The moment GloryAnn Cranbrook met her new patient at the children's clinic, she broke a rule by getting attached. But at least she felt something, unlike her handsome boss, Dr. Jared Steele. The man who'd once cared enough to open the clinic now refused to perform the technique he'd become famous for. The technique that could save the boy's life.
Why? And could GloryAnn--and the child who needed them both--change his stubborn mind?
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January 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Healing Tides by Lois Richer
Once he'd written up the charts and the nursing shift had changed, the hospital settled down to its usual midnight calm.
The drag of an overfull day sucked at his energy, but Dr. Jared Steele kept pushing himself to stay awake, kept looking for some sign that their newest patient, a young boy from Venezuela, would make it.
Joy to the world.
The carol poured from the caretaker's radio down the hall.
Christmas--it used to be such a happy time. That last one, Diana had dressed Nicholas up like Santa's elf--
He slammed the door closed on the thought, forced his mind to blank out the pain.
At three o'clock one of the nurses brought a fax from Elizabeth Wisdom.
Sending you help. Best there is. Don't spoil it. E He shoved the paper in his pocket, stifled the epithet that rose up his throat. Do-gooders who thought life in Hawaii would be little more than a beach vacation. Doubtful this one would last three months--like the others.
Jared leaned back in the chair, stretched his legs in front and began rotating his head, trying to ease out the crick in his neck. The boy awoke, watched him.
Jared checked to see if the nurses were around. They weren't. He reached out, picked up the boy's hand. Steady pulse. Good.
"Hey, champ," he whispered. "You're hanging in there. You keep doing your part and I'll do mine, okay?"
The solemn gray eyes blinked. "Not much of a Christmas for you, is it?"
No response. "I know how you feel." He rubbed his thumb back and forth over the baby-smooth skin, reminded of another child, one who'd been stolen from him. "Close your eyes and relax. It's okay. I'm here. I'll take care of you."
He kept talking and eventually the boy's lashless lids drooped, his chest moved in a smooth even rhythm. But Jared didn't leave and he didn't go to sleep. And when the boy flatlined he was there to begin resuscitation immediately.
"Don't die on me," he whispered as he pressed the thin chest repeatedly. "Too many have gone already. You have to live."
The heartbeat fluttered back. "That's right. You can do it. Come on."
But as the dark night grew chilly and shadows moved outside, Jared recognized the signs of his own powerlessness and chafed against it.
"Don't go," he begged. "The world needs kids like you to make it better." But the boy remained comatose. At four-fifteen the little life began slipping away.
Jared forced the prayer from his heart. "Don't take him. He's just a kid. His parents have only him." The heart monitor stumbled, came back slower, less responsive. Bitterness welled in a wave so large he could hardly swallow past it.
"You have Nicholas," he said. "Isn't my son enough?" No answer.
Jared dredged up long-forgotten training, coaxing the frail body to call upon its last resources. By six o'clock he was able to hand over to his assistant, assured that for now, the child would live.
He walked out of the mission to the rocky precipice that overlooked the silver-gilt ocean and watched the flickering rays of sun smear the morning sky crimson. In the caverns of his mind Jared heard a squeaky little voice he hadn't heard in three years.
A voice silenced by a madman. "Look, Daddy, a boat on Christmas morning. Is it Santa Claus?"
"Why?" he whispered, heart squeezing in misery. The sun ascended. Humanity awoke. Around the world people were opening their gifts, laughing, loving. But inside Jared's soul lay a barrenness that yearned for answers.
Heaven remained mute.
Two days later
"It's a mission. A hospital for burned children. It's called Agape and it's in Hawaii."
Dr. GloryAnn Cranbrook struggled to absorb the information. She'd known Elizabeth Wisdom for ten years and never once had she heard anything about a mission. Just how many projects did Elizabeth and her foundation have?
"Hawaii?" she repeated, uncertain she'd heard correctly.
"Oahu." Elizabeth's dreamy smile hinted at fond memories. "I was asked to sit on the board of Agape many years ago by--a relative."
So Elizabeth was connected to the mission. But Glory knew a lot about The Wisdom Foundation and she knew Elizabeth had no siblings, so this mystery relative was intriguing.
"Agape has been internationally recognized for its work with injured children." Sixty-plus years hadn't left a mark on Elizabeth's clear skin. "Our mission boasts the latest in equipment, specialized staff, and with Dr. Steele's new grafting procedure, the latest treatment for burned children. Your job would involve working with him as on-staff pediatrician. For six months."
"I did spend a large part of my internship on burn wards," GloryAnn admitted. "I also spent a year studying the psychological effects of physical damage as it impacts a burn victim."
"Because of your mother." Elizabeth's austere face softened.
"Yes. She suffered greatly." Her chest constricted with the ache of loss.