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Old 02-28-2011, 08:57 AM   #1
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If I Could Turn Back Time ... (Closed)


Mark sat on the stone steps listening to the bass throb of music, punctuated now and then by female laughter. The cold and dark seeped into his body, but he did not notice. She and the other “hens” had arrived hours earlier and he had convinced himself that regardless of what her party did, Elizabeth would leave before the floor show began.
And yet, there had been no sign of her.

The back door burst open and a gaggle of girls spilled out. Each scantily clad, each lighting up a cigarette, each cackling animated about the various … assets … of the male bar staff and speculating on the strip show to come.

Mark turned away in disgust, his focus drawn downwards to the photograph he carried in his hands; one of few photographs featuring him along side his Lizzie. It was a mere 2 years ago, yet the innocent girl he knew who had been so shy of his camera back then had changed beyond recognition: The prints he had pinned to his apartment wall bore witness to that! It wasn't that she could know that his lense was directed at her, yet it had seemed to him as he printed up the shots that she was deliberately teasing him; laughing at him.

Sample from Mark's "Gallery".

The girls had returned to the debauched heat of the building.
Mark stood and stretched out his limbs.
Music struck up, female squeals and applause crescendoed.
It was obvious that the “show” had started.

Just as it was now obvious why just several years ago, Elizabeth had thrown his offer to take care of her back in Mark's face; why she had left the country; why she had done everything to reject the love he had offered her.
And judging from what he had seen over the past 6 months, he knew what Elizabeth had become!

She had been so pure, so perfect.
Mark had put her on a pedestal, had wanted to protect her, to save her from herself and her rejection, which at the time had devastated him, had gronw into ever increasing rage throughout his months' surveillance which had confirmed his suspicions that Elizabeth had gone the way of most women and had become an egotistical bitch and heartless cock-tease.

To Mark, everything Elizabeth did seemed to spite him and the memory of the love he had offered her. The fact she seemed to have a “boyfriend” drove Mark insane with jealousy, yet he Mark consoled himself, that if the relationship were at all serious the man would never allow Elizabeth to join that group of sluts in there. He obviously didn't care if she wanted to whore around? It didn't take a genius to work out what alcohol and strippers would obviously lead to ….

Even though he brought the bottle with him, Mark had never intended to take a drink again. But Mark he was pacing now and could feel his fists clenching as his imaginings fueled by the noise from within the building wound him up more and more. He had to calm himself. And so he drew out the bottle and took a long drink. The fire of spirit scalded his throat and seemed to help him take a steadying breath. And so he drank again … and again … until he could think straight and reason things through. And as the last of the bottle slid down his throat, it seemed to him obvious that he would just walk up to Elizabeth and renew the offer he had made when they were students.
She would see the error of her ways, be grateful to him.
And all would work out for them both …


It was 1 am before the group erupted from the building. The bride-to-be was easy to identify now, partly due to the L-plates, angel wings and halo and partly due to the fact that she could hardly stand and had to be supported by two of her accompanying friends. They ambled unsteadily to the corner and stood in a giggling group, seemingly waiting for transport. It was Elizabeth who minutes later reappeared down the side street, mobile pressed to her ear, focused fully on the call she was making …

To Mark's alcohol-fueled mind, Elizabeth's return only meant one thing: She had arranged an assignation, or was in the process of doing so …. Either way, she was looking for trouble.
And if that was the case, he was definitely the man to give it to her …
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Old 02-28-2011, 08:59 AM   #2
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Snap taken during the Hen Party.

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Old 02-28-2011, 11:30 AM   #3
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Beth's Story ...

Beth had taken her responsibility as chief BridesMaid very seriously and she'd been thrilled when Emma has asked her to take on that role. She had been to fittings, accompanied Emma on visits to florists, department stores, confectioners … the list seemed endless! But this she had organised all on her own. The Hen Night!!!

It was taking place a week in advance of the wedding because Beth knew that Emma wasn't actually a big drinker and with that in mind she had organised a stretch Limo to take a group of about 10 of them there and back and booked the event at a local club she had researched. The evening was to consist of a meal, dancing and a male strip show. A lot of fun Beth calculated with little risk to Emma – aside from the usual dress-up and fun making!

The bubbly in the limo had gone a long way to getting the merriment off to a great start. The jokes were already verging on the risqué as they arrived at the club. Beth was pleased that she had managed to conceal the bag of dress-up and treats that she'd organised for Emma and she trailed behind confirming pick up arrangements with the driver before carrying the hidden stash into the venue.

The meal was actually better than Beth had expected. The wine flowed and Beth allowed herself to indulge a bit, but knowing that she was responsible for Emma, she focused instead in ensuring the bride-to-be paced herself wisely and ensured that she consumed just enough alcohol to allow them to persuade Emma to put on the halo, wings and of course L-plates. Beth knew some of the other girls in the group, but not all, so when they moved to the small tables ready for the Strip Show, she took the opportunity to chat with the unknown girls of the group and discovered that they too had brought “gifts” for the bride-to-be in the form of … reading material … and some more … photographic publications … By the time the men took to the stage, the dubious gifts had been given, several cocktails had been consumed and the party were cheering and dancing as loudly as any other group … When Emma was hauled up to the stage, Beth could not remember when she had laughed as much!

Beth was still laughing when they finally left the club at around 1 am. Despite Beth's vigilance, Emma was indeed somewhat the worse for wear. So unsteady on her feet was she that Kate and Bella, two of the new girlfriends Beth had met that night were supporting her and making their zig-zagged way towards the kerb. The bag of Bridal goodies was now carried by a girl called Melissa and Beth herself was arm in arm with Kelly and Zara, the two girls she knew best, still in fits of laughter as they recalled Emma's “participation” in the entertainment.

”Head for the corner … “

Beth instructed Kate and Bella as the group of them moved away from the club and turned the corner to scan the street beyond for the arrival of their limo. Checking her watch, Beth realised that is was 1:20 am!

” .. shit … “

She murmured and pulled out her mobile.

”Keep a look out … they'll be parked up somewhere … I'll call … “

She had arranged for a 1 am pick up, but somehow it had taken them longer than planned to actually make their way out of the club.

”Hi.. hello...? Is that … hello...?”

The group around Emma has begun singing and Beth couldn't help but laugh knowing they would all have a headache the next morning.

” … no signal … “

She told Kelly.

”I'll just get this working and call the limo up … “

She continued to dial, walking along the kerb as the signal moved in and out until she found it grow stronger as she retraced her steps down the side street towards the club all the time speaking into the phone.

”Hi … hello … ?”

She finally sighed in relief as she heard the company pick up.

”This is Elizabeth Mason … yes … yes … “

She had feared that she would be met with demands for extra payment, complaints about their lateness, but of course the company dealt with groups like this all the time and were just around the corner as she'd hoped.

”That's great .. as soon as … “

She jumped as the phone was forcibly knocked from her hand.

”What the … “

She turned her head in reflex startled by the unprovoked action.
In the shadows stood the man responsible. She couldn't see him properly, but she could definitely smell alcohol. Hurriedly she cast a glance around for her phone, but it was lost in the darkness. Calculating it was not worth the risk on her own, she took a step back her mind racing to plan a route to safety. She only had a short way to get to the door of the club or she could shout to attract the attention of her friends at the end of the road.

”Where do you think you're going …?”

The slightly slurred query came from the darkness followed up by an amazingly agile lunge as a hand closed around her wrist and wrenched her towards him.

”No more running away Lizzie … “

The voice told her.
She had barely registered the “pet name” much less made the link between it and her attacker when she felt searing pain, spinning then falling … down ... and down ...
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:22 PM   #4
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James' Passport Photo

James breath came ragged as he nearly careened into the automatic doors, drawing up just short enough to clip his shoulder with bruising force as he stumbled into the emergency room. “Where’s Elizabeth?!” He managed to force out in a burst of speech, his voice tired and worried.

Nine hours before he had been tossing and turning in a posh downtown New York hotel room, the luxurious accommodations a poor replacement for the comfort of Elizabeth’s body next to his as he slumbered. It had been four or five in the morning when James had received the call. His blood had turned to ice at the words the dispassionate bobby had delivered him.

He hadn’t even wanted to come back over for this meeting. He’d wanted to send Robert in his place. The coming and going from New York to London had been hell in the last couple of months and all James had wanted was a break. But this one was big. Too big for the like of Rob and his team. The shareholders were all to be present and the CEO wanted James to deliver the good news in person.

Good news.. the thought made him sick to his stomach as he looked out the wing of the jumbo jet, begging the clouds to give way faster, willing extra speed out of the transatlantic voyage. He had to get back to London... to home... to Elizabeth.

He’d wanted to be back on a flight that same night, but the company insisted he stay, there was to be a banquet, a celebration for the booming success the London branch had become. Elizabeth had her hen party that evening anyhow so he would have been coming home to an empty home for most of the evening anyhow. So he’d been persuaded to stay, missing Elizabeth the whole time.

The phone had rung, the news had been delivered. James scrambled to get his things together rushing to JFK and boarding the first flight he could get on to London. Delta flight number 3. He tried to be patient, tried to stay positive but his entire being was frazzled beyond belief when the lights of Heathrow came into view over the western wing. His hands were shaking uncontrollably as he hailed a minicab, shoving money into the driver’s hand as they pulled up towards the emergency room entrance.

James was yelling. He knew he was being unreasonable, loud, demanding. But he couldn’t stop himself. An orderly was trying to calm him, trying to figure out what he wanted. But James couldn’t be rational. Finally they managed to figure it out. Elizabeth. She’d been in an accident. Or maybe it wasn’t an accident? No one could give him the whole story. He felt his stomach churning. Everyone was giving him the run around and he was slowly losing his mind.

Finally a man with a chart and a pair of scrubs came out, shooing all the nurses and orderlies away. He introduced himself, James didn’t hear his name. He explained in a disgustingly clinical way that Elizabeth had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, there had been a large amount of cerebral clotting and that she had been admitted to the ICU in a comatose state.

Finally James could see her. He wasn’t sure if it had been minutes or hours. It felt like days or years. The bandage around her head hid the severity of the wound from his eyes, but there were other signs; the breathing tube, the scrapes on her cheek from where she had collided with the ground, the yellow black bruises near her eyes. James was sobbing he realized, but he couldn’t control it. He was completely detached by the horror of what he saw.

Another doctor came in, offered empty hollow sympathies and explained to him that there was nothing else they could do for her at the time, that the next twenty four hours would determine if she lived or not.

For the next week he lived by her hospital bed. He ran out of tears after the first day and half. Did not eat unless some orderly forced food upon him. She lived, but there was no change in her condition. The police came by to question him, they were convinced it was more than an accident that landed Elizabeth in her coma. James, shell shocked as he was, tried to answer their questions as best he could. Yes he had been out of the country when it happened, no they had only been seeing each other for a few months, six and change. He knew she’d had problems with relationships in the past but they had never delved that deeply into it. They promised to keep James in the loop with the investigation. Days continued to pass.

Work continued to call, he begged off any offers of assistance and thanked them for giving him the time he needed. Slowly he came back to himself. After a week of no change he reluctantly agreed to return to their flat, with the promise he would make sure he fed and bathed himself.

But the moment he entered the home they shared a new impulse tore over him, his hunger forgotten as he began ransacking the flat, looking for god knew what. Some clue of what had motivated this awful disaster? Or maybe he was just looking for the perfect bit of her to bring him back to reality... to snap this awful dream he was living in.

It was into the second hour of his search that he stumbled onto the journals Elizabeth had kept, dairies from times before they had found each other. He’d never asked to see what was inside, but now he couldn’t stop himself. James eyes poured over each page, eyes watering once more as the contents inked by a troubled girl long ago unfolded themselves before him.
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:35 AM   #5
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The journals were stored in shoe boxes. The first to be found were stashed in the wardrobe. Two boxes each containing 5 books and a stash of letters and other papers. A brief examination of both were interesting, but not really illuminating. Rather than a conventional diary, Beth wrote in beautiful notebooks, all plain paged. The covers themselves communicated a chronology of her interests making it easy to see that one box contained the adolescent observations and angsts of a teenager, her later crushes and then a transition to obsession with hair and fashion as entry by entry she grew into her own skin. The second told of her university years; her first impressions, people she met, both tutors and fellow students, her own feelings about her course, her future, her hopes and dreams ...

It seemed that Beth did not write with enforced discipline and so a diary would have been of no use to her. Her entries were haphazard. Sometimes weeks passed before an entry was made, sometimes entries were made up to three times in one day. The length of entries also varied just as widely. A note or a paragraph would be recorded occasionally. Usually she would write a side, or two. There were also times when Beth obviously wanted to record in detail and commit ideas or experiences to memory when she wrote at length, sometimes covering pages in her neat handwriting. And all of this was interspersed by doodles, sketches and attachments of cinema tickets, theatre tickets, the odd photograph and other memorabilia, the larger of which were to be found within the same shoe box, though with no list of reference. None the less James got the impression that Beth knew every item each box contained, its relevance to her past and where the reference was to be found in her diary.

Aside from the fact that Beth wrote chronologically and never failed to head each entry with the date and on occasions the time, the single feature that assisted James in his search was the use of the first page and cover pages to front and back. Whilst the array of covers depicting artist’s work, fashionable logos, fabric/woven designs, buildings and in her adolescent days a scrap book of pop and film stars was never defiled, it became obvious that once her journal was filled, Beth always left the first page blank to write a cover page. Here she provided a clear heading of the dates covered in the journal beneath which she followed with a neat series of bullet points listing the key events that she had written about at length within the covers.

Additionally, Inside the front cover, Beth always wrote a “review” of the time covered, including highlights and low times/mistakes if that were applicable. James smiled as he read down the page of an earlier diary listing her low times such as:

· Fancying with James Parker
. Valentine’s party fiasco!!!!
· The kiss!
· Mock exams - French!!!

Whilst her amongst her Highlights were listed:

· Snogging Martin Parker!!
· Part time Job - Complex-Plus!
· School trip to Rouen
· End of School Ball!!

