Warning: adult situations
A week later - Friday
Statham Island, Storm's penthouse...
Special Agent Storm Chase got out of his sleek silver BMW M3. He'd had a long grueling week and he was glad to be home. He worked as a psychological profiler for Statham Island’ Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), a government owned agency working closely with Statham Island’s law enforcement departments. He was an expert on obsessional crime. He loved his job and he was good at it, but he'd be the first to admit it was very demanding, and it had cost him wife, Emma.
Upstairs in his penthouse, as he gazed at the view beyond his window, Storm couldn't shut off thoughts of his late wife.
Since her brutal murder two years earlier he'd buried himself in his work, stewing in his guilt over her death. His colleagues, friends and family, had all told him it wasn’t his fault; it was a senseless random crime and it had nothing to do with his job, it wasn’t one of the pissed off criminals he'd helped put away over the years. They all believed it was just a home invasion gone horribly wrong. But deep down inside he knew it was his fault, he had failed to protect her.
He was exhausted, but he couldn’t bring himself to sleep. Instead he jumped on his computer and began working on the report for the case his team had just wrapped up.
He shuddered visibly when he recalled the gruesome images of the dismembered body of the Manson girl. Cases involving children were always the hardest for him. Sure, his team had caught the sex offender responsible, but it didn’t change the fact that a little girl was dead.
An hour later with the Manson report not anywhere close to being complete, Storm padded softly to his big inviting bed. He could barely keep his eyes open now. As soon as his head hit the soft, plush pillows a warm cozy feeling washed over him and he was out like a baby…
Sweating and panting for air, Storm woke up from his dream.
“This has to stop!” He growled harshly at the empty room. It was the same dream again; it always started with Emma, somehow though Victoria always managed to sneak her way in. He was tired of her intrusion, tired of craving her. He had to purge himself of these unwanted feelings somehow. Yes, he’d call her, clear up everything. He'd been putting it off since the previous weekend but he hated leaving loose ends.
"No!" Victoria moaned softly as she tried to sit up on her bed. She couldn’t remember the last time she was this drunk or hung-over.
She scrunched up her face in concentration as she tried to remember how she got home, let alone crawled onto her bed. But her head pounded furiously at the amount of pressure she was exerting on her fuzzy brain.
Tired of waiting for Storm to call, last night she and a couple of friends, Kendra not included, went clubbing at P.U.RE. She'd drunk too much, laughed too loudly, partied too hard and flirted like the single girl she was, but all the while her heart was aching for Storm. She needed him. She wanted him. But with her kind of luck, she'd fallen for the one man who didn’t want her.
With tears in her eyes, Victoria sat up and tried to place her feet on the elusive floor, but the room spun in dizzying circles, making it impossible for her to focus. She fell back on the bed and cried, and for a long time she didn't understand what she was crying for considering she'd had far worse hangovers in the past. And then it suddenly hit her. She wasn't crying because she was drunk and out of it, she was crying for Storm. If things had gone right with them, today would have been their one week anniversary.
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself," she sniffled as she forced herself to get up from the bed. This time her efforts were successful, she managed to make it to the kitchen without tripping all over herself.
Half an hour later she was miraculously nursing a mug of coffee in her hand.
As she took in the smell of freshly brewed coffee, her thoughts ran back to Storm. She wondered if he liked coffee or tea. "No," she shook her head, Storm didn't strike her as a tea kind of guy. But then again she could be wrong. She didn't know much about him, in fact she knew nothing about him.
But she knew this much at least, when they'd made love she'd felt like she'd known him all her life, like they were one and they could have something wonderful together. In that timeless hour spent in his arms, she'd seen their future so clearly, she belonged with him, and she'd really thought the connection wasn't one sided. But then he left her in his bed with no note, no good bye and no see you later!
"So much for being one!" She sighed sadly as she stared at the dark liquid inside the mug. The coffee was starting to get cold, she'd have to warm it up again. She was about to when her home phone rang on the coffee table.
"Storm!" she thought hopefully as she staggered slowly to answer it.
"Hello," she breathed into the phone, holding her breath, hoping it was the one voice she wanted to hear.
