Later, Hannah could not recall how she had made it back to the car, but all of a sudden she was there, inside the old Buick, staring at the traffic that slowly crawled down the road, while her mind frantically tried to make sense of what had happened.
The scene from inside the toy-store kept playing through her mind and, even though the words tumbled together into a numbing mess, four words stood out amidst the constant repetition of sounds and syllables: Rachel has a child.
Hannah honestly did not know what to feel. Her first emotion, after she had read the label inside Nicky's jacket and instantly knew the little girl had been a Kendrick, had been confusion, which was followed by anger. Followed by pain when the little girl had called Rachel 'mommy'.
"God, what a mess," Hannah sighed, using her fingers to rake through her hair in an effort to bring back some order in her windblown locks. She leaned back in the car seat and closed her eyes. The longer she tried to organize her thoughts, the more questions arose.
Where exactly had Rachel been all those years? Why had she come back? Why had she adopted her brother's child? Where was Randy? Had the adoption of Nicky something to do with Rachel's disappearance? Hannah immediately discarded that thought. Impossible. Nicky could not be older than two and Rachel had left almost four years ago.
Three years, ten months and two days, but who's counting? The voice in the back of her head mocked.
Hannah grunted and pressed her forehead against her hands that were clenching the steering wheel.
What does this tell you, Hannah? another voice, sounding suspiciously like her grandmother, asked.
"I don't know," Hannah whispered. "I don't know what to think or what to feel anymore. I just want to go to sleep and wake up, oh, let's say, two years from now."
She sighed and raised her head, just in time to see the first raindrops splatter against the windshield.
"Perfect," Hannah grimaced, reaching for the seat belt so she could buckle herself in. She cast a look in the rearview mirror and pulled a face when she noticed the dark circles underneath her eyes. "Go home, pig out on Gran's brownies and take a long nap this afternoon, Nurse Jensen," she advised herself, after which she started the engine of the car.
The thought of the warm comfort of home, was very consoling and, feeling a little better already, Hannah steered her car away from the parking spot and headed for home.
Of course, Gertrude Jensen immediately sensed something had happened, the minute Hannah had stepped into the room. She was curious, to say the least, but knew that Hannah would tell her in her own time, so she did not ask any questions. Instead, she made them both some hot chocolate, to go with the brownies, and quietly sat across from her granddaughter at the huge kitchen table. Sipping from the hot, sweet beverage, her eyes took in Hannah's thoughtful expression. A small smile tugged on the corner of her mouth, when she noticed Hannah's third attempt to start a conversation. The younger woman took in a deep breath, opened her mouth, but then seemed to change her mind. It remained quiet.
"Why don't you just say it?" she finally encouraged in a soft voice. "You know you want to," she added when Hannah sported a startled look.
"Am I that transparent?" the younger woman asked in an exasperated voice.
"Not always," Gertrude answered truthfully. "But right now, you just look like you're busting at the seams."
Hannah sighed and slowly nodded, grateful for her grandmother's honesty and care. She did need to talk to somebody and Gertrude was absolutely the best choice. But still, it was hard to find the words.
"I don't know where to start," she groaned in frustration.
"Try the beginning," Gertrude replied dryly.
Hannah softly snorted and reached into the back pocket of her jeans. She pulled out a card and pushed it across the table, next to Gertrude's mug of steaming hot chocolate.
"I guess this time, I'll start at the end," Hannah explained.
Raising one eyebrow, Gertrude picked up the card and let her eyes scan the elegantly printed words. The second eyebrow joined the first one when she glanced up and cast her granddaughter a look of surprise.
"I guess the story is how you got this card?"
"Yes, ma' am," Hannah sighed, grateful for her grandmother's insight.
"Just what I thought," Gertrude mumbled. "So, tell me, sweetie, did you run into Rachel while you were shopping?"
"Want to go to the casino today?" Hannah faintly joked. "I feel we could make a fortune."
Gertrude smiled and thoughtfully placed the business card back on the table.
"I take it you two didn't fight," she smiled.
"Because she gave me her card?" Hannah replied. "No, we didn't fight. She wanted to talk, but I...I couldn't. Not yet," she ended in a whisper.
"I'm sure you have a lot of questions though," Gertrude gently prodded.
"I do," Hannah nodded. "But there's just too much to...to think about. I mean," she impatiently pushed back her hair and softly grunted. "I had no idea...of course I had no idea, but...Rachel has a daughter," Hannah sighed. "She adopted Randy's daughter."
