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A Third Chance at First Love - Chapter Seventeen

After finding out Michael Dean's whereabouts, Erin Grey is on a new mission to see the face of the person pretending to be her father. Meanwhile, Derek struggles to think after witnessing Jordan's death. Who killed him? and who is the woman he spoke of before he died?
Summary

Three months after the news broke out in public regarding her death, Erin now starts to make her move as 'Christina,' and acts accordingly to her mother's strict orders.
With the help of Aris, a member of the Invisible Guardians, she slowly uncovers the location of Michael Dean, Gary's grandfather and the mastermind behind her father's death.

Meanwhile, a car accident caused Derek to lose some of his most important memories. Although his current life seemed perfect, he knew there was something more to it - but would he risk his life once more for a woman he no longer remember?

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Recap
Now, Erin has finally gotten Michael Dean's location after approaching Senator Victor Dunkley, while Derek had just witnessed Jordan's death. What is the connection between the two, and whom are they really fighting against? It comes to light now.

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Chapter Seventeen - Our Love Will Come To Light

"Open the briefcase, Derek."

Derek hesitated for a second as he touched the black bag. This was the last thing that Jordan gave him before he died. He wasn't stupid enough not to realize that Jordan expected the shot to happen, as he was looking outside before he uttered his last words.

Thank you for being my friend. Take care of-

"...Erin Grey," Derek spoke the name. It was the name Jordan mentioned.
This woman, he thought to himself, she must be important to Jordan.
But who?

"What did you say?" The former chief interrupted, and he quickly laid his hand on top of the case. "Whose name did you just speak of?"

Derek's eyes shot down to the former chief's hand. He had just prevented Derek from opening it. "Why?" he asked Jacobs,"do you know who she is?"

" Of course, I do," Jacobs replied almost instantly. "Don't you?"

He shook his head. He had no idea who this woman was. The name was foreign to him. Yet, something small, something minuscule responded when Jordan said her name earlier.
The name bothered him, like a fish bone stuck in one's throat.

Erin Grey.
Erin Grey.

Erin.

He felt a straining frustration hanging on his neck.
"Tell me, chief," his head furrowed under the tabletop. "Who is this woman, this bloody woman," he repeated, "that seemed so important someone had to die after saying her name?" He looked at the briefcase. Exactly what is inside that piece of leather?

"You are full of questions, child." Wilson Jacobs looked around. "But allow me to speak now, before things go wrong later."

In a second, he grabbed the briefcase from Derek, and then entered a code - 1109.
The rusty lock made a squeaky sound before it opened, revealing a pile of folders.

As Derek grabbed the documents inside, he felt his insides churn as he looked closely at it.

There were pictures - pictures of broken roads severed from land erosion. There were barricade tapes, police and civilians' interactions, a crying woman, a shouting old man, and blood. He saw a lot of blood.

The pictures were quite blurry from rain, but he noticed as three pictures were of a few policemen surrounding a body. A dead body.
"She died," he said.
He felt something break inside him as he touched the photograph with his index finger, softly as if he was actually touching the person covered in blood-soaked linen.
"You could tell it was a woman?" Jacobs asked him.
Derek stopped flipping.
How could he know that? The photographer was far from the crime scene to decide if the body was of a woman or a man, but his mind seemed damned sure it was a girl.
Derek determined that the inside of the briefcase Jordan tried to protect was a private police file concerning a landslide victim, dated to November 9.

His head jerked. Derek woke up from the hospital six days after that.

"You losing your memories was not part of the plan, you see," Jacob said as he gulped down a glass of bourbon. He signaled to the bartender for another one before he resumed talking. "You were in the middle of chasing down Michael Dean," he paused, "the man she was having problems with."
He pointed to the photograph. "That's her. Erin Grey. Ah, she was a beauty. Well, still is."

Jacobs took out a folder from his own briefcase, revealing the medical file of Derek Matthews himself. "I took a quick look at your brain back then, and it was completely undamaged. What you are experiencing now is quite rare. We mentioned it before in your intern days, but there are some cases when car crash victims suffer temporary memory loss regarding the most important aspects of their lives. You didn't forget your career, or your acquaintances, because there is something, no, someone, more important to you - it was this woman."

Derek sat silently as he tried to make sense of it all. It was surreal, yet it made sense to him. He looked at the former chief to answer one question that had bugged him first.
"If all this is true, then why didn't you tell me anything before?"
Why would you leave everything hanging?
Derek had always been a man of pride. But to risk his life for a woman- it seemed uncanny.

