I enter Harold's in the hope of finding Toadie. And there he is, having coffee with Paige. I cross to them.
“Oh, speak of the devil!” Paige says as I approach. “We were just talking about you!”
I kiss her & as I sit down, she frowns at me.
“What's wrong?” She asks. “You look worried.”
“Did you know?” I ask Toadie.
“Know what?” He asks.
“Did you know Erin would do what she just did?”
Toadie & Paige frown.
“You're going to have to be more specific,” Toadie says.
“She just walked into the station, freaked out that I was there… & when Sarge walked up, she begged him to send me away.”
“That's as weird as when she got the text when she was with me & Piper in our hotel room,” Paige replies.
“You haven't heard the worst part.”
Paige takes my hand. “What is it?”
“Sarge,” I reply. I fight my emotions. “He arrested her.”
“ What? ” Paige & Toadie both say.
“Neither of them would explain it,” I reply. “Erin… When she was begging Sarge to get me to go, she threatened that if he didn't make me leave, then… Then the deal would be off.” I look at Toadie. “I want to make sure that you didn't know about it.”
Toadie shakes his head. “She hasn't consulted me about it,” he replies. “And if she had, you know I would have urged her not to go through with it. And I definitely wouldn't keep it from you.”
I nod, sighing. “Thought so.”
“What's with the glum faces?” Aaron asks.
I look at him, seeing Felicity in his arms.
“Erin’s handed herself in,” Paige replies.
“Mark says she walked into the station, freaked out that he was there, & it sounds like she made a deal with Sarge.”
Aaron sighs, closing his eyes. “No wonder she called me & asked me to pick Felicity up,” he says. “She was obviously trying to distract us all.”
I stand & head for the door. I hear Paige & Toadie stand too.
“Where are you going?” Paige asks.
“To find out what's going on in my sister's head,” I reply, pulling the door open.
I walk out, heading for the police station. Paige catches up to me, stepping in front of me so I have to stop suddenly. I sigh in annoyance.
“I get that you're looking for answers,” She says. “But the fact that Erin didn't want you there when she was being arrested is a sign that you should give her some space right now.”
“Why would I give her space when she's just handed herself in for something she didn't do?”
“She's been through a lot. And whatever that text was… It's triggered something in her mind,” She says. “You're worried & I get why, but… You look like you're going to yell at her, & right now, that's the last thing she needs. So do what's best & just leave her alone.”
I clench my jaw. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
"Mark," She pleads as I step around her.
I keep going, pausing for a second to pull open the station’s front door, & step inside.
Aaron & I exit the station & cross to Mark & Paige who are waiting at the statue. Mark is pacing & Paige is sitting down, holding Felicity. She gets to her feet as we approach.
“We couldn't get in,” I say.
Mark clenches his jaw.
“It sounds like she's requested that none of us are granted access to her cell,” Aaron says.
Mark sighs & then runs his hand over his face. “What does she expect us to do?”
“Do what I suggested earlier & give her space,” Paige replies.
“And leave her vulnerable to Sarge? No way!”
“She's scared, & the last thing she needs is her big brother who she admires so much going in there & getting mad at her,” Paige replies. “You want answers, but you need to look at it from her side.”
Toadie walks over. "Hey, any luck seeing Erin?”
“Sarge won't let me in, while Aaron & Tyler have been denied access to the holding cells,” Mark replies.
“Well, there's another way we can find out what's going on.”
“Anything is good right now,” Mark replies.
A male officer comes to the door of my holding cell, looking through the bars in the small window in it at me.
“You’ve been in here an hour & you’ve got a fourth visitor,” he says. “That has to be a record.”
“Which one of my annoying brothers is it this time?”
“Okay, I'm just going to cut to the chase so I don't have to listen to you guessing,” he replies. “It's your lawyer.”
I raise my eyebrow. “Interesting.”
“You want to see him, or should I blacklist him too?”
I sigh. “No, let him in.”
He nods, before walking off. He returns a few minutes later, opening the door. Toadie walks in & smiles. He doesn't say anything until the door closes & the officer steps away.
“Let me guess, it was your idea for you to come,” I say.
“Why do you say that?”
“Because all three of my brothers have tried to see me, & I just don't think that they would come up with the idea to send you in. They’d want to hear the truth from me.”
“They're worried about you.”
“Tell them I’m fine.”
“All three of them are outside right now,” he says. “Felicity's asking for you. Aaron’s trying to figure out a way of explaining to Felicity why her mum isn't with her for the second evening in a row. Tyler's trying to figure out why you would do this, & Mark? Do I really need to explain what he's like?”
I don't reply.
“You saw the look of devastation when he saw you being arrested.”
“That's why I didn't want him there,” I reply, fighting back tears. “I knew he'd feel like it was a betrayal. And that's what I did. I betrayed him.”
“And you know what's hurting more than that?” He asks. “The fact that he wants to help you, to be your support, & you’ve got him sitting in the sidelines. He's losing his mind.”
“And yet no one’s considering that I’m losing my mind!”
“That's what they're worried about,” he says. “They want to know what you're thinking. Why hand yourself in, when only two hours earlier you promised Mark that you would let him be your support while you fight?”
I fight back tears. “I can't say.”
“Why are you refusing our help?”
“Because I don't want it.”
While we’re waiting for Toadie to come back out, Mark paces again. I see Piper come round the corner of the hotel. I stand & walk over to her, giving her a hug.
“Hey, what's going on?” She asks.
“Uhhh… Erin handed herself in.”
She looks shocked. “Seriously?”
