Home > Blindsighted (Grant County #1)

Blindsighted (Grant County #1)
Author: Karin Slaughter

Monday

 

 

1

 


Sara Linton leaned back in her chair, mumbling a soft “Yes, Mama” into the telephone. She wondered briefly if there would ever come a point in time when she would be too old to be taken over her mother’s knee.

“Yes, Mama,” Sara repeated, tapping her pen on the desk. She felt heat coming off her cheeks, and an overwhelming sense of embarrassment took hold.

A soft knock came at the office door, followed by a tentative “Dr. Linton?”

Sara suppressed her relief. “I need to go,” she said to her mother, who shot off one last admonishment before hanging up the phone.

Nelly Morgan slid open the door, giving Sara a hard look. As office manager for the Heartsdale Children’s Clinic, Nelly was the closest thing Sara had to a secretary. Nelly had been running the place for as long as Sara could remember, even as far back as when Sara was herself a patient here.

Nelly said, “Your cheeks are on fire.”

“I just got yelled at by my mother.”

Nelly raised an eyebrow. “I assume with good reason.”

“Well,” Sara said, hoping that would end it.

“The labs on Jimmy Powell came in,” Nelly said, still eyeing Sara. “And the mail,” she added, dropping a stack of letters on top of the in-basket. The plastic bowed under the added weight.

Sara sighed as she read over the fax. On a good day, she diagnosed earaches and sore throats. Today, she would have to tell the parents of a twelve-year-old boy that he had acute myeloblastic leukemia.

“Not good,” Nelly guessed. She had worked at the clinic long enough to know how to read a lab report.

“No,” Sara agreed, rubbing her eyes. “Not good at all.” She sat back in her chair, asking, “The Powells are at Disney World, right?”

“For his birthday,” Nelly said. “They should be back tonight.”

Sara felt a sadness come over her. She had never gotten used to delivering this kind of news.

Nelly offered, “I can schedule them for first thing in the morning.”

“Thanks,” Sara answered, tucking the report into Jimmy Powell’s chart. She glanced at the clock on the wall as she did this and let out an audible gasp. “Is that right?” she asked, checking the time against her watch. “I was supposed to meet Tessa at lunch fifteen minutes ago.”

Nelly checked her own watch. “This late in the day? It’s closer to suppertime.”

“It was the only time I could make it,” Sara said, gathering charts together. She bumped the in-box and papers fell onto the floor in a heap, cracking the plastic tray.

“Crap,” Sara hissed.

Nelly started to help, but Sara stopped her. Aside from the fact that Sara did not like other people cleaning up her messes, if Nelly somehow managed to get down on her knees, it was doubtful she would be able to get back up without considerable assistance.

“I’ve got it,” Sara told her, scooping up the whole pile and dropping it on her desk. “Was there anything else?”

Nelly flashed a smile. “Chief Tolliver’s holding on line three.”

Sara sat back on her heels, a feeling of dread washing over her. She did double duty as the town’s pediatrician and coroner. Jeffrey Tolliver, her ex-husband, was the chief of police. There were only two reasons for him to be calling Sara in the middle of the day, neither of them particularly pleasant.

Sara stood and picked up the phone, giving him the benefit of the doubt. “Somebody better be dead.”

Jeffrey’s voice was garbled, and she assumed he was using his cellular phone. “Sorry to disappoint you,” he said, then, “I’ve been on hold for ten minutes. What if this had been an emergency?”

Sara started shoving papers into her briefcase. It was an unwritten clinic policy to make Jeffrey jump through hoops of fire before he could speak to Sara on the telephone. She was actually surprised that Nelly remembered to tell Sara he was on the phone.

“Sara?”

She glanced at the door, mumbling, “I knew I should’ve just left.”

“What?” he asked, his voice echoing slightly on the cellular.

“I said you always send someone if it’s an emergency,” she lied. “Where are you?”

“At the college,” he answered. “I’m waiting for the deputy dogs.”

He was using their term for the campus security at Grant Tech, the state university at the center of town.

She asked, “What is it?”

“I just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Fine,” she snapped, pulling the papers back out of her briefcase, wondering why she had put them there in the first place. She flipped through some charts, shoving them into the side pocket.

She said, “I’m late for lunch with Tess. What did you need?”

He seemed taken aback by her curt tone. “You just looked distracted yesterday,” he said. “In church.”

“I wasn’t distracted,” she mumbled, flipping through the mail. She stopped at the sight of a postcard, her whole body going rigid. The front of the card showed a picture of Emory University in Atlanta, Sara’s alma mater. Neatly typed on the back beside her address at the children’s clinic were the words “Why hast thou forsaken me?”

“Sara?”

A cold sweat came over her. “I need to go.”

“Sara, I—”

She hung up the phone before Jeffrey could finish his sentence, shoving three more charts into her briefcase along with the postcard. She slipped out the side door without anyone seeing her.

Sunlight beamed down on Sara as she walked into the street. There was a chill in the air that had not been there this morning, and the dark clouds promised rain later on tonight.

A red Thunderbird passed, a small arm hanging out the window.

“Hey, Dr. Linton,” a child called.

Sara waved, calling “Hey” back as she crossed the street. Sara switched the briefcase from one hand to the other as she cut across the lawn in front of the college. She took a right onto the sidewalk, heading toward Main Street, and was at the diner in less than five minutes.

Tessa was sitting in a booth on the far wall of the empty diner, eating a hamburger. She did not look pleased.

“Sorry I’m late,” Sara offered, walking toward her sister. She tried a smile, but Tessa did not respond in kind.

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