Never walk alone - 11. Chapter 11
Sensitive readers be warned.
I found this chapter very difficult and emotional to write. It contains a section dealing with kidnap, torture and sexual assault, and it's aftermath. I did not want to sensationalise the events, but at the same time, they are an integral part of the story. I hope I succeeded.
Andrew smiled, remembering that first time they had brought 'Belle Catherine ' home.
That had been almost two years ago. They had sailed through the harbour mouth many times thereafter and much had happened in those two years, most good but some bad.
The lodge was doing exceptionally well, with the new executive rooms and suites, and spa on the property, being just the boost that it needed to really prosper. The construction phase had indeed proved to be disruptive, with a resulting drop off in business - that winter had been particularly quiet - which had Andrew and Paul slightly concerned for a while, but by the end of the summer season, the lodge had bounced back and was busier than ever. The suites especially, had been a huge hit, particularly with the offered butler service and were very popular with tourists from the USA. Between Paul and Claude, who had proved themselves a formidable team, the lodge had built up an excellent reputation for good service.
Paul and Marie had welcomed their son, Jonathan, into the world just before the end of November of the year that Andrew and Ryan had been married and were trying for another one.
Claude had taken to Cape Town like a duck to water. He loved the city and he loved his job, but not as much as he loved Francois, a forty something French immigrant, who owned a popular hair salon in a mall, a short distance from the village. He still lived in the same two bedroom cottage and was a well known face about town.
The charter business was going well, but the start had not been an easy one. While they had many charters on the books, they had not been made to feel welcome by all of the charter community. The first signs of trouble occurred about two weeks after they had brought 'Belle Catherine' home.
They had returned from one of their pre winter mini cruises the day before and arrived at the yacht berth the following morning to find that the yacht had been vandalised. Porthole windows had been smashed, some of the solar panels were irreparably damaged, and the paintwork on the hulls had been defaced with homophobic graffiti. They were devastated when they saw the damage, with Andrew weeping bitterly. But then he got angry and vowed that they would not be intimidated or stopped.
They reported the incident to the police and the marina management, who promised to increase security patrols in the area, called their insurance company and cleaned up the mess. They had to cancel the final three day charters as a result, but the clients were very understanding and have since been back twice.
The portholes and solar panels were easily replaced, but the paintwork proved more problematic, and they had flown Steve down to give them an assessment. He and the insurance assessor had discussed the options and, against his advice, the insurance assessor decided to remove the graffiti instead of repainting the entire hull. Andrew was furious but went along with the idea eventually. It turned into a disaster when the company appointed by the insurers, removed the graffiti, but also removed the gel coat that protected the paint and gave the hull it's shine. The insurance company was brought in again, with Andrew threatening to take all of his business away from them if the damage was not repaired to his satisfaction.They eventually agreed that the hull would have to be repainted and arrangements were made to pull the yacht out of the water and repaint. Their penny pinching ended up costing them a great deal of money, and Andrew still pulled his business in protest at how they had been treated.
A few days before the yacht was due to be lifted from the water, a very severe storm blew in from the north-west. Ryan decided he wanted to go down and check that the yachts lines were secure in the strong wind. The wind was gusting and squalls of rain pelted down, making it really unpleasant out.
He left the apartment and an hour later when he had not returned, Andrew became concerned and tried Ryan's mobile which eventually just went to voice mail. He shrugged on a wet weather jacket, and leaving Rascal in the apartment, went downstairs to see if he could find Ryan, thinking their might be a problem with the yacht and that Ryan might need assistance.
He arrived at the yacht, taking note that she was secure and not swinging too much. They had dropped the protection screens, so Andrew could not see into the rear cockpit. Standing on the dock he called out to Ryan. There was no reply. Climbing on board, he had a look around but there was no sign that anyone had been aboard. Taking out his mobile, he dialled Ryan's phone and somewhere out on the dark dock, he heard it ring.
By now Andrew was beginning to panic. Every instinct screamed that something was wrong. He disconnected, left the yacht and walked a little way along the dock in the direction he thought the phone had been ringing and tried again. A mobile once again trilled in the darkness, closer this time. He walked towards the sound and saw the dim glow of the screen light ahead of him. Running forward, he reached the phone, laying partly wedged in a crack on the dock surface. There was no sign of Ryan!
He carefully walked the immediate area, using his mobile as a torch and went cold. Lying on the dock, was a toggle, just like those on Ryan's rainwear jacket. It had a piece of the jacket fabric attached to it as if it had been ripped off. Andrew was now convinced something had happened to Ryan.
Fighting to remain to calm, his insides churning, he dialed the marina security and reported his suspicions. Within minutes, two security guards arrived in a vehicle equipped with a searchlight and after speaking to Andrew and viewing the mobile and the toggle, began scanning the dock and the surrounding water. Andrew huddled on a bollard numb with cold and concern. Somewhere out there, he knew, Ryan was hurt and the thought made him fearful.
A harbour patrol boat arrived and it too began cruising up and down the basin, searchlight probing the darkness. It had started raining again, which did not make things easier. Andrew's hair was plastered to his head and face and the water was running down under the jacket, soaking his shirt, causing him to shiver.
One of the guards suggested he go back to the apartment to check if Ryan had not returned in the interim, and he reluctantly agreed, walking quickly back to the warm, dry apartment, hoping against hope that Ry would be there, but knowing in his heart that Ryan was out in the night somewhere.
He decided to stay in the apartment, sitting at the window, cuddling Rascal, who sensing something was wrong, was burrowed close to Andrew's chest. The searchlights continued to flash back and forth until it started getting light.
Andrew dozed in exhaustion, jerking awake when the doorbell chimed. He leapt up, his heart plummeted seeing a policeman at the door. He held his breath, expecting the worst.
"Mr Devlin, good morning sir. I have come to report that we have not found Mr Major. May I come in for a moment?"
Andrew stepped back and the policeman walked into the apartment, looking around.
"I am Sergeant Miller. We have opened an investigation into Mr Majors disappearance. I just need you to answer a few questions ".
