Keeping her gaze averted, she made her way toward the elevator. “Thanks, but I’ve got it from here,” she said with a bright smile. “Have a great day at work tomorrow,” she added as the elevator doors opened. She swung inside and jabbed the button to close the doors.
It wasn’t until the doors closed and the elevator starting moving that she sagged against the wall in relief. The trembling in her legs had nothing to do with the exertion of crutches and everything to do with Gabe’s kiss.
What had just happened? A better question might be—why had that happened?
She’d heard about Gabe’s aloof reputation on her very first day. All the nurses talked about the fact that the good-looking ER doctor didn’t date nurses. Not even ones who worked elsewhere in the hospital.
But that wasn’t the only reason she’d been fighting her attraction to him. She didn’t want or need the complication of a man in her life. She was here getting over a bad relationship, not to jump into a new one.
Still, she couldn’t help lightly touching her tingling lips. Gabe’s kiss hadn’t just barreled against the walls she’d built around her heart, it had broken straight through.
She closed her eyes and prayed for strength.
Larissa’s ankle felt much better the next morning, so much so that she decided against going to an urgent care, her only option on the Memorial Day holiday. The swelling had come down to the point she probably didn’t really need the crutches, but she used them anyway just to rest the ankle a bit more, especially since she was scheduled for another twelve-hour shift the next day. At least she was scheduled for the night shift, so she’d have the entire day to rest it.
Summer clouds darkened the sky, making it a great day to stay inside doing chores. Getting her laundry done was tricky, but she managed to scoot the basket into the elevator to get down into the basement.
As the day wore on, she couldn’t seem to stop thinking about Gabe. Which was ridiculous, because she’d already decided that she needed to keep her distance from him. Yet she must have checked her phone a dozen times, wondering if she’d missed his call.
Or a call from Annie.
She thought about the poor woman as she placed the frozen bag of peas over her ankle. She’d called Annie’s number several times, but the calls went straight to voice mail. Either Annie’s phone was turned off or Kurt had destroyed it.
She shivered, hoping that Annie had managed to keep the phone hidden. If not, the poor woman had no way of calling for help. Not that she’d called the police so far.
Larissa had sensed Gabe’s frustration yesterday when Annie had refused to press charges. She understood all too well what was going on in Annie’s mind.
How many times had she begged her mother to leave George? Too many to count. Her mother always had an excuse—either she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to find a job, or she was afraid George would come after her, or she was afraid George would actually leave her alone. She’d tried to tell her mother they were better off without him, but it wasn’t until he’d attacked Larissa that her mother had sneaked away in the dead of the night, going straight to a women’s shelter, one of the many Larissa had tried to convince her to go to in the past.
The years after George had been rough on both of them. Her mother had been depressed, and the only job she’d been able to get was that of a waitress, which hadn’t brought in much money. Larissa had gotten a job as soon as she’d turned sixteen to help with the household expenses. When she was seventeen, she took the nursing assistant program through her high school and had gotten a decent-paying job at a local nursing home. She enjoyed working with patients and had decided to go into nursing.
Ironically, once she’d headed off to college, her mother had found a new man, one that didn’t hit her or abuse her in any way. He was significantly older, but as long as her mother was happy, she didn’t care. In talking to Annie in the ER, she’d tried to explain to Annie that she could do the same.
But after the incident last evening, she could only assume her words had fallen on deaf ears. Well, maybe not completely deaf, as Annie had tried to call her.