Bloodfrost by Deidre Dalton is Book #1 in the Bloodline Trilogy.


Noel Gatsby's dreams take her away from the misery of her pain-wracked, disease-riddled body. The dreams become real when she awakens one morning to find herself completely cured. However, she soon learns her miraculous recovery comes at a price.

From Chapter Eleven


THE MORNING OF FRIDAY, August 13th, dawned hot and humid. Noel awoke early, a dull pain in her lower back making sleep impossible. The heat was already oppressive, forcing her to fling the blanket from her body. She sat upright in the bed, and then gasped. The sheet underneath her was soaking wet.

"Pim," she shook her sleeping husband urgently. "I think my water broke."

He raised his head, looking at her in alarm. "It's time?"

"The bed is soaking wet and my back hurts, so yes I think it's time." Noel didn't intend to sound peevish, but the pain in her lower body was accelerating rapidly.

"Steady, Noel. I'm here to help."

Pim assisted her out of the damp nightgown and into a pair of gray sweat pants with a white tee-shirt. "You stay here while I call for a taxicab," he instructed.

"Call Dr. Mintz and Madge, too."

"I know the drill."

Dr. Mintz met them at Faulkner Hospital on Centre Street, with Madge following shortly thereafter. Noel was placed in a small room on the third floor, where she was dressed in a hospital gown and given a cup of ice cubes. Pim sat next to the bed, holding his wife's hand.

Noel sighed with relief as another wave of pain subsided. Rivulets of perspiration covered her face in a damp sheen. "At least it's cool in here," she said. "I can't believe how hot it is outside, and so early in the morning. We'd all melt away if the hospital didn't have central air conditioning."

At that moment, Pim and Noel felt a low rumble shake the walls of her room. It was as if the entire hospital building trembled briefly, and then shuddered to a halt. The lights went out and the cooling flow of air from the vent over the bed stopped abruptly.

"Oh please no," Noel groaned. "Take anything away but the central air."

Pim stood from his chair. "Let me go find out what's going on."

Before he could leave, Dr. Mintz entered the room trailed by a nurse. "Not to worry, folks. Boston just had a brown-out. Our power is only off momentarily. The generators should kick-in any second." He pointed to a corner in Noel's room, telling the nurse: "Put the fan over there."

Noel watched as the nurse positioned a tall, oscillating fan in the corner. "When the generators come on we still have to conserve power," Dr. Mintz explained. "That means doing without air conditioning."

Before she could respond, another contraction took over Noel's body in a rush. She gripped the sides of the bed, clenching her teeth in pain. At that instant, the lights went back on and the fan started rotating in the corner.

Dr. Mintz came to the bed, taking Noel's wrist to read her pulse. "How far apart are the contractions?" he asked her.

She looked at Pim. "Three or four minutes, maybe?"

Pim nodded. "About three minutes, doctor. Are we getting close?"

"Most definitely," he replied. "I'll be back shortly, and then we can get started."

Madge came into the room after Dr. Mintz and the nurse left. She went directly to the bed, peering down at Noel with concern. "How are you feeling, sweety?" she asked.

"It hurts," Noel admitted frankly. "But I'm more annoyed by the god damned heat than anything else. That stupid fan in the corner is only blowing hot air around the room."

"Wouldn't you know it - Boston has a brown-out the same day you give birth," Madge said sympathetically. "From what I heard on the news, our power grid couldn't handle everyone blasting their air conditioners all at the same time. By the end of the day, we're sure to have some cases of heat-inspired road rage, don't you think?"

Noel's pain subsided once again. "What about the office? Did you get someone to answer the phones?"

"I called in a temp before I came to the hospital," Madge told her. "Not to worry, Noel. I don't have any cases scheduled for court today, so I'll be nearby for the duration."

"Thank you, Madge. I'm so glad you're here."

"Judge Minot and his wife are outside in the waiting room, too. I phoned and told them you were in labor, and they insisted on coming over."

"That's very kind," Pim said. "I should go and thank him." He leaned over and gave Noel a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'll be right back."

Madge dragged a chair to the other side of Noel's bed, sitting down and crossing her legs. "Miriam wants to throw a baptism party for the baby when the time comes. She knows you two want to have the child christened at St. Theresa's, and she'd like to have a modest shin-dig at her house afterward."

