It seems Wattpad is having some problems, so I will post the finale here for a short while. :)
The odd beeping continues in Leigh’s dream, pulling her away from the sweet dream of Emily on a beach. Then she feels the pain, the tubes, the sticky monitor tape on her chest.
“Mother fuck,” whispers Leigh.
“No, just me,” says Emily.
Leigh creeps her eyes open and the room comes into a slow focus. She smiles. “God you look wonderful.”
“I’ve been crying for hours,” says Emily.
Leigh moves her left hand to touch her, but finds that she is handcuffed to the bed. She rattles them, almost amused, coming fully awake. “I take it we didn’t get off scott free?”
“No,” says the Judge.
Leigh turns her gaze to the room. Judge Applebee sits in a chair at the other end of the room, his dark suit rumpled, his legs are crossed. Wayne is there also, as are Justin and Brett. It is a good sign that Justin and Brett are not in cuffs.
“Jason?” asks Leigh.
“We’ll get to that later, Miss Drake. You made a circus out of my courtroom today, I don’t appreciate that,” says the Judge.
“I can appreciate that, Judge,” says Leigh. She swallows hard a pulse of pain dashes through her. “You see, no one knew every aspect of the plan, other than me. I needed that element of…”
The judge raises his hand. Leigh stops. “I know that, Miss Drake, might I call you Leigh?”
“You can call me whatever you want, Sir,” says Leigh through clenched teeth.
He nods. “I understand that you think that Jason Finn set you both up for separate murders, yes?”
“Yes,” says Leigh.
Emily nods and mutters a yes also.
“I can see the validity of you going rogue, while I don’t condone it. Why didn’t you trust Billy McGrath instead? He is your second in command, Wayne is not, and if I am mistaken, you two have never seen eye to eye.”
“Sir, your honor, I think starting from where Jason’s plan began to unravel will work best,” says Leigh. “And I think I need to go in order or I’ll miss something.”
“Do you feel up to this? You were in surgery for hours, Leigh,” says Emily.
Leigh swallows. She reaches for the glass of water, but can’t, her right hand swollen and immovable. Emily gets the water for her and Leigh takes a drink. “Better now than later.”
“Please, enlighten me,” says the Judge.
“It started when I realized that I knew how Jason had planted Emily’s fingerprints on Connor’s year book. I woke up to the realization that Jason was up to no good and was trying, without success, to frame Emily.”
“Here,” said Emily. Her voice was still cold. She handed Leigh some pills and Leigh took them, downing the small glass of water in one gulp. “Now get some sleep.”
Emily snapped the light off and turned away from her. Leigh finally began to drift off to sleep, until a thought struck her. She shot straight up in bed and looked over at Emily, sleeping soundly in the bed next to her, and realized with a sickening jolt how her fingerprints had gotten on the book.
“Emily, wake up!” ordered Leigh. She bounded out of bed and grabbed a shirt. It had just struck her how it had happened, how all of this happened. Why hadn’t she seen it before? Had she been asleep at the proverbial wheel? It was insane that she had missed the obvious clue that had been thrust right under her nose.
“What? It’s not light yet,” groaned Emily. She pulled the sheet over her head. “I am not getting up in the middle of the night unless you want to have sex.”
“Get up. We have to go to the police station before anyone else is there. Why didn’t I see this before?” Leigh said in desperation. “Damn it, Emily Black get up!”
Leigh grabbed the phone and called Kia. “Kia, I need you to meet me at the station and please make sure no one sees you.”
To her credit, Kia didn’t ask questions.
Emily slowly dressed and kept eyeing Leigh with reproach. She knew that Emily didn’t trust her, at least not right now. It was hell, but Leigh couldn’t blame her. They drove in silence. Leigh ushered her into the station through the back door. Leigh looked around frantically.
Kia was in her chair, sitting at her desk, with eyes still holding the look of sleep. She rubbed them and gave Leigh an odd look.
“Okay, boss, what did you yank my ass out of bed for at 5 a.m.?”
“Tell me again about the fingerprints,” demanded Leigh.
“Fingerprints?” asked Emily.
“Yeah, hold that thought, Kia?” asked Leigh.
“That they were placed…,” began Kia with a yawn, snapping her mouth shut on the last word.
