Whisper softly or you're dead

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Chapter 35

Conflict within. Divide and win the game.

Kate felt relaxed and content for the first time in years. Defoe liked eating on the patio with the warmer blasting. She had enjoyed cooking for him. Her previous lovers had preferred to go out to expensive restaurants while she was happier barbequing some steaks or chicken and walking by the ocean. She liked parties and haute cuisine but not every night.

For her Parents, entertaining was merely a means to make more contacts and business. Her last lover had been like them, insisting she dressed in designer gear to show her off to his friends and business associates. How often had she sat listening to the latest negotiations she did not understand or stood making shallow talk to other bored partners or wives? She had been emulating her mother without realising it.

She had met David at a charity dinner her mother insisted she attend as one of the family. Her father approved of David and when David sat at the table he had invited her to one of his charity events. Encircled by her parents and their associates it was a fait accompli. She could not refuse without embarrassing anyone. David had not been as bad as she had thought and she had dated him and then he suggested moving in with her. She liked David when he wasn’t being pretentious and showing off.

He was not a particularly affectionate or attentive partner but she had never had overt affection from her always busy father and her aloof mother. Now she realised she had been looking for a replacement father when she chose her lovers and had been disappointed by them when she felt rejected as they were as self-absorbed and driven to succeed as him. They wanted trophy wives to reflect and shine in their success.

Kate needed her own identity. When David’s associates asked her to explain her role she was met with blank indifference. They had a vague idea of what her role was from programmes like CSI but there was no status in her job nor the great material wealth which attracted them. She was of no practical use to them nor worthy of their attention.

Defoe was a high achiever but had similar interests and he was really interested in what she had to say. When he held her hand and talked with her he made her feel as if she were the only person in his orbit. His eyes didn’t cross the room to other women or to the current game showing in a bar or restaurant.

He had opened up to her about the hardship his mom had suffered as a widow when his Dad had been killed in action. His grandparents had looked after him while his mom went out to work in low paid cleaning work for rich families. She had worked her way up to become housekeeper at a grand house and their life had become easier but there were no holidays or expensive treats for years.

He had been fortunate having Josh as his cousin. Josh’s grandparents had owned a small ranch and he spent vacations there learning skills and earning pocket money away from the dangers waiting for a bored boy with little money living in a big city. Josh’s granddad had introduced him and Josh to martial arts and encouraged them to join the forces. Josh had been a wild boy and had joined the SEALS after High School while Defoe had a mentor at school who encouraged him to win football scholarships which took him to Harvard.

He had few friends there of his own social status and had focused on his studies knowing one injury could lose his scholarship and chance to succeed. He had taken his degree in record time and joined the Marines then gaining loans for his PHD. Josh had had a mentor who had lent money to him and encouraged him to invest in property. He and Defoe and some cousins and good friends had built houses in their vacations, making a killing, enabling them to pay off their college loans. Prosperous, they now could enjoy their rare leisure time with nothing to prove to their business associates.

Josh and he had many things in common. Both quiet sensitive types easily hurt, they had both been chased by gold-diggers and become suspicious of women. Josh’s faith had been restored by Kirsten who had been put off by instead of being attracted by his power, money and status. Defoe admitted to himself he was still looking for that special woman in his life.

He now believed that woman might be Kate. She had been embarrassed two evenings ago. They had finished early for a change and they had stopped off for her to change into a dress and high heels before going out to dine. Defoe’s eyes had scanned over her, appreciating her curves from her breasts to her tanned bare legs. More make-up than usual made her eyes stand out and she had felt glamorous for a change.

He had come up behind her and arms around her he had kissed the nape of her neck. ‘I think we had better get going or we won’t be eating out tonight if you tempt me like this! You look divine.’ She had turned around in his arms and on tiptoe kissed him and said, ‘I’ll take a rain check but will make you honour it later Doc!’’

Reluctantly, he had taken her out to a restaurant that had been recommended to him as the latest and best in town. He procured a good table and they had ordered their food, when he had noticed a woman staring at him from another table opposite. He didn’t recognise her but she clearly recognised Kate.

