Careful not to wake his sister, Frankie Brady tiptoed out of the room, closing the door behind him. The doctors have done all they could, assuring him Carly will make a good, albeit slow recovery. Frankie sighed heavily, staring at the window, not seeing the beauty of the country side. Carly’s body will heal eventually; it was her state of mind he was more worried about.
No wonder she ordered me to stay away all these years, he thought bitterly. He never understood why his sister, whom he loved so dearly, would treat him so coldly, as though he was no longer a part of her life. Hence he’d ignored her warning and tried making the trip to Alamainia but was never allowed into the country by Immigration officials, even though his passport was valid, much to his anger and perplexity. Alamain’s doing, he realized now. There was nothing that man wouldn’t do to, with the power he held. His letters to Carly were never answered; phone calls resulted in being told Mrs. Alamain wasn’t available.
Why? he’d agonized for so long. Too proud to let anyone know of the situation, he’d kept it from Jennifer and Bo. Neither of them could do anything and he doubted Bo would’ve wanted to get involved, being so wrapped up with his family and his cases in Salem. Frankie had no choice but to wait.
Then one day, on his way to work he’d passed his usual newsstand to find the headlines on several newspapers… Statesman Lawrence Alamain assassinated. Before he could get over the shock, a call later in the day from a young man he never met, his nephew Nicholas Alamain, who was in the South of France with Carly.
I have a lot to tell you but not over the phone, can you come over as soon as you can please?
Baffled but more than anxious to see his sister, Frankie had taken the first available flight. A chauffeur had met him at the airport and drove him to a place he saw to be a private nursing home. On seeing Carly at last, he’d wept bitterly; unable to hold back his emotions.
He turned to see Nicholas looking at him. The young man looked tired, dark rings under his eyes. Frankie glared at him, his heart hardening. Just where the hell was he the whole time his father was abusing Carly?
‘Well?’ he asked coldly.
Nicholas blinked but continued, ‘My father’s secretary called a while ago, the paparazzi’s still camped outside the estate, they won’t leave until they get an interview with Mum.’
‘What do they know?’
‘Just what they and the rest of the world media were told, my father was assassinated by an anarchist.’
‘You just want your father to be regarded as a martyr, don’t you?’ Frankie sneered. ‘What else should I expect from his dutiful son?’
‘You’re being unfair.’ Nicholas said in a low voice, his face red. ‘I told you before I’m protecting her, not him! I know what you think of me, that I turned a blind eye. But I’ll say it again; I didn’t know what he was doing to her. The few times I came home, she managed to hide her bruises, I had no clue. I swear it.’
When Frankie’s face didn’t soften, Nicholas continued doggedly, ‘Do you have any idea how I felt when I found her down in the cellars with that knife, staggering over his body? The things he used to torture her? That was when I knew what that bestial bastard has been doing to her all this time. What she did wasn’t murder, it was self-defence. But the newspapers may not see it that way, which is why I’ll tell any lie in the book to prevent people from calling my mother a killer. No one’s ever going to have the chance to hurt her again.’
‘And what about your aunt?’ Frankie asked, unable to bring himself to address that witch by name.
‘She breathes a word to the press or anyone else and they will know what he did,’ Nicholas’ tone was now cold. ‘I made it more than clear to her ; if she dares tell the press or anyone else Mum killed her precious Lawrence and the whole world will know what he did. There were cameras in that cellar; plus his journals. She opens her mouth; those videos will go on You Tube and every major talk show, every international newspaper will be given copies of his journal entries.’
Frank digested this in silence, for a few seconds. Something was still nagging him. ‘But how couldn’t you have known?’ he demanded. ‘Didn’t you know something was off about your father at all, all these years?’
Nicholas shook his head, his expression pained again. ‘I swear I didn’t. After he recovered from his illness, he sent me back to boarding school. I was a kid…’
‘Don’t give me that excuse, Nick.’ Frankie still refused to believe him. ‘You can’t tell me you never noticed something was wrong. From what Carly told me after that Lisanne Gardner mess,’ Nicholas’ face went red again, ‘you were blind were Lawrence and Vivian were concerned; they could do no wrong.’
‘I didn’t know! And cut me a break, how would you feel the woman whom you thought was your mother turned out not to be, or your cousin suddenly turning out to be a Dad you didn’t you had? I didn’t know them for whom they really were back then. If I knew my father was keeping mum up that attic, taking advantage of her amnesia, you think I wouldn’t have run off to tell Bo? I saw how Bo and the Bradys and the Hortons all grieved for her! I was an ignorant, spoiled brat but I wasn’t a monster, and I’m NOT a monster now! Please…’ Nicholas lowered his harsh tone, ‘Believe me, I would’ve put a stop to what he was doing to her all that time, if I’d known about it.’
Frankie turned to look out of the window again, arms behind his back.
‘Well, we can’t keep going round in circles about this,’ he replied. ‘Lawrence is dead and my sister’s finally free of him. She’s always been strong so I know she’s going to heal, eventually. But…’ Frankie shook his head, bitterness and despair in his heart, ‘how will she go on after all this?’