“Placed! After the blood dried! Placed, that’s what I should have hooked onto all this time ago. Run each print through AFIS. Do you have the prints on file? Run them as individual prints,” said Leigh frantically. “Not as a block, one at a time. I need which finger it is, I know don’t look at me like I’ve lost my mind, Kia. Please?”
It was all adding up, they had rudimentary equipment here, and without something high tech, a fake fingerprint could be dummied up and no one would be the wiser, if they weren’t looking for it. And, of course, Leigh hadn’t been looking for it, not during the original investigation.
“Yeah I do have them as individual prints. Leigh what is going on?” Kia asked doing as she was told. Kia’s fingers flew over the keyboard pulling up the JPEG files and loading them into the AFIS mainframe.
“Yeah, what is going on?” Emily demanded. “Leigh, talk to me?”
Leigh paced the floor, her mind working frantically. Kia saw the hits returning and made a face at the odd results. “It was all right there, we’ve seen how to do it, but I mean, modern technology would disprove a fake print, unless you are using archaic methods, like we are…,” whispered Leigh. “He knew we would be. The storm was the perfect opportunity.”
“That can’t be, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. How did you know?” asks Kia in awe, spinning her wheelchair around to stare at Leigh.
Leigh leaned over and looked at the computer screen, seeing exactly what she’d suspected before and her heart suddenly felt so much lighter now that she no longer suspected Emily of murder.
“It’s all the same finger. Hold on I’ll be right back,” said Leigh. She ran out of the room.
“Hey! That’s my fingerprint. Leigh! What?”
“Look,” said Leigh. She returned to the room, holding the yearbook that bound in plastic. She turned the book over and then grabbed another book. “Hold the book the same way I am,” Leigh instructed Kia, who did as she was asked. Leigh turned the book over and showed the position of her thumb. Kia looked at the plastic bag, then seeing the fingerprint pattern that she’d lifted; the light dots marking the ones that were Emily’s.
“The thumb is on the wrong side. The prints were planted?” Kia asked in astonishment. “You can’t hold a book that way, it’s impossible. Who the hell would plant evidence on a yearbook?”
“Someone tell me what the fuck is going on?” Emily demanded in an angry voice.
“Someone planted your fingerprints on the yearbook that Connor was holding when he died. To make it look like you killed him,” said Leigh.
Emily stepped away from Leigh and shook her head. “What?”
“All the prints came back as the same finger,” said Kia. “Leigh, I wouldn’t have caught this. For whatever reason, the person who planted the prints only had that viable print to use so they reproduced it several times; making it look like a full hand had held the book.”
“That is because Emily has scars on the pads of all her fingers except for her index fingers. The first digit of each hand is scar free. Whoever did this could not have used the other prints, because they wouldn’t have been able to make a good enough copy to use as a transfer, but didn’t think we’d go into a deep search, as long as one finger matched, we’d never check if it was the same finger. This is Addison after all,” Leigh explained.
Kia leaned back. “Leigh, not everyone can duplicate a print this way. This isn’t a five minute process.”
“They lifted Emily’s prints from something, then made a copy, and then snuck in here and planted the prints. When we got the new equipment, they knew I’d reprocess all the old evidence. That I’d come across it someday. It might have been in a week or six months, but as long as at one point, I suspected Emily of murder, that was what they wanted,” said Leigh.
“Now you just have to figure out who planted them,” said Kia
Leigh looked up to meet Emily’s scared gaze.
“That, I can tell you without a doubt, because I’ve seen him do it before and now I’m going to figure out how to nab the bastard.”
exercise in storytelling
“We just didn’t know who, or why, at first,” explains Leigh to the Judge. “That came easily, it had to be Jason. He was the only one with malice towards me, and towards Emily. He wanted me back or he wanted me dead.” She readjusts herself in the bed.
The judge pulls his chair closer to Leigh’s bed, fully invested in the story now.
“When Jason was at Quantico, one of the exercises that he had to pass was how to differentiate between a fake fingerprint and a real one, typical scut work. He’d use regular glue, let it set and you had a fingerprint, you would rub the fake print on the palm of our own hand and use those oils to transfer the print. Certain tests could tell if it was fake or not, but as an exercise as to how a criminal might fake a fingerprint, Jason had tried to do it on his own. I’d seen him do it.”
“James ‘Cappy’ McBride? Connor Luca? Vince Knight?” asks Judge Applebee. “Why them? Why continue with the façade?”
