Sunday, October 30, 2011

Start Here, Go Anywhere by Richie Hughes

Tour Date: November 2nd

When the tour date arrives, copy and paste the HTML Provided in the box. Don't forget to add your honest review if you wish! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST WHEN THE TOUR COMES AROUND!

Grab the HTML for the entire post (will look like the post below):


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Start Here, Go Anywhere

Charisma House (August 9, 2011)

***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Richie Hughes is the founder of Richie Hughes Instructional Camps. A dynamic and sought-after speaker, he formerly served with Jentezen Franklin as the executive pastor of Free Chapel Church in Atlanta and Orange County, California. He holds degrees from Lee University and Lincoln Memorial University and lives in Cleveland, Tennessee, with his wife and their two daughters.

Visit the author's website.


Start Here, Go Anywhere gives you the tools you need to make good choices and recover from the bad ones you may have already made. With moving stories from his own life—including losing his only brother to AIDS—and testimonials from former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz and Mac Powell of Third Day, Richie Hughes provides a fresh treatment of both failure and redemption.

No matter where you are today, with God’s help you can go anywhere. Poor choices in the past do not destroy your future potential to do great things. God loves you so much that He wants to transform your future for His glory.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (August 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616382112
ISBN-13: 978-1616382117


You Have a Choice

It’s choice—not chance—that determines your destiny.1
—Jean Nidetch

I like to win. All my life I have believed that if someone is keeping score, I should come in first place.
Growing up, I played whatever sport happened to be in season at the time, and I spent the better part of my
adult life coaching student athletes. I am very competitive in everything I do, and I realize that’s not always a good thing. I battle this part of my personality on a daily basis. Although I still love to play sports, I can’t quite do at forty-five what I used to be able to do at age eighteen. My baseball and football days are over, and my basketball days are numbered. So like many other men my age who strive to be competitive, challenging their bodies and minds in hopes of staying in the game, I play golf.

One day while I was playing golf with a friend, I found myself very frustrated. I was having a series of especially bad breaks. The ball just would not bounce my way. If you know anything about golf, you know it is a sport that requires a high level of skill but gives a low level of success in return. There are just too many uncontrollable factors that can influence the outcome of the game—wind, the speed of the putting green, and the distance of the putt, just to name a few.

Both my friend and I are competitive, and each of us wanted to win badly that day. Of course, he got all the breaks. He hit shots into the trees and yet they would bounce back out into the fairway like magic. Everything was going just right for him. I on the other hand was having no such luck. I made some great shots. They left my club perfectly and actually landed in the fairway, but that’s where my good fortune ended.

Partly because the ground was hard and parched from the heat of summer, my shots kept flying down the middle of the fairway and, just as they hit the course, would begin to roll farther and farther away from the mark. I’d end up taking long walks back to the golf cart to follow my errant ball, my frustration increasing with every step. One shot rolled through the fairway, through the rough, and splashed into the creek. I was annoyed, but I shook it off trying to focus on the next hole. Then, unbelievably, the same thing happened with the next hole. My shot went flying through the air, hitting the fairway beautifully; then it too began to roll off course until it landed in water.

I should have known I was in trouble even before I started the game. The golf course was named after a series of lakes, and indeed there was water everywhere. With each stroke, I became more and more upset, until I was boiling inside. My partner’s shots were going into the trees, then coming back out, hitting the cart path, and advancing another fifty yards closer to the green. Why him and not me?

I pressed on, my competitive nature not allowing me to quit or to just enjoy the game and the time I was able to spend with my friend. I didn’t care about the beautiful scenery or that I was fortunate enough to not be sitting at my desk wishing I could play a few rounds. None of that mattered because, you see, it was all about the win. Finally, after battling every force of nature and beyond, I finally got to the green. It was time to make my putt. I was thinking, “OK, let’s see the water mess this up!” I told myself that I have perfect form, perfect delivery, and I will make the putt. My nice, firm stroke sent the shot toward the hole; then everything seemed to stop as I watched that little white ball roll toward the tiny hole in the middle of the green. I held my breath as my shot rolled into the hole and spun around in the cup. Then the unthinkable happened. It made a U-turn and jumped out of the hole! I was living every golfer’s worst nightmare.

I exhaled slowly but then succumbed to the frustration I had been feeling all day. I tossed the putter so far into the woods I might have made the Guinness Book of World Records for throwing a golf club the farthest distance (I’m kidding). My competitive spirit really got the best of me that day. My putter is probably still somewhere in the woods rotting and rusting to this day.

