Captain David Tourney sat in his car thinking. He'd endured a trying time listening to the crap from Axel Randal. Intimating Olivia was a common burglar, and he wanted her off the streets. Well one thing he knew for sure, Olivia was no burglar, and she wasn't common, period! Having her off the streets until she calmed down was something he agreed with. Although at her own liberty, and not under arrest or incarcerated. Interesting that Axel looked smug and self-confident, untouchable was a better expression.
The activity of the men guarding this property appeared to be somewhat over the top in his estimation and although he didn't agree with private vigilantes he had to concede that some people with power were better able to defend themselves and their property than the local police. He'd have a man stationed near each gate entrance, both front and back and if Randal made a move to leave his properly, he'd have him discreetly followed. Yes that was a plan, and right now the only one he knew he could rely on.
The biggest question was where would Olivia go? The answer, simple really, back to where she was needed the most. Right now he suspected that was where Randal's wife was, with major trouble brewing, he'd stake his badge on it!
+ + +
Olivia was grateful for one thing in all this mess, deciding to return here to help these women. The zoom in shot of the three men, who were parting company, as she briefly checked the screen, was interesting. The guy in the background was the one she and the doc had seen at the convent. Now this is really taking a curious turn, how is he involved? Her glance briefly speculated on Sister Marie, maybe she had been the mystery nun at the convent that night? It had some logic attached to it in a perverse kind of way, but she didn't think the nun had any idea who the man was. Her demeanour would have been different and anyway she'd know the voice and it certainly wasn't Sister Marie. The other two were the goons who had been lurking around since the man had entered her office and asked for her earlier in the day, as she'd feigned to be the secretary.
Then she noticed the screen with the log in prompt, "Who's been playing with my equipment?" as her voice held a hint of steel. Danielle coloured slightly and said she'd tried to use the zoom facility in the computer but nothing else well except the volume control. "What about this, what were you trying to do?"
Danielle shook her head negatively, she hadn't touched that console. "I didn't realise that I'd done that sorry." Her voice felt pitifully inadequate as she saw the serious expression in the detective's eyes.
Amelia chose that moment to speak, "It wasn't Danielle. It was me Detective. I was trying to find the zoom for the camera and touched a few buttons here and there. Did I do something critical to your system?"
Olivia smiled silently. She had a suspicion that the doctor was probably to blame. For some inexplicable reason the doc had that kind of disruptive effect on things around her, or at least in her presence anyway. "Now why didn't I know that immediately Doc? You seem to have that kind of disruptive effect, or is it only around me that you like to disrupt everything you can, I wonder?"
"Now that's not true and you know it!" Amelia blustered as she was silenced by a finger being put to her lips.
"For once Doc will you be quiet and do as I say? It might save your life." Olivia had seen another figure in the alley from the monitor that had been disabled by the doctor. However this person was even more familiar to her. What the hell was he doing here and how did he know they would even be here?
Amelia was silenced by the tone and manner of the detective who had become almost should she'd say remote. Furiously tapping instructions into her computer and flicking various switches on a large board into new positions. The aggrieved look Amelia received from the detective with eyebrows raised annoyed her. It wasn't her fault that she'd left them defenceless, what else could she expect? At least I'd been trying to help even if everything I did hadn't quite gone according to plan.
"What do you want us to do?" Amelia finally asked as they looked around the room like triple spare wheels with no place to go.
Glancing up briefly, Olivia muttered something inaudible and then flashed a brief smile at Danielle. That made Amelia seethe inside even more, especially with what was said next. "Danielle, take my seat and watch all the monitors. If anyone and I mean anyone, gets close enough to try and breach the building, holler."
With a grateful flashing smile, Danielle took the offered seat.
Sister Marie who had watched and listened intently to everything said, and not said in the room could feel the inner tension Amelia West emitted. It had nothing to do with the men outside the building. Detective Santos was working with adrenalin pumping so hard she would never notice that potentially she was hurting the doctor with her words and actions, or lack of them. Then she was drawn into the scene herself as Olivia Santos spoke directly to her.
"Sister, I know it's a tough situation here right now and I apologise for putting you and your baby in jeopardy, but would you do something for me?"
The gentle words would have many speculating if the detective was as hard as she appeared. She was! There was no getting away from that fact. However, she apparently had a soft spot or two, and fortunately for her it appeared the detective respected and wanted to help her. "Of course anything?"
"I need you to take a protective stance inside the jeep. At this moment I'm not sure what these men have as far as an agenda. One thing I do know is that people who carry weapons usually are up to no good, unless they are the police. The jeep is well protected and if you take this," Olivia handed the nun a small device, "You can activate the locking mechanism and initiate attack mode, which will ensure that anything that comes within a foot of your position will be neutralised. Let me show you." Olivia quickly explained which buttons to push, accompanied by a warm relaxed smile. "Don't be scared Sister. I'm banking on you not needing to use it; because if you do, we both know what that would mean."
Sister Marie stared into Olivia's eyes, she masked nothing and that was as it should be. Secrets were so easy to misinterpret and create mischief. It was perfectly clear to her the only time she would need it was if the detective was incapacitated, or worse dead. "I'll be inside the vehicle waiting, thank you Olivia."
Amelia listened to the conversation in astonishment, and was hard pressed not to stare at them with an open mouth. As the Sister walked towards the vehicle Olivia moved in the opposite direction. Insulted, and worse, annoyed at being left to her own devices, Amelia quickly caught up to the detective placing a restraining hand on her leather clad well-muscled arm.
Clear eyes gazed at first her hand, and then into her eyes, a question hovered in her eyes and it wasn't friendly.
"What about me?"
Olivia shook the hand away and proceeded to carry on with whatever she was going to do, voicing shortly, "What about you?"
"Don't you have a role for me in all this?" Her voice was tentative rather than demanding.
Olivia turned back to face the doctor, more because of the tone of her voice than the question itself. "Doctor no disrespect to you, but in the short time we've worked together, when have you ever done anything I've asked of you? Right now we don't have the luxury of you disobeying me, or me second guessing if you will do what I ask. I can't take the risk. If you want something to do, go talk with Sister Marie and keep your head down. Not that I'll make that an instruction because it wouldn't exactly work with you would it."
Amelia's eyes crinkled at the side as she frowned at the statement. Am I really that bad? Then she realised that the detective was right. There hadn't been one instruction given that she hadn't changed or disobeyed and in truth it wasn't like her. "If I promised to do as you say to the letter will you let me help you?"
There is no time for this , Olivia thought as she shook her head at the question. "Look Doc, things are pretty bad at the moment. I don't know what's going to happen. If I were you, I'd take the protection the jeep has to offer." A part of Olivia wanted to have the doctor close by because at least that way she'd know what the woman was up to. Another part wanted her out of harms way, as she'd provided for the Sister. Both vied for supremacy in her mind.
"I'd rather be with you." Amelia finally spoke quietly but with determination, because right now to her way of thinking the detective to her was the safest place on earth. Except it wasn't her logic working that one out. She didn't know why she thought that or if the detective would even consider it, all she knew was that it was the right place to be for her.
The words struck an emotional cord inside Olivia, but right now was not a time to dwell on what that cord was exactly. "Okay. I'm going onto the roof. You can watch my back and inform me immediately if Danielle sees anything happening."
