“You’re scaring me. Is something wrong with the baby?”
“No. I don’t know … something …” She stared off toward the road as Sam’s hands fell away from her shoulders.
Time slowed. Sam started running and raced past Maggie, yelling something that stretched out long and loud, waving frantically at Lily, who stood in the middle of the desolate gravel road. Ryley stood only a few feet from her. Marcie blinked through the blur as a black car sped around the bend and hit Lily. A sleek sports car with dark tinted windows, it skidded on the gravel but didn’t stop or even slow, speeding away.
Marcie’s head ached, and she struggled to breathe, feeling as if her chest had been ripped open by a sorrow she couldn’t put into words. Screaming pierced her dreamlike state. A sharp wind rustled the trees as Sam, Richard, and Maggie huddled around Lily, and Marcie moved down the steps, across the grass, and reached Ryley, who hovered frozen behind Sam.
“Marcie, call 911. Now, Marcie, now!” Sam shouted as he crouched over Lily.
Marcie grabbed Ryley’s arm and ran. Her ankle, not quite healed from her recent break, throbbed. Ryley said nothing as she all but dragged him back to the house. She grabbed the kitchen phone and dialed. Ryley leaned against the wall, his face white, his big eyes nothing but empty pools. She knew he couldn’t grasp what had just happened.
“Oh, God. Please let her be all right,” she begged as she closed her eyes.
“Nine one one. What’s your emergency?”
“Lily’s been hit by a car,” Marcie said. “She’s five years old. She’s lying on the road.”
“Is she still breathing?”
“I—I don’t know. Her parents are with her. She’s covered in blood.”
“We’ve got paramedics and police on their way. I need you to stay on the line with me.”
Marcie gripped the cordless phone and glanced back at Ryley, who didn’t move. “Ryley, I need you to stay here.”
He didn’t move—he didn’t even look at her. She dashed out the door and could see Maggie on her knees, sobbing. Sam appeared to be giving Lily CPR. Richard was beside him. Marcie relayed everything to the 911 operator until she heard sirens wailing in the distance. She hung up when she saw the first red flashing lights.
She hurried back to the road, limping as she held the disconnected phone. Emergency vehicles arrived—an ambulance, the sheriff, and volunteers from the Gardiner and Sequim fire departments blocked the narrow gravel road. Two paramedics raced over and dropped down beside Sam and Richard as emergency personnel crowded around, leaning in. Lily was still alive, but barely. Marcie pressed her hand against her chest. “Hurry,” she whispered.
“We need a medevac here now!” one of the men shouted.
“They’re en route. They have to land at the fire hall. Let’s move it!” another replied.
Richard pushed past Maggie, ignoring her as if she were of no importance. “Is she going to make it?” he cried desperately.
Sam glanced at the female paramedic, who shook her head. Sam stepped in front of Richard as Lily was loaded on the stretcher.
“I’m going with her!” Maggie screamed.
“There’s no room!” someone yelled as three paramedics climbed into the ambulance beside Lily. She appeared so tiny, hooked up to an IV, with splints and a neck collar, strapped to the gurney. A state trooper grabbed Maggie by the waist and held her back when she tried to jump in the ambulance. Richard stalked over to the sheriff and state troopers, who leaned against their cars at the side of the road, lights still flashing.
“What the hell are you still doing here? Get your asses out there and find that murdering coward who hit my little girl!” he yelled.
Sam stepped in and took Maggie from the trooper. She collapsed in his arms, clutching his shirt. “Marcie,” Sam yelled, “come here!”
So many people hurried around as the ambulance sped away, lights flashing and siren blaring, just as an SUV raced in and slammed its brakes, sending dust flying. Whoever was driving, Marcie couldn’t see, but an angry deputy stormed toward the person who jumped out.
“Sam, Richard!” Diane called, flashing her badge. She pushed past the deputy. Marcie took a step—but then stopped, as Richard abruptly punched one of the deputies before being tackled by the sheriff and another officer. One pinned his knee in
Richard’s back, laying him face down on the car’s trunk as the other cuffed him.
Marcie touched her head. She didn’t know what to do as Diane and Sam hurried over. Everyone was yelling, but the sheriff didn’t care. He shook his head and stuffed Richard in the back of his car.
Marcie watched Maggie standing alone, sobbing. The spot she stared at was coated in blood. One fuzzy slipper lay there--alone. She needed to go to her but was stopped when a hand touched her sleeve.
“Ma’am, you need to sit down. Are you family?” It was one of the local firemen, his kind hazel eyes appearing through a film of her tears.
“Ryley. I left Ryley at the house,” Marcie said.
Her vision blurred even more when she looked up at him, unable to make out any of his features. Her nose was plugged, and she swiped her hands over her eyes and wiped her nose with a sleeve.
“He’s their son, Lily’s older brother. He watched this. He saw Lily get hit. Oh, God.” She couldn’t hear him reply as he led her over to the fire truck and helped her sit on the back bumper.
“We asked him his name, but he won’t talk. One of the volunteers found him on the road, over there, watching the ambulance leave.”
Marcie nodded. “Please keep him away. How bad is it?” she asked. She knew by the way he grimaced that he didn’t want to say. “You … you don’t think …”
The volunteer had an honest face. “Miss? You’d best be getting the parents to the hospital. Prepare them for the worst.”
“She’s being airlifted to Seattle.”
Marcie didn’t know how she did it, but she stood up and hurried to Maggie, pulling her into her arms as crime scene technicians arrived and taped off the area. “Maggie, we need to go.”
Maggie pushed her away and swept her trembling hands through her hair as tears fell. “Where are they taking her? Is she all right? She was still breathing, Marcie.”
“Marcie!” Sam approached at a jog. The lines around his eyes had deepened, and his face was pale. Marcie wanted to fall into his arms, but Maggie was there first, her arms around Sam. He stared at Marcie and rubbed Maggie’s back. “They’re airlifting her from the fire hall to Harborview Trauma. She’s still alive, but it’s touch and go. Diane arranged for another chopper, waiting for us in Sequim.” Sam hurried Maggie along, and Marcie fell in step beside them but stopped after a few strides.
“Ryley. I forgot about Ryley. We can’t leave him,” she said. “And Richard, where is he?”
As the sheriff pulled away with Richard in the back, Diane jogged over. The sheriff could be a hard-ass and didn’t take kindly to his officers being hit—even by a distraught parent.
“Diane, please bring Marcie and Ryley with you,” Sam said as he hustled Maggie to his SUV and helped her in. Marcie stood at the side of the road, alone, and watched as Sam drove away while Diane hurried off to find Ryley.
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