Baked With Love 3 (The Boardwalk Bakery Romance) - Excerpt


Chapter 1


Beep. Beep. Beeeep.
The high-pitched, constant noise emanating from the monitors and other various machines hooked up to Gemma was enough to send a sane person over the edge.
Beep. Beep. Beeeep.
Gianna sat in the room alone with her for well over two hours now, absorbing this earsplitting noise but not getting used to it. At least Gemma was stable again – much better than she’d been on Ramsey’s living room couch – and while she was grateful for that, she wasn’t happy about the inability to get any of her questions answered by the hospital staff. Why was Gemma’s temperature so elevated in the first place? It was a hundred and three degrees. Did she have an infection? Was this cancer-related? And when was her sister actually going to get a more comfortable patient room? They were still in the ER Department – in a tiny, matchbox room with a small patient bed and one raggedy, uncomfortable chair. It may as well have been a prison cell. But, at least Gemma was stable, right?
Gianna stood up from the uncomfortable black chair, stretched and popped her achy joints. She leaned over her sister leaving a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“I love you, babygirl,” she said, proud of herself for being able to say it without falling to pieces. She’d done that enough on the ambulance ride over while watching the paramedics work quickly to stabilize Gemma and bring her fever down.
Seemed like everything had happened in the blink of an eye…
One minute she was having the time of her life baking cupcakes with Ramsey, followed by a delightful morning of enjoying breakfast with him and his brothers. The next minute, Gemma had fainted. And Gianna found herself in the back of an ambulance with Gemma on the way to the hospital.
Now, they were held up in this tiny room, listening to torturous beeps of machines and whatnot that did nothing to ease a person’s nerves.
Gianna sighed. She wondered where Ramsey was. He was downright furious that the emergency medical technicians wouldn’t allow him to ride in the ambulance.
Allow him…
Knowing him the way she did, people didn’t allow him to do anything. He just did it, but the medical technicians had put their foot down and told him he couldn’t make the ride with her. She’d never seen him so angry, but she’d seen it this morning. He even threatened to hijack the ambulance and drive it to the hospital himself and he probably would have if his brothers had not restrained him, and it had taken all three of them to do so. Gianna had even assured him that she would be fine, but that still wasn’t enough to calm him down. Now, she had no way of contacting him to let him know she was okay. She was sure he was in the waiting room, probably fuming. In the haste to get to the hospital, she left her purse, cell phone – she left everything behind – and this excuse for a room didn’t come with a phone.
Gianna sighed and blew a frustrating breath. She could walk down to the waiting room and give Ramsey an update, but she didn’t want to leave Gemma’s side. She couldn’t. She’d just have to see him whenever Gemma was assigned to a patient room and could actually have visitors. For now, it was all about Gemma and getting her better.
She left another kiss on Gemma’s cheek then was going to sit down when she heard a disturbance in the hallway. That ruckus was Ramsey’s voice in an uproar yelling, “Fine! I’ll tear this whole hospital apart, brick-by-brick to find my wife! You don’t have to tell me where she is. I’ll find her myself. Gianna!”
One of the nurses tried to calm him down by saying mildly, “You’ll need to wait in the waiting area and then—”
“I’m done waiting! Done! I’ve been waiting, and I haven’t received an update on anything,” he said roaming the halls, taking it upon himself to find Gianna by glancing into every patient room as he walked by them, one-by-one. “Gianna! Where are you, baby?”
“Sir, if you do not return to the waiting room, I’m going to have to call security.”
“Call security!” Ramsey urged, “Because you gon’ need security if I can’t locate my wife. Gianna!” He took a few more steps and saw Gianna step out into the hallway.
“Ramsey?” Gianna saw the anguish, the disturbance, the panic in his stormy gaze when he caught sight of her. He walked quickly to get to her – to embrace her and hold her tight to his chest.
