The Miracle of Paint

The Miracle of Paint

A Story by Rhayne
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Jenalise Kobair is aging and worried that she's becoming a burden on her family. She decides to move to a nursing home. Even though the Dementia is slight, it is enough to slip into her fantasy world.

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THE MIRACLE OF PAINT

 

     This aerial view of Brookview Garden Nursing Home is spectacular, thought Markis Kobair. He had asked the pilot to please circle one more time before heading to the airport. His wife, Lauren, closes her book to lean over and take a look at what has Markis so enthralled. His cell has rung at least three times in the last ten minutes and he’s totally ignored it; completely out of character for him. His phone is his lifeline, his work. He never misses a call. The small private jet banks right and down below, nestled in the center of a vast acreage of trees is what looks like a posh resort of some kind. The immaculate lawn resembles a golf course but the white lawn furniture and umbrella tables are a dead giveaway that this is not a golfer’s country club. As the plane continues its wide circle and clears the trees, a wide stream comes into view. A small footbridge stretches to the other side. More white lawn benches decorate the banks with colorful flower gardens in various shapes and sizes littering the area. As the circle completes, the building comes back into view. It’s very large and from the air resembles a capital ‘H’. Markis makes a low sound of aw that catches Lauren’s attention.

     “It is beautiful down there, isn’t it? What kind of place do you think it is? A spa maybe?” she asks.

     “Honey, that’s Brookview Garden Nursing Home.”

     “You’re kidding! That’s it? That’s where we’re going?”

     “Yep. If it looks half as good up close as it does from up here, Mom’s going to love it.”

     “Markis, you can’t be serious! That’s a nursing home?”

     “I’m pretty sure that’s it. I’m seeing everything that the brochure has that the Director sent to me.”

     “Oh, my God, Markis, that place is going to cost a fortune! Can we really afford that? And do you really want to be this far away from your Mom?”

     “No, not really, but I want her to be in a nice place. A place I think she’ll like and where I feel she’ll be taken care of better than we’ve been able to do at home. I checked every single one close to home and I wouldn’t put Jasper in any of them. From what I saw on their website and the brochures and after talking with the Director, this is the best place around. I’m willing to pay a little more to get the best care for Mom. I think I can swing this one. I may have to sell a few more properties than I’ve been doing for a while. It won’t be any different than what I had to do when you wanted to take that trip to Paris last Spring. I just got that paid off, you know.”

     “Are you holding that against me still?”

     “No, I’m not holding anything against you. I enjoyed it too. It was just hard to leave Mom in a temporary place for two weeks not knowing if she was all right. It was all kind of spur of the moment, Lauren. I’ve heard nightmare stories from people about these places and I just want to be careful about choosing a permanent one for her. If it means a little extra work, that’s okay. She’s my Mom. She’s worth it. Just like you are worth the extra work for the things you want that cost a little more. I love you both. You aren’t begrudging this for Mom, are you?”

Lauren cut her eyes at him, “no! I love your Mom. I want the best for her too and I’ll be okay with whatever you want to do.”

The seatbelt signs and chime came on and then the Pilot announced they would be landing in about six minutes. Markis presses the Com button on the seat arm, “thank you, Jon.”

Lauren snaps her belt in place and shoves her book inside her large travel bag. Markis pulls his phone from his pocket to check messages. He plays his voice mail while buckling up.

‘Hi, Markis, your car will be waiting at the airport and your house sitter called, Jasper’s not eating. She needs you to call like you did the last time and let him hear your voice. Weird dog you got there. Everything’s good here in the office. Enjoy your trip. Bye.’

‘Hello, Mr.Kobair, Sasha here. I don’t know if your secretary gave you my message or not, but Jasper’s not feeling well. He won’t eat and he’s coughing a lot. I called the Vet and they said to bring him in tonight. Should I charge it or do you want me to pay for it out of the house account. Let me know. Sorry, I know you’re busy. Bye.

‘Hey, Markis, how about calling me when you get a chance. Your Mom’s a little upset. She doesn’t seem to remember that you’ll be away for a couple of days. Jayce’s got her calmed down for now, but you know how she is, an hour from now she won’t remember again. Just call, okay buddy? Thanks.’

‘Hey, it’s me again, I forgot to ask you---who’s Cian? She keeps asking us where he is and why he hasn’t come to get her yet. I’ve never heard that name before. Just wondering. Gimme a call, bud.’

With a sigh and a worried look, Markis pushes his phone back into his pocket. The jet’s taxiing to the gate where a white SUV is parked and a man in a suit awaits. Lauren waited for him to explain that last message but he sat silent, looking out the window.

     “What was that all about, Honey? Who is Cian?”

     “One of her book characters from a very long time ago. She must really be upset with me. She hasn’t mentioned anything about her books in nearly five years now. I thought I had explained everything to her about this trip enough that she would remember. I’ll call her as soon as we’re on our way to the nursing home. Can you call Sasha about Jasper?”

     “Sure.”

The jet comes to a soft stop and the engines power down. The Pilot waits at the open door as Lauren gathers her purse and travel bag and Markis grabs his briefcase from another seat. Jon, the Pilot, offers to take Lauren’s bag and assists her down the stairs. She heads for the car while Markis follows Jon to the cargo hold in the belly of the plane. The two of them carry the luggage to the car.

     “Thank you much, Jon, it was a smooth flight. We’ll see you back here in two days?”

     “Absolutely, Mr. Kobair. Enjoy your stay.”

Markis turns and offers his hand to the gentleman standing by the car.

     “Hello, Steve, how are you? Chrissy didn’t tell me it would be you hauling us around this time.”

     “Always a privilege, Mr. Kobair. Where to first, the hotel or Brookview Garden Nursing Home?”

     “My appointment is scheduled for two o’clock. I guess the nursing home first.”

     “Yes, Sir” he replies and climbs into the driver’s seat while Markis rides shotgun. He pulls his phone out and dial’s his business partner’s number to speak to his Mom while Lauren is already handling the dog problem.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

     Olivia Dennis, a Nurse at Brookview Garden Nursing Home, is the youngest member of Nursing staff. At twenty-seven, she is still single despite the fact that she is a very attractive, energetic and intelligent woman. She loves her job probably better than anyone else on staff. She has such a caring nature that Nursing was an ambition since she was a child. It was even how she played with her dolls when she six years old. Her dolls always had measles and fevers and colds. She was very graphic with her symptoms. Dad’s red markers came in handy to paint spots on her dolly’s plastic face, arms and legs. Green finger paint was perfect for making runny noses. Not only is Olivia an excellent Nurse, she is an excellent listener. She loves listening to the elderly tell their life stories. Some are easy to believe and some are so extraordinary, those events can only be in their minds. But there is one old woman that tells her stories in a way that when she’s finished, Olivia walks away feeling like she’s just walked out of movie theater and just watched the best fantasy-romantic story ever, full of adventure, romance and mystery. The lead man is always a vivid picture in her mind. This old woman really knows how to tell a story. The problem was, most of her stories she actually believed were real events in her life. But that could only be true if she lived in ancient times or far into the future and sometimes it was hard to tell what time frame it was. Mrs. Kobair’s mind is deteriorating. She has a touch of Dementia, nowhere near as bad as some of the other patients here. She’s the sweetest old woman and everyone loves her, patients and staff alike. She’s been here for six months now and so far, she hasn’t tried to escape to go home like most with this condition have. The compound the nursing home sits upon is so large that the fence that surrounds it can’t even be seen. Patients don’t feel imprisoned. It’s more like a resort for the elderly. Jenalise Kobair loves it here even though she misses her son dearly. He visits regularly, sometimes for whole weekends. Markis had asked Olivia if she would keep a watchful eye on his mother and text him if there were any problems or if she should become sick. He pays extra just for her extra attention even though she told him it would not be necessary. She would do it for free simply because she enjoyed keeping his mother company just to hear her stories.

     One day, Jenalise decided she wanted to take a stroll on the grounds. It was a beautiful fall day. The temperature was perfect for a walk in the gardens. She asked Olivia to accompany her and of course, she was delighted to accept. As they walked arm in arm across the plush lawn towards the stream that washed over a colorful rock bed and just deep enough for fish to swim, a man’s voice sounded from afar. He stood on the footbridge that crossed the stream. Both women look up and see him shaking his fist in the air and yelling curses at them. Olivia looks behind them to make sure he was yelling at them. There were no others behind them.

     “What is wrong with him?” Jenalise asks in the sweetest voice.

     “I really don’t know, Mrs. Kobair, but he seems angry about something. Maybe he dropped something in the water and needs some help. How about you taking a seat right here and I’ll be right back. Please, Mrs. Kobair, don’t move from this spot, okay? I’ll be right back.”

     “Yes, Dear, I’ll sit right here. You be careful, young Lady, he sounds dangerous.”

     “I’ll be fine.”

Olivia hurries to the old man who stood six feet tall and lean. She stops at the start of the footbridge, “Mr. North? Is something wrong? Do you need help?”

Kendrick North stood his ground, shaking his fist and glaring toward Jenalise. A former Marine, he often relives his war battles and mistakes innocent people as his enemies. Right now, Jenalise is the object of his anger. Olivia slowly approaches him.

     “Mr. North, it’s Olivia, remember me? I helped you with your shoes this morning, remember? Is there a reason you’re yelling? Is something wrong?”

     “YES, there’s something wrong! What the hell is she doing here? She’s not supposed to be here! I don’t want her here! Call the MPs and have them arrest her! How many times have I got to do this? Why did they let her out this time? She’s a w***e! A liar! Get her off my property this instant! That’s an order, Soldier!”

