A Penny For Christmas Chapter 14 & 15

By Anthonia Nicol

‘Drink!’ Hebert ordered, forcing water down Sarah’s throat. ‘It’s not time to die yet.’ In her semi-conscious state, Sarah could see that Hebert was not himself. He was nervous. The phone hadn’t beeped since he called Christopher to ask for ransom on her behalf, and it gave her a sense of satisfaction, although part of her wished Christopher cared enough for her to pay for her release.
Her release. Hebert was never going to let her go whether Christopher gave in or not. He would ask for more, or she would be six feet under the ground. She watched as Hebert slammed the phone against the brick wall. ‘Guess your sweetheart doesn’t give a hoot about you!’ he snapped. He drew his pistol, cocked it, and pointed it at her forehead. ‘I curse the day I met you, witch. Maybe when you are dead, my luck will return.’
She closed her eyes and waited for her soul to leave her body.
Then she heard gunshots.
Then it was quiet.
She wasn’t dead, and Hebert’s attention was now on Christopher, who broke down the door, wearing a bulletproof vest and surrounded by armed men.
‘It’s over, Hebert. Let her go,’ he said authoritatively.
The lunatic was laughing again, this time in desperation. ‘I underestimated you, rich boy, but it will be wise not to underestimate me. Tell these idiots to drop their weapons or watch her die.’
‘Calm down, Hebert. No one has to die here. I came to Sarah. Give her to me, and you have all the money you want,’ assured Christopher, signaling to the men to put their weapons down.
‘Do you think I’m stupid?’ asked Hebert. ‘You think I don’t recognize those men? They are here for me!’ He laughed again.
Christopher walked towards Hebert with his hands in the air. ‘I swear to you. No one will harm you. All we want is for you to release Sarah, and no one will stop you from getting out of here. Brenda gave me her word.’
Hebert looked at Christopher then Sarah. ‘It appears you are still sweet on him, minx!’ he whispered in Sarah’s ear.
‘Alright!’ Hebert decided. ‘I will let her go.’
He untied Sarah and stepped back.
Sarah wobbled, and Christopher ran to catch her. At that moment, Hebert pointed his gun at Christopher. Numerous shots followed, breaking the silence of the night once again.

15

‘Clear!’
She could hear voices in the distance.
‘Sarah, come back to me!’
‘Mum!’
And it went quiet.
She opened her eyes to the white ceiling of a hospital room, and it took a while for them to focus. Penny sat by her right, swinging her legs, holding a teddy bear, and looking nice. Sarah smiled and yelled when the extension of her jaw caused her excruciating pain.
‘Mum!’ Penny cried out, dropping the teddy bear and jumping on her.
‘Ouch, ouch, ouch,’ she grimaced.
The intense pain came from a spot just under her left ribcage.
‘I’m sorry,’ Penny said, stepping back.
Just then, Christopher and Daisy entered the room.
‘Daddy, mum’s awake!’ announced Penny, running to him.
He carried her in his arms. ‘Yes, baby, she is.’
Penny made a weird face at Daisy, ‘ Daisy, what’s wrong?’
‘Nothing, munchkin,’ she said quickly and turned to her mum. ‘I’m glad you are ok.’
‘Thank you,’ Sarah replied, sensing the awkwardness between them.
‘Dad, can I get a coffee? I’m famished!’ she asked Christopher, with eyes begging him to say yes.
‘Only a cup,’ her father advised. ‘I don’t want you off your routine.’
‘Scout’s honor,’ Daisy replied, giving him a peck on the cheek and exiting the room in a hurry.
‘Penny,’ Christopher said. ‘Why don’t you get hot chocolate as well?’
‘Alright, I know the drill. Catch you later, mum!’ she said, as she ran after her sister.
They were alone.
Christopher sat on the bed and said, without looking at her, ‘Thank you.’
For what? She wondered. Then she remembered. Hebert pointed the gun at Chris just as she was falling. She saw the barrel from the corner of her eye and pushed Christopher away in time. She noticed a bandage on his right hand. The bullet must have exited her body and grazed his hand.
‘Is Heb….’ she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She didn’t want to be disappointed.
‘Yes, he is,’ Christopher replied, raking his hair with his fingers. ‘He was gone on the spot.’
She smiled. ‘I like it when you do that. I mean, with your hair.’
He didn’t look amused. ‘Sarah, I will be eternally grateful to you for saving my life, but as for us, I don’t see a way back.’
Her face turned white, and she looked away quickly.
‘I understand,’ she said softly, holding back tears.
‘Do you?’ asked Christopher, looking at her. ‘You are not the woman I married. She was an illusion, tailored to fit into my world. She’s not you’.
She nodded as she agreed. ‘Where do we go from here?’
He stood up like he had made a decision he was uncomfortable making. ‘Right now, the girls need stability and both parents, and this is why I have decided that you should stay with us if that’s ok with you. If it’s not, I can arrange …’
‘It is, I mean, it’s ok with me,’ she cut in, looking down at her hands. ‘Thank you.’
‘Hmmm,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘I haven’t told the girls my decision, and I doubt Daisy will be thrilled about it.’
She looked up at him, ‘I screwed up with her, didn’t I?’
You screwed up with a lot of things, he thought. ‘We both did, but God is giving us a chance to make things right. Try to get through to Daisy. She’s been through hell.’
‘I know!’ Sarah cried, ‘ and I confronted Heb about it, and that was what started this whole —‘
‘After leaving Penny alone at school,’ Chris cut in. She looked away.
He shook his head in disgust. ‘Did you ever meet Daisy’s friend, Brenda?’
‘No, but she seemed calmer after her visits, so I assumed Brenda was a good girl, you know?’
Chris heaved a heavy sigh. ‘It’s clear to me that you have no idea how to be a mother. I can’t trust you with them.’
He left the room, and she wanted to disappear.

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