“We didn’t know who’d killed Connor or Vince at the time, we only suspected. But when we realized that someone had planted the prints and I found out that Emily suspected me of setting the fire at Vince Knight’s, we put the pieces together and found our suspect. It was easy, only one person hated us enough to do that,” states Leigh.
“So, that was when we decided we had to do something,” says Emily. She nods to Leigh and Emily continues the story.
“Hold on. Wait, before you say anything else….” Emily waved her hand, she thought she was going to faint. The information was coming in huge clumps and all of it was jumbled and wasn’t making sense, she had to unweave it to understand it.
“The pager,” said Emily. Her mind, the mind of a suave and articulate writer, began to churn out different scenarios and all them were more insane that the craziest plot twist that she could imagine.
Leigh looked at her confused.
“Pager? What are you talking about?” asked Leigh.
Emily closed her eyes to the room; the flickering lights of the computer screen were making her head spin. One small lamp illuminated the room. The shadows were long and merged with the corners. It gave Emily the chills.
“Carmen found the pager, your pager, at Vince Knight’s house. I knew you hadn’t gone out back and thought you might have killed him.”
“Whoa, hold on. Leigh, what is she talking about? Pager? Carmen? I never printed a pager in the Knight case,” said Kia.
Leigh shook her head. “I found the pager in my car.”
“Someone is setting both of you up.” said Kia.
Leigh moved to the door, closed and locked it.
“The best thing I’ve heard is that you aren’t a killer, Em. I know, yell at me later about not trusting you. But, right now, we have to think. You thought I killed Vince? So Jason set us up there too.” Leigh paused. “Things are clicking into place. All the pieces that had been floating around in my head are making sense now. He made us into puppets. Fucker!” yelled Leigh, kicking at a chair, overturning it. “He’s always been that master, masterfully beating me, using my mind to get his career going, mastering my emotions, but not anymore.”
“You thought I killed Connor… Can you run a test to tell where and how the prints got there?” Emily asked Kia.
The wheelchair bound woman shook her head. “No. Someone would have had to have gotten your fingerprints on something like a glass or a good smooth surface. You can generate latex fingerprints, but that is like, well, government stuff, ladies. You aren’t taking your run of the mill machine to do this. This is Alias stuff. You can do it the old-fashioned way. You dust the print, lift it, scan it, and make a print of it with a computer on a transparency. Then, you can use wood glue and… transfer it onto something but it is very tricky work. Something like the yearbook, I’ve read about this but… But there is no way someone had that much time. I think, I don’t know, I can test the chemicals around the print, if I come up with traces of glue or latex…”
“Government. It’s Jason, we don’t have to guess, it’s him.”
“Son of a bitch,” said Emily. “Jason did this, but Leigh, if he did, he had to have help. He had to! But who?”
courting the devil
“Ladies, we have no accomplice in custody,” says the judge. He leans forward toward Leigh and Emily, his eyebrows spiking upwards.
“We do,” says Wayne.
“We do?” asks Emily. She looks at Leigh.
“After you shot me,” says Leigh.
“I fake shot you,” corrects Emily.
The judge clears his throat.
“Right, I went to Wayne. Scared him pretty good too,” says Leigh.
“I about died, found her sitting in my garage, stitched up like Frankenstien, she was. Told me that she thought Jason had set you two up. I told her that was bull, that Jason has been talking to me, and that’s when I knew. I knew I’d been an idiot. He’d been feeding me info on Leigh since before the election. He played me as well as he played you. That’s when I told Leigh I’d help her.”
“Help her do what, exactly?” asks the judge.
“Find his accomplices,” says Wayne.
“We narrowed it down to Billy or Carmen,” says Leigh. “Babe, you want to continue this tale?”
Emily nods and launches into the next leg of the story.
She hefted the weight of the gun. It felt wrong having it on campus, but also knowing that she was going to need all the protection she could get. She dialed her phone.
“Leigh?” said Emily.
“Yes, my love?”
“Jason is here, I think he’s playing his last card. I’m so damn scared,” said Emily. She didn’t have Leigh’s background.
She was scared.
She was an every day, run of the mill, writer hack, who could write about shooting someone. She didn’t think she could actually shoot someone if it came down to that. She couldn’t act worth shit, yet Leigh was steadfast in her belief that they could pull this off, in some over the top dramatic fashion. Why Leigh insisted on this was beyond her scope of perception, but she understood Jason better than she did.
