12

Dr. Josh Harmon reported to his trauma center at half past one for his two-to-twelve shift. He looked over the charts of patients seen but not admitted during the morning shift. He was pleased with the decisions made by his staff, and he posted a handwritten note on the bulletin board congratulating them on no unnecessary admissions and overall good judgment.

Josh got into clean scrubs, secured his locker, and walked into the treatment room to see a gunshot wound in a young Hispanic male. The boy was fortunate that it had passed through the upper arm muscle without striking bone, but he had lost some blood, and Josh put on a surgical mask and was gloved, while he called for the administering of one unit of whole blood.

He had just begun to work on repairing the wound when a woman in her late thirties appeared, complaining of abdominal pain. He was immediately struck by how familiar she looked, but for the life of him he could not place her. Something was different from his memory, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He looked up often as he worked, trying to jog his memory, but to no avail. The woman was diagnosed with severe constipation and was sent to a curtained booth for an enema, then he forgot about her.

Josh finished with his suturing and left an intern to dress the wound and issue a sling to the young man, before discharging him, and Josh dealt with two more patients before his break. He was sitting in the coffee room with a hot cup when it hit him: Orchid Beach. He and Holly had had dinner with the woman and a man, and he couldn’t remember either of their names.

When his break was over he went back to the treatment room and found the woman’s chart. Her name was Jessica Smith, with a La Jolla address, but he knew the name wasn’t right. She remained on his mind for the rest of the afternoon, and it was driving him crazy. Then, during his dinner hour, he decided to put an end to it. He went to a pay phone and called Holly’s direct line at the Agency.

“Holly Barker,” she said.

The sound of her voice got to him; he hadn’t been expecting that. “Hi, it’s Josh,” he said, finally.

“Well, hello there,” she said. “How are things in San Diego?”

“Going better than I could have expected at this stage,” he replied. “How about you?”

“Oh, you know how the work goes-win some, lose some. Lose more than I would like.”

“Has Lance got the director’s job yet?”

“Not yet,” she said, but said no more.

“Okay, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that on an Agency line.”

“It’s okay,” she said.

“Reason I called is, I saw a woman in my trauma unit today who came in complaining of abdominal pain. Turned out all she needed was an enema.”

“Hey, you get all the exciting cases, don’t you?”

He laughed. “She wasn’t my patient, but I thought I recognized her. It drove me crazy all day, and finally I placed her.”

“Josh, you didn’t call to tell me about an old flame, did you?”

“No, I didn’t. In fact, if anything, she’s your old flame, in a way. You remember that couple we had dinner with at a little beach house? The guy was a great cook, and for some reason I can’t even remember his face, but I remembered hers, so I checked her chart for her name, and it wasn’t the right one.”

“Wasn’t the right one?”

“No, it wasn’t her real name, but I can’t remember it. Surely you remember her-the two left town suddenly.”

Holly took in a sharp breath. “Lauren Cade!”

“Yes, that’s it! And what was his name?”

“I don’t remember,” Holly said, “but it was a false name anyway.”

“I don’t understand.”

“And I can’t explain it to you, Josh, you know the drill. What name was Lauren Cade using?”

“Jessica Smith. You want her address?”

“Yes, please.”

Josh dictated it to her from memory. “It’s near the beach in La Jolla. I know the area.”

“Thank you very much, Josh. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’m late for a meeting.”

“Nice talking with you,” he said.

“Same here.”

Josh hung up and went back to work, relieved of the necessity of remembering the woman’s name, but now he had Holly’s voice in his head.

HOLLY LOOKED IN HER computer for Todd Bacon’s satphone number and rang it. The ringing was interrupted by a loud beep.

“It’s the office,” Holly said. “Stand by to write. We have a Lauren Cade sighting in San Diego. Here’s an address in La Jolla.” She recited what Josh had given her, then hung up.

Ten minutes later her phone rang. “Holly Barker.”

“It’s Bacon. How recent is this information?”

“Early this afternoon, local time. She turned up at a trauma center complaining of abdominal pain and was given an enema and discharged.”

“Thanks for that image,” Todd said.

“You’re welcome.”

“You have no way of knowing if the address is good?” he asked.

“That’s why you’re out there, bub,” she said. “Get back to me when you know the answer to that question, and when you do, have a plan.” She hung up.

Contents