Welcome to the very first installment of my free read here on Through Stephanie’s Eyes. Thank you to all who participated in the poll. Dangerous Medicine was the overwhelming winner. To celebrate, I decided to offer the first five chapters here as a free read. Later in the summer, the entire book will be published by Sassy Vixen Publishing.
In Dangerous Medicine, you meet Dr. Miranda Jacobs, a veterinary cardiothoracic surgeon in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Thefts of one of the most common veterinary anesthetics are on the rise resulting in the sale of it on the street as “Special K.” Miranda comes face to face with the devastating effects of ketamine when her brother is slipped some at a fraternity party. He has a severe allergic reaction that ultimately puts him into a coma.
Miranda puts her fast-paced career on hold in order to be with her family at her brother’s bedside. It’s on the way to the hospital that she literally collides with Detective Jake Martinelli. Sparks fly between them, and Miranda finds herself fiercely attracted to Jake even though she knows very little about him.
Without giving away anymore of the story, here’s the first chapter of Dangerous Medicine.
“Okay, I think we’re ready to close now. Vicryl with the three-quarter inch needle please.” Miranda Jacobs deftly closed the muscle and skin layers then handed the instruments back to the intern who assisted her with the surgery. “I think you can handle it from here, Jordan.”
The newest intern appeared to barely be able to hold in her excitement. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dr. Jacobs. I’ll take good care of her.”
Miranda smiled behind her surgical mask. Jordan had followed her around every waking moment for the last few weeks and had demonstrated she was ready to take on more responsibility. Miranda remembered her intern days well. She didn’t get to be one of the best up and coming veterinary cardiologists in the state without countless hours in the ER and recovery room with her patients. When she noticed the same drive in an intern, she immediately took them under her wing, as her own mentor had done with her. It was Miranda’s way of giving back to the profession that had quickly become her passion and her entire world.
In this particular case, Jordan had more than earned her spot next to Miranda ligating the patent ductus of the tiny eight month old Maltese puppy. Not only did she handle all the pre-operative workup, Jordan took the time to create special handouts for the owners about what would happen during the surgery and recovery for their pet. She won over the clients as well as the staff with her attention to detail and confidence in her surgical abilities.
Miranda backed away from the table, pulled off the sterile surgical gown and winked over the top of her glasses. “Don’t thank me yet. We still have four procedures to do this afternoon and a full outpatient schedule. Make sure you grab a bit to eat when you’re through.” She left the surgical suite and removed her cap and mask in in one motion. Her naturally curly, auburn hair tumbled down over her shoulders. Much to her chagrin, it was very unruly this morning. She searched her locker for a clip to pull it back away from her face. She sighed at her reflection in the small mirror on her locker door. Stray curls haphazardly framed her face. “I guess that will have to do for now.”
She grabbed her white lab coat and slipped it on over her dark green surgical scrubs as she walked down the short hallway to her office. The rest of her staff had already gathered and waited for her to begin their lunch meeting. “Oh, what angel got the pizza?”
Leigh Ann, Miranda’s head technician, smiled. “We knew if we left it up to you, you would stay in surgery all day while the rest of us starved.” She passed a plate with two massive pieces of pizza loaded with meat and gooey cheese. She shook her head and laughed. “I don’t know how you can eat so much junk food and look like you just stepped off a runway during Fashion Week in New York.”
Miranda scrunched up her nose, stuck out her tongue and snatched the plate from Leigh Ann’s hands. She took a large bite out of one of the slices, closed her eyes and sighed. “Mmmm, this is absolute heaven. Tell you what. When you have as many nieces and nephews to chase after as I do, you’ll learn to eat whatever you have to eat in order to keep up with them. Can’t serve salad and soup to them and still keep favorite aunt status now can I?”
Leigh Ann’s laugher joined that of the rest of the group in the room. “I guess not. Now sit yourself down. This will probably be the only time you get to do so today with the look of the schedule.”
Miranda kicked off her shoes then plopped down into the overstuffed chair in front of her desk. She pulled her legs under herself and pushed several files out of the way to make room for her plate. “Go ahead. Let’s get this party rollin’.”
