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The Least Likely Suspect
by Bradygirl
Part 7

Mike flew down the hallway with amazing speed and agility considering heíd just awoken to two of the biggest shocks of his life. Waking to find Carrie kissing him was one, definitely an experience heíd never forget. The only question he needed an answer to was, did Carrie know what she was getting herself into by kissing him? Not that he didnít enjoy the kiss, he did, but he knew Carrie loved Austin and that they had gone through so much to be together. She had never, not even once, led him to believe otherwise. So, there must have been a reasonable explanation as to what motivated her to act in that way. But he couldnít focus on that now.

The second shock was what had him running down the hallway checking behind every door he could find. One of his most trusted nurses had a vial of a deadly bacteria and he wanted to know why. First he wanted to stop her and then he wanted to know why. He came to an abrupt halt at the middle of a four-way intersection contemplating which avenue would provide the fastest access to the bulk of the hospital.

While he was stationary, Mike noticed an eerie silence had overtaken the corridor. It was unearthly quiet in the middle of the night anyway, but the quiet hung in the air like a thick fog parted by the hiss of the air conditioning vents. He chose the right and pounded the linoleum with his heavy footsteps, rounding yet another corner once he came to the end of another hallway. A fluorescent green pallor was evident on the nurseís face up ahead due to the overhead lights. She poked her head over the counter. Surprise animated her features as she watched an agitated Mike Horton rush toward her. His thoughts were brief and to the point.

"Have you seen Ali? asked Mike spitting out the words at twice his normal speed.

The young nurse softly chuckled but tried to mask her amusement. He could sense she was wondering about his relationship with Ali. Was it strictly professional or something more? She couldnít know how truly passionate he felt about Ali at that particular moment. And his passion wasnít the loving kind. His passionate quest was to find Ali and stop her before she accidentally injected the virus into an unsuspecting patient.

*******

Ali slipped into Billieís room undetected by the other nurses on duty. She shook the bottle of clear medicine and checked Billieís chart. Yes, it was just as she figured. Billie was allergic to penicillin. And this penicillin bottle was perfectly disguised as another drug. Too bad she had lost the label sometime earlier in the day. But that was of no consequence.

"Pretty soon, Billie, youíll no longer feel the loss of your baby." Ali softly laughed. "Pretty soon you wonít be feeling anything at all. All I can say is, Iím sorry you wonít be awake to experience the sweet ecstasy of your death or to see me take your place in Mikeís life. Itís too bad really. You are a beautiful woman. But Iím the right person for Mike. And after youíre dead, heíll realize that. So, you see, it has to be this way. It has to be this way so Mike and I can be together."

She withdrew a syringe filling it with the colorless liquid. The curtain behind her caught her attention as it billowed. The metal rings of the curtain scraped across the bar in a lightening fast sweep. She wheeled around to find a large man behind her.

"What do you think youíre doing to my sister?" growled Austin grabbing Ali in a bear hug to keep her from Billie.

"Let go of me," she screamed wincing from the pain of his embrace. "Iím a nurse. Iím helping your sister."

"Like hell you are!"

In the struggle Ali dropped the needle somewhere near Billieís sleeping form and his sister didnít stir when Austin threw Ali against her bedside. She stretched reaching for the nurses on-call button but her fingertips brushed the small box pushing it off the bed. It swung knocking against the metal leg with a hollow clank. Ali grunted in frustration. Suddenly, Austin had her in a head lock which started to cut off the oxygen to her brain. She was about to pass out but managed to grab the syringe, fumble with it until it was facing in his general direction, and blindly thrust it at him. She smiled as the plunger depressed emitting the penicillin into his blood and fainted knowing that if his sister was allergic to penicillin, it was likely so was her brother.

*******

"Have you seen Ali? asked Mike again.

She quickly responded to his second inquiry. "No, Dr. Horton, not for about an hour or so," said the nurse.

Mike grimaced and could tell by the nurseís reaction she was taken aback by his expression.

If you do, page me immediately." He checked to make sure he was wearing his beeper and moved to leave but quickly spun around again.

"Immediately! Understand?" The girl nodded shocked by the harshness of his tone. Mike went to further search for Ali when he turned to find Craig Westley had materialized behind him.

"Well, well," said Craig in a smug tone. "If it isnít my favorite running mate, Mike Horton." The venom in his voice was readily apparent and Mike wondered why the hospital board didnít pick up on his obvious flaw in his character. "Burning the midnight oil there, Mikey?" Craig glanced on either side of Mike. "Whereís your favorite little mouthpiece tonight? Busy cozying up to her husband?" Craig intended for the barb to sting but Mike knew his old college chum had no idea of his feelings for Carrie. So the barb, intended to aim at Carrieís lack of commitment to his PR campaign, really hit home with a straight and sure arrow in his heart instead. Not quite the target he was aiming for, but he knew Craig would take what he could get, even if it wasnít intended. "I thought for sure sheíd be glued to your side what with the interviews starting tomorrow and all. Iíll bet her husband isnít happy about the arrangement the two of you have."

"Craig, Carrie and I donít have an *arrangement. Sheís running my PR campaign, thatís all." Mike was not in the mood nor did he have the time to start a match of verbal sparring with Craig.

"Really? Thatís not the way it looked to me a few minutes ago in the doctorís lounge."

Mikeís face paled. Why was it Craig Westley was always invariably in the right place at the wrong time? He felt light headed for a second and steadied himself by bracing his arm on the nurseís station counter.

Craig smirked. Winning this chief of staff bid was going to be easy if Mike kept handing him ample ammunition on a silver platter like this. He could hardly believe his luck stumbling upon the two of them earlier. Who would have thought a beautiful woman like Carrie would go for a no one like Mike. But Carrieís interest in the doctor didnít totally surprise him. The fact that half the nurses on staff lusted after Mike, however, did.

