He had gone over the plan in detail once again.
Pressing his hands against the cold surface of the window, he watched the rain pour down onto the busy street five storeys below.
It had taken him more than a year to get back on his feet and make the necessary changes. He had only returned to the city after making sure that it was safe to do so.
Grinning he turned around, reaching for the brandy he had just put down on the desk. He inhaled its aroma before sipping it.
The alcohol warmed his belly and spread throughout his veins.
It had been a rough year that had taken its toll on him.
It was worth every sacrifice and now was the perfect time.
He would get his revenge on Kathryn Janeway.
When the phone suddenly rang it was a welcome interruption.
"Hello," Janeway answered in her trademark husky voice.
"Hello, darling," her mother said, sounding happy. "I know it’s late but I have some news that just couldn’t wait."
The Stellar Corporation CEO straightened in her chair behind the desk and rubbed her eyes.
"No problem, Mother. I’m up as you can tell, working late as usual."
"You’re in the office? I’m sure I dialled …"
"No, I’m in the pent house study. Seven is asleep though. She was tired after the trip back from Russia."
"Is she all right?" Gretchen sounded concerned.
"Yes, she’s fine, just tired that’s all. Now, tell me the news. The suspense is killing me."
There was a slight pause.
"Phoebe is moving to your neck of the woods."
Janeway got up from her chair.
"She’s leaving Indiana?" she blurted out. "But she’s always claimed that she rather die than live in a big city!"
"I know and it’s not permanent. Your city hall has commissioned her to do three large murals and it would not be practical for her to commute."
"Does she need a place to stay? She can have the spare room," Janeway offered, cringing a bit when it came to her feisty younger sister.
Phoebe was an artist and only lately had the two women begun to get along. A series of misunderstandings and preconceived ideas had kept the sisters apart for a long time. Now, Janeway and Phoebe were approaching each other with trepidation. Janeway knew she had Seven to thank for this since her fiancée had arranged a family get together for Christmas without informing her. Several issues had been brought out into the light and a much needed healing had begun between Janeway and her closest relatives.
"No, she’ll have a flat close to city hall, I think," her mother now said. "I just wanted to let you know because I’m sure that once Phoebe gets going she won’t remember to eat and certainly not remember to communicate with any of us."
Janeway knew this was true.
"Thanks for telling me, Mother. I think this is great. She deserves this break. Seven will be thrilled; she’s very fond of Phoebe."
The tall blonde had corresponded frequently with the dynamic artist. The two of them were very different but shared a mutual respect for each other that had turned into a warm friendship. Janeway knew that her fiancée had more in common with her sister than she did herself.
"I’m glad you interrupted me," the CEO added and yawned discreetly. "It’s time for me to call it quits. I sat down to go over some contracts and …"
"Lost track of time," her mother filled in.
"You know me too well."
"You’re your father’s daughter, dear."
The CEO knew her mother was right. Edward Janeway had worked endless hours sometimes, completely losing track of time and arriving home in the middle of the night, surprised that it was dark out and everyone was asleep.
She bid her mother goodnight and the rose from the chair. Turning off the light she left her laptop on to download the large presentation she left the study.
Janeway entered the bedroom she shared with Seven and walked over to the bed. Her fiancée was asleep, blonde hair cascading over the pillow and her naked shoulders visible above the bedcovers.
The soft light from the lamp cast a golden glow over her perfect alabaster skin, rendering it satiny smooth glow that made Janeway reach out her hand. Changing her mind, not wanting to wake up the beautiful woman in the bed, the CEO pivoted and went into the bathroom.
Undressing, she put her slacks and silk shirt in the hamper. Divesting herself of her expensive lingerie she stepped into the shower. She would have preferred a bath but it would have taken too long and been too noisy to fill up the large Jacuzzi.
Drying off she glanced into the mirror. She looked tired, she judged. Seven had given her inquisitive looks when Janeway had picked her up at the airport but not said anything. The auburn haired woman regretted not joining Seven when the young woman had decided on an early night.
