I’m so excited to have Trixie Stilletto visiting today! She definitely knows how to craft a story that will keep you flipping the pages!
Thanks to Mary for kindly sharing her blog space with me today!
Imagine yourself getting radiation. You are laying under a large robotic machine and told not to move a muscle. Then you are left alone in the room. It’ll be fine, you tell yourself. Claustrophobia you’ve never had before starts to build. The machine is so close, your mind tells you all it would take is one miscalculation, one slip of a cog or wheel and you’ll be crushed.
That’s what Jennifer Atkinson feels in the beginning of Do Grave Harm, my new mystery with romantic elements available at online retailers now.
Jennifer is battling breast cancer. It isn’t a fight for a wimp. I know, as I too battled cancer and felt the moment of panic with each radiation treatment I received. In Jennifer’s case though, there’s more afoot than just her own worries and misgivings. While she’s receiving treatment, a murder is happening outside the radiation lab. She finds the victim and begins a quest to discover the very dark secrets of the small-town cancer clinic someone will do anything to protect.
Nothing sinister happened during my treatments but I got the idea for this story while undergoing them. Soon, it became more than just a story of hospital intrigue. It became one of greed, pride and deadly devotion. I hope you’ll read the excerpt and consider checking out Do Grave Harm.
Because of my own personal battle with cancer, a portion of all proceeds from this book will be donated to cancer charities. In October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to these charities.
Something wasn’t right. I didn’t want to panic, but I was starting to feel claustrophobic. Having a two-ton radiation machine sitting only inches from your chest will do that to you, especially when it seems you’ve been forgotten.
You’re not truly alone, Jennifer, I reminded myself. There were dozens of people down the hall in the waiting room. And this was a hospital. People were constantly moving around, even though they kept the radiation section closed off.
Repeating these things and more didn’t help. At that moment, I felt abandoned, as if no one knew where I was.
“Excuse me,” I finally called, hoping the radiation technician who’d brought me in here would answer, reassuring me.
Robert. I picture his name tag in my mind. Raising my voice, I called again, “Robert?” Nada. The room was probably soundproof with the door shut.
Panic sped up my breathing as I stared at the machine. It hadn’t moved after my radiation treatment had ended. That was the problem.
In my mind, the six inches between me and it had shrunk to three. My arms were starting to go numb, as well as my feet and legs. No one was coming to help me. I had to do something. Now.
Moving while under the machine was kind of tricky. I was a large woman, and I’d never been dexterous on my back, much to my rat ex- husband’s lament, I guess.
I kicked my legs out of their rubber support and, after several tries, scooted my butt down the metal table. Then I did an ungainly slide, like I was slipping under a barbed-wire fence. Except this particular fence was the size of a VW Beetle, and it seemed to be inching closer to me with each passing second.
When I moved enough that my head and neck were no longer in the plastic mold that kept me still during treatment, I banged the back of my skull against the table. “Ow, ow, ow,” I muttered, inching my way farther down it until I cleared the machine.
Finally, my legs dangled off the end. I sat up, took my first relieved breath in eons, and waited for my head to stop spinning. Freedom! I looked around the room, and everything seemed normal. Walking over to the plastic chair to my left, I picked up my long-sleeved cotton jersey and put it on. Since I got topless for my treatment, most of the time I didn’t bother wearing a bra when I came here. It would be one more thing to take off.
I moved to the doors. They’re made of thick steel and tightly sealed. No wonder no one answered me. They wouldn’t have heard me even if I’d shouted. I pushed on one a bit, staggering under the unexpected weight. When it opened a scant few inches, I peered around the edge. I don’t know why I was acting like a guilty person, doing something or going somewhere I wasn’t supposed to.
I hid a giggle behind a cough. Jeez, Jennifer, get a grip. Something still wasn’t right. In fact, I felt an overwhelming sense that things were horribly wrong.
“Robert?” Still no answer, so I pushed the door open a little wider. Now I could see the second lab and computer station. It was as dark as it had been when I came into the radiation lab at the Blue Bald Falls Cancer Center no more than ten minutes ago. I opened the door wide enough and stepped into the bright lights of the hall.
Robert had his head down on the computer keyboard like he was napping. The scalpel sticking straight out from the side of his neck and the blood pooling on the table down to the floor told me sleep had nothing to do with it.
A southern girl, Trixie traveled north when she found the love of her life. Together, they enjoyed more than 20 years working as journalists. Now back home in Tennessee she’s writing stories that range from short hot romances with a kiss of humor to southern-flavored mysteries. She lives seven miles from the neighborhood where she grew up with two cats, an aging beagle and a host of characters waiting for her to tell their stories.
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