Disclaimer: All characters belong to Alliance.
She slowly lowered herself onto the couch, thanking God for the peace and quiet she missed so much of for the last four days. Spreading her mother's tattered old quilt over her, she placed her arm over her eyes.
The pain was instant and sharp, a reminder of the ordeal she had been through. She jerked her arm away from her face and stiffened. Once the wave of pain had subsided, she slowly rubbed her fingertips over the cuts on her face. The swelling had gone down and the bruises were turning a deep purple. She sighed. She was thankful to be out of the hospital. She spoke out loud to the empty room, "I wonder how Ray's doing? I need to call him." Her body refused to relinquish its position of comfort. "I'll do it later. He's probably resting, anyway." She reached for the remote and clicked on the TV. There's nothing on but talk shows. "Where do they find these people?" She flipped past the shopping channels, the weather channel and then she landed on a news program.
The announcer was a smart-looking blond with too much eye shadow. "Welcome back to Chicago Cable News-Week in Review. Wednesday, March 22, Police are on the search tonight for convicted kidnapper Michael DuCane Carver." Her eyes were fixed on the mug shot in the corner of the screen. The face on the screen looked right through her. The sound of his name caused a wave of nausea to rush over her. Her hands began to tremble. "Carver was released from prison Monday afternoon after serving a four-year sentence for kidnapping. He is suspected in the disappearance of District Attorney Sara Montgomery. CCN has learned that Miss Montgomery was in protective custody when she was allegedly abducted. Miss Montgomery was the prosecuting attorney for the Carver kidnapping case."
She was numb. She stared blankly at the screen. The image of past news stories flashing shadows across her face. Then the story changed. She was transfixed once again.
"Friday, March 24, After nearly 17 hours of searching, District Attorney Sara Montgomery has been found in the abandoned Whaley Fisheries Plant. We now take you to the scene with Chad Hoberling. Chad, what has happened?" The picture quickly changed. A reporter stood across the street from an old warehouse. Police cars and ambulances were gathered in the background. "Thank you, Tally. A tip led police here after a citizen spotted the car believed stolen by Carver. The first officers on the scene searched the building and found Miss Montgomery, but before they could remove her from the building shots were fired. In a statement given to us by police, we have learned that Carver fired at police during their attempt to rescue Miss Montgomery. No one has exited the building as yet. However, we have been told that one person has been fatally wounded. With CCN, this is Chad Hoberling. Tally, back to you." The commercials seemed to blur and melt away from her sight. The events of four days ago were being replayed before her. "We will now rejoin, Chad Hoberling for an update on the Montgomery kidnapping. Chad, what's happening now?"
"Tally, one officer has been carried from the building and is now being helped by the EMT's. We are not aware of the severity of his wounds. Wait, if we could zoom in, It appears to be Miss Montgomery being carried from the building and being taken to an ambulance. It appears to me that she is alive, however, she does appear to have some cuts and bruises on her face. It's hard to tell from here, Tally. No word yet on Carver. Tally, back to you." She sat straight up at the sight of Ray being wheeled to the ambulance on a stretcher. "I can't believe you did that. You took a bullet for me. Why, Ray? Why?" She leaned forward on the couch and pleaded to the screen. Then her mouth went dry and all she could hear was the beating of her own heart. Fraser rushed from the building carrying Sara. She was wrapped in a trench coat and barefoot. She looked lifeless as Fraser ran toward the back of the waiting ambulance. There was blood all over his hands. It seemed like a nightmare as Sara watched herself being rushed to the hospital. She slowly raised the remote and turned off the TV. She jolted back to reality when the doorbell rang. Rising slowly from the pain, she limped to the door. She cautiously looked through the peephole and then smiled brightly. Before she could get the door open all the way she was enveloped in a pair of strong, loving arms.
"How are you feeling? Have you gotten any rest?"
"A little. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at work?"
"It's lunchtime, Sara. I came to see how you were doing. Can I get you anything? Would you like me to take you somewhere for lunch."
She couldn't help but care for the man that stood before her. A week ago they were strangers, today she never felt closer to anyone.
"I'm fine. You don't have to fall all over me, you know. I know you have more important things to do than to wet nurse me."
"Nonsense. There's nowhere I would rather be than with you." He gently took her hand and held it in his own. His smile made her lose her train of thought. The horror of five minutes ago was a distant memory. When he was with her, she felt safe. He brushed a stray hair from her face and led her back to the couch. He helped her sit next to him and positioned her so she was resting her head against his shoulder. The stiffness in her body was evident on her face. Soon, the pain faded as she rested secure in his arms.
She sighed heavily, "How did things get like this?"
"You were stalked, then kidnapped by an accused serial killer, whom you prosecuted and sent to jail."
"I'm well aware of that. I wasn't really looking for an answer." She smiled up at the clear blue eyes that were now fixed on hers.
"I'll just sit with you until I have to go back to work, if that's all right?"
She reached over and took his hand. She nuzzled closer to him and heaved another more contented sigh.
"Thanks, Ben. I'm glad you're here."
Her name is Sara. Sara Montgomery. She's considered one of the best DA's in Chicago. A pretty big accomplishment for a small town girl from South Carolina. She left the comforts or confines of small town America to attend college in the big city. Besides, she liked it here. She thrived on putting the scum of the Earth behind bars. She was smart, tough and one hell of an attorney. It didn't hurt that she was a striking brunette with a killer southern accent.
She had quite a few high profile cases under her belt so she was no stranger to being under the microscope. She was fortunate enough to be protégé of Mr. Craig Parker. He was one the most respected DA's in Chicago. The two of them were feared by several defense attorneys in the Chicago area, and they liked it that way. Their mutual respect was a gift she truly treasured.
"Vecchio!! My office!" Welsh had such a way with words. Ray and Fraser quickly strode across the bullpen into Lt. Welsh's office. Fraser couldn't help but notice the attractive brunette sitting on the sofa. Next to her was a very distinguished looking man.
"Sara?" Ray hadn't seen her for about a year. *Man she looks great.* He quickly grabbed her up and gave her a big hug. Ray could immediately tell there was something wrong. He had worked with Sara on several cases. He liked her. She always seemed to be on the same team as the rest of the cops. Not like some of the DA's that were assigned his cases. That accent of hers was a plus as well. He could listen to her talk all day. And when she argued a case, it seemed to get thicker.
Welsh quickly broke in. "We've got a problem here, Detective. Have a seat. Sara Montgomery, Craig Parker, this is Constable Benton Fraser. He's here in an unofficial capacity. Constable, Miss Montgomery and Mr. Parker are with the DA's office."