Perhaps she was long overdue with for break. The Christmas break had been wonderful but the effect of the restful vacation out on Raven’s Island would not last forever. She had made a vow to her fiancée that they would go out there more often and now was a good a time as any to make good on that promise.
She closed the door and started the hairdryer. Quickly drying the rich auburn tresses she then snuck into bed without bothering to put a nightgown on. She snuggled up to Seven, inhaling the younger woman’s enticing scent as the blonde moved in her sleep, wrapping a slender arm around the CEO.
Janeway closed her eyes, feeling that she was where she belonged.
Julia Williams looked at the older woman across the table from her.
"I can’t believe you just said that," she managed.
Beatrice Williams pressed her lips tighter together.
"You had to hear it from someone," she huffed. "You’re about to make the biggest mistake in your life and everyone else is acting like it’s nothing."
"By that, I take it you mean my father."
"Yes, he most of all. At least you sisters see it from my point of view."
Of course. Her sisters were carbon copies of their mother. They shared her views, priorities and values in life, even their husbands all fit into the moulds as.
"If this is the only reason for your trip here, you’re wasting your time," Julia hissed, trying to fight the unexpected tears forming behind her eyelids. "I’m in love with Marion; we live together and are creating a very nice home for ourselves."
"You’re career will come to a screeching halt when the firm finds out."
Julia was a well renowned interior designer, working for Bennett & La Cour for several years. She had recently moved to the mother company in the large city where Marion lived. Marion McDunn held the position of sales director at Stellar Ltd. The tall brunette was the love of her life and the reason for this conversation with her mother.
"I’m successful and very happy at the head office, Mother," Julia replied, feeling that she was running out of patience. "Ever since I moved here, things have been going very well. I’m up for a raise soon and …"
"What if they find out?" her mother hissed. "Then you will only dream of raises and promotions."
"Funny you should say that," the interior designer stated. Mrs Williams was a strong advocate for the more conventional stay-at-home-moms that she had been. Julia’s sisters had both followed in their mother’s footsteps. Julia respected their decision and choices. Why could they not do the same for her? "I would think that any setback in my career would please you."
"Not when it entails a scandal!"
Julia got up, her body restless as her mother’s voice pierced her eardrums.
"What scandal are we talking about? Does the fact that I’m happy, in an established relationship provide a little too much gossip for your bridge ladies at the club?"
The older woman leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms in front of her, her lips pressed together in an ugly way.
"You’re breaking your father’s heart and you care to make smart remarks about it. You’re showing such callousness towards your own family, it’s staggering. When I think of all the years I sacrificed being home taking care of you girls …"
"I happen to speak to Daddy every week," Julia lashed out, "and he’s fine with how I choose to live my life. The only reason he hasn’t told you is that he’d never hear the end of it. As for your sacrifice, Mother, I wouldn’t brag about it too much. My sisters and I spent most of our time with Nanny Burns."
"Don’t you dare talk to me that way …"
"I think this is a complete waste of time, Mother. I’m sorry you came all this way for nothing."
Mrs Williams had gotten up from her chair while Julia spoke and now glanced around the almost empty restaurant.
"I’m not about to let you throw your life away because you’re in some phase," she spat.
"Stop it," Julia said, her voice tired. "I won’t even dignify that with an answer."
The smaller woman picked up her bag and swept by her daughter, not uttering another word.
Julia watched her mother storm out of the restaurant.
Her mother would never change. She knew that the possibility of Deborah Williams accepting her daughter’s choices in life was not very likely.
Of course, true to form, her mother had not even bothered to offer to pick up her part of the check. Pulling out her wallet from the leather bag beside her, Julia sighed in mock exasperation and waved the waiter over.
Walking outside and looking around for a cab, Julia felt strange. She was not sure what prompted the disturbing emotion. Deborah’s vehement voice rang in her ears.
Somehow she had a hunch that she had not heard the last from her mother yet.
Annika Hansen, known to her family and friends as Seven, stood in her office gazing out across the large city.
Her office was on the executive floor, seventy-nine storeys up. The penthouse on the eightieth floor belonged to her and Kathryn.
