Domino Effect

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Chapter Twenty One

“What are you doing?” Ace hissed frantically at Bailey. “We don’t want his attention back on us, remember?”

“What’s that, Bailey?” Mathews tittered through the door. “Want to protect Daney-poo?”

Bailey had to ignore him. “He’s Sam’s husband!” she hissed back to Ace. “I won’t let him die because of me!”

“He won’t! Please, Bailey, think of yourself here!”

“Why do you care?”

Bailey wanted to punch Ace in the face. She wanted to rip that chair away and run straight at Mathews. Mathews should have been in handcuffs by now and she wondered savagely where the police were. She wanted to stay in this room with Ace where they were safe. She wanted Dane to run before Mathews did anything stupid. There were so many things that Bailey wanted. Right now, though, all she could do was listen in horror as Mathews taunted Dane some more.

He shouted and giggled like a madman. His shadow pranced back and forth in front of the glass window on the door as if he were doing a waltz. It was making Bailey shake where she was sitting next to Ace; his hand tightened minutely on her arm.

Ace murmured something next to her, but her ears were deaf to it.

“You’ve got nowhere to go, Doctor,” another man that wasn’t Dane called out. “It’s six to one, man. Don’t make us—”

“What?” Mathews shouted. His jovial leer had vanished. “You’ll shoot me? Go ahead! It doesn’t look like I’m going to get my money anyway, so why don’t I tarnish those beautifully clean police records with a suicide by cop?”

So the police had finally showed up. The hospital had probably been on lockdown for twenty minutes now, and they had finally showed up. “I have to stop this,” Bailey said. She stood and Ace’s hand slipped from her arm.

“I did this the wrong way around!” Mathews shouted. “I should have killed Ace as soon as he was admitted! There wouldn’t be this whole mess with the elevator and I could have gone quietly! That way, none of you would suspect me and I could be in the Maldives by now!”

There was a noise behind her, a cross between a whimper and a groan. “If you leave now, you will lose everything,” Ace said.

Bailey blinked a few times. The statement was bouncing around in her brain but it couldn’t seem to catch hold. She spun around to look at him. “Whatcha mean, I’ll lose everything?” she said, just about losing her nerve. “You’ve lost it, haven’t you?”

Ace stood and took a few tentative steps towards her. When his tubing wouldn’t let him go any further, he reached out and took her hands in his. “I know that doesn’t make sense to you. It really doesn’t to me either—”

“Why are you telling me this?” Bailey’s question made Ace stumble; she rushed to continue in his silence. “I barely know you. I—”

“You do know me!” Ace countered. His face flushed in his excitement. “You know about the stupid things I did as a kid, you know about my little brother, you know about my crazy wife, you know about my inheritance, you—”

“You only told me those things today! And all together! There was no build up, no first date phase, no 'let’s get to know each other, tell me about your family' phase!” Bailey exploded.

“We didn’t have any time!”

Bailey was still shaking, but now the tremors weren’t from fear. She could still hear the police talking to Mathews, could still hear Mathews taunting Dane—Bailey wasn’t even sure he was there anymore, but maybe Mathews was shouting to him as he was escorted down the hall—and she could bet that Ace could hear the commotion too. Yet here he was, holding her hand in his as if they’d known each other for a lifetime rather than only a few weeks.

Ace was still gazing at Bailey with a fierce sort of beseeching.

“How could I?” she whispered to him. “With all of this going on?”

“That is the exact reason why we should.”

“But that would give Mathews the satisfaction! And what about Gemma? If she hired Mathews to kill you, wouldn’t she be more dangerous than him?” Bailey didn’t want to ask whether or not he would get a divorce. Could he? Would his inheritance be lost if he disintegrated his marriage?

Ace’s little brother was gone now. There wasn’t anything to pay for, unless the cancer care wasn’t paid off yet, other than Ace’s own care. That was probably paid in advance already, though. Knowing him, he would have had Gemma pay it up front the day she came in to see him. Maybe that was why she had seen him in the first place. She felt cheated out of the small share of money the marriage probably promised her, and she had to sit back and watch her husband—her broken, good-for-nothing husband—spend it to make himself better. She had to eat her words and watch him as he got better instead of died.

“Yes!” Ace’s eyes were radically different now. They were wild and intense. “But the police are here now! We could hire someone to track her down. No doubt she’s fled the state by now, with Mathews’ hostage situation on the news—”

Bailey’s head whipped around to face the television mounted on the wall. The muted news channel was broadcasting in front of the hospital. There were police cruisers everywhere and lights flashing so much that it forced Bailey to look away, back to Ace.

“If you don’t believe anything I’ve said, believe me now! Please, Bailey, trust me. Don’t throw this away.”

Suddenly, a gunshot rang throughout the hall. Bailey screeched as it sounded and she fell into Ace’s heavily bandaged arms, tears streaming down her face.

“It’s alright, Bailey. We’re okay,” Ace soothed, brushing his hand along her back.

All Bailey could think was that now Sam was a widow. She’d lost her husband because he’d gotten in the way. He’d lost his life trying to protect Bailey and the patient. Bailey had lost a friend because her patient had too much money.

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