Chapters 1, 2 & 3
Legacy – The Fourth and Concluding part of the Moonbeams Story.
With poetry by Katrina Relf - Chapters 1 through 3.
Each time I look upon your face,
That face I love above all else,
I cannot comprehend how my world
Could look on you and be afraid,
Could look on you with naught but love.
The beauty of your soul shines through
Your face, your eyes - and I am lost
Forever in their wondrous depth.
They take me somewhere I have never been,
To a world of crystal, candles and night,
To a world of darkness, a secret place,
A place of dreams for us to share.
Each moment with you is a lifetime,
And only with you am I whole.
Let me lay safe and warm
In the shelter of your arms,
For only there do I find peace,
And only there will be my heaven.’
(‘Elysium’ by Katrina Relf)
Unable to concentrate on his business dealings any longer Gabriel threw down the fountain pen in disgust, blotching ink across the various sheets of paper upon his desk, and leaned back in his chair to scan his brother’s face, “What’s the use Snow. I may as well admit it, the boy is a disappointment to me!”
Looking up, startled, from his reading of a ledger, while he stood by a open window overlooking the vast grounds, Snow regarded his brother thoughtfully, “ Who Julian?”
“Is there any other!” Gabriel ejaculated, rising to his feet to join Snow in glaring out of the window, “I had such hopes, so many dreams, ambitions...” He splayed out his hands in a hopeless gesture, his voice trailing away to nothing. “Look!” He crossed the room back to his desk, and from a locked drawer extracted a sheaf of papers, “Long jump, high jump, javelin, long distance, martial arts, the list is endless Snow, all these certificates...For what!”
“Well the boy certainly has the abilities that you hoped for Gabriel.”
“Huh! Abilities yes, but will he use them? No!He has incredible physical strength, I’ve seen him uproot a tree, no mere sapling mind, but a tree planted five years hence, and doors, walls, just like the beast, he will crash through them. He is unstoppable Snow...He is...unique...”
“Then what is the problem, I thought you were pleased with his progress, you are always introducing him to your colleagues as your son.”
“Pleased with his progress! Huh!, And where now do you think he may be now....” before Snow had time to answer, Gabriel went on through gritted teeth, “I’ll tell you shall I...?”
“Snow shook his head, “He’ll be where he always is.”
“That’s right, where he always is, by the waterfall...” the sinister voice grated with menace.
“He likes it there, hell I like it there myself when I find the time, its a place to unwind.”
“Unwind yes! But Julian spends every moment he can there. I wouldn’t mind if he went there to test his strength against the forces of nature, no I wouldn’t mind at all, but have you seen him! Do you know why he spends so much time sitting by the waterfall?”
Snow exhaled a short sharp breath of humour, “Yes, I know. He goes there to read.”
Gabriel swung around, sweeping the sheaf of certificates from off his desk, so that they fluttered indiscriminately over the plush blue carpet, “To read! And would that be reports and ledgers from my businesses that he goes to study so faithfully?” Gabriel sneered.
Snow felt a bubble of laughter rise in his chest, but squashed it, his laughing albino eyes though, were enough for Gabriel, “So you too make a mockery out of me, my own brother.”
“He’s still young, let the boy be Gabriel.”
“Young! Young! When I was less than his age I was building empires, I had plans, great plans, and I fulfilled those plans before I reached adulthood, you know that. Snow. Yet the boy is fifteen, fifteen! He has been shaving facial hair since he was thirteen, he has the strength of ten horses, great physical strength, he should be putting it to good use, not sitting by waterfalls reading Shakespeare!”
“So he’s a disappointment to you, so what, perhaps its this place, there is too much tranquillity about it. Put the boy in the city and you may see the man in him yet.” Snow ventured.
“No, I don’t think so.” Gabriel spoke quietly, dejectedly now. “He is the beast’s child, in every way I see it in him, but the ferocity is not there. Look at these photographs Snow,” Gabriel opened the second drawer of his desk, extracting colour prints taken from footage of security cameras, “See the blood on those fangs, see the claws drip with blood. This is the beast Snow, the real beast, and this is what I had hoped for!”
“Perhaps the child inherited more of his mother.”
“I know that! Don’t you think I know that! So what am I to do? Fifteen years wasted! Fifteen long years of hopes dashed to this! A boy that reads poetry by the waterfall!” Gabriel buried his head in his hands.
“Perhaps if you showed him more respect, or, or, love...” Snow’s voice trailed away at the last nervously.
“Love! You know how I feel about love, how can you bring it into this conversation, it has no part in my life.”
“Love is a strong emotion, Gabriel, perhaps if the boy thought that you loved him more...”
“Love is a weakness!” Gabriel flared, smashing his fist down hard against the desk, “I have seen strong men take their own lives because they dared to love. And it is an emotion I will not allow in Julian’s life, or in my life ever!”
Snow was shaking his head, “No you are wrong...no let me finish, for once you are wrong Gabriel. If you showed the boy any affection at all, he might want to be with you, but by your refusal to love him you have driven him away.”
“Is that how you see it? I have given Julian everything, everything, he could wish for no more. All the gold, all the power, the authority, why, grown men look up to my son, he will go places, with my name behind him, he can be someone!”
“Yes with your name behind him, you yourself, said it Gabriel, but in his own right, who knows. People look up to him, because they fear him through you, they have seen his strength in the shows you delight to hold to show him off, but what does Julian get from these, pride? Ambition? I think not Gabriel. A boy is only his father’s son, when he has respect for that father, grown from love and affection. I have seen this coming Gabriel. Tell me, when have you ever sat down and talked to the boy, I mean really talked, do you know his feelings, his thoughts, his ambitions....”
“I do not need to know his ambitions, they were mapped out for him the day he was born.”
“What are you saying!”
Snow spoke to his brother like someone would a child, gently, “You never had him from birth Gabriel. The future that was mapped for him came from his parents. I don’t know much about Catherine Chandler or the beast, I only know from what you have told me. But it seems to me that those first six months being with them, left more of an impression on him than the other fourteen and a half years to follow with you.”
“That’s absurd! He was only a baby.”
Snow shrugged his shoulders. “Prior to his birth he had nine months with his mother, I’ve read about these things Gabriel, the bond between the unborn with its parents to be is remarkable. His parents thoughts, feelings, emotions, shaped Julian’s future before he was born, and the first six months he spent with them intensified those feelings.”
“So I lost him even before I took him from them, is that what you are saying?”
“More or less. Though something can be salvaged from the wreckage so to speak. But I believe only if you take him away from all of this.” Snow nodded through the open window to the paradise beyond. “Being here on this island, only serves to emphasise the boys’ natural ability for freedom, nature, love of solitude. Perhaps it is time that you took him back to the city.”
“To New York you mean?”
Gabriel shook his head, “I cannot. The beast would surely seek out his son.”
“How would he know?” Snow almost laughed, it was absurd!
“I don’t know the answer to that. How did he know when Catherine Chandler was in danger, answer me that! Surely he would know if his son were near.”
“And you are afraid of a confrontation?”
“Snow, you’ve seen him, you know what he is capable of!”
“I never thought I would see the day.”
“When my great and mighty brother would admit to fear of another.”
“This is no ordinary man Snow! And I am not afraid!”
Snow shook his head, “For so long you have denied any emotion, yet now your eyes betray your words. If you are afraid of the beast...”
“I am not afraid of him!”
“...if you are afraid of the beast,” Snow reiterated, disregarding his brother’s outburst, “Then you must have Julian on side with you.”
“How can I do that! I have already tried and failed, and failure I will not tolerate, least of all in myself!”
“Then you must dare to love. It is not a weakness Gabriel! No, listen to me!” Snow cried out, as Gabriel made to interrupt, “Love is not a weakness! It has its own strength. Finds it’s own way. You said yourself that you have seen grown men take their lives because they dared to love. Who then is the stronger of the two? The man or the emotion? Can you touch a man Gabriel? Can you touch an emotion? By its invisible force alone, love is the strongest manifestation on earth, the strongest emotion in the whole universe, and nothing can thwart its purpose.”
“Then it is too late...I know not how to love...and Julian would not expect it of me... Not now... Not after all this time... He is my son... But he is a stranger to me.” Gabriel sighed, his voice ragged.
“You could try, it is never too late. Bridges can be repaired.”
