Epilogue – (10 Years Later)
The woman, sitting in the plush leather chair, patiently waited. Her long blond hair was pulled into a sleek ponytail. Pale shimmery eye shadow and the slightest hint of pink lip gloss was a smart choice. She looked posh and confident, waiting for the man on the other side of the wide wooden desk to finish reviewing her qualifications.
“Well, Mrs. Mitchell,” The man said looking up from the papers.
“I’m sorry, Sir, but it’s Ms. Mitchell,” Shelby politely corrected him as she looked down at her hands resting in her lap, observing her perfectly manicured nails and long slender fingers that were presently absent jewelry; however, small pearls hung from both of her ears, as well as a strand of pearls, formed a dazzling collection at the base of her slim throat.
“Yes, Ms. Mitchell, your qualifications are impeccable and the letter of recommendation from the Chief of Staff at Shepherd’s Crook Hospital is exemplary. Dr. Jonathan Robinson speaks very highly of you.”
A faint blush crept across Shelby’s cheeks. “Thank you, Dr. Chaudry, but to be honest, Dr. Robinson is a tad biased. Jonathan’s a very dear family friend and he’s always dreamt that I would go to medical school someday like his son, Gibson.” Shelby smiled thinking about her best friend, Gibby. He had been through a lot over the last few years and she was glad that he was finally happy and in love with his boyfriend, Scott Becker.
“But instead you chose a career in nursing?” A crease fell over Dr. Chaudry’s forehead as he listened to her explain.
“I know that Gibson Robinson will make a wonderful doctor, just like his father, but I’ve always felt that my place was in the nursing field, that’s where I can make the most impact. My mother’s a nurse and it has been such a pleasure following in her footsteps these last few years.”
The elderly doctor smiled at her thoughtful answers. “Tell me, Ms. Mitchell, why do you want to work here at The Beauchamp Psychiatric Hospital when you could have your pick at any number of positions in the medical field, and far more glamorous ones, too, I might add?”
“I have always been fascinated with the human mind and working with patients such as yours, will be extremely challenging, but very rewarding.”
Dr. Chaudry couldn’t hide his delight with her successful interview. “We would be pleased to offer you a position here in the women’s ward. You will be a wonderful asset to our team.”
Shelby slowly nodded her head. “Would it be possible to tour the facility and maybe speak to your staff and some of your patients before accepting your offer?”
Picking up the telephone as he answered her, “Of course, of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less; after all, you need to learn about us, just as much as we need to learn about you, before making such a big decision.” He turned his attention back to the receiver. “Tammy, would you please show Ms. Mitchell around?”
Within moments, Tammy knocked on the door before stepping inside. Her turquoise scrubs were bright and cheerful. She looked far more casual than Shelby in her sharp business suit and expensive heels. After a quick introduction, Dr. Chaudry turned Shelby over to Nurse Tammy.
The facility looked like every other in-patient mental facility across the country. Shelby smiled as the young woman explained the daily duties as they walked through the secured hallways.
“So why are you moving clear across the country?” Tammy asked, glancing down at Shelby’s ringless finger. “You’re obviously not chasing after a guy?” The nurse’s sarcasm shined through.
Shelby’s grin widened as she stepped closer to the woman and lowered her voice, “Maybe, I’m still looking for the right girl.” That remark had Tammy stumbling to put some distance between them. A look of horror flashed through the woman’s eyes, unaware that Shelby was just teasing, but Shelby didn’t care. She had traveled halfway across the country for one reason and it had nothing to do with Nurse Tammy.
The woman looked relieved when they reached the Day Room. Dozens of patients sat in the bright sunshine, enjoying games, reading and drawing. Their ages ranged from late teens to elderly patients barely breathing, but one of them immediately caught Shelby’s attention.
Greasy locks of matted blond hair hung over the woman’s face. Her hands were contorted into gnarled claws, clutched against her chest. Sitting alone in the far corner, her lifeless eyes stared out the big window.
Shelby needed to get closer. She had to be sure. From this distance the woman looked more like a homeless vagrant than the remnants of the spoiled selfish princess, she remembered from childhood. Her pulse raced with anticipation.
Tammy noticed Shelby staring at the patient and continued towards her lonely corner. “Mandy, darling, I want you to say hello to Nurse Shelby for me.” Shelby flinched when Tammy spoke. Her heart pounded in her chest. She had spent the last few years searching for Amanda Grady and it looked like she had finally found her. Stepping closer, Shelby could tell there was no way this patient could say hello, the woman apparently couldn’t even keep from pissing her own pants, the smell of urine was so strong.
“This is Amanda Shepherd.”
“Interesting,” The word slipped out before Shelby could stop it, luckily, Tammy just kept on rambling without missing a beat.
“Interesting? No, not really. Amanda here is paralyzed from the chest down as the result of a tragic fall when she was a teenager. She’s been in a catatonic state for years, long before she was transferred here to Beauchamp a few months ago--”
A crash in the hallway interrupted Tammy’s explanation, but Shelby had already heard enough to know that the woman sitting in front of her was Amanda Grady. Excusing herself to go investigate the commotion from outside the room, Tammy left them alone.
Shelby dropped down to one knee to bring Amanda’s icy stare to eye level. At first Amanda’s gaze stayed fixed as she stared through the window, but as Shelby started to talk, her hallow eyes slowly shifted towards the familiar voice. “I got to hand it to Daddy Grady; that was very clever of him to change your name. I almost didn’t find you this time.”
Noticing that she had Amanda’s full attention, Shelby smiled. The girl’s eyes widened with fear and she began to moan. “Shhh, Mandy, don’t get yourself all worked up. You know I’m not here to hurt you. On the contrary, I want you to live a long and miserable life, trapped in this rotting body for as long as possible. Death would be too good for you. I want you to suffer each and every day for the rest of your miserable life, and I want you spend every second think about all of the lives you have destroyed.”
The noise in the hallway stopped. Shelby only had a few seconds before Nurse Tammy returned, so she quickly finished what she had to say. “I’ll be back again someday to check on you. Until then, just so you know, Tanner’s in Heaven and Ethan is in Hell, so when your pathetic body decides to finally crap out on you…when you die, wherever you go…either way, you’re fucked!”
I can't thank everyone enough for all of the support you've had for Shepherd's Crook. This has been such an emotional story and you've stuck with me and Gibby and Tanner through it all. Your reviews have been great and kept me going, trying even harder to bring you the best story I can.
I hope that I've answered all your questions and haven't left any loose-ends. Please feel free to coment and review and ask as many questions as you want! If something wasn't answered in the story, I promise to answer everything in the reviews.