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Hour of the Wolf
Chapter 5 - The Mysterious Ways of Mrs. Frederic
"Do you love her?"
The words spoken so frankly startled Myka and she jumped. Myka thought for a second about asking the woman how she had entered her room without Myka hearing the door, but why bother? Mrs. Frederic had her ways.
"Mrs. Frederic," Myka mumbled. She knew she should get up, that she should show the woman some respect. After all, she was Myka's superior. The truth was that Myka was tired, bone tired. She felt like she had no more energy left, so she just sat there on her bed fiddling with the item in her hand.
"I asked you a question," Mrs. Frederic said again, this time in a gentler voice.
"What does it matter?"
"It matters a great deal, Agent Bering."
Myka looked up at her, searching her dark eyes for answers. As usual, the woman's face was a blank canvas, not showing any emotions. Myka sighed in frustration.
"Answer me please."
"I do!" Myka barked and glared at her. "Happy now?"
Mrs. Frederic smiled.
"Good. I needed to know that before asking you to do this."
"To do what?" Myka muttered.
"To see Ms. Wells."
Myka just stared at her.
"She's still alive?" she whispered.
Mrs. Frederic nodded. "Very much so, and a terrible patient."
Myka chuckled. "I believe that."
"I'm going to leave it to Dr. Calder to explain everything to you, but from tomorrow on you've been reassigned to Dr. Calder's team. Your main priority will be the rehabilitation of HG Wells."
Mrs. Frederic chuckled. The sound was unfamiliar to Myka and she just stared at her.
"Because my dear, Helena still loves you too."
Myka closed her eyes, fighting the tears. When she opened them she was again alone in her room. She wondered for a second if she had imagined the incident, but then she noticed the envelope on her bed. She slowly opened it and pulled out an itinerary and a plane ticket. She smiled. At least Helena was still in the United States.
"Close your eyes Helena," Dr. Calder said and smiled at her. She noticed the guarded look on Helena's face. "It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you."
"Perhaps you are going to have your wicked way with me?" Helena said with a devilish grin.
Dr. Calder laughed and shook her head. "I'm sure that would be delightful, but unfortunately that is not what I have in mind for you, nor am I the person you would like to be intimate with."
"Oh, I don't know about that. It's been a while doctor. You're a beautiful woman. I could do worse," she teased. "You could do worse," she added in a husky tone, and gave the doctor a smoldering look.
"Helena, Helena. I am so pleased that your sense of humor is returning," Dr. Calder said and gently touched her cheek. They looked at each other for a long moment. "Close your eyes Helena."
Helena did. She was surprised when Dr. Calder did not remove her hand from her cheek, but instead caressed it in a gentle, comforting way. Helena found herself leaning into the touch.
"Good," Dr. Calder whispered. "Now, tell me Helena, what are you thinking about?"
"My mother," Helena found herself answering. It surprised her.
"And why is that?"
"She used to touch me like this."
"Tell me about her."
Helena sighed. "There isn't much to tell really. She was a good mother, but a typical Victorian woman. As I grew older I felt more and more distant from her."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Because I wanted things she could not understand."
"What kind of things?"
"An education, to see the world, to love a woman," Helena sighed. The hand caressed her cheek again and she took a deep breath. "She couldn't understand why I wanted a man's life."
"What did she want for you?"
"To get married, have children, manage my house. She wanted me to have her life."
"But you wanted more."
"Yes!" Helena said annoyed.
"It's all right Helena," Dr. Calder said softly. She tucked a lock of Helena's hair behind her ear and caressed her hair. "What about your father?"
"What about him?" Helena asked icily.
"Were you close?"
"I'm a woman," Helena whispered.
"You accomplished greatness Helena. Didn't he appreciate it?"
"Not really. He was very pleased with my brother, Charles, but I was mostly a disappointment to him."
"Because you wanted more."
"Yes!" Helena said and gritted her teeth.
"Thank you for telling me these things."
Helena tilted her head and Vanessa almost thought she had opened her eyes. She smiled and ran her hand through Helena's hair.
"Tell me about your brother."
"What do you want to know?"
"Were you close?"
"Yes and no. In the end I think I resented him too much," Helena whispered. She bowed her head.
Vanessa gently cupped Helena's chin and raised her head.
"Chin up Helena. Show me the woman who lived ahead of her times."
Helena smiled and sat up a little straighter.
"Charles was a gentle soul. In a way I guess fate played a cruel game with us. He should have been allowed to live the life staked out for me, and I should have been born a boy. As it was, we were both unhappy and really only had each other to lean on."
"What did Charles want?"
"He wanted to be a painter. My father quickly put an end to it. Then when I started to write, we managed to find a way for Charles to live his life behind my work."
"You let him have all the recognition. It must have been hard."
