Author and Copyright: Joann Stroh (Comments only in English please)
"I need to be sure in my own heart that this
"We may very well be in for some fireworks,
"Thanks for this meeting Paul, it's good to
see you again."
Both men slid into the booth.
Peter Sinclair smiled. "By the way, how is
Kermit these days?"
"Yeah, you can always count of Kermit to be
full of surprises. One should never take Griffin for granted."
Sinclair's gaze dropped to his clasped hands resting
on the table in front of him. He sighed.
Smiling, the waitress placed a cup in front of
her newest customer and filled it with the steaming brown liquid. "Can
I get you gentlemen anything else?"
The waitress turned away to continue her rounds,
allowing the two men to resume their conversation.
"We may very well be in for some fireworks, P.T., but that's just Peter. My advice is to tell him the truth. Be as forthright with him as possible. The kid has a big heart. Believe me, he is worth whatever it takes. You know, sometimes the most difficult path reaps the greatest reward."
"He sounds a lot like his mother. She, too,
had a gentle soul and a great capacity for love. I should know, she gifted
me with much of that love."
"Heard anything from Caine?"
"Evidently, Caine doesn't plan on sharing
that information with Peter or with us anytime soon. He's been gone almost
four months and not a word! Damn him!" Paul took a deep breath. "I
probably shouldn't have said that, but I can't help it! His leaving has
really put that kid into a tailspin. When Caine came back into Peter's
life, I saw a change for the better. Peter became more focused, less reckless
and cavalier. Now he's back to walking the edge, putting himself in dangerous
situations without concern for his own safety. See this gray hair?"
Paul ducked his head. "I have your grandson to thank for all but
about a dozen of these."
The older man's smile slowly faded. "The last thing I want to do is hurt Peter. That kid has been through enough." The ex-mercenary paused, searching for the right words. "I guess what I am trying to say is, I need to be sure in my own heart that this reunion will benefit Peter and that I am not just being a selfish old man. I want nothing more than to spend time with my grandson and get to know him. He is my only grandchild and he's all that is left of Laura. Am I so wrong to want this now, after all these years?"
The look of anguish in the other man's eyes almost caused the police captain to look away. No one should live with that much pain! The ties of friendship he shared with Peter Thomas Sinclair were some of the strongest he shared with anyone except Kermit Griffin, his longtime friend, ex-mercenary and computer expert. Even then, it wasn't a matter of one being stronger than the other, just different. He and P.T. Sinclair had been in the mercenary business together for a good portion of their adult lives. They had shared and collaborated on many a mission during their earlier years, back before the gray hair when the juices flowed hot in their veins. Sinclair was a good man who had experienced far too many heart-wrenching losses in his lifetime. He deserved better. He most definitely deserved to have at least one member of his family returned to him.
Paul felt confident that his and Annie's decision to honor this man's request, through Rykker, to finally meet with his grandson and acknowledge their relationship was a sound one. Paul had, in fact, offered to set-up a 'reunion,' as P.T. called it, a year ago when he had introduced the two men right after their successful completion of the Dragonswing episode. They had been forced to stop a group of marauders in a small, nearby town and save the kidnapped fiancee of an old friend of Peter's from the orphanage. The young lady in question had also been the local mayor's daughter. He had offered then and Sinclair had turned him down. Instead he had introduced him to his foster son as just an old friend. Caine senior had already left to escort the Dahli Lama to a place of safety and therefore had not been present for the introductions. Just as well. No doubt, the Shaolin priest would have recognized Sinclair. Paul had simply led Peter to believe that P.T. was an old mercenary friend, one whose help he had enlisted by calling in a marker. The fact was, it had been Sinclair and not Paul who fired the shots that day from atop the tower during the shoot out with the marauders, saving Peter and his father standing below. The kid had just assumed it was Paul.
