A Place In the Sun
No sooner had Katalin seen the open door than she heard the gun go off. She did not need any more prodding. She scrambled to get up and was running before she'd hardly stood.
Katalin, in her black dress shoes and dark pink jumper sprinted across the snow. Ryan and Gillian were out of the truck in an instant. Katalin looked around frantically.
"Kata!" Gillian yelled.
Gillian yelled out Katalin's name again as she and Ryan rushed toward their daughter. Katalin heard her and turned sharply to change her path. Ryan ran ahead of Gillian and caught Kata in his arms. He ran back to Gillian as the small girl's tears soaked his shoulder.
Kata threw her arms around Gillian's neck. "Mommy!" she choked out between sobs. Ryan transferred Katalin to Gillian's arms as they rushed back to the truck. Gillian put Kata on the truck seat, Kata scrambled to the middle, and Gillian climbed in beside her. Kata immediately climbed onto her mother's lap. Gillian held Kata against her chest, stroking her daughter's hair and kissing her forehead. Ryan threw the truck in reverse and backed down the driveway. He pulled out onto the dirt road and drove a short distance away from the house. He put the truck in park and wrapped his arms around Gillian and Katalin.
"It's okay; we've got you. You're safe," Ryan assured Katalin, who was still sobbing uncontrollably.
Julia screamed Tyler's name when she heard the gunshot.
As Kata darted past them, the officers drew in to the door. Officer Rosenberg held his gun up as he used his shoulder to push open the door. Two other officers were not far behind him. Despite their efforts to force Julia to stay back, she entered right behind them.
The officers pointed their guns at Ray. He had already dropped this gun, the force of it going off throwing off his balance. The officers quickly overtook him and held his hands behind his back.
While the officers cuffed Ray and pulled him to standing, Julia rushed to Tyler's side. He was sitting on the floor with his back to the wall. He clutched his left arm with his right hand and Julia could see blood seeping through his fingers.
"Tyler, he shot you," Julia said, stating the obvious in shock.
Tyler shook his head. "Not quite," he said, looking up to see the bullet embedded in the woodwork around the doorway.
"The blood-" she looked astonished.
"Must've nicked me," he explained, pulling her to him and kissing her.
"You could have been killed," Julia said, tears staining her face.
Tyler shook his head again, "I'm fine, okay? Don't do the 'what ifs'."
"You still need to get that looked at," she told him.
"Yes, Nurse Julia," he kidded her, kissing her again.
As they drove into Pine Valley, Kata fell asleep. When they got to the hospital, Ryan gently lifted her from the truck and carried her inside.
"Jake," Gillian saw him standing by the desk as they entered the ER.
"Gillian, Ryan," he said, walking over to them. "Thank goodness you found her."
"We just want to make sure she's okay before we take her home," Ryan said.
"Sure," Jake said. "Things are pretty slow here tonight; I can take a look at her."
"Thank you," Gillian said as Jake held open the door for them.
Ryan sat Katalin down and tried to rouse her.
"Kata, sweetie," Gillian said quietly. "I know you are tired, but Dr. Jake is going to check you out real quick to make sure you are okay."
Kata nodded as she rubbed her eyes with her fist. "Mommy, I'm hungry," she said quietly.
"I'll go get you something," Ryan offered, kissing the top of her head before he left.
"Where'd you find her?" Jake asked as he took Kata's vitals.
"He had her up at this cabin by Silver Lake. His brother found them."
"Tyler Barrows, Julia's fiancée," Gillian said.
"Small world," he laughed.
"We might not have found her yet if he had not thought to look there. We had to find her tonight," Gillian said, stroking Kata's hair.
Jake reached into a cabinet and pulled out a hospital gown. Gillian helped Katalin out of her clothes and into the gown. Gillian's eyes teared up when she saw the bruise on Kata's forearm.
"Kata, can you tell me how that happened?" Jake asked her.
"Ray grabbed me hard and pulled me back. I wanted to get away," she sniffed.
Jake gently felt the bruised area, "Has your arm been hurting since Ray grabbed you?"
Kata shook her head, "Just when you touch it."
"Did he hurt you anywhere else, baby?" Gillian asked, trying not to let her daughter see her cry.
"When he grabbed my arm, he hit my leg," Katalin said quietly as she pulled the gown up to show the outside of her leg. Jake and Gillian could see the hand print shaped bruise that had formed.
Gillian stood up and turned away so that Kata would not see her tears falling.
"Mommy?" Kata asked.
