Maddys floor, p.4

Maddy's Floor, page 4


Maddy's Floor

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  She shook her head, panic stirring inside. Could energy fight with itself? With someone else's energy? Is that what happened to Eric? She studied the energy again. This time she saw it. The blanket of malevolence was moving over the bed and occupant, spreading and growing every minute.

  Underneath, Jansen was suffocating.

  His energy, tiny and thin, struggled to remain separate and distinct from the purple amoeba-like entity sucking the life force from him.

  Fear shot through her. This couldn't happen again. Maddy raced to the bedside. "Stop," she cried out hoarsely, not wanting to disturb the other patients. "Leave him alone."

  The purple energy quivered in place but did not dissipate.

  Maddy wafted her hands over Jansen's body. Her fingers slipped into and through the mist, neither feeling it nor dispersing it. She fed her own energy into Jansen's heart chakra, giving him her strength and will to hold on. At the same time, she closed her eyes and surrounded herself and, by the extension of her hand on his, Jansen's body with white light. The old answer to keeping oneself safe and balanced.

  The energy shifted, cooled.

  She opened her eyes to find the energy still wiggling in place, the purple haze malicious in appearance. Then slowly, like fog blowing in the wind, the haze thinned before sending tendrils into the darkness.

  Maddy reached out and checked Jansen's pulse. Her medical training took over on the physical level as her medical intuitive training took over on the energy field. She observed the thread-like cord of light stretching far out of Jansen's body, gently pulsating in a reassuring rhythm. Maddy coaxed his system to relax a little more, then to wake up gently.

  "Dr. Maddy?" His paper-thin lids opened to reveal rheumy blue eyes blinking in surprise.

  "Yes, it's me, Jansen." Maddy studied his face. "How do you feel?" He appeared fine, normal but surprised.

  "Christ, I don't know. I had the most horrible dream." He coughed slightly and shifted position in the bed, tugging at his covers as if chilled.

  "Oh?" Maddy kept her voice calm and soothing. "What was it about?"

  "Like someone was pulling my soul from my body, one inch at a time." Fear filled the old man's eyes. His thin hands grasped hers nervously. "I don't know what the hell it was, but I felt on a precipice between life and death. It was like meeting Peter at the pearly gates himself, and him not being too happy to see me."

  "Shhh." Maddy stroked his hands, noting with clinical detachment that his liver spots had begun to fade. "It was just a dream. Not to worry. It's over. I'm here, and you're safe. Go back to sleep."

  Relief washed over his face. "Thanks, Doc. Don't know what I'd do without you."

  Shifting sideways, Jansen closed his eyes and fell back to sleep.

  Maddy walked to the doorway, turned around and glanced back.

  No sign of the purple grim reaper. Jansen was safe.

  For now.

  She shuddered. What the hell was happening at The Haven?


  The Haven buzzed with activity. They had several hundred residents and more than that amount of staff. Without Gerard, the place would have imploded years ago. Maddy massaged her temples in an effort to draw out the tension.

  She wondered if she'd missed a growing thread of discontent. One that had started or fed the horrible negativity – or, dare she say it, evil – that she'd observed over Jansen last night. She couldn't even begin to understand the source of the hellish energy that contributed to Eric's death, either.

  After going home last night, she'd tried to contact several of the other medical intuitives she'd met over the years. She only managed to touch base with two. Neither had seen or heard of anything like that deep purple-black blanket of energy. A crime may have been committed in Eric's case, although what it was or how it was perpetrated was beyond her. Too bad she couldn't go to the police.

  That handsome detective she'd barreled into on the stairway bloomed in her mind, making her pulse quicken. Damn if that man hadn't made her hormones sit up and sing. She'd obviously been single too long. Maddy didn't do one-nighters, but right now her body was pushing her to reconsider the concept. That the detective wasn't impervious to her, helped keep his smile alive in her mind and the 'what ifs' dancing through her body. The warm light of approval she'd seen in his eyes had been hard to ignore. She should have asked his name. Hell, she should have asked for his phone number. She could only hope his uncle would make it onto her floor so he'd become a regular visitor.

  She walked out to collect the stack of papers waiting in her intray.

  "Dr. Maddy. The ambulance has arrived with Dr. Lenning."

  Silence descended on the nurses' station. All movement stopped. Furtive glances came her way. Everyone knew about their new patient, and the impact it could have on Maddy.

  Maddy nodded as if she'd been expecting the news. Gerard was nothing if not fast.

  "Right. Let Dr. Cunningham know, will you Nancy? Dr. Lenning is his patient. Dr. Lenning's to be put into the new area, in bed 349. I'm presuming the bed is in place. If not, we'll need to get one brought up immediately."

  "It arrived an hour ago. Except, uhm, Dr. Cunningham isn't in yet."

  "Isn't he?" Already on her way to her office, Maddy spun around to stare at Nancy, her head nurse and confidante – not to mention best friend – who had been there almost as long as Maddy. A frown creased her brow. "Where is he?"

  "He phoned in to say he'd been called to surgery unexpectedly." The two women looked at the clock.

