Written in 58 minutes. Did a spellcheck but not a reread.
General Hospital: Hallway
The world around her fell away. The bright, fluorescent lights, the clean anti-septic smell, the squeaking of shoes against the floor, the beeping of monitors, and the hushed voices —
All of it melted away as Elizabeth stared at the man who had been the center of all her nightmares. Her vision narrowed until it was pinpricks of light in a dark world —
There was something cold and wet against her back, and she could feel the slush of snow under her fingernails as she dug her hands into the ground, bucking wildly against the heavy weight on top her—why couldn’t she scream—why couldn’t she—
“Whoa, whoa—” Dimly she heard a panicked voice from somewhere far away but she couldn’t breath. She couldn’t force air into her lugs—she couldn’t scream, couldn’t speak, couldn’t—
Patrick barely spared a glance for the pair of men as one of them dragged away the new guy—Elizabeth’s face was chalk white as she slid to the ground, Patrick grabbing for her just before she hit the linoleum. “Damn it,” he hissed. He whipped his head around. “Can someone—”
“What’s wrong?” Griffin Munro darted across the hallway, kneeling next to Elizabeth who was still gasping for air, clutching at her throat. “What happened?”
“I don’t—” Patrick just stared in abject horror as the younger doctor attempted to lift her into his arms but Elizabeth began to fight wildly, kicking—and now she was screaming— “Baby, hey—”
“We need a sedative—”
“Wait, wait—” Patrick warded off a nurse who was coming towards them with a syringe. “She’s pregnant,” he bit out. “What’s in that?”
“It’s fine,” another voice barked. Epiphany Johnson grabbed the syringe from the shell-shocked nurse and jabbed it into Elizabeth’s arm. Elizabeth’s struggles gradually disappeared until she slumped back against Griffin, her eyes closed. “What the hell is going on?” she demanded. Then she looked around the hallway. “Go back to work!” she ordered, gesturing with sharp movements. Most scattered immediately.
“But—” the nurse who had attempted to help swallowed. “Can we do anything?”
“You can go back to work.” She nodded at Griffin who was rubbing his shoulder where Elizabeth had nailed him. “Let’s get her into a room. Get Morgan and Laura Spencer down here.”
“I’ll get Laura,” Patrick volunteered as Griffin lifted Elizabeth into his arms, this time without the attack. “And call Jason. Wait—” He put a hand on Epiphany’s arm. “She ever mention the name Tom to you? There was a custodian here. Said she was the reason he went to prison.” He whipped his around. “He’s gone now, but—”
“No, but Laura will. She’s known Elizabeth most of her life.” Epiphany followed Griffin into the room.
Patrick pulled out his phone and sent Jason a quick text to get to the hospital, adding Liz was fine, but she needed him. Then he went to find the hospital administrator.
General Hospital: Administrator’s Office
Laura frowned when Patrick shoved his way into her office, even as her assistant followed him. “Patrick, what on Earth?”
“I’m sorry—but Elizabeth just—” The doctor took a deep breath. “She had a panic attack, I think. Or something like it—”
“What? Why?” Laura started out of the office, both of them ignoring the assistant who was complaining about appointments. “Cancel them,” she snapped. “My daughter needs me.” She went stalked towards the elevator. “What happened?”
“Things were fine. She was fine,” Patrick stressed, “and then we ran into these custodians. There’s this new guy—Elizabeth looked upset when she saw him and then he said she was the reason he went to prison—”
The doors opened but Laura didn’t move. “Laura—”
“What was his name?” she asked, her heart pounding. No. It couldn’t be. He couldn’t be—
“Tom.” Patrick put a hand out to stop the doors from closing. “Laura, what the hell is going on?”
“Tom.” Laura took a deep breath, then stepped onto the elevator. “Tom,” she repeated. “Tom Baker.”
“You know who he is? Laura—”
“It’s not—” Laura fisted her hand against her heart. “It’s not my story to tell, but the only Toms that Elizabeth knows are her uncle…and someone who hurt her very much once.”
Without a word, they stepped onto the elevator and Patrick jabbed a finger against the button. When he spoke next, his voice was tight. “Tom Baker was the man who raped her.”
“She told you?”
“Yeah. A long time ago.” Patrick stared blindly at the silver doors in front of him. “How the hell does that man get hired to work here without you knowing? Without Elizabeth knowing?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to find out.”
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
Jason didn’t remember much of the drive between the warehouse and the hospital. He’d read Patrick’s text message and had gone on autopilot. Everything shut down inside — he only had one goal.