He asked Andrew when last he saw Ryan, why had he gone out, what sort of mood was he in, did he have any reason to disappear without telling anyone, all of which Andrew answered, becoming more frustrated and angry by the second. Eventually he exploded.
"Listen carefully to me sergeant! Ryan left here to go and check on our yacht. And has not come back. Nearly twelve, fucking, hours ago. His mobile and a toggle, torn off his jacket that he was wearing, were found on the dock. There is no sign of him. To me it is obvious that something has happened to him. In fact, I know it. I feel it here!", thumping his fist against his chest. "He has absolutely no reason, to want to disappear. We were married in January, we are very happy, we have two very successful businesses. The only problems we have are with a certain element, here in the marina, who have ridiculed us, cast homophobic slurs, and damaged our yacht. I do not know for sure, but my gut tells me they have something to do with this. And my gut is very rarely wrong. Don't ask me how I know, I just do! Just like I know he is out there and needs help!"
The policeman then asked Andrew for details on the 'alleged' slurs and became more amicable when he had a look at the insurance report with regard to the damage to the yacht.. He made note of all the details including the police case number that had been opened and left, leaving Andrew staring numbly at the door.
A squirming Rascal, wanting to be fed, brought him out of his reverie, and he fed the puppy like a robot. He went and sat on the couch staring down at 'Belle Catherine'. He picked up his mobile and dialed Paul.
"Paul, help me", he croaked and started sobbing.
"Drew! What is going on? What's wrong?" All he could hear was wracking sobs with no reply.
"I'm om my way. Are you at the apartment?" still no reply "Fuck! Okay I' m leaving for the apartment now".
Thirty minutes later, Paul burst into the apartment and found Andrew curled up on the couch hugging Rascal. He was crying quietly. He hurried over to Andrew crouching down in front of him.
"Drew, what the fuck is going on? Why was the door wide open? Where is Ry?", at which Andrew started sobbing again.
In desperation he dialed Marie.
"Doll, I need you. I'm at the apartment. Drew is in a state and I don't know where Ry is. Drew won't tell me anything. He's just lying here crying!"
He knelt down and looked at Andrew again.
"Drew, you need to calm down and tell me what the fuck is going on. I cannot do anything until you speak to me, mate. Has something happened to Ryan?"
Andrew stared blankly at Paul and nodded.
"Okay, what has happened to him? Is he hurt"
Andrew shook his head, crying again,"Don't know " he whispered.
"You have to tell me what you know, mate. I'm in the dark here"
Andrew made a visible effort and struggled to sit up. Paul helped him then sat next to him, holding his hand.
"Okay, take it slowly. Tell me about Ryan"
"Went out last night to check Belle. Didn't come back! Found his mobile and broken toggle on the dock. Cops don't know where he is", Andrew managed between sobs.
Paul stared at Andrew. "What time did he leave here?"
"Just after 9pm. I went to look for him at 10 and found his mobile on the dock near to where Belle is berthed. Then I found a toggle from his rain jacket that had been ripped off. He was attacked, Paul! I know it as sure as you are sitting here". He whispered, starting to cry again. Paul, pulled him into his arms, letting him cry.
That is how Marie found them when she let herself in. She looked at Paul with deep concern on her face.
"What has happened? Has he said anything?" Andrew had calmed down but was still crying softly.
"Ryan has disappeared! He apparently went out last night at about nine during the storm to check the yacht, and hasn't come back. The cops are searching for him. Andrew found his mobile and a torn off toggle on the dock near the yacht".
"Oh my god", Marie breathed, bending down and looking at Andrew's ravaged face. "Let me sit with him. Go to the bathroom and wet a cloth. See if you you can find some of those tranquilisers the doctor gave him when his parents had their accident."
Paul hurried away to do as instructed, returning a few minutes later. Marie took the cloth and gently wiped Andrew's face then handed him the tablet with some water.
"Drink this, it will help you feel better"
Andrew took the tablet and swallowed it.
"Help me get him to the bedroom, then he can lie down more comfortably "
They got him up and walked with him to the bedroom, helping him to lie down on the bed. He immediately curled into ball, clutching at Ryan's pillow, tears coursing down his face. Marie sat next to him, stroking his head until the tranquiliser kicked in and he fell into a restless sleep with Rascal snuggled in the curve of his body.
Marie stood up and walked into Paul arms, her eyes filled with tears.
"Paulie, if Ryan does not come back, it will kill him. This is worse than when his parents were killed".
"I need more details", Paul growled.
He went to the kichen, found the number for the security office and dialed. When they answered he said
"Good morning, my name is Paul Mason. I am a friend of Mr Devlin-Major , whose husband, Ryan, disappeared from the marina last night. I am at his apartment, and I need to know what is going on. Mr Devlin-Major is under sedation at the moment and sleeping,and cannot tell me anything."
The security office said they would send someone to the apartment to speak to Paul. A few minutes later the doorbell chimed and Paul opened the door.
"Good morning sir, are you Mr Mason?"
"Yes, I am, and you are?"
"I'm Sergeant Miller from the police. I am the investigating officer into the disappearance of Mr Major "
"Okay, come in Sergeant"
He introduced himself to Marie then said,
"I believe you need some information about last night. To tell you the truth, there is very little we know, apart from what Mr Devlin told us last night. "
Paul held up his hand, stopping him
"Okay, let's just get a few details right here. It is not Mr Devlin and Mr Major. When they were married the name was officially changed to Devlin-Major. It is Mr Ryan Devlin-Major that you are looking for.
Okay, so you have found nothing else?
"We found traces of blood on the side of the yacht and on the mobile phone. I was just on my way here to request a hair sample so we can try get a DNA match."
Marie jumped up and hurried to the bathroom , and returned with Ryan's hairbrush. The policeman carefully removed a few strands with a tweezers and dropped them into a plastic bag.
