Book 7 Previews
I hope these four peeks into "Mis-Perceptions" whets your appetite for more!
A young girl entered the room, sporting long burgundy locks that flowed out from under a chartreuse stocking cap. She was followed closely by a boy in a black trench coat, jeans that threatened to slip from his hips, and trainers that slapped, untied, against the floor as he shuffled along. She tossed an oversized bag onto the floor and flopped into the chair.
Martin’s gaze darted between them before he looked down at the patient notes. “Which one of you is … River Kernow?”
“That’d be me, Doc. Need ya ta give me somethin’ ta get rid of my acne,” the girl said. “This stuff the guy in Wadebridge gave me didn’t do nothin’, see,” she said, leaning over and pulling a tube from her bag before slapping it on to the desk.
“Were you following the directions?” the doctor asked, picking it up and examining it.
“Oh, yeah! It didn’t do nothin’. I tried goin’ ta see my mum’s doctor, Granny Botrell, over in Cardinham. Mum swears by her, but that mud she mixed up for me didn’t touch it neither. In fact it jus’ got worse, I think.”
“What do you mean, mud?”
The girl shrugged. “Don’t know what all was in it, Doc. But I followed her directions, too—still nothin’. Can you give me somethin’ ta make it go away?”
Martin wagged a finger. “Get on the couch.”
Paper crackled as River hoisted herself up and slid back. “We’re gettin’ married, see. And I don’t wanna be lookin’ all strawberry-faced on our wedding day.”
“You’re sixteen years old. I’d recommend you postpone a wedding until you’ve passed puberty.” He glanced over at the untidy young man. “And until your boyfriend finds gainful employment,” he grumbled.
“Oh, Ainsley has a job. He plays in a band—Burnin’ Sensations. Have you heard of it, Doc?”
“No.” He pulled his magnifier lamp over and peered at his patient’s face before returning to the file on his desk.
“I see from your notes that I prescribed tetracycline last August. Did you see any improvement in your skin condition?”
Martin dropped back into his chair and slapped his prescription pad down in front of him. “Is there any chance you could be pregnant?” he asked.
“No way, Doc. We been really careful ‘bout that. Ainsley took me over ta Wadebridge ta get me the pill.”
The young man stuffed his hands into his coat pockets.“I’m takin’ good care of ‘er, Doc. Didn’t wanna get ‘er up the duff before she was ready.”
“Rrright.” Martin grimaced as he got back to his feet. “So, there’s no chance you could be pregnant? You’ve taken the pills correctly?” he asked holding out the sheet of paper to the girl.
“Oh, yeah, Doc; haven’t missed any. Well, ‘cept for a month or so back. I had the lurgy see, and I couldn’t get ‘em down.”
The doctor snatched the prescription back from the girl’s hand. “We have a potential problem, then.”
He retrieved a plastic specimen container from his supply cabinet.” Isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects. I’ll need a urine sample to confirm you’re not pregnant.”
Ainsley stepped forward. “Oh, you don’t need ta worry about that; I took ‘em for ‘er while she was bein’ sick,” he said, giving the doctor a gormless smile.
Martin screwed up his face. “Oh, for Heaven’s sake! That’s not how birth control pills work! The party with the ovaries has to take them! What did you think? That you could take them and the medication would be magically transferred to her when you kissed?”
“Course not, Doc. The transferrin’ happens when you … you know,” the young man said, wiggling his eyebrows at the doctor. “I’m not that stupid. That’d be like thinkin’ she could get pregnant from kissin’.”
“Hike your trousers up,” Martin growled, curling his lip at him. He handed the girl the plastic container. “I need to do a pregnancy test. Then, and only then, will I write you a prescription.”
The latch on the door rattled for several seconds before Evan fell into the kitchen, landing, face-first, on to the floor.
“For goodness’ sake! What are you doing?” Martin said, giving the boy a scowl.
The child got to his feet and slammed the door shut behind him, fumbling with the deadbolt. “Lydia Bigelow’s chasin’ me!”
“Chasing you? What on earth for?”
His backpack rose and fell with wheezy breaths as he stood, arms hanging limply at his sides. “She’s tryin’ ta kiss me.”
“I dunno, but she is. So, I had ta run home.”
“Evan, you need to use your inhaler. We’ve talked about this. You need to use it at the first sign of trouble.”
“I did! Just as soon as I saw Lydia Bigelow followin’ me, I used it.”
“Not that kind of trouble—as soon as you start feeling tightness or you start to wheeze!”
“But Lydia does make me all tight.”
“Come here and let me listen to you.”
The boy let his backpack slip from his shoulders, and he walked over to the table.
Martin tugged at the zip on his coat before putting an ear to his chest. He grunted as his brow pulled down. “Where’s Mrs. Ellingham?”
“Oh, she’s at the school. She had ta talk to some guy. She said ta tell you she’s gonna be late, but she’s gonna make you a nice juicy steak for dinner—for makin’ up for it.”
