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Thread: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

  1. #25

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 24 - "The Promise"

    Sheridan woke up in the middle of the night and called to Julian. "I think I'm going to need help getting up. It's getting harder and harder for me to be able to stand."

    "Sure, just let me get myself up first," he responded. She could hear him grimacing to stand. His ribs were still hurting him. She could barely see him in the tiny bit of light that was coming from above.

    Julian walked over toward Sheridan and bent down, grabbing onto her arms. He pulled her up gently. "There you go," he said.

    "Thanks," she replied gratefully. "Pregnant women do need to use the restroom a lot."

    "Some restroom," Julian complained. "Merely a hole dug in the corner of this blasted pit."

    "It's better now that you hung the blanket up on those pipes sticking out of the sides of the pit. It makes a nice curtain," Sheridan said.

    "Too bad those pipes weren't higher," Julian grumbled. "Then we could have climbed out of here."

    "I don't think either one of us is in any kind of shape to climb out now," Sheridan said. "We are kind of a sorry lot, aren't we?"

    "Yes, I guess we are," he agreed, rubbing his right side.

    After Sheridan used the makeshift latrine, she eased herself back onto the cushion on the opposite side of the pit. Julian walked over and sat down beside her. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

    "Pretty good for 36 weeks gestation," she joked. "Really, Julian, I'm fine. But I certainly hope Luis finds us soon. The last thing I want is for my baby to be born in this awful place."

    "How much time do you have left? Four weeks?"

    Sheridan nodded. "Anywhere from two to six weeks is normal, they say."

    "No problem, then," Julian assured her. "Luis will definitely find us by then."

    "Are you sure?" she asked, worry creeping into her voice.

    "He'll find us, Sheridan. If there's one thing I know about Luis Lopez- Fitzgerald, it's that he never gives up. The man's a bloodhound when it comes to searching for you. Why in Bermuda..." he stopped, realizing his own part in what had befallen Sheridan on that island. Julian sighed and began to choke back tears.

    "What about Bermuda? Julian, what's wrong?" Sheridan asked, concerned that her brother was so emotional. She had never seen him like this before.

    Julian shook his head and did not answer her. He was suddenly overwhelmed with guilt.

    "Bermuda," Sheridan said, deep in thought. "Luis always suspected you had something to do with the boat explosion. I was never sure."

    Julian turned to face his sister. "Sheridan," he began, "there is so much I am sorry for. What happened in Bermuda is one of the lowest points in my life. I was a monster, an ogre. I had no soul." He stopped, unable to go on.

    "You mean you were involved?" Sheridan asked, tears forming in her eyes. "My own brother tried to..."

    "Sheridan, listen to me," Julian said, finding his voice once more. "I can't make it up to you - the terrible things I've done for Father. There's no way I can. That explosion led to you and Luis being separated for a year..."

    "And to me being married to Antonio, instead of Luis. Oh my God, Julian! You were behind everything terrible that has happened in my life in the last two years!"

    "I have no excuse," he said. "I just want you to know I am truly, truly sorry for what I have done."

    "You tried to kill me!" she cried. "My own brother and my father wanted me dead!" The tears began to flow from her eyes. She put her head down in her hands and sobbed freely.

    "Sheridan, I want you to know one thing: I love you. You're my little sister. I will not do anything to hurt you again," Julian declared, putting his arms around her lowered shoulders.

    Sheridan pulled back, pushing his arms away with her hands, and continued to sob. "How can I believe that - when you tried to kill me?!"

    "I'm not the man I was then, Sheridan. Thank God. That man is dead, for all intensive purposes. Your brother is back. The brother who played tag with you when you were little, do you remember that? The brother who promised our mother..." He stopped, thinking of the promise he had made to their mother before she died.

    "What did you promise our mother?" Sheridan asked, looking at him through her tears.

    "I promised her I would take care of you," he said. "It was right before she died. She asked me to look out for you, and I said I would. I've done a terrible job of that up until this point, obviously."

    Sheridan wiped her tear-stained face and considered Julian's words. Her brother had just admitted that he had once tried to kill her, but he also had declared that he was a changed man, vowing to take care of her. Which was the real Julian?

    Julian hesitantly reached out and patted Sheridan's shoulder with his right hand. This time she didn't pull away. "I don't blame you if you never forgive me. I can't forgive myself for what I've done. Just know this - I will never hurt you again. I will do everything I can to protect you, in this pit and out. I'll give my life for you, Sheridan. I owe you that, and so much more."

    Sheridan looked into her brother's eyes once more. "I believe you, Julian. For some crazy reason, I do believe that you'll do what you can to protect me. You've already shown that, here in this pit. You tried to find me and were so desperate to get to me when I screamed that you rushed on in, without calling Luis. And when you tried to escape the other day, your first concern was for me."

    "I will keep my promise to our mother, finally," Julian said. "I'm just so sad that it took this long for me to say that - to try to do that. Our mother's been gone so many years."

    "Since I was a small child," Sheridan said, wiping her eyes once more. "Julian, you obviously have changed, completely, since I was in Bermuda. What happened to cause it?"

    "I suppose a lot of things," he said slowly. "When everyone thought I was dead, I was hiding out. I think I realized then what a mess I had made of my life. The whole town wanted me dead, even..."

    "Even who, Julian?" Sheridan asked, sitting up straighter.

    "Even the woman I love," he replied. "I was such a jerk to her. I threatened to expose our past. I don't blame her for wishing I was dead."

    "The two of you must have had some stormy relationship these past few years," Sheridan said, in a lighter tone of voice.

    "It's never been smooth. If there's one thing I can say about our relationship, it's that there's always a lot of passion between the two of us."

    "Kind of like me and Luis, in the beginning," Sheridan suggested. "We always argued. We got into it something fierce. But underneath all of that, there was a whole lot of passion - and love."

    "My love for this woman has something to do with the change in me," he admitted. "It was during that terrible time that I realized how much I still indeed loved her."

    "I can tell how much," Sheridan said. "She must be one special lady."

    "The best," Julian agreed. "And she's not the only one who helped me change. Little Timmy had a lot to do with it as well."

    "Timmy? You mean Tabitha's grandnephew?" Sheridan asked in surprise.

    "Yes," Julian said, lowering his head in sadness. "Timmy and I came across one another when I was hiding out. He and I had some great adventures together. He really made me see the good in life, and what I was doing wrong."

    "Then poor Timmy died," Sheridan said, putting her hand on Julian's. "I'm sorry; I had no idea the two of you were close."

    "His death hit me hard," Julian admitted. "I was really out of it for awhile. Then everything kind of came together to slap me in the face and make me see myself for who I was. I didn't like what I saw."

    "You have made some awful mistakes, Julian. You've done some really terrible things. I'm just glad that even this late in life, you decided to change. You have turned your life around."

    "I'm trying," he confessed. "But I realize there is so much I still need to atone for, especially with you. I think maybe fate - my God, I am sounding like Theresa now - but I really do believe that fate led me to you here in this pit."

    Sheridan smiled and laid her head on her brother's shoulder. "I'm not sure whether it was fate, or God, or pure chance that brought you here, but I am just glad you're here, Julian."

    With that, Julian knew that he was forgiven. He couldn't believe how truly special his sister was. He was now more determined than ever to keep the promise he had made long ago to their dying mother...

  2. #26

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 25 - "Julian's Vow"

    The next morning, Luis went into Sam's office to talk to him in private about both missing person cases. He shut the door behind him.

    "I don't know what we're missing," Luis said. "But I'm sure we're right about Julian Crane not being in that car when it went over the cliff."

    "There's just got to be some piece of evidence that will back up our theory, something we aren't seeing," Sam stated. "Let's go over the facts in this case again."