"Thank you. Other than that, we have nothing. Mr Devlin.....um Major told us last night that they had problems with some guys who were homophobic and called them names. He also told me that they think it is the same guys who vandalised their yacht. We have not managed to track them down yet and according to the harbour logs, they sailed out of the harbour just after 01h30 this morning. To be honest, I find that just a little suspicious under the circumstances, but we have no idea in which direction they sailed. The coastguard have been alerted and all ports along the southern and western coasts have been alerted as well. Until we find them and question them we can do nothing except keep searching. Boats are on the marina and in the harbour searching the water and under all the piers. If it was them, and they have him on board with them, well, they could throw him over-board, or leave him on some isolated beach, we do not know. We have to find them"
Paul gave him his mobile number and said,
"Please, if you hear anything, contact me. Do not contact Mr Devlin-Major. He lost his parents not too long ago, and this could kill him. Do not phone Andrew! Phone me. And I will handle Andrew. Please!"
"Okay Mr Mason, I will do as you ask. Now I must get these hairs to the lab." And he left.
They made some tea, and sat drinking it, staring down at the boats moving slowly up and down the piers, hoping against hope that their friends body was not floating somewhere in the water.
Paul phoned Claude to tell him what was going on and that he would not be back for the rest of the day. Claude's cry of anguish when he heard that Ryan was missing was heartrending and Paul wondered if it had been a good idea to tell him. Then he and Marie just sat and waited, numb with concern and grief.
Andrew woke up at 4pm and wandered into the lounge like an automaton, looking like shit! His face was drawn and pale. He looked like he was ill. Marie eyes reflected her concern as she glanced quickly at Paul. The good thing was, he was calm . He stood looking at them blankly for a moment before asking,
"Has there been any news? Have they found him yet?"
Marie answered his questions,
"No Drew, nothing yet. Sit down, can I get you something to drink or eat? You've had nothing all day"
"Just some water and a few crackers thanks Marie"
She went to the kitchen and came back a few minutes later with the items he had asked for. He drank half the glass of water and nibbled on a cracker, before putting his head back with a deep sigh. Very softly they heard him whisper,
"Where are you my love? Tell me where you are? Show me?"
Tears welled up in Marie's eyes and she walked hastily out of the room. Paul glanced at Andrew and hurried after her taking her in his arms.
"I hate seeing him like this. It breaks my heart. It's his parents all over again, only ten times worse."
"Maybe you should go home doll, if it is upsetting you. And Jonathan will be wondering where we are?"
"No, I'll be fine. He needs people around him right now. And Jonathan will be having a ball with this grandma. Paul, what about Ry's family? Do they not need to know?"
"Damn, I had completely forgotten about them. I thought of it this morning and then that cop arrived, and I forgot about it"
He hurried back into the lounge. Andrew was still slumped in the corner of the couch with Rascal snuggled on his chest. He had not left Andrew alone since they had arrived, hopping onto the bed when they had taken Andrew to lie down and burrowing into his side where he slept all day.
Paul touched Andrew's shoulder and he jerked up.
"What? Have you heard anything?"
"Easy, Drew, No nothing. Drew, we need to let Ry's family know what's happened. I need their number"
Andrew shook his head.
"No, let me speak to them".
He took his mobile out of his pocket, scrolled down and dialed. He waited, eyes closed, while the call connected, then stiffened.
"Hi mom, it's Andrew " and he started sobbing.
Paul grabbed the phone while Marie tried to calm Andrew down.
"Janice, it's Paul. Janice calm down. Ry has disappeared. Vanished. There was a very bad storm last night and he went downstairs to check that the yacht was okay, and hasn't come home. No, Andrew doesn't know where he is. He has been under sedation the whole day and is barely keeping it together.
They've had search parties out all night and day checking the water, but have found nothing. Andrew found his mobile and a torn toggle off his jacket on the dock near the yacht. That's all we know", refraining from telling her about the blood. He listened for a while the answered, "Okay, I will arrange for the lodge van to pick you up at the airport. We'll get the guest room here at the apartment ready for you, Just send me you arrival time. You have my number."
It was approaching 6pm when Rascal wriggled out of Andrew's arms, jumped down onto the floor and sat looking at him with big eyes before walking to the kichen then turning around and sitting in the kitchen doorway.
"I think he may be hungry. Let me feed him" said Marie, getting up.
She found his puppy chunks and a tin of food in the refrigerator, fed him and filled his water bowl with fresh water. He ate his food, lapped at the water for a while, the came back and jumped back on the couch next to Andrew.
Paul, shook Andrew's shoulder. He looked up at Paul with sad eyes.
"Drew, why don't you go and have a shower? It will help you feel better, and wash some of the effects of the sedative away as well. Here let me help you."
Paul helped him to stand up and he shuffled to the bedroom like an old man. Marie just stared after them with concern all over her face. This was bad! Really bad!
Paul came back, looking slightly emotional.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck! I feel so helpless. That look in his eyes scares the crap out of me. If Ry does not come home, Andrew will die! Either of a broken heart or he will do something to himself. It scares me". Marie just held him, not revealing that she had similar thoughts.
Andrew appeared a short while later, looking refreshed and a little better than he had, wearing track pants, t-shirt, hoodie and sneakers. Rascal scampered after him and headed for the front door.
Paul grinned, "Looks like the little guy wants to go walkies? Shall I take him?"
"No,"Andrew replied " I'll take him. I need some fresh air anyway. I need to clear my head", sounding a bit more like the Andrew they knew. "You can come with us if you want to".
"Yeah, Okay. Will you be okay on your own, doll?"
"I'll be fine, you two go walkies".
Andrew grabbed a plastic bag, stuffed it into his pocket and they took the elevator to the ground floor, where there was a fairly large patch of grass. Rascal ran out, rolling around on the grass for a while, then did his business and started stalking Andrew and Paul. Andrew scooped up the doggie do in the bag and deposited it in a bin close by. Turning to Paul he asked,
"Feel like a short walk?"
"Yeah, why not, been cooped up in the apartment all day. Need to stretch my legs"
They sauntered along the docks, with Rascal running ahead of them and waiting, then running ahead wagging his tail like crazy. They were almost at the very end of the dock where it ended against the face of the quarry that the marina had been built into. Rascal disappeared into the deep shadow of the quarry face, and started barking and growling. Andrew called him to come and he appeared briefly before running back and barking again. This time there was the sound of scratching on wood and a distinct dull thud. Andrew started running , shouting,
"Paul, get the cops! It's Ryan! I'm sure of it!