Then finally, every journal ended with a “to do” list or list of “resolutions” for the time ahead. These ranged from 2 - 3 themes to long detailed lists that continued onto the inside of the back cover.

Together these journals give James an insight into the angst-ridden teenage years that all girls experience and allowed him to trace the transition from young girl into adult, the second set of journals demonstrating that early insecurity and homesickness quickly gave way to the emergence of a confident and fun-loving young woman who loved her studies and had a fascination with French, the country, the language and the people - one particularly interesting “indiscretion” with a guy stereotypically named Pierre, a bohemian type from Paris who lured Beth with an offer to literally show her his “etchings”. James felt almost voyeuristic as he read her account. It was obvious that though she was not a promiscuous girl, the short interlude obviously had a positive effect on her and the two parted after only a month, neither having any regrets and both seeming to have enjoyed the casual yet fun-filled intimacy.

The accounts ended October 2007.

James scanned back over the last written pages: Beth had started her 3rd Year at University. The Parisian Affair had ended at the end of June of that year. She had spent the first part of her Summer Break with her family and then mid-August to mid- September had spent time working in a London Hotel for work experience. In October she had taken on an additional option, Business French to add to her modules for her French degree. At this stage she was considering a range of careers including tourism and translator and focusing on revision and study as her mocks were due to take place in December.

All seemed positive, but search as he might, James could not find the next chapter of her life. He knew her current journal was in the top of her beside drawer. Somehow it seemed more intrusive to read this, but he carried the shoe boxes to the bedroom and sitting on their bed, opened the drawer and picked up the familiar book. Its cover showed a plan of the underground in London and the Metro in Paris, yet the design was interspersed with tiny depictions of the art work to be found along these lines of transport.

Having learned how Beth organised her journals, James opened at the first page to find that is was still blank. A brief turn of the pages showed that the dates covered were from just a month ago and as yet the journal was only a quarter full.

Replacing it for now, other drawers were opened until 3 further journals were discovered: The earliest covered the time period from June 2010 to September of that same year. A glance down the cover page confirmed that this included Beth’s return to London and their first meeting in September, an event, James noted that was listed in Beth’s list of highlights!
The Second journal continued for the rest of September and continued to mid December, the early stages of their relationship.
The final journal covered December 2010 to the end of February 2011, which tied in exactly with the dates of the current journal. Again James’ eyes went down the bullet points of the cover page, noting that his name occurred in many of the headings:

· 1st Christmas with James!
· James wants us to move in together!
· New Year with James!
· Moving in!
· Valentine’s Day!
· Long Weekend Break.

Again, no indication of distress or any hint of difficulty dealing with issues from the past!

Exasperated, James piled the 3 journals along side the 2 shoe boxes.
If Beth hadn’t kept the earlier shoe box, it could be argued that Beth had just thrown away the missing journals. But all indications were that she kept and re-read accounts from her past.
Checking once more, it became clear that he had found nothing from November 2007 until May 2010 inclusive.

Again James was searching.
Hauling the filing box where Beth kept her documentation, he began to search through. Her degree certificate was dated June 2008, so from November ‘07 until that time Beth was still at University.
But that did not explain the missing journals. Had she simply had too much revision to do?
Sifting through once more James found Beth’s passport and searched for entries. It was a booking reference stub and then a folded letter that told him that Beth had left for France in November 2008. He knew she had been working over there for some time and now had confirmation of her first departure.
Again he searched through various travel documents, but found no evidence that she had returned to England until finally he found a receipt dated May 2010. This was for luggage sent between the two countries that must have preceded her June return.
When visiting France as a student, Beth’s writing had been prolific. James would not imagine why Beth would give up her journal writing during her 18 months or so abroad?

He was standing in the middle of the flat pondering the situation when the telephone rang.

It took DCI Peterson all his patience to reassure the young man who answered that he was not calling from the hospital and that he had no medical news for James. Introducing himself once more, Peterson continued;

”.. however ... we would like to speak with you ... urgently... “

Again he paused until he had James full attention.

” ... a witness has come forward ... and ... we’d like to update you on ... new evidence ... “

He was being deliberately ambiguous, his intention to clarify the situation face to face, but it soon came clear that he was going to give this distraught young man some answers and clarify the new direction of their investigation over the phone.

”I’m afraid it’s now clear that Miss Mason was attacked.”

Peterson paused as that information sank in.
It was essential that the boyfriend understood that the best way he could help his girlfriend was to be calm and provide them with any relevant information.

” ... our assailant will be facing a charge of GBH at best, at worst .... attempted murder ... “
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:31 AM   #6
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James felt guilty and voyeuristic as he cracked open the cover of the first journal, the ornate cover giving way to his shaky fingers. He’d never seen the inside of any of these journals. When she had first moved in to his flat he’d often poked fun at her collection of writings, jokingly threatening to unearth all her secrets and spread them around like wildfire. He’d never actually peeked though, and eventually after Beth was fully moved in they were out of sight and out of mind.

But now he poured over the pages with a fervent need, trying to drink in as much of his Beth he could. James wasn’t sure what he was looking for at all. A catharsis perhaps? Some shocking revelation he could present to the authorities? All James knew was that he wanted any piece of her with him. Something, any sign at all, to give him the strength to carry on.

Her overview the journal’s contents on the inside cover brought a sad smile to his face. Typical Elizabeth, even her private thoughts had to be an ordered affair. James felt a small amount of peace he hadn’t had in nearly a week as his eyes danced across the pages of the journals, reliving stories Elizabeth had told him about her past, discovering new secrets about the woman he was smitten with. He even managed a slight chuckle here or there at some of the subjects she wrote on. It was as if he was discovering new sides to Elizabeth he had never known about while reaffirming all of the various idiosyncrasies that made her special to him.

While the journals lifted his spirits out of the morose darkness he was smothering under, they did nothing to illuminate the questions he had about what had happened to her. Maybe it had just been an accident after all? Doubt was creeping into James’ thoughts, but he couldn’t put aside his fears that something more sinister had happened to his love. So he continued rummaging through the box, his mood turning dark as nothing revealed itself to him.

Soon he had torn apart half the bedroom, his self composure quickly wearing paper thin. He had looked through her most recent journal, and while all her happy accounts of their time together had nearly brought him to tears once again, it wasn’t enough. Soon he was frantically shuffling through her important documents, trying to find some idea why there was such a large gap between her journals. For some reason he felt it was incredibly important to find those missing years. Slowly he pieced together the travel path her life had taken from England to France. As he tried to figure out the significance of everything he was discovering his cell phone began to ring.

James felt his heart plummet straight into his stomach as his eyes darted around the flat in a cold panic, realizing he had no idea where his phone was. It was the hospital he was sure, Beth had taken a turn for the worst. He felt the little bit he had eaten roiling in his gut. Finally after what felt like a millennium he located his phone under a pile of clothes he had tossed aside in his frantic tossing of the place.

“Hello? Yes this is James McAllister.... is this the hospital? Has there been some change with Elizabeth? Did she wake up? Do I need to come down there?” His questions were coming out in a rush, not giving the person on the other end of the line anytime to respond.

“No, sir. No.....” The voice on the other end was patient with him, waiting to try to get a word in edgewise. “This is Detective Peterson with the Met. I’m afraid I have no news about Elizabeth’s condition... however ... we would like to speak with you ... urgently...” James’ mind was whirling at a million miles a second, but his mouth could not form any words, a deep sense of dread settling over him as he stood in shocked silence.

” ... a witness has come forward ... and ... we’d like to update you on ... new evidence ... “ The man was trying to draw out what he had to say, James knew it would not be good news.

“Tell me what you’ve found? Did you figure out what could have happened to her? Is there some kind of foul play?” Again every thought that came to his head came rushing out of his mouth, giving the detective little chance to get a word in. The man was clearly used to dealing with people in this situation, and he was patient as a stone.

Finally when James ran out of question the detective spoke again, his words landing in James’ head like sledgehammer blows. ”I’m afraid it’s now clear that Miss Mason was attacked.” Again shocked silence was all James could manage. Attacked? His fears were all coming true. He wanted to scream. Wanted to call the bobby a liar, wanted to smash something. But instead he just sat there, stunned to his very core. ” ... our assailant will be facing a charge of GBH at best, at worst .... attempted murder ... “

“What... what the hell is GBH?” He managed to croak out, finding his voice, and latching onto the first thought he had.

“Grievous bodily harm. I think you yanks call it assault. But the point is Mr. McAllister, we’re hoping you can provide us with some information about who would want to harm Elizabeth. We have a rough description of the assailant given to us by a witness at the scene. She was apparently bludgeoned outside of a... bar.... we have the weapon in our possession at the moment.” James cringed at everything he described, imagining the scene happening in front of his eyes. But he couldn’t picture who would want to hurt his Beth.

“No... I’m sorry, I don’t know who would want to hurt her... she’s the sweetest girl in the world... Yes... yes I’d be more than happy to come in tomorrow and take a look at your sketch and I’ll let you know if anything come to mind.” He promised the detective before hanging up the phone, his hands shaking so uncontrollably he could barely hit the ‘end’ on the phone’s screen.

James collapsed onto a chair, his legs giving out as he tried to collect himself. Someone had hurt his Elizabeth. Someone who knew her perhaps? He looked at the pile of journals again. Now the missing years were burning a hole in James’ mind. The answer would be there. He had to find them.

It took him almost an hour, tearing apart the flat more thoroughly than he ever had when looking for lost keys or his phone, stopping just short of slitting open the pillow top mattress and pillows on their bed. At last he found another box, buried deep in her closet, tucked smartly between the old radiator and the wall. Pulling out the box he felt a sense of elation as journal after journal was recovered from it. His eyes quickly scanned the various dates in them, confirming they were the years he had been searching for. He began with a quick scan across the ups and downs of each one, reading more in depth as the troubling story of Mark and Elizabeth’s relationship present itself through the eyes of the woman he loved.
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Old 03-26-2011, 12:15 PM   #7
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The Journals ...

The journals at the top of the box were much as those James had found previously. Their covers were French themed and the insides listed dates and occasions to the front and review of highlights and low lights to the back. What was noticeable however was that they contrasted greatly with Beth’s earlier effusive style of her student years. The first dated from November 2008 – beginning of March ’09 and was largely factual; a list of places visited, people met and work completed. The second was more similar to the earlier journals and ran from March ’09 and ran until the end of July ’09 when Beth wrote about a brief visit back to the UK:

... Being back on English soil again really feels like “coming home”. I’ve been homesick for so many months now and after that lonely birthday decided that I had to see everyone, no matter what the risk ...

She went on to describe the reunions, the parties, lots of family fun recorded she wrote so that she could relive the memories when back in France.
July 30th 2009

... It’ll be such a wrench to go back, but I do enjoy my work over there and will be so busy from the end of August onwards when the ‘rentree’ sends everyone back to work. I’m looking forward to the break down in Argeles with friends from Perpignan for the last few weeks in August. I think that’s the only way I could make the break and head back over there ...

Entries were detailed and plentiful thoughout the 2 week period of July into August, their tone happy, yet regretful; expressing a wish to return home yet communicating that for some reason that wasn’t an option. They continued in the same vein until there was a period of none entries and then the following date.

Entry written August 8th – en route to France – re: Summer Fete – August 5th '09.

... Although I still seem to be glancing over my shoulder out of habit, that real fear of Mark springing out from behind every bush, or even worse silently watching my every move seemed to have lessened over the weeks. That was until this evening! We’d had a fun day at the Summer Fete. Great to see that things don’t change back home; the same stalls, the same people, the same hilarity. Nothing compared to the spectacular fetes in France of large scale outdoors festivals that seem to be so popular in the UK, regardless of the weather, but I can never get over that ‘something’ that a little rural English village offers in such a small scale event...

She went on to describe the village picnic and meeting up with many old class mates one in particular.

... Michael Gordon! Who’d have thought he’d have graced our little village fete. He was always the ‘rich kid’ in our school. His parents used to make a fuss about how they could have sent him to a private school, but as they were ‘community minded’ had graced our little village primary school with their son’s presence. That all changed when Michael moved up to Secondary though. We all moved to the nearest comp, whilst Michael was enrolled in a school ‘more suitable to his aspirations’. Not that Michael had ever acted superior with the rest of us. In fact he’d been one of the nicest guys around. Every girl had had a crush on him at sometime, including me and at some time Michael had spent time with the girls that craved his attention, but I’d never been aware of any ‘serious’ relationship made with anyone that I hung around with.

And here he was! With his usual charm and warmth! And as irresistible as ever!
As always happens when old friends meet there was a suggestion that we should organise a future reunion, but my plans to return to France in 3 days ruled me out of any such event. For that reason, Michael said, we should all head out to his place that evening. A very grand affair at the end of the village; all gardens and swimming pool. He insisted he’d throw a party reunion and a send off for me combined - and we were all invited!

On a hot Summer’s day, what else could have been more perfect! We all headed home and changed out of our ‘ country rags’ and headed on up to the ‘Big House’ as we termed it. The benefits of being in your own grounds and not having to bother about neighbours were obvious from the start! In such a short time, Michael had really pulled out the stops with food and music and a plentiful flow of alcohol! I protested that champagne goes to my head when Michael tried to play me with several glasses and so to ‘dilute its potency’ ended up drinking champagne cocktails! No idea what was in them, but they were certainly warming!

The evening went in a haze – probably alcohol induced despite my best intentions ... well best-ish intentions! It was fun; a blurr of laughter and dancing. Lots of dancing with Michael and if I remember rightly lots of flirtation and a few kisses! A fun distraction; (even on champagne, I know Michael is a perfect gent and not into anything ‘heavy’ or that either party would regret in the morning!) Things got pretty raucous as drinks flowed and we all regressed to teenage silliness. At one stage most of us actually ended up in the swimming pool, all intentions to act respectable seeming to have left us! But what stands out for me is just laughing; laughing at everything and with everyone and feeling safe and secure among friends as I had before Uni, before Mark.
That’s why it was such a shock the next morning.

