"Joe, you're going to wear out the buttons on the phone if you keep calling her. Westlake is a grown woman. Maybe she's at the neighbours having lemonade and sitting on the patio."
"The neighbour is nosey. She's probably grilling Westlake on our sex life for all I know."
"Is there something to mention or are you just using 'what if's'?"
"No Frankie, there's nothing to report."
"What were you calling Westlake for this morning while I was on the phone with her? She hung up in a hurry."
"None of your business. Anyway, you're right. She's a big girl. I'm sure other women's husbands don't call ten thousand times a day to see where they are. She'll call if she needs us."
"That's right. Hey, we finally got a response to the e-mail I sent out. Let's see what it says."
That night when Joe pulled into the driveway he felt a sense of home. He knew where Westlake is where home was. He got out of the car and headed to the door. He had a lunch pail and newspaper under his arm. Shelly came running to the fence to meet him.
"Hi Joe, I'm Shelly. Your wife and I met earlier today."
"Hello. Sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you earlier." He said.
"That's okay. Listen my husband Mike and I are really looking forward to having you two over Friday night. Mark's excellent on the grill. So we'll see you then. Bye." She said as she walked back to the door.
"Yeah, see you then." He called back to her.
Joe opened the front door and walked in. Standing in the entrance way was Westlake with an open beer in her hand. Joe could smell something delicious coming from the kitchen. He walked over to Westlake so he was only a foot away from her.
"Thanks honey, I sure do need a beer."
"This one's mine, go get your own." She stated (all the while smiling).
"When did you get beer, I know for a fact that Frankie didn't have any put here, especially not Coors."
"Well on my venture out with Shelly, our neighbour, we happened by a Cold Beer and Wine Store a couple of blocks from here, so I went back over later and picked up six-pack. Don't worry, I got you a six-pack of Budweiser so you won't have to suffer."
Westlake and Joe headed towards the kitchen. While he was getting the supper dishes out of the cupboards he was watching her out of the corner of his eye.
"You'd better not be checking me out mister. I'll have you know that I'm a married woman."
Joe laughed, "I can't help it, you're beautiful" 'Oops' he thought.
The room went silent for a minute. Joe spoke next.
"So I met Shelly when I pulled in. She mentioned something about Friday night. What are we going to?"
"Mike is having some clients over for a barbeque and we've been invited. Before you ask, he's a financial planner, not a lawyer. I think he's someone who can be trusted."
"Okay, what do we have to bring?"
"Just ourselves. Shelly said everything is taken care of.. Joe, I'm sorry I never called you back today. I know you left a lot of messages on my phone."
"Well I was worried about you." He said walking towards her.
"I know, but I am a police officer and besides no one knows where we are. I don't want you worrying about me so much. Now, did Frankie get anything today on the museum theft?" she said changing the subject. Joe was now standing right in front of her, making her very nervous and excited at the same time. She was sure if he leaned over and kissed her, she wouldn't fight it, she'd probably welcome it.
Joe backed away a bit, "We got a response today on the e-mail sent out. Seems there's a party in Metro City with an art piece that he feels would make us very happy. It's not exactly what we wanted, but still very nice."
"Good, so when do we meet him? I am coming with you aren't I?"
"Actually, Frankie and I thought that maybe we would go for the initial meeting. I'd give him my thoughts and then tell him my wife will make the final decision, just in case Bradley Johnson is nearby watching. We don't want you getting hurt."
"Fine, I understand. Because a psychopath is stalking me I can't ever leave this house. I'm going to go stir crazy. I have to be able to do my job Joe, Frankie should understand that better than anyone." She was starting to yell.
Joe went over to her and took her in his arms, "He does Cameron, and it's me who doesn't want you in danger. I don't know what I would do if anything were to happen to you. I promise, I'll find Bradley Johnson so you can get on with your life."
Westlake was clinging to Joe for dear life, "That's exactly how I felt when I thought I'd lost you. Like a piece of me would be gone too."
"The piece of me that made me choose to be Joe Astor was the piece that loves you Cameron. If I lost you, I'd fall apart."
"What did you say?"
"I said I'd be lost without you."
"No, before that?"
"I said I love you. I have from the first moment we met."
