Start of DSA
Miss Parker was running through the darkness. She unlocked Jarod’s room, and relocked it. She quickly hid under his bed. Ever the light sleeper though, Young Jarod looked under his bed. The lighting left a lot in the dark, mostly shadows, but the voice was heard and most of the movements were seen. “What are you doing there? Miss Parker? Are you crying?”
“I can’t take it anymore. Please make it stop,” a voice came from beneath his bed.
Jarod got out of bed and looked at her underneath it. He bent down on his belly. “What’s wrong?”
“The Triumvirate. I can’t do this anymore. I need out of here. They’re going to eventually kill me.”
“They sent a lion after me through The Centre! I ran and I ran and . . . I made someone get eaten. I had to, Jarod! I!”
“A . . . a real lion? In The Centre?”
“Yes. I . . . I-I’m so scared.”
“It’s okay. It’s okay, we’ll tell Sydney. He can do about anything. Wait ‘til morning, right here. It’ll be okay.”
“No, it won’t.”
“Mister Raines?” Young Jarod pulled himself up quickly as the lights came on in the room.
“I need the little whiner beneath your bed, Pretender,” Mister Raines said. He opened the door. “Bring her here to us.”
“Why?” Jarod asked. “What are you going to do?” He stayed right where he was as Mister Raines, his sweepers, and triumvirate members entered. “You can’t hurt her. She’s Mister Parker’s daughter.”
“Mister Parker is gone for the week,” Raines said. “Move.”
“No,” Young Jarod said. “Sydney-“
“Isn’t here,” Raines said. “Even if he was, I wouldn’t care. Move.” Raines snapped his fingers and a sweeper started to move Jarod. He struggled.
“Stop it, you can’t hurt her! She’s Mister Parker’s daughter, and he rules The Centre!”
Miss Parker yelled as she was dragged from beneath the bed. She was carried out by sweepers.
After the sweeper let Jarod go, Raines closed the glass door behind him. “You did exquisite work on the lion,” Raines said as he looked at Miss Parker. “The Triumvirates were pleased. But now, you, are down here, again? With him?”
“Should we erase her memory now, Sir?”
“Erase her memory?” Raines said. “No.” He looked toward Young Jarod. “Erase this part from any DSA of his. We will erase his memory. Right after we do something.” He approached Miss Parker. “Scared of the lion, weren’t you?”
“It could have killed me!” She cried out. “When daddy finds out-“
“Daddy can’t do anything. He’d be killed,” Raines said. “The Triumvirate are not something to dabble with. Have you seen your daddy with them? How’s he act? Not superior. No one acts superior with them.”
Miss Parker struggled.
“Not even me. Because of your actions.” He sighed. “I will have to leave for ten minutes.” He looked at his watch. He looked to one of the Triumvirate members. “Mister Parker is going to expect damage from the lion encounter. Make sure it looks like she did it to herself running.” He looked back to Miss Parker before looking toward his sweepers. “Sweepers? Come with me.”
“Huh?” Miss Parker was surrounded by four people from the Triumvirate. She backed up to the glass by Jarod.
“It is a big responsibility, to run The Centre. To be a Parker. Your actions affect not only you. You will remember this lesson.”
Jarod. Tried to watch the screen. Her screams. Mixed with his. He’d look up every once in awhile and see him banging on the glass wall, unable to help. Trapped behind glass. He heard her cries of anguish as he heard the sounds of bones breaking against the glass.
Start of DSA
“Miss Parker! Miss Parrrker! Miiiiiss Parker! Stop it! Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!”
When Raines came back Miss Parker was screaming in agony. “Now. Your daddy will know about the lions, but if you tell him about this? Your little friend, Jarod, will pay. Responsibility starts today. Childhoods ends today.” He looked at her wounds. “That lion sure did a number on you. Glad you survived. The infirmaries closed though. I’ll be back first thing in the morning.” He looked toward Jarod. “I’ll have to be to erase your memory.”
“No, get her help, now! She needs help!” Jarod screamed. He slumped to the ground, barely beating on the glass now. “I’m sorry. I can’t do anything.”
Her breathing was slow. “Just. Focus.”
“How are you even still talking?” He lowered his head. “Until morning. No medicine until morning, and I can’t help you!” He banged on the glass once more. “What can I do?”
He just breathed along with her. In that room.
“Kri Kraw Toads Foot, Geese Walk , Bare Foot . . .” Young Jarod did the only thing he could. “That song comforts me . . . what . . . what comforts you?”