  "Ten o'clock." Maddy tapped her toes, thinking rapidly. She'd do a lot to avoid meeting Dr. Lenning, but she wouldn't be able to avoid that forever.

  Shrugging as if it didn't matter, Maddy said, "You know what to do. Get our new patient comfortable and check his vitals. His information should have come with him. If it's there, bring it down to me and I'll see what we're looking at. If it's online, send me the link. I'll speak with Dr. Cunningham when he gets in."

  After scooping up the stack of paperwork from her box, Maddy headed to her office for a little down time before facing the one man who'd managed to teach her quite a lot about fear. She walked the short hallway, feeling the eyes focused on her back, the whispers in her wake. Let them talk. Maddy only hoped they wouldn't indulge in a gossip fest. Gossiping destroyed a peaceful balance faster than anything.

  Knowing this didn't stop it, however. People were human and reacting was instinctive. It's when the gossip didn't stop that it became a problem.

  She dropped the paperwork on the corner of her desk and walked to her window to stare out at the courtyard. Having to deal with Dr. Lenning was not going to ruin her day. She wouldn't let it. Gerard knew what he was doing, and if he said this was a necessary step, even given her history with the good doctor, then she'd accept that and try to make it work. She was a professional.

  One difficult patient, a dying one at that, wasn't worth making a major life-altering change. Not now. She'd put so much time and effort into this floor, and she could hardly abandon it. To do that would tear her soul apart.

  Grimly, she reached for the paperwork on her desk. She had work to do. Making the new patient comfortable required at least an hour, possibly two. With any luck, Dr. Cunningham would show up by then.


  Dying was a bitch and Dr. Lenning had sworn off bitches years ago. Until now. The trouble with dying was it gave him too much time to think. He'd been more than satisfied with his life until he found out he was losing it. He'd lost the best thing in his life when he'd lost the love of his life, Mark, five years ago. Even now, his heart ached at the memories. He'd loved and been well loved in return.

  Four years ago, he'd lived a normal life – at least for him.

  Then he'd seen Maddy and he'd lost the one sure thing he knew about himself – his sexuality. She had changed that. Her slim, lithe, vibrant femaleness had challenged his beliefs. She'd made him doubt himself and the choices he'd made. Made him wonder if he'd been fooling himself
all these years. He'd hated feeling like he was betraying Mark. He tossed his head back and forth. He wouldn't be disloyal to Mark or his memory. He couldn't. But these feelings…

  He detested the feelings Maddy had stirred up, the glow he felt when he was around her. He wanted Maddy and he hated her for that. He'd wanted her removed from The Haven. He had even gone so far as submitting a fifty-page document to the medical board hoping to kill her medical career. Only she'd had some powerful people on her side. So he'd spent the last four years alternating between a need so crippling he shook with it, and a hatred so violent he vibrated because of it.

  Maddy's never-ending legs rose in his mind. Christ, he couldn't get her out of his thoughts. Knowing that made him angrier. He closed his eyes and shuddered. These feelings were worse than he'd experienced during puberty. He'd never had a woman and now, bedridden and dying, the chances were good he never would. That left him in endless torment. Teenage fantasies tortured him with excruciating 'what ifs.'

  Why now, when he had no time to explore that side of life? Why her? And why had he demanded to be on her floor where this exquisite torment would be that much worse?

  Even as he asked the questions, he knew the answers. He was desperate, that's why. Not that he understood her New Age bullshit, but dying made him more open, more willing to look at other options. He hoped she did have some magical skill that would save him. He wanted to believe.

  His education and experience said there were no second chances for anyone.

  Plus, he couldn't resist an opportunity to get close to her.

  "Stupid bastard. Why didn't you do something about this before? Why didn't you grab some pills and finish this once and forever?" But he hadn't. As long as there was one more day to live, one more chance of a life, one more hope of seeing Maddy again, he'd take it.

  He grimaced. God, he was weak. The woman wouldn't give him the time of day. Not now. Not after he'd tried his damnedest to get her out of his life, his profession, his space – to where he'd never have to see her again. Then cancer had ground his life to a halt. Now he needed the special healing powers she was rumored to have. The same ones he'd used to try to run her out of the medical association.

  She hated him.

  He couldn't blame her.

  He hated himself.


  A heavy knock on her door interrupted Maddy from her drug interaction research. "Come in," she called out.

  The door opened tentatively. Gerard poked his head around the corner. "Maddy? Sorry to bother you. I just checked to see how Dr. Lenning was faring. He's not in a great mood."

  Maddy raised a brow in surprise. Things couldn't be that bad. No one had come to tell her about any problems. With a discreet check on her watch, she realized only an hour had gone by. The patient would barely be in bed and checked over. Stifling a sigh, she leaned back to give Gerard her full attention.

  "Not surprising. He's dying and any attempt to make him more comfortable requires more drugs, which leaves him moving up and down on the moody scale." She sighed and added gently. "It is normal and expected – regardless of whether we like it or not."

  Gerard grabbed the spare chair, swiveled it around and sat on it backwards to face her. Slightly older than her, Gerard had garnered a lot of respect in the years he'd been here. "He says he hasn't seen you yet."

