I truly wish to thank all of you for tuning in and reading along with Eilea and family in Critical Error. Your varied comments have been encouraging and heartwarming.
I have a few changes and editing to do which I find exciting and stimulating (all part of the ongoing process) even as I have noted several instances here and there I wish to embellish on and others dismiss. It’s a work in progress but fills me with constant delight.
My thought process throughout has been to entertain and provide a moment of time in which to escape for fun and even some nail-biting or edge of the seat excitement. If I was able to provide a couple of these elements, I reached my goal.
Having said that, please stay tuned for my next novel which will begin shortly, entitled Blindsided. It’s also about a stalker and since I’ve borrowed many of the ideas from this novel in Critical Error, please bear with me as some instances might sneak through and observable in my newest endeavour as I will attempt to re-write this as I go. I have so many ideas and thoughts floating through my mind, I’m hoping this will be minimal, but it might happen and I ask your forbearance before I begin.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy this new idea as much as the others or more so.
Again thank you for following along. Your continued interest made the writing and editing worthwhile. As much was on the spot and in the moment, it was off the cuff of my thinking cap and carried much of what I intended perhaps not in the way I intended but it was fun to do.
Still working on getting Gallery of Deception ready for publishing, my life has been pretty involved of late and I haven’t had as much time to allocate to writing as I would have wished, but hopefully, soon.
Take care all, and once again, a humble thank you.
They were a family. Together they attended the hearing which was comparatively short. Paul mentioned they were hoping to get a specific judge who took a hard line on bullying, cyber-bullying and stalking. Not to mention shooting at cops. They did.
Sitting quietly side by side, they listened to his conclusions.
“Your actions were depraved, base, cruel. You refused at any time to take into account the family and friends of Eilea Martin. You stalked her, threatened her, took her life away from her and her family.”
“On top of these actions, you premeditatedly obtained a weapon and fired on her and her family, other members of the public and law enforcement officers summoned to protect Eilea Martin and her family. Not once, but on three separate occasions. You cut the lines on Christina Martin’s parachute causing bodily harm that could have been far more severe.”
“At no time did you show remorse or stop your unwanted attention. While some may feel inclined to suggest you are mentally unstable, I am not.”
“It is my ruling that you shall receive three 10 year sentences for the attempted murders (outlined below). I also rule 20 years directly relating to the stalking of Miss Martin. These sentences are consecutive sentences.”
“Further, you are to have absolutely no contact with Eilea Martin and or her family or anyone connected with her. Therefore, you will not be permitted phone or internet access of any kind. The only exception I am allowing is notification of a family emergency. Your letters and any phone calls you are making will be vetted.”
“I would hand down a far stronger sentence if it were in my power. Consider yourself lucky and warned. I am placing a note on this file. Should there be any and I repeat for your benefit, any attempt to disregard my orders, you will be dealt with accordingly.”
When the judge slammed the gavel down, it was final! Eilea and her family felt it strongly, clearly.
As the judge rose, he turned to look at Eilea and she lifted her head and looked him directly in the eyes. Words were not spoken but he nodded toward her and each family member before leaving the courtroom.
“Doesn’t get much better than that verdict!” Paul stated triumphantly.
Many of his fellow officers who’d assisted in protecting Eilea’s family were also present in a show of solidarity. As they walked passed her, she shook their hand or hugged them, whichever seemed most appropriate.
Everyone present was invited to Pauls for a massive bbq of epic proportions. Eilea and Paul had bought dozens of ribs and cooked them in preparation for the bbq. They had boxes of corn, potato salad and everything else a bbq should have.
By the end of the evening, they were all replete and relaxed. Suddenly from now where a massive cake arrived. Paul Eilea and the kids stood and walked toward it. The top said, “Welcome to the family!” and surrounding the words, a picture of Paul, Eilea, Christina and Andrew. Around that were pictures of various co-workers.