Why not go to the authorities? Well, because it looked like something out of a novel, and a very twisted novel at that. They would simply jail them both and by the time they sorted out the intricacies of the case, Jason would have more than likely fled the country.
“Remember what we talked about, you have to let him think you think I did it,” Leigh had told her. “I know you don’t know everything I’ve got planned, but its better this way, Emily, trust me. Jason is one of the best planners on earth, I have to outthink him. ”
“I know but,” said Emily. She had choked back the tears.
“You love me?” asked Leigh.
“I do,” said Emily.
“Then trust me. Trust me when I say, if you know what is going to happen, you won’t do it. Just trust me and do everything I ask you to do, and I swear to you that we are going to live a long and happy life together. You just have to trust me and love me enough to do this.”
Leigh checked it every day, the small refrigerator located in the closet. She pulled it opened. The small blood bag was there. Lord, she’d lost her mind, but Brett assured her that if Emily’s mark was true, she’d be all right. That it was like wearing a stunt man’s blood jacket. Brett, you had better be right, or Emily will be standing trial for my real murder, she thought to herself.
courts in session
“Let me get this straight – you hadn’t told your lover that you were planning on having her fake your death?” asks Judge Applebee.
“Sort of,” answers Leigh. “Emily knew about that part, but not about Brett or who else was involved. I wanted her to have some plausibility if this went wrong.”
Emily reaches over and touches Leigh’s face. Emily sees some of the now fading scars on her skull from where the plate glass window had cut her. All of Leigh’s hair had been cut off, but it is growing quickly, and thankfully, so; Emily didn’t think she could handle a bald Leigh.
“That is a dangerous proposition,” claims Judge Applebee.
Leigh laughs ruefully. “So is love Your Honor.”
setting up the fox
She bit her lip and wondered what the fuck Emily was doing going up to Violet’s Bluff, the only thing up there was Cappy’s. She pulled out her cell and saw the battery was blinking red and had no signal. Damn it. She dropped her sunglasses down onto her nose and fell into a dead run for her SUV. When she got to the SUV, she plugged her phone into the charger.
“Why didn’t you call me?” growled Leigh. She saw the light of the cell blinking and dialed Em’s phone. “I don’t have much time, Em. Is this it? It’s too fast, he can’t have planned this. God, please tell me I’m not insane.”
Time was of the essence, it was paramount that she get there at almost the same time as Emily. This was Jason’s end game. She didn’t want Jason spooking and maybe hurting Emily, even killing Emily, and make it look like Leigh had done it.
“He is after Cappy! I couldn’t wait!” exclaimed Emily.
“I need that time, fuck why is he going after Cappy? Old man wouldn’t let me tell him anything today, damn it, could he have gone after Jason?”
“I don’t know,” said Emily. “Get here.”
“I’m going to call him to warn him. Emily be careful! You understand me? We don’t know anything.”
“I’ll use the gun if I have to. Leigh, I don’t know about this, I can’t do this, I can’t shoot someone,” said Emily.
“Emily,” began Leigh. “I love you, but you are going to have to shoot me.”
Not only was Leigh going to make Jason and his accomplice think that she was dead, but she was going to manipulate the situation and even lead Emily to believe, for a short time, that she’d killed her. It had to look completely real.
“WHAT!” yelled Emily.
“I know how this sounds, but you have to trust me. Just do whatever I ask you to do. I have something set up. Just do what your heart tells you to do. I have to go love, but please, just trust your heart.”
“I know I’m repeating myself, but…let me get this straight…,” says the Judge, waving his hand. Both Emily and Leigh raise their eyebrows. “You told your lover to shoot you?”
Leigh moans as she tries to get comfortable. “Yes.” She signals Emily for more water and takes a short drink. Coughing hard as the water goes down her throat. Getting shot is not all that it’s cracked up to be. “I told Emily to shoot me, and hoped to hell she was as smart as I thought she was or she might have killed me. You see your honor, I had help, a lot of help to put this caper together,” begins Leigh.
“I can see that,” says the Judge.
“Elizabeth Randle, Dr. Jesse Horton and his boyfriend, Xander Worthington. My brother Jesse and his husband, Brett. All had different jobs, but none knew what the other was doing until it was done,” says Leigh.
“Miss Randle?” asks the judge.
