William got back to the house dazed and still reeling from his encounter. He finally saw Natalie, only now he had more questions than answers. He always knew that he was not really liked by her sister and now he guessed that Natalie probably never received word that he called. He sat in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine, and tried to relax. There was a stroller and a man. Was the baby hers, was it theirs? He knew he could never find the answers to these questions on his own and speculating would get him nowhere. He pressed his eyelids shut and took a deep breath.
“Bill?” his head whipped around, the voice startling him.
“Oh Tonya hi, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize anyone was here.”
“That’s o.k.,” her eyes shifted to the bottle of wine “I’m sorry I startled you. Are you alright?” He looked at her for a while, forcing a smile but the pain was written in his eyes.
“Look, you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. But if you feel the need to talk, I’m a good listener.”
He exhaled audibly.
“Well it’s a long story.” he began, forcing another smile. She sat down and smiled reassuringly, nodding him on.
“Maybe I shouldn’t be burdening you with this.”
“I don’t mind, really. Besides, some things can tear you up inside if you keep it there.”
It was easier for him to look at the fireplace and talk, so he did.
“There is, um, someone that I really care for. That’s putting it mildly, I love her. And, it’s like meeting someone who restores your faith in things that you just about lost your faith in.” he smiled genuinely now, as a tear ran down his cheek.
“Sometimes life teaches you that certain things are not the way you think they should be, but rather they are the way they are. And in time you accept this as one of life’s harsh realities.” he brought his hand up and wiped away the tears before he continued.
“But sometimes if you are fortunate enough…you’re able to catch lightening in a bottle. You find someone equal to the task of giving as much as they receive someone willing to share their lives with you as much as you desire to share yours with them. And although you may have cared for people before that person, you almost immediately appreciate it for what it is. A bond, a connection that defies explanation. Something, beautiful and honest.” he stopped abruptly and swallowed.
“It sounds like you really love this woman.”
“I did, I still do...and I know that she really cares for me to. It’s just; I don’t know things seem so complicated now. All I want is for her to be happy; my only fear is that she may find may realize that she’s better off without me.”
“And what about your happiness?”
“She makes me happy, seeing her happy absolutely transforms me. It’s just that being separated from someone you truly love, for what ever reason, is painful.”
“I don’t want to sound like some hopeless romantic. But I believe if she feels even half as much about you as you do about her, you’ll find a way to be together.” William turned away from the fireplace to look at her.
“For listening and for saying the things you said.”
“Your welcome, and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it.” As she walked pass him on her way out the den, she placed a hand on his shoulder momentarily.
“Have faith, you’ll be alright.” And as she left the den he felt a bit better for having talked, but no less anxious. He downed half the glass of wine and closed his eyes. There was nothing he could do now but wait.
He sat in the living room waiting for her to return. She told him they had to talk and he sat calmly, stroking a scar at the base of his neck.
“Sorry to keep you waiting so long Donald.”
“That’s O.K.:” he replied as she re-entered the room. And as she sat next to him he fixed his eyes on hers.
“You said we had to talk?” he asked, giving her a little smile.
“Yeah we do.”
His smile slowly disappeared.
“Natalie, you look really serious. What’s wrong?”
“Do you remember the guy I spoke to today?”
“The guy you crossed the street to talk to, yeah I remember, why?”
“Well, I told you about William. That’s who it was.”
“I had a feeling it was.”
“Yeah.” he stopped, and looked into her eyes before he continued. “Hey, you don’t have to explain anything to me. You were honest with me from the start. He’s the father of your child and you guys have a lot of unresolved issues that have to be dealt with. I understand.”
“Thank you for understanding; I’m sorry things have to be this way.”
“Just remember, I meant everything I said,” he added, putting his hand on hers as he got up “you have my number. If you need to talk…if you need anything.” All she could manage to do was nod and smile as he disappeared out the door. She tried not to think about anything in particular as she reached for the phone to call William.
Carlos was already getting his stuff together, limited as it was, because he knew they would be moving soon. Probably within the next two days, his anxiety though was really brought on by the fact that he loved Germany and looked forward to returning. That, and the sooner he completed this task for Jean Pierre the better he would feel.
In the next room Rebecca knelt in front of a black cloth with a pentagram embroided on it. Smoke filled the room rising from incense and candles. Fresh blood ran down her chin onto her naked body as she chanted various incantations from the satanic bible. They made animal sacrifices once a month and human sacrifices once a year. It was a large demand to accommodate, taking into consideration how large the ‘family’ was, but there was no alternative.
A knock at the door startled Carlos, and he quickly got to his feet. He held a long slender dagger in his hand as he looked through the peephole. He smiled as he opened the door.
“Donald, you bring us good news I hope.”
“Yes,” he replied seriously, stepping inside “we move tomorrow.”
“Not that I’m not pleased that it is so soon. But why the sudden urgency?”
Donald sat down rubbing his eyes.
