It awed her that they had such a sophisticated, self-sustaining facility. Airfields, hangars, a helicopter, shooting range. And an honest-to-God medical clinic.
“What’s that building?” she asked, gesturing toward the one with no windows.
“War room,” Donovan said.
She gaped at him. “War room?”
“It’s where we plan our missions. It houses our communications, computers, all the technology that plays a part in our business. It—and I—are the brains in this operation,” he said with a grin.
“He’s our resident geek,” Swanny said, speaking up for the first time since they’d left Donovan’s home.
“It would seem you do a little bit of everything,” Eve murmured. “Medic, geek, badass ex-military guy? Is there anything you can’t do?”
He pretended to consider the matter a moment, and then his smile broadened. “Nope.”
“Very humble too,” Swanny said dryly.
Eve couldn’t help the light chuckle that escaped her. Donovan stopped in his tracks as he started to get out of the driver’s side.
“You have a beautiful smile, Eve.”
She had no idea what to say to that. She immediately sobered, because really, what right did she have to be smiling when her brother and sister were hurt and ill?
“I didn’t say that so you’d stop,” Donovan said as he appeared at her door.
“I haven’t had a lot to smile about,” she returned quietly as he helped her from the vehicle.
“And I intend to rectify that.”
Her mouth fell open, but he ignored her reaction and began walking her in slow, measured steps to the door where Joe and Steele had already taken Travis. Swanny followed swiftly behind, carrying Cammie.
“I want to be with Travis,” Eve said anxiously. “I need to make sure he’s okay.”
Donovan slid a hand down her arm, spreading warmth in its wake. “He’ll be fine, Eve. I’ll put you and Cammie in the other exam room so you’re with her when Maren checks her over.”
“Yes, of course,” Eve said hastily. “I didn’t mean that I’d be leaving Cammie. I just thought that we could all be in the same room.”
Donovan led her into a small exam room and set her down in a chair. Then he turned to Swanny and took Cammie from his arms and perched her on the end of the padded exam table.
“The rooms are small and there are only two. Maren will need the room to get the portable X-ray in. Joe and Steele will be with him, and as soon as she’s done with Travis she’ll let you know how he is. I promise.”
Eve nodded, but anxiety was eating her alive. Travis tried so hard to hide his pain from her. She knew he didn’t want her to worry. But she’d seen how difficult it was for him to even walk.
The wait seemed interminable. And then finally Maren walked into the room, a reassuring smile on her face.
Eve surged to her feet, earning her a reproving frown from Donovan, who reached to steady her when she wobbled.
“How is he?” she asked anxiously.
“He indeed has some broken ribs, but they’re lower and didn’t do any damage to his lungs or other internal organs. His pulse is good and he’s not exhibiting any signs of internal bleeding, but Donovan will need to keep close watch on him for the next few days. I’ll look in on him daily until I’m satisfied that he’s recovering well.”
“Is that all?” Eve asked, afraid that there was more.
“Just a few bumps, bruises and scrapes. He’s very lucky. You all are. A tornado is nothing to sneeze at. You did right by getting them inside that culvert, but you should have been there yourself,” Maren chided.
“They’re more important,” Eve said fiercely.
Donovan touched her arm, rubbing his finger lightly up her skin to her shoulder.
“You’re important too, Eve.”
“Now how about I have a look at you, young lady?” Maren said in a cheerful tone to Cammie.
Cammie looked shyly up at Maren and then over to Donovan for reassurance. How quickly Donovan had gained Cammie’s trust. It was something that still shocked Eve. Cammie had even warmed to Swanny. She was grateful to Swanny and Donovan, and, well, all of them for proving to Cammie that all men weren’t to be feared. She just prayed that faith hadn’t been misplaced. It would crush Cammie and cement her fear of all men.
“I’ll be right here, sweetheart. So will Eve. Maren won’t hurt you. She just wants to help you feel better.”
