Thanks to theinkmagpie for your comment on the story so far. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
As always, thanks to hubby for the edit. 3
Seth's apartment was on the ground floor in a small, exclusive complex that housed seven others. Outside was a neatly tended garden, and tarmacked car park, all contained within a security gate barred, fenced off area. Looking around, I could see the outline of buildings in the distance, and judged we were about half a mile from the TV studio.
We got into Seth's black SUV and drove across the city to the closest police station. The nearer we got, the tighter my throat became, and the harder my chest pounded. By the time we pulled into the carpark, I was shaking.
"You can do this." Seth unfastened his seatbelt and leant across the chairs to rub my forearm.
I took a deep breath and nodded my head. "Okay."
We climbed out of the car and walked into the station. Having Seth beside me steeled me, and without him there I think I'd have run in the opposite direction.
I cleared my throat as I approached the desk, and then said to the officer behind it, "I'd like to report a suspected drugging and attempted sexual assault, please."
"Of course. If you'll just bear with me for a few moments, I will locate one of our detectives specifically trained to deal with these matters, and make sure there's an interview room available." The officer paused and turned to Seth. "I'll have to ask you to wait out here while she gives her statement, please, sir."
I gazed at Seth, my lips trembling. "It'll be okay," he said softly.
I nodded, and then the officer said, "Please wait here while I get Detective Meadows."
He stood up from behind the desk and made his way along the corridor, leaving me and Seth alone in the reception area.
"Why can't you come in with me?"
"Because they'll need to take your statement alone to make sure I'm not coercing you or anything."
I frowned. "Coercing me? But you're the one who bought me here. Those guys would have raped me if you hadn't been there."
"You know that, but they don't. They're just doing their jobs. They'll probably want to question me too, once you tell them you passed out and I took you to mine."
"What? But you didn't know I'd been drugged. You just thought I was drunk. What were you supposed to do?"
"Again, they don't know that. It's just standard procedure in sexual assault investigations."
The hairs on the back of my neck bristled, and I absently raised my arms to rub the tension away. "I can't let them think you had anything to do with this. All you did was look out for me."
I started pacing. This couldn't happen. Seth shouldn't have to answer to the police because I'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"It'll be okay," he said. "We'll both tell them what happened, and once they've examined you and made sure you weren't hurt, they'll let us go home."
I trembled. "Why do they need to examine me? Nothing happened. Can't I just give them a urine sample to prove I'd been drugged, and then we can go home?"
"Jade, you've got to see it from their point of view. If you tell them you passed out, and I took you home, how is that going to look to the police?"
"I'll tell them you didn't do anything. How could they think you'd hurt me?"
"Because they don't know us. To them, you're just a girl turning up with a guy double your age, claiming you were drugged. For all they know, once I got you home, I took advantage."
"What? You'd never-" I ground my teeth together. I could not believe this. Seth had saved me from getting raped, and now the police were going to look at him like some dirty old man who'd taken advantage of me while I was passed out. "I'm so sorry I dragged you into all this."
"I'm not. If I hadn't found you when I did. Well…" he trailed off and shuddered.
"Yes, I'm glad you found me, but shouldn't have to go through this because of me."
"Yes I do. I wasn't about to leave you outside with those creeps, or make you come to the police station alone. If that means answering the police's questions, then that's what I'll do. Jade, what's important is you being okay."
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. My cheeks felt warm. His first instinct was to make sure I was okay. A little more of the tension in my body slipped away, and goose bumps spread across my arms.
The sound of someone clearing their throat startled me, and I turned to see the police officer had returned, and with him was a woman about Seth's age, with long blonde hair, a soft expression on her face.
She crossed the room to us, and extended her hand. "I'm Detective Meadows. I understand you wish to report a crime?"
"Yes." I shook the detective's hand.
"Right this way, please."
I glanced back at Seth, who nodded his head slightly, and then I followed Detective Meadows. She led me, not into one of those interrogation rooms you see in TV shows, but to a small office decorated in calming colours, with a floral sofa - which looked like it'd come from my grandma's - dominating the room.
I sat down, and Detective Meadows perched on the other end of the sofa, taking out a notepad and pen from her blazer pocket.
"If you could start by giving me your full name, date of birth and address please."
"Jade April Landon. June twenty-fifth, nineteen ninety-one. Fifty-One Willow Road."
"Thank you," Detective Meadows said after she'd written down my details. "Now, in your own words, can you please tell me what happened."
