But he also knew just how upset she was at seeing the extent of Annie’s injuries. The burn from two nights ago had been weeping and was covered in dirt and grime from the highway. Annie had also sustained several broken bones, a head injury, and a potential ruptured spleen. It had been a long time since he’d seen anyone so badly hurt. And knowing Larissa, she was likely blaming herself even though there was absolutely nothing she could have done to prevent what had happened.
Still, he couldn’t help sending up a quick prayer for Annie’s recovery. And then shook his head in mild disbelief when he realized he’d prayed more since attending church with Larissa than he had in the year his sister had hounded him to go.
Not that he planned on telling Kimberly that.
Julie came abruptly around the corner and barreled right into him. He steadied her with his hands on her shoulders. “Whoa, take it easy.”
“Sorry,” she said with a sigh, taking a step back. “It’s been so crazy busy.” She frowned. “Have you seen Larissa? One of her patients needs something for pain.”
“I’ll find her,” he promised. “Just get her patient the pain meds for now, okay?”
“Okay.” Julie disappeared, and he swung around to head back to the trauma bay.
He slowed to a stop when he heard a familiar voice.
“Annie’s not here, Kurt. Why don’t you put the gun down and have a seat so I can arrange for you to go and see her?”
Kurt? Gun? Ice crawled down his spine, and he sprinted toward the nearest phone and punched in 911. “Kurt Hinkle is armed with a gun and is in the trauma bay with Larissa,” he said in a low, terse tone to Grace, the sheriff’s department dispatcher. “Hurry.”
He hung up the phone, swung around, and quickly flagged down Debra, the charge nurse. “Keep everyone out of the trauma bay, do you understand?” he said as quietly as possible.
“What’s going on?”
“Kurt Hinkle is in there with a gun, but the police are on their way. Keep everyone out and far away from this area,” he repeated, moving toward the door.
“You can’t go in there,” Debra protested, grabbing his arm.
“Yes, I can. Just keep everyone out here, okay?” He shook off her hand and edged toward the door leading to the trauma bay. He didn’t want to barge in there in case he startled Kurt into shooting.
But he couldn’t bear the thought of Larissa facing someone as unstable as Kurt alone, either.
Dear Lord, please give me strength.
He cracked the door open and peered inside. The ice on his spine turned glacier when he saw how close Kurt was to Larissa, just six feet away, with his gun leveled directly at the center of her chest. Larissa stared up at Kurt with wide, frightened eyes with nothing but a small metal bedside table between them.
There was no way he was waiting for the sheriff’s deputies. He shoved open the door and stepped into the room. “Put down the gun, Kurt.”
The older man swung around to face him, the gun bobbing up and down in his hand. “Stay out of this, doc. This is between her and me.”
“Put the gun away,” he repeated, projecting a calmness he didn’t feel. “Don’t make this worse than it already is.”
“Get outta here!” Kurt shouted, his face turning red.
From the corner of his eye, he noticed Larissa was edging farther away from Kurt, exactly the way he’d hoped. The trauma bay was big and open; there weren’t any places to hide or much to use as a barrier against a gun.
“Why are you threatening Larissa?” he asked, striving for a conversational tone. “She hasn’t done anything to you.”
Mentioning Larissa was a mistake as Kurt immediately swung back toward her. “You should have stayed away from Annie,” he accused. “You shouldn’t have filled her head with ideas of leaving me. It’s your fault she got hurt. If she wouldn’t have left, she’d be fine right now.”
Gabe couldn’t believe Kurt’s twisted logic, but then again, he didn’t understand why any man would physically abuse his wife, either. Kurt was so far beyond rational that Gabe didn’t have a clue how to get through to him.