A deadly outbreak opens old wounds. A virus is sweeping the Navajo reservation, and two of Sheila Metcalf's childhood friends are dead. For her, that's a call to leave Hideaway, Missouri, and return to Arizona. Neither her father's objections, nor the arguments of Preston Black, the man she loves, can stop Sheila from returning to the land of her youth. Her nursing skills are needed, and it's past time she found out the truth about her mother's long-ago death.
There's a medical mystery to unravel, secrets about the past to uncover and questions about the future to explore. Along the way, Sheila will need courage and strength--and faith that God will protect her and lead her to where she belongs.
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December 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Double Blind by Hannah Alexander
Curved, white wolf fangs gleamed against the blackness of Sheila Metcalf's closed eyelids. She winced, eyes opening wide as a clipboard slipped from her fingers for the second time in less than an hour. It clattered onto the tile floor of the private patient room of Hideaway Hospital. As the sound reverberated into the hallway, her neck and shoulder muscles knotted with anxiety.
She glanced at the bed, where her patient, Mrs. Mann, remained asleep. At least the commotion had not disturbed her. Sheila only wished she didn't feel so disturbed this morning...so unsettled, with an old, haunting, long-suppressed nightmare threatening, more than once, to follow her into her waking hours.
"Hey, girl, what's up?" Jill Cooper, slender, dark haired and attractive, strode into the room at her usual brisk pace. She rescued the clipboard from the floor, glanced at it, then gave Sheila a look of concern. "Something wrong?"
"Sorry," Sheila said. "I'm fumble fingers this morning for some reason."
"Time for a break." Jill's voice was filled with the concern so evident in her gentle blue eyes. With her typical economy of movement, she set the clipboard on the nursing desk, then turned again to Sheila. "Why are you a fumble fingers?"
"I'm just distracted. I promise I'm not usually like this."
"Think I don't know that?" As nurse director of Hideaway Hospital, Jill had every right to question a substitute nurse's bumbling mistakes, but her concern was warm and personal.
Sheila tried to smile, and knew the result was more of a grimace. She and Jill had known each other since Sheila had fled here to Hideaway with her father twenty-four years ago. The older sister of one of Sheila's best friends in school, Jill understood what it was like to live with specters from the past.
Jill took a step closer. "So what's the distraction?" she asked softly. "Want to talk about it?"
Sheila thought about the shadows of memories that never quite materialized, questions that had returned to nag at her after all these years. The fangs. The terror.
"Relax," Jill said. "We don't eat nurses for breakfast."
Sheila forced a smile. The confessions could wait until later.
"Dr. Jackson tells me differently."
Jill chuckled. "Call her Karah Lee, and don't listen to a thing she says. I picked on her a little when she first arrived, and she'll never let me live it down." Jill's blue eyes turned serious again. "What is it?"
"Just stuff. I'll get it figured out, don't worry."
"All the same, I think you need some downtime. A few minutes to regroup." Jill reached into the pocket of her scrub top and pulled out a stethoscope. "Besides, Preston Black is in the building." She said the words with one eyebrow raised, a half grin on her face. "He wants to talk to you."
Sheila ran the tip of her tongue along her teeth to keep herself from saying anything. Preston didn't understand the word no.
Jill held up her hands, correctly reading Sheila's expression, her blue eyes twinkling. "Don't blame me. I didn't tell him you were working today, he just saw your Jeep in the lot. He's placing a bid for the upcoming construction on the hospital, and he's come to talk to our new comptroller, Doris Batson." Jill winked. "You'd better keep your hands on that man. Doris is one of my best friends from high school, and I can tell you from personal experience that she's a hunk magnet. Half the men in the hospital are already drooling over her."
Sheila gave a pointed glance toward Mrs. Mann, in the bed across the room. Though the casual atmosphere here was a relief from the tension in her old job, Sheila hoped the staff didn't make a habit of discussing personal issues in front of the patients.
"Mrs. Mann isn't wearing her hearing aids," Jill assured Sheila. "I keep trying to get her to put them in her ears, but she refuses. Says they garble everybody's voices."
As Jill stepped to the patient's bed, she glanced over her shoulder at Sheila and jerked her head toward the door. "Out. Now. That's a direct order. Even if you don't talk to Preston, you need a break."
"Where is he?"
"Front office, chatting to Blaze Farmer last I saw him. I'll see you in the break room in a few minutes, and you can tell me all the juicy details, including this strange desire you suddenly seem to have to go to Arizona."
Sheila's eyes narrowed. "Preston can't keep his mouth shut."
"Actually, I think it was Blaze who blabbed for all to hear, and you know what good buds Preston and Blaze are. Was it supposed to be a secret?"
"Not necessarily, but it wasn't something I wanted to be discussed by everyone in the break room, either."
Jill pointed her thumb toward the hallway. "Out. We'll talk about it later. Try to grab a cruller before Karah Lee and Blaze eat them all."
Sheila sighed. Jill laughed. Mrs. Mann grunted, and Jill leaned over the bed, pressing her fingers to the elderly lady's wrist.