Beep. Beep. Beep. I knew that sound. What was it? Beep. Beep. I didn't like it. Beep. It reminded me of antiseptic and hard plastic chairs for some odd reason. Beep. Beep. Beep. Ted! Was something wrong with Ted? No, Ted had died years ago. Beep. Beep. Beep. Why did that sound remind me of him? Only good things make me think of him normally. Beep. I decided to try opening my eyes. Fat lot of help that was. Everything was white. Was I blind? (Rather devastating in my profession) Beep. Beep. After a moment I became aware of gray lines in the white. Gray lines? Okay, I was looking at a ceiling. Beep. Beep. Heart monitor. That's why I thought of Ted. The last year we'd spent a lot of quality time together listening to one of those hateful things (if you think that couldn't possibly be quality time, you've never had to do it). Beep. Beep. But why was I hearing one now. Gradually I became aware of voices not just the beeping.

"Does she have any family we should call?" A woman asked in a hushed tone, "What if someone needs to…make a decision?"

"I've never heard her say. I can look in her file and see who she's god down for next of kin." A man replied. Did I know these people? The man's voice sounded familiar. Were they talking about me? Heart Monitor. Ugly ceiling. Was I in a hospital? I tried to say something, but all that came out was a weak moan.

"Quinby?" Two faces appeared over me.

"Mr. Salisbury! Vanessa! What's going on?" (Okay, so that's what I wanted to say- in fact I'm sure my brain sent the command for those words, but my voice completely dropped the ball, and all that was heard was another pitiful moan).

"Don't try to talk, dear," Mr. Salisbury cautioned, "Vanessa, go find the nurse." Vanessa disappeared, and I let my eyes drift shut (Wynn Salisbury does not look good up close when one is slightly deluded) my head was throbbing and I wanted to go back to sleep. I heard a door open. "She's gone again, nurse, but she was conscious for a moment." Mr. Salisbury said.

"No, I'm here," I protested. At least the word 'no' was discernable that time. I tried to push myself into a sitting position using my arms. Bad idea. Pain shot up my spine. Moaning again I collapsed back onto the bed.

"Oh, don't try to move," The nurse said, bending over me to shine a pen light in my eyes. I winced. Light made my head ache worse. "How are you feeling?"

I wanted to tell her exactly how I was feeling, as well as find out what was going on, but since I couldn't talk coherently I settled for a slightly garbled version of 'bad', and chose to wait on what's wrong.

"Okay, we'll get you some more pain meds." She said soothingly while wrapping a blood pressure cuff on my arm.

"No!" it was supposed to come across as an edict, but I sounded more like a whiny toddler. Pain medicine makes me loopy, and I really needed to figure out what was going on here.

"Oh, don't worry, you'll feel much better. You've got a pretty bad concussion from the accident."

Accident. Now there was something tangible. I supposed car accident. What was the last thing I remembered. Oh yes, Garrett had asked me out. Had we fought? Had he taken his eyes off the road and wrecked? Was he hurt too- or worse? If I was responsible for anything happening to Garrett I would never forgive myself. "Garrett?" It didn't sound good, but nobody asked me to repeat myself, so I suppose it made sense. Vanessa scurried off again, returning a few minutes later with Garrett in tow, and in one piece. He flashed me one of his dazzling smiles.

"So you chew me out, and now you can't wait to see me? I swear I'll never get women figured out." He'd better be glad for my present condition, or I might have thrown something at him. No, I was too relieved to do that. I didn't even mind when he sat on the edge of my bed and picked up my hand. I might have smiled at him. At any rate he leaned forward and kissed my forehead. I closed my eyes and relaxed, too miserable to recall all the reasons that wasn't supposed to feel good. The nurse had left, but now came back with a man in a white coat who I presumed to be my doctor.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Xander, I'm Dr. Trevett Fillmore." I nodded, or, well, tried to. My neck wouldn't seem to move, but that was the best acknowledgement I could manage since we'd already proved my voice wasn't in working order. He proceeded to shine a pen light in my eyes and take my pulse (what exactly was the point of the nurse doing this if he was going to repeat the performance?) while he tortured me I tried to remember what happened. I had yelled at Garrett. Well, that was embarrassing. I remembered getting to the mechanic. He'd told me I was nothing but a challenge to him (or at least inferred such.) that's when I got mad. I paid my bill; the kid working the counter told me my car leaked oil. My car. I had driven away, and bumped into the curb, popping a tire. I must have lost control, although I hadn't been going fast at all, so I didn't see how that happened. The doctor and nurse were messing with my IV line. I stared at them until the good doctor explained. "We're going to give you a dose of morphine," he said, "It will probably make you drowsy, but it'll help bring the pain under control."

