Thanks to Hazel Kohler – with some help from Mary J. Rudy – who had graciously offered to be my beta reader and had proof-read this story. This is this chapter revised version. C.B.)
Destiny Angel had no intention of leaving Captain Scarlet’s wound unattended. Traitor or not, aware or unaware of what he was doing, he was still a human being – well, sort of, she added to herself grimly – who needed treatment.
He was still unconscious. His wound had stopped bleeding and the dressing Destiny had put on it was now heavily stained a dark brown-red colour. Destiny thought it would be better to change it and to clean up the wound more thoroughly before it became infected.
Captain Grey had fallen asleep, finally giving up to exhaustion. After making sure he was comfortable, Destiny collected the first aid kit and crouched beside the unconscious Scarlet. She removed the dressing on his forehead. Nothing under it but a dark stain of almost dried out blood, she noticed. She frowned. She knew Scarlet was healing fast now, so she deduced the wound would already have reduced itself to a scar. She carefully cleaned up the excess blood to uncover smooth, clean, unmarked skin.
Scarlet suddenly opened his eyes and Destiny, as stunned to see him awake as she was to realize that his injury had already completely disappeared, jumped away from him.
“Destiny!” he gasped, seeing her. He tried to stand up, but his handcuffed arm stopped him. He looked at the restraint in total disbelief. “What is going on here?” he asked, with anger in his voice.
“Don’t tell me you don’t remember!” Destiny almost scoffed, frowning.
He stared at her, his eyes blazing, confused about his present situation. Then the last memories he had – of Captain Ochre’s furious face gazing down at him – came back to him.
“Ochre,” he muttered. “He clubbed me…”
“So, you do remember that,” Destiny noted dryly. “Do you recall why?”
“Damn it! Torey…” Scarlet’s throat tightened. “He’s alive…”
“You tried to kill him,” Destiny reminded him.
Scarlet glared at her, then tried to get up again. She took a step back but the handcuff pulled him back to the seat. He seemed as annoyed as he was frustrated…
… And totally desperate to get free.
“Why am I restrained like this?” he said angrily to the Angel pilot. “Destiny, Torey’s a Mysteron!”
“Do you have any proof of that?” Destiny asked.
“Proof? I saw him dead in the wreckage of the jet!”
“That’s what you say. He told us a different story: you left him there for dead. He said he was thrown out and saw you walking out of the wreck after the crash.”
“I was the one who was thrown out!” Scarlet protested. “And I very nearly broke every bone in my body when I hit the ground. I almost didn’t survive it. Nobody else could have pulled a stunt like that and walked away after… You know that.”
“Yes, I know,” Destiny replied coldly.
Scarlet sighed heavily. “Destiny, nothing human could have survived that crash!”
She stared blankly at him. He then realised what he had just said, but he continued. “Did he seem injured in any way to you?”
“A bit shaken, maybe,” Destiny answered. “And obviously afraid of you.”
“It was all an act, can’t you see that? Destiny, he wasn’t wounded because he is a Mysteron agent. When they recreate their victims, they recreate them whole…”
Still Destiny seemed adamant to his plea. Grey gave a low moan from where he was lying. Scarlet glanced toward him as he opened his eyes. The second his American counterpart saw him awake, he gave him a faint smile. “Hey, Scarlet… you okay?”
Scarlet responded with a sigh of relief. At least one of them seems on my side… “Frustrated, maybe,” he said in answer to his friend. “But physically, I’m fine.” He showed his handcuffed wrist. “Ochre’s idea, I take it?”
“Yeah,” Grey murmured. “Sorry about that. I couldn’t do anything to stop him.”
“The fool,” Scarlet muttered bitterly. He turned back to Destiny. “Where is he? I’ve got to talk to him!”
As Destiny was carefully keeping silent, it was Grey who responded, in a very tired voice: “He’s not here. He’s gone with Torey to try and call Cloudbase, the same as you wanted to do…”
“What?” Scarlet bellowed. “He’s gone climbing that mountain with Torey?”
“Nice going, Captain,” Destiny said sharply to Grey. “Now he knows the two of us are alone with him.”
“And what can he do, restrained like that?” Grey replied weakly.
“Listen to me, Destiny,” Scarlet continued with urgency in his voice, “Torey’s a Mysteron. If Ochre has gone to that mountain with him, he’s as good as dead! And so are the rest of us!”
