YAY! I broke 200 reviews with the last chapter! You guys have no idea how much your reviews mean to me. I know it sounds real cheesy and all, but I could NOT do this without you guys. Oh, and Vampgurl99, I'll answer ALL of your MANY questions at the end of the chapter. Lol! Well, moving on…

Chapter 18

"Hey, Jess," a voice whispered softly in my ear.

I groaned and rolled over, pulling a blanket over my face. Where were those flashing red lights coming from? I felt a touch on my shoulder. I gasped a bolted upright, slapping away the offending hand. I met Ty's startled gaze.

"I'm sorry," he quickly apologized, "I didn't think-"

"No, no, it's okay," I interrupted him, "I'm okay."

"Well, the police are here. They want to speak to you."

I realized that that was where the lights were coming from. I nodded and pushed back the blanket, sitting up on the living room couch. Just what I needed… Ty reached down a hand and pulled me up.

"I guess I'll have to face them eventually," I sighed.

"Hey," he said, turning me to face him, "This is a good thing. He's never going to hurt you again. You'll be safe."

I gave a small smile and nodded. "Yeah, I guess."

He clasped my hand once more and we headed outside. Three officers were waiting on the front porch alongside Rob and Ms. Tracy. A police car was parked in the driveway.

"I promise," Ms. Tracy insisted, "We didn't know anything about this. Jessica and Ty never told us anything."

"They're right," I interjected, "They didn't know."

The female officer turned to me. "Jessica Baldwin I presume?" I nodded. She looked at Ty. "And you must be Tyler Landon." He nodded as well. "Could I have the two of you sit down?" She gestured to the bench where Ty's parents were sitting and we sat beside them.

One of the two men stepped forward. "We need to know everything that you can tell us before we can make an arrest."

I nodded and Ty slipped a comforting arm around my shoulders. With a sigh, I began with my mother's marriage to Derek.

"After my dad died, my mom thought that my brother and I needed a 'father figure' around. So, after a little while, Mom married Derek. He wasn't so bad at first. Sure, he was never very fatherly, but he had a good job and worked hard. About two months after their marriage, he got fired for something that wasn't his fault.

He took to drinking and started taking his anger out on us. When people started asking questions about my family's injuries, we moved. That kept happening over and over. He got another job, but he didn't change. He kept drinking and beating us, but we were all too afraid to do anything.

By the time we moved here, it had all become routine. I didn't expect to stay here for too long, so I didn't intend on making any friends. But I met Ty." I felt him squeeze my shoulder. "When I started getting bruises, he started asking questions. After a while, I told him the truth. But he was the only one I told."

I continued, recounting the time that I spent in the hospital here, as well as an earlier time when he had broken wrist. Two of the officers looked at me the entire time I was speaking, as if searching me for a lie, while one of the men jotted on a pad.

When I had finished after recounting tonight's events, the man with the pad looked up at me. "We're going to need some physical evidence before we-"

I stood and turned my back to the three of them before he could even finish his sentence. I lifted the back of my shirt to show them the scars that I had shown Ty when I first told him. They sat in silence for a moment. I turned back around to face them.

"Will that do?" I asked.

They nodded, as if shaking themselves out of a trance. The officer who had not yet spoken finally did. "Do you know where he currently is?"

I shrugged. "The last I saw of him, he was laying on the floor in the kitchen at my house."

"We'll go and see if he's still there and take him into custody. When we come back we'll have to get some more information from Mr. Landon and your brother." He turned to the woman officer. "Officer Tanner, you stay here while Officer Kale and I search for the suspect."

Officer Tanner nodded. "Yes sir."

The two men headed over to the squad car and climbed in. They turned down the street and headed in the direction of my own home, lights flashing, but the siren silent. We all went inside, led by Tanner and settled in the living room. There was an awkward silence for a few minutes before Ms. Tracy stood.

"I'm going to go check on the kids," she said.

Rob immediately jumped up as well. "I'll go with you."