"I was at Riley's night club with my friends, celebrating our mate, Richard Clark's birthday. We were all on the dance floor, and this guy kept staring at me. Every time I moved away, he followed me. So I left the dance floor and went to get a drink from the bar. When I turned around him and his mate approached me. He asked if I wanted a drink, and I said no, I already had one. Then his mate grabbed my hand and span me around. I pulled away, and told them I wasn't interested. They stalked off whispering."
"What did these men look like?"
"They were both wearing dark trousers and shirts; one of them was lime and the other was sky blue, I think. The one in the lime shirt had dark hair and stubble. He's the guy who'd been watching me on the dancefloor. His mate had lighter hair, he's the one who grabbed my arm when I was at the bar and oh god, he must have distracted me so his mate could slip something into my drink."
"Why do you think they slipped something into your drink? How much alcohol had you consumed that night?"
"I'd only had three glasses of wine. I wasn't drunk, I know the difference. Something wasn't right. My vision kept going dark, and everything was spinning around. I tried to get back to my friends on the dance floor, but before I could, those two guys grabbed me and led me away. I tried to get away, but they were too strong. They held me wedged between them until we were outside."
"And what happened when you got outside?"
"I felt sick, but nothing came up. I told them I wanted to find my friends, but they wouldn't let me. That's when I pulled away from them and stumbled backwards. Then Seth caught me."
"Seth?" Detective Meadows asked.
"Seth Marshall. We work together, and he'd come to Rich's birthday bash. He was just leaving when he saw me trying to get away from the guys. He told them to leave me alone and scared them off."
"So Mr. Marshall will be able to identify the men who you suspect drugged you, too?"
"Yeah. He's just out there, you can go ask him if you want."
Detective Meadows' eyes widened for an instant, but she recovered quickly. "So Mr Marshall caught you, scared the guys away and then what happened?"
"I don't know. The next thing I remember is waking up at Seth's house about an hour ago. He said after the guys ran away I passed out."
"You passed out and when you regained consciousness you were at Mr Marshall's house?"
"Yeah. He didn't realise I'd been drugged. He thought I'd just had a little too much to drink, so he took me to his place to sleep it off."
"How much time passed between you leaving the club and waking up at Mr. Marshall's house?"
"I'm not sure. I think it was around half-twelve when the guys dragged me out of the club. So maybe about five hours?"
Detective Meadows nodded and jotted something down in her notebook.
"Where in Mr. Marshall's home did you wake up?"
"In his bed." I let out a breath. I knew where this was going.
"Was Mr. Marshall in the bed with you?"
"No, I found him asleep on the couch. And before you ask me any more questions, I know what this looks like. I know what you're going to say, but Seth didn't lay a finger on me. I woke up in his bed, fully clothed. When I told him what had happened with the guys, and how I'd felt weird, like I'd been drugged, he was the one who insisted I come to the police station."
Detective Meadows nodded. "I know this is uncomfortable, but we need to be certain of the facts. Did anything give you the impression Mr. Marshall wasn't telling the truth?"
"No. I trust Seth. He wouldn't hurt me."
"Going back to the club, what were you wearing?"
"A dress. A green dress."
"A long dress or a short one?"
I could sense where this was going, and the hairs along my arms prickled. "Just above the knee."
"And how, let's say, revealing, was the upper-half?"
"It wasn't." I sighed.
"How long ago did you get your hair done?"
"Recently. Can I ask why you're asking me all this?"
"What were your intentions when you arrived at the club?"
I sucked in a breath. "My intentions?"
"Were you there for a night out, looking to find someone or…"
"It was my friend's birthday. And no. I wasn't there looking to find someone."
"Are you sure?"
"So you weren't trying to look good for someone?"
Fuck. I was trying to look good for someone. Seth.
"What I'm trying to ascertain, Miss Landon, is whether your attackers could have accidentally gotten the wrong idea. Misread any signs you were giving off?"
"What? No! Of course not. I told them I wasn't interested. I thought that'd be enough. I didn't even return the one guy's gaze when he was staring at me. I moved away to avoid him."
"Okay, thank you, Miss Landon." Detective Meadows put her notepad and pen back in her blazer and stood up. "If you'll excuse me for a moment, I need to speak to my colleague."
"You're going to get someone to question Seth, aren't you?"
"We have to hear his account of events. And I'd also like to arrange for you to be seen by a doctor at the hospital. I'd be happier if you were examined by a medical professional, just so we have all the facts."
"Fine. That's fine."
"I'll be back shortly." Detective Meadows crossed the room and opened the door.
