New Story Excerpt!!

I’ve started a new series!! Woohoo! It’s a combination of hockey – medicine – cozy mystery – comedy – and romance, of course! Enjoy this excerpt! 

Dr. Abigail Clark added a third steri-strip to the finger wound, carefully aligning the edges of the laceration so they touched but didn’t overlap. “That should do it. The bleeding’s stopped, and it looks good.” She peeled off her gloves and helped the patient, a young sous chef, sit up. “Okay, Brandi, you can get it wet but don’t soak it.”

“Dishwashing’s out?” Despite her pallor, the young woman’s eyes lit up.

“Dishwashing’s out,” Abigail confirmed with a smile. “The steri-strips should fall off on their own in about five days, and the laceration should be healed by then. If it becomes red or itchy, you could try using an antibiotic cream for a day. Come back here or follow up with your family doctor if you’re worried that it looks infected.”

“Will do.”

“Is your tetanus shot up to date?”

“Yes. The nurse asked me when I came in, and I called my mom. I had a booster two years ago.”

Abigail nodded. “Perfect. It’s good for ten years.”

“I’m free to go?”

“You still look a little pale. How do you feel?”

“Better now that it’s over. I really didn’t want a needle.”

Abigail smiled. “Yeah, they’re never fun. But it was a clean laceration, and the steri-strips should hold it.” She looked pointedly. “Be careful with the sharp knives.”

The young woman smiled crookedly. “No kidding. The farther away from doctors I am, the happier I be. No offence.”

Abigail laughed. “None taken. Is there someone here to drive you home?”

“Yeah, my mom’s in the waiting room.”

Abigail smiled. “Great. Then you are free to go.”

Brandi didn’t need to be told twice. Her smiled widened. “Thanks for patching me up, Doc.” She hopped off the examining table and hustled out before Abigail could say, “You’re welcome.”

Abigail chuckled to herself. The fear of needles put a spring in Brandi’s step, but it was better than dropping her in a dead faint.

Abigail finished charting and breathed a sigh of relief when she overheard her colleague’s voice at the nurses’ station. Her ten-hour shift was officially done. She went out to hand over care of two of the sickest patients, discharged three more after reviewing their test results, and left the busy Brighton emergency department in the very capable hands of Dr. Tissot.

The muggy August heat that had peaked at noon on her way to work had eased up after a downpour. For two hours in the late afternoon, patients had arrived with soggy shoes and dripping umbrellas. Now the moon was out, the air was clear, and the temperature was pleasantly comfortable. Throughout June and July, she’d savoured the lingering twilight when she punched the clock at 10 p.m., but the trade-off in August for the cooler nights was the pitch-black sky.

Normally after work, she’d wind down at home with a luxurious shower, change into her favourite comfy clothes, and put her feet up, but she had the dubious pleasure of renovating the main floor of her house at the moment, and she’d been warned that running water would be iffy for the rest of the week. So instead, this morning before leaving for work, she’d packed her workout clothes and tossed them in the car, sending silent thanks for the 24-hour access to the gym.

The parking lot at Break Point was nearly empty, and she parked her sports car close to front door. She waved her fob at the keypad, and the door unlocked with a click.

She appreciated the faint smell of antiseptic and the quiet upbeat music that greeted her.

There were gyms closer to her home and with lower fees, but she paid extra for the 24-hour access and the high-end equipment that was kept in working order. She also appreciated the rigid adherence to cleaning protocols. She didn’t know who owned the gym, but the manager and trainers who worked there were as obsessive as her about wiping down the equipment after use, and they didn’t hesitate to remind the more contumacious athletes. The corollary to higher fees was the privilege of fewer members. It meant less chance of running into patients (who inevitably hit her up for medical advice) and no wait time for the equipment. She could be in and out, after a full workout, in under an hour, sometimes quicker with the odd hours she kept.

She swiped her card at the front desk and made her way to the change room. A weight machine clanged off to the left behind her, but otherwise the gym was empty. She changed into shorts and a tank top and pulled her hair into a ponytail. A few auburn strands escaped, and she clipped them back off her forehead, and then secured her belongings in the locker.

