Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cloak & Dagger - Episode 13 - Who To Trust?



Episode 13: Who To Trust?

Gia Doyle didn't realize her current actions were most unlike her but since she had the mysterious microchip extracted from her brain her personality had drastically changed.

"You don't need to do this," Will Daly said. "I was happy to wait for the landlord."

Gia smiled. It was an expression she had rarely used in the past. And if any of her usual co-horts had been around to see it, they wouldn't have believed it.

"Henry isn't the most reliable soul," she said. "Let me do this for you. I can afford it."

Will agreed but it was silently understood that this conversation was not over. He liked paying his own way but with his billfold locked in his apartment, he was at Gia's mercy. Not that it was a bad thing. He kind of liked the idea of being trapped by Gia.

The boutique where Gia had an account was fancy and high end. They had selections for both men and women but mainly focused on corporate attire. The sales lady whisked Will off while eyeing Gia warily. It was obviously Gia had been there in the past being her former rude self. So, obviously, The entire staff jumped to help her.

"How can I assist you today, Ms. Doyle?" a young, pretty blonde said with a slight fearful hitch in her voice.

"I'm not really here for me. I'm just trying to get Will on his way. But I wouldn't mind checking out some of those fall outfits." 

The blonde glanced from the clothes rack and back to Gia.

"Really?" Her voice was skeptical. "Is that really your style?"

"Oh, sure. They look very cozy. And I'm all about being comfortable."

That fact was news to the sales lady. She'd obviously waited on Gia in the past and was used to her clipped, angry tones and sharp orders. She flipped through a stack and found a warm berry and burn orange selection that went perfectly with Gia's dark auburn hair and skin tone.

"Oh, that's wonderful. What about a couple of pairs of jeans too? I don't seem to own any. I'm not sure why."

The sales lady, named Sallee, raised a curious eyebrow. "Ma'am, you usually only buy severe suits and corporate clothing. I'm not surprised you don't own a pair of jeans."

The two of them spent a good half an hour looking through the store's casual section. Gia had a near cart full of warm winter tops, jeans and sweaters, not to mention a couple of make up palettes she just couldn't manage to bypass without buying.

"I have to say, Ms. Doyle. This is the loveliest experience I have had working with a client."

"I"m glad." She handed the girl her credit card. "Make sure and put Mr. Daly's purchases on here as well."

Sallee ran back to the men's dressing room to find the prices. She was only gone a moment before letting out a blood curdling scream. Gia ran to investigate and found a blood drenched body of a sales lady and red hand prints on the mirror in bloody smears that suggested a dire scene had taken place inside the dressing room. 

She placed a calming hand on Sallee's shoulder. "Call the Constable and a medic immediately." 

Sallee gave her a glassy-eyed nod and rushed off happy to oblige and leave the messy scene.

Instinct told Gia that this crime was personal. She pulled out her cell phone and dialed the only person she thought she could trust. "Philip? I have a situation."

***

Chandelor Knight may have been stored away in an alternative location inside the Knights Foundation mansion but that didn't necessarily mean he was safe. Liz Hunter and Bobbie Sullivan maintained their charades. Liz as the Gia wanna-be and Bobbie as Chandelor. Faith Fairchild knew what was going on but Liz and Bobbie both had reservations about her. They didn't know how far they would be able to trust her. She had many issues in the past not to mention she was currently sleeping with the enemy and had been for months. Could she have been compromised too?

Unbeknownst to Faith, Liz or Bobbie, Daniel Fouts had a bigger plan up his sleeve. While Fouts diistracted them, a second team stealthfully stormed the fortress and went straight for Chandelor.

***

The little girl in the dream sequence with the Madam Zolton card quickly faded away and he was once again in the hallway of The Legacy lying on a gurney with unfamiliar faces around him.

Something was pulling at his energy reserves. Something was controlling him and he had no power to stop it. Suddenly his mind wandered to another time. A time when he was young and also had no control over his life.

Ethan Fairchild had spent his entire existence trying to recover from scars endured from a childhood fraught with fear, anxiety and trembling. Father Macaire Ambrose and his aunt on his father, Franklin's side, Sister Mary Rosa had brought on much of the fear, much of the torment,. All in the name of a faceless God he could not, no, would not identify with.

He had never felt this vulnerable or weak before. As a spy he had trained his mind to deal with unusual scenarios, things normal people would think unfathomable. But he didn't flinch.

That was the job.

He knew it had successfully torn a huge hole in his heart but thew was no going back now. The damage had been done starting with Macaire Ambrose and his strict church doctrine. 

It was no wonder he had fled at his first opportunity when he was young toughing it out on the streets of New York then London. He ran as far from Macaire Ambrose and his aunt, Sister Mary Rosa as he could. If what Father Ambrose had to offer was religion, he wanted no part of it.

