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Olga Heinz has two loves-creating recipes and nursing. For thirty years, she clocked countless miles walking on every floor of the University Hospital. She mentored generations of newly graduated nurses and fed hungry staffers with her baked goodies. As she struggles with budget cuts and ever-changing hospital policies, Olga is motivated by a desire to help her patients, no matter what it takes. She encourages her student nurses to strike a balance between offering simple human comfort and applying the latest and...
Olga Heinz has two loves-creating recipes and nursing. For thirty years, she clocked countless miles walking on every floor of the University Hospital. She mentored generations of newly graduated nurses and fed hungry staffers with her baked goodies. As she struggles with budget cuts and ever-changing hospital policies, Olga is motivated by a desire to help her patients, no matter what it takes. She encourages her student nurses to strike a balance between offering simple human comfort and applying the latest and greatest breakthroughs in medical science.
Then one average day, through a series of accidents, Olga discovers a medical breakthrough-a shocking miracle cure that is deceptively simple, biologically complex ... and morally ambiguous. But she tempers her excitement with clinical, professional reserve. Despite her excitement, she knows that she can't share her findings with her peers, or the love of her life, Dr. Martin Hood, until she can verify her results.
Olga reaches out and finds a reluctant partner in Steven Whitters, a young orderly at the hospital. Together, they begin to test the healing powder on the unsuspecting patrons of a local homeless shelter-where forgotten and lonely souls seek the simplest of necessities and some small measure of human comfort.
But Olga and Steven are so absorbed in proving their potential miracle, neither realizes the terrible cost the cure will exact. Is it a miracle-or a curse?
The coconut rum was almost 40 percent alcohol, but with the inherent sweetness effectively coating her taste buds, Camille barely registered its potency. Stopping for yet another swig from the half-empty bottle, she continued to stagger down the hill toward the communal fire pit, her skimpy tank top, and form-fitted jeans already soiled from previous falls.
At least a hundred kids had congregated at the party, so with the music blaring from the portable speakers mounted in the back of a Jeep, very little could be heard over the general thumping of the bass.
Camille nearly fell flat on her face for a second time, and grabbed an unknown shoulder as she stumbled by, barely able to right herself until the very last second. When she finally reached the outer rings of the bonfire, she continued to trip over the empties and collected deadwood, literally bouncing off the dancing bodies as she searched for any familiar face. She'd come with her boyfriend Todd, and his buddies, Ramon, and Grizzy, but no matter how many trips Camille made around the fire, she still couldn't spot them. Tonight was the first summer party after high school graduation, and she was pissed off that she seemed to be spending most of the night alone.
She flopped onto the trampled grass, and dropped her shoulders in defeat, fixating on the rum bottle cradled between her knees. The reflection of the fire dancing off the walls of glass caught her attention, briefly blinding her to the two sets of legs circling her.
"Camille, where the fuck you been?" Ramon laughed, the first to drop down onto his butt, nearly knocking her over with the gentle nudge of his massive shoulder.
"Where's Todd?" she slurred, continually blinking her eyes as she attempted to focus on their darkened faces.
"Give me a shot," Grizzy demanded, reaching into the inner circle of Camille's legs, roughly brushing one of her denim-covered thighs as he snatched the rum bottle from her clutches.
"Damn girl, this shit's straight," he said, shaking his head. "But still good," he admitted, throwing back the bottle for another long pull.
"Give it back, it's mine," she barked, reaching up and ripping the rum out of Grizzy's dangling hand.
"I think you've have enough," Ramon interceded, inadvertently knocking the liquor bottle out of Camille's wobbly grasp.
"Fuck, there goes my rum," she mumbled. She clasped Ramon's shoulder in an awkward attempt to right herself, struggling to rise to her feet. "Todd has more booze in the car," she announced, struggling to turn and make her way back up the hill.
"I'll help you," Grizzy announced, moving to follow her back toward the parked cars winding along the gravel road.
"Wait for me," Ramon yelled out. "No way are you guys going to leave me here like last time—no booze, no smoke, and no ride home."
Camille accepted Ramon's helping hand, and allowed him to drag her up the hill, nearly falling twice when she lost her footing on the steep incline. "Where's Todd?" she asked for the hundredth time, still bothered by the fact that she hadn't seen her boyfriend for the better part of an hour.
When they finally reached the road, Ramon suddenly turned to shove his right elbow into Grizzy's ribs, motioning toward the two partially clothed bodies thrashing around in the back seat of Todd's car.
"Todd?" Camille called out in disbelief, lunging forward and yanking open the passenger's rear door.
