Hi peeps! We have Bren Christopher popping in today with the tour for her new release The Doctor Takes A Detour, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $25 Riptide GC giveaway so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
The Doctor Takes A Detour
An unexpected detour sets two men on the path to love and healing.
After being attacked by a drug addict, Dr. Josh Parker fled New York, his career as an ER doctor, and a failed relationship. Determined to start fresh, he takes a job as a concierge doctor to the wealthy older population of sunny Naples, Florida. Nothing to fear there. No trauma. No stress.
It’s a good idea that doesn’t last long. Traveling to his new home, he discovers a car accident and is forced to make a detour to render aid. There he meets sexy paramedic Ian Manolas.
Since Ian returned from the Army, every day has been a struggle to atone for past mistakes. The Glades Free Clinic is his chosen path to redemption. The people Ian helps are a world away from Josh’s wealthy clients though. Addicts, prostitutes, gang members: they all come to Ian’s clinic for help, not judgment. He’ll do almost anything to keep the clinic going, including roping in one reluctant—and hot—ex-ER doctor.
The attraction is immediate, but Josh wants nothing to do with Ian’s clinic. For them to have a future, both men must work together to find a path to love, while helping those who need them most.
Hello everyone. I’m Bren Christopher and I’m excited to be here today to talk about my new release, The Doctor Takes a Detour. Thank you so much for joining me. During this blog tour, we’ll be chatting about the origin of the book, the research needed when writing a medical, and of course, all about the setting: my crazy home state of Florida. Please follow along as I go on this tour and comment for a chance to win the grand prize, a $25 Riptide gift card! The winner will be chosen randomly from comments across all tour stops.
Oh. My. God. He’d never seen anything like it. Swarms of insects with skinny, fluttering black wings, joined together in pairs, doing . . . Well, it was obvious what they were doing, but Josh sure as hell didn’t need to see it.
All he wanted was a cup of coffee to get through the sunset drive across I-75 from the Miami airport to Naples on the southwest coast, but here he was, trapped in a rental sedan and barely able to see out a windshield covered with smeary bug guts.
Not that there was much of a view. Once-white paint peeled from the concrete blocks propping up this lonely gas station, surrounded by acres of Everglades. Or had he passed through that swamp and into the Big Cypress Preserve? It all looked the same. Miles of greenery, with high fences along much of the interstate, presumably to make sure the alligators didn’t wander onto the road.
Icy fingers skittered down his spine despite the August heat and humidity. No alligators in Manhattan. Not animal ones anyway. He couldn’t vouch for some of the humans.
And he couldn’t sit here in this sweltering car all night. He squinted through the window as a truck pulled up and the occupant slammed out of her vehicle, hauled the neck of her shirt up over her nose and mouth, and then made a run for the store’s rusting metal doorway.
Sucking in air so he could hold his breath long enough not to inhale any bugs, Josh did the same, jumping out of the car and banging the door closed before hurrying through the black clouds and into the store.
“Jesus Christ.” He fought the store’s door in his haste to get it closed and block out the bugs, and then scraped his fingers through his hair, shuddering at the thought of insects trapped in the strands he hadn’t cut in far too long.
A chuckle from behind the service counter made him glance up.
“They’re harmless.” A sweat-stained wifebeater strained to cover the beer gut of the man stationed behind the cash register. He leaned his elbows on the cracked countertop, tattoos shifting on his bulging biceps.
A little intimidating, but Josh had dealt with scarier, and the white beard and twinkling eyes made the guy look like a redneck Santa. “Is it always like this? So many insects because of the swamp?”
“That’s part of it, but this time of year is lovebug season, so it’s worse than usual. There’s windshield wash and scrapers by the pumps.” Redneck Santa scanned for Josh’s car out the window and gave a sharp nod. “Yep. You better take advantage. The bugs don’t much swarm at night, but it’s hard enough to see along Alligator Alley in the full dark even with a clean windshield.”
Alligator Alley. Appropriate name for the I-75 corridor through these South Florida swamps. He swallowed. “I will. Thanks.”
Josh filled the biggest cup they had with coffee so black it could have been mud. He grimaced. Tasted like it too, but it would do the trick. Dusk was fading into night, and he had another hour before he reached Naples. Finding his rented waterfront condo in the dark, in an unfamiliar city, might take longer than the whole drive, despite the help of the GPS in his phone.
Another sip of the harsh black liquid and he was back in the ER—the smells, the shouting and crying, the relentless activity of a night shift in a New York City hospital surrounding him. Strong coffee had often been the only thing to get him through those nights; that, and knowing his fellow doctors and the rest of his coworkers were all there for him. That they had each other’s backs.
Until they hadn’t.
Shaking off those memories, he paid for the coffee and then braved the great outdoors again.
After topping off his tank, he reached for the windshield wash. Scraping off the sticky insects was more of a chore than it should have been, every stroke pulling at the newly formed scar tissue along his ribs.
