I’ve been told to….

Give you all the first chapter of my books. This should give you a real feel for Eden Braverman, RN

Relative Crude:

                Chapter 1

“Another body must have floated up from the Trinity River.”

Eden Braverman smiled to herself when she heard one of the police officers ahead of her comment on the stench surrounding the courthouse.  She tapped the officer’s shoulder when she recognized him from her days in the morgue. “Now, now, Tim, that stench is what keeps the Dallas Medical Examiners office in business.”

Eden and the officers continued climbing the steps to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center.  “You don’t work there anymore do you?”

Tim held the side door open for Eden.

Taking a deep breath before entering the court building, Eden said, “No way.”  The mental image of a man lying on the morgue table with putrid, clear body fluids oozing from his nose, mouth, and eyes with a gaping wound in his chest reminded her why she left the field of forensic medicine before she really started.  “I’ve been working at the hospital for some time now.  I loved the mysteries and all too often mayhem, but the rest….” She left the sentence unfinished, just pinching her nose.  “Gotta run.  It was good seeing you guys again.  Keep the streets safe.”

It was their turn to smile.  “Oh, yah…..”  Tim hesitated, then turned back to Eden, “How’s it going for your sister?”

Eden shrugged, painted a thin smile on her face and answered.  “Not any fun, for sure.  I keep wondering what I could have done to prevent Fran’s pain.  Ever since Mom and Dad died, I’ve been responsible for her and I feel like I failed her.”

A familiar baritone voice from behind her spoke up.  “That’s ridiculous.”

Eden turned. “Wolfe.”

Wolfe Holmes put his arm around Eden’s shoulders.  He nodded to the police officer in a dismissive way.

Tim took the hint and squeezed Eden’s hand.  “Later, Eden.”

“Bye.”  Eden turned and gave Wolfe her full attention.  “Well, I do feel like I should have done something.”

Wolfe walked her past the crowd beginning to mill around the windows, looking at the rain.  “Now, what exactly could you have done?”

She looked around the courthouse and was confronted with the faces of people etched with sadness, guilt, pain, and, possibly the most devastating emotion, indifference.  These sentiments rooted the breakdown of lives and the promises those lives held.

Eden asked. “Why does life throw shit on good people?”  She knew all about unfulfilled promises since her own life suffered the degradation of her marriage but that she could handle.  What Eden was having trouble dealing with was the pain her little sister, Fran, confronted.  “I just don’t want to believe your brother would do this to Fran.”

Wolfe led her to the wooden bench outside the courtroom hearing the paternity case.  “Me either.  Jarod swears he did not father that little boy.”

Eden stood up and began to pace.  She maneuvered around the crowd gathering at the windows to watch the few drops of rain beat against the windowpane.  The crowd and their inane conversation intruded on Eden’s thoughts of lies, illegitimate babies and possibly an impostor but, since Dallas’s rainy season usually lasted about five hours and, if you were lucky, an extra thirty minutes, she couldn’t be too angry at its citizenry’s infringement.

Eden returned to Wolfe, who was watching her pace.  “I just want to fight someone or something.”  Wolfe nodded without comment.  She just needed to vent.  

She continued, “I just feel responsible for Fran.  Big sisters are supposed to protect little sisters.  I failed once when we were kids and I promised I’d never do that again.”  She plopped back down beside Wolfe.  “In the last month, courtrooms, unclaimed babies, condemnation, infidelity, and lies have been the diet of words digested by Fran on a daily basis.”  She stood again and faced Wolfe.  Looking down at Wolfe made her realize that his strawberry blond hair and single dimple made him look more like a little boy than an international private investigator.  “The question to be answered is simple. Is Jarod Fairgate really the father of little Sam Westbrook as Rachel Westbrook is trying to prove or a devoted, honest husband to my sister as he proclaims?”

Wolfe finally spoke.  “I know you weren’t really excited about Jarod marrying your sister.”  He saw Eden start to speak but he held up his hand, “I don’t and didn’t blame you.  The history of the Fairgate men wouldn’t leave you with much hope of honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fidelity.”

Eden just shrugged.  She knew the stories of the Fairgate men and their wandering eye.  “There are times that I wished I had fought harder against the marriage but I was afraid I was just projecting my own feelings since infidelity broke up my marriage.”

