Welcome to this month’s Charity Sunday blog hop. In case this is your first visit, on Charity Sunday we authors try to combine altruism and marketing. Each of the writers listed below is highlighting a cause important to her or him, and committing to donate a certain anount to that cause for each comment received.
Then we give you a bit of entertainment – an excerpt from one of our books!
I am dedicating today’s post to one of my favorite organizations, Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). MSF volunteers -- skilled doctors, nurses and other medical professionals -- provide critical health care in conflict zones, refugee camps, and regions suffering from natural disasters. Right now, as you might imagine, they are busy providing life-saving assistance to the sick and wounded in Afghanistan (as well as 87 other countries).
I particularly admire MSF because of their non-political, non-partisan principles. They do not discriminate with regards to whom they treat. I recently read this article about their current situation vis a vis the Taliban.
In my view, this demonstrates a level of ethical consciousness that the world sorely needs. Even in war, we all share a fundamental humanity. MSF recognizes this.
Anyway, I will donate $2 to MSF for every comment I receive on this post. Meanwhile, I have a medical-themed excerpt from my paranormal erotic romance Serpent’s Kiss.
She’s in love with a myth come to life
From the first, Dr. Elena Navarro senses that the mortally wounded man she discovers outside her rural clinic is no ordinary mortal. With his chest ripped open, Jorge Pélikal nevertheless demonstrates unnatural strength and power.
Elena is irresistibly attracted to Jorge, although he warns her their coupling could throw open the gates of chaos. As they grow closer, she comes to understand Jorge is a supernatural player in a cosmic drama that will determine the fate of the earth and of mankind – and that even if he triumphs in his apocalyptic struggle with his nemesis, she may lose him forever.
Reader Advisory: This book is not recommended for readers with a snake phobia.
When she opened the gates at seven a.m., several patients were already waiting to see her. Maria Arévalo’s four year old had severe diarrhoea. Old Humberto needed another cortisone injection for his swollen knees. Probably he should have surgery, but who in the poor village of La Merced could afford that? Two farmers came from Santa Colina, nearly twenty kilometres away, to get her opinion on an ugly rash that covered their chests and bellies. Three different people came by with chest congestion and serious coughs. Elena groaned inwardly as she administered expectorants and aspirin, wondering whether the whole community would soon be at her door suffering from the latest virus.
She didn’t even have time to breath until about noon. Consuela, her young assistant, tapped her on the shoulder as she was recording the details of the latest case in her notebook.
“Señora Doctora, you should eat,” Consuela said with a grin. “You can’t help your patients if you faint from hunger.”
Elena realised she hadn’t eaten for nearly twenty-four hours. “Heavens, you’re right! I think I still have some empanadas left from yesterday.”
Consuela held out a covered earthenware pot. “Luiz Garcia brought this over from his wife. Caldos con pollo. He wanted to thank you for your help with that his problem last month.
Luiz had come to her, shy and embarrassed, complaining of impotence. She diagnosed a urinary infection and given him antibiotics which, fortunately, had quickly cleared up the problem. If only all her interventions were so successful. She thought about Lupé Rebora, the thirty-year-old teacher in La Merced’s one-room school. She was dying of ovarian cancer. There was nothing Elena could offer except pain-killers and emotional support.
Consuela raised the lid; the mouth-watering smell of stewed chicken and vegetables made Elena’s stomach clench. “Let’s eat out in the garden.” She led the way to the fenced clearing in the back of the building, where a rattan table and stools sat in the shade of a tall xate palm. Elena breathed deeply, enjoying the scent of growing things that suffused the peaceful enclave. Insects buzzed in the sunshine, outside the circle of shadow. Birds screeched and chattered, hidden in the forest canopy. A flash of red and green zipped from one treetop to another. Elena smiled at the beauty that surrounded her. Despite its isolation and its poverty, La Merced had become her home.
Her assistant returned with a plate of tortillas and a pitcher of purified water. They ate quickly, without much conversation, savouring the hearty casserole but aware that the afternoon’s patients probably waited outside the door.