In due course I emerged – somewhat the worse for wear it has to be said – but not too hung over. Everyone was out when I came down the stairs. The envelope was just laying there by the front door.
As soon as I saw it I knew. I knew it had to be him, be Mark!
Even so, I made myself move to the door, pick up the envelope with that single word: Lizzie. I felt sick and panicked, but I had to look.
Rather than be relieved that there wasn’t a nude or underwear shot staring up at me, my stomach lurched as I took in the image of me and Michael. It was taken at the Big House. We were both dripping wet and laughing hysterically. An innocent enough picture. Yet beneath the photography was written the word;

I didn’t tell anyone. I hadn’t before and I could hardly tell them the whole story now.
My family had always assumed that our relationship was one of those steamy romances that burn themselves out in the heat of its own intensity. I’d never shown them any of the photographs, or told them why I’d fled to France so Mark couldn’t get to me anymore!

My family just thought I was terribly hung over and then assumed that I was quiet because of the preparations to return to France.
I thought of telling Michael: Of warning him that someone had gotten onto his property at least, but it just wasn’t appropriate. Michael was into good times and fun and definitely wouldn’t be interested in an old school friend’s tale of her stalker!
Just knowing Mark was out there made me sick!

I’ve spent the last days of my visit to England looking over my shoulder, imagining his eyes watching, his camera lens pointed in my direction!
I can’t spend my life running away from him, but at least I’ve arranged not to go directly to my French apartment.
I plan to stop off in Paris for a few days then head down to the South of France as arranged.
When I head back I’ll go via Sabine’s home in Bordeaux.
With any luck that should make sure that I’m not followed!

The next entries were brief, detailing places visited in Argeles and anecdotes of occurances. There was a note of the Bordeaux trip and then finally on September 3rd an entry which simply stated.

No sign of Mark.
Taken on liaison work which involves travel.
Safest to keep moving, just in case ...

Entries then merely listed journeys made and cities visited in France with details of hotels, costings and Beth’s marks out of ten for each venue.

The next significant entry was Christmas again spent in France.
Then New Year celebrated in Paris.
The Journal ended with the Resolution:

Not to let Mark rule my life!
Enough running – will return to UK sometime in 2010.
To get help if Mark begins to pester once more.

And indeed as the second journal evidenced, Jan ’10 – May ’10 entries were all about Beth's plans to move to the UK. Her first tentative enquiries gaining momentum as rather than leave her work, she got the opportunity to set up business in London! The ideal situation as she could commute back home or have family come up to visit her as she wished. She and Mark had met in Leeds and as far as she knew he had never been particularly enamoured with the capital and so Beth felt suitably anonymous relocating there.

The final entry in this second journal was her birthday – 19th May – a celebratory affair for which her family came to visit and spent a 5 day break to see Beth’s home and work and see the sights. It was clear in this entry that she would miss living in France and miss many of the good friends she had made during her time there, but despite this the excitement with which she wrote of her new job in London made it clear that Beth had returned to her ‘normal’ optimistic, high spirited self which led onto the next instalment in the Journal James had already read.

What James hadn’t found yet was the diary that outlined the weeks, months of her relationship with Mark.
He rummaged and pulled out a normal looking journal, normal that is until he opened it to find many middle pages torn out.

The front pages covered the dates from November '07 to April '08.
They were chatty entries, but sparse, obviously due to the amount of studying Beth was doing.
She had her December Mocks and then her March Revision when hardly any entry was made.

She wrote about the April examinations – the language orals she had to sit and her fears that she had not done enough to attain the grade she wanted.

She wrote about her forthcoming birthday celebration which would take place at Uni, rather than at home as she had examinations starting mere days afterwards.

And then the entries halted.

The rest of the pages were torn out leaving the final quarter blank.

The front page was merely headed:

November 2009 – April 2010.

The last summary page read:

  • Not to beat myself up over getting sucked into relationship with Mark.
  • Destroy pages re: time together rather than keep reading over and over!
  • NB!!! Destroy after entering key dates and facts in case needed for future record.
  • Do whatever it takes to get my life back!!!

The only other items in the box were an envelope labelled:

Evidence June 2008 – November 2008 containing photographs, obviously taken my Mark of her and instead of an unlined journal, a ring bound lined notebook labelled simply:

Mark - May 2008 onwards which held a list of dates and events, set out factually with limited personal detail which gave the timeline of their relationship.

The list started with the first meeting at her birthday party, listed dates, parties, trips, but also included increasingly disturbing occurrences, which doubtless seemed innocuous at the time, but upon reading back through her journal, Beth had traced the development of what seemed an intense, romantic relationship to an obsessional, possessive need to control her.

Perhaps it was the clinical way that Beth had listed all the salient facts that made the profile of this man more chilling than any hysterically fearful entry could have done ... ?

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Old 03-27-2011, 04:03 AM   #8
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James’ hands trembled anxiously as he opened the first of the newly discovered journals. His stomach turning flips and knotting as his mind raced with the possibilities of what dark secrets he was about to unearth.

He searched for the earliest dated journal, refusing to allow himself to leaf through the others out of order. If there was something to be discovered within it wouldn’t do for him to just go searching randomly. Still it was hard to have even that small amount of patience, the urge to dive right into the hidden records of his loves’ life was overwhelming.

Finally he settled on a journal that detailed the time from late 2008 to early 2009, the pain of everything that had happened and his bodily needs forgotten as his eye roamed across the faded paper, taking in every single detail she had committed to page. The first journal lacked the happy carefree nature of writing that the others had, James knew that had to be an important factor, it took a lot to take the bubbly nature of Elizabeth’s personality away, James had only seen it a few times, the couple of serious fights they’d had.... James forced his thoughts away from such things, returning to the journal.

... Being back on English soil again really feels like “coming home”. I’ve been homesick for so many months now and after that lonely birthday decided that I had to see everyone, no matter what the risk ...

He read the sentence, but it took him a fraction of a second to process it, and when he did he reread it half a dozen times. Why would coming back to England have been a risk for her? Taking a moment to free himself from the need to tear through the journals James retrieved a highlighter from his office area, highlighting the sentence before dog earring the page.

Reading further into the journal James began to grow more frustrated as she gave further hints to a reason she could not return to England despite a wish to. He was beginning to believe that she had decided to not even include what she feared in her private journals when he found an entry from August of ‘09.

The first line that caught his eye was immediately highlighted, the name Mark underlined and circled as well. She’d spoken of Mark before, a bad relationship, though she’d never revealed much more than that to James and he had never prodded her for anything more. More and more to regret he thought sadly as he read on, hoping for a more concrete idea of what had happened.

James felt silly at the tiny pang of jealous anger he felt as he read about this Michael Gordon. This was her past, not theirs after all he forced himself to remember. Still he couldn’t completely put aside the feeling as he read the account of the suave rich boy charming her with his easy going nature. He read towards the end, a small tear gathering his eye as he read the happy part of the entry, imagining bubbly Elizabeth, always the life of any party.

The entry quickly took a darker turn and James’ eyes widened as a quiet terror seemed to suffuse his mind at the scrawled words. This Mark was a stalker and now James worried he had become something worse for his love. He could see why Elizabeth was scared to return to England and why she was so reluctant to speak of her relationship with him. James felt a scream of frustration die on his throat as another wracking sob tore its way out of him. He’d found evidence now, but it wouldn’t fix what had been done to the girl he loved.

James knew he should call detective Peterson immediately, but once more he found himself unable to tear himself away from the only bit of Elizabeth he had right now. He scoured the rest of the journals, looking for anymore references to Mark, now fearing the absolute worse about the attack that had left his Elizabeth hospitalized. He knew now she had been targeted, it hadn’t been a botched mugging or something random, this Mark bastard had snapped.

James’ knuckles turned white as he gripped the journals in anger as he read on. This man had terrorized Elizabeth, even up to the point where she was almost scared to go home. He had to know more about what had happened. He searched desperately for the journal that outlined their relationship, a crushing disappointment coming when he found the pages ripped out. If she had destroyed the memories something terrible must have happened. Her notes in the front were the only evidence in the journal that there was something to be forgotten.

Now James did allow a scream of frustration to tear itself from deep in his throat,
throwing the mangled journal across the small room of the flat, the remaining pages fluttering as they flew before crashing into a wall and slumping to the floor. James was up on his feet, slamming his fist into the wall roughly as tears streamed freely once more. He felt so powerless, so useless. It was ripping him apart inside.

A few minutes and one angry neighbor later James had regain his composure, moving back towards the closet, pulling the last two items from the hidden box, another notebook and an envelope. He attacked the envelope first, pictures of her and Mark pouring out, some of them clearly taken during the happy days of their relationship, the rest like the one she had described in her journal, unsolicited, clearly taken from hiding, with various expletives scrawled upon the photos or on their backside. James felt sick once more, bile rising up in his throat. If only she’d told him...

The timeline of their relationship was even more chilling, so clinical and detached, written by a woman who knew it would one day be important for her to be able to demonstrate the tumultuous relationship they had shared, but did not want to relive the emotions of the memories she was transcribing.

James was able to easily trace the growth of Mark’s obsession from the dispassionate words of his Beth. Mark showing up unexpectedly when she went away for a weekend, which probably seemed a romantic gesture at the time, now it seemed obvious that he just didn’t trust her to be away from him. His insistence to look at her journals as she wrote in them, wanting every aspect of her life to be completely open to him. And the behavior got worse as the relationship progressed, it seemed he became prone to outbursts, accusing her of ‘whoring’ about. All red flag behavior.

Checking the time James noted the late hour, knowing he needed sleep if he was going to bring this to the detective in the morning. Sleep was long in coming, and when it did it was fitful and troubling, horrid dreams forgotten by the morning light, but exhausting him nonetheless.

James sounded an absolute mess when he phoned the detective, telling him he’d stumbled upon new evidence that might be pertinent to the investigation. Within an hour he was in a minicab headed to the precinct, the box with the relevant journals and envelope clutched protectively to his chest as James numbly ignored the chit chat of the Turkish driver.

“The man in these photos is a good match for the sketch we obtained from an anonymous witness at the scene of the attack...” The detective said, looking closely at several of the photos of Mark. James nodded mutely, letting the man talk. “You say his name is Mark? Was a last name mentioned? No, no, nevermind, we’ll have to tear through that notebook and those journals anyhow to get a clear idea what we’re working with...”

James opened his mouth to protest, he couldn’t possibly give strangers access to Beth’s innermost thoughts... but then he remembered how she had looked, bruised and silent in that hospital bed. “....yes of course...” He said, his voice cracking as he pushed the box across the desk, feeling like the last little bit of Beth was being taken away from him.

“Yes, we’ll definitely be in touch, these will greatly assist us in our investigation. We’ll get the man who did this, he’ll pay...” the DCI was already opening the journals, analyzing Beth’s organizational system. “You should get some food and some rest lad, you look like death..”

James stumbled out of the police station and somehow managed to find his way back to the hospital. Taking up his vigil once more by Elizabeth’s bedside the hours passed like years as he prayed for her to wake, to make some motion, the steady beep of the heart monitor the only indication he had his love was still with him. Orderlies came and went every couple of hours, a homely nurse bringing him a plate of unidentifiable mush that he stirred around on the flimsy plastic platter before pushing it away from him.

He was slipping back into a dark depression, slumped in the hospital chair as the time flowed like molasses. His eyes had just barely noted that he had been there almost six hours when his cellphone vibrated in his pocket.

Quickly he snatched the phone out of his pocket, fumbling it up to his ear. “Yes. Hello? Yes officer this is James... what’s that? Yes... I can be down there in about fifteen minutes. Yes, yes, I’ll head right over.” James was on his feet quickly, leaning over to kiss Beth’s forehead, his tears falling upon her soft skin as he found himself having to leave her once again.
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Old 03-27-2011, 12:11 PM   #9
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Mark Bayliss

It was well into the next morning when Mark finally awoke.
He groaned as he turned , blinking awake to the images of Elizabeth who seemed to stare accusingly down at him. He sat up with a start...
.”... Lizzie ... “
Mark cursed and rolled from the bed, finding himself still fully dressed, his sleeves blood-stained from where he had knelt down to the inert form that lay at his feet in that alley.

... God ... “

The details of the previous evening and morning were hazy.
He remembered snapshots; His Lizzie laughing with friends, the club, his anger, her appearance in the alley. The mobile phone - a different number now to the one he had called what must have been hundreds of times and a totally different model to that he used to take and check through. He frowned remembering all those the text messages received which suggested secrets and assignations and the replies sent which to anyone would read as encouragement if not a downright come-on!

Still he hadn’t meant to hurt her!
Mark stared mournfully at the empty bottles on the floor.
fLizzie had put him through so much in those two brief years.
She had practically driven him to drink!
It was her fault that he had needed to drink the evening before as it had always been her fault previously when she had made him take a drink, making him lose his usual patience with her and lose control.

Not that he had ever hurt her!
The odd bruise and that one ‘accident’ when she had landed too heavily against the coffee table and cracked a rib. No one could blame him for any of that!

In fact it was Mark who had strove to help Lizzie keep that perfection.
Her body was exquisite, he remembered.
He had wanted to photograph her, to record that beauty, but she had refused him, even misunderstood his motives for wishing to commit that body to print!
He had known from then, from her first refusal, from the motives she had read into his requests just how her mind was working, but had loved her too much to walk away and tried and tried over the years they were together to make her understand that he could just not let her debase that purity in her by leaving herself open to the evils of the world around her.

He blanched to see her body marred in any way.
He had gone crazy when she had had a small tattoo of a rose imprinted on the small of her back. Perhaps that was the first time she had actually been scared of him.
But then perhaps it was worth it, because it was the turning point for her as she now realised just how much he loved her.
From then on, Mark realised that a little fear went a long way to making sure that Beth followed his wishes. For a brief time she seemed to understand and followed his advice.
And then, out of the blue, she had totally disappeared on him!!!