Surprising how the span of a year can change one's perspective. According to Rykker, ever since last year's meeting, P.T.'s waking hours had been haunted with thoughts of his grandson. He and Annie discussed at great length the pros and cons of bringing these two wounded souls together. How it might affect his foster son was paramount, but Paul's gut feeling was that his son could use all the family he could get, especially now that Caine had taken an unexpected sabbatical. In the end, they had both agreed that the time was right for Laura's father to be a part of his only grandchild's life.
The police Captain leaned forward. "Exactly
how much do you know about Peter's life since Caine resurfaced?"
Paul's brows furrowed. "Do you believe in
destiny, P.T?" Not waiting for an answer, he continued.
Paul Blaisdell stood scanning the dimly lit room. Spanning the far wall was a bar where several patrons sat with their backs to him. Within seconds he spotted the person he had come here to meet. As he approached the table against the far wall, the man occupying one of the chairs looked up and made a gesture toward the unoccupied chair opposite him. Paul pulled out the chair and sat down.
"Well, P.T, I certainly hope I didn't hold
you up," grinned Paul.
Just then, the proprietor of "Joe's Bar and
Grill" approached the table.
"Hey, I don't forget a customer. Always pay
special attention to your best customers, that's my motto. Nothing but
the best for you and Mr. Sinclair here. You need anything else, Mr. Sinclair?"
Catching sight of two new customers seating themselves
at a nearby table, the proprietor excused himself.
Sinclair leaned back in his chair. "You out
of here tonight, Paul, headed home?"
"How is Annie and the girls? Haven't seen
them....well, let's see, since..."
Paul smiled at the look of astonishment on his
"That's right. The boy is an orphan. I met him last year when I went to Pineridge to give my annual talk on police work. According to the director, he had already been a resident for two years. Guess he must have been so quiet and withdrawn that I just never noticed him."
"So, what made you notice him last year? Something
Paul gave a shrug and continued, "Next day he came to my lecture, asked a few questions. He seemed genuinely interested in police work. I spoke with him briefly at the small reception they always hold afterwards. Before I knew it, I was visiting him regularly. Took him out to a few ball games, visits to the station, and we took in a few movies. His education before entering the orphanage was pretty unconventional. He was having a lot of trouble adjusting, which was understandable considering his background. He didn't fit in and he was really struggling. We got him a tutor, helped him with his homework, and got him back on track. He really is a smart kid."
Sinclair sat quietly listening. His friend's face was animated. In fact, it practically glowed. He could not remember Paul being this excited since the birth of his two daughters, closely followed by his marriage to Annie. Blaisdell was a born family man. He loved deeply and family came first with this man. It was a trait he and Annie both shared. It was obvious that this kid was very important to the lieutenant. P.T. well understood the feeling. Not so long ago, he had had a child. She was a beautiful, vivacious individual; a pure delight. Her loss had absolutely devastated him. And for awhile he had even had a grandson. Sinclair quickly buried those terrible memories. Instead, he chose to focus on his friend's words, to enjoy the excitement so apparent in Paul's voice. He was truly happy for him.
Just then a cook approached from the kitchen and
set before Blaisdell the largest steak he believed he had ever seen.
"I think I'll just let this finish cooking for a minute or two." His gaze returned to his companion. "Anyway, as I was saying, we started having Peter over with us on weekends, holidays, whenever possible. Annie and the girls immediately fell in love with him. The next logical step was to foster the boy. This last year has certainly been interesting. We have been sailing in uncharted waters, and," Paul arched his brows, "some of it has been pretty deep! Peter is worth it, though. He's worth every second. He is, by nature, a warm and loving kid. Has a great sense of humor and a big heart. All he ever really needed was someone to care, to take an interest and to love him. Peter is a part of our family now and we plan to keep it that way."
"What happened to his parents? Doesn't he
have family somewhere?"