"Oh fuck," her boyfriend groaned as he rolled off the naked girl laying in the backseat of his car, his rock hard cock popping out from between her legs during his dismount.
"You bastard!" Camille screamed, slamming the door shut before turning to escape into the darkness of the gravel road.
Todd scrambled to pull up his pants, finally jumped out of his own car, and shouted, "Camille!"
"She's long gone," Ramon shook his head.
"Find her," Todd barked at Grizzy, turning back to face the disapproving stare of his other friend.
Grizzy turned to follow orders, and began trotting down the gravel road, calling out Camille's name, peeking into car windows and open SUVs.
"Leave me alone," a familiar voice cried out in the night.
As he moved toward Camille's voice, Grizzy stopped to watch another inebriated partier try to entice her to join the private party in his car.
"I said piss off!" she shouted, leaving no doubt about her lack of interest.
"Camille," Grizzy called out. "Are you alright?"
When she turned, oncoming headlights suddenly illuminated her face. Camille began to sob, the tears rolling down her face and falling into the shadows at her feet.
"Come on, let's go," Grizzy sighed, throwing his arms around her shoulders and leading her back down the road.
"He was fucking her, wasn't he?" she wailed, stopping dead in her tracks as they began to near Todd's car. "I don't want to see him. I hate his guts, he's a scumbag loser ... and ... and he was fucking her," she muttered again through her tears.
After checking over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching, Grizzy quickly leaned in a pick-up window and snatched two beers from an open cooler, before gently guiding Camille off the road toward a grassy field, away from all the commotion. "Let's take a walk," he offered, linking the muscular fingers of his left hand through the petite fingers of her right.
Camille allowed him to lead her into the darkness, stumbling along at Grizzy's side. She tried to shake off the fog that threatened to descend down over her consciousness.
"Sit with me," he encouraged her, turning and dropping down to the soft clover of the farmer's hay field. Not so much out of interest as out of necessity, Camille joined him on the ground.
"Why not." She shrugged her shoulders, accepting the can and downing a large quantity of the chilled liquid.
"So, you gonna be fine?"
"He's such a jerk," she began to whimper again, her emotions raw from the fresh betrayal and over-consumption of coconut rum.
"It's alright, baby," Grizzy attempted to comfort her, slipping her right arm around her shoulder and pulling her firmly toward his side. "You deserve better. I've always thought you were too hot for a guy like Todd."
"Really," he nodded, his left hand reaching up and turning Camille's face in toward his own. "You could have any guy you want. You're gorgeous."
She laughed, and blinked, trying to focus on Grizzy's features when he moved in toward her face. When she felt Grizzy's lips pressed up against her neck, Camille dropped her head back and allowed him to continue nuzzling her skin.
"You're so hot, baby," he growled, his right hand sliding down the small of her back toward the gapping space between her denim jeans and her bare ass.
"Thanks," Camille dropped her chin, attempting to pull her head and body away from Grizzy's affections.
"What's the matter? We're just starting to have some fun."
"We should go back," Camille suggested, picking up her beer and downing another slug.
"Alright," Grizzy agreed. "But, can I have one kiss first?
Camille turned back toward her ex-boyfriend's lacrosse teammate, and was about to launch into a speech about how she wasn't ready to jump into another relationship, when Grizzy took the lead and pushed her back down toward the grass.
"I know you want me just as bad as I want you," he growled in her ear, as he held her down with his two-hundred-ten pound frame. "I'll never fuck around on you," he promised, while his left hand rushed up under her tank top, and cupped her naked breast.
"Please don't," Camille begged. "Don't touch me." She began to thrash underneath his oppressive weight, fighting to free her face from his slobbering kisses as her own long hair began to hamper her movements.
"What's the matter?" Grizzy continued with his attempted seduction. "We're both adults, and maybe what's good for the goose is good for the gander." His muscular legs pinned her lower torso to the ground.
"Grizzy! Get the fuck off me," Camille shouted, releasing the hold on her beer to reach up and push against the weight of his crushing chest.
"Shut up!" he barked back, pushing down his face to try to match his lips with hers.
When she suddenly felt Grizzy's massive hands pin her wrists to the ground, Camille fought with all her might to wriggle out from under his oppressive weight. It was a futile attempt.
In response to her struggles, Grizzy transferred both her wrists to his left hand, freeing his right to reach down and roam freely up the length of her entire body. He finally settled on the roundness of her left breast, roughly massaging the tender tissue with the brute strength of his entire palm. Grizzy finally pulled his mouth off her bruised lips.
