to Part 3
The Least Likely Suspect
Hope continued to feel disoriented from the fall. She held her hand on a nearby box steadying herself. Scanning up and down the pier, she discovered that she and Austin were alone. A feeling of panic weld up in her throat. She had to get him to the hospital. Austin drifted in and out of consciousness. His obvious head injury continued to bleed massive amounts of blood. Hope was worried that eve if she did get him to the hospital in time, it would be too late. His moans of pain left her scrambling in her purse for a phone. As she searched, she realized she had left her cellular on Gran’s kitchen table. A perfect place for it, she thought sarcastically.
A few feet away Hope spied a pay phone. She glanced at it while trying to stop Austin’s head wound from bleeding. The scarf around his neck provided the tourniquet she needed to wrap around his head. The bleeding hadn’t stopped completely but at least it wasn’t nearly as bad as before. She sat back a inhailed a few deep breaths. Now was the time to call the hospital. Hope darted to the phone praying Austin would make it through the next few minutes.
Back at the University Hospital, Mike joined by Ali McIntyre, an ER nurse, wheeled Billie into the operating room. This new development in her condition worried Mike. First fainting and now internal bleeding? Mike prayed she wasn’t losing the baby. But his gut told him, she maybe already had. They had only been operating a few minutes when Ali screamed.
"Mike, she’s hemorrhaging!" Mike looked at Ali with partial panic in his eyes. He tried to mask it but his compassion couldn’t help but show through.
"Don’t you think I know that! said Mike in frustration. "Come on, Billie! Fight!"
Ali watched Mike feverishly try to save this woman. She had never seen him work so passionately on a patient before. On the woman’s third finger was a wedding ring. Could she be the married woman the other nurses said Mike was in love with?
The heart monitor beeped a few spastic tones and flat-lined. Mike stared at the box in horror. This only stepped up his need to save Billie. He wasn’t going to let his friend die.
"Grease up those paddles," ordered Mike. Ali nodded and jumped on command. Two other nurses joined them as the annoying monotone tone echoed through the room. The four of them focused on saving this one life. That was their job. But to Mike, this was more than a job. Today, if he didn’t do his job well, it would have dire consequences. Ali handed the paddles to Mike.
"Clear!" Mike shouted. Ali checked the voltage and gave him the go ahead. He shot up a silent prayer and pressed the paddles to Billie’s chest. Her body heaved violently off the bed. But the monitor continued to drone the annoying tone. It had been at least five minutes since she flat-lined. Ali lightly placed her hands atop Mike’s.
"She’s gone, Mike," whispered Ali. She focused her attention on one of the other nurses as she said, "Time of death-"
"No! I won’t accept that!" Mike greased the paddles up and pressed them to Billie’s chest one more time.
"It won’t do any good, Mike. She’s gone." Mike ignored Ali’s protests. This was NOT going to happen on his watch. Again her body heaved from the voltage. Relief flooded his body when the heart monitor played the sweet tone of life.
"Thank you God." Now that he’d gotten her heart beating again, he focused on the hemorrhaging. An hour later, Billie was in recovery. Mike stood over her and watched her chest lightly rise and fall. He was so glad she was alive. They had come so close to losing her today. Too close. Mike brushed the hair out of Billie’s face.
Ali walked by the recovery room door and watched the way Mike was fussing over the woman they’d just saved. She was more certain than ever that this was the married woman he was in love with. Mike kissed the woman’s temple and left the room to make a phone call. Ali stayed behind. She wanted to know why this woman had rejected Mike.
She looked out the window and stared at the dreary sky. The weather was every bit as bleak as her mood. Ali glanced over at the woman, Billie Brady, as the name tag on her wrist had informed her. Billie slept but the images running through Ali’s mind wouldn’t stop. The harder she tried to push them away the more they stuck in her brain. It just wouldn’t let up. It just wouldn’t go away.
Ali had never felt she was the obsessive/compulsive type but ever since Mike had invited her to the New Year’s Eve celebration, her entire world had changed. The man she thought she loved was now becoming a mere distraction. It seemed all she could focus on was Mike and how good he made her feel. She remembered the twinge of jealousy she felt after walking into Chez Vou and seeing him dance with Carrie. She never wanted to experience that sensation again. And today she vowed, she never would.
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