A gentle hand caressing my cheek brought me around, and I slowly opened my eyes. I was lying in a bed in a white room. My right eye was almost swollen shut, and when I lifted a hand to touch it, I saw clean white bandages wrapped around my wrist.
Erik was sitting in a chair by the bed watching me, and the expression on his face was a mixture of intense fury and intense agony. When he saw my eyes open, though, his hand stopped, and he leaned forward and kissed my forehead.
“Erik? Where am I? What happened?”
“You’re in the hospital, sweetheart. You were hurt and upset, so you were brought here.”
I looked down at myself and saw that I was wearing a hospital gown. “Why don’t I remember coming here?”
“You were out of control at the hotel. The doctor had to sedate you so you didn’t hurt yourself or the baby.”
I gasped and tried to sit up, but he held me down.
“Sarah, stop. Just lie still.”
“No, Erik, the baby!”
He smiled sadly. “The baby is fine, Sarah. The doctors checked you out, and the heartbeat is still strong.” The fury returned to his eyes, and I could tell he was trying to hide it from me.
“Erik, what’s wrong?”
He dropped his head, and he started to tremble. When he spoke again, his words were forced. “The doctors told me what they think happened to you.” He went to stand, but I grabbed his hand.
“Please don’t leave me.”
He looked at me, and the combination of helplessness and anger on his face was frightening. “I’m not leaving, Sarah. I…” He pulled his hand from mine and walked to the room’s window. He put his hands on the sill and bowed his head. “It’s my fault you were hurt, and I am so sorry.” His shoulders hitched, and I slowly sat up, every muscle in my body protesting.
“What are you talking about? You didn’t do anything.”
He spun around. “You’re right. I didn’t do anything to protect you. I barely even noticed when you left the restaurant. I should never have let you go outside alone.”
“Erik, come here.”
He shook his head.
Reluctantly, he came back and sat on the edge of the bed, but he wouldn’t look at me.
“None of this was your fault,” I said, taking his hand.
“Yes it was. I should have…”
“Erik, stop. You can’t be with me all the time. This was not your fault, and it was not my fault. It was the fault of Billy and Quinn. They’re the only ones responsible for any of this.”
Erik opened his mouth to respond, but there was a knock on the open door. I looked over, and a policeman stood in the doorway.
“Mrs. Desmond?” he asked as he came up to us. “My name is Sergeant Dolan. Are you up to answering some questions?”
My hand tightened around Erik’s. “Can my husband stay?”
The sergeant hesitated, but then he said, “Of course.” He stood at the foot of the bed and pulled a notebook and pen from his pocket. “Now, I want you to tell me what happened in your own words, and then, if I have any questions, I’ll ask them, all right?”
I glanced at Erik, nodded once, and began to talk. I told the sergeant everything I could remember starting from Quinn taking me from the car. I told him about when I realized that one of the men who kidnapped me was William MacCarthy, our driver. I told him about Donnie MacCarthy giving me the water. I told him how Billy threatened me and about Donnie standing up to him about it. I told him about the first phone call and about Billy punching me because the police were involved. At that, a low rumble came from Erik, and his hand clenched mine almost painfully. When I tried to continue, however, I couldn’t. I couldn’t make the words come out. The sergeant looked up from his notebook.
“Mrs. Desmond, is everything all right?”
A tear ran down my cheek, and I pulled my hand from Erik’s. I wrapped my arms around myself and looked down at the bed.
“Mrs. Desmond, do you need to stop?”
I shook my head and silently leaned into Erik. He scooted closer and put his arm around me. I spoke to him instead of the officer.
“He forced me, Erik,” I said softly, and he tensed. “I tried to stop him, but he hit me again. He grabbed me and choked me and touched me and he hurt me so much.” I clutched Erik’s shirt as the tears came faster. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop him. I tried.”
“No, Sarah, no,” he murmured, kissing my hair and wrapping me in his arms. “You have nothing to be sorry for.” He paused. “Sergeant, can we take a break?”
“Of course, sir. I’ll be right outside.”
I heard the door shut, and I sobbed into Erik’s chest. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “I couldn’t stop him. I couldn’t protect our baby.”
“Sweetheart, stop. Our baby is going to be all right. I promise.”
I kept apologizing, and he kept telling me to stop. Eventually, I calmed down and took a deep breath.
“Do you want to talk to the sergeant again?” Erik said quietly.
I nodded. I had to make sure the police knew that Donnie saved me. I didn’t want him to go to prison.
“Sergeant?” Erik called out.
The door opened, and I sat up. Erik moved behind me and pulled me back into him. He kept his arms around me. Sergeant Dolan came back in and took his place at the foot of the bed.
