Chapter 7 After thinking up new ways to spend the generous inheritance left to her by her grandmother, Allison's favorite pastime over the past three years had become luring in and then tossing aside as many men as she could, especially those with greedy eyes on her inheritance. Not a classic beauty, still she was attractive, and kept herself as well-groomed as inherited "old money" could afford. That "special" grooming had in turn helped to keep her with a steady supply of always eager male admirers. Six weeks ago she had decided that Derek Emerson, the country club's newest junior golf instructor would be her next conquest. She had sensed, and had been excited by, the barely contained tension and restlessness hiding behind a perfect smile and easy banter. The fact that there wasn't a spare ounce of fat anywhere on his well-muscled physique hadn't hurt either. But what had caused her to decide on him was a conversation she'd had with Nooreen Swansley, another patron of the very exclusive country club. "You can't be serious!" "Why not?" Allison asked as she and Nooreen, one of the only three young women at the club who were even close to her financial and social status, got out of her black Alfa Romeo and headed into the club early that Tuesday morning. "For one thing," Nooreen said, grabbing her tennis racket from the backseat and falling in step with her friend, "he gives me the creeps." "Jeremy gives me the creeps...." "Not funny!" Nooreen responded sharply. Allison grinned, unable to resist another dig about her friend's probably soon to be fiance'. "I mean, dating a grave digger...." "He's a mortician, not a grave digger! There's a big difference," Nooreen hotly defended her boyfriend. In spite of her friend's "creepy" opinion of the new golf instructor, it hadn't taken long for Allison to draw him in. She had afforded him countless opportunities to put his arms around her...and more... during the very private golf lessons that usually took place on the very private nine hole golf course on her estate a few miles outside of New Orleans. She preferred her... activities ...to be outdoors. And very private. Allison had also learned early on that 'disposing' of a used conquest was best done in private, especially since she had an absolute horror of public displays of emotion. Derek hadn't let a single opportunity slip by. And he had proven to be as good, even better at other..activities..as he was at golf. But over the past couple of weeks he'd become more demanding, flashes of jealousy piercing the debonair surface. When he'd grabbed her wrist a couple of days ago, angrily demanding that she stop flirting with another club member who had paused to talk with them had been the final straw. Now the corners of Allison's lips turned up in a saucy way as she let her eyes speak for her. "Would you help me, Derek? I'm still having trouble with my back swing." She saw the instant response in the dark eyes. She laughed inside, waiting for him to come up behind her and put his arms around her, ostensibly to show her..yet again..how to hold the club properly. "Guess you're gonna need quite a few more lessons," Derek murmured against Allison's ear. Taking her lightly by the shoulders, he pulled her back against him, nuzzling her cheek. "Too bad it won't be you giving me those lessons...lover," Allison purred with exaggerated sweetness. The coldness of her smile matched the ice in her eyes as she prepared to put another greedy male in his place. The way he went suddenly still, his grip on her shoulders tightening told her she'd hit the bull's eye. "What do you mean?" Derek let his hands slide lightly up over her shoulders, noting how creamy soft Allison's skin was, his hands caressing up and down the slender column of her neck before pausing on her shoulders again. "It means no more private lessons, Sugarcakes," Allison snapped, throwing down the club and turning around to face him, not bothering to move out of his grasp. "What are you saying...Allison?" Derek felt the muscles along his jaw tighten. "That means, 'Mister' Emerson," Allison corrected stiffly, "that you are no longer welcome on my property again." Easily as tall as the man watching her through narrowed eyes, she drew herself up to her full height, and met his gaze coldly. "We're finished." "Baby, you can't mean that..." Derek began, moving his hands up to cup her face. "No!" Allison spat the word as she pushed his hands away and stepped back. "Don't touch me! Don't you ever touch me again!" "What did you say?" Derek said softly, his tone silken as he felt the rage boiling up inside, flooding his mind as he took a step toward her. "I said...NO!" she screamed. "I sai..." It took a few seconds for Allison to realize that she was the source of the odd choking sound filling her ears. Frantically she clawed at the hands tightening around her neck. ------------------------------- Intimidation wasn't an attitude Al liked. It rarely worked on him, and he especially didn't like using it on other people. It was purely a power manuever, but he knew that sometimes it was the only effective way to get an individual's attention off their situation at the moment long enough to get them moving, hopefully in the right direction. Past experience, as well as the look in Sam's eyes at the doctor's office, had told the Observer instantly that it was the only thing that would get through the anxious indecisiveness he'd seen rising in those green eyes. Sam's instant defensive response to that first seemingly cold reply had also delved deep, retrieving a memory Al had thought he'd buried so carefully decades ago. As much as he'd hated resurrecting it, that moment of ugliness in his life had been the razor edge needed to cut through the fear wrapping tighter and tighter around his friend's mind. He'd barely finished delivering that stinging cut and felt a spark of relief at Sam's response, when Gooshie's urgent voice had filled the Imaging Chamber. "Admiral!" Gooshie's voice bounced off the walls of Imaging Chamber like an echo. "Mr. Emerson's brainwaves are rising at an alarming rate!" Al hadn't thought twice. "Center me on him, Gooshie! Now!" It had taken a few seconds for the lock with Derek's brainwaves to sync with his, but as the scene before him sharpened, Al realized what he was seeing. His guts begin to tighten as somewhere in the deepest part of his memory where it had simmered for decades, the black rage that hadn't emerged since...a night in a blinding deluge in a stinking jungle ....erupted again. "GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Al shouted. Forgetting that he was in the Imaging Chamber, he lunged forward, thrashing his arms as if he could grab Derek and drag him away from the terrified young woman choking on her own screams. But the Observer's angry shouts were nothing more than whispers lost in the ceaselessly shifting currents of time. All he could do was watch helplessly as Derek used Allison's frantic struggles to his own advantage. Watched as he spun her around and with the ease of experience gave her head a single sharp twist. The sound of bones snapping was unmistakable.