Morgan suddenly popped open her eyes. It paid to be alert and ready at all
times when you were in prison, and now that she was out, it wasn’t any
The man sitting in the chair directly in front of her simply stared, not saying
a word. He didn’t move, but continued to look back at her. A quick glance
around the room told her a couple of things. She was in a hospital room, not a
cubical in the emergency room. And she was in a private room, and it was a
really nice room at that.
Morgan rolled to her back and moaned at the pain that shot through her
body. She closed her eyes against the onslaught of agony that raced to every
nerve in her. She wondered vaguely if there was a single muscle that didn’t hurt
“You have a deep concussion to the left side of your head, just above your
ear. I had to put in seventeen stitches to close it up. X-rays show no brain
swelling, but we’ll check it again in the morning with another one to be sure. You
have two broken ribs, as I’m sure you felt when you rolled over like that,”
Damon Grant said. She looked back over at him.
Morgan didn’t say anything. What was there to say? He’d put the stitches in
so he was a doctor; he dressed much too nice to be a nurse. She didn’t need to
ask him what had happened, or who’d done it. She knew the answer to both of
those questions too.
Moving her right hand over her abdomen, she felt her money missing, and
that they had not catheterized her. It took her two tries to talk. Her throat and
mouth felt Sahara dry. “Money?” She was in one of those less than modest
hospital gowns so figured someone had seen it and taken it. Hopefully someone
“One of my brothers has it. He has a safe in his office; he put it in there for
you. As soon as you’re released, he’ll bring it back to you.” She nodded at him.
Morgan moved her hands to her lap and touched the needle on the back of
her hand without letting him see what she was doing. She pulled it out gently
and then, using the tape from the site, bent the tubing and taped it closed. Next,
she moved her hand along the bed rail to find the controls to the bed.
Morgan’s head was spinning, and making out the arrows and other icons on
the thing made her a little lightheaded. She pushed one of the buttons and nearly
screamed out loud when it stretched her out by lowering her flat. Quickly
pushing another button had her rising up. She glanced over at him and noticed
that while he was still sitting in the chair, he had now moved to a more alert
position by sitting on the edge of the seat.
“You may not want to go too far up. You’re pretty beat up. And with the
broken ribs, it’ll be painful.”
It already was, she wanted to scream at him, but bit her lip to keep quiet. She
had to stop once; fear of passing out from the shear intensity of pain had her
taking in deep breaths until she could move again. When she was as far upright
as she could physically stand, she stopped moving. It was another minute or two
before she felt she could move on to the next phase of her plan.
Gingerly moving her feet to the side of the bed, she rolled and pushed
herself into a sitting position in one movement. Stars danced behind her lids as
she sat there, her back now to the man. He didn’t say anything, but she heard his
hiss of breath, then the deep chuckle. He had to see the other marks she was sure
“There’s a deep contusion on your left thigh that should keep you from
standing, but at this point, I’d say it won’t stop you from trying. It has a perfect
print of a boot, so I’m guessing that someone kicked you there. The police took
pictures. It’s gonna hurt like hell when you get up. I say when because you are
just stubborn enough to pull is off. So ... if you stand up without falling over, I’ll
kiss you. Damn, but you are one stubborn broad.”
Morgan could hear the humor lacing his words. She wasn’t out to prove
anything to anyone. And if he came toward her with the intentions of kissing
her, she’d make him regret that for many months to come.
Moving closer to the edge, she moved her right leg to the floor. It was tricky
as the side rail to the bed was up and she seemed to be about seventy feet off the
floor. When her toes touched the tile, she nearly cried with relief. Grasping the
rail, she slowly moved her other leg down to be with its mate. She stood with all
her weight on her right leg until she could get the pain under some sort of
control and slowly, very slowly, began bearing weight on her left foot.
At first it didn’t seem all that bad, and then, suddenly, pain shot from her
toes to her hip like a knife stabbing the entire length. She bit her lower lip until
she tasted blood. Dizzy now, she held onto the rail in a white-knuckle grip until
she could breathe again. She opened her eyes and the man stood in front of her,
concern written all over his face. She’d never heard him move.
“Let me help you back into bed, Ms. Becky, before the pain overwhelms
you.” When he reached out to touch her, she jerked back in terror. Her whimper
had nothing to do with the pain this time, but the fear of the man. He must have
realized it and took a hasty step back.
“Don’t touch me. I ... I don’t know you. You need to back ... move away.
Please.” He took another step back and folded his arms over his massive chest.
But he didn’t stop watching at her.
Each step was an agonizing, mind numbing haze of pain. Putting most of her
slight weight on the bed, she moved to the end, then across the foot to the top again. She had seen the little closet and was now making her way to it, praying
that she’d make it without the support of the bed to hold her up. Concentrating
on one step at a time, she leaned heavily on the door when she finally made it.
Opening it up, and sobbing with untold happiness at finding her things there,
she gathered them into her arm and, holding on to herself, moved to the
Even though she knew it would feel wonderful, Morgan didn’t sit on the
commode. She didn’t because she was terrified she’d not be able to get up again.
Crying openly now that she was alone, she began the chore of getting first
undressed then dressed again.
Taking off the gown, she nearly did sit. The bruises were horrific and many.
She knew that some of them had happened today when Big Martha had attacked
her, but some had happened when…well, she needed to get away from here
before he came back and finished the job. She pulled her bloodied shirt from the
pile of clothes and her bra. There was a little blood on it, but it was all she had.
She put it on; luckily, the hook was in the front.
Morgan heard the man on the other side of the door talking. She couldn’t
hear what he was saying and, frankly, didn’t really care. She’d be gone soon
enough, and if they thought she was paying for this room, well, she couldn’t
The loose-fitting pants—who was she kidding? Everything she owned fit her
like it was too big—felt good and hardly rubbed the bruise at all. Her shoes were
a problem, but she only slipped them on without even attempting to tie them.
She could only brush her hair and let it hang long down her back. As soon as she
could find some scissors, the shit was coming off. After brushing her teeth, she
felt more human. She opened the door quietly and moved out into the room.
The doctor was sitting in the same chair as before. This time, however, he
was positioned in front of the door. Well, fuck, so much for a clean get away.
“Move. You can’t keep me here. I know my rights.”
Morgan put as much hardness in her voice as she could, but all this moving
and the pain had exhausted her. She was dizzier now than she had been, her leg
was throbbing like a tooth ache, and she was pretty sure she was going to be
“Actually, I can, as you see. I can’t let you leave, Morgan. Not like this.
You’re eyes are glazed over with pain, you can barely walk without help, and
you have nowhere to go. My mom will be here in a few seconds, as will my
brothers. So pop a squat and we’ll wait for the family to show up.” He leaned his
head back against the chair and grinned at her. Arrogant ass.
“This says I don’t wait. Now move or one of us is going back to prison, and
the other, the morgue.” She watched as his eyes widened at the sight of the gun
she was holding in her hand.