Authors: Donna Simmons
The fog lifted. Sara’s
throat was dry. This nightmare was different from the others. In this one, Ron
and Carl were both trying to send her away. She opened her eyes to the squeak
of rubber soles. A television was on, without volume, high up on the opposite
wall. Maybe she was still dreaming. She moved her head and it pulsed with pain.
“Welcome back. Need some
She nodded and regretted
the movement. He placed a straw between her lips and she sucked in the
wonderful wet of cool water. “How long?”
“Twenty-four hours. You
had us worried for a while, but they tell me you’re going to live.”
“Where’s your mother?”
“She’s standing guard
outside. The media have been like a pond of piranha.”
“He’s downstairs in
She tried to lift off the
bed only to find her arm tethered to an IV line.
Jordie held her down
until she gave up what little strength she had. “He’s all right, Sara. The
bullet grazed a rib and ricocheted. They want to find out where it finally
landed; I guess it didn’t come out. He wouldn’t even consider treatment until
you started showing signs of recovery. When they threatened to knock him out,
he finally gave in. I’m under orders not to leave your side or Mom and Matthew
Farrell will take away my paints.”
She laughed and it hurt.
“Jordie, no jokes, please.”
“Who’s joking? I’ll get
Mom. She’s going to be glad you’re awake.”
Sara closed her eyes for
a moment listening to the sounds of silence. The television was still on and
she searched for the remote to turn it off.
A tall man in hospital
scrubs with a stethoscope around his neck walked through the door. Sara tried
to respond, but her voice had shut down again. He sat down on the side of the
“Some day I would love to
hear the real story of how you came into my care.” He put the straw to her
lips. After she’d sipped he pulled it away.
“You don’t know?”
“Lots of important
looking badges were waved in my face when I asked. All I was given was a car
“That’s about it,” she
Another man shuffled into
the room wearing hospital scrubs, and a smile. Sara could feel herself smiling,
too. The doctor got to his feet. “Well, I guess three’s a crowd at this point.
I’ll leave you two alone.”
“Doc?” she asked. “How
long before we can get out of here?”
“People are always trying
to leave me,” he joked. “Most of your injuries are surface lacerations. Our
major concern was your head injury; you’ve got a decent size gash, concussion,
you’re dehydrated. I want to finish that fluid replacement.” He pointed to the
liquid dripping into her veins. “Now that you’re awake, a day maybe two with us
and I’ll let you go.”
He left and Matthew eased
his way into the chair. “You up to some conversation before anyone else
“Jordie says you refused
treatment. How bad is it?”
“I’ve got a slug wedged
against a rib. I’m all right.”
“Can they remove it?”
“They want to try.”
“I wanted to wait.
There’s something I need from you.”
“If it’s in my power.”
“The investigative team
is going to ask you some questions. I don’t know how much you remember with
your head injury.”
“We set a trap, something
about bait and a home-made explosive. You and Jonathon had a confrontation. I
think my car exploded. My mind is a little fuzzy on the rest. There was someone
else. Wait, it was the old gentleman from Chicago. No, he died. It was his
wife, dressed like him.”
“How did you know about
“Ruth had a picture in
her spare room. Taped to the back of it was an envelope yellowed with age. I
snitched it. Tucked inside was a newspaper clipping about an acting troupe
travelling around Europe: Ruth, Oscar, and another man. The other man died
years ago. He was the one who looked like the old gent. I figured she was using
his image in disguise. Oscar was too fragile to be the man we saw. Then he was
dead. Water please,” she rasped out.
He placed the straw
between her lips. “When you’re questioned, don’t mention Ruth, or any of her
disguises. She’s only useful in her anonymity.”
“I remember now. She
fired at my trunk, assuming the disk and cylinder were inside.”
“Actually she knew it was
the decoy. Jonathon didn’t. We needed to draw him out. The terrorist cell was
putting a lot of pressure on the seller. We just didn’t know what threat they
“Matt, what happened to
“He’s gone, Sara. He died
at the scene.”
“I remember Ruth shot the
car causing the explosion. Then, Jonathon shot you. I don’t remember anything
“The rest of it will
come. Mind if I turn up the television?”
filled the screen. He pushed a button on Sara’s remote and
increased the volume.
“A high ranking member of
Homeland Security announced moments ago the discovery of a terrorist plot to
blow up the satellite launch at Cape Canaveral today.
“Three middle eastern
men, we’re told, two from Pakistan and one a Syrian national, were arrested
early this morning. The launch has been put on hold until further
“In another story, we
have word from Australia that the Sydney opera house was a target for a bomb
scare.” Matthew turned down the volume again.
“You told them?”
“Sara, I promised you I’d
get them. What do you want to do when they let you out of here?”
“I would hope she hasn’t
lost faith in us,” Robert Starr said as he entered the room with a huge vase of
red roses. He set them on the stand beside the bed, bent down, and kissed her
cheek. “How are you doing, Sara?”
“I’ve had better days,
“You’ve got to get better
real soon. We need you. I’ve spoken to the board and we unanimously selected
you to be our new Financial VP – CFO if you like that title better. After all,
you’ve been filling in at that capacity for weeks.”
“After everything that’s
happened are you sure, Robert?”
