snarled into the mouthpiece. "Yes, this is Mr. Parker. Who the hell were you expecting when you dialed my extension?"

He listened for a minute, and then stood up. He started to swear into the telephone, his face heating up until it felt as if it might explode. He shouted into the phone until his secretary came into the room to see what the problem was. He ripped the handset off the device and flung it across the room, shattering one glass panel on the office door.

"Sir! What's the matter?" the woman inquired, her eyes wide with fear.

"They've lost him!" Parker shouted at her. "They've lost another healer, and their last one is dead. How incompetent are those damn Germans, anyway? Delius says it's Kruger's doing. Kruger says he never heard of the boy…" He held his head in both hands, striding across the office floor, willing himself to calm down. "I'm sorry, Pamela. I'm not angry at you. I just--"

Rage flared up again and he grabbed the remaining base of the telephone and threw it savagely against the wall with a roar of frustration. It made a dent in the sheetrock, and the machine bounced off and hit the marble floor with a crash. The impact broke the hard casing, and parts flew everywhere.

"Get out! Just get out!" he demanded. "And get my damn door fixed!"

The woman retreated as ordered, and Parker collapsed onto his sofa, put his head down and wept.

All that power, and he still couldn't get what he needed most in the world. One little boy. One young man. Gone, out of reach forever.

And there was nothing he could do about it.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas

Merritt sat on the sun lounger on the observation deck, letting the wind blow through her hair. It was too much, more than she was prepared to handle, but she had known something was coming. She just didn't expect it to be in the form of a child with her genes.

She had met and played with Raphael before, when she and Jordan had taken Jacob to the nursery to enjoy some time with the other children. Raffi seemed to have a special affinity for her, drawn to her above everyone else who had come into the children's lives. She had felt a connection with him as well, something about him making him just a little more special than the others.

But she hadn't been ready for this.

How could she be a mother? She was still a virgin, for goodness' sake. And she didn't even know the guy Jarod had told her was Raffi's father. Joseph seemed nice enough, but he was nearly twice her age and she couldn't even carry on a conversation with him, since his English was so poor.

"I can't do this," she sniffed, trying to avoid crying yet again. "I just can't."

She decided to call Aunt Harriet and see if she could go back to the farm for a while, till she had adjusted to the news and had figured out what to do.

She heard the door open and started to get up, until she saw who it was that had come to join her.

Jordan's face was weary, dark circles under his eyes from worry and sleeplessness, but he flashed her a tired smile and took a seat on the lounger beside hers. "Hi," he said quietly. "Thought I might find you up here. Seems to be everyone's favorite place for solitude these days."

He stretched out on the chair, leaned his head back and closed his dark eyes. "I just needed a little break. You know?" He sighed, his voice tight. "This is hard."

"I know." She didn't want to go into his ordeal with Jacob just then. She had seen how it hurt him, how he covered up his own pain with smiles and laughter, for the little boy's sake. She had seen the genuine joy in Jordan's face at times as well, and felt him maturing at light speed. When it came to her, he gave her space without asking, and didn't push when they were close. He was doing everything exactly right, and she was grateful for that.

She had wanted to help relieve his burden, and helped him with Jacob as often as she could, but the majority of the boy's care was still in Jordan's hands, by his choice. He amazed her, and she fell more in love with him by the day, but the looming specter of adulthood frightened her, made her want to run away from it, put it off a little longer.

Only now, she didn't have that choice. The grownups said she did. They told her she could stand back and let Joseph do all the parenting. They said they didn't have to tell Raphael that she was the closest thing he had to a mother. It wasn't really her responsibility, they assured her. She could be like a sister to him.

But she knew better. She had been made from the genes of a woman who died before she was even born. That made her the only Catherine Parker there was, and connected her directly to Raphael. It made her his mother, whether she wanted to be or not.

"How do I do it, Jordan?" She heard the tears in her voice, but didn't bother trying to hide them from him. "How do I be a mom? I don't even know how to be a woman yet."

He grasped her hand and tugged on it gently. Without further prompting, she got up from her chair and climbed onto the one that he sat on, curling up partly beside and partly on top of him, resting her head on his shoulder. "You just follow your heart, baby," he assured her quietly, folding his arms around her. "I'll help you as much as I can, but my time's going to be taken up… for a little while, anyway."

Neither of them said Jacob's name, but they both knew what he meant.

"I'm only 17," she whined softly. "This wasn't supposed to happen. Not yet. Not till we were ready for it."

