“Get in the car, Sue!” Emilie yelled.
Before she could move, a loud shot issued from the gun. Emilie screamed as she watched her friend collapse into the car.
Leo pressed his foot against the accelerator and backed out as shots broke the windshield. He drove out of the neighborhood as quickly as possible, and Emilie climbed into the backseat of the car and took napkins placing them upon her friend’s shoulder where she was shot.
“Are we in one of my stories or is this a dream?” asked Susan smiling up at Emilie.
Emilie managed a faint smile back, but she was worried for her friend. Her sister and brother in law and newborn nephew already were hurt and now her friend. Emilie felt a deep ache in her heart and swallowed the lump in her throat.
“You’ll be alright. Don’t worry, Sue,” she fought back the tears. “We just need to get you to a hospital, and you can rest.”
Susan closed her eyes briefly. “Stay with me, Sue. You know why?” Susan opened her eyes. “You have a little brother. We have to make chocolate peanut butter balls again. We have to go see that new movie, Hidalgo. We have to write a story together. You have to read my story when it’s published. And I have to finish reading the one you’re writing. You can’t go yet. It’s not your time.”
Leo pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and opened the door to the back of the car and lifted Emilie’s friend into his arms. They immediately rushed into the emergency room where a group of nurses pulled out a stretcher for Susan.
“If you’re not family, I can’t let you go in,” one of them said to Emilie as they wheeled the stretcher through two double sliding doors.
“But I’m her friend!” Emilie protested, but Leo took her hand and held her back.
The tears came. Leo felt the close arms wrapped around her neck, and he circled her waist with his arms drawing her close into his embrace. He lifted one hand up to rustle Emilie’s hair as she cried into his neck.
“This is all my fault,” she blamed herself.
“No, it’s not. It’s their fault, Emilie. Susan will be all right. She’s strong.”
Despite Leo’s confidence, Emilie still felt a pang of dread and sorrow. All she could do now was wait and pray.
“There she is. Just…look,” a tear rolled down Emilie’s cheek as she gazed at her friend in silence.
“I know,” he replied softly. “But she’s alive.”
Susan had gone through a quick and delicate surgery to retrieve the bullet. It nearly pierced her heart but did not pierce the pericardium. She was moved to intensive care where her heart was constantly monitored. She was sedated and sleeping now but with oxygen pouring through her nose and different wires plugged into her arms.
“Heather and Andy will be ok, too, but Emilie..I do have some bad news,” Legolas answered taking her hand.
“That’s all I’ve had today,” she rubbed her temples. “Tell me.”
He took a deep breath in and let it out again. “Emilie, Dorian didn’t make it.”
She had already run dry of tears and simply clung to Legolas again wrapping her arms around his ribs.
“I’m sorry. He was a good dog.”
“We cared for him, Leo. We brought him back to health. He swam with us all the way back to the shore. He was more than just a good dog. We need to go. We need to get out of here. Leave America right away. We have to get to Valinor where we’ll be safe.”
“No matter what, I will make them pay.”
She cursed under her breath and began walking toward the exit door to the stairs. Leo followed after her careful not to say anything else that might upset her.
“I’ll drive the car,” he answered as they walked out into the parking lot.
“I need to get some sleep,” she answered climbing into the car and fastening her seatbelt.
“Of course you do. You were only asleep for a couple of hours. Don’t worry. I can drive.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Sleep,” Leo said just as Arwen had within the Two Towers.
Emilie closed her eyes Leo’s voice drifting within her ears. She did not mind. Leo had a beautiful voice, and she never tired of hearing it. Emilie drifted off to sleep hoping she could solve this mystery without killing either two of them. Her head, however, was filled with wondering nightmares.
Emilie awoke as she felt Leo’s hand shaking her softly. He leaned over to her side and whispered in her ear.
“We’re here, sleeping beauty.”
Emilie opened her eyes and stretched.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked.