“Well, in that case,” Destiny retorted icily, “I suppose that leaves you off the hook, since you cannot be killed.”
Scarlet’s face paled, hearing those harsh words. His heart felt terribly heavy, seeing Destiny’s cold expression.
“Why do you hate me so much?” he asked, his words almost catching in his throat.
“I don’t hate you,” the young woman defended herself.
“What is it then?” Scarlet lashed out. “I know you’re uneasy with me. You don’t think I’m the same man as before, isn’t that right?”
“The man I knew is dead.”
“Ochre said the same thing. You’re both wrong.”
“Are we? You were created to do the Mysterons’ bidding.”
“I’m free of their influence, for God’s sake! I have been for the last three weeks. Can’t you see that? I don’t even remember anything of what I did during the time they had me under their control.”
“You, you keep saying that.” Destiny narrowed her eyes, looking sternly at him. “What proof do we really have you are indeed free from them? What can assure us that you are not actually planning to kill us all in these mountains, so the Mysterons can create cloned agents from all of us?”
“Destiny, please, you can’t really believe that!”
“I don’t know what to believe, actually,” Destiny sighed. “All I know is that I don’t want to talk to you.”
She turned her back with the obvious intention of getting out when Scarlet succeeded in getting to his feet and desperately called out to her:
The sound of her first name stopped her and she spun around to face Scarlet. He was looking at her with pleading eyes, reaching out his free hand in her direction. “You KNOW I would never do ANYTHING to hurt you,” he said, almost whispering. “Not of my own free will, Juliette. And I’ve got my own free will. Please, believe me when I say we’re all in terrible danger! I don’t care about me. I only care about you and Brad. Torey will kill Ochre up there, if he hasn’t already… and he’ll come back here to finish the job.”
Grey got up on one elbow and looked up to Destiny, whose hesitation was fairly apparent. “Listen to him, honey,” he murmured. “I believe him. You know, if he’s telling the truth, and I think he is, we’ve got to act fast. Not just for our sakes, but for Rick’s as well.”
“You’re getting worse, Brad,” Destiny noted, with worry in her voice.
“Yeah, I know… I can feel it. And if Torey has his way, I’ll be dead before the day is over. We all will be.”
“I… don’t know what to think any more.”
Captain Scarlet sighed heavily. “If it’s proof you want, I can’t offer you any,” he said. “The only thing I can think of that may change your mind about me, would be for you to go to the crash site of the Aero Special One. If I’m right, the body of the real James Torey will still be there, in the baggage hold… providing his Mysteron reconstruct hasn’t hidden it anywhere else.”
Destiny looked blankly at him. “It is what you did… with the body of the real Captain Scarlet, isn’t it?”
Scarlet shivered; he could see the mere thought of it was excruciatingly painful for the young woman. She’s looking at me as if I’m a monster, he noticed with dismay. He hesitated, and then sighed again, not really knowing what to say. “They say I may have done,” he answered truthfully. He shook his head. “Like I told you… I simply can’t remember.”
She nodded, looking at him coldly, but straight in the eyes. “According to you,” she said, “the path to the wreckage is a half hour walk…”
“More or less,” Scarlet agreed.
“It would take me about an hour to go there and then get back,” Destiny remarked. “And if I find what you say I would find, it may still be too late to save Captain Ochre… if it’s not already too late.”
Scarlet nodded grimly. There wasn’t much he could say on that matter. “I swear to you, Destiny,” he added softly, “it’s not a trick on my part…” He indicated the opening hidden behind the blanket hanging from the side of the capsule. “I must say I would prefer that you stay here. It may be dangerous for you if you go to check the wreckage. It’s on the way to the mountain Ochre and Torey have gone to… You might meet Torey…”
“IF what you say is true.”
“It’s the truth, Juliette. I’m not lying to you.”
He sounded so sincere; Destiny would have loved so much to believe him implicitly. But she was still hesitant to do so. Not withstanding the possible danger of their situation if he was telling the truth, if she were to go check the crash site, that would mean leaving Grey alone with Scarlet… And even if Scarlet was restrained, that was a responsibility she was not sure she was ready to take.
“I… I’m sorry. I can’t reach a decision, right now.”
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting,” Scarlet urged her.
