This was all so very wrong. Through the crack, she saw Nurse Keller approach the nurses’ station. From her elevated bed, she had a view of the curved desk that molded beneath the chest-high counter. Phones, equipment, and monitors were tucked beneath the counter and desk chairs on wheels moved from one station to the next.
Wide hallways fingered like tentacles on an octopus from the nurses’ station to the patient rooms. A bank of elevators was positioned across from control central. She couldn’t see them from her room but they were close enough that she heard the soft ding of bells announcing the elevator cars’ arrival on this the fourth floor, all day and deep into the night.
Cassie’s gaze followed Nurse Keller as she joined two other graveyard shift nurses. Tom was tall and lanky. His once-red hair was starting to gray and somehow, despite the constant Oregon drizzle, he boasted a perpetual tan. The third nurse was in her twenties, a pudgy blond woman whom Cassie didn’t recognize. They whispered among themselves and glanced in her direction, then the blonde giggled.
Cassie exhaled heavily. She was a celebrity of sorts. Both her sister and mother were far more famous than she, each an actress who had found the public’s favor, while her attempt to conquer Hollywood had been pretty dismal, but here, at Mercy Hospital, she’d finally found fame.
Not that she wanted it.
She’d heard her name whispered between the staff and sometimes people Cassie didn’t recognize, people she hoped were part of the medical community. She’d caught bits of conversations and had gleaned that there was more discussed than just her physical or mental condition—not that both weren’t juicy grist for the gossip mill on their own. But with Allie missing and her own hospitalization, Cassie had probably gained more fame, or notoriety, than she’d experienced in all her years of work in the film industry. Not that she really gave a crap right now. Her fame meant little with her sister gone missing and another woman dead in the freak accident on the movie set.
A soft, persistent ding caught the group of nurses’ attention and Tom and Nurse Keller hurried off, leaving the blonde to answer a phone, which she did with her back turned to Cassie’s doorway. Good.
From the bed, Cassie stole a glance at the window again. The rain had stopped, only a few lingering drops visible on the glass. The room seemed to lighten again and in the reflection she saw the door crack open farther, thin light seeping into the room from the hallway.
A stealthy figure slipped into the room.
Her heart clutched.
She whipped her head around just as the door shut with a soft thud. “What the—?” Her body tensed and she grabbed the nurse’s call button, but stopped before depressing it when she recognized Steven Rinko.
She let out her breath. Rinko was the weird kid who had been here longer than she and had the ability to move between rooms on stealthy footsteps, the staff rarely noticing. Around thirteen, with a shock of blond hair and skin starting to show signs of acne, he rarely spoke, but when he did, he seemed more genius than mentally challenged. Though usually silent, when prodded, Rinko could tell you every feature on every make and model of car ever designed in America or around the world, or he could rattle off the most insignificant baseball stat about anyone who’d ever played the sport in college or professionally. He hung with a small group of boys who were forever bickering. Why he was at Mercy Hospital, she didn’t know, nor, she supposed would she ever as she planned to spring herself by tomorrow or the day after. Enough with this place. She’d checked herself into the hospital and planned on checking herself out.
Now, Rinko sidled to her bed. He knew how to get around the security cameras, guards, and nursing staff, traveling the halls on stealthy feet, almost a ghost himself. “She was here,” he said in a whispered voice that cracked.
“I saw her too.”
Cassie’s skin seemed to shrink on her scalp as he reached forward and grabbed her hand. She bit back a scream as he turned her wrist over and dropped something into her hand. A bit of red, she saw, then recognized a tiny cross, one of the earrings the weird nurse had worn.
“Where did you get this?”