Yet what happened next was probably worse than the horrible tricks my golf balls were playing on me. My friend said, “Richie, the cart girl’s watching.” I looked up, hoping against hope, but there she was right behind the green. The young woman’s cart was full of cold beverages for the golfers, and she had stopped so she wouldn’t disturb my friend and me while we made our putts. Unfortunately, she had witnessed the whole thing.

What kind of spectacle had I made of myself? What kind of example was I setting for this young girl or my friend? Everyone at the golf club knew I was in the ministry. What did my behavior reflect about my ability to control my anger? I hadn’t thought about any of these things when I was throwing my putter. I was only concerned that I had missed the shot. What had once fueled my success on the playing field had become a stumbling block. My competitive spirit, my desire to win had crossed an invisible line, becoming a weakness instead of a strength.

Have you ever made a choice you regret? We all have at one time or another. Some of our choices are merely embarrassing while others lead to more serious consequences. That day on the golf course I harmed my witness as a believer in Jesus before both my friend and the young woman manning the beverage cart. I could only hope it wouldn’t sour her view of Christians in general. Yet I know of others who have struggled with addiction, financial hardship, and even a life-threatening disease because of the decisions they made.

Our lives are shaped by our choices. No matter where we begin, our decisions each day determine where we will end up. We choose to get up every day and go to work or school. We choose whether or not we are going to eat certain foods or exercise. We choose whether we are going to smoke or drink alcohol. We choose what type of sexual encounters we will participate in and with whom. We choose our spouses and our friends. Each of these singular decisions has a consequence that is powerful and lifelong. Even decisions that seem insignificant, like what we eat for lunch, can have a profound impact on our lives and the lives of others.

Choices Have Power

In his book The 21 Most Powerful Minutes of a Leader’s Day, John Maxwell describes a law of momentum that is shaped by our choices. I like his observation so much that I have shared this principle repeatedly and even used it in a Bible study I led for the Atlanta Falcons players. Two years later the players were still putting into practice the lessons learned. Using the first four kings of Israel as examples, Maxwell explains that we can choose to be momentum fakers, momentum takers, or momentum makers. David and Solomon were the momentum makers. David was a great warrior who conquered territory that gave Israel room to expand, and Solomon oversaw great wealth and built a temple for the Lord to dwell in. Rehoboam, however, was a taker because he obtained everything his predecessors had worked so hard for and disbanded it in just a matter of days. And Saul was what Maxwell calls a faker. He had tremendous potential, but his insecurities kept him from being all he could be; his successors David and Solomon took Israel to the next level.

As I told the players, every day our choices determine what kind of momentum we create. We can be fakers, who have tremendous talent but allow insecurity and doubt to rob us of our effectiveness. We can be takers, who make foolish mistakes or don’t give our full effort. Or we can be momentum makers, whose decisions bring great success. This is the kind of person we all should aspire to be. When I presented this concept during the Bible study, I brought cards the players could use to track their progress. Each card had the word momentum written in huge letters, and beneath it the three categories were listed: faker, taker, and maker.

The players periodically checked in with me to discuss their growth in becoming momentum makers, and sometimes I’d call and ask, “Hey, what were you today?” The guys knew what I meant, and they were very honest. Some days they’d say, “Rich, I was a taker. I got a penalty because of unsportsmanlike conduct.” Or, “I had a bad had a great day. I was an encourager. Our team did well in practice.”

Every day when the players made the right choice, their decision affected not only them individually but also those around them, and it helped make the team successful. The same is true for you and me. Our choices have tremendous power to set the course not only of a game but also of a day, a year, even a lifetime.

Lessons From the Garden

I thank God for giving us the freedom to make our own choices. He is powerful enough to force us to do whatever He desires, but He does not function that way. God wants to be in relationship with us, not to have us respond to Him like robots. Where’s the fun in that? Whether it’s coming from a child, a friend, or a spouse, the words “I love you” aren’t nearly as meaningful when they’re not said willingly.

