Disclaimer: The characters are mine and it is a work of fiction and a product of my imagination. No infringement is intended or implied.

Violence/Hurt/Comfort: It's there although not graphic.

Just a short story I've had in my mind for a while while working on another story with Bryg and Tress. If you've read my other stories, you know that everything works out in the end. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated at Irishred1855@cs.com.

Live well, laugh often, love much and every day don't forget to smile, hold hands, give someone a hug or just a friendly pat on the back, for with just one small gesture you can change a person's life.



Copyright January, 2004

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.

Patty Montgomery cursed softly under her breath as she pulled a hot sheet of Christmas cookies from the oven. This was her sixth batch of the day and she was tired. Her children were all running around doing their various Christmas activities so she was alone in their Santa Barbara house. She glanced around and as many times as she wished for peace and quiet from her five children, the ones she still had at home, and suddenly realized she missed them. She sighed wistfully sending a silent prayer to her husband. He had died five years ago in a drunk driving accident. They had been out for the evening and a drunk driver had crossed the line of the two lane highway hitting them head on. Her husband of twenty-five years was killed instantly and she was in the hospital for a week before a round of intensive physical therapy. Her back still hurt at times when under stress, like today, with all the bending over and preparations for Christmas, so reminded herself to take an Anaprox before bed.

The kids helped out a lot but sometimes her priorities like cleaning and their priorities like playing video games and being with friends were very different. Her kids, she thought, and it filled her with love. Nick was 18 and graduating next year, Laurie was 16 and had just passed her driving test. It had been a major disagreement on whether she’d allow Laurie to drive to the mall with her friends. Laurie argued that everyone drove at 16 and she’d promised. Already painfully aware of what could happen on the roads that could be out of your control, Patty held firm. They finally agreed that Nick would go as a front seat passenger. “It’s either that or I drive you,” Patty finally said. Laurie huffed her reluctant agreement and went upstairs to get her purse. When she came down she found Patty on the couch with her head in her hands. Laurie went over and sat next to her mother putting her arm around her, “Thanks mom.” Laurie looked up surprised, eyes questioning. “For caring,” Laurie said and gave her a kiss. Patty hugged her until Nick showed up and said, “OK you two, enough of the lovefest, I got a life too ya know.” They both separated wiping their eyes and laughed. “Be careful,” was Patty’s words as they went out the door and she knew they would.

Patty wiped her hands. Matt and Carrie, her twelve-year old twins, were up the street at their friend's house as well as Jeff, her seven year old. Then her thoughts strayed to her oldest, Devlyn, who was twenty-eight. She laughed as she told people about Devlyn. No, she explained, she was not born before they were married. Devlyn was adopted when she was twelve. She was the neighbor's only child. When they moved to their first home a few years after they were married, the first people they met were the next-door neighbors, the O’Neill’s. Devlyn had just been born and she and Gary, her husband, and Joe and Jeri O’Neill became close. Patty and Gary had tried for years to have children with no success and several miscarriages and Joe and Jeri had been there for them every time they met with disappointment. Even though they were a little older they went on vacations together and became a small group, Patty and Gary and Joe and Jeri. It even rhymed, their other friends laughed.

One night the discussion came up about wills and with Joe and Jeri having no close relative they were having a problem figuring out what to do with Devlyn in case something happened to them. Patty and Gary had grown to love their young next-door neighbor and Patty had felt like she had helped raise Devlyn along with Jeri, so they said they’d be happy to take Devlyn in case something happened.

That something that no one counted on happened when Devlyn was twelve. Joe had won a trip to the Bahamas from work and asked Patty and Gary to watch Devlyn for a few days. After nine years of trying they’d finally had two children, Nick was two and Laurie was a newborn. At first Joe and Jeri hesitated to ask but Patty volunteered. They’d be doing her a favor, Devlyn was good with the kids and she could help Patty out. The O’Neill’s were visiting a neighboring island in a small plane when it crashed into the ocean with no survivors.

When the police came to the door and Family Services took Devlyn into custody she cried and held onto Patty. Gary tried to explain the arrangements the two friends had made but the police said only the court could decide on placement outside the home. Devlyn was pried from Patty and called for both of them as she was led away. It broke their hearts that they’d lost their best friends but this was much worse, hearing Devlyn’s cries tore a hole in their souls. Gary immediately got on the phone to his partner in his small law firm, Alex Wilson, and started the process to get Devlyn back. They petitioned the court the next morning for temporary custody. A home study had to be completed and would take at least a month, but when the judge heard Gary and Patty’s heartfelt pleas he granted temporary custody with a weekly visit from Family Services. They agreed and Devlyn ran to them in tears clinging tight to Patty’s hand as they left the courtroom.

That was sixteen years ago. Devlyn was now 28 and living in Arlington, VA. She had a job at a private security agency in Washington, D.C. She assured Patty she was safe and she was using her degree in behavioral science and criminal psychology she’d received from Georgetown. She’d graduated with honors and the family had attended the graduation. A few years ago she’d been knocked unconscious and in a coma for a week, so Patty worried even though Devlyn told her not to.

It was three days till Christmas and all her children would be together. It was their family tradition everyone came home for Christmas. They'd all promised long ago that no matter what the family would all be together for Christmas.

“Shit,” she said under her breath, as she smelled something burning, “the cookies.” She pulled open the oven door and the smoke escaped. She coughed as she waved her hand in front of her. Suddenly the doorbell and phone rang. “Shit,” she said again torn between the front door, the phone or the cookies. It couldn’t be the kids they all had a key, unless they’d forgotten it again like Jeff did last week. Suddenly Jack, her family’s manager, walked in the back door.

