Dark Impulse Ch. 13byAurora Black©
Covent Garden, London
David wandered aimlessly through the deserted streets, his heart breaking with every step he took. His eyes burned with unshed tears, and the pavement blurred before him. He didn't care; his mind was on the other side of the ocean as he walked, trying in vain to escape the demons that tormented his soul.
For a long time he stared into the Thames, and a part of him longed to enter its black embrace. He knew that he could do it if he wanted to; it was five in the morning, and no one would be around to witness his fall into the cold, dark river. By the time he was missed at the hotel, it would be too late. He doubted that he'd be missed at all in the personal sense; with the exception of Liam and perhaps his family, David believed that no one would truly mourn him if he was to leave the world of the living.
He cried out, his hands grasping the iron railing hard enough to draw blood.
I've lost her. What's the point of continuing this farce of a life when I no longer have Grace by my side? She was my other half; my friend, my lover, the mother of my child. And now my life with her has crumbled into dust, blown away by the winds of change. The pain is tearing me apart, and I can't bear it. Why is this happening to me again? Why do I always sabotage myself whenever I have something wonderful in my life?
David closed his eyes, remembering the phone call that he'd received from his wife an hour before. His chest hurt as he recalled every nuance of Grace's voice, every breath she took, and every sigh she made as she said the words that he'd dreaded to hear, the words that tore out his heart. Opening his eyes, he leaned against the railing and watched the flow of the river as he calmly began to remove his clothes.
* * *
New York - One Hour Earlier
Grace stirred awake from the heavy fog of sleep which had enveloped her since earlier that morning, after she had received the package from Gabriel. She opened her eyes and was surprised to find her room completely dark; she rarely slept for so many hours. The glowing red numbers from the digital clock beside her bed told her that she'd been asleep for twelve hours straight; it was 11pm.
She raised a hand, placing it on the pillow beside her head. With her fingertips she felt a curious wetness, and Grace knew that she must have cried while she slept. She sighed as she thought of her dreams and the ache that the memories caused in her head and heart. She sat up in bed and stared into the darkness, allowing herself to remember her trip down memory lane.
She had dreamt of Gabriel and the circumstances in which she had left him in France. She recalled everything in vivid detail; the feeling of uneasiness that she had felt the last day of the Night Stalker case, not just from Gabriel's indifference towards her after they'd made love but also because she was deeply afraid of his life being in danger in the underground caverns. She had felt helpless and afraid when she'd been forced to stay at the hotel and communicate with him through a headset, her heart in her throat as he had passed through deadly traps and cryptic puzzles to move forward through the maze and save Prince James's baby son.
When Gabriel faced the demon in combat, Grace's heart had stopped beating the entire time, frozen with fear over the possibility of losing him. After it was over, she had shouted into the headset, desperate to know that he was alive and safe. There was no answer, and despite Baza's assurance that all was well, she felt a chill grow inside her that would remain for years afterwards.
Is this all that I am to expect from him? The path that I've chosen to follow him, having sacrificed the greater part of myself to join his cause, is slowly destroying me. I don't deserve this, the endless torment of unrequited love, of caring so much for someone who doesn't even think enough of me to let me know that he's unhurt.
After Baza left the hotel to join the others in the caverns, Grace had these thoughts in mind as she calmly packed her suitcase and wrote the goodbye note to Gabriel. As hard as she tried, she couldn't remember all that she'd written in the brief paragraph. Her mind had been divorced from her body, her thoughts already on the long journey ahead of her.
The only line that she had committed to memory was the one that haunted her for months after she left; three months, to be exact. She remembered those words because she had written them deliberately to tell Gabriel where she would be in case he changed his mind about his feelings, in case he wanted to find her and bring her back home.
"Perhaps I'll find what I'm looking for with Chadrel."
