I stared down at the blond woman in the bed wondering if my eyes were playing tricks on me as it felt like time was moving in slow motion, with the sounds of the emergency room becoming more and more faint until there was nothing but silence, right before it seemed to catch up to itself again with the noise now thundering around me, only I drowned all of it out, yelling at her unconscious body, “WHAT DID YOU DO WITH MY WIFE?”
“Mr. Northman!” I could hear the doctor calling out behind me, but I didn’t bother turning around and barked, “Go get one of the policemen! They’re outside!”
“Why?” she argued. “What’s wrong?”
I could see the fear in her eyes when I turned around to face her, so I can only imagine how scary I must have looked when I said lowly, “This woman has been stalking me and now she’s been found with my dog and my wife’s car. Now, go. Get. Them.”
She stared back at me for a split second with her eyes glancing at her patient behind me before she turned down the hallway calling out for someone to get the police, for all I knew to restrain me, but I didn’t care so long as one of the showed up, when I heard a soft moan behind me and whipped around again. Her eyes fluttered open showing one of her blue contact lenses had floated up and to the side of her brown eye, but it was enough for things to quickly fall in to place with me asking incredulously, “Debbie?”
She didn’t look quite the same as I’d remembered from when she came to the house and she’d been too far away to be absolutely certain it was her when I’d spotted her at the airport in Shreveport, but I was ninety-nine percent certain it was her now and her responding smile told me I was right when she answered, “I knew you would remember me. I’m so happy you’re here.”
I could hear the sounds of the policemen’s radios getting closer to the door, but all I wanted to do was choke the answers out of the bitch in front of me and I grabbed her upper arms, shaking her violently, with my face inches from hers yelling, “WHERE IS MY WIFE?”
Two sets of hands grabbed each of my arms a second later as the policemen pulled me off of her, but I fruitlessly fought against their hold, still yelling, ‘WHERE IS MY WIFE YOU FUCKING BITCH!”
“Settle down, Mr. Northman,” one of the officers said at my side, while she looked back at me with tears in her stupid fucking eyes, whimpering, “Why are you mad? We can finally be together now. Bill said!”
Just like that my body froze, but I dug my heels in trying to keep them from hauling me out of the room, asking her, “Bill Compton?”
If she replied, I didn’t get to hear it because I was swiftly pulled out of the room and into the hallway a second later with one of the officers saying, “You need to calm down. Now, are you saying the woman in there isn’t your wife?”
My father appeared a moment later, probably due to the amount of yelling I’d been doing and I only added to it, screaming, “NO THAT’S NOT MY WIFE!” The panic running through me had me rambling out, “That woman has been stalking me and now she was found with my dog and my wife’s car, but I don’t know where my wife is and she just said something about Bill. Compton, I think. He’s been after my wife. We have to find her,” I ended as I struggled again to get loose.
Bubba had been barking like mad and trying to get to me until he heard her yell out, “Eric! Come back! I love you!” and he then turned towards the door struggling to go after her instead. It made me realize he had been the one to attack her and I felt a brief moment of ‘atta boy’ for him before I said, “She must have done something to my wife and Bill fucking Compton is involved! Let me go! We have to find her!”
We were wasting time. God only knew how long he’d had her by then and my eyes darted frantically around me searching for a clock when they finally landed on one. The last time I’d gotten a text from Sookie had been an hour earlier, but for all I knew it could’ve been sent by that fucker if he’d already gotten to her by then.
When I agreed I wouldn’t go back into the room and pummel that bitch, they finally let me go while another officer showed up and I recognized Sookie’s wallet in his hand just as he said, “We found this in the car when we got the dog out.” Pulling out her driver’s license, he added, “It looks a lot like the woman in there, but you’re saying it’s not?”
“NO!” I yelled again, outraged over their doubt that I might not know what my own fucking wife looked like, but seeing her things; hearing that crazy bitch saying Compton was somehow involved and knowing Sookie was likely taken by him was too much for me to handle. He was insane; they all seemed to be fucking insane and I was terrified of what could happen; what might have already happened to her, and the Bean, and as the realization came over me that I might never see her again, I broke.
Was this how I felt when she’d been in the car accident and I ran out like a madman only to get into one of my own?
