Even though she didn’t have her memory back yet, Nicole
had returned to work as a caseworker at Rampart. Her boss was working with
her and filled her in on the details of all her cases. She may not remember
what had transpired on the cases before her accident, but she picked up
and handled them with the same professionalism and efficiency she had before.
Nicole had been called down to ER to consult on a child that had been
brought in. Her heart was breaking as she walked out of the treatment room.
It was a four-year old child who had been severely beaten by her father.
The little girl was fighting for her life. The mother was crying because
she now realized that not interfering earlier with her husband meant two
terrible things—first her daughter might die and second, if she didn’t die
she would be taken away from the parents. All the father could do was yell
that no one had a right to interfere with how he disciplined his daughter.
Her eyes brightened as she looked up and saw Roy and Johnny standing
at Dixie’s desk. She was too far away to call to them, so she started towards
them. She stopped when a nurse stepped up to them. Not sure why, she thought
it best to wait a minute before going to talk to them.
Cindy Stevens was a new nurse at Rampart. She was assigned to floating
right now until a permanent position opened up and was currently filling
in for another nurse on maternity leave in the ER. She came out of treatment
room 1 and saw two very good looking paramedics standing at the desk talking
to Dixie. With her eyes (and heart) set on the black-haired one, she made
a beeline for the desk.
“Dixie, are you going to introduce me to your friends?” As she got closer,
Cindy ran an appraising eye up and down Johnny. She looked at his hands
and noticed he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Yes, this was the man she
was going to go after and get. Nothing was going to stand in her way. In
her mind as long as he wasn’t married, he was fair game. It wouldn’t matter
if he had a girlfriend or fiancée. She would win him over.
Dixie looked at Cindy. Something about the look in her eyes made Dixie
feel very uncomfortable. Before she answered, she looked down the hall
and saw Nicole. With an imperceptible nod, she motioned for Nicole to come
on down. “These are the two best paramedics in the county. This is Roy
DeSoto.” She waited as Roy held out his hand for Cindy to shake. She did
so quickly. “And this is John Gage.” Cindy grabbed Johnny’s hand and held
on. She looked him in the eyes with a look even he didn’t like.
“It is such a pleasure to meet both of you.” She was about to go on when
Johnny pulled his hand away and pulled Nicole into his embrace as she walked
up. “And who are you?” The icy tone in Cindy’s voice sent shivers up and
down the spines of all of them.
“This is my fiancée, Nicole Schall. We are going to be married
in May.” Johnny held Nicole tight. He wanted this Cindy chick to disappear
into thin air and never reappear. “What brings you down to the ER, Angel?”
Johnny emphasized his favorite nickname for Nicole.
“A little girl and her parents—it is a sad situation and I have a lot
of work to do on it. I just wanted to say hello to my two favorite paramedics.”
Nicole smiled at Johnny. Both of them forgot about everyone else in the
room for a minute.
They were brought out of their reverie when the handy-talkie in Johnny’s
hand came to life sending them on another run. Even though they didn’t
often display their love in public, he leaned over and kissed Nicole on
the lips. He had a point to get across to Cindy Stevens. “See you tonight,
Dixie saw the hatred in Cindy’s eyes as she watched Johnny kiss Nicole.
Dixie was going to keep Cindy Stevens as far away from Johnny and Nicole
as she could. Cindy was nothing but trouble and Dixie knew it.
“I have to go take care of Karen Adams, so I’d better go. See you tonight,
Dixie. It was nice meeting you, Cindy.” Nicole had missed the look in Cindy’s
eyes and smiled as she turned to leave the area.
“See you tonight, Nicole.” Dixie returned the smile and then turned back
to the nurse standing there.
“It was nice meeting you, too, Nicole.” Cindy’s tone was just the opposite
of her words. Dixie heard the icy tone of Cindy’s voice. She saw Nicole
look back with a surprised look.
It was only when Nicole was gone that Dixie heard Cindy mumbling under
her breath. “You’d better watch it, Ms. Nicole Schall. Johnny will be mine
and you will not stand in my way.”
“Cindy, did you say something?” Dixie had clearly heard every word and
was going to talk to Dr. Brackett about it.
“I said that Nicole Schall and Johnny made a nice couple and probably
can’t wait until May.” Cindy prayed that Dixie hadn’t heard what she had
“Yes, they do make a great couple and I know that Nicole is really excited
about getting married in May. Here is the file for the next patient. Treatment
three is open and I think Dr. Morton is available.” Dixie tried to get
Cindy’s mind back on her work.
With one last look down the hall Nicole had followed, Cindy took the
file and went to get the next patient.
For the next couple of shifts, Dixie was able to keep Cindy from running
into Johnny and Roy. All three of them had an uneasy feeling about that
first meeting and had discussed it at dinner that night. They all agreed
it was best for Johnny to avoid Cindy at all costs.
But what none of them knew was that Cindy had asked around the hospital
and had learned about Nicole’s accident and the fact that she had lost her
memory. Cindy determined to use that knowledge against Nicole in her relationship
with Johnny. She enlisted the help of a couple of other nurses who had
been “dumped” by Johnny and wanted to get back at him. They didn’t know
the extent of Cindy’s determination or they wouldn’t have helped her.
Knowing that Nicole was on her way down for a consult, Cindy smiled when
she saw Johnny and Roy at Dixie’s desk. She was close enough to see they
were getting supplies. As she got close to them, she realized her timing
was perfect as the elevator doors opened and Nicole walked off. With Dixie
helping Roy to gather supplies, Johnny was left standing by the desk. “Oh,
Johnny, I have something in my eye. Can you see if you can find anything?”