Helena snorted. "I didn't need the glory."
"You said you ended up resenting him. Doesn't that speak to that recognition was important to you? That you wanted the world to know that you, a woman, could be just as successful and intelligent as a man."
Helena sighed defeated. "Yes I did. Just once, I wanted them to recognize me, and acknowledge that a woman could accomplish greatness."
"You did Helena. Your work is still read by millions. Your name is recognized in almost every country around the world."
"No." Helena said. She opened her eyes and looked directly at Vanessa. "Charles' work, not mine."
Vanessa caressed her hair again and ran her fingertips over Helena's forehead in a tender touch.
"I know that there are stories inside your head Helena. You are not done writing. You will have your recognition."
Helena shrugged. "I don't even know if it matters anymore."
Vanessa moved away and picked up something. Helena looked curiously at her, but Vanessa's back was turned in a way that she could not see what she was doing.
"You haven't been sleeping Helena." It wasn't a question.
Helena made a face. "So?"
"I thought that moving you here would improve on that. Don't you like your new surroundings?"
Helena sighed. "I do. The bed is heavenly."
"Then what keeps you awake at night?"
"What do you think?" Helena barked.
"I don't know. That's why I'm asking," Vanessa said in the same gentle voice.
Helena started to get annoyed.
"Sleeping alone is hard for me," she mumbled. "I don't like to face the darkness alone."
Vanessa smiled at the confession.
"Then perhaps I have a solution for you." She turned and showed Helena what she was holding.
"A child's bear?" Helena laughed out loud. "I think I might be a little too old for that, doctor."
"We're never too old for that, Helena," she said and handed the white teddy bear to Helena.
Helena took it and looked at it. There was something vaguely familiar about it. She brought it to her face.
"It smells like Myka," she whispered.
Vanessa smiled. "That's because it's Myka's bear."
Helena stared at her. "I can't take this. She will miss it."
"She wanted you to have it."
Helena blinked rapidly a couple of times as her eyes started to fill up with tears.
"She did?" she whispered. She again brought the bear to her face and inhaled the scent of Myka's perfume.
"She wanted you to have something that reminded you of her. Since this bear has been comforting her since she was little she felt that it would be second best."
"Second best?" Helena asked confused.
Vanessa grinned at her. Helena smiled and nodded.
"Oh and Helena, please try not to rip its arms and legs off. I promised Myka that you would give him back to her when you no longer need him."
"She wants her gift back?" Helena muttered.
Vanessa chuckled. "Perhaps you can think of it as a trade for her first choice?"
Helena grinned at her. "I will do that."
"Ms. Donovan, do you have what I asked you for?"
Claudia flinched at the sound of Mrs. Frederic's voice. She always did, and as always it annoyed her that she was so jumpy around her.
"Jeesh," she muttered. Noticing the tilt of the woman's head and the eyebrow creeping up Claudia held up her hand. "Just a moment. I have it." She leaned down and grabbed the shoebox sitting on the floor. She handed it to Mrs. Frederic. "That's the best I can do for now. I put together eight pictures and a CD with a screensaver."
"Excellent work Ms. Donovan," Mrs. Frederic said and smiled as she flipped through the contents of the box. "You are a good photographer."
"Thanks." Claudia grinned at the praise. "I just hope Myka won't kick my ass for this."
"She will do no such thing."
"I'm not entirely sure about that," Claudia said and made a face.
"That will be enough Ms. Donovan. Carry on with what you were doing."
Claudia nodded and went back to her computer.
"So what are these pictures for anyway?" Her question was met with silence. Mrs. Frederic was already gone. "Darn it," Claudia muttered. "I hate when she does that."
Helena nodded at the guard as he let her into her suite. The door closed behind her and she sighed. As much as she hated to be alone, it did feel good at times. Her head was spinning from her last conversation with Dr. Calder. She put the laptop down on her desk and plugged it back in.
It had surprised her when Dr. Calder had asked her to bring the laptop. At first she had just been sitting in front of it staring at the blank screen until the screensaver came up. She would touch a key and the blank page would glare at her.
"Just write one word," Dr. Calder said and glanced at her before going back to her work.
Helena gritted her teeth. She had nothing in her head. It was like an empty void of nothingness.
"I have nothing to write about," she muttered.
"Sure you do."
Helena closed her eyes and leaned her head back. She took a deep breath and then looked at the screen again.
"Would you prefer your old writing instruments?" Dr. Calder asked her.
"No, this is fine."
Helena put her hands on the keyboard and caressed the keys.
"Write a letter to Myka," Dr. Calder suggested.
"Why? Would you send it for me?"
"I prefer to write to Myka in my head. Then no one can read it," she said smugly.
Dr. Calder chuckled. "I wouldn't read your letter. You have my word."
"Perhaps," Helena said, mimicking the doctor. "But someone else might."
