April 25, 2010 Sacred Heart Medical Centre, Research Facility
How can I be so happy, excited, nervous and scared all at the same time? I'm sure I can convince him that I still love him, that I've always loved him and that I will love him forever. Once I explain everything, he'll understand. At least, I think, he'll understand. A quick glance at the clock on the dashboard showed that she should be seeing him within the hour. What will he say when he opens the door and sees me standing there? He wouldn't shut the door in my face, would he? No, no, he wouldn't. He's going to be shocked. Where do I start? What do I say first? Should I tell him I love him first?
What the hell? She fought to control the car and keep it on the road. She failed. Thank god I didn't roll the vehicle. I better get out and check the damage. I can't believe whoever hit me didn't even stop.
She pushed the door open with difficulty. Oh dear, the whole driver's side is damaged. Well, they left paint scrapings on the car, maybe the police will be able to trace the type of vehicle from that. I better call the police and report this. How am I going to explain that I never seen that truck until I was fighting for control of the car? Who knows how long they were behind me or where they came from. I can see and hear it now, "Miss, are you saying you never saw the vehicle that ran you off the road in your rear view or side mirror?"
"Yes, I was too busy daydreaming about....well, about the love of my life."
Oh yeah, that was going to over real well!
Wait, what's going on? Oh my god, someone is tying me up. What’s with the gag and blindfold? She whimpered as she was dragged to a waiting vehicle.
Where are they taking me? Wait, we've stopped. What are they going to do with me? They aren't going to....no, please God, help me. They’re cutting my clothes off, noooooo. Then the beating started. That was almost preferable to what she imagined they were going to do.
The pain, I...can't...take...the...pain...anymore.
The nurse looked up from the nurse’s station when all the monitor alarms began sounding. She pressed the special code on the phone that summoned the doctors to the patient’s room in the research facility. The medical staff that had been enjoying a leisurely coffee break in the lounge, came running. They all converged at the door to the patient’s room. Cooler heads prevailed, instead of all trying to crowd through the door, one of the nurses pulled the door open and held it while the others ran inside. Dr. Gordon was alarmed at the patient’s high blood pressure and started barking out orders. They had to bring down her rapid heartbeat or the patient stood a good chance of going into cardiac arrest or stroking out. He had to determine the cause, he ordered one of the nurses to bring in the portable ultrasound. He had to find out if she was bleeding internally and he had to find out quickly.
Where are you? I need you. I don’t think I can hang on much longer. Please, I’m so afraid. You promised me that all I had to do was call and you’d be here. I’m calling for you now. Please.
Spokane International Airport
Shawn was approaching his car when a feeling of uneasiness swept over him. He was still trying to figure out the source of his unsettled feelings as he was pulling out of the airport parking lot, when he was struck with a sense of urgency. He had to get to the hospital.
He heard her pleading for his presence. As he slapped the flashing emergency light on the roof of his SUV, he sent up a silent prayer.
Shawn needed all his concentration focused on the streets he was speeding through. He tried to send her a quick thought, hoping she would hear him the same way he could hear her. I hear you. Hold on for just a while longer. I’ll be there.
Shawn already had his seat belt unbuckled and the door flung open as he screeched to a halt in front of the entrance doors to the research unit.
Sacred Heart Medical Center
Damn, what’s my security code? Think Brady, think. Shawn took a calming breath and punched in his access code and held his hand up against the scanner. The door buzzed, signalling his clearance to enter. Shawn pushed the door open and sent it crashing against the door jamb.
Andrew looked up and was shocked to see his cousin at a full run towards the patient’s room. “Hey, cuz. What’s…” He let his question drop when he realized Shawn wasn’t even aware of his presence in the room.
A nurse immediately went to Shawn and tried to push him out of the room. Shawn picked the nurse up and set her aside without even looking at her. He was focused on the woman. The nurse began calling for security when Dr. Gordon, noticed Shawn in the room. “Nurse Grady, there’s no need to call security. Detective Brady has clearance,” he told her calmly.
“But, Dr. Gordon, he shouldn’t be in the room when we’re working on the patient,” Nurse Grady stubbornly replied.
“Detective Brady can be in this room at any time. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Doctor,” the nurse answered meekly.
Shawn did not hear one word of the exchange between Dr. Gordon and the nurse. He pushed his way towards the head of the hospital bed. Dr. Gordon noticed the other medical staff trying to shoulder the young detective out of the way. “Please, give the detective a little room. When it’s critical that he stand back, I’m sure he will.”
Shawn had just picked up hand, when the blips on her heart monitor turned to a flat line. No, don’t go. I’m here now, just like I promised I would be.
“Step back Detective Brady, now.” Dr. Gordon ordered the paddles to be charged. It took three attempts to get her heart started again.
Shawn immediately pushed his way towards the woman again. Dr. Gordon took one look at the young man’s panicked eyes and just nodded at his staff to let him through. Shawn grabbed her hand and began stroking her hair and talking softly into her ear.
“I knew you were a fighter, little one. I’m sorry it took me so long to get here. You know, I’m pretty sure I caused a few drivers to have coronaries in my mad dash to get to you.” He chuckled softly, all the while rubbing his thumb over her fingers and stroking her hair. “Do you think that in the future, you might give me some lead time? Kind of give me a head’s up that you’re going to need me. That way the motorist’s on Spokane’s streets can be safe.”
