Comdex - 6 - Recuperation

COMDEX

     

CAUTION This Story contains the clinical retelling of a Rape scene. CAUTION

     

Seconds later, I felt someone else grab my hands, and squeeze them tightly. “Please don’t hurt yourself. I love you, too,” I heard Lisa plead through tears. “I can’t imagine what it must be like, but please don’t give up? I need you, Daddy! I don’t care whether you’re my daddy, my aunt or my mom. I need you!” she cried. Like my mom, Lisa reached down and kissed my cheek, leaking tears on my shoulders. Then she let go, and someone else grabbed my hands.

I was beginning to feel they had lined up, no, ganged up on me. One after another, they battered me with their love ... brutalized me with their compassion.

     

Thanks to my editors, Wendy, Holly, and Stan. Thanks Maggie for your encouragement.

Comdex— Chapter 6 — Recuperation
Copyright  © Beth Williams 2004/8

Thursday, December 20, 2001

The first thing I felt was a strange sense of peace. Everything was muzzy. I realized I was cold, a cold deeper than I had ever known. ‘Something’s wrong,’ I thought, but had no idea what it was. I tried to swallow ... I couldn’t. My tongue felt swollen, abrasive. I tried to suck a bit of saliva ... but nothing was there.

Then I felt something cold and wet at my lips. I knew I should do something with it, but couldn’t work out what it was. I managed to open my mouth, and the wetness slipped inside. My tongue loosened up, and some of the discomfort slipped away.

After another eternity I realized that maybe something else was wrong. I tried to open my eyes, but they didn’t respond. I lay there a while trying to figure it out. ‘Eyes Open!’ my brain commanded, nothing happened. ‘Oh well, I’ll just go back to sleep,’ I thought. The cold and wet something was back at my lips, and I thought that maybe I could suck some of the liquid. I tried, my mouth worked, it tasted ... wet ... heavenly.

The cool wetness moved to my eyes. ‘That’s silly, I can’t suck on it with my eyes,’ I thought. I didn’t care too much, it felt good. I just lay there, probing the fragments of sensation, trying to figure out what they meant. The cool wetness went away, and I felt liquid on my eyes. That seemed to help, and I tried to open my eyes again. They opened enough that I could at least see. But I didn’t know what I was seeing, everything was blurry and fuzzy. I thought, ‘Oh, I really must get Lasik surgery,’ then remembered I’d had it years before.

A dull throbbing pain throughout my body seemed to be growing by the moment. ‘Ahhh! ... pain ... hurts ... why? ... Why do I hurt? ... What’s wrong?’

The cool wetness returned ... wiping at my eyes ... distracting me from the thought. I blinked a few more times. ‘That’s better,’ I tried to smile. ‘I’ll just keep my eyes closed a little longer,’ I reasoned. ’Sleep ... yeah sleep. It doesn’t hurt when I sleep.’ I tried to tell whoever was there all I wanted to do was sleep, but I couldn’t make my mouth work.

Somewhere in the background, I could hear a high pitched beep, beep, beep. ‘How can I sleep with all this noise?’ To me it seemed the sound and the pain were racing each other to see which would destroy me first . All I wanted to do was escape from the noise ... from the pain. I couldn’t hide from the pain. No matter how hard I tried to relax and slip back under, the pain brought me further up!

The only thing I could do was feel the pain searing through my skull with each hellish pulse of that damned beep.
‘Got to get away from the beep!’ … BEEP!
‘My head! … Got to get away! …” BEEP!

I was operating on animal instincts. That damned beep hurt. I had to get away from the BEEEEEP!

It echoed through my skull, setting every nerve ending on fire. I tried to scream in agony, but couldn’t. I wanted to run … but it was like the worst nightmare on earth. Nothing worked!

All I felt was the pain. ‘ I’ve got to get away from the pain.’ I tried to make my arms and legs move, and nothing was happening. The beep was coming faster now, each pulse closer and closer, … faster and faster.

Each strident scream of sound was a white-hot poker that seemed to make lights flash inside my skull. It was getting brighter,… BUT IT HURT!!!!

Then it started to make sense. But it was a sense that I didn’t want to understand. ‘Something is very wrong. This sense shouldn’t be. … That’s a heart monitor. Heart monitor ... hospital ... I’m in a hospital. Why am I in a hospital? … What happened to me?” What ...?!?”

I couldn’t quite figure out why I was in a hospital bed, and frantically began trying to remember what could have happened. I could hear the beeping sound speed up, pounding deeper into my skull. I knew I was panicking, but I didn’t know why.

Then it hit me!

I opened my eyes and tried to move my head. there was Linda ... and to my horror, my MOM?!? I could hear the beeping racing now, keeping time with my rising panic.

“NOOO!” I screamed. “I failed. Oh, God, HOW could you DO this to me?” I wailed.

Linda came over and touched by arm. I tried to pull away but couldn’t move. “I was through the hard part,” I screeched. “Why didn’t you just let me die? How COULD you?!

I could see desperation in Linda’s eyes. “Get out! GET OUT!” I screamed through my tears. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

I continued sobbing. “Everyone, just get out! Don’t you understand? I don’t want to live. I KNOW you can’t love me anymore! I KNOW it! Why couldn’t you just let me die like I wanted to? I can’t love, anyway.”

I thrashed desperately and tried to reach for the IV’s. I failed, only because my arms were restrained. Somehow that made it even worse; they were at least one step ahead of me. … I stopped thrashing, … closed my eyes, … and succumbed to my tears.

I could hear Dr. Tom chasing everyone out, then I felt something cold being injected into the IV in my right arm , “Damn you all!” I screamed. They were ALWAYS one step ahead of me. Soon I felt a rush coursing through my brain and everything faded to black.

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Tom looked around the room in exasperation. . “Son of a Bitch! That sure went sideways.”

Dr. Bellows chuckled, “It may be for the best. Let’s let her rest for an hour or two and try again. The biggest shock is over. Now it’s depression and her will to live that I’m concerned with.”

Hal and Linda re-entered the room, and pulled a chair to where Kate lay. Gently, with infinite tenderness, Linda took Kate’s hand and held it. “Tom, she’s so cold. Is there anything I do?” she said.

“I suppose we could wrap her in an electric blanket on low,” Tom replied.

Hal left, returning with an electric blanket. Hal and Linda tucked it up around under her chin, leaving only her head and the part of the arm with the IV exposed.

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Dorothy took the kids upstairs; TJ tagging along. “Kids, we need to talk,” She ushered them into the guest office, closing the soundproof door behind her.

“Grandma … What happened?” Lisa asked.

“That’s a long story, Honey. Your uncle TJ can explain some of it better, but what happened, is that Kate was beaten and raped.”

“RAPED!>!” Lisa screamed, interrupting her grandmother, dismayed by the thought her father could have been raped. She burst out crying.

“Yes, Baby, raped! Then afterwards she decided to TRY to kill herself, and did a damned good job of it. A few more minutes and she would have died.”

Clearly agitated, Tim spoke up. “Grandma, you keep saying ‘she’. Is my dad turning into a faggot?” anyway

“Tim,” TJ turned to his nephew, “I know this is hard for you. Damn, it’s hard for all of us; your dad most of all. The doctor’s say your dad IS a woman. Not, a ‘faggot!’ ” he spat. “A woman! That’s MY SISTER, and YOUR FATHER.

“I don’t like it much better than you. But unless you want her to die, you’d better sort out your feelings in a hurry. I’ll help you any way I can, but, you say something like that to her, and you might as well put a gun to her head and pull the trigger. I'm afraid if you do somehow slip, you and I will be taking a trip to the wood shed, where I will tan your buttocks a bright rosy red. He looked at Lisa, to include her in his remarks.

Stunned, Tim looked from his uncle to his grandmother. She continued. “Tim, your uncle’s right. Your dad suffers from something called Gender Dysphoria. She has mostly male parts, but her brain, is ALL woman. It’s important for you to understand that. She’s going to need your help, or she’s gonna die.”

At the word ’die‘ Tim blanched. “Gran’ma ...why?” he asked plaintively. You could hear the tears in his voice as he struggled to keep from shedding them. “Why is it happening to my dad?”

Dorothy’s voice cracked with emotion, “Honey, we just don’t know. When your dad was growing up, he was always a bit different. He cared more. He was interested in lots of things that you don’t usually associate with little boys. As he grew, your grandpa and I watched. Your dad ALWAYS tackled the most “manly” things he could. He usually, wasn’t very good at them, but nothing and no one could stop him.”

“Your grandpa and I knew he was doing them for us. He kept a secret diary. To this day, I don’t think your dad knew we’d read it. It was a cry from his heart. He was always writing prayers to God, asking to be like the other kids in school. Sometimes he’d write, begging God take his feelings away from him, or to make him a girl. I remember once, it was really late at, I thought everyone was asleep. I heard a noise and walked by your dad’s room. He was laying on his bed, almost naked. I could see him, ‘cause the moon was full and the light shone into his room through the open window. The noise I heard was him sobbing. He was crying, and begging God to make him a girl, or at else to let him feel like a man. I crept back to my room, broken hearted, and cried myself to sleep over the pain of my baby.

“He didn’t want it ... He fought it ... He lost. To survive, my baby, YOUR Daddy, is going to have to accept that she’s a woman. She’s MY baby girl ... she’s just gone through one of the most terrible things a woman can go through... She’s been raped ... brutally savaged by an animal pretending to be a man …”
She paused, and seeing the tears streaking down Tim’s cheeks, called him to her. Tim came over and she pulled him into a hug as he broke into sobs. “I know you kids feel hurt and betrayed. BUT she’s the one that’s REALLY been hurt, and betrayed. Just try to love her. She loves you very much. I don’t think she has anything left to give right now. “Your daddy feels all alone right now, Kids. She’s hurting so bad that she’s tried to kill herself ... and without all of our love, she just might try again.”