Paul knew Andrew better than to argue and he got on his mobile.
Andrew sprinted into the dark shadows, not seeing anything. Then as his eyes adjusted to the gloom, the outline of a shed appeared, built right up against the rock face, and under the overhanging branches of a tree that grew out of the face. Rascal was scratching madly at the door and barking like crazy. Andrew reached the door, noticing that it was latched on the outside. He turned on the torch on his mobile, unlatched the door and slowly pushed it open, lifting his mobile to illuminate the interior.
And found Ryan!
He was lying on a dirty bed, half on his side and half face down, his face almost hidden by his arms that were stretched out over his head and shackled to the bedhead. His legs were splayed and tied to the frame at the bottom of the bed. He was naked.
As Andrew approached, Ryan lifted his head and Andrew saw what the had done to him. He screamed and rushed to Ryan's side, kneeling on the filthy floor and gently touching the bloodied head of his husband. Ryan squinted up at him through battered, half closed eyes, the blue surrounded by red and whispered,
"Drew, thank god. You found me! Help me. Please help me" and lapsed into oblivion, knowing he was safe.
Andrew was weeping bitterly, sweeping his eyes down Ryan's body, he noticed some of the damage.
They had beaten and tortured him, whipping him from neck to calves and shoulders to knees. His body was black and blue, covered in welts and, mostly, dried blood. His beautiful face was swollen and puffy , eyes black and cuts on his cheekbones, chin and lips. And he had been sodomised, the objects used still strewn about along with a small box on the floor which he assumed was what caused the thudding sound.
Andrew tried to free him, but the shackles were too strong. Paul stood at the door, horrified at what he saw in front of him., holding Rascal. Tears ran down his face as he phoned for assistance.
Within minutes the area was swarming with security, police and medical personnel. The EMT 's rushed in and started examining Ryan, after he had been cut free.
Paul held Andrew who clutched Rascal as they watched the scene, preventing him from getting in the way as Ryan was attended to. Paul's phone rang. It was Marie.
"Are you guys okay? There's a lot of activity right down at the end of the marina".
"Hi doll. Andrew and I are fine. We just found Ryan. Or at least, Rascal did"
"Oh my god, Paul, is he okay, must I come down there?"
"No doll, don't come down. He's alive, but it's not pretty. The paramedics are with him now. I will let you know if we have any more news."
For almost twenty minutes the paramedics stood over Ryan, treating him, then they gently laid him on a stretcher and wheeled him to the waiting ambulance. Andrew walked next to the stretcher gripping Ryan's swollen dirty hand. He was not going to let go even if it killed him. When they got to the ambulance , they tried to stop Andrew from getting in as well. He shook himself free and growled at them through gritted teeth.
"He is my husband! Don't you fucking dare stop me from going with him".
Paul had never seen Andrew so angry before. He was like a raging lion. The paramedics stepped back and allowed him to get into the ambulance with Ryan. They shut the doors and drove away, siren wailing.
Andrew sat beside him holding his hand and talking softly to him, telling him that he loved him and that every-thing was going to be okay. Ryan didn't see Andrew's tear stained face, but Andrew saw the single tear that ran down the side of Ryan's face. And he knew that Ryan was still with them. He would be okay! It would take time, but he would be okay.
At the ER, Ryan was wheeled into a cubicle and, in Andrew's opinion, roughly transferred to a bed. Then doctors and nurses swarmed around him, placing an oxygen mask over his nose, putting a drip into his arm and cleaning him up so that the doctors could get a better view of the extent of his injuries.
Paul and Marie came rushing in, Marie gasping, holding her hand to her mouth, and bursting into tears when she saw Ryan.
"God almighty, what did they do to him?", she blurted.
A nurse hurried over, annoyed.
" I'm afraid you cannot be here. Please go sit in the waiting room".
Andrew was about to protest, when Paul laid a hand on his arm.
"She's right, Drew. He's in the best hands possible right now. We cannot do anything to help him" and gently led Andrew away, now weeping silently again. They sat down in the waiting room and Paul went to buy coffee. He came back with chocolate energy bars as well.
"Drew, you must eat something. All you've had in the last 24hrs is a few crackers. He's going to need you when he wakes up. And you are not going to be of much use if you pass out on us because you haven't eaten"
Seeing the wisdom in his words Andrew nibbled listlessly at the energy bars and drank his coffee. He had to admit, it did make him feel better having something relatively substantial in his belly. He took Rascal from Paul, and the little dog squirmed in Andrew's arms licking his face and burrowing into his shoulder. Andrew kissed him on the head and his fingers stroked him, making his tail wag energetically.
"Such a clever dog. You found Ry. Thank you my puppy". He looked up, "Paul, what about Ry's mom, we should contact her?"
Paul looked at his watch. "She may already be in the air, but we can try. Then get hold of his dad".
He dialed Janice, but the call just went to voice mail, so he left a message. Then he called David who answered almost immediately.
"Hi Paul, any news?"
"Hello David. We found him. He's been badly beaten and assaulted, but he's alive. We are at the hospital now, they're busy with him. As soon as I know more, I'll let you know.".
"Thank god, Janice was in a state when I dropped her at the airport"
"David, I've got to go. A doctor just walked in"
"Mr Devlin-Major?", she asked, and Andrew stepped toward her and she glanced at the clipboard she held.
"I am Dr. Nicola Smith. Your husband has extensive injuries, mainly external but internal as well. From what we can see, they are not life threatening, but they obviously need to be treated. We are taking him into surgery now and it may be a while before we are done."
She pulled him away from the group, laid a hand on his arm and said softly ,
"I have to tell you, he was sexually assaulted as well. With and without objects. We have done a rape kit and it is already on the way to the lab and we have given him medication for HIV. The lab tests will tell us more ".
Andrew's eyes were cold and steely as he looked at her.
"I hope those fucking bastards who did this get everything they deserve! May I see him before you take him?"
"Come with me " and they walked down the corridor to the room they had him in.
