Critical Error

I truly wish to thank all of you for tuning in and reading along with Eilea and family in Critical Error. Your varied comments have been encouraging and heartwarming.

I have a few changes and editing to do which I find exciting and stimulating (all part of the ongoing process) even as I have noted several instances here and there I wish to embellish on and others dismiss.  It’s a work in progress but fills me with constant delight.

My thought process throughout has been to entertain and provide a moment of time in which to escape for fun and even some nail-biting or edge of the seat excitement.  If I was able to provide a couple of these elements, I reached my goal.

Having said that, please stay tuned for my next novel which will begin shortly, entitled Blindsided.  It’s also about a stalker and since I’ve borrowed many of the ideas from this novel in Critical Error, please bear with me as some instances might sneak through and observable in my newest endeavour as I will attempt to re-write this as I go.  I have so many ideas and thoughts floating through my mind, I’m hoping this will be minimal, but it might happen and I ask your forbearance before I begin.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy this new idea as much as the others or more so.

Again thank you for following along.  Your continued interest made the writing and editing worthwhile.  As much was on the spot and in the moment, it was off the cuff of my thinking cap and carried much of what I intended perhaps not in the way I intended but it was fun to do.

Still working on getting Gallery of Deception ready for publishing, my life has been pretty involved of late and I haven’t had as much time to allocate to writing as I would have wished, but hopefully, soon.

Take care all, and once again, a humble thank you.

Critical Error Epilogue

They were a family.  Together they attended the hearing which was comparatively short.  Paul mentioned they were hoping to get a specific judge who took a hard line on bullying, cyber-bullying and stalking.  Not to mention shooting at cops.  They did.

Sitting quietly side by side, they listened to his conclusions.

“Your actions were depraved, base, cruel.  You refused at any time to take into account the family and friends of Eilea Martin.  You stalked her, threatened her, took her life away from her and her family.”

“On top of these actions, you premeditatedly obtained a weapon and fired on her and her family, other members of the public and law enforcement officers summoned to protect Eilea Martin and her family.  Not once, but on three separate occasions.  You cut the lines on Christina Martin’s parachute causing bodily harm that could have been far more severe.”

“At no time did you show remorse or stop your unwanted attention.  While some may feel inclined to suggest you are mentally unstable, I am not.”

“It is my ruling that you shall receive three 10 year sentences for the attempted murders  (outlined below).  I also rule 20 years directly relating to the stalking of Miss Martin. These sentences are consecutive sentences.”

“Further, you are to have absolutely no contact with Eilea Martin and or her family or anyone connected with her.  Therefore, you will not be permitted phone or internet access of any kind.  The only exception I am allowing is notification of a family emergency.  Your letters and any phone calls you are making will be vetted.”

“I would hand down a far stronger sentence if it were in my power.  Consider yourself lucky and warned.  I am placing a note on this file.  Should there be any and I repeat for your benefit, any attempt to disregard my orders, you will be dealt with accordingly.”

When the judge slammed the gavel down, it was final!  Eilea and her family felt it strongly, clearly.

As the judge rose, he turned to look at Eilea and she lifted her head and looked him directly in the eyes.  Words were not spoken but he nodded toward her and each family member before leaving the courtroom.

“Doesn’t get much better than that verdict!”  Paul stated triumphantly.

Many of his fellow officers who’d assisted in protecting Eilea’s family were also present in a show of solidarity.  As they walked passed her, she shook their hand or hugged them, whichever seemed most appropriate.

Everyone present was invited to Pauls for a massive bbq of epic proportions.  Eilea and Paul had bought dozens of ribs and cooked them in preparation for the bbq.  They had boxes of corn, potato salad and everything else a bbq should have.

By the end of the evening, they were all replete and relaxed. Suddenly from now where a massive cake arrived.  Paul Eilea and the kids stood and walked toward it.  The top said, “Welcome to the family!” and surrounding the words, a picture of Paul, Eilea, Christina and Andrew.  Around that were pictures of various co-workers.

Eilea couldn’t help it, tears filled her eyes and trickled down her cheeks.  She was too overcome with emotion to speak, but it seemed it wasn’t necessary for the joyous tears said it all.

Raising whatever glass they held, someone yelled, “Cheers!” followed by a loud and rowdy “hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray!”

Eilea and Paul crawled into bed just as the sun was coming up, tired, happy and elated.  “Well, Eilea Martin, that was a pretty great day, don’t you think?”

“Other than my children’s births, I can’t think of any I’ve enjoyed with quite such heart-felt pleasure.  Their acceptance means everything.”

“There’s one more day coming I hope will top this one.”

“Oh, and what would that be?” she asked speculatively.

“The day you walk down the aisle and say I do.”  Pulling a box he’d hidden under the pillow into view, he opened it and said, “Not traditional I know, but fitting.”

“Eilea Martin, will you do me the great honour of marrying me?”

Eilea accepted the ring, slid it on her finger, stared in delight then placing both arms around his neck said, “Seeing you survived the most rigourous of clan plans, I’d say the answer is a resounding yes!”  She kissed his lips, his eyes, his forhead and didn’t stop until he placed his hands on both side of her face.

“That’s the best yes I could have received.  Shall we tell the kids tonight?”

“No, I think we should make that a separate celebration that is all about us our family.”

“Great idea.  Now come here, I have another great idea.”  Paul winked.  He didn’t have to say anything more. They slid uner the sheets and sealed their promise to each other in the only way possible.

Critical Error 94

After spending 5 days in Hardy, Paul understood why visitors flocked to this location.  It had everything.  Serenity, solitude, beauty, activities in which to participate if desired.  He overheard many say it was a diamond in the rough.  In some ways, it was.  He saw the diamond sparkle and shine.

He had several days of holiday left and though Eilea had to work, he was content to visit, sightsee and take in some fishing.  He knew before long he’d have to return home.  That meant planning on a future, a future together with Christina, Andrew and Eilea.

Christina and Andrew were eager and although they knew it meant leaving their friends behind, it wasn’t such a distance they couldn’t travel back on holidays and long weekends and they were ok with that.  Hopefully, their positive attitude would remain.  For Christina, it wasn’t a problem, she was finished school now, moving onto bigger and better things and she said as much as she’d be leaving for university anyway.  The timing was right.  She was half considering staying with Paul and attending a local college for awhile then moving on to UVIC.  He agreed.

Andrew decided he liked the idea of starting over.  Although he’d miss his friends, he could keep in touch online and in the games they played and he was pleased to see his mother happy, that was his bottom line.

Eilea was in two minds.  On one hand, she wanted a chance with Paul.  It meant giving up her job (one she loved) and hopefully finding another.  Her kids seemed pleased with the idea and that was a great relief.

She was more than half in love with Paul already.  Everything about him was appealing.  She’d have to wrap her mind around his job which was dangerous and gave her second thoughts considering what they’d gone through, but on the other hand, it showed his grit, determination, as well as his dedication.

They’d spent every waking moment together and with each passing day, she found more to enjoy while he was open honest and she decided a rare jewel.  After dark, sitting on the deck hand in hand enjoying a beverage watching the late sunset, she had to thank her lucky stars for giving her this opportunity.  Even though they’d lived through more extraordinary circumstances than most, he’d come out on top – correction – they’d come out on top.

The court date for the trial was set and two months from now they’d be sitting in a courtroom determining a man’s fate – not just any man – a man who’d behaved abominably at best, fierce and threatening at worst.

Having come to know Paul’s friends and co-workers had also been eye-opening.  They were a group of dedicated men and women she hoped to get to know better.  There were a couple she’d grown close to and she was excited at the prospect of renewing a friendship with them both.

Owing to one critical error – a delusional miscreant and his unfounded, unwelcomed actions – she’d found a man worth knowing, and she’d taken a chance.  The best decision of her life.

