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Authors: Melissa Delport

The Legend

BOOK: The Legend
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THE LEGEND

book three of the legacy trilogy

Melissa Delport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First published by Tracey McDonald Publishers, 2015

Office: 5 Quelea Street, Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2191

 

www.traceymcdonaldpublishers.com

 

Copyright text © Melissa Delport 2015

All rights reserved

 

 

The moral right of the author has been asserted

 

 

ISBN 978-0-620-62494-7

e-ISBN (ePUB) 978-0-620-62495-4

e-ISBN (PDF) 978-0-620-62496-1

 

 

Text design and typesetting by Reneé Naude

Cover design by Apple Pie Graphics

Printed and bound by Paarl Media, Paarl

 

 

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the

condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold,

hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in

any form of binding other than that in which it is published and without a

similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent

purchaser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To everyone who has loved this trilogy –
this final book is for you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

leg·end
n
.

One who inspires legends or achieves legendary fame.

 

 

 

 

“There is a moment in every person's life when you crave the darkness, and want to give in to the void. It is in that very moment, when your soul has been cleaved apart, that only the bonds forged in the crucible of war can bring you back.”

Melissa Delport

 

 

 

prologue

I
can hear them. I can hear every word, every sigh, every pleading whisper of my name. The conversations come and go, I hear them all, and yet I cannot bring myself to wake up.

“Is there any change?” The General's booming voice is louder than the others.

“No,” my father replies, his own voice weary.

“Is there nothing you can do?”

General Ross addresses someone else in the room and I hear Henry reply. “I already told you, no. She will wake up when she's ready.”

“You're sure of that?”

“I'm not sure of anything.”

“Don't look at me like that, Jeffrey, we need her information.”

“My daughter may die, Harrison! I don't give a damn about the information she might have.” My father's pain hurts me, but not nearly as much as it should. An eerie numbness has settled over me and I'm not ready to relinquish it yet.

“There is still a war going on out there.” The General's voice is softer. “A war she believed in. And I, for one, intend to see it through.”

“Get out,” I hear the answering hiss and the room falls silent.

“You've been here long enough,” Reed speaks, and I feel the hand that is holding mine tighten involuntarily.

“I'm not going anywhere, McCoy.” I recognise Aidan's voice. Aidan's hand is holding mine.

“Go and get some rest, son,” Henry urges. “You've been here all day.”

“I'm
not
leaving her.”

“Don't make me make you.” Reed's drawl is menacing.

“Enough! You heard Jeffrey. You can't both be in here – your fighting does her no good. Aidan, you've been here for hours. Go and get some rest; let Reed sit with her for a while.” Aidan sighs his unwilling agreement.

The creaking of bed springs is followed by the gentle scraping of a chair being pushed back.

“I'll give you some time alone,” Henry murmurs from across the room, and I hear two sets of footfalls moving away. A bigger, rougher hand takes mine, and another brushes my hair off my face. I can smell soap and a hint of leather.
Reed.

“Ah, Tiny.” His voice stirs up so many memories, but it's as if I am seeing them through a veil – seeing, but not feeling. “You've really done it now. I knew you'd break my heart in the end, but I always assumed it would be because you went back to him. Not like this. Not like this . . .” His voice breaks and he rests his head on the edge of my bed, still holding my hand, but he says nothing more.

“What exactly is wrong with her?” Reed demands, what feels like hours later.

“Nothing.” Henry is frustrated and I don't blame him. The questions are endless. “There is nothing physically wrong with her, not that I can tell. She has healed, perfectly – her heart rate is strong – there is no physiological reason why she can't wake up. I've told you this before.”

“Yeah, you also said it's all in her head.” Typical Reed, hiding his fear with sarcasm.

“It is, Reed. It's psychological. Her body is trying to protect her mind. The trauma that she's been through . . . she's not ready to deal with it.”

“And if she's never ready to deal with it?”

“I think we all have to face the possibility that Rebecca might never wake up.” A low hiss emanates from Reed, but Henry ignores it. “You must understand that we cannot sustain her on a drip forever. She has already lost too much weight, and she will weaken over time.”

Reed runs his hand over my abdomen and I want to shrink away from his touch, but I cannot move.

“How long?” he asks.

“It's hard to say.”

“Hazard a guess, then.”

“A month . . . maybe a little longer.”

Reed stands up abruptly and even with my eyes closed I can sense that his legendary temper is spinning out of control. The door slams violently against the wall as he strikes it, but I barely notice, and I am only grateful for the quiet of his absence.

