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Dream Walker CH 13 & 14

by  Patsy

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2006
Word Count: 2799
Summary: Victoria gets another call. Katherine tries to help Jon.
Related Works: Dream Walker CH 11 & 12 • Dream Walker CH 2 • Dream Walker CH 4 • Dream Walker CH 5 • Dream Walker CH 6 • Dream Walker CH 8 • Dream Walker CH1 • Dream Walker CH7 • Dream Walker, CH 3 • 

Chapter 13

Victoria fidgeted behind her desk in the news room. She’d agreed to let Katherine drive herself to the hospital today on the condition that she would call her when she returned home – she still hadn’t called.

Victoria checked her watch again – she’d been patient long enough. She reached for the receiver, but the phone rang before she could pick it up.

“Victoria Jennings.”

“Good morning, Miss Jennings.”

Her breath caught. The male caller had the same voice as the one she had spoken to at the house.

“You again – have you called to tell me something useful this time, or just to deliver another cryptic warning?”

Her source laughed. “I like you, Miss Jennings – you have brass.”

“I’ve been accused of worse,” she admitted.

He chuckled. “You’ve been looking into Beckett’s dealings in the United States, yes?”

“Obviously, you already know the answer, though I’d like to know how. Who are you, anyway?”

“A friend, Miss Jennings – a very good friend. You’ve recently moved your investigation South.”

“South,” she replied cautiously. “Would you care to be more specific, as I’ve made a number of inquires – are we talking, Mexico? Panama? Brazil?” She asked, purposely leaving out several choices.

“To the land of the coffee bean – Colombia.”

Her heart started to pound. How much did he really know?

“Perhaps. And if I am checking in Colombia, whom should I look up – Juan Valdez?”

He laughed. “Just like I said – brass. But I think you might get more satisfactory results by looking into Beckett’s dealings with a man named, Julian Xavier.”

Victoria grabbed a pencil and scribbled the name down. “Julian Xavier – and what does Mr. Xavier do? And you’d better not say he runs a Starbuck’s.”

His tone grew serious. “Julian Xavier is no laughing matter, Miss Jennings. He’s a cut throat, and a killer. Be discreet in your investigation, or you’re likely to have an ‘accident’ of your own.”

Her heart was really slamming against her ribs now. Was he insinuating that Katherine’s accident hadn’t been an accident? Who was this man, and what did he really know? “Thanks for the advice,” she said cautiously. “Care to tell me your name now, friend?”

The line went dead, and Victoria stared at the receiver in consternation before she dropped it back into the cradle. “I didn’t think so.”

She had never wished more for the ability to reach through the phone and pull someone through to her side. If her new ‘friend’ really wanted to be helpful, the cryptic bastard would have just told her what she needed to know instead of playing these games.

“Julian Xavier, of Colombia,” she murmured, tapping her pencil on the desk. She had already known he had ties in Colombia with some powerful people in the government, but now it seemed that he was dealing with more than just lawful representatives. Colombia was known for drug trafficking, but what possible motive could the man have for running drugs? He was a billionaire! She shook her head in exasperation. She would find out what Daniel was up to, no matter how dangerous his playmates were.

A pair of arms encircled her from behind and squeezed. Victoria let out a little scream and was released immediately to the accompaniment of rich, male laughter.

“Gee, and I thought you’d be glad to see me.”

“David?” she spun in her chair to find him grinning down at her – all glorious six feet two inches of him.

“David!” She leapt from the seat and into his arms. Finally! Someone she could trust enough to talk to about this. He hugged her tightly to him, nuzzling her neck.

“Now, that’s more like it,” he murmured, his lips warm against her throat.

She turned her head and kissed him deeply. “I’m so glad to see you.”

He drew back. “What’s the matter? You’re
trembling, and flattering as the thought is – I don’t think it’s just because you’re glad to see me.”

She looked up into his warm brown eyes. “I really need to talk to you about something, but not here.”

“Up for a walk?” he asked.

She nodded. Grabbing the paper with her mysterious informant’s tip and stuffing it into her pocket, she took his arm and let him lead her from the room.

They walked hand and hand to the park across the street where Victoria selected a secluded bench as far away from general foot traffic as she could get. The day was gray and overcast, so there weren’t too many people cavorting about anyway, but she checked the bushes for any lurkers nonetheless.

“Victoria, you’re starting to trip me out a little. What’s going on?” David asked as they sat down at last.

“It’s Katherine.”

He frowned. “She didn’t have a relapse did she?”