Critical Error 93

Arm in arm, they left the station a spring in their step lighthearted and free at last.  Eilea breathed deeply filling her lungs with refreshing air and with unguarded enthusiasm, freedom and light.  Poignant poetic heart-wrenchingly moving.  It was a new beginning, a change for the better.

She turned and looked Paul in the eye.  “New beginnings,” she with featherlight joy.  Pulling him to a stop, she placed her hands on both sides of his face and kissed him tenderly, fervently, with a depth of emotion she’d refused to allow herself.

In doing so, she rocked him nearly off his feet.  He stood stunned staring at her, a mixture of amazed delight in his eyes and on his face.  Momentarily letting go of Christina’s hand he wrapped his arms tightly around Eilea.  “Good things often arrive when least expected and in the most surprising of ways.”

Christina and Andrew shared knowing glances.  Christina whispered, “They are both right, new beginnings, good things, surprising ways.  It’s special, seeing mom happy, truly happy.”

“I know.  Don’t think I’ve seen this degree of lighthearted happiness in her face in a long time.  I know I fought it at first.  Now I see it’s what she needs.  ‘Sides, he’s a pretty good catch.  He obviously cares.  I was scared at first, afraid she’d be hurt.  But he’s better than that.  I’m glad he made it through the “clan plan”.”

“Yeah, he is,” Christina snorted, “He did, didn’t he?”

“So what’s next?” Christina asked loudly.

“Whatever we wish!”

“Well, we’ve taken in your place, why don’t you come to ours?  We can do some hiking and show you what Hardy has to offer.”

Eilea seconded the emotion.  “I think that’s a splendid idea.  I have a few days holiday left and we can share our little corner of the world with you.”

They headed to Paul’s to pack and planned to be back in Hardy by nightfall.  He was eager to see her nest, her home, everything about Eilea her surroundings and the family.

 

 

 

Critical Error 92

“Let’s go!”  Andrew yelled, “I want to see this SOB face to face!” His face reflecting anger, his fists tightly balled he stomped toward the door.

“Not so fast, Andrew,”  Paul admonished.  “We want to take our time play this by the book.  We don’t want him slithering away on a technicality.”

For the first time since he’d met Eilea and her family, true relief and jubilation were clearly evident.  His own spirits soared too.  Wrapping his arms around Eile and the kids he said, “Finally, an opportunity to freely behave and misbehave.  I can’t wait to get this party started!”  They laughed in unison.

“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Christina promised with a wink.

“I will say, I’m relieved I’ve been a part of all this.  I’ve seen you under extremely difficult circumstances and now I want to enjoy your company free of stress and concern.  I really need to applaud both your actions and control which have been admirable throughout!  First-hand experience has shown me the opposite is often too.” He exchanged a deep heartfelt look of admiration at each one.

“Welcome to the whacky world of the Martin family.”

Paul couldn’t have wished to hear more welcome words.  “Thanks, kiddo.”

To pass the time, they cleaned and straightened before eating dinner.  An hour later Paul’s phone rang.  They were welcome to come to the office before the prisoner was placed in custody.

“We’ll be there in 10!”

Walking in unison through the front door, they were taken down a hallway leading to the interrogation rooms containing one-way glass and they got their first glimpse of the pervert who’d created such havoc.  Paul turned the speaker on so they could listen in.

“I want to see Eilea!”  He continued yelling the same refrain over and over every few minutes while the officers in the room tilted back against the wall, feet and arms crossed.  “You’ve caused Ms Martin her family and friends enough grief.”

Eilea looked at Paul.  “I want to talk to him.  I have something I need to say.”

Paul understood she needed to get her control back.  Knocking on the adjoining door, she entered.

He jumped to his feet then slammed down into the chair as the cuffs would only allow a foot of movement.  “Eilea, I knew you’d come that you’d tell these idiots it’s all a mistake!”

“Mistake?  Hardly!  Taking pictures of me, sending unwanted cards and letters, calling me throughout the night and at work, threatening my family my friends, harming my daughter?  That is no mistake.  It’s a choice!  One you made and it is your last mistake involving me and anyone close to me!  I’m here simply to put a face to the f@#$@# asshole whose caused my family grief, hardship and bodily injury.  As far as I’m concerned, the penalty you’ll receive couldn’t be harsh enough!”  She stopped short of spitting on him, something she desperately wanted to do.  Instead, she turned  walked through the door and slammed it behind her.  She hard heard him call her name and smiling, grabbed Christina and Andrew’s hand to walk away, a spring in their steps, their heads held high.

“I would have punched his face in,”  Andrew freely admitted.  “It would have been worth it.”

“It’s a new day!  We have our lives back and we’re free to do as we wish.”  Eilea’s voice held jubilation.

“I’ll never take freedom for granted again,”  Christina remarked.  “I guess some things we take for granted until they’re gone.”

“It’s a lesson he’s about to learn, an ongoing lesson for the rest of his life.” Paul said with conviction.

“What sort of time will he get?”  Andrew asked?

“Attempted murder (which is what we’re going for) is considered an indictable offence and will give him five years to imprisonment for life.  Not only did he fire on civilians and your family in particular, but he fired on both off-duty and on duty cops, which the law severely frowns upon.  He fired on officers in the precinct, at my house and on the boat.  That’s three consecutive 10 to lifetime sentences.   Even though there weren’t any subsequent injuries, there was absolutely no provocation.  The maximum penalty for stalking is 10 years to life without parole and we’re going to fight for consecutive sentences back to back for each phone call and letter.”

“We’ve rounded up enough evidence at his place to secure a good long incarceration.  Doubt he’ll see the light of day again.  On top of which, he’ll never be allowed phone call priviledges or a computer.”

“How long before the case goes to trial?”

“Again we’re pushing this before a local judge who seriously frowns on stalkers, attempted cop-killers and attempted murder.  It won’t take long and the court will inform you.  It’s unlikely your testimony will even be required owing to the mountain of eye-witnesses and incriminating evidence which suggests he’s been following your family for three years.”

Stopping to take Paul in her arms, Eilea said, “Welcome to the family.”

Andrew slapped Paul on the back. “So your place or ours?”

Paul grinned broadly.  “I guess that’s something we’ll have to discuss.”

“Much as I love Hardy, I gotta say your place comes fully loaded, with extras!”  He couldn’t have held back his smirk if he’d tried.

 

 

 

 

 

Critical Error 91

Paul hurried from the room with his phone to his ear.  The others exchanged knowing glances.  Hopefully, it was good news.  The waiting was excruciating.  “I want to run after Paul and listen in, five seconds seems too long to wait,”  Christina admitted.

“I’m with you,” Eilea agreed with a smile.  “We could dog pile him.” That brought the laughter she’d hoped for.

“You first!”  Andrew smirked.  “We’ll backtrack out of the room.”

“What’s the fun in that?”  Eilea asked.  “He did say all for one and one for all.  We could prove how true that is.”

Andrew grinned, “I’m game, I’d love to see the expression on his face when he saw us racing toward him.”

Paul entered the room and the hopeful look in his eyes spoke volumes.  “Ok, good news at last.  They’re closing in on him.  He was spotted a few minutes ago making his way through some underbrush.  He ditched a stolen vehicle which was printed and it’s definitely his get-a-way vehicle.  He obviously saw the other cops surrounding his vehicle and he set out on foot.  He won’t get far.  It’s nearly over!”

The jubilation he’d expected didn’t come.  “What?”

“We’ve been here before, just this close and we missed by a country mile.  For once, I’ll wait until I know he’s in custody before I get carried away.  I want to look him in the eye and tell him what a f@#$ up he is!”  Eilea’s voice held conviction and vehemence.

“I’ll make sure you get the chance.” Paul rubbed her arms.

“So what do we do now, sit and wait or go out and have some fun?”

“I suggest fun! What’s everyone into doing?” Paul’s glance swept all three.

