Hannah made her way back to her car in the dark, careless of the thorns that caught at her, and drove slowly back to campus. Her cell phone rang once while she was in the car, but she didn't answer it. Only when she was back in her room did she do so.
It was Ron Keller.
"Miss D'Angelo, we just wanted to inform you that Amondaur has escaped from the hospital. The police have not yet been able to track him down."
"Oh my gosh!" Hannah replied, hoping she could lie better over the phone than in person.
"He escaped only a few minutes after you came to see him, and we wondered if you had seen any indication that he might have been planning such a thing?"
"No, I didn't. How did he get out?"
"He had a key. We think it was yours; that he either found it or stole it from you."
"Oh my gosh!" Hannah repeated. "I am so sorry!"
"So am I." She heard him sigh on the other end. "We tried to call you before. There are some experts here, who would like to examine Amondaur's personal effects. Could you bring them back?"
"Uhm…" Hannah bit her lip. "I—don't have them."
"The reason I didn't answer the phone was that I left it back in my dorm room. After I picked up Amondaur's stuff, I ran an errand and then went to my friend's house. I totally forgot to lock my car, and I only realized when I got back to the school, that Amondaur's stuff was missing from the back seat! I was going to call you, but you beat me to it."
"It was stolen?"
"Yeah. I thought it was just some juvenile delinquent or something, but if Amondaur escaped right about that time… I mean, I was parked just down the street by that pharmacy…"
Ron Keller sighed again. "Amondaur himself probably took them. He knew you were going to that pharmacy?"
"Yeah, I mentioned it. And I had his stuff with me when I went to talk to him, so he knew I had it and would put it in my car. I am so sorry." She didn't have to lie about the last part. She really was sorry to put the people at the hospital—not to mention the cops—to so much trouble. But it couldn't be helped.
"Well," Ron said finally, "We will let you know when the police find him. Any thoughts on where he might have gone?"
"The state park," Hannah answered immediately, knowing that the portal was closed and no one could find it. She was heartily thankful the police hadn't thought to check there first and found her car by the road.
"Thanks. I'll call you with developments." Dr. Keller hung up.
Mark called half an hour later.
"The experts left. I'm guessing it went off alright?"
"Yep! He's back in Middle-earth." Hannah couldn't suppress the smile that crossed her face.
"Great." She heard him heave a sigh of relief. "I was worried the portal might have closed before he got there."
"No, I think it was… waiting for him," Hannah answered.
"So I guess you're out of a job," Mark continued.
"Yeah, I guess so." Hannah shrugged, even though he couldn't see it. "Oh well. My parents have been offering to help me with expenses for some time. Maybe I'll finally take them up on their offer. I'm going home next weekend. We have a lot to talk about."
There was a moment of silence. "You sound very happy," Mark said, sounding pleased himself.
"I am," Hannah answered, smiling from ear to ear. "A lot happier than I've been for a long time."
"It's too bad I won't see you every day at the hospital anymore," Mark continued. "You'll just have to come to dinner with me Wednesday night."
"Are you asking me out?" Hannah teased.
"Yes, I am. Are you accepting?"
"Great. And I'll have a present for you," he added.
"A present? What is it?"
"A photo of Amondaur I'm printing off from the security footage," Mark answered with a laugh. "Something to remember him by."
"I'm hardly likely to forget!" Hannah replied. "But thank you. I'd love that."
"I've got to get going, or my boss is going to get suspicious. Wednesday at six, then? In front of your dorm?"
"Wednesday it is," Hannah agreed. "Call me."
"I will. We have a lot to talk about!" He hung up.
"So we do," Hannah said quietly, as she hung up the phone. She flopped onto her bed and lay there, an irrepressible smile on her face. "So we do."
SongMaster: lol That's fascinating!
Cindy (and anybody else who wondered): While it would be interesting for Hannah to go through the door, I don't think that the door would have allowed it. Also, Amondaur came from two years before the War of the Ring, which is not a good time to go sightseeing in Middle-earth. Thirdly, her parents already lost one daughter: they don't need to lose another! And what would happen to her relationship with Mark? And to top it all off, it would just be too predictable and Mary-Sueish. :)
Thank you all! I love my reviewers! Please review!