Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1) (4 page)

BOOK: Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)
13.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“I accept responsibility.”

“Fine, I’ll have the proper paperwork sent down later today. But I’ve got to say, an eighteen year old girl has no business…,”

“I accept responsibility.”

“Miss Murphy, would you like to know the extent of your own injuries?” The doctor gave up trying to sway her.

“I would.”

“You have two broken ribs, a badly lacerated back, a pretty nasty concussion, and a small wound on your forehead that will eventually need a little cosmetic surgery to conceal completely. You were very, very lucky.”

“Thank you,” she said. “How long?”

“How long will you need to be in the hospital?” he asked.

Sunny nodded.

“You’ve been here since early yesterday morning. If your concussion shows no sign of impairing you, I’d say you could be released tomorrow.”

“And Willie?”

“Your friend was not so lucky, Miss Murphy. We’re doing everything we can to keep her alive long enough to give her baby a fighting chance. I’m afraid her prognosis is bleak at best.”

A tear gathered in the corner of Sunny’s eye. It finally spilled over and made its slow progress down the length of her face. “I can be with her?”

“Of course,” he assured her. “As soon as you’ve signed all the forms, you’ll be considered her temporary next-of-kin. You can visit her in the ICU once an hour for fifteen minutes. But I must stress again, your friend is not awake. She’ll not know you’re there. And a hospital waiting room is uncomfortable in the best of circumstance. Your broken ribs will not thank you for the hours, if not days, of sitting in hard uncomfortable chairs.”

“I’ll be fine.”

The doctor looked over at the waiting deputy. The man merely shrugged. The girl was a legal adult. She could do whatever she wanted, as long as it wasn’t unlawful. Nobody could stop her. Dunn shouldered the doctor out of the way. He stood like a sentinel by the bedside. He began his questioning in a monotone voice totally devoid of emotion.

“Tell me what happened to you yesterday morning, Miss Murphy.”

“I got home late. My father began to beat me in the yard. Willie tried to save me.”

“Your friend is the one who called 911?”


“What about the rest of your family Miss Murphy? What did they do?”

“They watched my father beat me.”

“They didn’t try to stop him?”

“My mother couldn’t. My brother, Lee, had her in some kind of choke hold.”

“He restrained your mother?”


“How about your friend? What happened to her?”

“My father threw her to the ground and began kicking her.”

“That’s when you intervened?”

“I tried to stop him, if that’s what you mean. It didn’t do much good. Willie was already unconscious.”

“I need to ask you another question now, Miss Murphy. And I want you to think long and hard before you answer. It’s imperative that you tell me the truth. Do you understand?”


“Had your father ever beaten you before? You were considered a minor until two days ago. Child abuse is not tolerated in the tri-county area. So I need to know if he ever hurt you before.”

“Yes, he did,” she said. Her voice was weak and hoarse, but she was finished hiding her father’s actions and protecting her mother’s reputation.

“Were there any witnesses to collaborate this abuse?”

“My mother and my brother.”

“Both your mother and your brother saw this abuse?”


“Miss Murphy, your brother has a long history with law enforcement here. I doubt he will testify to anything that will make him an accessory. And your mother cannot be made to testify against her husband. Your father is going to jail for a very long time for what he did to both you and your friend yesterday. But I’m afraid, without witness testimony concerning the earlier abuse. Your father will not be charged for those crimes.”

“I know. It doesn’t matter. It was enough that I got to tell the truth to somebody.”

He clicked off the portable recording device. He stowed away the pen and the pad. He leaned down as close as he could. He whispered so the doctor couldn’t hear. “I believe you Sunny. I’m going to make sure your brother and mother can’t hurt you. I’ll make sure your daddy never sees the outside of that prison he’s going to. And I’ll do everything within my power to see that you get your friend’s baby. I’ll be honest, you’ve got a long, hard row to hoe. But you’ve got the grit to see it through.”