They were apparently very eager to escape the uncomfortable atmosphere. Tanner stood a moment later and stepped outside the front door. I could see her outside the window, simply standing and staring down the road. I sighed deeply. I had never felt so drained in my life.

"You okay?" Ty asked.

I shrugged and curled up under the blanket that I had left on the couch. "I guess so. Just anxious I guess."

I felt his fingers touch my hair. "It'll be over soon."

A pair of headlights glared momentarily in the window. The front door opened and Officer Tanner stuck her head in. "I think it's your mother," she said.

Sure enough, a moment later, Mom came into the house looking exhausted. I stood and went over to meet her. She wrapped me in a hug.

"Are you okay?" she asked. "Where's Kyle?"

"He's asleep in the guest room," I answered, "And I'm fine."

"What happened after I left?"

I looked up at her pleadingly. "Please Mom, I don't want to talk about it again. Can't you ask Officer Tanner? She already knows."

Mom nodded understandingly. "I'll just go check on Kyle first."

I pointed her in the direction of the guest room and she left. I sank back onto the couch beside Ty and rested against his shoulder. His arm wrapped around me and a feeling of safety swept over me. I was glad I had called the cops. Everything will be taken care of. He can't hurt me here.

The front door opened, jolting me out of my blissful peace. Officer Tanner glanced around the room. She came in and shut the door behind her, bolting it. That couldn't be a good sign. "Where's everyone else?" she asked.

Ty shrugged. "Around. Why?"

"I'd like to speak to everyone."

I felt my heart settle somewhere in the region of my stomach. Something had to be terribly wrong. Ty stood and went in search of everyone, leaving me sitting anxiously on the couch with Officer Tanner standing before me. Once or twice, I caught her giving me a worried glance.

Ty returned with his parents, my mother, and Kyle (who had apparently woken up) following. They all sat in the surrounding chairs and couches, Ty resuming his place by my side. Officer Tanner stood in front of us and cleared out throat.

"Now, I don't want anyone to panic," she started, and I could feel myself growing sicker by the moment. Any time anyone started a sentence that way, panic was bound to follow. "But Officers Kale and Jacobsen have searched Ms. Baldwin's home and have not been able to find the suspect. Which means that he has left the premises and could be anywhere in the immediate area."

Ty squeezed my hand.

She continued, "But I'm sure we will find him soon enough."

Kyle whispered something to my mom and she shrugged, whispering something back. Ty's parents glanced at each other nervously.

Ms. Tracy finally piped up. "Are you sure that Jessica and her family are going to be safe here? I mean, isn't it likely that he'll be after them?"

I knew that everyone had been thinking it, including myself, but to here it spoken still frightened me beyond all reason. What would we do if he did come after us? Correcting myself, I thought, What will we do when he comes after us?

Officer Tanner hesitated for a bit, then said, "Well, I don't really think that-"

Her response was cut off by a gunshot. Everybody jumped, several of us screamed, and Officer Tanner swiftly removed the gun from her holster. There was tense silence for a moment, as everyone strained to hear any sound. My heart pounded rapidly against my chest. Ty had pulled me so close to him that I could feel his heart beating against my back, almost as fast as my own.

Suddenly, there was a pounding on the door and a familiar voice shouted angrily, "I know you're in there you little whore! Come out here! I'll kill you!"

Mom and Kyle stared at the door, wide-eyed with fright. I did just the opposite – I turned my face against Ty's chest, trying to imagine him away. Go away, Derek, I thought, Go away, go away, go away… Needless to say, it didn't work.

"Is that him?" Officer Tanner asked.

I looked over at her long enough for a quick nod, then went back to wishing him away. I heard Officer Tanner call the two other officers on her radio. A moment later, Derek had apparently decided that he had pounded on the door long enough.

"That's it! I'm coming in there to kill you!" Derek shoved the door open the few inches that the bolt allowed it, then cursed when it wouldn't give any more. Another shot echoed, accompanied by shrieks from around me as well as upstairs.

I heard Katie's frightened voice screaming for her mother, then Jay shout, "What's going on!?"