“We need someone we can
trust. Jonathon Pierce left a resignation letter on his desk yesterday morning.
I believe he knew the investigation was pointing in his direction.”
“How did you know what he
was up to?” she asked.
“Do you remember Ross
Gordon’s outrageous accusations? He sent a letter to the feds with the evidence
he uncovered in order to discredit Jonathon. He was hoping to get him fired and
get his job. When Jonathon moved him to the west coast, Ross was determined to
expose him. We suspect Jonathon had Ross killed to shut him up.
“On another note, Elaina
is anxious to get her pet project under way and has signed Jordan O’Brien on as
artistic director for the foundation. She hopes the both of you will remain
with our foundation boards.” He nodded to Matthew, who’d managed to scoot his
chair closer to Sara’s bed, stroking his thumb over the top of her hand.
“This sure turned out to
be a real mess, Robert. I’m sorry about the bad publicity and about Jonathon
Pierce. I know he was your friend even if things went wrong in the end.”
“Don’t be, my dear, you
are more a victim here than I am or Starr Shine.”
Cass came in to the
hospital room holding a stuffed teddy bear and a paperback book. “Jordie told
me you finally opened your eyes. How are you feeling, hon?”
“Like I’ve been in an
explosion. What have you got there?”
“Something to cuddle and
a book of Sudoku to dust the cobwebs off your brain.”
“Matthew,” Cass added, “I
suppose you’ll be going back to Washington for another assignment.”
He looked into Sara’s
eyes, when he answered Cass.
“I’ve turned in my
retirement notice. I’m thinking of sticking around here, maybe working free
lance. And, I’ve just been reminded of my seat on the arts foundation advisory
“Anything else you need,
Sara?” she asked.
“I need time to heal and
time to grieve. I’ve learned you can’t block grief. You have to work through
“I have a good position
in a great company, and fantastic friends. I do have my friends, don’t I?” Sara
looked directly at Matthew.
“And more if you’re
willing to trust me,” he said.
“Complete trust is a
Eighteen months later,
Sara, Matthew, and their friends gathered around a Memorial Day bonfire behind
Matthew’s new home in Cape Elizabeth. Jonathon’s daughter had put the house on
the market when the investigation was finally complete.
had gone sour three years before. He’d sacrificed a lot of art before he’d
betrayed his country. None of this was made clear until after his funeral when
his will was read. Heavily in debt, with threats from both the Nazi group and
the Jihadist cell, Jonathon got desperate and hired sloppy. He didn’t
anticipate Sara’s intelligence or her strength. Who knew what horror would have
happened if she
trusted him. She shivered at the thought.
“Are you cold, love? Do
you need another cup of tea?”
“I’m floating on tea now,
Matthew.” She reached up and touched his hand.
“Cass just arrived. No,
don’t get up.”
“When are you going to
make an honest woman of her, Matthew?”
“When she finally changes
‘not yet’ to ‘yes’.”
“You should talk, Cass.”
Sara looked over her shoulder. “You’ve been stringing Ben along for seven
“I finally said yes.”
Cass stretched out her left hand showing off a sapphire bookended with
“Why didn’t you call me?”
“I just said yes this
morning. If I didn’t cut my cord to you, you were never going to say yes to
Ben and Jordie walk
around the side of the house carrying a large flat package.
“What have you got?” Sara
“It’s a gift for
Matthew.” He handed it over as Allen and Annette strolled into the back garden.
“Hey you two, how are you
doing?” Sara asked the new arrivals.
“We’re fine,” Allen said.
“Speak for yourself,
you’re not lugging the next generation of Cooks on top of your bladder.”
Annette poked her husband in the ribs.
“How’s the business,
“We signed a lucrative
contract with a couple on Long Island yesterday.”
“Enough to buy me out?”
Matthew unwrapped the
portrait of the two of them sailing off St. Thomas. “You painted that from our
digital shot. It looks great Jordie.”
“Okay folks, I think most
of us are here.” Matthew raised his glass of ginger ale. “I propose a toast to
all those we’ve loved and lost.”
“To Carl,” Sara started;
“and Stacey,” Jordie added; “and Joe Stein,” Louise put in; “and Ron,” Sara
added with a tight throat; “and Oscar,” Cass said; “and Ross,” Steve said; “and
Thomaston,” Matthew said; “and to Jonathon, the man I once called my best
friend,” Robert finished their toast. Elaina, walking through the mowed lawn
beside him, carried a cloth covered casserole in her hands.
“How is my CFO doing
today?” Robert put a comforting arm around Sara’s shoulders as she reached out
for the casserole Elaina was in danger of dumping.
“I’m fine Robert. Elaina,
what do we have here?”
“It’s a lobster
casserole. The first one I’ve made without disaster to my kitchen.”
After they’d eaten and
their guests were settled on lawn chairs a safe distance from a pyramid of
wood, Matthew lit the fire. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our memorial
light for friends and loved ones gone.” When it flared up toward the heavens he
tossed in a hanging glove. Sara added shiny pieces of a compact disk to the
Peace was finally
settling within her heart. She knew now her family was not gone; they were the
very fiber of her soul.
Grief can tear you apart
Secrets can destroy you
But, Love can give you hope
Peace can only come from within