Nurse Elana Schultz can't believe she's now reporting to Brock Madison! By rights she should want to avoid him--he was involved in the crash that killed her sister, and caused her family great pain. But it's clear that Brock has suffered, too, and Elana finds herself longing to tempt a smile from her brooding new boss.
Dr. Brock Madison had wanted a fresh start. Instead he'll be working alongside the one person who reminds him of the past he's desperate to forget...and the one person whose compassion and beauty have started to melt his heart.
Brock can see that Elana is a nurse in a million, and that she's the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with...if only she will let him in!
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April 01, 2010
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Excerpt from The Nurse's Brooding Boss by Laura Iding
Elana Schultz dashed into the emergency department of Trinity Medical Center, heading straight for the time clock, swiping her badge at exactly three o'clock in the afternoon.
On time. Barely. Breathing a sigh of relief that she'd made it, she quickly stuffed her purse into her staff locker and crossed over to the arena where the charge nurse was going through the shift assignments.
"Elana, you and Raine will take the trauma bay," Stacey informed them. "Suzette, you're taking the urgent care area. Emma, you're arena team one. Liz, you're arena team two..."
"How was your long weekend?" Raine asked in a hushed whisper so as not to interrupt Stacey's monologue.
"Good. Everything went well. I'll fill you in later," Elana whispered back.
"Any questions about the assignments?" Stacey asked, looking up from her clipboard. After a moment of silence she nodded. "All right, there are twenty-seven patients on the board, with eleven still waiting to be seen. The trauma bay is currently empty; the last patient has been dispatched to the medical ICU. It's been a busy day, but not too crazy. Let's hope it stays that way for our shift." Stacey set her clipboard aside. "Call me if you need help."
That was their cue to leave. The group of nurses broke up, scattering to their various assignments.
"How's your aunt Chloe?" Raine asked as she fell into step beside Elana on their way to the trauma bay.
"She's much better. Her cardiac stent procedure went off without a hitch." Technically, Chloe Jenkins wasn't Elana's blood relative, she was Elana's foster mother, the last and by far the best in a string of horrible experiences. If not for Chloe, Elana knew there was a very good chance she would have ended up on the streets.
She owed Chloe her life.
"I'm so glad she's doing all right," Raine said softly.
Elana smiled. "Me too. You know how close I am to Chloe." Her mother, Louisa Schultz, had been in a nursing home since Elana was fifteen after suffering a complete relapse of her nervous breakdown. Her mother's emotional state had collapsed after Elana's father had walked out on them. She'd gotten better slowly over time until Felicity's death had sent her into a deep emotional breakdown. Elana still loved her mother and faithfully visited every weekend, but it had been nine years, and her mother still hadn't spoken a single word.
"You missed the big announcement while you were gone," Raine said.
Elana raised a brow and took the trauma pager from the first shift trauma nurse, who looked all too eager to give it up. "What? We're all getting pay raises?"
"Yeah, right." Raine let out a snort of laughter. "No. There's a new doctor on staff. He started the day after you left, as a matter of fact."
Elana shrugged, sweeping a gaze over the trauma bay. She got along fine with the doctors she worked with, but she didn't go ga-ga over them like some of the other nurses did. Most of the doctors were married anyway, and the ones who weren't were--in her opinion-- single for a reason.
"I'm telling you, Elana, he's hot. And he's single. At least, I'm pretty sure he is--Suzette was pumping him for personal information."
Their trauma pagers went off simultaneously, interrupting Raine's story. Elana read the text message.
Motor vehicle crash, 23 y/o female trauma victim ejected from the car, intubated on the scene. ETA two minutes.
Motor vehicle crash. Female trauma victim ejected from the car. Just like Felicity had been.
Elana swallowed hard and clipped her pager back onto the waistband of her scrub pants. Even after nine years, any reminder about her sister's tragic death made her feel sad. With her mother's emotional collapse and her absent father, Elana's life had spiraled downhill. Thank heavens for Chloe, who'd rescued her before she was too far gone.
"I wonder if he's working today?" Raine asked.
It took her a minute to figure out Raine was still talking about the new doctor.
"How do you know he's single?" Elana asked.
"Because Suzette talked to him. Weren't you listening? He's young, just turned thirty, and he's hot. Like, steamy hot."