Ryan lay on a gurney, ready to be pushed into theatre. The blood had been washed out of his hair and his face was free of blood except for his injuries. He could not see the rest of his body as he was covered with a sheet.
His heart heavy, he stood next to the gurney and picked up his hand, bending down to place a soft kiss on Ryan's forehead.
"Ry, babe, I don't know if you can hear me. They are going to take you into the operating theatre now. I love you with all my heart and we will get through this, together, as we always have. I will be here when you wake. I promise you will not be alone, no matter how long it takes. Just get better, for you and for me."
He thought he felt a slight pressure on his hand but it may gave just been wishful thinking. He stepped back and watched as they wheeled him away. He walked back to the others slowly, but with firming resolve. He had to get a grip! Ryan was going to need him. Just as Ryan had supported him in his darkest hours, he was going to have to do the same for Ryan now.
He had no idea just how hard that was going to be!
Janice crashed through the doors like a whirlwind an hour later, Paul having instructed the driver to bring her straight to the hospital. As soon as she saw Andrew she rushed into his arms and he lost all of his hard won resolve. They sobbed together hugging one another tightly. When they had both calmed down sufficiently, she asked,
"What's the latest? What are his injuries? How did they find him?" rattling off questions.Andrew led her to a chair and sat next to her.
"He's going to be okay, mom. They have him in surgery at the moment to repair some internal damage and to stitch him up. He has cuts and bruises all over his body" he looked at her intently "and, there is no easy way to say this. He was sexually assaulted".
Janice's eyes widened in horror, she wailed and threw herself against Andrew's chest, weeping.
"My baby, my poor baby!". Andrew held her close, letting her cry, stroking her hair.
"He'll be okay mom. It will take some time, but he will be okay"
They sat and waited. Marie left for home to put Jonathan to bed and the rest waited.
Eventually the door opened and the doctor walked in still wearing her scrubs..
"Mr Devlin-Major". Andrew held up his hand interrupting her.
"Please call me Andrew. Devlin-Major can be a bit of a mouthful. This is Janice Major, Ryan's mother. She just arrived from Johannesburg."
"Right, okay thank you. Andrew. Ryan is out of surgery and in the recovery ward. He will be there for about an hour so that we can monitor his vital signs just to ensure came through the surgery okay. The injuries to his body are mostly superficial, we have stitched some of the lacerations, and he will be turning all colours of the rainbow before this is over, due to the extensive bruising. They really did a number on him. He went through quite an ordeal. Fortunately he is young, strong and fit. I repaired the internal damage and he should recover completely. He will just be very uncomfortable for a while, especially when going to the toilet.
My biggest concern are the injuries to his mind. At this stage we have no idea to what extent his psyche has been affected, but experience tells me that there always is some psychological trauma that will have to be dealt with. Only time will tell. I will tell the nurses to come and fetch you once they move him to his room. He will be in a private room, mainly due to the cause of his injuries, but also due to your medical insurance. Mr Mason gave us all the details. He will have the best care we can give him, physical and mental, I promise. And he is going to need lots of love and care. Now, there is nothing you can do for the next hour. Why don't you go and have something to eat and come back when he is settled in his room. I want to keep him under mild sedation for a while, but I do want him to wake up first so that I can fully assess his post-operative condition." and she turned and walked away.
They quietly walked out into the cool night air, found a McDonald's close by and ordered Big Macs and milk-shakes. When they were done, they walked back to the hospital.
As soon as the appeared, a nurse hurried to them and asked them to follow her, and she took them to Ryan's room.
He caught his breath as Ryan slowly rolled his head to look at them and smiled painfully at them. Andrew and Janice rushed to him, standing on either side of the bed. They had managed to reduce some of the swelling, and he looked more like the Ryan they all knew. Andrew held his hand, being careful of the drip inserted there.
"Hi there, my love. We're here", bending down and placing a kiss on his temple.
He rolled his head to look at his mother.
"Hi mom. Don' t cry. Doctor says the op went well. I will be fine". Janice was too choked up to say anything. She just kissed his cheek.
He looked at Andrew.
"How did you find me? I thought no one ever went to that part of the marina. I was afraid I was going to die all alone and that they would just find my skeleton", he whispered.
Despite his good intentions, Andrew was crying again.
"I didn't find you. He did " revealing Rascal snuggling under his hoodie. Ryan reached out and stroked the puppy's head. Andrew could feel his tail wagging.
"I was worried sick about you and had been in the apartment all day. He needed to go downstairs, so Paul and I took him, and then we went for a walk to clear my head. He ran away along the dock and we heard him barking and we found the shack you were in. So Rascal was the one who found you".
Ryan gazed at the dog, fingers tickling his little chest.
"Good dog. Such a clever little puppy. Thank you". Rascals tail wagged madly again.
A nurse walked in and looked at the chart at the foot of the bed.
"I'm going to have to ask that you leave now. Mr Devlin-Major needs rest and I'm about to give him his sedative for the night."
Ryan looked at her, then at Andrew, gripping his hand.
"I don't want to be alone. Please don't leave".
Andrew looked at the nurse.
"I am not going anywhere! I am staying right here! I refuse to leave him alone! You want me out, you're going to have to get security to drag me out, but I assure you, I will be kicking and screaming all the way. I will not leave him!"
She looked like she was about to say something, then thought better of it. She injected a liquid in Ryan's drip bag and looked at Andrew sternly.
"I will allow you to stay as long as you do not disturb him"
Andrew nodded his head. "Thank you"
She left the room, and Janice and Paul said their good byes, taking Rascal with them. Paul would drop them at the apartment and then drive home.
Andrew got his first inkling of the battle ahead soon after. He moved round the bed to get on behind Ryan, thinking he would lie next to him. Ryan pushed him away with a panicked look.
"No, not there! Just sit in the chair and hold my hand".
Shocked and hurt, Andrew moved the recliner next to the bed, his heart heavy and emotion threatening to crush his resolve. Then he sat in the chair and held Ryan's hand until the fell asleep. Then he let the tears fall. This was going to be tough. He fell into a listless sleep, waking a couple of times during the night, even though the recliner was very comfortable. He woke for the final time when the doctor came in to check her patient. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw Andrew.