Wolfe stretched his long legs out and leaned against the window.  “After all, our dear father, Brock, philandered his way through Dallas’s population of desirable women.  I mean it is an indelible fact; well documented in Dallas lore.  Women were toys to be played with and discarded–the Fairgate legacy. “

Eden heard the sadness in Wolfe’s voice but before she could comfort him she saw her sister, Fran, walk up the hall.

Fran acknowledged her, pointed to the restroom, turned, and entered.  Eden couldn’t help but hurt as she watched her sister walk away shoulders rounded.   So unlike Fran Fairgate, who played softball, tennis, and basketball with the determination and confidence of a professional.

Eden was interrupted by Wolfe’s gentle baritone voice.  “A penny for what’s on your mind right now.”

Eden took a cleansing breath and attempted to lighten the mood for her sister if for no one else.  “Oh, my dear Mr. Holmes.  A penny?  A penny?  From one of the great detectives of all time?  Please, at least a nickel.”  

“Ah, but I don’t know if it’s worth a whole nickel.  I’ve made my money being very prudent and skillful.”  His dimple deepened, as his smile widened.  He realized what she was trying to do and tried to play along, but even for him it wouldn’t work.  “Fran looks so sad.  So tired.  So…..”

“Yeah, no words, I know.”  Eden scrunched her eyebrows and realized that Wolfe told her a couple of days before that he was going to be out of town.  “By the way, how come you’re here today?  Were you called to testify early or something?”

“Didn’t leave town so I’m here for the same reason you are and no, I don’t think I’ll testify.  I got a call from Warren this morning and he said probably not til later this week.”  Wolfe pulled her back down on the bench.

“Warren?”  She asked.

“Oh, sorry.  Warren Blake, Jarod’s attorney.”

“Thought his name was Marion?”

“If you were Marion, wouldn’t you go by your middle name?”  Wolfe nodded to a couple of well-dressed men walking through a door into one of the other courtrooms.  Wolfe stood and stretched, “Well, Miss Braverman, I think I’m gonna saunter over and chat with those two guys.  Maybe they’ll let something slip that will help my little brother since they work for the presiding judge.”  He winked.

“Go for it and let me know if you get anywhere,” Eden watched him walk away.  Wolfe Holmes was nothing like his father nor, if all this trouble with Jarod came true, his half-brother.

Eden and Wolfe’s friendship started long before Jarod and Fran were married.  Seven years ago Wolfe’s wife came in the Emergency Department D.O.A. from a fatal wound to her chest. His devastation overwhelmed Eden and she spent four hours talking to him about anything and everything.  It wasn’t that much later he came in to get privileged information about a patient that was admitted from her area—information she didn’t give him.  He told her later that he just presumed her kindness at the time of his wife’s death would allow him to get confidential material from her. Wolfe apologized over and over again for his arrogance.

Eden smiled to herself.  What he never knew and she never told him was she almost succumbed to his charms, dimple, and wash of freckles across his nose.  Almost was the operative word.  Since then their friendship grew slowly and comfortably.  When Jarod and Fran got married, Eden and Wolfe got even closer—going to baseball games together, sharing an occasional glass of wine, or just chatting at the hospital when he stopped by.  That’s how she knew he treated women with respect, and therefore, nothing like his asshole father.  Eden drew in a deep breath and prayed Jarod learned from his big brother and not his father. 

Wolfe’s devotion to Jarod went beyond the twisted history of a father who hated one son and loved another. Eden didn’t know the convolutions that made Jarod and Wolfe more than just half-brothers.  She just knew they were each other’s best friend and confidante and she appreciated the bond; a bond much like her and Fran’s.

Wolfe Holmes was the illegitimate son who Brock Fairgate accepted grudgingly because of the compassion of two women–Wolfe’s biological mother and Brock’s wife, Jarod’s mother.  Eden knew that Wolfe believed in his little brother with all his heart and because of that she wanted to believe too.  

She had to believe Jarod.  Fran did.  Wolfe did.  She shook her head.  There had to be another reason for all this paternity crap.  Her eyes wandered back to the pecking raindrops on the window.

 The soft touch on her shoulder startled her.  “What?”  Eden’s voice was sharper than she intended as she looked from the window into the steel blue eyes of her brother-in-law.  “Jarod Fairgate, don’t scare me like that.”

He raised his hands in submission, “Where were you anyway?  You seemed a million miles away.”

“At least.”


Eden said, “Oh, nothing really.  I was just . . .Nevermind.”  Eden’s eyes settled on her sister standing outside the courtroom that would decide Jarod’s fate.  

