Kendall trailed behind Josh, turning to look back over her shoulder every few minutes. "He'll be back, Kendall. You'll see. He has too much to come back to." She nodded, but wasn't convinced. "But what if the choice isn't his?" she said sadly. "Zach Slater is nobody's victim," Josh stated emphatically. "You know that better than I do. He'll be fine." Kendall nodded again, trying to take comfort in her brother's words. She knew he was right. Zach wasn't a victim. He was too smart for that. But it didn't keep her from worrying about him.
"If you really want to worry about somebody, be afraid for those two old men. They're the ones in danger," Josh said with a smirk. "I hope he kills them both." Kendall immediately regretted her words. She looked at her brother, an apology on her lips, but he waved her off. "Forget it," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He grabbed her hand and tried to quicken their pace. He needed to get Kendall to safety before anybody caught up to them.
Kendall smiled when they broke through the tree line that opened out onto the beach where she and Zach had spent their first weeks of captivity. Of course, they hadn't realized at the time that they were captives, so the time they spent together would always be a cherished memory for her. She threw her head back and took a long, deep breath. In a strange way, she already felt like she was home. And she already felt the absence of Zach. As she took in the campsite, she felt the ache in her start to spread.
Josh watched as she walked over to the makeshift tent and picked up something off the ground. She hugged it to her as if it was a precious heirloom. She shook it out and then slipped it over her head. When he got closer, he could see that it was a red t-shirt. One that he had seen his brother-in-law wear many, many times. He pulled his teary-eyed sister into his arms and hugged her as tightly as her swollen belly would allow. He started to pull away from her, but hesitated, his lips hovering near her ear.
"Are you okay, Kendall?" he asked calmly. "No more pains?" She tried to pull away from him so she could see his face, but he wouldn't let her. "Yes, Josh. I'm fine. The pains have stopped." Again she tried to pull away and again he held her fast. "Why?" she asked. Something was wrong. She could feel the tension in him. "Can you run, or do you need me to carry you?" "No, I can-" "Run!" Josh screamed as he stepped away from her. He pulled her along behind him as they ran back to the cover of the trees.
Kendall screamed when shots rang out and she heard a bullet hit its mark just a couple of feet from her. Josh dragged her behind a large tree and placed his hand over her mouth. "Shhh," he whispered into her ear. "Don't make a sound." She barely nodded and he let her go. He took a few steps away from her, trying to find the enemy in the dense foliage, then he suddenly rushed back to her and pulled her to the ground, rolling them underneath a large, leafy bush. They both held their breath as they watched two pair of feet walk right past them. Josh looked up to see two armed guards walking away from them. He waited until they were out of sight before speaking.
"Okay, here's what we're gonna do. I have a boat anchored just around that bend," he said pointing in the opposite direction of the guards. "If we can make it to that biggest rock over there, we'll be home free. Can you make it?" "I can make it," Kendall said breathlessly. "Just say when." Josh took one last look over his shoulder before helping Kendall to her feet. "Stay along the tree line as long as you can. We'll be safer there. But once we have to cross the beach, run like hell. Okay?" "I will." "And Kendall, if something happens to me, you just keep running. You'll see the yacht as soon as you get past those rocks. There's a rowboat tied to a tree. Take it and get to that yacht. No matter what. Do you hear me?" She nodded again. "You're coming with me, aren't you?" she asked. "Right behind you," he replied. "When!"
On his command, Kendall put one hand on her stomach for support and ran as fast as she could toward the boulder Josh had pointed out. She couldn't hear anything but the sound of her own heart beating. She wanted to make sure Josh was behind her, but when she slowed to look he yelled at her to keep going. They stayed hidden among the trees for as long as they could, but eventually had to leave the safety of their cover. Kendall had never felt as vulnerable as she did running across the sand to that rock. She scurried around it and pressed herself against the other side while she waited for Josh to join her. He was only seconds behind her. He gave her a quick hug and then helped her get settled into the small boat that would carry them to the safety of the yacht.
"We made it ... at last!" Kendall said when they were underway. She couldn't understand why Josh was laughing at first, but it all became clear as they got farther from shore and closer to the waiting yacht. There, looking like a gift from heaven, was the At Last. After all she and Zach had been through, to see this piece of home was more than she could handle. She burst into tears. She knew she couldn't stop them, so she didn't even try. Neither did Josh. He just loaned her his shoulder and tried to be patient. By the time they were ready to board, Kendall was all cried out. Or so she thought.As soon as she stepped aboard she was greeted by the captain. The same captain who was present on the happiest day of her life: her wedding day. "Very good to see you again, Mrs. Slater," he said as he offered her his arm. Kendall, seeing how tired he looked, began to realize just how many people had been looking for them for all those weeks. She was touched by his loyalty and his concern. Once again, she burst into tears. Josh rescued the captain by giving him orders to contact the Coast Guard and the Pine Valley Police Department as soon as possible. Then Josh led Kendall to the sitting room below deck. After getting her settled, he went back on deck to fill in the details for the tired and overworked crew.