Westlake was looking right into his eyes now. She knew he wasn't lying, that he was speaking truth.
"I love you too Joe. From the moment we met."
Joe took a chance and leaned in to kiss her. When she responded he deepened the kiss. With dinner completely forgotten, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her into the bedroom. Very gently he placed her on the bed and they made love for the first time, but certainly not the last.
It wasn't the alarm clock that woke Joe and Westlake the next morning; it was the five o'clock sunrise. Westlake snuggled in closer to Joe who had his arm around her holding her close. It felt like they had just gone to sleep, which probably wasn't too far from the truth.
"Is it morning already?" Joe whispered in her ear.
"No, just a cruel trick. Go back to sleep."
"What time is it?" he gently leaned up to look at the alarm clock. "Five a.m., that means I still have a couple of hours before I have to get up"
"You could call in sick and stay here with me."
"I could, but then could you imagine all the questions we'd have to answer from Frankie. Probably best to keep him in the dark, for now anyway."
"Like that's going to happen. He'll figure it out right away." She replied.
Joe responded by pulling her even closer to him. He closed his eyes and fell back asleep with the woman he loved in his arms. The alarm clock was suddenly blaring in Joe's ear; it certainly hadn't felt like two hours. He climbed out of the bed and had a shower. When he came back into the bedroom Westlake was wide-awake holding a cup of coffee in her hand. There was a cup on the dresser for Joe.
"Joe, can we go over to my place tonight? There are a couple of things I'd like to get."
"I'll send Frankie over today. He can take you while I'm at work. Then come to the complex and we'll set up our end of the sting."
"Okay, but why do I have to go with Frankie? I want to go with you, we could stay awhile, if you know what I mean."
"That's exactly why you have to go with Frankie. If I went with you, we wouldn't get any work done today. I'll send him over later. I have to go now. I love you." He leaned over and gave her a kiss goodbye.
Westlake stood up and walked to the door with him. She gave him another kiss goodbye. She waved to him as he pulled out of the driveway. Shelly came over at that moment to see Cameron.
"Cameron, hi. Boy do you look different today, happier."
"Well I had a good night."
"Obviously, do you have any plans today? I thought you might want to come over for awhile."
"I'd love to Shelly, but our friend Frankie is coming over later. We're going out for lunch."
"Well have fun then. We are going to see you and Joe tomorrow night, right?"
"We wouldn't miss it. See you then."
"See you then, Bye."
Westlake shut the door and went to the kitchen. She made some toast and sat down to read the paper Joe had brought home with him. She looked at the stove and saw last nights dinner still sitting there. She should probably clean it up before Frankie got there, he would have plenty of questions when he arrived and saw the mess.
"Morning X-man. How are you today?"
"Good, you're unusually chipper. Have a good night?"
"Nothing special, just spending time with Westlake is good. Speaking of Westlake, could you please go over to the house and pick her up for lunch? She wants to stop at her place and pick up a few more things."
"Why can't you?" Frankie smirked
"I'm supposed to be at work, I can't come home in the middle of the day to take my wife out for lunch."
"Why not? Couples do it all the time."
"Frankie, don't argue with me, just do it please. Afterwards, bring her here, we're all going to go over the sting for the museum case."
"Alright, alright. I'll go pick her up, on one condition. I want to take the Viper."
"Of course, if Bradley Johnson is around I want her in the Viper. At least she'll be safe if he tries to come after her."
"Good. I'll head out in an hour that should be close enough to lunching hour. By the way Joe, you look different somehow, like you didn't get much sleep last night."
Joe looked over at Frankie and shook his head. Frankie looked back at the computer screen, things were definitely looking up around the Complex. He'd know if something happened when he saw Westlake, she couldn't keep anything in her life secret for too long.
Westlake could hear the Viper from down the street. She grabbed her purse and keys just as Frankie was pulling into the driveway. He turned off the engine and got out. She was going to have to be quick if she was going to get the door locked before he came inside. He would completely snoop through everything to find any evidence to support his theories (Joe had telephoned her once he left the Complex). He made his way up the walk just as she locked the front door.
"Hi Cameron, how are you today. Been a while."
"Not bad Frankie, it has been a while hasn't it. Well I'm just glad we could get together today, it's too bad Joe has to work. I know he'd love to see you again." She said as she gave him a friendly kiss on the cheek.