  Maddy willed her patience to suck it up. "No, he hasn't." She glanced at the time on her computer. "It's early yet. I doubt the floor nurse has even completed her assessment. Dr. Lenning knows the length of time it takes to complete admission. There are deadlines to meet and we will meet them."

  She held up her hand to forestall Gerard's next words. "Yes, I will go and welcome him to The Haven if Dr. Cunningham doesn't arrive in the next hour. I do want to see his paperwork first, however."

  "Fair enough. I'll stop by before I go downstairs and let him know you'll be along in a little bit." He stood, flipped the chair back around the right way, and stepped to the door. "I want to tell you that I appreciate your cooperation on this. We all know that he isn't the ideal patient for this floor, but his money is good and our need is great."

  Maddy smiled at Gerard who was doing his usual, putting money first. He exemplified tunnel vision. "I don't have a problem with either point. However, his presence on my floor is definitely not required. The rest of The Haven is just as great a facility. The staff is equally qualified." She stretched her arms forward, clasping her hands together and rested them on her desk as she had in grade school. "To have insisted on my floor doesn't mean he gets me."

  "No, it certainly doesn't. You're carrying a large caseload as it is. However, this morning, if you would step in for Dr. Cunningham, we'd appreciate it."

  "Absolutely." She firmed her jaw. "But should he cause any unrest or deliberately attempt to sabotage my floor, my people or my project, I will ship him downstairs. And I don`t care about how much money he spent to get here. Do you understand?"

  Maddy watched as surprise lit Gerard's eyes, followed by a tinge of anger and then finally his tensed shoulders relaxed and he nodded. "I suppose that's no different than for any other patient we take in."

  His cell phone rang. Sliding it from his pocket, he looked at the number and grimaced. "That's our next new patient, John McNeil. I need to speak with him." With a quick salute to her, he left.

  He hadn't been gone ten minutes when Nancy arrived, rolling her eyes. "The new patient is settled in and complaining loudly." She held out a fat binder to Maddy. "This is his. He might squawk loudly, but I doubt he's going to die tonight or tomorrow. When you're done going over it, we'll enter his information online."

  The binder sat on her desk. Maddy gazed at it as if it were a viper ready to strike. The Haven was more advanced technologically than many other facilities. She'd forgotten how much easier it was to have everything online.

  How much longer until Dr. Cunningham arrived? She reached for her cell phone. He answered almost immediately. "Hi Maddy, the roof must have fallen in for you to need me."

  "Maybe it has." She leaned back in her chair, relieved to have reached him. "Dr. Lenning transferred in this morning."

  He chuckled. "So the pain in the ass is there, is he? I have to admit, I hoped he'd change his mind at the last minute." Paul coughed and cleared his throat.

  Maddy waited until he was quiet. "No, he's here and would like to see his doctor."

  "Par for the course. Well, buck up. This is one we have to have whether we like it or not."

  She knew and understood that. But she still wanted him in to deal with the new patient. "That's why I'm calling you. When are you coming in?"

  "I'm still going to be another hour here, so do me a favor. Give him the welcome speech, or the warning speech in his case, and tell him I'll be there soon to go over his medical information and current treatment. You have to face him sometime and this way he can't fault you for your lack of professionalism. I promise I'll be over soon."

  And that was as good as it was going to get.

  Maddy closed the binder on her desk, and stood. She'd grab a coffee, put on her most professional smile and be civil. She could do this. She had to. Maintaining the healing balance on her floor depended on it.


  John shifted positions, hating the throb that raced down the outside of his right leg. Damn useless body. Piling the sheet at his waist, he shifted his cell phone so he'd hear better.

  "Gerard, I want to confirm that my transfer's gone through." John strained to listen to the voice on the other end of the phone. "Wanted to say thanks. I've been waiting to get onto Maddy's floor for a while now, but it's not like beds open up there. Good thing that new wing was being developed. And that I donated to it, huh?" He laughed until a cough caught him out. "Damn chest. Can't stand all this coughing."

  He reached for his glasses atop the small bedside table. "Speak up, boy. I know you're busy, however I want to know when the transfer will happen. I've waited all morning for news, and nary a
peep out of your people. Haven't got all year, you know." He chuckled at his own joke as he pulled his day planner to his side.

  "I gather Drew spoke with you."

  "Yup, he did. Now I've got my calendar out. So when can we make this happen? I have lab tests this morning…the dietician's coming midafternoon – I'm happy to miss her. Lord, if I have any more fiber in my cereal I'm going to start to moo with the damn cows. I know there are a couple of other appointments here somewhere. Give me a minute…" He studied the handwritten notes that kept his daily activities organized. What a pitiful way to live. He knew the ward clerk kept it all straight, but he needed to keep track of it himself. A matter of pride. He wasn't that decrepit.

  "What's that?" He'd missed Gerard's last comment. Damn the man, why wouldn't he speak up? Christ, the guy was big yet had the voice of a woman. He was probably a damn fairy; wouldn't surprise him, knowing his mother and the antics she'd been up to way back when. In his day, that wasn't talked about, but now, Christ, these men wore pink shirts to advertise the fact. What the hell was happening to the world?


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