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A Third Chance at First Love - Chapter Thirteen

The second arc. Separated once, separated again. When childhood lovers are caught between a conspiracy years in the making, will they find another chance to be together? Or will they finally give up?
Summary

Five years ago, eighteen-year-old Erin Grey found her childhood friend turned lover Derek Matthews in the arms of another woman, in the same day she found out about her mother's car accident. Unable to hold herself together, she ran away to Canada to stay with her only living relatives.

Now an established journalist at twenty-three, she finds herself back in New York, where she had the displeasure of meeting the twenty-six-year old hunk, now the head of General Surgery and the next Head Chief.

At first she hesitated, cursing him through the very depths of her soul. It took awhile before she realized that no matter how much of a bastard he was to her, she loved him. It could have been a peaceful way to finish their love story, but as fate had changed its course - Erin Grey is found dead the next day.

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Chapter Thirteen

"Lights out, Wilfred." Derek said to the old man who insisted he would watch a few more episodes of his favorite sitcom. The nurses were having a hard time putting him to sleep at nine, so they were glad to see the Chief in the midst of his night shift - the only time in his schedule where he could walk around the hospital to check the patients personally.

"Ah, so they told on me." The seventy-year-old man groaned. "Ten more minutes?"

"I'll give that to you," Derek said as he stretched his arms, "but only if you give me that case of beer you got hiding under your bed."

Wilfred laughed boisterously. He didn't think anyone had noticed the case of Molson Canadian beer he got one of his men to bring. "Am I in trouble, Chief?"

Derek looked at his watch, shrugged his shoulders, and then grabbed himself a can before sitting on the chair beside the old man's bed. "I'm done being the Chief for the day," he said, "but none for you."
He popped it open and drank the whole can in one go, so fast that Wilfred could only watch him.

"You seem to have something on your mind, Chief." Wilfred said, amazed.

"I have everything on my mind," Derek said, "it feels like hell sometimes."

"I could only imagine." Wilfred said to him as he tried to steal a can of his own stack, only for his hand to be slapped away by Chief. He sighed, and settled for a can of orange juice. "Being in charge of this big ass hospital might blow up my mind. Just owning a factory is hard enough, but a hospital? It's lawsuit after lawsuit if you aren't careful."

Derek nodded.

"Got a girlfriend to get your mind off things?" Wilfred grinned. "My wife's a hag, but I wouldn't mind keeping the woman for maybe a couple of years more." The old man snickered like a child who just learned a funny word.

"She's somewhere, hiding from me. I just have to find her," Derek said as he fainted a low laugh. "Right now I spend my time in a downtown condo with a border collie named Flash."

Wilfred tried to think about the somewhat vague answer the doctor gave him, but settled with it being a joke and ignored it.

"Still better than living with my wife."

Afterwards, Derek left the room with the case of beer he confiscated from the old man. He went to the front desk to hand it over.
"Third one for the week," one of the nurses groaned.

"He sure does keep the nights here alive." Derek said to them, and they nodded. He looked at his watch one more time before deciding to call it a day. He realized that had been up for forty-eight straight hours now, although he doesn't seem all that tired at all. It's got to be the coffee.

"Have a safe night, girls." He said to the nurses before heading towards the parking lot. Grabbing his keys from his pocket, he pointed it towards a silver Lexus - the best of its kind.

As he drove, he rolled his windows down to feel the cool night air that New York had to offer. Copped up at the hospital doing paperwork, surgeries and optional night duties (which he does anyway) kept him busy everyday, and whenever he finished, he would find himself walking out under a blinding morning sun. It has been awhile since he left at night, and he knew New York was best at night - as someone told him, "It's when all adventures begin."
Now, if he could only remember who it was.

"Hey, bud."
He waved playfully to the 50-kg Border collie who spotted him in the glass window. As he was opening the door to his apartment, Flash sat down and waited for his owner to come in.
"Good boy." He patted the dog. "Let's thank Jordan for visiting for those treats," he said as he patted the collie's bloated belly. "Ease off a little though, you're getting fat."
Flash licked his hand in response.