Destiny gave him one last look before pulling the hood of her coat over her head and suddenly turning away from him. He saw her pulling the blanket aside. “Where are you going?” he called to her.
“I have to go check the flares,” was the quick uneasy reply. “They must not get snowed in…”
She didn’t turn back and left hurriedly. A dismayed Scarlet exchanged worried glances with Captain Grey, who didn’t know what to do. “Sorry about that, Paul.”
“Sorry for what?” Scarlet sat back down. “You’re not responsible if I can’t prove myself to two of my friends… who in turn can’t even give me the benefit of the doubt.”
“I wish I knew what Destiny will do,” Grey whispered. “Think she’ll go to the wreck?”
“I really can’t say.” Scarlet tested the strength of the metal chairleg he was secured to. He let out a low, annoyed growl. “I have to find a way to get free before Torey comes back to finish us.”
“I suppose you’re referring to Destiny and me, rather than yourself,” Grey noted, looking at him. “Let’s face it, Scarlet, Destiny is right about that: you’ve got nothing to fear from Torey. After seeing you revive after the incident at the airport, I don’t think there is much that can really injure you permanently.”
“I won’t bet on that one,” Scarlet grumbled. “Anyway, you’ll understand if I’m not eager to put it to the test.”
“Point taken,” Grey sighed. “I wish I could help you. But Ochre has taken the key to the handcuffs with him.”
“Wasn’t trusting you and Destiny to keep me in check?”
“I’d rather say he wasn’t trusting YOU. He knew you would try to convince us to release you.”
“Are there any weapons in here?”
“I don’t have my pistol. I suppose Ochre must have taken it. The only one around is yours… and Destiny’s got that.”
Scarlet was eyeing the toolbox, right next to Grey. “Maybe there’s something in there which can help us,” he murmured thoughtfully.
Grey glanced in turn at the toolbox. “Don’t kid yourself, sport! Those are magnetic handcuffs Ochre put on you. You can’t pick the lock, you know that.”
“I wasn’t thinking about the cuffs, but rather of that damned metal chairleg…”
“Reinforced steel. It’s not even hollow. Believe me, if it withstood the crash, it could withstand anything. And the bolts at the base are secured. You can’t unscrew them.”
Scarlet looked at the handcuff in frustration. He slid it down to the floor where he crouched, and then stretched out, trying to reach the toolbox with his free arm. He didn’t even come near it. “Too far,” he muttered. “Grey, can you push it toward me?”
Pushing himself up on one elbow, Grey leaned toward the toolbox and grabbed one of its side handles. He pushed it hard in Scarlet’s direction, biting his lip. He was obviously in great pain from the effort, judging from his contorted face. We’ve got to get some help for him soon¸ Scarlet thought grimly, while grabbing for the other handle of the box. He pulled it to him. Grey lay back with a heavy sigh, sweat beading on his forehead.
“Are you okay, Brad?” Scarlet asked him in concern.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” responded the American in a croak.
“You’ve just exhausted yourself,” Scarlet noted. “I shouldn’t have asked you…”
“Drop it,” Grey cut in. “I’d rather die trying to do something helpful than waiting until my injuries finish me off… or Torey, as a matter of fact.” He rose slightly on his elbow and looked back at his British friend. “Now, is there anything useful in that box?”
Captain Scarlet was looking inside the toolbox; he searched it with his free hand, putting aside screwdrivers, spanners and pliers. He found a hammer which he took out of the box, looking at it thoughtfully.
Grey snorted lightly. “What can you do with that? Are you going to try destroying the mounting of that seat to get out of those cuffs?”
“Could be useful as a weapon against Torey,” Scarlet retorted, musing.
“Not much of a weapon, if you ask me…” Grey muttered. “Torey would have to get very close to you if you want to use it… Unless you’re planning to throw it at him.”
Scarlet let the hammer fall into the box. He sat on the floor, a worried expression on his features. He had to find a way to get free soon, so he could protect Destiny and Captain Grey… the girl wouldn’t be able to stand her ground against a fanatical Mysteron agent, and Grey, in the state he presently was in, would be easy prey. Captain Scarlet himself wasn’t much of a threat, right now, cuffed and unarmed as he was…
“I can’t believe we’re in such a mess,” Grey murmured. “You know, I almost wish right now that Ochre was right about you… We wouldn’t have anything to fear if it was the case, would we?”
