Disclaimers see part one
As always, thank you Cyndi for betareading for me. You are a great friend!
Without thinking twice, Lucy pushed her mother in the car, slammed the door and ran across the other side to get in herself.
Within seconds she had started the engine and took off with breakneck speed.
" What are you doing, Lucy? What is going on?" Joan McDonnell asked for the fourth time, her own problems and misery forgotten.
" I'll tell you later, mom, but we have to get the hell out of here."
" But...but I heard a shot. Was that a gun? Shouldn't we...?"
" Absolutely not," Lucy interrupted, her face pale, but grim. " That shot is one of the best reasons to leave."
Her eyes darted from the rearview mirror to the road ahead and back again. Restless. Worried. Agitated. Her heart was pounding and the palms of her hands were sweaty. The death grip on the steering wheel turned her knuckles white and Lucy did her best not to panic.
" I'll explain later, mom, I promise. But first we have to get out of here."
" Where are we going ?"
That was a good question. In the past few minutes Lucy had cursed herself numerous times for being so stupid to forget her cell phone. She could have had her mother calling Sam and Jody. And the police. That was the answer. The police. She would drive to the police station. They would be safe there.
A look in the rearview mirror told Lucy that they were followed by a car that was recklessly ignoring all traffic lights and stop signs she and her mother had just passed. Inwardly Lucy cursed. They were running out of time. The police station was a few miles away and there was way too much traffic to really speed up. Not that it prevented the ones that followed them.
When she had heard Brian calling out to her, one look had been enough for Lucy to know that the two men that were inside The Reef were the ones that had been following Sam and Jody. She realized they were looking for them. She had seen it in the look of the larger man's eyes. He recognized her, even though she had never seen him before. But knowing that they had been after Fiona made her realize they had recognized her as being Jody's sister.
The gunshot still echoed in her ears and with a sickening feeling she just knew that Brian must have been shot. She had seen him falling to the ground, trying to sweep the man behind him from his feet.
O, God. And now he's after us. Please, let me make it in time. We have to make it to the police station. I have to let Sam know. And Jody. This is getting out of hand. Damn! Why did I forget my cell phone?
The car behind her came closer and Lucy softly whimpered, knowing she had to speed up to stay out of their reach.
" Hold on, mom," she hissed through clenched teeth.
She increased the speed, going nearly fifty miles an hour where she was only allowed to do thirty five. All her muscles tensed when she saw a big truck turning into her lane and desperately she changed lanes, squeezing her car in the small opening left between the truck and a bus, ignoring the honking and obscene gestures her actions had caused. Joan McDonnell muffled a scream and closed her eyes, digging her fingers into the soft leather of her purse to stop her fingers from trembling.
With some skill and a lot of luck, Lucy was able to keep her car from skidding and she softly mumbled a curse, realizing she had been holding her breath. She let out a shuddering sigh and cast a look on the road behind her. With satisfaction she saw that her pursuers had not been able to over take the truck and her panic eased a few notches.
" But Jody, there's nothing wrong with going for a little walk, " Fiona whined. " I will stay around the house, I promise. I really need some fresh air! I'm suffering from a bad case of cabin fever here, you know. You don't want me going insane, do you?"
" Why would you go insane?" Jody sighed, trying not to see the pleading look on her younger sister's face.
" Because all the symptoms are here, " Fiona quickly answered. " I am locked up, under a lot of stress, I am bored and extremely intelligent. That's all it takes to go stir crazy, I swear."
A soft chuckle from the porch directed her attention to Sam, who was listening to the conversation between the two siblings, but was clever enough not to interfere.
" Say something, Sam!" Fiona urged, thinking Sam might be more willing to give in than her sister.
A pair of twinkling blue eyes looked from Fiona to Jody and back again. Slowly Sam shook her head.
" You might be extremely intelligent," she grinned. " But I am not suicidal. Jody is right, you should stay inside for a while."
Seeing the disappointment on the girl's face, Sam quickly took a step in her direction and put a comforting hand on Fiona's shoulder.
" It's not safe, Fi, " she explained, her face deadly serious. " I know this place is pretty isolated, but there's no telling who or where those...scumbags are and I don't think it would be wise to go off wandering on your own. But I promise you this: I will take you out for a walk later this afternoon. Okay? We can hike up the hill for a little while and you can get some fresh air."
Fiona shrugged her shoulders and stared at her feet for a while, before accepting Sam's offer.
" Can I come too?" Jody asked with a little voice, pouting, but with eyes full of mirth.
Sam frowned and looked at Fiona as asking her for permission.
" I don't know. What do you think Fiona? Can she come with us? I can't remember if she's one of those girls who faint when they see a snake. I really don't want to carry her back."
Fiona grinned, her sour mood forgotten and she looked at her siser's indignant face, suddenly feeling the need to wickedly add more fuel.