"Just stay upstairs!" Ms. Tracy called back to them, her face streaked with tears.

Derek's going to kill everybody. I have to do something.

I started to stand, but a firm grip around my waist yanked me back down. "Let go of me Ty!" I shouted, "I have to stop him before he kills everyone!"

He didn't listen. Instead, he pushed me onto the couch, pinning me beneath him. "And I'll kill myself if he kills you," he hissed in my ear.

"Get off me!" I screamed. I shoved against him, but he didn't move. I squirmed, pushing and kicking and screaming, my own shouts drowned out by the gunshots and shrieks of others.

To my surprise, he did. Ty stood and jerked me off the couch, dragging me forcefully to the hall closet. He snapped it shut, closing me in a cocoon of darkness. I heard a thud as he leaned his weight against the door.

"Ty! Please!" I was crying now, sobbing uncontrollably as I shoved against the closet door. He's going to kill them – my mom, my brother, Ty, his family, all of them!

I gave up and slumped against the door. What was the point? He was just going to end up killing me anyways. I could hear him trying to force the door in between firing off shots.

"Everybody stay down!" Officer Tanner shouted. I heard her fire a couple of shots as well.

"The door's going to give any second!" That was Rob.

Derek laughed in a frightening way and shot two more times. Wait… that wasn't Derek. Those shots were too close together to be the same gun… And it didn't sound as close as Officer Tanner's shots had. Shouts from outside were accompanied by several more shots.

I stood and attempted to force the door open again. Apparently Ty had moved because the door immediately swung open and I tumbled out onto the living room carpet. I sat up, realizing that the screaming and shouts had almost completely died away. Ty's face appeared above me, looking rather pale, and pulled me to my feet.

He gave me a tired smile then said, "They got him. Come on."

He held my hand and led me outside. Apparently Jay and Katie had come downstairs, because they were standing on the porch, embraced by their parents, alongside Mom and Kyle. I saw the two men officers cuffing Derek on the lawn while Officer Tanner trained a gun on him.

The one that I remembered as Officer Jacobsen motioned me forward. Officer Kale pulled Derek up off the grass as Ty propelled my reluctant feet forward. Soon, I was standing just feet in front of him, his bloodshot eyes blazed at me angrily.

"Is this him Ms. Baldwin?" Officer Jacobsen asked.

I nodded slightly, my eyes never leaving his face. Hate and anger were etched in every line. Suddenly, he lurched forward towards me, calling me a crude name and once again threatening to murder me. I leapt backwards just as Officer Kale grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him into a headlock.

"I'll kill you!" he howled, "They can't keep me in jail forever! I'll kill you!" And once more he called me a foul name.

Ty pushed me back gently and I glanced up at him. His attractive face was contorted with rage and his fists were clenched. Derek turned his eyes away from me and focused them on Ty as he took a step forward.

He smirked. "And what are you gonna do pretty boy? What do you think you could possibly-"

His snide remark was immediately cut off as Ty heaved a fist backward and swung it forward with all of his weight backing it up. His knuckles made contact with Derek's jaw and there was the sickening sound of flesh connecting with flesh. Derek stumbled backwards, supported only by Officer Kale's solid form behind him. Officer Jacobsen immediately lunged forward and seized Ty's fist as he prepared to plummet it into Derek's face again.

"Hey, hey, calm down son," Officer Jacobsen said.

"I swear," Ty panted, "if he threatens her one more time I will personally rip him apart."

Officer Jacobsen chuckled and released Ty's arm. I stepped forward and slipped my arm through his. "Well, you've made a good start of it." Officer Jacobsen gestured toward Derek.

Ty and I both look to where Derek was staring dumbly at the pair of us, blood streaming from his nose. There was silence for a moment, before Officer Kale forced Derek into the squad car.

Officer Tanner stepped in front of me as the others climbed into the car. "I'm sorry for everything you've been through," she said, "But it looks like things will be better from now on."