“Leigh Ann handed Miranda a bottle of water and cleared her throat. “You have four patients in the hospital slated to go home today. All have recovered well from their surgeries this weekend. Jordan is in Recovery with the Klein Maltese now. So far, so good. The patient is already up and moving around. Your next surgery is at two o’clock…the thoracic tumor. Here are the preliminary findings of the needle biopsy. They’re going over the slides one more time but it looks like another lymphoma.”
Miranda flipped through the patient’s chart and added the histopathology report to her own notes. She sighed. “I had hoped we’d be dealing with a benign mass this time. I’m not looking forward to cracking open this dog’s chest again. Let’s hope this will be the last—”
The loud ring of her cell phone pierced the quiet of the room. Miranda jumped at the unexpected sound. Very few people had the number and one of them sat wide eyed in front of her. Please let everything be all right. She forced a wave of anxiety and nausea back down deep in her gut. The photo on the screen told her the call was from Michael Jacobs Jr. “Hello? What’s wrong?”
The voice on the other end swore softly. The deep baritone of the older of her two brothers came through loud and clear and did little to calm her. “How do you know there’s something wrong?”
“Michael, no one ever calls me at work just to chat, especially not on my cell. What’s wrong?” Miranda’s heart pounded. “Is it the baby?” His youngest had been sick with a nasty cough the last weekend she’d been able to visit.
He sighed. “No honey. It’s not one of the kids. It’s Matt. He’s been taken to St. Mary’s. We need you to come home right away.”
Her stomach dropped. The pizza long forgotten as the fear took over. Good thing she was already seated, otherwise she’d have crumpled to the floor in a heap. Leigh Ann herded everyone out of the office to give her more privacy. “Matthew?” She found it hard to say anything more as her throat constricted. “Wh…what happened?”
“I don’t know, Randi. Pop said Matt went to some frat party last night with a bunch of friends. They said he had a seizure, fell down some stairs and cracked his skull.” Michael’s voice broke and Miranda could tell he was trying hard not to cry. “He’s in a coma. Please come home. Mom and Pop need you.”
Her mind reeled. “He’s never had seizures before. Something must have been slipped into his drink. No one has a seizure out of the blue.”
“The doctors found something called ketamine in his system. Besides the effects of the drug, they think he had a bad allergic reaction to it and that’s why he seized. Isn’t that a veterinary drug? How the hell did that get into a beer?”
“Oh God, Michael.” Miranda sighed deeply as she remembered the letter from the Drug Enforcement Agency sent out to all the veterinary clinics earlier in the year. “People have been stealing it from veterinarians and selling it on the street as something called Special K. The police have dubbed it the latest date rape drug.” Her vision blurred as tears filled her eyes. She struggled to ask more questions, but her mind wouldn’t form the right words. I don’t understand this at all. None of it makes any sense.
“Just come home, Randi. I know you have a loaded schedule and all, but we need you here to help explain what’s going on with Matt. We’re staying at the house, kids and all. It’s a bit crowded, but I think we have to be together now.”
“I’ll be home tonight.” Miranda dropped her phone on her desk. Her legs felt too wobbly to hold her up, but when she looked at the half-eaten pizza on her desk, her stomach rebelled. She bolted out of her seat and barley made it to the bathroom in time.
“Martinelli, you’ve got to stop blaming yourself for what happened to the Jacobs kid. You didn’t send him in there. He went in on his own. He told you himself he wanted to nail the creeps responsible for the date rape of his friend.”
Jake rubbed his eyes. Exhaustion had crept in while he wasn’t looking. He’d slept very little since he’d received the call. Matthew Jacobs, one of his informants at the local university for the last two years, had fallen into a coma. “I know, Lieutenant, but I can’t stop feeling I should’ve been able to protect him—maybe kept a closer eye on him. Hell, I knew he was chomping at the bit to bring down those frat boys. I just thought he would use his brain and let the police handle it.”
“Hey, the kid had never given you a reason to think he would go vigilante on you. He’d been a great source of information for your investigations of the dealers on campus. He didn’t get this involved with any of the other cases, so how could you have seen it with this one?
The look on the Lieutenant’s face told Jake all he needed to know and he was right. Jake knew he’d become too close to the Jacobs boy and should be removed from the case, but one way or another he’d be involved. He’d turn the city upside down, rattle every informant and thug he knew until he found the one who had put his young friend in the hospital—even if it cost him his badge.
