PART EIGHT

The heart monitor beeped stutteringly, the patient barely hanging on to life. His face a mess and his gown bloodstained from his wounds. He breathed raggedly, rasping. The door to ITU opened. Sophia Byrne edged inside and sat down beside him. She held her face in her hands and began to whimper. It had all gone wrong. The bitch was alive and her family in tatters. He stared at Sophia through narrowed, hateful eyes. Sophia did not notice. For ages there was a deathly silence lingering between them, then Sophia cleared her throat.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to go so far..."

"Due to the brutality of the attack, you may find it hard to recognise him," the Doctor told Jac and Lady Byrne. "Are you ready?" he asked. They both nodded. He prepared to pull the white sheet off the body's face. Jac and Lady Byrne said nothing. They looked at each other and could clearly see that both were thinking the same thing. "Is it him?" the Doctor asked abruptly. Without a word, they both shook their heads. "Are you sure?"

"That is not my Joseph," Lady Byrne said solemnly.

"Who is it?" The Doctor asked.

"Bernard." Jac said quietly. "It's Bernard, Joseph's cousin." The Doctor sighed heavily. He replaced the sheet over Bernard's face and shut the door to the freezer.

"Thank you," Lady Byrne said to him. She turned to Jac.

"Hospital?" Jac prompted. She nodded in agreement.

Sophia stared out the window. She screwed up her eyes in concentration. It couldn't be? Surely not...Jac sodding Naylor and her own mother were walking side by side up to the hospital. They must be on their way to see him, Sophia thought. She mustn't be seen. She had to escape. They were inside now. Time was running out. What could she do? What if her mother didn't believe her? Jac must have indoctrinated her. There was a mumble behind her. Sophia wheeled around like a shot.

"Joseph?" Sophia asked. Another mumble. "Do you need me to get somebody?" Joseph found his voice at last.

"Get out," he said softly, his breathing still raspy. "Get out of my sight."

"Joseph please..."

"I don't want to look at you!"

"Please."

"JUST GET OUT!" Joseph reached for the panic button. Sophia deflated, she knew it was no good.

"Okay, I'm going." Sophia strode out the room, her eyes filled with tears. She walked away just in the nick of time as Jac and Lady Byrne appeared at the other end. Jac pushed open the door to ITU. They walked inside.

"Joseph?" Jac asked cautiously.

"Jac. Is that you?" Joseph's voice called out from the bed in front. A wave of elation flooded Jac, for the first time in ages she felt truly happy! Lady Byrne watched from the back of the room as Jac rushed to Joseph's side and held his hand in hers. It gladdened her heart to see how in love Jac and Joseph were.

"Hello you..." Jac said softly. "Thought I'd lost you..."

"You, lose me? Never," Joseph said with a faint smile.

"How are you?" Jac asked.

"Recovering..."

"What does that mean?"

"They think I might be able to move off ITU today, still a long way to go yet though," Joseph told her.

"That's good news. You'll be okay. We'll be home together in no time," Jac told him optimistically.

"I know." Jac squeezed his hand. "Sophia was here earlier..."

"What?" came Lady Byrne's voice from the corner.

"I said, Sophia was here earlier, you just missed her," Joseph said. Jac stood up from him. Lady Byrne strode over to her.

"Jac?" she asked. Jac nodded silently. She looked down to Joseph and whispered goodbye.

"I'll be back later. I love you," she told him.

"Love you too..." Without another word Jac left ITU.

Jac turned down a corridor and at last she saw her, Sophia's dress whipping out of sight. Jac began to run, chasing after her.

"Jac?" Michael Spence called, his voice full of surprise.

"Not now Michael, call the police!" Jac shouted. She could hear Sophia running now. "CALL THE POLICE YOU IDIOTIC AMERICAN!" Jac shouted as she ran after Sophia. Michael was confused.

"What's going on?" he asked. Jac turned back as she ran.

"She did it!" At last something clicked in Michael's mind. He dialled the number. Jac was now out of sight, still chasing after Sophia. They were running up to the roof! Sophia threw open the door and strode on to the roof. She ran to the edge and came to a skidding halt. "There's nowhere left to run!" Jac called after her.

"Get lost!" Sophia spat at her, looking down to the ground below. The wind was beginning to pick up. Sophia swayed unsteadily on her heels.

"Give it up Sophia, the police are on their way. It's over," Jac told her. Sophia's mind began to calculate viciously.

"Not if I can help it."

"Oh come on Sophia what are you going to do? Throw yourself over? That's really going to help isn't it?" Sirens now filled the air, just about audible over the deafening roars of the wind. Sophia's face contorted into a cruel smile.

"I could make it look like you pushed me..."

"You know what I don't care. Throw yourself over. You've lost everything Sophia! And what for?"

"I will not let you destroy my family!"

"You already have. I'm the one helping to put it back together."

"I know you'll hurt him again! I know it!" Sophia shouted manically.

"I love him Sophia and I'm sorry, but he loves me too. Hasn't this shown you that?"

"I don't deny your love," Sophia said softly. "But you will hurt him, it's just in the nature of someone like you."

"I promise you Sophia, I will never hurt him again. I give you my word."

"Your word?!" Sophia laughed so hard that she swayed dangerously again.

"Come on Sophia, get away from the edge. What about your children?"

"I've lost them already..." Sophia said hollowly.

"What?" Jac asked surprised.

"Their father took them. Won custody and after this, I'll never get them back." She looked back to the edge.

"You certainly won't if you kill yourself," Jac told her firmly.

"Do you think they'll ever want to know me after this?!" Sophia demanded.

"Maybe not, but do you want their last memory of you to be a cowardly escape?" Sophia sighed.

"No..." She stepped down from the railing but just as she put her foot down on the ground another huge gust of wind swept over her and she stumbled backwards. Jac, realising what was happening, ran after her and grabbed her hand just in time. Sophia was hanging over the edge, Jac desperately trying to pull her back over but the wind was pushing her over too! Far below the police had arrived. They ran into the hospital, tearing up to the roof. Jac still clung on to Sophia's hand, but she could feel it slipping.

"I'm not going to let you go!" Jac said in a strained voice. With a tremendous effort Jac wrenched Sophia back on to the roof and miraculously she succeeded. They fell backwards on top of each other. Just at that moment they heard the door open. Sophia clambered to her feet.

"Sophia Byrne," came the voice of John Keenan.

"Yes."

"I'm arresting you for the murder of Bernard Byrne and the attempted murder of Joseph Byrne. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court." Keenan cuffed her and she was led away. He turned to Jac. "You okay?"

"I'm fine. It's just been a stressful week." Keenan smiled. Without another word, they walked back inside the warmth of the building.

Three months later

Jac looked down at herself. She was beginning to show very slightly. Joseph was home today, permanently for the first time in ages. He did not know her news yet. She'd been keeping it from him, wanting to wait until they were both home together. The doorbell rang. Jac answered with a smile. Joseph stood, as right as rain, on their doorstep.

"Hello Jac," he said with a smile. His gaze took in her bump and his eyes widened in surprise.

"I've got something to tell you," Jac said. "Let's get you inside first though." Joseph entered their home and they moved silently into their living room. They sat down together.

"So what is it?" Joseph asked, though they both knew.

"I'm pregnant." Jac said. Joseph's face lit up.

"That's brilliant!" They embraced each other and kissed.

THE END