In fact, the afternoon load was light. Mirador Temar came for her eight-month prenatal check-up, her bulk perched precariously on the back of her husband’s rusty motorbike. Two kids that Elena didn’t recognise arrived with their younger brother, who had fallen out of a tree. The toddler had scrapes and bruises, but otherwise was unharmed. She sent him home painted with iodine and dotted with plasters.
By three p.m., the waiting room was empty. Elena thought she’d take advantage of the lull to catch up on paperwork. The clinic didn’t receive any funds from the government, but she was still required to make monthly reports to the Ministry of Public Health—number of patients treated, by age and gender; diagnoses; type of treatment, and so on. She wondered if anyone in the city ever read them.
Anger simmered in her heart as she filled in the forms, frequently consulting her log book. It didn’t matter how hard she worked. Her efforts made only the most minute difference in the lives of the poor peasants that she served. She had devoted all her resources to the clinic, desperate to make amends for her father’s atrocities, but the people of La Merced still died a decade earlier, on average, than folk in the cities. The government claimed to rule for the benefit of all Guatemalans. In truth, they were barely aware that places like La Merced existed.
She was sitting at her desk in the infirmary when the bell hanging above the front door jangled. What will it be this time? she thought. Measles? A broken arm?
The man standing in the waiting room definitely did not look ill. She hadn’t seen anyone so sleek and well-fed in months.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“Buenas tardes, Dr. Navarro. I hope that you can assist me. I’m looking for a man, a man who is seriously wounded. I thought that he might have shown up here at your clinic.”
Jorge? Elena surveyed her visitor, wondering how she should handle this.
The man was fair, with sandy hair and an aquiline nose that spoke of Spanish ancestors. His clothing was casual but expensive. Elena noticed the designer logo on his jeans and the gold watch on his wrist.
“I deal with dozens of patients every day. What does this man look like? What is his name?” Something about this character made her suspicious. Why would a rich man trek all the way out to La Merced looking for an impoverished farmer?
“He’s about thirty-five, tall for a native, but with typical Mayan features. He wears his hair long. He probably would have given you a false name. But you’d know him by his wound. His chest was slashed open, from his left breast almost to his navel.”
“That sounds terrible. I’d certainly remember if I’d treated someone with that sort of injury. Fortunately, I haven’t.”
The man’s eyes narrowed. They were so cold they made Elena shiver, but his voice was solicitous. “You’re sure? You haven’t seen him?” He smiled encouragingly, displaying sharp, perfectly white teeth.
“I told you, I don’t know anything about him. Who are you, if I may ask? Why are you so interested in this person?”
The intruder made another attempt at charm. “Ah, forgive me, Dr. Navarro.” He pulled an embossed business card from his shirt pocket. “Allow me to introduce myself. Teodoro Raphael Remorros at your service.” The address, as Elena had expected, was in Guatemala City. “Jorge—the man I’m looking for—is my younger brother. Well, my half-brother. I received some information indicating that he had been wounded in a brawl, not far from here. I want to take him back to the city to get the medical attention that he needs.
“Jorge is a bit hot-headed, I’m afraid. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble.” The well-dressed stranger sighed. “I’ve tried to guide him, to show him a better path, but he refuses to listen to me.”
Despite her misgivings, Elena thought there might be a grain of truth in his statement. Still, she didn’t really trust him.. She tried to return the card. The man waved her hand away. “Keep it, please, Doctor. If you hear anything about Jorge, I do hope that you will call me.”
“We don’t have telephone service in La Merced, Señor Remorros. All we’ve got is the emergency radio.”
“Well…perhaps I’ll come by again tomorrow. Just to find out if you’ve heard anything.”
“I don’t recommend that you do.” Elena put all the authority she could muster in her voice. “You’ll just be wasting your time.” The door bell tinkled; a young woman entered, dressed in a stretched T-shirt and dirty shorts, carrying an equally ragged child. “Now if you’ll excuse me, Señor, I must attend to my patients.”
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003VPX0XA/
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003VPX0XA/
Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7303723-serpent-s-kiss
Don’t forget to comment! Even the briefest hello means two dollars to support MSF. And please do visit the other authors participating in today’s blog hop.