Written in 61 minutes.
Rice Creek Bridge
Jason didn’t even remember hitting the brakes or throwing the SUV into park. As he’d turned from the access road into the small dirt lot that served as the parking for the bridge, he’d seen Elizabeth flying away from the bridge, Ben hot on her heels. He’d thrown himself at her, tackling—
Jason was out of the SUV, the door still open, racing towards them, his heart racing, blood pounding in his ears, but they rolled over the edge before he was able to reach the edge—
He heard a scream, being cut off — but he was already throwing himself to the ground over the edge, reaching down because he knew—he knew—that if he could just get to her, Elizabeth would be there, holding on—she had to hold on—he didn’t have the room for any other ending—
She was kicking wildly, her feet not finding any purchase in the rocks that lined the edge of the gorge, and just as her hands slipped, as she lost her grip—Jason grabbed a forearm, his fingers digging into her skin so deeply he could almost feel the outline of the bone beneath the surface—
He hauled her back over the edge, her slight weight no match for the adrenaline of a man who was not going to lose one more person in his life, much less the one who mattered the most.
Elizabeth was sobbing, shaking, and trembling as he pulled her up and into his arms, clutching at her like he was drowning and she was all air he would ever need. She buried her face in his neck, and they sat there for a long moment, just holding each other at the edge.
“I knew you’d find me, I knew you’d get here, I knew—” her words were broken, shaky, but precious. Her voice hoarse, almost inaudible.
Jason drew back just enough to look at her, to find her beautiful eyes, to reassure himself that somehow he wasn’t hallucinating or dreaming — that she was really in his arms, that she was safe, and that the monster who’d tried to murder her — who had stolen his sister’s life — that he was gone, and that she was alive—
Her eyes were bloodshot, her cheeks scratched, bleeding, her lips dry and cracked, but she was there—whole and alive—
Jason cupped her face, leaned his forehead against hers. “You’re okay. You’re okay.” He repeated it to himself, thinking if he kept on saying it, he would believe it, but he was still trapped somehow, his mind still in those terrible moments, racing up the access road towards the bridge, terrified it would be too late.
“I’m okay, you’re here, and I’m okay—” She smoothed her thumbs over his skin. “You’re real. You’re real. Aren’t you? Tell me you’re real—”
He kissed her, and she sobbed her relief against his mouth, sinking into his embrace, a bit of the tension tight in her body easing.
He drew back, and came back to reality when he saw Robin limping towards them, her cheeks stained with tears, hair disheveled, a thin cut bleeding at her forehead.
Jason got to his feet, hauling Elizabeth up against his side. “Robin. You’re—you’re okay?”
“She saved me—” Robin’s voice broke, and she squeezed her eyes shut, pressing her hands to her mouth. “Oh, God. Oh, God. He had the wire. He was choking her—”
“You stopped him—” Elizabeth managed, and Jason looked at her again, this time seeing the thin red, angry line at her throat, and his heart simply stopped. The world went still. Those same marks had been on Emily, cold and blue with death.
“She got out of the trunk—” Elizabeth stepped away from Jason, went towards Robin, and they collapsed into each other’s arms. “You stopped him. Thank you. Thank you.”
The squeal of brakes broke through Jason’s distraction, and he turned — Lucky and Robert were out of the car before the engine had fully gone silent, Robert racing towards his daughter.
“Daddy!” Robin was sobbing as she fell into his arms. “You came!”
Jason reached for Elizabeth again, not wanting to be away from her, still wondering somehow if he’d come to his senses and it would all be a lie. He’d watched her fall off a cliff—what if she’d actually gone over, and now—
“You—” Lucky approached them, his eyes sweeping over the scene. “Where is he? What happened?”
“I can’t—” Elizabeth closed her eyes, pressing a hand to her throat wincing. “He’s—he fell. We got away. But he fell.”
Lucky looked past her, towards the edge, then back at her, his eyes zeroing in her hands, swallowing hard. “Okay. Okay. I’ll go down. See what’s going on. Mac and the others—the paramedics—they’re on their way.”
Jason hesitated, then looked to Robert who was cataloging his daughter’s injuries, taking her pulse. “I’ll go with you. You shouldn’t do it alone. There’s no guarantee the fall killed him or injured him badly enough—” He took a breath, looked at Elizabeth. “Stay up here. With Robin.”