"Help!" she shrieked, her muffled screams instantly drowned out by the pulsating music and vehicle engines.
"Don't worry, baby," he hissed in her ear. "This is gonna feel real good. I promise," Grizzy vowed, moving his hand down to the front pocket of his jeans.
"I don't want to have sex," Camille shouted up into his face; her emphatic statement just bounced off his glazed eyes and fell uselessly down past his ears.
"You've been waving your ass in my face all night," he reasoned, ripping open the condom with his teeth as he dropped his hand down to his own crotch to free his cock.
She was now fighting for more than just her personal comfort. She violently twisted her head back and forth, and spit in Grizzy's face, attempting to bite any soft tissue she might be able to reach with her teeth.
Grizzy responded by yanking up her multi-layered tank tops, freeing her naked breasts before forcing his hand down between their bodies toward the button on her low-rider jeans.
A wave of panic suddenly washed over Camille. The huge body of the athletic male pinning down her one-hundred and twenty- pound frame was real. And unless someone showed up immediately to rescue her, the impending rape would be very real, too.
* * *
Todd had been by his ex-girlfriend's house at least twice a week for the last month and a half. But Camille wouldn't relent. She didn't speak to him again after that awful night, or the morning after the party, and try as he might to apologize, she just wouldn't have anything to do with him.
"Please?" he begged the family's housekeeper. "I know she's out back by the pool, cuz I saw her sitting up on the diving board when I drove past. I just want to speak to her for five minutes. Then I'll go. I promise," he solemnly vowed.
After she finally admitted the young man into the foyer, the housekeeper went out to alert Camille.
Camille agreed that she might as well get it over with. She rose from her lounge chair and wrapped a towel around her slender waist as the housekeeper left to retrieve her guest.
"I'm so sorry," Todd blurted out the minute he was within earshot. "I don't know what the fuck I was thinking. I don't even know that chick's name."
"Whatever." Camille turned her face away as if staring off toward the pool house before returning to her chair.
"Do you think we have a chance?" Todd begged, reaching across the table to pick up her hand.
Camille turned to stare right back into his eyes, leveling a gaze that could have stopped a clock. "No!" she said.
"Well, I just wanted to let you know how sorry I was," he explained, pulling his hand back from her clammy fingers. "It's been kind of lonely. Ramon is working full-time at his dad's store and Grizzy is taking summer classes at his college."
Camille took a deep breath to calm the nausea rising in her throat. "Actually, I do need to talk to you about that night."
"I know. I was so blitzed, I shouldn't have been such an asshole, I should ..."
"Listen," Camille interrupted his rambling apology. "I'm pregnant, and I want to have an abortion."
They'd only been dating for two months prior to the bush party, and had only had sex twice during their entire relationship. Frankly, Todd was a little surprised that she would name him as the father. "I thought we were careful. I thought ..."
"I know," Camille cut him off again. "I'm not even sure you are the father," she blurted out just before the housekeeper arrived with a pitcher of kiwi-strawberry juice and two tumblers filled with ice.
As he reached for the pitcher's handle, Todd poured himself a shot, and downed the liquid while he scrambled to make sense of the conversation.
"Grizzy raped me that night in the grass field, while you were too busy banging that cunt you'd hooked up with. You didn't even care where I was," she began to cry, dropping her face back down into her hands.
"You heard me," Camille shouted back. "He pinned me to the ground and shoved his cock inside me while I screamed for help."
"Why didn't you tell me when you got back to the car?" Todd demanded.
"I don't know," she ripped a tissue from a box on the patio table before suddenly standing. "I was so mad at you, and hurt by Grizzy, that I just wanted to go home and get away from everybody. I just wanted to hide."
"Did you call the cops?"
"Yes," she quietly admitted, her back turned, shoulders still shaking as the tears silently rolled down her cheeks. "But they said I'd have to come in and fill out a full statement of complaint to make the charges. I couldn't do it anonymously. But I can't go public," Camille stopped to blow her nose. "My dad would freak."
Nodding his head, Todd rose from his chair and stepped around the table to face Camille. "Do you want me to go with you to the cops today?"
"No, I just want to get rid of it." She dropped her gaze to the tiled patio, sneaking a peek at the flatness of her stomach on the way down. "It costs about $900 at Planned Parenthood, but I don't want to go there. They have protestors and reporters outside. No one can know about this. I want to go to a normal hospital, and it costs about $2,000. Can you help me out?"
"Yes, sure, you know I will," Todd continued to stumble. "But Grizzy, he brags about being the King of Rubber. You know, he always has condoms in his car, his locker, his gym bag."