"She's okay," Jake assured her. "She's just sad that you got hurt."
Gillian quickly dried her face and returned to Kata's side.
"I'm sorry, Kata," she told her. "I'm so sorry he hurt you."
"Mommy, I'm okay," Kata assured Gillian.
"I think she looks as worried about you as you are about her," Jake joked to Gillian, trying to lighten the mood.
Gillian nodded. Jake continued his examination.
"So you found her up at the lake?" Jake asked.
"Yes, Tyler told us to drive up the house and he'd be out with Kata in a few minutes," Gillian related. "She ran outside and Ryan ran to get her. When I held her in my arms again—that feeling was amazing."
"Everyone will be so happy to hear that she's safe," Jake said.
"Where's Daddy?" Kata asked, grabbing Gillian's hand.
"He went to get you a snack," Gillian said. "He will be right back."
Kata shook her head. "Where is he? Where's Daddy?"
"He will be right back," Gillian told her again, drying her daughter's tears as she tried to calm her down.
Katalin pushed Gillian away, "Daddy? Daddy!"
Ryan had just reentered the ER lobby as he heard his daughter's screams. He broke out into a run and threw open the exam room door.
"Daddy!" Kata cried.
"I'm right here, I'm right here," Ryan told her as she scrambled into his embrace. He looked at Gillian and Jake, wondering what happened. They just shook their heads in confusion. "I just went to get you some crackers and juice." He opened the package of crackers and handed her one. The room was quiet for a few moments.
"Kata, did Ray give you enough to eat and drink while you were with him?" Jake asked her, breaking the silence.
She shook her head, "Just a little."
Jake turned to her parents, "She's mildly dehydrated; just make sure she gets plenty of fluids and she will be fine. I also need to take some pictures of the bruises before you go."
Ryan looked at him, concerned.
"Don't worry, Daddy, I'm all right," Kata informed him.
"I'll tell you later," Gillian told him.
Katalin held out her arm for Ryan to see and Jake to take a picture of it. Jake took the pictures quickly.
"That about does it," he said, setting the camera down.
"We can take her home?" Gillian asked.
"Go ahead," he nodded. "You all look like you could use some sleep."
Ryan and Gillian agreed.
"If you have any concerns, you know how to reach me," Jake told them.
"Thank you, Jake," Gillian said.
"Thanks," Ryan said as he gathered their things and picked up Katalin.
"Gillian, can I speak to you real quick?" Jake asked.
"Sure," she said.
"I'll just wait outside," Ryan said, taking Kata out of the room.
"What is it, Jake?" Gillian asked.
"I just wanted to make sure you are taking care of yourself."
"I am trying," she laughed. "Now that I know Kata is safe, I'll do better."
"You told Ryan, right?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, holding out her left hand. "The four of us will be a family."
"Congratulations," he told her.
"Thank you," she smiled. Her face then turned serious, "So, you think Katalin is going to be okay?"
"She's safe. There's nothing physically wrong with her that you can't ta ke car e of at home," he assured her.
"He only hit her once before; I had hoped that he would not again, but I was wrong."
"Bruises will fade, but there might be other scars that aren't as easy to see," he said, taking out a piece of paper.
"With all that has happened..." Gillian trailed off. "I just want her to be happy."
"Here, this is a number of a psychologist," Jake said, handing her the paper. "If you think Katalin, or even you, might need someone to talk to, call her."
"Thanks again," she said, putting the paper in her pocket.
"You'd better go take that daughter of yours home," he said, opening the door for Gillian.
Gillian joined Ryan and Kata in the waiting area. Just as they started toward the doors, Julia and Tyler came in.
"Tyler, I am glad to see that you're okay," Gillian said as they joined the couple.
"Yeah, the bullet just grazed me," Tyler said. "Julia insisted I come here and get it checked out."
"Sorry for cutting out so quick like that," Ryan said, shifting Kata's weight. "We had to get her out of there."
"I understand," Tyler told them. "Did she check out okay?"
Gillian nodded, "Jake said she is a little dehydrated, but she will fine."
"That's good to hear," he said.
"Thank goodness she got out safely," Julia added.
"We cannot thank you enough, Tyler," Gillian told him.
"I'm just glad I could help," he said.
"Well, we'd better get home," Ryan said.
"You'll have some peace now that my brother's in jail."
"I hope so," Gillian agreed.
Ryan put his free arm around Gillian as they turned toward the door.
Katalin raised her head from Ryan's shoulder, "Tyler?"
Tyler and Julia turned to face her.
"Thank you for finding me."