- Part 11
- As soon as they returned to the
house, Harry went into the study and called Donna Morgan to tell
her that Brian had returned and was going to cause trouble. She
quickly assured him that she didn't think Brian could do anything,
and said she would start the adoption proceedings. "But
Harry," she said, "You need to make VERY certain that
this is what the kids want. The judge is going to talk to both
Lauren and Graham, and if he sees the slightest hint that they
don't want this,-"
- "I understand." He looked
up to find Graham in the doorway as he hung up the telephone.
"I thought you were outside with your mother and Lauren,"
Harry told the boy.
- "Who was that man on the motorcycle,
Dad?" Graham asked.
- Harry looked at him for a long moment,
then stood. "Why don't you and I go for a walk, Graham?"
he suggested. "By the lake."
- After telling Rachel where they
were going, and getting her assurance that she and Lauren would
be in the house, Harry and Graham went toward the lake. "I
saw you coming through town this afternoon," Graham told
him. "You looked like something was wrong, and I got scared
- Harry put his arm around Graham's
shoulders. "Graham, if you had the chance to see your father-
your REAL father-"
- Graham stopped, looking up at him.
"You ARE my real father as far as I'm concerned, Dad. I
don't need anyone else. It was him, wasn't it?"
- "Yes. He saw one of the ads
we placed and has decided that he's going to fight the adoption."
- "Why? He never cared about
Lauren and me. He always had something more important to do than
to spend time with us. I don't care if I never see him again.
You're not going to let him take us away, are you, Dad?"
- "I'm going to try my very best,
Graham. Does Lauren feel the same way?"
- "She doesn't even remember
him. She was only two when he left. I think she feels the same
way I do. That YOU are our dad, and we don't want anyone else."
- "I'm going to need you to be
alert for the next few days, Graham. Keep an eye out when I'm
not here. If he shows up, I want you to get into the house and
- I'll be here as soon as I can."
- He nodded solemnly. "I understand.
Are you going to tell Lauren about him being back?"
- "I think your mother was going
to do that."
- "I don't want anyone else,"
Lauren was saying as Harry and Graham returned to the house.
She turned and ran to Harry, throwing her arms around him. "You're
my Daddy. Not him."
- Harry knelt to return her hug. "You're
certain about that, Lauren? You don't want to see him or talk
to him? Let him tell you why he left-"
- "He left because he didn't
love us. You do."
- Harry smiled over her head at Rachel.
"Then it's settled. We're a family, and we're going to stay
a family. Right?"
- Three voices answered in unison.
- After getting the children in to
their beds, Harry and Rachel went out onto the porch for awhile.
"How did you know that Brian was here, Harry?" she
- "Terry called me. He and Nancy
were packing up to leave Dante's Peak, and Brian showed up."
- "They've been up there all
- "Standard procedure after an
eruption," Harry lied, taking a drink of the wine that Rachel
had poured for him. "Nothing to worry about." He kept
his eyes on the lake. "I tried to call as soon as I hung
up from talking to him, but there was no answer."
- "I was outside, sitting by
the lake right after Lacey and the kids left," she explained,
"then I came back up here to take a nap-" she sipped
the spring water in her glass. "I still think there's more
to Brian's sudden return that just wanting the kids, Harry. Some
hidden reason that he didn't tell us."
- "Donna said she would hire
a private investigator to find out what he's up to." He
took another drink. The picture of Brian throwing his helmet
to the ground and starting toward the porch, fists clenched,
came to him. "Rachel, was Brian ever- physically abusive?"
She looked away, toward the lake. "If you'd rather not talk
- "No- the only other person
who knows about it is Jane. It was just before he left - I found
out I was going to have another baby-" she shook her head,
not really wanting to remember that scene. "Brian was angry
-" this time she laughed nervously. "Angry, he was
FURIOUS. We were standing on the stairs - he wanted me to - he
said he wasn't going to be tied down to another child. I told
him I was going to have the baby whether he liked it or not.
He pushed me - trying to get down the stairs so he could leave,
and I fell." Harry reached out to take her hand in his,
squeezing it gently. "I got up, thought I was fine, but
Brian took off on another of his little disappearing acts. I
lost the baby that night - Jane said the fall caused the miscarriage
- Harry's face was a mixture of love
for Rachel and rage at Brian for his treatment of her. "What
happened when he came back?"
- "I told him that he'd gotten
his wish, that I'd lost the baby." She closed her eyes.
"He said he was glad, Harry. Said maybe he should have done
the same thing before -"
- "He's not going to hurt you
again, Rachel," Harry told her, pulling her across the porch
swing and into his arms to rest her head on his shoulder. "I
promise you that." He kissed her hair. "At least tomorrow's
Saturday. I won't have to leave you here all day. It might not
be a bad idea to contact the local police, either. Have them
keep an eye on him."
- "He hasn't done anything illegal,
Harry. The police won't be able to do anything until he does."
- "It won't hurt to try. "
- She smiled against his shirt as
he held her. "This is nice, having you hold me. How is your
- "Aching a bit," he admitted.
