Sarah slammed the door behind her and moved quickly toward the elevator. She stabbed at the 'down' button and tapped her foot against the floor impatiently while she waited. Behind her, she could hear Eric's footsteps.
"Sarah, wait. Let me drive you over there."
"No," she said flatly without even turning to face him.
"You aren't in any condition to drive. I've had longer to process…"
The doors slid open and she stepped in, pressing the door close button immediately. She turned to look at him through the rapidly narrowing crevice. "I need to be alone." How could she not after what he had just sprung on her? Today should have been the happiest day of her life. Instead, it was the worst. With just a few sentences, he'd taken everything from her. Her baby. The little miracle who she had fought for through those excruciating months of cancer treatment belonged to someone else. The little angel she had carried under her heart for months had not survived the car accident. The man she loved and was an hour away from marrying had betrayed her trust in a horrible way.
The elevator opened and she stomped out, dashing toward the building door and her car parked at the curb.
After everything with Rex, trusting was not an easy thing for her. Yet, she had trusted Zander. Against all rational thought, she had allowed herself to let him in and to eventually fall in love with him. Almost everyone had warned her. She'd spent months hearing all the awful things he had done as well-meaning friends and family members tried to convince her he wasn't appropriate for her. She should have listened.
In the car, she clicked her seatbelt into place and put the car into reverse, careening out onto the road with a screech. She really should slow down, she thought. Why was she in a hurry? To get to a wedding that wasn't going to happen? To get to her baby just in time to give her away?
Tears she had been holding back finally broke through, flooding her eyes. Through rapidly blurring vision, Sarah watched the street signs pass as she got closer and closer to her stepfather's mansion. Closer and closer to losing everything. "No!" she screamed. She turned the car quickly down a side street and slammed on her breaks as she pulled to the side of the road. Her head fell against the steering wheel. She could vaguely hear the blare of her horn but she didn't care enough to lift her head.
Eric would be telling Brady and Kristin soon and then they would race over to take her baby. It would break her heart to give Mickey to Brady but she'd watched him with Tate. He was a good dad and loved his little boy. He'd made mistakes in life but hadn't everyone? Deep down he was a good guy. Mickey would be safe and loved with him. But Kristin? How could she hand her precious baby over to that… woman? All of the news articles she'd read and the stories people had told her, the things she had personally observed, flashed through her head. The kidnappings, the stolen embryo, the manipulations and blackmails, raping Eric when he was a priest… At that one, Sarah cringed. The lack of respect, not just for Eric, but for the Church and God... And then there were the murders and attempted murders. Just thinking about all of it made her sick to her stomach.
While she had chosen general surgery as her medical specialty, she had done rotations in psychiatry during medical school and her residency. She wasn't as expert in mental health but she did have a good working knowledge of the field. Calling Kristin DiMera sane would be a big stretch. How could she hand a helpless baby over to someone so crazy and dangerous?
She took a deep breath and lifted her head, blinking to clear her eyes enough to see again. Maybe she didn't have to. Maybe there was another way. She reached for her phone, scrolling through until she found the right number. She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel as she listened to the phone ring. "Come on, pick up." When she finally heard a "hello?" on the other end, she sat up a bit straighter. "Hi. I'm glad I was able to reach you. I can't explain everything now but I need a big favor."
Pulling into the parking lot, Sarah scanned her surroundings. The 20 or so car lot was nearly empty with a couple cars at the far end and one right up by the door. Most likely just staff and maybe one table of customers, she thought as she pulled into a space. Privacy was definitely a good thing, especially today. She grabbed her purse and headed inside.
The diner was small and old fashioned. The flooring and décor had seen better days but everything looked clean. There was a long eating counter, empty but for one man seated at the very end, engrossed in a newspaper. There were ten or so booths around the sides of the room with a handful of small tables in the middle. As Sarah glanced around for a staff member, wondering if she should seat herself, a middle-aged woman came out of the kitchen, smiling as she approached the counter. "Hi. I'm Janie. I'll be your server today. Would you prefer a seat at the counter or a table or booth?"
"A booth please. I'm meeting someone but he hasn't arrived yet."
"Ah. Well, how about this booth over here?" she asked as she walked around the counter. "You'll be able to watch for your friend out the window."
"Excellent. Thank you."
"Would you like something to drink?"
"Just water for now, thank you." At the waitress walked away, Sarah pulled her phone out of her purse. No calls or texts so she just had to assume he had been able to get away. He would hopefully have called if he was delayed. She left her phone unlocked, the clock screen staring up at her from the table as one minute slid into two, three, four. The waitress arrived with her water. Five minutes passed, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Should she call him? If he was driving, she'd rather not disturb him. But what if someone stopped him? What if he hadn't had a chance to call her yet? What if Kristin was at the mansion right now, getting ready to leave with the baby?
She pulled his number up and was about the press call when his car pulled gracefully into the parking lot and slide into the space next the hers. "Thank God," she whispered, letting her eyes briefly close as she said a quick prayer.
