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In Love With The Proper Stranger - Chapter 13
| Title: In Love With The Proper Stranger|
Chapter: Thirteen of Twenty-three
Summary: AU - Their's is a love story which happens quite by accident, in the midst of a dangerous whirlwind of mystery and deceit sparked by the death of Luke's mother-in-law
Characters: Luke, Noah, Reid
Genre: AU, Action, Adventure, Romance, Angst
Disclaimer: This site is no way associated with "As the World Turns", CBS, P&G, or Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann. This is not for profit. No copyright infringement is intended. Authors submit and write their own work.
He'd lost him. This was the end; the finality Luke had been dreading all along. Noah would never trust him again!
He pressed both hands and his forehead into the door through which the most remarkable young person he'd ever met had just disappeared, perhaps forever.
There was no use going after him. What could he say? How could he possibly fix it?
If it wasn't for the door's support, he'd have buckled by now. Luke could no longer feel his legs or any other part of his body for that matter. The only thing he could feel was an excruciating ache in his very core.
And clouding Luke's vision was the image of Noah, the fear in those incredible blue eyes now focused not on Greg but on him.
That fragile trust Luke had spent weeks building was shattered.
"What have I done?" Luke whispered through his teeth.
He took a deep breath that burned its way through him and turned from the door to face his estranged husband.
"Why?" a now trembling Luke asked. "You haven't hurt me enough? You didn't already humiliate me enough?'' A sob erupted and he gripped his belly at the pain of it. "You had to take this from me, too?"
Reid's brow crinkled in consideration, wholly astounded by the sight of his spouse, standing totally and utterly destroyed before him.
"God!" Reid exclaimed, the truth dawning on him. "This isn't about me, is it?"
Luke glared up at him in disbelief at his vanity.
"You're not with him to get back at me, are you?"
Luke shook his head as his expelled breath shuddered unbearably.
"You're… in love with him, aren't you?" Reid's forefinger scratched slightly at his top lip as he processed this.
Luke managed a faint nod this time and caught a strange look from his ex. Reid almost appeared to be hurt by this.
"How?" Reid asked. "When?"
"I don't know!" Luke cried. "It just happened! I love him so much and now he's gone!" Then almost to himself, "Oh God, he's really gone." He cupped his mouth in one hand.
Luke was surprised when Reid's expression actually showed a hint of repentance. He seemed almost sympathetic.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" asked Luke. Reid's manner was making him angrier by the second. "Don't try to pretend that you actually give a damn about me!"
"Of course I do, ya duffus! I wouldn't have married you if I didn't have feelings for you. I wouldn't marry somebody I couldn't stand after a week. I'm the smart one, remember?"
"Then why…" Luke asked mystified, "…if you cared so f*cking much? Why all those men? Why did you destroy everything?"
"Sh*t Luke! I said I had feelings for you. I never said I was a saint. Hell… a guy would have to be a saint to meet your expectations of a relationship?"
"My expectations?" Luke asked amazed, "…for wanting my husband to remain faithful? That's too high an expectation?"
"I'm not like you Luke. I never was."
"That's for damn sure!"
Luke jumped as his cell rang and he rushed to pull it from his pocket, betting on a long shot that it was Noah. The phone's Caller ID feature indicated 'Number Withheld'; and Luke almost hit ignore; not feeling up to conversing with anyone but Noah at that moment.
But impulse won over.
"Snyder? It's Jamison."
"Jamison? I thought you were off the case? Didn't you get my instructions along with the final payment?"
"Yes, I did." said the impatient private investigator, Jamison, who Luke had hired to investigate Reid and his family. "Consider this a courtesy call."
"Look I really don't-"
"Oliver's nephew… He's in danger."
"What?" A started Luke pressed the phone against his ear.
"I got a tip from one of my sources. There's a 10,000 grand contract out on Noah Mayer. Double checked it myself. Somebody's being paid to off that kid."
Luke's hand came up to his throat as his mouth ran dry.
"Thought I'd let you know in case you wanted to do something about it," the PI added. "Whatever you do… I can't be involved."
"Who?" Luke managed to blurt out when a rare gulp of air met his lungs.
The line went dead.
"Luke?" asked Reid frowning.
Luke ignored him and instead pressed speed dial on his phone.
"Pick up… please… I know you hate me right now but please pick up!"
It went to voicemail.
"Noah! Noah… when you get this, please call me… or go to a police station and wait there… Oh God! Sh*t! You won't listen to this message, will you?"
Luke lowered and stared in terror at his phone.
Luke locked eyes with Reid. "Was it you… for the money?"
"What are you on about now?"
"You ordered a hit on Noah!'' Luke accused him. ''Call it off right now Reid or I swear to God…!"
"Luke, I don't have a clue what you're talking about! What's all this nonsense about a hit?"
"I heard you, you know? That day in the house… you… you told Greg to stop the pills. You wanted her dead Reid!"
"What?" an indignant Reid huffed.
"Don't try to deny it. I've got the evidence. When I helped Noah retrieve the will from Juliet's hiding place, I took the pill bottle from her dresser. I had the contents analyzed, Reid! You know what the tests revealed? Sugar! You swapped your mother's heart pills for sugar!"
"Hey now wait just a minute! What you are implying is ridiculous! I may be a bastard. But I'm no killer!" he pleaded. "I might have told Greg to hold back on the pills but not to stop them all together. I'd never do something like that. Come on Luke, you know me!"
