Friday, July 15, 2011

Treasuring Emma; Diagnosis Death

Treasuring Emma

by Kathleen Fuller

Book One in the Middlefield Family Series

Emma always put the needs of others ahead of her own.

Now her heart is torn between two men. But will either truly treasure her?

Adam was Emma's first love, but two years ago he left Middlefield, set on experiencing the freedom of living in the Yankee world. In his wake, he left Emma's shattered heart. Now Adam is back and Emma's heart is breaking for other reasons.

Kathleen Fuller is the best-selling author of over twenty novels. Her latest book, Treasuring Emma, releases in August, 2011.

Chapter 1

"Emma, I'm so sorry."

Emma Shetler lifted her gaze to meet Moriah Miller's eyes. Moriah had been a good friend to her over the past year, and Emma had never noticed until now how blue her eyes were. Blue like the summer sky, and at this moment, full of compassion.

Emma tried to swallow down the thorn of grief that blocked her throat. "I appreciate you and your familye coming by this afternoon."

"Your mammi was a very special fraa." Moriah laid a hand on Emma's shoulder. The warmth of the gentle touch seeped through the thin fabric of Emma's black dress.

The color of mourning. Of death.

Despite Moriah's comfort, that's what Emma felt inside. Dead.

She glanced around the living room. As expected, most members of the church district were here to pay their respects and show their support. Dark dresses and white kapps for the women, black pants and hats for the men—all of them in mourning clothes. They milled around the living room. Conversation and movement blurred into a meaningless cacophony of sound and motion.

Emma tapped her toe against the polished wood floor of the old farmhouse, her nerves strung tight as a barbed wire fence. She should have been in the kitchen, preparing and serving the traditional meal. But her sister Clara had taken over the cooking and banished her to the living room. This was supposed to make her feel better, stuck here, doing nothing?

She spied her grandmother Leona across the room. Clara must have chased her out of the kitchen, too. Several women between the ages of fifty and seventy created a circle of support around Grossmammi. Emma smiled to herself as she noticed the women's ample hips drooping over the seats of creaking, wooden folding chairs. They spoke in low tones, nodding and shaking their heads. The thin ribbons of their white prayer kapps swayed against the stiff white aprons covering their dresses. Emma had no doubt they were offering comforting passages of scripture and words of encouragement to their old friend.

During the seventy-five years God had granted her, Leona Shetler had loved her family deeply. But that love came with a cost. Three years ago, her son--Emma's father, James--had passed away. Now she had to deal with the death of a daughter-in-law she loved as her own.

Emma felt the grief stab at her. First her father, then her mother. It didn't seem fair. She wished she could muster even a small measure of the grace and peace her grandmother demonstrated. But instead she simply felt bereft, abandoned, and confused.


She turned her attention back to Moriah. "Sorry. Did you say something?"

"I asked if you needed anything else."

"Oh, ya. I did hear you say that." The words clanged around in her head, empty noise. "Nee, I'm fine."

"All right." Moriah lifted an eyebrow. Her concern echoed that of her sisters Elisabeth and Ruth, along with everyone else who had passed by Emma's chair. The same question over and over: How are you holding up?

How did they think she was holding up? She had nursed her mother through a painful, deadly cancer. She buried her today.

Emma fought to contain her emotions: Anger. Resentment. Guilt. The community's heartfelt concern didn't deserve such rudeness. But nothing anyone said could penetrate the emotional wall that was growing around her, inch by excruciating inch.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon people paused to talk. Relived special moments they'd shared with Emma's mother and father. Assured Emma of God's will, His plan. Phrase after empty phrase about God's comfort and mercy.

She nodded and smiled and tried to look peaceful, while her foot went on tapping incessantly against the floor she'd scrubbed on her hands and knees. Why wouldn't they just leave her alone? That's what she wanted.

No, that wasn't the truth. There was one person she longed to have by her side. Only one. His words, spoken in a soft, deep voice that never failed to affect her, had the best chance of soothing her broken heart.

But he wouldn't come. He had walked out of her life two years ago, and she had no hope he would walk back into it now.

* * *

Diagnosis Death

Richard L. Mabry, MD

"…Another riveting medical drama, the third in his Prescription for Trouble series. Full of sudden twists and turns, the novel's fast pace makes it hard to put down."

(4 ½ stars) ~Romantic Times Book Reviews

The medical career of Dr. Elena Gardner hangs in the balance when she is accused of ending the life of two critically ill patients, one of them her husband. Midnight calls torments her, and she can't decide whether the people around her are friends or enemies. She only knows that one of them is stalking her.

When her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner began. They were stronger after another patient died in ICU. After she took up practice in a small town, the whispers turned to a shout: "mercy killing." What was the dark secret that kept Elena's lips sealed when she should be defending herself?


She stood by his bedside and waited for him to die.

Outside the room, the machines and monitors of the ICU hummed and beeped, doctors and nurses went about their business, and the hospital smell—equal parts antiseptic and despair—hung heavy in the air.

With one decisive move she flipped the switch of the respirator and stilled the machine's rhythmic chuffing. In the silence that followed, she imagined she could hear his heartbeat fade away.

She kissed him and exhaled what passed for a prayer, her lips barely moving as she asked for peace and forgiveness—for him and for her.

She stood for a moment with her head bowed, contemplating the enormity of her action. Then she pocketed the empty syringe from the bedside table and tiptoed out of the room.

* * *

Elena entered her apartment that night to the accompaniment of pounding pulse and jangling nerves. As she crossed the threshold, she asked herself once more, "What's wrong with me?" She was an intelligent woman, a trained physician. There were no demons waiting in the darkness. True, once this apartment had been a home, and now it was only a place to sleep and eat and mourn. But that was no reason to let her grief take over her life.

Then again, it wasn't just the grief. There were the phone calls. If she'd heard heavy breathing or a torrent of obscenities, she'd know what was going on. She could handle that. Any single woman living in the city knew such things occurred. But these calls were more than that. And she thought she finally knew what they represented.

Elena dropped her backpack, slammed the door, and turned on the TV for company. The mail went onto the small table beside her armchair. It could wait. First, a shower and a cup of tea.

Clean, but in no way refreshed, Elena dropped into the easy chair and considered the mail. There was never anything good there anymore. The condolence cards and letters had dried up. She had no family to send her cheery notes. Only her creditors and the people wanting her to spend money she didn't have now accounted for the handful of mail she received.

The envelope was there between her MasterCard bill and an ad for a new textbook. The envelope was a cheap, self-sealing one, addressed by hand in block capitals using blue ballpoint. Two different stamps were affixed to provide the proper postage. The blurred postmark gave no indication of the city of origin.

Elena ran her finger under the flap and pulled out a single sheet of paper from a lined tablet.

The message was printed in the same block capitals. At the end, the writer had pressed down hard enough to penetrate the paper. Elena read the message twice, unable at first to understand and then unwilling to believe it.


She dropped the paper onto the table and pressed both hands to her temples.

Do not reproduce without permission.

Diagnosis Death is available for purchase at fine bookstores, and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian

Richard L. Mabry, MD

"Medical Suspense With Heart"

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