~ All Our Tomorrows ~
J M Dragon
Part Seventeen
February 2001
e-mail: jmdragon1@hotmail.com

Disclaimer:   See Part One

Chapter Thirty-four

“You could have lost the baby Grace! Whatever came over you to think that you could have taken on a…a criminal?” Faith asked her daughter in despair, after she had listened to the events that had transpired at the villa only days earlier.

“I didn’t lose the baby Mother, I’ve already told Colin I’m coming home. The doctor has indicated that if I take it easy everything will be okay.” Grace gave her mother a long-suffering glance, and sat down heavily in the lounger, she wasn’t up to an argument.

“Does Colin know that you put the baby in jeopardy?” Faith continued to question her eldest daughter, who she was sure didn’t have the sense she was born with at times.

“No! It isn’t necessary to worry him. When I get home I’ll tell him then, until that time he knows we are both well.” Grace stated forcefully, she could do without the inquisition from her mother.

“Are you well Grace? How can you be when you do such foolish things to endanger your unborn child, he wouldn’t exactly approve of that now would he?” Faith bit back scathingly.

Grace glowered at her mother, ‘the baby this, the baby that.’ “What about me? It doesn’t matter that I had to do those things to try and save my life, as well as the lives of others. No, of course not! I’m just the person carrying the baby, what would be the baby’s chance had I let him shoot me without at least trying to escape? Answer me that Mother.”

The words flooded out of Grace, she couldn’t help it, why did her Mother have this effect on her. Faith looked at her daughter sharply at the words as well as the implication behind them. Grace was right, had she not tried to escape perhaps she would be dead now and so might the others.

“I’m sorry Grace, truly sorry. I lost sight of what was important, why you had to do the things you did. I forgot for a moment how resourceful and determined you are, not to mention the courage it must have taken to risk your life with the knowledge that you risked the baby’s too.” Faith dropped her gaze, as she sat down heavily on the sofa opposite the chair Grace was seated in.

It was several minutes before either woman spoke. The entrance of Lisa with Elena in tow, both dressed in bathing suits, brought them out of their melancholy thoughts.

“Hi Lisa, come on over and give your Aunt Grace the low down on the beach below.” Grace smiled warmly at the girl, immediately rewarded with an infectious grin from the red headed child.

“It’s smashing Grace, me and Elena have both been in the water, Jace was with us though. I went swimming without the wings; Catherine’s Aunt found a small paddleboat for us to play in. Elena can’t swim so Jace had to hold her, I wanted Catherine to come too but she was sleeping.” The child pointed out, exaggerating the fact that Catherine was asleep and wouldn’t join them.

Faith looked at Grace both bursting out laughing. Imaging Catherine trying to sleep on the beach with two energetic children around.

“Darling, I’m sure with all the travelling she just needed a little more sleep. What’s the betting that tomorrow, she’ll be teaching you how to swim faster.” Grace smiled at the girl as she came over, sitting on the arm of the chair as Elena trotted over to clamber on the sofa next to Faith.

“Oh well, I don’t think so.” Lisa stated confidently.

“You don’t why?” Grace asked, interested in the turn of the conversation.

“I did the same travelling Grace, how can she be tired, for I’d be tired too but I’m not!”

Grace gave her chin a stroke, considering her answer on the subject carefully. “Well, how about if she does go swimming with you all, why not let her win. After all Lisa, Catherine is a little older than you are. Anyway we all know she hates to lose at anything.”

Lisa mimicked Grace’s action of stroking her chin with a twinkle in her blue eyes she giggled replying. “Okay Grace can do, she does get upset doesn’t she, look at all the games she loses.”

Elena shouted “Lisa” at that moment; she was bored with Faith tickling her, wanting her big sister to play.

“I have to go take Elena to see Catherine’s Aunt she wants us to meet another older lady. Jace said it was okay if we were good, because the lady is sick at the moment.” Lisa explained, moving over to grasp Elena’s hand as they both walked away with a wave and a goodbye.

“Bye ladies.” Grace smiled warmly as they left the room; her eyes remained on the door that closed behind them a restful expression came over her face.

