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Karen was going through her briefcase, searching for her car keys, when the telephone rang. "Taylor? Little one, could you please take that?" she called out.
"Sure," the teenager replied and picked up the receiver. "Hello?... Oh, hey Chris..."
Karen pricked up her ears at the name and frowned, wondering what the artist could want now.
"Yes... but... ok... ok... alright, I will have a look at him... and give you advice... yes... yes... ok... until then." Taylor hung up.
"What's wrong?" Karen wanted to know.
"It seems that Chris found the man that saved his life. Then he said something about needing help and the advice of a woman with this hairy problem." Taylor saw Karen's bewildered look and shrugged her shoulders. "I honestly don't know what he means with that."
"Do you want me to bring you home?"
"Yes, that would be real nice. I'm sorry I will miss the meeting with Dani though. I was looking forward to seeing her again."
"Don't worry about it," Karen said and smiled. "It's not your fault and there will be other chances to see Dani."
As soon as Taylor was home, she raced upstairs to put her things into her room. Then she went into the kitchen to get something to drink. She poured herself a big glass of milk and walked to the living room. The girl froze at the door. The glass slipped from her hands and fell to the floor, bursting into tiny pieces on the tiles and spraying white fluid all over the floor. She took a deep breath and screamed at the top of her lungs "CHRIIIIIS!!! HEEEEELP!!!"
The totally disheveled and dirty man, wearing rags and sitting on the couch was as frightened and shocked as the teenager was. He lifted his hands and explained, "I'm not a criminal and I did not break in."
Christopher finally entered the room and couldn't help the big grin that appeared on his face. "You both should see your expressions. It's priceless. Anyway, may I introduce, Norman, this is my little sister Taylor."
"Uh... I'm sorry for my reaction. Thanks a lot for saving my brother's life. I don't know what to say... uh... is there anything we can do for you?"
"I already thought of something," Chris explained.
Taylor still was a bit in shock and just stared at the strange man.
The artist continued, "I wanted to take Norman to the city to get him a new outfit and a haircut, but he refuses to go out. So, there is only one way. We will have to call someone to come here and take care of the problem. Don't you know somebody, Taylor?"
His sister's eyes widened. "You are asking me? Why should I know someone, who could help us there?"
"Well, the only other woman around here I could ask would be Karen and you know that she is not exactly talking with me at the moment... so..."
"Okay, okay... let me think... uh... yes, Michiru mentioned something once. Her best friend, Billy Chambers, is a specialist in that department. If anybody could... uh... help..." she said with a side glance at Norman, who was also looking quite uncomfortable at the moment, "... I think it could be him."
Christopher's smile widened. "Good. I will look up his number right away."
Taylor didn't want to be left alone with the strange man, even if he was the one that rescued her brother. "I have to go to another training session, Chris. I'm sure that now you will get along without my help. Until later then. Bye, Norman." She waved and disappeared as quickly as she could after cleaning up the mess she had caused when the glass fell.
Alexander was sitting in a very comfortable leather armchair, in the air conditioned hotel bar, sipping some tropical cocktail through a straw. Having two dark-skinned, giggling beauties at his back and call really made him happy. He had just punched in a number to Los Angeles and waited for Catherine's voice to greet him. Finally, she picked up.
"Hey Mom. The guys and I have taken a first flight around the coordinates. Until now, we couldn't find a plane or anything that looked like it. It really will take a whole lot of money and time to search every little inch of each of the islands. I checked the costs again and I really don't think it's worth it."
"You just arrived there, Alexander! Besides, we already had this discussion. I insist that you continue," his mother ordered in a tone that wouldn't allow any argument.
"But I hate these fucking islands!" Alex whined. "Do you have any idea how hot it is here? Not to mention the high humidity. It's killing me! It is unbearable and everywhere are these damn bugs flying around and other nasty animals. All of that is not good for my health and I'm missing my usual living standard."
Once that was out, he had to hold the receiver a few inches from his ear, because Catherine bombarded him with angry reproaches.
In the end, he relented to his mother's wishes to not get into more trouble and hung up. Wrinkling his forehead, he muttered under his breath, "One island as cover-up for many hundred. Yes, I will check one island. If Liz isn't there... well, that's just tough luck." Satisfied with his decision, Alex grinned to himself and said to the women that were massaging his arms, "Who of you sweets would like to sit on my lap?"
The door bell rang and Christopher opened, expectantly.