No, she hadn't been listening. Elana shrugged again and crossed over to the supply cabinet, opening drawers and ensuring the day shift staff had restocked everything after the last trauma patient had been transferred up to the medical ICU.
"There he is," Raine hissed.
Before she could turn to look, the double doors of the ambulance bay burst open. Two paramedics wheeled in the young female trauma patient. Elana took her place at the right side of the patient, while Raine took the left. Trauma resuscitations were not as chaotic as they were made to look on television. Every person had their role to play, and predesignated responsibilities, depending on where they stood. Elana tended to take the right side because she liked doing the vital signs and initial assessment.
"Two liters of Ringer's lactate are going into respective antecubital eighteen-gauge IVs. Suspected cervical fracture, limbs flaccid at the scene, C-collar in place. Intubated in the field with a seven-point-five endotracheal tube."
Elana connected the patient to the heart monitor, listening as the paramedics rattled off the pertinent information. The new doctor stood at the foot of the bed, but Elana's attention was riveted on the patient. This young woman was older than Felicity had been, but only by a couple of years.
A suspected cervical fracture. Possibly paralyzed for life. How awful. Felicity had died at the scene of her accident, but, really, which fate was worse? Staring down at the young woman's blood-streaked face, Elana wasn't sure.
She did a quick assessment, getting the first set of vital signs and doing a quick listen to the patient's heart and lungs. When she finished, she flipped her stethoscope around her neck. "Vitals are low, BP 76/40, pulse tachy at 122, pupils sluggish but reactive and equal in size. Lungs coarse but bilateral breath sounds noted." She glanced up at the new physician and froze.
Her chest tightened, and she had to remind herself to breathe. No, it couldn't be. She had to be mistaken. She hadn't seen him in years. Maybe this guy just looked like an older version of the Brock Madison she remembered.
"Do you want to continue the Ringer's lactate solution, Dr Madison?" Raine asked.
"Yes, although we may need to transfuse a unit of blood too."
The room spun, and Elana had to grab onto the side rail to keep herself upright. Dr Madison. Brock Madison was the new doctor on staff.
And he was also the driver of the car that had hit her sister's vehicle nine years ago. The man who'd caused Felicity's death.
* * *
Brock hid his surprise at seeing Elana Schultz again, although the shocked expression on her face mirrored the turmoil in his gut. With an effort, he forced himself to ignore his personal problems and concentrate on the young trauma victim before him.
"Start with two units of O-negative blood," Brock ordered. "We need to get her stabilized before we send her to the CT scanner to evaluate the extent of her injuries."
Raine did as he asked, but Elana simply stood there, hanging onto the side rail and staring down at the patient, clearly in shock. As much as he appreciated what she must be going through, at this critical juncture he needed the entire trauma team to be working together. He moved closer, keeping his voice low so it wouldn't carry. "Elana, if you can't do this, please find someone to take your place."
She snapped her head around to look at him. The fierce expression flaring in her eyes nearly made him take a step backward. After a moment's hesitation, she glanced away, took a deep breath and let it out slowly, unclasping her tense fingers from the side rail. "I'm fine. Do you want a full set of labs?"
"Yes. We need to know if she's bleeding internally." Brock couldn't help admiring the way Elana jumped back into the trauma resuscitation. He'd known she'd graduated from college with a nursing degree because he'd kept tabs on Felicity's younger sister over the years. But he hadn't realized Elana had taken a position here at Trinity. Ironic that she'd chosen to work in the emergency department, providing care to trauma patients. Like her sister.
And yet hadn't he gone into emergency medicine for the same reasons?
He watched as she drew a set of blood gases and then filled another four lab tubes with blood. Reassured that Elana was doing all right, he turned his attention back to the patient. He was somewhat worried about the young woman's lung function, but, even more, he needed to know what her hematocrit and hemoglobin levels were.
"Get me those H & H results stat. In the meantime, let's make sure there are no other obvious sites of bleeding."
Elana and Raine worked well together, he noted. Since arriving at Trinity Medical Center, he'd been impressed with how well the emergency and trauma center staff gelled, from the techs to the nurses up to and including the physicians. A true team approach. Things hadn't been quite this cohesive in his former position.