“When you go home Grace would you consider company?” Faith had watched the fleeting changes cross her daughter’s face, also the tender look she gave the children.

“Company who exactly?” Grace was surprised at the question.

“Well, I figure as Jace and Catherine are together now they can handle the children. Jake takes care of himself mainly, how about me?” Faith replied self-consciously hoping her previous outburst could be forgiven.

“So you can make sure I don’t do something else foolish, which would endanger the baby?” She couldn’t help the cynical tinge to the words.

Faith looked embarrassed, deciding to look her daughter straight in the eyes, “No, so I can be with my daughter. Keep her company on the long journey home.”

Grace’s cheeks turned a slight pink at the words; life was far too short to hold grudges. Her mother had only voiced her own thoughts on the matter; maybe that was why it hurt so much.

“Thanks, I’d welcome the company. Two days time be okay with you, give you time to rest before you begin the return journey?”

“Yes that will be fine Grace, I’ll stop by to see Jace and Catherine and let them know I’m going with you.” Faith moved out of the sofa, as she reached the door she turned back, “thank you Grace.” leaving the room.

Grace shook her head as she stood up from her chair; the idea of a spot of sunbathing before she went home sounded good to her. Placing a gentle hand on her swelling abdomen she could feel the baby moving around, it brought a tender smile over her lips. Looks like the baby wants to sunbathe too!

* * * * * * * * * *

Catherine was lying on a sun lounger relaxing with the sun beating down on her body, clad scantily in a black bikini that didn’t leave much to the imagination. Short notice, she’d contacted a local store to send up a couple of swimsuits. However, what they considered her size didn’t equate to what she would have received at home, no it was something-different altogether. Guess the sizes vary with different makes like all the rest of the world when you went clothes shopping.

Although Jace had whistled appreciatively when she’d tried them both on before eventually selecting the midnight black one keeping the electric blue for another time.

Catherine shifted on the beach bed, watching as Jace sauntered over to her, after taking the two girls back up to the house to see Constantia and Sarah. Her eyes were shielded by the sunglasses she wore, even when sun bathing, which greatly amused Jace as she said she would end up with white circles on her face. Therefore not allowing anyone to see the expression held within them, which she was glad of at the moment, not that there was anyone to see but she was certain that passion was sparking right out of them.

Jace saw Catherine looking at her, couldn’t see the expression but she had a good idea how those sexy ice blues would be reacting. Laughing silently as her partner turned away quickly hoping not to be caught watching.

As Jace neared the beach bed, she suspected that Catherine would feign sleep, Jace allowed her to continue the masquerade. “Oh my poor darling, are you still tired? What a pity.”

Catherine heard the whispered words as Jace came close to her, as her breath fanned her cheeks. Should she pretend to sleep or wake up to find out what the ‘pity’ was all about? Well, it wouldn’t take Einstein to work out what she preferred to do.

“I’m awake Jace, how can I help you?” Catherine drawled as she opened her eyes to stare straight into her partner’s eyes.

Jace smiled, works every time she thought. Then moved swiftly allowing her to lie on top of Catherine on the bed; it was a private beach no one else was anywhere to be seen.

“Oh darling it wasn’t help I wanted.” Jace replied her voice low; yet to Catherine so very enticing it made her shiver in anticipation.

“Then please tell me what you were thinking?” Catherine gave a resonating growl as her fingers gently stroked Jace’s cheek.

“I was thinking that I would like to invite you on a date.” Jace said seriously, having to stifle a laugh as she saw the astonishment on Catherine’s face.

“A date? Jace a date? Really darling we’re married!” Catherine spluttered moving upwards with Jace now sitting on her lap smiling wickedly at her.

“Yes I know we are. Why does that preclude us from having a date?” Jace asked seriously, as she felt the body beneath her tremble slightly.

“It doesn’t…but why?” Catherine was surprised as the words sank in. She felt a glow as she considered going on a date, they hadn’t exactly had that many in their relationship it had been too intense in other ways.

“Because, I want to take the most beautiful woman I know out on a date. I’ve never asked you on a date before, it’s something I’ve wanted to do from the first day I met you.” Jace smiled as she kissed the full lips gently, which pursed as her partner considered how to answer.

