"If we ever get out of here, do you know what I want? A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup." Moira had her eyes closed, envisioning warm gooey melty cheese.
"WHEN we get out of here, I will make that for you. I make the BEST grilled cheese." Shane said. "It's not your everyday grilled cheese."
"What makes yours so special?" Moira asked.
"First off, I use three different kinds of cheese: cheddar, gruyere and muenster. I grill the bread in garlic butter with rosemary. It's divine if I do say so myself."
"That sounds like heaven to me." Moira sighed. The baby was starting to fuss, it was time to feed him again. She was nursing him when they heard the multiple locks om the basement door being opened. Moira covered her breast quickly as Ed descended the stairs. Shane put himself between Ed and Moira with the baby.
Ed laughed. It was an evil sound that sent shivers of dread down Moira's spine. “Relax my little bunnies.” They watched as Ed deposited a bag of food and a case of bottled water on the table.
"Baby doing, ok?" Ed asked.
"Yes, he's fine." Shane replied. Ed nodded and trudged back up the stairs. They heard the heavy locks go back in place.
"He left enough supplies for at least three days. He will be gone for a while this time. This is our chance to escape, we have to take it." Shane looked determined.
"We won't be able to get the door open Shane, you know that. We’ve tried."
"I know." He pointed to the one tiny window the basement had that wasn't bricked shut. It was high up on the wall. "We'll have to use the window."
Early in the morning the sound of Ed's truck roaring to life and driving away told them it was time. With some difficulty, they pushed the big heavy table across the room and placed it underneath the window. Even standing on the table, it was a stretch for Shane to reach the window. With nothing else to use, he wrapped his fist in a sheet from their mattress on the floor and punched the window again and again until it finally shattered. He cleared away as much of the broken glass as he could.
"I'm going to boost you up. Once you're out, I'll hand you the baby." Shane lifted Moira up and she wriggled through the small opening. She looked around, the old farmhouse was not far from the road. There were no other houses in sight. The ground was covered in slush from recent snow. Determining the coast was clear, Moira reached back through the window and took the baby from Shane.
"Ok, come on." She reached for Shane's hand. He shook his head.
"Moira, I won't fit. You have to go get help."
"No! I can't leave you here!" Panic registered on her face at the idea of leaving him behind.
"You have to. It's the only way."
Moira thought for a moment. " Maybe I can break into the upstairs and get the basement door open from there."
"We can't risk it. Ed probably took the keys with him. He could come back. Please, get you and the baby to safety and send help. Stay off the road in case he comes back. Ok?"
"Ok Shane. I'll get help, I promise." She paused to look down at him through the window, the man she had been trapped in that basement with for months, maybe a year or more. They had lost track of the dates. "Shane, I love you."
"I love you too. Now GO!"
Moira clutched the baby to her chest, it was freezing cold, and she was dressed in rags, the baby wrapped in only a sheet. Her feet were bare, and the ground was cold. She ran through the slush as quickly as she could, making it to the road and into the woods across from the farmhouse. She followed the road but stayed back in the trees out of sight. The rough terrain cut her frozen feet, but she barely felt it.
It seemed as though she had walked for hours when finally, a gas station appeared ahead. She paused at the edge of the woods. It had been so long since she saw any people other than Shane and Ed, their captor. She warily scanned the parking lot; half afraid Ed's truck would be there. Thankfully it was not. She staggered across the road, through the parking lot and into the gas station.
A young man behind the counter glanced up and dropped the magazine he had been reading. "What the hell? Lady, are you ok?"
"No. Please help me. Please call the police. " Moira sank onto the gas station floor clutching her crying baby. Her feet were purple and bloody. The young clerk called 911.
The police and an ambulance arrived about ten minutes later. Moira and the baby were wrapped in blankets and Moira's feet were bandaged. Moira told the officers how to get to the farmhouse.
"Please, you have to go get Shane. He's still trapped in the basement. Ed could come back; he'll kill Shane when he finds the baby and me gone. Please!"
The police officer had taken her name and radioed it in. He shook his head in disbelief. Moira Carlisle had disappeared sixteen months ago from a Walmart parking lot in the next County over.
"Do you know Shane's last name?" The officer asked.
He radioed that information in and requested backup. Shane Westmoreland was a real estate agent who had disappeared fifteen months ago after going to show a property. "As soon as my backup arrives, we're going to go get him, I promise. Right now, we need to get you and the little one here checked out. What's the baby's name? How old is he?"