His voice softened as he noticed Fran.  “Me too.”  Jarod turned Eden to face him.  “I don’t know how it happened but I didn’t father that little boy.”

“Well, Jarod,” Eden said, hinging her hands on her hips and narrowing her green eyes.  “Unless something has changed since my divorce, sperm needs a delivery device.”  She pursed her lips, raising her eyebrows and continued, “So to speak.”  She didn’t wait for a response.  “Your wife wants to believe you, your brother does believe you and because of that I will hold judgment.  But, in my recent experience . . .” She waved her own private thoughts away and turned back to the web of highway called Interstate 35 just outside the window.  “Sorry, Jarod.  Just not a good day.”

“Eden,” Jarod pleaded, “I’m not that little boy’s father.  I’m not.  I wasn’t even around when the conception was supposed to have taken place.  I remember because the time she’s saying all this happened I was in London.”  He took a deep breath.  “I’m sure of that.”  He nodded as if someone had just agreed with him. “Yeah.  We were having trouble with someone trying to buy up a lot of Fairgate stock.  It was January a little over two years ago.”

  His six-two frame appeared smaller somehow as he started back to his wife.  Eden slowly walked down the cold corridor behind him toward Fran unsure how long she could support the man her little sister loved more than life itself. 

Eden grabbed his arm just as he reached Fran.  “Jarod.  I don’t want to believe what the newspapers say.  I know how they slant things.  Sex and pain.  It sells.”  The hurt on Fran’s face was evident as Eden continued.  “But, you gotta admit the evidence is drowning you.”  She slipped her arm through Fran’s and squeezed.  “Sorry, babe.  Just saying it like it is.”  She wanted him to explain.  “Tell me I’m wrong.”  Their silence was accented by the cacophony of sounds caused by the clicks of a multitude of heels against the marble floor.

Fran punctuated the wordlessness by picking up an out of town paper and planting it in the middle of Jarod’s muscular stomach.  “Look at the picture of the fairy-tale couple.”  Her eyes narrowed in a perfect mimic of Eden.  “I mean isn’t that what we’ve been called since you married the lowly nurse and brought her to your palace.”  Fran brushed Eden’s arm off her.  “Let’s go in.  People are clamoring to see the inconsolable wife.”  She opened the door before Eden or Jarod could respond to her biting remarks. 

It was then that Eden saw Rachel Westbrook toting a cherub faced towhead on her hip.  Sam Westbrook, a beautiful little boy with what seemed to be a hint of Fairgate eyes or was it that she’d been told that so many times now she was starting to believe it. Separating herself from Jarod, Eden said, “Hey, Westbrook.  I want to talk to you.”

Jarod just missed grabbing her elbow.  “Eden, don’t.  Leave it alone.”

She whirled around just long enough to say, “Not on your life.”  She looked down at the petite accuser.  “Why are you doing this?”  She blocked Rachel’s attempt to bypass her.  “I asked you a question.  Why are you doing this?”

Rachel held her ground as she swiped an errant curl away from her eyes.  “The answer is obvious, Braverman.  The courts are about to bring down a verdict of guilty.  Jarod Fairgate will have to admit he is Sam’s father.”  She tried to pass her, then halted.  “And, bitch, don’t talk to me like that, especially around Sam.”  She put the toddler down and he ran to a bench against the wall, immediately climbing on it.  “Sam is the reason for everything.  Jarod Fairgate owes his son something.  If not loyalty, then at least money.”  She ran and caught Sam just before he tumbled off the bench to the floor.  The gaze at Eden through the long brown hair displayed only hatred.  “Jarod Fairgate is going to pay.  Mark my words.”  Rachel opened the door to the courtroom.  “And, you better stay out of my way.”

Eden wasn’t finished with her comments to Rachel but a familiar voice whispered, “This isn’t the place.”  Wolfe’s voice emitted such calm and understanding.  He continued,  “The media’s waiting to see a cat fight between Fran’s sister and the ‘other woman’.”  Eden turned and forced a smile as she watched his eyes scan the hall littered with photographers and reporters.  “Let’s go inside where we can do the most good.  Support my brother and your sister.”

“Westbrook pisses me off so badly.  If Jarod is innocent, like you say, then I am going to figure this out.”

He took her hand and led her inside the lion’s den.  “I know.”  They found a place next to Fran and sat down.  

