vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Pardon (31/32)
AUTHOR: vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 5,043
RATING: PG13 for this chapter
SUMMARY: Sometimes it's best to just get the hell out of Dodge. Set right after 'The Bitch Is Back'.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for the whole series, especially season 3.
WARNINGS: Cursing.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars. This story is written as a tribute only. Beta'd by zaftig_darling and jenilyn831. All remaining errors are my responsibility.


1~Precipitation 2~Precarious 3~Paranoia 4~Prevarication 5~Probation 6~Predicament 7~Paradox 8~Please 9~Perilous 10~Palpitation 11~Precipice 12~Perspiration 13~Peregrination 14~Pursuit 15~Plexus 16~Pier 17~Perception 18~Phantasm 19~Pendulum 20~Pyromania 21~Prognosis 22~Paternity 23~Premeditation 24~Paralysis 25~Panacea 26~Presentiment 27~Prevailing Winds 28~Pandemonium 29~Paradise 30~Possibilities

Click here to read a summary of the whole story from the beginning. And for just the last time on 'Precipitation': (Highlight to read ~OR~ click here to skip directly to the new chapter)

Veronica takes a tour of the security department at the casino and watches as a man is removed from the casino for cheating. Later, she and Logan see the man arguing with the assistant of Keith's wealthy employer, Richard Stellner, and Veronica leaps to the conclusion that something nefarious is going on. Keith notifies Stellner of Veronica's suspicions and a kidnapping plan is foiled. Stellner invites them to dinner to thank them.


Chapter 31: Pardon

Stellner asks, "So, who are you people really?" He nods to his security chief, who walks over. "Would you mind standing, Cal? Or whatever your name is."

Rafael produces an electronic wand and passes it over Dad's body. Dad says, "I'm not armed. I don't have any devices on me."

Stellner says, "Your companions as well, please."

Logan stands and he's scanned too, and then it's my turn. When I sit down, Logan puts his arm around my shoulders, and from the other side, Dad clasps my hand, squeezing it to reassure me.

Stellner's gaze is intense. "I'm very grateful that you discovered this plot to take my children. Melissa admitted that the kidnapping was in its final planning stages, and there's a good chance that someone would have been injured or killed, not to mention the large ransom they would have demanded from me.

"But it's clear to me and Rafael that you are no ordinary security guard. Your resume doesn't indicate that you have interrogation experience, yet you managed to get Melissa to tell her story. Last week, you disarmed an intruder and foiled a burglary attempt. And this woman," he indicates me, "an entry-level employee at the casino, alerted you to a conspiracy based on little more than observing a parking lot argument. She's quite a keen observer."

Stellner picks up his drink, delaying a little by shaking the ice and watching the liquid swirl around. He takes a healthy sip before replacing the drink on the table. "Well, Cal? Are you going to tell me what's going on?"

"My name is Keith Mars. This is my daughter Veronica and her friend Logan Echolls."

Stellner's forehead creases. The name 'Echolls' is familiar to him.

Dad continues, "Yes, that Echolls. I was formerly the sheriff of a town in California called Neptune. My daughter and I have both worked as private investigators for several years. There were ... circumstances that compelled us to flee town."

"Are you wanted by the police?"

"Yes."

"And do the charges have merit?"

"Some of them."

I interrupt, "That's not the whole story. There was a mobster—"

Dad says sternly, "Veronica. I'm telling this." He turns back to Stellner. "There was a valid concern that if we stayed and faced the charges against us that a man with a grudge against my daughter and her boyfriend might hurt them, especially if I was incarcerated and unable to protect them."

"And Dad's put away a lot of gang members while he was sheriff. He wouldn't be safe in prison."

Dad glares at me. "Veronica."

"It's true," I insist.

"Mr. Stellner, every day I wonder if I made the right choice in leaving. I'm a man who made upholding the law my life's work, and it's been very troubling to face the fact that I've committed a crime and fled the jurisdiction."

It's not fair that Dad's taking this on himself. I explain, "He broke the law to protect me from the consequences of something I did. This is all my fault."

"Veronica." Dad's hand tightens on my knee. "Enough."

"Stay here, Mr. Mars. I'd like to look up your case for myself." Stellner stands and walks back into the house.

In a low voice, Logan asks, "Should we try to leave? The boat's ready, we could haul anchor and be on the ocean in half an hour."

