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Turbulence, p.14

Turbulence, page 14

 

Turbulence
 


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  “Yes, but—”

  “Let it rest, Dana. Speaking of which, we should probably get some shut-eye. We’re going to have four boys to keep up with tomorrow.”

  “Okay, but first,” She rose up on one elbow to gaze into his face, “I want to thank you for what you did today.”

  Her floral scent reminded him of spring days and sunshine. “What did I do?”

  “Saved me from the snake. You really shouldn’t have put yourself in harm’s way.”

  He shrugged. “Partners watch each other’s back.”

  “Even unwilling partners?”

  “Even those,” he agreed. Then, because her face hovered so close to his and the urge to taste her lips was so strong, he reached up to gently stroke her cheekbone.

  “I want to kiss you again,” he said.

  “You do?”

  She hadn’t pulled back, looked shocked, or slapped him, which could only mean she wasn’t averse to the idea. “Without a doubt,” he assured her.

  “How can we?” she asked. “Pete and Eddie are still awake.”

  “Their noses are stuck in Victoria’s Secret, so they won’t notice a thing. Believe me, as a former teenage boy, I know what I’m talking about.”

  It was hard to read her expression in the darkness, but he swore he saw both indecision and desire warring with each other. In the end, he took matters in his own hands.

  “We’re talking when I’d rather be doing this.” He tugged her down on top of him and kissed her.

  DANA HAD BEEN CURIOUS if her reaction to Micky’s first kiss had simply been a fluke—an aberration caused by her near brush with disaster. She now knew the truth. It was not.

  Tenderness soon gave way to a need that demanded fulfillment. The rush she felt inside made every kiss from every man before Micky pale in comparison. It was as if he’d found the right combination, creating a level of passion in her that was earth-shattering and unique.

  She rested on his chest, as eager to touch him as to be touched. Her hands cradled his head while his pressed against her hips and spine. The rough stubble on his face rasped against her skin, but she hardly noticed.

  Just when she thought her senses would short-circuit from the overload, his breath turned ragged and he yanked his mouth off hers.

  “We’d better stop,” he said.

  It took several seconds for his words to soak through her fevered brain. Immediately she rolled over and moved to the corner of their pallet. Cursing herself for acting like one of his pilot groupies, she said, “You’re right. We should both cool off.”

  He leaned over her side. “Only for now.”

  She froze. “What?”

  “Only for now,” he repeated. “Tomorrow’s another day.”

  “But—”

  “If not tomorrow, then the day after. Regardless of when, it will happen.”

  “Is that a promise?”

  “Oh, yes.” He brushed a wisp of hair out of her face. “Now go to sleep. You’ll want to check your patients soon, I expect.”

  She pressed the button on her watch to light up the digital display. “In about an hour.”

  “They won’t appreciate being disturbed.”

  “Maybe not, but I want to keep an eye on them.”

  “‘Watched pots don’t boil,’” he quoted.

  “That’s what I’m counting on. I don’t want anything to happen.”

  “All right then. If you need me, I’m here.”

  When he moved back to his side, Dana felt oddly alone. She wriggled to find a comfortable spot and fluffed up her side of the rolled blanket.

  “Can’t get comfortable?” he asked.

  “No.” She punched her makeshift pillow once again.

  “Here.” He slipped his arm underneath her neck. “Use my shoulder.”

  She hesitated, certain that resting her head on Micky wasn’t a wise choice under the circumstances.

  “Go on,” he said. “I won’t bite. I promise to be on good behavior.”

  After rolling over and scooting against him, she wasn’t surprised that they fit perfectly. “Thanks. I owe you one.”

  She sensed rather than saw his grin. “Pay me later.”

  DANA WOKE WITH A START. She didn’t know if a noise had brought her out of her light sleep, or if her internal clock had simply jolted her awake. The wind still roared overhead and she pressed the button on her watch to illuminate the dial.

  Four-thirty in the morning. She’d missed her patient rounds by three hours.