Cindy moved so that what Johnny was really doing would be blocked. What Nicole
would see him doing is holding her face and being very close. If she worked
it right, it would even look like he was kissing her.
Nicole had smiled when she saw Johnny standing there. That smile turned
to a frown as she saw Cindy walk to Johnny and what appeared to be Johnny
caressing her face. Then Johnny leaned closer and Nicole’s heart stopped.
Determined not to misread what was going on, when Dr. Morton caught her just
as she reached the treatment room, she followed him inside. Cindy had seen
her out of the corner of her eye and was secretly pleased with herself. Johnny
happened to look up and see the hurt look on Nicole’s face as she glanced
once more his way and then went inside the room.
“Oh, Johnny, you must have found it. My eye feels much better.” It wasn’t
two seconds after Nicole had entered the treatment room that Cindy made
a miraculous “recovery.”
Johnny couldn’t get the look on Nicole’s face out of his mind. He really
needed to talk to her and tell her that it wasn’t what it looked like.
He realized that Cindy had purposely made it look like he was caressing
her face. It didn’t take a genius to know what it looked like from Nicole’s
viewpoint. Why did he fall for her trap?
Dixie walked out of the supply room and saw Cindy with a huge smile.
Johnny was staring down the hallway at one of the treatment rooms. She
had a sinking feeling as she took in the scene taking place there in the
hallway. Before she could say anything, she saw Johnny start towards Nicole
who had just come out of treatment room three.
But Cindy saw Nicole, too, and before anyone could stop her, grabbed
Johnny, swung him around and kissed him. “Thanks for your help, Johnny.”
With that she walked away from the group with a smug look on her face.
Johnny grimaced as he saw Nicole enter the elevator with tears running
down her face. “Roy, I have to go talk to Nicole.”
“What happened, Johnny?” Roy saw the pain in Nicole’s eyes, too.
“Cindy Stevens happened. I’ll tell you both when I get back. I really
need to talk to Nicole.” Johnny grabbed the HT and ran to the elevator. Realizing
that it was on the top floor, he opted to take the stairs instead. As the
scene Nicole had just witnessed ran through his mind, he ran up the stairs
two at a time until he reached the fourth floor. As he opened the stairwell
door, he saw Nicole unlocking her office door. Anger started filling him
as he saw Cindy right behind her. He quietly made his way unseen to the hallway
right next to Nicole’s office where he could listen without being seen.
“Nicole, what’s wrong?” Cindy plastered on what she hoped looked like
a concerned face and pulled Nicole into her embrace.
“Please leave.” Nicole pushed Cindy away. “I have work to do and I do
not want to see you.”
“Nicole, what’s wrong? What have I done?”
“I just came from treatment room three down in ER.”
“Oh, Nicole, I’m so sorry. You must have seen Johnny and me down there.”
“Yes, I did. Now please leave.” Nicole couldn’t stop the tears.
“Nicole, Johnny and I never meant for you to find out that way. We’ve
been trying to keep it quiet until Johnny could find a way to tell you himself.
He said that he was going to end your relationship before your accident,
but since your accident he didn’t want to hurt your feelings. He was trying
to find a way to let you know. I am so sorry, Nicole.”
Johnny had heard enough. He came around the corner surprising both Nicole
and Cindy. “Nicole, Cindy is lying to you. Downstairs just now she claimed
to have something in her eye and wanted me to see if I could find it and
get it out. Then when she saw you coming—and I know she saw you—,” (Johnny
gave Cindy a look that would have killed when she started to protest.) “She
pulled me around and kissed me. Nicole, I love you.” Before he could go
on, however, the HT he was carrying went off. Acknowledging the call, he
grabbed Nicole’s hand and pulled her with him as he headed back down to
ER to pick up Roy. “Cindy, I don’t ever want to see you again.”
As they ran down the stairs, Johnny held Nicole’s hand tight. “Angel,
everything Cindy said was a lie. I love you and have never planned to end
our relationship. You are my other half and I don’t know what I would do
if I ever lost you.”
By the time Johnny had finished, they were at Dixie’s desk. “Roy, we
have a call. Dixie, please don’t let Cindy anywhere near Nicole again and
please tell her how much I really love her. Thanks, bye.” He leaned over
and kissed Nicole, then ran with Roy to answer their call.
“What was that all about?” Dixie wasn’t quite sure what happened, but
she had a feeling it had something to do with the scene earlier. “Carol,
Nicole and I are going in the lounge for a cup of coffee. Please watch the
desk and if Cindy Stevens comes around, don’t let her know where we are.”
Once they were settled in the lounge, Nicole told Dixie everything that
had happened and what Cindy had said.
“Nicole, do you trust Johnny?” Dixie was angry at Cindy but didn’t want
it to show to Nicole.
“Yes, with my life.”
“Do you trust Cindy?”
“No, I don’t. Dixie, Johnny never gave me a chance to say anything. I
was going to tell him that I didn’t believe her. He came to my defense before
I could tell her that I knew that wasn’t true since all of you have told
me that we announced our engagement the day of the bank robbery. I believe
all of you and not her. Dixie, why would she want to hurt Johnny or me that
“Because she wants Johnny for herself and she didn’t believe Johnny when
he told her he loved you. She wanted you to believe he didn’t love you
so she could take your place. But, Nicole, I know that no one could ever
take your place in Johnny’s heart. If you weren’t a part of his life, he
would only be a shell. I don’t think he would ever love anyone again.”
“Thanks, Dixie. Now what are we going to do about Cindy Stevens?” Nicole
had believed Johnny, but it was good to hear it from someone outside the
Just then Dr. Brackett walked into the room. “What are my two favorite
hospital workers doing in here?”
Dixie made an instant decision that Kel should know exactly what had
happened. Receiving a nod from Nicole indicating it was ok, she proceeded
to tell him everything.
“Don’t worry, Nicole. We’ll make sure that Cindy stays down here and
if you are ever needed on a consult, she will be kept busy somewhere else.
She also will be kept away from Johnny and Roy.” Dr. Brackett knew that personal
matters were not enough to fire someone over, but he would keep an eye on
Cindy to see what else she did.
“Thank you, Dr. Brackett.” Nicole felt secure in the love of her friends.
Johnny was happy to see Dixie alone at the desk when he came to pick
up Roy after their call. “Dixie, how’s Nicole?” Roy walked up and stood.
He, too, wanted to know how Nicole was. Johnny had explained everything
to him in the squad.
“She loves you and believes in you, Johnny. She knows you love her. Don’t
worry, she’s just fine. Kel is making arrangements so that Cindy will not
be around either you or Nicole.” Dixie knew how worry Johnny was about
Nicole. She may not remember it, but she had a terrible childhood and he
wanted to protect her as much as possible.
“Thanks, Dixie. It is good to hear that.” Johnny smiled as the HT went
off again. “They’re playing our song. Bye, Dix.” And with that, the guys
Cindy was fuming. Johnny should be hers. He didn’t love Nicole. How could
he? Cindy was taller, pretty, and slimmer than Nicole. Johnny deserved
someone that looked like a model like she did—not someone like Nicole.
Whatever it took to make Johnny see that Nicole was not for him, she would
do it. No guy had ever turned Cindy Stevens down and no one was going to
start now. She would find a way to prove that Nicole was not the honest,
nice person they all thought she was—Cindy would plant the evidence that
Nicole was a thief and possibly a killer. That way she would be out of the
picture for good.
With that in mind, Cindy started putting her plan together. She was going
to steal some MS from the drug cabinet in the ER and administer it to one
of the elderly patients under Nicole’s care. She would then leave the syringe
and medicine bottle in Nicole’s office and tip off someone. Now all she
had to do was plan the perfect timing.
Johnny smiled as he saw Nicole standing with Dixie at the desk when he
brought in a patient. Their run-in with Cindy had been over a week earlier,
and to everyone’s relief she had left them alone. When he was released
from the treatment room, he headed for the desk. “Hi, Dixie. Hi, Angel.”
He leaned over and kissed Nicole on the cheek.
“Hi, honey. How’s your shift going? Isn’t it almost over?” Nicole loved
seeing Johnny at work.
“It’s been busy. We’ve had back-to-back runs since roll call yesterday
morning. But all of them have been ones that we could save. It has been
a good shift. It ends just as soon as we get back to the barn. How’s your
day going?” Johnny couldn’t take his eyes off his fiancée.
“Oh, it’s been pretty quiet, actually. I do have a meeting that will
run a little late tonight and I’m not feeling real good. Would it be ok
if we stayed at my apartment tonight and just relaxed?”
“Sure, are you sure you are going to be ok?” Johnny didn’t like it when
Nicole was sick or hurt. He wanted to protect her.
“Yeah, just a little under the weather. I’ll be home about 7:00. Will
you be waiting for me?” Nicole loved the quiet times they spent together.
“Of course—I’ll even have dinner waiting for you.” Johnny knew he wanted
to take care of her.
“Thanks, well, I need to get going. See you at home tonight.” Nicole
headed for the elevator as Roy came in to find Johnny.
What none of them noticed was Cindy just out of sight in the supply closet
listening to every word. She now knew the perfect time to put her plan
into action—tonight before Nicole went home and when Cindy was supposed
to be off-duty and out of the hospital.
Nicole was really beginning to feel bad and decided she should have one
of the doctors check her over to make sure she wasn’t coming down with something.
So she went to find Dr. Early since his office was on her floor.
“Dr. Early, are you busy?” Nicole was beginning to get dizzy.
“Never too busy for you, Nicole. How can I help you?” Dr. Early looked
up as he heard Nicole slip into the chair. “Nicole, are you alright?” He
began to worry as he looked at her face. Her cheeks were red with the flush
of fever, but the rest of her was without any color at all.
“No, I thought I’d come and have you check me out.” Nicole was losing
her battle to stay conscious.
“Here, let’s go into my exam room and I’ll check you over. Diane, will
you help me?” Dr. Early and his nurse helped Nicole up on the exam table.
Both Dr. Early and Diane noted that it was 2:30 p.m. as Dr. Early began
his exam. The first thing he did was draw blood and have the lab come and
pick it up. He told them he needed the results as soon as possible.
“I need the blood work to confirm, but it looks like you have a nasty
infection in your lungs, Nicole. Diane, call ICU and see if we can get a
bed. We need to get Nicole admitted and on a ventilator as soon as possible.”
Dr. Early didn’t like the sounds of Nicole’s lungs.
Diane picked up the phone and got a bed in ICU. She then called down
to tell Dixie since she knew how close Dixie, Dr. Brackett and Nicole were.
She knew that both Dixie and Dr. Brackett would want to know. Diane was relieved
when Dixie offered to call Johnny and let him know what was going on. When
she hung up the phone, Diane helped Dr. Early and the two orderlies move
Nicole onto the gurney. Then she and Dr. Early walked beside the gurney as
they took Nicole to ICU.