    Luis sat down in the chair opposite of Sam's desk. "Well, we have the missing person's report that Rebecca Hotchkiss filed on Julian Crane the day before the accident. She actually had not seen Crane since the day before that. The last time she saw him, he was watching a video in his bedroom, and apparently not a G-rated video, if you get my drift." Luis let out a laugh.

    "Figures," Sam said, shaking his head. Then, becoming serious once more, he said, "Go on."

    "We know that Julian Crane's car was missing from in front of the mansion. His cell phone was apparently on him at the time, but he didn't answer any of Rebecca's calls. He wasn't seen by anyone from 3 o'clock that afternoon on. I checked all the hotels in the area, the airport, the bus station, everywhere. There was no report of Julian Crane being in the area. None. He didn't take the Crane jet, and you know he doesn't fly without it."

    "So Julian wasn't off having fun," Sam deduced.

    "He even missed several important business meetings during this time. Alistair was really ticked off at him, according to someone who works at Crane Industries. Just today, Alistair called the station and urged us to find Julian."

    "You're kidding!" Sam exclaimed, his eyes wide in surprise. "I never thought I'd see the day when Alistair Crane would be begging us for help."

    "Steve talked to him," Luis said. "I guess he didn't want to speak to me - the bastard. He knew I would get on him about his lack of interest in Sheridan's disappearance, not to mention what he had Antonio do to me and Sheridan. I'm sure my bastard of a brother already informed that snake about what he told me."

    "If he did, he'd be putting his life in danger," Sam said. "Alistair doesn't take kindly to people betraying him."

    "I don't really care about that," Luis admitted. "Let Alistair go after him. He deserves whatever he gets."

    Sam looked at Luis sympathetically. "Maybe someday you and Antonio will be able to straighten out your differences, but right now let's focus on the case before us. We've gone over the background information. How about the physical evidence?"

    Luis opened the file and reviewed his notes. "We have a witness who says they saw a dark-colored sports car go over the side of the cliff just outside of town at around 10 p.m. on the night of the accident. The witness called police. Several officers arrived on the scene within minutes, including myself. We were able to call divers in almost immediately. No body was found, but the sports car was recovered. It suffered heavy damage in the wreck. There was nothing unusual found within the car, except for a piece of driftwood."

    "Driftwood!" Sam exclaimed, sitting up suddenly in his seat. "That's it!"

    "What's it?" Luis asked. "I thought the driftwood simply floated in the open window."

    "No!" Sam said, "That's what we were led to believe. The driftwood's the key to this whole thing. It's our missing puzzle piece!"

    "Another day in this damn sinkhole," Julian said when he awoke the next morning and began stretching. "This makes five for me, and what? Nineteen for you?" he asked Sheridan.

    His sister nodded. "Almost three weeks. I don't know how much more of this I can take." She tried to stand up, but was finding it more and more difficult to do this late in her pregnancy.

    "Here, let me help you," Julian said. He got up as quickly as his injured ribs would allow and made his way over to where Sheridan was sitting. He helped pull her up by her arms.

    "It feels good just to stand up," Sheridan said. "We really do need to exercise more, Julian. Why don't we walk around the pit in circles for a little bit?"

    "Just what I've always wanted to do," Julian said sarcastically. Then, seeing that she was serious, he agreed. "Sure, why not? It's not like there is anything better to do."

    The two walked around the edge of their confine until they felt they could not go any farther. "That was a good work-out," Sheridan admitted. "It's important for me to stay in shape for the baby's sake."

    "Then by all means, I shall join you everyday in this endeavor," Julian joked. "I think I need to wash up now, however." He walked over to the side of the pit where there was a bowl filled with water and a bar of soap.

    Julian eased out of his unbuttoned shirt and washed off with the water and soap. The water felt like ice to his skin, but he continued to wash up. He was careful not to get the bandage wet. When he had done a satisfactory job of washing the upper half of his body, he brushed his teeth. "A guy could get used to all the amenities in this hotel," he quipped.

    "They do make sure we have the basics," Sheridan agreed. "I think it's because they knew they would be keeping us for a long time - or me for a long time. They probably didn't want me to have to see a dentist down here!"

    "If they were so concerned about your oral health, you would think they would be concerned about your mental health too - and let you go! This place would drive anyone bonkers. I'm surprised you haven't snapped."

    "I'm sure I would have if you hadn't arrived, Julian," Sheridan admitted, walking over to wash up. Washing her face, she turned to add, "I've told you this before - you keep me sane down here."

    "I don't know how you lasted so long alone in this hellhole," Julian said. "Lord knows, I wouldn't."

    "I guess I just have so much faith in Luis," she said. "I knew he wouldn't give up. And if he didn't, how could I?" She went on to brush her teeth as well.

    Sheridan and Julian then went to sit on the cushion, which during the day had become a sort of couch for them, and at night was Sheridan's bed. Crossing her legs in front of her, Sheridan leaned back against the wall and sighed. "I have been so tired lately. I just really want to go home."

    "And we will, Sheridan - soon," said Julian, placing his hand on her arm. "I just feel so helpless not knowing what these people are after. I'm used to knowing everybody's angle in the business world, but here, I have no clue as to what is really going on. It's hard to fight when you don't know what the game plan is."

    "Well, it's not money they're after," Sheridan said. "We already know that. They don't seem to be sadistic serial killers either - at least they haven't tried to kill us yet. We know it's me they were after. What do I have that they could possibly want?"

    Julian shrugged, "I don't really know." As he said it, a thought suddenly crept into his head - a thought that had been simmering down in his subconscious for quite sometime. He knew one thing that Sheridan had - something invaluable - something that these evil women in clown garb might actually be after. "Dear Lord, please don't let it be that," he thought. "Anything but that."

    Outwardly he smiled and patted her arm. "No matter what, Sheridan, we'll get through this together." While inside, Julian tried to shrug off the chill that had suddenly come over him. What was he going to do if they tried to take Sheridan's baby? How was he going to be able to protect his sister and her child? He made a silent vow right then to do anything he could to prevent such a travesty from happening.

  3. #27

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 26 - "Wrath of TC"

    Eve stood behind her kitchen counter, chopping onions for a salad. Her mind drifted back to the conversation she had with Luis the day before. She was so thrilled when Luis told her that there was a good chance Julian was still alive. In her heart she had hoped this was the case, but she was never completely sure. Now she had the faith and belief that she would get to see Julian again. She couldn't wait until they were reunited. She pictured running to him, arms wide open, eagerly planting a welcome home kiss on his warm lips...

    Just then, TC entered the kitchen. Eve shook her head as her mind bounced back to reality. "You've got to watch where your thoughts go, Eve," she told herself. "You've got to stay in control."

    "What's up, sweetheart?" TC asked, walking over to the counter. "You looked like you were a million miles away just now."

    "I was," Eve said, smiling at her husband, "but I'm back now."

    "And you sure seem to be in a good mood too," he said, grinning at her. "Maybe you're in the mood for some romance this afternoon. Simone's out of the house, and we both have all day."

    "Not right now, TC. I have this salad to fix and, and I'm really kind of tired."

    "Oh, all right, maybe tonight then," he said. "You haven't been feeling too good lately, I know."

    "That's true," Eve answered, "but I'm feeling so much better now." She picked up some carrots to peel.

    "I can say that I'm feeling pretty good myself, what with Julian Crane's accident. I just wish they'd hurry up and find his body. What I want more than anything in this world is to see that bastard in a coffin."

    "TC, that's cruel," Eve lashed out. "You should never want to see anyone dead."

    "And I don't, not anyone else - well, maybe that punk Chad. He and Julian Crane don't deserve to breathe the same air we breathe. I really think Julian's accident was God's way of ridding the world of a leech, a parasite that was feeding on our town and sucking the life out of it."

