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For us Zendall fans, spoilers are not our friend. So to make all of us feel a bit better I decided to write this story which will consist of seven parts.
Since TPTB at AMC drastically altered Kendall’s age, I decided to split the difference for my story. This would now make her approximately seven years younger than Zach.
I hope you like it.
[i]Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes. ~~ Goethe[/b]
He was ushered into the hall along with his younger brother who was not quite four at the time. Their mother was hospitalized for an unknown condition; their father remaining in the room to speak with the doctors. Having nothing else to do, the boy decided to wander the halls, the younger one merely following the heels of his brother.
The ward was fairly noisy, the sounds of crying babies coming from many of the rooms as this was the women’s wing of the hospital. They continued further down the hall, arriving at a large window with a view into the nursery. He stopped to look inside, briefly picking up his younger brother who peeked over the sill for a moment before wanting to be put down.
The young boy remained standing there, observing the few babies which were sleeping in their individual bassinets. In the corner of the room, one baby, wrapped in a pink blanket, was isolated from the others. Unlike the others, her eyes were opened wide, seemingly taking in all the new surroundings had to offer her.
“Why is she by herself?” he thought. “Where is her mother?”
He continued to watch, captivated by this little life who appeared to be all alone. At that moment, a man entered the door of the nursery, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. He was followed by an older woman, conservatively dressed, carrying what appeared to be a diaper bag. They were out of place in this environment and the man’s presence only intrigued the little boy more. He handed a nurse several papers who apparently read them and then returned them to the gentleman.
She crossed the room to gather the little girl alone in the corner. She wrapped the blanket around her little body tighter, pulling the card from the bassinet. The older woman met her halfway, taking the little girl from her arms, as well as the card, now held between two fingers. There was no smile upon her face, no warm greetings for the little girl who’s eyes were still wide open. Instead, there was a simply nod to the nurse before she turned to exit the room with the man in the suit following closely behind.
They walked past the little boy in the hall, taking no notice of him as they approached the elevators. The doors began to close behind them, neither of them aware that the card from the bassinet had dropped to the floor upon their entering. He waited a moment to see if the doors would open again to retrieve the item, but having decided they wouldn’t return, he walked towards the elevator, picking up the small card from the floor.
He turned it over to see a picture of a stork, carrying a small baby with a pink bow upon her head. Only three words appeared on the card. Baby Girl Kane.
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Part Two ~~ Five years later
Although it was Saturday, her father woke her and dressed her in her Sunday best, doing his best to tame a few of her curls with a ribbon. “You’re grandmother is not well and your mommy went to take care of her. So, you, my princess, are going to work with daddy today.”
She smiled at him, her emerald eyes sparkling in response. But soon she noticed he wasn’t as dressed up as she. “Daddy, why am I all dressed up and you are wearing your dirty clothes?”
A boisterous laugh escaped his mouth as he pulled her close, hugging her tightly. “My princess… you never miss anything do you?” He continued to smile at her while the look of confusion remained upon her face. “Remember how Daddy told you he works at the beach club?”
“Yes,” she replied. “You fix the toilets.”
He followed with another loud laugh. “Well, that is why daddy wears his dirty clothes to work. I will be very busy so you will have to find someone to play with, which means you need to be dressed as nicely as the people who pay to go there.”
to go to the beach?” pay
“Some of them do.” He continued to smile at his precocious little girl.
“If I’m going to the beach, why do I have to wear a dress? Why can’t I wear my swimsuit?”
“You just can’t sweetheart. Someday, you’ll understand why.” He placed a kiss upon her forehead before rising to stand. “Come on, Kendall. Daddy, can’t be late.”
The limousine pulled into the circular drive of the beach club, a doorman quickly opening the rear door and greeting them. His father exited the car, took a few steps before turning back towards the vehicle. “Alexander. Come.” The young boy slid across the seat and slowly stepped from the vehicle. “Stand up straight,” his father hissed.
Obediently, the boy straightened his shoulders but continued to direct his eyes towards the ground in front of him. “Why did I have to come, father? Michael got to stay at the hotel. Why couldn’t I?” He still refused to make eye contact with him, some thought out of respect, when it was really out of fear.
