Home > The Pairing (The Proposition #3)

The Pairing (The Proposition #3)
Author: Katie Ashley

Chapter One

With a shrill decibel ringing in his left ear, Alpesh, or Pesh Nadeen, as he was more commonly called, groped blindly along the nightstand before hitting the snooze button on the alarm. When the sound continued, his dark brown eyes popped open. Cutting his gaze to the nightstand, he realized it was not his alarm, but his hospital pager going off. Scrubbing the sleep from his eyes, he sat up in bed. After picking up the pager and peering at the screen, he groaned before pressing the OFF button. He knew the code all too well. One of the ER docs was unable to come in for his or her shift. As supervisor, he had to either find a replacement or take their place. Considering there wasn’t much else exciting going on in his life, he grabbed his phone. He alerted the charge nurse that he would be filling in, and he would be there as soon as he could.

As he trudged into the bathroom, he didn’t bother lamenting that one of his few days off was being taken. Most of the other doctors he worked with had wives or husbands along with children. They never called in unless it was a grave necessity. So why shouldn’t he, as the only single and childless one among them, take up the slack? It was the honorable thing to do, and if there was one thing Pesh prided himself on, it was having an honorable character.

After a record breaking shower and shave, he hurried into the closet. He threw on one of his signature long-sleeved blue shirts and trademark khaki pants. Besides his white lab coat, it was his uniform. He never wore plain white shirts. Blue was a comforting color, and he always wanted to put his patients at ease and make them feel comfortable. Once he tightened his tie, he hurried out of the closet and over to the dresser.

When he grabbed his wallet and hospital authorization card, his gaze fell on the picture in the antique silver frame. His late wife’s smile radiated from behind the glass. Jade was gazing up at him with her twinkling blue eyes—both of them wore brilliant smiles while being outfitted in the traditional Indian wedding attire. Her long blonde hair fell in waves and was adorned with various ribbons, charms, and beads, as were the custom.

His chest tightened as he thought of the day his American-as-apple-pie-wife embraced his heritage by partaking in the full Indian wedding ceremony. Although there were many happy days and good times in the course of their six-year marriage, he couldn’t remember a happier day than his wedding day. It was the day they had finally come together as one—a uniting of two different people and cultures. The day had held such promise of a happy and long future together.

Turning away from the dresser, he also tried to turn away from the overwhelming grief that gripped him. Two years had passed since the horrible day when his thirty-five year old wife had been snatched away from him. Not a day went by when he didn’t miss her, when he didn’t dread coming home to an empty house not filled with her laughter or her sweet presence. No one could quite fathom the true agonizing turmoil he had been through—only a select few, who had also had their heart torn from their chest, fully understood the gaping hole of emptiness left behind.

With a heavy heart, he headed out the door. On the short drive in to work, Pesh didn’t bother turning on the radio to drown out the voices of sorrow echoing through his head. He knew it was no use. No matter how hard he tried, he could not rid himself of his pain. Family and friends had afforded him one year of grieving before they had been on him to move on. Desperately, they tried to get him to realize that the last thing his Jade would want was for him to continue carrying a torch for her—to spend his life sad and alone. He’d tried to prove to them he had moved on, but that only resulted in projecting what he thought was love onto a woman who was just as confused about her life as he was. He’d vowed after that mistake that he wasn’t going to let anyone dictate when it was time for him to move on from Jade’s memory. If he was to love or marry again, he would be the one to take the steps.

He made the same rote pilgrimage from the staff parking lot into the hospital. Every day was just the same, one right after the other. He’d barely had time to ease on his white medical coat when he heard his name being paged over the intercom. Rushing over to the sink, he scrubbed up as quickly as he could before whirling around. Using his back to open the door to the doctor’s lounge, he did his best speed walking down the hallway to the trauma area. The moment he swept through the glass doors, the staff pounced on him.

Two nurses were at the man’s head. One held down the face mask as the other pumped air through the bag into his airways. Another was stationed at the man’s side doing CPR compressions intervals on the chest.

After donning a pair of rubber gloves, Pesh glanced to the charge nurse as he hurried to the man’s side. “Male, forty-five, collapsed at the jogging park during a run. No known medical history. Coded once on the trip over,” she quickly informed him.

“BP is dropping,” another nurse called behind him.

Machines began beeping on and off, a symphony of noise heralding impending doom. “Okay, we need to shock him again.” The crash cart was rolled up to the gurney. Pesh grabbed the paddles. “Charging. Shocking at 260 joules.”

“Clear,” Pesh commanded. The nurses administering compressions to his chest and the intubation bag stepped back, holding their hands off the man. Pesh brought the gelled paddles to the man’s chest. As the electrical charge raged through the man’s body, his arms and legs flailed.

Pesh glanced at the heart monitor. “Still asystole. Again.”

“Charging at 360 joules,” a nurse replied.

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