As he made his way toward the diner doors, she got up, her feet carrying her toward the door before it even registered that she was meeting him.
"Hi baby." She smiled as the baby grinned and leaned toward her.
Justin chuckled, shifting the baby in his arms to keep her from falling. "Someone is very eager to see mommy."
"The feeling is mutual, believe me."
Janie the waitress popped through the kitchen doors. "Oh! Let me get you a highchair. I didn't realize you had a little one joining you."
Sarah reached out for Mickey, smiling at Justin as she took the baby. She led him back toward her booth, sliding in with Mickey still in her arms. She opened her phone and pulled up Mickey's favorite app. The screen filled with brightly colored bubbles, each with a letter in its center. As the baby popped the bubbles, the phone would say the letter out loud. The baby adored popping the bubbles! The game was one of the few things that had been able to distract Mickey during endless hours of tests and treatments. The game, her favorite stuffed bear, and cuddles from her mama.
Justin slid into the booth across from them, slipping the diaper bag strap off his shoulder so it could rest on the seat beside him.
The waitress arrived with the highchair, a couple crayons, and a paper menu with a color sheet on the back. "Well aren't you the cutest little girl! Is she about a year old?"
"Yes, she'll be a year-old next month."
"It's such a fun age. I remember when mine were that small." She gave Sarah a wistful smile. "They're teenagers now. Enjoy her while you can."
"I intend to." Her tone must have been sharper than planned because the waitress's eyes widened. Sarah shot her a wry smile. "I've heard horror stories about my friends' teenagers. I think I may have given my mom a few grey hairs myself," she chuckled.
Janie laughed. "It's too early to start dreading it now. You have a few years." She turned to Justin. "Would you like something to drink? Would you guys like something for the baby?"
"A coffee would be great. For the baby…" He glanced at Sarah who shook her head. "She'll be fine for now."
Janie gestured to the end of the table, under the window. "Menus are right there. I'll be back with your coffee soon. I may need to make a fresh pot."
As the woman walked away, Justin looked over at Sarah. She was gazing down at the baby, who was gleefully jabbing at her mom's phone. "I was very surprised to get your call. It took some fast talking for me to convince Zander I needed to leave the house with the baby. I managed to convince him that you were planning a last-minute wedding gift surprise for him and needed Mickey for part of it. He probably thinks the two of you are getting your portrait taken or something."
Sarah looked up, meeting his eyes. "Thank you so much. I know I put you in an odd position asking so much without explaining anything."
"I assumed you had finally decided the wedding was off," he said dryly.
"I finally came to my senses?" she asked with a wry chuckle.
"Something like that." He studied her face. She was tense and on edge. Her eyes were a bit more swollen than normal. The waitress probably hadn't noticed but to someone who knew Sarah, it was obvious that she had been crying. "I know Zander is family but if he did something to you…"
She bit down on her lip. "It goes much farther than me. If I give you a dollar or something will you be my lawyer? What I am about to tell you is going to have to be in confidence, or at least part of it is."
"Yes." He took the dollar she offered and slipped it into his shirt pocket.
Sarah took in a long deep breath and then let it out slowly, trying to figure out where to begin the story. "Eric called me today and asked me to come by. He said he had something important to discuss and it couldn't wait." She looked down at the baby in her lap, who was still fascinated with the bubbles floating across the phone screen. She let her fingers trace over the baby fine hair just starting to grow back. "He said our baby is dead." At Justin's dumbfounded loo, she raced on, trying to get it all out before she broke down again.
Several minutes later, Justin took a deep breath. "You believe all of this?"
"Eric does. He and Nicole say this test is proof." She pulled an envelope from her purse and pushed across the table to him. "I don't want to believe any of it but…"
He picked it up, folded it, and slipped it in his pocket. It would need to be thoroughly examined by experts later. "But you think that there is a very good chance that Eric is right?"
Sarah nodded. "I need to know what happens next. Do I have any recourse? Do I have to give my baby to that crazy monster tonight?"
"What happens next? That is going to depend on you. It sounds like Eric has already made his choice?" At Sarah's nod of agreement, he went on. "First, nothing is happening tonight unless you want it to happen." He broke off at the waitress arrived with his coffee.
"Are you folks ready to order?"
"Not quite. Can we have a few more minutes, please?" Sarah asked, watching as the waitress nodded her agreement and headed back to the kitchen.
Justin gestured toward the baby. "Legally speaking, she is Mackenzie Horton. Rachel Black is legally dead. Brady and Kristin are going to have to prove to the courts that Mickey is their child." He tapped the envelope in his pocket. "The tests that have been done were tampered with. They won't hold up in court. I strongly suggest refusing to allow another test until it is court ordered and done at a court mandated lab with a high level of security."
"What about the doctor Zander paid to make the switch?"
"She'll have to give a statement to the police. An oral or written confession to Nicole is not legally binding." He paused, considering the situation. "She may be hesitant to give a statement that implicates her in a crime. Of course, there is always the possibility that the DA will offer her an immunity deal in exchange for her testimony against Zander. All of that will take time though. It won't be accomplished tonight and most likely not tomorrow either."
