Chase Hansen took a deep breath, pushed a hand through his hair, grabbed his camera bag, and filed out of the airplane. Twenty minutes later he’d grabbed his suitcase and was on the way to the hotel. Stifling a yawn, he stared out the window as the cab took him down highways and through a maze of city streets until he arrived at the hotel.
Looking at his watch, he swore and dug his cell phone out of his bag. He wanted nothing more than to check into his room and sleep for at least twelve hours. After spending more than thirty hours in the air and twenty-two more to finish what he could, pack, and arrange transportation back to Lagos, Nigeria so he could catch a flight to the US. Chase could still count the number of hours of sleep he’d had on two hands. None of it had been anything close to decent or restful. He had enough time to shower and shave before he needed to be at the hospital. A split second decision made by someone else and seventy-two hours later the only thing he was completely sure of was that the lives of at least four people were forever changed.
“Long flight?” the driver asked, looking at him in the rearview mirror.
“Thirty-two hours,” Chase answered scratching at the scruffy beard that had grown in.
The driver whistled and shook his head.
“Are there restaurants within walking distance of the hotel?” he asked, wishing he’d had more information. Almost wishing he’d taken his sister’s co-workers up on their offer. Almost.
“There are several upscale and chain restaurants all within about a ten minute walk from your hotel.”
“Any of them any good?”
“If you like that kind of thing,” the man chuckled and Chase joined him.
“Your choice?” Chase asked. He’d traveled enough to know that certain groups of people knew more about a city than the city leadership often did.
“There is a pretty good Cajun place fifteen minutes from here, a place called Louie’s.”
The man nodded and pulled to a stop in front of the hotel. Stepping out of the cab, Chase waited while the driver retrieved his suitcase. Chase handed over several bills for the fare and tip, picked up his suitcase, and walked into the hotel.
“You have a reservation for Chase Hansen,” Chase said walking up to the front desk. The phone in his pocket beeped.
Chase waited until after he’d showered and shaved before looking at his phone. He had a text message from his boyfriend Leonard and email from his long time friend Eric. Leonard confirmed his arrival time for the next evening. The email he saved until he had time read and respond to it. Dressing in clean clothes, he stowed his camera bag and suitcase, grabbed everything he thought he might need for the upcoming meetings, and hung the do not disturb sign on the door handle.
The hospital was a fifteen-minute cab ride from the hotel and Chase made a mental note to get a rental car first thing in the morning. Taking a deep breath, he walked into the hospital and asked for Doctor Sarah Jamison. Chase’s stomach clenched and knotted as he rode the elevator up the several floors to the neonatal intensive care unit. Making his way down the sterile hallways, he shivered trying to process and adjust to the differences between the clinic he’d been at days before and the hospital.
“I’m looking for Doctor Jamison,” he said approaching the nurse’s station.
“I’m Doctor Jamison and you are—?” a tall, athletic looking red-haired woman said looking up from a file.
“Chase Hansen, my sister, Kylie Hansen, was brought in a few days ago—”
“Let’s go some place and talk Mr. Hansen. Hannah, will you please call Detective Sanders and let him know that Mr. Hansen has arrived?”
Chase nodded and followed the woman into a conference room. He looked at the plush chairs and debated on whether he should stand or sit. Exhaustion swept over him and he yawned before sitting down across from the doctor. Chase listened as the doctor explained to him about his sister’s death and the emergency cesarean section done to save the baby’s life. The baby, a girl, was being kept in the neonatal intensive care unit to help her regulate her body temperature as well as help her lungs develop, eat on her own, and watch for infection.