Threatening 24

Chapter 8

Chapter Eight

I woke up in the hospital with a pounding headache and the need to throw up. Ranger was sitting beside me and Morelli was standing looking out the door of the cubicle. Ranger looked tortured. I could not tell how Morelli looked. His back was to me.

"Welcome back", Ranger said. There was a tightness around his eyes that said "not happy". Morelli turned around and quickly walked over to my side. His face was hard and his eyes were his assessing cop eyes. "How do you feel?"

"Like I have the hangover from hell. Where am I?"

"In the hospital. You have been here for the last four hours. Can you remember what happened?" asked Morelli.

"No, not really."

"Why don't you tell us what you do remember, including all the shadowy and fuzzy parts, and we will tell you what we know afterwards?" suggested Ranger.

"I filled the washers with more detergent in all except the last two, as I ran out of soap. I was waiting until you came back with the scent booster before I put the washers on. A man came into the laundromat and we talked for a few minutes. I started to feel bad, like I was drunk. I thought I must be more tired than I realized, and all my sleepless nights were catching up to me. Then things start getting really fuzzy."

"Did you recognize the man?" asked Morelli.

"No."

"Okay, tell me about the fuzzy things. Did he tell you his name?" asked Morelli.

I thought for a minute. "I'm not sure. Maybe?"

"Did he carry in laundry of his own?"

"No. I assumed he left it in his car."

"When he came in, did he join you at the table?" asked Ranger.

"No, I had my back to him and was putting laundry detergent into the machines. I joined him at the table a few minutes later."

"Did you finish drinking your coke after he came in?" asked Ranger.

"Yes. I kept hoping the caffeine would make me feel better."

"Did it taste weird?" asked Morelli.

"No, I didn't notice anything." I knew the questions were leading to something but my head hurt too much to put it together. Morelli pulled out his phone and made a call. He asked for my coke can to be retrieved from the garbage.

"Who opened the coke can?" asked Morelli.

"I did. But now that you mention it, I could not open my water bottle. I seemed to have lost all my coordination and could not do so. The man who was there opened the water bottle for me." I closed my eyes and focused on trying not to throw up. When the wave of nausea passed, I opened my eyes and said "now can you tell me what is going on?"

"You were drugged with GHB, more often known for its use as a date rape drug", said Ranger. "It was likely put in your coke by the man who came in after I left. He had not counted on me coming back. I was only gone for about twenty minutes. When I finished your shopping, I came back to the laundromat and saw you being half carried and half dragged to the man's car. I called out your name and the man dropped you on the ground. I ran over to you to make sure you were all right and the man jumped in his car and drove away. I was able to give the license plate to Morelli, but I was too worried about you to follow him. I called an ambulance and Morelli, and Ella came over to finish doing your laundry." His eyes looked concerned as they took in my white face. "We should let a nurse know you are awake." He pressed the call button.

"If it was a date rape drug, was I raped?"

"No, you weren't. We checked for that when you came in", said the nurse coming into the room. She looked at Morelli, then at Ranger, and licked her lips. I could understand her reaction. Ranger and Morelli both attract female attention wherever they go. I am not sure if either of them are aware of it.

She came over and checked the machine. "Your heart rate is rising nicely, which is good. Your heart rate was really low when you came in. How do you feel?"

"Like I have the hangover from hell."

"Which means?"

"I want to throw up, and my head hurts. My chest feels kind of tight, and I am tired and dizzy."

"Those are all pretty normal side effects from GHB. I will call the doctor and get her to come and look at you." She printed off the report from the heart monitor, put it in my file, and left the room.

"Did you get a copy of the security tape?" I asked.

"Yes. I haven't seen it yet myself, but maybe tomorrow when you are feeling better you can look at it to see if it shakes any more memories loose", said Morelli.

"I should have clued in to what was going on, shouldn't I have? Drugging someone has got to be the oldest trick in the book and I fell for it."

Morelli looked at me in frustration. "It's your life. I would like to say you should not have known, that you should not have even thought of it. And that is what I would say to any normal person. But with you, you are such a disaster magnet you should be on your guard at all times. You could go to church with a congregation of saints and still need to be on your guard. It's just you."

Ranger glared at Morelli. "Don't beat yourself up about it", he said, turning back to me. "It happened. It's not your fault. It was the person who drugged you. Getting caught in "could haves" and "should haves" is not a productive use of your time. Let's move on."

The doctor came into the room with my chart in hand. "Hi. I'm Dr. Jettson. How are you feeling?" I went over everything I had told the nurse. "Those are all pretty standard side effects from taking GHB. The good news is you were admitted quickly. We were able to set up an IV with fluids, you did not have to be intubated, and your heart rate is rising back to normal levels. You are currently on oxygen but your oxygenation levels are good now so we can take the nasal cannula off. I do want the monitor left on for a while, though."

"How long do I have to be here?"

"I can see that you are pretty tired, and I would like to keep you at least until your heart rate returns to normal. I would also like to keep you on fluids a little longer to help flush the drug out of your system. I will check on you in a couple of hours to see how you feel and we will decide then whether you will be staying overnight. In the meantime, I will prescribe some pain relievers for your headache. Hopefully this will allow you to sleep a bit."

"Thank you." She left and the nurse took off the cannula. She brought me some ibuprofen and a glass of juice. I took the medication and struggled to hold it down. Ranger passed me a bowl. I think he must have seen me turn green.

"What happens now?" I asked.

"Now you sleep. I will wait here beside you and make sure Lundel does not come back", said Ranger. "And it means we cannot do training today."

"Oh, and I was so looking forward to it."

"Smart-ass", Ranger said with a smile.

"What about you, Joe? What are you going to do now?"

"I would like to stay, but I have to go back to work and follow up on Lundel as well as work on a murder I got a couple of days ago. I need to get on Lundel's trail before it grows cold." He came over to me and lightly kissed me on the lips. "Have a good sleep and I will see you later." Turning to Ranger, he said "can you keep me informed about what is happening here?" Ranger nodded his head in agreement.

I was so tired it felt like my eyes were starting to cross, and the dizziness did not help my nausea at all. "Close your eyes, Babe. Don't fight it. Just go to sleep. I will be here when you wake up." He reached over and picked up my hand, rubbing soothing circles on the back. "Just sleep, Babe." He lifted my hand and kissed my knuckles. I was asleep before he laid my hand back on the bed.

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