Tear of Betrayal Chapter 1 Alamogordo, New Mexico August 29, 1999 *Is this tall enough?* she wondered as she stood on the ledge, looking down from the top of a 20-story building. *Is this high enough for him to understand my message? *She exhaled, taking a few steps away from the ledge. *I guess it will have to be. It must be. He must understand what he did to me. He has to pay somehow. *She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. *And this is that somehow.* With firm determination in her eyes, she started running towards the ledge. She bounced off the ledge and into the air, a ribbon-like tail attached to her midframe. She spread her arms as if she could fly, her eyes closed so that she wouldn't see the ground rushing toward her at an incredible speed. She didn't open them until she felt the bounce, certain that the bungie cord she had strapped around her chest was preventing her from falling further than ten floors. She looked down, with tired and anguished eyes, at the crowd that had gathered. *They're wondering what the hell I'm doing. Some of them are probably expecting me to start climbing up my cord. *She tried to distinguish between the faces in the crowd. Yet, even though she couldn't see any of the faces below her, she knew he wasn't there. *Where is he?* she demanded silently. *He has to be here. He must be here in person.* His presence was the only way, she felt, she would find peace - and revenge. "I guess I'll just have to wait," she told herself, crossing her arms over her plain navy T-shirt. She closed her eyes and let the wind blow her brown ponytail, let the sun shine on her deeply-tanned skin, let her jean-covered legs hang limply against the building's wall. It wasn't long before she heard the sirens coming closer and closer until they were directly below her. She opened her eyes and looked down to see that the crowd had grown considerably and was now being urged to step clear of the building. Police officers, both uniformed and plain-clothed, were entering the building through the front door below her. *Let them come*, she thought grimly. *They won't stop me from letting justice be served.* She waited again, waited for the assistance she did not want but knew was necessary to have her revenge. It was not long before that assistance came. A window, about five feet to her right, opened and a woman stuck her head out, looking at her with concern. "Ma'am, my name is Lieutenant Susan Harris." The Lieutenant gave her a gentle smile. "You have nothing to worry about. We'll get you out of this as soon as possible." But she shook her head firmly at the Lieutenant's assurances, taking a sharp pair of scissors from the right pocket of her jeans. "You make any move to pull me in or up and I'll cut the cord," she warned the Lieutenant. "I swear I will." Lieutenant Harris looked at the woman with shock before she quickly pulled her head back in the building. "Hold it, guys!" she said as calmly as she could to the others in the room. "We've got a suicide attempt on our hands. She's threatened to cut her bungie cord if we try to bring her up or pull her in." With a calming breath, she relied on her fellow officers to take the appropriate actions while she put her head out the window again. The woman raised the scissors above her head and around the cord, ready to snip the cord in half at a moment's notice. Harris put out a reassuring hand. "I'm not going to try to pull you in. I promise. I just want to talk to you. Okay?" The woman looked at her with suspicion but didn't move an inch. Harris took a breath. "What's your name?" The woman didn't answer right away. "It's Angela," she told her. "Angela Bea Cotton." "Why are you doing this, Angela? What do you want?" "Justice," Angela told her bluntly. "I want justice. I want him here, right here. I swear, if anyone makes a move on me before I see him, I'll cut the rope." Harris looked at her carefully. "Who is it you want to see?" Angela hesitated a moment before speaking. "Albert Calavicci," she finally said. "I want to see Albert Calavicci." Harris nodded before looking in the building and then back at Angela. The latter woman seemed nervous. "Okay, Angela. I'll see what we can do." She stepped away from the window with a quiet exhale, facing a man in a plain navy suit as she did so. "Captain," she greeted somberly but with respect. The Captain, a middle-height, middle-aged black man, looked at her with question. "What's the situation?" Harris exhaled. "The woman's name is Angela Cotton, sir. She says she wants to see someone named Albert Calavicci and he'll cut herself down if we try to bring her in." The Captain took a breath. "So, who is this Calavicci guy? Her boyfriend?" Harris shook her head. "I don't know. I didn't push the subject. She seems a little antsy." The Captain thought for a moment. "Okay, Lieutenant. We have a psychiatrist coming right now. Until he gets here, I need you to keep Angela calm while we track down this Calavicci guy." Harris nodded, showing that she understood her instructions. "Will do, sir." The Captain turned to another officer in the office they were occupying. "Peters, find this guy. Find