“This is all your fault!” Miss Parker said as she walked away from the window and sit on the only available chair in the room. The car outside was now totally covered by the snow. She pounded the table. “Damn!”

A calm, deep voice spoke from the other side of the caban. “Something troubling you?”

Miss Parker snapped quickly. “Yes... you! Now, shove it!”

She didn’t even bothered to look at the man cuffed at the far wall.

Outside there was a raging storm, growing stronger and stronger. Inside the situation was not much better. There she was. Alone with someone she had spent the past years of her life chasing. For what, she didn’t know. She knew by now, that capturing Jarod would not grant freedom from The Centre. That hadn’t been a promise made by her father.

Her father.

What a joke. A sad joke, that is. According to Centre records, the recent Chairman of The Centre, Mr. Raines, was her true father. And he, like her first father, had too made her a promise. To her and her twin brother Lyle.

“The first one who brings Jarod back, lives.”

The rules had changed since then. Her efforts to locate Jarod were endangering her health. Despite Sydney’s best advices, she paid little attention to him and spent day and night analysing whatever crumbs Jarod would leave behind. The trail kept her going.

Yes, there was a storm outside. But, if compared to what her life had become, she would much rather be outside and end it once and for all. To hell with the truth! And the answer and all those things that had made her life a living nightmare.

She was tired.

Tired of chasing, tired of failing, tired of everything. Her life could be resumed to one person – Jarod – and he was one she was supposed to hunt down like an animal. Part of her wanted to look at him. The other was afraid to do so. Afraid of the repercussions. Afraid it would be inevitable. No one was here except them.

She looked at her weapon, her old Smith & Wesson, and put all thoughts aside. She had a job to do. This was not the place, nor the time for such considerations. If things had been different, perhaps.


Unfortunately, life had taught her a lesson at a very young age: never depend on hope.

“What are you thinking about?”

Usually that was one of the many question to which she would respond with one of her registered sharp remarks. She didn’t like admitting something was wrong. She never did. Except to her mother. And she was dead. Killed by the hand of her father. This time, however, she closed her eyes and spoke in a calm voice.

“Nothing much.”

“I don’t believe you.”

There he was again. Digging into her mind like an ordinary excavator. Again she went against her usual behaviour and answered back.

“I was thinking about ‘ifs’.”

“What kind of ‘ifs’?”

His deep, penetrating voice was calling for her. He had told her so. Months before. On the Island. She closed her eyes and, as she reopened them, her Ice Queen fašade was back.

“Shut up, Jarod. Just shut up.”

“No one’s here but us. I promise, whatever you say, I will not tell anyone.”

That’s where the trouble resided. If only she could that truth to him.

If only she could admit that truth to herself.

He insisted. “Come on. Let it out.”

That really irritated her. Half of her knew he was only trying to help her – and she appreciated that, although she would never admit it – but the other half thought it was all just an act. Just another one of Jarod’s mind games. Usually, the latter was, statistically speaking, stronger. This time she didn’t go against her usual self.

Without thinking, she grabbed her gun, aimed and fired one single shot. The bullet landed a few inches away from his left foot. Probably it would have hit him if he hadn’t moved. She put the gun back on the table and said nothing.

He didn’t say anything either, but she could tell he was angry at her. She didn’t need to look at him to know that. It was better that way. Better for him. Better for them. As long as he was safe, she could stand the pain. She had gotten used to it a long time ago. After years of training and coercion, she was a master at hiding her emotions.

Except from him.

And he knew that. He knew something was wrong with her. He always did. She knew that he knew. And he knew that she knew that he knew.

It was an endless cycle. A clear describer to which their lives could be reduced to.


Jarod waited for her to calm down before saying anything. Part of him wanted to yell at her for what she had just done. He didn’t do anything – he knew it would be pointless to sink down to her level – so he just waited.

Her level. Ah! What was his level, anyway? In what did he differ from her? They both had shattered pasts thanks to The Centre, both were prisoners – he, a constant fugitive, unable to set bonds anywhere; she, her designated hunter, her former childhood friend. It could be resumed to one single word: Centre. The Centre. That was the source of all their problems.

He knew that, but he wasn’t sure about her. He thought that after revealing some of The Centre’s secrets, she would probably believe him.

Outside, the storm was starting to come to an end. But inside the cabin there was another one begin to form.

He decided to try again. He had never given up. And he surely wouldn’t begin with a woman who meant so much to him.

“Feeling better?”

She sighed before answering. “I...” She stopped there.

He knew she was trying to say something. He also knew that this was very hard on her, so he remained quiet, allowing her to wander through her mind and find whatever she was seeking.

“I’m sorry Jarod.” She said.

He smiled inside. He knew how hard that had been. The hardest step had been given. The rest was a walk on the park. A long, turbulent walk on the park. Oh well, he was used to that.

“Don’t. It was my fault.”

“No. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s all right. You missed.”

“No, I didn’t. You moved.”

She smiled. He smiled. And soon they were both laughing. Laughing like old friends laugh when one of them remembers a joke. Except in their case, they didn’t have to say anything.

“Feeling better?” He asked again.

“I don’t know.”

“What’s wrong?”

Her smiled died at that moment.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t—”

“It’s okay.”

“You want to talk?”

She waited before giving him the answer.

“You want to listen?”

In his mind, he thought To you? Always? But his voice simply said: “Sure.”

It was at that precise moment that they heard something knocking against the door.


Larry had been following the trail for hours. He knew he was closer to his goal. The Voices were telling him so.

The snow was blinding most of his path. Not that it made any difference. He didn’t need to see to know where he was heading. His return to the home of evil was not what he expected. His search was about to come to an end.

Larry saw the cabin at a short distance. He knew he was there. Better yet, he knew she was there. He knew she could also hear the Voices as he did but she, like he had done in the past, paid little attention to them.

He walked the remaining distance. The storm was coming to an end. He could feel it. Finally, he approached the door of the cabin and knocked once.


“What was that?” She asked.

“Probably the wind.” He said.

Then they heard two distinct knocks.

“That’s not the wind. Someone’s out there.”

She grabbed her gun and moved closer to the door. She put her hand on the knob and pulled the door, ready to fire if necessary.

“Don’t move!”

She looked at the man in front of her. White hair, medium structure, about Sydney’s age. There was something about this man. The Voices told her so, but like so many times before, she ignored them. She, however, allowed him to get inside the cabin and closed the door.

“Who are you? And why are you here?”

“The name’s Larry.” He said with a french accent. “And I’m here because of him.”


“You’re Jarod aren’t you?” He asked, as we walked towards him.

Miss Parker aimed her gun.

“Hold it right there!”

Larry stopped, turned around and looked at her. She was one of the chosen.

“I don’t know who you are. But you stay away from him.”

“Why? I don’t believe he’s going to hurt me.”

“But I will.”

“Can I use that chair? I could use some rest. My legs are not what they used to be anymore.”

“Uh... sure.” Miss Parker said. She put her gun back on the holster. She believed that this man presented no threat.

“Where are you from, Larry?” Jarod asked.

“South of France.”

“You’re a little far from home, aren’t you?” Miss Parker asked.

“And how do you know my name?” Jarod asked.

“They told me.”

“They?” Who’s ‘they’?”

“The ones who told me who he was and where he was.”

“Are you talking about The Centre?”

“No. Something much more powerful.” He answered.

Larry unbuttoned his coat, open the zipper of the inside pocket and produced a piece of fabric. He put it on the table and before their astonished eyes he revealed what was hidden – the scrolls.

“Oh my God!”

“Not exactly.” Larry said. “But it’s awfully close.”