Gabby and Conner work to solve the mystery of her kidnapping before it is too late.
“Let me go,” the little girl screamed. She tried kicking free from the man but it was no use, the van doors were shut and the vehicle was already lurching forward. The man was stronger than she was, muscles rippled underneath the black shirt that he wore. He had enticed the girl to the van by offering her ice cream, leaving the boy behind. Gabrielle struggled to get free of the man again but it was hopeless, tears stung the backs of her eyes and she didn’t understand what was happening to her.
The inside of the barren van was hard, cold metal, the floor cluttered with wrappers from fast food restaurants and other places the men had stayed, a stale cigar odor clung to the metal walls mixing with other odors that were unfamiliar to Gabby. She continued to try to wiggle away from the man, “Ouch,” she yelped, “you’re hurting me!”
“Hold still you little brat,”
“I’m not a brat,” Gabby looked down and aimed her foot for his and stomped, hard. The man whipped her around and squeezed her arms like soft lemons, holding on tightly. Gabby took one long look at the man’s face; it burned in the back of her memory. Not a very old face, she thought, knowing that she somehow knew him.
“Listen here little girl, if you don’t settle down and be quiet, you’ll never see you parents or your little boy friend again, got it?” Gabby’s faced contorted as she took in the mans words, the tears welling in the back of her eyes sprung loose and streamed down her face, hard sobs followed as the man whipped her back around trying to hold her hands still, looking for the rope he would use to tie them together. Gabby fought harder now, if only she could get free. She struggled to pull one hand free but as she did the mans large calloused hand swept in front of her face with a handkerchief, the chloroform worked fast and the little girl went limp. The man reached for the rope and tied Gabby’s hands behind her back and then tied her small ankles together. He double-checked to make sure that the bindings were tight enough that a small wrist couldn’t slip through them. He turned and barked orders to the driver to head north. He waited anxiously to reach his destination. Gabrielle, Gabby, as her parents and friends called her deserved what she got and so did her parents. They had no idea who they were messing with.
* * *
Conner ran without stopping his lungs burning with every stride and tears running down his cheeks. Only a little longer he thought as he rounded a corner taking the next sidewalk that led to the two-story home. His mom had always told him not to run too much because his asthma would be bad, but the boy was desperate to get home. He burst through the screen door running directly in to the arms of his mom who was standing near the door.
“Whoa buddy, slow down,” Betty said to her son. Reaching down to him she lifted his chin and looked at his face, the sobs still came and tears mixed with dirt that had collected on his tiny face. “Conner honey, what’s wrong?” Concern now flooded Betty’s heart.
“They,” he paused for a breath, “took…Gabby” he managed to get out through the small amount of air that was in his lungs. He breathed in deep again and the sharp pain from the lack of oxygen made him double over grasping for his knees.
“Who Conner?” she said, lines of worry creased her forehead, “who took Gabby?”
“A man in black,” he managed to say still gasping for breath.
“Where did he take her?”
“A van…a cite van”
“Which direction Conner, do you remember?” She was concerned now; it wasn’t the kind of joke her eight-year-old son would play.
“I don’t remember,” his sobs came again and he buried his face in his moms shoulder. “I…tried to,” sob, “help…but I couldn’t.” Conner began to wheeze.
“Shhh sweeties, its okay, don’t talk anymore.” Betty picked up her son and carried him to the kitchen counter reaching for the faded tan phone on the wall. Pulling open a drawer she reached for Conner’s inhaler, “take it quick.” Her fingers shook as she dialed the numbers on the phone, “911, I’d like to report a kidnapping!”
* * *
Gabby’s still limp body was slung over the mans shoulder as he kicked in the door to the old root cellar and descended the few wooden plank stairs to her dungeon, which was pretty much what it was. The root cellar built into the side of small hill resembled a dungeon of old. The floor was nothing more than dirt and decomposing straw. Wooden shelves lined the walls of the dark room frequented by aging jars of canned fruit. He slid the limp body off his shoulders and laid her in the corner of the dark room. Damp feeling settled in the air, and the smell of mold and dirt permeated his nose as he breathed in a deep sigh of accomplishment. The small ten by ten room held no light at all except for the setting sun streaming through the open door way, but when it was shut, the lights were out. He looked around the room once more to make sure that he was satisfied and noticed the pink ribbon lying loosely next to her head and a silver cross necklace draped across her neck. He didn’t have time to nicely remove either item so he ripped off the necklace and grabbed the pink ribbon; this caused Gabby to flutter her eyelids open. She fought only a little when she realized she couldn’t move and that a handkerchief now gagged her mouth. All the fight was gone from her now as the chloroform still held her in its effects.