Catherine felt a warmth that started at her toes travelling up to the tips of her ears, as she let the words close in around her, feeling the love Jace had for her.

“Jace thank you, I’d be delighted to go on a date with you, When? Where?” Catherine let her lips linger over her partner’s refusing to allow the woman to answer her question immediately.

When Jace was able, she breathlessly answered. “Tonight, around eight I’ll pick you up.”

Catherine laughed at the final comment as she hugged Jace to her in a loving embrace. “I love you Jace, what would I do without you, Mmmm.”

“Ah well, that’s where you’re lucky my love, because I’m here for the duration you never have to be without me, ever!” Jace sank into the embrace as she traced a finger over the exposed flesh of Catherine’s shoulders.

As they both starred with mounting passion into each other’s eyes, the blast of a horn coming from a distance could be heard. Reluctantly they both looked towards the sea; a craft was making its way towards them at speed. Three figures could just be seen as the craft edged closer to the shore.

“Jake!” Catherine laughed as she quickly kissed Jace, releasing her for the party due ashore at any time.

“We will take this up later, count on it Catherine.” Jace sneaked a quick kiss of her own as she moved off the beach bed walking over to the shore to greet their son and the others.

Catherine watched her move away swiftly; damn woman was a tease. Oh she would certainly welcome the offer later, a date too! Well, things were certainly looking up, one of her better decisions coming here instead of home, most definitely a good call.

Moving gracefully out of the beach bed, she sauntered over to stand alongside her partner at the shore side. Her hand reached down to take one of Jace’s smaller ones, knowing that was where it was meant to be.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jason looked out of the large window onto the street below, milling with people going about their everyday business. He wondered if Catherine ever just looked out of the window in contemplation, he sure liked to think so and it wasn’t just him.

A knock on the door as Rita put her head around. Her face wreathed in smiles as she saw him at the window, must be something all these chair people do, went with the position she supposed.

“Mr. Bardley? Captain Travis of the NYPD would like a quick word with you, if you can spare the time?”

“Why yes of course show him in.” Jason wondered what the officer wanted; it was probably just to let them know the outcome of the short hearing on the Rosnova woman.

“He’s refused to leave his gun with Security, I’m afraid they won’t let him into the main building.” Rita apologetically explained.

“I’m sure Security will let the Captain keep his gun, after all he’s an officer of the law, surely they are above suspicion?” Jason replied, then saw the look of surprise pass over the young woman’s face at his words.

Jason held up his hand continuing. “Sorry Rita, if the Captain will not release his weapon, tell the Security people I will be down to see him in the lobby.”

“I’ll tell them. I’ll also have the Security Chief come up and meet you; perhaps you can go over all the security measures in force as Ms. Devonshire did from time to time. You know to keep up-to-date.” Rita smiled at him pleased that he’d changed his mind without embarrassing him about security protocol.

“I think that’s a great idea Rita, yes as soon as I get back arrange that please. By the way has Constance finished her meetings?” Jason gave her a wink of the eye in acceptance of her help on perhaps a rather sensitive issue.

“No, still going strong. It sounds like old times, from where I’m sitting.” Rita knew she shouldn’t gossip, but this wasn’t really gossiping she hadn’t been listening at the keyhole had she.

“Old times?” Jason asked with interest.

“Oh yes I’ve heard raised voices, mainly Constance. That indicates she’s back into the swing of things again.” Rita smiled as she left Jason to digest that statement.

He chuckled at the thought of the woman shouting down the senior executives, wondering what she was like in full flow. If it wasn’t for the police Captain in the lobby he might have been tempted to go and see the action for himself.

He left the office to go into the elevator to the ground floor.

Captain Travis was annoyed at the delay, particularly so that the security here wanted his weapon, not a chance in hell. He was responsible for the weapon; he would make sure he knew exactly where it was. The only way he knew of doing that was keeping it with him at all times.

Pacing about the lobby, he heard someone approaching; he turned to see a smart grey haired man that he vaguely recalled hold a hand out to him in greeting.

