As promised, here comes another story. The ones of you who have already read "Show Me Heaven"*, know what kind of stories I write. This one is gonna be no different - on the contrary. It's probably getting even more kitschy.
But this time I tried to make Irina more the character she is in Alias (so, not a weak woman, but a strong and courageous revolutionist who is absolutely equal to Jack). That combined with the setting in old England - the times of lords and ladies - should form a passionate love story full of hate, rage and of course passion and love.
Also another difference. When I published the first chapter of 'Show Me Heaven'* I had already finished that story. This time I have only written seven parts by now, wach one pretty short, and due to my limited time I plan to publish one chapter every week, so I'll have enough time to write on. Now, I don't count the prologue as one part since it's only an introduction. so for now a longer part. I hope you enjoy this story as much as you enjoyed 'Show Me Heaven'. To me this is even more exciting now since I don't know yet, where we're going with this story.
Oh, and we don't only have Irina and Jack in this story, but the whole bunch of Derevko sisters... I just came up with my own little Elena and I hope you liek her.
I'm looking forward to a wonderful time with the characters, the plot and of course all of you... ^_^ ^_^
*Show Me Heaven => This story can be found in the OOa section of the Serenades archive.
Author: Kimberley Jackson
Title: Enemies – A Love Story
Category: AU/OOA (Out Of Alias)
Summary: England, 1570 - Irina Derevko is a terrorist and a spy who aims at killing England’s queen. She’s a courageous woman, hiding her dangerous life behind her noble name. Nobody at court would have gotten the idea that Lady Irina Derevko and her sisters are playing leading roles in the terrorist ring. Her cover seems perfect until one evening she’s fascinated by one of the contacts she was to meet. Not knowing that he is the queen’s chief of security, she flirts with him, even tells him her forename. The queen’s personal counselor in security, Jack Bristow, is also fascinated by the courageous and beautiful woman. It’s the start of an adventure in which two enemies have to learn to trust each other and look behind the lies they have learned to believe their whole life...
Betareader: Cmste (Thank you so much! :flower: )
A/N: This story was actually started before Show Me Heaven*, but then discarded as 'BAD'. When I pulled it out again about three months later, I found that it was quite readable and with some changes could actually be a good story. So this is why you will find Maggie in here, a character which was later also written into 'Show Me Heaven'. I thought, this might be nice since you liked Maggie a lot and I also got very fond of her. So here she is again... Old Maggie.
And another note: Unfortunately I don't know much about English history. I tried to be correct about the names and dates (thanks to my beta cmste at this part! :hug: ), but the other facts certainly did not happen as I described them. Just wanted to say that... although it shoul be kind of clear since this is not a history book and clearl marked as AU.
Dedication: This one is dedicated to all the muses that inspire me every day and sometimes make me see a whole story in just a scenery in usual life. Although soem people don't believe in them, I do... so they deserve to be honored.
England - 1545
She was alone in the forest... all alone and she was afraid. The large trees around her seemed to threaten her. They seemed to get closer and closer together to imprison her in their midst.
Little Irina started to run.
“Mom... Mommy! Daddy!” Tears filled her eyes, and when she looked down she found herself standing in her nightclothes in the forest. The voices behind her got closer. The trees were against her, darkness was against her... they would betray her and tell the soldiers where to find her. She pressed her teddy close to her chest - the only thing she had been able to save from their house.
Over and over again she tried to run, but her legs wouldn’t move – her mind paralyzed by the pictures she had witnessed, frozen by the fear she felt inside. Suddenly, somebody pulled her into the bushes.
“Shhht... don’t cry... don’t move. It’s me...” Katya was there, her older sister by four years, covering her mouth softly with her hand and pulling her shaking little body against her own. Irina found Elena lying in her arms, sleeping. They heard the soldiers passing by and pressed closer into the depths of the bushes.
The men yelled orders to each other and slowly their voices went away. Only when they were merely whispers in the distance, the sisters dared to move.
“Where are mommy and daddy?” Irina asked under tears, her voice a hushed whisper.
Katya looked away, evading her eyes, and was about to get up. “We can’t stay here. We have to leave... remember that house dad told us about? We have to...”
“Kat... where is daddy... and mommy?” Irina’s voice was louder now, filled with panic and she grabbed her sister’s arm, unwilling to let her go. “We have to go back! We have to help them! Those men want to hurt them!”
The nine-year-old Katya looked at her younger sister and touched her cheek. Then, without the slightest hint of emotion the words left her lips – words that formed the unbearable truth.
