by Grasshopper

Chapter 15

**This chapter is for someone who saw something of himself in Cody and is brave enough to keep reading. You rock, D !!


Her wedding day dawned to drizzling rain and ominous rumbles of thunder. Allison Brubaker rose from her single bed for the last time, her mind filled with hope, but more than a small amount of facing the inevitable.

A lonely child, gifted, but lacking in physical beauty, she had gone to the best schools, learned her lessons well, social and scholastic, and was ready for the adult world. She had always hidden her shyness behind a very caustic wit that would verge on dry sarcasm. It was better to strike first before someone could find her weak points. She had won the respect, if not admiration, of her peers.

Marrying Charles Taylor was a social disaster, but a much thought-out monetary/status building step. He was far below her on the social ladder and had no money, but he was the most promising archeology student Yale had ever produced.

Archeology was the one area that held Allison's attention. All her social equals were simply marrying into money and taking their positions in the social register, but she wanted more. She wanted to make a name for herself in man's world. She had the money........he had the gift. It was a match made in......well, made in her mind.

Charles had been an easy target, her money luring him in. The dreams of expensive digs in faraway lands, financed by his own wife, cinched the deal.

Allison had exchanged love for position. She knew it and Charles knew it, so the marriage seemed ideal. She never yearned for those stupid emotions that made you weak. She wanted to advance in a man's world and make a name for herself and Charles Taylor was the key to that locked door.

The wedding was elaborate, the Greenwich estate filled with flowers and all the powerful people.

Mr. and Mrs. Allistair Brubaker request your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Allison Katherine
Charles Edgar Taylor
June 14, 1979

People whispered behind their hands and smirked at the 'nobody' that the poor Brubakers were being saddled with. But, they were lucky to get her off their hands, what with Allison always having been such a difficult, odd child.

The wedding gift from the bride's parents had been a huge check to cover the archeological study that would serve as a combination dig/honeymoon. Allison knew that when she walked out that front door, she would never look back. She would build a world of her own making, on the shoulders of this man she had married.

That night, at the Plaza Hotel, in the honeymoon suite, Allison Brubaker Taylor had submitted to the intimacies of the marriage bed with gritted teeth and a comment of "Are you finished?'

Charles, his mind already listing the items that were needed for the dig, just grunted in response, rolled off her, walked over to the rosewood desk and began to write his thoughts in the trip ledger.

Both had what they wanted...............neither knew there was anything more.


The malaria kicking up again, Charles and Allison were forced home to the doctor-recommended dry air of New Mexico. Charles had wired his father that they would arrive on the 17th. Edgar Taylor read the telegram, turned to his gentle wife, Soft Wind and sighed.

"Our son is coming to stay for awhile, he and his wife."

Soft Wind knew the tension that lay in those words. She and Edgar never spoke about their son. She knew the reasons but hid from them.

Edgar and Soft Wind had received an invitation to the wedding, but Edgar had declined, using his health as an excuse. They had never met Allison. The last time they had seen Charles was once briefly, when he had come to New Mexico to be part of a discussion at the University in Albuquerque. He had been dismissive and abrupt, treating his parents like strangers. He knew that they knew his secrets, but he was their son.

Charles and Alison had arrived and been given the biggest bedroom, Edgar and Soft Wind having moved their things to one of the spare rooms. Charles was still weak from the latest round of medicines and spent his days lying in the sun, reading journals. Allison made no attempt to find closeness with her mother-in-law, despite Soft Wind's hesitant attempts. It was as if the ranch house was a hotel and Charles and Allison were paying guests.

The days were long..........Allison began to ride out into the desert, carrying a few digging tools. She would ride out past Wild Horse Ravine and Red Coyote Pass, into the dry, desolate cliffs. They suited her, this woman with no spark, no ember of passion.

She tied her long chestnut hair back with a blue velvet ribbon, wore a wide brimmed hat, as she rode further and further each day out into the hot desert.

Hot and thirsty, she slowed her horse and lifted her chin to drink deeply from the canteen. He eyes caught a movement and a man appeared, etched against the brilliant sun. Standing on the cliffs, his long black hair flowing, his feet encased in laced leather moccasins, he was the embodiment of the cactus, the sagebrush, the very sand of the desert.