"Fire!" Kendall sprang to her feet at the sound of the crew running over her head. After several minutes of nervous pacing, she had just forced herself to sit down and rest when she heard the commotion. "Did he say..?" she began, but it was too awful to repeat. She was just about to go above deck when the door flew open and Josh ran inside. "Is there a fire?" she asked breathlessly. She tried to push her way past him, suddenly needing to feel the wind on her face. He let her go, falling in line behind her.
"Yes," he said, "but not on the boat. We're safe, Kendall." He waited for his words to register. She turned to him and he could see the panic in her eyes. "We're safe," he repeated. He pointed to a spot on the horizon where black smoke was wafting above the trees. "Oh my God," Kendall screamed. "Zach!" She ran to the rail and even considered jumping overboard. She needed to get to Zach. She was still trying to decide if she could make it to shore when she felt a hand on her arm.
"Don't even think about it," Josh said. She turned to glare at him, but he was undaunted. "I mean it, Kendall. Don't force me to lock you below deck. I'm heading back to the island, but you can't go with me. Zach would take my head off and you know it." "Lock me in .. I'd like to see you try!" Kendall yelled. "He's my husband, Josh. He needs me and I'm going. You can't stop me and you're just wasting precious time trying." Josh tightened his grip on her arm and sighed dramatically. "Dammit, Kendall! Okay, but you'll have to wait on the beach. Do we have a deal?" Kendall nodded. "Deal. Now let's go."
Josh disappeared into the jungle with most of the At Last's crew, leaving Kendall all alone on the beach. She could see the billowing black smoke in the distance and she knew it was coming from Dr. Madden's compound. The urge to follow Josh was almost too strong to deny. So what if she'd made him a promise? She made promises to Zach, too. Vows. And those were more important than anything else. She was just about to step into the darkness of the jungle when she heard the sirens.
Within seconds she was surrounded by Coast Guard vessels, the noise from their sirens drowned out by the sounds of the helicopters circling overhead. She felt her knees buckle, but resisted the urge to sink to the ground. Instead she immediately began giving orders to the authorities as they flooded the beach. Upon seeing a face she recognized in the crowd, Kendall ran to meet him. "Otto!" she cried as she took in the small group of men behind him. "Thank God you're here. See that smoke? That's where Zach is. Please go get him, Otto. All of you. Do whatever you have to do, just help him." Without a word, the men walked purposefully into the jungle, ignoring the protests of the officials who were combing the scene.
After what seemed like an eternity, people started pouring onto the beach. Kendall watched them, straining to find Zach. She noticed Josh and Whitney leading a group of pregnant women and nurses carrying newborns to safety. She smiled briefly when she saw that Whitney was carrying a baby. She could tell by the loving way she carried the child that it was her own baby. Kendall ran to her brother and begged him to tell her that Zach was okay.
"I don't know, Kendall. He wouldn't leave until he knew the hospital was empty. He was fine when I left him." Kendall scanned the faces of those still emerging form the jungle, hoping to find her husband. She took some comfort in the fact that none of his men were around either. She knew each of them would protect Zach with their lives. So wherever he was, he had plenty of help. Her attention was diverted when she heard someone call her name. She turned at the sound and let out a scream when she saw who it was. There, standing on the beach a few feet away from her, was Erica. And she wasn't alone. She was holding Kendall's son in her arms.
"Spike!" Kendall cried as she ran to throw her arms around her family. Her tears mingled with those of her mother's as they clung to each other. They finally pulled apart when Spike demanded his mother's attention by jumping from Erica's arms into hers. Kendall kissed him over and over again while he rubbed her face and laughed. "Da-da," Spike sputtered, which made Kendall laugh. She looked down at the Red Wings shirt she was wearing. "That's right, Spikey. This is daddy's shirt." She hugged him to her again, desperate to feel his soft skin against her, but he wasn't having it. "Da-da," he repeated as he tried to climb out of her arms. Kendall finally realized he was looking beyond her and she turned to see what held his attention.
That's when she saw him. Zach. He was standing in the clearing, watching their tearful reunion. He was surrounded by his men, all of whom were covered with soot and ash. His hair was wild and his beard was full. And there were tears in his eyes. Kendall thought he had never looked better. She wanted to run to him, but her legs wouldn't cooperate. But it didn't matter. He was already halfway to her.