‘’Do you know that lady Kate?’’ he had asked as the woman had a word with the waiter and he approached their table. Kate’s heart had sunk as the waiter appeared and said, ‘The Lady on the table opposite asked if you would like to join them, Madam.’

‘’It is my mother and father.’’

‘’We had better join them then,’’ said Defoe. Kate barely ever talked about her family or life outside of her work. She was a mystery and he might find more about from her parents; why she was so reluctant to open up about herself and let anyone into her emotional world. The psychologist in him knew she kept secrets from him; still unwilling to trust him and he wanted to break down those barriers and make her let him in. He had no intention of hurting her. He and Kate were in for the long term if he had any say in it.

Kate had pulled a face but thanked the waiter and got up and went to the table where the waiter was setting more place settings. She was dreading this. Whenever a boyfriend met her parents he was met with the same things. Her father would talk sport or cars with him, softening him until her mother fixed her ice-cold glare on him and then the interrogation would start.

Where did his family live? Where did they come from? What schools and universities did they attend? Did he belong to the exclusive social clubs in the city and the countryside? Once her mother had gained an understanding of his family’s social position her father then talked with him about his financial worth and his prospects.

She had nearly keeled over with embarrassment when one of her boyfriends, a low paid but highly qualified teacher had been ‘frozen out’ by her mother. She had inferred he could not afford to keep her daughter in the manner she had been accustomed to when living with her parents. She had sat speechless and horrified while her mother had humiliated the man and her father had remained indifferent to his wife’s rudeness. She had terminated the meal early and apologised to the boyfriend but it had killed their relationship before it could start. He was proud and unwilling to accept them as potential in-laws.

Her mother started on Kate first this time whilst fixing her frozen botexed face on Defoe, assessing his reactions to her words. Defoe had worn casual clothes, a buttoned down blue denim shirt and navy blazer with blue khakis. Only the expensive watch he wore screamed out wealth to the observer. Kate thought, this isn’t starting out well, as her mother frowned.

‘Introduce us to your friend Kate.’

‘This is Doctor Darrell Defoe. He is currently working with me at the police precinct.’

‘Oh, so you are not a police officer, Doctor Defoe,’ her mother said enunciating the word doctor as it were something distasteful she felt like spitting out. A medical consultant could be worth knowing. He might make a mint but a mere police doctor was another story. Anyone to do with the police earned poor money in her book and could not afford to enter the world of exclusive country clubs she expected her daughter’s future husband to join.

‘No Mrs. Masters. I’m a psychologist and profiler. My Doctorate is in criminology, my main interest, which is why I work with the police.’ Her eyes narrowed. He could feel her reaction to her daughter dating a shrink. Tough! I might not be a top medical consultant but I’ve worked hard for my doctorate. He had also graduated magna cum laude from Harvard.’

‘Darrell is also a professor at the university and gives lectures all over the country.’

‘Darrell. Isn’t that an Irish name?’ asked her mother.

‘Yes Mrs. Masters. My family came from County Cork.’

‘Construction workers, I suppose.’ She made the words sound like they were as dirty as workmen’s boots.

‘Yes, but my grandfather was put through college and became an accountant.’ Defoe wondered why he was bothering to explain his family tree to such a snobby bitch like her. It was for Kate he reminded himself and he contained his temper.

‘Your father was an accountant then?’

‘No Ma’am. He joined the army but was killed in action when I was ten.’ He didn’t tell her how hard he had worked like Josh to prove a boy from a working-class background could get a PHD from Harvard without the support of a wealthy family. His grandfather had helped his mother when he was young but medical bills for his grandma when she suffered dementia early had taken a large part of their savings and Defoe had resisted taking any money from them.

He decided to change the subject from himself. He was not the sort who offered himself up for dissection on a plate to these sophisticated bullies.

’Kate has turned her department around since she joined the city forensic team. It was shambolic but with her organisational skills and analytical techniques the city’s success rate in solving homicides has risen dramatically.

‘You should be proud of her,’ he said enveloping her in his warm smile and taking her hand in his.

She felt a tingle go through her as she held his hand. Her mother’s frosty smile became artic now. Mrs. Masters hated any form of affection shown in public. She called it lower class and degrading. She would be reminded of this later if her mother could catch her alone.