"Nice to meet you both." Fraser not only saw how attractive the young woman was, but now he could see her fear as well.
"What's this all about Lieutenant? Is there a problem with one of our cases?" Ray looked intently at Mr. Parker. He'd had disagreements with the Senior DA in the past. *What was it going to be this time?*
Welsh's voice took on a low and almost fatherly tone. "It concerns Sara. Remember the Carver Case? As of two o'clock this afternoon, the psycho is out on parole."
The sound of his name made Sara flinch. She hoped no one noticed. She was wrong. Little went unnoticed by the Mountie. The thought of what he had done to all those women. Kidnapping. Torture. Rape. He was a monster. Yet, there was no evidence to convict him of the crimes. They had arrested him on kidnapping charges only. No other evidence could link him to the other victims. It was one of her first cases. She'd sat second chair in the courtroom next to Craig Parker and the two of them had fought as hard as they could to convict this animal. She had nightmares for weeks of the constant stares the madman gave her during the trial. The threats he made at his conviction still echoed in her mind. He was like ice when he spat the words at her. "I'll have you. You'll be the first one I take when I get out." Only she and Parker heard the threat. Both took it to heart.
Fraser noticed that Miss Montgomery seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. The fear and hatred on her face told him they were not good ones.
Ray was furious. "How in the hell can this psycho be walking the street?! It's only been four years since the bastard went to prison."
Welsh looked disgusted. "Overcrowding, Detective. And Michael DuCane Carver has made himself the model prisoner for the last four years."
Fraser could see the fear building in Miss Montgomery. "You think Miss Montgomery is in immediate danger, Leftenant?"
"Sara." It was barely whispered, but Fraser's acute hearing caught the sound.
She just barely raised her voice and in a flat southern drawl that sounded like something Fraser had only heard in movies, she stated, "My name is Sara."
Mr. Parker smiled to himself. In the face of everything Sara was still Sara. She was tough as nails, without an ounce of pretense. That's why she was so dear to so many. Sara was on a first-name basis with half of Chicago. She always passed it off as southern hospitality.
"Sara." Fraser repeated her name but was still lost in her eyes and her voice. He was amazing with dialects and idioms, but hers was one he could not exactly place. To say the least he was intrigued. Ray could see the look in the Mounties eyes. He looked as if he was figuring out some type of puzzle or riddle. He would have to clue him in later.
"Sara and Mr. Parker are here because it is more than likely that Carver will come after her. On the day he was convicted he made a threat to Sara. We're not willing to take the chance of calling this psycho's bluff. As of this moment you two are Sara's shadow. Do you understand, Detective? Do not let her out of your sight. He hasn't tried to make contact yet but we are not willing to let this madman get too close. Mr. Parker and Sara have a trial hearing this afternoon and the rest of her week has been cleared. Until we know what this guy's intention is we are not taking chances. Mr. Parker and Sara are on their way to the Courthouse. Detective, Constable, I suggest you get your coats."
"Yes Sir." Ray quickly opened the office door and headed across the bullpen to his desk. He grabbed his coat and turned to see Fraser holding the door for Sara and Mr. Parker. The older man ushered Sara quickly past the other officers standing by their desks. If this were anyone else, Ray would have argued the fact he was not a babysitter to someone who might be in danger. There was no proof of danger; people get paroled everyday. But the guy was Carver, and this was Sara.
"Come on, Benny. I'll fill you in, in the car." Ray, Fraser and Dief made their way to the parking lot and pulled out behind Mr. Parker's Gray Lincoln.
"Sara and I have known each other for about three years. She's a hellova DA. Always goes the full nine yards to put the bad guys away. She's the best friend a cop could have in the DA's office. Everything she does is by the book. But, she'll bend over backwards to get the conviction and make the department look good in the process."
"She's scared, Ray."
"I know. I've never seen her this way. Normally she would talk your head off. She'd even give you a run for your money."
"No offense buddy, but I would much rather hear her read a grocery list over an Inuit story any day. That accent of hers can drive you nuts."
"Is she from Georgia?"
"No. What's the matter, Benny? The Mountie stumped?"
"I was merely trying to ascertain the origin of her dialect, Ray."
"Right. Just watch your step, Benny. She'll charm the pants off you. She'll have you eating out of her hand before you know what hits you."
"I don't foresee giving her my pants, Ray. Why would I give her my pants?"
"Forget it. We're here."
"No! Let's go." *I knew it. He'll never know what hit him. Welcome to the club, Benny.*
*You have got to put this out of your mind. There is no proof that Carver is after you. What makes you so special? It's just conceit. Get a grip, girl. You have a case to win. Don't let the bastard throw you like this. Dear Lord, give me strength.* Sara looked at Craig Parker with all the confidence she could muster. He returned her look with that of fatherly concern. She hated that look. It made her feel five years old. And she didn't take kindly to that.
"I'm fine. I am not going to let my life be run by the likes of Michael Carver. Let's just give our closing arguments and win this case."
Ray and Fraser sat near the back of the courtroom. Ray knew that watching Sara Montgomery in action was a sight to behold. The fear slowly left her face and she became the confident District Attorney he knew. She began to give her closing arguments with a vengeance. The case she was prosecuting was a liquor store robbery in which the clerk was shot and killed. The case was open and shut. But to her, every case was a fight to the end. Fraser sat in amazement as the frightened brunette transformed before his eyes. She rose to speak and out came the voice of a skilled litigator. She was strong and powerful in her words, and had the jury mesmerized. *The accent.* He noted that the more she argued her point the thicker it became. * Kentucky?* Fraser was perplexed at the accent and the woman.
The jury came back with a verdict in less than 45 minutes. Guilty. They were ready to leave.
"Sara, Detective Vecchio and Constable Fraser will see you home. Lt. Welsh has arranged for several patrolmen to be in your neighborhood this evening."
"Craig, I'm not going to lock myself away. Why would Carver want to come after me? He only said those things to intimidate me. If I let all this 'protection' continue then he will be getting what he wants." Sara was not only trying to convince everyone around her of her words but herself as well.
"We had this conversation this morning. It's not open for discussion again. You better be glad I haven't called your father and demanded that you spend the next month on the farm in South Carolina."
"Don't you dare bring my father into this and stop treating me like I'm five!" He could tell she was angry because 'five' was said with a little more twang than normal. But he didn't care. He wasn't going to take chances with her safety.
"Detective! Please escort Sara home and make sure the patrolmen keep a watchful eye on her apartment. If there is anything at all I need to know, call me." He gave the detective a stern look.
