Category Archives: Local Paragons

Local Paragons XIII: West End Cafe

West End Café is a beautiful staple in the Winston Salem downtown community, located in the West End of downtown at 926 West 4th Street. The food is simply delightful—I personally recommend their salads. They have a wide variety. But, you really can’t go wrong with a sandwich ( a GREAT Rueben). It may be small, but I think that may be what is so great about it. There is nothing quite like a quiet meal with friends at West End—food, ambiance, and fun.

Food                                                   Local Color

<3  <3  <3  <3                                       <3  <3  <3  <3  <3

The sunshine reflected off the water in the koi pond in front of the West End Café. Light reflecting, dancing, almost in celebration—a well deserved celebration, Lucy thought as she stared at it thoughtfully. Her eyes shifted to her own reflection in the windows, just beneath the yellow bold faced lettering. There was sadness reflected there, but hope as well.

She knew she shouldn’t be sad.

Lucy reached up to touch the scarf that covered her head.

The surgery was successful. The tumor, benign.

And yet…

Which is why she was here, meeting Rebekah. She hadn’t seen the woman since that day at Krankies. Before her life had turned upside down—or rather inside out, as it now felt.

She reached up and touched the scarf again. Then sighed.

At least she was out of the hospital.

She turned to see Rebekah coming up the steps. Her floor length lacy white dress made her look almost bridal, though the sun hat added a distinctly southern touch. Lucy smiled, sadly.

She touched her scarf again.

“Lucy, you look darling,” Rebekah said, reaching down to pull her up by both her hands. “I can’t believe how well you’ve recovered. You’d never even guess!”

“Well, I think there are a few signs.”

“Oh tish-tosh,” Rebekah laughed. “I’m so glad you called. I have been praying for you, and now I know why you’ve been on my heart so much. I can’t even imagine going through all that—and yet here you are!” She pointed to Lucy with flourish, her hat now askew. Lucy colored, and looked away.

Rebekah smiled. “Come,” she said. “Let’s eat.”

Together they walked into the restaurant. The friendly staff seated them in the back where they, to Lucy’s relief, could eat and chat with some privacy.

Not that they needed privacy, but Lucy felt self-conscious in public. Always now.  Maybe forever.

And now she didn’t know what to say.

Not that she didn’t know what she wanted to say. She just didn’t know how to begin now that she had the opportunity.

They ordered their meal. Rebekah got the Veggie Burger Delight while Lucy stuck with the classic Shrimp Po-Boy, one of her favorites from the West End.

“You look great, but how are you, really?” Rebekah asked when the waiter had filled their waters and disappeared. “It can’t be easy, dealing with news—earth shatter good and bad all at once.”

“I don’t know,” Lucy sighed. “Everyone keeps asking me that and  I don’t know how I am. I’m happy I’m not dying,  I guess. Sad it happened at all, but most of all I think I’m angry.”

“Angry?” Rebekah lifted a brow. “Why?”

Lucy shrugged.

“May I?”

Lucy nodded. It was, after all, why she called this virtual stranger and not Katie or Susie.

“The whole human race has an anger problem and we all get angry for different reasons—but in your case I think you may be angry for one of two reasons: One, because your control was threatened or two because it happened to you and you don’t feel like you deserved it.”

Lucy visibly started. “Did I deserve it?”

“I didn’t say that.” Lucy opened her mouth, but Rebekah continued. “I said you were angry because you believe you didn’t deserve it. That’s a different statement altogether, but I think we’ve hit on why you’re angry. That seems to have hit a nerve.”

“Well, wouldn’t you be angry if someone just told you that—“

“Remember, I didn’t say you deserved it,” Rebekah smiled. “But we live in a broken world, and because of that brokenness, death and sickness is inevitable. It’s not that you deserve sickness, Lucy, exactly, but more like we all deserve death and ultimately destruction because of our separation from truth and life. It’s what happened to the world in the very beginning when we gave up ignorance and paradise for death and ‘the knowledge of good and evil’. We got knowledge, sure, but we also got evil. Death. Sickness. So, no it’s not that you deserve it, but the world does and we have to accept that we’re a part of that sickness—even the good people of the world.”

“That’s depressing,” Lucy picked at the napkin on her table. “And doesn’t help my anger issues.”

