Chapter 11: Aftermath
I want to apologize again for the poor spot of ending – but as I said, I wanted to keep this separate. Now everybody breathes……and reads….and is happy 🙂 Also, the Mariela-Marie issue -> Give me a couple chaps and we’ll get to her. We’re not done with Mariela yet.
“Kelley!!” Kelley’s husband L.W. yells as he grabs her before she reaches the airplane.
“Where are they?” She screams as she tries to escape from L.W.’s arms.
“Calm down!” He yells. “Everything will be fine. I’m sure they’re all okay. Let the proper authorities handle it.” He then keeps her held back as she slowly calms down.
“Please be okay….please be…..Steve!” L.W. then looks around her as a small smile forms on his face as he sees Steve with Alyssa in his arms. They both make their way over. “Is she okay?” She then takes Alyssa from Steve’s arms. She immediately feels the child’s neck and she feels a pulse as she lets out a sigh. “Where’s Dale?” Steve shrugs his shoulders not sure as he sits down. “What do you mean you don’t know? Where is he?”
“I don’t know where he ended up,” Steve answers as he grabs the back of his right leg and puts pressure on it. “I was downstairs when it went off still trying to get her out of there. Luckily, I was able to get us both down and out of the way of debris and everything…..well, except for my leg.”
“Eeeek!” L.W. comments out as he notices the cut on the back of Steve’s leg as the medics make their way over. “I’m sure he’s fine, Kelley. Stay calm.”
“L.W. is right as he probably is making his way out of there now.”
“Like that’s assuring at all,” Kelley comments as she hands Alyssa over to the medics.
“Listen – Steve is alright besides the cut and Alyssa is probably still knocked out courtesy of the drugs,” L.W. tries to reason with her. “I’m sure your brother is fine.”
“L.W. is right and getting all worked up isn’t going to help,” Steve adds as Kelley rolls her eyes.
“Just relax. Believe.” Steve then looks back over at the plane, asking himself the same question that Kelley wants the answer to – where was he.
“He told me that he’d be fine and make his way out. I know he convinced some plan with the devil so let’s hope it worked. In the meantime, don’t go crazy. They’re probably already mad about my stunt.”
“They didn’t even realize you snuck around them,” Kelley comments as Steve looks at her surprised.
“I have Ninja skills?” Steve tries to make light of the situation. “Sweet!”
Dale laid there, pain filling every inch of him as he looked around. There was no denying a bomb had gone off with the debris scattered every inch of the plane. He had noticed the fire that started after it went off and looking back down the plane, he saw it. He was glad that he sat where he sat rather than there.
Though that didn’t concern him at that moment. The only question that filled his mind was whether Steve and Alyssa made it off before all heck broke loose.
“Ah shit!” He yells as he goes to move, but feels a sharp pain shoot up his back. He then lies back against the wall that somewhat sill stood, knowing that he wasn’t going to make it anywhere in the near future.
He then hears a bunch of scattered voices and footsteps around the area, knowing that it’s probably the rescue workers. At least they had some hope that he was there and could probably help him out of his position. He watches as a firemen moves a couple pieces of debris around as he bites his own tongue due to the pain.
“Hello?” He yells out loud hoping the rescue worker hears him. “Anybody? Help! Someone?” He takes a deep breath as he knows that the only way out of this mess now was yelling and hopefully catching someone’s attention.
“Dale?” He hears as he looks towards the rescue worker that has made his way over.
“That’d be me.” The worker then stands up and begins to wave a flag as if to signal the location.
“Glad you’re alive, man. We wer-”
“Just tell me where my daughter and Steve are, please.” The firemen looks back at Dale with a smile.
“They both are okay and being attended to by the medical staff already.” Dale lets out a sigh. That eased every worry that filled his mind. He didn’t know how he’d ever repay Steve for the help that he had given him. “How are you feeling?”
“Really sore. Back and shoulder pain. It knocked me back against the wall.”
“You’re lucky, man. Don’t worry – help is on the way. We’ll have you feeling better in no time.
“So he’s going to be okay?” Kelley asks the officer once again and the officer shakes his head.
“He says that his shoulders and back hurt, but he is alive and should be fine. We’re going to transfer him to the local hospital, as well as Ms. Earnhardt and Mr. LeTarte.”
“Ms. Earnh-” L.W. starts as Kelley looks over.
“Alyssa,” she cuts him off as he shakes his head. “Thank you for your update.”