The power to make choices is a gift from God, but it is not one we should take lightly. The choices we make either lead us closer to God or pull us further away from Him. Author C. S. Lewis observed, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature.”2

The choices we make determine the people we become. Life would be so much easier if we realized this and lived our lives accordingly. A college student who doesn’t study for a test is likely to fail. A man who mistreats his wife shouldn’t be surprised when she is indifferent to him. A teenager who breaks curfew shouldn’t wonder why his parents don’t trust him. We need to heed the words of Galatians 6:7–8: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

This can be seen from God’s earliest dealings with mankind. He gave Adam and Eve a choice—to obey Him
and not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or to partake of the fruit and suffer the consequences. We all know how that story ended. Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to their separation from the intimacy they once had with God. He gave them everything they could possibly need, and He made a point to spend time with them each evening, but their rebellion cost them all of that. As a result of their disobedience, Eve and her descendants would suffer pain in childbirth, and Adam would have to toil to provide food for his family.

We are still reaping the fruit of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Romans 5:12 says, “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” Adam and Eve probably never thought their decisions would impact their descendants for generations, but that’s the tricky thing about consequences. We can’t choose them. We’ll discuss that point more fully later on, but suffice it to say that we have absolutely no control over the results of our choices, only on the choices themselves. This is why God sets before us one choice that is more important than all the rest.

The Most Important Choice

Christ died for our sins, removing the wall of sin that separated us from the Father, but our disobedience still causes us to live outside God’s best. Of the dozens of choices we are faced with every day, the most important one is whether we will choose to follow Christ. Deuteronomy 30:19–20says,
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your
descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you
may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.”

Although God gives us the freedom to make any choice we desire, His will is that we choose Him and His ways. Why? Because He is our life and the length of our days. Choosing Him is the only way we can spend eternity in God’s presence, and He is the ultimate source of peace, joy, fulfillment, and eternal life. He created us, and He knows what we need even better than we do. Jeremiah 29:11 says God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, ourselves will never match God’s best for us. It won’t even come close.

Sometimes we think we can serve God and still pursue our own ambitions. This too is a recipe for disaster. It is impossible to wholeheartedly love God and be attached to the world. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” When we attempt to serve two masters, our judgment gets cloudy, and we end up making faulty decisions.
“Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world.”3 —Anso Coetzer

This is because our choices will always reflect our values. When obeying God is a priority, our choices will reflect that. We will do our best to avoid making decisions that harm our witness or are contrary to God’s Word. I regret my actions on the golf course that day, but I know that if I weren’t committed to honoring God in all I do, I probably wouldn’t have been so embarrassed by my behavior. Nor would I have attempted to avoid making the same mistake the next time I was frustrated by my golf game.

I often think of the admonition of Joshua, whom God chose to lead the children of Israel after Moses’s death.
When Joshua was nearing the end of his own life, he gathered the Israelites together and prophesied to the people, reminding them of all that God had done for them. God had brought them out of captivity in Egypt, delivered their enemies into their hands in battle, and even gave them land for which they did not labor and cities they did not build.

You’d think that after seeing the Red Sea part and plagues of locusts and frogs descend on the Egyptians, the children of Israel wouldn’t want to serve anyone but the Lord. Yet Joshua didn’t make any assumptions. After recalling God’s goodness, Joshua gave the Israelites a choice that I believe God is extending to you right now. He said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

Richie Hughes and his house are committed to serving the Lord, but you have your own choice to make. You may have seen God move mightily in a family member’s situation, for someone at your church, or perhaps even in your own life at some time in the past. But you still must choose. You won’t be guilty by association. Will you follow God or your own rules? This is the most important choice any of us will ever make.

Choosing Christ will ultimately lead to eternal life and bring God’s blessings, but that doesn’t mean life will be easy. Not even close. I grew up in a Christian home with parents who loved me and my siblings and taught us to follow the Lord. Yet easy is the last word I would use to describe the journey God allowed us to take. We experienced heartbreak, and we cried many nights as we grappled with choices that would turn our lives upside down.

Lethal Remedy by Richard L. Mabry, MD

Tour Date: Nov. 1st

When the tour date arrives, copy and paste the HTML Provided in the box. Don't forget to add your honest review if you wish! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST WHEN THE TOUR COMES AROUND!

Grab the HTML for the entire post (will look like the post below):


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Lethal Remedy

Abingdon Press (October 2011)

***Special thanks to Julie Dowd (Abingdon Press) for sending me a review copy.***


Richard L. Mabry, MD, is a retired physician and medical school professor who achieved worldwide recognition as a clinician, writer, and teacher before turning his talents to non-medical writing after his retirement. He is the author of The Prescription for Trouble Series, one non-fiction book, and his inspirational piesces have appeared in numerous periodicals. He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas.

