This was Frazer Benedict’s favourite time of night. And this was his favourite place. Walking along the beach, the dark, clear sky filled with a zillion stars, very little sound apart from the ebb and flow of the incoming tide, it felt like an oasis of peace after a busy, meeting-filled day. He’d even sailed his first yacht in these waters long before he set up his own company.
A final late meeting had been called off at the last moment and he’d slipped away. Now he paused to inhale the fresh ocean-filled air, filling his lungs, breathing out again slowly, listening to the faint call of a sea bird. A rare moment. He was normally so busy such self-indulgence played no part in his life.
The tide was coming in fast, lapping at his toes, and he hopped out of the way, almost falling when his foot caught something lying on the sand. He frowned, visitors didn’t usually discard rubbish here. They respected it as one of the most striking natural bays and took their litter home.
On closer inspection he discovered to his horror, what he had thought was a bag of rubbish was actually a person. A woman! Asleep! Of all the places to fall asleep...
He touched her with his toe. Nothing. He touched a little harder. Still nothing. He bent low and shook her. No response.
A frown dragged his brows together as he slid his arms beneath her and picked her up. She felt like a rag doll. His first thought was that she might be dead and a shiver ran down his spine. But she was still breathing – just about.
He carried her to his parked car and gently lowered her on to the back seat before driving as fast as he dared to the nearest hospital. Which was five miles away! Never had a journey seemed so long. Even so he knew it would be quicker than waiting for an ambulance.
After explaining the circumstances to the medics he left her in their care but he couldn’t get the woman out of his mind and an hour or so later rang the hospital. Much to his annoyance, because he wasn’t a relative, they wouldn’t give him any information.
The next morning, determined to find out what was happening, he drove straight to the hospital before going to work. This time, when he explained the situation, he was shown into a doctor’s office.
“You are the guy who found her?”
Frazer inclined his head. “I am indeed. How is she?”
“First things first,” said the doctor. ‘Tell me all you can about this woman and her circumstances.”
Frazer stared at him as though he was out of his mind. “I don’t know anything. I found her lying on the beach. If I hadn’t been there she would have drowned. And it’s not often I walk there, I can tell you. She’s damn lucky. Will she recover? Have you found out who she is?”
The doctor shook his head. “She had no identity on her. My belief is that she desperately wanted to die.”
“What makes you think that?” He was stunned by the man’s theory. How could such a young woman want to kill herself? It didn’t make sense. She could have simply felt unwell and collapsed. Surely they were making harsh assumptions?
“It is the only possible conclusion. She had an alarming amount of drugs in her body. Enough to kill most people. She’s very lucky you found her.”
“Does she know?”
“No!” The man looked sad. “She’s not recovered consciousness. But she is alive and is being carefully monitored.”
Frazer reached out one of his business cards and placed it on the man’s desk. “I’d appreciate it if you’d keep me informed of her progress.”