Her workout always started with a cardio warm up – six minutes of brisk walking followed by a twenty-minute run and a four-minute cool down – segued into strength and conditioning, and ended with another short burst of cardio on the Stairmaster or rowing machine. She was in the gym or outside for a run four or five times a week and alternated upper and lower body workouts. It kept her muscles toned and her sanity intact.

She programmed the treadmill and tried not to ruminate about the patients she’d seen at work. There was always some lab result or impending referral that nagged at the back of her mind.

After twenty minutes she’d worked up a light sweat and felt limber and relaxed. Endorphins had kicked in giving her a pleasant buzz. She slowed the treadmill to finish with a walk and then shut it off. Today was a leg workout day, and she debated whether to do lunges with weights or use the quad machine. She opted for the lunges and picked up the twenty-pound weights. She concentrated on her form and, between sets, couldn’t help but notice the only other occupant of the gym.

He was new, at least to her, and was easy on the eyes with black wavy hair, high cheekbones, and the hint of a five o’clock shadow. He whipped through twenty-five chin-ups like child’s play. Impressive.

Her admiration turned to chagrin when he moved from one machine to the next without bothering to wipe it down. Gorgeous muscles or not, it was appalling.

She finished a set of hamstring curls and moved on to leg presses, spraying the equipment before and after using it. She hadn’t witnessed his whole workout and what if that had been part of his routine? Annoying.

She decided to cool down with the rowing machine. Muscles was lying on his back ready to do bench presses. She could only imagine how sweaty that bench had to be; she’d give that one a wide berth, thank you very much. She was four minutes into a light row, and he still hadn’t picked up the barbell, in fact, he hadn’t moved at all. She frowned. His eyes were closed. Was he even breathing? She was too far away to tell.

What the heck was wrong with him? Alarm bells started ringing in her head as she floated a differential diagnosis: diabetic ketoacidosis, severe hypoglycemia, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cardiac arrest, rhabdomyolysis, ventricular arrhythmia. She sighed heavily. Or he just had an irritating case of slob-itis and had fallen asleep.

She stood up and glared at him. Her displeasure and silent, exasperated mind-prodding, not surprisingly, did not help. He didn’t budge. She put her hands on her hips. Did he actually need help? She had finished her workout and couldn’t just leave without checking.

She stepped closer and couldn’t detect any appreciable chest movement. Light sleeper? Dead? He probably had a good ten centimetres in height and thirty kilos on her. If meditation was part of his routine, how angry would he be at being disturbed? How horrible would she feel if she didn’t do something, and he actually was sick? She smirked. He hadn’t wiped down any of the equipment; not that horrible.

She picked up a rag from the next machine and threw it at his chest. “Hey, sleeping beauty, wake up!” She put some lung into it.

He startled awake, grabbed the rag off his chest, and scowled at her.

She put her hands in the air. “Oh, sorry. Thought you were having trouble finding the rag to wipe down the machines.” Her voice couldn’t have been any sweeter.

He sat up and brushed a hand over his face. “What?”

She pointed to a sign. “Gym policy. Spray and wipe the equipment after use.” He had the most dreamy bedroom blue eyes she had ever seen.

“A cleaning crew will be here in thirty minutes.” He looked like he could use an espresso.

She was trying to decide if he was embarrassed about falling asleep or sheepish about his lack of hygiene. “Dude, it takes two seconds. A lot of people could use the machine in the next thirty minutes.”

He looked around the empty gym and raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, sure.”

She suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Poking a ninety-five kilo bear in an otherwise empty gym probably wasn’t the wisest move. “You feeling okay?”

He stood up. She was disconcerted to have to look up to maintain eye contact. Her above average height meant people usually looked up to her.

“I’m fine.” He tossed the rag in the bucket attached to the bench, looked away briefly, and then looked back. “Are you the gym police looking out for the health and welfare of its members?”

She fluttered her eyelashes. “Earning my public health badge for girl guides. Thanks for helping.” She smiled a little too cheerfully and looked around. “Looks like my work here is done. Have a good one.”

He chuckled, and she caught his grin before she turned on her heel. She walked into the change room hiding a smile.

Hope you enjoyed it!! The release day is yet to be determined – along with the title!! I just wanted to give you a sneak peek. 😀