"Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned."
Early the next morning, Miss Parker stood in her father's office, staring at one of the paintings that adorned the walls, waiting for him to arrive. All of the African art Lyle had redecorated with while he was in charge had been replaced. She didn't ever really believe that it fit her brother's taste, more that he was simply kissing the Triumvirate's ass. The piece she was looking at now had been a gift from her mother. It was a Picasso and she remembered helping her pick it out for him. Parker stared at the abstract painting and likened it to her own life. None of the pieces had ever fit together quite right and she didn't know if they ever would. The lies and the deceit were so deeply rooted that she wasn't sure if she would ever know the complete truth.
The more she learned about her father over the years, the more she thought that he couldn't have ever really loved her mother. How could he claim to yet let Raines abuse her the way he did? He had to know that Raines had murdered her in cold blood. Her blood boiled just thinking about it and at times her hate for Raines scared her so much that she was afraid she might drown in it. It wasn't healthy to think about murdering another human being, if Raines could be called that, but how could she help it? Forced to work with and take orders from the man that killed her mother while her father watched on silently, all for some mysterious greater cause that had been kept a secret from her?
She whipped around at the sound of his voice and was even more alarmed to find that only some of the hatred she was feeling had dissipated. Her heart pounded in her ears and her stomach burned, but she didn't let it show. It was a hard thing, coming to the realization that man you loved as your father was nothing more than a monster.
He smiled at her and kissed her cheek, apparently unaware of the silent rage building inside of her. "It's so good to have you back." Mr. Parker squeezed her shoulders and then seated himself at his desk.
Parker watched as he sorted through a stack of mail and took the time to calm herself. "I'm glad to be back, Daddy," she lied, "but I need some answers."
"I thought we'd been through this," he said sternly, abandoning his mail.
"And yet I'm still in the dark," she argued. "In the past, I was willing to follow orders without questioning them, but not anymore." He simply stared and she continued. "Daddy, not long ago, I saw you jump out of a plane with the scrolls. How did you survive? What did they say? Why has Jarod always been the key and what is the point of all this?" she demanded.
"Did Jarod put all this in your head?" he growled. "Are you sure you haven't spoken to him?"
"I told you, I haven't." She had to stop herself from yelling the words and she watched as her father's face softened once again.
"I know, Angel…I'm sorry. Things have been stressful lately," he explained. He was silent for a moment before continuing. "The scrolls revealed a lot of things to me, made so many things clear. Your mother was suffering at the Centre, but it shouldn't have been that way." He had said something similar right before jumping out of the plane and as Parker listened to him, she thought saw sincerity in his eyes. Maybe a part of him did love her mother. "She passed on so many gifts to you," he continued, "your beauty, your determination. You play an important part in the prophecy, Angel."
"What does that mean?" Parker interrupted. He was telling her so much, yet nothing at the same time. "I thought you said Jarod was the key?"
"He is. And we need him here at the Centre. The scrolls mention him…and you," he said, leaving the words hanging.
"What about me?" she asked cautiously.
Mr. Parker stood from his desk and walked over to the window. "You're the future of the Centre, Angel. I won't live forever. Someone has to continue the legacy when I'm gone."
Parker sighed, knowing she wouldn't get a straight answer from him. "I've got work to do." She made her way to the exit, wishing she knew where the scrolls were so she could read them herself. Mr. Raines walked in just as she reached the door and she stopped in her tracks, staring at the ghoulish man. Her rage returned instantly. God how she hated him, yearned to pull the 9mm from the holster at her back and use it.
"We'll continue this discussion later, Sweetheart," her father said. She didn't bother acknowledging him, but continued from the room, stopping just out of sight as she heard Raines begin to speak.
"She's getting too suspicious," he said. "We don't know the truth about where she's been all this time. We can't rely on her loyalty."
"You just leave her to me, Raines. She still has too many questions and the answers lie within the Centre. She won't be going anywhere."
"What about the attempt on her life? If Miss Parker were to die then the prophecy…" he was cut off by Mr. Parker's booming voice.
"I know what the scrolls say! You just make sure you keep your son in line," he said dangerously.