“Need some help?” he asked.

“Leave that open and grab the phone for me it’s probably the alarm company and,” the doorbell rang again, “the front door?” she said exasperated.

“Sure,” he said happily.

Jack worked for an agency that represented musical groups. It seems her family was talented. Nick, Laurie, Matt, Carrie and even Jeff sang and played instruments. They’d been compared to the next Osmonds. They had just finished their second record and they were selling like hot cakes. Patty wasn’t involved in the singing itself, she didn’t have enough talent in that respect to fill a teaspoon, but their father did have a minor in music and played in his high school and college band.

When Gary died he’d left them with insurance but also debts that had been incurred with school loans and starting and running your own business. By the time she was done paying off the bills she had just enough to pay the house off. After two years of struggling to keep things the way they were Nick had come to her saying they’d been practicing and had a good musical group. She thought it was racket and sometimes wondered what Jack saw that made him want to take them as clients after hearing one tape, but he did. He provided them with singing and music lessons just to fine-tune the sound and when he thought they were ready they recorded a song and released it. That was two years ago and they’ve had three songs in the top ten and their first CD was still in the top 50.

Patty still marveled at the wonder of it all. Her degree in accounting helped manage the finances and she made sure each of her children were taken care of with individual trusts. They even voted to give Devlyn and her one even though they weren’t part of the group. She kept firm control of the finances for her family, the way groups went these days they could be old news tomorrow, and the only thing they did was move into a private subdivision in Santa Barbara, the kids went to a private school or on the rare times they were on the road during the school year had a private tutor and she bought a van and car. She didn’t want them spoiled, money or no money they would be raised the way Gary and her had decided long ago, with good character and morals. Nick had just gotten his own car after showing her he was a safe driver for the last two years. She’d survived the argument that it was their talent that made the money and she should let them spend it. That night everyone got grounded and the next morning it was uncomfortable. Then Devlyn called and asked to be put on speakerphone. She had great influence with Nick and the kids and by the time she was done everyone was hugging. Patty shook her head sometimes wondering if she shouldn’t have gone into public relations or politics.

He handed her the phone, she propped it between her chin and shoulder and gave the alarm company the code word. She dropped the phone into her open hand, set it on the counter and scrapped the burnt cookies in the trashcan. “Thank goodness for teflon,” she thought, “at least the cooking sheet could be salvaged.” She went back in the house and switched the fan on.

“Patty,” Jack yelled, “I think you should come in here.”

“Can it wait, I’ve got to get this smoke out?”

“No,” he said.

Patty walked apprehensively into the front room, brushing the flour off her sweatshirt.


Devlyn stirred. Her mind was hazy and thoughts and images were flying so fast through her brain she was having a hard time pining one down. Instincts hit and she quickly turned her face to the left and promptly vomited. Choking and gasping for breath, she coughed, tears quickly filled her eyes as pain rolled like thunder echoing and reverberating through her body.

Lying halfway on her left side she tried to move her right arm and whimpered in agony as pain flared like a sunburst in her right shoulder. She lay back as the tears flooded out and down the sides of her face. They dribbled into her ears and she allowed it for she had not the strength to wipe them away.

She had to breath slowly and carefully through her mouth, her nose not working for some reason, for if she took too deep a breath, pain sliced through her like a knife. She lay still for a long time meditating as her trainer had taught her until gradually the pounding subsided and the tears dried. Through the slit of her one good eye she saw white walls. Her skin was numb and inside she felt hot and cold and the same time. She shivered, the arm restraints holding her to the bed.

Air slipped through parched lips, into a dry mouth and down a raw throat. It felt as if cotton had been stuffed in it. Her tongue seemed leaden and heavy and the tip hurt as she pushed it around the inside of her mouth, feeling all her teeth intact. Stretching the tip to the front of her mouth she felt something dry and sticky. She couldn’t taste what it was, for that sense seemed to have failed her too.

She heard the door scrape open and a voice that sounded familiar, "Well, you're awake, just relax, nurse, the syringe.”

She moved her mouth but nothing came out. Her body refused to budge. She saw the needle move down and everything dissolved into nothingness.


“Missing, what do you mean she’s missing?” Patty said with fear in her voice, “it couldn’t be happening again,” she thought, “not again, hasn’t this family, haven’t I been through enough.” She reached for Jack’s hand and he took it without hesitation curling his warm fingers around hers.

“I’m sorry, Patty," Sam Waterson said. He was Devlyn's boss and she was mildly surprised to see him. Accompanying him was a young woman he introduced as Dr. Williams, and a man and woman both in black suits. They reminded her of that movie Men In Black and she momentarily wondered if they had one of those things that would erase her memory.

“Where was she last?” Jack asked for Patty who seemed totally lost.

“As of yesterday morning she was at the military hospital in San Diego," Sam responded

"Military hospital!" Patty almost shrieked, "Why didn't you call me."

"On her last assignment she was held hostage for several days, she was," he paused looking to Dr. Williams who continued.

"When we found her she was injured and suffering from the after-effects of psycho-tropic drugs and malaria," she answered.

"How badly was she hurt?" Patty fought to control the panic in her voice.

"She had a dislocated shoulder, was hallucinating and in the cycle of malaria, in her lucid state she adamantly insisted we not call."

