Nick was really annoyed when the kitchen door opened under his hand. It was too early to relax think their mysterious prowler had gone away. Kate whether in the house or out should have locked that door.
He went in through the door snapping on the light calling, "Kate!"
No reply. He could see her coat shucked across one of the dining chairs though and her shoes were somewhat untidily in the middle of the floor. He was puzzled but not unduly alarmed. Perhaps she was having a bath.
He advanced through the living room door. His only awareness was of a shadowy figure before he was thoroughly coshed with a heavy wooden figurine which Kate kept by the door. He went down heavily.
Minutes later Kate's Herald sped down the lane, a stranger at the wheel and Kate tied up in the boot.
Phil arrived about forty minutes later. He too went to the kitchen door. It was shut. He knocked twice. There were lights on but no one came to the door. He noticed Kate's car was missing. Had they both gone out? He tried the door anyway. It gave under his hand and he stepped inside.
He immediately saw Nick sprawled somewhat inelegantly on the floor completely out for the count.
"Nick!" Phil dropped on his knees by his side. "Nick its Phil. Can you hear me?" He put two fingers on Nick's neck feeling for the pulse. Got it, good. He had a really nasty cut on the side of his head and he was totally out of it.
"You're going to be all right, Nick," Phil said putting a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I'm just going to get some help. Be back in a minute."
He didn't like to use the phone in the police house worried about disturbing any prints. So he went outside and used the radio on Nick's bike.
"Control receiving? Control!"
"Control. That you Phil?" Alf sounded somewhat surprised.
"Alf I'm at the Police House. I don't know what's going on but I've found Nick on the floor. He's been coshed over the head good and proper."
"No sign don't think she is home yet."
"All right Phil, we're on our way over to you."
Phil tore back into the house to find Nick was coming to himself, groaning heavily.
"Easy there, its all right. No, don't try and get up, you're not ready for that. Easy Nick."
"Yeah we'll let her know what's happened don't worry."
"She was here,when I got home. Her car..was outside."
"What?" Phil looked round then saw what he just hadn't noticed at first. Kate's handbag, medical bag, coat, shoes. "Nick, Kate was here, when you got home?"
"Didn't see her. Car was outside. Walked in, got hit. Didn't see who." Nick looked up at Phil. "Phil? Where's Kate?"
"Nick, I don't know. Her car's not here now." Phil looked up as he heard a car outside. "Cavalry's here Nick. You just try and lie still all right?"
He ran outside to meet a grim faced Oscar Blaketon and Alf Ventress.
"Sarge. Nick's come round and he's managed to tell me that Kate was here when he got home. He didn't see her but her car was outside. Her bag, coat and shoes are all in the house. But there's no sign of her now and the car is missing."
The officers exchanged glances and then hastened indoors. Nick was attempting to get up as they came inside.
"Nick, no!" Phil moved quickly over to him, supporting him. Alf came forward to help and they guided Nick onto the settee.
"Did you see who it was Rowan?" Blaketon crouched in front of Nick taking in the damage. As well as the cut to his head there was a significant amount of bruising and swelling.
"Didn't see anything." Nick spoke with his eyes closed trying to get past the headache. He managed to get his eyes open then, "Kate's car was outside. The door was unlocked. All her things are out there. She must have been here Sarge."
Phil spoke quietly. "Alf has just spoken to Dr Radcliffe Nick. He's coming over to look at you but he confirmed Kate left the surgery to come straight home."
Nick put his head in his hands. "Someone must have been here. Or followed her into the house."
Martin Russell drove to the place he had worked out was best. The old railway sidings near the railway station. The sidings were disused now apart from storing some old rolling stock. The lines led to the mouth of a tunnel. The tunnel was bricked up at the other end to form a vast storage cavern.
Russell parked the car on the road running above the tunnel. He went to the rear of the car and dragged Kate out of the boot. He untied her.
"We walk now down to the tunnel," he told her.
"I heard my husband's motorbike," Kate said. "Did you hurt him? Please?"
"You won't live to know. Walk!" He waved the gun at her forcing her in front of him.
They walked down the path from the road to the tunnel mouth. This end was gated across but Russell had already cut the securing padlock on an earlier visit. He opened the gate and waved Kate inside then urged her deeper into the tunnel.
She turned to face him saying, "So what happens now?"
"What do you think?" he asked her.
She swallowed. "Why? Why so long after Lydia's death did you wait – to do this?" she asked steadily.
"I had to stay strong. For my wife. She never got over losing Lydia though. You see she blamed herself. When she took Lydia to the hospital that night she knew she was poorly but she listened to you as the doctor. Telling her everything was fine – when it wasn't. And she never could live with that, the guilt you see. She killed herself two months ago Dr Rowan."
"Oh God." There was an old bench behind Kate and she sat down slowly on this. Looking up at Russell she said, "I am so sorry."
