Carrying His Secret

By: Marie Ferrarella

Prologue

A woman’s piercing scream shattered the evening silence.

Filling up all the spaces within the very modern glass-enclosed executive office, the sound seemed to grow in volume rather than abate as seconds went by.

Cringing in response, Reginald Adair’s executive assistant, Elizabeth Shelton, didn’t immediately realize that the terrified scream had come from her. Shock, horror and disbelief had wrapped themselves so tightly around her consciousness that she wasn’t aware of anything except for the body lying in a pool of blood on the two-hundred-dollar-a-square-foot carpet.

Reginald Adair’s body.

Handsome, dynamic Reginald Adair, president of AdAir Corp, a huge cellular company that provided signal bars for close to two-thirds of the country thanks to its numerous satellites circling the earth, lay crumpled and unresponsive on the floor of his glass-and-chrome executive office.

This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening.

Pull yourself together, Lizzy. The man needs help, not drama, Elizabeth admonished herself. It didn’t matter that she felt like throwing up. This wasn’t about her. This was about saving Adair.

It felt as if every square inch of her five-foot-seven body was trembling as she knelt down beside the man. At sixty-two and an inch shy of being six feet tall, Adair had prided himself on keeping in excellent shape.

He might have been in excellent shape, but he was also heavy. Definitely not an easy man to move.

Bracing herself, through sheer determination, Elizabeth somehow managed to turn the man over onto his back.

His eyes were closed and there was blood flowing from a hole in his chest.

It took everything Elizabeth had for her not to back away. Another scream bubbled up in her throat. She pressed her lips together to keep it from emerging.

Taking a deep breath to brace herself, she searched for any sign of life. A panicky feeling was only inches away from erupting.

“Mr. Adair, can you hear me?”

For exactly sixty seconds, it felt as if every single thought had fled her head, leaving the entire area of her brain completely empty.

And then, because she’d been independent and on her own for most of her life, Elizabeth snapped out of the encroaching malaise.

Searching for his heartbeat, the only thing Elizabeth felt was her own as it went into overdrive, thundering madly against her rib cage.

“Think, damn it. Think!” Elizabeth frantically ordered out loud, desperate to keep it together. But what could she possibly do to save him?

Splaying her hand across her boss’s bloodied chest, she thought she detected just the faintest whisper of a heartbeat. At first she was afraid to push against it, afraid to make it beat any harder than it was because she was concerned that the pressure would make Adair lose more blood that much faster.

Tugging her cardigan off, she wadded up the sweater and then pressed it against the hole in Adair’s chest, frantically trying to stop the flow of blood.

Her own heart almost stopped when she saw his eyelids flutter.

“Oh, thank God. You are alive,” Elizabeth cried. “Stay with me, Mr. Adair, stay with me,” she begged.

She saw the light of recognition enter his vividly blue eyes. His lips began to move, but he made no audible sound.

Bending over him, Elizabeth brought her ear closer to Adair’s lips, trying to make out the words he was saying. He was so weak she could hardly feel his breath on her face as he attempted to tell her something.

Was it the name of his attacker? Had he seen who had done this to him?

Straining, Elizabeth still couldn’t make any of the words out.

“What? I’m sorry, sir, I can’t hear you,” Elizabeth told him.

He struggled again to say something, but still nothing came out.

She needed help.

Adrenaline racing through every fiber of her being, Elizabeth continued pressing on Adair’s wound with one hand as she searched for her cell phone in her purse with the other.

Her phone was in her shoulder bag. It had to be, Elizabeth thought as the phone continued to avoid her questing fingers.

Finally, in frustration, she took the strap in her teeth to facilitate keeping the purse open while she used her free hand to upend it.

Wallet, keys, her AdAir ID badge, along with her cell phone, came raining down beside her. Grabbing the phone, Elizabeth quickly dialed 9-1-1.

Within a couple of seconds, a cheerful, competent-sounding female voice declared, “Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?”

A torrent of rambling words threatened to pour out of her mouth all at once. Elizabeth struggled to sound coherent. “I need an ambulance. Now.”

“Are you hurt, ma’am?” the voice asked calmly.

“No, no, it’s not me. It’s for my boss. Someone shot my boss.”

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