"Well get in, I've got reservations at a first rate restaurant downtown."
"Nice wheels, when did you get a Viper?"
"About a year ago, she drives like a dream."
They climbed into the Viper and left the house.
"Okay, so what's going on with you two? Joe was more chipper this morning than I've ever seen him."
"Nothing Frankie, honest. Let's just get to my house so I can get my things and get to work. What's the status on the art heist?"
"Joe and I have a meeting with the middleman later today, if that goes well, then you and he go to see the piece and make the buy."
"Is Catlett back yet?"
"Nope, we haven't heard from him either. Did he say what he had to do out of town?"
"Not really, but I got the impression that it was a personal matter, not something he really wanted to discuss."
"Joe says you guys are going to a barbeque at the neighbours tomorrow night. Sounds interesting."
"Just trying to stay in the context that we're new to the neighbourhood and trying to make new friends. That's all Frankie."
"Yeah right. Well here we are, home at last. You want me to go in with you?"
"No I think I'll be fine, just stay here. If I need you, you'll know."
"Don't take too long, your husband awaits."
Westlake gave him a dirty look and got out of the car. A couple of houses down was the blue sedan. She motioned to Frankie while she unlocked her front door. He looked to where she had motioned and kept his eye on the car. When she got inside, what greeted her terrified her. Her house had been completely ransacked. Things were thrown all around. Pictures and ornaments were broken. She went upstairs to her bedroom and found everything that had been in her dresser on the floor in a complete mess. Her closet didn't look much better.
Frankie looked towards the house. 'What's taking her so long, wait a minute.' He thought to himself. He looked again. It looked like Westlake wasn't alone in the house, there was someone else inside, and they were heading up the stairs. Frankie jumped out of the car and ran for the door. When he entered, something hit him from behind and knocked him out.
Westlake was grabbing some clothes and throwing them into a bag. She turned around to go downstairs and heard footsteps coming upstairs.
"Frankie, is that you? We've got to get to the Complex now."
She came out of her bedroom and ran right into Bradley Johnson. She held her breath for a moment and then noticed Frankie lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.
"You can't hide from me Detective. You and I belong together, we're soul mates."
"What have you done to Frankie, is he hurt?"
"He'll be fine, but you on the other hand will have to pay for hurting me."
"What do you mean?" she asked as she was backed into the wall.
"You spend your days and nights with him, knowing that I'm watching and waiting. Now you go away with him and leave me here alone. All I want to do is love you Cameron."
"How can you love someone you just met?"
"Oh I know all about you. Your mother was very informative. At first I really did care for her, but then I saw your picture and knew we were meant to be, so I found out everything I could about you and your life in Metro City."
"What are you going to do to me? If Frankie and I don't show up at work soon, the police will come to see what's wrong."
"No one's coming. And if he comes, I'll deal with him too."
Bradley Johnson pulled out a knife he had taken from Westlake's kitchen when he entered. He took her by the arm and holding the knife to her throat carefully walked down the stairs and out the back door. He led her to the blue sedan that was sitting in the alley behind her house. He directed her to get into the trunk of the car, which she did. He was crazy and she knew if she tried to fight back she would more than likely get herself killed.
At the bottom of the stairs by the front door, Frankie was regaining consciousness and very slowly stood up. He heard the sound of a car starting up from the back of the house and ran towards the back door. He saw the blue sedan driving off, with Westlake in the trunk. He went to the phone in the kitchen and dialled Joe's cell phone. He was not going to be happy about this.
Westlake was trying to get a look at her watch, but it was difficult. What little light she had coming in the trunk kept fading. The road was bumpy and slightly windy. Where was he taking her. Finally after a very long time, the trunk opened. She squinted to see past the light, past him but had to wait for her eyes to adjust to the light. He pulled her out of the trunk and she finally got a good look around. They were in the woods.
"Where are we Bradley?"
"We're far away where no one will find us. We won't be disturbed here and that's all you need to know."
He led her to the door of a cabin. From what she could see of the area, they were definitely secluded. There was a cliff about 100 feet behind the cabin and she could hear water in the distance, possibly a creek or a river. Bradley opened the door and signalled for her to walk in. When she walked in she could see the living area, kitchen and down the short hall, she could see the bedroom and washroom. He closed the door behind him.