“Why would she make me steak? I don’t like st—”
Martin set James on the floor and yelled down the hall. “Poppy! I need you—now!”
“Want me ta get her?” the seven-year-old asked as he pulled his trainers from his feet.
“Yes. She’s in my consulting room.”
Evan collided with the childminder’s legs as she came through the exam room doorway. “Dr. Ellig-am needs ya in the kitchen.”
Poppy hurried through under the stairs. “What is it, Dr. Ellingham?”
“I need you to call PC Penhale. Tell him to meet me at the school. I think Louisa may need help with a parent—Gene Bollard.”
Martin glanced at his watch, tossed his newspaper on to the table, and got up to refill his coffee cup. “I have patients to prepare for,” he mumbled before heading for the hall.
“Ahem! Aren’t you forgetting something?” Louisa said.
“A have a good day would be nice. Maybe even … a kiss goodbye?”
He retraced his steps and put an arm around her before relinquishing the requested gesture of affection. “Have a good day. And be cautious—about Bollard.”
“I will. You have a good day, too.”
He started for the hall again before his young charge’s voice brought him to a stop.
“Can I have a kiss, too, Dr. Ellig-am?” the boy asked softly.
Martin glanced over at his wife, who stood with a vaguely amused smile on her face, and a pink flush spread up his neck. He grunted before leaning down to kiss the boy on the cheek. “Have a good day.”
Evan turned, wrapping his arms around his neck before returning the gesture. “You have a good day, too, Dr. Ellig-am.”
Martin straightened, clearing his throat. “Yes.”
He took a few steps forward before his son’s bubbly toddler tone beckoned him. “Da-ee! Wan mo!”
He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck before making his way to the high chair and leaning down. The child stretched out, placing a decidedly juicy and crumb-laden kiss on his father’s lips.
Screwing up his face, Martin pulled his handkerchief from his back pocket, dabbing at his mouth. “Have a good day, James.” Then he stood up and turned to his wife. “Now, if I’m finished here, I have work that needs to be done.”
“Thank you, Martin,” Louisa said softly.
“Mm, you’re welcome.” He hurried from the kitchen and down the hall moments before a sharp thud was heard, followed by a string of muffled expletives and the slamming of the consulting room door.
Louisa cringed. “Martin!”
Evan turned a worried face to her. “I think Dr. Ellig-am liked his kisses, but I don’t think he’s very happy about the party, Mrs. Ellig-am.”
She set her cup on the table and kissed the boy on the head. “He just needs a little time to get used to the idea. And you’re right, I think he liked his kisses, too. Now hurry up there. As soon as Poppy gets here, we need to get to school.”
Tense voices grew louder over the din of the storm before five men pushed into the relative warmth of the station.
“Glad you could get yerself down ‘ere, Doc,” Neal Clemmons said as he helped a man Martin recognised, but couldn’t name, on to a stool. The senior helmsman shook his head. “These fellas are bloody cold. Peder ‘ere took a good knock to ‘is napper when the boat smacked into the harbour wall.”
“What about the leg injury?”
Neal glanced over at Tate. “Sorry boss, it’s yer mate, Dave Foley. Got wrapped up in a coil line. Richards and Anderson stayed back there, but the line’s caught up on somethin’ under the boat and they haven’t been able ta work ‘im free. When we do get the line ta loosen a bit he starts haemorrhaging. It doesn’t look good.”
The operations manager turned an ashen face away for a moment before collecting himself. “Okay, leave the doc to take care of these three. Get back out and do your jobs.”
“Wait a minute,” Martin said. “The leg injury case—in his hypothermic state, he’s not likely to survive massive blood loss. Can you get a tourniquet above the injury, then cut him free?”
“It’s not that easy, Doc. We’re tryin’, but we’re workin’ in some big waves out there. Hard ta tell which end’s up sometimes. That line’s got a good hold on ‘im … a few inches below his knee.”
The doctor stared absently at the floor for a moment. “It’s likely the tibial artery has been lacerated.”
“You’d know better than I would ‘bout that. If we do get ‘im out, I don’t know if we can slow the bleedin’ enough ta keep ‘im from bleedin’ out afore we can get ‘im in ‘ere. His leg’s been pretty chewed up.”
“I understand. But if you could cut him loose and get him into your boat, maybe I could get an artery clip in place, and we could get him to shore.”
“I’d stand a better chance of doin’ a successful heart bypass than you would of gettin’ out to that boat and back alive, Doc. Sorry ta be so blunt, but in yer condition, there’s no way I’m takin’ you out there with us.”
“I’ll go, Martin.” Jeremy wrapped a blanket around Peder Teague’s shoulders and pulled his still-soggy mac from the hook on the wall.
“No, no, no, no, no!”
“I think I could do it … if you talk me through it.”
“I know you could do it. I just can’t let you take that risk.”
“Martin … I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try. You, of all people, must understand that.” The aide gave him a tentative nod, willing him to agree.
Air hissed from the doctor’s nose. “Bugger,” he muttered. “All right, I’ll get you what you’ll need—show you what to do.”