Olivia knew she couldn’t handle this situation alone and if he made a move to leave the bridge and approach Jenalise, she wouldn’t have the strength to stop him. Even at eighty years old, he still has the strength to fight off two orderlies that are as muscular as he once was. So, she does the only thing she can do. She pulls the walkie talkie from her back pocket.

     “George, Olivia, do you copy?”

     “Go ahead, Sweetness.”

     “George, I need you and Jake to come down to the footbridge. Mr. North is having another episode. He’s prone to get violent any minute. Please hurry.”

     “We’re on our way, Sweetness. Don’t approach him.”

     “Ten-four.”

Mr. North clutches the railing with both hands. The look in his eyes is cold and murderous as he glares at Jenalise. Olivia sees George and Jake coming in a golf cart from the opposite direction and it gives her an idea.

     “Mr. North, I’ll go take care of that matter for you. I’ll see to it that she’s removed from the premises. You just wait here and calm down, Sir.”

She knew that by the time she reached Jenalise, George and Jake would be arriving at the bridge and all would be safe. But if he turned around and saw them coming, he would surely bolt and head straight for his target.  She walked briskly toward Jenalise, never looking back. The old woman looks up with a kind smile and glossy eyes.

     “Hello, Olivia, isn’t it a beautiful day?” she asks as though it’s the first time she’s seen the Nurse today. Olivia sat beside her, patting her liver-spotted hand.

     “Yes, Ma’am, it is a beautiful today” she answers while she watches George and Jake wrestle a combative Mr. North off the bridge and onto the back of the cart. Jake harnesses him in and then takes the seat beside him. He waves to Olivia as George drives them away. She subtly waves back.

 

     Brookview’s dining room is almost as elegant as a country club. Large round tables fill the large room, each with a beige tablecloth and artificial flower arrangements that look so real you have to touch them to know. Chandeliers glitter like diamonds. Long floral tie-back drapes adorn the long windows. A dark green carpeted floor was perfect to pop the rest of the décor. The food here, of course, is prepared according to each patient’s doctor’s recommended diet and served in a manner that it looks elegant and delicious no matter what it is. Even the ice cream looks like a ‘to die for’ exotic dessert. Jenalise, however, wasn’t much for fancy feasts and formal dining and took most of her meals in her room. But this night, she had to fulfill a promise to Olivia that she would dine out. Olivia had a surprise for her that would be waiting in the dining room. She put on her best dress, her necklace with an Ankh that her Son gave to her, and her birthstone ring that still glitters under the lights. She pulled her white hair back and pinned it up, leaving the back down. When she looked into the mirror she smiled. She saw herself as she felt, young and pretty with long dark silky hair reaching to her lower back.

     “How do I look, Ci---” she says out loud to no one as she’s turning and sees there is no one there. Reality suddenly returns and her mind clears. She giggles like a school girl when she realizes her foolishness. She flips off the light, closes her door and heads to the dining room. At the door stands Olivia, still dressed in her nurse’s uniform. She lifts her arms to greet Jenalise with a hug.

     “I’m so glad you made it, Miss Jenalise. I didn’t tell you this morning, but I have a surprise for you tonight. Do you know what today is?”

     “It’s Friday, the thirteenth, isn’t it?”

Olivia laughs, “yes, Ma’am, but what month?”

     “Uhmmm, let’s see----October?”

     “YES! And what happened on October 13, 1943?”

Jenalise’s eyes glaze over and her index finger presses her lips. She’s obviously in deep thought.

     “I’m sorry, Dear, I don’t know. Nineteen forty-three was ages ago. I’m afraid my memory doesn’t go back that far.”

     “Oh, Mrs. Kobair” she laughs, “let me try giving you a clue. Your last name then was Jones. Does that help?”

     “Jones? Well, Jones was my Daddy’s name----what’s that got to do with that date? I don’t understand.”

Olivia laughs again, “Mrs. Kobair, today is your birthday!”

     “What? It is? Are you sure? Well, I forgot my own birthday? Isn’t that funny? How old am I?”

     “You’re seventy-six, Mom. Happy Birthday.”

Jenalise’s eyes tear up the moment she hears her Son’s voice. She turns and there he is, his arms out to her, a big smile on his face. She walks into his arms. He has to bend at the knees to accommodate her frail, short body.

     “There’s a surprise for you inside, Mom----family you haven’t seen in a long time. I flew them here just to celebrate with you and a couple of your old friends too. Come on inside.”

She took his arm and let him escort her inside to the lavishly decorated corner table. Everyone stood to sing happy birthday. She can’t stop the tears as she looks at each face trying to remember who they are, their names and where and when she knew them. Then her eyes fell upon a man’s face that’s as wrinkled and worn as her own. His eyes catch her attention. Those eyes look a little familiar but she can’t quite remember. It didn’t really matter. Even if she had never met him before, he was still strikingly handsome and appealing to her. She would be sure to meet him before he leaves this evening. His hair is as white as hers. He’s tall like Markis and he’s fit for his age. But those eyes, those almond shaped hazel eyes. They whisper to her heart. Then Markis’ voice penetrates her thoughts.

     “Mom? Do you remember everyone?” he asks while assisting her into her chair. As much as she hated to admit it, she couldn’t remember a single one and she could never lie to Markis. He could always see right through her so why even try to fake it.

     “I’m sorry, Son, I really don’t remember any of them, except Lauren. I remember her. Hello, Dear. I’ve missed you so much.”

     “I’ve missed you too, Mom, happy birthday.”

     “Thank you, Dear. Thank you to all of you for this wonderful surprise.”

     “It was Nurse Olivia’s idea, Mom. I asked her if we could take you out to dinner for your birthday and she suggested that we throw you a party right here. That way your friends here could come too. They’re all at the other table. You can introduce me to them later. Let’s get reacquainted with your guests. Right beside you is your cousin, Elizabeth and beside her is James, your nephew, beside him is Delia, your niece and beside her is your friend, Tyler. I think he went by Ty back in the day, right Sir?”

     “That’s right. We were known as ‘Ty Jena up’ in high school. It was kind of a private joke. Remember, Jena?”

She immediately began crying again. Olivia rushed over to hand her tissues and make sure these tears were just happy ones.

     “I’m so sorry. I can’t seem to stop crying. It’s so wonderful to see you again, Ty. I knew I knew those eyes. I’m sorry I couldn’t remember your name.”

     “That’s quite alright, Jenalise. There are things I’ve forgotten too, but you aren’t one of them. You’re still beautiful, young lady. Happy birthday to you and I want the first dance.”

She blushes. Kitchen staff began serving the custom ordered meal. Jenalise was permitted to go off her regular diet for this one night. The birthday girl had a juicy steak and baked potato with a salad on the side; her favorite meal. After the meal came the cake and ice cream and then the gifts. By the time the party was half way through, the dining hall had closed down for serving and off limits to patients. The staff came back and moved the tables to make room for a dance floor and then bid good night to all. Olivia stood in the doorway as Markis placed a CD in the player the Home had provided. The music started and Ty offered his hand to Jenalise.

     “May I have this dance, pretty Lady?”

Blushing again, she takes his hand and allows him to pull her to her feet and lead her to the center of the floor. He placed his arm around her tiny waist and pulled her closer to him, looking down into her eyes brought back a lot of memories for him.

     “Tell me, Jena, are you still writing those awesome stories you used to write?”

     “Oh, Lord, no. I had to give that up years ago. I would start one and forget about it. Start another one and forget about it. I hate that my mind is like this now. Some days are as normal as if I were twenty and other days, I can’t remember ever being twenty.”

Ty chuckles, “I know exactly what you mean. I have a touch of dementia too, but I take my meds and try to stay fit, eat right and all that, but still, some things just slip away for a while and then come back eventually. But I wasn’t lying when I said that I’ve never forgotten you. I think I’ve thought of you even more in my older years. You really should’ve married me, Jena. The best thing that ever came of your marriage was your son. You know that, don’t you?”

He twirled her around and brought her back against him, her back to his front. He put his arms around her in a way that it brought a memory back of their Prom Night. He twirled her again and caught her waist with the curve of his arm. They danced cheek to cheek, her mouth at his ear.

     “Do you still paint?” she asks.

     “Ah, you do remember some things about me. I haven’t painted in years, Sweetheart. Arthritis in my right hand gives me a fit more often than not. Kind of hard to hold the brush steady. I miss it---a lot----like I’ve missed you a lot.”

     “I miss writing too.”

     “Do you like it here, Jena? Are they good to you?”

     “I love it here. It’s peaceful and quiet and the grounds are beautiful all year round. Green in the summer; red, yellow and gold in the fall; snowy white in winter and colorful with all kinds of flowers in the spring. There’s lots of activities; music, arts and crafts, social movie nights, group meetings to talk and share, classes for sewing, knitting, drawing, pottery. We’re allowed to fish in the creek that runs through the property. We do pretty much whatever we want to. The staff is warm and caring. They take good care of us. Just look what Nurse Olivia has done for me. She’s done this for others too. She’s the sweetest girl. She keeps me company a lot too. Especially on rainy days. She likes to hear my stories and I like to tell them to her.”

     “Sounds really nice, Jena. I’m glad you’re happy here. That’s important, you know----that you’re happy. And I guess telling your stories is just as wonderful as when you wrote them, probably better. I could listen to you talk all day and night. I would love to hear some of your stories some time. I remember one in particular that you wrote when we were in college. I read it several times. Do you remember which one it was?”

     “I think so. Wasn’t it the one that you painted the portrait of the main character, Cian, the Warrior with the gothic armor? You always said that my description of him was actually you and that’s how you painted him----to look like you. That one?”

     “That’s the one. Do you still have that painting?”

     “You know, I don’t know where it is unless Markis has it. He always liked it too.”