"Have a seat on the couch. I'll get us something to drink."
Westlake did as she was told and watched as he went to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine. He'd been planning this for a while, he was prepared.
Meanwhile, back at the complex, Joe had been talking to Catlett over the videophone when Frankie's call came in. He had just arrived back in town and wanted an update on the case.
"How's the case going? Any leads yet?"
"We've set up a sting with a possible suspect. We made contact over the internet. I'm just waiting for Frankie and Westlake to arrive so we can go over the details."
"How is Westlake Joe?"
"She's fine Catlett. I know about Bradley Johnson. We've been at a safe house for the last few days. There's been no further contact, but we're keeping our ears open."
"I'm glad she talked to you about it. Her brother was very concerned."
"She kind of had no choice. I busted her stay at the complex, she had to tell me what was going on."
At that moment the phone rang.
"Joe its Frankie. I've got some bad news."
"What is it Frankie?"
"When Westlake and I got to her house, Johnson was waiting. He knocked me out and took her. Joe he took off, I don't know where. I'm so sorry."
"Are you okay?"
"I think so. We've got to find her Joe. Johnson was desperate."
"Stay there Frankie, I'm on the way. (to the videophone) Sherman, meet us at Westlake's house."
The videophone went black. Joe got in the elevator and started up to ground level. He looked at the wall of the elevator and clenched his hands into fists.
"If he hurts her in any way possible, he'll pay with his life." He said aloud.
Joe climbed into the cuda and sped all the way to Westlake's.
Bradley Johnson brought Westlake a glass of wine and sat across from her.
"A toast," he said, "a toast to us. To the beginning of our life together. Cameron, it's going to be wonderful."
Westlake smiled as they clinked glasses, 'in your dreams you psycho' she thought to herself. She pretended to take a sip, after all he could have put something in her drink, and set the glass down on the table.
"So, what makes you think that we're really safe out here? That no one will find us?" she asked.
"This cabin can't be traced back to me. It belongs to an old acquaintance of mine."
"What if my partners find him. They're pretty good at their job you know."
"They won't find him. He met an unfortunate death a couple of years ago. Fell off the cliff out back."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Yeah right. Anyway, don't think of trying to escape. I've got the whole area rigged with surprises. I like my privacy. Plus that cliff out back is hard to see at night, that's how Jeff died. Went out chasing something and slipped right off the edge, and he knew it was there."
"Who said I was going to try to escape?"
"You do want to get back to him don't you?"
Westlake slowly moved closer to him. If she could make him believe that she wanted to be there with him, maybe she'd have a better chance at getting away.
"Bradley, I want to be here with you. You didn't have to bring me here in the trunk of your car. I wanted to see how far you would go to have me."
"Are you telling the truth? What about him?"
"Joe! He was just there. He means nothing to me whatsoever. It's been a very long time since I've been with someone. I was merely passing the time."
He looked at her questionably. She could see the doubt in his eyes. 'Get him to trust you' was her only thought.
"He was a means to an end Brad. I swear it." With that said she leaned in and gave him a long kiss. In her mind she was seeing Joe's face. She hated herself for doing this to him. When they parted she knew she had his trust. Little did she know that it would be temporary.
Catlett was talking with Frankie inside Westlake's house. They had telephoned Chris Davis and let him in on the search. He and Joe were out back in the alleyway looking for anything that could point them in the direction Johnson had taken her. Joe looked down at a piece of paper, which he probably wouldn't have noticed if he weren't looking for clues. He carefully picked it up and opened the folds.
"Chris, come over here."
"Did you find something Joe?"
"I think so. This is a gas receipt from a service station outside of town. Do you know where this is?"
Chris took the receipt and looked at the name on the receipt.
"This is in the mountains. If I remember my high school ski trips properly, I'd say this is on the highway towards Whistler."
They ran into the house and right into Catlett.
"What's the rush gentlemen."
"We know where he's taken her, or at least which direction. He's going to the mountains."
"That's a lot of ground to cover Joe. Do we have somewhere to start?"
"A service station on the highway. Chris pass me the photo of Johnson and I'll take it with me. Thanks!"