“I’m for lazing on the beach and sunbathing.”

“Sounds good to me,”  Christina agreed.

“Sold!  Let’s get ready.”

Upon reaching the beach they lazed, drank iced tea and relaxed for the first time in days.  It felt so good.

Paul’s phone rang and immediately everyone stopped and looked toward him.

“They got him!  He’s in the precinct now.” As if on cue they whooped and hollered drowning out what the Sarg. was saying.  Paul laughed.  “Yep, they heard.”

“I heard too, tell ’em to keep it down, will ya?” his Sarg growled half heartedly knowing only too well the relief they were feeling.

 

 

 

 

Critical Error -88

Their reprieve lasted two days.  On the third day Paul received word they might have caught a break.  After finishing the call, he sat them all down and explained.  “Seems when one of the officers was moving your car, Eilea, he found a card that had lodged under the seat and well hidden.  They were going to giving it a going over to ensure he hadn’t tampered with anything.  As soon as the officer realized what it was, he took it into HQ and had an analysis run.  We got DNA!”

Eilea half rose out of her chair, “OMG Paul, you mean this could be over?” she asked before sitting back down a hand at her throat.

“Not quite yet.  We’re on the right track though.  He apparently got mixed up in a squabble at a bar last night.  When he tried to run, the cops were called and managed to get to the bar in double quick time.  After spending a night in jail due to drunk and disorderly, they’d naturally taken a breathalyzer and his DNA popped up again with a flag so the officer tracked it back.  It was the same guy.  Unfortunately, he’d been released as his mother put up his bail.  But we know who he is.”  Sliding forward he held out a picture.  “Take a look, ring any bells?”

“Omg, that’s a guy that kept coming into the Chamber of Commerce when I worked there.  Every few days as a matter of fact.  He’d recently moved to Hardy and wanted to know what sort of outdoor activities I could suggest, specifically any I’d personally recommend and done myself.  Following protocol as I would with any visitor, I gave him the information.  Every time he’d finished another on the list, he came back in to explain in detail how it had gone, who he’d met and to thank me personally for the helpful information.  It became so awkward that as soon as he’d show up, one of the other women would either give me heads up or hand me a call to take so he couldn’t chat me up.”

“Makes sense.  It was a one time contact and your helpful attitude was misconstrued by a whacko.”

“Who is he, where does he come from?”

Paul explained. His mother was an invalid and required semi-constant care.  “He lives with her when he’s in Duncan, but has his own place in Hardy and traveled continuously between the two locations which ties letters from both locations as well as the timing…he’s our perp.”  He went on to add he wouldn’t get out of this no matter how many lawyers he might have on hand since not only were the threats against Eilea enough, but he’d since attacked to officers and was in pit deep.  The bomb threat alone meant he’d never see the light of day outside of prison walls for a hell of a long time!

Eilea didn’t know whether to be thrilled or shocked vacillating between the two emotions.  “I’m torn,” she admitted, “on one hand it’s great that we have an identity and can tie him to all the crimes, but I’m still nervous, we haven’t caught him yet.”

“He’s boxed in now, Eilea.  He can’t go home since we know where both locations are and what vehicles he has at his disposal.  His mother was shocked and horrified to learn what he’s done.  She’d been down that road and they moved to the island to get away from the same situation when she was a young woman.  That’s also why it took so long to get DNA results.  They’ve been living incognito since he was born.  She’d not talked to family and friends since then and ended up making a good life, a happy life she called it, in Duncan.  She’s also willing to help and call if he shows up.  He might be her son, she said, but that didn’t excuse inexcusable behaviour.  She’d like to meet you one day to apologize for her son.”

“That isn’t necessary, she isn’t responsible.”

“No, but she feels it deeply having had to run from the same thing herself.  It’s something to consider at a later date.”

Eilea yanked Paul to his feet and hugged him.  “Oh my god, this could be over – soon!”

Paul heard the pop and sound of shattering glass and yelled, “Down, everybody down!” as he threw his body across Eilea’s.  His eyes quickly swept toward Christina and Andrew making sure they’d listened.  Paul grabbed his phone, “Shots fired, shots fired.  Heads up out there!”

Momentarily they heard a rush of feet alongside the house.  “Paul, Paul, everybody ok in there?”

“Came through the front window, sniper rifle, has to be.  Fan out, be careful, he nearly hit us so he’s got some ability with a gun.”

 

Critical Error 90

Eilea pushed away from Paul, “the kids, the kids!” she frantically pulled herself up.

Paul grabbed hold of her and yanked her down, “Stay down Eilea.  He may still be about, the kids are fine!”  He placed both hands on either side of her face and looked deeply into her eyes, “We’re on top of it, I promise you.”  She literally sagged into his arms.

“I can’t lose them, Paul, I can’t lose them!  They are my world, they are everything!  I can’t let him hurt them.”

“His intent was either you or me, Eilea.  He didn’t fire a single shot at either one of them.  They have been whisked away and we’ll meet up with them shortly.”

Paul got the all clear and they rose and he assisted others nearby to their feet.  “It’s safe now, you can get up.”  He assisted a few mothers and children to their feet and spoke calmly and gently to each. A swat team moved in and rounded everyone up and ushered them to a less open location.

Wrapping his arms around Eilea he led her to an undercover car instead of his vehicle which the team was going over with a fine tooth comb in case he’d managed to visit it before taking the time to set up.

“Where are you, Paul, where are they?  I need to know!”

“We’ll be there momentarily.”

Before the vehicle stopped at Paul’s house she was out of the car and racing into the house, “Christine, Andrew!  Christine, Andrew!” she kept calling until they emerged from their bedroom.

“Mom, what’s up, we were just changing cause we were soaked.”

Racing to them she wrapped an arm around each, “Thank god, thank god!”

“What, what happened?”

It was only then Eilea realized they didn’t know what had happened.  “Oh my god!”  Turning to stare at Paul she turned back, “I needed to know you were ok.  There was an incident at the park.”

“Paul, what happened?” Christina quickly asked.

“He was somewhere on the grounds, took a pot shot at us.  Thankfully he missed.  Your mom was afraid he’d gone after you too.”

“Mom!”  Christina’s eyes nearly fell out of her head.  “Your ok right, he didn’t hurt you, right?”  her hands raced all over her mother turning her around.

“No, he missed.  We’re not sure if it was me or Paul he was aiming at, but thankfully he’s a poor shot!”

Sitting she stated, “That safe house is looking a lot more appealing at the moment.”

“I was afraid you’d say that.”  Paul dropped his head.

“You don’t think so, Paul,”  Christina said.

“No for the aforementioned reasons.  He’s on a roll, he’s not going to stop now, he’s leaped right on over the top into full blown insanity.  Moving to a safe house will only postpone the inevitable.”

“Mom, we need to see this through.”

“I adore you, baby girl!  Ok, my lovely young lady.”  She paused thoughtfully.  “Yes, I agree.  We see this through.  I don’t want this hanging over us forever, I want it over and done with and this asshole in prison locked up forever, WITH no access to the internet for life!  That is my only stipulation.  I don’t want him able to reach us in any way shape or form!  And I want a new unlisted number.”

“Done!”  Paul squeezed her tight.  “All for one and one for all?”

“Couldn’t have put it better,”  Andrew agreed.

 

 

Critical Error -90

“This is amazing!  It’s huge!  Oh, this is going to be fun!”  Christina chirped.  “Oh my god, look at the sunken boat, it’s fab!”

Heading into the first round, they were keyed up and excited.  It didn’t take long for Paul to realize they were indeed serious mini golfers as they banged off course after course and he laughed as he managed to keep up, barely.

The rest of their crew had lagged behind and they shouted barbs across at them and the joviality was fun warm and real.  Whenever a moment presented itself he dragged Eilea closer and held her hands, slipped an arm around her her snuck a few delightful kisses in.  His eyes glowed warmly as he peered into hers.  “You are so dang much fun!”

