Tarnished – Conclusion


Has Kier’s plan worked? Is Hannah free?

The driver’s door to the other car was finally forced open. The passenger was already out, but Hannah couldn’t see who it was. They were getting the same treatment as Kier. The driver was yanked from the car and slammed against the back door. There was something very familiar about the stance.

“Bernie?”

The short, balding man glanced over his shoulder. “Hannah, thank God!”

“Turn and face it, buddy,” the cop said.

“That’s my fiance,” Hannah cried. “Bernie!” She tried to get around the front of the car.

“Hannah!” Kier bellowed. “Don’t listen.”

“But it’s Bernie!”

“Hannah, thank God you’re okay! I’ve been worried sick! Thank God I found you!”

“How would he know where to look, Hannah? He wouldn’t know about this Godforsaken place unless he already knew about it. He’s the Mater, Hannah. You have to believe me!” Kier called desperately at her. “For God’s sake, don’t let her near him! Hannah!”

Moonlight flashed on something in Bernie’s hand. Hannah screamed as the cold metal bit into her flesh. Everything happened at once as pain exploded in her side. She could hear Kier’s voice.

“Get these goddamn cuffs off me. Call an ambulance!”

“Catch him, he’s trying to get away! Halt, or I’ll shoot!”

The report of a weapon, a scream, a groan and all was silent. Sirens sounded in the distance. Hannah lay on the pavement, strong arms holding her, gentle fingers brushing her hair.

“I’m here, Hannah. I’ve got you. You’re all right now….”

~ * ~

She woke a long time later. Dim light limned the room in a faint blue-white glow. Rain pattered against the windows. Hannah was lying, propped up in a hospital bed. The call button was clipped to the pillow beside her head.

Thirsty, she tried to reach the water, but couldn’t quite. Someone moved in the dark, approaching the bed with care.

“Hannah?” It was Kier.

She tried to ask for water, but her throat was too dry. He poured her a glass, holding the straw to her lips. She sucked at it greedily, stopping to catch her breath. He took the cup away, setting it on the table.

“Kier,” she gasped.

“Shh, don’t try to talk. It’s over. You’re safe.”

“You saved me,” she said with a sob.

“Least I could do for the woman I love.” He kissed her brow.

“You love me? I love you.”

He kissed her tenderly, his lips lingering on hers.

“Bernie?”

“In the county lock up. Or he will be when he heals up some. Cop shot him in the ass when he was running away.”

Hannah laughed, holding his hand to her lips. “How appropriate. So, the bastard set me up?”

“Yes. He knew our shop was the only place to get the things he wanted for the wedding. He planted the idea of a Medieval wedding, and encouraged you to get the candles and incense. He planned this from the beginning, Hannah. From the moment he found out about your allergy.”

“Who are these people?”

“Who they are doesn’t matter. What they do—well, you know what they do. They find special people and torture them.”

“Why didn’t you ever try to get away?”

“I knew they’d come after me. The only way to stop them was to take down the Master. But I’d never met him. Not until they found you did he show himself.”

“But you knew it was Bernie? How?”

“Little things he did betrayed him. There was a nurse at the hospital watching him for me. Remember the woman who sat with you?”

“Yes! She was such a comfort.”

“She’s my real mother. She was just as trapped as me. Had either of us spoken up, the other’s life was forfeit. All this time, we’ve been prisoners, Hannah. You set us free.”

“No, we set each other free.”

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