"You don't think you're doing this alone do you?" Frankie asked.
"Yes I am Frankie. He knows I'll come after her, he wants it that way I'm sure. Please trust me on this."
"Okay. What do we do so we're not being useless?" he asked Joe.
"If you and Catlett want to check on any associates of Johnson's, maybe one of them is helping him. Chris, you're her cousin, talk to Jonathon and let him know that we'll find her safe. I think that your family would rather hear it from you than me."
"I'll let them know. Joe, when you find her, beat the pulp out of him for me would you."
Joe looked at him and gave him a smile as he got into the viper. He drove off towards the highway, towards the mountains to find the woman he loved.
"I hope he's on the right track?" Catlett said.
"He is. I've got a good feeling about this. Well I guess I'd better call Jonathon and let them know what's happened."
"Yeah, okay. By the way. Westlake never mentioned anything about you being her cousin before. How'd Joe know?" Frankie asked Chris.
"I happened to let it slip while we were out back, not on purpose mind you, but it slipped out."
Two hours had gone by since their arrival at the cabin. Sunset was quickly approaching and Bradley Johnson had made it very clear that they were going to consummate their relationship that night. Westlake was trying to think of ways to stall him. She could feel in her heart that Joe was getting close to finding her. She was afraid if he didn't find her quickly she'd end up being raped by Johnson. Finally, one last-ditch attempt.
"Bradley, are you sure you really want to make love tonight? I think it would be more romantic if we waited till we are really ready."
"Are you saying that you're not ready to make love to me, but you were to him?"
"That's not what I'm saying. Don't get angry please. With Joe it was pure lust, with you I want it to be real love. I think in order for that to happen we need to spend some more time together. I don't want to ruin our relationship before it even has a chance to get started, do you?"
"No I don't want to do that. I suppose you're right, we'll wait a while longer. Another day won't hurt us. I'll sleep out here tonight, but just to warn you, the windows in the bedroom are barred to keep you safe, so don't think of trying to get out during the night."
"I wouldn't think of if Bradley."
Westlake went down the hall and said goodnight as she closed the door behind her. She stood facing into the room and breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully Joe was close to finding her. She undressed down to her undergarments and climbed into the bed. She'd have to find a way to get out of the cabin tomorrow to try and make a break for it. She wondered if her mother had mentioned to him that every summer Jonathon, her father and herself went on camping trips/hikes. That she knew how to really rough it. She half slept that night always keeping an ear open in case he decided to come into the room.
Twenty miles away, down the mountain Joe was at the service station speaking with the manager and evening attendant. He showed them the picture of Bradley Johnson and explained the situation to them. The gas attendant didn't recognize him, but at second glance the manager remembered a gentleman matching his description stopping earlier that day.
"I remember him sir. He stopped here this afternoon sometime and filled his tank. I was in on the day that's on the receipt also. When I spoke with him then he had mentioned that he was going to Metro to visit his girlfriend. Today when I asked him how his visit was he said better than he'd hoped."
"Is that everything you remember?"
"Yeah. I'm sorry I couldn't be more help."
"Do you happen to remember if he said where he was coming from?"
"No, I'm sorry. He never mentioned it. Well actually, he did say that he had a cabin in the woods, but as you can see Mr. Astor, woods surround us. He could be anywhere."
"Thank you for your help."
Joe got back into the viper and called Frankie.
"Hey, any luck?"
"Well I'm on the right trail. Johnson was here, earlier today in fact so he's got to be somewhere out here. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack."
"Well don't get discouraged buddy, I found something for you. Johnson had an associate named Jeff Matthews. According to the information I received, Matthews had a cabin about twenty miles from where you are. If you keep going on the highway east, you should reach a turnoff where you wouldn't expect to find one."
"Joe, you might not want to go out there right now though. It's getting dark out and according to Matthews record he was a real nut when it came to game. He was quite the hunter and knew how to set traps. Oh and one more thing, he disappeared two years ago."
"I can't just leave her out there with him."
"She can take care of herself. She's smart, she'll think of something. Besides you're no good to her half asleep. Get some rest and go after her in the morning."
"Okay. I'll get some rest and go after them in the morning. I'll call once I've got her."
"Good luck Joe, not that you need it."
