Part One: Safest Place to Hide

Elizabeth switched the phone to her other ear and examined her heater. “Hey, Ric, it’s me. I know you’re still at the station but I didn’t want you to come home and not find me. I’m at the studio–and yes, the heater is on. For once. I won’t be long–I just wanted to paint while I still could.”

She hung up the phone and crossed to her easel, grabbing an old sketchpad and some charcoal. She arranged herself on the stool and started working on a scene from a photograph she’d taken while they were in Charleston.

A loud banging roused her a few minutes later. She stood as quickly as she could and went to the door. “Who’s there?”

“Elizabeth!”

Her eyes widened. “Jason?”

“Elizabeth, let me in!”

He sounded wrong, Elizabeth decided. Slow–and his voice was right against the door like he was slumped against it. She hurriedly unlocked the various locks and yanked the door. Jason stumbled and almost fell but she propped him against the wall.

“Jason, Jesus, what happened?” Elizabeth demanded, fearfully.

“I…” Jason cleared his throat and blinked. “I don’t know.” His hand went to his side. “Was I shot again?”

“Oh my God, were you?” She pushed his leather jacket open to search for a wound. “I don’t see anything.” Elizabeth pressed a hand to his cheek. “You look…” she frowned. “You look like you’ve been drugged.”

“I…” he licked his lips. “Was I?”

“Okay, come and sit down. You need to sit and I can’t keep you up. Come on.” He slumped against her and she struggled to cross the room under his extra weight.

He fell onto the couch and Elizabeth sat next to him, pulling his jacket off. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I was…I was at Shadybrooke…” Jason frowned. “I don’t…Carly was there. I…was trying to bring her home.”

“Why is Carly at Shadybrooke?”

“I’m not…she’s…” Jason shook his head. “It’s all…I can’t think.”

“Okay, okay.” Elizabeth tossed his jacket to the floor and pulled the comforter off the back of the couch to spread over him. As she was pulling it over his chest, she saw the tiny blood spot on his t-shirt. Frowning, she reached for the hem of the shirt and yanked it up. “Oh God, you have been drugged. There’s a needle mark here–a-and you’re bleeding.” Worried, she reached under the couch for the first aid kit.

She dabbed some peroxide on a bandage and pressed it to the tiny wound. “Jason, you have to think. Who had the needle?”

He shook his head. “I don’t–don’t remember.” His eyes closed and his head lolled a little.

“No, don’t sleep. I don’t–who knows what you were given. Stay awake, Jason or I’m calling an ambulance,” she threatened.

That got his attention and his eyes snapped open. “No…no ambulance.”

“Okay, but you have to tell me what happened. You were at Shadybrooke, trying to get Carly. Were you with Carly? Was she being drugged and you stopped it?”

Jason frowned and shook his head. “No. She…was there and…so was a doctor. The…doctor had it, I think.”

“Okay, now how did you end up with it jammed in your chest?” Elizabeth demanded.

“Carly was fighting.” He hesitated. “It was a…a sedative I think. She didn’t want it.”

“Sedative…no, that’s good. That means you’re not in any real danger.” She smoothed his hair off his slightly sweating forehead. “You’ll just sleep and it’ll be okay. You just feel tired right? No pain?”

He shook his head. “No…just tired.”

“Jason…” Elizabeth hesitated. “Why did you come here? Why didn’t you go home?”

He frowned and glanced around a little. “I thought…I was going home. But…I guess I didn’t get there.”

“I live in the complete opposite direction of the penthouse,” Elizabeth shook her head and sighed. “I really don’t understand you sometimes.”

“I’m sorry…” he sighed, his voice fading and his eyes closed. “I just…I wanted to feel safe.”

“It’s okay.” Elizabeth covered him with the comforter and stood to push his legs onto the couch. “Just sleep, it’s fine.” She tugged his boots off and set them and his jacket on a nearby chair. By the time she turned back to Jason, he was asleep.

He’d come to her to feel safe.

Well, hell. Way to complicate her life.

Comments

  • Very good start and I’m glad he told Elizabeth he felt safe with her.

    According to Carla P on August 20, 2021
  • I don’t think I ever read this. It’s already interesting.

    According to arcoiris0502 on January 9, 2022