“Captain Travis, I believe you wanted to speak with me I’m Jason Bardley.” Jason smiled at the man, also saw him quickly assess the situation.

“Of course, I’m sorry to have to bother you at work but I felt that it was important to let you know the outcome of the hearing this morning.” Travis shook the man’s hand, waiting for a reply.

“Yes, I would be interested to learn the outcome, I can relay that to my daughter and her partner. Let me see if there is anywhere we can talk. If not how would a coffee across the road sound to you?" Jason looked around for one of the security people.

“Sounds good to me, go ahead.” Travis relaxed a little after this initial encounter with this very affable man.

“Be right back.” Jason sauntered off towards the security desk, quickly finding out the answer to his question.

“There is a room that is used for cold callers to our procurement people, I've arranged for us to go there. Would you like a coffee or another type of beverage?” Jason smiled as he indicated the direction of the room as they walked towards it.

“Coffee, black is fine with me, thanks.” Travis smiled at the man gratefully. He’d come here immediately after the hearing to deliver the news to the family himself.

He’d been instructed that anything that needed to be related to the Warriorson family would go through Jason Bardley the new Chairman of Xianthos. His instructions had been explicit under no circumstances could he contact the Warriorson’s directly.

Jason ordered the drinks as he passed the receptionist. They then went inside the glass-panelled office, which overlooked the main lobby of the building from three sides. The remaining was covered in rich wood panelling that held two pictures One was a print of the current executive team the other an original oil painting of the founder of the company Stewart Devonshire.

As they sat down Travis asked who was the guy in the portrait.

“The founder of the company, Devonshire, the current owner’s Father. He built the original company from scratch back in the fifties. A very astute businessman by all accounts, had a nose for finding talent in the most obscure places. I’m told he was the epitome of the English gentleman always had the prerequisite umbrella in hand.” Jason had found out quite a lot about Devonshire in his time at Xianthos. He suspected that he might know more about Catherine’s Father than she did.

“Yeah, the English and their preoccupation with the weather, particularly rain, that’s always the portrayal in the movies anyway.” Travis replied as a young woman knocked on the door, shyly bringing in the tray laden with the coffee requested and quickly exited.

 “So, Captain you have news for me?” Jason picked up a cup of poured coffee passing it over to the Captain before filling his own.

“I thought being the Chairman of such a large operation you would have someone to do that for you?” Travis said with a twinkle in his eye.

Jason laughed as he picked up his own coffee, pouring cream generously onto the surface of the dark liquid.

“I guess I could have but I prefer to think that the staff have better and more profitable things to do than pour coffee for me.”

“Yeah I guess. You know of course that Doctor Thea Rosnova was brought before a hearing this morning on charges of kidnapping?” Travis asked slowly, they were still working on her to confess to other kidnappings, possibly the murder of one child, or at least an involvement in the murder.

“Yes I did.” Jason answered quietly, as he sipped from the steaming coffee waiting for more from the police officer.

“The judge has remanded her in prison to await trial for the said abduction, in the interim we are working towards a solution to the other kidnappings.”

“I see. What if you can’t find any connection? It appears she was a very clever woman in her ability to hide from the police for so long.” Jason replied, starring at the man directly in front of him.

“We will see, perhaps with Serena Dusterly’s help maybe we can make some real headway. Nail Rosnova for more than your granddaughter’s abduction. We might get her to give up her accomplices as well at some point. We need them off the street, while they are still around the children in this city or any other are still at risk.” Travis admitted with a look of disappointment on his features. He had personally held some of the interrogation sessions with Rosnova, she was giving nothing away, and the only time she spoke was with her lawyer.

“I will of course give the news to Lisa’s parents, thank you for taking the time to let me know. May I ask another question?” Jason broached tentatively.

“Yes, go ahead.” Travis waited for the question as he drained the remains of his coffee.

“Will Lisa or her parents have to attend the trial?” Jason had wanted to ask Catherine what she thought, but the woman had been focused on leaving the city with Lisa as soon as she could.