“Elizabeth was doing a ride-a-long with Xander, research for her book. That’s what we passed it off as. Jesse and Brett had been in town for over a week. Waiting for my call, we set up a satellite phone, since there is no cell reception on the mountain.” Leigh winces at the pain that vibrates through her. “I convinced Dr. Horton that I needed to fake a death. My brother is an artist, but also works for a T.V. show. His husband is a props master. We arranged for Elizabeth to be on the ambulance – we needed a non-medical person to witness the death. It needed to look as real as possible, it had to be plausible. Jason Finn had already shown himself to be a very formidable adversary.”
“For what reason?” asks the Judge.
“Because Your Honor, we needed Jason to think he got away with it. Jesse commissioned a body, female, blonde, my size, for an autopsy demonstration at the hospital. We used the cadaver to take my place in the real autopsy. Head shaved, dead, no one knew the difference, we mutilated the body to make it look enough like me. Justin and Brett used prosthetics and make up.” Again, Leigh moves on the bed. Emily reaches over and touches her hand.
“You need to stop,” says Emily. “This can wait.”
“I’ll be okay. I had wished to be cremated; no one would be digging up the body. Jesse did the autopsy, and the Medical Examiner, Cyril Van Buren didn’t balk. He didn’t have to travel to the Corner to do an autopsy on someone he knew,” explains Leigh. Leigh sits up again, the bullet hole in her back ebbs strange pains when she takes a deep breath.
“So Emily shot you?” The Judge asks.
Emily nods and takes over the story telling.
kitty, kitty, bang, bang
Emily saw the splash of blood. She howled. The shards of glass sprayed everywhere as Leigh pushed through the window, the force of the slug drove her out and through.
Emily couldn’t move immediately. The woman that her heart beat for, was dead, and she’d shot her. She ran outside, bursting through the doors, her feet lost purchase on the slick grass, falling on her knees as she spotted Leigh lying in the mosaic of broken glass. Quickly scurrying to her feet, she stumbled over to Leigh.
“Oh god, oh god. Damn it, why did you make me do this? You can’t die, oh god, please, why did you make me practice so much? I could have missed instead I didn’t, oh god.” She pulled her cell from her pocket. But found that she had no signal.
She got up, and ran to Cappy’s kitchen, found the old rotary phone and dialed 911. Xander Worthington answered the phone.
“911, what is your emergency?” he asked.
“Um, Cappy’s…,” began Emily.
Xander cut her off. “We are on our way.”
The phone clicked and the connection went dead. She let the phone dangle from its yellowed cord and she rushed back outside. She came to rest next to Leigh. She felt the tears spill onto the cold golden pine needles she was kneeling in, the glass cutting into her knees but she didn’t feel the pain.
Emily wiped her blue eyes, tears streamed down her cheeks. Nothing made any sense to her at all. All she wanted to do was rewind the last few moments of her life and not pull the trigger, not come up to Cappy’s at all. Pack up her belongings, force Leigh into the SUV and drive as far away as they could from Jason Finn.
“Who, oh god, I forgot who…” muttered Emily. She stood, looking around for Jason, for anyone. Who was his accomplice? Who’d helped him set her up for murder? Leigh had said that Jason never worked alone. Who had let out that shot, it hadn’t been her or Leigh. In the distance, she heard a soft rumbling of a car or truck and she hoisted the gun in her left hand.
He wasn’t going to get away with it, thought Emily. She rushed towards the sound of the vehicle. Tree branches whipped at her, cutting her face and arms as she cried and ran, there had to be some sort of justice in all of this. She hit the road and tripped, falling onto her hands and knees, looking up and seeing the familiar car of Carmen Dante.
The judge turns to Wayne at this point of the story. “Carmen Dante?”
“We’ve had her in custody since this morning. Arresting her earlier would have meant compromising Leigh. Jason would have known. I booked her myself,” says Wayne stiffly.
“Your honor,” says Leigh, “I realize this was unorthodox, but we had to do it this way. It’s why I didn’t trust Billy with this. He wouldn’t have been able to pull it off, I didn’t want him in harm’s way.”
The judge grimaces. “Continue.”
when a plan….
Emily was unmoving for a long moment, realizing that the conspiracy ran so much deeper than she could ever have fathomed. Shaking free of the stunned stupor, she ran back to the cabin, tears still streamed down her now dirty face. The gun still in her left hand, in a loose fist, dangling dangerously from her fingers as she half walked, half jogged back to where Leigh lay. She couldn’t breathe – couldn’t believe she’d gone along with any of this. She’d shot her own lover. What had she done? She was insane with the loss of her one true love.
