Kane watched Charles press the button for the fifth floor. He told Kane, ‘Rebecca replaced Kevin Boyle at ATM News. Anna had just bought the ATM channel and she wanted fresh blood. She’d heard about Boyle and the way he harassed the female production staff. He was nearly always drunk on the job and there were rumours that he did drugs. Anna wanted a fresh start for ATM and its news to boost the ratings. She told me that she had always admired Rebecca and was keen for her to be working for the channel’s news team. I fired Boyle for her. Now he’s working free lance for newspapers. He does a lot of work for that rag, The Popular Press.’
‘The celebrity driven one that loves to dish the dirt and makes it all up as they go along?’
‘That’s the one. It’s a shame really, he used to be a good journalist and correspondent.’
‘Hell of a comedown.’
‘Yes I suppose it is. That’s why he is so mad at Rebecca.’
‘Has he been bothering her?’
‘Yes. He’s been… well you could say, stalking her. She tried to keep it quiet but Anna found out at the annual ATM Ball at the Grosvenor a couple of weeks ago. He came in hurling abuse at her. He was drunk. Normally she would brush him off, but he was getting in her face that night, physically pushing her around. But Rebecca still didn’t want anyone’s help.’
There was contempt and disbelief in Charles’s voice. Kane surmised that he’d tried to intervene to help her out but she’d given him the classic feminist Rebecca shove off. Charles continued, ‘She never wants anyone’s help. She never shows fear of anything. I sometimes wonder if she is even capable of feeling it. But then maybe she is just better at hiding it than the rest of us. She should be frightened of Boyle. I have seen what he is capable of – he is a nasty piece of work.’
Kane couldn’t help but sympathise with Charles’s point of view regarding Rebecca, but he noticed that Charles looked uncomfortable telling him about Boyle. His mind looked to be somewhere else for a moment, remembering something, something connected with Boyle that he wasn’t going to mention.
‘I should have been told about him,’ Kane said evenly. ‘He is a credible threat to Rebecca’s security. I’ll have him checked out when my team gets here.’ They stepped out of the lift and began walking along the long corridor.
‘You’re right, I should have mentioned he might be here. I’m sorry. Rebecca is a close friend and I have been a bit distracted since she disappeared. I… we have all been worried sick about her. At the party she nearly lost her temper with Boyle. It doesn’t happen very often but she was shouting back at him. They were talking privately but someone heard him make the fatal mistake of insulting her brother. Boyle said he knew what Michael Eaton was up to and when he found out more he was going to blow the whole story wide. It was going to destroy her career as well as her brother’s. One of the runners on the 10 o’clock news reckons that Boyle always had a soft spot for Rebecca when she first became a correspondent. Some of his friends bet him that he couldn’t get her into bed – he was a very successful womaniser back in his day, Mr Kane – but Rebecca found out about the bet and publicly humiliated him for it. When she got his job it was the final straw. Now he is out for some sort of revenge.’
“What about Anna Harker? Did she ask Rebecca what was going on?’
‘Yes, but she didn’t get very far. Rebecca fobbed her off at first, but Anna has a way of persuading people to her give her what she wants. Rebecca eventually told her that Boyle held a grudge and was making stuff up about her brother having to steal money from his private patients to pay gambling debts. Boyle had said that he was getting them to pay for procedures and treatments that hadn’t even been carried out. Anna was worried there was more to it. She didn’t like the way Boyle physically threatened Rebecca. She insisted that Rebecca took out an injunction on him.’
Kane gave a small incredulous laugh. ‘And you are complaining about the way I treated him?’
‘No, sorry. I just worry about the bad press, part of the job I am afraid. I don’t want to give Boyle an excuse to bad mouth Rebecca to people in the industry. I couldn’t help thinking there was more to it. I even wondered if Boyle might have been speaking the truth this time by the way she acted. She was so down, withdrawn. I thought she might have confided in me like she normally does, but she didn’t.’
Charles had slowed to a standstill. He bent his head and stared at the floor. ‘She told me she could handle everything. It was working out and I wasn’t to fuss. Two weeks later she went to South Bundhara and disappeared.’
‘Charles, did you know that Rebecca was planning to go to South Bundhara?’ It was a hunch but Kane had a feeling that Charles had known.