“Thank you,” she whispered back to him. It was then that she noticed he wasn’t so very old. And his eyes were an amazing shade of blue.

He squeezed the hand that lay dead by her side. He turned to address the doctor. “I’m finished with Miss Murphy.”

Together the men walked out of the room. Sunny wondered just what she’d gotten herself into. She surely wasn’t going to be using that acceptance letter to the Gulf Coast Ballet. She had very little money, a mountain of medical debt, and the prospect of raising a child all by herself.


Three Weeks Later


Sunny watched the clock on the waiting room’s beige wall with a laser-like intensity. It was fifteen minutes to midnight. Any time now, a nurse would come out and invite selected members of a patient’s family to go back and see their loved ones. Willie didn’t have any family. She only had Sunny.

The honey-haired girl had kept a daily vigil in this drab waiting room for the last several weeks. She’d gotten to know all the nurses and staff. They’d gone out of their way to make her comfortable. Pillows, snacks, and coffee regularly found their way to the young woman.

Sunny went home after the midnight visit every day. And home had become a much more comfortable environment. The café was closed. Her father was tried and sentenced in record time. If poor Willie died, he’d probably be tried again, this time on a murder charge. Chances were good he would die in prison.

Sunny couldn’t say she was sorry for that outcome. He’d earned his cell. And he’d earned his time. She would be happy never to see him again. Her mother had decided to take an extended trip to visit her relatives out west. Sunny didn’t expect her to ever return to Murphy’s Point. They’d spent a few awkward days together right after Sunny was released from the hospital. Martha hadn’t found the wherewithal to offer her daughter an apology for denying the sheriff’s request to testify against her husband. Mrs. Murphy most likely thought none was needed, as her mother was quick to let Sunny know she was the sole cause of all the family’s troubles.  The older woman had not proffered an explanation as to why she’d failed to protect her daughter over the years. She’d just stoically packed her bags, signed the deed to the house and the café over to Sunny, and driven off in the family’s one old rattletrap truck.

Sheriff Dunn had proved good to his word. The fact that Sunny was now a woman of property helped. The judge had been sympathetic. She’d named Sunny as Willie’s legal guardian and the guardian of the unborn child. It helped that the police could not establish any next of kin for Willie.

As far as Lee was concerned, Sunny’s brother had simply vanished. Dunn did a routine search of her home, with Sunny’s permission. Apparently Lee was running a business selling illegal substances. A ledger was discovered under his bed that detailed his buyers. If Lee ever returned, he’d be facing a court trial. Sunny would never welcome him back into her life, her house, or her café.

Sunny looked up at the clock one more time. She was anxious to see Willie. The doctors were easing her friend off the drugs that kept her asleep. They wanted her awake, at least long enough to answer a few pertinent questions, before they performed the Caesarian that would save her baby’s life.

Sunny wanted to talk to her too. She needed to know what she was supposed to do with Willie’s baby. She didn’t mind raising the child herself. And thankfully, the court had agreed to let her do that very thing. But surely Willie had family somewhere? Surely she’d want her child raised by them?

“Sunny?” the smiling nurse called from the door that led back to the ICU cubicles. “Willie’s awake. You can go in and see her now.”

Sunny got up as quickly as she could and followed the woman into the heart of the ICU. There were partitioned areas for each patient. A concealing curtain could be drawn across the open space that faced out onto the nurses’ station. Willie’s curtain was pulled back. Sunny smiled at her friend when she went in.

Taking Willie’s frail hand in her own, Sunny spoke to her, “Willie I’m so sorry you got hurt trying to help me.”

The wane dark girl swathed in yards of white sheeting tried to smile. The effort was too great. She spoke in a thready, weak voice, “I want you to do something for me Sunny.”

“Anything,” the other girl said instantly.

“I’m going to give you a phone number. It’s on a business card under my pillow in the garage apartment. Call that number and tell my brother that Willow needs him. He’ll get here by the morning. He’ll take care of everything- my hospital bills, the baby, the… the funeral…,” Her voice trailed off into nothing.