“What bridges? There never were any! I have never loved Julian. How could I? He has not turned out as I’d hoped.”
“Then perhaps you should hope for the next generation, and a fresh start.”
Gabriel turned to glare at his brother, trying to understand, “What do you mean?”
“That sometimes a trait misses a generation. Julian no doubt inherited from his grandparents as well as being moulded by his mother, and he has the beast’s strength, but a child of Julian’s? Do you get my drift, or do I have to spell it out for you.”
A sinister smile plucked at Gabriel’s lips, as his eyes hardened, “Son of my son. Grandson of the beast. Of course it is perfect! Why did I not think of this!” He swung around to make his way back to his desk, picking up the pen again, and began to write in silence, until done at last he glanced up at his brother. “We must make plans. It has to be a strong woman, someone also with great physical strength, someone who will let nothing stand in the way of her ambitions. We must plan for this down to the finest detail. Offer her a fortune....” He laughed wickedly, “but never part with the money. We will have no further need of her after the child is born. Yes it is perfect. Son of my son, it has to be! I will re-create the beast, and then I will be unstoppable!”
*** *** ***
A few days later, and hiding behind a fragrant shrub of wild bougainvillaea, Lauren searched for sight of him, as she had done many days since. There was something different about him, but as yet Lauren had been a little too nervous to introduce herself.
Watching as he sat thumbing through a much-loved copy of Great Expectations, Lauren was spellbound by her surroundings. Drinking deeply from the fragrance of the blossoms around her, the sound of birdsong all around, and the thunderous sound of a waterfall in her ears, Lauren had never felt so happy.
Back in the city there was nothing like this. Though there was sunlight, and fluffy white clouds, they were obscured by the tower blocks and there the fresh air was polluted by the smog of traffic.
Besides, Lauren had seen enough of the sunlight, the sand and the ocean to last her a lifetime, but this place, well it was something else, its beauty was spellbinding, and then of course there was the added bonus of him.
Ever since her father had brought her to the island, Lauren had explored it. There was so much to see. The high cliffs covered in dense vegetation, the flowers, vibrant colours only ever before imagined, and the waterfalls, they were the best of course, with their long steady stream of water, cascading over mighty rocks, falling thousands of feet to a spiralling whirlpool of foaming water at her feet.
This side of the island she knew, was off limits, and to get where she stood, she had to wiggle beneath a security fence. But in her opinion, this side of the island was the most spectacular, it was unfair that one man owned it and kept it to himself, such beauty should be shared, she’d decided, and she aimed to tell him so if ever she met him.
Watching the young man who read so avidly, she wondered for the umpteenth time whom he could be. A worker perhaps? She knew he couldn’t be the owner, for she had heard all about that man from her father, well that wasn’t strictly true, she had heard enough from her father, all too little actually, but in the main the description just didn’t fit.
The owner was dark haired, her father had told her, tall and thin and not to be offended. This young man was none of those things.
And Lauren loved to watch him.
His hair was the most wonderful shade of red gold that she had ever seen, and he had a physique most men would die for, tall, broad shouldered, and though she had never met him, she had decided by his love of books, that his personality would be gentle, charming.
He intrigued her in a way no other boy ever had, and she wondered how best it would be to get to know him.
Moving closer, coming up behind him, Lauren carefully picked her way over the loose rocks and lush grasses, until she was within feet of where he sat absorbed in his reading. To the left of them was the waterfall, thunderous in her ears, and she wondered how he could concentrate with such a sound nearby.
Then for a moment he looked up, and Lauren held her breath at her first sight of those intense blue eyes. The way he tilted his head to listen disturbed her, sending warm waves of emotion rippling through her body, and then she gasped as he spoke, his voice rich with a velvet that melted her, sending her body into spasms of desire that she had no control over.
“I know you are there.” He spoke so quietly, Lauren had to strain her ears to hear him, but even as the words reached her ears, somehow they also penetrated her heart, as if by some miraculous means he had delved deep inside her.
“Won’t you come and sit with me?” she heard him ask, and timidly, Lauren left her hiding place to walk slowly towards him.
Scanning her with a hand held to his brow to shade off the glare of the sun he looked up at her, his blue eyes blazing with friendliness. And instantly Lauren relaxed, coming to stand at his side, and slowly taking up the rock that he patted at the side of him.
“What is your name?” He asked her, liking her at once. He had not encountered many girls in his lifetime, and to him, she was the first and last most beautiful girl on earth.
“Lauren.” she rasped, dismayed by her own inability to stop the word coming out as a croak.
He smiled, and Lauren felt her heart constrict in her breast, Lord but he was gorgeous, those eyes, that hair, that smile, she thought, as wave after wave of desire washed over her entire being.
“Are you on holiday here?” He asked her.
Lauren’s voice had vanished, she nodded, her large grey eyes nervous and wide.
“Please don’t be afraid,” he told her, “Relax, I’m not going to bite you.”
Immediately, the absurd humoured Lauren, and she laughed.
“That’s better,” he told her, “So how long are you here for?”
Lauren shrugged, “My father is on business here, I never know how long he will take.”
Silence followed, as he thought of something else to say.
Her presence made him feel funny, and there was a sensation with her that he had never had with anyone else. He frowned, she noticed, “What is it?” she asked.
“Can you not feel it?” He asked, drawing his brows together.
“I dunno, some kind of magic, does that make sense to you. I feel as if I know you.” He hesitated, “No, its not that, its more than that, I feel....” He laughed nervously, “this is gonna sound so stupid... and I can’t believe I am actually gonna say this...but...”
Pursing his lips into a thin line, he looked at her, really looked, and into those beautiful grey eyes he was lost, as mesmerised by her, she heard him whisper with wonder in his voice, “I feel as though I am a part of you.”
“A part of me?” Lauren sounded incredulous.
“Yes can you not feel it?” He shook his head with disbelief.
“I think you’ve been reading too many books.”
He laughed, nervously, shaking his head, “No it’s not that. Its more like you are inside me...look.. For instance, I know what you are feeling.”
“I don’t think I should say.” Suddenly he stood up, letting the book fall to the ground, landing haphazardly over a rock half open, half closed. He stooped to pick it up. “This is my most favourite story, have you ever read it?” He held the title up for her to see.
Lauren shook her head, “Can’t say I have. I don’t get time for reading. I prefer exploring.”
“Is that why you have come here day after day to this place?”
“You know about that!”
“Isn’t it?” He shook his head, “I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before. But I knew from the first day that you came by. I sensed your presence. I couldn’t see you of course, because you were further away.”
“Where? Okay clever clogs, tell me exactly where, and I might just believe you?”
He laughed down at her, his blue eyes crinkling at the corners, and Lauren didn’t care much if he did know for certain or not, all she knew was that from this day forth she never wanted to be apart from him again.
“Just over there, see it, there is a Jasmine bush, its a wonder you weren’t knocked out by the scent, it is very heady.”
“How do you know?”
“You haven’t answered my question, Lauren?”
“Yes, I was there, but how do you know how heady the fragrance is? Are your powers so good that you can smell it from here?”
He laughed, “No. When you had left, I went over there, lay down for a while. I imagined what it must have felt like for you, watching me from that vantage point.”
Lauren felt a ripple of excitement and fear rush through her. This guy was weird, no matter how gorgeous he was.
“I am not weird...maybe a little unusual...but never weird.” He told her.
And so did he. “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I don’t know how that happened. Suddenly I heard your thoughts in my head. Perhaps you’re right to use the word, though not directed at me. This whole situation is weird.”
“Its never happened to you before?”
“Not even with your father.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because connections with a family member are usually much stronger.”
“Oh...No never with him. Sometimes I even have doubts that he is my father.”
“Just the way he is. Cold, ruthless, not a bit like me at all.”
“Perhaps you inherited your gift from your mother, what is she like?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never met her. My father won’t ever talk about her.”
“Why ever not?”
“Dunno. Whenever I have asked him, he changes the subject. I get the feeling he never loved her at all. In fact, if I ever found he loved anyone, I’d be surprised.”
“Surely not! He must love you!”
“I don’t think so, at least he has never given me that impression. It’s almost as if we have no ties at all. Sometimes I feel like more like a house guest than his son.”
“You can’t mean that!”
“But I do. Have you ever seen him?”
