In childhood they played for sweets that could be and would be shared now it was winner take all and today he would bring his twin down regardless of the cost to himself.
The characters and some of the storyline belong to the writers of Sunset Beach, the modification and mistakes belong to me … oh yes this was done for fun not profit.
Ratings … well it's taken from the Soap Opera so anything goes but nothing too explicit.
Thanks to those who have read and reviewed my other stories … and of course any comments/reviews are always welcome.
Vengeance, lies, deceit, trust and love.
Hidden in the early morning shadows as he stood watching Surf Central the man was suddenly surrounded by memories of his childhood. And was again sitting opposite his twin as their towers of playing cards tumbled into heaps due to their giggling and competitiveness during the game and their parents halved the prize, a bar of chocolate, and gave it to them with hugs and laughter. This warm family scene and feeling was touched by the cold knowledge those days were gone and the prize was for one winner only and was a life with a home and fortune which he'd lost to his twin ... till today. Today things would change because he would play the game and topple his twin's tower and bring him down for the final time regardless of the cost to either of them.
His mind immediately cleared as two women came out of house he'd been watching and started to walk slowly away from him and into town. He released a quick short almost silent sigh of relief as he recognised the sisters and realised they still lived there and were together, so this part of his hunt was over. Watching them closely his heart flipped and his need grew stronger as Meg flicked her shoulder length black hair away from her face while turning and laughing at something her sister Sara must have said to her. Hearing the faint laugh in the quiet morning and seeing her happiness increased memories of what he'd missed, longed for and couldn't have. They were so strong he could feel her body next to his, smell her scent and unconsciously started to move towards them so he could snatch her away from her sister and the day ... take her and hid her.
He froze in his tracks, as the door to Surf Central opened and a handsome young man with short blonde hair ran out calling the sisters names. Still frozen and hidden the watcher recognised the man and silently recalled his name - 'Casey Mitchum' while watching him join them … putting his arm round Sara's shoulders then pulling her into a brief loving kiss before all three walked happily on their way.
As soon as they were out of sight the man silently released the breath he'd been holding, letting what he'd seen sink into his body and mind. Hope that would quell his desperate need for Meg while revelling in the knowledge she was still there … still free.
With them gone he was now torn … valuable time was passing but he didn't want to get caught in the act should one come back for something they'd forgotten. Not only that, he needed anyone watching to look away or not find his movements suspicious ... like that of someone seeing the owners going out so was breaking in. …No more like someone coming to the house knowing how to enter and was entering with consent even if the owners were not there. That meant he could not rush anything nor could he hesitate once he started on his course of action …but most of all he didn't want to be recognised if seen.
He checked the area and saw the only people out were in the distance and walking away so unlikely to interfere and walked quickly and confidently out of the shadows as though he'd always been walking not stopped and watching. Without hesitating he went to where he knew Casey hid the spared door key …it was there they'd not moved it … and still in that one movement and not looking round retrieved and used it … it had taken a matter of seconds.
Closing and locking it behind him he breathed a sigh of relief there was still silence outside and then glanced around the living area … hoping he'd find what he wanted but also knowing if it was on view he could not take it because it would immediately be missed when they came home and he didn't want that. And if it was on view … then he would have to think of something else … and that would not be easy he didn't have the knowledge or time.
Of course being unable to see it brought its own problems … ones he hoped he could cope with. Unable to see it he went upstairs knowing that was the better bet than the kitchen, but as he went by Meg's bedroom door the urge to have something of hers was strong … almost too strong for him to bear. Visualizing her again his gloved fingers brushed the door handle, but after a slight hesitation he shook his head and quelled the thought - that he'd just pop in for the smell of her scent or the touch of her clothes or a scarf so it would satisfy his need for her. And knew it wouldn't be enough he wanted her beside him … touch her … speak to her … have her … so forced himself moved on to Casey's room and finish the job he started and not get caught. There was still the chance someone had dialled 911.
Once inside Casey's room he quickly but carefully searched the cupboards, drawers and even through a bag of clothes waiting to be passed on, frustration welled up because it wasn't there. He looked under the bed just in case it was there … it wasn't so he looked round the room again and spotted the dirty clothes bin hidden by a chair and knew it would hold both Casey's and Sara's things. … Reluctantly he started to look through it mindful of the fact he needed things to be put back in the right order …and finally he found what he'd been looking for and left its partner behind knowing he couldn't take it with him.