“Nighty Night,” the evil man snickered before backing out of the room and slamming shut the door behind him. Gabby listened closely and heard the faint sound of metal being tinkered with and then silence. Hot tears came quickly as she realized she was all alone, with that she cried herself to sleep.
* * *
Conner watched the cop cars pull up and the police mingle around the house from his perch on the gurney in the back of an ambulance. The back doors were open allowing police to enter and talk to him. The oxygen mask he wore made hissing noises as he breathed in the cool refreshing air.
“How do your lungs feel bud?” Luke cool EMT asked him.
“Alright,” Luke said, he pulled the oxygen mask up off the boy’s face, “Can you say, I like my dog better than your dog.” Conner repeated the phrase pausing between dog and better. It signaled Luke that he still needed more oxygen. Conner looked around the small space in the ambulance and pointed to the orange board behind Luke.
“That is called a back board. We use it when some one gets in a car accident and hurts their back. It keeps them from hurting it more.”
“Oh,” Conner said. “But doesn’t it hurt?”
“Yeah I guess it does after you’ve laid on it for a while it can me uncomfortable.” Luke smiled and looked down at Conner’s tear stained face. Streaks of dirt ran down his cheeks from the tears. Luke turned around and grabbed a wipe from beside him. He began cleaning the boys face. “How you doing bud?” he asked, concerned with more than just his asthma. Conner looked away and then back out the window toward the policemen, and investigators that now roamed around.
“Do you think they’ll find her?” The question took Luke by surprise. He sighed, reaching down a firm hand and brushing back stray hairs that crept across Conner’s forehead.
“They’ll do their best buddy…they’ll do their best.” Luke watched now as a red Sudan pulled in the driveway of the house next door. Two obviously frantic parents leapt from the car as soon as it stopped and ran to meet the many investigators that now littered the drive like ants on a cheerio. Luke broke his concentration when he heard the sniffles from Conner who was now curled up in the fetal position crying into the pillow. Luke rested his hand on the boy’s back, “why don’t we close those doors for a little while.” Luke ducked his head and stepped over the gurney to reach the back doors, he shut each one, not wanting to reveal his anger. He loved his job, but when it came to things like this it angered him that someone would do something so wicked. “Come here,” he said to Conner picking him and placing him on his lap. It was all he could do to comfort him. Conner soon fell asleep in Luke’s arms, and Luke wanted to sleep himself. He was glad that they assigned him to work this scene the rest of the evening.
* * *
“I don’t understand why would someone take my baby girl?” Her red jacket rustled in the breeze. Rachel and Brian Barnes held onto each other as they stood before a pleasantly plump, graying and balding cop.
“Ma’am I can assure you we are doing everything we can do right now.” He said with haste.
“How do you know, are you looking for her?” Rachel watched man as jaw worked, the oversized mustache wriggled like a hairy caterpillar yellowed from too many cigarettes.
“There’s a tactical team inside your home setting up a tracking system on your phone right now,” he paused, “for the moment we’d like to take you inside and ask you a few questions.” Rachel placed her hand over her mouth; the reality of everything hit her all at once. Brian wrapped a reassuring arm around her shaking shoulders and planted a light kiss on her forehead. Rachel turned around and sank into the strong arms of her husband. She sobbed, she couldn’t hold herself together, her little baby girl was missing.
“Rachel,” Brian ran his fingers through his wife’s hair. “It’ll be okay.”
“But Brian,” she pushed herself away and started to say something more but Brian reached up and placed his finger over her lips to silence her. Once again he wrapped his strong arms around her slender figure.
“Shhh, it’s okay. Let’s go inside,” he said solemnly. His arm locked around her back, as the walked inside their two-story home.
* * *
Gabby opened her eyes the tears she had cried earlier caused a crust to form over her eyelashes. She couldn’t wipe at it with her hands so she used each shoulder to try to wipe away the crust. With her eyes finally cleared she looked around but it was pitch black, she couldn’t see a thing. A mouse came out of nowhere and climbed over her. Gabby squealed past the gag and began to cry again, wondering if the kidnapper would come back, how long she had been there and if they would ever find her. She used her shoulder to try to move the gag away from her drying mouth, but it wouldn’t budge.