‘Stuff her mother!’ She wanted his affection, as much as possible and her mother could like it or lump it. Her mother was probably wanting to shrink in her seat, her friends sitting in the restaurant, watching her daughter eating with a working-class scruff who would not wear the appropriate dress shirt and trousers.

‘Well we were a little disappointed when she chose medicine instead of business,’ said her father breaking into the conversation.’‘Her brothers entered our business and are taking it forward. Kate could have applied her sharp brain to the company’s future instead of cutting up cadavers.’’ The words were uttered with mild contempt. Defoe couldn’t believe his ears.

‘’Well instead she is saving lives. Without her, more killers would have murdered innocent people. I think we should be delighted she made her career choice.’’

’’Well she could have saved more lives if she had become a surgeon. It is still not too late you know,’’said her mother to Kate. ’‘Your uncle said he could still get you into a position in his hospital given your experience.’’

‘‘No thank you Mother,’’ said Kate exasperated, ‘’but thank Uncle Frank for his suggestion.’’

‘’Well at least you still have your trust fund to fall back on if you show some common sense one day and decide to change your career. Of course, Kate’s fund only goes to her if we her parents approve of any man she chooses to marry or else it reverts to us.’’ She looked at Defoe’s reaction as she broke this bad news to her daughter’s ‘gold-digging’ boyfriend.

Kate wished she could fall through the floor. She waited for an explosion from Defoe but he merely stated,’‘If I married a wealthy woman I would hope the trust fund would be applied to the education of our children. A man and woman should be able to support themselves, not rely on others. That is the way I was brought up, not a shirker or scrounger but a grafter, the Irish work ethic. My children will get enough for their education and some sum to start them up in business or put a deposit on an apartment but for the rest it is up to them.’

‘If that is all one can afford then that might be acceptable,’ said Mr Masters, ’but most people don’t want their children to make any sacrifices if it is unnecessary.’’

‘’My kids will have to work for their living and study hard as I did. I want them to appreciate their money and the things they own. I don’t want to bring up a group of whining layabouts who turn their noses up at those who have to work for a living.’’

‘’Well it is academic if one doesn’t have enough to pass on to one’s children.’’ Mrs. Masters turned to Kate ignoring Defoe. ’’The Garden Wish Ball is next month Darling. We hoped you might bring David. I’m sure he would like the chance to make things up with you again. You made such a charming pair, so refined and suitably matched. Your backgrounds fitted perfectly, so important in our circle. So many people were disappointed when you two broke up. They had expected an imminent engagement.’’

Kate nearly gasped. This rude exclusion of Defoe was unacceptable. He was being made clear he wasn’t of high enough status to take her to the ball.

‘I think we must go Mother. We working people must get up early to earn our bread.’’

‘‘Will you tell us soon who will escort you to the ball? Remember Darling, the tickets are expensive and we need to sell them all to cover our costs and make a profit.’’

‘’If I come Mother, it will be with Darrell as an escort.’’

‘’Remember, you have wear a tuxedo but then I suppose you could hire one,’’ she said dismissively. Defoe had finally had enough. He had an invitation to the ball already being one of its sponsors through his family’s construction company. He decided he would rub it in.

‘’Kate can come as my guest. I already have been offered a pair of tickets. I get them every year but rarely have the time to go to that function. I already attend so many.’’

‘’You have tickets of your own.’’

‘’Yes, Ma’am. My family company sponsors the ball.’’ He got up and took Kate’s arm. His parting shot being, ’‘You may have heard of it, Defoe Holdings.’’ He left her parents open-mouthed, gob-smacked.

Take that you social climbing morons. His Irish great-grandad had worked the railway lines and put his son through college. It was through his grit and grafting his grandson himself could work in the field he was in now. His work ethic had given him the drive to push himself, something those puerile idiots would never understand. He was proud of his background.

He now understood Kate’s reluctance to talk about her family and her dislike of people who flashed their wealth around. Her simple tastes and life meant she barely needed to touch her trust fund. She was as independent and ethical as he was, his ideal mate. He paid their bill and said, ’‘I know a little bar where we can get cocktails or very good beers. Want to come and make this night end pleasantly?’’

‘’I’d love to,’’ she said uncertainly. She had seen him crack at last, his temper finally out of control but he had reigned it in immediately after his smart remark and seemed barely worried about her parents’ attitude.

‘’I’m sorry about those insults my mother laid on you. She is vulgar and offensive. She never makes direct attacks. She prefers to use the scalpel rather than the axe.’’

‘’She will be careful in future. I bet we get a handwritten invitation from her now to go as a couple. Your mother won’t let the opportunity pass to show me to her friends now she knows I’m connected with Defoe Holdings.’’

‘‘I have no intention of going. I missed last year’s ball. They are usually full of sycophants who only go to make connections.’’

‘’That is how business runs sadly Kate. Josh and I have been to countless boring functions to get our name known in the business world. It worked.’’

‘’Well I am not going. You can take someone else in my place Darrell Defoe.’’ He stopped her and put his hands around her face cupping it and held her still.

‘’I have no intention of going with anyone else Kate Masters. Your parents are not going to cause us to argue. We have too much going for us. You understand,’’ he said quite angrily. She nodded and then he hugged her.’’This is the bar. Let us forget those ignorant idiots.’’ He ordered one cocktail and one beer and they sat down.

He made her forget her mother, recounting the tale of a visit to one of his aunts who was the epitome of middle class American snobbery. Bored with sitting quietly, he had teased the family dog and it had chased him around the lounge knocking over precious ornaments. He still remembered his mother saying he had let her down and the hiding his father had given him. He admitted he was a lively boy always finding mischief and had to be sent to Josh’s granddad’s farm to keep him out of trouble.

He allowed the rebellious streak to break out occasionally, like the time he had told a city counsellor to go forth and multiply when he had talked about dirty immigrants causing mayhem in the cities. He had lost quite a few potential consultancy contracts as a result but had not cared saying it was up to people like him, the child from an immigrant family, to defend new immigrants from bigotry. He had given an interview to the paper and the counsellor had not been elected the following year. Defoe rarely made waves but rile him and he would follow his principles to the grave.

She played with the dog but was missing Defoe mocking her when the dog could catch better than her. She realised she missed him often when his commitments meant he could not be with her. Despite what he said his business commitments were still heavy when his Cousins were committed elsewhere. He would never let them or the company down. He said a lax management attitude could send the company into a decline and too many people relied on it for their livelihood. The Directors had a duty to their shareholders, staff and their customers.

The dog rarely tired and after an hour she put it in its kennel where he looked out mournfully trying to entice this nice lady into one more game.

‘’No stay! Your Master will be home soon to play with you. I have some papers to read.’’ Ignoring those sorrowful eyes, she made her way into the kitchen leaving the door open. The dog was off his lead and could easily see her from his surveillance post if anyone came near.

Defoe said they must not spoil him. He slept in the house during the night to the disgust of the cat who had had several faces off with him since he had trespassed into her territory. During the day, he patrolled the grounds and a paid walker came to give him fuss and walks in the local park with other dogs.

She sat in the lounge listening to one of Defoe’s CD’s. His taste was like hers but he preferred jazz more to her country rock. She had begun to treat his house like hers. It felt like home. She closed her eyes and dozed. Even with Defoe lying next to her she had still had nightmares where a man held her down and a woman gouged her eyes out. Without a sound night’s sleep, she felt irritable despite the games with the dog. Even Defoe’s solid presence couldn’t rid herself of the feeling she was being hunted. Someone was watching and waiting for the time to attack.

She opened her eyes sharply as a noise alerted her to someone entering the room. A tall slim figure was standing in the doorway pointing a gun at her. Why had the dog not alerted her?

‘’The dog?’’ she enquired. It was silly the things the mind concentrated on when the killer was standing in front of her with the attention of harming her. The woman shrugged. ‘He was partial to a bit of steak and will sleep for hours.’ Kate felt relieved. Defoe was already attached to the mutt despite calling it an overgrown fleabag and would be devastated if he had been hurt.

Kate knew Defoe had been called on a hoax and would be heading back soon. She had to keep this woman talking if she wanted a chance to live.

‘‘Madeline Hilenko, I presume?’’