TJ walked over and patted Tim on the back. “You think you can help us, Tim

Tim just nodded, “I’ll try,” he got out between sobs. “Please … don’t let my dad die!”

“That’s what we all want, Honey,” Dorothy told her grandson as she pulled Lisa into the group hug. “That’s all we want, all we can ask of both of you.”

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Drs. Tom, Norma, and Saul decided to bring Kate around again. The lighting was subdued, the temperature was a pleasant 76 degrees.

-----------------------------------------

This time, the first thing I noticed was being warm. I felt strangely detached, lethargic and at peace. ’Relax! You’re just waking up.’

This time I could open my eyes, at least a little. It took a few minutes for my eyes to be able to focus. When they did, I saw Linda sitting there, holding my hand.

I felt more than slightly disoriented. I felt like I’d had 4 or 5 stiff drinks.

Dr. Tom held a straw to my lips, and I sucked some kind of citrusy drink. “I’m sedated,” I managed to croak. Tom nodded.

Looking directly at Linda I said, “You deserve someone better than me. You should have let me die.” Sedated or not, I began to cry. “This doesn’t change anything, I still can’t go on living.”

Linda gently hugged me. “I love you,” she whispered. I don’t know how long she stood there. I could feel the wetness of her tears roll down my face and pool between my breasts. “What happened wasn’t your fault. I’m sorry ... I failed you. If I’d gone to the cabin with you, none of this would have happened. I love you ... I’ll always love you.

I tried to return the hug, only to be reminded of the restraints binding my hands to the bed. “Hey, Doc, if I promise to be good, could you let me loose? I need to hug my wife?”

Tom unfastened the restraints.

I was able to manage a one arm hug; the other hurt too badly when I tried to move it. “How can you say you love me?” I asked, beginning to cry again. “I saw the disgust in your eyes ... I KNOW I’m revolting, and as soon as you saw me, you ran away. I don’t blame you. It was all my fault! You saw what I made that man do. I’m just a freak! A slut, like he said. And YOU KNEW IT.” I gasped, wiping at my eyes.

“THAT’s why you ran away and left me ALL ALONE!” I broke free from the hug, rolled over and tried to hide my tears in the pillow.

Linda reached out, gently rubbing my back. “God, no, Babe; it wasn’t you. I was sickened ... outraged by what that animal did to you. I did the only thing I could think of. I … I ran to get help. I was only gone for a few minutes -- thank God! Any longer and we might have lost you.”

“Don’t you get it?” I screeched. “I wouldn’t have been lost. I’d be in heaven, and NOT FUCKING HURTING! I ... wouldn’t ... be.” I began sobbing uncontrollably. “God, what a failure ... failed as a man ... and failed as a woman. Damn, I even failed to kill myself!” Whatever the doctor had given me could not control the emotions I felt. I sobbed hysterically, unable to stop the tears.

Linda just held on, like she was clinging for dear life. Someone else took my other hand. These hands were rougher, and I feared it was Hal. Instead, I heard my mother whisper in my ear, “I know you don’t believe it right now, but there are many people, right here, right now, who love you more than life itself, starting with me, and I gave you life. Please, don’t throw that life away. Relax, Honey, let us help.”

“Mommmm ...” I whimpered, pulling away. “You don’t understand. It wasn’t you that was raped! Please! Just let me die!”

I felt her lean down, and kiss me. I could feel her tears dripping on my cheek. Mom started whispering again. “Honey, you’re wrong. I was raped. I never told you, because you never needed to know. It happened when I was seventeen. I’ll tell you the story once you’re better. But, you are not alone in this.”

I was momentarily stunned. My mom is one of the strongest people I have ever known. The concept that my mother had been raped was more than I could wrap my mind around. “Oh God, NO! No, not you momma!” I broke down in gut wrenching sobs.

“Yes, Baby, ME!”

“How could you bear to live with it?” I moaned.

“The same way you will, … with the love of your family and friends. Yes, it hurts; you may even feel like you somehow caused it. But you did NOT start this. YOU are NOT to blame,” she said emphatically.

It occurred to me that I would not have been able to deal with this without the drugs. While it hurt, it was more of a dull ache, not a sharp pain. Besides which, I felt so heavy I could hardly move. Mom kissed my cheek, and let go of my hands.

Seconds later, I felt someone else grab them, and squeeze them tightly. “Please don’t hurt yourself. I love you, too,” I heard Lisa plead through tears. “I can’t imagine what it must be like, but please don’t give up? I need you, Daddy! I don’t care whether you’re my daddy, my aunt or my mom. I need you!” she cried. Like my mom, Lisa reached down and kissed my cheek, leaking tears on my shoulders. Then she let go, and someone else grabbed my hands.

I was beginning to feel they had lined up, no, ganged up on me. One after another, they battered me with their love ... brutalized me with their compassion.

I opened my eyes, to find Annie standing there, tears streaming from her face. “I’ve lost my mother twice. I couldn’t bear to lose you again. I need you, and love you. Please don’t give up, Momma.”

“I don’t understand. How could you possibly love me? I’m a freak! A … a failure.”

“No, you’re a wonderful woman. And, through weird and wonderful circumstances, you ARE my mother. You’re gonna have to admit you’re wrong. I DO love you, and so does the rest of your family here ... So get used to it!”

Annie continued holding my hand as someone else touched my shoulder. “Only you, bro.” TJ chuckled. “Only you. … Do you remember when we were really, really little? It was right after my eye surgery. You took care of me while I couldn’t see. You would play with me, tell me stories, and in general helped me to get through a bad time in my life. Do you remember?” I sort of nodded my head.

“Well, later, do you remember the morning I really wanted to thank you, and you seemed down about something. Do you remember? I asked you something, do you remember? The only thing I could think of, way back then, was to fix you something to eat. So, I think I’ll ask the question again. ‘Brother, can I fix you a pickle relish sandwich?’ I love you.” That was exactly what he’d asked me the morning my puppy had died; back when I was six years old.

“You idiot,” I croaked to him.

“Yep, that’s me, the idiot child. But you know what? I still love you.”

TJ stepped back, and I felt the touch I dreaded most. “Kate, I’m so sorry ... I failed you ... I thought you would be safe ... that you would be all right with Pat and Sheila. I love you so much,” he quietly sobbed. When he got himself under control he begged, “Can you forgive me? Honey, please forgive me?” Unbelievably, he still seemed to care.

“Oh, God! Hal, how can you even think of loving me? That animal used me ... he violated me... every time we’re together; you’re going to feel dirty... and so will I. I began to cry all over again.

“Katherine Elayne Linda Elizabeth John Albert Williams Stevens, I love you more than I can ever tell you.”

“One tiny bit of information you might like to know. Your attacker has been linked to at least two other rapes while on cruises. We will convict this bastard. He will go to jail and he will be punished.”

“I think that’s enough for now,” Dr. Bellows said.

“Kate,” Doctor Tom said my name, getting my attention. When I looked at him he continued. “I’ve given you a sedative. I’m going to give you something else, okay?”

I nodded. “It won’t knock you out, but you’ll feel a bit detached for a few more hours; maybe until dinner. If you do anything foolish, I won’t hesitate to put the restraints back on you. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

I nodded again. “Good. I’d like to get you out of here and up to your room. If you promise me you’ll co-operate, we’ll move you. I don’t want you standing yet, so just relax. You haven’t eaten in quite a while. I’d like you to try to eat something for me. Okay? Think you’re up to it?”

“I’ll try.” I was having trouble seeing. The thought of food caused my mouth to water. I still couldn’t open my eyes very well, and the tears didn’t help, but I managed to see someone injecting drugs into the hep lock of my IV. He was right, pretty soon I seemed to step outside of myself.

Dr. Tom removed the IV, and I tried to get out of bed. “Oh NO, my pretty!” he said cackling in an imitation of the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz. “I don’t think you’re going to be walking anywhere till you’re feeling better.”

“It’s just to the end of the hall,” I complained. “I can make it; you don’t have to treat me like a baby!”

“Yes, Kate, I do. You’ve been asleep for two days, and that after being beaten and raped. You need to relax and recover your strength.”

“Tom, I can walk that far,” I argued, trying to growl at him ... I suppose my voice might have scared a baby mouse. Maybe … I’m not sure.

“Kate, my dad had a saying, ‘Those that won’t listen have to feel.’ Okay, you think you’re able to walk, so show me ... go ahead, sit up on your own.” Tom was watching carefully.

I struggled to sit upright. I could only use one arm, and that threw my balance off. I made it half way, and fell back against the pillows.

“Satisfied?” I nodded. “I’m going to give you a choice. You can either ride upstairs on a gurney, or, we can help you into a wheelchair.”

“Wheelchair, please?” I felt very fragile.

With Tom on one side and Dr. Bellows on the other, they helped me sit up. From there, with help, I made into the chair. Annie pushed me out into the hallway.

I found Tim waiting there, looking weary and scared. “Hey, kiddo,” I called, and received a wet hug. It seems my sixteen-year-old son was not too old to cry. Annie rolled past the regular elevator and through the hidden panel at the end of the hall to the elevator that went straight to my room.

Mom decided, that for the time being, my rooms were for women only. No men allowed. Lisa even made a sign on the computer. Vikki came in with a tray of veggies and dip and took orders for lunch. I asked for a fried spam sandwich on wheat, and bean with bacon soup; and a big glass of cold milk.

Annie gave me a strange look before ordering a BLT for herself. Linda turned to her, “You should see the REALLY weird things she eats,” she laughed, ordering a ham and Swiss on rye bread. Lisa asked for a Cobb salad. Vikki promised lunch in 45 minutes.