Erica and Josh stood aside and let Zach, Kendall and Spike have a private reunion. There weren't many words exchanged between them, but Erica could tell that Zach was the one doing the talking. And she could just imagine what he was saying by the tears that ran freely down Kendall's face. It struck Erica that she'd been a real fool where Zach was concerned. She felt almost guilty for the grief she had given them over the years and for any time she may have cost them together. She was on the verge of telling them just that when Josh read her mind. "Later," he mouthed as he took her hand and escorted her back to the yacht.
"What happened with your father?" Kendall asked much later. She and Zach were standing on the beach, alone in a crowd. He was holding Spike in one arm and the other was wrapped around Kendall. They still weren't ready to let each other out of arm's reach, but the tears had finally dried up. Now there was nothing but smiles. At least until Kendall mentioned Alexander. "He's dead," Zach said coldly. Kendall didn't know what to day. She knew Zach wasn't sad about his father's death, but congratulating him on it didn't seem right either. "Did you?" she began, but stopped when he started shaking his head. "No. I didn't do it. Madden got to him first." Kendall tightened her grip on his waist. She looked up at him, trying to gauge his reaction, but his face was characteristically stoic.
Without even looking at her, he knew what she was doing. "I'm okay, Kendall. My father has been dead to me for a very long time. I'm just glad I didn't have to kill him," he added in a whisper. He looked at her at last and Kendall could see the conflict. She knew without a doubt that he would have killed his father to protect his family. But it would have haunted him for the rest of his life. No matter what they had been through over the years, Alexander was still his father. Still the man whose blood flowed through Zach's veins. Killing him would have killed a part of Zach. She felt suddenly grateful that Greg Madden was still alive. At least he had been good for something.
"What about Dr. Madden?" Kendall asked. Zach lifted his chin in Otto's direction, but said nothing. "Zach?" Kendall warned. "Don't do anything you'll regret." He smiled down at her and couldn't resist the urge to kiss her. "I won't," he said, his lips hovering above hers. "So who started the fire?" Zach didn't kiss her, but he didn't move away either. He just stood there, staring into her eyes. Just when Kendall decided he hadn't heard her question, he answered her. "I did," he said. "How do you think we got Madden to come out of hiding?" Kendall's response was swallowed by Zach's lips as they met hers. Suddenly she didn't want to talk about Greg Madden anymore.
"He's a great uncle. And he'll be a fantastic father." Whitney blushed at Kendall's words, embarrassed by her lack of subtlety. Josh pretended not to hear Kendall, but there was a definite hint of color on his cheeks as well. He glanced at Whitney and found her watching him. He smiled at her, then rolled his eyes at Kendall. Zach watched the whole thing through Spike's hands, laughing as his son continued to pat his face. He wouldn't let Zach out of his sight. In fact, he cried if anyone besides Kendall tried to take him from his daddy's arms. But that was okay with Zach. He was content to spend the rest of his life holding on to this boy and his beautiful mom.
After answering a million questions, the Slaters were finally free to go. They took one last look at the place they'd called home for the last several weeks and entered the sanctuary of their yacht. While the authorities searched the island for clues, Zach's men followed the orders they'd been given. Then they climbed back into their helicopter and flew away, a little more crowded than when they came.
Zach stood on the deck and watched as the island grew smaller and smaller until it was nothing more than a spot on the horizon. He'd tricked his wife and son into taking a nap by lying down with them. But he was too restless to sleep, so he decided to go up on deck and get some air. He smiled as he passed the sitting room and heard Erica grilling Whitney. While all the other women and their babies had been carried to safety by the Coast Guard, Kendall insisted that Whitney and her new baby girl travel with them. There was no explanation made as to why the adoption hadn't happened, but it was obvious to everyone that it was no longer an option for the new mother.
Zach didn't turn when he heard someone come up behind him. He knew without looking who it was. There was so much to say to this man who had sacrificed everything to save his family. Zach had fallen into a habit of thanking God often for the family he'd been blessed with. But until recently, that prayer of thanksgiving had really only extended to Kendall and Spike and their unborn child. But the circle was widening. Now Zach knew he needed to include his wife's family as well. Even Erica, he thought. And especially Josh.Josh watched as a smile played at the corners of Zach's mouth. "What's so funny?" he asked. Zach turned to him and threw an arm around his shoulder. "Life, Josh. Life is funny." "Uh-huh," Josh said, giving his brother-in-law a knowing look. He could literally see the tension leaving Zach's body as they sailed off into the sunset. He rubbed a hand over his face, feeling the stubble, and wondered if he looked half as bad as Zach ... or if he'd ever been half as happy. Zach raised an eyebrow at Josh's sudden smile. "Something you want to say?" he asked. "Yep. I meant to mention it sooner," Josh replied, as he returned his gaze to the horizon. "About that reward..."