Within a few minutes, Elana reported new vitals. "BP up to 84/42, pulse a little less tachy at 117. We're making some headway."
He nodded, agreeing with her assessment. If they could get this patient's blood pressure up to the nineties, he'd be satisfied enough to send her to the CT scanner. If she needed emergency surgery on her spine, he didn't want to delay care. On the other hand, he didn't want her to crash in the CT scanner, either.
"We have the H & H results," Elana announced. "Hemoglobin is 7.8 and hematocrit is 29."
"Give another two units of O-negative blood, Raine," he ordered. "Keep running the fluids too; I'd like to see her systolic blood pressure over ninety. I'm going to call Radiology to make sure they're ready for her. One of you is going to need to go with her to the CT scanner."
"I'll go," Elana volunteered.
He gave a brief nod, turned on his heel and walked to the nearest phone. Within moments he had everything arranged with the radiologist on call.
His gaze settled back on Elana, watching her as she worked. With her jet-black hair pulled into a long pony-tail, her high cheekbones and olive-toned skin, a gift from her Hispanic mother, she was stunningly beautiful. She'd grown up from the gangly teenager she'd been nine years ago.
And she had every reason to hate him.
The familiar guilt surged like bile in the back of his throat. He tore his gaze away and swallowed hard, trying to focus on the monitor above the female trauma patient's head. This wasn't the time or the place to wallow in the mistakes of the past.
"Blood pressure is up to 95 systolic after the first unit of blood. We still have one more unit to give, but she seems to have stabilized for now. Do you want me to take her for a CT scan?" Elana asked.
He nodded, the lump lodged in the back of his throat making it impossible to speak.
She didn't need to be asked twice. Within moments, she and Raine had the patient disconnected from the main monitor and reconnected to the portable one they used for transporting patients. As Elana whisked the patient away, he found himself wondering if she'd volunteered to go to the CT scan for the sole purpose of getting away from him.
Possibly. No, probably. Damn. The last thing he wanted to do was to cause Elana any more grief. He certainly didn't want her to quit her job because of him. She must love trauma nursing to have chosen to work here, and Trinity Medical Center was the only level-one trauma center in Southeastern Wisconsin.
He sighed and scrubbed his hand over his face. Talk about his rotten timing. If he'd known Elana was working here, he could have handled their first meeting a little differently.
No, who was he trying to kid? There was nothing he could have done to make this meeting easier for her. The scalding look she'd sent him had stabbed deep. He'd leave himself if not for the fact that his brother needed him. And the fact that he'd signed a twelvemonth contract.
"So, Dr Madison, how do you like it here at Trinity so far?" Raine asked, cleaning up the area around the trauma bay.
He cleared his throat. "It's great. I'm glad I made the move from Minneapolis."
"Minneapolis's loss is our gain," Raine said with a smile.
Raine was pretty enough with her dark red hair and her bright green eyes, but he wasn't interested in the signals she was sending out. He didn't date, especially anyone who might be interested in a future. He couldn't help glancing at his watch, wondering where Elana was.
He wished they could talk. There had to be some way to ease the tension that shimmered between them.
For years he'd longed for a chance to explain. To redeem himself in her eyes if at all possible.
So much for seeking forgiveness. Remembering the banked fury in her dark eyes, he knew there was no chance in hell Elana would give him that option.
He didn't deserve her forgiveness.
"How much longer?" Elana asked, casting a worried glance at her patient. The young patient's name was Jamie Edgar, and her blood pressure was starting to slip downward.
"Ten minutes," the tech assured her.
She increased the flow of the fluids to help maintain Jamie's blood pressure. Keeping busy was helping her to forget about Brock Madison, who happened to be waiting for them in the trauma bay.
What on earth had she done to deserve this? Why after all these years was it her misfortune to have to work with the man she despised?
She rubbed her aching temple, hearing Chloe admonishing her in her mind. Don't talk like that, young lady. Brock Madison wasn't the person at fault in the accident, your sister was. She pulled out right in front of him! It's certainly not his fault Felicity died.
In some tiny corner of her mind Elana knew Chloe was right. Her sister had pulled out onto the busy highway in front of Brock without warning. But he'd also been speeding, at least according to one of the witnesses on the scene.