Well, thank you for the comments. Yes, this will be a very intense story. I'm fortunate in that I've never been the recipient of such abusive treatment, but I know women who have – or have read about them. The trick will be balancing the many different twists the story will take. There will be several plot lines all, hopefully, running in sync with each other.
I'll put up one more chapter now, to give you an idea of the initial flow. It'll also introduce a few of the main recurring characters in the Maggie-Della series. I'd love your comments, as usual!
Oh…for more info: www.maggie-della.com
The website is a bit of an experiment. Part of it is commercial of course – to sell the first novel in the series – but other parts are a bit more whimsical. I'm trying to give Maggie and Della "voices" and identities of their own, via characterizations and blogs.
Anyway, here's chapter 1:
The Ties That Bind
by Margaret Daniels
Please note: This book is COPYRIGHT 2008 by MDM Publications!
Chapter 1: Mt. Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Alice DesChamps sat and waited. She curled a two-year old Time Magazine in her hand and stretched against the hard plastic chairs of the Emergency Room. It was late and she was tired. They'd brought the woman in hours ago, in a condition that required immediate and intensive care. So much for dinner tonight with Maggie and Alex. It would have to wait – everything would have to wait. She stood up and walked around the spartan room: a dozen chairs with low tables interspersed and a television playing a bit too loudly in one corner. And magazines, like the one in her hand, at least two years old. She smiled, sat down again and tried not to fall asleep.
A door opened from the hallway and a slender, white-haired man emerged into the waiting room. "Ms. DesChamps?" he asked to the room, turning his head and smiling when Alice stood to greet him. He was dressed in green scrubs and walked over to her with swift, sure steps. "You're Alice DesChamps?" he asked.
"Yes," Alice replied. "And you're…?"
He smiled and extended a hand. "Ed Sheppard," he said. "I'm the attending for your case…uh…" He checked a clipboard. "Allison Lavery. You're the custodian in charge?"
"Yes." She handed him a card. "Is there some place we can go and talk?"
He slipped the card into his pocket and gestured back towards the hallway. "Sure," he said. "Follow me. I need to finish up her paperwork anyway,." They started down the hall.
"Is she alright?" Alice asked as they walked.
Dr. Sheppard hesitated. "Well," he started and then stopped when they reached a small office. He escorted Alice into it, then quietly closed the door. "It's not pretty." He pressed a key on the computer and the monitor opened onto a series of windows. He began to type as he continued. "She's gone up to surgery, that's what took so long. She'll recover, but she won't be comfortable for a while. Can you make arrangements for care beyond this visit?"
Alice nodded. "Yes," she said. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Department of Social Services was an unforgiving bureaucracy, but she'd been in it long enough to know how to manage it. "I'll make the arrangements."
"Good." He turned his back to her for a moment, excusing himself before he did so. He began to type from his notes. "She has a daughter?" he asked.
"Yes," Alice replied, rubbing at dark-circled eyes. "Did she talk to you?"
"Very briefly. Do you know where she is?"
"No." Alice shook her head. "We think he may have taken her with him after he finished with the wife."
Ed Sheppard stopped for a moment and swung around to face Alice. "Shit," he muttered. "How long ago?"
"They're still investigating. A while, though."
"I'm sorry." He meant it. He'd been an Emergency Room doctor long enough to know what that might mean. "Will you keep in touch, let me know if they find her?" Sheppard scribbled a cell phone number on the back of a note pad and handed it to Alice.
"When will she be out of surgery?" Alice asked. "I'd like to see her."
"I wouldn't try to talk to her for another 24 hours or so," he advised. "After that, I'm sure it'll be fine."
She imagined a face blackened and cracked with bruises, smashed teeth, broken bones and pain beyond reckoning. She knew this case, knew this woman. She wasn't surprised she'd taken him back, only appalled at the inevitable consequences. She rubbed her eyes again.
"You must be tired," Dr. Sheppard said, smiling softly. "There's not a whole lot more to do here. I'll have my report for your office and for the police in a few hours. Maybe you should go home and get some sleep. I have your card. I'll give you a call if anything changes."
She stood up, feeling raw and exhausted. "Thank you, Doctor," she said and left the office. Her cell phone beeped as she entered the waiting room. She flipped it to her ear. "Alice DesChamps," she said mechanically.
"Hi." It was Maggie. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything? I just wanted to check in, make sure you were okay." Alice had called frantically from her car en route to the hospital. Alex had answered the phone. "I understand," he had said immediately. "Don't worry about us. We'll give you a call later." This was the call later.
"Hey, girl." Alice smiled and shrugged into an overcoat as she talked. "Sorry to bug out on you like that."
"No problem. More lasagna for us."
"I'm on my way home. I'm ready to drop."
"I'm sure." Maggie knew better than to ask what had just happened. Alice couldn't tell her and Maggie didn't need to hear about these types of things anyway. "Can I treat you to breakfast tomorrow?"
"That would be lovely." After today, that certainly was true. "Bring Della?"
"Don't know about that." Maggie sounded uncertain and Alice wondered if there were something on her mind. "I'll ask her anyway. Can't say if she'll want to."
"Well, just us then. Ask her, though. I could use some humor at this point." Della was one of the funniest people Alice knew. She couldn't stay down around her.
"I'll give it a try," Maggie replied, after another slight hesitation.
"Everything okay with Della?" Alice finally asked.
"I think so," Maggie replied. "She may just need a break from the routine."
"She and me both," Alice said. "I'm heading home. I'll talk to you tomorrow." She signed off and reached into her purse for her keys. Faint streaks of light began to show in the sky. She looked up at the early dawn, then down at her car.
The world was fucked sometimes.
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