Verity glanced over at Garrett’s sleeping form as she got out of bed. She padded towards the door as silently as possible. She hated all this sneaking about behind his back. He just wouldn’t understand. She made sure the door closed behind her trying not to disturb his peaceful slumber. She checked on Trober in his crib. His sweet angelic little face brought a smile to her lips. She’d do anything to keep her son safe.
She sat in front of her computer opening the special file she kept all her notes and research in. Everything she had ever found out about Kara was inside that file. It took a moment for the incessant vibrating of her phone caught her attention. Glancing at the screen she frowned. The terse text made her heart plummet. She knocked over the chair in her haste to reach the door. The cool night air raised goose-flesh along her bare arms. She hoped to catch a glimpse of the delivery person but all she found was the crumpled newspaper wedged under the bush. Squinting into the darkened back yard she knew someone lurked, watching her every move.
Taking the paper she noted the date was from three years ago. The front line story had been about the death of Garrett’s parents. A sticky note in bold black ink read “say goodbye to snips and snails and puppy dog tails”. Rubbing her hands along her arms she felt chilled from more than just the cold. Someone personally was sending her a message and it didn’t take a genius to know who. Kara had found them. Was threatening them.
Stunned she sank into a chair her mind whirling around trying to figure out why Kara would threaten her and not Garrett. Had her goals changed? Three years ago she would have left her alone. The baby alone should have secured their safety at least for a while. Now it seemed that didn’t matter. Would Kara hurt her son? Three years ago she would have said no. Now she wasn’t so sure. She reached for a her phone unaware of the early hour as she put her call through.
The groggy voice that greeted her sent a faint stab a guilt through her as she glanced at the time. Five o’clock in the morning the clock on the wall said “Mr Bennett?” she asked.
“Yeah. Who is this?” Jeff’s voice lost most of it sleepiness as he awoke recognizing her voice “Verity what’s wrong?”
“She’s here,” she announced. She didn’t need to say who was back. They both new who she was. She sighed as she launched in an explanation of what happened.
Silence on the other end assured her he was listening. “I’m putting a detail on both you and Garrett,” he told her his voice commanding offering no room for argument.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,”she said without thinking. All she could think about was how worried Garrett would be. How this would affect his job. He had just gotten a promotion. He didn’t need the added pressure o knowing Kara was out there stalking him again. His job was dangerous enough.
She could hear the disapproval in Jeff’s voice as he persuaded her to accept the detail. What choice did she have? She couldn’t follow him herself. Someone had to be here with Trober. After she was done talking to Jeff reassured that he was dropping everything to come she sat staring at the newspaper rereading the note. How was she going to explain this to Garrett? If only she had told him the first time she had received a text from that mad woman. She couldn’t believe it had been a year already and she had never told him. The threats increased in volume but never directed towards Garrett or Trober. Verity thought she could handle it. Thought she could continue to search for her. Thought she had it under control.
Garrett scrolled through her phone reading one text after another. Heart pounding in his ears as the threat to his family tried to sweep him away into the a long dark tunnel. “Why?” he asked his voice hoarse as he dragged his eyes from the last text “why didn’t you tell me?” He took a deep breath hoping to keep a lid on the anger he felt bubbling up inside him.
“I…I don’t know,” she shook her head rubbing her arms as if she were cold. Taking a step forward she tried to wrap her arms around him. Garrett stiffened in her arms as he pulled away from her. “Please” she cried “I didn’t want you to worry!”
“Why would I worry?” he asked his voice low his eyes simmered as a volcano of emotion boiled just beneath his calm exterior. “You’re only my wife. Mother to my son. Why would I worry?” He took a step back running his hand through his hair “damn it Verity don’t you think I had a right to know?”
“I’m sorry” she cried her hands reaching for him “I thought I could handle it….”
“On your own,” he growled stalking away from her. He did a slow circuit around the small room that served as their living and dining room. “We’re married “he said stopping in front of their son’s crib that was also wedged into an empty corner lacking space anywhere else in the house. “Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
Confused she shook her head, red hair flying around her face “I only wanted to protect you,” she repeated. She watched as Garrett picked up their son “I didn’t want you to worry about me.”