“Not that I am aware of. He’s the guy my father is here on business to see. Dad has described him to me, but I don’t know his name. Actually dad doesn’t even know his name come to that.”
“That’s the way he likes it. And I’m not about to tell you. I’m afraid my father, for reasons known unto himself, feels that if anyone should ever discover his name, they must die for the privilege.”
“For real?” Lauren stared at him with disbelief.
“That’s terrible, what is he some kind of member of the Mafia?”
“I try not to think too much about what he does. He certainly has a lot of businesses, and he is very wealthy.”
“Why are you telling me all these things?” Lauren shook her head, “You don’t even know me, and hey, I don’t even know your name.”
“I’m sorry, where are my manners. My name is Julian, and as to your other question, I don’t really know the answer to that, except it doesn’t seem that you are a stranger, its more like I have known you for years. I can’t believe you don’t feel it too.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t.”
“Then you do feel something?”
“Perhaps, I don’t know. I have the most unusual feeling when I look at you....” She laughed shakily, “but I think it is because I find you so attractive.”
Julian looked as though he was about to choke, his eyes lit up with laughter. “Now that is the funniest thing I have ever heard. And something I find very hard to believe, and yet...for the strangest of reasons, I know that you mean it.”
Lauren smiled at him, sheepishly, slightly inclining her head so that he could not see into her eyes. Maybe that was it, the eyes were the window to the soul, perhaps some way he could very cleverly read eyes, but then how did he know she was sat beneath the Jasmine bush on that first day?
“I’m not going to tell you I know what you are thinking, but I do know, and you’re right, the fact of the Jasmine bush does kinda throw that theory out of the window doesn’t it?” Julian laughed at her, nervously, testing the atmosphere.
Lauren shook her head, “I suppose I should run to the hills and never come back. Cast you aside as a weirdo, but something tells me that what we have here is bigger than the both of us, and besides, you will probably know where to find me anyway, wherever I go.”
Julian nodded, his blue eyes sparkling, “I believe I would. So what are we to do about this...this...I dunno what would you call it...a connection?”
“A gift, I guess, though perhaps stronger than that, it really is weird Julian, but pleasant too, in a funny kind of way.”
“Mmm, just what I was thinking, almost as if all of my life I have only been half a person, and you’re coming into my life was meant to be, as if you are the other half of myself and I was meant to find you.”
“My father told me to be aware of weird chat up lines, boy, would he be amazed at this one.”
Julian contrived to look hurt, “Its not a chat up line.”
“I know that, somehow I believe you, don’t know how, perhaps a little of your gift is rubbing off on me now.”
“Or perhaps you are tuning in to me. Perhaps we are fighting against a destiny here. Lauren, do you believe in fate?”
“Nope, never have and never will, but this...” She shook her head, “It really is weird.”
“Perhaps it is, but we can’t go around speaking of this weird thing between us, surely it needs a name.”
“Then we’ll call it our connection. Like a telephone line, without the need to dial a number.” Lauren laughed.
“Now you are humouring me.”
“Sorry.” Lauren thought about it seriously for a few minutes, seeing that she had hurt his feelings, he was deadly serious about this thing between them. “A bond then...a bond which is unbreakable...something that transcends time, space, places, miles...Do you think it would do that?”
“Do you think we would be able to feel one another if there were miles between us?”
Julian shook his head, “Dunno, I don’t want to try it though.”
“Why do you do that?”
“Why do you speak so well, and then suddenly slip into street talk, saying Dunno, and things like that?”
Julian smiled, “Glad you noticed, I hadn’t realised that it slipped out so easily now.” He laughed, “Would you believe I do it to annoy my father?”
Lauren’s grey eyes crinkled at the corners with laughter, “Yes I would.” She laughed.
“He’s such a...oh what can I say...unless you know him... It’s hard to put a name to what he is...”
“I heard he is dangerous, sinister, wicked.”
“Oh yes he’s all of those things, and more besides, believe me you don’t ever want to cross him.”
“Yet he lets you get away with it.”
“Huh only because I’m useful to him. Makes me wonder if one day when I have outlived my uses, if he will do away with me too.”
“You don’t mean that!” Lauren exclaimed.
“Oh yes I do. That’s one of the reasons I try to keep out of his way so much.” Julian started to chuckle, “And one of the reasons I try to antagonise him too. Almost goading him if you like. Boy does he get mad with me. If nothing else, if he does one day bop me on the head, he will never forget me that’s for sure.”
“He likes you to talk proper then does he?”
“Oh yes, absolutely. Yet, for all my private schooling...” Julian went on, plum in cheek, making Lauren laugh, “he makes me grow my hair long so that it frames my face like a lion’s mane. I ask you, is he crazy or what?”
“Is that why you keep it short, it does kinda stick up all over the place?”
“My hair has a mind of its own, just like me, and cutting it really gets up my father’s nose. I love it.”
“Boy he must hate you.” Lauren laughed.
“Never a truer word spoken in jest.” Julian spoke seriously now, his voice low.
Lauren fell silent watching the expressions chase across his face, sorrow, and was that bitterness too, that she detected there, just for a moment?
“Hey, have you been lonely?” She asked him gently.
“Loneliness is my buddy.” Julian told her. “But there is comfort in aloneness Lauren, peace, solitude, being at one with nature, and sometimes, I don’t know what it is, but its almost as if there is someone out there connected to me. Thinking about me.”
“It was probably me.”
Julian shook his head, “It may have been, but even now, with you beside me, I can’t shake off the feeling that somewhere out there, someone is calling to me.”
“You get stranger and stranger by the minute you know that....” Lauren laughed, “Nonetheless Julian, don’t take that the wrong way, for all your strangeness, I don’t think I have ever felt so attuned to anyone in my life. I like you Julian, no, more than that...Does that make sense to you?”
“Now who’s being the weirdo?” Julian laughed out loud.
“See, it’s just as I told you Lauren, what I feel is rubbing off on you.”
“Perhaps I was a late starter, yet I think it goes deeper than that. I get the feeling that its as you said earlier, two sides of a whole, and all that. What we have here is very special, you know that?”
“Yes, and I particularly like your use of the word Bond. That’s exceptional. I like it. That’s what we’ll call it shall we?”
Lauren nodded, watching him closely, “You know, you don’t seem like a Julian to me?”
“What funny things you say. Why not?”
“It doesn’t suit the type of person that you are.”
“No doubt when my father named me, he’d hoped for greater things. I’m a disappointment to him, though not to myself. Sometimes I think I have more brains than he has. Everything to him, is so black and white. Tell me then, who do you think I should be?”
“Oh I don’t know...what about me, do I look like a Lauren?”
“You act like one.”
Lauren drew her brows together, “How do you mean?”
Julian laughed heartily, “Why Lauren and Hardy of course!”
“So, its close, and you are a real comic you know that?”
“You don’t know the half of it!”
“Oh yes I do, I bet you are a right little imp when you set your mind to it, it fact I don’t bet it I....”
“I know, don’t tell me, you know it.” Lauren groaned.
Julian smiled, “I don’t like to say I told you so.”
“But you will anyway.” They laughed together, then when the laughter had faded, a silence settled between them, not an uneasy silence, but a silence borne of companionship, that both of them delighted in.
“I guess I had best be off.” Lauren said at last, “My father will be about wrapped up with your father by now, and sending out the search parties.”
“Well at least he won’t be sending them here, this area is private.”
“Don’t you believe it, my father knows me well.”
Julian laughed, “Nonetheless, I don’t fancy his chances getting through my father’s security system.”
“I did.” Lauren giggled, remembering how she had to wriggle beneath the fence, “A determined one always finds a way.” She laughed out loud.
“Will you come tomorrow?”
“I hope that I can, will you be here?”
“Wild horses wouldn’t stop me.”
“But a drug baron might.”
Julian frowned, “Hey, you be careful who you say that to, if my father hears you say such things, he’ll have you terminated.”
“I thought you were just joking about that, you really do believe that about him, don’t you?”
“I know it. I’ve seen it. Believe me Lauren, my father is one very dangerous man. And I don’t want anything to happen to you, ever, not now that I have found you, not even before. I get the distinct impression sometimes that my father hopes that I will protect him from foes, and do all his dirty work.”
“You, why you?”
“I’m stronger than most.”