Annie, Linda, and my mom helped me into the bathroom, and gave me my first bath in days. As they helped me undress, I saw my body for the first time since the attack. From my navel up, my body was a solid mass of interlocking bruises. I felt strangely compelled to examine the hurts.

Both of my eyes were swollen nearly shut. There were distinct bite marks on my breasts. Both of my lips were split, and you could still see traces of the blood which had flowed from my mouth and nose onto my breasts. Similarly, the inside of my thighs showed traces of blood, and other things. Apparently, my attacker’s semen mixed with my blood had dribbled from my anus and dried there while the doctors had worked on my attempted overdose. When I saw THAT, I tried to throw up ... I wanted to throw up ... I badly needed to throw up. There was nothing in my stomach, and I began to sob through the dry heaves. I desperately needed the support of Annie and Linda to keep from falling down.

Linda hurriedly undressed herself, and helped me into the bath. Between her and Annie, I was able to sit down in the bathtub. Linda began by washing my hair, ignoring my tears. She then soaped my body and scrubbed away gently but thoroughly with a loofa. She cleansed every inch of my poor abused body, then rinsed me carefully, while I continued to sob. I cried that I still felt dirty, and she patiently started all over again. The second time she used a peach scented body wash. I managed to quit crying as she rinsed me clean.

Linda, Annie, and my mom helped me out of the bath. Lisa was standing there with an armful of oversized towels. Annie and Mom wrapped me up in a cocoon of thick warm terrycloth while Linda quickly dried and dressed. Lisa went into the bedroom and returned with a flannel nightgown, which she helped Mom pull over my head as Linda and Annie steadied me.

Linda finished dressing, and we went back to the sitting room. Lisa helped wrap me in a terrycloth robe. My mom brushed out my hair while Linda sat and held my hands. I felt like a 400 pound Barbie doll, being dressed and groomed by the women of my family.

True to her word, Vikki arrived about the same time we finished with the bath. The smell was enough to drive me crazy. I’d not realized just how hungry I was until then. Gone was my earlier nausea; I was ravenously hungry. Vikki served my fried spam sandwich and bean with bacon soup. I was surprised at how well I was able to eat. Sure, the bites had to be small to fit in my damaged mouth, but the salty tang of the spam sandwich balanced with the sweetness of the cold milk. It was an anodyne to heal the misery in my heart. Mom knew this was one of my favorite foods. She watched me like a hawk. Every time our eyes met, she would give me an encouraging smile, and urge me to eat slowly. I managed about half the soup, and most of the sandwich, before I was too full to continue.

There was a knock at the door, and Dr. Ledbetter entered, carrying a plate of chicken salad.

“I heard this is where the party is. Can I join you?” she asked, a smile in her voice.

“What the hell do you want?” I snapped.

“Well! … I can see your meds are wearing off,” Norma replied dryly.

“Yeah, right,” I said, deliberately turning away from her. I don’t why, maybe it was the cheery voice, but Norma became the focus of my anger.

The four women chatted as we finished lunch; I sat there morosely, trying to say nothing. Vikki brought in dessert, serving each of us a large bowl. In the bottom a warm fudge brownie; the next layer, Dreyer’s Double Fudge Brownie ice cream , topped with Hot Fudge sauce and whipped cream.

“Well Mrs. Steven’s, that’s two of the three main food groups you’ve had today vital for a woman’s health, I don’t suppose the third would be a good idea,” Vikki said to me with a smile as she placed a bowl in front of me.

“How so, Vikki?” Norma asked.

“Don’t interrupt! She was talking to me, NOT you,” I slammed back at Norma.

Vikki, now obviously uncomfortable, went on, “Well, you’ve got the first group, comfort food that you didn’t prepare; the second group, chocolate; all that is missing is the third food group, a good chardonnay!”

Everyone laughed, including me. Vikki picked up the dishes as they continued chatting.

Norma turned the conversation in a serious direction. “Kate, do you think you can tell us all what happened? It’s important that you begin to work through it as soon as possible. And frankly, I’d like to get you to talk through it at least once while you’re still medicated.

“There’s not much to tell, he knocked me out, tied me to the bed, raped me, then beat the hell out of me,” I replied flippantly.

Norma smiled gently. “No, that’s not quite what I meant. Let’s start from breakfast that morning, for each of us. That way, maybe we can all participate and build a larger picture. I want a solid understanding of what was happening from both of your perspectives. And, Kate, I want you to know what was going on around you while you were unconscious. Can we do that?

“I’d rather not.” I shuddered. “Why can’t you just leave me the hell alone!?!” I could feel the emotions boiling up inside, and like a dam burst, the tears started ... again.

“Because it’s going to hurt more before it gets better. You said you wanted the pain to stop? Okay, fine! Let’s make it stop by working through it.”

“Damnit, I had it stopped!,” I screeched in reply. “I was past the pain, I was going to sleep forever. But NO, YOU, ALL of you! You just HAD to butt in. You don’t care! YOU don’t know what it was like. You are all too damned selfish to JUST LET ME GO! So, THANK you VERY MUCH, gee, how lucky of me. Now I get to go through HELL AGAIN!”

I could see the anguish my words caused. Lisa in particular looked stunned, tears streaming down her face. I knew my words hurt, but I didn’t care.

“Okay, Kate, if that’s how you want to see it. Fine, I can accept I’m selfish, and your anger, BUT, I am going to help you get better ... in spite of yourself.” Norma stated.

“Just leave me alone, bitch!” I lashed out at her.

“No, Kate. I won’t! I care too much to leave you alone. Hate me if you want, but I will do what I can to help you.”

“Whatever,” I replied, turning away from her. “Linda, can you and Annie help me to the couch?” I asked.

Linda and Annie supported me as I walked the enormous distance of ten feet from the table to the couch. It seemed like a mile, every step exquisitely painful. It was clear whatever they had given me for pain was wearing off fast. Linda and Annie settled me on the couch, and Lisa sat beside me.

“Okay, who goes first?” Norma asked the group. Predictably, no one wanted to go first. “Lisa, how about you go first?” Norma asked, as she turned on a recorder to capture the session. “If no one minds, a recording now might help Kate with her deposition.

“Me?” Lisa squeaked. “I thought it was only for my Moms.”

“No,” Norma laughed, “I meant for all of us to take a turn.”

“Let’s see; in the morning, I was working with Annie on the Midwinter’s Night party. I was going over the invitations and Annie was helping with the wording. We settled on 12 of my friends from home, and Annie was making calls to the local Chatelaine trying to line up suitable escorts. After lunch, I started calling friends about the party, and lost track of the time. I was helping them to make appointments with Gowns R Us for fittings for the party gowns. We had decided on 14th century Italian court dresses for the party; and Annie had arranged for individual gowns for all my friends. I was having so much fun, that I almost forgot to take Velvet out for a ride. Anyway, I took her an apple, and rode until just before dinner. In fact, I was late for dinner, because Jose ...”

“Who is Jose?” Linda interrupted.

“Jose’s the horse trainer,” she explained. “Anyway, Jose made sure I put the tack away correctly and brushed Velvet down properly. So I was late, and Vikki was mad at me. After dinner, Uncle Hal, Tim, and I played Monopoly until about 9:30. Then I went to my room, got ready for bed, did my devotions, and was IMing my friends when Annie knocked and asked for Grandma’s phone number. Then I went to bed.

“I was surprised to find Grandma and Uncle TJ here in the morning. When they told me you’d been attacked, I thought I was going to die.” Lisa turned to me, too broken up to speak, and cried in my arms.

I patted her back as she looked up at me, “The happiest moment in my life was when Uncle Hal called and told me you were going to live.” Annie reached over and handed her a tissue.

“I spent the day wandering around. I couldn’t focus on anything. I tried playing X-box with Tim, but I was so upset that I couldn’t even play that. When Annie came in and told me you were home, I ran downstairs. I saw you there, beaten, with tubes and things, and I couldn’t stand the sight and ran from the room. I couldn’t eat dinner. I went to my room, prayed for you and wound up crying myself to sleep after Mom checked in on me.”

“This morning, when Grandma told me that you had been raped, I thought I’d throw up. It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. I guess I finally realized just how much of a woman you are, and how much I love you anyway.” Lisa ended her tale, holding me so tightly I had to remind her not to hurt me.

“Annie? You want to go next?” suggested Norma.

“Well, after working with Lisa in the morning, I did paperwork in the afternoon. The sales in the Las Vegas store have been skyrocketing, and I discussed expansion plans with my manager and her assistant.

“I had a date in the evening, so I wrapped things up early. Ed Stanton took me out to the King’s Grant Inn, in Danvers. Ed’s an old friend from College. Somehow he heard I was in town, and asked me to dinner. We spent a quiet evening catching up with the turns our lives have taken since then. I was home at 9:30, and was quietly reading in bed, until about 11:00, Hal knocked on my door, and everything went to hell in a hurry.”

“Hal wanted me to stay and take care of the kids. I was sick to my stomach, and couldn’t bear the thought of staying here while Hal went to get Mom. So, I got Dorothy’s phone number from Lisa, called, and arranged for her to fly out.”

“Hal had left for the airport, thinking I was staying behind. I drove the beamer as fast as I could to the airport, and thank God, I made it! Hal had this half-assed idea that I would stay at the estate. All I knew is my mom needed me. I’ll tell you, Hal backed down awfully fast when I threatened to kick his butt. We detoured to Jamaica to pick up an FBI agent and the legal attaché, and were in the Cayman’s by 8:15, wher we were met by the Chief of Police and an Immigration officer. I couldn’t stand the drive, it took us at least twenty minutes to travel 5 miles.”

