Chapter no 46

The Locked Door

When I wake up, I’m all alone in a blindingly white hospital room.

My head is pounding and my mouth feels like I’ve been licking sandpaper. It takes some amount of effort to pry my eyes open. I noticed there’s an IV in my left arm, dripping the contents of a bag of normal saline into my vein.

I also notice that I don’t have any handcuffs on. My leg isn’t shackled to the bed. So I take that as a positive sign.

I search my bed for some sort of call button. I want to know what’s going on. What happened after I passed out in the basement? Where is Harper?

I look up at the clock ticking on the wall. It reads two o’clock. Based on the fact that it’s pitch black outside, I’m assuming that means it’s two in the morning.

I press my thumb firmly into the call button, and I wait for a nurse to come. I try to sit up in bed, but the pounding in my head intensifies. God, I feel awful.

After a few minutes, a woman comes into my room in flower print scrubs. She’s got an ID badge dangling from her neck that has the name Paula printed in big black letters. She gives me a perfunctory smile. “So you’re woken up, have you, Dr. Davis?”

I appreciate the professional courtesy, but I don’t want to be Dr. Davis right now. “Nora,” I correct her.

“Nora,” she repeats.

“Am I…” I swallow even though it hurts. “Under arrest?” “No, I don’t think so. Should you be?”

“I…” I shake my head, which makes the pounding intensify. “I’m having trouble remembering what happened. How did I get here?”

“Well,” Paula says, “my understanding is that you were drugged pretty significantly and an ambulance brought you to the emergency room, where they gave you medicine to reverse the effects of the sedative they found in your bloodstream. But your friend may have more information than I do.”


She raises an eyebrow. “Or is it your boyfriend? We wouldn’t let him in, but if you’d like to see him, I’ll go get him. He said his name is Brady. I’m sure he’ll be relieved to hear you’re okay.”

I lick my lips, which feel dry and cracked. “He’s waiting outside?” “He’s been here since you got here. About three hours.”

I nod, setting off another jab of pain. “Let him come in.”

Despite my headache and the fact that I prefer being alone, I feel desperate to see Brady. It’s only after Paula leaves that I start to become concerned with how I look. If I look anything the way I feel, I’m not sure how excited I am for him to see me. But then again, if he’s been waiting here for over three hours, it would be mean not to let him in.

A few minutes later, the door to my room cracks open. I call out to come in, and a second later, Brady slides through the door. He looks about like I would expect him to look after sitting in a waiting room for three hours. His brown hair is disheveled and there are circles under his eyes. But he manages a smile.

“You’re okay,” he says.

“Thanks to you,” I point out.

He snorts. “You looked like you were doing pretty well.”

I flash back to the moment when I managed to pin Harper down and get her to release that gun. It felt like I had the upper hand. But I had a lot of medication in my system. I don’t know how long I could have kept it up. If Brady hadn’t shown up…

“How did you know to come down there?” I say.

He rubs his slightly bloodshot eyes. “You just seemed so freaked out. I was worried. So I came over, and your front door was unlocked.”

Right. I had been about to leave when I heard the noise from the basement.

“I just had this feeling something was wrong,” he murmurs. “But Christ, I never could have imagined…”

“Yeah,” I breathe. “I… I’m sorry I freaked out at your house. Mrs.

Chelmsford’s niece told me you didn’t have a daughter, and I thought…”

He ducks down his head. “Oh… uh, I’m not going to lie to you… things are tight for me financially now and it would have meant paying extra rent if I told her Ruby would be staying with me. So I wasn’t entirely honest with her.”

Of course, that makes a lot of sense. I wish I had given him a chance to explain. But I was too scared.

A thought suddenly occurs to me. “Philip. Is he okay? The guy strapped to the chair…”

Brady is quiet for long enough that I’m worried the answer is no. “He’s alive,” he finally says. “But I heard he’s not in good shape. Luckily for you, he came around enough to tell the police that you weren’t the one who did that to him.”

I grab a handful of the blanket with my fist. Poor Philip. He’s got to pull through. It was all my fault this happened to him.

But at least he has a fighting chance. If I hadn’t gone down to the basement, Harper would have killed him for sure.

“What about Harper?” I ask.

“The girl is in custody,” he says. “Once your partner ratted her out, she confessed everything. Killing those two women. I heard part of it. It sounded like she was proud of it.”

I’ll bet she was. But if the circumstances were different, she would have been all too happy for me to take the fall for everything she did.

Brady is looking down at me with an unreadable expression on his face. I feel a sudden rush of affection.

“Thank you,” I blurt out.

His brow furrows. “For what?”

“For…” I remember when Brady showed up in the basement and picked up the gun. I was certain he was going to think I was the murderer. But instead, he pointed the gun at Harper. “For believing me when I told you I didn’t do it.”

He sits down on the edge of my bed. “I spent a lot of time thinking about it the last few days, and I know you. You’re a good person, Nora. I don’t care who your father is. I knew you couldn’t do something like that.”

I reach for his hand. For the last twenty-six years, I’ve been terrified of what people would think if they found out my secret. But he knows and he still respects me. He still likes me. “Thank you.”

“Also…” He squeezes my hand. “Harper had a big knife strapped to her calf. She had it in a sheath, like she was a pirate or a samurai.”

“Oh.” How did I miss that? Well, the basement was dark. “Still. I appreciate it.”

He sits there at the edge of the bed, holding my hand. The first time I ever met Brady when we were in college, I thought he was a nice guy. Someone I could really get to like. But I was scared to get to know him. Scared to have a relationship, because of where I thought it might lead.

Maybe, after twenty-six years, it’s time to stop being scared.

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