Visit the author's website.


An epidemic of a highly resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus luciferus, has ignited, and Dr. Sara Miles' patient is on the threshold of death. Only an experimental antibiotic developed and administered by Sara's ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll can save the girl's life.

Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.
Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late. What is the missing puzzle piece? And who is hiding it?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (October 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426735448
ISBN-13: 978-1426735448


No one knew the man’s name. White male, probably in his late seventies, found unresponsive in an alley about two o’clock in the morning and brought to the emergency room. Just another homeless derelict, another John Doe.

“Pneumonia, late stages,” the intern said. He yawned. “Happens all the time. Drank himself into a stupor, vomited, aspirated. Probably been lying in that alley for more than a day. Doesn’t look like he’ll make it.”

“Labs cooking? Got a sputum culture going?”

“Yeah, but it’ll take a day or two to get the results of the culture. The smear looks like Staph. Guess I’ll give him—”

“Wait. I’ve got access to an experimental drug that might help. Let me start him on that.”

The intern shrugged. It was two in the morning. He’d been on duty for more than twenty-four hours straight—why’d Johnson’s wife have to go into labor today?—and he was bushed. The bum probably didn’t have a snowball’s chance of surviving anyway. Why not? “You’ll be responsible?”

“I’ll take it from here. Even do the paperwork.”

“Deal,” the intern said, and ambled off to see the next patient.

Three hours later, John Doe lay on a gurney in a corner of the ER. An IV ran into one arm, a blood pressure cuff encircled the other. Spittle dripped from his open mouth and dotted his unshaven chin. His eyes were open and staring.

“Acute anaphylaxis, death within minutes. Interesting.” He scratched his chin. “Guess I need to make some adjustments in the compound.” He picked up the almost-blank chart. “I’ll say I gave him ampicillin and sulbactam. That should cover it.”

* * *

The woman’s look pierced Dr. Sara Miles’ heart. “Do you know what’s wrong with Chelsea?”

Chelsea Ferguson lay still and pale as a mannequin in the hospital bed. An IV carried precious fluids and medications into a vein in her arm. A plastic tube delivered a constant supply of oxygen to her nostrils. Above the girl’s head, monitors beeped and flashed. And over it all wafted the faint antiseptic smell of the ICU.

Chelsea’s mother sat quietly at the bedside, but her hands were never still: arranging and rearranging her daughter’s cover, twisting the hem of her plain brown skirt, shredding a tissue. Sara decided that the gray strands in Mrs. Ferguson’s long brunette hair were a recent addition, along with the lines etched in her face.

Sara put her hand on the teenager’s head and smoothed the matted brown curls. The girl’s hot flesh underscored the urgency of the situation. Since Chelsea’s admission to University Hospital three days ago, her fever hadn’t responded to any of the treatments Sara ordered. If anything, the girl was worse.

“Let’s slip out into the hall,” Sara said. She tiptoed from the bedside and waited outside the room while Mrs. Ferguson kissed her sleeping daughter and shuffled through the door.

Sara pointed. “Let’s go into the family room for a minute.”

“Will she be—?”

“The nurses will check on her, and they’ll call me if anything changes.” Sara led the way into the room and eased the door closed. This family room resembled so many others Sara had been in over the years: small, dim, and quiet. Six wooden chairs with lightly upholstered seats and backs were arranged along three of the walls. Illumination came from a lamp in the corner. A Bible, several devotional magazines, and a box of tissues stood within reach on a coffee table.

This was a room where families received bad news: the biopsy was positive, the treatment hadn’t worked, the doctors weren’t able to save their loved one. The cloying scent of flowers in a vase on an end table reminded Sara of a funeral home, and she shivered as memories came unbidden. She shoved her emotions aside and gestured Mrs. Ferguson to a seat. “Would you like something? Water? Coffee? A soft drink?”

The woman shook her head. “No. Just tell me what’s going on with my daughter. Do you know what’s wrong with her? Can you save her?” Her sob turned into a soft hiccup. “Is she going to die?”

Sara swallowed hard. “Chelsea has what we call sepsis. You might have heard it referred to as blood poisoning. It happens when bacteria get into the body and enter the bloodstream. In Chelsea’s case, this probably began when she had her wisdom teeth extracted.”