Eilea couldn’t help it, tears filled her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. She was too overcome with emotion to speak, but it seemed it wasn’t necessary for the joyous tears said it all.
Raising whatever glass they held, someone yelled, “Cheers!” followed by a loud and rowdy “hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray!”
Eilea and Paul crawled into bed just as the sun was coming up, tired, happy and elated. “Well, Eilea Martin, that was a pretty great day, don’t you think?”
“Other than my children’s births, I can’t think of any I’ve enjoyed with quite such heart-felt pleasure. Their acceptance means everything.”
“There’s one more day coming I hope will top this one.”
“Oh, and what would that be?” she asked speculatively.
“The day you walk down the aisle and say I do.” Pulling a box he’d hidden under the pillow into view, he opened it and said, “Not traditional I know, but fitting.”
“Eilea Martin, will you do me the great honour of marrying me?”
Eilea accepted the ring, slid it on her finger, stared in delight then placing both arms around his neck said, “Seeing you survived the most rigourous of clan plans, I’d say the answer is a resounding yes!” She kissed his lips, his eyes, his forhead and didn’t stop until he placed his hands on both side of her face.
“That’s the best yes I could have received. Shall we tell the kids tonight?”
“No, I think we should make that a separate celebration that is all about us our family.”
“Great idea. Now come here, I have another great idea.” Paul winked. He didn’t have to say anything more. They slid uner the sheets and sealed their promise to each other in the only way possible.
After spending 5 days in Hardy, Paul understood why visitors flocked to this location. It had everything. Serenity, solitude, beauty, activities in which to participate if desired. He overheard many say it was a diamond in the rough. In some ways, it was. He saw the diamond sparkle and shine.
He had several days of holiday left and though Eilea had to work, he was content to visit, sightsee and take in some fishing. He knew before long he’d have to return home. That meant planning on a future, a future together with Christina, Andrew and Eilea.
Christina and Andrew were eager and although they knew it meant leaving their friends behind, it wasn’t such a distance they couldn’t travel back on holidays and long weekends and they were ok with that. Hopefully, their positive attitude would remain. For Christina, it wasn’t a problem, she was finished school now, moving onto bigger and better things and she said as much as she’d be leaving for university anyway. The timing was right. She was half considering staying with Paul and attending a local college for awhile then moving on to UVIC. He agreed.
Andrew decided he liked the idea of starting over. Although he’d miss his friends, he could keep in touch online and in the games they played and he was pleased to see his mother happy, that was his bottom line.
Eilea was in two minds. On one hand, she wanted a chance with Paul. It meant giving up her job (one she loved) and hopefully finding another. Her kids seemed pleased with the idea and that was a great relief.
She was more than half in love with Paul already. Everything about him was appealing. She’d have to wrap her mind around his job which was dangerous and gave her second thoughts considering what they’d gone through, but on the other hand, it showed his grit, determination, as well as his dedication.
They’d spent every waking moment together and with each passing day, she found more to enjoy while he was open honest and she decided a rare jewel. After dark, sitting on the deck hand in hand enjoying a beverage watching the late sunset, she had to thank her lucky stars for giving her this opportunity. Even though they’d lived through more extraordinary circumstances than most, he’d come out on top – correction – they’d come out on top.
The court date for the trial was set and two months from now they’d be sitting in a courtroom determining a man’s fate – not just any man – a man who’d behaved abominably at best, fierce and threatening at worst.
Having come to know Paul’s friends and co-workers had also been eye-opening. They were a group of dedicated men and women she hoped to get to know better. There were a couple she’d grown close to and she was excited at the prospect of renewing a friendship with them both.
Owing to one critical error – a delusional miscreant and his unfounded, unwelcomed actions – she’d found a man worth knowing, and she’d taken a chance. The best decision of her life.
Arm in arm, they left the station a spring in their step lighthearted and free at last. Eilea breathed deeply filling her lungs with refreshing air and with unguarded enthusiasm, freedom and light. Poignant poetic heart-wrenchingly moving. It was a new beginning, a change for the better.