“All right.” She swallowed hard. “Hurry back, okay? I want to get out of here.”
“We need to be sure,” Jason said. He kissed the inside of her palm, his stomach clenching at the damage done to her beautiful hands. The fingernails had been broken on every finger, and were missing entirely from two of them.
But she was alive, and she would heal.
Jason reluctantly left Elizabeth to Robert’s care, and grimly followed Lucky down the winding path that traversed the rocky descent from the bridge down to the thin, but steady flowing creek that fed into Lake Ontario.
If it struck either of them as odd that they’d be working together on this last leg of the tragic journey, neither mentioned it. Lucky went ahead, and Jason followed. Only a month ago, they’d been in court, on the opposite sides of the aisle. Jason had walked away with the family Lucky had fought so hard to keep—
It felt like a lifetime had passed between that day and this.
On the banks of the creek, nearby the remains of a fallen tree, they found their killer.
Ben Davis lay on his back, staring up the sky. He was still alive, his breathing labored. Blood trickled from his mouth, and one of his leg at an odd angle.
Jason stared at him — this man to whom he’d given so much trust — Ben had destroyed so many lives. Not just the women whose lives he’d ended, but the people around them. Would anyone ever feel safe again?
“It would be so easy,” Lucky murmured, and Jason looked at him sharply. “Put a hand over his mouth,” he continued. “No one would look that closely. It would be over.”
“It would,” Jason agreed, and he almost agreed. Whether he or Lucky did the deed, he knew neither would ever say a word to reveal the crime. Ben had destroyed them both when he’d taken Emily from them—he hadn’t needed to target Elizabeth, the woman that they’d both loved for so long.
Lucky exhaled shakily. “But that’s not who I want to be. And that’s not who you are either.” He looked at Jason. “It’s not who we are. Not like this. Not with Elizabeth up there, bleeding and traumatized. She needs you. And it would only make me like him. Killing for pleasure.” He looked back at the barely conscious murderer at his feet. “He doesn’t get to have that power over me.”
Jason nodded. It would have been risky, he thought. And for Lucky, Jason understood. It really wasn’t who Lucky wanted be. But Jason had no such moral objection. The time wasn’t right, but it would be. If Ben Davis survived, he’d go to prison. And one day—
One day there would be retribution. There would be payment in blood.
But not today.
“I’ll stay down here,” Lucky said after another moment. “He’s not going anywhere. Go back up.” Their eyes met. “Take care of her.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I’m sorry,” he said finally. “For my part. I never should have—”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” Lucky murmured, but he looked back at Ben. “But it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s over. All of it. All we can do now is move on. Emily would want it that way. I was angry with her at the end,” he said. “And I never told her how much I loved her. How much she changed my life.”
“I hope that’s true.” Sirens echoed in the air, and Lucky looked up towards the edge above them. “Cavalry’s finally here.”
General Hospital: Emergency Room
Mac’s words still echoed in Patrick’s ears as he paced the area by the entrance of the emergency room. He’s got her. He’s got Robin and Elizabeth. We’re on it. We know where he is, and we’ll get her back.
Even the follow up call with the news that they’d been rescued — that they were alive and had somehow saved themselves — Patrick couldn’t rest, couldn’t let himself take a full breathe.
What had Robin gone through in the last hour? What had happened to her? She must have been so scared, and he’d been stuck at the hospital — and the baby. Miscarries were so common at this stage—her blood pressure, a traumatic fall — anything might trigger it.
“I won’t bother telling you to relax,” Kelly said from behind him and he whirled around to find the doctor studying him with worried eyes. “I’ll take good care of her. And do my best for the baby.”
Patrick opened his mouth, but his throat tightened and he couldn’t force any sounds past it. He pressed his lips together, dipped his head, squeezed his eyes shut.
“Robin’s tough,” Kelly said softly. She squeezed Patrick’s forearm. “You know that. Tough as nails. And any child of hers will be too stubborn—”
“That’s not how it works, and you know it,” Patrick managed. “It’s not. We’re doctors, Kelly. Don’t give me those bullshit platitudes.”