She had hitchhiked to Toulouse, where she had taken a plane back to Paris and from there she flew to New Delhi, crying all the way because she hated being away from Gabriel. She was so tired and lonely, a lost soul in need of guidance and compassion. She had found them in Chadrel, who had been everything that she'd hoped for in a spiritual counselor, but in the end he hadn't been enough to prevent her from waiting in vain each day for Gabriel to call or show any sign that he gave a damn.
She'd waited for him like a lovesick fool, and he never came.
Then David came along; they'd met when Grace was at the end of her rope, her heart shattered and bleeding. Almost two months after her arrival at the monastery, she was walking in the mountains one day and had been overcome by a powerful wave of homesickness for the castle and a longing for its owner as well as for Gerde, who had been her best friend and the one person to whom she could tell anything.
Grace remembered when she finally took a breath after a long crying spell, looked up and first caught sight of David Anami. He had literally taken her breath away; he was such a beautiful man, even though he was much older than she. She had fallen to her knees on the ground when the crying started, and when it was over he offered her his hand to help her up. She had gasped in shock at the first touch of his hand against hers. It was so warm, and so large that it had made her own look like a child's in comparison.
These are the kind of hands that care for others, she thought then. These are the hands that offer help to a stranger, comfort to the sick, and love to a child.
After that day, they quickly became inseparable. Grace had been glad to learn that David was staying in the immediate area of the temple, and every day for the following month they had spent time together either seeing the sights or just talking for hours about the many interests that they had in common.
But David was always reluctant to talk about his past, she thought, her mind returning to the present. Whatever bits and pieces that he did share with me never added up, like a jigsaw puzzle without the end result; there was never a complete picture.
All that Grace knew about David's childhood was that he was born in Japan but raised in Ireland after his family moved there a few years after WWII ended. Jobs had been scarce in the coastal town where the Anami family had settled, and for that reason David's father was forced to go to London to work in a factory, sending most of his meager earnings to his wife and young son across the sea. But then something happened to his father, and David never continued the story. When she'd managed to get even those few details from him, it was obvious that his memories were greatly painful for him and for that reason Grace hadn't pried further into his past.
Grace shivered and rose from the bed, leaving the room. Now, remembering their whirlwind courtship, she wished that she had insisted on knowing everything that made him who he was, because perhaps she would have had a clue as to why he was now changing into a person that she no longer wanted anything to do with.
But she hadn't thought of such things at the time; when she first met him, she'd looked at him and saw a kind soul. He was a man that she'd liked very much, someone that she could have deeply loved under different circumstances. After three months in India, when she suddenly fell ill, David had been the one to tenderly nurse her back to health. After she had fully recovered, he asked her to marry him and she accepted, hoping that in each other they could find the happiness which had eluded them everywhere else.
Grace scoffed bitterly as she remembered that Chadrel himself had warned her about rushing into such a commitment with David. He told her that he had sensed that there was something not quite right about David's aura, and he asked her to be careful.
When she had stubbornly insisted to Chadrel that she wanted to marry David and that she would be happy with him, he only said that the name "Anami" means "the man with no name" in Sanskrit. He warned her one final time, saying that a man who has no sense of identity is in danger of becoming apathetic or even hostile towards his fellow men. Or women. She ignored his words, not willing to hear anything that could turn her away from the dream of happiness that she sought.
For a while, the dream came true. David whisked her away to Tokyo to get married, and for their honeymoon he took her around the world, showing her so many things that she would never have seen if she'd stayed with Gabriel. After a few months, the pregnancy began to slow Grace down so David decided that they would settle down in Italy until the baby was born.
Italy was wonderful; they toured around the country before Grace chose Florence as the place where they would build their nest. David bought a beautiful villa with a view of the city, and Grace loved living in the area which gave birth to so many works of art. It was the fond memory of the months spent there that made Grace want to specialize in Renaissance art when she returned to school to obtain her doctorates.
Grace smiled at the memory as she walked to the living room and switched on the lamp, her gaze briefly resting on one of her son's drawings on the coffee table.
