|Primary Characters:||Cade, Eddie|
|Warning:||m/m sex, violence, language|
|Description:||Cade and Eddie get drunk together. That is not a good idea. Some traumatic memories from Cade’s past resurfaces, and things get out of hand.|
“Relax, man. You’re pacing like a caged lion. It’s time you had a break. Listen to me, Cade, you’ve been out there for six weeks straight, with no time off in between. I hate to say this but you are beginning to look a bit ragged.”
“And you think a weekend off would cure that?”
“Yeah, I do. I know it’s not Palm Springs or Miami Beach, but the weather is great, and there’s this lake not far from here. It could be fun. Tell you what, I’ll drive into town and get us some beer and stuff. Come on. Don’t be such a square.”
Cade’s crooked smile seemed to be saying that Eddie was way off in that assessment. After all, before he became the Twice Blessed Man, Cade had had a very varied life, to say the least. Street kid, burglar, happily married man, hunted fugitive and more. So square was the last thing that should spring to mind.
“Yeah, you. What are you afraid of? That you’re actually going to smile once in a while, or heaven forbid, laugh? We could work on that, you know. Get a couple of movies, or play some games.”
“Yes, why not? It’s fun. You have to try it.”
“No way. I might be persuaded to take the weekend off, but I draw the line at playing computer games.”
“Ok. You win. I’ll stay. But this had better be as much fun as you’re telling me -“
“Oh, it will be. It will be great. You just wait and see.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll take a shower and maybe a nap too. Can’t remember the last time I had a full night’s sleep.”
When Eddie got back, his friend was fast asleep in his bunk. It almost seemed a shame to wake him. Household chores were hardly Eddie’s forte, but the snacks and hors d’oeuvres he had picked up in town would taste great with a couple of beers. Careful not to wake Cade until everything was in place, Eddie tiptoed around, setting the table, tidying up a bit and finally, when everything was ready, he got the beers out of the fridge.
He walked over to the bunk where Cade was sleeping, and bent over to wake him. The look on his friend’s face wasn’t as tense as it usually was. Like this, he looked years younger, very vulnerable, but for once almost at peace. Eddie had to remind himself that even if Cade needed his sleep, he also needed food. So he reached down and grabbed Cade’s shoulder. Cade was instantly awake, eyes wide, body tensed to fight back the attack he seemed to have expected.
“Hey, man. It’s me. No scary alien come to steal your body.”
“Very funny. What time is it? I feel like I’ve slept for a week.”
“It’s only about 8.30. You must have slept for like six hours or so. That should do for starters. Chow’s ready, if you want it. Cold beers on the table.”
“Right. I’m coming.”
After they’d eaten, Eddie and Cade walked over to the sofa, and got down to some serious drinking. Eddie seemed to have forgotten about the movie he had been talking about earlier, and Cade, who was living the worst kind of sci fi horror story, wasn’t particularly disappointed.
“Man, this brings back memories. You know, from college. My buddies and I could party non stop for days. Long weekends back then. They seem to get shorter each year.”
“Yeah? Maybe that’s because you’re getting older. Teenagers may be made for that kind of thing, but when you get to our age, I guess a more settled life is the thing you go for.”
Pretending to consider himself of the same generation as his friend was tactful of Cade, since he was several years younger than Eddie. But his reference to a more settled life brought back the sad look in his eyes. Eddie noticed and did what he could to distract his friend. He went back to telling frat house stories and bragging about the girls he’d been out with at college. Some of those stories were actually true, but most of them were just wishful thinking.
“I always wondered how the other half lived. College sounds like some kind of madhouse.”
“You’re right about that. Man, those were the days.”
Eddie’s laugh told Cade that that was the way Eddie had liked it. And it seemed to make sense. After all, where would Crazy Eddie feel most at home, if not in a madhouse?
Cade’s own life had been very different. But it was no use dwelling on the past. In fact, he had found that it could be downright harmful at times. So he did his best to take a lively interest in Eddie’s college stories. After a while, Eddie drifted on to talk about the internet. That seemed to be what occupied his mind these days, when his and Cade’s work gave him time for it.
By then Cade was getting comfortably drunk. He hadn’t been drinking for years. Out on the street he had been grateful for any chance of numbing his mind from the hopeless drudgery of his life, but since he found a way out, he had hardly touched more than the occasional beer. Now he felt it wouldn’t matter if he let himself go. Eddie too, was showing the effects of his drinking. He was over by the computer, pressing a few keys, rummaging through a few drawers.
“Hey, you gotta take a look at this site. It’s sensational. I found it the other day. Unbelievable. Check out the hooters.”
The picture was extremely graphic, but Cade couldn’t help noticing the haunted look in the woman’s eyes.
“Look, I’m not into that stuff. It’s degrading and exploitative.”
“I know, but I’m happy to pay through the nose for something like this. Man, we’re talking hot, hot, hot.”
“No, I meant for the women.”
“Oh. How politically correct of you.”
If Eddie hadn’t been quite as drunk as he was, he would have noticed how strongly Cade seemed to feel about the issue. But as it was, he just kept on bringing up new full screen photos of half-naked women or completely naked women for that matter.
Cade had already gone back to the sofa, and was opening another can of beer. This time he really wanted to blank out his mind to the memories of his present life. Maybe he had been incredibly lucky to escape with his life to carry on the fight against the invasion from above, but he sure didn’t feel blessed. At least not twice blessed. Not like the first time he was given a new life.
“Cade? Oh, ok. Point taken. Is there any beer left?”
Eddie walked back over to the sofa, lost his footing and ended up almost sitting on Cade’s lap. But Eddie managed to twist to the side a little, and soon he was popping open the next can of beer. It was a while since he had been able to loosen up like this, and he was having a great time of it. He only hoped that Cade was too. Eddie’s mind was still on the stuff he had just downloaded, so the conversation again turned in that direction.
“Hey, Cade, remember when you had your first kiss? Your first real kiss?”
“Ok, how about the first time you got laid?”
“What are you talking about, sure you do. You have to remember something like that.”
“When did you get your first kiss?”
Now Eddie looked decidedly embarrassed.
“15. And I was 17 the first time I got laid.”
Cade didn’t reply, and Eddie took that as an expression of disbelief in the last statement, so he hurriedly amended it.
“Ok, more like 18 and a half. What about you?”
“It was a long time ago, and I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“Why not? It can’t have been that bad.”
“Yes, it was. Don’t ask.”
That only piqued Eddie’s alcoholfuzzy imagination so he began badgering Cade with questions until his friend seemed to lose patience with him. A new and wary look had crept into his eyes, but Eddie wasn’t really paying attention.
“Alright, I was 13.”
“You heard me. Is there any more beer left?”
“Help yourself. But that’s the last one. I’ve got some wine, but don’t drink that. It’s been standing around since last week. I should pour it out. So, what was she like?”
“What was your first one like?”
“She was nice. Smart.”
“Pretty too. In a way.”
“Good for you.”
“So, come on. I want to hear all about it.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Sure I do. What’s the big secret? Oh, I get it. She was older than you, right?”
“He. Are you happy now? He was older than me.”
“Wait a minute. You’re not gay, are you?”
“No, I’m not.”
“I thought not. I mean, you were married.”
“That was the happiest time of my life.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to remind you of that. So, are you going to explain or what?”
“Explain about what?”
Cade was finishing the last can of beer and was looking around for something stronger. This wasn’t really working out. Eddie’s questions had only opened up some painful old memories that had long been buried in the recesses of his mind. He was good at forgetting stuff, which was useful, because there was a lot he needed to forget. But he couldn’t evade the question any longer. There was no doubt about what Eddie was asking about.
“I’d rather not. My wife was my first real girlfriend. And now you know all that is worth knowing. Look, I need to take a leak. I’ll be back in a sec.”
“Sure. Take your time.”
Eddie just remembered that he had some gin left from last summer when he had had a few guests over. He decided to dig that old bottle out. He knew that he had opened it, but he was pretty sure it would still be around somewhere.
Cade really took his time, and when he returned, Eddie had found the gin bottle and brought some glasses. He looked up at Cade, who looked far from as happy as he had a while back. The conversation seemed to have caused the change, and that definitely hadn’t been Eddie’s intention.
“Hey, look what I found. Do you like gin?”
“Whatever. Fill it up.”
Cade had already finished the first glass, while still standing. It surprised Eddie, but he shrugged and humored his friend. Gin wasn’t his favorite drink, but at this time of the night, he would happily drink anything as long as it wasn’t fermented buffalo milk.
To his surprise, Cade appeared to have changed his mind about talking, and was actually volunteering some information. Apparently he was at the stage where confidences and teary eyed confessions were forthcoming. Eddie had a few of his own that he needed very little encouragement to share with anyone who would listen.
“My mom died of cancer when I was still a kid. She’d been sick for a long time, and anyway, there were a lot of us, and very little money. So I did what my two older sisters did. Worked a little extra after school. When my mom died there was just my stepfather. He was drinking, and beat the crap out of us half the time. So I couldn’t wait to get away from home.”
“I used to work after school too. In a shoe store mostly, and one summer in a burger place. Man, talk about getting greasy hair.”
At that, Cade laughed bitterly. It was clear that he and Eddie had lived in completely different worlds.
“But I didn’t work in a store, or a burger place.”
“Oh. Here, let me refill that for you.”
“But go on. I’m interrupting you, aren’t I?”
“No. But I’ll go on anyway. When I was 15 I managed to get a date with a girl who lived in our street. She was – Well, let’s just say that all the other guys had been out with her too. You know what I mean?”
