Episode 7: In A Stranger's Eyes
by Toni Walker and Sabrina Carol
by Toni Walker and Sabrina Carol
Steven Webb laid the woman he rescured on the sofa in his underground fall out shelter. He had come here to get away... from people ... from life ... from everything. He wasn't much of a people person and his social skills were next to nil. But he did have a very focused moral compass. He didn't like it when people tried to kill other people right on his front lawn.
He looked out the window which was a glass opening on the side of a cliff. He had been correct in his first assumption. It was gonna be one hell of a storm. The first flakes were only now starting to fall. The battered and bruised man outside would find it in his best interest if he discovered a way off the mountain. If he didn't, he was going to be stuck in the storm of the century.
Steven glanced at the woman on the couch. She was going to need to rest for a few days. As far as he could tell, she had a major concussion, but nothing a little rest and relaxation wouldn't cure. He wondered how she had come to be lying on a snow drift without a coat. Maybe she would tell him when she woke up.
He used his special periscope to see above his house and atop the mountain and scanned the horizon. He could see three people clearly. One woman was alone and from the looks of it had a very menancing looking gun in her grasp. The other two were not far head of her, running at full throttle down the mountain. They would never make it to the bottom in time. Steven knew he would have to call the authorities to get them, but even the National Police might not fly up to the top of the mountain in the middle of a storm. It was then he began to worry. At this altitude, it wouldn't take long for them to freeze to death.
Gia Doyle still couldn't fathom why the Foundation wanted Ethan back. She had been out of the country for most of the last few years, so she wasn't completely informed about what the elder Fairchild had done to put him in the laser site of the Foundation's top covert team. Somehow in the last three years, Ethan had become a detriment to the Legacy, and as far as she could tell, the Foundation didn't want him either. The new controller, Kain Newcastle aka Echo, had told her that this man she would be chasing had killed many and to watch herself. She guessed Echo didn't know that Gia was well informed on the life of Ethan Fairchild.
"They're getting away!" She yelled as she ran to intercept Ethan and his gal pal, Jazz. "Ethan, you little twirp. I'm going to get you this time," she mumbled.
Echo listened in on Gia's conversation with herself and couldn't help but wonder why she kept referring to the man she was chasing as Ethan.
"Please tell me you're chasing the right man," Echo asked innocently.
Gia stopped running abruptly. "What are you talking about, Newcastle?" Her breath came in short gasps, but she could still hear what the controller had to say.
"It's just that you keep calling him Ethan. I just want to make sure you're after the right man."
If it was possible to burst a vein at will, Gia would have probably been able to accomplish the feat. She had never been so enormously angry before.
She breathed deeply to control her voice. "The photo I received was of Ethan Fairchild. I know what he looks like, I've worked with him before."
"No," Echo corrected her. "The photo you received was of Ethan Fairchild's clone. As far as I know, they're calling him Ian. Aren't you up on this whole story?"
"Apparently not." Gia noticed that Ethan and Jazz had stopped running and were now searching an abandoned cabin for anything they could use against her.
"During the Bulgarian Underground assignment, Ethan stumbled upon a labortory where someone was keeping an exact replica of Ethan. Ethan and Octavia faked his getting kidnapped so Ethan could bring this clone back to headquarters. Well, that never happened, cause not long later, Ethan realized that his father was the one who had created this clone. That was when Ethan hooked up with the Knights Foundation. He's been working with them for awhile now."
Gia couldn't believe what she was hearing. "So, you're telling me that this man I'm chasing is a clone of Ethan?"
"Yup, I'm pretty positive considering I just talked to Ethan a few minutes ago and he was going on an errand in south London. Something to do with Michela Forsythe, I think. I'm sure you remember her. She's that wacko freelancer who tried to kill her entire family after Ethan ... well, I guess that's not important."
Gia was actually interested in knowing more about a psycho Michela, but she didn't have time now.
"So, is this man as dangerous as Ethan?"
"Probably more so. He actually thinks he is Ethan. But when he remembers that he's really the clone... well, let's just say, I'm glad I'm not you."
