The ring of the phone startled Jennifer. Her heart pounded as she picked up the phone, staring at it before tapping to answer. He’s finally calling. Is this good news or bad?
Before the news could possibly hit, she was thinking the worst. Her eyes started to tear up as she held the phone to her ear.
“Hello,” she said.
There was silence for a moment. “Mum?”
The palpations paused and Jennifer’s heart rate started to return to normal. Abigail’s safe!
“Abbie!” A smile shot across her face as tears fell down her cheeks. “It’s so good to hear your voice, girl. Are you okay?”
“I’m mostly okay. I’m a little bit beaten up, but I’ll survive. It’s all a long story really.”
Jennifer felt her shoulder and neck muscles relax. Life can get back to normal.
“Abbie, I’m so glad you’re okay. We’ve been so worried. We love you so much and everything just fell apart the moment you were taken from us.”
There was a brief pause again, allowing Jennifer to hear a public announcement for a doctor through a distant speaker. It seems the responsible thing to do. Get her checked out at a hospital.
“I love you too Mum,” Abigail said. Jennifer could hear her daughter’s voice breaking with emotion.
Sensing there was something more to the call, Jennifer asked, “Abigail, is there something else you need to tell me?”
There was silence on the other end of the line, punctuated with the occasional spell of heavy breathing. Jennifer’s heart rate started to increase again. Something’s wrong.
“Abbie, where are you?”
“I’m at the hospital with Dad,” she said, no doubt through tears.
“He got shot.”
Jennifer stopped listening, her greatest fears once again seeming to be realised. She started to feel dizzy and took up her former position, sitting on the edge of the sofa.
“How is he?” Jennifer hated asking that question, fearing the response.
“He was hit in the shoulder. He’s in surgery now.” There was another pause. “The doctors are telling me he’ll be okay and that he’s lost a lot of blood and they’re doing everything they can.”
Jennifer gulped, knowing at that moment that she needed to swallow her fears. She took a deep breath before responding. “Abbie, your Dad’s a fighter. He always has been. He wouldn’t let anything get in the way of getting you home safe, and he’s hardly going to give up now before bringing you home is he?”
She could hear her daughter crying. Eventually she said, “The man who shot him killed himself, and Dad still managed to save me from Joshua.”
Jennifer smiled. “Then he’s the hero I always knew he was.”
“Mum, there’s a man from the police here. He wants to talk to you.”
She nodded at nothing before saying, “Okay girl. I’ll speak to you soon. Love you.”
“Love you too Mum,” Abigail said. “See you soon.”
In a flash, she was speaking to a stranger from the local police force, informing her of the exact nature of her husband’s injuries and his location. She had to resist another wave of emotion that threatened to derail her ability to withstand the latest drama. She tried to keep her composure but her eyes had not got the message. They streamed tears like never before. Come on Dan. We need you to pull through this.
Before she had hung up the phone she had used her spare hand wipe away her tears and then to find and start filling an overnight bag. “I’ll be there in a few hours.”
Once again, a member of the Castle family would be hurtling down the motorways, en-route to the other end of the country. Like before, a life was hanging in the balance.