Doctor Ana Santiago sunk into her plush chair, kicked her feet up, and closed her eyes. It had been a rather long and interesting day for the young Costa Rican-born doctor. She had seen Rain Rudkin a few times for thyroid and anxiety issues. Rain was hard to figure. She wasn’t sure if she was dealing with an intelligent woman who’d had some rough experiences in life, or if she was a ticking time bomb that could explode at any given moment. She supposed that although high-strung, Rain probably wasn’t dangerous to others, but she wasn’t sure about just how safe she was from her own self.
The police felt pretty certain that Rain hadn’t been involved in the shooting death of her husband. The real surprise had come when she learned she was staying with the endocrinologist that had treated her upon coming to the state after supposedly being stalked by an unknown woman.
She’d received the call earlier in the day from the specialist. She’d already known that their patient had moved in across the street from her and that she’d been referred to someone else; she just never would have thought Doctor Linden would have cared to take her in. Not so much because she had been a patient, but because of the extra baggage Rain carried with her after her experiences. Doctors didn’t expect perfection from people, and it wasn’t that they looked down upon most others, but Doctor Linden and Rain seemed worlds apart from one another.
She had tried to assess Rain’s mental state as best she could when she’d seen her. She was only her primary care physician and not a psychiatrist, so she wasn’t exactly an expert on mental health. She could only go by her gut feeling. She didn’t believe her thyroid medication was the only factor in what was making her anxious. She believed it may’ve been a contributing factor, but she’d had a nagging suspicion that there was more to it.
And then the doctor shared with her some things she probably shouldn’t have shared which Rain might not want her to know about. If Doctor Linden hadn’t been a highly respected doctor in the community, she may not take what she’d learned as seriously, but being stalked by an identified person after nearly being raped would put anyone on edge.
And now this.
The doctor had informed her that Rain had agreed to stay with her while further investigation into the murder of her husband could be conducted.
Doctor Santiago was pleased to know that Rain had someplace to go since she couldn’t remain in the home, understandably, which had been sealed off as a crime scene.
But she found the doctor’s tone and attitude a bit odd. It was almost as if the doctor didn’t sound as upset for her patient, former or not, as one might expect she would. If anything, the doctor actually sounded pleased with the fact that Rain would be staying with her.
But Doctor Santiago was concerned with her mental state just the same. The woman had been through so much in the last year and now she’d lost her husband in a rather brutal fashion. Doctor Linden had described Rain as quiet, withdrawn, and shocked, but otherwise stable. Or at least as stable as could be for one in her situation.
It was agreed that she would remain with Doctor Linden until other arrangements could be made and that she would notify her if any changes occurred that she might find a concern. The doctor, however, had informed her in a way that seemed almost overly confident that Rain would be okay with her, and that she would also have a neighbor stay with her during the morning hours when she was seeing patients.
Rain didn’t want to wake up the following sunny Saturday morning. As she floated upward toward consciousness, she kept her eyes closed and willed herself with all her strength to fall back asleep. But she was denied the right to escape into a sleep that would only be filled with nightmares anyway.
As much as she hated to do it, she opened her eyes and sat upright on the edge of the bed. Bright sunlight and the sound of chirping birds filtered into the doctor’s bedroom. Her head felt like it weighed a ton and she still felt exhausted, as if she hadn’t slept at all.
“How are you feeling, sweetie?”
Rain quickly turned to glance behind her. The doctor was lying on her side, facing her. “Shitty.”
“Can I get you anything?”
Rain flopped back on the bed, head coming to rest by the doctor’s midsection. “A new life maybe.”
“I know you don’t want to hear this and that you probably don’t believe it either, but it really will get better in time.”
“You’re right. I don’t believe it. That sick bitch is never going to be caught and made to pay for the things she’s done.”
“The police are doing everything they can.”
“That’s what they said back east.”
“But no one was killed in that case. Trust me, they aren’t going to take this lightly at all. They’re going to do everything they can to…” Julia stopped talking when Rain burst into tears. She reached out and patted her shoulder, but felt her pull away.
“I feel so trapped, Doc. Just totally stuck. I don’t want to go on living anymore, but I have to because if the cops can’t find the bitch that did this, then it’s up to me to find her myself.”
“They’ll find her. That’s what they do.”
“Not every murder is solved.”
“True, but many are, so just give them a chance to do their job. I called Doctor Santiago, by the way.”
Rain turned around and looked at her. “What for?”
“To let her know what’s going on.”
“Just in case you felt you needed anything to help with the anxiety and depression an experience like this brings. This way she’s up to date on the situation and can treat you in a quicker fashion. Besides, your name has been on the news, so most people have probably heard something or another about what’s going on.”
Rain wasn’t sure that she liked the idea of the doctor calling her primary care physician without consulting with her beforehand, but that was the least of her worries right now. Finding Troy’s killer was the number one priority. “After what I went through on Prozac, I’m not exactly in any hurry to take psych pills again, Doc. I mean yeah, I’d love to mask the pain I feel right now. But if I dope myself into a fog, I can’t focus on helping to see that Troy’s killer is caught and rightfully executed.”
“You don’t have to be in a fog, Rain, and I wouldn’t count on the killer being executed either. Caught, tried and convicted, yes. But I don’t know about executed. Most murderers don’t do life if even that.
Rain was silent a moment and then she said, “When this bitch is rounded up and convicted, I’ll slaughter any judge that doesn’t give her what she deserves.”
Julia pulled Rain against her and into a warm, snuggly embrace. Rain was surprised at the doctor’s strength. “Let’s just think of the here and now and take it one step at a time, Rain. Very important in times of crisis. One day at a time. You must remember that. First step… getting up, getting dressed, getting breakfast. The rest will take care of itself.”
“I don’t have any appetite,” Rain said sitting up. “But I’ll go shower and dress.”
“Okay,” the doctor said. “We’ll see if you can resist the aroma of my killer French waffles when you come downstairs.”
As the warm water pinged off her body a few minutes later in the shower, Rain’s thoughts raced from one extreme to another. She just wanted to shut down her brain and be swallowed up by a giant hole. She wanted to die and be reunited with her beloved husband on the other side if there was one. But she also wanted to find the sicko responsible for his death.
Since none of these things were likely to happen today, her thoughts then turned to the doctor. She didn’t know what, but something wasn’t right. The doctor was, well, a little too eager to help her. She knew she should appreciate it since most people probably wouldn’t give a shit, much less care to get involved in a murder investigation, but it was like the doctor seemed a little too pleased to have her around full-time since there was no way in hell Rain could ever live in the duplex again. In fact, without Troy’s income in addition to hers, she couldn’t afford to live anywhere. He’d had no life insurance policy on him or anything. She would now be on her own if she didn’t remain with the doctor, and she wasn’t sure she was up for that idea. Troy or no Troy, Rain hadn’t exactly felt right in the doctor’s arms. She was as flattered as she was surprised at how much Julia seemed to care for her, but Rain couldn’t see herself as more than friends with the doctor at any point in time, and she didn’t want to give her the wrong idea either.
She now had two tasks before her… to become self-sufficient and to find her husband’s killer.