"Done!" Mickey announced, pushing the phone away. "Pay?" She squirmed, trying to get down.
"No baby, not yet. We can't play here. Do you want to color?" She lifted Mickey into the highchair and handed her one crayon. As the baby began to scribble, Sarah looked back at Justin. "So she is completely mine? I have custody still? I can take her wherever I want?"
Justin pulled the tab off a coffee creamer, carefully considering his next words. He dumped the creamer into his coffee and reached for a sugar packet. "Right now, you are free to take Mickey wherever you'd like. However, Brady and Kristin are still going to do everything in their power to prove that they have rights to her." He paused before continuing in a softer tone. "That could include exhuming the other baby for testing." At Sarah's flinch, he reached out to cover her hand with his, giving it a light squeeze. "Once they have sufficiently proven their claim, they can petition the court for custody. If you are hiding out in parts unknown, you won't be able to present your case. The proceeding will be entirely one sided which all but guarantees an outcome in their favor. At that point, law enforcement agencies around the world would be looking for you. Its highly probable that you would eventually be found."
"Kristin would make sure I never saw Mickey again," she whispered hoarsely.
"Yes," Justin agreed.
"And if I stay and fight for custody?"
"With Kristin's history, you have a good chance." He picked up a napkin and Mickey's second crayon, laughing at the confused look on Sarah's face. "I'd normally bring my briefcase to a meeting just in case I needed to take notes but since I had the baby and her diaper bag, I left it."
Sarah watched as he scrawled across the napkin in bright red crayon.
"Its always best to make the first move," Justin said without looking up from note taking. "In this case, I recommend filing restraining orders against Brady and Kristin. Or at least Kristin. A temporary order may not be granted against Brady. We will need to show that they are threats. With Kristin that won't be difficult. With Brady…" He trailed off with a shrug before moving on. "It would also be a good idea to let the police know that we suspect that a kidnapping took place. Zander will be arrested," he warned.
"Good," she said flatly.
"Considering everything Kristin has done in the past, it might be best if you and Mickey stay somewhere she can't find you for now. You'll need to be within a close enough drive to come back for testing, to cooperate in the investigation, be available to social services, etc."
"We could stay at the Horton Cabin."
He shook his head. "Kristin knows it exists. That cabin is one of the first places she'd look for you."
"If I check into a hotel anywhere near here, she'll eventually find us. I'm sure she has goons she could send to pay off hotel clerks to tell her if a woman and infant checked in. Maybe I should get as far from here as possible. I can leave a DNA sample with you and I'll come back when you tell me its time."
He shook his head. "Its better that you stay within a few hours of here." He stopped writing, looking up at her as a thought occurred to him. "I think I may have an idea though. Adrienne and I moved our family back here from Texas when my boys were in high school. We'd enjoyed camping, hiking, and fishing in Texas so Salem was a bit of culture shock for the kids. An old friend was having some financial problems and was considering selling an old fishing cabin he inherited from his grandfather. I helped him in exchange for shared ownership of the cabin. It's a couple of hours from here. Only Adrienne and the boys ever knew about the cabin. My friend is living in another state right now but checks on the cabin a few times a year. I'll let him know that I am lending it out."
"That sounds great! Thank you!"
"Its rustic," he cautioned. "It may take some getting used to after living in the mansion."
"As long as I have my daughter, I'll live anywhere."
"Excellent." He stood up. "I'm going to go give him a call and make sure utilities are still on."
As Justin walked away, the waitress returned. "Should I give you guys a little more time?" She looked out through the window at Justin who was leaning back against his car, talking on his cell phone.
Sarah thought about agreeing but with a two-hour ride ahead of them… Mickey was going to be fussing for dinner soon. She glanced quickly down at the children's menu, a picture catching her eye. "No. Justin had to take a work call but we're ready to order. Can we get chicken nuggets with mac and cheese for the baby?" At the waitress' nod she continued. "And apple juice? Don't worry about a lid on the cup. There is a sippy cup in her diaper bag."
Finished writing the order down, Janie looked up with a smile. "Awesome. Any for you and your friend?"
"A salad for each of us would be great."
"Ranch on the side please."
As the waitress walked away, Sarah scanned then table. She found another napkin and stole the crayon Justin had been using. If they were going to be staying in that cabin without going home first, they were going to need to make a quick shopping trip for supplies.
"Let's see," she said quietly. A pack n play, pjs and a couple of changes of clothes for each of them, diapers and wipes, baby wash, a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, some toys, food. She'd have to remember to ask Justin what equipment and kitchen supplies were left at the cabin, if any. She turned the napkin over and jotted down a simple list; pot, pan, can opener, plates, bowls, utensils, coffee pot, toaster just in case the cabin kitchen was empty. With the baby, a microwave would be very helpful, but they took up so much cart and car space that getting one might not be practical.
"You've been busy," Justin observed as he took his seat across from her.
