Time to Figure it All Out

Prologue

He couldn't get the door open; there must've been something jamming it, keeping it shut tight. He could hear screaming inside – Steph's screaming. He heard some cursing and then a gunshot. And another.

He froze and could have sworn his heart stopped in that moment.

Everything was quiet as he stood there, not daring to move a muscle. But then he heard some whimpering from behind the door. It had to be Steph, he told himself. It had to be.

With renewed energy, he took a few steps back and then ran forward into the door with all his strength, ramming it dead-center with his shoulder. The door creaked, but didn't open. Ignoring the pain, he did it again and again until the door finally burst open, showering wood chips all over.

Frantic, he ran inside and looked around the small room. There were two bodies on the floor. He quickly made his way over to Steph and knelt next to her, framing her cold face with his hands. Her eyes opened slowly and met his. She struggled to smile, but ended up being too weak.

She was favoring her left side, where blood was soaking through her shirt.

He struggled to prevent his eyes from filling with tears at the sight of the wound. Not many were able to survive that injury; she would most likely die of blood loss.

She read his expression and lifted a shaking hand to his face. "It's okay," she whispered. "He's gone…that's…" She coughed, and he winced when he saw the blood that came up. "That's…what matters."

He blinked back furious tears and took her hand in his. "No. Don't say that. You matter; he means nothing. And don't you dare close your eyes," he added when her eyelids began to droop. "An ambulance is coming. You'll be fine, Babe. You have to be."

She looked at him with tired eyes and shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry," she managed. "Never forget…" her eyes began to close. "Never forget…I love you."

Medics ran into the room and pushed him aside. He watched as they put her onto a cart and hooked her up to some machines. She was ready and being pulled out of the room before he had a chance to breathe. Her words echoed in his head, I love you.