With a beaming smile Amelia virtually galloped up to the detective and followed her as closely as possible to the ladder that lead to the roof. Olivia removed her leather jacket and deposited without a backward glance into Amelia's lap for safe keeping, then climbed the ladder with ease as she opened the door leading to the roof. Walking quickly to the edge of the small wall she avoided a jagged object more by luck than anything else as she crouched down and peered over the edge. Fortunately the wall totally enclosed the building's roof, one of the beauties of having an old building. At one time people probably came up here and used it as you would a patio in one of the newer townhouses. Now she doubted it was used at all, except in this case.
Olivia had her tumultuous thoughts about her partner encased in a safe haven inside her head at the moment. One thing she had learnt very well over the years was to shut out anything that might endanger those that needed her help. She'd already done that once today by leaving the three women alone. She wouldn't do that again. Whatever happened now, the only way she would leave these women without protection was in a body bag. Darn it she'd forgotten her binoculars and she'd dearly love to lip read the conversation between the two goons standing directly in her line of sight. Scrambling backwards carefully to avoid the rusted object that was in her path to the exit, she popped her head inside the door and shouted as quietly as possible down to the doctor.
"Doc, I need you to reach inside the pocket of my jacket and throw me up the binoculars."
Amelia without hesitation scrambled inside the left and then the right pocket to extract the object required. Throwing the eye glasses into the secure hands of the detective, who disappeared out of view with barely a discernible word of thanks.
As quickly as she'd left she settled back down in her last position and thankfully the goons were still there. Placing the optical instrument to her eyes she adjusted the lens and tracked first one of the guys and then the next.
"Always did hate waiting around."
"He told us it wasn't our concern and I'd rather be out of it. Besides I like the boss's wife, she was always nice. Especially with those cookies she baked for us in the winter."
"Ah, you and your stomach. We've waited here all day and no action. I think we should call Finn."
"Call him then and see what he says. I bet we have to wait here until he knows who has given the orders. Weird though how he's here. Don't you think?"
"I don't get paid to think Christie. I'll call Finn."
Olivia had to say she agreed with one thing that she'd managed to hear. How did he get here? Her eyes wandered to the person in question who was in a heavy conversation with the guy she and the doctor had seen at the convent. Now that did shed more light on the situation, perhaps there wasn't anything nefarious with that event as they had first thought it was possible. Yeah in your dreams Santos! Pondering that for a few seconds she was quickly dragged back to the moment as the two men split up and then she looked back to the goons who it would appear hadn't changed their positions, which could mean only one thing they had been told not to interfere by their boss, even more intriguing, but that didn't mean if things got ugly they wouldn't participate.
Carefully watching where the first guy went she lost him as he disappeared under the awning covering the side door to the building. The other party merely watched from his vantage point and then he turned away, apparently leaving the area. Olivia decided it was best to take up a position inside the building for the moment. Forgetting for a moment any obstacles, she headed towards the roof door but her foot caught unexpectedly on the jagged piece of metal that she'd avoided previously. It sliced through her boot and lodged itself in the ball of her foot. The initial pain made her flinch as she sucked in a deep breath and then pulled hard to try and dislodge the object. The pain that caused was excruciating and involuntarily she let out a cry of pain, there was no way that someone below wouldn't hear. Especially as seconds later the door flew open and the doctor stood there with a worried expression on her face. Does that woman ever do what she is told!
"Are you okay? I heard you cry out." Amelia saw the pain etched on the detective's face, a sure sign she wasn't.
Olivia grimaced as she shook her head slightly and motioned for Amelia to come closer. When she did, Olivia grasped her shoulder in a vice-like grip. With a mutter of, "Hold still." She clenched her teeth tightly shut to prevent another cry from emitting as she pulled hard to release her foot from its prison and when she did she noticed a large rusty bolt that had somehow become broken leaving a sharp, jagged edge. "Thanks, I'm okay now. We need to go back inside." Glancing down to the injured foot she attempted to put her weight onto it and then closed her eyes briefly at the pain. She realized she was going to have to shut out the pain if she wanted to get the job done here."
"You're bleeding let me look at it?" Amelia pleaded but knew it would fall on deaf ears.
"No time for that right now. Let's go Doc or you might end up mincemeat." She pushed the doctor towards the exit and followed her down the ladder.
Danielle's eye flew to them as they headed in her direction. Before she knew it Olivia was pressing several buttons and the cameras were zooming into new positions. "Are we okay? I didn't see anything."
The anxious question was valid enough and as she scanned the area where the man had gone she saw that he had a gun raised and was using a decoder device on the door. It wouldn't be long before they knew what the intentions were of these men and in her mind it was clearly no good. "It's time for you and the doctor to keep Sister Marie company."
Danielle saw that Amelia was about to protest and quietly placed a hand on her arm and gave her a look and a shake of her head. "Let's go Amelia, she's right you know."
Amelia wanted to shout out she isn't always right! And she is injured too! Hadn't she noticed? Probably was bleeding profusely from the wound which wasn't a good thing. Not to mention the fact that she would get an infection if it wasn't treated sooner rather than later. "I can't leave her on her own Danielle, she needs our help!"
Danielle turned to observe the detective. Olivia was oblivious of them at that moment and probably wouldn't take kindly to her direction not being taken seriously. "She knows what to do Amelia. Please we can do more good with the Sister; she's probably scared and needs us more. After all, isn't she your responsibility?"
"Yes, yes she is. Thanks for reminding me Danielle. You go ahead I'll be there in a second I promise." Amelia smiled reassuringly at the woman who with a smile nodded and left her.
Olivia chose that moment to look up and with a slight snort rolled her eyes at the doctor. "I see true to your usual performances since we've met you're still here no matter what I say."
There are times in life when violence no matter how much you abhor it manages to raise its head even if for only a second. Amelia glared at the detective as she spoke, "I'm going. I was only about to say if you needed"
Olivia locked gazes and nodded, "I appreciate the concern Amelia. However, right now you're more trouble to me in the open than in the jeep."
A warm feeling travelled through Amelia at the detective's use of her name as she found it difficult to escape the direct eye contact, not that she was in a hurry to do so. "I promise not to play with the controls Detective." Amelia felt that the voice wasn't her own as she rasped the words out like the sound of scratching sandpaper.
"Good idea. One day I'll teach you how to use all the equipment. Is that a good enough trade for your cooperation now?" Olivia's body moved away from the console slightly to bring their bodies inches from each other and Amelia felt her heart racing at the nearness of the detective.
Breathlessly Amelia answered, "I'll hold you to that detective." A part of her was disappointed as the detective began to turn her towards the jeep and the relative safety it provided. Then she felt that familiar flick of her nose and for the first time she wasn't annoyed. She felt like she floated towards the vehicle and the door that opened as she arrived there.
Climbing inside she broke out of her day-dreaming and smiled at the two women inside. "We'll be out of here soon I'm sure of it."
Sister Marie gave the doctor a long hard glance and then with a slight smile nodded her head. Danielle muttered something inaudible and began her vigilance of watching for any intruders.
Amelia sat back in the leather seat and wondered what was happening to her and why it didn't make her feel guilty.
+ + +
Father Johansson stepped towards the door of the office and tried to open it. As he suspected the door was locked. Reaching inside his tunic, he pulled out a cell phone, a modern contraption that should never have been invented. The object annoyed him immensely when the ringing of some of his parishioner's phones in the church diverted their attention from his sermons to another place. Today he had decided to borrow his verger's phone and Teal had given him Amelia's cell number which he now dialled. He impatiently waited for it to be picked up.
