By this time, the police arrived at Sandra Steven’s home. The door was ajar and apparently the security monitors were not on or working. As they pulled out their pistols and called Sandra’s name, they went from room to room until they reached the bedroom. There in the middle of the bed were two bodies whose sheets were full of blood. As the officer pulled the sheet down and sought identification, it was apparent that both Sandra Stevens and Jon St. Clair had been shot while they were asleep. And from what was stated by Ken, he obviously had killed them thinking Jon was Carlisle.
Brice immediately contacted Betsy St. Claire to let her know. She said she would bring Gigi to the house immediately. Brice indicated that it may not be a good idea because it is not something that neither Gigi nor she should see. He explained that they apparently were dead for over twenty-four hours and that Kent was at the hospital while Carlisle was in the OR fighting for his life. He suggested that instead she and Gigi should go directly to the hospital where Kent was. He stated that Kent did not yet know and that she should probably wait for the police to tell him. Betsy explained that she had known the Stevens family for years and that she would advise Kent when she arrived at the hospital.
In the meantime various police cars including the homicide detectives made their way into the house. Brice contacted his family to tell them that he was fine and his wife advised that she would pick him up from the Steven’s home.
As Betsy and Gigi arrived at the hospital, Kent realized immediately there was a problem. Gigi ran up to him and was crying uncontrollably. He looked at Betsy and said “Jon and my mother are dead, aren’t they”.
“Yes, they apparently were killed in their sleep over twenty-four hours ago. Although Kent tried to console Gigi, she became extremely angry telling him that if he had not become involved with Atari, none of this would have happened. He realized that in part, what she was stating was true . Yet he did love Atari but felt this was a very large price to pay.
It had been over six hours before the surgeon came into the waiting room. Within an hour of Carlisle being taken into the OR, another surgeon from Grand Forks had been taken into the OR as well. Kent was concerned because the surgeon who stood before him looked very dismal. He said “Your father is in critical condition but we have removed the bullet which fortunately had just missed his heart.”
“Will he be alright” Kent asked nervously.
“We will not know for another twenty-four hours. His situation is very poor because he lost a great deal of blood. You must also prepare yourself. The bullet was very near to your father’s spine and it may have caused damages as well. In other words, your father may suffer some paralysis and be unable to walk, but we will closely monitor him. He is currently resting and we may only hope for the best.”
“May I see him?” Kent asked.
“Yes, but he is resting in ICU and he will be unable to speak to you” he said.
Betsy and Gigi hugged Kent and advised that they would now be going to the morgue to make a formal identification.
It was then that Madeline and Atari arrived. One could see where both had been crying for hours. Both women indicated how sorry they were that Carlisle was shot. When Atari touched Kent’s arm he flinched and moved away from her.
Madeline then went up to Kent and asked how Carlisle was. He told her that his father was in critical condition and they were not assured he would walk again. She asked whether she may see Carlisle. “Well I am going there now Madeline. I know you loved my father but I ask that you remain in the waiting room. I would like to be alone with him before I view my mother’s body in the morgue.”
“Oh Kent, I am so sorry to hear about your mother and Jon St. Clair. I could never have imagined that Ken would have killed them.
“Under the circumstances, Madeline, your family reminds me of the loss of my family. And, I would think it would be better if you would leave us alone” he stated firmly.
“Kent, you cannot mean that she may not see your father” Atari asked as she touched him on the shoulder. “They have been close friends all of their life.”
“And look what that friendship did to my family, Atari. I really cannot handle looking at either of you at this time and Madeline, if you wish to see father, you will have to wait until I leave” he said.
Atari then stated “I am certain you do not mean that Kent. Both Madeline and I love your father. We could not have anticipated what happened.”
“It doesn’t matter how you feel. I have just lost one of my parents and the other is in critical condition. I fear that every time I look at the two of you, it will be a constant reminder. I’m sorry, but I cannot deal with anything more” he said.
At that moment Atari slipped the ring off of her finger and told Kent that she understood. She handed him the ring before he made his way toward the direction of the ICU and his father.
Madeline placed Atari in her arms and allowed her to sob. “It will be okay, Atari. Kent has much on his mind and one could understand where our family was the cause.” Soon it was noticed that Kent passed them in the waiting room, obviously on his way to the morgue. He said nothing but made his way directly out of the door.
