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Taking Chances

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Taking Chances

  Table of Contents

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  Title Page























  “Can’t you at least take a leave and try it?” Christopher asked. “Take a chance on me?”

  “Can’t you at least come to San Diego and explore the possibilities there?” Kirstin asked back.

  “I can’t, not yet, if ever. I have to be honest with you.”

  “See, we do need time and distance to test our feelings. If what we have is true and strong, things will work out for us; we’ll find a fair compromise. Let’s do as we planned while we continue to explore and deepen our relationship.”

  “If you leave, I’ll lose you. You’ll find a better man, a whole man, one who can give you what I can’t, and you’ll forget about me.”

  “You’re the only man I want Christopher.” “Swear it, Kirstin. Swear you won’t stop loving me.”

  Kirstin brought her lips to Christopher’s. “I swear it, Christopher. I swear I won’t stop loving you because no other man has made me feel as you do …”


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  Taking Chances

  Janelle Taylor

  Dedicated to:

  Robin Petry, R.N., CDE And, Diana Noren, R.D., CDE who helped me with my diabetes education and treatment.

  To: the seven million American Diabetics and the undiagnosed millions who are unaware they have this silent threat.

  To: All women over forty who have known great love and to those searching for it a first or second time, as Life and Love are all about “Taking Chances” to find happiness and to experience special emotions.

  To: Michael, my husband and hero of twenty-eight wonderful years, who helped me take chances in many areas of my life.

  And, to: the many wonderful people in Texico, Clovis, Portales, Carlsbad, and White Sands, New Mexico, who assisted me and Michael with research; thank you and enjoy our efforts.


  Kirstin Lowrey gradually regained consciousness. A physician’s face hovered within inches of hers, close enough for Kirstin to feel his breath tickling her cheeks and to smell his cologne. As he checked her eyes with a tiny flashlight and felt the pulse point in her throat, her still dazed mind surrendered to a seductive dream of playing doctor with Mel Gibson. Such beautiful green eyes … So handsome … Old Spice … Climb up here with me and—

  “She’s coming out of it, John.” The man in the white medical coat leaned closer to her. “Can you hear me? Can you tell me your name?”

  “Kirstin Lowrey.”

  “How many fingers am I holding up?”

  “Two. Now three,” she added when he raised another. She felt queasy, weak. She looked around in confusion. She noticed an IV in her left arm. She was on an examination table in a doctor’s office but didn’t know how she had gotten there. She realized she wasn’t dreaming and the handsome man with the sexy five o’clock shadow wasn’t Mel Gibson, though there was quite a strong resemblance. “Where am I? What happened? Who are you?”

  As he took her blood pressure the stranger replied, “You were driving erratically and ran off the road; damaged your car badly.” Motioning to the other man with a nod and glance, he said, “This is Captain John Two Fists from the local police. He thought you were drunk or on drugs. You passed out before he could get any information, so he checked your car and purse for identification and clues to your problem.”

  While adjusting the IV flow to a slower pace, he continued. “John found a medical alert card, but he didn’t have any liquid sugar to use. Neither did you, Mrs. Lowrey. I’m Doctor Christopher Harrison. Since I was closer than the High Plains Hospital and you seemed in bad shape, John brought you to the office on my ranch. You’re lucky you didn’t kill yourself or injure another driver. You need to be more careful with your diabetes.” He saw her sea-blue eyes widen in distress, then her thick lashes lower in shame. Reactions, he thought in bitterness, she should be feeling after imperiling the safety of others with her carelessness behind the wheel. “I’m giving you glucose, so relax and let it take effect.”

  Kirstin was disquieted by the physician’s cool green gaze, scolding tone, and grim expression. She closed the gap in her shirt after he removed his stethoscope and straightened. She spoke quietly as he focused his piercing gaze on her again. “The accident is pretty much a blur. When I left Amarillo, I thought I could make it to Roswell for lunch and Carlsbad for dinner. But there were miles of road construction and I was held up for hours.”

  She took a deep breath and exhaled, aware of her rapid heartbeat and trembling. “I remember dodging barricade barrels and feeling strange, but I don’t know why I didn’t pull over, unless there wasn’t a safe spot. I’ve never experienced anything weird like that. I recall a rough bump, being jostled around, and the policeman asking me questions; then, everything went black. Will I be all right?”

  As he nodded, Christopher’s keen gaze took in her designer jeans and red western shirt which were rumpled and damp, partly due to her symptoms and partly to his own dislike of air-conditioning. A diamond-cluster ring on the hand that adjusted her clothing sparkled beneath the bright examination lights. Each time he leaned close, she exuded a provocative smell that evoked thoughts of a summer breeze wafting over wildflowers, a scent he found pleasing, as was her voice. According to her driver’s license, she’d be forty-six on August fifteenth, but she could easily pass for mid-thirties. It was clear to him that she took extra care with her appearance and figure because both were topnotch. Her hair was the color of ripened wheat like his uncle used to grow on this land before he inherited it and her-blue eyes were wide and expressive. A real looker, he concluded. He realized it must seem as if he was inspecting her and he looked away, reluctant to let her see how attractive he found her.