The doctor and his staff stood back and watched as the patient’s condition began to stabilize when the detective started talking to her. For some of them, this was the first time they were witnesses to a case where medical science couldn’t come up with any rational explanations. They had heard of connections between loved ones sometimes working miracles. This was really extraordinary, in their minds, because the detective and the patient were strangers whose paths had crossed one storm washed night less than a week ago. They followed the doctor’s lead and filed quietly out of the patient’s room.
Andrew stood outside the window and watched as Shawn continued to sit holding the woman’s hand, stroking her hair and talking to her. What was his cousin’s connection with this woman?
Shawn talked softly non-stop for the next half hour. If anyone asked him what he told her, he wouldn’t be able to answer. He couldn’t remember what he said to her, all he could remember was the overwhelming feeling that she needed him to talk. His throat was dry when he finally quit talking to her. He looked around the room and seen a pitcher of water and an empty glass. He let go of her hand, stood and stretched, poured himself a glass of water. As he drank the water, he tried to massage the sore spot on his neck as he looked down at the woman. Belle, is that you? I have to find out for sure.
He sat down next to her bed and took her hand again. “I have some things to do now, little one. I’ll come back later to check in on you. Just remember, if you need me, just call for me. Just remember to try and give me a small hint a little in advance next time.” He leaned over and placed a light kiss on her bandaged cheek, let go of her hand and headed towards the door.
Thank you. I knew I could trust you.
Shawn heard the words reverberate through his consciousness.
Shawn was deep in thought as he headed towards the exit.
“Shawn, buddy, no time to say hello to your cousin?” Andrew shouted.
“Sorry, Andrew. I didn’t mean to ignore you. I guess I was concentrating on the case and forgot my manners. Are you settled in? Has the rest of the team arrived?”
“No problem, Shawn. I know you’ve got a lot on your mind. Do you have a few minutes to spare? I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on here while you were slacking and taking a day off.” Andrew slapped Shawn on the shoulder. “Sit down,” he said as he pulled a chair close to his desk.
“The rest of the team has arrived. Their main concern at the moment is her eye. They’ve decided that they have to start the orbital reconstruction. They believe that if they don’t start soon, there’s a good chance that she could lose the eye or at the very least, lose the vision in her right eye. The first surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning, 7a.m.”
“Is it safe to operate on her, Andrew, when she’s in a coma?” Shawn asked.
“I’m allowed to sit in on all their discussions about the reconstructive surgery, so you can rest easy, Shawn. Yes, she’ll be perfectly safe. They are experts in their field and so is the anesthesiologist that is part of their team.” Andrew watched Shawn’s reaction to this news. He was deeply perplexed over the level of concern Shawn had for this woman.
“Thanks, Andrew. How long do they expect the surgery to last? I want to be here when she comes out of recovery.”
“I’m not sure, Shawn. I’ll call you when they take her into recovery. Later on tomorrow, depending on how the surgery goes, we’re going to start taking the 3D images of her skull. Once we have the imagining done, we’ll run the software program that will create a 3D image of her skull. We’ll build a scale model from that, run the programs that will project what her face looked like before one side of it was destroyed. From there, we’ll sculpt an image of her face onto the scale model of her skull.”
Shawn listened intently. Andrew continued, “Of course, if you identify her before that or if she comes out of the coma and tells us who she is, that would hasten the process a bit.”
“What do you mean, Andrew?”
“Well, if we knew who she was, we could get recent photos of her, and reconstruct her facial features from that. Of course the researchers wouldn’t like that because they wouldn’t be able to prove that this program will work on accident victims.”
“My main concern, Andrew, is keeping her safe. My job would also be a lot easier if I knew who she was.” Shawn rose, “With that thought in mind, I’m off to the station to check on the progress of the investigation.”
“Uh, Shawn, can I ask you a question?” Andrew asked hesitantly.
“You know you can. What do you want to know?”
“How did you know that she was in trouble? You came bursting through those doors like a man possessed. Did one of the nurses call you?”
Shawn was already walking towards the exit when he glanced back at Andrew. “No nurse called for me, Andrew. She called for me and I came, just as simple as that,” as he closed the door behind him.
Spokane Crime Lab
Shawn walked into Derek’s office. “Have you got good news for me, bud?”
Derek glanced up from his computer. “What, I don’t even rate a ‘hello, how are you’, just straight to business?”
“Did you find Isabella Black’s fingerprints? Do they match those of the crime victim I found on Hwy 206?”
Derek noticed the edge in Shawn’s voice. “Explain something to me Shawn. Why am I trying to match this, what’s her name again…” glancing at his papers, “Isabella Black’s prints to those of the crime victim? As far as I know, and I should know, we don’t have any idea who the victim is yet.”
Shawn lowered his head, stuck his hand in his pant’s pockets and then looked his friend straight in the eyes. “I’m going on gut instinct, just a hunch, Derek.”
“Are you sure, Shawn? You’re not just reaching for the stars, wishing for the impossible, are you?” Derek questioned softly.
“What…what do you mean?”
“Shawn, do you remember when you solved your first big case as a detective?”