Amelia heard the cell ringing and she looked at the number. It was unfamiliar to her and right now she didn't want to take a cold call. Though she had to admit she was intrigued as to who had her number - she only ever gave it out to people who were desperate patients or her friends.
"Are you going to answer that Amelia? I hate it when people leave a phone ringing." Danielle asked, her tone sounded cross.
"Sure. Hi this is Amelia West."
"My dear at last! I'm outside the office but its locked can you let me in please?"
"Father! My goodness I'd forgotten about you. Well, that is not exactly look maybe we can talk tomorrow, because right now isn't the best of times Father." Amelia smote a hand to her head she really had partially forgotten about the priest.
Father Johansson leaned against the wall and a slow smile crossed his lips. "Amelia I can probably help. Why don't you let me in and we can talk about it."
As she pondered that possibility another came to mind. He wasn't safe out there and no way would the detective want the priest harmed. "Give me a few minutes Father but you'll need to make it around to the back. There's a side entrance to the building behind Detective Santo's office. If you come across anyone there please Father, walk on by. Whatever you do don't get involved."
With a chuckle that made Amelia feel a little better, the priest's natural air of optimism always had that effect on her.
"I'll do that my dear." The call ended as the priest watched carefully for any other people around. He did see two men situated at the other end of the alley but no one close to the door mentioned as he walked slowly towards it.
Amelia opened the side door of the Jeep out of view of the detective as Danielle spoke to her urgently. "Do you think you should be doing this without Olivia's knowledge?"
The mention of the detective by name had Amelia's hackles rising as with a fiery expression in her eyes she shot back, "She'll understand perfectly. No way will the detectivewant Father Johansson out there in the middle of this without protection."
"Well if you're sure" Danielle trailed off as she was shot a glance from Amelia that would have made her a statue.
A quiet voice entered the conversation. "How will you let him in Amelia without Olivia's knowledge?"
Oh, so Sister Marie is on familiar terms with the detective too. Then she realised what she was said and closed her eyes briefly in deep thought. Oh no, what am I thinking? "I'll think of something!" She answered abruptly as she closed the door on the other two.
Danielle wasn't sure what was happening as her puzzled expression turned to the calm sedate one of the nun's. "Am I missing something here Sister?"
With a gentle smile, Sister Marie shook her head. "No. I'm afraid that some things are not easily explained. When two totally different worlds collide, as in the case of Olivia and Amelia, it is hard to judge the outcome or what may happen."
Not totally understanding the meaning behind the words Danielle decided to smile politely and go back to her post of watching for anything new.
Amelia was seething inside. Who do they think they are to question me on what is right or wrong in this situation.I'm intelligent and adult enough to know what is right in this case. I don't need permission from the detective! Although, as she headed towards the side door she knew in her heart that it was a mistake not to involve the detective. Oliviathe detective's name rolled around in her head as she tried to open the door. The name is alien and familiar all at the same time. What the heck is happening to me?
Glancing around, she saw there were various wires attached to the door, which she surmised could be part of an alarm. They look a bit like the ones in my office.Oh well, if I break the odd circuit in a good cause I figure it will be okay with everyone. Now, to find something to cut it with. As luck would have it, on the shelf above her there was a paring knife. This might do the trick. The scenario reminded her of a cheesy movie when the tools required to save the victim always miraculously appeared. Well, I'll certainly be thanking God in my prayers when we get out of this situation. Providence was definitely on her side as she saw a small crate that looked like it could take her weight. Placing it strategically in front of the door, she carefully, with a sawing action, began her task of cutting the wire. As she was almost through, she suddenly realised that this wire could be live. Closing her eyes and sending up a brief prayer, she cut the wire and with it she heard a faint alarm sound in the background and a snick as if a bolt had been opened. Kicking the box aside, she opened the deadlock and prised the door open. Thankfully it opened and she saw the familiar smiling face of the priest waiting for her.
"Father, get in here quick!" She pulled at the priest's cassock dragging him inside hastily.
Father Johansson was surprised at the action but did as bid and engulfed her in a warm hug. "I'm mightily glad you're looking good child."
Amelia grinned forgetting everything else but that the priest was okay. "I am at the moment Father. Look we need to go someplace safe and I'll explain if I can." Without another word, she pulled the priest towards the vehicle and the relative safety that it afforded. Opening the door to the Jeep, she helped the old man inside the vehicle.
The detective was heading in their direction and she realized that there would be time later to explain about the Father's presence. She didn‘t need to inflict another person for the detective to worry about.
+ + +
Olivia had been monitoring the man at the main entrance to the storage area. So far whatever he was doing wasn't working successfully. It was a good sign that her preventative measures were working. They should, especially the doors, which were state of the art technology.
So far so good, but that didn't really help. She needed to have a plan to take these women to safety, which she had thought this place would be but apparently it hadn't been. As she pondered her situation she decided there was only one thing for it she needed help and only the help of people who could solve this legally. She pressed a sequence of numbers and a login prompt appeared. The same as had been on her screen earlier, the doctor bless her, had a way of finding her vulnerable points without any effort. If she'd look at the screen carefully she would have seen that it was for a government department, not normally accessible to the common man. Thankfully none of the women had taken that much notice, if they had well I may of had to shoot them. The thought made her smile when the alarm kicked in for the side door. It seemed as if the security measures that were in place had been overridden. Damn I thought I had that covered!
Gingerly she stood up and wished she hadn't as the pain, from the minor injury as she termed it, kicked her like a mule. Grimacing at the pain - a weakness on her part - she headed, with gun in hand, towards the door carefully. If the door has been compromised there is no knowing who might be in the building now.
As she made the door, she heard a click and turned around suddenly as her eyes tracked to the Jeep. There was no movement around there. Thank goodness. She reached for the door knob and opened the door slightly. It opened without a problem, we've been breached! Furtively her eyes shot around the vicinity and saw nothing unusual. Slowly she closed the door and locked the deadbolt. It would keep someone out for a short time and maybe give them a chance if only one person had entered. Carefully she made her way back to the console and pressed several switches and checked the screens. Now the cameras inside were the focus and so far she didn't see anyone or anything amiss. This is strange. No one knew there were internal cameras certainly not the others in the building with her. Therefore, by all the normal rules, if an intruder had entered they would be relatively easy to find. As she kept her concentration on the monitors, she logged her password onto the computer. Almost immediately a blank e-mail message came up and, without hesitation, she quickly wrote a cryptic note and sent the message then logged off immediately.
Taking one of the monitors off internal scanning, she checked the camera that was trained on the guy trying to breach the main doors. He was nowhere to be seen. Damn it where is he? She had choices - turn all the outside cameras back on, or concentrate on the internal cameras. The internal won her over as she waited for any flicker in any corner, be it mice or men, she'd eliminate the intruder at once.
Olivia waited assured of one thing - the email she'd sent would have help at hand in the next hour no matter what happened to her personally.
+ + +
Father Johansson gripped Sister Marie's hands and smiled warmly at her. "Why Sister, what adventures have you been on today I wonder?"
Sister Marie gave the old man a few seconds of contact and then she carefully withdrew her hand from his hold. "Nothing that won't be resolved soon Father."
His greying eyebrows withdrew into his forehead as he gave her a quizzical look and turned to Danielle who was a stranger to him. "Why Amelia aren't you going to introduce me to this lovely lady."
Amelia grinned; as always the priest was charming. It must be his American-Irish ancestry. He told her stories of when he was a boy and how he had to beg borrow and steal to live when he was growing up. "This is Danielle Frobisher, Father. Danielle this is a great friend and mentor of mine, Father Johansson."
