The banging on the heavy wooden doors could have awakened the dead, thought Alexis. She placed the documents for Stefan’s case on the table and pushed herself away from the table.
“I’m sorry, Miss Davis, I was in the greenhouse,” Mrs. Landsbury began as she entered the drawing room.
Alexis smiled at her. “I’ll see who’s there. Would you be a dear and bring in some coffee? I have a feeling I’ll be desperate for some very soon.”
“Very good.” Mrs. Landsbury nodded and left the room.
Alexis slowly counted to ten and headed toward the doors. She opened them and wasn’t surprised by the quartet she found there.
"May I help you with anything Detectives, Dara?" she asked.
"Oh, yes. You can help all right…"
Alex placed a restraining hand on Dara's shoulder as she charged towards the open door.
"Dara, I'll handle this," he said. "Alexis, is Stefan or Nikolas home? We need to talk to them."
"What is this all about?" she asked, as she continued to block their entry. The angry looks Dara was giving her made Alexis enjoy herself even more.
"This is about my missing daughter," Carrie answered. "Now, whatever problems you and Dara have need to be put aside. This is not the time for silly, petty games."
Carrie pushed past Alexis and entered Wyndemere. She was taken aback by the dark furnishings and the overall gloominess of the room. Why on earth would anyone want to live in a place that was so depressing she asked herself. What kind of people were they?
"Excuse me…" Alexis began.
"No. Excuse me" Marcus interrupted. "Listen, Miss Davis…Alexis, we have knowledge that your young cousin may know the whereabouts of Dara's younger sister. Now, may we please speak to him. Thank you."
"No, you may not," she answered.
"Now, you listen to me, Alexis Davis!" Dara said with her eyes full of fire, "you will not use my sister to get me to drop the charges against your cousin. What you did before was low, but using a helpless child is beneath even you."
"You wait a minute!" Alexis replied, just as incensed as Dara. "I would never use a child to win my case. I don't have to. I don't make it a habit of losing cases so I don't need any extra assistance."
"Ladies!" Alex said, forcefully. The two women stopped talking at the sound of his voice, but nothing could stop the glares they continued to give to each other.
"Thank you," he continued. "Okay, Alexis, a missing minor is serious. Your reasoning for why we can’t question Nikolas had better be good."
"It is. He isn't here."
"Okay. What about Stefan?"
"Neither is he."
"Alexis…" Dara began.
"Do you know where either of them may be?" Alex said, interrupting Dara before another catfight developed.
"I'm sorry, but I can't help you."
Justus stared out of his window onto the street below. The sidewalk was busy as people rushed about, trying to reach their destination before the rain began to fall. In the distance, thunder rumbled as the clouds continued to roll in.
He was at a loss for words. The tale he'd just heard was incredible. Impossible to believe, yet, the look on Tommy's face as he spoke warned him of its validity. Justus took a deep breath. He didn’t know what to believe.
"You think I'm lying," Tommy stated, quietly. He knew THE Justus Ward wouldn't believe him. He'd tried to tell his mother that, but she wouldn't believe him. What a waste of time, he thought, disgusted with himself.
"I never said that," Justus replied, turning to face him. He recognized the look on Tommy's face as hatred. Oh, he hid it well, Justus thought, but that boy hates my guts.
"You don't have to. I told her it'd be a waste of time, coming to you, but she insisted," Tommy said. He'd had enough of Justus Ward. He didn't want Justus' help and he didn't need it. He was leaving. Tommy headed toward the door.
"Wait…" Justus began. He couldn't allow Tommy to leave just like that. What if what he said was true? Justus wouldn't be able to live with himself.
"No. I don't have time to wait. Too much is depending on me. You sit here in your fancy little penthouse and you wait," Tommy replied as he slammed out of door. Now, he was back to square one, but he refused to allow himself to be defeated. His mother needed him and he would die before he failed her.
The storm was moving in faster than they had anticipated. A few droplets of rain glistened Nikolas' brow as he rowed the small boat to shore. They were almost there. He hoped they would reach the cabin before the rain began.
"You're sure no one will find us here?" she asked for maybe the tenth time.
"I'm sure," he smiled. "I'm the only person who comes out here, and even I haven't been here in a while."
She jumped when she heard the thunder, now a little bit closer than before. Looking over her shoulder, she had the oddest feeling that they were being watched.
"Relax," he said. Her jumpiness wasn’t lost on him. "There's no one back there. No one saw us leave. No one even knows about this old rowboat. We're okay."
She tentatively smiled at his attempts to reassure her, but still she felt at ease. Her body jerked as the boat reached the shore. Nikolas quickly hopped out and reached out his hand toward Dawn. She took it, and they quickly moved to conceal the boat in the bushes.
Taking the lead, Nikolas held onto her hand as they made their way towards the cabin. The first real drops of rain fell upon them as they neared their destination. Quickly, they ran onto the porch before they were completely drenched. Nikolas removed the old potted plant on the ledge and pulled out the rusted key.
He inserted the key and quickly pushed the door open. The old place was stuffy and a little dusty, but it would be good enough to keep them safe and dry for the night.
Dawn breathed a sigh of relief. They made it. She rubbed her arms in a dual effort to warm and dry herself. Looking around the cabin, she saw that like Wyndemere, this was no ordinary place. The cabin would have made some lucky family a nice house. The building was two-story. The floor was made of hardwood and it creaked with their every step. Unlike Wyndemere, the cabin had a homier feel. She allowed herself to relax. Nikolas brought her here. She would be safe, at least for the night.
During her examination of the cabin, Nikolas had been busy. A warm fire glowed in the huge stone fireplace and the dust covers had been removed from the sofa and chairs. He'd found towels and he gave one to Dawn.
"Thanks," she smiled.
"Are you okay now?" he asked as he playfully tugged on one of her tiny braids.
She removed his hand from her braid and held onto it. Unlike other boys she had known, touching Nikolas was easy. It felt right. He felt right.
"I'm okay," she smiled. "I bet no one would find us here. Not even your uncle."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Stefan replied as he stepped out of the shadows and into the room. He instinctively knew that Nikolas would bring her here, so he came ahead of them and waited. And watched.
"Uncle," Nikolas said, moving to stand between him and Dawn. "What are you doing here?"