Deadly Little Secrets (free chapter)

4 min readMay 5, 2024


GIVEAWAY on KDP ends tonight:

1985: By chapter four, readers know that residents of this insular coastal California enclave are no longer insulated from issues impacting the country; issues beginning to cause a divide among them. In the midst of the chaos caused at the school board meeting, the seventeen year old son of the school board presidevt is admitted to the community’s hospital suffering life threatening injuries sustained after he left that meeting and his car careened over a canyon road. #medicalsuspense

Chapter Four

Peggy Slaughtery spotted me running through the E.R. doors. Her finger pointed up. “4 South, Suite D, “ she yelled.

I sprinted past her to the elevators talking as I ran. “Bad, Peg?” I turned the corner and looked back in time to see her make the sign of the cross. Jesus Christ.

The doors opened. I got on and automatically reached for my key that dangled on the keyring Barney had. The elevators at Corona Cove Community act as an ambulance once the control board is jimmied with a skinny brass key I kept even though I no longer worked there. Without it, I endured one stop before reaching the fourth floor.

The doors opened and there stood Sarah hovering around shock, her face the color of putty. I put my arms around her. Sarah’s small-boned like Julia, Ma calls her ‘next to nothing’ which is exactly how she felt in my arms. I wiped wetness from her face. Her brown eyes, drenched in tears, pleaded for good news.

“Any word, Honey?” I asked and glanced over at the double doors marked ‘No Admittance.’ She shook her head and began to weep louder. I wanted to go through those doors but she was too upset. I stayed there talking softly, assuring her that Dr. Spiegel was the very best there was, and that Mark was strong, strong enough to get through this. All the while my eyes darted around the waiting area, looking for someone, anyone, to take my place.

Finally, the O.R. doors swung open, and Maddie Aquinas walked through. “Maddie, “I yelled. She came right over. The wall clock read 11:00. Her shift was over soon but she wouldn’t be going home just yet. “Sarah, this is Maddie who I’m going to leave you with so I can go back there and get an update on Mark.”

Sarah looked at me and blinked hard, as if trying to squeeze moisture out of her eyes. “And I need you to be okay so I can leave. Maddie runs the recovery room and she’s very cool when she’s not bossing her nurses around…” Sarah smiled. Barely.

Maddie swapped places with me, I whispered “thanks” and disappeared through the double doors, stopping only long enough to do the drill. Proper attire is required. I threw on an extra-large pair of scrubs over my clothes, booty-ed my shoes, grabbed a mask, stuffed my hair into a cap and hit the wall button. When the second set of doors swung open, I sprinted through to the nurse’s station, the mask dangling like a bib around my neck.

A nurse I didn’t recognize recognized me. “Any word from Dr. Brooks?” she asked.

“No, you haven’t heard?” She shook her head. I read her name tag. “Beth, call her exchange and tell them to keep paging, would you? Then call her home, see what her mother says…”


The voice came from behind me. I spun toward it. Georgia Sweetwater bounded down the corridor. With legs up to her neck, Georgia didn’t have to run to cover ground. Seeing her didn’t thrill me. Georgia Sweetwater was the nursing supervisor of Corona Cove Community’s three surgical units. Had been forever. She never worked evenings unless there was trouble.

“Sweet Jesus, Georgia, how bad is he?”

She stopped dead in her tracks and delivered that look. Later she denied it, but at that moment her face wore the same expression we give family members of dying patients, just for a second and then it was gone, replaced by her all-business demeanor. Except by then, my legs had gone rubbery. I leaned hard into the counter.

“Have you found Brooks?” She bellowed at us.

“No, but we’re covering all bases…” Beth offered from behind the desk.

Georgia looked at me hard. Burnt almond-colored skin that made her a standout at Corona Cove Community Hospital had turned muddy gray with fatigue framing her eyes. “He could use her in there, Loretta,” she said then disappeared into the supply room, barking orders over her shoulder.

“Find blood,” she yelled to Beth. “Spiegel wants four liters on stand-by.” Her head bobbed out from the doorway. “No blood banks. If we don’t have it, call Newport General.”

Giveaway: Click here to continue reading Chapter Four of Deadly Little Secrets




Writer/Author/WorkshopLeader @ SoCa.WritersConf. & SantaBarbaraWritersConf, I&T: @writersmama , Psych RN,MSN