“There has been an unexpected development. It seems that the child’s father is now in the country and this was something we didn’t cater for.”
“You think he could be a problem?”
“I spoke to father, and he is very aware that things are a bit risky right now to put it mildly. He could be a problem and I don’t think we should be taking any uncalculated risks.”
“So when do we move?”
“Before first light. There must be no survivors.”
And so it was settled. There would be at least two deaths in the morning, possibly more. Pierre would have his little girl.
William felt a small measure of relief when he came off the phone. She called a lot sooner than he thought she would, and they decided to meet for lunch tomorrow. She told him they had a lot of catching up to do and she promised to answer all his questions. It was easier talking to her now, as it appeared they were able to put the strained uneasiness of earlier in the day behind them. He looked forward to their meeting with cautious anticipation; he knew he would be up before dawn.
William was up early, as he knew he would be. He was wide awake at three thirty in the morning, his heart pounding strongly. It was still as cold as it was when he arrived in New York, in fact on some days it was colder. But William began to adapt, and it didn’t bother him as much as it did before. He pulled on two T-shirts a hooded sweater and a jacket to go with his layered sweat pants, socks and sneakers. He knew he didn’t feel tired now, but a few miles in the cold would more than do the trick. He had a fair idea of where Natalie’s sister lived and he decided he would jog through her area.
Three men and one woman sat in the black unmarked van, in silence, as they cruised along the highway. They were twenty minutes from their destination, all the guns, silencers and even knives were cleaned and checked. It would take them no more than five minutes, to get in and get out.
William increased his pace steadily. His heart pounded in an even rhythm as the sweat began to soak into his sweater. He rounded the corner, and knew he was on the street but really didn’t figure on finding the house in the dark. A black van caught his attention, passing him slowly and stopping a few yards up the street. There were no plates and all the windows were tinted. It was at that moment that curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to double back. The hood was still over his head as he passed the van, running at an increased pace. He looked back and saw figures dressed in black emerging from the van. He stopped as two of the figures removed something from within their jackets. He removed the hood and squinted. He recognized one of the figures; it was the man he saw with Natalie. Then he looked across from them and immediately recognized the house. He wasn’t even aware that he was moving back in the direction of the van, but he was. He instinctively shifted his head about three inches, a move that probably saved his life. The first bullet tore into the skin above his left eye, the blood almost immediately running into it. He fell to the ground and rolled, hearing asphalt cracking menacingly close to where his body lay seconds before. He stopped abruptly, hitting the wheel of a parked car. He raised himself into a crouched position, finding temporary sanctuary behind the car. His mind raced as blood dripped from the side of his face. He tried to remember how many of them there were, the important thing now was survival. He knew he had to live if he expected to get any answers. He tried to clear his mind, but he could already feel his senses waning. They were coming, from both sides of the car. He wiped blood from the side of his face with the end of his sweater, before quickly removing his jacket. He had to move fast, they approached with knives that at least gave him a fighting chance. He wrapped the jacket around the closest assailant’s hand stepping into him. He gripped his arm between his hands, pushing down with his left and pulling up with the right until he heard the bone crack under the force. The knife fell to the ground as he turned anti-clockwise catching the man with a vicious elbow that sent him to the floor. He turned and stepped back as the second assailant lunged forward, his layered clothing doing very little to the knife. Blood now soaked his clothes from his mid section. He moved, gripping the arm before delivering a powerful back fist to the face, just as quickly reversing his direction and smashing into the head from the other side. His hand returned to his side, he was losing a lot of blood and was in a lot of pain. He looked over his shoulder; the other two men were making their way into the house. Natalie!! Pain shot up his back. The second assailant was on his feet, only it wasn’t a man. Her shoulder length hair was now loosened and she had a sickening smile on her face as she licked the blood off her teeth. William made his way to his feet with one hand stretched out before him.
“Hey come on. Enough!” He looked into her eyes and saw nothing there that remotely resembled pity. He wondered momentarily if she understood English, but something told him she did. Without warning her hand disappeared behind her. He knew better than to wait and see what she was reaching for. He covered the distance between them quickly, holding the hand with the now exposed gun. Her strength surprised him. She raised her leg, low and hard into the tender area between his legs. His grip on her hand slackened, he had to ignore the pain. He released the gun, letting out a guttural scream as he leaped a couple feet in the air bringing his fist from behind his head into the middle of her face. She slumped against the car as, hands on his knees; he fought against fatigue and unconsciousness. Oh God Natalie! He looked around, think William think. His eyes settled on the silenced gun. He picked it up fumbling with it before removing the silencer. Then he began firing the weapon in the air, as lights flicked on in various houses. His vision began to blur as he leaned against the car, recognizing two figures racing out of the house closest to him. He heard the van screech off and then someone yelling something about 911. He hoped Natalie was safe, he hoped they were all safe. And then there was nothing, no pain, no concern, only a strange relief as darkness washed over him.