Anywhere But Here (MM)
A Code Omega in a hospital is a bad thing.
When Dr. Chad Holstrom is paged for one, he expects the worse. Chad holds out no hope his patient will survive but he works his best to give the stranger a fighting chance. When John finally opens his eyes, one stolen moment opens up a world of shaky possibilities.
Found in a ditch on the brink of death, he wakes up to an empty head. With no recollection of who he is, where he’s from, or even if he likes men or women, he must get used to the name John Doe. When John finds himself falling for the Ebony doctor with the kind brown eyes, he is terrified that if his memories come back, he will have to let Chad go.
Will John be able to find out who he truly is? And when he does, will he have to choose between the life he wants with Chad and the life he was forced from?
Be Warned: m/m sex
“Code omega!” The automated voice screamed in English. “Dr. Holstrom, please report to the ER. Code omega. Dr. Holstrom, please report to the ER.”
The voice yelled the instruction in Marathi and Urdu before the hospital went eerily quiet.
The alarms began blaring.
“Code omega! Dr. Holstrom, please report to the ER!”
Dr. Chad Holstrom had been in middle of removing his stethoscope so he could get a nap in after a twelve-hour shift when the call came through. He merely dropped the medical device back around his neck and hauled his body off the cot. On his way out the door, he yanked a couple pairs of blue gloves from a box attached to the wall and booked it down the corridor.
It’d been a while since the small hospital in the middle of Jaipur, India had a code omega. That meant someone had lost enough blood for it to be life threatening. He hated those—the one he’d experienced was his first day on the job, and it was a girl who refused an arranged marriage. To her parents had not been impressed was an understatement.
It was hard to believe that was over three years ago.
He descended a few steps, slid his fingers into the gloves, then burst through a set of silver, double doors that swung both ways. The flapped loudly behind him, but he didn’t turn to look at them. In the ER he found nurses fussing over a man on a stretcher. Chad took a breath to steady his exhausted nerves and dove into the fray.
Three years and not once had he seen someone with so many life-threatening injuries. Even while he listened to what the nurses were saying to him, Chad was climbing onto the stretcher to kneel astride the victim to rip his blood-soaked shirt open. Out of habit he felt for a pulse and found one—very weak—but it was there. He then began checking the body carefully—but there was so much blood. It was hard to get a hold of any part of the victim without being extra careful. Chad couldn’t help feeling sorry for him, to know someone out there would do such a thing to him. What was this man’s story? Did he, somehow, deserve any of this?
Chad quickly silenced his thoughts and refocused on work. No matter what this man did, it was Chad’s job to save his life. Even if Chad couldn’t heal him, he had to try every trick he had and a few he would probably have to borrow from his best friend, to try getting the job done.
The hours ticked by. He’d have to call a few nurses from another floor to help with cleaning up the victim. They worked tirelessly, but the man slipped into a coma. That changed the game drastically. Before, he was muttering things that Chad couldn’t translate, even though his Urdu and Marathi were fluent. Perhaps it was a different language, and since their victim seemed more Sri Lankan than Indian, Chad assumed it was Tamil. When the chaos died down and he was left alone, looking into the battered, swollen face of his patient, Chad couldn’t help the breaking of his heart. It was obvious this man hadn’t fallen off a horse. He was beaten, deliberately. Someone, on purpose, had done this much damage to another human being.
Angry at the world and how cruel people could be to each other, Chad walked out of the small space, drew the curtain around the victim’s bed and approached one of the medics who’d brought him in.
“Do you know his name?” Chad asked in Marathi.
“No. We tried finding out, but there was no identification on his person or in the immediate area.”
“And his pockets were turned out the way we saw them?”
“Yes, doctor. We are thinking it was a robbery. But we are not sure. We did call the police, but you know how…”
Chad nodded, patted the sad medic on the shoulder and went back to his patient. He picked up the admittance papers and wrote John Doe on the line that asked for a name. For age, he guessed between twenty-five and thirty-five. Strange, with a knock to the head how a person’s life could be minimized down to nothing.
With a sigh, he dropped the clipboard into the bin hanging on the foot of John’s bed, then walked around to the side. He used his flashlight to peer into John’s eyes, but he was still under.
The machines around the space beeped and whooshed. When Chad first did his residency, those sounds soothed him. They gave him a sense of hope that miracles could happen. But as the years trailed by, and he had to listen to those sounds more and more, they lost their happy hope and filled him with a morbid dread he never thought was possible. At any time, those beeps and whoosh could turn into an alarm—then just like that, someone was gone.
Chad swallowed the lump in his throat, gave the patient one final look over, then left the space. At the nurses’ station someone handed him a clipboard with John’s results from the CT scanned he’d ordered on their unknown patient. The results weren’t the best, but they could have been worse. There was swelling in the brain—fortunately, no bleeding. That surprised him since there was major trauma to the patient’s head.
“I hear you have an omega.”
Chad looked up from the results at his best friend. Surinder Jothinda was a skinny man who stood sleek and well put together. From his slick back hair to the old-fashioned wire-rimmed prescription glasses that adorned his face, everything was immaculately thought out. His brown eyes had lost some of their youthful sparkle, but Chad figured it was the nature of the beast when one became a doctor.
He smiled grimly. “Yeah. A John Doe. They think he was robbed.”
“How bad is it?”
Chad handed over the results and turned to lean his back against the high desk. He crossed his angles and folded his arms over his chest. “I’m not holding out any hope that he’ll survive. The next twenty-four hours will be crucial. Take a look.”
Surinder accepted the paperwork and scanned them. “The swelling is bad,” he said, flipping to another page. “But at least the brain is not pushing down on the reticular activating system.”
“No. Not yet.” Chad inhaled deeply then exhaled his next words. “I’m going to keep a close eye on him. I want to get him a MRI when he clears the next twenty-four hours.” He leaned in to point to a few sections of the brain scan. “You see those?”
Surinder leaned in and peered at the results a little more intently than before. “Are those—lesions?”
“I’m not sure. They seemed fairly recent but not enough to be from the attack.” Chad rested against the desk again.
“And they do not seem to be DNA related. He was not born with these.”
Chad nodded his agreement. “So once he’s stable, I’ll get a more detailed scan. Hopefully, if they are lesions, he won’t have a seizure.”
“We can only pray,” Surinder said sadly. “A seizure right now will only make things a lot worse.”