Finally finished chapter 8!! Some big twists so this is not the chapter to miss!!! Only a few more chapters left until I publish!! I am starting chapter 9 as we speak. I have all night to write so let’s see how far I get in chapter 9! So enjoy chapter 8 below!! It is a little short..we are getting to the end, readers!!
I’m sitting on the couch next to him. He has a pad of paper open to a blank page, pen in hand. My head is in my hands as I slowly explain to Jason exactly what happened ten years ago. He is quiet as he takes notes and listens to me cry and tell my story again. I tell him about how my father used to beat my mother, how he killed her, how he went after me next, and how I stabbed him in self-defense. I tell him about how he was supposed to spend life in prison, but he must’ve pulled strings to get out early because he is Chicago’s best defense attorney. I tell him about how my father is after me to kill me, and about why I changed my name. I even tell him about Aunt Bethany and the part she played in my life protecting me. I tell him everything including how he was right; I never intended on falling in love with him. I tried avoiding him at all costs. I never once notice Shayna standing in the doorway listening as tears stream down her face. I hurt her, too, and I feel ashamed of myself for letting all of this go on for so long. I try to get any emotion out of Jason’s expression, but as always, he is so hard to read. He isn’t Jason anymore, he is Deputy Steth.
Jason remains silent as he paraphrases on his note pad everything I’m saying to him. Never once does he look up at me which makes me cry even more. What would life be like with him if I was a normal girl with no problems I was hiding from? Lately, that question has been running through my head like wildfire.
When I am finished talking, he closes his note pad and without looking at me he says, “OK, I will take this into the office tomorrow and start working on a plan of protection with Sheriff Williams. Until then, this is all we can do is stay here for tonight.”
“Do you think Sherriff Williams will help you, Jason?” Shayna asks quietly from the doorway. First time she has spoken throughout this entire confession.
“He has no choice if I make him,” Jason responds in a quiet voice as he stands up from the couch where we are sitting. “I’ll figure it out tomorrow.”
He walks slowly into the guest bedroom that is off to the side of the living area we are in, and closes the door softly behind him leaving me and Shayna to stare silently at each other.
“I know I’ve hurt you, too, Shayna. Just know that everything I said to you about being the best worker I’ve ever had was all true. I understand if you don’t believe me right now. I know one day you will.”
“I always believed you, Hope,” Shayna says softly. “What I can’t understand is that if I was your best friend, why didn’t you tell me before now? It just hurts to know that you didn’t even trust me like you should’ve. All the times I was there for you and confided in you about things I’ve never told anyone…you couldn’t even do the same for me. If anyone should be sorry, it should be me for allowing myself to trust you like that.”
“Shayna…” More tears are rolling down my face.
“It’s done, Hope. Whatever comes of this will be. I’ve always had your back…even now. I just feel like the fool for doing so.”
“You will always be my best friend,” I choke out as she turns away from me, and walks away; wiping tears from her eyes as she does so.
I am alone. Not in the sense of physically being alone in the room, but alone in the sense of knowing I’m by myself in this situation. I always have been. I can’t count on anyone being there and understanding what I’m going through; what I’ve been going through for the last ten years of my life. It’s always down to me, myself, and I. This is why Aunt Bethany didn’t want me getting too close to anyone. I now understand the meaning behind her protection and her words of trying to keep me away from everyone. Aunt Bethany…
My mind wanders to Aunt Bethany. I know I should go visit her again to see how she is doing. I know she isn’t getting any better, and she won’t, but she needs to hear me say I was wrong before she decides to leave this earth and leave me alone. She is, and was, the only person that was ever there for me; the only person that kept me from feeling alone in this world.
Immediately, I scramble with all my belongings, and run out of the house…again. This time without anyone realizing I’m running. I pull my phone out of my pocket and call for a cab because my car is locked up in the garage of Jason’s house. I’m too frazzled to go back now and try to get it out, especially if I don’t want them knowing I’m running again.
The cab takes me all the way to UW-Madison hospital, where Aunt Bethany has been staying for the last few days. The driver takes me all the way without me even glancing back into the distance. I don’t think about Jason or Shayna or even the situation that we are all in because of me. All I think about is staring straight ahead into the future; to keep moving forward.
The cab drops me off at the front door. I don’t hesitate when I get out and throw the driver a fifty-dollar bill. He looks at me astonished as I turn and run into the hospital building. I take the elevator to the ICU floor; once there, I run all the way down to Aunt Bethany’s room. I pass nurses and doctors on the way, all of them yelling at me to slow down. I don’t listen to them. I barely hear them as thoughts of Aunt Bethany run through my head. I must get to her…
Doctor Dalorez is in her room once I reach it. I come to an abrupt halt at the doorway. Everyone in the room is quiet. All I hear is my heart pounding profusely. What is happening? I watch as Doctor Dalorez walks around the room looking distraught. After a few moments, she spots me. Her expression grows saddened as she makes her way slowly toward me; almost like she’s contemplating what she’s about to say to me.