“When Hal and I got to the Medical Center, Linda practically flew into Hal’s arms, crying how it was all her fault. It was all Hal could do to get her to calm down.” Linda looked directly at me with tears streaming down her face. “I looked down at you and it nearly broke my heart. Then I noticed your necklace and wedding bands were gone, I know you wouldn’t have taken them off, so that bastard is a thief, as well as a rapist.”

“We transported you by ambulance to the plane, then after taking off, Linda and I snuggled together and slept until arriving at Beverly airport. Linda and I drove home, following the ambulance.”

“When we got home, I went to find the kids, and Linda went down to be with you. All the way home, she kept praying you would be okay. I found your mom and kids upstairs, and took them down to see you. Afterwards, your mom, Linda, Lisa and I went upstairs where we chatted. Mostly, your mom and I tried to comfort Linda, and figure out how to make you understand how much we love you. Finally, after some dinner we all went to bed. Linda and I snuggled in the king size bed, where we cried ourselves to sleep worrying about you.”

Lisa went to the bathroom to get another box of tissue. There were no dry eyes. “Kate, do you think you can go next?” Norma asked.

“No, I don’t. But you’re not going to let me alone, are you?”

“Nope, sorry Kate.”

“Damn, I’d rather be dead,” I sighed and began. My voice a monotone, my anger at Norma was obvious. “Well, I hope you choke on it you sadistic bitch,” I told her before I began.

“Linda and I woke up that morning and had breakfast on the balcony,” I said, my voice devoid of life and any emotion other than anger. “The room was beautiful, the sun warm, the ocean calm and restful, and the food fantastic. We talked about what we would do that day; I decided to learn how to dance. You see, they were offering ballroom dance classes in the aerobics center.”

“So …” I closed my eyes, took a deep quivering breath and began to relive my personal hell. “I signed up for the morning and afternoon sessions. It was far harder work than I expected. The only thing that kept me going in the afternoon was the ‘friendly …’ “I physically gagged on the word, “… presence of John in the afternoon session. Well, it was ‘formal’ night that night, ya know? I was really looking forward to it.”

I pulled my robe tightly, pulling in and away from Linda and everyone else. I bowed my head, and continued in a whisper. “I’d made reservations for Linda and me at the salon for makeovers. I really wanted to look special for our portrait. They did our hair and makeup, and Linda and I got dressed for the evening.”

As I drew a few deep breaths, Linda reached over and touched my shoulder. I flinched. “Please, don’t touch me,” I gasped. “I’ll never be able to finish if you touch me. I’m sorry, Lin. Just let me finish.” I could feel my heart pounding, and my breaths came in rapid pants.

“I felt absolutely wonderful. Linda and I were as elegant and classy as any women there. If I’d gone as John ... Oh, God, Honey …” I stifled a sob. “… nothing about the night would have interested me. As Kate ... I still can’t believe it, it was wonderful, and I felt beautiful ... sexy ... so special. It was magical ... I was Cinderella on her way to the ball ... I was with the woman I loved, and I felt magnificent.”
I finally broke down sobbing. For minutes, precious in their poignancy, I sat there, tears flowing freely mourning my loss of the magic. It was Lisa, timidly reaching out and handing me another tissue that finally gave me the presence of mind to go on. “The night was so full of promise. It was like a fairy tale. We had our portrait taken, and then went into dinner. It was fabulous. The men were all so handsome; the ladies were all so gorgeous. Linda and I were among the prettiest there.” I looked from face to face, “I even forgot just how fat I truly am.”

“After one of the best meals I’d ever had ...” I gave a strangled laugh. “God, it’s almost like the condemned’s last supper, now that I think about it. … Well, Linda and I went into the ballroom. Hey, I killed myself all day with those lessons, ya know? I just ...I just wanted to see if I could dance, just a little bit.”

I sobbed again. It took a bit for me to get back under control. “I’d always wanted to take you dancing, Lin, and I never could ...I didn’t know how. Now that I did ... anyway, John and his roommate, Rob, joined us. But after several dances my feet were really starting to scream at me. I’d been dancing all day, and I guess I was paying the price.”

I looked Linda in the eye and said as calmly as I could, “Heels really suck for dancing.” Everyone in the room let out a nervous tittering laugh. It really wasn’t that funny, now that I look at it. I resumed my tale while looking at Linda, somehow gleaning the strength I needed to finish what I had to say. “So, I told you that I was going back to our room to change my shoes. John offered to escort me. All I could think about was how much I loved you.

As John walked me to our stateroom, we chatted about dinner, the ship, just ...it was all just inconsequential, nothing things about our day. I had no idea he was planning anything. As I walked into the room, I saw a flash of light ... and everything went black.”

I had to stop. I’d started crying so hard I began to gag, then to hiccup. Lisa brought me a glass of water, and after I managed to take a sip, Norma urged me to continue.

“When I finally woke up, there was something in my mouth, gagging me. I tried to spit it out, but I couldn’t. My head hurt like hell and I couldn’t see clearly. I tried to move my hand to rub my eyes and realized I was tied up. That’s when I began to panic. As I blinked my eyes to clear them, I noticed John standing there, by the bed, stroking his ... his ... his penis. Then he started saying these ugly, vile, cruel things.

He said he was glad I liked it rough; I frantically shook my head no. He accused me of leading him on, of wanting sex ‘from a real man,’ as he put it. I tried to get away, but I couldn’t even squirm around. I couldn’t move at all. He accused me to taking the dancing class only to get close to him. He said I’d been the perfect slut, and that I kept rubbing my body against him. I cried and shook my head frantically. All the while he just grinned.

“Then he ...oh, God ...he got on the bed and ...and ...and he tried to jam his thing in me. And when he couldn’t, he tried to shove his hand into me. Then he went nuts and started calling me a freak. Said he knew I was horny for him, and wanted to feel him up my ass. He rammed himself inside me. I don’t know how long it lasted, but it seemed like forever. Each time he shoved into me I could feel myself tearing open more and more. Then he leaned down and bit my breasts. No matter how hard or loud I tried to scream, it only came out as a moan, because of the gag.

I guess he took this as a sign I was enjoying it. I swear, it just seemed to turn him on more and more. Finally, he seemed to tense up. I swear it felt like he got even bigger. He slammed against my thighs, I felt added moisture between my legs and I knew he had climaxed.”

“After he finally came, I didn’t think it could get worse, but it did. The fact that he climaxed seemed to enrage him. He started to beat me. His first punch was to my chest. I felt my collarbone break. I’d almost swear I heard it snap. Then he wiped himself off on my belly and started hitting me everywhere. After he hit me in the nose I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t breathe, blood was everywhere. As I lay gagging and choking, he threatened to kill Linda and me if I ever said a word about him.

“I think his words were worse than anything he did to me. I can’t repeat half of what he said, it was so horrible. I guess he hit me in the head one time too many, because I finally passed out.

“I woke up in darkness and prayed I would die. I spiraled down into a depression so black I couldn’t see a bottom. His words haunted my every thought. He’s right. I am a freak. And, if he’s right about that, he must be right about everything else. If he’s right about me being a freak, then the rest of what he said has to be true. It WAS all my fault. I needed to end the pain; but I was tied up, and couldn’t do anything.”

“Eventually, Linda came in and untied me. She helped me into the bathroom. She took one good look at me, and ran away in disgust.”

“Oh, Honey, no! I was going for help,” Linda interrupted.

I looked Linda directly in the eye. “All I saw was you running away from a disgusting filthy freak. It was just as John had said, even you rejected me.”

“Never! I love you, don’t you EVER doubt that. I couldn’t have been gone for 10 minutes,” Linda explained.

“I didn’t know that then. How could I know? I was, alone, without you ... I hurt worse than I had ever hurt in my life. I hurt in body AND soul. It was all my fault ... I decided to end the pain. I couldn’t live without you ... and I had lost you ... It was as John had said ... you walked out on me. So, I stumbled into the living room, found my Vicodin and a bottle of vodka. I knew people died in hot tubs from drinking and then being overcome with the heat. I locked the bathroom door, swallowed the pills, drank the vodka, and lay back in a tub of warm water. I turned the heat up, praying for a gentle death. It would be the end of my pain ... and you wouldn’t have to be with me.”

I finally turned towards Linda, and sobbed. Linda held me. Lisa and Annie joined us, as did Mom. From each of them, I could feel a love that made a lie of John’s words. Love poured from them over my tortured soul, soothing and healing my own self doubts.

“I think that’s enough for a while,” Norma said, sniffing back her own tears. “I’m sure Saul will be talking you through this for months. I can tell you, that your feelings are exactly what perverts like John hope for; pain! Pain and shame so great that the victim never comes forward.”

Linda suggested a nap, and I was grateful to snuggle up to her.

It seemed like I had just closed my eyes, when Linda was gently shaking me. “Hey, want to come down to dinner?” she asked.

“No, I just want to go back to sleep.”

Linda laughed, “Okay. Let me put it another way, It’s time to come down to dinner!” With that. She unceremoniously pulled the covers off.

“Do I have to dress?” I moaned.

“Nope, just slip your robe back on, and some slippers.”

Linda helped me with the robe and brushed out my hair. She called for Annie and the two helped support me as we rode downstairs in the elevator.

Vikki had set up tables in the atrium. Linda and I joined the rest of the family. Hal came up to me and hesitantly took me into his arms.

“Thank you, Hon,” I said. “They’ve been telling me you moved heaven and earth to get me home.” I tilted my head up and kissed him. He held me close, and I enjoyed the sense of well being and contentment that comes from the presence of someone you know will protect you.

“I’m just glad to get you back in one piece, more or less,” he said.

“Probably more of the less than of the more,” I replied.