Danielle had been surprised at Amelia's resourcefulness in getting the priest inside the building, but wondered in silence if that was a foolish accomplishment. Well, he looks harmless although he looks a little familiar to me. Although that could be because she was hoping that with a nun and now a priest in tow, God wouldn't abandon them. "Pleased to meet you Father. Are you as wayward as Amelia?" She'd said that without thinking and if it hadn't been for the small chuckle from Sister Marie she thought she'd committed one of the deadly sins. The looks she received from both Amelia and the priest were different.
"Amelia, why did you take Sister Marie from her transport today?"
Before Amelia could answer, she was shocked to hear Sister Marie answer for her. "I asked her to Father. Is there a problem with that?"
Father Johansson stared hard at the nun stunned that she would speak without being spoken to. "No problem at all, except your convent is worried about you."
"My convent was happy to send me to a place I didn't want to go. Why would they be unhappy if I chose to go elsewhere on my own? I would have thought they would be relieved."
The priest took a few moments to answer as he looked at each of the women in the vehicle. They are no threat at all. "I'm sure that you are mistaken Sister. Perhaps if you go back"
"No! That is impossible now. Amelia is my saviour along with Olivia and DanielleI will never forget that."
"God is the only saviour we understand Sister. Have you forgotten that along with the father of your child?" the Father spat out maliciously. He was oblivious to the startled expressions of Amelia or Danielle.
"I know my allegiances Father, do you?" Sister Marie calmly asked with an expression of fortitude.
Amelia was surprised. No, astounded at the undercurrents the conversation was taking. Something isn't right here and it has nothing to do with Sister Marie's condition. However, to suspect Father Johansson after all the years she had known him was a limiting factor too. What is wrong with me these days? She knew she was not the most studious person around and, it was true she did do what others didn't want, but that was usually because she cared.
"Look this is getting us no place fast Father. It would appear we're in trouble and we need help."
Father Johansson looked closely at Amelia for any sign that she was steering the conversation for anything but to keep him from speaking to Sister Marie. "That's easily solved give them what they want."
All eyes turned to the Father whose expression was bland. "That's impossible!" The words exploded from Amelia. For the first time wondered if it had been a good decision to allow the Father inside the building or the security of the Jeep. If this goes sour, the detective is going to kill me unless someone else does it first.
Danielle for her part remained silent fascinated by the conversation. When events took a turn that involved her she waited and was not for the first time glad she'd allowed these women into her life.
Reaching inside his cassock, Father Johansson pulled out a gun. "Not impossible Amelia, prudent. Remove Mrs. Randal from the equation and we can work something out."
Oh no , she'd made the biggest mistake of her life and she knew it. Why didn't I say something to the detective? If we all get out of this I'll never make that mistake again ever!
"How do you know she's called Randal?"
An evil chuckle emitted from the priest. "Well let's just say that sometimes it's the right thing to know the inner secrets of all. Wouldn't you agree Sister Marie?"
Sister Marie shook her head and gave the priest a pained expression. "Nothing surprises me you know that. Let them go and I will not tell what you are."
"What are you talking about Sister?" Amelia interrupted abruptly. Tactics were okay at times but this was serious - he has a gun!
"Never fear Amelia, the Father and I know what I mean. Isn't that right Father?"
Father Johansson decided that now was a splendid time to allow his associate entrance and finish the few problems that had occurred. "Ladies allow me to call for help I'll be but a moment." He opened the door and slid out of the vehicle and headed for the breached door with his cell phone in his hand.
Olivia saw the movement of the vehicle but couldn't make out who it was that had left the vehicle. Going by the black garb it must be Sister Marie but why? Then her womanly instincts kicked in. It must be a bathroom thing. She is heavily pregnant after all. Damn, one piece of equipment I didn't think of for the Jeep. It wasn't safe for the nun to be walking around and she was about to go after the figure when her console beeped.
Incoming mail flashed in front of her and she decided to check it for the worse case scenario.
The outer breached door opened and in stepped the Father's associate. He said nothing other than a brief acknowledgement of the direction the Father sent him.
Father Johansson glanced over to the direction of a figure bent over the computer equipment in total concentration. He would finish this for good. It had been a folly of his to allow her so much rope. Time had now dwindled to zero for Olivia Santos.
"Olivia you look preoccupied."
Startled at the familiar voice, Olivia shot up from her reading and stared at the man she had, up until she saw him in the alley today, always trusted. "Perhaps I am Father. Isn't that the same with you? I'm amazed at your ability to break into my building."
"Yes, sadly that's true. I am preoccupied with you it would appear. I had help with the door. The doctor is a lovely if somewhat innocent personage. If you walk away now and leave the others to me, I can allow you your life. I think that's a fair trade." Johansson traded hard stares for all he was worth but Olivia was better, far better than he and his eyes fell away. Even though long ago he'd fallen from grace in the eyes of God, he still felt a gnawing in the pit of his stomach. What he did was wrong but he did it anyway for what he termed the greater good.
Olivia had long ago lost her innocence of who could be trusted. In her life only Max had warranted that accolade totally - he isn't here anymore. "Nope, I'm here for the greater good this time Father and I'm not letting your evil clutches touch any of them!"
A laugh, that touched the pits of hell, greeted her remarks. "Ah, as I thought, noble to the end. One day I really did think that you might have joined me. A pity I saddled you with that ass Max. He was so innocent to what the world can offer."
The mention of Max had Olivia's mind screaming for vengeance as she gripped the side of the desk while her other hand went to the gun at her hip. "What went wrong with you Father? Somehow I don't equate this to God's work?"
A bizarre laugh erupted from the priest as he edged forward. "God leads in mysterious ways haven't you heard of that one Olivia? When I was young I was a zealot for justice like you. This evil world we live in doesn't take into account the good people do, it only poisons the minds of so many innocents. Long ago I decided I could choose who would benefit but to do so had a price. One I gladly paid until now. I hadn't expected fate would intervene and bring Max, you and Amelia into my immoral life. I still have a part of me that regrets what is to happen next."
Olivia's sharp mind deduced quickly that Sister Marie wasn't mentioned. Danielle she knew had the connection to the Father in a bizarre way, but the Sister? Perhaps that could explain the nun's condition. Maybe that was why the nun refused to say who the father of the baby was. She had to know, it wouldn't be right to go to the grave without the truth. "What about Sister Marie?"
A sneer crossed the priest's face as he considered her question. "Ah the saintly Sister Marie who has been forced to fall from grace. She came across an operation that I had at the convent. Indeed providence itself was walking my path when they decided to ship her off to the hospital. I had a doctor waiting to take care of that small loose end. Dying in childbirth is such a tragic loss and easily covered up. Alas, Amelia decided to continue her work." He scowled and muttered, "I should have known," before continuing. "She was always like a dog with a bone, even as a child. I expected a different course for you Olivia, you surprised me."
The distaste Olivia felt at the calmly spoken words of taking the nun's life and that of her child had her mind working overtime as to how best to eradicate this scum off the face of the earth. "What about the baby's father? He might show up and make a scene."
"Impossible of course." He gave her a puzzled expression.
What the hell does that mean , she wondered.
"Now I'm afraid that I must leave. My associate will take care of the others. I am sorry Olivia for what I'm about to dosay hello to Max for me and say I'm sorry for him too. We shall meet in hell I'm sure." The old man raised his revolver and aimed but there was a moment of hesitation in his tired eyes.
