Patrick's Rose is the continuing story of Anna and Patrick.
'In his gentle grasp was a single red rose, the dew still fresh upon it. Its velvet red color brought a smile to her lips as she thought of the rose bushes her grandma had tended with such care. While she admired the crimson blossom, a solitary thorn snagged her finger, drawing a drop of blood. Patrick rushed closer upon seeing the erubescent bead, carefully caressing her arm. The globule trickled down and off her finger, falling upon his silk cuff. “Patrick, your shirt...!” A crestfallen sigh escaped her lips. Gently, he took the rose from her, paced into the kitchen, and reached toward the first aid kit. A moment later, he had bandaged her unfortunate digit. Her gaze fell to her aching thumb as Patrick picked up the rose and placed it in a delicate crystal vase. The thought crossed her mind; her life was not so different than the thorn on that rose. A dark cloud hovered over her for the moment. Everything seemed so perfect, yet she knew... hidden thorns could lurk anywhere.'
---From Patrick's Rose
Anna is expecting. Even though things are not always perfect she and Patrick have each other and hope for a much better tomorrow.
After beginning a new life in Santa Barbara, Anna finds a ministry that pricks her heart and causes her to pour out love for a group of women on a road not so different than her own. She realizes she can help them more than anyone would ask or expect... That help comes at a price.
As the impossible truly becomes possible, and both Anna and Patrick look to a brighter future there is darkness lurking; watching for a time to pounce. All is not as beautiful as it would seem...
Only Sherry Hansen realizes how much danger Anna still is in. Her premonitions and visions shake her soul as her worries cause her to kneel in prayer, hoping the darkening horizon she sees can be overcome. But as the future becomes reality is there anything she can do to help her pseudo daughter?
Matthew Wolffe is still waiting in the shadows for the perfect time to capture his prey. After all he cannot let a mere woman steal his power and control...
Five different photographers captured second long scenes of women sporting the summer clothing line on a Caribbean looking destination. Azure skies framed the day as balmy breezes tantalized the island palms. The sun overhead would have anyone believing it was a late, May, day in the Tropics. Oh, but it was a beautiful December afternoon on a small island off the Southern California coast. The little shops were open as shopkeepers enjoyed the crowd the models and crew from World Stage had become.
Anna clapped her hands together seeing her vision coming together in front of her. The day was vibrant. She strolled through the streets toward the dock. Excitement filled her. Stylish models, cameras snapping, smiling faces; it was exactly what she had been going for when she talked Wendy into this photo shoot. This would be their best season yet! Wow! Just wait until Cheryl saw the proofs! Today she was able to release the fear and worry that had been plaguing her and just enjoy this moment when all she had in her heart for the summer line came to reality. A chuckle bubbled from her lips as her soul leaped.
The boat she had chartered to take her back to the mainland pulled up as she arrived at the water's edge. Claudia stepped onto the dock from the boat, waiting for her. She and Wendy would finish up and fly back with the rest of the crew, but Anna wanted to enjoy the ocean air. “Has it gone well?” “Yup!” She answered with an optimistic indignance. “Laura Aragon is on the boat.” Claudia warned. “She is asking a lot of questions.” “Even Laura can't ruin this day.” The words joyfully bubbled out of her. “Everything has gone as close to perfect as it gets!” One of the photographers slipped in an eight track into the portable player. The tropical rhythm, gentle, fragrant breezes, and gaiety of their group mixed together in a moment that Anna knew would forever live on as her definition of what life should be like. She grabbed Claudia's hand and twirled both of them around as she gasped in laughter. Cameras snapped and Anna stepped onto her ride back to the mainland.
As the boat pulled out of the harbor, Anna slipped on her sweater. The ocean breeze rippled through her wavy cinnamon tresses. Breathing deeply, she closed her eyes, soaking in the peace she had been blessed with. “A good day I take it?” Detective Aragon perched next to her. Anna nodded. “And you're not spoiling it for me either.” A smile curled her lips as she sighed slightly. Now she was on her way home. She had no more commitments. The next five days belonged to her church and her husband. She crinkled up her nose with the thought. Even the detective could not make this day sour. “It's been an exceptional day.” Anna wistfully answered still leaning against the rail basking in the peace. “You know this is a dangerous game you are playing.”
Anna gave a brief glance to the frowning woman. “I wasn't aware I was playing any game.”
