Charity's Angel

Charity's Angel by Dallas Schulze Read Free Book Online

Book: Charity's Angel by Dallas Schulze Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dallas Schulze
back to their seats, she pressed one cup into Gabe's hand. He stared at it for a moment as if uncertain of its purpose and then murmured his thanks before taking a swallow.
    The problem was that Gabriel London was basically too damn sensitive to make a good cop. She studied him openly, knowing he was too absorbed in his thoughts to notice. There were those who took one look at his easy smile and the casual way he approached most things and labeled him a lightweight.
    But Annie knew differently. In the years they'd been partners, she'd learned that there was no one more dependable than Gabe. And there was no one less deserving of the title of lightweight. In fact it was her considered opinion that he needed to lighten up a bit.
    Being a police officer was never easy. There was a reason cops had such a high divorce rate; why so many of them had drinking problems. The stress was unbelievable. If you were smart, you found a release before it reached a critical level. Whether it was racquetball or going out into the woods every weekend and getting in touch with nature, you needed something to keep you sane.
    And you had to learn to go easy on yourself; to accept that all you could do was your best. Annie couldn't think of anyone more tolerant of others' failings and less tolerant of his own. Gabe expected very little of those around him and an extraordinary amount from himself.
    She finished the last of her coffee. If this woman didn't make it... She didn't want to think about what it would do to Gabe.
    Gabe was aware of Annie's scrutiny, aware of her concern. He knew he should reassure her, tell her he was all right. But the truth was, he wasn't at all sure he was all right. If only Charity hadn't run between them. The other woman had been out of the way, in no danger. If Charity had just stayed where she was...
    The minutes ticked by, stretching into hours. Annie kept his coffee cup replenished and Gabe drank it, more to reassure her than because he wanted it. He forced himself to stop looking at his watch when he realized that less than a minute was going by between glances.
    The couple across the room spoke occasionally, their voices an indistinguishable murmur. Most of the time Gabe forgot they were there.
    As the hours inched by, even Annie ran out of optimistic words. The longer Charity was in surgery, the harder it was to believe her wound could be minor. Twice Gabe told Annie to go home. She ignored him, giving him a sharp look and telling him not to be a fool.
    The hands on his watch had just crawled past midnight when someone at last came to the doorway of the waiting room.
    "Are any of you here for Ms. Williams?" The man who spoke was short, middle-aged and paunchy. He wore surgical greens, his shoes still encased in cotton booties. He looked tired, but Gabe couldn't read anything beyond that in his eyes, no matter how desperately he tried.
    Gabe jackknifed out of the chair, every muscle tensed. His fingers tightened over the paper cup he held, crushing it. He stepped forward, but before he could say anything, the tall blond man spoke.
    "I'm Brian Williams, her brother. This is our sister, Diane."
    The surgeon sent a quick glance toward Gabe but didn't question his obvious interest. "I'm Dr. Lang."
    "How is she?" Diane bypassed the polite introductions, asking the question on all of their minds.
    "We're cautiously optimistic about your sister's condition," the surgeon told her, not in the least offended by her abruptness.
    "What does that mean?" Gabe asked.
    Brian and Diane Williams looked at him, surprised. All the hours they had shared the waiting room, it had never occurred to any of them that they might be waiting for the same news.
    "Her condition is stable at this point."
    "But?" Brian pounced on the unspoken qualifier in Dr. Lang's voice.
    "There is a bullet fragment lodged very near the spine."
    Annie took the ruined cup out of Gabe's hand, closing her fingers over his forearm.
    "Is she paralyzed?" Was that his

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