Rick and Lise were discussing the previous evening when they walked into the kitchen. As they entered, Rick’s teasing of Lise stopped in mid-sentence, as he saw the Mountie on the floor, and a woman he thought long dead standing next to the stove looking at her husband and her remaining son. At the same time, both Rick and Cooper uttered the same question. “Teresa?”
Teresa shifted her gaze, and responded “Rick. And the lovely Major Phillips. You have no idea how much I tried to get Cooper to sit down with a psychiatrist. I guess I should have just hired a pretty one to seduce him.” And with that barb, Teresa shifted her gaze back to Cooper and asked “What? No kiss for your long-lost wife? Or is the shock too great for you?”
Cooper’s mouth opened, shut, and then opened again. He barely asked “How?” when Jake got up from the table and bolted to Lise, burying his head on her shoulder and hugging her for dear life. Rick, sensing what his friend would ask if he were thinking clearly, stepped in front of Lise and Jake, putting himself between Teresa and the two of them. Teresa turned to Rick again and said “I caution you against making any sudden moves, Rick. I’m a great deal more…skilled than the last time you saw me.”
Rick looked to the Mountie on the floor, unable to tell if he was unconscious or dead, and said “Clearly. What brings you back from the dead, and into our company?” he drawled.
“I had to see if the rumors were true, and my husband was still alive. I thought he died in the woods years ago, along with you. I was wrong about both of you. And I heard his intended was quite attractive, but the stories don’t do you justice, Major.”
“I thought you were dead.” Cooper said to Teresa, in an almost whisper. Teresa turned to Cooper and said “You were meant to. It was my lover’s idea. It allowed me to get away from you. And then I was trained by some of his best men. Shortly after I completed that training, word had come that you had been killed at that cabin in the Cascades, and my lover’s wife had an unfortunate…accident. Tragic, actually, but it allowed the two of us to marry, and he went on to have a very successful career. He’s a major-general now, and sometimes forgets that he wants me to be resourceful. When I read the reports on you, I started to feel nostalgic. I decided that I needed to come see you…and Jake, and try to convince you to come home. I can make that happen.”
Cooper didn’t say a word. His face spoke a thousand words about the emotions swirling inside him and competing for dominance over his spirit. Lise watched, seeing him reveal a vulnerability that she had only previously guessed at, and feeling disappointed that she hadn’t connected with him as deeply as this phantom had, and couldn’t conjure a similar reaction in such a short period of time.
Cooper bowed his head, putting his right hand to his forehead before pushing it back through his hair. He sighed, and said “Teresa…”, but the sound of thunder and a rain of glass and debris prevented him from finishing the statement. As the blackness swallowed him, he felt only relief as he saw Rick push Jake and Lise towards the Mounties running down the hall towards the newly destroyed kitchen.