Cindy put her plan into place. Checking the meeting that Nicole was supposed
to attend and seeing that she wasn’t there, Cindy figured she was somewhere
and wouldn’t have an alibi. So Cindy snuck down the stairs into the emergency
area and waited until the hallway and supply area was empty. Then she hurried
into the supply room and took the bottle of MS she planned to use against
Nicole. Taking a quick look both ways to make sure no one was around, Cindy
quickly made her way back to the stairwell to execute the second part of
her plan. What she didn’t know was that Dr. Morton had seen her come out
of the supply room.
Hurrying up the stairs, Cindy couldn’t believe she was going to get away
with her plan. Everything was falling into place. Checking the hallway,
she didn’t see anyone so she headed towards the room of an elderly lady,
Mrs. Ruth Welch, she knew Nicole was trying to help get into a nursing home
when she was released from the hospital. Slipping into the room, she planned
on putting the MS into Mrs. Welch’s IV and then putting the syringe and
bottle in Nicole’s desk drawer. That would get Nicole out of the picture
and Johnny would be hers. Cindy put the needle into the port on the IV and
put the medicine into the line. But before she could check to see that it
was flowing properly, she heard someone stop right outside the door. One
of the nurses was starting to come in. When Candy, the floor nurse went
to get something she had forgotten for Mrs. Welch, Cindy slipped out of
the room and into the stairwell. Reaching Nicole’s office, she picked the
lock, put the stuff in Nicole’s drawer and then slipped out of the hospital.
Candy was headed back towards Mrs. Welch’s room when she saw Cindy slip
out. She hurried to see what Cindy was doing. As she approached the bed,
Mrs. Welch was beginning to panic. “What’s wrong, Ruth?”
“That nurse that was just in here put something into my IV. I thought
you were going to take it out. Why would she put medicine into it if you
are going to take it out?” Mrs. Welch had never seen Cindy before.
“Well, she shouldn’t have put anything in it. We’ll check it. But don’t
worry—I turned it off right before I had to answer that page, so you aren’t
getting any medicine in it right now. Whatever she put in will not reach
your system. Let’s get that IV out right now.” Candy made herself a mental
note to talk to Dixie McCall about Cindy. Candy had never worked with Cindy,
but had heard that she was a little careless. Dixie was Cindy’s supervisor
and Candy would start with her. “There, all done. You rest and I’ll take care
of the nurse. No one will get back in here tonight.” Candy left the room,
told the other two nurses at the nurses’ station not to let anyone—even another
nurse—into Mrs. Welch’s room and that she needed to take care of some hospital
business and headed towards the ER.
Johnny hurried into Rampart as he was worried about Nicole. As he entered
the familiar territory of the emergency room, he saw Dixie talking with
another nurse. He was going to go right on to ICU, but Dixie motioned for
him to wait for a minute. While he was waiting, he saw Cindy Stevens enter
the ER doors. With a sigh of relief, he smiled as Dixie finished her conversation,
wrapped her arm around his and headed with him towards the elevator before
Cindy was even within yelling distance. Together they went to see Nicole.
Cindy wondered where the two of them were going. She knew that Johnny
had seen her and ignored her. But that didn’t matter. It wouldn’t be long
before everything was right in her world. She headed for the nurses’ lounge
since that was the place of all the gossip. Hopefully, someone had heard
Dixie spent a few minutes with Nicole and Johnny and then headed to the
lab to have the IV bag Candy had left her analyzed to see what was in it
that shouldn’t be. Whatever, Cindy Stevens was up to, Dixie was determined
to find out what it was and make sure she could never do it again. Upon obtaining
the lab’s promise to have the results to her within the hour, Dixie headed
back to the ER to talk to Dr. Brackett.
Entering the ER she was surprised to see all the nurses and most of the
doctors congregated around the desk. “What’s going on?”
“Dixie, there is a bottle of MS missing.” Carol had helped Dixie do an
inventory of the supply closet at 3:45 just after the change of shift.
All the medicine was accounted for at that time. “The closest thing we
can figure is that it disappeared shortly after you and I did the inventory.
But all of the nurses were involved with patients. The doctors have vouched
for them. Plus none of the doctors even asked for MS so it isn’t a case
of someone forgetting to log it.”
“Ok, I want all of you to spend the next few minutes thinking about anyone
you have seen around the supply cabinet since 3:45 this afternoon. That
means go clear back to when you first started your shift. We can determine
if the timing is right later. Dr. Brackett and I will talk to each one of
you individually to find out what you know. Please don’t discuss this with
anyone else. We need to have answers from each of you that aren’t colored
by someone else’s memories. Until we ask to speak to you, everyone back
to work.” Dixie sighed, the IV bag forgotten for the moment.
Kelly Brackett walked up to Dixie and gave her a quick hug. “We can do
the interviews in my office. Donna, will you follow us? We’ll talk to you
first.” Dr. Brackett led the way to his office with a sigh. Why would anyone
risk their career over something like this that would be discovered so
Over the next hour, Dixie and Kel Brackett interviewed most of the nurses
and doctors. Carol was right. Everyone was busy at the time and could vouch
for each other. Dixie and Kel were beginning to get discouraged. They were
just about to ask the next nurse to come in when there was a knock on the
“Miss McCall? Here are the results of the tests on that IV bag. I sure
hope you find what you are looking for.” The lab technician handed the
results to Dixie and left.