“So, what’s that to do with it?”
“Hey, I don’t know, but father seems to think I have super powers.” Julian spoke the latter in a deep voice, making Lauren laugh out loud again. “And once I saw a picture of this... This... thing...”
“Well that’s the only way to describe it, Father keeps pictures of it locked up in his desk drawer, wherever we go he takes the pictures with him, and looking at it, I can see my likeness to it. I think that’s why father harbours those dreams. You know making me grow my hair long, so that I look like his ‘super hero’ sending me to martial art classes to enhance my physical strength.” Julian spoke deeply again as he went on, “There is power in these muscles,” before bursting into laughter once again. “God, Lauren if I didn’t make a joke of the life I live with him, I think his madness would crack me up.”
“So who was this super hero of his?”
“That I do not know. Though I got the feeling at the time that I’d seen someone like him before, though not looking so ferocious. And my father isn’t even aware that I’ve seen the pictures, so I dare not ask him. As brave as I am around him, there are some rules I would not over-ride. He’s a mean one Lauren. I wouldn’t really like to take him too far. I like life too much.” Julian added happily.
“Well, “ Lauren looked at her watch, sighing, “I guess I had better get going, its been nice meeting you Julian.”
“Educational.” His eyes creased into a smile.
“I feel as though I should kiss you goodbye or something,” Lauren swallowed nervously, amazed to hear herself say it.
“Well don’t mind me.” Julian told her, with humour in his voice.
Leaning forwards, Lauren placed the briefest of kisses upon his lips. The contact was electrifying!
Eyes open wide with shock, both stared at one another, “You feel that!” Lauren exclaimed.
Julian could only nod, dumbfounded, his blue eyes open wide, stunned.
Lauren shook her head, there was no more room for words nothing could have convinced her more. The strength of the impact hit her whole. She had come home. She didn’t know how or why, but suddenly being in his arms was the only thing important right now, and that his arms came up and encircled her body only served to emphasise to her how in tune they were, how really he knew her mind. Standing there
within the circle of his arms Lauren could have fainted when she heard him whisper, “Lauren, do you believe in love at first sight?”
“Not until now.” She told him, breathlessly.
And then it was the most natural thing in the world to have his lips on hers, deep, demanding, sensuous and extremely passionate, and Lauren felt herself drowning, drowning, into the depths of a desire so fathom-less, that she never wanted to rise out of it again.
*** *** ***
Waking the following morning, Lauren remembered and groaned. What on earth had possessed her!
“I don’t believe I did that!” She spoke out loud, grabbing a handful of duvet and pulling it over her head in an attempt to hide her shame.
“Dad would have a fit if ever he knew.” She told herself. “Talk about chat up line. A warning against that was bad enough, but this!”
Groaning Lauren hauled herself from the bed, going to sit at her dressing table, to scrutinise herself in the mirror. Her eyes large and dark rimmed told of her sleepless night, the dreams that had disturbed her, as clarity had stolen into her mind, and reminded her of her foolishness.
“I bet he won’t even be there today. I bet if I go there, he will keep away. In fact, Lauren,” she reproached herself, “I bet you will never see him again. Bond indeed! A clever master of illusion, that’s what he was, far cleverer than she, and yet, and yet....” Lauren drew her brows together, she had felt it, that certain something... Slowly realisation dawned, “Attraction!” She said out loud, “that’s all it was you stupid girl, attraction, and you fell for it, hook, line and sinker.”
Holding her head in her hands, Lauren felt the hot tears scald her fingers, before she knew she were crying, “And what if I’m pregnant... Oh God...no.... not that, please... I’m only fourteen!”
She could hear her father now, his ranting and raving, she supposed he’d force her to have an abortion, and could she do that?
Either way it would ruin her life, that she did know.
Picking up a hair brush, she ran it through her blonde hair slowly, remembering with joy the feel of Julian’s fingers sliding through the silken folds only the day before. How she had delighted in the feel of his hands as they caressed her body with such love and tenderness, and the warm breath from his kisses that fanned the coolness of her skin as they lay beneath the breeze from the waterfall, and his eyes, those eyes! Vibrant filled with fire, a blue so deep she felt she would drown in the love from his eyes alone. That beautiful feel of his body soft like velvet with a rich downy covering of golden hair. Lauren shuddered at the remembrance of its silkiness beneath her gliding fingertips and how she had wanted never to stop touching him.
And though he’d assured her that he had never been so intimate with anyone before in all of his life, he seemed to know everything that she needed, every want, every desire, he had fulfilled them. Gloriously. Lauren felt a ripple of fresh desire invade her thoughts, a ripple that infused her body with love as she thought of those intense blue eyes filled with desire and love for her. She couldn’t have been mistaken, he couldn’t have been that good an impostor, he did love her, she was sure of it, wasn’t she?
Perhaps he did love her, then.
Perhaps now, when he had got what he had wanted, he would find her cheap, easy, and would never want another thing to do with her, even if she were to see him again.
Lauren had to know, had to go there, had to be sure. These thoughts were driving her insane. And she had to know, had to be assured that he would always be there for her, especially... No! She didn’t want to think of that...she couldn’t be pregnant, she just couldn’t...she was far too young.
Relieved somewhat, Lauren dressed in a hurry, slipping out of the villa, grabbing an apple for breakfast as she passed through the kitchen. Her father was still sleeping, or else he was already out, the villa was silent, nothing stirred, and Lauren was soon stuffing her feet into her sneakers, to run full pelt towards the private side of the island.
*** *** ***
“Julian I’d like you to stay home today. I have someone coming over whom I should like you to meet.” Gabriel’s intense dark eyes surveyed his son, as he had picked up an armload of books intent on going to his usual place to read.
“Who?” Julian asked, not a bit interested. His father was always showing him off to someone, he was well used to it.
“You don’t know her.”
“Your girlfriend?” Julian asked uninterested.
“Don’t be insolent! And no, she is not my girlfriend. I do not have girlfriends.”
“Then perhaps you should.” Julian continued to bend to tie up his shoes, intent on doing his own thing anyway. “It might make you human.”
Gabriel was furious, “I said you are not to go out today! Am I to lock you in your room?”
Julian glared at Gabriel, “I’d like to see you try it,” he challenged, noticing Gabriel wince. Triumphant, he turned the door handle, “I’ll be back in a couple of hours, will she be here by then?”
Gabriel looked as though he might blow a gasket, and Julian tried hard to keep his face straight. Boy was his father mad or what?
“Julian! This is important, you will be here!” Gabriel stormed, reaching out a hand to grasp the boy’s arm. Julian shook him off, his eyes glinting malice, “Don’t you dare touch me like that again.” Bold now, the first show of fear upon Gabriel’s face encouraged him, and Julian shook off the arm that held him, yet the fury he had expected from his father did not come.
Instead Gabriel was jubilant. Never before had he seen such ferocity in his son’s eyes. “That’s the first time, the first time!” He cried joyous, “So what’s so important about today?” His tone relaxed hoping to pacify his son.
“Nothing.” Perplexed, Julian was guarded, and Gabriel knew it.
“Then you will stay until my guest arrives. And then you can take her down to the waterfall if you like.” Gabriel told him, a hint of something in his tone that Julian did not like to analyse, “What are you up to?” he asked Gabriel.
“My business is of no account of yours.” Gabriel challenged, hoping to see the blue eyes spark again. For the first time in fifteen years, there had been the air of the beast about him.
“Then neither is mine to you!” Julian retorted, making to leave once again.
“Oh but it is, I am your father!” Gabriel sneered.
“In word only.”
“What do you mean? What do you know!” Gabriel flared.
Julian turned intense blue eyes to him, “What’s that supposed to mean, what should I know?”
A shiver passed right through Gabriel, for despite the fact that he had said too much, it had had the required affect. Julian‘s piercing blue eyes were looking at him so deeply, as if to penetrate his soul, that Gabriel shuddered with excitement.
“Nothing, there is nothing to know. I am your father! And you will obey me!”
“Or what old man?” Julian flared. There was something about the way Gabriel had insisted on his parenthood, that unnerved the boy. A spark flared and died at the back of his mind, a sudden flash of memory...too weak to grasp, but perturbing him nonetheless.
