A HEALING TOUCH
DISCLAIMER: Well, I don't guess these folks look like anyone in particular. At least not anyone I know. Maybe you know people who look like them. If you do, take a picture and send it to me, would you? J Seriously, as far as I know, they're mine. G'head and borrow them for a while (I like to share most of the time), but don't try to kidnap them. That wouldn't be nice.
LANGUAGE: Some naughty words, but not many.
SEX: Forget it, not this one.
LOVE: Of course. What else is there?
Now, SHOO! Go read. Let me know what you think if you have a minute or two. If you can't, that's okay, too. Here's this: firstname.lastname@example.org
"I'll be there in 15."
Kaelin Cahill dropped the phone back onto the cradle and scrambled out of bed. She grabbed a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt from a nearby chair and yanked them on over her yellow camisole and shorts sleep set. She slipped her feet into a pair of beat up sneakers and pulled her hair into a loose ponytail. She jogged down the stairs and grabbed her keys and ID badge as she bolted out the door.
Although in a hurry, Kaelin drove carefully, the KIA Sportage moving quickly through the deserted streets. When she pulled into the near-full parking lot, she found a spot, parked, and trotted toward the entrance marked "EMERGENCY."
"I hate hospitals," she muttered to herself as the double doors whooshed open.
"Morning, Sunshine!" a friendly voice called.
Kaelin rolled her eyes playfully and turned to greet the speaker.
"I saw that eye roll; do it again and I'll have to kick your ass," the other woman said, coming around the desk and through the swinging doors.
Pointing at the nurse, Kaelin shook her head. "You saw nothing. And watch your mouth."
A hand clapped over smiling lips. "Jeepers, did I say a bad word?"
Kaelin grinned and grabbed the other woman in a hug. Pulling back, she looked at the nurse. "You didn't call me last night. I was hoping for a dinner invite, Morgan."
"Look, sis," Morgan said with mock severity. "My schedule does not revolve around you. I called and left a message that I took an over-time."
Kaelin grinned at a face that was identical to her own, even down to the freckles across the nose. "I know. I got your message."
"Look out now!" a male voice called. "It's Double Trouble!"
The two women turned to look at the speaker. "Shut up, Rob," they said together.
The big male nurse strode up to them and looked down at the identical women. "If I wasn't married…"
"But you are, so get over it," Morgan said. "Dr. Burnfield done in there?" she asked, all business now.
"Yeah. He called for a psych eval, so someone should be here soon."
Morgan sighed. "Okay. Thanks, Rob." When the man moved away, she led her twin sister into a smaller, empty room. "It's bad, Kaely," she said softly.
A shiver of dread crept up Kaelin's spine. "What is it?"
"There was an assault last night-"
Green eyes widened in shock. "Who?"
"It was Lena Davis. Apparently, she and a friend were coming out of Eden when they were dragged into an alley. Both were physically assaulted and Lena's friend, Danni, was sexually assaulted. Some guys on their way out heard something and chased the scumbags away. " There was silence. Then Morgan spoke again. "Credit cards and cell phones accounted for, and no 'ex-boyfriend' in sight, nothing taken from either wallet… looks like a hate crime."
Kaelin sighed, the sound and unconscious body gestures exactly like her sister's. "I better go in. Thanks for calling me, Morgan."
"Wasn't my idea. Lean asked me to; your people think the world of you."
"What else am I supposed to call them?"
Kaelin shook her head, staring off sadly. "This is the worst part of the job, you know? The absolute worst," she whispered, walking over to the one tiny window.
"Don't go, then," Morgan said. "I'll tell her you didn't answer, or that you were busy, or some other shit."
"Morgan Jayne Cahill," Kaelin chided softly. "That would be a lie."
"So?" Morgan retorted, her protective side baring its fangs.
"I'm here and I have to go see them," Kaelin reasoned.
"All right, I know. But if you need anything, just yell."
"Absolutely. Just give me two minutes before we go, okay?"
"I'll be at the desk when you're ready."
Kaelin nodded. Then she sat down and closed her eyes. Morgan walked out silently and closed the door behind her.
Less than five minutes later, Kaelin called her sister. The two women pushed through the heavy double doors that separated the waiting room and the exam rooms, and walked to one of the small cubicles.
Morgan stopped outside the closed door. "Lena's in there and Danni is there," she said, pointing across the wide hall. "I think Danni is being sedated, so she's probably out. Might be a while."
"Okay, thanks. I'll stop by before I leave if you're still here," Kaelin said. She took a deep breath and knocked. "Lena, honey, it's Kaelin," she called softly, as she opened the door and went into the room.