She was too far up to be able to see the street but knew it was busy this time of day.
"A penny for them?" a throaty, beloved voice said from behind.
"Kathryn," the blonde said and glanced over her shoulder.
Her fiancée wore her hair up in a loose bun with small tresses falling around her cheekbones. Dressed in a navy blue trouser suit over an ivory sleeveless blouse and with discreet jewellery Kathryn Janeway looked every bit the part of a successful CEO for a multibillion conglomerate.
"You looked so far away, darling," the auburn haired woman said and walked up to Seven. "Are you homesick?"
Yes! Not wanting to let on just how much, Seven tried to shrug casually.
"Perhaps a little," she agreed. "Spring is almost here and I …"
She broke off when Kathryn gave a broad smile.
"And you’re dying to go out to Raven’s Island and get those alabaster hands dirty in the garden," the CEO claimed.
Seven blushed faintly.
"You know me," she allowed. "I miss it this time of year."
"I know you do. You miss it every summer, fall and winter too."
Not sure if Kathryn was being facetious, Seven clasped her hands behind her back, as was her way when she felt unsure or awkward.
"I’m only joking," the older woman smiled. "I think it’s long overdue for us to go out there to make sure everything is well with the house and the grounds."
Seven’s heart skipped a beat. She was not sure if it was the fact that she would see her childhood home soon or the fact that she would have Kathryn to herself for days that made her feel so happy.
Wrapping her arms around the other woman, she hugged her tight.
"Oh, Kathryn," she murmured. "I look forward to it. When can we go?"
"I thought this Friday, darling. We’ll have a few days to pack and finish up some projects and I thought we should clear our calendars so we can stay at least a week."
"A whole week? Are you sure you can take that much time off?" Seven asked, feeling incredulous.
"Now, don’t faint or anything, but I’ve missed the peace and quite there too."
The blonde’s eyes grew wide.
"You’ve missed Raven’s Island?" she asked, amazed.
"Well, perhaps I really missed the Seven I have all to myself when we’re out there. You become nature-girl and no matter how sexy and beautiful you are dressed like this," the CEO gestured towards Seven’s plum power suite, "I adore when you look like the first time I saw you."
The younger woman chuckled quietly. She had been a true nature-girl when she had first applied for a job at Stellar Ltd. Wearing simple clothes she had walked right onto Kathryn’s executive floor and into her bed. Losing her heart instantly to the charismatic leader it had taken some convincing before she realised that Kathryn reciprocated her feelings.
"You enjoy looking at me in torn jeans and tank tops?" she asked with humorous gleam in her blue eyes.
"Not only that," the CEO agreed readily. "I like divesting you of said items."
Leaning in for a kiss, Seven brushed her full lips over her fiancées narrow ones. Kathryn opened her mouth and deepened the kiss, demonstrating without a doubt just how much she desired her partner.
"Bad timing?" a matter of fact voice said from behind.
Seven let go of Kathryn.
"Marion," she greeted warmly. "You are back too."
"Yes, I am," the sales director said. "If I had known you were reminiscing or something I would have knocked. But seeing as the door was open, I didn’t think I was impolite to just let myself in."
"Funny," Kathryn remarked and put her arm around Seven’s waist. "I read the report you emailed me yesterday. ReyVa Inc is showing great potential."
"Yes, I agree. It will be interesting to see how this develops. They are relatively new on the market but their ideas are fresh and innovative," Marion agreed. "I met with most of their head honchos but I missed the opportunity to meet with one of the major owners. Rick Reymers was still in Europe drawing up guidelines for ReyVa’s new head office in London. I think they’ve showed good business sense not going public too soon. Doing it last year was apparently just right."
"I trust your judgement on this. Well, I’m glad you’re back," Kathryn smiled. "Seven and I are going to take next week off for some much needed R&R. We’re heading towards Raven’s Island."
"Ah, it’s that time again," Marion grinned. "Well, I’m about to head home and do some damage control."
"Damage control?" Seven asked, concerned even if it was obvious that her friend was exaggerating.