She sheepishly rolled the crayon back across the table. "I thought I might as well use the time. I'm going to have to find a Walmart or Target and I don't want to forget anything."
"Smart. I spoke with my friend. He said he spent a week at the cabin about a month ago so it should be relatively clean and cobweb free. The utilities are on."
"What did he say about me using the cabin?"
Justin shrugged. "Not much. I told him a family member would be using the cabin for a while. He thanked me for the heads up and told me about his most recent trip there. He didn't seem surprised but I then I do sneak up there occasionally and I always let him know."
Spotting the waitress heading back their way, Sarah quickly explained. "I ordered each of us a salad. It's Mickey's dinner time."
"Great. Thank you."
The waitress set their food out and then handed Sarah a knife. "I know how frustrating it can be to try to cut chicken nuggets with a table knife. Is there anything else I can get you?"
"Not right now. Thank you so much," Sarah said, gratefully accepting the knife. She offered Mickey a bite of macaroni and then started to cut her nuggets as the baby chewed.
"Now, we need to start planning our next steps," Justin said. "Once you and the baby are safely settled, I'll start taking care of things in Salem."
"What do you mean they aren't here?" Kristin glanced around the room, taking in the playpen filled with toys at the side of the room. "Of course they're here."
"No," Zander insisted. "They are not. Now, I think it is time you both leave." He smirked. "I don't mean to be rude but when Sarah gets home, we have important plans that don't include you." He crossed to the bar to fix himself some seltzer water. "I'd offer you a drink but you won't be here long enough to finish it."
Brady clenched his fists, holding them tight against his jeans. "You don't mean to be rude?" he asked incredulously. "Be as rude as you want. We aren't leaving until we speak with Sarah."
"Sarah isn't here?" Eric asked, as he and Nicole walked in.
"What? None of you ever heard of knocking before you enter someone else's home?" Zander asked snidely.
Eric took several steps toward him, stopping a few feet from Zander when Nicole gently rested her hand on his shoulder. "After what you did, how dare you act so righteous."
"What I did? I have no idea what you are talking about. Or why you all thought crashing my wedding was appropriate
"The heck with all of this. I'm finding my baby." Kristin spun around, rushing through the entry way door before anyone could stop her.
"What the hell?" Zander demanded, watching as Kristin ran up the stairs. He glared at Brady. "Uncle Vic isn't going to be happy if he finds that loon snooping upstairs. And what does she mean her baby?" He sneered. "Did she lose her favorite doll?"
"You know exactly what she means," Eric thundered. "You stole her baby."
Zander froze for several seconds, jolted back to the present by the sound of his drink glass shattering as it hit the floor. "What? That is insanity. Her baby is dead. I had nothing to do with poor little Rachel's death." He looked toward Brady, forcing a softer expression. "I really am sorry about that. No one should have to lose their child. Now, we'd better go find your girlfriend before she steals the silver or breaks something."
Without another word, Brady turned on his heel to follow Kristin.
"You monster," Eric seethed. "You are an absolute…"
"Eric," Nicole said gently, cutting him off before he could use language he'd regret. She turned toward Zander, her glare icy. "We know what you did. The doctor finally admitted it and we have the real DNA results," she said flatly.
"You witch," Zander said through gritted teeth. "You were going to find 'proof' no matter what? Weren't you? Are you that threatened by Sarah and Eric's relationship? Are you so worried you'll lose him that you had to make up evidence?" He turned back to Eric. "She needs help. We'll get all this sorted out. Forget all the lies Nicole told you."
Nicole held her hands up. "Don't you get it? Its over! We know!" Before he could respond, she took Eric's hand. "Let's go help your brother. We can finish dealing with him later. "
Kristin yanked open a drawer. "It's full." She tugged the next one open. "This one too. And this one and this one." She spun toward the closet and wrenched it open. Baby dresses filled the hanging rack and tiny sweaters overflowed the shelf above. Little pairs of shoes were lined up neatly along the floor. "She left all the baby's clothes." She turned back toward Brady, her tone pleading. "That means she didn't go far, right?" Before he could continue, she was heading toward the door. "Maybe Sarah left some clue in her room. It's still next door?" Without waiting for his reply, she hurried into the room.
She grabbed a writing pad off Sarah's desk, thumbing through it before dropping it back down. Nothing else on the desk would be useful she thought; scanning the items; a butterfly printed pencil holder filled with writing utensils, sticky notes, a stapler. Her eyes slid upward, landing on a hanging calendar on the wall. She grabbed it. "Rachel has an oncologist' appointment in two weeks. We'll have to change doctors. We only want the best for our daughter."
"Mickey's doctor IS the best," Eric said from the hall. "Sarah did a lot of research and spoke to a lot of colleagues to get recommendations. Choosing Mickey's oncologist wasn't a decision either of us made lightly. It may be wise to meet with her current team at least once since they know her case and have all the records. Continuity of care is important."
Deciding there was nothing else of interest on the calendar, Kristin let it drop to the desk. She waved her hand toward Eric. "Regardless, I'd rather choose my child's medical team. I'll ask Dr. Rolf for suggestions." Her eyes narrowed. "And her name is RACHEL."