And in the end, it was this distrust of the system, of "the man in the corporate office," the powers that be, for his father to take advantage of his mindset and lure him into the life of a spy. Now that life was being drained from him. He could not only feel it but see it. It was as if the nanites were tormenting him, fighting against him.

As the gurney he had been hefted onto careened down the hallway, Ethan could for the first time feel his life slipping away from him.

***

Ian hated leaving the old man behind but he had no choice. The man promised he could escape on his own, but Ian wasn't so sure. He'd been imprisoned for much longer than Ian had he had. Ian wondered  if he had an ulterior motive for staying behind. Maybe he wanted ta showdown with Isidor. Ian wasn't sure but he knew a man with a vendetta when he saw one.

He pulled Athena down the dark corridor, but to him it looked almost as bright as day. It was like he had a sudden night vision.

"How do you know where you're going?" Athena gasped stumbling over the rough surface o the mine shaft floor. "It's pitch black and I can't see a thing."

"Trust me." I know what I'm doing," Ian said. 

Athena wasn't one to put a lot of weight in trust. Both her father and her sister had lived this nefarious double life she knew nothing about. She could hear the guard's worlds taunting her, telling  her how her father's decision were made to keep her in a lavish lifestyle. She tried not to let it get to her but she could sense a sliver of truth among the lies. And it was a truth she didn't want to focus on.

"You're lagging behind. Try to keep up." Ian's voice was gruff and determined. 

"The only way you're going to go any faster is if you carry me," Athena said. "so, why don't you give me a break."

"If you insist." Ian grabbed Athena by her thighs and threw her over his should like a huge sack of flour. Athena gave out a shrill squeal as she picked up his pace.

"What in the hell are you doing?" She pounded on his back.

"At the moment I'm close to my destination." He was beginning an almost robotic speech pattern and it  was freaking her out. "Pipe down. We should be there in a few minutes."

It was a strange phenomena. Ian had been near exhaustion before  being zapped with the stun gun. And now he suddenly had enough energy to power half of London. Little did Ian know exactly where he was getting his reserve of energy.


Next time on The Legacy: Cloak & Dagger:


Familiar Adversary - Episode 8 - Train of Thought


Part 8 - Train of Thought

"Where do you think you're going, little miss?"

The second man sounded younger, maybe mid-twenties. I hadn't seen his face yet, so I wasn't sure which bad guy he could be. I didn't think any of them were that young.

A face suddenly filled my vision. He had a shock of spiky hair colored in a checker board pattern of various dark blacks and vibrant yellows.

I know that hair. I created that hair for a very specific character and it surprised me that this character would be involved with the likes of a bad guy like Ian.

"No way!" I shouted. "Echo? You can't be evil!"

Echo laughed. "Evil? Of course not. I'm not evil. At least no more evil than you are."

Echo turned to Ian and smiled. "She thinks I'm evil."

That's when Ian came back into my view. He spoke to Echo but looked directly at me.

"That's because she thinks we're behind everything that is going on."

A third voice joined the other two. This one was a young girl's voice.

"Don't' you think it's about time you gave her the 411 on the situation? She is, after all, the creator of us all." The girl giggled. "The characters teaching the one who created them. That's pretty cool, don't you think?" This voice belonged to Evie Raines from my series, Legacy of Spies.

I was completely thrown off guard. What was Echo and Ian and Evie doing working together?

Evie pushed the other two away and leaned over me. I was pretty much stuck where I was since the trio had shackled me to the bed where I was still lying on my back. I could only see straight up.

"You know what," Evie said. "I have a bug to pick with you. Why is it that you gave all these spy guys episode after episode of exposure but I get barely nothing. And... AND... I don't even get to meet the cool, dreamy spy guys? I mean, come on! Who was I really going to hook up with on LoS? I think we all knew that Tony Wolfe was on his way out and I doubt Mac would give me the time of day not when he has both Nikki and Teresa to contend with. And, by the way, you never did tell me who my sister is."

Evie crossed her arms over her chest. "I don't think that was very nice of you at all."

All I could do was stare at her since my arms were still clasped in bindings. The thoughts running through my head were bumping into one another. I was trying to figure out why I wasn't' dead and why they were talking my ears off. I was also a bit concerned about how they had come to know of my intentions for other characters like Tony Wolfe. And why they had banded together in the first place.

Seeing Evie there opened up the possibilities even wider. This wasn't just The Legacy. This was Legacy of Spies too. And most likely my entire Legacy Universe had been affected. It was boggling my mind.

"If you're all not mysteriously evil like my other main characters... why am I still tied up?" I was really getting tired of lying here like a victim.

Ian came over and sat next to me. "I needed a captive audience. I needed time to explain my position."

"Explain your position?" I mocked. "What position? In my story, you were evil."

