Element (Book 3)

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Ch 19 - Dr Elizabeth McFarland

I was lost in thought as I traced my thumb over the tattoo on my ring finger. At the base of the finger were the initials T.X.D followed by an infinity sign. On the side was the word Bond, and my thoughts trailed over to the fresh tattoo beneath my left boob. I’d gotten the love of my life’s name tattooed there, and on that day, we made a promise to each other.

We promised till death do us apart, which is why I need to succeed with this mission so that I can have a life with my husband.

It was crazy, and it was spur of the moment. My emotions were high, but I knew there and then that I didn’t want to wait anymore, so I asked Jason if he was ordained, and by our luck, he is. He married us first before we got the tattoos, and that day, I changed my last name to Demetriou.

However, my husband doesn’t know another part of the reason why I wanted to change my last name so badly.

The Solano name is one that sickens me if we’re being completely honest. The more memories I get, the more I realize just how much I hate it. I hate especially the dynamic I have with my family. The more my memories come back, the more they bring with them the hurt, the anger and the hatred.

Xander is my chance at a clean slate.

As I stared up at the luxurious ceiling above me, I thought about him. I couldn’t have asked for a better way for us to get married because that night was so special. To me, what matters is the connection we had on that particular night, and of course the fact that I would never choose anyone else over him.

I don’t think anyone noticed the tattoos, or at least they didn’t notice mine. They’ve probably noticed his by now and asked a million questions, but I doubt he’ll tell them the truth. He’ll probably make up some story about how we wanted to have a piece of each other in the midst of the madness.

I remember the tears that rushed to my eyes when he took off his t-shirt and asked Jason to add my name to the tattoo on his chest. Just above my name, and below the ‘A’, was Thales’, Aziel and my aunt’s names, also recently tattooed.

He told me that I deserved to be there with the people closest to his heart.

I joked and asked him where he would put our kids’ names, and he said he would just have a different tattoo for each one of them. He proceeded to get a tattoo of a small flower in the middle of his chest.

I wiped away the tears that had escaped as I heard footsteps approaching the room. My whole body was sore and it felt heavy. I was hot and cold at the same time, which is why I had my leg out but the blanket covered me all the way up to my shoulders.

“Wake up sleeping beauty,” Lane said softly.

“No,” I whined, hiding under the blanket.

He laughed. “Come on Ellie. You have to eat something so that you can take your medication.”

He’s been calling me Ellie and I Okayed it since I told him that my full name is Elizabeth.

And no, the irony of his chosen nickname didn’t die on me.

“I don’t want to move Lane. Everything hurts,” I complained.

“I know it does, but it will be better once you’ve had medication. I’ve cancelled all my meetings for the day just to take care of you,” he informed.

My head popped out from under the blanket. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I know. I wanted to. Now, are you going to stop being stubborn?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, making him laugh again.

“Don’t make me tickle you out of bed,” he threatened.

“You wouldn’t,” I said, slightly terrified.

I may have let it slip that I hate being tickled.

He shrugged. “If you continue to be stubborn, I’m going to.”

“Alright fine you meanie! I’m up,” I huffed as I forced my aching bones up.

“Let it be noted that I warned you about staying in that wet dress,” he commented as he put the tray on my lap.

“No one likes people who say I told you so Lane,” I countered.

“It’s a good thing that I don’t care much for being liked then,” he retorted.

I looked at him through my lashes as I sipped the coffee he’d brought. “Sounds like there’s a sad back-story to that statement.”

“I used to be a completely different person a few years ago. I used to seek validation from people who didn’t care about me, and once I realized that I was alone in this world, I stopped caring about people and what they have to say about me,” he explained.

“Who hurt you Lane?” I asked softly, feigning concern.

“Just a bunch of people who I thought were my friends until they screwed me over, but it doesn’t matter. That part of my life is where it’s meant to be in the past,” he said, anger heavy in his tone.

I reached out and squeezed his hand. “You have to forgive them; not for them but for you.”

“Forgiveness is earned, and none of them have cared enough to bother reaching out to me and apologizing for ruining my life,” he said.

“I apologize for them then,” I found myself saying.

“Why? You don’t even know who they are, what they did and if they deserve forgiveness to begin with,” he pointed out.

“True, but I see what it’s doing to you. I see the hurt in your eyes, and that’s a kind of hurt no one should have to live with,” I replied.

He looked at me for the longest time, like he was trying to understand something. “Hartley is a stupid man.”

“No argument here,” I laughed, blushing.

“No, seriously Ellie, he’s a stupid man. What kind of man would mistreat a gem like you?” he asked.