She breathed deeply. “Angel. When daddy said it . . . I felt safe . . .”
“Mister Parker called you Angel?”
“Focus,” she said. “Focus. Morning.”
“I’m here. I’ll be here ‘til morning.” He hit the glass again. “Then they’ll take you away and I won’t remember.” He closed his eyes. “I have to remember. You need help. You need lots of help.” He stroked the glass where her cheek was at. “Kree Kraw Toads Foot, Geese Walk, Bare Foot. Morning time’s gonna come, Angel, I promise.”
End of DSA
Jarod hit stop. He couldn’t take it anymore. Miss Parker had told him and he couldn’t remember it. But, it was there, on the DSA. She would want to kill him now, he watched more than a few minutes. He fast forwarded here and there, but he watched ‘til morning. All night long, she was there, suffering, with him only being able to talk. He couldn’t touch. He closed his eyes. Miss Parker. He closed her DSA. “I’m not behind glass anymore,” he muttered to himself.
Raines and the Triumvirates. If they were out there in his world, he’d use his Pretending skills to take them all down if he could for that! All of them deserved to pay, each and every one. If he knew how to do it. Right now, she should be cooling her heels in a ‘milkshake’. He knew her better than that. She wasn’t doing anything uncouth during pregnancy, but the thought of her being out in las vegas didn’t sit well with him.
Especially after seeing that. How many times had she tried to get help from him, only to have him forget? Only to have him trapped behind the glass. He got up and moved away.
Nuh uh, he couldn’t grant her wish of ‘not a word’, or leave her alone out there right now. He had to talk to her.
Las Vegas Strip
“We don’t usually get asked for that.”
Miss Parker sighed as she looked at the bartender. “What do you have that’s not alcoholic?” She stared at the waiter. Of course, nothing for her there. She watched the guy in front of her light up his cigarette right across from her. Tasty. Her life in the pursuit of Jarod had changed so much. She used to feel on top of the world, and now she felt like a lonely woman hiding in a gutter, defending herself with a toy gun.
She went there more than once. Between here and there in the pursuit of Jarod, he liked returning to that area. Whenever they didn’t have a lead on him, she’d go there just in case. Instead, it was really about the warm and inviting environment. Less about the bright lights, but more about the adult world it encompassed.
She had been a single woman with a pair of stilletos and a voice that could kill any man into a one night cozy in her bed. Now. What the hell was she? Her job, didn’t have one. She could never go back to her home in Blue Cove. She was a gigantic thing carrying two babies that she had to share with the one she was supposed to capture. Now, she had to play mommy to two more kids, because Debbie needed a better cure.
Jarod made a good offer to her. But that’s what it was, an offer! She used to be in command. She used to be right on target to inherit The Centre. She got chased by lions, suffered daily, went through horrendous treatments, both needles and psychological to become the femme fatale she had been.
All blown sky high once she took that trip to Africa.
And Jarod wasn’t making things any easier. On Carthis, in one night, she messed up. She was allowed to a little bit. It was only one night. She dropped her guard, just a tad because of all the discoveries, and he snuck in. They had almost kissed, but she slipped out of that very quick when she realized she lost it.
For that moment, her focus had disappeared.
And she swore to hell and back she wouldn’t let it happen again. So far, okay, but Jarod was actually . . . watching the DSA’s. What if he stumbled on the only one that . . .
She turned around. Like a second wind of life, she felt her lungs fill with hope. “Hey, Stranger.” She winked at him. For that moment she wasn’t stuck in regular shoes, a loose dress, and felt as big as an ox.
“Well? Nice to see you again,” he said. “You remember this was my corner, huh?”
Uh uh. It was her corner. He just happened to share it, but if he wanted to feel important, he could go right ahead. “Been some time.”
“Few months,” he said, smiling. “See you got a little something extra more than you bargained for.”
Shit. Of course he recognized her giant belly. She was six months with twins. The world she had once envisioned was slipping away again. She leaned on her cheek. “It wasn’t intentional.”
He just shrugged. “That too?”
Miss Parker looked down at her ‘wedding’ ring. Damn you, Jarod! “Let’s just say Las Vegas turned me around a bit.”
“I see. Stuck on the mommy path with the guy who’s the father in a dumb accident?” He nodded.
“You have no idea,” she said slowly enunciating it all. “All I want is a drink and . . .” She looked toward someone else smoking on the other side. “He made my life hell. I hate him so much.” Then, she felt a warm hand on top of hers. The warmth of an old life. Her life. Fate. Don’t make me reinvent my life again.