‘Yes, yes I did. She told me to tell her brother if she didn’t come back. I begged her not to go. I reminded her about the way the last two journalists who were caught by terrorists were murdered. I was afraid for her, but she didn’t want to listen. She said she had no choice. There was something she needed to find out, needed to expose, and someone she needed to protect. She told me not to worry. As if I wouldn’t… She told me I had to trust her and when she got back she would be able to tell me everything.’
Kane heard the bitterness in Charles’s words loud and clear. However improbable it sounded, Kane had an uneasy feeling that Rebecca’s run in with Boyle had something to do with her trip to South Bundhara. He told Charles, ‘I am going to have Boyle followed. I want to know what he has on Rebecca and her brother and whether it has anything to do with her deciding to go to South Bundhara to interview a terrorist.’
‘You really think he has something to do with all of this? I don’t see how.’
Kane shrugged his shoulders. ‘It’s just a hunch. It’s the timing of it all. My hunches are usually right and we have to try every angle however much of a long shot it is. Until Rebecca gets her memory back, we are blind.’
* * * * *
They neared the end of the corridor of private rooms. The place represented a five star hotel more than it did a hospital. Just like the hospital his sister resided in there was no harsh disinfectant or clinical odour. No claustrophobic white corridor that stretched for miles. Not like the one his selfish mother and step father had deposited his sister in after they evicted her from her home and stole the money that Kane’s father had left her. The potted plants, antique lamps and chairs that adorned the small corners on top of the beige carpet gave the place a welcoming homely feel. He was glad Rebecca was in such comfortable surroundings. It made his mind more at ease that she was being cared for in the best sense of the word.
As he approached Rebecca’s room raised English voices were suddenly audible. Two of them belonged to men. They were harsh, demanding and threatening. The other voice was female, weary, frustrated and tired. Rebecca. Kane’s pace increased. His heart beat picked up its rhythm. He wanted to be inside the room as quickly as possible. She needed him.
There were two police officers sitting outside her door chatting. One of them was reading a newspaper. Kane briefly wondered if he should stage a sneak attack, see how they would react. But he knew it was a waste of time. He already knew what kind of reaction he would get. A slow dumb one. One of them straightened in his chair as he approached. ‘Mr Kane, we have been told you were coming, please go in.’ He wasn’t asked for any ID.
Kane decided against wasting his time on lecturing on them. He would have them removed the moment his team arrived. Now he was there Rebecca was his priority. He opened the door and strode in. She commanded his full attention. She was trying to sit up in her bed but a man was pushing her back down and holding her there. She was so pale and drawn. Her brow was covered in beads of sweat and her bruised features were tight and frowning with pain. He heard Rebecca say, ‘I have told you over and over again I can’t remember anything. I can’t even remember my own bloody name. How the hell can I tell you about this Doctor Somwan? I can’t help you…’
The man who leant over her bed was too close to her face. His arms were across her trapping her movement. He said angrily, ‘Well if you want me to connect your drip again and allow you to have a little more morphine to ease the pain, you will start remembering.’
Rebecca’s answer was swift, ‘Go to hell.’
‘Right, I want her in isolation and put in restraints, the works, I don’t care what it takes. No food, no water, no communication with anyone including her brother. And get me a doctor that can give her something to make her memory come back,’ he demanded of his younger colleague standing on the other side of Rebecca’s bed. He leaned in even closer. Kane watched her press her head back into the pillow vainly attempting to lean away from the man. He said, ‘I can keep you like this for days Rebecca, until you start talking to me – if you don’t die first.’
Kane waited until Charles was through the door and then took hold of its handle and slammed it shut hard. The two men turned quickly. Rebecca looked up towards him startled. She stared at him and he found himself holding his breath. But there was nothing, no recognition. Only confusion at his own expression filled those haunted deep swirling emerald eyes of hers. He forced himself to ignore his crippling disappointment and narrowed his eyes at the man leaning over her.
‘Who the hell are you?’ the man demanded aggressively.
Kane told him in a stern velvet voice, ‘No, the question is, who are you? And why are you threatening, Ms Eaton?’
‘I am not threatening her, merely trying to be persuasive. Who are you?’ the man made no attempt to move away from Rebecca as he repeated his question. Kane watched his eyes flick at his colleague who started walking towards him. Kane put his arm up, firmly indicating the man should remain where he was.
‘My name is Dominic Kane. I am here to take care of Ms Eaton’s security and to escort her safely home. Please step away from her.’