“Destiny…” she says quietly in recognition.
“Doctor Dalorez…what’s going on?” I choke out.
She sighs. That is when I notice the bags under her eyes. She must’ve been called in last night and been here ever since.
“Please talk to me!” I exclaim. I hadn’t noticed how loud I was until I spot every doctor and nurse looking at me from every angle on the floor.
She shakes her head. “Go in and see her. When you are finished, please come to my office. We can talk there.”
She leaves me without saying another word.
I walk into Aunt Bethany’s room to find the same setup of tubes on her. The only difference is that it appears she can no longer talk according to the handwritten message on the white board. There is a tube going down her throat which I assume is for food. Her breathing is very raspy as I come closer to her so she can see me.
“I must leave, Aunt Bethany. I can’t stay here anymore. I don’t know how much longer I am safe here now that my secret is getting out. God only knows when that man is going to come here and find me again…I just…couldn’t leave without saying…goodbye to you,” I stutter out as tears come flowing down my cheeks. How do I do this? How do I say goodbye to my Aunt that is already dying? How do I say goodbye early? How do I let her know I will not be attending her funeral? This is the last time her and I will see each other…
She stares up at me as tears form in her eyes as well. I can tell she wants to say something, but can’t.
“I’m leaving today. I’m going out and starting a new life where I will be safe again. I know you will find me…your spirit will. I believe that. I have to. I need you to know something before I leave…you were right. You always were. I was stupid for fighting with you and for disobeying you. I want you to know you will always be in my heart…I will be using the tools to survive you always taught to me growing up…so, don’t worry about me.” I lean in and give her a kiss on the forehead. “I love you, Aunt Bethany. I always will and I will never forget you.”
Just as I say what I need to say to her, the machine starts beeping indicating she had flat lined. No longer breathing. She stayed with me as long as she could because she knew this day would come where I would come in and explain everything to her and say my goodbyes. She held on for that.
I put my hand to my mouth trying to keep in the choking sobs as I back away from her. Nurses start filing into the room one by one. As soon as there’s enough nurses in the room, I run for the door and down the hallway before the doctor comes in. She said she wanted to speak to me, and honestly, I have nothing to hear form her or say to her. My time here is done.
I run until I am outside the hospital again, but don’t stop there. I keep running with the road in my focus; I’ll call a cab once I’m walking down the road.
SMACK! I am on the ground, hurting. My lungs are fighting for air. It all happened so fast I barely had time to register the arms wrapping around me, one around my body and the other one around my neck. Those same arms holding me tight, and then throwing me on the asphalt ground. I continue to lay there as the pain through my head throbs harder with every second that passes. My lungs are stinging from the lack of air in those short seconds. I move a hand to my head, which is then instantly covered in blood. I am bleeding…badly.
A foot is pushing me over to face the person whom hurt me. I close my eyes not wanting to see them, but a voice makes me open them in shock.
“I told you no more running!” The voice says, angrily.
“Jason? Why…what…?” I stumble on my words trying to make sense of this situation. All the while, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in my head.
Jason bends down, and picks me up by the collar of my shirt. He holds me up to him by the collar of my shirt, which makes me lose even more air in my lungs.
“Hope, the things you have done to me…when I tell you not to run, you run anyway. What is wrong with you?!” He shouts in my face as he shakes me vigorously.
“Jason…you…hurt me,” I whisper out in as much feeling as I possibly can.
“Now, you know how it feels to be hurt, Hope…”
“Put her down,” a deeper voice says calmly from the behind Jason.
My heart instantly stops as I realize that voice belongs to my father. What is going on? My eyes never leave him as he makes his way up to us, to me. Jason lowers me to the ground, not taking his angry eyes off me, and keeping my arms in his tight grasp.
“Hmm, you’re bleeding, Destiny,” my father says matter-of-factly, running on hand across my forehead.
I flinch at the touch as my body tenses, Jason’s grasp growing tighter.
“Listen, Destiny, we need to talk. Let’s catch up! It has been, what, ten years?” Angst says in what seems to be a professional voice.
I nod, scared of what is about to happen. Confused as to why Jason is helping him. Was this part of the plan all along? Was I the fool from the beginning when I thought I had fooled everyone else?
“Why are you helping him?” I choke out, looking right at Jason.
His eyes grow saddened at the creases, but keeps his eyes locked on mine the entire time my father explains.
