Dark Impulse Ch. 16byAurora Black©
The Saint Mark,
115 East 9th Street at 3rd Avenue,
Evelyn Green bit into the juicy red apple, the sound echoing off the tiles in the kitchen. She chewed thoughtfully as she stared at the words on the laptop screen, occasionally pausing to make additions to the text as needed. She reviewed a newly written passage.
Near the border between the Irish counties of Cork and Kerry lie the legendary Paps of Anu. This area is highly sacred to those who believe in the Great Mother, and many modern-day Celtics and Pagans from around the world make pilgrimages there throughout the year. The mountains are believed to be formed from the breasts of the Morrigan, the goddess of War and Death. To her followers, it represents the bosom of the goddess and it is one of the most powerful places to worship the Great Queen. The foothills are surrounded with standing stones that bear ritualistic carvings, and the entire site is shrouded in mystery.
The buzz of the intercom interrupted her thoughts, and she grumbled softly as she went to answer it. "Hello?"
"Eve, it's me. Grace. Can I come in? I really need to talk to you."
"Sure, hon. Come on up."
Grace appeared on Evelyn's doorstep a moment later, visibly upset. Watching her, Eve was surprised to see the woman that she'd always respected for her great self-control nearly crumble before her eyes. Grace's lips trembled as she tried in vain to hold back the tears, and she blindly stumbled into her friend's waiting arms.
"I'm so sorry to disturb you, Evie. I didn't have anywhere else to go."
Eve took Grace inside and shut the door behind them before leading her to the living room sofa. "It's okay, really. I'm here for you, you know that."
Grace grabbed a tissue to dry her eyes. "Have you read the paper today?"
Evelyn shook her head, deeply concerned.
"No, I've been inside all day working on my dissertation. Why?"
Grace balled up the paper in her fist and looked into Evelyn's hazel eyes.
"David disappeared early this morning in London. There's no trace of him."
Evelyn gasped in shock, and Grace bit her lip hard. Eve quickly recovered and began to ask questions. "How did this happen? What's being done to find him? Oh, sweetie. How are you holding up? This must be sheer hell for you."
Grace leaned back on the couch, her eyes glued to the ceiling.
"I'm not holding up at all, that's the thing. I have so much on my plate right now, Eve. Not just what's happened to David, but everything feels wrong in general. I feel like I'm tearing apart at the seams. There's so much going on these days, I don't know how to explain. I..."
Evelyn took Grace's hand and squeezed it.
"Everything that's on your mind, get it all out so it won't bother you anymore. Give it hell. I swear to you, I will never tell another living soul."
Suddenly the dam burst inside of Grace, releasing the hot tide of emotions that had threatened to drown her during the earlier cab ride. She trembled under its power as she spoke.
"I'm responsible for what happened to David. Before he disappeared, I called him at the hotel and told him that I wanted a divorce. He was devastated, Eve. Oh, God. I drove him out into the cold, dark night and now he's gone! If something happens to him out there, I'll never forgive myself!"
Eve drew closer and put an arm about Grace's shoulders.
"Grace, no. You had no idea that he would leave like that. You didn't force him to do anything but acknowledge your wishes. It's not your fault, girl."
Grace lifted a shaking hand to swat away the tears. "Liam's on his way to London to help with the investigation. Maybe I should have gone with him; I can't stand the thought of some Scotland Yard cop asking, 'Where's the wife? Shouldn't she be here?' I feel like I'm neglecting my duty to David by staying behind."
Evelyn gave a wordless murmur of sympathy, patting her friend's shoulder.
"You had to stay and take care of Rafe. Anyone would understand that."
Grace turned sideways on the couch towards Eve, her face strained.
"No. It's more than just that, much more. There are so many things that you don't know, Eve. About the current situation, my marriage, and about me."
Evelyn noticed the tension that radiated from Grace as she spoke, and she attempted to lighten the load.
"What can you possibly say to me that's so terrible, Grace? Because right now your body language is screaming for me to brace myself. Come on, I'm sure that whatever you're about to say is not that bad. Hey, as long as you didn't vote for Bush, we're fine!"
The statement brought a surprised laugh out of Grace; Eve saw some of the earlier stiffness leave her body and was relieved. "Are you feeling better now?"