“No – although that idiot Daniel came close to knocking her down the stairs yesterday.”

“What! Is she all right?”

“Yes, but that’s not the worst of it. He’s into something, David, and I think it’s something bad – immoral at best, dangerous and illegal to be certain. I’ve been getting these calls.”

He narrowed his eyes in that ‘what are you up to now,’ look of his. “What kind of calls?”

“After Katherine’s accident, I started looking into Daniel’s life – his business affairs, international and domestic; his former girlfriends; his art collection – I started poking wherever I could find a crack.”

“Why?” David asked. “I realize he’s not one of your favorite people, but . . .”

She raised her hand. “Because I didn’t buy his story about Katherine’s accident and I still don’t. My sister has been wearing ball gowns since she was thirteen. I just can’t see her being dumb enough to trip and fall down the stairs!”

“I agree that it’s unlikely, but accidents happen, Victoria.”

“They seem to happen a bit too often in Daniel’s orbit. The model that he was dating before Katherine had a little accident of her own during their time togeter. According to her agent, Sabine broke her arm on a skiing trip with Daniel.”

David shrugged. “It’s not that uncommon to
break a bone on the ski slopes.”

She shook her head. “The woman doesn’t ski. I had that straight from one of her associates.”

“Did you talk to her?”

She shook her head. “No. She wouldn’t see me. She blames Katherine for stealing Daniel from her – or rather Daniel’s bank account from her, and the boost all the publicity of dating him did for her career. I’m from still considered to be a member of the enemy camp.”

“Do you really think she’d be so upset at losing him if he was knocking her around?” David asked.

“Women have endured far worse things for money and prestige. Besides – that entire pretense could be a front – maybe she’s afraid to talk to me.”

“But you have no proof,” he said.

“I might not need it. A few days ago, I started getting phone calls from a mystery informant. Daniel Beckett is not the man he pretends to be, and with the help of my new ‘friend,’ I think I’ll be able to prove it. The latest call from my source told me to check into this man in Colombia.” She fished the name from her pocket.

David took the paper from her. “Does your new friend have a name?”

“Not one that he was willing to mention,” she admitted.

“I don’t like this, Victoria – it sounds to me like you’re getting in over your head.”

“My phone-a-friend told me as much. He suggested I be discreet in my inquires if I wanted to avoid having an ‘accident’ of my own.”

David’s brown eyes narrowed. “Now I know this isn’t a good idea.”

“She’s my sister, David. If that bastard tried to kill her, he’ll try it again. I can’t sit back and do nothing.”

He touched her cheek. “You are quite the little spitfire, aren’t you?” He folded the note she’d given him, and stuck it in his shirt pocket. “You let me check out Mr. Xavier. I still have some friends in high places,” he grinned, “and a few in low ones.”

“Once a SEAL, always a SEAL?” she asked.

He shrugged. “You can take the man out of the Navy, but you can’t take the Navy out of the man.”

She leaned her head on his shoulder. “I’m so glad you’re back.”

He kissed her forehead. “Apparently I can’t leave you alone for five minutes without your getting into trouble.”

“Good,” she said. “That means you’ll have to stick around.” She raised her head and looked up into his eyes. “You can stick around, can’t you?”

He took her gently by the chin. “How could I resist that face?”

Victoria sighed with relief. Things were going to be better now that he was back. They would get to the bottom of this together. Katherine would be safe – and if she had any say in the matter – Daniel Beckett would far, far away from them all.

Chapter 14

When Katherine opened her eyes, she was once again in their meadow, but Jon was no where to be seen. It was strange, but the meadow seemed diminished somehow – the colors weren’t as bright – the birdsongs
less numerous. It seemed smaller – less complete.

She felt a stab of panic. If she lost her connection with this place, would she lose her connection to Jon as well?

“Jon? Jon!” He wasn’t here. Where was he?

She turned to run toward the mouth of the pearly tunnel, but a hand caught her wrist and spun her back around into a strong pair of arms.

“You frightened me half to death,” she told him, embracing him tightly. She couldn’t lose him now – not when she was just starting to believe he might be real.

“What’s the matter? Did you miss me?” he whispered, his lips against her ear.

She drew away from him, her need for knowledge for once outweighing the euphoria she felt in his presence. “I need to talk to you. It’s important.”

His blue eyes narrowed. “You seem upset. Is something wrong?”

“I need your help.”

“As always, you know I’ll help you in any way I can.”

She did know that – she felt it to the core of her being, along with the spreading warmth of his presence at the back of her mind. Each time they met in this place, she felt closer to him – as if when she left, she took more of him away with her somehow. What she wanted most now was to help him.

