Maddys floor, p.17

Maddy's Floor, page 17


Maddy's Floor

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  "My, aren't we in a good mood today." The nurse bustled around, wrapped the blood pressure cuff on Sissy's arm and checked her temperature at the same time. Those tasks done, the nurse patted her arm and walked to the next bed.

  Twenty minutes later, breakfast was served.

  Sissy played with the food. Only ate because she needed the energy. She hadn't even finished before an aide, an older woman who looked like she should have retired years ago, showed up and began laying out clothes and makeup.

  She sat and complied through the woman's hurried ministrations. Sissy wondered how the aides managed to keep up this pace all day. The staff was overworked and underpaid, the cliché of today's lifestyle. Everyone raced as if the world would end before nightfall. She didn't understand it.

  Still, she was in a race too – a race against death.


  Maddy strode toward Gerard's office, her long gray tunic swishing from side to side. Endless questions streamed through her mind. The security tapes had added more of them. She had to do something. Her mind was ready to explode. Gerard was the target she'd chosen to vent some of her frustration. John was an issue – and he shouldn't be.

  "He's on the phone, Dr. Maddy," Sandra said to her as she stormed to Gerard's door. "I don't think he wants to be disturbed."

  She came to a dead stop and spun on her heels. Narrowing her gaze, she stared at Sandra. "Any idea how long he's going to be?"

  "Not too long. He's arguing with someone again."

  Maddy wrinkled her nose. Great, if he were already arguing, he'd be primed for a fight. She thought about that for a brief moment, only to realize she relished the idea. She'd been brooding over this since reading John's charts. Someone had bent the rules to get him onto her floor and in so doing, had jeopardized the project's integrity.

  She smiled, showing her teeth. "No problem. I'll wait."

  "Ohh. You want a piece of him too, huh? He's not having a good day." She perked up as a light on her phone console went out. "He's off. You can go in."

  "Thanks." Maddy opened the door.

  "I'm busy."

  Maddy ignored his blustery yell.

  "Too bad. I think you can find the time to see me." Maddy strode across the spacious office and took a seat in the chair facing Gerard's desk. She glared at him. "I've left several messages, so you should have expected me."

  Gerard took one look at her and groaned. "Now what?"

  "What kind of blackmail did John pull to make it onto my floor?" At the word blackmail, all the color disappeared from Gerard's face, making his pallor an almost perfect match to his white dress shirt. Maddy raised an eyebrow in surprise. Her off-the-cuff words had an effect that she hadn't expected. Interesting. As much as she'd said underhanded methods had been used, she hadn't really given serious thought to specifics.

  "Sorry. What?" Gerard's gaze touched her face briefly before dropping down to his desk.

  "I'm asking how and why John McNeil made it onto my floor?"

  He glared at her, bravado written all over his face. "Maddy, you don't have ultimate control over who comes and who goes through The Haven."

  She stared at him…hard. He dropped his gaze again, his fingers turning a pen over and over.

  "What did you just say?" she asked softly, not sure what he was implying. The process was in place for many reasons. To say she didn't have ultimate control was true. Yet, if she didn't have the power to say who she could help and who she couldn't, why was she doing this project at all?

  "Now, Maddy. Don't get upset. I didn't mean to imply that your vote isn't important. But sometimes there are extenuating circumstances..."

  "Really." She crossed her legs and stared at him in disbelief. "That would make sense if we're talking about The Haven as a whole, but not for my floor. There were requirements for me starting this project, if you care to remember." Her voice rose as her anger flared. "John is more than welcome on any other floor. However, he does not fit on mine. He doesn't fit the health criteria in any way, and I'd like to know exactly why you decided to let him in."

  His chin jutted out, his eyes narrowing in defiance "And I'm not going to tell you. I have to run this place based on many different factors, not just your criteria."

  "Is that so?" Maddy stood up. "I guess we'll see about that. The success of this project, the extra money pouring into The Haven, is based on the results that I can produce. That is based on how I can sustain my work. There are many reasons for the exacting criteria to get into the third-floor project, as you well know. I set the standards to make the program not only a success, but so it can be sustainable. And if you're not going to honor that…" She let the threat hang in the air.

  Gerard bolted upright, alarm spreading across his face. He held his hands out as if he could stop her by that very motion. "Whoa, there's no need to become hostile here, Maddy. You don't want to do anything that might affect the long-term success of The Haven."

  "Like you did? You've put my entire project – a project that paid for this new wing expansion, entirely by donations of these generous people, I might add – at risk. Do you know how many offers I've had to leave here and set up elsewhere? The inducements?" She gave him a hard look. "I refused the last one because I care about what I've built here. I care about my patients here. I care about what I can do here. However, if you are going to sell beds to the highest bidders and completely ignore what I can sustain – thereby destroying everything we've created – I'll go somewhere else where I can help patients without interference."

