Made For Another (Caroline Dawson Series - Book 1), page 1
Made For Another
Caroline Dawson Series
- Book 1 -
Career Life Press
Copyright © 2012
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
Table of Contents
Sarah Kingman loved her job as a Candy Striper at Little River Hospital, even though most of her fellow student volunteers found the work tedious. As a nursing student, the position not only gave her lots of experience while it satisfied the community service requirements for school, but it also gave her the opportunity to actually work in a hospital.
Arriving early for her shift, she took off her coat and hung it in her locker. Sarah smiled, remembering the first time she'd seen the Candy Stripers in a hospital. She must have been all of seven years old, and she had excitedly asked her mom who they were and why they were there. That was probably what had started her on the road to fulfilling her dream to become a nurse.
When her mom was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer, Sarah had dropped out of college and put her education on hold. For Sarah it was more important to be there, supporting Mom through the chemotherapy and radiation treatments after her surgery.
The six months stretched into two years with all the unforeseen complications. But, Sarah stuck with it, and after a final year making sure Mom had convalesced well beyond the danger point, it was over.
Her dad had tried to convince her to at least take a few night classes.
"Sarah, there's no reason to drop out entirely, there's a good program here and you could get some of the requirements out of the way while you're home," he had suggested. "You know I'm here every evening anyway, and I can take care of your mom, after all we've been together almost 25 years."
Twenty-five years! It was hard to think of anyone being together for that long - especially in this day and this society. She was lucky to have grown up in a stable loving family.
"No Dad, that's okay. You always taught me to never attempt anything I wasn't willing to give 100% to." For Sarah, this was an all or nothing kind of thing. She couldn't do anything half-way, not when it came to her parents. Mom had needed her, and she knew that taking classes would only have distracted her from a task she was committed to seeing through.
Sarah closed the locker and headed out to the nursing station. It was still early - in fact, at this time of year the sun wasn't even up yet. She'd be glad when the regular nursing staff showed up. Nowadays it seemed like they were her only social circle.
She didn't know who had been more excited about her acceptance at Redwood University - Mom, Dad or her. She'd finally been able to return to school last year, deciding to come up north to finish her degree. After the intensity of her "apprenticeship" as Mom's live-in nurse, Sarah had decided that being in a totally new place might be exactly what she needed in order to focus on her studies without distraction.
Maybe she'd done too good a job. At 22 she was already older than most of her classmates, and while she enjoyed their company, after what she'd been through with Mom, their interests just didn't appeal to her.
What a thrill it had been when she'd finally been accepted at the hospital, even as a volunteer. She knew that the term 'Candy Striper' wasn't in use very much anymore, and probably some of the other volunteers her age thought it was way too juvenile. After all, it did refer to the younger high school girls who used to wear the candy-stripe-colored uniforms. But Sarah thought the name was adorable and it made her feel special. She was one step closer to fulfilling her dream.
"Morning Clara. Anything exciting happen over night?" She smiled at her friend behind the desk as she signed in for her shift.
"Quiet as a bug." Clara smiled back, "That Bradley was asking after you. Why don't you give that poor boy a break?"
Sarah laughed. She knew Clara loved to tease. But even more, she loved to gossip. "You know better, Clara. I'm not giving you any ammunition."
Her daytime duties required her to check on new patients, making sure that all the minimum hygienic requirements were in place for their care and ease during their stay.
"See you later," Sarah told her friend as she grabbed the log sheet and headed down the hallway to the storage closet to pick up the supplies she needed. It wouldn't take her long to set up the three rooms she'd just been assigned.
Looking up from the paper, she noticed Bradley mopping up what looked like a spill. He sure was a dreamy looking guy - especially for a janitor.
"Hi Bradley," she smiled up at the blond six-foot hunk. "Looks like there was an accident?"
"Hey Sarah. Someone dropped a cup of coffee, so I'm just making sure that there won't be a problem. Safety first, and all that."
"At this time of the morning they must've been half-asleep. It's barely dawn. Probably really needed that coffee," she laughed.
Bradley smiled at her and went on mopping as she continued to the supply closet. Sarah knew he couldn't be more than a couple years older than she was. She liked his warm, deep voice and tall lanky build.
She'd noticed that he always seemed happy to see her, and she secretly agreed with Clara - he might have been an interesting candidate for getting to know better, if only he wasn't someone she worked with.
~ # ~
Sarah spent the next several hours setting up the rooms for occupancy by the new patients who would undoubtedly be assigned sometime during the day. Little River was a very small hospital serving a rather remote community, with nothing else available for at least a couple hundred miles.
The staff at the hospital was a tight knit group, helping each other out when necessary, and everyone got along pretty well. Oh, there were the normal squabbles, just like you'd expect in an extended family, but nothing they couldn't smooth out in a day or so.