In front of it stood a well-groomed, young man, wearing a custom-tailored, red, velvet suit. He had many bags and boxes with him. It was the stylist. The man greeted him with a bright smile and said, "Hello, my dear. I am Bill Chambers but all my friends call me Billy."
Christopher shook hands with him. "Hi."
"So? Are you the emergency?" Bill winked at him.
"Uh... no. He is waiting in the living room. I'm Chris."
"Oh, how nice to meet you," The stylist gushed. "My God... you've got wonderful hair...great, great, great."
Chris blushed a bit. Was Billy actually flirting with him?
"Could you please help me to get all my things inside the house so that I can take care of our 'patient'?"
A while later, they had everything that would be needed lying out in the living room, but Bill's constant talking had not stopped. "I am here because you are friends with Michiru."
Chris was just about to tell him that his sister was just one of her students, but he decided against it.
"Oh my goodness," the stylist exclaimed as he saw Norman for the first time and his hands flew to his head. "Well, we will just start and take it one step at the time. Oh, Chrissy, could you please be a dear and fix me something to drink?"
The artist was clearly embarrassed by the way Bill said his name and mumbled, blushing, "Sure."
Taylor sat relaxed on the couch in Michiru's loft and was playing with Bombalurina and Demeter.
Her coach entered the room and put some more food on the table. Michiru sat down beside the girl. "I hope it doesn't bother you when I have a small bite to eat. I just grew hungry again."
Taylor shook her head.
"You can have some too, if you like," Michiru said and smiled.
The girl had a look at the food and a suspicion reared its head. "Waffles with chocolate crème, hot peppers, pickles, Pepsi, noodle soup and sushi, ice cream... Uh, no. Thank you, but no."
"Lately, I've been eating more. I eat everything as it comes. Maybe that's why I always have to throw up in the mornings," Michiru explained, munching on another pickle.
Taylor's suspicion grew and she nearly said something, but in the end decided to keep silent. She quickly changed the subject and asked her coach, who was eating a hot pepper as if it was a piece of chocolate, "How did you meet Bill Chambers?"
"Oh, we were together at a film set. I was there as advisor for some Martial Arts techniques and Bill was working in the costumes department. Besides being a great hairstylist, he also is a very talented make-up artist. We really became good friends and a few days ago he rang me up to tell me that he's back in town. He's been on vacation for a while."
"Well, Bill has to be a real genius to make a normal human being out of Norman," the girl replied, dryly.
Michiru winked. "Believe me, Bill knows how to handle men."
Taylor frowned. She did not get what Michiru meant with that, but soon she would meet Billy too.
Slowly, the huge rotors of the two discarded, military helicopters stopped rotating. Reluctantly, Alexander put one foot on the ground of the jungle-covered island and had a look at the destruction they had caused. The powers of the rotating blades had uprooted many plants and the local fauna fled deeper into the forest.
The troop consisted of 35 men, who immediately started to set up their camp, under Alexander's watchful eyes.
The officer in command came to him and spread out a little map of the island in front of him. He pointed at something and said, "Close to us is a hill. I suggest we go there and get a clear view of our surroundings."
Alex nodded. "I totally agree with you. Gather a few of the men and scout the area... somehow." Once the officer was gone, Alex pulled at his sweat-soaked shirt, wrinkled his nose in disgust and muttered, "I guess it's time to change clothes once more and refresh. I so fucking hate it here."
It was still early in the morning and silent in the tree house as Sam was awakened by Shakira. The panther was climbing restlessly through the tree above the roof of the house.
Unsure, Sam also climbed to the top and looked around over the jungle, scanning her surroundings, carefully. In the north her sharp, watchful glance discovered a swarm of startled birds that flew over the tree's tops.
Hissing and baring her teeth, Shakira joined her.
"I know. You too can feel the danger that's lurking in the north."
The panther gently rubbed her head against Sam's naked thigh in confirmation.
Meanwhile, Liz had woken up too. Happily she called up, "Good morning! You know, Sam, I actually should be mad at you. You are in no condition to do any extreme climbing just yet."
"I will be down in a second," came the answer. The jungle woman whispered in Shakira's ear, "Liz must not know anything about the danger, understood?"
The wild cat looked at her knowingly with her amber-colored eyes.
At the tree house, the blonde had prepared everything for a good breakfast.
Shakira curled up on her sleeping mat, but the twitching tip of her tail betrayed her nervousness.
