True to his word, Barnabas
returned to Sarah's room early the next morning, and was telling
her about the Old House when Angelique opened the door.
Hearing Barnabas' voice, she paused, choosing not to make her
presence known, and stood listening to the conversation.
"It sounds wonderful," Sarah sighed. "I've never really had a home - a real one, anyway. Mother travelled so much that my vacations from school were always spent in hotel rooms or rented apartments. I'm not complaining, of course. I had Mother, and I know that models have to travel. Then the last year, I've been in and out of hospitals -"
"Hasn't your mother been travelling this last year?"
"Oh, no. They asked her to go, but she stayed with me. I'm sure she's worried about how expensive my illness is -"
Angelique thought it a good time to interrupt, and entered the room, a smile on her face for Sarah. "Good morning, darling." She kissed her daughter warmly.
"Have you two been having a nice chat, getting acquainted?"
"Oh, yes, Mother. Father's been telling me all about the house he lives in. I can't wait to see it."
"Have you been here long, Barnabas?"
"About an hour," he confirmed, his eyes watching her closely.
"He was here when I woke up," Sarah said. She was sensitive to the tension between her parents, and hoping to dispel it, she said, "I'm getting a little tired, though. I think I need to rest."
"Of course," Angelique agreed, smoothing the covers. "I'll be back later."
"So will I," Barnabas assured her, placing a kiss on her forehead. "Later."
In the corridor, Angelique turned to him, eyes flashing with anger. "You had no right telling her about the Old House."
"I thought she should know abut it, since she's going to be living there."
"I haven't agreed to that," Angelique reminded him.
Barnabas looked around. "We can't talk here. Come with me."
She hesitated. "Where are we going?"
"To my office at the shipyard."
The office he spoke of was filled
with antiques, and Angelique found it very easy to picture Barnabas
working at the heavy oak desk, or standing at the large, many-paned
window over looking the now quiet yards. Against one wall,
stood an early American sofa in brown tweed, with a matching chair
at a right angle. "I like your office," she said.
It suits you."
"Thank you. Sit down." He indicated the sofa and crossed to the bookcase built into the wall. Sliding open a door to reveal a modern coffee machine, he stood for a moment looking at it. "I can't offer coffee. Janet, my secretary, usually has it ready for me to simply turn it on. She left early yesterday, and apparently forgot."
"No doubt she expected to come in early on Monday and have it ready for you," Angelique guessed. "If you'd like, I can make some coffee."
She smiled at his surprised expression. "I'm not helpless, Barnabas. I've learned how to get along without my powers. You sit down and I'll take care of everything." She rose and set to work, knowing that he was watching her every move.
"I spoke to Elizabeth last night," he said.
"What did you tell her?" She turned on the coffee maker and came to sit down again, listening as he gave her a brief recap of the story.
"I think we should work out the details between us so that when you see her -"
"Of course." She noticed that the coffee was ready and poured two cups, then took them across to give Barnabas one.
"Thank you." He sat back, sipping the hot liquid, seemingly relaxed. "Are you ready to talk?"
"Yes. What was the name of the friend who introduced us?"
"James," Barnabas supplied.
"And what was a poor, struggling model doing at his party?"
"That is a good question," Barnabas said.
"Perhaps - if James was involved in the publishing business and I had just done some work for his agency -?"
"That will work. And he invited you to the party to introduce me to the most beautiful woman he had ever seen."
"And when we met?" Angelique asked, intending to find out about their decision to marry.
Barnabas looked at her over his cup. "I agreed with is estimation."
Angelique quickly placed her own cup on the table, hoping he couldn't see how his comment had affected her. "Did I meet your father before we eloped?"
"No. He refused to see you."
"And where was the family estate located?"
"Northern England. Not far from Scotland."
"What was it called?"
"The house was known as Collins House. We owned a small shipyard on the coast, my mother had been dead for several years, my father and I were not close, and I had no other family."
"You told her the story about Nicholas and Cassandra, I assume?"
"Yes. I also told her that your mother had been married more than once, and always to wealthy men."
Angelique's eyes flashed once again, and she rose to go to the window. "You're determined to make me look like a fortune hunter, aren't you?"
"It's only a story, Angelique," he said, about to tell her that he knew she had never married him for his money, but she spoke again.
"How am I going to face Mrs. Stoddard?"
"I'm sure you'll have no trouble. I believe that Elizabeth is rather sympathetic to you for some reason."
"Of course she is. She's a mother. She understands-"
Barnabas cut her off. "Shall we continue?"
Angelique returned to her seat. "You seem to be in charge."
