From Chapter Eight, Intrusion
Sydney and Isabelle shared a look over the centerpiece. To an outsider, they looked like two women looking at each other over a meal as their male counterpart rambled on about something. But, underneath its casual overtones, the visual exchange between Sydney Bristow and Isabelle Flannery was something far more intricate. It was not just two women assessing each other; it was two women assessing each other and seeing their deepest fears mirrored in the other’s eyes.
Then came the coup de grace: Isabelle’s gentle voice in Sydney’s head.
Sydney, that’s not our Michael.
Sydney’s eyebrows twitched a fraction, the only display of her utter internal shock, but her expression didn’t change. It was a reflex from her CIA training and experience trying to keep her secret life to herself. But even after the traffic-stopping incident from last year and the strange, unpredictable telekinesis, Isabelle had never spoken inside Sydney’s head like that before…
Sydney, that’s not our Michael.
“Anyone ready for dessert?” the man of indeterminate identity at the table suddenly asked.
After a humming moment, Sydney turned a dimpling smile onto him and responded, “Sure. The pie’s in the oven. It should still be warm.”
“I guess I’m elected to get dessert, huh?” He picked up his plate along with Sydney’s and Isabelle’s as he rose to his feet.
Isabelle managed an easy smile of her own. “Well, I cooked the meal and Sydney set the table. You have to be responsible for something. Just because you’re the man of the house doesn’t mean you can just get by with just taking out the trash every three days.”
He laughed and took the dishes away. In his wake, brown eyes met green once again, and smiles faded into expressions of suspicion. The sound of dishes clinking against one another in the other room did not go unheeded by Sydney and Isabelle; they were listening for his each and every move because they were wary of his intentions. However, in the back of her mind, Sydney still wondered how Isabelle’s voice had gotten into her head.
Because I’m putting it there, that’s how.
Sydney’s full lips parted slightly as if she wanted to speak, but she knew that it would prove harmful if they were right if she did say the words on her tongue aloud.
You don’t have to speak. I can hear your thoughts as well as speak to you in your mind. So think whatever you would like to say to me and I can hear you.
Sydney’s eyebrows furrowed at Isabelle. Please tell me you haven’t had this ability all along.
Isabelle’s mouth twitched at the tone of Sydney’s thought-speak. No. I had it a bit when you and Vaughn came to see me in Valladolid when I was still pregnant, but I gained it fully after Sophie was born. So don’t worry. I haven’t been able to hear all the nasty thoughts you’ve been having about me. When Sydney appeared as if she wanted to verbally refute that comment, Isabelle added, I’m joking. I know how you really feel about me, Sydney. Her gaze softened and Sydney started to believe her the Goddess right then. I have to tell you I harbor no ill will toward you.
Do you still love Vaughn?
Isabelle gave her a Really? look. He’s the father of my beautiful baby girl. Not to mention he has the cutest smile of any guy on this side of the Atlantic. Of course I still love him, Sydney. But I’m not some sexed up vixen from Melrose Place. I’m not going to conspire some way to lure him away from you. It’s not my way. He’s yours.
Sydney nodded, smiling at the bit about his smile. She was quite right about that. But then she sobered when she heard the pseudo-Vaughn coming out of the kitchen. Dammit. Listen, I think we need to talk about this later.
Insolence flashed in Isabelle’s green eyes. Like hell.
Sydney’s lips thinned. I will not back down on this. We will talk later, when we have a free moment. Our goal now is to keep up the pretense of normalcy. If he thinks that we’re onto him, he might try to harm us. Or Sophie. Isabelle swallowed then. Sydney didn’t have to know how to read thoughts to know how she felt.
“Ready for pie, ladies?” Vaughn (well, sort of) asked.
In perfect unison, Sydney and Isabelle shifted their gazes to him and quipped, “Yummy.”
Isabelle was out of the patio when Sydney found her later on that night. Isabelle was in her nightgown and robe, and the filmy material fluttered in the breeze over her pale skin. When she looked at Sydney, clad in Vaughn’s T-shirt that flirted with her toned thighs, she inhaled before speaking softly.
“Is he asleep?”
Sydney sat down next to her. “He’s down for the count.” She sighed wearily. “It was so strange, being in bed with him, kissing him, making love to him, knowing that he may not be the man I loved. It felt…” Sydney paused then, trying to find the right word to adequately describe the way she felt at that moment. “It felt dishonest somehow.”
“I understand. I was here thinking myself that I’ve been letting him hold Sophie and feed her and change her…” Isabelle stopped then, unable to go on. She had expressed what she was feeling; of course she didn’t like it. Sydney placed her hand on Isabelle’s shoulder for a moment and Isabelle felt comforted.
“I don’t understand how this could have happened,” Sydney admitted. “You said that you felt him in that exact location right before the CIA had said they’d found him.”
“And I did. It was him. I’m sure of it even still.” She looked at Sydney. “Maybe he’s still alive, but not here with us.” She paused for a moment and tilted her head to the sky. Sydney wondered what Isabelle was doing…that is until she felt the air around Isabelle vibrating like she was a tuning fork. A moment later, a symbol glowed on her forehead, one that Sydney had recognized. It was the symbol for the Tricorn Goddess, the symbol that had appeared on Isabelle’s forehead the night they—mostly Isabelle, though—had taken down the Covenant.
After a couple of minutes, the symbol disappeared and Isabelle lowered her head.
“What was that for?” Sydney asked.
“I was checking to see if I still felt Michael’s life force,” Isabelle told her, her breathing slightly ragged. She shook her head. “It’s odd. I can feel him here—but very faintly.” She looked at Sydney, green eyes filled with disquiet. “I wish I could explain this to you.”