When he’d done the best he could, he resumed the drive. Full night had fallen, and there were few other cars on the road. Clumps of cypress and buttonwood broke up the low-lying landscape. As he neared the coast, the trees grew taller, and a few exits appeared.
Drumming his fingers on the wheel, he waited for his GPS to tell him where to turn off for the south side of Naples, hoping he wouldn’t have to drive through downtown in the middle of the night. His confidence in his driving skills was shaky at best, and he was fighting sleep despite the high-octane coffee. The last time he’d sat behind a wheel . . . He couldn’t remember the last time. Probably a short vacation in med school, to a friend’s house in Connecticut. Nine or ten years ago, at least.
He searched for an exit going south and west to head around the city, hoping to avoid downtown traffic and find an easy road to the beaches and his new home. The GPS would recalculate once he was heading in a different direction. At the next exit, he slowed and turned onto a narrow two-lane state road.
“Proceed to the route,” the phone protested and then fell ominously silent.
“Come on, Siri. We’ve got to be close.” The compass on the rearview mirror confirmed his direction as southwest. Good enough. “Ah, who needs you anyway.”
No streetlights brightened this narrow road, and the beams from other vehicles were few and far between. Taller trees lined the edges of the county highway, the pines closing in around him. His headlights cut a swath through the gloom. Dark clouds occasionally parted to let through the brightness of a huge moon. Despite his growing regret at taking this side road, he couldn’t help a smile at the sight of stars shining boldly instead of struggling to shed a few feeble rays through a sky full of ambient city light.
The clouds were a bit of a concern. In his haste to leave New York, he’d done little research on his new home, but even he knew it rained in Florida in the summer. A lot.
When the first scattered drops hit his windshield, he heaved a frustrated sigh and slowed. Then slowed some more, peering ahead, off to the left side of the lane. Beams of light flickered, but not that of other traffic. These were slanted into the woods.
A shadow loomed out of the blackness. He slammed the brakes, tires squealing as he pulled to the side, heart slamming against his ribs. A truck. He’d seen the outline of a truck, its headlights pointing crazily toward the sky and its front end crumpled against a thick tree trunk.
His breath caught. What the hell? Urgently, he scanned the road, but it was deserted. Turning the wheel in precise movements, he made a U-turn and then parked close to the vehicle, leaving his headlights on and pointed at the wreck.
Grabbing his phone, he popped the trunk latch and jumped out, running to open his suitcase and retrieve the stethoscope and penlight that were as much a part of him as his fingers.
He hurried to the truck but delayed calling for emergency services. For all he knew, the vehicle had been abandoned, the driver walking away with no injuries. As he waded through the underbrush by the side of the road, it became clear that particular best-case scenario was unlikely. The hood was wedged into the tree, and the doors crumpled. At least the windshield was intact, so no one had gone through it.
Water ran down the back of his neck as the sprinkle turned into a soft, steady rain. The outsized wheels of the pickup truck were spinning slowly, so the accident must have been recent. He inhaled, smelling for gasoline, but only the pungent scent of torn greenery and plowed dirt filled the air.
No, there was another odor. He wrinkled his nose at the bitterness of alcohol.
“Hello?” he called. “Anyone hurt?”
The bed of the truck held something large and square: an animal cage—but he heard no dogs barking or whining. The passenger side was closest to him. That door hung open, the airbag twisted, white powder shimmering in the air illuminated by his headlights.
His momentary hope that the passenger had walked away was dashed when he nearly tripped over a body on the ground. The clarity and focus of seven years of emergency room shifts washed over him. He dropped to his knees beside the body—a woman—and ran his penlight over her in a quick but thorough assessment: midforties, overweight, her white face blotchy and reddened.
“I’m a doctor. Tell me your name.” His fingers flicked over the numbers on his phone even as he continued talking to her. “I’m Josh. What’s your name?”
No response from her and no response to his call either. He glowered down at the phone. No service—no wonder Siri had given up on him. One short bar flickered into life, and he tried again.
“Nine one one. What’s your emergency?”
“Car accident on Route Twenty-nine.” He spoke quickly. “Two injured. One is—” He stopped, feeling like he was talking into a void. “Hello? Can you hear me?”
The No Service message displayed again. His grip tightened on the useless phone, and he took a deep breath, battling rising frustration. Then he sent a follow-up text. Sometimes a text would go through when a voice call wouldn’t.
Using his sleeve, he wiped his face dry and then flicked on his penlight again, stuck the stethoscope into his ears, and leaned forward to listen to the woman’s heart and lungs. Pulse and breathing rapid, but regular. So why was she unconscious? His light’s narrow beam revealed a gashed forehead, perhaps caused by hitting the doorframe when she’d stumbled out of the truck cab. Not too deep though. The loss of consciousness might be related to alcohol rather than head injury.