“Well, that’s just one part. The hope part comes with the healing or the medicine. What God did for us even though we screwed everything up, he made a way for us to be healed, to have life again. He sent Christ to us. He sent Jesus to die for us and take away the sickness and the death and the evil that overwhelmed the world. That’s not a healing we deserve, but it’s a healing we were granted. It’s a healing we’re offered—and it’s the only healing that’s permeant. These bodies that we’re in—they’re decaying. In one way or another they’re dying, but they’re not hopeless.”

“But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever get sick again.”

“No,” Rebekah shook her head sadly.

“Then what’s the point?” Lucy tossed the silverware she’d been fidgeting with on the table.

“Hope,” Rebekah reached over and covered Lucy’s hand with her own. Lucy felt tears prick at her eyes as the warmth transferred from one hand to another. “Do you mind if I pray for you?”

Lucy nodded her head; she didn’t trust her voice.

“Father, you know Lucy’s heart right now. You know how scared she is, and how brave she is. Please show her that she’s not alone. That You love her, that You are there for her and that no matter what happens in the future that You will always offer hope. Open her heart to You. Amen.”

“Thank you,” Lucy murmured. It was all she could manage through the muddle of her emotions. She didn’t know if she believed everything Rebekah told her—but she was willing to listen to more. She would even talk to Saul about it—and that was a step in the right direction.

And for now, that was enough. *

*This is where Lucy’s story ends, for now. If you have suggestions or comments about Lucy I’d love to hear them! Look for a new Installment of Local Paragons: Camden! Coming soon!

Ashley Carmichael is the author of Valerie’s Vow a Christian Romance which can be purchased at or Amazon. Follow Ashley on twitter @amcarmichael13 and Facebook.

Local Paragons XII: Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cake is a small locally-run company located off Jonestown Road in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Offering a wide variety of different types, sizes, and flavors of specialty Bundt cakes, you won’t be sorry if you visit this delicatessen. My personal favorite is the strawberries and cream (limited time only! Gone by the end of June), but you really can’t go wrong with any of the other flavors (white chocolate raspberry? Yum!) either.

Food:                                                  Local Color:

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                  <3 <3 <3

“I brought you something.”

Lucy looked up from her book and smiled at Chris who held up the familiar brown bag for her to see and appreciate.

“You should have!” Lucy declared, smiling even as she reached for the bag. “But I’m glad you did. Thanks.”

“So you find out your results yet?”

Lucy looked down at the Bundlet, perfectly baked and packaged. Nothing Bundt Cake had been one of her favorite dessert places since it opened a few years ago. Today, when her stomach was tied up in knots and her head swimming with an unknown future, it was not the perfect pick-me-up exactly, but it was an incredibly sweet gesture.

“Yeah.” Lucy watched her fork sink into the soft sides of the miniature Bundt cake. The perfectly moist inside sunk in as she pushed and then pulled away her first bite. “Mmm strawberries and cream.”

“A summer special,” Chris grinned, pleased with himself. “Katie said she is on her way, or she’d be here later, something like that.”

“On her way,” Lucy murmured around the bite. She took a sip of water and let a satisfied smile settled on her lips where one tiny pink crumb clung. Chris reached out and wiped it away with his thumb. Lucy’s bottom lip dropped open slightly.

“Lucy, I—“

“Luce!” Katie’s enthusiastic tenor interrupted the moment and he stepped back, almost blending into the corners of the room, whatever he’d been about to say forgotten—by Lucy at least.  “How are you feeling?”

“Ridiculous,” she cleared her throat and avoided eye contact, preferring instead to poke at the cake with her fork. “I don’t feel sick, so I don’t know why I’m still here.”

“You had two seizures,” Katie said. “So you need to rest up, and listen to the doctors, and mister hops a lot here.” She deposited the ridiculous kangaroo she was holding on the bedside table, the card he held going crooked as she did so.

“’Get hopping well soon.’ Where did you get that ridiculous thing?” Lucy asked as she read the card aloud.

“He was made just for you, Luce, so don’t mock him.”

Lucy shook her head.

“Bundlet! Excellent! Taste?” Katie asked, sitting on the end of the bed and grabbing a fork from the tray.

“Of course,” Lucy pushed the cake toward her friend. “Dig in.”

“Where’s Susie?” Katie asked between bites.

“Probably wrestling the kids into submission—she said she wanted to be here—“

“And she will!” Susie floated into the room, though her hair was somewhat disheveled and remnants of what Lucy guessed to be oatmeal were stuck to her t-shirt, she still looked as if she had energy to spare. Lucy wondered hwo she did it.