"Well hell, with a name like that he's bound
to be a great kid!" Sinclair smiled. His friend's enthusiasm was
"He entered the orphanage at the age of twelve, a very angry young man. Mad at the world with a chip a mile wide riding his shoulders. We don't really know a great deal of his story. According to the personnel at the Pineridge, he absolutely refused to talk about what happened. It was evidently pretty traumatic. If he has relatives, nobody knows where to locate them. He still has terrible nightmares. We believe he saw his father killed before his eyes."
"God, Paul, that sounds pretty gruesome. Poor
"My god, P.T., what's wrong? What is it?"
"Please, Paul, what is Peter's full name?"
Slowly Sinclair shook his head as if to clear it,
or awaken from a terrible nightmare.
With obvious effort, Sinclair finally managed to
find the words.
Paul's face reflected stunned disbelief, his expression almost identical to Sinclair's only moments before. He finally managed to inhale, his body demanding oxygen. Swiping a damp, trembling hand across his face, he spoke, "I...I don't understand. You are telling me that my foster son is your grandson? But how is that possible?"
Paul shook his head and stared across the table and then slowly his body slumped back against the chair in resignation. He did not want to believe it, but this was a man he would trust with his life and in fact, had trusted with his life on many occasions.
"Oh my god!" Paul's eyes slowly lifted to stare into the gray eyes of the mercenary sitting across from him. Those expressive eyes, so like another's, and he knew. Why had he not seen it? And in that instant he came to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that his foster son, the boy he loved as if he were his own flesh and blood, had loved almost from the first time he had laid eyes on him, was this man's grandson. "Your daughter, your daughter's name was Laura. I had forgotten. Tell me, P.T., did she wear a yellow flower in her hair?"
Unshed tears swam in Sinclair's eyes. His voice
pitched soft and low, he replied, "Yes, Paul. Her hair was a golden
red and she liked to pin a yellow flower in her hair. It was her favorite
color. She always said that yellow was the color of the sun and the sign
of warmth and life."
"How could you have possibly made the connection?"
Shaking his head, P.T. continued. "None of this is your fault!"
Fishing out his wallet, Sinclair threw several bills onto the table.
"I made a decision back on that hot New Orleans night. I still think it was the right decision for Peter. Hell, I was deep into the mercenary business at the time. That alone would have endangered him and it was a chance I simply could not afford to take. Even back then, I could tell you genuinely loved my grandson and you were able to offer him all the things I could not; a home, a real family, stability. With you and Annie he had a both a father and a mother, with two sisters thrown in to boot. After the way my brother Jack handled Laura's marriage to Caine, disowning her, I sure as hell wasn't going to leave my grandson with him!" A memory swept across Sinclair's face. "You made me a promise that long ago night, Paul. You remember?"
"I certainly do. I promised you I would keep
Peter out of the mercenary business. It was an easy promise to keep since
I had already made it to myself."
"You know, Rykker has been staying pretty close ever since the kid got into the policing business. He has pulled his ass out of the proverbial fire more than a few times. I have certainly been grateful for the help. I use to think Peter had more lives than a cat until I discovered he had guardian angels watching over him. They were definitely of the, shall we say, earthly sort? I am very grateful to Rykker. Eyes in the back of my head is often not enough where Peter is concerned! My son, your grandson, can be quite a handful."
Sinclair chuckled. "So I hear. He did not
inherit that from his mother."
Sinclair slowly smiled. "So, Paul, where do
we go from here?"
Both men slid out of the booth and stood facing
each other. "Once Annie and I have talked it over, I'll give you
a call at home tonight, say around 8:00?"
"You are more than welcome. But don't forget what I said, it is we who feel lucky to have had Peter in our lives, to have him as a part of our family. It has taken some time for me to adjust to having Caine and his influence back in my son's life, but I have never regretted Peter finding his father alive. Family is important. God knows that kid can use all the family he can get right now."
The two men shook hands and P.T. Sinclair exited the Blue Jay café just ahead of Paul Blaisdell.