  “You’re lucky John was the one to come by. He was heading back to Clovis from Elida. At a different time, Mrs. Lowrey, you could have lain there too long without help to avoid complications, or maybe even to survive. Somebody dangerous could have taken advantage of your unconscious state. You could have been robbed or kidnapped, your car stolen, and you dumped in the desert. That’s happened before on lonely stretches of road.”

  Kirstin was horrified by the jeopardy in which she had placed

  He stopped at the stricken look in her eyes. His heart softened a little. It wasn’t her fault he was in a bad mood after receiving that tormenting letter from his ex-wife. He shouldn’t take out his anger and frustration on a patient, even a reckless one. “You must have gunned the gas pedal in your confusion, because John said you suddenly took off into nowhere at top speed; you crashed through the barrels and plowed into the sand. Your car’s undriveable, so he’s having it towed to the Nissan dealer in Clovis, unless you prefer another shop and mechanic.”

  She shook her head as she kept her alarmed gaze glued to his.

  “In case you remember your meeting with John, I told him that being belligerent and uncooperative are common symptoms of your illness.”

  Kirstin recalled parts of an embarrassing confrontation. She explained to the officer that she had found out about her diabetes and took some educational classes on it only six weeks ago. “I don’t usually have problems, but I guess I was careless,” she admitted. “When I realized I had run out of snacks, I was already caught up in the road construction and there was no place to buy more. I had glucose tablets and I thought I had ample time to reach Roswell to eat. You don’t have to worry, Captain Two Fists, I won’t let this happen again. And I’m sorry I was rude; that isn’t like me.”

  The half-Apache lawman smiled and said, “I’m sure you’ve learned a valuable lesson today, Mrs. Lowrey.”

  Kirstin liked the warmth in his dark-brown eyes and comforting smile. “I promise you I did, John.” She turned to the other man, “How am I doing, Doctor Harrison? What’s the treatment and prognosis?”

  Christopher was impressed by her manners and attitude. “John called me while you were en route and I got in touch with your doctor; her name and number were in your kit. She faxed me copies of your records and info on your problem. I used a medical program on my computer system to call up diabetes and hypoglycemic attacks so I’d know the best way to treat your condition. I’ve had experience with this before, a long time ago. I put an ampule of D50-W in the drip to get glucose into you fast. I don’t have any treatment kits or shots because I don’t have any diabetic patients, but I’ll start stocking Glutose and Glycagon for emergencies. Don’t worry, Mrs. Lowrey, we got to you soon enough so you’ll be fine. That is, if you take proper care of yourself.”

  Kirstin imagined how furious Steve was going to be when or if he learned about all this, as if she didn’t have enough problems with him already. Worse, she could lose her new job if her employer learned about her diabetes, and it might be difficult to find another, as too many companies still discriminated against people with disabilities and diseases, despite laws to protect them. It was hard enough to be an older female in the work force without adding a medical problem. She had to keep her condition a secret until she learned how to deal with it and proved herself at the Medico. “As I said, Doctor, I usually do take good care of myself. Be assured, this was an accident that won’t be repeated.”

  Christopher noticed her tension and assumed she was peeved by his-scolding. Though she had deserved a tongue-lashing, she sounded and looked sorry, and seemed determined not to allow it to happen again. Have empathy, Chris. She’s probably scared, hurting, and worried just like you were after your accident. “I tried the Augusta number listed on your ID but an operator said it was disconnected. I also phoned Katie Lowrey, the person listed to notify in case of an emergency; an answering machine said she was out and would return my call later. Is there anyone else I should phone? Your husband or parents?”

  “My parents are deceased. And I’m a widow. Katie is my daughter. She lives and works in Los Angeles. I’m in the process of moving from Augusta to San Diego. I was sightseeing along the way and got snared by your road repairs.”

  “Next time, every time, be prepared for emergencies. That’s why they’re called emergencies, Mrs. Lowrey, they’re unforseen. I’ll continue the drip for a while longer, but you need to get food inside you. Milk, fruit, and peanut butter sandwich all right with you? That’s what you need under these conditions.”

  “Yes, fine.” She watched him leave the room and heard another door close in the adjoining one.” She looked at the policeman and smiled. “Thank you again for the rescue. I could have been in deep trouble if you hadn’t …” Her eyes filled with tears. She dabbed their corners with a tissue the captain handed to her. Thank heaven she hadn’t been so out of her mind that she’d pulled the revolver friends had insisted she bring along for protection. In her crazy state, she might have shot him, killed him …

  “Chris will do all he can to get you well fast. You can trust him, Mrs. Lowrey. I’ve known him since we were kids. His uncle was a good man, too; did lots of doctoring on the Mescalero Reservation southwest of here; that’s where I was born and raised.” John kept talking while she got her tears under control. “While I was attending ENMU in Portales, I worked here. During Chris’s visits, we became close friends, ch’uunes as we Apaches say.” He chuckled and leaned against the wall. “I was glad when he moved here three years ago and took over after his uncle died and left him this ranch and practice. Older folks especially like a healer who treats them like a person, not a number or chart. Even makes house calls. And he doesn’t charge an arm ‘n’ leg like those big-city doctors. ‘Course, he doesn’t have to.”