“We can’t help anymore. Mom is dead... and they took dad with them. Come on now!”
Irina just stared into her cold face, then she slapped her sister hard while tears streamed down her cheeks.
“You’re lying! You mean little b*tch are lying! Mom forbid you to do that just to tease me! I HATE YOU!” She screamed, not caring for the soldiers who might still hear them, even if they were already far away. Before Katya could grab her sister, Irina jumped up and just fled into the darkness, not caring where she ran to. Her perfect little world seemed shattered, all her dreams of a bright future broken, since she knew deep within that Katya’s words had not been a lie.
She kept running, although her lungs seemed about to burst, until she could make out the shape of their large house in the distance. Reaching it, she stormed through the old metal gate and through the open front door into the house. Everything was destroyed, the most valuable things stolen.
Irina ran up the stairs. “Mommy! Mommy! I’m gonna help you! Where are you? I’m not gonna let them hurt you...” She searched every room, while the tears streamed silently down her cheeks, until she found the woman in the kitchen. She was lying on the table, her eyes closed, her dress soaked with blood and her skin bruised. The little girl started to cry, deafening, pulling at her mother’s hand. She climbed onto a chair, then onto the table and shook her mother’s shoulders slightly. When the woman didn’t move, she finally broke down in tears and pressed her little cheek to her mother’s chest, just as they had so often done when they were lying on the armchair where her mother had been reading to her.
She had enjoyed listening to her mother’s voice, feeling safe in her warm arms, and finally falling asleep with the rhythmic sound of her mother’s heart at her ear. Now all this was gone. The so familiar sound of her heartbeat was gone and suddenly Irina knew for sure that her mother would never read to her again. She wrapped her little arms around the dead body, unwilling to let go.
“Mom... don’t leave me... Please come back... Mommy! MOMMY...”
Her nightmare had begun with the awful sound of splitting glass and angry yells earlier that night. Shortly after that her mother had stormed into her room, pushing her outside into the dark floor, urging her to move faster.
“Run...” she had whispered. “Hide in the woods, sweetheart... you gotta go...”
“Mommy... what about you?”
“I’m gonna be okay sweetheart. Run...” She had pulled her daughter to her chest, then removed the little medallion from her neck and put it around her daughter’s little neck. “See, I will lend you this and you will give it back to me when we see one another again later. Alright? I promise, I’ll be fine! I love you, honey... now go...”
That had been the last time she had seen her mother alive. And now she was lying here, dead, her body slowly getting colder.
“Mommy... you’ve promised...” the girl sobbed then her voice broke.
It was about two days later when the woman found the little girl hugging the dead body of her mother. She was the daughter of one of the peasants in the nearby village and had barely enough to eat. So she was always looking around for work or something to steal. The broken windows and the open front door of the house had caught her attention and so she had entered the house, hoping to find anything valuable. But what she saw when she entered the little kitchen almost broke her heart. Her mind worked unbelievably rationally when she understood that the child was not dead, as she had assumed at first. She tried to pull the girl away from her dead mother, and when she refused, she softly loosened the little fingers from the clothing and took her into her arms.
“Shhh.... it’s okay, little one.”
At first Irina was unable to move, she just sobbed, her whole mind caught in a state of shock, her body weak from hunger and coldness, but when the woman went to leave the room, she started to struggle and beat the woman.
“No! NO... Mommy... Don’t take me away from my mom...”
It took the woman quite some time to calm the girl down. “Your mother is dead, darling...” she explained softly and finally Irina broke down on the ground. The woman went to her knees next to her, unable to soothe the pain of the girl. When her tears had subsided, Irina just stared paralyzed at her little teddy which was red from blood.
The strange woman started to clean her face from blood and tears and finally smiled.
“I am Maggie... what is your name?”
Irina just looked at her, refusing to let her take the teddy to wash it, instead she pressed it to her heart as if her life depended on it. Maggie’s face got serious again and she touched the girl’s cheek.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me... Are you hungry?”
When Irina nodded slowly, Maggie smiled and lifted her up into her arms. “Fine... then I will take you to my house and arrange for a meal for you... okay?”
Irina just looked at her and Maggie carried her out of the house. She left the property through the gate and went onto the small stony way into the direction of the village.
“Irina...” A tiny voice finally whispered. “My name is Irina Derevko.”
“Nice to meet you, Irina Derevko.” Maggie replied, smiling.
She took the girl into her house and started to research about what had happened. She learned that the dead woman was Lady Tatyana Derevko.