They stared, he from his high cliff, she from her saddle, the only sound the whisper of the wind. Allison felt a rivulet of sweat trickle down her back and an odd aching in her breasts. She twisted the reins, clicked her horse to move and left him standing there in the hot desert sun.

The days ticked by. All the reasons not to go back whispering in her head, she rode out, her hair brushed and tied with a sliver of blue velvet ribbon.

Not knowing his name, not understanding the emotion, the only sound a roaring in her ears, the only feeling a quivering, a want, Allison stepped from one world into another.

She found him, tall and slim, dark skinned and beautiful, as if he had been waiting. No words........his hand reached for hers, his chocolate eyes reached into her soul.

He took her there, on a blanket in the sand in the shadows of Wild Horse Ravine. The passion, hot and powerful, the desire ripping apart every rule she'd ever set.

"I must go," he whispered.
"Take me with you."
"I cannot."
"Will you come back?"
"Take this...to remember." She handed him the blue ribbon from her hair.

She wanted to beg, but could not. She rode home, feeling the cloak of her life fall over her once again. She never felt the hate-filled eyes that watched from the jagged rocks.

She rode out each day, full of wishes and dreams of another world, but he never returned. How could he have made her feel all that and never come back?

Charles watched her ride in, his eyes shielded by dark glasses. He saw the sadness in her face, in the way her shoulders slumped. He smiled to himself, twisted the blue velvet ribbon around his fingers and hummed softly, a little nursery rhyme his mother had sung to him....'One little, two little, three little Indians......"


Jase called the airport and got tickets for the next available flight. He had tried to talk Davy into staying with Ty, but it was no go.

"I'm going, Daddy. Cody is mine too. He needs to come home. He said he'd never leave."

It was easier to take him than to argue anymore. He noticed as he packed a duffle for Davy that the bunny's ear stuck out of the zipper. Davy was taking his mother with him.

The flight was long and scrunched, even with Jase opting for the extra leg room of the emergency door. He had stowed his cowboy hat and their carry-ons in the overhead and tried to concentrate on the movie playing on the back of the seat, but Will Smith blowing people up was not taking his mind off Cody.

What was he going to say? How was he going to convince Cody that their life was together, in Drifter? Why had Cody gone off with this stupid fuck? Why hadn't he said goodbye...........at least left a note?

Cody had never given him any details about this jerk. All Jase knew was that he had hurt Cody. That he was some important guy at a museum and he hurt young boys. Jase felt anger rolling in a hot knot in his belly. Whoever this guy was, whatever he thought he was gonna have by coming for Cody.... He was gonna have to go through Jase to get it. This fucker was goin' down.

Agent Pierce had given Jase an address. That's all he had to go on, but it would be enough. He'd go to the museum if he had to. There was no way this fool was going to ever hurt Cody again.


Jase looked over at Davy, "Hmm?"

"Why did Cody leave and go back to New York?"

Jase didn't know any words except the truth. "He thought we would blame him for what his father did. He was so scared of that he ran away."

"He was embarrassed?"

"Yeah, I guess you could call it that."

"And we can get him to come home?"

"We can try, Davy. We can sure as hell try."

Cody stayed close to Elijah. His twin had always given him strength and this time was no different. Jeffers stopped to admire a painting hanging on the wall and 'Lijah whispered, "Who is this guy? I thought you were happy with your cowboy."

"It's a long story, 'Lij. I had to leave."

"Is it because of what Father has done?"

"Yes, I couldn't stay. Father killed people that Jase loved. He'll never be able to look at me again." Cody felt tears building and blinked them back.

"Are you sure you're giving him enough credit, Cody?"

"I'm giving him an 'out'. He's wonderful and I can't be there as a reminder every day of what he lost."

"So......you chose this jerk?" He nodded his head toward Mackenzie, who was checking the bottom of a Ming vase, dollar signs in his eyes.

"I ran, 'Lij."

"Looks like it, but to what?"

A loud tapping sound grabbed their attention, Elijah rolling his eyes and Cody sighing, "Mother."