Without those memories, I had no way of knowing, but even so, I was certain I loved her even more now than I possibly could have back then. We hadn’t been together for very long in the grand scheme of things, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it and the thought of not seeing her again was wreaking havoc on my insides. I supposed it was close to how she must have felt when I’d been in a coma, but I don’t think I’d ever truly realized just how traumatic that had to have been for her until now. While she may have had my body with her, she had no idea if I would ever regain consciousness, but Pam had told me over and over again how strong she’d seemed. No one other than her knew she was pregnant at the time and yet she managed to hold herself together to be strong enough for all three of us and now I was barely strong enough to breathe for myself. I loved her so much, both her and the Bean, and was scared out of my mind at the thought I might not get them back. Sookie was always so much stronger than me. I knew she was with me now only because she wanted to be, but I fucking needed her. From the moment I woke up from the coma I needed her in one way or the other, but now…now I wouldn’t survive without her. I didn’t want to and I hated that it took this to happen for me to grasp just how much she meant to me.
I only hoped I would get the chance to tell her.
My vision dimmed while my body slumped against the wall as I slid down to the floor with Bubba coming over to me, but all I could do was lean against him and try to get my bearings again. It felt like I had no air left in my lungs, but no amount of gasping by me seemed to pull any in and my father’s concerned face appeared in my line of sight before he stood up again and let loose with a commanding voice that I hadn’t heard come out of him in a very long time.
“Who the fuck is in charge around here?” he barked, glaring down at each of the policemen standing around us. In addition to my lead foot, I also got my height from him and he stood at least three inches taller than the tallest one of them, so he leaned down, putting his face inches away from the closest one to him, snapping angrily, “My daughter-in-law is missing under some suspicious as fuck circumstances and that psychotic bitch in there implied who it is that might have taken her. I saw Bill Compton approach her just last night, now I want someone to go and find him. NOW!”
I glanced up at the three police officers who looked fearfully back at my fifty-five year old father, rightfully so since I’d been in their shoes under the intense focus of his fierce gaze before; the only difference was this time he was sober and one of them finally asked, “Well, uh…when was the last time you had any contact with your wife?”
It took me a second to realize he was directing the question at me since his eyes hadn’t left my father’s, but it was a second too long because my father was in my face again, saying sternly, “Eric! Pull yourself together! When was the last time Sookie texted you?”
My mouth had gone incredibly dry, but as he grabbed onto my arms and forced me to my feet, I was thankful at least he had the ability to keep his wits about him and managed to choke out, “A little over an hour ago.”
“Did you find her cell phone in the car?” my father asked the one still holding her wallet. He shook his head no, so my father followed up with, “Can you find her that way? Track her cell phone signal?”
“She doesn’t have the software downloaded to her phone,” I interrupted. “I signed up for the service today, but she had it with her so I couldn’t put it onto her phone.”
A second officer was on his own phone and from the sounds of it, they were starting to realize just how serious this was while the third one said, “It doesn’t matter. As long as her phone is on, we can track its location to within ten feet. What’s her phone number and do you know the full name of the man you suspect that might have taken her? What kind of car he drives?”
Fuck! Please tell me she just ran away from the crazy bitch!
I didn’t think to try calling her again so I pulled my phone out hitting the speed dial to call her and the joy I felt when it first rang slowly ebbed to despair when it finally went to voicemail. Hearing her happy voice over the recording was enough to get the tears to finally fall from my eyes as I said, “It’s on, but she’s not answering.”
Once I gave them Sookie’s phone number along with that fucker’s name, things started moving pretty quickly. Several detectives showed up with two of them going in to try and question the crazy bitch in trauma room three while the other one had me explain all I knew about Bill Compton and why I thought he might have Sookie. I didn’t hold anything back, from the night we met in Vegas until now and a shiver ran through my body, along with an overwhelming urge to throw up, when one of the officers came into the room the police had commandeered in the hospital with a fake pregnancy pillow in his hand. “We found this next to her body at the dog park. We recognized your wife’s name from her ID and thought maybe you all were pulling a fast one on the public about being pregnant for publicity.”
For a moment I wondered why they would think anyone would be crazy enough to do something like that until I realized I was smack dab in the middle of a pile of crazy shit, but all of those thoughts fell away when one of the other detectives who had been questioning Bizarro Bitch came into the room, saying, “She refuses to talk to us or even acknowledge us.” His eyes turned to me and said, “All she keeps saying is that she wants to talk to you.”