When they rounded the corner and entered the sunken boat she was all over it whooping and hollering with a hole in one and yelled out, “Beat that ya rug rats!  That’ll teach ya me hearties!”  They eventually caught up and Paul hauled her to his side and hugged her tight, “This is an entirely new side to you.  I like it.”

“We take our mini golf seriously,” she said with a laugh.

“I can tell.  However, your number is up,” he remarked pointing at the upcoming course.  “This one ought to test your metal!”

“Never fear,” she sighed delightfully before breathing deep, “I’m all over this!”  And she was.  While tallying up their scores, with Eilea well in the lead Andrew a close second, Christina one point behind and he himself taking up the rear, he laughed.  “I demand another round!”

Just as Eilea agreed, “That can be arranged!” the teens saw the bumper boats and headed off to enjoy crashing and bobbing about in the water.

“Alright, missy, bring your best game!” Paul quipped.   Jason and Sandy joined them for the next round, while Jessica and Herb accompanied the teens to the water course.

Half way through Paul was congratulating himself loudly on his single point lead on Eilea when a bullet whizzed past his head lodging in the wood behind him, “Down, everybody down!  Shots fired!” he gestured to other people near by, “Down, get down!” then dived for Eilea covering her body with his.  Wrapping her with his arms and legs he rolled her toward the closest edge tall enough to offer protection.  Immediately on his walkie talkie he began issuing orders to get the teens off the rides and out of harms way.

Immediately pandemonium took over with people yelling screaming scrambling upon hearing his warning.  Most huddled behind the nearest object they could find while the other crews that had followed at a discreet distance were racing from the highway toward the high ground on the other side of the park from which the shots were fired.

Paul was shocked the perp took this opportunity to attack since there was no way out.  The highway and the entrance were blocked and he was effectively sandwitched in the middle.

 

Critical Error -89

Paul was on tender hooks awaiting their decision. He knew his observations were right.  They were close he could feel it in his bones.  This miscreant was on a mission and he wouldn’t stop now.  It was full steam ahead regardless of the risk.  He was acting headless of consequences.

Eilea entered the kitchen, a smile upon those luscious lips firmly wrapping her arms around him.  “We’ve decided but I’d like the kids to explain.”  She kissed his temple tenderly and taking hold of his hand led him back to the media room.

He sat beside Eilea with Christine and Andrew lounging on the chesterfield.  “Ok, so what is your decision?” Paul asked.

“We’de rather stay, see this thing through.  We’re in agreement.  If we leave, go to a safe house, we could be there forever.  We’re not willing to give in or give up our lives to this maniac.”  Christine was adamant, it was in her voice and body language.

“If we go home, we’re at larger risk, because he could be anywhere and attack at any time.  Since we aren’t about to live like nuns in a convent and continue living our life as we see fit, we figured it was simpler to stay put and finish this out.”  Andrew’s body language held anger.

“Ok then.  We finish this!”  Paul’s sigh of relief told them all they needed to know.  “I have to explain that this situation is still fraught with danger.  You’ve seen how perverse he is.  He’s not about to let up.  I think that is his undoing.  He’s not seeing clearly and he won’t stop now.”

“Everyone is on high alert, we’ll be protected every moment. You may not like the results because damn near every movement will be monitored to keep you safe, but I feel it in my gut.”

“I’d stack my life on your gut,”  Christina assured him.  “It’s the one valuable lesson I’ve learned through all of this.  Never push your gut instincts aside, they won’t let you down.”

“Does this mean we can’t ride or take day trips and just enjoy?” Andrew asked.

“Not at all.  The more we’re out and about the more likely he’ll make a move.  He’s determined at this point to take us out or grab Eilea.  Either works in his mind…what little he has of one.”

“Then let’s get on with it.  Let’s plan something.”  Christina smiled devilishly.  “I was scouting activities and found Paradise Mini Golf and Fun Park in Parksville.  It looks like a lot of fun, what do you guys think?”

“I’m in!”  Andrew grinned delightedly.

“Sounds like fun times for all.”  Eilea said, “Bring your A game, Paul, I’m good, oh so good at this.”

“You don’t say?”  Wrapping her up in his arms he said, “I’m sure you are.”

He made a quick call to inform

They piled in

He squeezed Eilea’s hand firmly

“Oh yes,

Lifting his gaze to the rear view mirror he said, “Your mother suggests a wager.

“If you win, you buy us dinner at the local steak house.  If we win, we buy you a golf shirt.”

“I don’t golf!”  Paul remarked.  “It’s mini-golf.  It doesn’t really count!”

“Says you!”  Christina laughed aloud.

They alighted from the truck, Paul paid for the tickets and gear.  They met up with the other three couples who would play through with them and it was on like donkey kong!

 

 

 

Critical Error -89

Paul crab-walked toward the window.  It held but shattered like windshield glass.  He said, “You stay put, all of you!” he barked before hustling toward the back door.

Daring to turn her head she looked at her kids who’s expressions surely mirrored her own shock, “You ok?”

At the duplicate yeahs, her audible sigh of relief could be heard clear across the room.

“Is it safe enough to move now?”

“Not sure, Christina, but I think we can get to the media room, might have a better line of sight from there and the windows are long and narrow.”

They followed one behind the other until they reached the safety of the door, stood and scooted inside and shut it behind them.

“Is it that maniac?” Christine’s eyes tracked to her mother.

“Not sure, but I can’t imagine who else it could be.” Eilea side-tracked to the first of four tall windows and peered outside, shielding her body with as much of the wall as she could.  The kids did the same.  The only indication anyone was moving among the tall grass was a sudden shift as the grass swayed.

“I can’t see much, can you?”  Andrew asked.

“He’s probably taken off by now, don’t you think?”

“I can’t imagine any reason he’d stick around unless he intends getting caught Christina and that’s certainly doubtful.”

“The bullet didn’t make it through the glass.  Is it some kind of special glass or did we just get lucky?”

“I think we got lucky.  Could have been the angle or the distance, but whatever, I’m grateful,”  Eilea remarked.

“You see Paul anywhere?”  Christina’s voice was heavy with concern.

“I can’t see anyone.”

It was an interminably long time before they heard movement at the back of the house.  Even as they moved toward shelter, Paul walked in. “I thought I told you three to stay put!”

“Figured it was safer in here.”

“Did you get him?”

“Unfortunately, we didn’t, Andrew.  He fired and ran.”

“Must have been some high-powered weapon to reach us from the far side of that grass.”

“It was.  Luckily for us, the glass held.”

“There are patrol cars checking the area now from the highway to the beach and every inch of land between.  Everyone stays inside!  Outside your sitting ducks.”

Paul’s phone rang and he quickly answered. “Yeah, yeah, ok, got it.”

“What?”  Eilea asked her voice sounding a little shaky to Paul’s highly tuned ears.

“Damn it!  He got away clean, but it only means we’ll post men on the other side of the grassland.  They’re checking for tire and footprints.  Now we know he has a high powered sniper rifle and obviously knows how to use it, we’ll have to double up on manpower.”

“We’re going to get this bastard, I promise you!” Paul said on a growl looking straight into Christina’s glazed eyes.

When Paul received the all clear, he suggested they eat.  No one was particularly interested but they did enjoy the raspberry floats he made.  After that they settled into the games room, which was easier to secure and which Paul hoped would take their minds of the immediate and eminent danger.

Word came down that Eilea’s family was to be moved into a safehouse.  He was feeling pretty angry.  It would postpone the inevitable.  This jerk had made a move and he’d make another.  He’d tipped over into deranged and he wasn’t about to stop.  If he could convince Eilea to hang tough a couple more days, he was sure they’d nab the bastard in the act.  Otherwise it could be months if ever before they caught him.  If he disappeared into the wind neither she nor the kids would ever feel truly safe. They’d always have that concern hanging over their heads – would he return, if so, when?  Would he give up his pursuit or simply wait them out? What if they ran smack dab into him somewhere sometime.

