He was silent for a long moment. “I’ve been working hard to let go of the past as well,” he finally said. “So I understand how it can creep up on you at the worst time.”
She lifted a brow, surprised he’d admitted that much. “We should be able to let go, right? Considering how nice and peaceful it is here.”
He nodded as he glanced around. “Yeah, nothing like the city, that’s for sure.” He lifted his brow. “It’s a bit ironic that we’re both relatively new to the area.”
She remembered her first few weeks here and suppressed a shudder. “At least you were a Wisconsinite.” She’d heard he’d moved here from Madison. “I came from Chicago, and let me tell you, that was a huge hurdle to overcome.”
He laughed. “I can only imagine.”
She smiled in spite of herself. “Thankfully, Julie Crain befriended me, and since she grew up here, the locals finally stopped treating me like an outsider.” Julie was working this weekend or she would have had someone to hang out with.
Someone other than Gabe Allen.
Not that she was complaining or anything.
“I bet if we asked around, we’d find more transplant residents than those who were born here,” Gabe confided.
The thought of people who were born and raised here made her think of poor Annie Hinkle. According to Julie, the Hinkles had been here as long as she had. Her smile faded. “You might be right,” she agreed.
Her cell phone rang, surprising her. She stared at the screen for a moment, tempted to let the call go to voice mail as she didn’t recognize the number. Reluctant curiosity compelled her to press the green button to answer. “Hello?”
“Larissa? It’s me, Annie.” The woman was speaking so softly she could barely hear her.
A shiver of apprehension rippled down her spine. “Annie? What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
There was a loud crash followed by nothing but silence.
Annie had hung up.
“Was that Annie Hinkle?” Gabe asked, every sense on alert. When she nodded, he tried to remain calm. “What happened?”
Larissa’s tortured gaze met his. “I don’t know, but I think we should call the police.”
He quickly turned the boat back toward his pier. “Are you sure? Maybe she just didn’t want anyone to know she was calling you.”
“She was talking really softly, as if she didn’t want anyone to hear her. But then I heard a crash and then—nothing. I’m worried something terrible has happened to her.”
He understood where she was coming from. The dark bruise around Annie’s wrist had revealed an ugly story despite her claims of falling off the porch. He’d seen his share of domestic violence cases when he’d been in Madison, but he couldn’t figure out why the women didn’t just get out. He knew being a victim was part of the cycle, believing the guy was going to change, thinking that next time the same thing wouldn’t happen, but it was still frustrating.
“Call 911 and send the deputies over there just in case.”
He could hear Larissa on the phone, speaking to Deputy Thomas, explaining Annie’s abrupt call and the crash she’d heard. After she finished, she turned back toward him. “They said they’d send a squad out to check things out.”
“That’s good,” he said as he pulled up next to his pier. “Wait for me to help you,” he cautioned. He made quick work of tying up the boat before giving her a helping hand.
She crutch-walked up the front lawn at a fast pace. He followed close behind. “Do you know where Annie and Kurt live?” she asked as they rounded the house.
He had a bad feeling about where this was going. “Yes. They live in a small house in the woods. They don’t have access to the lake, but their house is tucked into the trees. I think Kurt likes his privacy.” Privacy that gave him plenty of opportunity to hit his wife without anyone overhearing.
“Will you drive me there?”
He didn’t want to because he was worried about her safety. Both Kurt and Tommy could be unpredictable. Yet how could he refuse? If anything, Larissa might be able to calm Annie down if she was upset since she’d established a good rapport with the patient during her last visit.