Checking the black hooded sweatshirt was dry and clean enough to wear, he then slipped it on hoping because it was in cleaning bin it would not be missed for a day or so. Or if it was Casey would think it was elsewhere possibly in the truck or at work … certainly would not consider a thief taking it and leaving the money that was in plain sight behind. Looking in the mirror he put the hood up to check his face was hidden … it was … now all he had to do was to remember not to stretch his arms too much and keep his shoulders hunched. After replacing the dirty washing in the right order he gave the room one last check then walked out leaving the bedroom door slightly ajar as he had found it and went downstairs.
Job done and starting to concentrate on the next step he let himself out, locked the door, returned the key to its hiding place then confidently walked and then upped the pace to a jog away from Surf Central. No one stopped him or paid any attention to him and once away from the house he was just one of the many male hooded joggers out for their early morning run. … He'd done it … he could now move around without being recognised.
Coming to a junction in the road he was tempted to make that small detour to visit the other house … but in the end resisted knowing that would come soon … for now he had keep to the plan as time was slipping by so quickly ... and carried on jogging in the right direction.
Spotting a group of College students outside the Java Web the man slowed to a walk and then tucked in behind them knowing they would distract the staff as they rushed in to get their morning fix of food and drink before catching the bus. Slouching even more to reduce his height and usual walk he moved in with them ready to slip out quickly if challenged or the place was full … and saw with relief a computer terminal in the corner was free. Hoping the other users would be to busy or would assume he was just another hooded student in a hurry to finish his work so wouldn't bother him he settled there. Knowing the drill and all the short cuts he quickly set up and sent an untraceable email, which when opened and activated would shake the foundations and bring his twin's tower of cards crashing to the ground. He shook his head slightly to get that image out of his mind … he didn't need that type of distraction now… he needed clear thoughts and action.
Clearing things from this end of computer he then took advantage of the continued movement and banter between staff and costumers and left the Java Web unchallenged. As he walked away his mind would not be silenced and instead of playing cards and games it was whether sending that email and trappings was against the law and whether it would work or not. Chiding himself to concentrate better he made his way down another alleyway knowing he could not afford to get lost, caught or distracted. Then checking it was safe and no one was in seeing or hearing distance and he would be able move on if someone came he got out the cell phone and his distracted mind consoled him he was going to give it back … so it was only the calls he would be stealing. Again he shook his head slightly to get rid of that thought and concentrated on the number he needed to key in … as he keyed it in he was pleased he remembered after all this time.
When it was answered he spoke in a brash, no arguments taken American accent, asking for the relevant officer by name and was pleased to find he was still working there and knew someone was going to be happy … for a while at least. As soon as he was transferred he briskly interrupted the man's the usual polite greeting by saying. "Mr Peters! I wish to report a food hazard at The Deep, Sunset Beach, for personal reasons I must remain unknown."
He nearly chuckled out loud with delight at the tone of the man's reply and assurance that the name would remain private but he needed to know it because the department had been caught out by hoax calls in the past.
Still checking around the coast was clear the man carried on in his disguised voice and brisk manner knowing the man's caution or time was not on his side. "It's Paul Danes, the boss of Danes Company."
Hearing Mr Peters stutter a grovelling reply he jumped on it with a sharp brash. "Yeah! That's the one! And you know I hate fuss." Knowing he'd got his man, and hoping his accent and voice would hold steady till the end he carried on playing the part saying. "Weell, my good woman loves eating at The Deep, is due there tonight so I decided to look at the kitchens and the rubbish bins outside. Weell I gueess it's not the young lad's fault so don't bring him into this at all understand!"
He let the man get two words of reassurance out before cutting him off sharply again. "Good! I'm glad you agree the blame lies at the top in this case. Weell I saw this rat in the bins. Kan't say it looked too healthy either. Before you ask I do know what a damn rat looks like! … certainly not a kitty with a thin tail nor it did have a suitcase so it was not passing through!" He added sarcastically with enough bite to make the man jump … know that his job was on the line if he messed up … having a hard reputation was sometimes a good thing.
Pausing for just a couple seconds to give the man time think he then carried on in the same tone. "Saw two small bodies behind the third cooker in the kitchen … gueess they were cockroaches once. Before you ask dead or they would have moved… but must have been alive once to have got there!" Next he then emphasised the words to make his point crystal clear. "So I want those kitchens stripped before my good woman and I eat there tonight or the place publicly closed before I start out for the eveening!"
He smiled as he listened to the reassurances and liking Mr Peters suggestion he kept the edge to his voice but added a pleasing tone and carried on."Weell thank you veery much indeed. I gueess the Italian might be a good substitute. Of course, if you do see me or mention this to anyone I will disown this conversation completely and you will be walking the streets for years to come." Then without waiting for reassurances he disconnected and pocketed the phone.