"I found you by chance you know. After Ruth died I went to stay with some friends in Scarborough. And I visited Whitby. I walked past a doctor's surgery and there was a nameplate saying Dr Kate Rowan. I thought, it can't be. But I watched, waited and saw it was you." He paused. "I went home, back to London. But I couldn't stop thinking about what was in my mind. I couldn't live without Ruth. I knew that. But Dr Rowan I didn't see why you should be allowed to live either."
She spoke hollowly. "I have never forgotten Lydia."
"No? You're telling me she was not just some patient to you? Who you negligently treated? You were responsible for her death Dr Rowan!"
"Yes!" Kate spoke angrily now. "I know that. She had meningitis and I diagnosed her with a flu virus. I know that and I will always know that. Lydia is with me in the back of my mind every day Mr Russell. She is with me every time I see a child who is unwell because by God I never want to make that mistake again."
He blinked. "You couldn't apologise at the time could you? If you had…it might have made a difference to Ruth and I. Helped us cope"
"I wanted to." Kate had tears in her eyes and she rubbed them away crossly. "I wanted to but was told I couldn't. While the investigation went on. And they decided the decision I made in the circumstances was reasonable. You know that. But it wasn't right. And I had to live with that. Believe me it hasn't been easy."
He sat down himself on some old boxes sitting opposite her. He seemed flustered.
"You're being honest with me aren't you?" he asked her.
"Yes. I am. Completely. Oh if only you had come to see me. Properly. Not like this."
"Its too late I'm afraid Dr Rowan. I think you're genuine but its too late now isn't it?"
James Radcliffe was examining Nick, kneeling in front of him as he sat on the sofa, shining a light in his eyes. "Look left, look right, look up," he instructed. Nick complied wearily.
"Good." James put his pen light in his pocket. "Hospital for you though Nick. You need an x ray and you're concussed."
"Not until we find Kate," Nick said through gritted teeth.
James looked up at Oscar Blaketon.
"We'll go on looking for her Nick," Blaketon said, "but you need to get your head looked at."
"She didn't leave here by herself," Nick said as if Oscar hadn't spoken. "She'd hardly have gone out and left me on the floor."
Alf Ventress came in. "Kate's car has been sighted. On the lane above the disused tunnel at the railway sidings."
"So lets get over there then," Nick said attempting to stand. James supported him as he got woozily to his feet.
"Nick, this is a really bad idea," he said.
"I have to find her James," Nick said in low tones. "After that I'll go to hospital, whatever. But later."
In the tunnel Kate was saying, "I don't think you want to do this Martin."
"I had it all planned. How it was going to happen."
"I've been watching you. I've been in your home. I could see you were happy. Loved. I thought, she doesn't deserve that. How is she allowed to be happy after what she's done."
"Because I'm happy doesn't mean that I'm not sorry. Or that I've forgotten."
"That's what's confused me. You are sorry. I wasn't prepared for that."
Kate got up slowly. "You can decide now how this is going to end. But whatever option you take please believe me – I am so, so, sorry."
He stared at her. She held out her hand. "Give me that gun Martin."
Nick leaned on the bonnet of Oscar's car watching his colleagues systematically searching Kate's abandoned motor. James stood next to Nick ready to grab him when he fell over.
Suddenly two figures emerged onto the bridge from the railway below. Nick stiffened, stood up straight. Phil,Alf and Oscar abandoned the car and turned to face the two figures.
Kate walked forward slowly and gave Oscar Blaketon the handgun.
"His name is Martin Russell," she said steadily. "His daughter Lydia Russell died as a result of a misdiagnosis made by me in a London hospital. When Martin's wife killed herself he came looking for revenge."
She walked past Oscar searching out Nick. She saw him, ran towards him and in the car headlights gasped when she saw his injuries.
"Oh God Nick!"
"Its fine, its fine." He held her tight. "Christ Kate I thought…"
"I know, I know." She pressed tightly against him as they watched the handcuffed Martin being bundled into Oscar's car.
"He's a mess Nick. He's not bad. He just wanted…he just wanted someone to say sorry.."
"You didn't have to say that Kate."
"I did! It came down to me Nick. It should have been said a long time ago. And now you're hurt.."
"Well." James cleared his throat. "I want you checked out properly before we decide that."
"Dr Rowan." Blaketon came over to her. "Are you all right?"
"Yes. Yes, I'm fine Sergeant."
He nodded gruffly. Looking at her he said, "You've done well tonight. Impressive."
As he walked off Nick managed a weak grin. "I think that's a compliment."
"Never mind that. Hospital for you now. What did he hit you with?"
"That wooden figure you keep in the living room."
Despite her ordeal and the severity of the situation, Kate's lips twitched. "Sorry.. But ….you've never liked that have you…."