“Come on love, don’t do that here.”
The voice was soft, just like the fingers that curled under my armpits and lifted me from the floor. My legs couldn’t hold me, and I ended up pulled into his side for support as I slumped over. Mind reeling with too many thoughts to focus on, my skin was prickling with goose bumps as my stomach twisted and I gagged.
This wasn’t right. This couldn’t be happening to me. How could they be gone? Lifting my head was a struggle as my eyes glazed over the room. There had been machines around the beds, their little bodies had left sweat stains. It couldn’t have been a dream. Damon’s wet cough echoed in my ears and I shuddered.
How could this happen?
“Something isn’t right here,” one man mused. Footsteps padded around the room, but my gaze focused on nothing. Butterflies tumbled in my stomach and their wings fluttered up my throat, I hiccupped. Chest heaving, I struggled to gather air. Heat pooled in my lungs and gasping, I hunched over. What’s happening to me? My eyes continued to bleed out salty tears and I panted, yet I couldn’t gain enough breath.
“Hush, love, it’s ok. We’ll find them,” that soothing voice coiled around me. It tried to embed itself in my mind and ease the agony that was assaulting me, yet it failed. My shoulders curled inward, rising up to press against my neck and shield myself from his words.
What had I done? Why had I left? Idiot! You idiot, Alyssa!
Jerking away from him, I stumbled and pressed against the window. My fingers rapidly tapped the screen as they trembled, and I clenched my fists. Head bowed, I banged it on the glass. They were here? Nurses and doctors saw to-.
His name was a breath on my lips before I was twisting away and dashing out of the room. Voices cried out to me as the door slammed shut, sealing them away. I was down the stairs and whirling through the halls to get to the nurse’s station.
The young nurse jumped and spilt coffee onto her shirt when I smashed into the counter. She cursed, yanking her shirt from her skin as the stain spread.
“Where is Dr. Jarros?!”
“Excuse me?!” she snapped back as she dabbed at the dark patch with a cloth. Her brows furrowed as she scowled from me to the mark.
“I’m sorry but please tell me where Dr. Jarros is!”
Other patrons looked up from where they waited as my voice hitched. I knew what they saw, a hysterical woman, shivering at the counter with ragged curly hair and unsteady glasses.
It’s a wonder the crazy ward hadn’t been called yet, I mused.
“I don’t know who that is. We don’t have a Dr. Jarros on roster,” she sighed, her thoughts no doubt melding with mine as her voice took on that low, customer-service tone. Giving up on her uniform, she leant forward and tapped on her keyboard.
“He works here. I spoke to him earlier about my sons!”
“And your sons are?”
“Damon and Ryan Gracer. They were admitted this morning for severe illness symptoms. They were rushed to isolation I think,” I gushed out, leaning over the counter to watch as she searched up their names.
*No Patients Matching That Name Present Currently*
“I’m sorry, but are you sure you’re at the correct hospital?”
My eyes were glued to the screen declaring that my sons were never admitted. My head grew woozy and I slumped slightly on the counter, my fingers clenching around the edge. “That doesn’t…”
“I’m sorry ma’am, my wife has had a very troubling and stressful day,” declared a voice behind me.
An arm encased my waist as I was forced back from the counter. My hands falling limp to my sides, as shudders wrecked my body. Fingers curled around mine, tightening to suppress the motions. “She has rushed into the wrong hospital,” He continued soothingly, tucking me into his side. “Our sons are in St. Georges.”
The nurse brightened up at the appearance of Dean and I peered from her to him, watching her eyes glitter as she smiled and leant forward. Her arms pressed into her sides, pushing her breasts out against the stained shirt. “Oh! That’s completely understandable! I hope they are ok. Is there anything I can help you with?”
His lips quirked at her sudden perky mood, leaning forward more despite no cleavage being able to be seen by her uniform. Dean smiled then before those raging blue eyes flitted down to me.
“Come on darling, let’s go,” He urged turning away from the nurse without another word. I was led from the waiting area, eyes following as the other four men closed in around us. Shielded from prying eyes, Dean released me yet continued to tug on my hand. Once again, my body shook as insects seemingly imbedded themselves in my gut and tickled my insides. I coughed, pressing my eyes into my free hand as they stung once more.
“I’m not lying,” I gasped as I was pressed into the car. Nathan nudged me into the centre as once again grey eyes took the left and Dean was in the front. “I’m n-not…I swear.”
“We know, love, we know.”
“That room stank of bleach,” grey eyes muttered swatting at his nose. “Too much. I swear it-.”
“What’s your address?” Dean questioned, shooting him a glare that shut him up before he continued.
“14A, Block C on Riverside Apartments,” I mumbled, dabbing my eyes with the tissue Nathan passed to me. His hand patted my knee gently before a weird growl echoed from the speakers and he grinned pulling it away.
My phone beeped causing me to jump in my seat as it vibrated in my pocket. Three sets of eyes turned to watch as I fumbled to get it from my pocket. It slipped through my fingers and grey eyes caught it before twisting it to see the screen.
“Hey…” I muttered reaching to grab it, but he caught my fingers. His hold was gentle yet firm as his gaze scanned the device.
“Jared,” Dean huffed. “Give her the phone.”
“Who’s Clari?” Jared questioned, turning his focus onto him. He released my hand yet kept the phone away from me. “And why is she threatening to call a missing person for you?”