Hal helped me to the table, “I thought we’d eat in here and let the rest of our guests use the dining room. I expect you don’t need a lot of company.”

“Thanks, I’m not sure I want to see anyone right now,” I answered.

“Uh, well, I couldn’t get out of one visitor. Jane insisted on stopping by after dinner. She’s been very moved by your attack.”

I accepted the inevitable, and turned to what Vikki had prepared for dinner. Fried chicken, coleslaw, beans; it was clear she had been talking to Mom. I should have felt guilty about being catered to, but at the moment, I simply treasured the little pleasures.

Mom had made desert. Bread pudding, made just the way I liked it. I looked around the table and asked myself how could I ever have doubted the love of my family? Sitting there, with my original family, plus Hal and Annie, I felt incredibly blessed. I covered my face and began to cry.

Linda asked what was wrong, and I told her. She just wrapped me in her arms, and let me weep.

Hal spoke up, “I suggested to TJ that he bring Jean out for the party this weekend. I know you’re not feeling well, but it’s really too late to cancel. You can join us or not, as you choose.”

I sighed at the thought of the party. Hal was right, too many preparations had been made, and, even if we tried to cancel, there would be many invitees who would not get the word. “Can I just see how I’m doing tomorrow?”

“Of course, Hon,” he replied.

Andy came out into the atrium. “Kate, Governor Wells is here. Do you want her to come out here, or would you like to see her? She could meet with you anywhere you like.”

“Of course, Andy. Bring her on out.”

Jane came into the atrium, took one look at me and cried, “God, Kate, you look like hell!”

“Gee, thanks,” I replied, rising from my seat. Jane came up to me and embraced me like an old friend.

“I have been frantic with worry since I heard about what happened. I hope you don’t mind my barging in.”

“Actually I’m touched. Outside of family and employees; you are the only female acquaintance I have.”

“Acquaintance? I thought we were friends.”

“Well, I’d hoped so too, but didn’t want to presume,” I told her.

She smiled, “That’s better.”

“Jane, let me introduce you to some people dear to me. Of course you know Annie and Hal, but this is my mother, Dorothy Williams, my brother TJ; this is my daughter Lisa, and my son Tim.” Turning to my assembled family, “Guys, this is my friend, (I emphasized just a bit to tease her), Jane Wells, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

My mom and TJ were flustered as Jane stepped forward to shake their hands. Mom about lost it when Jane gave her a hug, “You must be very proud of her, she’s simply marvelous! Did she tell you she’s going to help me with the Girl Scouts?”

I giggled at their reaction. “And before you guys ask, Jane knows all about my sordid past.”

Jane laughed. After chatting for a while, she said her goodbyes. “I don’t want to keep you up; I know the doctor wants you to get plenty of rest, but I simply had to see you to make sure you were okay.” Jane and I hugged.

After she left, I told my family that I really was tired, and wanted to go back upstairs.

Mom and Linda helped me upstairs. Soon, after Annie and Lisa joined us, Annie asked, “Do you feel up to a movie?”

I asked what she had in mind, and she pulled out the DVD for ’Kate and Leopold.’ “How about a Meg Ryan flick?”

I hadn’t seen it, so we all piled on my bed, and watched it.

Shortly after the movie ended, Tom knocked at the door, and entered. “I want you to get to bed soon, I’ve brought an Ambien, and I need to see you take it before I leave.”

“Keeping me on a short leash, Tom?”

“Yes. If anything happens to you I’ll never forgive myself.” He handed me the med with a glass of water. I took it, and Tom said good night.

“I had better brush my teeth and get to bed. Ambien works awfully fast.” Annie, Lisa and Mom all gave me a hug, and left. Linda helped me in the bathroom, applying more of the anesthetic gel to my anus.

As Linda and I climbed into bed, there was a gentle tapping at the door, and Hal stepped into the room. He came over and sat on the edge of the bed by me. “I just wanted to say good night, and that I love you.” He leaned over and gave me a kiss. After he left the room, and I slipped into a dreamless sleep.

----------------

Cruise Ship Golden Princess, Cozumel, Mexico, Thursday, December 20, 2001

Pat and Sheila discreetly tailed John Maxwell and his roommate, Rob Lewis from the cruise ship and joined the tour they had selected. It was an enjoyable tour of the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. Fortunately, the tour lasted virtually the entire time the ship was docked. The suspects never had a chance to fence the stolen jewelry, if that were their intention.

Kate and Linda’s cabin had been extensively photographed. The bedding had been collected for analysis. Each of the blood/bodily fluid stains had been documented, samples collected and clearly labeled, under the watchful supervision of FBI Special Agent Mark Chapman.

Kate’s ripped clothing, and the nylons used to tie her to the bed were bagged as evidence. The hard surfaces of the room’s furniture were dusted for fingerprints. Luminol was used to validate and visualize blood stains on the carpet.

Kate and Linda’s remaining clothing was neatly packed, and readied for transport. Pat took charge of Kate’s SIG and the contents of the room safe — opened with the help of Sarah Matthews. Only after all that was the room turned over to the cruise personnel for cleaning.

----------------

Friday, December 21, 2001

Sometime after midnight, Linda woke to the sound of a terrible scream. Kate was sitting straight up in bed, her eyes straining to open further than the swelling would allow. Linda could hear her gasp for breath, and reached out touch her. At her touch, Kate collapsed back against the bed, her body wracked by sobs. Linda rolled over and cradled her.

There was a tap at the door, and Hal stuck his head in the door, “Is everything all right?” he asked, stepping into the room.

“I don’t know, she just woke up screaming,” Linda replied.

“Oh, God, it was horrible,” Kate gasped. “I dreamed I was back on the ship, and he came back and raped me all over again.”

“Oh Sweetheart, shush. It’s okay,” Linda tried to calm her.

“No it’s NOT! It will NEVER be okay ever again!” Kate wailed.

“Kate, do you want me to get the doctor?” Hal asked, his voice trembling.

“No! He’ll just think I’m crazier than I am. Could you stay here tonight? Please?”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to make things worse.”

“No, please Hal? Just check that all the doors are locked, turn down the lights and come to bed, please,” Kate pleaded. Turning to Linda, Kate asked, “Honey, it’s okay with you, isn’t it?”

“If that’s what you want, it’s certainly fine with me.”

Hal locked the door to the hall, and checked that the balcony door was closed and locked. The lights were turned down and he climbed in bed next to Kate, who snuggled up to Hal and pulled Linda close to snuggle on her other side. Gradually, her sobs became whimpers, eventually trailing off to occasional shivers. Hal reached across to Linda, and the two traded a look of love and concern, AND they held Kate, shielding her from the world with their love.

-------------------------

I woke to the sounds of snoring. Hal had rolled over sometime in the night, his arm over my body and his right hand cupping a breast. I began to giggle, as I realized I was doing the same to Linda. I quickly quieted when I felt her begin to stir, and went back to sleep, the protective love of my husband and my wife surrounding me.

-------------------------

When next I woke up, it was to sounds of Hal getting ready for the day. Linda was awake, reading a book in bed. She smiled at me, and everything was at peace in the world.

“Feeling better this morning?” she asked.

“Somewhat It still hurts, but I don’t feel quite so woozy. I’m sorry I was such a baby last night. It’s just the nightmares were so horrible.”

“Well, that’s what Hal and I are here for. Hon, we are both serious about making things better. How do you feel about Hal this morning?”

“Don’t take this wrong, because I most certainly prefer sleeping with you, but, he made me feel protected. I’m sorry I’m so fragile.”

“Oh, hush! You’ve had a perfectly horrible experience, and you have every right to feel fragile. Do you feel like getting dressed today? No one would say anything if you want to stay in your jammies, but you do have visitors scheduled to visit today.”

“Who’s coming over?” I asked.

“The US Attorney and an FBI agent will be stopping by to take your deposition, and Dr. Bellows indicated he would be by today.”

“Crap! I suppose it’s necessary to do the deposition today?” I asked, hoping for a way out of it.

“Let me put it this way, do you want to see John in jail? If you don’t give a deposition, the US Magistrate in Florida won’t issue a warrant for his arrest.”

“Okay,” I sighed, “I guess I don’t have any choice.”

“So .... Are you going to get dressed or not?”

“Yeah, I guess I will. Something soft, though. … Maybe a light sweater with a jumper? You know the look, New England Preppy Holiday wear?”

“Cool, white tights, red sweater and green plaid jumper, I can just see you now!”

“You’re enjoying this too much,” I whimpered.

“Come on, time for a shower.” Linda pulled me out of bed and into the bathroom, where Hal was just finishing up.

“Good morning, Sweetheart,” he said, kissing me lightly on the lips. “Good morning, Sweetheart,” he repeated, kissing Linda lightly on the cheek.

“You’re incorrigible,” I laughed at him.

“If it makes you laugh, I’ll be incorrigible all the time,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye.

Linda surprised me by peeling off my nightgown, and her own, in front of Hal. When I blushed, Linda and Hal laughed.

After taking off the figure of eight bandage, we stepped into the shower, and I let Linda wash and take care of me. “You know, I feel really guilty,” I said.

“Hmm, why?”

“You’re taking such good care of me, and I’m not doing anything in return.”

“Hush! You’ve been hurt. This is the least I can do.”

We finished and dried, with Linda still pampering me. She brushed and dried my hair, before putting a fresh bandage around my shoulders. Freshly bathed and powdered, I managed to get myself dressed with Linda’s help. True to her word, Linda had picked out a disgustingly preppy Christmas outfit, just like she had described in bed, adding only a pair of shorty boots, and little Christmas tree ornament earrings.