“Yes, I know what you mean. Sounds all too familiar in fact.”
Eddie didn’t know what to make of Cade’s tone, so he just went on. His brilliant mind was now working on the same level as any drunk male out with the guys on a Saturday night.
“The other girls at school wouldn’t give me the time of day, so this Anna said she’d go out with me. All I can remember is the flavor of her gum. She didn’t take it out. Got it? She still had the gum in her mouth when she kissed me. But it was great anyway.”
“I’ll bet it was.”
“So, did you guys watch a movie together or what?”
“What are you talking about?”
“That guy. You know, your first time.”
“No. It wasn’t a friend.”
“I don’t get it.”
“No, I can see that you don’t. So I guess I’m going to have to spell it out. Excuse me for not having any charming little memories of girlfriends to share with you. He paid me to do it. Cash.”
“I don’t know. Some man my sister set me up with. He said she didn’t do it for him, and then she fixed that up for me.”
“You mean -?”
“What did you think I meant? I can’t put it any more plainly than that, can I? This guy picked me up in his car, and we went to this empty parking lot behind a school, and I gave him a blowjob. That’s all. Of course I remember. How could I forget something like that?”
“Man, I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I am too. But we needed the money. I bought some school books for it, believe it or not. And when I brought them to school all I could think about was that if old mr Jenner knew how I paid for them, he’d freak. Probably didn’t even know what a blowjob was.”
“Hey, Cade, I’m a real idiot. I’m sorry I brought this up.”
“What’s the matter? I guess the truth isn’t pretty. Maybe I should have made something up. Like I did back then. Let’s see, what would you like to hear? Yeah, this should do. Laura Winter. She was a senior. I told my friends that we did it. Wrote her name on the bathroom wall. They probably believed me. But most of us said we’d been with her.
Want me to go on? I did blowjobs for about 3 years, then I graduated to more advanced stuff. But this guy I met, he took me in and taught me to pick locks. That was my big break, so I could give up turning tricks after about a year. Except for him. I went on sleeping with him for another year or so, until he was shot by the cops. But that was ok, I already knew enough to get by.”
“So, all those tricks were men?”
“Most of them. I had a few couples. I loved that. Some of those old guys really got off on watching their wives with another guy. I could pretend they weren’t there. Just me and that woman. Always some rich, classy chick too. A bit old, but hey, I wasn’t picky. Anyone with boobs worked for me.”
“This wasn’t such a good idea, I guess. And I thought I was going to cheer you up.”
“I guess I’m not helping your mood either. Let’s see if I can’t make this more interesting. When was the last time you got laid?”
“Look, Cade. Just drop it, ok. My mistake. Tomorrow we’ll go fishing, right? Or swimming. Whatever you want.”
“Whatever I want? It’s been a long time since anyone asked me what I want. Come to think of it, no one ever did, except my wife. Go on, when was it?”
“Three years ago, almost.”
“Then I guess you’re really horny by now. With all that internet porn lying around. Did she suck you?”
“Cade. Don’t do this.”
“Come on. Don’t be shy. She didn’t, did she?”
“No. I only had someone do that for me once, and that was in college.”
“How would you like a freebie?”
“What? Cade, you should get to bed. You’re freaking me out.”
“You should accept, you know. Catch it while it’s on offer. I haven’t done this in years, but they say you never forget how. Or was that riding a bike? That’s one thing I never learned to ride. Did just about everything else, though. Not horses and not bikes, but just about everything or everyone else.”
“Ok, this is it. I’m going to bed. Sleep it off. We’ll talk in the morning.”
Cade didn’t answer. Eddie hardly recognized his friend when he was like this. This new behavior was so totally unexpected, and almost frightening in its intensity. Eddie had never seen Cade this miserable and yet he insisted on turning the knife in the wound again and again. Eddie grabbed Cade’s arm and tried to propel him towards the bunk he was using when he was staying in the trailer.
That was a mistake. Cade slid closer and put his arms around him. Hampered by his concern for his friend, Eddie didn’t shove him away quite soon enough. He had never kissed a guy before, and it was something he had never planned to do. But it was pleasant in a way. It really had been a long time. In the cramped space it was difficult to manoeuver and when they turned around, they got their legs entangled, so they fell down on Eddie’s bunk.
Cade ended up on top, and he never stopped touching Eddie all over. It still wasn’t too late to break it up, but for some reason Eddie was reluctant to do so. Maybe it was the alcohol, but this strange situation attracted him in a way. Someone young and good looking, was lying on top of him, trying to get his clothes off. Those hands that were moving across his skin seemed to know exactly what to do and how.
Eddie didn’t remember any of his dates ever being this good. After another kiss, Cade managed to pull up Eddie’s t-shirt, and what he was doing to Eddie’s nipples finished the conflict in Eddie’s mind. This felt far too good to turn it down. In fact, by now, Eddie himself was trying to get his clothes off.
Encouraged by that, Cade slid further down his friend’s body, and found the belt buckle. It was giving him trouble, so Eddie had to help him. Once that was open, Cade had free access to the buttons underneath. His fingers were clumsy from the alcohol he had consumed in far too short a time, but eventually he was in. Now Eddie could feel himself being fondled through the fabric of his shorts.
Before Eddie had time to think, Cade’s head had moved down into position. This was the moment to put a stop to this foolishness. But Eddie found that he didn’t want to. Somewhere a little voice inside his head was whispering a warning but he refused to listen. It had been far too long, and this felt so great.
Without knowing how his hands got there, he realized that he was holding on to Cade’s hair, and pressing his head closer to him. After that his memories got a little disjointed. Suddenly, he became aware of something missing. Cade was no longer down there. He was lying face down, beside him.
Eddie was prepared to give it up for the night. Even if things didn’t go further, it had been pretty darn fantastic. But as Cade’s meaning filtered through to him, he was alarmed enough to pull out of his daze and raise himself up on his elbow.
“No. I can’t. You’ll hate yourself in the morning, and I’ll hate myself too. I can’t do this to you.”
“Sure you can. This is the first time I’m giving it away for free, so you should appreciate it.”
“Cade, stop. I won’t. This was a mistake, but if we stop now maybe we won’t hate each other in the morning.”
“Don’t tell me about hate. But suit yourself. It’s your loss.”
Cade rolled over on his side and pulled up one of the sheets.
Eddie felt strange. Now that his mind was clear, the feelings of remorse and self loathing were overwhelming him. He got out of bed, pulling the rest of the covers over his friend. Cade seemed to have gone to sleep, but even if he hadn’t, Eddie sure wasn’t going to talk to him. Not right now.
After a trip to the bathroom, where he showered for far longer than he should have, considering the level in the tank, he got dressed and lay down on the sofa. It was hours before he could relax enough to fall asleep.
His conscience was bothering him. How could he have done something like that? And worst of all, how could he have done it to Cade? His friend had been vulnerable, and in such a state Eddie should merely have tried to get him to go to bed. And instead he had just joined the apparently long line of men who had used Cade ever since he was a kid.
When he finally fell asleep, Eddie didn’t wake up until way past noon. He tried to sit up, but had to give up the idea right away. His head was feeling too big and the pounding in his temples was reminding him uncomfortably of the snacks he had had last night. The thought of eating almost made him throw up.
When the room had stopped spinning around him, he sat up. Careful not to rush himself, he finally managed to get on his feet. After half a glass of orange juice, that he had to fight to keep down, he went into the bathroom. When he had brushed his teeth, he felt a little better.
Not until then did he think to check on Cade. Belatedly his conscience struck him. How would Cade be feeling after last night? Though he had deliberately forced his thoughts away from what had happened between him and his friend, he could remember it all far too clearly. In the bright light of day, the memory turned his stomach. But most of all he felt so very sorry for Cade.
Where was he anyway? The bed was empty, and there was no sign of him anywhere. Eddie went outside to look for his friend, and even called his name a few times. The only reply he had were outraged birds screeching at him for disturbing their peaceful Sunday afternoon.
Back inside again, Eddie noticed that all Cade’s stuff was missing too. For some reason this parting was much worse than any other time. And he knew far too well why: Because this time he was the one who had driven his friend away.
Eddie slumped down on the sofa, and buried his face in his hands. He didn’t cry. That wasn’t his way, but he felt totally and utterly helpless. They had been drunk and it had been very unwise to watch all that porn together, but even so, there was no excuse. Cade should have been able to expect better from his friend.
What if he never came back? If he never got in touch again? Eddie realized that his life would be empty without this cause that made him feel needed and of some value to anyone. He didn’t want to go back to being simply Crazy Eddie. And he worried about his friend. Surely Cade couldn’t go back to his old lifestyle? But maybe he would prefer to do that, rather than accept his friend’s money.
It struck Eddie that to Cade their arrangement might be too much like his earlier source of income. But it only made sense that the one of them who did have a regular income of a sort would finance the fight against the aliens. Cade had to get back in touch. He just had to. It couldn’t end like this.
All the rest of that day, and the next, Eddie sat by the phone a worried frown on his otherwise so amiable face. He couldn’t concentrate on anything. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Now it had been almost a week. Cade still hadn’t been heard from. What was he going through? Eddie almost decided to move the trailer to some other location. Anything, to stop this endless waiting. On Friday night finally something happened to distract Eddie from his worrying.
From time to time, especially before he had met Cade, Eddie had been chatting on the internet. He was a regular in many far from mainstream, little known, chat rooms. Over the years he had made a few online friends, and among them, there was one particular favorite.