The music stopped and everyone clapps for them. Ty took a bow and Jenalise curtsied. But when she raised her head and opened her eyes, she froze. Standing in the doorway where she had expected to find Olivia, was a tall man, his arms folded over his chest and an angry look on his face. He stared at her as though he wanted to hurt her. He backed out before turning and disappearing down the corridor. She recognized him from the footbridge and remembered right away how he cursed and shook his fist at her. The music started again and other guests including Markis and Lauren came out to the floor. Jenalise pats Ty’s arm.

     “I think I’ll sit this one out. I’m exhausted.”

He chuckled, “getting old’s a b***h, ain’t it?”

     “Tyler Henderson, watch your mouth. You can’t say stuff like that in a place like this and expect to sleep well.”

Ty laughed harder this time, shaking his head, “there’s the ‘Ty Jena up’ I know. Happy birthday, Darling” he says turning her toward him and giving her a big kiss on the lips. Her expression is total shock when he steps back. His smile curves down instantly.

     “Oh----I’m sorry, Jenalise. I kind of got caught up in the moment. Please, forgive me. It’s just so freakin awesome to see you again and dance with you and talk about old times-----d****t, Jena, I’ve never stopped loving you. You ripped my heart out when you married Randy Kobair. I knew it was a mistake. It was me who beat the s**t out of him the night he cheated on you. He didn’t tell you it was me, did he?  I would’ve never cheated on you---never. All I wanted was for you to be happy and I knew I could make you happy or die trying. But you chose him and so I stepped back. But when I saw him with Kimberly Lockhart, I couldn’t help but imagine you at home, recovering from that miscarriage, alone and how you were going to feel when you found out. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t take it. I hurt him because he hurt you in more ways than one. Then, when I came to my senses and realized what I had done, I went to the hospital to check on him and then planned to turn myself in and there you were, crying and angry at whoever had beat him up. I heard you say that if you ever found out who did it, you would see to it that they would pay dearly for it. I could see Randy in the ER and he was fine. Bruises and a few loose teeth. They threw a band aid on him and told him to go home and sober up. I saw how he shrugged away from you as you were leaving. You never saw me there. Neither of you did. I knew he wouldn’t tell you I did it or why I did it. So, I left town hoping that I could forget both of you. Him, I did. You, not so much. I kept in touch with friends to keep up with how you were doing. I thought about coming back when I heard you found out about him and Kimberly and all the others after her but I figured you wouldn’t want to see me. I never married, Jena. Never could find one like you. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. But let me tell you a crazy story. That painting I gave you of your book character? I can’t tell you the times I thought about that thing and how I wished I really could be him. I looked like him but I didn’t have his character, his bravery, his strength or even his charisma, but I sure wanted all that. I wanted to be him and step out of that frame and take you by the hand and pull you with me back into it. I would protect you and love you for the rest of our days, which in your story meant forever---immortal lives. We could be together for eternity. I used to go to sleep thinking thoughts like that until time finally wore them away. But I can tell you this, time never erased you from my heart or from my mind. And here you stand---before me again---and I still feel the same about you. As old as we are, Sweetheart, I’m still compelled to go down on one knee and propose to you, but I won’t. I know it isn’t what you want. So, forgive me for the kiss and just think of it as a kiss for old time sake and a birthday gift. It was really great seeing you again, Jena. Tell your Son I really appreciate his tracking me down and giving me the opportunity to be here. Maybe I’ll get lucky and see you on the other side, gorgeous. Goodnight.”

With silent tears streaming, she watches him walk out, wanting to stop him but knowing she couldn’t. She couldn’t tell him why either. No one in this room actually knows just how much this party means to her. Not even her son knows her fate. She had just learned of it herself yesterday when her doctor came with her test results. Stage four Pancreatic Cancer.

 

     The party is over and all have gone home. The lights have been dimmed in the corridors and only the night shift staff are moving about, checking rooms and doing the normal nightly head count. All are accounted for. Jenalise lays on her side, her back to the door so no one would know that she’s still awake much less crying. It had been a perfect day, all the way until the man of her youth had once again walked away in sadness. Every word he said keeps playing over and over in her head. What is her most recent memory will probably be her last memory, the one she takes to her grave. The portrait of her Gothic Warrior floats through her memory. His handsome chiseled face with intense hazel eyes looking at her as though they were vowing his promise to always be there and protect her from all harm. His long blonde hair hangs loose with a few strands blowing across his cheek. That delicious looking mouth, closed tightly giving his expression that air of power and strength to assure her of his ability to keep his promise. All this atop a lean body covered in armor of gothic design looking like it could walk him right off that canvas in a graceful fluidity that could be mistaken for a sinful ballet. Cian. Her creation, her story’s main character. She hadn’t realized that her written description of Cian had been Tyler Henderson right down to the shape of his eyes. Not until he painted himself with the armor she described for Cian. Her life could’ve been so much better if she had only opened her eyes when she was nineteen years old. How had she chosen Randy Kobair over Tyler Henderson? Her memory fails her. Her tears begin to carry her off to sleep until she feels her bed jar like someone bumped into it. She rolls to her back and there in the darkness, she can make out his shadow. A man. A tall, lean man.

     “Ty?” she whispers, “you came back?”

Suddenly, the man is in motion and almost simultaneously something slams into her jaw. Pain racked her whole head and neck. Immediately a second blow comes to the other cheek. She can’t scream or even cry the pain is so bad. She can’t see anything but flashes of light and red dots floating in front of her eyes. A hand grabs her hair and jerks her out of bed and to the floor. A kick to her side that takes her breath away, slides her across the floor and underneath her bed. Now, he speaks.

     “W***E! YOU F*****G LYING W***E! I won’t let you do this to me again, you f*****g b***h! Who is he? What’s his name? Tell me, B***H! I saw you dancing with him. Who is he! I’ll kill him too!”

The light in her room brightens as the door swings open wide. She sees the white shoes running in. Her tears finally come. The metallic taste of blood explodes in her mouth.

     “Mr. North! What are you doing? Mr. North? Donna, call George! North’s out of his mind.”

Nurse Taylor saw the blood spots on the floor and followed them to the bed where she sees Jenalise’s frail body underneath. She gently pulls Jenalise from underneath the bed. She winces in pain and cries out, coughing blood onto the floor.

     “Oh, my God! Miss Jenalise, oh, my God, Donna! Call Dr. Seavers. Tell him to meet us at the hospital and then call Jake. Tell him to get the ambulance warmed and bring the gurney. Hurry!----- I’m so sorry, Miss Jenalise, we didn’t see him leave his room and we had just finished the bed check. Lay very still and let me check you. Can you show me where it hurts?”

Jenalise places her hand on her ribs and then her throbbing face. She tries to speak but only coughs and strangles on blood. Nurse Taylor very gently examines her ribs. Luckily and miraculously, they don’t feel broken but x-rays will be needed to be sure. Both Ladies cringe when they hear Mr. North’s voice in the corridor, coming closer. He’s still ranting about arresting ‘that whoring woman’. Then George’s voice follows and he’s trying to hush the old man and get him back to his room. Nurse Donna returns, rushing in and kneeling beside Jenalise.

     “Dr. Seavers is on his way to the hospital. He’s so angry, Janet. He told me to tell George to restrain Mr. North to his bed and for us to give him a sedative. He wanted to know what set him off and I didn’t know what to tell him. Do you know?”

     “Not a clue. But he’s done some real damage here, Donna. She can’t get up. He must have kicked her in the ribs and I’m not positive, but I think her jaw is broken. Where’s Jake with that gurney?”

     “I’ll go check.”

 

Jenalise hears voices all around her but she can’t seem to open her eyes. Someone’s warm hand is holding hers. There’s an annoying beeping sound coming from somewhere. She wishes it would stop. Her head hurts bad enough without that. When she tries to call out to ask someone to shut it off, her voice catches in her throat from the horrendous wave of pain tearing through the whole side of her face. All that comes out is a moan.

     “Mom?”

The familiar voice calms her instantly. All is well. She is safe. Markis will take good care of her. She manages to squeeze his hand. She hears his sigh of relief.

     “I’m here, Mom. You’re going to be all right. You’re a little banged up and you’ll be sore for a while but you’ll heal from this. I’m so sorry this has happened. It shouldn’t have happened and I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Okay, Mom? Do you hear me?”

She squeezes his hand again to avoid another sharp pain. Even the attempted smile hurt. She wondered how he got there so fast. His flight usually takes several hours. She had forgotten all about the birthday party last night and that he was staying overnight at the hotel just three miles down the road from the Home. Suddenly, the enticing aroma of hot coffee fills her nostrils. It smells delightful and she would sure love a cup.

     “Here you go, Honey. I got you a Danish to go with it since you skipped breakfast. How is she doing? She’s still sleeping?”

     ‘That’s Lauren. Oh my, she came with him? What has happened to me? Why can’t I speak?’

     “She’s in and out. She was awake just a moment ago. She tried to say something but all that came out was a moan. I imagine her jaw hurts pretty bad. She doesn’t understand yet that they had to wire it. I swear, Lauren, I thought I was putting her in a place that she would be completely safe, especially from things like this.”

     “Markis, you have to realize that there is no ‘completely’ safe place in this world. Not even your own home these days. And I’m sure the staff is just as upset over this as we are. You know how much they love her. But it’s a big place and they can’t watch every single person every single minute of the day and night, you know. The Head Nurse said that they had just finished a bed check and everyone was in bed. She said they’ve never had any problems with Mr. North before, that he’s always been a quiet man and kept to himself.”

     “Something sure set him off. Nurse Donna said he was angry and ranting something about a whoring woman that he wanted arrested. Surely, he couldn’t have been talking about Mom.”

