Thirteen West

Thirteen West by Jane Toombs Read Free Book Online

Book: Thirteen West by Jane Toombs Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jane Toombs
    She slanted her eyes at him. "There's coffee in the lounge, if you'd like to make your visit temporarily social." He coped with a strong urge to run his hand along the smooth warm skin of her arm, settling for touching her lightly on the shoulder. Maybe he'd delay rounds on Thirteen West until afternoon every day.
    Sally was seated in the lounge and looked uncertainly from Alma to Dr. Jacobs when they came in.
    "Did you get the old ladies set up for their gossip session?" Alma asked her.
    "All except the Duchess. You know how she is—a mind of her own. She claimed they were cackling geese and she couldn't be bothered. Why is she here? I read her chart and it said she's an alcoholic with chronic brain syndrome, but she seems so lucid."
    "We're going to review her at patient conference," Alma told her.
    "One good thing happening on Thirteen West," Dr. Jacobs said, "is this renewed attention to chronics. They stand out here, not mingled in with too many others like themselves."
    Alma grimaced. "I'm not sure that's good for Mousie. The extra attention he's getting seems to make him more and more creative about being resistive. I doubt he was as much of a problem on the ward with the other old men."
    "About the Duchess," Sally said. "She insisted I call her that because she said she rather likes being nobility. When I asked her who the president was, she got it right— Richard Nixon. She even remembered that he used to be governor of California ."
    "Wait till she confides in you about how her evil nephew put her away to keep in control of her money," Alma advised. "Wait till she tells you about her shining knight who'll come to rescue her and make her his bride when he finds out where she's incarcerated." She shrugged. "I'm not saying there couldn't be a thread of truth buried in there somewhere, but that's some story."
    "Miss Flowers says she's been here five years, three months and twelve days," Sally said. "I looked it up and she's only three days off. Isn't that remarkable?"
    "If you're really concerned about her, Sally, why don't you use her for that case study you're supposed to turn in to your instructor? You can ask medical records for her old chart and be prepared to present her at the conference this Friday, which would benefit us as well."
    "Me present her?" Sally asked, obviously taken aback.
    "I don't know if—"
    "Nothing like doing things to gain confidence," Alma told her. "Why don't you start right now?" She glanced at her watch. "I'll relieve you of patient assignment this evening unless we find we need you to help with Laura Jean. Go call medical records before they go off duty and ask them send us the old chart."
    Barry watched Sally go out. "I'd forgotten what it was like to be that eager," he said.
    "One of the techs brought in some cookies," Alma said. "If you'd care for some with your coffee, they're very good." As Barry accepted coffee and several cookies on a plate, he tried to remember how long it had been since Luba made any pretense of getting a meal together. God knows he didn't expect to be served, but she got home earlier from work than he did and she wasn't on call at night. The least she could do was slap food onto the table.
    "Thanks," he told Alma . "Haven't seen homemade cookies in a long time."
    "Connie's always bringing us something—Mrs. Dominguez."
    "The little woman with five kids?"
    Alma nodded.
    "You live around here?" he asked.
    "Not really close. I have a cottage at Jade Beach and commute. I don't—" she hesitated, then continued. "I don't tell everyone where I live, though."
    "The beach sounds like a great place." He pictured the ocean, cold in January, but cleansing. Filled with a burst of acute longing to be there, he thought of the free weekend coming up and sighed inwardly.
    No use to ask Luba if she wanted to drive over to the ocean when all she really wanted was to make him miserable and that could be done as easily in the apartment. Which was so messy he'd

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