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Subject: Chapter 225 - Part 2 (16 and above) (end of chapter 225)

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Date Posted: Monday, February 27, 07:12:14am
In reply to: Katherine Gilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am

He looked back over to his partner apologetically before gazing at his guest once more--and he noticed something about her this time he hadn't before. She wasn't the blasť, confident woman he had imagined. In the back of her eyes, there was a sadness, a terror--both emotions seemingly infinite; his perusal moved down. And the hand which held the cigarette was shaking just slightly; he closed his eyes, sorry to his soul. He had just done something which was very wrong.

The eyes he opened were more honest, very sad--his soul upbraiding him for his cruelty. Never before in his life had he been so very rude to a woman; even with Madeline, he always showed the most polite concern. Here before him was a person who had been wronged more than once--who was currently being controlled by a monster; the sigh was quiet. It wasn't fair that she should have to be treated in the way he just had.

He wasn't proud of his actions, then, disliked himself for what he had done. He had never been so unchivalrous before. Whatever his lack of use for women in the bedroom--perhaps *because* of this, very few heterosexual men he had ever known having any real respect for the gender as a whole--he had always treated them with respect. He almost snorted--although he didn't find the slip at all amusing. Now, with a woman who so needed sympathy, he had gone out of his way to hurt her. It wasn't kind of him at all.

Helmut was a man who tended to pride himself on his sense of justice--none of it making the situation any easier. Even worse, he now understood from Rene where Anna's debts had originated--none of them ever her fault. Her father had died owing large sums in gambling losses to some less-than-respectable businessmen--the kind who were always behind any games of chance. When her mother had committed suicide soon after his death, she alone had been left to bear the burden--and the men her father owed money to weren't the sort to allow a pretty 18-year-old to go to waste.

His heart sank further, as he thought into the facts before him, into where his idiotic jealousy had led him. He had further insulted a woman who had borne nothing but insult for most of her life. That she might not--as far as he could obtain from Rene and general rumor--have had to go so far as to work the streets meant nothing. She had become many a rich man's plaything since then--and had found herself in bed with many of the city's main stars for the price of a meal--all possible profits from such a life funneled immediately into the ever-increasing debt she had never incurred to begin with. Now, all she was left with was a, false, tough exterior and a gold cigarette lighter from the one man she had loved--a man who could, by his very nature, never love her in return. Something within the banker seemed to twist. It was very cruel of him not to have understood it all before.

He tried to change his approach, then, his voice and eyes softer, as he revised his question. "Other than the debts, what is it you need to get away from him?" He would have to find a way to deal with Bauer's threats on his own.

He heard Rene let out a sigh beside him, his relief at the decreasing tension clear. Maybe that was enough. Yet again, he alone was responsible for the happiness of so many. Anna, apparently, was just another to add to his ever-increasing flock.

He was watching her, as his more tender tone brought a hint of tears to her eyes, her heart clenching at the oddity of ever being treated as though she were human; she blinked quickly, ridding herself of them--weaknesses always a danger. Life had taught her that, all too often and well.

She tried to focus in on the offer he was making, knowing that he must be sincere. Rene wasn't stopping him; her eyes moved to the man she still so thoroughly loved. He was the one person she would ever, entirely trust.

It took her a second, but her look did return to the banker, trying to focus on what he had asked; it wasn't like she hadn't pondered it before--often did, in the colder hours of the night. Finally, she put out her cigarette, gaze on the floor, building up the will to speak. "I want to join the church."

This was a shock, to both of the men--probably would be for anyone who knew the woman's past. Rene's "An-na," especially, seemed to leave a few, tender scars in its passing. Still, she had thought this over. The church was the one place where she might be safe--although her suspicious nature lingered. But even if the priests wanted her, she knew damn well how to stay away from men.

Her eyes met the men's near her, waiting for their answer--and they turned away long enough to meet each other's gaze, understanding. Once the debts were taken care of, the men who truly owned her would have nothing left to settle. And they were the religious sort, as well--or felt themselves to be--would have no reason to go against such authority. Once in a convent, she could move away from Hollywood, could be placed somewhere where no one knew her past; it could work. She might always be seen as a jezebel--but many a sinful woman had shed her past in her faith.

They looked back to her, nodding, only having one more, essential question--a negative answer creating some problems, or, at least, some delays. To Helmut's surprise, it was Rene who asked it. "Are you Catholic?" But he supposed he shouldn't be shocked by the man's ignorance on this point--whatever the pair's previous marriage. Religion wasn't something most people worried about, in this town.

The woman just smiled, knowing Rene would understand, however little they had discussed such things. "I was baptized 'Maria Margaretta Guerner.' I chose 'Anna' at my confirmation." She shrugged. "I like it better."

Both the men were smiling now. Difficult as the prospect still was, this *could* work. And it gave them some sort of peace to know both that they would help this woman--and that they would destroy Bauer's main link to them in the process.

"Good." This left only one issue, Anna's breath deep, as she plunged into it--remembering the risk she had taken earlier, her hand opening her purse, finding the paper she wanted. "Then, there's only this." She pulled it out, holding it toward them. "You need protection from Bauer." Her gaze burned, remembering every disgusting detail she knew of the man. "This is it."

The men exchanged looks before rising to take it from her--their eyes meeting a moment after they had examined it, the smiles beginning. Yes--this might do it. They gazed back at Anna gratefully. Soon, all of them might be safe from Bauer--and that would mean one less enemy to have to fight.

Extra note: I'm not Catholic, so I apologize for any mistakes here, but I believe that, when adolescents reach the age for confirmation in the church, they choose a new name for themselves--a saint's name. As the New Catholic Dictionary (you can find a link for it at www.catholic-forum.com) describes it, "The name of a saint, chosen by the person to be confirmed and imposed by the bishop in Confirmation. Added to the Christian name, it gives the person confirmed a heavenly patron whom he should endeavor to imitate." Anna went for Saint Anne, who, appropriately for Anna, is apparently the patron saint of both lost articles and poverty.

[End of Part 225]

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Subject Author Date
chapter 225skMonday, February 27, 01:50:40pm
  • {{{{sk}}}} -- KatherineG., Thursday, March 02, 08:44:50am

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