My longtime readers should know by now that I love the mini-fiction events; a glimpse into the world, a story by a beloved side character, or an introduction to never before seen action – I love it all and can never get enough.
I’m hosting the first Rust City Book Convention here in the Metro Detroit area, and to help spotlight the authors attending, I’ve come up with a fabulous new feature series – Hidden Treasures. I’ve asked the #RustCity16 authors to write a story, featuring any or all of their characters as they discover a new bit of treasure – i.e. at a flea market, up in the attic, tomb-raiding, etc.
With that in mind, let’s see what hidden treasures Robin Nadler’s characters from The Hardest Goodbye, the latest Family by Choice, have discovered.
“Where is the family? I need to talk to them,” Jack asked the nursing staff.
“I don’t know. We have been unable to reach anyone. He was brought in with a five year old girl who is in trauma 3. The police said he had no license and his prints came up empty in the database,” she said. “An injured woman was brought in at the same time and we thought she was with them, but she disappeared and we can’t locate her. He will go in the morgue as a John Doe until we can dig further. I’ll check on the child.”
Jack nodded and sighed as he looked at the man. He couldn’t be more than 30.
Pulling the surgical gown off, Jack made his way into the locker room and ran his hand through his short brown hair. He was exhausted and wasn’t even supposed to be on call, but the man was brought in as an emergency and he did all he could. He wanted to change and go check on the child himself.
A slamming sound startled him and he turned to see his best friend slamming his fist into the locker.
“Tommy? What’s going on?”
“Jack? What are you still doing here?” Dr. Tommy Williams asked his best friend as he rubbed his sore knuckles. “I thought you were off for the next few days.
“Yeah, I got a call for a MVA. Guy was gone before he got here, but,” Jack sighed.
“But you thought you could bring him back?” Tommy smiled. “Jack, you’re not God.”
“Yeah, I know,” Jack sighed. “It just sucks.”
“I hear you.”
“What are you doing here? You usually don’t leave pediatrics,” Jack sat down next to him.
“I was called for a 5 year old girl who was thrown through a windshield. I couldn’t save her.”
Jack looked at him.
“My patient was brought in with a five year old girl.”
Tommy shook his head.
“Sometimes I hate this job.”
The two men sat in silence for a few minutes, both taking a minute to let the losses sink in. Both were tall, over 6 feet, but Jack was a few inches taller. He had dimples that seemed to go on for miles and a chiseled look that could be mistaken for a movie star. He was known as one of the top cardiac surgeons in the Country.
Tommy was also handsome, but in a more rugged way. He was soft spoken and funny, and had the quality of putting anyone immediately at ease. He was the perfect pediatric surgeon and had made a name for himself in pediatric oncology.
Tommy checked his phone, stretched his long frame and looked at Jack. “Want to grab a beer?”
“No, I need sleep. I’ll have to take a rain check. I am off for the next two days and I want them to be good, so I need to be refreshed for action. I’ll talk to you soon,” Jack said as he pulled his coat from his locker.
“Ok, see you later,” Tommy said as he left the locker room.
Jack sighed and sat back down as he checked his cell phone. He had a few messages from a woman he had been seeing casually, but he felt a strange sensation of something being missing from his relationship, if you could even call it that. He deleted everything without listening and put his phone back in his pocket. He sighed as he ran his hands through his thick brown hair and felt his 5 o’clock shadow growing in nicely. He realized he didn’t have the energy to drive home, so he thought about getting some coffee and heading up to the roof for some fresh air. He put on his coat, grabbed the coffee and went.
Jack opened the door to the roof and breathed in deeply. He hugged his coat tighter around him, glad he decided to wear it, for the chilly February air was biting in Michigan. It was about 6 o’clock, so the sun had begun to set already. He looked out at the roof and smiled at the view. Everything looked so crisp and clear, like the world was right where it should be. He chuckled to himself at the thought. If everything was right where it should be, why did he feel as if he was missing something huge? He walked up to the ledge and as he passed the thick beam, which blocked most of the ledge view, he stopped. There in front of him, standing on the ledge, was a woman in a hospital gown, with bare feet. Stunned for a minute, he took in her appearance. She looked to be in her late twenties, slim and small. He couldn’t see her face, but he didn’t think she was there for the view. He took a few steps towards her and waited for her to acknowledge him. She remained standing and looking ahead.
She must be the missing woman from the car accident.
“Excuse me, miss? Can I help you? You shouldn’t be out here in this cold, and you shouldn’t be on the ledge, barefoot. Can you get down?” Jack asked, realizing how completely lame he sounded. Obviously, if she wanted to get down, she would have. It didn’t matter, because the woman acted as if she hadn’t heard a word he said.
“Can I call someone for you? Do you know where you are?” he tried again to get an answer, but to no avail. He picked up his cell phone and went to dial when the woman turned to him with wide eyes and shook her head no, as she took a step towards the edge.