“Why don’t you get out of here? Take a few days off. Go visit the kid in the hospital. Your caseload will keep and I’m sure his family would like to see you. From what I hear, they’re really fond of you—especially his mother.”
“I doubt any of them will feel that way when they find out I’m the one who put their son in danger in the first place. I should’ve never told him any of the details of the case against the frat boys.” He filled his lungs and slowly let the air out again. “I’ll take you up on the time off and call you when I know more about Matt’s condition.” He stood up, grabbed his leather jacket from the back of his chair and strolled out of the office. Outside, the sun had set low in the sky, but the resulting fireball still refused to give up without a fight.
For once he was grateful to have an excuse to don his retro mirrored sunglasses. The glare from the setting sun never bothered him, but the tears that filled his eyes did. He hated the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that had flooded through him all day. As he slipped behind the wheel of his Jeep Cherokee, he found himself at a loss as to where to go first. He had wanted to stop by the hospital before visiting hours were over for the night, but he didn’t know if he would be able to face the entire Jacobs clan all at once.
Matt had told him all about his large, close-knit family. Jake had never had that kind of family life himself. He’d married young, and after only three years and a messy divorce, he’d managed to remain single ever since. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to have a family of his own, but he’d never seemed to have the time to look for his soul mate. After his ex-wife had run off with his best friend, he’d turned a bit gun shy about opening his heart up to another woman again. He’d grown to like being an over forty-year-old loner with no one to answer to if he’d have to work late or just wanted to hang out all day in his sweats while he watched football on the sports channels.
He looked into the rear view mirror and then rubbed the two-day-old stubble that covered his jawline. He didn’t recognize the man that stared back at him. His dark brown eyes appeared bloodshot from lack of sleep, and his long wavy black hair refused to stay tied back with the leather thong knotted at his neck. “Well, ain’t you a beauty.” Jake turned the key to start the engine, put the Jeep in gear, and headed toward his apartment for a shower and shave. Once he’d made himself a bit more presentable, he would make his way over to the hospital.
Momentarily lost in his own thoughts, he missed an incoming call on his cell. He glanced at the screen, but didn’t recognize the number. Instead of pulling over, he waited until he’s traveled the last three miles to get to his apartment and then returned the call.
“Detective Martinelli? This is Mike Jacobs, Matt’s brother. Thank you for calling me back.”
“Has there been any news about his condition? I just got off work and had planned on stopping in within the hour.”
“No news yet but I had hoped you would be able to do me a favor though. Could you stop by my parent’s house and pick up my sister, Miranda? I know this is asking a lot, but I don’t want her to travel up here alone. I know my sister very well. She’ll put on a good front for the family even though she’s falling apart inside with worry about Matt.”
Jake hadn’t met any of the family other than their parents so Mike’s request caught him off guard. Even though it wasn’t something he’d expected to be asked to do, he felt relieved to do anything to help. He hadn’t looked forward to sitting around and waiting for any word from the hospital, so this would be as good of a distraction as any. “Sure, it would be no trouble to swing by and pick her up.”
“Thanks. Oh, don’t mention to her I asked you to do this. She’d kill me. Randi’s pretty headstrong and can usually take care of herself, but with Matt here…I guess you would have had to hear the sound of her voice on the phone when I told her the news. She sounded—fragile. That’s not my sister.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll think of something to tell her. Actually, I’m looking forward to meeting her. Matt had always spoken very highly of her. I got the distinct impression they’re very close.”
Mike sighed. “Yes, they are. I don’t know how she’ll react if he never comes out of this. She might withdraw completely from us and immerse herself deeper into that career of hers. Sorry, it’s just that I miss her and when something like this happens—I need to know she’s safe is all. Thanks again.”
“You’re welcome. See you soon.” Jake plugged his cell into the wall charger and made his way toward the bathroom. The sooner he cleaned up, the faster he’d be at the hospital with Matt’s sister in tow. Now he had to think of a believable cover story to get her to accept a ride from a stranger. He laughed at how bad that sounded. Probably best I introduce myself as a cop before she calls 911 on me. Don’t think the Lieutenant would ever let me live that one down!
All Rights Reserved. ©Stephanie Ryan 2014
Stop in next week for Chapter 2!
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