Alissa sat at her desk feeling very dejected. The baby was moving around, probably sensing her stress. She gently rubbed her belly and said, “Mommy’s sorry little one. Everything is going to be okay.”
She took deep, calming breaths and then started back concentrating on the computer screen. Her cellphone rang. She was surprised to see that it was Aria.
“Alissa, I’m having little nagging pains in my abdomen. Is that normal?”
Alissa wondered why Aria was asking her and not someone else. “Well, you are close to your due date. It might be normal, or it could be early labor. Why don’t you call your doctor?”
“I did and they told me to keep an eye on the cramps and let them know if they worsen.”
“That sounds like good advice.”
“Alissa, I’m scared to be alone right now. What if it does get worse? You and Dale are my only friends here in this country. I could call Dale, and I know that he would come. But you’ve had three children. So I thought that it would be better if you come.”
How could Alissa refuse? She didn’t want Dale spending any more time with Aria than he had to. She would also feel guilty if she refused and something happened to Aria.
“Alright. I’ll be right there Aria.”
This was Alissa’s first time at Aria’s place. She had asked Dale if he had been there and he told her no. She remembered their conversation. “Alissa what can I do to make this easier for you?”
“I don’t know Dale. I don’t think that there is anything that you can do.”
Even though Alissa hadn’t told him so, he knew that it would upset her if he spent a lot of time alone with Aria. “I promise that I will not spend any more time with Aria than I need to spend with her. Please believe me, Sweetheart. I don’t want Aria. I love you!” He was constantly trying to reassure her of his feelings.
Dale was doing an operation at the hospital, and so Alissa on impulse left a message on his voicemail telling him that she was leaving work and going to Aria’s house.
Crystal was back home in Bridgeport and packing the rest of her things for her move to the city where she was starting her new job. She was thinking about the Aria situation, when it suddenly came clear to her what was at the back of her mind. She called Dale.
“Dale, I just thought of another reason why Aria might not want the paternity test. It’s way out there, but I think that she is just psycho enough that it’s a possibility to consider. Have you spoken with her doctor or seen an ultrasound yet?”
“No, I offered but she said that she would prefer to go to her appointments alone. Why?”
Crystal told him what she was thinking.
As Alissa walked up to the door, Aria opened it. “Thank you so much for coming, Alissa. I know you’re probably used to all of this by now, but this is my first baby. I know I’m probably being silly!”
“It’s okay, Aria. I understand.” Aria was alone in a country that must be very different from her own, and so Alissa felt a little bit of empathy for her.
Alissa looked around her. The house was nicely decorated with a few personal touches added. Aria had rented it furnished.
“Have you decided if you’re going to remain here or go back to Egypt after the baby is born?”
“That is a question that Dale and I will decide together.”
Alissa frowned, but she didn’t press it. As they stood there, Alissa looked into Aria’s strangely colored eyes.
The look in Aria’s eyes made Alissa feel like running out of the house screaming. She suddenly sensed an evilness that poured out of Aria.
Aria broke the moment. “Can you excuse me? I think the baby loves to sit on my bladder.” She went into the bathroom.
Without a word, Alissa went out the front door.
After she was outside, she felt guilty and a little silly. What if Aria really was in labor?
Alissa went back inside the house and to the bathroom door. “Are you okay, Aria?”
“Yes. I’ll be right out!”
Aria came out of the bathroom and said, “Thank you so much, Alissa.” Aria moved to hug her, and Alissa automatically reacted.
“Let me go!” She knew instinctively that something wasn’t right! “I’m leaving now!”
“You’re not going anywhere.” Aria pulled out a knife.
Somehow in their struggle, Alissa lost her balance and fell on the floor. Aria jumped on top of Alissa’s body and slammed Alissa’s head hard, over and over again on the floor.
Alissa thought to herself, “Someone please help me!”
As she was starting to lose consciousness, her life flashed like a slideshow before her eyes. She thought of her children and Dale. She thought of her father and Crystal. Then as she thought of her unborn child, she had a warm feeling inside and a voice inside her said, “GET UP!”
Alissa’s adrenaline kicked in, and she threw Aria off of her! Alissa went nuts, fighting back for her baby and her family!
She told herself, “I’m not dying!”
They continued to fight and Alissa gained the upper hand. She threw Aria to the floor. Then she grabbed a vase as a weapon and hit Aria over the head with it.
As she looked down at Aria she thought to herself, “What have I done!”
She rushed to open the door, but it was stuck. As she yanked on the door handle, Alissa heard Aria suddenly behind her and turned quickly around.
Aria lunged at Alissa with the knife.
Her face was filled with madness and determination.
Alissa thinking of her baby’s safety grabbed the knife’s blade.
It cut deeply into her hand. It was only there for seconds, but it felt like hours. She finally knocked the knife out of Aria’s hand.
Alissa quickly grabbed the knife from the floor. She couldn’t bring herself to stab Aria in the belly and so instead she plunged the knife into Aria’s shoulder.
“You stabbed me you Khawaga!”
Aria fell forward and the knife penetrated her chest.
Alissa forced the door open and ran outside. She felt utter relief and shock. She kept looking back as she ran. She finally reached the street and then she blacked out.
After his conversation with Crystal, Dale was very disturbed. He began to wonder if Crystal was right about Aria. Crystal had said that Aria might not be really pregnant at all!