He returns sooner than I expected.

“You bring her back,” he growls, and I hear the sounds of a struggle.

“Get your hands off me!” Aidan roars.

“Sit.” Aidan falls heavily into the chair beside me, and I can only assume that Reed has forced him into it. “You bring her back, Braveheart.” Reed's voice breaks. “Rebecca will not die, do you understand me?” Then there is silence.

Why won't they leave me alone?
I can feel the warmth of Aidan's grasp again, but rather than finding it comforting it makes me ill at ease. The slight dampness as my palm begins to sweat isn't pleasant.
Why won't they leave me alone?
All I can focus on is that hand, the warmth, the sweat.
Leave me alone!
Desperately, I snatch my hand away, and I hear the collective intake of breath.

“Did you see that?” Aidan's voice.

“Yes!” Henry sounds more animated than I have heard him in weeks. To my dismay, Aidan snatches up my hand again, squeezing it tightly.

“Rebecca,” he calls, his voice in my ear. I can feel his warm breath on my face. “Rebecca, can you hear me?” I don't answer. I don't want to talk to him. I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to be left alone.

The others come, each more annoying than the last. Reed, my father, Kwan, the General. Adam, Morgan, Archer, Michael. Alex is the hardest to ignore. His voice is the only one that strikes a chord – that makes me feel anything. But, even for him, I cannot wake up. There is something flitting at the very edge of my consciousness, something I do not want to face.

Eventually, they give up and my visitors dwindle. Peace, I think. Finally.

And then one day I am entirely on my own. Not a soul in the room to irritate me, no voices to focus on. Nothing. Something must have happened – they would never leave me alone. I have what I have been desperately craving. Silence, and solitude. For the first time I am alone with my thoughts. And, like a floodgate opening, the memories return.

Kenneth Williams, spittle flying from his lips. A dagger piercing my flesh. Logan smashing his heavy fist into my face. Mason punching me brutally in the stomach. And the blood . . . so much blood. The crimson spreads across my vision. And then, with a surge of agony and rage, I remember.
The baby
. My baby is dead. They killed my baby. I can feel my heart rate accelerating and an anger so black and so hateful rises like a beast in my chest, spreading through my body like a cancer.
They killed my baby.

And, just like that, I finally wake up.

 

 

chapter 1

“You're awake!” Henry's voice rings out as he bustles into the room. He makes his way immediately to my bedside and lifts my arm, checks my heart rate. I try to speak, but my throat is dry and my voice is nothing more than a hoarse whisper. I clear my throat painfully and Henry quickly pours me a glass of water from a pitcher on the bedside table, lifting it carefully to my lips. I take a few sips and then sink back onto the pillows. I stare down at the drip in my arm and follow the tube to a small IV bag hanging from a hook on the wall. The plaster around it has cracked and chipped, it was obviously mounted in a hurry. Drawing in a deep breath, I clear my throat again and am pleased to find that this time I am at least audible.

“How long have I been out?”

Henry doesn't answer immediately, checking his wristwatch as he measures my pulse. Finally, he places my hand gently back on the bed, watching me thoughtfully.

“Almost four weeks. They brought you back here just over three weeks ago. You didn't regain consciousness during the journey.” I understand “they” to mean Kwan and Reed. I vaguely remember Reed's arms lifting me gently and Kwan yelling amidst the chaos of death and destruction and blood. They had rescued me from the prison, saved me from Kenneth Williams' torture. But they had been too late to save my baby.

I sit upright and scratch at the adhesive bandage taped over the drip needle in my arm.

“What on earth do you think you're doing?” Henry wrestles my arm away. To my frustration the tape is still firmly in place. My hands look far too pale – they look dead.

“I'm fine, Henry,” I snap, snatching my arm away and getting unsteadily to my feet. I'll take the drip with me if I have to.

“You shouldn't be up,” he scolds.

“I said, I'm fine,” I repeat, swaying slightly on the spot. “I've been in this bed for long enough.”

“You're weak,” he points out, and I feel an irrational wave of anger at the word, but as I open my mouth to retort, a wave of dizziness overcomes me and I slump back on the bed. Henry gives me a pointed look.

“I'll get Jeffrey,” he mutters.

“No!” The word comes out far louder than I had intended. “Harrison,” I say, much more softly now, “I need you to fetch General Ross.”

“Rebecca, your father . . .”