Madeline went into Carlisle’s room. She kissed him on the cheek and started to weep. “Darling, Darling, I am so sorry this happened to you. I love you and I hope you will come back to us. She then sat by his bed holding his hand in hers.
At least an hour went by and it appeared Carlisle had awakened “Madeline, I am happy you’re here. Please don’t leave me” he said.
“I will never leave you Carlisle. I am here and I will stay with you for however long it takes. Please get some rest. Kent will be here soon and he has been with you from the time you were shot. I am so sorry” she said as she cried aloud.
Carlisle held her hand tightly as he again dozed off. It was then that Kent came into the room. “Madeline, I can be with father now. You can leave” he said.
As she tried to release her hand to get up, Carlisle seemed to hold it tighter. He then looked up at his son and said “Both of you stay”.
“Okay father” and he placed a chair on the other side of the bed, not really looking at Madeline.
Atari had waited for what seemed to be hours in the waiting room and finally Madeline came out to her. “Sweetheart, why don’t you go to the hotel to be with Adelaide? I promised Carlisle I would remain here with him.”
Just at that moment Brice arrived with his wife and asked Madeline how Carlisle was doing. She explained he was in the ICU and that she and Kent would remain with him until he was out of danger. He told her how sorry he was that he was unable to do anything to keep Carlisle from being shot.
She explained that there was nothing anyone could have done and that he should not blame himself. “It appears right now, the finger of blame is pointed to my having come back home for Atari. All this happened because of our family. Anyway Brice, I am pleased that you are okay and thank you for contacting us.”
“Madeline, surely you do not believe you had anything to do with this” said Brice. This has been a very bad day for Kent and I know him well enough that he will come around. I’m saying this because I see that Atari is no longer wearing his ring.” Atari started to cry and Tara, Brice’s wife placed her arms around her assuring her that everything would be alright in time. Brice then excused himself and said that he had a few business details to discuss with Kent. Tara stated she would walk Atari out to her car and return to the lobby.
Betsy came back to the hospital specifically to see Madeline. She gave her a hug and asked whether Madeline would like to assist her in the morning regarding the funeral arrangements for John and Sandra. She indicated that Kent seemed to be upset as was her daughter. Yet someone had to handle the arrangements. Madeline agreed and stated she would be more than happy to assist with the expenses as well as the planning.
It was then that Kent approached them. “Bets, you know that the funeral is my responsibility so why on earth would you ask Madeline? She is not married to my father and surely has nothing to do with my mother.”
“The reason you will leave this to us is because you need to be with your father Kent. Your mother has passed away and there is nothing you may do for her. I divorced Jon but I am willing to assist with the funeral as well.”
As he glared at her, she said “I know what Gigi stated to you but understand, Atari and Madeline had nothing to do with what happened here. Carlisle was Ken’s friend years prior. Who would have known that he would have become insane? I don’t blame your father for Jon’s death because after all he was an innocent victim because it was Carlisle that Ken was aiming for. It is too early for you to think clearly, but you will know that I am right when you are not grieving.”
“Okay, do what you want, but I wish to choose the memorial cards and handle some of the aspects of the service” he said.
“I will make certain the director provides you with the options. He can bring the cards to you at the hospital” Betsy said. Madeline, I will pick you up at the hotel tomorrow morning” she said as she was walking toward the exit.
“Kent, I only wish to assist you” Madeline stated. I cannot imagine the grief you are going through with the loss of your mother. And I love Carlisle and I promised him I would be here for him. I am not here to hurt you and I am so sorry that Ken hurt your family but he is never anyone that we have been able to control. It was just a matter of time and I should have recognized it when he beat Adelaide up.”
“I need time Madeline. I know that you did not do this to my father or mother. It is just that right now, it is a reminder” and then he began to sob. Madeline placed Kent in his arms and held him until he achieved composure.”
Gigi spent the night with a couple of her girlfriends. She could not face anyone at this time and she advised her mother that she did not wish to assist with the funeral services.
Adelaide and Atari had a quiet dinner at the hotel. Atari looked as though she had been crying for hours. It was then that Gigi came into the restaurant with her friends. “I thought I would find you here Atari. I hope that you are happy that your involvement with the Stevens family has not only killed Sandra but also my father. You and your trashy family must be pleased” she said with two of her friends sneering at Atari.
