Monday, March 16, 2009

"John Doe" Novella Now Available!!!!!

Featuring my novella “JOHN DOE”

Published by Running Press
ISBN-10: 0762436514
ISBN-13: 978-0762436514

“Fall in love with someone out of this world…
Let Alyssa Day, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jeaniene Frost, Cheyenne McCray, Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Vaughn, Anna Windsor, Allyson James Marland and others show you powers beyond your wildest imaginings.”

JOHN DOE by Anna Windsor Excerpt--Chapter ONE
Copyright, Anna Windsor, 2009

“Happy birthday to me.” My voice didn’t echo, but only because my office at Harshview Psychiatric Hospital was so small. I lifted my way-too-early-morning coffee to toast the institutional clock hanging opposite my only window, and wished the cinderblock walls weren’t quite so blindingly white.
“The big three-oh,” I said to nobody, and pretended like I was shaking a non-existent party noisemaker. The admissions nurse and aide were out with gastroenteritis, and the nightshift secretary was two months from retirement. She showed up only when it damn well pleased her to do so. Which was never.
So, here I was, Dutch Brennan, celebrating a milestone birthday in New York City, all by my lonesome. Some things never changed. In my opinion, most things never changed. My father taught me that, along with a lot of paranoid things about how dangerous the world could be.
*Just when you think it’s okay, baby girl­boom. Here come the monsters.*
Then he’d put me through my paces. Sayokan. Turkish martial arts. I’d trained four days a week, almost every week of my life. If I ever met a monster, I was ready­but I guessed most monsters were scared of Harshview Psychiatric Hospital. I hadn’t met any since I came to work here just after residency and fellowship. Hadn’t met too many friends, either, which is why I was having a birthday at work.
My only gift to myself was a fresh-brewed pot of Starbucks Verona, brewed in the ancient pot down the hallway, and mixed with a packet of no-fat cocoa. At least the fresh, nutty scent competed with the hazy stink of orange cleanser, bleach, and old-stone-building mold. The rich perfection of chocolate-spiked coffee flooded my mouth and warmed my throat as I leaned back against my rattletrap wooden desk, careful not to bump my computer monitor or topple the stacks of last week’s paperwork.
“Maybe I should buy myself a condo someplace warm, like Malibu,” I told the clock, which silently informed me that it was 3:00 am, and I still had four boring hours to survive before I got to slog through the snow to get home. But the condo idea­maybe that did have some merit. After all, I was a doctor. And I had dark hair and kind of naturally tanned skin.
“But I’m too full-figured to fit in with the beach bunnies,” I admitted to the clock. “I’d probably never score a date in Malibu.”
Like I ever gave myself a chance to get a date in New York City, either. How long had it been since I’d done something other than work the nightshift, then hit the gym? Four years? Five? The back buzzer blasted through the cool silence of the entire admissions area. I jumped so hard my coffee almost sloshed onto the sleeve of my lab coat.
*Oh, great.*
My heart thumped high in my chest, like it was thinking about making a break for my throat. Nobody but the NYPD ever came to the back door, and they probably had patient drop-off. I stepped out of my office and blinked at the darkened admission hallway. Even though there were five floors full of patients and nurses and aides above my head, ground-level was totally deserted.
What if the cops had brought me Godzilla on Crack?
I glanced at the phone on my desk and reluctantly killed what was left of my coffee and threw the cup in the trash.
No big deal.
If I was uncomfortable with the patient, I could always ask the officers to stay for coffee while I completed my evaluation. If things got really hairy, I could call up to the patient floors and get some help.
For now, this was just more of the same. Probably nothing I couldn’t handle on my own, like I did everything else.
I walked out of my office into the admissions hallway and covered the forty-foot distance to the back door as quickly as I could. Outside, I figured I’d find uniformed officers, and probably some poor homeless man or woman in handcuffs and blanket, sporting a wicked-evil case of frostbite on toes and fingers. Definitely the season for that. Had to expect it.
When I hit the intercom button, a gruff voice said, “NYPD. We got an evaluation for you, Doc.”
The metal handle was ice-cold when I gripped it and pulled open the door to reveal the two uniforms I expected, and­
Okay, so this, I didn’t expect.