     “Maybe she reminds him of a woman he once knew, Honey. Maybe his wife betrayed him or something. He’s old, Markis, and his mind is bad now. Who knows what was in his head? All we can do is make sure they take precautions to keep this from happening again. His door needs to be locked at night or something---give him something to make him sleep---I don’t know. I’m just glad it wasn’t any worse than this. Dr. Seavers says there’s no internal injuries. Her ribs are just bruised and the jaw will heal. He said as frail as she is, it wouldn’t take much to break her bones. She’ll recover, Markis.”

     “I know. It’s just going to be hard to take her back there and go back home. I’m going to be wondering if my Mother is being abused---”

     “And you’ll pick up the phone and call to make sure she’s okay. Staying on them will make them stay on alert so that it doesn’t happen again for fear of being sued or worse if it does.”

     “But that’s just it, I don’t want to have to call a hundred times a day to make sure they’re doing their job and that she’s safe. I’ll never have any peace.”

     “Then bring her back home, Markis. We’ll get a private Nurse for her. Someone that can live with us. If we can afford Brookview Garden, we can afford a private Nurse. How about Olivia? Your mother loves her and she seems to enjoy keeping your Mom company. She said so, remember? I don’t know what her salary is there, but it can’t be what we pay out every month for your Mom’s care there. We could probably even save money. It’s your decision, Markis. You know I’m fine with whatever you want to do.”

     “And that’s just one of the reasons I love you so much. I’ll give it some thought. I’ve given this some thought too, why don’t you go ahead and fly back home like we had planned to do today and I’ll stick around here a little longer. I just want to make sure she’s going to be okay and I want to find out more about this Mr. North. He ever touches my Mom again and I’m going to send the b*****d South---permanently.”

Jenalise has been listening to every word and her emotions are all over the place. She would love to go back home with them and having Olivia around all day sounds wonderful. But she doesn’t want to be a burden and that’s the whole reason she asked Markis to find her a nice place to go to so the he and Lauren could have their privacy again. Their children are grown and on their own and now it’s their time again. They don’t need an old woman hanging around. No. She’ll tell Markis as soon as she can speak again that she wants to stay right where she is. If that old man comes near her again, she’ll just use her powers to call on her Gothic Warrior. He’ll protect her. The voices around her fade as sleep once again, takes her away.

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

     “Are you sure you this is what you want?”

Markis places her neatly folded nightgowns in his Mother’s bureau drawer, waiting for her answer. The wire in her jaw was finally removed yesterday and speaking should be a lot easier but the hesitation is still there. The memory of the pain is still fresh.

     “Mom?”

     “Yes, my darling, I’m sure. I’ve thought it over many times while having nothing else to do but lay in bed or pace around this room and I’ve decided that it’s better for both of us if I just stay here. I like it here; I really do and you don’t have to worry about that old man anymore. He’s not allowed in this wing of the building. He can’t get to me anymore, Son. I almost feel I should thank him. He got me this upgraded room for the same price as the old one. This one is bigger and I have my own t.v. and I’m closer to the Arts and Crafts center.”

Markis chuckles at her enthusiasm and is pleased that she’s talking normally again. He’s stayed long enough and needs to get back to work, even though his business partner, who just so happens to be his best friend since childhood, has told him to take all the time he needs. Dylan has always considered Jenalise his second mother and loves her just as much as his own mother. But he’s taken off almost three weeks and the hotel is becoming expensive now and nights are lonely. It’s time to get back to his wife and his life again now that Jenalise is well enough to manage her daily routine. Olivia will be with her more than before. He made a deal with the Director, no investigation or charges as long as he got two things, a new room in the wing on the other side of the building and Olivia’s time. Jenalise now has the pleasure of her company whenever she wants, day or night. Olivia is perfectly fine with the arrangement.

     “Okay, Mom, we’ll try it your way and see how it goes. But one more incident like this one and you’re outta here. Understood?”

     “Understood.”

     “Well, Jon’s got the Jet ready to go” he says reading his text message, “I guess I better get going. I’ll see you in a week or so” he says giving her a kiss to the forehead. As he heads for the door, Olivia pops in all fresh and cheerful.

     “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were still here, Mr. Kobair or I wouldn’t have barged in like that.”

     “It’s okay, Olivia, I was just leaving. Always nice to see your cheerful smile. Thank you again for agreeing to the terms I gave the Director. I hope they don’t treat you any different because of it?”

     “They won’t, Sir. They’re good people. I hope you have a safe trip home. I’ll get Miss Jenalise to tell me one of her stories so she won’t miss you so much.”

He laughs, “yeah, her stories are really something, aren’t they?  She sure kept me and my friends entertained when we were kids.”

     “I’ll bet she did. Which one was your favorite, Mr. Kobair?”

     “Ummmm, that’s a hard one to answer, Olivia, I like all her stories.”

     “I can answer. It was the one that I liked most. The Gothic Warrior” Jenalise smiles, trying out her new rocking chair.

     “Yeah, that one” he agrees.

     “Markis? Speaking of that one, do you still have that painting of him? You know, the big portrait that I framed?”

     “Yeah, Mom. I have all your stuff in storage. I wouldn’t do away with your things. I remember the one you’re talking about. Of all the pictures you had of your characters, that one was my favorite. Would you like for me to bring it on my next visit?”

     “Yes, please. I think it would look beautiful on that wall there. Perfect place to see it from my bed. I’ll be able to gaze at him every night as I fall asleep----just like I used to.”

Markis and Olivia laugh at her swooning over the memory.

     “I’ll bring it, Mom. I have to go now. You two have fun in fantasy land!” he says pulling the door closed.

 

     It had been hours since Markis left and the storytelling had begun and Olivia still sits mesmerized by her words, the images of her Gothic Warrior’s unbelievable power as he battles hideous demons, hardly breaking a sweat. Until the door swings open and a kitchen staffer wheels in the dinner tray.

     “Oh, my goodness, is that late already!” she says popping up from her comfortable seat on Jenalise’s bed. The staffer wheels the table in front of Jenalise in her rocking chair.

     “Since you didn’t show up in the dining hall, Miss Jenalise, I figured I would bring it to you. You have to eat, you know. Your doctor informed us this morning that you can start eating solid food again. I was never so glad to throw away straws in my life, but as soon as he told us that, I ran to the drawer and threw ‘em all out. I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing so much better. I prepared one of your favorites, chicken and dumplings. I’m sure it won’t be as good as what you used to cook for your family. This is my first time cooking this dish. Your Son told us all about what a good cook you are and how he misses your cooking. He gave me your old recipe. I hope you don’t mind. Well, you try it out and let me know what you think. I’ll come back for the tray in an hour. I hope it’s as good as yours. See you later!”

Olivia removed the dome over the steaming bowl of chicken and dumplings. It smells divine to both of them. Olivia unwraps the utensils and hands her the spoon and then snaps the cloth napkin open and places it neatly in her lap.

     “You enjoy your dinner, Miss Jenalise. I think I’m going to run down to the kitchen and grab a bowl for myself.”

     “You do that, honey. Go get a bowl and bring it back here and eat with me. You want to hear the ending, don’t you?”

     “Absolutely! I’ll be right back.”

 

     Jenalise turns out the light on her bedside table and slides between the sheets of her new bed. She sighs a long breath and gazes at the blank wall across from her. She imagines her Warrior’s portrait hanging there, how handsome he is standing there with his shield in one hand and his magnificent sword in the other. His face and hair looking remarkably like Ty Henderson. She smiles and sighs again, remembering how handsome Ty was in their high school and college days. Yes, she should’ve married him. Where would she be right now if she had? What kind of life would it have been? Her eyes close slowly and she lets sleep take her to him, her Warrior.

     The door to Jenalise’s room silently jolts open. Fingers curl around the edge of the door and slowly move it open further. He steps inside, giving a quick look around the darkened room. Moonlight spreads the design of the window panes across the blanket on the bed. A small curvature of the blanket indicating a body can barely be seen.  Quietly, he walks to the bedside and bends over to get a better look at the old woman’s face. Her white hair no longer in the usual bun, is now streaming over her shoulder, disappearing beneath the blanket pulled just above her breasts. Pink lace of her nightgown lays evenly across her chest, curving up over her shoulder. She breathes softly in her slumber, her eyes quivering behind closed lids. She’s dreaming. A slight smile comes to the corners of her mouth as he studies her, wondering what she could be dreaming. A subconscious reaction to touch her hair washes away the calmness inside him. His own hand seems foreign to him as he watches his fingers lightly run down her soft hair. The sound of his gritting teeth turns the heat up in his blood. The hand is his now, balling into a tight fist. His breathing turns ragged and wakes her. Her eyes pop open to his hateful glare. She gasps and prepares to scream just as he pummels his fist into the pillow right by her head.

     “You f*****g b***h!” he snarls lowly, “you think you can hide from me? You think I’m so stupid that I can’t find you? You will never escape me, you lying w***e! You’ll never have peace to be with HIM! I’ll kill you both!”

Jenalise is subtly sliding away from him the closer he comes to her. One leg slipping from the side of the bed, her hand is grabbing for the night table where she remembers Markis leaving the small mace can. The old man is leaning closer and closer to her face. His snarling words showering her face with spit as he repeatedly threatens her. Her fingers finally curl around the small canister. She struggles to get it fully in her grasp. Just as the old man grabs her by the hair and jerks her to him, the light comes on and Olivia and George run to her aid. George grabs Mr. North from behind, pulling him away and out the door. Olivia pulls Jenalise into her arms, hugging her.

     “Are you hurt, Miss Jenalise? Did he hurt you?”

Jenalise whimpers against Olivia’s shoulder, “no. He just pulled my hair. He didn’t hit me but he wanted to and he would have if you hadn’t come in. Why is he doing this to me? I don’t even know him. Who does he think I am?”