    Eve began chopping up the carrots. "I know you've always blamed Julian for your accident, TC. Still, that's no reason to wish anyone dead. Julian's actually done a lot of good for Harmony recently. Remember all the charity donations?"

    "Those were Theresa's donations. Julian had nothing to do with it," TC countered. "Why are you always defending the guy?"

    Eve put the knife down and looked at her husband. "I suppose we don't agree on everything," she said finally.

    TC shook his head. "You need to see that bastard for what he really is. He's pond scum, and I can't wait to spit on his grave."

    "I don't think you'll get that chance, TC," Eve said, her face brightening with a smile she couldn't hold back. "I don't believe they'll ever find a body. I think Julian is still alive."

    "If by some crazy chance he is, it won't be for long," TC spat. "I'm enjoying the reports of his untimely demise so much; maybe I'll have to make it a permanent thing." With that, he walked to the kitchen doorway.

    Turning around, TC looked back at Eve. Her eyes met his. "I don't know what's come over you with this change in attitude about Julian Crane. That was something we both always agreed on. I hope you're not softening your opinion on the jerk just because of some charity donations or hospital deeds. The man is a pig. He's either already in hell, or he's on the fast track there." He walked out of the kitchen on those final words.

    Eve considered what TC had said. "I've got to be more careful with what I say," she realized. "TC can't find out about my feelings for Julian. If he does, he will surely kill him. My marriage won't be the only thing that is dead."

    She put the salad in the refrigerator and shut the door. Eve paused for a minute by the refrigerator and closed her eyes. "Wherever you are, Julian, I pray you're safe," she said.

    Julian picked up his bottle of water and took a drink. "Eve, I hope you know I'm OK," he thought. "I wouldn't want you to worry." His mind flashed back to their recent kiss. He smiled in a dreamy sort of way.

    "I can tell who's on your mind," Sheridan said, laughing.

    Julian looked up, startled for a moment. "You can, can you?" he asked, recovering. "I was just thinking about business. I've really missed out on a lot of meetings while I have been down here. Crane Industries can't run itself, you know."

    "Oh, sure, sure," Sheridan joked. "I get that same look on my face when I'm balancing the checkbook."

    Julian took another drink from his water bottle. "And just where has your mind wandered to recently, sister dear? When I looked your way a couple of minutes ago, you had this sappy grin all over your face."

    "I did not!" she exclaimed, smiling. "I never look sappy, Julian."

    "I'll have to ask Luis about that, the next time I see him," Julian said.

    Sheridan sobered at the sound of her lover's name. "I sure hope you get that chance, Julian," she said. "I sure hope we get to see Luis again real soon."

    "You'll never see that boyfriend of yours again. Never!" bellowed a voice from above.

    Julian and Sheridan looked up to see Charlie, wearing her clown mask, leaning over the pit.

    "You're scaring the poor girl," Julian said. "Can't you see she's pregnant?"

    "Oh, I know she's pregnant," Charlie roared. "If she wasn't, she wouldn't be here!" She let out a hideous laugh. Then, looking at Julian, she said, "Hey, Mr. Rich, I wanted to show you my new toy I've got. Look here."

    Charlie waved a brand new rifle over the edge of the pit. "Isn't it a beaut? I just got it today. So in case you're planning another escape attempt - well, I wouldn't," she laughed, aiming the rifle straight at Julian.

    The psychotic woman pulled back on the trigger. Julian jumped in shock, while Sheridan let out a scream. The rifle made a small sound, but no bullet was fired. The chamber was empty!

    "HA, HA, HA, HA! I got you on that one," Charlie laughed evilly, lowering her weapon. "Next time the rifle will be loaded though. I hope you won't be foolish enough to try another escape attempt!" Charlie roared with laughter again and left the basement.

    Sheridan turned to Julian, still in shock. "My God, I thought she was really going to shoot you."

    Julian let out a deep breath. "So did I, Sheridan." He wiped the sweat off of his brow. "It looks like these women really do mean business."

    "They bought a rifle; it's scary," Sheridan agreed, stepping closer to her brother. "Julian, what do you think she meant when she said I wouldn't be here if I weren't pregnant? What was she talking about?"

    Julian noticed the fear in his sister's eyes and tried to calm her down. "I think she's just talking nonsense," he said. "She's trying to throw us off the trail of what's really going on."

    "Do you really believe that?" Sheridan asked, alarm still in her voice. "I mean, what if she - Oh, my God!" she cried, "Ohhhh!"

    "Sheridan, what is it?" Julian asked anxiously, rushing over to his sister's side as she doubled over in pain.

    "I...I think I'm in labor!" Sheridan cried, still hunched over and fighting back the tears of pain. "Oh my God, the baby's coming!"

  4. #28

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 27 - "The Real Thing"

    Luis looked at Sam, completely taken aback at his response. "What's so important about the driftwood, Sam? I don't get it."

    "Luis, it's the missing clue we were searching for. The one that proves the whole accident was rigged!"

    "OK, you lost me there," said Luis, looking down at his notes. "It just says there was a piece of driftwood in the car. Everyone thought it floated in there."

    "That's what they wanted us to think!" Sam said enthusiastically. "Luis, if you're going to send a car over a cliff - with nobody inside it - what do you need?"

    Luis thought for a second and then smiled in excitement. "Something to hold the accelerator down!"

    "That's right!" Sam cried. "Our piece of driftwood!"

    "My, my," Luis said, rubbing his chin with his hand. "Whoever's behind this sure was crafty there. A piece of driftwood is the last thing we would expect to be hard evidence."

    "Exactly! Because it's natural in the setting," Sam agreed. "They simply rolled the window down and let everyone think the piece of wood floated into the car."

    "And to think our biggest piece of evidence could easily have been lost or disregarded," Luis realized.

    "Which I'm sure the kidnappers wanted," Sam said. "Thank goodness you and the boys were thorough on this, Luis."

    "That's got to be it, Sam. We both expected that this was staged - now we know how it was physically possible."

    "We just need to decide who was behind this," Luis continued, looking intently at his boss. "Was it Julian, trying to fake his death, or was it the work of some kidnappers, who are holding him?"

    "I vote for the kidnapper theory," Sam said. "There is too much that doesn't seem right about Julian being behind this. It just seems like he disappeared for no reason."

    "Well, you know I wouldn't put it past him," Luis said, an angry look creeping onto his face. "But I think I'm inclined to agree with you here. There's too much else going on that points to him being kidnapped."

    "Are you talking about Sheridan?" Sam asked.

    Luis nodded sadly. "Two Cranes missing at the same's just too weird. I believe someone kidnapped Sheridan after she left the grounds of the estate that night. I think someone has them both - someone who found it was easier to take Sheridan, but later got their hands on Julian as well."

    "So now all we need to figure out is who was behind this," Sam said slowly. "That's going to be tough."

    "The Cranes have so many enemies," Luis said. "Alistair and Julian are such bastards when it comes to business. So help me if anything happens to Sheridan because of those two..." He stopped, getting choked up over the thought of something bad befalling the woman he loved.

    "We'll find her, Luis," Sam said soothingly. "We'll get her back."

    "She's pregnant though, Sam," Luis said, tears forming in his eyes. "What if, God forbid, she goes into labor? What if she has the baby while she's being held?"

    Sam got up from his seat, walked over to Luis, and placed a hand on his shoulder. "We'll find her before that happens; I promise."

    Luis put his head in his hands and sobbed. "If anything happens to Sheridan or our baby..."

    Julian grabbed hold of Sheridan's arm with his hands. She was still doubled over in pain. "Are all right, dear? You have me scared."

    Sheridan slowly stood up, grimacing. " had to be a contraction. I'm in labor, Julian!"