With a sigh he started to move on his way at a steady jog … the thought of just how much his twin was soon going to hate this beautiful sunny day was tinged with the knowledge he wouldn't be there to see it. But that didn't matter he already knew how his twin would feel and that would have be enough … time was passing and he needed to visit that other house.
Getting near Ocean Drive the man easily ducked back into the shadows of the trees just before his twin drove by and guessed he was going to The Deep. That meant time was moving on and shivered knowing he'd face death if found out and his growling stomach reminded him of the meals he missed and needed. Ignoring both he walked to another advantage point and as he settled hidden by the shadows he pondered if he should just make a phone call and hope…
But hearing Benjy's happy laugh and call back to his mother to follow him as he ran out of the house and onto the beach slammed him out of his thoughts and brought him close to tears. And while trying to shun the thought -innocent love … with the image of the Joker found on the playing cards from his mind - he saw Maria follow the boy. She was so obviously happy it took his breath away and tension ran through him as he expected the nanny to follow them. When she didn't he quickly wondered if she had moved on as once was planned and relaxed slightly getting his breath back as he watched them run down to the water's edge. Knowing to phone the house direct would be too risky … he couldn't have his voice on the answer machine or this call registered there so he keyed in the nanny's own phone to find out where she was.
It was picked up very quickly and this time he didn't disguise his gentle English accent or the tone of voice, he needed to reassure Tess and tell her he loved her. So without introduction he asked her gently "Is it safe to talk with you?"
Listening to the surprise in her voice as she reassured him it was, he then let the tone of his voice tell her he meant business rather than a love chat she might have expected and carried on. "Good, there's been a change of plan I need you to make sure Maria and Benjy are away from the house for a couple of hours at the most."
Hearing her huff and start to say she wanted them gone all day so they could get together he gently but firmly butted in. "No, not all day just part of the morning. It will be easier if you just listen." He let her sigh then butted in before she could get started again, the firmness in his voice was still there but he added a bit of sympathy to it as well. "I know it's been a strain but it's nearly over. You have to pack up the things I asked you to keep safe for me. Run through the list quickly so I know its right."
He listened to her checklist and smiled, then bringing back the firmness into his voice so she would do what he wanted and to stop her chatter as there wasn't time for that he said. "That's fine make sure the passports and tickets are easily available, pack our overnight things with a few extras for yourself and don't worry about Benjy's things we'll buy them later. We are going early tomorrow morning. I need you to take some vases and other light cash items from each room; pawn items only, nothing that would raise immediate alarms for a different crime. Take them to 137 Southern Avenue where you are to wait for me."
As Tess started to question him he cut in gently but firmly. "One more thing I need you move my bedside table, there is a secret draw that comes out from the back, and the top lip is the handle, you have to bang hard on the side nearest the bed to release it. Put it back afterwards no one must know about it, least of all Maria. You'll find a bulky sealed envelope which must remain sealed if it doesn't I will leave you behind."
Listening to her exclamation she could be trusted he jumped in quickly with a slightly harsh edge to make sure she understood what was to come clearly. "Yes, I know I can trust you but this must remain sealed so I can use it later. Stay at Southern Avenue till I arrive with Benjy in the morning and don't contact me at any cost … you will be safe there. If anyone asks tell them you are going to see a sick relative in Seattle that will account for your bags. I'll bring your treasure box with me Maria must see it's still there when she gets back from town; best leave a note for her to explain why you've suddenly gone.
He listened with interest as she huffed about missing the big 'do' in his honour tonight and as she finished he gently explained. "Tess. This is the only way I can get Maria to take that trip we need her to take. She'll want to get away from the house so will go." As Tess started to huff about Maria he brought her up sharp with a question. "What did I tell you about my brother and Maria?"
He was happy it deflected her and her answer made him smile and he added smoothly. "You'll just have trust me on that one and we will go to better 'dos' very soon. How about reminding Maria to get a new dress and a toy for Benjy to keep him happy about tonight?"
Shivering slightly he listened to her acceptance along with a reminder about their son's sleepover with a friend that night and she loved him and was pleased the waiting was finally over. He quietly reassured her of his love and it would be all right and rung off.
Pocketing the phone he silently watched Maria and Benjy playing as they gradually made their way up the beach towards the house. He then saw Tess come out calling Maria's name as she walked towards them. When they stopped and talked he couldn't help smiling because Maria had to grab the handbag Tess held out to her because Benjy suddenly ran towards the town obviously liking the idea of a new toy. Satisfied his plan would work and the house would be empty soon he made his way round to the front of the house and sat on the wall knowing the bushes and their shadows would hide him.