“The child’s testimony if we need it can be via a video link, she doesn’t even have to be in the country. Unfortunately Ms. Devonshire will have to be at the trial, she is a key witness in the retrieval of the child. As are the other’s who joined in her quest to retrieve the child” Travis explained a note of apology in his voice for having to bring back horrific memories in the future.

 “I’ll relate that to the family too, if you don’t mind that is?” Jason said quietly, he wasn’t sure how bringing back the terrible episode with Lisa would affect her.

“Not at all, Ms. Devonshire may be allowed to provide her evidence in another form but….” Travis trailed off unconvinced of that fact himself. It would end up a media circus, Rosnova’s lawyers were already talking about their client not being treated properly, and they were angling for the case to be thrown out of court. That was why he was pinning hopes that they could crack the evil bitch before the trial, making sure she got her just desserts.

“Yes, I know more than likely she will need to be here in person. She will do so if it puts the woman away for a long time. There is no doubt that she will go to prison for a long time is there Captain? I know that sometimes deals are struck that reduce the sentence, surely you have sufficient evidence to ensure she receives a very long term.” Jason had the feeling that the officer was leaving something out and it wasn’t good news.

“Leave that with us Mr Bardley, we’ll make sure Rosnova goes to prison. To be honest I wouldn’t want to be in the Governors shoes if she doesn’t.” Travis smiled, as he thought of the current State Governor going head to head with Catherine Devonshire should this case fail.

Jason laughed at the comment nodding his head; yeah he sure wouldn’t either. They finished their drinks; Travis said he would keep in touch about any changes in the situation.

Jason shook the man’s hand leaving him to go and talk with the Security Chief. Travis pulled up the collar of his rain coat as he left the impressive building to ward of the rain, as he went towards the car park, he could do with one of those English guy’s umbrella’s about now.

Jason walked towards the elevator and felt a shiver run down his back as he felt the unease return considering the Captains words again about the trial.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sarah laughed at a comical reply from Lisa as she sat on the bed trying not to fidget. That was proving impossible as she got nearer and nearer to the injured woman in the bed.

“Why did you laugh Sarah, it’s true you know.” Lisa was puzzled at the laughter from the woman in the bed.

Constantia was sitting watching the exchange between her friend and the daughter of her niece; the toddler Elena was asleep on her lap. The child had barely said hello when she had held her hands out to Constantia. With Lisa’s help the child crawled onto her lap falling instantly asleep. It brought a tender smile to her lips as she gazed down onto the dark head of the baby. The child reminded her of Catherine as a baby, but this wasn’t Catherine’s child. Therefore it must just be the colouring the child had; then again there was that scowl from the previous evening that matched a certain niece of hers.

“It’s hard to picture Catherine making noises to match a fairy story that’s all Lisa, sorry I laughed. I’m sure she makes wonderful noises to bring the story alive.” Sarah was suitable apologetic.

Lisa went closer until she was sitting only inches away from Sarah. It brought a gasp of censure from Constantia, as she considered that the child might accidentally hurt Sarah.

Lisa smiled at the old lady in the chair as she spoke. “It’s okay Constantaa… Constanti… it’s okay, because I never hurt Catherine when she was sick after her accident.”

Constantia gave the child a surprised glance that brought an even bigger grin from the child. “You look like Catherine, except you’re older. Her hair hasn’t gone grey all over yet, but she’s working on it! Did you know that she gets into more scrapes than I do, and I’m allowed.”

Now both women dissolved into laughter, and didn’t hear the door open in the room as Catherine and Jace entered the room.

“Is this a private joke or do we get to hear it too?” Catherine drawled as she neared the bed, looking at Lisa. Who gave an innocent ‘don’t know what you’re talking about’ look, then to Elena asleep on her Aunt’s knee.

“Is she too heavy Aunt, I’ll take her if you…” Catherine stopped at the raised eyebrows she received from her Aunt.

“No Catherine, the baby is fine where she is right now. Have you had a relaxing morning?” Constantia asked, smiling at Jace who came over to kiss her on the cheek. Quickly checking Elena to make sure she was still sleeping peacefully, her daughter could sleep anywhere, pretty much like she could herself.