Brady laid both hands on Kristin's shoulder's squeezing lightly. He shot Eric an apologetic half smile. "I'm sure you can understand how tough this all is for her. Of course we'll look into the baby's current medical team before we make any decisions. If they are the best choice, we'll continue to use them."
Kristin's eyes moved to the clock on the wall. "Where is she?" She pulled away from Brady, storming across the room to Sarah's dresser. Her table set on top, plugged into a charger. She opened it and let out a sound of frustration. "What's her password?"
"Try her birthday? Or Mick… I mean Rachel's," Nichole amended at Kristin's harsh glare.
"No! Damn it! Maybe today because of the unwedding."
"I'm really not sure you should be breaking into Sarah's tablet anyway," Eric said. "We shouldn't even be in her bedroom without her permission."
"It is a bit of an invasion of privacy," Brady agreed. He took hold of Kristin's shoulders again, trying to ease her toward the door. "We should probably wait downstairs."
"An invasion of privacy?" Kristin asked quietly. "An invasion of privacy," she repeated just a little louder. "An invasion of privacy!"
The tablet hit the floor with an ominous thud.
"I hope that's a sturdy case," Nicole murmured, her eyes still glued to Kristin.
"She has my baby! Without my permission. There is no such thing as an invasion of privacy! I WANT MY BABY!"
"Kristin, sweetheart, Rachel is fine. She'll be in your arms very soon," Brady soothed, wrapping his arms around her. "I'm sure Sarah just took her for a walk. She probably just wanted to say a private goodbye. They may even be walking somewhere on the grounds. Maybe in Maggie's flower garden."
Kristin lifted her head. "On the grounds? Brady you may be right." She tugged on his hand. "We should go look."
"Are you still sure about your decision to tell them?" Nicole asked after the sound of Kristin and Brady's footsteps had faded.
Eric picked up the tablet and turned it over. "It doesn't seem broken." After replacing it on Sarah's dresser, he moved across the room to hang her calendar back up. Finally, he turned back toward Nicole, his eyes heavy with conflict. "No," he admitted softly. "But I didn't have a choice. Lying is immoral, even if the lie is by omission."
"But handing a helpless baby over to that nut…" Nicole shuddered. "While she was keeping me captive and impersonating me, the only thing that kept me calm was having Holly with me, knowing that my little girl was safe. If she had decided to keep Holly as part of her charade, I wouldn't have been able to sleep. I would have been terrified of her flipping and hurting Holly."
Eric bit his lip. "I know. I'm worried but we couldn't keep something like this secret. We're just going to have to trust Brady to keep the baby safe. And pray. A lot."
Working to balance Mickey's car seat, its handle held securely in the crook of her elbow, her purse, and the diaper bag Sarah fumbled to fit Justin's key in the doorknob. The minimal light provided by the moon didn't help much. She finally got the key to fit and heard the tiny click of the lock turning.
Stepping into the dark cabin, she felt along the wall where Justin had told her she would find the light switch. "Let there be light," she murmured as light flooded the room. The room was small with a kitchen as one end, a breakfast counter separating it from the living area. A large fireplace filled one wall with a milk crate of wood sitting right in front of it. There was a couch and two chairs, all covered by sheets. On the opposite wall, a bookshelf held some books and a couple stacks of board games. A doorway off the living room led to the two bedrooms and the bathroom while a door off the kitchen led outside, and according to Justin, a trail down to the lake.
With her arm starting to cramp from the weight of the baby carrier, Sarah crossed the room to set the carrier next to the couch. She propped the carrier slightly against the furniture so that Mickey's airway would be protected while she slept. It wasn't a long-term solution but it would buy her enough time to bring the new pack n play inside and get it set up.
She turned her smart phone flashlight on and ran back to the car. She eyed the full trunk. After she got the baby settled for the night, she'd have to bring all this stuff inside and get as much of it as possible put away. The alternative would be dealing with it tomorrow with Mickey's 'help'. She rummaged around until she found a bag of baby clothes. Hopefully there was a set of pjs in the bag.
As she stepped back inside with the play pen and shopping bag, she remembered that she had promised to check in with Justin as soon as they got to the cabin. She glanced at the still sleeping baby and decided to get her settled first. Fortunately, she had this exact play pen model at home, she thought as she quickly set it up. She'd already gone through the learning curve with it. She positioned the pack n play against the wall next to the bedroom hallway where it would be easy to slide Mickey into the bedroom with her later.
After she'd changed the groggy baby into a blanket sleeper and settled her into the play pen, she pulled a sheet off one of the chairs and dropped down. She dialed the last number called and waited for Justin to pick up.
"Hello. Did you and Mickey make it safely up to the cabin?"
"We did," she confirmed. "Thank you again for letting us stay here."
"You're very welcome. That's what family is for. Sonny called me a little while ago. He said Brady and Kristin have been at the mansion for a few hours now and are refusing to leave without their baby. He said that Kristin is quite agitated."