"I am. The report my father received contained names and dates of when you were seen with other men, all wealthy, but no concrete evidence."
"Thank you for THAT, at least."
He inclined his head. "When I ordered you from the house, where did you go?"
"Into London, to friends there. I suppose I hoped you would reconsider, but when your attorney contacted me, I realized what a foolish hope that was. Then I -"
"Then you discovered that you were pregnant."
"Yes. I signed the annulment papers and went to Paris. Sarah was born there, and afterwards, I began receiving offers to work that enabled me to hire a nurse to take care of her. Then an assignment sent me back to England, and I saw you again."
"Why didn't you tell me about Sarah then?"
"I thought about it - until I realized that you still thought the worst of me. I knew you'd fight me for Sarah and what hope did I have of winning?"
"So. You made the decision to raise our daughter without any help. from me. What about Rumsen?"
"I never told him. Sarah was in school, and I planned to tell him, but I discovered his connection to Nicholas and the marriage ended. When I returned to Paris, Sarah was ill."
"And you began turning down assignments."
His eyes were on her again, and again Angelique went to the window. "Sarah needed me with her. Not across the continent."
"I'm sure Rumsen's estate left you well provided for."
"Yes," she said quickly. "I'd better be getting back over to the hospital. Maybe Julia has some news." She returned the empty cup to the alcove. "Are you coming with me?"
"Not right now. I'll be along in a while. There are some things I have to clear up here."
He waited until the outer door closed before going to the telephone and dialing a number. Ten minutes later, Barnabas was on his way out when the telephone rang. "Hello?"
"Barnabas, it's Elizabeth. I called the hospital, and they told me you had gone over to the office. I think you should bring Angelique here to dinner this evening."
He sighed. "I had planned to spend the evening at the Old House."
"Roger won't be back until tomorrow," she reminded him.
"I'll ask her," he promised.
She was alone in Julia's office
when he entered. "Where is Julia?"
"In the lab. Sarah's still sleeping."
He hesitated for a moment. "I have an invitation for you from Elizabeth. She asked me to invite you to dinner this evening."
"And you disapprove," she said, noting his grim expression.
"Of your having dinner at Collinwood? No. I simply hadn't planned on being there when you spoke to Elizabeth. But now that I think about it, I'm beginning to think it might be for the best. That way I can keep an eye on you. Make sure you don't try to put anything over on Elizabeth."
Angelique was on her feet instantly. "Why you - You are the most infuriating-. I don't want to put anything over on any of your family. And I resent your implying otherwise. As much as I've tried to deny it, you ARE Sarah's father, and she IS a Collins. I've no intention of using any of the Collins family every again. Especially Sarah. I love
my daughter, as hard as that may be for you to believe -"
Julia heard the raised voice in the corridor and didn't bother to knock before entering. "Do you mind? This IS a hospital, remember? Whatever you're arguing about I suggest you do it somewhere else." She sat down. "Now, do you want to do that - or hear what I've found?"
"You've found something?" Angelique asked, sitting before the desk as her knees became shaky.
"I did a specialized blood culture yesterday. It's something that most doctors wouldn't have thought to do. Only my personal experience led to me conduct this particular test. There's a virus in Sarah's bloodstream that is attacking her system from inside."
"Can you stop it?" Barnabas asked.
"I'll try to isolate a serum," Julia said. "I can assure you both that it's not a form of cancer."
"Thank God for that," Barnabas breathed.
"Yes. Poor Sarah," Angelique said. "She's such a loving little girl. She's never done anything to deserve this."
Barnabas' voice was barely audible as he said, "Perhaps she's being punished for our sins. Will she have to stay here, Julia?"
"Not really. The next step will be to find the serum, and I don't need her here. I can go see her at the Old House -"
"That hasn't been decided, Julia," Angelique said, sitting up straighter.
"As far as Sarah's concerned it has. After her talk with Barnabas, she's looking forward to living t the Old House."
Frustrated, Angelique murmured, "Excuse me," and hurried from the room.
Barnabas didn't move, simply stared at his hands on the top of his cane. "You're being deliberately cruel, Barnabas."
"Perhaps. But she was equally cruel to keep Sarah from me."
"I can understand her reasons - and I'm sure you will, too, once you let yourself. That love-hate relationship of yours almost destroyed you both more than once. It's not just you and Angelique any longer. Sarah will be caught in the middle and she doesn't need to be forced to choose between her mother and father right now."
"What would you suggest I do, Julia?"
"Come to terms with Angelique. Accept that Sarah is as much her daughter as she is yours."