Sam too had problems with acting normal, her mind still circling around the birds she had seen that must have been fleeing from something.
Liz noticed the jungle woman's inner tension and looked at her, inquisitively. "Is everything okay?"
Startled, Sam looked at her.
"You know, both of you are acting quite weird," the business woman mentioned.
Sam grew even more tense. Breathlessly, she stared at the blonde.
Liz rose and started to pace in between the brunette and the panther. Then she began to grin and pointed her finger from one to the other. "I think I got it now. You two think that I am a stay-at-home while you two want to go out, greeting the new day and exploring." Liz' grin widened in happiness about her brilliant idea.
Sam cocked her head, now looking at her in utter confusion.
"Don't look at me like that, Sam," the blonde said, brandishing her index finger wildly in front of the stunned jungle woman's face. "I have a wonderful suggestion concerning our excitement for today. Why don't we take a little trip to the caves?"
Sam thought about this a moment. 'The caves are exactly in the opposite direction... Liz would be safe there until the danger is gone. Maybe I can also find out about what it is that startled the birds.' A smile appeared on her tanned features as Sam announced, "Okay, that is a very nice idea."
Liz clapped her hands once. "Alrighty, let's grab a vine and swing off, my Jungle Princess."
Sam felt an incredible warmth spread through her as she heard these words.
Surrounded by warm water and foam, Alexander was relaxing in the portable folding tub. The commander of his troop entered the tent to report about the scouting that had taken place. "Sir."
Alex took his time to acknowledge the man's presence. "Want a glass of champagne too?"
"No, thank you, Sir," the man said politely.
"Your loss... so... found anything interesting out there?"
"Here, we didn't find anything..."
"Good," Alexander interrupted him, happily. "Can we go back home then?"
"Well, Sir... Actually, one of the men discovered something weird on the hill."
"Weird?" Alex asked, curious.
" In the south there is a steep reef in the middle of the jungle and... well..."
"What? What?!" Alexander grew impatient.
The other man took a deep breath and announced, "It seems that the man caught a glimpse of something that could be a plane turbine."
Alexander's eyes nearly popped out of his head and his jaw was about to hit the floor as he heard that. He jumped out of the tub, not the slightest concerned about his lack of clothes. "Get a helicopter ready right now. We will check that out immediately. Prepare everything that we might need."
At a leisurely pace, Liz and Sam were walking through the jungle side by side. They were on a path that an earlier storm had once carved through the vegetation. Liz steps were actually more of an excited, happy prance.
Delighted, Sam's eyes followed every of her charming moves. For her the blonde was like a gleaming creature of light, right out of a fairy tale. The rays of the sun that found their way through the thick leaf roof of the trees made the blonde hair shine like the purest gold. The soft wind was gently blowing and playing with the long strands. From time to time, Liz stopped to breathe in the wonderful scent of orchids and other exotic flowers. She danced bare-footed over dew covered grass, sending flirty glances to a totally overwhelmed Samantha.
The jungle woman's heart began to beat faster and harder. A feeling of immense happiness captured her.
"I'm feeling completely free and unbound. Like a little bird," Liz said, closed her eyes and spread her arms wide as if to fly.
Quickly, Sam reached for her hands and pulled the blonde close to her body.
Distracted, Liz opened her eyes and looked into the blue ones so close to her own. "Sam?"
Immediately, the jungle woman let go off her and turned around so that she didn't need to look into that questioning gaze. Sam regretted her emotional, uncontrolled reaction and explained, "For a moment I believed you would actually fly away, leaving me behind... all alone, once more."
Liz smiled and stepped closer to her, so that the brunette could feel her warm breath on her skin. Their hands found each other, the touch incredibly careful and gentle.
The blonde looked deeply into the bright sapphire eyes and whispered, "There is no chance that I would ever leave you alone, Sam."
An unusual, explosive tension was in the air. The business woman stood on the tips of her toes while Sam slowly bent towards her. They closed their eyes and their lips drew closer and closer.
Abruptly, the tender moment was interrupted by Shakira, who jumped hissing off a nearby branch.
Embarrassed and feeling a little caught, the women brought some distance in between their bodies.
"I think we are taking too long for Shakira's like to make it to the caves," Liz said, smiling bashfully.
Sam agreed, "Yes, we should go if we want to make it there any time soon."
