Dark Impulse Ch. 23byAurora Black©
The Manhattan Bank
Grace arrived at the bank on time and saw Mosely waiting in the foyer. He saw her approach and stood up, torn between the happiness of seeing her again and worry concerning her being caught in the middle between the business with her husband and that with Gabriel.
She smiled warmly at him. "Hello, Mose. Long time, no - oh!"
He cut her off by grabbing her and pulling her to him in a fierce hug, not caring that some of the bank's patrons had stopped to look at them. He fought back tears as he felt the slight jutting of her ribs against him, remembered the paleness of her skin when he saw her step out of the taxi. She wasn't bearing up well at all.
Her voice was muffled against his chest. "Mose? A girl's got to breathe sometime."
He reluctantly let go, managing an apologetic smile.
"Sorry. I guess I got carried away."
She laughed softly, beaming at him. "You're forgiven. So how have you been?"
"I can't complain. I've been slowly working my way up the food chain at the Agency."
Grace raised an eyebrow. "What about personally? Have you been seeing anyone?"
Mosely looked at her for a long moment. No one as wonderful as you.
He shrugged. "Not really. I've been too busy with my career to go out with more than a few women. Anyway, enough about me. How are you these days?"
Her expression was serene, her smile genuine.
"You know, I've been through the emotional wringer with everything that's happened, but now I feel that it's all going to work out for the best. Sometimes, when a person hits rock bottom, there's no other alternative but to climb up."
He smiled back. "That's a beautiful philosophy, Grace. Very optimistic."
She nodded and spoke softly, looking up at him with shining eyes.
"I realize now that we won't live forever, Mose. Whatever grudges or disagreements a person has deep inside, none of them matter worth a damn compared to what's really important: family and friends. Love is everything."
Mosely sighed. "Listen, Grace. About yesterday..."
She shook her head, smiling at him.
"You were absolutely right, but I was too pigheaded to listen. But now I'm willing to do the right thing and tell Gabriel the truth. I owe him that."
He ran a hand over his short hair. "And will you forgive him?"
"Yes. I'm tired of being angry. It's time to let go of the past."
He smiled widely as he reached for her, embracing her again.
"I'm glad for that. So what do you say we go take care of business before that blue-haired lady over there's jaw drops any more?"
Grace laughed and lightly thumped his chest with her hand.
"Yeah, let's get it over with."
A clerk led them down the winding flight of stairs to the bank's vault, where a rather severe-looking security guard stood watch beside the heavy steel door. As soon as he saw Grace, he gave a huge goofy grin.
"Good morning, Dr. Nakimura."
She smiled in response. "Morning, Steve. How are Jess and the baby?"
He smiled wider as he opened the door. "They're fine, thanks."
"Glad to hear it."
Removing her key from her purse, Grace stepped inside. With a nod to the guard, Mosely followed. They walked past several rows of safety deposit boxes until she stopped.
"Here we are."
He noted the box number: 1928. Curious, he turned to her.
"Any special significance?"
She placed her key in the lock, turning it.
"It's the year that my grandfather was born."
He nodded. "How is old Yukio, by the way?"
She smiled as she opened the tiny door to remove the metal box.
"He lives in Hawaii, with all the sand and surf. How do you think he is?"
Mosely chuckled softly, helping her move the heavy box to the nearby table.
They sat down across the table from one another, with the box between them. Grace took a deep breath and unlocked it to reveal the bag of evidence, which sat on top of what had to be at least five million dollars in cash.
His eyes widened. "Jesus Christ! Are you planning to open your own bank?"
She looked up at him, her eyes serious. "It's for my son."
"How on earth did you come up with this?"
A saucy smile teased her mouth as she held his gaze.
"Let's just say that it's payment for services rendered."
He raised an eyebrow at that, and Grace shook her head.
"Get your mind out of the gutter, Mose. I didn't mean that, but perhaps it ought to be included. Five years as the wife of David Anami, one of the brightest stars in the corporate world. It was the hardest job I ever had; even working at St. George's for minimum wage was better. At least there I was surrounded by books. Living in his world was suffocating. Always smiling for the cameras, attending those god-awful social gatherings where everyone except the hired help are phonies..."
