Hannah jumped to her feet. “Teasha” she cried running towards one of her oldest friends. “Is Phoenix alright” she asked thinking that she was there due to his declining health.
“He’s fine” she sniffed returning her friends hug “it’s London.”
“London” she gasped “did she have an accident?”
“I wish” she shook her head “that would be so much easier if it were that simple.”
Hannah had been in the waiting room when the kids had flooded the ER from the party. Her mouth dropped open as she realized what Teasha was saying. “Oh no! She was at that party” pulled her friend into another hug. She could feel the stiffness in her body.
Stepping back she wiped her eyes dry. “Yeah. I can’t believe it. I keep thinking not my baby. Not my little girl. She’s too smart to do something so stupid. Too level headed. She wouldn’t do it.”
“I’m so sorry” Hannah turned motioning towards the chairs “sit with me.”
Nodding Teasha let her guide her to the empty chairs. Taking tissue from her purse Hannah handed them to her. “Thank you” she sniffed after blowing her nose. “I’m still in shock. You can’t imagine how I felt getting that phone call telling you your baby is in the hospital.”
“I think I can” she murmured scanning the waiting room for her husband. Donovan had gone in search of someone to tell them something about their son.
“What” Teasha blinked up at her. “Why are you here? Don’t tell me. Temperance was there.”
“No thankfully she wasn’t” she chuckled a little “she’s done something equally as stupid though.” At Teasha’s blank look she continued. “She and two boys decided to go to the mainland to see Unity. If she would have waited I’d have brought her myself. But she couldn’t wait until I could do it. My dad’s are coming. Should be here already.” Sighing she shook her head “must be something in the water that’s making our kids do stupid things.”
“It may have been reckless but at least her heart was in the right place.” Teasha smiled at her. “Imagine how you’d have felt if it were Charity. You’d have done the same thing.”
“Of course I would have” she cried “no questions asked. As a parent I’m forced to think of all the things that could have gone wrong. I’m scared. She’s so young and naive about a lot of things that could happen. Living on the island is isolating compared to the mainland.”
“Yet it hasn’t protected our children from the harshness of reality” she murmured, leaning her head on her friend’s shoulder.
“Reality sucks” Hannah enthused.
“You never did say why you are here” Teasha said returning to her earlier question. “If it’s not Temperance one of the boys?”
“Christopher” she said his name quickly. “We got a call to come here. That he was found on the beach. Hurt.” She turned to the other woman, “why is this happening? First Unity gets sick then London, now Christopher. What’s next?”
“I don’t know” Teasha almost felt ill. Nothing had prepared her for the fears that came along with being a parent. It never got easier no matter how old they got. “He’ll be okay” she whispered offering what little comfort she could.
“Donovan” Hannah cried breaking the hug Teasha was giving her to run to her husband. “How is he” she demanded not liking the blank glossy expression in his eyes.
“Did you talk to the doctor,” she asked taking his hand knowing that whatever he found out wasn’t good. “Please tell me” she cried “I can take anything but this silence.”
“He…he” lifting his eyes to meet hers “he was raped. Someone violated our son and left him on the beach.”
Trembling in his arms as red hot tears formed behind her lids. “Who…was it that boy he went out with?” She had so many questions needing answers.
“I didn’t know he had a date” he mumbled. “If I ever get my hands on him. I’ll kill him.”
“I’ll help” she offered to angry to offer an alternative. Anyone hurting one of her kids was going to pay for it.
“Do you know who he had a date with” he asked “the police are asking questions.”
“Can’t Christopher tell them” she asked confused.
“He’s refusing to answer their questions.” He ran his fingers through his thick red hair. “I can only imagine what’s going through his head right now.”
“Maybe I should talk to him” Hannah suggested.
“It’s worth a shot” he agreed “I just want this guy brought to justice. I’d think Chris would too.”
“He’s upset and scared right now” she reminded him. “Where is his room?”
“I’ll show you” he took her hand leading the way down a corridor. Stopping in front of a closed door “he’s in there.”
Hannah could tell by his tone he didn’t want to go inside. “It’s alright. Wait out here. No I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you go home and see if my dad’s have arrived. I don’t want them thinking we forgot about them.”
Kissing her cheek he gave her a thin lipped smile. “I’ll do that. What do you think about your dad talking to Christopher? He’s gone through something similar when he was younger. Maybe he can get through to him where we can’t.”
“That’s a good idea” she agreed “I’m sure Christopher is wanting to pretend nothing happened and ashamed that it did happen.”
“He has nothing to be ashamed of” Donovan growled.
“We know that but he doesn’t. He probably feels he should have done more to protect himself.” Hannah looked towards the door “I’ve heard a lot of excuses people tell themselves.”
“From your volunteer work at the shelter,” he said.
“Yeah. You know how I feel about this. I’ve seen the way it affected my dad throughout his entire life.” Putting a hand out she reached for the door handle. She never expected to put her training to use on her own son though.
The police officers looked up as she entered the room. They’d worked with her before on similar cases. She was good at getting victims to open up. “He’s all yours” the officer in charge said.
“I’ll do my best” she blinked back tears. “You might want to call someone else from the office though.”
“Aren’t you hear from the office” he asked.
“No” she inhaled deeply taking her son’s hand. “I’m here for my son.”
Her words struck the officers speechless. “We’re sorry. We didn’t know.”
“That’s little Christopher” the older officer said “he used to come with you to the precinct full of smiles.”
“Yeah” she said somewhat distracted pushing his hair from his face. “Hopefully he’ll be that way again” she spoke with determination as if she said it enough it’d come true.
“Mom” he whispered, “can you make them leave. Please.”
