When I opened my eyes the next morning, the first thing I noticed was that I could barely move. Each little twitch of a muscle brought searing pain. The second was the fact that Billy was still on the floor in the same position he had been when I finally dozed off. The third was that Donnie and Quinn were now in the two chairs watching me. When I groaned, Donnie came to me and helped me stand. My feet had been untied, but not my hands.
“It’s time, Sarah. One more phone call, a few more hours, and you’ll be reunited with your husband. You’re going to tell him to have the money brought to the corner of Commons and Lane in Millfield at ten o’clock. He’ll leave it in a bag somewhere where a casual observer wouldn’t be able to see it. Then he’ll leave and go back to the hotel. Tell him we’ll be there to see if anyone is watching. If we don’t see anyone, we’ll let you go two hours later. Sarah, you have to make him understand that if we see anyone that looks like Garda, Quinn will probably kill you.” He placed a blindfold over my eyes. “Understand?”
I nodded and the three of us went out to the car. We drove for the same five minutes that I had the night before, and again, a receiver was held to my ear, and the number was dialed, but this time, no one listened in.
“The Victoria Hotel. How may I direct your call?”
I swallowed. “Erik Desmond’s room, please.” My voice was still raspy.
“One moment, please.”
Again, there were three rings before Erik answered.
“Erik.” That was as far as I got before I burst into tears.
“Sarah, what happened?”
I felt one of the men nudge my shoulder, probably Quinn, and I took a long, deep breath, but still I could barely get the words out. “You need to have the money in a bag at ten o’clock and leave it at the corner of Commons and Lane where no one can see it. Then go back to the hotel. They’ll release me two hours later if they get their money. If they see anyone who looks like police, they’ll kill me.”
“Sarah, what did they do to you?”
“Just do it, Erik, please.” Tears were streaming down my face, and I fought to keep my voice steady.
“I swear to God, Sarah, if you are harmed, I will kill them.”
“Get the money, Erik.”
“I already have it. I’ll get you back, I promise.”
The phone was replaced, and I was led back to the car. I couldn’t stop crying, and, even when I was back in my place on the floor, once again tied hand and foot, the tears still ran. I stared at the still body of Billy and waited to see what would happen next.
Quinn and Donnie were talking outside, but only Donnie came inside, and I heard the car leave. Donnie took a chair, and then, after a moment, he helped me to my feet and untied my ankles.
“What are you doing?”
He shrugged. “The other chair isn’t being used. There’s no need for you to be on the floor.”
He helped me sit in the other chair, and I mumbled, “Thank you.”
“It’s almost nine o’clock now,” he said. “Quinn will be waiting to make sure your husband does what he was told to do. If he does, Quinn will be back here in a couple of hours, and we’ll let you go.”
I just nodded and laid my head on the table. “Thank you, Donnie, for everything.”
He gave me another sad smile, and we sat silently for a while. I blanked my mind and resigned myself to waiting, but then I thought about Erik killing his father, and I was suddenly afraid for this man in front of me. I sat up abruptly.
“Donnie, you have to let me go,” I said desperately, twisting my arms behind my back in an attempt to loosen the ropes
The man laughed. “Are you crazy? Quinn would kill us both.”
“And Erik will kill you if he finds you. You don’t know my husband. If he knows you were involved in this, your life will be cut very short.”
Donnie looked doubtful. “He’d have to find me first,” he said slowly, and when I shook my head, he added, “and I don’t think he’ll do that easily. A third of a million dollars can hide a person pretty well.”
“I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”
His eyebrows went up. “Why not? I helped kidnap you.”
“No, you didn’t. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you’ve helped me since then. Help me now, and help yourself. If you can’t let me go, then go to the police and tell them that you know where I am.”
He coughed up a laugh. “Right. And go to prison for the rest of my life.”
“Please, Donnie. I’ll tell the police everything you did to help me and that you never hurt me.”
Donnie looked thoughtful. “You’d do that for me?”
“Yes. You’ve protected me, and I’ll protect you.”
Donnie hesitated for a brief moment, and then he shook his head slightly. “Let me think about it.”
I laid my head back down on the table. Silence filled the room, and time ticked slowly away. At one point, Donnie checked his brother and frowned when he shook him with no response.
“I must have hurt him worse than I thought. He’s breathing, but he won’t wake up.” He took a step back from Billy. “He may be an evil bastard, but he’s my only brother.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, and Donnie disappeared into the kitchen. When he came back he had two metal cups of water, and he held one for me to drink. Shortly afterwards, we heard a car pull up, and Donnie stood up nervously. Quinn came into the room with a huge grin that looked wrong on his normally stoic face and a canvas bag.
“He did it, MacCarthy! One million dollars! And not a Garda in sight.” The big man looked down at Billy. “Still not awake? Well…” He pulled a gun from his waistband. “Like I said, splitting it two ways is better than three.” I gasped when he pointed the gun at Billy and pulled the trigger. Blood began to pool underneath Billy’s head.
“Quinn!” Donnie screamed. “Why did you do that?!”
“Oh, leave it, Donnie. You killed him last night. He just didn’t know he was dead yet.” The man shrugged casually. “Now he is.” He turned a dead-eyed stare on me. “And so is she.”
“What? No! You said we’d let her go!”
“Are you an idiot? She knows our names! She knows what we look like! How long do you think it would take the Garda to find us?” He pointed the gun at me. “I’m not taking that chance.”