Olivia had long ago wondered at the right of things and, without faltering, pulled her own gun from under the desk and shot the priest point blank in the heart. He slumped at her feet with an expression of shock on his face. Olivia stood up, the pain of her injury forgotten, as the adrenalin of what she had just done won over. Gazing at the body for a few seconds her lips pulled into a sneer as she whispered, "Forgive me Father for I have sinned, yeah right!" Her thoughts quickly travelled to the three women that had to be saved. She puzzled, which one is the real victim here? It appears that each is in her own right.
+ + +
The thin man, dressed as he was the night the women had seen him at the convent, walked confidently over to the vehicle the priest had indicated. This will be a piece of cake, especially since the old man had decided to take out the more troublesome female. A new move of his boss - he never sullied his hands when it came to the taking of a life, he left that, as it should be, to him or other associates. Approaching the vehicle his expression was blank. He never felt any emotion when taking a life, far from it. His boss, the priest, absolved him of all sins once the act was complete.
Tracing a finger over the Jeep, he decided that it needed cleaning. The next owner might keep it in better condition than the current one, who wouldn't need it much longer. Knocking on the dark glass, he waited for any response inside.
"Ladies I know you can hear me, I've come to helpaa, Father Johansson sent me. Please let me in and I'll take you to safety." His voice was cold and emotionless.
Inside the security of the Jeep, all three women glanced at each other. Amelia decided that as she'd brought this problem squarely to them it was up to her to deal with it.
"Danielle, you take care of Sister Marie and whatever you do don't let me back inside unless the detective is with me." She spoke with a bravery that she certainly didn't feel inside. Her eyes clouded slightly as she felt the tears start to sting. No way am I going to cry. I can't...not now.
Danielle grabbed her arm. "You can't go out there Amelia that would be suicide and you know it!"
"She's right Amelia, you can't go out there. Olivia told me what to do and she promised it would keep us safe." Sister Marie had seen the resolve appear in Amelia's expression and knew there was nothing they could do to bring her back from what must be instant disaster.
Beseeching both women to understand she pleaded with them, "I'm not doing this out of any act of bravery. Believe me, I'd like nothing better than to remain here but something tells me that I have to do this. I know you won't understand"
Danielle quickly interceded, "No I don't understand Amelia you're a psychiatrist not the police or a one woman army like Olivia out there. She can take care of herself in this situationyou can't!"
"That's just it Danielle. Can the detective take care of herself? She's already hurt!" The words bled from her like the wound on the detective's foot.
Sister Marie stared wondrously at the doctor. Her softly spoken words floated in the vehicle as she paused over the button that would activate the security on the vehicle. "Go Amelia. You and the detective's fate are intertwined." Danielle, shocked at the nun's response, was held back by a death grip preventing her from stopping the doctor's next course of action.
A grateful smile flashed over Amelia as she shouted to the man outside. "Get away from the door and I'll come out and we can talk."
The hit man's eyes smouldered slightly, oh this is so easy. "Go ahead I'm against the wall."
"Danielle, if he tries to push his way in use the security thingy."
Swallowing hard, Danielle nodded. She didn't like it though - Amelia might be hurt too if the security was activated.
Gingerly, Amelia unlocked the side door and slid out closing it behind her. She heard the lock engaged immediately. This is it, I'm on my own. "Okay, what do you have planned?"
The man moved from his position and as he did he heard the single gunshot. A faint smile hovered over his lips as he closed the gap between him and his prey. "The safest place you've ever been in your life. I believe they call it a coffin." He raised his gun and aimed it at her temple.
Foolish! Foolish notion that she could have helped anyone, she was as vulnerable as a baby. Closing her eyes, her last thoughts strangely enough were not of her parents or those she considered she loved in this life. No it was of Detective Santos and that she'd let her down again! The pain of the emotion that washed over her dulled what she knew was going to happen next.
The single shot seemed to echo around the walls of the building as Amelia slid onto the floor unmoving.
+ + +
Captain Tourney received a cryptic message from an unknown source that bullets had been fired in a building that he was in his vicinity. The speed of his vehicle increased as he jammed on the brakes to prevent his car from hitting the building and killing him. That would have been no use to the people inside the structure.
Climbing out, he glanced up and down the alley to assess the scene. All he saw was the fleeting backs of two men running away. If he had more support he would have sent someone after them but his first priority was to secure the building and the people inside. As he neared the main doors of the storage area he heard a shot, followed closely by another and then silence. Rattling on the doors and yelling at the top of his voice, "Police open up," he waited and hoped that what he'd heard wasn't something he dreaded.
Running around to the side door, he found that it was open, not a good sign. And, with gun raised, he cautiously entered the building. Carefully scanning every inch as he moved forward, he edged towards a shadowy figure huddled over a prone body on the floor. Darn it this doesn't look good.
"Hold it right there, raise your hands and move away from the body NOW!"
The dark figure didn't move at first and then slowly rose from their crouched position. Hands held high and the hair that washed around the features settled so he could make out the features. He saw clearly and it had him flashing a broad relieved smile, "Everything under control?"
Olivia Santos, her expression relieved but saddened as her eyes travelled over to her friend, the Captain, slowly nodded. "Yeah David, it's all under control now."
David Tourney heard the weariness in her voice as he glanced at the figure of a woman on the floor next to a darkly clothed crumbled figure with blood pouring out of a bullet wound to the head. "I'll call the paramedics."
"No need. The morgue is a better idea." Olivia glanced down at the bleeding body and then she shifted her attention to the other prone body of Amelia West.
David glanced around. "I'll do that Olivia, how many?" All he could see were the two bodies in front of him, which would stack with the shots he'd heard, though that didn't equate to the call he'd received.
"Two, only two today thank god."
"I'll check the perimeter for anyone else." David turned to leave and as he did he made a few calls.
With a tender smile on her face, Olivia knelt down beside the prone figure of the doctor and gently pushed the fair hair out of her eyes. "Hey there Amelia I didn't know you had it in you?" Bending slightly, she kissed the woman's forehead and pulled away abruptly as the eyes flickered open.
"Am I in heaven, it feels like it?" Amelia asked groggily. She felt the security of strong arms holding her and something else that right now seemed so right.
Olivia grinned, thankful that the doctor's dead faint happened when it did or the bullet meant for the man might have hit her too. "Well I guess this is the closest place to heaven on this hell on earth. How you feeling now Doc?"
Although she was tempted not to leave the peaceful security of the detective's arms, she had to find out about the others. The temptations that flooded through her concerning this woman were going to have to be paid for heavily when everything settled down. "Is everyone safe?"
Relinquishing her hold on the smaller woman, Olivia felt bereft for a moment and wanted nothing more than to hold the doctor close to her chest again. It brought her a peace she had never felt before in her life. With all that had happened to her in her life, she was loath to allow it to leave her however, she did reluctantly. As she stood she answered the question. "Let's find out shall we?" She held out her hand for the doctor. As she took the hand, Amelia felt the blood rush to her head slightly and clung onto the hand tightly.
The gentleness of the question had Amelia's heart beating erratically. This really shouldn't be happening to me. She had to be strong or all she knew in life would be lost and she didn't know if she had the strength to carry on without her old life people needed her. "I'm okay, thanks."
Olivia tapped on the vehicle and seconds later she heard the door locks being released. Danielle popped her head out and beamed a happy smile at them. "Thank god, we didn't know what to expect next."