  Micky lay nearby, dead to the world, but he was entitled. He’d put in a hard day yesterday and was clearly exhausted.

  As she slowly forced herself to wake completely, she heard a whimper and realized that it must have been the sound responsible for dragging her out of her deep sleep.

  She rolled to one side and groped on the floor for the flashlight. As soon as she located it, she cupped the flashlight’s beam to keep from waking everyone in the room.

  Josh was sleeping soundly, one arm outstretched, while Clay snored lightly on his cot. A quick check of Pete and Eddie showed they were also fine. Will, however, moved restlessly on the recliner seconds before he stifled a groan.

  Dana inched her way toward him. “Will? How are you doing?”

  “Not so good.”

  “What’s wrong?”

  “My arm hurts. I feel funny all over.”

  She tipped the light to examine him more closely. His color had turned pasty, his breathing seemed more shallow and his heart rate had become faster than when she’d previously checked his vital signs.

  “Are you cold?” She placed her palm on his forehead.

  “A little.”

  Considering the room temperature was about ten degrees above what was comfortable, she suspected that Will was in the early stages of shock. If that was the case, she couldn’t elevate his feet properly while he lay on the recliner.

  “If I help you, can you lie on the floor and stretch out?”

  “Okay.”

  “Hold on.” She left his side to nudge Micky. “Wake up.”

  He instantly became alert. “What’s wrong?”

  “You have to trade places with Will.”

  To Micky’s credit, he didn’t ask questions. It took several slow and agonizing minutes, but Will was soon lying in Micky’s former spot. Dana moved Will’s thick pillow from his neck to his feet before she tucked his blanket and the one she and Micky had been using around him.

  “How’s that?” she asked the youth.

  “Better.”

  “Just to be safe, I’m going to start an IV,” she said in a voice hardly above a whisper. “You can use the extra fluids.”

  Will closed his eyes and nodded. Dana motioned to Micky. “Pass the medical kit, please. And hold the flashlight.”

  Wordlessly he obeyed. Several minutes later, the IV fluid was dripping into Will’s good arm.

  Micky crouched beside her. “Did you put something in that for pain?”

  “No.”

  “Why not?”

  “Because I don’t have authorization.”

  “You gave him something earlier.”

  As if she needed to be reminded. “I need new authorization to administer another dose. That’s the rule.”

  “What’s wrong with him?”

  “He may be going into shock.”

  “Isn’t it a little late? I mean, don’t people do that right after they’re hurt?”

  “It depends on the situation and what’s involved. Since we haven’t been able to align the break, I’ve been watching for signs of complications, just in case.”

  “So now what?”

  “We wait,” she said simply. “Keep him comfortable and warm.”

  “Why the IV?”

  “A precaution. It’s best to establish an open line before it becomes critical to have one.”

  He rubbed his face as if to wipe away the final remnants of sleep. She heard the rasp of whiskers before she saw their shadow
y trace on his chin. “Take the chair,” she advised. “You may as well grab a few more winks.”

  “What about you?”

  “I’ll sit here with Will.” At his hesitation, she urged, “Go ahead. If anything changes, I’ll wake you.”

  While he settled into the chair Will had vacated, Dana crawled into the corner beside her patient and sat with her back against the wall.

  An hour went by, then two. To stay awake, Dana rehashed everything Micky had told her and tried to fill in the bits he hadn’t.

  To use his own words, he “lived life large” and not entirely, she suspected, because it was born and bred in him. His father’s medical condition had hit him hard, and it was obvious to her that he intended to squeeze an entire lifetime of living in the days he had, in case he might be trapped in the same situation. Flying and taking risks had provided a way to cope with the pain he felt.

  As for his romantic relationships, Dana understood that his business took up a great deal of his time, and most women worried more than usual when their loved ones were in dangerous occupations. Micky was in the same situation as she was. For a man to accept her, he had to accept her line of work, too.

