Maddys floor, p.24

Maddy's Floor, page 24

 

Maddy's Floor
 


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  Drew's.

  "Maddy?"

  Startled, Maddy found Drew standing beside his uncle's bed, eye to eye – concern all over his face.

  She flushed. "Sorry. Lost in thought." She turned toward John, who lay on the bed. She noted a healthier tone to his skin. Odd to think that he might actually experience a miracle cure and walk out of here – if they could stop the person who was trying to kill him. Grinning at the two men, she said, "So what are you doing, shooting the breeze like two old women?"

  John grunted. "Old women. Speak for yourself, young lady. You'll get old yourself one day."

  The disgruntled look on his face matched the disgruntled tone of his voice. Maddy chuckled.

  "You're perfect the way you are." Drew leaned forward and dropped a kiss on her cheek.

  John whistled.

  Maddy walked over to John, doing her best to ignore the heat washing over her cheeks and the even stronger heat pooling inside. John smiled at her.

  "You dating my nephew?"

  "Why?" Maddy kept her tone professional, her smile polite. Her doctor face.

  John blustered. "What do you mean, why? Drew's family. What's his business is my business."

  Maddy grinned. "Oh, good. So of course, you've given him a full list of all your lovers, haters and wannabes. Because what's your business is his business."

  Drew laughed. "She's got you there, Uncle John."

  John grumped. "That's private."

  "Not anymore." Maddy kept her voice cheerful. She walked over and picked up John's wrist, automatically checking his pulse rate. She frowned. His rate was up.

  John jerked his hand free. "I gave him the names already, damn it."

  "Good." Maddy made a notation on the screen of her tablet. "This has to stop, Drew. I need to know my patients are safe."

  "I'm working on it."

  Maddy tapped her foot impatiently. "Not good enough."

  John rose to Drew's defense. "Leave the detecting to him and focus on treating people. God knows I'm not cured yet."

  Maddy gave him a hard gaze, her hands on her hips. He was right but still… "That's fine. I can transfer you back to your old ward, or Drew can help you to find another place you'd like more."

  "Now wait." John struggled to sit up, his thin frame almost quivering with shock. "I'm sorry. I'm not wanting to get transferred."

  "Well, maybe I'm wanting to transfer you. Especially after finding out you bribed your way in here."

  John blustered, "So what if I did? Gerard needed some equipment and I needed a bed. It's called a trade." His face turned an indignant red.

  Maddy glared at him.

  John glared back. "You don't understand. They said I was dying and no one could give any answers as to why. I knew you were my only chance. Hell, I've been to every other damn doctor. Nothing. Being here has worked. I feel much better today. I don't know what you did, but it felt wonderful." Hope crossed his face. "I don't suppose I can get that every day?"

  "Nope. So any method is fine as long as it works?" Maddy raised one eyebrow as she studied him. "And this from our old chief of police?"

  He had the grace to look ashamed. His glance going one to the other and back again. "I admit to using underhanded methods to jump the list. I was desperate."

  "Yeah, I got that. But what methods?"

  "It's not pertinent." Spit formed at the corner of John's mouth. His gaze circled the room, avoiding hers.

  Only it could be pertinent. Maddy's neck tingled. Whatever John was hiding had to come out. "Tell me. No more lies."

  Drew held up a hand, except it had no effect.

  "All right!" he yelled. "I did blackmail him into it. Okay?"

  Maddy sniffed. "I figured that much out already. I want to know over what."

  Drew walked over and placed a calming hand on her shoulder. "I understand that you're pissed about this." He turned to his uncle. "Now what did you blackmail Gerard about?"

  "It's complicated." John glared at Drew. "And private."

  "Too bad. Most things in life are. Give." Drew refused to back down.

  "These are family secrets. Ours, too."

  Drew reared back. "Ours? What are you talking about?"

  "Gerard's sister."

  Maddy scrunched up her face, confused. "What about her? I don't think I knew Gerard had a sister. He never mentions her." She shrugged. Her relationship with Gerard hadn't extended to personal conversations. She presumed he had a family like everyone else in the world.

  "Well, he does, sort of… At least he's kept up the façade that she's his sister. Only she's not. She's his mother and she's on the second floor of The Haven. Has been for a while. She wants to transfer to your floor, but Gerard won't let her. She scared the hell out of him years ago." John grumped at her, distaste in his voice.

  John glared at the two of them, before his shoulders sagged. The wrinkles on his face deepened with pain. "There's decades of family secrets here and I'm not going to tell you all of them. So don't ask. That's Gerard's personal hell – not for public knowledge. But his mother and I were close for a time, way back then. For all I know, Gerard is my son. And that relationship with his mother is not something I'm proud of and I'd just as soon not make it public knowledge."

  He groaned and flopped backwards. "And just in case you didn't put two and two together, Gerard's mother is my stepsister, your Aunt Doris."