“Because, my son,” placing a hand upon his back and steering him through the front doors of the club, “you will be running my company one day. One can never be too young to learn how to conduct business in the real world.”
The young boy sat quietly at the table while business was conducted. Schemes were hatched, plans were made, all in preparation for another hostile takeover of one of his father’s many competitors. Occasionally, he would steal a glance to the outside world, noticing the young girl struggling to fly her kite on the beach.
When the early celebrations began and the alcohol was being poured, Alexander was excused from the table. Immediately, he exited the stuffy dining room through the French doors leading to the large deck outside. Once out of his father’s sight, he removed his coat and tie, hoping to relieve himself of the suffocating feeling, unsure if it was a result of the Florida heat and humidity, or his father’s grooming to take over the family business.
He laid his jacket and tie on one of the deck chairs, and deciding to venture onto the beach, removed his socks and shoes as well. He ventured out onto the cool, damp sand and welcomed the feeling of it squishing between his toes. In the distance, he saw the little girl drop to the sand in a huff, most likely upset that she couldn’t get her kite to cooperate.
He walked towards her, smiling at the little girl with the ringlet curls and white eyelet dress. “Can’t get it to fly?”
She looked up to see him standing there. “No.” She promptly lowered her head and began to pout.
He looked back towards the club a moment, wondering who she might be here with as it appeared she was all alone on the beach. “Are you here by yourself?”
“I came with my daddy. He’s working,” she said with an exasperated sigh. “He’s always working.”
“I understand that,” he mumbled under his breath, fearing that the breezes might take it right to his father’s ear. “Would you like some help with your kite?”
She turned to look at him, smile wide across her face, “Yes, please.”
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Beautiful story KZ! thanks for sharing
__________________ Thanks to KZ for the Avi
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More KZ, more, please??? June
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Part Three ~~ Five years later
With Alexander Cambias, Sr. in Europe on business, his wife was determined to steal her sons away for one last getaway before they returned to their private boarding school. They had come to Maryland to visit their grandmother, a woman they were rarely given the opportunity to visit. But after a couple of days, the vacation had become stale and monotonous, making them long for the moment they would return home. In an attempt to appease them, Alexander was given permission to take the car and drive he and his brother the short distance to the shore, so that they could spend the day at the boardwalk.
They arrived before lunch, just about the time the majority of tourists crawled out of their rundown motel rooms and staked out a place on the beach for the remainder of the day. Together, they walked the boardwalk, finally deciding on crab cakes and French fries before taking a seat on the railing so that they could watch the passers-by.
“Jeez. These people,” Michael said in true Cambias fashion, “I bet coming to this hole is the highlight of their year. Probably the highlight of their lives for some of them.” He took another large bite of his crab cake and sip of his soda, while continuing to ogle the young girls in bikinis, who strode past, most of whom were several years older than him. “Ladies,” he said to one group of girls, his mouth full of food while he spoke.
The girls returned a look of disgust, if they bothered to acknowledge him at all. Instead, they took more notice of the tall young man with the hazel eyes and bronzed skin who stood next to the younger mouthy one. Embarrassed by his brother’s behavior, Alexander looked to the ground and shook his head. “You are unbelievable, Michael.”
“What?” bits of food dropping from his mouth as he spoke. “What did I do now?”
The Harts had scrimped and saved all year so they could travel by car to Maryland for a reunion with Alice’s family. This was the first real vacation they had taken in several years; the first trip outside of Florida for Kendall.
She had spent the morning, dragging her mother in and out of the trinket shops, looking for just the right item to spend her allowance on. Finally, she found just the right shell ankle bracelet. Her mother found her choice amusing, as it was similar to ones she could have bought in the tourist shops of her hometown. But Alice, not wanting to hurt her feelings, said nothing and supposed that buying it in Maryland made it very special to her daughter.
Afterwards, they found a table on the boardwalk and had hotdogs and lemonades, while sharing an order of fries. As a surprise for Kendall, Alice had also purchased a bag of saltwater taffy in a variety of flavors. After finishing her lunch, the young girl opened the bag, selecting a pink-colored taffy to start with, followed by an orange, and so on and so on until she had sampled all the different flavors. But her first choice, the pink-colored one, which tasted like sweet strawberries, was her favorite, and she proceeded to dig through the remainder, in hopes of finding every last one.