She turned and looked Paul in the eye. “New beginnings,” she with featherlight joy. Pulling him to a stop, she placed her hands on both sides of his face and kissed him tenderly, fervently, with a depth of emotion she’d refused to allow herself.
In doing so, she rocked him nearly off his feet. He stood stunned staring at her, a mixture of amazed delight in his eyes and on his face. Momentarily letting go of Christina’s hand he wrapped his arms tightly around Eilea. “Good things often arrive when least expected and in the most surprising of ways.”
Christina and Andrew shared knowing glances. Christina whispered, “They are both right, new beginnings, good things, surprising ways. It’s special, seeing mom happy, truly happy.”
“I know. Don’t think I’ve seen this degree of lighthearted happiness in her face in a long time. I know I fought it at first. Now I see it’s what she needs. ‘Sides, he’s a pretty good catch. He obviously cares. I was scared at first, afraid she’d be hurt. But he’s better than that. I’m glad he made it through the “clan plan”.”
“Yeah, he is,” Christina snorted, “He did, didn’t he?”
“So what’s next?” Christina asked loudly.
“Whatever we wish!”
“Well, we’ve taken in your place, why don’t you come to ours? We can do some hiking and show you what Hardy has to offer.”
Eilea seconded the emotion. “I think that’s a splendid idea. I have a few days holiday left and we can share our little corner of the world with you.”
They headed to Paul’s to pack and planned to be back in Hardy by nightfall. He was eager to see her nest, her home, everything about Eilea her surroundings and the family.
“Let’s go!” Andrew yelled, “I want to see this SOB face to face!” His face reflecting anger, his fists tightly balled he stomped toward the door.
“Not so fast, Andrew,” Paul admonished. “We want to take our time play this by the book. We don’t want him slithering away on a technicality.”
For the first time since he’d met Eilea and her family, true relief and jubilation were clearly evident. His own spirits soared too. Wrapping his arms around Eile and the kids he said, “Finally, an opportunity to freely behave and misbehave. I can’t wait to get this party started!” They laughed in unison.
“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Christina promised with a wink.
“I will say, I’m relieved I’ve been a part of all this. I’ve seen you under extremely difficult circumstances and now I want to enjoy your company free of stress and concern. I really need to applaud both your actions and control which have been admirable throughout! First-hand experience has shown me the opposite is often too.” He exchanged a deep heartfelt look of admiration at each one.
“Welcome to the whacky world of the Martin family.”
Paul couldn’t have wished to hear more welcome words. “Thanks, kiddo.”
To pass the time, they cleaned and straightened before eating dinner. An hour later Paul’s phone rang. They were welcome to come to the office before the prisoner was placed in custody.
“We’ll be there in 10!”
Walking in unison through the front door, they were taken down a hallway leading to the interrogation rooms containing one-way glass and they got their first glimpse of the pervert who’d created such havoc. Paul turned the speaker on so they could listen in.
“I want to see Eilea!” He continued yelling the same refrain over and over every few minutes while the officers in the room tilted back against the wall, feet and arms crossed. “You’ve caused Ms Martin her family and friends enough grief.”
Eilea looked at Paul. “I want to talk to him. I have something I need to say.”
Paul understood she needed to get her control back. Knocking on the adjoining door, she entered.
He jumped to his feet then slammed down into the chair as the cuffs would only allow a foot of movement. “Eilea, I knew you’d come that you’d tell these idiots it’s all a mistake!”
“Mistake? Hardly! Taking pictures of me, sending unwanted cards and letters, calling me throughout the night and at work, threatening my family my friends, harming my daughter? That is no mistake. It’s a choice! One you made and it is your last mistake involving me and anyone close to me! I’m here simply to put a face to the f@#$@# asshole whose caused my family grief, hardship and bodily injury. As far as I’m concerned, the penalty you’ll receive couldn’t be harsh enough!” She stopped short of spitting on him, something she desperately wanted to do. Instead, she turned walked through the door and slammed it behind her. She hard heard him call her name and smiling, grabbed Christina and Andrew’s hand to walk away, a spring in their steps, their heads held high.
