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Caitlin awoke to the pressure of duct tape being placed on her mouth. She could see Billy’s dim outline, standing over her with a roll of duct tape in his hands. Her eyes opened wide with shock, terror filling her heart as she mentally flashed back to her teenage years. In an instant, she was as helpless and vulnerable as the first day he had molested her, when she was an innocent fifteen-year-old who had no idea what kind of a monster lurked inside of her older stepbrother. Paralyzed by her fear, she could manage only a small whimper.
Out of the corner of her eye, she sensed sudden movement from across the room. Billy must have sensed it as well, as he whirled around to see who was there.
“Back the fuck up, you sick son of a bitch,” Caitlin heard Jack growl.
Something about the sound of Jack’s voice snapped her back to the present. The fighter within her whispered in an urgent voice, ‘You will never let him do this to you again! Fight back! Fight back now!’ The powerless fifteen-year-old girl disappeared, and five years of training and practicing self-defense came flooding back to her.
Instinctively, Caitlin sat up and reached over to the nightstand next to the hospital bed, grasping the little blue lamp sitting there. Billy was still turned toward Jack, his jaw hanging open with shock. She poured every ounce of strength into swinging the lamp as hard as she could, smashing it against the back of Billy’s skull. It exploded against his head, tiny blue pieces flying everywhere, and without a sound he slumped to the floor, knocked unconscious.
The crash of the lamp was followed by a deep silence in the hospital room. Caitlin stared down at the side of the bed, waiting for Billy’s form to jump up and attack her. When he continued to lie in a limp heap on the floor, she peeled the duct tape off of her mouth in a slow, dazed motion. She felt as if her breathing was deafening, breaking the stillness with quick, hard gasps.
Jack was afraid to say anything, afraid he would scare the hell out of Caitlin if he spoke. He approached her with silent caution. When he reached the end of the bed, he waited, not even daring to breathe, wondering what her reaction would be when she realized what had happened.
Slowly, she moved her gaze to Jack. He was startled by the look of amazement in her wide, green eyes.
“I did it,” she whispered in awe. “I actually did it.”
Filled with dread, he waited to see if her amazement would turn to horror or elation.
The seconds felt like hours until a smile spread across her face.
“I beat him,” she said in a quiet voice. Her smile was proud.
Jack rushed to the opposite side of the bed and wrapped his arms around her, holding her as tightly as he could. “You did it, baby,” he agreed. His muscles felt weak with the relief that was flooding through him. He stroked her red curls, closing his eyes with gratitude that, once again, Caitlin had escaped danger. At least this time, he felt he had done his part to protect her — and something about when he had spoken to Billy had pushed her into fighting back against him. He couldn’t even imagine the strength that it had taken for her to even face her attacker in a situation like this, much less the courage it had taken for her to fight back — and win!
Caitlin snuggled up against him, folding herself into his arms. She was so proud of herself, but she also had a sinking feeling in her stomach. Now it was all going to come out. The years of abuse, the horrors she had suffered. What would Shanna think? Would she understand? Would she be angry with Caitlin for not telling her?
With a shaking hand, Caitlin reached over and hit the call button for a nurse. Her breathing was slowly returning to normal; the pounding of her heart had eased up a bit, though her headache had returned full force. She wanted Billy out of here, unconscious or not.
“I’ll call the local police,” Jack said quietly, pulling illegal bahis away and studying her expression.
She nodded with reluctance. He stroked her cheek gently. “It’ll be okay, baby,” he whispered. He was sure she was frightened of the repercussions that would come from reporting Billy, but he knew it needed to be done. ‘It’s about time that psychotic bastard got what’s coming to him,’ he thought grimly.
A nurse walked in to answer Caitlin’s call, turning the overhead light on. She gasped as she saw the man sprawled at the side of the bed. “Dear God, what happened?!” she cried.
Jack paused from dialing the police and told her, “The cops will be here in a few minutes. He has a concussion and will probably be waking up soon — I want him out of here before that happens. Can you get a cot?”
The nurse nodded, a nervous expression on her face as she rushed out of the room. Jack spoke to the police briefly, and hung up as the nurse returned with a cot. Caitlin watched, her emerald eyes dark with worry, as Jack lifted Billy up and laid him on the cot. She sucked in her breath when she saw what Billy was wearing — a white doctor’s coat.
“Is that how he got in?” she whispered in disbelief.
Jack nodded wryly. “I know. What kind of security does this hospital have?” he asked the nurse.