As I looked at my reflection, she laughed, asking when Santa was going to visit, and, had I been a good girl this year? I smiled, and sat on the bed while she dressed, and then really laughed at her outfit. She dressed identically to me, except her sweater was green and her jumper was red.

Linda helped me downstairs, and into the breakfast nook, where Vikki was waiting with what had become my usual breakfast of oatmeal, bacon, fruit and toast.

“What would you do if I asked for something else?” I asked her.

“Why, make it of course, but then, you would tell me the night before, wouldn’t you?” She smiled at neatly turning the tables on me.

“Of course I would. Do you know where the kids and my mom are?”

“They’ve gone to the airport to pick up your sister in law.”

Linda and I finished breakfast and were sitting in the atrium when Erik Moore came in to talk with me. “Good morning, Kate. can we go somewhere private?”

Linda, Erik and I went into my office, and closed the door. “Kate, you know about the deposition?” I nodded. “They will be here shortly. There is one complication. Who are you going to be deposed as? Legally, the case will be tighter if you are deposed as John. That way there’s no room for this bastard getting off on a technicality. The downside, is the possible negative publicity. We can request the hearings be closed to the public, but there is a chance you will be publicly exposed.”

“I’ll chance it. There is no way this bastard is going to get off on a technicality.”

“Thank you, Kate; that will make our job easier.”

Erik, Linda and I chatted for a few more minutes until Jeeves knocked on the door, and informed us the US Attorney, and the FBI had arrived. I asked him to show them in, and have Vikki prepare a coffee and tea service.

Moments later, a man and two women were shown into the office. Erik made the introductions. The US Attorney was a woman named Marcy Favors, the FBI agent Rick Tatro, and the other woman was a court reporter, Claire Samms.

After Vikki brought in coffee and tea, we got down to business. Claire set up her equipment, Marcy and Erik setup tape recorders and we began.

“Ms. Stevens, I know how painful this will be, but we need your testimony to take to the US Magistrate in Miami.”

“I understand, and I’m as ready as I’m going to be.”

“Raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear or affirm that what you are about to say is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” Marcy asked.

“I do.” I replied.

“Do you understand that everything being said here is being recorded and can be used in evidence? Additionally, any false statements can be subject to perjury and contempt of court charges?

“I do.” I repeated.

“State your name for the record.”

“Katherine Elayne Stevens, but I was born John Albert Williams.”

“What?” Marcy asked, clearly shocked.

“I was born John Albert Williams. I am a medically diagnosed transgendered individual. Several months ago, Hal Stevens met me, and noted my uncanny similarity to his dead wife, Katherine Elayne Stevens. Hal asked that I take her place within Cendar Corporation and in his life. My wife, Linda and I discussed it, and for the past few months I have lived as Kate. The proper name change paperwork is on file in the Superior Court in California, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, with the Federal Court in Boston and with the SEC in Washington DC. I now live as Katherine Elayne Stevens. On advice of counsel, I do not want there to be any confusion as to my identity or gender. This statement is intended to settle that issue before it ever arises.”

“I see,” she replied, clearly not seeing at all.

We then went through the events of my rape. There were times when Marcy or I asked for a break as I recounted the brutality. When we finished, she thanked me, assured me of the confidentiality of the interview, and the Feds left.

“Well, that went well,” Erik said, pleased with the way the interview had gone.

I blew my nose, wiped my eyes, as I nodded agreement.

Mom, TJ and the kids returned from the airport with Jean. They must have briefed her, yet when they arrived she took one look at me and said, “Oh … my … God! Kate, you must hurt like hell!” She rushed to give me a hug and whispered in my ear, “You look amazingly like a woman.”

“Thanks,” I whispered back. “So do you.”

Jean stepped back, a shocked look on her face, then began laughing. “Touché my dear. I guess I deserved that!”

I smiled at her as she went on, “It’s just that other people have always known you were a woman. For me, it took a bit longer.” She stopped again, looking around. “Wow, this is an amazing place, Kate.”

“Just wait till you see it all later. I’m sorry; I’m not in much condition to play tour guide at the moment.”

“I can see that!” she said.

TJ and mom showed her upstairs.

Linda and I sat watching the preparations for the night’s party. The front hall was decorated with wreaths and holly. Just inside the atrium a huge Christmas tree had been setup. I loved the ornaments. They were from all over the world, some new, some old, and some that had to be antiques. There was no “theme” to the ornaments. They reflected a family’s history. I was touched by eight of the ornaments. They were labeled Becky, and Tracy, with the year of the Christmas my twin’s babies had lived.

Linda noted my tears, and I had to tell her all about the twins. We walked into the gallery, and I showed her the portrait. She did a double take. “You know, it looks like a portrait of you with two Lisas and another woman.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s why I started calling Kate my twin.”

We walked back into the front hall, kibitzing, as Hermione and her crew finished with the decorations.

I took the elevator upstairs, intending to rest a while. As I passed the game room, I thought I’d try to find a movie to watch. As I reached for the door, it flew open, mashing both boobs, and hitting my collarbone. With a scream, I fell to the floor.

Tim and Lisa had apparently been playing some kind of tag game. Tim had just scored on Lisa and was running from the room. Unfortunately for me, I happened along at precisely the wrong time.

As I lay on the floor, the game came to an abrupt halt. I was crying, trying to protect my breasts, lying in a fetal position. Tim knelt down beside me, “I’msosorrypleasedon’tdie, I’msosorrypleasedon’tdie, I’msosorrypleasedon’tdie,” he repeated, a mantra as fervent as any prayer, tears streaming down his face.

I looked up at him, his face a study in agony, reached out to him and pulled him into a hug. He sobbed as he held me tight. He was hurting me, but at that moment, I didn’t care. I could see Tim was hurting as much or more than I was. I HAD to take care of my baby.

That’s how Linda and my mom found us a few minutes later, drawn by my screams. Tim and I in a tight embrace, rocking back and forth. Linda and my mom managed to help me to my feet, and Tim and I went to his room. I sat with Tim on his bed, still locked in a hug. The sobs were starting to slow down, and I waved Linda and my Mom out of the room.

We sat that way for an interminable amount of time. Tim finally stopped crying, and I asked what had started it.

Tim told me of the conversation he had with my mom and my brother. He admitted he’d asked grandma if I was becoming a faggot, and told me that TJ had said he might kill me if he said the wrong thing. He told me he was scared, and finally, he told me he loved me.

“So,” I said, “you want to know if I’m a faggot?” I barked a short ugly little laugh.

Tim flinched at the sound. “Son, I just don’t know. I don’t know what I am anymore. I sure as hell DON’T like whatever it is, and would change it if I could.”

He looked at me, “Huh? I thought you wanted this.”

“Timmy, how could I possible want this? Getting raped is no fun, getting beaten is no fun. Having your son ask if you’re a faggot, now THAT is REALLY no fun.”

Tim flinched, but pushed on, “But Uncle TJ and grandma said you’ve always wanted to be a girl, and that means you’re not a faggot!”

“Not quite, Tim. I would have been willing to be either a guy or a girl, just not a ‘tween.’ I tried to be a guy, but I never, ever, not even once, felt like one. Living that lie hurt, but you know what hurts the most?”

“What?”

“Being different! Do you know what it’s like to be different? Of course you don’t. Everything in your life has been so ‘normal.’ You’re popular in school, have a nice girlfriend, your grades are decent, you have lots of friends. Oh my gosh, how I envy you that. When I was your age, I had none of those.”

“I’ve tried so damned hard all of my life to be something I’m not. IF your mom and Hal hadn’t come up with this insane idea, we’d never be having this conversation. You would probably never know about me being a woman.”

I had to move, the pain was becoming unbearable, so I moved to his desk chair. It swiveled and rocked, which suited me. Unconsciously, I found myself rocking back and forth as I continued. “But, they did. You can’t blame your mom, and please don’t blame Hal,” I pleaded. “I could have said no. But son, I couldn’t. They were offering me a chance to stop living a lie. It seemed like an answer to the prayers I’ve prayed since I was five or six.

I shifted in the chair looking for a more comfortable position. “I’ve always been different, but you’ve known that, haven’t you?”

“I guess,” Tim wouldn’t look me in the eye.

“I’ve always, well, at least since I was five or six, known I was different. I tried to be like everyone else, but knew I wasn’t. I always felt somehow in between being a boy and a girl. My body said boy, my heart, soul, and mind screamed GIRL!

“I hid it. I hid it from your grandma and grandpa. I hid it from your uncles. I hid it from everyone. Son, it was so DAMNED lonely; always doing “guy” things so no one would think I was queer or different.

“When I was twelve, other boys were mowing lawns and delivering newspapers for money. I was babysitting; little children, even babies. I enjoyed it so much. The only way I got away with it was your grandma set it up. I’d look into their little faces and melt when they smiled or laughed for me. Your grandma said it was because I was a nurturing person.”

“How would YOU feel if you always had to pretend to be someone else? Maybe your sister. … Remember, you could NEVER, NOT EVEN ONCE, slip. I grew up scared all the time. Just ONE slip could result in humiliation or a beating, or maybe something worse.

“Son, I fought it. I did every lousy macho thing I could think of. Went hunting and fishing, hated it. Played football, hated it. Played other sports, hated it. Hung with guys and worked on cars … Damn! I REALLY hated that.”

“I went to the doctors when I was in college. I hoped they might be able to make me normal. They couldn’t help me. All they would do is tell me that mentally I was a woman. It scared me. It still scares me.”

“Except for the doctors, your mom was the first person I ever really shared this with. Thank God for your mom.” I began to weep, “Do you know what she said?”

Tim shook his head.

“She said she thought she was the luckiest woman in the world. I couldn’t believe it. She said that at least she had a husband who was sharing and sensitive. Did you know that your mom and I used to go out as two women some of the time? Places like Disneyland, a trip to Lake Tahoe. No one EVER guessed. Those were some of the happiest times in my life, and I think your mom would say the same thing.”

