Seth stood up, and raised his champagne glass. “To Nolan, whose research is on the brink of saving millions of lives every single year.”
“To Nolan.” Amy, Bridget, and Suzanne said in unison, and clinked their champagne flutes with Nolan’s.
“Suzanne, you must be so proud of your husband.” Bridget said. “I can’t help but notice the admiration in your eyes. It lights up your whole face.”
Susanne nodded. “I couldn’t be prouder. And Nolan insists the three of you are equally responsible for the success of his research.”
“Not true,” Amy said. “Nolan is our fearless leader, and we are merely minions doing his bidding.”
“Look!” Seth pointed at Nolan. “His head is getting bigger by the minute. You girls better knock it off with the compliments or his enormous ego won’t fit through the door of the lab in the morning.”
“Seth!” Amy punched him on the shoulder.
The steak and lobster were mouthwatering. But Seth could hardly take his eyes off Amy the entire evening. That little black dress, those long legs even sexier in stilettos, hair flowing like silk over smooth shoulders. Her southern charm and gentle way came out more with each sip of champagne. He found her irresistible tonight.
They celebrated into the evening until Seth noticed Suzanne’s eyelids getting heavy.
Nolan reached over, and took her hand. “Ready to call it a night, love?”
Suzanne tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a yawn. “I guess all the excitement tired me. I hope the rest of you will stay. Nolan will leave his credit card with the waiter.”
Seth pushed back from the table. “I’m stuffed and getting tired myself.”
Pulling his keys from his pocket, Seth nodded toward his car. “Is everyone okay to drive? I switched to water and coffee awhile ago; I can chauffer all of you.”
“I wouldn’t mind a ride.” Amy seemed grateful for the offer.
“I’m okay, but thanks Seth.” Bridget hugged Suzanne, and smiled at Nolan. “Thank you again for a decadent dinner.” Waving, she headed to her car. “Have a nice evening, everyone. I’ll see you all in the morning bright and early.”
Seth chuckled, and watched as Nolan took Suzanne’s hand, waved at his colleagues, and started across the street.
“Nolan!” Suzanne shouted, and Seth turned just in time to see the see an old Cadillac sedan slam into Nolan’s back with a sickening crack, sending him soaring.
Nolan felt his wife jerk his arm, but the force ripped him away from her. In an instant he was in the air. Higher, higher…
Dizzy and confused, he looked down and saw Suzanne’s eyes wide, her mouth open in a piercing scream.
Can’t breathe! Panic gripped him. Pain seared his spine. The impact knocked the air from his lungs, and everything went into slow motion. He could hear Suzanne crying out for him in the street below. The pain of a thousand tiny razors coursed fiercely through his body.
He gasped for air, arms and legs flailing. His heart raced with panic when he realized the black pavement was rushing toward him. He could see all of them; hear their shouts, and then… Nothing.
“Nolan!” Suzanne screamed.
Seth rushed to keep her from running into the street, quickly looking over his shoulder to see if Amy and Bridget were safe. He whipped around in time to see the sedan speeding away into the night; horrified that he never saw its brake lights come on.
“Oh, my God, stop!” Seth screamed after the car.
Nolan crashed to the street with the horrific sound of shattering bones.
“Call 911!” Bridget shouted. She struggled with her purse to find her cell phone.
Amy sank to her knees on the sidewalk. “Oh, please, please, somebody help us! We need an ambulance!”
Seth was in the street, at Nolan’s side in an instant.
The angle of Nolan’s body was frightening. His left leg and foot were twisted and mangled, left arm bent at his side, and right arm lay lifeless above his head. Blood saturated the pant legs of his suit and trickled onto the street, but most alarming was the growing puddle of blood oozing from the back of his head.
Suzanne crumpled beside Nolan, wailing hysterically.
Seth took off his suit jacket and draped it around her, but she ripped it off, reaching out to place it under Nolan’s head.
“No, Suz, don’t move him until the paramedics get here.” He took the jacket from her and draped it around her shoulders again, crouching over to warm her.
She trembled so violently it shook the two of them.
He shouted toward the restaurant, “Has anyone called an ambulance! We need an ambulance here now!”