‘’Michael Hilenko if you please but I’m changing my name to another once I have finished my masterpiece. An assumed name abroad and the police will not find me.’’ Kate realised she had had this planned for ages, every detail checked. The police would probably find her condo was sold and her accounts cleared when she disappeared. They had said her condo had not been occupied since Chase had been murdered.

This woman enjoyed boasting, her ego requiring feeding. Defoe had said narcissism was her dominating personality trait. She must be right all the time and in control. Kate was quite happy to accommodate her need for attention. She started by flattering her.

‘’I am amazed it took so long for the police to track you down. You covered your tracks very well. How did you do it?’’

‘’Planning my dear. Careful planning and attention to detail, especially hygiene. You know yourself how often criminals get caught when they get sloppy and leave their DNA. I always prepared my theatre wherever it was and left no sign of the op when I left.’’

‘’We only found the cave and your condo. You must have some other place where you left your equipment and the body parts you took.’’

‘’Of course! I have a small house in a wood where I have a freezer and my operating equipment. Everything is stored neatly and tidily.’’

‘’And your car?’’

‘‘I always hire a car out of state, an ordinary marque which no-one would give a glance to. A change of wig and glasses and clothes and everyone forgets the old-fashioned nondescript woman who hires it and pays in cash. I always received distinctions in Drama and learnt to imitate a man’s gait. The voice was difficult. It nearly caught me out.’’

‘’You seemed to know what the police were thinking and their next move.’’

‘’It took years but I found on-line a person in the admin dept. who admired my work. I have quite a following you know.’’

Kate remembered the peculiar web-sites devoted to the work of the ‘collector.’ Some people were morbidly curious and merely interested in the details of the murders but other sickos treated the killer like a hero. The police had interviewed some of these weirdos and their names and DNA were on record in case they tried copycat killings. They often had records for abuse or other criminal activities but had never been brave enough or skilled enough yet, thank God, to do what their hero did.

Kate sifted mentally through the names of the persons who worked in admin. Only two stood out. One was a person interested in anything horrific, the gorier the details the better. He viewed every horror movie and posted every newspaper article in his locker to the disgust of this colleagues. He had been called into Personnel and told to tone them down a bit as others had to pass his often-open locker.

The other was Karen Taylor. Kate had felt sorry for her and taken coffee with her but the girl seemed contemptuous of ordinary people and only wanted to hang around with experts like herself. She had flunked her first-year exams at medical school and failed the psychological tests to become a cop. The more she thought about it the more Kate believed she could have been Hilenko’s helper. Unable to fulfil her own ambitions she had been living through Hilenko’s achievements; her distorted mind hero worshipping her heroine. She had been Gaywon’s girlfriend, the woman washed up dead with him.

‘’Karen Taylor,’’ Kate said.

‘’That is right. My little helper. She adores what I have been doing but I have not allowed her to see my masterpiece yet. She will have to wait for the pictures in the newspapers like everyone else.’’ Hilenko was either deluding herself, not knowing her alter ego had murdered the girl or she was trying to delude Kate the girl was still alive.

‘’What is your masterpiece?’’ Kate wondered how much longer she could keep this woman talking. Where the hell was Defoe? He had an uncanny ability to be where he was needed. Would he let her down this time?

‘’A beautiful woman for Michael.’’ She had changed into Madeline. ‘’Most other women who like men are treacherous. They’ll betray him or let him down. I am making the perfect woman for him. No threats to him. She will be obedient to his needs. I just need one more part.’’

‘’And the dead girls fitted your needs?’’

‘’Generally. Most were virgins and pure. I usually chose virgins because he likes things clean and fresh.’’

OCD. She fits the profile drawn up by Defoe perfectly. Highly qualified, a high achiever, cannot make relationships with others and has narcissistic tendencies. She wondered if Madeline would kill her or would it be her alter ego Michael.

‘’Why me?’’

‘’Your distinctive eyes. I have never seen eyes like yours. My woman has red hair, creamy luminous skin and long limbs and a voluptuous figure. Your eyes will be the icing on the cake.’’ The woman stopped speaking and looked vacant for a moment.

