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by Emery Sanborne
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Serving as part-time coroner for the quiet town of Road Narrows, Dr. Landa Carson believes her trip to the countryside to check out a dead hunter will be as uneventful as the rest of her day. It is?until Landa catches a whisper on the breeze and discovers the remains of a young woman buried beneath and ancient oak tree. One body leads to another and more? Landa has overheard the thoughts of the dead since childhood and has learned one thing: the dead have no insight to offer the living. The last thing to pass through your mind is rarely a revelation. Which is unfortunate since the dead girls are haunting Landa's dreams. Driven to find the killer and give the victims (and herself) some peace, Landa soon learns that the safety of small town life is no more than an illusion and that the people you love can be the most dangerous.
eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: June 2010
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [175 KB]
Reading time: 102-143 min.
"Plenty of fluids, Maureen, and rest. Which means no Halo until his fever breaks."
"But Billy just made it to--"
"Maureen," I kept my tone even and patient, though I wanted nothing more than throttle the woman on the other end of the line. "Video games don't allow his body to relax and recover. Unless you want Billy to end up in the hospital, you will unplug the Xbox and keep him hydrated."
"You may have gone to Michigan and have those fancy degrees hanging on your wall--"
"I went to State." I'm a Spartan through and through, don't you dare accuse me of being a Wolverine.
"Whatever. You aren't a mother, Landa. I think I know what's best for my son." The call disconnected with an audible click.
Days like this made me wish I'd opted for the post at Detroit Mercy instead of coming back home to sleepy Road Narrows to take over Dr. Lance Carey's family practice. Compared to treating former school rivals and their children, my ER rotation with the near daily gunshot wounds that rolled in had been easy. At least today was Friday. Two full days of peace and quiet lay ahead of me. So long as my patients did as instructed and took their emergencies to Urgent Care in Charlevoix, maybe a fifteen minute drive in bad weather. Some weekends, they actually did.
In Road Narrows we had the great blessing and misfortune of being a fair distance away from both Lake Michigan and the inland lakes of the area. This meant we were off the beaten path just far enough to avoid the summer inundation of tourists. Great for local sanity, but really bad for local businesses. It also guaranteed the Narrows would always be a hop, skip, and jump away from becoming a ghost town. In a good year.
"Yes, Ellen," I replied to the voice over the intercom. Ellen Dutton may have helped deliver me, but she was a nurse of the old school and used my title accordingly.
"Your three-thirty is all set to go in room one."
"Thanks. I'll be right there." With reception where Ellen sat maybe a half-dozen feet from my office door and the wafer-thin walls of the cramped three-story, post-Victorian monstrosity where I had my practice, there was really no need for an intercom. But it made things more official and seem a little less backwoods country doctor. The one upside to the whole situation was that being dual zoned, I could live upstairs and work downstairs. I never would have gotten a commute like that in Detroit.
Slipping back into my lab coat, I tried to smooth out the wrinkles in my clothes. Wrinkle-free was a misnomer. A quick peek in the mirror showed my short brown hair in acceptable disarray--I'd never been able to break myself of the habit of playing with my hair when frustration set in, short or long.
Knocking on the door once out of courtesy, I entered the exam room. My patient's smile had a slight, lopsided tilt due to the stroke that had forced him into early retirement. With a full head of gray hair and abundant laugh lines, Dr. Carey was still a fine looking man at seventy.
"Dr. Carey, you seem in good spirits today." I greeted him with a smile of my own.
"How many times have I told you, we're equals now. Lance, please." He spoke slowly, taking care to enunciate every word.
"Sorry, no can do. You'll always be Dr. Carey to me, sir."
"Drop the sir, at least."
"I'll try." Flipping open the chart, I made a couple quick notes before turning to the quiet man in the gimme-cap who sat in the corner. "How are things going, Tom?"
"So long as we keep out of each other's way, things are pretty good. Right, Uncle Lance?"
Dr. Carey nodded.
Tom had taken Dr. Carey in once his rehab had gotten to the point where the old man had gotten close to self-sufficient again. Dr. Carey could have gotten away with living on his own--I'd seen people who hadn't been half as lucky do that--but someone else keeping an eye on him never hurt. Both men had lived on their own for too many years to count, so the arrangement had taken some getting used to. Still was, depending on the day. For the most part, Tom's unobtrusive, easy-going nature balanced out Dr. Carey's more structured, slightly anal tendencies.
