Carrie and Tommy slipped onto the boat with alarming ease. A look passed between the two as they silently acknowledged that perhaps it had been too easy. With hand signals and gestures, Carrie indicted that she would take the lead. Tommy's eyes darkened as he silently disagreed, but one look into her eyes, and he knew that she was determined. He allowed her to move in front of him and remained quiet as he followed her down the narrow hallway.
As they reached a dead-end, three options were presented to them. A stairway was directly in front of them, and open passageways were to their right and left. Both decided that they would probably find nothing upstairs so that left choosing between the other two.
"I'll go this way," Carrie whispered, pointing towards the right. "You can check back that way."
"I can't let you go alone," Tommy whispered. "We can check both together."
"We'll waste time doing that," Carrie told him. "This way is faster."
Tommy drew a long, hard breath. Her reasoning was good, but to leave her alone wasn't something he felt he should do. Despite the quiet, he didn't feel like they were completely alone. He almost felt as if they were being watched. Frowning, he whispered, "They're watching us, Mrs. Jensen. Are you sure you want to do this alone?"
"I don’t want to do this, but we don't have a choice," she said softly. "I can feel their eyes, too, Tommy, but what else can we do?"
"We can go together," he said.
"Okay," she said, "we can go together, but we have to move quickly."
First, they searched the passageway on the left. Finding nothing, they quickly searched the other passageway. All the rooms were empty. They went back to the end of the initial passageway and decided that maybe they'd find something if they followed the staircase. This time, Tommy insisted to take the lead and Carrie was close behind him as they ascended the steps.
At the top of the staircase, they discovered a single door. Tommy's hand closed over the knob. He slowly turned the knob and found that the door was unlocked. He pushed the door and it opened to reveal an elegantly decorated sitting room. Carrie joined him on the top step and looked over his shoulder. He looked at her and she nodded at him. Together, they went inside.
"Where does this lead?" Dawn asked quietly. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness and she could clearly see Lucky as he diligently led the way. One hand still held on to his and the other lightly caressed her unborn child, trying desperately to calm the restless movement that frightened her so.
"It leads to the other side of the island," he told her. He glanced over his shoulder at her. She granted him with a faint, tight smile. He frowned as he noticed that instead of disappearing in the coolness of the cellar, the beads of perspiration had increased on her forehead. He asked her, "Are you okay? We can rest for a few minutes."
"I'd like that," she said. She released his hand and wiped at her damp forehead. Lucky reached inside his knapsack and handed her one of the bottles of water he had confiscated. She took it and greedily gulped the liquid down. The water cooled her off and after she had her fill, she handed the bottle back to him. "Thanks."
"No problem," he said. He raised the bottle to his lips and swallowed a few gulps, too. As he replaced the top and put the bottle back inside his bag, he watched her. He noted how her hands moved over her abdomen and a terrifying thought came to him. "Are you having pains?"
"Huh?" she asked, nervously.
"Dawn, are you in labor?" Lucky asked, trying hard to keep fear from his voice. He went to her and placed his hand over hers. He felt movement inside of her. He looked at her for confirmation.
"I-I'm not sure," she finally answered. "The baby feels different. I don't know, Lucky. I shouldn't be. It's too soon. I-I think the baby knows that something is up and is reacting to it."
"But what if that's not the case?" he asked, quietly. "What if you're in labor?"
"It doesn't matter if I am," she said, fiercely. "I'm not going back to that house. They want to kill my baby and I'm not giving those witches-"
"Ssh," he said, pulling her against him. The tears in her eyes reminded him that just as he had to protect her, she had to protect her baby. He wrapped his arms around her, comforting her as best he could. "I'm sorry. We won't let them touch your baby. We'll get out of here. Is the pain unbearable?"
Dawn shook her head. "It's not really pain. It's more like discomfort. I'll be fine. Let's keep going."
"Okay," Lucky said. He removed his arms from around her, and once again took her hand. They walked in silence. His acquired flashlight made shadows on the dirt walls and their footsteps were soft on the dirt floor. He listened closely for any movement above, behind or in front of them. He heard none and he hoped that it would remain that way until they were safely outside.
"Did you find a boat?" Dawn asked.
"Your wish was my command," he told her teasingly. "Of course, I got a boat."
"Good," she said. She was quiet a few moments more and then she said, "Nikolas is close."
"How do you know that?" he asked, keeping his voice light.
"He told me," she said, smiling. "He told me to hold on because he was near. I think he knows where we are. I think he may even be on the island."
"Dawn," Lucky said slowly, "the dream was one thing, but…"
"This wasn't a dream," she told him. "It was the strangest thing. We spoke to each other with our hearts. I told him where we were and he answered me. I know it sounds crazy, Lucky, but it's true. It happened. When we get to the boat, I want you to go back and see if you can find him-"
"I won't leave you," was his harsh whisper.
"We'll see," she said quietly.