"We'll take good care of her. Let's go Sara."
" Ray - "
"Let's go, Sara."
"Fine" She grabbed her purse and briefcase and stormed past the three men hell bent on protecting her. She was stubborn and had a quick temper.
Fraser held the door for her as they left the courthouse. Sara looked at Ray then at Fraser.
"I don't know why Craig had to cause such a fuss. I'm sorry you have to baby-sit me. Ray, I know you would rather be someplace else. And Constable, I have no idea why you are even here in the first place." She gave him an odd look, like he was something hanging on a museum wall.
"Well, you see, Miss Montgomery, I first came to Chicago - "
"Benny! I'll fill you in later, Sara. Both of you, get in the car."
Fraser and Dief climbed into the back seat of the Riv. Sara sat in the front seat and Ray closed her door. After they were underway, Sara gave Ray an apologetic look.
"I'm sorry, Ray."
"Why?" Ray had no idea what she was sorry about.
"You have more important things to do than baby-sit me. I know that if I didn't work for Craig Parker none of this would be happening. People get paroled everyday. Not every man that goes to jail tries to seek revenge on the prosecutors that helped put him there."
"Yeah, but not every man that goes to jail is a psychotic killer. You know it and I know it. I'm not going to let anything happen to you. You are stuck with us until we know you are safe."
She couldn't help but smile at the both of them. * It is nice to have such good looking bodyguards*
Fraser could stand it no longer. "Miss Montgomery - "
"Sara. Call me Sara. It's Benton, Right? May I call you Benton or Ben?"
"Ah - well - Ben if you prefer. I - " He rubbed his thumb along his eyebrow.
Ray glanced at his tongue-tied friend in the rearview mirror. * Here we go. She's going to wrap you around her little finger, Benny. *
"Sara, I was wondering about your accent. I can tell that you are from the southeastern United States. But, which state?"
"Which one do you think?" Sara turned to face the Mountie. Ray just grinned. "Go ahead, guess."
"In conversations with Ray I have ruled out Georgia and Tennessee. Kentucky?"
"No. But, I'll give you a hint. James Taylor went there in his mind."
"We've got great peaches and a really nice beach. And, oh how I miss the smell of cows." Sara closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, trying to remember the smell of home.
"Cows?" Ray made a face. "How could anyone miss the smell of a cow?"
Sara laughed. Fraser noted that her whole face seemed to light up like none he had ever seen. He also noted that the fear he had seen before was slowly fading.
"I miss cows the same way you would probably miss the smell of Chinatown."
"South Carolina!" Fraser almost popped when he said it.
"Correct, Constable. Rock Hill, South Carolina to be exact."
"Rock Hill? I never knew that. God, It sounds like something off the Beverly Hillbillies. That's as bad as Runamukluck."
"Ray, it's Tuk - "
"I care. Where are you from?" Just as Fraser was about to answer, Ray pulled in front of her apartment. "We're here." Ray jumped out of the Riv and bounded to the passenger side of the car. Fraser noted that when it came to Sara, Ray's manners were impeccable.
The trio entered the apartment building and rode the elevator to the third floor.
"Here it is. Apartment 310." As they approached her apartment, they noticed a small package in front of her door.
She immediately stopped in her tracks. Fraser nearly ran into the back of her. "Sara, what's wrong?"
Sara swallowed hard. The fear she felt was gripping her throat. She looked at Ray. Fear had overtaken her eyes again. She whispered "All packages are delivered downstairs. No one is allowed to deliver to the residences." Ray grabbed her keys and pulled his gun. Fraser guided Sara by her shoulders to step behind him. Ray handed the package to Fraser and opened the front door slowly. Ray surveyed the apartment. Everything seemed to be fine. He motioned for the others to come inside.
Fraser was still standing in front of Sara. When he moved to allow her to enter the door, he realized she had a tight grip on the back of his red serge. He gave Ray a meaningful look and Ray quickly went to Sara and took her hand. He led her to the sofa. She sat and looked at Fraser and then the package.
"What do you think it is Benny?"
Fraser began to smell and feel the box intently. "It doesn't appear to be a incendiary device."
"Oh, God!" Sara's eyes began to fill.
"It does, however, have the odor of - Ray." Fraser gave Ray a concerned and purposeful look. Ray walked quickly to his friend's side. In hushed tones, Fraser explained to Ray what he thought was in the package. "It has the distinct odor of a dead animal, Ray."
"I think it's a dead animal."
The pair quickly made their way to the kitchen. Ray instructed Sara to stay put. The two carefully opened the package. Inside they saw what appeared to be a cat cut into pieces.
As Sara sat on the sofa she noticed a small red collar on the coffee table.
Neither man noticed as Sara walked up behind them. She placed her hand on Fraser's shoulder and held up the collar. Fraser spun around quickly. He noticed the collar with the small gold tag hanging from it. He could barely make out the name "Pearl". Then realizing the situation, he tried to block Sara's view of the package. Ray called out Sara's name, but it was too late. She looked in horror at the box, then back at the two men.
"Oh, God!" She turned ghostly white and ran to the bathroom. Ben quickly followed as Ray gathered the package to be taken down to forensics. Fraser stood outside the door while she vomited. When he heard the flush of the toilet and her stirring inside, he quietly opened the door.
"Sara, are you okay?" She was sitting in the floor between the toilet and the tub. Tears streamed down her face. He quickly grabbed a hand towel from the shelf by the sink. After wetting it, he began to wipe her face. She just stared at his eyes. Those strong blue eyes. Could this man save her from the monster she feared? "He was in my house. He was in my house." was all she could say. Fraser slowly wiped the towel over her forehead and brushed her light brown hair away from her face. It pained him to the depths of his soul to see the fear in the green eyes that were fixed on his.
Ray appeared at the door. His eyes met Fraser's. Both knew what had to be done. "Sara, you need to pack some things. You're not staying here. Sara!" Her head snapped away from Fraser's face and she glared at Ray. "What?! I'm not going to be run out of my own home." She didn't know why she said it. She wanted to just run away and disappear. But something deep inside her was strong and stubborn and knew she had to fight for control.
"Don't start this with me, Sara. You are not staying here. I just got off the phone with Welsh and Parker and we are taking you to a safe house. Now, pack your things or I will pack them for you. You are not safe here. Welsh is on his way here, along with Huey and Louis to look things over and question your neighbors. Benny, can she stand up?" The harshness of his tone disappeared in his last question. Fraser helped Sara to her feet and just stared at the two of them. He could see the concern in Ray's eyes and the fear in Sara's. She pushed past the two men and made her way down the hall.