A warm orange glow filled the room, emanating from a crackling fire burning in the large stone fireplace located in the center of the room; it's placement being one of the reasons Peter Thomas Sinclair had chosen to purchase this particular house barely a year ago. Another was the large window, which overlooked a small lake. The moon's reflection off the water threw beams of light skipping across its surface, casting trees along the shore into shadow. But neither was the major reason for this purchase. There was only one thing that had brought P.T. Sinclair to this town and this house. It was the deep, gnawing need in his soul to reclaim his grandson, Peter Matthew Caine.
This room was Sinclair's favorite, but at the moment he was totally unaware of the fire's warmth, or the beauty of the scene outside the window. Instead, he sat slumped in his favorite overstuffed leather chair, totally focused on the object in hand. Tonight he was finding it all but impossible to keep the hounds of yesterday's memories at bay. Staring down at the photograph he held, his fingers slowly traced the picture's frame, sometimes stopping to gently brush across the smiling young face staring up at him. The glow of the nearby fire glinted off his thick silver hair, turning it to gold. Anyone happening to gaze into the room at that particular moment would have been reminded of a winter scene straight off a Hallmark card. They would have been gravely mistaken.
It was not, however, a mistake made by the dark-haired
man who only moments before had quietly let himself into P.T. Sinclair's
inner sanctum and who had yet to be acknowledged. The eyes of the man
in the leather chair remained fixed on the picture in his lap. How he
wished the face staring back at him could speak, could tell him that she
forgave him for not being there for her and later for her son. To know
that in the end, as she drew her last breath, she still loved him. He
would give all that he owned to once more feel those sweet young arms
thrown around his neck and hear the words, "I love you dad."
"You are already halfway in Rykker. Might as well come the rest of the way in and sit down before I have to shoot you. Ever hear of the quaint custom of knocking before entering a room?"
Rykker, with a smile playing at the corners of his mouth, moved into the room and sat down in the chair opposite P.T Sinclair. He gave a sigh of pleasure as the chair molded its plush leather around his tired frame. Ahhh, the comforts. That is what he sought these days, the comforts. He had spent almost a lifetime traveling around the world fighting other people's wars, other people's causes. He had lived under the most primitive of conditions, having been shot, stabbed, and imprisoned more times than he cared to count, and yet he had managed to survive. Rykker had always taken great pride in his survival instincts, his ability to take the hardest knocks of a mercenary's life and keep going. The money had been good. Actually, better than good and he had used that money wisely. Once the bloom of early youth began to fade, he realized he could not maintain the pace of youth forever, nor did he wish to do so. He knew also that one day he would desire to leave behind the mercenary life and enjoy the fruits of his own labor, which he alone had earned. Upon his father's death, he had inherited a great deal of money. Still, it had been a matter of pride to Rykker that he make his own fortune, independent of his family.
It was during those same years that he learned the hard lesson of "once a mercenary, always a mercenary!" One could never truly leave the business. Become less involved, possibly, but completely leave, no. Rykker had continued to make lucrative investments and was now a very wealthy man and it was that money which helped to make his older years enjoyable, comfortable, and yes, safer. He was only marginally wealthier than the man who now sat quietly across from him, steadily meeting his gaze. A man with whom he had very deep ties. Not simply mercenary ties, but deeper, more personal ties. He could presently count on the fingers of one hand the living souls in this world he truly and deeply cared for and the man now staring him down held the number one position. It was a list he made absolutely certain to keep safely locked inside his head. A mercenary could not afford to reveal such connections. It would instantly put the lives of those individuals at great risk. He had learned that terrible lesson years ago with the loss of his only child. He had had enough of his heart torn and bloodied over the years and would do everything in his power to never again lose another living soul he loved due to his mercenary ties.
Sinclair finally broke the silence. "Why are
you here, Rykker?"
