Chapter 9

Moonlight streamed through the opening of the navy blue curtains. The light was dim, but somehow, it managed to fall perfectly across Ellen's sleeping face. Because he was such a light sleeper, Matt woke up and saw what nature had illuminated for him. Warmth and love enveloped him and Matt knew that he had never been so happy before.

Shifting slightly, Matt was careful not to wake Ellen as he glanced at the bedside clock. The red display told him that the midnight hour was close at hand. Groaning inwardly, he settled down again. He had an early day tomorrow, but at that moment, he wanted nothing more than to watch his beloved sleep. Soon, he reminded himself, pulling her within the circle of his arms again. Very soon.

Matt's eyes drifted closed and no sooner than slumber had claimed him, his beeper went off. The insistent buzzing of his pager woke Matt up and caused him to grumpily reach for the offending device. Clamping his hand over the pager, he effectively turned it off. Pressing the button on the side to turn the light on, Matt saw his care was needed immediately. "Damn!" he grumbled as he extricated himself from the warmth of Ellen's nude form.

"What is it?" Ellen sleepily mumbled as Matt pulled on his boxer shorts and slid into his wheelchair.

"Emergency at the hospital," he told her. He reached out and tenderly brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "It's okay. You can go back to sleep."

"No," Ellen said as Matt rolled away from her and went inside the bathroom. She flipped on the bedside lamp and then swung her feet to the floor. After pulling on Matt's robe, she followed him inside the bathroom. She watched as he prepared to take a shower. Reaching for her toothbrush and the tube of toothpaste, she said, "I want to go, too."

"Ellen, why?" he asked, pausing to look at her. "Just go back to bed. I can handle it. Really, I can."

"I know that you can," Ellen said after rinsing the toothpaste from her mouth. "I just have a feeling... I don't know, but I feel like I should go with you. Humor me, okay?"

He nodded. "Okay."

~*~

Nervously, Lucky ran his hands through his hair. He had pushed the thought of facing Elizabeth to the farthest recesses of his mind. He had known the time would come, but he hadn't been quite ready to face it. Instead, he'd rather lose himself in the woman who had captured his heart. Thinking of Dawn, he couldn't help but smile and suddenly feel at ease. Taking a deep breath, he turned towards Elizabeth and said, "You have every right to be upset."

"Thanks," she said quietly. "I wasn't sure if I was entitled. Thank you for clearing that up for me."

Lucky nodded; he deserved that. He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. His gaze followed her as she kept her back to him and moved slowly around Dawn's living room. She was collecting her thoughts and her words. Silently, Lucky agreed to give her all the time she needed.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard the news," Elizabeth told him. "I never would have imagined that you'd be alive and not come to me...not tell me. You could have at least told me, Lucky."

"I wanted to," he explained, "but you had moved on. I didn't want to mess that up for you."

Shaking her head, she released a snort of disbelief. "Please. That may work for some, but it doesn't work for me. You should have told me! Do you realize how I grieved for you? How I believed that it was my fault because of those stupid candles? Do you even care how I felt when I heard that you had died?"

Lucky swallowed hard. Her pain and anguish was never what he had intended for her. He wished that he could take it all away, but there was nothing that he could do. It was too late. He had made the decision to keep himself hidden, and he realized that if given the opportunity to do it differently, he wouldn't. Coming back to the land of the living wasn't everything that it was cracked up to be, except for one reason: he and Dawn had found each other. For the feelings that she evoked inside of him, he'd give up anything-

"You're not even listening to me, are you?" Elizabeth accused. "I'm not surprised-"

"Elizabeth, please!" Lucky called as Elizabeth grabbed her coat and purse and headed for the door. "Don't leave. I was listening, but I was thinking, too...about what you said and some other stuff. I'm sorry that you thought you were responsible for what happened. The candles were a sweet gift and a beautiful gesture. You shouldn't have believed that they caused the fire."

Elizabeth opened her mouth to speak, but Lucky shook his head to silence her. He gestured for her to sit. He sat down beside her on the sofa and once they were settled, slowly, he continued on.

"I know how you grieved for me. Faison showed me. He had video cameras set up all over the place and he enjoyed showing me the tapes...watching my reaction. I saw the pain that my death put you and everyone else through. I'd scream and try to fight my way out, but I was powerless. There was nothing I could do. I was trapped."

"Why did he take you? Where did he keep you? How did you get away?" Elizabeth's questions burst out of her. She sat on the edge of the sofa, anxiously awaiting his answers.

"He took me to get back at my dad," Lucky answered with a shrug. "Faison was warped. He...he was crazy, okay? Anyway, he kept me locked away in a jail cell complete with CD player and video games. It was hell. I escaped by figuring out the system and beating it. It took me a while, but I did it."

"I don't get it," Elizabeth said, brushing stray strands of dark brown hair behind her ear. "You knew that we were dying inside for you, but you didn't come back! You should have come back. Didn't you care that we were still grieving for you?"

Lucky reached for her trembling hands. Holding on to her tightly, he said, "Of course, I cared, but Elizabeth, you gotta understand that I was messed up. I lived in isolation. My social skills weren't good enough for me to come back... I needed time to get myself together. I told myself that when I was sure I could handle it, I'd come back."

"We would have accepted you as you were!" she said, squeezing his hands. "Why didn't you just trust us?"

