Sunday, December 22, 2013

First Sneak Peek at Hearts to Heal

Gwynn here, having to brag a little about a long out of print tale of mine that will soon be available again!. You got a peek at the cover a couple of posts back but here it is again and now I'll offer a short excerpt, too.

A bit of background, when I lived in southern Arizona some years ago, my late husband and I were avid outdoor folks and did a lot of hiking, 4-wheeling and exploring. In April of 1999, we went hiking in the Huachuca Mountains up at the top of Carr Canyon Road with another couple. We were trying to find an old  mine where we'd picked up crystals years before on the debris dumped down the hill from driving the adit or mine tunnel into the mountain. I had an kind of freaky accident that day and broke both bones in my right leg, just above the ankle. I kept calm through the adventure by telling myself I had to remember everything I could about the affair so I could put it into a book! Later that summer I did exactly that and Healing Hearts came to be written. I even borrowed a bit of inspiration for the hero from the orthopedic surgeon who put me back together and told me I would be hiking again in a few months, as indeed I was. He was a very good looking man and I am sure garnered a bit of feminine admiration from patients and medical staff with whom he worked! But Dr. Jerry is not him in a thousand key ways. I never make a real person a character but gather bits and pieces from many real people!

Bonnie, the heroine, is not me at all, probably less of me in her character than in most of my heroines, but I enjoyed her a great deal and she became very real to me during the writing. Secondary characters came along and became real as well, each one with a key role to play in the story as Jerry and Bonnie took turns related the epic of their rocky road to building a relationship. I'm so happy that this special book will soon be available to readers again. I know it was not widely distributed before so it will be new to most who encounter it!

Here is a tidbit, the first confrontation that appears in the book. Bonnie and Jerry are not strangers and have clashed a bit before! You can bet there will be a lot more fireworks here before the HEA ending!

Dr. Jerry Bertini shuffled out of the operating room, shedding his mask and gloves. Five major surgeries in nine hours, starting at eight this morning. Two legs, one hip, one elbow and one arm smashed into splinters. Why couldn’t people learn to keep their bones in one piece? If they ever did, he’d be out of work, but there was little danger of that. Between the crazy scrapes the college kids and GIs got into, the auto crashes, and the normal childhood mishaps, he could clone himself twice and still be busy.
In the doctor’s lounge, he shoved quarters into the soda machine, grabbed the cold can that clattered down, and sank onto the closest of the sagging chairs. He dozed off before he finished the cola, only to be startled awake by the intercom. Hearing his name, he had a hunch it wasn’t the first time he’d been paged. Oh shit, another one.
By the time he reached the ER, he was wide awake again. He finished the lukewarm soda and chucked the can. Ann Flannigan had the x-rays ready for him, already clipped on the light box. She was a good nurse, not like many of the giddy young girls, too immature and irresponsible for their profession.
He studied the film for a few seconds. Nasty break. Tibia and femur both, almost in a line, angling upward from the outside, just above the ankle. The ends of both bones were pushed down, distorting the muscle and over-stretching the ligaments and tendons. Surgical reduction. No other option, really. He crossed the hall to the cubicle where this as-yet-nameless patient waited.
He recognized her at once—Bonnie Verdugo, the prickly, opinionated little Latina EMT. She looked up as he swept through the curtained door, chocolate-flecked hazel eyes sparking defiance. Beneath her dusky tan, she was pale, stress and tension visible in the tightness of her lips, the pinched look to her nostrils. All considered, though, she was dealing well with the shock and pain. They had her on an IV already. Good.
Enjoying the unusual chance to have this particular woman at a disadvantage, he folded his arms and observed her for a silent moment. Of all the female EMTs and student nurses he worked with, she was the only one he could not reduce to tears or simpering giggles with a few choice words. Now, he couldn’t resist a jibe.
“Well, if it isn’t Ms. Super-EMT herself. How does it feel to be the victim?”
“Like a bad day at work. I wouldn’t be here if I had a choice.”
Her husky voice held the same go-to-hell independence that blazed in her eyes. Fidgeting in the wheelchair, she twisted the end of her long braid. Only the slight tremor of her hand revealed her anxiety.
He snorted. “Just like jail, ninety percent of the people end up here due to their own stupidity. Unless some old lady ran you down with her wheelchair, I’d bet you’re in the same boat.”
“Hiking accident,” she ground out. “I slid about eight feet and lit on my bent ankle. A nasty break, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Nasty, but fixable. I’ve got to do an open reduction—put some hardware in there to hold everything in place while the bones heal.”
She huffed out a breath, looking everywhere but directly at him. “My insurance ought to cover that. They don’t make exclusions for stupidity, last I heard, or clumsiness. I just want to be back on both my feet as soon as I can.”
“Be a walk in the park. You’ll be hiking again in no time.” He glanced at his watch. “When did you last eat?”
She looked up at the clock on the wall and mentally counted. “About 2:30, two granola bars up on Platina Ridge. Almost five hours now.”
“Okay. I’ll go set up so we can get that surgery done this evening.”
Jerry turned from the room, feeling her gaze boring holes in his back all the way down the corridor. That’s one tough little lady. Got a chip on her shoulder bigger than New Jersey, but a lot of gumption in a small package. Make that a small, easy-to-look-at package.
Dirty and hurt, bundled in one of those ridiculous floppy gowns, she was still all woman. Hardly bigger than a half-grown kid, but there was nothing childlike about her. He’d heard she had to fight for everything she had, too. Well, there were worse ways to get there, and it certainly made a person value what he achieved.
His own progress hadn’t always been easy, but he wouldn’t trade his M.D. for the top post in Grandpa Bertini’s Boston law firm. And he could never have reached the pinnacle until the old man, Dad and brother Joe were all gone, even if he had chosen a legal career. Medicine was better, anyway.
Here, every case was a special challenge—to undo the damage and make someone whole again. He was never too tired to feel a thrill when he accomplished it. No, he’d made the right choice, maybe for the wrong reasons, but still the right choice.

Bonnie was already under anesthesia by the time he prepped and went into the OR to do his job. On the table she hardly raised a ridge under the blankets, folded back from her leg to bare it from the knee down.
His weariness fell away as he took the scalpel and made the first cut. With the oxygen mask hiding most of her face, with her tough mouth silent and her busy form still, he could forget who he worked on. There were only flesh and bone to be repaired, tasks his hands knew with total, intimate familiarity. He bent to the work, tiredness, sassy women and all else forgotten.

The surgery took just over an hour. This time, when he left the OR, he left the hospital. He prayed he wouldn’t get called back tonight. Exhaustion had caught up with him again. He drove home slowly, grateful the car almost knew the way by itself. 

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