Chapter 68

"Right. That night, I tried to finish early. I was really looking forward dining with you. I had hoped that after the two ruined opportunities it might be third time lucky." He spat out a bitter laugh.

"Then there was this call. An emergency, accident at the cliffs…leg in a peculiar angle, head bleeding. It sounded really horrible and I was sure I had to attend immediately. You don't know how it felt to call off our dinner. I hated to disappoint you." Still standing behind him, she stroked his shoulders.

"You never have to worry about that. I understand. Emergencies are more important than our meals."

"Well, that time it wasn't, in fact. They said that they didn't know exactly where they were. They said they had started their walk at Trebetherick and then one member of the group slipped and fell down a few feet. They would find out more about the exact whereabouts and give me better directions later on."

"I had an idea that it must be southwards and so I got into the car and drove vaguely in that direction. I was already around Trelights when they finally told me that they were at Lundy Bay. I sped up and made my way there as fast as I could. I parked at the National Trust car park, grabbed my bag and went towards the bay."

"I was almost at the cliff's edge, when I saw that there was a boat in the bay. Before I could think about it, Jonathan was suddenly facing me. You know, the nutter that was with your father when he last came down here."

"He held me at gunpoint and forced me down to the bay. It appeared he and a crony had tried to rob a bank. Of course they buggered it up, took the employees as hostages and armed forces surrounded the bank. I don't know how, but somehow they made it out of there, but during the escape, Jonathan's mate was shot in the leg. They made it to their boat and sailed away."

"On the trip cruising along the North Cornish coast, Jonathan remembered me and found out my telephone number. He decided to lure me down there. Maybe also a wicked way of taking revenge. I don't know."

"I had to get aboard. He had his gun at my head the whole time that I was operating on his stupid friend to remove the bullet from his thigh. After I'd fixed him up and put the plaster on he was relatively stable. Jonathan locked me in the cabin. Then they set sail, with me on board. Having seen and smelled all the blood and with the boat rocking, I was really sick. I made a disgusting mess in the cabin. I tried to evaluate my chances, but I couldn't see what I could do."

"The next morning the door was unlocked and at gunpoint I was led to my patient, to see if he was doing alright. The same routine repeated itself for four days."

"Then after the second gangster had made a reasonable recovery and was getting stronger. They decided that they didn't need me anymore." Martin gulped, wringing his sweaty hands. Louisa tried to steady his trembling hands, but he withdrew them.

"I…I wasn't led back to the cabin. They didn't think so much courtesy was necessary anymore. They took some rope and tied me to the railing on board. My arms straight down behind my back. Those sailor's knots are impossible to undo. For more than four weeks I sat there. My legs were numb by now. They just gave me some water here and then, just enough to keep me alive. But being exposed to the sun all the time, getting hardly any food and not enough water I started to have problems pretty soon."

"Not only was I was aching all over, but I started to have hallucinations. I felt really miserable."

"After they gave me another sip of water, I had a lucid moment and realised that I had to try something or I wouldn't survive. I pulled at my bonds. I had almost managed to free one of my hands. Maybe my wrist had become smaller over the weeks due to dehydration. Anyway, one hand was almost slipping out of the knot when Jonathan noticed. I was pulling my arm with maximal strength when Jonathan threw himself against my shoulder I could feel it snap. I cried out loud and then I must have passed out. Must have been the mix of pain and exhaustion."

"When I came to my senses I could hear them arguing. They were panicking because they thought they had killed me. I realised that this was maybe my only chance, so I tried not to move."

"I could hear them discussing my fate. It didn't sound very promising. Finally they decided that they would throw me overboard during the night. I knew I had to try not to move but keep awake. If I would be asleep or unconscious when they would throw me overboard I would have been dead."

"I managed to get through the day. I wasn't sure if I would live to another one." Martin got up and went over to the window. Nervously he fingered at his wrist, still bearing the scars where the rope had cut into his flesh.

Louisa stayed put as she realised he had to finish his story at his own pace, without being interrupted. She could hardly bear what she heard.

"After an endless time, it seemed, I noticed that something was happening. Rustling and bustling. They untied me, but I didn't dare to use that opportunity. I don't think I had the strength to fight both of them. I reckoned I had a bigger chance to reach the shore. They kept close to the shore most of the time. One took my legs, the other one my shoulders. It took all my self-control not to cry out loud. My shoulder did hurt like hell. I'm not sure if I didn't pass out."

"In any case, I can't remember them throwing me overboard. I just remember when I hit the cold water. My muscles cramped and I was worried my heart could refuse to work, but I could make out the shoreline and I forced myself forward. Everything's a bit vague afterwards. They said at the hospital that I had swallowed a lot of saltwater. Obviously I hadn't made it to the shore without problems. Maybe I drifted some of the time. I don't know. At some point I must have hit my head, otherwise I don't know why I was concussed. Maybe a boat or the cliffs. I don't know."

"The first thing I can remember for sure is that I was lying on the shore, eyes shut, aching all over, unspeakably tired. Then some distant voices. A child screaming. Someone said something about an ambulance. I just thought 'Good' and allowed myself to pass out."

"You know the rest."

A very long silence followed. He kept on staring out of the window, his left hand behind his back. Louisa looked at his back. She wasn't sure if he wanted her there or if she should keep her distance. But the silence endured.

Finally she went over and wrapped her arms around him from behind. She leant against is back.

