Dark Impulse Ch. 12byAurora Black©
Gabriel stood on the beach, looking out over the water as the sun descended in the sky. He had been wandering along the shore all day, too restless to stay at the house or visit the shop. Lost in thought, he watched as the fading light danced upon the lake.
This is the place where it all began. The last time I was here, I only wanted to pick up some info for my book, but then I looked into Malia's eyes and was sucked into a world beyond anything my imagination could create. That happened so long ago; now, here I am again to continue my journey, waiting for Grace's call.
He absently patted his jacket pocket, where his cellular phone rested. He anxiously pulled it out and checked it. A quick glance confirmed that it was working fine, and he returned it to its place. He sighed in frustration, his gaze returning to the lake.
The water was choppy; the late afternoon wind stirred the trees which bordered the beach, blowing around and disrupting Gabriel's hair. He didn't notice; his mind was completely focused on Grace. He wanted to hear her voice more than anything at that moment, but somehow he knew that she was probably wary of contacting him after such a long period of time. The hand in his pocket tightened briefly on the tiny gadget before he let out a shuddering breath, releasing the phone.
She's not going to call. I knew deep down that she wouldn't, but I still hoped that she would at least accept my offering of support. I guess that I hurt her too much for her to even consider speaking to me again. Damn it, I need to show her how sorry I am, how much she means to me. I love her so much that I ache with it every moment that I'm away from her, ever since the day she left.
He kicked a stone into the water, and watched the ripples spread across the surface.
I must see her again, even if it's just to see that she's okay.
In the distance he heard the sound of wheels on gravel; someone was coming up the road. The wind blew harder, and Gabriel was blinded by his own hair as it covered his eyes. He raked his hand through the thick red mass, turning his head to watch for the approaching car.
Gabriel heard the car long before he saw it; he heard a radio blasting rock music, and as the car drew closer he caught a glimpse of a blond-haired man wearing sunglasses despite the setting of the sun. It was Liam, and Gabriel found himself smiling slightly as his presence while at the same time he was anxious to question him about what had happened the night before.
Removing the sunglasses, Liam stopped the rental car beside the beach where Gabriel stood, his eyes as blue-gray as the lake beyond. Gabriel walked up to where the convertible was parked on the side of the road, and the Irishman smiled at him in greeting.
"Hello, Gabriel. I stopped by the shop earlier, and your grandmother told me that you were here. Are you having second thoughts about accepting the case?"
Gabriel shook his head. "Not at all, but then again you made sure of that with that intriguing message you gave me. Now I want to know what that was all about, and you're going to tell me."
Liam raised an eyebrow, yet remained silent for a long moment before replying.
"Yes, I suppose that you are entitled to an explanation. I apologize if my message alarmed you in any way. I simply needed to force your hand, Gabriel. My employer needs your expertise, and he urged me to convince you to join us by any means necessary."
Gabriel leaned over the passenger side door of the convertible, locking eyes with Liam.
"Tell me what's going on. I want to know everything concerning the case, and how Grace is tied in with it."
Liam looked around at the deserted beach. The sky was a vision of indigo and peach, and the sun was long gone. He took a deep breath before addressing Gabriel.
"I don't know about you, but I'm famished. Follow me back into town and we'll talk about it over dinner, my treat. Does that sound good?"
As if on cue, Gabriel felt a hunger pang in his stomach. "Sounds great, actually."
Liam smiled. "Okay, then. Where's your bike?"
Gabriel tilted his head to indicate a nearby group of trees.
"I've got it stashed over there. Wait until I'm on it before you start out, okay? There are thousands of restaurants in town, and I have no idea which one you have in mind."
At Liam's chuckle, Gabriel strode over to his motorcycle and got on. The convertible began to pull away as he revved up the bike, and he heard the radio blasting again. He turned to look at the water one last time before speeding away from the beach and all the memories surrounding it.
Gabriel followed Liam's lead, the wind whipping through his hair. He smiled as he recognized the song that was playing on the radio, David Bowie's "Wild Is The Wind."
He listened to the mellow ballad, his mind again on Grace as he tried to swallow the disappointment that had enveloped him throughout the day when she hadn't called.
Love me, love me, love me, love me, say you do
Let me fly away with you
For my love is like the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind
Give me more than one caress, satisfy this hungriness
Let the wind blow through your heart
For wild is the wind, wild is the wind...
He navigated his bike along the road's twists and curves, remembering how Grace felt in his arms the last time he'd held her. He prayed that he would see her again, that she would somehow find it in her heart to accept his love and forgive him.
You touch me,
I hear the sound of mandolins
You kiss me,
With your kiss my life begins
You're spring to me, all things to me
Don't you know, you're life itself!
Gabriel nodded in agreement with the song's lyrics, his throat suddenly tight. She was everything to him, and he wouldn't let himself give up his pursuit that easily. She'd had the right not to call him, but if she thought it was going to end there, she was in for a surprise. A smile played on his lips as the rock ballad continued.
Like the leaf clings to the tree,
Oh, my darling, cling to me
For we're like creatures of the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind...
