He was too late. Ben knew it the moment the elevator doors opened onto the hospital floor. Everything sounded muted to him—the conversations, the footsteps, the movements.
As if life had left...
As if she’d left...
Even when she’d been in the coma, he’d felt something from her—a buzz of energy, of awareness.
It was gone now.
He felt muted, too, as if life was leaving him. Even though he pushed his way through those still opening elevator doors and ran down the hall toward her room, he felt like he wasn’t moving at all, like he was stuck.
Using his shoulder, he crashed through her door and found his fears realized. Her father was slumped over in a chair. The burly male nurse, who’d ridden the motorcycle into the lot, stood over the bed, just lifting a pillow from her face. And Ellie lay still—so very still and lifeless—on the bed.
The nurse stepped back, the pillow still clutched in his hands and shook his head. “You’re too late...”
Rage roared through Ben now, so loudly he heard his blood rushing through his own veins, his heart pounding like a gong. He launched himself at the nurse, knocking the guy back against the window behind him with such force the man’s head bobbed back and forth on his neck. The window shuddered, as if it was about to crack. But the glass must have been reinforced because they didn’t crash through it. Instead they slid to the ground, a tangle of arms and legs. Ben pulled his arm back to strike out, but the man was already limp beneath him and the pillow stuck between them.
He’d knocked him unconscious. He was no threat to Ellie now. Or to Paul Prentiss.
Nobody was a threat to Ellie now.
Ben jumped up and turned toward the bed. She was so very pale. No sounds at all came from her—no little puffs of breath.
“Help!” he yelled but he could already hear people in the hall, moving toward the door.
Could he trust any of them, though?
Or had someone paid them off like her assailant must have paid off the nurse?
Not trusting anyone but himself with Ellie, Ben leaned over the bed and began CPR. He pressed carefully on her chest as he closed his mouth over hers and puffed his breath into her lungs, willing her to come back to life.
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