“You’re welcome ma’am,” the officer replies. “If you want, I can give you and your husband a ride over.”
“That’d be appreciated,” L.W. states before they follow the officer across the airport to his car. “You focus on your brother and niece. I’ll focus on calling your mom, Rick and everybody.”
“I don’t know what I’d say to mom anyway,” Kelley comments.
Chapter 12: Hospital
“Based on the x-rays, it’s been determined that the pain you’re experiencing is a result of breaking your shoulder,” the doctor reveals as he looks over the results. “You’re looking at a four-six week recovery period as it’s not that bad of a break. Beyond that, there looks to be a series of bruises and pulled muscles down your back as a result of the impact.” Dale simply shakes his head, accepting, not saying much. He wasn’t as concerned with himself and the pain, but more about his daughter.
“How about Alyssa?” Kelley questions as the doctor switches files. Kelley then looks over at the bed adjacent to Dale’s and sees the little girl lying there, still passed out.
“Is she going to be okay?” Dale asks barely audible and the doctor looks over shaking his head yes.
“As you knew prior, she was heavily drugged on the plane,” the doctor states. “We’ve completely pumped her stomach to remove every ounce out of her system. Now with that and based on test results, she should be waking up within the next 48 hours. She may be a little sick for the next couple of days, but she’ll be fine.” Dale lets out a sigh, simply thankful. “Is there anything else that I can help you with?” Dale shakes his head no. “Okay. The pain killers are set to go through your system every four hours courtesy of the IV. We’re going to keep you overnight per precautionary measures.”
“Understood,” Dale says as he looks over at Alyssa. “I wasn’t planning on leaving here anytime soon.”
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.” The doctor then leaves the room as Dale keeps his eyes on Alyssa.
“Mariela kept saying that I was just randomly chosen to be the one for her little stupid plan. It doesn’t seem fair – especially to Alyssa. She doesn’t deserve this after what happened to her mom. How do you explain all of this to a three-year-old?”
Kelley looks up from her spots and simply shrugs her shoulders not sure herself. She wasn’t even ready to offer an explanation and wished that she’d let the trigger go on the gun earlier that day.
They then watch Steve make his way into the room with his wife Tricia. After phone calls were made, Rick had arranged for everyone important to fly up to New Jersey. Kelley takes a glance at his leg where she had noticed the gash earlier from the piece of debris.
“Stitches and tetanus shot so that way they make sure I don’t get sick,” Steve answers before she can ask as Tricia keeps an arm wrapped around her husband.
“He was more worried about the needle than the stiches,” she comments as Dale laughs.
“Aww what wrong – little Stevie scared of pointy objects?” Dale teases as Steve sticks his tongue out.
“Don’t you know they hurt?” Steve questions as he looks over at Alyssa. “Is she going to be okay?” Kelley shakes her head yes.
“Doctor says that she should wake up in the next 48 hours,” Kelley answers.
“I don’t know what I’d do in the same situation,” Tricia comments.
“You do what you got to do and hope that it pans out. As her aunt, I don’t know how much I can thank you for risking your own life to save that little girl.” Dale shakes his head in agreement.
“I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat,” Steve states.
“Well he was told to take it easy so we’re going to go relax and find out where Rick and Linda ran off with my kids,” Tricia announces. “Hope you both feel better soon.”
“And Dale, whatever is going through your mind, it’ll work out.” Dale shakes his head as he lays back. There was no questioning all of the emotions that were going through his head at that current moment with Marie’s death to what happened on the plane and Alyssa. How was one person supposed to put all that together?
“Thanks,” Dale says. “And I owe you one big time. Like Kelley said, I can’t thank you enough.”
“Friends – it’s what we do for each other,” Steve replies. They all then trade goodbyes before Steve and Tricia head off.
“Are you okay?” Kelley asks as she looks over at Dale and Dale shakes his head yes. “If you need to talk, I’m here.” She then looks over at Alyssa. “And don’t worry – your baby girl will be okay.”
“I know,” Dale says quietly. “I just….it hurts a lot. I don’t know what to think right now. There’s too much going on my mind. I’ve got too many questions and too many things to figure out.”
“Like I said, I’m here and it’ll work out. I know it hurts. I know how much you loved Marie and I can’t explain it either. But no matter what, it’ll work out, Dale.”