Waving away curious mosquitos attracted to his light and tasty blood, he ran the penlight down the body one more time. No bleeding that he could see, but that arm . . . twisted in an unnatural way, but no bones punctured the skin. Just as well she was unconscious.
Stable enough for now. Thankfully, the rain was letting up, and the moon had come out from behind the clouds to help illuminate the scene when he left her to find the driver. He stood, his feet crunching shards of a broken bottle.
As he passed around the rear of the truck on his way to the driver’s side, a low growl sounded from within the cage—a growl unlike any he’d ever heard from a dog. He pointed the thin beam from his penlight into the cage and then froze when one small reptilian eye returned his stare.
One small eye in one long green-brown scaly body. The alligator’s tail thrashed half-heartedly. The beast appeared drugged or injured, but there was no apparent bleeding and the tail was moving smoothly. Fairly certain his Hippocratic oath didn’t extend to reptiles, he edged past, running his light over the cage. The lock seemed unbroken and the metal frame intact.
The driver’s-side door remained shut. He shined his light through the side window, and then let out a curse. A stout man similar in age to the woman was barely visible through the grayish-white cloud of airbag dust. He was slumped sideways, his head leaning against the side window and his eyes closed. The dash was in pieces and the airbag half-shredded.
What the hell? The front end must have crumbled like an accordion and then bounced back, the cheap material shattering under the stress. Impossible to tell from this angle whether the airbag had done its job.
He tapped the glass. “Hello. I’m a doctor. Can you hear me?”
The airbag might have prevented the driver from crashing his head into the dashboard, but spinal injuries and crushed ribs were a real possibility. Josh needed a closer look at him. He tugged at the handle, but the door didn’t yield. Peering through the window to the passenger side told him that side wasn’t an option.
Although he didn’t want to move the man, he couldn’t assess his injuries through a closed door, so he jerked the handle more forcefully. The door gave way with a screech of tortured metal, and the man collapsed right on top of him, bringing with him the burnt chemical smell of the airbag propellant.
Cursing, he half dropped, half eased the man to the ground, a substantial belly hampering his efforts. He’d be willing to bet that gut was why the idiot hadn’t been wearing a seat belt. If his spine had been injured by the whiplash, those injuries had just been aggravated. Josh’s breath came in harsh pants as he struggled to straighten the heavy man out on the rough ground cover.
Gently, he pushed the shirt up. A pass with his stethoscope along the man’s chest and neck revealed shallow, rapid respirations, and a fast and thready pulse. His skin felt unnaturally cool in the drenching humidity. Josh listened again, noting a decrease in left lung sounds.
Okay then. With a light touch, he felt along the man’s sides, searching for anything . . . like that. “Crap.” A misshapen lump where the rib should have been, the area around it swollen and warm.
If that broken rib had punctured a lung, that would explain the rapid breathing, but there could be other explanations as well, such as blood loss elsewhere. A further exam with the light exposed a dark-red stain on the man’s right thigh, the blood almost black in the dim glow of his headlights. A gash right through the quadriceps.
There had to be something in the truck. Some clothes, or . . . The compartment behind the seats held a thin, shabby blanket. When he pulled it out, an empty whiskey bottle thumped down onto the ground. “Oh, lovely.”
A gleam of metal, unveiled by the removal of the blanket, caught his eye. Not just one, but a whole assortment of knives in various shapes and sizes lay on the floor behind the seat.
“Lovely,” he said again, meaning it this time as he grabbed one long thin blade.
After slicing several strips of blanket, he cut the denim of the man’s jeans away from the laceration and then used a corner of the cloth to wipe the blood so he could examine the torn flesh. A steady flow of blood, but no pumping, no spurting, so thank God for that—the artery appeared undamaged. Josh wrapped the cloth strips around the wound, applying pressure. Stabilizing his patient’s neck with the rest of the blanket, Josh finished cutting away the dirty T-shirt and then listened with the stethoscope. Rapid, shallow breaths. A pneumothorax, for sure. The rib had punctured the lung, and air was slowly leaking into the pleural cavity.
He flinched at the thought of trying to play MacGyver here on this deserted road in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, he hunted in the truck for a pen or something else he could use as a tube to drain the air from the man’s chest to ease his breathing.
A dozen knives and not a single pen. He ran back to his car. As he opened the trunk to search his bag, he stopped, head going up as he heard it—the wail of sirens in the distance, coming closer. Then the flash of red lights appeared down the road.
He’d never seen anything more beautiful.
Read more at: Riptide
Bren Christopher is a multipublished romance author who currently resides in Florida. Although Bren has always been an avid reader in every genre, it wasn’t until she discovered gay romance that the characters who had been content to reside in her imagination started insisting they needed a wider audience. She has a lot of fun helping her folks come to life, and hopes the reader has just as much fun getting to know them.
To celebrate the release of The Doctor Takes a Detour one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card!
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Check out the other blogs on the tour!
Monday, April 8
Tuesday, April 9
Wednesday, April 10
Thursday, April 11
Friday, April 12