Title: Blood & Water
Author: Linda Armstrong-Miller
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing
Genre: Christian Thriller
Lisa Rivers is a genius with a photographic memory. She is the youngest, highest paid computer designer for the Department of Defense. Her program promises no more POWs and can be used domestically. No more missing children. So, how is it that Lisa is kidnapped? How was her identity discovered? Is she still alive and if so, can she be found before it is too late?
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Sunday morning, Sam Rivers and his son Zach ran from the parking lot to the entry of the emergency room. The run had only been a hundred yards but, with the guilt Sam carried, twenty extra pounds, and no sleep in the past twenty-four hours, he found himself panting and sweating as if he had just run a marathon.
He bent over, placed a hand on each knee for support. As he did, sweat joined in the center of his smooth, black forehead, ran down to a point, and dropped off his nose as he held his head first down then up, trying to catch his breath.
The few gray strands at his temple appeared to outshine the rest of his black hair. If this is what getting old is all about, Sam decided he didn’t want any part of it. He stood and wiped his face. The sweat made his skin look like dark shiny caramel.
Breathing less like an asthmatic old man, Sam led Zach through the door-way. Once inside, they felt lost and overwhelmed. They stopped, looked around for a familiar face then tried not to panic when they didn’t find one.
As Sam looked around, he continued to work on controlling his breathing and on the catch that had seized his right side.
There were two areas where they could seek help, triage and the information desk—both busy. Between the two areas was a door sporting a Staff Only sign. Sam thought about trying the door. Before he could, a young woman wearing baggy blue jeans and a sagging yellow T-shirt—Sam could only guess she was someone wanting to be seen but hadn’t—beat him to it.
The exasperated attendant of the information desk turned to her and asked, “Can’t you read?”
“I was just looking for the bathroom,” the lady with the yellow T-shirt said then sucked her teeth.
“That sign don’t say Bathroom.” He pointed down the hall to a sign that did.
With that, the attendant turned back to the young mother of two standing before the information desk. The lady with the yellow T-shirt turned from the door, flipped the attendant a bird then left through the doors Sam and Zach had just entered.
The waiting room was filled with mothers holding babies and with men and women reading magazines as they waited for one of the too-few rooms to become available. Sam and Zach felt like intruders as they walked through the waiting room trying to find a way back into the patient care area; unwilling to wait. On the way to the bathrooms, they passed a man holding his head down as if snoozing, a lady sitting next to him, trying to quiet her crying baby. He never looked up but she watched them suspiciously as they walked through.
After checking the phone and bathroom areas, Sam and Zach had no choice but to go back and wait for someone at either the triage area or information desk to become available. There were two nurses at triage. One, somewhere in her early twenties, was assisting an elderly white-haired lady—who was not making her job easy. For some reason, the lady kept trying to pull her blouse up and show the nurse something underneath. Each time she did, the woman exposed her undergarment. The nurse noticed Sam, smiled then looked back at the elderly lady.
The other nurse, mid-thirties, maybe older, was with a young mother who was holding a runny-nosed little boy. He squirmed, trying to get down. When he didn’t get what he wanted, he screamed for all to hear, “Let go!”
More focused and quicker than the younger nurse, the older nurse finished with the mother who couldn’t control her child then moved on to yet another mother and child combo. When done, she turned to Sam and Zach.
“Sir, may I help you?” she asked.
Her name was Tish, no last name, just Tish. She was light skinned with sandy brown hair, which was pulled tightly into a ponytail. Tish was heavy-set with a pretty face but, for some reason, she seemed unwilling or unable to smile. She looked tired, although it was only 0800.
Tish looked at Sam through the open glass partition which separated them as he approached. “Yes, I’m Detective Rivers. My daughter was just brought in by helicopter.” Sam who was tired and had pain in both his knees and his legs also found it hard to smile at 0800.
The pain in his knees and legs were the least of the pain he felt, the pain that encompassed his heart threatened to encompass the rest of him. He felt all of the fifty-three years that made up his life catching up with him. At least he was no longer panting. He was thankful for that.
