What a Woman Wants

By: Brenda Jackson
Part


one


Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

—PROVERBS 13:12





Prologue


Adrianna Ross-Fuller walked out of the Hilton Head trauma center’s ER and toward the waiting room. She paused a moment in the corridor and took a deep breath. Although their patient hadn’t survived, she’d thanked her trauma team for doing an outstanding job. It wasn’t their fault the woman stopped fighting for life long before she’d been wheeled through the doors to ER. A shudder ran through Adrianna. Why would that poor woman have wanted to die? Why would anyone?

“Dr. Ross-Fuller?”

She recognized the police officer immediately. They had met a few months ago when he rushed into ER on the tails of the EMT crew, who brought in a two-year-old child. The toddler had nearly drowned in his neighbor’s pool and was in shock. That day, hours later, Adrianna walked out into the waiting room smiling, ready to deliver good news: the little boy would recover. Today the news wouldn’t be so positive.

She shook her head sadly at the inquiry in his voice. “She didn’t make it, and it was apparent she didn’t want to live.”

Lt. Neil Upshaw nodded. “That doesn’t surprise me, considering this was an attempted suicide.” The fifty-something-year-old man then shook his bald head and hunched his shoulders in absolute desolation.

“No longer an attempt, Lieutenant. She succeeded. Do you have any idea why?” The words came out in a sigh.

“I’m sure the letters she left behind will explain all.”

Adrianna lifted a brow. “Letters?”

“Yes, four of them. One addressed to no one in particular and three others to women she knew. Those three were sealed. The first one wasn’t, and all it said was, ‘I don’t want to live any longer.’“

She shivered again. How could a person get so hopeless that they imagined death was far better than living? She couldn’t imagine what would make an attractive thirty-four-year-old woman want to end her life by overdosing on a prescribed medication. Adrianna thought of all the trials she had endured in her thirty-five years as an Amerasian. Even when she’d felt her lowest, she had never thought of taking her own life.

“Has her family been notified?” she asked. If he was anything like her, the officer probably disliked that part of his job most.

“Yes, and they’re on their way from Charleston. She has an older sister, a brother, and an elderly mother.”

Adrianna nodded as she checked her watch. It was almost two in the afternoon. In a few hours she would be catching a plane for Virginia. Tomorrow night her grandparents were throwing a party in her honor to mark the first anniversary of the day she had entered their lives. How unfair that even while the people she most cared about had every reason to celebrate, there was a family on its way to Hilton Head Island with reason to mourn.

Her heart surged with compassion, and then a cold feeling of loss filled her chest. Times like these, she questioned her decision to become an emergency room trauma doctor. But that reservation was short-lived. As she bade good-bye to the lieutenant and made her way toward the elevator, she knew if she had it to do all over again, she would choose the same profession.

She shook her head, still thinking of the woman whose life had ended prematurely that day. What a terrible waste.





1


“Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.”

Faith Gilmore watched as the coffin was lowered into the dark earth. A part of her still could not believe what she was seeing. She glanced over at the two other women standing beside her. Monique Hardings and Shannon Carmichael were in the same daze of disbelief as she was. It was like they were all stuck in some sort of weird dream.

Tomorrow they would wake up from it, and Cely would take them all to task when they told her about their strange nightmare. Me commit suicide? No way. There isn’t that much depression in the world. I am the most levelheaded, laid-back, not-a-care-in-the-world person you know. There’s no way I would ever get in a funk so blue that it would trigger me to take my own life.

Yet she had done exactly that, and this was no dream.

“This ends the memorial service for Cecilia Graham,” the minister was saying. “You may all return to your cars.”

Faith blinked. Return to their cars and do what? Mourn some more? Leave? Ask themselves for the thousandth time how could this have happened? Why this happened? Especially to Cely, who had always been the strongest of the four of them.

She felt someone touch her hand, glanced up to see Monique and Shannon standing right in front of her. Faith looked at them mutely, noting that their eyes were as red as hers, their cheeks just as tear-streaked.

“It’s time to go,” Monique said softly, and Faith could hear her fighting to hold back more tears.

“Yes,” Shannon chimed in, her voice just as tight. “I need to get away from this place. Quick. I need a thick slice of pizza, a strong drink, and to get laid. Hell, I need something, anything, to make me forget everything I’ve gone through today. This week.”

Faith almost rolled her eyes. Shannon had always been the one they all thought had the weakest disposition. Cely had always worried about how Shannon went about dealing with stress. “How about if we go back to my hotel room, drink some wine, and chill, I’m really not in the mood to go to the repast,” Faith suggested.

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