"No," he said, defensively. "You hadn't completely developed my character yet. I had the * possibility * of being evil. I even heard a rumor running down the train of thought that you even thought I might be the real Ethan Fairchild."

I wanted to turn away but I couldn't. I felt open and exposed lying on a table like a slab of meat.

"There's no way you could know what I was thinking."

Another voice joined the mix, one decidedly British. "We're all thought forms in your mind. And with a person like you with a vivid imagination ... those thought forms sometimes communicate."

The British accent threw me off for a moment, but seeing Nigel Bennett from Legacy of Spies almost didn't surprise me.

"So, you know about every decision I've made about plotlines and character histories?" I had to find out as much as possible before I attempted an escape. I was already working on getting my hands loose from the bindings.

"We remember things that you remember. And like you, sometimes the memory of plotlines past begin to fade. Every character in your Legacy Universe is struggling for existence. You're forgetting about us and we don't want to be forgotten."

My mind was still a little boggled about how Ian could know I thought about the Bulgarian Underground lab from time to time and had more than once conjured the possibility that the wrong Ethan had escaped. And maybe a cloned Ethan had been sent into my universe instead of the true spy guy.

"There had to be a reason why you resisted making me completely evil," Ian said. "A reason why you held out the possibility that I could be one of the good guys."

"Stop reading my mind, Ian." Speaking to these guys was beginning to get a little spooky. Now they were catching onto my immediate thoughts. I didn't' know if that was good or bad. I guess it depended on if they were truly good or evil.

The biggest concern I had at the moment besides getting home was "who brought me here and how much damage had they done to my storyline?"

"I know you're full of questions, but I have just one. If your favorite character is Kevin Fairchild, why did you make Ethan your main spy?"

They all stared down at me with enquiring eyes. It was a little unnerving. But I was almost free of my bindings. I had been working to loose them the entire time we talked.

I hated being put on the spot. How did they know that I preferred Kevin over Ethan? This must be another display of their mind reading ability.

Ian leaned down and whispered in my ear. "Seems like we're all on the same train of thought doesn't it?"

"I don't know," I mocked. "Were you expecting this?" I had freed my hands and punched at Ian's face. I imagined him crumpling to the ground and reeled backward. The shock on his face was apparent. I had moved him without barely a punch. And I knew that the punch hadn't caused him much pain.

"How did you do that?" Ian asked backing away slightly.

"My train of thought is just a little stronger than yours. And like you said, I did create you." I mentally froze them all to the spot and then ran out the back door. I was probably making a mistake but I needed time to regroup and decide what to do next.

Familiar Adversary - Episode 7 - Far From Normal


Part 7 - Far From Normal

Have you ever thought that if you went to sleep that when you woke up everything would be back to normal? I feel that way many times during my dreams. I don't know if you know this, but I'm notorious for having bizarre dreams. Maybe that's why I like to write fiction since I have such a vivid imagination. I don't know.

All I know is that I was dreaming of being strapped down, and then woke up and realized that I really was. The only pesky question running through my brain was the identity of who had captured me.

I hated being helpless especially at the hands of either one of those traitorous characters. But I was grateful for one thing... At least I was alive.

And another thing that kept my hopes up was the fact that my characters didn't seem as vicious under the influence of another writer's pen. If I had been her, I would have made them even more deadly than they already were. That fact made me question who was really behind this all. I knew it couldn't be one of the characters. They were make-believe. They didn't live, breathe or think for themselves. Someone else was pulling their strings. The question was... who?

I attempted to open my eyes a fraction of an inch in order to get a good read on my surrounds, but my captors, like me, seemed to be somewhat psychic, although, my psychic intuition hadn't been on my side lately. And I can't tell you how much it really sucks to have your own intuition go a little on the wonky side.

Ian Fairchild's intuition, however, happened to be working perfectly fine.
"You might as well open your eyes," Ian said in a rather smarmy tone. "I know you're awake." I could almost see the smirk on his face in my mind's eye.

I inwardly sighed. I almost think I preferred to be captured by Gia. At least I knew in what area her psychoses laid. Ian ... well he was somewhat of a mystery. I hadn't created much of a back story for him so he could possibly do anything. The only thing I could cling to was the fact that Ian had seemed somewhat normal before his past with Faith had been revealed. And that past had never truly been confirmed. Because if Ian was all that I imagined him to be... I could be in big trouble.

Not that I thought Gia would be a better option, mind you. Both options were equally nasty and depressing fixes to be in. And as it seemed Ian wasn't going away any time soon, in fact, from the smell of it, he was fixing breakfast.
"What did you two do? Flip a coin to see who would get to torture me first?" I struggled with my bindings to let him know that I wasn't happy about being tied up like a crazy mental patient.