Gertrude needed a moment to digest the information Hannah had just provided her with. Whatever she had expected, it wasn't Rachel Kendrick's transition into motherhood. Now she understood Hannah's need to take a step back and catch her breath. It was a lot to take in. Especially since, at one time, Hannah and Rachel had looked forward to starting their own family. Together.
"Randy? Rachel's brother?" Gertrude asked. She had met the youngest Kendrick on a few different occasions and, even though the young man had been utterly charming, Gertrude had always felt a certain tension between the two siblings. It was something she had never been able to put her finger on, but it was there just the same. The relationship Rachel had with her eldest brother, Joe, had been entirely different. They were playful, loving and very at ease with each other. Gertrude smiled. Joe Kendrick had always been the big, protective brother.
"I've always been under the impression that Randy and Rachel had some, let's say, issues," Gertrude stated, carefully choosing her words. "I'm surprised by the turn of events."
"That makes two of us," Hannah mumbled. "It leaves me with so many questions."
"And the only way to get them answered is to talk to Rachel," Gertrude concluded in a gentle voice.
"I know," Hannah sighed.
Gertrude stretched out her hand and covered Hannah's, who was fidgeting with her empty mug.
"It's a big step, honey, I know. But, do you have anything to lose?"
"Granny, do you really have to be so logical about it?" Hannah sighed, but there was a smile in her eyes.
"Somebody has to be," Gertrude answered, lovingly squeezing Hannah's hand. "Besides, I earned the right to be logical. I'm old."
"No, you're not," Hannah answered with indignance.
"Sweetie, I'll be eighty-five next summer. Not exactly a spring-chicken, you know. Besides, you're avoiding the subject. I asked you if you have anything to lose?"
Hannah shook her head and took a deep breath, before answering.
"No, I don't. I guess I could only gain something by talking to Rachel. At least I might get some answers. Finally," she added cynically.
"Then go for it," Gertrude replied, shrugging her shoulders. "Talk to Rachel and hear her out."
Hannah was silent for a few moments, thinking about what her grandmother had just suggested. There had been something about the elderly lady's tone of voice that made her a little suspicious.
"You're approaching this a little...too casually, Gran," she finally spoke, her eyes fixated on Gertrude's face, who stared back at her with an innocent smile.
"If, and I repeat, if I choose to talk to Rachel, I will do that only to get some answers. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and I finally managed to be completely honest with myself. I know I never had any closure and that was partly my own fault." Hannah leaned back in her chair and her face was somber. "Looking back, I feel like I've been standing still. I was afraid to look back and afraid to look forward. With Rachel being back in town, at least I'm forced to do something about that. And I think I will."
"Good," Gertrude smiled. "I'm glad to hear that."
"Just one word of caution though," Hannah warned, leaning forward and looking her grandmother straight into her eyes. "I'll talk to Rachel in order to get some closure, not to get back together."
"Hey," Gertrude replied, holding up both hands in a defense gesture. "Don't give me that look, you remind me of my mother, bless her heart. I think it's wonderful you're willing to talk to her. Just one thing, sweetie."
Gertrude grabbed both Hannah's hand in her own and pinned the younger woman with a serious stare.
"Don't overlook what's in your heart."
Hannah did not try to avert her grandmother's eyes, although she really would have liked to, because it was as if Gertrude could see straight through her. Her grandmother had always had that ability, even when Hannah's parents were still alive. Sometimes that had caused her to feel uncomfortable, but sometimes, like now, it was almost reassuring.
"I won't, Gran," she promised in a soft voice, which earned her a smile from her grandmother.
"That's all I ask of you," Gertrude nodded.
After Hannah had left her and Nicky at the store, Rachel had lost her desire to shop. Her thoughts were with the blonde. She tried hard to remember all the different expressions on Hannah's face, just to reassure herself she had not seen any signs of rejection.
Give it a rest, Rachel, you're just fooling yourself. Hannah is good at hiding her feelings, so, don't get your hopes up. Just make sure your cell phone is on, just in case...
Immediately, Rachel stuck her hand in her purse and pulled out her cell phone. She checked to make sure the battery was charged and she had a signal. When the display showed her she had both, she increased the volume of the ring-tone and put the phone back in her purse.
If Hannah calls and I don't hear it ring, I hope she'll leave a message, Rachel mused.
"Get a grip, Kendrick," she mumbled, annoyed by her own thoughts. "It's very likely Hannah will never give you a call, so, don't count on it."