"Oh, I’m not the one in the doghouse right now," the dark haired woman assured the blonde. "Julia had a surprise visit from her mother while I was gone and apparently, but not surprisingly, it didn’t go so swell."
"Is Julia all right?" Kathryn sounded concerned.
"I think so; I just need to make sure with my own eyes. Julia can be stubborn about how she’s dealing with things. She feels she has to take on her entire family on her own – I mean, when she has me!"
The CEO laughed.
"Yes, you being the born diplomat and all, Marion." The older woman snorted. "I can see how you would rub Mrs Williams in absolutely the wrong way."
"I know," Marion agreed. "Nevertheless, I’ll be heading home now. Talk to you nice ladies tomorrow."
She waved to them and was out of Seven’s office before they had a chance to utter a word.
"Tomorrow’s Wednesday," Kathryn stated, hugging the blonde tight. "If we’re efficient tomorrow we can clear our schedule, pack most of our things the day after and make an early start before rush hour Friday afternoon. That way we can be out on the island and have a fire going before it’s too late."
Seven nodded eagerly, happy beyond words about Kathryn’s suggestion.
"I look forward to this very much," she murmured against the auburn hair in front of her.
"Me too," Kathryn murmured.
More than a whole week on Raven’s Island with nothing to disturb Kathryn and herself! That would be pure bliss, Seven thought.
That would give her enough time for what she wanted to discuss with her beloved.
The man reached out and picked up the cell phone.
"Go ahead," he said in an abrupt voice after glancing at the caller ID display.
"A window of opportunity has presented itself unexpectedly," an indifferent voice stated. "I recommend that you give the go ahead for tomorrow."
He frowned, twisting the cord around his fingers.
"So soon?" he questioned. "Will everything be done according to plan if we do?"
"Yes, sir," the anonymous man assured him. "We’ve ironed out every possible scenario imaginable and a few others. We’ll be able to handle anything that comes up."
The man hesitated for a moment. He pictured the woman he hated more than anything, once his Nemesis, and the pain he would cause her and a broad smile formed on his lips. Roles would now be reversed.
Then there was the other one, the golden goddess that had almost been his …
"Do it. Report according to schedule."
He hung up.
Walking over to the open fireplace he stood motionless for a moment.
Apart from making sure that justice was served – this would be fun.
Marion opened the door to the apartment. The only source of illumination was the flickering light from a large tray of candles on the coffee table.
The sales director stopped in the doorway to the living room and took in the sight of her partner sitting on the couch. Julia’s was sitting with her arms around her pulled up legs, pressing her cheek against her knees.
Marion let her coat fall onto a chair and walked over to the couch.
Her heart overflowed with love and sympathy. Sitting down next to the younger woman, she pulled her into a tight embrace, just holding the woman she loved close.
"You’re home," Julia murmured.
Marion was appalled to hear how empty the interior designer’s voice was. Usually Julia displayed an extrovert, electric personality combined with an endearing shyness that Marion found very appealing. Life with Julia was more than she ever could have hoped for.
"Has she gone home?" Marion now asked.
"I think so. She said some pretty ugly things before she left though."
Furious, but determined not to let it show, the dark haired woman held her partner tight.
"I guess it’ll take some effort on our part to convince her," she tried, keeping her voice light.
"We’re not going to," Julia said darkly. "My father has reluctantly accepted my chosen profession, the fact that I’m in love with another woman, and that I intend to stay in this city. I’m not going to waste time trying to convince my mother who’s firm belief is that I can’t do anything right."
Marion knew that even if she agreed with Julia, she couldn’t say so out loud. She did not want to badmouth the younger woman’s mother in case they did see eye to eye at one point in their life.
"Maybe she just needs more time," Marion suggested. "Just give her space and make sure you keep your distance so she can’t get to you, honey."
Julia pivoted in Marion’s arms and then hugged her close.
"She reduces me back to the powerless child I used to be, to the teenager who … I don’t know … who wanted so much, who tried to fit in but knew it was a lost cause."