"Nah!" he said casually. "The FO's came in to led me an assist against Gia. Thank you, by the way. We had no idea Gia's character had been compromised along with the main spy guys: Ethan, Kevin and Michela."

"Oh, no problem," I mocked. "I love helping a stark raving lunatic."
Ian chuckled. And to make it worse, that laugh sounded damn sexy. "Easy now, kitten. Let's not get carried away."

God I hated this. Not only did he sound like Ethan. He looked like him too.
"Why couldn't I have created an ugly evil twin? It's so much easier to hate someone who looks the part."

Ian came closer, standing over me. I could feel his breath on my cheek. "Was that some sort of backward compliment?" He quickly turned away, looking over his shoulder. "I think she's breaking down. Heck, I think she deep down really likes me."

I tried to see an evilness in his grin, but darn it! That grin was looking almost charming.

"I can't take this," I said. "If you're going to be evil, be evil! Don't pretend to be a productive member of society."

"Oooh," said a second voice. "She's a feisty one. Harsh, but feisty. Why don't you do her a favor and put her out of her misery."

I gasped. "Wait! There's no need for that." I struggled with my restraints. I had to get out of there and I had to get out of there now. I didn't want to imagine what they both had in store for me.

Familiar Adversary - Episode 6 - The Not So Real Ethan Fairchild



Part 6 - The Not So Real Ethan Fairchild

I knew there was something weird about my experience in the alternate world. I could not accept the fact that I would ever turn evil. I mean, come on... Me? Evil? How asinine a thought is that? I knew for a fact that I would never turn evil. And some Make Believe Me was not going to convince me of that fact either. My nemesis was not myself. That woman was a big time imposter!

I watched as she fired at me and Thornton with such gleeful abandon. There again was another reason that could not be me. I would never try to kill myself.

The bullet zipped past us going wildly into the bushes. She wasn't a very good shot. Neither was I. So in that aspect we were the same. Dang.

I glanced at her again. Her face was made up with a sparkly kind of makeup. Not my style at all.

I slapped Thornton on the shoulder. "I can't believe you thought that phoney was me."

Thornton fired back at the woman nicking her in the arm. "I had nothing to base the real you on, so sue me. There was no way I could really know what you would be like. I accepted what was put before me."

I shook my head. "I thought you were a better spy than that."

"Obviously not since you keep nixing my progress at every avenue."

I shot him a wry smile as the Other Me cried out in pain from the bullet wound. "You're going to pay for that!" she shouted.

He chuckled. "What is she going to do? Write a red herring into this strange mystery?"

"As soon as you're gone," she screamed in misery. "As soon as you're gone, everything will go back to normal."

"Everything?" I whispered to Thornton. I call him Thornton because that's the secret middle name I had given to my super spy character, Ethan.

In case you've forgotten the players in this mystery, Thornton is the real, flesh and blood Ethan Fairchild. Apparently, he's a bit perturbed at me since I've ruined his life by posting his story on the internet. How the heck was I supposed to know there was a Ă«real' Ethan Fairchild? I guess I'm more psychic than I realize.

"I knew what used to be normal," Thornton said. "But you changed overnight."

"You mean she changed overnight. Not me. That is not me! How many times do I have to say it before I get it through your lunk head skull? That is not me, nor has it ever been me. She's an imposter."

I don't think Thornton was quite accepting my theory. I based this observation on the fact that the temperature had dropped about ten degrees in the last few seconds around the area where we were hiding. Men! They have such a hard time admitting when they're wrong.

"Can't you see that she's changing? Look at her. Even now, before our eyes, her wardrobe has become more dark and dastardly. She's revealing her true colors. Now that I'm here, I'm sure it's harder for her to maintain her disguise."
"Disguise?" Thornton looked at me with glassy eyes.

"Haven't you been listening to anything I've been saying? That woman is NOT me!"

I heard my adversary's gun discharge. And this time it came precariously close to my head.

"Watch out!" Thornton yelled, pulling me backward out of harm's way. "She means business. She wants us both dead."
I snuck another look at the Alt-Me. Her hair was beginning to change color now to a vibrant red.

"That's what I don't understand," I said. "Why would she want you dead too? I think she's created this alternate reality in order to keep you both together. She should want you to live."

"Maybe she's jealous of your relationship with me." Thornton gave me a smirk that for a second reminded me of Ethan's evil twin, Ian. But I shook that thought off quickly. I seriously did not want to delve into anything concerning Ian Fairchild.

"We don't have a relationship," I shot back after stumbling over the image of Ian swimming in my head. "I created Ethan Fairchild from bits of information deep in my psyche. If she was really me, she would know that."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that it's most likely that she's someone from your past. You're her focus. She only wants me dead because of you. She's used my story to draw you into her web."

"You're crazy," Thornton said. "This is not about me. It's YOUR story!"