"Mommy?" Nicky sounded from the stroller. The little girl craned her neck in order to be able to look up at her mother.
"Yes, sweetie, Mommy is losing it, I guess. Let's go home, get into our PJ's and watch Sesame Street for the rest of the day."
"Sesame stweet?" Nicky echoed with a beaming smile.
"You got it, girl," Rachel nodded with a laugh. "Somehow I knew that would catch your attention."
Skillfully, Rachel steered the stroller though the mall, managing not to run into other people's legs and ten minutes later she was on her way home, with a happily chattering toddler strapped into her car seat in the back, trying not to think about the question whether a certain blond nurse would ever give her a call, or not.
"Come on, Hannah, just grab that phone and dial the number. It's not that hard," Hannah mumbled to herself, staring at the cordless phone in her hand.
Her eyes traveled to the wall, where the faces of her parents were smiling at her from the picture that was taken a few months before their accident.
"Yes, I know, Mom," Hannah sighed, almost able to hear her mother encourage her to grab the phone, dial the number and get it over with. Her father would not have said a lot about it, but Hannah knew for a certainty, there would have been a warm sparkle in his clear, blue eyes. He and his wife had always loved Rachel like a daughter and to them, it had been incomprehensible when she had decided to leave Hannah and all their plans for the future, without much of an explanation.
"It's easy, right?" Hannah continued, balancing the phone in her hand. "It's only seven digits. Just punch them in and ...take it from there...Right?" she added in a small voice.
A pair of troubled blue eyes stared back at her from the mirror and Hannah poked out her tongue, before turning around and walking to her bed. She cast a look at her watch and noticed it was almost seven o'clock.
"What if I wake up Nicky?" she mused.
What if you stop making up excuses andjust dial the darn number?
"Alright, alright," Hannah mumbled, taking a seat on the edge of her bed. "I'll do it. Now."
Before I change my mind...
With trembling fingers she punched in the numbers and with a pounding heart she waited for a response. The phone rang once, twice...Hannah let out a slow breath and moistened her dry lips. The phone rang again and just as Hannah had decided Rachel would not answer, a breathless, almost excited:" Hello?" sounded.
Hannah almost jumped when she heard Rachel's voice, mentally slapping herself for a silly response like that.
"Hello?" it sounded again, a little more insecure and inpatient.
"Rachel, hi, it's me, Hannah."
There was a brief silence, in which Rachel, unbeknownst to Hannah, quickly had to grab a chair to sit down, because all of a sudden, her legs felt a little rubbery.
"Hannah," she almost croaked. "Hi."
"Hi," Hannah responded. "I...um..."
"You called," Rachel replied and Hannah could hear a smile in her voice. "Thank you."
"You don't even know exactly why I am calling," Hannah answered, with a small smile of her own. Somehow it was a lot easier to talk to Rachel on the phone than facing her in person.
"That's true," Rachel admitted. "But I know it must have been very hard to pick up the phone and dial my number. So, thank you."
"It wasn't easy," Hannah admitted. "I think I've been staring at the phone for at least thirty minutes."
Rachel could almost picture Hannah, sitting on her bed, cross-legged, dressed in a pair of warm sweat-pants, her blond hair dancing around her face, while her eyes sported a pensive, almost brooding expression.
"I appreciate it, Hannah, I really do," Rachel repeated softly.
"Thank you," it was almost a whisper, before they both went silent.
Hannah cleared her throat and, feeling less nervous now she had taken that first step, decided to be direct.
"You said I could call you if I wanted to talk."
"I did," Rachel admitted. "Any time."
"Alright," Hannah exhaled. "Let's talk." She un-crossed her legs and leaned back against the head board. "Why did you come back?"
Rachel had expected Hannah to ask why she had left and taken aback, she needed a moment to collect her thoughts.
"I could give you a long answer," she finally replied. "But it comes down to the fact that I missed home." And you, always you...
"Home?" Hannah repeated slowly, trying to decide what that one word entailed.
She knew Rachel had never had a strong bond with her family, with the exception of her brother, Joe. But maybe, after she had adopted Nicky, things had changed. It didn't even cross Hannah's mind that Rachel might have missed her. "Where did you go when you...left...?" me.
"Different places," Rachel answered. "I went to San Diego and from there to Boston." Rachel let out a soft snort. "Quite a difference, huh?"
"What did you do?"
"I continued my residency and finally finished in Boston. It was...when I was done I...something happened and I...I decided the best thing was to come back. Especially since I really wanted to."