"I don't think Rafael is going to let us leave," I whisper.

So we sit in silence.

Seconds stretch to minutes, and then it's over an hour, worrying about what's going to happen. A few days ago, we had a light at the end of the tunnel. Is that still going to be an option? What if Stellner decides to just turn us in?

Now I know exactly how Logan felt when he performed CPR on that woman in Arkansas. It was the right thing to do, but it meant that he'd lost his freedom. I don't regret foiling the kidnapping plot, but it looks like we've lost everything again.

Stellner returns with a sheaf of papers. "Spoliation of evidence. Obstruction of justice." He nods at Logan. "Probation violation and a new battery charge. And a violent incident in El Dorado, Arkansas that led to charges of impersonating a police officer, felony escape, discharging a weapon, and car theft. But when I dug a little deeper, I found that Mr. Echolls saved a woman's life in El Dorado, and the violence aspect seemed a bit overstated.

"And Keith, I was impressed by your dogged investigation of the Lilly Kane case. I understand that Veronica had something to do with that investigation as well." He glances at Logan. "It seems quite ironic that you'd be on the run with the son of the man who clearly was responsible for that murder. Veronica, your name came up twice more, in connection with the Neptune bus bombing and serial rapists at Hearst College."

He takes a swig of his drink, forgotten on the table for the last hour as he researched. Stellner grimaces at the melted ice. Dumping the drink in a potted plant, he walks over the bar to make a new one. "Sure you won't have one?"

Dad says, "Yes, I think I will take a drink. Please, whatever you're having."

Logan says, "No thanks," and I shake my head 'no.'

Stellner makes two more drinks and gives one to Dad. "That complicated history makes more sense with the particular talents you've demonstrated. There's no way you're an ex-club bouncer who's done a little security work." Glancing at me, he adds, "And you're clearly an unusual young woman."

Stellner sighs and sits down again. "My feeling is that you are good people who have made mistakes. I think it was unfortunate that you didn't feel that you could stay in Neptune to face the charges. It would have been a slap on the wrist, if the charges weren't dropped altogether."

I open my mouth to protest, and Stellner puts up a hand. "After reading all that, if you tell me that someone threatened your family, I believe you. I don't know if I would have made the same choices you did, but I know that I would do anything to save my own family. Including going on the run if I thought there were no other options."

Dad nods. "Exactly."

"I'll keep your secret, and Rafael will as well. No one else will be informed as to your real identity."

Dad's nodding his head, apparently lost in thought. Seeming to come to a decision, he leans forward and looks at Stellner intently. "There's been a new wrinkle lately. An attorney we trust has gotten in touch and told us that Jake Kane, perhaps the wealthiest and most powerful person in Neptune, has arranged a pardon for us, if I am willing to take on the sheriff's job again."

"Lilly Kane's father?" Stellner asks sharply.

"Yes. The current sheriff's administration has been rife with crime and corruption, and some of the wealthy residents are upset with the consequences to their real estate holdings. Kane is heavily invested in Neptune real estate, and he has connections to the governor, so it is possible that he could be exploring a pardon for us and an interim appointment for me as sheriff. The city council will rubber stamp whatever Kane wants, and I'm betting that most Neptune residents are heartily sick of the current sheriff's incompetence."

"So what's the problem?"

Logan says derisively, "We don't trust Jake Kane. It's a trap."

"We have concerns about the veracity of the pardon offer," Dad explains. "Frankly, it seems too good to be true. As you say, the original charges would only merit a slap on the wrist, but the incident in Arkansas? Impersonating an officer and felony evasion carry lengthy prison terms. And this person who wants to hurt us ... well, he has a connection to Jake Kane. We're concerned that this is just a new facet of his vendetta."

Dad stares at his drink, seemingly fascinated by the clinking ice cubes. "I'm afraid Mr. Kane has not always been one hundred percent truthful in the past, and he hasn't been a fan of the Mars family for quite some time. Although—" He exhales sharply. "I could see Jake putting aside his anger at me and Veronica if it affected his bottom line. I really don't know what to think. We do trust the person who contacted us, and he seems convinced that it's a valid offer."

"What would ease your concerns?" Stellner asks.

"A face-to-face meeting," I reply. "If we could talk to Jake Kane in person ... but we'd have to go back to the U.S., and we'd be sitting ducks if he's planning something. Jake's a complicated man, but he's not a great liar. I'd like to hear him say the words before I agree to this deal."