‘’Michael is here. He wants to talk with you. Explain to you what the process is and what he wants to do with you.’’’ She seemed to defer to this invisible Michael, to shrink into herself and close her eyes. She was shaking but then her eyes changed from sparkling blue to a stony cobalt blue. Her stance straightened and she puffed her chest out.

This time when she spoke her voice deepened to a raspy whisper. ‘’Hello Kate,’’ said the person who had trespassed into her body and taken it over for himself. ’’I have been waiting to meet you. I’ll try to make it as painless as possible. I am afraid I need you alive when I take them. Your eyes reflect your intellect, the emotions there, your soul. I need to capture that while you are still breathing.

‘’You will be grateful to me Kate. You don’t want Defoe. He will cheat you and use you like all other men. I’ll preserve your pureness and be your sanctuary. You are safe with me Kate, for ever.’’

Kate felt sick. Michael was the dangerous personality overwhelming Madeline, subsuming her until he dominated. She heard a noise sounding like a car skidding outside. She had to get him to revert to Madeline to buy some time until Defoe came. To distract Michael, she said,

‘’I would like to say goodbye to Madeline before she goes. I need to ask her a question. Please humour me. A last question before I die.’’ She put on her most soulful expression in her eyes, pleading to his vanity. This type of man would like a woman to plead to him. It fed his narcissistic ego.

‘’Say please again and get down on your knees this time, Kate Masters,’’ Michael ordered, enjoying dragging every moment out of this scene they were playing. Damn you, Madeline Hilenko! thought Kate as she got down on her knees. She had heard a sound outside. Defoe or the police were there. She would act her heart out.

She said, ‘’Please,’’ holding out her arms submissively to him. He smiled and then his eyes lightened and his stances softened as Madeline came back. ‘’What can I do for you Doctor Masters?’’ Kate stood up. She played on her insecurity.

‘’You know you are being used don’t you Madeline. He only wants you while you are getting the girls for him. Once he is satisfied and has his masterpiece there will be no room in his heart for you.’’

It was as if daggers had pierced the woman’s heart. The light in her eyes died. She stood frozen in place and she seemed to lose all energy.

‘’At any rate, he will hate you because I am not a virgin. You failed. He will want rid of you.’’

‘‘What do you mean? I checked. You hardly date.’’

‘’You didn’t go far back enough. I used to have lovers, one for two years.’’

Hilenko realised she had only checked since she had returned to the city from her out of state job. She had relied on her other source Karen Taylor to check back further. Her only mistake. She was doomed. Michael only wanted a virgin. He would find someone else to look for another victim. Her head spun and she felt sick. She was losing control and she couldn’t hold her hand straight to point the gun at Kate.

Kate moved her stance, about to strike Hilenko but then the woman’s head jerked up and Michael appeared again. His stone blue eyes impaled her, seeing right though her.

‘’You are right I have no use for her. I can do this on my own. Your body might not be pure but your eyes and soul are still untouched by him.’’

‘You’re wrong,’’ said Kate. ‘‘He has my soul. I love him with all my heart. I belong to him. You are too late to take me from him.’’ Michael stiffened and seemed to look through her, as if making his mind up about something. She felt ice cold as if the blood was being drained from her by this callous being. She thought quickly.

‘’Madeline, he is going to get rid of you. Save yourself. Leave him!’’ Michael twitched and she could see the inner conflict, the weaker woman fighting with the stronger man inside the body.

Madeline appeared.’‘What must I do?’ she asked Kate, uncertainty and distress radiating through her now trembling body.

’’Leave. Give yourself up. Tell the police. It is he who did the murders and influenced you. They will help you. Take his gun and let me go.’’The woman’s eyes clouded over and she looked confused, her hand shaking and lowering.

‘’You know he doesn’t love you or he wouldn’t need another woman to take your place,’’ ventured Kate, digging her barb sharper into the woman’s psyche, hurting her even more.

‘‘I have always loved you,’’ said Michael coming back. He pulled Kate on to her feet and pushed her to the door. Taking her keys from her pocket he said, ‘’Lock it.’’