Gabriel did not reply, just stood chest heaving, expectant, waiting... For what? Suddenly the fight drained out of Julian, he didn’t want this, he didn’t want to challenge this man, he had no time for playing games with him, Lauren was waiting, he could feel her unrest, and knew she was anxious to see him.
“I’ll be here. Don’t worry. For now there is something I must do. What time is this woman arriving?”
Gabriel shrugged, the fight had gone out of his son, he could see that, but for now the mere fact that he had brought it out pleased him, he glorified in it, and at that moment he could deny Julian nothing. “Lunch time.” He told him, “Be back by lunch time.”
Julian nodded, then turning walked away from the man he knew to be his father, watched by cold eyes that had shown their first hint of misguided warmth as almost fifteen years of dreaming had started to become reality.
*** *** ***
“I thought I must have dreamed it.” Julian told Lauren, coming towards her, his arms outstretched, “That I’d come here today and find myself alone.”
“And I thought I would never see you again, that you were a con man, and you would think me easy.”
“You really thought that?” Julian felt hurt.
“Yes, I’m sorry, but when I woke to the cold light of day, what we did yesterday was frightening Julian.”
“Not at the time though, huh?” Julian bent his head and brushed soft kisses, over her flushed cheeks, “I love you Lauren, I would never leave you.”
“Never? But how, sometime, if not sooner, then surely later, my father is going to whisk me back off to America, and I may never see you again.” Lauren sobbed. “Julian we have to face facts. Yesterday may have been real, but it was still a dream, and I might be left with the consequences to face alone.”
“Yes, what if I’m pregnant Julian?”
Julian gasped, “I’m sorry, I never thought of that...” Julian shook his head, his heart aching, “We must be more careful in future, just in case you got away with it before.”
“Hey if you think I am going to keep my hands off you now, you have another think coming.” Julian laughed, but Lauren remained serious, “You are laughing at me.”
“No Lauren.” Sorrow touched Julian’s heart, “Trying to make light of the situation, yes, but not laughing at you. I will be here for you, always, always. You hear me? Not time, nor space, nor distance will keep me from you. Where you go, I go, I promise. I promise.”
“Easier said than done though. I think my father would kinda notice if you were sat on board his plane with us.” Lauren joked, still within the circle of his arms.
“Yes, I admit it will be difficult, but my father’s brother keeps talking about carting me off to New York, he has some misguided notion that I will tow the line if he does, I always show him different though.” Briefly Julian thought back to what had happened earlier, the showdown with his father.
“New York! But that’s where I live. Oh Julian don’t you see....” Lauren’s heart raced, “If you could only make your father believe that you would become the son he has hoped in, he might take you there, and we can be together.”
“You’ve got that wrong, my father would only take me there, if I showed I had no intention of being the son he hoped in. My uncle, well he has a notion that the city will make me harder.”
“Then let him believe that. Play on it Julian, make out its the last place on earth you would want to go, play him at his own game. He’ll pack you off there so fast your feet won’t touch the floor, trust me.” Lauren’s eyes were bright with joy, as she tried hard to convince him of these things.
“It might work. For the moment, he has some other plan up his sleeve. There’s this woman he wants me to meet later on today. I must say he’s being unusually persuasive about it. Not like him at all. I got the impression this meeting is really important to him, makes me almost want to not turn up. Boy, would that incense him. Ha!” Julian laughed.
Lauren shook his head, “It’s a wonder you don’t keep a book to write down points in. You know, one point to Julian, one point to father and all that.”
“I keep a mental note of it, though I do keep a book, a journal actually, in which I write everything down.”
“Everything? Have you written in it about us?”
“Not yet, haven’t had the time, but I will do.”
“Is that wise?”
“Its all right, he wont find it, he wouldn’t even know where to look, even if he did know what he was looking for.” Julian told her. He felt her relax, “don’t know what he would say if he knew about us, I wouldn’t like to think on it.”
“So how do you propose that we get together, for the future I mean?”
“I’d leave him, find someplace, where he could never find me, rich as he is, a place he would never think of looking.”
“And where can you find such a place. I wish I knew?”
“Come sit with me, let me tell you something.” Julian pulled her down to the ground, his arm still around her, quite close to where they had lain to make love the day before. A shiver ran through Lauren as she noticed the place, and Julian smiled.
“What should you tell me?” She asked softly.
“That I love you, that your eyes are the most gorgeous I have ever seen, that I want to lie you down in that hollow just there, and make love to you again.” Julian’s eyes were on fire for her, and Lauren felt swamped by his desire.
“Later” She trembled, “Tell me what you were going to say?”
Julian frowned, “What...oh yes that...” Remembering, “I don’t know what it is Lauren...but somehow, some way, I know there is a place... A place where my father would never find me, a safe place...”
“Do you know where to find it?”
Julian shook his head. “Sometimes I see flashes of it. The waterfall reminds me, or, or, the fountains, the ones around the courtyard of my home. Here on the island, when I stand by them, for moments I am transported to a place. I see people, they are shadowed, I cannot detect their faces, but I feel their happiness and their sorrow too. I feel a part of them...like they are family. Yes that’s the word, family. I have never known what it is to feel that kind of belonging with my father.”
“Do you think that this place is real, or only in your dreams?”
“I believe it is real. I have dreams. In those dreams, I know that I see everything so clearly, but on waking, I cannot grasp enough of it back to know what it is I saw. But the feelings stay with me, they are poignant to me. I have a yearning to seek out this place, and I am certain it exists.”
“Where do you come from Julian? Here? You have an unusual accent.”
“I was brought up and educated in London, Britain. We moved to the island about six years ago. Though father has taken me around the world, they were only vacations. I only know Britain and this island, and that’s the strangest thing...”
“This place, this place of my dreams, it is not here, and it is not in London, don’t ask me how I know that, but I do. And another thing, whenever I see yellow, or lilac, the colours of Spring, I am reminded of grass. Can you believe that! Grass. Yet when I try to go beyond it, I can only capture space, like I am standing in a large area covered with grass, save for these colours, yellow and lilac.”
Lauren watched Julian’s face, he seemed far away, and she was afraid to speak, glad that she hadn’t when he went on, “The first time I saw one of those pictures in my father’s drawer, you know the one I spoke of yesterday?” Lauren nodded, “it was funny, like I wasn’t afraid, he was weird true, scary in a way, but I was intrigued, and more to it than that, a feeling it gave me, it sent a shiver down my spine, like, like....” Julian shook his head. “Like I knew him. Does that make sense to you?”
Lauren shook her head “Such a person could not be real Julian. He must be a fabrication, someone in drag maybe.”
“That’s what I always thought. Yet for a time, I dug around a little, television shows and the like, tried to find from where my father had gotten those pictures, but I came up with zilch, nothing. Like he didn’t exist, but I know he does, Lauren, that’s the strangest thing, I know that he does. And you know Lauren, this place, this place of my dreams, he fits in there somehow... I just can’t explain it.” He shook his head, “but I know that its real.”
Lauren held him tightly, stroking her fingernails down the contours of his back beneath his T-shirt, and Julian shuddered with longing. “I haven’t anything on me Lauren to make it any safer for you, but God I want you.”
“And I have nothing either Julian, but if we are to be together always, then what does it matter?” Lauren told him, her eyes filled with love.
“Are you sure?”
“Even if it turns out that we may have to be apart until we can find a way to be together?”
“Yes even that.”
“This place...this place of my dreams, if its real... It’s a safe place... I feel it in my bones. Find it Lauren, if you need sanctuary... find it, I know you’ll be happy there.”
“I can only be happy where you are Julian, and this place may not exist.”
“It does, I’m certain of it... And Lauren... If we... should be forced apart... I’ll find you...you know that...wherever you are... We are connected, we have a bond and I’ll find you.”
“You make it sound as if this place you are searching for is in New York, and that I will find it first, and in so doing I will guide you there. But that’s absurd Julian.” Lauren’s eyes were wide with humour, but Julian was searching her eyes, his serious, and slowly it dawned on her, “That’s what you do believe isn’t it?” She asked tenderly, “And my faith in that, the belief that is so strong, is coming through you to me?”
Julian nodded, “Don’t ask me how, for I don’t know, but Lauren it is the truth... Find it Lauren... Find that place...and in so doing... You will lead me home.”