I started to protest, then bit my lip. If I'd just wrecked my car, then there was nothing to figure out. Well, except for how badly I was hurt, but that could wait. I relaxed as my headache faded to a dull throb. Slowly I drifted off to sleep. Faintly as I was dozing off I heard Garrett say, "Too bad she went to sleep so quickly, I wanted to ask her if she knew who would plant a bomb in her car."

Bomb? I tried to open my eyes, but it felt as though my lids were weighted.

"Garrett!" Vanessa chided, "She's hardly in any shape to be worrying about such things."

"It's a perfectly harmless question."

"It can wait. By the way, what was that about her yelling at you?" I wanted to listen, but their conversation was lost as I slipped into a deep sleep.

Beep. Beep. Beep... When I next opened my eyes, I was alone in my hospital room with the stupid heart monitor. The lights were off and it was dark outside. I guess the morphine had worn off because my headache was renewed with a vengeance, although my mind was much less foggy than it had been earlier. I heard a door open; I looked toward the sound, but the curtains had been drawn around the bed. I would have to get that fixed. There was no way I could go back to sleep under those circumstances. A scrub-clad man pushed back the curtains. Our eyes met.

"You're awake Ms. Xander," he said, stating the obvious.

"Yes," I replied coolly as I was unsure who he was or what his intentions were. Garrett had said something about a car bomb- that couldn't possibly have been an accident.

"My name is Kody and I'm your nurse for the next twelve hours."

Oh. I'm not old enough to remember that period when nurses were primarily female, but evidently that doesn't keep me from stereotyping. "Okay."

"Now, how are you feeling this evening? You're due for some more morphine if you want it."

"Can't you give me something a little milder?" I asked, "I'm tired of sleeping."

He gave me a sympathetic grin. "Sorry, all you can have is morphine until you get something in your stomach."

"Now that you mention it, I am kind of hungry." Granted, the kitchen was probably closed, but I figured he would be able to find me some Jell-O.

Another sympathetic grimace. "Sorry, they had to give you a general anesthetic before surgery, and you can't have anything for 24 hours after that."

"Now that is just plain not nice!" I exclaimed. "Talk about food and then tell me I can't eat!" I folded my lips into a pout.

"I'm sorry," Kody said, "but it is imperative that you don't eat for a full day after surgery, otherwise-"

I dismissed his explanation with a wave of my hand, "Really, it's fine. Now, how badly am I banged up?"

He wrapped a blood pressure cuff around my arm. "You're pretty good all things considering. They said your car blew up- was it the gas tank?"

"I-I'm not really sure. But exactly what have I broke, bruised, sprained, hopelessly mutilated-"

"You've cracked a couple of ribs and dislocated your right shoulder. You have a fairly severe concussion, and you'll be covered in bruises by morning." He put his stethoscope back around his neck. "Your vitals are good for now, I'll be back in a couple of hours to check on you." He turned to walk away.



"Can you leave the curtains open?"

"Open?" he repeated. "Most people want them closed for privacy."

"I like to be able to see the door." He shrugged and turned around. "Oh, one more thing," I called after him. "Do you know where they put my things?"

"In the closed. Did you need something from there?"

"If you don't mind."

He fetched a plastic bag from the wall cabinet. "What do you need out of here?"

"If you will bring it over here, I'll find it." I wasn't wild about the idea of a strange man rooting through my personal effects.

"Your arm is in an immobilizer." He pointed out."

"That's okay," I wiggled the fingers on my left hand, "I'll use this one if you'll hold it open." I rifled through my clothes and a few items from my purse. "It's not here." I muttered in frustration.

"What are you looking for, Ma'am?"

"My gun."

"Excuse me?"

"My Colt .380. I was carrying it at the time of the accident, so it should be here." What if someone had stolen my gun and shot somebody?

"Ma'am," Kody said, "Even if it were in that bag, I can't let you have a lethal weapon in your condition." I stared at him dumbfounded, "Ma'am, you aren't well and you've been taking narcotics; it wouldn't be safe."

"What if someone has stolen it?"

"I'm sure one of your friends has it. They wouldn't have left it just sitting there. Try not to worry about it,"

I bristled at his patronizing tone; I would worry about whatsoever struck my fancy. Again promising to return in a few hours, Kody exited, leaving the curtains open as I requested. After he was gone, I lay awake for a long time. What if my shoulder didn't heal right? Or what if the concussion left permanent damage? I'd never done anything else save a few odd jobs in college- how would I make ends meet? Of course I knew in my mind that the Lord would provide for me, but the thought of giving up my career was frightening. I just plain didn't want a different job!