“Go ahead and lie down on that cot,” she said as she assisted Alex into the back of the vehicle.
“Do you know where you are?”
His blank look added to the sickening feeling in her stomach.
“We ready to roll?”
Piper glanced at the other EMT on the scene. They might as well go without her because there was no way in hell she was leaving without at least seeing that Ryan was okay...and to tell him of miraculously discovering Alex.
“Go ahead and take him. He’s got some memory loss so he doesn’t know his name. Make sure the doctors are aware this is Alex Santiago and he’s been missing for months. I’ll go inform an officer because Alex was the subject of an ongoing investigation.”
Turning her attention back to Alex, Piper offered a warm smile. “You’re in good hands now, Alex. I know you’re confused, but I’ll be at the hospital as soon as I can to check on you.”
Continuing to hold on to his wrist, Alex leaned back on the gurney. Piper closed the doors and tapped the back to inform the driver he was good to go.
With several paramedics now on the scene, Piper felt comfortable going in search of Ryan.
After searching frantically, running through the chaos, she found him next to the road on the other side of the overturned semi. Her knees weakened with relief at the sight of Ryan whole and upright. He was a good bit from his car, so she had to assume the officer had taken him aside to get his statement.
But glancing at Ryan and actually talking to him were two different things. He looked fine, but looks, as she’d discovered numerous times over the years, could be deceiving. Internal injuries were nothing to mess around with and could prove fatal even when a patient looked perfectly fine.
Added to needing to know the extent of his injuries, she had to tell him about the mind-blowing discovery she’d just made.
Alex Santiago was alive. Their friend who had been missing for months was alive and on his way to Royal Memorial Hospital with an obvious broken wrist and some memory loss. But he was alive.
But, my God, what in the world had he been doing in the back of a semi-truck filled with illegal Mexicans? So many questions whirled around in her mind. She had no idea what the hell was going on, but she knew Alex was probably scared and confused.
As Piper moved closer, she noticed Ryan holding on to one of his sides. A trooper was jotting down notes and nodding as he took Ryan’s statement. Piper closed the gap, but stayed a few feet away, waiting for him to finish.
The sight of him with a slight bruise over his right brow and his hair even messier than usual made Piper want to throw her arms around his broad, muscular body and squeeze him to death for scaring her. But he’d probably laugh at her if she got all misty-eyed or mushy right now.
She’d seen this cowboy compete on the rodeo circuit countless times. She’d seen him get knocked around, bucked and nearly trampled, but nothing had terrified her more than the sight of his totaled car.
The trooper stepped away and Piper inched closer on still shaky legs.
Ryan caught her eye and offered that crooked smile. “Hey, Red.”
That smile could melt the panties off any woman...and it had according to rumor. But Ryan was her friend so her panties had stayed in place over the years. Though she wasn’t blind—her bestie was the sexiest cowboy she’d ever laid eyes on.
With that dark, messy hair usually hidden by a black Stetson and heavy-lidded baby blues, yeah, Ryan Grant was one very fine-looking cowboy and he did some mighty nice things to a pair of well-worn jeans.
“You need to be seen,” she informed him, raking her eyes over him to look for other visible injuries. “And I won’t take no for an answer.”
“I’m just sore and banged up a little, that’s all.” He reached out, grabbed one of her shaky hands and squeezed. “You look tense. I’m fine, Piper.”
“You will be checked out because you’ll want to come to the hospital anyway when I tell you who I saw.”
Ryan shrugged, hissing and grabbing his side again. “Who?”
Piper’s eyes darted down to his ribs. “If they’re not broken, they’re bruised, so you’ll be going straight to X-ray when you get there, big boy.”
“Who did you see?” he insisted.
All joking aside, she leaned in and said, “Alex.”
“Alex?” he repeated. “Alex Santiago?”
Piper nodded. “He was in the back of that semi.”
“Piper...” He eyed her as though she was the one who’d hit her head. “Alex was in the truck?”