One who doesn’t exist, much like this ‘gem’.

I shrugged. “A man who has everything else going for him and doesn’t need me to complete his life.”

“You’re an angel who would complete anyone’s life,” he countered.

“I’m yet to believe that, but thank you,” I said, pulling my hand away from his.

I can’t believe I held it for so long to begin with.

“Believe it. You’ve helped me to overcome something I held onto for so long. I didn’t think I’d ever find peace,” he admitted.

“What exactly did they do?” I asked.

“They imprisoned my parents after accusing them of being terrorists. They used me to get information. The entire time I thought they were my friends, until they stabbed me in the back,” he told me.

I frowned. “Who are they?”

“Do you believe that there are spies in the world?” he asked.

I nodded. “I’ve heard Hartley discussing it with one of his friends before, but I don’t know if it’s entirely true.”

“Oh, it is. There’s a whole world of agents, spies, terrorists and villains if you may. The agency that arrested my parents, Cypher, is the most glorified of them all. Their best team is the one that imprisoned my parents, and the whole thing was led by their most famous agent, Six,” he said.

What?

I had to remain calm and straight-faced. “Is that a person?”

He nodded. “I honestly despise him, but I won’t lie. The kid is good at everything he does and he’s the best of the best.”

I already knew that much.

“You said this agency is glorified. Why do you say so?” I asked.

He scoffed. “They’ve managed to actually convince themselves that they’re saving the world.”

I raised an eyebrow. “And they aren’t?”

“I mean, at some point they probably did, but there are a whole lot of things that not even they know about their own organization. It’s actually funny to me,” he said, laughing a little.

“And what about you? Where do you fit into that whole scene?” I asked.

He frowned. “I don’t know yet.”

That knocked me for six.

“How come? Shouldn’t it be easy to figure out?” I questioned.

He sighed. “It was before last night.”

“Last night?” I asked in confusion.

Instead of answering my question, he stood up. “I need to step out and make a call. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Where will I go?” I asked, deadpan.

He chuckled before leaning down and kissing my forehead. “Touché.”

I was flustered beyond belief as he walked out of the room. I had to scold my racing heart, not that that did anything to calm it. There’s something borderline dangerous about the way I feel every time I’m in his presence.

Last night, he’d led me to this massive room which is right next to his, and he told me that it was now mine. After giving me his clothes for the night, we spoke some more, until I fell asleep to the sound of his voice. I woke up hours later, sweating, and he was still in the room, which is how he then found out that I was sick.

When he came back, I didn’t push the topic we were talking about earlier. I didn’t want to give away anything, so I instead settled for his suggestion to watch movies the whole day. He sat by the couch in the room, while I stayed in bed.

This was the case for the next two days.

“Get out Lane,” I told him.

He laughed. “Are you seriously kicking me out?”

“I am. You’ve been stuck in here with me for two days. Clark has already told you that you are needed at the office, and I’m feeling much better now,” I pointed out. I’d met Clark when he brought my stuff by.

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Fine. I’ll go to work tomorrow, but if you so much as sneeze or cough for the rest of the night, I’m going nowhere.”

“Letting you steal me away has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done,” I said dramatically.

He hit me with a pillow, making me giggle. “So much for taking care of your ungrateful ass.”

“See that’s the problem. My ass was never sick. I believe it was my chest,” I joked, making him smack me again.

“You are definitely healed,” he commented.

“What’s the plan for tonight?” I asked.

“What? Are you tired of watching movies?” he questioned.

“Well yeah. I’m sure there’s something we can do in this big ass house of yours,” I pointed out.

“We could always go to the games room, but only after dinner. I’m cooking tonight,” he said as he helped me to stand.

“Oh? What happened to Mrs White?” I asked. Mrs White is his chef, and Mr White is his butler.

“I gave her and Marvin the night off. It’s their anniversary today,” he informed as we headed downstairs.

I was dressed in a pair of yoga pants, a loose t-shirt, slippers and Lane’s hoodie. I can’t help that it’s so soft. My hair was in a ‘gloriously cute mess’ as he put it, and I really was feeling a hell of a lot better. We got to the kitchen and I watched him move around, getting ingredients and all the tools he’d need.

“What are you making?” I asked, sitting on a stool at the island.

“I think I’ll surprise you. Are you allergic to anything?” he asked.

“Not that I’m aware of,” I replied.

He nodded. “Can I ask you something personal?”

“Sure,” I said.

“What exactly is it that Hartley did to win you over? I’m genuinely curious,” he questioned.

