Fatal Judgment
talking to the doctor, I checked in with Matt. He’s lined up a condo for her until we sort this thing out. Two of our guys have already done a sweep and are waiting there.”
    “Good. We should be ready to leave shortly. She wants to stop by the ICU, so we’ll do that on the way out. Also, her sister left a directive to donate her organs. Can you find out what the coroner needs?”
    “No problem. I’ll arrange for some transport for us too.”
    “We need to swing by her house on our way to the condo. The police want her to see if anything is missing.”
    “I’ll get a couple of our guys over there.”
    As the nurse who’d briefed them earlier appeared from around a corner at the far end of the hall, Jake drained his cup. “They must be ready for the judge.”
    Handing the cup back to Spence, Jake reentered the room. Liz was sitting where he’d left her.
    “Susan Grady is headed our way. Do you need a few more minutes before going to the ICU?”
    Standing, she walked around the bed with the exaggerated care of a drunk and picked up her purse. Her slow, precise movements confirmed his assessment of her condition.
    She was about to fold.
    As she stopped beside him, waiting for him to cue their departure, Jake gave in to his earlier impulse.
    “Hang on one sec.”
    He ducked into the bathroom, dampened a washcloth, reentered the room, and positioned himself in front of her.
    She inspected the cloth. Gave him a puzzled frown. “What’s that for?”
    “Milk mustache.”
    The furrows in her brow eased. “I never did learn to drink milk properly.”
    “Easy to fix.” He dabbed at her upper lip, trying to ignore those gold-flecked green eyes that harbored so much pain.
    “At least you didn’t spit on your handkerchief.”
    “What?” He stopped dabbing, taken aback.
    “That’s what my mom always did when I had a milk mustache. I hated it.” She tried for a smile. Didn’t come close to pulling it off.
    Admiring her spunk, Jake wiped away the last of the crusty white residue. “I can understand that. Although spit was probably very effective.”
    “But disgusting.”
    Flashing her a quick smile, he tossed the washcloth onto the adjustable table beside the remnants of his breakfast and took her arm. “I agree. Let’s head out.”
    The walk to the ICU was short. Once they arrived, Spence took up a position by the door. Jake released Liz’s arm, intending to wait outside with his colleague. The nurse pushed through the door and held it open.
    Liz didn’t budge.
    Susan Grady transferred her attention from Liz to Jake and arched an eyebrow.
    “Liz.” He touched her shoulder. “Would you rather not go in? You don’t have to.”
    “Yes, I do. I have to s-say good-bye.” Her voice was determined, but he saw the panic in her eyes. “Would you mind c-coming in with me?”
    He shot a quick glance at Spence. “You okay with that?”
    “Yeah. I’ve got it covered.”
    Taking Liz’s arm again, he stepped with her into the ICU.
    And into a sea of memories that blindsided him.
    It had been a different city, a different hospital, a different set of circumstances . . . but the muted sounds, the equipment, the smell—they took him back four years. To the night he’d lost Jen.
    All at once, he was sorry he’d eaten breakfast.
    When his step faltered, Liz looked up at him. “Jake?”
    He gritted his teeth. Sucked in a deep breath. “Give me a sec.”
    Understanding—followed by remorse—flashed through her eyes. “I’m sorry. You probably have your own bad hospital memories. I should have realized that. Look, I’m okay. Just wait for me outside. I c-can do this by myself.”
    The stutter belied her reassurance.
    Still, for an instant, Jake was tempted to take her up on her offer. To flee this place that awakened the memories of pain and loss slumbering deep in his heart.
    But the truth was, those memories would have been worse if he’d had to face his trauma alone. He’d made it through

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