Dad nods. "Kane's definitely not a good liar. I easily caught him out when he concealed the truth about discovering Lilly's body."

"What if I brought him to you?" Stellner suggests.

"Excuse me?" I ask.

Stellner stands up and paces. "You did me the favor of a lifetime last night. I owe you. What if I were to fly Jake Kane and your attorney friend down here, and you could speak to them without going back to the U.S.? And my attorney could advise you on the legal documents as well."

"Then they'd know where we are," Logan says. "No, it won't work."

"Yes, it will," Stellner insists. "My private plane will pick them up in Miami or New York. The pilot will fly around for several hours before heading here, and then you can meet them in the plane, in my personal hangar at the airport. They don't need to disembark, so they don't have to clear customs. The airport officials are used to my plane making deliveries from the States, and they won't question this flight either. All Kane will know is that he flew for a certain amount of time to an unknown location. And after you talk, I'll return them to the United States, none the wiser as to your whereabouts."

"We can't ask you to do that," Dad protests. "I don't want you to get involved with our problems."

"You didn't ask. I offered."

Logan mutters, "Can they be blindfolded during the flight? And they need to be swept for electronic devices. I wouldn't put it past Kane to sneak a GPS on board."

"If you think it's necessary."

"Jake Kane is a highly intelligent man," Dad says. "I think it might be necessary."

"Logan? Will that be okay?" I ask.

He stares at the floor, unwilling to answer.

I say softly, "It's just information. We'll know much more about what's going on if we can talk to Jake face-to-face. It's not a binding decision. No one's forcing you to agree to anything."

Dad says, "Logan, this is a very generous offer that we would be crazy to decline."

"Right," he says. "Crazy. Sure. Go for it."

*****

The last two weeks have been completely nerve-wracking. Dad worked with Stellner, going over every detail of the plan to bring Jake Kane and Cliff McCormack to the DR. Stellner's attorney hired a New York City lawyer to make contact with Jake; the New York lawyer doesn't know anything except that Kane will be picked up by private plane from LaGuardia Airport. The negotiations are anything but smooth, but finally Jake agrees to fly to New York, along with Cliff, to be taken to an undisclosed location to meet with us.

Mindful of Logan's worries, I spend every free moment going through the hard drive one last time. The pledges are still depressingly sociopathic, but I don't find anything new.

Logan works on the boat. He's clearly prepared to drop everything and run when things inevitably go wrong. His quiet stoicism about our plan is freaking me out. I try to reassure him that his concerns will be addressed, or we won't go back.

And the day finally arrives, and Stellner's driver picks us up in a limo and takes us to the airport.

*****

We enter Stellner's private jet, and Jake and Cliff are ensconced in two club chairs, wearing blindfolds and listening to music on iPods. The interior of the jet looks more like a luxury corporate boardroom than a 747, leather chairs surrounding an oak table with a flatscreen TV and a bar off to the side.

I'm wearing a wig that approximates my normal coloring and hairstyle—there's no sense in displaying my current disguise. At first Logan refused to wear a wig, saying he wasn't about to shave his blond beard for this travesty, but I convinced him that we could temporarily dye his beard to match, so he looks quite a bit like the old Logan. Dad donned a ball cap and wig to conceal his shaved head and dyed his salt-and-pepper beard as well. Makeup for all of us, to downplay our tans, and we wear sweaters and pants more appropriate to a winter climate rather than the Caribbean. We've been using our current disguises for long enough that it's weird to see our normal hair color again, and even weirder to see these two men who played such important roles in our lives before we fled Neptune.

I feel completely tentative. Anything could happen here, and that's not a good feeling.

Dad checks that the sliding window covers are completely closed, and then removes the headphones on the two men. "You can remove the blindfolds now."

When Cliff removes his blindfold, he smiles broadly to see us, extending a hand to shake with Dad. "It's really good to see you." He cocks his head, examining our appearance. "Life on the run seems to suit you."

Beneath Jake's quiet exterior is a man seething with resentment. He's not happy to be here. When he speaks, he uses a controlled voice. "Keith, this was all very elaborate. I was not aware that you had any friends with private jets."

I snipe, "There's a lot you don't know about us."

Dad touches my arm. "Veronica." He turns to Jake. "We understand you have a proposition for us. We'd like to hear the terms and we'll need an explanation of how you plan to achieve pardons for us."