"She doesn't have to go to any trouble . . ." Noel began to protest.

"In case you haven't noticed, the judge and his wife have taken a real shine to you. They aren't pushy sorts, but I know they would be more than happy to celebrate the birth of your child. Don't forget, they are childless. I'd go with the flow if I were you."

"What are you saying?"

"Let them be generous if they want to be, Noel. It makes them happy. Besides, it can only be good for the baby, right?"

Pim returned to the room with Judge Minot and his wife in tow. The judge's words were almost immediate, meant for Noel's mind alone. "Not in…too much…pain…are you?"

"No more than expected," she thought, looking into the old man's eyes. "But I'm fine. Please don't worry."

"Hard…not…to," he smiled.

Miriam stood at the foot of the bed. "My God, it's awfully hot in here. Can't we do something about that?"

"Not until the brown-out is over," Madge informed her.

"Where's your mother, Noel?" Judge Minot asked. "I didn't see her in the waiting room."

"We decided it would be best if she stayed at the apartment," Pim answered for his wife. "June has such trouble getting around, and she didn't want to be in the way. Mr. Carter agreed to bring her over in a taxi once the baby is born."

"We can pick her up when the time comes," the judge offered.

"That's very kind, but . . ."

"It's no trouble at all," Miriam assured Pim. "We'd be happy to bring June over, and Mr. Carter too, if he wants to come along."

Another wave of pain cycled through Noel's lower body. She squeezed Pim's hand, who murmured soothingly in her ear. "Not much longer, love. Just think, in a few hours time you'll be holding our little Kate in your arms." He ran an ice cube across her clammy forehead, trailing it down to her cheeks and jaw.

"That feels good," she said gratefully. "More, please."

Dr. Mintz reentered the room, his tone brusque. "Okay, folks. Visiting time is over. Everyone but Mr. Grady needs to leave."

The next few hours were slow and agonizing for Noel. The pain ripping through her body increased with frequency and duration, the heat making her feel as if she was a turkey baking in an oven. At one point, she became confused and frightened. In her mind, she saw flames licking up the walls of her hospital room, reaching the ceiling in slow-motion curls.

"Do you see the fire?" she mumbled, directing her question to no one in particular.

"There's no fire, Noel," Pim tried to console her. "Your skin is hot, love, and the room is hot, but there is no fire."

"But I see the flames," she insisted stubbornly.

"Doctor?" Pim asked, concern in his voice.

"She's just having a mild hallucination," Noel heard Dr. Mintz say. "We put a bit of Demerol and Meptazinol in her IV, just enough to take the edge off her pain. That, combined with the heat, has made her slightly delirious. It's nothing to worry about, Mr. Grady."

Noel felt herself go in and out of conscious thought. Whenever she opened her eyes, she saw flames snaking up the wall, so she quickly closed them again. She held onto Pim's hand tightly, afraid to let go.

"I'm right here," he whispered in her ear. "I'm not leaving you."

Her head lolled back and forth on the pillow, which was now stained and soaked with her own sweat. The heat was simply unbearable, made worse by the relentless flames in the room. Why didn't they catch everything else on fire? What kind of flame simply curled up a wall but did little else? Or was the fire another omen?

"But we did all the right things," she cried out, her eyes still closed. "We went to church, we prayed . . . we've made plans to be the best parents on earth . . . we'll be loving parents, you'll see . . . what else can we possibly do to stave off such horrible evil?"

"Noel," Pim's frantic thoughts broke through her jumbled mind. "Everything is going to be okay. Please, believe me. Think about our beautiful daughter . . . think about good things . . . don't conjure up hellacious images in your head. You can do it, love. Think about our darling Kate; think about taking her home to the little room you created for her. She's ready to meet us, Noel. She's ready to come into the world and meet her parents."

"I believe you," she whispered out loud, opening her eyes to stare at her husband. "She won't be sour and tainted, will she?"

Pim shook his head. "No, she won't be sour and tainted. She'll be perfect, Noel. Our little Kate will be perfect."

Trust in his words filled Noel with relief. She closed her eyes again, squeezing his hand as another wave of pain bore down on her. It was the last thing she remembered for quite awhile.



BLOODFROST ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"Bloodfrost" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Bloodfrost" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.