She whimpered wriggling her hands to get free of the bindings but it was no good, the ropes burned her skin and were extremely tight. She was on her side and tried lifting herself up to a sitting position. But she couldn’t so she remained on her side.
* * *
“Have you seen anyone suspicious around Gabby recently?” The officer with the mustache asked.”
“No, we’ve been away; Betty and John Manning from down the street were taking care of her for the weekend.” Brian said calmly.
“Do you have anyone in your past that would want to hurt your daughter?” The caterpillar on the mans’ lip danced again as he chewed a piece of spearmint gum.
“No, not that we can think of.” Brian racked his brain trying to think of anyone that would hurt his little girl. He and John Manning owned a restoration business; they restored old homes and then sold them on the market for a profit. His mind went to a young man who they’d had living with them for a little while, until they realized that he wasn’t a great influence on Gabby, that was two years ago and Brian hadn’t seen him in about that long.
“Garret Davenport,” Brian said. Rachel gave her husband a knowing glance. Garret had worked for the business. He was accused of using drugs and also distributing them as well. He sent letters and emails to Brian and John threatening their business and their families. After telling the story to Daniel Hill the police chief and Jack Kranz the lead investigator on the case it was nearing midnight. It had been a long day; they had filled out missing person’s paperwork, and had given the investigators some of Gabby’s clothing for scent dogs to use to try to track her.
“Alright at least that’s a start,” Investigator Kranz said, he was younger than his caterpillar counterpart with a full head of dark hair. Another, younger officer walked up to the group.
“Excuse me, Chief,” the officer paused he held a white envelope in a trembling hand. “You might want to see this.” He handed over the envelope. “We found it in the mail when we searched through it.” Daniel took the envelope. He pulled on a pair of gloves and lifted the flap carefully removing the white paper inside: inside was a short note, neatly typed with a typewriter:
I HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER. IF YOU WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN, DELIVER $10,000 TO THE INTERSECTION OF THIRD AND VINE IN AN UNMARKED DUFFEL BAG AT MIDNIGHT ON SUNDAY 10/19/86
Daniel read the note to the parents, watching the myriad of emotions that crossed their faces, sorrow, desperation, and sadness. But there still remained a ray of hope in both of their eyes. He could tell that the two still thought that their daughter was still alive somewhere. But the emotional stress had already taken its toll on the mom. Rachel sat gripping a small teddy bear that belonged to their daughter; mascara stained her face from tears, her eyes bloodshot. Daniel gave them time to take in the evidence of the note, watching their reaction to see if he saw anything that would indicate that they already knew what it said but he saw nothing.
“As an officer I should probably advise you that paying the ransom isn’t always the best thing to do. You don’t really have an idea of who you are working with and the ransom could be a con. Not all kidnappers who send a ransom note have the intention of actually following through. For all we know he could be bluffing, he could be out of the area by now, and your daughter could already…”He paused knowing that Rachel and Brian didn’t want to hear that their daughter could already be dead.
“Please,” Rachel said fighting back the never ending tears, “don’t tell me that my daughter is dead.” She said with exasperation. A slender finger was now pointed in his direction. Daniel resumed his watching; Brian looked away fighting tears of his own. Both were physically and emotionally worn out from all that had happened with in the last few hours.
“All I’m implying is that it’s possible and I don’t advise paying the ransom.” He fiddled with a pen in his hand; the stainless steel pen was standard on the job because of its ability to resist bacteria. He was as nervous as them. He flicked his wrist and glanced at the silver wrist watch. It was late; he decided that stationing police officers at the house for the rest of the night would suffice, everyone had been through enough and they had already done all that they could.
“I think I will let you go for tonight. Get some rest I don’t think that were done yet.” The four stood, Brian and Rachel walked the two through the maze of furniture to the oak door. “There will be police officers stationed inside your house and around the perimeter. There will be police down at the Manning’s too.”
“We’re doing the best we can ma’am,” The chief extended a plump hand to each of them and shook hands, “we have search teams out there with dogs and people in the air. If she’s out there, we’ll find her.”