“Oh my, Kendall,” Alice said to her daughter while glancing at her wristwatch. “Look at the time. We have to go meet your father. Gather your things, let’s go.” She rose from the table grabbing the wrappers and cups to deposit them in a nearby canister.
Kendall, busy looking in the bag for another pink taffy, rose from the table to follow her mother, not noticing that she had dropped the shell ankle bracelet. Together, they continued down the boardwalk on their way to meet her father.
The younger boy noticed the small trinket fall to the ground, but made no mention of it as the little girl walked away. Instead, he walked over to the table, picked the item up from the ground, twirling it around his index finger as he returned to his brother’s side. Alexander was leaning over the rail, facing the ocean, watching the waves grow as the winds increased. He glanced over to his brother, still drinking his soda while playing with the shell anklet. “Where did you get that?”
“What? This?” Michael said, holding the anklet between his fingers. “That little girl dropped it.”
“The one that was sitting there with her mother?”
Alexander shook his head in disbelief, unable to believe that his brother could sometimes be so cruel. “She’s a little kid. Give it back to her.”
“They left,” Michael said as he pointed in the direction they headed down the boardwalk. “Anyway, it’s a piece of junk.”
“Dammit, Michael.” He grabbed the trinket from his hand and when his younger brother tried to protest, he gave him a slight shove to the chest. “Wait here,” he said before he turned to follow them down the boardwalk, hoping to catch them before they disappeared.
“Mom, my ankle bracelet!” Kendall stopped in her tracks as she began to look in the bag of candy hoping that she had dropped it inside. She searched her pockets, hoping that she had forgotten she had put the anklet in one of them.
“Come on, Kendall. We’re late as it is.”
“But mom…” The tears began to fall down her face, her treasure she spent all morning searching for, her treasure she had spent two months' allowance on, was gone. “Please, can we go back to look?”
Alice looked at her daughter and nodded her head in approval. They were late meeting her husband already, a couple of minutes more wouldn’t make a huge difference.
Just then, the young man who had been sitting on the railing near their table came jogging up behind them. He squatted down in front of the young girl, bringing him eye level to her. “I think you dropped this.”
Immediately, the tears stopped, her eyes lit up, and a smile overtook her face as she took her shell ankle bracelet from his hand.
“What do you say, Kendall?” The young girl bit her lip, suddenly too shy to say anything to the young man in front of her. So Alice decided to speak on her behalf. “Thank you, so very much. She was afraid it was lost forever.”
“No problem,” he said to her mother. He returned his attention to the young girl in front of him. “I’m just glad I found you.” He smiled at her one last time, before standing and walking away. He had traveled only a few steps before he felt a small hand on his arm and looked down to see the young girl standing beside him.
“Thank you,” she said in a very small voice and handed him her last piece of pink taffy.
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Love this story KZ!
__________________ Thanks to KZ for the Avi
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Part Four ~~ Florida ~~ Ten Years Later
Why on earth he would ask her to wait for him here, she would never really know. It wasn’t a place that either of them frequented, but he had an important meeting at a restaurant across the street and wanted to be able to share the news as soon as it was over. Kendall found an empty park bench beneath a palm tree and sat down. The small park was nearly empty, despite the buzz of activity around it, as it was sandwiched between the boulevard and the marina.
She glanced at her watch, checking the time as the water was now reflecting the orange and red glow of the setting sun. Surely, he wouldn’t expect her to wait out here in the dark, alone. She looked towards the restaurant across the street, wondering how long he might be.
Kendall looked back to the harbor and watched a large yacht slowly navigate its way through the locks and into the marina before docking nearby. After a few minutes, a man jumped from the bow of the ship, tying it off to one of the moorings and then ran down the dock to tie off another on the stern before he climbed back aboard and disappeared inside.
She continued to wait as the sun sank further and further, the lights along the paths now automatically turning on. She glanced again at her watch, taking note that she had been waiting almost 45 minutes. Her fiancé was definitely going to hear about this.
He grabbed his satchel, prepared to head to a nearby motel. Another week, another paycheck. He wasn’t paid much for his services, but it was a pretty cushy job all the same, driving yachts from one port to another for those who couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves.