She then looks over and sees his eyes closed as he’s fallen asleep. No doubt exhaustion – physically and mentally – has taken over. She then takes a chair and sits in it, reserving her spot between her brother and her niece. She wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
Chapter 13: “Daddy”
Kelley sat there reading a magazine when she heard a little noise from her right. She looks over at the three-year-old and a small smile forms on her face as she sees sparkling blue eyes staring right back at her.
“Hey sweetie,” Kelley says quietly as she sets her magazine down and goes over to Alyssa. “It’s going to be okay, Alyssa.”
“Anutie Kelley….” Alyssa says as she reaches for Kelley’s hand.
“That’s right – I’m here for you.” Alyssa grabs Kelley’s hand firmly as she looks around, confusion setting in. “I know you feel lost but it’s okay. You’re at the hospital. You may feel sick, but you will be better soon.” Alyssa looks at her aunt in the eyes as she turns to the hand that has the IV in it. Alyssa reaches for it with her other hand when Kelley takes hold of it. “Don’t pull that out; you need to leave it in. It is helping you feel better.” Alyssa leaves it alone as she looks back to her aunt.
“Mariela gone?” Kelley shakes her head yes. “She made me sick. She made me drink ucky. Me no like it.”
“That was not nice of her to make you drink that. But you don’t need to worry as auntie told her that she was bad and is going to make you feel better.”
“Where Daddy?” Kelley moves back a bit and points to the bed beside her.
“Daddy is sleeping.” Kelley then closes her eyes, quickly debating the best way to tell Alyssa about what happened. “Daddy hurt himself as he fell and hit his back.” Alyssa makes a sad face as she continues to eye her daddy.
“I want daddy.” A small tear then creeps down her face as Kelley thinks it over. “Auntie, I want daddy!”
“Maybe when daddy wakes up. We have to ask the doctor if it’s okay.” Alyssa lies back as a couple more tears roll down her cheeks, followed by a frustrated sigh ass he crosses her arms. “Alyssa, what were we told about attitude?” Alyssa simply sticks her tongue out.
“Auntie not being nice.”
“Auntie is just following doctor’s orders.”
“Doctor no nice then. I want my daddy now!” A couple more tears then slide down her cheeks as the doctor walks in the room.
“I just came to check on these two and I see someone is awake….” The doctor starts as Alyssa looks over at the doctor, anger stuck there.
“She just woke up not that long ago,” Kelley explains. “She’s upset right now because I won’t let her cuddle her daddy. I told her that it was your orders so I’m sorry if she has a bit of an attitude.” The doctor shakes his head understanding.
“You no nice doctor,” Alyssa states as the doctor walks over.
“It’s fine,” the doctor stops her before turning to Alyssa. “How about we make a deal, okay? You be nice to me, answer my questions and leave that tube alone and maybe I can let you see daddy.” Alyssa’s eyes light up immediately as she shakes her head in agreement. “Okay. Do you feel sick?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Feel like you’re going to go bleh all over?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.
“I no feel good,” Alyssa tells the doctor. “Auntie say she make me better.” The doctor shakes his head as he looks back at Kelley.
“Well auntie is right as you will feel better soon. You just need to listen to me, auntie and daddy.” Alyssa smiles.
“I do that.”
“That’s a good girl. Can you stick your tongue out?” Alyssa then sticks her tongue out. “And how about we open our mouth real wide?” Alyssa then looks at him and shakes her head no. “Why not? I promise not to hurt you.” Alyssa then agrees as the doctor shines a light down her throat. “Looks better than earlier.”
“I no sicky soon?” The doctor shakes his head no.
“You should be better soon.” The doctor then makes a note on her chart. “Now, do you have to go bathroom?” She shakes her head no.
“Okay. Can you make sure you tell auntie Kelley when you have to go?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.
“I tell auntie!”
“That’s a good girl.” He then makes another note as Alyssa keeps her eyes on him.
“I go see Daddy?” The doctor shakes his head yes as he helps her stand up.
“Should we wait till he wakes up maybe?” Kelley questions as Alyssa makes a face at her.
“Perhaps, or perhaps she could lay and cuddle with him as she’ll probably fall back asleep soon,” the doctor answers.
“I’m sure he won’t mind waking up to her cute face. Now you have to be careful, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head yes as Kelley helps her up beside him. She carefully crawls up the bed before finding a comfy spot beside him and lying down, laying her head on his chest.