  The implication in John’s last statement was clear: Harrison had money. Kirstin prayed he wasn’t just a rich country boy playing doctor. She accepted another tissue to wipe away the last of her tears, as she did not want to be bawling like a child when the handsome physician returned. She was grateful John was kind and friendly and understanding. He reminded her of a gentle giant, though he was shorter than his tall friend.

  “That’s right, no need to cry. Chris will take good care of you. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way again. ‘Course I hope you stay long enough to see some of our beautiful state. You were heading for Carlsbad?”

  “Yes, to visit the caverns, then White Sands. I haven’t seen much of the United States, so I was really looking forward to my trip. This accident could certainly wreck my plans. Does my car look bad?” She wondered if she could cover damages without reporting them to the insurance company. Only if it wasn’t expensive. She didn’t want to dig too deeply into her dwindled savings, as the money David had left her had barely covered his debts, Katie’s college, and Katie’s move to California.

  “It didn’t look good to me, Mrs. Lowrey. You can check— “

  John stopped as Christopher returned with a plate containing small glass of milk, a pear, and a sandwich. He set it down, helped Kirstin sit up, and waited for her to steady herself before releasing his hold on her forearm and passing her the plate with his right hand. In case she became dizzy, he remained close as he looked at his longtime friend and said, “It could be hours before Mrs. Lowrey fully recovers physically and mentally, John, and I’ll need to watch for rebound hyperglycemia. Why don’t you head on to the office? I’ll give you a call and a full report later.”

  “Suits me, Chris. I have work to do before five. You know Maria, she gets on her high horse if I’m too late for supper.” He chuckled, then looked at Kirstin. “Doc Harrison will take good care of you, Mrs. Lowrey. You can handle the problem with your car when you’re feeling better. It’ll be in good hands with Joe Bob. He’s a good mechanic, honest and reasonable.”

  “Thank you, Captain Two Fists. You’ve been most kind. Will I get a ticket for reckless driving or something?” How, Kirstin fretted, could she keep this incident a secret if it went on her record and in her work file?

  “No need to write it up. I’m sure you’ll be more careful in the future.”

  Relieved and grateful, Kirstin smiled and thanked him.

  Christopher made certain she was clear-headed and sitting with her back against the wall for support before he walked outside with John and chatted for a few minutes while she ate. When he returned and she finished her food, he put aside the plate and to
ld her to lie down and relax. “Let’s see if we can figure out what went wrong so it won’t happen again.”

  Kirstin rested one arm across her stomach and tried not to stare at him as she said, “I haven’t had any serious problems until now, not since Dr. Cooper got my treatment plan regulated. I guess my brain was clouded today.”

  “Probably because you were sitting for hours and were relaxed, until the road construction delayed you and stressed you. Are you sure you would recognize a low coming on? You could have hypoglycemic unawareness. That causes some patients to ignore or misread the symptoms. If you have a fear of lows and imagine symptoms but find none when you check your blood-sugar level, that can cause you to unconsciously ignore real symptoms.”

  “So far that hasn’t happened,” she replied, alarmed about the possibility of developing a new complication. “I had some lows at first, so my doctor reduced the amount of medication I was taking; that should be on the records she faxed you.” He nodded. “I didn’t have any warning symptoms that I noticed. I’ve been in good control for weeks, holding near-normal levels.”

  “That’s good and bad, Mrs. Lowrey. Near-normal-control doesn’t allow much flexibility. The slightest change in your meals, activities, or moods can mess up your balance. You know that proper exercise and diet are as much a part of your prescription as your pills or shots are, don’t you?” She nodded, wide-eyed with concern. “Diabetes changes your lifestyle, rules your routine, or it should if you want to stay healthy, not to mention alive. You can over-do as easily as under-do any part of your triangle. Did you do any vigorous exercise or have too much to drink last night? Both of those things can cause adverse reactions hours later, or even the following day.”

  “I used a treadmill at the hotel and had one glass of wine with dinner as instructed, Doctor Harrison. My blood sugar was fine before and after I exercised. I thought I had my schedule worked out perfectly for today’s travel, but I didn’t count on running out of snacks in this deserted area or on being delayed. I also noticed my emergency Coke was a sugar-free-diet one that the store clerk gave me by mistake. I was going to restock my supplies at my next stop in Roswell. As you can see, I didn’t make it there.”

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