“Oh, Gianna, baby,” he uttered in a sigh of relief as he cradled her head into his palms. “I was going to tear this place apart looking for you.”
And then after the thunderous pounding of his heartbeats eased up a little, he looked at her analyzing her face, the puffiness beneath her eyes and the worry that had stolen her happiness. “Talk to me. What’s going on? How is Gemma?”
Gianna stared into his eyes when she replied, “They stabilized her and gave her some pain medicine.”
“Do you know what kind?”
“Morphine for now.”
“Okay. How are you?” he asked with concern in his eyes.
“I’m okay,” she said nasally. “I’m all cried out, Ramsey. I’m trying my best to be strong for her.”
Ramsey kissed her gently on the forehead. “Yes. You need to be strong for her.”
“But they’re not telling me anything, Ramsey. We’ve been here for over two hours and I still don’t know why Gemma’s temperature was so high.”
Ramsey’s eyebrows raised. “Have you even seen a doctor in here yet?”
“No, just a nurse and she’s not saying much of anything.”
“Okay. Don’t worry. I’ll get some answers for you. Go sit with Gemma,” Ramsey said peeping in the room to see Gemma lying in bed. “I’ma go down here and shake some things up. Be right back.”
Ramsey, already fuming from his first interaction with the hospital staff, grew even more irritated as he approached the nurse’s station. It was around the same time that he saw a security guard heading his way. Unfazed, he asked the first nurse who caught his gaze, “Who’s assigned to Gemma Jacobson?”
“Sir, we’ve already informed Gemma’s sister, Gianna, that the nurse assigned to Gemma has a heavy patient load at this time.”
“That sounds like an administrative problem. Why does my sister-in-law have to suffer because of this hospital inadequacies?”
The nurse seemed to be growing irritated. “Well, that’s the best we can do at the moment, unfortunately.”
“That’s unacceptable,” Ramsey scowled. “I need to speak with someone in charge. Now.”
“I’m the charge nurse on this floor,” that same nurse said.
Angrily, Ramsey hissed off her assertion. “You can’t be the charge nurse because you’re not doing anything but standing here throwing out a title but no one is taking care of my sister-in-law. If you’re a charge nurse, how about you take charge and do your job!”
“Is there a problem here?” the security officer asked.
Ramsey sized the guy up, and that didn’t take long at all. The man looked like someone’s grandpa and he couldn’t even stand up straight. He looked about five-feet-five. Maybe he’d appear taller if he wasn’t bent over. And that’s who they hired to be a security officer…
 “Yes, there is a problem,” Ramsey told him, “And I have no desire to relate it, yet again, to another person incapable of doing anything about it! Where’s the floor manager? Director? Get me somebody who can yield some results and answer my questions!”
“Sir, you need to lower your voice,” the security officer said.
“And you need to step back off of me,” Ramsey said, looking down at the man. “Don’t walk up on me like that, man.”
Palms out, the security officer said, “I’m not, but you need to calm down or I’ll have to call the police down here.”
“Well, you do what you have to do, and I’ll do what I need to do for my sister-in-law.” Ramsey stepped away from the nurse’s station hissing, “This subpar hospital should be shut down, anyway.” He called Carson as he headed down the hallway, defiant to the nurse’s and the security officer’s instructions.
“How is she, Sir?” Carson asked as soon as he answered the phone.
“She’ll be a lot better once I get her out of this dump. I need you to find the nearest hospital that’s four stars or better.”
“Okay, Sir. I’m on it.”
Ramsey glanced up at the nurse’s station, shook his head and turned to continue down the hallway to Gemma’s room. That’s when he saw a doctor walk into her room prompting him to pick up his pace to get there. Maybe now, he could finally get some answers.
As soon as he entered the room, he interrupted what the doctor was saying, making his presence known. “Hi. I’m Ramsey St. Claire.”
“And you are...?” the doctor asked Ramsey, peeping up from the top of his glasses.
“He’s my husband,” Gianna answered before Ramsey could say a word.