"Wonderful." Gia moved from her spot on the mountain and edged down the steep trail a bit more. "Let me guess. He could go psycho-clone at any moment?"
"Pretty much. Have a nice day." Echo signed off and Gia drew her gun as she opened the door of the abandoned cabin.
A wave of nausea swelled in the recess of Kaye Corday’s stomach. It was a feeling not unexpected, yet defied explanation; especially, since it was always her older sister that made her feel this way.
Mustering a stabling breath, Kaye twisted free of Dyan Ransom’s hold. "Really, Dyan, you have a grip that can kill," she said, massaging her forearm.
Dyan delicately touched her tender and swollen abdomen. "Then I guess that makes us even," she made reference to the bruising Kaye had given her a few minutes earlier. "But judging by what I caught you doing I think a sore arm is the least of your worries," Kaye’s puerile face flushed hot, and Dyan seized the moment.. "I saw everything. I want you tell me what’s really going on. Why are you risking not only your career, but your life?"
That very moment Kaye wanted to cry out to the heavens. It was as if the Gods were determined to keep putting obstacles at every corner. Her trembling hands became clenched, forming two fists.. She’d already come so close to blowing it. If it had not been for Dare… He had put everything on the line by helping her sneak Allison and Jared from the hospital.
Kaye, found herself struggling not to laugh at the absurdity of her situation. It was quite ironic that she was face to face with her sister, the woman Dare had vowed to love forever. The woman that only knew him as selfish and a liar.
It seemed she and Dyan were always opposites at everything, including when it came to Dyan’s husband. Whereas, Kaye and her twin sister, Allison, were petite blondes with hazel eyes, Dyan had a crown of brunette locks, and sparkling violet eyes that could be mistaken for the finest gems. If not for their late mother, Anna, they would have nothing to connect them.
Kaye’s sudden cheerful disposition soon gave way to anger. Once again she was plagued with peculiar emotions that collided in confusion when she thought about the people she was suppose to hold dear. A slicing pain cut into the base of her skull. Kaye pressed a hand to the throbbing ache. Some days it hurt so bad she was unable to cope.
Fed up, Dyan turned sharply on her heels and started for the hospital’s front lot.
"Where are you going?" Kaye called after.
Her sister glanced back over one shoulder, but didn’t stop. "Back to the hospital, we’ll see how fast you cough up an explanation when Fairchild hears about this."
"Dyan, stop!" Kaye cried out in a voice trapped between desperation and pain. "I’ll tell you, okay. Just don’t…,"
Dyan didn’t say a word, but nonetheless returned to her.
Kaye took several calming breaths before beginning. "The person you saw me putting into the van wasn’t dead," she said, shakily. "He was a patient from the hospital--- and yes, I kidnapped him."
"Why did you take him, he’s obviously in need of serious medical care," Dyan demanded to know. When Kaye didn’t respond she continued. "Is he an operative?"
Kaye nodded silently.
Dyan’s eyes grew troubled. "Kaye, their going nuts on Sector 5 trying to find this man. What possessed you to do such a thing?"
Kaye couldn’t say a word. She looked helplessly at Dyan as she tried to force her mind to work through the pain. Think damn it, think! As Kaye stared into her sister’s eyes she knew the answer was right before her--- Dyan. Dyan, who was like a finished novel, once it was written that was it. Her sister was relentless when she set her mind towards something; particularly, something she despised. For the first time Kaye saw a dim light at the end of the tunnel.
"I did it because of Dare."
Kaye said nothing more. Instead she aloud her words to hang like a cloudburst in mid-air ready to pour down on the dead silence.
Dyan’s fair face had gone from disturbed to pale with shock. "Why would Dare ask you to do something like this?"
"He begged me to," Kaye answered softly. "I didn’t ask why because he seemed so desperate for help. I know you don’t trust him, but Dare has been nothing short of wonderful to me. He was the one who truly took the time to teach me all I needed to know when I first joined the Legacy. Why would I doubt his sincerity?"