Mark made his way to the kitchen and set about making coffee.
That was all past. As the coffee bubbled, he tried to remember exactly what had happened the previous night?But what had happened last night?
He remembered waiting for her at the club; an arrangement he had overheard and knew he had to follow her to.
He remembered her arrival, the group of girls, the music, his conviction of what she was getting up to in there.
He remembered wanting to speak to her: Wanting to make her realise that she could turn away from her whoring and be his Lizzie once more.
He did not remember the conversation though.
Instead he remembered the overwhelming sense of range, the frightened face turning to him . The next image he recalled was her crumpled form at his feet and his feeling of horror as he knelt and shook her, trying to bring her to her senses.
She had not even groaned as blood flowed from her head staining his sleeve.
He had heard voices then, calling out ”Beth! and he finally realised that her friends were looking for her.

He had fled . Where to he did not recall. A nearby alley? A nearby club?
Mark remembered the sirens; police and ambulances crowding to the scene.
Terror had filled him, so much so that he had returned to the club, hovering behind the growing crowd of party-goers, staff and passers-by who had been attracted by the drama. But all he could see was a pale and lifeless Lizzie carried on the stretcher and into the ambulance as police spoke to one of her friends.

” ... he’s away on business ... James... yes ... James McAllister ... they live together ... “

Mark did not need to listen for Elizabeth’s address. He knew it well enough.
He had been watching it for the past couple of months.

And then the crowd had started to disperse and Mark had made his way back home, the effect of alcohol and emotional exhaustion finally overcoming him as he fell onto his bed in exhaustion.

His coffee cup was half empty. He topped it up and threw the scalding liquid down his throat. If her boyfriend was away, then locating Lizzie would be all the easier!

It had only taken a few calls to locate her hospital and ward.
Using James’ name Mark discovered that Elizabeth was in a coma and still ‘critical’ .
Mark knew then that he had to see her again ....

The first time, Mark merely wandered into the ward, a bunch of flowers in hand.
His view of Elizabeth was from a distance and he was shocked by the plethora of machines surrounding her; the medical paraphernalia she was wired up to ruining her perfection. Unable to bear the sight of her now broken body Mark left without a word.

Finally, desperate for news, Mark called, using James’ name to ask about Elizabeth’s condition.

”It’s only been a couple of hours Mr McAllister,”

He heard the woman say sympathetically.

”We really will ring if there’s any change ... any change at all ... “

So ... the boyfriend had finally returned, he concluded!
The sympathy in the woman’s voice for this negligent idiot enraged him.
Mark simply hung up the phone without further comment.

It was this man’s fault that Lizzie was now fighting for her life, Mark reasoned!
If he had taken care of her as Mark had always wanted to do, then Lizzie wouldn’t have been endangering herself!

Much as Mark longed to be at Lizzie’s bedside, the appearance of the boyfriend and the subsequent increase of ‘police presence’ made it impossible. And so Mark watched their flat until James finally came home. James looked a mess, Mark noted with satisfaction, the inevitable snap of the camera recording his agony for posterity.

James did not emerge until emerging to set off urgently early the next morning.
The man looked so haggard that Mark was convinced that something had happened to Elizabeth and yet as he followed him, James turned off in the opposite direction to finally come to a halt at the police station.
Mark frowned. Whatever could be more pressing than going to see Lizzie?

With only the faintest pause, Mark turned and headed towards the hospital.
James was busy and it seemed that the police were busy and so Mark knew that as long as he was careful, he could risk a visit to Lizzie’s bedside.

Again the machinery and the constant electronic blip of her heart beat made Mark baulk as he stood at the end of the bed. The massive bandage evidenced the head wound that he had been told she’d sustained, but perhaps more noticeable than that, Elizabeth’s pallor was porcelain beneath the smudged bruising that stood out from the pure canvas of her skin.

Mesmerised, Mark stepped closer and extended a hand to gently stroke her cheek finding it cool and soft and almost doll-like.
Almost in reflex, he drew out his camera and took contrasting shots, some of her upper body, some zooming in on a cheek or her lips, or the creamy clevage revealed as he drew the bed covers lower isolating the perfection hidden amongst the markings of her attack.

With a whispered vow to return and make everything right again, Mark slid the camera into his pocket and made his way unnoticed back through the hospital...

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Old 03-27-2011, 12:12 PM   #10
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Detective Peterson

”Mark Bayliss ... “

The Detective informed Mark as he sat opposite the young man in the interview room.

” ... studied Media and Film at York University. Course dates same as Miss Mason.
Family based in Harrogate ... family business publishing ... traceable addresses, York, Harrogate and most recently London ... “

James nodded as the facts were listed.

”No evidence of his being in Derbyshire or Elizabeth’s home village ... but ... “

He seemed to shuffle through papers.

”Break in and vandalism reported at Bailey House in ... September 2009 ... “

He looked at James and clarified.

”Bailey House, residence of Michael Gordon. Seems in addition to the house, Mr Gordon’s car was targetted and the pool ... “

Peterson slid a series of crime photos across to James.

”Mark Bayliss has no criminal record and nothing to suggest links to any previous crime until now ... “

James took up the photos which contained images taken of the Gordon crime scene; the study, smashed contents, broken windows, a car scratched and slashed and finally a shot of the same car in the swimming pool.

”These were found at Mr Bayliss’ address ... “

James eyes widened in shocked comprehension.

”No ... we have officers searching for Mark Bayliss, but have evidence enough to confirm that he has been stalking both Miss Mason and over recent months, yourself ... “

Peterson hesitated, judging just how much to tell the man who sat opposite him.

”We’re currently working through Mr Bayliss’ photographic and computer equipment ... “

He decided to explain succinctly at this stage.

There would be time later to describe the wall of photographs in Mark’s bedroom and the wealth of jpegs of Elizabeth stored on the computer and how Mark had vented his frustration using his media know-how to create vitriolic magazine-style pages combining choice photos and choice captions and ‘articles’ to record his feelings about Elizabeth throughout the last two years.

A knock on the door interrupted their conversation.

”Excuse me Sir. Something you need to see.”

Peterson waved the young Officer into the room. With a glance in Jame’s direction, the young man handed the Detective a large brown envelope.

” ... from the suspect’s camera Sir ... “

Just the slightest glance at James before clarifying.

” ... taken this morning ... “

Peterson pulled out the 5 print outs, keeping the images from James’ sight initially.
Although his intention had been to maintain a neutral reaction, his eyes widened.

”God ...”

He exclaimed softly.

”Have the hospital notified and arrange for round-the-clock surveillance - covert.”

The young officer was dismissed with a nod.
The door closed before Peterson broke the news to James.

”It seems Bayliss visited Miss Mason this morning...”

He handed Mark’s 5 shots of Beth in her hospital bed.

” ... we have to assume that he’ll return to see her again.
If we play this right, he’ll come to us. Beth will be totally safe ... “

Peterson assured him.

”We just don’t want our man running out on us before we have chance to make an arrest.”

The Detective just hoped that James would not raise objections to their plan.
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Old 03-27-2011, 03:44 PM   #11
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The voice on the other end of the phone was DCI Peterson once again. “We have some new information about this Mark fellow, he’s moved to the top of our suspect list... we were able to pull a partial print off one of the illicit photographs he had take.. I hate to impose in your grief once more, but would you be willing to come back down to the station so I can fill you in?” James hesitated for a moment before answering. He wanted to get to the bottom of this, to see Beth would be safe again when she awoke, which he knew she would. However leaving her side again seemed like it would be torture.

Hopping in another cab James quickly found himself hustled into an interview room, officer Peterson taking a long breath before launching into the description of everything they had found when they began investigating into Mark Bayliss’ life. James’ tried to sit patiently as Peterson read off the pertinent details of Mark’s life, but he quickly became antsy. He didn’t care where the man studied, or where he’d bee born, all he cared about was what he had done to his love. Soon he was nearly squirming in his seat with the effort of not yelling at the officer to get to the point.

The pictures of the destruction at Michael Gordon’s house grabbed his attention though. “Jesus...” he muttered as he flipped through the photos, a cold icy hand settling itself in his stomach once more. If this man could be so unbelievably violent over such a small incident, who knows what evil might have festered within him over the course of a year. The pictures were hard to stare at, he kept seeing in the shattered windows Beth’s broken form. His hands were shaking as he pushed the photos away from them.

Something the detective said caught his ear and a ignited a twinge of hope within him. “You found these at his residence? Does that mean you have him in custody? Did he confess?” His questions came out as quickly as he could think of them, a rapid fire series that caused Officer Peterson to put his hands up in a placating manner to quiet James down. Other people were looking over at them now to see what the disturbance was. Officer Peterson rose and quickly drew the shades to his office window, wanting to spare James the questioning eyes of those outside.

”No ... we have officers searching for Mark Bayliss, but have evidence enough to confirm that he has been stalking both Miss Mason and over recent months, yourself ... “ James felt his heart stop for a moment. Months? He’d been watching the two of them for months? God... had Elizabeth known? Or was this the first indication she’d had he was back in her life? James suddenly felt incredibly dirty, imagining this psychopath’s eyes roaming over every private moment they’d shared. ”We’re currently working through Mr Bayliss’ photographic and computer equipment ... “

“So he’s escaped? You found all the evidence you need but he’s gone now is that what you’re saying?!” James voice was rising again and he knew he was being completely unfair to the hard work the bobbys were putting in on the case, but all he knew was the man who put his girlfriend into a coma was still running free.

The officer was about to address James accusations when a hard knock on the worn wood of the office door interrupted James’ uncontrolled tirade. A younger cop entered the room, looking at James and hesitating a moment before presenting Peterson with a brown envelope of photographs.

”Excuse me Sir. Something you need to see... from the suspect’s camera Sir …” again the officer glanced to James and he felt his breath escape from him as he’d been punched with the next three words. ” ... taken this morning ... “

”God ...” Peterson looked at the photos, his eye widening in fear at what he saw, and James felt sure that the worst had happened, he would return to the hospital and find Elizabeth dead. His breath was coming short panicked gasps and he barely heard Peterson’s spoken words to the young officer. ”Have the hospital notified and arrange for round-the-clock surveillance - covert.” The officer tossed another sympathetic look in James’ direction before nodding curtly and exiting with a closing of the door that echoed the finality of what was happening.

”It seems Bayliss visited Miss Mason this morning...” James couldn’t even move his limbs to pick up the photographs that Peterson pushed across the desk towards him. There she was. Exactly as she was that afternoon, lying in the hospital bed, hovering near death’s door. James grabbed the flimsy metal trash can near Peterson’s desk, fearing the tiny bit he ate was about to come back up. ” ... we have to assume that he’ll return to see her again. If we play this right, he’ll come to us. Beth will be totally safe ... “ Peterson assured him as he laid out their plan while James tried to recompose himself. ”We just don’t want our man running out on us before we have chance to make an arrest.”

“No... no..... no.......” James said, practically rocking back and forth in the chair as helplessness and terror took turns washing over him, unable to even think rationally anymore, to process what he was trying to say. “He can’t come close to her... no no no....” James continued to mutter, running a hand through his disheveled brown hair.

“Mr. McAllister, if we don’t apprehend Mark soon things could get even more dangerous for Elizabeth. I’ll have at least five plainclothes officers on the scene for the arrest, the man won’t be allowed to do any harm to Elizabeth. It’s the only way to protect her.” Officer Peterson continued on, laying out the plan in full detail for James.

After a time, whether it was minutes or hours was unclear, James finally nodded his acquiescence to the plan, to numb and tired to protest any longer. “All we need is for you to stay away from the hospital... I know that’s asking a lot lad, especially now, but it’s the only way we’ll draw Mark into our tra.....” He was cut off as his phone rang on his desk. “Yes? This is DCI Peterson... you say? What? Yes yes, hold him until we can send a car over for him!” Peterson leapt to his feet as he slammed the phone down on the ringer. “That was hospital public safety. They’ve apprehended a man in Beth’s room attempting to remove her life support.” James’ eyes widened again, his head feeling faint at the words as he realized he wasn’t breathing at all anymore. “I think we’ve caught our man..... Please Mr. McAllister, James, please go home and get some rest., we’ll process him and keep you abreast of any new developments.” He was sweeping out the door as he said the rest, not giving James any time to react.

James sat paralyzed in the office for the better part of ten minutes, his breath coming ragged, his stomach churning angrily. Everything was happening too quickly, James mind was still trying to process the horror of Mark being in his lover’s hospital room and taking pictures. And now... he had attacker her again. James had failed, terribly. He had been gone when she’d been attacked, and now he was absent again. Staggering to his feet James stumbled out of the office, feeling almost drunk as he moved through the police precinct. He hadn’t been there for Beth, not once but twice.

People looked at him, concern in their eyes, whispers going back and forth as James navigated himself to the outside of the police precinct, his hands searching in vain for a cigarette. He had not smoked in almost five years, but now he desperately needed something, anything, to calm his frayed nerves. Almost as if he’d willed it into existence a man next to him pulled a smoke out and offered it to James. “Rough day son?” The man asked and a detached part of James couldn’t help but notice how oddly the man was dressed. He looked as if he’d stepped out of a movie in the 1940s. James opened his mouth to answer but a scene behind him cause him to turn, cigarette falling out of his mouth.

Two officers were wrestling a struggling Mark Bayliss up the stairs of the precinct, holding his cuffed hands behind him firmly as the man struggled. James wasn’t sure what happened next. His vision went red. “YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!” He screamed, the cry ripping from his throat with all the pain and fear of the last two days collected as he lunged forward, fist coming out in a heavy haymaker from over his left shoulder, time seeming to stop as his knuckles smashed into Mark’s nose, a loud crunch coming as Mark’s nose shattered under James’ rage.

The officers reacted quickly, dragging James to the ground, another two running out of the station to help subdue him as he struggled to get back up, to throw himself at the bastard who had hospitalized his Beth. “I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU!!!” He screamed until his throat was raw as Mark struggled back against the officers holding him, yelling back at James.

“YOU WERE NEVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR HER!! SHE NEVER LOVED YOU!! YOU TURNED HER INTO A WHORE!!!” Most of the words just washed over James, mostly unheard as he attempted to throw off the officers pinning him down. “YOU NEVER LOVED HER LIKE I DID!!” Was Mark’s final thrown insult before being dragged into the station.

