Alice and her dad crept up to the campsite where Adam had called from. They didn’t know what the boy’s words had meant. Alice hoped against hope that Adam was innocent in all this but she was beginning to wonder.
Peering through the foliage, an awful sight greeted them. Luke was sprawled face down on the ground with a huge wound at the back of his skull. From where they were, Alice and Sam could not discern whether Luke was breathing. There was no sign of Adam.
Before Sam could stop her, Alice rushed into the clearing. She kneeled down beside Luke and checked for breath. It was shallow but steady. She checked his pulse and was reassured that he was indeed, stable. The wound was messy but apparently his hard headedness had other benefits than just driving her crazy. Alice arose and looked around.
From behind a fat pine tree, Adam stepped out. He was covered with blood. “Adam, are you okay?” Alice asked. The boy nodded an affirmative. Looking off to his left he said to someone else, “it’s okay. It’s Alice. We can trust her.” A woman emerged from the woods to stand beside Adam. “Alice, I’m sorry but Luke tried to tie her up. I had to hurt him to stop him from hurting my mother.” Adam’s voice was trembling.
Alice spoke to the woman. “I’m trying to help your son. This isn’t the way to go about it.”
The woman replied in a flat voice, “there’s no hope. His father will get him back because he has all the money. He always wins.” She sat down suddenly and buried her head in her arms. Adam dropped down and put his arms around her.
Alice approached them cautiously but steadily. She sat down across from the pair. “Adam, you have to help me here. You’re the key to getting your mother some help and keeping you safe. You’re old enough now to say what has happened and who has done it. I made arrangements for you to go someplace safe, and I’m sure your mother can come with you.” Alice wondered where she had been all this time, but now was not the time to ask.
The woman shook her head “no” and appeared to shrink within herself. “I’m not going back. If I do, it will hurt Adam.” She turned to her son, “Adam, you need to go with this lady and make a new life for yourself. If your dad can get to me, he will control you. I will never be far away, and if you really need to see me, I’ll arrange it. But I have to stay away from you in order to protect you.”
To Alice she said, “in the safe deposit box at Merchant’s Trust, Number 237, is a medical file. It shows all of the abuses Adam has suffered at the hands of his father over the years. Adam knows where the key is hidden.”
Alice asked, “why haven’t you come forward before? Why can’t you come forward now? We have laws that protect women and children from abuse!”
The woman shook her head. She turned to Adam and with a tenellous gesture, smoothed the hair on the back of his head. “I have to go Adam. She needs to call for some help for that man.” And with that statement, she began walking back into the woods.
Three days later Alice was in a courtroom as a witness. She listened as Adam’s father, Trent Tradoch, talked about the boy’s mental instability. “He wanders nubivagantly, occasionally talking to himself, and occasionally causing himself injury. That’s all those injuries are – nothing more. As for this story about his mother, it’s all a fairy tale. She has never been interested in him. My son is seriously ill, and no one but me knows how to deal with him.” The man sounded as if his heart was breaking, but Alice didn’t know what to think.
The District Attorney asked for more time for the court to assess Adam and the judge granted it. In the meantime, Adam was to stay in protective custody with Ben Carmody’s family.
That evening, back at the farm, Alice and Luke sat on the front step watching the sun set and talking about Adam. The bandage on Luke's head was a reminder to Alice that this was more than just an interesting story. It was real and had happened in her life. “The trouble is, I don’t know what to believe,” Alice said. Luke agreed, “yeah, until the rock hit my head I thought he was just a young kid needing help. Now I wonder whether there’s something more going on with him. Alice, why didn’t the DA introduce those medical records we found in the safety deposit box?”
She shook her head, “I don’t know. For some reason he thinks they’re not utible in court. There’s more to this than either one of us can fathom.”
Luke smiled at her, “well, at least it got us talking again, and you don’t seem very mad at me anymore.”
Alice smiled back, “Luke, I’m going to have a hard time trusting you after what you’ve put me through, but seeing you lying on the ground like that, and thinking you were dead…” her voice trailed off.
Luke whispered, “you wanted to come and give me mouth to mouth, right?”
Alice snorted, “no, more like CPR so I could pound on your chest and call it medical attention!”