Dawn didn't respond to his solemn vow. Her unborn child demanded her attention and her hand moved to respond. She caressed the tiny unseen body and cooed softly. She knew that Lucky's refusal to leave her was because he was afraid to leave her alone. She was afraid to be alone, too, but she could put her fear aside if that meant that Nikolas would be with her. She didn't have the energy to explain it to Lucky at that moment, but later, she would. And, she knew that he'd understand and that he'd bring her husband back to her.
A streak of lightning illuminated the cloudy night sky. Nikolas was grateful for it. The flash of light had revealed to him that men were posted outside of the house. His position behind a large growth of bushes had hidden them from his view, but not them from his. He now knew where they were positioned and the weapons they held. He had no intention of provoking the three men with rifles, but he if it came to a confrontation, he was confident in his ability to do whatever necessary. His wife was inside and no one would prevent him from going to her.
Nikolas' eyes and entire being was aware of the men's movement as he moved closer to the house. A small hut that was a next to it would provide excellent cover, but he didn't want to waste time with it. He wanted to go directly to the house, but he wasn't sure of the best way to do that. His mind worked quickly as he thought of a plan of action. Large, hurried footsteps scuffled across the porch, interrupting Nikolas' thoughts. He looked up just in time to see the guards run inside the house. Curious and knowing an opportunity when he saw one, Nikolas ran towards the house.
He was greeted with the sound of raised voices. A hard slap cracked across someone's face and he winced. He looked inside the window and saw that the room was vacant. He eased the door open and moved inside. With careful footsteps, Nikolas edged towards the sound of the voices. Frowning, he listened intently as he was now able to make out the words.
"Where are they?!" a woman's voice demanded.
"I-I don't know," came a tremulous reply. "They were in the room when I ch-checked, but when I went back later, they were g-gone."
What 'they' were they talking about? Nikolas wondered. The first voice was hard and cold. The woman behind it would be older. The second voice was light and very frightened. He had a strong feeling that Francesca was the second speaker. He moved from the doorway of the front room and crept down the hallway. He wanted to hear more. He wanted to know if the 'they' that were missing were Dawn and Lucky. The possibility that Lucky was with Dawn had never entered his mind, but now, he couldn't help but wonder. And hope…
"I want you to search everywhere!" the woman was now saying. "She's big with it, so they can't go far. This house, the little one next door and the big one on the other side. Don’t come back without her."
"But what about Lucky?" Francesca asked.
"Lucky ain't carrying the prize," was the brusque reply.
The prize? His child was a prize? Nikolas questioned. Helena kidnapped Dawn to get their baby. Lucky's presence wasn't something he understood, but at that moment, it didn’t matter to Nikolas. Heavy footsteps reminded him that he didn't have time for further contemplation. With the guards coming behind him, Nikolas ran down the hallway. He took a wrong turn and found himself in the kitchen. Unsure of how long he'd remain alone, Nikolas sought and found a hiding place inside the pantry.
A single light bulb allowed him to see his surroundings. With the closed door protecting him, he decided to search for something…anything. A shelf caught his eye and he moved to see what was on the other side of it. He almost missed the misplaced rug as he turned away. Thinking that it was odd for rugs to be there, he decided to kick them aside to see if maybe they weren't all that they appeared to be. A soft gasp escaped his lips as he saw the break in the floorboards. With a quick glance around him, he raised the floorboard. He peered inside and the strangest feeling nearly overwhelmed him. He felt as if he was being guided and he didn't dismiss the feeling. He removed his flashlight from his belt, shined it down inside the room underneath, and without further hesitation, went inside.
Stefan had searched each room on the bottom floor and all to no avail. He then tenaciously moved on to the next floor above. The rooms on that floor proved to be just as empty as the other ones had been. He refused to give up and he kept going. His stood at the bottom of a staircase when Carlotta's voice called out. He quickly ran up the staircase to go to her.
"Leave him alone!" Carrie screamed as Helena's henchman struck another blow to Tommy's midsection. "STOP IT!"
Helena looked from Carrie's tortured face to Tommy's stoic expression. His emerald green eyes stared back at Helena without fear or evidence of pain. A challenge if Helena had ever seen one, but she chose not to accept it. With a smirk, she said, "Enough. Help him up and tend to his wounds."
Tommy shrugged off the bodyguard's help and rose to his feet on his own. He stumbled slightly and Carrie made a move to help. He refused her acceptance with a shake of his head. He feared that if she helped him, a beating would be her reward. He could stand on his own. He was hurt, but he wasn't dead, yet.
Carrie's eyes widened in incredulous wonder as she looked at her lover's mother. All sorts of comments popped into her mind, but she held them down with sheer force of will.
"You have something to say," Helena said. "Say it…Carlotta. You're fucking my son so, of course, there shouldn't be any secrets between us."
"Ah, such crass behavior," Helena said. "Stefan has always favored classless women. I suppose I should have expected no less from you. Considering how your youngest bedded my grandson when she barely knew his name-"
"Shut up, you psychopathic witch!" Carrie responded. "I don't care what you say about me, but you will not talk about my daughter-"
Helena laughed. "Such strong maternal devotion. One wonders how it was so easily misplaced when Robert slapped the little whore around-"
"I warned you!" Wild fury darkened Carrie's brown eyes as she went for Helena's throat. Ari anticipated Carrie's response and grabbed her before her hands made contact. His hands squeezed her arms tightly and she bit down on her lower lip to hold the scream inside.
