Bourbon Chase

Bourbon Chase

by Alexi Venice



Published in Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


Dr. Jen Dawson’s orderly and driven life as an emergency room physician in San Francisco is upended when her colleague, Dr. Lane Wallace, becomes a murder suspect in the death of his paramour. Jen fiercely defends Dr. Wallace, but Jen’s boyfriend,

Detective Tommy Vietti, discounts her opinions as misplaced loyalty. Jen unwittingly becomes a witness in the investigation when she provides medical care to one of the suspects, defending her actions against criticism by Tommy and Amanda Hawthorne, the powerful District Attorney.

Sample Chapter

San Francisco

Jen shivered in the damp morning air as she started her ancient Toyota that Tommy had named Aethenoth. She smiled, remembering the night they had parked on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Half Moon Bay and made love in the back seat under the full moon. Tommy had said that the silver light shining off her pale skin reminded him of Lady Godiva riding her famous horse, Aethenoth. That night, he declared that Jen’s car would henceforth be called Aethenoth the Ancient in honor of Jen’s nakedness, just like Lady Godiva.

She adored Tommy for being a romantic, reciting literature and opera lines at intimate moments in their relationship. She, too, had adopted his name for her car, not only because it reminded her of their intimacy, but also because she had agreed with Lady Godiva’s cause—forcing her husband to lower taxes. Jen wondered what would become of her if she decided to drive around San Francisco nude. Dangerous thinking. She snapped back to reality.

Aethenoth the Ancient had been a loyal companion, transporting Jen to college in Wisconsin, medical school in Los Angeles, a residency program in San Francisco, and now, three years later, to her position as an emergency room physician at San Francisco Community Hospital. The miles had taken a toll on Aethenoth, however, so as sentimental as Jen was about her, she was considering buying an SUV.

“Aethenoth, I’m sorry to break it to you, but the SUV I’m interested in has heated seats. I could use those about now,” she said, revving Aethenoth to life, flipping the wipers to remove the ocean fog that had condensed on the windshield overnight. The sky was dusky pink, and Jen was groggy, just coming off the night shift and now working days. She sipped hot coffee from her Thermos as she began the thirty-minute drive to San Francisco Community Hospital. She lived a few blocks from the beach, and the hospital was on the other side of the city, so she had an easy commute in the morning, but a traffic-packed one in the evening.

Once the heat was pouring through the vents, she drove north on 46th Avenue, turned right onto Lincoln Parkway, followed Golden Gate Park to its panhandle, then crawled through the Haight Ashbury neighborhood with the other early morning commuters. Finally entering Highway 101, she had a clear shot to the hospital.

Despite Dr. Jen Dawson’s minimalist appearance of a ponytail and no makeup, male patients would still hit on her while she cared for them in the emergency room. She was a classic Nordic beauty—high cheek bones, deep blue eyes, aquiline nose and a smile like California sunshine.

Addicted to the thrill of all things physical, Jen had a muscular figure, and was training for the Dolphin Club Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, which was only a few months away. The physiology geek in her had prepared a calendar on poster-sized paper, then taped to the wall in her kitchen. On it, she penciled in her daily training stats of calorie and protein intake, as well as her time and distance for running, biking and swimming. Her chart kept her focused and on-track, notwithstanding her demanding work schedule. She was at the peak of her training, building muscle and endurance. Nothing would interfere with her goal. No partying with Tommy. No going out with people from work. No distractions. Just training for the big day.

She deliberately blinked her eyes as she drove, drinking more coffee and fighting her circadian rhythm to wake up for the day shift. There was a heaviness in her bones from flipping her sleep cycle from day to night. Today would feel like wading through waist-deep water, never making it to shore, but she would slog through. Tomorrow would be easier, and each day thereafter until she could catch up on sleep over her days off. In fact, the only thing that could tube her triathlon performance would be sleep deprivation, so she had carefully planned her work schedule around the big day.

Tommy joined her on runs and bike rides when he could, but he worked long hours as a detective in the homicide unit at SFPD. Recently, he had baked a large pan of lasagna for Jen, freezing individual serving sizes in plastic containers for her evening meals. His Italian philosophy was that pasta was the best training food, and she couldn’t argue with that, especially if he made it.

As she entered the neighborhood where the hospital was located, she found a parking spot a few blocks off Potrero Avenue. Leaving Aethenoth unlocked, Jen walked to the hospital campus in the dawn light with other employees. Pushing through the revolving doors, she greeted the staff at the main reception desk, then swiped her name badge to open a side-door into the Emergency Room. She skirted the Unit Station and walked down a long corridor to the physicians’ locker room, where she changed into turquoise scrubs. Emerging seven minutes later, she was ready to work a ten-hour shift.

Jen joined the nurses and physicians who had congregated at the Unit Station, a long desk facing three banks of patient rooms, enclosed by a glass wall running from desktop to ceiling. The glass partition dampened the noise from nurses talking at the station. More importantly, however, it was a barrier between dysfunctional visitors and the staff behind it.

Jen’s colleagues were huddled at the long desk, talking in hushed tones about something serious.

“Good morning. What are we talking about?” Jen asked.

“You haven’t heard?” a nurse asked.

“I just woke up and came to work. I don’t know anything.”

“Oh. Horrible news. You know the ultrasound tech, Natasha Farber?”

“Yeah. The cute one who likes to chat?”

“Yes. She was found dead in her apartment yesterday afternoon.”

“What? You have to be kidding me? From what?”

“They don’t know. It might have been natural causes, but she was so young, and she never told any of us that she had a condition, like an arrhythmia or something.”

“Maybe it was a pulmonary embolus or an aneurysm. You never know,” Jen speculated. “Are they doing an autopsy?”