“All right, I won’t. I just—” Kelly bit her lip. “But—”
“And don’t be nice to me,” he bit out. “You don’t get to pretend like we’re still friends, Kelly—”
“No. No. You don’t get to stand here and hold my hand like you haven’t treated me like a goddamn leper for just be honest with how I felt,” Patrick continued, feeling ruthless and furious. “How many times did you and Lainey jump down my throat—well are you happy now? Are you? You told me I’d figure out what I wanted and it’d be too late, and maybe it is—”
“Come with me,” Epiphany said, dragging Patrick away from a shell-shocked Kelly. “Don’t take it out on her, either. Robin’s alive. Focus on that, you hear me?”
“A whole lot of women went up against this madman and they didn’t make it. Robin did. Elizabeth did. So let’s see what we see. And let the rest of it take care of itself.”
He nodded, then turned at the sirens of the ambulance. He raced outside just as one pulled into the bay. The doors opened, and a paramedic jumped out, barking out information to Kelly and her team.
They slid down the stretcher from the back, and Patrick got his first look at Robin, her eyes open, her face pale. “Robin.”
“Hey. Hey.” He flicked one look at Robert, before grabbing Robin’s hand and falling into step with the rest of the team as they rolled her inside and towards a curtain. “Hey, I’m right here.” He brought their joined hands to his mouth. “I’m right here.” Whatever happens. He wouldn’t go anywhere.
A few minutes later, a second ambulance pulled into the lot, and Epiphany was relieved to see Elizabeth being rolled out next, though her breath caught at the marks on her throat. Jason hopped down next to her, refusing to let go of her hand.
“Vitals are stable enough, though blood pressure and heartbeat are elevated,” the paramedic reported, reeling off numbers. “Bruising and cuts. Nothing life threatening.”
“Hey, honey, it’s good—” Epiphany felt her eyes fill as she fell into step with the stretcher on Elizabeth’s side. The marks at the throat, the fingernails ripped from her fingers— “Hey, honey.”
“Epiphany.” Elizabeth managed a smile. “Hey. I’m okay. Don’t…don’t cry.”
“I never cry,” Epiphany said, even as the first tears started to fall. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Elizabeth managed a faint smile. “Jason. The boys.”
“I’ll call Spinelli.” He kissed her hand, his expression darkening slightly as his finger slid over her fingers. Her bare fingers. Epiphany exhaled slowly, remembering the diamond that had shone brightly just a few days earlier. It was gone now.
Jason watched reluctantly as doctors whisked Elizabeth in for x-rays, knowing he couldn’t follow. Epiphany promised to stay with her. He dug into his pocket for his phone.
“Stone Cold? Is all well?” Spinelli’s panicked, thready voice answered. “Elizabeth. Please. She’s all right?”
“She’s—” Jason took a breath. “She’s okay. She and Robin. We’re at the hospital to be sure. Is Audrey there?”
“Yes. Yes. Here—” Spinelli’s voice faded, and then Audrey was on the line.
“Jason? She’s all right? You’re sure?”
“Some—” He had trouble forming the words, scraping his hand down his face. “She’s all right. Bruises. Cuts. But she’s okay. Can you—I mean—you’ll stay with the boys tonight?”
“Of course, darling. And please, please, as soon as she’s able, can someone—I would like to hear my granddaughter’s voice.”
“As soon as we can. I promise.”
He ended the call, and found Sonny behind him, expression concerned, his hair a bit disheveled. “Did you get my message?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know you said they were okay, but I wanted to see for myself—” Sonny swallowed hard. “What about Ben?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t wait around to find out. He couldn’t move. Broke a leg and some ribs in the fall,” Jason said tightly. They heard another ambulance siren, and looked towards the entrance. A few minutes later, a third stretcher rolled through, and it was him. Ben. His eyes were closed, and a hand was handcuffed to the side of the stretcher. There was a small army of uniformed officers who followed after him.
Jason wanted to follow, wanted to choke the life from the man who’d stolen so many lives, and had tried to murder Elizabeth and Robin tonight —
But from the opposite direction, he saw Epiphany beckoning him towards a curtained area. “Sonny—”
“Yeah, I’ll stay on that. You go take care of Elizabeth. She’s alive — she and Robin got away. And that’s all the matters right now.” Sonny’s expression was flat. “The rest can come later.”