"Not exactly. It's my Legacy universe, but the characters have been altered. She's writing them in a new way, controlling them."

"Can't you get back in control of them so they're on our side?"
I smirked. "Oh, so now we're on the same side?"

I dodged another bullet and somehow landed in Thornton's arms. I began to push him away from me, but then I noticed something on one of his wrists. It was a red stain. A birthmark. Ethan didn't have a birthmark. So Thornton shouldn't have a birthmark either. The image of Ian came back into my mind screeching to a halt in my mind's eye.

I pulled back from him quickly putting as much space between us as possible.
"Oh, my God! Get away from me!" I screamed.

He could see that I knew his secret. "I can explain."

"No you can't. You're not the real Ethan Fairchild. You lied to me. You're ... You're ... Ian!"

I stumbled backward and straight into the path of one of my adversary's bullets. It came at me in slow motion as it slammed into my shoulder. The pain was immense but not as bad as the fear in my gut. I looked for a way out. Any other avenue to scramble to. It was then I looked at the one who had shot me. She no longer looked like me. She now looked like another person I knew.

"Gia?" I gasped. "You? Why is it you?"

I stumbled backward and tripped over a rock as both Ian and Gia advanced toward me. The rock caused me to stumble and I fell hitting my head on a rock. The last thing I remember before I passed out was seeing their feet so close to me that I knew I was soon going to be dead at the hands of one of them. Maybe they'd even have to fight for that honor.

I could only pray that I'd wake up alive by some miracle. Maybe someone would come to save me, someone I would never expect. Maybe another character from another story. Or maybe we would start this scene all over again and I would keep the knowledge that it was Ian and Gia who were in league together against me.

I don't know. If I wake up tomorrow, I'll find out.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Familiar Adversary - Episode 5


Part 5 - The Real Ethan Fairchild

Have I mentioned how not too peachy of a trip this whole landing-in-your-own-story has been?
I'm still ticked off at Kevin for trying to use me like that (The more I think about it the more I want to kick his ever-lovin' butt!). Trying to get all kissy face and gain my trust while he shoots me in the back!

Men!

Now I'm walking in the dark with only one black shirt to my name, which I am wearing. (Do I even want to go into how Kevin got me to take my clothes off? I think not.) I'm off in the dark, searching for God knows what.

I guess shelter should be my first priority, and then about a fifth of some liquor that tastes about as nasty as it smells. Since I don't drink as a rule, a few gulps should have me under the table. Then if they find me, I really wouldn't care one way or another.

I do have to stay a little lucid while I think about writing scenes for upcoming Legacy storylines. If I can keep the characters busy, then maybe I can find a way home, back to reality and the real world.

***

The bar was crowded but in it I found the relief I was searching for. I wanted to forget. I wanted to make it all go away, at least for one night.

The bartender had only handed me my second drink when I heard someone step up beside me.
"You're a really annoying broad," said a man's voice.

I was beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol take over my central nervous system. So, not only did I lose hold of my tongue, but my legs weren't working too well either.

"Annoying?" I said, rather loudly, as I turned around. "I'll show you annoy..." It was in that moment I recognized the man.

"Hey, you're the cute guy from the train," I blurted out.

I quickly raised my hand to my mouth. I could hardly believe I'd said that outloud. People from all around the bar glared at me.

"Look," I whispered to the man next to me, chuckling. "It's the cute guy from the train." The man on the nearest stood didn't hear me, but I didn't notice. "I look forward to every time I see him."

I couldn't help but laugh, and then I wondered why drinking made me laugh. Was drinking funny? I guess it really didn't matter, because in that moment it was hilarious.

The man from the train yanked me off the bar stool and took my drink away from me. "You've had enough." 

It was only the second sentence I'd ever heard him say, and it was damn sexy.

As he dragged me through the crowded bar, I yelled, "Where are we going?"

"This place isn't safe. I'm taking you home."

"Your home or my home? Cause I have to tell you, I don't think I have a home in this reality."
The cute guy rolled his eyes. He was annoyed again, I could tell.

Outside it was a little cooler and the night air cleared my foggy brain a bit. It was then I realized I didn't even know this man's name. I'd seen him off and on for over five years, and I'd never once had the courage to talk to him.

I gave him my name and asked for his. I'd been dying to know.

'All the years you've been writing that damn story, you didn't know what my name was?"
"No, you never said your name aloud, and I never heard anyone else call you by name."
The cute guy laughed. It was one of those ironic laughs.

"This is rich. You've been ruining my life for five years by accident?"

I shook my head. He wasn't making any sense. How could I ruin his life when the only time I'd ever seen him was here and there on the train?

"You're making that up. That's a fib."

It's no lie, lady. The stories you write have put me in danger more times than I want to mention."

"Who do you think you are? Ethan Fairchild, super spy?"