Lucky shook his head. "You don't understand. I couldn't trust anyone. I wasn't whole then. I knew that I wouldn't have been able to give myself to all of you the way that you expected me to. It wouldn't have been fair."

"Fair?" she quietly repeated. "Was it fair for me to find out that you were alive from someone other than you? I heard about it at the grocery store, Lucky! How do you think that made me feel?"

"I'm sorry," he responded helplessly. "I was going to see you tomorrow."

Elizabeth's jaw tightened. "I guess you were too busy to stop by tonight."

Lucky's eyes narrowed. He pulled his hands away from hers and he stood up. "Elizabeth..."

"Wait," she said, raising her hands. "You don't owe me any explanations. It wasn't hard for me to figure it out when I heard that you were staying here. And I didn't even know that you knew each other."

"We knew each other in high school," Lucky told her. "Dawn found me-"

"And she brought you back. You couldn't trust me or your family, but you could trust a girl that you knew from high school. I see..."

"You don't see," he said. "I didn't want to come back. I wouldn't have come back, but... Listen, Elizabeth, I'm sorry about the way things went down. I didn't want you or anyone else to be in pain."

"Well, I'm not anymore," Elizabeth said. "I moved on...the same as you. I'm married now and we're happy together."

"I know," Lucky said with a smile. "You're with Jason. I'm happy for you."

"Thanks," she murmured. She rose from the sofa and went to him. She hugged him and quickly released him. "Good-bye Lucky. Good luck, too."

Elizabeth left the condo before Lucky could respond. As if in a fog, he went to the door and locked it behind her. He stood there for a few moments, reconciling his past with his present. Behind him, Dawn entered the room. Her voice was soft as she spoke to him.

"Is everything okay?"

Lucky left the door to go to her. He slipped his arms around her, lacing his fingers at the small of her back. "Everything is fine. Are you okay? I'm sorry that it took so long."

Dawn rested her hands on his forearms, sliding them across his flesh. "I'm fine. I was just worried about you. She was so angry... I wanted to help, but I knew that it would be better if I stayed in the back. Was she okay when she left?"

Lucky shrugged. "I think so. Now, talk to me. Are you really okay?"

"Yeah," she said, nodding. "I'm doing okay."

He smiled at her, and then unable to resist, Lucky began to press kisses on her forehead, cheeks and along her jaw line. He paused for a moment, giving her time to resist, and then he closed his mouth over hers.

Tentatively, she returned his kiss. She took her time to open herself up to him and he proceeded slowly. He cupped her face between his palms, angling her head for the deeper kiss that had yet to come. Dawn responded by parting her lips. Lucky took the invitation, relishing the taste of her as his tongue slipped between her parted lips. As she moaned low in her throat, he lifted her feet from the floor and carried her down the hallway to her bedroom.

Their intentions to pick up where they left off were cut short as the telephone interrupted with a shrill ring. Reluctantly, they separated. Dawn reached for the telephone and mumbled into the receiver. "Hello."

"Dawn? This is Kevin. Dara and I are at GH. You may want to come here right away."

"What's wrong?" Dawn asked, dread evident in her eyes as she looked at Lucky. "How's Mama?"

"She went into cardiac arrest," Kevin explained. "I don't want to go into too much detail. I think you should just come."

"I'll be there," Dawn quietly said before she hung up the phone.

~*~

"This doesn't make any sense, Ellen," Matt said, glancing up from Carrie's chart to look at his patient. "The medication I prescribed shouldn't have caused this reaction. I wouldn't have put her at risk like this."

"I know," Ellen said. She held out her hand for the chart and looked over it. "I don't think you should be so hard on yourself. You're not to blame-"

"Oh, yes I am!" Matt corrected her. "I'm her doctor! Her family has put her life into my hands. I promised them that she'd recover from this, but no matter what I do, nothing changes. Carrie should have awakened by now, Ellen. There's no excuse for this setback!"

"I'm not making up excuses," she told him. "And neither are you. I know this may seem extreme, but I think you should check her bloodstream."

Matt stopped staring at Carrie to give Ellen a long, hard look. "What do you think I may find?"

"The answers," Ellen said. "While you arrange the tests, I'll go outside and handle crowd control. I'll see you in a few minutes, okay?"

"Sure," he said, his mind already miles away.

Ellen left him and went out into the hallway. She directed the crowd to follow her inside a nearby waiting room. She waited until everyone was inside and then she spoke to them. "We're not sure why Carrie went into cardiac arrest. She shouldn't have. She should have slowly returned to us."

"What's gonna happen now?" Dawn asked. "She's not gonna die now, is she?"

"No," Dara said shaking her head as Kevin wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "She'll be okay, right, Ellen?"

"We hope so," Ellen said.

"And you're certain that the new medication didn't cause the cardiac arrest?" Kevin asked.

"We're positive. It's been tested time and again and it has never caused any reaction as drastic as this. Matt is having Carrie's blood tested to see if there was anything else in her bloodstream that may have caused her heart to go into distress."

"Do you think someone may have given her something?" Dara asked. "But no one's been around her, but us."

"No," Dawn said, "there was another doctor in there with her today. She practically forced me from the room. Do you think she gave Mama something that would hurt her?"

"Well, it depends," Ellen said. "Do you know who this doctor was?"

"Yes, it was Dr. Locke, the psychiatrist."

Ellen's eyes grew large and she murmured, "Oh, my God."

She then ran from the room, causing the others to stare after her.

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