The older man looked irritated. He told Kane, ‘Rebecca doesn’t need any security. We are from the British Embassy and we are taking care of her safety. You are not needed here.’
‘I beg to differ,’ Kane said with a sinister smile. ‘You aren’t exactly doing a very good job of protecting her. An attempt has been made on her life in your care. And last time I checked Embassy officials don’t threaten and torture people. That’s more what your real employer, MI5 would do.’
The man straightened and stared at Kane with wide eyes. He looked as though he had just been found with his hand stuck in the cookie jar. ‘I have told you we are from the British Embassy…’
Kane interrupted him, ‘Do the North Bundenese police know who you are and that you are operating on their soil? I bet they don’t. They won’t be happy when they find out who they are really dealing with.’
A dark cloud shadowed the man’s pinched face. Kane wanted him away from the bed and from Rebecca. The man folded his arms defensively. ‘Mr Kane, you have a vivid imagination. My name is Marcus Allbright and I am from the British Embassy and your help is unnecessary. Mr Jones, please show Mr Kane out.’
Kane took a step forward into the path of the very obedient pit bull Mr Jones as he came towards him. ‘I am not going anywhere. I am going to give you both precisely thirty seconds to leave this room or I am going to make you leave myself. Then I am going to tell the police of your threats to Ms Eaton and the way you have tortured her for information. I am sure the English press downstairs will be most interested as well. Maybe by this evening you will be enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame back home and making headline news all over the world. Your superiors will be more than pleased with your progress.’
Allbright’s pencil thin frame tightened. Then he slowly smiled. Kane said gruffly, ‘So, are you going to leave or do I have to make you?’
Allbright looked at Jones, ‘I think we will have to wait for another opportunity to interview Ms Eaton and settle the score with Mr Kane here. He seems to have us, I believe the expression is… by the balls.’ Allbright turned to Rebecca, ‘As they say in the movies, I will be back.’
Kane told him firmly, ‘And I will be waiting.’ He watched them leave the room before turning back to Rebecca. She was sitting up shaking violently, bent double with pain, her arms wrapped tightly around her stomach. Kane snapped at Charles quickly, ‘Get a doctor in here now.’ He started moving towards her, glancing at Charles who hadn’t jumped at his order. He was gawking at Rebecca, horrified. There were tears in his eyes. Kane raised his voice and repeated the order, ‘Now Charles. She’s in agony.’
Charles stared at him almost in a trance and then nodded furiously. The door banged closed after him as he rushed out. Kane sat down on the bed next to Rebecca. He wanted to reach out and draw her to him, just hold her in his arms. But he was afraid to touch her, frightened she would flinch away in fear or that he may hurt her bruised body. He felt helpless, useless to her. His hand hovered over her shoulder as he looked down at her bent head with painful concern.
He touched her briefly and told her, ‘A doctor is coming. Is there anything I can get you? Anything I can do?’ He could hear the desperation in his voice. Her heart monitor was bleeping loud and erratic. Her heart rate was up with the stress of her ordeal and her pain. So was his own but for different reasons – anger, frustration, anxiety. His need to make intimate contact with her – just to simply hold her and give her comfort was overwhelming and crushing him. She didn’t answer him. She was silent, too immersed in her own pain.
He asked her, ‘Can I get you some water?’ She lifted her head and nodded. He felt some relief, grateful that he’d been given a task. He stood up and poured her a drink before sitting back down again. ‘Here.’ He watched her prise a shaking hand from around her stomach to reach out and take the cup of water but she was unable to hold it. The liquid split out down the sides and over the bed. She was unable to complete the action. He heard her give a whimper. Kane closed his palms around the cup, and over her hand to help her bring it to her lips.
She tried to force more of the liquid into her mouth than was good for her. She had obviously been denied any refreshment for a while and was desperate for liquid. He whispered to her, ‘Easy, easy. Take small sips. There.’ He was concentrating on helping her drink slowly when he became acutely aware that her hooded pained eyes were looking at him with intense curiosity. He asked her softly, ‘How long have they been denying you treatment and pain relief?’
‘Since surgery,’ her voice sounded hoarse. ‘They denied me any water. It’s been several hours I think. I can’t work out the time or where I am anymore. I just feel pain. That’s all I know. I can’t remember anything that happened to me. I found myself running, bleeding. I made it onto a road and a UN soldier found me. I can’t remember anymore than that. I wish I could.’