As he did not have a watch he had no idea of time but it did not feel too long before Tess came out with two overnight bags and hailed a passing taxi. That troubled him until he heard she was going to town and guessed she would get some cash and then walk to Southern Avenue so no one could trace her movements. When the taxi was out of sight, he checked around then made his way to the front door unlocking it with the hidden key and after shutting the door he swiftly put the numbers in to deactivate the alarm, waiting tensely in case they had changed the code. They had not. Keeping out of the view of the camera he eased himself round to the video recorder and switched if off then flashed it back to the point he wanted and cleared the tape then set back to the right point and turned it of. As in Surf Central he wore gloves so his fingerprints would not be found on anything he touched.
Standing looking across the lounge area he took in the familiar scents and scene and was slightly surprised nothing had been changed, his stomach growled reminding him he was hungry. He walked across to the fruit bowl on a side table and took a banana from the back of the pile hoping no one would miss it and ate it then put the skin in his pocket. As his wandering mind was starting to chatter again with memories of before he decided a drink of water might stop it or lessen it and made his way to the kitchen. Restricting himself to a small one as a large one could cause problems later he again made sure he left things as he'd found them.
Then he quietly made his way through the rest of the house tipping a few things from draws, cupboards and or shelves … he needed a mess … but not too much of a mess that might make the police think of a hate crime rather than a casual thief. Coming to Tess's room he looked around and found the trinket box she always treasured and knew she trusted him to take it to her in the morning. He opened it and after searching it he found the secret compartment and read the papers with interest before leaving the box with an edge of the paper showing hoping the police would see it later, and then he put a photo that had been in it on the dressing table so it was partially tucked under a brush.
Finding a scrap of paper he wrote several words on it so it looked as though it had been torn off a bigger list and took it with him. Finished he checked the room knowing Maria would notice what was missing and would understand and act on it. When he got to the study he scattered papers and looked at the sleeping laptop knowing it would just take a couple of seconds … touching a couple of keys … and he would know if that email had been open … and yet by doing that he could ruin everything so quelled that impulse and walked away … he needed to finish this job.
Back in the lounge area he removed his hooded and found a stone paperweight, going to the side door he opened it and checked to see who was nearby. No one was that close and the few people around were concentrating on the beach not the houses and guessed if he was seen no one would think of the twin possibility. After all there was only one now as far as everyone was concerned, so if word got around he'd been seen it would be assumed it was a memory from another day rather than today.
Even so he acted fast and carefully not wanting to take the risk. Staying on the outside he closed the door and covering the pane of glass nearest the door handle with a cloth to deaden the sound and broke it with the paperweight. There was little noise and no one turned to see what was happening so he went back in, closed the door but left it unlocked … and carefully avoiding the glass on the carpet put the paperweight back. Then he disturbed things in the room but not enough to shout 'break in' to any passer by should they have managed to look through the large net curtained glass doors. Of course if they noticed the side door it would be a different matter but the same out come… hopefully. Then he dropped that piece of paper on the floor so it could be seen on entering from the decking, guessing that would be 'her' entry if Benjy was still with her.
Job done he put the hooded top back on and with the hood up stood for a moment in hallway by the front door imagining 'her' reaction, hoping she would ring Antonio so he could look after Benjy at the Mission so keep him safe. Once the boy was collected she would look around, on finding the paper would check the other rooms then ring Ricardo understanding the part she had to play in the game. He nodded knowing that even if she rang Ricardo first it would work ... and she would know what to do when her brother took her through each room. The note was just a signal to her from him that this was not just a coincidence it was part of the game and she had her part to play.
Satisfied he carefully left the house leaving the key in its hiding place and became again a slow hooded jogger that no one really noticed.
Now he'd done those jobs and there was only one more piece to be put in place he found it more difficult to concentrate because his mind started to urge him not to retrace his steps but to turn away from the hell hole he had crawled from earlier and do the sensible thing regardless of the risks. He silently rebuffed that chattering thought – he knew what the end game was likely to be and needed the players to be safely gathered in. And yes there was a chance it could go wrong and if he wasn't in place to protect the ones he loved he might just as well have died months ago.
In any case he didn't have the strength or time to go back and it wouldn't be for long this time. And now time had a meaning for him unlike before when he could only think of vengeance and the love of two people to keep him going … to keep him sane. He smiled and almost giggled at the thought of sane … how sane was he … those thoughts of the card games with his twin were still haunting him … rather the cards were … and there were times when he also wondered where and who he was … and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other knowing this was the only thing he could now … he was playing his hand …
Suddenly seeing a group of men coming towards him he collected his meandering thoughts and neatly dodged them so they only saw his hooded head not his face and noticed they'd stopped talking as they came up to him. Could feel them glancing at him as he passed and knew to them he was just another hooded slow jogger to be avoided and forgotten and carried on jogging away from them.