  The difference between Micky and her was that she was still looking and he was not. He’d already chalked himself up as a lost cause and didn’t intend to expect more from his relationships than he could offer.

  It was a shame, really. After knowing him for a day, watching him interact with the boys, seeing him worry over Sam, Dana knew that he had so much to give to a woman.

  What a waste, plain and simple.

  Micky had settled for second best—people lasted longer than planes—and she hoped that he realized it before it was too late.

  Dana checked her watch again, then silently gave her attention to Will. He wasn’t worse, at least, although his color hadn’t improved. She hoped it was because of the poor lighting, but she wouldn’t know for sure until she could see him in daylight.

  At six-thirty, Micky stirred. “How is he?” he asked.

  “The same.”

  “You look tired.”

  “Thanks for the compliment.”

  “Did you get any sleep?”

  “Not much. You?”

  “Some, but definitely not enough.” He cocked his head. “Sounds like we’re over the hump.”

  She listened and heard the rain pounding on the roof. “We are?”

  “The wind has died down.”

  Now that he mentioned it, Dana realized the piercing howl she’d grown accustomed to was barely noticeable. “Isn’t that the eye of the storm?”

  “That passed hours ago,” he said. “You slept right through it, including when the winds changed direction. I’d definitely say we’re over the worst.”

  “So that means we can leave?” Considering Will’s condition, arriving at a hospital wouldn’t happen soon enough to suit her.

  “Not yet. We may be stuck here until evening. Or longer.”

  Evening? She didn’t like the sound of that.

  “I could use a cup of coffee,” she blurted.

  “Me, too.” He rose from the chair. “I’ll see what I can rustle up.”

  “Is it safe to leave the room?”

  “I’m going to check it out.”

  By the time fifteen minutes ticked by, Dana was ready to go hunt for Micky, when he finally returned.

  “We don’t have power,” he told her, “but according to the radio, the winds are down to around thirty miles per hour. It’s still a gullywasher out there, though.”

  “No coffee, then.”

  “Afraid not. Will a Coke do?” He held out a cool can. “I found it buried in the back of the refrigerator.”

  “I’ll take my caffeine any way I can.” She popped the top and took a long swallow. “Thanks. I needed that.”

  He glanced at Will. “How is he?”

  She shook her head. “Holding his own, which is good. Do we have to stay in here all day?”

  “Probably not. Just avoid the windows because the wind is still strong enough to hurl something through them.”

  By 8:00 a.m., the boys started to stir. Josh eyed Will’s IV bag apprehensively. “Is he okay?”

  “He wasn’t feeling too well during the night,” Dana answered. “I’m giving him a little pick-me-up.”

  “Oh.”

  Eddie sat up and yawned. “What’s for breakfast?”

  Dana glanced at Micky and smiled. “That sounds like a question for you.”

  “Canned peaches and stale toaster pastries,” he said. “Last one there gets the crumbs.” While he took the boys into the kitchen to eat, Clay awoke and Dana hurried to calm his fears about his son.

  “He’s fine right now,” she said. “I’m keeping a close eye on him.”

  “You’ll let me know if anything changes?”

  “Absolutely,” she said. “How’s your head?”

  “Much better. I think I can eat something today.”

  “Then you’d better get out there before the food disappears,” she said with a smile.

  “Thanks, I will.”

  In spite of setting the rate for Will’s IV at a “to keep open” rate, the bag was two-thirds gone. There was only one more in the kit, so Dana was determined to drain every last drop.

  When Micky returned carrying a bowl of canned peaches for her breakfast, she asked him if there were any more meds stored on the plane.

  “Sorry,” he said. “Everything’s in the drug box. Is there a problem?”

  “Not yet,” she said. “Is the phone working?”

  “It wasn’t as of an hour ago. I’ll check again.”

  As soon as he went in the other room to try, she knelt over Will and took his pulse. “How are you doing?”

  “Okay,” he answered. “Not good, but not bad.”