I’d already covered this with Carter, so I knew exactly what to say. “He met me at a lab I was working at. He’d come as an investor to listen to project ideas that he could invest in, and I happened to be one of the people pitching. He was impressed by what I pitched, and he wanted to be personally involved in the project. At the time, I thought nothing of it, but I had a crush on him. I’ve always had a thing for intelligence, and he also had this shy and geeky side that seemed to only come out around me. After two months working on the project together, he started pulling away. I was obviously hurt, especially since he didn’t show any interest in me beyond the jokes he would make. He then disappeared completely for a week. At the end of that week, I was leaving the lab when a blindfold was put over my eyes. Once I realized it was him, I relaxed and let him lead me wherever it is he was taking me. He ended up taking me to the beach, where he’d had dinner set up for us, but that’s not what stunned me then. It was instead the huge ‘Marry Me?’ sign that was spelled out on the sand with fire. He explained to me that he’s not the best at expressing himself, but that he knew enough about me and our connection to know that I’m it for him. He wasn’t always like this. It only started getting really bad the more prominent he became.”

“Wow! I didn’t expect any of that. Based on that, he sounds like a romantic,” he commented.

I sighed. “Like I said, he wasn’t always like this.”

“What were you working as at the lab?” he asked.

“A physicist,” I replied.

“So you’re actually Dr Elizabeth McFarland?” he asked, taken aback.

I nodded. “Correct. I graduated when I was sixteen, which is four years ago. He just told me to stop using the title because it was taking away from his image.”

“Your husband is an asshole. I would want the whole world to know that my wife is just as smart as me,” he said.

“I’m not as smart as either of you,” I denied.

“But you’re still smart. Being a physicist isn’t child’s play, and neither is the journey getting there,” he countered.

I wouldn’t know since, well let’s see, I’M NOT A PHYSICIST.

I shrugged. “I guess.”

“He ruined your self-esteem,” he noted.

“I don’t even know if that’s true or not anymore,” I said lowly, feigning dejectedness.

He came around to hug me. “Don’t worry Ellie. We’re going to pick you up from the mess this man put you in.”

I decided to join him in cooking, and we were actually having a good time as we laughed and made jokes. He’s a very easy person to talk to, and I had to keep reminding myself that he’s a mission and that I shouldn’t get attached.

The doorbell went and I turned to him expectantly. “I forgot that I was expecting something. Please get the door.”

“Okay,” I said since he was busy at the oven.

I went over to open the door, and the last person I thought would be here was standing on the other side. Our eyes widened simultaneously. He was dressed in a smart suit with a slight beard that wasn’t in my memories of him.

“Noelle?” he said in disbelief.

“What are you doing here?” I whisper yelled.

“What am I doing here? What are youdoing here? I thought you were with Xander!” he said.

“I’m on a mission and I don’t have to explain myself to you,” I told him.

“I am your father. Watch how you speak to me,” he warned.

“That’s highly debatable,” I snapped.

“Is there a problem?” I heard Lane asked as his footsteps approached the door.

“Not at all. I was just greeting Director Solano here. I’ve heard a lot about him, but I’ve never met him in person,” I told him.

“Well, today is your lucky day. Director, this is my beautiful friend Dr Elizabeth McFarland. Ellie, FBI Director Sergio Solano,” he introduced.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Director,” I said, faking my smile.

“Same to you young lady. Lane, I have that document you wanted,” my father said, showing him the envelope.

“Excuse me then. I’ll just be in the kitchen,” I said before heading that way.

I was beyond upset as I drank a glass of water. I have memories of that man, and not all of them are great- especially the ones from my childhood. He and my mother are two people who I just feel conflicted about.

So much has happened in the past that has messed me up, and not all of it is entirely the fault of the agency.

“Why are you calling? Do you need backup?” Tyler asked as soon as he answered his phone. I’d gone outside to the garden to make the phone call.

“No, but dad’s here. He’s here to see Lane about a document. Do you think you can find out what the document is?” I asked.

“You’re there Ren. Why don’t you do it?” he asked.

“I have his trust Tyler. The last thing I need is to be caught snooping,” I pointed out.

“Fine! Stay away from dad. You know how your emotions get around him,” he warned.

“Yeah, yeah, I will. Is Storm ok?” I asked.

“Yeah! Carter brought her and Winter back here so that we could regroup. They found some useful information, but not enough for us to have an idea on what Lane’s final plan is. Lane did however pay a whole lot of people off from the ball to keep quiet about seeing you leave with him. Have you found anything there yet?” he inquired.

“I’ve been sick the past two days, and he’s only opened up to me about his past. However, did you know that Xander and his team imprisoned his parents?” I asked.

“There’s no record of that anywhere on Cypher records,” he replied.

