Chapter 24 - Hook, Line & Sinker
They pushed her into the elevator and then onto a different floor. Then they shoved doors aside, people moved, the bed was propelled forward, and they didn’t stop until they reached a small room with a team of people who looked like they’d been waiting for her arrival.
“This won’t hurt,” the woman said in a soft voice, “Blink if you understand.”
Jill blinked once, then the woman put a plastic wand against her skin on the neck. It was coated in something cold and slimy but didn’t cause her any pain. The people in the room, including Doctor Peters, didn’t look at her. They were all focused on a small monitor that wasn’t pointed in her direction. She heard a collective sigh, from what sounded like the whole room, as the wand was held still in one place for a longer than before.
“Jill,” Doctor Peters said as they removed the probe and wiped the slimy stuff off her, “It’s good news. You’re going to be fine. We are going to take you to an examination room, remove that and put a couple of stitches in. Then we take you back to Tom. We should know what drug she’s given you by then.”
She released a long breath. She was safe. They pushed her slowly to a small room, they injected her with something that numbed the area, and then without any ceremony, Doctor Peters slid the knife carefully out from where it was stuck. Everyone smiled and seemed to exhale at the same time, as it came free and then he leant down low as he carefully put three stitches closing off the opening.
“You’re very lucky,” Howard said as he sutured, “No tendons or muscular damage and it was resting against but not puncturing an artery. You will have a scar to show for it, but it could have been a lot worse.”
He lifted his head and must have noticed the fresh tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he frowned, “That wasn’t me being insensitive. I would never have guessed that Catherine would do anything like that. Tom is like a son to me. I’ve watched him grow up and I know how he feels about you. It means a lot to me that he’s so happy.”
She blinked her eyes and hoped that he could see how much she appreciated that. She felt something happen as she did. Her mouth moved. She smiled. She pushed herself to move her fingers and felt them twitch.
“Ah,” Doctor Peters smiled, “It looks like the neuromuscular blocker is wearing off. That’s good. She obviously wanted it to be untraceable, so was careful about the dosage she gave you.”
“Tom,” the word came as a slurred syllable from Jill’s mouth.
“I want to monitor you a little longer, to make sure I’m right about what she gave you, before I take you back to him,” Doctor Peters smiled.
“Grant,” Jill pushed the word out, hoping that Doctor Peters would know what she was asking.
“Mrs Grant?” Doctor Peters sighed, “Tom was in the right place at the right time. He got her into surgery and removed the clot before it could do any damage. Clots after surgery aren’t uncommon in patients but we’d been especially careful with Mrs Grant. I’ll have to investigate this, given what’s been happening in my department, but don’t worry about Mrs Grant. She should be fine now.”
Jill could feel her face frown. Was this Catherine’s work? The timing was too perfect. If she did this then it would guarantee that Tom wouldn’t be there to interrupt. She didn’t want to think that Catherine would harm Mrs Grant but based on her recent experience she couldn’t dismiss it. She looked at Doctor Peters and knew that the same thoughts were going through his head.
“Catherine? What happened?” her words sounded clearer and she was able to curl her hands into fists and move her feet.
“Jill,” Doctor Peters frowned and looked away, “You’ve been through a great trauma. The hospital will give you counselling and support. This wasn’t your fault. No one knew that she was sick, delusional, mentally unstable. She gave no indication that she was obsessed with Tom. Tom didn’t know.”
“I don’t blame Tom,” Jill whispered, “And this wasn’t my fault either. Is she dead?”
“Yes,” Doctor Peters said simply.
“I’d like to go back to Tom now,” Jill bit her lip, “Can I go back to him?”
“I’m here,” the curtain moved revealing Tom standing behind it.
“Tom? I should have known you wouldn’t have been far,” Doctor Peters shook his head, “I gather I don’t need me to tell you that she’s fine.”
“Can I come in?” Tom looked at Jill.
“You can take her back to the ward, if Jill agrees,” Doctor Peters said, “But Jill, I want you take everything slowly. You’ve been through a great ordeal. You could go into acute distress disorder, into shock. I’m not going to discharge you until I’m sure you’re fully recovered. I’m going to put her on observation tonight and will reassess in the morning. Jill, I want you to stay in bed and Tom, she doesn’t need any more stress.”
Tom nodded silently, then Doctor Peters pulled the curtain back as he left them alone. Tom kicked the brakes off the bed and pushed her towards the lifts. It was only now that she noticed that she still had the police officer following her. She could twist her head, so she could see him trailing her bed as Tom negotiated the elevator. Tom returned her to a different room on the same ward. This one was empty and didn’t have any blood on the floor. The police officer stood at the door and she felt like she was in a time-warp.
“I’m sorry,” Tom said in a pained voice.
“Kiss me,” she said suddenly.
He lifted his eyes to her confused.
“I thought I’d lost you,” she whispered, “I thought I’d die in there. I need you to kiss me now or I’m going to burst into an inferno of hot misery.”
He leaned over with his intense expression, she reached her still shaky arms up and pulled his lips towards hers. She kissed him like her life depended on it. She wanted nothing more than to have this man in her arms. She loved him, she wanted him, and she needed him.
“Don’t ever let me go,” she whispered as their lips broke, “Because I can’t lose you either.”
“I love you Gillian Arnold,” he said as he kissed her.
