The paramedics had arrived, and they were setting up gurneys, checking the bodies, as if there were any point.
The female officer tilted her head and asked. “Are you all right?”
The question was almost funny. I shook my head.
“I think she’s in shock,” she said to an EMT. “Do a quick check, and we’ll take her to the hospital.”
“We’ve got another one here,” a voice said. I followed the source of it and saw Jamie, flanked by two cops.
“I told them,” he said loudly, too loudly, as he passed. “About your crazy ex.”
“Your ex-boyfriend?” the female officer asked me. “Which one?”
I looked at Jude.
“This your boyfriend?” She tipped her head at Noah, at his body, as he was being lifted onto a gurney without urgency. I nodded numbly, dumbly. They were going to take him away. I didn’t know how I would bear it.
“I think I know what happened here,” the female officer said in a low voice to another, who had joined her. “We’ll track down the parents once we get to the hospital.” She put her hand on my elbow as they began to wheel Noah’s body away. My limbs felt like lead. I couldn’t move. I could barely see. My vision blurred with tears. I blinked furiously, but they just kept coming.
The female officer tugged me in the direction of the exit just as one of the paramedics lifted a sheet to cover Noah’s face. I saw him blink.
Face covered, wheels squeaking. Noah was almost gone when I finally managed to say, “Wait.”
No one heard me the first time, so the second time I screamed it.
The action stopped. The paramedic who had done the face covering must have seen something in my expression, though, because he looked at me and then back down at Noah, and then lifted the sheet.
“Holy shit,” he murmured. “He’s breathing.”
A second ago, the air had been dead, practically silent, but now it buzzed with frenzy. Paramedics swarmed around Noah, blocking him from view. I caught a glimpse of an oxygen mask being placed over his face as I was pulled away from him by more than one pair of hands. I watched his eyes open, and beneath the clear mask I thought I caught a hint of that half smile that I loved and missed so much.
I’d seen a lot of things since all of this had started though. And not all of them had been real.
But as Noah passed me, he slipped his hand off the gurney. His skin brushed mine. Electrified it.
He was alive. He was real.
A MACHINE BEEPED TO THE left of noah’s hospital bed as another on his right hissed. I could see them, hear them, as I was escorted past his open door. Two police officers flanked it, and when they noticed me trying to peer in, one of them moved to close it. Detective Howard—that was the female officer’s name—led me to a makeshift interrogation room. Number 1213, I noticed.
“The doctor says your boyfriend is recovering remarkably well. Astonishingly well,” she added. “That chest wound of his—it looked pretty bad, like his aorta might’ve been punctured, even. The paramedics thought he was dead. . . . They don’t usually make mistakes like that.”
She stared, waiting for me to speak, but what could I say? That I wanted him alive, so he lived?
What a crazy thing to think.
“Your friend—Jamal, right?—told me what happened to you. He gave us your parents’ number, and we’ve called your mother and left a voice mail. Hopefully she’ll be here soon.”
“But I’d like to hear what happened from you, in your own words, before she gets here, if you can tell me.”
I could, but I wouldn’t. I was a lawyer’s daughter, after all. I tilted my head forward, veiling my face with my hair. I was a psychologist’s daughter too. I knew what I needed to do.
“You were all in some kind of, what, treatment center together?”
You could say that. I looked at the table and blinked as if I hadn’t heard her.
“This must be very difficult for you,” she said gently, trying a different tactic.
I bit my lip, hard, so I wouldn’t laugh. She thought I was trying not to cry, and put a comforting hand on my shoulder.
“If it was self-defense, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
Little did she know.
“Just a few more questions, and then the doctors will come in to talk to you, okay?”
“Someone reported a homicide at that abandoned warehouse. Any idea who that might’ve been?”
I had my suspicions; David Shaw topped the list. He thought I was dead, of course, and someone would have to answer for killing me, wouldn’t they? He was going to blame it on Jude, I bet.
“And the hospital admitted a boy not much older than you, not far from the warehouse, only a half hour before we got there. Any idea who that might’ve been?”
My heart seized on the idea, but I couldn’t ask. I couldn’t say anything. I looked out the window instead. We were on the twelfth floor, and New York City stretched out below us. It looked like a doll world from up here, with pieces I could move or play with or break.
The door squeaked on its hinges, and a doctor gestured from the doorway to Detective Howard. “Psych’s on the way,” he said in a low voice. “Someone’s here to see her, though.”
A person stood behind him, but I couldn’t see who it was.
“Are you the mother?” the detective asked.
But the woman who stepped into the room was not my mother. She was young, in her twenties, and wore tortoiseshell glasses on her pale, round, freckled face. She was outfitted in skinny jeans and Chucks, and for the life of me, I had no idea who she was.
She extended her hand to the detective. “I’m Rochelle Hoffman. I’m the lawyer.”
SHE WAS JAMIE’S COUSIN, IT turned out. He’d called her as soon as he’d dispatched his police escort. Then he’d given the cops her number and told them it belonged to my parents. They believed him, of course. They had no choice.
When I was finally alone with her, I cut the catatonic act and told her I wanted to talk to Jamie. She made it happen, probably with Jamie’s help, and left us alone. He pulled up a chair and sat in it backward.
“So. Here’s the deal.”
He could not talk fast enough to satisfy me.
“Daniel’s in the hospital too.” I opened my mouth to ask about him, but Jamie said quickly, “He’s okay. We’ll have to Wormtongue our way in after dark or something, stage a hospital break for him and Noah. Maybe during the shift change.”