Cammie nodded slowly and turned wide eyes to Maren. Maren smiled warmly at her and then began her examination. At times Maren frowned as she listened to Cammie’s breath sounds. Then she took her pulse and temperature and looked at her throat and palpated her lymph nodes.
When she was finished, Eve sat forward eagerly, looking to Maren for her diagnosis.
“She’s a sick little girl,” Maren said bluntly. “Normally I’d have her in the hospital on IV fluids and antibiotics, but I understand that isn’t an option for you. I’m going to start an IV on her here and Donovan can administer her meds at home until I see an improvement in her condition.”
“How sick is she?” Eve whispered. “What’s wrong with her?”
“She has the beginnings of pneumonia. I want to do a chest X-ray to confirm my suspicion, but her breath sounds are labored and she’s rattling when she breathes. Left untreated, she could get very ill.”
Though Maren didn’t say it in front of Cammie so as not to frighten her, Eve got what she’d left unsaid. Cammie could die.
Eve buried her face in her hands as sobs welled from her throat. Donovan’s arm went around her, pulling her into his embrace. He squatted on the floor beside Eve’s chair and held her, rocking her back and forth.
“I tried,” Eve choked out. “I’ve tried so hard and it’s not enough. It’s my fault she’s so sick. I should have done more but I couldn’t. You don’t understand. He would have found us and I can’t let that happen. I can’t let her and Travis go back to him. No matter what happens to me, I can’t let them down.”
“Shhh, Eve,” Donovan said gently. “You’ve taken far too much on your shoulders. You’re only one person. You did the best you could. No one faults you for that. You’ve taken excellent care of Cammie and Travis, but it’s time to let someone take care of you.”
She shook her head. “They are what matters. Not me. They have their whole lives ahead of them,” she sobbed. “I won’t let him ruin it for them.”
“Eve, I need to examine you now,” Maren said in a gentle tone.
Eve lifted her head. “I’m fine. Really. Travis and Cammie are the ones who needed help.”
“I’ll be the one to determine that,” Maren said firmly. “Your head is still bleeding from a wound, and I need to see what I’m dealing with.”
Maren lifted her hand in puzzlement and then stared at her fingers as they came away with blood smeared on the tips. Donovan helped her to her feet and then picked Cammie up so Eve could take her place on the exam table.
“Do you remember what all happened during the storm?” Maren asked as she probed into Eve’s hair. “Can you tell me where you hurt?”
Her entire body ached. She felt like one giant bruise. Donovan had been right about one thing. Now that reaction had settled in, she felt every part of her body and it was screaming in protest.
“It was all a blur,” Eve said. “I was trying to get Cammie and Travis to safety. Travis was hit by a huge limb and I had to leave him to get Cammie into the culvert. When I came out, I was knocked to the ground and then Travis was there. But the wind just picked me up. And I made Travis leave me to go back to Cammie. I don’t remember much else.”
“Donovan, can you step out so I can do a more thorough assessment of Eve?” Maren asked calmly. “Why don’t you take Cammie down to see Travis? Joe and Steele are with him. I’ve already bound his ribs and given him something for pain.”
“Just make sure you give something to Eve too,” Donovan said in a firm voice.
Maren’s lips lifted in a half smile. “I’ve got this, Donovan. Now shoo.”
After Donovan left, Maren turned back to Eve. “Can you undress for me? I want to go over all your extremities and your abdomen as well. Depending on what I find, I may do X-rays on you as well. You’ve got quite the bump on your head. I’d prefer to be able to do a CAT scan, but I don’t have that capability here.”
Eve slowly undressed, with Maren holding on to her arm for support. When she was done, she reclined on the exam table and Maren did a brisk assessment, occasionally asking Eve if an area hurt.
After several long minutes, Maren helped Eve sit up and then get back into her clothing.