Derek stood up after putting food on the dog's bowl and headed to the kitchen to make himself some coffee. As he sat down, he noticed a pile of mail stacked in the middle of his kitchen table.
He also noticed that the door to his veranda was open. Someone had come in.

"Leave," he said sternly without looking back.

"Huh, why?" The voice purred, her stilettos ringing every corner of the room as she walked towards him. Flash gave her a low growl before Derek pushed him towards the bedroom.
The Border collie didn't like that woman much. Neither did his owner.
"Now, why would I leave," the woman surrounded his neck with her arms, her freshly-manicured fingers grabbing the nape of his neck, "-when I'm your fiancé?"

She tilted his head and pushed her lips to his, tongue included. She didn't stop until a few seconds later, where she slowly pulled away to look into his eyes. "You're mine, you know."

"I didn't agree to this," he said; spatting the words in her direction. "You know just as much, Vienna."

She turned around with a lopsided grin, her fingers fiddled with the contents of her purse. She took out a purple envelope, which she placed on the glass table beside him.
"Well you better start," said Vienna, "there's a garden party tomorrow night, and we're BOTH invited," she emphasized the word. "Daddy's friends are going to be looking for you, and if you're not there," she looked at him; almost distasteful, "I'll kill you."

She walked away, closing the door with a big slam.

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Erin sat on the edge of the bar counter, a glass of martini in her hand.

She arrived back in New York last night with Aris. She never planned to stay in Toronto after all, since she only came there to fulfill her mother's orders.
Erin hasn't left her condo for anything but work lately, but tonight she found some time to be alone.

"Don't go out with strangers," warned Aris as she plopped herself on the couch to watch some Netflix. "Your mom won't be back until next week, so we can afford to relax a little."

She stared at the olive inside at the glass as it fumbled to move every time she turned it. She turned in again, and this time it landed on the floor.

Erin's mind ran back to the first time she spoke to her mother; where she finally realized what was really happening.

"I faked my death to be able to move around freely under those people's radar," her mother explained three days after she woke up. "I'm not a good mother for leaving you, but it was what I had to do."

"Who..." Erin shivered, her brain unable to understand everything she was seeing. She was cold - both inside and out. Her mother, the same one whose lifeless body she saw five years ago from a car accident. The same woman who didn't give two cents about her daughter's birthdays, the same one who never really acted like a mother to begin with. Irina Grey was sitting across from her, and she was telling her daughter that she faked her own death.

At first, Erin didn't know what to say. She breathed for a second, and finally looked into those cold, heartless-looking eyes until words escaped from her mouth.

"Who are the people you're trying to fight with?" She asked her mother. "Does this have anything to do with dad, or who you guys were before?" Erin looked around to find the redheaded girl, now her good friend, looking intently at them.

The Invisible Guardians, Erin repeated in her mind.

Irina looked at the girl all the while, surprised that she actually caught even a whiff of suspicion. True, she wasn't a great mother. But Harold was different.

"Yes." Irina, too, took a breather. She never once thought about showing herself to her daughter after all these years, but things have gotten worse, and there was not much choice left in the table but to reveal her own past, the one that decided to come back and haunt everyone else.

"Before we got married," Irina said to her, "your father was an assassin."

"An assassin..." Erin's eyes widened. The fact that she didn't even know assassins actually existed in real life was already big news to her, but after witnessing the group of men hired to kill Gary, it wasn't surprising anymore.

But what she couldn't imagine was that her own father, Harold James Grey, would be one of them.

To her, he was the Sun. He smiled all the time, his words were kind, his embraces were warm, and he provided all the love and affection her mother could not. While her mother flied out of the country every month, her father busied himself in the flower shop they once owned. She remembered those thick pair of glasses that hanged around his neck with the help of a silver band, and she even remembered his shiny head.

Erin remembered the man who provided the love of two.

"Your father and I met in... um..." Irina tried to mumble, Erin looking with confusion.

"They met at a bar," Aris interrupted, afterwards regretting her decision. "It is common knowledge here in the headquarters."