Ever since the accident outside Beijing, their mother had walked with a gold headed cane, the image of a coyote carved into the wood. She used it to gather attention, just as she was doing now by rapping it on the floor. Opening the door to the library, Cody took a deep breath and walked through, his brother on one side, Mackenzie Jeffers following behind.


"Dakota," Allison nodded her head towards her son, "I see you brought company." She pulled the bell cord and told the girl to set one more place for lunch. Offering her hand, she said coolly, "I am Allison Brubaker Taylor. And you are?"

Cody noticed the emphasis on the 'Brubaker' and how her mother's voice seemed to die off as she said 'Taylor'. He didn't blame her, not after what his father had done. He was ashamed of his name too.

Allison's long graceful fingers surprised Jeffers with their strength and the calluses he felt. She looked every bit the wealthy matriarch of this mansion. He had forgotten that she still dug in the dirt looking for bones. Her words surprised him even more.

"You're here to discuss your father, Dakota." It wasn't a question.

"Yes," Cody replied. "I can't believe everything he did. I need you to tell me how this happened, Mother."

"I will tell you what I know, but this isn't for strangers to the family." She stood up and stared at Jeffers. "I'll have Sarah show you to the rose garden."

"I'm a close friend of Dakota's," Mackenzie said, "I don't think he'd mind me hearing this."

"But I would," Allison stated, one eyebrow slightly quirked. "Sarah, show this....................." she paused slightly, "Gentleman to the gardens."

The door closed behind him, Cody walked over to his mother. "Please, how did we get to this point? I always knew he was different....cold, but this? He murdered all those girls. He killed people he didn't even know.....for what?"

"Dakota, sit down. It won't help to agonize over this." Allison sat back in her chair and clutched the cane firmly.

"Mother, how can you be so calm? He was your husband. You must have known what he was like."

"I knew he was cold and unfeeling and cruel, yes. Now that I know what was happening, I know he was capable of these horrible acts."

Elijah asked, "Why did you stay with him if he was cruel?"

"He gave me the prestige I needed to work in a man's world. He hated that I was as good as he was, but he needed my family's money and I needed his abilities. We were a good team."

"Did you ever love him?" Cody asked quietly.

Allison sighed and was quiet for a few seconds, "No," she finally answered. "I never loved him."

"So," Cody hated to say it but it needed saying, "Elijah and I were born from no love. You just wanted a child?"

Allison had kept the secret for so long that the hinges were rusted out on the little door where she'd kept it hidden. It pained her to turn the key.

"No, you and Elijah were born from the only love I ever felt." She felt tears, so odd to feel the burning behind her eyes.

She hadn't cried since the day she'd been forced to tell Charles she was pregnant and he had called her 'Whore', beating her so badly she thought she would lose the baby.

From that day forward, he had kept his thumb on her, on the secret of 'their children'. He had never looked at her again with any emotion in his eyes.

Cody felt Elijah slide his arm around his twin and they sat quietly, waiting for their mother to continue. Elijah whispered, "I knew it! I always knew we didn't come from him."

Cody felt the huge knot in his heart loosen just a little. "Tell us, Mother. Please."

Allison sighed, "It was in the desert. I met him in the desert. He was strong and beautiful and something inside me broke loose."

"Where is he? Can we meet our father?"

She made a soft keening sound in her throat. "I never saw him again. We were together once and even though I rode back day after day, he never came back."

"Do you have anything of his that we could use to find our father?"

"I only gave him the ribbon from my hair," she murmured. She remembered it like it was yesterday, slipping the ribbon off and folding it into his strong hand.

Cody frowned. Slowly, he said, "What kind of ribbon, Mother?"

Allison smiled, her thoughts going back, "It was a long sliver of sky blue velvet ribbon that Soft Wind gave me. She said if I wore it, I'd find happiness."

OMG!! Cody tried to keep his face impassive, but he knew. He couldn't contain the emotions shooting through him and jumped up to stare out the window. Wheeling around, he looked at his mother, "Elijah and I were conceived with a stranger in the desert when you were staying with Grandpa and Grandma in Drifter?"