“How are you Sarah, Lisa isn’t bothering you is she?” Catherine asked, as she sat down on the easy chair beside the bed. Jace had moved around the bed to sit on its edge, as she gently pulled Lisa towards her. Settled her in her arms stroking the red head of hair as she smiled at the family get together.

“No Catherine, actually she’s a breath of fresh air with her little anecdotes. Quite entertaining, wouldn’t you say Consty?” Sarah replied with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

“Anecdotes? Entertaining?” Catherine choked out glancing towards Jace, who gave her a grin as she turned to quizzically gaze at Lisa.

“I never said anything bad, honest!” The child smiled winningly up at Jace.

“Want to give me an example?” Catherine asked, her face stoic but inside she was laughing, yes her little princess was home.

“Lisa mentioned you have an affinity to grey and that you enjoy a little adventure in your life.” Sarah said tactfully, amused as the ice blue eyes of her best friend’s niece took on a thoughtful look at the words.

“Is that so, no doubt the grey was a reference to my hair.” Catherine ran her fingers down the temples as she felt the coarser hair she knew was as grey as Constantia’s.

Lisa looked away at the comment, but Jace chuckled at the slightly offended look on her partner’s face.

“Darling don’t worry, we still love you even with a sprinkling of grey, it makes you look very distinguished.”

Catherine’s cheeks had a pink hue to them as she saw the smouldering look in Jace’s eyes, which diffused the situation with her loving words. “Humph I think we will lose the distinguished part, thanks Jace.”

“What adventures do I partake in Lisa?” Catherine wanted to laugh at the child’s slight hesitation, and then she winked at her. Lisa dissolved into laughter as she saw the amusement and challenge in the words.

“You married Jace!” Lisa giggled, amazed at the speed that Catherine moved from her position to pick her up and hold her aloft laughing as she did so. Then began to tickle the child until she gasped for breath and conceded defeat.

Constantia looked at the happiness that was around her. She thanked God that she had been given the chance to experience this love all around her. It might be late in her life but it was here at last, and she was going to treasure every moment, every single moment.

The door to the room opened as Jake walked in grinning at the sight of Catherine tickling Lisa. This was like old times he made his way inside the room to be immediately screamed at by Elena, who had woken at the sound of the laughter, then saw her big brother.

“Jake, Jake me too.” Elena shouted, bouncing on Constantia’s lap as the woman was momentarily taken by surprise by the boisterous toddler.

Jake laughed at Elena as he shyly looked at Constantia for permission to take his sister. He smiled wider as he saw familiar ice blue eyes gaze at him warmly as she handed over the child.

“Okay you two, here we come.” Jake playfully shouted as he headed towards Catherine who had Lisa pinned down gently on the floor.

Sarah and Constantia both had the same question as they asked in unison, “are they always like this?”

Jace smiled at them, looked tenderly at her family having a playful time and thanked whatever god was listening for bringing then all together safe and sound. Turning back to the two older women she grinned. “You’ve seen nothing yet!”

* * * * * * * * * *

Lukas watched Althea stare expressionlessly over the bay from the balcony area that they used often as the breakfast room in summer. She had looked a little happier on the boat when they had gone fishing with the boy Jake. She really was quite adept with a fishing rod, had managed to bring onboard several medium sized fish suitable to take home for dinner. That was more than he could say he himself had done, the boy had finally after two hours caught his first, which then put him to shame, not that he minded at all. For Althea had actually smiled openly for the first time since the tragic events at the villa a few days before.

“Lukas I’ve made a decision.” Althea said quietly as she continued to stare at the picturesque bay scene.

Lukas smiled as he went to stand at her side to see what she was gazing so intently at. “You have? Well, I’m pleased.”

Althea heard his words; also the inflection of hesitation as if he didn’t really want to know, should it be something he disagreed on. Lukas had been her rock when she had been cast upon the seas of life, which threatened to overwhelm her. She was so very thankful for his solid shoulder to cry on, taking advantage of its solid familiarity several times in the period since her family’s death.

