The next morning came all too quickly for Lacy when she eventually opened her eyes. She looked to the clock on the wall, reading that it was close to six in the morning. She sighed, swallowing the lump in her throat, her stomach twisting horribly in anticipation on what was to happen either that day or later on in the morning. She knew that they would have to face their father again, and she knew that if she were alone with him that he will hurt her.
Taking a slow, shaky breath, Lacy sat up wincing as the injuries her father caused protested loudly at her movements. She leaned back onto the pillows and sighed, closing her eyes for a split second then opening them again when she heard the door open.
Wendy, Ariel, and Matt entered, all giving her a small smile.
Wendy went over and sat on the chair beside the bed, leaning her elbows on her knees. "Hey, how are you doing this morning?"
"My head feels a bit better, but my injuries are still bothering me."
"That's to be expected." Matt murmured, going over to where all the equipment and supplies were, grabbing a few things and heading back over to her, maneuvering everything he had into one hand and reaching out to grab the pullout table, bringing it over then placing everything gently onto the table. "Lacy, before I can discharge you, I need to check your vitals and do some tests to make sure that you're okay to go to school today."
The word school made her entire body tense.
Wendy seemed to have noticed her discomfort because she placed a comforting hand onto the young girl's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. The older woman smiled down at her, and timidly, Lacy returned the smile.
Lacy looked back up to the medic and gave a small nod.
The young girl was thankful that Matt was patient with her and explained everything that he was doing before he went ahead with the test. At the end of it, he did mention that he was concerned about the fever that she still had.
"I am going to give you some Tylenol to help lower the fever, Lacy," Matt explained as he went over to the cupboards, and pulled out a familiar white and red bottle, opened it and then took out one, broke it in half, came back over and handed it to the teenager, followed by the half-full bottle of water that sat on the bedside table and gave it to her. "Lacy, you will need to take it easy, drink lots of fluids, alright?"
Lacy nodded wordlessly and took the medicine and water without question.
Settling back into the bed, she watched as Matt cleared up all equipment and supplies, putting everything back in their proper places.
"Hmm?" Lacy turned to Ariel, who had called her name. The young woman leaned against the wall and gave her a gentle smile, the same as what everyone else had done.
They were all so nice.
"Are you hungry?"
"A-a little," Lacy replied, her voice soft.
"What would you like and I can bring it back to you?" Ariel asked, pushing up off the wall and making her way to the door.
Lacy went to open her mouth when Matt interjected. "Actually, Ariel, as long as Lacy follows my instructions and takes it easy, she may leave the medical bay to have breakfast." He turned his attention to Lacy, pushing his glasses back up onto his face. "Would you be alright with that?"
"That sounds great."
"Good." Matt gave an approving nod and went to exit the room with Ariel and Wendy. Just before he reached the door, he turned around and said, "We will wait outside while you get dressed. If you need any assistance, call out, and we'll be back in."
"Thank you." Lacy murmured. She took in a shuddering breath, she removed the blankets from her and carefully got out of the bed.
It took some time, and her injuries bothered her, and she gritted her teeth. She hissed, feeling a pain in her ankle, forgetting that she had also hurt that as well. Thankfully though, it was able to bear some of her weight. Her eyes landed on her crutches, and she debated whether or not she'd be okay without them.
Eventually, she decided that as long as she was careful, she'd be alright without them.
Hobbling over to where her clothes were located – all washed and dried, she threw them on and sighed. It felt good to be back into her own clothing again.
Lacy reached into her jean pocket and pulled out a spare hair elastic she had there and put her hair into a messy bun. Carefully, she bent down and put on her shoes then made her way for the door.
The conversation that was happening in the hall, immediately quieted down when she stepped out. Matt didn't look too pleased when his eyes landed on her.
"Where are your crutches?"
"They're in the room."
He gave a small sigh, "The crutches are there to keep you from putting on any weight on your foot and to keep you from injuring it further, Lacy."
"I'll be fine." She protested, but the look she received made her clamp up. She turned to go back into the room to grab them, but Matt quickly said that he'd grab them for her.
When he returned a moment later, and she had the crutches situated, Wendy stepped up to her, "Ready?" She asked.
Lacy merely nodded though inside she wasn't.
As they headed down the corridor, with only the sounds of crutches and footsteps echoing off the walls, Lacy was left to her thoughts. She was scared. Not only was she scared of being face-to-face with her so-called father, but she was afraid about revealing to her best friend about what had been going on for the last week.
She wondered just how upset her friend Ashley was going to be when she sees her in the state that she was and finding out what her best friend's father has been putting her through. Lacy took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then slowly let it out.
They had agreed, Lacy remembered, to always be honest with one another.
Even if she didn't want to worry about her friend, she promised.
Lacy was viciously yanked from her thoughts when she felt two small bodies collide with her, causing her to groan in pain and almost fall over.