A woman, or at least Eddie thought she was, that he only knew by her nickname, Arachne. They emailed each other regularly, and although they never went into any details about their material circumstances, Eddie had felt that on a mental plane they had connected. Whenever the little icon that said yougotmail flashed, he was hoping it would be from her.
That Friday, when Eddie was feeling about as miserable as he ever had, since the time he was turned down by Krissie Schuman right before his high school prom, in the cafeteria in front of his entire class, there was an email from Arachne.
He had never felt quite as happy to see her name as that day. And when he clicked it, and the mail popped up, he felt even better. She was finally coming to see him. In person. All they had to do was find a way of exchanging directions for a safe meeting place. That wasn’t quite as easy as merely phoning up and making the arrangements, but since this was what they did, they found a way of dealing with the problem.
Some time in the early hours of Saturday morning his guest arrived. Eddie had expected her either earlier or later, and he had finally fallen asleep, waiting for her, or for any sign of life from Cade.
The sound of someone knocking on his door woke him up instantly. Ever since meeting Cade, he had slept lighter, fearing one of their enemies would find him. But in all this time, no one had even come close, after that first time, when Cade had saved his life. The thought of Cade led him to expect his friend, before he remembered his guest.
“Cade, is that you?”
“No, it’s me. Trish.”
“Arachne. A bit ostentatious, I know. Anyway, my real name is Trish. Patricia actually, but don’t call me that. I guess I never mentioned that before. Are you going to let me in?”
“Sorry. Just a sec.”
Fumbling blindly for the lightswitch, Eddie was finally able to get the door open. The woman who was standing out there was wearing some slightly hippie-esque clothes. That was unexpected. Eddie had never really thought about how she would look, or even how old she would be. When she walked into the trailer and the light fell on her face, Eddie saw that she was probably a few years older than him. That certainly didn’t bother him.
She was an unusual-looking woman, though not at all unattractive. Her features were sharp, but not unpleasant, and he loved her rich, deep brown hair, that fell to he shoulders like brown silk. Eddie became aware of the fact that he had been standing there for fully a minute, staring at his guest, and it dawned on him that she might find that a bit impolite.
“Alright, I think you know every inch of my face by now. So can I sit down or what? You know, I’ve been travelling non-stop from California in the van.”
“Sorry. I guess I’m still a little overwhelmed by this.”
“If you want, I can go find a motel in the morning. The last thing I want is to be a hassle.”
“You’re not a hassle. This is great. Sit down, please. Can I get you anything?”
“Sure. A drink would be nice.”
“Uh, um. I’m fresh out. Orange juice or coffee, that’s about it.”
“Ok. I’ll have the orange juice then. Any more coffee, and I’ll be wired enough not to sleep for days. I’ve been swigging coffee ever since I left Pasadena.”
“Ok. Just a sec.”
Eddie returned with a glass of juice for his guest. He sat down next to her, but in a flash there was a painful reminder of what had happened there, less than a week ago. Superficially this situation mirrored the incident with Cade, yet it was all so very different.
A woman he found very attractive, and, he had to remind himself, someone that he knew really well, despite the fact that he had never seen a photo of her, or met her in person. They had spoken on the phone several times, and he had to admit that her appearance was just as intriguing as her voice had been.
Again, Eddie caught himself studying her eyes, her hair, the way she held the glass. He hadn’t thought he would be attracted to someone this soon after meeting her, but he found that he had been wrong.
“What? Do I have something in my hair?”
“No. I guess I was staring again. Sorry.”
“Is anything caught between my teeth then?”
Eddie smiled again. “hen he smiled his face was transformed . It changed the whole look of him.
And Trish was smiling back at him. The smile revealed a slightly crooked tooth, but it was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen, at least it seemed that way to him that night. Or maybe it was just the sleep deprivation talking.
“So, who is Cade?”
“I see. Close friend?”
“He’s probably my best friend in the whole world.”
“Were you expecting him now?”
“No. I never know when he’s going to show up.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but are the two of you – involved?”
“No. Definitely not.”
But the question had caught him off guard, and he could see Trish studying his reaction with interest. Shit. Now she was going to get the wrong idea about them, but he knew that trying to explain himself more would only make her more suspicious. So he just smiled and offered her one of the bunks. Apparently she was tired enough to accept without hesitation, and their first conversation ended.
Cade was running blindly into the night. It was madness. So close to the new moon there wasn’t enough light to see by. He could fall and hurt himself, but that never even entered into his mind. Even it had, he wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Nothing could compare to this inner torment that had awakened inside his mind.
It would be so easy to blame Eddie. After all, he hadn’t been any different from the rest. But that wasn’t what kept repeating itself in slow motion over and over again in Cade’s mind’s eye. This all came down to him. No matter how much time passed, no matter how far he came he would never outrun his past.
Someone or something must have been watching over him that night, because when the sun’s first rays climbed up over the horizon, he found himself right beside the main road. He didn’t have long to wait, before the first truck driver came by, and after that it was only a matter of time before someone slowed down and picked him up.
As always, there was a lump in his throat whenever he had to depend on strangers. Would it happen this time? And if not, when? He had no doubts in his mind, sooner or later it would all begin again. Blessed or not.
It might not have been Cade’s state of mind that caused him to run straight into one of Colonel Grace’s traps, but his emotional state was without a doubt responsible for his inability to find a way out of the trap before it closed.
Whatever the reason, he found himself locked up in a cell at a local police station. It was a small town, one that he had never even heard of, and his only luck was the fact that Colonel Grace herself was detained on another urgent matter overseas.
That, and the weather conditions. Cade hadn’t really been paying attention to the sky, but it appeared that one of the worst twisters of the decade was heading straight for him. Beaten and bruised, he lay on his berth in the bare cell.
Not even the catcalls and whistles from the other inmates further down the corridor got through to him. Left to himself, he soon fell into a shallow and dream ridden sleep. While he was out of things, developments moved ahead at an alarming rate.
When he woke up to the sound of howling winds, and the shaking of the seemingly solid concrete building, he found himself alone in an empty police station. Alone except for one well dressed woman, who was seated just outside the door to his cell. All the other prisoners had been evacuated along with the local officers.
But Colonel Grace’s best man, who in this case was a woman, had strict orders not to let her prisoner out her sight. So while the storm wreaked havoc on Clarksville, Va, pop: 3756, she was forced to remain in a building that had seemed solid and dependable only hours before.
Now it shook ominously like a house of cards. Her last update on the weather conditions had predicted that she would have at least six hours of uncertainty before the storm had moved on further east.
She was fascinated to finally see the notorious Cade Foster. The average sheriff department might never see a poster featuring Foster as one of America’s most wanted. But everything she had heard about the man so far, indicated that he might be the most interesting criminal of the 90’s.
Agent Angelica Craig didn’t think the photos did him justice. She had rarely seen a more attractive man, but from what she had read about him, he was supposed to be a ruthless killer, who had murdered his own wife, and if you listened to Colonel Grace, posed the most serious threat to national security since the end of WWII.
The way he looked right now, he didn’t seem to be capable of killing anyone, far less threaten national security. Angelica was slightly disappointed. If the man was such a monster, shouldn’t it be possible to see it, at least in his eyes? Over the years she had learned that no matter how ordinary and harmless the psychopaths might look at first glance, it was always the eyes that gave them away.
This man’s eyes seemed to convey such a depth of despair, that Angelica for a moment found herself doubting they had the right man. But there could be no mistake. Fingerprints and other distinguishing marks matched. This was Cade Foster. Angelica wasn’t in the habit of forming unprofessional attachments to the perps. Or the suspects, as they had been taught at the Academy.
But Colonel Grace’s maxim was guilty until – in fact it was always guilty with no exceptions. Shoot first, ask questions later were her general orders. But when it came to Cade Foster, that was not so. It had seemed to Angelica that there was some kind of personal score to settle between them. She had never seen the Colonel this worked up about anything. This was definitely far more than an average case.
“There’s a twister heading in this direction. In fact it’s already here. Everyone’s been evacuated. So it’s just you and me, Foster.”
“I see. Well, you know my name.”
Angelica debated whether or not to take up the challenge. There was obviously an unspoken question in that statement. She really had no reason to keep her name a secret, so she decided to humor him.
If things continued as they were, she was in for a very long and quite unsettling night. Talking to the suspect would help while away the long hours. But she was honest enough to herself to admit that there was another more compelling reason.
He intrigued her. The crimes of which he had been suspected were gruesome, but paradoxically enough, all Angelica’s professional and personal instincts told her that he was a gentle spirit, and nowhere was there any sign of the viciousness that it would take to commit such crimes.
And she couldn’t deny to herself that those eyes were not the eyes of a psychopath. Unless he suffered from a dissociative personality disorder, or whatever the current phrase was, she couldn’t believe he was such a monster the reports claimed.
“I’m agent Craig.”
Maybe it was the incident with Eddie that had once again opened Cade’s eyes to the way people reacted to him, but for whatever reason he had no doubts that this woman was attracted to him. It might have bothered him, but it didn’t. Somehow it reassured him.
Not only men found him attractive. Women, and even women like agent Craig, actually appreciated him too. It was just such a shame he couldn’t have met her at a better time. Not that he was ready to pursue a relationship this soon after his wife’s death. In fact, Cade found it hard to believe that he would ever get over it. But the look in agent Craig’s eyes distracted him from the confusion and chaos he had run from.
He could sense none of the animosity he remembered coming from Colonel Grace. This was someone doing her job, nothing more. And she even seemed sympathetic up to a point.