"Yes," he said seriously. That is exactly who I am."

***

"You're name is Ethan too?" I burst out laughing. I couldn't help it.

There was no way on God's green Earth that I could have pulled that name from the air and then find out the guy I had lusted after for five years had the very same name. What were the odds?

"Yes, and we have to get you back to your own reality. So that the you from here won't know you're around."

"Huh?" This entire sequence was giving me a massive headache, or maybe it was only the after effects of the alcohol. " There's a me from here?"

"Of course," he said. "It's your reality."

I was beginning to think I hadn't jumped into an alternate reality, but instead had stumbled into the looney bin.

As much as I adored gazing at the cuteness that was this man, I had a feeling he wasn't going to be much help getting me home. He only wanted to keep me away from her... I mean, me... I mean, I don't know what I mean.

All I really knew for certain was that I should travel onward toward whatever was ahead of me.
"You can't leave," he said. The hitch in his voice said he cared for this woman, this other me. "Without you, I can't get her back."

Suddenly I was intensely jealous of ... myself! And if that wasn't something that will send me to the head-shrinker, nothing would.

"Get who back?" I asked, not completely listening to him.

The other Ethan was annoyed again. He seemed frustrated that I wasn't completely grasping his meaning. I was still stuck back at the part where his name was Ethan Fairchild."

"Can I call you something else? Something besides Ethan? Because, I'm already confused enough."

I knew he was only agreeing with me to get me to stay in this dimension.

"What's your middle name? I asked.

"Thornton." Gee, that was helpful, and strange. Thornton was the middle name I had secretly given him but never revealed to anyone. I was going to have to call him Thor and I wondered if I could do it with a straight face. It was then I decided to dub him plain Thornton.

"Does that mean you'll stay and help me get back at the you from here?" He seemed almost desperate to find her, and it made me wonder what kind of relationship the two of them had.
A rustling of wind and leaves sounded behind us in the dark alley. The street lamps were strangely dim and I could feel a presence of evil.

"Actually, lover boy," a voice said from behind. "I'm still here And this is all turning out exactly the way I planned."

I have to say I wasn't precisely expecting this – looking at my adversary and seeing my own face there.

"It's... It's not possible," I mumbled.

"Honey, you should know better than anyone that anything's possible."

Honey? I never said honey. So I knew that was definitely not me over there.

There was something greatly different about this other me. She was stunning. I'd never seen myself look so good, and she acted as if someone had given her a lethal injection of confidence, because that was one thing I surely lacked.

"What are you doing?" Thornton asked. Clearly he was confused by the other me's behavior.
"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm getting rid of the competition." Her steely hazel gaze hit me as hard as any assassin's bullet.

"How... How can that be me?" I realized until that moment I had never felt fear. At least, not fear of losing my life so tragically in the next few minutes.

"I didn't realize it had gotten this bad," Thornton said. "She used to be like you. But being here has changed her. Before she showed up here five years ago, this world used to be different. Brighter, happier."

I always had a feeling if I ever did turn evil, I would be one villain I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. My assessment of myself was curiously accurate.

"Prepare to die," the lookalike said. Then she trained her weapon on me and fired.

Familiar Adversary - Episode 4


Part 4 - Betrayal of Trust

I couldn't scream, but the sound echoed in my mind. The hand clamped across my mouth smelled like the residue from what I could only imagine was a gun. And my mind raced with worst case scenarios of every type.

A man's hand slipped a bit allowing me to bite down on the inside of his palm. "God dammit! You bit me." The person yanked his hand back and threw me to the ground while he nursed his injury.

My heart beat in my chest like a jackhammer. The man had the advantage. He could take me out at any moment.

"You're more trouble than you're worth," he said. "If I didn't think your life was damn significant, I'd unleash Ethan on you."

The comment about Ethan had me reeling.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Who am I? Just an idiot who disobeyed a direct order and came back here to keep Octavia from killing you."

The man who had pulled me into the forest was none other than Kevin. I could see that now.
"Is she dead?"

"Hell no. I don't need that much paperwork," Kevin said. "I'm just glad I caught you before you ran into that cabin."

I didn't understand. "Why didn't you want me to go in there?"

"Because that is where Ethan and Michela are."

"How do you know?"

"See that SUV out front? It's Legacy-issued.

Kevin guided me away from the cabin and back to where he had parked his SUV. He told me we had to find shelter and I agreed. Not much thinking was going on in my brain at the moment. I was in shock.

"There was a bed and breakfast inn a few miles down the road. I know of a remote cabin we can hide out in for the night." It didn't take long to get there.

Once we were inside, Kevin issued the oddest order. "Take off your clothes."

"What?" I couldn't believe his brashness. I hadn't been here five minutes and he already wanted me naked? What kind of character had I created here?

