Alistair was the first one to know that Rachel was 'missing'. When the violent storm had appeared out of NO WHERE
he hadn't been overly concerned. He knew she'd sailed in worse, and would come back to the docks immediately.
So, hours after the freak storm began, he'd been sure that she was home and safe, happy with the flowers he'd sent.
That's why the phone call surprised him so much.
It was all very vague and calm. All the man said was that Miss Barrett hadn't been seen pulling into the docks,
and did Alistair know if she was home yet. He replied that he did not, but he WAS sure she had gone sailing. The
man had simply thanked him and hung up.
Katherine delicately sniffed and frowned. Lilies were everywhere she turned, thousands, she was sure, in every
imaginable color, taking up every square inch of carpet and on top of every surface in every room and even spilling
up the stairs and into the bedrooms. They were all in different types of beautiful vases. A spectacular gift for
her sister. From Alistair.
Katherine hated to think that she could be a mean-spirited or vengeful person. Yet somehow all she could think
about was how desperately she wished all those flowers were for her.
She sighed impatiently. Rachel was supposed to have been home a long time ago, but Katherine reasoned that she
was probably where she always was lately - WITH Alistair. She cringed at the realization that she'd need to deal
with seeing the two of them together for the rest of her life. Suddenly the telephone rang, jarring her out of
She slowly made her way through the very narrow path the lilies left. "Hello?" she questioned.
"Hello, Katherine?" came the slightly shaken voice of Alistair Crane.
"Alistair?" she asked, confused.
"Is Rachel there?" he asked hurriedly. "Let me talk to Rachel."
"She isn't with you?" Katherine blurted, confused.
"No," he answered shortly. "Well - she never came back to the docks, they don't think, I mean."
Katherine noticed that he was making no sense with some alarm. "Well, Alistair," she said calmly, "I'm
sure she just lost track of time. You know her. I'd HARDLY worry about-"
"There was an awful storm, Katherine!" he snapped.
"But there couldn't have been one that was so bad, there was NOTHING here," Katherine said soothingly.
"It could NOT have been WORSE," Alistair said, and she heard his voice shake slightly. "I'm awaiting
word here. If you or you're parents wanted to come over-"
She laughed uneasily. "Alistair you can't think that-"
"Just tell me if she comes home."
With that he hung up.
Two hours later Timothy and Alistair Crane were waiting in the Crane living room with Katherine and Jacob Barrett.
Elizabeth had stayed home to wait for her daughter, just in case.
A small crew of police officers, all looking remorseful, stepped into the living room. The police chief was among
them. Stepping slowly forward, he began to speak.
"I'm terribly sorry to have to say this - we found the boat. Crushed. Hundreds of pieces - " he seemed
unable to go on.
"Rachel." Alistair said. "Did you find Rachel?"
In spite of himself the chief made a strangled sort of sound. He'd been on the force for 30 years and had never
wished so violently that he wouldn't have to say something. That something could be untrue.
"No," he answered finally. "Only this." He brought forward a torn piece of a yellow rain slicker.
"Is this hers?"
Alistair didn't answer. "Yes," Katherine finally said. "Yes, it - it looks like my sister's."
"The parts of the boat that weren't submerged," the chief went on slowly, regretfully, "Were absolutely
drenched in blood - " he took a deep breath. "It is VERY important that you all understand - REALLY
understand, that Miss Barrett could not have survived. It is NOT possible."
"If you didn't find her then it's possible!" Alistair insisted vehemently. "So what I want to know
is why you're here and not out there LOOKING for my fiancée!"
"Please Mr. Crane," he near-begged. "I know how hard this must be for you, but she couldn't have
gotten to shore. The current was VIOLENTLY against her. And she could never have survived in the water, it was
too cold. This is to say nothing of the - of the undertow - and of the blood loss. I am SO sorry but she IS
"NO!" Alistair shouted as loudly as possible. "I DON'T BELIEVE YOU! NOOOOOO!" he shouted again.
He rushed out the door. "Alistair!" Katherine cried out weakly before turning to bury her head in her
"Alistair STOP!" Timothy called, but it was no use. "Pity," he murmured softly. "About
Katherine felt shock, then indifference. She supposed she should be upset, but she wasn't. Just numb. Totally and
completely numb. And she desperately wished she knew where Alistair had gone.
Alistair ran. He ran all the way to the outskirts of the beach, then he sunk down onto his knees and sobbed. It
was a strange feeling, heartbreak - . and he hadn't cried since he was a little boy. He just sat there, beside
himself, sobbing, with the sand whipping up into his face for hours, until the sun began to rise. Then, with no
tears left to cry, he pulled himself up and began to slowly walk home.
When he finally arrived, his father was the only person still there. "Alistair," Timothy said simply.
Alistair began to talk softly, slowly, as if unaware that his father was there. "she was always laughing,"
he whispered wistfully. "Laughing, and smiling, and SO very improper. She LIKED to sail, to ride. She was
SO - full of life. And we would fight - but she was simply impossible to stay angry with, because right in the
middle of the fight she'd just start laughing. Always laughing. She liked to tease me - she was looking forward
to the future. She wanted a house, I was going to buy her a house, I would have bought her 10" he cried out.
"And she was so happy to be with me, to be around me, God knows why - and she made me so happy. SO happy.
And now it's gone. Just like that. It's really gone, isn't it?" Alistair asked, staring at his father.
Timothy coughed awkwardly. "Yes," he answered finally. "Yes, it is. She is." He bit his lip,
seeming to determine whether or not to go on. He took a deep breath. "But - son, you have to understand,
we - the company, we still want the Crane/ Barrett merger."
Alistair looked at him blankly, not comprehending. Timothy drove the point home.
"After a suitable amount of time passes, I want you to start courting Katherine. For the family, Alistair.
For OUR family."
Alistair just continued to stare at him. He felt EMPTY. And somehow he knew he would never love anyone again, not
like that. Not completely. He couldn't. He wasn't capable of it. 'It wasn't a merger to US,' he thought vaguely.
"Alistair?" Timothy asked uncertainly. "Will you?"
"Yes, father," he answered softly, and in that moment something inside Alistair Crane PERMINANTLY changed.
"Yes, whatever you want."