Get to the hospital. Get to Elizabeth.
At the nurse’s station, he opened his mouth to ask where his wife was, but then the second set of elevators opened and Laura and Patrick stepped out. Jason charged towards them. “Where is she?”
“I’ll take you there, but Jason—” Patrick put up a hand. “She’s okay,” he repeated. “She’s fine and so—” He slid a glance towards Laura. “Everything is fine.”
“She saw Tom Baker,” Laura said softly. “He’s here in the hospital.”
Jason’s hands fisted. “What happened?” he demanded. “Where is she?”
“She lost it,” Patrick said as he walked them both down towards the hallway. “First she went white, and then kind of fell to the floor. Griff tried to pick her up, and she went wild—” He cleared his throat. “We had to sedate her.”
“Oh, God.” Laura pressed her hands to her face. “Oh, God. She didn’t know. If she had known—”
“I don’t think she even knew he was out of prison,” Patrick said. “Jason—”
“He’s supposed to be up for parole in six months,” Jason bit out. He’d been keeping track of the man since the day he’d gone into the system for blackmailing Emily and holding her hostage—along with Elizabeth. “I’ll find out what the hell happened.” And which one of his men had let him down.
“You must have flown here,” Epiphany said as they approached her. “She’s fine,” she assured Jason. “Griffin is with her, and she’s resting. Still out from the sedative,” she added. “But she’ll be coming around shortly.”
“Okay.” He was okay. This was okay. He could handle this. “You said she had to be sedated—”
“I checked,” Patrick added. “They know.” He winced. “Does Laura—”
“Know what?” Laura drew her brows together. “What’s going on?”
“We were—we just found out yesterday—” Jason sighed, then looked at Elizabeth’s mother-in-law. “She’s pregnant.”
“Oh.” Laura’s eyes brightened. “That’s wonderful! I know she said you were trying—but—” she looked at Patrick. “You made sure they knew—”
“I checked it,” Epiphany assured her. “Most sedatives are fine, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.” She nodded her head at Jason. “You better get in there. She needs to see a familiar face when she comes around.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” He looked at Laura. “Why was Baker at the hospital?”
“He apparently works here,” Patrick said flatly.
Jason’s nostrils flared. “He what?”
“I don’t oversee every hire,” Laura said. “But I know he plead guilty to holding Elizabeth hostage. That should have sent up a red flag. We don’t hire anyone who has a felony conviction against a current employee.”
“He didn’t—” Jason took a deep breath. “They plead that down,” he said. “Officially, I mean. It was only—only Emily’s charges went forward. Elizabeth’s case was dropped when they dropped the rape charges.”
“Oh, Christ.” Laura closed her eyes. “I’d forgotten that. I thought—But—but it was in the arrest file, and I know Taggert said he was going to keep his eye on things. He was at the parole hearing the first time. I’ll call Jordan. Maybe something got lost.”
“Maybe.” Jason didn’t want to know anymore. The man who had brutalized and traumatized his wife was out on the loose, breathing the same air—working in the same building—
That wasn’t going to last.
He dismissed the three of them and went into the hospital room where he found a dark-haired doctor sitting by Elizabeth’s side. One of the doctors who was studying with Patrick, he remembered. Griffin something.
“Hey. Hey.” Nervous, Griffin got to his feet. “I’m glad you’re here. Um—vitals are good, I mean. She’ll be okay when she wakes up. I hope—” He looked back to Elizabeth before focusing on Jason. “I’ll get back to work.”
“Thanks.” Jason dismissed the doctor and took the seat he’d vacated. It was strange to see Elizabeth stretched out on the hospital bed, dressed in the purple scrubs she wore on days when she worked on Patrick’s OR team. Her face was pale, her eyes looked almost bruised against her skin. He didn’t like to see her this way. In a hospital bed.
It always brought back the day Jake was born and she’d nearly died. Or when she’d nearly died from the biotoxin and he hadn’t gone to see her. Or when she’d nearly drowned, then had hallucinations of Jake.
She’d spent too much time almost dying in a hospital bed.
Jason reached for her hand, rubbing his fingers over the rings he’d placed there three years earlier. He’d make sure his was the first face she’d see when she woke.
And then he’d finish Tom Baker. The man was never going to get another chance to do this to her.
