twin-of-fire

Excerpt: Twin of Fire

Prologue

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

April 1892

“Surprise!” eleven people shouted as Blair Chandler entered the dining room of her Uncle Henry’s house. She was a pretty young woman, with dark brown hair highlighted with red glints, wide-set blue-green eyes, a straight, aristocratic nose and a small, perfectly shaped mouth.

Blair paused for a moment, blinking back tears of happiness, as she looked at the people in front of her. There were her aunt and uncle, Alan beside them, watching her with love in his eyes, and surrounding him were her fellow medical students—one woman and seven men. As they beamed at her with pleasure, standing behind the table heaped with gifts, she couldn’t seem to remember the past few years of struggle to graduate and earn her medical degree.

Aunt Flo, with the grace of a young girl, hurried forward. “Don’t just stand there, dear. Everyone is dying to see your gifts.”

“This one first,” Uncle Henry said, holding out a large package. Blair thought she knew what was in the box, but she was afraid to hope. When she tore away the wrapping and saw the leather case with the clean, new medical instruments, she sat down heavily in the chair behind her, unable to speak. All she could do was run a finger over the brass plate on the bag. It read: Dr. B. Chandler, M.D.

Alan broke the awkward silence. “Is this the woman who put the rotten eggs in the surgeon instructor’s wardrobe? Is this the woman who stood up to the entire Philadelphia Board of Hospitals?” Bending, he put his lips close to her ear. “Is this the woman who placed first in the exams at St. Joseph’s and became the first woman to intern on their staff?”

It was a moment before Blair could react. “Me?” she whispered, looking up at him, her mouth open in disbelief.

“You won your internship,” Aunt Flo said, her face beaming. “You’re to start in July, just as soon as you return from your sister’s wedding.”

Blair was looking from one person to the other. She had tried her best for St. Joseph’s, had even hired a tutor to help her prepare for the tests, but she’d been told that this city hospital, as opposed to a women’s clime, did not accept female physicians.

She turned to her Uncle Henry. “You’ve had a hand in this, haven’t you?”

Henry swelled his big barrel chest with pride. “I merely made a wager that if my niece didn’t score higher than anyone ever had on their test, they didn’t have to give her a position. In fact, I told them you’d even consider giving up medicine and staying home to take care of Alan. I don’t think they could resist the chance to see a lady doctor brought to her senses.”

For a moment, Blair felt a little weak. She’d had no idea that so much had been riding on that treacherous three-day test.

“You made it,” Alan laughed. “Although I’m not sure I like being the consolation prize.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “Congratulations, sweetheart. I know how much you wanted this.”

Aunt Flo handed her a letter that gave confirmation that she had indeed been accepted at St. Joseph’s Hospital for  internship. Blair clutched the paper to her breast and looked at the people around her. Right now, she thought, my entire life is stretching before me—and it is perfect. I have family, friends; I am going to be allowed to train at one of the finest hospitals in the U.S.; and I have Alan, the man I love.

She rubbed her cheek against Alan’s hand as she looked at the shiny medical instruments. She was going to realize her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor and marry this kind, loving man.

All that remained was for her to return to Chandler, Colorado, and attend the marriage of her twin sister. Blair was looking forward to seeing her again after all these years, and to the two of them sharing their happiness about the men they’d chosen, about the lives they’d chosen for themselves.

And while she was in Chandler, Alan was going to visit and meet her mother and sister. They would formally announce their engagement then, the wedding to be held after both she and Alan finished their internships.

Blair smiled up at her friends, wanting to share her happiness with everyone. Just another month, and all that she’d worked for would begin.