Once Lee has noticed that Samantha lacks Claire’s scar that she sustained in a mountain bike accident, his suspicions that he has been dealing with a different person these past few weeks have finally been confirmed after having missed all the signs earlier. Time for the layers to start peeling off…
Lee returned to TREXCON Consulting Enterprise to meet up with Napoleon Olivier, who was seated with his leather gloved hands folded professionally. ‘We need to talk about Claire,’ Napoleon said ominously.
‘I know,’ Lee replied. ‘As usual, she was in a pretty foul mood this morning.’
‘Well, that’s nothing new. Anything else?’
Lee put his hands in his pockets with unease. ‘She quit the police force. This time for good.’
Only Lee wasn’t telling the whole truth. On top of that, he didn’t reveal to Napoleon that there was something else he’d uncovered.
‘Are you still concerned about Claire’s mental health?’ Napoleon asked out of curiosity.
‘She’s still very depressed, which can only be expected. But now that she has been put on new meds she should be doing okay, I suppose.’
‘You understand that your role as monitor is not to interfere.’
‘I do know that. And I’ve been making sure not to.’
I returned to Felix’s flat to meet up with him and discuss about the man I’d been sleeping with – Lee Dierden – who turned out to be Claire’s monitor all along. But I had to quickly hide as Colin the morgue attendant came out of the room leading to the doorway. Once I made sure he was gone, I quickly hustled into the flat. ‘Why were you with Colin?’ I demanded sternly.
‘Calm down, sis,’ Felix insisted, slightly offended. ‘He’s the first nice kind bloke I’ve met in ages.’
‘So you thought you’d shag the guy we conned into identifying my body?’ I snarked as I poured myself a drink.
‘Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that your life is more important than mine,’ Felix bitched back. He actually had the nerve to blurt that out!
‘No, it isn’t, actually! My life is just way more difficult and frustrating,’ I corrected sharply, sitting myself down. ‘And to make matters even worse, Vincent has come back. He unexpectedly ran into Alison and now he thinks I’m alive.’ Which – as a matter of face – I actually was.
Speaking of Vincent… we heard him storm into the flat as soon as the door flung open violently. ‘Is this a bad time?’ he asked sarcastically. He tried to remain calm and composed, but Felix and I could tell he was seeing red. ‘You tasered me. You pepper sprayed me. And you think I’m just gonna walk away like some nobody?’ He wandered across the room to where we were sitting as he said this.
‘Look, it wasn’t me that tasered and pepper sprayed you,’ I interrupted. ‘That was a completely different woman who just happened to look like me.’
‘Don’t give me that shit,’ Vince spat. ‘And then that coke you stole from me while pretending to be dead? Who the fuck do you think took the fall for that?’ I was horrified as he revealed his bandaged throbbing hand. ‘Now where is the fucking money?’
I got out Alison’s 20K and slammed it on the table. ‘I’m only handing it over to you so that maybe you’ll fuck off,’ I snapped. I’d referred to it as piss off money.
‘How the fuck do you do it?’ Vince asked in a low and fierce tone. ‘Lying there in that morgue. Holding your breath, Samantha, while I am crying my eyes out. I’m actually grieving.’ He then turned to Felix and glared at him. ‘And the fact that you helped her fake her own suicide and let me think she was dead. What kind of a sick bunch of fuck asses are you two?’
‘I’m not proud of what I did,’ I confessed. ‘But it was the only way to get away from you, Vincent.’
‘But I thought we had something special?!’
‘Not to me, we didn’t. Not now. Not ever.’ I thrust the flat door open and ordered him out.
‘You’re not chucking me out,’ Vince began obstinately. ‘I won’t let you do that.’
‘I think you should do what she says and leave, Vincent,’ Felix offered.
Vincent slowly scooped up the twenty grand. ‘It’s not over, Samantha,’ he promised as he shuffled out of the flat.
I was glad that Vincent was gone. But suddenly my mobile rang. It was Lee. There was no way I would answer him. Not after Felix and I had listened to the recorded audio files of Lee and Napoleon’s conversation.
‘Don’t answer,’ Felix begged.
‘I won’t,’ I said quietly as I pressed the reject button. I was righteously pissed off over what I’d just learnt about the man who had turned out to be Claire’s monitor the whole time. ‘He knows something,’ I told Felix anxiously. ‘I know he does.’
My mobile chirped again, much to my exasperation. I checked only to see that… Lee had sent me pictures of my walk with Katrina!
‘Lee actually followed me straight to Katrina,’ I realised, horrified.
I jumped up and shrugged back into my coat. ‘What are you going to do?’ Felix asked, extremely worried.
‘I will not let him threaten my daughter,’ I vowed as I snatched up the mobile. ‘I need you to go to Siobhan’s and make sure Katrina is okay.’
I felt more determined now than ever. This time, I was not about to back down.
I was on the phone to Melissa as I sat in my Jag outside the condo. ‘I’m about to go in there and shoot Bastard Lee in the balls,’ I fumed.
In major contrast, Melissa was pretty much calm and collected. ‘Not just yet, Sam,’ she cautioned sensibly. ‘This is our chance to finally get answers.’
‘But he followed me to Katrina, Mel,’ I cried in dismay.
‘I already know this, as Felix filled me in on everything,’ Melissa confirmed. ‘I also know what it must mean to you. But at the same time, Lee covered for you while you were in Claire’s disguise.’
She was right, after all.
‘I’m terrified that Lee might be falling for Fake Claire aka me,’ I admitted.
Melissa pondered on that for one moment. ‘Well then that’s great news.’