Joe hung up and checked into a roadside motel for the night. When his head hit the pillow he fell right asleep, he hadn't realized just how tired he was.
Westlake woke up the next morning to the smell of coffee, bacon and eggs. She smiled and almost called out for Joe, but then she remembered where she was. She got up, got dressed and went into the front room. Johnson was standing at the stove when he heard her come in.
"Good Morning. How did you sleep?" he asked.
"Fine thank you. And yourself?"
"I would have slept better with you." he said.
"Well I told you I don't want to jeopardize our relationship before it even begins."
"I know, so I'll respect your request.. For now." he said.
Westlake got a chill down her spine when he said the words 'for now'. She went to the cupboard, grabbed a coffee mug and poured herself a cup. A couple of minutes later Bradley had put the plates on the table and they sat down to eat.
"Bradley," she said, "Are those surprises you mentioned really set?"
"Why?" he asked.
"I just wondered. I was interested in taking a walk around the cabin a bit. It looks like a very beautiful place here and I would like to see some of the scenery, that's all."
"I'll take you for a walk after breakfast. Some of the traps are set and I wouldn't want you getting hurt."
"Thanks, I'd really like that." she smiled at him.
They finished their meal in silence. Once they were done Westlake went back down the hall to get dressed. Only then did she realize that the only clothes she had were the ones she had come in.
"Cameron, there's some clean clothes in the dresser for you to change into." Johnson yelled. It was as if he'd read her mind.
"Thanks Brad." she called back.
At the motel Joe was showering. He'd been awake all night worrying about Westlake. He got dressed and went to the office to check out. At the counter was a beautiful young woman. 'Must be the day girl' he thought.
"I'd like to check out please."
"Sure thing handsome. So you alone?" she asked
"Right now yes, but I'm meeting my girlfriend." He replied.
"Oh." She was disappointed.
"Here's my room key. Actually, maybe you could help me?"
"I'll try. What do you need?"
Joe pulled out Bradley Johnson's photo and held it up. "Have you ever seen this man before?"
"Maybe, what business have you got with him?"
"Well I'm either going to arrest him or kill him. Depends on what he's done to my girlfriend."
"You're a cop?" she asked stunned.
Joe pulled out his ID and showed her.
"Well in that case, go east about 15 miles and turn off down a dirt road. 5 miles down there's an old log cabin on the cliff side. It used to belong to Jeff Matthews, another sordid kind of guy. Be careful though, rumour has it that Matthews had the place rigged with traps."
"Thanks for the info. If you don't mind my asking, why did you tell me everything so freely?"
"Matthews died 2 years ago, fell off the cliff. The police said it was suicide, but I know Bradley Johnson killed him. Jeff was my brother."
"Hey, there's always one black sheep in the family, my brother just happened to be that black sheep. He wasn't always bad though. I hope you find your girlfriend safe, Johnson's kind of crazy, as if you didn't know that already."
"I hope so too. Thanks," looking at her nametag, "Julie."
Joe paid the tab and got into the viper. Inside the office, Julie was picking up a picture from the desk, one taken in happier times with Jeff.
He headed east on the highway the way Julie had told him, hoping that she wasn't going to warn Johnson that he was coming.
Johnson and Westlake were walking arm in arm through the woods looking at all the scenery. He was pointing the sights out noticing that she wasn't really paying attention.
"Cameron, are you listening to me?"
"Of course I am." she said lying.
"Then what did I just tell you?" he asked.
"You pointed that way," she pointed, "and said that's the way to big chief. And over there is the way to Shannon Falls." she replied.
'So she is paying attention' he thought to himself. He kept talking and walking around the cabin's area. Westlake was paying attention to where they were stepping so she had an idea of where the traps were. From the way they were walking, she figured behind the cabin towards the cliff was clear and leading into the woods from the west side was okay. Now just to find the right time to try. They got back to the cabin and went inside. Westlake noticed that Johnson was feeling slightly uncomfortable.
"Why don't you go cool off in the shower, it's very hot out already."
"I think I might do that. Don't go anywhere Cameron." he replied.
"Where would I go? I'll make some iced tea to cool us down." she smiled and planted a tiny kiss on his cheek.