“. . . can wait,” I instruct. “Please, Henry, I wouldn't ask if it weren't important. My father can wait.”

He looks about to argue, but then seems to think better of it. He moves around the bed to another table, busying himself with something, and returns with a bowl of what looks like tinned peaches and a white plastic spoon.

“Eat this,” he orders before leaving the room.

I manage only a few spoonfuls before my stomach churns. I lean across to set the bowl on the bedside table and curse as it clatters to the floor, peaches sliding in all directions. Vertigo overwhelms me and I slump back, waiting for the nausea to subside.

“Miss Davis,” the General barely bothers to lower his voice as he strides into the small makeshift ward, “welcome back.” To my surprise, he looks genuinely pleased, and I consider for a moment that he is perhaps more fond of me than he likes to let on.

“General,” I nod curtly, and then I get down to business. Unlike Henry, the General is quite unfazed by my weakened state and is happy for me to proceed.

“Kenneth Williams has taken control of NUSA.”

Admittedly, it comes out a lot more abruptly than I intended, but I do not have the strength to mince words. The General's shocked reaction is nothing less than I would expect. He opens his mouth to protest, closes it again, and then sits heavily on the chair beside my bed. I wait patiently for him to process this startling revelation.

“You . . . you're sure?” he asks eventually, and I can see him silently pleading with me to deny the accusation, to reassure him that Kenneth Williams is the kind, Resistance-sympathetic man he has believed him to be for almost thirty years. Unfortunately, I don't have time to beat around the bush.

“He did this to me,” I gesture at my weakened body and the General averts his eyes uncomfortably, “so, yeah, I'm pretty damned sure.”

Henry granted my request, but he also wasted no time in doing what he felt was the right thing. I have only ten minutes to debrief General Ross before my father bursts through the door to my room, his face ashen. As his gaze falls on me, a flood of colour rises on his cheeks, and his eyes crinkle as he tries not to betray the extent of his emotion.

“Bex!” he rushes to my side, snatching my hand from the sheets and squeezing it in his own. “How are you feeling?”

“I'm fine,” I insist, smiling indulgently at his concern. “Really, Dad, I'm fine. But I'm afraid I have some bad news.” Looking at his expectant face, I find that I do not want to be the one to tell him. I don't want to deal with the aftermath of his learning the truth about the man he has spent his life protecting.

“What is it?” he prompts, a troubled frown creasing his forehead.

“Actually, I'm feeling a bit weak.” I change course abruptly. “Perhaps the General would be so kind as to fill you in . . . I think I need to rest.”

“Of course,” Harrison Ross gets to his feet and jerks his head in the direction of the door.

“I'll be back in a minute,” my dad promises, kissing my forehead before following his friend out of the room.

I close my eyes, feigning sleep. The black caustic hatred is festering – I can feel it pumping through my blood and my resolve hardens. I made a promise – a promise to Kenneth Williams and his deputy Mason. I promised that I would kill them both, and I intend to keep my word.

“Bex.” My father's voice is a gentle murmur and reluctantly I open my eyes. His grey eyes, so like my own, are glistening with unshed tears and the pain of guilt. “I am so sorry,” he continues, his voice breaking slightly, and I shift uncomfortably in the narrow
bed.

I know why he feels guilty. Kenneth Williams was his friend and he would have died to protect the Vice-President. My father had trusted him implicitly, had neglected his own family to keep him safe. And Kenneth Williams had betrayed him – had betrayed us all, but my father the most. He had tortured me, his only child, to within an inch of my life. And he had murdered my unborn child. I give a small shake of my head, determined not to think about the baby.

“It's okay, Dad, it's not your fault. You couldn't have known . . .”

“I should have!” he argues vehemently. “I was a fool! And you have paid the price . . .” He tries visibly to calm himself and I say nothing.

“What is going on out there?” I ask eventually. “What progress have we made with the raids?”

My father eyes me quizzically, but he doesn't answer. Instead, he brings up a subject I have been dreading.

“I would have thought that your first question would concern Alex.”

Of course Alex had been my first conscious thought, but there was a part of me that wanted to put off seeing him. I wanted to hold on to the anger that was consuming me and giving me purpose. I also knew that seeing Alex meant seeing Aidan, and I wanted to avoid him too. Ironically, I am saved from having to reply by the very thing I fear.

“Mom!” Alex shrieks the second he comes through the door. He throws himself into my arms and I squeeze him back tightly for a moment, before holding him at arm's-length.