She sighed. "It was all a charade from beginning to end."
Mosely watched her. "You'll be free soon. Just hang in there."
She looked down at the opened box, saying nothing.
That, my old friend, is the one thing that I can't do.
She carefully lifted the evidence bag out of the box, and held it out to him. When he reached out to take the other end, she briefly held on. She looked into his eyes.
"I need you to tell me the truth. What will happen once I let go of this package?"
"Since the big league departments are no longer pursuing the investigation, I really shouldn't be here. It could cost me my job, but you sounded so lost on the phone yesterday... Grace, I want to take it off your hands. I'll take the shirt to an independent lab to see if there's anything incriminating there, and I'll run the print in the International crime database to see if Anami was involved in anything suspicious abroad. Specifically, I'm going to search for any criminal activity between 1971 and 1985."
Grace slowly let go of the plastic bag. The 14 lost years after Caitlin's death.
"What happens if you find something?"
His voice was determined. "When I find something, not if. Then I'll do everything that I can to get the case reopened and Anami brought into custody."
She watched as Mosely opened the briefcase that he'd brought and placed the evidence inside. The vault echoed with the sound of the clicking latches when he closed it. A moment later he glanced up at her, his whiskey-colored eyes intense.
"Are you and the boy going to be safe?"
She smiled, touched by his concern. "We're going to be fine, don't worry. We're staying in a place that David doesn't know about, and I've taken security measures."
He nodded, obviously still worried. "If there's anything that you need..."
She reached across the table and squeezed his hand. "I won't hesitate to ask."
Together they left the vault and then the bank, returning to the real world. Mosely stared at her as if he was memorizing every detail of her face, his eyes haunted and his voice hoarse with emotion. "Gabriel is very lucky to have you."
Without a word, she cupped his face in her hands and kissed his cheek.
"You take care of yourself, Mose."
He grimaced slightly, fighting back tears. "You too."
Grace gave him a final smile before she turned away, walking toward the street. She hailed a cab and climbed inside, giving the driver directions to the bookstore where she was due to meet Gabriel.
Grace arrived at 11:45 and saw no sign of Gabriel. Anxious, she decided to browse the shelves while she waited for him to show. She walked to the back of the store and entered the poetry section, unaware that she was being watched and followed.
She picked up a book that caught her eye. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. She began to read through "Song of Myself," and was drawn to Quatrain 28.
'Is this then a touch? Quivering me to a new identity, / Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, / Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them, / My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself...'
The sensuous prose reminded her of the erotic dream that she'd had the night before. She could almost feel Gabriel's touch on her waiting skin.
'You villain touch! What are you doing? My breath is tight in its throat, / Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.'
She jumped as a pair of lips suddenly emerged from the darkness nearby. She felt hot breath caress her neck as she heard a familiar voice reading from Quatrain 29.
"'Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath'd hooded sharp-tooth'd touch! / Did it make you ache so, leaving me?'"
Shocked and frightened, Grace forcibly slammed the book closed and whirled around to find herself face to face with Gabriel. His eyes glittered as he stepped out into the light, and she wanted to slap him and kiss him simultaneously.
He had changed clothes since his television appearance that morning. He wore a green polo shirt, jeans, a black leather jacket and black boots. He looked good enough to eat, and she had a hard time resisting the urge to do just that.
Instead, she frowned at him. "You scared me! That was a very evil thing to do."
Gabriel gave an embarrassed smile.
"I'm sorry, Gracie. I got here first, and I just couldn't resist the idea."
She glared at him. "I just came from turning over the evidence to Mosely, so you'll forgive me if I'm not in a playful mood. He's going to have it analyzed right away."
He quickly sobered at the news. "They'd better reopen the case if he finds something. I still can't believe that all those top crime investigators took the bait like that."
Grace nervously ran her fingers through her hair.
"Well, David can be very convincing when he wants to be."
His eyes narrowed. "Apparently. He managed to get you, didn't he?"
She scoffed angrily, returning his stare.
"That's because I met him when I was particularly vulnerable, if you'll recall."
Gabriel winced and held a hand up. "That's enough, time out."