“Mrs. Desmond, can you continue?”
“Yes, Sergeant,” I said softly.
“You don’t have to say anything more about the assault, Mrs. Desmond. I already talked to the doctors, and what you said corroborates what they told me. Understand?”
“So, what happened when you got back to the others?”
“I must have passed out because when I woke up, Donnie was the only one there. He figured out what Billy did to me, and he said he’d kill him for it.”
Erik grunted softly.
“When Billy and Quinn came back, Billy was drunk…” I told the sergeant about Donnie beating Billy unconscious and about what Quinn said about the money, about Billy still being unconscious the next day—that was still today, I supposed—and the second phone call.
“When Quinn came back, he had the money and said that a million dollars went further split two ways rather than three, and he shot Billy in the head.”
Sergeant Dolan held up a hand to stop me. “So, Quinn Doyle killed Billy MacCarthy?”
“Yes, sir. Donnie beat him up for hurting me, but Quinn shot him.”
“All right. Then who killed Mr. Doyle?”
“Donnie did, but it was to save me. Quinn said that I knew who they were, and he wasn’t going to take the chance that you would find them. He was going to shoot me, but Donnie shot him first. Then he brought me to the hotel. He even brought the money back.”
“I know,” the sergeant said. “We have it.”
“You do?” Erik asked. “He didn’t keep it?”
“No, sir. It’s all locked up at the station. Is there anything else you want to add, Mrs. Desmond?”
“No, sergeant. That’s all I can remember.”
“Well,” he said, putting his notebook back in his pocket. “Your version fits with what Mr. MacCarthy told us.”
“He won’t go to prison, will he?”
“I doubt it, ma’am. From what you both say, everything he did was done to help you.”
Sergeant Dolan moved toward the door but stopped when Erik spoke.
“Sergeant, can you please ask Mr. MacCarthy to come here? I want to talk to him.”
“Yes, sir. He’s at the station right now, but I’ll send him over as soon as I get there.”
When he left, silence filled the room. Erik leaned back against the wall behind the bed, and I carefully turned and laid my head against his shoulder. He caressed my hair softly, and after a long while, he began to sing quietly.
On the wings of the wind o’er the deep rolling sea
Angels are coming to watch o’er thy sleep
Angels are coming to watch over thee
So list to the wind coming over the sea.
Hear the wind blow, love, hear the wind blow
Lean your head over and hear the wind blow.
I listened as he sang, and a sense of peace covered me.
“Where did you learn that song?”
Erik sighed. “My mother would sing it to me when my father was either passed out or gone. She said her mother sang it to her when she was little.”
I closed my eyes and let myself be comforted by his strong arms around me. I tried to sleep, but it didn’t happen. I was still awake when there was a soft knock on the door, but I didn’t open my eyes.
“Mr. Desmond, sir? May I come in?”
I recognized Donnie’s voice.
“Please do, Mr. MacCarthy. Sit down.”
The chair creaked.
“Sergeant Dolan said you wanted to talk to me, sir.”
Both men were talking quietly, and I assumed they thought I was asleep. I let them continue thinking it.
“I did. I wanted to thank you for saving my Sarah. I…” Erik pulled me closer to him and rested his cheek on my head. “I almost lost her, sir. And our baby.” His voice cracked. “You protected her, though, and I can’t thank you enough for that.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Erik sat up again. “She said you did.”
“I didn’t. Not like I should have. My brother…I let him…”
“I know,” Erik said. “She told me. But she’s alive, and so is my child. If she had died, if that man had killed her, I would have died, too.”
Donnie cleared his throat. “I’m just happy that she’s back with you, Mr. Desmond. What my brother and Quinn did wasn’t right, and I’m glad I could help her. I can tell you love her very much.”
“She is my life, Mr. MacCarthy.” Erik shifted his body slightly. “I’d like you to keep the money. As a reward.”
“What? No, sir, I can’t do that.”
“Yes, you can. You have to understand something. I would have given every penny I have to get her back. I would have sold everything I own and emptied every bank account to keep her and my child alive. Money means nothing to me next to my family, Mr. MacCarthy. I want you to have it. I’ll call Sergeant Dolan at the station and tell him the money is yours.”
Donnie continued to protest for a short while, but finally, Erik shook his hand, and he left.
“Thank was very nice of you, Erik,” I said softly.
He took a deep breath. “He deserved it. If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t be here, and neither would I.” He put his hand on my belly. “And neither would he.”
“You knew I wasn’t asleep, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” He began to rock. “But you should sleep now, Sarah.”
“You’ll stay with me?”