Deadly Recall by T.R. Ragan

 

PROLOGUE

“Dad?”

Stiff from hours of sitting beside his daughter’s hospital bed, he lifted his head. Had he heard Hannah’s voice? Or was he dreaming?

“You need to be strong, Dad.”

He blinked to clear his vision. The curtains were drawn, leaving the hospital room drenched in gloomy shadows. His mind was muddled, weighed down by the emotional roller coaster of the past few weeks. He’d grown used to the smell of antiseptics and the faint beeping of machines, but he would never get used to the idea that his twenty-five-year-old daughter might be dying. Life without Hannah was unimaginable. She meant everything to him. Just as her mother had been, Hannah was filled with light and energy.

So much energy.

“Hannah,” he said in a throaty whisper. “Are you okay? What can I get you?”

When was the last time he’d heard his daughter’s voice? Two days ago? Maybe three?

“Hannah,” he said again. “Are you thirsty? What is it?”

No answer.

It wasn’t until he heard the drumming of what sounded like dozens of feet slapping against the tile floor outside the room that he realized the beeps from the machine had become one long, steady sound.

“Hannah!” he cried as the door opened and the lights were switched on, shedding clarity on the cold, hard reality of what his life had become—grief and sadness. So much sadness.

Hannah’s eyes were closed, her skin the color of newly poured cement. Her hand was curled within his grasp. He could no longer see the rise and fall of her chest, no signs of movement or life. “Hannah,” he whispered. “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.”

One of the nurses examined the machine while the doctor and another nurse worked around all the tubes and wires, checking vital signs.

Another alarm sounded, giving him a tinge of hope.

But nothing had changed. The oximeter was removed from Hannah’s finger, and the machine was turned off.

A deafening silence followed.

The doctor wrote on Hannah’s chart, then looked at him. Hollow words spilled out, one over the other, before he spoke to the closest nurse and then exited the room.

The door clicked shut, sending a wave of panic through his body. Do something, he thought as he watched one of the nurses remove the IV from Hannah’s arm while the other simply gave him a sorrowful look.

He looked at Hannah, willing her eyes to open. Please, don’t go.

A hand came to rest on his shoulder, and he broke down and sobbed.