Voices faded in and out, stirring Jenna to consciousness.
"…waiting for test results…depends on…"
"Police want to question…"
"…have to wait."
Admit her? Test results? Police? Where was she? Were these people talking about her?
A strong scent of antiseptic stung her nose, bringing tears to her eyes. Something tightened on her arm, almost painfully so. She struggled to open her eyes. Bright lights sent a stabbing pain through her skull.
The familiar voice soothed her fears. Mr. Heartthrob, Rye Cameron. What was he doing here? Where was here?
A hand curled around her wrist. "Jenna, this is Dr. Haynes. Can you hear me?"
She groaned, turning her head into the pillow to escape the light.
"You're in the hospital emergency room."
Hospital? The memory of the night her father's heart attack flashed through her mind. "The lights," she whispered. "Please shut off the lights." She swallowed and winced at the raw soreness in her throat.
Footsteps tapped across the floor. Once the lights dimmed, she squinted at the two men standing by the bed.
"What happened?" she croaked.
The doctor leaned close and peered into her eyes with a pencil-like light. "You don't remember?"
She shook her head, and then remembered. Her stomach tickled her tonsils at the memory of a man hanging from the ceiling, his tongue protruding grotesquely. Her eyes widened in terror, and she opened her mouth to scream.
Callused hands cupped her face, thumb pads gently caressing her lips. "It's over, Jenna. You're safe."
The nightmare continued to rush forth. A bloated face…feet dangling. She clutched at the hands touching her as if her life depended on it. "Somebody hit me in the back of the head."
"With a shovel," Rye confirmed.
"Who…who was hang…"
The man hung himself because he lost his job? And he picked her tack room to do it? "I don't understand."
"Put it out of your mind for now."
The warmth she saw in her employer's eyes kept terror at bay. She clung to his work-roughened hands. They smelled like Dial soap, a familiar scent that was oddly comforting. "What time is it?"
"About two o'clock."
"In the morning? My horses. I've got to go…" She tried to rise.
Rye gently pushed her back by the shoulders before sitting on the edge of the bed. His hip pressed into her side. "Don't worry. It's all taken care of. They're being moved to my barn."
"Jenna," Dr. Haynes's professional voice intruded. "You need to have some tests. A head X-ray and cat scan. Then I'd like to admit you for twenty-four hour's observation."
"I don't want…"
Rye effectively cut off her protest. "Let's discuss whether or not you stay after your tests."
"Fine, but I have no intentions of spending a day in the hospital," she muttered as the orderlies wheeled her bed out into the hall.
The procedures took less than an hour, since it was a slow night at the hospital. She appeared to be the only emergency. By the time she returned to her cubicle in the emergency room, a jackhammer had taken up residence in her head.
Dr. Haynes stood next to her bed, reading her chart. "The police need to ask you some questions. Feeling up to it?"
Jenna forced her gaze from Rye who sat in a chair beside her and focused on the doctor. Hell, no. I don't feel up to tying my own shoes, never mind being questioned by the police. "Do I have a choice?"