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This is the second in the AHM series after "The Writer" which was released last month.
A Hint of Murder: The Doctor
Russell Morgan had it all; good looks, the perfect woman and a rewarding career as a well-respected physician. When the doctor’s patients start turning up dead, his world comes crashing down. Second in the "A Hint of Murder" series, this short story brings Detective John Lewis back in action to track down the killer.
A Sneak Peek:
Simon Bellville peered out of the window to the vibrant life beyond his reach. He was tired of being tired. The attempts to brighten his stay in the stark white room with flowers, books and pictures did not generate even the slimmest of smiles. At sixty-eight, it had been ten years since he was a successful executive for a major financial company. But, what good would all that money and success do for him now?
After a few moments, Simon began to drift off. Halfway between awake and asleep he heard the door open. At first he didn’t even bother to look over. What was the point? Most of the time, the nurses just did their business as if he wasn’t even there. He had his favorites though, and some were expert at making him feel at ease. When seconds turned to minutes, he wondered if there was still someone in the room.
With a strange mix of apprehension and concession, Simon turned toward the door. At first he only saw the pillow. Then, as it was lowered, he read the expression on the person’s face. His fear disappeared as quickly as it came, and he gazed up at the ceiling. As the pillow drew closer to his face Simon finally produced a smile.
Huddled close and chatting in low tones, the two young ladies didn’t seem to notice Dr. Russell Morgan arrive behind them at the nurses’ station. He didn’t need to eavesdrop to know what they were saying. He cleared his throat. Their surprised and flushed faces confirmed his suspicions.
Enjoying the ego boost, he flashed them a sparkling smile. “Good afternoon, ladies.”
Embarrassed, Jenny grabbed a stack of files and randomly flipped through them. Her wavy brown hair fell across her face, but she made no attempt to move it. Though she agreed with most of the female staff that the good doctor was handsome and charming, her desire to be a nurse drove her actions. “Good afternoon, Dr. Morgan. We were, uh, just getting ready for the next shift.”
Of course, Nicole didn’t make an effort to cover. “Hey, Dr. Morgan. How are you?”
“Good. Working hard.” A true statement when you looked at his reputation—though he never had an air of being exhausted or overworked. That’s probably why his patients loved him—that and his drop-dead good looks. At 6’2 he towered over most of the staff. His jet black hair was short and framed his boyish features to perfection. He reached over the counter and snagged a pen. “I can see you two are busy,” he said with a wry smile, “but before you go, could one of you look in on Mr. Bellville? He’s been pretty down. A visit from one of you lovely ladies would definitely cheer him up.”
“Don’t bother,” Tess announced walking up.
The head nurse had a tendency to suck the cheer from the room, but this was different. Dr. Morgan sensed it was something more than just giving the interns a hard time. “What’s wrong, Tess?” he asked.
“Simon Bellville is dead,” she said.
“What?” His glowing smile faded. “Are you sure?”
Placing a hand on one of her slightly oversized hips, Tess raised a brow and shot a condescending glare his way.
“That poor old man,” Nicole said, trying to sound convincing. Her bleached blonde ponytail swayed as she shook her head. Everyone knew she wasn’t exactly Florence Nightingale, but she still kept up appearances on occasion.
With a controlled sense of urgency, the three shadowed Tess down the hall and into Mr. Bellville’s room. Tess stood in the doorway and allowed the others to go forward to the patient’s bed. Taking hold of his wrist, Dr. Morgan checked for a pulse while the interns looked on. His chin dropped down and gave everyone the confirmation they anticipated. Losing a patient was always difficult, but this time the doctor was losing more than just a patient. He had grown fond of Simon and in fact was even closer to his daughter, Lori. “Ladies, please do me a favor and wait outside.”
“Of course, Doctor,” Jenny said for both of them. Jenny grabbed hold of her petite co-worker and headed for the door. As the two walked out, Dr. Morgan displayed his concern to Tess with a nervous gaze.
“I know what you’re going to say,” she said with a slight southern accent. It usually showed up when her emotions were high or when she spoke about her hometown of Atlanta. She strolled up to the bed and pointed with a quick head jerk. “That pillow was just how I found it.”
Lost in thought, Dr. Morgan stared at Simon’s half-covered face. His gaze swept across the bed to the side table where only a pool of water was left. The rest of the items were strewn about the floor like the aftermath of an earthquake.
“Looks like someone ripped his IV right out of his arm too,” Tess said. “Doctor, don’t you think we ought to call the police?”
The words entered his brain but failed to register. He was thinking of Lori and how he would deliver the devastating news about her father.
“Doctor,” Tess said again with greater force. After a moment, she added, “If you’re worried about hospital image—”
“No!” he finally snapped. “Tess you’re right. Please call the police. And obviously, we’ll have to contact his family. I’ll do that.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to, Dr. Morgan?”
“No. Thank you, Tess. I’ll take care of it.”
An hour later, the police were still questioning hospital staff. Dr. Morgan spoke to them first so he could continue to try to reach Lori. He recalled that first encounter when she came in after Simon collapsed at a restaurant. Neither acted on the obvious attraction between the two, but it became increasingly difficult over the eighteen months that Simon was in and out of the hospital. As their friendship grew, so did the rumors about their relationship. That put an even greater strain on her already damaged marriage.
“Any word?” Tess asked walking into the office.
“Not yet. Did you speak to the police?” asked Dr. Morgan.
“Yeah. They’re talking to Jenny right now.
“What did you tell them?”
“The truth.” Tess tucked her reddish-brown hair behind her ear. “I said that I went in to check on Mr. Bellville since I couldn’t find Jenny or Nicole.”
“They’re not so bad, Tess.”
“Yeah…for you. I’m the one that has to deal with the over-achiever and the slacker.”
“What’s wrong with over-achieving?” Dr. Morgan said, as he set his phone down. “Being a nurse is very important to Jenny.”
“I know. She’s only told me like a hundred times. Too bad that initiative doesn’t rub off on Nicole. I don’t even know why she’s here with all that money her family has.”
“That’s just it. She doesn’t have any. Her parents want her to be here, and they’ll cut her off if she doesn’t get through this internship. And, I don’t have to remind you how much money they’ve donated to this hospital, Tess.”
“Yeah, yeah. So, what happens next…with the police I mean?”
Dr. Morgan had grown accustomed to Tess’s candor. And though he considered her one of the best nurses he had ever worked with, at times she was like an annoying big sister. “Well, the police will get confirmation on the cause of death. Then…I’m not sure. I guess they’ll have to question his family too. As if Lori hasn’t been through enough lately.”
“So her divorce is final now?”
Feigning ignorance, Dr. Morgan gave a weak shrug. Then he averted the subject further by saying, “I just don’t know how she’s going to handle this.”
“Handle what?” The two looked over to see Lori standing in the doorway.
Amazon US http://ow.ly/6DyWF
Amazon UK http://ow.ly/6DyXV
Amazon US http://ow.ly/6DyWF
Amazon UK http://ow.ly/6DyXV