Monday, February 16, 2009
Last post I offered a romantic snippet from CRITICAL CARE, where Logan Caldwell leaves a bouquet of daffodils on the hood of Claire Avery's car . . . and asks her for a date. I thought it would be fun to show a couple of new snippets from the moments they first meet--much more like war than romance. Because, you see, Dr. Logan Caldwell (Director of Sierra Mercy ER) has a reputation for being somewhat hard-nosed and controlling. In fact, behind his back, he's known as "Dr. McSnarly." Hard to imagine when you see those beautiful blue eyes, but a bouquet of daffodils (and even civil conversation) was the last thing on Logan and Claire's mind that first day. Here are the snippets, and brief setup to each:
From Chapter One: Nurse Claire Avery is paged to the ER. She has no idea why; but after her brother died in a trauma room, she's vowed to never work there again. She waits for the nursing supervisor, anxious, confused . . then meets McSnarly in the hall outside.
She whirled to catch a glimpse of a man barreling toward her with his gaze on the ambulance entrance some dozen yards away. He looked a few years older than she was, maybe thirty-five, tall and wide shouldered, with curly dark hair and faded blue scrubs. He leveled a forbidding scowl at Claire like a weapon and slowed to a jog before stopping a few paces from her.
“What are you doing?” he asked, grabbing his stethoscope before it could slide from his neck.
“I’m . . . waiting,” Claire explained, awkwardly defensive. “I was paged to the ER.”
“Good. Then don’t just stand there holding up the wall. Let’s go. The charge nurse will show you where to start.”
“But I—,” she choked, her confusion complete.
“But what?” He glanced toward sounds at the ambulance bay and then back at her.
Claire cleared her throat. “I don’t know why I’m here.”
He shook his head, his low groan sounding far too much like a smothered curse. “If that question’s existential, I don’t have time for it. But if you’re here to work, follow me. Erin Quinn will tell you everything you need to know.” He pointed toward a crew of paramedics racing through the ambulance doors with a stretcher. A toddler, his tiny, terrified face raw and blistered behind an oxygen mask, sat bolt upright partially covered by a layer of sterile sheets. “See that boy? That’s why I’m here. So either help me or get out of the way.”
Then, at the opening of Chapter Two, Claire is asked by Administration to use her training in Critical Incident Stress to counsel staff in the devastating aftermath of an explosion at a local day care. Reluctantly, and armed with self-help pamphlets, she goes to the ER. McSnarly's ER, McSnarly's staff--and he hates the whole idea:
Dr. Caldwell knelt down a split second before Claire did, and their fingers brushed as they reached for the same pamphlet. She pulled back, her face flushing. “I’ve got them, Doctor. I . . .” Her voice failed as she met his eyes.
Logan Caldwell’s eyes were impossibly blue. Intense, almost crystalline, like the still surface of Lake Tahoe after a first snow. Fringed with black lashes, they seemed mismatched with his dark brows, curly hair, olive skin, and wide-bridged nose. And now they were narrowing, with tiny crinkles forming at the edges, as he began to . . .
Laugh? Claire heard him chuckle deep in his throat. He’s laughing at me? She clenched the handle of her briefcase.
“I guess you figured out why you’re here,” Dr. Caldwell said, his tone making it clear he recognized Claire from their earlier skirmish in the corridor. He glanced at the pamphlet. “‘Healing the Healers’?”
The charge nurse nodded with certainty. “I’m asking for Claire’s help with our staff. Because this day care incident’s been tough on all of us.”
“Tough?” Logan shook his head. “This is what we do. Tough comes with the territory. And death is always a factor. Do you see me crumbling here?” He smacked the pamphlets against the leg of his scrub pants and frowned. “The only kind of help we need here is more staff, more warm bodies. Real nurses. Not administration’s attempt at some . . . touchy-feely counseling.”
Touchy-feely? Real nurses? Claire dug her nails into the leather of her briefcase. She reminded herself she’d soon be back in the education department and out of here for good. Otherwise, she’d have to make this man, giant or not, eat his words.
Uh oh. Far from romantic. No bouquets in sight--and someone should probably hide the scalpels. But that's how it began. And if you want to see how McSnarly becomes a memorable (and sigh-worthy) hero--amidst plenty of pulse-pounding medical drama--well . . . you'll have to read the book!
Clock's a tickin', and I can't wait to share CRITICAL CARE with you!
I think you'll be glad you met McSnarly.