"All accounted for Danielle. Now I think it's time we thought about getting you to safety. I've called in a marker. You and your son will be safe for the rest of your life I promise." Olivia quickly saw the grateful smile flash on the woman's face and there was an underlying expression in the eyes that told Olivia that if she wanted more it was there for the taking. Her eyes shifted to the nun sitting patiently in the back of the vehicle. As their eyes met, she knew that it would never be, had never been.
"How are you and the baby, Sister?" Olivia asked the nun softly. Danielle anxious to know what happened left the interior of the vehicle to speak with Amelia.
Sister Marie gave the detective a smile that shone so pure it felt to Olivia that she was being absolved of the necessity to kill, especially the priest, in defence of them. "We are good thank you Olivia. He's dead isn't he?"
There was no need to pussy foot around the question. They both knew what was being asked. "Yes. I killed him it was either him or me."
"I knew that it would come to that. You and he were destined to be an important part in each others lives. I will pray for his soul. He became lost in the soulless of modern life," the nun whispered more to herself than the detective.
"Are you going to pray for me Sister?" Olivia asked quietly. "I think I might need it."
A strange look crossed the nun's features before she spoke. "Of course I will pray for you Olivia. However someone else more important to your life will ease your soul, they just don't know how yet."
They both looked out of the partially open door to see a more animated Amelia talking with Danielle. "I'll wait," Olivia whispered to herself. "Let's go Sister. I want you to meet the friend of mine who is going to help you."
As they left the vehicle, the door opened again and in walked two official looking strangers. They glanced around the area before finally making eye contact with Olivia.
The detective said, "I'll be back," quickly and went to greet the new visitors.
+ + +
Amelia sat with Sister Marie who, after giving her statement to the police, was about to leave along with Danielle, with the people the detective had apparently contacted to help with a relocation programme. After her divorce was finalised, Danielle would testify that her husband had tried to kill her. However, the nice police captain had high hopes that if they could tie him to Max Anderton's murder, he would be convicted without her evidence.
"I'm going to miss you Sister, we never did finish our sessions. Perhaps when you get settled you can take council elsewhere." Amelia hoped that at some stage she might learn the nun's fate but, knowing government agencies, she doubted it. What an eternal question to have to live with; it will gnaw at me for years.
Sister Marie smiled serenely reminding Amelia once more of the first time she had ever seen the nun. "Perhaps some questions are better left unanswered Amelia. I know the answer and that is all that matters. Once my child is born the future will reveal all our secrets in due course."
She was right of course. After all they had been through in such a short period of time, the wonderful thought that perhaps a saviour might be born to rescue the human race wasn't such a bad thing. One thing Amelia knew for sure was that Sister Marie was going to make a wonderful, if unusual, mother. "I think you're right Sister. I just wish things could have been different, especially with Father Johansson."
The wistful words caused both women to pause before Sister Marie spoke gently. "He had his own demons Amelia. Have you ever looked into a mirror Amelia and wondered who the person is standing there? For a fragment of time the person who looks back is unknown, identity unfamiliar, occupation alien and with a personality not what you thought it."
Amelia's features changed and it took on a grim expression, her eyes disturbed with thoughts that troubled her. "Sometimes, I think most people experience that at least once. They doubt the choices they've made and consider what their life would be if they had taken a different path. Haven't you Sister?"
"No. I have always known who I am. My soul is at peace with all around it. Although we have known each other such a short time I know you are not so fortunate."
The nun's words pounded out in Amelia's head, she's right, she's right! "Have you any advice for me Sister before we go our separate ways?"
Sister Marie smiled warmly and placed a comforting hand on Amelia's lifeless hand lying in her lap. "I would be a poor soul redeemer if the basic problem that was causing you so much heart searching was unknown to me. You do know for sure that God is there to guide you. If you look around you will find your answer in what will be an unexpected place."
At that moment, Olivia appeared from behind the curtain closing off the bedroom area where the Sister had been resting until she left. "Are you ready to go Sister?"
With a bright smile, Sister Marie stood up. Amelia automatically rose, her thoughts a jumbled mess. Then the thin arms of the Sister wrapped around her and she was held tightly. The nun whispered so that no one else heard. "I said look around you Amelia, some answers are so close to home you might miss them. Oh and it might be best to confess all to a certain someone."
Releasing the stunned doctor, the nun, following the detective, appeared to float out of the area as Amelia stood there stunned. Confess all? How on earth can I? I don't even know what there is to confess. Oh yes one thing one very important thing.
Making a decision, Amelia left the bedroom area and walked over to Danielle who was kissing the detective's cheek and thanking her. A little bit too warmly she thought, but that wasn't her affair. "Hey Danielle good luck. If ever you need someone like me you know where to find me."
Danielle grinned warmly at Amelia. She liked the woman, even if she didn't particularly care for her profession. "I know Amelia, thank you for everything." The woman hugged her close and tears threatened to fall from them both.
"You're welcome anytime. I hope things work out for you and your son."
The sincerity in the words broke Danielle's composure as she thought of her son. "He's already safe Amelia, how great is that? Will you do something for me and Sister Marie?"
Puzzled but intrigued Amelia nodded her head. "Sure, what can I do?"
Danielle nodded in the direction of the detective who had moved away to talk with the other people nearby. "Look after her for us. I have a feeling when everything settles down she's going to need a friend."
Amelia looked in the direction of the detective, a friend? Wow, somehow friend and the detective don't seem to be a good pairing. "I'll do my best but we both know the detective's a little"
"I'm a little what exactly Doctor?" The quiet, yet authoritative voice of the detective vibrated so close to her ear she almost jumped out of her skin.
"Do you have to do that?"
"What is that exactly?" Olivia winked at Danielle. "Everyone is ready to go Danielle."
Danielle nodded her head then, with a brief emotional wave, left the two women in the building. She stepped inside the car that was taking her and Sister Marie to another life, shut the door as it roared into action. Then they were gone.
Inside the building, Amelia was left with the detective and the police captain, who was organising the removal of the bodies after the investigation team had finished. "How did you arrange that? Better yet when?"
Olivia felt the weight of the world shifting into another dimension as she considered the question. "I have contacts."
"That's it? You have contacts and I have to be satisfied with that answer?" Amelia switched around to face the woman who looked nonplussed by the sudden outrage in her voice.
"Yes." Olivia began to limp away. Apparently that was all she was prepared to say on the subject.
Amelia followed her and hooked a hand around her forearm to stop the woman. "Please, that isn't fair. After all we've been through you're going to leave me to speculate?"
Olivia stopped, turned slightly so that they faced each other barely inches apart and saw the desperate need to know in the doctor's eyes. "It's like this Doctorsome secrets are better left unanswered. I'm sure you have a few of your own you'd rather not share. Now, I need to see the captain and after that I'll take you home then we can go over anything you think I've left out. Okay with you?"
"No! No that's okay, I'll take a cab. I think we're all tuckered out by now and you need to have that foot taken care of." Amelia spoke so quickly Olivia's eyes crinkled as she stared at the woman.
Then, with the flick of her finger on the doctor's nose, she left with a quick, "see we all have secrets Doctor. I'll check on you tomorrow, sleep well."
Amelia stood with her mouth half opened. I wish the detective wouldn't do that! It didn't hurt exactly, but it reminded her of being treated like a kid. "Good night Detective Santos!"
As Amelia dialled the cab company, she recalled the Sister's words Ohand it might be best to confess all to a certain someone.
+ + +
David Tourney watched Olivia closely as she watched the body bag of the priest disappear into the county morgue vehicle. "If what you say is true there'll be no charges against you. Although we still have to talk with the church diocese and confirm their support in all this. Do you think they will cause a problem?"