“Thanks,” Brian said, the sick feeling he had in his stomach all day settled deeper, he knew that sleep wouldn’t come easy tonight.
* * *
Three Days Later
Gabby looked toward the tiny flecks of light that filtered through cracks in the door, she was too tired to sit up anymore. Her stomach ached for food and her head hurt. Her lips and mouth were parched. After hours of struggling she was able to slip the gag out of her mouth and around her neck. But her mouth still didn’t get the water that it longed for. She had cried all the tears she had and she was so dehydrated that she couldn’t cry any more. The room, the dungeon was cold and Gabby shivered constantly. Both her feet and hands ached from the ropes cutting into her skin. Her eyes fluttered open and shut, she fought the fatigue that overcame her. She watched the door again, wondering if her captor would return. She observed the small streams of light, a shadow passed by them quickly. She listened carefully; voices sounded outside the door along with the distant barking of a dog.
“Help,” she said hoarsely. Her voice barely a whisper, she began to cry again but it was only a mere whimper.
* * *
“Yeah it was right around here,” The older man pointed at a map, “guy walked in there with something. It was too dark to see what it was but I knew he wasn’t a good looking character.” The old man wore fade blue overalls and a flannel shirt. His John Deere hat was pulled over his aged and wrinkled forehead.
“Why didn’t you go in and check it out?” The investigator asked, hoping this was the break they needed.
“Can’t, the door’s got a dead bolt on it. I may be a farmer but I don’t have the tools to break through it. It’s pretty new, doesn’t have much rust on it. Figured that meant something. That’s why I came to you.” Pete the older man sat across from the police chief and the investigator. A map of the area showed an abandoned farmland, “I know which cellar it is, if you want me to take you there. It’s ‘bout an hour up the road.” After exchanging glances the investigator and chief packed up essential items, rounded up the necessary police officers and headed out. Daniel Hill hoped that this was the lead they were looking for; he took each step with caution. Earlier in the week they faked the ransom drop but the man who took the bag got away, he searched the bag and when he realized that it wasn’t real he tossed it.
The cruisers headed out of town with the Pete in the lead vehicle pointing them in the direction of the farm land and the root cellar.
* * *
Metal clanked outside the door again, scaring Gabby. But she was barely conscious when the handful of men stormed the dark room with guns and flashlights. It was all she could do to keep her eyes open while the men with the guns holstered them and came to her aid. One quickly cut the bindings on her arms, another her feet. EMT’s rushed in with a gurney and medical supplies, one of them was Luke, the same one that had taken care of Conner. They worked quickly to stabilize her, inserting an IV into the fragile girls’ little arm. She winced but soon the activity around her faded and she fell asleep on the gurney on her way to the hospital. She was scared but she knew she was safe.
Monday morning traffic was slow going. No faster than the drive-thru line at McDonalds where she picked up a steaming cup of almost fresh coffee before heading to the hospital to begin her morning rounds. As traffic lurched forward the smell of her coffee tempted her to have a bit, but Gabby was fully aware that her, moving cars, and hot liquid were not a good combination. The inside of her beat up Pontiac was proof that she was a messy eater in the car. Gabby wanted to get a new car and with the money she’d saved up she would soon be able to see to it that it happened. She had her sights set on a new Honda CR-V in a the green tea color with ivory colored interior, that would be undoubtedly scotch guarded against future stains.
Gabby Barnes ascended the stairs of the ever growing hospital knowing that the stairs were much better for her than the elevators which ran too slow anyway. She was late as it was from the traffic and her job called to her. She worked as a pediatric nurse on the Children’s ward at Lancaster General Hospital. She loved working with the kids because they loved to laugh. They took things better than most adults did, and they enjoyed the simple pleasures of life.
“Hi Jen, how’s it going this morning?” Gabby asked Jen as she paused at the large central desk on the floor.
“Great, I’ve got some charts ready for you to look at as soon as you get settled in.” Jen patted a file of folders on the desk and swiveled her chair around to attend to other business. Gabby walked around the desk to the coat room and hung up her light jacket and set down the tote bag and purse she carried with her. She set the now warm cup of coffee near her place at the desk and sat down, savoring a few sips of the rich taste of her the coffee before opening up the first folder on the stack.
“Jen, I thought Cassie Miller was being released?”