“I would have punched his face in,” Andrew freely admitted. “It would have been worth it.”
“It’s a new day! We have our lives back and we’re free to do as we wish.” Eilea’s voice held jubilation.
“I’ll never take freedom for granted again,” Christina remarked. “I guess some things we take for granted until they’re gone.”
“It’s a lesson he’s about to learn, an ongoing lesson for the rest of his life.” Paul said with conviction.
“What sort of time will he get?” Andrew asked?
“Attempted murder (which is what we’re going for) is considered an indictable offence and will give him five years to imprisonment for life. Not only did he fire on civilians and your family in particular, but he fired on both off-duty and on duty cops, which the law severely frowns upon. He fired on officers in the precinct, at my house and on the boat. That’s three consecutive 10 to lifetime sentences. Even though there weren’t any subsequent injuries, there was absolutely no provocation. The maximum penalty for stalking is 10 years to life without parole and we’re going to fight for consecutive sentences back to back for each phone call and letter.”
“We’ve rounded up enough evidence at his place to secure a good long incarceration. Doubt he’ll see the light of day again. On top of which, he’ll never be allowed phone call priviledges or a computer.”
“How long before the case goes to trial?”
“Again we’re pushing this before a local judge who seriously frowns on stalkers, attempted cop-killers and attempted murder. It won’t take long and the court will inform you. It’s unlikely your testimony will even be required owing to the mountain of eye-witnesses and incriminating evidence which suggests he’s been following your family for three years.”
Stopping to take Paul in her arms, Eilea said, “Welcome to the family.”
Andrew slapped Paul on the back. “So your place or ours?”
Paul grinned broadly. “I guess that’s something we’ll have to discuss.”
“Much as I love Hardy, I gotta say your place comes fully loaded, with extras!” He couldn’t have held back his smirk if he’d tried.
Paul hurried from the room with his phone to his ear. The others exchanged knowing glances. Hopefully, it was good news. The waiting was excruciating. “I want to run after Paul and listen in, five seconds seems too long to wait,” Christina admitted.
“I’m with you,” Eilea agreed with a smile. “We could dog pile him.” That brought the laughter she’d hoped for.
“You first!” Andrew smirked. “We’ll backtrack out of the room.”
“What’s the fun in that?” Eilea asked. “He did say all for one and one for all. We could prove how true that is.”
Andrew grinned, “I’m game, I’d love to see the expression on his face when he saw us racing toward him.”
Paul entered the room and the hopeful look in his eyes spoke volumes. “Ok, good news at last. They’re closing in on him. He was spotted a few minutes ago making his way through some underbrush. He ditched a stolen vehicle which was printed and it’s definitely his get-a-way vehicle. He obviously saw the other cops surrounding his vehicle and he set out on foot. He won’t get far. It’s nearly over!”
The jubilation he’d expected didn’t come. “What?”
“We’ve been here before, just this close and we missed by a country mile. For once, I’ll wait until I know he’s in custody before I get carried away. I want to look him in the eye and tell him what a f@#$ up he is!” Eilea’s voice held conviction and vehemence.
“I’ll make sure you get the chance.” Paul rubbed her arms.
“So what do we do now, sit and wait or go out and have some fun?”
“I suggest fun! What’s everyone into doing?” Paul’s glance swept all three.
“I’m for lazing on the beach and sunbathing.”
“Sounds good to me,” Christina agreed.
“Sold! Let’s get ready.”
Upon reaching the beach they lazed, drank iced tea and relaxed for the first time in days. It felt so good.
Paul’s phone rang and immediately everyone stopped and looked toward him.
