"Still nothing," Julian sighs after checking every news feed, every bit of industry gossip and corporate conspiracy site for even the smallest hint of a shake up at MorcuCorp, only to find, once again, not so much as a whisper of trouble. Something had gone wrong in his plan somewhere, but, what? Had Fergus not gotten the message? Was Tourmaline so incompetent that she couldn't find him despite the clues he'd left for Fergus?
"It's been a whole week we've been holed up here in the mountains," Jilly complains, "Maybe I should just call Fergus..."
"You can't call Fergus," Julian say emphatically, "If MorcuCorp doesn't know where we are, calling Fergus will bring them down on us."
"Well, that might be better than just waiting here, not knowing," Jilly says, obviously frustrated by their long period of inaction, "You don't have to worry about MorcuCorp. If they tried to take you back, they'd have to through me."
"That's actually what I'm afraid of, Jilly," Julian says, smiling a little at her self-confidence and eagerness for a fight even as he raises a hand to his forehead in dismay at the thought of her throwing herself against MorcuCorp's assassins, "MorcuCorp is ruthless. If Fergus hasn't taken them down, they will come after us. We'll never be safe anywhere."
"Then there's no point staying here like sitting ducks, right?" Jilly reasons, "If we aren't safe anywhere, we should keep moving and make ourselves a harder target."
Julian sits beside her on the edge of the bed, wrapping his arm around her waist. "Life on the run won't be as exciting you think," he says gently.
"We'll do what have to, to be free," Jilly says, giving his shoulder a comforting squeeze, "I won't let them take you."
Julian leans close to her, brushing his lips against her neck. She's reckless, over-confident and tends to see herself as the heroine of some action movie playing in her head. But it's not all her fantasy, she's got the skills to back up her bravado, and their situation is dire enough that he might need to use them. It's a bit of a turn on, he has to admit to himself; like Geoffrey, he has a strong attraction to dangerous blondes. But Geoffrey, in all his engineering of the Brannon line descending from Pearl's son Farrell, never anticipated the role Elliot's line would play in their lives. He couldn't have designed a more perfect woman for himself, and yet here she is, the true love who broke his curse.
"You aren't wearing my ring," he observes in a whisper, pulling away from her.
"I thought it would be weird, since it was a fake engagement," Jilly answers.
"Jillyan, you know how I feel about you. There was never anything fake about it," Julian answers, and then sighs, heavy with a new resolve. He can't, he won't, drag her down with him, even if it means he has to lose her. "I would give anything to spend my whole life with you, but..."
"If you're about to say that I'd be better off without you and that you're going to turn yourself in to MorcuCorp so I can escape...I will knock you out and chain you up," Jilly cuts him off.
"This is serious, Jill," Julian insists.
"And so am I," she answers, "I'm not going to let you just walk off and pretend things would be better that way. If we have to live on the run, that's fine. But I am going to be with you, Julian. Whatever it takes. We are in this together."
"I couldn't live with myself knowing I was putting you in danger," Julian protests.
"Stop that," Jilly says, "This is decided. No discussion. You aren't going anywhere." She frowns at him sternly, "Now, we need to make plans for our next move..."
This time it's Julian who interrupts her, silencing her with a deep, passionate kiss. "We aren't going anywhere today," he whispers, "Except back into bed."
Their attention focused on each other, they don't notice the door open until Tourmaline, gun pointed at them, orders them to get off the bed.
"Fergus, what the fuck?" Jilly asks her cousin, standing as commanded, putting herself in front of Julian even as he tries to move her behind him.
"I got your message," Fergus says, looking at Julian.
"I meant for you take MorcuCorp down, not to become one of them," Julian answers, his glance moving from Fergus to his former agent and back again, "You can't seriously trust her."
"I'm not the traitor here, Geoffrey," Tourmaline answers, "I'm the one sticking to the plan. You engineered Pearl to be the catalyst, to awaken the latent power the Brannons carried in their genes. You lured Pearl's son to seek out his ancestors, so he'd encounter Reinier Landgraab's daughter, betting on them producing children. You did all this to create an heir you'd never be able produce naturally, a super-Landgraab with powers your family has never possessed. And now that all your planning has come fruition, you want to use him to destroy us. But he's smarter than that, Geoffrey, smarter than you. MorcuCorp will be better, and stronger, under his leadership."
"So, you're the boss of MorcuCorp now," Jilly says to her cousin, "Why is she pointing a gun at us?"
"Jilly, move away from him," Fergus answers, "You don't know who he really is."
Jilly pulls out of Julian's arms, stepping deliberately between him and the gun pointed in their direction. "I know exactly who he is," she says defiantly to her cousin, "And I know who you are. This isn't you, Fergus. So call your bitch off and let us go."
"It's not that simple, Jill," Fergus says, "He knows way too much to just let him walk away."
"So you're going to murder him?" Jilly shouts, "I won't let you!"
Jilly takes a step forward; beside him, Fergus senses Tourmaline tensing, her fingers tightening around the trigger, ready to shoot.
It's not a vision, really, not like his mother's Sight, though her ability, latent inside him, might play role in the new talent he's unlocked in himself. But unlike his mother's gift, Fergus' sight is based on physics and mathematics, his mind making rapid calculations that let him see the immanent consequences that would result from the current course of events.
Real time slows around him as he peers ahead into the minutes that follow this one, watches as Jilly presses forward, angry, threatening. Tourmaline will then shoot her gun, killing her instantly. Fergus watches his cousin fall into a widening pool of blood.
And Tourmaline will shoot Julian as well, but not before he falls in grief over Jilly's dying body, not even trying to defend himself or escape his own death, overwhelmed by his loss.
This surprises Fergus. When he learned who Julian really was, any grain of trust he might have nurtured for his cousin's lover was destroyed. But his sight undeniable in its truth. Whether he's Julian or Geoffrey, he loves Jilly enough to die for her. And that's all the leverage Fergus needs over his former adversary, turning a potential threat into an asset to valuable to waste.
"Stand down, Tourmaline," Fergus orders, returning to the present to stop the future he glimpsed from ever happening.
"Sir?" Tourmaline questions him, but complies, pulling her weapon away automatically at his command.
"We're all family here," Fergus says, "I'm sure we can work out a suitable arrangement, without resorting to violence."
Jilly relaxes her stance, but folds her arm across her chest as she asks, "What sort of 'arrangement'?"
"You, both of you, will work for me," Fergus answers.