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Lust on the Rocks is the next novel in this series, followed by Whisper Privileges.
Jennifer Hamilton glanced at her mother again, sweeping her pencil across crisp white paper as she outlined the seated figure before her. "Gosh, it feels good to have a pencil in my hand again," she said, her fingers never stopping as she sketched in a horizon line, her point of reference to denote distance and space. "It's been years since I last picked up pad and paper." Yet it felt so natural, like she hadn't skipped a day.
Beatrice Hamilton smiled. "Med school has a way of doing that to a schedule."
Jennifer sighed. "And residency, private practice..." She laughed. "Sometimes it feels like I have time for nothing else!"
Her mother smiled. "Wait until you add a husband and children to the mix. Talk about no time, my goodness!"
The mention of Aurelio warmed Jennifer's mood a degree. A gust of wind lifted the hair from her neck, its cool air a welcome break from the late afternoon heat. Casting another glance toward the Coral Gables Mediterranean-style building, Jennifer framed-in the main structure, arced a few lines to represent windows and doorways, emphasizing the contrast between the dark brown of their casings against the vanilla-colored stucco, then lightly smudged the lead for a shadow effect. A few waves across the top and she had the beginnings of the barrel-tiled rooftop.
Though she hadn't drawn in years, her ease of motion felt as though she'd never missed a beat, drawing every day of her life. And the release. Drawing opened her spirit, unleashed her imagination. It gave her a sense of freedom, of inhibition.
Next she focused on the trees. With a few choppy strokes, she depicted the natural fall of oversized palm fronds swaying heavy in the wind, their bowed trunks lazy yet strong-strong enough to endure the hurricanes that whipped through this city every year! But living in South Florida, one became accustomed to such thrill.
"Time management," she declared, feathering in the wispy tips. "I'll just have to make sure I'm on top of my time management skills."
"You will be, darling. If anyone can juggle career and family, I know it will be you."
Jennifer stopped. She peered at her mom. "You've always been my biggest fan, haven't you..."
Jennifer smiled. No question, no doubt. Only love. Which made her mother's impending passing all the more difficult. Thrusting her pencil back into motion, Jennifer didn't want to dwell in thought. She wanted to continue, to enjoy their time together and this catharsis of sketching. It reminded her of days gone by, time lost in the sand wriggled beneath her toes. Hours and minutes felt the same, afternoons drifted into the ocean as she drew-what she saw, what she felt.
What she wanted.
Scrutinizing the emerging scene, Jennifer was pleased with her progress. Ready to trace the delicate features of her mother's face, she settled in for a closer look. Age had nothing on her mother. Blue eyes shone bright and her skin glowed, flushed with healthy tones of pink. Hers was a beauty that persisted in graceful defiance. Why, if you didn't know better, you'd swear she was the picture of health.
Both women turned.
Jennifer stiffened as Dr. Roberts drew near.
Fully gray, balding in the middle, his mouth was set in a stern line. "They told me I'd find you out here." Placing folded hands behind his back, he glanced at the pad in Jennifer's hand with disapproval. "If you can spare a moment, I came to discuss your mother's medications."
Jennifer rose from the stone bench. Lowering pad and pencil against her body, she replied, "Yes?"
"We need to increase dosages."
"According to the nurses, she's been experiencing more severe pain. At this stage, I suggest an increase to encourage rest."
Jennifer hardened her gaze. Put her to sleep, you mean.
"It's not unexpected at this stage."
"It's not what she wants."
"The nurses are with her twenty-four hours a day." He pulled his arms forward and crossed them over his chest. A wiry man, he barely put a dent in the starched white lab coat he wore. "I think they know best."
"My mother knows full well the ramifications of her meds."
"Under the circumstances-"