"He's three weeks. He doesn't have a name." Moira looked sadly at the infant in her arms. "Ed said we couldn't name the baby because he was going to sell it. He said, not to get attached."
"My God." The paramedic loading Moira onto a stretcher muttered under his breath.
The paramedics gave Moira and the baby a quick once over. "Ok, we're ready to go to the hospital."
"No, please, I need to wait for Shane." Moira pleaded.
"We're going to get him right now." The police officer assured her. "We'll get him to the hospital; you'll see him soon."
At the hospital everything was a blur. Moira was poked and prodded. The baby was taken to be examined. Finally, Moira was taken to a room and allowed to shower. She stood under the hot water watching dirt, blood and soap suds circle the drain. It felt good to be clean and not just cold water in a bucket and wet wipes clean. Someone had brought her some scrub pants and a t-shirt to put on. She was thankful not to be in one of those paper-thin hospital gowns.
A nurse came in to rebandage her feet. A crib was rolled in for the baby who had been bathed as well.
"Someone's here to see you." The nurse said as she opened the door to usher someone in. Moira had hoped to see Shane, but she was just as thrilled to see her parents. They rushed to embrace her.
"We don't want to bombard you with questions sweetheart. We can talk about it all later. We're just so glad to have you back." Moira's father said.
The baby started to cry. "Who is this?" Moira's mother asked peeking into the crib. "Is he yours?" Moira nodded. "Oh! We have a grandbaby!"
Before Moira could explain, there was another knock at the door. A police officer entered the room, behind him an orderly pushed Shane in a wheelchair.
"Shane! Thank God!"
"Moira!" Shane leapt out of the wheelchair and rushed to her. They embraced while Moira's parents watched slack jawed. "I'm so glad you're alright."
"Folks, I need to ask Moira and Shane some questions. It's a bit crowded in here..." The police officer looked apologetically at Moira's parents.
"We'll be right outside honey." Moira's father pulled her reluctant mother out into the hallway.
Over the next hour Moira and Shane recounted the stories of how they had both been abducted by Ed and held hostage in his basement. Ed's plan was for Shane to impregnate Moira and then Ed would sell the baby. When Shane and Moira refused to have sex with each other, Ed had brutally raped Moira and forced Shane to watch. Ed threatened to do this every night unless they consented to be together. After that, Shane and Moira agreed to cooperate if only to keep Ed from touching her. Even though they did as he asked, Ed still forced himself on Moira occasionally.
"We... need a DNA test for the baby." Moira said. "We don't know which...." She trailed off into tears.
"It doesn't matter Moira. I meant what I told you. We'll raise the baby together no matter what." Shane was adamant.
"I need to know Shane. I'm sorry but if Ed is the father, I can't keep it. I just can't. I wouldn't be able to give him the love he deserves if I see Ed every time, I look at him."
"I'll let the doctor know you're requesting the test " The officer said. "They want to keep you overnight. We have an officer posted at your door. After that, we'd like to put you in safe houses until Edward Staley is captured. We will get him; I promise you that."
Shane clasped Moira's hand. "One safehouse. We stay together, period."
The officer looked to Moira. "That what you want?"
"It is, yes."
The officer nodded. “Shane, we’ve called your sister. She was out of town, but she has booked a flight and will be here in the morning. Anything else I can do for you two, just ask.”
“Could you.... explain to my parents what happened to us? I don’t think I can tell them.” Moira knew her parents would be devastated by the details and while they would want to know it all, the idea of seeing their faces as they heard it was just too much. “Tell them everything.”
“Of course, I’ll go do that now and give you some privacy.”
It had taken some convincing, but Moira’s parents had agreed to go home for the night and return in the morning. The hospital staff had tried to take Shane to his own room for the night, but he refused to leave Moira and the baby.
Early in the morning, Shane’s sister Portia Westmoreland arrived. After hugs and happy tears, Shane introduced her to Moira and gave her the short version of what had happened.
“My God, what the two of you have been through. I don’t think I could have survived it.” Portia shook her head. “When will they have the DNA test results?” She asked looking down at the baby sleeping peacefully in the crib.
“Hopefully today, they said they put a rush on it.” Moira sighed.
“I think he has your nose, Shane.” Portia mused.
