AN: Yep, after three years, I'm picking this story up again. I meant to finish it, but real life (and death) got in the way. But I'm going to finish it, and write a few little companion vignettes that will go with this story and its predecessor Escape. Those vignettes will focus on Kim and Chris's lives together as a young family, raising their son.
Track camp, Atlanta, Georgia…
Tam Scott was done with training for the day so he decided to shoot some baskets in the gym. It was something he liked to do when he was done training but wasn't ready to cool down just yet.
It wasn't long before he wasn't alone. His cabin-mate, Nathan Shaw, was following him into the gym. Like Tam, Nathan was on the track team, but he also played basketball when he wasn't running track.
"Hey Nate," he said. "One on one?"
"Sure, why not?" The two cabin-mates were soon engrossed in a good natured competition when their counselor entered the gym.
"Hey Scott?" he called out. "There's a phone call for you. It's your dad."
Tam nodded. "To be continued," he quipped to Nathan as he left the gym to take a call in the main office. It must be serious if Dad's calling. Unless the girls are messing with my room, which is highly unlikely, he thought. He was almost wishing that would be the case; but he had a feeling it was more serious than that.
"Hey Dad," he said. "Everything okay?"
"Not really," Chris said. "Tam, there's something we have to tell you."
Tam listened as his father told him about the man that his mother had been engaged to. He knew all of that. His eyes widened, however, when Chris told him that the man in question was in the States, in New York actually.
"Dad is Mom going to be okay?" he asked.
"Don't worry, Son. We're taking precautions and the girls will stay with us in the guest room." Chris sighed. "They know to take extra precautions as well." He went on to caution his son to be careful when he was out with friends at the camp and not go off with anyone he barely knew. Tam agreed readily.
After getting off the phone, he headed back to his cabin, his friend on his heels.
"Everything all right, buddy?" Nathan asked.
"Not really, but I really can't talk about it," he replied. "You going out with Haley tonight?"
"Yeah, Dad signed me up for this camp, hoping it would get me away from Hales this summer." Nathan let out a rueful chuckle. "His plans backfired because the camp is right here in our hometown."
Tam shook his head. He had a feeling why his friend's father didn't approve of his relationship with Tam's unofficial "cousin". Even though she didn't look it at all; like him, Haley Lien Wilson was a Bui-Doi child, having been born in Saigon and taken to Bangkok for safety. Her parents, John and Ellen Wilson had found her as a part of John's work. Since both biological parents were deceased—the mother being killed during the Fall of Saigon, and the father killed in the evacuation—John and Ellen, who were expecting their first child, decided to petition the courts to adopt Haley. The adoption was finalized soon after their daughter Brooke was born. But even though Haley's last name was Wilson, and even though she looked Caucasian with her brown hair and hazel eyes that had only a tiny hint of an Oriental slant to them, somehow Daniel Shaw had gotten word of Haley's ethnicity and he seemed to hate her for it. He'd even gone as far as to try to get her kicked off the cheer squad and the other extra-curricular activities. When that didn't work, he tried to get her expelled by framing her for cheating on a test. But she was exonerated when she retook the test and passed with flying colors. It was at that point that Nathan decided to emancipate himself, with John's help, he was able to get an attorney and become an emancipated minor. So he was able to move out of the house and moved into the guest house on John and Ellen's property with his mother. The arrangement was working out nicely, with the exception of Dan Shaw's occasional harassment, which included the forced enrollment into the track and field camp for a few weeks.
Still, Nathan couldn't complain too loudly. His cabin-mate turned out to be Haley's friend from baby-hood, Tam Scott and the two teenage boys were becoming good friends. Nathan was even looking forward to the possibility of meeting Tam's parents someday.
In New York, Kim tried to resign herself to living. She knew that the fear was irrational, but she didn't know what to do about it. She and Chris had taken precautions for their security around the home, and they issued the girls some ground rules to keep them safe in case Thuy had the idea to harm them to get to her.