“Everyone gets in sticky situations,” her old boytoy smiled. Name? What was his name? “You just have to think what the best way to get out of it is. I mean, I’ve never been the woman but I’m sure I’ve probably plundered a cave or two. I imagine they’re still out there living their lives paying babysitters to watch them while they’re out.”
She felt the back of his warm hand on her cheek. “I couldn’t do that.” She looked toward his drink. “I could never do that to my kids. I had a warm and loving mother. I can never live up to her, but I at least need to try to be something for them.”
“Well, that’s good.” He removed his hand from her cheek. “So, you’re out here for one last hurrah?”
She looked at her glass of water. “Hurrah.”
“Well. Maybe I can help you out with that little last hurrah?” He brought a wallkie talkie to his mouth. “Found and located.”
Hm? She looked around herself.
“How would you like to talk to your father?” He pulled out his phone. “Any minute, the man known as Mister Parker will be calling you.”
“No.” They were not going to play that game with her. “I have to go.”
“He’s going to call for you.” The pnone started to ring and he answered it.
“Calling don’t mean shit. It could be anyone on the other end.” She would never fall for that.
“Okay, Sir, she doesn’t believe. Okay.” He held the phone up to her. “He said when you were little you used to play with blocks. The only letters missing were the letters not in the word The Centre.”
How would they . . . it could be tradition.
“Not budging , Sir,” her boytoy, that she realized just now, had been part of The Centre and just assigned to the area. Focus. Gone. “Okay.” He held the phone up to her again. “Your mother kept you by her side whenever she was working in The office of The Centre, and your dad said it was an angel watching over an angel.”
“Daddy.” A year and a half later after that accident. Presumed dead. She grabbed the phone. “Daddy?”
“Angel.” His voice. That name. It felt so good to hear it again!
“Daddy, there’s so much-!”
“Sh, sh, calm down Angel, calm down.” Never letting her get a word in. It was certainly her father. “Now I know about what Lyle and The Triumvirates did to you, and I know why you are stuck out there with Jarod. It’s okay. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Then the words. The words she’d dreamed that she could hear again almost every night.
“Daddy’s back in control of The Centre. You can come home now, sweetie.”
“Has been dealth with. Severely for the crime he induced! I can’t believe my ownson! But. He wasn’t. You know that. Discovered a little secret there, didn’t you?”
Miss Parker sat back down at the bar. “Daddy. I don’t know what to do. What Lyle did. These are Jarod’s-“
“Angel, angel. I’m not in the dark about this. I know what I’m doing. You have to come home.”
“I.” She couldn’t. The cure for Debbie. Gemini was nearby. Jarod would be furious. But. “I miss home.”
“I know you do.”
“I can’t describe it,” she said. “It’s the worst, most terrible place on Earth, and I live for it.”
“Oh, Angel. Jarod’s got you all twisted up again. Look, you come home, and everything will be solved. I’ve got the real cure for Broot’s daughter right here in my hand. I know you’ve undergone some harsh times without me by your side, but it was imperative I returned the scrolls back to the sea.”
“They can’t harm us anymore. Only the Parkers know the location, and that is going to have to satisfy the triumvirates.”
“Daddy.” No. What do I do?
“Now, I know you better than you know yourself. You’re fighting with yourself over my grandkids. You want to protect them, most of all from Jarod, who you know will come after them! He won’t stay in The Centre where he’s safe, and he won’t leave them! But honey, you know, you know they can’t live out there like regular people if either of them have his gift.”
“He’s um. He’s learned to control it,” she said carefully.
“Even if you believe that, is that what you want, Angel? To be out there, running, with Jarod? You want to run from me.”
“No, daddy, but-“
“He’s the enemy you are supposed to capture! And you are his. That is your focus! If you stay out there, do you really think they’ll be safe? His family, hm? He found them, and they will nab my grandkids as soon as they get the chance! They don’t want a Parker raising a Pretender.”
“I don’t have the right to just take them.”
“And he doesn’t have the right to drag you out into that world! Away from your home, and away from me! Putting them at risk, it’s all putting them at risk! Angel, you’re all I have. We only have each other.” He sighed. “You don’t have to hunt for Jarod anymore, I can put you back in corporate just like before this whole mess began.”
Ouch. Conscience. “He won’t let them get them.”