"Nothing else," Patty asked with baited breath.

"No," Dr. Williams said knowing what Patty meant, "nothing else."

Patty let out a nervous breath, "Then I guess when you find her she and I will have something to talk about." Patty said looking at Sam and brooking no argument. She took another deep breath and let it out, "OK, tell me about the malaria."

Dr. Williams leaned forward to answer. “Once diagnosed and treated malaria is curable although symptoms could re-occur for up to four years. This disease kills 25% of adults within 2 weeks if the treatment is not given, that’s why early diagnosis and treatment is critical.”

“Was she treated?” Patty whispered

“Yes, and initial results were encouraging, the symptoms were there but in a lesser degree,” she answered.

“What exactly are the symptoms?” Patty asked her voice betraying her emotion.

Dr. Williams continued, “There are three stages and patients present different symptoms depending on the stage of infection. Fever is always present and may be erratic or continuous in all the phases. It’s usually accompanied by headache, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting which only worsen as the stages progress. The first stage lasts 2-3 days and includes fatigue, muscle aches, headache and slight fever. The second stage begins when the patient has a feeling of cold and develops shaking chills lasting 15 minutes to several hours. After the cold, comes a feeling of hot when the patient’s temperature may rise to 104 degrees or higher. Increased heart rate, seizures, cough, and abdominal pain may also occur. Within 2-6 hours after developing the second stage the patient moves into the third stage in which they perspire profusely, break the fever and finally fall into an exhaustive sleep. The stages cycle every 4-6 hours and recur at regular intervals, taking several days sometimes a week to complete.”

“At what cycle was she?” Patty's voice broke.

“She was in the first cycle when we found her. Last night she’d past the third stage and was hallucinating thinking we were the enemy. She was restrained but somehow got lose from the restraints and escaped.”

“How do you get lose from restraints?” Jack asked.

Patty kept quiet because she, among a few, knew the story of why Devlyn could pull loose those restraints. Two years ago she was deep in the Ural Mountains on a joint archeological expedition with the United States and the former Soviet Union searching for art stolen and hidden during World War II. In a cave they found a technology and power source of what they eventually determined to be of alien origin. As Devlyn was standing in the chamber it powered up and struck her with a red beam of light, which put her into a deep suspended state. Attempts to revive her at site were unsuccessful so they transported her to the nearest military hospital in Germany where she awakened on her own a week later with Patty at her side. Afterward medical reports indicated enhanced physical conditioning and mobility including increased mental ability, reflexes and heightened acuteness of all senses. Since then she’d been working with a researcher at Georgetown University para-psychology department and medical staff at Walter Reed to analyze and help enhance her physical and mental abilities. A very few knew what had happened in that cave, Patty being one of them and they were all sworn to secrecy as a matter of national security. Patty knew that Devlyn was more involved in government affairs that she let on and if scared or under stress could tear those restraints without breaking a sweat. If she was hallucinatory and running, she could be dangerous, Patty shivered and Jack put his arm around her shoulder.

“What…” she stopped swallowing back her tears, “what are you doing to find her?”

“We’ve put all point bulletins out to all the local and state police as well as our field offices," the man in black answered.

“I’m sorry,” Patty shook her head, “you’re with?”

“The National Security Agency maam,” the man said.

“OK, what do we do?” Jack said.

“Stay here, she may show up, come home,” Sam said, "we'll keep searching for her." As Jack showed them to the door Patty called Sam's name out. He turned to her. "Next time forget what she says about calling me," Patty said in a crystal clear voice that brooked no arguments.

"It's already forgotten," Sam said, "don’t worry, we'll find her."*********************************

She ran through the woods, the wind whipping against her face, the branches leaving small scratches on her hand. Her other arm she held close to her body. It was still bandaged, her shoulder hurt and she couldn’t move it. She was wearing green scrubs and tennis shoes she’d stolen from the hospital. She kept looking over her shoulder and up, listening for sounds of pursuit, helicopters, dogs, rustling, cars, lights, but saw none. She turned back and tripped over a tree root falling heavily on her injured shoulder. She groaned aloud and rolled on the ground as she held her arm. She pushed herself with her feel, scooting under a tree, where she lay till she fell asleep or passed out, she didn’t know or care which anymore.

A voice woke her up, a woman’s voice, screaming, “Let me go". Devlyn sat up holding her arm. It pained her but for some reason the voice she heard seemed to call to her. “I’m warning you, let me go, help,” she heard again. She struggled to rise and looked over the tree seeing an abandoned railroad yard and two men pulling a young woman toward the woods. Instincts kicked in and adrenaline rushed through her body, she pushed herself up and stumbled toward them.

Her hair was sticking out wildly, dirt smudged her face and clothes, her arm wet, the bandages loosened, and yet she still walked toward them, struggling to stay upright. The men had taken the woman and were pushing her to the ground and while one was holding her down the other was starting to pull down his pants.

The woman saw her before the men did. She stopped struggling, for some reason knowing she didn’t have to.

“She asked you to stop,” Devlyn said with effort tapping the man on the shoulder.

He turned around looking into the eyes of a disheveled green-eyed woman and laughed. “And who’s going to stop me, you." He laughed again, turned to his partner who joined in and quickly turned back, swinging his arm and with closed fist hit Devlyn on the side of the face.