What if he could talk to her, explain about what was really at stake, make her understand? If only he could get her to listen to his story without prejudice. But he had tried too many times before, and no one had believed him. Why would this be any different from those other occasions?
“You know why, Cade. Just look at her look at you. Half your work is done already. You can do it. If you can do it to your best friend, surely you can do it to this stranger.”
“No! Not again. I can’t be like that anymore. It took me years to be able to face myself in the mirror. I don’t want those days back again. And she doesn’t deserve being treated that way.”
Cade wanted to cover his ears to stop the monologue playing inside his head. Something of that struggle must have been visible on his face, because he could see agent Craig staring at him in surprise. He opened his mouth to say something, anything. Whatever it took to distract him from this drama inside his mind.
“What did Colonel Grace tell you about me?”
Angelica looked up again, studying her prisoner carefully in the flickering light cast by the bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. This was unreal. She hadn’t believed there were cells like that, outside of movies. And she hadn’t expected that question. What was he trying to accomplish? But again, she decided that there were no secrets she risked giving away. And the night seemed to go on forever.
“Nothing more than what’s in your file. And that she wants you alive. Maybe you can tell me why she’s so eager to get her hands on you?”
“No. I couldn’t tell you what’s going on in her mind. You’re the one who ought to know her.”
“Tell me something. Why did you kill your wife?”
“I didn’t. But I don’t expect you to believe me. No one else has.”
“And you still maintain that aliens killed her?”
“What’s the point? You won’t listen to me anyway. But yes, everything is in that file. While the authorities waste time pursuing me, everything is going ahead as they’ve planned.”
“They? The aliens?”
“I’m surprised you didn’t make up something more credible.”
“No doubt you think I’m delusional. But have you ever considered why it is so important to catch a poor madman like me? You’re the one who told me how eager Colonel Grace is to get me alive. Why do you think that is, if I’m merely a lunatic who killed my wife for some reason you normal people couldn’t understand?”
That was something Angelica had pondered over the months she had been working on this case. It was a valid point. The answer seemed to be that even though she was supposed to have access to all the relevant documentation concerning this case, there had to be more. Information that was classified, and for which her security clearance wasn’t enough. And that information had to be what was driving Colonel Grace.
But Angelica’s studies in psychology told her that there had to be even more to it than that. If she hadn’t known any better, she would have diagnosed her own superior as the one who was emotionally unbalanced. Angelica had never seen anyone hate so intensely. It was almost as if there was some personal grudge behind all this. But for all she knew, Colonel Grace and this man didn’t even know each other.
Still, it wouldn’t do to let this handsome criminal turn her head. In her years working in the field, Angelica had never let her personal feelings influence her. She was here to do her job, which was to guard the prisoner until he could be transferred to more suitable facilities, not to analyze his bizarre story to try and make sense of it.
But what was nagging at the back of her mind was the question of why Colonel Grace had explicitly forbidden any of her agents to interrogate Cade Foster. What was she hoping to hide? But she wasn’t going to get any answers without talking to the prisoner so she decided to change the direction of the conversation.
“Tell me about your wife. You say you loved her.”
“I did. More than my own life. If there was any way I could have saved her life, I would have. Even if it meant dying in her place.”
Touching. But excessive love could turn to hate if the object of the obsessed party’s affections turned out to have some flaw in the perfection.
Angelica’s train of thought was interrupted by the sound of the wind picking up. In fact it was roaring like some enraged monster trying to get inside. The entire structure was shaking, and the groaning and whining of the nuts and bolts that were giving up the uneven struggle of holding the building together, didn’t give her much hope for the remainder of the night. Even if she had been shouting, she couldn’t have made herself heard.
Before she could even finish that thought, the windows on the southeast side of the building broke, and the shards of glass exploded into Cade’s cell. The lethal projectiles shot through the air, and it was just Angelica’s training that made her drop to the floor in time to save her from taking some of them right in the face. After the worst noises died down she looked up tentatively, to try and assess the degree of destruction around her. Then she remembered the prisoner.
Angelica got up, pressing her face to the bars in the padded door, and looked in. Her prisoner was lying on the ground. He wasn’t moving, but there was no blood that she could see. Not that there was much light to see from. For a while the regular electric light had gone out, and there had been a second or two of complete darkness. But the police station obviously had a backup system, and now there was a weak, flickering light, just enough to guide her. It irritated her, but she couldn’t deny that her hands were shaking a little.
Back home there weren’t any twisters, and she wasn’t used to this kind of destruction hitting in such a short time. Finally she found the key to the cell door. The sheriff had told her where he kept it, but she hadn’t intended to use it, so it hadn’t really registered.
For a second it seemed as if the door was stuck, but finally she was able to pry it open. Then some traces of caution resurfaced and she put her hand in her pocket to get her gun. She took it out, and aimed it at the motionless figure on the floor.
He looked up at her. The look in his eyes seemed as close to panic as she felt. The relief she felt when she knew that he was ok didn’t have much to do with her ambition for her work.
“Are you ok?”
They spoke at the same time. It felt a bit awkward, as if they were on a first date.
“Yes, I’m fine, what about you?”
“Yes. I don’t know how, but I managed to hit the floor in time.”
Angelica was pulling the door closed again, but Foster held out his hand in a pleading gesture.
“Please. Take me away from here. We can’t stay here. This building is coming apart at the seams. Cuff me, but please let’s go.”
“My orders were to keep you here, and not let you out of my sight.”
But she was already weakening in her resolve. How could she stay here and watch him if she herself didn’t manage to stay alive in the process? As if he was reading her mind, he spoke again.
“You won’t be able to hand me over to Colonel Grace if we’re buried under tons of rubble.”
He was right about that. But she was alone here, and regulations required two officers being present during any prisoner transfer. Still, this was an emergency. It couldn’t be helped. The storm was picking up again, and she had a feeling they didn’t have much time.
“Ok. Face down on the floor again. Make no sudden movements.”
His eyes seemed to plead with her, but he did as she told him to. It was awkward manoeuvering both the cuffs and the gun, but she managed to get past him, stepping over the pieces of glass. She kneeled at his side, pressing the gun into the small of his back, while working the cuffs over his wrists.
Just as she was about to close them, she felt Foster explode into action, twisting away from her. Angelica was about to pull the trigger but something was holding her back. And Foster didn’t seem to want to make the decision to run away. He was standing by the door, and it would have been the easiest thing in the world just to slam it shut and make a run for it. What was he waiting for?
He was actually asking her to come with him. This man was nothing like she had expected him to be. Slowly, Angelica put away the gun and the cuffs, and got up. It was useless. He had called her bluff, and she was lucky he didn’t seem about to use that against her. By now, he should have already killed her, if he had been the man the reports said. But she wasn’t happy about her own performance tonight, not at all.
She kept walking, following Foster out into the corridor. Until now she hadn’t even considered where they were going. There had to be somewhere safer to be, maybe a basement, or at least a sort of closet without windows.
Foster was going for the front door, but when he had it open, the wind slammed it shut again. It didn’t seem as if he knew that much more about the weather conditions than she did. So she made an effort to regain the initiative.
“We’re going to have to stay here.”
He looked at her with those sad eyes again. It was obvious that he wanted to make his escape, now that she didn’t seem to be about to stop him. But his sense of selfpreservation prevailed.
Angelica looked around to find somewhere a little less exposed. The sheriff’s office seemed to be a little more secluded than the rest of the station. There was a window, but if she was remembering correctly, there were at least heavy shutters. And the big desk seemed to offer some kind of security. Without waiting for Foster she got behind it and tried to make herself comfortable on the floor.
It wasn’t working very well, but at least she wouldn’t get a head full of glass shards. If only the roof stayed on, she thought they might make it. She looked up to see Foster standing over her. What was he waiting for? An invitation? Angelica gave him an impatient look. If he wasn’t going to brave the winds outside, he might as well find a safe place and wait it out. When the morning came, they would figure something out.
“If you think you can find somewhere better in here, won’t you show it to me? I’d be happy to move, as long as it’s to someplace better.”
For a second it seemed as if he was still hesitating, but then he made his decision and got down beside her. Up close like this, Angelica could see every bruise on his face. Most of her colleagues didn’t think twice about overdoing it, just so they could curry favor with the boss.
Angelica had seen the satisfied look in Colonel Grace’s eyes, the few times they had had Foster in custody. Each bruise, each cut, pleased her immensely, it seemed. That sort of thing revolted Angelica. If she had to use force while apprehending a prisoner, usually a woman, she always hated it, and was never rougher than she needed to.
Of course, she had been around on one particular occasion when a cop killer had been apprehended. It was a man who had killed a police officer and his entire family in cold blood, and the officers who finally cornered him had been out to kill him. Fortunately for them, he gave them every excuse to do so.
But even if they never got reprimanded for what they had done, Angelica still remembered the pack mentality they had exhibited. The mutilated remains of the man’s body still gave her nightmares. On the other hand, this was a suspect that was considered dangerous. She couldn’t sit here and pity him for every bruise, cut and scar on his handsome face.
He must have noticed her close scrutiny, because he lowered his gaze shyly. Shyly? A man who was wanted in all 48 landlocked states. Angelica almost smiled at the absurdity of her idea. But she didn’t think she was wrong. Either this man had been framed, or else someone somewhere had made a big mistake.
She wasn’t sorry he had managed to get away from her. Of course, there was still time to get him back. If he fell asleep, she might manage to cuff him again. And this time she wouldn’t be so easy to divert. But she had made her decision, and she wasn’t in the habit of going back once her mind was made up. With all the racket the storm was making it would be impossible to sleep anyway.
