Red-Line: Trust Destiny (Volume 3)

By J. T. Bishop

Sci-Fi, Romance, Thriller

Paperback, eBook

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5 mins


     Four hours later, Ramsey emerged from the office looking worn and tired, as if his sleep had only added to the weight on his shoulders.
     Hannah looked up as she was speaking on the phone. She’d been helping Declan follow up with those out on the street searching for Sarah. As people called in, she noted their progress and then sent them to wherever Declan indicated next. Declan and Leroy were sitting in the kitchen, looking over maps of potential new areas to search.
     Hannah hung up the phone as Ramsey walked to the table.
     “Any news?” he asked. His sunken, unshaven cheeks and puffy eyes portrayed his weariness and worry.
     “Nothing new,” she said, and watched him deflate. “When’s the last time you ate a solid meal?”
     “I’m not hungry.” He stood by the couch. “What can I do?”
     She told him what he didn’t want to hear. “You can go take a shower and get something to eat.”
     “I can shower and eat later. Where’s the next search area?” He searched for his keys, preparing to leave the moment Hannah answered him.
     “We’ve got plenty of people looking, Ramsey. You need to rest.”
     Ramsey’s fragile nerves stretched thin. “Dammit, Hannah. I don’t need to rest. I’ve rested enough. I can’t just sit here. I have to go out and look for her.”
     “You’re not going to do her any good if you collapse while you look. You have to keep up your strength.”
     He continued to look for his keys. “Forget it. I’ll head out my own.”
     Leroy and Declan came out of the kitchen at the sound of Ramsey’s voice. “Sherlock?” asked Leroy.
     “What, Leroy?”
     “You need to take it easy. You’re pushing yourself too hard.”
     Ramsey’s last reserves snapped. “Will you all stop telling me what to do? While I’m here resting, Sarah’s out there dealing with who the hell knows what. I’ll rest when she’s back here safe.” He searched the room without success. “Where the hell are my keys?”
     “John,” said Declan.
     “What, Declan?” Ramsey retorted as he swiped at some papers.
     Watching his brother dig through a pile of discarded maps, Declan stilled himself and tried to project some measure of calm toward Ramsey.
     “Stop doing that,” said Ramsey, feeling the wave of energy hit him. “I don’t want or need your interference.”
     Declan remained passive. “John,” he said. “She’s going to be okay.”
     Ramsey’s head whipped back at him. “How the hell do you know that? You don’t know where she is or what she’s going through. God knows what he’s doing to her.”
     Declan didn’t let Ramsey’s outburst stop him. “She’s going to be okay.”
     Ramsey stopped for a second, but his manic energy wouldn’t still. “You can’t be sure of that. If she fights him or refuses to comply, he could hurt her.”
     Declan kept up his affirmation, knowing that Ramsey needed to believe in something. “She’s going to be okay.”
     Finally, Declan’s words seemed to pierce through the wall of fear that Ramsey had erected. He stood as if he carried a hundred pounds of weight around his neck. His frantic, searching gaze managed to stop long enough to find and hold Declan’s.
     “You don’t know that,” he said.
     Declan didn’t hesitate. “Yes. Yes, I do. I feel it in my bones.”
     Ramsey studied him, feeling for any indication that Declan might be lying, but he couldn’t find it. Feeling some small amount of weight shift, but not disappear, he felt his fatigue hit him, and with quivering legs, he found the armrest and lowered himself down onto the couch. Releasing a deep breath, he found himself shaking, and he clasped his hands together to keep them still.
     “Sherlock,” asked Leroy, “you okay?”
     Ramsey didn’t answer. He took in lungfuls of air as his body continued to quake and his vision spun. He leaned forward and closed his eyes against the dizziness.
     Hannah was up and sat next to him on the couch. “Hey, what’s wrong?” she asked. She reached for his arm and felt his cold and clammy skin.
     “I don’t know,” he answered. “I can’t seem to get enough oxygen.” His breathing picked up, and he turned pale. Another wave of dizziness hit him, and he closed his eyes.
     Declan and Leroy kneeled beside him. “Take it easy,” said Declan.
