The seconds that followed ticked away in slow motion. The realization of what had just happened seemed to sink in deeper with every second. We broke apart, both falling to the ground, the gun rolling to the ground. Fitz picked it up and hid it in his coat. The others glanced at Adam, thinking he was the one shot. Adam touched his tummy and then it hit him.
“Emily!” He shouted and charged towards me. Karen rushed to me.
“Emily, are you okay?”
I opened my mouth to speak and I felt tears drop on my face. Panic struck Karen’s face as she examined me. She covered my hands with hers and she felt the wetness. She looked up at a distraught Fitz.
“Emily is bleeding.” He got on his knees beside me to examine the wound. He turned me over and lifted my blouse. He sighed.
“There’s an exit wound. Thank God.”
“I’m so sorry, Emily,” Adam said, tears falling on his cheeks. I tried to give him a reassuring smile but found myself whimpering.
“Let’s rush her to the hospital,” Tony said.
“There’s a bullet wound. They will ask questions. The police will be called in.”
“We’ll give them a story. It’s yours, right? We can say some sort of domestic accident,” Karen said. I held on to Karen’s wrist tightly and she gave me a worried look.
“Can we please make up our minds where we are taking her? We can rehearse our story in the car,” Karen pleaded. Fitz grabbed Adam by the collar and shook him violently.
“What were you thinking?!”
“I’m sorry; I only wanted to disarm her!”
“This isn’t the time! You can beat the hell out of him after Em has been seen to. Tony, could you please?”
“Sure; she came here for me,” he said and picked me up gently. My blouse was really soaked now. And someway somehow, I wasn’t feeling the pain too much. My body must be in shock just as my brain was. As Tony took me away, I saw Fitz push Adam so hard that he staggered backwards. I closed my eyes and groaned.
“Put her in my car,” Fitz said as he followed us. Karen opened the back door and sat inside. Tony placed me inside and Karen put my head on her laps.
“Put pressure on the wound,” Fitz said as he sat in the driver’s seat.
“Give Emily’s key to the two riff-raffs to follow us,” Fitz said hastily. She took it out of my bag and threw it to Tony. Fitz took off.
“Where are we going?”
“I need to call my doctor. Maybe he could fix this with a hush-hush.”
“You mean the same doctor who pronounced Em dead the first time?” Karen asked.
“Yep; the very one.”
“Hell no; we’re not taking her to him. Do you want to go to him?” Karen asked, looking down at me.
“If he can stitch me up without any complications,” I said with much difficulty.
“She means no. That brute took her away from me the first time and I won’t give him the sequel pleasure of doing so a second time.”
“I’m sorry we don’t have a choice, Karen. Let me call him.” He took his phone.
“Hello, doctor. I have a situation.”
“Are you okay?” Karen whispered.
“I feel cold.” She glanced at my bleeding side for a second and looked back at me.
“We’re almost there. Stay with me, okay?” I nodded.
Fitz put his phone down.
“How’s she doing?”
“Hanging in there.”
“Good; you’re going to be fine, okay baby? Keep her awake, Karen.”
“I am.” I tugged at her sleeve. She looked at me.
“Get me my baby.”
“I’ll go get Karen for you, honey. Let’s get you out of danger first.”
I swallowed and tried to breathe. Flashes of my time during my ‘final’ moments at the theatre flashed in my mind. I remembered the dread I felt at the time and the same sensation was washing over me. I wasn’t ready to die again. For real this time. My baby was too young to remember me if I leave her life so soon. I had to live for her.
“We’re almost there, honey. Hang in there,” I heard Fitz say. I nodded.
“Hope you’re keeping pressure on the wound, Karen.”
“I am. I can’t believe I’ve to see my best friend at the brink of death twice and have her blood on my hands both times. Do you know how traumatizing that is, Fitz?”
“I’m sorry but it seems that’s the cross you have to carry for being her friend.”
“This is happening all because of you!”
“Excuse me?” Fitz said, attempting to look back at her.
“Hey don’t look at me, look on the road! I won’t let you kill us both this time.”
