I met his eyes. The gunner. I met his eyes with mine and saw right into their blackened depths a dark soul with an even darker purpose. The handgun was leveled at my chest, about his eye level. Before I could react to what I was seeing I heard the crack and knew that I was about to die. I heard a masculine grunt but felt no pain, and it took me a full second to realize that it was not I who had been shot, but my husband.
I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. On each side of our carriage, the guardsmen drew their sabers, sharpened steel flying from sheaths with a metallic whine. They had the gunman under control in an instant, aided by a man in a tan coat who had succeeded in disarming our enemy before he could fire again. I threw myself forward to meet my husband’s face, to shield him as he had shielded me. He had leapt in front of me, taking the bullet deep in his shoulder, and had rolled into the empty seat that faced us where the PM usually sat. I couldn’t focus on anything around us, only his face. It was white, and his eyes were screwed shut in agony. He was silent. I saw the blood even on his dark coat, seeping onto his shirtfront.
Why was everything moving so slowly?
Our driver had already turned around and was racing back towards the gated courtyard. A footman and several other servants came immediately to help us and they half helped, half dragged A into one of the front rooms. As we all entered, I caught a glimpse of my mother staring at us from the hallway. Her eyes and mouth were wide open, round. Someone shouted for a doctor to be summoned.
I never left his side, only knelt as they laid him, now deathly still, onto a couch. His face was still white, his eyelids tan by comparison. I clutched onto his hand, horror drying the tears in my own eyes. Please, I thought, please don’t let him die. Don’t let me lose him. Not like this!