Officer Peterson came up from an unmarked patrol car, huffing and swearing. “Get off the boy, yes yes I know he assaulted the man, but trust me... listen nothing happened here, calm down lad!” Peterson was talking to everyone at once. With Mark out of his sight James rage slowly subsided, replaced by the bone weary tiredness that had become his constant companion.

“Sir... could I have a moment of your time?” The man in the 1940s suit said as he came walking up from the wall where he had been leaning, an amused look on his face during the whole bruhaha that had just occurred.

“And just who the bloody hell are you?” Peterson said, cringing at his choice of words as the man unfolded an official ID.

“Agent Simon Chrono, SIS.” The man said simply, glancing down at James as the officers finally released him. He was unable to rise to his feet. “I’d like you to have this man sit in on the questioning of Mark Bayliss. I know it’s against SOP, but I have written orders to allow just that, from high in my organization.” He handed Peterson a sealed envelope before moving towards James, offering him a hand to his feet. “James McAllister, I’m Agent Chrono with the SIS, we’ve been following this case since it first broke. We’d like you to be present for the questioning of Mark Bayliss... if you’re feeling up to it that is.”

James looked at him dumbly, trying to figure out what SIS would have to do with Elizabeth’s attack, he couldn’t articulate his questions though so he simply nodded his head. “Yes.. yes I’m up for it.... lead the way.”
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:16 PM   #12
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Mark Bayliss

Mark watched, cursing viciously as the police forced their way into his apartment.

How they had located him and how they had made a link between him and Elizabeth he could not work out, but this was to do with her!
Since they'd met at on her birthday, he crashing the celebratory group to toast the 'birthday girl', he'd been infatuated with her. Few nowadays believed in love at first sight, but as soon as Mark had laid eyes on Elizabeth he knew that they were destined to be together, no matter what …

He lingered for a while, watching now with almost detached curiosity as officers moved in and out of the building. He saw the flash of photography and smiled understanding the need to record, to commit to memory, to evidence. And then items were bagged and removed. But it wasn't the invasion of his property that concerned him, it was the slow realisation that again Lizzie was being taken from him once more …

One by one the boxes and bags were taken out of his apartment, taking his memories, demolishing his shrine to the love they still shared.

He had to go to her. Had to wake her and take her away from the contamination of a relationship with the McAllister guy.
Had to free save from the bonds of those terrible machines. Only he could truly free her and make her completely his once more.
Cursing the lack of a camera, yet thankful for the fortune which had ordained that he be away from his place when the police arrived, Mark ditched the bag of newly purchased groceries and turned heading for the hospital.

Access was surprisingly easy.
He wanted to shout at them about their lax procedures, about their lack of care for his Lizzie, but their carelessness served his purpose and he entered her room unobserved.
As before, Mark stood at the end of the hospital bed. As before the regular beep of the monitor disturbed him, interrupting his thoughts, making it impossible to think straight. He moved to the bedside and flicked a switch, silencing the monitoring and drawing a satisfied smile from him.

”Now we can talk, Lizzie … “

He perched on the bed beside the inert girl.

” … oh you can pretend you can't hear me … “

He continued conversationally.

” … pretend you don't remember … don't remember what we shared, what we said … what we promised … “

He leaned forward as if to kiss her, instead whispering in her ear.

”I will never let you go …. “

His lips pressed against the uninjured temple, the kiss a sealing of that vow as his right hand moved to the wires and began to pull at them, stripping her of their grip.

” … wake up Lizzie … “

He told her, oblivious of the alarms ringing in the nearby nurse's station and the running of security towards the room.

”Wake up!”

He insisted, pulling away the bedcovers and reaching to haul Elizabeth's still form into his arms.
No warning was issued, before he felt himself grabbed and pinned. He wrestled with the two men who held him fast.

”Goddamn it! Wake up!”

His anger grew as he watched nurses reattaching wires and as he was pushed clear of the bed to make way for a Doctor who bent over Elizabeth working on her and blocking her from Mark's view.

An explosion of curses punctuated Mark's removal from the room and ward.
His struggles necessitating him to be cuffed and secured during the relatively short ride to the police station.
All the time he cursed the officers insisting that his 'Lizzie' needed him, that he had to be with her, make her wake up …

He was still struggling against his arrest as the two officers tried to wrestle him inside the Police House.


The cry stopped both Mark and the Officers in their tracks. The boyfriend … Mark identified him briefly before a punch landed on his nose sending him reeling. Blood poured from Mark's nose and he struggled against his bonds noting with satisfaction that the other man had been wrestled to the floor. And yet the other man was fighting to get at Mark.


Mark was enraged by his belated show of concern when all this had been James' fault!
This pathetic man had allowed this to happen, had left Lizzie on her own for too long. What right had he to be upset?


Mark laughed the gloating at the other man's impotent rage.


Lizzie had been led astray and it was all her boyfriend's fault.


That was the difference! If the other man had truly loved her, he would never have let Lizzie behave as she did; never let her lose with those other sluts! Never let her ruin that perfection that she had, even now, despite the corruption she had fallen into.

Mark stilled as he was hauled to the front desk to be 'processed'. Blood still poured down his face, evidence of the other man's temper, but Mark merely smirked now as a Doctor was called to attend him. He had gotten to the other man, made him realise just how shallow the so-called relationship was that he claimed to have with Lizzie. He had seen his anguish, his rage and it made Mark feel good...

Mark held that feeling of triumph within him as he passively went through the motions, refusing to speak when asked to confirm his name and address and smirking at the irritation he caused the officers around him. His defiance led to the conclusion that he was well enough to be questioned immediately. They had read him his rights and asked if he wanted a lawyer to be present, but he had merely shook his head and walked into the room they indicated.

As he sat down, his eyes raised and met with James'.
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:17 PM   #13
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Mark's Interview

”What the fuck's he doing here?”

Mark asked, more curious than angered at James' presence.
The explanation offered was tenuous to say the least, but Mark merely shrugged and accepted it, his eyes returning to the other man who watched him silently, the clenched fists showing Mark that given the chance this 'James' guy would gladly rip him to shreds.
Mark smiled smugly then and leaned back with almost casual indifference and turned his attention to Agent Chrono who activated the recording and gave the details of each person in the room; himself, Peterson and finally;

”.. Mr James McAllister. .. Miss Mason's partner … “

Mark gave a derisive snort at that.

”You were never anything to her … “

He murmured taunting James.

”And your relationship with Miss Mason …?”

The question was asked casually.

”Boyfriend … fiancé at one time … “

Mark threw a look at James as if to reinforce the one-upmanship that the claim gave him.

”Indeed Sir? And yet your relationship lasted what … ?”

The Agent seemed to be consulting his notes.

”... 5 months? Hardly a basis for marriage?”

It was Mark's turn to clench his fists.

”Our initial relationship was more like … 6 months … but we regularly got back together … Lizzie always knew we'd be together one day … when she realised... “

The Agent prompted Mark to continue; " ... realised..?"

” … realised … that I was what she needed. That she needed someone to give her all the attention she needed, someone to protect her and care for her … “

Mark looked at James derisively.

” … not let her whore around … behave like a slut at every bar or nightclub in town … not fuck her and then waltz off 'on business' leaving her open to God knows what ...”

He accused watching James face as he realised that they must have been watched during that weekend he and Beth had spent lovemaking just before he'd had to leave her mere weeks ago.

”You've been watching Miss Mason for some time … “

It was a statement, not a question.

”You recognise this of course … “

The photograph taken of Mark's wall of images was put on the table in front of him.
He glanced down and nodded.

”Of course … I always have Lizzie near me … even when she's not … I always wake up looking at her … “

Again the question.

” … but Elizabeth does not feel the same way, does she?”

He placed first one, then a second, then a third print in front of Mark and watched for his reaction as he looked down at photographs of James and Beth, candid shots taken depicting their happiness together.

”Of course … you may not recognise these Mr Bayliss … I believe these would be more familiar to you …?”

More photographs were laid on the table.
At first glance they seemed the same ones, until you looked at the man in the picture and saw that James had been replaced by Mark.

” … and that's not the only …. creative project … you've undertaken with photographs you've taken of Miss Mason … “

Mark opened his mouth to comment or protest, but the line of questioning changed abruptly.

”Where were you on the evening and early morning of March 18th and 19th?”

Mark shrugged.

”So you weren't near Macey's club?”

Mark frowned.

”I don't know the place, so I couldn't say …”

Again the Officer reached into a folder and drew out a piece of paper in a plastic wallet.

”This receipt was found in your appartment. A receipt for whiskey dated 18th March, sale at 22:00 from an off-license on Marlborough Road... just a couple of hundred metres from Macey's...”

Again the shrug.

”Like I said, I could have been around there... I don't know the club … “

The Officer nodded at Mark's response and sighed almost as if giving up.

”Well … that's a shame … “

The other men were silent.

”... well I mean … if you'd been there … you'd have seen 'Lizzie' … “

He deliberately used Mark's name for her.

”She does like to party, doesn't she …?”

He smiled then and produced another handful of pictures.

”...pretty girl … “

He showed the photograph to Detective Peterson giving what might almost be a leer.

”Yesss … quite a looker …. “!

She smiled and put one, two, three photographs in front of Mark. Mark picked them up. These he had not seen before. These had been taken by Beth's friends as they got ready for the night out and then another in the back of the limo.

The Agent took out another a few more prints.

”... sure knows how to have a good time … “

He showed the picture to Peterson again, pointing with a lewd grin.
Mark snatched the print from his hand, but he did not react.

” … hen nights are like that … “

Agent Chrono said smoothly as Mark stared at the photographs of Elizabeth dancing with her friends and then with one of the strippers in the background. The final photograph pictured her posing with one of the handsome males, his upper torso suitably exposed.

” … slut … “

The low growl emitted from Mark.

” … excuse me … ?”

Mark threw the photos down and turned to James.

”This is what she's become with HIM!”

His voice was all disgust.

”... Running around dressed like a tart, throwing herself at men, just asking for trouble … “

Chrono again prompted gently.

” … trouble …?”

”She'd never have fucked around on me!”

This again to Mark.

”Never have been loitering round alley ways, like some bitch on heat … “

The gentle prod once more …

”The alley by the club … ?“

A curt nod from Mark.

” … making like she was talking in her phone … “

He laughed.

” … oldest trick in the book … and she looked right at me … fucking pricktease … “

Peterson looked across at James and gestured for him to remain silent.

”... but she sure looked scared …“

His laugh was low and dark as he remembered how he had broken her phone.

” … not for long though … “

Agent Chrono questioned carefully ...

”You attacked her didn't you Mark.”

Mark looked up as if taken by surprise.

”Attacked? … no … “

He shook his head as if the idea was alien to him.

”Lizzie knew how to behave when she was with ME!”

Again the glare at James.

”HE might put up with that kind of behaviour … but she has always known that I never would!”

Mark laughed mirthlessly and glanced down at the selection of pictures handed him, pictures of Beth that had been taken covertly and all annotated by Mark before sending to her.

”Lizzie knew how I felt and knew that I'd never put up with her behaving like some dumb cunt ...
…but she pushed and pushed … she knew that one day, I'd come and save her … “

The question again; ” … save her … “

Mark shrugged.

”From herself...

He looked at James.

”And from HIM.”

Last edited by DeliciousMaiden : 03-28-2011 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:55 PM   #14
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James tried to steel himself as he rose back to his feet. He wasn’t even sure why he had agreed to the strange man’s request that James join him in the questioning of Mark Bayliss. He didn’t know the man other than the horrible events that had occurred over the past two days, but apparently Mark was quite familiar with him. It made his skin crawl to know that he and Beth had eyes on them for so long, jeaouls, watching eyes.

Maybe part of James hoped they would get rough in the questioning, it would do nothing to ease the pain of Beth laying in that hospital bed, but it would be satisfying to see. Or maybe he really hoped that Mark would have the secret behind why a man from MI6 was here for what should have been a routine police investigation. James was still trying to wrap his mind around that one, though so much was happening at once he couldn’t possibly process all the information he was being bombarded with at once.

He watched dispassionately as they processed Mark, slightly smug as he watched Mark bleed from his nose, though he knew he had won no real fight today by making a man in handcuffs bleed. Soon they were hauling Mark into the holding interview room, officer Peterson and the odd Agent Chrono entering first to make sure Mark was safely secured before motioning James in after.

James’ sat in a chair, placed smartly far away from the handcuffed Mark, in the interview room, fists clenching and unclenching themselves as his short nails dug furrows into his palms. He stared murder and confusion at the man in front of him, trying to figure out how he could get to Mark and batter him without being arrested himself while at the same time trying to understand how anyone could want to hurt Elizabeth... beautiful, bubbly, carefree Elizabeth. Tears were pooling in his eyes again, but now he forced them down, not wanting to show that weakness in front of this psychopath.

James sat through the interview, gritting his teeth as certain facts were revealed to him.
”And your relationship with Miss Mason …?” Mark was asked in a matter of fact way.

”Boyfriend … fiancé at one time … “ His answer stunned James, his eyes widening with shock. They had been... engaged? Beth had never mentioned any sort of engagement before. He quickly tried to get himself back under control, to not give Mark the satisfaction of seeing him put off by his answer. What if he was lying? Maybe he only thought they were engaged he tried to tell himself, he seemed unstable enough for it to be a distinct possiblity.

His relationship with Elizabeth had been about as long as theirs had been up to the point of the attack, was that significant somehow? Had Mark chosen this time to strike intentionally? Or had his rage simply boiled to an uncontrolled explosion? James had so many questions he wanted to scream at the man but he forced himself to stay silent as the two other men worked him over.

The revelations became spookier after the initial questions were out of the way. The pictures of Mark’s shrine to Elizabeth made James shudder, the sensation of someone having walked over his grave causing his skin to goosebump. This man was most certainly obsessed, possessive and disturbed. James had no doubt he could have easily attacked Beth.

Mark’s accusations against James further served to confirm how he felt about the relationship the two of them have. What most normal people would interpret as a healthy relationship Mark saw as neglect... James couldn’t have imagined the hell his Beth must have gone through with this man, once again understanding why she had always avoided talking about the worst of her relationship past.