He then dragged her to a chair by her hair. A hand pushed her down and held her until with the other he held the gun to her head. She dared not move. He was totally focused on the task ahead. Cold eyes without any feeling in them stared at her making her draw back. Madeline had vanished. Michael was in total control again.

Letting go of her he took out his scalpel and moved his hand with poised fingers toward her face.’‘You are good enough despite your impurity. Your death will purify you again! I compromised with Sara.’’

‘’Why me and my eyes?’’’ she demanded. She had run out of other ways to distract him.

‘‘Such beautiful, unusual eyes, almost feline,’’ he whispered in his harsh unnatural voice. ’‘They will fit my masterpiece perfectly.’’ He took her hair and pulled her to him but this time a bang disturbed their unnatural conversation and he turned away from her for a split-second, loosing his hold of her for a minute.

It was enough. Someone was breaking down the door. She jumped forward and aimed a kick, driving the gun backwards, flipping it against the wall. Hilenko came for her again punching and kicking. Unarmed but muscular, Hilenko was strong against another woman but Kate was fit and skilled. She blocked the punches and kicks and shielded her body from her as Defoe exploded into the room. She was shaking but then her eyes changed from sparkling emeralds to forest green as she saw her lover’s anxious expression as he moved forward to take on Hilenko.

‘’What took you so long? I was nearly butchered. She was going to take my eyes whilst I was still living.’’

Defoe blocked Hilenko as she took another punch at Kate. He caught her wrist and twisted her arm behind her back, pulling her backwards, almost off her feet. He easily immobilised her. Tall and muscled for a woman, she was still no match for his masculine height and build.

A cop took Defoe’s place and he came over and pulled Kate into his arms giving her an enormous hug.

‘’I knew something was wrong but was held up in traffic. Thank God, I got here in time.’’ He had heard her conversation with Hilenko.

‘’You are a clever woman Kate Masters, keeping her talking. Other women would be dead by now. She met her match with you.’’ She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tight. She wanted to be close to him. She needed him. She looked into his eyes, tender feelings for him reflected there.

He took hold of her chin in his hand and said, ‘’No-one is having your eyes. They are mine! I want you to look like that at me and no-one else as if you love me and want me to keep you safe. I love you Kate Masters.’ She kissed him and then whispered, ‘I love you too Darrell Defoe and I intend to keep my eyes for just myself and you.’’

‘‘Let us go home to your apartment and let me show you how much I love you.’’

‘’The cops will be in this place for ages.’’

‘’What about the dog?’’

‘’In a deep sleep. One of the cops is taking him to the vet for a check-up for me. He should be ok, he is young and strong.’’’

He took her by the elbow and helped her into the jeep. For someone who had nearly died she was calm and collected. Kate was resilient, a woman who could be trusted to stay strong when adversity came. He felt in his pocket. It was not too soon. He had felt Kate’s love for him even before she admitted it. Adversity often intensified a person’s feelings and clarified them.

‘’Let’s have a hot chocolate on the patio and watch the stars again. I’ll make it,’’ he said. She turned the patio heater on and sat back in the love seat waiting for him. It was fitting he had come to her rescue. He was the man she had been waiting for all her life. She had long given up on the idea of a knight on a white charger coming to her and accepted less than she should have; selfish men who were only interested in their needs.

Then Defoe came and broke down the barriers she had erected and restored her faith in men. He had his faults like her but she could rely on him when things went wrong. His strength and ethics made her feel safe and secure if the outside world was spinning badly. She needed him in her life.

Defoe came armed with hot chocolate and choc chip cookies. They sat and drunk the sweet drink, listening to the night life around them. Defoe turned her to him and put his arm around her.

’’I know we haven’t known each other intimately for long but we mean a lot to each other. I love you Kate. I cannot think of a life without you. I have been thinking about this all day. Please put me out of my agony.

‘’Marry me Kate Masters.’ She kissed him and said, ‘I cannot bear to think of you suffering Doctor Defoe. I love you too. I’ll marry you as soon as you want it.’’

He went to bed a happy man, a man without any worries any longer in his life. With Kate beside him he could face any adversity. Kate felt content and knew this man would be a steady presence giving her the love she needed, filling that gap in her life with security and confidence. Happiness filled their life at last.

The end

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.