“I think they have to. It’s a Medical Examiner case,” the nurse said.

“That should yield some answers. Funeral arrangements?”

“Haven’t heard anything yet. I’m sure her family is in shock right now.”

“Does she have family in the area?”

“She was from Ohio and friends with Cheryl, her supervisor in Radiology. Cheryl will know.”

“How sad. She was so young. Keep me posted on arrangements.”

“My money says that her husband killed her,” another nurse blurted.

They all stared at her.

“What do you mean?” Jen asked.

“I heard they were separated because he beat her. Cheryl told me that Natasha showed her bruising on her arms from him grabbing her. So, Cheryl connected Natasha with the Employee Assistance Program, then helped her file charges against her husband.”

“Really? So, you think he actually killed her?” Jen asked.

“Yes. I think he was a vengeful bastard who was jealous of her.”


“Because she was moving on from him. They were separated. Word on the street is that she was in a relationship with a new man.”

“Anyone we know?”

The nurses shook their heads, then busied themselves with other duties as Dr. Lane Wallace, Jen’s colleague, entered the station, maneuvering around the chairs with his cane, so he could sit at one of the computer screens designated for x-rays and other imaging tests.

“Good morning, Lane,” Jen said.

“Not really,” he said in disgust.

“I take it you heard the news about the ultrasound tech,” Jen said, as the nurses scattered.

“Her name was Natasha Farber,” he grumbled, staring at the computer screen and entering his password.

Jen heard his voice catch when he said Natasha’s name. “Did you know her?”

“We all knew her. She did ultrasounds in the ER.” Dr. Wallace stared hard at the X-ray on the flat screen, not making eye contact with Jen.

“Yes. Well, some better than others. I didn’t interact with her much on day shifts.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, whipping off his half glasses and staring at her.

She put her hands up in surprise. “Nothing! It’s an expression—some better than others.”

He continued to stare at Jen.

“Whoa, Lane. Did I stumble into something? Did I offend you?” She lay her hand on his shoulder.

He tried to talk, but couldn’t, his face creasing and tears filling his eyes.

“Come on. Let’s go in the back doc room,” Jen said, referring to the physician work room. She led the way, and he grabbed his cane, following her into a small room with a conference table, three computers, and a mini fridge in the corner. When the physicians needed to review medical records, dictate notes, or otherwise get some quiet time during their shift, they used this room. Thus, its moniker—back doc room.

Jen spied a box of Kleenex and handed it to him. He grabbed a handful and fell into a chair, letting his cane fall to the floor. He sobbed uncontrollably, so Jen slid a chair next to him and rested her arm across his shoulders.

“Let it out, Lane. Let it all out.” She sat silently while he shook in sorrow, doubled over, his face in his hands. Several minutes passed as they sat together.

She had no idea he was this close to the ultrasound tech, but her mind was racing with possibilities.

When he had gathered himself, he blew his nose and sat straight in his chair. “I’m sorry you had to witness that.”

“Don’t be. It’s what friends are for. I’m here for you…and, I know you’d do the same for me.”

“It’s just that—she was so young. So beautiful—”

“I take it you knew her better than I did.”

“I was in love with her.”

Jen had no clue, believing he was happily married to Susie. They had a little girl, named Angelina, who Lane talked about frequently. “Care to talk about it?”

“It’s all so confusing. I helped Natasha get rid of her asshole husband who abused her, and, in the process, we grew closer. Not at first. It was very professional at first. One colleague helping another. We met for lunch, then drinks and—”

“I understand,” Jen said, resting a reassuring hand on his knee.

“She needed me, you know? More than Susie needs me. Natasha was vulnerable and scared. And with my military training, I thought I could protect her. I spent more and more time at her apartment—just in case her husband made a surprise visit. At first, it was platonic, but I think we both knew we wanted something more.”

“What about Susie? Does she know?”

“No. God, no. She’d divorce me if she knew. I think she suspected I was going through something but assumed it had to do with baggage from serving in the desert. We’ve been through so much together that I think she sort of lost interest at some point along the way. She loves me. Don’t get me wrong. She just has so many other things on her mind—her work at the gallery, functions at Angelina’s elementary school.”

“How old is Angelina now?”

“She’s eight, and I’m worried about how this is going to impact her.”

“She loves you, and knows you’re a good father.”

“I try. With Susie’s mom in the nursing home now, Angie and I have more time alone together because Susie and her brothers are always taking care of her mother.”

“I’m so sorry, Lane. You know I’m here for you.”

He nodded, but his mind was elsewhere.

“Have you considered some counseling?”

“What? And make a formal medical record of my affair and how messed up I am? The hospital brass would probably use it against me.”

“You know it doesn’t work that way. It’s confidential. Administration wouldn’t see it.”

“Don’t you believe it,” he sneered. “Hospital administration gets their hands on everything. They’re like the fucking CIA.”

Jen disagreed but didn’t want to argue. He was prone to paranoia, which she assumed stemmed from his military experience. “You take some more time to gather yourself. I’m gonna start my shift.”

“It might take a few minutes.”

“That’s okay.” She picked up his cane from the floor and leaned it against his chair.

Jen left the room and quietly closed the door. As she walked out, the nurses who had previously scattered were reassembled at the desk, staring at her.

Why am I always the last to learn everything around here? she wondered.


Excerpted from "Bourbon Chase" by Alexi Venice. Copyright © 2017 by Alexi Venice. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Alexi Venice

Alexi Venice

Amazon Bestselling Author, Alexi Venice, practiced law for 28 years until the novels within her had to be indulged their freedom. She continues to practice law at a large healthcare system while pursuing her writing career from dusk till dawn.

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