“How long have you been here?” she asked.

He frowned. “I . . . I’m not sure.”

She shook her head. “It is hard to mark time in this place, but there has to be a way we can figure it out.” With no clocks, calendars or even a sense of day and night to go by, how could she help him to remember?

“Were you here before me?”

He nodded without hesitation. “Yes.”

“For a long time?”

His eyes seemed to go far away for a moment. “Yes. I was alone here for what seemed like a long time – months or at least weeks.” His gaze came back to her, and he raised his hand to touch her cheek. “When you came, I thought you might be a dream, but beautiful women in rose colored gowns don’t often pop into my dreams.”

A chill ran down her spine. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be in this place alone. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found you here.”

That haunted look that he sometimes got came in his eyes again. “Before you came, things were not quite so pleasant. I spent more time in the dark places.”

She remembered glimpsing some of those dark places – endless seas of sand, fire and death. “Jon, do you remember your life before here?”

His blue eyes reflected puzzlement. “Before here?”

Her throat tightened. So much hinged on his answers. “Yes, a different place – before our meadow – before the dark places even? Do you remember having a life outside this place – a life with other people in

She looked again at his clothes. She had arrived in the Nexus in what she’d last been wearing in the real world. Perhaps his clothes would offer them a clue.

Jon wore an olive green coverall with oddly blurred colored patches. She knew this was significant somehow, but devil if she knew how.

His eyes had gone away again, and she could see that he was trying very hard to answer her question. He stayed still a long time before he let his breath out a frustrated sigh.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to remember anything before being here.”

She smiled. “It’s all right. Maybe in time. I’ve still got a few holes in my own memory – perhaps we can fill them in together.”

“But you’re disappointed,” he said, and he said it as a statement of fact. She could feel his disappointment, and knew he could feel her’s as well, so there was no point in lying. They were joined in a way that made it impossible to lie – not even to protect, and that connection seemed to be growing stronger by the day.

“Yes. I just had a feeling my doctor was lying to me. I was hoping you could help me prove it.”

“Why would your doctor lie to you? It’s not exactly in keeping with his Hippocratic Oath,” he added dryly.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” she said, setting her jaw. She was tired of being pushed around and treated like an invalid baby.

“Now don’t you go getting yourself into trouble,” he told her, pulling into the circle of his arms again.

“I’d like to get into some trouble,” she commented. “I’m exceedingly tired of having people lie to me. Everyone seems to be keeping secrets these days – it’s like they all joined some type of club while I was here.”

“Is Daniel on that list?” he asked mildly.

Katherine looked up into those mischievous blue eyes. “At the moment, Victoria and Doctor Grimes are running neck and neck, but Daniel is a close second.”

He grinned. “You’ll forgive me if I hope he moves to the head of the class?”

She laughed. “You don’t much care for him, do you?” She asked, knowing the answer even before he voiced it.

“Honestly? No.”

She laid her head against his chest again. “I so wish . . .”

“What?” he whispered.

She shook her head. “Nothing. There’s no sense in wishing for the impossible.”

“In this place, nothing is impossible, my Katherine,” he told her.

A cold wind swept through the meadow, ruffling her hair and she drew back to look forbiddingly up at the sky. The last time a wind had blown through this place, it had turned into a tornado that had sucked her away, but there was no vortex circling above her head.

The feel of this place had definitely changed. She looked up at Jon. “Does the meadow seem different to you?”

Katherine was convinced that by some miracle, she was still connected to the Nexus, and to Jon within it, but she was afraid that connection was slipping away. What would she do if she lost him?

His eyes roved their surroundings. “I didn’t notice until now, but it does seem smaller.”

“Have you noticed any other changes?”

“I’m not sure. I’m afraid I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to this place since you’ve been gone – my thoughts have mostly been with you. I guess you might say it seems diminished somehow, but I attributed that to your loss.”

Now she was confused. If she was losing her connection to the Nexus, it would make sense for the meadow to seem diminished in her eyes, but if, as she suspected, Jon was still within the Nexus, he shouldn’t be aware of these changes. Things should have remained the same for him, and the connection they shared between the two of them should be growing dimmer, but it only seemed to be strengthening.

She laid her head back upon his shoulder. “I don’t understand any of this. Just when I think I have something figured out, everything changes.”

He hugged her close against him. “You’ll figure it out, Katherine. I know you will.”

To her, it felt as if he was counting on it. She hoped fervently that his faith was not misplaced.