“When will the doctor be in?” Susie asked.

“Soon,” Lucy sighed. “But not soon enough.”

“Isn’t that the truth?” Katie said, shaking her head.

“Saul!” Lucy looked past her friend’s sympathetic shakes to the man who had just entered. Her face relaxed—Saul had been there for her over in ways she didn’t even know she needed someone. “I thought you had to work.”

“I’m on break,” he assured her, his dimpled grin warming her insides as he squeezed her hand. “The doctor was right behind me.”

Lucy nodded, but found that her mouth had gone dry.

A few moments, which felt like an eternity  even with her friends and family trying to distract her, finally passed and the doctor strode confidently into the room. Lucy couldn’t read his stoic express, but swallowed hard as she reminded herself to breathe deeply—in through the mouth and out through the nose.

“Ms. St. James,” he started as he placed the clipboard on the end of the bed. “I’ll be direct with you. We’ve found on the MRI what we believe to be a tumor.”

Lucy sucked in a breath, feeling as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. She wasn’t sure if the humming noise was a contrivance of her imagination or was an actual noise, but it made her head spin all the same.

“I believe it is what has caused the seizures,” the doctor continued. “And, of course, the other symptoms we discussed. However, just looking at the scan we cannot definitively determine if the tumor is malignant or benign. Because of its size, we believe a biopsy would be our next best course of action. If it is benign the location would allow complete removal and your life would essentially return to normal. If malignant, well, my suggestion is for you to take it one step at a time before you let it control your life—you start getting control of it.”

Lucy could feel herself nodding, but had no words. Her mouth was dry. Her head was spinning. Susie was firing off questions at the man left and right, but all Lucy could do was poke a hole in the top of her cake with the fork and wonder if the salt from her tears would make it more bitter or moist—and if that even mattered at all anymore.

Local Paragons XI: A Ripple in the Water (local Author review)

A Ripple in the Water by Donna Small

A summer fling turns into something more in this scandalous tale of age defying love. Touching on controversial themes, particularly that of women dating younger men and the stigma attached, Donna Small spins a fascinating narrative. Having been a lifeguard at a local pool, I could particularly relate to and connect with the culture Ms. Small describes so effectively in the novel to set up for this May-December, no more like May-Augustan romance. Though some of the scenes are a bit redundant and I would have liked to see the characters developed through actions and events more than descriptions and hind sights, overall I enjoyed the narrative. The themes were easy to connect to (though could have been explored more–and may still be), and the characters are realistic. The end leaves readers craving for another Kate Penner story, which hopefully Ms. Small will deliver soon.

Local Color:                        Readability:                      Plot development:

<3 <3 <3                             <3 <3 <3 <3                      <3 <3 <3

The flash of lights illuminated the darkened hallway. He didn’t know if the lights were from a patient’s monitor, or a crash cart, or something else but it didn’t matter. He maneuvered through the maze of sterile eggshell walls, one after the other, until he finally came to room 467. This is where they said Lucy was—for now anyway.

Chris raised his hand to knock on the door, but it opened before he was able and he stood, slackjawed, staring hard at the unfamiliar face of a man in a bleached white coat as he emerged from the room.

Doctor, his mind registered as he scanned, first the man’s face, then searched for a nametag.

“Hi,” he stuck his hand out, pulling the door shut behind him. “I’m Saul. Lucy’s sleeping, finally.”

“Chris.” He stuck out his hand to shake, feeling the grip tighten as their palms connected. Chris cleared his throat before letting his anxiety fuel the questions. “How is she? What’s wrong with her?”

“Are you family?” Saul’s eyebrow raised.

“Not technically,” Chris flinched. “But I’m her emergency contact—close as family.”

Saul crossed his arms over his chest and widened his stance. To Chris he seemed to be blocking the door to room 467 behind him. With ever-increasing adrenaline pumping in his veins, he felt the heat rise to his face as his muscles tensed.

Chris clinched his fingers together until he made a fist at his side. “Then get out of my way,” he muttered through clinched teeth. “I’ll ask Lucy myself.”

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that,” Saul’s immovable frame blocked his entrance. “She’s resting now and visitor’s hours—“

“The hell you can’t,” Chris took a step forward, but the doors at the end of the hall flew open and his head jerked at the sound of his name on Susie St. James’ lips.

“Chris, thank God. How is she? What’s going on?” Lucy’s sister looked frantic; her eyes were filled with moisture and her hair was pulled into a mussed up, messy pony tail with a Cheerio stuck to the end of one strand.