Shawn smiled. “Well, I couldn’t have done it without the crack-up job done by a certain Crime Scene Investigator. Now, who was that again? Wait, wasn’t that you?”
“Do you remember that a group of guys from your precinct and our lab went down to that little dive on Water St. for a few drinks to celebrate?”
“Ugh. Don’t remind me, Derek. If I recall correctly, I was hung-over for days. What the hell did you guys feed me that night? I can’t even remember.”
“If I recall correctly, you were downing tequila and Jack Daniels shooters like they were ginger ale. It ended up just the two of us, if you remember. You told me a lot of stuff that night, Shawn. Do you remember any of it?”
Shawn began to feel uneasy. “No, what did I talk about, my illustrious high school jock days, my not so all-American family life, what?”
“You talked about her, Shawn. Isabella. Your Belle. You talked and then you cried,” Derek said softly. “The next day, I did some investigating. Shawn, she’s gone. I know that’s hard to accept, especially when a body is never recovered. It’s been seven years now. When are you going to face the fact that you’ll never see her again?”
“Never.” Shawn said coldly. “I will never accept that she is gone until I feel it in my soul. She’s alive. I’m convinced of it. Now can we get down to business, please. Did you find Isabella’s prints and are they a match?”
Derek knew that this was not the time to push his friend. “I did not find prints in any central database for an Isabella Black. I checked local, national and international databases, no prints to be found.”
Shawn looked extremely puzzled. “Well, her family had her officially declared dead a few days ago. Does that make a difference?”
“No, Shawn. Once someone’s prints are in a database, they stay there permanently.”
“But…” Shawn stopped.
“But, what, Shawn?”
“I’m trying to recall if Belle was ever fingerprinted. I guess not.” Shawn replied. “Did you run the victim’s prints?”
“Yes. No match. We still don’t have a clue who she is. As you know, there was no physical evidence left at the scene. Who ever did this to her was very thorough. It’s my theory that they beat her and left her for dead on that stretch of highway, but snatched her from some other location. I suggest you start sifting through missing person’s reports, possibly checking out abandoned vehicles to see if one of them could possibly belong to her. It’s going to be very difficult search, Shawn, if not impossible. We have no idea if this woman is from Spokane, a visitor, hell, she could have just got into town that day. Our best hope is her coming out of the coma and telling us who she is and who did this to her.”
“Thanks. Derek I’ll get things rolling on the missing persons reports and abandoned vehicles. What about the heel print that was left on her thigh? Any luck finding out what type of shoe or boot the guy was wearing?”
Derek answered with a touch of excitement in his voice. “I think we may have caught a real break with this, Shawn. The heel print is from custom-made cowboy boot. It’s a stacked heel, fairly common, with custom-made boots, but the kicker, no pun intended, is that this heel has a mark in the center. We haven’t been able to identify what the mark is yet, we’re breaking it down and trying different resolution sizes, trying to be able to read what is says. We were able to determine that the symbol is a diamond shape inside a circle. We ran that symbol and it’s a trademark used by a boot maker in Billings, Montana. We’ve contacted him and he said embedded within the diamond shape, should be another symbol. Those symbol’s are unique and one of a kind. If we can identify the symbol, he can tell us who he made the boots for. As soon as we can identify it and contact the boot maker, you should have the name of one the assailants.”
“That’s great news, Derek. You’ll let me know as soon as you know, right?”
“You can count on it Shawn.”
“I better get back to the station. See you soon, Derek.”
“Are you heading back out to your cabin after work?” Derek asked.
“Just long enough to pack some clothes and lock it up. I’m going to get myself a room in the city for a bit.”
“Why? You’ve always said you prefer the solitude of your own little piece of the world, isn’t that what you call your place?”
“I have to be able to get to her quickly when she needs me. I can’t do that if I’m out at the cabin. I’m going to look for a motel that has a kitchenette close to the hospital.”
“Shawn, she’s not going to need you before she comes out of her coma. You don’t need to stay in the city.” Derek was at a loss. He couldn’t understand Shawn’s need to be close to this victim.
“She needed me this morning and I damn near never got there in time, Derek. I’m not going to jeopardize her life again by not keeping the promise I made to her the night I found her. I promised her that all she had to was call when she needed me and I would be there. I intend to keep that promise.”
Derek stood in shock as Shawn walked away. What the hell is he talking about? How can she call for him, she’s in a coma. I’m going to have to keep a close eye on him. I think the fact that Isabella was declared legally dead has shaken him more than he realizes.
Shawn went back to the precinct. He started the process of gathering missing person’s reports. He asked them to pull the cases of missing women between the ages of eighteen to thirty for starters. The women should have blond hair, blue eyes and be between five feet and five feet four inches. He also asked them to have any abandoned vehicle reports from the police compound sent to him. He wanted to check all reports beginning April twenty-first forward and on an ongoing basis until he told them he wouldn’t need the reports any longer.
He checked in with his captain and gave him a status report. Shawn told his captain nothing about his feeling that he might know who the victim was. It was too soon for that. He had no proof to back it up.
Shawn left the precinct on his drive back to his cabin, he let the suspicion he first felt back at the crime lab move to the forefront of his consciousness. He knew for a fact that Belle had been fingerprinted. He let his mind wander back in time.