English soldiers had raided the Derevko’s property that night, had raped and killed Irina’s mother, then kidnapped her father. She also learned that Irina had two sisters, one elder than her and the other one still a baby, and did everything to find them. The people in the village helped her and searched the whole region until they finally found them hidden in a house deep in the forest.
Two weeks after that, Irina’s father reappeared. He had been able to escape the soldiers before they reached the tower prison. Not able to express how glad he was that Maggie had taken care of his children despite the fact that she was so poor that she was barely able to buy enough food for herself, he took the woman with him to take care of the girls. After burying his dead wife, he left the region and settled far away in a new home.
Lord Sergeji Derevko hoped that the new place and the obviously warm-hearted, friendly woman would make his daughters forget someday about what they had been forced to experience that night.
He didn’t even guess how much the happenings had changed his two eldest daughters. Katerina and Irina had given each other the promise that they would live their lives taking revenge for the crime that had been done to their family. They were determined to kill the person who had ordered the soldiers to raid their house that night – Elizabeth, queen of England.
Part 1 – Two hearts
The nights were dark and humid, not much of a difference to the temperature of the day. The sky was black, only the moon spending some light and millions of stars shimmering like diamonds.
There was no chance the dark figure that ran through the forest could be seen by anyone. The person seemed to know exactly where to go. The dark cape prevented her from being recognized.
Only when she could make out a small fire somewhere between the trees she stopped running. Carefully she approached the small clearing, finding a man sitting at the fire – her contact? Probably, but it could as well be a trap and she wasn’t very fond of the thought of spending the rest of her life in the Tower Prison.
She took a deep breath and decided that it was best to check the situation. She stepped out of the woods, approaching the fire slowly.
When the man suddenly got aware of not being alone anymore he jumped up and pointed his weapon on the dark figure.
“Who are you?” His voice was leveled and totally under control. He was obviously not afraid at all.
“I’m sorry, Sir, I got lost in these woods...” she said in the most miserable tone she was capable of.
“A woman?” He dropped his gun. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Where is your maid... or your servants?”
“I went here alone...”
“Why would you do something stupid like that?” he asked with a certain amount of amusement in his voice. She decided that they had made enough smalltalk.
“I had my reasons... what are you doing here?”
“Spending the night...” he answered unwillingly.
“Alone?” That question of hers had been wrong. His mistrust immediately returned and he looked around.
“Why – is a group of outlaws waiting in the dark to rob me?” he asked and looked at her. “Show me your face.”
“The night is too dark for the elves to light it!” she murmured the keywords and saw him stiffen.
“The day is too light for the devil to darken it.” He replied his part of the keywords. “You are my contact? A woman?”
“If you have a problem, I will go away and tell our leader that you aren’t willing to talk to a woman. We’ll see whether he will still be interested in helping you then!”
“I just didn’t expect a woman to be sent on this dangerous meeting. Where I come from a woman would be scared of going alone into the forest at day – not even to mention at night.” He replied amused and sat down.
“I am not like the other women!” she replied coldly. “Can we talk business now?”
“You’re pretty straight-forward, Miss...”
“There is no need for you to know my name.” She replied and sat down opposite to him, careful to keep her face in the shadow of her cape.
“But I’m sure they’ve told you my name. That’s an advantage for you. Another advantage would be, that you can see my face, I can’t see yours!”
“I’m just here to discuss the plan, which I will deliver to the leader then. There is no need to know more of me than that.”
“Fine, but I don’t feel comfortable talking to a person I can’t see the face of. Or, Milady, are you afraid of being too ugly to take that cape off? Well, that wouldn’t amaze me - a woman who runs through a forest at night can certainly not have the class of a true...” He interrupted himself and caught his breath when she finally revealed her face to him. Her eyes were sparkling with fury - so far she had reacted as he had wanted her to, but that was the only thing he had been prepared for. Full brown hair framed a face as beautiful as he had never seen before. She must be of his age, maybe a little younger and yet she looked breathtakingly beautiful. Her eyes, which were gleaming dark in the dim light of the fire, together with her appearance gave her the most delightful exotic look he had ever seen.
“You decide.” She hissed at his provocations and her eyes never left his.
Mental note, he thought, she must be a woman of a higher rank. No other woman he had met by now had been able to look that intensely into the eyes of a man – except for the queen herself. He almost felt sorry for her when he thought about the fate she would have. As soon as she left the clearing she would be caught by his soldiers waiting in the shadows of the trees.
“So, what is your message? When is the queen to be assassinated?”
“Who is your assassin?”
“That’s none of your business!”