    "Are you sure?" her brother asked, concern written all over his face. "Maybe it was just the fear of that blasted rifle that did it. Maybe you're not really in labor."

    Sheridan shook her head. "The pain was too intense. It has to be it. What am I going to do?" Tears flowed freely down her cheeks.

    "Maybe you should sit down," Julian said kindly. "Here, let me help you over to the cushion." He led her slowly by the hand and gently helped her sit down.

    Sheridan eased herself back against the wall and sat there, her hands rubbing her stomach.

    "Is that better?" Julian asked nervously. "Do you think you're all right now?"

    "I don't feel any more pain right now," Sheridan said. "But then labor pains come and go in the beginning. They're not supposed to be real frequent."

    "Let's hope it wasn't really labor," Julian said, kneeling down beside his sister. "Isn't there some kind of false labor pains that women have?"

    Sheridan nodded. "It's called Braxton-Hicks. It could have been that, I guess. It was just so intense..."

    Julian let out a sigh. "I bet that was it then. You're going to be OK."

    "I sure hope so," Sheridan said, her eyes still revealing the fear she felt at the idea of being in labor. "It's too soon for me to have this baby - four weeks too soon!"

    "You'll have this child when it's due, in a hospital, with Luis at your side," Julian promised. "Don't think otherwise." Silently, he prayed that that would be the case.

    "I can't have my baby down here!" Sheridan cried. "Not in this horrible pit, without medical care. My gosh, what would happen if I really was in labor? Who would deliver this baby - you?!"

    Julian took a deep breath. "Please God, don't let it come to that," he thought. To Sheridan he said in a comforting tone, "We Cranes are good at just about anything. If it comes to that, I'm ready. But it won't. That baby of yours is going to wait until the right time. You'll see."

    "I hope you're right about that, Julian," she said. "Maybe I was just upset about the rifle, and about what that woman said." Her mind drifted back to Charlie's sinister words. "Julian, what did she mean when she said that I am only here because I am pregnant? She...she doesn't want to do anything to my baby - she can't!" Sheridan cried.

    "I won't let anything happen to your baby, Sheridan," Julian said softly, placing his arm around her shoulder. "I promise you that."

    Sheridan's worried look lifted a little, and she smiled at her brother. "That's so sweet of you, Julian."

    "I mean every word of it," he swore.

    "I can tell you do," she said warmly. "We've come such a long way these past few days..."

    "I know," Julian admitted.

    "If someone had told me a month ago that you would be comforting me like this, I would say they were crazy!"

    Julian smiled. "I think we both have surprised each other - in a good way."

    "In the best way!" Sheridan agreed. "Julian, I want to thank you for everything you've done for me since we've been down here."

    "It's not necessary," he said, shifting uncomfortably. "Anyone would have done what I'm doing."

    "That's not true," Sheridan argued. "You've gone above and - oh no!" Again, a wave of sharp pain hit Sheridan in the abdomen. She hunched forward, crying out in agony.

    "Sheridan, my God, what is it? Are you having another contraction?"

    "Yes!" she screamed in pain. "Julian, this is the real thing! It's not false labor. My baby's coming!"

  5. #29

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 28 - "Labor Pains"

    Julian sat with a shocked look on his face, unsure of what to do. "Sheridan, are you all right?" he asked anxiously, placing his hand on her shoulder.

    His sister was sitting on the cushion, doubled over in pain. "It - it's definitely labor," she said, her eyes squeezed shut tightly.

    "What can I do?" Julian asked, the color draining from his face.

    Sheridan raised her head slowly and opened her eyes. "I don't know," she said, her voice shaky. Then she took a deep breath. "It's gone now."

    "They were about 15 minutes apart," Julian observed, looking at his watch. "They need to get you to the hospital. Where are those blasted clowns anyway?" He stood up and walked over to the center of the pit.

    Julian began shouting at the top of his lungs for the kidnappers, but there was no response. He turned his attention back to Sheridan. "It's going to be all right," he said, trying to give her the reassurance she needed. "They'll come soon, and they'll get you the help you need. I'm sure they're not the monsters they seem to be..."

    "I don't know, Julian," Sheridan said. "They haven't let me out yet; why would they now?"

    Julian knelt back down beside his sister. "No matter what, I'm here," he said in a comforting tone. "You're not alone."

    "Thank God for that," Sheridan replied, tears flowing down her cheeks. She grabbed his hand and held onto it. "I need my big brother now."

    Minutes turned into hours. Sheridan's contractions increased in frequency and intensity. Her water broke during this time. Julian put a blanket on the cushion. He then covered Sheridan with another blanket as she prepared herself for the impending birth. She lay back down on the cushion, exhausted, with the blanket pulled up to her midsection.

    Julian stayed by her side during each of her contractions, putting his hand on hers and at times wiping the sweat from her brow with his handkerchief. He looked back over his shoulder toward the top of the pit. "Where are those stupid clowns?" he wondered. "Why haven't they checked on us since this afternoon?"

    Sheridan and Julian normally were visited by the larger of their two abductors toward evening. She had yet to show. "Stupid woman," he scowled. "She probably is off playing with that damn rifle somewhere."

    He turned his attention once more to Sheridan. "Would you like some water, dear?" he asked. When she nodded, he opened a bottle of water and gave her a few sips.

    Sheridan drank the water eagerly. "Thanks," she said. "I feel so hot."

    "I am trying to do what I can for you," he said. "I don't know much about any of this, really," he admitted.

    "You're trying, Julian," she said, giving him a tired smile. "That's all I can ask for." She lapsed into another contraction.

    "They're getting closer," Julian said nervously, squeezing her hand tightly in his. "Six minutes apart now."

    Just then a figure appeared at the top of the pit. It was the large woman with the clown mask. She looked down at the duo in the pit. For a moment, she was speechless. "What - what the heck's going on?" she asked finally, without accompanying her remark with her usual laugh.

    "My sister is in labor," Julian explained quickly. "And you need to get her to a hospital fast."

    Charlie snickered loudly. "I don't think so, Mr. Rich," she declared. "Blondie's staying right here."

    "You don't understand," he said. "She needs a doctor; she's in labor. The contractions aren't far apart. She's much too early. This baby will be born prematurely."

    "She looks far enough along to me," Charlie said, surmising the situation. "I think the baby'll make it."

    "What are you going to do about it? How are you going to help her? Look at her! She needs a doctor."

    "You'll have to do," Charlie said, shrugging. "Hey, I was delivered at home. I turned out OK."

    "This isn't exactly a home - it's a pit," Julian said. "And I'm no midwife, or Aunt Martha for that matter."

    "It was Aunt Sarah," Charlie said, thinking back to her childhood. "I hated the lady too. She was a blonde."

    Julian held up his hands and sighed. "You're not going to do anything for her then? My sister is in labor, prematurely, and having a rough time of it, and you have planned for nothing!"

    "What would you expect I do?" Charlie asked. "Look at the animal world. None of them go to a hospital to have a baby."

    "This is not an animal we are talking about," Julian said calmly, but with a hint of anger. "It is my sister. She is in agony over there! Can't you see that? Now I would like for you to come up with a plan - immediately! You need to think of a way to help her."

    Charlie shrugged. "I guess I could go speak to my partner about this."

    "Well, why don't you go do that?" Julian said, his anger seething just below the surface. "Idiot," he muttered under his breath.

    He turned his attention back to Sheridan once more and headed over to the cushion. She looked up at him. Her eyes were full of fear.

    "Don't worry," Julian said. "It's going to be all right. They'll do something about it. You'll see."

    Sheridan called out in pain yet again, even louder than before. "They're...getting...worse!" she cried, out of breath.

    Julian heard the sound of someone running above him. He looked up and saw both of his abductors, faces hidden behind their masks.

    "Are you sure she's in labor?" Beth whispered to Charlie.