"Shit!" She wasn't normally accustomed to using profanity, however she was mad, scared and it just came out of her mouth.
The ride to the safe house was made in silence. They arrived at a large brick home on the outskirts of Chicago. "Hey, Benny, help Sara get settled and I'll call Welsh. Put her in the upstairs bedroom in the middle. You and I will take the ones on either side."
Fraser gathered Sara's things and the two made their way into the large home. Sara made her way upstairs and found the bedroom that Ray had said should be hers. Fraser placed her bags on the bed and slowly looked at Sara. She was beautiful. There was something about her that made him want to take her in his arms and protect her with his life. She began to furiously unpack her things. Fraser quietly left her to her unpacking.
"She's a strong one, Son." Robert Fraser appeared in the hall.
"I know, but she's scared."
"She's got a fighting spirit. Fear will only make it stronger, Son. She's pretty, too."
"Ah - yes, Dad. She is very pretty."
"Reminds me of your mother. Ah, Caroline. What a fighter. Had the spirit of a grizzly, that woman did. But soft as a rose petal. What a woman, Son. What a woman."
Ray bolted through the front door and yelled for Benny. "I'm going into the city to get our things. Welsh has her apartment covered and we will be staying here for a few days. He's spoken with Thatcher and explained the situation. I shouldn't be gone more than a few hours. Keep an eye on her, Fraser."
Sara heard Ray speaking with Fraser and stepped into the doorway of her room. Before he could exit the front door she called for him. "Ray!"
Ray spun around quickly and looked at the attractive DA. She softly said, "I'm sorry."
He didn't bother to reprimand her for her statements. He just gave her a caring smile and turned to leave.
Fraser was now alone for the first time with the lovely brunette. Normally he would have been quite flustered in the presence of a beautiful woman but Sara was different. She somehow made him feel at ease and comfortable. She smiled softly at him. *What a nice man.*
"Ben, I'm going to take a shower and change clothes."
"That's a good idea, Sara. I'll be downstairs if you need anything."
"Thank you, Ben. You are such a nice man." Sara was used to saying what she thought. She turned and softly closed the door to her bedroom.
The shower managed to calm her nerves a little. She left her room and leaned over the railing that over looked the lower level of the house. She saw Ben sitting in the living room. He had removed his red serge and was leaned back on the sofa in a white Henley and his blue uniform pants. His suspenders hung by his sides. * What a nice looking man. *
Fraser heard her door open. She appeared at the top of the stairs in blue sweatpants and a well-worn T-shirt. It seemed to have some sort of College logo on the front and the words "Go Cocks" in black letters on the back. Her hair was still damp on the ends and flowing freely over her shoulder. She was barefoot. He noticed that on each second toe she wore thin silver toe rings. He found them oddly attractive. He had to make an effort not to stare.
"Well, Constable, Ray should be back in a while and I know you two must be starving. Is there any food in this joint?"
"I'm sure the Leftenant made arrangements for the pantry to be stocked prior to our arrival."
*Boy, the women would eat you up back home.* "Let's find the kitchen and see what we can find."
Fraser followed her into the kitchen. He caught himself taking in the shape of her. He lowered his head and hoped she didn't notice his blushing. He took a seat on a barstool at the island in the center of the large kitchen. He watched her move quickly from the pantry to the cabinets.
She turned abruptly and looked him directly in the eyes. "When was the last time you had a home-cooked meal?"
"I - ah - well, I've eaten at the Vecchio home on several occasions."
"That's not soon enough then. You sit, I'll cook. I hope you like southern cooking."
"I'm not sure if I have ever experienced southern cuisine."
"Good, then you are in for a treat."
She started pulling down pots and pans and bowls and utensils. "I'm not the neatest cook in the world, but it's worth it in the end."
Fraser couldn't help but smile when she smeared flour from the chicken batter she was making across her forehead.
"Ray's going to love this. I'm making fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and biscuits. I cooked for the precinct once after we prosecuted a big case. He ate six pieces of my chicken! Do you think he will be here soon?"
Fraser nodded his head. She was working hard to suppress the fear she was feeling. Fraser could tell it was all a brilliant facade. The more time he spent with her, the more he liked her. * Enchanting.* That was the word he was looking for. She was enchanting. *No wonder Ray and the Leftenant were so protective of her.* "You sure are going to a lot of trouble." Fraser smiled.
"It's the least I can do for my bodyguards. I'm sorry you have to be put in this situation. Why have you been put in this situation? What's a Canadian Mountie doing in Chicago?"
"Well, I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killer of my father and for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have remained, attached as liaison with the Canadian Consulate."
They saw the headlights reflect off the kitchen wall. Ray had finally returned. He opened to door to smell a most delicious aroma. "Benny! Sara!"
"We're in the kitchen, Ray. I hope you're hungry."
"If you cooked it, I'm always hungry."
"Ray, you are such a charmer. Wash up. It's almost ready."
Ray gave Fraser a look. "I'll wash my hands and help set the table."
"I'll join you, Ray."
Ray and Fraser entered the dining room and started setting the table for the three of them. "What did you find out, Ray?"
"There were no prints and no witnesses. This guy's good, Benny. We really have to watch it. He hasn't checked in with his parole officer yet, and no one has seen him since his release. How's Sara holding up?"
" She's doing well. Too well. She's trying hard to act as if there's nothing to fear. But her eyes don't lie. She's scared and still hasn't come to terms with the danger she is in."
"All we can do is wait. I know he's going to try and find her, Benny. I can feel it."
Sara starting bringing in the serving bowls loaded with the feast she had prepared. Fraser had seated her at the head of the table so he and Ray could sit on either side. Once everything was in place, Sara looked at Ray, "Ray, will you say the blessing?"
"Grace. Say Grace over the meal, please."
"Oh, of course." Ray gave the traditional Vecchio prayer that his mother gave at every meal. Then he and Fraser began serving themselves large helpings of the food Sara had prepared. The conversation was light and steered away from Carver. The two men raved over the meal and complimented the cook several times during the meal, but both Fraser and Ray noticed that Sara had only picked at her plate. Sara began to take the dishes into the kitchen. Fraser helped and followed Sara. Sara had started to rinse the pots she used so they could be loaded into the dishwasher. Ray entered the kitchen carrying more than he should. A large bowl slipped from his hands and crashed into pieces on the floor. The sound made Sara jump. Before she realized what had happened she released a scream that shook the windows and the two men before her. She swung around as if she had been shot and threw herself into Fraser's chest.