"I can't say your answers are very elaborate," Hannah sighed, raking her fingers through her hair. "But knowing you, there's a reason for that."
"You haven't lost your touch," Rachel smiled, not aware of how wistful she sounded. "You still seem to know me so well."
"I have changed, Rachel, a lot and I'm sure you have, too," Hannah warned."I'm not the same person anymore."
"I know, Hannah," Rachel sighed, trying to ignore the sting Hannah's words had caused. "I realize that."
Hannah nodded, while she vividly remembered the few times she had interacted with Rachel. The Doctor had changed. It was the way she carried herself, Hannah realized. Rachel radiated a calm self-confidence she had never possessed before. And she seemed a lot more patient than she used to be. The deep warmth of her eyes had not changed at all, and neither had her smile.
Hannah swallowed and took a deep breath. This was not the time to be distracted.
"I'd like to know why you left, Rachel," she finally asked, mentally bracing herself for the answer. "And, please, be honest."
"Of course," Rachel answered in a hoarse voice. "I'll tell you anything you want to know. Anything."
"I hope so," Hannah could not help saying
"There's one thing, though," Rachel hesitated, hoping what she was about to say would not upset Hannah. "It's a long and...complicated story and it would be easier for...both of us if I could show you a few things."
Hannah frowned and took a moment to digest Rachel's words. What on earth was Rachel trying to tell her?
"What do you mean?"
"I know it sounds kind of weird, but, if you would allow me to show you something, I promise it will be a lot clearer."
"You mean, show me...now?"
"If you want, yes," Rachel answered and Hannah suddenly realized the soft timbre of her voice still had a very soothing effect on her.
"How?" Hannah wondered.
"Um...I could come over, or you could come here, or, if you want, we could meet somewhere. It doesn't matter to me. I could call Joe and Melissa and ask them if I can drop off Nicky for a few hours and..."
"I'll come to you," Hannah interrupted, to her own surprise.
"W..what?" Rachel asked, sounding a little surprised.
"It's the most practical and efficient solution," Hannah shrugged. "Unless you'd rather do something else."
"No, absolutely not," Rachel quickly responded. "I...it's very kind of you, Hannah. Thank you."
"How about now?"
Hannah nodded, knowing that if she would have to wait, she would lose her courage and find an excuse to not go through with the plan.
"Alright. I have your address and I'll be leaving within five minutes."
"Do you know the street?" Rachel asked, not wanting Hannah to lose her way in the dark. The neighborhood she lived in was not exactly known for its street lights. The biggest part of the area had no street lights at all and a person could easily get lost in the dark.
"It's off MacArthur, isn't it?"
"Yes, keep going until the very end. I'm at the cul de sac. I'm the only one without Christmas decorations." There was a hint of humor in Rachel's voice and Hannah briefly smiled.
"That must be easy to find then. I'll see you in about fifteen minutes."
"Alright. Drive carefully, Hannah."
Hannah pulled a face, remembering the accident that had landed Rachel back into her life in a hurry. It wasn't as if careful people could not get hurt.
"I will. I'll be right there."
Hannah broke off the connection and tossed the phone on her bed, quickly jumping up to change from her sweat pants into a pair of jeans. She donned a bright blue fleece sweater and grabbed her purse and keys. Not giving herself time to think and change her mind, she stepped out of her room, carefully closing the door behind her.
Rachel had been nervously pacing, looking out of the window every other minute. A ball of nerves had taken up residency in the pit of her stomach and she fervently hoped her already consumed dinner would not make an effort to rear its head in an ugly way.
For the third time she straightened a neatly organized short stack of papers that she had placed on the table. It had been a while since she had taken the time and trouble to go through them, but Hannah's unexpected visit had forced her to dig them up from the bottom of a box. Glancing at them caused her stomach to clench and she could only hope and pray that Hannah would give her the time to explain. No matter how, her side of the story would be very hard to tell.
Rachel almost jumped when, all of a sudden, the headlights of a car made it clear somebody was coming down the street. The car stopped in front of her house and by the pale glow of the light that was mounted on the side of her garage, she could see a familiar blond head.
Almost tripping over one of Nicky's toys, Rachel made her way to the front door and yanked it open.
"Hi," she breathlessly greeted a pale- looking Hannah.
"Hi," Hannah smiled. "Nice place."
"Thank you," Rachel nodded, stepping aside and gesturing Hannah to come in. "I have the fireplace going. It's cold outside."