“Sorry, Brad.” Scarlet smiled faintly at his friend’s pitiful attempt at a joke. “I wish I could reassure you, but…”
He stopped; a shiver ran down his spine and his head started throbbing; he pressed it against the arm of the seat and closed his eyes. Oh no! No, not one of those dizzy spells… And if Grey was right about them…
“Scarlet, what is it?” Grey asked, seeing his colleague’s sudden indisposition. “Ochre hit you pretty hard, maybe you’re in worse shape than you thought…”
“It’s not that,” the Brit replied. He looked toward the door. “It’s HIM.”
Grey blanched and also looked up in the direction of the door. So soon? he thought. And what about Captain Ochre?
The blanket was slowly pulled open to the side and the two Spectrum officers saw the barrel of a golden colour-coded gun. Then the face of Commander Jim Torey appeared, looking at them coldly. A smile spread across his face as he stepped inside.
“Captain Scarlet,” he said with sarcasm in his voice, “you look in rather bad shape…”
Scarlet didn’t answer and simply gazed at the Mysteron’s face with a stare that was unmistakably as unyielding as before. Torey looked down at a very pale Captain Grey. “You look almost as bad as your friend there,” he added. “What is it, your head’s hurting from where Captain Ochre slugged you?” He shook his head, musing. “You seem to have healed pretty well from it…”
“What have you done with Ochre?” Scarlet asked heavily.
“Forget him. We had just climbed a cliff and we were near the summit of that mountain when the fool fell into a crevasse, with your precious transmitter. I was about to kill him, anyway…”
“Where is Destiny?” Grey asked in turn. “You murdered her too?”
“Not yet. Her time will come. I didn’t see her outside, but she can’t be very far. If I were in your place, I would be more concerned about my own safety, though.”
“She’ll escape you,” Scarlet replied sharply. “If you didn’t see her, that may be because she has gone to check on the wreckage of the jet on the plateau. She will see for herself what kind of monster you truly are.”
“Monster, Captain?” Torey retorted. “Then I wonder what that makes you. Oh yes, I know about you… I know what a threat you could become to the Mysterons. We must not allow that to happen. I will have to kill you… the same as your… ‘friends’.” He stressed the last word, intent on reminding Scarlet that his friends had betrayed him and by doing so had put him at the mercy of his enemy. The British Spectrum officer did not lower his gaze when Torey aimed his gun straight at his head. “A bullet will stop you temporarily. I will have to think of a way to completely destroy you afterward.”
“That is all your masters can think about, isn’t it?” Scarlet replied between clenched teeth. “Killing… and destruction…”
“The Earthmen began this war!” Torey snapped angrily. “The Mysterons intend to finish it on their own terms!” He shrugged his shoulders. “They were YOUR masters too, once…”
“Yes, so I found out… to my utmost horror.”
“I am truly sorry. But the Mysterons must prevail. At least, by killing you first, I will spare you the pain of seeing your friends die in front of your eyes.”
Torey was about to fire when a red-coloured gun suddenly appeared from behind the blanket. The barrel pressed itself hard against the back of his skull, and a very distinctive, heavily accented and furious voice rang in his ear: “Drop it this instant. I won’t repeat myself.”
There was a combined sigh of relief from both Captain Grey and Captain Scarlet when Torey lowered his gun to the ground and let go of it. Grey addressed an uneasy, thankful smile to a grim looking Destiny Angel who walked into the cabin.
“You didn’t come back a moment too soon, honey,” he told her weakly.
“I was on the other side of the capsule, checking the flares, when I saw Commander Torey coming back, alone,” Destiny explained. She gazed at Scarlet, who was trying uneasily to stand up. “I owe you some apologies, Captain Scarlet. I should never have doubted you.”
“Hearing that is comforting in itself,” Scarlet smiled slightly.
“Do you really think you can win, Earthmen?” Torey said ominously. “You are still stuck here, in the cold, with almost no food and absolutely no way of calling for help. And one of your people is already dead.”
“You have killed Captain Ochre?” Destiny asked, her voice bleak.
“He said Ochre fell into a precipice,” Scarlet said quickly. “Maybe there is still a chance…”
“Don’t kid yourself, Captain Scarlet!” Torey laughed. “He’s lost, the same as you are, the three of you!”
“Oh, change the record!” Grey muttered. “This is getting monotonous.”
