“It was no problem, Ms. Finch, but you should call him back when you get the chance. I think he wishes to speak to you regarding your accident now that you’re awake.”
She nodded but looked down at her hands.
“As for the results of your CAT scan, you are experiencing a slight bit of swelling, consistent with a mild concussion.”
“What does that mean, Doc?” Casper asked, trying to mimic the man’s cool demeanor.
“It means that for the time being, I’d like to have you stay here and be monitored for any residual effects. However, I think it would be safe to send you home tomorrow. You will just need to rest and everything should sort itself out.” He tapped on his tablet like he was noting something in her chart. “You are a lucky woman. A TBI, or a traumatic brain injury, can have a number of long-term effects, but from what I’m seeing on your scans, you should be okay.”
Casper let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. In a day that had been filled with nothing but death, despair, accidents and blood...something was finally going right.
Lex took a tentative step out of the car as Casper raced around from the driver’s side to help her into her house. He wrapped his arm around her waist and took hold of her arm as he cradled her body against him. He was so...warm. In fact, he was so warm that she wanted to move closer to him, to rest her body against him and let his heat ease the pain that seemed to pulse from her bruised and battered body. He smelled of hospital, but beneath the sharp odor of antiseptic was the heady scent of his sweat and the tangy edge of fresh air. She closed her eyes and took his scent deep into her lungs, trying to remember it for those nights that she would be alone.
“Do you need anything for your house? Groceries? Anything?” Casper asked.
“No, uh, I think I got everything I need.” She looked over at him as she spoke and saw his face was tight, just like it had been when the doctor had been in her hospital room last night. It was sweet that he was so worried about her, but he needn’t be; she was strong. “Thanks for giving me a ride—and for keeping the car on the road this time,” she joked, trying to make light of the accident.
Her joke fell flat as his brow furrowed and a storm brewed in his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Lex. I...I never wanted you to get hurt—”
She stopped him by pressing her finger to his lips. The instant she touched him, a strange buzz of energy filled her and she quickly lowered her hand. “You—it wasn’t your fault. It was unavoidable. That car came at us. Seriously, don’t worry. Everything is fine. And hey, at least it was a work truck, right?” She struggled to find the right words to make him feel better, and to quell the surging need to touch him again.
He looked at her and some of the darkness in his eyes lifted. Before he could say anything, she stepped out of his cradling arms and hurried toward her house.
The log cabin was dark brown and its windows were trimmed with white, and like most of the other buildings of the park, it radiated with a cozy, rustic charm that always beckoned her home. She’d spent the last few summers holed up in the tiny building with Travis, often hating its inconsistent hot water and the electricity that seemed to come and go depending on the weather, but regardless of its downfalls she loved the place.
Yet it felt strange walking up the path with a man who wasn’t Travis. In fact, the night he’d left, she had sworn that, as long as she lived there, he would be the last man who would ever set foot in this place. Then again, Casper wasn’t anything like Travis.
He was handsome...maybe even a little too handsome for her liking. Every nurse who had come into her room had kept their eyes on him a moment too long. It had been tempting to show the women that he was hers, but the truth was just the opposite. He was nothing more than a work colleague...albeit a work colleague who hadn’t left her side since the accident.
More than simply being handsome, he had a kind side. Often he tried to act tough, all business, but when he’d stepped between her and Travis in the hospital she had caught a glimpse of the sensitive and caring side that he tried to hide from the world.
She glanced over at him, but his face was hidden in the shadow cast by his hat. Maybe she was wrong; maybe she had an idealized version of who he really was—she had a terrible habit of doing that. She had sworn Travis was her knight in shining armor. At first it hadn’t mattered that her friends had warned her off; it didn’t matter when he told her who she could be friends with and what time she should come home, and it didn’t matter that for days on end he treated her like she was nothing more than his often neglected pet...coming and going as he pleased and not speaking to her for days. All that had mattered was that when he looked at her, the world stood still.
If only she had listened to what everyone had told her, and that tiny place in the back of her mind that had told her it was all too good to be true.
She couldn’t risk being hurt like that again. She doubted she could live through it a second time. “What did you do before you got stationed at Goat Haunt?” she asked as she unlocked the door.
Casper tensed at the question. He was so quiet that she wondered if he had even heard her.
“Yeah... I was in the FBI. Mostly specializing toward the end—handwriting analysis, that kind of thing.” He closed the door behind them and stood there, his back to her as he stared at the door like a trapped animal.
“Look, if you want, you can go. I think I can handle things from here.”
He took out his phone and glanced down at his screen. “No...it’s fine. Grant hasn’t gotten back to me yet. There’s nothing more for me to do until I hear from him.”
“What all did he say?” she asked as she gingerly walked to the old, tattered brown couch and sat down. There was a threadbare quilt that hung over the back, one her foster mother had made her back in grade school. There was even a bit of purple nail polish she had carelessly spilled ages ago.
“The drugs are missing. He’s going to go back to the scene and check to make sure he didn’t miss anything.” Stuffing the phone into the breast pocket of his jean jacket, he sat down in the recliner across from her. “And he found a receipt.”
“A receipt? What do you mean?”
“It was jammed into the corner of the green bag.”
“I swear I looked everywhere in that thing... But I guess I could have missed it. Wait, do you think someone planted it, Mr. FBI?”
He cringed, but she wasn’t sure why.
He opened up his phone and pulled up the photos of the bag that they had taken on scene. “Regardless of how it got there, because we screwed up the chain of custody, the receipt can’t be used in court for anything. We can’t prove that it was or wasn’t there without reasonable doubt.”
“But it could help us figure out the vic’s identity, right?”
“I suppose,” he said, giving her a weak smile. “Right now though, you need to take care of yourself and just focus on getting some rest.” He stood up and grabbed the quilt off the back of the couch, wrapping it around her shoulders.
She caught his familiar scent and closed her eyes. She imagined pulling him down on the couch beside her, wrapping him in the blanket and letting him hold her. They could spend the day together, huddled in each other’s embrace and away from the hurt that filled the world around them.
Конец ознакомительного фрагмента.
Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес».
Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию