Fated Love

By: Radclyffe

Chapter One



Q uinn Maguire stopped just inside the sliding double glass doors of the emergency room. It was only the second time she’d been there, but it already felt like home. Hospitals everywhere were very much the same—the same drab tiled floors, the same muted color schemes in bland institutional shades, the same stark undercurrent of loss and despair, perceptible beneath the thin veneer of hospitality and welcome. With a brief glance, she swept the admissions area to her left, noting the solitary clerk with her head bent over a computer screen and two patients, both of whom looked to be half asleep, waiting in the unadorned area beyond. A television, perched high in one corner with the volume turned down low, was tuned to CNN.

Hitching up her leather backpack and mentally squaring her shoulders, Quinn walked down a corridor that was just wide enough for two stretchers to pass. She nodded to a lone man in khaki work clothes who was buffing the floor with an electric polisher and turned into the nurses’ station that occupied the center of the emergency room proper. Despite the fact that PMC, the Philadelphia Medical College, was one of five major university hospitals in the metropolitan area and the only one in the Germantown-Mount Airy section, the emergency room had an abandoned air at just after six on that Monday morning.

The few hours on the cusp between the end of the weekend and the beginning of the workweek tended to be the quietest time of all in the ER. The night nurses were finishing their paperwork and getting ready for the change of shift, the residents were running down lab and x-ray results before turning over their patients to the incoming teams, and the attending physicians were catching a couple hours’ sleep in their on-call rooms.

Quinn scanned the area to orient herself in the unfamiliar space. The patient cubicles were arranged in a U-formation around three sides of the central workstation, a large open area enclosed by waist-high counters. Inside were computers, fax machines, racks of patient charts, drawers containing all manner of forms, and nooks for the staff to complete paperwork. At the moment, the curtains were closed on several of the adjacent examining rooms, suggesting that there were patients inside awaiting final treatment determinations, and the faint beep of an EKG monitor marked time somewhere in the background. A lone resident-—or possibly an older-than-average medical student—sat behind the counter making notes in a chart.

Quinn approached and leaned her hip against the edge of the long narrow countertop. The woman looked up, a question in her eyes.

“Yes?”

For just an instant, Quinn hesitated. The nearly ubiquitous emergency room uniform of scrub shirt and pants tended to reduce everyone to gender-neutrality, but not this woman. Nothing could diminish her singular presence. Her almost carelessly layered collar-length hair, a lustrous mixture of golds and browns and a whisper of red, framed a face remarkable for sun-kissed skin, deep brown eyes, and perfectly balanced features. Despite the attractive picture of delicately arched brows, finely etched cheekbones, and full, ripe lips, it was the sharp intelligence in the inquisitive gaze that captured Quinn’s attention and drew her in.

“Can I help you?” Honor Blake asked again, her eyes quickly scanning the woman’s open-collared pale blue cotton shirt and jeans as she attempted to place her. Not a patient—she would have remembered. Certainly the chiseled features, blazing blue eyes, and jet-black hair formed a visage not easily forgotten, but Honor drew a blank. She suddenly found herself being boldly appraised, and that not only surprised but annoyed her. “I’m sorry. This is a restri—”

“I’m Quinn Maguire,” Quinn said quickly, extending her hand with a grin. “A new ER attending. Maybe you can show me the locker—”

Before she could finish her sentence, a shout from the hall caught the attention of both women. They turned as two EMTs careened into the ER pushing a gurney.

“GSW to the chest, pressure’s 40 palp,” the first EMT yelled.

Rising quickly, Honor pointed. “Put him in trauma one.”

“Where’s your attending?” Quinn demanded sharply as they sprinted behind the stretcher.

“He just lost his pulse,” the second EMT announced breathlessly, “Shit. He’s flatline.”

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