She also decided to take some self defense classes that were being held at the crisis center in downtown Manhattan. Over the next few days, she was learning about the psychological study of "the victim" and how she could carry herself with dignity and confidence. She also learned some simple moves that could stun an attacker long enough for her to get away. She also knew that Chris had taken his pistol out and cleaned it, oiled it, and made sure the bullets were in good condition in case she ever needed it. He always kept it locked in a drawer in his study, but Kim was the only one besides him that had access to the key.
Yes, she thought to herself as she made dinner one night a little under a week after John's phone call. We're taking the proper precautions; Thuy won't make me afraid of my own shadow. I won't allow it.
A week after arriving at the brownstone, Brooke realized she was sick. She'd been having abdominal pains off and on during the camp's sessions that day. She thought she was coming down with the flu. In spite of this, Tempe stayed in the guest room with her, and she was glad she did, because Brooke's illness came to a head that night. She'd had a feeling it wasn't stomach flu when she heard Brooke groaning and sobbing softly.
Alarmed, she got up and checked on her friend. She's acting like I did last year when I had appendicitis, she thought. "Brooke, are you going to be okay while I go get your aunt and uncle?"
Brooke nodded and Tempe hurried down the hall to the master bedroom, hoping against hope she wasn't interrupting anything. That thought then made her blush, but she shook it off as she knocked on the door.
Chris opened the door, dressed in a t-shirt and sloppy pajama pants. "Tempe, what's going on?" he asked.
"It's Brooke; she's sick. I think she might have appendicitis." Tempe paused. "She's acting like I did when I had it last year."
Chris nodded and made his way down the hallway to the guest room, with Kim and Tempe on his heels. Brooke was lying in bed, groaning and holding her middle.
"Brooke, honey," he said. "Let me see what's going on here." He gently pried her arms out of the way and prodded her midsection. She cried out in pain. Whatever this is, she needs medical attention now, he decided as he picked her up and carried her from the room.
"Kim, we'll call John at the hospital," he said. She nodded and followed him and Tempe out of the brownstone.
At the hospital, the doctors poked and prodded, ordered tests, and Chris signed for her treatment as he was allowed. He also told the doctors to call her parents in Atlanta. After about thirty minutes, the doctor came into the waiting room.
"It looks like it's classic appendicitis," he said. "We won't know without further tests, but I feel it's better that we go in and remove it. Can you sign for her surgery?"
"I can; were you able to get a hold of her father, John Wilson?" he asked.
"Yes, he said for you to go ahead and sign off on her treatment. He and his wife will be catching the next plane out here."
Chris nodded and signed the release form. Kim sighed. All she could think was that her niece was going through surgery.
"An appendectomy is fairly risk-free," the doctor assured them. "Brooke will be in good hands."
Once the surgery was underway, Tempe and Kim both leaned against Chris. He chuckled. He was relieved that tomorrow was Saturday so there weren't any camp sessions and Tempe could crash at home that day.
A few hours later, the doctor came out to inform them that the surgery was a success and that Brooke was resting comfortably. "She should rest through the night, and maybe that's what you need to do too," he suggested.
"Is it possible for you to get a cot in her room so maybe I can stay with her, at least until her parents get here?" Tempe asked. She knew she didn't want Brooke to be alone, not with Thuy Tranh on the loose here in New York.
The doctor looked at Chris and Kim. They nodded, knowing what Tempe was thinking. "She has our number Doctor, and she'll be able to get a hold of us if she needs to," Chris said reassuringly.
"Fair enough. We'll get a hospital bed set up in recovery where Brooke is. She'll sleep there through the night." He turned to Tempe. "We'll let you sleep there."
Thuy Tranh watched as Kim and Chris left the hospital. He couldn't believe this opportunity had fallen into his hands. The gods are on my side, he thought.
He would slip into the girl's room and kill her. It would be the perfect plan. It would send Kim a message that he could get to her loved ones. He would enjoy forcing her to endure their deaths before killing her.
Yes, she will pay, slowly and painfully…