Summer 2002, Salem, IL
Belle plopped down in the booth at Dotcom across from Shawn, sighing and inspecting her hands.
“Belle, that’s the third time you’ve gone to wash your hands. Relax.” He smiled and reached across to grasp both her hands in his. He turned them palm up and teasingly said, “Oh my, Miss Belle, how can you be seen in public with this black ink on your fingertips? Got caught shop-lifting, did you? What happened, Daddy cut up the credit cards?”
“Shawn!” She started to rise out of her seat.
“Belle, I’m just kidding. You’re hands are clean, a little wrinkly looking from all that scrubbing.”
Belle pulled her hands out of his and gave one of his hands a little slap. “Oh, Shawn. I don’t know why I had to be finger-printed. Dad is just totally paranoid now that another DiMera has risen from the ashes. Tony’s return to Salem has totally freaked him out.”
“Belle, he’s just doing what he can to try and protect you. With everything the DiMera’s have done to your family and mine, I can’t say I blame him. I just got you back in my life, I can’t even bear the thought of having anything happen to you.”
He loved the way she said his name. The way she lowered her voice and accented the ‘aw’ sent shivers of excitement down his spine. He reached for her hand. “What do you say. Shall we get out of here and go somewhere that’s a little more private?”
Belle looked into his darkened eyes and felt a small shudder run through her. “Why, Mr. Brady, whatever did you have in mind?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Just a lot of this.” He leaned across the table and brushed a soft kiss across her parted lips.
He smiled as he recalled her response.
“I say, what are we waiting for?” as she reached for purse and stood.
Shawn brought his mind back to the present.
Someone had Belle’s prints removed from the central databases. Who could possibly have that much power and influence? The DiMera’s? Possibly. Shawn knew that they could have people working inside many organizations. So yes, it would be possible. But what would be their motive? What advantage would be gained by the DiMera family by having all copies of Belle’s fingerprints removed?
He could think of absolutely no valid reason that not having Belle’s prints on file would be of any benefit to the DiMera family.
He could think of only one other person beside his grandfather, Victor Kiriakis, that might wield that type of power and influence.
Did he even want to entertain that possibility?
He really didn’t have any choice He had to look at this from every angle.
Oh, god, Belle. Is it possible that your father took you away from your family, from your home, from all the people who loved you under the misguided conception that this was the only way to protect you?
Shawn instinctively knew the answer to his own question. Yes, John would do anything, anything to protect his family if he thought they were in danger.
Shawn knew what he had to do next and he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He was going to have to investigate John Black and probably the ISA. He had held a long standing suspicion that John was an undercover agent for the ISA. The trick was going to be keeping John and the ISA in the dark. He couldn’t let them find out that he suspected they were responsible for Belle’s disappearance.
Soon, Belle. Soon we’ll be together again.
Shawn settled into his suite at the Rodeway Inn. He was just a few blocks away from the hospital. He unpacked and pulled out his laptop. He needed to map out his strategy. He had to find out for sure if his suspicions were correct. Did John have Belle placed into protective custody? If he had, that would mean Belle was somewhere living an entirely new life.
John couldn’t have pulled off something of this magnitude without assistance. Shawn felt that he must have had help from the ISA. He also felt pretty sure that John wouldn’t want too many people to have knowledge of this operation. Who would he trust? Only one name crossed his mind, Shane Donavon.
Shawn had starting pacing. Was it possible that Andrew was in on it? That Andrew knew along that Belle was alive and well. Shawn stopped and stared out the window of his suite. It was a clear night. Even the night lights of the city couldn’t dim the brightness of the stars in the sky. The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that Andrew had no idea that Belle had been placed into a protection program.
Shawn tried to put himself into John’s situation. Tried to think of what would prompt him to separate Belle from her family and friends. It would have had to be something so severe that even John would feel that he couldn’t keep Belle safe from the threat.
Shawn began pacing again. Pacing helped him to organize his thoughts better. He thought back to the months leading up to Belle’s disappearance. Ever since the reappearance of Tony DiMera, John had been more determined than ever to bring down the house of DiMera. Shawn had to agree with Belle’s assessment that John’s paranoia had increased when he had learned that he shared a mother with Tony. This had to have something to do with the DiMera’s.
Shawn had this sinking feeling that John had reacted from a place of fear. That he had not really thought his actions through. John was so sure the DiMera’s were out to destroy his family that he would have done anything to protect them, even the unthinkable.
Trying to put himself back into John’s mindset at the time, Shawn came to the conclusion that John confided in no one except Shane. This would mean that Marlena was totally unaware that her youngest daughter was still alive.
Shawn was convinced that he was right. For the first time since Belle’s disappearance things made sense to him. Having John spirit Belle away and giving her a new identity sounded a lot more logical to him than Belle committing suicide.
Shawn got ready for bed and as he reached over to shut off the lamp, he had a smile on his face. Tomorrow, he would begin to prove that his theory about Belle’s disappearance was correct. For a brief moment, the thought that he would not be able to get very far into his investigation before John was on to him, crossed his mind. No, he had his strategy all mapped out. If he followed his plan and did not get ahead of himself, he should have all the answers he needed to confirm his suspicions. If he moved too quickly, the ISA and John would find out he was investigating Belle. If that happened, any chance of finding out Belle’s new identity and location would become extremely difficult, if not impossible.