She took a deep breath, trying hard to calm down. He continued.
"I didn't come here to fight, Gracie. I can list several reasons why I wanted to see you again, but most importantly I needed to warn you."
She felt a tingling sensation in her spine at his words. "Tell me."
His green eyes betrayed his fear. His voice was low and rough as he spoke.
"I've been having dreams of you every night for the past week, and each one gets worse. I'm not sure how to explain this, but there is a dark force hovering over us."
Her anxiety intensified. "What do you mean by 'us'?"
"The three of us. You, me and the child. Something is out to get us, and whatever it is, it's tied to David Anami. We need to find out more about him."
He went on to tell her about the dreams in full detail. He told her about his finding her body frozen in the ice, the raven swarm and the horror of finding her dead in the clearing. He also told her about his vision of her working on his portrait in the studio, and of her collapse in Central Park. She remained silent the entire time.
"Gracie? Please, say something."
She looked at his beloved face, which had become even more beautiful with the passage of time. Grace stepped closer. "There's more that you want to say, isn't there? More than the warnings, I mean. I saw you on television this morning, you know, and I was very touched by what you said about Blake not realizing how he felt about Fuji until it was too late. I knew that you were saying it to me then, but I want to hear it again now, without the cover of fictional characters. I need to hear the words."
Gabriel raised a hand to touch her hair. "I have many regrets about that time."
"Tell me about them."
His lips parted as he took a breath. "Ever since you came to Germany to help me with that case so many years ago, and all the time we were living under the same roof at the castle, I was in love with you. I foolishly denied my feelings because I was afraid that because of what I do, of what I am, I would lose you the way I lost Malia. I didn't want anything to happen to you, and I didn't want to be hurt either. It was one of the worst mistakes I ever made, and I'm sorry."
"One of the worst? What else?"
He sighed deeply. "The way that I treated you after we made love in France. I had no right to disregard your feelings like that; it was a weak attempt on my part to regain some sort of balance in our relationship, to return things back to safer ground. Oh, Christ... I didn't realize until after you left that I didn't want to be safe where you were concerned. I wanted you so much that it scared me, and I just didn't know how to deal with it at the time. I screwed up, Grace."
She raised a hand to his chest, feeling the steady beat of his heart.
He wrapped his arms around her, leaning forward until their lips almost touched.
"My deepest regret is that I didn't run after you the minute I learned you had gone, and now you have someone else's ring on your finger where mine should be, and you have borne another man's child when he should have been mine."
At his heartfelt words, the emotional dam inside Grace broke. All of the love, anger and fear that she'd kept at bay for so long tore their way through the barriers and became an elemental force to be reckoned with, devastating her with its power.
Her eyes watered and her lips trembled with the effort not to blurt out the truth right then. Instead, she shouted the words in her mind.
He's yours! He's yours, Gabriel.
Gabriel saw her tears and stroked her cheek tenderly. "Gracie..."
She knew that he intended to kiss her, and she made no attempt to stop it. She gasped softly as he covered his lips with hers, and she thought her heart would be crushed beneath the weight of her happiness from kissing him again. She moaned at the wonder of it, and she heard him groan in response.
She closed her eyes and gave herself up to the sensations that enveloped her. His lips were soft, his tongue warm and his breath fresh. His teeth gently nipped at her lips, making them more sensitive to his oral caresses. He held her tightly against him, and she could feel her nipples tighten where her breasts pressed against his chest. She sucked lightly at his tongue, and she felt his penis twitch against her thigh.
In a distant corner of her mind, she knew that she should break the kiss and tell him what he had to know. But a selfish part of her insisted that she enjoy the moment while it lasts, because she knew that afterwards he might despise her.
At least I got to kiss him again, and heard his words of love. At least I'll have this to help me through the rough times ahead, this memory of Gabriel.
Slowly, Grace ended the kiss. His eyes were full of love and passion as he stared down at her, and she hated the idea of hurting him. But it was inevitable.
Her voice shook as she spoke.
"There's something very important that I have to tell you, Gabriel. Two things, actually. The first is this: I forgive you for hurting me. I've been thinking very hard these past few days, and I want to be free of all the anger that I've been carrying around inside all those years. I want us to have a clean slate."