“I don’t know,” Chris gritted as he pulled the Cheerio free. “They won’t tell me anything since I’m not family.” He glared at Saul, who still hadn’t moved from in front of the door.

“What,” Susie turned and faced Saul. “What’s going on? Where is Lucy?”

“She’s okay,” Saul said, tucking his clipboard under one arm now. “The doctor has been in to see her and she’s stable.”

“The doctor?” Chris looked at Saul, his eyes narrowing into slits. “But I thought—“

Saul didn’t wait for him to finish before continuing with, “She had two seizures. One while we were at dinner, then a second one on the way to the hospital. Although it is too soon to tell anything definitive yet—“

You were at dinner?” Chris parroted him, his hands now crossed over his chest as he began connecting the dots.

“The doctor suspects, based on preliminary scans only, a brain tumor. We’ll know more after the MRI.”

Susie’s legs nearly gave way beneath her, but Chris reached out to steady her. With one hand under her elbow she pulled in a shaky breath, closing her eyes against the overwhelming possibilities.

“Don’t panic,” Saul reached out and touched her arm consolingly. “We don’t know enough yet to even be sure it’s a tumor. You should take it one day at a time.”

“Have you told Lucy yet?” Susie asked, her voice shaking.

Saul nodded. “She’s resting now.”

“Can we see her?” Susie asked, standing up a little straighter. Saul cleared his throat, hesitated, then nodded as he stepped aside. Chris didn’t exactly push him out of the way, but he did brush shoulders with him as he followed Susie into the room.

Lucy wasn’t sleeping. She was sitting up in bed, staring at a novel. Chris didn’t think she was reading, her eyes looked blank as she stared at the pages.

“Hey Luce,” Susie came in, sliding up to the bed. Lucy started, but the second she locked eyes with her sister, tears filled her eyes and spilled over her lids. “Oh baby.” Susie rushed in and enfolded her baby sister in her arms, setting aside the novel—A Ripple in the Water as she did so.

Lucy sobbed into her sister’s shoulder and Chris stood awkwardly in the background as Susie murmured soothing words to band aid the gaping wound the word ‘tumor’ had left on the room.

“I’m okay,” Lucy said, pulling back. “Sorry I fell apart like that. I just—“ she hiccupped and Susie laughed.

“You never could cry without getting the hiccups, even when you were a baby.”

“I know,” Lucy hiccupped again. “I’ve been trying to find time to read this novel for weeks now—carrying it around in my purse. I read the back of it and it looks so good! Fascinating and like a real drama—but this isn’t how I wanted to make the time.”

“They don’t know anything really, yet, Lucy,” Susie said again. “No need for us to get worked up.”

Chris admired her strength. Susie had always been that for Lucy, and even though he knew she was panicking herself, she hid it well for her sister’s sake.

“I know, but—“

“No buts,” Susie patted her leg. “We’ll take it one day at a time. Okay?”

Lucy took a deep breath, focusing on the rippling water in the photograph on the front of her novel. “Okay,” she breathed out.

But unlike in the small ripples photograph, Chris knew this was a rock thrown into their lake—and the ripples had just begun.

Local Paragons X: River Birch

River Birch Lodge is local paragon located on Robinhood Road in Winston Salem, North Carolina. One of my favorite things about the restaurant is the atmosphere. Nestled in an old neighborhood, the charm of the rustic historical lodges River Birch brings to the area really does add to the dining experience. The wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the management is personable and open—especially to events. As they say on the website, “With towering ceilings of 100 year old yellow heart pine, large stone fireplaces, a comfortable back porch, family friendly bar, and a signature handcrafted chandelier, River Birch Lodge draws on natural mountain grandeur to provide you with a comfortable and casual dining experience.”

Local color: <3 <3 <3 <3                                Food: <3 <3 <3 <3

“The décor in here; it’s just so, so, adorable,” Lilly pointed to a spot above Chris’ head even as she shook her head back and forth like a mechanical doll. “Is that a papoose?”


Chris followed her gaze, then looked back at her wide-eyed innocent expression which seemed, at least to him, a bit overdone for a discussion of restaurant décor. Still, Lilly was great—good company and pretty in a baby doll kind of way. Her eyes were too big for her face, but it suited her. Her tight chestnut curls framed her face then spilled beautifully down her back, and he had to admit he loved the feel of it sliding through his fingers. Even now he found himself wanting to run his hands through it.