"But not too bad. Dr. Morrison said it might hurt for a
few days. I'm supposed to start therapy Monday afternoon."
He smiled. "But I think I know of a therapy we could begin
- Rachel smiled up at him. "Sounds
- "Let's go inside and I'll show
you what I have in mind," he said, pulling her to her feet
beside him. For the first time since they moved into the house,
Harry made sure every door and window was securely locked, and
that Ruffie was in Graham's room, standing guard, before he joined
Rachel in their bedroom.
- They were outside the next morning
when a black Cadillac pulled into the drive and Donna Morgan,
wearing blue jeans and a tee shirt, got out. "This place
is fantastic, Harry," she sighed.
- "Thanks, but - what are you
- "I have some information that
you might like to see - Hello, Rachel."
- Rachel turned to Graham and Lauren.
"Why don't you two go down to the lake? But stay in sight
of the house, okay?"
- Graham looked at Harry, who nodded,
and the boy took his sister's hand. "Come on, Lauren. Ruffie!"
- Donna sat down on the porch. "I
think, if I lived here, I'd never want to leave to go to work.
That view -" She opened her briefcase. "All of the
requests that USGS got for you from the media, Harry have been
shunted to my office. Since you requested that I screen the offers,
I've been doing just that."
- "We're not interested in talking
to anyone about what happened, Donna-"
- "I know that. That's why the
telephone call I got this morning was so interesting. It was
from a TV newsmagazine. They wanted all of you - but were willing
to have the children if they couldn't get you."
- "No way," Rachel said.
- "That's what I told them. But
that's when THEY told ME that they had already been in touch
with someone claiming to be the children's biological father
who said he could get the kids for them - for a quarter of a
- "That's the reason, Harry.
He thinks he can make money off of what Lauren and Graham went
through on the mountain."
- "Can we use this, Donna? In
- "Quite likely, Harry. There's
no way Brian Wando will get his hands on those children when
the judge sees this. I do, however, have an offer that Rachel
might be interested in -"
- "I don't think-"
- "One of the networks is trying
to round up the Council members and Mayor to interview them about
the claim against USGS. You could be a help, Rachel. If you and
Dr. Fox both go on there -"
- "I don't think there's anything
Jane or I can say that will change any minds, Donna. I know Mary
and the others, remember? I can't believe that -"
- "Rachel, if you don't agree
to tell your side of this, then it's quite likely that USGS and
Paul's widow will have to pay them what they're asking. You,
Jane Fox, and Harry are the only ones that were at that meeting
who know what happened."
- Rachel looked up at Harry, who shrugged.
"It's your decision, Rachel. I can't get involved because
of Paul. But Donna might be right about your input and Jane's."
- "Let me talk to Jane about
it first," Rachel said. "I really wish all of this
with Brian were settled before I get into this -"
- "Once he finds out we're onto
what he's trying to do, I think he'll leave you alone,"
Donna said. "There's no way he can win."
- "I'm willing to do it, Rachel,"
Jane told her later, "if you are. You're the one who's going
to take most of the heat. You realize that, don't you? You were
the mayor - and the situation is complicated by your marriage
- "I don't see that it's that
complicated, Jane. I'd only just met Harry - hadn't even known
him twenty four hours - when I called that meeting. After what
happened at the springs -" she shuddered at the memory of
those scalded bodies.
- "Then let them know we're available,"
Jane told her. "Now. About Brian -"
Harry looked up from where he'd been sitting on the porch to
where Graham and Lauren had been moments before. Lauren was still
sitting on the pier, fishing. But Graham was nowhere to be seen.
Harry refused to panic again. He'd done enough of that. Putting
down the papers in his hands, he rose and walked briskly to where
Lauren was sitting.
- "Catching anything?"
- She shook her head, smiling up at
him. "Nope. Just nibbles."
- Harry looked around. "Where's
- "He went to go get some more
worms," she told him, watching as the float on her line
jumped but didn't go under. "See? They won't take it."
- "Patience, sweetheart. Which
way did your brother go?"
- She pointed to the left. "Over
there. He's got a place behind that tree where he says he finds
really good worms."
- Harry peered closely at the area
she indicated, hoping he wouldn't have to go in search of Graham.
At last the boy appeared, stopping when he saw Harry standing
there, watching him. He came forward slowly. "Sorry, Dad.
I needed some more worms-"
- "It's all right, Graham,"
Harry told him quietly. "Just let me know you're going next
- "Okay. Wanna fish with us?"
- Harry grinned. "If you'll go
get my pole."
- Rachel was about to get into her
truck when she heard Brian's voice. "Well, well. Came scurrying
to Jane Fox. Wanting to tell her all about how big, bad Brian's
back to try and take his children."
- "Leave us alone, Brian,"
Rachel said, starting to open the door.
- But Brian's hand fell against the
metal, preventing her from doing that. "Where are you going?"
- "Home, Brian. Back to my husband
- "Look, Rachel. I just want
to see them. Talk to them. Let them get to know me."
