A New Life (9/?)

It's been a week. Seven days and seven nights. Susan has stayed with me, hasn't left my side even for a moment. I don't know, I can't remember, if I've told her how much I appreciate her dedication. I know I've told her to go away, to get back to her own life. But I also know she's not going anywhere. Not until Carter turns up. Somewhere. Somehow.

It's like Carter and Bella disappeared right off the face of the earth, Jeep and all. No sign of them anywhere. Like they never existed. And with each passing second, the thoughts in my mind grow more intense, more disturbing, more horrific.

What if he drove the jeep over a cliff, a ravine, some far away place no one will ever find him.

What if they were kidnapped, taken away, erased from existence?

What if they were killed somehow? Would it have been quick? Would they have suffered?

What if…what if…what if…

I feel like I'm slowly going over the edge. Before long, Susan's going to have to put me in a mental hospital for my own safety. It's too late for my sanity.

I jump every time the phone rings. My heart flutters in my chest, like wings flapping inside my throat. I feel like a butterfly caught in a net. There's hope, for that moment before Susan picks up the phone, before she says hello, before she hears the voice on the other end that isn't Carter.

Susan's trying to convince me to take a nap. As if I'd even sleep. I can't sleep. I can't sleep knowing he's out there, not knowing if he's okay, if he's even alive. I really don't know how much more of this I can take.

I'm just starting to go upstairs, even if I can't sleep, I wouldn't mind a few minutes alone. I'll hug his pillow, breath the scent of him off his clothes. The ringing of the doorbell, followed by a sharp blast of a fist rapping against the door, brings me back down.

Susan rushes to the door, as if she might protect me from whatever lay on the other side. Over her shoulder, I see a dark blue shirt. Police. My heart and my gut bottom out. Oh God. Carter. I rush down the stairs, to Susan's side. Every nerve in my body is alive, jumping with fear.

There are two officers on the porch. Susan invites them inside. They're both so young, fresh faced. They remind me of med students on the first day of rotation in the ER. Nervous to the point they jump at their own shadow.

Officer Nick Michaels introduces himself, and his partner Ryan Greer. I want to tell them I don't have time for small talk. Just tell me why you're here. Tell me where Carter is. Nothing else matters.

He lost me when he said 'A small town in Oklahoma, holed up in a motel room.' I felt the world split open, a huge gaping hole widening right there at my feet.

Images of my mother flashed through my mind. Would he have the television of a static channel for the noise, to drown out all other sounds? Would I have to bathe him and force him to eat something? Would I have to sit with him in the back of a rental car and hold his hand to make sure he didn't try to OD on something?

Would I have to commit him to a bed up in psych?

I fell head first into the black hole. The drop was softer than I would have expected. Smooth. Like slipping under the covers in bed.

The suddenness of it hit me like an iron fist to my chest. I sat up gasping for breath. Susan was there, easing me back down, smoothing the hair from my face.

"Where is he? Is he okay? Bella…Where is Bella? Is she with him? Is she okay?"

Susan sat down beside me. On the edge of the couch. They must have moved me from the floor. I could see a flash of blue uniform beyond her shoulder.

"He checked into the motel five days ago. The owner of the motel said he looked like he needed rest. He thought he might have been running from someone or something. Other guest complained about the baby crying all night long. The owner and his wife offered to take care of her for a while, so Carter could get some sleep. They waited a few days, but Carter never came back for Bella. Two days ago they looked up his registration, but he used a false name. So they called the cops to run the license plate from his Jeep."

"Is he okay? Tell me he's okay, Susan. Tell me he didn't hurt himself…"

Officer Nick Michaels stepped forward then, he moved into my line of vision but stayed behind Susan. "Once the police were involved, they broke into the room. They gave Mr Carter –"

"Dr. Carter," I interrupted and I don't even know why. Maybe because I wanted this cop, this stranger, to know Carter isn't just some street punk. But then, the mansion is probably a dead give away.

"Yes, Dr. Carter. They gave Dr Carter several opportunities to open the door himself, but he did not. He has been detained in police custody at a local hospital in Oklahoma. I do not know the details, I'm sorry."

I look up at Susan, wide eyed, wild eyed, and desperate. "Bella! Where is the baby? Do you know that much?" I surge up off the couch, past Susan, lunging toward the cop who can not tell me anything about Carter's condition.

"I'm sorry. I do not know that either. I would assume the police have her."

"Oh God." My heart bottomed out, the black hole opened up and swallowed me whole once again.

End chapter 9. Again I apologise for taking so long between chapters. But, I haven't abandoned my fics here. Really. I haven't. So let me know what you think of this chapter, and I'll try to get another one out before long. Thanks!