“Then this came along. Hal offered me a LOT of money to be Kate for the week of Comdex. I thought ’What the hell?’ It seemed like a harmless way to make enough money to pay off a lot of bills. It was fine during the day. I think I did a good job for Cendar, and everyone was so supportive. The only problem, was Hal. He kept throwing surprises at me. Do you know what he spent on my wedding rings even though I would only need them for a few days? I checked on-line, the diamond alone was over $150,000.00. Then he tells me that the rings are mine.

“It got to be evening, and I found out that I would be guest of honor at a banquet. So there I was, “Kate” to a room full of people, and someone made a toast to me, well, Kate, I suppose. You know about toasts?”

“That’s where someone says something nice about you and everyone drinks?” he said.

“Close enough. Well, if I remember correctly, it was Andy Jeeves, and he made a toast on my, that is, Kate’s, return. I was so embarrassed I could have died right there. Then someone began tapping on their glass with a spoon, and soon everyone was doing it. Do you know what that means?”

“Not really,” he replied. I think he knew but was avoiding it.

I sighed. “Usually it only happens at a wedding. It means the people want to see the bride and groom kiss. That night in Las Vegas, they wanted to see Hal kiss Kate.”

Tim’s eyes went wide, “You didn’t, did you?”.

“Well, they just kept on tapping their glasses. I looked at Hal, and he looked at me. If we didn’t kiss, they would just keep on banging on those damned glasses. Hal leaned down and I remember thinking how weird it was. The kiss itself was all together different than I was expecting. It was just the gentlest of kisses, hardly more romantic than kissing your grandmother.
“But I was on the receiving end, and to my surprise, I enjoyed it.” I was blushing by this time, and Tim was having a hard time suppressing a giggle fit at my discomfort. “Yeah … YOU go ahead and laugh, but I got trapped into doing it, and to my amazement, enjoyed it.

“Son, it felt so right. Hal made me feel protected and loved. It was making me crazy. I really seemed to be losing control. Then he changed my room reservation to a suite in a gorgeous hotel — without telling me. I blew up at him for that one. I went from feeling loved, to feeling like I was being manipulated in just a few minute’s time. So I yelled at him. Hal gave me this little puppy dog look, and I about melted when he started crying. He really loved Kate, and couldn’t keep me and Kate separated in his mind. The next morning, he did it again. He gave me documents to prove I was Kate, more jewelry, and again I felt I had lost any control I might have had.”

I turned bright red as I continued. “That was at breakfast, and NO we didn’t spend the night together. But, after breakfast, he kissed me.”

I could see Tim was squirming, really embarrassed by this, “It was wonderful. For the very first time in my life I was kissed like I had only dreamed of before. My arms wrapped around his neck, seemingly on their own. He pulled me close, and Oh My Gosh, he made me feel so VERY special and loved. I knew I was in trouble. I knew that,”

“Enough! I get it!” Tim interrupted, sputtering and rolling his eyes in disgust.

I began giggling in embarrassment, and Tim began to chuckle. I realized I was giving maybe TOO MUCH information to my sixteen year old son. Lisa would have understood and enjoyed my memories of the kiss; Tim was too obviously a teen age boy to enjoy something so romantic. The humor of the moment had a cleansing, healing effect.

“Anyway,” I continued, “I was so confused by the way things were going I HAD to get your mom to Las Vegas. Trouble is, once she got there, things went even further sideways. I totally lost control. By the end of the week, I’d made more money than I could imagine, all tax free. Hal met your mom, and liked what he saw. He offered her a job that paid more than the two of us were earning, promised to pay for your education and Lisa’s, and promised me a job paying more in a year than I would have made in 10 years at the University.

“But … I would have to live full time as Kate, and at least publicly, be Hal’s wife. I let your mom and Hal talk me into it.”

“Well, that may not be totally true. It excited me. It seemed to be a God given opportunity. Still, I was scared from the first day that things were going out of control. That’s how I wound up as Kate, living full time as the woman the doctors had always told me I was. And I could finally buy you and Lisa all the things I’d always wanted to buy you. The plan was I would live as your dad half the time in California, and half the time I would be Kate.”

“I could finally be who God intended I be. I knew I was a lousy dad, and I knew I was a failure as a man. Suddenly, I could be good at my life.”

“Hey, that’s not true!” Tim interrupted. “You have to know, you just gotta know! As much as you thought you weren’t doing it well, I want you to know you did great. You were a GREAT Dad. You weren’t a failure, or bogus, or any of that. You were my Dad, and way better than my friends’ dads! I mean … we’re together as a family. You’d always listen before blowing up or punishing me. I think you just used the word, you are CARING. I love you!

“Tim, I’m so sorry. I tried, I tried so hard. And I failed. Does that make me a faggot? I don’t know. If I am, how? Am I gay for loving your mother? Or am I gay for loving Hal? And Tim, you have to know both your mom and I have come to love Hal. It’s totally out of my control. I don’t think your mom, me, or even Hal has a clue where it will lead.”

“Did you really try to kill yourself?”

“Yeah Tim, I did. I thought it would be better for everyone if I just died and went away.”

I could see Tim struggling with tears. “It’s okay to cry, Son.” I reached out to touch his cheek. At my touch his tears started, and I handed him a tissue. “I hurt so damned bad, and I had to make the pain stop. I thought you, Lisa and your mom would be better off without the freak I’ve become. I still don’t know if I can go on living. BUT, I’m going to try. I just can’t hurt you, your mom, or Lisa like that.

“Sometimes life is a series of sacrifices. Sometimes it means putting others ahead of yourself. I’m not going to kill myself, so don’t worry too much about that. I just hope you can accept me for who I am.”

Tim hung his head, then looked at me sadly. “I don’t know if I can. It’s gonna take some time, but I’ll try. I’ve got to figure out how I’m gonna live with two moms.”

“That’s all I ask. Hey, can you help me to my room? I need to lay down for a bit. Seems someone bashed the bejeebers outa me, and I need a little rest.”

Tim helped me to my room, where I kicked off my booties and lay on top of the bed. It seemed neither of us wanted this time to end.

Tim sat on the side of the bed next to me. “Do you remember when you were little?” I asked. “One of our favorite times of the day was nap time. You remember our song?”

Tim gave me a little smile and nodded. I sang to him,

“It’s nap time, It’s nap time, It’s Dad and Timmy’s nap time
Nap Time, Nap time, it’s time to take a nap!”

Tim began to tear up. I pulled him close, and he snuggled up against me. It felt great having him nestled beside me. As I drifted off to sleep, I heard Tim whisper to me, “I love you ... Mom.”

Hal came in about 5:30 and asked, “Hon, are you up to this party? If you want, I’ll make excuses for you.” I looked around. There was no sign of Tim. Yawning, I said, “I don’t know, Hal. I don’t want to let the guests down, but I still hurt a lot, and frankly, I look like hell.”

“Yeah, I know. Why don’t you play it by ear? I’ll make excuses for you, and let everyone know what happened. We’ll eat dinner about 7:00, and if you want to come down, great! Otherwise, I’m sure Vikki will bring you a tray.”

“That might be best. I’ll think about it. Could you send my mom in?”

Hal reached down and kissed my forehead, “Sure. I love you — have I told you that today?”

“No, you were too busy leering this morning. Thanks, and thanks for sleeping with me last night. You’ll be here tonight, won’t you?”

Hal gave me that infuriating smile of his. “Wild horses couldn’t keep me away!”

“Oh, you! Get out of here and take care of our guests!”

“Oh, hey, I forgot, I know it’s not like your other wedding bands, but until we get them back, would you wear this set?” Hal slipped a gorgeous wedding band set on my finger. It certainly was NOT as huge as my other set, but I think he knew how upset I’d be if it had been.

“They’re lovely, thanks,” I said reaching up to kiss him.

“I’ll see you later,” he said. I smiled as he left the room.

Mom came into the room a few minutes later, looking gorgeous, and I was betting Annie had something to do with it.

“Hi, that’s a beautiful dress. One of Annie’s creations?” I asked.

“Yes it is. Hal said you wanted to see me?”

“Can you tell me about it now?”

My mom sighed, making a HUGE production of it.

“I was afraid you would remember to ask.” She sat on the edge of the bed, and gently stroked my head. “Are you sure you want the details?”

I nodded.

“When I was seventeen, you already know that I’d been married and divorced. Times were hard in Oklahoma. I’d never gone to high school, and I was working as a waitress in a road house south of Tulsa. About the only people with money to spend were the oil roughnecks. They would come in, order whatever they wanted, and usually leave a big tip. One night, this oil stained brute, they called him Tiny, but he stood six foot four, came in and wanted more than was on the menu. I told him to get lost, and called the owner. Tiny slapped me, and started to pull me outside. Ralph, the owner came around the counter with a shotgun at the ready, and told him to get the hell out of there.

“Tiny snarled something at Ralph, who promptly fired the shotgun into the wall above Tiny. Well, let me tell you, Tiny got the hell out of there real fast.” Mom reached over and grabbed a tissue.

“We closed a couple of hours later; at 10:30 I think. I walked out of the restaurant, and began walking home. It was about half a mile. I’d gotten maybe half-way home, when Tiny leapt out from behind a tree, grabbed me around the throat, and pulled me into the bushes. He slugged me a couple of times, and told me if I made a sound he’d kill me right then and there.”

My mom was quietly leaking tears. Her voice showed no emotion — it came out totally dead. I sat up and held her while she continued her story.