Once she'd left, I let out a long breath and raked my hands through my hair. The thought of going to hospital and being examined made me dizzy, and my body shook. Part of me wished I had my phone so I could call my friends and ask them to come with me. Another part of me was glad I'd lost it, so I didn't have to deal with more questions.
Exhaustion slowly crept over my body, and I wanted nothing more than to go home, and crawl into bed. Actually, there was one thing I wanted more than sleep … to make sure Seth was okay. Knowing having a medical exam would prove he hadn't touched me spurred me through the tiredness and discomfort.
Detective Meadows returned and sat back down on the couch next to me. "Mr. Marshall agreed to give a statement, and is being interviewed by my colleague now. I've arranged for you to see the sexual assault assessment team at City Hospital. They will examine you physically, and also take a blood and urine sample to test your drug and alcohol levels. I will escort you to the hospital."
"Okay. Then will I be brought back here, and will Seth be allowed to leave?"
"That all depends on his statement, and the results of your examination."
I nodded. Go through the formalities, I told myself. Neither of us have done anything wrong, and soon all this will be done with.
I left the station with Detective Meadows, and we made our way to the hospital. As she'd phoned ahead, I was quickly ushered into a private examination room.
"I'll be just outside the door," Detective Meadows said as she handed me over to the doctor.
The doctor, a young woman with long auburn hair, smiled at me kindly. "Hello. I'm Doctor Fellows. Jade, isn't it?"
"Okay Jade, I just need you to step behind this screen and change into the hospital robe. Then I want you to lay on the examination table. What I'm going to do won't be dissimilar to a cervical smear test. After that, I will take a blood and urine sample, and check you over for any bruises, cuts or scratches."
Fighting the need to run from the room, I walked over to the screen, and once concealed behind it, I stripped off and covered myself in the hospital gown. The floor was freezing, and being almost naked made me feel extremely vulnerable. I fought the nausea that was climbing up my throat, and stepped out from behind the screen.
I crossed the room and got onto the examination table, then lay down as I waited for Doctor Fellows to put on latex gloves. Once her hands were covered, she stood at the foot of the table.
"If you could just open your legs, please?"
I took a breath, then did as she asked.
"Okay. And another big breath please."
I exhaled slowly, and I felt the doctor insert a swab in me, and then examine me. I screwed my eyes up against the tears threatening to fall.
"Okay. I'm all done. Next I'll take the blood and urine sample."
I opened my eyes to see Doctor Fellows drop the swab in a test tube and seal it off. I scrambled off the examination table. My heart was beating erratically, and I could feel my chest tightening.
Trying to keep myself from trembling, I settled in the arm chair beside the examination table. Doctor Fellows applied a tourniquet to my upper left arm, then inserted a needle and withdrew three vials of blood. After that, she handed me a small plastic specimen jar.
"The bathroom is just down the hall, two doors away."
"Thanks." I took the container from her, and hurried from the room.
Once locked in the bathroom, I let out the tears that I'd been holding in. My body trembled, and a sharp pain stabbed my chest.
I let out a deep breath to calm myself, and then filled the specimen jar. Feeling calmer knowing this would all be over soon, I left the bathroom and returned to the examination room to give Doctor Fellows my sample.
She placed it, along with the swab from my internal exam, and the vials of blood, into a zip lock bag that had a medical label attached to the front. My details had already been filled in, and I assumed Detective Meadows had provided them.
"The results will take about an hour to process. After that, I will give Detective Meadows a report of my findings, and she will take you back to the station to discuss them and what happens next."
She smiled gently. "Okay, now I just need to check you over for any bruises, cuts, and scratches. If you could please remove the gown."
Looking at the spot of wall behind Doctor Fellows, instead of directly at the woman herself, I shed the hospital gown.
As she examined me, I looked down and noticed bruising on both my upper arms and wrists. The doctor saw them too, and wrote it down on a piece of paper on her desk.
Once I'd redressed, Doctor Fellows showed me out, and handed me back over to Detective Meadows.
"I'll be back with the results in about an hour. There's a waiting room just at the end of this corridor, and a vending machine if either of you want a drink."
Doctor Fellows headed up the corridor with my samples in her hand, and Detective Meadows led me in the opposite direction to the waiting room, which was thankfully deserted.
"Do you want a drink?" she asked, as I dropped into one of the metal chairs.
"No, thanks." I tried to smile, but was sure it came out as more of a grimace.
Detective Meadows got herself a drink from the vending machine, and then sat down next to me.