‘How is that great news?’ Was she out of her bloody mind?
‘Because he may not even know he’s watching a clone. But that Napoleon Olivier guy definitely does. He runs Lee, so even though Lee is your potential monitor, he can’t skew the results either.’
‘You mean these people are keeping Lee in the dark also?’ I guessed correctly.
‘Exactly. We need to get to Napoleon after having dealt with Lee.’
I carefully let myself into the darkened condo and eased through looking for Lee. To my surprise, Lee turned on the light by the couch where he was sitting.
‘I had no idea you were in here, Lee,’ I noted scornfully.
Lee ignored this comment. ‘And I thought you’d gone away to visit a friend,’ he responded acidly. ‘I also thought you were a cop who had just turned in her gun and badge.’
Damn! How did he find me out so quickly?
‘Well, apparently, I’ve got a stalker,’ I bit back.
Lee picked his pistol off his couch, rose to his feet and loosely held his gun in my direction so that he wasn’t aiming at me but near enough. ‘Maybe you should sit down and put the gun on the coffee table,’ he indicated wryly.
‘Is this some kind of fucking test, then?’ I questioned rather angrily as I did exactly as he ordered.
‘I knew,’ he said, sounding just as angry as I felt. ‘I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I could tell. That day when you were supposed to be at the trial was the first time we’d had sex in fucking months.
‘And you were wearing that Clash t-shirt. Just before we screwed each other in the bedroom, I started to get that strange feeling that something about you had changed. And what was it that you said? That there was nothing different about you, that you were still the same Claire I’d met two years ago.’
I shook my head in disbelief. This was getting us nowhere. ‘What are you saying exactly?’ I snarled.
‘You quit the force after refusing to ever think about it,’ he noted. ‘On top of that, the scar on your neck just disappears mysteriously because of what? Some fucking prescribed ointment?’
I seriously thought that he was losing it. I even told him so. ‘You’re completely off your rocker,’ I murmured.
But Lee was undaunted. ‘Am I?’ he continued as he pulled out prints of me and Katrina together from his jacket pocket and tossed them on the coffee table before my eyes. ‘This little girl I saw you with?! How do you explain about her?’
I looked at him with ice cold eyes. ‘She is my niece,’ I responded, perjuring myself.
‘Don’t fuck with me! When I saw you together, you looked as close as a mother-daughter couple. I even heard her call you “Mum”. The last time I checked, Claire didn’t have any children because she couldn’t have any.’ He looked back at me with a deathly stare. ‘Which means that you are not Claire.’
This was it. I’d finally been caught.
‘And I know you’re not Claire because I was watching some old video of the fucking real Claire training for a half-marathon,’ Lee continued, his voice filled with venom. ‘What was the last race you ran? And what city was it in?’
I knew the answers to neither of these. Gone was the fake Claire – in her place the real Samantha.
Now Lee was aiming the gun right at me. ‘Where is Claire?’ he hissed at me. ‘Whoever the fuck you are, you tell me now where Claire is!’
I wasn’t intimidated by the bastard. I had no reason to be. ‘Claire is dead,’ I finally replied in my own native British accent. ‘She killed herself by jumping in front of a train. I saw her do it.’
Lee was knocked back a step almost as though he had been slapped across the face. ‘You’re English. You’re from Britain, aren’t you? What’s your name?’
‘Samantha,’ I practically spat out my name.
‘Samantha what?’ he demanded icily. ‘What is your surname?’
‘Samantha is good enough,’ I replied twice as coldly.
‘This is bullshit,’ he gritted through his teeth. ‘Claire isn’t dead. Or is this a test?’ he echoed my exact question.
‘When Claire died, I took her identity,’ I revealed to him as his hand began shaking while he was still holding his gun. Feeling unnerved and unable to sit below him at gunpoint any longer, I finally got up and made my way into the kitchen. Somehow, I knew he would never bring himself to shoot me. I heard him follow me, anyway, with the gun still in his hand.
‘If you’re planning to shoot me then fucking go ahead and get it over with,’ I raged. ‘Or what the fuck are you waiting for?’
Lee finally lowered his gun, just as I’d predicted. Spineless prick, he didn’t have the bottle!
‘Look, I was just going to clean out her bank accounts. I didn’t mean to get all tangled up with you, or Claire’s partner, or anybody else,’ I admitted with exasperation.
‘If Claire really is dead,’ Lee wondered. ‘Then how do I know you didn’t kill her?’
I turned around to face him. ‘Because you killed her,’ I said to him accusingly. ‘I know that you’re her monitor. Because you observed her. You let medical experts into her room. Doctors came to her bedroom and medically examined her in her sleep, just like last night. And she was aware of it.
‘And she eventually took her own life because the man she loved turned her whole life into a complete lie.’ I felt the uncontrollable rage inside me begin to boil over as I pulled out the letters Claire wrote to Lee that I had found. ‘You’re a plant,’ I felt my voice quiver as I flung the letters at him in anger. ‘She knew you didn’t love her and she couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t let her leave. And now she figured it out in the very end.’
Lee was unable to deny it. Convicted, his face fell. The tears fell also. I myself tried hard not to break down.
‘She trusted you,’ I whispered, my voice cracking. ‘I trusted you. How could you do that to her? And to me?’
Lee looked up at me, his face damp and his eyes red-rimmed. ‘I’m so sorry,’ he sobbed. ‘I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to be Claire’s monitor.’
‘Then why did you do it?’ I demanded in a stronger tone.’
‘They control us,’ Lee confessed as he wiped his face with his palm. ‘But they don’t tell us why.’