“So, what are we going to talk about now?”
“You want to talk to me?”
“Did you have anything else in mind? Ok. Do you sing?”
“Or do magic tricks? You heard me. This is going to be a long night, and since sleep seems to be out of the question, maybe you have some suggestion about what we can do.”
Cade might have, but he firmly repressed that impulse. Agent Craig wasn’t flirting with him, and even if she was, he wouldn’t fall into that trap again. But this was his chance. If she was willing to hear him out, maybe he could find a way to convince her. To have someone on the inside working for him would be too good to be true. But he didn’t have much hope for that.
Still, what was it the judge cautioned the jury with? During both the trials Cade had lived through, he had heard it said, even though he wasn’t paying much attention. Reasonable doubt. That was it. If he could get her to feel reasonable doubt, maybe that would start her thinking on her own. That might be all it took. Once she started digging, she would find something. There had to be something lying around to be found.
“Well, it’s not exactly magic. But I could tell you a fantasy story, or rather a sci fi story.”
“It sounds intriguing. Ok, we have time on our hands, so go ahead.”
“Rise and shine, sleepy head.”
“Relax, Eddie, it’s just me. Trish. I made you some breakfast. But you’ll have to do without milk with your cereal. I had to throw it out. Don’t you ever go through that fridge of yours? I swear I could see some stuff that was left over since the Bush administration.”
“Yeah, well, it’s got sentimental value now. I might even get it declared a national landmark.”
“Right. Are you going to lie there all day, or do you want to get up?”
“Ok, ok. Just give me a second. I’ll have a shower.”
“I’m afraid not. I think I used up the last water. But don’t worry about it. We’ll go into town later and pick up supplies.”
Half an hour later, Eddie was dressed and ready for a new day. Somehow, he had never figured Arachne, or Trish, as this energetic. All the other hackers he knew were like himself, untidy and lazy.
But it felt great to have someone around, who cared enough to order him about. Eddie had never lived with a woman before, and his roommates at college had been just like him. Trish even did the dishes, but when she saw his reaction, she turned to him, smiling.
“Don’t worry about it, Eddie. I’m not going to make a habit of it. Just thought I’d make a good impression.”
She dried her hands on the apron, which Eddie didn’t even remember he had. It must have been a gift from one of his more humorous buddies.
“Do you want to go into town now?”
“Yes, why not? I should have thought to do some shopping before you arrived. Not used to guests, I guess.”
“Except for your friend Cade?”
“Yes. Ok, I’m ready when you are.”
Outside, Eddie saw her car for the first time. It was a big van, so obviously Trish wasn’t used to travelling light. On the other hand, she might be using that to crash in, so maybe that was the reason. He offered to use his own car, and she accepted.
Soon they were pulling out onto the highway, driving east towards the nearest town. It seemed Trish had something on her mind, but she was having a hard time getting it out. Eddie suspected that she wanted to ask him about Cade. If that was true, maybe she had a personal interest in him.
Eddie couldn’t help hoping that might be the case, because from the moment he had seen her, he knew he was hopelessly infatuated with her. She was the sort of woman he had never even dreamed he would ever get near. Not the kind of woman he could download from the internet, but the real thing. But when she opened her mouth and began her story, it was nothing like he would have expected.
“I owe you an explanation, Eddie. We’ve known each other how long? Almost three years, I think. As internet acquaintances go, that’s a long time. And in all this time, we’ve never discussed meeting in person.”
“I never thought you’d want to.”
“There were times when I was sorely tempted, but I’ve been wrong before, so I didn’t want to risk it.”
“Really? Tempted to come and see me?”
“You heard me. Why is that so hard to believe? Maybe I haven’t seen your face until now, but I feel we’ve become very close anyway. In a deeper sense.”
“That’s how I felt too.”
“But like I said, I didn’t want to blow it. Now, on the other hand, I didn’t have much choice. The cops are on to me.”
“What have you done?”
“I’m not really sure about that myself. And the less you know the better. Still, I suppose you can guess that it’s my hacking that’s gotten me in trouble. That’s all I’m going to say about it, at least right now.”
“Ok. Fair enough. Go on.”
“I want you to know that I think you’re safe. They didn’t get any of my contacts. And my disk drive is in the van. So you should be in no immediate danger. If you were, I would have told you right away last night.”
“Yes, but it might still be prudent to move on in a day or two. I wouldn’t have stayed put for this long if it hadn’t been for -“
Eddie stopped himself at the last second. He had been about to go into the whole mess with Cade. That was how close he and Trish had become in just a few hours. But if he told her about that his chances with her would be non-existent, if there even was a chance to begin with. He could see Trish regarding him with some interest. But he forced himself to turn his attention back onto the road.
“Yes? Anything you’d like to tell me about?”
“I don’t think so. It’s nothing to do with the cops.”
“Maybe something to do with your friend Cade?”
“Yes, you’re right. But it’s not like you think. Or at least it’s not -“
“Take your time. And before you go on, I want you to know, I’m not prejudiced. Living in California sort of takes that out of you.”
“Look, I’m not gay, Cade’s not gay. It’s nothing like that, except -“
“I can’t tell you any details, but he’s got a lot of emotional baggage, and last weekend things got a little complicated. Now I haven’t heard from him for a week, and I’m really concerned.”
“I see. You’re worried about his safety?”
“I always am. There are things going on in our lives that I can’t tell you about, but it’s really serious. And dangerous. Things to do with our work.”
“You know, I can believe that. This thing I got myself involved in seems to be really big. But like I said, it’s best not to say too much. So, are you going to tell me what happened between you and your friend Cade?”
“First I’d like to know what you meant with the stuff you said about feeling as if we were very close.”
“Eddie, don’t play games with me. We might not be kids anymore, but you and I, aren’t we a bit more than friends? At least that’s the vibes I was picking up on last night, when I showed up on your doorstep.”
“That’s what I thought, but I wanted to be sure I was reading you correctly. You don’t think you’d like to be a little more specific?”
“I don’t know if this will work out or not. After being married for 15 years, I’m not sure I want that kind of commitment. All I know is that I don’t know anyone I’d like to pursue a relationship with, except you.”
Now Eddie felt he had to pull up at the side of the road to let this announcement sink in. Trish didn’t seem too surprised. She just smiled at him indulgently. And as it had on every single occasion she had smiled at him in the short time since she had arrived, it affected him in so many ways he had thought beyond him.
“You want a relationship with me?”
“Yes. You heard me.”
“Trish, I don’t know what to say.”
“Just say yes. If that’s what you want. If not, I think I’ll survive. I’m getting used to rejection.”
“I’d be a fool to say no.”
“Good, then that’s settled. But remember, I make no promises, and if this doesn’t work out, I’m going. In fact, even it does work out, I can’t stay for long. But I’ll be back.”
Trish was surprised at how inexperienced Eddie seemed. She was wondering what was the truth behind that evasive explanation about his friend Cade. But on the other hand, if Eddie was so thrilled to find that she actually felt the same way he claimed to, then surely he was telling the truth about not being gay. She could see that he was debating with himself whether or not he should kiss her, and to save time, she leaned over and kissed him herself.
At least he knew how to. For a second she had even worried that he might be one of those computer geeks who never actually lived in the real world. But Eddie seemed way too old to still be a virgin, and in any case it wasn’t long until her suspicions were laid to rest. The rest of the trip they spoke about personal matters, and stayed away from anything to do with their work.
Eddie told her about his past, his college years and a little about how his life had been since he passed his degree. It was as she had thought all along, he was a very lonely man. But that was ok with her. She knew about being lonely.
“You mentioned that you were married for 15 years. I suppose you’re divorced?”
“I won’t lie to you Eddie. We never finalized the divorce, but we’ve been separated for nearly three years and there’s no way we are getting back together.”
“Two boys. They chose to stay with their father. Heaven knows why. He wasn’t the one who devoted his life to looking after them. But they’re so much like him. Not a trace of me in them. Funny. Makes you wonder about genetics.”
“I don’t want to pry, but what happened?”
“That’s ok. I don’t mind talking about it. Of course, we were never madly in love, and now I think I know why. But I didn’t know then. I was 22, fresh out of college, and I’d been brought up to expect marriage. So when this hot shot young lawyer proposed to me, I was ecstatic. We were married right away, and we had two sons the first couple of years. But that was it. After the first four years, I hardly saw him. It was always business trips, working late at the office, parties with his fellow attorneys. He’s the D A in our hometown.”
“Yeah. Anyway, three years ago I found out what he was doing all these late nights at the office.”
“Let me guess. Sleeping with the secretary?”
“Close. It was the intern.”
“I’ll bet she was young and blond and dumb.”
“Very good. Two out of three isn’t bad. He was young, blond and brilliant.”
“Yeah. So I guess that was why our marriage never stood a chance. The boys don’t know about it, I’m pretty sure. I guess I could have used it to get them to come with me, but I was tired of giving and giving to three guys who never gave anything back to me, or even noticed me. So I went back to university to get my M.A. Officially, I’m still working on that degree, but I know I won’t go back.”
“I got involved with my professor the first year, and since that wasn’t popular with the university board, things got a little awkward. I was on the rebound, and anyway this guy wasn’t serious. It was just a fling to him. Then I met this guy who was majoring in the same subject. Another mature student, though not my age exactly. He was 27. That’s how I got into hacking. It turned out I had a real talent, and the rest is history, as they say.”
“Wow. What a loser.”
