Dark Impulse Ch. 15byAurora Black©
65 West 13th Street,
Liam unlocked the door and the two men entered the spacious loft apartment. Gabriel looked up at the high ceiling and watched the sunlight play upon the walls. He turned back to find Liam watching him expectantly.
"So what do you think? Let me show you around the place."
Gabriel followed Liam as he pointed out the living room, the kitchen and the study. In the bedroom, Liam opened the closet door and Gabriel peeked inside to find it filled almost to bursting with new clothes. He looked at Liam, who grinned broadly with an embarrassed flush on his cheeks.
"Forgive me, Gabriel, but I took the liberty of having these clothes brought over for you. How can I say this? Your particular look, while it has that interesting "Rebel Without a Cause" thing going on, won't go over very well here in Manhattan. Anyway, I hope that I guessed correctly about your size. If not, you can send them back."
Gabriel's mouth curled up at the corners. "When in Rome..."
The air was suddenly filled with a sharp beeping, startling the two men. It took a few seconds before Gabriel realized that it was coming from Liam's pocket.
Liam reached for the phone and muttered a brief "Excuse me" before he pressed the button to receive the call. "Kilpatrick."
Gabriel observed the large and luxurious bed behind him, and he imagined spending hours there with Grace. Not just hours, but days. The fleeting fantasy made him feel weak in the knees and hard as steel. He forced himself to concentrate on Liam's phone conversation so he could pull himself together. When his arousal was under control, he turned around to face Liam again.
Liam's face was drained of all color, and his breathing was ragged. He didn't speak for a long moment while he listened; obviously the person on the other end of the connection was the bearer of bad news. Gabriel watched as Liam took a deep breath and responded in a distracted tone.
"Yes, I see. I'll come to London at once. Thank you for informing me."
The call was terminated but Liam continued to stare at the phone, frozen.
Gabriel finally spoke up. "What's wrong?"
Liam jumped at the sound of Gabriel's voice; he had forgotten that he was in the room. He ran a trembling hand through his hair, willing himself to snap out of his worried trance. He managed to get a hold on his emotions and addressed Gabriel.
"I'm afraid that I must leave you now, Gabriel. There's an emergency in London and I must go there at once. I don't know when I'll be back. You'll be okay on your own, won't you? There's plenty of good restaurants and markets in the area, and the refrigerator is fully stocked. Just speak with the concierge if you need anything."
Liam was about to rush out the door when he remembered that he was still holding the keys to the apartment. Flustered, he handed them to Gabriel before leaving without another word. Gabriel watched him go, his mind filled with questions.
He closed the door and dead bolted it before heading towards the study. He set up the laptop on the desk and turned it on before connecting to the Internet. He pulled out his notebook and found the address that Mosely had given him, and he typed it into the search engine. He studied the map that he'd found before shutting down the Internet connection and then the laptop.
Picking up the phone, he pressed the button for the concierge.
"Hello, this is Serge. How may I help you, Mr. Knight?"
"Would you call me a cab, please?"
"Of course, Sir. Where would you like to go?"
"The San Remo building, 145 Central Park West."
"I will call you in a moment to let you know."
Gabriel returned the phone back to its cradle and stood up to look out of the window. His loft faced the busy street, and he watched the people going by and wondered what Grace was doing at that moment.
The phone rang a moment later and he snatched it up on the first ring.
"Your taxi is here, Sir."
"Thank you very much."
His heart pounding with anticipation, he rushed out to the waiting cab.
* * *
The San Remo
Grace was slipping on her jacket as Hiroshi appeared, his face solemn.
"How long are you going to be out?"
She finished and turned away from the mirror, facing her father. She saw the concern on his face, and she wanted to convince him that she would be okay while running her important errands. They had to be done.
She walked to him and placed a hand on his cheek. "An hour, maybe two."
Hiroshi's eyes narrowed, and Grace knew that he didn't care for the situation. He sighed heavily, determined to stand by his daughter's decision and to offer her support in any way he can.
They walked together to the front door, Hiroshi's hand on Grace's shoulder.
"I'll take care of the boy while you're gone. Watch your back, do you hear me? Be on the lookout for any suspicious looking characters. If you're not back here in two hours, I'm going to call your cell. You got that? This whole thing is seriously giving me the creeps."