“Lies. He’s been hunting his family and searching for his mother for six years. You think he’s really going to let a daughter of mine, the person he sees as his enemy, raise his children?!”
She put her hand to her head. Where was that voice now? Where was that voice now?! “Jarod-“
“-is probably already thinking of a good deal between the two of you. Of course he is! When your defenses are lowered, he’ll come in, take them for a ‘small trip’, and off they go! Never to be seen again. I know what it’s like to lose children, I know. I don’t want you to suffer that same fate, Angel. Let me come get you.”
No. “Jarod would be out there like the Boogeyman, daddy.” No. Oh no. “I can’t.”
“You have to. The scrolls say it is gonna happen. You need to end the Parker madness. The first step is coming back to The Centre.”
“The Centre is tied to The Triumvirate, and The Triumvirate is what did this to me!” She yelled for the entire bar to hear, not even caring anymore.
“What is your focus, Angel? What is your focus?! Say it!”
“To capture Jarod and bring him back to The Centre.”
“Above all. He is the number one priority. Now, I know you are upset about what happened. You have every right to be. Figuring out these kids, I bet Jarod’s taken you to a messy string of places, not fit for someone like yourself. Probably don’t even feel like yourself. Can’t imagine what it’s like to be paired up with your own enemy. Must be hard, Angel, and I’m sorry. But-“
“You will never do anything more to us.”
Miss Parker looked down at her hand. “Daddy?” She was fading off. She looked to the other side of her where her boytoy sweeper once had been. He was gone.
Her focus was so lost. That surgery. “Jarod.”
“Oh, no more for her, thanks,” Emily said to the bartender as Miss Parker faded away. “Pregnant in the first place. She shouldn’t be out here. Right, dad?” She held her left side. “Let’s get her back home.”
Major Charles shook his head but grabbed the right side. “Jarod is not going to like this, Emily.”
“This is bigger than him. This is bigger than us,” Emily insisted. “The dust is settling, dad. Before I lost track of mom, she knew she was the key.”
“That doesn’t mean she’s bad.”
Emily looked behind her at Ethan. He followed too? “Ethan?”
“You don’t know the real her,” Ethan insisted. “She’ll be a good mother. Let her stay with Jarod. Please?”
“They took away everything.” Emily looked toward Major Charles. “Everything. All our years together. Growing up without any brothers. Never getting to know Kyle even one day. And Ethan?” She looked toward him. “Look what Raines did you to. How he hurt you, manipulated you. He kept you away. He killed your own mother.” She looked down at Miss Parker’s unconscious form. “It’s payback time, and Jarod is too kind to do what must be done. No more will our family be kept away from us because of Parkers.”
“It’s Catherine Parker’s daughter,” Major Charles sighed. “But, she never stopped chasing. I.” He breathed as he lifted her into the car.
“The Centre will get their hands on them, and we can’t let any more fall to them,” Emily reminded her father. “They never plan on giving back mom. We’ll never plan on giving back them.”
“Jarod won’t go for it,” Ethan warned her. “You can’t take her. I can’t let you take her.” He looked toward his father, grabbing his shoulder. “Jarod wouldn’t want this. To do what you want, you’ll have to keep him away too.”
“No,” Emily insisted. “I just need more time to make him see. When he sees that she can’t be a part of their lives, then everything will be fine.” She sighed. “Three months. We’ll keep her comfortable for three months.”
“And then?” Major Charles asked. “Send her back to The Centre, never to see her kids again? Or something else?”
Emily glanced toward her father. “Dad, stop.”
“This is wrong.”
“Well you are here with me, aren’t you?”
“I-I” He held his head. “I have to be there for all my children.” He looked in the backseat at Miss Parker. “I don’t know which way to go, but with her father back in there? I, things . . . just got complicated. More complicated.”
“She’s my sister,” Ethan tried again as he approached the car. “This isn’t the way.”
“She’s the enemy,” Emily said to Ethan. “Even dad has some knowledge that this has to be done. To save them.”
Ethan covered his eyes. “Jarod will be upset.”
“This world isn’t perfect,” Emily said, still trying to convince him. “It’s not. Our family is not getting intermingled in The Centre though. Not again. Not anymore.”
“Mister Parker came back,” Major Charles sighed. “She’s likely to do anything, Ethan.”
“She’d do the right thing.” Ethan looked down at her. She was slumped against the side in the back.
“I hope I get to see you again,” Emily said to him. “But you can’t come. It’s obvious you’ll give us away.”