“Who? My husband or that professor?”
“Both. To have a woman like you and let you go. But I guess if your ex is gay, he can’t help himself. It’s his loss.”
By that time they were already in town, and Eddie pulled up outside a supermarket. It was fun to go shopping with Trish. He caught himself hoping people would think they were married. But no one was particularly interested in them. After refilling his water tanks at the gas station on the outskirts of town they drove back to the trailer. Eddie almost thought of it as home, now that he had a companion with him.
After having lunch together, they decided to move on to another site, just in case. Eddie would have moved on sooner, if it hadn’t been for that incident with Cade, but he realized that if Cade wanted to, he could always call him. That’s how it always worked, and there really was no reason to change their routines.
They drove all evening and way into the night, and only stopped to sleep for a few hours at the side of the road. After buying some more supplies in a town they passed, they continued driving for a few days, repeatedly changing directions. That’s what Eddie always did, when his work didn’t take him anywhere in particular. It was an excellent way of avoiding pursuers.
Finally they crossed the border into Idaho, and found a peaceful rural area, where they could disappear. Cade still hadn’t gotten in touch, and Eddie was worried about him. But Trish’s company was proving very distracting.
He was hoping she would tell him what it was she had stumbled into before she left California and one night she came to a decision about it. It was a night for many confidences. Eddie finally found the courage to tell her about the incident with Cade. He felt as if he was betraying his friend, but Eddie was confused enough to need his lover’s guidance. Trish didn’t seem to be overly concerned. She had been telling the truth about not being prejudiced.
“Wow. That was heavy. Remind me never to get drunk with you. You’d never be able to shut me up.”
“But what do you think happened?”
“Well, like you said, your friend sure has some emotional baggage. I’m no expert, but I watch talk shows like the rest of us.”
When Eddie stared at her in shock, she took pity on him.
“Joke. Ha ha. I never watch tv. Almost never. I love the X Files and Star Trek, but talk shows -? Please. Did you really think I had nothing better to do with my life than spend it with Jerry Springer?”
“Sorry. I watch sometimes, you know, but only when I’m really hungover or tired.”
“Anyway, I think talking about those things brought back some powerful memories, and he snapped back into the emotional state he was in back then. That was probably the only way he had of dealing with other people. I don’t know. But don’t blame yourself. Boys will be boys. He’s probably regretting the whole thing and is too embarrassed to get back in touch. Give him some time.”
“You don’t think this has ruined everything?”
“I don’t know your friend, but if you were as close as I think you were, then no. Definitely not. You care too much about each other to let anything come between you.”
“Yes, we do, but you didn’t see him. He was like a different person. A zombie. And I could have kicked myself when I didn’t put a stop to it.”
“Ok, enough is enough. Don’t blame yourself. He’s probably blaming himself right now. But it wasn’t your fault any more than it was his. You made a mistake but it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes you get caught up in a situation and do things you regret. I’ve been there. Do you think I would have ended up in bed with my professor otherwise? Or my next door neighbor, who was married, or the pizza guy. The list goes on.”
“Ok, point taken.”
“Eddie, you’re a wonderful man, and one mistake hasn’t turned you into a monster.”
“I hope you’re right. If anything happens to Cade because of me, I’ll never forgive myself.”
Trish held him close for a while, before making up her mind to let him into the secret she had stumbled across. When Eddie heard her story, he immediately associated it with his and Cade’s work. Was this the aliens’ doing? He had to make sure. Soon he and Trish were sitting in front of the computers, doing research, making phone calls, trying to get to the bottom of her problem. She had brought her disk drive inside and soon they had connected it to Eddie’s hub, using one of his extra monitors.
Her material was useful, and the stuff she had on her laptop was even more so. But Eddie still hesitated to let her in on his own secret. That might place her life in danger and he and Cade had agreed from the start, never to expose the secret unless they were forced to by circumstances. Eddie thought that might soon come about, but not yet. He would wait and see. If only Cade would get back in touch.
The storm seemed to have subsided a little. Cade dared to go over to the window and look outside. The devastation out there was extensive, and the sun was coming up. It was time for him to go. He looked back at agent Craig. Would she let him go? He thought he might have gotten through to her, but this was her job on the line. Perhaps he should have found another hiding place, but it hadn’t occurred to him. For some reason he felt he could trust her. It was time to test that idea now. But she was way ahead of him.
“You’d better get going now.”
“That’s what you’re thinking about, isn’t it? You’re wondering if I’ll let you go. Didn’t I prove that hours ago? I could have pulled the trigger when you were trying to escape that cell.”
“I know. So you believe me?”
“I’m not sure what to believe. But I’m not going to hand you over to Colonel Grace.”
“I don’t think you’re guilty.”
“Don’t thank me yet. I have a really hard time making sense of your story, but give me time. Maybe I’ll get round to your way of thinking. But first I’d like you to do something for me.”
“We’ll have to make this look as if you used the storm to make your escape. Letting you go won’t look good on my record, but the condition of that cell will bear me out, I think. Not even Colonel Grace would have been able to stay there.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“You’ll have to hit me over the head, and tie me up.”
“No. Can’t I lock you in somewhere? I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Where? Look around you. This is about the only place left standing. And I don’t think anyone is going to believe you managed to cuff me, while I was still conscious. Not unless they think I freaked out and asked you to take part in a little sex game.”
Cade looked down. That comment reminded him of things best left forgotten. Angelica wondered about his reaction, but since she had no idea what was on his mind, she pressed on with her proposition. It was past seven and by 8 at the latest she knew her partners would be back to take Cade away. By that time he needed to be gone.
“You’ll have to knock me out.”
“No. I can’t.”
“For heaven’s sake. Now I know for sure you didn’t kill your wife. Alright. Have it your own way.”
Before Cade was able to stop her, she picked up a paper weight that was lying on the desk. It was too heavy to have been swept away by the gusts of wind that had come through the broken windows and the wildly flapping shades. She hit herself on the side of her head. Not hard enough to cause her to black out, and not enough to draw much blood, but Cade could see that it hurt. There would be a sizeable lump there when she was found, he was sure of that.
“Hold this, like that. We want your prints on it too. Now will you tie me up? Here, take my cuffs. Don’t look like that. This isn’t my idea of fun either, but it will have to be done. This chair will do. Here, like this, with my hands behind my back. No need to tie me to the chair, I’m unconscious, remember?”
Reluctantly, Cade did as she asked him. It made sense that she wouldn’t want to ruin her chances for good, but it was an unpleasant task to perform and one that brought back many more memories he would have preferred to keep buried.
When he was bending over her to make sure she was sitting comfortably, she stunned him by kissing him lightly on the lips. He pulled back in astonishment, but couldn’t help smiling at her. If she had known what he had been doing only a few days ago, she wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him. But there was no way she could guess.
“Sorry to startle you. That was just to wish you luck.”
“No problem. Thanks.”
“Wait. My phone number. Get in touch if you need me.”
Cade hesitated. This could be a trap, but why would she let him go, if she intended to set him up? No, her offer was genuine, that was obvious. And he wanted to trust her.
“Thanks. I might. But it would be better for your own safety not to.”
“Maybe you’d better take my email address too. That might be safer, in case someone is monitoring my calls.”
“Ok. Thanks. Angelica? That’s a very pretty name. You already know mine.”
Before he turned to go, Cade gave her a quick hug. The kiss had given him back a little of his self esteem.
Now he was ready to contact Eddie again and try to salvage what was left of their friendship. In all this time he had refused to consider the incident that had driven him away. As he walked by the side of the road trying to get a lift, he forced his mind back to what had happened between him and Eddie all those days ago.
What would Eddie be making of it all? He must have lost whatever respect he might have had for Cade. Why had he been foolish enough to get drunk that night? Why hadn’t he just let Eddie go on with his college stories?
He should have let him think there were similar charming tales in Cade’s past. No need to confess everything. But it had been so humiliating to feel so different. And somewhere, Cade knew he had been hoping that Eddie would be different than the others.
But it wasn’t fair of him to test Eddie like that. Any guy who hadn’t had any in a long time and was lonely and drunk would probably react the way he had. And Cade remembered how insistent he had been. He still couldn’t understand what had gotten into him.
In the years he had spent with Hannah none of this had resurfaced, but then again, with her, nothing had reminded him of the past. He had been too filled up with happiness to look back.
At first, Cade had wanted to run away and hide, and never come back. But he had a duty and a destiny to fulfill, and he didn’t have the luxury of free choice. Besides, he didn’t want to lose Eddie’s friendship. It was all that kept him sane. He had to go and find Eddie and make amends, if that was still possible. Running away like this didn’t accomplish anything, and it had only been luck that had saved him from Colonel Grace. He couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes. The future of the entire human race was in his hands.
After many long hours of poring over the computer, Eddie and Trish had been able to determine that someone had already canceled the warrant for her arrest, and it didn’t take them long to find out who.
“I can’t believe Al would do this for me. Of course it’s most likely himself and the boys he’s trying to protect. But still, he must have used up most of the favors people owe him.”
Eddie was looking a bit subdued, and it dawned on Trish that he might be afraid that she was going back to her ex again. So she hastened to assure him of his mistake.
“Eddie, you didn’t think this would make me go back to him? I thought I’d told you we were finished.”
“Yes, but -“
“No buts. But I will have to go back sooner or later. I’m sorry. My life is over there. Don’t look like that. I’ll keep in touch. You know I will. After this, I couldn’t go back to being just me. I was just hoping you’d understand. You’ve got that really important secret work, and I’ve got my work too.”