After handing over the keys to the harbor master, Zach headed out the gate and into the park where he noticed a beautiful young woman, sitting alone on a park bench. He watched her a moment as she fidgeted with her watch, her bracelets, her earrings, occasionally turning in her seat to steal a glance across the street.
“All by yourself?”
His voice startled her, as she had not realized that someone was in her proximity. She looked up to see the man, who she had seen only minutes before tying off the large yacht. “For the moment,” she said smiling.
Immediately, he dropped his satchel next to the park bench and sat down next to her.
Kendall didn’t expect this. “Uh…excuse me, but….” As she looked at him, she was suddenly at a loss for words. Despite his appearance, the cut up t-shirt, worn out baseball cap, dirty flip flops, she found him breath taking as she looked into his hazel eyes.
“But… what?” His smile grew as his stare gave the desired effect. Zach had learned some time ago, that if he looked a woman in the eyes, intently, it didn’t matter if they were seventeen or seventy; single, married or divorced; it would make them weak in the knees.
She broke eye contact with him, returning her focus to the small diamond engagement ring which she wore on her hand. “That wasn’t an invitation. I really am waiting for someone. My fiancé in fact.”
“Fiancé, huh? Well then, by all means let me leave you to wait alone in the dark.” He leaned over, grabbed his satchel from the ground and rose to stand. He took a few steps before he turned to look at her. Again she was staring at her lap, playing with the ring on her left hand.
He took a few more before stopping, a low growl escaping his mouth as he returned to the bench, once again dropping his satchel to the ground. “I can’t leave you out here in the dark by yourself. So why don’t I wait with you until your….”
“Yeah, I’ll wait until your fiancé arrives. I know I wouldn’t want the woman I loved sitting alone, in a park, at dusk. There’s crazy people running around.”
“And how do I know you’re not one of them?” she said with a smile, relieved to have company while she waited.
“Well…” holding his breath a moment as he seated himself next to her. “You don’t.” He returned her smile, enamored with her sparkling green eyes, the impending darkness only highlighting the stars which shined in them. “I guess you’ll have to trust me.”
“Great,” she mumbled under her breath.
“What was that?” he asked, although he was fully aware what it was she said. He decided to engage in small talk, a rarity for him, but he would do anything to hear her voice, which was soft and soothing like the ocean breeze. Perhaps conversation would also put her at ease, as they sat there in the darkness. “Your fiancé… what does he do?”
“Del is a writer.”
“Del?” he said incredulously. “As in short for Delbert?”
“Yes. Why?” A perplexed looked crossed her face, trying to determine whether this man knew her betrothed or not.
“You can’t be with a man named Delbert, much less marry one.” He shifted in his seat, now placing one arm along the back of the park bench, his hand lightly touching her back.
“Oh really? And what name would you suggest the man I’m with have?”
“Well, I think Z…” he stopped short of telling her his name when a man, whom he could only assume was her fiancé, appeared at her side. “You must be the fiancé.”
“I am.” Del was less than appreciative that this man decided to keep Kendall company while she was waiting. “Was he bothering you, sweetheart?”
Kendall rose to stand in front of him, gently placing her hands upon his chest. “No. He was just keeping me company until you arrived.”
Zach grabbed his satchel and stood up from the bench. “I guess I’ll be going now that you’re no longer alone. It was nice chatting with you.” He gave a quick nod to Del and then headed down the path which took him to the street.
“Come on, baby. Let’s go.” Del wrapped his arm around her waist and began walking them down the path in the opposite direction.
Kendall glanced back in time to see the stranger hail a cab, get in, and disappear into traffic. They continued walking as Del gave details of his meeting, but Kendall’s mind was on the stranger she spent only a few minutes with. There was something about him, she just couldn’t put her finger on it. But for those few moments, it was as if her life was complete and when he walked away, it seemed as if part of her heart got in the cab with him and drove away.
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Part five ~~ Atlantic City ~~ Five years later
Kendall stopped for one last look in the mirror and freshened her dark red lipstick before she headed out onto the casino floor. “Last shift, thank God,” speaking to her reflection in the mirror. Tomorrow she was moving to a new city, a new job, one which didn’t entail slinging drinks. But she needed just a little more money, just enough to ensure she wouldn’t starve before she received that first paycheck. Holding a tray in one hand, she smoothed her skirt with the other as she headed towards the bar to check in for her shift.