"And you figured you had know choice, but to help him," Dyan concluded bitterly. "This is classic Dare Ransom--- to play on someone’s feelings. The man is a velvet steamroller."
"Please don’t tell anyone," Kaye pleaded, her hazel eyes wet with unshed tears. "If anyone at the Legacy finds out---,"
Dyan instantly took Kaye into her arms. "Don’t worry sweetheart," she assured while stroking her hair. "I’ll take care of that soon to be ex-husband of mine. I’ll see to that."
Dare Ransom couldn’t believe what he had heard.
"I did it because of Dare… , He begged me to …, he seemed so desperate for help... , I know you don’t trust him…"
"This is classic Dare Ransom--- to play on someone’s feelings…"
Yet the words echoed loud and true to his ears. Dare remained hidden behind the long row of gardenia shrubs. How could he have been so stupid? He had been a part of the Legacy for ten long years, never once had he allowed himself to play fool. Why did he have to start now?
Dare found the answer to his question as he peered between an opening in the gathered leaves. All he wanted to do was reach out and touch a silken tress of her brown mane. Even huddled in the dirt he knew what her hair smelled like at that very instance--- roses. Dare gritted his teeth in anger. He also wanted to grab hold of her and shake her violently. Didn’t she know him at all?
"No. You never let her," the ever present voice in his head mocked."You learned the art of disguise far too well, my friend. For a while there you even managed to fool yourself into thinking you could actually be true to anyone. Is it any wonder you slipped? Now sit back, relax, and watch everything you love fall away from you..."
A hard lump formed in the back of Dare’s throat as he saw Dyan and Kaye walk away, arm-in-arm, sister-to-sister. He knew then and there she was walking out of his life; and, he couldn’t help but feel that his heart was failing him.
Night had begun to fall, bathing the city in a blue calm. A cool glow radiated from the half moon illuminating the dusky sky. Nearing in the distance just across Culver Main was the vast Tudor mansion Adrian Zeller called home. The estate sat far removed from the road shrouded heavily by towering oak trees. Adrian circled his Mercedes-Benz into the concave drive and came to a stop behind Dyan Ransom’s waiting car.
Dyan did not seem to notice they had arrived. Instead, she stared absently through the side window, her mind elsewhere. Adrian watched her from the corner of his blue eye with careful curiosity. He vaguely recalled meeting his employee only once before. Other than the one time and today, their meetings were strictly the occasional phone call, where even then he found her bothered personality less than inspiring.
Tonight was proving to be different however. In the fading light, Dyan painted a strangely fascinating portrait of a woman. To Adrian, she wasn’t the classic beauty he was accustomed to; and yet, he was discovering something engaging about her. Maybe it was in the way her hair, resembling the brownest earth, folded past her shoulders; or, her eyes, violet, waxed strong and frail all at once. Whatever it was not even the troubling lines time had borne about her face could erase.
Adrian noisily cleared his throat, breaching the silent repose. "This certainly has been an interesting day, to say the least."
Dyan finally turned away from the window and a shadow fell across her face. "Yes, it has been," she sighed. "I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused--- though there wasn’t a need for you to come."
Adrian cocked one meaningful blonde brow in her direction. "You were far too upset to drive in your condition. I simply did what any gentleman would have done."
This appeared to amuse her. "Then I suppose I should thank you, in spite of everything," she said in an openly accusatory tone.
That very instant, Adrian wanted to kick himself as he recalled how foolishly he acted at the hospital. His ego had gotten the best of him, and he stupidly took his anger out on Dyan. It was an unwise move that could cost him in the long run. "I am truly sorry for what I did," he apologized in the hope of amending whatever ties he might have broken. "In my eagerness to help you I stepped out of line. But please, understand that everything I did was for your benefit."
"It's getting late I should be going." Dyan replied, opening the passenger door.
Adrian stifled a groan. "Tomorrow you can take the day off, if need be," he tactlessly tossed in for good measure. Even in the now darkness he knew she was smiling, whether it was one of gratitude or disdain he would never know.