" I'm not sure, Sam, " she drawled, a frown creasing her forehead. " I do remember one time when we were out camping and Jody came running out of the tent, screaming her head off, because there was ' something' crawling in her sleeping bag. It wasn't exactly cool, outdoor behavior, you know. She might be just a little too much like a city girl."
" That ' something' happened to be a red belly black snake, you little troublemaker," Jody defended herself, genuinely insulted this time. " If you had been me, you would have run just as fast, I'm sure."
Sam laughed and wrapped an arm around her lover's shoulder, enjoying the pink flush on Jody's face.
" Watch out, Fi, she's turning into a little spitfire here."
She bend down and quickly kissed Jody's forehead.
" Who got rid of the snake?"
Fiona and Jody exchanged looks and suddenly burst out laughing.
" Mom did," Jody explained. " She made us all stand back, grabbed a long stick and dragged the sleeping bag out of the tent. Bird was yelling at her not to kill the snake, because it wasn't his fault we decided to pick out that spot for pitching our tents up. Fiona started arguing with him about the snake's gender. I was yelling at mom to be careful and Matthew was yelling at all of us to keep our mouths shut, because mom couldn't concentrate."
" I think the noise we made created so much vibration that the snake made a run for it, " Fiona smirked. " Or rather, a slither."
Sam smirked and was about to make a smart comment when her cell phone started buzzing. With a shrug of her shoulders and an apologetic look she pulled her Nokia out of her pocket and pressed ' talk'.
Jody and Fiona, who were both watching Sam's face, saw her face get drained from all color, until she was as white as a sheet. Unconciously Jody reached out and grabbed Sam's arm, her eyes dark with worry.
They locked gazes and Jody noticed Sam's clear blue eyes turning dark, cold and distant.
Sam didn't say much to the person on the phone. She nodded a few times and ended the conversation with a grim: " I'll be there as soon as possible."
After she ended the call and tucked away her cell phone she looked at Jody. Seeing the concern on her lover's face, her eyes softened. Gently she put a hand on Jody's shoulder and pushed her down in a chair, while she squatted down in front of her, taking Jody's hands in her own.
" What?" Jody whispered, knowing something bad had happened.
Sam swallowed a few times and took a deep breath.
" Brian has been shot," she finally answered.
The healthy color on Jody's face rapidly disappeared and Sam could feel her friend's fingernails digging into the palms of her hands.
" They brought him to Tweed Heads hospital and he's in surgery right now. His condition is critical. Apparently he lost a lot of blood." Sam sighed and rubbed her eyes in a tired gesture. " He was shot in the abdomen."
Jody's tried to moisten her dry lips and mouth. Her hands still held Sam's in a death grip and the freckles in her face vividely stood out against her pale skin.
" W..What happened?"
" Two men were in the lobby, with Brian. They were walking toward the door when Brian fell down and tried to kick one of them. The guy pulled a gun and shot him."
" The guy who was after me?" Fiona suddenly asked, her voice hardly more than a whisper.
Sam looked up into the face of the distressed teenager and although she didn't answer immediately, Fiona knew the answer.
" O, my God."
" And the same one that was in my apartment?" Jody asked, her eyes wide.
" I think so," Sam sighed. " It's all linked together."
" We should call the police and see if...."
" It was Carol Wong who just called me, honey," Sam interrupted. " She's at The Reef right now and I think it's best if we go over there and see her. After that I want to go to the hospital, see how Brian is doing"
Fiona pushed away the hair that was falling over her forehead and looked at Sam with a lost expression in her eyes.
" Where do I go?"
" You come with us," Sam immediately answered. " I am not letting you, or Jody out of my sight. Not until this whole mess is cleared up and over and done with."
Fiona looked relieved and at that moment there wasn't much left of the brash teenager with more guts than sense.
Sam's cell phone rang again and with an impatient gesture she pulled it from it's confines.
" Hello? Lucy? I....WHAT? You were there? ....Where are you now? ....Did you...? ..Okay....right. No, they are both here, with me. ..No, I will leave nobody behind...We'll be on our way now. Okay, see you later."
With a grunt Sam pressed her face against Jody's shoulder, immediately feeling an arm slipping around her shoulder, pulling her closer.
" Okay, spill it. " Jody's voice sounded near her ear. " What is it this time?"
Sam let out a deep sigh and raised her face from it's comfortable place. For a moment she wished it was all a dream. That she and Jody could celebrate and enjoy their newfound love and retreat to some tropical island where the biggest worry would be not to get sunburnt. But, reality was so different and if wishes were fishes....
" Lucy is at the police station. She was at The Reef when Brian got shot."
Sam heard the sharp intake of breath and gently cupped Jody's face.
" She's okay, Jody. She's fine and she is safe. The guys that shot Brian came after her, but thank God your sister is smart! She went straight to the police station and for the time being, she will stay there."