Ramsey looked at her. He’d never heard her refer to him as her husband before. Their gazes held for a moment as they silently reflected on this collectively, but their stares were quickly interrupted by the doctor introducing himself to Ramsey by saying, “I’m Dr. Tolbert, attending emergency room physician this morning.” He extended his hand to shake Ramsey’s.
After accepting the brief handshake, Ramsey said, “Dr. Tolbert, I had to commandeer my way back here after sitting in the waiting room for two hours. My wife said Gemma is supposed to be admitted, yet she’s still down here in the ER Department. We need some answers and we need them now.”
“Okay,” Dr. Tolbert said. “I’m the man with the answers, Mr. St. Claire.”
“Do you know the cause of Gemma’s temperature spike?” Gianna asked.
Ramsey took a few steps to stand next to Gianna, taking her hand inside of his.
The doctor blew a breath of frustration looked at the papers on the clipboard he was holding and said, “Gemma has pneumonia.
“Pneumonia?” Ramsey asked, frowning.
“Yes, Sir.”
“But Gianna just took her to the doctor. Nobody said anything about pneumonia, right Gianna?”
“Right. I mean, I did notice she had a cough but shouldn’t the doctor have known she had something as serious and as deadly as pneumonia?”
“In my professional opinion, yes, but let me be honest with you—pneumonia is difficult to detect with lung cancer patients. I’m not defending her doctor. I’m just stating facts here.”
“It’s difficult to detect, but yet, you detected it,” Ramsey said.
“Yes. Because of her elevated temperature, I performed a chest X-ray.”
Ramsey looked at Gianna and asked, “Did Gemma’s regular doctor not do a chest X-ray?”
“No, he didn’t. I guess I should’ve known to ask—”
“No, you’re not blaming yourself for this, baby,” Ramsey told her. “You’re not a doctor.”
“Who does Gemma normally see?” Dr. Tolbert asked.
“Dr. Willoughby,” Gianna answered.
Ramsey’s brows nearly snapped together when he recalled the name from prior conversations he’d had with Gianna about Gemma’s condition.  Dr. Willoughby was the same doctor who failed to mention anything about surgery and other treatment options for Gemma, further confirmation that he only offered her what he thought she could afford – not what he knew could save her life. Leandra’s doctor followed the same protocol.
“So, what now Dr. Tolbert?” Ramsey asked.
“Well, we can treat the pneumonia with intravenous antibiotics. The nurse will be in here shortly to switch out IV bags. As for the cancer—”
“She has an appointment a week from today at the cancer center in Atlanta,” Gianna said. “She needs to be there, doctor.”
“Yes,” Ramsey said. “Those appointments are hard to come by as I’m sure you’re already aware.”
The doctor nodded in agreement. “In that case, we’ll treat her here for a week and I will personally coordinate efforts with her doctor at the cancer center. Has she had an initial consultation yet or will this visit be the actual intake?”
“The visit is for the consultation,” Ramsey answered. “According to their website, they will not admit any patients who haven’t had an initial consultation.”
“Okay. I know a few of the staff there. I’ll put in a word for her to get admitted right away, only with your permission, of course.”
Gianna’s eyes brightened. “You can do that?”
“I can, and I will,” Dr. Tolbert answered. “I heard you out there talking to those nurses, Mr. St. Claire, and honestly, Sir, things could and should be more efficient around here. I can’t go too much above the norm without getting ‘red flagged’, but I will make sure Gemma’s transition to the cancer center is a smooth one. Also, I’ll see to it that she’s assigned a room here for the short term. Give me fifteen minutes, okay?”
“Okay. I appreciate it, Dr. Tolbert,” Ramsey said then shook the doctor’s hand again before he left the room. Ramsey pulled Gianna into his arms once more and breathed a sigh of relief. “Everything’s going to be okay now, baby. It has to be.”
“I know. I’m just so scared, Ramsey.”
“Don’t be, baby. I got you,” he said, brushing his thumbs across her soft cheeks. “I got you.”



* * *


*The Boardwalk Bakery Series is a three-part continuation series. You must read these books in order.

Book 1 - Baked With Love
Book 2 - Baked With Love 2
Book 3 - Baked With Love 3 - Coming Soon