“Sir, let me get the patient representative. She’ll be able to…”
“I don’t want the patient representative.” Sam walked away from Zach, meaning for him to stay where he was, and approached the door. Zach followed anyway. “I want to see my daughter, Lisa Rivers. I know she’s here?”
Sam looked through the open door into the hallway located behind triage. He wondered where Special Agent Frank Millwood was. Sam couldn’t help feeling angry at Frank. He knew they were coming. Where was he? Why hadn’t he made arrangements for them to be taken straight back upon their arrival?
“Sir, at the moment—” Tish started again.
“There was an FBI agent that came in with my daughter, Agent Millwood.
Where is he?” Sam interrupted her again.
“Detective Rivers, Zach, over here.” They turned and saw Millwood standing in the hallway, at the end of the waiting room. The sight of him immediately made Sam forget he had been angry at him. In fact, he was glad to see him. According to Frank’s partner, Sam couldn’t ask for anyone better to protect Lisa. That kind of praise from one lawman about another was gold.
Saturday night, when Frank was called in, before Lisa’s rescue had gone down, Frank had been dressed in a nice coat and tie. Sam marveled that all he had to show for the day’s wear and tear was a little dirt. As far as Sam was concerned, that made him a lucky man.
Frank had thick curly brown hair with even thicker and curlier eyelashes, the kind that women envied. He had perfect white teeth that flashed easily.
Sam found him easy to like and trust—something he rarely found, especially the first time he met someone.
Millwood was a second-generation FBI agent, joining the agency because it was expected of him. If Millwood was feeling the pressure of walking in his father’s footsteps, it didn’t show.
“Thank God,” Sam said leaving Tish and triage.
Millwood waved at Tish, indicating that Sam and Zach were friends, not foes. This didn’t seem to impress Tish one way or the other, but she said nothing more, allowing the two to pass.
As Sam and Zach walked with Millwood, it appeared that he was either already familiar with this emergency room or he’d done a lot of investigating since arriving. He led them down a long hallway that had no patient examination rooms, just closed doors.
They went about halfway down that hall and turned to the right, which placed them in an area that did have examination rooms. They passed the mother with the runny-nosed little boy. She was chasing him in the hallway while other patients watched her. Some were laughing at her and encouraging the little boy to run faster.
Millwood caught the kid and held him for his mother. He then flashed a look at a young, white male of about twenty-two, sporting tattoos of horned serpents all over his right arm. The look said, I dare you to say another word.
When the mother had her son in the room again, Millwood pulled the door shut and the three of them continued.
They made a left onto another hall and Millwood led Sam and Zach to room 104, where all else ceased to exist for Sam. The door to the room was open and no one in the room seemed to realize visitors were standing outside looking in. Sam and Zach watched the flurry of activity centered on a stretcher that sat in the center of the room.
Lisa laid on that stretcher, attached to three IVs—one in each arm, and another one with four tails extending from it, protruded from her neck. Two one-liter bags, which were almost empty, hung from an IV pole; their fluids ran into Lisa’s veins. A small bag with the word Dopamine and the life saving liquid from two units of blood were also running into Lisa’s bruised and battered body.
As if that weren’t enough, she also had wires running from her small chest to a cardiac monitor mounted to the wall. Other wires ran from her chest and back to another monitor that sat on a red cart. Without being told, Sam and Zach knew what all the activity was about. Lisa had gone into cardiac arrest and now she was being resuscitated. She had coded.
Linda Armstrong-Miller has worked in the medical field for over twenty years. In that time she has worked as a counselor, registered nurse in the emergency room, ICU, Recovery Room, and she has worked with children placed in psychiatric hospitals. She understands when a family is in crisis and she has been with them during their time of distress, depression, anxiety and difficulty. She believes in God and uses her belief as well as her experience when writing. Blood and Water is her second book published. Touched is her first book. Currently she is working on a young adult trilogy.