Nonchalantly, he grabbed $500 worth of chips and tossed them into the pot. “I’ll see your two and raise you three.” He never took his eyes from his opponent, wanting to intimidate him into folding because all he was holding was a pair of sevens. Normally, he wouldn’t be so bold, but he’d taken $1700 from this guy alone, in the past four hands. Each time Zach was holding fantastic cards and the unfortunate victim was certain that he was bluffing. Well, now it was time to see if he’d learned his lesson.
His opponent eyed the pot, then his short stack of chips and decided to fold. As the dealer moved the chips in Zach’s direction, she came towards the table. He was used to seeing beautiful women serving drinks, he’d been in plenty of casinos, seen plenty of beautiful women. But this one was enchanting and seemed a bit out of place.
She started at the opposite end of the table, taking orders from the other players as she slowly made her way to him. Finally, she came to stand next to him. “Would you like…oh.” She paused a moment, pointing her pen in the direction of his full glass. “I guess you don’t need a drink.”
He quickly picked up the glass, taking a large gulp, while holding up an index finger wanting her to wait. Once he set the glass back upon the table, only a third of his drink remained. “I’ll have this finished by the time you come back, so if you could bring me another that would be great.”
“Another?” she said.
“Yes. Another.” Smiling at her, wondering if he could charm her into running away with him in an instant.
“Another what? What are you drinking?”
“Oh. I’m sorry,” picking his glass up from the table. “Scotch. Neat.” He took another drink, a smaller one this time, as he continued to watch her over the top of his glass.
She scribbled his order on her notepad and turned towards the bar, walking away to retrieve the gamblers’ drinks. He leaned back in his chair, balancing it on the two back legs, just past the person seated next to him who was obstructing his view.
“God, those legs,” he thought as she walked away. They started at her stilettos and disappeared beneath a very short skirt. His gaze continued upwards to her back and shoulders which were left bare by the corset style top of her uniform. A few tendrils hung about her nape, somehow having escaped the twist which captured the rest of her hair, a fountain of curls falling from the top. His focus returned to her neck and shoulders and he imagined what it would be like to kiss her silken skin, to have those legs wrapped around his….
Zach snapped out of his fantasy as the dealer addressed him once again. “I’m sorry. Yes?”
“Are you going to ante, sir?”
He looked towards the pot and then across the room to the waitress who was standing at the bar in the corner. “Deal me out this hand. I’ll be right back.” He drank down his remaining scotch and placed the empty glass next to his chips, which he abandoned in pursuit of her.
She was leaning against the bar, arranging the drinks upon her tray, checking off her order list, when he whispered a hello in her ear. Quickly she swatted at her ear as if she were chasing away a small gnat and turned to find him standing directly behind her, hands stuffed in the pocket of his jeans, the slightest smile at the corner of his mouth.
“Scotch. Neat.” pointing her pen at him. She gave him a quick once over, and although he was handsome, he was a dime a dozen in this place, and quite frankly she was tired of this job and tired of being hit upon. “You do realize that I bring the drinks
to you, right?”
“Yeah. I realize that, but I was hoping to…”
She moved closer to him, lightly licking her lips, knowingly teasing him, as she looked to either side to see if anyone else would overhear what she had to say. “Oh, you were hoping for something more than a drink?” She grazed his chest with the tip of her manicured finger, teasing him more, setting the hook, before she turned on him. “I’m a waitress, not a prostitute,” she hissed, now poking her finger into his chest as the anger flashed in her green eyes. “So if you would prefer to drink your ‘Scotch. Neat.’ instead of wearing it, I suggest you go set you ass back down at your table.”
Zach raised his hands apologetically. “I’m sorry.” He bit his lip, trying his best to cover his smile. But her fury was captivating, and quite honestly, he would love to anger her more just to see the flash in her eyes once again.
He returned to his table, having won another $700 by the time she returned with his drink. Once again, she stopped at the opposite end, gracefully placing the drinks upon the felt, and smiling graciously as she accepted tips from his fellow gamblers. Finally, she was standing next to him, holding the glass momentarily above his shoulder as she flashed a wicked grin to him, tempted to pour his drink over him. Instead she placed it upon the felt in front of him as he tossed in chips for the next ante.