“I need to know!”
“No, Mr. March, you want to know. There’s a difference!” she replied dryly and he wondered whether she was married. What was her status? It didn’t take him much time to make his decision. He got up and went around the fire to sit down next to her. She looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“I have to warn you. I may seem like a weak woman, but the moment you make any inappropriate move, you will never see dawn again.” Her voice was neutral and she didn’t seem to be afraid at all – amazing, he thought to himself. Just as she had said, she was definitely not like any woman he had met before now.
He lowered his face to hers, until they were only inches apart. He felt her reaching for something and caught her wrist in his.
“Listen to me!” he demanded before she could stab him – or whatever had been in her mind. “I am not Mr. March.”
She looked into his eyes, obviously knowing what his revelation meant. “So then I take it that March is dead, you tortured him for the information where to meet me and now you’re here to arrest me. Nice... what’s your name?”
Her ability to put the pieces together was unsurpassed, he had to admit that silently.
“Bristow. My team of fifty soldiers is waiting in the forest to arrest you as soon as you leave this clearing.”
She looked at him, her expression not changing. “So then I’m going to die...”
“You’re a woman, Miss...?” He looked at her, the question standing in his face. When she didn’t react he couldn’t help but grin amused. “Don’t you think this would be a good time to tell me your name?”
“There’s never a good time for that when talking to one of the bastards who serve the queen. So, what do you expect from me? You are certainly not telling me all of this for no reason.” His eyes – good god - she had never seen beautiful eyes like his. It felt like she was drowning in them like quicksand – the more she struggled against it, the faster she sank.
“No, you’re right. I’m telling you because I offer you to work for us as a mole. You’re a woman and I would hate to see you tortured.”
“You’re helping me... interesting. What do you expect me to do? Share your bed?” she challenged with a hint of disgust in her voice and looked away into the darkness of the trees. It shocked her how much she liked just thinking about the possibility to go to bed with this man – a man she didn’t even know!
“Your opinion of me is not the best, is it?” he asked. “I want to help you and spare you the torture and prison, in return I want you to help me in securing the queen. Help me bring the rebels down, as my contact.”
“You’re asking me to save my own life by betraying my people and ideals! No man with the slightest hint of honor in his blood would agree to an offer like that!” she hissed into his face and he smiled.
“I appreciate your honesty – not to mention your loyalty towards yourself. You’re an amazing woman, ...” Again the hidden question for her name. She sighed.
“Irina...” she murmured. “That’s the only name you get from me.”
“Irina...” he repeated and before she knew what was happening, his lips touched hers in the lightest kiss. “I promise, all you have to do is inform me about the plans of the rebels. That’s all I expect...” The next kiss was deeper, more playful and set their blood to fire. When they broke apart, he let go of her wrist.
“What’s your answer?” he asked and she smiled.
“My answer is...” She looked into his eyes for a moment. “...that I can’t be bought, Mr. Bristow. It’s a gracious offer, but no thank you!” Her thumb stroked over his lip in a soft gesture, then suddenly she pushed him away hard, jumped up and fled into the darkness of the forest.
He moaned in a mixture of pain and surprise and got up to go after her, when he heard the forest coming to life. Obviously his soldiers were already taking care of her. He sighed. Never ever had there been somebody contradicting him. At court the men never did question his orders or offers and the women usually wanted to draw his attention. But she was different – she was honest. The first woman who had pushed him away – not only literally, but also practically. By doing so she had caught his interest.
About half an hour later the captain of his soldiers entered the clearing.
“Sir, she’s gone!”
“What do you mean by gone?”
“Well... she sort of disappeared!”
“Was there an army of rebels defending her?” Being asked that sarcastic question, the captain shook his head. Jack Bristow was calm, his expression neutral – which was very dangerous. “Then how can she just disappear? You were fifty soldiers against one single woman!”
“I don’t know! We’ve searched everywhere!”
“Well then search again! I want you to find her and take her to pris... no, take her to me! I want to talk to her!”
The man hurried away and Jack sighed. After all, it was his fault. What had been the matter with him telling her that this was a trap? He couldn’t blame his men. If he hadn’t told her, but arrested her first, then offered her to work with him, she wouldn’t have been able to flee. But somehow her charm had enchanted his reason – which was the most amazing thing since she hadn’t even tried to be nice.
Irina, he thought. Well, she should be easy to find. Irina wasn’t a usual name and since she had been here without a horse or any other kind of transportation, she most likely lived somewhere near this forest. Next time he would be prepared for her tricks.
To be continued...