Grace gave her father a disbelieving look.
"Like I'm feeling any better about this? Dad, I swear to you that I will be careful. Just remember that I'm going out now so we can all have peace of mind, and that what I'm about to do is for our own protection, Rafe's and mine."
She kissed Hiroshi gently on the cheek before stepping out the door. In the hallway, she turned around to look at him.
"Look after my baby while I'm gone, and when I get back the three of us will celebrate the beginning of a new chapter of our lives. I'll see you in a bit."
Grace left the building, her heels clicking on the pavement as she walked towards the open street. Her almond-shaped eyes darted around the area as she walked, trying to guess if someone was following her. She saw no one, but she didn't let herself relax. The wind blew at the loose tendrils of hair that framed her face as she hailed a cab, her gaze momentarily resting on a homeless man wandering at the edge of Central Park. She stared at him, asking herself why he seemed so familiar.
The taxi arrived and she climbed in, welcoming the warmth after standing around in the cold wind. She told the driver where she wanted to go, and something in the rear-view mirror caught her eye and caused her heart to lodge in her throat.
She saw the flash of red hair first, but then the rest of him emerged from the other taxi on the street as if in slow motion. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears as she saw his hair, face and then his body come out of the vehicle. The years had been very kind to him; he had the same powerful build, the same brilliant eyes. He had the same exquisite mouth, and she ached to kiss him.
To both her relief and dismay, her taxi driver began to pull away from the curb as her eyes remained locked on Gabriel's reflection. He was looking at the building, not at the departing taxi; he hadn't seen her. She couldn't understand why she felt so disappointed.
She shook her head at the feeling, forcing her mind on other questions.
What is he doing here? How did he find the address? What does he want?
She pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose as the obvious answer came to her. He came for her, but she didn't know how she felt about it. Just a day before, she'd asked for a sign that Gabriel cared for her, and she had gotten it in spades.
The question is, what the hell am I going to do about it?
Her sigh of frustration echoed in the cab, and the driver looked back curiously.
"You all right, lady?"
Grace bit her lip to stop herself from laughing like a madwoman.
"I'm well enough, thanks. How about you?"
The driver gave a uniquely macho shrug as a response. "Eh, I can't complain."
Grace didn't know what else to say, so she looked out of the window and watched the city go by. Moments later, the silence of the cab was broken by the ringing of a cellular phone. She opened her purse and retrieved the tiny gadget before pressing the button to receive the call.
The sound of frantic male breathing came from the other end of the line.
"What did you say to him, love? Please, tell me what you told him."
Grace's nails dug into the leather seat as she heard the desolation in Liam's voice, and her mind was filled with terrible scenarios in which something happened to David.
"Liam, what's wrong? What's happened?"
He took a shaky breath, his voice trembling as he spoke.
"I got a call about twenty minutes ago from London. David was due at a very important meeting today and he never showed up. Someone from AE London went over to the Savoy to find out what happened, but David wasn't in his suite. Inside the room, everything was in perfect order; his clothes and personal effects were all there. It looked as though he had just stepped out for a moment, perhaps a short walk around the Garden or the Thames..."
Liam's voice cracked and he trailed off, leaving Grace to sort through what he was telling her. Her mouth felt as if it was stuffed with cotton, her throat as dry as a desert. Terrified, she wet her lips and tried to compose herself enough to speak.
"Go on, Liam. What else happened?"
His tone shifted from sorrowful to angry, and Grace bit her lip as he lashed out.
"You tell me, Grace! Someone on the night staff mentioned an extremely late call to David, and minutes later he was out the door! That was the last time anyone saw him, do you understand me? So I'm a bit curious about what could provoke someone to just get up and leave without a word, without a trace! Christ, he didn't even take his wallet with him! What if someone attacked him in the street, some junkie looking for a quick fix? What if he's in a dark corner somewhere, lying hurt on the ground and unable to call for help?"
Grace felt the tears roll down her face, and she couldn't speak for several minutes. Liam must have heard her soft crying on the other end, because his voice slowly regained its usual tenderness.
