Brenda had awakened at 3:00 a.m. to images of her estranged husband, Leopoldo, coming at her with a knife, determined to finish the job. She gripped the steering wheel with sweaty hands.
Her head swam as traffic grew thicker. Circles of light flashed out of the corners of her eyes. Her vision blurred. Her cell phone rang, startling her. She glanced at the screen but could not read the number. “Hello...Leopoldo?”
She hung up and turned off the phone, blinking to clear the fog in front of her eyes. Oh, God, not another migraine. Please!
Brenda reached into her bag for the Imitrex. For a split second, the right side of her body went numb. She picked up the tablet with her trembling right hand and placed it in her dry mouth.
The Mustang swerved. Brenda gripped the steering wheel and tried to lift her foot from the accelerator, but her foot felt dead. So did her left foot. The Mustang accelerated and crossed over three lanes of swerving cars. She saw the median concrete columns of the overpass coming at her. Then darkness.
A trucker called 911. A black Hummer stopped a few yards behind Brenda’s car. The driver ran to what was left of the Mustang. The front of the car was a mass of twisted metal, plastic, and fabric. He tried to open the passenger door, but it would not budge. The Good Samaritan then went around to the other side and saw the broken door and Brenda’s exposed left leg. It was horribly bent. He said a few words to Brenda. She did not respond. Blood dripped from a large wound in her forehead, and her eyes were closed. Her breathing was slow and shallow. The steering wheel pressed ominously against her chest like the foot of a wild elephant. When the paramedics finally arrived, they had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate Brenda from the Mustang. They started an IV with Ringer’s lactate and called for the Life Flight helicopter to transport her to Reagan Medical Center.
Jordan Hamilton dreaded the first week of July at Reagan. It meant dealing with interns fresh out of medical school and residents who had been interns only a few days before. It was also Jordan’s turn to rotate through the medical ICU, the first destination for all the train wrecks arriving at the ER.
Jordan stretched her arms and legs for several seconds, took a few deep breaths, and rolled out of bed. She walked barefoot across the hardwood floor toward the bathroom.
Jordan showered then dressed in a white cotton blouse, black dress pants, and black pumps. She moved closer to the bedroom mirror and had a surge of satisfaction. Her porcelain skin required very little makeup. She rarely used lipstick, choosing instead to apply a lip balm, which gave her full lips an uncontrived but sensual appearance. Jordan returned to the kitchen downstairs to fix herself a cup of black coffee and a bowl of fruit and yogurt. She returned to the second floor and knocked on Martha’s bedroom door. The young live-in nanny was already up, sitting on her bed, brushing her long black hair.
“I just wanted to remind you about Hannah’s soccer practice after her piano lesson. Her gear is in the hall closet.”
“No problem, Dr. Hamilton.” Martha smiled at her. “She’ll be there on time.”