out who he is, find out where he is, and get him over here ASAP." "Yes, sir," Peters replied before leaving the room. The person for whom Peters was searching sat at a plain wooden desk in a plainly decorated office, his eyes firmly focusing through a pair of purple-rimmed reading glasses. He sat back in his chair and exhaled, removing the glasses before rubbing the bridge of his nose with his right index finger. He lowered his hand and closed his eyes with fatigue. Sometimes being in charge was a serious pain in the ass, in the opinion of Rear Admiral Albert Anthony Calavicci. It was tiresome to have to read consumption reports of every kind all the time - almost as tiresome as approving or disapproving requests of every kind. Requests for vacation time, for supplies for every area of the complex, for appointments, for reviews - the list was seemingly endless. Sometimes Al just wanted to put all of the paperwork into the trash can and make someone else do it. This was one of those sometimes. Al was beginning to feel old and there was more to it than his being sixty-five years and a few months old. It was more than the fact that he was becoming increasingly far-sighted, making it necessary for him to use reading glasses when he worked alone in the office. It was more than the fact that he tended to tire more easily than he did five years ago. It was a combination of all of the above and of the job he performed every day for the past four and a half years. It was also the fact that everyone had just recently celebrated his best friend's birthday - without the guest of honor. Al felt like a rubber ball, bouncing around the Project Quantum Leap complex as much as Dr. Samuel Beckett was bouncing around in time. There were so many things Al had to do - so many responsibilities to which he had to attend. Sometimes he felt overpowered with all his responsibilities. However, he never - not once - regretted having them. Having rested his tiring eyes briefly, Al reflexively adjusted his pale blue dress jacket before picking up a sheet of paper and placing his glasses back over his eyes. Quickly reading the request for approval of food supplies, he initialed the paper and placed it to the side. "Admiral," a silky feminine voice interrupted Al's picking up yet another report. Al looked up at the ceiling, removing the reading glasses as he did so. He knew his actions were very likely pointless. The owner of the voice probably already knew Al had the glasses and she was definitely not located on the ceiling. In fact, she was several floors below Al's office. "Yes, Ziggy," he replied to the beckon. "Has Sam leaped?" "Negative, Admiral. Dr. Beckett remains between leaps," the silky voice told him. "However, I believe I have come across something about which you should be immediately informed." Al frowned with curiosity, placing the glasses on top of his desk as he leaned slightly forward in his chair. "What is it?" he questioned, wondering what Project Quantum Leap's hybrid computer had found. "I have been scanning the police channels throughout the state and I have come across something very disturbing," Ziggy started. "The Alamogordo Police Department is searching for you." Al's eyes widened in shock. "What? Why?" "Your presence is demanded at the sight of an attempted suicide." "By whom?" "By the woman who is attempting suicide." Al was seriously thinking about what he had been told. "Who is the woman?" "I have as yet been unable to discover her identity, Admiral," Ziggy told him plainly. "However, I believe it would be wise and prudent if you and Dr. Beeks were to proceed immediately to the police scene in Alamogordo. The woman had threatened to kill herself if you do not arrive before sunset." Al exhaled, standing with determination. "Okay, then. Have Beeks meet me on Level One and see if you can get anything on this woman." He walked towards his office door. "Contact me the minute you have anything on this situation and why whoever this woman is wants to see me." Exiting the office, he walked down the brightly-lit hallway, thinking seriously about the turn of events. Who was this woman who demanded his presence and why him? He was certain that no one he knew would even think of suicide much less attempt it. He stopped at the elevator and waited patiently for the cab to arrive. The elevator doors opened moments later to reveal a lovely black woman waiting in the cab. He joined the woman, giving her a nod. "You're quick," he commented to her. "Obviously, Ziggy informed you of the situation at the same time she informed me," Verbina Beeks concluded as the cab continued its rise to the top level of the complex. "So, who is this person? Or do you know?" Al shook his head. "No idea. I figure if my presence there will save her life, I don't care who she is." Verbina looked at the Admiral with care. "You're concerned that she really is someone you know." Al returned the look. "Wouldn't you be?" Verbina gave him a little smile. "Yes, I would. But there's something else, isn't there?" Al exhaled. "If I don't know her, why did she ask for me?" The two remained silent as the elevator door opened. They stepped