"I'm so sorry, darling. It was unforgivably thoughtless of me to shout at you like that, as if you were to blame. What did you say to him when you called?"
She took out an embroidered handkerchief from her purse and dabbed at her face.
"I told him that I wanted a divorce, and he begged me to reconsider. I basically explained to him that I cannot continue with this marriage, especially now that I feel more estranged from him than ever. I don't know him anymore, and every day it becomes clearer to me that I never really knew him in the first place. I told him that I suspected him concerning what happened to Cooper, and he swore that he had nothing to do with it. I said to him that we felt threatened by him and I let him know my plans for Rafe and I to move out of the penthouse. I said to him that I hope we can find a way to sort things through so we could spare each other more pain upon parting. And then it was over; he grew cold and he hung up."
Liam shut his eyes, almost crushing his phone in his large hand.
My God, no wonder he went off in the night. He was just cast off by the woman he loves while he's at his most vulnerable. He'd never before been so ensnared by Cupid's arrow. No woman had cast such a spell over his heart, not even Caitlin.
He sighed heavily into the phone.
"I see. This looks very bad, Grace. While I understand that you needed to express your feelings to David, I wish that you could have executed better timing. He's been under a lot of stress lately, with Cooper's death and with the business in general. The discussion of the state of your marriage, I believe, could have waited until he returned. And now he has disappeared. I'm on my way to the airport now; the jet is ready to take me to London to see if I can help with the situation."
Grace's breath was ragged as she replied. "Liam, please keep me posted about what's going on. Just because I want to end things with David doesn't mean that I don't care. I owe everything to him, and I want him to be found safe and well."
Along with Liam's words, Grace heard the sound of a jet engine in the distance.
"I will tell you everything, I promise you. I have arrived at the airport, and the jet is waiting. We'll talk later. Take care and be safe. You're in good hands."
The call was terminated, and Grace looked at the phone with a slight frown. The jet engine had drowned out Liam's last words, and she wondered what he had said.
She glanced at the rear-view mirror and met the taxi driver's gaze. "Yes?"
"Are you going to be okay?"
She took a deep breath, her eyes remaining on his.
"You know, even though I'm not sure right now... yes. I'm going to be fine."
* * *
Gabriel knocked on the door and waited, adrenaline pumping in his veins.
Please Lord, let her be here so we can finally talk and put an end to this agony.
A middle-aged Japanese man answered the door, and Gabriel saw a flicker of recognition in the older man's eyes before they narrowed at him in suspicion.
"Mr. Nakimura? We've never met, but my name is Gabriel Knight. I'm a friend of your daughter's from way back."
Hiroshi crossed his arms in front of his chest as he looked Gabriel up and down.
"Are you now? I wonder. You're the one who sent the package yesterday?"
Gabriel looked straight into Hiroshi's eyes, returning his gaze without flinching.
"Yes, I sent it. The book was an old favorite of hers from the castle, and I thought that she would enjoy it. Sir, is Grace available? We need to talk."
Hiroshi was impressed by the younger man, but he deliberately didn't show any reaction whatsoever to Gabriel's words even though he could tell that he was sincere.
The older man sighed and shook his head. "I'm afraid that Grace isn't in right now. She left just a few minutes ago to run some errands."
Gabriel bit the inside of his cheek to keep from cursing, and Hiroshi noted his disappointment.
"Did she say where she was going, by any chance?"
Hiroshi heard the soft patter of footsteps behind him, and he blocked the door's opening with his body.
"No. She didn't tell me anything, and even if she did I'm not sure I should broadcast her location to those who just walk up from the street. It's possible that she may not want to see you, Knight."
Gabriel took a deep breath. "I am aware of that more than you know, Mr. Nakimura."
He took out his notebook and wrote down his new address and phone number.
"Please give this to her and tell her that I know that something's going on and that I'm available and want to help. She can call me at that number day or night, I don't care. All that matters is that she contacts me."
He gave the note to the older man. "It was nice meeting you. I wish that it could have been under more pleasant circumstances."
Gabriel left, not knowing that he was being watched by not one, but two pairs of eyes. Hiroshi watched him board the elevator; when he saw the double doors close, he shut the apartment door and saw his grandson standing in the middle of the living room.