A while later they had reached the place they had been at before. Some bad memories rose inside Liz, but she really wanted to see Sam's caves and she hid her fear from her.
Restless and extremely nervous, Shakira was still pacing.
Liz started to worry. "What is wrong with her today?"
"I don't know," Sam replied. "I do think it's better we just leave her alone and let her stride around the jungle for a while." She went on her knees in front of the big cat and whispered into her ear, "Go and hide deep in the center of the forest. Far away from the lurking danger." Still worried, Sam watched the panther leave, but she didn't want to say anything to Liz just yet.
Both women began to climb down the cliff toward the caves.
Powerful engines made the huge helicopter rise from the ground. Steadily, it climbed higher and higher. Giving Alex the binoculars, the commander pointed out the place where the search troop had discovered the plane, or whatever else it was.
Due to the ear shattering noise of the helicopter, Alex signed with his hands that he
wished to fly a little lower.
Hesitatingly, the officer fulfilled his order and the machine went down, flying dangerously close above the tree tops.
They flew over the well camouflaged tree house without seeing it and scared Shakira, who had retreated to that safe place. Panicked, the wild cat fled from the noisy monster of metal and raced in direction of the cliff.
Deep inside the subterranean grotto, Sam lit some torches that would illuminate their way.
After Liz' eyes had gotten used to the dim light, she was very impressed and awed by the extent of the caves. "Wow, I didn't know that such bizarre beauty would be hiding here.. Everything is sparkling in a pretty green-blue."
Sam was happy that the other woman seemed to like it so much. It also was taking her mind off the lurking danger. "That's because of the sea salt," the brunette explained. "Come on, there is much more to see... the part that holds my personal treasure and memories is a bit higher up, so that the water can't reach it." Sam took Liz' hand and led her into a smaller cave.
Liz' breath caught in her throat as she took in the almost cozy atmosphere that surrounded her. There was a couple of ancient books and her eyes wandered with interest over their titles.
Meanwhile, Sam sat down in a rocking chair, drawing an old blanket around her shoulders and twirled a delicately carved rosary between her fingers.
The blonde had a look around. Among the books, she discovered one that was wrapped in dark brown leather. Curiously, she thumbed through it and found some drawings. "Gabriel and Michael... and here is Lucifer, the fallen angel. These are very beautiful drawings..." she mumbled to herself, realizing now that this was Emily's book. All the things in here had once belonged to the old nun that had raised Samantha.
Her eyes wide in fear, Sam stared at the paintings on the cave walls. Her gaze was glued to the one that showed a panther, hunting for its prey. She jumped off the rocking chair and the rosary fell from her fingers. "SHAKIRA! I can feel her fear... She is in danger! I have to go and help her!"
Liz was scared as she saw naked fear in Sam's eyes.
"Please, Liz. Wait here for me." That said, she left the blonde standing there and hurried out of the cave.
The helicopter had been circling for a while over the place that the man from the search troop had described. They had discovered the wreck. A cold shiver traveled down Alexander's back. He had seen the number of the plane and the truth was staring right back at him. It was the private jet of the Parker family. "Oh my God," he muttered under his breath so that nobody else could hear him. "That is our private jet."
The commander looked at him with a dismayed expression. "Did you see something, Mr. Parker?"
"Yes, without any doubt. This is the plane."
The commander nodded. "Alright, we are going down."
After the helicopter had landed safely, the men jumped out. The engines were switched off and slowly the noise faded.
"Men," the commander ordered, "take your guns and release the safety catch. Everything just as during the first tour. Eight of you will go and scout ahead, the other six will stay here, close to Mr. Parker."
Alexander frowned. "Hey, what does that mean? I don't need any babysitters!"
"It will ensure your safety even more if you would take a weapon too," the commander told him. "Just as you said before, there may be lots of wild, dangerous animals around."
Alex looked over the jungle that spread out in front of him and then he pulled aside his vest. "Do you think that's enough?" he asked the other man, mockingly.
The commander looked at two revolvers with enough extra bullets for a small war. Besides that, Alex had a few hand grenades on his belt and from his boot was one huge knife looking out. Grinning self-confidently, he looked at the commander. Suddenly a loud hissing was heard.
At lightning speed, Alex pulled both his weapons and pulled the triggers like crazy. The bullets zigzagged wildly around, into each direction of the deep green jungle, while Alex took cover behind the commander's back. "What was that?"
The other man scanned his surroundings and became aware of a fast movement. "I think there is a panther striding about."