Lauren nodded, as a strange calmness shrouded them both, a feeling of rapture, yet somehow peaceable, a truth, and Lauren found she did not disbelieve any more.
*** *** ***
"Will you just look at that! Vincent, just look at what your son has done this time!" Catherine shouted holding up a tea stained book for her husband to see.
“So he’s my son now is he, how is it that when he is being good, he’s your son, but when he’s doing something he ought not, he’s my son?” Vincent’s blue eyes gazed down with laughter into those of his wife.
Catherine exhaled a deep exasperated sigh, that tousled the fringe of her hair, “It’s not that way at all” she told her husband, indignant.
“Is it not?” Catherine knew he was laughing at her, but she refused to be goaded, this time. “He is such a...a...”
“Rascal?” Father intervened, looking up from his chair.
“Who rattled your cage... I thought you were sleeping.” Catherine fumed.
“Touchy!” Father exclaimed, laughter crinkling his eyes, “I well know how you feel though, and you are right my dear, he is his father’s son. I well remember Vincent being just the same at Joseph’s age.”
Catherine’s face softened, her eyes shining with humour, “Its good to know I have an ally Father, sometimes when it comes to Joseph, I don’t feel that anyone is on my side at all.”
“The boy isn’t a nuisance though Catherine, maybe you are a little hard on him.” the affection shining from Father’s kindly eyes tried to take the edge off his words, for it seemed to him, that no matter what Joseph did just lately, Catherine would find fault with it, and the fact that he had stood a hot cup of tea upon her favourite book this day was no exception.
“Its not that way at all Father, and you know it. Books are precious, they are passed from person to person, look at those tea stains, why it is impossible to read what is beneath it now.” Catherine fumed. “Why’d you do it Joseph, you know to put your cup onto a coaster.”
“I couldn’t reach it mom, and you are always telling me not to stand a hot cup on polished wood.”
“Lost the use of your legs now have we, something else for me to moan about I suppose?” she asked him tartily.
“I was in bed at the time!” Joseph snapped. Crystal brought me the tea to my bedside, it was hot, I couldn’t reach a coaster, so I put it onto the book.”
“Then why not shut the book first, huh? Answer me that, why slop tea all over the pages?”
Joseph glared at her, “I’m sorry, what more can I say?”
“Nothing, there is nothing you can say, you should have got up at once, wiped the pages clean at once, now it is dry, it is too late.” Catherine ranted at her son.
Father glanced across at Vincent, who shrugged his shoulders, whatever was up with Catherine this day he did not know, she was often getting on to Joseph, that was true, but today, it was over such a little thing, and they had hundreds of books, many times more than one copy of anything, and this one was no exception.
Father hobbled from his chair, to pick up the edition from the table, “I’m sure we can salvage something from the wreckage my dear,” he twisted the book over and over in his hands, “This is rather an old copy after all, well used, and tatty, probably time it were thrown away actually.” He hoped to pacify his daughter-in-law.
“No!”, Catherine reached for the book, and Father detected tears in her eyes, “Its important to me. And that’s beside the point, Joseph should have known better.”
Vincent left his position by the vestibule, where he had been sorting books, to descend the stairs and comfort his wife, putting his arms around her, “What is it Catherine? He asked her tenderly, “What troubles you so?”
Catherine melted into his embrace, her head hammering, her heart in tatters, as a sob twitched the corners of her mouth, “Its your book Vincent, the one you first read to me, Great Expectations, its precious to me.”
Vincent understood then, but it in no way made up for his wife’s viciousness toward their son. “No, it is more than that, Catherine, the book may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but you have been like this for some weeks now, tell me what grieves you so?”
Catherine shook her head, her eyes bright with unshed tears, “I don’t know”, she whimpered, and Vincent was relieved to find that at least she had not denied it.
“Come my love, let us go and sit by the fountains. It is a long time since we did, and a long time since we have made the time for talking.” Turning Catherine towards the entranceway, he guided her willing body towards the stairs, “Father, keep an eye on Crystal and Joseph will you, see that world war three doesn’t break out in my absence.” he laughed as did Father, while Joseph scrowled, “My sister will only get what’s coming to her.”
“Really, Joseph, say that again, and I won’t just bring you tea in bed again, I’ll pour it over your head.” Crystal retorted.
“Teenagers! Who’d have them?” Father rolled his eyes, preparing for a sparring match in Vincent and Catherine’s absence, “So whose for a game of chess then?” he asked to an empty room, “Where’d they go?” he asked to the air, chuckling softly, so much for watching over the children!
Leading Catherine down to the fountains, Vincent was concerned. True, there hadn’t been much time for talking lately, but he and Catherine had remained close and loving, yet, Vincent knew that something troubled Catherine, and had done for some time now, and he wasn’t about to let her continue to shoulder it alone any longer.
“Now tell me?” he told her softly, sitting her upon his knee when they had arrived at their favourite place.
Catherine sighed. It had been too long since she had come here, the fountains always had a soothing effect on her, “I should have come here sooner.” she told Vincent closing her eyes to the tremor of peace that being there gave to her.
“We should have come here sooner. We are a team Catherine. You should never have to suffer alone. And you have. These past few weeks, you have suffered, now tell me, what’s troubling you so?”
Catherine leaned her head against Vincent’s shoulder, “I didn’t want to worry you.” she murmured softly, taking a breath, and swallowing it again, without speaking further. Vincent could sense she was having difficulty telling him, and he felt a knot of fear inside her.
For Catherine, having the chance to share her troubles, was a relief and an anxiety all at once, yet she did not know how to go on, without at least confiding in someone, and Vincent was the obvious choice, he knew her too well, it would be cruel to tell another and leave him out of the equation.
“Vincent?” her voice deep with emotion, and a slight tremor to it, had him holding her tighter, as he replied, “Yes my Catherine?”
“Did I ever tell you why my mother had died?”
Vincent felt a shiver run up his spine, “No.”
“She had cancer Vincent.”
Involuntary Vincent’s arms tightened around his love, as Catherine went on “And sometimes Vincent cancer can be hereditary.”
Turning her to face him, Vincent saw his fear mirrored in her eyes, as he asked softly, “and you are afraid that it may be passed on to you?” he whispered.
“Vincent, its more than that...give me your hand.” Vincent held his left hand out to her, watching as she placed it inside her blouse, round to the side of her breast, deep into her arm pit, “Can you feel it Vincent?” Catherine swallowed hard, closing her eyes, almost hoping he would say ‘No I feel nothing’ and the relief that would bring, to know it had been her imagination after all. Yet looking into those eyes she saw not humour, but horror. Horror as the realisation of what she was telling him, coupled with the feel of the lump beneath his fingers deep within her breast, told them both that her fear was real, that she hadn’t imagined it at all!
“You must tell someone Catherine!” tears swam before Vincent’s eyes as the enormity of the situation confronted him, “I won’t lose you, I will not!” great sobs tore from him then, shaking, rasping sobs, clinging to her body tight in his arms, never wanting to let her go.
“I’m frightened Vincent.” Catherine whimpered, crying along with him, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to be without you ever, or have you live without me. Why me Vincent, that’s what I keep on asking myself, why me, why us?”
Vincent drew back a sob that threatened to choke him, “You’re a survivor Catherine, you always have been, and you are to fight this thing, I’ll help you, you know that, we’ll fight it together, you and me, and Father and Peter, we’ll fight it Catherine, I won’t let it take you, I won’t.” he sobbed again, holding her tighter against his chest, his lips brushing her hair, infusing his love into her via their Bond, calming her, strengthening her, as she knew only he could.
“Yes.” Catherine sniffed, more optimistic than she had felt in a long time, “We’ll fight it Vincent, together. It will not beat me, like it beat my mother. It will not! I promise you Vincent. I promise you.”
*** *** ***
Gabriel looked out of the window from his office, his mouth a thin straight line, his chest rising and falling as his temper flared. “He said he’d be here!” he stormed, “I know there has never been any love lost between us, but he has seldom disobeyed a command such as this.”
Thinking back to his son’s earlier behaviour, Gabriel could only wonder at what may have changed him almost overnight it would seem.
“Did you want me to go look for him?” Snow ventured, uneasily, his brother’s fury disturbed even him, it had been a long time since he had seen him so angry.
