the little stranger chapter 2

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War Child
Dec 2, 2003
Jake returned to England at the end of the week, bringing Caroline’s body back with him, so he could arrange a small private funeral for her, surrounded by his family and friends.
Word had got out by this time, and he found himself bombarded with the press wanting to know what had happened to his wife.

Maurice had made an official press statement for him, confirming that Caroline had died under very tragic circumstances, and that Jake would really appreciate it, if the Media and the public would give him a chance to grieve and bury his wife in peace at this sad time.

Of course, that didn’t really stop the tabloids speculating about what had happened, but at least for now, they were taking the sympathetic line for Jake’s predicament.

Once his fans learned of what happened, outside the security gates of his home became littered and overcrowded with flowers and cards and notes of sympathy, which Jake found very touching. He appreciated that they were thinking of him, and that they were supporting him through this tough time.

He was also glad to be back in England just to be surrounded by his close friends and family again

His older sister Fiona, and his personal assistant Maggie Weston, had immediately taken charge of the new addition of the family.

And little Ellie found herself fussed over and adored more than she had ever been, not only by these two women but also Fiona’s two young children, Dana aged nine, who was delighted she now had a new cousin, and her little brother Brad, who was two years younger, and was finding the new baby a fascinating novelty.

Fiona, who was already six months pregnant, with her third child was already feeling all clucky, and feeling sorry for the ‘poor little mite’ who had just lost her mother, and was quite happy to care for her new niece Ellie, whilst her brother Jake tried to get through the forthcoming funeral.

She was already trying to sort one of his spare bedrooms into a nursery and deciding on buying cots and prams, and all the paraphernalia that came along with young babies.
Jake let her get on with it, after all women knew better about these things than he would. He was just relieved that sort of responsibility was taken of his shoulders for now because he didn‘t have a clue.

The funeral would be held in another two days' time. He was just sorting out the last of the arrangements, and going over them with his personal assistant, Maggie, who he discovered was a real treasure to him in her efficiency to get things done. One of the reasons she had become his close confidante these last few years.

She was in her late thirties, almost ten years older than Jake, she was married with a young teenage son, her husband worked as a banker, she was one of the lucky few who managed to juggle her career, marriage and motherhood with success.

Jake had great admiration for her, she had helped support him when Caroline had just disappeared out of his life, and now she was there again helping him deal with this latest crisis.

They sat in his lounge, and she was going over the list of guests of family and friends who would be attending the funeral. But she noticed that there were some names not on the list, recalling Caroline’s parents. She thought that perhaps they had slipped Jake’s mind, so now decided to remind him.

“What about Caroline’s parents, Mr and Mrs McCann, shouldn’t they be down on the list?”
“No,” was Jakes immediate reply, his expression grim, “They won’t be there”

Maggie was a little taken aback, but then she assumed that Jakes grimness was perhaps down to the fact that Caroline’s parents were not intending to turn up, “Oh, can’t they make it? I thought they would want to be there. I know she didn’t have very much to do with them, but it is their daughter’s funeral. Surely, they can let bygones be bygones.

Perhaps if I got in touch with them and had a word” she then suggested helpfully

“No!” Jake replied sharply, making Maggie’s eyebrows raise a little questioningly at him
“You don’t have to do that” he then said in a calmer voice realising how sharply he spoke.

Maggie was unaware of what had happened to Caroline at the hands of her parents. Caroline had made him promise not to say to anything about it to anyone, and up he had kept that promise. So, he could understand his personal assistant’s bewilderment. But he wasn’t ready to talk about his reason yet, it was still too raw.

“Just Leave Caroline’s parents to me, I will deal with them” he then informed her a little cryptically.

“I understand, you’re the boss.” Maggie replied, knowing there were times she just had to mind her own business. And she now tactfully moved on, going back to the list of names she had in front of her checking they met with his approval.

Jake was just relieved that Maggie had decided not to press him any further on the matter. But she had reminded him, that whether he liked it or not, he had to speak with Caroline’s parents, sooner rather than later.

Jake stood at the white front door of the McCann’s semi-detached house the following day. Glancing a little furtively around him through his dark glasses, hoping no one would recognise him.

He found it odd, as he stood in this nice respectable suburban area, where Caroline’s parents lived, that they were also classed as a nice respectable hardworking couple. But Jake knew that behind façade a much darker ugly secret lurked.

He would have liked to shout it out to the world exactly what had gone on in this house and expose Caroline’s parents for the frauds they were.

Even the thought of having to face the couple now, after what he had learned about them was something repugnant to him, but it was something he needed to finally bring some closure for Caroline, after all she could no longer do it herself.

Then there was his daughter Ellie to think of, and he was filled with a need to protect her. It had been another reason why he had forced himself to face Caroline’s parents today.

He had phoned them up and curtly informed them he was coming, so they were expecting him. But he had a feeling they were not going to like what he had to say to them.

There were times, after Caroline had told him about the abuse she had suffered, he had gone over in his head many times how he would confront them, if he ever had the chance. Now he was finally going to be able to put it into practice.

The door was finally opened by Caroline’s mother Angela who managed to force a small smile on her thin lips, as she stood aside to let him enter

She was a thin woman with greying permed hair and a pinched haughty expression, as if she considered herself better than those around her. Jake was just glad, that even before he knew what had happened with Caroline, he had very little contact with her parents

John McCann was sitting in the armchair in the living room reading a paper, but he put it down as Jake came in, and now stood up, not exactly looking overly pleased to see him
He was a stout man with a mop of white hair, and obviously like his wife seemed full of his own self-importance and the atmosphere in the small neat and tidy living room was a little tense to say the least.