Immediately, a thought popped into Alexander's head. "They have shiny fur, don't they? That would be the ultimate welcoming gift for my beloved!"
"They are a protected species and the penalty for poaching animals is very high!"
Alex sighed in disappointment.
"We have to fight our way through the jungle for about 500 meters and then climb that rock to get to the plane."
Alexander observed how the other men were busy trying to cut a path through the deep vegetation, using sharp knives. "Isn't there a faster way? Couldn't we just burn a path into that fucking jungle?"
Taken aback, the commander stared at him. "That's impossible! We might lose control of the fire and the effects would cause a catastrophe!"
Alex pouted, but listened to the words of the commander.
The animals of the jungle were clearly upset and running away to hide where they could, trying to leave the lurking danger far behind.
Sam pulled a little hunting knife off her belt and each muscle of her body grew tight with tension. From a branch of a huge tree, she was observing the men that hacked their way through forest. 'Poachers!' was the first thought that entered her mind as she saw them. 'And they have big guns, just like last time.' For the moment, she kept her position and stared at them. There was one man in the group that had her complete attention and her eyes tightened to tiny slits. She didn't like him at all and he seemed to be the leader of the group. He was tall, well-muscled, had black hair and a freshly shaved beard. His body language screamed arrogance and selfishness and Sam found that he had mean eyes. 'He is not working hard like the others do, but to his enjoyment he rips out the flowers only to throw them away without giving them a second thought.'
As soon as the men were out of earshot she climbed down the tree and bent over in pain for a few seconds. "Argh, my ribs. Please, not now. The wounds are still hindering me, but I have to follow the poachers to find out about their intentions."
At a respectful distance she followed them, making sure they wouldn't see her, but that she could listen to their conversations.
"I have changed my mind," Alexander announced out of the blue.
The commander looked at him in confusion. "What?"
"That panther. I want it, no matter what it will cost me! I don't want that fucking beast to scare me again."
The other man decided it would be better to not answer.
Samantha heard Alexander's words with great dismay and unbound fury rose inside her. She really wanted to show herself and just kill the poacher but it was a deadly sin and she had to also think about Liz and her safety. That was first priority. 'Thank God that Liz isn't here.'
Meanwhile in the caves, Liz had taken a torch and was still looking around. With a big smile on her face she discovered the paintings on the cave walls. "All of them have to be Sam's work, how cute. Wow, she is very talented since she drew all that with just her fingers."
The business woman held up the torch and found scenes from Sam's daily life, before the blonde had appeared on the island. "A hunting sequence... fishing with a spear... awww, now that is sweet, Shakira as baby...oh my goodness... I guess this would be the poachers..." Liz looked at a group of men, holding guns. They were shooting at a panther that wasn't black but red. "That must be Shakira's mother... how cruel..."
She walked on and discovered a more peaceful picture. "I bet that's Emily, sitting in her rocking chair... with Sam on her lap... oh, and the little Sam has a garland of blossoms in her hair... Emily is reading to her the book about the Angels... Sam is holding on to the rosary and laughing... that is so beautiful..."
Suddenly, the blonde discovered a fresh painting on the next wall. "The paint has not completely dried yet..." She stepped closer and recognized something that looked like a fireball and next to it, over the sea, there was an angel floating. "Those features..." she whispered in awe, "... that's... that's me... that is me..." She was so touched by it that tears of joy welled up in her emerald colored eyes. "Oh Sam."
Liz looked to the exit of the cave and sighed. "I'm starting to get worried. She's been gone for such a long time." A horrifying thought reared its head. "What if something has happened to her because of her wounds? What if she is laying somewhere in pain and can't move? I have to go and search for her."
The search troop had now reached the rock and the commander said, "It seems that there is a little path, leading upwards. I think animals might use it."
"You think they are building their own roads?" Alexander had to laugh about his own stupid joke while the other man already started climbing.
It didn't take long and there also were no further problems on their way up. As soon as they all had reached the top, they could see the whole crashed plane for the first time.
Alexander's breath caught as he saw the black, burnt turbine rising from between the plants like a memorial of a horrible occurrence. He pulled his long knife and cut through the vines that had grown around one of the plane's doors.
His heart was pounding wildly as he stepped inside, not knowing what would await him in there. "I don't think there is anything left!" Alexander called out to the troop. "It's completely burnt out. What didn't became a victim of the flames was destroyed by these fucking plants... I can't see anything in the back of the plane... I'll go and check out the cockpit."