“Maybe there is still a chance for you too, Commander,” Scarlet noted.
“Me? You’re even more of a fool than I thought you were, Captain. What chance do you think your kind can offer me? Look at the way they treated you! They can’t even bring themselves to trust you.”
“Shut up!” Destiny ordered, pressing the barrel closer against the Mysteron’s skull. “We were short-sighted, yes, but you did your worst entertaining our doubts against him.”
“You think I have done my worst yet, Earthwoman?” Torey replied to her with a cold, threatening tone. “Then you’ve seen nothing yet!”
Acting like a man who had absolutely nothing to lose, Torey suddenly spun on his heel, fast as a snake. Destiny realised she was standing too close to him when his hand pushed the barrel of her gun away from him. The weapon discharged itself on the floor and Torey, with a roar of victory, threw himself at the young French woman.
With untold horror and disbelief, Scarlet and Grey saw Destiny and Torey stumbling against the blanket covering the opening on the side of the capsule and then falling outside, completely disappearing from their view.
“Juliette!” Scarlet yelled.
“My God, Destiny!” Grey made a move to get up, but fell on his back, crying out in pain.
Scarlet desperately threw himself in the direction of the opening. His shackled hand held him back and he dropped on his knees. Cursing the handcuffs, he instinctively grabbed the hammer from the toolbox with his free hand. He stared at it, a crazy idea forming rapidly in his mind. Not much of a weapon, Grey had said. Well, it could still be used as a tool…
Scarlet forced himself not to think about what he was going to do, and raised the hammer. At that moment, Grey turned to him, with a desperate and pain-filled look.
“Scarlet, he’s going to kill her…”
His words stuck in his throat when he realised what his colleague was about to do. His eyes widened with horror.
“Oh no! Paul, don’t…”
He could only watch helplessly as the hammer brutally came down on its target.
* * *
Destiny was desperately struggling to free herself from the hands of Commander Torey. In doing so, she had lost hold of her gun. Fortunately, it fell out of reach of her opponent. She gathered all of her strength, and pushed him off-balance. He fell back and she did too, away from him. She quickly got to her feet and looked around for the weapon; she could not see it, and thought the thick snow had probably swallowed it.
Seeing Torey regaining his footing too, fear filled her and she tried to put some distance between them, running away from the capsule. He pursued her. They both were staggering in the snow, battling against the strong wind. Have to find a way to stop him, Destiny thought, her heart pounding wildly inside her chest. The others are defenceless… He’ll kill me, and then kill them.
She had made a few meters and could hear Torey’s heavy breathing close behind; he was gaining on her, she realised.
Then suddenly, he jumped her. She fell again in the snow under her much stronger and heavier opponent. She tried to get free again, but this time with no success. All she managed to do was to turn on her back to face the Mysteron agent, who put his large hands around her throat, smothering the scream that was building in it. Only a faint moan came out of the Angel pilot who stared with bewildered horror into the icy eyes of her killer. A cold smile spread across Torey’s features.
“Prepare to die, Destiny Angel.”
He was slowly choking her, tightening his hands around her neck. She could not breathe any more and a mist was slowly descending between her and the face of her murderer.
Suddenly, she saw a yellow streak coming out of nowhere and jumping right onto Torey. He let go of his hold on her and she could breathe again. Dazed, she coughed a couple of times, and looked around, trying to figure out what had just happened.
She saw Captain Scarlet, armed with an hammer, standing over her, facing Commander Torey, a few feet away from them, getting ready to attack again.
“Let’s see what you can do against somebody your own weight, mate!” Scarlet shouted angrily at the Mysteron agent.
“Do you really think you can stop me with that hammer, Earthman?” Torey scoffed.
How on Earth did Scarlet manage to free himself from those handcuffs? Destiny asked herself. She tried to regain her balance on her still unsteady feet. The British captain was carefully keeping himself between her and Torey. She noticed the odd way he was standing, facing the Mysteron agent with the hammer in his left hand, ready to strike, while trying to keep his right hand out of view of his opponent.
She then saw the sorry state of that hand, and the blood dripping from it, and her heart skipped a beat. But carefully, she said nothing and stepped back a few feet, discreetly looking around for the weapon she had previously lost.