Emilie shook her head and motioned to the outside opening her car door. She was glad it was now daylight. Even though the dark did not frighten her, there had been no stars and only a fingernail of moon glowing within the sky. There was some form of treachery within the sky for there had been clouds every single day she had first come into contact with the wraiths. Morgoth and Sauron both detested light especially starlight. Varda’s realm was one place they feared the most even more than Eru’s Emilie knew. Emilie looked up at the sun and bathed in the warm rays. Leo took her hand.
“Come on,” he said.
Emilie followed Leo into the airport. It was not that big considering Emilie used to live in Chicago and O’hare was certainly one of the largest airports in the world. Emilie had flown many times and had no problem securing tickets as she showed the travel agents her id. The only trouble they had was with Leo since he had left his id within the car. Emilie offered up a `thank you’ to whoever created computers. Leo had flown with this same airline before, and they could easily look him up in the computer.
After they had secured tickets for New York (since Emilie had family living there), the couple walked to the nearby Starbucks and ordered to frappuccinos. Emilie drank the non-coffee malt frappuccino since she detested anything with even a slight trace of those black grinds. After all of her sleeping, swimming, and walking, she could use a caffinated drink. She knew she would kill anyone who came within a foot of her if she did not have her caffeine. She tried to take her mind off of things by talking about something else. They discussed a few normal things about what they would do when they entered London where their flight was headed.
“What if they continue follow us?” Leo questioned further. “We don’t even know how to get where we’re going.”
“I think we should book a flight for Australia. We should go from there,” replied Emilie.
“You mean go to Valinor?”
“But you don’t even know how to get there?”
“Varda left me with this before I left,” Emilie pushed back her hair revealing the star swan necklace connected by a silver chain. “If I call for her, she will come.”
“Why haven’t you?”
“Varda said I would have another task to complete, but she could not help me with my task. If necessary, she would help me in returning to Middle Earth or Valinor, but you and I must fulfill this own task by ourselves. Hopefully it wont get you killed like before,” Emilie sighed placing one of her hands on her head.
“Don’t worry,” he grinned. “As you say, I can kill a fly with an arrow a mile away. I am invincible.”
“Not compared to the Nazgul. Sorry pretty elf boy,” Emilie giggled. “You do have a pretty face, and I’m sure it could compete for….”
“Finish that sentence, and you will wish you were dead,” Leo smiled and took her hand bringing it to his lips. “We should get to our gate. They’ll be calling our flight soon.”
“Yes, we should.”
Emilie and Leo departed from Starbucks and made their way to the gates after a hassle through security. Poor Leo was frisked by a security guard.
“I told you not to wear a belt or carry keys,” she laughed as she stood by watching him spread his legs.
Emilie had never been frisked in her life and most likely never would. Emilie never wore earrings since her ears were too sensitive for that. She hardly ever wore belts and never carried loose change in her pockets. Emilie laughed as Leo finally finished putting his shoes back on. She handed him his backpack.
“Lets take the train next time,” he suggested.
“Come on, elf boy,” she grinned slipping an arm around his.
When they reached the gates, their flight was already calling numbers. Emilie boarded the plane and finally felt at ease as she slipped into the comfortable leather seats of first class. Emilie sighed and ordered a hot cocoa once the plane had ascended into the air.
“You’ve never taken first class have you?” Leo asked as he watched her look out the window.
“No,” she answered. “We never had enough money for that so we always flew in the normal seats.”
“Well, this will be nice for you then.”
“Yes,” Emilie replied taking a sip of her hot cocoa.
Suddenly, the plane rushed through some turbulence. Emilie tensed and instantly spilled her cocoa, but she ignored the burning pain upon her legs as the announcer came on the plane radio to speak.
“We appear to be passing through some rough turbulence, and there seems to be a slight situation on the plane, but we shall have it resolved soon.”
Why didn’t Emilie believe him? She then saw why and lowered herself further into the seat closing her eyes tightly and grasping Leo’s hand strongly so much so that it pained him. He turned and saw what she was looking at as well. She had feared it when they had boarded. They had been deceived. They had walked clean into a trap.
“They are here,” Emilie whispered clutching his hand tighter.