I nod. “And now she's refusing to talk to Mark, Aaron & me. Toadie's in there now… & given how long he's been gone, I think he's been successful in getting through to see her.”
“Oh my god, I’m sorry, Ty,” she replies, pulling me in as she stands on her tiptoes & hugs me.
I wrap my arms around her, holding her tight, burying my face into the nape of her neck.
“We don't know what to do,” I mumble against her skin.
“You just got to keep being there for her.”
I pull back & sigh. “She's shutting us out.”
“She knows that you're here for her,” she replies, holding my arms. “That's a start.”
I nod. “I just wish she'd let us know why she's doing this.”
“You didn't see what happened when he had us,” she replies. “He was terrifying. She's traumatised. More than I am, because she saw him die. She was the last person to see him alive. That's going to take its toll on her.”
“And pushing us away?”
"Mark's taking this the hardest.”
“They're close, right? Him & Erin.”
I nod. “Aaron & I are either side of her, in terms of age. But… She's always been closest with Mark.”
“Makes sense that he's taking this hard. She's throwing her life away over something she didn't do. And he's helpless.”
I frown. “When did you get so wise?”
“I’m just not as emotionally invested in this as you are.”
“Can you use that same smartness to get in to see Erin & talk her out of this?”
“She's in shock. Give her some time. And then talk to her, when you have a better chance of her seeing things clearly.”
I smirk. She tilts her head as she narrows her eyes.
“It's just… You sounded a lot like Paige just then,” I reply. “She's been talking Mark out of barging in there ever since she was arrested.”
“Good on him for listening to her.”
"If it keeps going, he'll eventually ignore her & go in.”
“I’m going to tell them,” Toadie says.
“No you won't,” I reply. “What’s said between us is covered by client-attorney privilege. Legally you can't tell them."
“They need to know.”
I shake my head. “No.”
“So why tell me then?”
“Because I need you to keep them safe.”
He frowns. “Safe?”
“I don't want them getting caught up in this,” I reply. “I’m going down, & the less they know, the better.”
“And what about Felicity? You're the only parent she has.”
“There's no other way.”
“No, you're wrong, Erin,” he says. “You have another way. It's called fighting.”
The door opens, & the male officer steps into the doorway. “Time’s up.”
"We're not done,” Toadie says.
“Sarge’s orders,” the officer says.
Toadie sighs. "Alright." He looks at me. "I want you to think hard about what we've discussed.”
“I will,” I reply. “Doesn't mean I’ll do what you want me to.”
“Don't do something you can't undo, Erin.”
We’re allowed to wait inside the station for Toadie. He finally emerges from the holding cells just after dusk.
“Toadie,” I say.
“How is she?”
He sighs. "Stubborn," he replies. “But okay.”
“I just wish I could go talk to her.”
“Normally I would agree & try to help, but…”
I frown. “But what?”
“It's like talking to a brick wall,” he explains. “I know she's listening, but… She's ignoring it. Sticking to whatever weird plan she's talked herself in to.”
“Why do you say that?” Tyler asks, as he, Az, Paige & Piper step over to us.
“She told me why she's handed herself in.”
We all look shocked.
“And?” I ask. “Why did she?”
“That's the problem. Or part of it,” he replies. “Because I got in by saying I’m her lawyer… She's using that to… Basically blackmailing me into not passing it on to you.”
“Client-attorney privilege,” Piper says.
Toadie nods. “But the motive isn't what troubles me. It's the fact she said she only told me so I would keep you all safe.”
I stare at the tray of food the officer brought me after Toadie had left. I'm not hungry.
But the knife catches my eye.
Yes, the knife.
I pick it up.
It's sharper than you’d expect a knife given to someone in my position to be.
There's a third way out of this…
“Safe?” I ask, brow furrowed. “From what?”
“She was vague when I asked her that,” Toadie says. “But it seems like she fears that you’ll all be prosecuted if she does whatever she has planned.”
I sigh, trying to figure out what she's doing. I see a male officer exit the holding cells area, carrying an empty food tray.
“Hey,” I say to him. “Did Erin Brennan get one of those?”
He nods. “I gave her one a few minutes ago.”
“Was there cutlery?”
“Specifically a knife?”
“I… Uh… I think so.”
“I… I don't know,” he replies. “I give them the tray. I don't pay attention to the details.”
“ Shit ,” I mutter.
"Mark?" Paige asks.
“Get me in there,” I tell the officer.
“ I don't care !” I bark. “Get me in there. Now .”
He looks terrified. He nods repeatedly. He puts the tray down & leads me down the corridor to the holding cells. He unlocks the security door, leading me to Erin’s door. I notice the window in the door is covered over.
“Did you do that?” I ask, pointing to the window.
He shakes his head. “It was open when I left.”
My gut instinct screams that something isn't right. “Get it open.”
I wait impatiently as he unlocks her door- fumbling to get the key in the lock.
Finally he opens it & I pull it open. I step inside, pausing for a second in shock at what I see.
“Erin!” I exclaim.
I rush over, kneeling down beside her. She's lying on her left side, facing the door, legs half tucked up as if they’d been pulled up if she was sitting. She's shaking as she struggles to breathe, arms stretched out in an odd way. But what's really alarming are the two long cuts on the inside of her forearms- the knife lying in the pool of blood between her arms.
“Go call an ambulance!” I shout at the officer.
He runs off. I turn my attention back to her.
“Stay with me, Erin,” I tell her. “Stay with me.”
“I… I'm sorry,” she whispers.
She then passes out.