“Of course I will call him. But you’re going to make it Willie. You’re going to raise that baby of yours.”

The girl in the hospital bed shook her head. It was just a tiny movement, but she made it all the same. “The doctors aren’t hopeful Sunny. And I can’t afford to be optimistic. There’s something else.”

“Anything, I’ll do anything you need me to do.”

“When you find my brother’s business card, you’ll see a letter addressed to Lorenzo. Lo’s the baby’s daddy. Can you get that letter to him, please? He needs to know I never stopped loving him, no matter what my mother said or did to him. He needs to know, Sunny.”

“I’ll get it to him. I promise. Do you know where he is?”

Willie shook her head again. “My mother had him arrested. She caught us together in the pool house. She said he wasn’t the right type for me to be involved with. She told the police he raped me. It wasn’t true Sunny. I loved him. I love him still. He has to know. And he has to know about the baby. I was a coward… I ran away. Maybe if I had stayed… maybe…,”

“Shhh,” Sunny soothed. “Willie don’t worry about that now. You can tell him yourself when you get better. He’ll understand. Everybody makes bad decisions sometimes. If he loves you, like you love him, he’ll understand.”



“I’m really afraid. Afraid of dying.”

“I know. I know, sweetie,” Sunny’s voice choked. She couldn’t go on. She brushed a lank lock of hair away from her friend’s forehead. She cleared her throat and began a soft, comforting one-sided conversation. It was all she could think to do.

“Once the baby’s born, I’m going to take you home. In a few weeks, you can help me open the café. Did I tell you my mother gave it to me? She gave me the house and the café. I’m a woman of means now. I’m thinking we ought to paint the café and maybe change the name. What do you think?” She stopped for a minute to look down at Willie. The girl had fallen back asleep. But Sunny just kept on talking. She didn’t know if she did it to comfort her friend, or if she did it for her own benefit. But she had some things she needed to tell the still young woman.

“I had the court appoint me your guardian. I know that sounds stupid. What with you being older than me. But it was a legal thing because we didn’t know about your family. I want you to know, I’ll never forget what you did for me. And I won’t let your sacrifice be forgotten. If your folks and Lorenzo don’t come through for you and the baby, I’ll be there. If you don’t make it, and I’m not suggesting you won’t. But if this doesn’t turn out the way we’d like, I’ll raise your baby. I’ll make sure he knows you loved him. I’ll make sure Willie, I promise.”

“Sunny?” the nurse at the opening called softly. “Visiting time is over. You need to go home. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day. Willie’s surgery is set for six in the morning. You need to rest up so you can be prepared.”

The tired girl got up and made her way to the nurse. Together they slowly walked to the waiting room door. Before she left, Sunny turned to the woman she’d come to know and trust over the last few weeks.

“You don’t think she’ll make it, do you?” she asked.

“I’m not supposed to say anything, but no, I don’t. The internal damage is just too great. It’s a miracle she’s made it this long. The baby has a chance. It’s not a real good one. But it’s a chance. He’ll be two months premature. He’ll be small. But if he’s a fighter, he’ll make it. You need to prepare yourself mentally to let Willie go, Sunny.”

“I know. But it’s hard. If she hadn’t gotten between me and my dad, she’d be fine right now.”

“But you’d probably be dead,” the nurse said as she hugged the distraught girl. “We all know what a brutal beating your father gave both of you. And we all know it wasn’t the first time he’d hurt you. The whole town is going to rally around you, Sunny. We won’t let you go through this alone. There’s even talk of starting some kind of a fund over at the bank to help you with the medical bills. Most of the docs have already waived their fees. You’re going to be Ok.”

“I want to believe that,” she said with a wistful sigh.

BOOK: Searching for Sea Glass: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (Sea Glass Secrets Book 1)
13.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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