Bandit Publishing is excited to announce the release of Beyond the Orange Moon by Adrienne Frances.
Read the prologue here and you’ll be dying to one click! This book affected me from the very first page.
PrologueExhausted, Lucy Dalton swiveled around in her chair. She leaned back and looked up at the fluorescent lights that hung above her head. She watched as they flickered with a quiet zapping sound, which was both hypnotizing and irritating. “Wake up,” her best friend and roommate, Grace Webber, warned, her bright blue eyes narrowed at Lucy. “I’m up,” Lucy assured, and wondered why anyone in their right mind would want to work a night shift. Grace came alive at night. She would mope around all day and talk about how drained she felt; however, when evening rolled around, she seemed to perk up and get ready for the night. At the other end of the white, dimly lit hallway, Lucy could see the chaos coming from one of the labor rooms. It was full of anticipation, which was really nothing new on that particular floor. “Did you see those guys down there?” Grace asked as she pulled out a manila file. “Lordy, lordy.” “I only glanced at them,” Lucy said, gazing at the happy group. “From what I could tell, they all look alike.” “I think they’re brothers.” Grace sat next to Lucy and rested her elbows on her knees, before flashing a giddy smile. “Maybe,” Lucy murmured. Of course she had seen them. She had looked at them far longer than she was supposed to. Only hours before, she had crept into the room with every intention of being invisible. This was what Nurse Knight, the nurse she was to shadow, had ordered, anyway. It was her duty to creep through the background, change the pans, clean up the trays and used cups, empty the garbage, and peek at the numerous machines—and she was to do all of this without being intrusive. If she was noticed, she was to smile and quietly leave the room. If she was spoken to, she was to respond as briefly as possible, smile, nod, and quietly leave the room. Apparently, for Nurse Knight, quiet observation was the most important part of her externship; bedside manner and patient relationships came last.
While the other nursing students crossed their fingers and hoped to avoid working with Nurse Knight, Lucy happily accepted her fate of working under the biggest bitch known to nurses. With Nurse Knight’s strict policies and major distaste for students, Lucy knew without a doubt that she could remain in the shadows. This was another indication that she might not be the nurse her mother had always hoped she would become. Although her grades and clinical tests were flawless, nursing was never in her blood like it was for every other woman in her family. She didn’t possess that thick skin that everyone else in her class had, either. While everyone else couldn’t wait to dive in, Lucy was happy with the smaller, less personal jobs, such as bringing ice chips, picking up garbage, and reminding visitors when the cafeteria was closing. The room at the end of the hall had been abuzz all night. Lucy had never seen so many people running in and out of a labor room. Its occupants were all full of excitement for the arrival of their newest family member. It was hard to tell who the father was; there were three other men who all looked alike and wore matching smiles. When it came time to push, however, the men in the room had dwindled down to one—one gorgeous man, she couldn’t help but notice.
“Here,” she had said, pushing a pair of scrubs over to the shaking father. “You’ll want to put these on.” “Thank you,” he’d mumbled. He had looked past Lucy and watched his wife turn her sweaty head and moan. His eyes had fallen to the floor, seeming to search for some sign that everything would be okay. He’d looked lost as he took a deep breath that shook on the exhale. “Hurry,” Lucy had said, her gaze moving toward the scrubs in his hand. “It’ll be okay.” The man had finally nodded as he walked past her and back into the room to join his wife. Hours later, the baby boy was born. He was healthy and everyone seemed blissful as they took turns holding him, then finally left for home. This was the typical cycle for the floor that Lucy worked on; it hardly fazed her anymore. “Lucy, go make sure room 226 doesn’t need anything before we take them down to maternity,” Nurse Knight ordered, bringing Lucy back to attention. Lucy headed down to the room she’d been staring at. Her clogs squeaked with each step, the sound echoing through the hallway. She hated that sound, especially during the quiet night hours; it was like a bell that announced her presence. She snuck into the dark room and began removing whatever useless materials she could find. As Lucy bent over to pick up a tray, she snuck a glance at the new mother. She looked tired, but Lucy could see how beautiful she was. Her smile was glorious as she watched her husband hold their new son and