“You’re my wife Verity,” he kept his voice low, calm and steady “that means I worry when your five minutes late coming home from the store. I wonder did she get into an accident. Did she get a flat tire? Loving someone means you worry about them. It comes with the territory.”
She watched him bounce Trober in the air filling the room with their son’s giggles. Family was a difficult concept for her to understand. Her parents had died when she was young but even before their deaths they were detectives. Keeping secrets was part of every day life. It was normal to keep the other in the dark. She remembered wishing she had a normal family like everyone else when she were little. Swiping at her eyes she said his name. He turned towards her his light blue eyes seemed to stab through her heart “I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.”
Turning to the little boy in his arms “mommy’s a big bad detective,” his voice was light almost sing-song in nature. The one year old watched him with rapt attention “she keeps lots of secrets.” He caught her gaze and held it “secrets are ok but not when I’m left in the dark. I need to know when my family is in danger.”
“You’re right” she bit her lip feeling a crushing weight fall on her shoulders when she thought of all the half-truths and lies she’d told over the past year. “I’m sorry,” she didn’t know what else she could say.
“I know,” Garrett said putting their son on the floor “no more lies. No more secrets. Not when it involves that woman.”
Several hours later Garrett sat across the table from Verity. Drumming his fingers on the table top silence between them unsettling. Verity resisted the urge to squirm under his scrutiny. She felt like a little girl who had gotten caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
Notes from the xylophone filled the room as their son beat an irregular tune on it. Beethoven he wasn’t Verity thought as the minutes slowly ticked by. Garrett sat stonily staring at her with a sullen expression upon her face.
Picking up a copy of the note that was left in the newspaper early this morning Garrett stared at it before sliding it across the table towards her. Anger simmered behind his light blue eyes as he stabbed the page with his finger. “Didn’t you think I deserved to know about this?”
Her eyes followed his finger “I had it under control,” she mumbled “Jeff has dispatched a detail to follow us. That woman won’t get anywhere near us.”
“Just like she wasn’t going to get near my parents,” he sneered “if you haven’t noticed they’re dead. Where was their detail than?” He got up the chair scrapping across the bare hard wood floor “let me remind you in case you’ve forgotten. Their detail was working for her.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” she shouted at him biting her lip to keep from saying more. How could she have been so stupid? Garrett was right. She should have told him from the beginning. They’re stronger together than apart. She could see it now. “I’ve been working for her instead of against her,” she mumbled in the silence.
“What?” he shouted unable to believe his ears “did you just say you’re working for her?”
Her eyes darted towards him “no not like that. I meant that by not telling you I was helping her divide us. I should have known better.” She dropped her head into hands “I keep making such stupid mistakes.”
Sighing Garrett pushed himself away from the wall. Walking towards her he put his arms around her, “let’s start fresh. From this day forward no more lies. No more secrets. We can’t afford to keep things from each other. Think about what will happen to our son if something happens to one of us. I refuse to let that woman destroy our family.”
After his early morning call from Verity Jeff made a quick call. A familiar voice spoke in his ear “she’s found them.”
Stunned silence greeted his announcement before a male’s voice asked “who is she after?”
“The baby,” Jeff said keeping his words to a minimum to keep the call as short as possible. The less time he spent calling the less guilty he’d feel about lying to his entire family.
“What are you doing about it?” the man demanded anxiety clear in his voice.
“I’ve dispatched a detail to follow them,” Jeff advised them. He cringed at the derisive snort from the man on the other end of the call “it’s the best we can do. It’s not like we can put them under house arrest.”
“It gives that woman too much room to maneuver,” another silence filled their ears “I don’t like it.”
“I know neither do I,” Jeff admitted as he disconnected the call. Turning to Lisa he said “I’ve got to go to Aurora Skies.”
Nodding she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek “I surmised as much. I’ve packed a bad for you with fresh clothes.”
