|Subject: Chapter 314 - Part 2 (end of chapter 314)
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Date Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 07:20:35am
In reply to:
's message, "Chapter 307 - Part 1 (16 and above)" on Monday, October 22, 07:10:11am
Adrian heard the small gasp the woman let out, knew that she wasn't exclaiming over any sort of writing utensil. "What is it, dear?" she asked again. But she was really beginning to wonder whether she shouldn't worry for the girl much more strongly now.
This might well have been the case, Nikita's discovery nothing she would have imagined. She had never been in this drawer before, only now dimly remembered that Michael had once hidden a letter from her in it--an unusual act, given his typical openness with her. But now she was beginning to see why he had done it--and she was worrying all the more frantically for that.
Her obvious fear brought her grandmother over to her at last, her hand soft against Nikita's back--but the nerve-wracked woman only dimly noticed. What she was aware of were the letters and postcards in front of her, dozens of them. As well as the handwritten reports in them of how some woman and her family were doing, there were pictures; Nikita's eyes teared, the terror her husband's silence had caused taking seed, forcing her into a thousand other fears. Before this, she had thought that she knew about all the important, previous women in Michael's life; she turned one of the letters over carefully, reading one of its lines: "I still remember our nights together so fondly. I don't think you know how much they meant to me." She had thought that only she wrote to him like that--felt the sting of her shock all the more deeply, the ache starting to physically wrack her. When she looked back to one of the photos, her eyes went to the woman's children--trying to make out a resemblance. But, even with the children's dark hair, they bore little similarity to either Michael or the son she knew about.
This fact should have comforted her, should have dispelled the nascent fears--but she lived too deep in terror these days to be able to find logic easy anymore. It was fortunate, then, that her grandmother was here beside her, letting out a small sound of surprise; that alone was unusual, coming from her. "Oh, it's Lisa." She picked up a photo, looking at it in the light. "She dyed her hair, of course, but that's no surprise." Her gaze found her granddaughter, seeming surprised. "You didn't know?"
It was a terrible sort of question, made Nikita choke back the tears--forming a picture all on her own. "No," she managed huskily. While she had long ago accepted that her husband had a son from a youthful fling--could undoubtedly have accepted the existence of other children, had he told her about them--it was the fact that he had hidden this secret which hurt most of all.
It was this truth, and the multiple anxieties which rose from it, which made the discovery so terrible. In an instant, her mind jumped to a thousand conclusions: that Michael had been more in love with this Lisa than anyone else; that he had had many secret children with her; that, maybe, he had even run off to be with her, instead of heading back to the RCAF. Oh, Lord. Her heart pounded heavily. Maybe *she* was the other woman. Maybe all of their time together had only been a lie. Maybe . . .
Her thoughts were chaotic--slightly crazy, in fact--but that wasn't a surprise, given the terror her husband's silence had forced her into. Her mind lived now in a constant welter of nightmare images. She found it all-too-easy to imagine the worst of outcomes to every discovery she might make.
Adrian looked at her, shaking her head--wishing that she could have prevented this terrible state the girl was in somehow--but there was no way to change the past. She explained, instead, holding up the photo. "This is Lisa LaFanne." There was a small shrug. "That was her screen name, at least."
This alone should have been her explanation--but it wasn't enough, in Nikita's current state. Still, old memories did begin to flood back to the tortured woman, as this explanation continued. "I know you never met her. She was married to David Fanning." The younger woman's eyes widened, much more beginning to return to her. "Michael helped her escape."
There was certainly no reason to question *why* the woman had needed rescuing--Nikita's one, terrible run-in with Fanning scarring her still. But this didn't change what she had just been told, her look suspicious. "No. She's dead. She committed suicide." Adrian's look was steady, waiting. "They found her body."
Such distraction and terror didn't last as long as they might, however; it was after she said this that she remembered. Michael had told her that the actress's body *hadn't* been found, that she had presumably been washed away with the currents of the Los Angeles River. At the time, Nikita had been certain that he was suggesting that Fanning had had something to do with it, but now . . .
There was more to the memories than this, of course; the top letter in the drawer brought them back, her eyes wandering over it. Michael had gotten the missive around Christmas, had stashed it in the drawer--telling her that she could look at it, if she wanted; her gaze wandered, mind turning. But why tell her that the woman was dead? Her head shook, soul reeling. No. It just didn't make any sense at all.
Adrian's sigh was silent, as she watched the girl, still fearing for her. She did lead her on to the conclusion she now needed, though, the only obvious one. "They never found a body, because there wasn't one to find. Michael and Rene helped her, of course." She focused back on the photo again, a slight smile on her lips. "This is evidently her thank you."