“Gigi, you know that I had nothing to do with your father’s death or Kent’s mother’s death. I cannot help that my father became insane. I am so sorry for your loss Gigi”. It was then that Gigi went up to Atari and slapped her across the face and then dropped her to the floor as she was pounding on her. Atari tried to fight back but Gigi’s two friends held Atari down. At Adelaide’s screams, two hotel personnel came forward and broke the fight up. Atari was bleeding from the nose with a couple of abrasions on her face. Her ribs hurt but she did not feel as though her bones were broken.
“Atari, please come with me. I will take you to emergency to have you checked over” Adelaide said. By this time Gigi and her friends had left the premises with the two restaurant personnel trailing them. Atari told them to let her go because she was grieving for the loss of her father.
Kent was still in the hospital lobby for a much needed break when Adelaide brought Atari into the emergency room. He noted that Atari looked as though she had been beat up. It was obvious she was bloodied and sported a black eye. He attempted to follow them to inquire what went wrong. Adelaide placed her arm around Atari and ignored his inquiry. They took Atari in immediately and started to check her vitals. She would require a couple of stitches where Gigi had gashed her cheek with her ring. Adelaide said if there was a scar she was certain Madeline would be able to get her to a plastic surgeon.
After seeing them go to the ER, he went directly to the ICU where Madeline sat holding Carlisle’s hand. His father’s vitals seemed to be better and he had hope that his father would come out of this in one piece. “Madeline, I just saw Adelaide bring Atari in to the ER. They would not talk to me but I feel you should know” he said.
“I’ll go immediately. Thank you Kent” and she went running down the hall toward ER. The doctor was stitching up Atari’s face when she walked in. “Darling what happened to you” and she knew Atari couldn’t answer but Adelaide would fill her in. Adelaide, I guess Ken should have been incarcerated after he beat you up. Now both the Stevens and St. Claire families are suffering and this has to stop.
“Once Atari face was stitched she finally was able to speak even with the local anesthetic. “Mother as soon as the funeral is over, I and Adelaide would like to go back to San Francisco. Although I am able to complete my classes on line, I really need a change. I believe I will take some additional modeling positions as well as soon as my face heals. At least I was able to protect it except for Gigi’s ring.”
“Oh, Sweetheart, that will be great. Whatever you wish to do is fine with me. I will make certain Pierre looks after you in my absence and perhaps for now you could move in with Adelaide so you have each other” Madeline stated.
“We have it handled. Since the apartment is closer to the campus, we will remain there. It will be like old times and I relish the time we may spend with each other. Pierre already stated the company vehicle will be at our disposal but I will probably take BART” Atari stated.
“I’m not certain I will be happy with that decision Atari. BART is public transportation and after what happened to you here, I cannot imagine why you would wish to exposure yourself further” Madeline stated.
“It will be okay Mom. My other mom will watch over me. I promise” she responded.
Since the St. Claire and the Stevens families belonged to the same church, the arrangements were made to have the services conducted at the same time. Madeline and Betsy shared the expenses equally, which included a luncheon after the service and all flowers from the family. Since both families were well known in the area, it was expected that some two-thousand relatives and friends would show up. Madeline contacted the local news media and had cameras set up at the church so that Carlisle would be able to view the funeral from his room when he became better.
Kent tried to inquire as to what happened to Atari but Madeline just told him that one of the family members was grieving and had an unfortunate physical response to Atari. He did not know until just before the service that it was Gigi who had hurt her and now that his father was better, he started to assess his actions and he was not proud of what he did to Atari. He also felt that what Gigi had done to Atari was uncalled for and was no better than what Ken did to his family. He saw the love Madeline had for his father and appreciated all she had done with his mother’s funeral arrangements. In fact she had refused any reimbursement.
Adelaide and Atari arrived at the church just before the services commenced. They had elected to remain in the back of the church and leave immediately for their trip back to San Francisco, as soon as the service concluded. They had no intention of going to the gravesite or the luncheon. The problem was that not only did the media assist with cameras but newscasters also photographed those going inside. Atari was asked how she received the gash on her cheek and she just smiled and said she was clumsy. She and Adelaide refused to comment on any questions raised about Atari’s father. They only stated they were removed from him and that they were so sorry that this travesty happened.