"I don't know you Reid. I don't think I ever did."
Then something Reid said hit him.
"Greg? Greg wanted to get rid of her?"
"Yes! The idiot thinks we're involved in some eternal love affair. Like I'm really going to bother with that piece of sh*t for the rest of my life? I mean who the hell purposely messes with an old lady's pain meds?"
Luke then saw in Reid's face the same realization about Greg.
"Sh*t!" Reid moaned. "Greg put a hit out on Noah out of sick love for me! Oh f*ck!"
They drove along in Luke's car, following the route Noah would have to travel to get from the subway station to his grandmother's home and theatre in Brooklyn.
"Greg!" Reid spoke into his phone from the passenger seat. "What the f*ck have you done? Call me back the moment you get this or there will be hell to pay. You hear me?"
Beside himself with worry, Luke wasn't paying attention to traffic. More than once, he had to slam on the breaks to avoid smashing into the car in front of them.
"Watch out Luke!" Reid yelled. "You're going to get us both killed! Let me drive."
Luke didn't argue and the two quickly changed places.
"Where would he go first?" Reid asked, shifting into gear and flattening his foot on the accelerator. "The house or the theatre?"
Luke shook his head. "We're closer to the house so let's drive by there, just in case. But my instinct says he'll head for work. He feels safe there."
They drove in silence for a while, Luke biting his thumb nail down to the quick, replaying his short time with Noah over and over in his mind.
"Did you know about Greg?"
"Did I know what?"
"That he was abusing Noah?"
Reid turned to look at Luke questioningly but then blanched as he came to understand.
"No." he said quietly. Reid looked sick as his eyes returned to the road ahead. "No I didn't."
Luke nodded, fighting another onslaught of raw tears.
"How could you allow somebody like that into their lives? They're your family Reid! Your blood!"
"I didn't know, okay Luke? I swear. I would have done something about it if I had. I barely ever saw the kid! Besides…Noah never told me anything."
"Yeah… well, it's not like you're the most approachable person in the world. He was just a kid, Reid!"
When they drove up to the house, there was no sign of life. Luke ran up and pounded loudly on the door.
"Noah! Noah if you're in there… please open the door! Noah?"
"Maybe we beat him here," Luke suggested as he stepped back into the BMW.
"Could be, depending on how fast he caught the train." Reid agreed; grabbing the steering wheel ready to drive off again. "Let's try the theatre."
A few minutes later, Luke was bursting through the large theatre doors, eyes darting over every corner of the room.
"Can I help you?" asked one of two young boys working behind the concession stand.
"Noah? Is he here?" Luke asked frantically, approaching them quickly.
"He's not here yet. You're a little early."
There was something strange about the way the two guys kept looking at each other. Luke wondered if they knew more than they were letting on.
"And Greg… where's Greg?" he asked.
The teens looked at each other again before one finally spoke up. "He left already. Maddie took over his shift."
"Okay, well, if you see Noah tonight, can you tell him Luke was here and ask him to call me? It's urgent that he call me, okay? It's life or death urgent!"
"Make sure he knows, right?" Luke stressed. "Life or death!"
They both frowned at him.
"Okay man," one said. "We heard the first time… life or death… got it!"
Luke turned to leave when he spotted Maddie glaring daggers at him from behind the glass at the ticket window.
He headed toward her. "Maddie right?"
"He's not here," She coolly stated, seething with anger, her body language betraying her.
Luke had the distinct impression that not only was Noah nearby but he had probably told Maddie what happened back at the apartment.
"Look," he tried. "From what he's told me, you're his best friend and you love him, right?"
She frowned at him but nodded all the same.
"Well, I love him too."
"Yeah, sure," she huffed.
"Maddie, I'm really, really scared for him right now, okay?"
"Sh*tless! Please Maddie, I'm begging you. If you know where he is, tell me! He's in terrible danger and he doesn't know it!"
She stared critically at him and Luke saw a glint of trust filter through her big brown eyes.
Maddie started to nod her head, when Luke caught a glimpse of Noah sneaking out of the projection room door.
But Noah quickly disappeared down a side corridor leading to the back fire exit.
Wait!" Luke yelled tearing after him.
Luke made it just in time to see the fire door slam shut. It took all of his strength to force the bar to release and open the lock.
He burst through the door; and saw a panting Noah nearing the end of the long alleyway. Noah stopped, turned and looked fretfully back at Luke.
As always, their gazes took only seconds to seal.
"Please?" Luke mouthed at him, knowing Noah was too far away to hear him.
Noah simply shook his head. Even in the waning sunlight, hurt and doubt were clear on his beautiful face; a look powerful enough to stab at Luke's heart.
Noah wavered for just a moment before taking off around the corner and out of sight.
"F*ck!" Luke screamed.
He rushed back into the theatre to corner the two concession workers.
"Where did he go?" Luke demanded.
They both shrugged.
"I KNOW you know where he went! You need to tell me RIGHT now!"
"Sorry man!" one of them insisted. "He never said, okay?"
A worried Maddie stepped out of the ticket office and walked over to where Luke was questioning her co-workers.
"Maddie, please tell me you know where he went?" Luke begged.
"I don't know, I-"
Thanks so much for reading!
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, Sep 16 2011, 6:02 AM EDT
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