Sam saw the relief on Jody's face and smiled reassuringly.
" With your mom," she added.
" My mom?" Jody echoed." What...?"
" I don't know, sweetheart," Sam answered. " I only know they are both there, they are both safe and won't go anywhere until we all know what the hell happened this morning. Okay?"
Sam slowly stood up, wincing when a sharp pain shot through her right leg, usually a warning to take it easy on her never entirely healed limb.
" You okay?" Jody asked softly, jumping from the chair and grabbing Sam's arm.
Sam nodded and smiled weekly.
" My bad leg," she explained. " I'll be fine, as long as I don't have to drive today."
" I'll drive," Jody said, grabbing the car keys from the table. " Let's go."
In spite of the coolness of the operating room, the surgeon felt the beads of sweat forming on her forehead. She and her team were working frantically to try and stop the excessive bleeding of the patient, while looking for the injuries that caused it. Taking her eyes from bloody scene below her hands, her dark brown eyes looked for one of the nurses, who immediately understood the unspoken request and wiped the doctor's face with a soft cloth.
" Thanks," she mumbled, fully concentrating on her difficult and responsible task again.
Dabbing the tissue with another sterile gauze her keen eyes finally found what she was looking for.
" The spleen," she said calmly, trying not to think about the fact that the life of the young man on her table was entirely in her hands now. " We have to take it out. Paul, take care of that artery. Missy, what are his vitals?"
The anaesthesiologist looked at the hissing and beeping machines in front of her.
" Temperature 36,2, Pulse 116, BP 78/49," came the immediate response.
" Get two more units of blood and squeeze in 500 saline. We don't want him to go into shock."
The only sounds heard were produced by the machines that were guarding Brian's life, now and then interrupted by a soft command or question.
The surgeons worked rapidly, making sure no time was wasted, losing all track of time, until finally the shattered spleen was removed and the bleeding had stopped.
" Okay people. Let's look him over one more time, make sure we didn't miss anything. Make sure his stomach, kidney and colon are in one piece. It looks like it was only the spleen. Guess he was lucky. Vitals Missy?"
" Temperature 36,1, Pulse 92, BP 91/ 68."
" Let's keep him stable, shall we? Right. It's up to you now, kiddo."
" I can't believe you just shot him," Fred hissed, his eyes squinted. " Are you insane?"
" Shut up, Fred. You know nothing! He was trying to take me out."
" You could have easily kicked him, you didn't need to shoot him!"
" He would have recognized us, you moron! Are you stupid?"
" No, you are," Fred almost screamed. " There were more people around, or didn't you see that? What was the plan? Shooting them all?"
" He warned the bitch," Little Steven barked. " We had a chance to get her and he was in the way. It's as simple as that. Or did you forget that Joe will feed us to the sharks when we screw up huh? Did you forget?"
" No, I didn't forget," Fred snapped back. " But how would you call what just happened? A smooth operation? We screwed up anyway, you idiot."
" Who are you calling an idiot?" Little Steven fumed. " I was trying to save your skin as well, you little shit!"
" Yeah, right! And when did you care about my skin? That's a first."
" I'd suggest you keep your mouth shut, Freddie," Little Steven grumbled. " I can shoot you as easily as I shoot him, ya know. And it will give me much more pleasure doing it as well."
Fred shot a glance at the large man sitting beside him. He knew Little Steven wasn't making empty threats. But somehow the violence he had just witnessed, made him aware of the mistakes he had made joining as one of Joe Michaels's ' employees' .
Without thinking he opened the door of the car.
" I'm out, " he said. " Forget it. I won't have any part in this. You guys are crazy."
" Set one foot out of this car and I will shoot you," Little Stevens voice whispered, very calm and very determined.
Fred turned around to look straight into the barrel of a gun, that was pointed at his head. His face turned pale, but his eyes still shone with a determined fire.
" You will do me a favor," he laughed humorlessly. " Help me out of my misery."
" Or maybe I should go after your sister," Little Steven grinned, his eyes cold. " Don't look so surprised, Freddie. Or didn't you know that Joe does his homework. He knows all about your sweet daddy and the reason why you ran away from home. He also knows you have a sister, a sweet, teenage sister. How would you like us to feed her to the sharks, huh? Of course after we had some fun with her first."
" You filthy, sick son of a bitch!" Fred whispered, his eyes wide with horror. " leave my sister out of this."
" Only if you stay put, Freddie my boy. Be good and listen to what I say. The choice is yours."
Fred felt the tears in the back of his eyes and he desperately tried to blink them away, not wanting his companion to see them. Slowly, very slowly he sank back into his seat, closing the door with a soft click.
" Good boy, " Little Steven grinned, very pleased with himself. " I knew I could count on you."
Continued in part 11
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