He kissed her hair. "I know, Merritt. But we didn't get to choose." He let his left hand slide off her shoulder and down her arm, squeezing gently. He chuckled softly. "Remember that talk my dad had with us in Barrow? Maybe we should have gone ahead and done it. We got the responsibility part of the consequences anyway."

Merritt couldn't believe what he'd just said, and raised her head, looking down at his laughing eyes. "Oh, you think so, do you? Frankly, I'm in no hurry to get pregnant, thanks."

His expression grew serious. "You're right. I'm sorry. I didn't mean--"

She snuggled down against him. "I know what you meant, Jordan. It's okay." She sighed. "I wondered, too. But I need to wait a little longer. I don't want to make a mistake I can't take back."

"And we only get one first time," he added, embracing her again. "I want it to be special for us, too. There hasn't been anyone else for me, you know."

She smiled against his chest. "I was hoping, but didn't want to ask."

"Yeah. I'm a virgin, too. But I've read up on it, so I know what to do."

Merritt thought about asking for his research materials, but decided she didn't want to know any more than she already did, just yet. There was plenty of time for that.

"So where are the manuals for parenthood?" she asked resignedly. "The really good ones, I mean."

He squeezed her closer. "For that, we've got a whole staff of people to show us what to do. They've got classes and everything." He nudged her, making her look up at him. Gently, he laid his palm over her heart, careful to make sure she knew where he meant to touch her, so she wouldn't pull away. "This is where we get the best advice, Merritt. Always trust your heart."

He was far too wise for someone barely 18 years old, and she told him so.

Jordan's smile was filled with wistfulness and pain. "It's just something I learned from my dad." He traced his fingertips over her cheek as she looked at him. "Are you sure this is what you want?"

Merritt sat up and straddled his legs, taking care to sit on his thighs rather than his lap. "You didn't exactly get a choice either, as I recall. What else can I do?"

He shrugged. "Be an older sister. Let Joseph raise him."

She shook her head. "Raffi knows, Jordan," she assured him. "He knew before I did, before any of us. They all do, all those kids."

Jordan caught her hands and laced her fingers with his own. "But the responsibility doesn't have to all fall on you. You can be in Raffi's life without being his mother."

"Not if I'm here," she assured him, certain of that in her heart. "As long as I'm handy, he'll see me as 'mom' whether he ever calls me that or not. He knows who I am to him."

The youth remained silent, just looking into her eyes.

"I'm not as strong as you are--"

"I'm not strong," Jordan shot back before she finished. "I can't do this 'fatherhood' thing either. I look down the road and see what's coming, and I--" His voice broke. He looked away abruptly to get his emotions under control. When he looked back at her, his voice was soft, filled with warmth and compassion. "I know I won't be able to handle what's coming. But I just concentrate on the moment, just look in Jacob's eyes and do what I can to make sure he's happy right now… and that I can do. I guess that's the secret to all this; not looking too far ahead."

She felt a lump forming in her throat. How did she ever get lucky enough to have him in her life? she wondered. Then she remembered. It wasn't luck. It was Jarod.

"I guess that's it, then," she murmured.

He swallowed hard. "Want me to help you pack? I've got a little while before Jacob wakes up from his nap."

She carefully climbed off his lap and stretched out beside him. "I'm not going anywhere," she promised, and touched his cheek with her fingers, bringing him closer to her lips, so she could reach him for a kiss.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Miss Parker's office

The Chairman strode in without knocking. "I've got the decoding done on the Aurora positives, angel," he announced, his face grim. "The numbers aren't huge, but they're all in crucial spots."

Miss Parker eyed him, a bright smile on her face, chin high with pride.

"I know where they are," she announced, just hanging up her phone. "I'm having the jet prepped and a car's waiting downstairs to take us to the airport. Shall we go, Daddy?"

"The children? You've found the Seraphim?" The Chairman's momentary astonishment faded into greedy delight. He rushed toward her desk, pulled her eagerly out of her chair and said, "Great work, angel. Let's go get those kids!"

Broots skidded to a stop in the doorway before they had crossed the room. "It's Reception," he panted. "Ms. Penfield's requesting to see the Chairman!"

Miss Parker raised an eyebrow at the announcement, and nodded. "We'll be right there, Broots. But we already know where the children are, if that's what she's come to report. We were on our way there just as you came in." Moments later, she was standing in the front lobby, staring at the woman who had been her son's keeper and caregiver for the first two and a half years of his life. "Well, Ms. Penwheel," she mused blandly, arching an eyebrow. "Look what the cat dragged in. Didn't you forget a little something on your way back here?"

