A/N: I just couldn’t wait to share this chapter, so I’ve uploaded it a few days earlier than scheduled as a gift to my friends, readers, and followers for this holiday season. Enjoy! 😉
Dilemma at the Doorstep
The pair of golden eyes widened in recognition then changed to desperation.
“Fred!” Electra’s brother said. “You believe me, right?”
“Louis,” Fred said, stunned.
“You have to believe me.” Louis Roucan shook him by the shoulders. “You’ve got to. Electra’s alive!”
Fred looked to James and Paolo for an explanation. Both shook their heads.
“I have proof,” Louis continued. “It’s all here.” He pointed at his temple. “I saw her in my dreams. She’s alive.” Faith shone in Louis’s eyes that Fred was almost convinced that he was telling the truth.
“But you told me Mr. Roucan had her body returned to the forest.” Fred remembered the visit in the hospital years ago. Louis had been miserable when he recounted how Electra was secretly retrieved from the morgue. There would be no more reminders of the girl who lived in the underground forest for Mr. Roucan had burned the house to the ground along with her body.
“It was all a lie,” Louis said.
Fred exchanged looks with the other men. They nodded and went inside. Alone with Louis, Fred took him to the bench and they sat.
“What do you mean?” Fred asked.
“The corpse had Electra’s face but it wasn’t her. I know that now,” Louis had calmed after sensing Fred’s willingness to listen.
“Is it because of the dream?”
“I thought you lost your gift?”
Louis was born with the Sight. He couldn’t see ghosts but predicted the future. One of the setbacks was his incapability to predict when the event would happen. James had informed Fred that Louis could no longer see the future after Electra died.
“I didn’t. The medications suppressed it,” Louis said. “My Sight slowly came back after I stopped drinking that quack’s prescription.”
Louis nodded and said: “I haven’t told anyone about it ever since.” His eyes darted to their surroundings. Suddenly, he went rigid, “Who’s that?”
Fred followed Louis’s line of sight and saw Tony speaking on the phone.
“That’s my chauffeur,” Fred said.
“How long has he worked for you?”
“Since I arrived in the Mysts.”
“Have you made a background check on him?”
“No. A friend made the necessary arrangements for my stay.”
“He could be a spy,” Louis muttered darkly to himself, his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“I assure you he’s not.” Fred couldn’t believe how much his friend had changed. What happened to the kind and innocent boy he knew?
“You don’t know what father is capable of.” A mixture of anger and fear crept in Louis’s face.
As a matter of fact, I do, Fred thought. He knew what the old man had done in the past. Mr. Roucan had raised Victoria, a clone as a substitute for his reclusive daughter; faked the clone’s cause of death; and hid Electra’s existence until the very end. He had enough influence to fool everyone into thinking that his family was normal.
“I’ll talk to you again.” Louis stood up.
“Where will I find you?” Fred asked. His gaze drifted to Louis’s unkempt hair, hollow cheeks, and bloodshot eyes. Was someone after him? Fred worried that he was unstable and needed help.
“I’ll find you.” Louis put his hood up, hunched forward, pushed his hands deep into his pockets and crossed the street. His head moved from side to side, ever watchful. Then, he took the street to his right.
After a while, Fred got up, went in and caught James, Diana, and Paolo huddled in the living room. They were having a hushed conversation until they heard the door slick shut. Paolo looked behind Fred.
“Where’s Louis?” Paolo asked, puzzled to find Fred alone.
“He took off,” Fred replied.
“Why did you let him go?” I’ve already called Ana to bring him back.”
Ana, Louis’s girlfriend, had been the caller who had unintentionally caused Paolo’s girlfriend to suspect him of cheating. Paolo had agreed to help Ana after she cleared his name.
“I think Louis knew that you called,” Fred said.
“You believe him?” James asked.
“Let’s just say I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt,” Fred said. He wouldn’t betray Louis’s trust.
Again, another secret. Fred wondered how much more of them he would have to keep.
“Did he say where he’s going or staying?” Paolo asked.
“Okay. So, what did you talk about?”
“Just the dream he had of her.” Fred paused as Paolo’s other question sank in. “You asked where he’s staying. Did Louis run away?”
“Ana called me,” Paolo explained. “Louis disappeared after he had a huge row with his father. The whole mansion had been in an uproar ever since they found a letter in his room. It said that he renounced the Roucan name and would never come back. Ana only knew what had happened after she spoke with one of the household staff a week ago.”