She waited a moment to see if he was going to give her a tip despite her actions. Just when she had given up and turned to go, he called to her. Kendall walked back to him and he placed a $1000 chip upon her tray.
She picked the chip up, stunned at the amount. Either he was treating her like a prostitute, or he was treating her like a queen, and this was one gambler, despite all of her experiences, she just couldn’t read. “This is $1000,” she whispered as she leaned down towards him.
He turned to look right into her eyes. “I know. Consider it an apology.”
She returned to stand, holding the chip between her fingers, still staring at it in disbelief. This one chip was enough; she didn’t have to work one more hour, serve one more drink. “Thank you,” the words barely audible from her mouth.
He smiled at her, raised his full glass to her before taking a drink, and then returned his attention to the table, trying to focus on the game at hand. As she walked away, he leaned back in his chair stealing one last glance, something inside telling him he just might not see her again.
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Part Six ~~ Eight Years Later ~~ May 22, 2006
Despite her inability to move, to speak, the memories of her life flashed through her mind like pictures in a photo album. She played on the beach in the Florida sun, splashing in the ocean tides, laughing as the sand squeezed between her toes, running on the beach as she flew her kite.
In her mind, the years passed and the images changed from her life in Florida to the one she now had in Pine Valley. But all stages of her life appeared, the memories just as clear as the day they had occurred.
How she got this way, she wasn’t certain. But from the voices talking around her she realized she was in the hospital, trapped in a body which wouldn’t respond, no matter how loud she screamed inside her head. Her only peace came when he was at her side, speaking to her in a soothing voice, calming her, putting her at ease in spite of her fear that she may never wake up.
With gun in hand, he shoved the unwanted visitors out the door and moved a large cart to barricade themselves inside. “So, we're alone, finally. Just you and me.” Zach climbed into the bed, stretching out next to her. “Guess this is our version of a honeymoon.”
He leaned his elbow on the pillow, propping his head with his hand, while the other crossed her body, gently caressing her arm. “We're in a big bed and tell all. I know you always want to hear my secrets. Well, you broke me. I'll tell you everything you want to know.”
“From Alexander Cambias, Jr., to Zach Slater, to a simple man who loves his wife.” He said as he tenderly stroked her chin. “You sure that's what you want? You already got my heart. You have my future. Now you'll have my past.”
He fought back the tears as he hoped she would somehow hear him and open her eyes. “That's a lot for a young lady. But I guess you can always tell me to shut up.” He waited a moment, anxious that she would do just that. When there was no change, he had no choice but to continue.
“Ok. Here I go.”
Zach began with his childhood and what it was like to grow up in a life of privilege, of private schools and mansions, of servants and luxury vehicles. But with wealth, came expectations, to become like his father, to follow in his footsteps, and in exchange, lose himself.
For Alexander Cambias, Junior, there were very few moments when he could be a child, when he could romp and play, when he could be carefree. Most often, this occurred while his father was away on business, or in the stolen moments when he had escaped his father’s watchful eye.
After he ran from his life, faking his death and becoming Zach Slater, he was lost for a time; the amount of freedom he had gained was a foreign concept to him. For years, he wandered without direction, without family, without money. He worked a variety of odd jobs, all of which would have been below his father’s expectations. Despite the fact he was poor, that he no longer had the status he held as a child, he was, in fact, happy.
He did have to credit his father with cultivating a talent which helped him gain his current fortune. It was his father who taught him to never show emotion, to remain unaffected by your competition’s maneuvers, to never let others know what you were thinking or doing. Instead of using these talents in the ruthless business world that was Cambias Enterprises, Zach used them first in illegal backroom games, then the darkened gambling halls, followed by the noise and lights of the high stakes poker rooms.
This parental grooming, great timing, and a lot of luck, won him his first casino. The same casino which led to another, and another, and ultimately, led him to her.
“Just minutes and hours never really mean anything, because my life started when I found you, and when I started loving you.”
