Sarah, Returned--Chapter 36 (A Steemit Original Novel)

in #fiction4 years ago (edited)

I was inches, maybe centimeters, from being smashed to a pulp against the stones. If Matt hadn’t said something, or if I’d been too far away or too lost in my thoughts to hear him….I have no words. Like, literally, no words come from my mouth when I try to ask who did it. Who wanted to hurt me so much they were willing to run me over in broad daylight? I want to know. I just can’t say it. 

Also, I can’t stop shaking. Why is that? Will I ever stop shaking, or is this my life now, just one shaking mess? I want to tell Matt I’m sorry, tell him I love him, promise to go to the psych ward or wherever else he wants me to go. Whatever he wants, I’ll give it to him. He saved my life. Why won’t the words come? 

“I think she may be in shock,” Matt calls down to someone I can’t see. 

“Here,” the unfamiliar voice calls back, and a blanket suddenly appears on the ground in front of me, where Matt cleared a space. “Wrap this around her, lay her down, and get her to look you in the eye. Make sure she keeps looking, while you talk to her. Once she’s able to talk, she’ll be fine. We’ll take care of things down here.” 

“And if she still can’t talk by the time you’re done?” 

“We’ll take her to the hospital and get her a shot of tranquilizer. It will fix her right up. She’ll be just fine, Mr. Morgan.” 

Matt does as the disembodied voice says, and soon, I am on my back in the grass, snug and warm in a dusty gray blanket, Matt sitting cross-legged beside me, gazing into my eyes. The blanket is probably filthy, but it feels good. Maybe I’ll stop shaking after all. 

I wonder if the owners of this house are home. It seems they would have noticed the commotion in their yard and come out by now if they were. Or, maybe they are out here with us, and I just haven’t noticed yet. It’s hard for me to notice much right now, except Matt’s concerned face, and the wonderful fact that the shaking is starting to ease up. I guess I won’t shake my way through the soil and be the first to find out if the earth is really hollow, after all. That’s okay. 

“Everything’s all right, Sarah,” Matt murmurs softly to me, like Grandma used to when I was a kid and wasn’t feeling well. “The police captured the bad guy. He won’t be able to hurt you now. They’re on the sidewalk, trying to get a motive out of him. They may ask you if you know why he would want to hurt you, but you don’t have to worry about that now. Just focus on me, you and me alone here in the hedges, where no one can ever hurt us again. Nowhere is safer than right here, right now, Sarah.” 

That’s true. The police have whoever it is, and I’m safe with Matt. In the end, he put our differences aside to do what he could to save me. My life was worth more to him than anything else, even being right. That’s worth something. 

I would still be safer with Joshua. He wouldn’t kill the man himself, being a Quaker and all, but he would find someone who would. Sending the perpetrator to jail would be too risky to him. He’d make sure there was no chance the man would ever bother me again. 

Man. Matt distinctly said “him” several times. That means it wasn’t Karen, after all. It’s almost disappointing. I so wanted to see the bitch get some comeuppance. I guess she is just a manipulative shrew. Damn. 

Well, if it’s a man, who is it? I can’t think of any men who would want to hurt me. 

“Who?” I open my mouth to make the sound, and it feels like I’m controlling my body from somewhere far away. The one word comes out all squeaky, like I’ve just been in a dust storm and need a drink of water. 

“Carter,” Matt says, stroking my hair, pushing the tendrils off my forehead. 

Carter?  Carter? What the….?  

And, just like that, I’m back in my body and fully myself once more. I push the blanket down and struggle to prop myself up on my elbows, intending to use the leverage to get into a standing position. Matt puts his hands around the backs of my shoulders and helps me sit upright. 

“Carter?” I demand, not quite sure if I believe it. Why on earth would Carter, of all people, want to kill me? Our relationship has been nothing but warm and affectionate, if a bit distant. We both said we didn’t want to get too serious yet, and I’ve only been gone a month from his perspective. He can’t think I was cheating on him; we’re not even officially exclusive, though it’s kind of been an unsaid thing. And, he tried to hurt me before I disappeared, by tampering with my car’s brakes. What could his reason possibly be? 