Elijah, his eyes round with shock, just gaped at his mother. "You don't know his name?"

Allison knew how ridiculous it sounded. If she hadn't been there and been half of it, she wouldn't believe it either.

"No, we only spoke a few words."

"Mother!!" Elijah choked.

"Wait.....wait," Cody intervened. "Grandma Soft Wind gave you the ribbon?"


Cody's mind was whirling. He'd heard the voices on the cliff that night when Davy pulled that trigger. He knew that Tommy and Charity had held their child. He'd grown up sitting in Grandma Soft Wind's lap, her Helaku, hearing her tales of spirits and mystery, all unexplainable. He had to tell Jase all this. Jase would know what to.......................

But Jase wasn't here. He'd run away from him and now he knew there had been no reason to go. But, how could he go back? He was a coward who ran at the first sign of trouble.

"Mother, do you have any idea what happened to our real father?"

Allison swallowed, "I always felt that Charles knew. That he knew what happened, why my Indian never came back. Cody, Elijah, look at me."

The boys reached for each other's hand. They waited.

"I would have gone with him. If he had asked, I would have gone. I want you to know that."

Cody felt 'Lij squeeze his hand. He squeezed back.

"After you were born, one so like me and one so like your father," Allison smiled at Cody, "I knew that was all the passion I was going to feel. I know I wasn't the best mother, but I love you. You're all I have of him. I think you are the best of us both."

Cody knew he should tell his mother about the blue ribbon and how Charles, he couldn't use the word 'father' anymore, had included a blue velvet ribbon in all the murders. It had to be because of what she had done. He just knew it. Somehow, Charles had known.

But, it could wait. There was enough right now. He had to think it through.

"Mother, when he took Jase's son Davy, he kept trying to make Davy call him 'father'."

"The FBI told me that," she said. "He always knew you weren't his sons. He wanted a son to show to the world. He pretended that you two were his for a long time, but then it all started falling apart."


Allison thought back to New Mexico and the years they had lived with Edgar and Soft Wind, leaving the twins while they moved around the world digging for history.

"You were born in 1982 and for ten years, your fath..............Charles and I traveled from one site to another. I would spend a month here, a month there in Drifter with you, then Charles would come and take me to another dig. He would always have a lecture or a discussion at the local universities in New Mexico when he came home. I never thought about what he was doing.....I never thought much about him at all. I know what he was doing now," she said, her face crushed. "I would have stopped him. I swear, I would have stopped him. I would have killed him to stop him."

"Shhh, Mother. Of course you would have."

"It all fell apart one night when Charles and your grandfather Edgar were out walking. Charles tripped and fell on sharp rocks. He cut his chest. His father tore open his shirt to look and found scars. I don't know what they meant, but Edgar did. He told Charles to go, to leave and never come back."

"That was when we had to move away?"

"Yes, but your Grandpa Edgar never realized that Charles would take you two. He loved you so much. I don't know what caused him to send us away, but we only went back once, for your grandmother Soft Wind's funeral."

"I loved her so much," Cody whispered.

"And she loved you, little Helaku, and you little Halona," Allison smiled. "I should have gotten you back there, but it was simpler to put you in private schools and try to forget those scars on your fathe............Charles' chest."

There was a sharp knock on the library door, and it opened without waiting. "I've waited long enough out in your gardens," Mackenzie sneered. "I'm not partial to pollen."

Allison looked at her son. She saw the fear and revulsion in his eyes. Standing up to her full imposing height, she walked toward the stranger, pointing her cane directly in the center of his chest. "I have no idea why you are in my house. You arrived with my son, but you will leave without him." Turning to Cody, she asked, "Do wish him to remain?"

Cody raised his eyes to the man he feared, and saw the throbbing anger. He thought of Jase and Davy and what he had left behind. "No, Mother."

"I'll be damned if you think you can just...............," Jeffers spluttered.

Allison pushed on the bell twice. A few seconds later, a tall muscular man tapped on the door. "Ma'am?"

"This........ gentleman is leaving. Please escort him off the property, Phillip."