Gigi had joined Kent at the front of the church whereas Madeline was seated with Betsy at least ten pews behind. Atari felt that this happened for a reason and that Kent and Gigi probably belonged together. She would make a new life no matter how difficult it would be at first. And anyway, what could be better than starting a new life in San Francisco. As her thoughts waivered from the service, a friend pushed her way into their pew. “Atari, I am sorry that I did not come to see you earlier. I am so sorry all of this happened to you” said Susan. Atari gave her a hug and Susan held her hand throughout the balance of the service.
By the time the families travelled to the grave sites and returned to the luncheon, Atari and Adelaide were enroute to San Francisco. Kent looked for Atari but could not find her. He finally approached Madeline. “Where is Atari? I thought she would be here” he said.
“Kent, she attended the funeral but felt it was best she left for San Francisco. This entire situation hurt her and Adelaide as well and she needed to get back to San Francisco so she could start healing” Madeline stated.
“It was because of me, wasn’t it? I did not let her in and it was my fault. You know I still love her Madeline?” he said.
“I know Kent, but this entire situation was difficult for everyone. Each of you will require some time and she felt that you probably will need to console Gigi since you each lost a parent” she said.
“Well I guess she lost one as well. What will happen with Ken?” he asked.
“Adelaide contacted his family and they will have a private service for him. His mother is still alive and my understanding is that since Atari refused the house, it will go to his mother to pay for his funeral expenses” she said.
“I really blew it with Atari and I hope that someday she will forgive me” he said.
“I am certain she will. But for now, this memory of what her father has done has broken her down. I told Adelaide to watch over her and if she needed a psychologist to speak to, Pierre could assist in recommending one” Madeline stated.
“I never even considered how she would feel about what happened. I am such an ass” he said.
“No, you just had a lot on your mind, Kent. I cannot imagine how difficult this entire thing was for you. I will feel better when your father starts recuperating as will you. Just remember, I will help you in whatever manner I can.”
“Madeline, it is none of my business but Brice Safranski told me that Carlisle had mentioned to Ken that you were raped. Is that how Atari came to be born?” he asked.
“Yes Kent and your father was the one who found me after I had been beaten to submission. He always checked on me and believed in me even though my parents did not. We always loved each other but I was younger than him and I was not even dating age when he was engaged to your mother. But we need to talk to our guests. This matter is old and I need to go forward from this day myself.”
“Well join me Madeline, as he extended his elbow so that she could place her arm through.
Three months had gone by and although Carlisle had to again learn how to walk, Madeline was at his side daily. In fact Kent felt that her being there made his father try harder to impress her. He watched as the two of them held each other up through every trial and tribulation. His father appreciated that Madeline had provided him a video of the funeral.
Madeline had the Stevens’ home cleaned professionally and because it would be difficult to sell the home at this time due to the homicide, Kent elected to reside there with his father and Madeline. The home was his as the natural child of Sandra. Each day Madeline pushed Carlisle in the wheel chair down the drive for a walk in the country and to visit neighbors. She also purchased a van which had handicap lifts for wheel chair accessibility. She not only took him shopping but also to the drive-in movies. On the weekends, they would go to the casino for some mild gambling and a romantic dinner. In spite of his physical challenges, Kent had never seen his father happier. The two of them could be seen kissing and cuddling as she sat on his lap of the wheel chair.
He regretted having to turn down the job in San Francisco, but once they had known the reason, they advised him that the job would be open any time that he decided to move there. Right now he was pleased that Brice was at his side as President and realized his father had made an excellent choice in both Brice Safranski and Ron Kaminski. When they required advice, Madeline could be seen in the factory wheeling Carlisle to the board room. She would frequently steal Susan for a quick luncheon and it seemed as though the supervisors just looked the other way.
As for Atari, she was a hit with her commercials for Victoria Secrets. It also landed her a small part in a film. Surprisingly the director felt she had great potential and soon she had an agent. She still took on-line courses but found that that her time was becoming far more difficult to manage when she had to travel to Los Angeles.