“It’s definitely him,” Matt says, nodding. “I saw the police drag him out of the car. And, it was his car, Sarah. I recognized it before the cops even got here, when I saw it barreling toward you on the sidewalk. The police were right behind me on Central, though I didn’t know it at the time. They saw the whole thing, too.” 

“But, why?” The question comes out a little more plaintive than I intend, but it’s a hell of a confusing situation. 

“Do you feel like asking him?” 

“Oh, you bet I do,” I seethe, shock turning to fury in an instant. I scramble to get my feet out of the blanket and stand up, aching to march down there and ask that little twerp what his problem is. Matt once again comes to my rescue by picking me up off the ground, and gracefully sets me back on my feet. 

“Are you sure you’re feeling up to it? You were shaking so hard before.” He’s concerned, I can tell, and I would be, too, if the positions were reversed. But, any shock I had at nearly being squished is long gone, replaced with a heaping of curiosity and a mountain of anger. 

“I’m fine,” I assure him with extreme firmness. “Let me to talk to my so-called boyfriend.” That last word came out with the perfect amount of dripping sarcasm. Ha! Boyfriend, my ass. If I was the type to use air quotes, they would have been all over that word. 

With Matt backing me up, I walk down the steps on the side of the yard to the sidewalk and around the corner to face Carter McKee. It’s time to get to the bottom of all this once and for all. 

The two middle aged, male police officers on the scene are just cuffing Carter and sticking him in the back of their squad car as I march up to them, hands on my hips, my expression menacing. 

“Ms. Morgan,” the shorter of the officers exclaims as I arrive, surprise written all over his face. “Are you all right? Are you sure you should be standing up right now?” 

“Maybe you should go home and lie down,” the other one suggests. “You won’t need the protection at your house anymore. You’re safe now. Get some rest, and we’ll have you come down to make a statement later.” 

“I’m fine,” I insist. “If it’s possible, I would like to speak with Mr. McKee.” 

I make sure my tone brooks no argument. One thing about Dover, it’s small enough that most everyone knows or has heard of everyone else, and the memory of my grandmother still looms large here. Neither officer looks like they want to risk offending her in the spirit world by naysaying her granddaughter. 

“By all means, if you’re up to it,” the taller one says, backing away and extending a hand toward Carter. “We’re right here if you need us.” 

“Matt,” I call over the top of the car, where he has his cell phone in his hand, talking to someone. That was quick. My back was turned for what, a minute? I thought he was still right behind me. Eh, he’s probably calling Jacob to let him know what’s going on. 

“Yes?” He covers the speaker on the phone and lifts his head up to see what I want. 

“Can you come over here, please? I want you to be a witness to this conversation.” 

“Sure. One second.” He says something indecipherable into the phone, turning his head just slightly so I can’t try to read his lips. Conversation finished, he disconnects the call and comes to me, where I’m standing by the corner of the car’s trunk. 

“I just want to make sure he can’t change his story later, assuming he tells me the truth now,” I tell him. “If you hear whatever he has to say, that’s his word against both of ours, if it comes to it.” 

“Got it. Sorry about the call. I just wanted to let someone know they were off the hook as a suspect.” 

“Jacob?” 

“Yeah.” He pauses just a bit too long before replying, which is kind of odd. It’s almost like he wanted to say something else. Oh well. If it’s important, I’m sure I’ll find out about it, if I stay in this century long enough. 

I walk around the corner of the car to the open back door, where Carter is still sitting, hands firmly cuffed behind his back. He looks uncomfortable. Good. 

I stand there with my hands still on my hips, glaring at him, hoping he will take the initiative and start talking. He owes me at least that consideration. However, after a moment of awkward silence, where he only scowls at me, it is clear he’s not going to break the ice. 

“Do you have anything to say to me?” I demand, louder than I intended, as impatience pulls the words from my mouth. 

