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Authors: Tanya Goodwin

An Evergreen Christmas

BOOK: An Evergreen Christmas
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An Evergreen Christmas

By

Tanya Goodwin

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual person, living or dead, events, or locales is coincidental.

All rights reserved.

Copyrighted 2012 by Tanya Goodwin

Cover by Rae Monet, Inc. Design

ISBN-9781624074752

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Dr. Holly Green stood in front of the 3
rd
floor hospital elevators, tapping her black ballet flats against the white tiled floor. “Can this elevator be any slower?” She thought. She glanced at her watch. Two minutes had gone by and the elevator was still on the 1st floor. Surgical rounds were on the 6th floor. “Come on. I'm going to be late.” Holly was always on time. In fact, she was traditionally the first of the surgical team to arrive. Christmas was one week away. All she had to do was to muddle through the holiday season, just as she did every year. Her day had already started badly. The barista had completely messed up her order. How she could have managed that, Holly had no idea. She’s at that coffee shop every morning, 6 a.m. sharp. Always a skinny latte. For God’s sake, how could that girl get it wrong? Holly sipped her coffee. The elevator doors parted. “Finally,” she said under her breath. She gritted her teeth. The elevator was packed. Two women and a man got out, leaving room for her. Holly paused and glanced at the elevator crowd.

“Come on in, Dr. Green,” a nurse wearing dangling reindeer earrings said.

Everyone in that elevator wore a hokey Christmas accessory. Wreath brooches, bright tree ornament necklaces, and Santa hats stared back at her. Even the nurses wore red and green scrubs today in celebration of the hospital Christmas party. Holly wore her everyday white blouse, black skirt, and black ballet flats. Not a hint of holiday cheerfulness. There was no way she was going to ride up the elevator with Santa's elves. Holly backed away from the elevator. “Go on,” she said. “I'll walk.” The elevator doors shut. Holly strode to the stairwell and opened the metal door, spilling her hot coffee onto her wrist. “Darn it!” She curled her fingers around the lid and climbed the stairs to the 6th floor. Despite her jaunt up 3 flights and a leaky coffee cup, Holly was the first one there. She set her cup onto the nursing station counter and walked over to the circular chart rack, spinning it like a roulette wheel.

Clifford Jackson, an intern on the team, arrived next. He rushed to the chart wheel.

“Uh, I'll get those, Dr. Green.”

Clifford plucked out a patient list from his lab coat pocket and loaded every chart on that list onto the rolling rack used for rounds. The rest of the surgical residents and medical students arrived.

Holly tapped her watch. “I have a busy O.R. schedule today so let's hop to it. And since Dr. Jackson got here before all of you, he gets to assist me in surgery today.”

Clifford shrugged as the other residents glared at him. Holly strutted paces in front of the team, stopping before the first patient room on the rounding scheduled, hands folded across her chest as she waited for the rest of the team to catch up. A medical student pushed the squeaky cart along the hall. Holly spun on her heel and sighed. “Sometime today, folks.”

The team picked up pace. They filed in frenzied order, the long white coat residents first, their eyes focused on Holly, their attending, tailed by the short coat medical students who tugged at the stethoscopes hanging around their necks. The team halted at the first patient's doorway.

Holly smiled and gazed at her team, hesitating long enough to watch them squirm. “Ah, who to pick on first?” She thought. The medical students shifted their weight. She squinted at the young female student at the back of the pack who licked her lips. Holly zeroed in on her name badge. “Ms. Candice Baxter, please present the first patient.”

Candice pulled a stack of index cards from the breast pocket of her lab coat. The team stood in silence as she shuffled the stiff cards, flipping the corners like a neophyte black jack dealer. She cast her eyes downward onto her white card. Clearing her throat, she read in a subdued and jagged voice, “Mrs. Shale is a...”

Holly rolled her eyes. “Stop. Ms. Baxter, won't you join me upfront and present the case utilizing the three C technique: concise, clear, and coherent.”