Rafe's eyes were wide with excitement. "Who was that man, Grandpa?"
Hiroshi turned the deadbolt and looked at the boy.
"He says that he's a friend of your mother's."
The little boy thought for a moment. "Why didn't you invite him in? It would have been nice to have another player for Scrabble."
Hiroshi smiled slightly at Rafe's innocence.
"Because, my boy, I don't think that your mother would have appreciated having a stranger in the house so close to you while she's away."
Rafe frowned. "But you just said that he's a friend of Mom's. If he's her friend, what do I have to fear from him?"
The older man sighed as he ran a hand through his gray hair. He picked Rafe up and took him to the coffee table, where their game was waiting.
"I don't have the answer for that, sport. When your mother returns, she'll have to decide what to do about him."
* * *
Outside, Gabriel decided to take a walk around the Park so he could get accustomed to the area. He enjoyed the bite of the early Spring wind against his face, the soft rustling of the trees as he followed the path to the Lake.
He stared at the water for a long time, remembering it from his dreams.
Oh my God, this is it. I'd recognize it anywhere, frozen or not. I dreamt about this lake because it's only a short walk from where Grace is staying.
He walked closer to the Lake as if he were being pulled by an invisible string, a feeling of uneasiness stirring within him. He stopped at a point on the path which offered him a better view of both the water and the nearby Sheep Meadow, and suddenly everything around him blurred as he was taken over by his senses for the second time that day.
* * *
It wasn't the same; unlike before, Gabriel couldn't visualize what he was picking up. He could only hear and feel, but it was more than enough to make the blood freeze in his veins as he was locked in the trance.
He experienced an overwhelming sensation of cold, and he felt chilled to the bone. It was difficult for him to breathe, as if the oxygen was being forced from his lungs. The air around him felt fluid, yet weighted. His chest heaving, he tried to raise a hand to his throat but found that he couldn't move a muscle. He heard sounds of someone choking for air, desperate gasps echoing on the wind. He tried again to move and succeeded as he heard the heavy thud of an unconscious body hitting the ground.
Vision finally came to him; his heart stopped when he saw an unmistakably feminine body on the ground, a silken tangle of black hair on the pavement. Gabriel felt as if he was watching himself from above as he kneeled on the ground, reaching out for the limp form.
I have seen this hair before. I've touched it, kissed it.
She was face down on the concrete, out cold. With a trembling hand, he gently brushed away enough hair to see her face. Why did this happen to you?
An ear-piercing scream shattered the silence. "Please, somebody help us!"
Startled, Gabriel turned his head and saw a small boy. The child was facing away from him, waving his arms wildly in the air for help. His little body was shaking with sobs as he yelled at the top of his lungs.
"Please, will someone... Oh, God! Please!"
The sheer terror that the boy clearly displayed broke Gabriel's heart; he opened his mouth to speak, but he had no voice. He wanted to go to the child, hold him and tell him that everything would be all right, but he couldn't move. He was rooted to the spot. He hadn't felt so helpless since the night Grace left him.
"What happened here?"
Gabriel looked up and saw a man running towards the child. The stranger was dressed in running gear, the hood of his sweatshirt covering his face. Gabriel squeezed his eyes shut, silently thanking God that someone came to their aid.
The boy spoke as the jogger approached the scene. "Please, Mister! Something's happened to my mom and she fainted! We were on our way to my Grandpa's, just a couple of blocks away."
Gabriel's head, which had been lowered, shot up at the word "Mom." He looked at Grace's face, and then he caught his first full glimpse of the child and all of his thoughts vanished except for one.
He continued to stare mutely as the stranger bent and picked up Grace. Automatically, his gaze was drawn to the ring finger of her left hand; it was bare. A riptide of conflicted emotions raged through him, anger and jealousy among them.
So, she has a child. Who's the lucky guy? Whoever he is, he must be an idiot because who in their right mind would have a baby with Grace and not marry her?
As the man began to walk with the child out of the park, the hood fell away from his face and Gabriel saw that it was Mosely. His stomach churned with feelings of betrayal and hurt, and he bit his lip to prevent himself from cursing out loud as he felt himself returning to the normal world.