“I know. I’m just being silly.”
“Oh, stop it. You look just like a puppy with those sad eyes. Come here, you big baby. I didn’t say I needed to go right this minute. We still have tonight. And I’m sure your friend Cade will get in touch really soon. Cheer up.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“It’s late. Don’t you think it’s time we were in bed?”
“What? Oh, right. I’ll be right with you.”
They didn’t get that much sleep that night. In fact none at all, but when Eddie saw Trish’s van disappear down the road, he felt much better than he had in years.
And somehow Trish’s prediction about Cade came true. He couldn’t believe his ears when he heard his friend’s voice at the other end of the line. But just having waved goodbye to Trish, it was her he had expected.
“No, it’s me, Cade. Who’s Trish?”
“Long story. But I’ll tell you all about it, when you’re here. Because you’re coming back, aren’t you? Please say you are.”
“Yes, that’s what I wanted to tell you.”
“Ok, I’ve left a message for you in the usual place. But if you like, I can come and pick you up.”
“No. That won’t be necessary. Besides, it wouldn’t be safe. I’ve got some news for you too.”
“You met a girl too?”
“Not exactly. But it’s funny you should mention that. There is a girl in this, and I’ll tell you all about it later.”
“Man, that’s great. Cade, I just wanted to -“
“Yeah, I know. Me too. But we’ll save it for later, right?”
When Cade closed the connection, he was surprised he felt so happy to hear Eddie’s voice again. For a while he had thought that their friendship was over. But Eddie had sounded so relieved to hear his voice. Cade wasn’t sure what he was going to tell Eddie about his uncharacteristic behavior, but at least now he knew it was going to be ok.
He went to pick up Eddie’s message, and since he still had enough money he bought a one way bus ticket to the town nearest to the site Eddie had chosen. It meant an all night ride, but that was ok. He needed to catch up on his sleep. That night in the police station had been many things, but relaxing wasn’t one of them.
Next morning, he began walking along the side of the road. Following Eddie’s instructions wasn’t that difficult, and just after 11, he saw the trailer come into view behind a few trees. As usual, Eddie seemed to have picked a good spot.
As Cade was about to raise his hand to knock on the door, he had a moment of doubt. How would it feel to face his friend again? He could feel his face taking on color, in anticipation of the uncomfortable moments that had to follow. But this was what he had to do.
Not working this out between them would mean losing his friend, and Cade knew that if he did that, he would be lost himself. Eddie was the one thing keeping him sane. Before he should lose his nerve again, he knocked on the door, and waited, tensely for Eddie to answer.
When his friend opened the door, the look on his face told Cade that the anguish he thought himself the only one to feel was mirrored in Eddie. For some reason that made the unpleasantness ahead a little easier to bear.
“Would you like something to drink, or eat?”
“Later, thanks. We need to talk.”
“I know. I’m just trying to put it off. But you’re right. Ok. I’m listening.”
But it was much harder to get the words out than Cade had thought. In the end, it was Eddie who made the first move.
“Cade, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for what I did. Can you ever forgive me? I don’t know what got into me. But I swear it will never happen again. You can trust me.”
“No. I’m the one who has to apologize. It’s not as if I gave you much choice. I have no idea what I was thinking. Would it make a difference if I told you that nothing like this has happened before, and I’m going to make sure it never does again?”
“So you can’t tell me what it was that made this happen?”
“No. Not really. Maybe a shrink could. I sure can’t. But I want you to know that it’s not as if I’m secretly lusting for you. Not that I think you’re unattractive. It’s just that -“
“You don’t have to tell me. It’s the same way with me. I mean you’re a very good looking guy, but it’s just not my thing.”
“Yes. I know. That’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about you.”
“Good. Then we’re in agreement about that. I hope there are no hard feelings?”
“No. Of course not. Not on your part either?”
“No. Definitely not. I just feel like such a bastard. You must have had quite enough of this kind of thing in the past.”
“Yes. More than you can imagine. But that doesn’t mean that I think you’re a bastard. What about me? I’d hate to imagine what you were thinking about me.”
“You’re wrong. All I could think about was that if anything happened to you after this, it would be my fault. I brought this on, didn’t I? With my stupid frat house stories and trying to exchange anecdotes about girlfriends.”
“Maybe. But since I never told you what my life has been like, there was no way you could have known. Forget it. I would prefer it if we just left this behind.”
“Ok. My feelings exactly. But what’s happened to you? You said you had some news, and it sounded like it was something big.”
“In a way. I wasn’t thinking straight after that night. So I guess I wasn’t paying attention as I should have. Anyway, I ran into a trap set by our friend Colonel Grace.”
“Cade, no. That’s exactly what I was afraid of.”
“Don’t blame yourself. This was my own stupid fault. Anyway, the weather got in the way. The Colonel herself wasn’t there, and her operatives were cooperating with the local sheriff’s department. I was locked up in an ordinary cell waiting for transfer to some other facility. And then that twister hit.”
“You were out in Virginia?”
“Yeah, well, like I said, I wasn’t thinking straight. All I could think about was getting as far away as possible. As if I can ever outrun my past. Anyway, there I was locked up in a cell, and one of the Colonel’s people was watching me at all times. Everyone else was evacuated but this agent had orders not to let me out of her sight. But when the police station began to fall apart, starting with the cell block, she decided to move me. Actually I encouraged her. That gave me my chance to shake her off. But she had a gun, pointing right at my back. The funny thing was, she didn’t pull the trigger. I wonder what it was about me that made her so partial?”
The bitterness in Cade’s voice didn’t leave Eddie any doubts as to what he attributed that unexpected lenience shown him by the agent. Eddie wanted to tell him it wasn’t all that obvious. That the woman could have had any number of reasons not to shoot him. But he knew his friend wouldn’t listen to him. So he just let him get on with his story.
“But I couldn’t get anywhere, and besides, I didn’t want to leave her behind.”
“And they call me crazy.”
“Whatever. We found some shelter in the sheriff’s personal office, behind his desk. And then I told her everything.”
“I told her about the Gua invasion and the rest of it.”
“She wanted to know if I killed Hannah, and when I tried to explain about it, the aliens naturally came up.”
“And I really think I got through to her. At the very least she believed me about not killing Hannah. When the sun came up, and the wind had died down, she asked me to cuff her to the chair, and hit her over the head so it wouldn’t be too obvious she let me go.”
“Sort of. She hit herself over the head, and then I cuffed her.”
“Wow. I wish I could have been there. Sorry, Cade. Me and my big mouth.”
“That’s ok. I don’t mind your sense of humor. Not most of the time anyway. But believe me, it wasn’t as much fun as you might think. Not when you know how it feels to be tied up like that.”
“Yes, I know. Confession’s over. Forget it. That’s what I’m going to try to do. The past is exactly that. Past. Over and done with. It’s not as if I can go back and change things. I wouldn’t know where to start anyway.”
“This is amazing. You actually have a contact on the inside. Do you realize the potential of this?”
“Yes, I do. But have you thought about what it could do to her? I’m not comfortable putting her life at risk, just to help my cause.”
“It’s not your cause alone, Cade. Everyone’s at risk, you know that.”
“Yes. But that’s not my doing. If I do contact her, whatever happens to her will be my fault.”
“But you did get her phone number or something?”
“Yes. And her email address too. But I’m not sure I’ll ever use it.”
“Did you give her mine too? So she can get in touch?”
“Yes, I did. Just in case they don’t believe her story about how I got away.”
“Now will you sit down and have something to eat?”
“Sure. I’m starving. Eddie, it’s good to be back.”
“Man, it’s great to have you back. For a while there, I thought I’d never see you again.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
Sitting down to lunch with Eddie was great. Just like old times, before that miserable night.For the first time since Hannah’s death, Cade really thought he could leave the past behind. If he didn’t let it come back, it wouldn’t. It would lose its power to hurt him. He wasn’t a kid anymore, and he had a different perspective.
Now he would stop using his own shortcomings to beat himself up again and again. Why shouldn’t he be able to face himself in the mirror? He wasn’t the one who had taken advantage of helpless street kids. Whatever he had done, he had only hurt himself, and how many people could say that?
Cade’s work took him away from Eddie’s trailer for weeks after their reconciliation, and now that they had talked things out and nothing was hanging over them, other than the alien invasion, it was ok to be out on his own. Staying in the trailer might not bother Cade for the same reasons anymore, but living that close to someone else could get a bit too intense. Not that it had with Hannah, but Cade had a feeling that she was special in more ways than one.
Then there was a lull in the alien activities, and he had time on his own. He was thinking about returning to Eddie despite everything, and just hang out again, when his friend called him up with some rather disturbing news.
“Remember your friend agent Craig?”
“Angelica? What’s wrong with her?”
Angelica ? Cade and that agent must have gotten closer than he had wanted to tell him about. Interesting. Eddie had told Cade all about Trish, and his friend had been happy for him, but no hint of the nature of his feelings for Angelica had come to light.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news. As you know, I’m trying to monitor our friends’ network whenever I can. And now I’ve come across something rather serious. I knew you would want to know.”
“Well, go on. She’s alright, isn’t she?”
“Yes, so far, but I doubt she will stay safe for long. We shouldn’t talk about this on the phone.”
“Just tell me where she is, and what I can do.”
“That’s just it. I think we need to do this together. Where are you?”
Cade told him.
“Good. I’m not far away. Pick you up tonight around midnight, if all goes according to plan. Stay put, but lie low, ok?”