In all the years that he'd known Grace, he never thought of her as the kind of woman to ask for or accept help from a man. In this case, however, he desperately wanted to be there for her and care for her during difficult times. He wanted her to need him as much as he needed her, not only when there was an emergency, but all the time. He just wanted to be with her; he wanted to spend the rest of his life convincing her how wonderful she was.
His heart thundered in his chest at the thought; not from the fear that he undoubtedly would have experienced years before, but from sheer joy and excitement. He wanted to marry her, if she'd have him.
They had arrived in the city. Liam parked the car outside a modest-looking restaurant in the French Quarter, and Gabriel pulled up to the curb alongside him. Liam got out of the car, beaming at his companion. They walked together to the front door, Gabriel in his trusty white T-shirt and jeans and Liam smartly dressed in a button-down blue shirt that brought out his eyes and khaki slacks.
"I think that I'd like to sample some of that famous New Orleans gumbo that I've heard so much about. Will it be too spicy for me to handle, do you think?"
Gabriel shrugged, a wicked gleam in his eyes.
"I think that maybe you can handle it, but we'll see soon enough. Y'all don't have any spicy dishes in Ireland?"
Liam thought for a moment, then laughed at Gabriel's smug expression.
"Not really, but our drinks would knock the wind out of you, Southern boy!"
They entered the establishment and were immediately seated. Liam eyed the menu with trepidation.
"Maybe you should order for me, Gabriel. I'm completely out of my element here."
Gabriel grinned as he signaled for the waitress.
"No problem. Miss, we'll both have a cup of the Zydeco Gumbo, the Crawfish Etoufιe and Red Beans & Rice as the main meal, and..."
He trailed off with a look on his face that made Liam raise an eyebrow in mock suspicion. He turned back to the girl, who couldn't stop gaping at either of the handsome men that she was waiting on. He winked at her before continuing.
"Bring us a platter of Cajun Fireballs for the appetizer, please."
The girl walked away with stars in her eyes, and Liam spoke up.
"What on earth is a Cajun Fireball? I don't like the sound of that."
The corners of Gabriel's mouth twitched as he tried to hold back a laugh.
"Don't you trust me, Liam?" He playfully batted his eyelashes at him.
Liam's eyes narrowed, but his shoulders were shaking with laughter.
"About as far as I can bloody throw you, mate. I'm warning you, don't send me to the hospital my first time out. I'm a spicy food virgin, be gentle."
The food came, and the two men chatted while they ate. Liam enjoyed the New Orleans cuisine as well as Gabriel's company. Gabriel felt the same way, but the tone changed as the meal drew to a close. It was time to discuss heavier matters.
After the plates were cleared from the table and the check was paid, Gabriel leaned forward. His eyes glittered in the dim light, and his voice was determined.
"Now, tell me everything that's going on with this case, and with Grace."
Liam stroked his chin, narrowing his eyes briefly before releasing a sigh.
"Gabriel, you know that I'm under orders not to discuss this case with you, despite the fact that you're already on board. Whatever questions you have concerning the case, you must address them to David himself when you meet him."
Gabriel had expected Liam's response, but that didn't lessen his frustration. He struggled to prevent his hands from balling into fists as he pushed on.
"When will that be, exactly?"
Liam noticed that Gabriel's tone had lost its earlier warmth, and he decided to tread lightly.
"I spoke with David earlier today when he called from London, and he assured me that he will return to New York on Wednesday."
Gabriel frowned. So that gives me three days in the city without knowing what the hell I'm supposed to be doing there. But I can use that time to contact Grace.
He focused again on Liam's words. "London? What's Anami doing there?"
"David has urgent business to attend to at the AE London branch. Today was the grand opening of the new Nanotechnology division of the company, and of course he had to be present. There are also other matters which require his attention before he can return to New York."
Gabriel tilted his head in interest. "What is Nanotechnology, exactly? I've heard the term many times, but I've never completely grasped the concept."
Liam's face flushed slightly. "Jesus Christ, it's such a vast subject, we could be sitting here all night! In a nutshell, Nanotechnology is the science of building devices and materials at the molecular and atomic level. Perhaps you've read or watched science fiction which featured the use of tiny robots; this is only one of the many potential forms of this rapidly growing science."
Liam leaned forward, his voice lowering. "There are many ways that Nanotechnology will one day be implemented, but the area in which David and I are most interested in using it is the field of Medicine. With the ability to create and manipulate molecules and atoms, the possibilities will be endless! Imagine a world where a person dying from cancer or heart disease could have their affected organs fixed or even replaced with healthy ones which would be grown using the technology! So many mysteries would be uncovered, and problems solved! Genetic research would become child's play, and disease would be ancient history! Oh God, listen to me. I'm sure I sound like a madman, carrying on like this. I'm very passionate about the technology."
Gabriel lifted a hand to stop Liam's self-conscious talk. "You don't sound mad, but we are straying away from the subject. Since you absolutely refuse to tell me more about the case, then let's discuss Grace. First of all, how do you know her?"
