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A Medical Thriller
BY ANN DOMINGUEZ
Medical student Kate Deming isn’t sure her marriage will survive till graduation. She hasn’t seen her husband or daughters in days, and her reclusive sister has stopped answering her calls. The turf war between the gangs and the mafia has made this Chicago’s deadliest winter on record, and every case that rolls into the emergency department is worse than the last. Kate recognizes the danger in her supervisor’s smile, but he’s so hot she may just take him up on it anyway.
When the CEO of the hospital dies in front of her, Kate reaches out to his widow. But the murdered man is not what he seemed, and Kate’s own sister is trapped in his web of lies. Will Kate be able to extricate her sister before the killer comes back to finish what he started?
A Medical Thriller
BY ANN DOMINGUEZ
To keep myself from watching him walk away, I dialed the number. The rush of heat under my skin had me sweating. At least Jack had left before that began. Too late, I realized I was calling a total stranger in the middle of the night. A total stranger who was probably on the rack with grief. Before I could hang up and pray she hadn’t heard the phone, someone answered.
“Frank?” she said, breathless.
Oh, no. She didn’t even know he was dead? “Um… no, this is Kate Deming—”
Warning bells clanged in my head. In my stupor, I must have dialed wrong. I knew that voice. “Lara?”
“Damn you! How did you get this number?”
There had to be a mistake. I waited for my brain to catch up to my ears.
“Tell me! How did you get this number?”
“From Mary Oberholzer.”
The line went dead.
“Lara? Lara?” I held the phone away from my head and glared as if I would be able to see her through it. The ED still hummed around me. Had I imagined the whole thing? I hit redial and waited until the phone rang, twice, three times.
“I’m here,” she said, “but I don’t think this phone is safe. Can you call me on my cell?”
“Of course, but I—”
“Call me back from a different phone!”
I looked around. The overnight clerk flirted with a paramedic, and Dr. Dennis headed into room three with one of the nurses. No one paid any attention to me while I scooted over to the next chair and self-consciously dialed Lara’s cell.
“Can you meet me?” she whispered.
Her breathing was shallow and raspy, as if she was holding back tears. “Not here…” Her voice trailed off again, and I waited.
When was the last time I had heard Lara upset? I remembered the days when she had been an emotional teenager, stuck in grief after our father had died, but that was more than ten years ago. Since college, Lara had been Uberwoman. I was the one in the middle of a midlife crisis.
She took a big breath and let it wheeze out, like an old woman with emphysema. “How about Pete’s?”
“Um, sure.” If you paid your way through grad school tending bar, you probably knew about the bars across town. “How did you—”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
I hadn’t seen Lara since Thanksgiving, which hadn’t gone particularly well, and she had been pale and thin. Now I was frightened for her. Was she really Oberholzer’s mistress? Did she know who killed him? And what if they were after her, too? Let her be okay, let her be okay,echoed in my head as I pedaled past the parked cars.
The wind made my ears sting and puffed my parka out like a plastic bag. The overcast sky glowed urban orange. Groups of students stumbled on the sidewalks here and there, laughing too loudly and trying to walk straight, but I felt the chill and thought of the feud between the Bloods and the Russian mafia. Shadows threatened between the cones of street light. I pedaled faster.
By the time I reached the bar, I had convinced myself it was all a big mistake. Mary Oberholzer was losing her marbles, and there was no relationship between Lara and Frank. I didn’t know how Mary got Lara’s number, but she was wrong about their affair. Lara was way too smart for that. Perhaps he had been her landlord, and she was worried someone was going to call for the rent. Would that be enough of a reason for her to sound so frightened on the phone? Surely Dan and I could come up with a month’s rent for Lara while she pulled her act together. We would straighten everything out.
People trickled in the door. A young woman came in alone. She was in her late twenties and was about seven or eight months pregnant. Her wool coat was open around her belly, and the toggle-buttons hung flaccid, like flags without wind. She was wearing an oversized Bears jersey and leggings. The bouncer actually greeted her, although he didn’t card her either, and he clearly expected more conversation than he got from her. Immediately, she was looking around for whomever she was meeting. I tried not to stare at her—mostly at her belly, which looked out of place in the bar—but it was a losing battle. Finally she saw me hiding by the pinball machine, and she made a beeline for me.
“Kate?” she hollered over the noise.
I did a triple take at her belly. She pulled a chair out a mile from the table and sat down. “Did you want a drink?” she asked, gesturing toward the bar.
“What happened to you?” Had she not come over to me, I wouldn’t have recognized her at all.
Lara’s mouth flattened into a line. She looked just like our mother. “I’m pregnant, all right? You should know the signs—crabby, big belly.”
Ann is a writer, doctor, and mom of four. Her writing has appeared in JAMA and Medical Economics. She blogs at http://AnnDominguez.wordpress.com. When she’s not writing, parenting or doctoring, she enjoys reading and running. She hopes someday to finish a cup of tea before it gets cold.
Links to Ann’s website, blog, books, etc.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Ann is giving away copies [kindle or nook copy (emailed gift certificate), pdf (via email), or if willing to wait 2 weeks for a paperback via mail, (US shipping only)] of THE MATCH to three lucky readers who comment on her Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog. Thank you, Ann, for sharing your story with us.
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