"It's just a bowl. Everything's all right! You're okay, Sara. It's okay." Ray, was doing his best to calm her but he could tell she had began to cry by the heaving of her shoulders. Fraser held her tightly in his arms. He felt her trembling as she cried. Her nerves had finally won out.
"Benny, take Sara in the living room. I'll clean up."
Sara clung to Fraser like a scared child. She couldn't stop crying. She had tried so hard to push the tears down. She and Fraser sat on the sofa and he comforted her. She had her head buried in his chest and he gently stroked her hair. As she sobbed, he started telling her an Inuit story from his childhood. They both knew she couldn't comprehend his words, but the sound of his voice slowly eased her crying. Ray stepped into the doorway of the kitchen and looked out into the living and the two figures clutching each other on the sofa. * Damn it. She's too nice to have to go through all this.* Ray spoke quietly to Fraser. "It's almost 9:30. Do you want me to carry her up to bed?"
"You go on up, Ray. I'll sit here with her for a while longer." Ray smiled at him and barely whispered, "She's enchanting, isn't she?" Fraser just smiled and hugged her closer to him.
Sara woke up to find herself on the sofa. She wasn't quite sure how she got there. She was lying on her side curled in a ball with her head on Ben's thigh. He was sitting upright on the large sofa with his arm draped protectively over her shoulder. When she tried to move, he woke up. With a concerned look, he gently brushed the hair from her face. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm so sorry, Ben." She looked down as she sat up to face him. "I shouldn't have acted like such a lunatic."
"It's only natural. Don't apologize for anything. A catharsis is good for the soul."
"Where's Ray? What time is it?" She was still trying to clear the haze in her head.
"He's upstairs asleep. It's1:30 AM."
"Thank you for being here with me. I'm glad you're here. I hope this doesn't sound clichéd, but I feel like we've been friends forever and that you won't let anything happen to me."
"I won't let anything happen to you. I give you my word." Fraser felt a surge of heat run through his body as he looked into her green eyes. * She is so beautiful.* He would normally avoid any situation such as this, but there was something about her that brought down all his barriers. With her, he was totally at ease. She was so natural and open with herself and others; he couldn't help but care for her.
He wasn't like anyone she had ever met before. He was such a gentleman and he seem to genuinely care for her. * How could he? He doesn't even know you. He's just being nice because I'm a friend of Ray's and the Lieutenant. But he has such a kindness in his eyes. *
He inhaled sharply as she quickly hugged him; a long strong-armed hug that had feeling behind it. Before he realized what he had done, he wrapped his arms around her waist and slowly rubbed the small of her back. She pulled away slightly and whispered to him. "Thank you for your kindness, Ben. Thank you." He took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of her hair. She smelled of peaches.
She settled back on the sofa, leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling. He could sense that her mood had changed.
"Did Ray tell you about the Carver case?"
"Everything happened so quickly we have not had a chance to discuss the details of the case."
She sat up and turned sideways on the sofa facing Fraser. She looked directly in his eyes as she spoke. Her tone seemed detached.
"The police knew he was the killer of those women. But when they found him with the last girl, we didn't have enough evidence to link him to the other crimes. He chose his women deliberately. All the victims had long brown hair, under 5'6" tall and less than 140 pounds."
Absorbing all the facts, Fraser immediately knew that the description she just gave fit her perfectly.
"All the victims were members of the same health club. He stalked them from there. Most were taken in front of their homes. Two of his victims were taken from work. That's how the police finally caught him. He grabbed his last victim in the parking garage at her law firm. She managed to hit the panic button on her car alarm and the security guards trapped him. The others weren't as fortunate."
He noticed her eyes started to show her fear again. While she spoke she started to chew on her perfectly manicured nails. Fraser's gazed remained fixed on hers. Without even realizing it, he reached up and pulled her hand away from her mouth. His mind noticed she didn't pull her hand away from his. So as she continued reciting the facts of the case he absent-mindedly stroked the back of her hand with his thumb.
"They were kept for several days before he killed them. He tied their arms and taped their mouths. They had all been beaten pretty badly. The forensic reports stated that the rape occurred just before death. After he killed them, he took them to Grayson Park. Each nude victim was tied in the standing position to a tree. During the trial he just stared at me. The media even made note that I was in direct profile with his victims. Just after he was sentenced and they were removing him from the courtroom, he took two steps toward me. He looked me right in the eye and said, "I'll have you. You'll be the first one I take when I get out." Craig heard him and pulled me away from him and had him removed. I didn't sleep for a week after that. I knew he was in prison, but it was something about the way he said it. I knew he meant it."
Sara finally let her eyes break from Fraser's. She dropped her head as a tear rolled down her cheek. At that moment they both realized they were holding hands. A blush began to creep over Fraser's face. It quickly faded when Sara tightened her grip. She returned her eyes to his. "Ben, I'm scared."
"I know, Sara. But it's all right to be scared. Ray and I are here to protect you. We will guard you with our lives. You know that. It's late. Why don't I walk you up to your room?"
He didn't want to leave her side. He longed to just sit with her and touch her in any way he could. But, he could see the emotions of the day wearing on her face and something in him went into protection mode.
Sara rose to her feet. She still maintained a firm grip on his hand. His touch was a source of strength and comfort to her. That was exactly what she needed right now. Fraser and Sara walked slowly up the stairs to her bedroom door. Sara stood facing him. "You are a wonderful man, Benton Fraser."
He choked out a small laugh as he blushed. "You don't have to compliment me so I'll protect you, you know."
She couldn't help but smile brightly at the pink face in front of her. "I just say what I think, Ben. Get used to it."
They slowly released their hands and Sara turned and went into her bedroom. Ben quietly closed the door behind her and walked to his room.
Ben was the first one up. He and Dief were in the kitchen making a pot of coffee when Sara came down. "Good morning. How did you sleep?"
"I didn't. I don't know how I'm going to get anything done at work today."
Fraser gave Sara a confused look. "Sara, you aren't going to work today. You are staying here until the police can track down Carver."
She looked at him for a moment then turned and quickly went up stairs to Ray's room. She didn't bother knocking, she just opened the door.
"Ray!" Fortunately for him he had just pull his pants up.
"Hey! Can't you see I'm getting dressed here?! Don't you knock?"
"I'm going to work today. I've got two depositions scheduled for this morning and a meeting this afternoon."
Ray could tell she meant business. She sounded like Scarlet O'Hara. But he meant business as well.
"No. You are staying here with Benny. I'm going in to town to see if the Duck Boys have a line on Carver's whereabouts. Until we find him, you are staying here."