“They got him! He’s in the precinct now.” As if on cue they whooped and hollered drowning out what the Sarg. was saying. Paul laughed. “Yep, they heard.”
“I heard too, tell ’em to keep it down, will ya?” his Sarg growled half heartedly knowing only too well the relief they were feeling.
Their reprieve lasted two days. On the third day Paul received word they might have caught a break. After finishing the call, he sat them all down and explained. “Seems when one of the officers was moving your car, Eilea, he found a card that had lodged under the seat and well hidden. They were going to giving it a going over to ensure he hadn’t tampered with anything. As soon as the officer realized what it was, he took it into HQ and had an analysis run. We got DNA!”
Eilea half rose out of her chair, “OMG Paul, you mean this could be over?” she asked before sitting back down a hand at her throat.
“Not quite yet. We’re on the right track though. He apparently got mixed up in a squabble at a bar last night. When he tried to run, the cops were called and managed to get to the bar in double quick time. After spending a night in jail due to drunk and disorderly, they’d naturally taken a breathalyzer and his DNA popped up again with a flag so the officer tracked it back. It was the same guy. Unfortunately, he’d been released as his mother put up his bail. But we know who he is.” Sliding forward he held out a picture. “Take a look, ring any bells?”
“Omg, that’s a guy that kept coming into the Chamber of Commerce when I worked there. Every few days as a matter of fact. He’d recently moved to Hardy and wanted to know what sort of outdoor activities I could suggest, specifically any I’d personally recommend and done myself. Following protocol as I would with any visitor, I gave him the information. Every time he’d finished another on the list, he came back in to explain in detail how it had gone, who he’d met and to thank me personally for the helpful information. It became so awkward that as soon as he’d show up, one of the other women would either give me heads up or hand me a call to take so he couldn’t chat me up.”
“Makes sense. It was a one time contact and your helpful attitude was misconstrued by a whacko.”
“Who is he, where does he come from?”
Paul explained. His mother was an invalid and required semi-constant care. “He lives with her when he’s in Duncan, but has his own place in Hardy and traveled continuously between the two locations which ties letters from both locations as well as the timing…he’s our perp.” He went on to add he wouldn’t get out of this no matter how many lawyers he might have on hand since not only were the threats against Eilea enough, but he’d since attacked to officers and was in pit deep. The bomb threat alone meant he’d never see the light of day outside of prison walls for a hell of a long time!
Eilea didn’t know whether to be thrilled or shocked vacillating between the two emotions. “I’m torn,” she admitted, “on one hand it’s great that we have an identity and can tie him to all the crimes, but I’m still nervous, we haven’t caught him yet.”
“He’s boxed in now, Eilea. He can’t go home since we know where both locations are and what vehicles he has at his disposal. His mother was shocked and horrified to learn what he’s done. She’d been down that road and they moved to the island to get away from the same situation when she was a young woman. That’s also why it took so long to get DNA results. They’ve been living incognito since he was born. She’d not talked to family and friends since then and ended up making a good life, a happy life she called it, in Duncan. She’s also willing to help and call if he shows up. He might be her son, she said, but that didn’t excuse inexcusable behaviour. She’d like to meet you one day to apologize for her son.”
“That isn’t necessary, she isn’t responsible.”
“No, but she feels it deeply having had to run from the same thing herself. It’s something to consider at a later date.”
Eilea yanked Paul to his feet and hugged him. “Oh my god, this could be over – soon!”
Paul heard the pop and sound of shattering glass and yelled, “Down, everybody down!” as he threw his body across Eilea’s. His eyes quickly swept toward Christina and Andrew making sure they’d listened. Paul grabbed his phone, “Shots fired, shots fired. Heads up out there!”
Momentarily they heard a rush of feet alongside the house. “Paul, Paul, everybody ok in there?”
“Came through the front window, sniper rifle, has to be. Fan out, be careful, he nearly hit us so he’s got some ability with a gun.”