Rykker spoke, drawing the other man's attention,
"Just wondered if you had made contact with Blaisdell, yet?"
"Hell, I just thought maybe you had some thoughts,
or observations you'd care to share?" Receiving no response, Rykker
continued. "I too have an interest in this operation. It has been
a long, hard road getting here, P.T. After all, it is not everyday a grandfather
gets the opportunity to meet his long lost grandson. There is a lot at
stake for you and a lot of other people
Sighing, Sinclair allowed some of the tension to
flow from his body. "You are right Rykker. I'm sorry. Guess you could
say I am a little tense tonight, not to mention nostalgic."
"I believe he has someone there for him, Rykker. In fact, he has an entire family there for him. I owe Blaisdell a debt I can never repay. They have been there for Peter all these years. They were there for him when I wasn't and when Caine was not. Paul loves my grandson as if he were his own flesh and blood. He rescued him out of that orphanage and finished raising him when none of us were around to be family. Annie Blaisdell has been a mother to Peter. She loves him, Rykker. I believe she loves him every bit as much as Laura. I also believe my daughter would approve of Annie Blaisdell taking her place when she could no longer be there for her son. Paul can be proud. He has raised a fine man. One that any family would be proud of."
"I absolutely agree. There is no way either
of us can ever repay the debt owed to Paul Blaisdell and his family. I
am not trying to take away from, or lessen in any way what they have done
for my nephew and I certainly do not want to see them hurt. If I believed
for one second that was even a possibility, I would not be doing this,
but I also know that they have always wanted what is best for Peter. I
am telling you P.T, Paul and Annie Blaisdell understand Peter's need for
family, for connections.....blood connections. Your grandson is devoted
to the Blaisdell family. There is nothing you or anyone else could do
that would pull him away from them. Absolutely nothing! So, if that's
why you are running scared...."
"No Rykker! While it is a concern, it is not what has me running scared, little brother. It's not what has me more scared than I have ever been in my miserable life!" Sinclair sighed heavily. "It is facing Laura's son, my grandson, that has me tied in knots. How am I going to explain, Rykker? Huh? How the hell am I going to explain? He is going to want to know where I have been. Why wasn't I there when he needed me? Where was I when he was rotting in that orphanage? And now Caine has run out on him, again!" Sinclair locked eyes with his younger brother. "You know what the bottom line is here? What scares me the most?"
Rykker's gaze never wavered. His heart was heavy with the raw anguish he saw swimming in the depths of his brother's eyes. He sat quietly watching him twist in the wind. A wind of his own fabricated guilt, was his personal opinion, but that did not make it any less painful. After all, he well knew how easy to put on that heavy cloak of guilt and how difficult, sometimes impossible, to take it off.
"That he will hate my guts! I'm petrified
to stand before that kid and have him hold me accountable for the mistakes
of my past. I am scared out of my mind that he will realize I could not
save his mother and I did not save him!"
Rykker spoke first, softly, "I'll be standing right beside you, big brother. You know I'll see this thing through, whatever the outcome. You have always been there for me my entire life and I can do no less. I have gotten to know my great-nephew over the last several years and I am not saying this will be easy. Knowing Peter, we are probably in for one wild ride, but I also have great faith in the ability of grandfather and grandson to work through the rough spots. The hardest battles garner the greatest rewards, P.T."
Sinclair raised his head and looked across at his
brother. "Funny, Blaisdell said almost the same thing this afternoon.
I believe his words were, 'Sometimes the most difficult path reaps the
A slight smile touched Sinclair's lips as he spoke.
"You know the problem with your enemies, little brother?"
"Paul went home to fill Annie in on our afternoon
meeting. He is supposed to call me here around 8:00 O'clock." Both
men glanced at the large grandfather clock sitting in one corner of the
room, its hands now showing 7:40 p.m.
Rykker shifted positions slightly. "Okay,
sounds good to me. Mind if I stick around until, oh say, 8:05 or so?"