Relative Justice

                                                         Chapter One

 Eden Braverman ran past the parked ambulance–lights flashing and back door wide-open.  The blood dotted the cement and trailed into the ED.  They were fresh as her attempt to side-step them failed and she slipped.  The night obviously was starting with a bang.  Happy New Year.  She poured herself into faded scrubs and headed into the hospital just like she’d done a million times before in her twelve-year career.  Nursing was her calling for years and she never regretted it. But her pursuits became more diverse when she helped solve the murder of her sister, Fran, the previous year.  The satisfaction that gave her was profound.  The process and the investigative results drove her to open a small investigation office near Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. 

 She was practical. Nursing was what she knew and what she was good at.  That didn’t stop her from helping others with outside issues when asked.   After all, nursing and sleuthing had the same algorithm—have a problem, look for solutions, organize those results into a workable scheme and then solve the problem. 

She glanced in the trauma room and recognized the familiar resuscitative attempts of a Code Blue.  

“I’ll be right there. Gonna get my stethoscope.”  She increased her pace on her way to the locker room.  She flung her purse into the vicinity of a chair, grabbed a stethoscope someone had tossed on the small table and quickly turned the sharp corner from hallway to trauma room.  Why, oh, why did she say she’d do charge tonight?  No time to run away now. She looked around at the frantic commotion aimed at the gurney in the center of the room.  

“What’s up?” Eden said. She came to a halt beside her friend and colleague, Stephanie Jameson, whose eyes were glued to the victim on the gurney. 


 The cacophony of voices trying to out-do each other with their importance was drowned out by the silent agony on her friend’s face.

“Hey.  Steph.  What’s up?  Was it a car accident?” Eden looked at her again.  “Hey, did you know the victim?”

“Yes,” Stephanie said. “The call center got an anonymous call of a car wreck and someone dead off Dallas Parkway.”  Her tone was flat and sad.

“Stand back,” the ED intern shouted, then placed the metal paddles on the patient’s chest and pushed joules of electricity through the body, trying to remind the heart to beat.

“Steph?”  She pulled at her friend’s arm. “Are you okay?”

 The stoic, devastated look was rapt to the wounded person on the stretcher.  Eden would figure out her friend’s inertia later.  

“Guys where are we?”  Pulling out another Epinephrine from the familiar crash cart, she raised her eyebrow to the recorder.  “Ready for more?”

The intern charged the defibrillator again.  “Clear.” 

 The shock coursed through the lifeless body demanding it to respond. It didn’t.  The patient’s back arched slightly, then fell back into unresponsiveness.

Eden moved one of the nurses out of her way and followed the IV line from IV bag to insertion site. She started to push the Epinephrine and looked at the patient.  She swallowed hard.  The small, bruised cyanotic woman on the stretcher was Stephanie’s mother, Tricia Jameson.  “Oh, crap.”  She whirled around.

 Stephanie stood watching the scene, shaking her head and letting tears fall down her cheeks without any attempt to catch them.

The intern commanded, “stop.”  He checked pupils, listened to the heart.

It was of little use. Morbidity was already settling in the lower extremities.  

Stephanie slowly moved from the back of the room. “Leave her alone.” She stood beside the stretcher. “Let her be.  It’s too late.”

The intern looked sharply at Stephanie.  “I think we need another round of meds and defibrillation.”

  “I don’t and she’s my mother.”

The shock was palpable in the room.  Everyone looked at the patient, then to Stephanie and then to Eden.  No one knew what to do.  Everyone stepped back.  Of course, she was right.

The intern went over the code sheet, looked from Stephanie to the clock, “Time of death, 2033.”

Eden allowed her friend total access to her mother by moving IV poles, crash cart, and people away from Tricia.  In no way was she going to interfere with Stephanie’s grief.  She signaled to the paramedics.  “Guys, I’ve got this.” 

The blue-gray hue of death sporadically brushed with dark red blood painted the finality.  No amount of medicine, knowledge, or determination would bring Stephanie’s mother back to her.

Eden moved a small stool under her friend, “Sit”—a command, not a request.

 A nod was all she got or expected.  

The deafening quiet in the trauma room and the cacophony outside the double doors reminded her that she needed to be in both places.  

“I’ll be right back.”  Leaving the room, she stepped into the surreal atmosphere of other needs—both serious and mundane.  

To the receptionist, Sally, she directed.  “Call Dr. Alexander.  He’s needed.” She looked at one of the other nurses. “Can you cover the clinic stuff for a while. 

