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Authors: Amanda Prowse

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Three-And-A-Half Heartbeats

BOOK: Three-And-A-Half Heartbeats
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About
Three-and-a-half Heartbeats

About Amanda Prowse

Reviews

About No Greater Love

About No Greater Courage

Table of Contents

    
    

www.headofzeus.com

To read this book as the author intended – and for a fuller reading experience – turn on ‘original’ or ‘publisher’s font’ in your text display options.

The UK Sepsis Trust

www.sepsistrust.org

All the proceeds from this novel will go straight to the Sepsis Trust. By buying it, you will help them save lives. Thank you for making a difference.

Sepsis is a common, potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection. Each year in the UK more than 100,000 people are admitted to hospital with sepsis and around 37,000 die as a result. Raising awareness of the condition could save many of those lives.

The UK Sepsis Trust was established to save thousands of lives every year from sepsis. This will be achieved by making sepsis a household word, by empowering people to speak up when worried, and by ensuring health professionals are on the ball.

Play your part. If someone you love is unwell, and develops any one of the following symptoms, don’t delay. Phone for help and say ‘I’m worried this might be sepsis’

Epigraph

A DECADE AGO, I met a man who would come not only to define my career, but to change my life. Jem would never know the extent of his influence, because when I met him, he was in an induced coma. Sepsis had taken a strong thirty-seven-year-old man and reduced him to a wreck of failing organs in a matter of hours. I encounter sepsis daily as an Intensive Care doctor, and who knows why Jem was the one to make me resolve to fight this indiscriminate killer which claims 8 million lives every year? But resolve I did, and ten years later we are saving lives. I’m privileged now to have met hundreds of adults and children affected by sepsis and their families. Because these aren’t just statistics, they are people, they are loved. They’ve stories like mine. Stories like yours. Stories like this one.

Dr Ron Daniels

CEO: UK Sepsis Trust and Global Sepsis Alliance

www.sepsistrust.org

Prologue

Grace Penderford had, for as long as she could remember, yearned for a child. That yearning was a physical ache that sat in the base of her womb and pulsed at the sight or smell of a newborn. It was something she kept secret, knowing that her parents wanted her to do the smart thing and have a career. Her mum’s sensible words of advice were etched on her brain.
‘Get a good job under your belt, Grace, and then go for babies. That way, you’ll always have your work to fall back on. They don’t stay babies forever, you know! And when they’re at school you can get back in the saddle. Security, that’s everything.’
Grace had nodded, knowing this was indeed the smart thing. This knowledge, however, did little to quell her burning desire for a baby. As she strived to climb the career ladder at the agency, her dreams weren’t of flash cars or designer clobber, although these were now within her reach. No, Grace dreamt of arriving at a high point in her career where she was comfortable, where she could look back at all her achievements while holding a tiny bundle wrapped in a white crocheted blanket from which would poke a minute fist, the fingers of which would coil around her finger.

It had taken thirty-six years, three months and six days, but finally that point had arrived. On the day her dream came true, Grace inhaled the gas and air and rubbed her tummy beneath the thin cotton gown as the baby shifted in tiny, getting-comfortable movements. Her hand patted the stretched skin as she cooed, ‘It’s okay. Don’t be scared. You’re nearly here and I’m waiting for you. Don’t be scared, my little one. I’m right here.’

She felt excitement at knowing she was finally going to meet her child, but also a sense of loss that their time spent together in this unique, wonderful way was about to come to an end. It was as if Grace instinctively knew that this was the best possible place to keep her child, tucked away inside her, curled up and safe.

Chloe had looked at her. Every medical textbook and expert on the topic said this was not possible, that the newborn infant would have been far too busy taking her first breath, adjusting to her first time in the light. Grace listened to this sound medical opinion and nodded, but as a mother she knew differently. She knew that her daughter had looked her in the eye as she had been passed over Grace’s head and in that split second had imprinted her mother’s image on her brain. Chloe had seen her and committed her to memory as if communicating with Grace, sending a message.

As she took her baby into her arms, Grace noticed that Chloe had a particular smell, a bit like newly baked bread. Grace breathed in the scent of her, kissing her little face and crying as she studied the most incredible gift she had ever been given. A gift so precious, Grace knew that she would fight until her last heartbeat to keep her safe.

‘Hello, Chloe! Well I never, a little girl!’ It was a joy to say the name aloud. ‘See, I told you it would all be okay. How was your journey? Not too bad? Good. Welcome to the world, little one. I’m Grace, I’m your mum and I love you.’

1

People suffering from sepsis might have slurred speech, just as people do when they have a stroke

Grace slipped out of her suede wedges, tucked them neatly with heels together into the space under her desk next to the wastepaper bin, and climbed into her trainers. As was her habit, she placed her foot on the edge of her desk, letting her skirt ride up and hoping no one was watching as she tied the laces in a double bow. Particularly Jason Jordan, the competitive, backstabbing prat, who she could imagine having a sneaky peek up her skirt. That would be right up his street. She was still smarting at him having hijacked a campaign of hers, claiming it was in the best interest of the client to bring his experience to the project. Grace knew he couldn’t care less about the client and that it was all about giving him a chance to shine. And shine he had. For years the two had competed. Whenever they met in the foyer, she would note the way he eyed her footwear, wondering if he could race her to the top. It was like being at school with two kids jostling for the number one spot in a particular subject. Pathetic. She knew that if she thought about his recent antics she’d get angry all over again, but the fact remained, he was now her boss, heading up the department and reporting directly to the board. She felt her pulse race as once again she pictured him receiving congratulatory high-fives from anyone within reach, the bastard.

BOOK: Three-And-A-Half Heartbeats
13.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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