Black Heart Series - Book cover

Black Heart Series

Faye Russell

Chapter 1

Book 1: Changing Beats


“Cortney, you’re needed in room 103 to bandage a hand,” Ann said as I attempted to walk past the receiving desk.

I sighed. No one ever claimed being a nurse was easy, but I did it to help people. I felt useful at the hospital, unfortunately just too useful at the moment.

On days like today, the only thing that kept me moving was knowing that this career was my choice and mine alone. The fact that it pissed off my mother was an added bonus.

Lord knew that my rich, overly extravagant family didn’t think my career was worth having, but I knew better.

I disagreed with every one of them. My job could be rewarding. When I was able to make a difference in someone’s life, it made my day that much brighter.

Sometimes that difference was life and death for a person. Although today was not one of those ‘rewarding’ days—not at all. Today was miserable.

My shift was supposed to have ended over three hours ago. I was now on my fourteenth straight hour of work with no lunch or dinner break. My day was beyond over.

If I got my day off tomorrow, I would be happy just to sleep the day away.

Food… There was an idea, but no, that would require a trip to the market. Something I did not want to do on my only day off in two weeks.

For a Wednesday evening, the emergency room was insane.

We had a gunshot wound in room 112 that was just sent down to the OR, we had a stab wound victim in room 119, and we just finished sending two more to the OR from a serious car crash. I was exhausted.

“Can Cheryl take 103? I was about to change out.”

“No can do, sugar.” Ann smiled sadly at me. “We still need you. At least until nine when Geri and Tonya come in.”

Nine?! That was another three hours away. I was already exhausted. I sighed heavily.

Her desk was multitiered, for receiving and giving check-in information, and me being five feet seven, it was the perfect spot for me to rest my head on my arms.

Just one five-minute rest was all I needed. I could fall asleep just standing here.

“It’s only temporary, hun,” she reassured me, “just until we fill those slots. Think of all that overtime cash you’re getting.”

“With no time to spend it.” I smiled dryly. “Yeah. It’s great. Tell me they’re at least looking.” I pouted.

“I think they hired two girls on Monday,” she said. “Saw them walk through. Rumor has it they’re looking for two more, but no one wants to work out here, it’s too far from the movie stars and the wealthy.”

Three of the girls had gotten themselves fired. No one was certain of the circumstances, but it was suspected to have something to do with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In California, patient privacy was a huge deal. We saw movie stars, musicians, artists, and plain old rich people, despite what people thought about our neck of the woods.

Experience had taught me that if someone was dying, or seriously injured, they weren’t going to say, “Take me to the hospital in Beverly Hills.” No, they’d want the closest hospital to them that was available.

“So why can’t Cheryl take this room?” I asked.

“Because Cheryl is tending to and bandaging her friend in room 108, before they send him for a CT scan. Apparently, 103 kicked 108′s scrawny ass.”

She giggled, seeming a little too excited about this scenario. “He was curled in a ball on the gurney when they brought him in.”

“Are the police involved?” I huffed, rubbing my temple. That would mean I would need to take heavily detailed notes, making my night even longer.

“Nope.” She giggled again. “Just one really pissed off band manager,” she told me with a smile.

“He’s in room 108 now, yelling at the sickly skinny one. Just be thankful you aren’t Cheryl right now.”

“Do I dare ask?” I cocked an eyebrow at her inquiringly but couldn’t hold my smile back. Ann was infectious with her bubbly blonde attitude.

We saw a lot of cases that involved “managers,” and the story was almost always an interesting one.

“Some kind of heavy metal band.” She shrugged, still laughing as she whispered, “Guess the lead singer tried to break the drummer’s hand with his face.”

“Are you kidding me?! A heavy metal band?!” We were trying to keep quiet, not to be overheard, but this new information had me laughing.

“Long hair?! Tell me they have long hair!” I brightened.

“You know it.” She snorted.

I stomped my feet, hopping up and down enthusiastically. Okay, maybe this would be a better evening than I thought. I was going to clean up some metalhead and listen to his woe-is-me story.

“Oooh! Maybe they couldn’t decide who had the better hair!” I joked.

“Oh, wait until you see them. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was over a flat iron.” She snickered. “Let me know if it was the drugs, the women, or just the rock and roll that did it, sweets. I’m dying to know!”

“I’ll keep you posted.” I chuckled and went to my computer to find out exactly what I was dealing with.

Apparently, I had one Jason Thomas Chandler in room 103. Age twenty-seven. Male. He had gotten into an altercation with fellow band member Declan Asher McGhee, age twenty-six.

Jason had already received X-rays and had fractured metacarpal three on his right hand.

His other injuries were a cut on his right cheekbone that needed no stitches and a busted lip that had just received four sutures from Dr. Adrian Hamilton.

Ah, Dr. Hamilton loves to do her own notes. Thank you, Dr. Hamilton, for being my doctor on call with this one.

Her notes about the injuries and X-rays on Mr. Chandler were stated clearly, as well as her synopsis of the situation.

Pt reports that he fell, hitting his face on his drum set when one Asher [Declan McGhee] ‘sucker-punched’ him. Pt stated there is ‘no way’ that Mr. McGhee could have gotten more than one punch in.

Pt reports that he then retaliated by ‘beating his (Mr. McGhee’s) ass.’ Pt is a drummer and is concerned that he will not be able to play his instrument in the future.

Pt does not have any serious injuries, other than metacarpal three on his right hand, that should interfere with his work. Pt was informed that he should be reasonably healed in approximately six weeks.

The conclusion on matter (stated by both men) is that Mr. Declan McGhee physically accosted Jason Chandler and things escalated from there, resulting in both men’s injuries.

The size difference between the men resulted in more injury to one party vs the other.

I was not a fan of heavy metal, and I knew being a musician normally didn’t make someone enough cash to save in case of emergencies or if they were out of work.

“Well, hope it was worth it, buddy.” I rolled my eyes and snickered. “You’ll be living off ramen noodles for the next few months while you heal.”

I grabbed what I needed out of the storage closet and went into room 103 with a new, entertained enthusiasm.

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