I smiled and put my arm around Ty's waist. "Yeah, I think things will be a lot better."

She nodded and smiled back. "We'll be in touch. You're all going to have to go through the whole court process before he gets what he deserves. I hope things work out for you."

"Thank you," I answered. "I hope so too."

She joined the others in the squad car and they drove down the street. As it disappeared, I felt unbelievably happy. It was really over. Well, maybe not entirely over, but he was gone for now. And I was safe.

I felt a hand on my back and turned to see my mother smiling through her tears. "You did it Jessie. He's gone, and it's all thanks to you."

She hugged me close to her, pulling my nearby brother into it as well. When she had finally given me room to breath I pulled back. "You're right Mom. It is over. It's finally over."

Ty appeared beside us, his entire family beside him. Ms. Tracy smiled happily and said, "Let's get inside. It's Christmas! We shouldn't be spending it outside."

"I suppose we should be going then," Mom said sheepishly.

"Don't be ridiculous!" Ms. Tracy came forward and put an arm around my mother and began steering her towards the house. "You can stay with us for the day."

She continued talking as they all went into the house, leaving me and Ty outside. He hugged me from behind and I sighed contentedly. I glanced down the street. The sun had just started to rise above the horizon.

"Hey guess what?" he whispered in my ear.


The next thing I knew, Ty had grabbed me by the waist and lifted me upwards. He started spinning in circles, holding me up as he shouted, "You're free! You're free! You're free!"

I shrieked in surprise, which quickly turned into ecstatic laughter. I grasped his shoulders for support. "Ty! Put me down! I'm getting dizzy!" I gasped between fits of laughter.

He set me down, his hands still on my waist, mine still on his shoulders. "You're free," he repeated, in a quieter voice.

"I know."

His face was close to mine. I knew that this would have been the perfect movie-like moment for a kiss… But the memory of what Derek had almost done to me was still fresh in my mind. He touched my face gently, bringing his face closer to mine.

I drew my head backwards a bit. "Ty…"

He removed his hand from my face and took a step backwards, looking embarrassed. "I'm sorry Jess. I guess I just wasn't thinking again."

I smiled understandingly and moved forward, putting a hand on his arm. "Hey, it's okay. What do you say we go inside? It's kinda cold out here."

He grinned. "Sounds good."

Lacing my fingers into his, I walked beside him towards the house. I could hear voices speaking cheerily. Someone had turned on Christmas music and there was now a warm fire blazing in the fireplace. I paused for a moment in the doorway, taking in the scene. Ty stopped and glanced back at me.

"You okay?" he asked.

I smiled. "Yeah. Everything's perfect."

Man I can't believe it took me so long to update. My mom got me started on a quilt and I've been working like crazy on it. Well, a lot of you got one thing that you wanted – Ty finally decked Derek! Hoorah for Ty! Well, Vampgurl99 had a lot of questions, so let's get started.

1. Hopefully a bit about Jessie's history with Derek was explained in this chapter.

2. As far as Jess telling Ty so soon, she didn't really intend to do it just then. She was kind of "caught in the moment". I suppose that's the best way to put it. Jess was just kind of feeling the stress and snapped. A secret that big can weigh down on a person.

3. The reason Jessie's family has had to move so much is to avoid people asking questions about her injuries. She did used to have some friends, but people lose touch, especially when having a problem like Jessie's, and she kind of gave up trying to make friends because she knew that she would just be moving again.

4. I know that I did make Jess seem a little insensitive to her mother's "it's-all-my-fault" moods. She really isn't that cold, but she's given up on trying to snap her mother out of them. She's learned that her mom will get over it of her own accord and that there's nothing she can really do.

5. Ty's family hasn't really seen that much of Jessie, so there hasn't really been any hints as to something suspicious going on. Jess doesn't really associate with many other people at school, so they haven't thought much of her strange behavior or taken particular notice of her injuries.

I hope I explained everything to you. I guess I didn't really think about putting all the details into my story. It didn't really seem very important, but since you asked, well there you go! Everyone review please!