“I’m going home!” Althea stated, as she turned so that she could face him to clearly see his expression. She wasn’t disappointed in her original thinking, if the quickly masked expression was anything to go by.

“Home, as in your family home?” Lukas asked cautiously, she wouldn’t be happy there but at least she was on the island and he could see her.

“No, not the family home Lukas. Home where I belong is in Athens. I have a career and business interests that still need my attention. It’s where I’ve lived and made my home for several years now, it will be for the best.” Althea smiled weakly at him as she momentarily saw a flash of pain cross his face.

Lukas thought about the situation for some time before replying, Althea thought he was just going to remain silent.

“Yes, yes your career, I’d forgotten for the moment you live in Athens.” He finally responded absently.

Althea heard the pain in the few words he spoke. She’d known him for years, mainly as children. He had always been the serious one, never getting into the pranks like the other boys, certainly he was no womaniser, although he had the opportunity, he was certainly good looking. He’d been the studious type, and when his parents had sent him away to a European University, many considered that he wouldn’t ever come back to Greece. She had been more likely to end up in trouble than he would have. Although she had always liked him, the times they had spent together had always made her want to seek his company.

“I’m like you Lukas we have commitments that help us get on with our lives. I have nothing left here to make me want to return, it’s for the best.” Althea hadn’t realised what she’d implied, until it was too late. The words having left her mouth, unable to take them back she decided to wait for the reaction.

Lukas felt the sting of the words; he didn’t know how to answer. He felt she was tearing his heart to shreds with her indifference to people that still cared for her on the island. Dampening down the need to attack and inflict pain of his own, he merely placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I want you to be happy Althea, if Athens can help you achieve that, I’m happy too.”

Althea looked up into his eyes and saw the sincerity there. She felt as if she was drowning as she continued to stare into his eyes unable to break the contact. Her mind was pleased that he had accepted her decision without a fight, however, her heart felt strangely sad that he had acquiescent so easily.

“Do you think Constantia will mind if I stay until after the funeral, the Police Captain has released the bodies of George and my Mother? Once the funeral is over I will return to Athens.” Althea sadly asked.

Lukas smiled warmly at her, placing his arm further about her shoulders as he drew her towards him, giving her comfort from his words if that were possible.  “Constantia will be happy to have you stay. Will you allow me to accompany you to the funeral Althea…? I know of course it’s family but I was hoping…” he didn’t finish as he heard a faint but clearly audible voice say yes.

They looked out over the bay silently, both of them filled with questions but unable to voice them.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jace had taken the children down to the private beach and left Catherine to talk with Constantia. Sarah was sleeping, they had decided to retire to the coolness of the indoor courtyard.

“They are beautiful children Catherine, a credit to you both. Thank you for bringing them here to see me.” Constantia picked up her tea sipping the hot beverage Grace had kindly made for them.

“Well, except for Elena, we can’t exactly take any credit. For both Jake and Lisa came to us a little later in life. They are grand kids though we love them as if they were ours.” Catherine smiled as she too sipped from her tea.

Constantia tipped her head watching the profile so very familiar to her. Everyone said Catherine looked like her but she did look like her mother too, it brought a lump in her throat as she thought about her late sister. “You appear to be instilling ALL of the children with values and they are happy with you both, I would say as  much if not more so than if they were your own.”

“I’m working on the theory that you learn from experience and the values your parents teach you. I know it doesn’t always work that way, but it’s what I’d like to think anyway.” Catherine tried to explain to her Aunt with a shrug of her shoulders.

 “Then I’m sure you both will instil some wonderful values into your children. I don’t know much about these things Catherine but have you considered having any children of your own?” The older woman looked embarrassed at the question she asked.

“Aunt really, I’m married!” Catherine said with mock censure. Inside she was chuckling, this was the second time she had to inform someone she was married, and it really was quite amusing or so she thought anyway.

“I know that, but Jace had a child, couldn’t you?” Constantia asked not wanting to drop the subject; anyway Catherine wasn’t annoyed you could see the laughter in the twinkle of her eyes. That did remind her of her sister; Elena had a sense of humour that could be quite annoying at times. She would trade ten years of her life to have her sister play one of her pranks or give out one of her anecdotes just one more time.

