Liam eyes me and I quickly tell him, “I’m perfectly fine.”
He doesn’t look convinced, but says, “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”
Once we’re alone, the doctor pulls out her stethoscope and checks my heart, then listens to my lungs and takes my temperature. “Liam tells me you’re having blackouts.”
“For six years off and on. There are triggers I’m aware of and acupuncture helps.”
“Describe the blackouts.”
“It’s more flashbacks to a terrible time in my life. I see spots and get pressure in my head and then everything just goes black.”
“I went years without any at all, but now...a couple a day.”
She whistles. “That’s not good, especially if you think you’re pregnant. It limits our testing abilities and medications.”
“I’ve had MRIs and CAT scans. They showed nothing.”
“How long ago?”
“That’s too long ago.” She purses her lips. “You said they went away and came back?”
“Yes. A stress trigger set me off again. Really. I know what is wrong. I just...I need to know if I’m pregnant and if the blackouts can hurt the baby.”
“What was the diagnosis?”
“I don’t know. The doctors just tried to shove drugs down my throat.”
“Did you try medications?”
“No, and I won’t.”
Because I can’t risk my thinking process being impaired, but instead I say, “I just won’t.”
She reaches in her bag and pulls out a blood drawing kit. “Let’s take blood and run a full panel, as well as a pregnancy test.”
“I need to know about the baby now.”
Digging in her bag, she produces a little plastic cup and hands it to me. “Fill it and I have a strip test for immediate results. Let me do the blood draw first. It’s Friday and I want to get them to the lab so we have them back on Monday.”
Lab. My name. “No. No test results. No lab.”
“Nothing is done in your name,” she says, reading my worries. “Discretion all the way.”
Reluctantly, I stretch my arm out and she wraps a rubber tube around it. “Have you seen a counselor?” she asks, readying the syringe. “In cases of post traumatic syndrome, which I suspect is what you’re dealing with, talking to someone and dealing with whatever happened to you can be helpful.” She glances at my arm. “Ready?”
I nod and she pokes my vein. “I’ll think about it,” I promise, and it’s not a lie. I plan to talk to whoever I have to, to get at the truth, just not a counselor who could be put in danger with me.
A few minutes later, Dr. Murphy does her strip test.
“Well?” I prod, and I’m actually wringing my hands together, I’m so on edge.
Dr. Murphy doesn’t make me wait. “It’s positive.”
My hands go to the arms of the chair and I clutch the leather in a death grip. I pretty much half-hear everything else she says. Something about the nausea passing in another couple of weeks. She’s going to get me vitamins and she is all for acupuncture and more of that counseling she’d suggested. She’ll call with the blood work. She squeezes my leg. “I live next door. If you need an ear or a friend--”
“Thank you. I...thank you.”
She gives me a worried look and seems to want to say more but thinks better of it, gathering her things and leaving. I stare out at the water without really seeing it. Instead I am back on the porch with my brother as he says, You can’t handle the truth. If tonight told me anything, it’s that. I think of the fight between my parents I’d overheard. Then the fight between my mother and a stranger I’d overhead. And then, the man in the sedan. There were things happening right before my eyes and I hadn’t seen them. Or I’d ignored them. And now they are dead and I can’t bring them back. This baby will be here before I blink and this danger can’t still exist when it does. Doing nothing is what I’ve done for six years. I can’t do nothing now. And I can’t stay in the very place where my handler might have died warning me to leave.
I dart to my feet and sprint across the room toward the door, rushing down the stairs and pausing in the foyer at the sound of Liam and Dr. Murphy murmuring words I cannot hear at the bottom level. Emotions are racing through me like an electric charge and I can’t stand still. I pass through the archway and enter the living area and sit down on the arm of a chair, the water to my back. I stand back up. I sit down.
Liam appears under the arches and all that emotion in me balls in my chest at the sight he makes, tall and commanding, with an easy grace and power that he wears like a second skin. This is the father of my child.
I rush toward him and grab his arms, his hard muscles flexing beneath my palm. “I was told to leave New York. We have to leave New York. We have to go anywhere but here. And then I need answers. I have to make this end. I have to.”
“We, Amy. You aren’t alone anymore, and who told you to leave, Amy?”
“The same person who saved my life six years ago.”
“Which is who?”
“I don’t know.”
His lips tighten. “Come sit down and talk to me.” He hauls me with him to the front of the chair and sits me down, squatting down in front of me. “Tell me about this stranger and why you trust this person.”