"Exactly what I said. Take your clothes off." He began unbuttoning his shirt and shrugging out of it. I could only stand there and gawk. Confusion mottled my brain.

"I know my brother. Ethan might have put a tracer on one of us. I know how he works. He wouldn't have stopped at that cabin if he didn't think he could find us," Kevin explained. "So strip."

I was extremely not liking this idea. I needed my clothes. They were the only clothes I had, not to mention they were a security blanket, of sorts, especially when they were on. I pulled a long navy blanket around me before slipping out of my clothes one-by-one.

"What are you going to do with our clothes?"

"Get them as far away from us as possible."

He wrapped a towel around his waist, and ran out to the SUV. He came back holding two piles of clothes. "I had extras," he explained. "In the car."

How convenient for him.

"I doubt Ethan's pants will fit you, so I brought just the shirt."

He placed them on the bed, then sat on the couch next to me. His head fell backward. He looked drained. All of his thirty-three years, marked his face. But that didn't make him unattractive. When he relaxed and took that scowl off his face, he was actually handsome.

But I doubt he saw me in any sexually attractive way. He still believed I was the enemy, but his honor wouldn't allow his brother to kill me.

With his head back, his breathing evened out. I leaned across him to the bed to grab the black shirt. It looked like it would fit me all the way to my knees. I held the blanket closed with one hand while I reached with the other.

His eyes suddenly shot open, startling me. I lost my balance and reached to steady myself on the only available surface – his chest. In that instant, he moved and we both tumbled sideways on the couch. His towel inching up on his thighs and the blanket straining to keep my breasts from popping out. Our legs were tangled and my breath caught in my throat when he pulled me closer to keep us both from rolling to the ground.

I couldn't speak. I could only look at him and he looked at me. Neither of us moved. His palm was on my backside and my free hand was on his hip, the other was trapped beneath me. If he didn't continue to hold me, I would fall for sure.

Kevin's eyes didn't leave mine. That made me feel a little less embarrassed as I tried to pull up the blanket. I could feel his heart hammering in rhythm with mine.

"Not exactly the way I pictured this happening," Kevin whispered.

"You've thought about us... together?"

"Ever since I found out you were real... I couldn't help myself. The agency told me to keep tabs on you and send in my reports. I fictionalized them all, making you seem like you were where you weren't. I didn't want them to find you. I knew they might plan to kill you. Looks like I was right."

"Why did you lie about where I was?"

Kevin averted his eyes and I grabbed his chin. The movement nearly sent me careening to the floor, but his hand on my butt pushed me farther onto the couch and pressed me fully against him. I suddenly knew the reason Kevin had lied to keep me safe.

"Now you understand?"

"I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything."

My whole body felt like it was on fire. He kissed my cheek and my neck. My brain ceased to function. All I could do was feel. When his mouth claimed mine, I was returning the kiss. His towel slipped away along with the blanket covering me. Suddenly, it was covering us both and I felt his flesh against mine.

Suddenly, his PDA beeped, and a voice came over the walkie-talkie function. "Where are you?' the voice asked. "Remember what I said, use any means necessary to make her trust you."

Kevin growled as he reached for the PDA.

"That's not what you think."

"You're seducing me to gain my trust?" I struggled against him. "Let go of me. I can't believe you'd do that to me."

I reached for the lamp and smashed it across his head. He crumpled to the floor and I reached for the black shirt and raced to the door. There was no way I was staying here. I couldn't believe it.

As I ran down the street throwing the black shirt over my head, I could hear Kevin yelling. "It's not what you think, Toni. Come back!"

"Like hell," I said running as fast and as far as my bare feet would take me.

Familiar Adversary - Episode 3


Part 3 - Death Looms Nightly

Kevin Fairchild sped away in Ethan's SUV, but Ethan didn't blink at his brother's actions. He had anticipated them. Another SUV rolled up next to him. The window slowly rolled down revealing the driver - - Michela Forsythe.

"Hey, lover. I hear you might be needing a lift," Michela said. She was wearing a midnight black cat suit that Ethan could greatly appreciate as it hugged every curve on her body.
"What took you so long?" Ethan snapped.

"Got hung up. Julian's on the prowl and he thought I was that bitch Janette again."

Michela was furious. She hated acting the part of someone else. It was one thing to have Janette pretend to be her, but it was quite another to pretend to be Janette, live her life, be in that sick, disgusting way with Julian Black. She merely attempted to hang that part of her life on a hanger in the back of her mind where she could forget it even existed.

Ethan had his moments of compassion and empathy. It wasn't like a man to deal with his emotions, but there were certain people he could open up to, and Michela was one of them.
"You don't have to be her, you know. There are other ways to bring him down."

She sped forward in the SUV following Kevin's trail, but she couldn't put the evilness of Julian out of her mind. Janette may have enjoyed being tortured and mentally abused, but she wasn't the type of person who could handle that abuse for long.