"I guess it ripped when he was struggling or something. I don't know," she cried again. "All I know is that I'm pregnant, and unless someone helps me raise the two grand, I'm really fucked."
"I'll get it," Todd promised, not exactly sure how, but confident that he'd be able to find a way.
* * *
The drive had only been three hours long, but the cramp in Todd's neck and lower back made him feel as if he'd been on the road for days. Following the handwritten instructions scrawled on the map from Grizzy's mom, Todd made his way up the two flights of stairs and stood outside the door of his buddy's dorm room.
"Looking for me?" Grizzy called out, strolling down the hall with a girl in tow.
"Yes," Todd simply stated.
"I'll stop by later," Grizzy whispered to his companion, patting her on the ass as she turned and made her way down the opposing hall.
"Why didn't you call me and let me know you were coming down? You could have brought up a shitload of stuff I forgot," he casually chided his childhood friend, before turning to open the door to his room.
"I hadn't really planned this," Todd mumbled, following Grizzy into his messy quarters. "I just needed to talk to you."
"Forgot how to punch a number in your cell?" he teased.
"Listen," Todd started in, unwilling to continue with the casual banter. "Did you have sex with Camille at the bush party back in June?"
"Grizz, don't fuck around. Just answer the goddamn question!" Todd demanded, kicking a pile of dirty clothes out of his path.
"Well, we were both really drunk."
"Did you get a little rough, maybe force yourself on her?"
Grizzy leaned down and grabbed two cans of soda from his mini-fridge, throwing one in Todd's general direction, without even asking if he was thirsty. "Look man, I didn't do anything illegal. And if she says different, she's messing with your head."
"Save it," Todd barked. "She's not going to the cops, but she's pregnant and wants an abortion."
"Fuck me," Grizzy moaned, dropping onto his bed. "I can't be the father, I used a rubber," he argued in his own defense.
"So did I," Todd added. "But it's either you or me, so I figure we're each going to cough up half. That's a thousand bucks a piece."
"Like shit I'm going to blow a grand when there's a fifty-fifty chance I'm not even the father," Grizzy argued back, rising from his bed to open up his can.
"Fine," Todd conceded. "Camille can let the cops decide who's responsible. They can do a little DNA testing for paternity, and ..."
"A check okay? Cuz I don't keep that much cash around in a place like this."
"A check will do," Todd nodded, as Grizzy yanked his wallet from his desk drawer and began to scribble an amount on the blank check.
Olga Heinz turned the dial on her stove, and set the oven to three-hundred and twenty-five degrees, just the desired temperature for baking cookies. She loved to be in the kitchen, developing and testing new recipes, but unfortunately living alone, no one was home to share in her creations. So every couple of days, Olga boxed up her newest offerings and carted them off to the hospital staff lounge, leaving them out for whoever was interested. Nursing, cleaning, and general hospital staff alike all partook of her goodies; everyone but the doctors who were intentionally sequestered in their own private lounge. Tomorrow morning, everyone would be treated to peanut butter cookies, assuming they first passed Olga's own taste test.
After digging through her cupboards and refrigerator, she began assembling all the ingredients; even before cracking open the first egg. Satisfied that she had everything she needed, Olga turned on her kitchen radio and began to bake. Starting with a large plastic bowl, she dumped in half a cup of room-temperature crunchy peanut butter, one cup of soft, spreadable margarine, and one cup of a white sugar mixture instead of the usual brown sugar. Then Olga took a deep breath and began to make her adjustments.
She'd been working on writing An Everyday Cookbook for years. She wasn't a young woman, so before her retirement from the hospital, Olga planned to finish her pet-project. Over the years, she had tirelessly compiled a collection of recipes for lower-income families who might not have many of the usual ingredients listed in all the generally accepted cookbooks. Olga knew that cooking from scratch was much cheaper than buying many prepared foods, but if you had to spend extra money on special ingredients, then there would be no savings.
There were two different ways to replace a cup of brown sugar in baking recipes. With a previous batch of cookies, she had tried the first method, using one cup of white sugar with a teaspoon of molasses on top. This time she substituted a quarter cup of pancake syrup and three quarters of a cup of white sugar instead of the more costly brown sugar. With a table fork, she began beating the margarine, and brown sugar substitute. Satisfied that she had mixed it thoroughly; she added two eggs, one teaspoon of salt, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract and began mixing again.
Excerpted from The Healing Powder by Lynne Martin Copyright © 2012 by Lynne Martin. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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