"You've done the right thing coming to the police about what happened. So many of these types of incidents go unreported."
"What will happen after you've got the results back?"
"That largely depends on what the results reveal. If you haven't been assaulted, but the tests come back with traces of drugs in your system, we will interview the nightclub staff and the taxi drivers who were outside at the time. We'll also review security footage from the area, and see if we can identify your attackers."
I didn't need to ask what happens if my results came back that I'd been assaulted. It wasn't going to happen.
I wondered what was happening to Seth. What were they asking him? Were they insinuating anything untoward had happened, or were they just taking a statement from him?
Would I ever be able to look him in the eye after this?
He'd seemed so concerned about my wellbeing and safety, insisting anything that happened to him in the station was a small price to pay to ensure I was okay. But what happened when we were released? Would he start to hate me for all the trouble I'd caused? Would our friendship be in tatters?
A sharp pain stabbed at my heart as I thought about how it was my fault he was even at the club in the first place. Maria had only invited him with the hopes something would happen between us. Now I felt certain nothing would ever happen.
Even if he hadn't seen me as an immature kid before, he wouldn't want anything to do with me after dragging him into this mess.
Finally, Doctor Fellows returned with a brown envelope. "Your results, and my assessment are within this envelope."
She handed the envelope to Detective Meadows, and the hairs along my arms bristled at the thought those results affected me directly, and yet I wasn't allowed to have them before the police had seen them.
Detective Meadows led me out of the hospital, and we got back into her car. We drove back to the station in silence. My head was killing me, and once again exhaustion wracked my body. I knew we only had one more hurdle to get over, and that moment couldn't come soon enough.
Once back at the station, Detective Meadows escorted me to the room where she'd questioned me, and then left me alone. I assumed she'd gone to read the report from Doctor Fellows, and check through Seth's statement.
My eyes stung, and I had to physically keep myself from curling up on the sofa to sleep.
I must have dozed off sitting upright, because the sound of the door opening startled me awake, and I jerked upright.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you," Detective Meadows said as she crossed the room to me. She smiled softly and then sat down next to me. "The results of your medical exam show that you weren't sexually assaulted. Your blood and urine sample confirm you had Flunitrazepam, also known as Rohypnol, the most common form of date rape drugs, in your system. The doctor's report also said you have bruising on your upper arms and wrists, which matches what you told us in your statement. In addition, Mr. Marshall's statement confirms what you told us about him bringing you to his home, and as you weren't sexually assaulted, we have no further questions for him."
I let out a breath. "Okay."
"We will now begin an investigation to identify the men who drugged you. If we're lucky enough to catch them with you on any of the security footage in and around the night club, then that evidence, along with the medical results and the statements from yourself and Mr. Marshall will be enough to make a conviction."
Tears leaked down my cheeks. "Thank you."
Detective Meadows smiled. "You showed remarkable courage today. Not enough women in your position come forwards like you have. We'll do everything in our power to catch the men who drugged you."
"What happens if you do? Will I need to go to court and give evidence?"
"We'll see when the time comes. But we will contact you if that happens, and guide you through the process."
My chest tightened at the thought. If I did go to court, I'd have to relive the whole thing again, but it would be worth it to ensure the guys who'd done this were prevented from ever doing it to someone else.
Once again, I thanked whatever force was out there that Seth had shown up when he had, and the situation hadn't been a hundred times worse.
"You're now free to leave. I advise getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water and not to drive for another twelve hours."
Detective Meadows stood up, and I did the same. I followed her across the room to the door, and as I stepped through it, I saw Seth sitting in the waiting room, his face looked ashen.
When he saw me, he sprang to his feet, and I rushed to him.
"I'm so sorry." My words came out as a sob.
Seth cupped my cheeks, and titled my head up so our eyes met. "You have nothing to be sorry for. I'm just glad you're okay."
"Thank you for everything."
Together we left the police station and headed back to his car.
"I'll take you home," he said, as he unlocked the SUV.
"Fuck. My bag. I've lost my keys. I'm going to have to call a locksmith, and I haven't got any money on me."
"It's okay. I'll sort everything out. Do you want to come back to mine? You can have something to eat, and then I'll call the locksmith."
"Are you sure? You've got to be in work later, and-"
"I've already called them, I'm not coming in today. I told you, making sure you're okay is more important."
I stared at him, my mouth gaping open. "I don't know what to say."
"Then don't say anything." Seth opened the passenger side door for me, and I climbed in. Then he got in the driver's side and started up the engine.