Ethan watched as they sped off, his head lowering to the ground. He closed his eyes. What should he do? “Send out the clowns.” What could they possibly do? “I should contact Jarod.” No, but it was still telling him to send out the clowns first.
“Yeah, I know, bread,” Argyle said to his dad. “Anything else to add?”
“No, but I need bread,” his father said. “Ooh! Some tomato and mayonnaise. Real burgers. Those diners up there by Delaware, they didn’t have the right pizzazz.”
“So you want bread, tomato and mayonnaise or for me to just pick up some burgers, pops?” Argyle asked. “I’m a here, I’m a waitin.”
“Got to get a real sandwich again,” his pops said. “Just go around the corner and pick some up, then go to the store.”
“Alright. I’ll be back.” Argyle opened up their apartment door and started heading downward. While he moved, he received a call. “Hello?”
“You need to watch for Miss Parker.”
“Miss P?” Argyle stopped. “Who is this?”
“Black limousine. Follow the black limousine.”
“Kay, pal, this is LA. Watcha mean follow the black limousine, what limousine?” Argyle started heading out the door and getting into his car.
“The voice says you’ll know.”
“What do you mean I’d-“ Argyle watched as a black limousine started to run straight by his place. And his wasn’t an area that a black limousine should be scratching around in. “Never mind.” He started to follow after it. He couldn’t see inside. “Miss P’s in there?”
“Don’t lose them. Keep following them.”
“But, how did you even know this number? How do you know all this?”
“I followed you for some time. I was watching out for my sister. Her life is hard right now.”
“Tagging me, you been tagging me?” Argyle whined. “Why’s this stuff keep happening to me?”
“Don’t lose them, please.”
“If Miss P. is in there, I won’t lose her.” Argyle heard the dial tone and called his pops. “You have to wait for the sandwich, pops, I gotta tail a black limousine that’s carrying Miss P.”
“Yeah, I know, weird psychic stuff, but if Miss P’s in there, I can’t lose her.” Argyle hung up before his dad could ask anymore. He didn’t know what that guy was talking about with voices, but if Miss P. was in the limousine, that was all that mattered.
Jarod heard his phone ring. He looked at the number. The phone he gave Sydney. “Broots?” he asked. “Not a good time. It’s late, Debbie’s already in bed, and I-I’m not in the best state of mind here.”
“Mister Parker is back, Jarod.”
“And that’s not all! Ethan just called me. I’m sorry. This isn’t easy to say. Your family just abducted Miss Parker.”
“What?!” He stood right up, almost knocking over the DSA case. “What do you mean, how do you know that?!”
“Ethan told me. He said he sent the clowns to follow her. Jarod. I don’t know what that means, but he said to call this number.”
Jarod listened closely. Argyle’s number. “Thanks.” He didn’t have time to think about anything else. Emily, no! He knew the hurt the Parkers did to their family was great, but this wasn’t the answer. He dialed up Argyle’s number. “Argyle!”
“Hey, uh? Geez, your fast. Gave me a heart attack.”
“Uh, yeah, this weird guy said something about a voice and a black limousine? I mean, I don’t know but this like, high top limousine just went cruising by my house while my dad asked for-“
“Don’t lose them, stay in touch with me.” Jarod grabbed his keys, his jacket, and moved out the door. He knocked on the young teens’ door urgently. Gemini was out first, standing erect with Debbie coming by his side. “Get dressed fast, we’re going for a ride.”
“Going for a ride?” Argyle asked on the phone. “I’m on the ride.”
“Listen, Argyle, don’t interact with them. Wait for me.” He tried to wait patiently for the kids, but his family knew how to move fast. It’s how they stayed away from The Centre. It could be months before he got to Miss Parker again!
And he had questions he wanted answered. He wanted to tell her things. Ask her things. Things she never gave real answers to, lies that drove him away. And if gone long enough. He didn’t want to miss them. He missed so much time with his own family, he didn’t want to miss one moment of their lives. He went back to get their DSA cases and several vials of the cure for Debbie. There was no telling what would happen, and if they would come back or not soon.
He would eventually have to come back, it’s where the chemicals were for Debbie, but he would have to leave everything and everyone, and make damn sure nobody followed him back! Because it was no longer safe.
Not because of The Centre, but because his own family tailed him! As the kids came out, fully dressed, Jarod headed out the door with them. He locked the door, went toward the car, unlocked it and they all got in. He hit reverse and headed off toward the bright lights of Vegas.