The woman watched intently for she expected a grown man to go down with a blow like that but Devlyn still stood. Her head was turned from the force of the blow, her hair in her eyes as she slowly pulled her head up and looked at the man. Glints of emerald ice peered beneath and between wet, flattened locks. Calm, dangerous eyes like that of a cheetah playing with its prey right before the death strike. Devlyn spoke, her voice taunt, “If I have to,” she whispered through the blood that began to drip down the side of her mouth.

“Then if that's…." he stopped talking in mid breath for Devlyn had her hand around his throat cutting off his breathing. She turned with him in her hand and pinned him against the nearest tree, snarling though clenched teeth, “no more.” The woman on the ground wasn't sure if she was talking about her or something else.

The man was starting to turn blue, his companion let the woman go and jumped up to help him. Devlyn dropped the man and he fell onto the ground gasping for breath and turned just before the other man touched her grabbing his arm and breaking it with one pull upward. The woman on the ground winced at the sound of the cracking bones, the man screamed as Devlyn let go and pushed him away. He flew at least five feet from where they were. The woman watched in amazement.

The other man was feeling around and found a broken bottle. He stood arcing the bottle toward her head, the woman screamed, and Devlyn pulled back just as the jagged edge caught her above her left eye.

Devlyn grasped the man’s wrist shaking the bottle free from his hand. She kneed him and while he was down kicked him against the trees. His head hit knocking him unconscious.

Devlyn turned to the woman who was now on her feet and fell to her hands and knees and vomited. The woman ran to her.

“Are you OK?” she held her till she was done then held her head in her hands trying to stop the flow of blood eventually tying something around her head. “Can you stand, I have to get you to a hospital.”

Devlin heard her voice as if it were underwater, slow and drawn out. “No,” Dev pleaded, “no hos…pi…,” she ran out of breath, her mouth hurt to talk, “hur…hurt me,” she gasped, "pl….ease".

The woman who told Devlyn her name was “Mac” put her arm around her and helped her up. “OK, no hospital, I have a friend,” she echoed in her head, “but if she says…” she let the sentence hang. Devlyn nodded and let the woman help her. She stood leaning against her all efforts concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. She was hot, her muscles ached and the cold would come again tomorrow.***********************************

Patty sat on the couch as Jack showed Sam, Dr. Williams and the man and woman in black to the door.

He turned around and Patty was gone. She soon came bursting into the room with her purse and car keys.

"Whoa, where do you think your going?" Jack said holding her arms.

"I'm going to look for my daughter," Patty replied trying to break free.

"And just where are you going to look, you know Devlyn's training, if she doesn't want to be found she won't be," Jack answered refusing to release his hold.

Patty stopped squirming and collapsed into him and he just held her.

"You're right," she finally said, "she can disappear, if she doesn't want to be found no one will find her," she looked at Jack, "but I can't just sit here, I have to do something."

Jack smiled and held her face in his hands, "I have an idea," he said and led her to the couch, then reached for the phone.


Mac held onto Devlyn as they rounded the corner of the abandoned warehouse and saw two policemen standing next to their car. "Hey," they yelled, "stop," they pulled their guns and started running toward them.

"Friends?" Mac asked.

"Ple…ase, hi…de," Devlyn said as coherently as she could, her mouth felt like it was full of marbles.

Mac pulled her back around the corner of the building. "In here," Mac said leading almost dragging her into the warehouse. They found a rusted out spot behind a wall that held them both. It was a tight squeeze, but Mac managed to get Devlyn and her into it.

"We have to be quiet," she said putting her arm around the other woman, her hand guiding her head to her shoulder, "we don't want them to hear us."

Devlin just nodded against her shoulder, “Hu…rt m…eee.”

"I know, shuuuuush, it will be allright,” Mac whispered wondering what on earth she was doing feeling so protective about this woman. Hearing the feet get closer her rational mind told her she should just let them take her into custody, they hadn’t done anything wrong and they’d get medical attention.

While these thoughts rushed through her mind Devlyn pulled her head up and fixed eye contact, "Th…thanks," Devlyn breathed out. The eyes and Devlyn's look bore through her melting away any resistance. It wasn't calm and dangerous any longer, it was a look of trust and faith. Instantly Mac made her decision, smiled and wiped the blood from Devlyn's chin with the cuff of her coat then pulled Devlyn closer to her whispering, “quiet now.” ****************************

Jack had called the president of every news station and was in the process of setting up a press conference. His idea was to broadcast Patty asking for information regarding Devlyn's location. He'd sent Patty upstairs to get a picture and she was just returning with the picture from last time she was in and they'd all went for a family photo.

The kids all walked in as if on cue. “Mom,” Matt and Carrie, the twins, yelled in unison, then seeing Jack on the phone said, “sorry.”

Jack looked at Nick and indicated that they go into the dining room. “Come on guys,” Nick said, “lets go into the kitchen and get something to eat.”

Patty came down with the picture in her hands and Jack indicated the kids were home. She’d forgotten all about them in the excitement of the morning. She had to tell them. Jack nodded he was almost done and Patty walked toward the kitchen.

She looked down and the picture then up at her kids, one was missing and hurt, her breath hitched and she almost cried. Laurie saw her first, “Mom, what’s wrong.”

She wasn’t going to lie to them, that’s not how they were raised. She took a deep breath and told them what happened.


By the time they’d reached Doc’s clinic Devlyn had started to shiver and her teeth chatter. “We’re here,” Mac said, “hang on.”

Devlyn could only nod.

Mac led her back to one of the examine rooms while yelling at the same time.

