LOLA SMACKED THE BUTTON in the elevator and cursed. Why couldn't Dr. Trapp just tell her the information on the phone? He had to show her? Besides, she hadn't been interested in the details of Eddie's mom's autopsy. That wasn't going to help her treat Eddie.
She hated coming to the morgue, even in the middle of the day. The pathology department was around the corner from the elevator, and they kept their doors closed. So if Dr. Trapp or his assistant wasn't in the morgue, the place was deserted unless the coroner's van was delivering a body...or two.
As the elevator swooshed down, Lola checked her watch. Jack and Lesley should be wrapping things up. A spiral of anxiety whirled in her stomach. Would Jack's memory return? Would he be able to give her some information on Gabe? Would he walk out of her life forever?
She held on to the strap of her purse with two hands. The man already had a fully formed life somewhere else. He didn't belong in hers. If he hadn't lost his memory, they never would've met each other in person. He would've remained that disembodied voice over a prepurchased cell phone. That disembodied, sexy voice over the phone. He'd set her blood on fire with that voice alone. What he did to her in person...
The elevator doors squeaked as they slid open. She'd have to put in a work order for this elevator. Every time they opened or shut, it sounded like someone screeching. Not a great noise for a hospital...or a morgue.
The long hallway yawned to her left, empty, as usual. The pathology department had set up shop to her right and around the corner, but nobody from that department was in sight. An emergency exit led to an alley on one side, and a larger door next to it provided access for the coroner's van or ambulances to drop off their lifeless cargo.
This time she didn't have a key to the morgue. She'd returned it, but she'd just gotten the notice from Dr. Trapp, so he should still be here.
Her boot heels clipped on the floor, echoing in the cavernous emptiness. She grabbed the handle of the door and bumped it with her hip. It didn't budge. She knocked and put her ear to the door. No response.
Cupping her face, she rested the edge of her hand against the narrow window and peered inside the lighted room. She didn't have a clear view of the entire room, so someone could be in there with the corpses. She jiggled the handle.
She sensed a whisper of movement from her right side, and before she could turn around she smelled the ether.
Lola's heart hammered in her chest. She flattened her body against the door and turned her face away from her attacker.
A strong hand gripped the back of her neck while a white cloth descended toward her face. A scream gurgled in her throat, but she didn't want to open her mouth. She pressed her lips together, dragged a ragged breath in through her nose and held it.
Her assailant smashed the damp cloth against her nose and mouth. The ether caused her nostrils to twitch and tingle. Lowering her shoulder, she plowed into the man, and the cloth on her face slipped.
Lola puffed out a quick breath and sucked in another before the man could readjust the cloth over her face. She reached out her arms to claw at his face, and her fingers met soft material. A black ski mask covered his head and face.
Her lungs ached and she sipped a small breath. The tingling sensation grew stronger, and her limbs felt heavy. Before she lost use of them completely, she kicked out at her attacker and made contact.
He grunted and ground the cloth against her face harder. He just might smother her before he knocked her out.
The elevator dinged, and the tinny, inconsequential sound gave Lola a surge of strength. She smacked her fist against the powerful hand that covered her mouth, but the smack ended up more a pat as the insidious fumes of the ether invaded her brain.
Her attacker began dragging her down the hallway toward the exit as Lola fought for control. The elevator doors squeaked open, and Lola prayed that someone was in that car.
A man's voice. Jack's voice, unless she'd descended into some ether-induced dream state.
She hit the floor and her head banged against the wall. Footsteps. Running. Shouting. The metal exit door clanged open and then shut and then open again.
Lola wiped the sleeve of her sweater across her nose and mouth, afraid to breathe deeply but wanting desperately to dilute the ether clouding her senses.