“Okay, okay, no calls; just move back a bit, please,” he begged her, not knowing why, but feeling like this woman was more important to him than anyone he knew. He put his hands down to show he would stop calling.
The woman turned away from him and remained standing. She looked out across the city below.
“So, can you tell me your name?” Jack asked as he inched closer to her. He put his coffee down on the ledge. “My name is Jack. Are you cold? Do you want my coat?”
Again, no response. He was getting frustrated and needed to get help. He took out his pager and paged Jade, the head nurse, a 911 page to the roof. He hoped she would get someone up there ASAP. “Do you mind if I keep talking?” he asked, not expecting an answer. “I just finished a grueling shift and I am exhausted, so this is really cramping my relaxation. I don’t know if you know this, but we debonair doctors need our beauty sleep.” He stopped and turned to see Jade enter the roof. He motioned to the woman on the ledge and mouthed for the nurse to go and get help. She nodded and turned to leave. Jack turned back to the ledge. He slowly climbed up onto the concrete and stood closer to her. He realized just how petite she was. She had long chestnut hair, which came to the middle of her back, and her eyes were a large and beautiful almond shape. She had bandages on her arms and he could make out bruises on her neck and legs from the lights on the roof. He took off his coat.
“Can I put this around your shoulders? It’s really cold out here and I don’t want you to get sick.” He held out his jacket, but still no response. She just stared ahead of him, no acknowledgement at all. He slowly reached over and placed the coat around her small trembling shoulders. The woman did nothing, no movement to leave or to thank him. He felt utterly lost at her complete isolation. “Everything will be okay, you know. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems in the moment.” He knew he was no psychologist. He tried another tactic. “Do you want to die?” he asked gently.
The woman turned to really look at him for the first time. Her beautiful eyes were empty and cold. A single tear fell down her cheek.
“I already did,” she said in a whisper, and then turned back to look out, the connection gone.
Jack felt a rush of cold through his veins at the despair in her voice. “Well, as far as I see it, you are still here and we are having a conversation, so unless I am delusional, you are not dead,” he was trying to get her to respond to anything and to be honest; he was terrified. He realized she could easily fall right off the ledge and to her death. What scared him more was the realization that she seemed to wholeheartedly want that to be the case. “Will you please come down?” he asked simply.
Just then, the hospital security came in and slowly approached the woman. He watched as she made no movement while they came and moved her off the ledge and gently picked her up and placed her on a gurney. He stepped down and looked at her glassy, empty stare. He had never seen anything like it, and he needed to know more about her. What could make someone feel so utterly alone? What had she been through? He watched as they wheeled her away and found himself standing on the roof, alone.
Jack followed the gurney with the woman back to her room, not really knowing why. He stood outside as her doctors conferred and hooked her back up to the machines. He was watching intently when a voice broke his concentration.
“I thought you were going home to get your beauty sleep,” Tommy said to Jack.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I was, I mean I am,” Jack spoke absentmindedly.
“Right, can I give you a lift? You don’t look like you’re seeing straight. Come on,” Tommy said and led Jack out of the hospital and away from the woman.
Jack was asleep before his head hit the pillows and he found himself tossing and turning most of the night. He woke up around four am and looked in the mirror in the bathroom. The stubble on his face now a dark blanket across his chin and his eyes were still bloodshot. Nice, he thought, I used to be able to make it on a lot less sleep. He showered quickly and made himself some coffee before turning on the news, hoping to distract himself. From what, he didn’t know, or more appropriately, from whom. He ran his hand through his wet hair and sighed. The news was shitty, some car crash, some robbery, and some fire. He tossed his coffee in the sink and went to turn off the news when something caught his eye. There was more to the fire story. He saw the reporter talking to a witness who said that it was a horrible scene, two women were locked inside the burning home and one of the women’s boyfriends had set the house on fire. There were children playing outside who were saved by someone who risked their life to get to them. The witness didn’t know what had happened to the women inside, but there were said to be fatalities.
Jack turned off the TV and realized one thing. He needed to find out more about this woman.
This mystery was one he was going to solve.
Meet Robin Nadler!
Robin Nadler was born and raised in Michigan. She is currently a high school teacher who loves the classics and tries to make sure her students understand the value of Shakespeare and paying respect to those who came before. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she spends her days playing with her pets and laughing.
- Nothing Matters
- If Only
- Love Endures
- The Unexpected
- Heaven’s Tiny Tears
- Courage Lies Within
- Thundering Silence
- A Son’s Anguish
- One Final Kiss
- No Surrender
- Our Legacy
- The Unthinkable
- Breaking Point
- A Father’s Heart
- My Strongest Weakness
- Left Behind
- His Heart
- The Hardest Goodbye
Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con
next August! Come join us in our celebration of all things genre fiction in the Motor City! Registration is now open for #RustCity16!