A resident snickered.

Holly shot her finger at him. “You'll present the next case. Meanwhile, Ms. Baxter will tell us everything we need to know about the woman in this room.” Holly glanced at her watch and then at Candice who at this point collected a row of sweat beads across her forehead. “You have 60 seconds to present. Go.”

The medical students and residents parted. Candice walked through the open path towards Holly. She looked down at her white index card. It flickered in her trembling fingers. “Mrs. Shale is a 61 year old woman.” She paused. “Um. She came to the emergency room with pain. Right upper quadrant pain,” she stuttered. “And, uh, was started on antibiotics.” Candice dropped her stack of cards. They scattered at Holly’s feet. Candice squatted, scooped up her cards, and blurted, “Mrs. Shale has impacted gallstones requiring surgical treatment. And, uh, I believe she’s going to the operating room today.”

Holly shook her head. “Dr. Clifford Jackson. Please present the patient so that we can all move on.”

Will this week never end!

Clifford nodded. “Mrs. Shale is a 61 year old woman who presented to the E.D. last evening with a chief complaint of right upper quadrant abdominal pain, worsening over the last three days accompanied by nausea and vomiting, exacerbated after eating, and fever. Pertinent findings during her work up included leukocytosis, elevated pancreatic enzymes, and an ultrasound that revealed cholelithiasis with thickening of the gallbladder wall and obstruction of the common bile duct. She has received 24 hours of intravenous antibiotics and has been NPO in anticipation of surgery this morning. She has consented to the laparoscopic cholecystectomy.”

“Thank you, Dr. Jackson. After you assist me with her surgery today, teach our new medical students how to present patients on rounds. Perhaps by the end of their surgical rotation, they’ll not slow us down.”

Clifford bowed his head. “I’ll make sure they’re better prepared tomorrow.”

“Good,” Holly said curtly.

Holly strode into the patient’s room, her team shuffling behind her. She rounded Mrs. Shale’s bed and stood next to her. “How are you this morning, Mrs. Shale?”

The plump red haired woman grimaced. “I’ve been better.”

Holly patted her hand. “You’ll feel better once I remove that meddlesome gallbladder.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

“You’re welcome. Go easy on the holiday treats this year.”

Tears spilled from Mrs. Shale’s lower lids and rolled over her ruddy cheeks. “Don’t worry. This is the first year my dear Martin won’t be with me. I’m passing on Christmas.”

Holly’s mouth went dry and her heart fluttered in her chest that squeezed tighter and tighter against her ribs. She licked the inside of her lips.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

Holly hadn’t celebrated Christmas in years. There wasn’t any point. And like every year, she’d ride out the holidays, grateful once the whole hullabaloo faded.

“I’ll see you in the operating room. Do have any questions?”

Mrs. Shale shook her head.

“All right.” She waved the team out of Mrs. Shale’s room, lingering long enough to give her patient an extra wave and a nod.

Behind schedule, Holly had the residents present the remaining cases on rounds. She didn’t have the patience or the time to listen to any more med students’ unpolished attempts. She dismissed the team and walked briskly toward the stairwell, bypassing an elevator ride with hospital merrymakers. Holly jogged back down the three flights and flung the metal door to the operating suites open, smacking straight into the chest of a man in hospital green scrubs heading the opposite way.

“Sorry,” they said in unison.

They danced back and forth, trying to dodge out of the other’s way, only to have further collided.

Holly sighed. “Why don’t you just stand still and I’ll go around you.”

“Sounds like a plan, Dr. Green.”

She ducked past him. In a hurry to the women’s locker room, she hadn’t read his name badge, which was strange since she didn’t recall seeing him before. But she did notice his dark auburn wavy locks and the crinkle of his deep brown eyes as he smiled at her apologetically, as he rightfully should have for obstructing her path. He did have a solid broad chest, she thought, which made bumping into him tolerable. Who was he? Holly shrugged. Chronic delay plaguing her day thus far, she’d find out later. Luckily not on call that night, she’d have time to change into her scrubs, extract Mrs. Shale’s gallbladder, pop back out of her scrubs, and high tail out of the hospital before roped into attending the party.