It took a moment, Nikita looking the messages over--gazing at the smiling woman there, her husband and children. They all seemed so normal, didn't look like the family of a Hollywood star; a small smile of her own finally emerged. But she supposed that happiness like that could only be caused by getting very far away from this town.
There was only one question left, her love for her husband having grown even further in just these last few minutes--all doubts discarded completely. "Why did he lie to me?" And yet, she thought, he hadn't entirely. He had told her the rumors which Hollywood told--what others had said of Lisa's death. He had told her to look in the drawer herself--and she would have, if she hadn't been distracted by yet more horror soon thereafter. Still, why wouldn't he just tell her? Her gaze caught her grandmother's again. He was usually much more open with her than that.
This truth alone showed how much influence Nikita had over the man, the actor typically anything but forthcoming; Adrian understood, smiling. "He had made a promise to her, of course." She didn't need to know the details of the man's action to understand that. Michael was, always, a man of his word. And if he had promised to keep Lisa's secret, it would have taken more than even his immense love for his wife to have actually spoken it aloud.
The actor's wife saw this now, adored him all the more for the truth, nodding quietly--her gaze on the photos, as the amazement grew. It seemed that her husband had brought joy to so many women, in one way or another. Whether it was to that unknown mass of faces who watched him on the screen--never knowing the real man for a second--or to those few, privileged souls who had won his trust, he had made all of them better for having been near.
This, of course, was exactly Michael's assessment of his wife, as well--but she didn't know it. She was simply appreciating him all the more, released temporarily from the terror she had been living in for well over a month. But that was when her whole life changed once again.
She had been doing the impossible, had actually been smiling, when she finally heard the dreaded footsteps near the door; her heart nearly stopped, breath held entirely--was unaccountably relieved when the sounds finally moved away without a knock. But that still meant that the mail was here--and, with it, another day's worth of terror would begin.
She had no idea how true this would be of this day in particular, Fredericks coming out of the kitchen to check the post by sheer instinct. She didn't even realize that she was trembling, until he came back in to hand her a letter--but it was to her growing horror to see that it wasn't from her husband.
There were, of course, other people who might have written her whose messages she could have withstood. Instead of any of these, she found herself holding one from someone else in Michael's unit--even recognized the name. It was from Elkins, the man her husband had said was obsessed with her; her heart nearly stopped. But she wasn't at all convinced that this was simply fan mail.
How the man had gotten her address at all she didn't question--too terrified of the possible answer; her gaze met her grandmother's for only a moment, before she murmured an, "Excuse me," heading quickly to her bedroom. If this contained the news she had been fearing for so long, she didn't want to read it in front of anyone else. She was more than capable of falling apart, all on her own.
Adrian was watching her worriedly but let her go--Nikita not even noticing, tearing into the envelope, as she went. She only just managed to sit on the bed--her whole body feeling different, impossible to be comfortable, even had the situation allowed it--before starting to read. But what she found in the first paragraph made her immediately lose focus on everything else. It read:
Dear Mrs. Samuelle,
I hope this letter manages to reach you. I've had to steal the address from one of Michael's letters and use a friend to mail it, since the RCAF doesn't want you to know what I'm about to tell you. I'm sorry to be the one to say it, but I think you have a right to know. Your husband's plane was lost during a mission two weeks ago. At the moment, no one knows whether he's alive or dead.
This was as far as she could go, the news making her let out a small shriek of horror--made all the worse by the fact that she then doubled over in physical pain. When her grandmother and her two, kind helpers rushed into the room a few seconds after that, they found her with one hand on her abdomen, the other crushing the letter tightly in her grip; her eyes were so unfocused that she seemed to have finally gone entirely mad, her half-cries, half-sobs of "His plane . . . He's gone," making all of them terrified for her. But all they could do was spring into action and try their best to get her through.
This was exactly what they did--although Nikita was mentally present for none of it. Somewhere in her head there was her grandmother's murmur of, "Nikita, your water's broken. Carl, help me get her to the car." Someone else seemed to pry the paper out of her clenched fist before a soft cry of astonishment followed it. Serious looks were apparently exchanged. But all of it could have been happening on another planet, for all the woman was aware. The only thing which mattered was the man she had lost.
The worried friends near her soon helped shuffle her off toward Adrian's car and then toward the hospital, as her child decided--at this most inopportune of moments--to make his debut to the world. Still, for Nikita, there was only one thought. Her Michael was gone. And nothing which could ever happen after that held any real meaning at all.
Extra note: I know that I have Nikita's water breaking before she goes fully into labor here; I'm aware that this is rare. Still, this is just the course this tale wanted to take. Sorry if it doesn't fit in with anyone's more normal experiences.
[End of Part 314]
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