It took him a few efforts to open the partially melted door. Finally he broke through it with a strong kick. What he saw next horrified and disgusted him strongly.
There was the corpse of the pilot that had turned to a skeleton. Plants were growing out of his rib cage. Alexander swallowed hard. He had seen enough and decided to go back outside.
The men were looking at him, a mixture of curiosity and horror on their faces while they waited for him to tell them what he had discovered.
Alexander sighed, "It's too late for our Captain Bobby."
"Was there another body?" the commander asked, hesitatingly.
"No, definitely not." Alexander stepped closer to the abyss and looked at the jungle. He was just about to say something as they heard a crashing coming from the back part of the plane. Alex pulled his weapon. "Wait here. I will take care of that."
The commander grabbed his arm. "Mr. Parker... I don't think that's a good idea."
He looked scornfully at the hand on his arm and shook off the other man's grip. "I'm going to rip that fucking beast to shreds!" Alex declared and entered the wreck once more.
In the cargo hold, Sam was trying to loosen a strap that had wrapped around one of Shakira's paws. "Shhhh, my precious... calm down. We have to be silent so that the poachers can't discover us."
The wild cat was frightened and panicked, getting even more caught up in cargo straps and cargo nets.
Samantha was about to cry in frustration. "Please, Shakira. Please, trust me and be still. They will kill us if you are not."
Finally the panther listened to Sam's calming voice and stopped wriggling around.
The jungle woman's heart began to pound strongly in fear as she heard Alexander's advancing footsteps. "Come here, little pussycat... come out... come out... wherever you are..." his deep, scary voice rang out.
"Oh no. If he discovers you then it will be over." By now her heart was racing out of control. Desperately, she used her knife to free Shakira from the cargo nets.
"I can hear you, pussycat... come on... come to Daddy..."
Sam managed to cut through the cargo strap that was holding the panther's paw and the wild cat was finally free. "Go on, Shakira. Leave! I will hold him back!" With a firm, determined expression on her face, the jungle woman let loose an ear-shattering yell and jumped at the completely surprised Alexander.
"What..." That was all he managed to say before a strong leg hit his arm, kicking the revolver out of his hand. He fell on his back and as he reached for his weapon, she stepped on the back of his hand. A crunching sound was heard and Alex screamed in pain, "Owww! You fucking bitch broke my hand!" Furiously, he kicked with his legs and managed to make Sam fall, but she was back on her feet right away. Holding on to his wrists, she pressed him back down to the metal floor. Sam sat down on top of him, using her strong thigh muscles to keep his body pressed to the ground.
Alexander was so surprised about this reaction that he didn't move at all.
Her eyes glowing with hatred, Samantha stared down at him, until he finally found his voice.
He smirked and waggled his eyebrows. "Wow, you are one hot jungle momma... I'm Alex. Who are you?"
Sam's anger had reached the boiling point and she scratched him roughly across the face.
Alexander screamed once more and Sam disappeared through a hole in the hull, as did Shakira before her.
Holding on to his burning, bloody face, Alex stumbled outside to the men. "I need a doctor! There was this crazy bitch that attacked me for no reason."
The commander hurried off and came back a moment later with the first aid kit, taking care of the man's minor wounds.
Once Alex had somewhat recovered from his shock, he demanded, "I want the helicopter to come here and get us. I don't care if I will have to use a rope to climb inside it. But, I'm not staying one second longer in this fucking jungle or on that stupid island!"
The men looked at each other in confusion but didn't ask any more questions. They just followed his order and contacted the helicopter's pilot.
"SAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!" Liz called, while holding the angel book tightly pressed to her chest. "Just where are you?" Without the other woman's presence she felt alone and abandoned, and the fear of loneliness rose strongly. She took the rosary into her hands that she had wrapped around her neck and whispered, "I know, God, I never was much for praying but please, bring Sam back to me."
After a few seconds she shouted again, "SAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!"
Suddenly, she heard a rustling and a moment later Shakira jumped out of the bushes, followed closely by Sam.
Liz shot a quick glance to the sky and mumbled, "Thank you."
The brunette seemed to be in a hurry and grabbed her hand. "Come on, Liz. We have to go and hide..."
"Why?" the blonde interrupted her. Then she noticed that Sam hands were bleeding. "Sam, what happened? You are hurt..."