- "Why? So you can convince them
to let you put them on TV like some circus sideshow attraction?
Make money off of them? They don't want to see you, Brian."
- Brian's face darkened, and Rachel
drew back, suddenly afraid she'd said too much.
- "Rachel? Is everything all
right?" Hank Jameson's voice was a welcome sound as she
- "Hank. Could you find a policeman
- Brian lifted his hand from the truck
and backed off. "That won't be necessary. I'm going. But
I'll be back, Rachel."
- Hank put a hand on Rachel's arm.
"Who was that?"
- Rachel opened the door of the truck
and got inside. "Ask Jane. She can tell you all about him."
She started the engine. "I need to get home."
- Hank watched the red Suburban until
it turned the corner, then went inside Jane's office.
Harry was heading toward his truck when Rachel's came into view.
He waited for her to put the vehicle in park, then opened the
door. "Are you all right? I was just about to come looking
- "Jane called you?"
- He pulled her into his arms as she
got out of the truck. "She told me that Brian accosted you
in town -"
- Rachel rested her head against his
chest. "Where are the kids?"
- "Down by the lake. Graham's
cleaning the fish we caught. I think he's hoping to convince
you to cook them for dinner."
- Rachel smiled up at him. "I
think I can manage that."
- "What did Jane say about the
interview?" he asked as they started walking toward where
the children were working.
- "She said she'll do it if I
will. I need to call Donna and clarify some things before I agree."
- In his motel room, Brian dug a crumpled
peice of paper from his pocket and smoothed it out to read the
telephone number he'd written there. After taking a drink of
warm beer, he dialed the number and asked the woman who answered
to speak to Marty Drew. "Tell him it's Brian Wando calling."
He waited until the man came on the line.
- "Marty Drew. I'm glad you called,
- "I've got good news,"
Brian said, not hearing the man's tone. "I should be able
to bring the kids in there in a few days-"
- "I'm afraid that's the problem,"
Drew said quickly. "Are you their legal guardian?"
- "I'm their father," Brian
said. "That counts for something."
- "But you and their mother are
divorced. And SHE has legal custody. Without her agreement, we
can't interview the children."
- "We had an agreement,"
Brian yelled into the phone. "You said if I could deliver
the kids -"
- "I'm sorry, Mr. Wando, but
there's nothing I can do."
- Brian slammed the telephone down,
then threw the bottle of beer against the wall. He picked up
the newspaper photo that he'd cut out, the photo that had been
taken upon the miraculous rescue from the mine. Rachel and the
kids had been hanging on Harry Dalton. Brian took out his knife
and methodically began to cut around the outline of the kids,
taking them out of the picture. Then, with equal deliberation,
he struck a match and set fire to the rest of the picture, smiling
as the images of Rachel and Harry Dalton turned into blackened
ash. He dropped it into an ashtray, and once it had gone out,
he broke it into tiny peices and threw it into the air. Ashes.
- Brian's eyes narrowed. Ashes. He
- Graham's eyes were wide as he asked,
"Are you REALLY going to be on TV, Mom?"
- "It looks that way, Graham,"
Rachel told her son as they ate the fish he and Harry had caught.
- Lauren picked at her food. "Are
you going to talk about - Grandma?"
- "No, Lauren. They just want
me to talk about what the City Council did to evacuate the town.
I've already told them that I'm not going to answer any other
- "They want to talk to her about
why the council didn't warn everyone earlier," Graham told
his sister. When Harry and Rachel both gave him surprised looks,
he shrugged. "I overheard you talking about it. When are
you going to be on TV?"
- "I don't know yet. Probably
sometime next week."
- After dinner, the children tucked
into their beds, Rachel and Harry went out onto the porch as
usual. She watched him as he sat on the railing, staring up at
the mountain. "What's wrong, Harry?" she asked.
- "I was just thinking about
Paul. He was really very good at his job, Rachel. I learned so
much working with him -"
- "And you're afraid that I'll
say something during that interview that will hurt his reputation,"
- "I can't tell you what to say,
Rachel. Paul himself even admitted that he had been wrong -"
- "But he didn't see the things
you did, Harry. And going on what he DID see, there was no danger
of an eruption."
- "I know."
- Rachel put a hand on his knee. "Harry,
I'll do what I can, but I have to tell what happened. I told
the truth at USGS, remember, and they didn't seem to think that
Paul did anything wrong. Or you for asking me to call the meeting."
- Harry looked at her, smiling, before
putting his arms around her. "Do you know how much I love
- "Almost as much as I love you?"
- "More. More than I could ever
hope to say. Let's go upstairs."
- She looked at him. "Aren't
you going to go for your run tonight?"
- "Not tonight. I don't want
to leave you and the children here alone with Brian in the area."
He stood up.
- "And what are you going to
do Monday?" she asked. "You can't stay with us twenty
four hours a day, Harry."
- "I'll run tomorrow morning,"
he told her. "Right now, I have other plans."
- As he sat at the bar, enjoying a
beer, Brian heard a young woman talking nearby. "She's really
very nice," she was saying.