I know I should have been scared, but my mind was still reeling from his murder of Billy, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the blood. They flickered back and forth between it and the gun, but before Quinn could pull the trigger, Donnie grabbed his wrist and forced his arm up. The shot rang out, but it went harmlessly into the ceiling.
“You little…” Quinn growled, and he drove his knee up into Donnie’s ribs. The latter grunted and doubled over, and Quinn again pointed his gun at me.
Another shot rang out, and I flinched, expecting pain, but there was nothing but silence. I slowly opened my eyes and saw Donnie, a second gun in his hand, standing over the body of Quinn.
He shuddered once, dropped the gun on the floor, and then moved to me and untied my wrists. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the two bodies on the floor.
“Come on,” Donnie said, pulling me to my feet. “We need to get you back to your husband.”
He grabbed the bag of money and led me out to the car. He held onto me while slipping his arm around my back and under my other arm.
“You’ll tell them what happened, right? Tell them I didn’t hurt you? Tell them that Quinn would have killed you if I didn’t shoot him?” His words spilled out in a frantic rush.
I nodded once, and when I was seated in the car, I stared out of the window, trying to take in everything that had just happened.
“Sarah? Did you hear me?”
I turned to Donnie. “What?”
He frowned. “I asked if you wanted to go to hospital or to the hotel.”
“The hotel, please.” I was surprised at the lack of emotion in my voice.
Hours or minutes later, I didn’t know which, we pulled up in front of the Victoria Hotel, and Donnie came around the car to help me out. I stumbled, and he once again put his arm around me.
When we got into the hotel, I managed to walk only a few steps when Mr. Casey yelled, “Mrs. Desmond, what happened to you?”
“Call my room and tell my husband I’m here, please.” Again, my voice was flat, and Donnie looked down at me with concern. “Actually,” I said dully, “I’ll just go up.”
I took one more step, and my knees buckled. Donnie tightened his grip on me and practically carried me to a chair, and I slumped against the back. I heard him talking to Mr. Casey, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Then Donnie was kneeling beside me.
“Sarah, can you hear me?”
I nodded and smiled at him. He put his hand on my arm, and I placed my hand over his gently. He smiled back at me, but I could see the fear in his eyes. I opened my mouth to say something when I heard footsteps running down the stairs.
The panic in Erik’s voice scared me, I tried to lift my head to ask him what was wrong, but it wasn’t cooperating. He elbowed Donnie out of the way and dropped to his knees in front of me. His hands were shaking as he gently ran them over me.
“Sweetheart, talk to me. What the hell did they do to you?”
“Erik?” My mouth wasn’t working any better than my head, and his name came out slurred.
“George, get a doctor!” he yelled, and then he turned back to me. “Sarah, who did this to you? Tell me.” He turned to Donnie who was still kneeling as well. “Did you do this?” His arm shot out and grabbed Donnie’s shirt. “I’m going to kill you!”
“No!” Donnie and I said at the same time, although his declaration was much more emphatic than mine.
“It wasn’t me.”
“It wasn’t him.”
Erik let him go and turned back to me. “Then who was it? With God as my witness, Sarah, whoever it was is a dead man.”
That seemed very funny to me for some reason, and I giggled. “You’re too late,” I said. “He’s already dead.”
Erik looked back at Donnie who was frantically nodding his head.
“She’s right, Mr. Desmond. Both of the men who took her are dead.”
I giggled again. “Dead, dead, dead. All dead.” Then I frowned and put my hands on my belly. “Erik, is our baby dead?”
“What? No, Sarah! Why would you ask such a thing?”
I started crying. “Our baby’s dead, Erik. Billy killed our baby.”
Erik’s body tensed, and he picked me up, cradling me to his chest. I burrowed into him and sobbed as he stood up.
“He killed our baby! He did, I know it! Our baby’s dead!”
I knew I was babbling, but I couldn’t stop myself, and I tried to get out of Erik’s arms, but he held onto me tightly.
“Shh, Sarah, calm down, please.”
“No, Erik! Let me go! I have to save our baby! He’s going to die!” I knew that didn’t make any sense but couldn’t have said why, and I continued screaming at him. I pounded on Erik’s chest and squirmed, trying to get him to put me down. He sat me back down in the chair and held me down, his hands on my arms.
“Sarah, please! Stop this! Sweetheart, please, stop!”
Like a light going off, I stopped struggling, and I looked at him dumbly, tears still streaming down my face.
“Mr. Desmond, the doctor’s here.”
Erik just nodded, never taking his eyes or his hands off me. Then I heard a voice that sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.
“Mr. Desmond, please move. I have to examine your wife.”
Erik nodded again and shifted to the side. A man with dark hair leaned over me, and I started screaming, “No! Don’t touch me! Erik, help me! Don’t let him hurt me again!” I grabbed at my husband’s arms and tried to get out of the chair, away from Billy, but Erik held me down. I pulled my legs up to my chest and continued to scream. Then I felt a jab in my arm, and I jerked it away and looked at Erik accusingly. “Erik? Why are you letting him hurt me? Don’t you love me anymore? Is it because I let our baby die? I’m sorry, Erik. I couldn’t stop him from killing our baby.”
Tears filled Erik’s eyes, and he pulled me to his chest. “Shh,” he soothed as he held me close. “I love you, Sarah. I’ll always love you.”
I let him rock me, and slowly, my body went limp in his arms. I was so tired, and I loved Erik so much. I tried to tell him so, but nothing came out. He picked me up, and I heard him say, “I’m so sorry,” before my world went dark.