Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Meet the Heroine--Jaden, from No Matter What

I love to write heroines who I can admire. Women of strength, passion, intelligence, toughness, etc. Jaden is no exception. She knows what's right and is willing to do what she has to do make it happen.
In No Matter What, she wants desperately for the Pediatric Rehab wing to be finished at her hospital. But they don't have the money. Adam Steele, our hero, gives her the chance to make her dream a reality. Here's a scene that illustrates what Jaden's going through.

“The hospital Board is considering a proposal to expand the outpatient surgery department and radiology into the new wing.”

“And…” Jaden felt her stomach start to knot even before Rachel spoke again. She scribbled angrily to color in the noose she’d put around Dan’s neck.

“They’re tired of the building being partially finished. They want it done and used for something. They think it looks bad to have it just sitting there.”

Jaden felt every muscle in her neck and shoulders tighten. “So, Rehab is just out? Done? It’s over?”

“No, not officially.” Rachel sounded depressed. “We’re fighting for it. We have patients and their families writing letters. We have some of the doctors on our side. But the fact remains that we
don’t have the money and we don’t…”

“Don’t what?” Jaden asked when Rachel stopped.

“We don’t have you,” Rachel said quietly. “You were our fearless leader. You were the one who always had another idea and who always knew what to say. The wing was your idea. You’re the one they listened to.”

Jaden felt like she might throw up. She wasn’t sure what to do. It might be too late. It might not be enough. “Rach…I have the money.”


“Well, I will have. I’m…working on something.”

“For a million dollars?”


“You better not be doing anything illegal,” Rachel said.

Jaden chuckled. Sort-of. “It’s therapy. I’m rehabilitating Adam Steele’s daughter, Emily.”

“Steele? As in Steele Enterprises?”

“The same.”

Rachel whistled. “Wow.”

“Yeah.” Wow was one word for it.

“Is it a sure thing?”

The million-dollar question…literally. Jaden put as much confidence into her voice as she could.
“Yes. It’s a sure thing.”

“Oh, J.” Rachel sounded choked up. “This is so…great. Wow. I should have known you’d be working on it. I should have known you’d come through.”

Jaden wondered if she’d ever be able to eat again. Her stomach might be in a permanent knot. “Of course. You know how much the hospital and the kids mean to me.”

“I do,” Rachel said sincerely. “I know this rehab wing is your dream. And I know that it’s probably killing you to be away from work this long.”

Rachel shared Jaden’s passion for pediatric physical therapy and everything it entailed. They had gone to numerous conferences, had published two papers and had flown to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress. “It is,” Jaden admitted. “Working with Emily is saving me.”

“Oh, Jaden, this is the best news I’ve had since I had to take over. I should have known you wouldn’t leave us hanging. And I can’t wait for you to come back and take the director’s position back.”

The staff in the rehab department had been handpicked by Jaden. They were more than co-workers. They were colleagues and friends. Who had been let down by Jaden. She added devil horns to the top of Dan’s head.

“We’ll have to work that all out. But right now you’re in charge of keeping morale up,” Jaden said. “Just a little while longer.”

“Jaden, I have a confession.”

“Yeah?” Jaden could barely force words through her tight throat.

“When you told me you were bartending, I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m sorry for doubting you. I should have believed that you’d be trying to figure a way out.”

Jaden closed her eyes. She hadn’t figured anything out. If Adam and Tony hadn’t come to her, she’d still be confusing mojitos for margaritas. “I have a confession, too.”

“What’s that?”

“I want this rehab wing for all of you and the kids,” Jaden said. “But I also wanted it to show Bob that he was wrong to not support me. And now I want it so that we can compete against Dan’s new project, and kick their butts.”

“Sounds great to me,” Rachel said with a laugh. “I can’t wait to tell everyone.”

“No!” Jaden said, then softened her tone. “I mean, let’s surprise them when I have the check. I’ll show up with lunch for everyone or something.”

“But J, I have to tell the rehab staff at least.” Rachel sounded almost panicked.


“Mercy is trying to recruit as much of our staff as they can for their program.”

Jaden felt her temples begin throbbing. “What?”

“We are the best pediatric staff in the state. They’re contacting our staff members and offering sign-on bonuses and higher salaries…a lot of stuff.”

“Has anyone signed with them yet?” Jaden asked, dreading the answer.

“Not that I know of. But, if they don’t know for sure that we’re moving ahead here, I’m afraid we might lose a few.”

Jaden rubbed her forehead against the threatening headache. “I can’t believe Dan wants to hurt me this much.”

Rachel’s voice was soft and sympathetic when she answered, “I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but I can speak as a friend and colleague when I say that losing you leaves a pretty huge hole, hon.”

Jaden squeezed her eyes shut and felt the tear escape. Damn.

She could not let anyone else down. Her staff needed this. The hospital needed this. All the kids who would need to recover from illness and injuries in the future needed this.

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