Slowly I became aware of a distant beeping noise somewhere near me. As I woke up more there were sounds of heavy breathing. I tried opening my eyes but seriously why would I want to leave this warm fuzzy feeling. I fit weren’t for that irritating beeping noise I probably would have allowed myself to sink back into the nothingness that surrounded me. As I woke up slightly more I realized both of my hands were held in someones hands tightly. I chanced opening my eyes for just a moment to see who was in the room with me. It was darkened in the room but I instantly recognized a few things at once. 1. I was once again in the hospital and 2. both men were at my side each holding a hand sleeping on the sides of my bed. I thought for several long seconds trying to recall exactly why I was in here.
I knew I didn’t have amnesia again because I remembered Ryder and Gabe. Everything from the party slowly came back to me as I laid there staring at the ceiling. Jackson had come for me. I was prepared though. But what happened after I hit the floor? I guess that was the real question wasn’t it. Gabe appeared fine which means he got away. Was Jackson still out there? Could I really face the people from my past and put everything behind me with the evidence Jackson let out in front of everyone? Was he going to come for me again? Were any of them coming behind Jackson? I would definitely have to leave if that was the case.
Having a gun pointed at the only people I have ever loved and the only people who have ever loved me can never happen again. I would leave them if it meant protecting them from my past. I’m not sure how I would get around them though. I’m sure after this they are going to be keeping me at their sides twenty four seven. I can’t allow them to get hurt just because I was stupid enough to get close to them, to allow them into my life. At first I was simply afraid of the fact that they made me feel. They brought me out of my little world, out of my comfort zone. They terrified me but I couldn’t resist the pull I felt to them no matter how it made me feel. The time when I couldn’t remember who I was brought us so much closer than I thought it possible for humans to be. They meant the world to me. That meant protecting them with everything I had even if I had to lose them to do so which would probably kill me inside.
“I don’t like whatever it is you’re thinking right now.” I jumped as Gabe’s voice sounded over the top of me. Apparently he had been watching me think. I saw his hand flash over to tap Ryder awake. I watched as his eyes slowly opened until he saw my face. He sat up like he had been shot grabbing my face in his hands and pressing his lips gently to mine. “She was thinking about something neither of us are going to like. I’m pretty sure it’s not something we’re going to allow either if her expressions are any indication of what’s on her mind.”
Ryder sat back staring into my eyes like he could decipher what his brother was talking about simply by looking at me. I don’t doubt that he could either. “Care to share what’s on your mind?” Ryder’s voice was gravely as if he hadn’t been sleeping long and seriously needed more sleep. I couldn’t look away from the intensity in his eyes. I knew I was in a hospital. I knew somewhere around me there was a beeping. I knew if I looked away the walls would be white, the cabinets would be brown. I knew I would see the machine that would currently be giving away my accelerated heart beat. None of those things penetrated my brain as I faced down the two men I loved more than anything in this world.
“Where is Cammy?” That was the first thing I could think of to distract them from their current thoughts.
“She’s at home. She’s fine. She was here until we forced her to go get some sleep. Now tell us what you were thinking about that has my brother so agitated.” Ryder seemed to be very much in control of this situation.
“I need to know what happened. I need to know if Jackson is going to come after me again. If he’s going to come after either of you again. I need to know if any of the rest of that family might have even the slightest clue how to get to me.” I said all of this quietly hoping they would simply give me answers and take that as all I was thinking about.
" You’re safe Scarlet. Jackson is in jail. That entire family that tormented you is in jail baby. There were too many witnesses some of whom recorded Jackson’s confession while you kept him talking. Everything has been handed over to the police. Gabe slipped away to hide Cammy and came back with your security detail that were just waiting for an opening to take him out. When I saw Gabe tackle Jackson I knocked you to the floor trying to protect you from any stray shots. I shouldn’t have worried because Gabe stood between Jackson and you so he couldn’t have shot you if he wanted to. They managed to knock the gun out of his hand and Gabe beat the hell out of him. By the time he was done Jackson was unconscious, the police were called and security literally dragged Jackson off the boat. I wish you had been awake to see his head thump off of every step. The police have been by twice to see if you have regained consciousness. The last time they were here they let us know that the people in question from up north have been located and placed into custody waiting on charges for everything that’s been done to you. They will need a statement from you. You will have to testify. Unfortunately the nightmare isn’t completely over but it’s pretty damn close. Now what else were you thinking about?” He simply sat looking at me as still as a statue while Gabe did the same like they could wait forever if they had to for my answer.