“She was going to be, but Cassie tried to make it to the bathroom on her own and tripped, guess which arm she landed on?” Gabby winced at Jens’ answer. Cassie and Gabby had quickly made friends since she was first admitted to the hospital. The little girl was playing on the monkey bars at school, on the top of them to be exact, when she lost her footing. The result was a painfully broken arm that required sedation to set it and a few days hospital stay.
“Did they have to any surgery?” Gabby asked with concern, still sipping the McDonalds brew.
“No, Dr. Hearst just sedated her and did his thing without doing any invasive stuff.”
“Good. And how is Cole doing, the one with diabetes?” Gabby asked flipping open another file folder.
“Cole is adjusting. He still doesn’t like getting the insulin shots, though I’ve assured him that he’ll get used to it. He doesn’t believe me.” Jen smiled and looked down at the teal insulin pump that hung on her blue scrubs. “In fact I think he is due for one soon, would you like to do the honors?” Jen asked holding up the syringe and bottle of insulin that she’d picked up from the medicine chart.
“Oh sure, there’s nothing I love more than sticking little kids with needles and making them cry.” Gabby said sarcastically. She pulled herself up and took the instrument of pain from Jen. There was really only one thing that Gabby disliked in her job, giving shots. She didn’t mind receiving them, though the ability to stand a sharp object being plunged into her skin took some time to get used to. “I’ll do it this time as long as you promise to do it later. Beside you know more about this stuff from personal experience.”
“Alright I promise, oh you might want to go see Cassie soon, she kept asking me about you when I went in to see her this morning. Shows how much the kids love me.” Jen pretended to sniffle.
“Oh hush, every kid loves you and you know it.”
“Yeah I know, now get out of here and deliver that medicine.”
Gabby walked down the spacious hallway to the room where Cole Jefferson was staying. His mom and dad sat on either side of the bed as he told them some story of a giant creature. As near as Gabby could tell it was his latest dream. Cole had only graced the children’s ward at the hospital for a few days, but it didn’t take very long before the staff knew about the kids’ wild imagination. Gabby wrote a few notes down first and calculated the amount of insulin that he needed before interrupting the story of the huge bug that tried to eat him before he narrowly escaped.
“Sorry to interrupt bud, but it’s time for your insulin,” Gabby donned a pair of purple latex gloves and grabbed an alcohol swab. She pulled up the sleeve of Cole’s hospital pajamas as he squinted and braced himself for the needles attack. “I promise you won’t feel a thing. Why don’t you keep telling the story Cole, but keep your arm still.” Cole continued and Gabby finished.
“I thought you were going to give me a shot?” the little voice asked.
“I did, you just weren’t paying attention. Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t feel a thing?”
“Yeah I guess” Cole threw his head back into the pillow as a sign of defeat.
“Good.” Gabby rustled the boy’s hair before leaving the room and heading down a few to the room of her new friend Cassie.
“Well good morning little girl, I heard you were looking for me.”
“Gabby!” Cassie beamed extending her good arm to Gabby for a hug. She sat up in her bed with her little arm hoisted onto a pillow, little pudgy fingers protruded from the cotton and ace bandage prison.
“Hey cutie, what’s this I hear you fell on your way to the potty?”
“I had to go potty really bad, but I tripped.” She thrust out her bottom lip and made a puppy dog face for Gabby. The five year old was irresistible.
“I heard, and Dr. Ryan had to fix your arm again.”
“Yeah but he’s real nice, he even said when I’m done with this cast that he’ll give me a pink one so I can be a princess.”
“Is that so?”
“Uh-huh, and mommy says I can too!” Cassie was as cute as a button, her straight blond hair stuck out in wisps all over the place indicative of major bed head and her big blue eyes lit up every time she talked.
“Is mommy coming in soon?”
“No she had to work, but its okay I know you’ll take care of me.”
“That’s right, why don’t I have Molly come and comb your hair for you and maybe wash you up a bit.” Gabby tweaked Cassie’s cheek. Molly was a nursing assistant just like Gabby had been and loved working with the kids.
“Okay.” Cassie leaned back in the hospital bed.
“Alright, well she’ll be in here in a few minutes.”
After Gabby helped Molly get set up with the stuff for Cassie’s bath she sat down again to review the files. She read through a few and sipped her coffee making notes on what she needed to do the rest of that morning. With the number of patients she had, it was likely to be a busy morning.