And that’s when it hit me.

“Lane Mason isn’t his real name,” I commented.

“Shit! That means you have an extra part to your mission. You need to find out who he really is before it’s too late,” he said.

“I know, and I will. Keep me updated,” I said before hanging up as I watched Lane approach me.

“What are you doing all the way out here?” he asked.

“I wanted to give you privacy with the Director. I took the time to call my sister and find out the latest news on Hartley,” I responded.

He looked heavily concerned. “What did she say?”

“He’s looking for me. He can’t understand why everyone insists that they didn’t see me leave, so I’m guessing you had a part to play in that,” I said knowingly.

“I only paid people off to keep you safe,” he defended.

I smiled. “It’s ok Lane. Thank you.”

“You are most welcome. Let’s go and eat. The food’s ready,” he suggested.

“Is the Director gone?” I asked as we walked back in.

“Yeah, he is. He was just dropping off a document with regards to an investigation he’s running on a former enemy of mine. They apparently need my help for something,” he informed.

I mock gasped. “Lane! Are you snitching?”

He laughed. “I’m not snitching. I’m simply providing useful information to the investigation.”

“Snitch,” I taunted before dashing off.

I don’t even know the house at all, but I still ran away from him. He was hot on my tail as I laughed, running through the halls. He finally caught me and he held me to him as he tickled me. I was laughing so hard, I wasn’t even breathing anymore.

“I hate you,” I said breathlessly, wiping away my tears. His arms were around my waist.

“I told you to take it back. That’s all you had to do,” he argued.

“Oh whatever! You’re still a snitch,” I said, rolling my eyes at him.

He chuckled, moving a strand of my hair away from my face. “You’re truly insanely gorgeous, especially when you laugh.”

“Lane,” I whispered, my heart taking off once more.

“You feel it too. Tell me I’m not the only one who feels it,” he said desperately.

“I feel it too, but Lane, what about Hartley?” I asked.

What about my actual husband?

“Forget about him. For just one second, forget about him,” he said.

Before I knew it, we were kissing. It’s nothing like what I feel when I kiss Xander, but it’s high up there alright. He picked me up, wrapping my legs around his waist. I was lost in him and I vaguely registered my back touching a hard surface as we continued to kiss.

He kissed along my jaw and down to my neck. “Be mine Ellie. Let me give you the world.”

I pulled his head away from me, making him look me in the eyes. “I can’t Lane.”

“At least give me a chance to change your mind,” he pleaded.

My heart broke for him.

It broke for him because it was more evident in that moment than any other that he truly trusted Elizabeth McFarland, someone I’m not. Whether or not he knew it, he’d fallen, and he’d fallen hard and quickly.

Which could work to my advantage.

“Ok, but we have to take things extremely slow. I’m broken Lane,” I ‘reminded’.

“I’m broken too Ellie, but I agree. We’ll take things slow and heal each other. I’m just thankful you agreed,” he said.

After one last kiss, he helped me stand, and that’s when I learnt that my back had been on the pool table. In my aimless running, I’d found the incredible room he refers to as the games room. He laughed at my wonder and reminded me that we needed to eat before we could come back.

He laughed even harder when I got lost trying to find my way to the kitchen so that we could come back here quicker.

Dinner was extraordinary, and I learnt that he’d taken cooking lessons from Mrs White for days like this when she wasn’t around. I thought it was the cutest thing and once again, we had fun just talking and getting to know each other.

Even if half of the things I was telling him about myself were made up.

We headed back to the games room where our competitive sides came out to play. He beat me at pool, and I in turn annihilated him in bowling. A game of air hockey was the decider. The winner got to ask for anything they wanted and the other couldn’t say no.

He asked me to sleep with him in his bed.

We didn’t do anything, and I woke up to find him fast asleep. His arms were wrapped around me and for the first time, I truly took his handsomeness in. He’s got a more mature physical look to him, something I was pinning down to age.

I managed to slip out of the bed without waking him up and headed to his closet. I took out an outfit for him , and by the time I was done, he was still asleep, so I settled for going downstairs to make him breakfast.

I’d just arrived downstairs when the doorbell went. You have to pass by security at the gate before you can reach the door, so I knew that whoever was at the door was someone who had been allowed to be on the property.

“Winter?” I said in confusion at the sight of my best friend.

“We have a big problem sis,” she said.

Ah, so she’s here as my sister.

“What’s going on?” I asked as I let her in.

“The twins hacked HQ and the merry band has a new mission,” she hinted.

“Don’t tell me...” I trailed off.

“Your hero is their new mission, and they’re all headed this way.”

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