  "You're talking about Aunt Doris?" Shock sharpened Drew's voice. "That means you're saying Gerard is my cousin? Why didn't I know?" He straightened and stared at Maddy. She raised one eyebrow and stared back. They both turned to frown at John.

  He frowned back. "Yes, Doris. Damn it, don't look so shocked. It wasn't incest; she's not really your aunt and never was. There's no blood between us. I've told you that before. Why do you think her transfer to Maddy's floor was never approved? Mental stability is one of the criteria to get here." His face puffed with outrage, the color darkening even more. "When things fell apart for him, Gerard and I worked to keep their relationship hidden."

  Maddy stared at John. "And you blackmailed him with his own paternity?" Did nothing make any sense here?

  Drew stared at him. "Blackmail? Really? Why would he care if anyone found out?"

  John's face flushed a deeper red. He growled, "I didn't really blackmail him. I kinda threatened to. She's not all there, mentally. Been sliding in and out for years. He never wanted people to know about his parentage. It all goes back to a bad time when Gerard was about nine and he almost died in a car accident. He pulled through, obviously. Only his mother started to deteriorate around then and she hasn't been the same since.

  "She knew a bunch of kids that died around the same time. Their deaths affected her weird like. The whole thing broke her up." John sat straighter, terrible memories clouding his expression. "She can't handle anyone even talking about it."

  Maddy's antennae went up. She met Drew's gaze. Dead kids. "How long ago?"

  The bluster was long gone from John's face. Weariness and shadows filled his eyes. "Almost thirty years ago. I tried to help her back then, only it was tough and I'm not much of a communicator. She wasn't easy to talk to. She'd spend hours at Gerard's bedside in marathon visits that exhausted her. She'd go home and sleep, then go back to the hospital again." He gazed off in the distance. "Somewhere around the same time, these kids turned up dead. I remember the case well, because so many of us were undecided as to whether there'd been foul play involved or not. However, for her…hoping and praying so hard for Gerard to live, when all around kids were dying around the community…well, she was so afraid that Gerard would be next. Needless to say, the stress damn near broke her."

  "Had she known the kids? I mean the ones that died?" Drew asked.

  "Several of them, if not all of them. It was a small, tightly knit community back then. I think we all knew them in one capacity or other. She'd done daycare for years and had gone on to teach piano, choir, and singing lessons." He shifted uncomfortably on the bed.<
br />
  "That must have been hard for her." Twisting, Maddy tried to see how Drew was handling this. Confusion clouded his features.

  "Well, it certainly did something to her. It seemed that the longer Gerard was in hospital, the more unstable she became."

  "Has her mental state improved over the years?" Maddy frowned.

  "She was really bad after Gerard recovered. It was a surprise because I thought she'd be fine then. Instead, she became worse. Kept talking about the dead kids as if they were still alive, as if through talking about them, she could make it so. Especially the first one that died, Sissy. She'd known her better than the others. Bad enough as it was, she was into that weird New Age stuff." His jaw clenched.

  "Gerard asked to go into foster care, and he eventually changed his name. He said he didn't feel safe with her. I should have helped him then." He glared at both of them. "But I didn't and now he's responsible for her care, and sill hiding the fact that she's his mother. Not sure she even recognizes him. Must be pretty hard…and I never helped."

  His anger and guilt had caused him more than a few sleepless nights, Maddy could see. An inkling of an idea, a possibility grew in the back of her mind. She needed more information to see if it fit.

  With a heavy sigh and a dark glare toward the window, John said, "Her doctor kept trying new medicine, hoping for improvements, and she did improve but had multiple setbacks as well. She was institutionalized at one time. Then after that doctor passed away, she got a new one and he seemed to be more knowledgeable. With this new medication, she's shown remarkable improvement. She's like a split personality. One day is good and the next she's a different person – even names herself differently at times." John shook his head. "I don't know. I used to visit every once in a while, then I got ill…and well, I haven't been able to. I call her often though."

  Maddy stared at Drew. There it was. Her possibility grew into full-grown probability as her mind raced through the events with lightning speed. Could Gerard's sister, aka his mother, have something to do with the energy attacks going on here? Even worse, could she have done something to those kids thirty years ago? There was no motive more powerful than the love of a mother for her dying child, and if this woman felt she was losing Gerard, chances are she'd have done anything to save him.

  Desperate people did desperate things, including killing other people's kids to save their own. Maddy had no idea if Doris's actions had saved Gerard. If she'd succeeded in killing these kids, and hadn't cleansed the children's energies from her own aura, then bits and pieces would have stayed with her – slowly poisoning her, and quite possibly manifesting as mental illness. The development of a personality disorder would be a given, and split personality disorder, a distinct possibility. A fascinating case.

  Her medical training wanted to delve deeper. The medical intuitive side of her was stunned.

  Drew stared at her. "Maddy? Is it possible she could be the person we're looking for?" he asked, his voice hard.