    "Well, look at her!" Charlie exclaimed. "What do you think we should do?"

    "I thought you were going to deliver the baby, Charlie. You said you would," Beth said quietly. "Charlie, you have delivered babies before, haven't you?"

    "Well, not exactly," Charlie admitted. "You see, I never really worked in a delivery room, but I have watched people giving birth on TV."

    "Well, why on earth did you make me think you could deliver a baby? Charlie, this is serious!" Beth whispered more loudly than before.

    "I would have tried to do it, Bethie, if it weren't for Blondie's brother there. But now, what would we do with him while I'm down there trying to help Sheridan give birth? It's not like I can point the rifle at him the whole time I'm trying to catch the baby, and I don't think you could keep a weapon on him, for what could be hours."

    "Then what do you suggest?" Beth asked nervously.

    "I think we should let Blondie's brother do it," Charlie said. "Why not? He's halfway through it already."

    "I suppose so," Beth agreed hesitantly. "We'll have to send some things down to him of course - water, towels, that sort of stuff."

    "Sounds good to me, Bethie," Charlie said, putting her arm around Beth's shoulder.

    Beth moved out from under Charlie's arm. "Let's go round up the stuff."

    During the kidnappers' conversation, Julian had been tending to his sister, whose contractions were now five minutes apart. When he looked up and realized the abductors were gone, he couldn't believe it. "Hey!" he yelled. "We need an ambulance - fast!"

    His pleas went unheard as Beth and Charlie rummaged through the house getting the necessary supplies.

    Sheridan moaned as she felt tremendous pain shoot through her body once more. Her hair was completely wet with sweat now. She was totally exhausted. "Julian," she said, "I don't know how much more of this I can take."

    "There, there, dear," Julian said, wiping sweat from her brow. "It won't be much longer. You're holding up really well. Just breathe, Sheridan. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly."

    Sheridan did as Julian directed and exhaled slowly. "You seem to know a little bit about childbirth," she said once the contraction had passed.

    "Well, I wasn't there for the births of any of my children, as you well know. I have had the opportunity to watch some deliveries on television, however. Those real-life medical programs are actually quite entertaining," he explained.

    Time continued to roll by with more and more contractions for Sheridan. Julian helped her focus and breathe through an especially painful one. "I can tell that was a particularly rough one. You did well, Sheridan."

    "Thank you, Julian," Sheridan said wearily. Her head fell back on the cushion in exhaustion. "It's too soon though...the baby...too soon."

    Julian grew more worried by the minute. He wet his handkerchief with the bottled water and laid it on Sheridan's forehead. Her body tightened with yet another contraction. "Come on, Luis," Julian thought. "Come on, anyone."

    A few minutes later, Beth and Charlie returned to the edge of the pit, their arms full of items for the birth. "Here you go!" Charlie called down. "Everything you need!" She tossed clean towels, blankets, and sheets down into the pit. Julian jumped up and caught what he could of the pile and put the items on his blanket.

    Beth put a lantern in the picnic basket and lowered it down by pulley. Julian grabbed the basket and removed the lantern. "Do you have matches to light it with?" he asked.

    Beth tossed him down a box of matches.

    "One match - we want the rest back!" Charlie yelled.

    Julian lit the lantern and tossed the matches back up to Charlie. He had more important things to do than argue over matches.

    He set the lantern near Sheridan. It would be getting dark soon, and they would need all the light they could get. Julian took a deep breath and assessed the situation. His sister was in pretty bad shape, he realized, and it looked like he was all she had.

    Sheridan cried out in pain once more, "Luis!" she called. "Get me Luis!"

    Julian put his hand on her forehead. "She's burning up!" he cried. Standing up, he looked around helplessly for something to help his sister. He knew a wet handkerchief was not enough. "She needs to get to the hospital, damn it!" he yelled to the abductors above. He got no reaction from them.

    Walking over to the center of the pit, Julian fell to his knees and placed his head in his hands. "I can't do it," he said in a defeated tone. "I don't have the strength to help her. God, please give me that strength. Help me do what I need to save my sister and her baby."

  6. #30

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 29 - "Julian's Request"

    Julian got up slowly from the floor of the pit, still overwhelmed with the prospect of being alone with Sheridan through her impending act of childbirth. He could not believe the situation that had befallen him - that he would have to deliver his sister's baby - here, in a place that was not even up to dungeon standards. He shook his head in disbelief. He was all Sheridan had, he knew. He must be strong and help see her through this. Somehow, God willing, he would manage.

    "Good to see you're not going to stay on the ground all day!" a voice bellowed from up above. Turning in the voice's direction, Julian eyed the larger of the two clowns peering down at him.

    "I sure wish that you would tell your boss - the mute one beside you - that we need to call an ambulance for Sheridan. Things are getting worse. She's in tremendous pain; you can tell. I'm really worried about her." Julian's voice revealed how deeply concerned he was.

    "My partner here is well aware of how Sheridan's doing," Charlie smirked. "There will be no ambulance for Blondie. You'll have to make do."

    Julian held his hands up in protest. "Do I look like a doctor? I know nothing about childbirth. If you care at all about this woman and her baby, you will get her out of this damn pit this instant and get her the help she needs."

    "Sorry, pal, it's you or the rats that'll deliver Blondie's baby. Take your pick." Charlie sneered. Then, grabbing Beth by the arm, she pulled her away from the edge of the pit to discuss the matter.

    "I don't like the looks of things," Beth said in a hushed voice. "Sheridan doesn't look well. I mean, I know I have never had a baby, but something seems wrong about this. Maybe it's because the baby is early."

    "What do you want to do, Beth? Risk everything by trying to take Sheridan to the hospital?"

    "No, we can't do that," Beth said. "This baby will have to be born right here. I just hope he or she makes it."

    "Oh, our baby's going to come out of this just fine, Bethie," Charlie said, putting her arm around Beth's shoulder. "You'll see. We'll have a feisty toddler running around the place in no time."

    Beth and Charlie headed back upstairs, leaving Julian completely alone with Sheridan. He had not had any luck picking up on what the revolting clowns were discussing. Julian turned his attention back to his sister.

    He wet his handkerchief once more and applied it to her forehead. She opened her eyes and looked at him wearily. "Thanks," she muttered softly.

    Julian smiled at her. "Looks like Dr. Julian will have to take better care of his patient," he said. "I'm sorry I left you for a moment."

    "Don't be," she said. "You have been doing all you can for me... I want to"

    Another contraction came on all of a sudden. Julian grabbed Sheridan's hand. "Breathe like you did before," he said. "Let it out in little bits."

    Sheridan followed his advice and breathed through the contraction in a way that helped her handle the pain. The contraction soon ended, and Sheridan lay back on the cushion once more, completely exhausted. "How...far apart?" she asked.

    "Still five minutes," Julian answered after checking his watch. He was grateful that the light from the lantern allowed him to see well enough to keep track of the timing of Sheridan's contractions. It was now almost dark outside; he could tell by the disappearing light from above.

    Time continued to slowly tick by. Julian stayed by Sheridan's side for several more hours, helping talk her through each contraction. The kidnappers kept coming to check on them every half hour or so, he noticed, but normally would not even say anything. They would simply peer into the pit, whisper to each other, and leave. Julian had given up on pleading for an ambulance. He knew it was useless.

    One thing that didn't change during those hours was the timing of Sheridan's contractions. They were still five minutes apart. From what little Julian knew of labor, he was aware that something did not seem quite right about that. Her labor did not seem to be progressing. "I know contractions are supposed to get close," he thought. "I've heard people talk about 'two minutes apart' and such. She's not even down to four after all this time."

    Sheridan too seemed worried, but she said very little. Her mind and body were completely and utterly exhausted. She closed her eyes in between her contractions, not having the energy to leave them open.