She flushed and wheeled Billy out of the room quickly, choosing not to answer Jack. He sighed. It wasn’t fair of him to put the nurse on the spot like that, but he was sure as hell going to talk to somebody about how a twenty-something kid in a white coat managed to sneak into a patient’s room in the middle of the night.
The next hour or so was a blur. The local police came and took a statement from Caitlin and Jack. Caitlin somehow managed to withhold her tears when telling her story to the police, and Jack was amazed yet again at her strength. ‘I’m a cop, and she’s my role model for bravery,’ he thought with no shame whatsoever.
The police also agreed to talk to the head of security about the situation. “We’ll take in the security guard for questioning, and call in his replacement,” they informed Jack. He nodded, satisfied.
When the cops finally left, Jack and Caitlin laid down together, squeezing side by side onto her hospital bed. He held her in silence, absently playing with her curls as she stroked his cheek. They were both exhausted, but neither could sleep after the events of the night. So they just lay together, each lost in their own thoughts, uncertain as to where the next day would take them.
Shanna was awakened from sleep by the ringing of her cell phone. Groggy, she lifted her head and squinted her blue-green eyes at the clock on the hotel nightstand. ‘Three a.m.?’ she thought, bewildered. ‘Who the hell…?’ She hit a button on her phone and grunted into it.
Frowning, she sat up in bed. It was her brother, Billy. She looked over at the bed next to hers in the hotel room. It was empty.
“Billy? Where are you? Do you need help?” she asked, her pretty features drawing tight with worry.
“Yes…I do. But there’s nothing you can do.”
Her heart started pounding with apprehension and she got out of bed, slipping into her flipflops. “Where are you, Billy? I’m coming to get you,” she said. She grabbed her purse and headed for the door, not caring that she was dressed only in cotton pants and a tight tank top, her blonde hair tousled from sleep.
“You can’t get me out of this one, Shanna. I’ve been…very bad.”
Shanna left the room and walked toward the elevator, hitting the ‘down’ button, and frowned at her brother’s simplistic language. It was very unlike him. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“Billy, what do you mean?!” she repeated. The elevator door opened and she stepped inside, hitting the button for the lobby.
The silence deepened and she looked at her phone. The signal had been lost inside illegal bahis siteleri the elevator. “Shit!” she cried. Frantic, she impatiently waited for the elevator to descend. To her dismay, it opened on the third floor. An attractive, clearly intoxicated man in his early thirties stumbled in, looking her up and down in an obvious way.
“Hey, sugar, you looking for some late-night action?” he sneered, staggering a little.
Shanna gave him a look of death. “Fuck off,” she snapped.
An angry expression flashed across his face, and he shoved her up against the elevator wall, his face uncomfortably close to hers. “You don’t want to get attitude with me, bitch,” he hissed. “You might regret it.”
Unfazed, Shanna brought her knee up as hard as she could into his crotch. “I think you regret it, asshole,” she said coldly.
The man went pale, falling to his knees and then onto his back in agony. “Bitch,” he wheezed, his face contorted with pain.
The lobby bell rang, and the elevator doors opened. Shanna stepped out, tossing her hair over her shoulder and leaving the man writhing in the elevator. ‘Once again, I can thank Caitlin for dragging me to those self-defense classes,’ she thought wryly.
Shanna walked across the lobby, nearly out the front doors before realizing that she still didn’t know where the hell Billy was. She opened her cell phone again, looking for the number he had called her from. It read ‘Unavailable number.’
“Shit!” she shouted.
The hotel employee at the lobby desk gave her a nervous glance.
She stared at her cell phone, willing it to ring. ‘Where could he be?’ she worried.
When the phone rang, she almost dropped the damn thing. Opening it quickly, she gasped, “Please, where are you?!”
“I’ve been bad, Shanna. You won’t forgive me. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”
She forced herself to take a slow, deep breath, attempting to calm her nerves. “What did you do, Billy? Are you in jail?” she asked, afraid to hear the answer.
“Not yet…If you want to help, go see Caitlin. She needs you right now.”
The hotel employee looked over in time to see Shanna’s face go white. She stopped breathing for a moment. When her heart started beating again, it was pounding inside of her head.
“What did you do to her?” she whispered, sick to her stomach with dread.
“I was bad to her, Shanna. I was very bad and you’ll never forgive me. I wish you never had to find out. But it’s time. I need to pay for what I’ve done. Goodbye, sister Shanna.”
The line went dead. Shanna pulled it away from her ear and stared at it.
‘Caitlin,’ a voice inside of her head whispered.
Shanna forced her legs to move, forced herself to walk out the lobby doors. When she raised her arm to hail a cab, her hand was shaking.