I grabbed up the blood pressure cuff and wrapped it around Dr. Carey's right upper arm. "No dizziness, shortness of breath, or anything else we should be worried about?"
He shook his head, saving speaking for when it was absolutely necessary. I wish more people were like that.
Tom verified all was well and the rest of the exam supported that. Residual stroke effects aside, Dr. Carey was almost as healthy as a man ten years younger.
After filling out and handing over the refill scripts to Tom, I told them both, "Unless anything comes up, I won't need to see you back here for six months."
"What if I want to come back sooner?" Dr. Carey asked as I helped him down from the table.
"In that case, you'd better have one of your nephew's fantastic pies in hand. I'll make sure to have some good coffee saved up. That all right with you, Tom?"
"Oh, I might be able to manage. I have some blueberries left over from this summer."
Homemade blueberry pie was my favorite and Tom made the best in the area. Some people were uncertain about eating Tom's pies. Taxidermist and baker weren't skills that tended to go together, but he managed. I had always wondered if he'd taken up taxidermy to cover for berry hunting. Searching for prime dead wildlife and berry picking often covered similar terrain.
Once they left to checkout with Ellen, I almost did a dance. Last patient for the day, weekend here I came.
I cleaned up the room, readying it for the next week. Ellen hated it. That was her job, she'd say, doctors had enough to worry about. I never liked having anyone picking up after me. I was a big girl and, doctor or not, I cleaned up my own messes. It had gotten me in the good graces of the nurses I worked with during my residency, if not my current nurse.
I finished and returned to my office to wrap up some remaining paperwork in time for Ellen to interrupt over the intercom. Figured I would get an emergency. Early Fridays were never in the cards.
"Sheriff Walker's on line two," she said.
Or maybe not.
"Thanks." I picked up the line. "This better be about when we're meeting for drinks tonight, Jack."
"Sorry, kid, this call's strictly business."
"You promised me you'd call Howie the next time."
"I did. Unfortunately, old Mrs. Emmett had other ideas."
"I bet she planned it to spite me."
"You did run over her dog," Jack pointed out. I could almost see his full lips curling in a smirk while his blue eyes danced in wicked amusement.
"Not intentionally." Even if the mongrel had bitten me. Twice.
"Howie offered to buy the first round the next time we're out together."
"I better get more than one drink out of the bastard." I sighed. "What have your boys found?"
"Hunter, half-frozen. Probably a heart attack."
"Then you don't need me to come out."
I had taken on township coroner duties in addition to Dr. Carey's medical practice. On the upside, Howie Greeley, my other best friend and the town's funeral director, had taken on the role following Dr. Carey's stroke, staying on after I moved back to split the duties. I was more than capable of handling the role as full-time coroner, especially with how few people did live in our area and how long said few lived. However, the dead could be a bit more work for me than my living patients, which Howie fortunately understood. Jack, on the other hand, tended to be too practical for such "nonsense".
"Landa, it'll take you all of five minutes once you haul your ass out here. You like these kind of deaths. Easy in, easy out." His voice dropped an octave. "I'll even buy you dinner."
"Burger and a beer at Narrows' Tavern. You sure know how to woo a girl."
"You forgot the fries."
I checked out the state of things next door to find the blinds were down. Howie only drew the blinds when he had a viewing coming up, less for privacy and more as a secret signal to me. After three years of this, you think I'd be more observant. "Fine, let me wrap things up here. Where you at?"
Jack gave me the address, or what constituted an address for a copse of trees on the outskirts of town.
"Be there in fifteen."
Switching off my computer, I grabbed up my coat and headed to the outer office.
"Anyone we know?" Ellen inquired, pausing to tuck a strand of iron gray hair behind her ear before she resumed typing, never once looking up. She wasn't being rude, just being Ellen. The woman was never idle if she could help it, even when carrying on a conversation. I always suspected she invented multi-tasking.
"Jack didn't say. Probably one of the weekend warriors from downstate getting a jump on things."
"I thought November was one big party for those boys in neon orange."
"Is there anything I need to come back in for when I'm done?"
She shook her head. "Nothing that won't keep until Monday."
"Thanks." I smiled. "What would I do without you?"
"You'd manage. Not as well. But you'd manage."
With a grin in parting, I tugged on a wool knit hat, making sure it lined up straight. If the seam's not right, it bugs me. I might look like a bald-headed freak in the hat, but heaven forbid it get crooked.