James felt his stomach acting up again for about the hundredth time in the last two days as he saw the photos of him and Beth, James having been replaced in nearly all the photos by Mark through clever manipulation of photoshop software. He was genuinely scared of this man in front of him now. This obsession was something out of a horror movie and James wondered what else this man sitting in handcuffs might have been capable of.

Officer Peterson seemed generally disturbed by some of the things they had found in Mark’s apartment, but other man, Agent Chrono, showed none of this emotions on his face. He continued to question Mark, rapid fire questions designed to trip him up, asking him now about the facts of the evening Beth had been attacked. Mark tried to play innocent with the two lawmen at first, denying knowing the club where Beth had been with her friends when she’d been attacked, but the two officers saw the lie there.

In the span of a moment they had manipulated Mark into an angry froth. The small detached part of James was impressed by the subtly and subterfuge they employed, showing Mark photos of Beth that night, making lewd comments about her. James could feel himself growing angry, he could only imagine what was going through Marks mind.

And then it was flowing free, the anger and vitroil as Mark began to swear violently, cursing James and Elizabeth, occurring her of whoring about, admitting to having attacked her, laughing sinisterly at the way she had looked before he had attacked her. James felt the hate rising up in him once more and he grabbed the legs of the chair, willing his entire body to fuse itself to the ground, or he knew he would murder this man.

Mark regained his composure just in time to deny having attacked Elizabeth, but he had to know the damage was done, he’d offered too much evidence, he’d put himself at the scene and provided the motive. Peterson turned away a relieved smile on his face as the other Agent continued to stare at Mark, waiting for him to say more.

”Lizzie knew how to behave when she was with ME!” The words were violent, spittle flying from Marks lips as his eyes bored into James, the raw hate in them making it almost difficult for James to maintain the glare at the man who may have murdered his lover. ”HE might put up with that kind of behaviour … but she has always known that I never would! Lizzie knew how I felt and knew that I'd never put up with her behaving like some dumb cunt ...
…but she pushed and pushed … she knew that one day, I'd come and save her … “

Both of the officers turned back to James at that point, Agent Chrono pushing his fedora back on his head slightly as the last sentence hung in the air for a moment that stretched into eternity.

“....... save her?” Agent Simon finally said, staring at Mark with an emotionless look upon his face.

”From herself... And from HIM.” Mark snarled and suddenly the chair James was sitting in was clattering to the floor and he was coming at Mark again, teeth clenched in anger as a heavy fist swung forward again, intent on pulverizing the bastard’s face. Peterson’s yell came a moment too late, but Agent Chrono moved, faster than James had ever seen a person move, his fist coming up to catch James throw punch, a quick twist of the wrist lock James wrist and haul his arm behind his back, a painful sensation accompanying any struggle James made.

“Get him out of here.” The agent said simply as he continued to pin James against the hard desk in front of them. Officer Peterson grabbed Mark, pulling him roughly to his feet as the handcuffed man laughed down at James’ feeble attempts to attack him. “I was always what Lizzie really wanted... you were just a mistake!” Mark yelled as he was pulled out of the interview room.

The agent held James in the arm lock for almost a full minute after Mark had left the room “Ready to behave yourself my boy?” He asked simply as he eased off on the pressure of James’ arm. James nodded, the fight out of him with Mark gone, moving his arm back and forth in pain as the agent stepped away from him. “I know that couldn’t have been easy for you to witness, but trust me, there are reasons you had to hear all that.” He gestured to the chair in front of the metal table as he moved around to the chair Mark had been sitting in, settling down in it before adjusting his suit and drawing a brown manila envelope from within.

James sat down in the offered chair, staring at the man warily. He still wasn’t sure what this man had to do with anything, but Peterson had deferred to him every since he’d showed up on the scene, and the fact that he was attached to SIS gave him an even more elusive air about him. “James McAllister, American born, moved to London early 2010 to accept work in the London branch of the Goldburg Marketing agency...” The man read off James’ bio sheet, James nodding to confirm all the facts.

“Mr. McAllister, my name is Agent Chrono. I represent a certain agency, our operations are not known outside the upper echelons. We are known simply as the Tempus Directive.”

Some small remembered fact from university tickled James memory at the name. “Tempus? Time in latin?” He asked simply, now thoroughly confused.

“That’s correct Mr. McAllister. I have been directed by my organization to look into this attack. It will have...” He took a deep breath. “... long lasting effects if it is not prevented.”

If it is not prevented? The attack had already happened? What was this man talking about? “Prevent it? It happened two days ago....” James said warily, unsure about where this all was going.

“This is true Mr. McAllister, but my organization has a very peculiar view on the way these things work.” He reached into his pocket and drew out a small pocket watch, gold inlaid and polished to a bright shine. “I will be very simple with you Mr. McAllister, James if I may?” James nodded at him. “My organization would like to offer you a very unique opportunity to set things right.” He pushed the watch across the table towards James.

James took the pocket watch, brow knit tight in confusion at everything the agent was saying. Opening the face he saw a single large hand of delicate crystal arranged around a clock face of Roman numerals. On the top was a dial display for what date it was, including a spot for the year, an odd inclusion on a normal pocket watch. James couldn’t help but notice that the hand was not moving at all. “A broken pocket watch? That’s going to set things right?” James said despondently, frustration in his voice.

“Not a pocket watch James....” Simon took another deep breath. “It’s a chrono displacement device... a time machine.” He saw the look of complete confusion and disbelief in James eyes and pushed forward before the young man could protest. “Our organization monitors the strength of the temporal field of the world and attempts to right any dangerous fluctuations that events might cause to it. And this is a major one. I cannot tell you why, but it is of utmost importance that Elizabeth not be hospitalized.”

“This... this is a fucking joke right?” James said, anger beginning to replace confusion, everything that had happened in the last couple of days and now this bastard was playing a joke on him? He gripped the watch tightly, wanting to throw it back the agent’s face.

“I assure it it is not Mr. McAllister. I understand how it could appear to be so however.” He pushed the manila envelope across the desk towards James. “In here is all the information we have compiled on the relationship between Mark and your Elizabeth. Use the information as you can. You may not believe me now, but please hear me out.” James glared at him but kept his mouth shut as the agent continued. “Each device can only be keyed to one individual person, a person with an emotional attachment to the incident that has occurred... Only one device may ever be configured to that person and each device hold three charges.” He paused for a moment, as if trying to decide what to reveal next. “That means you will have three chances to travel backwards, to save Elizabeth from the fate that has befallen her.”

“Ok, so if this is true why don’t I just go back and kill Mark?” He asked, frustration at this cruel joke still heavy in James’ speech. “Just get a gun and shoot him before he can hurt Beth?”

“That would be one option.” The lack of emotion in the agent’s voice caused a doubtful look settle on James’ face. “However our profile suggests you would have a very difficult time pulling that trigger. Just remember, you have three chances to jump, to fix the damage that has been done.” He took the watch from James, opening it up once more. “The large wheel controls the date. The smaller one the hour. Set your target date and time, then press both buttons in. That is all the help I am allowed to offer you.” He rose as he finished saying that, smoothing his 1940s suit again as he moved towards the door. “Also, time travel has different effects on each individual, I cannot prepare you for what you will experience. Mention this to no one and show the device to no one. MI6 will deny any knowledge of my organization, and the watch could be very dangerous outside of your hands.”

“No, you’re not serious. Why would you FUCKING tease me with this hope!?” He yelled after the man as the door closed behind him. James was on his feet a moment later, chasing after the man, throwing the door to the interview room open... and finding no sign of the Agent outside. “Where did he go? Did you see a guy in an old suit and fedora just a moment ago!?” James asked the person sitting at the desk closest to the door.

“Umm yes, he came out with detective Peterson and the perp they were interviewing about five minutes ago...” She gave James a crazy look.

“What.. no... ummm I mean... I’m sorry, I’m under a lot of stress.” James said, excusing himself quickly as he left the building, wanting more than ever to ground himself once more, to see Beth. A cab took him to the hospital as he distractedly spent the whole trip trying to work out everything that had just happened. He clutched the manila envelope and watch closely, wanting desperately to just throw them out the window, but some unknown sensation keeping him from doing just that.

It had to be nonsense, time travel... a terrible joke played on a desperate grieving man. But he’d seemed so serious... James head was throbbing by the time he arrived back the hospital. The nurses on duty recognized him now, but he had few words of greetings as he rushed towards Elizabeth’s bedside. The police security detail there moved as if to stop him for a moment until they recognized him as the grieving boyfriend and moved aside. “My condolences..” One of them said simply as James slipped into the room.

Seeing Elizabeth again caused a breath of relief to escape from his body. He settled into a chair next to her, talking to her in a soft voice about everything that had happened, holding her hand gently in his, praying for her to wake up, for this horrible nightmare to end. “I know it was Mark who did this to you... I wish I could have stopped him..” His talking went on for several hours, hoping that perhaps his voice would bring her back, but finally night fell and James ran out of things to say. The pocket watch still rested in his pocket. What a horrible thing to hold onto he told himself. A terrible thing to give a man false hope he thought in his head as his hands pulled the watch out opening the face.

“If only I could turn back time....” He muttered to himself as he fiddled with the dials, running the dates up and down to important moments in his relationship with Elizabeth... The date they had met, the date they moved in together.. He scrolled a the day dial a week past the current date. “The date I was going to propose...” he said softly under his breath. Tears flooding his eyes. His hands moved almost of their own accord to the date she had been attacked. “Damn you Mark....” He muttered sadly, his fingers pressing both of the dials down gently.

A loud POP sound flooded the hospital and James eyes were flooded with bright light causing him to cry out, trying to shield his eyes, but finding no relief from the searing light. Suddenly he was falling, still blinded, accelerating quickly towards the ground, a cry of fear refusing to escape his lips. Then silence. The light slowly receeded and James blinked away the last spots of light in his eyes.

He was in his apartment! What had just happened? With a quick hopeful glance he pulled the blackberry from his pocket. It was the date he’d put on the pocket watch... the date she’d been attacked... It... it had worked! As he slowly recovered from the shock he noticed a voicemail indicator on his phone. Dialing it with shaky fingers he held the phone up to his ear. Elizabeth’s voice, shouting over the loud noise of the club behind her. Her words expressed regret that he was in New York, but that she’d do her best to have fun with him gone before telling him she loved him and wishing him luck in his meeting.

The sound of her voice caused a wellspring within his heart. He was terrified he would forget what she sounded like. Sudden realization struck him. He was home. HE WAS IN ENGLAND! Checking the time he quickly grabbed his jacket and upon a moment’s thought, the Louisville Slugger baseball bat he had gotten from his last trip to Yankee stadium.

“I’m coming Elizabeth.... I’ll be there this time!” He yelled as he ran out the front door of their building, rushing towards the club that had been mentioned in the interrogation of Mark.
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Old 03-31-2011, 06:56 PM   #15
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“Good luck at the meeting, babe! I just know you’ll knock ‘em dead!”
(An aside... ‘ I’ll be right there... as Beth's friends urged her to go back into the heart of the club.’)
Got to go now ... I have no idea what state Emma’s gonna be in by the end of the evening ...
God, you should see her ... but I’ll tell you all about it when you get back.
I miss you ... take care James ... love you ... “

Beth sighed as she clicked off the phone, slipping it into her bag as she turned to face her two friends, Kelly and Zara.

”Miss you ... lurrrve you ... “

They teased could naturedly making kissy noises. Beth laughed and playfully batted them away.

”There’s a time difference. I just want him to pick up the message between meetings ...”

Beth explained en route to their tables giggling as Emma and the others were passing round the magazines so thoughtfully provided by others in the group.

”Hey! What am I missing ..?”

Beth queried, taking a sip of her wine and taking the proffered magazine from a dark haired girl, Jennifer.

”Oh my Godd... “

It was Kelly’s exclamation as she caught sight of the posed nude guy.

”Mmmm... not bad... “

Beth pretended to assess his merits ...

”... but not as good as your ‘Jamie’...”

Zara giggled continuing the sentence for her.

Beth passed the magazine on and regarded her friend with a mock stern look.

”I rather think that it’s YOU who’s obsessed with my boyfriend THIS evening... “

She accused good naturedly drawing heated denials and further imitations of Beth’s previous phone call which led to obvious questions from the other girls.

” ... around 6 months ... he’s in... well... Gold marketing... “

Her news drew an impressed squeal from the others which she waved off.

”... he’s just a regular guy ... business is business whether its software, property, gold or ... whatever ... “

She told the others, responding good naturedly to their continuing interest.

”New York ... big meeting ... no he doesn’t go away too often ... but we don’t need to live in each other’s pockets ... “

Her comment informed the others that they were living together, causing raised eyebrows and meaningful glances.

” ... what ...?”

Beth queried as they nudged each other.

” ... next one up the aisle...?”

They suggested, drawing a vehement shake of the head from Beth.

”I doubt we’re anywhere near that yet ... “

She commented.

”... engagement ... marriage... it’s a big step ... “

She commented, a memory pushing its way forward unbidden.

”... nothing to rush into ... “

Beth finished with forced levity as she nodded across at Emma who was already dancing with the rest of the group.

”And for tonight... we’re young, free and single so ... “

Standing up then, Beth hauled the girls to their feet and dragged them across to join Emma.
The music was loud and selected to appeal to the all-female groups.
Numbers on the dance floor swelled and groups mixed and then to crown it all, a group of still scantily clad male strippers appeared on the dance floor seeking out the brides-to-be for specific attention reducing the party to hysterical laughter.

All too soon, the time flew and though they had agreed to head out of the club at around 12:30, it seemed that the group had joined in conspiracy and so that when she went in to try to round the others up and ensure they had plenty of time to get out to the waiting car, a rather handsome looking stripper approached her telling her that the group had declared Beth a bride-to-be-in-waiting l and engaged in a sexy slow dance and subjected her to equal 'bridal' attention whilst around her cameras flashed recording the event for future reference!

And so, later than planned the girls made their goodbyes to the sexy young man and headed out into the club foyer, steering Emma ahead of them as they ensured that she did indeed have all her belongings and walked in the middle of the group as they steered her outside with Beth, Kelly and Zara bringing up the rear.

