Krys Stevens is the best trauma doctor at Lakeside Hospital. She runs the ER like a finely choreographed dance, she has coworkers she calls friends, and she’s a superstar at the free clinic where she volunteers. What more could an ambitious young doctor want? One day, a patient arrives in the ER intubated with a ballpoint pen and changes everything – that’s how Krys meets Darcy, a former combat medic and a woman after her own heart.
My latest novel, LOVE TRAUMA, is available now on Amazon. Read the bonus scenes below.
Krys and Lily attend the girls’ graduation
“Sorry,” Krys said as Lily made her way across the narrow bleachers of the stadium. She had a barely visible limp and Krys didn’t remember it until Lily was most of the way there. “I could have come to you.”
“It’s no problem,” Lily answered with a smile. “Are you here to watch Chloe graduate?”
“Yeah. Ivy and Megan, too,” Krys said.
“I don’t know them very well,” Lily said. “Chloe’s going to be starting her residency in my department next week, though.”
“Ivy is Chloe’s partner,” Krys said. “I’m mentoring her this year, although she’s had a lot more say in that relationship than I have.” Krys laughed nervously, then added, “And I know Megan from her first year of medical school when we worked together on a special project. She and Chloe used to be roommates.”
“Oh, wow,” Lily said. “I had no idea you were all so connected.”
“If you’re working with Chloe, I’m sure she’ll loop you in, too,” Krys said, laughing again. God, what was with her? It was like her brain stopped working whenever she was outside of the hospital and she had to turn on the social side of her personality. It was always a rough transition because she didn’t do it very often. “Anyway, are you here with someone? Because we could sit together if you want.”
“I came alone,” Lily said, “and I appreciate the offer.”
They sat down and Lily proved to be much more easy-going than Krys. The conversation flowed smoothly as long as Krys let Lily do the talking, and for the next half hour, they waited for the stadium to fill up and the ceremony to begin.
“I don’t really see you around the hospital much,” Lily said. “You’re a resident, right?”
“Yeah, in the ER,” Krys said. “Truth be told, I hardly ever leave the department.”
“That would explain it,” Lily answered. “Well, I would advise you to work on that. I know you didn’t come all the way out to Northwestern for a lecture from a Lakeside attending, but it’s very important to get a little variety in your life. You don’t want to burn out.”
“There’s no danger of that,” Krys said. “I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere but the ER. I’m having withdrawal just from being here today.”
Lily laughed and kept the conversation going with chitchat about the hospital, then she told Krys about her most recent family vacation with her parents and brothers, and finally, the ceremony began. *** After the graduation ceremony, Krys and Lily went to the reception where the medical school graduates were being honored. Krys stuck close to Lily, preferring the comfort of a familiar person, until she saw Megan and her fiancée, Alex. Lily broke off to find Chloe and congratulate her, and Krys went to talk to Megan.
It wasn’t long at all before the conversation turned from graduation to the other big event in Megan’s life – the wedding that was coming up in just a few short weeks. Krys had gotten her save the date in the mail a month ago and she was still fretting over whether she wanted to show up stag, so she hadn’t mailed it back yet.
Alex didn’t waste any time teasing Krys about that fact. She took Megan’s hand and smiled at her as she said, “It’ll be here before we know it.” Then she turned to Krys and said, “It would really help if a certain someone would RSVP so we can finalize the seating charts.”
Krys gave her an apologetic look, but Megan jumped in to take the heat off her.
“That reminds me,” she said, a grin turning up one corner of her mouth. “I wanted to ask you whether you would like to do a reading at the ceremony.”
“Me?” Krys asked.
“Yeah,” Megan said. “We’ve gotten to be good friends over the last couple of years. I’d love for you to say something at the wedding.”
“Are you sure you’re not just trying to fish for an answer about my plus one?” Krys asked. “Because I’m just trying to figure out if I want chicken or fish.”
Megan laughed, then said, “Bring a date, don’t bring a date – just come and enjoy yourself.”
“Okay,” Krys said. “And I’d be honored to do a reading.”
“We better go find my parents,” Megan said. “My little brother’s probably eating the school into bankruptcy by now.”
She and Alex excused themselves and Krys looked around the tent. She found Ivy and Chloe standing with Lily at a bar table not far away, so she went over and joined them.