out and walked towards a large, well-guarded, metal door. "We won't know the answer to that until we get there," Verbina finally answered as they approached the door and exited the complex. The moment Al and Verbina arrived at the twenty-story building, Al introduced both of them to the nearest police officer. Hearing Al's name, the officer raised his eyebrows. He lifted his radio and informed his captain of the new arrivals. A moment later, he escorted Al and Verbina past the police line. The Captain stepped out of the building a moment later and looked at the two arrivals with firm eyes. "Al Calavicci?" he questioned. Al nodded firmly. The Captain extended his hand. "Captain Joe Reese." Al shook his head and released it. "Dr. Verbina Beeks, psychiatrist," he introduced his companion. Reese and Verbina shook hands. "So," Reese started. "What's between you and this woman?" Al looked up at the woman hanging ten floors above him. "I've never seen her before." "Are you sure about that?" Al turned his eyes to him. "Positive." Reese looked at him carefully. "You know, that's funny because she asked for you by name and here you came walking right into our hands." Al lowered his eyelids slightly. "I have my resources," he told him. "Look, Captain, we could stand here all day and argue why she called for me or we can go up and get that woman out of danger. Personally, I prefer the latter. Don't you?" Reese took a breath before escorting Al and Verbina into the building. A few minutes later, the three entered the office, which had been set up as a temporary center of operations. "What's her name? What does she want?" Al asked, looking towards the open window and the man who was leaning slightly out of it to talk to the woman. "She says her name is Angela Bea Cotton," the Captain told him. "Our psychiatrist has been talking to her but so far all she had demanded was you. She won't say anything else." As the Captain finished his sentence, the psychiatrist came back into the room and turned towards him. The psychiatrist shook his head. "All she does is keep demanding for Al Calavicci," he told Reese. Reese nodded. "Well, her demands have been answered. Dr. Anson, Dr. Calavicci," he introduced. Al and Anson shook hands. "Are you sure you've never heard of Angela Bea Cotton," Reese repeated himself. Al exhaled slowly. "Captain, if I knew this woman, I promise you that I would have told you by now. But I don't and I have no idea why she would ask for me." He turned to Anson. "How is she?" Anson took a breath. "Very emotional. Very angry." "Angry?" Verbina questioned. "About what?" Anson shook his head. "I don't know but it definitely has something to do with you, Mr. Calavicci." "Admiral," Al corrected gently. He exhaled. "If she's angry with me for whatever reason, then I'm the last person she should see." "You might be the only person who can talk her into coming in," Verbina told him gently. Al rubbed the bottom of his face gently, thinking seriously about the situation. "Well, then, I'd better get to work. Don't you think?" he commented to Verbina before slowly heading for the window. "I'll guide you through it," Verbina informed him, following him to the window. Reese and Anson watched as Al and Verbina reached the window. "You sure this is a good idea?" Reese questioned. Anson paused. "I don't think anyone else would be acceptable to her. He's probably the last hop we have in bringing her back in." Reese frowned slightly at the statement but accepted the truth of it. Al took a deep breath before slowly sticking his head and shoulders out of the window while Verbina positioned herself so that she could assist as best as possible. "Angela," he said gently. Angela quickly looked towards the voice and glared at the source. "There you are, you son of a bitch," she commented angrily. This is getting off to a great start, Al thought sadly but didn't allow any signs of despair show on his face. "Angela, I understand you asked to see me," he started. "I'm here now, Angela, just like you wanted. So why don't you come on in and discuss your grievances with me." Angela huffed. "Grievances," she repeated quietly. "Do you know the etymology of that word, Al Calavicci? It comes from the Old French verb "grever", which means "to grieve". Therefore, a grievance is something that causes one to grieve." She looked at Al with deep hatred. "That means you are my grievance, Al Calavicci. You destroyed my life, you bastard! She named you! You killed her!" She raised her scissors and put the cord between the blades. "Wait a minute, Angela!" Al said firmly but quietly. "Let's talk about this." Angela glared at him. "You think I asked for you just so you could pull me in? I don't think so." She closed the blades quickly together. "No!" Al screamed, reaching out for her. But it was too late. Angela tumbled down at a dizzying rate as spectators watched from the ground with terrifying curiosity. Al dropped to his knees in anguish, unable to bear what he was witnessing. He closed his eyes to block out the sight. Little did he know that he would still be able to hear Angela hit the sidewalk, even when he was eleven stories up.