Demanding custody of her young daughter Katrina, Samantha meets up with her foster mother Siobhan Saunders. This is where recriminations start to fly.
Later on – after we had been estranged from each other for what seemed a lifetime – I reluctantly met Siobhan at the river of Lakeside Park.
Siobhan didn’t look at me as she spoke. ‘I’ve gotten used to your elaborate ruses and disguises,’ she said to me in a snit. ‘But to fake your own suicide under a train. That I cannot understand.’
‘How about because I saw it as a way to get away from Vincent and escape with Katrina,’ I snapped.
Siobhan glared at me disbelievingly. ‘To me, that is a rather ridiculous idea of you of all people taking Katrina on the run,’ she dismissed scornfully.
I glared back at my foster mother, feeling rather offended and exasperated at the same time. ‘Are you done with the cruel insults now?’ I said acidly. ‘What’s it going to be?’
Siobhan ignored my bitter remark. ‘I’ve agreed to set up a visit with Katrina. But I’m warning you now, Samantha. If you want to get custody, you’ll have no choice but to go through me first.’ She looked at me ominously. ‘Show me you can be depended upon. Otherwise you can forget seeing Katrina ever again.’
I was livid by this drastic decision. If I’d known any better, Siobhan was being inequitable. ‘But you’re not Katrina’s legal guardian,’ I protested rather emotionally. ‘You’re not mine anymore either. You have absolutely no right.’
‘Let me tell you something, Missy. If you so much as even try to make any other kind of approach to Katrina, I will stop lying to social services on your behalf. Is that clear?’
That was the end of our conversation.
Outside the headquarters, I sat in the Jag and called Melissa who had returned to college in Alberta. ‘I managed to scamper the fingerprint results for the short term,’ I related to her. ‘But then the killer called Ant and sent him to the site where Portia was shot.’
‘Well then that is good. You should try and stick with Ant,’ Melissa persuaded me wisely.
‘Unfortunately I can’t. He benched me because I’m bloody useless!’
‘Why would he do that?’ Melissa asked slightly indignantly.
‘Only God knows.’ I sighed. ‘He wants me on the gun range tomorrow. I need help, Melissa. I’ve never even fired a bloody gun.’
‘Not to worry,’ Melissa reassured me. ‘I know someone who has.’
I groaned in despair. I knew she was referring to Alison.
Back at the townhouse, as I began putting my outfit together and merging one of my crop tops with one of Claire’s jeans, I made a reluctant phone call to Alison. ‘I’m shooting bloody targets at the gun range tomorrow,’ I told her. ‘And I need you to tutor me on how to fire a gun.’
‘Well then you’ve called at the wrong time,’ Alison snitted. ‘Because I can’t get a babysitter on such short notice, seeing that David is far too busy.’
‘Then we’re all screwed.’ I felt disheartened.
Just then, Felix entered the room and silently passed me a mug of coffee.
‘Unless…’ I continued thoughtfully. ‘I may have a solution.’ Fee raised one of his eyebrows as I turned to him. ‘Do you reckon you could watch Alison’s kids for a few hours?’ I cajoled him.
‘I suppose.’ He seemed to accept the idea, but I could tell he wasn’t too keen on playing caretaker for soccer bitch.
Alison introduced Felix to her adopted children who eyed him skeptically. ‘Now be good,’ she told the kids very strictly. ‘Or you’ll both be grounded.’ She turned to Felix. ‘Same goes for you,’ she told him ominously.
‘Don’t worry, Alison,’ Felix replied. ‘I’m sure they’re real angels.’
The children giggled playfully.
Alison and I drove off to yet another abandoned park where I began shooting at several targets. Disappointingly enough, the first few bullets failed to hit anything. But then as a beginner, what more should I expect?
Alison pulled off her Ear protectors. ‘Try again,’ she chirped. ‘And this time, make sure not to miss.’
And so I reloaded and gave it my best shot. The second round went smoother; I managed to hit almost every target, including the impaled stuffed brown cow on a fence at a distance.
Alison looked somewhat impressed. She gave me a quick tutorial on the differences between the Glock in her hand, which most cops carried, and the Walther PPK she handed over to me. ‘Claire told me that this has a better grip for women’s hands.’
I took the gun from her, but didn’t bother to thank her. Part of me was afraid to, in case she shouldn’t accept my gratitude. However, I plucked up the courage to ask her a personal question. ‘Were you close to Claire?’
‘Not that it’s any of your business,’ was Alison’s stiff answer. ‘But not really, seeing that I didn’t know her well enough for either of us to be close to the other.
‘However, I admired Claire with a passion. She was all business. She didn’t pry or trouble herself with other people’s problems. Neither did she let slip about her own.’ Alison looked at me frostily, much to my discomfort. ‘Most of all, she didn’t bring her foster brother to my house.’
I winced at that remark. I could not believe she was still not over that! So she was willing to hold a grudge against me for something that wasn’t even my fault? If anything, it was Felix’s.
I groaned and rolled my eyes. ‘First of all, I didn’t bring my foster brother over to your house,’ I explained through clenched teeth. ‘Second of all, I didn’t know the rules of Clone Club, did I?’
‘Can you not use the C word?!’ Alison barked, her eyes flashing with fury. ‘Now focus on what you’re meant to be doing!’
Neither of us said any more. I lined up my shots with extremely furious determination, this time with the Walther PPK Soccer Bitch lent to me. To my own surprise, I hit every single one. The stupid-looking stuffed cow toppled from its perch with a dying squeak.
‘Shit,’ I muttered with satisfaction.