Overwhelmed with relief, he grinned widely before kissing her again.
"You got it."
She didn't smile back. Her jet-black eyes seemed to darken even further, and for a moment Gabriel could have sworn that one of them was larger than the other.
"Now it's up to you to forgive me for what I've done to you."
His smile faded. "What are you talking about, Gracie?"
Biting her lip, she looked down at the book that she still clutched in her hand. She quietly returned it to its place on the shelf and turned to Gabriel. She held out her hand to him, her eyes pleading for him to trust her.
"Please, come with me."
Much later, Gabriel would recall the following moments as if they had happened in slow motion. Grace's small hand in his, guiding him out of the bookstore and onto the street. The short cab ride to the studio that he had seen in his vision, and the shocking discovery that he would always remember with bittersweet joy.
He had a son.
* * *
Grace opened the door and held it open for Gabriel to enter the apartment. She took off her jacket and hung it on the coat rack, motioning for him to do the same. He moved slowly, anxious about what was coming.
She heard the television, and together they walked into the living room.
"Guys, I'm back. I've brought a guest with me. Gabriel, you've met my father."
Hiroshi rose from the couch and shook the younger man's outstretched hand, and Gabriel nodded to him. "Nice to see you again, Mr. Nakimura."
The older man's tone was cool as he replied. "Likewise."
Gabriel turned to her. "What's this all about, Gracie? Why all the secrecy?"
She looked at him before her eyes focused on something across the room. He followed her gaze and felt something like an electric shock as he stared into the eyes of the little boy who sat beside the large window. Next to him were several drawings, and as Gabriel drew closer he recognized himself in them.
Rafe stood up from his chair and smiled at him. "Hello, Mister."
He felt a burning sensation in his chest as he replied. "Hey, kid."
Grace began to cry as Rafe approached Gabriel and opened his arms. He didn't hesitate to kneel down and bring his son to him, holding him tightly.
Hiroshi looked on in approval, satisfied at last. The younger man's reaction was the proof he had needed that Gabriel truly hadn't known until then that he was the child's father. He'd thought that Gabriel knew but hadn't cared; he'd been wrong.
The warm family moment was shattered when a bird crashed through the window, breaking its neck and frightening everyone in the room in the process. The broken shards of glass fell like rain about the room, and Gabriel reacted swiftly by covering Rafe with his own body to protect him from getting hurt. He felt the sharp pieces sliding over his back, cutting him through the fabric of his shirt, but he didn't care. His paternal instinct, which was brand-new, demanded everything that he had to make sure his son was safe.
When it was over, he gingerly lifted himself off of Rafe. "Are you all right?"
The little boy gasped, his eyes swimming with tears as he saw the dead bird.
"Yes, I'm fine."
Gabriel looked up to see Grace running towards the kitchen to get a plastic bag to clean up the mess. Hiroshi brushed off a few stray bits of glass off his clothes as he stood up from behind the couch, where he had taken cover.
A scary idea came into his mind just then, and he turned to glance at the bird, hoping to God that it wasn't a raven. He released a sigh of relief; it was just a pigeon.
Then he heard the child's sobs and was alarmed to see him crawling on his hands and knees towards the broken bird, not concerned with the glass that covered the floor.
Gabriel's voice was stern as he addressed the child. "Raphael..."
Rafe had reached the dead animal, and began to reach out his hand. The tears flowed freely as he spoke to his father, creating tracks in the face paint that he wore.
The look he gave Gabriel was a plea from one gifted person to another.
"Please, don't stop me. I must do this."
After a long moment, he nodded his permission. Rafe gently touched the bird's twisted neck, and Gabriel saw a faint glow where flesh touched feathers.
Grace, after searching the entire kitchen for a garbage bag, found one and came rushing back into the room just in time to watch the bird awaken and fly away.
Stunned, she saw Gabriel sitting on the floor beside Rafe, staring at his face.
He reached into his pocket and retrieved a handkerchief, finally understanding why the boy's face had always seemed so unhealthy and pale. It was make-up.