"Victoria? Are you okay? I haven't heard from you in a while? The launch is in five days and we need to go over the details. Are you done with the paintings? When can I come and see them?" Piper, her business partner, shrieked on her end.
"Piper, calm down. I'm okay. Don't worry about the paintings. They'll be ready for the launch," Victoria answered, bitterly disappointed that it wasn’t Storm.
"Well, I'm coming over," Piper insisted.
Victoria stifled a frustrated sigh. She understood her partner's anxiety, after all they were launching their art gallery in five days, everything had to be perfect, but she really wasn't in the mood for company.
"I don't feel too good right now Piper, let's talk tomorrow. Please?" Victoria didn’t wait for her partner's response, she quickly hung up the phone. And just to make sure Piper didn’t bother her again, she took it off the hook and switched off her cell phone. Her head throbbed and her stomach growled loudly, but she couldn’t bring herself to eat. Gingerly, she made her way back to her bed...
"I know you didn't bring me here to stare at my handsome face," Dean murmured teasingly. They were at P.U.R.E. for well over ten minutes and Storm hadn't said a word.
Dean knew something was wrong when his brother called and asked him to meet him downtown because Storm never called. For anything. He just wished he'd just spit out whatever was bothering him.
"I've been having dreams," Storm blurted out suddenly and he immediately wished he hadn't, Dean wasn't a good sounding board.
"About Emma? Look, Storm, I don't mean to tell you how to live your life, but you have to let her go," Dean answered cautiously and braced himself for Storm's angry reaction. But surprisingly Storm didn’t say anything, he just shook his head.
"The dreams are not about Emma, are they?" Dean sounded confused.
"No," Storm nodded. He opened his mouth to say more, but then changed his mind and kept quiet.
"Come on man, spill! What's going on?" Dean tried again. "What sort of dreams?"
"Weird dreams," Storm looked very uneasy when he replied.
"You mean?" Dean asked and let the rest of his question hang in the air as he suppressed a laugh. He couldn’t believe his 36 year old brother was having naughty dreams.
"Yes!" Storm retorted sharply.
"Okay then. So who's the porn star in your dreams?" Dean teased. He almost choked on his drink when he heard Storm's answer.
"What? You mean Kendra's Victoria? The woman who's going to be my bride's maid of honor? Why?" Dean knew he was rambling, but he couldn’t help it.
"Last weekend, Saturday morning, while you and Kendra were still in bed, well...We...You know..." Storm couldn’t finish his sentence. He was really feeling embarrassed now. He hadn't expected to confess all of this to his sibling. All he wanted was Victoria's address, which he could have picked up from the BAU's data bank had he known how awkward this conversation would turn out.
"So...what now? You want the dreams to stop?" Dean asked suddenly.
Storm failed to see the relevance of his question, but he nodded anyway.
"Can you quit asking me stupid questions? I just want Victoria's address!" Storm snapped at last, he’d taken just about all he could take.
"Okay. Relax," Dean grabbed Storm’s phone from the table and quickly punched in Victoria’s details in the address book.
"Thanks," Storm mumbled as he took the phone from him and headed for the club’s exit.
"What are you going to do?" Dean's question caught him off guard. He really had no idea of what he was going to do about Victoria. But something had to be done. He couldn’t keep ignoring the mess and hope it would go away on its own.
Victoria woke up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle her day. Her stomach growled loudly reminding her she hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours.
She quickly jumped out of bed and made her way to the bathroom to take a shower and officially start her morning.
After her breakfast she went to her art studio next door to work on the last batch of paintings for the launch.
Professionally she was a free-lance photo journalist but she supplemented her sporadic income by painting. She was excited when Piper proposed they go into business together. Piper was business savvy and well she was a talented photographer and an even better artist. They both knew they were taking a huge gamble by opening an art gallery in this economy, but life’s all about risks. That’s her motto and Piper understood it very well, perhaps it was also one of the reasons they got along so well.
No matter what she was going through, when Victoria painted, she could always shut off the rest of the world and go into that private place she kept only for herself. At this very moment she was content. Her mind and heart were still.
"World, here I come," she squealed happily as she put the final strokes on the canvass a little while later. Pleased with her progress, she decided to take a walk and get some fresh inspiration.
Storm couldn’t believe he was there. He knew he wasn’t ready for this, but there would be no better time than now.