Grace looked at her friend, her eyes gleaming in a way they hadn't a moment before.
"Yes, thanks. I really needed that."
Eve smiled briefly before growing serious. "What's going on?"
Grace took a long look around the room. "Where's Leon?"
"He's with his father this weekend, at his house in Queens."
Grace didn't know how to tell her friend what she was thinking in delicate terms, so she just spilled it out.
"I suspect David in the killing of that billionaire Cooper. Other than my father, you are the only person that I've shared this with. The murder happened late on Thursday the 22nd just a few blocks from AE headquarters. Last Friday morning, I was in the penthouse study and I saw a shirt of David's on the couch and it was drenched in blood. I bagged it and now it's stashed away until I can find someone to analyze it. The other day I confronted David, and he told me that he'd only fought with the old man and then found him dead moments later. He swears that he's innocent, but the circumstances are just too suspicious for me to trust him."
Evelyn covered her mouth with her hand.
"Oh, Jesus. No wonder you want a divorce."
Despite the gravity of the situation, Grace managed a wry smile. "I should have wanted one a long time ago; it took this to finally spur me into action."
Eve shook her head in stunned disbelief.
"My goodness. It just goes to show that none of us can really know what goes on in another person's mind until they say or do something that shocks the hell out of us."
Grace leaned back on the sofa. "Amen. David has been on a downward spiral for some time now, ever since he decided to turn his precious company in a direction that I never expected. I told you before that AE did biomedical research, right? Several months ago, out of the clear blue sky, David announced that he made a deal with the government to provide them with information from AE's Nanotechnology division in exchange for funding. It was obviously an offer that they couldn't refuse, and now the business that was once dedicated to building a better future for mankind is soon to be a key factor in destroying it. 'National security,' my ass. But hey, the money's good, right?" Her voice oozed sarcasm at the last words.
Evelyn was silent, and Grace exhaled softly. "I think that was the day when I began to lose respect for him, and it was the beginning of the end for us. I realize now that it shouldn't have started in the first place."
Grace got up and went to the window, aware that Eve was watching her. She stared at the street below, her thoughts on India and how different things were back then, how different she had been compared to the here and now.
She heard Evelyn approach and together they stood and watched the sun emerge from the clouds. After a long moment, Eve spoke.
"Grace, we've known each other for a long time and I can't thank you enough for the support that you gave me when I was going through my divorce. You were my rock during those tough times, and I know that now you need me to return the favor. I am behind you all the way."
"Thank you, Evie. I need so badly to talk. I'm tired of keeping everything inside."
Evelyn led Grace away from the window and back to the couch. Her eyes searched her friend's face as they sat.
"Something in your speech puzzles me, hon. Concerning David, I mean. Earlier you talked of duty and respect, but you never mentioned love. And just a minute ago you said that you should never have married him. What kind of a relationship did the two of you have?"
Grace's mouth formed an ironic smile.
"You know, it's been over five years and I still have no idea."
Evelyn leaned forward. "Do you love him? If not now, have you ever?"
Grace's dark eyes met Eve's lighter ones. "No, never. Not in the way that a woman should love her husband. My feelings for him never went beyond friendship, and after a while even that faded away. There's nothing left between us now except for Rafe."
Eve was mystified. "How could you have married someone that you didn't love?"
Grace closed her eyes and could almost smell the spices in the air that circulated around Darjeeling and the temple, could almost taste the tea leaves on her tongue.
Her voice shook slightly. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Evelyn gently took Grace's face in her hands, forcing her to open her eyes.
"What happened in India, Grace?" She didn't like the ideas that were coming to mind. "Did he force himself on you?"
Grace's voice was firm. "No! Nothing like that. It was just a very trying time for me, and he was there. He was there when I was at an all-time low, and I was grateful to him for his kindness..."
After a long pause, she continued. "It was when I was struck down by a fever that I learned I was pregnant, and David was there. He told me that he loved me, and at the time I was incredibly fond of him and I convinced myself that I would eventually grow to love him. So I accepted his proposal, and as soon as I recovered we went off to tie the knot."
Eve waited patiently for Grace to continue, and after taking a deep breath she pushed on. She placed a hand over her abdomen, where she felt a tight knot forming with each word she spoke.