She had waited until Rafe was a year and a half before she went back to Yale, even though it had been very difficult for her to leave him. But it had to be done; she believed with every fiber of her being that she had to return and finish her education, so that she wouldn't become just another Manhattan trophy wife with nothing to do in life but shop and host parties. Their situation is a precarious one; when their sugar daddy husbands get bored with them and, after a quickie divorce, eventually move on to the next woman, those types of women who gave up their own dreams and ambitions because their husbands were loaded are left with nothing.
Thank god that I had the sense to go against the grain and finish what I started. The fact that I have a solid profession of my own makes what I have to do so much easier, and it will ease the transition for both me and Rafe. I can't let the memories of how David once was cloud my judgment; he is still the one that keeps secrets and deceives those that trust him the most...
Grace closed her eyes as her next thought stopped her from reaching for the phone.
Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black, honey? You haven't exactly been a paragon of virtue yourself concerning telling your husband, your supposed life partner, certain things about YOUR past. You're such a hypocrite.
She opened her eyes and reached for the phone again, her blood surging with anger.
Maybe I am, but I've never been suspected of murder. There are too many coincidences, too many doubts for me to stay with him. I have to think of my son and what's best for him, and it's not subjecting him to what he's already experiencing as a result of my delaying the inevitable. This marriage is over.
She picked up the phone and dialed the number for David's hotel.
"Hello, you have reached the Savoy. How may I help you?"
Grace's voice trembled slightly as she spoke. "David Anami's suite, please."
The night receptionist hesitated briefly before replying.
"Excuse me madam, but are you aware that it is four o'clock in the morning here? It's possible that Mr. Anami may not want to be disturbed."
Grace's temper, which had been hovering over the edge for some time after waking, exploded at the young man's words. She couldn't stop herself from shouting into the phone, her voice crossing over the telephone lines and dripping with venom.
"You listen to me, and listen well. I am his wife, do you understand? I don't care what time it is over there, he will take my call. How dare you try to dissuade me from making this urgent call? Who the hell do you think you are?"
The young man sputtered in shock from her harsh words.
"I... I do apologize, madam. I shall connect you presently."
She felt a pang of guilt while she waited for David to answer, and she wished that she could have exercised more self-control. It wasn't the boy's fault that her marriage was falling apart. But then she heard her husband's voice on the line and all thoughts of her earlier outburst and its unintended victim were driven from her mind.
His voice was rough from sleep, and Grace's throat locked up at the sound of it. Only when he spoke again did she force herself to reply. "Sorry I woke you."
"Grace? Is that you, darling?"
"Yes, David. It's me."
He sat up in bed, all of his attention focused on his wife's voice. She sounded as if she was on the verge of tears, and in the few words that she'd said, David detected an underlying tension which put him on his guard.
"Hiroshi told me what happened this morning. Are you feeling better?"
Grace fought tears as she pressed a hand to her chest.
"Yes, I am feeling much better. Thank you."
David waited for her to say something else, but she remained silent. He could hear her shallow breaths over the phone, and he strongly wished that they were face to face so he could actually see her and ask why she was so upset.
But I already know. God help me, I know.
He shuddered as he clutched the receiver tighter in his hand.
"Grace, I am so sorry about last night. I don't know what came over me. I thought that you were going to leave me, and I just lost control. Please, forgive me."
She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
"I forgive you, but unfortunately it's not enough that you apologized. Oh God, I don't know how to say this. This is one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do, David. You must understand that."
His heart was breaking as he listened to her, saying nothing.
Grace took a deep breath, gathering the strength that she needed to say the words.