That was part of what Sarah liked the most about working here - the friendship she enjoyed with several of the staff. Being older, it felt like the nurses had already accepted her as one of their own.
She didn't have a lot of friends yet, but she was making progress. There was Anna, the short brunette Emergency Room nurse with a southern accent .Anna had been particularly helpful to her when she'd started. As the "new girl on the block" Sarah had felt like an outsider, but with Anna to show her around, that feeling had vanished pretty quickly.
And then there was Clara, the sassy black clerk who knew everyone and everything. They'd hit it off pretty quickly, too. She had given Sarah some eye-opening (or in some cases eye-popping) insight into the relationships at the hospital. Clara was the one you went to if you wanted to know the latest gossip or the hottest news.
Sarah smiled. Clara had even told her who to watch out for - and thank goodness. Otherwise she might have become the latest conquest for that young doctor in the E.R. - the one the girls had nicknamed "Ronnie the Rascal" behind his back. Good thing he didn't know that, but it gave the women something to chuckle about when he starte
As Sarah came around the corner, she noticed a handsome dark haired, brooding young man sitting on a chair in the hallway. His right leg was outstretched in front of him, with a jagged tear in his jeans that ran the length from just above his knee down to his ankle.
He sat there looking down at the leg with a scowl on his face. It was obvious he was in pain, but it didn't appear to be serious, which would explain why he was sitting in the hallway instead of being in a room.
As Sarah walked up, she could see the gnarly-looking road rash that must have come from sliding through gravel or across concrete.
"Looks painful," she said starting to wince. Catching herself, she smiled instead, which seemed to perk him up.
"Aw, not too bad," he responded. "More an inconvenience than anything. I hit a patch of hail in the road and dumped my bike."
"That must have been pretty scary!"
"Well, losing control at 60 miles an hour will definitely get your attention! But once I hit that patch and skidded sideways, there was nothing I could do about it. Just lucky I didn't hit a tree or an oncoming car."
"Oh my! And you're okay? Are they checking for broken bones and all?"
"I'm waiting for the x-rays to come back, they don't think there's a break, but they want to make sure. I'm just trying to figure out how I'm gonna get around 'til my bike is fixed." He scowled again.
"You have friends who can help?" she asked him.
"Sure," he told her, "for the short term anyway. But I gotta get the ride fixed pretty soon so I got wheels. I don't like to depend on my friends."
Well that was nice, she thought. He sounded like someone who took care of business. She wondered what his name was.
"I'm Sarah," she said, extending her hand. She didn't know a whole lot of people her age here in town, and he was attractive in a "bad boy" sort of way.
"Tony." He responded with a crooked little grin that warmed her heart. "Glad to meet ya. You lived here long? I never seen you before."
"I'm going to school at the University," she told him. "Nursing. But I'm from Sacramento."
"Big difference!" he laughed. She smiled.
"Very big difference," she agreed.
"Look, you want to hook up sometime? Go for a ride? I could show you the lake."
She laughed, "I don't want to sound rude, but given you've just had an accident on that bike, I'm not so sure that's a good idea."
He scowled for a moment, then said, "Look, I've had the bike for six years. This is the first accident, and it only happened 'cuz of that huge sudden downpour of hail. I'm a safe driver - I promise! You want references?" he grinned up at her. "Come on! It'll be fun!"
She had to laugh. She doubted this guy would take NO for an answer. "Maybe," she said shaking her head.
"Well, I gotta get the bike fixed first anyway." He scribbled out a note and handed it to Sarah. "That's my number. You call me when you're ready."
Sarah looked down at the note. He'd written his name: Tony Crutchfield, a local cell number and a scribbled: "Call me for a good time". She wrinkled her nose at the bad joke and looked back at him, "I'll think about it." He gave her that crooked grin again.
"Don't think too long," he pursed his lips and pleaded with his sultry brown eyes. She just shook her head and pushed the cart into the next room.
She smiled to herself, thinking this could turn out pretty interesting, she hadn't met many guys here yet who appealed to her. Maybe her luck had just changed.
She finished putting away the extra supplies and adjusted the inventory logs, still thinking about those eyes. This guy was cute, and he certainly interested her, but she still wasn't sure a bike ride was good idea, especially so soon after an accident! And besides, what did she know about him?
Sarah parked her car in front of the apartment. Friday night and she had nothing planned for the weekend. The weather channel had reported clouds clearing, and no rain. That meant it would be a good time to get outside.
As she walked up the steps, she realized that one more weekend hanging around the apartment by herself would probably drive her stark raving mad.
Okay, that was a bit dramatic. But honestly, she was becoming way too familiar with the symptoms of cabin fever. So, if the sun was going to be out this weekend, she was too. She'd had her fill of the work-study-work routine.