Disturbed by Julia’s defeated tone of voice, Marion pulled back a little, frowning.
"You’re not that child anymore. You’re letting her get under your skin. You’re talented, strong, and you’re highly successful. You love me, don’t you?"
Julia’s eyes widened. Large tears dwelled on the young woman’s eyelashes, trembling as they clung there, refusing to fall.
"You know I do," she replied, her voice husky.
"Nothing can change that, right? You’ve stood up to your mother before and no matter what she says to you, it’s up to you if she drains you or not. Don’t let her."
"That’s why I don’t want to talk to her anymore. I don’t want to waste my time trying to change her because I can’t."
Marion’s heart bled for the torment in her partner’s voice. She knew how hard Julia had had to fight for her independence.
"Look, at least your father is warming up to the fact that you’ve found your way in life," she tried. "Focus on him. I don’t know him but from what you’ve told me, he seems somewhat more reasonable than your mother."
The obvious understatement brought a reluctant smile to Julia’s lips.
"Yes, he is," she sighed and relaxed against Marion. "He actually mentioned something about visiting us next time he’s here on business."
"Really? Well, there you go. Take that to heart instead of anything your mother says. Pretty predictable, isn’t she? She never acts out of character."
Julia laughed and one teardrop spilled over. Marion leaned in and kissed it away.
"There, honey, don’t cry."
She kissed the soft pink lips that trembled under hers. The kiss soon deepened and pressing Julia against the backrest of the couch, Marion slowly opened the younger woman’s terrycloth robe.
"Marion," Julia sighed into the kiss.
Tongues met and parted slowly, keeping the kiss light still, but with growing passion. Marion let her hands slip inside the robe, delighted to feel nothing but soft skin.
Julia had put on at least eight very becoming pounds since she moved in with her partner. The fullness of her breasts now filled Marion’s hands as she caressed them lovingly.
"Lean back, honey," Marion whispered and pulled the robe down Julia’s arms, making it impossible for her to move them.
Julia gave a soft gasp and arched her back, making the robe open up completely.
"God, you’re beautiful," the older woman breathed, letting her hands roam the pale skin. "You smell so good."
Leaning forward she captured an erect nipple into her mouth, nibbling it before flicking her tongue over it. Julia’s moans urged her on. She cupped the sensitive orbs and feasted on the nipples, switching back and forth between them, over and over.
"Marion, please …" Julia whimpered. "You’re driving me crazy."
"Am I now? Good."
Marion slid off the couch and knelt between the other woman’s thighs. Pulling Julia’s knees apart, she heard her partner inhale audibly.
"Trust me; beautiful," the sales director insisted.
Julia’s legs trembled as she complied. She locked her half closed eyes on Marion as the elegant woman let her hands slide up the inside of her thighs.
Marion smiled, guessing that she probably looked more feral than soothing now. She knew she sometimes made Julia nervous but in a way that further inflamed the younger woman’s senses.
Still dressed in her black trouser suite, Marion knew that this would make Julia feel all the more vulnerable and exposed. Nudging the slender thighs further apart she instructed her lover to hold on to her knees.
Julia looked like she wanted to object but then did as she was told, blushing profusely. She could hardly reach her knees, having her arms tangled inside the robe. She managed to pull her legs up far enough to grab her knees and by doing this, spreading herself wide open.
"That’s my girl," Marion said and leaned forward.
Breathing hotly across the apex between Julia’s thighs, she felt the younger woman tremble. She parted the slick folds, caressing them as she did. Strangled sounds came out of Julia’s mouth as she obviously fought to not close her legs.
Marion kissed her way up a silken thigh. Reaching the dark patch of hair, she parted the folds more and let her tongue grace the small nubbin of nerves she unveiled. Julia whimpered, trying to free her arms from the robe.
"No, Julia, I told you to hold on to your knees," Marion said, raising her head.
"Oh, God," Julia whispered. "Marion …"
The older woman lowered her head and opened her mouth over the small nodule again. Julia began to undulate beneath her, sobbing her name over and over as she struggled to get closer to the greedy mouth.