“We found this guy wandering on the Triborough Bridge just before midnight.” The officer’s voice barely penetrated my consciousness as I stared at the “patient” standing between the two officers. “Central Emergency stitched him up­said it looks like he chopped himself up with a couple of Ginsu blades. Self-inflicted wounds. He hasn’t said a word since the paramedics scooped him up.”
I stood there, just as mute. Medical school, residency, and five years of on-the-job experience at Harshview, and I’d never seen anything like this guy.
The man­ John Doe for now ­looked like a cross between an extreme bodybuilder and a knight from some book of medieval tales. He stood quietly, no cuffs or restraints, arms folded across his broad, bare chest. Silky black curls brushed the edges of his tanned face. He was barefoot and naked from the waist up, clad only in bloodied jeans that hung in tatters against long, powerful legs.
Way too long since I’d had a date. Yep. The flutters in my belly­ definitely not okay. This was a patient, not some muscle hunk showing off in the gym.
Though if more muscle hunks at the gym looked like this. . . .
*Stop it.*
My eyes traveled over each well-cut line and bulge.
John Doe’s eyes, molten emeralds, fixed on me, and my pulse quickened. The air stirred, then hummed, and I could have sworn he was radiating some kind of­of power. I could almost see it, like the moonlit darkness shimmering against the office’s only window.
*Good God, I’m as crazy as he is.*
My heartbeat slowed, then revved again, this time with a funny skippy-squeezing beat, and I couldn’t seem to get a full breath. No man could be this handsome. The sight of him was actually rattling my senses. And the power thing, that had to be in my head. In my imagination. John Doe was a patient. No supernatural abilities.
*But if anyone on Earth really does have superhero powers, this would be the guy.*
“Weird that he doesn’t have any visible frostbite,” the second officer was saying during my mute assessment. “Guess he got lucky.”
Doing all I could to make myself be a doctor instead of a slack-jawed idiot, I inched back to allow the officers to escort the patient into Harshview’s admissions hallway.
Those eyes.
I could barely look anywhere else. I could dive into those eyes and swim for hours. My fingers curled. I could not have thoughts like this about a patient. It wasn’t ethical. It was downright slimy. The man’s lips parted, showing straight, white teeth. He smelled like cinnamon with a touch of cloves, fresh, but not overpowering. Delicious, actually.
*Don’t. Go. There.*
“Tox screen was clear, labs were normal.” The first cop patted the patient on the shoulder. “Hasn’t given us any trouble.”
John Doe kept staring at me, like he was trying to decide something. His beautiful mouth curved into something like a frown, and he lowered his hands to reveal the design carved into his Betadine-painted and stitched chest.
My eyes locked onto John Doe’s cuts, and my brain made a whining noise. Seemed to short out completely. There wasn’t enough room for me to assume a proper defensive stance to fight, but my muscles tightened from years of drilling and practice. I wanted a weapon. Felt like I needed a weapon. Harshview’s admissions hallway became a twisting, bending rabbit hole, and I was Alice, falling forward and backward at the same time, exploding into some nightmare version of Wonderland.
One of the policemen . . . but I couldn’t shake off the five pounds of freak-out crawling up and down my spine.
“You okay, Doc?” The second officer sounded a little worried. “Want to come back to us, here?”
*But I don't like to go among mad people,* Alice remarked. My thoughts chattered outside my control, and I barely kept my teeth from following suit. *Oh you can't help that, said the Cat: we're all mad here.*
John Doe’s full attention remained on me, and those unbelievably deep eyes grew wider and softer with concern. I also saw him struggle for some sort of recognition, as if he thought he should know me, but didn’t.
“Oh, my God.” My voice didn’t sound like my voice. I really couldn’t breath now. I barely kept myself upright. My vision blurred and swam, and all I could do was point at the cuts etched across John Doe’s heart.
An odd arrangement of lines, like a phoenix in flight and on fire, burning to death as it screamed its fate to imaginary stars above.
I had seen it before.
I saw it eighteen years ago in Armenia, when I was twelve, before my American soldier father brought me to the United States.
The same pattern had been carved into my Mother’s chest the day I found her dead in our living room.

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Take care,



Michele said...

WHOA!!! You have definintely caught my interest :) Adding this book to my TBR list.

Anna Windsor said...

Thnx Michele.
I hope you enjoy!
Happy Easter.