‘That’s the same way I wish I could gun down whoever is killing us off one by one,’ Alison admitted, not even trying to hide the bitterness in her tone. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. She didn’t become bitter for just no good reason; she was made that way all thanks to those bastard scientists. Like Claire and the rest of us, Alison had been robbed of a normal life as a natural-born individual and normal human being. ‘Someone is covering up their illegal experiments by wiping us out. It’s because I’m determined to protect my family that I had Claire teach me how to shoot. For that I am grateful to her.’
And I was grateful to Alison, even though I didn’t show it. I decided to offer my condolences about Claire. ‘I’m sorry about what happened to her,’ I told Alison sincerely. ‘It really sucks that she’s gone.’ I waited for a reaction or at least a slightly emotional response.
‘I suppose it does,’ she finally said.
‘Maybe there’s something you can tell me about our dead clone sister that will help me maintain Claire’s identity,’ I suggested. ‘After all, she was my clone sister too, you know.’
‘You what?’ Alison scoffed with her usual snobbish demeanour. ‘Please! Don’t even go there. Someone like you of all people could never fill Claire’s shoes.’
Back in Bailey Downs, Alison had me drop her off a block away from her house. ‘Any particular reason why you wanted to be dropped off all the way here?’ I asked.
‘Yes, actually there is. My children cannot know that their mother is from a generation of freaks,’ she told me. ‘And thus things have to stay on a need-to-know basis.’
‘Not to worry,’ I said confidently. ‘I’m all for that.’
‘Good, because we’ve made a decision to trust you.’
Did I actually hear right? Alison had gone from taking a huge dislike to me to deciding to trust me, Sam? And to think this was the same soccer bitch with whom I’d started off on the wrong foot.
‘Don’t get your hopes up just yet, Samantha,’ Alison related in a cautious tone. ‘Just for your information, Claire had a substantial sum, a fund she used in order to buy information we couldn’t get official. Before you entered the picture, we were a cop, a scientist, and myself. The fund was how I could contribute.’
I gaped slightly. Obviously, she was referring to the 75K that Ant – ironically enough – happened to be holding ransom against my/Claire’s behaviour.
‘Melissa and I both hope you will realize you can’t run away from Clone Club. So, can you con her bank, or not?’
I nodded confidently. After all, I had already succeeded in doing just that.
Back at the townhouse, I debriefed Felix on all my new information about Clone Club. I told him more about Alison in particular.
‘So what are you gonna do now?’ Felix asked. You gonna rip off your new sis and abscond with Katrina?’
‘She’s not my sister,’ I vaunted. ‘And…yeah. That’s exactly what I plan on doing.’
Before Felix could deal with this any farther, the front door opened. Lee had returned unannounced. We scrambled frantically until I ordered Felix to hide. I then hurried to confront Lee.
‘You’re not supposed to be there,’ I said to Lee in Claire-style dialect. ‘I thought you were going to stay at Cody’s! That was the original plan! Remember?’
‘Well I think you’re being a bitch,’ Lee replied scornfully. ‘I’m the bigger person here. I need a change of clothes.’
Lee hurried into the bedroom closet where Felix hid behind the door trying hard to keep as still as a mannequin and not plotz.
I attempted to distract Lee by coming up with a typical ‘Claire & Lee’ conversation. ‘I’ve been reinstated,’ I quickly announced in reference to the shooting.
He paused. ‘How do you feel about that?’ he asked. Taken aback by his rote response, I reacted as my real self without thinking. ‘What, are you painting by numbers?’ I snapped.
Lee was unmoved. ‘I guess so.’ He stalked out of the bedroom and I followed. ‘I don’t mean to be like this,’ I said apologetically. ‘But I can’t help it if it’s all getting to me.’
‘You’re not like ‘this,’’ he suggested. ‘It is your job.’
This wasn’t getting either of us anywhere. I desperately tried another stereotype tactic. ‘I’m a cop first,’ I said as I checked Felix over my shoulder. ‘A life partner second.’
Lee stopped in his tracks at the door. ‘How would you like it if I started pulling the schizoid hot and cold crap on you?’ he demanded. He was really starting to lose the plot.
‘You know what?’ I suggested in another sincere moment. ‘Maybe you should, Lee. I mean, seriously, where are we going with this?’
To my complete and utter shock, Lee took up my dare and grabbed me. I did not expect this! Startled, I resisted briefly, but Lee was tenacious. My first intention was to push him away and slap him across the face, but I didn’t. We kissed roughly. He spun me around and pushed me hard against the wall. Felix snuck up to just inside the bedroom door and his mouth dropped open as he watched us. I felt my eyes go wide and I braced against the wall as Lee moved my hair to kiss my neck and started to unfasten my jeans. He slipped his hand inside my pants and I collapsed back against him.
I began moaning aloud. So did he. The sound of his male moaning was music to my ears as I became weak in the knees.
After we finished our crazy but brief love making, Lee put his clothes back on and prepared to make himself scarce. ‘Gotta go,’ he said quietly. Without further ado and without looking back at me even once, he left.
That was all he could say? So he just used me as some sex toy and left me right there and then? I wouldn’t be too surprised if this was how he treated Claire. Beyond gobsmacked, I laughed slightly, closed my eyes, and leaned back against the wall.
Without asking if he could come out of his hiding place, Felix pranced out of the bedroom. ‘What the hell was that all about?’ he effused. ‘Don’t tell me you’ve actually developed real feelings for the bloke?’
‘Oh holy shit,’ I muttered, stunned. ‘I guess I have.’
Felix was chuffed. ‘I never thought I’d say this, but… I’m clearly delighted to see you, Sammy Girl, involved with someone other than Dickheaded Vincent.’
‘Enough talk about Lee. Let’s get back to the prize! Time to get the money back from Claire’s other partner and get out of here.’