He jogged up the three flights and yanked open the fire door to the eighth floor. The colorful cartoon characters painted on the walls proclaimed this the pediatric ward, so he knew he'd landed in the right place.

He cruised along the hallway until he found room 852. He might get kicked out of here, but Dr. Famosa should be able to smooth things over for him.

"Hello?" He pushed open the door and paused on the threshold. A pair of big dark eyes pinned him in a curious gaze.

"Who are you?" The thin boy, his skin dark against the white hospital sheets, raised his bed to study Jack more closely.

"I'm sorry. I was looking for Dr. Famosa."

A big grin split the boy's face and his eyes reflected the fluorescent lights in the room. "You just missed her."

"Oops, sorry." Jack pulled at the door, but the boy's voice stopped him.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure." Jack released the door handle and turned to face the boy.

Pointing to the flickering images on the TV in the corner, the boy asked, "Do you think Pretty Boy can beat Epic?"

Jack's brows shot up. He didn't figure he could answer any of the boy's questions, but this one had him at a total loss. "Huh?"

The boy aimed the remote control at the TV. "World Wide Wrestling. Pretty Boy Lloyd is fighting Epic, and Jesus, the orderly, thinks he can beat him, but I say no way, and Freddie the janitor is on my side."

Jack approached the hospital bed, creasing his face into a look of concentration. Something about the boy reminded him of Yasir, the boy who had put him on the right track in Afghanistan. "What's your name?"


Jack peered at the TV, scratching his chin. He studied the wrestler in the sparkly cape, presumably Pretty Boy, and the other guy in the black executioner-style mask. "I haven't seen them fight before, Eddie, but my money's on Epic, the guy with the black mask, right?"

Eddie smacked his thigh. "That's what I think, too. What's your name?"


"You're Dr. Lola's friend?"

"Yep. You, too?"

That smile stole over Eddie's face again. "Well, she's my doctor, but she's my friend, too. But she doesn't like wrestling. Says it's too violent."

A dark cloud passed across Eddie's face, and his hands clutched at the sheets.

"Epic is going to destroy Pretty Boy." Jack dragged a chair next to the bed. The bandage wrapping one side of Eddie's head and the cast encasing his left arm indicated Eddie had seen some violence up close and personal.

Eddie's face brightened. "Yeah, right? Jesus doesn't know what he's talking about."

Folding his arms, Jack stretched his legs in front of him. He could watch some of the match with Eddie and meet Lola back at Lesley's office. Or Lesley would tell her she'd given him Eddie's room number. The kid could obviously use some companionship, and for some reason Jack didn't want to disappoint him.

Eddie oohed and aahed over the wrestlers' fake moves, and Jack gave him a fist bump when Epic tossed Pretty Boy out of the ring.

A news break came on after the first round of the fight, and Eddie yawned. Jack trained his attention on the footage of President Okeke, the leader of a new African country, which had apparently gone through some recent turmoil. As he studied the president's beaming face, a shaft of pain sliced through Jack's head.

Then the fight came back on and the pain receded. Jack dashed a bead of sweat from his forehead. He didn't want to freak the kid out with one of his attacks.

"Excuse me."

Jack jumped along with Eddie at the intrusion of a heavyset nurse with red hair.

"Who are you and what are you doing in this room?"

"I'm watching Epic destroy Pretty Boy."

The nurse frowned as Eddie giggled. "And you are...?"

"I'm Jack. I'm a friend of Dr. Famosa's and I came here looking for her."

Clicking her tongue, she pulled a clipboard from the foot of the bed. "Dr. Famosa is in great demand for not even being on duty."

A whisper of anxiety touched Jack's flesh. "In demand? Where is Dr. Famosa?"

The nurse glanced up from the clipboard. "She was called down to the--" her gaze slid to Eddie and she dropped her voice "--the morgue."

Jack's throat tightened. The morgue. That was where Lola had thought he'd been stalking her. But it hadn't been him at all. She'd had another stalker that night.

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