She ran her fingers through his long hair. It was limp and brittle like it needed to be brushed. “You know I can’t do that. They’ll leave when you tell them who did this to you.”
Moaning he buried his face in his pillow. “Nothing happened” he shouted “why won’t anyone believe me?”
“We both know that’s not true” she sat in a chair stroking his hair. She wanted nothing more than to pull him into her arms like she did when he was a little boy waking from a nightmare.
“I don’t care what they believe” his voice muffled by the pillow. “It’s what i want to have happened.”
“I know baby. I know” she talked in a calm soothing voice trying to keep both of them calm. “I wish that were true. The physical evidence …”
“Mom don’t” it was a plaintive cry “leave it alone.”
“I can’t” she combed her fingers through his tangles. “I want to find the person who did this. Help me find him.”
“I should have been able to fight him off” he insisted on trying to turn away from her. “I thought I was able to take care of myself like I always protected everyone else.”
“Sometimes bad things happen” she soothed quoting platitudes. “Sometimes we find ourselves needing protection. You don’t have to be ashamed…”
“I should have done something” he protested.
”Why?” she demanded making him look up at her. “Is it because you’re a man? Because men are supposed to be able to take care of themselves?”
“Yes” he sobbed “I put myself in that situation. I didn’t want to go but I did anyway. I knew better.”
“Honey there’s no way you could have predicted your date would attack you. You couldn’t have known. It’s not your fault. I don’t care if you wanted to go with him. The moment you said no was when it should have stopped.” She moved to sit on the edge of the bed stroking his back. She’d done this countless times in the past when he’d woken from a bad dream or a thunderstorm. “You won’t believe it now but it will get better.”
Nodding he accepted her words for what they were. Sighing he sat up too tired to resist. “It was Brandon.”
“The guy who helped you that one time” she asked shocked.
He leaned into her like he had as a little boy “I was uneasy all night. I only meant to have supper with him. I meant to leave right after.”
“Why didn’t you” she asked hoping she didn’t sound like she was blaming him.
“He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I didn’t know how to leave without offending him.” Wiping his eyes on the backs of his hands he continued “it was okay at first. He was handsy but nothing I couldn’t handle. Then he started to put hands places I didn’t like. He got angry when he tried to kiss me and I refused.”
“It’s alright” she whispered putting an arm around his trembling shoulders. “I’m here. He can’t hurt you now.”
Taking a deep breathe he said “he kept saying I should be grateful to him. That I owed him a kiss. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to react. He kicked my feet out from beneath me. Pinning me to the ground.” Tears flowed down his cheeks as memories flooded his mind. “I tried to fight him. He just kept hitting me until I couldn’t.”.
“Hey grandpa” Benjamin greeted giving each of them a hug. “No one’s home right now but I’m sure they’ll be here soon.”
“Not even little Tempe” Rory frowned looking around. “Isn’t it getting late for her to be out.”
“Yeah well” he shrugging “she decided to hitch a ride to the mainland to visit Unity.”
Rory shook his head as Eddie leaped on what their grandson said. “What do you mean she hitched a ride? Didn’t someone go with her?”
“She was told to wait” he shrugged unconcerned. “She got impatient. Went with a couple of her friends.”
“I take it she went without permission” Rory stated a touch of pride in his voice.
“You know it” Benjamin chuckled. “You should have seen mom and dad. I’ve never seen them so mad, at least at their darling little girl.”
“I’m sure she’ll be alright” Rory moved to assure his husband. “You and I both know Ryan and Charity will take good care of her.”
“That’s not the point” Eddie groused “she could have gotten hurt or worse….”
“She was with friends” Benjamin repeated grinning.
“Aubrey and London” Eddie asked hopefully.
“Nope a couple of boys” chuckling at the look they both gave him. “Will has been mooning over her for weeks now. I’m sure he saw this as an opportunity to play the hero.”
“Son” Donovan’s voice interrupted him “invite your grandparents inside.”
“Dad” he cried “where have you been?”
“I’ll explain when we have your grandparents settled” Donovan said picking up a couple of bags and motioning for his son to take the rest.
Once they were inside and sitting in the living room with fresh brewed tea Eddie turned to his son in law. “What’s wrong? Where’s Hannah?”
Giving him a sad smile “never could pull anything past you.”
“It’s just unusual that Hannah isn’t here,” Eddie said.
“Nothings happened to Temperance on her little excursion I hope” Rory gave him a worried look.
“No Charity called to let us know the kids are safe and at the hospital. For now it’s best she stays there.”
“Where’s Christopher” Benjamin asked coming into the room “I wanted to ask him if I could borrow his bike tomorrow.”
“I’m sure that’ll be okay. I doubt he’ll be wanting to go out.
Frowning Benjamin asked “what’s going on? Mom’s never out this late unless she’s been called out to help with a victim…”
Resting his elbows on his knees Donovan leaned forward kneading his neck. “Something happened this evening to your brother. He’s going to need all of us to help him through it.” Looking towards Eddie “we’re hoping you’ll be able to help us cope with this.”
Understanding and terror flashed in the older man’s eyes. He took Rory’s hand squeezing it hard “I’ll do what I can.”
Benjamin looked from one man to the next confusion prompting him to ask “what’s going on?”
Gulping loudly Donovan repeated everything he learned from the police. How Jace had found him on the beach beaten and almost catatonic. “He’s in a vulnerable state right now. We need to create a safe area for him to come home to.”
“It was that guy wasn’t it? Brendan?” Benjamin paced around the room unable to sit still. “It’s my fault. I convinced him to go out with him. If I hadn’t none of this would have happened.”