He went down the hall and into the washroom. She went to the cupboard to find the juice pitcher and drink mix. Once she heard the water running she decided to wait a moment to make sure he was in the shower and then make her move.
Joe had turned down the dirt road and was halfway when he stopped the car. He turned off the engine and got out. Making sure that his sidearm was loaded and ready to go he started down the road keeping low to the ground so he wouldn't be seen.
Westlake went to the door of the cabin and opened it carefully. She stepped outside and retraced their steps taken earlier. When she was 50 feet from the cabin she started to run. From behind her she heard Johnson shout her name.
"CAMERON, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU! YOU CAN'T ESCAPE FROM ME!"
She looked behind her and saw Johnson coming after her. She was running towards the road now behind the house, trying to lose him in the trees, but he knew these woods well. He caught up with her and tackled her to the ground. He pinned her face down in the dirt.
"First I'll have my way with you, then I'll kill you."
"Not if I stop you first." a voice behind him said. "Let her go and I might consider letting you live." Joe said.
Johnson stood up slowly and turned to face Joe. As he turned he made a note that they were only a few feet away from the edge of the cliff. It was as if time stood still for a moment. Westlake turned over and saw Johnson disarm Joe, grab his arms and flip him to the ground. She got up and was slammed into a tree before she could do anything to help. Joe got up and Johnson immediately tackled him towards the cliff.
"JOE!" Westlake screamed.
Both men went over the edge. Westlake was frozen. She quickly calmed her breathing enough to go to the edge and look over. When she looked over she saw Joe hanging onto a tree root that was in the cliff. Johnson was hanging onto his legs trying to pull him down the side.
"If I can't have her then nobody can." he stated.
Westlake looked to her right and saw Joe's gun. She picked it up and signalled for him to turn his head. She pointed the gun down at Johnson.
"Think again you psycho."
She fired the gun hitting Johnson in the right shoulder. He let go of Joe and fell down to the river below. Westlake fell to the ground and leaned over the cliff. She reached down towards Joe and he grabbed onto her hand. Once he was on solid ground again he took Westlake into his arms. She shook in his arms as she cried.
"I thought I had lost you again." she said between tears.
"I told you that you'd never lose me."
"How did you know where to find me?" she asked.
"Let's just say I had some help along the way. I'll tell you everything later."
Joe helped Westlake to her feet and dried her eyes. He gave her a kiss, the kind of kiss that was full of promise and love. Together they walked back to the road where Joe had left the car. Once inside they made their way to the motel Joe had stayed at the night before. When they arrived they saw a police cruiser there. Julie saw the viper pull in and ran outside to meet them.
"Did you find her? Is she okay?" she asked as she ran to Joe.
"Yes I found her thanks to you Julie. What's with the police?"
"I wasn't sure if you would need them or not but I called my friend over there and he came to meet you."
A young police officer came walking over to Joe and Westlake who had now gotten out of the viper.
"Good afternoon sir. I understand that you were headed out to Jeff's cabin. Did everything go well?"
"Very well I would say. Johnson is in the river below somewhere, he fell over the cliff."
"What a shame, well I'll head that way and make my report. Glad to see your doing well Ma'am."
"Thanks. But really, I've been better."
Julie handed Joe a room key and he and Westlake went to the room.
"Was that how you found me?" she asked smiling.
"Yes, Julie didn't like Johnson either. Jeff Matthews was her brother and she was sure that Johnson had killed him."
"He did, he as much as admitted it to me. I'm going to go clean up. One more thing." she said.
"You didn't happen to bring any clothes with you did you?"
Joe went to the viper and pulled out her overnight bag from the trunk. He came back into the room and handed it to her.
"I thought you might be wanting these." he said.
Westlake smiled at him as she went into the washroom and closed the door. Once she was in the shower Joe called Frankie and Catlett to tell them the news. Of course they were waiting by the phone along with Chris to hear from him.
Westlake was going over the events of the last few days in her mind. In the last week she had been stalked, kidnapped and nearly killed, but the thing that stood out in her mind was the fact that this had helped her and Joe immensely. Without the events of the last week, she might have never admitted to him that she loved him and visa versa. 'Something good always does come out of the bad' she thought. Just then a brilliant idea popped into her mind.
"JOE" she called out.