“No,” he mumbles, still staring daggers at me. Yeah, he definitely wanted me dead, and is disappointed that he didn’t get the chance to make it happen. Well, too bad. He tried three times and failed at each one. Three strikes and you’re out, Carter. 

“Oh, come on,” I say, the sarcasm so sharp I’m surprised my voice isn’t putting scratches in the paint job on the police car. “You went to all this trouble to off me, and you’re not even going to tell me why? It’s obvious you tried to run me over, so we can assume it was also you who tried to cut the brakes on my car, and attempted to break into my house last night. Why, Carter? We had a nice thing going between us. Why would you want to do it? What could I have possibly ever done to you to make you hate me this much?” 

His green eyes practically glow red, and his upper lip curls into a hateful sneer. “You didn’t love me.” There is some pointed accusation in that tone. 

Okay, now I’m even more confused.  

“Excuse me, what?” I demand, my voice going up into that involuntary screech that happens when I’m especially exasperated. “Love you? Carter, we only went out for four months before I took off. I liked you. A lot. Given time, it very well may have turned into love. We were in a good place. It was certainly possible. And, yes, I’m aware other couples fall in love sooner than that, sometimes at first sight. But, we were purposefully keeping it casual. It’s what we both agreed we wanted. How could there be love in that type of relationship?” 

“Please,” he spits, bitter about something I can't identify. “You were never going to love me, even if we dated for years. I’m not stupid, Sarah. I could tell you didn’t have a deep well of feeling available for me.” 

“You never gave me a chance! Carter, you never even said you wanted to take our relationship to the next level. I had no idea. We could have discussed it.” 

Of all the stupid reasons for wanting to kill someone. If Matt wants someone to take in for a psychiatric hold, I think he needs to start looking at the guy in the handcuffs. 

“I gave you hints,” he grumbles, hate filling every word. “Bought you little gifts, remembered our four month anniversary with that special dinner out at The Library in Portsmouth, put extra romance into the relationship. I called you every night to say goodnight when you weren’t staying over at my apartment. You were clueless. You didn’t pick up on a single thing, never reciprocated, and never treated me as anything other than a casual boyfriend.” 

“And so you wanted to kill me because you failed to communicate your desire for a change in status?” I shout at him, incredulous. “I was open to it, Carter, but you said from the beginning that you wanted it to be casual. You were the one who told me on our first date that you weren’t looking for anything serious yet. Excuse me for not being able to read minds.” 

“You didn’t even call me when you were gone for a whole month,” he says, sullen, and he looks down at the floor of the car. “You could have called. It shows how much you didn’t care.” 

Okay, he’s got me on that one, but it’s still no reason to try to kill a person. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t call,” I say, and it’s genuine. It seems so long ago, but I do remember thinking about calling him that night, when I was hiding in the thicket on top of Garrison Hill. Would it have made a difference if I did? “Are you in love with me, Carter? Or were you?” 

“No,” he admits, still looking at the floor. 

“Then, why was it so important for me to love you?” 

I know the answer as soon as I ask the question. 

“Because, then you would marry me, and I could have access to your share of your grandmother’s fortune. If that wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t want you to have it, either.” 

I slap my hand to my forehead. This is crazy. He dated me for four months in the hopes I would marry him and he would become rich by association? He’s not even from Dover. I didn’t tell him about my inheritance until about two months into our relationship. Good lord, it’s not just this town. All of southern New Hampshire is ridiculously small. I guess a fortune like Elizabeth Morgan’s is a story that gets told for miles around. 

Like Karen with Matt, Carter had me targeted for a lifetime of wealth from the beginning. ________________________________________________________________   

Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here:   

Chapter One 

Chapter Two 

Chapter Three 

Chapter Four 

Chapter Five 

Chapter Six 

Chapter Seven 

Chapter Eight 

Chapter Nine 

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven 

Chapter Twelve 

Chapter Thirteen 

Chapter Fourteen 

Chapter Fifteen 

Chapter Sixteen 

Chapter Seventeen 

Chapter Eighteen 

Chapter Nineteen 

Chapter Twenty 

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two 

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

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