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
Laura tapped her foot as she waited for Portia Robinson to get her page. Finally, the doctor stepped around a corner, frowning as she approached Laura. “Mrs. Spencer—”
“Dr. Robinson, thank you for answering my page. I apologize if I took you away from anything important,” Laura said. “This isn’t hospital related,” she added, “but it is an emergency. I need Taggert’s contact information.”
Portia frowned, folding her arms across her chest. “You’re the second person to ask me about Marcus this week,” she said. “The commissioner was also trying to track him down. What’s wrong?”
“Jordan was—” Laura hesitated. “Taggert was keeping an eye on a case that was important to my family,” she said. “He contacted my daughter-in-law the last time Tom Baker was up for parole. But this time—”
“Your daughter-in-law—” Portia raised a hand. “Jordan just told me about this yesterday. Baker got out on parole and was working here. I knew Marcus was worried about some case that Baker wasn’t charged with—is that her?”
“Yes. And, according to what he told us then — and what my son-in-law thought — Baker wasn’t supposed to be up for parole. I need to find out what happened—”
“Of course. I don’t understand how Marcus let this go,” Portia murmured. She reached into her pocket for her cell phone. “He never gave me details, but that parole hearing happened right before we separated. He was relieved when Baker didn’t get out. He never would have—”
She pressed a button, dialing her ex-husband. “Voicemail,” she muttered. “Marcus, it’s Portia again. Please get in touch with me. It’s an emergency. Trina is fine, but Tom Baker is out of prison, and he’s working at the hospital. I don’t know the details, but you need to get in touch with Laura Spencer and Jordan as soon as possible. Please.”
“Thank you,” Laura said. “Is it like him to not get back you?”
“Not unusual,” she admitted. “He goes undercover sometimes at the DEA, and he might be under right now. He doesn’t always warn us.” Portia grimaced. “One of the reasons we got divorced,” she muttered. “I’ll let you know if he gets back in touch with me, and I’ll text you his number.”
“Mrs. Spencer—is your daughter-in-law all right? Elizabeth is a great nurse, I mean. I just—”
“She’s all right.” For now, Laura added to herself silently as she walked away.
General Hospital: Hospital Room
Elizabeth turned her head and slowly forced her eyes open. She felt like she was swimming through a thick sea of cobwebs. She found familiar blue eyes peering at her, and she frowned. “J-Jason?”
“Hey.” His fingers brushed her cheeks. “How are you feeling?”
“Confused,” Elizabeth admitted. She cleared her throat and gratefully accepted Jason’s help in sitting up and then the water he gave her. “What—” She looked around, realizing she was on a hospital bed. Alarmed, she pressed a hand against her belly. “Jason—”
“The baby is fine,” Jason told her. He covered her hand with his own, the other sliding through her hair. “Perfect,” he promised. “Do you—” He hesitated. “Do you remember what happened?”
“No—” And then she did. Everything inside her trembled. “Jason. I—I saw—he said—he was here—he said—”
“Hey.” Jason edged onto the bed, taking both her hands in hers. “I’m right here. Nothing is going to hurt you. No one,” he added. “Look at me.”
She did, focusing on his eyes, on the feel of his hands wrapped around hers. He always made her feel safe. “Tom Baker,” she said softly. “He was…I turned a corner, and he was just there. We bumped into him, and I started to apologize—” Her voice faltered. “He said not a word. That’s what he said. He said don’t say a word,” she corrected. “But that night—the night he—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Took a deep breath. “He hissed it into my ear. Not a word. Then he said it again that day in the studio. That’s how I knew—I recognized him, I could hear his voice, I could feel him—”
“Stay with me—” Jason tipped up her chin. “Stay with me here,” he ordered. “Right here. Right now. That was nineteen years ago,” he reminded her. “You’re safe here. With me. He’s not here.”
“He’s not here,” she repeated. She closed her eyes. “It’s over. I’m not sixteen anymore.” Sixteen. Her whole world had shattered and she’d pieced it back together, painstakingly fitting the jagged shards into something that looked like a normal person.
But shattered glass was easily broken—how many times had she fractured over the years? “Nineteen years,” she murmured. “And it can still hit me. It can still feel like now. How is that possible? How is that fair?”
“I want to go home. Can I—can you just—I want to go home.”
“We’ll go home. I’ll get Laura to grab the boys and they can go with her for the night—”
“No, no. I want the boys. I want to go home, and I want the boys. I want our family. And our life.” She took a deep breath. “I worked too hard, fought too long—he’s not doing this to me. I broke a little,” she admitted. “But I’m okay.” Elizabeth squeezed Jason’s hands. “I’m okay. Let’s go home.”