He didn't come.
"JOE" she called out again.
This time the door opened.
"Yes?" he asked, like he didn't know.
It was payback time. "Could you hand me the towel please?" she asked.
He took the towel off the back of the door and passed it to her. Suddenly he was being pulled into the shower, clothes and all. She smiled and kissed him. He stood there laughing.
"I suppose I deserve this."
"Payback is wonderful isn't it?" she asked.
"Yep! But I don't remember doing this to you." he said as he kissed her again.
They didn't go home right away, they decided to stay for a couple of days.
They arrived home two days later. When Westlake had spoken to Frankie he explained that he went to Shelly and explained things to her as best he could, but Westlake still wanted to pay her a visit.
She pulled into the driveway, turned off the engine and walked to the front door. It was Saturday so she was sure that Mike would be home also. She knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" she heard a little voice say through the door.
"It's Cameron, is your mommy home?"
"Just a moment please. MOMMY! It's for you. It's some lady named Cameron."
The door opened a minute later and Shelly was standing there with her daughter in front of her.
"Cameron! I'm so happy to see you. Come in please." She opened the door wider so Westlake could enter.
"Hi Shelly. I just wanted to stop by and see you. I'm sorry that Joe and I didn't make it to the barbeque last Friday night."
"Oh that's fine. Your friend Frankie Waters came over and explained everything. Although he was sort of cryptic."
"Well let me fill in the blanks for you. First of all, my real name is Cameron Westlake. I'm a police detective with Metro PD."
At that moment Mike walked in the room. He walked over to Westlake and took her hand in his.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you detective. I'm Mike, Shelly's other half."
"Nice to meet you Mike. Anyway, Joe and I were staying at the safe house protecting me."
"Safe house?" Shelly asked.
"Yeah, I was being stalked. Anyway all that is over with so I'll be going back to my place now I guess."
"Well, you will keep in touch won't you? It was nice having you next door to talk to."
"Of course I'll keep in touch. Here's my phone number. Maybe we could all get together for dinner sometime."
"That would be great. What about next weekend? We'll have a barbeque while the weather is still good." Mike asked.
"I'll check with Joe, but that sounds fine to me."
"Great. Bring your partners too. Do you think I could sell one of them a portfolio?" Mike joked.
"I'll point Catlett your direction. Well I'd better be going, I've got a stack of paperwork that needs to be done, the downside to police work."
"Okay, we'll call you later this week with the time. Have a good evening Cameron." Shelly said.
"You too." Westlake got into her car and headed to the office. When she arrived she found a note on her desk. It read 'Forget work tonight. Come to my place for dinner instead. Love Joe.' That was too tempting an offer to resist, do paperwork or spend her night with the man she loved.
When she arrived at Joe's the door was partially open so she entered. There were candles lit everywhere and music playing in the background. She called out to him but he didn't answer. She slowly rounded the corner to the kitchen and found him sitting at the table with a bottle of wine.
"Sit, you're just in time." he said.
She sat down at the table while Joe served dinner and poured her a glass of wine. They ate dinner in silence just enjoying each other's company. Once they were finished Joe turned on a cd and took Cameron's hand. He led her to the living room where he took her in his arms and started to move to the music.
"How did you plan all this?" she asked.
"I had a little inside help from Mike and Shelly. They phoned me once you left their place."
"You're good Mr. Astor. Sneaky, but good."
"I know." he said and smirked at her.
He kissed her as the next song played. This was the beginning of a wonderful life together, they could both feel it.
There's a song that's inside of my soul
It's the one that I've tried to write over and over again I'm awake in the infinite cold Would you sing to me over and over and over again
So I lay my head back down And I lift my hands and pray To be only yours I pray To be only yours I know now you're my only hope
Sing to me of the song of the stars Of your galaxy dancing and laughing and laughing again When it feels like my dreams are so far Sing to me of the plans that you have for me over again
And I lay my head back down And I lift my hands and pray To be only yours I pray To be only yours I know now you're my only hope
I give you my empathy I'm giving you all of me I want your symphony Singing in all that I am At the top of my lungs I'm giving it back
And I lay my head back down And I lift my hands and pray To be only yours I pray To be only yours I pray To be only yours I pray
I know now you're my only hope