Authors: Candace Calvert
Praise for Candace Calvert
“If you need an infusion of hospital drama,
is just the prescription!”
best-selling author of the Heroes of Quantico series
“Talk about fiction first aid!
writes a prescription for heart-pounding medical drama/romance like Candace Calvert. A gritty glimpse into the heart and soul of Mercy ER and its men and women in the trenches,
is an adrenaline high with professional realism ripped from today’s headlines and enough romantic tension to spike your pulse. An ER (exciting read!) experience you will never forget. . . . I
award-winning author of the Daughters of Boston series
. . . Candace Calvert paints medical scenes that ring with authenticity and drama, while giving us a glimpse into the lives and hearts of the people behind the stethoscope. This is great writing that’s full of faith and hope.”
+++Richard L. Mabry, MD,
“Candace Calvert has proven she knows her stuff on the ER stage. Excellent writing, appealing characters, and an honest portrayal of human emotions—this book is a great read, and I predict a huge readership for the author.”
A Killing Frost
and the Hideaway series
grabs the reader from its opening pages to its riveting end. Compelling characters keep you turning the pages to see what happens next.”
Together for the Holidays
“Candace Calvert succeeded in thrilling me, chilling me, and filling me with awe and respect for ER trauma.”
Breach of Trust
Sworn to Protect
“The story flows well and keeps the reader’s attention. . . . Characters find not only psychological healing, but also spiritual renewal.”
“This is such an action-packed, heartfelt, really gripping story. I just couldn’t put it down.”
+++Nora St. Laurent,
! Candace Calvert delivers a wonderful medical romance that peeks inside the doors of an ER to discover a cast of real-life characters who learn to love and live and discover God’s truths, all in the high-stress world of medicine.”
+++Susan May Warren,
award-winning author of
Happily Ever After
Nothing but Trouble
“I’ve always said if I weren’t an author, I’d be in the medical field, so it’s no wonder I ate up Candace Calvert’s
. I lived and breathed the problems and struggles in the ER along with the characters. Terrific story and terrific writing.”
Cry in the Night
“Finally, a reason to turn off
. Here is a realistic medical drama with heart. Candace Calvert gets it right with page-turning prose, a heartwarming love story, and hope.”
+++Harry Kraus, MD,
best-selling author of
Salty Like Blood
Could I Have This Dance?
Visit Tyndale’s exciting Web site at www.tyndale.com.
Visit Candace Calvert’s Web site at www.candacecalvert.com.
and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2010 by Candace Calvert. All rights reserved.
Cover photo of woman copyright © by Zsolt Nyulaszi/iStockphoto. All rights reserved.
Cover photo of man copyright © by BlueMoon Images/Photolibrary. All rights reserved.
Author photo copyright © 2008 by Frankeen Price at Foto by Frankeen. All rights reserved.
Designed by Mark Anthony Lane II
Edited by Sarah Mason
Published in association with the literary agency of Natasha Kern Literary Agency, Inc., P.O. Box 1069, White Salmon, WA 98672.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible,
New International Version
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.
Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Calvert, Candace, date.
Code triage / Candace Calvert.
p. cm. — (Mercy hospital ; no. 3)
ISBN 978-1-4143-2545-3 (pbk.)
1. Women physicians--Fiction. I. Title.
my real-life hero and husband—
you made me believe in happily ever after.
Heartfelt appreciation to:
Literary agent Natasha Kern, for all that you do and for who you are—a blessing, truly.
The incredible Tyndale House publishing team, including editors Karen Watson, Jan Stob, Stephanie Broene, and especially Sarah Mason—your suggestions were invaluable.
Critique partner Nancy Herriman—talented and loyal first reader, dear friend.
Kendall County Sheriff Roger Duncan and Lieutenant Louis R. Martinez—for graciously answering general questions regarding law enforcement procedures.
Daughter-in-law Wendy MacKinnon, DVM, and Abigail Dimock, DVM, for reading equine scenes—your generous help was much appreciated. Any inaccuracies are mine.