“Leigh!” yelled Emily as she rounded the corner of the cabin. A pool of blood was starting to form under her already. Landing hard on her knees, she felt for a pulse and was surprised to find one, a strong one at that. Her fingers wiped away some of the blood that was on Leigh’s neck and she checked again, there was a pulse.
A soft groan escaped Leigh. Emily yelped and skittered back. Leigh’s dark eyes fluttered opened, her wet tongue licking her lips. Her right hand reached over to feel the wound that Emily had inflicted.
“Fucker didn’t tell me it would hurt this much…,” muttered Leigh.
Emily grabbed her, gathering her up in her arms and holding her tightly. Then she kissed Leigh hard enough to draw blood, wanting to make sure she was alive.
“Babe, easy, okay?” said Leigh. Emily let her go, feeling the sticky blood at her fingertips. “You did just shoot me.”
“A blood bag,” a deep voice came from behind Emily. She swung around, the gun in her hand gripped solidly; ready to shoot if it was Jason. Brett scurried back around the corner of the cabin, back to cover.
“HEY! No shooting my husband,” yelled Justin. He was on the other side of the cabin. Emily swung the gun towards Justin’s voice. “Leigh, are you okay?”
Emily dropped the gun and fell back onto the carpet of pine needles and glass.
“Uhg, yeah I’m fine. Brett, you didn’t tell me it would hurt this much! My whole body hurts,” says Leigh. “Or, I loaded the bullets with too much powder.”
“You weren’t supposed to jump out the window!” yelled Brett. He was still hiding behind the cabin. Justin was now kneeling next to Leigh.
Emily threw her hands up in desperation, feeling very much out of the loop. “What the hell is going on? Leigh? Tell me!”
“Justin’s been here for a week,” said Leigh. The sirens cut into her explanation. “Brett set this up for me.” She reached into the jacket and pulled out an empty blood bag. Emily’s eyes went wide. Leigh had not only set up Jason, but herself as well.
“That’s why you wanted me to shoot you in the heart? You had it all planned,” said Emily. “You are damn lucky I shot you there and not in the head!”
“I had to make Jason believe you’d killed me. Why do you think I had you practice so much, you really did have my life in your hands, Em. I think it worked, and once Jesse and Xander get here, the other phase of the plan can get underway.”
“Xander and Jesse? You got them mixed up in this, too?” asked Emily.
“They’re here,” said Brett. “Emily, please darling, put that gun away! You might shoot someone who doesn’t have a bullet proof vest on.”
a question for the…
“You do realize that charges may be filed against all of you?” asks the Judge.
Leigh nods. “Yes, everyone understood that before we even started this, or got involved. We didn’t think he’d go after Cappy. That was our mistake; we didn’t act fast enough to trap him. We figured he would find a way of setting Emily or I up some other way than committing murder again.” Leigh stops the feeling of fatigue washes over her. She wants Emily to crawl into bed with her, fall asleep, and let this all be a dream. “Once we knew who was involved with Jason, we watched. This morning Jason played his last card. He tried to inject Carmen with insulin. She’s a diabetic. He succeeded, but Jesse was there, ready for what he’d planned. Jesse has been constantly watching Carmen since this began, he or Xander were always within proximity of her. We didn’t want anyone else dead. Jason went to the courtroom believing that Carmen was dead. She isn’t,” says Leigh.
“Leigh, posing as Jasmine, brought me papers today, telling me that Carmen was all right and that it was all set,” says Emily. “Whatever you do, Judge, we accept that. But we are alive and rid of Jason.”
The Judge sighs. “So you faked your death. Doctor Horton provided you with a body. Xander Worthington called your death. Elizabeth Randall gave the cover story of how she saw Leigh Drake dead. Brett Taylor helped you set up a blood bag, so that the shot Emily fired looked real?”
The Judge continues, “Your brother, Justin Drake, where did you fit into this?”
“Make up and helped me to transform into the reporter. I wanted to be able to go into the community. Hiding for months wasn’t my idea of fun, and I couldn’t investigate, or communicate with Wayne. It was easy for Justin to hide in town also, he wore contacts and played the cameraman for my reporter.”
“Played along,” scoffs the Judge.