Fitz shook his head and said no more. He suddenly hit hard at the brakes and I almost fell off the seat and the pain I was feeling intensified.
“Sorry dear; some silly driver tried to be smart.”
“I’m not planning on hearing that awful pronouncement today, Mr. Daniels. Don’t make it a possibility.”
“You’re a pain in the neck, you know that?”
“Haha…ironically, that’s just where I’m positioned; right behind your neck.”
“We’ll be there soon.”
I felt Karen shaking me.
“Stay with me, Em.” This girl would not grant me a peaceful death even if I wished it.
“You have nine lives, Em. You’re not going to leave us again.”
“I’m not a cat,” I struggled to say which made her chuckle.
“Good to know the sassy Emily is in there; don’t give up, okay? Your hubby is a terrible driver.” I forced a smile and licked my lips.
“We’re almost there, Emily.”
“Okay.” I felt myself slipping away.
“There they are!” Adam pointed to Fitz’s car on the hospital parking lot. Tony parked the car and they both rushed out to meet them.
“How’s she?” Tony asked as Emily was being placed on the gurney. She was rushed inside.
“Just pray she survives this,” Fitz said to Adam; his eyes red in fierce fury. He stormed off to see his ‘doctor friend.’
“This is entirely my fault. If I have kept my mouth shut…”
“Let’s just pray she pulls out of this. We’ll talk about that later,” Karen said and entered. The two guys followed with heavy steps.
The three friends looked on helplessly as Fitz paced to and fro the hallway. No one could speak a word to console him; everyone was buried in his own deep thoughts and fears. Karen had been in this situation before; an experience she did not want to revisit. Fitz seemed genuinely upset; he definitely wasn’t planning anything sinister like the last time or so she hoped.
They all stood when the doctor approached Fitz and spoke to him in hushed tones. Karen could hear her heartbeat in her ears. When he was done, the doctor glanced over at Karen and gave her a nod. Here we are again, she thought unhappily.
Fitz turned to face them when the doctor walked away.
“She lost a lot of blood. Emily isn’t doing good, guys.” Karen couldn’t hold the tears any longer. She broke into sobs as she turned to the masculine chest next to her. Tony held her.
“She’ll be fine. She has to be.” Adam sat down and buried his face in his palms. Fitz felt sorry for him. He knew he meant no harm; it just happened. But he couldn’t help feeling furious at him for being responsible for putting his wife in harm’s way. Emily, don’t leave me; don’t leave your baby. Don’t leave us all, he prayed inwardly. He felt a stream of tears on his cheek and he wiped it away. Not for real this time.
Karen went in to see Emily when she was taken out of the theatre to a private room.
She held her hand and cried.
“Please wake up, Emily. It’s not time to leave us yet. Your baby is expecting you home. Your parents have no idea you are even here. Let’s not report bad news to them again. Emily, please!”
When she had calmed down a bit, she said, “I knew about you and James. I knew he liked you. But if you did, you never let it show. You didn’t take him away from me like you did the first time ages ago.” She chuckled.
“You’ve been a great friend, wild and crazy but my best friend nonetheless. You have a long way ahead of you, Emily. I want to see you become the phenomenal woman I know you to be. I want us to grow old together and talk and laugh about the crazy things we did together. Please don’t let me bury you twice. I almost lost it the first time; I don’t think I can recover if it happens again. Emily, if you can hear me, please fight for your baby. Fight for your husband. Fight for me. Don’t give in to the pain. Don’t give up on us all. Adam will never forgive himself if you do. He’ll be a wreck for sure and I know you love him too much for him to end up like that. So please, wake up.”
I could feel Karen’s presence. I could hear her words faintly as if from faraway. I wish I could hold her and wipe her tears away. I wish I could tell her everything would be okay. I wasn’t going to give up till I was back with them. And even if I didn’t make it, they would be fine. They would move on…just like the first time. If only I could let her know I could hear her.
Trapped in oblivion, flashes of my life played back to me. I’ve had an interesting life no doubt. Some silly choices but typically me anyways. I wished I could hold my baby in my arms just one more time…
Do I make it out or not?
I’ll let you know when I wake up. Would you miss me if I didn’t?