  His heart rate had increased again. Worried about circulation in the arm closest to his broken collarbone, she pressed a fingernail bed on his hand and watched to see how long it took the area to turn pink again. His capillary refill took a full two seconds—within normal limits—but she knew he would bear close watching.

  “Just relax,” she said cheerfully. “You’re not missing a thing.”

  She increased the drip speed of the IV, checked the elevation of his feet, then covered him with another blanket. Micky was kind enough to bring her and Will each a toaster pastry for breakfast, and Dana was glad to see Will felt strong enough to eat.

  Although her vigil continued for the next few hours, Dana took time to wash her face and brush her teeth with a spare toothbrush that Micky had found. Her uniform and socks had dried, so she exchanged Micky’s clothes for them.

  Dana noticed the boys were more quiet than they’d been yesterday. It was just as well. She wasn’t in the mood to entertain anyone.

  By 11:00 a.m., the rain continued to fall as if heaven had decided to dump every drop on them at once. Will’s pulse rate now seemed weaker and his capillary refill rate had increased to three seconds, which worried her more than she let on.

  As she hung her last IV bag, Dana knew something had to be done, and soon. She cornered Micky for a private chat.

  “Any luck with the cell phone reception?” she asked.

  He shook his head. “No.”

  “What about the radio on the plane?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Can you find out?”

  “Yeah.” His eyes darkened. “It’s Will, isn’t it?”

  She nodded. “We have to get him to a hospital.”

  CHAPTER NINE

  MICKY IMMEDIATELY TUGGED ON his boots and grabbed his slicker. “He isn’t any better?”

  “No,” she said. “I’m not happy with the circulation in his injured arm and he’s definitely shocky.”

  “How long do we have?”

  “At the most, a couple of hours. Probably a lot less.”

  “What if we can’t leave?”

  “Worst case scenario?” At his nod, she explai
ned. “He could lose the use of his arm.”

  He pulled his hood over his head. “Okay. I’ll be back as soon as I know something.”

  The door had no sooner closed on him than Eddie came out of the bedroom. “Where’s Micky going?”

  “To the plane,” she said.

  “What for?”

  “To raise someone on the radio.” Then, because she didn’t want to start a panic, she diverted his attention. “How many collectible coins did you find in the jug?”

  Eddie’s face lit up. “At last count, forty-six wheat pennies, and we haven’t even gone through half yet. The biggest find was a 1905 Indian head cent. I’d have to check my book, but I think it’s worth about twenty dollars.”

  “That much?”

  “Oh, yes,” he assured her. “I was hoping to find one minted in 1877. Those are worth over five hundred dollars, but I haven’t so far. They’re awful rare, though.”

  “Keep looking,” she advised, smiling at his enthusiasm. “You might be lucky.”

  “Micky would be lucky,” he corrected. “They’re his pennies.”

  She followed him into the safe room and checked Will’s IV while Eddie, Pete and Josh spread coins across the table and resumed their treasure hunt.

  Clay motioned her into the kitchen, his eyes worried. “What’s happening with my son?”

  “As you can see, he’s resting easier,” she began.

  “But something’s wrong.”

  “I’m afraid so.”

  “What’s the problem?”

  “I suspect that his broken clavicle—his collarbone—is putting pressure on the artery that runs underneath it. His arm is losing circulation.”

  “Oh, my God. Is there anything you can do?”

  “He needs medical intervention,” she admitted. “That’s why I don’t want to wait to transport him to a doctor.”

  “But we can’t leave, can we?”

  “Micky’s checking on flight conditions,” she said simply. “If he gives us the green light, we’ll go.”

  “If not?”

  She refused to consider such a dismal prospect. “Then we’ll do the best we can.”

  “Which is?”

  “Continue to give him supportive care.”

  “Will he lose the use of his arm?”

  “Let’s not worry about worst case scenarios,” she said gently. “The good news is that the brunt of the storm has passed, so things are looking up as far as getting everyone to a hospital.”

 
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