"I'm certainly not going to press charges regarding the theft of my hard drive. And I won't be allowing the D.A. access to that sensitive information. I've told them that this was a prank pulled by my daughter's best friend that went awry, and I've apologized for mistakenly filing charges."

Cliff adds, "So spoliation and obstruction go away. Veronica's burglary charge disappears."

Jake continues, "I believe that something happened to Gorya and he is not available to press battery charges against Logan. Would you know anything about that?"

"Not a thing," Dad says smoothly.

"We've located some 'witnesses,'" Cliff says, with air quotes, "who will testify that Gorya Sorokin attacked Logan in the cafeteria and Logan was merely defending himself. Without Gorya's testimony, that battery charge won't proceed. And Jake has asked Logan's probation officer to backdate paperwork saying that he been given permission to leave the jurisdiction. He'll schedule a new report date for termination of probation once you've returned to Neptune."

"That's all very nice. What about the charges that we incurred in Arkansas?"

Jake laughs without humor. "What the hell were you thinking? You'd gotten away cleanly."

Logan says flatly, "I was thinking I couldn't let that woman die."

Jake shakes his head in bewilderment.

Cliff clears his throat. "I believe that Mr. Kane knows the governor of Arkansas. He's a fellow member of something Mr. Kane referred to as a college fraternity organization."

I huff a laugh. "The Arkansas governor is in The Castle? Of course he is. What's his name?"

"Governor Bob Wilkins," Jake replies through gritted teeth.

"College cheating scandal," Logan comments. "Never would have made it into Yale Law without help."

Jake is really fuming now. It's offensive to him that we were somehow able to break the encryption on his device, and even worse, appear to be completely familiar with its contents. He glares at me. "You've caused a lot of trouble for me. Everyone in The Castle is insisting that I somehow fix this. There was a great deal of privileged information on that drive. I'm going to need your word that you'll forget everything you know about The Castle if we're going to proceed."

My voice is scornful. "Aw. Poor widdle Jake. All your psycho fraternity buds are mad at you."

Cliff interrupts, "Let's stay on track here. I've got an agreement with the El Dorado D.A.'s office for immunity from prosecution in regards to those charges." He passes a sheet of paper to Dad. "You might want to thank Mr. Kane. I don't believe it was easy to arrange this deal. Those, ahem, fraternity friends of Mr. Kane made all this possible. I think the Arkansas governor put pressure on the El Dorado District Attorney to cooperate in this matter."

Dad nods. "Thank you, Jake. I hope we can help each other." He scans the document while I read over his shoulder. "This says immunity was granted in exchange for essential information in an ongoing investigation." He glances at me. "I think it's all right."

"Yeah, I do too." I look at Logan, who shrugs.

Dad says, "I want to see all the paperwork. We have another attorney here who's going to look through it for us."

Cliff pulls out more documents from his briefcase and hands them to Dad, who walks out of the plane to give them to Stellner's lawyer.

It's silent in the plane while we wait for Dad to return. Jake stares at me and I realize that he absolutely hates me.

Stop wasting time and get on with it.

Mr. Kane?! Please help me!

Gorya, you know what you have to do.

I'm trembling, with my knee jumping involuntarily and my armpits flooded with sweat. I can't not say it. I need to know. "Mr. Kane? You thought I was your daughter. Didn't you ever ... would you have loved me if the paternity test had gone the other way? I was your daughter's best friend. How could you—" A single tear rolls down my cheek, and Logan hugs my shoulders.

Jake looks embarrassed. Embarrassed for me. Not by me. "Veronica, when you get a little older, you'll understand that life is much more complicated than an accident of DNA. This was all settled years ago."

I gasp. "An accident of DNA? Did you ever love my mother? I don't understand what she saw in you. And I don't understand why you have always hated me. I might have been your daughter!"

"I'm trying to help you now, Veronica."

Dad reenters the cabin in time to hear Jake's remark. "No, Jake. You're trying to help yourself. Your real estate holdings have tanked, and you can't find another sucker to clean up Vinnie Van Lowe's mess."

Jake sniffs. "Yes, that's exactly right. You've shown that you're not afraid of the Mexican bikers or Liam Fitzpatrick, so you're perfect for the job."