I can’t believe the dentist didn’t put her on a prophylactic antibiotic before the procedure. Sara brushed those thoughts aside. That wasn’t important now. The important thing was saving the girl’s life. Sara marshaled her thoughts. “We took samples of Chelsea’s blood at the time of her admission, and while we waited for the results of the blood cultures I started treatment with a potent mixture of antibiotics. As you can see, that hasn’t helped.”


Sara wished the woman wouldn’t be so reasonable, so placid. She wished Mrs. Ferguson would scream and cry. If the roles were reversed, she’d do just that. “While we wait for the results of blood cultures, we make a guess at the best antibiotics to use. Most of the time, our initial guess is right. This time, it was wrong—badly wrong.”

“But now you know what’s causing the infection?” It was a question, not a statement.

“Yes, we know.” And it’s not good news.

Hope tinged Mrs. Ferguson’s voice. “You can fix this, can’t you?”

I wish I could. “The bacteria causing Chelsea’s sepsis is one that . . .” Sara paused and started again. “Have you heard of Mersa?”

“Mersa? No. What’s that?”

“It’s actually MRSA, but doctors usually pronounce it that way. That’s sort of a medical shorthand for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that’s resistant to most of our common antibiotics.”

Mrs. Ferguson frowned. “You said most. Do you have something that will work?”

“Yes, we do. Matter of fact, when Chelsea was admitted I started her on two strong antibiotics, a combination that’s generally effective against MRSA. But she hasn’t responded, because this isn’t MRSA. It’s worse than MRSA.” She started to add “Much worse,” but the words died in her throat.

Sara paused and waited for Mrs. Ferguson to ask the next question. Instead, the woman crumpled the tissue she held and dabbed at the corner of her eyes, eyes in which hope seemed to die as Sara watched.

“This is what we call a ‘super-bug,’” Sara continued. “It used to be rare, but we’re seeing more and more infections with it. Right now, none of the commercially available antibiotics are effective. These bacteria are resistant to everything we can throw at them.”

Mrs. Ferguson’s voice was so quiet Sara almost missed the words. “What do you call it?”

“It’s a long name, and it’s not important that you know it.” Matter of fact, we don’t use the proper name most of the time. We just call it “The Killer.”

“So that’s it?”

“No, there’s a doctor at our medical center doing trials on an experimental drug that might work for Chelsea.” No need to mention that Jack is . . . No, let it go.

“Can you get some of this? Give it to Chelsea?”

“I can’t, but the man who can is an infectious disease specialist on the faculty here at the medical center. Actually, he helped develop it. Notice I said ‘experimental,’ which means there may be side effects. But if you want me—”

“Do it!” For the first time in days, Sara saw a spark of life in Mrs. Ferguson’s eyes, heard hope in her voice. “Call him! Now! Please!”

“You realize that this drug isn’t fully tested yet. It may not work. Or the drug may cause problems.” There, she’d said it twice in different words. She’d done her duty.

“I don’t care. My little girl is dying. I’ll sign the releases. Anything you need. If this is our only chance, please, let’s take it.”

Lord, I hope I haven’t made a mistake. “I’ll make the call.”

“I’m going back to be with my baby,” Mrs. Ferguson said. She stood and squared her shoulders. “While you call, I’ll pray.”

* * *

“Mr. Wolfe, you can come in now.” The secretary opened the doors to Dr. Patel’s office as though she were St. Peter ushering a supplicant through the Pearly Gates.

Bob Wolfe bit back the retort he wanted to utter. It’s Doctor Wolfe. Doctor of Pharmacology. I worked six years to earn that Pharm D, not to mention two years of research fellowship. How about some respect? But this wasn’t the time to fight that battle.

He straightened his tie, checked that there were no stains on his fresh white lab coat, and walked into the office of the head of Jandra Pharmaceuticals as though he had been summoned to receive a medal. Never let them see you sweat.

Dr. David Patel rose from behind his desk and beamed, gesturing toward the visitor’s chair opposite. “Bob, come in. Sit down. I appreciate your coming.”

Not much choice, was there? Wolfe studied his boss across the expanse of uncluttered mahogany that separated them. Pharmaceutical companies seemed to be made up of two groups: the geeks and the glad-handers. Patel typified the former group. PhD from Cal Tech, brilliant research mind, but the social skills of a tortoise. Patel had been snatched from the relative obscurity of a research lab at Berkeley by the Board of Directors of Jandra Pharmaceuticals, given the title of President and CEO, and charged with breathing life into the struggling company. How Patel planned to do that remained a mystery to Wolfe and his co-workers.

