The sirens broke the silence of the night as they sped to their destination. The dispatcher had told the driver that an anonymous caller had contacted 911 to report a young woman found lying in the green behind the club house at the country club. Attempts by someone to revive her had been unsuccessful so he had called 911 but hadn't left his name.
The harried dispatcher had passed the call along to both the ambulance company and the fire department. The fire fighters arrived first and one of them, by the name of Jeffrey had gone to the young woman lying battered and bruised in a dress near the sand trap. He knelt beside her, gently brushing the strands of dark hair out of her oval face and saw more bruising. After a precursory exam, he looked behind him at the other paramedic, Bob.
"Get the police out here," he said, "Someone beat up this woman."
He gently searched her to see if he could locate any ID but he couldn't find a wallet or a purse on her. Robbery perhaps, but if so what had this young woman been doing out on the greens late at night? Her breathing appeared ragged and he suspected cracked or broken ribs…maybe a lung injury. Bob joined him soon enough so they began to examine her for injuries just as the wailing ambulance pulled up not far from them.
An EMT joined them.
Jeffrey looked up at him.
"Some guy found her but didn't stick around," he said, "She's been beaten up, severe bruising maybe an orbital fracture…her ribs need an x-ray but I don't like the sound of her breathing."
Jeffrey shook his head.
"No but could still happen," he said, "We'd better transport her as soon as we can…I'll ride with her okay?"
"We've got a full crew tonight," he said, "She got a name?"
"Of course she does but if you're asking about ID, I couldn't find any."
"Oh great...well leave that to the police to deal with then," Bob said, "Hopefully they'll figure it out."
Jeffrey nodded, stroking more hair off of her face.
"Do you want the police to meet you at the hospital?"
Jeffrey sighed still looking at the unconscious woman.
"Yeah…I don't know her condition or what help she's going to be but a crime definitely happened."
Bob looked at them both and shook his head.
"Quiet little town where everyone feels safe…until something like this happens."
Jeffrey couldn't argue with that as he prepared to load the woman without a name into the ambulance.
Lucky and Lacey sat in front of her store, eating takeout that he had picked up from the diner, where Melissa had been put in a double shift. They had settled for fried chicken with fixings, wedges of roasted potatoes and apple pie.
"So you're off tonight," she said, "Not like you to have any free time."
"I worked double shifts last weekend," he said, "Carl's getting married and is saving up cash for the honeymoon."
Melissa sipped some of the beer he'd brought as well.
"So where are he and Laverne going anyway?"
"Hawaii…nice change from here he said, like paradise."
"Can't argue with that," she said, "I flew there once for a conference. Kept us pretty busy but we did explore Maui. You ever been there?"
"No…just did some time in Honolulu in between assignments, I'd like to go back."
Melissa leaned backward looking up at the sky which had lit up with the usual crop of stars, dimmed somewhat by the street lights but still too many to count.
"So how long you really sticking around this time?"
Lucky paused, sipping his own beer out of the bottle.
"I don't know. I'm thinking about staying in town for awhile…earn some money."
"So you can go traveling again?"
She shook her head at him.
"You've never been one to stick around long," she said, "This town's not the same without you."
"I'm not planning on going anywhere for a while," he said, "Been great reconnecting with family…even though my dad and I don't see eye to eye on much…and friends."
"You mean like Elena?"
Lucky blinked at her.
"Yeah…it's been great seeing her again," he said, "She's been keeping herself very busy."
Lacey arched a brow.
"As opposed to getting into trouble," she said, "Elena's always been a nice girl…with lousy parents."
Lucky narrowed his brows.
"You knew her father…I thought he took off before you arrived."
Lacey shook her head.
"No never met the guy," she said, "but my dad took off when I was a kid myself so I know what it's like."
"There were times I wish my father had done that but I realize now how lucky I was to have him," he said, "even though nothing I do satisfies him."
"That's just because he loves you and wants you to be happy…and to him that means being a success like him."
Lucky knew all about what would make his father happy. His son taking over the family business, getting married to someone from their circle and producing the next generation of his family and in case he forgot that. His father reminded him any chance that they caught up with each other.
"So what's going on between the two of you?"
"You mean with my father?"
She shook her head.
"I mean Elena…you two have been spending a lot of time together lately."
"Just as friends having fun," he said, "we did that concert the other night."
"I enjoyed having her work here with me. She's helped enormously with inventory but I worry about her."
"Me too….she's been hanging out with Royal."
"Oh you mean Lynette's latest flavor."
"She's been assigned by the courts to work with him at the community center," he said, "but she's been seeing him."
Lacey reached for her beer.
"That bothers you? I mean besides the fact that Royal's already stringing Lynette along to get at her family's money?"
"I care about Elena," Lucky said, "She's my friend."
"I care about her too but she's a grown woman who can take care of herself and make her own choices."
Lucky leaned back against the steps and Lacey smiled over at him.
"Look I know you feel like you should be doing something but you know Elena, she'll just push back. She bristles sometimes when I ask her questions about her life."
"I wish she knew better than to hang around with him."
Lacey narrowed her eyes.
"Knew better…so you're the expert on her life now…good luck with telling her that…"
"That's not what I meant," Lucky said, "I'm just afraid that if she doesn't leave him, she'll get hurt that's all."
"What if she doesn't want to do that," Lacey said, "Come on, you might have to face the reality that she's really into him."
Lucky sighed, taking another sip from his bottle.
"If she is, then what do you think is going to happen when Lynette finds out," he said, "and she forces Royal to make a choice between Elena and her?"
"You're assuming that she doesn't know about them already and that's not a given either."
Lucky just continued sipping his beer and Lacey could tell how much he didn't like it but it was Elena's life after all. The choices on what to do with it rested in her hands and no one else's.
The ambulance neared the hospital speeding through a red light. The paramedic worked on the unconscious woman while Jeff assisted him.
"Her vitals are strong including her BP and pulse," Jeff said, "Hopefully there's no internal bleeding."
"We won't know until a doctor looks at her for sure," the paramedic said, "I don't like her coloring."
"The police…they'll want a statement."
The paramedic sighed as he worked on the IV.
"They won't be getting it from her…not for a while."
Jeffrey reached out to stroke her still face with his fingers, mindful of the bruising. Someone had done a number on her but who? They still didn't even have an ID on her, well maybe the police could help with that.
Lynette looked up from the dining room table where she sat with her wine and dinner. Across from her was a neatly arranged place setting but an empty chair.
"What are you doing here so late," she said, "I had to start without you."
Royal ran his hand through his hair.
"I had to do some errands…I ran late with a repair at the center and then I had to stop by the hardware store to pick up some items."
She arched her brows as she nibbled at a piece of sirloin.
He hesitated, and caught a glance at one of his hands, which bore a scratch.
"Oh nothing important…."
She nodded and then her eyes narrowed suddenly as she looked at him more closely.
"What happened to your neck?"
His hand reached their without thinking.
"Oh that, some brambles when I was outside at the center. Nothing major."
She appeared to accept it and he sat at the empty place setting across from her, watching her and every once in a while she'd glance up at him, her expression unreadable.