The room is silent, except for the beeps of the monitors and Leigh’s heavy breathing.
“I will implore the district attorney to not press charges. I think you’ve been through enough, both of you, all of you,” says the Judge. “Nor will I allow him to press charges on the others, this was your master plan. I will, however, implore him to press charges against Carmen Dante.”
Leigh shifts in her bed. “She’ll have a good lawyer and we’ll testify on her behalf. She’s as much a victim in this as we were.”
“Wayne,” says the Judge. “See that Miss Dante is put in protective custody, and relieve Billy McGrath of duty, until this is over.” Leigh bristles with anger. “No, Miss Drake, I realize that young Billy had nothing to do with it, but he is linked to Miss Dante. I would be led to believe that you have all of this documented?”
“Oh yes your honor, every single thing. In triplicate,” says Leigh.
The judge stands. Emily does also.
“You are released from custody, Miss Black. Might I add that if you choose to use this in a novel, that I’d like to portrayed with a delicate hand and a love for the law,” says the Judge with the first hint of a smile that Leigh has ever seen.
Emily beams. “Yes Sir.”
“I do believe you have people out here waiting to see you,” says the Judge.
The tension ebbs from Leigh’s body. She aches. Each breath is painful, she doesn’t want to see anyone, just Emily.
Jesse is the first to come into the room. “I don’t think visitors are appropriate at this point, Leigh,” he says. He walks to her monitors and looks over the numbers.
Leigh snorts, pulls the oxygen off and lets it rest on her thigh. “Who is here?”
“I sent Billy home, explained everything to him. He is pissed at you, but I think he gets it. Give him some time. Cantrell’s are out there too, with Justin and Brett. Elizabeth is sleeping in the on-call room. Half the town is outside holding some vigil for you too. Should I tell you what happened?” asks Jesse.
“That might work,” says Leigh. Closing her eyes to the edge of pain.
“The bullet, luckily, didn’t hit anything major, no spinal involvement. You, somehow, missed your liver, I had to remove some intestines. Not a huge loss and it clipped the lower lobe of your right lung. You are damn lucky, Leigh. We will have to watch for infection and complications, of course.”
“Jason?” asks Leigh.
“He’s dead,” says Emily.
Leigh is silent.
“I killed him.”
“No, he killed himself the minute he pulled a gun on you,” says Jesse. “Be very aware of your body for the next few days. You have a chest tube. And, well, the exit wound isn’t pretty. I’ve kept the meds low, I knew that Judge Applebee would have words for you.”
Leigh’s hand grabs Jesse’s. “Thank you.”
“Don’t forget, a nice slice of land up on the mountain of yours.”
Leigh laughs. The pain rattles through her and makes her vision blue.
“I didn’t do it for that reason, though. I’d have done it anyway. I don’t like men who beat women, for any reason. He was a bastard. He got what he deserved.”
Leigh is groggy as Jesse pushes the pain meds through the IV site. He exits the room and before the Cantrells can sweep into the room, Leigh is asleep.
Leigh’s eyes flutter open. “Em?”
She feels the sweet heat of her body next to hers, nestling against her, stealing her pillow. Warm and inviting. Leigh moves her hand and finds the cuffs gone, thankful for that. She touches Emily’s cheek, caressing it, the skin of her lover only makes her feel at home.
All of it, it had been worth it. Their love worth the risk.
“Mmm,” moans Emily.
“Where is everyone?”
“Home. You knocked out, Leigh. Justin and Brett are at our house. Elizabeth went off with Billy, yes, you heard me right, Billy. He came while you slept. I explained, I think he’ll be okay but he is in a world of pissed off right now. Wayne was wonderful, really calmed him down. Jesse went home, another doctor is on-call and the Cantrell’s stayed for a while, wanted to make sure you were okay. They did bring something.”
“Mmm, what?” asks Leigh.
“Just our usual order from our favorite Chinese place,” says Emily.
Leigh laughs. “The only Chinese place in Addison.”
“Justin told me, about the tape,” whispers Emily.
Leigh had wanted to spare Emily the pain of what she’d found.
“It was Connor and Jason that night; they are the ones who raped me,” said Emily.
“It doesn’t matter now, it’s over,” says Leigh.
“Yes. Over,” says Leigh. She pulls Emily close, kisses the top of her head, and lets the inviting dreams of what is to come lull her back to sleep.