“Given what happened to her, that’s probably the best thing to help her feel better both physically and mentally,” the doctor whispers as Kelley watches them. “Her father is the one person that she can find comfort in and she needs that with what she’s gone through the past six hours.” Kelley shakes her head in agreement.
“Ssssh auntie – daddy sleeping,” Alyssa says as Kelley smiles.
“I’ll come back after to check on them.” The doctor then leaves the room as Kelley sits back in her seat.
She looks over at them and watches as Alyssa’s eyes slowly close and she falls back asleep. She notices Dale wake up slightly, as a small smile forms on his face.
“I love you sweetheart,” he whispers before kissing her forehead.
“Love you daddy,” she whispers back as she sits up and kisses his cheek. She then cuddles back up with him and Kelley smiles as she watches the pair of them fall back asleep together.
Chapter 14: “Daddy” Continued
After a good hour nap, Dale opens his eyes, looking down at Alyssa as he keeps his arm firmly wrapped around her.
“Hey,” Steve says, causing him to look over surprised.
“Hey,” he replies as he lets out a long sigh.
“Sore?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“My back is just killing me.”
“Well, they said there was a lot of bruises and muscles pulled to go with that shoulder. It’s part of the deal.”
“Yeah….” Dale looks back at Alyssa before returning his eyes to Steve. “Where’s Kel?”
“I sent her and your mom to get some food in them and some rest.” Dale shakes his head understanding.
“Thank you….thank you…thank you for saving Alyssa.” Dale sniffs in a little tear. “I don’t what I’d do if something happened.”
“Let’s not think about that, man. Be glad that she’s here with you. Be glad that she’ll be okay.” Steve gets up and gives Dale a small hug, careful not to disturb Alyssa, before handing him a Kleenex and sitting back down. “You can’t let that thought cross your mind. Just focus on getting her better and focus on your emotions and Marie.” Dale shakes his head as he thinks it over.
“I can’t sta-”
“Just don’t go there. It’ll be alright. Relax and chill.” Dale wipes the tears away as he looks over at Steve.
“How do you know it’ll be alright when I’ve lost the love of my life?”
“Trust me. We’ll work our way through it.”
Behind the scenes, Steve hadn’t escaped earlier to find Rick and the kids. He had some of his thought to process as he couldn’t believe that Mariela would do something and this all would happen in a spur of events without there being a reason. There had to be something beyond each thing that happened as many clues lied along the way. Steve hadn’t acted upon these suspicions yet, as he knew the focus had to be on Alyssa and Dale healing right now.
“Daddy…” Alyssa lets out as she opens her eyes.
“I’ve got you baby girl,” Dale assures her as he gives her a kiss on the top of her head.
“Hey Alyssa,” Steve says with a smile on his face. When he carried her out originally, he didn’t know whether she’d truly make it or not based on how she looked.
“Hi Uncle Stevie,” Alyssa replies as she stays tucked close to Dale. “Daddy….Mariela no nice. I no like ucky uice.”
“I know that she wasn’t nice and I’m sorry you had to deal with her,” Dale starts. “But don’t worry – daddy told the police men and the police arrested her. So now she’ll be in the dungeon with the big bad wolf and the evil witch.” Steve smiles as he remembers the stories that Dale would tell her on the plane on the way home, with each bad person ending up in the dungeon.
“Maybe the wolf will eat her,” Steve suggests as Alyssa smiles wide.
“Yay wolfy!” Alyssa cheers as Dale laughs.
“That’d be the perfect revenge for her,” Dale adds. “Alyssa, do you want to know who found you and brought you to daddy?” Alyssa looks at him confused.
“Auntie Kelley?” Dale shakes his head no.
“I did,” Steve states proud as she looks over at Steve proud.
“Steve is right as he went and found you and carried you out,” Dale states as Alyssa’s smile widens. “Isn’t he awesome?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.
“Cooler than Winnie the Pooh?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Cooler than Toopy and Binoo?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Awesome!”
“You a hero!” Alyssa lets out as she sits up and reaches for Steve. “Huggie?”
“Of course sweetheart,” Steve replies as he gets up off his seat again and walks over and hugs her.
“Awww,” Dale comments. “I think we should both thank Steve.”
“Hank you Uncle Stevie!” Alyssa yells out before lying back down with Dale.
“So you plan on staying here the whole time?” Dale questions and Alyssa shakes her head yes. “You’re not leaving daddy’s side?” Alyssa shakes her head no. “That’s fine. I like having you here.”