"That’s it … come on, honey …" Marion urged Julia on, her voice reverberating against her partner’s sensitive tissues. "Let go. Just let yourself go."
"Marion … Marion …" Julia sobbed.
Instinctively Marion got up and freed her partner from the robe. She sat down on the couch again and pulled the naked woman close. Pushing her fingers down between Julia’s soaked folds she rubbed her intently, not taking her eyes of the narrow face.
"There, I’ve got you," she murmured. "I love you, Julia. Come for me."
Julia clung to her, hiding her hot face at the base of Marion’s neck. Whimpering uncontrollably she gave in.
The young woman convulsed repeatedly, murmuring and moaning softly as the orgasm shook her slender frame. Marion held her tight, her hand buried between quivering thighs.
"That’s it," she cooed. "That’s it, sweetheart."
Julia slowly seemed to descend from whatever cloud of bliss she had visited. Pressing her lips onto Marion’s neck she planted little kisses there.
"Goodness, Marion, that was …"
"Great? Unbelievable? The most amazing sex you’ve ever had?"
Julia gave a muted giggle against the skin she just kissed.
"Sure. All of the above, sweetie," she conceded.
"Feel better? Did this relax you?"
Julia withdrew with a slight frown.
"Is that why you made love to me? To soothe my nerves or something?"
Marion smiled ruefully.
"No, nothing as altruistic as all that," she confessed. "When I realised that you were naked under the robe …"
She gave Julia a sheepish grin.
The younger woman looked inquisitively at Marion for a few moments and then smiled.
"I just don’t want it to ever be for any other reason than that you want me," she said and lowered her eyes.
"Look at me, honey." Marion said, placing a finger under Julia’s chin and tipping it up. "Don’t you know I’ll always want you? Even when I’m too tired and just crash into bed, I want you. Maybe not always for the sex, but certainly always to cuddle, to feel you close. I’m just glad that me wanting you this time also seemed to relax you. Call it a fortunate coincidence."
"I love you, Marion," she whispered. "Don’t ever let go."
Marion kissed her.
Seven walked through the underground garage, approaching her pride and joy.
She gave the silver metallic BMW Z4 a loving look. Having had her driver’s licence for only four months she had finally decided on the sports car. Kathryn who shared an equally affectionate relationship with her bright red MR2 Spyder had thought it a good choice.
Seven had bought the car using her own money which had felt good in an unexpected way.
She had mentioned it to Kathryn and the older woman had credited the sensation to being a sign of true independence, "Up to now, you’ve been working hard at finding your place in the world outside Raven’s Island, darling. This is a pretty tangible symbol that you can not only support yourself, but also decide to buy a car, transport yourself anywhere you want and without having to ask anyone else, including me."
Seven tossed her suitcase into the small trunk. Getting in behind the wheel, a faint smile of pure satisfaction graced her lips. She turned the key in the ignition and started the engine. It came to life with a roar that soon became a content purr as she backed the car out.
Kathryn had had to attend an impromptu meeting on the other side of town. She had called Seven and they had decided to drive separately to the harbour and meet up at the marina where Jacob kept his fishing boat. The fisherman was a lifelong friend of hers and now also of Kathryn’s.
She drove out of the garage and navigated through the busy streets, feeling the powerful car respond to her every command.
The drive was normally less than an hour but during rush hour it took longer.
The cell phone connected to a hands-free device rang. Pressing a button on the dashboard Seven answered.
"Seven? It’s Phoebe!"
"Phoebe! So good to hear your voice. Kathryn told me the good news," the blonde smiled as she heard the energetic voice of her fiancée’s sister.
"Yes, it’s great, isn’t it? I’ve found a small apartment just a few blocks from Stellar Ltd so you can count on me showing up for free meals all the time."
Seven laughed. She liked Phoebe’s droll sense of humour and she knew that Kathryn regarded the mutual friendship with amused exasperation.
"When will you move in?"