rock with him, swaying the bundle back and forth by the window. It was always so odd to see such large, masculine hands holding something so small. What was even stranger was the natural tenderness in those hands. It was simply miraculous to witness that instant love between a father and child. “Isn’t it lovely?” the woman asked Lucy. Her voice was barely a whisper as she watched her husband and son. “I love watching new dads, but there’s always something about the beauty of a new mother that I enjoy a bit more.” Lucy winked as she allowed herself a small smile. It was hard not to smile at this new mother. “It’s like falling in love all over …” The woman’s voice trailed off with a small exhale. Lucy watched her eyes roll back. She quickly assessed the woman and saw that she was turning blue. She had never witnessed a human being turn such a color so quickly. She looked down at the woman’s chest, noting her shallow breaths and the odd pace of her breathing. Lucy backed away to the door. With her eyes still on the woman, she hollered into the hallway, “I need someone in here!” “Honey?” her husband asked as he stood with his son in his arms. When his feet could finally move, he frantically made his way to Lucy and handed her the tiny, bundled boy. “Here. Please, take him.” With the baby against her chest, Lucy looked into the man’s eyes and the world slowed around her. They were the greenest eyes she had ever seen, and in that moment they were piercing into her with such urgency that she nearly lost her breath. Within seconds, Nurse Knight raced into the room with Grace hot on her trail. She looked down at the baby in Lucy’s arms and shook her head, confused. “Not the baby,” Lucy said, her voice nearly a whisper. She pointed to the bed where the man tried desperately to wake his wife. Nurse Knight lunged for the bed. She moved quickly, but, as the seriousness of the situation set in, she finally yelled, “She’s crashing! I need a team in here!” “What’s wrong with her?” the father asked, his voice full of despair. “What’s happening?” “Sir,” Nurse Knight began, “you need to let us do our jobs.” “My wife—” “Mr. Mathews, please step back,” Nurse Knight ordered again, and began compressions on the woman’s chest. “We need to tube her and bag her, now!” she yelled. Grace leapt into action, her natural instincts kicking in full throttle. She said nothing as she handed a tube and bag to Nurse Knight, who placed the tube down the woman’s throat and thrust the bag into place without hesitation. The piercing alarms sounded, causing Lucy to jump. The intercom in the hallway blasted: Code blue. Code blue. Second floor. Room 2-2-6. Code blue. Code blue. Second floor. Room 2-2-6. Within seconds, the room filled with people checking machines and shouting things at the new mother. The room was a whirlwind of commotion, taking over Lucy’s entire thought process. Lucy looked down at the tiny, pink face below her. The baby was sleeping, completely unaware of the chaos going on around him. She gently bounced him in her arms and felt the tears well in her eyes. She had never heard Nurse Knight’s voice so panicky and, if she had to guess, this was not going to end happily. As the room began to fill and the defibrillator cart was rushed in, Lucy snuck out into the hallway and moved behind the nurse’s station. She swayed from side to side and held the baby tighter in her arms while she looked into the room and waited for the doctor to say the words she prayed weren’t coming. Lucy knew what this all meant. Code Blue: she isn’t breathing. Code Blue: everyone who can, get your asses up here and help—a patient is dying. The intercom above her gave a final call: Code blue. Code blue. Second floor. Room 2-2-6. And then everything just stopped. It was only then that Lucy was aware of the tears pouring over her cheeks. She gave a small gasp as the doctor walked out of the room, defeated, and ripped off his gloves. Behind the doctor, a sound she never knew a man could make erupted from the room. It was the most agonized sound she had ever heard. Had she not been holding the baby, she would have collapsed to the floor. “Meredith!” the man screamed in between gasps. “Meredith … Meredith, NO!” Grace emerged from the room and sighed when she made eye contact with Lucy. “Are you okay?” she whispered after she got closer. “Lucy, you’re white as a ghost.” Lucy shook her head, and carefully handed the baby off to Grace. “What are you doing?” Grace’s mouth fell open as she held the baby. “Lucy, there was nothing you could do.” Lucy wiped her eyes with her sleeve. “I can’t do this.” “Lucy, don’t …” “I’m sorry. I’ll see you at home.” With that, Lucy Dalton walked away, leaving behind everything she had worked so hard for and everything she was expected to be.
Other vendors coming soon.
Beyond the Orange Moon is a stand alone book but part of the interrelated Mathews Family series.