She remembers, Hannah mused, while her heart pounded in her chest. She knows I hate cold.
"Take a seat, Hannah," Rachel the sitting area. "Make yourself at...make yourself comfortable," she quickly corrected herself. She could only wish Hannah would make herself at home, but Rachel knew there was a slim chance of that happening.
Hannah wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans and choose a chair close to the fire. She knew she would be hot with her polar fleece, but she didn't care. She preferred the heat over the cold anyway.
"Can I get you something to drink?" Rachel asked, hoping she didn't sound as nervous as she felt.
"No, thank you," Hannah politely declined. "Maybe later."
"Alright," Rachel answered, taking a seat and staring at the papers on the table that was in between them.
Hannah had noticed the nervous look in Rachel's eyes and she wondered what Rachel needed to tell her that had required her to come over. The last twenty minutes she had wracked her brain to come up with all the possible scenarios she could be confronted with that evening. The one that kept coming back was the same one that had haunted her for years: Rachel had left her for another woman.
The Doctor nervously rubbed her hands together and took a deep breath. She knew she would only have one shot at it. She felt that if she would blow the chance to explain, she would lose Hannah forever.
"I know you must be...real curious, about all this," she started. "And like I told you over the phone, it's better for me to show you." Rachel leaned forward and grabbed the stack of papers from the table. She removed the top one and handed it to Hannah, who accepted it with a small frown.
"I would like you to read this first, if that's okay with you."
"Sure," Hannah responded in a soft voice. She turned a little towards the light and started reading, while Rachel's eyes, full of tension, never left her face. After only a few seconds, Rachel noticed a slight trembling in Hannah's hands and she had to suppress the urge to jump up, take a seat next to the blonde and protectively wrap an arm around her shoulders.
In the meantime, Hannah tried to grasp the meaning of the words that were staring at her from the page she was holding.
Haven't I warned you? How many times do you need to hear this? I told you to stay away. I also told you what will happen if you don't. You know the rules. I know you have them. I personally put them in your mailbox. And I know you read them.
Am I serious? Yes. Deadly. Wait and find out.
I saw her first, but you had to push yourself between us. Leave now. It's for the better...
Confused, Hannah looked up from the paper and stared at Rachel with a slightly dazed look.
"What is this?" she asked with a frown.
"It was the first letter I didn't tear up. When I received this one, I decided it might be a good idea to keep them."
"But it's a copy," Hannah replied, wondering what the meaning of the letter was. "Is this what you wanted to show me? That you left me because of a letter?"
Rachel exhaled slowly and took her time to collect her thoughts. Coming up with the right words was essential.
"Yes, it's a copy. The police have the original, or rather, originals. There were quite a few. And I didn't leave you because of a letter. I left because, at the time, I was made to believe it was the only way to protect you."
"Protect me?" Hannah echoed, suddenly sitting up straight in the comfortable chair. "But...how...why...protect me from whom? Rachel, I don't understand."
Rachel rubbed her forehead, while she was trying to come up with an answer that would sound logical. It was a long and complicated story and, even though she was willing to tell Hannah each and every detail, it was hard to decide where to begin.
"I'll start at the beginning," Rachel sighed, taking the remaining papers off the table and clenching them in her hands. "At least, at what I think is the beginning."
Hannah noticed that her brown eyes were almost black in the dimly lit room and the light of the crackling fire in the fireplace cast a bronze hue on Rachel's skin, making her look even more beautiful than she remembered. She was a picture of pensive serenity and drinking in the woman's features caused a sweet pain deep inside Hannah's chest.
"Do you remember when we first met?" Rachel asked in a wistful voice, letting her eyes slowly travel up until they met Hannah's.
"I do," the blonde softly answered, hoping Rachel would not be able to see the moisture in her eyes. She swallowed hard. "Is...is this part of...what you want to tell me?"
"Bear with me, please." Rachel almost whispered.
Hannah nodded and cleared her throat. Her heart was beating wildly and she had to take a few calming breaths; it was hard to be confronted with the past.
"I...um...we met at The Bean. I had just started nursing college and had a part-time job there as a waitress and you...," Hannah took a deep breath. "You were the quiet student who always came in around eight, ordered some coffee and buried yourself in your books." Hannah looked up and noticed the half-smile that tugged on the corner of Rachel's mouth. The Doctor seemed to be lost in thought.
