“Car versus pedestrian just off Highway Z,” Gabe said out loud as he read his pager. “Victim is a fifty-year-old woman, and her vitals are bad. It doesn’t sound good.”
Her stomach clenched with dread as she read the same message. Annie was fifty years old and lived near Highway Z. Granted, that didn’t mean she was the victim. Still, she sent up a quick prayer for Annie’s safekeeping.
“We should call a chopper, in case she needs to get to Madison,” she suggested as she followed Gabe into the trauma bay. They were only a level-two trauma center, and if this patient was really bad, they’d need to stabilize her and get her transferred as soon as possible.
She’d barely made the call when the ambulance bay burst open revealing a bevy of paramedics surrounding a gurney. The moment she saw the victim, she knew it was Annie despite the massive amount of blood.
“Fifty-year-old woman with serious head injury, unconscious at the scene. Vitals reflect hypovolemic shock. We have fluids running wide open.”
“Is there another victim?” Gabe asked.
“No, apparently this was a hit and run.”
Larissa concentrated on taking care of Annie, but deep down, she felt certain Kurt was the one behind the wheel of the car that had hit his wife.
And she suspected he’d intended to kill Annie.
Larissa and Gabe worked on Annie for a solid hour before they deemed her stable enough to transfer. Larissa watched the flight team wheel Annie away and silently prayed.
Dear Lord, please keep Annie safe in Your care.
“Larissa?” Gabe’s low voice broke into her prayer. “Are you all right?”
Suddenly, she wasn’t. She had to get away, just for a few minutes. “Excuse me,” she murmured, slipping away.
She stepped outside, staying beneath the overhang so that she didn’t get drenched by the rain. What had happened to Annie? Had she tried to escape Kurt on foot? Had she been on the road, helpless as he drove directly at her?
Squeezing her eyes shut didn’t help erase the image she could see so clearly in her mind. Maybe it wasn’t Kurt, she tried to tell herself. Maybe Annie had been running from her husband and dashed onto the road, directly in the path of an on-coming car.
She took several deep breaths, trying to calm her ragged nerves. There wasn’t anything she could do to help Annie right now. She and Gabe had done their best, placing a breathing tube and a central venous catheter before pumping several units of blood into her system.
The rest was up to the trauma team in Madison and God.
Feeling calmer, she turned to go back inside, shivering when a blast of cold rain hit her back, soaking through the thin fabric of her scrubs. The trauma bay was empty now and had already been cleaned up, which made her feel guilty. It was almost four in the morning, the most difficult part of the night shift, and she realized she must have stayed outside longer than she intended.
Time to stop worrying about Annie and to focus her attention on the handful of patients who still needed care on her team.
She was about to head through the trauma bay when suddenly the ambulance bay doors opened behind her, letting in a blast of cool air. She jumped around in surprise and nearly tripped over her feet when she saw a disheveled man standing there holding a gun.
“This is all your fault,” he said in a harsh tone, waving the gun in her general direction. “Annie’s gone, and it’s all your fault!”
Kurt Hinkle. Was he intoxicated? He certainly acted like it; his eyes were bloodshot and his gait unsteady. She swallowed hard and tried to edge behind one of the metal bedside tables, not much protection against a bullet. When Kurt came farther in the room, she fought a rising panic.
Where was everyone? Couldn’t they hear Kurt?
“Don’t move!” he threatened. He took a step toward her, and she couldn’t help shrinking backward, dragging the metal bedside table with her.
And this time when he raised the gun and pointed it directly at her, his hand was far too steady.
Gabe glanced impatiently at the clock on the wall. Where was Larissa? It wasn’t like her to take such a long break in the middle of her shift like this. He’d always been impressed by what a hard worker she was.