Sixteen Days Later ~~ June 7, 2006
Kendall awoke that morning, having fought her way out of the darkness and back to the life which she had obtained only days before she arrived in the intensive care unit. He was sitting in the bed, facing her, and it wasn’t until she reached out to touch him, did she believe that it wasn’t another vivid image in her mind, but something far better.
She gently cupped her face in her hands. “You're real.” He sighed in response as she moved her hands to his shoulders, slightly squeezing him, wanting to be certain that he wasn’t a dream. “This is… this is real.”
“Don't ever doubt that.” The exhaustion was evident upon his face, in his eyes, a weak smile all he could muster after spending weeks by her side, willing her to breathe, to fight, to come back to raise her son and live the rest of her days with him by her side.
“There's so many things going on in my head. I know my baby is fighting for his life, and I know that I'm lucky to be alive. But… I'm still not sure about some stuff.” She was doing her best to reconcile all the images in her mind, all the voices and sounds that had surrounded her in the previous weeks.
“Well, maybe I can fill you in…” smiling at her, “on the details.”
“Right. Okay. Well, I recall some sort of wedding, so, are we married? We're married. No? Yes?”
He took her left hand and raised it up in front of him so that the ring was facing her, flashing brilliantly as he spoke. “Wife, mine.” He lowered her hand, taking another glance at the large diamond which graced her hand. “Wow.”
She giggled at his response, taking her hand from him to inspect the ring closer. “That's what I thought. Cool.”
“No, it's very cool.” His smile grew larger, glad to see that Kendall was as happy as he, regarding their union.
“Mr. and Mrs. Slater.” She let the words roll off her tongue, like an announcement to the rest of the world. “Forever. For good this time,” she said emphatically.
He watched her face, her smile lessening as she continued to stare at her ring, seeming as if there was more than this single question. “Is there anything else?” he asked.
“Well..” she paused a moment, thinking back to some of the images in her mind. “I saw you on a boat.”
“We were married on a boat; on your mother’s boat, in fact.” He did his best to contain his smile, wondering if she would remember how he had stolen it so that he could kidnap her away from the island.
“No.” She closed her eyes, trying to recapture the image in her mind. “It wasn’t my mother’s boat and I wasn’t on this boat. I just have this picture of you getting off of it. But it wasn’t you. Or at least the you, now.”
Zach didn’t quite understand what it was she was saying, but her descriptions intrigued him. “What else do you remember?”
“I remember seeing you in a casino.”
“I’m always in the casino.
“No. It’s like the boat. You weren’t dressed like you dress. You didn’t look like you do now. You were younger.” He began smiling at her, believing he had a valid explanation, the reason for her memories. “What?” she replied. “I don’t get it.”
He took her hand in his, gently playing with the diamond on her hand as he spoke. “Well, when you were in your coma, and it was just us, I told you all my secrets, all of my past; my life as a child, my life when I became Zach Slater, my life before I met you. It would seem you just made images to go along with the stories that I told.”
She shook her head in disbelief, first that he would tell her his entire life story, second that the images seemed much more like memories from her own life. “But they are so vivid… so real.”
“What can I say?” he said looking into her eyes, “I’m a very good storyteller.”
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KZ, great story. Can hardly wait for the last part.
Thanks for the banner, Diva!
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Thank you. I am really enjoying this!
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Part Seven ~~ Eighteen Years Later
Kendall sat at the dining room table, dusty boxes and old photos strewn out in front of her. Her entire life laid there before her, from Florida to Pine Valley, from childhood to motherhood, all the moments frozen in time.
She picked up one photo, taken the day they brought Spike home from the hospital. A tear slipped down her cheek as she remembered the moment as if it occurred yesterday, and soon she began to wonder just where all the time had gone. He had been a mischievous child, getting into trouble doing the normal little boy things, behavior typically encouraged by none other than Zach.
As he grew he became a bit more rebellious, pushing the envelope, testing their limits. Spike did everything to try Kendall’s patience, often driving her to tears; but Zach was always there to comfort her, to remind her that Spike was just like her, and that no matter what he did, or what he might say, his love for his mother was constant and unwavering.
She placed the picture on the table and reached for another box, lightly brushing away the dust that had collected over the years. Soon his arms were wrapped around her shoulders as he placed a gentle kiss upon her neck.
“Do you hear that?” he whispered into her ear.