  After an affirmative nod, she turned to one of the paramedics sitting at a computer not doing anything.  

“Steve, you need to start bringing patients back from the waiting room.”

The staff responded to her positively and she was grateful.  

“That’s not what the assignment sheet says. I’m supposed to sit with the suicidal patient in 6.”

“Not right now.  Stephanie is sitting in the trauma room with her dead mother and I’m going to do what I can for her.” 

 He started to protest. 

“Please, Steve, I need you to help.  I’ll find someone else to sit.”  She walked away not waiting for an answer.  “Sally, call bed management.  We need a sitter for 6.”

 What now?  Patients families milled around outside each exam room.  They didn’t care what was going on in the trauma room and Eden understood that, so, if she couldn’t comfort Stephanie right then, she knew someone who could.

She needed her Aunt Gretchen.  Her aunt who, after the death of her own folks, was more a mother to her than an aunt was always her go to for help.  Aunt Gretchen fixed almost anything.

The phone rang only once.  The nasal tone in the voice that answered was still slightly recognizable.


“Eden, baby, I called in.  I feel like shit.”

“I need to know the degree of sick.  You know, dying or I have a headache and don’t want to work.”

Gretchen’s scruffy voice stopped short with a, “Ow, ugh. My throat is killing me.”

“So, I can assume not dying.”

Gretchen’s voice cleared. “Why?”

“Tricia Jameson was just brought in.”

“What?  How is she?  I’ll be right there.”

“Gretch, she apparently was in a car wreck and,” Eden paused before finishing because she knew Tricia was Gretchen’s good friend, “she’s dead.”

The silence was overwhelming. 

 “Dead?  How?  I mean what? Oh, shit, I don’t know what I mean.  I’ll be right there.”

Eden hung up and walked back into the hubbub of the ED.  The organized disorganization could only be seen by an educated eye.  The charts were being picked up by the paramedic and he was taking the patients back to rooms for examinations.  The nurses were carrying out orders on charts lying on the counters.  The phones rang incessantly and were picked up by ancillary help.  Everything was getting done. She turned to the ominous closed doors of the trauma room.

Before entering, she looked through the window.  The gut-wrenching memory of her sister laying on the same type of gurney that Stephanie’s mother now laid on brought tears to her eyes.  Medicine hadn’t been able to help her sister either.  She cleared her throat, swiped at her eyes and pushed through the doors.  “Stephanie, I called Gretchen to stay with you while I work.  She’ll be here soon.”

Stephanie didn’t look up.   She just stared at her mother.  “Eden, where are mother’s clothes?  Did the ambulance crew really have to strip her naked?”  She pulled the bloody white sheet over her mother’s shoulders.  “It’s so demeaning.”

For the first time, Eden noticed that Tricia didn’t have any clothes on.  There was no reason for that.  “I don’t know what the ambulance crew came up on.  They’re still doing paperwork out in the ambulance bay.  After Aunt Gretchen gets here, I’ll go talk to them.”


“Stephanie, what can I do?”

Stephanie finally looked away from her mother and turned her swollen, red eyes of devastation to Eden. “Nothing.  I just want to know what happened.”

The double doors flew open and Gretchen Wilhelm bounded in trying to keep her thick red hair away from her eyes—something she spent a lifetime doing.

 “Stephanie. I am so sorry.”  Gretchen moved over to the gurney and encircled Stephanie with her over-sized arms. “What happened?  Do we know anything yet?”

 “Now that you’re here,” Eden said, “I’m going to go talk to the ambulance crew.  I’ll be back.  I called Dr. Alexander for you, Stephanie.”


Gretchen’s quizzical look asked the question.  Gretchen hated not knowing everything.

 “Stephanie and Dr. Alexander have been dating,” Eden said.

Gretchen just nodded then turned her attention back to Stephanie.

 “Stephanie,” Eden said, “I’ll go call Eric again before talking to the guys.”

“Why so important to talk to them?” Gretchen said.

“Tricia didn’t have any clothes on.  That doesn’t make any sense.”  She said as she left the room, not waiting for a comment from her aunt.  What she didn’t say out loud was that no paramedic removes all the clothes of a victim.  They don’t take the time.  It just wasn’t done.  So, why would Tricia Jameson be an exception?

The next book isn’t part of the Relative series


 Chapter 1

His body ached from exhaustion.  He needed to sleep.  He couldn’t without….