"This weekend, actually, but it’s not really a move. I’m renting a fully furnished apartment that has everything so I just have to bring clothes and personal items. I’m planning on staying six months to begin with. I have an option to prolong the contract for another six months if I have to. Then I’m going back to Indiana."
"Will Gretchen be very lonely without you?"
"Mother? Lonely? I hardly get to see her as it is because she’s so busy. Besides, I think she’ll come and visit all of us in a few weeks."
"We would love to have her stay with us."
"Good, since the flat I’m renting is a tad on the small side."
They chatted for a few minutes longer about the work Phoebe was going to do for the city. The murals would be located in three major city-owned buildings and the theme, which had rendered Phoebe the commission, was "Children – History and Future". The artist described how she had sent in three samples that apparently had convinced the jury that she had what they wanted.
"I am happy for you, Phoebe," Seven said. "You deserve this. Your paintings are wonderful."
"I’m glad you think so, sweetie. That means a lot to me. You’ve done wonders for this family and I love you for it."
Seven blushed faintly at the praise that she found slightly exaggerated but gratifying none the less.
After exchanging niceties and planning to get together for dinner when Seven and Kathryn came back to the city, they hung up.
Seven had reached the interstate and was now making good speed. She looked forward to meeting her old friend; they always made good use of the long journeys on Jacob’s boat to Raven’s Island by catching up on what had happened since they last met.
She pushed a button on the radio and her favourite radio station began to play the soft jazz she liked so much. Smiling to herself she hummed with the music, daydreaming of the days and nights she would spend alone with her fiancée on her beloved island.
She pictured them sitting on the soft rug by the fireplace, sipping red wine and listening to nothing but the crackling fire and the wind against the windows. Seven loved how Kathryn’s auburn hair reflected the flickering light and how red highlights made it sparkle. She would bury her face in the shoulder long tresses and inhale the tantalising scent of Kathryn’s perfume.
She reached the exit to Brimmerton, the small fishing village where the marina was located. Driving down the local road, she watched the early signs of summer around her. It was still a bit cold and it was not possible to drive her sports car without the roof up for any longer distances. Still, all the trees were green and nature was preparing for the warmer season.
Seven drove through the village towards the marina. She spotted Jacob’s boat at the far end of the peer as she parked her car in the private parking lot used only by those who owned property in the archipelago.
Grabbing her suitcase and locking the car, she walked briskly towards the well kept fishing boat. She could not see Jacob around but knew he was expecting her and Kathryn.
Seven pulled her cell phone from her pocket as she walked up the gangway. She knew that her fiancée was famous for losing track of time and being late. Punching in the speed dial to Kathryn’s phone to ask if the other woman was on her way yet, she raised her gaze as a banging noise broke through the sound of screeching seagulls and the crashing of waves against the peer.
Goosebumps on the back of her neck told her something was wrong.
She stepped onboard the fishing boat, noticing that the door to the bridge was open, swinging back and forth in the wind.
Still pressing the cell phone to her ear, Seven walked quickly towards the door and looked inside. To her horror, she saw legs clad in large rubber boots sticking out at an odd angle behind the large wheel.
"Jacob!" she gasped, taking another step forward.
Something pulled at her waist while a cloth was pressed over her mouth. She tried not to inhale, realising that she should hold her breath. She struggled to free herself, the fumes from the cloth almost blinding her. She could still see what had to be Jacob behind the wheel.
The arm around her was like a band of steel, pressing what little air she had in her lungs out, forcing her to inhale. Her head began to spin. Nausea hit and bile rose in her throat. She tried in vain to kick the person restraining her but her limbs were weak, she could hardly move.
The last thing she heard was Kathryn’s voice disappearing in a daze as she dropped the cell phone.
"Seven? Hello, Seven? Can you hear me?"
Janeway regarded the display on her cell phone with a frown. Seven had called but then been disconnected.
Pressing #1 she used the speed dial. It rang six times at the other end and then she heard Seven’s voice.
"I regret I am not available to take your call, but leave your name and number so I can get back to you. Thank you."
"Damn, must be lousy coverage on the boat," Janeway muttered.
She turned to the tall man that had walked her to the door.