Parker's mouth fell open as she listened. So it was true. Raines was their real father. Tears stung her eyes and she blinked them away. Of course she had known it was a possibility, but for it to actually be realized was a shock. Gathering herself, she quickly moved away from the office and down the hallway.
Looking around the small hotel room he was staying in for the night, Jarod felt like the walls were closing in on him. He was angry with Parker for making him doubt her, but what else could he think? When he found out she had left, he only expected that things had become too much for her and maybe she needed to get away for a while, but he never expected to find that she had gone back to the Centre, the root of all evil, of all their pain. He couldn't understand why she would return to that awful place when she had finally felt what freedom could be like. He also wondered if maybe he wasn't what she wanted after all. It wasn't the first time it had happened. They had become close when they were in Carthis, like when they were children, but she had turned her back on him in the end. He hated to think it, but maybe Zoë had been right. Parker made her choice and not even his love for her had stopped her from leaving.
Parker paced back and forth as Broots typed away rapidly on his keyboard. Time was of the essence. There was no telling what kind of torture Ethan had been exposed to at the hand of Raines and she needed to find him quickly and get him out. Before, when she needed access without being seen, it was easy to simply have Broots trip a few wires or delay a security camera, but changes had been made while she was gone. There seemed to be a lot more sweepers lurking the halls and even more security cameras that Broots hadn't yet been able to access. Now, she had him searching for anything he could find about this mysterious Sear person. She was trying her hardest not to snap at Broots to search faster, but patience never was her strong point.
"There's nothing here, Miss Parker," Broots sighed. "I've scanned all of the databases and nothing has come up that would lead us to whoever this Sear guy is. Maybe Raines has gotten smart enough not to discuss his business in a memo."
"Raines is like a tiger, Broots. He can't change his stripes. There has to be something we're missing," Parker said, pacing. She wracked her brain for anything that might help them and she suddenly remembered something she had read in Ocee's cottage. It looked like an old history book of some sort and she had scanned through it, recalling words about witchcraft and the accusations and torture that ultimately came with it during those times. One story told of a man who had been accused of sorcery and she remembered thinking it odd. Of all the history she had ever studied, women were usually the ones accused of being witches.
"Broots," she said as she quickly moved over to his computer.
Feeling himself being pushed aside, he watched shocked as she began typing rapidly. "I thought I was the only one who knew how to access the database," he said surprised. Just another amazing fact about the incredible woman, he thought as he looked at her love struck. The computer beeped twice and he looked at it to see that search results had come back for the word S-E-E-R. "Seer," he said aloud. "You mean…like a prophet?"
"That's exactly what I mean," Parker said, standing to her full height. "Go through these, Broots, and find me as soon as you have something." Her heels clicked loudly as she left the room.
Miss Parker walked through the hallways, her mind going in a million different directions. She didn't even notice when she walked right by Sydney.
"Miss Parker," he said. Her head snapped up and she stared at him blankly. "Walk with me," he asked. Parker did so without protest and they quietly made their way to his office. "Parker, you seem distracted. Is there something you wish to discuss?" he asked as they were seated.
She eyed him suspiciously. "Are you trying to trick me into a session with you, Sydney?"
He couldn't tell if she was jesting or not. "Merely a concerned friend," he said, smiling slightly. Parker remained quiet, staring at the wall above his head. "I spoke with Jarod last night," he offered, watching her closely for any reaction. He shouldn't have been surprised when he got none.
"And? Is he ready to turn himself in?"
Although Parker's face remained stoic, Sydney knew better. "I told him you were alive." She looked at him slowly. "His reaction was…strange, to say the least."
"Everything Jarod does is strange, Sydney," Parker said. She stood from her seat and folded her arms across her stomach. She knew exactly why Jarod had reacted that way, but she still wasn't ready to share the information with Sydney or anyone else. "Have you ever heard of someone named Sear?" she asked, purposely changing the subject and purposely leaving the pronunciation ambiguous. She didn't want to discuss Jarod anymore.
"I'm afraid I haven't," he told her.
"I think Raines has a new patient that he's keeping secret," Parker said. "Keep an ear out, would you, Sydney?" He nodded and she made her leave.
To be continued...