“Bennett, the mess I’ve caused this time, the debts i owe, I’ll never be able to repay them in this lifetime.”
With that, Evadne closed her eyes in anguish, sobbing uncontrollably in Cassius‘ arms.
They had seen their little sister cry before.
In fact, they had seen her shed tears countless times since their childhood. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that their little sister, despite the image of a fierce and proud queen that she projected to the outside world as the Ashbourne family’s young miss, was just a ordinary girl who was fragile and needed affection.
But this time was different.
They could sense that the blow to Evadne was not a normal one. It might take a long time for her to recover from this painful emotional state.
On the way there, Arnold and Bennett had already learned the full details of the whole incident.
Jason was severely injured, but thankfully, he had preserved his life and had the possibility of recovery.
However, the girl named Erica had almost lost all signs of life when she was taken to the ICU.
Evadne was on the verge of kneeling down, begging the doctors to save Erica’s life.
They all prayed silently, hoping that the brave and unfortunate girl could survive this ordeal.
“Big bro, I heard that Jason is also seriously injured. Have you informed the Dempsey family?” Arnold asked with concern.
Cassius‘ expression slowly darkened, “Jason repeatedly asked me to keep this matter secret from his parents before he was taken to the operating room. His parents are getting old, and Mrs. Dempsey has been in poor health. If they know about this, they might not be able to accept it, and this might worsen her condition.”
“But with Jason’s injuries, it will take at least a few months of rest to recover, right? Keeping it a secret for a day or two is one thing, but it’s bound to come out if we wait too long,” Arnold pointed out.
“In that case, let’s wait until the surgery is done. Then, we will inform the Dempseys when all aspects of the his situation are stable. By then, they might find it easier to accept.” Elvis suggested seriously.
“Brothers! You’re all here?!” Aaron rushed over, looking flustered.
All brothers finally gathered, each of them excelling in their own fields. Now, standing together, they seemed capable of summoning dragons for Evadne. But even with all her brothers present, they couldn’t comfort Evadne.
How could they console her?
A delicate young girl took a bullet meant for her; witnessing Erica fall right before her eyes. Anyone with a shred of conscience would be engulfed in overwhelming guilt, unable to escape its grip
“Aaron, weren’t you supposed to give your statement at the police station?”
Elvis froze when he noticed a tall figure standing a few steps away.
At some point, Thaddeus, with his upright and unmoving figure like a pine tree, stood a few steps away. He silently watched, not disturbing the harmonious atmosphere of the family.
Gordon stood silently behind him, looking at the group of men, couldn’t help but feel anxious for Thaddeus.
Even if Thaddeus and Mrs. Abernathy had reconciled, the life ahead of them would not be easy.
The Ashbourne brothers looked at Thaddeus with complex expressions.
Evadne wiped her red eyes and walked towards the man with heavy steps.
Thaddeus watched her coming closer, his heart pounding like a drum.
“Are you okay? Have you taken care of your injuries?” He asked, his voice hoarse.
Evadne didn’t answer his question. She just met his worried gaze, saying, “Erica is still in the emergency room.”
“Okay, she’ll be fine. I’ll wait with you. We’ll wait together.”
Thaddeus comforted her gently, his fingers curling inwards, suppressing the urge to pull her into his arms.
“Why did you come tonight?” Evadne asked, her long lashes damp with tears.
“Erica met me at the Windermere Estate this afternoon. She told me about your meeting tonight.” Thaddeus told her honestly, “I was worried about you, so I followed.”
Unfortunately, his worries were justified.
Evadne, thinking of the shocking secret Erica had whispered in her ear before she lost consciousness, couldn’t help but feel her entire body tense up, shaking even more violently.
Should she tell Thaddeus?
She instinctively reached for the pocket of her jacket, where Erica’s broken phone was quietly tucked away.
Thaddeus‘ eyebrows furrowed, and he quickly took off his suit jacket and draped it over her shoulders, wrapping his arms around her.
She didn’t resist, her gaze vacant.