  Gerard tugged at his shirt collar before finally loosening his tie and unbuttoning the top button of his shirt. "Dr. Chandler, by any chance?"

  Watching Gerard sweat made her feel much better. About time. After what he'd done, he needed a reality check. "Dr. Chandler is very persuasive. I don't want to have to start all over again, but if you keep undermining my system and changing the criteria for acceptance, I will. If my energy is spread too thin to help my patients, the program is ruined."

  Gerard gulped, then leaned forward earnestly. "Then leave John out of the project. Think of him as an isolated incident. He's on the same floor, only not on your floor," he wheedled. "And I'm sorry. It won't happen again."

  She didn't believe it. How typical. Threaten the money and he crumbled. "It's not that easy. I can't exclude him. Energy is malleable to a certain extent so he'll benefit from being close."

  "There's nothing wrong with it benefiting him, is there? The man's dying. If he gets a few extra weeks by being there, surely that's a good thing."

  "A few extra weeks – the man's death will still be around the corner. Putting him into the program skews the result because he doesn't fit the criteria. Not to mention the effect his death will have on the other patients. You know that." She was frustrated and wanted him to know. "You did this on purpose, and I want to know why."

  Goaded, Gerard snapped. "I didn't have any choice." He glared at her. "Our budgetary requirements are unbelievable right now. John offered to pay – and in a big way, I might add – for some necessary equipment. My hands were tied and we needed his money to help other patients. Okay?"

  Maddy shifted back down into her chair. Gerard's face had blown into a cherry red color and the lines of his face had deepened with anger. She'd been right. John had bought his way in, an easy trick to play on the moneyman.

  Maddy wasn't sure how she felt about everything now. That he'd sacrifice her trials was unacceptable. To lose necessary equipment due to a lack of funding? That didn't make sense either.

  She stared at Gerard, who shifted like a truant child waiting for his punishment. What were the options? Could she keep John out of the project? He was in the renovated area with Adam Lenning. For the moment, that was outside the research floor's boundary.

  And Felicia had been included in the trial. That was a good thing, as she had the potential for remarkable improvement – in fact, she'd shown wonderful stabilization, as of this morning. Maddy had high hopes she's make
a complete recovery.

  Mentally, Maddy sorted the possibilities before she gave in. She didn't know what would be more debilitating to the other patients, to have John removed right now or to have him die within weeks of arriving. They wouldn't have much contact with each other. He wasn't in the same area, and not mobile enough to make use of the common areas.

  Patients who died after being there for a while had a much bigger impact on the others. They might just think John's illness had advanced too far when he arrived. Hell, that's exactly what she'd thought herself.

  Now she wasn't so sure. The black energy hanging around him could be interfering with his health and recovery.

  What the hell, she might as well include him in the energy. Besides, it would take a meaner doctor than she was to kick him out. Especially as she'd seen the possibility of a way to help him.

  However, she also owed the people that had put their trust in her. She couldn't let the investors or her patients down. Her project was valuable and to lose the investors was to sideline the project. And that would slow the number of people she could help.

  Maddy gave in and stood up. "I'll see what I can do. Don't do it again. This isn't what our investors want and I won't turn a blind eye again. I can understand the temptation to let patients buy their way in, but no more. They can damn well buy their way onto another floor."

  She glared at him, not liking the gleam of hope in his eyes. If she let him get away with this, there'd be no end to his meddling in her affairs. "Do you understand? Don't get smug. That offer I refused won't go away for a long time."

  Gerard bounded to his feet, relief washing over his face. He walked around the desk, his arm outstretched. "I promise, this one time only. Thank you." He clasped her hand with both of his, shaking it with fervent enthusiasm. "Thanks, Maddy. I really appreciate this."

  "I mean what I said," she snapped, afraid he hadn't understood the severity of his actions. "No more going behind my back."

  He grinned, the perfect salesman persona back in place. "I know, I know. I promise."

  Pulling her hand free, she jabbed her finger at him, wanting him to understand how wrong he'd been and the severity of his actions. "And see that you don't forget it."

  Maddy walked back out. Sandra smiled at her. "I see you know how to handle him, too."

  "We'll see if my 'handling,' as you call it, is successful." She motioned to the closed door behind her. "He's definitely a wild card."

  "Only if you give him rein. Hold tight and he's not bad. Give him too much rope and that boy will get into trouble every time..." Sandra's tone was light and airy, but with serious undercurrents.

  Maddy's mood plummeted. Damn Gerard and his conniving ways. That he should put her project at risk for a bit of money was untenable. It had been unbelievably difficult to get this off the ground in the first place. To jeopardize it now… She tried to shrug off her mood.

  Balance, peace and everything nice are what she needed as her focus. It was impossible to keep any type of healing energy flowing if there were a disturbance in her own mind – especially as she needed to do energy work right now.