"Will do, Ma'am. Sir, please come this way." Phillip put his hand on Jeffers' arm.

"Do NOT touch me," Mackenzie roared. "I can find my own way out, but Dakota," he snarled, "This is far from over. I will have you arrested. You know I can."

Cody drew a deep breath. He felt Elijah's arm around him and his mother's strength. "Goodbye, Mackenzie. I'm better than you."

"This isn't over," Jeffers cried, his voice echoing down the open hallway.

Cody knew it truly wasn't over, but at least, for now, he had room to think. He had so many questions and no answers. He needed Jase so badly, he ached with it. He'd left him in Drifter and he was ashamed to call.

"Daddy?" Davy's voice was awed as they walked through the terminal at JFK.


"This is some big place," his eyes widened as they stepped out onto the sidewalk and got in the cab line. "So many people; where are they all going?"

Jase laughed. "You haven't seen anything yet, Davy Boy."

The cab ride was a nightmare, the driver Russian with no knowledge of the English language. Jase finally yelled, "I'm gonna give you $20, no more, so quit taking us on a tour and get us to the Marriott Marquis on 49th Street."

Davy's face was pressed up against the dirty window glass as he watched the people, cars and tall buildings flash by. "I've never seen so many people in my whole life," he gasped.

The hotel room was $200 a night and was no bigger than a closet. The AC was stuck on low. Jase tried to slide the window open, but it was painted shut. He searched the room, but there was no little fridge and the ice machine was broken. The sooner they got what they came for......Cody......the sooner they could go home. He just wanted to smell the warm fresh desert air and not the stale old cigarette smoke.

"Daddy, this is where Cody lives?"


"Now I know we've gotta take him home, Daddy. Cody's like me, he needs the desert, right?"

"He does, Davy. I bet he misses it already." Jase stood by the small window, gazing down at the tiny people scurrying below. "As soon as it's light, we'll go find him."

Jase had decided that since he had Davy with him, he wouldn't try to go at Mackenzie Jeffers at his apartment. If he'd been alone, he'd just go there and beat the shit out of him, but he had Davy to think about.

"We'll go to Cody's mother's house in Connecticut first thing in the morning. I bet Cody's there right now, having a nice dinner and okay."

"You sure, Daddy?" Davy was so worried about Cody. He wouldn't rest easy til he could hug him.

"I'll bet you he is." Jase stared out the window, thinking about Cody. 'Please be there and safe and warm. I'll be there soon. Trust me on it, baby.'

As soon as it was light, the McBrides were up. Jase pulled on tight black jeans, a fitted navy blue long sleeved shirt with pearl snaps, his alligator boots and held his black Stetson in his hand, waiting for Davy.

Davy was struggling with his boots. His jeans legs were tight and his boots didn't want to slide up under. "Tuck 'em on in the boots, Davy. " Jase knelt down beside his son and eased the boots up over the pants legs. "There, we're all set."

The elevator was crowded and Jase tugged Davy close up in front of him. The doors opened and the elevator spewed its contents out into the busy lobby.

As Jase and Davy stood outside the front doors to get their bearings, people jostled them. Jase felt Davy glued to his leg. Jase had been planning to rent a car but decided that they'd be much better off riding the train. His few trips to New York never prepared him for the crush of people and the rush of activity and he knew Davy was almost hyperventilating.

"This is more people than I've probably ever seen in my whole life," Davy called up through the noise.

They crossed 49th Street and followed the crowd down into the mouth of the subway. Luckily, they only had one stop, 42nd Street, and Jase had to take time to show Davy Times Square.

The shuttle carried them to Grand Central and they plopped, exhausted, into their seats on the train that would take them to Greenwich. The scenery whizzed by and Davy stared out the window.

"What if Cody's mama doesn't like us?" Davy asked, his voice full of stress.

"How could anyone not like you?" Jase teased. "Besides, we're not here to find his mama. We just want to find Cody, right?"

"Daddy, what if he won't come home?"