April 26, 2010 Office of the Junior Senator
Shawn approached the office of the Junior Senator from Washington with a slight feeling of trepidation. He had to tread very carefully. He had to make sure the favour he was about to ask for was handled very discreetly.
“Detective Brady? I’m Evan Blair, one of Senator Baker’s aides, how can I help you?”
“In 2006, I filled out an application to become a F.B.I. agent. My application was denied. The reason given was that I did not fit the particular hiring profile at that time. I need to know the real reason for the denial.” Shawn stated bluntly.
“We could certainly look into it, but it would help if you would give us a little more information.”
Shawn hesitated a moment, took a good look at Evan Blair, and made a judgment call on his trustworthiness. “I need to know if this decision was made due to the efforts of an outside party.”
“You need to know if someone outside the F.B.I. used their influence to have your application denied. Who do you suspect wielded that influence?”
“That’s what I was hoping you could find out for me. Can you, Mr. Blair?”
“We can make some inquiries on your behalf.” He looked at the Detective closely. “I get the feeling that you want this handled with discretion.”
“Yes, I do.” Shawn handed him his card and told him to call as soon as he had an answer for him.
Sacred Heart Medical Center
Shawn sat with her for about an hour after she came out of recovery. He talked to her softly. All the while he kept asking himself if this woman could possibly be Belle. If it was Belle, why had she waited all this time to try and contact him? That didn’t sound like the Belle he knew. She would have fought her dad tooth and nail to be allowed to live her own life. But then, Shawn had no idea what John’s reasons for putting Belle into protective custody were. He had no idea what he would have told her. He knew one thing for sure, if Belle had thought that she would be jeopardizing the life of another family member or his life, she would have done what her father asked.
Shawn hung his head in silent prayer. God, I need your help, please. I need to know if this poor defenceless woman is Belle. Guide me and help me keep her safe. I just need you to give me a sign, anything, that will tell me who she is.
Shawn waited silently. He sighed as he rose from his chair. He hadn’t really expected God to answer his prayer, but he had hoped.
He talked with Andrew for awhile. They made arrangements to have dinner together that night and catch up on family news.
Shawn closed the last of the abandoned vehicle reports. After spending the past three hours pouring over the missing persons and abandoned vehicle reports, he had a pounding headache.
He made a quick call to Derek to get a status report. He had nothing new to report.
He called Andrew and cancelled their dinner date and rescheduled it for the next night.
He made his way back to his suite, stripped, took a long cool shower, swallowed a couple of extra strength Tylenol and crawled under the covers and sought the blessed relief of sleep.
Belle, is that really you?
Yes, Shawn, I’ve come back to you. I’m here and nobody is ever going to take me away from you ever again.
Shawn reached out in sleep. I need you, Belle.
Well, then move over, tough boy, and let me get in beside you. Shawn could hear her soft giggle. He reached over to pull down the covers when he heard her call.
Shawn bolted out of bed and rushed to the hospital. The on duty nurse didn’t even question his presence at the hospital. The patient’s blood pressure had elevated but levelled off after the arrival of the young detective. The staff surmised that the patient was dreaming, possibly of the assault that put her into this condition. This pattern continued several times in the following days. Her blood pressure would rise, she would become very agitated and before too long, the detective would show up. He didn’t have to be notified, he just knew. It got to be such a pattern, that they formed a betting pool. They placed bets to see how many minutes it would take for Detective Brady to get there after her blood pressure shot up.
May 4, 2010
Shawn was growing increasingly frustrated. He was not making any progress in either of his investigations. Derek’s group still had not been able to determine what the symbol was on the heel print. If they could figure out what it was, they would be able to make an arrest. Once they had someone in custody, all kinds of information could come to light that would lead Shawn to be able to learn the identity of the woman in the hospital.
The few leads he checked out from the missing persons and abandoned vehicles reports all had proved to be dead-ends.
The 3D image of the patient’s skull would be ready tomorrow and then Andrew and the group of researchers would start building the model of her skull. Andrew had told him that would take at least a week to ten days to complete. It would take a minimum of another week to build a plaster model of what they determined her facial features to be.
He still hadn’t heard from Evan Blair about his application.
He was getting ready to leave for the day when his phone rang. “Detective Brady, Twelfth Precinct.”
“This is Evan Blair from the…”
“I know who you are, Mr. Blair,” he interrupted. “What did you find out?”
“Are you comfortable discussing this over the phone, Detective Brady.”
“Yes. Go ahead.”
“Senator Atkins had your application denied.”
“Senator Atkins, enlighten me. Who is he?”
“He’s from Illinois, your home state, if I’m not mistaken. He also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the committee that green lights federal funding, including the F.B.I. budget. I doubt that anyone would turn down a request for a little favour from him.”
“Thanks for the information, Mr. Blair.” Shawn said.
“Do you want me to try and find out why the Senator had you turned down?”
“No, thanks. I’ll take it from here. I appreciate everything you have done on my behalf.” Shawn hung up the phone. He took a deep breath and placed a call to Salem.
“Hi, Uncle Mickey. It’s Shawn.” After they chatted a bit about family, Shawn said, “I need a favour, Uncle Mickey.”