Liam sat back in his chair, regarding him thoughtfully.
"Grace and I move in the same circles, and I am honored to have her as a friend. We are both great lovers of art, and we both hold places on several museum committees throughout Manhattan."
"How did the two of you meet?"
The Irishman smiled, his eyes darkening almost to the point of blackness.
"I met Grace through David, actually. Four years ago. She was such a remarkable and brilliant woman, and I immediately liked her. She's magnificent."
Gabriel nodded in agreement, but he felt ill at ease when he heard Anami's and Grace's names combined. Mosely's harsh words from the night before returned to haunt him, and he struggled to speak through his suddenly constricted throat.
"What is Anami to her?"
His heart pounded in his ears as he waited for the answer. Liam's eyes met with his for a long moment, and Gabriel couldn't decipher what was behind them.
Liam took a deep breath before replying, watching Gabriel. Poor fool.
"David and Grace are friends, nothing more."
After hearing the words, Gabriel allowed himself to breathe again. He closed his eyes as a wave of pure relief washed over him, swept him away with joy. Beneath the table, his hands trembled slightly. He felt as if he was a child in an amusement park who had just passed through the scariest part of the rollercoaster, emerging unscathed on the other side. He eventually composed himself enough to continue.
"How did Grace and Anami meet?"
Liam sipped his scotch, choosing his words carefully.
"David and Grace met in the summer of '95, while he was vacationing in India. He hasn't told me much about that time, except that they'd had an instant understanding of one another and that they became fast friends. It was in a monastery that he found her, of all places, in a very secluded area near the border with Nepal and the mountains. It was the kind of place where a person goes when they need to hide from the world, and she was no exception."
Gabriel stared at Liam, the questions surfacing in his mind.
Yes, she went there to escape me. But what was Anami doing there?
"What about your friend? What was he hiding from?"
Liam grinned wolfishly, shaking his head.
"Oh no, you don't. You really have a stubborn streak, don't you mate? You insist on learning everything too early in the game, and that's just not possible. There will be a time when you will know everything there is to know, that I promise you, but now is not the time."
Liam unfolded his long legs and stood, bringing Gabriel with him. He looked around and was surprised to find that they were the only customers left in the place.
"It's getting late, almost closing time. Come on, let's get out of here."
The two men walked out into the cool night, and Gabriel breathed in the fresh air as Liam unlocked the car and climbed in. He looked over his shoulder at where Gabriel stood beside his bike and called out to him.
"Get some sleep, Gabriel. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow. Come to my hotel at 10 o'clock so we can grab a bite before heading out to the airport. See you in the morning."
Gabriel watched Liam drive away, not realizing that he never got to ask how Liam knew about Grace and him until after the car disappeared into the darkness.
* * *
Central Park West
Mosely stood in the shadows, his gaze drawn once again to the apartment building before him. His chest felt tight as he remembered what had happened that morning, and how truly frightened he had been when he saw Grace lying motionless on the cold ground. The child's screams had pierced his heart like a dagger.
The child. When he first saw the little boy, his lustrous black hair and soft midnight eyes briefly made Mosely believe that he was looking at a young girl, a perfect miniature of Grace. But after a split second of contemplation of the boy's features, something struck him as odd about his appearance but he couldn't pinpoint exactly what had bothered him. And then he'd realized the reason behind the child's shouting and that the collapsed woman was indeed Grace, and all of his energy and thoughts shifted to where it was needed the most.
It had killed him to pretend indifference, to play the role of the anonymous jogger inconvenienced by performing a good deed. He wished that he could have abandoned the charade and offered to hold her again. Not as the kind stranger, but as the man who had always loved her, even when the great Gabriel Knight himself had not. He'd been greatly relieved when he saw the doctor enter the building after he had reluctantly let Grace go on her father's doorstep, and he took the opportunity to look for a convenient place to stay in town.
After his tempestuous phone conversation with Gabriel the night before, he'd taken the first flight to New York to see for himself how Grace was. Before he gave the address to Gabriel, he had looked it up on an online city map so he'd know where to keep an eye out for her. Based on the fact that she and the child had been walking together that morning by the Lake when he came upon them, and from bits and pieces that the boy had said as they walked to the San Remo building, Mosely guessed that their route had to have been more or less a straight shot across the Park. So their home had to have been close by; Mosely was dead set on locating it.
The night was chilly, and Mosely shivered as he buried his hands in his pockets.
She has a child, so she could have a husband. But she wasn't wearing a ring. Is it possible that she could be divorced, or even widowed?
Standing there in the darkness of the deserted park, he vowed to find out. Like Gabriel, he wanted to be the one to help Grace to sort through the recent madness. He wanted to be the one that she would turn to and confide in.
He clenched his teeth. But unlike Gabriel, I'd never hurt her or give her any reason to believe that I'm not trustworthy or honorable, or that what I feel for her is anything less than the strongest and deepest love. I want her to be happy.
Whistling, Mosely walked away into the night, his thoughts on his next move.
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