"David, I can't go on like this. I don't want to be married to you anymore. You're not the same person that I met all those years ago. You've changed for the worse, and I believe that it would be dangerous for Rafe and I to remain in the same household with you. There was a time when you were so gentle and kind, but now you are so easy to anger and your behavior towards myself and others has stopped just short of violence. But with Cooper you crossed the line, beating him senseless before he was killed in such a brutal fashion. I can't live my life with a man who resorts to using his fists to solve his problems, and I refuse to place myself and my child in harm's way. Raphael and I are afraid of you, David, and your reaction yesterday concerning the bloody shirt has given me cause to fear you more."
His free hand fisted in the sheets beside him, his face wet with tears. His voice cracked as he spoke into the phone, his pain evident in every word.
"Grace, please consider what you're saying. I beg of you, please think about this before you do something irreversible."
She sat down on the sofa, her eyes darting around the room to make sure that she didn't wake anyone. Her gaze rested again on the coffee table, and she felt as if an electric shock had passed through her body. She leaned forward to stare at Rafe's drawing, and she shuddered at the realization of what it really represented.
Her eyes burned, fixed on the scar. "I haven't been able to think of anything else."
David's voice was ragged with emotion, and Grace pitied him as she listened.
"Damn it, I love you! You and the child have nothing to fear from me. I would rather die than hurt either of you, please believe that! I had nothing to do with Cooper's death, I swear it! Whatever uneasiness you saw in me when you came to my office was because I was worried that the business would be dragged under by speculation concerning the killing. One day AE will be passed down to Rafe, my darling, and I don't want anything to get in the way of that! Grace, please. Please don't abandon me now that I need you to stick by me the most!"
Grace silently touched her son's drawing, lovingly tracing the curved arm scar that she found there. She brought the sketch to her lips, and lightly kissed the mark before returning the paper to its rightful place. Her voice was faint as she spoke into the phone, fresh tears flowing.
"David, I'm sorrier than I can possibly say. I have made up my mind, and I truly believe that this is the best solution for all of us. Rafe and I will move out of the penthouse as soon as possible and live elsewhere until things are sorted out with the divorce. When you return, I hope that we will find a way to work together so we can spare each other further pain upon parting."
For a long moment she heard only heavy breathing on the line, but then he spoke in a hard, chilling tone that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
"Well, then. I suppose there's nothing more to be said, is there?"
A soft click terminated the call, and Grace stared mutely at the receiver in her hand. With a heavy heart, she returned the phone to its cradle.
Grace turned sideways on the sofa to see her son standing in the doorway. She opened her arms, and he crossed the room to climb onto the couch. She held him tightly against her, her face buried in his silky hair. Her voice was muffled by it as she whispered to him, her voice trembling.
"How much did you hear?"
Rafe squeezed her waist tighter. "I heard enough."
A soft sob escaped her throat, and she cried against his hair. He broke the embrace as soon as she was finished, placing a tiny hand on top of hers.
"Are you scared, Mom?"
Grace wiped away her tears and looked at her son. "Very. How about you?"
Raphael shook his head emphatically, his eyes glistening in the light.
"Not anymore. Everything's going to be okay now."
Dumbstruck, she stared at her son. "Sweetheart, how can you be sure?"
Rafe said nothing; his only answer was a radiant smile that never failed to make her heart kick in her chest. He rose from the sofa and walked into Grace's bedroom, switching on the light and climbing into the bed. She followed him, covering them both with the thick layers of sheet and comforter. The small boy retrieved the leather book from underneath one of the pillows and handed it to his mother.
"Mom, would you read some of this to me? You promised that you would."
Grace smiled, remembering that she had promised him while in a state of shock as a result of hearing from Gabriel so unexpectedly. It was on the tip of her tongue to ask Rafe how the image of Gabriel's scarred arm came into his mind, but she still wasn't ready for the answer. She concentrated instead on opening the antique book and locating the opening passages. Finding them, she kissed her son's forehead and began to read.
She glanced at Rafe, and he beamed at her. With a returning smile, she continued, his earlier words repeating inside her mind and bringing her comfort.
Everything's going to be okay now.