“What’s that all about?” Kel wondered what else was going on.
“I didn’t get a chance to tell you and forgot about it in the confusion
down here. Candy, one of the nurses from the fifth floor brought down an
IV bag that she disconnected from Mrs. Welch, a lady Nicole is trying to find
a nursing home for. Nicole was able to find her a nice place to live, so
they were getting her ready to be released tomorrow. Candy turned off the
IV and then had to go answer a page and left the room. While she was gone,
another nurse went in and put something into the IV bag. Something happened
to make the nurse slip out without checking the drip. Candy brought the bag
to me.” Dixie was looking over the results as she talked.
“Why bring it to you?” Dr. Brackett wondered why they would be getting
“Because the nurse in question is Cindy Stevens. Candy noticed her slip
out just as she returned to finish taking out the IV. Cindy didn’t see her.”
“When was this?” Kel was starting to get an idea that he didn’t like,
but didn’t want to say anything until he had more proof.
“Just as Johnny and I were going up to see Nicole—about 4:10. And the
results of the IV indicate that 30ccs of MS were added to the bag.” Dixie
looked up at Kel. She was beginning to have the same idea he did.
“30ccs? At no time would anyone ever prescribe that much MS. It is a
good thing Candy had turned it off before she answered the page. Otherwise,
Mrs. Welch would have been dead before anyone could help her. What time
did Cindy get off work?”
“At 3:00—I saw her leave the building.”
“But she came back, didn’t she?”
“Yeah, while Johnny and I went up to check on Nicole.”
“See if you can reach her and ask her to come in. I want to talk to her
now.” Kelly Brackett was angry. As far as he knew, Cindy had no interactions
with Mrs. Welch at all and didn’t even know the lady. What was her motive?
“Ok, I’ll do it right now.” Dixie was having a hard time keeping her
anger under control.
As she stepped out of Kel’s office, Dixie noticed Cindy coming out of
the lounge. Taking a deep breath to keep her emotions in check, she smiled
and headed for the girl she was beginning to hate. “Cindy, I thought you
left already. What brings you back here?”
“Well, I saw something earlier and though I don’t want to get anyone
in trouble, I figured I’d better come back and tell someone about it. It
has been weighing on my conscience.” Cindy made it seem like she was an
innocent, concerned nurse.
“Well, come back into Dr. Brackett’s office with me and you can tell
both of us.” Dixie cringed. She knew that whatever Cindy had to tell them,
it was all going to be a lie.
As they headed down the hall, Cindy glanced at her watch. Good, it was
only 5:30. With any luck she would have all this wrapped up and be able
to spend time with Johnny tonight yet.
Dixie knocked on Dr. Brackett’s office door. At his acknowledgement,
she opened the door and allowed Cindy to precede her into the room. Dr.
Morton nodded at both women and left as they sat down.
“Kel, Cindy has something that she wants to tell us that she says she
saw happen earlier today.” Dixie had to almost bite her tongue to keep a
civil tone in her voice.
“Yes, I really don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but I thought you
should know that I saw Nicole Schall take something out of the medicine supply
closet. I know that she doesn’t have authority to get anything in there,
so I followed her to see what she was doing. She went directly to Mrs. Welch’s
room. I didn’t follow her in, but she was only in there a few seconds. Then
she headed back to her office. When she went into her office, she left the
door opened a crack. I peeked in and saw her pull a syringe and bottle out
of her pocket and put it in her top desk drawer. I just figured I really
needed to tell someone.” Cindy was pleased with herself—her plan was working
“And what time was this?” Kel couldn’t believe she was trying to pin
this on Nicole.
“About 2:45. I was just getting ready to end my shift.”
Before anyone could say anything else, there was a knock on the door.
It opened to a smiling Johnny Gage. “I just wanted to let both of you know—oh,
I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were busy. I’ll come back later.” Johnny
was glad he had seen Cindy before he could say anything about Nicole.
“No, Johnny, please come in. I think you will be interested in what Miss
Stevens has been telling us—after all it involves Nicole.” Dr. Brackett
knew that they were going to catch Cindy Stevens in her lies and he knew
that Johnny had a right to be there when they did. He stepped outside his
office to talk to someone just as Johnny came in.
“Oh? What is it?” Johnny made a wide path around the chair Cindy was
sitting and made his way to the couch to sit next to Dixie.
“Go ahead and tell him what you told us, Cindy—and be sure to tell him
what time all this happened.” Kel was waiting for the moment they could
let Cindy know they knew she was lying.
As she related her story once again, Cindy began to get uncomfortable.
It didn’t escape her that Dr. Brackett had emphasized the part of telling
Johnny what time this all happened. Why did he make a point of that? When
she finished she looked up at Johnny with false sympathy in her eyes. “Johnny,
I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you that Nicole is not what you
thought she was—what everyone thought she was. I just couldn’t let this
go.” With Johnny here, she could show her sympathy and maybe start spending
time with him even earlier than she had originally thought.
“And you say all this happened about 2:45?” Johnny knew that Nicole was
with Dr. Early and Donna and couldn’t have been doing what Cindy claimed.
“Yes. I’m really sorry, Johnny.” Cindy had to work hard to keep the sympathy
in her voice.
Dr. Morton entered the office with a nod at Kel.
“Cindy, Dr. Morton went to Nicole’s office and found the bottle and syringe
right where you said you saw her put them.” Dr. Brackett wanted Cindy to
feel like she was getting away with whatever plan she had in mind.
“That just proves I was right, doesn’t it?” Cindy was beginning to float—nothing
would stand in her way now.
