On Saturday morning at a few minutes after ten, Eric left his apartment. Moments later, his sneakers slapped against the asphalt surface of the path leading to
. The shade beneath
the oak and maple trees brought relief from the relentless August sun. Community
Today promised to be as hot as Eastlake Community would be if the problems that beaded like the sweat on his forehead weren’t solved. For an instant, he allowed himself to regret the injury that had ended his career as a cop and his decision to become a nurse, the way his father and a number of ex-cops he knew had done. During the week since his arrival, he’d asked himself a dozen times why he’d listened to Sam and applied for the position as Director of Nursing.
“Something fishy’s going on. I’m not sure who, what or why. You’ve got the training to dig out the info.”
In the past week, he’d learned a number of facts, but none were illegal. The nurse managers and supervisors couldn’t see or didn’t care about the signs of unrest among the nurses. Sometimes, he thought administration was the problem. But since their contracts protected them, he couldn’t fire the lot.
He emerged from the tree-sheltered path and stopped to let a herd of children charge past. Where was Sam and where was the ball field? His buddy had volunteered him as first base umpire for the game between the nurses and a team from the other departments.
“Eric, over here.”
He jogged toward the picnic table where Sam sat. The children returned. With the adroitness he’d once displayed on the football field, he twisted and evaded until he cleared the crowd.
“Just like old times, my man.” Sam’s brown hand slapped Eric’s.
“Hardly. Where’s your gaudy uniform?” When Eric had played football, Sam had been a member of the marching band. He’d also been pianist for the jazz ensemble. Eric rested his hands on his thighs until he caught his breath. “I’m too old for this.”
Sam laughed. “At thirty-two? In five minutes, I guarantee you’ll be rejuvenated.”
“About the game. Fun or serious?”
“A bit of both.” Sam slid from the table. “The captain and pitcher for the nurses is intense. She likes to win.”
“Is this a warning?”
Sam’s laughter rolled the way his fingers moved along the piano keys. “You’ll see. Wait ‘til you see her legs. Long and lean and stretching forever. Simone threatened to blacken my eyes if I leer. Grab a beer and let’s go.”
When Eric reached the field, he forgot the beer. The hospital’s problems vanished. He put the beer on the ground several yards from first base and stared at the pitcher. Sam had been on target.
He studied her exceptional legs until they vanished beneath brief red shorts. His stare lingered on the white tee shirt that clung to her small, yet perfect, breasts. Sunlight caught the red glints in her brown hair and turned them into flames. As she moved from the mound, his body reacted. How was he going to remember he was her boss?