    Julian tried to talk soothingly to her, telling her that she was doing a good job, that Luis would be so proud of her right now, and that her baby would be born soon, and everything would be fine.

    "Luis..." Sheridan murmured. "If I don't make it...tell Luis..."

    "Sheridan, you're scaring me!" Julian cried. "Of course you're going to make it. Please don't talk like that."

    "I...don't know..." she said, in a voice that was barely audible. "I strange... I just want to rest."

    "Rest then, Sheridan," Julian said, trying to at once comfort his sister and urge her on. "Save your strength. You'll have more energy if you rest in between contractions."

    Tears welled up in Julian's eyes. He felt so bad for his sister. He would give anything to trade places with her right now. He was the one who deserved to be suffering. He was the one who had wronged his sister time and time again. "Don't leave me, Sheridan," he thought. "Not when I just got you back. I can't lose you too."

    Julian wiped the tears from his eyes. "Sheridan, hang on. You can do it," he said as he brushed the wet hair from her forehead.

    Sheridan's body was rocked with yet another contraction. After Julian had tenderly helped her breathe through it, he noted silently that the interval was still not changing. Sheridan's contractions remained five minutes apart. "I know something's wrong," he thought.

    Sensing her brother's thoughts, Sheridan opened her eyes and looked at Julian. "I think...the stress has hurt....the baby," she said in a voice now no louder than a whisper. "Dr. Russell said...the baby and I could....die...if we had...too much stress."

    Sheridan's statement hit Julian like a dagger through the heart. "Sheridan, I had no idea," he said. "I didn't know there were problems with your pregnancy."

    He quickly covered the devastation he was feeling from her words. "She can't see me worrying," he thought. To his sister, Julian remarked in as upbeat a tone as he could muster, "Everything's going to be all right, Sheridan. I just know it is."

    Sheridan did not hear his words, however. She had lapsed into unconsciousness.

    Julian noticed that her head had rolled to one side. "Sheridan," he said. Then in an alarmed voice he called out, "Sheridan! Wake up!" His sister had passed out, he realized.

    "My God, someone has to help her!" Julian shouted. He jumped up and turned his eyes toward the opening of the pit. He saw the two women in clown costumes staring down at him. "Well, don't just stand there - do something!" he cried.

    The abductors whispered to each other. He could not tell what they were saying. Julian grew more desperate as his heart raced with the urgency of the moment. "Please don't let my sister die!" he pleaded, "And the baby... Please don't let anything happen to that innocent baby." He remembered what Eve had gone through, losing their child. He would never wish that kind of pain on anyone else, especially his sister. What she had gone through these last couple of years! Most of it, because of him!

    The guilt, fear, and hopelessness of the situation made Julian cry out loudly, tears flowing freely down his face. "I can't lose my sister! I can't! Not now, not after we just found each other again!" His head dropped into his hands as he sobbed uncontrollably.

    Fighting back the sobs, he looked at the two kidnappers, his eyes pleading for help. "Sheridan is going to die! The baby is going to die...if we don't do something fast!"

    The kidnappers whispered to each other some more.

    Julian looked over at his unconscious sister and hung his head. "I promised Mother to look out for you," he cried. "I have done such a horrendous job of it so far... I was really trying this time... I was trying." He sank to his knees on the floor of the pit, sobbing.

    While his head was bowed down toward the ground, a thought suddenly crossed Julian's mind...a flash of hope. He beat it back. He did not want to go there. "No," he muttered to himself. "I can't do it... Anything but that."

    Julian slowly lifted his head and turned it once more to look at his sister. He wiped his eyes with his hands so that he could see her better. "If I don't ask, she's going to die...both she and the baby," he realized. "I can't let that happen. Please forgive me," he pleaded, closing his eyes tight.

    Julian stood up and faced the kidnappers. He lifted his head toward them. He had just made the most selfless decision of his life - and the most devastating. But it was Sheridan's only hope. "All right," he said to the two of them, mustering up all his courage for the words that needed to follow. "Since you won't take Sheridan to the hospital, can you at least bring her doctor to her? Can you get Dr. Russell and bring her to this pit?"

  7. #31

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 30 - "The Kidnapping"

    There was a moment of awkward silence as the two kidnappers considered Julian's request. His heart was racing during this entire time, and he was in turmoil - part of him wanting them to say no, while the other part hoping they would agree to his idea.

    Charlie looked into Beth's eyes peering through her clown mask. "We can't do that, right?" she asked in a hushed tone. "I'll tell him there's not a chance in hell we can bring that doctor here."

    "Wait, Charlie!" Beth whispered loudly, grabbing onto the other woman's arm. "Let's consider this for a minute. I need time to think."

    "I was sure you would be against it," Charlie said, surprised. "You know what a risk that would be."

    "I know," Beth said, "but I don't want the baby to die. It looks like if we don't get Sheridan some medical help, then that is what will happen. I want that baby. That's my baby - mine and..."

    "Yours and mine, right?" Charlie asked, putting her arm around Beth's shoulder. "All right, Bethie, if you want that baby to live, I'll do anything it takes - even if that means to risk kidnapping a doctor."

    "OK," Beth said, stepping back from Charlie so that the other woman had to remove her arm from her shoulder. "I guess Dr. Russell is our best hope since she is Sheridan's doctor. We don't know if she's on duty though, or when she gets off. It would be best to take her from the hospital. I guess if she's not there, we'll have to find another OB/GYN."

    "You let me worry about that," Charlie said. "I'll take care of planning everything. But I was wondering what we're going to do with the doc...afterwards."

    "Same as all the others, I suppose," Beth said. "Let's not worry about that right now. Time is of the essence here. We need to get the ball rolling - now."

    Charlie leaned over the edge of the pit and spoke to Julian in a loud voice. "OK, Mr. Rich, it looks like you're going to get your wish!"

    Julian bounded up from the floor where he had been checking on an unconscious Sheridan. He looked at the clowns with anxiety all over his face. "Please, whatever you do, don't hurt her," he pleaded.

    "Oh, I won't hurt her," Charlie sneered. "She's going to help my friend and me get exactly what we want." She added an evil laugh to the end of her message as she and Beth moved away from the pit.

    Julian closed his eyes and did something for the second time that day that he rarely ever did - prayed. "Please God, protect Eve. Don't let them hurt one hair on her head. Help her to save Sheridan and the baby. And when this is all over, help all of us get out of this pit safely."

    He knelt back down beside his sister and clasped her hand. "Please, Sheridan, hang on a while longer. Help is coming."

    Eve Russell had been called in to work the evening shift because a fellow doctor was ill. She actually didn't mind. It got her out of the house and away from TC's horrible slams against Julian. Plus, she was glad to stay busy. It kept her mind from thinking about Julian's kidnapping every single minute.

    Still, no matter how busy she was, she worried about him. Luis's comments at the police station had reassured her that Julian was still alive. She felt it with her whole being. She knew that that was only part of the problem, however. He still was being held somewhere, against his will, and maybe even tortured. She shuddered at the thought.

    Eve also knew that poor Sheridan was possibly with him, as Luis suspected. She only hoped that the stress of the situation hadn't affected her pregnancy. She was in such a delicate condition the last time she had examined her.

    She took a deep breath, trying to remove the thoughts of Julian and his sister from her mind. "Stay focused, Eve," she told herself. "You can't allow this to affect your job; you don't want to endanger the patients."

    "One more patient is all it looks like I'll have time for," she muttered under her breath after looking at her watch. "Dr. Andrews will be here to replace me soon." Eve headed toward the patient's room.

    Twenty minutes later, she took off her doctor's coat and hung it in her office. Grabbing her purse and medical bag, she headed out the office door, locking it on her way out. Eve walked down the corridor to the stairwell. She usually took the stairs since her car was parked near that side of the building. Arriving at the bottom of the stairs, she pushed open the heavy door and exited the hospital.