Olivia turned her attention to her friend. "I wasn't blameless David. Even if he hadn't pulled a gun on me, I'd have probably ended up killing him when I found out his involvement in Max's death. Today I was lucky I guess, tomorrow might be a different situation if that bastard Axel thinks he can get away with his involvement."
"You haven't the proof yet Olivia, why don't you leave it to me. I promise he'll get justice if he had anything to do with Max's death. No way will we let scum like him get away with killing one of our own. Max was one of the good guys Olivia - he has a lot of friends at the precinct."
Olivia's expression turned cold and hard as she stared blankly at him; her mind was in a different world. "Pity it didn't save his lifeall those so called friends he had."
David heard the bitterness and he couldn't blame her. At the end of the day, Max had been the only person she'd allowed close since her brother had died. Now, he had to admit a lose cannon on the streets like Olivia Santos wasn't a good idea. Sooner or later she was going to end up before him on the wrong side of the law - the odds were stacked against her. That was unless she found someone or something else to help focus her deadly skills towards good and not the bad. "You know that there was nothing we could do. You couldn't have saved him Olivia, what you did here to help those women would have made Max proud." He saw the doubt in her eyes. "If you let yourself think about it you'll know I'm right."
"It doesn't make me feel better David. Look, if everything is sewn up for now I need to get some rest. We can take this up tomorrow at your." Olivia sighed heavily. She needed a shower and clean her foot, it ached like hell.
"Sure thing Olivia. Tell you what, I'll do better than that, tomorrow night I'll bring the paperwork and take you out to Sharkey's."
Olivia stared hard at the man, that was Max's favourite watering hole. Taking a deep breath, she nodded. "Yeah Sharkey's, Max wouldn't expect anything else."
A few minutes later, Olivia was standing in the building alone and as that thought resonated in her mind she wondered if this was it, all that is left. A life alone.
Then Sister Marie's last words echoed in her body and reached a place that fired up when she thought about it, her heart. However someone else more important to your life will ease your soul, they just don't know how yet.
Making her way to the bathroom she whispered to the empty building, "I'll see you tomorrow Doctor Amelia West."
+ + +
Teal was having a hard time taking in all that had happened to Amelia and the others. I'm definitely not going to church on Sunday to confess my sins. In all this she had been as fortunate as the others. Father Johansson might have decided to silence her for good too.
"Mother Superior isn't going to let you take this lightly Amelia, you know that, right?" Teal bounced off the side of the desk where she'd been sitting talking with her friend when she heard the inner doorbell chime.
Amelia pulled a face as she straightened her clothes. My meeting with the Mother is going to be one humdinger I know that. "I'd take the afternoon off if I were you Teal. I have a suspicion that my meeting isn't going to be short. You can tell whoever is there that we'll get back to them as soon as possible."
"I will take care of the office don't worry." Opening the door, she turned back with a concerned look on her face. "You don't think that they will well you know!"
For a few seconds Amelia considered her friend's concern. It had kept her awake all night particularly after a hurried explanation on the phone last night. She'd taken the opportunity of going to her parents and staying with them. She hadn't filled in any details but they knew something was wrong. They also knew that to pry had never worked with their daughter. If they waited she would tell them, true to form she had the next morning, and they were in shock. No more than she was really, but things had been moving so fast she had barely had time to decipher how all this had affected her life. "I don't know Teal perhaps they will. You'd better see who the visitor is."
As she spoke, the door was pushed open wider in a gentle fashion not to injure the small woman standing holding the handle. "Hey there Teal how are you today?"
The sound of the detective's voice had a double effect in the room. Teal squealed with pleasure at seeing the much taller woman and beamed a happy smile as she once more thought what a stunner the detective was. Amelia, for her part, closed her eyes. She hadn't expected the detective and right now was not a good time, especially now!
As the detective moved into the room, her eyes rested immediately on Amelia and a stunned feeling flooded her as she took in the woman sitting behind the desk. Olivia finally asked in a shocked voice, "You okay?"
"As you can see I'm perfectly well Detective Santos. Thank you for asking. What about you? Did you take care of your foot?" Amelia hadn't wanted this to happen she had rehearsed in her head during the night how she would tell the detective and this hadn't been the way.
Teal noticed the tension and where Olivia's eyes seemed to be stuck and it wasn't on a woman's normal assets. Oh no! Amelia didn't bother mentioning her other profession! "I'll fetch us all coffee," she said quietly closing the door firmly shut behind her.
Finally, Olivia shook her head as the strangely funny side of this situation hit her and she smiled. Rubbing her chin thoughtfully she spoke, "I guess that's some secret doctor, were you ever going to tell me?"
"It wasn't a secret exactly I just don't go dressing up like Sister Marie." Her tone was hurt as she finally admitted in words that she was a nun.
Olivia closed in on Amelia's position and her heart leapt into her mouth as the detective placed her strong arms on the desk leaning over her in a predatory way. "I would never have figured you for a nun Doctor, or, should I call you Sister Amelia?"
Clearing her voice slightly, Amelia tried to speak but the words didn't come out. Why hadn't I told the detective? I had plenty of opportunity in the last couple of days. It was another question that these days seemed almost impossible to find an answer to. Perhaps I'm trying too hard to find all the answers and need to find out what it is that I truly wanted to know. Sister Marie had tired to tell her that and now, as she stared into the glittering eyes of the woman who had saved her life, the truth appeared to be within her grasp only to slither away when she tried to grasp it.
"Doctor West is fine, Amelia is okay too. I think it's fair to say with what you and I have been through calling me Sister Amelia might cramp your style."
Olivia gave Amelia a cynical smile. "What do you know of my style Sister? I think, now on reflection, it does suit you and I'm glad it's in the open. I wouldn't want there to be any misunderstandings between us. Right now I guess I should apologise to you for my behaviour. If I'd been aware of your status I'd have been more careful in your company. I wouldn't want to be tarnished with corrupting the faithful now would I? We've seen enough of that in the past forty-eight hours."
Amelia wondered what the woman meant by misunderstandings. "There were never any misunderstandings Detective, you and I both worked towards the same end. We were successful but in a tragic way." Her thoughts fell on the detective's partner who had been murdered in all this fiasco.
Olivia captured the doctor's eyes and there was a silent message of comfort from Amelia. "I don't need your pity Sister or your concern and I think it's time I left. I'll see you around Sister Amelia." Olivia moved so fast that she virtually knocked Teal off her feet as she left the office.
Hearing the revving up of the motorcycle, Amelia ran out of her office but fumes were all that was left of the detective for her to capture.
"Why didn't you tell her Amelia?" Teal quietly asked as her friend walked back inside.
Her thoughts were not in the here and now as Amelia bit her lip and wondered the same thing. Once again she didn't have the answer at least not the one she dare admit to. "Vanity I suppose. I'd better not be late for that meeting.
+ + +
Max Anderton's funeral would have made him proud. The church was packed with old buddies from the police force, and many of the people he'd helped in the years as a private detective. Olivia had only to make the arrangements and the rest, as far as the mourners were concerned, David Tourney had organised. He'd been impressed that his friend hadn't undertaken her usual revenge tactics on the people she considered responsible for his death. They were close to a break-through and soon now they expected to crack the case. It worried him a little that she hadn't been seen around much. When he'd called by her place she either wasn't home or decided not to answer. He put it down to grief after all, Max had been her world - the most important person in her life.