“Let me get a look at you.” I scrutinise every inch of him. He seems healthy and happy, his delighted smile tugging at my conscience. Over his head I glimpse a movement in the doorway, and Aidan appears, a blazing expression on his face.

“Bex,” he strides towards me, his eyes never leaving mine, and then he swoops me into his arms in a bone-crushing hug. “God, I thought I had lost you,” he murmurs into my hair, so that only I can hear him. I remain awkwardly impassive in his embrace and am relieved when he finally lets me go. He doesn't seem to notice my detachment and Alex is beaming up at the two of us, but my father, who has stepped away from my bedside, is wearing the same guarded expression as he watches my every move.

“Mom, guess what?” I force a smile and take Alex's hand.

“What?”

“Dad remembers!” Alex shrieks happily, and I feel the air whoosh from my body. “He remembers everything, don't you, Dad?” I meet Aidan's eyes, warm, brown and staring at me with all the love I remember in the depths of his gaze. He does remember, finally. And yet I feel empty, and I couldn't care less.

“That's wonderful,” I smile, “truly wonderful. You must be relieved.” His own answering smile falters and I can see the resignation come over him. Aidan knows Reed and I were together when his memory was gone. He now believes that my anticlimactic reaction to this revelation is because of my feelings for Reed, and I am happy to let him believe that for now – it saves me having to deal with him.

“Yeah,” he nods, averting his gaze and taking a few steps backwards.

“I'm feeling a bit tired,” I apologise and Aidan takes the hint, allowing Alex one last hug and then, without another word, he shepherds him out of the room.

“What?” I snap, sensing my father's bewilderment.

“Nothing,” he replies softly. “I'll see you later, Bex.”

It takes longer than I expected before Reed steps into the confined space.
His green eyes are red-ringed, with dark shadows beneath them as though he has not slept for days. He has also lost weight and his sandy blond hair is darker than I remember and almost long enough to pull back into a ponytail.

“Hi,” he drawls, taking in every inch of me.

“Hi,” I force a smile that feels as uncomfortable as it is insincere.

Reed doesn't rush across the room, or take me in his arms. He remains standing in the doorway, seemingly unsure of his reception. The silence stretches between us and I clear my throat awkwardly.

“You okay?” he asks eventually.

“Yeah, fine.” I smooth down the blanket, for want of something to do. I don't want him here – I don't want to do this.

“No, you're not,” he sighs. He takes a hesitant step into the room, and his gaze comes to rest on my flat stomach. “I'm sorry, Rebecca.”

“For what? You saved my life.”

He ignores me. “Why didn't you tell me . . . about the baby?”

I had expected him to be angry, but there is only guilt and regret in his tone.

“What difference would it have made?”

“What difference? Seriously? Do you think I would ever have left you if I had known?”

And then it registers. Reed blames himself for what happened to me. He blames himself for leaving me unprotected. Thinking back to the invasion of our Las Vegas headquarters, I know this is not true. There was nothing he could have done to change what happened. In fact, he probably would have got himself killed trying to stop them from taking me, and more people might have been hurt.

“It doesn't matter now.”

“Of course it matters! This is my fault!”

“There was nothing you could have done.”

“You don't know that.”

“Actually, I do.”

“But . . . the baby . . .” his voice rises and he takes a deep breath, trying to regain control of his emotions.

“I don't blame you, Reed.”

He ponders this for a minute and then his eyes meet mine, a lingering question burning in their depths. “How
do
you feel about me?”

The question catches me off guard. Before I was captured by NUSA, when Aidan had no memory of me, Reed and I had been a couple. I had been happy. Reed was my equal in every way and he challenged me, pushed me, while at the same time being fiercely protective. But that was before. What Kenneth Williams had done had changed me. He had killed not just my unborn child, but that part of me that loved, that laughed, that lived for a better world. All I wanted now was vengeance. I couldn't think any further than that.

All these thoughts swirl around my head as I try to find the words to explain, but my silence speaks volumes. A terrible sadness emanates off him as he watches me and, before I can utter a word, he speaks again.

“It's him, isn't it? It's always been him.”

That is so far off the mark that I want to laugh. I have no desire to run into Aidan's open arms. I have no intention of any romance, with either of them – my capacity for love has been damaged beyond repair – but there are no words to make him understand and so I don't say anything. He nods abruptly, acceptingly, and then he rubs his hand over his unshaven face.

“I'll see you later, Tiny.”

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