With a shaky voice, I ask, "How are you going to guarantee Dad's safety? You're putting him on the firing line." Jake's cold words are pushing me over to Logan's point of view, and suddenly I'm ready to just board Panacea and sail around the world, forgetting about the hellhole called Neptune, California.

"I'm giving you an opportunity for a fresh start. It's not going to be risk-free after what you've done."

Logan shouts, "After what we've done? You covered up evidence in your daughter's murder. You sent your son away rather than acknowledge your grandchild. You allied with a Russian mobster. God knows what you pricks in The Castle have done over the years. How many governments have you overthrown? How many federal contracts were diverted to Castle members? Half of you should be in prison, and the rest should be in a mental institution."

Jake turns to Cliff. "I was afraid this would happen."

Dad puts up a hand. "Just calm down. Everyone." He glares at Logan.

Logan's voice is strained. "Did you have my father killed?"

"Logan, no!" I grab his arm, but he pulls away.

"I'm not going to dignify that with an answer," Jake replies coldly. "Your father was a bastard—a child-rapist and a murderer."

"Acknowledged," Logan says. "Did you kill him?"

Jake's jaw is clenched tightly. "I had nothing to do with Aaron Echolls' death, but I'm glad he's no longer in this world."

"Yeah, me too," Logan mutters.

I stare at Jake. "Did you send people to murder us after we left Neptune?" I'm careful not to say Chicago.

"What? Murder you? I didn't need to murder you, you were racking up serious prison time all on your own. Once I'd gotten the hard drive back, you weren't a significant threat to me."

"You sure about that? What about Gory? Did he try to track us down?"

Jake looks puzzled. "He was incensed when I told him you were the sheriff's daughter and that you were the one who solved Lilly's murder. I warned him that you were nosy and too smart for your own good."

I flinch at the characterization.

Jake says, "I told Gorya he'd better forget about you and he didn't bring it up again. And then he disappeared, and by then it was apparent that you weren't going to try to use the information on the hard drive to blackmail me."

"Too many crooked judges and powerful lawmakers in The Castle," Dad observes. "It almost seems pointless to try to tell the world when confronted by such a formidable foe."

Jake sniffs. "You're incredibly naive. The Castle gets things done. You need people who are willing to get their hands dirty to get anything accomplished in this world."

"And you've got the dirt to keep everyone in line," I retort. "Good job."

"I don't need to listen to this idealistic nonsense. Get me back to New York, please."

We all stare at each other in seething silence. Cliff clears his throat and says, "Let's focus on the future. Keith, I'm certain this is the best deal you'll ever get. Jake is asking for a two-year commitment on the Neptune's sheriff's position, and your continued silence about the contents of his hard drive."

Dad drums his fingers on the table. "How are you going to get rid of Vinnie and put me back in office?"

"The town council is going to get Vinnie to resign. We've got a videotape of him accepting a bribe from Liam Fitzpatrick. Ironclad evidence—if he doesn't step down and agree to testify against Fitzpatrick, they'll both end up in federal prison. In an emergency session, the town council will declare a state of emergency and install you as interim sheriff. As they did after Sheriff Lamb died."

"And then what happens when you hold a special election? Dad gets booted out again?" I ask.

"We're going to make sure that you run unopposed. Believe me, this is a lock."

I have no doubt that Jake has the power to make this happen. It's nauseating to contemplate that the electoral process is so flimsy and malleable.

Dad says, "What about budget? Based on what I've read, Neptune is in serious trouble. You'll need to double the police force and get federal help. And I'll need a cooperative district attorney's office, not enemies who'll resent me for covering up my daughter's misdeeds."

"The D.A. is extremely eager for you to resume your position. And the budget and federal help is already in the works. If you turn down this deal, I'll begin scouring the country for another candidate."

I think, but you'd rather have Dad, a sheriff you think you can control.

Jake adds, "Don't forget. You have something to hold over me in return—everything you know about The Castle. I think I'm being more than fair."

We hear a knock on the door. Dad walks out of the plane again and returns a few moments later. "Jake, the three of us are going to talk this over with our attorney. We're going to give your proposal serious consideration. I'll have some sandwiches and coffee delivered to you while we talk."

Jake says stiffly, "It's not like I can go anywhere until you decide to return me to New York."

Cliff says, "Keith, I hope you decide to take the offer. We miss you in Neptune. And the town needs you."