“Great,” Detective Derek Salter said as he walked into the room, “I’m going to presume that she did tell you. I told her not to tell you, but she’s told you.”
“What are you doing here Derek?” Tom growled.
“My job,” he stood at the end of the bed, “I need to interview the witness.”
Tom stood up, straightened up slowly, his fist balled, and his face turned as hard as stone. Jill was about to say something when he turned away from her, walked up to Derek, twisted his body and threw his fist into the Detective’s face. Derek wasn’t looking at Tom so wasn’t prepared for the punch, he was sent sideways as blood gushed from his nose.
“What the hell?” He exclaimed as his hand went to his face and he turned to glare at the man who was still standing with his fists raised and breathing heavily, “What the hell was that for?”
“You did that on purpose,” Tom snarled at the man, “You knew!”
“And you’ve just assaulted a Police Officer,” Derek pushed his nose, “And broken my nose!”
“You bastard,” Tom’s body shook with his anger, “You’re not even going to deny it.”
“Do you know the penalty for assaulting a police officer?” Derek grabbed a box of tissues from off the end of the empty bed, “Put your fists down Tom. You’ve made your point.”
“You used Jill as bait! You knew, and you used Jill to draw her out,” Tom dropped his hands but they were still balled into fists, “Did you know it was Catherine? Did you know what she was going to do?”
“I put Officer Palmer in the bed next to her and increased the surveillance,” Derek had tissues stuffed up his nose, “I guessed it was one of your exlovers, from what Archie Steg told us. But we had no evidence. Only when I heard what your parents said, and Chuck told me what Catherine had said, did it start pointing towards her. Prior to that I thought it was Helen Castle.”
“Increased surveillance?” Tom said the words slowly then he moved, his fist lashed out and impacted Derek in the side of the head again. Derek stumbled and ended up on the ground, “You had people there and they didn’t stop her! You had your people wait until you had a full confession. She could have killed Jill!”
“Hey,” Derek nose was dripping again as he sat up, one hand raised to Tom and he used the other to put pressure on his eye, “That hurt. They had their weapons pointed at her before she did anything. I didn’t think she’d go psychotic. From everything we knew we expected her to back down when confronted.”
“Did Jill know?” Tom was standing over Derek, “Did you tell Jill about the extra surveillance.”
“No,” Jill whispered, “No, he didn’t tell me.”
“Doctor Layton,” Officer Todd was holding Tom back who looked like he was about to kick Derek while he was still on the floor, “That’s enough. This isn’t the right way.”
“What is? What is the right way?” Tom growled, “He used her as bait without assuring her that she was safe. He let her think she was going to die at that woman’s hands. You tell me what the right way is, because I want him to know what it feels like to think you’re going to die.”
“Tom,” Jill whispered, “Don’t. I need you here. Please don’t. Don’t let them take you away from me.”
Tom stopped what he was doing and looked at Jill who had tears streaming down her face.
“She’s right,” the voice in the doorway wasn’t expected, “Let me deal with this son. I’ll tell the police everything they need to hear.”
“Dad?” Tom turned to his Father, “What are you doing here?”
“I heard what happened and came straight here,” his Father looked at Jill, “We, Anna and I, owe you both an apology. I don’t expect that you’ll accept it but I’m giving it to you. We trusted Catherine over our own son. I don’t know the details of why she did this, but I can guess. I’m sorry Jill. I asked her to get the recording but didn’t expect that she would hurt you in doing so. I will make a full confession to the police. I can’t apologise enough.”
“You told her to do this?” Tom looked at his Father.
“No,” Jill wiped her tears, “She didn’t do this for them. She’d been using them. She’d been misleading them and stealing from them. Your parents were lied to.”
“She stole from us?” Richard looked confused.
“She made up some of those women,” Jill took Tom’s hand as he sat down next to her, “He didn’t sleep with all those women. She took the money.”
“I’m sorry, Tom,” Richard Layton closed his eyes, “We thought we were doing the right thing but, Jill was right, what we did was inexcusable. I doubt you’ll ever forgive us, but we promise you that we didn’t intend for Jill to be hurt.”
“I believe you,” Tom looked at Jill and smiled at her expression, “I might not forgive you right now, but I expect that Jill will do her best to change my mind. Family is important to her. She’ll probably convince me that our children need grandparents.”
“Thanks for coming Doctor Layton, even though I know you didn’t intend for this to happen, an apology isn’t going to mend everything. But it is a start,” Jill felt embarrassed by Tom’s statement but she tried not to show it, “Derek, are you going to charge Tom for hitting you?”
“No,” Derek wiped his nose again, his eye was swollen, “I deserved it. I should have handled this better. I didn’t expect it to go down like this and I stuffed up.”
“Good,” Jill smiled as she stifled a yawn, “Then can everyone please leave? I need some alone time with my boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?” Tom grinned when the room was empty, “I like the sound of that. Although, it sounds a little temporary, I’m here the long term. I can think of a better term you could use.”
“Not listening,” She pulled him down to the bed and wrapped herself around him, “Sleep now, negotiate terms later.”
“I love you, Gillian Arnold,” he whispered into her hair, “I want to be everything to you. I want you to be mine forever.”
She mumbled something, but her body was limp, and her breathing was long. She fell asleep before she could comprehend what he’d asked her. She knew he’d be there in the morning. She’d worry about answering him in the morning, he wasn’t going anywhere without her.