After She's Gone (West Coast 3) - Page 87

As they rounded a final curve, the entrance to Mercy Hospital came into view. Cassie’s hands clenched over the wheel and though she fought it, she felt her pulse elevate a notch. She hadn’t left the hospital under the best of conditions and she expected nothing more than a frosty reception.

Which she got at the front desk when she asked to see Steven Rinko.

“Miss Kramer,” the woman seated importantly behind the counter said. “You of all people should know hospital policy. When you were a patient here, and you specifically asked for your privacy, we ensured it.” Her beady eyes, intense behind rimless glasses, drilled straight into Trent, who was standing next to Cassie, but Trent’s gaze had drifted to the reception area.

Cassie said, “If you asked him, I’m certain Steven would want to talk to me.”

“His family has asked for his privacy.” Staunch. Unmoving. A gleam of satisfaction in her eyes that she had this authority, the keys to the kingdom, as it were.

“We can wait while someone contacts him,” Cassie said.

The woman flashed a grim, unyielding smile. “I’ll contact his doctor and then we’ll see. Unfortunately Dr. Sherling is out of the hospital now, in clinic, I think, so you might be waiting a while and even then . . .” She lifted her slim, stiff shoulders. “. . . you might not be in luck.” Again the cold grin with no hint of teeth showing. “Why don’t you leave a message for Dr. Sherling and go out and go shopping or grab a bite? Portland’s known for its great restaurants, you know, farm fresh, organic and all that. Then call back. I’ll see what I can do.”

Cassie’s temper started to boil. “Just tell Steven we’re here.”

“I’m sorry.” She folded her hands, fingers neatly manicured. “Are we going to have a problem, Ms. Kramer?”

Cassie’s temper went through the stratosphere. “No problem, Connie,” she gritted out, knowing the woman always went by Constance.

The receptionist’s lips pulled into a knot of disapproval. “I can call security, if you’d like.”

“What I’d like is to talk to Steven Rinko. Now tell him we’re here to see him and—” She felt Trent’s hand on her shoulder and stopped midsentence.

“And?” Constance prompted, raising her plucked brows above the tops of her rimless glasses.

“We’ll be back,” Trent replied calmly.

Cassie was having none of it. “I want to see Steven.” She tried to shrug off Trent’s hand, but his grip tightened. He was folding? Just like that? After he’d come up with this wild theory and they’d driven over an hour to get here? He was ready to just walk out the door?

“Let’s go.” He started pulling on her arm a little too hard.

“Ouch!” She actually winced.


She started to answer, then said, “Nothing.” She didn’t want to go into it about the cat scratches.

“Come on.” He said the words through a taut smile, and his gaze, when she found it, drilled into hers as if he was sending her some unspoken message. What the hell was wrong with him?

“I need to talk to—”

“Rinko. I know. We will.” With an iron grip he ushered her to the front door and down the steps.

“We came all this way—”

“I know.” He marched her all the way to the car and she wanted to slap him, but obviously something was going on. “Get behind the wheel.”

“For the love of God, Trent.” But when he opened the Honda’s door and released her, she slid inside and waited until he climbed into the passenger seat. “Are you going to tell me what the hell’s going on? Or have you just decided to be a moronic brute all of a sudden?”

“Start the engine.”

With an effort Cassie fought her natural inclination to argue and switched on the ignition. The motor sparked to life as she said, “Happy now?” sarcastically.

He didn’t answer, just rolled down his window. As soon as the glass lowered, from out of nowhere Steven Rinko’s head popped up, his face framed in the open space. He was crouched down beside the car, his body hidden from view of the hospital by the SUV.

Cassie physically started before she recognized him, his hair wet, rain running down his face. She turned her gaze on Trent. “How did you know?”

“He gave me the high sign in the reception area,” Trent said quickly, then turned to Rinko and said, “You sent a message to Cassie using Dr. Sherling’s phone, didn’t you?”

Tags: Lisa Jackson West Coast Mystery
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