"I think we are all agitated."
"True. Without giving him specifics, I suggested that Kristin's agitation might get worse. I suggested that he and Will might want to get Ari out of the house. They've made arrangements to stay at Rafe's for the night. And Rafe has agreed to meet me at the police station. I'm actually headed there now."
"Excellent. I'm glad Ari won't be there if Kristin freaks out. She's a little sweetheart." She grinned as she pictured the tea party Ari had held a few days ago. She'd had a table surrounded by dolls and stuffies with real cookies and juice in front of them. When she noticed Sarah walking past her playroom with Mickey, she'd insisted on the baby joining in and made an elaborate show of asking her toys for a volunteer to give their seat to Mickey. With Ari's help, a bunny quickly hopped away to make room. Both girls had a blast.
"Yes. She's the best granddaughter a guy could ask for. Did you hear that she made honor roll?" Justin boasted.
She chuckled. "I think Will may have mentioned it."
He shifted his car into park. "I'm at the police station. Let me go meet Rafe and I'll get back to you soon."
"Thanks Justin." She ended the call and grimaced as she looked toward the door. "Now I'd better go bring all our stuff in."
Rafe pulled to the side of the driveway and watched through his rearview mirror as several police cars pulled in behind him, purposefully blocking the driveway so other vehicles wouldn't be able to exit. They'd come with lights and sirens off so hopefully their arrival was a surprise to those inside.
As his officers and surrounded him, he glanced at each. "You know what you need to do?"
After he was assured that his instructions had been understood, Rafe headed toward the door, two officers following close behind him.
In the living room, Kristin jumped to her feet when she heard the doorbell. "She brought my baby back."
"Why would Sarah ring the bell?" Nicole asked, rolling her eyes. "She lives here."
"Maybe she forgot her key," Zander offered, already heading to the door. He swung the door open. "Sarah darling I don't know…" He trailed off when he saw the stern faced police commander, flanked by officers. "Commander Hernandez. We weren't expecting you and now really isn't a good time."
"I'm sure it isn't," Rafe said dryly. "Zander Cook Kiriakis you are under arrest on suspicion of kidnapping." As Zander's jaw dropped, Rafe stepped around him, letting the two officers step in to read Zander his Miranda rights and arrest him. Kristin, Brady, Nicole, and Eric stood clustered near the living room doorway, frozen as they watched the arrest.
Kristin was the first to break her trance, slapping her hands together and clasping her fingers tightly. Her lips lifted in a small smile as she looked up at Brady. "That's where she's been! Sarah was arranging revenge before she gave my baby back!
"Or maybe just justice?" Eric put in.
Kristin lifted onto her tippy toes and leaned forward, craning her neck as if trying to see around the entry way commotion to the front porch. "Where are they? Is she keeping Rachel outside until she thinks its safe to come in?"
"Which may be never," Nicole murmured, apparently loud enough for Kristin to hear because the other woman shot her a quick glare.
Rafe glanced back at the door. As if on cue, the two officers escorted Zander out the door and a third officer stepped inside, walking over to the group.
"Kristin DiMera?" the officer asked.
He held out an envelope. "You've been served."
She took it reflexively, staring at him in confusion. "What do you mean? Who is suing me?" As the man immediately began to walk away, she spun toward Rafe. "What is this?"
"You need to read it," he suggested.
Letting out a frustrated sigh, she tore the envelope open and yanked the papers out. "Restraining orders?!"
Brady's eyes widened. "Let me see." He scanned the first page before shuffling to the next and the next and the next, his eyes darkening with anger as he read. His fist tightened, crumpling the pages.
"What?" Eric asked.
Brady looked up at him. "Sarah got temporary orders of protection blocking Kristin from coming near her and the baby."
"How could she do that? How could she legally stop me from seeing my baby?"
Brady held the papers up, shaking them. "Apparently her lawyer submitted documentation to support his claim that SARAH'S BABY might be in danger." He narrowed his eyes. "Did you get banned from that baby cuddling program at the hospital for trying to steal a newborn?"
She shifted from foot to foot, shaking her head vigorously. "No. Of course not."
"Well, a nurse filed a formal complaint. Marlena and my dad both signed as witnesses. That complaint and the hospital's judgement to remove you from the program were included in Sarah's rationale for the restraining order."
"I didn't try to steal that baby. I just didn't want to give her back so I told the nurse no and ordered her to leave."
Nicole snorted. "Huge difference."
Brady turned toward Rafe, waving the papers at him. "Why does this paperwork repeatedly refer to Sarah as the baby's mother and to the baby as Mackenzie Horton? You just arrested Zander for kidnapping our baby."
"An interested party came to me earlier this evening with what appeared to be evidence of Mr. Cook Kiriakis' involvement in a kidnapping. He has been taken in for questioning while we investigate the DNA test and witness statement we were provided. Nothing has been substantiated at this point. This is an active police investigation," Rafe explained. "As for the baby, according to the law she is Mackenzie Horton until a judge orders otherwise. Sarah has full custody."
"That isn't fair," Kristin exclaimed.
"That isn't for me to decide," Rafe said with a shrug. "This is all going to be figured out in court. I'm here as part of the ongoing police investigation. I'm going to need sworn statements from each of you. Will you all follow me back to the police station?"
"Of course," Eric said.
"I need to check in with Holly's sitter again but as long as she can stay, I'm fine with giving my statement tonight," Nicole agreed.
"We'll give our statements tonight too," Brady said.
Rafe led them all into the police station bull pen. He gestured toward chairs and a coffee station at the far end of the room. "You're all welcome to make yourself a coffee while you wait. I know it is getting late. I'll try to arrange your interviews as quickly as possible so you can get home."
Nicole and Eric headed toward the designated waiting area. "At least they have a good selection," Nicole mused, sorting through a variety of K cups for the Keurig. She started a cup for herself and glanced over at Kristin who had stomped over. "Would you like a cup? There is tea as well."
"No," Kristin snapped. "All I want is my baby. I can't believe that bitch got a restraining order against me. And you two!"
Eric sighed, shaking his head slightly. "What could you possibly be holding against us?"
"You let her leave! You should have stayed with her until she turned my baby over."
"Why would we do that?" Eric asked. "She is an adult and said she needed some time to process."
"You should have known it was an excuse so she could take off with Rachel."
Nicole tilted her head. "Why?'
"Because it was obvious!" Kristin ranted. "Its what anyone would do!"
Eric shook his head. "No, Kristin it's not. Its not how I responded."
"Its what you would do," Nicole pointed out. "That's why you think it's the obvious response. Has it occurred to you that Sarah is vastly different than you?" She gave a sardonic chuckle. "And me." She pulled her coffee cup from under the machine and reached for a sugar packet.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Kristin demanded, her hands clenching into fists.
"When you took a baby, it was out of a selfish desire to have one. That was my motivation as well. Tate and Sidney would have been, and eventually were, loved and well cared for by their biological mothers. We didn't take them to protect them. We took them because we wanted them. You did the same thing years ago with Susan's baby," Nicole said.
Brady and Eric shared a concerned glance as each of them moved closer toward their girlfriend.
"Maybe we should go sit down," Eric suggested, trying to take Nicole's hand.
Nicole ignored him, her gaze never leaving Kristin's. "Sarah had a different motivation; protective instinct. She loves that baby. She's cared for her for almost a year and nursed her through cancer. Her instincts are telling her to protect the baby from you just as she protected Mickey from cancer."
"Why would my baby need protected from me?"
Nicole snorted. "After everything you've done, you have to ask that? You hurt everyone who has the bad luck to know you."
"You bitch," Kristin seethed. "You think you are so much better? You've done things that were just as evil as anything I've done."
"I'm not sure there is anything as evil as raping a priest, a representative of God," Nicole argued. "And I have actually changed. I proved it by telling the truth about the baby switch once I put the pieces together. It would have been so much easier not to mention way better for the baby, if I had kept the secret. But I promised Eric I would never lie to him again and lies of omission count, so…"
"Bitch!" Kristin lunged forward, her hands reaching for Nicole's neck.
Instinctively, Nicole threw her hands up to bat Kristin away. "Stop it," she screamed as she felt Kristin's nails scrap her skin.
Eric and Brady both moved quickly. Brady wrapped his arms around Kristin's waist, pulling her back as several police officers swarmed. Eric reached for Nicole, helping her to ease back out of Kristin's reach.
"Let me go," Kristin screamed.
"What in the hell is going on out here," Rafe demanded as he stepped back into the room, one hand hovering over his gun holister.
"She attacked me!" Nicole said, holding up her hands to show streaks of blood. "She broke the skin on my neck and cheek."
"You deserved it!" Kristin shouted, struggling to break free of Brady's grip. "You were insulting me and said my baby would be better off without me."
Rafe glanced at one of the officers. "Take Ms. DeMira to one of the interrogation rooms. I'll speak with Ms. Walker and find out if she plans to press charges."
"You just can't help yourself, can you?" Rafe asked with a sardonic chuckle. He closed his office door. "You have to push people's buttons." He crossed the room to get a first aid kit from a storage cabinet.
Nicole dropped down into one of the chairs facing Rafe's desk."She is so wrapped up in her own little world that she can't see things from other people's perspectives. She's acting like Sarah is the villain in all this."
Rafe sighed, sitting on the edge of his desk, near Nicole. "Sarah is a mom desperately trying not to lose her child. It takes much more than biology to be a good parent," he said wistfully.
"Oh Rafe." Nicole laid her hand on his knee. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be insensitive. I've heard some things." She rolled her eyes. "You know how the Salem rumor mill is. How is David?"