“You see, Destiny, he was always on my side right from the beginning. I hired him to follow you, and keep an eye on you. He would report to me daily on your whereabouts and the things you had been up to. I met him while I was in prison. He was one of the academy students touring the prison one day. Right after he graduated, he had gotten the job as the courtroom bailiff. When I was relieved of prison time, I paid him to drive me back to our home in Chicago. That is where I hired him as my detective. I gave him the necessary tools he needed to get a job in Arlington as the new night police officer, so he could spy on you and not get caught. I also hired his sister to get close to you as well. Why do you think your aunt didn’t want them in your life? She knew this entire time about them the moment those detectives spotted you and her at that restaurant ten years ago. You see, I was always in the loop just waiting on the perfect time to make my final move.”
I look over at Jason, whom is still staring at me and holding me by my wrists as tightly as he can.
“Now I see why you were always so eager to turn me in. Why? Why would you make me fall in love with you? Why would you lie to me? Did you even have a girlfriend that died or was that some bullshit story you were feeding me all this time?”
Jason sighs and looks at my father. My father nudges him the OK to speak.
“Yes, I did have a girlfriend I loved very much. However, the man who killed her happened to be your father. He ran her off the road causing her car to flip four times down into the ditch on the side of the road. I was the first officer that arrived on the scene and your father was there. I recognized him from the trip to the prison in Chicago.” Jason takes a deep breath and looks at the ground as he continues the rest of his explanation. “He killed her because I had failed to do what he asked of me. As soon as I graduated from the academy, he sent me to find you…I had a very small time limit window. He said if I couldn’t get you to him by the time he had asked, I was going to pay…and I did. I lost her…because of my actions. I went on and resented myself for losing her the way I did…” Tears are now streaming down his face, but he keeps talking. “I made it my mission then to find you…to repay her memory. Shayna wanted to turn you in right away…but I wouldn’t let her…”
“Why?” I almost shout.
He looks at me just then at the sound of harshness in my voice.
“Because I fell in love with you, and I’ll be damned if I lose you, too.”
Just then, the sound of gun shots being fired run through my ears, but only aimed at one thing: my father. Jason has me pinned on the ground as he tries to cover me from the bullets flying through the air.
I am so confused…what is going on? What do I believe? The last forty-eight hours of my life have been all sorts of inside out, and twisted. Is all of this for real?
I push against Jason to try and free myself from underneath his body that has me pinned in this awkward position on the hard ground. He notices my struggle and pushes my body harder into the asphalt, making it impossible to even try to escape.
Out of the side of my eye, I see the salute of my father fall to the ground after hearing what seemed like hundreds of gun shots being fired. He falls next to me and remains motionless.
“Come check him!” Jason is yelling at the person whom was shooting at my father.
As the person approaches my father’s dead body, I am taken by surprise that much more because the person holding the rifle is Shayna; a tiny girl that I didn’t think was capable of even operating a gun. Her brother is law enforcement, so she probably took lessons from him…
She pokes his body a few times and announces he’s dead. She shoots him one more time just to make sure.
I am frozen in shock at the entire scene that played out before my eyes as Jason picks me up off the ground. He carries me as he follows Shayna back towards the hospital doors.
The first nurse he sees he flags down and tells her to take me to a room, and that I’ve been a victim in a violent crime. He assures the nurse he’s a police officer by showing her his badge after he sets me down on top of a bed she brings over. Once she starts taking me to a room, I hear Jason tell Shayna to call the sheriff and get them down here to take care of my dead father in the parking lot.
Once the nurse has the bed arranged in a room, Jason tells her to inspect my entire body. I try to sit up and tell him I’m fine, only to be pushed back down by him, and told to lay still.
“Can you be more specific, sir, about the violent crimes she was a victim of?” The nurse asks Jason as she starts to undress me in front of him. “I need to know what kind of injuries I’m checking her for.”
My eyes are wide as I realize his eyes are on me; all of me.
“A shooting that happened right outside in the parking lot,” he replies quietly.
The nurse nods and continues her pursuit in undressing me and checking for injuries. Jason keeps is eyes on me as I become more and more naked. I am frozen in shock as I realize that Jason has never seen all of me naked. We had that touchy-feely make out session that got quickly interrupted…
I feel a pang of hurt as I remember that day. Feels like forever ago…when it was only just days ago. So much has changed and happened since then, including finding out he was working with my father this whole time. He made me fall in love with him…only to turn me in.
He sees the flicker of hurt and disappointment in my eyes. His eyes grow sad as he turns and looks away from me as the nurse continues to examine my naked body.
“Mr. Steth, I found an open wound on the back of her head that needs a few stitches. Otherwise she is good to go,” the nurse explains a few moments later. “I’m going to go get the doctor to clean it up for you.”
“Thank you,” Jason replies, not once turning around to face me or the nurse as she walks out of the room.
We are alone in the room. Neither of us says anything while we wait for the doctor which isn’t long at all. The doctor sedates the spot on my head after she cleans it, and it takes her what feels like thirty seconds to stitch it up. Jason tells her to medicate me for the pain, which puts me to sleep.
The only thing I hear as sleep consumes me is the low humble of Jason’s voice and the beep of the heartrate monitor next to me.