“I stay wiff daddy ever.”
“Really?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.
“What about sleepovers with me and Tricia?” Steve offers and Alyssa shakes her head no.
“I stay wiff daddy!” She repeats as Steve looks on surprised.
“That’s fine sweetheart,” Dale assures her. “Why do you want to stay with daddy?”
“I scared. I no want lose you.”
“I’ll never run far away from you – ever. I promise, okay?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Okay. I love you.”
“Love you.” She then lies back down next to him as Steve sits back in his seat.
“I think you two are the most adorable daughter-father combination in the garage,” Steve states as Dale smiles.
“Sssh I sleepy!” Alyssa announces as Steve looks at her surprised.
“Doctor said she wouldn’t feel good for a couple days and be sleepy,” Dale states as Steve shakes his head understanding.
“Just be glad and thankful that it worked out,” Steve reminds him as Dale shakes his head agreeing. There was no doubt in his mind about that.
Chapter 15: Home Sweet Home
After spending 24 hours on hospital watch, both Dale and Alyssa were allowed to leave and head home. Alyssa was given instructions to follow in regards to strict bed rest so once they got home, she had quickly joined Dale in his room.
With his shoulder still being sore from being broken, he was stuck on bed rest himself for a couple days – or else Kelley threatened that she’d kick his ass completely. Once things stated to heal, then he could start getting back to the daily grind that life offered. Till then, it was probably going to be daddy-daughter bed time.
Emotions mixed through his mind, Dale picked up a scrapbook that Marie had started to put together of photos and flipped through it. His mind seemed to be in a daze, not believing the words that he was told by the officer. How could she be gone just like that? It didn’t seem fair. It felt like they were starting to put the pieces together in having their daughter together and talking about plans of expanding the family in the future.
He glanced over at Alyssa and saw how she had cuddled up once again with her teddy bear and simply just shook his head in disbelief. Just the other day, he and Marie were raising this beautiful daughter together and talking about plans that they had. However, now he was the single father that was going to have to raise her by himself. He didn’t know whether he could handle the duties of explaining where mommy went and teaching her how to be the wonderful lady that she’d eventually grow into.
He lets out a sigh as he turns back to the scrapbook, flipping the pages as he looks through to see what the book has to offer. Marie had put some of Dale’s childhood photos in, before adding some of her own. They were going to add photos of Alyssa and then give it to Alyssa when she got older. As he looks at one of the pages, he notices immediately a brown-haired girl that looks familiar to him – way too familiar to him.
“Steve!!” Dale yells, which shocks the crap out of his crew chief whom comes rushing up the stairs thinking something is wrong.
“What’s wrong?” Steve questions as Dale looks up from the scrapbook.
“Nothing serious.” Steve lets out a sigh of relief as he sits on the end of the bed. “I just wanted to show you something.”
“What’s that?” Steve takes the scrapbook from Dale’s hands and looks over the images, smiling. “Alyssa certainly has her smile.”
“We always said that she had her mommy’s smile and hair, but yet her daddy’s eyes. Take a look at the girl that is standing with Marie, though.”
“Just do it. There’s something odd about it.”
“Okay….” Steve then does as instructed, though sees nothing that catches him off-guard. Perhaps the girl beside her looked to be a sister, perhaps younger. But beyond that, nothing seemed to catch the crew chief’s attention. “Why does it seem odd?” Steve then hands Dale back the scrapbook as Dale looks at the photo again. “Did you know that she had a sister?” Dale shakes his head no.
“She never spoke of having a sister at all. It’s just……Every time I look at her, she reminds me of someone.”
“Maybe Alyssa?” Dale shrugs his shoulders and he lets out a sigh.
“Maybe, or maybe my mind is just wore out right now.”
“Relax. It’s normal. You’re stressed, you have a lot of emotional stuff going on with what happened and you’re sore. Take it easy these couple of days. Don’t let things worry you.”
“I guess…” Dale then flips to the next page of the scrapbook, that image still implanted in his mind. “Have you heard any details about the funeral?” Steve shakes his head no as that was a question that he wanted to ask.
“I haven’t heard anything from anybody.”
“That’s weird. Her mom was supposed to be handling it per the officer.”
“Do you want me to give her a call later?” Dale shakes his head yes, knowing that he probably couldn’t handle talking to Marie’s mom right now with what was crossing his mind. “I can handle that.”