‘Come on drink some more water. You are dehydrated.’ He directed the cup to her lips once more. She looked feverish. Where the hell is the doctor? She shook her head. He watched her slip her hand out from under his around the cup and put her arm back around her waist as though holding herself would make the pain more bearable. He put the cup down on her nightstand and instinctively reached out to rub the top of her arm. Her head was bent once more. ‘Hold on, the doctor is coming.’
Her breath was panting as she asked him, ‘Who did you say you were again?
‘Dominic Kane. Anna Harker, your employer, sent me to bring you home and make sure you are safe.’ This was crazy. They’d shared a bed together, made love.
‘I don’t know who she is.’
‘She’s not just your employer, she’s one of your friends.’
A small cry suddenly escaped her lips. It appeared unintentional. Kane guessed she was probably unaware she’d uttered it. Her shaking increased. He hesitated and then rubbed her arm again. Then he flat out decided to throw caution to the wind. Stuff keeping your distance. She needs you, whether she knows it or not. Hold her.
He put his arms around her slowly, making sure she was happy with the action. He held her gently and didn’t smother her against him. He whispered to her, ‘Hey, hold on to me. I won’t hurt you. Let me help.’ He waited for rejection but she didn’t push him away. He felt her pull her hands from her stomach and her fingers latch onto the arms of his suit jacket. They twisted around the material, holding on. He heard her give one solitary sob of relief. He was surprised when he felt the weight of her head fall against his shoulder exhausted. His heart flipped. He wanted to hold her tighter but refrained, frightened he may have hurt her. I should never have let you go, walk away from me like that. God, I’ve missed you.
After a minute she sat up and moved back from him. He felt the pain of loss immediately. He still maintained a gentle contact on her arms. She told him, ‘I’m sorry, I’m in so much pain I don’t know what I am doing.’
‘No it’s fine. I’m glad I could help.’ He felt stupid saying that. What else was he going to say? He couldn’t tell her who he was. Charles had told him that Harker’s own doctors had advised her that they had to be careful with Rebecca’s memory. She hadn’t to feel any more pressurized than she did already to remember people and events. He ached to hold her again but the door burst open.
Kane quickly turned to the door to assess the threat. He recognised the man from photographs. Mr Tall Dark and Handsome himself, the arrogant surgeon, Michael Eaton stood in the doorway. And you don’t look too happy with me. Not sure I would be either if I found me, a stranger, holding my abused sister I was trying to protect.
Two doctors pushed past Michael. Michael shouted at him hard, ‘What the hell are you doing with my sister? Take your hands off her now.’
‘Michael. That’s your name isn’t it?’ Rebecca panted. ‘Relax, he’s here to help.’
Charles came in behind Michael and started trying to placate him, explaining to him what was going on. Michael was having none of it. Kane ignored him for a moment, his main concern was Rebecca. He helped lower her back in the bed so one of the doctors could reconnect her drips. She murmured thanks as she lay back on the pillows and he lowered her arms on to the bed.
Kane felt Michael tug on his arm sharply, making every attempt to move him away from Rebecca. Rebecca didn’t need the aggravation of her brother shouting at him over her bed. He started leading Michael away, hearing one of the doctors threaten to have them both removed if they didn’t stop disturbing her patient. The woman had a point.
Michael shoved him hard. Kane let it go. ‘I don’t care who you are or who sent you. I don’t want you near my sister. I told Harker that I could look after her. I don’t need any help. I made the mistake of trusting the police and those Embassy staff.’ Michael jabbed a finger at him, ‘I am trusting no one else with her safety, and that includes you, Mr Kane.’
Michael appeared desperate. He was clearly afraid for Rebecca and was coming out fighting. Kane could only feel admiration and sympathy for him. It was almost a shame he was going to squash Michael and take control away from him.
Kane made sure he held eye contact with Michael to convey that he could be trusted and he was not a threat. ‘I am here to help Rebecca, Mr Eaton. I am here to make sure she is adequately protected for the duration of her stay in this hospital and to get her home safely.’ Kane deepened the firmness in his calm tone, ‘You cannot do this alone. It is beyond one man. The people who took your sister and who caused her injuries are clearly dangerous. They will have no hesitation in killing you or anyone else who gets in their way if they come back for her again. They will be professional killers, soldiers most likely. You cannot take them on alone. You need my help and you are more than aware of that fact.’