*****

In the hangar's office, we go through the documents one by one. Stellner's lawyer explains a few things, but for the most part the legalese is straightforward. It seems like a good deal.

Dad sighs and leans back in his chair. "Kane's desperate."

"I guess if he has billions tied up in real estate, he could lose everything," I comment.

"It's not just his investments. He's probably losing employees at Kane Software. People don't want to live in a town infested with gangs and drug lords," Dad muses.

I turn to Logan. "What do you think? You seemed pretty angry at him."

"And you didn't?" He shrugs. "I don't like him. I don't like The Castle, and the whole deal is pretty disgusting. Money trumps justice once again. Which probably seems pretty hypocritical for someone who grew up rich and privileged like I did. And of course I paid my way out of that mayhem charge for busting up a police car. But I guess it's a good deal. Whatever you guys decide."

I grab his arm and make him look at me. "No. Not 'whatever you guys decide.' What do you want to do?"

"I don't really want to go back, but I understand why we should take this deal." He sounds defeated. There's no enthusiasm for a triumphant return to 90909.

Dad says, "Logan, it'll be all right. You can reinvent yourself when we get home. Teach surfing and sailing in Neptune if you want. You accomplished a lot while we've been running—you can do whatever you want with your life."

"Right. I understand that we need to resolve our legal problems. I'd really like to complete my probation and get on with my life. You know, on the straight and narrow." There's just a hint of sarcastic Logan at the end. "And I know Veronica really wants to go back to college."

"I do. And although I'm sure that Neptune won't fully appreciate what my dad's going to do for them, I want him to get back to the job he loves."

Dad says, "It's not going to be the job I love for a long, long time. It's going to be hard work for at least a year. I'll need to wear a bulletproof vest 24/7, and I'm really going to have to be on my toes."

He's downplaying it, but I hear the underlying excitement. My dad is proud that they've come to him to solve their difficult problem. He's eager to be within the law, enforcing it rather than breaking it. And although the danger of the sheriff's job at this point is no laughing matter, I'm relieved that he'll no longer pay the price for my mistakes.

"Let's do it," I say, and they nod their agreement.

Relief settles on me like a blanket.

*****

Dad and I are waiting at Dad's soon-to-be-ex-apartment for Logan, who volunteered to sail Panacea to a storage facility in Luperón. In a few weeks, when things settle down a bit and all our legal wrangling is complete, we'll fly down and arrange for the boat to be sold, or delivered to us in California. Stellner's jet will fly us to Miami, where we'll catch a commercial flight to San Diego. In the meantime, Dad and I pack up all our belongings to be shipped to Neptune. The limo is due to arrive in about twenty minutes.

Logan's late, overdue by over an hour. I remember waiting for Dad in Chapel Hill, minutes stretching to hours, and overwhelming panic that he'd been captured. "Something's wrong," I say for the hundredth time. "We're going to be late. We'll miss the connecting flight to San Diego."

"Don't worry, honey. You know how things are here. He probably had to pay another bribe to a dockmaster, or settle some fee."

"I know something's wrong," I insist.

And then someone knocks on the door. I go to the door and listen—no code words. "Who's there?"

An unfamiliar voice says, "¿Senorita? Tengo un mensaje."

Dad steps behind the door and draws his gun. We may have signed paperwork promising to return to Neptune, but we're not safe yet. I open the door a crack and see a teenager extending an envelope to me. I fumble in my purse and give him 500 Dominican pesos, about ten dollars. He smiles broadly. "Gracias."

I tear open the envelope.
"Veronica,

I'm sorry to be such a coward about this, but I can't face you. I can't bear to see you hurting.

I can't go back to Neptune. I don't like myself there. And I'm afraid I'll never be enough for you, unless I'm all you've got. Unless I'm your only choice. It's not that I can't change, it's that the world won't let me change. Paparazzi and crazed fans will never let me forget that I'm the demon spawn of Aaron Echolls.

I'll already be out on the ocean by the time you read this. Don't worry about me. I won't take crazy chances, and I'll watch the weather. You won't be able to find me, so please don't try. Although if anybody could ... no, scratch that. Please don't look for me.

I'll always remember you and love you. You're beautiful and smart and courageous—I'll never forget how you climbed the mast and saved us. You deserve a wonderful life, a better life than you'd have with me. Good luck always.

All my love,

Randy"
I sag against Dad, weeping inconsolably.

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