Full Scoop

By: Janet Evanovich
Chapter One




"Maggie, what in the world are you doing up there!"

Standing on her swivel desk chair, Dr. Maggie Davenport jumped at the sound of her nurse's voice. The chair pivoted, swung to the right in a half circle. Maggie said, "Eek!," and grabbed one of the shelves of the built-in bookcase, knocking off several medical books, including Gray's Anatomy. The tome bounced off her head. "Ugh!" Maggie winced as tiny dots blinked back at her like fireflies. The chair rolled several inches.

Nurse Queenie Cloud stood motionless, her mouth forming a perfect O. "You're going to kill yourself!"

Maggie tried to get the chair under control, but it refused to cooperate, twisting back and forth as though trying to dance to an old Chubby Checker tune. "Holy crap!"

Queenie bolted forward and Maggie reached out blindly, accidentally sinking her fingers into the other woman's cap of tightly wound white curls. "Let go of my hair!" Queenie cried. She caught the back of the chair and steadied it. "Get down from there before we both end up going to the ER!"

"It's not my fault you came in here and scared me half to death while I was searching for a reference book," Maggie said. She managed to climb from the chair without further injury, but her head was already beginning to throb.

"What reference book?" Queenie asked.

Maggie finger-combed her dark hair from her face, squared her shoulders, and tried to appear as professional as she could under the circumstances. "My, um, Encyclopedia of Rare Illnesses. If you must know," she added in her best physician's voice.

"Don't you go batting those baby-blue eyes at me," Queenie said, "and don't think for one minute I don't know what you were looking for. You were trying to find your stash, that's what you were doing." She gave a grunt. "You haven't even been clean for twenty-four hours."

Maggie should have known better than to try to pull a fast one on Queenie. At seventy, the woman was as sharp as the day she'd gone to work for Maggie's grandfather. Six-year-old Maggie had shaken the black woman's hand and promptly announced that she knew how babies were made. Queenie still treated her as though she were six even though Maggie had a medical degree and a thirteen-year-old daughter.

Maggie slumped. "Hey, I've been listening to crying babies and grumpy children for almost two hours straight without a break. I'm going through withdrawal here. You can't expect me to go cold turkey."

Queenie gave a huge sigh. "I knew this would happen. Okay, you can have one." The woman reached into the pocket of her white uniform, pulled out a Hershey's Kiss, and slapped it into Maggie's open palm like a surgical instrument. "Eat fast. We have a situation in X-ray and you've got patients waiting." She hurried out.

Maggie pulled the foil wrap off the piece of chocolate and tossed it in her mouth. She held it on her tongue and felt the chocolate soften and melt. She closed her eyes and waited for her endorphins to kick in. Endorphins were good things. Exercise and sex raised endorphins, too, but she hadn't exercised lately, and she certainly hadn't had sex. She thought about it a lot; boy oh boy, did she think about it. Too bad she didn't know anybody she wanted to climb beneath the sheets with even though she often went through her mental list of the men she'd dated since returning to Beaumont. Too bad she had to count on chocolate to do the trick. Maybe if she ate less chocolate the men on her list would look better.

"Dr. Davenport?"

Maggie opened her eyes and found Alice, her X-ray technician, standing in the doorway, peering at her from beneath chestnut-colored bangs that needed trimming and reminded Maggie of a sheepdog. "I'm on my way."

A moment later, Maggie stepped into the X-ray room where a tearful six-year-old Bobby Carmichael sat on the stainless steel table, still holding a wad of tissue to his nose that he'd bloodied after falling from a piece of playground equipment at school. Maggie had ordered the X-ray in case he had a fracture. In a chair nearby, his mother was giving him a pep talk.

Alice held a ten-by-ten undeveloped X-ray. "Bobby doesn't want an X-ray."

Maggie smiled at him. "What's wrong, Bobby? X-rays don't hurt. Have you ever had one?"

"At the dentist," he managed. "But—"

The three women waited.

"It's going to hurt if she tries to stick that big thing in my mouth." He pointed to the X-ray.

"Oh, honey, Alice isn't going to put it in your mouth," Maggie said. She turned to Alice. "You might want to carefully explain the procedure to Bobby."

Queenie stood just outside the door and motioned for Maggie, who joined her once Bobby had been reassured.

"Our all-time favorite patient, Henry Filbert, stepped on a rusty nail," Queenie said. "He's in Room One. Susie O'Neal has a bad cold in Room Two and Dee Dee Fontana is in Room Three. She brought the baby in for his six-month checkup."

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