“Hey,” she said as Chloe threw her arms around her. “Congratulations to you both.”
“Thank you,” Chloe said with an enormous grin. Krys leaned over and hugged Ivy, too, and that hug was a little more awkward because neither of them were the touchy-feely type.
“You two both looked so professional up there on the stage,” Krys said. “I bet your parents are extremely proud of you.”
“My parents and sister came all the way from Portland to see me today,” Chloe said. She was positively beaming as she glanced around the tent. “I think my dad’s still pestering the dean. I should probably rescue her from him.”
“I’m sure she’s used to it by now,” Lily said. “So I know what’s next for Chloe – she’s coming to work with me. What about you, Ivy?”
“I’ll be at Lakeside, too,” Ivy said. “They have one of the best neurosurgery programs in the country and I’ll be happy to soak up as much of that experience as I can while I work through my general surgery residency. By the time I’m ready to dive into my subspecialty, hopefully I will have made myself indispensable to the chief of surgery and I’ll have my pick of programs.”
“You’re already wonderful and Dr. Isaac loves you,” Chloe said. Ivy rolled her eyes like she didn’t believe her, but she smiled and put her arm around Chloe’s waist.
“Thanks, babe,” she said and gave her a quick kiss, looking mildly embarrassed on account of their audience.
Lily, Krys and Darcy say goodbye to Malik
Bella’s was a pub in the heart of Evanston. Krys had passed it dozens of times on her way back and forth across the city from the hospital to the clinic, but she’d never gone inside. Darcy told her it was good – a hangout that she and her friends used to like when she was much younger – and more importantly, it was only a few doors down from the funeral home.
They went inside to wait for Lily to finish paying her respects, and in the meantime, they found a table. Krys and Darcy were part-way through their first glasses of wine. Krys was feeling a little loose from it, which should have helped make the conversation flow a little easier, but she was distracted with thoughts of the wake.
“Thanks for inviting me,” Lily said as she sat down at the table. “Are you sure I’m not intruding?”
“Not at all,” Darcy said. “We were glad to see a familiar face at the funeral home.”
Their waiter came to the table and took Lily’s drink order. When he was gone again, Krys asked Lily, “Do you go to all your patients’ calling hours?”
Lily smiled softly and said, “Well, thankfully it doesn’t come up that often, but I try to pay my respects when it does.”
“And do you think it helps you get over the loss?”
“Not get over it, exactly,” Lily said, “but it’s a healthy reminder of how serious our work is.”
The waiter came back with her drink and they sat in stillness for a few minutes. Darcy steered the conversation away from Malik eventually and Krys downed the rest of her wine then ordered another. It was strange to be at a little boy’s wake one minute, then drinking in a bar and talking about totally unrelated things in the next.
I guess this is life. This is how we move on.
“So you two have been going out for a couple of months now, right?” Lily asked. “Since Megan and Alex’s wedding?”
“Yeah,” Darcy said. “It’s been about a month and a half.”
“That’s sweet,” Lily said. “You two seem complementary.”
Darcy laughed and said, “Is that a nice way of saying that opposites attract?”
“Not at all,” Lily said. “You seem to be cut from the same cloth.”
“What about you?” Darcy asked. “We saw you chatting up that pretty girl at the wedding – Alex’s cousin, right? Was there a spark?”
“Alex’s friend from EMT school,” Lily corrected. She took a big gulp from her glass and seemed very interested in something across the room as she said, “No, nothing came of it. She was nice and we went on one date, but there was no chemistry.”
“That’s too bad,” Darcy said.
Krys smirked, taking note of the look in Darcy’s eyes, and told Lily, “She’s trying to think of who else she can hook you up with now. She may not look the type, but she’s just as hopelessly romantic as Chloe.”
“What’s wrong with wanting my friends to be happy?” Darcy asked. “Nothing,” Krys said, wrapping Darcy’s arm around her shoulder and snuggling into her. The effects of the wine were beginning to make themselves known, making her feel warm and sleepy. The pain of mourning was still there, but she had to admit it was a little easier to handle when she was surrounded by people she cared about.
“Don’t hook me up,” Lily said, sliding her finger contemplatively around the rim of her glass. “I do want a relationship – someday. But I’m in no rush to find Ms. Right.”
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