Unnoticed, Stefan slipped inside the room. The sight of Helena's young lover restraining Carrie was enough for him to draw his .38. He leveled the gun for Ari's head and in a deadly voice, said, "Release her."
Ari's eyes darted from Stefan's to Helena's. Vengeance shone in both of their eyes. Behind him, the click of the safety warned Ari that his life was at risk. He longed to follow Stefan's bidding and save his life, but he had pledged to remain loyal to Helena forever. His eyes remained on her as he waited for her instruction.
"Do as he says," Helena said.
As Ari dropped his hands from Carrie, Stefan entered the room. He went to Carrie and pulled her away from Ari. With the butt of the gun, he struck Ari at the base of his skull.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," Helena tittered. "You always had such a nasty little temper. He released your tramp. There was no need for you to hit him."
"Shut your mouth, Mother," Stefan bit out. He looked at the bruises on Tommy's face and faced his mother. His eyes held the contempt he felt for her. "You speak to me of temper. He's a boy, and look at him. You were always intimidated by a will stronger than your own."
Helena's eyes widened and she giggled. "Surely, you're not comparing yourself to this young man. Come now, Stefan, you were always such a weak little boy." She pointed towards Tommy who was trying his best to remain on his two feet despite his injuries. "Thomas Hardy, Jr. isn't a boy. He's a man. He risked life and limb to rescue his mother. He did so with amazing spirit and virulent determination. Let's be honest, son, when you were sixteen, would you have been as tenacious?
"For you?" Stefan bit out. "For the woman who relished in my torment? For the woman who hated me my entire life and never apologized for it? What do you think?"
Helena sadly shook her head. "I think not."
"You would be wrong," he told her. "You're my mother. When I was sixteen, I would have risked anything to save you…to have you look upon me the way his mother looks upon him-"
"Oh, please, don’t bore us with your sensitivity," Helena replied, rolling her eyes.
Forty plus years of pain flashed into Stefan's eyes. He blinked it away, but not before, Carrie saw it. Rage boiled inside her. Before she could think twice, she went to Helena and slapped her hard across the face. "You bore us with your senseless cruelty," Carrie told her as the older woman's face reddened under the strength of her blow. "I can't tell you what a credit it is to Stefan that his sensitivity remained intact under your wretched behavior towards him. He wasn't to blame, but you refused to see that. Now, where is my daughter?!"
Helena caressed her stinging cheek as her green eyes warred with Carrie's brown ones. In the younger woman's eyes, she saw the truth of Stefan's conception. And, she saw something else. The stupid fool hadn't said a word to Stefan. Perhaps, Helena would.
"Wasn't to blame?" Helena repeated. She moved away from them to stand in the open door that led to the mini patio. "He was the reminder of indescribable cruelty. He's fortunate that my hands never closed around his tiny throat as he lay in his crib."
"Indescribable cruelty?" Stefan softly repeated.
Helena's lowered her eyes as she visibly shuddered. She bit her lip to refrain from chuckling at her performance. She had long since reconciled herself with Mikkos' defilement of her. But now, she couldn't resist the pleasure of having the product know of his origins. Of his conception. She shivered slightly and turned away to look at the cloudy sky, pretending to gather her bearings as she said, "Yes, I was the unfortunate victim of-"
"NO!" Carrie shouted. "Enough of your games! Where's my daughter?!"
"Bitch," Helena mumbled under her breath. "Your daughter is safe! To answer your question, Stefan, I-"
"Is she here?!" Carrie asked. She grabbed Helena's shoulders to force the woman to look at her. Softly, she whispered, "Not a word to him. Don't you dare tell him what Mikkos did to you."
A wicked grin spread across Helena's face. "You don't want him to know. Is it because you love him?" she whispered back. "Will his conception break his heart? Will it hurt him? Do you think his pain matters to me? I. Don't. Care. About. His. Pain."
Taken aback, Carrie stared into the other woman's eyes. Helena's confession was an honest one. She truly didn't care about Stefan or his pain. Looking into Helena's glittering green eyes, Carrie realized that as long as Helena lived, no one Stefan loved would ever be safe. With thoughts of her children and future grandchildren being at risk, Carrie went for Helena's throat.
"Carlotta, NO!" Stefan screamed as he ran towards the patio.
At the sound of Stefan's anguished cry, Helena realized that a greater triumph was just within her grasp. Her eyes shone with her victory as her hands closed over Carrie's wrists in a vise-like grip. "Thank you," she mouthed to Carrie. Then with surprising strength, she pulled them both over the railing and into the darkness.
The sounds of Stefan's screams thundered loudly. With a backward glance to Tommy, he placed the .38 on the floor. Then, he jumped in after them.