As he expected, there wasn't a seat to be had except one next to Olivia. He'd half hoped that the person it was designated for would have second thoughts and attend, although the message had been adamant that it was impossible at this time. Seclusion was the key word in the reply he received not from Sister Amelia, but the Mother Superior of her convent. Strange, when he'd found out the same evening Olivia had that the woman was a nun it had shocked him but apparently not as much as it had his friend. There had been an imperceptible bond between the two women when he had seen them together. It must have been my imagination.
The service began
A door opening had a few of the mourners turning their heads to see who it was. As a black garbed figure stood in the shadows until the service was complete. As Max was going to be cremated the fellow mourners filed past his coffin and paid their last respects. At the end David Tourney looked over to his friend seated like a statue in the pew at the front, he paid his respects to his old friend and with a gentle squeeze of Olivia's shoulder walked up the aisle and nodded to the figure in the shadows.
Olivia had tears glistening in her eyes as she waited for everyone to leave. There was no way she would breakdown until everyone was gone. Damn it I don't really care, as tears cascaded down her cheeks. The gentle warm touch of a hand on hers had her head spring upwards in surprise. She stared in shock at the figure that had unexpectedly snuck up on her and sat down beside her.
"You're late," Olivia announced drawing in a deep breath to prevent the words from slurring with tears.
"I know I'm sorry. My lift wasn't as good as you in beating the traffic." Amelia smiled as she too felt the tears stinging her eyes at the lost look in the detective's eyes.
Olivia nodded. "I guess you'll have to keep me on file if you ever need fast transport."
They were both silent for a time each absorbing the others presence.
Amelia decided to break the silence. "I was thinking that as we made such a great team maybe we can make that more permanent."
Olivia's expression turned quizzical. She tired to understand what the woman was saying. "Are you talking of a partnership of some kind?"
With a faint smile, Amelia looked up at the crucifix. "Yes in a way. I've decided to continue my work on the outside."
"Does that mean I'm one of your projects?" Olivia asked with a sceptical voice. I'm not a charity case.
Amelia knew her explanation lacked substance. It reminded her of the conversation she'd had with the Mother Superior that morning before she'd been given a leave of absence maybe even a permanent one.
Amelia had been torn between so many things in her life and right now her seclusion at the convent until she knew what she really wanted was driving her mad. Not only that but the one thing she knew she could do to be productive in her life was ebbing away. Being there for someone you cared about, and she now knew she did care in a strange unfathomable way for the detective, was the best thing she could do to serve God. Today of all days she shouldn't hide behind the convent walls, she should be there next to the detective in her hour of greatest need. Now waiting for Mother Superior to speak she tried to make sense of all her emotions.
"Sister, if you cannot embrace God with the purity of love and self-sacrifice and only feel inner conflict each day as a burden to be endured, your torment will never end. Facing the demons of your struggle my child will truly enable you to be one with God. His service should never be a chore Amelia. It should be embraced willingly body and soul without regret. If you can do that my child God's work will not produce strife within."
"Mother you sound like I do to my patients. Don't we all have crises of faith? It is a human reaction to the life we have chosen."
The older woman had long ago resigned herself to having this conversation with the younger nun. Unexpectedly, it had taken longer than she had originally thought. Father Johansson and the young nun from the other convent had been extreme events that would shake anyone's faith. However, others who had worked with Amelia in the past days had assured her that Amelia didn't have those factors weighing her down. The letter that had arrived to ask her if she wanted to support the detective who had shot Father Johansson had made the younger nun pensive and remote.
"There is no shame in admitting a choice made when young and is no longer the path God has marked for you."
Hearing the words that had silently been running around in her head for sometime now, crashed around her as Amelia whispered, "Are you saying I should leave the order?
"I would never presume to advise you of such an action, only you can decide that. It takes a strong person to admit that a mistake has been made and right it. God is with you Amelia and he will guide you, perhaps in not quite the way you had first thought. Sometimes it is wiser to take the longer path to reach your goal."
Collapsing on the chair that she had first declined on entering the room, Amelia wrung her hands in her lap as she spoke. "Mother I've been torn between two lives for years. How do I know giving up my life here is the right thing to do?"
Quiet words resonated in the room, "Only you can choose Sister. If the life outside what you know today has a greater call to you then you should, for all of us, accept what must be. Look around you Sister, who needs you the most?"
"You a project? I doubt it! More like I might be a weary one for you I think. After all, when did I ever take notice of anything you said?" Amelia tried to sound upbeat.
Olivia smiled for the first time since she'd entered Amelia's office and found out the secret she'd been keeping. "I worked for the government for a few year - they owed me big time."
Amelia smiled. This is going to work out. She didn't know how, or in what capacity, but it would. For the first time she felt like she was finally heading in the right direction. "Want a coffee I know a great Starbucks near here?"
Standing up, Olivia drew in a deep cleansing breath as she paused and looked at the casket that held her friend and mentor. "He would have liked you Doc. We should call the new partnership an appropriate title, any ideas?
A glow settled around her as Amelia stood up and, with a silent prayer for Olivia's deceased partner, she wish she had met him in life instead of in this circumstance. They left the church side by side as Amelia asked cautiously, "Have you any ideas?"
With a chuckle Olivia winked, "Sure. I have the perfect expression of what we do when Hell meets Heaven!"
Startled, Amelia stopped in her tracks. "You can't seriously mean that?"
Olivia smiled and flicked her nose in that irritating yet familiar way. "Sure I was. Although on reflection it is the truth."
Amelia pondered that Teal was going to have a field day with that name for the agency, but she'd love it. Closing her eyes, the memories, like a kaleidoscope flashing through her mind, were the only cohesive thing she could think of. It had all happened in a couple of weeks and her life had changed forever. And what had she taken on with this woman who had already thought about a title for a mutual enterprise? How long has she thought of that, she wondered?
"Did you always know I'd be back?" Amelia touched Olivia's arms as they continued to walk side by side to the coffee shop. The woman hadn't missed a pace when she'd posed the question.
Olivia thought seriously for a few moments, her unhappiness over the lost of Max would always be with her but it would get better as it had with the loss of her brother when he was murdered several years earlier. Did I always know Amelia would be back? mentally no, but in my heart I had hoped. "No, not really but someone else did." That small hand that had detained her before wasn't strange anymore when it touched her muscled forearm. It was familiar and in a strange way was at home.
Amelia spoke to her excitedly, "Who? Oh no don't tell me Sister Marie."
"Got it in one Doc. Now are you going to take any notice of what I asked of you in the future?" Olivia asked tongue in cheek.
"Of course, I promise to be good."
A happy smile broke out on Olivia's face stunning Amelia into silence. The detective was as beautiful as that photo in her younger days. Olivia pulled out a chair and waited for Amelia to sit. "Stay put I'll be right back," Olivia said before heading for the counter to order their coffees.
Two minutes later, Amelia slid up alongside Olivia waiting in line and tugged on her arm. "Any chance of cookies?" Then, Amelia placed a hand over her mouth and with a look that conveyed her apologies for not doing as asked she waited for a scathing remark.
"You know something Doctor Amelia West, when heaven meets hell isn't far from the truth." The smile that accompanied the words had Amelia grinning - yes it is going to work out just fine I know it.
As they talked and drank their coffee, Amelia had to concede it did kind of suit them. They were an odd pairing - a psychiatrist and a private detective. Maybe it wasn't too dramatic after all. When Hell Meets Heaven!
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