Derrick couldn’t sleep. All he heard were her cries for help, and all
he saw were the flashing red lights of the police cars and ambulance.
Every time he closed his eyes, the visions were of drug paraphernalia
and empty vodka bottles strewn around the motel room. He wanted it all
out of his head. Quietly, he went into the bathroom and grabbed the
vanity—throwing his head up and back. Was this his fault? He should
have taken better care of her. Yes, this was all his doing.
By six a.m. he was out the door on the way to the hospital. Reception
told him she was still in the ER. The place was eerily quiet—so
different from the noise and chaos of the medical staff and police
presence the night before.
Walking down the Emergency Room corridor to her bed, he was surprised to
see Mark sitting in a wheelchair in the hall—dazed. His right arm was
handcuffed to the chair; his left wrist wrapped with a clean, white
bandage. A policeman stood close by, his clasped hands in front of him
hanging down below his waist. A holstered gun, Taser, and club were
attached to his belt, at the ready.
Derrick turned and looked into the draped bay where Emily was
sleeping—finally calm after her violent night. When he saw Blake
sitting next to the bed, holding her hand, Derrick suddenly realized
Emily’s left wrist was handcuffed to the bed. He turned to a cop
standing just outside the curtain.
“Why is she cuffed?” he asked the officer.
“I can’t say.” The policeman didn’t move.
Derrick walked to the bed. “What’s going on, Blake? Why is Em
“As soon as she’s well enough they’re going to arrest her for drug
possession, selling illegal substances, and maybe even child
“What the hell? They can’t make any of that stick. Mark was the drug
pusher who facilitated her. God damn it, he’s the one, not her!”
He turned toward the cop. “She’s not a criminal. You can’t arrest
her—she just needs help.” He was obviously angry.
“Derrick,” Blake said in his always-quiet voice. “If she goes to
prison, she’ll die.”
“She is not going to prison!” Derrick grabbed his cell phone.
Blake rubbed his fingers across his lips over and over. “I don’t
know. Repeated drug possession charges, especially for pregnant women,
are pretty serious offenses. She could be sentenced to some significant
A nurse walked into the bay, and Derrick stopped tapping letters into
his phone. He barked out the words, “Why is Emily still in the ER?”
“She has no insurance or counsel. We are waiting for a bed to open up
in one of the secured wards.”
Derrick took in a deep breath. “I’m calling my lawyer. Put her in a
nice room; I’ll take care of her bill.”
“I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to talk to her doctor about that.
Would you like me to call Dr. Garrison and have her come down and talk
“I will, now I must attend to the patient. You two gentlemen can sit
in the waiting room.”
Derrick and Blake walked in silence down the hall. Derrick was furiously
typing a message to Sully, his attorney.
They are going to charge Emily. You need to get to the hospital ER right
now before they start questioning her.
He sent the message and stuck the phone back in his shirt pocket.
The two men sat down.
“Don’t worry, Blake. I’ll take care of this mess, just like I’ve
taken care of all her messes.”
“I don’t know how you do it. She makes everyone look like a fool so
easily.” Blake turned and looked directly at him. “I’m in love
with her. I mean, I really love and care for her. But she…” he
sighed. “I don’t know. Why do I stick around?”
“Because you do love her,” Derrick said shortly. He was reading the
message he had received from Sully. “Just like you, I love her and
need to take care of her. My lawyer is on his way. He’s the best.”
“How did you meet Emily?” Blake asked. “She told me she’s from
Derrick settled back in the chair. “Waukee, Iowa. It’s a small town
outside of Des Moines. Her parents lived in an upper-middle-class
community there. My college roommate and frat brother also lived there
with his family.
“I’d been working in New York City for eighteen years. I got my big
break and produced a winning play on Broadway. In the process, I
realized I was damn good at finding and nurturing talent.
“My buddy invited me to spend the holidays with him and his family. He
probably had done it right: landed a sales position at a pharmaceutical
company, married his college sweetheart, and started a family. While I
was beating the bushes in the big city trying to find a good-paying job,
he was living a comfortable life in suburbia with his loving wife and
two great kids. At that point, his daughter was a senior in high school,
his son a freshman.
“I went for about ten days—winter break. They had their Christmas
play, and his daughter was in the choir.”
“Let me guess, Emily was the female lead.”
“Yep, and she was tremendous. I mean, she was so good. I kept telling
myself she was just a kid. How could a kid from a small town out in the
middle of nowhere have such great talent? I was blown away.
“The afterparty was at Emily’s house; I met her parents. I told them
they should let me take her to New York after she graduated. I could
make her into a big Broadway star. Of course, as you would expect, they
both said no. Her mother’s comment, absolutely not, if I recall. Come
to find out, my friend and Emily’s dad were good friends, and we saw
her family a lot over those ten days. I gave her dad my business card
and told him I would be back at the end of the school year to talk to
Blake broke his stare from across the room to look at him. “Obviously
you convinced them to let her come to New York City.”
“Yes, but it took some fast talking and the promise of money up front.
Emily and her mom Gloria moved into Emily’s apartment the end of June.
Tom, her dad, stayed for a month, and then went back to Iowa. Gloria
liked all the glamor. It took no time at all for Emily to get on as a
dancer in a new production. I was constantly looking for the perfect
part for Em. At the end of the summer, Gloria went back to Waukee. She
made me promise on my life that I would take care of her little girl.
“Emily was a natural, fitting right in to the celebrity scene. All was
well until November when her play was canceled.”
Excerpted from "Pearl" by Karleen Staible. Copyright © 2015 by Karleen Staible. 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.