"Before I met David, there was someone who meant a lot to me, someone who didn't feel the same way. God, I was crazy about him. I loved him, but he just..."
A sob escaped Grace's lips before she could stop it, and Eve felt her own eyes grow moist. Grace let the tears fall as she tried to free herself from the prison of the long-buried secrets in her heart.
"I thought that if I married David, I could recover. Forget. It didn't work, and I was a fool to think that it would. I was so naive when I came to the temple, a runaway from unrequited love. I was carrying his child, Eve!"
Evelyn's mouth opened to speak, but no sound came out. Grace was crying so hard that she could no longer see her friend's face. Her soul was finally letting go of the burden that it had been carrying for over five years, and it was excruciating.
"I admit it, Eve! Finally! I am a liar and a coward! When I learned that I was pregnant with Rafe, I deliberately married a man that wasn't his father. I never breathed a word about it to anyone, not even to the person that needed to know the most. I knew it was wrong, but at the time I didn't give a damn. I was still hurt from the way that he treated me, so I had no desire to tell him about the baby. The only people who knew about my deception were me and David, and I was determined to take my secret to the grave. I still am, and it shouldn't matter that he's in town and trying to..."
Eve's head shot up in surprise. "What? Rafe's father is here?"
Grace sighed as she reached for another tissue.
"Yes, and he's been trying to contact me because I was stupid enough to call him in a moment of weakness. It happened just after I found the shirt and I was scared out of my wits, and today I saw him for the first time in years."
"Did you talk to him?"
Grace shook her head. "No. I was in a taxi when I saw him entering my father's apartment building. Somehow he knew I was staying there."
She picked up her purse from the coffee table and pulled out a folded note, giving it to Evelyn.
"Yesterday he sent me this along with a copy of my favorite book."
Eve slowly read the note, glancing at Grace before going over it a second time.
"Wow. 'I'm here for you'? 'I want to tell you so many things that were left unsaid'? 'I long to hear your voice again'? Oh, and that quote from the book! It's all so beautiful."
Grace said nothing as she took back the note, and Eve watched her curiously.
"It sounds like he's in love with you."
Grace winced slightly at the words, but remained silent.
Evelyn studied her friend. "Why didn't you call him?"
Grace raised her head, and midnight eyes locked with golden brown.
"I just couldn't do it. It's been so long, and God only knows why he's really pursuing me. I don't want to be hurt again. I don't have the strength to go through that again."
Eve raised an eyebrow. "Do you still love him?"
After a long moment, Grace whispered softly. "Does it matter?"
"Oh, I think it does."
Grace didn't reply, and Eve smoothed back a wayward curl before speaking.
"It seems to me that he's genuine about wanting to help you, Grace. You should talk to him and find out what's going on there. You don't have to tell him about Rafe if you don't want to, but I strongly recommend that you do. As his biological father, he has a right to know."
Grace closed her eyes, partly resisting Evelyn's suggestion while remembering another pressing concern.
"There's something else that I haven't mentioned yet."
Eve noted a new tension in Grace's slight frame and grew worried.
"What is it?"
Grace nervously placed her fingers against her mouth, then pulled them away.
"I've been feeling sick off and on for the past week, mostly in the mornings. Nausea, headaches and that sort of thing. I'm afraid that I may be pregnant again, and with everything that's going on it would be the worst timing in the world. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow morning, but now that David's missing, I don't know if I can wait that long."
Evelyn brought a hand to her forehead, feeling overwhelmed yet supportive of her friend.
"Now I know why I stopped watching daytime soap operas. Grace, what is it that you're trying to tell me?"
Grace pulled the small pregnancy test kit from her purse and held it tightly in her hands as she looked at Eve. "May I use your bathroom?"
* * *
The two friends found a nice, low-key restaurant a few blocks from the Park, and they had lunch together. For a short while, they were simply two average joes hanging out and catching up on old times; they laughed and talked like old pals instead of government agent and famous novelist, or Shadow Hunter and reluctant helper. They were just Gabriel and Mosely.