Michael stood quiet for a moment, still glaring. Kane could see him thinking about it. He watched Michael look over at his sister and saw his dark eyes cloud with pain. Rebecca was moving her head from side to side in agony as the doctors fussed over her. Kane bent his head. Seeing her helpless like that was disturbing, crushing. Not being able to do anything about it was worse. Michael turned back to him. ‘I want the best for my sister, Mr Kane, and I suppose if Anna sent you then you will be well qualified. I don’t have to like it though.’
‘No you don’t. But I need you to give me your full co-operation and trust. I don’t want you to get in my way or I won’t be able to do my job effectively. You will be playing with your sister’s life.’
Michael frowned and then slowly nodded. But as he glanced back at his sister, Kane suspected he could not be fully relied upon not to intervene. He watched Michael go back to his sister and stand by her bed. He leant over her, still agitated, ‘Becca, I have told hospital security and the police I won’t tolerate those men from the Embassy in your room again. I have been on the phone to the Foreign Office, the Home Office, anyone I could get to make them stop what they were doing to you. I’ve been passed from pillar to post. No one would listen to me.’
Kane moved next to him as Michael said, ‘They had her hands handcuffed to the rails on her bed at one point. She did her damndest to fight them and get her hands out. Didn’t you, Becca?’
Rebecca’s voice was tired when she spoke but there was a faint trace of humour behind it, ‘Someone had to try to stop you from punching out an Embassy official. You shouldn’t punch people, you said you were a surgeon.’ Michael gave her a shaky smile, obviously hurt because she could not remember him.
He leaned over her and brushed a hair from her forehead, hushing her softly. ‘Shhh, Becca, you are more important.’ He turned to Kane and revealed his anxiety in a whisper, ‘They forced me out of the room. They kept me out. They are going to come back aren’t they? If they do I won’t be able to stop myself this time… I will do whatever it takes to keep them away from her.’
Kane nodded. ‘You won’t have to do anything. I will be waiting for them. They won’t be allowed anywhere near Rebecca. That I can promise you.’
‘Good.’ Michael was frowning as he spoke. He looked down at Rebecca critically. Kane watched him place the back of his hand on her forehead. ‘Becca, you are burning up.’
The Consultant, Mrs Han, said with a smile of confidence, ‘Don’t worry, Mr Eaton. We are giving her a strong antibiotic to control the infection to her surgical wound. Luckily it’s slight and we shouldn’t have too much trouble with it. Her temperature will come down to a more manageable level. I will get a fan brought in to help as well. I need to keep her closely monitored. Sometimes, as I am sure you are aware Mr Eaton, there is a risk that she might develop pneumonia.’
Michael murmured his approval. He tenderly moved the back of his fingers to Rebecca’s cheek and stroked it gently. Kane found himself mesmerised by the simple comforting action. In a firm, commanding voice Kane heard Michael tell his sister, ‘Rebecca, you need to rest now. I want you to get your strength back. I want you sedated.’ It was quite clear Michael was expecting resistance. She wouldn’t have been the woman Kane knew if she hadn’t given him any, even in her current state.
She started to try and sit up again but Michael held her down. There was an audible crack of emotion in his voice as he said,’ Rebecca please. You have to let me do this. You would do the same for me. Let me sort this all out.’
‘No. I don’t want to go to sleep again. I don’t want to be in this hospital, I don’t trust any of them.’ She sounded delirious as she tossed her head from side to side fighting Michael’s grip on her. ‘Things happen when I go to sleep. I might not wake up. I don’t want to sleep. Please Michael, take me home where it’s safe. I’m afraid Michael, please take me home.’
Fear, fury and emotion all played a part in Michael’s tone as he told his sister, ‘I can’t, Becca. We have to get you well. Who did this to you? Who threatened you?’
There was no answer. Kane shook his head at Michael warning him not to press her for information now. He looked at the Consultant who was preparing a syringe as Michael struggled with Rebecca. Kane asked the woman, ‘How long are you going to keep her out?’
‘As long as it takes. I will monitor the situation. She needs rest. Her internal injuries and the infection need time to heal without movement. I don’t want her any more stressed than she already has been by those men. I have never been stopped from helping a patient in my life and…’
Kane interrupted her quickly, an idea forming in his mind, ‘I want you to keep her heavily sedated for as long as you can. It’s for her own safety. It will stop those men hounding her for information. I want you to tell me first before you wake her up.’