     “Shhh, Shhh, it’s all right now. He’s gone and I promise you, Miss Jenalise, I’m going to find out how he got into this wing. Even I have to use a code to get in. This is a high security wing. I’ll get to the bottom of it, I promise. Are you sure you’re all right? Can I get you anything?”

     “No, sweetie, I’m fine. You go on about your business. I’m feeling really tired and need to lay back down.”

     “Miss Jenalise, you are my business. You lay back and try and go to sleep. I’m going to stay with you until I know you’re sleeping peacefully, okay?”

Olivia pulls the sheet and blanket over her, tucking her in. She steps on something as she moves around the bed to tuck the other side.

     “What’s this?” she asks bending down to pick it up.

Quickly, Jenalise takes it from her, “that’s mine. Markis gave it to me. It’s mace. I was trying to get to it and almost had it in my hand when he jerked me away. It must have rolled off the table. I think I’ll keep it under my pillow now.”

     “You know what, Miss Jenalise, I have a better idea. Here, I’ll give you my stretchy band that I use for my keys.”

She pulls from her pocket the flexible plastic ring that fits on the wrist. She removes the keys and attaches the mace canister.

     “Let me see your wrist” she says, holding the band open wide enough to slip her hand through, “there. Now you have it right where you can reach it and you can’t drop it. Put it on every night, Miss Jenalise, just in case, okay?”

     “You are such a sweetheart. Thank you.”

     “You’re welcome. Now, you go to sleep and I’ll be right here if you need me. Goodnight.”

     “Goodnight, Honey.”

 

     Markis was busy handling the closing of one his largest sales, an eighty-store shopping mall in the heart of Atlanta, when he gets a call from Olivia.

     “Excuse me for just one minute, please, Gentlemen. This is a family emergency. I’ll be right back” he says stepping just outside the conference room door.  “Hi, Olivia, something wrong?”

     “Are you planning a visit this weekend?”

     “Yes, why?”

     “Miss Jenalise has been asking me every two hours when you’re coming and I just wanted to make sure. She’s been asking to see someone else too. Someone named Ty? She wants you to bring him with you. Says its important. She’s not acting normal, Mr. Kobair. Ever since you brought that portrait, she’s been slipping more and more into a fantasy world. She says the man in the portrait is her friend Ty. I’m getting a little worried about her. Dr. Seavers is aware of this too. He asked me to call you since I spend so much time with her. Do you know her friend?”

     “Barely, but I think I still have his number. I’ll give him a call. I’ll try and come sooner than the weekend, Olivia, please tell her I’ll try. Thank you for calling me.”

     “Sure, Mr. Kobair. Goodbye.”

Markis leaned back against the wall, staring at the ceiling, wondering how much longer he can deal with this. The trips are getting to be more and more frequent and the money he earns barely has time to settle in the bank account before it’s flying out again. He’s exhausted.

     “Hey, Markis----you okay? Deal all closed up?” his partner, Dylan asks with a big smile.

     “OH, CRAP!” he says through clenched teeth and rushes back into the conference room. “I’m so sorry for that interruption, Gentlemen. My Mother’s in a nursing home up in North Carolina and she’s not doing well. Every phone call from there puts me in panic mode.”

     “I hope everything is all right?” his potential buyer says with a concerned look.

     “For the moment. I’ll be flying up as soon as I can. Now, where were we----” he says looking at the contracts spread over the table between them.

     “Don’t bother, Mr. Kobair. We discussed things and made our decision while you were taking your call. There’s no need to take time to go over the paperwork. Everything seems to be in order and we’ve already discussed the terms and we’re still in agreement. If you’ll let me borrow your pen, I’ll sign these and the funds should be in your account by this time next week.”

Markis almost shutters with relief. He thought for sure he had just botched his chances on the sale. It has taken him almost eight months to come to an agreement on this property. It’s finally done and the profit he earned on this one will certainly take load off his mind. He sits down slowly as he watches the three partners sign their names to the contract worth twelve and half million dollars. His client is going to be a very happy man and so is his Banker. The last signature is recorded and the man pushes the contract across the table to Markis. He picks up the pen and signs his name on the line marked SELLER’S REPRESENTATIVE on all the pages and then gathered them all up.

     “I’ll have my assistant send your copies to you express carrier along with all the security codes and keys---unless---you want to want for the copies now.”

The man smiles and offers his handshake, “carrier’s fine, Mr. Kobair. You have a trip to pack for. I hope your Mother is feeling much better by the time you get there.”

     “Thank you so very much, Mr. Kingston. I’m sincerely thankful for your business. I have to say, though, you sure made me work for this one.”

Mr. Kingston laughed and shook his hand a little longer, “you’re a fine broker, Mr. Kobair. When I get ready to sell one of my properties, I’ll be looking you up. You drive a hard bargain. Your Seller better be generous with you. You certainly earned it. Good day, Mr. Kobair.”

     “Good day, Mr. Kingston, Mr. Price----Mr. Fullerton. Pleasure meeting you” he says, seeing them off. He closed the door behind them and watched through the window blinds to the reception area until they exited the office. At that moment, he thought he would collapse. He let his body sink down into the executive chair, the contracts pressed against his chest. The door swings open and Dylan and Chrissy’s faces peer around the door.

     “They signed?” Dylan asks anxiously.

Markis tossed the contracts onto the glossy table, “they SIGNED!” he shouts and jumps up to give Dylan a high-five. Chrissy’s squealing and jumping up and down.

     “TWELVE AND HALF MIL, PARTNER! Holy Christ! I can’t believe I pulled this off! He even said he would look me up when he gets ready to sell his next property. Can you believe it?”

     “I wasn’t worried, man. I knew you could do it. I’m proud of you, Markis. With all you’ve been dealing with over the past two years with your Mom and everything, things got a little rocky there for a little bit but you reigned it in, Bro, and pulled it all together again. You’re the ROCK, Bro!”

     “I need to call Mr. Halsey and give him the good news. Chrissy, I need you to send Mr. Kingston’s copies to him by Express Carrier tomorrow, please. And don’t forget to include the security codes and keys with that. He said the money should be in our account by this time next week. Keep an eye out for it and let me know the minute it happens.”

     “Yes, Sir. Congratulations, Markis. Don’t forget to call Lauren and make her happy too. She’ll be heading to the stores!”

     “Oh, and Chrissy, I need to fly up the NC again as soon as I can get home and pack. Call Jon for me and tell him to have the Jet ready to go by five.”

     “You got it.”

     “Didn’t you just get back from there?” Dylan says worriedly.

     “Yeah, couple of days ago. When you saw me in the hall just now, I had just gotten off the phone with Olivia. Mom’s mind is slipping faster now. She’s asking for me and a friend from long, long ago. I need to try and get hold of him.”

     “If you need me, Bud, you know where to find me.”

     “Thanks, Dylan” he says checking his phone directory for Tyler Henderson’s number.

Three rings and it goes to voice mail, “hi, Mr. Henderson, this is Markis Kobair. I really need to talk to you about my Mom. She’s been asking to see you. If you can find time to take another trip up, I’d appreciate it. Give me a call and we’ll discuss it. My toll-free business number is 555-655-7605. Thanks.”

     Lauren helped Markis pack while he gave her his good news. Normally, she would be thrilled but she just can’t wrap her head around that much money being for real.

     “Mr. Halsey is ecstatic and said he’s going to raise my commission even more than we agreed on. He never thought I’d get them to agree on that price. Honestly, I didn’t either---” he says jovially while pulling socks from the drawer and tossing them in the suitcase.

     “Markis, how long are you going to be staying this time?” Lauren interrupts.

     “I’m not sure, Honey. I won’t know until I get there and see what’s going on with her. Olivia seems pretty worried and she’s not one to exaggerate. You can come with me, you know.”

     “No, I’ll just end up sitting in the hotel room. Besides, it’s colder up there than it is here now. I’ll just focus on the Christmas shopping while you’re gone, which reminds me, are you going to bring her home for Christmas?”

     “That all depends on if she’s up to traveling and how you feel about it. I can always fly up there for a couple of days after we have our Christmas gathering if you prefer that I don’t bring her here. And don’t worry, Baby, I’m not thinking bad of you if that’s what you thinking. I understand what a chore she is now and we both know she can’t help it. Point is, we have options. You just need to tell me what you prefer. You’ve been exceptionally patient with me for two years now, agreeing to anything I want. Our marriage still has two streets, Lauren. It’s time I spend some time on your side of the road. You tell me what you want to do about Christmas and I’ll be perfectly fine with it. Okay?”

He takes her in his arms for a hug and kiss.

     “You are still the most extraordinary man I’ve ever met and I’m so in love with you, Markis. You’ve made our life together so sweet and wonderful. I don’t want to imagine life without you in it and all these plane trips back and forth with the weather changing in the mountains now, I can’t help but worry more about your safety too.”

     “I know, Sweetheart, but really, flying there is a lot faster and safer than driving and I hate trains. Don’t ever want to get on another train in my lifetime. I’m lucky to still be here, you know.”

     “I know. You go and take care of your Mom. Give her my love and call me as soon as you land.”

     “I will, Baby. And hey---” he says pulling her back into his arms. “Christmas is coming---buy anything you want to. Max the cards---hell, increase the line----or take out new ones!” he smiles, “let’s make this the best Christmas EVER!”

She giggles and kisses him on the chin, “how about we pay off the house first?”

He leans in for another kiss, a long and meaningful kiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

     Markis and Jon were two hours into the four-hour flight when a cell phone rings. Markis, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, looks at Jon. Both men fumble for their phones.