”Just wait ‘til I show James those photos ... “

Kelly threatened teasingly.

”... though I’d best wait until AFTER the proposal ....”

She clarified, going off into peals of laughter.

” ... I definitely want copies ... “

Was Beth’s reply.

” ... and if you don’t show them to James, then I will ... “

Her friends laughed incredulously lining arms as the breathed in the cool early morning air.

” ... why wouldn’t I share the laugh with him?”

Beth continued keeping a careful eye on Emma as she staggered round in a circle.

”... head for the corner ...”

Beth instructed the others reassured when they took the disorientated bride in hand, then turned back to the two friends at her side.

”... James trusts me ... so he’s hardly going to see some stripper as competition...or a threat to ... ”

He halted, as the others had done as a man approached them rapdily.

”... if he trusts you so much... what is he doing here..."

Zara asked, followed by Kelly's query;

" ... and why isn’t he in New York ...!?!”

Beth was shocked, but despite the interpretation her friends put on her boyfriend's sudden appearance, Beth could only assume that he had managed to return early and come to surprise her and ensure she got home safetly.

Her smile lit her face as she gasped in pleasure;

”Oh my God! ... James ... Wh... ?!?”

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Old 04-04-2011, 03:20 PM   #16
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The cool night air hit James’ skin immediately as he exited the flat he shared with Elizabeth. His blackberry was in his hands, the baseball bat balanced awkwardly in the crook of his arm as he tried to pull up information on the club Elizabeth had been, would be he reminded himself, assaulted at.

The connection seemed to take an eternity to pull up any sort of information and James was close to screaming expletives at his phone when he finally found the address. It was halfway across town! With a muttered curse he quickly jogged to the closest main street, once again bemoaning his lack of personal transportation. A minicab was quickly hailed, and despite the odd look the man gave the clearly distraught James they were quickly pulling away from the curb.

“Fifty extra quid if you get me there in the next fifteen minutes...” James said as he stared out the window, his leg shaking with impatience at the perceived slow pace of the cab. His mind was trying to sort out the facts of everything that had and was happening. He could feel a rail splitting headache developing.

“Whoa there Hollywood, we’ll get you there when we get you there...” The cabbie, an Irishman if James read his accent correctly, responded, glancing in his rear view mirror with a sarcastic smile on his lips. James wanted to strangle him. “What’s the big rush anyhow rock star?”

James did not reply to the man’s taunts, instead contenting himself with the increase in speed in the cab despite the man’s surly demeanor. James checked his phone again, noting the time, trying to remember through the hazy fog of the last week or so when they had said that Beth had been admitted to the ER. He knew it was sometime late. He just hoped he wouldn’t be too late. If only he’d known this would actually work, He could have gone back even earlier in the day.

A number of other small questions nagged at James as the cab sped through the streets of downtown London. If he was here, what was going on in New York? Was there another James in the world still in New York giving a presentation to the Goldburg board? What would happen when that James returned to New York? He quickly pushed those questions behind, his brain pulsating with pain as he tried to just focus on the one important fact. He had to save her.

You never seemed to realize how large a city could be until you needed to get somewhere in a short amount of time. James’ had lived in New York and London for so long he often forgot how large an area the sprawling metropolises were. Now though he was acutely aware of every kilometer covered. Every red light that ate up the time he had before the unthinkable happened again caused him to clench his jaw in anger.

Finally they arrived at the club, a large neon sign proclaiming Macey’s in garish colors. James had already pulled a handful of pound notes from his wallet, threw them at the Irishman, paying him well over the extra fifty promised as he bolted out of the automobile, barely keeping his feet as he juggled the bat in his hands. He looked around frantically, searching for signs of an ambulance, a police car, a large crowd, anything that would tell him he was too late. Then his eyes found hers.

A wave of relief and peace washed over his heart as he locked gazes, her brown eyes looking back at him, a mixture of shock and happiness on her face as her lips curved up into a smile. Two of her friends stood nearby, but James had eyes only for his love. A small breeze caught her hair, tussling it momentarily, and James felt his knees buckle. She was still here, conscious and happy, Mark hadn’t gotten to her yet.

That thought brought him back to the task at hand. His eyes narrowed as they broke her gaze, searching frantically in the darkness of the evening sky. Then he saw him. Pressed back in an alleyway, shadows cloaking his movements, camera hanging from a strap around his neck. His hand clutched a large lead pipe and he shook with rage as he stepped forward out of the alleyway. James had barely made it!

“STAY.... THE... HELL...... AWAY!!!” James screamed, surprising even himself with the primal nature of it as he pivoted his weight, launching off his right foot as he sprinted towards a shocked Mark, who had made no note of his arrival, so intent he was on watching Elizabeth. James held the bat over his left shoulder like a giant war axe, charging Mark with a barbarian like fury that froze Beth’s ex fiancee in mute fear.

The bat descended, all of James’ hate and pain of the past week in the blow, catching Mark squarely on the shoulder, the sickening crunch of pulverized bone coming from his shoulder as he let out a shrill cry of pain. James drew the bat back once more and Mark stumbled backwards, barely avoiding a skull splitting slash aimed at his temple. Then he was turned and running, one arm hanging uselessly as he sprinted away from James fury. Torn between whether to give chase or see to Elizabeth, he lost too much space on the man, fear giving Mark’s feet a speed James, in his exhausted and frayed state, could not hope to match.

So he turned back towards the club, where Elizabeth and her two friends huddled close together, fearful at what they had just witnessed. James knew what a sight it must have been. He just hoped Elizabeth had understood what was happening. As he approached he could see the confusion in her brown eyes, mingled with apprehension at his approach. He let the bat fall out of his hands as he came before her. “You’re still here....” He said simply, slight tears clouding his vision as he reached out and wrapped his arms around her, drawing her in close. At first she was stiff, still frightened at the fury she had seen in him. “You’re safe.....” He whispered quietly as his hand found her hair, and he felt her loosen in his hands, her hands wrapping around him. “I’m not going to let him hurt you.... ever.”

It was only then James realized he had never called the cops. Mark was still loose out there. He would have to protect Beth until he was found.
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:12 AM   #17
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Beth was amazed that James had suddenly appeared out of nowhere!
He was a spontaneous and romantic man and she couldn't help but be pleased that he had managed to get back from his business trip earlier than expected!

For long moments their gazes locked and she was amazed at how intensely he looked at her. He had been gone for over a week and although she was always busy and had a busy work and social life she had missed him incredibly and it was clear from his expression that James had missed her too.

Even as she watched, Beth saw James turn, seeming to focus on the dark alley beyond. She followed his gaze and too saw a dark shadow lurking, but before she could even begin to make sense of the coincidence James was shouting at the figure.

“STAY.... THE... HELL...... AWAY!!!”

His voice was unlike anything Beth had heard from him before. She shrank back, finding her two friends close by as James took off to sprint after the shadow in the alleyway. Beth could only watch mutely as the vat was swung viciously as James became an attacker of the innocent bystander! The two swallowed up in the darkness until finally James emerged, disheveled and agitated, his breath rapid as he walked back across the road towards her.

Beth did not understand what she had just seen, much less the cause of the unprecedented rage she had just witnessed.

“You’re still here....”

The bat was on the floor now, totally forgotten. She saw tears in his eyes as he reached out for her. She knew she had to ask him what on earth was going on, ask him why he had suddenly appeared, but was unable to resist melting into his arms as he held her tightly to him.

“You’re safe.....”

He stroked her hair, the most soothing action he knew she loved.
She was confused, scared, but despite it all, she knew she was safe with James. She wound her arms around him and drew him as close to her aware as she did so that he would be able to feel the tremor that still ran through her body.

“I’m not going to let him hurt you.... ever.”

The whispered promise was so earnest that Beth drew back just enough to stare into James' face.

” … let who hurt me?”

She questioned, her mind whirring and then looking across into the alley.
There had been a man there. Surely that man was not …

” … Mark … “

The whispered name was past her lips before she could stop it.
But James knew nothing about him. She had been so careful not to let the past contaminate the wonderful relationship she now had.
But as she looked up into his face she knew that somehow James knew who she had referred to and still worse had found out that he was stalking her and meant her harm.

” … God no … “

She whispered, her face paling as she clung to James.

” … not again … “

And then Emma threw up.
And the focus was the hen party again.


They had come out late and the car was not waiting for them and it was down to Beth to locate their transport home. Somehow Beth managed to pick up her role as party leader and took out her phone moving away from James to make the call. She was relieved when she was informed that the car was waiting just round the block and would be there in moments and rounded her group up to head back off in that direction.

Her closest friends eyed James warily even as the others asked if she was coming with them and suggested that James too should ride home in the limo with them.
It was James who quietly insisted that they would he and Beth would take a separate cab home. Beth nodded in agreement with the suggestion ignoring the anxious looks from the two girls as they watched the limo park up at the corner.

” … give me a minute … “

She told James as she laughed and joked with the bride-to-be and her friends clambered into the vehicle.

”You sure you'll be ok, Beth?”

It was Kelly who asked her as she cast a glance back towards where James stood watching Beth intently.

”You can come back to ours .. “

Zara offered as worried as the other by what they had seen.

Beth followed the direction of their gaze and shook her head, her smile widening slowly.

”As long as I'm with James I'll be fine … “

She assured them.
”He'd have ... had his reasons ... You don't need to worry … honestly … “

Reluctantly they hugged her and slid into the Limo.
By the time it was pulling away James had joined Beth and waved the party off, his arm protectively around her.

”Let's discuss this at home … “

Beth was reluctant to start the conversation even though questions burned about how James had learned about Mark?

She was sure he would never have gone through her journals, much less found the hidden box where she had kept a record of the months and years her life had been ruined by Mark.
But more to the point how did he know Mark was out there watching her? Beth had been so confident that she had finally broken free of her ex and now … who knew how long he had been following her and most likely photographing her and what his motives were this time …
She shuddered at the thought and sank gratefully into the cab that James had summoned out of nowhere remaining silent in the back seat as James wrapped his arms around her and held her close all too aware that her body seemed to be trembling; a combination of chill and fear that Beth could not seem to stop.

James was as solicitous as he paid off the cab and escorted her into the house. Beth noted that he looked round before he unlocked their door and that he put the bolts in place immediately after they had entered. Her fright grew as he made his way around the apartment checking windows and ensuring all was secure. She turned and walked into their bedroom, sitting on the bed and kicking off her shoes before easing off her lace top stockings. Everything in the apartment had been as she left it, she had noted. The drawers containing her journals untouched and the boxes with past journals and the Mark Journals seemingly still in place.

She was struggling to unzip her dress when James entered their bedroom.

”Help me …?”

She asked turning as he sat beside her and obligingly drew the zip down her back.

”I'm frozen … “

She told him softly, knowing that as usual James would ease out of his own clothes and help her out of hers,then they would slip into bed together, their combined body warmth able to thaw any chill.

Not until she was pressed close against James clinging tightly to him as he held her and stroked her hair did Beth finally dare ask.

”What … what do you know about … Mark … ?”

She raised her eyes to his.

”And tonight … how ... ?”

She dreaded what he might tell her, yet she had to know ...
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:58 PM   #18
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James bit back more sobs of relief as he crushed Elizabeth’s body against his, the warmth of her heat on the cold night a glorious reminder that she was safe. At least for the moment. Inwardly James was cursing himself for letting the man escape into the night. Mark would still be out there. But at least now he would be scared, and James could contact the authorities and let them know. He could worry later. Right now all he wanted was to spend eternity in Beth’s arms.

Her whispered words, full of confusion and fear brought him back to the present, in the alley outside a cold London evening. He wanted to tell her everything, from the attack, to the madness of the past day, but he couldn’t bring himself to speak. How would it sound anyway? He’d time traveled to come save her from her crazy ex boyfriend? It still sounded insane to him and he had lived through it.

And then with a retching sound one of her friends lost her evening’s revelry all over the alley, and despite the seriousness of the situation James couldn’t help but smile in amusement.

Letting Elizabeth slip from his arms he looked around the scene before him, avoiding eye contact with Beth’s more sober friends, the one’s who stared at him with doubt and fear coloring their face. He knew what kind of impression he had just made. Hell he had been practically frothing at the mouth when he confronted Mark, like a mad dog. Whatever credibility he’d earned with Beth’s friends he’d lost this night. But he would burn as many bridges as it took to keep her safe.

He sighed slightly as she moved away from him, his thoughts still a messed up jumble. He could see her friends, making sure she was safe with him. James felt a guilty pang at that and part of him wanted to scream. They couldn’t know what he’d been through the past forty eight hours, and to explain would just make him seem even more unstable in their eyes. His head was beginning to hurt.

As Beth dealt with rounding up the remainder of the hen party James phoned the police. He wanted to ask specifically for DCI Peterson, but held that in check. The man wouldn’t know who he was since none of what had happened in the last couple of days would occur now. Instead he reported a stalker threatening his girlfriend. Gave the description and name of Mark Bayliss, struggled to remember the address that the police had used when questioning Mark. He promised to come in promptly the next morning to give a more accurate statement, but that he would have to attend to Elizabeth for the evening.

As he hung up the phone he glanced over again at Elizabeth, his mind still muddled with everything that had happened. She was safe but Mark was still out there. He put a hand to his temples and tried to rub away the building headache cascading over him. As she continued to assure her friends that she would be safe with him James moved to the street, attempting to hail down a cab.

As he waved at the passing black cabs he tried to sort out in his mind what he would tell Elizabeth. She had never spoken of Mark at any length, and she had never mentioned any of the dark secrets about her past to him before. Those parts of her life had always been vague to him, locked away in a shoebox hidden deep in the closet.. both physically and emotionally. He just didn’t know what to tell her. Nothing he had to say sounded real to him, what would it sound like to her? Maybe a lie would be best. He could come up to something.. anything would be better than the truth. He already looked crazy enough.

He watched the limo pull away as Beth moved back towards him, her body still shaking slightly in fear. James placed his arm around her, looking into her face, his lips parting momentarily, still trying to work out what to say.

”Let's discuss this at home … “ She said softly as they settled into the cab, his arms protectively enfolding her once again. He muttered their address to the driver. They rode in silence, James just losing himself in the feeling of his lover’s form.