At this moment, her thoughts were occupied by Erica and Jason. She didn’t have the energy to concern herself with anything else.
“Have they caught that person?” Evadne asked quietly.
“He’s still being actively pursued. The police and rny men have blocked the entire Elmsworth–every transportation hub, airport, high–speed rail, highway Even if he grew wings and could fly, I could still bring him down. He won’t be able to escape.”
Thaddeus took a deep breath, his eyes flashed with anger, “Abuse of firearms, intentional causing harm, attending murder. Multiple charges, he can only repay with his wretched life.”
The image of Erica being sliot flashed again before Evadne’s eyes, blood staining her almond gaze.
She took a deep breath, covered her ears with her hands, and closed her eyes.
Thaddeus knew it was a stress response. His heart ached as he gently wrapped his arms around her, holding her close.
“It’s okay, don’t be sacred.” His hand gently patting her trembling back, his jawline tenser by the moment.
In presence of his young woman, he was just an ordinary man. He could feel pain and he would want to cry.
The Ashbourne brothers watched this scene, their expressions resembled a spilled palette, vivid and colorful.
Bennett furrowed his brow, about to step forward, but he was held back by Cassius and Elvis.
“Bennett, I know you don’t like Thaddeus, and I don’t like him either.”
Elvis sighed, “But we have to admit that if it weren’t for him tonight, we might not have seen Evadne again.”
Bennett’s eyes widened, a look of astonishment on his face.
“They had been a couple for three years, after all. There was no question of who was taking advantage of whom. If anything, Thaddeus probably had his fill during those three years. He probably took more than enough advantage in those three years, so he doesn’t need to worry about it this time,” Elvis said, hands stuffed in his pockets, lips smacking in amusement.
Arnold, Aaron, Bennett were all stunned into silence.
Cassius couldn’t believe that Elvis was siding with Thaddeus!
After all, when Thaddeus secretly married their little sister, Elvis was the one who exploded the most, almost flying to Elmsworth to blow up the Abernathy Group’s headquarters!
But it seemed that despite Elvis‘ fiery temper, he has his own set of standard when it came to matters of right and wrong.
Just then, the ICU doors opened.
Evadne rushed towards the doctor.
Thaddeus followed closely behind her, his gaze never leaving her for a moment.
“Doctor! How is she?!” Evadne’s eyes were bloodshot, filled with desperate hope.
The doctor’s surgical gown and gloves were covered in Erica’s blood.
Others gathered around, their eyes fixed on the doctor, anxiously awaiting news.
“Bullet penetrated vital organs, excessive blood loss. Actually, when she was brought in, it was already too late.”
The doctor sighed helplessly, shaking his head, “Ms. Evadne, I’m sorry, we did our best.”
We did our best.
Evadne, being a doctor herself, knew how cruel those words could be!
The Ashbourne family bowed their heads in sorrow, and Bennett removed his military cap, silently mourning for Erica.
Even though they had prepared themselves for the worst from the moment they stepped into the hospital, hearing the dreadful news firsthand still felt like a dagger to the heart.
The only one unable to accept it was Evadne.
“No, that can’t be. Erica was so strong, how could this happen?” Evadne grabbed the doctor’s arm, shaking it wildly as she repeatedly questioned the doctor, her voice hoarse with despair.
“Evadne, calm down, please!”
Thaddeus embraced her tightly from behind, almost withing to absorb her pain into his body, “When Erica left, there shouldn’t have been much pain. People can’t come back to life. What we, the living, need to do is seek justice for them!”
Erica was not Evadne’s relative, not even a close friend.
But this young girl sacrificed her life for her. The pain of regret and self–blame was unbearable for the kind–hearted Evadne.
In her eyes, she was the one who killed Erica.
“It’s all my fault. I killed her.””
Tears streamed down Evadne’s face, washing over her slender jawline. She poked at her chest with her fingertips, as if wishing they were a knife that could brutally open her heart.
Thaddeus watched her breaking down, his heart aching, his throat choked with immense sorrow.
When Evadne opened her eyes again, she found herself lying in a hospital bed with an IV drip.