     “It’s me” he says checking out the caller listed as unknown, “you’ve reached Markis” he answers. “Yes, Ma’am, I remember, how are you? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. What? Oh, my God, I’m so sorry. When did it happen? Wow” he says in a low tone, “so, so sorry, Mrs. Chester. I hadn’t heard. Thank you so much for calling me back. Is there anything I can do for you? Yes, Ma’am, they were. Yes, she talks a lot about him too. Okay. Yes, Ma’am, I understand. Again, my condolences. If you ever need anything, please call. Goodbye Mrs. Chester.”

Obviously devastated, Markis drops his hand with the phone onto his lap, staring straight ahead.

     “You okay, Mr. Kobair? Bad news?” asks Jon.

     “Yeah, especially for my Mother. The friend she’s been asking to see passed away a few days ago. Heart attack. I don’t know how I’m going to break that to her. Maybe I shouldn’t under the circumstances. She’s dealing with enough already.”

     “Sorry, Mr. Kobair. Seems you’ve had more than your share on the plate too. If you ask me, you’ve been on the rollercoaster from hell for some time now.”

     “Yeah, Jon, you’ve got that right. Highs and lows for sure.”

     “We’ve still got a couple of hours of flight left. Why don’t you go recline a seat and try and get some rest? Figure all this out when you get there. You’ll know better what to say or not say to your Mom when you see her.”

     “Best advice I’ve had all day, Jon. Thanks. I believe I will.”

 

     Jenalise only picked at her dinner and now she’s refusing the snack Olivia brought to her. She wants only to sit in her rocking chair and stare at the portrait of her fictional character on the wall. Olivia huffs in defeat and sits the plate on the bed table. Patting Jenalise on the shoulder as she passes, she stops in front of the portrait, looking up at the handsome face.

     “Isn’t he magnificent?” Jenalise says in her most dreamy voice.

     “He is that, Miss Jenalise. He is certainly a handsome creation of your mind. If only he could have come to life when you first created him and whisked you away.”

     “It almost happened, Sweetie. If only I had been smarter and more aware. But I let my feelings for another blind me. And when my second chance finally rolled around, it was too late. Time has been stolen away from me.”

Olivia’s heart feels the pain in her voice. But the words aren’t making sense. She’s confusing fantasy with reality or combining the two to make sense of her past. Which is it? She kneels in front of Jenalise like an interested child to her Grandmother’s fables.

     “Miss Jenalise, I’m not sure I understand what you mean. What almost happened?”

     “I could have let him whisk me away, just like you said, but I was in love with another man. Randy Kobair was his name. Star quarterback of the football team, Captain of the Soccer team and the second most handsome man in the whole school. Markis’ dad. I pushed my Warrior aside until he gave up on me.”

     “The second most handsome?” Olivia asks.

     “Yes. There’s not a man alive that can hold a candle to that face right there” she points to the portrait.

     “Oh, I see. But Miss Jenalise, he’s not real. He’s what you created in that wonderful creative mind of yours.”

     “Oh, but he is real, Olivia. You even met him----at my birthday party. I danced with him. Didn’t you see us?”

Olivia frowns, thinking that Jenalise is still confused.

     “Miss Jenalise, I’m afraid you’re confusing things----”

     “No, my darling girl, I’m not confusing anything. My mind has been really clear these past few days. It’s strange, really, how different I feel this week, compared to last week. It’s almost scary. You know, they say a really sick and dying person will suddenly get much better just before they die.”

     “Miss Jenalise, don’t say things like that! It’s morbid. You’re not dying.”

She smiles down at Olivia, cupping her chin with her palm, “actually, I am.”

     “What? Miss Jenalise, who said that to you? I can tell you right now, it’s not true. You’ve just been a little sad lately. And as beautiful as that portrait is, I think it has a negative effect on you and we should take it down. You’ve been depressed ever since your son brought it here.”

     “Olivia, listen to me, child. There’s something no one but Dr. Seavers and myself know. I’m sure my time is near so I’m going to tell you but I want you to promise me, swear to me that you will not tell a soul. Do I have your word?”

     “Yes, Ma’am. You know you can trust me.”

     “I have cancer and there’s nothing that can be done now. Dr. Seavers says that it’s already advanced to stage four and even surgery won’t help. I’ve tried hard not to show how much pain I feel. You know yourself, that you are constantly asking me if I’m all right. I know you see it on my face sometimes. You’ve noticed how hard it is to stand and walk now. You’ve been the one to change my sheets and clean me up when I mess myself. I can’t control anything anymore. I know you’ve noticed that Dr. Seavers has been coming more often than before. He gives me medicine when we’re alone, to help with the pain. I made him promise not to tell any of you and not to put it on my chart here since none of you would be treating me for it. It wasn’t easy, but I got him to agree. I signed a form for him to relieve him of all responsibility of errors. My mood lately is not because of my mind, it’s because of the cancer. I feel so tired lately but I’m more alert than I’ve been in a long time. Looking at my portrait isn’t harming me, Sweetheart. It comforts me. Cian comforts me. And Cian is really Ty. Tyler Henderson, the man I danced with. He’s the one who painted that portrait. He read my Gothic Warrior story and he realized something that even I didn’t. The description of Cian was an exact description of him. The head you see in that portrait is exactly what Ty looked like when we were in high school and college. We were very close but not in a romantic sense, at least not for me because I was the most ignorant female on the planet. I pushed him away for the wrong man, Randy Kobair. Ty was a wonderful artist. He could draw and paint anything. He even painted himself perfectly. Right there is proof. He said that he didn’t intentionally pattern it by his own face, he just painted what I described and when he stood back and looked, he saw himself. He thought then that I was sending him a message that I loved him. And I did love him---still do---it’s just that back then, I wasn’t ‘in love’ with him. At least I didn’t think I was. I look back now and I’m not so sure I wasn’t. It’s strange that I would see his face in my head for Cian and not realize it, isn’t it? Anyway, he was here almost three months ago now and he still has those eyes. His hair has turned white and he’s aged, but the eyes haven’t changed. My hair has turned white and I’ve aged and my eyes didn’t stay the same, but he still called me gorgeous and pretty lady, just like he did all those years ago. He even told me he wanted to propose to me but he wouldn’t because he knew that I didn’t want him to. Truth is, I did. I wanted that more than anything I’ve ever wanted, Olivia. But I couldn’t allow it. I had just found out the day before about the cancer. I couldn’t put him through that. I couldn’t burden him. Not now, not ever. But I owe him an explanation. He deserves that much and that’s why I need to see him. I want to fix things that I can before I go.”

Olivia’s tears are flowing uncontrollably. So much is making sense now. Of all the stories she has created, the reality of her real life is far more interesting, tragic, romantic and wonderful too. Just to have known her is a blessing. She didn’t know how to respond to her, what to say. No matter what she tried to say, if she opened her mouth, she’ll just start bawling like a baby. So, instead of fighting the knot in her throat, she pulled herself up and practically onto Jenalise’s lap and hugged her tightly.

     “I love you, Miss Jenalise.”

Jenalise wraps her arms around the tiny young woman, “I love you too, Dear. You’ve made this past year better than I ever imagined it could be in a nursing home.”

     “Would you like for me to run you a bath? Your son should be arriving soon. You want to be all fresh and ready for a visit.”

Jenalise nods as Olivia dries her tears.

     “Great!” she smiles. “I stopped at the mall on my way in and picked up a bottle of bath salts. It smells heavenly. I’ll go get that and you can try it out first. If you like it, I’ll stop again on my way home and get another one for me.  I’ll be right back. Don’t try and get up. I’ll help you when I get back. Promise me you’ll stay put?”

     “I promise” she smiles.

Olivia blew her nose and shoves the tissue into her pocket as she unstops the door to let it close. When she turns, she nearly runs into Markis. He’s leaning against the wall, pale as a ghost and teary eyed.

     “Mr. Kobair! You’re here already. I was about to draw a bath for your Mom----are you all right, Mr. Kobair?” she asks, taking the bag from his hand. He looks down at her and sees that she’s been crying too.

     “How could she keep something so vital from us? I can’t believe she would do that. And Dr. Seavers, why would he allow her to, knowing how her mind is?”

     “You heard everything?” she whispers.

     “From the moment she refused to eat the snack.”

     “Oh, Mr. Kobair, I’m so sorry. That was a lot of information to be hearing like that for the first time. Is there anything I can do?”

     “No, thank you, Olivia. You go on and do what you were going to do. I just need a moment to pull it together before I go in. I’ll be okay.”

     “Yes, sir.”

How he would break the news to her about Ty just became even harder. This news is going to devastate her and she doesn’t need to be upset like that considering her condition. Cancer. He still can’t understand how she could keep this from him. He wants to be angry about it but-----she’s dying. He’s not going to let her die knowing he was disappointed in her. He thought about his own son and daughter who are both away at college. What if this situation was his, would he keep this from his children until the very end? Probably. Lauren would be there for him. Why put the kids through such worry and grief when there’s nothing they can do? But she didn’t have a spouse to stand by her-----no, but she had Dr. Seavers and now Olivia. She wasn’t alone. His nerves are calming now. He pulls his cell phone out and dials the doctor’s number. He speaks very quietly.

     “Dr. Seavers? Markis Kobair. I’m at the nursing home and I’m standing outside my Mom’s room. I just overheard a conversation she was having with Olivia and I just need confirmation on what I heard and please don’t give me that doctor patient confidentiality garbage. I have Power of Attorney over her affairs and I’m taking care of her and all her needs on my own. I deserve to know everything. Doctor, does my Mom have stage four cancer? Is she dying?”

Markis slides to the floor, choking on air as the words come into his ear, “I see----yes, I understand. How long do you think she has?-----I understand. The call I received from Olivia earlier today makes better sense now.----No, no, that won’t be necessary. No, Sir, I’m not. I know better. It’s fine----I can handle it. You’ll be by in the morning? What time, I want to be here.----Seven a.m., gotcha. Thank you, Dr. Seavers---I’m sorry, what’s that? I have a copy with me and I’ll bring it to you in the morning. Goodnight, Sir.”