"I know, I must have cut myself when I was helping Shakira."
Liz' eyes widened. "What?"
"We don't have time for explanations... the poachers... Liz, there are poachers on the island." She took her hand in a firmer grip and dragged the blonde with her.
"They have a very nasty leader, who calls himself Alex..."
The blonde stopped dead in her tracks. "Alex?"
"Please, come on, we have to hide..."
"Alex?" Liz repeated as if caught in a trance.
"Yes, he is tall, has dark hair and a beard."
"Could it be..."
Sam grabbed Liz' shoulders and shook her harshly. "They have many guns!"
They heard a distant rumbling that seemed to get closer and closer to their position.
"That sounds like a motor... maybe a helicopter?" Liz said. She turned to Sam. "I need to go there."
Stunned, the jungle woman just looked at her. She didn't understand what was going on.
"Please, Sam. It is really important."
In the end the brunette relented and led Liz back to the crashed plane. They hid behind a fallen tree. Liz wanted to go on but Sam held her back.
The men were already inside the helicopter and Alex made a hand motion that they could pull him in at last. He lifted his thumb to show that he was okay and that he was strapped tightly to the rope that would pull him up.
As Liz recognized him, a little happy sound escaped her throat. "It really is Alex," she exclaimed, her whole face beaming. She had never been so happy to see him. "He came to rescue me. Oh, I have to get over there immediately before they fly off without me."
She didn't wait for Sam's answer, just started running as fast as she could on bare feet through the high grass.
Sam looked sadly at Shakira. "Yeah... to rescue you from me. Now Liz is leaving and I will be all alone again, just like before."
The panther rubbed her head against Sam's leg, purring quietly.
"Come on, Shakira. Let's go home. Liz will be with her true family soon."
The blonde was fighting against the heavy winds that rose due to the helicopter that was slowly climbing higher and higher. Again and again, she called out, "ALEX! ALEX! IT'S ME, LIZ!" She also tried everything else she could think of to get the crew's attention. She jumped up and down and waved, nothing seemed to work.
The engine's noise swallowed her words and soon the helicopter flew off.
As it was silent once more, Sam could hear Liz desperate sobs and ran over to her. She pulled her into her strong arms and started to rock her. "They were so close... so close... how could they not have seen me?"
Sam looked at the sky. "It wasn't meant to be."
They were still wrapped up in each other's arms as they suddenly hesitated. They looked at each other wide-eyed as the noise returned, growing louder with each passing second.
Liz rose. "It's coming closer!"
Sam stood hidden in the high grass but looked worried at the helicopter that came back toward them.
As it was right above them, Alexander stuck out his head and looked down suspiciously on a wildly waving Liz and a paralyzed Sam. He waved back and used the rope once more to get to the ground.
The business woman was overwhelmed by feelings and was prancing around Sam like an excited child on Christmas. "That is so great. I could burst with happiness. Everything is going to be okay now."
As Alexander's feet touched the ground, he freed himself from the rope and hurried to Liz. Placing a passionate kiss on her lips, he hugged her tightly. "Oh my precious Liz. Finally, I got you back. From today on, nothing can separate us ever again."
The blonde was embarrassed by his open show of affection and she cleared her throat. Unsure, her eyes traveled to the side, looking at Samantha.
Alexander followed her gaze. His face hardened and he grumbled at Sam, "Thanks for the nice greeting earlier."
Liz forgot everything in this moment because she was so happy. "Oh, you already met and became friends? That's great, because I want Sam to come with us."
Once these words had left her mouth, both, Alexander and Samantha, had the same deer-caught-in-the-headlight-look on their faces.
"What?" Alex asked. "Liz, think about this, really. I'm sure your so called Sam would like to stay here... together with the nice plants and nice animals, on this nice, little island. I'm sure you could visit her once a year or so..."
Liz was not about to back down. "Please, Alex. She is hurt and needs a doctor."
He rubbed his forehead. "If you look closely at my face then you can see that I need one too..."
"I am not leaving here without Sam!"
"Alright, dear. But shouldn't you leave that decision to your little savage?"
Liz was a bit upset about Alexander's behavior and his words. She turned around to Sam, but the brunette had disappeared. "Sam?"
Alex smirked, "Well, I think she already made her choice."
The blonde couldn't believe it.
"Come on, let's get finally out of that fucking jungle."
Liz didn't move and muttered, "Is that what you truly want, Sam?"
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