"You are correct."
"One word? One word and you'll let me go?"
Helena gritted her teeth again. She typed a word and made a face at the doctor, but then deleted it. She wrote another word and stared at the screen.
"There's something wrong with this computer," she muttered.
"What's that?" Vanessa asked and looked up.
"It says that I misspelled a word. I didn't."
Vanessa smiled. "Did you spell it the British way or the American way?"
"British of course," Helena said and huffed as if any other way was ridiculous.
"There you have it. The spellchecker is American."
"You gave me a bloody American computer?" Helena muttered.
Vanessa chuckled. "I can fix it for you if you like."
"Please. I am not going to change my way of writing to please your computer."
Helena ran her fingertips over the closed laptop. That conversation had happened three hours ago. Once the computer had been changed to use the British dictionary she had no more trouble with the spellchecker. She had written almost eight pages. She chuckled. It really was faster to use a computer than the old way. With a last caress she turned away from the computer. She went over to the small fridge and poured herself a glass of juice and then curled up on the couch. She glanced at the computer again, contemplating continuing to write. As she looked over there she noticed something new on her desk. A photograph. She jumped up and walked over there. She picked up the black frame and almost dropped it. It was a picture of Myka. She traced Myka's smiling face and then pressed the frame against her chest.
Helena sat down on the couch again with Myka's picture in her lap. She took in every aspect of it. Her eyes, her lips, the smile. She was wearing a blue shirt. Helena realized it was the same one as the one currently hanging in her closet.
"Oh darling, I know that you really like that shirt. I will be very careful with it until I can return it to you," she said and smiled at Myka's picture.
Suddenly feeling really tired she got up and left the room. She placed the framed picture on her nightstand before lying down on the bed. Covering herself with the soft blanket she smiled at Myka's picture before closing her eyes.
Helena woke two hours later, feeling remarkable refreshed. She smiled at Myka's picture and then stretched. After a quick visit to the bathroom she decided to review her writings from earlier. She stopped when she noticed that the laptop was open. She knew she had closed it. Someone had been in her room while she slept. She froze and closed her eyes listening for any sounds of an intruder. Everything was quiet. She walked over to the computer and brushed her fingers over the touchpad. She gasped when Myka's face smiled at her. Someone had put a picture on her desktop. It was a different picture than the one currently residing on her nightstand. This particular picture she actually remembered.
She had walked next to Myka teasing her and delighted in each laugh that she could draw out of her. When they had rejoined Claudia, Myka had explained the situation and to Helena's surprise the girl had accepted it without any objections. She had again teased Myka who laughed. Claudia had watched them as they tossed words back and forth egging each other on. Claudia had pulled out her phone and snapped pictures. Myka had been upset, trying to take the phone from her. Helena had grabbed her arm and asked her to leave Claudia alone. What harm could a simple picture do? She had smiled at Myka and for a brief moment they had looked deeply into each other's eyes until Myka smiled and nodded. Helena remembered thinking that this smile was different, softer. She wished that Claudia had captured that too.
Helena picked up the computer and brought it over to the couch. As she sat down with the computer on her lap she again thought of Claudia. Claudia had convinced her to try using it on her lap, saying that laptop meant exactly that, to be used on your lap. She chuckled as she settled in. She missed Claudia. She leaned back against the couch and thought about the young woman for a moment. Claudia had been a great help to her in the beginning. Well, once Claudia stopped being nervous around her of course. Helena had been concerned at first that she had indeed scared Claudia, but soon she figured out that the girl actually harbored some old fashioned hero worshipping. Helena chuckled. Of all of them, Claudia had been the easiest for Helena to read. The young woman carried her heart on her sleeve. She was quick to anger, but also quick to love, as long as her brilliant mind could process what was going on. Helena glanced at the framed picture on the desk again and sent a silent thank you to Claudia. She looked down at the computer for a few seconds before the realization hit her. The picture! She had moved it. She almost flung the laptop aside before darting over to the desk. She grabbed the frame and stared at the picture. It was the image she had been thinking of. She was looking into Myka's eyes. They were smiling at each other, and Claudia had indeed captured that little soft smile of Myka's. Helena made a sobbing sound and covered her mouth with her hand.
She had finally put the picture down and decided to search the suite for any other surprises. She ended up finding three more pictures and then of course the screensaver on the computer. It had made her laugh and cry as the pictures shuffled through. There were many of Myka, but also pictures of Pete and Claudia, even Artie and Leena and the inn. A picture of Myka's ferret made her laugh out loud. He was sleeping in Myka's sock drawer. There was another one with him sitting on Myka's shoulder, sniffing her ear. It must have tickled because Myka was making a face and laughing. Helena smiled at the happiness in the picture. She could almost hear Myka's laughter.
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