Despite the pain and discomfort, she was feeling, Lacy chuckled, smiling down at them both, placing a kiss on their head.
Matt knelt in front of the two children, softly chastising them, "You have to be careful with your sister. She is still very sore."
Breakfast went by quickly, too quickly for Lacy's liking, before her sister came up onto the bench beside her, leaning her head on her arm, "We need our backpacks, Lace, we didn't bring them with us, and our teacher will be mad if we don't have them."
"Don't worry." Lacy wanted to believe that, but she knew better. She did worry.
Billy, leader of the Rescue Hero team, came up to them seemingly noticing the teen's discomfort. "Where you are still injured, Lacy, I'll send Ariel and Wendy to go with you, alright?"
The teen held her breath as they drove to their home. As each familiar street came and gone from their view, her anxiety worsened. Her heart pounded against her ribcage as she played with the hem of her shirt, missing the glance that Wendy sent her through the rearview mirror.
They pulled up to the house, that once was filled with beautiful memories, held nothing but contempt and sadness within its walls. Lacy hesitated as she stared up at it.
"Hey," Ariel's voice said softly, forcing Lacy to return to the present and look at her. "We'll be right here, okay? You'll be fine."
Taking a couple of deep breaths, and with shaky hands, opened the door and stepped down onto the pavement, looked up at the front door, closed her eyes, and made her way up the steps.
She fished out her key, placed it into the lock, and turned until she felt it let go. Grabbing onto the handle, Lacy held her breath as it squeaked as she opened the door. Halfway open, she held her breath, listened, stepped inside. Lacy decided to leave the door open.
Tip-toeing through the kitchen and peeking into the living room, and seeing that her father was passed out, the smell of beer wafted through her nose and she fought the urge to gag. The place looked disgusting with beer cans and bottles littering the table and floor around the sofa.
Two empty pizza boxes laid completely open near the entertainment stand.
The TV was still on the sports network.
Letting out a breath, she leaned her crutches at the bottom of the stairs, and as quietly and as carefully as she could, Lacy made her way up the stairs, stopping every few seconds and listening to even the smallest amount of movement from downstairs before eventually making her way up all the way.
She grabbed everything that she and her siblings would need, and even going into her room, under her bed where the money she got from their grandparents and stuffed it into her pocket. Muttering under her breath, making one final mental check, she made her way to the top of the stairs.
Her blood ran cold. She stopped dead in her tracks as she looked down to the bottom of the stairs and seeing her father's enraged face glaring up at her then to the crutches that were still leaning against the wall. A strange smile crossed his features, and she knew exactly what that meant.
Before she could grasp what was happening, he was darting up the stairs towards her.
Lacy couldn't get far because of her ankle now her father is right on top of her, grabbing onto her hair, forcefully pulling her, dragging her towards the stairs.
"Let go of me!" She screamed, struggling to get out of her father's grasp, but he didn't acknowledge her right then. No. He threw her down the stairs. Her head met the wooden railing on her way down.
She was struggling to breathe, and her entire body shook from the pain, fear, and the adrenaline. Black spots danced across her vision as she tried to sit up and by the time she pulled herself up to her hands and knees, Martin had grabbed a fistful of her hair, yanking her up, ignoring her cry of pain. He slammed her back against the wooden staircase and leaned in close to her.
The stale smell of alcohol wafted through the air, and up her nose, and she tried to hold her breath to keep from gagging.
"Where did you take my children, you little murderous bitch?!" His voice was eerily calm, but his eyes...her father's eyes was that of a monster; they were bloodshed and filled with an uncontrollable rage that she had never seen before in the man she knew for fourteen years.
The man who had never laid a hand upon her or her siblings was unfamiliar to her.
Her eyes watered and she bit back a sob as she stared up at him, finding herself unable to speak, and unfortunately for her, that was not something that Martin was going to tolerate.
She had forgotten for a split second that Martin's hands were still in her hair until he gripped onto her dark locks and slammed her against the stairs again.
Shouting from the house caused Wendy and Ariel to look up, exchanging a glance to one another then quickly disengaging their seatbelt and exiting the vehicle.
Lacy's siblings started to follow suit when Ariel turned back around, opened up the door and hugged both children, "I need you two to promise me that you will stay in here and not come inside the house, do you hear me?"
Tears had begun to fall as she let go of them, but they nodded, staying put, yet gripping onto their respective seatbelts.
Taking a deep breath, Ariel closed the door and took off after Wendy. Taking two steps at a time, she entered the house through the same way that Lacy went in, carefully making her way in until she heard Wendy's voice.
She was angry, "You are a grown man, and she is only fourteen years old! Don't blame her for the irresponsibility of someone else!"
A male's voice, who Ariel guessed was Lacy's father shouted back, "No. No! It's her fault. She's the one who got my wife killed! She deserves everything coming to her and more." A hysterical chuckle then followed by, "It should've been her who died...not my wife!"