"...Oh." Erin stopped herself from almost smiling. Who knew her mother would actually go to one.

"It was for a mission," Irina glared at Aris, who quickly retreated to the other room.

Erin continued to listen as Irina talked with her face almost the color of ripe tomatoes. Her mother told her that her father had asked her out after the night they first met, and eventually their relationship came to a point where they had to reveal themselves to each other to give chance for the other one to back away if it was too much to handle.

"Kinda like Romeo and Juliet," said Aris from the other room. Irina closed the door.

"I was one of the founders of the Invisible Guardians," Irina explained. "Your father came from an organization in Britain. The people I protect were the ones he kill," she continued.

Erin nodded, fascinated. To think the same hands he used to make bread were the ones he held knives and guns with.

"We tried to kill each other for an entire month," Irina almost laughed, and Erin watched her mother transform into another person.
A happy person.

"On the last day, he asked me to marry him. I said 'yes'."

Irina explained that afterwards her father left his organization, and she left hers. For a few years they led a simple life; Erin was conceived after their first anniversary.

"And then I turned four," said Erin, her palms getting sweaty. "Mom, why did dad die?"

"They were forcing your dad to hand you over to be trained like him," said Irina. "I was away, and it was you two alone." Irina grabbed a piece of paper from her pocket. "He sent you away to a colleague of mine, and fought the group of men who came to the house thinking you were there."

Harold was outnumbered, and he was killed after a strike to the head. Because of her mother's treatment of her in childhood, she held a tight grip on those memories with her father when she was young. She remembered Irina telling her that her dad had gone away with another woman instead of "dead," so Erin merely hid those memories. But she never forgot them.

"When I knew you were old enough to be left alone, I decided it was time for me to do my own investigation," said Irina. " I'm sorry, Erin."

Erin merely nodded in response.

"But how did you know about... us?" Said Irina, almost careful not to give everything away.

"There were men who often visited the house after you left," said Erin. "They wanted you or dad, but I told them you were both dead." Erin looked around the room, "They didn't seem to believe me, and so I started to wonder."

Irina looked at her daughter, listening to the sound of her monotonous voice as she spoke of her own parent's death."
It sounded cold.

"I know who killed your father, but I need your help." Irina held her hand. Erin wanted to push her away, knowing that if she didn't need her then she would never rise from the grave.

"What do you want?" Erin said to her.

"Michael Dean," said Irina. "I need you to help me get rid of him."

Erin's eyes widened. "Dean..." she whispered the word... "He's Gary's grandfather."

Irina's eyes lit up. " Then you can do it, right?"

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Erin's martini spilled on the ground.

"Shit."

As she bent down to pick up the glass, someone sad beside her. She realized the glass had rolled in between his oxford shoes, so she bent up to ask for it, but when the man turned around, Erin froze.

"Yes?" Said the man who looked at her, surprised from the sudden poke on the side.

"Do you mind passing me the martini glass beside your shoes," she asked him, "I dropped it."

The man smiled back, and grabbed it in one swift motion. "Be careful. That's precious."

He handed it to her, and she gave it back to the bartender.

"Hey," Erin turned her chair around to face the man who had just received his glass of scotch. "Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?"

The man tilted his head, seriously thinking for an answer.

"Brunettes. Definitely brunettes." He looked at her, "no offense though," he said as he took a peek of her golden blonde hair.

She dyed it last month.

"What a liar," said Erin as she got up from her seat. "Your fiance's blonde."

She left the bar and started running to her car. Meeting Derek wasn't in her agenda today, but there he was.

And just as she suspected, he doesn't remember her.

Not remembering her meant that he decided to forget about her, and to live a more quieter life than the one she has.
Her mother told her this when she first arrived at the headquarters: Derek was given two choices - to help her, or to forget her.

She could just imagine him saying 'yes' so eagerly, afterwards realized how troublesome being involved with Erin really was. Either way, she knew it now.

He chose the latter.

She looked up at the night sky, a full two minutes, before she went inside her car and drove away.
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Published: 12/22/2014
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