Hannah Alexander
Heart beat
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Hideaway Excerpt page 1


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 baby’s 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 o’clock, she already felt as if she’d 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 at seven.

She wouldn’t 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. Now.

"Dr. Allison? How you doing, hon?" It was Ardis Dunaway, the most seasoned nurse in the hospital, and a good friend.

"You don’t 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. "I’ll 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 ago?"

"That’s right, it sped right on past us to University Hospital."

Good. Why couldn’t 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.

"I’m 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 wasn’t 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 mother’s shoulder, jotted a quick order for the nurse, and followed Ardis down the hallway. "What’s up?"

"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 she’s been calling for you by name."

"For me? What’s her name? Did she say why--"

"She won’t give the attendants any information," Ardis said. "Nobody told her you were here, she just asked for you. I thought you’d 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 hospital’s equipment.

From the book : Hideaway

by Hannah Alexander

Imprint Series: Steeple Hill Women's Fiction-Hideaway

Publication Date: October 2003

ISBN: 0-373-78507-0

Copyright 2003,

By: Hannah Alexander

® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement wit Harlequin Books S.A.

For more information surf to: http://www.eharlequin.com/

Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.


Hideaway Excerpt page 1