“Thanks hon,” he smiled at her before he pulled her close “I love you.” He tilted her chin towards him capturing her mouth with his.
A week later Verity was not surprised to find Jeffrey Bennett on her doorstep. “Come in,” she said resigned to his presence.
“Have you told him yet?” he asked not beating around the bush.
“Yes I told him,” she sighed “I should have told him sooner.”
“Yes you should have,” Jeff agreed even though he wondered if he would have done any differently if he thought it would keep Lisa and the kids safe. Jeff looked at her shaking his head. He couldn’t help wonder what else the could do that hadn’t been done already. “Do you think Kara would hurt Trober?” he asked after pondering the situation a moment.
“If this was three years ago I would have said no,” Verity told him “now I’m not so sure. Maybe she hates me enough that hurting a child is no longer a restraint.”
He rubbed his chin “I wonder if something happened in her life that could have changed her goals.”
“I haven’t found anything,” she said giving away the fact that she had been continuing her research.
Jeff nodded acknowledging it without comment “maybe you’re not looking in the right places.’ He gave her a piercing glare “you’re too close to this.”
“And you’re not?” she shot back at him “don’t tell me you don’t feel just as guilty as I do about what happened to Ian.”
Drumming his fingers on the wall he stared off into space. His chin jutting out in stubborn refusal to acknowledge her comment. He did feel guilty but not for that. The secret he held weighed heavily on his mind. He hadn’t told anyone not even Lisa who was his confidant in everything. He never kept things from her not in all the years they had been married. After all this time he found himself in this terrible situation with no way out.
Verity reached over to him touching his hand “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Grunting he tried to smile to hide behind the thin veneer of self-confidence he had carefully built around him. “You’re right I do feel guilty,” he mumbled “but that’s beside the point. We need to protect you.”
Sighing she looked up as the front door opened. Garrett walked in “you’re home early” she stammered moving towards him.
Angry eyes stared back at her than moved towards Jeff. Garrett took a deep breath before saying “I informed my commanding officer about the detail following me. As of now I’m on leave until further notice. I can’t do my job if I have to worry about people following me into dangerous situations while I’m out on a rescue mission.”
Verity’s eyes watched him as he turned to Trober patting his little head. It was on the tip of her tongue to say she was sorry when she looked over at Jeff who was silently shaking his head at her. Jeff moved to stand beside his nephew saying “we need to talk.” Verity heard him say.
Garrett nodded putting Trober down kissing his chubby little cheek. Before following his Uncle outside he turned and gave Verity a sad half-smile.
“Son I know this is difficult…”
“Difficult” Garrett growled “I can’t do my job. I have strangers following me everywhere I go. It’s damn near impossible.”
Jeff watched the young man prowl around the front yard before pushing his hair back “I know,” he agreed “I wish things could be different.”
Snorting Garrett stopped and turned “why is she doing this to us? Isn’t it bad enough that she killed my parents? Why does she want my son?”
Jeff hesitated before responding unsure how his revelation would affect his nephew “I have been doing research and I think I know why.” He ran his hands through his hair playing for time “it’s unusual for someone like Kara to change their MO like she has unless there was a pressure point that made them change.”
Garrett stared at him willing his Uncle to get to the point “so?” he asked becoming impatient.
“She can’t have children of her own,” Jeff informed him.
Garrett blinked digesting the information “so she wants my son.” His stomach twisted in fear “why?” he shouted even though he knew the answer. Verity. Verity was the one who had stood in her way preventing her from getting what she wanted most. She was willing to kill to keep Verity from beating her. He took several deep breaths “she can’t have my son. I’d rather die than let her have him.”
A smile spread across her face as she listened “that could be arranged little brother.”
She looked towards the wall that held a gallery of pictures she had taken over the past couple of years. She went to stand in front of one of a little boy with red hair and light blue eyes. He was all smiles. Her fingers traced his image “soon little one you’ll come home to mama.” She leaned in close pressing her lips to the picture. Wiping tears from her eyes she moved towards the door. She had things to do before she brought her son home.