  Back in her office, she switched off her lights, switched on her music and took up a comfortable position on the floor.

  Her mantra. Peace. Happiness. Joy.

  Surprisingly, it only took a few minutes to go into a meditative state, where she consciously dropped the accumulated tension from her spine, unspoken words from her mind and the less-than-ideal emotions from her heart. She slowly deepened her state. Drifting down lower, she went even deeper until she slid out from this reality. Focusing on the people in her care, Maddy detached from her physical reality and moved out in her astral form. This was a common form of travel, usually done by people during their dream state. While in this state, and though generally involuntary, people often visited people and places they loved…and hated.

  To do this consciously wasn't something one learned overnight.

  For the first few seconds, she stretched, enjoying the sense of freedom. This reality left every opportunity open, the imagination unbelievable in its scope, the possibilities limitless. She knew from experience that she'd lose hours here, wallowing in this other existence. She also knew she wouldn't be able to stay here alone in her office without being disturbed for too long.

  It was time to get to work.


  John didn't feel too good. No. It was more like he didn't expect to ever feel good again. He'd achieved something he'd plotted, agonized over and had been striving for since he'd first fallen ill. For what? He'd bought his way in and had managed to piss off Dr. Maddy. Worse, she might not be able to help him. After all he'd done, defeat left a bitter taste in his mouth.

  A specter of death hung over him. Sure, he might not die today or tomorrow, yet within a few months he'd be gone. His stomach almost heaved at the thought.

  Darkness seemed to cover his world and his soul. He snorted, the sound so light as to be irrelevant if anyone else heard. That's how he felt these days, insignificant and unimportant, as if he had nothing left to offer.

  A hot tear welled at the corner of his eye. John rolled his face into the pillow. He hated feeling so weak and helpless. He wasn't a goddamn wuss. He wasn't. And he wouldn't be. He refused.

  Good, John. Don't give in. Don't give up.

  John bolted upright, wincing at the pain as he did so. "Who's there? Who said that?"

  His corner of the floor was empty except for that other doctor working on Adam over by the far wall. John sank back down. "Great, now I'm hearing things."

  A light, tingling laughter filled the air. John's eyes narrowed. "Dr. Maddy?"

  No answer.

  Neither did she materialize around the corner. John searched around again. He didn't know what the hell was happening. The air warmed and lightened around him. A soothing heat slipped into his toes and worked its way slowly, inch by worn-out inch, up his legs. His knees throbbed when the heat reached them, making them feel good. Stronger. Something they hadn't felt like in years. He lay there, enjoying the healing power or whatever was going on. This had to be the secret of Dr. Maddy's floor.

  Whatever it was, it felt real. It felt good.

  The warmth reached his spine. He moaned in relief as the constant chaffing and brittleness in his bones eased. He didn't know what was happening, why or by whom but he was so damn grateful he didn't care. Prone and at peace, John lay in awe. So great was his joy, tears of wonder streamed down his cheeks. His poor body thrummed with healing effervescence.

  As the heat slipped higher and higher, his heart calmed, his blood pulsed stronger, yet with serenity. The healing energy shifted, finally encompassing his face and head. His eyes closed. He rejoiced in the warmth bathing them from the inside. As the heat hit the top of his head, it seeped ever upward, as if squeezing through the very pores at the top of his head. He wanted the sensation to stay, the heat to turn around and slide down again, yet somehow he knew it wouldn't.

  I will come again.

  Tears streaked down the side of his face, only instead of feeling sad, John felt only grace and thankfulness.

  Remember, find joy and acceptance in life and appreciate all that you have.

  "Thank you," he whispered softly, afraid to dispel the magic of the moment.

  Soft beautiful laughter tickled the air.

  He felt a deep connection with the voice. Nothing lustful or lover-like. Instead, it was spiritual – something he never would have expected. He hadn't given the New Age crap any airtime in his world, and now all he could do was lie in his bed in amazement, wondering at the most beautiful experience of his life. He floated on that wave of wellness, until a sigh climbed his spine and escaped, taking with it years of toxic emotions, stress and negativity. He sank deeper and deeper into the feeling.

  His last thought before succumbing to sleep was of Dr. Maddy.

  What a class act.


  A hard knock sounded on the o
ffice door.

  "Dr. Maddy? Are you in there? It's been over an hour."


  "Dr. Maddy?" The knock became a pounding. The doorknob twisted uselessly. The door was locked. "Maddy!" This time, the door rattled as the person on the other side tried to get in.

  Maddy heard the noise, she understood the concern, but she hadn't returned to a functional enough state to answer Nancy.

  "I'm here," she croaked out in a whisper, barely audible over the music still streaming throughout her room in soft muted tunes. She uncurled slowly from the yoga position she'd been twisted into for the last hour or so. Blood rushed through the veins in her legs and up her spine. She stretched, waited another quick moment, and tried her voice again.

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