“What can I do for you Shawn?” Mickey’s voice boomed over the phone.
“I need to know who contributes large amounts of money to Senator Atkins campaign fund. Do you think you can find that information out without raising any warning flags in his office?”
“I’ll see what I can find out for you, Shawn. Can I ask what this is about?”
“It’s personal, Uncle Mickey. I’m sorry, but I can’t go into more detail. Once I find out everything I need to know, I should have good news and that I’ll share with everyone.”
“Sure thing, Shawn. I’ll email you the information as soon as I get it together. Take care of yourself.”
“Thanks, Uncle Mickey. Give Aunt Maggie my love.”
Rodeway Inn May 11, 2010 3:40am
Shawn was slightly disoriented as he sat up in bed. What had caused him to wake up? Oh, his beeper. Where was it?
He reached over and switched on the lamp. He checked the number on the display. His heart rate increased when he recognized the number from the research facility.
He grabbed for his cellular and dialed the number. What had happened? She hadn’t called for him or had she?
“This is Detective Brady, what’s wrong. What happened to her?” His words tumbled out as he fought to control his panic.
“Relax, Detective. Nothing bad happened. She’s fine, well as fine as a person in her position could be. We’re just calling to let you know that she came out of her coma. We're assuming that the word ‘him’ she scribbled on a note pad, refers to you. She wants to see you.”
May 11, 2010 2am, Sacred Heart Medical Centre
I should really wake up. Ummm. I want to wake up. Am I sleeping? Why do I feel like I’m awake and sleeping at the same time? She shifted slightly. Pain flooded over her. It felt like thousands of hot needles where being jabbed into her all at the same time. She held her breath, hoping that the pain would pass. She had to exhale. The simple act of breathing in and breathing out became almost unbearable.
Wha…what’s wrong with me? What happened to me? I have to wake up! I feel like I’m in a fog so thick that I can’t see my own fingers that I’m holding up right in front of my face. She tried to lift her hand and felt herself falling, falling backwards into an abyss.
I…I…can’t blackout. Instinctively she seemed to sense that if she left herself fall into that ‘abyss’, she would never be able to find her way back.
Uh…uh…Maybe if I just scream I could release some of this pain. Mmmmm. I can’t open my mouth. What’s wrong with me? Oh, I hurt so much. Was I in an accident? Where am I? She held her breath as she faintly heard a rustling sound. Who’s here with me? Why can’t I remember where I am? I’m sure I’m in bed…at least, I think I am.
She felt a cool, soft touch on her wrist when whoever was in the room with her picked up her hand.
Nurse Ross was in to check the patient’s vitals. She glanced at the chart to scan the last set of readings. She’d take her pulse first. She didn’t really expect any change. At first she wasn’t sure, but the pulse felt stronger than any previous time. She checked the rate and noticed it was slightly elevated. She looked at the patient and noticed the increased rise and fall of her chest, indicating that she was breathing in and out at a faster rate. She laid the woman’s hand down gently and quickly left the room.
She had Dr. Gordon paged. She was grateful that the doctor was staying on site, preferring to remain close to the patient until she regained consciousness. He listened to the nurse’s report and told him to summon the team and they would do a full evaluation. He decided to wait until the team arrived before starting the exam. He kept a close eye on the monitor readings while he waited.
She heard the rustling sound retreat and the sound of a door opening and closing. Good, I’m alone again. I have to remember what happened to me. Think, just think. Focus. She tried to focus and concentrate on remembering where she was. The pain was overwhelming her and for several minutes the only thing she could focus on was trying to breathe through the agony.
She knew something was wrong, very wrong. What happened to me? At that moment, flashes of memory flooded over her. She visualized the road she had been travelling on, her struggle to keep the car on the road. Oh, no! I was kidnapped. Am I being held prisoner here? No, wait. They…hurt…me. Oh… my… god…they…hurt…me. Why?
She heard voices. Are they back? Are they going to kill me now? No, No! The memory of a soothing voice played through her mind. Whose voice is that?
Several people began speaking at once. She felt hands at her wrist and on her neck. They weren’t hurting her. She listened to them speaking and realized that they were talking about a ‘patient’. Why are they talking about a patient? Why aren’t they helping me? Why can’t I talk? It took her several minutes to realize that the ‘patient’ they kept referring to, was her. She felt someone peeling back her eyelid. What? That light is too bright! Let me close my eyes.
“Miss, Miss…can you hear me?” Dr. Gordon took her left hand in his.
She listened intently. That’s not the voice I want to hear. I need to hear his voice. Are you here? Please, I need you. She tried to shut out the voice of the man who had her hand. I wish I had the strength to pull my hand away, but I don’t. I should sleep. That’s it, I’ll sleep. Maybe I only hear his voice in my dreams. Maybe he’s not real. I know he makes me feel safe. She felt herself beginning to drift into sleep, when the man’s voice pulled her back.
“Miss…You need to pay attention to me. I know you must be in pain. Listen. If you can hear me, just squeeze my hand.” Dr. Gordon waited. “Focus, please. Can you squeeze my hand?”
Should I do what he wants? Can I do what he wants? I…I’ll try.
