Chapter Forty-Nine

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"Pull over".

Tucker pressed down on the accelerator further.

"I said, pull over," Hannah screamed.

The car came to a screeching halt; Hannah fumbled with the handle and then flung open the door, throwing herself out onto the pavement. Bent over, she gasped for air and swayed as the dizziness she was experiencing threated to knock her off balance.

Parked on an unlit road, surrounded by factories and industrial units, the engine of the car ticked over, as it began to drizzle; tiny beads of moisture twinkling in the headlight beams.

"Get in the car, Hannah."

"No."

"Get in the car and I'll take you home."

"Please, Tucker. Just give me a minute."

"We don't have a minute, Hannah."

Hannah ignored his request, concentrating solely on remaining upright. Her hair hung limply around her face and the coolness of night, that had been such a welcome relief after the stifling air of the car, now caused her to violently shiver. Tucker got out of the car and approached slowly.

"Hannah, I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. It's not your fault."

Hannah said nothing.

"Anne knew what she was getting involved in, what the risks were and yet she continued. It wasn't ever going to end well was it?"

"Not my fault!" She stood up and laughed a little. "Everyone I come into contact with ends up dead or in danger. How many more lives will be lost because of me? No, Tucker, I'm not getting back in the car and I'm not going anywhere with you anymore."

"Hannah, don't be so stupid. I'm not leaving you here and you certainly don't get away from me that easily."

"Tucker, you just don't understand do you? This has all gone too far; I've no choice but to see it through to the very end, no matter what. But I won't risk losing you in the process. Now go home." Hannah walked off in the direction they had been heading, willing Tucker not to follow.

"Do you know, Hannah," Tucker shouted, "Sometimes you can be a selfish cow."

Stung, by the verbal slap from Tucker she spun round, squinting in the glare of the lights.

"You aren't the only one to have suffered in all of this, Hannah. Eastman and Holland did the same thing to me as they did to you. Except I haven't been quite as lucky as you, have I? I didn't get a nice, loving home with two parents who wanted me. I don't know why my family adopted me, because they sure as hell didn't love me. Do you have any idea what it's like to be beaten on a daily basis? To be treated like a slave and told to be grateful. My dad told me whenever he could that my real parents didn't love me and that they gave me up as soon as they found out how useless I was. I was a punch bag for nearly seventeen years, Hannah, and then one day someone turns up at our door and tells me I shouldn't have ever been there. Then I'm moved back to my real folks only to find it isn't quite the reunion I was hoping for. My real Mum and Dad telling me that although they feel a little guilty for giving me up in the first place, they now have a nice little family and I am surplus to requirements. There's been no tearful reunion, no outstretched arms for me. If it wasn't for Briggs insisting, they wouldn't have had me back in their house. And as for this damn thing," he said kicking out at the car door; well this is just a way of getting me out of the house and away from them. So you see Hannah, no one loved me and they still don't. And the kicker is, even after all of this, even as a Perfect, I'm not perfect enough. Hannah, you win; the loving adoptive birth parents, the loving birth mother, and now you're the perfect one, the chosen one." Tucker shook his head gently and in a calmer tone said, "So the next time you think this is all about you and that you're the only one who needs to get even, think again."

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