 He took the tattered, discolored letter from the desk and reread it.  That was his proof that she loved him as much as he loved her.  So, why was she running from him?   He toyed with the bracelet Kate gave him and caressed the picture of her.  Oh yes, she loved him.  She was so beautiful–her big brown eyes and brown hair falling over her shoulders. Earlier in the day, he saw the spitting image of his love walking into the nursing office–Jonna.  Close, but not his beloved Kate.   He picked up a picture of him and Kate when he was younger and kissed it.  It was signed– To Teddy.  Love, Kate. The warmth of the words stirred a passion that would be realized very soon.  Then, she would grasp that he was a grown man now.

Jonna Billingsley, night Supervisor for surgery, headed back to the nursing office after a night of surgeries, patient arrests, and nurse call-ins.  She ran into the nursing office and found her friend Sara, ready to give report to the on-coming shift. Her sheepish grin told everyone she knew she was late.  “Boy, was that a night from Hell.  Deagan Medical Center outdid itself.  We had four emergency surgeries in a matter of three hours.”

Sara mocked her with a swipe at an invisible tear.  “Poor Jonna.  Did you forget its summertime?  All the vacationers with their jet skis, liquor, speed boats, liquor, deep sea fishing, liquor, dancing, liquor, swimming, liquor . . . “

“Okay, okay I get the point.”  Jonna’s cellphone rang. “Hello.”

“Tell your mother she’s mine.”

“What?  Hello?”

Sara said, “Who was that?”

Jonna couldn’t take her eyes off the ‘unknown’ showing on her phone.  “Just a guy saying to tell Mom was his. Who is he?”

Sara squinted.  “Weird.  Maybe it was Perry?”

Just then Jonna’s phone rang again.  This time the caller ID said Mom.  “Hey, Mom.  You’ll never guess what just happened?”


Jonna walked away from the gawking eyes of the other nurses and motioned for Sara to go first.  “Sorry, Mom, I’m still at work, but I just got a call saying tell your mother she’s mine.  What could that possibly mean?”   Jonna didn’t hear anything.  “Mother?  Is there something wrong?”

Kate cleared her throat.  “What could possibly be wrong?  Probably Perry and he got cut off or something. He can be a practical joker, you know.” 

“No, I don’t.  Remember, I don’t know Perry that well.”

“Listen, finish your work and we’ll talk real soon.  Promise.

“Are you sure?  I can give report in a little bit.  You had to have called for a reason.”

“It can wait.  Love you and I’ll call tomorrow.  Bye.”

Jonna heard the click of the phone.

“What’s up?”  Sara tapped Jonna’s arm.

“Not sure.  Mother sounded, oh I don’t know, strange.”  Jonna turned to the nurses who were waiting for report. She pointed to the report sheet.  “Come on let’s finish, we need to get out of here.  Jett is meeting us at The Recovery Room for a night cap.”

Jonna saw Sara look out the window at the rising sun.  “A day cap.”

“Clements, you can be . . .”

“Oooo, used my last name.”  Sara laughed.  “Just give report.”

 Jonna was ready to go.  She had better things to do besides hang out at the hospital when she heard the intrusion of the overhead page that abruptly ended the comfortable babble between the nurses.

“Doctor Doolin, Doctor Pete Doolin, stat to room 365.”  She knew that the monotone from over-head warned that a potential for disaster was in progress. 

 Jonna felt Sara’s hand on her arm and followed her.  Jonna shook her head and the soft brown curls covered her face.  She hated that natural curl that her mother thought was so adorable when she was a kid.  “It’s our job, I know.  Shit, I just let my hair down, too.”  Aware of Sara’s tug on her sleeve she checked her watch.  “It’s late, but I guess I don’t mind seeing that jock from Texas Tech sweat and I know you don’t.”

The overhead page boomed.   “Code Blue, 3-West, Room 365.

Jonna and Sara walked into an eerie order within the chaos.  Nurses picking up specific jobs without being told, one charted meds, one retrieved needed equipment, while one gave the drugs ordered.  There always seemed to be someone, not always delegated, overseeing the scene and attempting to contain the chaos into acceptable parameters.

Jonna walked over to the patient’s bed.  “Pete, do you want the bed up a little?  You’re going to break your back trying to work bent over like that.”  She raised the bed not waiting for an answer.  “Sara, you’re the best IV starter in the hospital, can you help Carrie?”