     “I think you’re having an anxiety attack,” said Hannah. She looked at Leroy. “Leroy, do you have a paper bag?”
     Leroy stood, headed into the kitchen, and returned with a brown paper lunch bag. He handed it to Hannah.
     She took it and opened it. “Breathe into this,” she told Ramsey.
     He did as she asked, breathing shallowly at first, but then deeper, and his breathing began to slow.
     “Feeling better?” asked Hannah.
     Ramsey managed to open his eyes and saw three concerned faces looking at him. “A little,” he said into the bag.
     “Take your time. Are you dizzy?” she asked.
     “It should pass in a minute or two. Just keep breathing.” She kept watch over Ramsey and tried to lighten the moment. “You’re lucky I’m a nurse.” She patted his hand. “You’d have never made it this far.”
     Ramsey’s breathing slowly returned to normal and he lifted the bag from his face. “Me and Sarah both,” he added. He was still pale. Despite his cool skin, beads of sweat popped out on his forehead.
     “I know you’re not hungry,” said Hannah, “but something in your stomach would help. You need fluids, too.”
     He rested the bag in his lap. “I’m fine.”
     “You look terrible,” said Leroy, studying Ramsey’s haggard face. “If Sarah walked in here right now, she’d give you an earful for not taking better care of yourself.”
     Ramsey stared over at his friend. “God, I wish she would.” He dropped his head. His vision slowly began to clear, and he blinked his eyes. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if…” He took a deep breath.
     “Stop thinking like that,” said Declan. “I know it’s easy to think the worst and your imagination is running wild, but you have to remember something. He’s not going to hurt her. He wants you to suffer, but not her. Even if she refuses to do what he wants, he won’t harm her. But what he will do is hold her until he drives you stark raving mad, which I suspect is a big part of his plan.”
     “Well,” said Ramsey, finally feeling his dizziness lift. “It’s working.”
     “So don’t give him the satisfaction of falling apart,” said Declan. “You do what you need to do to find her, but you have to take care of yourself in the process. You keep going like this, and you won’t last long enough to enjoy it when we bring her back.”
     “And I don’t want her yelling at me for not taking care of you while she was gone,” said Leroy.
     “I’ve seen her temper,” said Declan. “Nobody wants her angry.”
     Ramsey allowed himself a brief smile. “No,” he said. “Nobody wants that.”
     “Olivia made some soup,” said Leroy. “Think you could handle some?”
     Ramsey sighed and sat back on the couch. He knew they were right. No matter how much he wanted to spend all his waking moments searching for Sarah, he couldn’t neglect his body for too long without consequences. “Okay,” he said, finally giving in, “I’ll try some soup.”
     “Good,” said Leroy, heading into the kitchen. “I’ll bring you some water, too.”
     Hannah kept an eye on Ramsey. The phone rang, and she rose to answer it. “You stay where you are,” she told him. She picked up the phone and followed up with another searcher calling in to report his progress.
     Declan continued to monitor his stepbrother, and when his earlier frantic energy did not return, he sensed that Ramsey had achieved some measure of acceptance. He hoped that meant Ramsey would be a little easier to handle. He began to rise from his kneeling position.
     Declan stopped in mid-crouch. “What?”
     “You meant it, didn’t you?”
     Declan sank back down and put a hand on Ramsey’s shoulder. “Yes, I did. She’ll be okay. I wouldn’t lie to you. “
     Ramsey said nothing, but Declan watched his lost look return. “Hey,” he said. “If you eat all your soup and take a shower, I’ll give you my piece of Olivia’s chocolate cake.”
     Ramsey’s lost look faded. “You don’t eat chocolate cake.”
     “I know, but Leroy does.”
     “You’re taking your life into your hands.”
     “I’m willing to do it if it will help you feel better.”
     “That must be one hell of a piece of cake.”
     Leroy walked into the room, holding a bowl of soup and carrying a tray table. “Anybody touches that last piece of cake, they’ll pull back a stump.”
Declan chuckled, and Ramsey couldn’t help but allow himself a short-lived smile.



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