“Ok, sure. But we can’t let anything happen to her.”
In fact, Eddie turned up a good 45 minutes earlier, so it seemed he had been making good time out on the highway. Or did it mean he was more concerned about Angelica than he had wanted to tell Cade? Not waiting a second longer than necessary, Cade got in and looked expectantly at his friend for the rest of the information.
“Usually, I will only be able to follow their tracks when they’re cooperating with other agencies, but this time I think I got into their own system. It’s hard to tell for sure. They keep changing their frequency all the time. Anyway, it seems your friend Angelica got curious, and started getting her nose into things she shouldn’t have. Now they’re on to her, and her arrest is imminent. I think they’re just holding off so that they can catch her redhandedly. The bait is too good for her to stay away. If I’m right, she’ll be trying to get into that archive tonight. We might still be able to catch her if we hurry.”
“Where is she?”
“There’s this government facility not far from here. Cade, didn’t you get her phone number? This might be risky, but I thought if you could call her and ask her to come and see you outside, she might not fall into the trap and we might get her out of there.”
“Won’t they be monitoring her calls?”
“Yes, but I think I can scramble their signal for a while. If she gets out quick and we can drive off right away, it should work. Do you have any other suggestion?”
“No. You know I don’t. You’re the brain behind this. I’m just the pretty face, and the leg work.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Cade stared in wonder at his friend. Granted, that had been a slip back into his old self-loathing self, but he hadn’t expected such a sharp telling off. On the other hand, it had done the trick. He wasn’t thinking about himself anymore, just worrying about Angelica, which was more important right now.
Eddie hadn’t been wrong about the location of the government facility. It wasn’t long before they pulled up beside a huge, granite grey building, surrounded by a high, metal fence. The facade wasn’t lit up, and all the light there was came from the moon, and their headlights. Cade pulled out his cell phone, and forced himself to dial the number.
No time for second guessing. Angelica picked up on the first signal. Her voice was tense, but not close to panic. Apparently she had no idea of what danger she was in. Her call would be monitored, but he could see Eddie making some last minute adjustments to a little box of some kind. So he should be able to speak freely. He was hoping his friend was right.
Did she still remember him? But he didn’t want to give his name, in case they could hear him.
“Oh. I haven’t heard from you in a long time.”
“I know. We can’t talk now, but I need you to come outside right now.”
“But I’m right in the middle of something.”
“Just get out here now. I’ll explain later.”
Something about his tone must have carried over the phone because she changed her mind.
“I’ll be right there.”
Less than two minutes later, a time that felt like an eternity, Cade could see her coming around the corner of the house. Still there was no pursuit in sight, but he was keenly aware of how time was running out. She had seen them, and was doing something to a part of the fence Cade hadn’t even known was a gate. Then she was through, and outside. Cade threw open the door behind him, and as soon as she was more or less inside, Eddie pulled out of the parking lot.
As they turned out onto road, they could hear the alarm going off behind them. They didn’t wait to find out in what way the pursuit would come. Eddie had been studying the maps of the area the night before, and even if he hadn’t been there before, he knew some back roads that would take them away quickly, as long as they weren’t caught in the next five minutes or so.
They didn’t speak, while they were making their escape. But half an hour later, Eddie slowed down, and turned into a small dirt track. Cade didn’t think the trailer would be able to follow, but apparently the tires were more suited for this than he had expected. There were trees growing right up to the side of the road, so it was like driving through a narrow tunnel.
The moon must have been hidden behind a cloud, because there didn’t seem to be any light at all. Still no one said anything, but as the trees were thinning out they found themselves out on a major road again. Now they were driving in more or less the opposite direction from before.
Eddie kept glancing sideways at another little box, that Cade had no idea what it was. But the broad smile on Eddie’s face seemed to be promising.
“Yes! We did it. They’re all off chasing us miles from here. I knew that if we could pass that stretch of wood we’d be home free.”
“You weren’t sure you could?”
“More or less sure. But it worked out, so what are you complaining about? Won’t you introduce me to your lovely friend instead?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Eddie, this is Angelica Craig. Angelica, this is my friend Eddie.”
“The famous Crazy Eddie, from the Paranoid Times? Of course. Pleased to meet you. Now will you guys explain what just happened?”
“You were set up. If we hadn’t gotten you out of there, our friend Colonel Grace would have let her trap spring on you.”
“What? And I thought I was getting so close.”
“That’s what they wanted you to think.”
Angelica looked from Cade to Eddie and back again, in disbelief. Could it really be that her career was over? This wasn’t what she had bargained on when she met Cade, and he changed her perspective for good. The more she had learned since, the more she had become convinced that insane as his story had appeared at first, it was the truth. But now she was out on her own, just like he was. Except that she hadn’t lost a loved one.
Reading Angelica’s look, Cade tried to think of something to say to her, to soften the blow. He knew what it was like to lose everything overnight. The shock of it took time to absorb. No words could really begin to compensate the loss of everything she had been able to take for granted until now.
So he didn’t even try. He just turned in his seat and looked at her. Smiled a little as if to reassure her. And she smiled back. Not nearly as devastated as he might have expected. Either she still hadn’t taken it all in, or else she had some hidden reserves of strength that he had been unaware of before.
They drove through the night, and only stopped for short breaks when it was absolutely necessary. Each took turns driving until finally, when they crossed the border into Iowa, Eddie determined that it would be safe to stop. Again, he was able to find a very pleasant site, and it wasn’t long before they could have a meal, and some rest.
But when Eddie tactfully disappeared into the trailer, Cade could tell that Angelica wanted to stay and talk, no matter how tired she was. At first he hadn’t felt any fatigue either. The rush of adrenaline following their escape at breakneck speed, had kept him wide awake and alert. But that kind of thing couldn’t go on forever, he knew that from experience. He was rapidly losing his battle against sleep, but he still wanted to talk this through with her.
No matter what Eddie had tried to convince him of, he still felt keenly aware of his own responsibility for Angelica’s new situation. Somehow, he wanted to apologize, to tell her how very sorry he was to have cost her everything.
“Cade, I wanted to thank you for saving my life. Eddie too, of course.”
“I’ll tell him. But that was the least we could do. It was my fault you ended up in this situation.”
“No. I knew what I was getting into. Don’t blame yourself. You might have stumbled into all this blindly to begin with, but I walked into it with open eyes.”
“But you have lost everything.”
“Yes, but what is everything anyway? In my case not much beyond my work and an apartment, with nothing much by way of personal keepsakes. That’s how I like to live. I travel light. It’s worked for me, ever since I ended up in the orphanage, when I was 14. I suppose you can guess how many adoptive families were waiting in line for a fat, zit-faced girl with an attitude.”
It was amazing how much they had in common, though they had ended up on opposite sides of the law. And he was filled with admiration at how well she stood up to this major change in her life. But he knew better than anyone how strong you had to be to even survive on your own. She might not have ended up on the street, but shelters for homeless kids and orphanages were probably not too different.
“I can’t believe how well you are taking all this.”
“Just wait until later tonight. When you’ve gone to sleep. I’ll cry my eyes out. So don’t worry about that. But really, when something like this happens, and I don’t mean losing my career, but this whole invasion thing, do my petty problems matter all that much?”
“Most people would think so.”
“Oh, well, maybe those people have more to lose than I do. There hasn’t even been a boyfriend for more than a year, so I’m not missing out on much. Never look back, that’s my motto.”
“I still think you’re absolutely great. A real trooper.”
“Thanks. So are you.”
“No. Really. What choice did I have? I’m not brave at all.”
“Oh, please. Give it up already. If I tell you you’re a wonderful man, you are.”
“Yes, ma’am. I guess we’re both pretty amazing one way or another.”
“Especially you. Don’t take this the wrong way, and I know you lost your wife pretty recently, but are you seeing someone?”
Maybe he should have seen that one coming. But this time he didn’t mind at all. In fact, it felt good to know that Angelica still found him attractive. He hadn’t wanted to admit to himself just how much he had enjoyed remembering that look in her eyes, as they said goodbye. He couldn’t help smiling back at her.
“No. In all this time, I haven’t met anyone I even wanted to get close to. Until now. Not that it would be easy, living the way I do.”
“I know. That’s the way I need to be living too, I guess. You’ll have to give me a crash course before you let me fly solo.”
Again, Cade was impressed with how well she picked up on the situation. Much as he would love to spend the rest of his travels fighting the Gua invasion in her company, he knew that wasn’t an option. They would have to go their separate ways, all too soon.
And knowing how he still felt inside, it would be far too soon for any real intimacy. But just like Eddie and Trish could find the time to be together, and he could come back from time to time to be with his friend, they might meet back at Eddie’s. As long as Angelica wanted to, he knew he would come to see her.
And now all he wanted to do was to hold her. Maybe even kiss for a while. Just for a little while until they had to go to sleep. He was feeling a bit shy. After all, if he didn’t count Eddie, and didn’t want to do that, he hadn’t been this close to anyone since Hannah died.
Angelica seemed to know exactly what was on his mind. She held out her hand, and taking his, she pulled him close. They held on to each other like two children, afraid of the dark. And unlike those children they knew far too well what the darkness hid. But tonight they could hold back the darkness, creating their own light.
This time, Cade didn’t shy away from her touch. He returned her kiss, with some of the passion he had only known with Hannah. Now he could guess at something of what Eddie had been feeling that night. It had been far too long, and he hadn’t even realized he felt that way. But now it would be alright. Angelica was here, and he didn’t intend to ever let her go. And, more importantly, she wouldn’t let him go.