Patel leaned forward and punched a button on a console that looked like it could launch a space probe. “Cindy, please ask Mr. Lindberg to join us.”

Steve Lindberg ran the sales team from an office across the hall. Lindberg could memorize salient scientific material and regurgitate it with the best of them, but Wolfe would bet the man’s understanding of most of Jandra’s products and those of its major competitors was a mile wide and an inch deep. On the other hand, Lindberg had his own area of expertise: remembering names, paying for food and drinks, arranging golf games at exclusive clubs. No doubt about it, Lindberg was a classic glad-hander, which was why he had ascended to his current position, heading the marketing team at Jandra.

Wolfe hid a smile. Interesting. The President of the company and the Director of Marketing. This could be big. The door behind Wolfe opened. He deliberately kept his eyes front. Be cool. Let this play out.

“Hey, Bob. It’s good to see you.” Wolfe turned just in time to avoid the full force of a hand landing on his shoulder. Even the glancing blow made him wince. Lindberg dragged a chair to the side of Patel’s desk, positioning himself halfway between the two men. Clever. Not taking sides, but clearly separating himself from the underling.

Wolfe studied the two men and, not for the first time, marveled at the contrast in their appearance. Patel was swarthy, slim, and sleek, with jet-black hair and coal-black eyes. His blue shirt had a white collar on which was centered the unfashionably large knot of an unfashionably wide gold-and-black tie. Wolfe wondered whether the man was five years behind or one ahead of fashion trends. He spoke with a trace of a British accent, and Wolfe seemed to recall that Patel had received part of his education at Oxford. Maybe he wore an “old school” tie, without regard to current fashion. If so, it would be typical of Patel.

Lindberg was middle-aged but already running to fat—or, more accurately, flab. His florid complexion gave testimony to too many helpings of rare roast beef accompanied by glasses of single malt Scotch, undoubtedly shared with top-drawer doctors and paid for on the Janus expense account. Lindberg’s eyes were the color of burnished steel, and showed a glimmer of naked ambition that the smile pasted on his face couldn’t disguise. His thinning blond hair was combed carefully to cover early male pattern baldness. The sleeves of his white dress shirt were rolled halfway to his elbows. His tie was at half-mast and slightly askew.

Patel, the geek. Lindberg, the glad-hander. Different in so many ways. But both men shared one characteristic. Wolfe knew from experience that each man would sell his mother if it might benefit the company, or more specifically, their position in it. The two of them together could mean something very good or very bad for Bob Wolfe. He eased forward in his chair and kicked his senses into high gear.

Patel leaned back and tented his fingers. “Bob, I’m sure you’re wondering what this is about. Well, I wanted to congratulate you on the success of EpAm848. I’ve been looking over the preliminary information, especially the reports from Dr. Ingersoll at Southwestern Medical Center. Very impressive.”

“Well, it’s sort of Ingersoll’s baby. He stumbled onto it when he was doing some research here during his infectious disease fellowship at UC Berkeley. I think he wants it to succeed as much as we do.”

“I doubt that.” Patel leaned forward with both hands on the desk. “Jandra is on the verge of bankruptcy. I want that drug on the market ASAP!”

“But we’re not ready. We need more data,” Wolfe said.

“Here’s the good news,” Patel said. “The FDA is worried about The Killer bacteria outbreak. I’ve pulled a few strings, called in a bunch of favors, and I can assure you we can get this application fast-tracked.”

“How?” Wolfe said. “We’re still doing Phase II trials. What about Phase III? Assuming everything goes well, it’s going to be another year, maybe two, before we can do a rollout of EpAm848.”

“Not to worry,” Patel said. “Our inside man at the FDA assures me he can help us massage the data. We can get by with the Phase II trials we’ve already completed. And he’ll arrange things so we can use those plus some of our European studies to fulfill the Phase III requirements.”

Lindberg winked at Wolfe. “We may have to be creative in the way we handle our data. You and I need to get our heads together and see how many corners we can cut before the application is ready.”

Wolfe shook his head. “You say this drug will save us from bankruptcy. I don’t see that. I mean, yes, it looks like we may be in for a full-blown epidemic of Staph luciferus, but we won’t sell enough—“

Lindberg silenced him with an upraised hand. “Exposure, Bob. Exposure. If we get this drug on the market, if we’re the first with a cure, our name recognition will skyrocket. Doctors and patients will pay attention to our other drugs: blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes. Our market share will go through the roof in all of them.”