She spent most of her time at school, in the library, at the hospital, or somewhere in between. That meant she really didn't know much about the area.
There was always the jetty, or the beach. But she'd already done that so many times - it would be nice to see something else. She could hang out on the Plaza, but since she didn't know anyone, seeing the laughing couples and small groups everywhere only made her feel more lonely - the opposite of what she wanted!
Sarah dumped the mail and her keys on the table, heading into her bedroom to change into blue jeans and a sweater. She wondered if she should call that Tony guy. He was kind of cute, and he had invited her for a ride up to the lake - which was another place on her list that she hadn't seen yet.
She looked at the note he'd written, debating whether she really wanted to sit home again this weekend. The last time she'd gone out was New Years Eve and that had been disastrous - being by herself in the middle of a bunch of drunks on the Plaza had not been a good idea.
Sarah shivered as an overwhelming sense of desolate loneliness washed over her.
"Oh, forget it!" she said out loud, and pulled out her cell phone. She grabbed up the piece of paper with his name and number.
"Yeah," Tony answered on the second ring.
"Hi, this is Sarah. From the hospital? You told me to call you?"
The phone was silent for a moment, then, "Hey! You called!"
"Um, well yeah, you offered to show me the lake?"
"Cool. My bike should be ready tomorrow. You gonna be off then? We could go up to the lake for a couple hours." He sounded genuinely excited to hear from her.
"I was hoping you would say that. Is your leg good enough yet? You know, I'm not really big on bikes, so you better promise to drive safely," she said.
"Hey, I told you - I'm a good driver! But, yeah, my leg is fine. No breaks, just some bruises and it's feeling pretty good now. So, you up for it?"
After just the briefest hesitation, Sarah offered, "I can make lunch for us. Can you have me back by 4?"
"Yeah, Sure. Works for me. I'll be there at 11."
"Well, listen," she said, realizing she still felt a little uncomfortable with this guy she hardly knew.
"It's kind of hard to explain exactly how to find my place. Why don't I just meet you at the bottom of the hill, where the street comes out? Then I can show you how to get here." She held her breath slightly.
"Ok. Give me the information."
Good, she thought, taking a deep breath and telling him how to find the intersection.
OK, she said to herself as she turned on the radio and danced into the kitchen to make some dinner. This could be fun after all. And this time she wouldn't be alone again on the weekend!
~ # ~
Tony pulled up just a little before 11.
Sarah was sitting in her car at the bottom of the hill, ready to have a good time. Last night she'd been feeling apprehensive about going out with someone she didn't know well. But now she had a plan and was feeling more confident.
"Hey Sarah, you ready? You want to show me your place now?"
"Hi, Tony, right on time!" she said getting out of the car. The bike looked good. No major dents, and big enough to be relatively safe on the highway.
"I made some ham and cheese sandwiches, with a couple apples and oatmeal cookies. But I didn't have anything to drink, so I'm thinking we should go pick something up at the market before we leave."
"Sure. Ok." He handed her a helmet.
So far so good. Another thing marked off her mental checklist. She grabbed the picnic food and stow
Shoving her car keys into her jacket pocket, Sarah climbed on the back of the motorcycle. Making sure there was no cross traffic, Tony pulled out smoothly onto the road.
Nice, she thought as they rode into the shopping center parking lot. So far he'd done everything right. He was a good driver, and she was feeling more relaxed and comfortable already.
"What kind of soda you want?" Tony asked her as they walked down the aisle of the little grocery store.
"I'm partial to Squirt," she told him, "and you?"
"Personally I like the Barley Pop," he told her.
"Yeah, beer," he pointed at the Budweiser, watching her out of the corner of his eye.
Sarah glanced over at him, a little surprised. He was smiling, and she thought he was teasing her, but she wasn't quite sure.
She decided to go along to see what happened. "Well, for me, then, some Vin de Boone?" picking up the Boone's Farm.
He laughed. "But not today, it's too early." He grabbed a coke.
Sarah relaxed. She was glad he didn't seem to want to push the beer thing. Riding on a bike was dangerous enough without that! But she had to give him credit - so far he was doing okay.
They packed the sodas in with the rest of the lunch and headed north on the two lane country road.
~ # ~
The ride up the coast was breathtaking - luckily the weather cooperated and after about 30 minutes the sun came out. Sarah was glad her helmet had a sun visor - it made it so much easier than trying to fish out her sunglasses in the wind.
They rode through miles of towering redwoods, alongside the expansive blue ocean for a while, and over several small swollen streams.
It was still technically winter, and the lush grasses that would normally be green were mostly a golden wheat color. The rains over the past week had given some life to the landscape though, and a couple of very early wildflowers popped their heads up.
When they turned off towards the lake, Sarah was getting a little tired of "being in the saddle". In fact, she was looking forward to the end of the ride and getting off the bike to stretch her legs.