Adelaide also became a right hand person to Celia Wolf and Pierre. Her designs were much similar to Atari’s which everyone found surprisingly refreshing. Her relationship with Mr. Levine continued.
When in Los Angeles, Atari was escorted by Trax Kemp, one of the new hottest males in films. Although it was for publicity purposes, they were publicized as the new and upcoming couple. Yet, even when he kissed her, it did not feel the same as Kent kissing her and she felt that she would be soon labeled the “Iron Maiden” like her aunt. Yet for the cameras she tried but Trax knew he did not stand a chance with her but since he also was fickle and metro-sexual as well, it did not matter. For the present, the relationship was comfortable.
It now had been six months since the shooting in Minnesota and Atari seemed to be enjoying her acting roles. She kept extremely busy so that she would not have to think about Kent. She had heard that Gigi and her mother had moved to Florida where Gigi was attending college. She knew that Kent was handling his father’s affairs at the factory but she received no word from Susan or his friends as to whether he was dating anyone.
She had just completed the film and was pleased to go home. She hadn’t lived in her apartment for months and looked forward to some leisure time. As she made her way down the hall, she noticed someone in an overcoat and hat was standing at her door. Upon seeing Atari, the man came toward her.
“Who are you and why are the lights dim on this floor. I will call security if you make one additional step toward me.” she said.
“It is me, Atari, Kent. I heard you would be arriving back home today and I waited for you hoping that I may have a word with you” he said.
“Why? I do not believe we have anything more to say to each other. It was all said in Minnesota. Remember?”, she said.
“Atari, I have regretted my actions for all of these months. Yet, I had no choice but to remain in Minnesota to assist in running my father’s company. I love you and I have never stopped loving you. Please Atari, could you forgive me?”
“Kent, there is nothing to forgive. Each of us had a part in this entire situation and I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to lose a mother and to almost lose your father at the hands of my father.”
Atari, I had not realized what had transpired with your mother and Ken. And Ken was my father’s best friend at one time. It was not yours, Madeline’s or Adelaide’s fault and he was just a bad seed who did not care for his family. I realized how wrong I was when I remembered how Adelaide had been beaten by his hand and then Gigi violated you. It was my fault for not protecting you Sweetheart and please, let me know if I may again have a chance with you?” he asked.
“Kent, there has never been a day when I have not thought about you and what we had. My question to you is whether you may be able to forget and forgive this entire situation so that we may enjoy a life together without regret” she asked.
“The only regret I would have is if you will not accept my hand in marriage Atari. I cannot live without you and I love you so much. Will you marry me?” he asked.
Atari stood there for a moment searching his eyes and then began to cry. He took her in his arms and placed kisses on her head and face. He kissed away her tears until she achieved composure. “I love you Kent and I have always loved you. Yes I will marry you.” The passion of the immediate circumstances made it difficult for them to open the door to the apartment, much less removing all of their clothing so they could make their way into the bedroom. They remained there for two days before a call was made to Madeline and Carlisle announcing their new plans.
Carlisle had made a breakthrough of his own and could now walk with a cane. Madeline and he went shopping on-line for various canes which looked distinguished. Kent was extremely pleased and asked Madeline whether she and his father would join Atari and him in Las Vegas where they intended to be wed. He said that thereafter, they all could go to Paris for a honeymoon. “But I supposed I should speak to father about this. You know the Stevens’ men. They have to at least feel they are in charge, even if they are not. It was then that Kent heard his father’s voice through the speaker phone. “It’s about time son. Madeline and I thought we would never get to have a double wedding if the two of you did not come to your senses. I noticed you took a commercial flight to Frisco. Does that mean you wish for us to take your plane to San Francisco?
You’ve got it father. Let me know when you will arrive and I will make certain you are picked up at the airport. We can spend a couple of days in San Francisco and then to directly to Las Vegas. I will get us the appropriate suites at the Bellagio and we can plan our trip to Paris while in Las Vegas. Atari feels she can get us rooms at the hotel she stayed at in Paris week…yet Madeline would have more of a grasp on that as would Pierre.
“Well son, we will pack and be there in a couple of days. Now you two stay out of trouble” and he and Madeline laughed
“Although there are many trials and tribulations, it is nice to finally be with one’s soul mate” Kent stated as Atari kissed him in agreement.