"And then I dropped that cup of fat-free Cappuccino Mocha on your Microbiology book," Hannah continued. "You didn't know whether to scream at me or laugh and I felt so bad I offered you free coffee for a month."
"Which got you fired," Rachel smiled.
"I'm still not sure if it was the offer or the fact I dumped all that coffee on you," Hannah replied with small twinkle in her eyes. "No matter what it was, we both ended up out in the street that evening."
"Your boss was a jerk," Rachel mumbled, frowning at the memory.
"I think he did me a favor," Hannah sighed. "If he hadn't fired me, I probably wouldn't have found that job at the bookstore."
"You might have a point," Rachel nodded, fondly remembering all the endless evenings she had spent in the bookstore, reading and studying, waiting for Hannah to finish work so she could drive her home.
There was a brief silence in which Rachel studied the face of the woman who was sitting opposite from her. The soft glow of the fire painted Hannah's hair a golden copper, while the dancing flames were reflected in her clear blue eyes. Her face had lost some of its youthfulness, Rachel noticed, but it had left her with a depth she had not possessed before. She had matured and, to Rachel, she had never looked more attractive.
"What?" Hannah asked, intercepting Rachel's pensive eyes.
"Nothing," the Doctor shook her head.
How can I tell you that you're so beautiful, I can hardly stand it?
"So, what does our meeting for the first time have anything to do with you walking out on me?"
Rachel imperceptibly winced at the choice of Hannah's words, knowing full well she had to take responsibility for her own choices and actions, no matter the consequences.
"I'll come to that a little later, I promise," she answered in a husky voice.
I have hurt her, Hannah immediately realized with increasing confusion. I don't understand. Rachel hurt me, and yet, she's in pain, I can see it in her eyes. What's going on?
"Read this," Rachel handed Hannah a second letter and without saying a word, the blonde accepted the piece of paper and started reading.
Enclosed you'll find a few nice snapshots. I'd suggest you'd study them closely; you might recognize a few subjects...
Don't think I can't touch her. I can do so much more than you think I'm capable of.
One last advice; take me seriously...walk away...
"Alright," Hannah sighed, carefully putting the letter on the table. For some strange reason, holding the paper made her feel uneasy. "These two letters look a little...threatening to me. What are the snapshots?"
"These," Rachel answered, handing Hannah a little pile of photographs.
As soon as she looked down at the pictures the Doctor had handed her, Hannah's eyes went wide and she almost dropped the small stack on the floor. Looking back from a photograph was her own face, smiling back at her with dancing blue eyes and windblown hair. It was a close-up, but Hannah didn't have to guess whose hand was lying on her shoulder. She had no clue when the picture had been taken, but judging by the blurry background, it had been somewhere at a lake. Probably Lake Tenkiller or Eufala.
The next picture was also a close-up, but this time it was Hannah stepping through the front door of her parents' house. The third one was taken from a distance and it showed her exiting a Wal-Mart.
"Where do these pictures come from?" Hannah asked with a trembling voice, glancing up at Rachel with troubled eyes. "What does all this mean, Rachel?"
"Somebody was stalking us. Especially you," she quietly explained. "At first I just shrugged it off, because I thought it was a joke. A sick joke," she sighed. "But a joke just the same. But, when I didn't respond, the letters became more serious and more threatening."
"Did you...?" Hannah hesitated, trying to comprehend what Rachel was trying to tell her.
"Yes, I went to the police, finally," Rachel grunted, pushing her hair away from her forehead. "I should have done that immediately, before things got out of control."
"Out of control?" Hannah swallowed. "How?"
Rachel tried to smile, but failed miserably when she took in the pain that radiated from the blue eyes that stared at her with a mixture of disbelief and confusion.
"I hate to do this to you, Hannah, but, read this," Rachel replied, handing Rachel a third letter.
Hannah had to hold the sheet of paper with both hands, to be able to read the neatly printed words. Her fingers were visibly trembling and when her eyes flew over the letter, her whole body started shaking.
This is your very last chance. If things will get out of control, people will get hurt and you will be responsible. I told you to leave Hannah alone. Obviously, you can't. Tell you what, if I can't have her, neither can you.
Last chance: leave, or she'll get hurt. I can do it, you know I can. I have the pictures to prove it. I have been in her room. You have the picture of my angel while she was asleep. I didn't hurt her then, but believe me, next time I will. It's up to you.
Stay, and she'll die. Leave, and she'll live.
Have a good life, Doctor
Feedback is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
To be continued in part 5
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