Jacobs touched the end of his beard, followed by a loop-sided grin. "You see, Matthews, I consider you my son. No matter what that woman's mother ordered me to do, I thought I would take care of you first. I thought to myself that if you didn't remember anything, maybe, you would be better off." He touched Derek's shoulders. "I never intended to call you today, until I found out that you went to Erikson's house. He was shot, I heard, but he was prepared for it. He insisted to keep the files and the secret until you come to him yourself. He knew what was coming," Jacobs looked down, shaking his head before he plopped himself up.
"But wouldn't you rather live a peaceful life?" He paused. "And I even gave you to Dunkley's daughter. Someone with looks, brains, and not much of a dark past-"

"-Stop." Derek shook his hand off. "Is this... Erin... Alive?"
"Why? Are you still planning to help her?"
Derek didn't say for a second. "I don't intend to help someone I don't know. I'm not that kind."
Jacobs looked at the boy. "Not that kind, huh." He gave him a rusty chuckle. Maybe not to everyone, but to her...
Just then, someone entered. Someone the former Jacobs knew. "Ah, isn't the timing just great?" He said. "She's here."

Derek turned around, and the person he saw next wasn't someone he expected.

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Erin sat herself on one of the booths. She felt uneasy despite the overflowing security personnel she found roaming around the airport. It would certainly be very hard to kill someone here.

Back when she was still 'Erin Grey the journalist,' she thought of airports as a neutral zone - although it caused problem when she snooped around and got caught for it.
Now, she was a killer, and every place is a danger to her.

She looked at the message she received from a private number one more time.
'Meet me inside the Joe Bar at 1am today. - Harold Grey.'

Another bar, Erin mumbled.

She thought it was impossible to meet someone from the dead, so it was evident even to her that someone was desperately trying to get in touch with her. Erin hadn't told anyone else where she was going after meeting Dunkley, because she felt that this source would be quite important too. It was desperate after all, enough to pretend to be her dead father.

A waitress came up to her with a glass of iced tea.
"Oh, I didn't order yet-" she started to talk, but stopped short when she saw the slip of paper underneath it. "...Thank you," she said.
When she opened the slip, she typed the phone number written on it right away.
She called.

"Hello," she said as someone had picked the end of the other line.
"Erin Grey, I'm glad to hear your voice once again." The man on the other line had a coarse and raspy voice, revealing old age. "How have you been?" It dared to ask.
She knew who it was.
Erin forced a laugh. "Who would have thought that you of all people would know anything about me, Chief Jacobs," she said, "that of all people, you would know my mother."

"Ah," the voice on the other line laughed quietly. "We do go way back," he continued to talk, until she overheard a P.A system announcing an arrival of a New Zealand flight - the same announcement she just heard herself.

"So you're here too, chief." She sighed. "Why don't you let me talk to you personally?"
"That will cause complications, child." He answered. "The Dean's are never to be messed with. I believe I have risked my life enough to help you, after all. Hey! Wait, where you goin-"

The chief's voice disappeared, yet the call hadn't ended. She heard static. "What's going on," she thought, but before she could press anything she had dropped her phone. She bent down to pick it up, and as she rose up, she saw Derek looking at her, with the former chief's phone in his hand.

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Without saying anything, Erin quietly went back to her seat.
He sat in front of her without hesitation, much to her distress. Fortunately, the same waitress came back not a second later to take their order.
"What can I get for you two?" She said sweetly.
"I'll get brandy on rocks," he answered the waitress before looking at Erin. "Maybe rum and coke-"

"Make that two," she replied quickly. "And some nachos. I'm starving."
"Coming right up," the waitress replied before leaving.
Erin could feel a strange coldness as they sat in front of each other. Neither tried to speak, and they let minutes pass until Erin could take it no longer.

"What are you doing here?" She asked him. "Didn't I tell you to stay away?" She kept her voice low as she spoke. "Did Jacobs send you?"

He shook his head, but his eyes remained on her. He didn't speak.
Then her phone rang once more.

"Hah, don't be so hard on him, lad," Jacobs said as she heard him puff a smoke. "He doesn't remember anything about you. He had an accident, you see."

Erin couldn't reply, as Derek suddenly grabbed the phone away from her ear. "I can speak for myself," he said to Jacobs, before abruptly ending the call. When he placed it down, he saw fire in her eyes.