"Sorry about that, Mr Gallagher. I guess I’m off then. I’ll be out of town for a week but my sales director, Marion McDunn will be able to answer any questions that you might have."
"Thank you, Ms Janeway. I’m sure we covered most of it. I can’t say how much I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me in person. Sorry it took so much longer than we anticipated today."
It had taken way too long, Janeway thought. Not until she had pointedly glanced at her watch for the third time had the man in front of her made the effort to wrap it all up.
"Don’t mention it," she replied diplomatically. "Have a nice weekend."
Relieved to finally be on her way, Janeway hurried towards the parking lot.
She tried twice more with the same discouraging result. She left a short message that she was on her way, which was almost true. She had just left the office of a daughter company of ReyVa Inc and was heading for her car.
She got in behind the wheel and started the engine. Pulling out of the parking lot she was quickly engulfed by the rush hour traffic. She knew she would reach the interstate in a few minutes from where she was.
It disturbed her that Seven had called and that she had not been able to talk to her. Glancing at her phone she pressed the speed dial again. Still the same message. She found it strange since both she and Seven had used their cell phones there several times.
She could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. Annoyed with herself that she would overreact this way, she pushed the accelerator and passed two cars on her way to the exit ramp.
It took her longer than she thought to get to Brimmerton. When she arrived at the marina, she was relieved to see Seven’s car in the parking lot. She knew the blonde was a good driver but she did lack the routine that only years of experience could provide.
Grabbing her bag, she locked her car and started walking towards the peer. When she closed in on Jacob’s boat she noticed several people moving about the deck and on the quay. Frowning, she felt her heart start to pound and she lengthened her stride.
"What’s going on?" she called out when she reached the crowd. "Where’s Jacob?"
"He’s been attacked, ma’am," a tall burly man next to her said. "I’m Sergeant Cutter, Brimmerton police."
"I’m Kathryn Janeway. Jacob is a good friend. What do you mean, attacked?" Janeway exclaimed, a cold sensation starting in the pit of her stomach.
"One of his colleagues needed to borrow something and came onboard fifteen minutes ago. He found Jacob unconscious on the bridge."
"How do you know he’s been attacked? Was there a woman with him? Annika Hansen?"
The police officer seemed a bit taken aback as the woman rattled questions at him.
"We have no information about anyone else being found in there. We’re in the process of searching the boat for leads as we speak. The reason we know Jacob was attacked is because his hands were tied behind his back."
Where the hell was Seven?
"And there’s no sign of anyone else being here? My … friend was supposed to meet me here; Jacob was taking us both to her island. Her car is in the parking lot!"
A cold sweat broke out on her forehead and she thought her knees would give in any second.
"Sorry, ma’am, but …"
"Sir! Sir, we’ve found something!" a young police officer called from the boat.
Janeway felt herself go pale as she followed the sergeant onto the gangway.
"What is it, Perkins?" the senior officer asked.
"Here sir, I didn’t want to touch it, but if you lean down …"
They all followed suit and looked under the bench at the back of the bridge.
"Oh, God …" Janeway exhaled and fumbled for the wall to not fall over.
Sergeant Cutter reached for his baton and nudged the object closer to them.
It was a cell phone, flipped open and damaged.
"You recognise it, Ms Janeway?"
"Seven … I mean, Annika has one just like it. I’m sure it’s hers."
She was utterly amazed that her voice worked when the rest of her body seemed to be shutting down.
"Then I’m certain you realise that we have an even more serious case on our hands," Cutter said, his voice solemn. "I’m going to call for back up."
He stepped out.
The young police officer carefully picked up the mangled cell phone with gloved hands and put it in a plastic bag.
Not quite knowing why, Janeway pulled her own cell phone out of her pocket and pressed #1. The young man holding the plastic bag stopped in his tracks.
"It’s not ringing but the display is flickering," he said, sounding baffled.
Forcing back the tears, Janeway hung up before hearing Seven’s voice repeating the message again.
Right now that would have been too much.
Continued in "Lost on the Way to Raven's Island" - part 2