Promises of Mercy

By: Vella Day

Stone stood, went over to the kitchen and retrieved a beer from the fridge. “I bet that’s driving you crazy.” Cade worked harder than anyone Stone knew—too hard in fact—though if Stone’s father had been a criminal like Cade’s, he might want to work extra hard to atone for his wrongdoings, too.

Cade stopped pacing and dropped onto the living room sofa. “I’ve spoken with every one of the nurses and doctors who cared for Emma as well as the family members, but I can’t point a finger at any of them.”

Stone sat back down across from him. “Weren’t you convinced Emma’s nurse was involved? What was her name?” Cade handled a lot of cases, and Stone couldn’t keep up with who was who.

“That’s the one I’m talking about. Her name’s Amber Delacroix.”

His heart pinched. “Delacroix?”

Cade’s hand stilled. “You know her?”

“No, but I brought her brother in today.” The emergency room doctor had told him the young man was Amber’s younger brother and that she was a nurse at the hospital.

Stone blew out a long breath. At least when he’d delivered the kid to the ER, the young man had been alive. Too many motorcycle accident victims died before they got help.

“How is he?”

“Bad.” He described the gruesome scene when he’d arrived. “You know how much I never like to resort to a neuromuscular blocker, but the victim was thrashing about so much, if I hadn’t stopped him from moving, no telling what further damage he might have caused. From the angle of his head, his spinal cord had already been compromised.”

“That sucks.”

“Tell me about it. You think after six years of seeing this shit, I’d become immune.”

Cade chugged half his beer. “Did you speak with the sister?”

Stone often tried to follow up with the family members. “Not yet, but I will after I visit the boy. There was something special about the way the kid looked at me that makes me want to be sure he’s okay.” It was hard enough to find the time to visit the injured let alone the relatives, but with Amber, he considered it a professional courtesy. Besides, when Cade first mentioned her, his eyes had lit up then extinguished quickly as if he didn’t want to consider her a suspect in the other case.

“Let me know your impression of her. Amber stated that Emma suffered a lot and that she was terminal. When I interviewed Amber a month ago, I admit she seemed compassionate, and not really the type to be an angel of mercy, but she had the motive and opportunity.” He hunched over. “I just need evidence.”

“I’ll speak with Amber because that’s what I do, not because you want me to help with your case. If I think there’s something screwy or unscrupulous about her, I’ll let you know.”

Cade nodded. “Thanks.” He leaned back in his chair and stared ahead. “This case is kicking my butt.”

“It’s okay not to be perfect.” Cade had lost weight in the past month and his cheeks were a bit sunken. Stone suspected it was this case in particular. “You don’t have to solve all your cases. No one does.”

His roommate took another hit from his bottle, but he set it right down. He must have forgotten it was empty. The slightest hint of a smile appeared. “You think I’m perfect?”

His change in attitude cheered Stone up. The fun-loving side of Cade had returned, if only briefly. “In your mind, buddy.”

“What do you say we head to Banner’s Bar and tie one on?”

Stone’s shift started at 4:00 a.m., and he needed to be sharp. “I’ll take a rain check.”

Cade nodded as if he’d expected Stone to turn him down. “You got it.”

Stone finished his beer, dumped the bottle in the trash, and headed to his room to shower. His mind raced to that poor broken boy and his sister. Not that he believed in stereotyping, but he imagined that as an oncology nurse, Amber Delacroix would be a true caregiver who would give hell to any doctor who didn’t do the best for her patient.

Once he undressed, he stepped into the shower and let the warm water cascade over his body. Too bad no amount of heat or scrubbing could erase the look on the boy’s face from his memory. The least he could do was try to help Amber, small though his effort may be. After he finished his shift tomorrow, he’d stop by the hospital to see Chris, then find the sister.