Penfield sagged at the sight of her familiar face. She looked older, more haggard, and thinner. "Thank God, Miss Parker!" she cried. "I'm so glad to be back. Those people, they made me--"

"Where's the baby, dammit?" Morgan snapped. "Surely you didn't leave him in Dallas?"

The older woman recoiled slightly at the shouted snarl. "Gabriel's fine," she said quietly. "All the children are being well treated -- spoiled, actually. And since you seem to know where they are, I guess you don't need me to help you locate them."

Morgan smiled triumphantly and nodded. "Exactly. We don't need you for anything. Do we, Daddy?"

Penfield's face registered her fear, her confusion. "But when you bring him home, you'll need someone familiar to look after him," she whimpered. "You are going to bring him home, aren't you? You wouldn't leave him with those people, surely."

"What people?" Mr. Parker demanded, catching up to them. "Isn't he with Jarod?"

"Jarod's been there off and on since the Seraphim were kidnapped, but they've hired new nannies for Gabriel and some of the others. Then they said they didn't need me anymore and asked me where I wanted to go." Reaching into her jacket pocket, she withdrew a bottle of pills and held them out for her companions to see. "I said I wanted to come back here, when they told me where Aurora came from. These help, but not enough. I think about it constantly. I dream about it. It's all I want. Please, Mr. Parker. I need Aurora. I'll do anything--"

"Let's go," the Chairman ordered, sweeping past her. "Penfield, you come with us, and I want as many sweepers as we can carry on the plane. We're going to Dallas, and Penfield's getting us in the door." He started toward the front doors, then turned to face his companions. "Where's Cox? We'll need him there, too."

The elevator doors opened, and Lyle hurried out toward them, his henchman bringing up the rear. "I just heard the Seraphim had been located," he announced with a broad smile. "I'm ready--"

"You're not going," Mr. Parker snapped, shooting a cool glare at him. "Don't you have enough to keep you busy here, without tagging along?"

Lyle stiffened, his gaze shifting to Miss Parker, as if hoping she would rise to his defense.

She crossed her arms and offered a smug smile instead, with one elegant eyebrow raised in question.

Mr. Parker relayed the order for the sweeper team via the security people in Reception, and waited for Cox to join them. The group then headed outside to the waiting limousine. The Chairman was beaming, gloating that he'd soon have the Seraphim back in the Centre. The woman he called his daughter had brought him this prize, and he was showering her with praise for her loyalty and dedication to her job.

The Chairman glared at Penfield in the back seat of the long black car. "Aurora," he mused with a low growl. "You can be back on it, just as soon as we've gotten back to the Centre with the Seraphim." He shot a meaningful look at Cox, who responded with a nod of agreement, promising without a word to take care of the woman himself.

Penfield sighed with obvious relief, oblivious to the unspoken conversation. "That would be wonderful. I'm ready to do anything you want to help you get them back." She described the place, mentioned her work for the past six weeks, and offered up every scrap of information she knew about the Prometheus Building.

Mr. Parker turned to his chief of SIS. "You'll put together a plan for getting the children out of there. I recall you visited the building after exploring one of Jarod's lairs nearby some months ago. Amazing how close you came, and didn't know it." His eyes narrowed at her suspiciously.

She raised an eyebrow as she regarded him. "The children were still in the Centre when I found that lair," she reminded him coolly. "And if I had known Jarod was there, I'd certainly have taken him with me. I'd guess he was investigating the place to make sure it would be a safe haven for them. Apparently, he thought it was."

He studied her for a moment, and nodded. "Yes, of course." He sighed. "But we'll have Gabriel home soon. And all the other children as well."

"Funny thing," Penfield piped up. "Jarod seems to think Gabriel is his son. I don't know where he could've gotten that idea, but he's got the boy calling him 'daddy' now." She shook her head. "I guess he really wanted to hurt you, Mr. Parker, and he felt that, by taking your son away, that would be a good place to start."

The Chairman glowered at her, and said nothing.

Miss Parker remained silent as well, and relaxed against the seat with a satisfied sigh. This would make her look very good indeed to the Triumvirate. But the Chairman had more unpleasant surprises in store once the reached their destination. He was about to have the rug pulled out from under him, and she would have the pleasure of watching. She could hardly wait to see the look on his face once he saw who was waiting for him in Dallas.

On to Act III

 
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