She waited a moment, trying to determine what she was listening for. “No. I don’t hear anything.”
“Exactly,” he said. “Silence.”
Kendall sighed softly as she reached up to hold his arm that held her close. “I know. It’s too quiet now. I hate it.”
He chuckled to himself as he sat in the chair next to her. “I could always go bang on that drum set if you like? Would that make it better?”
“No,” she said emphatically. “Yes,” having changed her mind. She waited another moment before answering again. “Maybe. I don’t know.” Her indecision amused him as he took her hand and placed a gentle kiss to her wrist.
When she and Spike were at odds, she looked forward to this day; the day he would be going out into the world and giving it hell. But now that he was gone, halfway across the country at the university of his choosing, she wanted nothing more for him to come back, make some noise and raise hell here --- at home.
Kendall returned her focus to the dusty box in front of her, removing the lid and placing it to the side as she began to flip through the photos and mementos contained inside. It had been years since she had looked at these and was somewhat surprised to know that she still held them in her possession, assuming they had been lost during their last move.
She pulled from it a picture of her with Bill and Alice, the people who had chosen her, raised her, loved her, no matter her treatment of them. Another tear fell as she once again mourned the lost of both of them.
“May I?” Zach carefully took the photo from her hand and immediately recognized Kendall as a little girl. But having never met her adoptive parents was unsure of the adults which posed with her. “Is this the Harts?”
She simply nodded at him before returning her attention to the box contents. Kendall continued pulling photo after photo from the box, taking a moment to look at them before handing them to her husband, explaining the moment captured in each and every one. In the bottom of the box, she found one taken of her at the beach club; one of only a handful of pictures as a child which was taken by a professional. She smiled at the photo, remembering that warm sunny day, dressed in her Sunday best, running down the beach as she flew her new kite.
“Nice memory?” he said, having noticed the sparkle returned to her emerald eyes.
“Yeah,” she said. “This picture was taken where my dad worked when I was a child. It was a perfect day.” She wistfully ran a finger over the image as she continued. “There was a photographer taking pictures for a new advertising campaign. He took some photos of me and another boy on the beach.”
“Aaaah. I knew you were a cover girl from a young age.”
“No,” giggling at him. “They club didn’t want to use them once they saw them. They didn’t know who the boy was, but they especially didn’t want the daughter of the maintenance man to be included.” She took one last look before handing him the photo. “They were going to throw them away, but a secretary at the club, thought I was cute, and she liked my father, so she gave them to him instead.”
Zach smiled at her before turning his attention to the photo, admiring how beautiful his wife was, even as a young child. Something about the image brought back a similar memory for him, one which began with lunch with his father and ended with him playing on the beach. He looked closer at the boy in the photo, a distinct cleft in his chin. He glanced at Kendall before looking back at the photo, holding it closer, examining the little boy captured in time.
As she went to hand him the next photo, she noticed him looking at it with intensity. “Zach? Is everything okay?”
He shook his head, trying his best to remember his childhood. “This picture, Kendall… that is me in the picture.”
“You’re joking,” thinking he was teasing her. But when his expression didn’t change she took the photo back from him, looking closer at the young boy standing next to her on the beach. She researched his face, the same familiar details as the man sitting next to her. “That’s not possible,” she, too, now shaking her head. “We didn’t meet as children, did we? I mean you were rich and I was poor.”
Zach shrugged his shoulders, not sure how to respond. “But you were there, and I was there.”
Kendall continued to stare at the photo, remembering that day, how happy she was when he joined her on the beach and ended her loneliness. “I guess anything is possible.”
He came to stand behind her, once again wrapping his arms around her so they could both reflect upon the photo together. “Exactly. How many times did we think we were lost to the other? How many times did we think we would never find our way back. Anything is possible, Kendall, anything. That is, if you believe in…”
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Thank you, KZ!
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What a lovely story. Thank you!
Thanks for the banner, Diva!
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Very touching story. Thank you so much!
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Oh God!! How romantic. Why can't we see even a little bit of this on our screen??? June
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Beautiful Story KZ. Finally got a chance to read it. It's Sunday. I'm in my office. Terrible real estate market. The best part is that it is quiet and I can peacefully enjoy your writing. Thank you!!!