"I really like Carrie. I do. Sheís got spunk, just like my Missy. But do you really think a single, eligible bachelor like yourself should be seen in a compromising position with a married woman such as Carrie? People talk, Mike. People not as understanding as I am. Iím only thinking of the hospital here, you know that, right?"

"I don't have time for this, Craig." Mike wasnít in the mood to go one on one with an underhanded snake like Craig.

"Me either," Craig countered, calmly adjusting his tie. Missy and I have dinner plans at the Penthouse Grille."

"A few board members wouldnít happen to be tagging along by chance?" Mike knew Craig too well to believe he wouldnít use every opportunity to better his chances. Craig gasped and the gasp melted into a smile.

"Well, if they happen to drop by our table, who am I to say no? Missy knows how much this chief of staff position means to me," he slyly smiled again brushing the wrinkles out of his freshly pressed Italian suit. Craig presented the perfect picture of a man destined to win at everything he attempted. Mike hoped that just this once he would come out on top instead of Craig.

Following in his grandfatherís footsteps had become more and more a goal he strove for. He didnít know why really, administrative duties never had appealed to him as much as personal contact with the patients had. And in fact, he wasnít even interested in applying for the job until Carrie had talked him into it. Now everyone was counting on him to win, now that the field was lowered to two candidates, Craig and himself. But one thing was certain, he wasnít going to win on two hours of sleep. He had reluctantly agreed to fill in for another doctor. Pulling double shifts was like pulling teeth, you didnít do it unless you had to. Mike looked down at himself. He knew his appearance was haggard, hair disheveled and lab coat rumpled. Not to mention his overall demeanor cried out in fatigue. If Mrs. Winston were to pick that moment to make a surprise visit, Craig would get all the personal hygiene points while pointing out all of Mikeís faults in the process.

"If youíll excuse me, Mike. I have a date to keep," said Craig warming up to taunt him again. "It really is too bad you donít have a wife of your own. The board members really seem to appreciate a family man with moral family values." Craig turned to leave but stopped to add, "Oh, and Mike, get some sleep. I want you at your best when I wipe the floor with you."

*******

Hope ran down the hallway stopping every few feet to question on orderly or patient. Many of her conversations were abrupt and limited to one or two sentences. One orderly, named Bryce, however, had quite an interesting story to tell and Hope felt compelled to listen.

"Youíve seen Ali?" Hope responded hopefully.

"Sure, about ten minutes ago." Hope expelled a sigh of relief. If she could find Ali in time, they could stop the spread of this bacteria before it got out of Salem.

"Do you know where she is?" Bryce nodded and Hope felt so happy she wanted to kiss him.

"Sure. She was headed to your friend, Billieís room. Did you know Ali thinks sheís the married woman Dr. Mike is in love with? Is that ridiculous or what?"

"Did you tell her she wasnít?

"No, why? I thought it was common knowledge that he was pining for Carrie Reed."

"Oh, my God, Billie!" Hope tried to leave but Bryce stopped her in mid-stride.

"Why do you care who Ali thinks Mike is in love with? Youíre his cousin, not his mother."

"Let go of me youó" Hope wanted to say moron but her morals prevented her. Not to mention her gut instinct was screaming and if it was correct, Ali was more disturbed than any of them knew. "Aliís about to make the biggest mistake of her life and if I donít stop her someone could die." Hope broke free from Bryceís grasp and raced full speed to Billieís room. She could see Mike and Craig Westley engaged in another tiff ten feet from Billieís door. She didnít have time to stop and tell them of her news. She had to get to Billie before Ali injected her with the virus. Quickly, she brushed past them both and into the room. The second after entering she helplessly watched as Ali injected the contents of the needle into Austin.

"Ali, nooooooo!" Hope screamed as Mike and Craig appeared behind her. The three of them watched as Ali slumped to the floor.

Epilogue

Hope and Mike sat in his office. Austin was incredibly lucky that Ali had injected the deadly virus into Billieís mattress and not into his arm. Mike knew Carrie was at that moment comforting her husband in his hospital room, and it was for the best. Carrie and Austin belonged together. This couldnít have happened at a better time. If Carrie was starting to have feelings for him as he suspected, this night had nipped it in the bud. And in a way, he was glad.

"Iím sorry thing didnít work out between you and Carrie," said Hope reaching to give her cousin a hug. "And Iím sorry about Craig too. Guess he wonít be leaving Salem after all, huh?

"Iím not sorry that things turned out as they have. It had to be this way. I have to realize that and move on with my life. And Craig, well, the board really did surprise us both by making their decision early. Craig couldnít wait to get back and tell me the good news."

"I know you really wanted the chief of staff position, Mike. Maybe Craig will be a good addition to the hospital"

"Yeah, maybe." Hope noticed a far off look had crossed Mikeís face. "What will happen to Ali?"

"Well, Bo and Abe have her down at the station right now. I know you donít want to hear this but when they ran a background check on heró They found three of her previous husbands had died under mysterious circumstances soon after they married. She was a black widow, Mike. If she had gotten rid of Billie, she would have went after Carrie until you had only her to turn to. And thenó"

"And then what?" Hope realized Mike had not idea how deadly this woman was.

"And then after she seduced you and convinced you to marry heró" Hope paused. "She would have killed you too. Iím sorry, Mike. Ali wasnít the sweet innocent woman you thought her to be. And in reality, if she hadnít gone after Billie, I doubt we would have suspected her if she *had* killed you. She truly was the least likely suspect."

The End.

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