He put off talking with them as long as he could.  Turning the tv off he said, “There’s something we’ve got to talk about.”  When all three sets of questioning eyes turned his way he continued, “The powers that be want to place you in a safehouse until they catch this perp.  I want to to figure this into your equation before making a decision.”  He went on to explain what his personal thoughts on the matter were.

“I take it your alone in your perception?”

“Pretty much. Most just want the problem to go away, others figure this is the best course of action, but you know what I think.  So, take your time before you decide.  I need to give them an answer soon.”  With that he walked away to allow them time to discuss the situation and make a unified decision.

Critical Error- 87

They watched the group until they were but dots and wandered back inside.  Paul noted the men and women surrounding the perimeter of the property and silently nodded approval knowing they were in good hands.

Inside with the door closed gently behind them, he took Eilea in his arms.  “It’s been too long since we had alone time.”  He nuzzled her neck with his nose and then his lips.

“You up for this champ?”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“I’ll remind you of that when your head is banging like it has a sledge hammer inside.”

“Worth the wait and the agony.”

Eilea backed him into the bedroom and shut the door leaning back to lock it.  “Now, as you were saying?”  She shoved him gently on the bed and for a brief second, he had second thoughts until she landed on top of him and erased all thought completely and emotion took over.

By the time the others returned, they were cuddled together on the couch and his head lay on Eilea’s lap.  “You ok champ?”

“Never better.  I could get used to lazing about if this is how it’s going to be.”  He winked.

Following a sigh, Eilea said, “I’ve never been a ‘wait for the other shoe to drop’ type of gal.  I usually take it on the chin and move on after making whatever decisions were necessary, but I now know how the other half feels.”

“Patience if a virtue! but having said that, I’m with you.  Although I’m a patient type, have to be in my line of work since it often includes plenty of downtime, I’d rather this miscreant made his move so we can catch him.  Then I can really show you a good time.”  He winked suggestively.

“Can’t wait!”  Eilea ruffled his hair gently, mindful of how tender his head still was.

“I’ve been trying to come up with something new to do, something we haven’t done yet.”

“I beg of you, give it another day, my poor beleaguered head needs one more day before I start romping around,” Paul suggested.

“Oh I don’t know, that romp earlier seemed to go well.”  She couldn’t help but laugh at his expression of shock and dismay.

“What?  There was something wrong with my technique?”

“Quite the opposite,”  Eilea quickly assured him.

“Seriously, Paul, what do you think he’ll try next?  He’s not stupid, he knows there are officers here, has to, especially after attacking you, (and he managed to break through the lines) I’d imagine that’s got to embolden him somewhat. That begs the question as to what we should do next.  How do we draw him in (out) whatever…to catch him.  He’s definitely not stupid and takes risks when he knows he can get away with it.”

“We’ll think of something, Eilea, give me a day or two though.  I’d rather forgo another knock on the head just yet.  As delightful as you are, I’d rather not see two of you continuously.  I quite enjoy centering all my attention on just you.”  His quip while meant to be amusing brought home just how serious the situation was and could become.

Critical Error -86

Paul’s head pounded and as soon as they ate, retired to the bedroom to lay down in a dark room for an hour.  When he got up he was feeling better but still necessitated the pills the doctor had ordered if a headache got out of hand.

When he entered the living room he couldn’t find anyone.  Peering outside, he found the trio in the garden.  Everyone was involved in weeding and the results were spectacular.

Joining them he said, “Wow, this is quite the treat!”

“We hoped you’d like it,” Eilea said straightening.  “Have you seen the barn yet?”

“No, what’s been going on out there?”

Linking arms, Eilea led the procession to the back yard.  “Have a look.”

He was stunned to see the side of the barn had been repaired and several bundles of fresh hay flanked the barn.  There were workmen shoveling fresh hay into all the stalls and the horses were looking on in delighted amusement pawing the ground eager to get inside.  “When did this happen?”

“They showed up late last night and managed to get the sides replaced before dark then returned early this morning.  We were hoping you wouldn’t notice until the job was complete.”

Paul pulled Eilea close, “I don’t know what to say.”

“We didn’t have much to do with it.  It was the guys from the detachment.  They got ahold of the insurance adjuster and made it happen pronto.”

Paul gingerly walked to the men hard at work, “Hi fellas.  This is wonderful.”

“No problem.  It will be when we’re done.”  Stopping for a minute looking at the horses, “I’m pretty sure it’s appreciated.”  He nodded at the horses.

“If I was up to it, I’d roll around in the hay.”  Paul laughed.

Andrew went to saddle Britches as Christine saddled Showgirl and as soon as they were finished, they waved and headed toward the beach.  “They’ve been riding them daily to give the horses a break.”  They watched an officer slide onto the other horse and head out.  “They’ll be meeting several officers already located on the beach and awaiting their arrival.  Your men are good, Paul.  I’ve been impressed with their coordination and tact.”

Paul pulled Eilea closer.  “Glad to hear it.”

 

Critical Error – 85

Eilea and the kids were waiting just inside the door when Paul arrived.  Although he was pale and looked more exhausted than anyone should ever look, he was a sight for sore eyes.  Christina walked to him first and held out her arms, “Hey you!  You look a little worse for wear but there’s a sparkle in them there eyes still!”  Paul hugged her briefly, “Takes more than a knock on this old hard head of mine to knock the twinkle out.”

Andrew stepped forward and held out a fist and they stood doing the manly bumped fist thing which had Eilea smirking.   “Glad you’re alright, Paul.  Sorry he got to you though.”

Gently touching the lump on the back of his head Paul agreed, “Yeah, I could have done without the goose egg that’s for sure.”

Eilea opened her arms wide and Paul walked into them and pulled her in tight.  “Hi beautiful.  How’d you sleep?”

“Ok I guess, it could have been longer and better, but Im sure I slept better than you.”

“It was a long night mostly because I wanted to get back here to you!”  He hugged her tight and then glanced at the kids, “All of you!”

They settled into the living room and the kids decided they’d make pancake breakfast for everyone and headed off to the kitchen.  Eilea and Paul snuggled on the chesterfield.  “God I’m so sorry, Paul!”

“No need, Eilea.  He would have gotten around to me sooner or later, rather surprised I wasn’t his first target but I figure the opportunity presented itself and he took it, which means we’re on high alert from now on!  I’m just very unhappy I didn’t get a look at him beforehand, mind you then he’d be the one sporting the bruises and cracked skull, not me!”

“I’m completely lost you know. I want this over with, I want him charged in behind bars so he can’t hurt any of us anymore.  It’s my first thought when I wake up and my last thought before I go to bed,” Eilea admitted fervently.

“What?”  Paul feigned a shocked look, “I thought I was a little more important to you than that and ranked a little higher on the scale of … well … I  know where I stand now then, hey?”  He winked.

Eilea held on hard, “You fishing there, Paul?”

 

Critical Error – 84

It was a restless night with nurses poking and prodding him every two hours.  Between their endeavours at monitoring his condition and worrying about Eilea and the kids, he could count the minutes of sleep he’d received.  Damn, he just wanted out of here!

The doctor arrived at his bedside, checked his chart and pronounced him ready to leave even though he felt he should stay a few more hours but the second he’d made his decision, Paul flew off the bed and hid the fact the world whirled in an arc around him.  Planting his feet solidly he said, “Great, doc, thanks.”

The doc turned at the door shook his head and said, “Take it easy, Paul.  Another crack on the head like that could be fatal.  This one was serious and you aren’t over it yet. Take some friendly advice, take it easy…go home, relax, laze about…you are on holidays, aren’t you?”

“Working holiday, yeah.”