"I have to work, Ray. Craig is depending on me."
"Craig has already cleared your schedule." Ray grinned at her sarcastically. "You're not going to win this one Sara. I'm not backing down. You are safer here than anywhere else. You are staying here!"
"What am supposed to do all day?! Huh?! Sit around and fret by the windowsill?!"
*Fret?? She was mad. Who says 'fret'.*
"You're letting him win, Ray. This is what he wants; me scared and hiding."
Ray looked her coolly in the face. He hated to do it, but she needed to hear it.
"No, Sara. He wants you dead."
With that she lowered her eyes and went back down stairs.
*What a way to start the day. I've got to call the Lieutenant.* Ray had tossed and turned all night. He lay awake listening to Fraser and Sara talking. He hated the fear she felt. Hated the bastard that gave it to her. He was more determined than ever to get this guy. She looked so pitiful last night. She reminded him of a scared little girl cradled in Fraser's arms. He was glad Fraser seemed to be getting closer to Sara. Any other time, he may have been jealous of the handsome Mountie, but he noticed the way Benny looked and her and he had never seen him so at ease with a woman before. Ben needed someone like Sara, especially after Victoria. The mere thought of her made him curse under his breath. * Bitch.* Sara was everything Victoria was not. Sara was kind, compassionate, down-to-earth, honest, open and loving. If Benny was the least bit interested in Sara he was for it all the way. Sure he would have liked to have had a chance with her, but that was a long time ago and he could tell right away that she just wanted to be friends. You always knew where you stood with Sara.
Ray pulled on his shirt and started to look for his socks.
Once Sara reached the bottom of the stairs she realized what needed to be said. She turned and walked back to Ray's bedroom. This time she knocked quietly on the door. Ray walked over to the door, still in his bare feet.
In barely a whisper, Sara said, "I'm sorry, Ray. I know you are only trying to protect me. I shouldn't give you a hard time. It won't happen again. Whatever you need me to do, I'll do."
Ray gently placed his hands on either side of her face. "Benny and I are your friends Sara. We care about you. I know this guy scares you. He scares us, too. That's why we aren't taking any chances. I know this is hard for you. But don't give Benny and I another thought. We care about you, Sara. We want to protect you. It's not just our job."
"Thank you, Ray. I'm truly blessed to have friends like you."
Ray kissed her forehead. "Now, scram so I can get dressed. Go find out what Benny is cooking up in the kitchen."
Sara looked up at him and smiled. "All lot of men have tried to convince me they care, Ray Vecchio. I know you mean it when you say it. But, when Ben says it - I just can't believe him. I don't know him as well as I know you I guess. I thought he was just helping me because of you. But, when I'm with him he seems so genuine." Ray walked over to the bed and sat down to put on his socks. He looked at her intently, "Would that be a problem? Do you not want him to care?"
Sara could tell there was more behind the question than what Ray made it out to be. "I don't know. Look at him. He probably has every girl in Chicago throwing themselves at him. I think it just might be because I'm the so-called "damsel in distress". And he's just being the night in shining Red Serge. I've seen his type before and I was the one who ended up hurt. Once this is all over and Carver has been found everything will be back to normal and I'll just be plain ol' Sara from Rock Hill trying to make it in the Big City."
Ray couldn't help but laugh. "What's so funny?" He stood and placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her square in the eye. "Sara, two things. Number one-there is nothing plain about you. You are gorgeous and you have half the men of Chicago throwing themselves at your feet. For some reason you just seemed to ignore all of them. Number two-I've known Benny for a while now. He's my best friend in this world. He cares. There's been plenty of "damsels in distress" and he does his duty and moves on. You're right about one thing though. He does have half the women in Chicago throwing themselves at him. The difference is, he could care less. He normally runs like a scared rabbit when they come near him. But even I've noticed that with you it's different. I'll be honest with you. At first, I thought it was just that southern charm of yours. I've only seen him look at one other the woman the way he looks at you. She tore his heart out. Since then I've never seen him so relaxed around a woman before now. He cares, Sara. He cares."
"I guess we'll just see." Sara smiled at him and left his room to go downstairs. She entered the kitchen and saw Fraser standing over the stove. She had left in such a huff earlier that she hadn't noticed that he had showered and changed out of his uniform. He was wearing jeans and a gray Henley. When he turned to face her, she noticed the towel tucked into the front of his pants as a makeshift apron.
"Hello, again. Did you and Ray get everything worked out?"
"Yeah. Ray won, I lost. I'm staying here. What am I supposed to do in this big house all day while you and Ray are at work?"
"I'm not going to work today. I'm staying here with you." As he said it a wave of heat ran through her body. * Just me and Ben * "I hope that's acceptable."
Ray had finally finished dressing and went down to the kitchen.
"Ray, what would you like for breakfast?"
"Anything's great, Benny. I've got to get to work and see if Huey and Louie have come up with anything on Carver."
Sara took a seat at the bar and gave Ray her best pitiful look. "Ray?"
"Stop it, Sara. It ain't gonna work. You're staying here."
Without batting an eye she replied, "I just want a small favor. Please."
Ray rubbed his hand over the top of his head. "I don't like the sound of this. What is it?" She perked up and smiled at him.
"All I want is for you to go by my office and bring me some of my case files. I'll call Craig and tell him which ones I want. Oh, Thank you, Ray. I love ya, forever!" With that she jumped off the stool and gave him a quick hug around the stomach and quickly went up stairs to call Craig. Fraser's shoulders were heaving from trying to control his laughter. Ray stood there for a few seconds processing what had just happened.
"How does she do that." He turned in the direction of the stairs and screamed, "I didn't say I would do it, you know."
Five minutes later she called from the top of the stairs. "Ray, are you coming back here for lunch?"
"Craig will meet you out front of the office and give you my stuff. I'm going to hop in the shower. I'll be down in a minute. Thanks, Ray"
"Great." He mumbled. Fraser was busy cooking breakfast for the three of them. He couldn't help but smile at their exchange. Sara really knew how to charm. The best thing was that she didn't realize she was doing it. It was just her way.
"So, Fraser, what are you and Sara going to do all day?" Ray looked at Fraser with a sarcastic grin on his face.
Fraser gave him his best big-eyed Mountie look, "I'm not really sure. I imagine we will talk or play cards or perhaps a board game if one is available."
"What do you mean, "uh-huh?"
A broad smile spread across his lips, "I just hope you two won't get tired of each other's company - here all alone."
A blush crept over Fraser's face. He could feel his cheeks growing hot. His heart nearly skipped a beat at the thought of being alone with her.