" I was thinking about you. Both of you and Cammy, the only people who have ever mattered to me facing the end of a gun because of me. Because my past found me. I couldn’t protect any of you at that time but I was determined it would be different. I never wanted...” I didn’t get any more out before I found myself on the receiving end of a very heated kiss. Gabe had apparently heard enough and if the hard way his lips were caressing mine were any indication he was not happy with what he heard.
A throat clearing in the background had Gabe finally allowing me to breath. I looked up to find an older man in a white coat standing at the end of the bed. He was the safest thing in the room to look at since I could feel the anger and intensity rolling off the twins on either side of me. I knew we were interrupted but this was far from over. I would have to soothe both men as soon as the doctor left. He had silver hair covering his oval face. His eyes seemed sunken slightly as if he had a rough night along with everyone in this room. Which led me to another question. How long had I been asleep for? And what time was it? I simply sat staring into the brown eyes of the plump man in front of me who seemed to be waiting for me to say something.
He cleared his throat again before addressing the room at large. “I don’t think our patient should be taking part in that kind of activity at least not on hospital property. My name is Dr. Shelting. I’ve been overseeing your care young lady. You have been here for around 24 hours. I’m glad to see that you are finally awake. I was beginning to worry that it was more than stress and fatigue that brought you here. We have run numerous tests while you’ve been asleep to rule out any other possibilities. Can you tell me if you remember everything? I obviously don’t mean everything as your charts indicate you have been suffering from amnesia but the last twenty-four hours?” He seemed to start rambling as he flashed his light into my eyes and checked the pulse in my wrist. He finally quit as he attached a blood pressure cuff to my arm.
“Actually I remember much more than the last twenty-four hours. I have regained my memories of my past.” I couldn’t decide if I wanted him to quit poking and prodding me and leave or stick around and not leave me to the fate that was waiting to boil out of the two men next to me.
“That could explain why it took you so long to wake up. Regaining your memories on top of all the trauma you have been through recently all at once would certainly make your body shut down. There are some things I would like to discuss with you. This may be hard for you to hear and if you’d rather we can ask these two gentlemen to leave the room so we can speak privately.” Before the final words even left his mouth both Ryder and Gabe exploded to the point where I had to cover my ears to prevent myself from going deaf. They argued with the doctor about leaving until he threatened to have them removed from the hospital all together. When the pain increased in my head that I curled onto my side shielding my head as best I could from the sheer volume of noise everything finally went silent. I felt hands slide across my back and my hair as my head calmed from the pounding.
“Are you okay love? I’m sorry we weren’t thinking. I’m so sorry. We aren’t leaving you though no matter what the doctor has to say. There is noway after everything that has happened that we are leaving your side.” Ryder whispered soothingly into my ear until my arms finally loosened the pressure I was putting on my head. The pain slowly receded as I laid there concentrating on breathing.
" She should be fine in a moment however if we could refrain from loud noises around her for a few days that would probably be best. She should remain stress free as well. I understand some of the things I need to tell her may cause stress and if you are here that may alleviate some of that but if she chooses to hear everything alone I can’t prevent her from doing so. It’s doctor patient confidentiality. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave just that if she chooses you too I will have security remove you if I must. I have to let her know all of her choices legally. I can see that you two care deeply for her however my patient comes before anything.” Now that he was able to be heard over the roar the men had let out at the suggestion of being forced to leave they seemed to calm down knowing I would never ask that they be removed.
“I want them to stay. There isn’t anything that you could say to me that they can’t hear.” My words were muffled as I still had my face pressed into the bed. The echo of the pain still ricocheted around inside my head. I listened as Dr. Shelting ordered a nurse to bring something for my head and couldn’t help but feel grateful. We waited until the nurse came in quietly and fiddled with my IV before just as quietly leaving the room.
“Do you think you can sit up now? I know the things I have to tell you won’t be pleasant but I need to let you know what we’ve found as the police have already been told.” The doctors words seemed to catch everyone’s attention a few minutes later. At my nod hands surrounded me helping me into a sitting position. When I could finally focus I found both men on the bed on either side of me and the doctor on the end of the bed. “I spoke with the police shortly after you were brought in. They asked that if in any of my scans I found old injuries or anything along those lines to let them know. I’m sorry to say that I have found several. You have old fractures in both your left arm, both legs, your right wrist and even a small mark on your skull. They don’t appear to have healed properly which indicates you did not have proper care after the injuries. These same injuries appear to be very old. Along with all of these thing I found severe scarring in your uterus indicating you have suffered severe trauma in your lower abdomen area. This scarring will make ever having children difficult. It’s certainly not impossible but it will be difficult to conceive. Can you tell me how these injuries were caused?” Nothing he said surprised me. I had regained that portion of my memory. I knew when and where my bones were broken, what kind of internal damage may have been caused by my childhood.