Paul called to inform Eilea he was heading home and dressed as quickly as possible and headed out his door.  A friend was standing guard just outside the door.  “Hey, Paul, you heading home then?”

“Yeah, Harold, you give me a ride home?”

“Sure.”

“I’m to stick to you like glue, not supposed to let you out of my sight so I suppose I’ll be hanging at your house for the day.”

Paul didn’t much care as long as Eilea and the kids were safe and he was home with them.

Dropping into the car had his head spinning and a muffled curse eminate from his mouth before he could stop it.  “You really ready to head home, Paul? You sound pretty rough.”

“Doc said so.”  Truth be told, he’d have found a way home even without permission.  As he sat in the passenger seat he ruminated on all the possibilities.  Relieved Eilea hadn’t left he was positive they were all in equal danger.  He’d wondered why the perp hadn’t gone after him first.  Seems his priorities were skewed, but now he too was a target and usually better able to defend himself.  He’d allowed himself to be lulled into a false sense of security, the safety in numbers thing, but that was a mistake.  Where there was a will, there was always a way. The second he was home, he’d call a meeting and stress the fact.  No one was to take anything for granted and if someone approached they didn’t know, or hadn’t been apprised was coming, they were to be escorted out of the area immediately after being taken to HQ for questioning and an in-depth background check.

Critical Error – 83

Eilea the kids and two others hovered inside the emergency room awaiting the verdict.  Paul had apparently regained consciousness and was lucid and angry.  She had to smile at the rather robust use of cursing emanating from his room as he obviously was unwilling to remain in the hospital any longer than necessary and wanted out.  His Sarg had been called in to assure him Eilea’s family would be looked after until such times as he was able to join them.

When the dust settled, he was moved into a semi-private room for the night as they fully intended keeping track of him due to the concussion he’d received.

They entered his room together to find him laying prone eyes closed.  As soon as he was aware they had entered he tried to sit up and clasped his head.  “Shit!”

Eilea and Christina walked to the right side and Andrew rounded the bed to stand on the other side.  “Hey, this your fancy way of getting out of dishes?”  Andrew smirked.

Paul asked, “Did it work?”

“I think so.  You saved our bacon too.  A few stayed behind to clean up the bbq. Oh and by the way, you have a way of making bbqs live.  It’s been an interesting highlight I gotta say.”

Paul smiled up at Andrew.  “I think I went overboard, but yeah…” He winked at Andrew before turning back to Eilea and lifting his hand to capture hers.

“Hey, beautiful!  You ok?”

“I’m fine and not the one laying on a hospital bed with a concussion.” She leaned down to plant a gentle kiss on his unexpecting lips then added, “You know, there are other ways of getting out of dishes and clean-up detail.  Next time, just ask…” she leaned in for another kiss.  Andrew and Christina exchanged knowing glances and a smile lit both faces.

“I take it you didn’t see it coming.”

“No, I had an uneasy feeling, put everyone on alert and under the guise of watering went out front to have a look and before I could turn around, the lights went out.  Holy hell, did they ever.  Not even sure stars registered it just went black.”

Eilea clasped his hand tightly.  “You know what I’m thinking, right?”

“No, no safe house!  Promise me you won’t let anyone talk you into moving.  One I’ll never know where you are and two, it won’t encourage this ass to make another move, and if he does locate you, then you’ll be sitting targets.”

“Not unlike you?”

“That was a one time deal. I promise you he won’t get another chance!  I’ll see to it.”

They sat and chatted until the staff finally threw them out.  Paul was obviously tired so they headed back to his place with the officers that drove them and when they entered the place was spic and span clean.

They huddled in front of the tv hoping to find a movie to watch as their enthusiasm for doing much else had dwindled.  Eventually, they all turned in for the night after hugs were exchanged.

Eilea was seriously contemplating taking her kids and leaving if only to protect Paul, but he was right.  If she disappeared whether into a safe house or not, they wouldn’t see him again until the maniac was caught.  At this point, it was unclear how long that would take and she was selfish enough to want Paul in her life.  She’d been absolutely sick when she realized he’d gotten to Paul and admid feelings of guilt and fear prayed to the gods he would be ok.

To say she was enjoying his company would have been putting it mildly.  She was loving his company and everything about him.  She wanted more of him and his time.

Critical Error 81

 

Paul’s sense of unease couldn’t be denied, even though he knew others were patrolling the area including his home and the beach.

His watchful eye drifted from one member of Eilea’s family to another making sure each was present and accounted for.  He’d assigned a couple to monitor each of the teens and he was watching out for Eilea.  This maniac had managed to get close enough to cause real distress and whether his intent was harming one of the family members or whisking Eilea away, his mental stability was undoubtedly questionable.

It was time to check in with each team.  After making his excuses, Paul wandered through the house, mentally checking as he moved, then on out through the front door.  Picking up a hose to water the garden, he yanked and pulled until it uncoiled to its full extent.  Eyes ever watchful, he backed up toward the road, his gaze moving from one location to another.

So intently was he focused he hadn’t noticed the lone man walking briskly toward him, nor had he heard sounds of his movements.  Before he could turn to face his attacker, he was down.  The hose slipped from his grasp as he fell to the ground.

The assailant grasped him under the arms and hauled his drooping body over the grass to an unmarked vehicle and hefted Paul inside.  Satisfied, he slammed the door and steadily walked away.

Twenty minutes passed before someone noticed Paul’s disappearance.  Eilea had scanned the group and figured Paul was making rounds but became anxious enough to ask first one then another when they’d last seen Paul.  It soon became apparent that no one knew where he was.  Immediately word passed through the group and everyone was on their feet.  Ushering Eilea and the kids inside along with a group assigned to watch over them, the rest fanned out.

Eilea heard the distant yell.  “Found him!  Call 911!”  Instantly she was out the door before anyone could stop her.  She raced to the group of men and women and found Paul laying on his side a horrible shade of unbecoming pink.

“Oh my god, what’s happened to him?” she asked kneeling beside him.

“Someone’s used some kind of gas on him.”

Before she could ask how to help, an ambulance was racing up, lights flashing and they all moved aside to create a path.  Upon examination, they immediately hooked Paul up to Oxygen and asked, “Anyone know what he used?”

“HE used nothing.  He’s got a sizeable lump on the back of his head.  We don’t know what gas was used to knock him out!”

“Ok, we’re off to the hospital.”  As they hurried away, they listened to the ambulance attendant reporting over a walkie-talkie to the hospital explaining the situation.

“I have to go!”  Eilea responded racing toward the house to grab her keys.

“Eilea, wait, I’ll drive you!  You can’t go alone.”  Eilea nodded before racing inside to gather her purse and tell her kids what had happened.

“We’re coming with you!”  they shouted in unison.

 

Critical Error 80

Eilea couldn’t explain her unease, the prickles creeping up her spine or the neck itch. It was something she’d rarely experienced but it had happened on three previous occasions.  A precursor to her “known” pregnancy with both kids and before her “ex” decided they were quits, weeks before in fact.  It was here, again.  Chills crept up her body and she was suddenly inexplicably cold though the sun shone brightly overhead.  She looked at Paul then the kids and everyone else seemed relaxed and comfortable.  She peered at the cars beside them.

Paul sensed her unease and lifted a brow at her.  She shrugged her shoulders in response before silently mouthing “later”.

They had planned on a barbecue and Paul had invited half the precinct.  Safety in numbers his goal.

A dozen couples showed up and each brought steaks, salad, corn on the cob along with a few desserts.  Those on duty brought pop, chips, bread sticks and others brought a bottle of wine.

He turned on the music from the media room and it played softly in the background and a few of the guys dug out the lawn chairs.  Before long everyone was seated or dancing to the music.  Everyone was relaxed and enjoying the moment.

He took Eilea aside as soon as he could and asked what was going on.  She explained and he knew beyond a doubt their reprieve was about over.  Instincts, it was all about instincts, listening to them and heeding the warnings.