“Jace was married at the time.” Catherine said shortly, her mind jumped to the non-return, of the adoption authorisation papers momentarily.

“I had the impression that you and Jace have been together far longer than Elena has been born, I’m sorry if I’ve stepped out of line.” Constantia apologised as she saw the hurt expression on her niece’s face.

“We have! At least… we got back together six months into Jace’s pregnancy. Her marriage was a mistake. We’ve asked the Father to agree my adoption of Elena.” Catherine was unable to keep a happy expression on her face as she thought of Peter Adamson.

“I take it the Father might be difficult?” The older woman said with compassion.

“Yes, something like that!” Catherine replied as she poured herself another cup of tea, at home she had her enormous mug here she was given a dainty cup!

“Catherine, they say that everything comes to those that wait and my dear I’m sure in this case it will be true.” Constantia felt the sadness of the situation permeate from the younger woman, feeling for her in a very profound way.

“I won’t give up any of the children Aunt, they are mine! I couldn’t love them anymore than I do, my own child would only be a bonus. I’ve thought of having a child but I’m high risk, Jace is younger so if we have a child it would be better if she became pregnant rather than me.” Catherine said quietly.

“Would you like more children, you are very good with them?”

Catherine laughed softly as she considered that question it was so easy to answer.

“Oh yes, Jace wants a football team I’m sure of it!” Constantia laughed at the comment that alleviated the tension some of the conversation had caused.

“I suppose whatever Jace wants you would like to provide?”

Catherine smiled at her Aunt, as she nodded her head at the comment.

“Your Mother and Father would be very proud of you Catherine.” Constantia said seriously then saw the shock mirror in her niece’s eyes.

Catherine was stunned at the words, had the woman lost her mind? No way would her Father be proud of her, he never had been, she still hadn’t totally atoned. Her Mother on the other hand might.

“I don’t think so Constantia, certainly not my Father anyway.”

“What do you really know about your Father Catherine?” the older woman asked sympathetically.

“Enough!” Catherine stated belligerently.

“Perhaps one day you might take the time to find out exactly who your Father was, then perhaps you wouldn’t be so judgmental. Your Mother wasn’t the paragon of virtue you make her either, she had her faults.” Constantia stated calmly.

“And you would know?” Catherine remarked scathingly without thinking.

“Yes I would know.” Constantia smiled at the challenge for if there was anyone in the world who knew her sister she certainly did.

Conceding that her Aunt might just know she looked at her with a chagrined expression. “Guess one day I’d better ask you about them.”

“I guess you had better.” Constantia smiled, as she looked at the stoic face that suddenly brightened at her words.

“What about you?” Catherine asked suddenly.

“I could say, what about me Catherine? I know you are an intelligent woman, therefore exactly what do you want to know?” Constantia traded eye contact with her niece.

“Have you ever been in love?” Catherine had often wondered as a teenager about her Aunt, had even speculated at times, although that speculation hadn’t always been nice.

“Yes, once a long time ago before you were born.” Constantia said dully.

“I guess it didn’t work out.”

“It didn’t work out that’s true, time has a way of walking by and leaving you alone. I found that to my regret.” Constantia smiled wryly surprisingly rewarded with an acknowledging smile from her niece.

“I know that feeling well, perhaps one day we might share our experiences.” Catherine remarked genuinely.

“I hope so also Catherine. Now tell me do you really make all the voices associated with a particular story you narrate to the children?” Constantia smiled warmly at her as she looked up in surprise at the question.

“Oh, so now I know what Lisa was talking about earlier!” Catherine grinned at her Aunt.

“She’s something else that elder daughter of yours Catherine, very entertaining.” Constantia laughed at the image of the child.

“Yes she is, that’s the reason I couldn’t let her out into the world so early.” Catherine said. Constantia heard the tremor in the attempt at joviality at the child’s abduction.

“So very true my dear, they grow up so fast anyway.”

“Yes they do, I’m glad that she’s going to grow up with us!” Catherine said with emotion, as both women picked up their tea in contemplative silence.

Continued in Part 18

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