“I honestly don’t know how you drink that stuff.” The well cadenced voice of a man spoke up from above the counter. His chiseled face, sandy blond hair and gray blue eyes were enough to make any girl melt. Even though Gabby had known the handsome doctor for quite sometime she was still occasionally taken a back by the resident orthopedic doctor.
“Dr. Hearst,” she said her attention now away from the charts at hand.
“Coffee not only tastes like mud, especially when it’s black, but it’s not very good for you either.” He smiled a heart stopping smile, one white enough that even Mr. Clean would have a hard time finding a speck of plaque or tartar on it.
“Well, I happen to like it and besides you wouldn’t want to see me without my cup of java in the morning.”
“You know somehow I can imagine that it’s not too pretty.”
“Hey watch it,” she tossed a wadded up post-it-note at him, “just because I implied it doesn’t mean you have to agree.”
“I’m only kidding Gabby,” he took a pen from the pocket of his animal plastered scrubs and made few notes on a patient chart, “so how’s my favorite patient this morning?”
“If you’re referring to me, I’m not a patient. But if you’re referring to Cassie Miller, I’d say she on the mend. She was definitely excited about getting a pink princess cast.”
“And on my honor she’ll have one,” he smiled again and Gabby couldn’t help but stare. “See you later Gabby this knight is off to see the princess himself.” She couldn’t help but laugh at his antics, he was a kid himself, and no wonder all the kids loved him so much.
Gabby continued her rounds and was busy up until noon when she took her lunch. She grabbed a purple lunch bag from her tote and headed to the cafeteria on the lower floor near the emergency room. She sat in silence for a while enjoying a sweet bologna and cheese sandwich as she read one of the newest Love Inspired books that happened to be by her favorite author. But her attention went toward the scene outside the large bay windows that looked out into the city streets. Two ambulances pulled into the drive and unloaded paramedics and patients from its rear end doors. Gabby watched as another ambulance pulled in. Not a good sign she thought, three at once wasn’t a usual happening. She watched for a few more minutes before deciding to return to her book but as she did a person jumped from back of a fourth ambulance, it was a familiar face. Gabby couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She thought she was only hallucinating but she looked a second longer and knew she was right. Her old friend was in town.
The ER was now super busy and she had been called in to assist in a pediatric case. The ambulances had brought in four people from a bad car wreck that happened on the highway. The little girl that lay on the hospital gurney was still unconscious A rescue worker explained that she was trapped in a crushed vehicle, the car seat she was in had broken on impact when a large truck careened into the passenger side door where she sat. A large laceration scored her forehead and other small cuts and bruises painted her tanned skin. Her right leg was being placed in a traction device until the orthopedic doctor could determine whether the fracture needed surgery or not. From the looks of the x-ray this little girl would have a few pins and screws in her right femur, one of the hardest bones in the human body to break. Nurses and doctors swarmed around the body of the little girl, and Gabby assisted, giving fluids and a unit of blood until the wheeled her away to take an MRI of her head; the broken leg would wait until they knew that she was completely stabilized. It had been touch and go for the half hour that Gabby was in the room. The little girl struggled to hang on. Gabby sighed and slumped against the door to the decorated room designed specifically for pediatric patients. Gabby hated to see kids that were in serious condition who might not make it. As for the little girl there was still hope. She prayed a quick silent prayer for the little girl before heading back up to her ward.
Gabby searched among the rescue workers as she walked toward the stairs, trying to get a glimpse of the man that she saw earlier but she didn’t have any luck seeing him again. Maybe I am hallucinating she thought and continued on her way.
The pediatric ward was quiet now as most of the patients took naps, giving Gabby a little time to relax. The lines of worry for the little girl and of confusion from seeing an old friend crossed her face.
“Gabs are you okay?” Jen asked her.
“Yeah I’m okay, I was just thinking about the little girl in the ER. The guy who hit her car was drunk. I wish they could ban alcohol, it would make our lives a whole lot easier sometimes.”
“True but the world isn’t perfect.”
“I know, I just wish it were,” Gabby twirled her chair around to face Jen making Gabby’s back turned to hallway.
“My mom always said you can’t have everything you wish for.” Jen was wise for her age and a Christian too like Gabby; they both attended the same church. “So,” Jen smirked, “I saw you talking to Dr. Ryan today, how did it go?”