Jonna saw the respiratory therapist hook the patient’s endotracheal tube to the ventilator and made the appropriate settings per Doctor Doolin’s orders.  Jonna gave Sara some fluid to hang after she got the IV started.  “What happened?”

Carrie answered.  “He’s a post-op cholecystectomy and started having chest pain, went into a second-degree heart block and dropped his pressure.  I paged Doctor Doolin, but by the time he got here the patient went into complete heart block and wasn’t breathing.”

Doctor Doolin glanced up from the patient.  A single bead of sweat escaped from the drops of moisture clinging to his forehead.  It followed the path made by a small scar on his right cheek.  He told everyone that on the final tackle of his college career an opposing player spiked him.  

              Pete turned to Jonna.  “Can you call CJ?  We need to put a pacemaker in this man.”


Jonna glanced at the monitor and saw the patient had progressed back into a second degree heart block; still with a very low blood pressure.  Jonna turned and saw CJ standing in the doorway, appraising the situation with raised eyebrows and dark expressionless eyes.  He moved people aside to get to the bedside, never apologizing for the displacement of staff.  “I’d rather do the temporary pacemaker in ICU.”

Jonna looked around, nudged Sara and said, “Is everything is handled around here?”  She didn’t wait for a response.   “Sara and I are getting out of here.”  She looked at the people whose shift just started.  “Have a good day.”          

Jonna and Sara walked across the street to The Recovery Room bar.  Jonna squinted as they walked into the bar, “That was a bad night.  I feel like I had to tell my legs to move.” 

      “ Jonna. Sara. Over here.”  Jett waved to them from the back by the bar.  Jonna saw her good friend and responded with a motion of her hand.

      “You were about to be x-ed off my favorites list by this tiny black woman with a temper.”  Jett’s scowl wasn’t threatening.  “The Emergency Department was just as busy as your areas last night.”

Jonna looked at the table and under it.  “Oh, well.  I don’t see any drinks waiting for us.  Can’t be too late, Ms. Horn.”

                Sara motioned for the waitress.  “Could I have a diet coke, please?”

Jonna broke in.  “I want a Vodka Collins, please.” 

Just then a well-dressed well-built man approached.

Jett looked up.  “Hi there, Will.” 

 Jonna smiled.  “Well if it isn’t William T. Samuels, Homicide Detective.  Long time-No see.”

He shrugged.  “You just haven’t been in the ED when I’ve been there.  I saw you cross the street and figured I’d come in and say hello. Can I get you ladies a drink?”

Jett interjected, “You sure can.  I think the waitress left.  So, Jonna will take a Vodka Collins and Sara will take a Diet Coke.” 

“You don’t have to do that.”  Sara started to get up.

“I’ll be right back.”  Will gestured for her to stay seated. 

 He returned with the drinks and his cell phone pinned between his ear and his shoulder.  “Well ladies, I hate to leave such beautiful company but duty calls.”

“Well, that was an awful short visit.”  Jonna said.

“Like I said, duty calls.”  His smile was captivating.

“Well, okay.  Bye.”  Jonna watched as he walked away and couldn’t help but think about the cover of GQ magazine.  “He has to be on the take or rich.”

Sara asked.  “Why do you say that?”

‘Those threads look very expensive.”

Just, then, Colleen Wilhelm walked in.  “Hey, ladies, can this old woman join you?”

Jonna retorted.  “You’re not old because if you were old so is Mother and she’d never have that.”

“Point taken.”  Colleen motioned for the waitress and ordered a drink.  “Hey, Jonna, I hear you and Marty had a fight.”

“Who told you that?”  She looked at Sara.  “Never mind.”  Sara’s face colored.  Jonna looked back to Colleen.  “It’s just marriage, marriage, and more about marriage.”

Colleen looked perplexed.  “What’s wrong with that?  I tried it three times.”

Jonna couldn’t help but smile.  “Tried is the operative word.”  They all laughed. 

Sipping on their drinks and chatting about the night, Jonna noticed it was getting quiet. “Hey, we gotta get going.  My bed is calling me and by the silence, it’s calling you, too.”

The others got up to leave and Colleen grabbed Jonna’s arm.  “Before we go, have you talked to your mother lately?”

“Just a little bit ago.  And, it was really strange.”

“What do you mean?”  Colleen put the tip on the table and started to follow Jonna out. 

 Jonna looked at her mother’s best friend. “Some guy called me just before mother did and told me they would be together soon.  Have any idea what that’s all about?”