"Erin-"
"It's Christina." She said to him. "Erin Grey is dead."
"I see." He nodded. Then he looked up.
"Temporary Selective Amnesia," he said immediately. "That's what I have, Christina."
Her eyes widened for a second, and then she looked away.
"...And?" She said to him, "and what of it?"
After she spoke, he looked restless at once, and his fists turned into tight balls, like a child trying to say something but couldn't learn how. It almost made her feel bad.

Erin didn't intend to sound too indifferent with him, but after seeing him with Vienna, after he had failed to recognize her so many times, she ended up being afraid, so afraid of rejection.

The man in front of her was like a completely different person-someone who doesn't know her, someone who could easily hurt her.

"I didn't choose to forget, you see," he continued. "I want you to know that. I want you to know that I didn't deliberately try to dismember pieces of my life, that," he paused, "I didn't forget because I wanted to."

When he finished talking, she felt water linger in her eyes.
"Erin..." he tried to hold her hand, but she quickly took them off the table to rub her eyes.

"Funny, isn't it, Dr. Matthews?" Her voice croaked. "Why is it that we always find ourselves this way?" She was starting to feel pathetic.Why?
Because no matter how much she rubs her eyes, the tears wouldn't stop.
Because no matter how much she tries to be happy, bad things always happen.

"Do you know who I am?" she looked at him in the eyes.
He nodded. "Your name is-"
"-I know that you know my name, but that wasn't my question," she looked away. " If the former chief hadn't called me here, would you have known who I am? Would you have cared?"

He didn't respond.

"Every time things go well for us, there would always be something, or someone trying to get into our way. And now," she gasped, "even your brain wouldn't let me in," she started shaking her head, her vision blurred from her tears.

Funny, but Erin felt like she had experienced this exact moment before too. And now, she's tired of it. This game of cat and mouse, of hurting and leaving and loving and hoping - it stops now.

"Hey, Derek. Why don't we just stop trying to acknowledge each other's existence?" She faced him, "Why don't we just pretend the other doesn't exist? After all, you were already doing just fine without me, weren't you?"

Suddenly, he slammed the table.

"LIKE HELL I COULD DO THAT!" He cried out. "Fuck, it's not that easy, Erin." He looked at his fist.
Erin saw blood.

"You're right. I have no idea who you are. What you were to me before, how we met, how we talked to each other," he looked at her, "I have no idea if we have ever talked to each other without making the other feel like complete trash."
Erin felt like dying.
She knew it. He really doesn't know. He really doesn't.

She stood up to leave, to run away somewhere and to forget everything, but he immediately caught her hands and pulled her down.

She tried to move, but instead Derek took her left hand and placed it on his chest.
"But no matter how I think about it,something inside me just won't allow you to disappear from my sight," he continued.

When she tried to move again, his grip on her tightened.
" Stay with me," he ordered her. " Stay with me until I sort things out. I may not know you now, but I just can't pretend that your existence never crossed mine."

Don't let me forget you.

He walked away from his seat, and suddenly he knelt down beside her, his head almost reaching her feet.
"It's you," he said quietly.
"It's me?"
"The one I met at the bar. The one I met at the party. And now," he whispered, "No woman had ever occupied my thoughts this much until now."He shook his head. "If it's you, I can believe it. I can believe everything Jacobs told me. I can believe you."

Erin moved backwards. "But you don't have to force yourself. You don't have to do this for old time's sake, you don't-"

"If fate forbids us from being together," he interrupted, "I'll keep fighting. I'll do everything, so please don't give up on me too."

Finally, she got it.

Erin had been the stubborn one all this time. She hadn't done anything from the beginning to solve their problems.

It had always been him.
Derek was the one mending all her broken pieces; he had always been the one trying to make things work. Even now, when he doesn't remember her, his feelings were still livid in trying to help the girl that's been trying to desperately stay away from him. So now, what will she do?

She touched the nape of his head.
"Your hair is still soft," she said simply. She touched it once more, until his fingers caught her hand. He raised his head, and she quietly touched the wide forehead she used to make fun of. She slid her finger down to those long lashes she was jealous of, to those warm cheeks she would use as hand warmers, and to those lips, the same one that made her heart flutter since they were in high school.

For the first time in a very long time, she smiled from the bottom of her heart.
"Okay," she whispered to the world. I won't give up this time.
I won't.
Not anymore.
Then, she met his eyes.
Quickly, Derek had pulled her down to him- and they kissed, a good twenty seconds and more.
Team Derek or Team Gary?
Gary!
Derek!
Senator Dunkley
New character
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Published: 3/17/2015
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