Morgan turned on her heel and went back to the desk, entering from the emergency side. She grabbed a stack of cases they had seen so far that night and flipped the top one open. Before she got far, though, Rob nudged her with his elbow.
"Look who psych sent," he said, inclining his head toward the hall that led into the rest of the hospital.
"Oh goody," Morgan muttered, dropping her pen on the folders.
Dr. Celia Brayden strode purposefully to the desk, her short, serviceable heels sounding loud in the silence. She stopped in front of the desk and looked at the two nurses. "I got a psych page," she told them, her voice low and her demeanor all business.
"Rape victim in Exam 3, but she's under sedation. Maybe you want to talk with the other woman who was with her. Come around inside," Morgan said. She met the doctor as she came through the double doors and handed over a manila folder. She waited silently while Dr. Brayden flipped through the papers.
"She wasn't raped?" she asked, closing the folder and handing it back.
"She said she wasn't, but right now she's not letting Dr. Burnfield look at her. Didn't let him do any more than stitch her up in a couple of places, actually," Morgan informed her.
"Okay. Which room is she in?"
"Lena's in 4. Her pastor's with her."
"Pastor, got it." Celia walked to the door just as another woman stepped out and ran into her.
Startled gray eyes snapped to look into light hazel eyes that were about the same height. "I'm sorry," the other woman said. " Wasn't watching where I was going."
Celia closed her eyes and breathed out slowly. "Sweet Jesus, there's two of them," she muttered, just loud enough for Kaelin to hear.
Kaelin looked around in confusion. "Two of what?"
"Two Nurse Ratchets."
Kaelin laughed. "I would be Sister of Ratchet, then. You know her?"
Momentarily caught off-guard by embarrassment, Celia shrugged. "I know her, yes." Celia gestured to the room. "She said the patient's pastor was with her. Is he in there?"
Kaelin held out her hand. "Pastor Kaelin Cahill."
Hazel eyes narrowed in shrewd speculation. "You're the pastor?" Nurse Ratchet's twin is a pastor.Pastor Ratchet? Oh my God… She took in the battered sneakers, the jean shorts and big gray sweatshirt. She looked at the open, honest gray eyes and the jet black hair pulled up in a ponytail.
"As God is my witness," Kaelin quipped, a deep dimple appearing briefly on her left cheek. At the other woman's stunned look, she grinned. "Sorry, just a little pastoral humor."
"Oh, right. I'm going to spend a few minutes with Lena, see if she'll let Dr. Michaels do a rape kit. Ratchet tells me that Doc Burnfield isn't getting anywhere. Sometimes a woman doctor will get better results in this type of situation."
Kaelin looked at the doctor in shock. "A rape kit? Why? She said she wasn't raped."
"True. But she's not letting anyone get close. Words, actions, they don't match up. We have to make certain that nothing more happened. We need to gather any evidence that could help identify the assailant," Celia explained. She watched the pastor catch her bottom lip between her teeth and furrow her brow in concentration.
"Yes, I suppose that makes sense." Kaelin looked into the hazel eyes. "Would it be all right if I stay, if Lena wants me to?"
The doctor wavered for just a moment then she nodded once. "If Lena would like you there, then that would be fine."
"I was just on my way to heistsome coffee from Nurse Ratchet for us," Kaelin said with a smile. "Would you like a cup?"
Celia shook her head, the dark brown hair swirling around her shoulders. "She'd probably lace it with arsenic," she answered, a smile briefly lighting up her entire face. "I'll go in and talk with Lena."
Kaelin nodded then walked to the desk. "Hey, Nurse Ratchet," she said. "I need 2 cups of coffee."
Morgan turned to look at her sister. "You've been talking with Dr. Doom, I take it." She led Kaelin to the small break room. "Please tell me one of these is for her so I can poison it."
"Oddly enough," Kaelin mused, "she said you'd say that."
"Yeah, well, she deserves only the best," Morgan grumbled too sweetly.
"Morgan?" Kaelin asked, stirring sugar and creamer into the two cups. "Has Dr. Brayden… dealt with this kind of situation before? Is she compassionate toward the victim?"
"If you're asking if she's gay, rumor has it that she is. But if you're asking about some deep theological bullshit, you got me, Sis. I don't have the first foggiest." Morgan stopped at the desk and handed one of the cups to Rob. She set hers next to the files and shrugged. "Better ask her."
Kaelin sighed. "I don't care about gay. I care about good." She walked back to the cubicle with the cups and called to announce herself.
When she pushed the door open, her heart clenched painfully at the sight of Lena huddled under a white hospital blanket. The young woman had it pulled tightly around her, and her eyes stared at a spot on the floor. Dr. Brayden sat in the only chair in the cramped space.
"Here you go, Lena. I'll wait outside while you two finish up," she said quietly, handing over one of the cups.