    Eve saw that the sky was completely dark now. The stars were out in full force. The moon was a beautiful crescent. She always liked the crescent moon the best. She remembered back to a time when she and Julian had sat and looked up at the sky in Bermuda. He had never seen someone as dazzled as she was with the night sky. He had showed her where many of the constellations were and tried to locate the planets for her. Eve laughed when she remembered how hard it was for her to pick out the pictures Julian was pointing out in the night sky. "Is that really supposed to be a bear?" she had asked.

    Nearing her car, Eve smiled at the fond memories of the time she had spent with Julian in Bermuda. Her mind was so far away that she didn't hear the footsteps coming up behind her. As she leaned forward to unlock the car door, someone grabbed her from behind, placing a hand over her mouth. Eve tried to resist and scream, but she could get no sound out. Her abductor was too powerful and kept a hand tightly over her mouth.

    While Eve tried to get away from the abductor, a second person came behind her and bound her wrists with ropes. The kidnapper tied a blindfold around her head as well. Eve thrashed her feet out to kick her abductors. That's when the one who had her mouth covered thrust a sharp object against her side. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," she said in a deep voice.

    Eve stopped kicking and started to cry. Her heart was beating so fast from adrenaline that she was afraid she would have a heart attack.

    The one who had the knife on her spoke again. "Now, I am going to remove my hand, but you're not going to yell. If you do, you're going to get this blade deep in your side. Do you understand?"

    Eve nodded her head. When the abductor removed her hand, Eve turned her head toward where the voice had come from and spat in her direction. The kidnapper threw a wicked punch at Eve's face. She cried out in pain. The other abductor quickly put tape around the doctor's mouth. Together the two women shoved a terrified, sobbing Eve into their vehicle's back seat and locked the door.

    Jumping in the front, the passenger, who had held the knife to her side earlier, turned around to talk to her. "I've got a gun on you now, doc, so just behave and nobody will get hurt. We're not taking you to harm you, really. We just want to borrow your services for awhile." She laughed hideously.

    Eve sank back into her seat, terrified beyond belief at what was happening to her.

    Julian rubbed his hand over Sheridan's forehead. "Wake up, Sheridan," he said tenderly. "You need to wake up so that you'll be ready to push this baby out. Help is on the way. You'll have your baby in your arms in no time." He shuddered at what the large clown had said - about Sheridan giving them what they wanted. He knew that the only thing they could be referring to was the baby. He pushed the thought out of his mind. It was too awful to think about. Julian knew as well that before he could worry about that, Eve had to save Sheridan's life and the baby's. That was the first hurdle to overcome.

    Thinking about Eve reminded him of what he had done - how he had put the safety of the woman he loved in jeopardy to save his sister's life. "I hope Eve understands," he thought sadly. "I hope that one day she can forgive me for what I've done."

    Sheridan's body was rocked with another contraction. Toward the end of it, her eyes fluttered open. She stared at her brother with a strange expression on her face. "Luis?" she said softly. "I knew you'd make it... The baby's...coming... Thank're here." She smiled weakly.

    "My God, she's delirious," Julian said to himself. "She thinks I'm Luis." He put the wet handkerchief on her forehead once more. "There, there," he said gently. "You're going to be just fine."

    "Luis..." Sheridan mumbled in a barely audible voice. Her eyes closed again, and her head rolled to the side.

    "She's passed out again," Julian realized. "Please, Eve, get here soon."

    Just then, Julian heard a commotion from above. It was the sound of the kidnappers marching Eve across the basement floor. Charlie and Beth each held onto one of her arms as they led her toward the pit. Both abductors stopped to grab their masks off a shelf and hurriedly slipped them on with their free hands as they neared the pit.

    Stopping close to the edge, Charlie stuck the knife against Eve's side once more to get her to calm down. Beth untied the rope around her wrists and removed the blindfold. Eve squinted so that her eyes could adjust to the low lighting. Beth ripped the tape off her mouth, and Eve let out a scream.

    Julian rushed over to the front of the pit just as the clowns pushed Eve over the edge. She screamed in a terrified voice and clamped her eyes shut as she fell toward the bottom of the pit. Julian reached his arms up to break her fall, and the impact propelled him backwards to the ground, with Eve winding up on top of him.

    Opening her eyes, Eve looked straight into the face of the man she loved. "Julian!" she cried in a surprised yet delighted tone, her face one big smile. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his in sheer joy.

  8. #32

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 31 - "The Birth"

    Julian eagerly returned Eve's kiss, his lips hungry for the taste of hers. Pulling back, Eve exclaimed, "Oh, Julian, I just knew you were alive!" and threw her arms around him once more, lavishing his face with kisses.

    "Well, if I am dead, I know I've gone to Heaven." He grinned, running his hands through her silky hair.

    Eve laughed and began lifting her body off of Julian's. When she put her hand on Julian's side to help herself up, he screamed out in pain. Eve quickly removed her hand. "Julian, you're hurt!"

    "No, it's nothing," he said, slowly raising himself to a seated position and patting his side. "Just my ribs. It's Sheridan - she needs you, Eve." He pointed to where his sister was lying on one side of the enclosure.

    Eve stood up and looked toward Sheridan. "Oh my God!" she cried when she saw the unconscious woman on the cushion. She rushed over to her and began checking her pulse. "What's happened to her, Julian?" she asked. "How long has she been this way?"

    As Eve continued to check Sheridan's pulse, Julian joined her at his sister's side. He began relaying exactly what had been going on with his sister throughout the day.

    "She's been in labor how long?" Eve asked, examining Sheridan's pupils.

    Julian checked his watch. "Since three o'clock this afternoon. About ten hours, I suppose."

    "Well, ten hours isn't unusual for a first child," Eve said, "but from what you've told me, Sheridan still has a long way to go."

    "She doesn't seem to be making any progress," Julian said. "She got to five minutes apart really quickly; then it just stayed like that all this time. And she's so weak. She's been in and out - mostly out - for the last two hours. That's why they came and got you. Eve, I'm sorry; I thought Sheridan and her baby were going to die... I asked for you." He hung his head in guilt.

    "Julian, I'm glad I can be here for Sheridan. Her condition is very serious. I just hope that I got here soon enough."

    "Can you save her...and the baby?" Julian asked, genuine concern in his voice.

    "I'll do everything I can," Eve assured him. "Right now, I need to examine her." She looked at the lantern on the floor. "Julian, I'm going to need you to hold that lantern over here near Sheridan while I work. Do you think you can do that?"

    Julian nodded. "I'll do anything I can to help my sister - anything," he said protectively.

    "Good. I'm going to need my medical bag," Eve said.

    Julian hurried over to where he had seen something lying on the floor. "Here it is!" he shouted. "I guess they threw it in after you."

    He looked up at the opening of the pit and noticed the clown-faced abductors leaning over, spellbound at the happenings in the pit.

    "Now I know why you insisted on us getting that doctor, Mr. Rich," Charlie laughed. "Looks like you and the doc have got something cooking on the side."

    "Lay off," Julian said sternly. "I just hope your delay in getting my sister medical attention won't end up costing her life and the baby's life."

    He quickly walked back to where Eve was standing and handed her the medical bag. Eve opened the bag and removed several items from it. She immediately checked Sheridan's blood pressure. "It's dangerously low," she said.

    Eve put on a pair of latex gloves. "I've got to examine her fast and see what's wrong. We don't have much time."

    Julian picked up the lantern and held it by the foot of the cushion as Eve performed a thorough examination. He made sure his eyes were averted throughout the exam.

    "Look, Blondie's brother is shyer than I thought!" Charlie sneered. "I bet you wouldn't be so shy if it was the doc here on that cushion."