Rafe grinned. "He's great. The kidnapping didn't bother him at all. He was comfortable with Evan," he sighed. "I mean Christian, from the last several months with Christian working for me as a nanny. David just thought they were going on a little adventure. With Christian's cooperation, I was able to get David back in a non-threatening way so he wasn't scared. Right now he's home with Sonny and Will. Justin gave them a heads up that there would be drama at the mansion tonight. They asked me if they could stay at my house with Ari just in case things turned violent." He opened the first aid kit. "It worked out well for me. Since they were able to babysit, I was able to be here instead of having to delegate to one of my detectives."
Nicole cringed as he dabbed a cotton ball soaked in disinfectant against her neck. She swallowed as he moved to her cheek. "You haven't hired a new nanny?"
"I've interviewed a few but as my experience with Christian, it's been tough to trust any of the applicants enough to hire them. Fortunately friends and family members have stepped up. He's spent quite a bit of time with Ciara and Ben. Julie and Doug have watched him a lot too. They're helping care for Charlotte and Thomas. David loves going over to play with the kids." He tossed the cotton ball into the trash can.
"If you're ever in a bind, you have my number. I'm sure Holly would love to have a playdate with little David."
"You don't have to do that. I know you have a lot going on."
"Rafe, you're my friend. After all the help and support you've given me over the years, babysitting David is the least I can do. I'd be happy to do it and I'm sure Eric feels the same way."
He held up with hands in surrender, chuckling. "Ok, if you insist. I'll give you a call to set something up." He snapped the first aid kit closed. "Now, what on earth possessed you do go digging for proof that Kristin and Sarah's babies were switched?"
Kristin paced the small room. "I don't have time for this," she murmured. "If it was so urgent that they interview me, why leave me here alone for 15 minutes?"
She lifted a corner of the blinds, looking out into the hallway. It was deserted. They weren't concerned enough to leave an officer outside her door. But then, she wasn't under arrest. She'd come here willingly to give a statement about her baby and try to get answers about where Rachel was. If taking her statement wasn't Rafe's priority, why should she wait?
Her decision made, Kristin tried the door handle. It turned easily and she stepped out into the hall. Trying to keep her body language nonchalant, she headed toward the main corridor. Halfway down the hall, she abruptly stopped. She'd caught sight of a figure through her peripheral vision. She slowly turned staring through the half open blinds into an interrogation room.
A small smile playing at her lips, Kristin opened the door and stepped into the room. "Hello Zander."
He lifted his head. "Kristin."
She turned her back to him, reaching for the cords to slowly close the blinds. She looked over her shoulder at him as the blinds closed, her smile broadening. "I've been waiting all evening for a chance to be alone with you. Lucky me, I finally got one."
"The officer will be back any moment."
She shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not." She took a step closer, giggling as Zander jumped to his feet and tried to skitter backward, only to be stopped by the cuffs that tied him to the table. "Why in such a hurry to leave? We have so much catching up to do."
"I have nothing to say to you."
She slammed both hands down on the table in front of him. "Like hell you don't," she sneered, leaning forward to tower above him. "Why did you do it?"
Zander held up his free hand, his tone placating. "It really wasn't personal. I knew the woman I loved was going to be badly hurt. I had to do whatever I could to protect her. I wasn't trying to hurt you. That was an unfortunate side effect."
She clinched her teeth. "Maybe that's what I'll tell the cops when they find you. I didn't mean to hurt him. It was an unfortunate side effect."
His eyes widened. "Think of all the time we've spent together. All the crazy schemes we've teamed up on. Dare I say we were friends for a while?"
"Friends?" She growled. "Friends don't take each other's children." Abruptly she stood back up. She let her purse slide down her arm, dropping on the edge of the table.
"What are you doing?" Zander asked, tugging at the handcuffs anchoring him to the table.
"Finding a true friend," she said sweetly as she unzipped her purpose.
"Om my God," Zander said as she pulled a gun out. "You don't want to do this. Everyone will hear the gunshot. You'll go to jail for a very long time."
She shrugged. "You won't get to enjoy it. You'll be dead. I guarantee Dr. Rolf won't intervene."
He stared at the gun. "It wasn't me," he blurted.
She blinked. "What wasn't you?"
"I helped switch the babies," he clarified. "I bribed the doctor. But it wasn't my idea or my money."
"Someone else was responsible?" Kristin demanded, her gun arm falling to her side. "Who?"
"You have to put that away and promise to leave once I tell you," he bargained.
"Fine," she said impatiently. "Who orchestrated my baby's kidnapping?"
Zander stared pointedly at the gun before shifting his eyes toward her purse.
With a huff, Kristin dropped the gun into her purse and quickly zipped it.
"My Uncle Victor came up with the idea. Maggie was driving the car that hit Sarah. Sarah's baby died because of that accident. Uncle Victor loves Maggie more than anything. He couldn't let her realize that she killed her own granddaughter," he explained.
"And he hates me," Kristin added flatly. "As much as he loves Maggie, he hates me," she murmured. She backed toward the door slowly, her face blank. "He couldn't let an opportunity to cause me pain pass by."
"Where are you going?" Zander asked as she stepped back through the door, her eyes glassy and dazed.
"To right a wrong."