about that. Lonewolf’s my responsibility andno one’s laying a finger on him.”
Ella noted the respect mirrored in Betone’s words whenever he spoke of the man he’d been assigned to protect. In hard times, larger-than-life heroes reminded everyone of the best of human nature and gave them something to strive for. More than anything, Ella hoped that Adam would live up to the faith others had placed in him.
Ella put the phone away and checkedher pistol as she walked, verifying that her third clip was there, the one with the armor-piercing rounds. “We need to get to the hospital pronto. I’ll fill you in on the way.”
Fighting the urge to do the opposite, they left the department at a leisurely pace and without emergency lights, trying not to call attention to themselves. When they reached the highway, Justine picked up speed and turnedon the siren. “We’re clear, Ella. No tail.”
“When we arrive, go to Kevin’s room, I’ll head for the ICU. Until things calm down we’ll back up the officers guarding the two men.”
Chaos ruled in the hospital’s front parking lot as they pulled up, with cars blocking some of the rows and people milling around. Justine circled the action and headed towardthe emergency room entrance. They could seethe fire department at the scene and many members of the hospital staff were on the outside steps and sidewalks. Most were trying to see what was going on, while others were making themselves useful.
Once inside, Ella raced down the left corridor while Justine went straight. As Ella turned the corner of the long hall, she spotted someone wearing a dark green hooded sweatshirt, head covered, stridingpurposefully down the hall toward intensive care.
The fact that the person was wearing that type of clothing inside the building—this time of day and year—immediately got her attention. It seemed doubly odd when you considered that the temperature outside was in the high seventies. As the man turned the corner, Ella noticed the large bouquet of flowers in his left hand. The way he was restingit on top of his right hand seemed odd—unless he was trying to hide something.
That thought, and the fact that the person was wearing what was practically a convenience store robbery uniform, jolted her into immediate action. Ella spurted forward and called out, “You with the flowers—stop!”
The man didn’t even turn to look. Instead, he ignored her and picked up speed. He was less than twentyfeet from the twin doors leading to the ICU when he suddenly turned away and raced down an adjacent hallway, dropping the flowers.
Ella saw what had changed the suspect’s mind. Officer Betone, apparently having heard her shout, was peering out one of the windows in the ICU doors. Betone slipped out into the hall, his hand on the butt of his handgun. “Who was that?”
“Stay with Adam!” Ella yelled,sprinting after Hooded Guy.
As she turned the corner, a security guard came out of the stairwell door.
“What’s going on?” he yelled as she ran by.
“Hooded man with a gun. Secure the exits!” she answered, not slowing down.
As she raced down the corridor, she saw her suspect nearly collide with a cleaning cart one of the janitors was pushing down the hall. The suspect pointed his handgun atthe janitor, who jumped back instantly, trying to hug the wall.
Hooded Guy slid on the waxed floor, managed to sidestep the cart at the last second, then turned the corner.
“Police. Stop!” Ella ordered, but once again, he ignored her and kept running.
With only a waiting area at the end of this hall, the subject was trapped. “There’s no way out,” Ella called out to him, slowing to a brisk walk,pistol in hand. “Give it up.”
The man turned, dropped to a crouch, and took two quick shots.
As the bullets whined overhead, she dove behind the only available cover, a potted plant. Hesitant to return fire, not knowing what was behind the wall at the end of the hall or if anyone was in