“What’s all the commotion?” Doc Louise said as she came into the room and seeing Mac and Devlyn rushed to the bed to help, “who’s this?”

“A friend,” Mac replied, “she’s hurt and afraid and I don’t know what else. She saved me from a couple of the alley boys, she threw them almost five feet away. I wanted to take her to a hospital but she became agitated hearing the word and upon seeing some police, said they hurt her. I know this doesn’t make sense but the way she looked at me. Anyway, part of the reason she’s hurt is because of me, she just needs some help, she’s starting to shiver.”

“OK, let’s get a look,” Doc said and looked at Mac, "any of that blood yours?"

"No," Mac said as Doc’s nurse practitioner Chris stuck her head in the room. "I was just going to call you, take care of Mrs. Otis for me I have an emergency.”

“Need a hand,” Chris said.

“Naw, Kelly’s here,” Doc said, “can you send Scott back here with a trauma kit.”

“Sure,” Chris said.

Devlyn saw white coats and smelled the antiseptic that signaled that bad place. She then saw a man and woman and Mac. The man was carrying a tray and gave it to the woman. Devlyn started to moan and fight to get up when she saw the needle. Mac held her down and talked to her, softly, gently, wiping her forehead, holding her hand the rhythm of the words and the pressure of her presence seeming to soothe her and she settled down allowing the IV and Mac held her gaze giving calm reassurances until Devlyn gave in to the sedative flowing through her veins.

Doc finished up the stitches and Devlyn whimpered. “She’s waking up,” Mac said.

“She can’t be,” Doc replied, “I gave her enough sedative to keep her out till morning.”

“Look, she’s trying to open her eyes,” Mac said.

“How’s her blood pressure?” Doc asked checking Devlyn’s eyes.

“180 over 90,” Mac answered.

“A little high,” Doc said, “we’ll wait awhile and if it’s still high I’ll give her some more sedative but that first one should have put her out like a light, maybe she has a high tolerance. You think she’s on any other drugs?”

“Nope, although she wasn’t that coherent with me I don’t think she’s a drug addict.”

“No needle marks and her nose looks clear, let’s do a tox screen,” Doc said taking some blood from the IV. “Scott,” she called.

“Yeah doc?”

“Grab this and do a quick tox screen for me.”

“Sure,” he said.

“Let’s get these dirty clothes off, I need to get an x-ray of her shoulder, looks like it was dislocated, see the bruising?”

“Mrs. Otis just left and no more patients, need some help,” Chris said as she entered the room.

“Yep, grab me a gown,” Doc said and began cutting Devlyn’s scrubs off. “Look,” she said after they’d gotten her pants and top off, “her wrists are raw, looks like restraint marks.”

There was a plastic tag wrapped around one, it said “Devlyn.” “Her name’s Devlyn, no last name,” Doc said and Chris wrote it on her chart.

They threw away the old dirty scrubs and got Devlyn in a new gown and Chris started cleaning her wrists and wrapping bandages around them.

“Any signs of suicide?” Doc asked looking at Mac or Kelly, as Doc knew her.

“No, just a tattoo,” Chris answered.

“What kind of tattoo?” Kelly asked.

“Here, take a look.” Kelly looked at the inside of Devlyn’s wrist and saw a green tattoo of intertwining lines, like something out of the Book of the Kells.

“It’s pretty,” Chris said.

“It’s the mark of the Fianna,” Kelly answered.

“The Fianna?”

“They’re an ancient Irish organization of warriors that are sworn to protect the interests of the realm, they did the bidding of the King and were responsible only to him.”

“You mean she’s a agent of the government?”

“The Fianna are a secret organization that are responsible only to the President.”

“How do you know?” Chris asked.

“Heard about them, research,” Kelly coughed.

“Whatever she is, she’s hurt and needs our help. Let’s get that portable x-ray machine in here and take some shots of that shoulder, better check everything else while were at it.” Devlyn started to whimper. “And Chris,”

Chris stuck her head in the door.

“Bring some more of that sedative.”


“What do we do mom?” Nick said.

“Jack’s setting up a press conference for tomorrow, it’s too late to do anything tonight.”

“Can we go too?” Jeff said

“Yeah,” Laurie responded.

Patty looked to Jack who shrugged as if to say ‘it’s up to you’.

Patty looked at her kids through watery eyes and nodded.

“All right, the Beverly Hills Hilton tomorrow morning be there.”

“Or be square,” they all sang.

“It’s almost Christmas do you think she’ll be here for Christmas?” Carrie asked, “she promised and she always keeps her promises.”

Patty hugged her, “Yes sweetie, I know she does.” **********************Devlyn woke up in the grips of the worst cold she’d ever been in. She went to wrap her arms around herself, but found that she couldn’t. She felt something in her hand and it hurt when she moved. “Easy,” a voice said.

“Whe…where a…am I?”

“In a clinic, you’re safe. You helped me with those guys at the railroad tracks. I brought you here, you said someone had hurt you.”

Her teeth chattered, “cccooolllddd.”

“I’ll get Doc,” Mac said and left.

Devlyn lifted her head and everything swam in front of her. She felt like a fish. What was the name of that fish movie she just saw, Nino, Chino, no, it started with an ‘n’, god why couldn’t she remember. She remembered children’s laughter, warmth and laughing herself but it was like a long-lost memory. She twisted her head as if a different position would help it. Different faces floated in front of her, voices talked dimly then loudly, demanding and loving, she tried to answer but it was so cold.