Wolfe could see the salesman in Lindberg take over as he leaned closer, as though to drive home his point by proximity. “We’re preparing a direct-to-consumer push on all those drugs, ready to launch at the same time we release Jandramycin.”

The name didn’t click with Wolfe for a moment. “I . . . Well, I’ll certainly do what I can.”

“Do more than that,” Lindberg said. “Jandra Pharmaceuticals is hurting. We’re staking everything on Jandramycin.”

That was the second time Wolfe had heard the term. “What—“

“Stop referring to the drug by its generic name,” Patel added. “From now on, the compound is Jandramycin. When people hear the name Jandra Pharmaceuticals, we want them to think of us as the people who developed the antibiotic that saved the world from the worst epidemic since the black plague.”

Lindberg eased from his chair and gave Wolfe another slap on the shoulder. “This is your project now. It’s on your shoulders. The company’s got a lot riding on this.”

And so do I. “But what if a problem turns up?”

Patel rose and drew himself up to his full five feet eight inches. His obsidian eyes seemed to burn right through Wolfe. “We’re depending on you to make sure that doesn’t happen. Are we clear on that?”

* * *

Sara leaned over the sink and splashed water on her face. The paper towels in the women’s rest room of the clinic were rough, but maybe that would put some color in the face that stared back at her from the mirror. Her brown eyes were red-rimmed from another sleepless night. Raven hair was pulled into a ponytail because she could never find time or energy for a haircut or a perm. Get it together, Sara. She took a deep breath and headed for the doctor’s dictation room, where she slumped into a chair.

“Something wrong, Dr. Miles?”

Sara turned to see Gloria, the clinic’s head nurse. “No, just taking a few deep breaths before I have to make a call I’m dreading.”

Gloria slid into the chair next to Sara. The controlled chaos of the internal medicine clinic hummed around them. The buzz of conversations and ringing of phones served as effectively as white noise to mask her next words. “Is it one of your hospital patients? Got some bad news to deliver?”

“Sort of. It’s Chelsea Ferguson.”

“The teenage girl? Is she worse?”

“Yes. The cultures grew Staph luciferus.”

Gloria whistled silently. “The Killer. That’s bad.”

“The only thing that seems to be working in these cases is that new drug of Jack Ingersoll’s.”

“Oh, I get it. That’s the call you don’t want to make.” Gloria touched Sara lightly on the shoulder. “When will you stop letting what Ingersoll did ruin the rest of your life? I can introduce you to a couple of nice men who go to our church. They’ve both gone through tough divorces—neither was their fault—and they want to move on. It would be good for you—”

Sara shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m not ready to date. I’m not sure if I can ever trust a man again.”

Gloria opened her mouth, but Sara silenced her with an upraised hand. No sense putting this off. She pulled the phone toward her and stabbed in a number.

* * *

Dr. John Ramsey found a spot in the Visitor’s Parking Lot. He exited his car and looked across the driveway at the main campus of Southwestern Medical Center. When he’d graduated, there were two buildings on the campus. Now those two had been swallowed up, incorporated into a complex that totaled about forty buildings on three separate campuses. Right now he only needed to find one: the tall white building directly across the driveway at the end of a flagstone plaza. The imposing glass façade of the medical library reflected sunlight into his eyes as he wove past benches where students sat chatting on cell phones or burrowing into book bags. He paused at the glass front doors of the complex, took a deep breath, and pushed forward.

There was a directory inside for anyone trying to negotiate the warren of inter-connected buildings, but John didn’t need it. He found the elevator he wanted, entered, and punched five. In a moment, he was in the office of the Chairman of Internal Medicine.

“Dr. Schaeffer will be with you in a moment.” The receptionist motioned him toward a seat opposite the magnificent rosewood desk that was the centerpiece of the spacious office, then glided out, closing the door softly behind her.

John eased into the visitor’s chair and looked around him. He’d spent forty years on the volunteer clinical faculty of Southwestern Medical Center’s Department of Internal Medicine. For forty years he’d instructed and mentored medical students and residents, for forty years he’d covered the teaching clinic once a month, and today was the first time he’d been in the department chairman’s office. He swallowed the resentment he felt bubbling up. No, John. You never wanted to be here. You were happy in your own world.

John couldn’t help comparing this room with the cubbyhole he’d called his private office. Now he didn’t even have that. The practice was closed, the equipment and furnishings sold to a young doctor just getting started. John’s files and patient records were in a locked storage facility, rent paid for a year.

