Gabe sensed Larissa beside him, and he was annoyed that he’d recognized her vanilla scent. Regardless, he kept his attention focused on the problem at hand. He just couldn’t believe there wasn’t something that could be done legally to prevent Kurt from hurting his wife. Again.
“What about the black eye from a few weeks ago?” she asked.
Gabe scowled. “I don’t remember that.”
“You weren’t working that shift,” Larissa pointed out. “I was on with Dr. Gardener.”
Deputy Armbruster pursed his lips. “We could maybe argue that it’s a pattern, but again, not likely. I got a black eye myself playing softball with my girls.” He smiled grimly. “My daughter Elise has a good arm.”
Gabe understood what the deputy was saying, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. “So what can we do?”
“Look, I can go chat with Kurt if you want me to. At least he’ll know that we’re on to him and—”
“No,” Larissa interrupted harshly. “Don’t.”
“What?” Gabe glared at her. “Why not?”
“Because he’ll be mad and take his anger out on her, that’s why.” Larissa turned toward Deputy Armbruster. “If you can’t arrest him, then just leave it alone.”
Gabe couldn’t believe what he was hearing. What was she doing? Why wasn’t Larissa standing up for their patient? “I think it would do Kurt good to know we’re on to him.”
“Why?” Larissa asked, her green eyes sparking fire. “So next time he can hurt her where the bruises won’t show?”
What? He took a step back. “No, of course not.”
“Leave it alone,” she pleaded. “I’ll talk to Annie, okay? Maybe I can help in ways the police can’t.”
Deputy Armbruster shrugged. “Okay, let me know if anything changes.”
“Gabe? We need your help over here,” Merry called. “This patient’s breathing is getting worse.”
“Go ahead, I’ll talk to Annie,” Larissa said.
Reluctantly, he nodded and hurried over to where Merry was standing beside another patient who was clearly in distress. The beeping oxygen-saturation monitor showed numbers that were steadily declining. “Get me an intubation tray now.”
All thoughts regarding his other patients vanished as he quickly focused on saving this gentleman’s life. He placed the breathing tube and then quickly connected the oxygen supply, giving him several slow, deep breaths.
“O2 sat up to 90 percent,” Merry announced with satisfaction.
The respiratory therapist came over to secure the tube. Gabe kept an eye on the guy’s vital signs, reassured that he was holding his own, at least for the moment. “All right, call up to the ICU and let them know we have a patient for them.”
“Will do,” Merry promised.
Gabe did a quick visual check on the other patients under his care before heading back over to where Larissa was sitting beside Annie Hinkle. Annie was staring down at the cast he’d ordered to be placed on her wrist after determining that indeed she’d suffered two minor fractures.
Which could have easily been far worse. The good news was that she wouldn’t need surgery.
The bad news was that he’d have to discharge her home. Back to her abusive husband.
He paused outside the doorway, listening as Larissa spoke softly to Annie. “Here’s my name and phone number,” Larissa said, pressing a small, folded piece of paper into Annie’s uninjured hand. “Call me if you feel afraid, or if you just want to talk. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.”
“Thank you,” Annie whispered. “But really, I’m fine. Just a bit klutzy.”
“Remember what I told you?” Larissa asked.
Annie slowly lifted her gaze to meet Larissa’s. Her softly spoken “yes” sounded almost like an admission.
“Call me anytime,” Larissa repeated.
Gabe stood there for a long moment, wishing he’d heard the entire conversation between the two women. He’d sensed right from the start that Larissa had identified with Annie on a level that he couldn’t possibly imagine.