What’s more, Lilly genuinely liked him. Just him.

“Yeah, I think,” he said before lifting the glass of house Cabernet to his lips. It slid smoothly down his throat, drinking nicely after a long week. He’d spent most of it avoiding Lucy and the rest of it trying to convince himself he liked Lilly. And he’d been fighting with a particularly combative patient in the rehab center. “There are some skis in the corner there. Look like cross country, maybe replicas from the early turn of the 20th century.”

“Oooh,” her eyes nearly swallowed her face as she followed his gaze.

Chris resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he buttered a piece of bread. There was nothing wrong with Lilly—she just wasn’t Lucy.

“You seem like a real outdoorsy kind of guy,” she said oblivious to his musings. “Do you ski?”

“Not well. I’ve been once or twice. Last time I nearly took myself and a friend off the side of the mountain,” Chris smiled to himself, remembering the infuriated indignation flashing across Lucy’s face as she picked herself up out of the snow. A trip to forget the past, move on from Pete—but Lucy hadn’t been ready then. At least that’s what he told himself.

“Yikes,” Lilly laughed. “Ouch.”

“Yeah, ouch is right,’ Chis murmured, thinking less about the skiing and more about Lucy herself. “I’m much more of a water sportsman. Kayaks, water skis, surfing.”

“You surf?” she perked up. Chris could see the image in her mind and he hid his amusement behind he wine glass.

“Much better than I ski,” he said.

“Then you might be better at snowboarding. My brother says they use a lot of the same techniques for both. He’s been on the amateur surf circuit in California for a couple of years now.”

“Really?” Chris lifted a brow, more attentive now. “Does he want to go pro?”

“I think he’d like to,” Lilly leaned back as the waiter sat her Very Berry Salmon Salad in front of her. “Looks delicious. Thank you so much.”

Chris mentally put a check in the plus column for Lilly. He loved how nice and polite she was when they went out, and was about to comment when the waiter sat his on French Dip Beef and Brie Panini in front of him and his phone rang at the same time.

“Thanks man,” he said, reaching in his pocket to check the infernal device to make sure everything was alright at the hospital before putting it on vibrate. “Sorry, Lil,” he said.

“It’s no problem,” she nodded, not even looking up from the salad as she cut through it with her knife. “I know the price I pay for dating a doctor.”

Chris frowned as he looked at his sister’s number flashing across the screen. Katie didn’t usually call him, but she’d leave a message. He hit ignore before answering Lilly. “I’m not exactly a doctor you know.”

She shrugged, “Occupational therapist is pretty close.”

“I wouldn’t tell the guys who spend all that time in med school that,” Chris laughed, and picked up his sandwich, dipping it into the sauce. No sooner had he done so than his phone began buzzing in his pocket again. He frowned, dropped the sandwich and stared down at it.

“Why don’t you just take it?” Lilly said after swallowing a very small bite of her salad.

“It’s my sister,” Chris hit ignore again. “I don’t know why she doesn’t just text me.”

“Speaking as a sister,” Lilly said. “I would say don’t question it, just answer the phone.” She pointed her phone at him. He shrugged and took a bite of his sandwich. And then Katie called, again.

Now he was worried.

“I’m sorry, Lilly. Something must really be wrong. Will you excuse me?” He stood and walked toward the front of the restaurant away from the diners to answer. “Katie, this better be—“

“Shut up and listen, Chris,” Katie was breathing heavily. “They just took Lucy to the hospital in an ambulance. They couldn’t get ahold of her sister so they called me. I’m in New Orleans on a business trip, but I’m looking for flights back now. Can you get to the hospital? I don’t know what’s going on and they won’t tell me anything on the phone. I’m trying to get ahold of TJ, but he’s not—“

“I’m on my way, Katie. I’ll call you when I get to the hospital.”

“Thank God,” he heard her voice crack. “Chris I—“

“I know Katie. She’ll be OK,” he said even as he pulled his wallet out of his pocket. He stopped at the hostess station on his way back to his seat. “I need two to-go boxes at our table please. We have to leave now. It’s an emergency.”

He didn’t wait for the response, as he practically ran back to the table. “Lilly, I’m sorry to cut this short, but I have to go to the hospital now. It’s an emergency.”

The waiter appeared behind him with two to-go boxes. Chris handed them to Lilly, who stared at him dumbly as he pulled out money and threw it on the table. Stuffing his sandwich in one of the boxes, he impatiently waited for Lilly to pack up her salad.