Colleen’s eyes widened and then she shrugged.  “Nope. Could have been Perry?”

“Mother said the same thing but why would mother’s boyfriend be so cryptic?”

“Maybe he got cut off or something.”  Gretchen got to Jonna’s car.  “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Jonna watched Colleen climb into her Jeep.  There was something in Gretchen’s voice. Something in her demeanor.  Maybe she should be worried.

The sun beat down on Jonna as Sara drove the convertible back to the apartment.  Sometimes I forget why you and I love it here,” Sara said as she took in the sites.  Jonna’s eyes were closing but she wasn’t asleep.  She watched through half-opened eyes.  The drive back to the apartment from The Recovery Room gave everyone a view of the important high points of this lazy, family oriented city.  Three blocks from the bar, the University hid itself among a small forest of trees and a bridge spanning the water that flowed from the Gulf.  Jonna knew that behind the trees was the campus of Deagon University with its consistent southwestern design on all the buildings.  Sand colors and pastel pinks and greens.  The primary study was Oceanography.  Students from all over the country and few foreign students attended here for their Ocean Studies degree.  

Closer to the apartment complex they could see the gulf in all its splendor.  This time of year the waters were swarming with all the tourists enjoying water sports.  This early in the morning, the crowds were just starting to congregate.  Their apartment was across the street from the beach.

“It really is a pretty city.  I noticed that the new shopping mall just past the university is getting quite a few stores in it.  Think of it.  We won’t have to go to Houston for our big shopping sprees.”  Jonna’s voice made Sara jump and Jonna snickered.  “Scare you?”

               “Thought you were asleep.”

“No.  Just taking in the sights.  I wonder if we’re going to get any sleep today?  I love the location of our apartment but it sure can get noisy some days.”

“You sleep like the dead.  What are you talking about?”

Sara turned into the apartment complex.  Jonna sat up.  “I didn’t think you’d ever get here.  You drive slower than my mother.”

Sara looks at the sky and after careful consideration decides to raise the top of the convertible.  “Could rain a little before we come back outside.”

Jonna walked into the apartment ahead of Sara and heard someone in the kitchen.

Recognizing the falsetto of their next-door neighbor, Jonna knew their intruder.  A high-priced lawyer who never lost a case–just ask him.  Joseph DeLuca decided to become the brother neither of them ever had.  Jonna remembered the first time she saw him at the sliding glass door between her kitchen and the patio.  His investigative skill found the area that lent itself to intrusion from his apartment to theirs.  She smiled as she revisited that morning:

Jonna, in her bikini underwear and large shirt, looked up from the eggs she poached and was startled by her tall, good-looking neighbor at the door.  Angry, but not afraid, she slid the door open with a force that drove Joseph back a few steps.  She cleared her voice after an initial quiver and shouted.  “What the Hell do you think you’re doing creeping up on me like this.  I should call the cops and I may still do that, but I’m curious.  How did you get in here?”

Joseph pulled his long, shiny black hair behind his ears with both hands.  “Hey, I didn’t mean to scare you.  I just needed some coffee, smelled yours, and found a small open area in the fence between our patios.  Not a good way to introduce myself.  Sorry.  I know we haven’t formally met, but . . . well, I’m neighbor Joseph.”

“So what.  You live next door.  You’re still trespassing.”  Jonna watched him fiddle with that thick hair that ran down to the middle of his back.  “You nervous?”  Jonna asked.

“You’re scaring me.”  His smile exposed the cutest dimple in his left cheek–not in his right.  He had such a way about him. 

“Well, that’s good–then you can’t be Jack the Ripper.”

Joseph said.  “I could be.  But I’m not.  I’m an attorney here in town and I should know better than to scare my neighbors, whom I hope will become my friends.”

That was two years ago and since then the three of them have become very good friends.  Joseph hasn’t changed except his hair has gotten a little shorter–not much.  He informed everyone that he was Samson reincarnated.  His conceit didn’t overshadow his affability.  Jonna closed the front door and yelled.  “Honey, we’re home.  Sure hope breakfast is ready.”

The whistling stopped in the middle of his aria.  “Coffee’s ready if that’s what you call breakfast.”


Published by ritr72

I have been an RN for over 45 years and all my fiction writing uses my nursing as a backdrop. My protagonists are nurses needing to solve mysteries. On a non-fiction note, I'm still working as an RN, raising grandchildren, and writing whenever I can.

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