“Me?” I asked heatedly. “She won’t want to be in the same room with me if she knew what I want to do to her!”
He seemed to be pondering over something when he finally asked, “Do you think you can set that aside for now?” I don’t know what he saw on my face, but I imagine it looked like something close to ‘hell fucking no’, however he continued on anyway, explaining, “We need something more than her saying the name ‘Bill’ in order to get a warrant to search this Compton guy’s house. We have a patrol car there now and it’s locked up tight, but it appears to be empty. His car is gone and there’s an APB on it blanketing the entire state, but if you go in there and talk nicely to her, she might tell us something. Granted, she’s a whack job and might start spouting off about the two of you romping through fields of wildflowers full of unicorns and rainbows or she might actually have some worthy information she’s willing to share. As of right now she is merely the victim of a dog attack. She’s not in our custody and we’re approaching her as a possible witness to your wife’s abduction, so we don’t have to read her, her rights and if she happens to make a spontaneous confession to you with us there, then so be it. Whether or not it’s admissible later considering her mental state is for the prosecutor to worry about, but your wife has already been gone for over an hour. Our tech guys are working on finding her cell phone signal, but we don’t even know if it’s with her. She could’ve dropped it in the middle of the park, so we’re wasting precious time if someone actually did take her.”
I had no doubts someone took Sookie and his name was Bill fucking Compton. She never would’ve willingly left Bubba behind or not found a way to call me by now if she could, but talk nicely to that psychotic bitch? I might manage to smile after I beat the shit out of her, but knowing Sookie’s safety was in jeopardy was the only thing that made me willing to go back in there. I would do whatever I had to do to get her back.
I might have been an actor for my whole life, but I didn’t know if I could pull this one off.
“Fine,” I agreed. After he warned me one final time to keep my emotions in check, I steeled my nerves and plastered a less lethal look onto my face as I walked into her room.
The fucking cunt looked over and smiled cautiously at me, saying, “You’re back! You’re not mad at me anymore?”
Sweet fucking Jesus. What color was the sky in her crazy world?
She didn’t even seem to notice the two detectives trailing in behind me and all appeared to be forgiven by her from when I’d yelled her back into consciousness, so I managed to unclench my teeth, saying, “You wanted to talk to me, so talk. Where is my wife?”
You have sixty seconds to tell me everything you know before I knock your fucking teeth out.
“I’m so happy you’re here,” she smiled back at me.
“I’m not,” I growled as I took a seat next to the door and the detective cleared his throat as if to tell me to calm the fuck down, but I didn’t feel fucking calm. I faked sounding calm and asked, “Did Bill Compton take her?”
I could see the recognition in her eyes hearing his name, but she clenched her own teeth, saying, “She’s gone now! I’m here. Now we can be together.”
Next she was probably going to tell me all about her pet unicorns, but I didn’t have time for her bullshit. Since she’d seemed so adamant on wanting to talk to me, I decided to try and use that as a bargaining chip by standing up and saying, “If you’re not going to answer my questions then I’m leaving.”
I barely had my back turned towards the door when she called out, “Wait! Don’t go!” so when I turned to face her again, she asked, “Will you stay with me if I tell you what I know? Will that make you happy?”
I’d be happy to put my fist through your fucking skull.
I knew she was crazy, but I was still stunned over just how deep it went if she thought there was anything she could do to make me happy. All I wanted was my wife back, safe and sound, and perhaps Bill Compton’s dead body in my grasp, so I chose brooding silence instead of answering her and when she didn’t say anything else, I turned to face the door again when she said, “Yes. Bill has her.”
My stomach dropped hearing her confirm it, but I turned around and slumped back down into the chair because I wasn’t sure my legs would be able to hold me up for very much longer. When my eyes finally lifted to hers, she fucking smiled like she was sharing some sort of juicy gossip with me and said, “Well, I think he does because I passed out and didn’t get to see it, but he was the one to have me go up to her today because he wanted me to invite her to go get a cup of coffee and then I was supposed to slip something into her drink so he could take her. He was in the parking lot when I walked up to her. I saw him.”
I would kill that fucker if it was the last thing I ever did and I glared back at her barking, “Where? Where is he taking her?”
“Away,” she answered like I should’ve known that. “He’s been watching her since last summer and didn’t want to wait anymore for that baby to be born.”