“It would except for about six things.” Kel was getting ready for the
dismantling of Cindy’s plan.
“And what would those be?” Cindy was wondering what he was talking about.
“First, Dixie and Carol inventoried the medicine closet at 3:45 and everything
was accounted for. The vial of MS came up missing around 4:00. You say
you saw Nicole at 2:45.”
“My watch stopped this morning. Maybe I was mistaken about the time.”
“Well, say that you were—the second thing is that Candy saw you coming
out of Mrs. Welch’s room shortly after 4:00 after the MS came up missing.”
“I wanted to check to see if she was ok.”
“I don’t know.”
“Because I heard someone coming and I was afraid that it was Nicole.
I didn’t want her find out that I knew what she had done so I left before
I could check on Mrs. Welch.”
“Ok, third, when Dr. Morton went to Nicole’s office for me to retrieve
the things that you said she put in her drawer, he asked Carol to accompany
him and watch from the door like you said you did. Carol and Dr. Morton
both noticed that you cannot see Nicole’s desk from her doorway. You would
have either had to been in the room or put the stuff there yourself.”
Cindy started to get uneasy. She didn’t answer that one.
“Fourth, Mrs. Welch described the nurse that she watched put something
into her IV. She described you perfectly. We found that someone had put
30ccs of MS in her IV. She is just lucky that Candy had turned the IV off
because they were getting her ready for release in the morning.”
Cindy wanted to get up and make a run for it, but at the moment her way
“Fifth, Dr. Morton saw you entering the medicine closest at 4:00 just
before the incident in Mrs. Welch’s room.”
“Mrs. Welch must have gotten the two times confused. And I am an ER nurse—of
course I am going to be in the medicine closet. I saw Nicole put the things
in her desk. Why are you accusing me of all of this? All of this is circumstantial
evidence. Nothing you have told me proves Nicole couldn’t have done it
or that I did.”
“Well, I think you will agree that once I tell you reason number six,
you will know why we are sure you are the one who did all of this.”
“And what is reason number six?” Cindy was trying to formulate an escape
“Nicole became very ill earlier today. At 2:30 she was being examined
by Dr. Early with Donna assisting. They did not leave her side until she
was settled into ICU at 3:15. She has been monitored very closely since then
because she is on a ventilator.” Kel watched the emotions that ran across
Cindy’s face—anger, hatred, fear, determination and a host of others.
“I have one question for you, Cindy—why?” Johnny couldn’t believe what
he was hearing.
“Because you should be mine—she isn’t good enough for you—I am. I needed
to show you that she isn’t what you thought she was so you would see that
you really love me instead.”
“Well, Cindy, we are going to turn you over to the police for narcotics
theft and attempted murder.” Kel picked up the phone to call security.
Since Mike Morton had moved over to the other side of the room to give
Kel the vial and syringe he had retrieved, the path to the door was now
clear. Before anyone realized what was happening, Cindy was out of her chair,
out the door and down the hall. She had disappeared by the time any of them
got into the hallway.
“She’s gone, Kel.” Dixie was worried about Nicole.
Johnny was worried too. He looked at Dixie and then headed straight up
to ICU opting to take the stairs to get there faster. He was relieved to
find that Cindy had not been seen on the floor and no one was in with Nicole.
Until a guard could be posted, he would stay by her side.
Dr. Brackett called security and the police to report what had happened.
With the help of the hospital grapevine, it spread fast that anyone seeing
Cindy Stevens in the vicinity was to report it immediately. Now all they
could do was wait and pray that she was picked up soon.
It had been over a month since anyone had last seen Cindy Stevens. She
had evaded the police and they reported they thought she had left the area.
However, Johnny had a bad feeling and was worried about Nicole. Roy, Joanne
and even Nicole had the same feeling, so they were all on their guard.
Nicole had recovered from her infection almost overnight with the antibiotics
Dr. Early had prescribed.
Valentine’s Day was coming up. Johnny had planned a special evening for
Nicole. He knew that she believed him when he told her that everything Cindy
had told her was a lie, but he wanted to show her how much he really did
love her. After a run that brought them to Rampart, he took a few minutes
and went up to see Nicole. She tried to get him to tell her once again what
his plans were for Valentine’s Day, but all he would tell her was that she
was to dress up in her fanciest dress and be prepared for a night on the town.
When she needed to get ready to go to lunch with Joanne, Jenny and Chris,
she told him she loved him and sent him back to work. Smiling and humming
to herself, she went to work on the files she wanted to get finished before
The door opened a minute later. Fully expecting it to be Joanne and the
kids, she was shocked to see Cindy Stevens there with a gun pointed at her
and a box in her other hand. Nicole went to close the files on her desk.
Her hand landed on the HT that Johnny had brought up with him and forgotten.
Knowing that she had to do something, she slid the files into her lap along
with the HT. She pretended to straighten the files and laid them back on
her desk while the HT slipped into her lap.
Cindy smiled as she saw the fear on Nicole’s face. If Cindy couldn’t
have Johnny, then neither would Nicole. But instead of taking Johnny from
Nicole, she was going to take Nicole from Johnny—she would make Johnny
hurt for the rest of his life. That would teach him to ignore her. Cindy
turned around to walk over to the couch and sit down. “Hi, Nicole. How
While Cindy’s back was turned, Nicole had found a paper clip and jammed
it into the talk button of Johnny’s HT effectively locking it so that someone
could hear what was going on in her office, but could not contact her.