Holly kicked her shoes from her feet and slid off her blouse and skirt. She plucked her O.R. clogs from her locker and arranged her ballet flats, toes and heels parallel in their place, and hung her clothes onto the silver hooks. She shut the blue metal door. Hers was the only locker not decorated with photos, magnets, and stickers. Dr. Holly Green, written in black marker across a strip of masking tape, graced the front of her locker door. She donned the shapeless green hospital scrubs and pulled her blonde hair into a ponytail, tucking it beneath her scrub cap. Snapping on blue paper shoe covers over her clogs, she gave herself a quick once over in the mirror before heading out the women’s locker room, almost colliding with two nurses.

“Good morning, Dr. Green. Happy Holidays,” said one.

The other nurse yanked off her scrub cap and cinched the red ribbon dangling from her ponytail. “Merry Christmas. See you at the party.”

Holly smiled, not wanting to be cast a Scrooge. “Sure. Maybe. I have a surgery to do.” She stumbled over the words. Waving to the nurses, she hurried off to the O.R. schedule board. By the time she finished Mrs. Shale’s cholecystectomy, the locker room would be empty. She’d slip out without notice. They wouldn’t miss her anyway. She ducked out of the holiday shindig every year. This year would be no different.

Holly gazed at the board. Her O.R. start time delayed, she jammed her hands onto her hips and narrowed her eyes. She didn’t recognize the surgeon’s name that had bumped her from her time slot. “Noel Shepherd,” she muttered. “Who is this guy, and why is he in my O.R.?”

Holly pumped her arms with each step, all the way to O.R. 5. Turning military style around the corner, she halted at the steel scrub sink and cleared her throat. The masked surgeon, his arms coated with suds beneath a spray of water, turned his head toward her. He grinned beneath his surgical mask, his eyes crinkling upwards. It was he. The same guy she collided with earlier. Not only did he bump her from her case, but he also sported a Santa sticker on his beeper.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Noel rinsed the lather from his forearms and held them up over the scrub sink. Water trailed down from his arms and dripped from his elbows. “We haven’t formally met. I’m Noel Shepherd, new guy on the surgical block. Bumping into you and then bumping you from your O.R. time slot has probably landed me on your “not so nice list.”

Thank goodness he didn’t say “naughty list”, Holly thought.

“I’m so sorry.” He tilted his head toward the O.R. “The poor fellow in there has Crohn’s disease and needs an urgent small bowel resection.”

Holly relaxed her pursed lips and dropped her hands from her hips. “A small bowel resection trumps a cholecystectomy.” She turned around to face Clifford Jackson, her star intern of the day. “We’ll follow Dr. Shepherd’s case.”

Noel sidled up to her, elbows bent above his waste, arms shiny wet. “Since I don’t have a team assigned to me yet, how about you and Dr. Jackson scrub in with my case, and then I’ll assist you with your cholecystectomy? That way we’ll finish with our patients and still have time to crash the Christmas party.”

Holly tracked her gaze from Noel’s eyes, gleaming above his surgical mask, to the soft brown hairs peeking through the “V” of his scrub top. He was messing with her plans dodging the hospital’s festivities, but she couldn’t decline his offer. It could work to her advantage, too. She’d be done with her duties and could be home earlier than she anticipated.

“All right,” Holly said. “Dr. Jackson, let’s scrub.”

“Great. Thanks for your help.” Noel leaned his back against the O.R. door, arms above his waist, and nudged it open. He winked at her. “See you inside.”

Holly wrinkled her forehead. Was this new guy flirting with her? He did steal her O.R. And besides, she didn’t socialize with hospital staff, and had never dated anyone at Granite State Medical Center. Holly twisted her lips. She couldn’t recall the last time she was on date.

BOOK: An Evergreen Christmas
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