Markis is still sitting on the floor holding his cell phone when Olivia comes through the double doors. She hesitates for a moment at the sight of him on the floor. Quietly, she jogs down the corridor to him, kneeling by his side.

     “Mr. Kobair, you okay?” she says, dropping the bags by her side.

Markis turns his face toward her, his eyes watered. He holds up his phone.

     “I just talked to Dr. Seavers. It’s all true. He says she could have maybe a week left, Olivia. Why is this happening to her?----to me, to us? All her life she’s taken care of everyone around her. Worked herself to death to give me everything----put me through school----helped raise my kids so we could save money on daycare---so we could buy a house. She sacrificed her whole life so that I would have one. She doesn’t deserve this, Olivia, she doesn’t---I don’t know what I’m going to do----I need to call my wife----no, I shouldn’t do that now, I’m too upset. She’s at home and it’ll just worry her. Geez, I don’t�"I don’t know what to do----”

Olivia pulled him into her arms and that small gesture broke him into tears. She cried right along with him. Within minutes, Nurse Taylor is running toward them.

     “Olivia? What’s wrong? Is Miss Jenalise okay? Mr. North is in his room so what’s happened?”

     “Shhh, Janet, it’s okay. Mr. Kobair just got some bad news and he got a little upset and rightly so. He’ll be all right in few minutes. Miss Jenalise is fine. She doesn’t know he’s here yet, so don’t tell her if you go inside.”

     “Is there anything I can do, Mr. Kobair? Call someone for you?----Your wife, Maybe?” Nurse Taylor asks.

     “No---” he says taking a deep breath and wiping his eyes with the heel of his palm. “I’m fine. Thank you, Olivia, for being here. I’m glad it was you to witness my meltdown instead of a stranger. I’ll be all right now. If you Ladies would just point me in the direction of the nearest Men’s Room----”

Both women point, “first door around the corner there, Mr. Kobair. I’ll go back in with Miss Jenalise and help her with her bath while you collect your bearings, okay? I won’t say anything about you being here” Olivia tells him as she helps him up, “just in case you change your mind about seeing her tonight.”

     “Collect my bearings----nicely put, Olivia. Thank you, Ladies. Thank you.”

Markis walked slowly down the corridor, lightly touching the wall for support. He disappears around the corner.

     “What was going on here, Olivia?”

     “Just what I told you, Janet. He had a phone call and received some bad news. Can’t you tell he’s exhausted? The news was just too much. He’s been making so many trips back and forth and trying to work. He’s worried about his Mom. He just had a weak moment and everything came crashing down on him. Everything’s fine now. I know you probably saw us on the monitor and it probably looked inappropriate but I assure you, it was purely innocent. He was falling apart and I just wanted to console him. That’s all. He’s been good to me and it was the least I could do for him. I’m sorry if you disapprove.”

     “No, of course not, Olivia. I was just concerned. I didn’t know what had happened. My first thought was Mr. North had gotten to Miss Jenalise again but I saw on the monitor that was still in his room so, then I thought something had happened to Mr. Kobair. I only came to help. You go on inside and help Miss Jenalise get ready for her visit. I’ll wait for Mr. Kobair and make sure he’s okay to see his Mom tonight. We don’t need her upset too.”

 

     Markis quietly opens his Mother’s door and sticks his head inside. The bathroom door is closed and outlined in the light from inside. Olivia’s soft giggles bleeds through. He enters and closes the door, resting against it for a moment. How is he going to get through this visit without breaking down again? How is he going to keep it from her that he knows her secret? She’s always been able to read him. She’ll know that something is on his mind. He grabs at his pocket for the cell phone going off, quickly retrieving it before his mother hears it.

     “Hey” he whispers, “I’m sorry, Honey, I haven’t had a chance to call you. I’m here and everything is-----good. I love you.----No, everything’s fine, fine. I went by the hotel first and checked in and then I stopped to grab a bite to eat, I was starving and then I came here. I ran into Olivia in the hallway and we had a talk about how Mom’s been doing before I went in. Olivia’s giving her a bath right now, I haven’t seen her yet. No, no, nothing’s wrong, I’m just tired, Honey, it’s been a long day. Can I call you tomorrow, Olivia’s about to bring Mom in. Yes, I will, I promise. I love you, Lauren. Goodnight.”

He pushes away from the door and shuffles toward the rocking chair. Before he reaches the chair, he stops in front of the portrait on the wall. Seeing it reminds him of the news he received from Ty Henderson’s relative. ‘I heard your message on Tyler’s phone and thought I’d better call you and let you know the news. Tyler passed away on Sunday. He had a massive heart attack. Please tell your Mother how sorry we are that she didn’t get to see him again. He talked about her all the time.’

He found himself staring up at the man’s face and the resemblance is uncanny. He could see that it was a much younger version of the old man he had met just a few months back. His eyes fell to the lower right corner of the portrait and just above the wooden frame is the artist’s signature, Ty Henderson .

     “Markis, you’re here!”

His Mother’s voice startles him out of his trance. He turns to find Olivia holding tightly to her upper arm as she assists her toward the rocking chair. His stomach draws in knots when he sees how much she has aged since his last visit just two weeks ago. Her hair is down form the usual bun at the base of the neck and is longer than he’s ever seen it before. It’s like white cotton framing a pale face and flowing down past her waist. She’s wearing the pink nightgown under the matching housecoat and terrycloth slip-ons. He shoves down the lump in his throat and squashes the thoughts in his head to rush over and help Olivia get her to the padded rocking chair she loves so much. She eases onto the chair with a grunt and a sigh.

     “Thank you, my darlings. You both take such good care of me. I love you both so very much. How are you, Son? Did Lauren come with you?”

     “No, Ma’am, she had some things she needed to take care and said to give you her love and that she’ll see you next----time.”

     “Miss Jenalise, is there anything else I can do for you before I leave you in better hands?”

     “No, Dear, I think you definitely earned your wage today, young lady, having to put up with me.”

     “It’s a pleasure being around you, Miss Jenalise. Thank you for telling me the story again---for the twentieth time. I just love that one. I can see why it was your favorite, Mr. Kobair. It’s mine too. Well, you two enjoy your visit. I’ll be by to check on you at bed check, Miss Jenalise.”

The old woman smiles and Markis rushes to get the door for Olivia.

     “Thank you again, Olivia, for everything” he whispers at the door. She nods a sweet smile and pulls the door closed. He hesitates to turn around, fighting back his emotions.

     “I hope you weren’t waiting long, Son. I know you must be tired----working all day and then flying all the way here. Have you eaten?”

‘Always being a mother’ he thinks. He takes a breath and walks over to her to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

     “Hey, Mom, how are you feeling?”

     “Oh---like an old woman weary and worn. It’s to be expected, I guess.”

     “Mom, you may have some age on you, but you’re not worn. You’re beautiful as ever.”

     “Maybe to you. The rest of the world sees me as I am” she says nonchalantly. “Did you come alone, Markis? You didn’t bring a certain somebody with you?”

     “A certain somebody?”

     “Olivia didn’t give you my message? I thought that was why you came.”

     “Oh, the message. Yes, she gave me the message. I couldn’t get in touch with Mr. Henderson. I’ll keep trying. But I’m here and I plan to spend the next five days with you. We’ll do whatever you want to do.”

     “Five days! You’ve taken off from work for a vacation? Shouldn’t you be spending it with Lauren?”

     “Mom, Mom, I’ve got some great news to tell you. Remember when I told you I was working on a big important Real Estate deal? I closed it today. I made a ton of money on it. I earned this time off. Dylan’s still my partner and he’s taking care of the business while I’m away. So, don’t worry about it. I’m free to spend time with you for a change.”

     “You don’t want to spend five days with an old woman not able to walk across the floor on her own anymore. You need to take your wife somewhere special and forget about me.”

She doesn’t realize she’s tearing his heart out. He can hardly hold back the tears.

     “Mom, I will take Lauren some place special, I promise. There’s plenty of time for that. This time is for you. Just you and me. I’m sorry I couldn’t bring Mr. Henderson with me. Olivia said it was important that you see him. Is there something you want me to message him----I really don’t know when or if I’ll be able to get him here, but I can message him.”

She looks up at him with watery eyes, “I was really hoping to tell him in person. I owe him that much” she replies, shifting her eyes to the portrait. “Did I ever tell you that he painted that?”

     “Yeah, Mom, you’ve told me----many times. He did a fantastic job. He made Cian look just like you described him in the story. I still remember that story well. I always will. Would you like for me to message him---Mr. Henderson?”

     “I guess you better if I’m going to let him know what I need to tell him. I may never see him again----just like before, he may disappear for a very long time.”

Markis wasn’t sure what that meant but he pulled out his phone and was ready to text to no one.

     “Okay, Mom, I’m ready. What do you want to tell him?”

     “Don’t you laugh at what I have to say now, Son. I know we are old and you young people don’t like to hear old people talk romance. You’ll be old one day too and you’ll realize that age really doesn’t have anything to do with how the heart feels. Old people can still love too.”