Dr. Gordon felt the slightest pressure on his hand. “That’s good. Just try one more time. Try and squeeze my hand just a little harder.” He felt the pressure on his hand increase. “Good girl. I know you’re probably tired but we have some more tests to run on you.”
No. Too tired. She paid attention to the other voices, desperate to hear that one voice.
Her hand began to tremble. Dr. Gordon could feel the tremors and he immediately became concerned.
“Mmmmmm.” Why won’t my mouth work?
“Miss, you can’t talk. Your jaw was broken so we had to wire it shut. Are you tired? If you want us to wait to run our tests, just squeeze my hand once,” Dr. Gordon said.
I don’t have the energy to do this. She squeezed the man’s hand again. She heard him ordering medication for her. No, I need him, please.
Dr. Gordon turned back towards the patient when he heard her moan. He wondered if she was in a great deal of pain and if this was her way of asking for help. He noticed her left hand moving agitatedly against the blankets. He looked more closely at her movements and came to the realization that she was trying to form letters. He placed his hand over hers and asked her softly, “Do you want a pen and notepad?” She turned her hand over and squeezed his in reply.
She could barely hold the pen in her fingers. She heard the doctor’s voice telling her to take her time. It seemed to take an eternity to scrawl the three letters. She prayed they would understand who she meant. The pen slipped when she was writing the ‘m’ – she didn’t have any strength left. He is your strength. Someone had said that to her. When? Where? Who? All her thoughts were jumbled. She didn’t know what was real or what wasn’t. She did know the pain was real. Very real and almost unbearable.
Dr. Gordon looked at her note and issued an order to Nurse Ross in a hushed tone. He spoke softly to the patient. “We’re calling him now. He’ll be here soon. Don’t worry, he won’t let you down. He’s been here for you whenever you’ve needed him before. This time won’t be any different. You rest for a while. He’ll be by your side shortly.”
The doctor ordered the medical team out of the room.
I’ll just rest for awhile.
She didn’t know if she slept or not but she knew the second he came through the door. She sensed his presence. She sensed his worry. She also sensed that he was both joyous and anxious. That was confusing. Why was he feeling all these different emotions?
Her reactions to his emotions were pushed aside by her reaction to him. A reaction she never expected but didn’t question.
I’m home. He is my home. He is my destiny.
Sacred Heart Medical Center May 11, 2010 4:30am
Shawn’s heart was pounding as he entered his security code and pressed his hand against the scanner. A few more minutes and I will know if she is Belle. She’ll recognize me. He began to run towards her door when Dr. Gordon called out to him.
“Detective Brady. Wait. I want to talk to you before you go and see her.”
Shawn stopped, annoyed, “Can’t this wait until after I see her?”
“No, it can’t. I just want to make you aware of what to expect and what not to expect from her,” Dr. Gordon cautioned.
“What do you mean, doctor?”
“She just came out of a coma. She is extremely weak. She has to be experiencing an inordinate amount of pain. She is disoriented. It’s safe to say she’s not quite sure of where she is and how she came to be here. I doubt that she has yet to remember everything. I don’t want you going in there and barraging her with all kinds of questions.”
Shawn looked up at the doctor. “Have you told her anything yet?”
“Just that her jaw had been broken and it was wired shut when it was clear that she was trying to speak. It’s going to extremely difficult for the patient when her memories of the assault return. It’s also going to a shock when she finds out the extent of her injuries. She isn’t going to appreciate how extraordinarily lucky she is to be alive at first, because she’s not going to be able to see past her injuries. These are normal reactions. She’s going to need support. The sooner you find her family and loved ones, the better her outlook is going to be. Have you made any progress in finding out who she is?” the doctor asked.
“No, I haven’t. What do you mean that she is extraordinarily lucky?” Shawn was curious to find out what the doctor meant by that statement.
“Just in the fact that whoever beat her so badly didn’t land a death blow. All they had to do was concentrate on her head area and they would have killed her very quickly. Also, the fact that none of her essential organs were damaged beyond repair proves that she was fortunate. Whoever did this to her wasn’t going for a quick kill, in my opinion, they wanted her to suffer. But that’s your area of expertise. I’m sure you’re doing whatever you can to find the person or persons responsible.”
“Yes, we are doing everything we can, doctor. Can I go in now? I won’t question her; I will wait until you give me the go ahead.”
“One more thing, Detective Brady. You seem to have developed a very strong connection with the patient. I’m not going to question why, I just need to know, if you are going to stand by her. If you don’t find out who she is, are you going to be her support throughout her very tough rehabilitation? Her emotional state is very important to us and to her healing process.” Dr. Gordon was very hesitant to broach this subject with the young man standing in front of him. He mentally braced himself for his reaction.
“I’m sure she’ll tell us who she is soon. Even when her family is located and here with her, I will not abandon her. I will be here for as long as she needs me. Can I please go in to see her, now?”
Dr. Gordon nodded and watched as the detective headed towards the patients room.
Shawn opened the door and made his way towards her. All types of emotions racing through him. He was worried about her condition, both mental and physical. He was excited at the possibility of being reunited with the love of his life after all these years. He tried to gain control over his emotions so that he could concentrate on her needs.