Torey was approaching cautiously, apparently confident he would be victorious over Scarlet, who, still on his guard, took a few steps back. The Mysteron stopped just out of range of the hammer and tilted his head to one side, gauging his opponent. An evil smile crossed his face.
“Why don’t you attack, Captain?” he taunted the Spectrum officer.
Almost instantly, Scarlet flung himself forward, trying to strike him with the hammer; Torey easily evaded the blow, caught the swinging arm in midcourse, and struck it. The hammer flew from Scarlet’s hand and landed into the snow.
Seeing his weapon gone, Scarlet rammed into Torey’s chest and knocked him down. The Mysteron agent hung on to him and brought him down as well. Now the two men were fighting in the thick snow, Scarlet desperately trying to keep on top of Torey. But as he was using only one arm, he was at a distinct disadvantage; the Mysteron agent made use of it and succeeded in pushing Scarlet under him.
Torey got up and repeatedly kicked Scarlet in the side; the Spectrum agent tried to protect himself, but he was far too vulnerable to his opponent’s attack. The latter viciously trod on his right hand, already wounded and covered with blood. The Spectrum officer cried out as unbearable pain seared through the nerves of his hand.
“I noticed how you kept trying to protect that hand,” Torey said matter-of-factly, standing over Scarlet, his foot still pressing down on the wounded hand. “You must have broken all the bones in it with that hammer, to get out of those cuffs. Impressive.”
He stepped harder on the crushed, bloody hand. Scarlet let out a muffled cry. “And it must be very painful too, I’ll bet,” Torey continued evilly. “You must have been really desperate to do a thing like that, even knowing it would eventually heal.” He shook his head, looking down at the injured Spectrum agent. “What a waste! What a perfect agent you would have been for the Mysterons… Perhaps there is a way to retake you…”
Scarlet blinked, hearing those ominous words. “Go to Hell!” he lashed out between clenched teeth. He tried to get free, but the Mysteron agent simply had to push down on his hand a little more to keep him down. The awful pain was threatening to overcome the British agent. Don’t pass out, he told himself. If you do, nothing will stand in his way. He’ll kill you and the others… But it was so hard to think…
A thunderous sound pounded in Scarlet’s ears and he saw Torey shaking. The foot pressing down on his hand released him and the Mysteron agent stepped back. A dark stain of red had appeared right in the middle of his chest.
Another detonation resonated and Torey stepped back again. Scarlet rose up on one elbow and looked over his shoulder; Destiny was a few feet behind him, a gun aimed at the Mysteron agent. Not finding Scarlet’s pistol Torey had made her lose in the snow, she had taken advantage of the fight to run into the capsule to fetch the one he had wanted to use on all of them. Upon coming back with it, she had seen Scarlet literally tortured by Torey and had not hesitated one instant to shoot.
She fired a third time when she saw the Mysteron agent taking a tentative step in her direction. Shot through the head, the man who had been Commander Jim Torey fell back into the snow and stayed there, motionless.
Scarlet slowly got to his knees, gritting his teeth against the throbbing pain coming from his broken hand. Destiny came over him and knelt by his side. He raised his head to look into her confused, worried eyes. “Are you all right?” he asked her.
She nodded; she could see the pain in his handsome, unnaturally pale face, and it hurt her. He’s the one who’s injured, and yet, he’s concerned about me! she realised with amazement. She gently took his bloody hand to look at it, with a mix of guilt, horror, and perplexity. It had been smashed almost beyond recognition, the fingers deformed and crushed. Thinking of what he had to do to get out of those shackles and come to her rescue sent shivers down Destiny’s spine.
“Your poor hand,” she muttered, her words catching in her throat.
“It will heal, Destiny,” he sighed tiredly.
“Mon Dieu, I can’t believe…”
“Juliette.” Scarlet touched her face with his good hand and drew her attention away from the wounded one. She looked deep into his warm, blue eyes. “It will heal,” he repeated with insistence.
“How can you be so sure about that?” she asked.
“I know,” he said simply, shaking his head.
She was still sceptical, but managed to accept his answer. She nodded thoughtfully. “Thank you…” she whispered, in an unsure, weak voice.
Scarlet drew her close to him in a reassuring gesture, resting her head on his shoulder. She was shivering; she closed her eyes and clung to him. Scarlet breathed a sigh of relief as he pressed her against his heart. “Quand tu voudras, chérie,” he murmured in her ear. “Anytime you want.”