"Morning Andrew, did you stay here all night?.
"Yes, he didn't want to be alone, so I stayed. Your nurse was not happy "
"I can imagine. We don't normally allow it, but maybe given the circumstances it was wise "
The voices woke Ryan and he tried to sit up. Andrew moved to help him and he flinched away for a moment before allowing him to help him. The doctor checked him over, made a notation on the chart and motioned for Andrew to follow her as she left. Ryan tried to stop him.
"Drew, where you going? Don't leave!"
"I'm just going to have a chat with the doctor. I'll just be outside in the corridor "
Andrew walked out to the doctor, who looked perturbed.
"I saw that, his reaction, and it concerns me."
"I'm worried as well. Last night, I wanted to get on the bed with him and he pushed me away. I slept in the recliner, just holding his hand. It's as though he's afraid of contact that is too intimate. He has always loved cuddling."
"It's a reaction to the intimacy of the assault. I was afaid it would happen, but hoped it wouldn't. You're going to have to be very patient with him."
"Doctor, I can assure you, getting him back to full health is my primary goal as well. I love him, with all of my heart. And I know he loves me. I will do whatever it takes to do that. Money is not a concern He will get the best help money can buy."
"Money may not cut it. It is love, and care and understanding that he is going to need most"
"In that case, I am ready. He will get it, not only from me, but from family and friends as well"
"Good, I'm happy to hear that. But be warned, it might not be easy!" she walked away looking thoughtful
Janice arrived soon after while Ryan was eating a light breakfast, accompanied by Sergeant Miller.
"Morning Drew. Hello darling, you're already looking better. Do you feel up to speaking to the police?"
"Good morning gentleman. Mr Devlin-Major, I need to ask you a few questions", the policeman said, moving to the side of the bed. Ryan nodded as Andrew took his hand, rubbing his thumb over Ryan's wedding ring.
Sergeant Miller took out a notebook and pen.
"Did you see who assaulted you?", he asked.
"Yes, I did. It was the four guys from the big day catamaran that always gave Andrew and myself a hard time. We have always suspected that they were also responsible for damaging 'Belle Catherine', but we have no proof of that. I think they come from the Middle East, but they could be eastern European as well".
"I know it's not easy, but can you tell me what happened?"
Ryan looked mildly panicked for a fleeting moment and the nodded.
"When I went down to check on 'Belle Catherine', their boat was docked a bit further down. I could see them standing in the saloon of their boat looking out at the weather and they pointed and laughed when they saw me. I was standing on the side deck of our boat, when they grabbed me from behind. I slipped on the wet deck and hit my head on the side of the saloon. They dragged me off the yacht and started kicking and punching me as I lay on the dock. Then they lifted me up and carried me to where I was found.
I was struggling and kicking and the one who seemed to be the leader, punched me in the midriff. Then my phone rang and he pulled my wet weather jacket open to get it out of the inner pocket. He looked at it and threw it away. I think he was trying to throw it into the water, but apparently it landed on the dock"
"And they all participated in your assault?"
Ryan's grip tightened on Andrew's hand.
"Yes they did. Although there was one who appeared to be the leader. They all seemed to defer to him. He was always the first. And he gave all the orders. They called him Prince and once one of them called him Amir or something like that. They dragged me to that shack and tied me up before cutting off my clothing, taking my watch and whipping me and raping me. God, it was horrible. It seemed to go on for ever. I think I must have eventually passed out and when I came to, I was lying on the bed tied up. They left just after that".
"Did they give an indication of where they might be going when they left you?"
"Not that I am aware of. I just remember them laughing as Amir said "If they find you alive, tell them this is how we treat queers where we come from. Then when they were walking out, one of them said they must kill me. I think it was Amir that said, "No one ever comes here. Hardly anyone knows that this place is even here. Someone might find just his skeleton one day".
Tears rolled down his face.
"I was terrified that he was right. That I would die all alone!" Janice and Andrew were crying as well.
"Thank you sir, I know that was not easy. I can get their identity photos from marina security. One last question! You say they took your watch. Nothing was found at the scene. So I presume they still have it. What make is it?"
"It's a Tag Hauer. Platinum with a dark blue face"
"Okay, thank you. Please know we are doing our best to track them down"
He stood up and left the room.
Janice bent down to hug her son who tensed up momentarily before relaxing, then looked at Andrew.
"I want you to go home, have a shower, something proper to eat and get some decent sleep. It won't help if you keel over as well because you are not looking after yourself. Your SUV is parked outside", handing him the keys, "and Marie is at the apartment making breakfast. I will stay here with Ryan until you get back, but I do not want to see you before 3 or 4pm".
Andrew realised she was in no mood for arguments, so just nodded. He walked to Ryan and stood next to him.
"Can I give you a hug?" he asked hesitantly.
Ryan looked at him quizzically and nodded
"Yes of course you can babe. Why are you asking? You've never had to ask before ".
Andrew looked down at their joined hands, rubbing his finger over their rings.
"You pushed me away last night. I wanted to hold you while we slept. You told me to sleep in the chair. Then this morning you pulled away from me when I tried to help you sit up. As though you did not want me to touch you" he said softly.He glanced up as he noticed a surprised reaction from Janice.
Ryan looked crestfallen.
"Did I really do that? Babe, I'm sorry. I had no idea I did that."
Andrew leaned forward and placed his arms around Ryan, and he stiffened again for a moment, before relaxing and hugging Andrew back.
"I did it again, didn't I", he asked. Andrew just nodded, feeling very sad.
"Yes my love, you did"
Ryan looked puzzled but said nothing. Andrew picked up the keys and walked out the room, before leaning on the wall, silent tears pouring down his cheeks. Janice came out, saw him and swept him into her arms.
"Drew, darling, I can't say I know what is happening. But we must have faith that it will get better"
"Mom, I don't know what to do. They took my beautiful, loving husband and when he came back he was no longer whole. The bastards stole part of him"
"They didn't steal it Drew. They just locked it away. We just have to help him to unlock it, and if anyone can do it, you can. Now go home and rest, we will see you later".