Last summer? LAST FUCKING SUMMER?
That was enough to shake me to my core, but hearing the way she spit out the words, ‘That baby,’ made my heart stop.
Was he crazy enough to try and hurt the baby?
Hell, he was crazy enough to kidnap her so there were no guarantees he wouldn’t try to hurt the Bean and I rose to my feet, asking, “What do you mean he doesn’t want to wait anymore? Where is he taking her?”
“To Mexico,” she smiled. “He’s taking her to Mexico, so she can get an abortion.” Then she sighed with relief and added, “She’s long gone.”
I was torn between wanting to knock her the fuck out for being so goddamn happy over the nightmare she’d just given me while wanting to run screaming from the room all the way to Mexico at the same time, but before I could do either, one of the detectives seemed to confirm at least part of her story, saying, “They have a lock on her cell phone signal. It’s moving south of here heading towards Carlsbad and from the looks of it they’re on the I-805.”
I could only hope she was with it, but as I started to leave the room she yelled out, “No! She’s with Bill! There’s no reason for you to go now!”
“Why in the hell would I stay? To be here with you?” I yelled back having lost any amount of the control I’d had seconds earlier. “I fucking hate you!”
One of the detectives pushed me out of the room in front of him before I could get any closer to her and once we were back out in the hallway I could hear her shouting, “You should be happy he’s getting rid of that thing! I doubt it was yours anyway!”
If he’d let go of me, I had no doubts I would’ve been facing murder charges and the only thing that kept me from trying to wrench myself free from him was him getting in my face and saying, “Let it go! Think about your wife right now, not her.”
He was right, but now all I could think about was that fucker had been stalking Sookie since last fucking July. We hadn’t gotten married until September, but he’d somehow known about her before we’d even met and now he had her.
And the Bean.
Realizing just how long he’d been after her only made me more enraged, but what I felt most of all was my fear for both of them when the detective looked back at me, saying, “You should head home and we’ll call you once we know anything.”
Head home? I didn’t HAVE a fucking HOME without Sookie.
There was no fucking way I wasn’t going to wherever in the hell they ended up at and I stared back at him defiantly, saying, “I’m going to wherever my wife is, with or without you.”
He was already shaking his head before he said, “Mr. Northman, we already have officers on the way to the location. There’s nothing you can do for now. It would be best for you to go on home and we’ll keep you informed of any news.”
“Go home?” I asked incredulously. “I’m not fucking going home! How am I supposed to sit there and wait when she’s with some crazy fuck that wants to kill our baby?”
His expression changed to look like he was about to deliver bad news and he cautiously added, “We don’t even know that she’s with her phone. She could’ve dropped it somewhere and it was picked up by someone else, so it would be better if you just went home and wait for us to contact you. Besides, the highway patrol will be at the location shortly and it’s ninety miles away. It’ll be long over with before you could get there.”
Not if I still had my Corvette.
I hadn’t bothered with replacing it now that we had the Bean on the way, but the Audi wasn’t exactly slow either and he must have read it on my face because he said, “If you take off and go down there like a bat out of hell you’ll be more likely to get yourself or someone else killed. Don’t make me take you into custody for your own sake.”
I knew he could do it if he wanted to, but thinking about all of the plans we’d made together, for us and for the Bean, everything we’d already done in getting ready for the baby to be born, threatened the little bit of control I had left. Ever since I’d woken up to find out I was married and later to learn I had a son or daughter on the way, there was never a time when I didn’t want them. I was scared out of my mind and confused; I didn’t understand all of the feelings Sookie was able to evoke in me, but not once did I not want either one of them and now I just wanted them more than anything. My eyes glanced down at his left hand and seeing the gold wedding band on his ring finger only served to remind me of the one Sookie wore, and the one I never got the chance to give her, so I asked, “What in the hell would you do if it was your wife?”
He actually seemed to think about my question while he stared back into my eyes before he finally shrugged his shoulders and moved towards the door, saying, “Come on. It’s quicker when you have lights and sirens.”
I didn’t say anything else out of fear of him changing his mind and we rushed out into the hallway where we came up on my father and Pam who looked frantically at me, asking, “What’s going on? Did they find her? I’m going to kill that fucker!”
Not if I get to him first.