"I'll be at the shoppe tomorrow," was all Dyan said and took her leave.
Adrian watched as she got into her car and drove off. His sight remained fixated on her until she bypassed a solitary car parked on the other side of Culver Main. Quiet, he exited his car, and swaggered purposely across the street. He lightly rapped his knuckles on the passenger window of the lone car. There was a clicking sound as the door was unlocked, and he smoothly slipped inside.
"I thought she would never leave," a rather melodious voice spoke in the shadows. "Tell me, how did everything go?"
Adrian tapped his fingers on the armrest. "It's going to be a lot harder to bait her than I formerly expected."
Her silhouette turned to him. "Surely not because of me-- I was brilliant today," she said with all the confidence in the world.
"Never you," Adrian huskily agreed, taking her into his arms. He felt the warmth of her breath on his chin. Expertly, he gently grazed his mouth against hers. "As always, you were a marvel to behold… Ms. Peel." And their lips united in a feverish passion, setting fire to any lingering thoughts of day.
"Please stop moving around, Ms. Kassoff," Steven tried to force Octavia to remain still.
"Oh, so now it's Ms. Kassoff, is it?" Octavia smiled through her pain. Her Russian accent was thicker today. Maybe he hadn't understood her request. She had woken up hours earlier and asked the stranger to call her by her given name.
"All right, Octavia. If you're in much pain from the fall, I can only offer you the basic pain reliever. I'm afraid I don't have anything stronger."
"I'll take you up on your offer, kind sir. You're a darling. Add a vodka chaser and I'm yours for the night."
Steven laughed nervously. "Not that I don't find your offer tempting, but alcohol is the last thing you need."
Octavia fell back onto the couch. Her lips jutted out in a pout. "Oh, you're no fun."
"Women tell me that all the time."
As the day progressed, Steven continued to check on his patient. He knelt down beside her bed sometime around two o'clock in the morning. She seemed to be resting comfortably, but he wanted her to take a bit more medication for the pain. If she didn't do it know, all her aches would be more pronounced in the morning.
Steven nudged her arm hoping to lightly rouse her, but her eyes opened almost immediately.
"Light sleeper, huh?" He handed her a glass of water and two brown pills. "Take these. The others have nearly worn off by now."
She did as he instructed, which she found strangely unusual. She didn't usually trust strangers.
When he rose to leave, she put a hand on his arm. "Don't go yet."
"I think it would probably be best if I did." Octavia couldn't know how many times he had undressed her with his eyes. He had felt the chemistry crackling between them since he found her passed out on the bluff with a gun pointed at her.
"You feel it, don't you?" she asked softly. Octavia wasn't one to believe in soul mates or things that were meant to be, but this feeling Steven Webb conjured inside of her almost made her think it could be true. "This can't possibly be all one sideded, can it?"
Her words hung between them like an unbreakable wall. Somehow her hand found his forearm and she moved it up brushing across dark hair.
"Octavia." His voice had changed. It was more husky now. It was more obvious that he wanted her as much as she wanted him. "We douldn't even be thinking what we're thinking. You're in pain, for Christ's sake. You fell out of a helicopter."
"I know. But... I'm also thankful to be alive. If you hadn't come along when you did, Irish would have killed me." She inched closer to him.
"You don't know that." His voice was now softer. She could tell he was into the chemistry building between them.
"I know only one thing for sure. Today I'm alive. Tomorrow I may not be. That's why I live for today."
She reached up and brushed her mouth against his. He was here today. That was all that mattered. And she knew chemistry like this only came around once in a lifetime.
As soon as their lips met, they knew one kiss wouldn't be enough. Steven deepened the kiss, going against his better judgement. It was in that moment that something cold and metalic came between their mouths. It was the shiny barrell of a gun.
"I'm sorry to interrupt such a tender moment, but I have to kill you know." Irish Quinn stared at the two of them in the near darkness. Both had let their guards down. Both would be dead by sunrise.