"Dr. Randall? Dr. Elizabeth Randall?" Pulling her focus from the patient chart in front of her, Elizabeth Randall snapped her attention to the tall man next to her. Anger simmered beneath her calm facade as she took in his brown hair and strong jawline covered with a hint of a five o'clock shadow. Under any other circumstances, she might have found the stranger attractive. Not now.
"Yes. I was wondering when you'd get here."
It was about time someone from Child Protective Services showed up. Mario Martinez-Alvarez had been at Agnes P. Kingfisher Memorial Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, just under two hours waiting for a caseworker to appear. The child's black eye and broken ribs had not been caused by a simple fall from a high chair. Mario's stepfather had been taken into custody and the mother had yet to be found.
Unlike some, Mario would recover, but each time a young innocent victim came through the hospital doors, her heart broke at the injustice. Children were precious. A gift from God that some people took for granted.
Not Elizabeth. Her fingers tightened on the pen in her hand until it became painful.
"Excuse me? You know why I'm here?"
"Of course. The boy has been transferred upstairs. Dr. Harris is his attending now." After signing her name, Elizabeth closed the chart and turned slightly so she could rest against the nurses' station. She took in the man's casual clothing—a dark blue Phoenix Fire Department T-shirt and jeans. In all her experience with CPS caseworkers, she'd yet to come across one dressed so casually, who didn't carry a briefcase or at least a notebook or day planner of some sort.
Maybe she'd been hasty in her assessment. "You are with CPS, aren't you?"
Uncertainty clouded his blue eyes as he shifted his weight. "No, I work for the City of Phoenix Fire Department."
"Oh. Sorry." Elizabeth softened her tone, feeling guilty for letting her bad day affect her work. It wasn't his fault her adopted daughter, Jordan, had developed another infection at her IV site. Crossing her arms, she gave the man her full attention. Concern furrowed the lightly tanned skin on his forehead. "How may I help you then, Mr….?"
"Blake Crawford. Blake William Crawford."
He spoke his name as if she should know him. He looked vaguely familiar now. If he worked for the fire department, it was quite possible she'd seen him bring in a patient or two, but they'd never been formally introduced. She'd remember meeting someone like him.
She grasped his extended hand, surprised to feel a slight connection. She shook it off as fatigue.
"Dr. Elizabeth Randall. But you knew that. I'm afraid I'm at a disadvantage here."
"I need to talk to you about my daughter."
"Your daughter?" No female children had been brought into the E.R. today and she'd already met the fathers of the few who had come in over the past week. None of them were Blake Crawford. "I don't believe I've met your daughter. When was she brought in?"
"Then I'm afraid I can't help you. Have you spoken to her pediatrician?"
"I have no idea who her pediatrician is. She doesn't live with me." He ran a hand through his short, cropped hair as his gaze darted around the area before it returned to her. "She's with you."
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