The scream of an ambulance bounced through
the mauve and burgundy corridors of the Missouri Regional
Hospital on the west side of Columbia. An elderly man
moaned. A babys cry stung the air through the center
of the eight room emergency department.
Dr. Cheyenne Allison slipped into the
untidy doctor call room, closed the door and locked it.
All she wanted to do was collapse onto
the bed and never get up.
Ordinarily, she could breeze through
a twelve hour shift and still have enough energy for a
nighttime jog along the Katy Trail. Today, at two oclock,
she already felt as if shed been on duty for twenty-four
hours without a break. In spite of her flu shot, in spite
of the antiviral she had begun soon after symptoms struck,
she felt like the framed, green and purple blob on the
wall that some poor, misguided idiot had mistaken for
art when they remodeled this department.
She had a full blown case of influenza.
She sank onto the chair and pressed the
left side of her face against the smooth coolness of the
desk top. If only she could stay here until shift change
She wouldnt live that long.
The telephone buzzed above her head.
She reached up and punched the speaker button without
opening her eyes. "Yes." She needed out of here.
"Dr. Allison? How you doing, hon?"
It was Ardis Dunaway, the most seasoned nurse in the hospital,
and a good friend.
"You dont want to know,"
Cheyenne said. "Did you get those orders on bed one?"
"I got em. You need to see
the baby in five. Fussy, with a fever of 103.7 in triage."
Cheyenne resisted the urge to ask Ardis
to call for a physician replacement. "Ill be
there." If she could just get out of this chair .
. . if she could just raise her head. "Is the Claforan
hanging on Mr. Robb yet?"
"Got it, and the shoulder x-ray
on the girl in five."
"Did I hear an ambulance a minute
"Thats right, it sped right
on past us to University Hospital."
Good. Why couldnt they do that
with the rest of their patients today? Divert them all
to the big boys. It amazed Cheyenne that this place stayed
so busy, with the two trauma centers only moments away.
Still, the homey atmosphere here drew them in.
"Im coming, Ardis."
Ninety seconds later, wearing a fresh
mask to protect her patients from any stray germs, Cheyenne
checked out a fussy infant with a red ear, using a bulb
insufflator to blow air onto the eardrum. His cries bounced
from the walls and blended with the wail of another siren.
Must be a busy day for University and Boone County.
The tang of warm urine gave evidence
the little one wasnt terribly dehydrated.
As Cheyenne reassured the mother and
comforted the child, the wail outside grew louder.
It stopped. Too close.
When the siren died the baby fell silent,
and his mother relaxed noticeably.
Moments later, Ardis stepped to the exam
room door. Gone was the motherly grin that typified the
seasoned nurse whenever she entered a room. "Dr.
Allison, we need you in room three."
"Coming." Cheyenne patted the
mothers shoulder, jotted a quick order for the nurse,
and followed Ardis down the hallway. "Whats
"Ambulance brought us a chest pain
patient. Twenty-eight years old."
"Suspected drug abuse?" For
someone so young, that was the norm.
"The attendant says it looks more
like a panic attack, but they said shes been calling
for you by name."
"For me? Whats her name? Did
she say why--"
"She wont give the attendants
any information," Ardis said. "Nobody told her
you were here, she just asked for you. I thought youd
want to see her quickly."
Cheyenne entered the exam room behind
the nurse. An ambulance attendant hovered next to the
patient with his chart, checking blood pressure as another
nurse transferred ekg leads from the ambulance monitor
to the hospitals equipment.
|From the book :
by Hannah Alexander
Imprint Series: Steeple Hill Women's Fiction-Hideaway
Publication Date: October 2003
Copyright © 2003,
By: Hannah Alexander
® and are trademarks
of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement wit Harlequin
For more information surf to: http://www.eharlequin.com/
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.