"I can't do it much longer, Ethan. The man is a monster. I'll lose my sanity if I can't extract myself from this mission." Michela's voice was nearing exhaustion. Ethan was surprised she was even lucid enough to drive.

He placed a hand atop hers on the steering wheel. "Pull over, Michela."

"I can't. What about Kevin and the girl?"

"Kevin can wait. I have a tracker on him. They won't be able to get far," Ethan said gently. "Pull the car over. Let me help you."

They were in the middle of nowhere, but Ethan could make anywhere feel like home just by imagining it to be that way. He wanted Michela to experience the same. He pulled her gently from the SUV. She was visibly shaking.

"It will be okay," he told her. "I'll make it okay."

The rain had stopped and the house they had parked in front of was dark. Ethan led her to the door. He quickly picked the flimsy lock and gained entrance into the cabin.

There was a blanket nearby and he used it to cover her shaking body. He could tell her mind was racing with what had transpired with Julian. She was useless in this condition. He had to make her forget.

***

There was no telling how long I'd been lying face down in the rancid water, but I swear I saw a bright light coming toward me. Of course, that was before I felt the gun nudged in my back bringing me forward into a sputtering reality.

"Get up!" It was a woman's voice. A pissed-off woman.

I tried to stay as still as I could as I regained consciousness. I thought I could use the act of surprise to somehow get the jump on the woman holding the big gun, but she had other ideas. She used the gun to concuss me. In spy terms that meant, she knocked me up-side the head with the butt of the firearm. It didn't feel too nifty. In fact, it hurt like hell.

The shock from the assault caused me to breathe in forcing a mouthful of rancid swamp water down my throat. Don't think I would forget that. Maybe some day I might be able to get her back for that experience. I sputtered a series of hacking coughs that took the surprise out of my attack plan.

And they say the good guys always win. Ha!

"This assignment was easier than I thought." Her accent was a mixture of Russian and British. That was obvious. But what wasn't obvious was her appearance. Since it was dark as pitch, all I could tell for sure was that she was blonde - - which was pretty funny if I thought about it too much. I never had been able to find a good image for Octavia in my mind, and even in this alternate world, she still didn't have complete form in my consciousness.

I let out an uncontrollable laugh. Maybe it was the fear bubbling up inside of me.

"I don't think I've ever been an assignment before," I said. "This is a new experience for me."

"I'm glad you're amused. It makes my job easier."

Through the water dripping in my eyes, I could see the Russian woman level her gun at me. Of course, the gun was clear as day, just my luck. Inside, I went completely still. So this was what it felt like in that moment before death, a silent stillness.

I closed my eyes because I knew I couldn't outrun the bullet or fight off Octavia Kassoff single-handedly. Too bad I never finished those karate lessons. Never even made it past my white belt. Maybe I could back-hand-spring her to death. I was pretty proficient at gymnastics, at least, I was when I was younger. Not that it would help now, in any case.

My head was bleeding and my balance shaky, so strike the gymnastics. If I tried to run, I'd only fall, and she'd kill me anyway.

I wanted to sing a song. It felt like an appropriate moment. Death looming and everything. But I couldn't think of anything fitting.

The gunshot sounded, but I felt nothing. She couldn't have missed. She was standing right in front of me, and I didn't think Octavia Kassoff was that bad of a shot. My eyes fluttered open when something heavy fell on me.

I screamed and jumped back. The blonde lady's unconscious form slipped down my body and landed face down in the rancid water. My eyes searched the dark night for the killer in the shadows. When I heard nothing, I scrambled up the slope to level ground and ran. I didn't care where. I just wanted to get away.

***

The fire was roaring and soothing music played on the radio. Ethan knew this would help Michela. Everything in the world was mental and he needed her mind back on the job. He sat next to her on the couch drawing his arm around her, making sure not to spook her.

He never imagined he and Michela would become involved again. She had recently recovered her memory, but had been hurt by another man. They had, had their differences in the past, but she was still the only woman who could ever drive him to distraction.

As he petted her hair, Michela leaned into him. She drew the cover around both of them and they sat that way for a long time. Her breathing calmed, telling Ethan she was in a much better state of mind. He shifted to get up, but she held onto him.

"Don't go," she whispered. "Make me forget. Make me forget it all."

***

I darted through the dark forest zig-zagging between trees. I could hear footfalls behind me. The fear propelled me faster than I thought was possible for me to run. Ahead I could see a light and smoke coming out of the chimney of a cabin. If I could get there, maybe I could save myself.

I was within a few feet of the log structure when the footsteps caught up to me. One hand pressed across my mouth while the other snapped like a vice around my waist dragging me back into the shadowy denseness of the forest.

I tried to scream but I couldn't. Could this be the end for me?