"I assure you, Ray. Sara and I will be able to entertain one another."
"I bet you will."
"Oh come on, Benny. Admit it. She's not just someone we're babysitting on a case. You like her. More than you probably want to admit." Fraser's face felt even hotter than before. He rubbed his thumb over his eyebrow and opened his mouth to speak. He closed it again deciding it would be wise just to say nothing. Ray started laughing at his blushing friend.
"Oh, yeah. She's got you wrapped around her finger already."
Fraser quickly focused his attention on the task of making breakfast. Ray's laughter still filled the room. Then Ray said something that made Fraser realize what a good friend he had. "You know, Benny. I'm glad you like Sara. You deserve a girl like her. And she deserves a guy like you. But, you gotta let her know you like her first."
"Ray, I - she - we have just met. I'm not aware of her - ah - feelings. I'm sure she has plenty of suitors begging for her attentions."
"Come to think of it. I've never known Sara to have a boyfriend. I guess she's too busy with her career."
Ray could tell Fraser was about to die of embarrassment, so he decided to change the subject.
"I brought another cell phone with me last night. The number is taped to the side. Keep it with you. You call me immediately if you need anything. I should be back here around 1:00 for lunch.
"Hey, don't forget my case files." Both men turned to see Sara standing in the doorway. She had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and she wore faded jeans and a white t-shirt. Ben smiled when he noticed she was still barefoot. Dressed this way she looked much younger than she was. She had a young face anyway. Most people thought she was much younger than 29. Today was one of those days.
"I won't. I'll call Mr. Parker before I leave for lunch. Hopefully, Huey and Louie have found a line on Carver."
While Ray spoke, Fraser was setting plates in front of them. Ray looked down in shock at the feast that was before him. "Geez, Benny. What is all this?!"
"Eggs, bacon, hash browns, waffles, toast, orange juice and coffee. Is there anything else you want? I can make it for you."
"No. No, this is fine."
The three of them sat at the bar and ate breakfast. Both Ray and Ben noticed that Sara still picked at her food. She mainly drank orange juice and pushed her food around.
"Sara, is everything alright? I can make you something else."
"No, Ben. It's good. I was just thinking about home. I miss having grits for breakfast." Ben could tell it was more than that. Evidently fear had gripped her appetite as well.
"Grits?" Ray had heard of them but why would anyone want to eat anything called "grits". Ray made a face and Sara swatted his arm. "Don't knock it, 'til you try it, Big guy!" Ray laughed and Fraser smiled. She was spirited.
Ray left for work and Sara and Ben sat in the kitchen. "You need to eat, Sara."
"Not enough to amount to anything. I haven't seen you eat more than three bites of food in two and a half days. You're going to make yourself sick."
If it had been anyone else, especially a man, she would have told them to shut up and leave her alone. But there was something in his voice and tone that made her feel guilty. "I'm just not hungry."
"I know your nerves are on edge, but being dehydrated and under nourished will only make it worse."
"I know. I'll eat, I promise." She could see the concern in his eyes and felt horrible for it being there. She ate a piece of toast and most of her hash browns. "That's all I think I can keep down, Ben, honest. I've had a knot in my stomach since I heard he was paroled."
"Why don't we go for a walk? It may make you feel better. I'll get your coat."
Ray arrived at the station and went straight to Welsh's office. Before he had time to speak, Welsh asked, "How's our girl, detective?"
"She's scared and she's not eating like she should. But Fraser's looking after her. He won't let anything happen to her. Do we have any leads?"
"We do not. Why don't you see what you can do about that?"
Ray turned and left. He walked straight from the bullpen and out to the Riv. He was going to find this guy.
Ray called on every snitch he had. Nothing. He was tired, hungry and frustrated. He looked at his watch. 11:55. * Great. It's just about lunchtime. I better call Mr. Parker or Sara will have a fit. * Ray met Mr. Parker outside his office as he was leaving to go to lunch.
"Here's the files she asked for Detective. How's she doing?"
"She's scared. She had a bad night last night. Everything finally caught up with her. She cried for about two hours before she fell asleep. Fraser's with her now and I'm going out to the house for lunch."
"Give her my love. Let me know if she needs anything else. Do you have any leads yet?"
"Not yet. But we'll find him."
Neither Parker or Ray noticed the disguised man just around the corner. He grinned to himself.
*So you have my prize.* As Ray crossed the street to get in the Riv. Carver stepped into the car he had stolen earlier in the day. He knew Mr. Parker would lead him to Sara Montgomery.
Ray, Sara and Fraser had a nice lunch. Sara made a conscious effort to eat even though each bite made her more nauseous than the last. Once Ray left she sat quietly on the sofa.
"Are you all right?"
"I don't feel very well. I tried to eat, Ben. I really did. But now I feel horrible."
"Why don't you go upstairs and take a nap. Dief and I will be down here if you need us."
Carver watched as Ray pulled away from the house. He knew that she would not be alone, so he just waited for his chance. He would have her, no matter what. He could see one man and a dog walking around inside. There didn't seem to be anyone else with her.
He would have to get rid of the dog and then he would take care of the man.
Ben let Dief out the back door to attend to his business. Carver managed to slip around to the side of the house. There was a utility building near the back of the property. He managed to lure Dief in the door and quickly jumped out the window. Ben couldn't hear his barking from inside the house. * Now for the man.* He could tell he was a large man, but Carver didn't care. He would have her no matter what it took to get her.
Ben heard a noise outside. He walked over to the front door and stepped out onto the porch. Once on the porch he heard Dief barking from inside the utility building. As he rounded the corner of the house to let Dief out, he saw the shadow of a figure behind him and felt a sharp crack on the back of his head.
Carver looked at the unconscious man lying on the ground and laughed.
"You can't keep me from her. She's mine now."
He made his way through the house. Sara thought it was Ben stirring around in the hall. When she stepped outside her door, she didn't see anyone downstairs. When she turned to go back into her room she felt a hand slip over her mouth and an arm around her throat.
Carver spat the words at her. "Hello, Miss Montgomery. I promised you I would come. I never break a promise."
Tears streamed down her face as he drug her down the stairs. Then terror took over and she began to fight him with all her power. She managed to kick him and free her arm. She hit him hard in the stomach and leapt away from him. If she were going to die, she would die fighting. He grabbed her and hit her full in the face with his fist. She felt as if her eye would explode from the impact. She had to keep fighting. She fell back onto the floor and when he came at her again, she kicked him hard in the chest.
"Ben! Ben!" She screamed his name at the top of her lungs.