“What?” Gasping, I lunged closer to him and snatched his wrist. My nails dug into his skin as I tried to pry the phone from him. He hissed lightly but pushed me back into Nathan who steadied me.
“Give it to me!”
“Answer first,” he snapped back.
“You have no right, you dick! She is my friend and if you must know she helped me find him!” My thumb jerked to indicate Dean who rolled his eyes and leant back. His fingers snatched the phone from Jared yet as I was about to smile and thank him, he settled back into the front seat and began typing.
I scooted forward towards the front and frowned at him. His fingers were moving quickly over the keypad as he replied something and I furrowed my brows further, “What are you doing?”
“Telling her you’re fine,” He answered as he locked the screen and tossed the phone into my lap. “She doesn’t need to know about the kids or us for that matter.”
“What? Why not?! She’s like my sister. She coul-,” my voice trailed off as he twisted his neck and pinned me with this ice eyes.
“Everyone is a threat and until I find my sons, no one is to know,” he growled, his upper lip curling in distaste as he scanned me with his gaze. I held his eyes with my own, my lips pressed together while my fingers gripped the phone.
“You’re not the boss of me.”
I wanted it to sound powerful. I wanted to be strong but the more he looked at me the more I wanted to give into the urge to back away and cower. There was something intense about his eyes, as if something prowled behind them, I didn’t want to see. A power or a threat of something horrible he could do.
It was the driver who broke the tension, his voice soft as the car pulled up, “We’re here.”
Nathan held the door for me as I scooted out and my eyes drifted over the tall building that had happily been our home for five years. I inhaled deeply, fishing my keys from my handbag as I slipped by the others and darted up the steps.
They followed close behind as I ascended the stairs and slowly unlocked my door. Visions of happier times slapped me in the face as I stepped inside and was confronted with the half mess, I’d made the night before in preparation for their birthday. In the rush this morning, I hadn’t noticed it and now unease washed over me as the men pressed in.
I stood to the side, taking in the Batman and Spiderman balloons that bounced against the ceiling in the living room. The small couch that faced our TV had a marvel blanket tossed over it and I could even see into the hall where some of the presents I’d dropped were scattered on the floor.
“Definitely not lying about the kids,” the man with a mop of black curls mused as he stepped around the room. He knelt down and picked up a toy racer, his nostrils flaring as he turned it over.
“Get searching,” Jared replied as he stepped away from the others towards the hall. The men broke apart as I stumbled towards the couch and collapsed into it. I could hear them shuffling around, searching for what I didn’t know. It’s not like my sons would magically turn up here.
“Where would they be? Who would take them? Why?”
My questions were muttered aloud as my head fell into my hands. The move caused my glasses to ride up my nose and press painfully into my skin, yet I didn’t ease up. More useless tears fell from my eyes and splattered onto the glass.
Someone was walking slowly around the living room and I heard scraping as he grabbed something. Peering through my fingers I watched Dean, his eyes shadowed as he gazed at the photo in his grasp. Unaware of my gaze, he let his fingers trail over the image he was looking at and I knew it to be one of my sons.
He turned the frame around and unclasped it, pulling the photo free as he held it up. I dropped my hands and scowled at him. He couldn’t do that! Pressing my palms to my seat I went to stand and snatch it back when one of the men stepped into the room.
“What is the meaning of this?”
Dean snapped his gaze to him, and I paused watching him pocket the photo before turning too. The dark-skinned male was holding my laptop in his hands and was pointing a white screen at me.
Dean stepped closer, scanning the screen before he clenched his fists and snatched the device. It was flung onto the couch beside me as he stomped closer and jabbed a finger at my chest. “What the fuck kind of game are you playing?”
“Dean...” Nathan warned as the others pressed into the room. Suddenly it was too small and I leant back into the cushions, my shoulders hunching as he glowered down at me.
“Save it, Nate,” he snapped back before picking up the laptop and forcing it onto my lap. “Explain now!”
I darted a look from him to the screen to see my emails was open. They went through my shit! But my irritation was brief as my eyes read the email that was open.
Thank you for looking after the boys, but you are no longer needed.
“Fucker,” I breathed, the words blurring to my eyes the longer I stared at it. This couldn’t be happening. No way. ‘No longer needed,’ as if I was a nanny and not their mother! “That son of a bitch!”
The laptop was propelled back onto the couch as I lurched to my feet. My hands fisted in my hair, tugging on knots and pulling on strands as I stepped away from Dean. Yet he reached out and snatched hold of my shoulder forcing me to face him.
“That’s my name, but not my email. Who the fuck have you been talking to?”
“You! I thought it was you! For five years someone has been depositing money into an account on their birthday! I thought it was your way of keeping me away after all the times I called!”
“I didn’t know-!”
“I KNOW THAT NOW!” I screamed, my voice echoing around the room with such a volume that some of the men winced. I panted, glowering up at Dean who stared back. His hold on my shoulder strengthened and pain shot through my system. I gripped his wrist and yanked hard, forcing him to release me as I backed away.
It wasn’t him…
All this time, all these years and that money. It wasn’t coming from Dean. It wasn’t a way to keep me quiet or to ease his guilt with not being involved with the boys. It wasn’t him.
My breath stuttered out of my lungs; lips parted as blood fled from my face. If it wasn’t Dean, then…
“Who has been emailing me?”