“I can however I would appreciate if the police that wanted a statement from me were here so that I don’t have to tell it more than once. I would also ask that these men are not forced to leave as they will make things easier for me to tell the entire story.” The doctor simply nodded and left the room. Ryder and Gabe slid their arms around me holding me tightly as we waited for him to return. Apparently a truce had been called on their previous anger due to the headache and the upcoming statement I had to give.
“This is all going to be over before you know it and then you will be free Scarlet. I promise we will make you happier than you have ever been before. We will make sure you have kids in your future.” Gabe’s words brought a fresh wave of tears to my eyes as my entire insides swelled with love for these two men.
“We’ll make sure your future is filled with laughter, adventure, memories worth having. We’ll make sure you know every second of every day just how much you are truly loved.” I guess Ryder didn’t want to be left out.
“I love you. Both of you.” My words were hoarse and only a whisper as I tried to speak around the lump in my throat.
The doctor reentered with two very stern looking police officers. The first to enter had dark brown hair and green eyes that looked hard. The second had slightly lighter hair and brown eyes. Neither man had so much as a wrinkle in their uniforms. They stood at easily six-feet tall. This was going to be hard but not nearly as hard as if I had to do it alone. They had one of those old fashioned tape recorders you see in a collage classroom for students taking notes. Thank goodness I wouldn’t have to repeat much for them to write notes.
It took hours to go over my entire childhood. Hours in which I would get choked up thinking about that poor broken little girl. I would have to take a break every now and then and just feel the twins next to me, remind myself I was no longer that scared, broken little girl. I went through everything. My first memories, when I thought Jackson had broken my insides. Being locked in closets, held under water until I choked and couldn’t breath, being smacked, kicked, punched, hit with objects, the encouragement of the mistreatment by the other children. I went through every thing that was painful, everything that still haunted me. It felt like I was purging everything that was inside me. Once I actually started I knew I had to get every drop of evil out before I could stop. No one spoke. No one asked any questions. They all sat and listened as I explained how my arm had been twisted to the point of breaking, how my leg had probably been broken when my step father stomped it into the floor eventually grinding his foot into me, laughing manically while I screamed, I explained how the small irrigation pond deep in the fields was my first friend, how after we moved it was a nearby crick.
I went through each and every time I was raped by not only Jackson but his friends as well. I went through the pain and terror that I had lived in that they would one day find me. I went through what happened when I was finally found, the things Jackson had done and said. I went through everything I could remember of the party before I passed out under Ryder. When I finally quit speaking I sunk back into the arms of both men surrounding me, waiting to support me when everything was finally out. Silence rang around the room as everyone seemed to try and absorb everything I had said. My story wasn’t a happy one but if what Ryder and Gabe said was true it could be. I could finally breath. Finally be happy.
" I think we have everything we need ma’am. I’m not sure if you have been told or not but with the other witnesses present we have sent word up north and rounded up every name on our list. They are all in custody and with this statement I’m sure they will stay that way for a very longtime. You will have to testify, probably via video for those out of state, but for the most part we want you to know that you are safe and that this won’t last much longer. There’s too much evidence against these people for them to get away with this any longer. They will pay for what they put you through.” Mr. Brown eyes had gone from being stone faced to looking at me softly before he finally exited the room. His partner lingered as if something was on his mind.
“Ma’am I am truly sorry for everything you have gone through. You are one hell of a strong woman. This isn’t pity I feel just so you’re aware. It’s admiration that you could go through what you have and not only maintain your sanity but have the ability to be kindhearted and love others as you obviously do. And it’s easy enough to see that you are truly loved as well. I wanted to wish you the best for wherever your future takes you just know you don’t have anything to fear any longer.” With that he stepped out of the room followed by silently by the doctor. A few moments later a nurse came in with something in her hand.
“This is just a small shot to help you sleep. You two have been given permission to stay but it is requested that you not disturb the patient. If everything goes okay you can be released as early as tomorrow. For now try to relax so the medicine will work better and get some much needed sleep young lady.” As soon as whatever she put in my IV hit my system I slumped more heavily into Ryder and Gabe my eyes drifting shut.
“Please don’t leave me. Stay. I need you here.” I grabbed both of them begging with what I’m sure were incoherent words as I felt them shift around me.
“Shh baby. We’re not going anywhere. We were just getting comfortable. Sleep now we’ll be here when you wake up.” The last of his words sounded as if they were coming from a distance as I allowed myself to sink into the darkness that was surrounding me.