"Stay," Lena whispered, raising her eyes to plead with Kaelin. "Please stay, Pr. Cahill."
It took the women almost two hours to get the whole story from Lena, finding out that she was sexually assaulted, as well. The more she heard, the worse it got for Kaelin. Listening to the young woman's soft, faltering words cut Kaelin to the heart. Finally, she reached that point that she needed to get away for a few minutes to talk to the Boss.
After excusing herself from the exam room, Kaelin walked in the opposite direction, away from the desk. She found a small, deserted side room and slipped into it, leaving the overhead light off. She sat in a chair and dropped her head in her hands. She let the tears come, not trying to stop them at all. She stayed that way for a while, her breath catching occasionally on a small, silent sob.
"Hey," a familiar voice said softly. "You okay?"
Hastily, Kaelin got up, turned away from the woman and swiped a hand across her face. "Umm," she cleared her throat. "Yes, thank you," she answered, her voice husky from the emotions.
Celia stepped into the room, her eyes never leaving Kaelin. "Pr. Cahill, have you ever… worked with this type of thing?" she questioned softly. She was concerned about the other woman, but on a much deeper level than just as colleagues. This, she knew, was different. As Celia had watched Kaelin, and listened to her talk with Lena, she was almost certain
that this woman had experience with this outside of the classroom or clinic. It unnerved her, to be honest, that she could feel such concern for this woman who looked exactly like someone she really couldn't stand.
"Unfortunately, yes," Kaelin answered. "In a congregation like mine, this happens all too often. Usually, though, I can maintain distance. " She maintained her position in the deep shadows, her arms crossed in front of her chest and her head leaning back against the wall.
"What kind of congregation?" Celia asked, finding herself oddly curious.
"My parishioners are 90% gay. I started the Church of the Good Shepherd when I finished seminary, and-"
"You're that Pr. Cahill?" Celia blurted out. "Good Shepherd's in Ocean Grove, right?"
Kaelin nodded. "We're kind of a close family… of about 300," she said, a sad smile touching her lips. "This… this senseless type of thing happens a lot to either one of us, or someone we love, or the community at large." She paused and drew in a deep breath. "But it never gets easier. Seems to get harder to deal with, to be honest."
"No, it doesn't get easier." Celia pointed to a chair. "Mind if I sit?" When Kaelin shook her head, Celia dropped unceremoniously in the chair. "I've been doing this stuff for almost 20 years and you're right, it only gets harder."
"What keeps you sane?" Kaelin asked.
"I'm not exactly certain. Luck. Stubbornness, maybe. What about you, Kaelin?"
In response, Kaelin just smiled gently and pointed up.
The two women fell silent, each in her own thoughts. Finally, though, Celia broke the silence.
"It's going to be a long road for those two girls. You're obviously important enough to Lena that she called you and not her family."
"She has no family in the area," Kaelin told her. "Neither does Danni."
"So she has no family support system. You have to be extremely careful that neither one of them becomes too dependent on you," Celia warned softly.
"That wouldn't be such a terrible thing, Dr. Brayden."
"Please call me Celia. And it could be a bad thing. I imagine we'll be working together with the two of them. We'll need to discuss how we're going to approach treatment. Why don't you give me a call tomorrow so we can set up a time to meet."
"Sundays aren't a good day for me," Kaelin reminded the doctor.
Celia smacked herself in the forehead. "Right. Sorry. How about-"
"Tomorrow night," Kaelin blurted. "Sunday nights are usually quiet at my house. I could call you tomorrow after 8, if that works."
"That would be fine." Celia grabbed a scrap of paper from the coffee table and jotted down her number with a pen from her shirt pocket. "Here you go."
Without looking at it, Kaelin folded it and stuck it in her shorts' pocket. "Well, I suppose we better get back there." She started for the door, but Celia stopped her.
"Kaelin, don't ever be ashamed of your tears," Celia said quietly.
"I'm not ashamed of the tears. I'm ashamed of the weakness," Kaelin admitted before walking out the door.
Just before 6:30, Lena was released, but she chose to stay with Danni, who was admitted for monitoring. Celia made an appointment with Lena to see her Monday morning in the office.
On her way out, Kaelin stopped at the desk. Morgan was just finishing her report to the day-shift nurse and she raised a finger to signal to Kaelin. After another minute, she turned to her sister. "You finished?" When Kaelin nodded, Morgan smiled. "Good. I'll walk out with you.
The two women walked through the automatic doors and stopped. Kaelin grabbed her sister in a fierce hug. "Don't forget, we're meeting at Allaire tomorrow. Bring that potato salad you make."
"Anything for the pastor."
***** ***** *****
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