A chill racked through her body and she fell back onto the bed. A middle-aged black woman swung into view. “Are you cold sweetie? Let’s see,” and she barely felt the hand against her forehead.

“She’s very hot,” Louise said to Kelly, “temps 103, we need to get her chilled down, quick.”

“What do I do?”

“Let’s try some Tylenol first and no blankets.” Doc pulled the blankets off and injected some liquid into the IV.

Kelly saw Devlyn lying on the bed, shivering. She seemed like a small child and Kelly immediately wanted to pull her in her arms and tell her everything would be all right. Kelly looked at Louise, “If this doesn’t get it down.”

“Then we wet some towels in cold water and try that but let's wait this out.”

Kelly held Devlyn’s hand as much as she could because she seemed to quiet when there was some physical contact. Devlyn thrashed in the bed and started to hallucinate. She tried to get up and it took both of them to hold her down even with more sedative. Two hours later her fever had shot up a degree and her heart rate had risen.

“OK,” Doc said, “wet some towels in cold water and I’ll get some Motrin into her. Lay the towels over her we’ll change the sheets later, be sure to put some under her armpits.”

As Kelly tucked the towels around and under Devlyn until she could feel the heat through the cold layer of cotton.

Doc had left a moment and upon returning had a piece of paper in her hand along with something else and a frown on her face. “What’s up?” Kelly asked looking up at her. She sat next to Devlyn. “This is the toxicology screen, some trace psycho-tropic drugs are showing up in her system?”

“Psycho-tropic? You think she escaped from a psych hospital?”

“No, these drugs are usually used to gain information from someone, they can also cause hallucinations and sometimes mental breakdowns.”

“Brainwashing!” Kelly said angrier than she intended, “what institution uses that?”

“It would hard for any professional institution or doctor to get a hold of these types of drugs, they’re banned in the United States and within the respectable international medical community, too unstable.”


“They were originally developed by the military but are under agreement not to be used.”

“So who do you think caused this?” Kelly said and she wiped Devlyn’s forehead with a wet cloth.

Doc sat down next to the bed, turned and placed the paper on a table. “Don’t know, but that’s why she’s afraid of hospitals and the police. Maybe they’re looking for her and if she’s a government agent, she’s had the training to hide from them.”

“Do you think we did this to her?” Kelly whispered as she looked down at Devlyn and watched a tear drip down her cheek.

“I don’t think so but I can’t promise, whoever put her though this should be horsewhipped."

Kelly couldn't say anything for fear she'd give away her emotions, tears floated in her eyes and her throat tightened as she wet Devlyn's forehead.

"OK," Doc said, "lets turn her on her side.”

"Why?" Kelly asked, voice tight.

"The Motrin," Doc said and after seeing Kelly's confused look, "it a suppository Kelly."

"Oh," Kelly said and helped turn Devlyn on her side then sat on the bed, her back to Doc. Devlyn began to thrash and protest till Kelly began to rub her back, the other she put on the top of her head and used her thumb to rub her forehead while she softly hummed. Devlyn whimpered then stilled curling herself around Kelly one arm tightly gripping her leg. Kelly could feel the heat of Devlyn's body through her jeans. Doc inserted the suppository, "She seems to react to your voice," she said and noticed both women were oblivious to what was going on around them. "I'll be back later," she said smiling and quietly left Kelly holding Devlyn and humming an ancient child's tune.


Jack had arranged for a limo and Patty and the kids were driving to the Beverly Hills Hilton early the next morning. The ballroom was packed as they walked in the side door. Snapping cameras and the whirling of videotape filled the air. Jack ushered Patty to the lectern.

Jack held up his hands indicating silence. “Thank you ladies and gentleman for coming at such short notice. My client Patty Montgomery would like to say a few words.”

Patty took a deep breath and stood confidently to the microphone. “I’d like to ask you help in locating my oldest daughter Devlyn O’Neill. She’s been injured and may not know who she is. I have reason to believe she’s in the Los Angeles area and am asking if anyone’s seen her to please contact us at the following number.” Patty held the picture up and gave a phone number of an exchange. “Devlyn, if you can hear or see me, please come home, I love you.” Patty started to cry and leaned into Jack. Nick stepped up to the microphone taking the picture from his mother. “Everyone,” he held the picture up to the camera, “this is my sister Devlyn, please help up find her. Devlyn,” the camera closed in on the picture with just Nick’s voice over, “we love you and want you to come home.” He put his arm his mother and sisters, “thank you everyone.”


Devlyn’s fever broke early morning and Doc had talked Kelly into taking a shower and changing her clothes. She turned the radio on for the late news.

Devlyn began to moan, she recognized a voice calling for her through the fog. She got closer and closer to the voice. Doc who had been reading had grabbed Devlyn just before she fell out of bed. She seemed to be reaching for the radio. Doc reached over and turned it down.

“Ma…ma,” Devlyn said and Doc caught her.

“Easy there, Devlyn,” Doc said, “Kelly’s not here, she’ll be right back.”

“Kel…ly,” Devlyn said confused, that other voice, where was it, and Mac, wasn’t it Mac.

“Mac,” Devlyn muttered.

“Sorry, she told you her name was Mac, it’s Kelly McNamara, she sometimes goes by Mac but I’ve always called her Kelly.”

Louise pulled the blankets up around her and checked her for fever. “Fever’s down and seems like you’re a little more coherent than yesterday.”