Paul carefully made his way around the group putting on a show of checking to make sure everyone was comfortable and enjoying while placing everyone present on alert.

 

Critical Error 79

Damn!  Strategy, he needed a strategy.  Think! He slammed his fist against the steering wheel.  Music from the radio blasted inside his head.  The song pounded his emotions and had him firing on all cylinders.  Every nerve ending, every fibre of his body was aflame with emotion swirling from angst to anger to rage and back to undying love for the woman in the vehicle up ahead.

Soon the music became distant as his mind travelled back to the moment he’d met her – a lifetime ago, a moment ago.  He’d entered the CofC to obtain a map.  She’d asked questions and opened the world to him.  Taking him from display to display, her heartfelt questions followed by material on the area that might be of interest to him. It was as if he’d known her all his life and she, him.

After explaining Cape Scott Park and her interest and yearning to hike there this year, he’d made a point of learning all he could about the place and taken the journey himself.  He was captivated by it, and her.  He’d followed up on some of the other suggestions she’d encouraged him to try, equally delighted.  Little by little he began to understand her, know her, enjoy her.

He began dropping by to thank her when he’d accomplished and stroked off another on the list of activities she’d outlined.  She seemed as delighted as he was pleased with his discoveries along those journeys.  Eilea, her name was Eilea.  She’d spoken so encouragingly, lovingly, looking him directly in the eye – no one else existed.  He knew she felt no cared for him as deeply as he’d come to care for her.

Then suddenly she’d changed jobs shocking him, but more making a chance meet nearly impossible.  He’d had to settle for watching her from afar.  Not enough, never enough, not nearly enough!

Time was of the essence.  His transfer to Hardy was a temporary one necessitating he move things along, but something held him back.  Instead, he’d called and hung up which propelled him into calling repeatedly.

He’d been smart enough to obtain equipment that by-passed the system allowing him unfettered contact whenever he wished.  A stop-gap nothing more.

Now was time to make his move.  He’d have to prepare, well!

 

 

 

Critical Error 78

Thank god he’d swapped vehicles.  Sitting behind the wheel of his car, he shook.  That was too close for comfort.  He hadn’t thought it through but then he hadn’t expected an immediate response.  It was orchestrated he was sure of it.  Damn them all! For standing in his way, for stopping him, for keeping them apart.

He took his wallet out of his pants and opened it to stare at her beloved face.  “You are so beautiful.  We’re meant to be together. I know it, you know it.  I have to get you away from them.  I will, I vow it!”  He lifted her picture to his face and kissed it.

Warily he made his way out of the park looking for cops and roadblocks.  There were none.  He parked at the entrance and wandered for a bit making nice.  Not near enough he thought, but safe enough.  It enabled him a view of exit and he’d be able to see her.  His mind vacillated between wanting her and punishing her.  Every time he thought of the latter, he wanted to weep.  She was his woman, so special, so dear.  This was intolerable.  He wanted to scream his love for her from the rooftops, carry her away to a place they could be together, forever.  He must plan better.  He derided himself.

No clues, he’d left no clues, he was positive about that.  Going over every encounter again in his mind, he smiled at their response, especially hers.  He felt bad about the gift even though he’d scared her, he had to make a point.  She must take him seriously.  If he couldn’t get close to her he had no other way of showing her what she meant to him.

His fractured thinking left little room for doubt.  His plan was to separate her from the others and take her away.  He only needed a moment to accomplish his goal.

He saw the truck.  They were headed out, preparing to leave.  He watched them wave at another couple.  Safety in numbers?  Hopping into his car, he followed several car lengths behind.  One opportunity, that’s all it would take.

In his mind, Paul didn’t exist.  They didn’t exist.  The children would come round eventually, and if not, well, that was too bad.

Critical Error 77

They grabbed their lunch and ate at a table overlooking the ravine.  “This is so frustrating, Paul.  I can’t tell you!  I don’t know how you put up with it day in and out.”

“It’s frustrating to a degree but I know I’ll get the perp.  In this case, I’m finding it as frustrating as you because I’m close to you.  With others, it’s easier to distance myself.  On this occasion, I’m in the thick of it, along with you.  And, I’m sorry.”

“Thanks.  I appreciate that.  So what should we do?  We can’t continue our hike until the path’s been cleared, and from the look of things, that could take awhile.”

“Since we packed beachwear, I thought we could head to Parksville and enjoy the beach for awhile, what do you say?”

The teens were in agreement and once lunch was finished, they loaded up the vehicles and headed out.

Reaching Parksville, the teens donned their bathing suits and played and swam in turn while the adults played cards.  They were having a great time.  The weather couldn’t have been more co-operative.

The remained uneventful to everyone’s great relief.  Still, they waited for the other shoe to drop because certainly, he hadn’t given up, he was lurking somewhere, in all probability somewhere nearby.

Someone produced a harmonica and before long toe-tapping knee-slapping music had everyone laughing and joking, teasing and jostling one another.  Paul was relieved when he noted everyone having fun, cares aside for the moment.  He knew everyone working the case was on overtime using every means available to track this perv down.  The sooner the better before he did something really dangerous.

Critical Error 76

Secretly, Paul wished the current events at an end.  He’d enjoy the opportunity of knowing this family, especially Eilea, under “normal” circumstances.  Still having witnessed their interactions under tumultuous situations,  he was more than impressed and certainly drawn to each of them.

Eilea was concerned.  Not only because of the current situation but because she only had five days left and she desperately hoped they’d catch this creep before them.  They’d return to their lives and he could strike anywhere anytime.  That would put her co-workers and other friends at risk since he didn’t care who he hurt in the process.

Paul found her sitting in the media room deep in contemplation.  “What’s up, Eilea?  You look considerably distracted.”  He went to her and wrapped an arm around her waist.

“I was contemplating our current situation and how this would play out when we return home.  I have five days of vacation left and simply can’t afford to take unscheduled time off.”  She went on to explain her overriding concerns.

“I have it on good authority we’re closing in.  Just received a call from headquarters.  They believe they know who he is. ”

“What?  How?”

“They’ve managed to collect DNA from the box he left on the car and isolated the same footprints at that scene as here.  They are going over police records to see if he’s on file for any reason.  If there is, we can take a look at some photos see if he looks familiar.”

“Thank god!  I had visions of this going on forever!”

“It may take some time yet, but we’re on the right track.”  In response, Eilea threw her arms around his neck as though he were a saviour of some sort.  Not that he minded, but it wasn’t him alone but involved a team of dedicated men and women looking out for her. Still, he’d take it.

They days events included more trekking and before long the glow of excitement overshadowed any concerns as they headed out to Englishman River Falls, a favourite haunt of all.  They were scheduled to meet two other “couples” to picnic and hike with.

The first leg of their journey went well everyone participating eagerly.  It was while they were on a narrow section of pathway that their adversary made his presence known.  Suddenly rocks started falling from above, small at first, then bigger until the pathway was unusable.  As soon as they began to fall, he grabbed Eilea and pushed her under the little bit of overhang above while Darren and Madeline did the same with Andrew and Christina.  He heard an umph from Christina and as he watched, shock filled Andrew’s eyes.  “We’re ok, we’re ok.” He called out to reassure everyone.

“Christina?  Andrew?”  Eilea yelled.

“We’re ok, mom.”

“What the hell was that?”  Eilea asked sweeping her hair from her eyes.

“Not sure.  Crystal, Jake, …” using hand signals he pointed behind them.

“It’s impassable this way, there’s not enough path to manoeuvre through.  We’ll have to head back the other direction.

It took forty minutes to re-trace their steps, but they managed.  When they arrived at the head of the trail,  Paul sent Crystal and Jake to investigate above while the other two were dispatched to the camp offices to inform them the path was unusable.