He wondered how many of his patients had contacted his nurse to have their records transferred. No matter, she’d handle it. He’d paid her six months’ salary to take care of such things. What would happen after that? He didn’t have the energy to care. Things were different now.

For almost half a century he’d awakened to the aroma of coffee and a kiss from the most wonderful woman in the world. Now getting out of bed in the morning was an effort, shaving and getting dressed were more than he could manage some days. Since Beth died . . . He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs that clogged his brain. The knowledge that he’d never again know the happiness of having a woman he loved by his side made him wish he’d died with her. What was the use of going on?

But something happened this morning. He’d awakened with a small spark of determination to do something, anything, to move on. He tried to fight it, to roll over and seek the sleep that eluded him. Instead, he heard the echo of Beth’s words: “You’re too good a physician to retire. People need you.” He remembered that conversation as though it were yesterday. She’d urged, he’d insisted. Let’s retire. I want to get out of the rat race and enjoy time with you. Retirement meant the travel they’d put off, the time to do things together. Only, now there was no more together.

This morning, he’d rolled out of bed determined that today would be different. It would be the start of his rebirth. As he shrugged into a robe, as he’d done each day since her death he looked at the picture on their dresser of him and Beth. She’d been radiant that spring day so many years ago, and he wondered yet again how he’d managed to snag her.

He’d shaved—for the first time in days—with special care, and his image in the mirror made him wonder. When did that slim young man in the picture develop a paunch and acquire an AARP card? When had the thick brown hair been replaced by gray strands that required careful combing to hide a retreating hairline? The eyes were still bright, although they hid behind wire-rimmed trifocals. “You’re too old for this, John,” he muttered. And as though she were in the room, he heard Beth’s words once more. “You’re too good a physician to retire. People need you.”

Fortified with coffee, the sole component of his breakfast nowadays, he’d forced himself to make the call. He asked his question and was gratified and a bit frightened by the positive response. John dressed carefully, choosing his best suit, spending a great deal of time selecting a tie. He’d noticed a gradual shift in doctors’ attire over the past few years. Now many wore jeans and golf shirts under their white coats. But for John Ramsey, putting on a tie before going to the office was tantamount to donning a uniform, one he’d worn proudly for years. And he—

“John, I was surprised when I got your call. To what do I owe the pleasure?” Dr. Donald Schaeffer breezed into the office, the starched tails of his white coat billowing behind him. He offered his hand, then settled in behind his desk.

“Donald, I appreciate your taking the time to see me. I was wondering—”

“Before we start, I want you to know how sorry we all are for your loss. Is there anything I can do?”

Perfect lead-in. See if you can get the words out. “As you know, I closed my office four months ago. Beth and I were going to enjoy retirement. Then . . .”

Schaeffer nodded and tented his fingers under his chin. At least he had the grace not to offer more platitudes. Ramsey had had enough of those.

“I was wondering if you could use me in the department.” There. Not the words he’d rehearsed, but at least he’d tossed the ball into Schaeffer’s court.

“John, are you talking about coming onto the faculty?”

“Maybe something half-time. I could staff resident clinics, teach medical students.”

Schaeffer was shaking his head before John finished. “That’s what the volunteer clinical faculty does. It’s what you did for . . . how many years? Thirty? Thirty-five?”

“Forty, actually. Well, I’m still a clinical professor in the department, so I guess I have privileges at Parkland Hospital. Can you use me there?”

Schaeffer pulled a yellow legal pad toward him and wrote a couple of words before he pushed it aside. “I’m not sure what I can do for you, if anything. It’s not that easy. You have no idea of the administrative hoops I have to jump through to run this department. Even if I could offer you a job today—and I can’t— I’d have to juggle the budget to support it, post the position for open applications, get half a dozen approvals before finalizing the appointment.” He spread his hands in a gesture of futility.

“So, is that a ‘no’?”

“”That’s an ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ Afraid that’s the best I have to offer.” Schaeffer looked at his watch, shoved his chair back and eased to his feet. “Coming to Grand Rounds?”

Why not? John’s house was an empty museum of bitter memories. His office belonged to someone else. Why not sit in the company of colleagues? “Sure. I’ll walk over with you.”

As the two men moved through the halls of the medical center, John prayed silently that Schaeffer would find a job for him. With all his prayers for Beth during her final illness, prayers that had gone unanswered, he figured that surely God owed him this one.