"I'm so sorry."

"Why are you sorry? It's not your fault."

"In a way it is. If my useless father hadn't dragged Jonathan down here when he visited me, Jonathan wouldn't have known you, and all this wouldn't have happened."

"I might have met him anyhow." Now he loosened her embrace and turned around.

"You know, all that I could think of when I was tied to that bloody railing, as long as I was still capable of thinking, was, that I had never told you how much you mean to me. How much…." His eyes glistened, he gulped, but grew silent.

She looked up to him. "How much what?"

"Eeehm…It's just…."

"Come on, say it. If I learned anything from this awful affair then that time is far too valuable to waste it. Not worth wasting time due to insecurity, false pride, temper or fear. We have to concentrate on what's really important. What's really important to you?"

"You! You are." Martin burst out without thinking. Then he blushed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't…:" She put her finger on his lips.

"Ssshhh Martin. That's fine. So what didn't you tell me? How much…"

Martin felt completely safe in her presence. There was something soothing about her. Her eyes were fixed upon him, but for once he didn't feel that he had to avoid her intense look. He took a deep breath.

"How much I love you. I love you, Louisa. The thought of you gave me the strength to escape the boat. Without you I wouldn't have mastered the time afterwards. I don't know why you did it, but I thank you so very much that you helped me through these hard times."

She wrapped her arms around him once more, this time resting her head against his chest. Clumsily at first he took her into his arms. Then with growing confidence, he tightened the embrace.

"That's nice, Martin. You know, when I…I…thought…you…wouldn't come back again" She sighed "I realised that you had never taken me into your arms and that I had always dreamt about that."

"You did?"

"Yes Martin. I often did dream about us. About us being together."

He softly kissed the top of her head.

"Me too. But I didn't dare to hope…"

She looked up to him. "Martin, we should stop wasting our time. I was devastated when I thought I would never see you again. And to be honest, I regretted deeply that there was not one night that I could remember."

"You mean?"

"Yes, Martin. I was crushed as I had always dreamt about how it would be like to actually be with you. To be loved by you. And then I thought I would never have a chance to find out. And then you were back, but didn't want to take this step because you thought you were a 'black box' and felt you needed your memory back, first. Now you are here and you have regained your memory. So what about now?"

"You really want to…"

"…to make love to you, yes Martin."

"You're really sure?"

"Oh Martin! I've been sure about this for years!"

"Eeeehm…I see. So shall we meet for dinner tonight and then let's see what happens?" He blushed.

"I have a better idea. I have cancelled my lessons, you have no appointments for the rest of the day, and you look as if you need some comforting. I just know the right treatment there." In his firm embrace she had started to stroke his back, or rather the firm fabric of his suit at his back.

"But it's broad daylight?!"

"Who says one can only make love in the dark?"

He broke away from the embrace and stared at her bewildered. She smiled at him broadly.

"Eeehhm…right….I see." He coughed nervously. He looked down at her. What are you waiting for, you fool! She's the only good thing in your ghastly life and she wants you. He tried to summon enough courage to follow her invitation. Why was he so shy about it? Why did it feel so wrong? Then he realised why. He didn't want some loose relationship. If he overcame his natural shyness, then it should be for something definite. He knew now why he couldn't follow her suggestion.

"Louisa, there's one thing I need to know before…uhm…you know."

"No Martin, I don't have any catching diseases, and yes, I'm taking the pill."

"What?"

"I thought these might be your concerns?"

"Right…uhm…no, actually."

"What then?"

He stared at her. His breathing was faster than normal.

His adrenaline level was definitely rising. Now or never. You're at the cliff's edge and now jump!

"Marry me!"

"What was that, Martin?" She asked with tears in her eyes.

"Louisa, you're the only reason why I'm still alive. I don't want to be without you ever again. Please marry me."

She clung her arms around his neck and covered his face with kisses. "Of course I will! You stupid, insecure, lovely, shy, brilliant man!"

"You will?" He managed to sigh between her kisses.

"Oh yes, I will. And now there's just one thing we need to do!"

"You mean…?"

"Exactly!"

"Yes, I suppose we should tell Joan right away."

"What?" Louisa let loose and looked at him incredulously. "What do you mean?"

"You agreed that there is one thing left to do. I thought you meant…"

"Tomorrow, Martin. Tomorrow is soon enough. Now I have to find out something." She took him by the hand. "Let's go somewhere where it's a bit more comfortable. Actually, I've never been upstairs here. Do you want to show me around?"

Swallowing hard he took her up the stairs.

Later that day, cuddled close to Louisa, he just hoped that he would never forget this wonderful day.

The end

.or maybe just the beginning

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

I thank all kind readers, especially those who took their time to comment. It was a huge encouragement.

Again, this story became longer than I anticipated when the Doc Martin fanfics „Martin, pi" by robspace54 and „Heartbeats" by Littleguinea put the little idea about a kidnapped and amnesic DM into my head. I know that I tested everybody's patience (after all, the story started on 14.03.11). The more thankful I am for every reader who stood by me throughout all 68 chapters.

My very special thanks goes, as always, to my proof reader, fanficfan71, who still patiently corrects everything I throw at her. All my errors are my own.

My last but not least thanks goes to Buffalo Pictures for creating such wonderful characters. As always, it had been fun to play with them for some time. I hope, I'll return them to you undamaged.