'What if he won't?' Jase thought. There had been so much happening in the last few days. All Jase wanted was to get back to the time before, the time when he and Cody had been in love and life hadn't suckerpunched them. He thought he understood why Cody had gone off with that jerk, but what if he had changed his mind, now that he was back here? What if he wanted to stay? Jase, as much as he loved Cody, couldn't bring Davy here.

"Ten minutes to Greenwich, Connecticut," a voice announced.

"That's Cody, right Daddy?"

"Yeah, that's Cody."

Elijah went to call Becca and check on the baby. He hugged Cody tightly before he left the room.

Cody sat quietly, staring at a painting he'd just noticed over the mantel. He stood up and walked over to look closely. He smiled.

"Mother, this is Wild Horse Ravine, isn't it?"

She smiled a rather melancholy smile. "It's all I have. I can remember the day, the way the air smelled, the big tumbleweed that blew by as I stared at him for the first time. He was magnificent, Dakota. You have the look of him."

"All these years, Mother. How have you borne it?"

"I decided he never really wanted me. It was just an aberration, one that gave me two beautiful sons, but not the love I thought I felt."

Cody decided he needed to help her with her memories. "Mother, this will hurt, but I believe he would have come back." He rushed on with his words. "The ribbon, Mother........every time someone was killed, he left a blue velvet ribbon tied in their hair. He had to have known about you.....about you and............ my father."

Allison took the blow to her heart and gasped in a breath. "You mean, you think Charles killed him too?"

Cody said quietly, "I don't believe in coincidences anymore. You gave the ribbon to your........ lover, and he never came back. You feel that he would have. There were blue ribbons tied at every murder and even on Davy's lop eared rabbit. He used them as his signature. They were his way of saying "Fuck you", I think."

Allison gripped the head of her cane and suddenly lashed out at a lamp sitting innocently on the side table, sending it flying across the room.

"How could Edgar keep this knowledge inside?" she sighed. "He must have known. If nothing else, he knew when Charles hurt you. It was always you, Dakota, never Elijah. He would 'accidently' burn you or drop you or play too roughly."

"I guess he was Grandpa's son and that counted for more than we can understand." Cody thought about Davy and how he would protect him with his life.....He supposed Grandpa felt at same way about his son.

"He left the ranch to you. He must have tried to say he was sorry," Allison said quietly.

"And I went to Drifter to do something with it and I met Jase."

Allison looked at her son's face, the softening when he said that name. "Tell me about this Jase."

Cody sighed, "He's everything I've ever wanted, Mother. He's kind and loving. He makes me laugh."

"Is he handsome?"

Cody grinned for the first time in days. "He's gorgeous."

"Then, why are you here?"

"My father..........Charles.........killed people that Jase loved. I didn't see how he could ever look at me again, knowing it was my father that ruined his life."

"But, we know different now. Do you think he will understand?"

"I'm so scared, Mother. I want this so much, but what if he can't see past my name?"

"Then he doesn't deserve you, my beautiful son."

"I'm going to walk down to the water. I have to think. We have so much to do, to take care of. All the pieces are still not put together. I can't think properly when I'm not with Jase."

She patted him gently on the shoulder. "Someone you love that much must be a good man. Surely he will understand. You need to call him."

"I will. I just need to figure out the right words." Cody opened the French doors that led to the terrace and walked slowly down the stone steps that faced the Atlantic. He toed off his docksiders an began to walk down the wooden stairs towards the sand.

It was a different sand. It wasn't the sand of the desert he loved. It was cool to the touch, wet and tightly packed. He missed the warm breeze and the hot sand under his feet, the smell of the desert cactus blossom and the flutter of the crested quail. He wanted so much to go home. He wandered along the surf line, Jase's eyes burning into his mind. He would beg if he had to. He wanted to go home.

Allison heard the doorbell chime and listened as Sarah opened the front door. She heard muffled voices and then a tap on her door. "Mrs. Taylor, you have visitors."

The door opened and she knew immediately who this was. Standing, she held out her hand, "Allison Taylor, Mr. McBride, and this must be Davy."

Jase looked around the room. No Cody. He was too late. "Yes, Ma'am. Hello. Jase McBride, and this is my son, Davy. We were looking for your son." He felt Davy's hand tighten in his and felt his world just stop.

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