Dale’s cellphone rang again, and he grabbed it. It was an unidentified caller. He didn’t recognize the male voice. “Dale, Alissa is in danger. You have to keep Aria Massri away from her. She is not what she seems!”
Then the caller hung up. Two warnings about Aria in one afternoon. Dale didn’t have to be hit over the head! He’d rather they were wrong than take a chance with Alissa’s life that they were right.
He tried to call Alissa, and there was no answer on her cellphone. He called her office and they said that Alissa had left over an hour before. Dale listened to his messages and heard the one from Alissa saying that she was going to Aria’s. He quickly left his office and headed for Aria’s home.
When Dale arrived on Aria’s street, there were people gathered on the side of the road. Instinctively, he rushed over to them. Two people were kneeling on the ground beside a body. Dale’s breath stopped. It was Alissa!
One of the people standing around told him that an ambulance was on the way.
Dale knelt beside Alissa. Then he pulled her into his arms and saw how badly she was bleeding. Alissa hadn’t known it but Aria’s knife had severed an artery in her hand. She was almost lifeless.
He hugged her tightly. “Alissa please! Don’t give up! You have to keep fighting!” Dale had tears in his eyes. As he plead with her, the ambulance and the police arrived.
Robert received the call from Dale. Dale told him what had happened to Alissa. Robert sensed that Dale needed him there for support. Usually Dale was the strong one, but this time he was going to pieces. He told Dale that he would catch the next flight out to Mesa Valley.
Robert quickly told Valerie about Dale’s phone call.
A cruel smile came to Valerie’s face. “Good. I hope that “Bitch” dies. She’s finally getting what she deserves.”
Robert stared at her in complete shock. “I’m going to Mesa Valley and be there with the children and Dale.”
He started to walk away, but Valerie called to him. “I won’t be here when you get back. I’m moving in with Lars.”
Robert didn’t say anything. For months she had been denying having an affair. Her personality had completely changed. She had refused to go for counseling. Robert wasn’t even sad that she was leaving. He felt relief. He went upstairs and packed a suitcase.
Crystal hadn’t expected to return to Mesa Valley so soon. She refused to believe that her big sister was going to die.
This time Miki was with her. Miki sat beside Dale, trying to be encouraging. Alissa was still in surgery.
Worried and anxious himself, Matthew was hugging Sharlee as she sobbed brokenheartedly. She had been through so much lately.
Sharlee’s cellphone rang and Crystal answered it. It was Noah.
Crystal told him what had happened to Alissa and that she was still in surgery. He asked to speak with Sharlee. “Sharlee, little girl, Noah wants to speak with you.”
Sharlee tried to compose herself and took the phone. She went around the corner for more privacy. “Hello Noah.”
Sharlee couldn’t hold in the tears. Noah’s heart broke for her as he heard her sobs.
“Sharlee I’m so sorry about your mother.”
“She’s still in surgery. I don’t know what I’ll do if my Mom dies. I just couldn’t bear it.”
“I’m sorry that I’m not there with you, but your mother is a strong woman. I know she’s fighting to make it through.”
“I hope so. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’m just worried about you.” It crossed Noah’s mind to escape and be with Sharlee, but he knew that he’d better not do it. He’d end up in more trouble and that would add even more stress on Sharlee.
“I feel better now that I’ve talked with you.”
Noah heard the recorded warning that his time was up.
“Babe, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to go now.”
“Okay. I love you and I miss you.”
“I love you too Sharlee.”
His call was disconnected.
Robert arrived at the emergency room and went over to Dale. “Any news?”
Dale’s voice was very strained as he answered. “No, she’s still in surgery. She’s lost a lot of blood.”
Robert wrapped his arms around Dale. At first Dale was stiff. Then he relaxed and hugged his father back. “I’m sure she’s going to be fine son. She knows how much you all need her. Tell me how it happened.”
They sat down off to themselves and Dale told his father everything. “Once again it’s my fault. Another psycho that I brought into our lives, and Alissa has to pay the price. I’m wondering if she would have been better off if I hadn’t come back!”
“Dale, don’t ever think that again. There was a hole in all of our lives without you. Even more so in Alissa’s. She was glowing with happiness again after you returned. I know that she will never have the thought that she wishes that you had not returned. She needed you and the children needed you.”
“What about Alex? They had him.”
“Yes, they had him, but he’s not you Dale. They are and always have been your family, not his. You can’t let this guilt eat away at you. You have to forgive yourself. Alissa would never blame you.”
“All I can say is that I’ll try. Where is Mom?”
“She couldn’t make it.” Robert didn’t think that this was the time to tell him about their separation.
Cara called her Dad on his cellphone. She and Shawn were with George and Leslie.
“Daddy, is Mom okay?”
Dale almost broke down in tears.
Robert took the phone. “Hi Peanut, this is Grandpa. Your Mom is still in surgery, but I’m sure that she’s going to be fine.”
The doctor came in and walked over to Dale. “Dale we had to do an emergency C-Section, but we were able to save the baby. She was far enough along, and she’s breathing on her own. She’s doing well. You can see her whenever you’d like.”
“She’s stable for now but she’s still in intensive care. We induced coma to give her body a chance to recover.”
“Can I see her?”
“Yes. It might also be good to let the children see her too. I’m sorry Dale, but she might not pull through.”