“My only concern is how serious your head injury is,” Maren said. “You’ve got extensive bruising, but I don’t think anything’s broken. But you’re going to have to take it easy for several days. All of you. And I mean that, Eve. Complete rest. I don’t want you so much as lifting a finger.”
“But I can’t,” Eve protested. “We were leaving. I can’t stay. I’ve been here too long as it is. I have to keep moving or he’ll find us. I know he won’t give up until he does. You don’t understand what he’s capable of. What he’s already done and will do again.”
Helplessness gripped her, overwhelming her until she wanted to weep in despair. How could anyone understand the enormity of their situation? That if Walt caught up to them, Eve would be put away and then Cammie—and Travis—would be alone, and he’d vent his rage and tighten his control over them.
“You’re staying, Eve.”
Eve whirled around to see Donovan standing in the now-open door, grim determination locked on his face.
“I have nowhere to stay,” Eve whispered. “The trailer is gone. We have nothing. Everything I own is in the suitcase you found. It’s all I have to support us and it’s not enough!”
Donovan’s expression was determined, his lips drawn into a tight line as he stared unblinking at her.
“That’s not true, Eve. You have me. You have KGI. You and Cammie and Travis will be staying with me.”
DONOVAN watched as the color fled from Eve’s cheeks. She braced herself on the exam table, panic evident in her eyes.
“We can’t,” Eve protested. “You don’t understand.”
Donovan shook his head. “I’m really tired of hearing you don’t understand. What I understand is that you and your brother and sister need help. You need a place to stay. You need food to eat. But what you need most is the knowledge that you’re safe and that no one will harm you. I understand your fears and reservations, Eve. I get it. Believe me. But your answer is no real solution to the problem, and if you stopped and thought for a minute you’d know I’m right.”
He continued on, talking over the protest already forming on her lips.
“You can’t keep running. It’s no way for any of you to live. And the next place you land in won’t have what you have here. People who care about you. People who will protect you.”
“You don’t know me,” Eve whispered. “How could you possibly care about me or Cammie and Travis? What you suggest is crazy! People don’t just move strangers in with them. Nor do they make promises when they have no idea what they’re up against.”
“You’re right. I don’t know. Yet. But you’ll tell me. It’s a conversation you and I are having soon. But right now, my priority is getting you all the care you need and making sure you all rest and recover from your injuries and getting Cammie over her illness. You can’t play around with this, Eve. Cammie is a very sick little girl. You have to think about her and what’s best, not only for Cammie, but for yourself and Travis.”
“She’s all I think about,” Eve said fiercely. “She’s who I think about every minute of the day.”
Donovan moved closer to Eve, reaching for her hand, curling his fingers around hers. Her hand trembled in his and he rubbed his thumb over her knuckles, trying to soothe some of the anxiety rolling off her in waves. For a moment she gripped his hand, almost as if she desperately wanted the comfort he offered. He took that as a positive sign that he was finally getting through to her.
“I never thought for a moment that she isn’t uppermost in your thoughts or that she wasn’t your priority. If I implied that, I apologize. All I’m saying is that you need help and I’m going to give it. I won’t take no for an answer.”
Eve stared at him in bewilderment. Then she glanced at Maren, discomfort in her eyes that Maren was privy to this conversation.
“Eve,” Maren began softly. “I don’t want to intrude, nor do I want to step on your toes. But I agree with Donovan. As a doctor and as someone who has a very close connection to KGI and the Kelly family. Cammie is very ill and she needs to be on IV medication. She’s not going to get well overnight. It’s going to take time. And Travis is in no condition to go anywhere but to bed where he can rest and recover. I know you’ve done the best you can, but everyone needs help at some point. I know I certainly did. And KGI came through for me. Just like they can help you. Take it from someone who has been there and done that. On more than one occasion,” she added with a rueful smile. “Donovan—and KGI—is the best. And you need the best. Cammie and Travis deserve the best as well. I would be terribly negligent as a medical professional to condone you going anywhere in your current condition.”