He got out of the car and surveyed her street. He liked her neighborhood, it was in one of the safe and quieter parts of town. He didn’t know why but he liked knowing Victoria was safe…
“Stop it, she means nothing to you!” He groaned under his breath. And before he could change his mind about their talk, he rushed up the steps leading to her front porch.
He pressed the buzzer at least three times before someone answered.
"Hello?" a gruff female voice barked somewhere inside the building.
"Hi, Is Victoria in?" he asked.
"Who?" again came the bark.
"Victoria! Is she in?" Storm repeated, speaking slowly this time.
"She's gone out. She left an hour ago. She should be home soon!"
"Okay, thanks. I'll just wait out here for her," he said politely.
Disappointed, he made his way back to his car. He wondered if maybe he should leave and come back later. But he knew if he left now he might just lose his courage and never come back.
He hated break ups, but technically, this wasn’t a break up. He wanted to put things into perspective, apologize to Victoria for leaving abruptly the previous weekend and not give her any false hopes about a future he knew they would never have.
He didn’t know how long he sat in his car and he was about to leave when, from his rear view mirror, he saw Victoria walk past. Without warning, his heart rate suddenly quickened and his palms felt a little sweaty, and for some reason he felt like a school boy on his first date.
"Victoria," He called out to her.
Victoria just stood there, not believing her eyes.
"Storm? What are you doing here?" She asked nervously, half angry with him for not calling her like he said he would, half excited because again, her heart confirmed what she already knew, she was in love with him, completely, insanely, head over heels in love with him.
"Where have you been? Do you have any idea how long I've been sitting here waiting for you to come home?" Storm snapped. He had to hold back from shaking her like a rag doll. He didn’t realize how worried he was about her until he saw her walk past.
"Definitely not a week, that's for sure!" Victoria yelled right back.
"Okay, I deserved that. I've been meaning to call you, but I’ve been working on a case, a little girl was-" Storm started to say, but he didn’t get to finish his explanation because without warning Victoria pulled him close and started kissing him slowly at first and then urgently when he didn’t resist.
For a brief moment he allowed himself to enjoy the kiss. Before long, he was kissing her back passionately and pulling her closer in his arms.
But then a small voice just had to choose that moment to shriek somewhere inside his head, "Stop, this wasn’t the plan!"
With a bewildered grunt, almost cruelly, he pushed her away.
"What's wrong?" Victoria asked, sounding slightly hurt.
"I'm sorry, I can't do this," he whispered sadly.
"You can't do what? The kiss? Or US?" She asked, holding her breath.
"Both." He answered. He saw the crushed look in her eyes and he hated himself for it. Maybe he should have just stayed away.
"Why are you here Storm? Why did you come?" Victoria asked, tears clouding her eyes.
"I wanted to explain. Making love with you was amazing, but a mistake. I'm not at a good place right now. I shouldn't have made love to you and I shouldn't have come here, but I needed to let you know...We can't be together," his voice trailed off.
"Why? What do you mean?" she asked again, "Is it someone else?"
"Yes," he told her.
"Emma," he whispered sadly.
"Emma? Your late wife?" She felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. Devastated didn't begin to describe her feelings, but a part of her, the part that could still function, wanted to change his mind and cling to him, she wanted to reach for him and take him upstairs, and make love to him, but she knew in the long run it would be pointless, she could never compete with a memory, she could never fight a ghost...
"I'm sorry..." Storm started to say, but she cut him off.
"So am I....more than you'll ever know," she told him sadly.
"Take care of yourself Victoria," Storm told her quietly just before he got in his car. It killed him to see her like that. He wished he hadn't hurt her, wished things were different, but he knew himself, he knew his job and the demands that came with it. His work had almost destroyed his marriage with Emma. He was sure if Emma had not died, eventually she would have divorced him. He just couldn't live through another relationship.
Victoria watched him drive off. Her heart was shattered into a million pieces and she wasn't sure if any glue could stick it together again. It was all over. She knew how he felt about her. He was still devoted to his late wife. She must have been some woman to have such a strong hold on him.
"Oh Storm," Victoria cried for all the things they'd never have. But at least now she could finally have closure and move on with her life.