"He can't help you now. You're mine, not his."
She crawled across the floor, trying to stand. The blow she had just taken had left her disoriented. Carver lunged for her and grabbed her by the arm. As he spun her around she hit him in the face with her fist. He pushed her to the ground and struck her with such force she blacked out.
Carver drug her through the front door and put her in the back seat of the car. Just as he was pulling away, Fraser was starting to come to. He staggered to his feet. His head was pounding. He ran after her, but the car was too fast. He did make out the plates. RCW139. He had to save her. But first he had to call Ray.
The entire Chicago PD was put on alert. The description of the car and Carver went out within 10 minutes of Ray finding out Sara had been kidnapped. Ray found Ben sitting on the front steps of the house, Dief by his side. He didn't look so good. He probably had a concussion. Ray could see the tears in his eyes.
"It's my fault, Ray. It's all my fault." Ray had never seen Fraser this upset.
"Are you okay? Do you need to go to the hospital?" Ray looked Fraser's injuries over thoroughly. "I'm fine. We've got to find Sara."
The two drove into town like madmen. Ray disregarded every traffic law in effect and for once Fraser didn't chastise him for it. When they arrived at the precinct, everyone was already assembled in Welsh's office.
Craig Parker was livid.
"How could this have happened! She had police protection!"
As soon as Fraser entered the room, he turned his anger toward him.
"You were supposed to be protecting her. How could you let him take her?!" Fraser looked as if he had been slapped in the face. He started to speak but the words would not come. The tears were still evident in his eyes. Fraser knew it was his fault. He should have been able to stop Carver. Ray broke in and got in Mr. Parker's face.
"What I can tell is that Carver had been following you from day 1. He found out from you that I had her and then he followed me to the safe-house. Fraser did everything he could, so lay off!"
"Gentlemen!" Welsh's voice boomed over the yelling. "We are not here to point blame. We are here to find Sara and bring down the bastard that took her. Now let's get on it."
Sara came to in a dark room. She could tell she was in some type of warehouse. She could smell the damp and musty machinery and the pungent odor of fish. She was lying on the floor and her wrists were handcuffed around a pipe that ran along the wall. She was still disoriented and couldn't focus her eyes very well. She could taste the blood on her lip from where he had hit her. She could feel the metal of the handcuffs cutting through the flesh of her wrists. She could also tell that she was naked. * Dear God, what has he done to me? * She knew the monster Carver was, and she knew she probably would die. * Please God, help Ben and Ray find me. Lead them here. *
Carver came in to the room. Sara shivered with fear and cold. He looked at her and rubbed her cheek. "Now, my dear, you are mine." She knew from his file that he didn't kill his victims right away. But she wasn't sure how long she had been there. She closed her eyes and removed herself from her emotions. Barely above a whisper she prayed.
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
Disgusted at her lack of fear for him he grabbed her by the throat. "Your God can't help you now." Pushing her head against the wall, he turned and left. She was in darkness once again.
It had been 16 hours since Sara was taken and they had gotten nowhere. Ray and Fraser had been out on the streets and monitoring the radios all night. Neither was ready to give up on Sara. Each silently prayed she was still alive.
"We just got a call from someone who saw a car matching Carver's near the docks at the fish processing plant."
"Hot, Damn! Get Vecchio on the radio now!"
Ray was doing 95 through the streets of Chicago. Fraser was holding on to the dash and praying they would find her alive.
They were the first on the scene. Ray drew his gun and motioned for Fraser to go around back.
"You look for Sara. I'll find Carver."
Fraser made his way along the wall of the warehouse. He went from room to room, opening every door with a silent prayer for her safety. He found a small maintenance closet that was locked. He started kicking in the door. He knew she was there. He just knew.
Carver heard the pounding of the door. He grabbed his gun and made his way to Sara.
Ray was working his way through the front of the building.
Fraser finally managed to kick the door in. He could barely make out the form of someone huddling in the corner. He ran to her. Once his eyes adjusted he could see her beaten face and bloody wrists. *My God, she's naked.*
Ray yelled through the doorway. "Fraser!"
"She's here, Ray. She's alive."
Ray stood beside the two crouching figures with his gun still ready.
"Ray, I need your hand cuff keys and your coat."
Without hesitation Ray quickly pulled off his trench coat and handed it to Fraser.
"The keys are in the pocket. Sara, we're here, honey. You're going to be fine."
Ray thought she spoke back to him but couldn't make out the words. "What is she saying?"
"She's been reciting the 23rd Psalm since I found her. She's in shock. I'm not sure if she even knows we are here."
Fraser draped Ray's coat around her. Before he had time to unlock the handcuffs he heard a gun shot. Ray screamed, "Look out!"
Fraser jumped to his feet and tackled Carver to the ground knocking the gun from his hand. Carver quickly jumped to his feet and pulled a knife from his pocket. "She's mine." He swiped the knife toward Fraser slicing his forearm. Fraser fell backwards to the ground. Carver jumped on top of him. Just as Carver drew back to stab Fraser, there was another gunshot. Welsh stood at the door. Powder still smoked from the barrel of his gun. Carver fell forward to the ground.
"You all right, Constable?" Pushing Carver away from him, Fraser sprang to his feet.
"Ray's been shot, Sir."
"An ambulance is on his way. What about Sara?"
Fraser unlocked the handcuffs and pulled her arms through the sleeves of Ray's coat. He pulled her to her feet. She was still reciting her prayer when he placed his hands on her shoulders and softly said her name.
"Sara. Sara. You are safe now. We found you, Sara. He's dead. Come back to me, Sara." He rubbed her hair and cheeks as he said her name.
She slowly began to hear a voice breaking through her barrier of defense. The more he spoke the more she became coherent. She stopped her prayer and began to cry.
Fraser lifted her into his arms and carried her from the building to the awaiting ambulance. Welsh was standing by one ambulance waiting for news on Ray.
The EMT leaned out the back and screamed at whomever would listen, "It's just a shoulder wound. He's going to be fine. The bullet went through." He slammed the door and they left for the hospital.
One EMT cleaned and dressed Ben's arm where Carver had stabbed him. Ben held Sara's hand with the other. Tears were streaming down her face. She still hadn't spoken.
Ray was out of surgery and in recovery. Welsh was by his side. He had expected to see Fraser there but he knew he was with Sara.
"Is she okay, Sir?"
"They just came in with their report. She's been beaten pretty bad, but other than that she's fine."
"Did Carver - "
"No. He didn't touch her like that. We found her in time."
Continued in Southern Comfort
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