Gabriel nodded, not trusting himself to speak, turning from the window, to stride to his desk, unlocking a drawer, while Snow hesitated, unsure whether he had been dismissed or not. Gabriel looked up, flinging a bundle of papers from his desk drawer, “For this!” he raged, “An illusion. All for this! Arh!!!!” Swiping his arm across the desk, six or seven photographs depicting the beast were swept across the room, “I despair that it will ever come to pass!” he fumed.
“I’ll fetch the boy shall I?” Snow asked nervously.
Gabriel didn’t seem to hear, collecting the photographs, he bundled them up carelessly, and with a flick of his lighter, set the flame to one corner. Snow watched mesmerised, “You sure you want to do that?”
“If I have nothing to compare my son, I shall no longer be disappointed in what I get from him.” Gabriel told him coldly, “Now go bring him to me.”
Waiting one or two minutes Snow continued to watch as the corners of the photographs curled inwards with the flame, watching until Gabriel shook them from his fingers into the ashtray upon his desk, watching the remainder of the photographs become ashes just as his dreams had done.
Snow turned from the room, he didn’t think he would ever get over his brothers’ latest outburst, surely if Julian didn’t tow the line sooner rather than later, he too would become mere ashes.
*** *** ***
Lauren stretched lazily, the hum of bees was close by, and the sound of frogs somewhere to her right made her smile. She would remember these past two days for all of her life, being here, in this paradise with the boy that she loved.
Flicking a lock of hair back off of his forehead, Lauren smiled at the unruly way that it grew, and Julian murmured sleepily, the sun felt good on his naked back, drying the sweat from his passion.
“I love you Julian.” Lauren told him, “but I really must be going soon. Shall I see you tomorrow?”
Struggling to wake from his dreams, Julian searched her eyes, “I love you too, and yes please come, in fact come every day that you are here, and if one day you do not come, I will know that your father has chosen that day to take you home, so do not fret my love, do not grieve that we did not say goodbye, for there are no goodbyes between us, and I promise you Lauren, come what may, I will find you.”
Sadly Lauren searched his eyes, “I wish you wouldn’t speak so tragically Julian, at least I wish you didn’t feel that you had to do, but I guess in a way I am pleased that you have, as things stand, anything could happen. I will search for your secret place Julian, and I will meet you there. Somehow I’ll find it, I shall know it, because you will be with me.” Reaching forward she kissed him fiercely.
“Know that I love you Lauren” Julian told her as the kiss ended, “And know that we will never be apart, no matter what.”
Dressing, they watched one another often, almost as if they knew, had an inkling that something was about to separate them, and Julian’s next words confirmed it, “Lauren, if ever you come here, and do not find me, promise me that you won’t come up to the house. My father is a dangerous man, he must never know about us. Promise me Lauren.” Julian asked anxiously.
Nodding, Lauren promised, besides from what Julian had told her about his father, he need not worry, she had no desire to meet the man.
“Whatever happens Lauren, whatever comes, our meeting place will be in the place of my dreams, remember that Lauren, if not here, then it will be there, and however long it takes, I will come, I will find you, never stop believing Lauren, I will come for you.”
Wide eyed Lauren nodded.
“And for now, if nothing stops me, or you, I’ll see you tomorrow Lauren, I promise.” Julian hugged her, then watched as she left his arms to make her way back along the track from whence she came, until she had disappeared from view, then sighing, he picked up his books, and made his way sorrowfully back towards his home.
Not many yards down the track, he found Snow striding towards him, and with a quick glance over his shoulder he made sure that Lauren really was out of sight, before greeting his uncle, relieved to find that she was nowhere to be seen, even if he could still feel her eyes upon him.
“Where have you been, your father is furious.” Snow told him.
“I’m not that late.”
“Enough, you know your father. And this meeting is important to him.”
“What’s so different about this woman, Father was evasive, I feel as though I am going to meet my future stepmother or something.”
Snow laughed, “My brother, married, are you joking? Gabriel loves himself so much, there is no room for anyone else.”
Julian looked up at his uncle, really looked, “That’s the first time anyone, has echoed my thoughts on the matter.” He laughed, “Why do you stick with him Uncle, you and he are poles apart?”
“Not so far apart actually Julian. I can’t say my copy book is any cleaner than my brother’s.”
They fell into step alongside one another, heading back towards the house.” “Maybe not, but you have a heart, father does not. And anyone with half a heart has a life to live. Father is preventing you from living yours.”
“So speaks the prophet eh?” Snow laughed, “Look at me Julian, who would have me?”
“Surely there must be someone?” Julian laughed along with him, enjoying this new side of his uncle, a side he had only ever surmised at.
Suddenly he had a feeling about that, “Uncle, are you preparing me for something?”
Snow stopped in his tracks, the boy really was too wise for him, and his albino eyes surveyed the lad keenly, “Your father has an idea Julian, humour him will you. If it suffices for me to say your life depends upon it, will you let it be at that?”
Julian nodded, “Tell me something Uncle, will you?”
“If I can.”
“Huh!” Julian laughed, “You mean if you are allowed, and it doesn’t put your head on the block, don’t worry Uncle I worked out a long time ago, that my father is a dangerous man.” he paused, searching for the words, “tell me, is there a reason for my being here?”
“What a funny thing to say Julian, you live here.”
“I know that, but sometimes I get the impression, that I’m part of some secret plan of my father’s, almost as if I was created for a purpose, and not born at all.”
Snow mused on his words, there was a lot of truth in them, and for the first time since the boy had been kidnapped, Snow wanted to tell him everything.
Instead he told him, “Every father has great plans for his son. All the things he has hoped to do, but never found the time, or got the chance for, he hopes his son will carry it on for him. Your father dreams of building empires Julian, and in you, he hoped to find his stronghold, someone mighty enough who could go in to the front lines.”
“Like a shield?”
Snow nodded, “Yes like a shield. He’s proud of you Julian, of your strength, your power, and he wants you to use that power in protecting him and all he has gained.”
“Had he of shown me any kind of affection at all, that sort of protection would have come naturally Uncle, I would have stood by him, before him, whatever he chose, just because he loved me, but I have never felt that from him, always I have been a stranger in my own home.”
Snow nodded, “My brother does not know how to love, and you have to make allowances for that.”
Julian shook his head, “No, I can’t. And I don’t think I ever will. Uncle, may ask you something else?”
“Will I always have to live here?”
“I thought you liked it here?”
“I do, but there must be more to life than sitting by a waterfall, reading day in day out. I want to do something with my life.” In truth Julian could want for nothing more than to spend his life by a waterfall reading, but it would not get him to where Lauren would be, and he had to make Snow believe that he needed more. If anyone could get his father to take him to New York, Snow could, that Julian did know.
“What would you like to do?”
“What is there? I know nothing, but for martial arts and self defence, which are in the same package really, but even with them, I have nowhere to try out my skills, you hardly jump me at all do you?” Snow laughed, as Julian’s eyes crinkled at the corners, as he went on, “My father is a business man, so let me be a business man, let me follow in his footsteps, take over from him, anything. Uncle, there must be something I can do.”
“And you’d really do that?”
Julian pused his lips together, “I guess so.”
“I don’t think you have the ruthlessness needed to be a business man Julian, at least if you have, I have never seen it.”
Julian dwelt inside himself, thinking hard, “There is something deep inside me Uncle, at times I feel it bubbling forth, trying to choke the life out of me, I can’t explain it, but its almost as if a have this...this...thing...inside of me, bursting to get out.”
Snow nodded, this he did understand, even if Julian didn't.
“And what if you should let it out, what kind of person would that make you?”
“I wouldn’t like to dwell on it Uncle, it terrifies me.”
“This is probably the side of you that your father would like to see, the side that would tear a person from limb to limb in his defence.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I know so.”
Julian drew in a deep breath and let it out more slowly, they had almost reached the house, “If I thought he would love me more, no if he would love me at all, I would be anything he wanted.”
“Perhaps you should tell him that.”
“He shouldn’t need to be told.”
“No, but one of you has got to make the first move, and you are the one with all the theories.”
Julian nodded, “I’ll think about it. So is that this woman’s bicycle parked out front then?”
“Possibly, she hadn’t arrived before I left, but he isn’t expecting anyone else. Be nice to her Julian, she’s important, and try to like her huh, you never know she may find ways to ease your boredom.”