Devlyn pulled her hand up, the one with the IV and looked at the needle and tubing. “Easy,” Doc said, “we had to get some fluids into you last night, you were dehydrated and disoriented. You ran a high fever most of the night, it just broke a while ago.”

Kelly came in wearing a heavy white robe and drying her hair with a towel. “Mac,” Devlyn said.

“Hi Devlyn, wow Doc thanks for suggesting the shower, I feel so much better, how’s our patient?”

“Much better it seems,” Doc said and stood, “Devlyn, this is Kelly McNamara.”

“You helped me,” Devlyn said.

“You needed it.”

“Thanks,” Devlyn replied.

“No problem,” Kelly said, “how are you feeling?”

“Bet…ter,” Devlyn slurred, closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Kelly turned to Doc, “Doesn’t say much for my conversation skills.”

Doc checked her temperature and vitals, “She’s exhausted, sleeps the best thing for her.”

“Wonder where she belongs?” Kelly mused touching Devlyn’s.

“We’ll find out later after she’s gotten some rest,” Doc said motioning Kelly toward the door, “I’m going to take a nap you should too.”

“I…,” Kelly looked back and forth between Louise and Devlyn. “The chair opens up if you want to stay in here,” Doc said smiling.

“I just think she shouldn’t be alone,” Kelly said.

“Pleasant dreams,” Doc replied and left to go upstairs.


“We’ve got a report,” Jack yelled.

Patty jumped up. “Where?”

“In LA, two policemen came to roll call this afternoon and saw her yesterday afternoon down by the railroad tracks. They said another person, couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman was helping her into a building. They gave chase but lost them in the abandoned buildings."

“How did she look?”

“They said she was disheveled and wearing green scrubs,” Jack replied, “they’re searching the area now.”


Devlyn woke up early evening as Louise was checking her vital signs. “Well, welcome back. You sure slept a long time, must have needed it.”

“How long?” she tried to sit up.

“Almost twelve hours,” Doc said helping her.

“Am I all right?”

"You’re fine considering. I x-rayed your shoulder while you slept. The fluid I took off didn’t build back up and it just needs to stay in place, I also injected some steroids into the joint to help your shoulder heal. Your head looks good, no sign of infection, you should be hungry.”

“Actually, I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Let me help you,” Doc said as she helped Devlyn stand and pulled the IV pole behind her.

“You OK?” Doc called out behind the partially closed door.

“Yeah, where’s Mac?”

“She went to get you some clothes and check around the railroad yard. You muttered something about Robin Hood last night and there’s been some murders involving arrows. Mac went to check it out and to see if she could find something to help you find your way home. You talked about it too last night. She should be back soon.”

Startled Devlyn looked up, “How long ago did she leave?”

“About two hours ago, wonder what’s taking her, said she’d be right back.”

“Doc, I remember something from a railroad yard, a room, a room full of pictures of Jesus and arrows and crucifixes. I thought I saw a body.” She pushed herself up. “Take this out Doc I’ve got to find her,” she held out her hand.

“Devlyn let me try to call her, she always answers her cell phone.” Doc dialed the number but no one answered.

“Doc take this out or I will, if something’s happened I know exactly where it’s at and I can find her.”

Louise removed the tape and the IV knowing there was no arguing with her. “I need some clothes,” Devlyn said.

Louise left for a moment and brought some clothes in, waiting as she changed in the bathroom. “Devlyn let me call the police, your family, please.”

Devlyn finished dressing and held her head. “You can call the police, I…I don’t remember my family yet, but I’m going to. She saved me Doc, I have to help her.”

“Find her and keep safe,” Doc said, “both of you.”

Devlyn smiled, gave her a quick hug and rushed toward the back door, but not before Doc gave her directions to the railroad yard and Devlyn gave Doc directions and a map to the room. As Doc walked to the front to call for help she glanced at the paper and saw the front page that she’d missed today.

“Oh my god,” she said and quickly dialed another number after she called the police. ***********************************

“Got a location,” Jack said.

“Where?” Patty asked.

“Abandoned railroad yard, a doctor named Louise Holmes runs a clinic down in the city near there. She called and said Devlyn was there last night brought in by a young woman named Kelly McNamara. Louise thinks Devlyn found the killer and Kelly’s missing so Devlyn went to find her.”

“Why didn’t Devlyn call us?”

“Doctor said she didn’t remember.”

“Have the police been notified?”

“Louise said she called the police first, then here.”

“Are we sure it’s Devlyn?”

“Described her right down to the tattoo.”

“Let’s go.”

“Let the police do this.”

“She’s my daughter and she’s in trouble, I’m going.”

“Then I’m going too, I’ll tell the kids.”************************************Devlyn stuck her hands in her jacket pocket and pulled back as she rounded a corner seeing the police. She wasn’t sure yet of who she was or her place in this world so she couldn’t take any chances. She backed up to the building, bent over and ran over the tracks, hidden by the darkness.

The small house lay in the back of the woods. Devlyn remembered stumbling into the room yesterday, god was it only yesterday it seemed like forever. She remembered candles and pictures of Jesus and Mary, and crucifixes, a lot of them, covering the wall, and a bow, no not like Robin Hood, a hand crossbow and arrows. She looked down at the trodden path and saw a cell phone. She picked it up and dialed a number. A man answered. “Devlyn, is that you, it’s Nick, come home.” She hung up. They must know me although I’m not sure who they are. I’ll find out later, I need to find Mac. She put the phone in her pocket.