“Mercy Hospital,” she mumbled to the driver, collapsing onto the taxi’s seat. Her mind was racing, thoughts and memories flashing in rapid succession, adding to her nausea.
Caitlin had always been tense around Billy. Shanna had never really understood why, and Caitlin had explained that they just didn’t get along. But then why had Caitlin done everything in her power to avoid him like the plague ever since she moved out? That’s not merely a matter of clashing personalities.
The self-defense classes. Caitlin had been almost obsessive about them. When Shanna had questioned her about it, Caitlin talked about how nervous she was to live on her own. She told Shanna that the classes were empowering, and even talked her into attending them as well.
And there was always Caitlin’s complete lack of interest in men. Oh, sure, she would go on the obligatory date or two when friends set her up. But Shanna had never seen her hit on a guy, or even develop a simple crush on one. Shanna probably would not have been surprised if Caitlin had told her she was a lesbian — Caitlin was that disinterested in men.
But canlı bahis siteleri all of these clues, now put into context by Billy’s bizarre phone call, were adding up to a very disturbing conclusion. One so revolting, so horrific, that she was beginning to worry about getting sick inside the cab. Luckily, it was only another few minutes until the driver pulled up to the hospital. She tossed a twenty into the front seat and jumped out of the cab, running as hard as she could into the hotel lobby, her heart pounding and her stomach turning.
“Hey, hey, HEY!” a man shouted. She felt someone grab her by the arm and turn her around. Struggling to catch her breath, she gasped for air as she looked up into a security guard’s face. His irate expression softened as he looked her up and down (much more subtly than Drunk Elevator Guy) and decided to be gentle with her.
“Are you okay, honey?” he asked, his anger turning to concern.
Ordinarily, she would have been annoyed at his patronizing term of endearment, but these were extenuating circumstances. Still panting, she assessed the situation within a second or two. Security Guy looked to be in his late twenties, and he was built like a rock. Tall, heavily muscled, and handsome, with dark brown hair and eyes, he wore no wedding ring. In his eyes was a hint of the sympathy that he was ready to give to her if she could only appeal to him. His name badge read ‘Doug Hampton.’
“Officer Hampton, please help me!” she gasped, instinctively falling into her Helpless Girl persona. The ‘officer’ title was a perfect addition designed to stroke his ego and get her upstairs to see Caitlin.
“Calm down and tell me what’s wrong,” he answered, his voice steady and reassuring.
“My sister, she was in trouble, or she is in trouble, I don’t know, but I got a call, and he told me to go see her, that she needs my help, and she’s in room 217, and I need to get to her!” The words tumbled out in a rush, and she realized that she wasn’t acting as Helpless Girl anymore, the fear had overtaken her and she temporarily was Helpless Girl.
“Okay, it’s past visiting hours, but I can walk you up to her and we’ll make sure she’s okay.” Doug Hampton started to smile at her comfortingly, then hesitated. “Wait, did you say room 217?”
“Yes, why?” she whispered. She hadn’t thought she could feel any sicker with dread, but here it was.
“Um, no reason. Let’s go,” he answered, taking her arm and leading her toward the elevators. As he hit the ‘up’ button, she looked up at him pleadingly.
“Tell me why,” she begged.
The elevator door opened, and they stepped in. His voice was quiet when he responded. “The police were here earlier…” Shanna gasped, and he quickly continued. “…but everything was fine, the last I heard. The patient, your sister I guess, and the cop staying with her, are perfectly fine. Some guy snuck into her hospital room, but she knocked him unconscious with a lamp.”
The elevator door opened, and he started to step out. When he noticed she wasn’t following him, Doug turned around. She had sunk to a crouched position inside of the elevator, hugging her knees to her chest. On her face was a dazed expression. Concerned, he stepped back inside the elevator and knelt down beside her.
“What’s your name, honey?” he asked in a steady voice.
“Shanna,” she whispered.
“Okay, Shanna, look at me,” he directed. He gently touched her chin to encourage her blue-green eyes to look into his brown ones. She stared at him miserably. “I want to help you, Shanna,” he continued. “But you need to tell me what’s wrong.”
“That man who snuck in…the man who wanted to hurt her…that was my brother…her stepbrother. I just found out tonight,” she answered quietly.
Doug’s face filled with sympathy, and he touched her arm lightly. “I’m sorry. I won’t even pretend to understand what you must be feeling right now. But why don’t I take you to see her, so that you can get the full story, okay?”
Shanna drew a shaky breath and nodded. Doug helped her to her feet, and walked with her to Caitlin’s room. After only a brief hesitation, she knocked gently on her sister’s door.
To be continued…
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