Finally they were back home. James’ glanced nervously about before entering the house. Every shadow seemed to be sinister, and James quickly locked up their flat, even checking the windows, a foolish gesture as they lived well above the ground floor, but one that made him feel a bit more peace. When he finally exhausted places to check he returned to the bedroom, all the butterflies in his stomach finally settling when he saw Beth sitting on the bed, struggling with the zipper to her dress.

”Help me …?”

His hand shook slightly as he reached over, his fingertips brushing over the back of her neck gently before gripping the small zipper and pulling it down.

”I'm frozen … “ She whispered as he slid the dress off her shoulders, the slight shudder of her body as it slid off her made him reach out and run his fingers along her arm before continuing to undress her. He pulled off his own clothes, disheveled as they were from the encounter earlier in the evening.

They lay next to each other for a long time, saying nothing as they both tried to chase away the terror from the evening. Finally the chill began to fade, Elizabeth in his arms, his hand brushing her hair softly as he stared at the ceiling, thinking about nothing and everything all at once.

”What … what do you know about … Mark … ?”

Her beautiful eyes looked into his, he could see all the unasked questions in them, the questions he knew he could never properly answer.

”And tonight … how ... ?”

He took a heavy breath, still unsure just what he could say. “I.... I received an e-mail when I landed in New York...” He had set his course on the lie now and took another deep breath to gather his thoughts. “It was somewhat vague, but it was also very threatening. It said that you were being watched, that I was letting you be....” He tried to remember some of the things Mark had said in the interrogation room, the memory mostly lost in an angry haze. “That I was letting you be a whore...” He cringed at even using the word. “I quickly booked a flight back here, scared for your safety... When I got off the plane I had another e-mail, this one even more threatening... so I raced to the club... The name of it stuck when you told me for some reason... And well.. I saw him lurking in the shadows there... and he had a knife... I just... I didn’t know what to do I just snapped..” He was babbling, knowing the lie coming out of his mouth had a lot of holes in it.

His arms pulled her closer as his lips brushed against hers, the first kiss since he’d laid on her lips as she lay broken in a coma. He felt tears gathering in his eyes again as he buried his face in her hair, his hand holding the back of her neck as he kissed her yet again.

“But.... well.. who is he Beth?” James said when he finally pulled his lips away from hers. “How do you know this Mark?” He looked into her eyes, part of him scared and another part eager to hear the story from her own lips.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:52 PM   #19
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Beth clung to James as he began to speak.

“I.... I received an e-mail when I landed in New York...”

She thought his words strange, but let him continue without interruption.

“It was somewhat vague, but it was also very threatening. It said that you were being watched, that I was letting you be... That I was letting you be a whore...”

She flinched at the word. James’ explanation had seemed strange, but she knew all too well who might refer to her in that way, so somehow Mark must have gotten to James’ email?

“I quickly booked a flight back here, scared for your safety... When I got off the plane I had another e-mail, this one even more threatening... so I raced to the club... The name of it stuck when you told me for some reason... And well.. I saw him lurking in the shadows there... and he had a knife... I just... I didn’t know what to do I just snapped..”

She raised her head then. .... a knife ...!?!? She had never known Mark to be armed before, but then she had managed to evade him for months... years now ... She couldn’t believe that the whole nightmare was to repeat itself once more.

Beth clung to James as he pulled her closer, his lips loving, comforting, yet somehow desperate as the kiss deepened and they clung to each other as if they could will away the threat that somehow lurked out there ... She looked up at him then, the next kiss tender as James’ hand caressed her neck, his intimate touches, as always, bringing a sensual shiver to her body, even at such a time like this ...

“But.... well.. who is he Beth?”

She blinked at the question. All it seemed James knew was that this man was following and threatening her. She almost sighed in relief. Perhaps he never had to know the details ...

“How do you know this Mark?”

She could not evade his gaze, not shut him out. Even keeping the full story from James would be lying to him and Beth couldn’t bring herself to do that ...

”He ... “

She started uncertainly.

”He’s a guy I met at Uni .... “

She tried out giving basic information, but could see that this did not satisfy James’ query.

”I met him ... on my birthday ... “

She recalled with a wry shake of the head.

”He was ... “

She searched for the words.

” ... pretty full on ... right from the beginning ... but at the time ... “

She shrugged. She had thought his insistence charming, flattering even.

”I never realised that he’d turn into some obsessed maniac ... “

Her voice was light, but wavered, indicating that her remark was far from a joke.
She glanced at James who was listening attentively and gave a heavy sigh, easing upright and turning so that she could face him as they spoke.

”It was the last year of Uni ... I met him by accident ... I thought that all the charm was turned on in honour of my birthday ... just his way of making a fuss of the ‘birthday girl’... “

Shrugging, she continued.

” ... but then he kept turning up where I was ... asking me out over and over again ... but I was in the middle of my final exams, so even though I was flattered and interested ...I refused ... but Mark wouldn’t take no for an answer .... “

She looked away and sighed.

”I was stupid. At the time, being pursued like that seemed ... romantic ... somehow ...
And then when I finally did start going out with him ... it was so .... intense ...

She blushed guiltily, but continued.

”Though .... I always felt .... that there was something... about Mark ... he was so attentive, to the point of being ... smothering...?“

She shuddered realising now how manipulative Mark had in fact been.

”But, it was a new relationship and I didn’t act on the niggling concerns, didn’t want to rock the boat. To be honest, I thought it was just an intense Summer romance that would burn itself out in the natural course of time ... but rather than settling into a comfortable routine, Mark became more and more .... obsessive ... and finally I realised that I’d been with Mark so much that I had hardly seen my friends or my family since Uni finished ... “

She halted then uncertain as to whether to continue; somehow now she had a ‘normal’ relationship, Beth could not help thinking how stupid she’d been to get involved with Mark in the first place.

”As a compromise, I took him home ... to meet my family ... but he got angry when I refused to go back with him straight away though initially I was going to stay with them a few extra days, I actually stayed ‘home’ for the next couple of weeks. It was almost a relief to be out and about on my own. I wasn’t doing anything dodgy, just catching up with friends ... and I went to some local events ... a few parties .... but ... “

She nestled close to James as she talked, a tremor running through her body as she continued.

”When I got back and went to see him, Mark was ... so angry ... !
He accused me of ‘whoring around’, produced photographs of me at the places I’d been, pictures of me with friends or with family, pictures he’d obviously taken. #
When I realised he’d been following me I went crazy ... but he ... he .... got ... aggressive .... verbally .... physically .... “

She shook her head as if blotting out the memory.

”I finally managed to sneak out later ... it was the middle of the night by then ...
I turned up on the doorstep of an old friend ... one I’d neglected over Summer ... but she still let me in ...let me stay over ... “

She smiled thinking of her kind Samaritan.

”And then the next morning...
Mark shows up; all smiles and kisses and with no word of what happened the night before, he proposes!”

She gave a mirthless laugh.

”The guy was sick.
You don’t beat up on your girlfriend and then try to fix it with a proposal.”

She was silent. For long minutes she considered how to explain to James what happened next.

”I said no ... of course ... I had told him the night before I never wanted to see him again ... that I couldn’t be with a creep who stalked me as soon as I was out of his sight ... but somehow he just refused to hear me. He told me I’d been over-emotional and that he understood it was a big step, but that I should trust him to make that decision for the two of us.
He’d grabbed my hand and put the ring on my finger before I had chance to stop him.
Then he left saying he’d be back to pick me up later ... He just assumed that I would marry him! “

She looked up at James then, knowing she had to be honest with him.

”I knew then that I had to get away from Mark. But the idea of being stalked, or his aggression when crossed ... I couldn’t risk another confrontation with him so ... so I wore the ring ... persuaded him to keep the engagement secret ... and only got through the next month by planning my ‘escape’ from him.”

She expected James to be critical, to be upset for the way she’d tried to deal with Mark.

”I was much younger then ... and after he hurt me ... all I could think of was to run away ... so he couldn’t find me ... “

Her eyes searched James’ for understanding.
Reassured as he soothed her, she pressed closely and continued haltingly.

”Mark had no idea what I’d planned. I left it until the last minute to confide in my family that I intended moving to France to work, but never told them the reason why ...
And so one day, I just disappeared from Mark’s life.
I spent months looking over my shoulder, expecting him to have found me, but he never did. During that first year I didn’t dare visit home, or have my family visit.
And then when I realised that I’d probably been over dramatic and concluded that he had most likely forgotten all about me by now, I did visit, briefly. The Summer before we met...”

She clarified.

”But ... I hadn’t exaggerated how Mark was.
Somehow he had been watching me, taking photographs and seemed to be just as angry as before ...”

She did not elaborate about the photograph sent to her and the names written over it.

”... so I ran back to France again ... “

She summarised, omitting to detail how she had moved around France to avoid easy detection.

”But ... I got homesick ... and ... wanted to come back to England. I couldn’t run forever.
The London job was perfect. I thought it would be the perfect place to be ... anonymous ... and so I moved back fronting the English Franchise ... and met you ... “

She smiled softly at James.

”As far as I knew, Mark wasn’t even aware that I was back in the country ... “

She shuddered.

”I can’t believe it’s all starting again.”

Tears sprang to her eyes as she thought of the idea of Mark having been watching her and James for perhaps months!

” ... but if he’s angry and carrying a knife ... then ... he’s dangerous James ... “

She was frightened, for herself and for James.

”We have to tell the police ... “

She stated finally.

”I have ... papers ... we could take to them ... “

She told him timidly.

” ... dates ... accounts of Mark’s ... activities...

She knew where the journals were hidden.
She had always dreaded that their information might be necessary one day.

”James, I thought it was in the past ... that Mark would never find me again ... that’s the only reason I never told you ... “

She was sobbing quietly now.

”Can you ever forgive me, James?”

She whispered tremulously.

”I just didn’t want Mark, the memory of him, to spoil what we had ... that’s the only reason I never told you about him ... “

She could only pray that James would understand and not hold the bad decisions she had made about Mark against her ...

Last edited by DeliciousMaiden : 04-25-2011 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:44 PM   #20
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James cringed inwardly as he saw Beth’s face raise in alarm at his pronouncement of the weapon Mark had carried, the lie spreading almost uncontrolled panic across her face. He felt a flash of guilt nearly overwhelm him, only forced down when he forced himself to remember that even if Mark hadn’t been brandishing a knife he had done terrible harm to her with only the jagged piece of metal he would have used.

The rest of the story was flimsy at best, but the threat of this psychopath was real enough to allow James to avoid explaining men from strange government agencies and time travel. He plowed ahead, finally forcing himself to ask her about Mark, to steer the conversation away from how he had learned what he had.

The tremor of fear in her voice swept away the relief he felt at not being asked further questions. He almost hated to make her dredge up such awful memories, especially when he had uncovered so many of them himself from her journals. He needed to hear her story though, especially to hear if there was truth in Mark’s proclamation of being engaged to her once.

James wrapped his arms around his Beth once more, pulling her tight against him as she began to speak, trying to do his best to shield her emotionally within his arms, enfolding her to help chase away the terror she had felt that night, to keep her safe against the past as it rose up once more.

”He’s a guy I met at Uni ...I met him ... on my birthday …” James fingers traced a line down her neck as she continued to speak, James doing his best to pay as much attention to her story as possible.

”But, it was a new relationship and I didn’t act on the niggling concerns, didn’t want to rock the boat. To be honest, I thought it was just an intense Summer romance that would burn itself out in the natural course of time ... but rather than settling into a comfortable routine, Mark became more and more .... obsessive ... and finally I realised that I’d been with Mark so much that I had hardly seen my friends or my family since Uni finished ... “ James squeezed her a little tighter as she continued talking, trying to imagine what it must have been like for her. He took a deep breath, inhaling the smell of her and feeling a distant stirring as his hands touched her skin once more.

“I can’t even imagine what that must have been like...” James said, knowing it was somewhat hollow sympathy, but he felt the need to reassure her somehow. His fingers scooted down her side slightly, forgetting both of their problems for a moment as he leaned over and laid a soft kiss upon her shoulder blade. Maybe he did not need to hear anymore of the story. He’d stopped Mark, that’s all that mattered after all.
But his curiosity was still too great to ask her to stop and he listened carefully as she continued, nodding at the parts of the story he recognized from the journals he had read before... or after depending upon how one looked at it.

James breath caught as she related Mark’s reaction to her time away. “Physically?” His face went stony as he remembered Beth lying in the hospital bed, tubes in her body, battered and bruised. “That son of a bitch...” he muttered under his breath, feeling the red hot anger from the police station rising back up again. He took a deep breath and buried his face in the crook of her neck momentarily to calm himself. He knew Mark had been a horrid person, but hearing her say it just made it even worse.

He had barely composed himself once again as she launched into the explanation of the ‘engagement’ Mark had spoken of before. James’ eyes widened as she recalled the story to him. It sounded exactly like everything else he had learned about the bastard. Controlling, manipulative, and abusive. James felt his fists threatening to clench up even as a small part of him felt extreme relief that she had never actually been engaged to that man.

As her story wrapped up James shifted himself to be able to look right into his love’s eyes. She was in so much pain and he felt incredibly guilty for forcing her to pull all of that back up from the hole she had buried it for so long. His lips opened, an apology dancing upon his lips as she began sobbing.

”James, I thought it was in the past ... that Mark would never find me again ... that’s the only reason I never told you ... Can you ever forgive me, James?” Her fearful whisper nearly brought tears to his eyes once more and he moved his face closer towards her, his hand cupping her cheek as he made a quieting noise.

“There’s nothing to forgive... I understand why you did it, but all that matters now is that you’re safe.” He leaned in, a soft kiss pressed upon her lips, and again he felt the stirring from before. “I’m never going to let him hurt you again...” His hands moved across her body once more, all of the stress and terror morphing itself into a deep longing for the woman he thought he would have lost forever. “Elizabeth.... I love you.” He whispered softly as he brought his lips against hers once again, the kiss deeper as his left hand ran itself up the silky skin of her shoulders.
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