“Well, I guess it nice of you to finally show up” John McCann addressed Jake a little caustically

“As Caroline’s parents it would have been the proper thing for you to get in contact with us right away, and to tell us about what had happened to her, instead of leaving us to find out through the newspapers, about our daughter’s death. I guess because you are a big rock star now, you don‘t see fit to consult us?” he finished with a slight sneer which immediately got Jakes back up even further.

“Perhaps I should have been in touch with you sooner,” he admitted tightly, “But I was occupied bringing your dead daughter’s body back from the States, that was my first concern, and quite frankly your feelings never really crossed my mind on the matter, as I was quite aware when Caroline left here all those years ago. She made it abundantly clear she wanted nothing to do with you… and who could blame her?” he finished pointedly.

John McCann’s narrowed, “And what is that supposed to mean?”

“I think you know exactly what it means” Jake replied tersely

“You were the one who took her away, and helped introduce her into the world of drugs and drink, I mean everyone knows what kind of debauched lives you so-called musicians live, I tried to bring her up the right way,” John McCann stated

Jake couldn’t believe his ears, as he looked at John McCann’s pompous face with a look of incredulity.

“You are a piece of work do you know that,” he retorted “Sitting there, judging my actions, trying to put the blame onto me, when everyone in this rooms knows exactly why Caroline turned out the way she did. She was damaged, way long before I was involved with her, and the reason she became reliant on drugs, was because she couldn’t cope with what you did to her.”

Jake got some satisfaction of seeing both their faces suddenly look uneasy as they exchanged glances with each other.

“Yes, you see Caroline told me everything. I know all about what happened under this roof, and what kind of a sick perverted man you really are, and don‘t even try and pretend you don‘t know what I am talking about,” Jake warned

John McCann’s face had become rather pale, and his wife suddenly looked a little stricken by this statement

“Neither of you are fit to be parents,” Jake then said, making his disgust now obvious
“Y-You can’t heed whatever my daughter said, she was a junkie full of drugs, and always causing trouble, who is going to believe anything she claimed,” John McCann blustered, recovering enough, to try and defend himself.

Jake found it sickening how pathetically quick the man’s self-preservation had kicked in, that he was badmouthing his dead daughter already.

“Well I believed her, because I saw it in her eyes every day how it tortured and haunted her,” he replied, “And others would believe me too. You should be grateful that she made me promise not to tell anyone. It was for her sake alone I have kept quiet about it, because she couldn’t deal with the shame and the humility of anyone knowing what happened to her. It was the same shame she could never live with, that caused her death in the end, not the drugs”

“You have no right to come in here and speak like this to us, saying all these terrible things, especially now at this awful time,” Angela McCann now spoke up her voice high pitch with upset anger

“As her husband, and the person who witnessed what she went through because of you, I have every right,” Jake returned angrily, “If you want to be angry at anyone, be angry at your husband who abused your daughter, instead of putting the blame on her, by telling her she was a wicked child who would burn in hell, if she told anyone the truth. You are as much to blame for her death as he is!” Jake glared at her

Angela McCann opened and closed her mouth, but no words came out, because suddenly she was faced with the fact, she could not defend her actions in front of Jake, no matter what. Instead her face became more pinched than usual, as tears welled up in her eyes. If it was regret for what she had done to her daughter, or just because she was upset that they had at long last been found out and were now faced with what they had done, he wasn’t sure.

Jake now forced himself to calm down. He did not want to get into an undignified slanging match with them, “The only reason I came here today, was to inform you that you will not be welcome at Caroline’s funeral. I don’t want you showing up with your hypocritical grief, pretending that she mattered to you”

“You can’t do that,” John McCann protested indignantly, whilst his wife sat openly crying, but Jake had no sympathy for either of them.

“Yes, I can,” Jake stated firmly, “Caroline is gone now, you can’t hurt her anymore. But what I know, could hurt you very badly, if it got out” he then pointed out meaningfully
“You wouldn’t dare!” John McCann then challenged

“Oh yes I would, if it came down to it. So, don’t push me” Jake informed him coldly
“You will stay away from the funeral, also you will have no contact with me whatsoever, or my daughter. As far as she is concerned, she will grow up believing you two are dead, understand?” he eyed them expectantly, “If you ever try to get involved with me or her, I will go to the newspapers and tell them the whole sordid story about what you did to Caroline” he reiterated threateningly

They knew they had no other choice but to go along with it. Jake watched as John McCann’s shoulders sagged, all the fight and defiance going out of him now. It seemed the confrontation was over and the man had decided to sensibly stand down, much to Jake‘s relief.

“I think you had better leave now,” John McCann told him icily his expression hardening whilst his wife continued to weep quietly.

“Believe me, I don’t want to stay here any longer than I need to. And now I have made my position clear, and we all know where we stand. I have no intentions of hanging around,” Jake replied, “Don’t worry, I will see myself out.” he then said as he turned to leave.

Sitting in his car five minutes later, Jake found the adrenaline rush of anger, after confronting Caroline’s parents, was now starting to subside. He hadn’t trusted himself to start up the car in his frame of mind. He had been shaken after the confrontation, and he was now trying to calm himself down.

In truth, he wasn’t sure whether he could carry out his threat to go to the press and expose John McCann, if it came down to it. But that they believed it was enough for now.

Facing them and letting them know he knew what had happened, had been a cathartic experience for him. It was just sad that it had taken Caroline’s death to make it happen.
He closed his eyes, then let out a deep breath, feeling his emotions get the better of him again, seeing a vision of Caroline’s face swim before him

“It's going to be ok, Caro,” he murmured, “Hopefully this means you can rest in peace now.”
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