And that was the pattern for the next three days that Ryan was in hospital. They discharged him on the morning of the fifth day since he had been found, and Andrew was there to take him home, Janice had stayed at the apartment. He helped Ryan into the SUV and he turned to his doctor who was standing on the kerb.
"Thank you for everything, Dr Smith. Goodbye"
She handed him her card.
"On the back are three psychiatrists that I recommend. I advise you to get him to one of them asap. The sooner the better and do not take no for an answer".
He pocketed the card, and drove Ryan home.
He was greeted by an ecstatic ball of brown fur, who ran around his legs in circles, and then yapped and wriggled like a worm when he was picked up and cuddled, licking Ryan's face.
Andrew heard him laugh for the first time since the assault.
"Hello my little soldier, how are you? You happy to see daddy Ryan? I am happy to see you".
He kissed his mother and sat on the couch, cuddling Rascal, his eyes pensive. Andrew went back down to put the car away and Ryan looked at his mother.
"Ma, what's wrong with me? Why am I pushing Drew away? God knows, I love him dearly, but I cannot help the feeling of panic when he comes near me. I know it's happening, but I can't do anything to stop it. It's killing him and me. I just want everything back the way it was"
She sat down, taking hold of his hand.
"Ryan my boy, you have been through a very traumatic experience. One some people do not survive. The physical damage may be healing, but the damage up here" tapping her head "still has to heal. That will take time and effort, from both of you. My advice is to go and see a shrink. They are the best people to help you now. I am going back home today, Your father needs me as well. Andrew has offered to take me to the airport. Do you want to come as well, or are you going to have a rest?"
"No, I'll stay. I have some things to think about as well. It will give me time alone"
Andrew drove Janice to the airport for her afternoon flight. When he arrived back at the apartment, it was quiet and he walked to the bedroom. Ryan was not there. The guest bedroom door was slightly ajar so he walked to it and pushed it open. Ryan was lying on the bed sleeping, with Rascal snuggled against him. He found it a bit odd, but did not really think much of it and returned to the main bedroom to change into sweatpants and a warm top. He opened the cupboard and stared in confusion. Ryan's clothing was no longer there. Fear roiled in his stomach and he hurried back to the spare bedroom and quietly opened the cupboard. There, neatly folded and hung was Ryan's clothing. He started shaking, pure terror welling up inside him. Ryan had moved out of their bedroom. He stood staring at the clothes crying softly, tears pouring down his face, not realising that Ryan, lying with his back turned, was listening to him weep, with tears soaking the pillow under his face. Andrew quietly closed the cupboard doors, left the room, and threw himself onto the big bed, burying his face into Ryan's pillow, sobbing like his heart was breaking until, exhausted, he fell asleep.
When he woke, it was dark. He could see the glow of light from the front rooms, and he could hear activity from the kitchen, probably Ryan feeding Rascal. Andrew lay there for a while and fell asleep again before waking up at 2am with Rascal next to him. His bladder felt like it was about to burst, so he got up, used the bathroom, and undressed, putting on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. He padded out to the other bedroom and peered in. Ryan was lying on his back, mumbling in his sleep. Andrew moved closer to hear what he was saying.
"No, don' t do that. Leave me alone! What are you doing? Aahhhhg, fuck that hurt. Drew where are you? Help me, please help me Drew".
He could take no more. So the moved to the bed sat on the side and gently shook his shoulder.
"Ry, wake up! You're having a bad dream Ry. Wake up"
He came awake with a yell, scooting up against the headboard, holding the sheet in front of him, eyes wild and staring.
"Easy Ry, it's just me. You were having a nightmare", softly stroking his arm. Ryan's eyes focused on Andrew, recognition dawning in his eyes.
"Drew, help me. I cannot do this on my own! I keep seeing all these images of when I was in the shed. When they were beating me and raping me, all I could think about was you. That if I focused on you, the pain would not be so bad. It hurt so bad, Drew, so bad." He was crying now, deep soul wracking sobs.
"When they were all finished and they left, one of them came back and said, "If they find you alive, tell them this is now we treat queers in our country".
Drew watched his tear ravaged face so full of anguish, anger boiling in his chest at what they had done to his beautiful, once self - assured husband.
"I heard then laughing as they walked away. One of them said they must kill me, but another one laughed and said "Leave him. He will die slowly.No one ever comes here".
"It was horrible. I don't know why I'm doing what I'm doing. I just know that right now, I cannot handle anyone touching me. It feels like I'm being restrained all over again. I hate it when I pull away from you or tense up if you touch me. I love you, god knows, I love you. But I do not want to burden you with someone who is broken. You deserve so much better. I don't want to lose you Drew. I need you. Please help me", and he fell into Andrew's arms, great heaving sobs wracking his body. It was a cathartic moment.
Rascal hopped up onto the bed, squirming his little body between them, his tail whipping back and forth.
Ryan chuckled even while still crying.
"Always want to be in on the action, don't you, my puppy".
He looked at Andrew, smiling wanly,
"Will you help me babe, I really need you"
Andrew smiled back at him, feeling that all was not lost.
"Ry, there was never any question that you would not have my love and support. It is all in your mind. I don' t profess to have all the answers, but we need people who do. First thing in the morning, we need to find you the help you need. Your doctor gave me the names of some shrinks that she recommends. No, don't pull a face. You know as well as I do that those guys did a number on your brain. Dr Smith has done her part to get your body back to full health. Now we need someone to help you get your mind back to full health as well. We need to get expert help to fight that. That is the only way I know to help you. That and love and compassion and understanding. I promised to love you in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and I intend to fully abide by those vows. And let's get something clear right now.
You are not broken. You may have a dent or two, but those can de repaired But you are not broken and never will be. You are stronger than that. Remember, you'll never walk alone!"
Ryan held Andrew's face between his hands.
"I am so lucky to have you in my life. You give me hope and strength and courage to carry on. So where do we go from here?"
"Well, that depends on whether I sleep here or if we go back to OUR room. Do you think you can do that?"