  Doris was only one floor below, close enough to keep tabs on Maddy's floor. Close enough to hear gossip about who was arriving and who was dying. Close enough for her weak, sick mind and body to access other sick people. Close enough to allow a small portion of her energy to float free and live attached to her lover, stepbrother and possibly…to the father of her child – the child being Gerard. That would explain John's ill health these last few years and the recent aggressive attacks on him since his arrival at The Haven.

  What about Jansen though – had she known him? How many other deaths could she be responsible for on the floors below? Maybe Jansen – if there were a connection between them.

  Yes, definitely possible.

  "Yes," she whispered. "It might be." Maddy was stunned by the enormity of what this woman might have done, and what she would continue to do if she weren't stopped. "But you're never going to prove it. And if she's not in her right mind, she may not realize what she's been doing, either."

  THURSDAY EVENING

  Stefan glared at the phone. He glanced down at the paint on his hands, his smock, the floor. Damn it, even the phone had yellow on it. And it was Maddy calling. He pushed the speaker button.

  "I'm fine. You don't need to keep checking up on me." He rolled his eyes at Maddy's musical laugh. God he loved that woman. She could switch his moods on a dime.

  "Glad to hear it. And I'm still going to check up on you, the same as you'd do for me."

  He grinned. "Fair enough." Pausing, he shifted energies. Something had changed. He heard it in her tone of voice. "What's wrong?"

  Whatever it was involved The Haven. He scanned the markers Maddy had placed. All was normal.

  "We think we finally understand some of what's going on, but we don't know how to proceed." Maddy explained how Doris played into the scenario, her relationship with the individuals and her mental state.

  We? Oh, Drew was with her. Stefan frowned. "Her mental state makes sense if she's not protecting herself during her 'healing' sessions. We all know many people in psych wards are actually strong psychics that never learned control. What do you want me to do?"

  "Drew doesn't have any way to prove what's happening. He's going to talk to his captain in the morning. Doris will have to undergo mental assessment. They will require legal advice as to how to proceed. The protective markers are still intact in John's aura. He appears fine. I've also placed markers on the edges of the bubble and Felicia's bed," she confessed.

  She would. Stefan smiled. "That's unnecessary but understandable."

  The smile in her voice made his widen. "I know, but she's a child." Her voice became brisk. "What do you think about Doris?"

  Stefan finally spoke, slowly, carefully, as if working through a problem. "We know people accidentally bring away pieces of another person's energy with them for many reasons. Over time, Doris would have started disassociating with her reality and splintering off and connecting with these other people – even if they were dead. But…"

  "But? Where are you going with all of this?"

  Stefan rubbed his temple, only to stare at the smeared splotch of yellow on his fingers. Shit. Shaking his head, he returned to the conversation. "I'm not sure I'm convinced that in her condition she's strong enough to do everything that's been going on there."

  "Energy work doesn't require physical strength…" she reminded him.

  "No, but it does require some mental strength."

  "True. And if she's shown this level of deterioration, then she might not be capable of such focus?" So how could she be stripping these people of their life force now? The answer was she shouldn't be able to. So if she wasn't, then who was?

  "Unless one of her realities is strong enough to dominate – then we're dealing with a different person altogether, and that individual might be very capable."

  "Exactly." With a heavy sigh, Maddy said, "I'm not sure what to do overnight. We need to keep her locked down, maybe sedated so she can't hurt anyone. Tomorrow, decisions can be made." Her voice thinned. "I really don't want to alert her. We won't know what to do until we know what our options are."

  Stefan frowned. He could help. This painting wasn't going anywhere tonight. An emotional mess of bright oranges and yellows sat on the large square canvas. He'd come back to it. Besides, he wouldn't mind looking at this Doris person. See if she'd been the one who'd drained him so quickly. Or connect to another someone who did. "I'll keep an eye on them. I'm doing energy work myself this evening. I'll put in markers and check for any movement, while you sleep." Stefan chuckled at Maddy's gasp on the other end.

  "Thanks," she said, her voice calm and steady. "Do the same for John, please, just in case. I need to know she's not going to be able to do any more damage tonight."

  Snatching up a rag, Stefan tossed his paintbrush and cleaned his hands. "I'll keep an eye on her. If it's Doris, I might know when I check out her energy."

  Hesitation tinged her voice. "You won't do anything foolish?"

  Stefan groaned. "No. I
won't. Everything will be fine. Go home, relax and for once – get some rest."

  "Thanks," she said dryly.

  His voice dropped the teasing tone, becoming distant and cool. "This isn't over, Maddy. All hell is going to break loose soon."

  "What? Stefan, what did you say?"

  Silence.

  "Stefan?" she added sharply. "Are you there?"

  Blinking hard, Stefan realized he'd drifted off somewhere. He cleared his throat. "I'm here. Sorry about that."

 
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