Nicole had to prove her loyalty to the man who considered himself her ‘benefactor’. Frank Carragher did his utmost to convince Nicole that she could do nothing without him. How deluded he was. It was a crisp Saturday afternoon. Nicole opted to spend the day by herself shopping with the generous sum of Ameros Carragher had given to her. Arielle was attending a party for the children of federal government officials and NAP officers posted in Kamloops.
It was nearing three o’clock. Nicole was required to contact Frank Carragher’s office by dinnertime and report to a designated location where she would be picked up. The leaves of the maple trees along the downtown street where she walked were bright orange, red and yellow. All of a sudden, Nicole remembered where she was; directly across the street was Sacred Heart Church. Although she desperately wanted to go inside, the strong possibility that Carragher had some of his minions trailing her made her hesitant. She’d carried that feeling of suspicion and paranoia around with her all day. Nicole had not spoken with Father Tuck in weeks. She was concerned that her impromptu visit could jeopardize both their lives.
Nicole entered. It was peacefully quiet inside. A trio of older ladies she didn’t recognize sat near the front reciting the rosary. On Saturday evenings, mass was held at five. Confessions generally began two hours prior. Not that many people-especially those of her generation-bothered going to confession anymore.
At that moment, a man exited the confessional. Nicole drew a deep breath to calm her body before going in. She kneeled down. Father Tuck’s face was obscured by the customary screen.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been years since I made my last confession. I haven’t exactly been an angel if you know what I mean.”
“You and I both,” Tuck replied.
“This is Father Tuck, is it not?”
“Yes,” Tuck answered a bit guardedly. “Do I know you?”
“It’s me. Nicole Clare,” she responded in almost a whisper.
Before Tuck even had a chance to respond Nicole had the screen pushed over.
“Nicole!” Though excited, Tuck kept his voice to a minimum. “How are you? How’d you manage to...?”
“I don’t have much time to talk.”
“Are you and Arielle okay?”
“We’re hanging in there. You don’t have to worry. I’ve got that demented piece of garbage wrapped around my little finger and he’s too dumb to see it. I must have inherited my mother’s charm.”
“What are they getting you to do?”
“Mainly typing up documents. Press releases and whatnot.”
“And Arielle? She’s alright?”
“To be quite honest with you, Father, I fear it might be too late.”
“They’ve brainwashed the poor kid. Molded my sweet little girl into a cold, mechanical shell of her former self. Deep down, I know that she still loves me. I just think about all of those children who were stolen from their parents. Do you believe that they can be reprogrammed?
“Only God knows that.”
“I’m constantly thinking about Jake. I can’t live knowing that he’s gone forever.”
“You know Jake better than you know yourself. He’s very much alive.”
“Don’t be so sure.”
“I’m quite sure,” Tuck stated. “Close to a month ago, there was an ambush that resulted in the deaths of two members of Jake’s group. A young woman who fought with them was captured.”
Nicole felt a renewal of hope inside of her.
“Who is that?”
“Her name is Sarah Jane. She’s Bridgette’s cellmate.”
“So you don’t know where Jake is?”
“If I knew that, they would have killed me by now. Sarah Jane flat-out refuses to tell them. Anyway, you’d best be getting along. You can be rest assured that the pieces of our plan are slowly being put into place.”