“I hope you’re right about that Portia.” Moira smiled. “As for surviving, I wouldn’t have without your brother.” She looked at Shane with adoring eyes. “He kept me sane. He held my hair back during morning sickness and he delivered the baby.”
“You delivered a baby?” Portia looked at her brother in amazement. “So.... you two are.... together now?” Portia looked doubtful. It would surely not be the last time their relationship was questioned. Were they only together due to their shared trauma? Would they last in the real world? Shane knew what his sister was concerned about.
“Sis, we had very little to do over the past year but talk. We got to know each other better than most couples I’d say. Moira says I saved her but, she saved me too and yes, we are in love, for real. When the dust settles, I’m going to marry this woman, assuming she’ll have me.”
Moira threw her arms around Shane. “Of course, I will.”
“If you’re happy I’m happy.” Portia said. “You ready to talk business?”
“Guess we better.” Shane nodded. “Do I have anything left?”
“Seriously? You have everything you had before you disappeared. I never gave up hope Shane. Our real estate business is doing well, and you can come back to work when you’re ready but, no rush. You still own the house in Mayfield. I rented it out, so you’ve been making money on that. The penthouse in town is just as you left it.”
“Portia, you are the best sister on earth.” Shane grinned.
“Yep. Don’t you forget it either.”
Shane’s penthouse was in a building with security; the police agreed to use that as their safehouse. Edward Staley had not yet returned to the farmhouse; the police were watching the house and had an APB out for Ed and his truck.
Portia went to the store with a list of necessities to purchase including a car seat for the baby. She had just returned when the doctor came in with the DNA test results. The hospital room was crammed full; Moira, Shane, Portia and Moira’s parents all held their breath.
“Congratulations Mr. Westmoreland. You’re a father.”
The room erupted in cheering and happy tears. “Thank God.” Moira said as she scooped the baby up from the crib and handed him to Shane. “Here’s your son, Shane.” Shane took his son in his arms and cried for joy.
“Guess we better give him a name huh?” Shane couldn’t take his eyes off the baby other than brief adoring glances at Moira.
“I know what I want to name him, if it’s ok with you.” Moira said. “Shane Thomas Westmoreland Jr.”
“Really?” Shane looked happy. “Are you sure?”
The penthouse was beautiful, it just needed a good dusting and some babyproofing. Within a couple of days, one of the spare bedrooms had been transformed into a nursery with the help of Moira’s parents and Shane’s sister. Moira and Shane were standing over the crib, admiring their perfect baby boy when the penthouse buzzer sounded off. A detective was downstairs with an update.
“We got him!” The detective announced as soon as the elevator doors opened. “Officers picked up Edward Staley late last night when he showed up at the farmhouse.” Moira and Shane released sighs of relief and thanked the detective.
“I’m sure we’ll have to testify in court.” Moira mused after the detective left.
“Gladly.” Shane replied. “That man will never hurt our family or anyone else, ever again.”
While Moira was nursing the baby, Shane sent a covert text message to his sister. She arrived at the penthouse just before dinner time.
“Did you get everything on the list?” Shane asked.
“Sure did. This is a bizarre celebratory dinner, Shane.” Portia shook her head.
“Trust me, it’s meaningful.” Shane laughed.
The smell of dinner cooking drew Moira from the nursery. “Something smells so good.”
“Have a seat at the table sweetheart. I’ll bring the food out.” A minute later Shane placed a bowl of tomato soup and the best grilled cheese sandwich Moira had ever tasted in front of her. “I believe I promised you this.”
“You remembered.” Moira smiled.
“Tomorrow, we’ll go shopping since it’s safe to go out now. I want to buy you an engagement ring, assuming you haven’t changed your mind about marrying me, that is.”
“I haven’t changed my mind, Shane and I never will.”
Two months later Moira and Shane married. Six months after that, they testified in court to what Edward Staley had put them through. Ed’s lawyer took the stance that they should be thanking Ed because they were now happily married and had a beautiful son together, none of which would have happened without Ed.
“The ends do not justify the means.” Shane replied. “I wouldn’t trade my wife or son for anything in the world, but we have our happily ever after DESPITE Ed Staley, not because of him.”
Edward Staley was sentenced to a number of years in prison that was sure to outlast his life span.
“Our nightmare is finally over.” Moira said.
“And our dream is just beginning.” Shane kissed his wife. They left the courthouse hand in hand and went home to their son.