Her brothers were busy handling the aftermath, with Arnold and Elvis stay in the ward.
“Elvis.” Evadne called softly.
“I’m here, little sis.” Elvis sat by her bedside, holding her hand tightly.
“Before Erica passed, she told me there was important evidence in her phone. But the phone is broken and I can’t turn it on. Can you fix it and retrieve the data?”
“No big deal, leave it to me.”
Elvis patted his chest, trying to give his sister a confident smile, but he couldn’t muster the energy, “Even if the phone is smashed to pieces, as long as the chip is intact, I can restore it.”
Evadne nodded in, relief, then she closed her eyes again.
“Evadne, what’s this secret?”
Arnold was quick to catch the crucial point, “Were the people attacking you tonight after this secret? Is Erica’s death related to it?”
“Yes, but I need solid evidence before I can tell you guys.”
Evadne clenched her fists tightly, her nails digging into her palms.
She needed the pain to keep her alert, to fuel her hatred and her rage!
She wanted revenge.
For Jason, for Erica, for everyone who had been harmed by Elspeth!
At the end of the corridor, next to the window.
It was already the early hours of the morning and Thaddeus was wide awake, staring out into the abyss of darkness with his bloodshot eyes.
He had immediately called Jareth, asking him to come and meet him.
Jareth first settled his wife Marilla to bed, having Lily stay with her, and then drove alone to the hospital as fast as he could.
“Thad, don’t worry, I’ve informed the underworld about this.”
Jareth lit a cigarette, then remembered they were in a hospital and put it away irritably, “With the cops on his tail, that bastard won’t dare show his face. Besides, given my authority in the underworld, who would dare to help him? He has no way to escape, not even by smuggling. The Fairhaven group will secretly search the city three times a day, and that bastard is as good as dead!”
Thaddeus clapped him on Jareth’s shoulder, his voice hoarse, “Did you tell Marilla about Erica?”
“Damn! Where could I dare? I couldn’t bring myself to do it!”
Jareth rubbed his forehead in frustration, taking a deep breath, “Even though I only met that girl once, I know she was close to Marilla, and she was a nice girl. If Marilla finds out about this, I can’t even imagine; I’m afraid she’d fall apart.”
“Yeah, we can’t let Marilla find out this.”
Thaddeus felt as if his heart was being squeezed, the grip tightening with every second, “Evadne is almost breaking down. Someone as tough as she couldn’t handle it, you can imagine how the others would feel.”
Jareth’s eyes widened in shock.
He knew what had happened on his way here, and even if Thaddeus didn’t tell him, he had ways to find out.
“Thad, what’s your plan now?”
“Taking care of Erica’s affairs. Gordon checked: her hometown is in the countryside and her parents passed away when she was young, only her grandmother is still alive.”
“Life’s got a knack for picking at the thinnest threads” Jareth sighed with sorrow.
“I’ll have Gordon take care of Erica’s grandmother; and if she’s willing, I’ll bring her to Elmsworth, arrange for her to stay in a top–tier nursing home, and let her live out her days in comfort.” Thaddeus, like Evadne, had witnessed Erica’s death firsthand.
The more her heart ached, the heavier his burden became.
“If the old lady is willing, it might help to ease some of Evadne’s guilt.”
Jareth, after living with Marilla for so long, seemed to have lost some of his harshness, and had become more understanding. “Thad, you need to keep an eye on Evadne in these days; don’t let her get stuck in her own head. She needs people around her right now. You need to take care of her, don’t let her get lost in her own thoughts and keep blaming herself. If it goes on for too long, it’ll break her!”
“I know, I get it.”
Suddenly, Thaddeus cast a knowing glance at pareth, “Hey, I’ve noticed something. You’ve changed since you’ve been with Marilla.”
“Changed? How so?”
“You’ve become more like a human.”
“What the hell are you saying, Thad? What do you mean I’ve become more like a human? Was I a dog before?” Jareth shot back, his eyebrows raising
“Not a dog, more like a ghost.” Thaddeus smirked slightly.
“Get out of here!”