“I didn’t say I was bored, just that I wanted to do more.”
“Well now’s your chance.”
Julian looked at his uncle strangely, it seemed a funny thing to say, almost stand-offish, and in the last twenty minutes of conversation, he had learned more from his uncle than he ever had. There were still great gaping holes needing to be filled with knowledge, but for once, Julian had felt that he was beginning to know the way forward.
And now with his uncle’s last statement, he wasn’t so sure again.
The door opened as they approached, finding his father standing there. Julian frowned, this was most odd, he had never known his father come to meet him in his life, boy he must be mad. Yet as Gabriel stepped aside to reveal his guest behind him, Julian could tell that any anger his father was feeling was held in tight restraint because of her presence. “Julian, there you are. Where have you been? You have kept our guest waiting.”
“I’m sorry Father,” Julian approached, and dutifully kissed the ring upon his father’s outstretched hand in greeting, “I was absorbed in my reading.” A blush stained Julian’s cheeks, which Gabriel was quick to notice, the boy always had been a poor liar.
“This is Mariah, she is staying with us for a while, Julian be a good lad and take her out for the afternoon would you, show her some of your favourite haunts. Here let me take those books from you.”
Julian stared wide eyed at his father, aware vaguely that Snow had made his exit through a side door. Mariah stepped forward holding out her hand, and dutifully Julian took it, bending to kiss the gloved fingers. She smelt of flowers, a heady scent, mingled with sweat. From it Julian detected that she was nervous.
Glancing at his father, Gabriel rewarded him with a look, that Julian couldn’t quite decipher, but troubled him nonetheless, and for several moments could think of nothing to say.
Finally it was Mariah who broke the silence, “So Julian, you take me to the waterfall, no?”
“No!”, suddenly the idea of sharing his and Lauren’s place with this strange woman was sacrilege, and Julian refused adamantly, “I’ll take you to the fountains.” he told her, “If its falling water that you want to see.”
Mariah shrugged, “It is not necessary. Take me anywhere.”
Julian hesitated, casting another sidelong glance at his father, still standing immobilised on three steps above him, and then nodding turned back to Mariah, “All right, but we’ll start with the fountains. Come on, they’re this way.”
Walking along side by side, Julian was very much aware of this woman. From time to time, when he shyly looked at her, it was to find her openly gazing at him. She made him nervous, yet detected the same emotion within her.
“So”, he asked her at last, “What business do you have with my father.”
Mariah eyed him coolly, “I have only met him today.”
“That is not what I asked.”
Mariah shrugged, and changed the subject, “Have you lived here long?”
“A few years, what about you?”
“I was born on the island.”
“You live here. How is it I have never seen you before?”
“Perhaps because you do not visit my side of the island.”
“Are your family here?”
“No, my father, he...” Mariah shrugged, “he likes how you say...the bottle...as to my mother, she works on the mainland.”
Julian sighed, “Look, don’t get me wrong Mariah, but all this confuses me. If you have no business with my father, then why are you here?”
“Your father believes you to be lonely, he ask me to come, be your friend, we can be good for one another no?”
Julian stood his ground, “Something is not right here, what else did my father ask of you?”
Mariah shook her head, she must not tell him that his father had offered her a fortune to carry this out. A fortune she could well do with, just to hand over to him a child, that she did not want, and could not afford to keep. A child to be conceived between herself and this young man.
“Let us be friend’s Julian. Come, it is nice here is it not, let us rest awhile.”
Flopping herself down into the lush vegetation, Mariah lay looking up at him, with big enticing eyes, she opened her jacket, revealing beneath a skimpy bikini bra, and Julian was not adverse to being drawn by the large breasts that had been squeezed into the ill fitting top.
“Come sit down with me.” Mariah beckoned, reaching out to take his hand.
For long moments Julian stared down at her, as the truth formed in his mind, things Snow had said, things he had picked up from his father, Mariah’s seduction. It all became crystal clear, and Julian felt his temper rising.
For the first time in his entire life, his inner self rose like some demented being, up and up it came to bubble forth with a cry of anguish, hatred and disgust.
Julian snatched his hand away, with it bringing Mariah to her feet, she stumbled into him, brought her arms around him, mistaking the action for one of submission. With a strangled cry of loathing, Julian shoved her away from him, and as Mariah stumbled and righted herself to come back to him again, she stopped, the look in his eyes troubling her. No more startling blue, his eyes shone with a ferocity that terrified her. Backing away, Mariah, mumbled words that would not form in a language Julian understood, as then turning from her, he began to run, run faster than his legs would carry him, back towards the house!
Stunned, Gabriel could only stare ahead at the sound of splintered wood, as the locked door to his office literally burst before his eyes, and Julian strode through. Immediately, Gabriel’s eyes lit up, as they met those of his son’s, until the fleeting emotion of joy was replaced by fear.
Julian strode into the room, obvious of Snow standing somewhere to his left, his father his intended victim, and a low rumble began in Julian’s chest as he stared at the man who had made himself his parent, coming up and up until it erupted in a deafening roar, that rocked the glass in the windows.
Julian was rooted to the spot in shock, shaking violently, not knowing where to hide. Indeed there was no place to hide from himself.
From behind his desk, Gabriel felt a trickle of urine blotch his pants, but still he smiled. Deeper and deeper, a smile that touched his eyes, an excitement that pounded through his veins as he continued to gaze at his son.
Coming from around the desk, Gabriel could contain himself no longer, “Julian! How proud you make me this day.” he hugged the boy, the first time he ever had, and Julian’s body began to shake violently.
“Snow, take my son to his room, I fear he is in shock, I will see you there later Julian.” he looked down at himself, “I fear I need to go and change.”
Yet as Gabriel turned Julian into Snow’s embrace, Julian remembered the reason for his anger, and swung back, the force of his body knocking Gabriel to the ground. For split seconds their eyes locked, and Gabriel felt a ripple of apprehension run right through him, and decided to play for astonishment, happy when Julian’s body relaxed.
“Tell me....” Julian demanded at last, “What were your plans for Mariah and I?”
“She told you!” Gabriel rose from the floor, furious.
“No. But you just have. How dare you Father!”
“But Julian I had only your interests at heart, I thought the woman would be good for you, you know make a man of you. She is a no-body, you could have fooled around as much as you liked, and to hell with the consequences. I thought you’d be happy.”
“And why should my happiness suddenly bother you?”
“Julian, Julian, your happiness has always bothered me.” Gabriel told him softly, sweetly.
“Liar!” Julian spat.
For a moment Gabriel thought of striking his son, until he remembered the beast. The beast that had suddenly gone back into submission. Was it possible that his son could have such a split personality, did the original beast?
“I’m, sorry Julian for reasons best left unknown, my reasons for bringing Mariah to you will remain my business, but I did hope you would enjoy her. After all, it is long past time that you had a woman.”
“Who I chose is my business, I do not need you to do that for me.” Julian challenged his eyes flashing.
“And who would you chose?” Gabriel laughed, “Its not as if we are swamped out with women here is it.”
“What would you know!” Julian sneered as the beast inside uncurled ready for battle again.
Gabriel noticed the feral glint had returned in his son’s eyes, but went on regardless, “You have someone?”
Guarded now, Julian whispered, “Maybe.”
“You lie.” Yet though he said the words, Gabriel knew when his son was lying, and for a certainty on this occasion he did not.
“Who is she!” Gabriel demanded. “What have you told her?”
“I’ve told her nothing of you old man, she has no dealings with wicked men...” Julian’s voice trailed away, halted by the laughter in his father’s eyes, “Does she not, then she obviously has not seen you, as I have seen you this day, Julian, or should I call you Simba, perhaps.” Gabriel sneered.
Julian shook his head, what was happening to him, was he possessed? This morning he had been as any other fifteen year old, and life was looking good. Now he didn’t think he knew himself anymore. What evil had his father awakened in him?
At his son’s obvious lack of response, Gabriel went on, “Well if you are so intent to keep her identity from me, I will just have to find out for myself, and I will find out Julian, I will. Now Snow take my son to his room, and lock it when you leave.” Gabriel fumed, while inside he rejoiced, his patience had been rewarded, and at that moment he felt the first stirrings of an emotion which known to other people could have been called love, but for Gabriel it was tainted by poison!
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Four – click on ’Next’ below:
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