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Chapter no 39

The Locked Door

The surgical ICU at our hospital is a twenty-bed unit, but only about half the beds are filled at any given time. There are a few private rooms, but it’s mostly individual beds, separated only by curtains that are mostly pushed to the side. When I walk into the room, it’s quiet aside from the sound of beeping monitors and the whoosh of the ventilators.

As I linger by the entrance, a twenty-something nurse in scrubs, a green surgical cap, and too much mascara hurries over to me. I recognize her, but as usual, her name doesn’t come to me right away. I glance down at her ID badge, which is thankfully flipped around the right way. Meagan.

“Hi, Dr. Davis!” she chirps. “Who are you here to see today?”

I’ve had patients in the surgical ICU at any given time, but I don’t have any here at the moment. Which leaves me with little excuse to be here. And it’s not like I can tell Meagan the truth.

I want to get a look at William Bennett and see if I recognize him.

No, that won’t go over well. Fortunately, I constructed an excuse on the way up here. And Meagan has no reason to doubt it.

“Dr. Corey asked if I could round on his patients here,” I explain. She knows Philip is my partner and we cover each other’s patients. “But of course, he failed to tell me who his patients are.”

I flash her conspiratorial look. Isn’t that just like Dr. Corey? To ask someone else to see his patients and not give a proper sign-out? She smiles sympathetically—I’m sure she’s had plenty of interactions with Philip.

“Any way you could check the census in the computer and tell me who his patients are?” I ask.

Meagan nods, eager to help. She’s a young nurse, so she’s willing to do what I say without questioning the fact that I could just as easily log into a computer and find out the same information myself.

While she’s logging back into her workstation, I glance at the bed numbers, hanging off the foot of the beds. Nine, ten, eleven…

Twelve.

I can see it from where I’m standing. I look back over at Meagan, who is still on the computer. She’s not paying attention to me, and even if she

were, she has no reason to be suspicious. I wander away from the nurses’ station, over to bed twelve.

The man lying in bed twelve is in bad shape. He has bruises circling both his eyes and the endotracheal tube is taped to his mouth, pushing air into his lungs to keep him alive. His left ankle is in a white plaster cast and his right arm is in a sling. His eyes are slightly cracked open, but he’s clearly under heavy sedation. I look down at his greasy black hair, and at the curve of his jaw, which is covered in dark stubble.

He looks familiar. I’ve seen this man before. But I have no idea where.

“Dr. Davis?”

I take a step back from bed twelve, jerking my head away so Meagan doesn’t see what I was doing. She’s standing behind me, giving me a curious look.

“Oh,” I say quickly. “I… I thought this was Dr. Corey’s patient. He looked familiar to me.”

Meagan gives me a strange look. “I checked on the computer and Dr.

Corey doesn’t have any patients on the unit right now.” I swallow. “He doesn’t?”

She shakes her head. “No. He hasn’t had any patients here in the last few weeks.”

“Typical.” I let out what I hope sounds like an exasperated sigh and look down at my watch. I’m late for my surgery. “Just as well. I’ve got to be in the OR five minutes ago.”

I smile at Meagan, but she doesn’t smile back. But I don’t care what she thinks. Meagan is the least of my problems. The man lying in bed twelve was following me for two nights in a row, and I have no idea why.

He can’t hurt me anymore—he’s barely alive. But he wasn’t working alone.

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