My name is Dr. Lydia Costa. I’m an ER doctor at Mercy Hospital in downtown Atlanta, a large, level one trauma center. In my work, nights are always busy ones for myriad reasons. People are geared up for the weekend – they’re rushing home from work, driving too fast, or maybe they’ve gotten an early start on partying and do something foolish or downright dangerous. Whatever the reason, our ER is typically packed.
But night has an especially dark cloud hanging over it, created by the ten-double-zero that was just announced. It’s police code for officer down, something that’s slipped into our medical staff’s vernacular over the years. Multiple GSWs, two to the chest and one to the abdomen, we’re forewarned over the paramedics’ radio. Intubated at the scene. The wounded officer is incoming, two minutes out.
As the shift’s attending physician, residents and interns are under my charge. But as I’m shouting orders and readying the assembling team, a singular plea passes through my head.
Please don’t let it be him.
My ex-husband is a detective. He works Homicide for the Atlanta PD. And all we know is that the officer being brought in is plainclothes. We don’t yet have an ID. There are hundreds of police in the city, but still, there’s always that chance…
Don’t let it be Ryan.
As the ambulance arrives outside with lightbar flashing, that appeal stays in my head.
No matter what happened between us – the long silences and tears, the grief-filled chasm that couldn’t be bridged after our terrible, tragic loss – I don’t want this for him.
As paramedics roll the gurney inside, my heart is pounding, my throat tight. I begin to breathe again only when I see the wounded officer. It isn’t Ryan lying there, unconscious, shirt ripped open, blood covering his mangled chest. But that relief is fleeting. I knowhim. Nate Weisz. He’s a Narcotics and Vice detective from Ryan’s own precinct.
The lead paramedic gives us Nate’s vitals, the information making it clear he’s hanging by a thread.
“Get him into trauma three,” I call out as our team takes over, whisking him away.
Once inside the suite, a well-timed choreography occurs as lead wires and sensors are attached, IV poles and drips set up. But even as we go to work, I’m aware that Ryan will be here soon. News of the shooting will spread quickly and the ER lobby will become a sea of blue uniforms.
I tamp down my emotion as I try to save Nate’s life.
Leslie Tentler is best known as the author of the Chasing Evil Trilogy (MIDNIGHT CALLER, MIDNIGHT FEAR and EDGE OF MIDNIGHT). She was named as a finalist for Best First Novel at ThrillerFest 2012 for Midnight Caller, and as a finalist in the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense for Edge of Midnight. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Maggie Award of Excellence. Her newest romantic suspense novel is titled FALLEN.
Leslie is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Authors Guild and Novelists, Inc. A native of East Tennessee, she currently resides in Atlanta. Visit Leslie Tentler’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages for more info!