“Oh, come on Jen, you know I’m not interested, even though he is drop dead gorgeous.”
“Is that so, well maybe I’ll have to work on that.” Gabby’s mouth dropped open and she sat still for a moment before slowly turning her chair to face the tall doctor.
“Hi Ryan,” she said calmly. Her heart raced and heat flushed her cheeks. She may not have been interested in the man, but she wasn’t blind to his physique. “Excuse me a moment.” Gabby swiveled back around and eyed her friend who still had a wide grin plastered on her face and suppressed giggles that were about to erupt like Mount Vesuvius. But the death glare Gabby sent her was enough to pickle a cucumber and sent Jen turning back around to the large desk. Gabby turned to face Ryan again, “so how are you doing?” Gabby looked at Ryan who was trying to suppress laughter of his own.
“I’m doing good Gabby, how are you?”
“Slightly embarrassed, were you standing there the whole time?”
“I only heard my name walking down the hall and then you say something about me being drop dead gorgeous.”
“I see, well I must be off. I need to go do… something.” Gabby stood and walked to the bathroom. The one place Ryan couldn’t follow her. Since he was staff he had every right to go into any employee lounge or coat room that he wanted. Gabby resisted the urge to like him; pretty much any single nurse with a brain knew that Ryan was attractive, charming and single. To Gabby the fact that he was also a Christian made him harder to resist. Everyone also knew that Ryan very interested in Gabby and they were bent on getting them together. Gabby stood in the bathroom for a few minutes before deciding to return to the land of embarrassment, hoping that Ryan was gone. Too bad not all wishes come true she thought. Ryan was still standing at the desk. Gabby contemplated for a second about returning to the bathroom but it was too late, he caught sight of her.
“Gabby, I came up here to ask you a question.” He flashed that white smile again, “Would you like to have dinner sometime?”
“I,” she thought for a moment before answering. If she said no, all of the girls would get on her for not accepting a date with the most eligible bachelor. “Sure why not,” she said, resigned. It wouldn’t hurt, maybe after going out with him her mind would change or she could let him down easy.
“Great, how does Thursday sound?”
“Sounds good, what time will I need to be ready?” Gabby asked, wondering if he would be a gentleman and offer to pick her up.
“I’ll pick you up around 5:30”
“Okay, see you then.” Gabby smiled and waved good bye. What have I done? She tossed her head back into the cushioned chair and watched until Ryan disappeared down the hallway, “you can laugh now,” she said to Jen who still sat the opposite way from Gabby.
Jen laughed and squealed as she jumped out of the chair and rushed to Gabby’s side. “Do you know who you just accepted a date with?”
“Yes Jen, and I prefer that it not be considered a date. I should have told the poor guy the truth.”
“You really aren’t interested in him are you?”
“There’s no…spark” Gabby said.
“Then why didn’t you tell him, ‘no’?”
“Because…I don’t know I just didn’t. Maybe after this ‘date’ I’ll realize how I really feel and if I still don’t like him, I’ll tell him.”
“Alright, whatever you say” Jen teased her best friend and settled back into her work. Their shifts neared the end and they did their final rounds making notes for the incoming nurses. Gabby visited Cassie and Cole before gathering her things to leave. Jen stood next to her in the coat room.
“See you tomorrow Gabby!”
“Bye,” Gabby said and walked out of the coat room and toward the stairs.
Lightning and thunder joined along with the rain as she made her way home, but before she reached home she needed to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few items that her cabinets were now missing. Her trip to the grocery store didn’t take long and soon she was headed toward the highway on her way home. The by-pass this time of night was a mad house from everyone and their brother going home for the evening. Gabby squeezed her way onto 222 and worked her way through more traffic in the thick darkness that settled from the black rain clouds. She passed a large pickup truck to get off on the Ephrata exit. She turned onto 322 and got in the lane leading to Wal-Mart, she thought of something else she needed to get and decided to stop. She looked in her rearview mirror before pulling into a lane leading to the turning lane. The headlights appeared suddenly and slammed into the rear end of her small car. The slick roads caused her to spin out of control and a second impact from the side spun her off the side of the road, her car hit the metal guardrail. Her body slammed against the door and she felt the arm that grasped the steering wheel snap, glass broke as she hit her head on the driver’s side window and everything went black.