“You damn well know you are and gambling at that!” Surveying her, Anna would have laughed, but with the detective's mood, it probably wouldn't have gone well. Laura could get over herself. She let the smile on her lips reign. It was rare that she got to enjoy a full day without worry. “The only game I am playing is the game of life today. I got to enjoy a hard-born idea come to fruition.”
“Is that what it was?” The answer seemed to frustrate the other woman even more. “I earned today. In a little less than three months I've turned World Stage around, changing people's opinions of us for the better, reclaiming sales, and creating styles and choices that are changing the market and world at large. Do you have a problem with that, Ms. Aragon?” Anna turned her full attention on the detective, her blue eyes bright and unconquerable. “Not at all. It must feel good.” The detective faced Anna eye to eye. “The question is, what are you willing to expose yourself to?”
Each word fell at Anna's feet, darkening all the good she felt this day. “And how long do you think you can keep it up?” Raising her chin up slightly, Anna didn't dare show the bitter pill the woman caused her to swallow. Days like this left her with a little melancholy if she thought about it too much. The detective didn't have to remind her things could slide into a mire at any moment, but times of good gave her hope and strength to fight for a better life. “After all, what are you-- four, five months along?” As Laura spoke those words, everything stopped. What did she just say? She sat down quickly, and barely held onto the beauty she found today. “Four, five months along with what?” Playing dense was the best alternative she had right that moment. “Please, Miss Paige, do you think I cannot see? And if I can see it, so can others. So again, I ask you-- What kind of game are you playing?” Anna stood up, walked back to the railing taking a moment before hitting the detective head on. “You know, Detective Aragon, there are other reasons for weight gain in women beside pregnancy. It is not a safe bet to assume...”
Usually verbal sparring was invigorating. This was not. The thought of escaping inside crossed her mind, but that would be a sign of weakness that she could not afford. Pulling the sweater closer, she stood at the railing even though she felt chilled by the breeze. The woman's question came back to slap her in the face as it echoed in her head. She wasn't sure how long it took before the detective came to stand beside her. Anna ignored her, thinking over her options. She could shoot straight with her. That probably wasn't the safest choice. Lying was a possibility. Deception went against who she was though.
“For the record, we are on the same team, fighting the same enemy.” The detective whispered finally. It was meant as a reprieve she was sure, but it was no better than the jousting a moment earlier. “Just because we are fighting the same enemy doesn't mean we are on the same team.” Anna spoke as she stared blindly out at the Pacific waters, but no longer seeing the beauty she found in this day. “My agenda is quite different than yours. I wish I had never walked into your office...” She spat the words at her letting her anger be felt.
“Unfortunately for both of us, you are in the middle of everything I have been assigned, but I realize you do not know who I am or what I am doing.” Frustration laced the detective’s words together. Anna slowly turned and faced the woman deciding how to handle this conflict. “I don't want to know.” Honesty and bluntness was always her best policy. She would stick with what she knew. “You haven't done anything to help me or Cheryl and her brother. So, I am done. I want nothing more to do with you. If you are going to pursue whatever it is you're after, then count me out. If you ever get Wolffe and are stuck in court, then give me a jingle. I'll testify against him. Baring that... Stay out of my life.” The detective stood there rigid as if a rod had been shoved up her spine. Anna didn't care. She had had enough. No more. Jesse had done more to protect her than this woman and she was done. “I will stay out of your view Miss Paige, but I have a job to do.” The detective turned to leave the bow. There was one more thing...
“For the record, I'm six months pregnant and I've kept the public and in particular Wolffe from finding that out for this long...” The detective was like a statue for a second. Anna smiled slightly, feeling the triumph of at least winning one battle. “You don't know who I am either. Don't assume you do.”
Laura Aragon's orifice stood slightly open for a second then she snapped it shut before she would say something she would regret. Perhaps it was better this way. She could stay out of her sight. It would be better protection anyway. Now she had even more reason to make sure Anna Paige was protected. She shook her head slightly as she walked away. Damn! She was a fire breed! The thought made her smile. Anna didn't realize she knew a hell of a lot more about her now than she had six weeks ago. Now though she also knew what she had been hiding then. The past crossed her mind. She remembered her life not so long ago. There were choices she made and secrets she hid. It was amazing how much could change in sixteen years.