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Connor caught a glimpse of dark chestnut hair and every muscle in his neck and shoulder tensed, his right hand automatically moving to rest on the hilt of his pulse pistol. He tamped down the kneejerk reaction, mentally ordering himself to recall this woman was not the woman who tried to kill John and nearly blinded him, this was not the woman who followed John and Jenifer to Aretu and tried to assassinate them all while they slept, this was not the woman who slung vile curses from her cell, this was not the woman who snapped Mel's neck, pounded her skull into the concrete, and left her effectively dead, and this was not the woman who constructed the plan to kidnap his great niece Nicole Tanner.


If she was anything more than a shell left in the wake of Kathleen's insanity, she might be the only hope any of them had.


The rich brown eyes that looked at him were so far removed from the harsh rage that had darkened them during her possession, they made his awareness jolt at the juxtaposition. The fear was still there. Today it was controlled. Her eyes were large and wide and dark, tinged with a discernible sadness. Soft waves of rich chestnut hair replaced the ragged, disheveled mess of Kathleen's fight against capture. Her features seemed somehow more delicate, though her face was no different than before, her skin smooth with the slightest olive tone.


The defining difference was absolutely in her eyes.


Her soul was once again firmly in place, if not fragmented.


Had he seen this woman on the street, he would have paused, appreciating her beauty. How ironic.


Her steps paused and she stared at him, and as much as he knew he should nod or look away, he didn't. She blinked rapidly and only looked away when Damian laid a hand on her elbow and drew her forward. After a couple steps, she looked back again, her brows drawn down, not in anger or frustration, but like she was trying to figure out something. Then again, that's why she was here.


Connor canted his head, staring back.


Damian said something he couldn't hear, and she turned away, nodding. Phin had been speaking to Victor in the foyer, but with a nod to Connor, moved down the hall. Victor stopped beside Connor, and while Connor knew the man had tried to adjust his view toward Connor in light of Nick's revelation and pretty much direct order, Connor still sensed the tension in the man's stance. It was reflected in the pinch around his eyes.


"Pray this works, Connor," Victor said, glancing briefly in Connor's direction. "If she cannot help..."


He didn't finish the thought. A scream echoed from the direction the group had gone, and Connor bolted.

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