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Lauren looked up from her book to check on Sam as she lay under a blanket in her hospital bed. She was as white as the sheet but her blood pressure and breathing were doing well and the doctor had assured them that there would be no permanent damage. Thankfully, Sarah was a lousy shot and hadn’t struck any major organs, vessels or arteries. Sam’s tibia had been fractured by the bullet and her leg was bound tightly in a cast; her arm was in a sling but the first bullet Sarah fired had been a through and through, not tearing into much of the muscle. She would be in a lot of pain when she woke up but they were confident she would make a full recovery.

Lauren had just turned the next page in her book when a motion near the doorway caught her eye. AJ was standing there, about as white as Sam, hesitating to come in. Nick had talked to AJ while Sam was in surgery so this was the first time he’d actually seen her since they whisked her off the ambulance and into the emergency room.

“How is she?”

“Why don’t you come in and see for yourself.” Lauren prodded.

“I can’t.”

“Why?” she asked, watching his face. “The doctors said she was going to be fine AJ, the damage wasn’t as bad as it looks.”

He looked over at Sam again and he fell apart; Lauren had to get up quickly to help him make it into the room. She got him settled in a chair and watched him delicately pick up Sam’s hand and drop his head against it.

“Tell me what happened.” Lauren asked, putting her hand on his shoulder. “What happened out there?”

It took a few minutes before AJ was able to look up and, when he did, she saw the tears streaming down his face. Lauren knew how much he loved Sam and anyone could tell that this whole situation had torn him apart; she’d never seen AJ in such a bad place.

“I heard the shot.” AJ replied as he wept quietly. “I knew it was bad when I heard that shot.”

Lauren let him take a moment to collect himself; she hoped he would continue without prodding because she didn’t want to make it any worse.

“I saw her body lying on the bed when we got to the door and I thought she was dead. I didn’t even see Sarah’s body until Drew pulled me back.”

Nick had told Lauren that Sarah had fired the first two bullets but as she prepared for the final shot, the retired trooper that AJ had called, fired into her first. The bullet hit its mark and Sarah fell right where she had stood. If AJ hadn’t called her, Sam would most definitely be dead; Lauren couldn’t even imagine what that realization was doing to AJ right now.

As she was about to ask AJ what else they’d found at the motel, Sam’s eyes starting to flutter and she moaned in pain. Neither one moved; they wanted to make sure she was fully awake before they got too close to prevent scaring her. She moaned again and her eyes opened slightly; after blinking a few times, Sam’s eyes fully opened and searched the room , trying to figure out exactly where she was.

“It’s ok.” AJ said as he grabbed her hand tightly. “You’re ok Sam.”

He watched as his girlfriend tried to focus on him; he saw her eyes well with tears and the pain she was experiencing clearly etched on her face. It broke his heart to see her lying there in so much pain but, he had to admit that no matter what pain she was in, it was better to see her lying in a hospital bed than in a coffin.

“Where am I? Where is Sarah? Is Ryan here? Where are they?”

The questions came tumbling out before AJ had time to answer the first one. He could see the panic set in as the thought of Sarah or Ryan lurking around every corner flooded Sam’s mind.

“We need to leave right now.”

She struggled against the pillows, trying to remove the IV from her arm. It took all of Lauren and AJ’s strength to hold Sam against the bed so that she wouldn’t wrench her leg in the wrong direction. As her movement slowed down, AJ clicked the button for the nurse; he wanted them to give her something so that she wouldn’t hurt herself.

“It’s ok Sam, we don’t need to leave; it’s fine, everything’s fine.”

“No it’s not.” Tears filled her eyes. “She’s going to come back, she wants to kill me. She’s never going to stop.”

“Yes she will Sam.” AJ tried to calm her. “She’s never going to hurt you again.”

“Yes, she will! And this time, Ryan’s going to help her!”

“They’re not coming back Sam.” AJ paused before he made his next statement. “They can’t come back.”

“Why?” she asked, confusion passing over her face. “How can you be sure?”

“Because they’re dead.” he responded quietly. “They’re both dead.”