She reached the window, the candles were lit but she couldn’t see because of the dirt. She tried to wipe it away but couldn’t see anything more. She walked around the shack until she found the door and carefully opened it. She saw Mac lying on the floor with her hands tied behind her back. “Mac,” she called softly. Looking around and seeing no one in the room she moved to her and pulled her up. In Mac’s mouth was shoved a t-shirt. She started to struggle against Devlyn.

“Mac, relax,” Devlyn said and pulled out the gag. “Be…behind you,” Mac said.

Devlyn turned to see a figure in a monk’s robe and hood. He or she raised a hand crossbow and fired. Mac screamed.


“What was that?” Patty said.

“It was a scream,” the police captain said, “stay here.” He indicated to his team of searchers to spread out and draw their guns.


Mac slowly opened her eyes. She thought for a moment she was dead. She looked at the short arrow in Devlyn’s hand held right in front of her. If Devlyn hadn’t caught it she would have been dead. Devlyn turned the arrow and threw it at the man. It caught his sleeve and embedded in the wood. He tried pulling but couldn’t get free.

“Come on,” Devlyn encouraged forgetting about untying Mac and instead pulled her along with her good arm.

They could hear the howl of the man behind her. They were almost at the tracks and saw the flashlights of the police. Devlyn looked down the tracks and saw a train approaching, fast and the police would be stopped until it past. She could make it but she knew Mac couldn’t. An arrow whizzed by her head. She pushed Mac behind her and turned toward the figure.*********************************************“Where do you think they are?” Jack yelled.

“Over the tracks but we’ll have to wait for the train,” the captain told him.**********************************************“Stay down,” Devlyn yelled at Mac.

“Devlyn,” Mac screamed.

Devlyn turned just as an arrow embedded itself into her bad shoulder. The momentum twisted her body and she fell onto the dirt.

“Devlyn!” Mac screamed again.

“Devlyn!” Patty screamed as she ran for the tracks finally sighting her daughter on the other side. Jack ran after her.

The black figure lowered the bow and came closer.

The train was almost upon them as was the black figure. He kicked Devlyn who didn't move. He turned on Kelly pointing the crossbow directly at her. Devlyn suddenly threw her legs around him flinging him onto the tracks then fell back. Mac scooted toward her pulling her into her lap her hand pressing on the wound to stop the bleeding.

The black figure was engulfed by the train and carried down the tracks. The engineer didn’t see the body and didn’t stop. Patty waited impatiently for the train to pass and the captain called for an ambulance.

Mac held Devlyn close to her, the rushing of the train deafening. “Jesus Devlyn you could have been killed, why?”

“You’re my friend Mac that’s what friends do," Devlyn smiled at her.

“My names Kelly McNamara, my friends call me Kelly, my good friends call be Kel.”

“Kel,” Devlyn smiled wearily, “my friends call me Dev.”

“Dev,” Kelly said, “don’t let go promise me.”

“I promise.”

The train swiftly passed and Devlyn heard a familiar voice, “Mother,” she whispered. ************************************* “I’m Patty Montgomery,” Patty said to Kelly.

“Hi, I know, I’m Kelly McNamara.”

“You helped my daughter, I’d like to thank you.”

“She saved my life, there’s no thanks necessary, will she be all right?”

“The doctor said she’ll be fine, it took awhile to remove the arrow bolt but she’s stitched up and back in recovery.”

“That’s good news,” Kelly said and sat down. Patty sat next to her. “She’s a handful.”

“Yes she is.”

“Stubborn too.”


“She’s asking for you.”

“Can I see her?”

“She’ll be in a room soon, stick around and I’ll take you in with me.”

“Thanks Mrs. Montgomery.”




Kelly had fallen asleep in the waiting room when Patty shook her awake. “She’s ready to see you now.”

Patty led her into Intermediate Care and Devlyn was lying in bed barely awake.

Patty walked over to her, touched her arm and Devlyn opened her eyes.

“Hi mom," she smiled.

“Hi darling, I have a friend who wants to see you.”

Devlyn turned her head and smiled, “Hi Kel.”

“Hi Dev.”

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this, it’s getting to be a habit.”

Kelly chuckled, “I know what you mean.”

“Well, I’ll leave you two alone, I’ll be back in awhile,” Patty said and kissed Devlyn’s head

“Love you mom,” Devlyn said.

“Love you too baby,” Patty said, “thanks for keeping your promise," she looked at Kelly, "and thank you Kelly for helping her do that,” she touched Kelly's upper arm for a moment, smiled and left.

“You didn’t tell me who your family was,” Kelly said moving to Devlyn’s side.

“I really didn’t know till now, does that bother you?" Devlyn said forcing her eyes to stay open.

“No," she paused for a moment, looked down then back up, "I didn’t tell you I’m a private investigator.”


“Does that bother you?”

“No,” Devlyn smiled.

“Can I ask you a question?” Kelly asked as she unconsciously took Devlyn’s hand in her own and idly rubbed her thumb against it.

“Sure,” Devlyn said tightening her thumb against Kelly's hand.

“What promise was your mom talking about?”

“I always promise to be home for Christmas, doctors say I might be released tomorrow as long as I stay grounded for awhile."

“I’m glad I was able to help you keep your promise,” Kelly said.

“Then you’ll be glad to help me keep my new promise to bring my friends to Christmas dinner,” Devlyn smiled and her eyes slid shut as she breathed out, “OK friend?”

Kelly smiled, “OK friend.”

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