It was even quieter now and turning into Southern Avenue he looked around for signs of danger … no problem … the road was deserted, as was the estate. His twin or Tess had chosen their hidey hole well … there were no owners around because there were none living there … the earthquake had rendered the area unsafe till the land settled and buildings renovated or demolished. His churning mind had got passed the fact he'd been gone four months but had picked up the fact he had not missed Christmas or New Year and that pleased him a lot.
Closer to his destination now he churning mind was going through all the things that could go wrong even though he'd managed to be brought here earlier than his twin expected him and with some unexpected help he had been able to put his plan for vengeance in place rather than sit and wait for a final fight to the death. He slowed to a walk because his energy from the adrenalin rush that had sustained him was disappearing fast and ironically the small drink of water he had earlier to stop his chattering mind and deprived body was now telling him it needed out.
From bitter experience he knew he needed to be comfortable for the wait, so he ducked behind a garden hedge and answered the call of nature then carried on. Then one house away from the one he had to enter … knowing he couldn't take anything in with him he left the hooded top and the banana skin under a hedge out of sight promising himself if all went well he'd tell someone about it so Casey could have the top back or buy him a new one.
Now there was only the jailer to face and shivering with cold and hoping the man was still fast asleep he made his way round the back of the house. Quietly he found the window with the broken latch, and just before opening it he put the last part of his plan in action and used the phone to send a text message to Ricardo's phone knowing the man would stubbornly find out the truth no matter what the cost. And if he didn't understand the message the call could be traced back to the jailer's phone and the truth could be found out that way.
Taking one last look around the mess that was once a garden, knowing it could be his last in life he then opened the window and slowly silently made his way back into the house and found his luck was still holding. The jailer still lay in a deep drunken stupor where he'd found him earlier. Wanting the phone to be found on the jailer rather than on the floor where he'd found it and mindful of the man he very carefully pressed man's hand on the phone so the fingerprints if taken would be right and then slipped it into the man's coat pocket. Relieved the man hadn't stirred at all he then stepped back and found a can of beer from the crate nearby and put it so it was touching the man's fingertips, hoping if he woke he would see it … feel it and would start drinking again so leave him in peace and be no trouble when the police found them.
He then silently left the kitchen dropping the gloves on the table where he'd spotted them earlier and reluctantly retraced his steps to the cellar … his prison ... his last card ... his last resting place. With those chattering thoughts he came to the door, turned the handle with the faulty lock, which allowed him his freedom and with a shove it gave again. He then went into the semi darkness and shut the door behind him hearing the clunk of the lock going back in. Slowly letting his eyes adjust he walked down the short flight of wooden stairs to where he'd been earlier and sat on the floor and then picked up the metal bands that fitted round his wrists and ankle and were fixed to wall by long chains and a metal ring … and shivered violently.
Fingering them … hating them and their memories … he knew he'd clip them back on at the very last moment as his muzzy mind reminded him it was important to still be the hostage so they wouldn't go after his loved ones. … The Queen of Hearts and the Joker … the ones he needed to keep safe even if it meant his death. Putting the shackles down he got out the screwdriver from his pocket and slid it under the stack of shelves beside him making sure it was out of sight but within his reach. He at least had a weapon of sorts should the need arise and knowing it was there gave him some comfort.
Hours before he'd lain on floor desperately hoping to find something as the shelves were empty and as he reached as far as he could he'd felt the metal tip. With a tingle of hope he's stretched that extra bit and managed to get a grip of it … it had not rolled away as he touched it as he feared it would … bringing it out and feeling it recognising it he felt the first rush of hope. It had taken several frustrating and painful attempts before he found the right knack to unclip the shackles and find freedom and the right to play the vengeance card.
Now exhausted mentally and physically he leant back against the hard wall, letting his body get used to the cold damp solid floor again and closed his eyes against the little light there was here. There was only a small dirty window giving a little daylight, he'd tried it but it failed to open and was far too small for him to get through so he'd tried the door.
He knew he should stay awake because he needed to act one way or the other and to occupy his mind he drifted back over the events and then dwelled on the pleasanter memories of seeing his soul mate again … seeing her smile … hearing her laugh. And his tired mind turned them into playing cards … Meg became the Queen of Hearts and Sara the Queen of Diamonds and he fleeting saw Casey was the Jack of something before seeing Benjy the little Joke laughing and skipping behind them … all happy … all safe … And then his mind played it's final card by letting him drift off into sleep.