“He pushed me to the ground, ripped my panties off, dropped his pants and took me right there. He was like an animal. He just held me down and began ramming his dick into me. Eventually, he found the right hole, and settled into a pounding rhythm. It hurt, a lot. But the physical pain was nothing compared to how it made me feel. Eventually, he grunted a couple of time and climaxed. He stood up, pulled up his pants, zipped his fly, grabbed my ripped panties, twirled the on his finger and left me lying there. At that moment, I wanted to die. I felt dirty, humiliated, and worthless.

“Oh God, I know that feeling,” I muttered, crying along with her.

“Oh Baby, if I could take the pain, I would. It gets better, honest.”

“What happened?”

“Well, eventually I made it home. I spent an hour trying to get clean, but I still felt dirty. I went to bed, and cried myself to sleep. The next day, I walked to work. Ralph took one look at me, and he knew what had happened. I tried to tell him my eyes were blackened when I tripped and fell. He was having none of it.”

“Ralph was a very direct sort of man. He looked straight at me and said ‘It was that son of a bitch Tiny, wasn’t it?’ I never was very good at lying, and I nodded. ‘Did he rape you?’ Again, I gave a small nod. Ralph opened the cash drawer, pulled out $10.00 and told me to go see the doctor. I tried to argue, Ralph told me to shut up and do it or find another job.”

“Jobs were scarce, so I swallowed my pride, took off my apron and walked down the street to the doctor’s. He checked out the damage, told me I would be all right, and told me I should file a report with the police. I couldn’t do that. My ex-husband worked for the police department and it would be really ugly. You have to remember, this was the late 40’s, in a small Oklahoma town. Things we now take for granted just didn’t happen then. When I tried to pay, the doctor refused, and apologized that he couldn’t do more.

“I walked away with a bottle of codeine pills and returned to the restaurant. I told Ralph the doctor said I would be okay and handed him the $10.00. Ralph refused it, told me to keep the money and get to work.”

“Two days later, Tiny was found by the side of the road. He’d been shot at close range with a shotgun, castrated, and his balls shoved in his mouth. There was a sign around his neck saying ‘This here is what happens to rapists in Oklahoma.’”

“I don’t know whether Ralph did it or not. I never asked, and two weeks later, I left Oklahoma to live with my sister in California. A month later, I met your dad, and we were married six months later. Damn, I wish he was here now.” My dad had passed away two years earlier.

“You know, he’d probably do the same thing to the scum that raped you.”

The thought of my dad, my rape, and the story my mom had told had me crying again.

“Shush, Baby, you’ll get through this. … I did. It takes time, and love. The love you have in full measure. If you allow it, you’ll have the time and heal. But, you can’t just end it. I know what it’s like; I wanted to kill myself, too. Promise me you won’t give up?”

I couldn’t speak, so I nodded instead, and we sat there crying on each other. At that moment, I really missed my dad. I thought he probably wouldn’t have accepted me as Kate, but he would have loved me. It occurred to me to sort of ask her how dad would have felt.

“Mom, do you think dad would have liked to have had a daughter?”

“Yes. Let me tell you a secret I’ve kept your whole life. Though you tried so hard to hide it, your dad and I knew you didn’t like being a boy. For years I felt guilty. I had read an article about guys who felt they were really women. The article said one of the things that might have triggered it was drugs taken during pregnancy; drugs I took while carrying you. It nearly broke my heart watching you trying to be a stereotypical “guy”, when I knew you couldn’t stand it. We didn’t know what to do, or how to help.”

“Your dad was proud of you when you played football. Not because of how well you did, but because you had the will to do it even though he knew you didn’t like it. Your dad knew you did it just for him. Baby, your daddy would be very proud of you today.”

“Would you stop it already?” I said as the tears gushed again. The bed began to look like a war zone from the discarded tissues. “Every time you open your mouth you make me cry again.”

“Didn’t you know that’s one of the things mother’s are for?” she gently teased.

Linda opened the door, and asked what was wrong. Mom told her nothing, just a little mother-daughter bonding.

Linda looked a bit quizzical, and mom began to laugh. “I’ve been telling Kate her dad would be proud of her.” She said nothing of the rape, so I didn’t bring it up.

“Well, Duh! Everyone who knows Kate is proud of her,” Linda replied.

“Okay, is that enough of the “I Love Kate” fan club?” I asked. “Isn’t it about time for dinner?”

“Actually, that’s why I’m here. Hal wanted to know if you were going to come down or not. And, you looked soooooooo cute snuggled with Tim earlier.”

“You saw that?” I smiled. Linda nodded. “I might as well go down to dinner, I’m feeling a little better. Will you guys give me a hand? I don’t think I can see well enough to do my makeup.”

“Kate, no one would expect you to put makeup on your battered face. If you want, get a spritz of perfume, wash your face, and let’s go downstairs. When Hal told the guests what had happened, the men wanted blood — but not half as much as the women did.”

I followed Linda’s advice, and ten minutes later, Linda, my mom, and I went downstairs.

We entered the dining room, and Hal walked over to meet me as the room burst into applause. I blushed, started crying again, and let Hal seat me in my chair at the foot of the table before he returned to his at the other end.

As stressful at the past few days had been, it was a relief to sit there, chat with people who cared, and listen to the strolling carolers as they performed Christmas carols. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I smiled at the thought.

Retiring early, I went upstairs and got ready for bed. Tom came in with another Ambien, watched as I took it, and I went to bed. Some time later, Linda and Hal joined me. I snuggled in, and slept peacefully through the night.

------------------------
Cruise Ship Golden Princess, Cozumel, Mexico, Friday, December 21, 2001

John Maxwell and Rob Lewis never left the ship. Pat and Sheila were both relieved and disappointed. Relieved that there was no possibility of getting rid of the jewels, disappointed there would be no company paid sightseeing.

Mark Chapman looked with satisfaction at the arrest warrant that had been faxed to him from Miami. John Maxwell would be taken into custody on charges of … piracy (Mark thought that charge creative), making a terrorist threat, rape, and grand larceny.

Additionally, the State of Florida had issued a warrant for sexual assault, extreme sexual battery, attempted murder, grand theft, and kidnapping, (again, a creative charge in Chapman’s mind). Rob Lewis would be arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, and conspiracy to commit piracy.

After lengthy discussions with Captain Breton, and his security officer Sarah Matthews, it was decided to take the two men into custody as soon at the Grand Princess crossed into US territorial waters. According to the ship’s navigator, the Grand Princess would cross that line shortly before 2215 hours.

At 2230, the arrest began. Both men were in the Wheelhouse Lounge, and it was clear they both were well on the way to intoxication. Two ship’s officers politely asked them to help clear up a problem in their room. The story was, that the ship’s sensors had detected an abnormally high temperature, no, not a fire they explained. But, to respect their privacy, they were asked to assist in sorting things out.

They followed the two officers to an elevator. When the elevator arrived, no one was surprised to see three passengers already on the elevator. One of the officers reached over, used an override key, and the elevator descended to an area of the ship normally off limits to passengers. As they stepped out of the elevator, there were additional security staff members who quickly took the protesting men into custody.

Mark Chapman stepped forward. “John Maxwell and Robert Lewis? I’m Mark Chapman of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning, now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now or in the future without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?”

“Fuck no! You can’t do this to us. We’re on a foreign flag vessel and outside your fucking jurisdiction.”

“Well, gentlemen, you will be held in close confinement, unable to speak with each other until we dock in Port Everglades. At that time, a Federal Marshall will take you into custody, and you will be arraigned before a Federal Judge in Miami.”

Sarah Matthews and staff locked the two in crew cabins that served as the ship’s brig. Saturday, Sarah, in conjunction with Mark Chapman and the Cendar Forensics team, would begin the task of searching their cabin.

Pat called the Steven’s Estate. “Boss? They’ve both been taken into custody.” Pat went into the details of the arrest. After hanging up the phone, he turned to Sheila, “Now that we can relax, would you allow me the honor of buying you a drink?”

Sheila laughed at him. “Only if you let me buy the first one.” The two strolled down to the Wheelhouse Lounge — somehow that seemed the most appropriate place, and each ordered a Sam Adams, in the bottle. “Here’s to a project finished well, even if totally fucked up in the beginning.”

Pat clinked his bottle against hers, “You know? I’ll drink to that!”

------------------------

Steven’s Hall, Massachusetts. Friday, December 21, 2001

Jeeves walked to the Master Bedroom, knocked softly and tried to enter. The door was locked. Taking out his master key, he quietly unlocked the door, and walked to where Hal was sleeping.

Jeeves smiled at the sight. There hadn’t been much to smile about lately, but Hal, Kate, and Linda brought to mind three puppies cuddled together. Tapping Hal on the shoulder, he was not surprised to see Hal instantly awake, scanning the room. Jeeves leaned down and whispered the news. Hal’s face broke out in a grin. Jeeves quietly left, locking the door behind him.

Hal leaned over and woke Linda. Linda looked a question at him. He smiled and touched his finger to his lips before he gently shook Kate.

“What’s wrong Hal? Kate asked in alarm.”

“Jeeves just gave me my Christmas present. The only thing I want for Christmas this year.”

Comprehension dawned in Linda’s mind. Kate, with the Ambien still working on her, was a bit slower. “What are you talking about?” she yawned.

“Merry Christmas, Kate. John and Rob were just arrested by the FBI. They will be celebrating Christmas behind bars in a Federal jail cell. They will never again have a chance to hurt anyone.”

“That’s nice,” Kate muttered as the Ambien carried her back to sleep. Hal and Linda laughed. Each kissed Kate, rewarded by the smile that played across her battered and broken lips.

“You know, I think she did hear you,” Linda told Hal. Linda and Hal snuggled back down into the bed, close to Kate, hearts lighter for the news.

To be continued.



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