I didn’t have the time or the inclination to tease her about how frazzled she was since I was just as frantic and only said, “They’re tracking her cell phone signal. It’s moving south on I-805 near Carlsbad. We’re going there now.”
They both fell into step alongside us with Pam asking, “How are you getting there? Carlsbad is over an hour away. It’ll take too long!”
“Well if I could sprout fucking wings, don’t you think I would fly my ass down there?” I growled back at her. It wasn’t my fucking fault I couldn’t fly.
We were coming up to the doors leading out of the hospital and my steps faltered seeing the circus of reporters and cameramen waiting outside, so my eyes turned to Pam questioningly and she answered, “Somebody in the ER must have a big fucking mouth. I certainly didn’t call the press.” I could see the wheels spinning behind her eyes just before she said, “But, wait here. I’m going to go get you a pair of wings.”
We all watched as Pam strode out the doors like she owned the fucking place and peered at the crowd before she grabbed one reporter in particular and dragged him by his lapels back inside behind her. As soon as he was standing in front of us, she stared back at him, saying, “I’m going to offer you the deal of a lifetime, so pay attention buttercup. At some point in the near future, Eric will give you and your station an exclusive interview about today’s events. In exchange, your station is going to fly him in their helicopter right now down to where his wife is. You will not film him during the flight, nor will you record or report on anything he might do or say while he’s with you. You will not intrude or get in the way of the police or the Northmans when they reunite. Do we have a deal?”
He was already pulling his cell phone out and speaking quickly into the receiver when he looked up and nodded, asking, “Where to?”
I looked over at the detective next to me to see if he was going to object, but he answered the reporter’s question, saying, “”Carlsbad,” and then looked back at me adding “It’ll get you there in half the time. I’ll see you there.” He patted me on the back as I left Pam and my dad in my wake with me running behind the reporter to their waiting news van and ten minutes later I was ascending from the station’s rooftop helicopter pad. There wasn’t room for Pam or my dad to come along, but I’d promised to let them know something as soon as I did and thankfully neither the reporter nor the cameraman seated in the cabin asked me any questions. I took the seat next to the pilot and once we were in the air he told me we should be there in about twenty minutes before he switched the radio on so we could listen in to the police radio band.
The very first thing I heard coming through the earphones was that Compton’s car had been spotted and I let out a small exhale of relief hearing there was a blond woman in the passenger’s seat fitting Sookie’s description, but my relief turned into anxiety hearing he was refusing to pull over and was now leading them in a high speed chase. I hated feeling so helpless knowing there was nothing I could do and I silently willed the helicopter to go faster as I prayed to God nothing would happen to her. I needed to see her again; to hold her and tell her how much I loved her, but all I could do was stare down at the landscape underneath us wishing we were there already.
It felt like it took forever for twenty minutes to come and go, but now that Compton was running from the police they were already passing San Diego however we were gaining ground because I noticed Miramar Naval Air Station as we passed it by. Sookie and I were supposed to have gone there today to see if I could remember anything, but seeing it now from the sky didn’t bring back one fucking thing other than regret. Had I not acted like an ass to her the night before then she wouldn’t have gone out today. She’d be home with me instead of trapped in a car with a psychopath.
It seemed we weren’t the only ones listening in on the police radio band because as we finally got to where they were there were already several other news helicopters flying overhead, along with the state police, but I only had eyes for the car carrying my wife at a reckless fucking speed. He was zigzagging in between other cars with no less than six patrol cars chasing behind them and I could hear them talking about setting up road blocks, throwing down spike strips to deflate the tires or doing a pit maneuver to spin the car out, and while I wanted the car to come to a fucking stop, I was terrified of Sookie getting hurt in the process. From the sounds of it, they seemed to dismiss the ideas for the very same reasons, so they tried to move their patrol cars into position to box him in and force him to come to a stop, but he started driving even more erratically, as though he was going to slam into one of them, and at the rate they were traveling, I had no doubts the car they were in would’ve rolled.
Please God, let her have her seatbelt on.
The thought had barely passed through my mind when Compton tried to dart in between lanes where there was a military convoy of trucks in the far right and other motorists trying to get out of their way when the front of his car clipped the back of a semi that had nowhere else to go and his car spun out. Time once again stood still as a strangled, “NOOOOO!” left my throat when I watched helplessly from above as their car took to the air right on top of an overpass with no ground on either side to catch them.