Markis sat back, giving her a disappointed look, “when have I ever made fun you, Mom? I would never do that. Don’t forget, I was at your birthday party. I saw the two of you dancing. I saw how you looked at each other. I even saw him give you a kiss that shocked you speechless. And you know what? It didn’t embarrass me a bit and I didn’t make fun of it either. I saw two grown people who cared about each other more than even they realized. I knew even before that moment that Mr. Henderson was in love with you and that he has always been in love with you. I’m your Son and he’s not my father but I wish he had of been. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dad, but I always knew that he didn’t love you like he should’ve----to be your husband. When he left, I was actually kind of glad. I was too young to know that I couldn’t really take care of you myself, but that was my plan. Growing up, I never knew about Mr. Henderson but a few hours in one night I learned real quick that he would’ve been the better man for you. He was always in the back of your mind, Mom. That story is proof. That portrait is proof. You were wishing for a hero to come take you away, so, you created one----you gave him the name Cian even though you were writing about Ty Henderson. He was the Warrior that beat up my Dad for hurting you. He was the Knight in Gothic armor protecting you. That face in the portrait is the face of the real man that loved you and you loved him too----long before you realized it. So, I promise to never make fun of you or any elderly person I see or hear professing their love to someone. What do you want to tell the man of your dreams?”

Jenalise pulls tissue from her pocket and wipes her eyes and nose. She clears her throat and fiddles with the tissue in her lap.

     “Markis, how did you know about Ty and your Dad----about the fight?”

     “It was an eight-hour flight, Mom. We had to find something to talk about. I flew to South Dakota to pick him up. We started talking about how you two met and it went from there. He told me everything he could remember----and trust me, he remembered a lot. I think he was still proud that he beat Dad up. Do you still want me to message him?”

     “Tell him-----the kiss was wonderful and I’ll be waiting for him on the other side. He’ll know what it means.”

     “That’s it?”

     “That’s all. He’ll understand.”

     “Okay” he replies, hitting the delete button. “There, it’s on its way.”

     “Thank you, Son.

Markis swallows hard, knowing that he had just lied about sending the message. He glances to the portrait and for some reason he felt relieved. The lump in his throat instantly dissolved. It seemed that Cian’s eyes were dead on him. Those hazel, almond shaped eyes looked almost alive. It was like he could sense a smile in them. He shook his head and looked back at his Mom. She had stopped rocking and was drifting off to sleep.

     “Mom?”

Shaking his head again, he pushed his phone down in his pocket and pulled back the bed covers. His chest tightens when he feels how light she is when he lifts her from the chair and places her in bed. He can’t help but notice the bright colored plastic band around her wrist. He examines it and the small canister of mace that he had bought for her falls from inside her sleeve. He rolls it between his fingers for a moment, shaking his head. It made him remember everything she’s been through since bringing her here. And that she’s still afraid for her own safety. Tears plummet as he covers her. He leans over and kisses her forehead, “I love you, Mom” he whispers.

He switches off the lamp on the bed table and makes his way around the bed, once again stopping at the portrait and looking up into Ty’s face, “look after her for me” he whispers and quietly walks out.

Markis hates to leave, but Mom is sleeping and he’s exhausted. He would come back early enough to have breakfast with her. His tired body is shuffling down the corridor, his eyes to the floor when he bumps shoulder to shoulder with a man dressed in a dark coat and hat.

     “Excuse me, Sir, I’m sorry. I wasn’t look----ing”

But the man keeps walking, ignoring Markis. He watches for a moment and when the man never turns or says anything, he proceeds to the double doors. He keys in his personal code and the doors open. As he’s about to walk through, a voice calls out.

     “Hey! Can you hold them a moment?”

An Orderly is backing out of a room, pulling a cart with snacks and beverages. Markis stood in the doorway to keep the doors from closing.

     “Thanks. I appreciate it” he says, rolling the cart past him. “I hate that there is only one patient on this hall that gets an evening snack. It’s so much trouble to key in codes and get this cart through the door before it closes on me again. Thanks again.”

     “Sure” Markis replies and heads on towards the Nurse’s station.

Olivia is there, entering data on the computer. She looks up as the Orderly passes by. She speaks cheerfully to him and then sees Markis coming toward her. She stops what she’s doing, surprised that the visit is over so soon.

     “Is everything all right, Mr. Kobair? Leaving so soon?”

     “Mom’s asleep. I put her in bed and turned the light out. You might want to check on her in just a little bit, please.”

     “Sure.”

     “I’ll be back in the morning to have breakfast with her. Please let her know.”

     “Sure.”

     “Goodnight, Olivia.”

     “Goodnight, Mr. Kobair. Try and have a restful night.”

Walking away, he waves off in response. Olivia watches him until he’s out the exit door and disappearing into the night. She shuffles her papers and resumes her work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

     Jenalise is having the most wonderful dream. Her Gothic Warrior is walking toward her as she waits at the end of the path. She quivers with excitement and anticipation of feeling his strong arms holding her, his sweet kisses devouring her. She twists a thick curl of her long jet-black hair around her fingers, bouncing on her tiptoes. She’s more like a giddy child instead of a young woman in a flowing white gown of satin and lace.  Blushing cheeks highlight the fair skin as supple as a baby’s bottom. Rays of sun streaming through the trees gives her Warrior a golden halo to match his golden hair whisking in the breeze. She can’t wait to be in his arms. She gives in to her feet and runs toward him. He stops. She stops when she sees the look of worry on his face. His mouth is moving but she hears nothing. He looks as though he’s trying to warn her of something. Suddenly, the sun is blocked and the shine of his armor is only a glint here and there. Then a pain rips through her mid-section bringing her awake. She can’t breathe. Her hands instinctively grab and tear at her throat but there are already hands there---wrapped around her throat. She struggles to see as she’s gagging. He’s on top of her, his knee pressing into her stomach. She can’t see his face but she sees the outline of a hat, like a Fedora. She’s pulling at his hands and feels the canister getting in the way. She manages to grasp it.

     “DIE! WHY WON’T YOU STAY DEAD, B***H! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO KILL YOU TO MAKE YOU STAY DEAD?” he yells.

Beginning to lose consciousness, she manages to make the can spray. He quickly let go and jumps off of her, holding his face and sneering his curses. Jenalise feebly pushes herself off the bed, coughing and gasping for breath. She pulls herself across the floor to the bed table and tries to pull herself up. She’s too weak so she pulls the lamp cord until the lamp falls to the floor. She fumbles with it until she’s able to turn it on. It was something she remember that Olivia told her to do if she needed something in the night. The light coming on will make the monitor at the Nurse’s Station light up and they would know she was awake. She had sent the message and could only hope that they would see that she was in trouble. She rolls to her back, still gasping for breath and trying to swallow. It feels as though he has crushed her esophagus. She sees his feet on the other side of the bed, coming around the bed now. Panic brings bile to her throat. She finds herself looking at the portrait and silently praying, ‘please come, my love.’

The old man stands over her breathing like a mad bull. He reaches down to pull her by the hair. She knows what is coming next. He’s done this before. To blind herself of the pain, she focuses on her portrait. The old man has her in a choke hold, mumbling obscenities in her ear. ‘This is it’ she thinks. ‘He’s going to kill me for sure this time.’ She’s doing her best to keep her eyes on those hazel almond shaped eyes that have always comforted her. But when the tears blinked away, her Warrior was not there. There was only a forest within the frame. She feels her body drop to the floor. She doesn’t know what’s happening. She only wants to get away from him. She pulls her body across the floor and when he doesn’t attack her again, she rolls over to look back. She doesn’t believe her eyes. The old man’s feet are dangling just inches off the floor. Now his hands are grasping and tearing at hands clutching his throat. The armor is so bright its almost blinding. She tries to speak and can’t. Pain rips through her head and neck causing her to yell out. The hazel eyes turn toward her. Holding back her need to scream, she shakes her head at him, silently telling him to not kill the old man. The Warrior drops the old man across the bed, leaving him gasping and coughing. He then turns to Jenalise, pulling the gauntlet from his wrist and hand. He holds out his hand to her. Shaking, she can barely lift her arm. He gently takes her hand and effortlessly pulls her to her feet. He pulls her behind him toward the wall. He stops and turns toward the bed, giving the old man a deadly glare, “never raise thy hand to another woman. I shall watch you the remaining days of your life.”

Jenalise had heard those words before, perhaps in her story. She glances back to the old man. He looks terrified, in shock as he watches the Warrior step up invisible steps to the path in the portrait and with him, Jenalise. The Warrior takes his pose but in place of his shield, he’s holding around the waist a beautiful young woman with long black hair wearing a flowing white gown. She’s looking up at him as he looks down to her. The tight lined mouth he had before is now a subtle smile. She has the most beautiful, peaceful, loving expression on her face.

     The door swings open and George, Jake and Olivia barge in and stop dead in their tracks looking at the horrific scene. Olivia slaps her hand over her mouth to prevent the scream she wanted to let out.

     “Oh, dear god----dear god” George says lowly.

     “I’ll call the Director and the police” Jake says. “Can you handle him on your own?”

     “He’s not going to give me any trouble. Looks like he’s in shock.”

Olivia is on her knees beside Jenalise’s twisted body. It’s obvious that her neck is broken. Olivia saw that her eyes were open and it seemed to her she was just staring at something. She looked in the direction they were aimed. She gave a sharp quick shrill and fell back on her behind. George jerked his attention in her direction. Startled, he asks, “what?”

Olivia can’t speak. She could only point. George turned his head and saw the portrait. He had never seen it before.

     “What?” he asks again.

Olivia just stared. There was no point in trying to explain. No one would believe her anyway----except maybe her son, Markis.


THE END

 


© 2019 Rhayne


Author's Note

Rhayne
Just looking for opinions and interest.

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It was a bit confusing trying to keep up with the characters and what was happening in the story, however I enjoyed that twist at the end, I wasn't expecting it at all so it was a nice surprise. Some of the dialogue ran a little long, but it was still and interesting story, good job.

Posted 1 Week Ago



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Added on September 3, 2019
Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Author

Rhayne
Rhayne

Nashville, NC



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Time to spare now in this MeMa's lair and what better thing to do than what I love second to my Grandchildren; Write. I have so many stories I need to dust off and finish. I love that I've found this .. more..

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