“If Louis doesn’t return soon, Mr. Roucan might change tactics,” James said.
“Mr. Roucan’s willing to make it public?”
“Louis is his only son and heir. With the right words people would see him as a worried parent searching for a very troubled son.”
“What’s your opinion on Louis?” Fred asked James.
James paused. He knew what Fred meant. Should I tell him? he thought. Louis’s visit could bring Mr. Roucan into their lives again – if the old man got hold of information that his son had come here.
“I think it would be best not to get involved,” James said eventually. “Louis isn’t the same person we met years ago. Something’s off about him.” He could still sense his emotions churning from the pent up loneliness, helplessness and rage that came from Louis’s core. He had stopped being a child after Victoria’s and Electra’s death. “How can we be sure that his dream isn’t just a memory or longing for his sister?”
Fred bowed his head, neither agreeing nor disagreeing.
“What if Louis is telling the truth?” Paolo interjected. “What if Electra’s alive? Shouldn’t we help him?”
Sympathy leaked from Paolo. James felt even more – his and his friend’s, but he couldn’t afford to take risks when he has a family to care for. Diana, who had been silent beside him, slipped her hand in his.
“It’s none of our business,” James replied
“It is when someone asks for our help,” Paolo returned. “Fred, say something, will you?”
“He’s right. Louis wouldn’t have come here if he thought we couldn’t help,” Fred said.
James stared at them in disbelief. Have they gone mad? Haven’t they realized that the Roucans bring nothing but trouble in their lives?
“Fine. Do what you want,” James said curtly. “Just leave me out of this.” Quietly, he left the room and climbed the stairs.
“What the matter with him?” Paolo asked, not bothering to check if James was within earshot.
“He’s just a little rattled about what happened earlier,” Diana said apologetically. “He’s not used to stressful environments. Under different circumstances, James would have agreed.”
Paolo looked about ready to say something inappropriate that Fred interrupted, “I’m sure that that’s the case.” But, in truth, he had been taken aback with James’s adamant refusal and especially his anger.
Diana gratefully smiled at Fred. Her gaze wandered to the staircase, her thoughts on James. Her husband avoided emotionally charged situations when he could. It was the burden of being born an empath. Still, James would never turn away a friend in need, even ones who suddenly reappear after years of silence, such as Fred.
This Louis somehow tied Fred and James together – unlike the friendship her husband has with Paolo and Michael.
Shortly, Paolo and Fred left. Diana headed to where her husband was hiding. The curtains in their bedroom had been drawn back. James and their son were strikingly white against the light. The child David in his arms looked like an angel with sunlight making a halo out of the boy’s hair. She was relieved to find him soundly asleep. In his wakeful moments, Diana couldn’t help notice his sensitivity to certain situations. When one of them was cross, David was also upset. James’s abilities manifested at five. She had expected their son to inherit his father’s gift. But has it woken at such a tender age?
“You’re awfully quiet today,” James commented. He sat on the bed and laid the baby on the bed.
“What are you afraid of, James?” Diana asked and settled on the other side of the baby.
James rested his hand on the sleeping child and took hers with the other.
“Oh, James.” Diana squeezed his hand in understanding.
Though frightened of the possibility of a confrontation with Mr. Roucan, he wanted to help Louis, too. First, he would have to find the man who disappeared after locating Electra’s body in the morgue.
That man would definitely know. And if Electra is alive, what happens next?
“You’ve changed your mind,” Diana said, noting her husband’s faraway look.
James sighed heavily. The baby’s forehead wrinkled then smoothened as if he sensed his father’s worries. His eyes stayed close though. Perhaps the little one is just dreaming.
“I don’t know what I should do,” James said. He raked his fingers in his hair, freeing strands of it from his ponytail.
She reached out and tucked it behind his ear. Diana cupped his cheek and said: “Just do what you think is right, James. We’re here for you. Me and David.”
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: After everything James had said, it looks like he wouldn’t be able to just sit back and watch. Would he be able to find the man he’s looking for?
And…another sentimental moment for James and Diana. 🙂
If you have suggestions, requests or simply have an opinion, please leave a comment. Comments and votes are welcome and much appreciated. 🙂
If you liked the story, please feel free to share it with your friends.
Thank you and Happy New Year! 😉