Page 37 of Starlit Skies

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Her heart did a backflip as he squeezed her fingers.

“Right, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Sarah.” The doctor indicated the nurse farther down the room. “You shouldn’t stay too long.”

Skylar lifted her gaze from Nash’s for an instant. “Thank you…” She didn’t even know this young doctor’s name. “Thank you,” she said again, hoping to convey how much this meant to her. But he was already on his way out.

“How are you doing?” she asked softly.

“I’m magnificent, now that you’re here,” he replied, and her heart did two backflips this time. Everything was right once more, now that she was close to Nash again. As if her world had tipped on its axis while they’d been apart, and now her world was whole again.


MUCH LATER THAT night, Nash sat up in his hospital bed. Skylar was sitting quietly by his side. He wanted to reach out and take her hand, but resisted the urge. Because senior sergeant Robinson was staring at both of them. Nash didn’t want his boss to see that sort of PDA. It was hard enough to look strictly professional while he was wearing a hospital gown and sitting in a hospital bed, with Skylar was still dressed in her pyjamas and robe.

He was feeling better. The wonder drugs they were pumping into his body were doing the trick. He couldn’t actually remember a lot about this morning’s rescue. All he really remembered was pain. Like his whole body was bathed in boiling-hot lava, and it was burning him from the inside out. And Skylar. He remembered her touch; her face coming close to his, telling him he was going to be all right. And he’d believed her. Clung to her presence.

He’d been released from intensive care a few hours ago and been given a private room. Skylar had been at his bedside ever since, refusing to leave. Her mother, Daniella, had hovered around, coming and going. She was now sitting in the visitor’s chair in the corner. Skylar had told her she could stay on one condition, and that was she didn’t say a word. So far, Daniella had kept her promise.

“After we spotted the helicopter, and we discovered that you were missing, we widened the search, sending volunteers to all parts of the park accessible by road,” Robinson said, and hismouth turned down as he frowned. “You have to understand, the messages coming in were garbled at best. We had reports of shots being fired, but we weren’t sure why or what had happened. The dispatcher only got part of your message, Nash. At first, she had no idea if it was a hoax or not. When we tried to get your location off your phone’s GPS, it was no longer online. It must’ve been smashed in the crash.” Robinson scrubbed a hand over his face. “There was a lot of confusion, which is one reason it took us a while to find the wreck site. Then, when you weren’t at the site, we thought you become dazed and confused and had just wandered off.”

“Which is probably exactly what the gunman wanted you to think,” Nash replied meditatively.

“Yes.” The senior sergeant tapped his nose and captured Nash’s gaze with his. “But after Skylar filled us in on some of the details, I had two officers go back to the site. They found some discarded shell casings.”

“That’s good.” Nash nodded.

“Why is that good?” Skylar asked. She’d remained quiet up until this point, but he could see the beginnings of an indignant pout to her mouth. “Of course, there were shell casings. Why does he sound so surprised? Didn’t they believe us?” Skylar stood and crossed her arms. “Didn’t you believe me?” She stared directly at Robinson, and Nash winced inwardly. It was a pretty crazy story. If he hadn’t been intimately involved, he might’ve been skeptical, as well. He didn’t blame Robinson for checking the facts.

“Of course, they believed you,” Nash said, taking Skylar’s hand to console her, and then immediately regretting his move when his boss’s gaze flickered to their joined hands and then back up to his face.

“Anyway,” Robinson continued, ignoring Skylar’s interruption. “We haven’t located the rifle yet. But I’ve got a guy with a metal detector going on-site tomorrow morning.”

Again, Nash nodded. If they could find the gun, that’d be the hard evidence they needed. “No sign of the suspect, then?”

“No,” Robinson admitted. “But we’re trying to find the pilot of the helicopter that shot you down, as well as following up on the lead Skylar gave us. That guy slipped up when he mentioned his brother was called Stan the Man. Someone will know who that is; it’s only a matter of time before we find him.”

“Yes, but how much time?” Daniella said, finally entering the conversation. She’d clearly come to the end of her patience. Her promise to Skylar forgotten in the heat of the mounting questions burning on her tongue. “Because I’m assuming that my daughter isn’t safe while that man is still out there? Am I correct?”

Daniella’s shrewd mind didn’t miss much.

Robinson shifted on the spot, uncomfortable with the question. “Well, now, we still don’t know who the target was, exactly,” Robinson admitted. “We think it most likely they were after Senior Constable King. We’re going through his list of convictions right now, trying to narrow down any suspects who have a grudge against him.”

Daniella said nothing, merely tapped her foot impatiently on the linoleum floor.

“But we can’t rule out Skylar as the target, either,” Robinson added.

“I haven’t got any enemies, apart from Dan Sanders,” Skylar scoffed. “And I told you that he threatened me again at the court case,” she added.

“I know…” Robinson started to say, but Skylar wasn’t finished.

“And if it is Dan, then aren’t we both targets?” she asked, hands on hips, gaze shooting between Nash and the senior sergeant.

“We don’t know. It’s all conjecture at the moment. Perhaps that gunman was after both of you. Or it might’ve been the pilot they wanted, and they were just tying up loose ends, getting rid of any witnesses when they went after you,” Robinson replied. But Nash caught something in the sarge’s countenance that made him frown. Like there was something he wasn’t telling them; a piece of information he was holding back. Nash knew better than to question his boss in front of Skylar and Daniella, however.

“Well, that’s not good enough,” Daniella huffed. “We need answers, because I want to know that when I bring my daughter home, she’ll be safe.”

“That’s the thing, Mrs. Williams.” Robinson stroked his chin, a sign that Nash was familiar with. It meant bad news was coming. “I haven’t told Skylar this yet, but she’ll probably need to go into protective custody, at least for a while. As will the senior constable,” he added as an afterthought.

Nash understood on some level that it was probably inevitable, but he still felt a flash of frustration at the news.

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