"I'll try. I can't promise anything, but I will try"
"Okay, so here or our bedroom?"
"Our bedroom, I think. I have to get back to some sort of normality"
Hand in hand the went into the main bedroom and slipped under the covers and just held one another. Ryan's body was tense at first, but little by little he relaxed and drifted off to sleep. It was the first time that Rascal was allowed to sleep on the bed with them.
That night was the true beginning of Ryan's return to full health. The following morning Ryan made arrange-ments to see the psychiatrist, and it was decided that they would both go so that Andrew would be better able to help Ryan in his recovery. There were still occasions when he would zone out, have nightmares and involuntarily pull away or tense up when Andrew put his arms around him. But the sessions with the psychiatrist proved to be very beneficial and by the beginning of the October, Ryan was getting back to normal, as was their relationship. Their sex life was still an issue, or rather the lack of it, but Andrew was determined to give a Ryan all the time he needed and never pushed him at all. That decision would have to come from Ryan.
One morning, a week after Ryan came home, they received news that the men who had kidnapped and assaulted Ryan had been arrested. They had been hiding out in a small secluded bay on the southern coast and when a local noticed, what he termed, a suspicious looking vessel, he reported it to the police who investigated. There was a shootout and one of them had been killed while the remaining three were in custody. One of them had Ryan's Tag Heuer watch on his wrist.
When confronted with the evidence, they confessed and were currently awaiting trial. Because of the DNA evidence and the confessions, it would not be necessary for Ryan to appear in court, unless he wanted to. The case came to court in early October and encouraged by his psychiatrist , Ryan appeared at the sentencing hearing to give a victims statement. He had not yet fully recovered, and would carry a few small physical scars for life, but was doing very well and on the advice of his psychiatrist that facing his attackers would bring final closure, he agreed to appear accompanied by Andrew, his parents and Paul and Marie. When the presiding judge invited him to give his statement he stood, tall and proud, with the others, and stared his assailants in the eye.
"My name is Ryan Patrick Devlin-Major. I do not know if you knew my name on the night you kidnapped and abused me. And quite frankly I don't care. I just wanted you to know the name of the man, who caused your dead friend to be rotting in hell, and who hopefully", glancing at the judge, "will be the cause you you rotting in hell on earth in prison for the rest of your miserable lives. How did I cause this? Because I survived what you did to me, instead of suffering the lonely death you wished on me. How did I survive? I may be gay and be married to a man, this man sitting here next to me, but no matter what, I am a man and will always be one. I chose to love a man because God made me like this, in his image and you tried to destroy it. God will damn you for that, I believe". The three men squirmed and lowered their eyes when he said that. Ryan raised his voice slightly,
"Look at me, dammit ! You thought that because I am gay, I was weak. Well I am not. I am strong, stronger now than I have ever been. I cannot say what you did to me did not affect me, because it did. And I will always have scars, physical and mental, from the abuse I suffered at your hand. But with the love and support of my husband, family and friends those scars have faded. You will have no one. You will spend your time in a miserable jail cell, living miserable lives. I believe they do not treat rapists well in our prisons and I hope you get everything you deserve. You tried to destroy me and you failed. All you did was make me a stronger, better, gay man and you destroyed yourselves. Thank you for your time, Your Honour"
He sat down to thunderous applause from the public sitting in the gallery.
Shortly thereafter, the judge sentenced them to 25 years without parole, for kidnapping and aggrevated assault, in a maximum security prison, deeming them dangers to the public. He also ordered that the catamaran that they had tried to escape in, be awarded to Ryan in lieu of compensation. He subsequently sold the 73ft vessel to a day charter company, after having a few bullet holes repaired and windows replaced, who sailed it to Mozambique to be utilised there and added a healthy sum to their joint bank account
The following morning, they sailed 'Belle Catherine' out of the marina, the first time she had been out to sea since the attack. She had still not had the damaged paintwork on her hulls repaired as Andrew had delayed the work due to everything else that was going on.
They headed up the West Coast, spending five days visiting some of the small ports and fishing villages on that coast. The weather was not great and they spent most of the week dodging from port to port, sheltering from the squalls that were typical of late winter. But it was a week, where they could be alone, reconnecting and strengthening their bond. And where they finally shared their bodies with one another again.
It was also a week, where they made a tumultuous and life changing decision. Two in fact.
First, they would purchase a house. And second, they wanted a baby. Adoption was an option , but they preferred to find a surrogate who would be prepared to carry the baby to term. The plan was to contract the surrogate for two babies, two years apart, one for Ryan to father and the other for Andrew. They desperately wanted the babies to, at least, have the same mother. It would be difficult, but not impossible.
It would mean there would be some changes to their lifestyle, but both felt they they were ready for the challenge and they could work it all out and they decided to consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.
The return sail to Cape Town proved to be rather exciting. Winter had decided to go out with a bang, and produced a huge north westerly storm, that had them racing for Cape Town just ahead of it. Table Bay was an angry grey expanse of white water, and the wind from behind them was approaching gale force.
'Belle Catherine' handled it like the thoroughbred they knew she was and flew across the bay at close on
15 knots, her projected top speed, even with the mainsail reefed. Andrew was amazed that, even though there was still an element of pitching and rolling, due to the ferocity of the wind and the wave conditions, she still remained a relatively stable platform, which gave them both a huge confidence boost, both in the yacht and in themselves. They flew through the harbour mouth, almost causing harbour control to have apoplexy, before Ryan dropped the sail completely and turned sharply to starboard, kicking in an engine and motoring into the calmer water in the lee of the breakwater. They looked at one another with shiteating grins.
"Woohoo, that was awesome," yelled Ryan, grabbing Andrew and spinning him around. They sailed into the marina and had barely tied up to the dock when the skies opened as the first rain squall heralded the arrival of the storm. It was raining so heavily, they decided to stay on board for the night as just walking the short distance to the apartment would mean getting soaked to the skin.
There was more than one storm in the marina that night! As the winds raged around 'Belle Catherine', passions raged in her master cabin as Andrew and Ryan reaffirmed their restored connection, both physically and emotionally.
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