Gabriel's Hope (Chapter One, page 1 of 9)

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Deidre rubbed her hands on her legs. The papery hospital gown was rough beneath her palms, the dark room too cold. She sat on the table in the exam room facing a line of backlit x-rays and cat scans on the wall. Gazing at the obvious mass in her brain, she knew the results were bad, but were they worse?

Impatiently waiting for her longtime surgeon, she pushed herself off the table and crossed to the desk, where a small folder sat. If its contents were like the reports she'd seen in the past, it would be full medical nonsense. She was able to decipher some of it after all the tests she'd been through. She flipped it open. The summary of results might as well have been in a foreign language with the medical terminology, abbreviations and sprinkling of what seemed like random numbers.

"Come on," she muttered at the file. Skimming it, her gaze settled on the last line of the first page.

When patient presents, inform of advanced deterioration of tumor stability. Recommended local hospices attached to report.

Hospice? They wanted to shove her away for the last few months of her life? Deidre closed the file, chewing her lip. Dr. Wynn knew better. Every week, he asked how many things she checked off her bucket list. She wasn't the kind who sat around waiting to die, not when she wanted so badly to enjoy every day until she was no longer able to.

Which would be soon. She blinked away tears. She didn't want to die. At twenty-six years old, she must've done something pretty bad in a past life to deserve this. Karma was a bitch, but it wasn't indiscriminate, was it?

Dr. Wynn knocked and opened the door. He was tall and slender with cocoa skin, dazzling blue eyes and prematurely white hair that made him appear twice his age. His features were heavy and roughly hewn. Though not traditionally handsome, he moved and spoke with a diplomat's grace. He kissed her cheeks and waited for her to heft herself back onto the table. Instead of seating himself on the traditional doctor's stool, Dr. Wynn sat beside her on the table, hands folded across one knee.

His smile didn't reach his eyes. It never had. She'd thought him cold and distant at first, until she learned his background. He was one of those medical prodigies that mentally existed on a level too removed for most people to follow. He'd stuck by her for over three years, though. It had to mean something.

"It's not good, is it?" she asked.

"No," he replied in the smooth, velvety voice that talked her down from hysterics many times.

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