She then slipped it to the floor thankful her office was carpeted. “Hi,
Cindy. I’m fine. What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to make you, Johnny, and the others in this hospital pay for
the way you treated me.”
Johnny had made his way back down to Dixie’s desk and was waiting for
Roy to finish up his conversation with Dixie so they could go back to the
station. Just as he realized he had left the HT in Nicole’s office, they
heard the radio in the station come on. Johnny froze as he heard Cindy Steven’s
voice. Not only were Dixie, Johnny and Roy listening, but LA County dispatch,
the fire stations and the police stations were listening—anyone who was on
the frequency of the HT.
“What are you planning to do? And what’s in the box?” Nicole prayed that
whatever Cindy’s plan involved, she would be able to keep anyone else from
Just as Cindy was about to answer, Joanne started to enter the door but
stopped. Something didn’t feel right. Joanne looked over at Nicole. She was
now sitting in front of her desk where she could see out the door. Nicole
saw her and discreetly finger spelled the word go to Joanne. As Cindy answered,
Joanne momentarily froze, then grabbed the kids and headed back downstairs.
“Well, I have a bomb in this box. There are several ways that it can
be set off. I can drop it and it will explode. There is a timer that, if
all goes as planned, I will set later so it goes off. If something happens
to me I have it triggered to go off.” Cindy smiled to herself.
“What are you going to do with the gun?” Nicole wanted to get as much
information out of Cindy as possible.
At that moment Cindy decided to get up and close the door. “Well, I’ll
tell you all about it while I make sure everything is ready. Sit down and
don’t move. If you do, I’ll set off the bombs.”
“What are you doing now?” Nicole watched as Cindy took something out
of the box and pulled a thin wire taut across the base of the door. She
did as Cindy asked—she was hoping to get out of the situation without anyone
else getting hurt.
“I am setting up a trip wire. If anyone opens this door, it will denote
that bomb.” Cindy was filled with glee.
Johnny was beside himself. He had started going back upstairs when Roy
stopped him. Knowing that his friends were right, he cried as he listened
to the events taking place in Nicole’s office. He was glad, however, when
Joanne, Jenny and Chris came back down the stairs. He had forgotten about
their lunch date with Nicole. If Cindy had shown up five minutes later,
they all would be in that room right now. He hugged them all and then turned
back to listen with everyone else.
“You said that if everything went as planned you would set the timer
on the bomb to let it go off. Since you plan on killing me, could you tell
me the plan?” Nicole was stalling for time.
“Sure, we are going to lure Johnny back up here. When he gets here, he
is going to watch you die a slow painful death. Then I will probably tie
him up and leave him here. The timer will be set for about 15 minutes later
and then boom—this side of the hospital will go up in smoke.”
“Well, Johnny was here just before you were. I know they got a call outside
of town and it will be about an hour and a half before they will be bringing
in a patient. So we have that long to wait before we can even contact him.”
Nicole was hoping that someone was listening and that they would get the
hint to use the time and evacuate at least that part of the hospital if
not all of it.
“Nicole just bought us enough time to get everyone out. Start evacuating
that side of the hospital, but do it so that no one can be seen from her
office window. Also, be very quiet on her hallway. We don’t want to give
it away that we know what is going on. It will only get Nicole killed.” Dixie
started barking orders to the group standing around the bay station and
everyone began to help—everyone except Johnny. He stayed by the radio along
with Vince who had arrived shortly after Nicole started broadcasting over
“She is very special, Johnny—just like you. It seems her first concern
is the other people in this hospital. We’ll get her out of this, I promise.”
Vince could see the pain etched on Johnny’s face.
“Yeah, but will it be alive?” Johnny knew that Vince was doing everything
Vince didn’t answer as Johnny turned back to listening to the radio.
“Cindy, I can understand your hatred of me and your anger at Johnny,
but why blow up the hospital?”
“Because they took away my job and called the cops on me. If they had
just listened to me and arrested you, none of this would be happening right
now. I am not going to go back to jail. You see, I changed my name to Cindy
Stevens when I was released from prison three years ago. I was getting a
fresh start. I wanted a good career, a husband and a family. I had the good
career and Johnny would have been the perfect husband. But you and he had
to spoil it all—including my career. Now you, he and everyone in this hospital
will have to pay. Then I will disappear, change my name again and start all
“You were in prison before?”
“Yes, back east. I helped a few of the elderly patients in the nursing
home I worked in die a little quicker and the law didn’t like it. I don’t
know why since I saved the families, the insurance companies and the nursing
home a lot of money. Enough questions for now—why don’t you go back to
working on some of your files while we wait for the time to lure Johnny
up here. I am just going to sit here and read this magazine while we wait.”
Nicole moved back behind her desk and opened the first file she came
to. Saying a silent prayer, she tried to make it look like she was really
working while she tried to think of a way out of the situation. Something
inside of Cindy had snapped—she needed help. But Nicole knew that she wouldn’t
admit to needing that help. ~Please, Lord, please help me to find a way
out of this without anyone else getting hurt.~
Station 51, Station 45, Station 16 and Station 36 had all been sent to
Rampart as a precaution when the transmissions first started. If a bomb
when off, LA County wanted to be sure they could save as many lives as possible.
Added to all the hospital personnel that helped, it took only 20 minutes
to evacuate that wing of the hospital. Now all they could do was wait.
The men of station 51 A-shift huddled around Johnny who wouldn’t leave
the radio. They were trying to give him all the support they could. Everyone
was trying to come up with a plan that would not only save the hospital,
but save Nicole’s life, too. But the worry they each felt was hindering
any formation of a plan.