 

 

 

 

Critical Error 75

Christina stepped back wiping tears from her cheeks.  “Don’t tell mom!  She’ll worry if she knows I’m upset.” Paul smiled, ‘like mother like daughter’.

“I think the telling should be yours, Christina.  She needs to know that her life matters to you and perhaps she’ll be less inclined to take unnecessary risks.”

“I know, that thought crossed my mind too.  I could see her offering herself up as bait just to catch this creep.  I’m afraid of, more than anything.”

“I’m watching her closely, Christina.  I won’t allow her to do that.  We have the situation under control.  We pushed the process along, further and earlier to force his hand.  She’s completely surrounded by law enforcement, whether she realizes it or not and she can’t make a move we won’t know about.  Should this creep get close enough, we’ll take him down.”

“Thanks, Paul.  I appreciate that more than I can say.”  Paul smiled warmly before adding, “We have you covered too, Christina, and Andrew.  I won’t let anything harm you.”

“I know you’ll do your best Paul.  And by the way, I think your good for mom.  I’m glad you came into our lives.  I see good things for you two.  More, I want good things for you two.  Mom deserves someone special, who cares about her.  She hasn’t had that, probably never if I’m honest.”

“She has you, Christina.”

“I know, but I meant on the romantic side of things.  Gives me hope too.”

As conversations went, this was as touching and encouraging as it gets, Paul thought.  One hurdle down.  Now, if only Andrew felt the same, it would be a real bonus.

Eilea walked in toward the end of the conversation and heard Christina’s remarks about her and Paul and what she’d observed regarding her mom’s needs.

Wrapping her arms around him from behind, she hugged him close.  “Perceptive, isn’t she?”

Turning, Paul agreed.  “She does you proud, Eilea.  Incredibly observant,  she cares about her family, and is moved deeply by your current situation.”

“I’ve felt honoured on more than one occasion by each of them.  I’m not sure I can take credit for it, as they are individuals who have made choices.  Good choices so far.  I take comfort in knowing I may have assisted with a guiding hand, but they are now young adults and the choices and decisions they make are their own.”

“Well, I beg to differ.  I’ve seen young people act out and commit unspeakable acts of cruelty, steal, lie, cheat raised by caring parents and others that practically raised themselves because their parents were indifferent, uncaring, or too involved with their career to consider the results to a child.  At some point, it is about individual choices, but I really believe they copy your outlook actions and expectations more than make choices.  Eventually, they feel comfortable and strong enough to make them by themselves.”

Eilea sighed contentedly.  “She’s right about one thing, you are not only important to me, but I didn’t realize exactly what was missing until I met you.  You’re pretty special.”  She sealed the thought with a heart-stopping kiss that set him back on his heels.

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Christina snagged Paul early the following morning.  “Can we talk for a minute?”

“Sure, Christina, what’s up?”

“I thought I’d check into the mind-set if that’s possible of the perp.  I don’t get it.”

“Ok, go on,” Paul urged.

“According to what I’ve found, there are four types of stalkers.

The Rejected stalker – is a result of a breakdown in a close relationship (usually but not limited to sexual partners) and can include family members, close friends or others

The initial motivation is – either attempting to reconcile the relationship, or to exact revenge for a perceived rejection.”  She went on to list them as:

  • ” described as ambivalent about the victim, sometimes appear to want the relationship back, are clearly angry and want revenge on the victim.
  • some protracted stalking becomes a substitute for the past relationship as it allows the stalker to continue to feel close to the victim
  • and is the stalker’s attempt at salvaging their damage self-esteem

Ok, I get that.”

“And?” Paul urged.

The next kind are rejected stalkers ambivalent toward victims.

  • sometimes clearly angry out for revenge
  • sometimes to help them feel close to the victim
  • in other times to salvage their damaged self-esteem

Another is the intimacy seeking stalker and  arises from loneliness and lack of close a confidante.  Their victims are usually strangers or acquaintances in a stalker’s desire for a relationship.

    • Frequently their behaviour is fuelled by a severe mental illness
    • revolving around delusional beliefs about the victim, like a perceived relationship (even when none exists)
    • to establish an emotional connection and an intimate relationship. The stalking is maintained by the gratification that comes from the belief that they are closely linked to another person.

“So far so good,” Paul said.

The Incompetent Suitor stalks out of loneliness, lust and can target strangers or acquaintances.

      • their talking is described as a way of getting a date or short term relationship
      • they stalk for brief periods but
      • they are blind or indifferent about a victim’s distress
      • relattable to cognitive limitations or poor social skills

The Predatory stalker which arises from deviant social practices and interests.

      • usually male and victims are usually female strangers he’s sexually interested in
      • stalking usually initiated to gain sexual gratification (e.g., voyeurism targeting a single victim over time)
      • also used to obtain information about a victim as a precursor to sexual assault
      • the stalking is both instrumental and also gratifying  because it gives them the sense of power and control they get from targeting an unsuspecting victim”

“I’ve been studying these “types” for awhile.  It seems to me this guy has crossed over, if I’m reading this correctly. He doesn’t seem to fit into any particular category.  He’s been stalking mom for months, sent the letters, photos, etc.  He hasn’t approached her and doesn’t seem like he’ll quit.  He’s moved into threatening and physically hurting those close to her.  My question is, is this possible?”

“I know as much about stalking as you do for the most part, Christina.  So far your assessment is right on target.  He’s crossing all kinds of boundaries and what boundaries there are don’t exist.  He doesn’t or hasn’t sent any notes apologizing so I don’t think he understand what he’s doing.  I also agree his goal is an intimate relationship with your mother (obviously perceived only in his mind).  He’s proven dangerous and threatening.”

“I know that psychologists suggest none be treated as criminals, but for my money, when we catch this guy, he will be.  He’s physically hurt you and Brandon, his threats are real, he pretended to send a bomb but couldn’t quite follow through.  Whether that was fear for himself or any “imagined” concern for your mother’s welfare is debatable.

“So does that mean he’ll try to kill mom when he realizes she doesn’t want him?”

“I wished I could tell you otherwise, but I figure that’s the scenario that exists, yes.”

“Then please, shoot him!”

Paul walked toward Christina and opened his farm wide and she walked toward him and fell against his chest and he felt more than heard gentle sobs. Wrapping his arms tight around her he said, “I have no intention of letting this miscreant get away, Christina.  He’s a low-life criminal intent on harm.”

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Eilea was on edge.  It showed in jerky movements, darting glances, and hesitation.  She was right to feel agitated.  He was a seasoned cop and he felt the touch of nerves. Never as acutely felt as now, with Eilea and her kids involved.

They were dear to his heart.  He knew when the time was right, it would broad-side him, and it had.  These were his kind of people.  Smart, funny, adept, able to go with the flow.  It seemed he was making headway with Andrew.  Christina was more relaxed around him.  Whether it was because he was a cop and they required his expertise at this time, he was available, or whether because they were accepting him personally, he wasn’t entirely sure.

Still, the ruse with Eilea was working, dragging their opponent into uncharted waters, forcing his hand.  It also made him more acutely aware of her as a woman and he desired her, even more, enjoyed every moment of her company.  If adversity brought out the unexpected in people, showed their true colours, then he had his answer.  For she was strong, determined and handling the situation well.

The end of the day, everyone was tucked up tight and he knocked on her door. After she called out, he entered and they enjoyed an uninterrupted romantic night that would stay in his memory forever.  Charming, relaxed, open, giving and receiving, her romantic side knew no bounds. He lay looking down at her sleeping form feeling exceedingly touched.  Eilea hadn’t allowed many close since her separation, so he felt the depth of her giving all the more.

He stroked her hair before laying down and wrapping his arms around her, feeling her snuggle close as a whisper escaped.

Eilea woke to the firm arms wrapped tightly around her and smiled before snuggling back in for a few more minutes.  She was falling for this man, what’s more, she loved the idea and welcomed the thought there may be a future for them together.

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