Fellow nursing, medical, fire, rescue, law enforcement, and chaplaincy personnel—this story means to honor you.
St. Helena’s Church, Community of Hope, and Bible study sisters—you’re great!
My family, especially sister-in-law Jean Bramble—for your encouragement and for inspiring hero Nick Stathos’s Greek lemon soup.
And in memory of a bay mare named Winter Winds—you gallop on in my heart. Forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
Don’t drop that baby; don’t—
Heart pounding, Officer Nick Stathos slammed the door of his car and sprinted toward the police perimeter, gaze riveted on the panicky young mother at the window of the second-story apartment. She clutched her infant against her baggy navy scrubs and leaned farther out to stare at the scene below: police officers, neighbors in pajamas and robes, patrol cars, a fire truck and ambulance. Lights sliced red-white-blue through the grayness of the late September morning. She craned her head backward, and her eyes, mascara-streaked and desperate, followed the San Francisco PD helicopter hovering above the shabby, converted pink Victorian. Nick hoped that methamphetamines, once Kristi Johnson’s drug of choice, weren’t at the root of today’s drama. She’d been allowed to keep her kids after a previous skirmish, and he knew how rare the mercy of a second chance was. He’d been praying for one in his marriage for the better part of a year.
He jogged forward through a gathering crowd of reporters, flashed his badge at the first in a line of officers, then slowed to a walk. The mother lifted the baby to her shoulder and disappeared from view, then returned to lean over the windowsill again. The baby’s legs dangled limply as she fought with the tattered curtain, and Nick winced at a childhood memory of eggs dropped from a highway overpass. A baby’s skull wouldn’t have a chance against concrete. Dispatch had to be wrong—Kristi wouldn’t neglect her kids. Could never harm them. He knew the girl; he’d patrolled her Mission District neighborhood for nearly five years.
“Stathos, don’t waste your time.” A uniformed officer, a paunchy veteran he recognized from the Tenderloin station, stepped forward, raising his voice over the dull
of chopper blades. He exhaled around a toothpick clenched between his teeth, breath reeking of coffee, cigarettes, and bacon. “SWAT’s on the way.” He glanced up at the window and shook his head. “911 call from a four-year-old, and now Mom—one Kristina Marie Johnson, twenty-two years old—is refusing to let us do a welfare check. Landlord informed us she has a gun in there. Says the boyfriend deals meth.”
“Gun?” Nick growled low in his throat. “Let me guess: same landlord who’s been trying to evict her? Think he could have a reason to lie?” He watched the window. “There’s no gun. The boyfriend’s under a restraining order and long gone. I’ll talk to her.”
“She’s not talking; that’s the trouble.” The officer crossed his arms. “Her kid told dispatch she and the baby were left alone all night. That they were ‘real sick.’ You should hear the tape; it’ll rip your heart out. Said she’d been ‘singing to Jesus’ all night to keep from being scared. Begged for someone to find her mommy. Then Mom shows up a few minutes before we get here and won’t let us in. Child Crisis is on the way. The medics need to check those kids.”
“So I’ll talk to her.” Nick pushed past him.
“You can’t fix this one, Stathos. Give it up.”
Nick looked back over his shoulder. “You don’t know me very well. I don’t give up.” His jaw tensed. “Ever.”
The officer shook his head, eyes skimming over Nick’s jeans and hooded USF sweatshirt. “Think you’d come up with a better way to spend a free Friday, but go ahead and knock yourself out. Colton’s in charge. Fill him in, and—”
They both looked up as Kristi Johnson shouted.
“Officer Nick! Don’t let them take my babies! Tell them I’m clean now. You know I am. Tell them I would never . . .” She shut her eyes and groaned. “This is all a mistake. My girlfriend sleeps over while I work nights at the nursing home. She comes over after her swing shift. Always gets here fifteen minutes after I leave.” Her brows drew together. “They’re only alone for fifteen minutes; that’s all, I swear. I had them tucked into bed, but I guess she didn’t show up last night. I didn’t know!” She shifted the baby in her arms and his legs swung again, floppy as a home-sewn doll’s.