It had been 45 minutes since the first transmission from the HT Johnny
had left in Nicole’s office. There was only quiet since Cindy said that
she wanted no more questions from Nicole. Johnny was getting impatient and
wondered if the HT batteries had died. Then they all heard Nicole’s voice
as Dixie waited by the phone. She was trying to think of a way to let Nicole
know they had all heard and had been successful in evacuating the patients.
It had been 45 minutes since she had entered the office. Cindy was getting
impatient. How did they know that Johnny hadn’t already come and gone?
How were they going to get Johnny up there anyway?
Nicole had come up with a plan. But she needed to know if her transmissions
had gotten out and if whoever was listening had understood. “Cindy, why
don’t I call down to Dixie and ask her to let me know when Johnny and Roy
call in with the patient they will be bringing in? I can ask her to then
have Johnny call me when he gets here and then I can get him up here.”
Cindy smiled—Nicole had solved her problem. “Ok, but careful what you
say. I am going to stand so I can listen, too.” Cindy walked over to stand
Pushing the HT back under the desk a little with her foot, Nicole waited
until Cindy was right beside her. Then she picked up the phone and dialed,
taking a deep breath while it rang. When Dixie answered, she closed her
eyes for a second, took another deep breath and prayed her plan would work.
“Hi, Dixie. This is Nicole.”
Dixie didn’t realize her knuckles were turning white because she was
holding the receiver so tight. “Hi, Nicole. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I was wondering if you could give me a call when Johnny or Roy
calls in with the patient they will be bringing in from their last call.
I know that they should be out about an hour and a half, but I would like
to know when they call in.”
“Well, Nicole, they actually have called in. Station 51, Station 45,
Station 16 and Station 36 were all called in to help with the rescue and
it took only 20 minutes. They should be here soon.”
“Great. Will you have Johnny call me when they get to the hospital? I
really need to talk to him.”
“Sure, it will be another 30 minutes, though.”
“Good. I have some things to take care of before he calls, so that will
give me enough time. Thanks. Bye, Dix.”
“You’re welcome. Bye, Nicole.” Dixie prayed that this would not be the
last time she talked with Nicole.
Nicole sent up a silent thank you that her transmissions had been heard
and understood. She was going to end this once and for all as she did not
want Johnny or anyone else to get hurt. Pushing her chair back, she noticed
the box that contained most of the bombs had been left over against an outside
wall—now to implement the rest of her plan. “Cindy, don’t you think we
should disarm that trip wire? If Johnny gets here earlier than Dixie thinks,
then we might not have time before he comes up here.”
Johnny heard Nicole’s voice as she talked with Dixie. Her voice was too
calm. He knew she was planning on doing something—but what? One look at Dixie
told him that she too, thought Nicole was going to try something. No matter
how hard he tried, the tears came when Dixie walked around the desk, pulled
him into her embrace and whispered, “She’s a very special lady, Johnny.”
He was thankful she wasn’t making promises that no one could keep.
“Yeah, you’re right. You just go sit on that couch and don’t move and
I’ll dismantle it.” Cindy wasn’t paying attention as Nicole picked up the
long heavy paperweight someone had given her. It was ugly and heavy. She
had been meaning to get rid of it. Now she silently thanked the Lord she
hadn’t. As Cindy started to stand up, Nicole hit her over the head with the
paperweight. She knew it wouldn’t knock Cindy out, but she hoped it would
provide her the leverage she needed to gain the upper hand.
Everyone jumped when they heard a crash over the HT. It wasn’t an explosion,
so they knew that no bomb had gone off—yet. But what was going on? They
all stood in shock as they listened to the events currently taking place.
The pain on Johnny’s face was evident on the crew of Station 51, Dixie,
Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early, Dr. Morton, and Joanne’s faces as well.
The blow stunned Cindy enough that Nicole grabbed the bomb that had been
connected to the trip wire and threw it against the wall with the other
bombs, hiding the paperweight in the folds of her skirt. She prayed it wouldn’t
go off when it hit. Thankfully, it landed on the pile of pillows that Nicole
kept in her office for children’s visits. Cindy was angry but was stunned
enough she didn’t even think about what Nicole had hit her with. She regained
her composure and aimed the gun at Nicole. “Now you will pay.” She pulled
Nicole with her as she went to pick up one of the bombs. “It is time for
a little excitement.”
Nicole waited as Cindy grabbed a bomb and set a timer. When Cindy let
go of her arm to grab a roll of duct tape she was going to use to tape the
bomb to Nicole, Nicole pushed her to the floor, grabbed her gun and once
again hit her with the paperweight. Stunned once more, Cindy fell to the
floor. Wanting to get both of them out of there, Nicole told Cindy to get
up and come with her. Cindy stood but wouldn’t move.
Johnny had been quiet as they listened to what was going on. Then as
things progressed his face lost all its color and his knees gave out. His
heart-rending sobs could be heard mingled with the transmissions coming
from Nicole’s office. Everyone’s heart went out to the hurting man.
“I believe, Nicole, we have a stand off. The timer on this bomb is set
to go off in less than 30 seconds. I am not going anywhere with you and
I don’t think you are going to be able to get out of here in time.” Cindy
grabbed Nicole’s arm causing her to drop the gun. “I knew you could never
shoot me. Now we will die together. I am not going to let you go.”
Nicole had the presence of mind to kick the gun out of the reach of both
of them. Then she pulled and fought with Cindy as the timer ticked down.
A Special Wedding or a Funeral,