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124 22 ~ Gina The duck pond at Forest Park was crowded with families recycling stale chunks of Thanksgiving bread, but Gina snagged their favorite bench. The patch of thin sunshine offered little warmth, and she tightened the fur hood of her parka. Enough of this. They would have to find an indoor lunch meeting place until spring. Gina’s gloved fingers fumbled with the cap of her thermos. When she looked up, Emily was picking her way towards their bench between the icy gray patches melting into mud. She looked exhausted, even more stiff and awkward than usual. “I’m so sorry about your grandfather.” Gina stood up to give Emily a quick hug. “How was Maine?” “All right, I guess. We had to rush back.” “How’s Zoe doing?” Emily brushed a crinkled brown oak leaf from the wooden seat and sat, balancing her lunch bag on her lap. “She’s okay. Coming home this afternoon, probably.” She turned to look at Gina then, her eyes narrowing slightly. “How did you find out about Zoe anyway?” “I called your house early Wednesday morning, hoping you’d left a forwarding number in Maine. I wanted to talk with you before I met Pippa.” Gina sighed. “I guess I was nervous about the Isis cult. Sam answered, said he was in your apartment to pick up something that Zoe needed for the hospital. A purple rhino, does that make sense? They were just walking out the door for the CT scan.” Emily pulled off the corner crust of her sandwich and tossed it into the pond, choked with dead lily pads. How could they have forgotten Rufus? Zoe couldn’t face surgery without him. “Are you upset that I told Pippa?” Gina took a sip of her potato soup, savoring the comfort of cumin. Emily didn’t answer, then nodded. “A little.” Ellen Meeropol ~ 125 Getting that girl to talk was not going to be easy. “I’m sorry. I guess it’s a reverse HIPAA violation, isn’t it? Don’t turn me in. What did she do?” “Skipped out on her house arrest rules and went to the hospital. She kept Sam company while Zoe was in surgery.” “That doesn’t sound so awful. What’s wrong with that?” Gina tipped her thermos straight up to get the last drops of soup. Emily’s voice grew stern. “I thought you were Ms. Don’t-get-involved when it comes to Pippa. She disobeyed the terms of her house arrest, that’s what. And I prefer keeping my home and work separate.” “I said I’m sorry, and I meant it. But, lighten up, Emily,” Gina said, shaking her head. “Let your friends help you out sometimes.” “Pippa’s a patient, not a friend.” Gina shook her head again, harder. “It didn’t sound that way to me last week. Helping a patient escape the law to participate in some cult ritual wasn’t included in the Nightingale pledge last time I looked.” “I was just thinking about it,” Emily said. She pulled an apple from her lunch bag and stared at it, then put it back and rolled the fabric closure tight. “Doesn’t matter anyway. There’s nothing I can do to help her, even if I wanted to. Which I’m not sure I do.” “Mind you, I’m not suggesting you go breaking the law for this girl. Though now that I’ve met her, I think I understand why she’s so hard to refuse.” Gina stood up, stuffing the empty thermos back into her shoulder bag. “Don’t go yet,” Emily said. “Stay a little. How are you doing? About Max, and everything?” “I’m okay. Thanksgiving with my crazy clan was good medicine. I was too busy to brood.” Gina looked at Emily’s tight expression and sat down again. “What’s wrong?” “Marge placed me on probation this morning.” “What happened?” Emily rubbed the bridge of her nose before answering. “I didn’t have any other choice about Mrs. Newman. So, before I left for Maine, I called her attending doc.” Good for you, Gina thought. “Marge was waiting for me this morning when I got in. Furious. Mrs. Newman was transferred to assisted living, so she’s off our caseload entirely. Marge doesn’t know what I did, but she put me on probation anyway. What does that mean?” “Probably nothing,” Gina said. “But why don’t you make me copies...


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MARC Record
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