    Julian made a disgusting face on hearing the clown's remark. He felt his face turning red, but was glad Eve was too busy to hear what the idiot had said.

    Eve frowned as she examined Sheridan. "Something's not right here," she said. Then, realizing the problem, she cried out, "Oh no, the baby's breech!"

    "What does that mean?" Julian asked, turning to look at Eve, his heart pounding fast from the alarm in her voice.

    "It means the baby's not turned right," she explained. "Instead of the head being down, in this case, it's the baby's bottom. This is a serious situation, but not uncommon in babies that are four weeks early."

    "Can you...fix it?" Julian asked. "Can you do that here?"

    "I'm going to have to," Eve said. "But there are things that need to be done first - lots of things."

    At this point, Sheridan started having another contraction. Both Julian and Eve rushed to her side. Eve was amazed at how Julian went straight for her hand, clasping it in his. She watched as he rubbed his hand across her forehead and smoothed the damp hair away from her eyes. This time, Sheridan did not regain consciousness.

    "Sometimes she wakes up for a moment," he said, "but this time I guess it was too much for her." Julian choked back sobs.

    Eve was amazed at how close Julian and Sheridan had become during their stay in the pit. In one week's time, the siblings, who had rarely spoken to one another, had bonded as closely as any brother and sister she had seen. She could tell another thing too. Julian genuinely loved his sister. This was the only time that Eve had seen him lavish true affection on someone besides her. She could tell his feelings for his sister came from the heart.

    Julian gently let go of Sheridan's hand and turned toward Eve. "Please do everything you can for her," he said, tears in his eyes. "I'll help you anyway I can."

    "I will, Julian," Eve said, reaching out to grasp his hand. "Together, we're going to do all we can to save Sheridan and the baby."

    Dropping hands, the two began surveying what items were already in the pit and deciding what was needed for the procedure and eventual birth. "Those sheets - are they clean?" Eve asked, pointing to the bundle that Julian had set on his blanket.

    "Yes," he answered, "our wonderful jailors threw them down here today. I caught them, so they didn't touch the ground."

    "OK," she said, thinking fast. "We need to get Sheridan off the cushion and put some of the sheets down. Will you help me with that?"

    The two quickly tackled that task, with Julian gently picking Sheridan up while Eve laid out the sheets. After Julian placed Sheridan back down on the cushion, Eve removed her blanket and replaced it with a clean sheet.

    "What's next?" Julian asked.

    "We need some boiled water," Eve said, "and plenty of clean towels."

    Julian called up to the clowns, "Did you hear that? Get her some water and towels - fast!"

    Beth and Charlie left to retrieve the necessary supplies. Julian turned back to Eve, "Is there anything else you need, dear?"

    "Some forceps would be nice, but I don't think we'll get them. Let's just hope what I'm going to do here works, and Sheridan is strong enough to help push."

    A while later, the kidnappers returned to the pit. "Here you go!" Charlie yelled, tossing down the towels that Eve had requested. Julian ran and quickly caught them before they touched the ground.

    Beth lowered a large pan of boiled water in the basket. Julian carefully removed the pan and set it near the cushion. Eve quickly sterilized some instruments in the water. "We're ready," she said, taking a deep breath.

    Julian grabbed the lantern and held it near Eve as she slipped on a clean pair of gloves. He looked away as much as possible during the procedure, but at one point when Eve cried out, he looked at her to make sure everything was all right.

    "This baby is hard to turn," Eve said, clenching her teeth as she worked to turn the infant around inside of its mother. "Come on, baby," she said, "just a little bit more..."

    Finally, Eve drew back and replaced the sheet over Sheridan's legs. "Well, it's done," she said, sighing in relief. "The baby's now head first."

    "Thank God!" Julian said, putting his arm on Eve's shoulder to celebrate. "You have saved that baby's life, Eve, and Sheridan's."

    "Let's hope," Eve said, removing her gloves. "The first major hurdle is over with. Now we need to see if Sheridan's labor progresses and she is able to give birth naturally."

    Sheridan's labor did progress. Soon, her contractions were down to every two minutes. Julian smiled as his sister woke up during one of them. "Hey, dear, how are you feeling?" he asked in a loving tone.

    "Still...hanging in there," she said softly, trying to focus her eyes. "Dr. Russell? Is...that you?" she asked, startled at seeing her doctor in the pit. She wondered if she was hallucinating.

    "Yes, it's me," Eve said, smiling. "We're glad you're back, Sheridan. Soon you will have your baby in your arms."

    Sheridan smiled weakly and laid her head back on the cushion. This time she did not pass out. Julian stayed by her side, talking to her tenderly, while Eve continued to examine Sheridan and prepare for the birth.

    When Sheridan's contractions were down to a minute apart, Eve announced, "It's time. She's fully dilated." She got up and walked over to speak to Sheridan. "Honey, it's time to push. Do you think you're ready?"

    Sheridan nodded, her eyelids heavy from exhaustion.

    "OK then, Julian's going to stay by your side and help you through this, while I tend to things down here." Eve's eyes met Julian's. He nodded, reassuring her that he could do the job that was required of him.

    He helped prop Sheridan's head and back against the wall of the pit and sat beside her, holding her against his side so she could feel his arms around her.

    Eve let Sheridan know when it was time to push. She bore down with what little strength she had left and sank back into Julian's arms. "You're going to need to push again, Sheridan, when I tell you. Harder this time." Sheridan again pushed with all her might, and collapsed once more into her brother's arms. Eve and Julian locked eyes. They were afraid that it was too much for her.

    Sheridan remained conscious, however, and was able to give them several more pushes until Eve finally cried, "I see the head! Loads of dark hair." She told Sheridan to cease pushing as she further examined her.

    "OK, Sheridan, you're almost there," Eve said. "This little sweetheart wants to see its mommy."

    Sheridan's eyes filled with tears. "Luis...I wish...Luis...were here."

    "He's here in spirit," Julian reassured her, "even if he's not with us right now. You will all three be together soon enough. Just think about how thrilled Luis will be when he sees your baby."

    After several more pushes, Eve announced that the head was finally out. "We're almost there! We just need to get the shoulders out." Sheridan took a deep breath and mustered up all the strength she had. She pushed on Eve's directive, and the doctor called excitedly, "Great job, Sheridan! One more push should do it!"

    Again, Sheridan was compelled to use the strength that even Eve was amazed she still had to deliver one more big push, and the baby freely came out into Eve's hands. "It's a girl!" Eve shouted. Sheridan smiled and collapsed into her brother's arms.

    Eve quickly cleaned the baby's airway and checked her vitals.

    "Is she all right?" Julian asked. "Is the baby going to be OK?"

    "She's perfect!" Eve said, and then smiled at Julian. "Would you like to cut the cord, Uncle?"

    Julian hesitated and then gently lowered Sheridan onto the cushion. He got up and walked over to where Eve was holding the baby. His nervous eyes met hers. Seeing her smile gave him the reassurance he needed. He took the instrument from her hand and carefully cut the cord in the spot she directed him. "Oh my goodness," he said, tears in his eyes. "She's so tiny!" He reached out with his free hand and touched the baby's cheek.

    Eve smiled at Julian's reaction. She cleaned up the baby and wrapped her in a fresh towel. Then she brought the newborn to her mother. Julian followed. "Sheridan? Do you want to see your baby girl?" Eve asked, a big smile on her face.

    Julian helped Sheridan sit up, and she leaned against his arms, tears in her eyes. In a stronger voice than she had managed for hours, she cried, "Oh my gosh, look at tiny, so beautiful." She reached out and touched the baby's delicate hand. "Hi, baby, I'm your mommy... yes ... and I've been waiting for you...for so long!"


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