But then Mosely briefly stepped outside to buy a copy of the Sunday paper and reality returned as Gabriel saw the headline in large black print, clear as day:
BILLIONAIRE DEFENSE CONTRACTOR GOES MISSING IN LONDON
Gabriel grabbed the paper and scanned the article, stunned.
David Anami, the founder and CEO of Anami Enterprises has been reported missing in London earlier today after he failed to attend a major business meeting...
"Holy shit! Mose, check this out."
Mosely left his seat across the table from Gabriel and moved to sit beside him. Together they read the rest of the article.
It has been said that the 51-year old Anami left the Savoy hotel before dawn and vanished into the night. Scotland Yard is tight-lipped concerning what may have prompted the biotechnology mogul to leave in such a hurry and at such an hour, but an inside source says that Anami received a disturbing phone call shortly before leaving.
Neither Anami's business associates nor his family could be reached for comment.
Shocked, Gabriel looked up at Mosely. Mosely exhaled sharply before speaking.
"Well, I guess now's the time to discuss my findings on the guy. After the incident with Grace in the Park, I ran around like crazy to get as much info on Anami as I could find. I guess I hit the jackpot."
Gabriel refolded the paper and returned it to the table top. "I'm ready."
Mosely hesitated, and Gabriel frowned at him.
"I want to know everything about him, Mose. Come on."
The concerned friend faded away and the CIA agent returned.
"Born May 1st, 1949. He was born in Osaka and was originally called Kanaye Anami until he and his parents immigrated to Ireland when he was a small boy and had it changed to David. His father, Taku, went off to work in a factory in England..."
Gabriel broke in. "I already know about that. Skip ahead a little."
"After his father died in a freak accident, David and his mother struggled to stay afloat. It didn't help that almost everyone in Crosshaven hated their guts simply because they were Japanese. Many families in the area had lost someone in WWII, and they didn't take it well when 'the enemy' moved next door."
Gabriel shook his head in disgust. "Those bastards."
Mosely sighed. "It gets worse, much worse. Not only did the local boys beat up David every day on the playground, but their fathers were also bothering his mother. After the loss of her husband, Aki Anami tried to earn money as a seamstress but no one wanted her 'Jap hands' sewing their clothes. So she tried to find work as a secretary, but all the so-called respectable businessmen in the area all wanted her to work overtime, if you get my meaning. At first she refused, but after a few months of having little food in the house she gave in."
He ran a hand over his closely-cropped hair before continuing.
"Soon after that, the rumors started and before long everyone openly labeled Mrs. Anami the town whore. David was nearly pounded into the ground from all the fights that he'd gotten into, trying to defend his mom's honor. Jesus Christ, what a place!"
Gabriel nodded grimly. "What else happened?"
"One night soon after David graduated from High School, he was working late in one of his jobs as a gravedigger when he was hit on the head from behind with a shovel. When he came to, he found the body of his mom in the hole that he had made. She had been brutally beaten, raped and sodomized by God knows how many men, and then she was choked to death."
Gabriel squeezed his eyes shut, holding up a hand to stop Mosely from saying more.
"Oh, God. He was just a kid. To see his mom like that..."
Mosely continued after Gabriel trailed off. "He went berserk, grabbed a lead pipe and went to town on as many heads as he could find that may have been involved. When the police came to arrest him, he screamed for the whole town to hear, asking them why they didn't try to find his mother's rapists and killers. They didn't have an answer for him, but it didn't matter; David knew they were dirty cops who were either involved themselves or were just covering for those who did. He escaped custody and ran away, vowing revenge."
He cleared his throat. "I guess he got it; within weeks of his departure, folks started either dying or vanishing. One of the most prominent figures of the community with whom Mrs. Anami 'worked' after hours was out fishing one day when his foot got tangled in the line and was dragged under by a huge fish. Another guy, a local farmer, got run over by his own tractor. By the end of that year, about twenty men met their maker and another ten were just gone."
Gabriel stared out of the window, his stomach churning.
"Christ, what a nightmare."
Mosely quickly moved on. "In the fall of 1967, Anami began his studies at the University of Oxford. He earned degrees in Business and Mathematics. He went to the University with a friend of his from Crosshaven, Liam Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick himself studied at the Medical School at Oxford, and went on to become one of the top students there. He is a licensed doctor, but he doesn't practice."