Authors: Teri Thackston
Before Emma could react, Paul raised a hand and struck her
face. Pain slammed through her head and her knees buckled.
Scooping her up in his arms, Paul covered the last few steps
to the edge. He swung one leg over the wall. Through a haze of pain, Emma saw
stars spin overhead. Suddenly, she heard what sounded like a cry on the wind
and something prickled across her scalp. Her forehead went numb. An opaque
shadow crossed her face, blurring the stars and the silhouette of the man who
held her. She heard him gasp as he pushed off. She felt his body fall, felt her
own follow, felt the jerk as a pair of hands grabbed her shoulders and plucked
her out of his grasp.
Jason’s face loomed between Emma and the stars. She felt his
arms surround her, smelled his warmth and passed out.
* * * * *
“You should have told me what was going on.” Arms clasped
behind him, Charlie paced near the open ambulance door.
Marta stood nearby, annoyance sparking in her eyes. “You
that you suspected Sanders was a killer.”
Emma winced as a paramedic cleaned the scrape on her cheek.
He’d already bandaged the cuts on her knees and given her an ice pack for her
Sitting beside her in the rear of the vehicle, Jason held
her hand. His support and the breeze off Trinity Bay soothed her. It was over.
Paul was dead. His body lay in a cooler room drawer, waiting for someone’s
But not Emma’s attention. She’d pass this post mortem to
someone else. She didn’t want Paul’s spirit to tell her what had happened in
his last seconds—didn’t want to hear why he’d screamed in terror as he fell to
his death—because she already knew. Layne’s spirit had attacked one last time.
“That’s it, Dr. St. Clair.” The paramedic stepped back. “Just
keep that clean and dry. You still might want to go to the hospital and get
“Thank you. I’ll be fine.” As the man shrugged and moved
away, Emma leaned into Jason and sighed. He pressed a kiss against her hair.
A wide grin split Charlie’s face as he looked from Jason to
Emma. “I knew the beautiful doctor would be the woman for you.”
Jason hugged her against his side. “Sorry, buddy, you get no
credit for this.”
“I think I’ll take credit, just the same.” Charlie looked at
Emma. “You did not trust him in the beginning, did you? You thought he had been
with too many women.”
Emma nodded. “Yes, I did.”
Marta relaxed more slowly. “But now you do trust him.”
“Yes, I do,” she said, leaning into him.
“And you.” Charlie looked back at Jason. “You did not think
you were ready to settle down.”
“You get no credit for this,” Jason repeated and Charlie
“All of you have some explaining to do,” Edgar grumbled as
two paramedics rolled his gurney to the rear of the ambulance. “In my office,
first thing tomorrow.”
Emma looked at the bandages swathing Edgar’s head and nose. “We’ll
explain later,” she said, although she had no intention of telling him the
truth, either. “You’re spending a couple of days in the hospital.”
“I can’t. I have a meeting with the county administrator
“You may have a concussion.” With Jason’s help, Emma stood.
Her body ached from being hauled around by Paul and she told herself she should
make an appointment for a checkup in the morning. “Doctor’s orders. You will rest
for a few days.”
Edgar frowned. “We’ll discuss this tomorrow.”
“In your hospital room,” Emma said. “At ten o’clock.”
“I’ll be there too,” Jason said.
“And I,” Charlie added.
“Count me in,” Marta chirped. “I don’t want to miss this.”
Edgar winced as his frown tugged at the bandage covering a
gash above his right eye. “Just be on time. All of you!”
Emma and Jason stood back with Charlie and Marta as the
paramedics loaded Edgar into the ambulance and closed the doors. Moments later,
the boxy vehicle headed out, siren wailing.
Charlie turned to Jason and Emma. “It isn’t easy to believe
that Dr. Sanders killed so many people.”
Jason held Emma closer. “I saw him try to kill Emma tonight.
He would have succeeded if I’d been a second later.”
“I still don’t understand why you insisted we come straight
here,” Charlie said. “Instead of waiting for the crime scene guys to finish
collecting evidence at Layne Simmon’s scene.”
Emma knew why. Jason had wanted to make sure that she was
the medical examiner who worked on Layne’s body, because Layne’s spirit might provide
information to help them prove Sanders had killed her.
“I just had a hunch, I guess,” Jason said, squeezing Emma’s
Nodding slowly, Charlie turned toward Marta. “Ms. Zamora,
may I escort you to your car? We can discuss how we’re going to deal with these
“Certainly, Detective Garcia.” Marta gave Emma a curious
look and then, eyes sparkling, she slipped her arm through Charlie’s. “How is
“As beautiful as ever. And my son, you would not believe how
he has grown!”
As Charlie and Marta ambled away, Emma leaned her head
against Jason’s shoulder. “Too bad we can’t tell them everything that happened,”
“They wouldn’t believe us anyway.” Jason’s grip tightened. “When
I drove up and saw you… If I’d been a second later—”
She cut him off with another kiss and then drew back with a
smile. “You got there just in time. You’re my hero, Jason.”
“You’re the hero. If you couldn’t do what you do—”
“I didn’t volunteer for the job, you know.” Looking up, she
searched the glittering stars. “This was an assignment.”
Jason followed her gaze. For a moment, neither spoke as they
watched the night sky. Emma felt a peaceful sense that she was exactly where
she was meant to be and doing what she was meant to do.
“Promise me one thing,” he quietly said. “Don’t do this kind
of thing alone again, okay? I love you, Emma. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Oh, Jason. I love you too.”
Leaning down, he pressed his lips to hers and she thought
the world was just perfect.
Raising his head at last, Jason turned her toward his car. “Let’s
Emma leaned her head on his shoulder again. “I am home.”
“So am I, sweetheart.” Jason held her more tightly. “So am
Teri Thackston started making up stories in grade school,
deciding she might have a future as a writer when she completed her first book
at age eleven. That book, a blatant rip-off of the TV spy spoof “Get Smart”,
never left the house…fortunately for all. But many of Teri’s short stories did
leave home and found life in national magazines, and her books have won
Proud to be a native Texan, she lives in Houston with her
own personal hero husband, her two amazing sons and two dogs who think she
should take her fingers off the keyboard and pet them every time she sits down
Teri welcomes comments from readers. You can find her
website and email address on her author bio page at www.ellorascave.com.
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