He stood beside her bed looking down at her and such a feeling of ‘rightness’ and ‘belonging’ settled over him that for a brief moment he couldn’t breathe. He noticed how his hand was trembling when he reached out to lightly touch her hair as be bent over to press a soft kiss to her bandaged forehead. As he straightened, he noticed that her left hand was outstretched, reaching to make contact with him.
He took her trembling hand and placed it in his hand that was still shaking and raised it towards his lips as he sat next to her. “I’m here, little one. I won’t leave you, I promise.” Shawn couldn’t stop his eyes from filling with tears as she squeezed his hand in response. He hoped he could talk to her without breaking into sobs. He knew she needed to hear his voice.
“You really need to rest. You need to start getting your strength back. Don’t worry about anything. The doctors and nurses here will take really good care of you.” Shawn tried to keep his voice low and comforting. “I’ve taken measures to keep you safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”
Shawn mentally kicked himself when he felt her panic when he brought up keeping her safe.
Safe. Hurt. The flashbacks started. It was like she could feel the force of each blow all over again. Her terror increased as memories and reality blurred. She was back in that place, absolutely terrified and fighting for her life. Who was hurting her? Why? She tried to open her eyes and remembered that she was blindfolded. Stop, please stop. I can’t take it anymore. She heard that voice again and her inner turmoil began to subside.
“I’m sorry, little one. It’s me. No one is hurting you. Can you open your eyes? Just look at me. I promise you’re safe. Please, little one, look at me and you’ll know that I’ll never let anyone hurt you ever again,” Shawn pleaded.
I can’t see you. Take the blindfold off first. She then remembered that she was in a hospital. She wasn’t blindfolded any longer. Why did it feel like she still was? She struggled to open her eyes.
Shawn watched as she tried to open her undamaged eye. Come on, just open your eye. You’ll see me, Belle. Your Shawn. You’ll know your safe now. He knew he should stop thinking of her as Belle until he had absolute proof, but he couldn’t help himself.
She tried to focus her vision on the man sitting so close to her. Her vision was blurry and her eyes hurt. The image became clearer. She looked into the deep brown depths of his eyes. She saw a look of concern, care and an edge of excitement. She instinctively knew she could trust this man with her life. An unbidden thought crossed her consciousness, he is your life.
Shawn’s heart plummeted when he looked into her pain-filled eye and didn’t see any sense of recognition from her. She doesn’t know me. He fought back his despair by recalling Dr. Gordon’s words warning him that she was very disoriented.
Her eye fluttered closed as she pulled her hand from his grasp. She very slowly lifted her left hand to touch her face. She realized that her right eye was bandaged and so was her face.
Shawn sensed her rising panic. “You were hurt, little one. Don’t worry about it now. You’re being well taken care of. I should leave now so that you can get some rest. I’ll be back later.”
Shawn felt the pressure on his hand increase. She turned his hand palm up and he realized she was trying to form letters on his hand. S…t…a… “Do you want me to stay with you, little one?” he asked tenderly.
She squeezed his hand. “Okay. Let me try and get this chair positioned so that I can try and get a little bit comfortable,” he chuckled softly. He felt her tugging at his hand and noticed that she was trying, unsuccessfully, to shift herself over in the bed.
“Do you want to me to lie with you, little one?” he asked in amazement. He couldn’t believe that she was that willing to trust him so completely.
She tugged on his hand again and very gingerly nodded to indicate ‘yes’.
“Don’t try and move. I’ll move you, don’t worry.” Shawn dropped the sides of her bed down and positioned his hip and leg on the bed next to her. He carefully placed one arm under her neck and other around her waist as he moved her ever so slowly over a few inches. He left his arm underneath her and around her shoulder as he placed her bandaged face on his chest and nestled his face against her silky hair. He pulled himself onto the narrow hospital bed and lay on his side with his other hand wrapped firmly around her waist.
“Dr. Gordon, come over here. Am I supposed to allow this?” Nurse Ross asked as she pointed towards the window to the patient’s room. Dr. Gordon watched the young detective cautiously moving the patient so that he could lie next to her and hold her while she slept.
“Yes, you can allow this. What I want you to do is to go into that room quietly, close the blinds, shut the overhead lights off and softly close the door behind you when you come out. Can you do that?”
Even though he was lying in probably the most uncomfortable position that he’d ever tried to sleep in, Shawn had one of the best nights of sleep in years. He dreamt of Belle. She was running through the yard toward the cabin, beckoning him, teasing him. She was laughing.
Shawn didn’t awaken when the on duty nurse slipped in quietly, removed his shoes and covered him with a blanket.
He awoke with a start when he felt someone gently slapping his face. He looked into her eye and saw that she was confused and scared.
“Don’t be scared, little one. It’s me, Shawn. Actually, I’m Detective Shawn Brady of the Spokane Police Department. I’m the person that found you. Do you remember that?”
She nodded, but she was extremely agitated.
Shawn noticed that she was trying to point to something on the table next to the bed. He had to get out of the bed so that he could look in that direction. He picked up the notepad and pen. “Is this what you want?”
She reached out.
He placed the notepad and pen into her hand and tried to hold the pad steady as she wrote. She finished and he turned it right side up to read what she had printed. Shawn felt a sense of shock and dismay course through his body as he read the three shaky words, ‘Who am I?’