“Is your sister okay?” Lilly managed as she closed the lid to the to-go box.

“Yeah, she’s okay. It’s,” Chris hesitated. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t want to tell Lilly it was Lucy in the hospital but something inside him held back. “It’s just a friend of ours. Katie is out of town and they won’t tell her anything on the phone. I need to go to the ER and see what I kind find out—just to make sure everything is okay.”

He was careful to avoid pronouns.

Lilly studied him, but said little as she followed him out to the car.

When they pulled into her driveway, Lilly leaned over and pulled his head down toward her until he could feel her breath on his cheek, “I hope your friend is okay.” Her whisper wrapped around him, disappearing into a supple, possessive kiss. Chris relaxed into the kiss, nearly forgetting his urgency, even as Lilly pulled back and then swayed her way into her house leaving him more confused than ever.

Local Paragons IX: Fourth Street Filling Station

Fourth Street Filling Station is quintessential Winston Salem. Whenever someone comes to visit me from out of town. This is the first place I want to take them to eat. It captures the essence of Old Winston and the beauty of modern Winston. The food is just, well, wonderful. If you have a chance to eat on the patio, take it—it’s the way to experience Winston on a deeper and authentic level to which few places can stake a claim. Most recently I had a wrap which I couldn’t eat enough of (rarely do I eat every last bite of something—not even a church mouse would get a morsel off this plate!). But I have never eaten a single dish I didn’t love.

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                                      Local Color: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Lucy settled in at the table across from Saul. They hadn’t been out in over a week, and when he had suggested meeting at Fourth Street Filling Station, she’d hesitated. Not because of the food—she loved the food, but because of what happened. She hadn’t been back since that night, and as she sat across from Saul watching  stray blossom fall from the tree overhead and land on the table between them, she wondered if it was a good idea.

A smile settled on her tight lips for the first time; she tried to relax though she could still feel her pulse coursing through her bottom lip as she chewed on the inside of it.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Luce?” Saul asked for the second time now.

Lucy was not okay. Her mouth was dry. Her eye had started to twitch.

“I’m fine,” she pulled the water across the table; the scraping sound sounded loud. She took a sip, and looked around the patio. Nothing had changed. The same bricks, unevenly lay across the ground. The koi pond was still stocked with fish fattened by ill-disciplined younger patrons constantly throwing bits of bread into the water in between courses. The trees forming a canopy over the wrought iron trellis deadened the noise from the street so Lucy could vaguely hear the fish splashing. Still, the street noise duly loomed in the back of her skull—beating a rhythm of underlying assault.

“Something is on your mind,” Saul stated. He buttered a piece of bread and handed it to her. She took it, staring at, but not really seeing it. Picking up another piece, Saul buttered another piece for himself, and chewed as he silently studied her from across the table.

“I haven’t been here since it happened.” Lucy’s voice sounded far off. She didn’t even feel like it belonged to her as she spoke.

The screeching on the pavement—tires, rubber burning—it all sounded so loud in her head. Lucy was holding on to his waist—then she wasn’t. Above her was the night sky, blinking back at her. Something wet, sticky and thick rolled down her face. Blood.

People shouted.

Lucy sat up. Her head protested. So did her arm, twisted unnaturally beneath her, but she ignored it as she saw him. Crushed. Bent beneath the twisted metal of the bike. He was motionless. So much blood.

And then the screaming started. It hurt her ears. Who was screaming?

“Lucy!” Saul was trying to get her attention, but Lucy was still screaming—the restaurant was now all staring, silent.

In the next moment, Luzy’s eyes rolled to the top of her head and she would have fallen out of her seat if Saul hadn’t acted quickly. His own chair hit the pavement behind him as he lunged for Lucy, catching and easing her to the ground as she began.

“She’s seizing,” he said, medical training overriding emotions. “Call 9-1-1.” He turned her slightly to the side, and supported her head. There was nothing else he could do.

“Should we do something to keep her from choking?” A waiter asked, squatting next to him, phone in hand.

“She’ll be fine. Just get her to Baptist,” Saul’s authoritative tone was all the man needed. He nodded, and dialed.

Saul looked down at Lucy, wondering what she’d seen in the moments before she’d had her seizure. Hallucinating? Maybe. Definitely not cognizant of her surroundings for three, maybe five minutes. He swallowed hard, looking down at his watch nervously, trying not to worry about the woman he was afraid he may be falling in love with.