Chance of a Lifetime

by: Pendragon1980

The black Bronco kicked up clouds of dust as it turned off the main highway into the dirt road on its way to Hazzard, but the woman behind the wheel had barely noticed as she was deep in thought. Chance Walker was still trying to convince herself she was doing the right thing, leaving the lucrative career as a surgeon at the Atlanta General ER for running a family medical practice in the town of Hazzard.

“You know why you left” Chance told herself. “You’re tired of patching up people with blood alcohol levels higher than their IQs, and bullet holes in kids young enough to be your son.” Chance’s blue eyes narrowed at the last thought. Dr. Henry Appleby had offered her the position at his practice over a month ago, because he planned to retire after nearly 50 years of being the town’s physician. When Chance had accepted, she had just walked out of surgery on a drive-by shooting victim. Most of her colleagues had called her crazy for walking away. But frankly, she was tired of it all.

When the day came that Chance unexpectedly dropped out of contention for chief residency, it had been a typically hectic, grueling day in the ER. Chance was going over the chart of a heart surgery patient, following up care for a man who had been brought in from a local physician’s office in one of the rural towns around Atlanta. She barely glanced up when an older man walked into the room. He introduced himself as Dr. Henry Appleby of Hazzard. Visiting family physicians were hardly a rarity in the ER, so Chance thought little of the encounter, just casually discussing the patient’s condition and chatting in general. Dr. Appleby mentioned something about retiring and needing someone to “look after his town”, but the young doctor was preoccupied. And then her pager had gone off, a trauma was coming and she had to be there.

Over five hours later, Chance had left the OR, tired and frustrated after putting the 14-year-old boy’s spinal cord back together. Another tragic case of a kid simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A situation Chance saw too damned often in her line of work. She encountered Dr. Appleby back in the ER, and found herself accepting his offer to take over his family practice. The next day she gave the hospital her resignation and sent him the money order, most of her savings, to buy out the office building and everything within outright.

So within the space of 48 hours, Dr. Chance Walker went from being one of the most promising surgeons in Atlanta to soon-to-be the small town of Hazzard’s only physician.

Surely if she could handle the intensity of a big city ER, and her occasional side trips to the international Doctors Without Borders missions, a family practice would practically like retiring.

At 5’8, Chance was an unusually tall woman, towering over most other females she knew. Her lean, athletic look was thanks to keeping in shape to deal with sometimes grueling 12 hour ER shifts. Her long blonde hair, as unruly as its owner, hung loose down to the middle of her back, not for any sense of style but for the fact Chance never had the time or inclination to deal with it, except to pull it back for the OR. But the young doctor’s most striking feature was the cool, cobalt blue eyes that could one moment show warm amusement, then glittering intensity when she worked on a patient.
She was now headed to meet Dr. Appleby at his office in town. Chance had bought the entire building from Henry, and planned to renovate the attic into an apartment so she could be reached quickly in case of emergency. “If I can find the place…” She glanced down at the map the good doctor had drawn for her. “Hazzard isn’t even on the map.”

Unfortunately, when she glanced down, she missed the speed limit sign. The sudden blaring of a police car siren brought her head up with a start. She glanced backward over her shoulder and saw she had caught the attention of the local law. She groaned inwardly.

“What a fine way to start my new life in Hazzard.”

***

At the Hazzard Sheriff’s office, the CB radio resting upon the small book shelf that lies against the wall came to life. “Enos,” the sheriff’s familiar voice called through the static.

“Yes sheriff?” the deputy’s squeaky voice responded quickly with a hint of nervousness.

“I want you to meet me and Cletus at the road block up by the Hazzard Pond on Cotton Mill Road,” Rosco replied, “There’s a new suspicious vehicle that I’m now following a mile from the pond. Be on lookout for a black Bronco… don’t want no dangerous criminal on the prowl in Hazzard. Khee khee.”

“But sheriff,” Enos replied nervously, “just ’cause the car isn’t familiar around these parts, that don’t make it dangerous!”

“Oh shush you dipstick!” Rosco yelled over the CB, “We’ll find that out when we ticket the owner, until then, you keep it quiet. We don’t want no one finding out and spookin’ him!”

“Yes sir,” Enos replied with restraint.

Meanwhile, sitting at the booking desk, MaryAnne glared at the CB after hearing Rosco and Enos’s exchange. She picked up the mike.

“Rosco P. Coltrane, yer the last person in this county that I’d expect to be harrassin’ the tourists!”

“Will you hush! It ain’t no tourist!” the Sheriff replied.

“How do you know?”

“Because I know. For one thing, they’s speedin’, and that means they’re runnin’ away from something! And I’m gonna nail ’em. Khee! I’m gone…”

MaryAnne rolled her eyes and felt sorry for whoever was about to be introduced to the Sheriff of Hazzard County…

***

Chance had no intention of getting into any more trouble than she was in already. However, as luck would have it, the moment that Chance took to look behind her at the police car was the same moment that Cletus chose to pull his patrol car into the middle of the road to block her. All the good intentions in the world couldn’t have helped what happened next.

Chance looked forward, only to find herself not 15 feet from the passenger door of a second squad car.

“Holy Sh..” she sounded the horn and slammed on the brakes to avoid the squad car that had suddenly appeared, but the big black car couldn’t stop that quickly. The next sound was the sudden crunch of the Bronco slamming into squad car’s front right side. It was followed closely by a second crunch as the police car following her also didn’t make the stop in time.

Chance took a moment to collect herself, and instinctively checked for injuries. When she found none, thankfully, she got out of the car, and found herself once again unpleasantly surprised, this time to be looking at the business end of the pistol owned by the lawman has had been behind her.

“Alright, Fr-eeze! Just Freeze! I’m arresting you for speeding, reckless driving, damage to county property…”

“I beg your pardon, officer, but you didn’t give me enough time to…”

“Officer?! OFFICER?! I’m not a petty deputy, I’m sheriff in this county: Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, and if you know what’s good fer you, you won’t be adding resisting arrest to the charges.”

Chance idly rubbed her temples; this just wasn’t her day.

***

The sound of metal hitting metal caught the attention of another car which was also racing down the backroads of Hazzard. The General Lee, with Bo and Luke Duke inside, came to a screeching halt.

“Sounds like a wreck. Better go see if anyone got hurt.” Luke told his cousin.

“Ten-Four.” Bo swung the orange stock car around, and within a few moments they had the accident in their sights. And what an amusing sight it was. “Looks like Roscoe got another tourist.” But what caught the boys’ attention was not the black Bronco wedged between the two Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department’s vehicles, but rather the woman leaning against it as Rosco wrote tickets between his usual fits of giggles. Even from the distance, it was obvious the woman was not local and not that bad looking either… and not looking too happy at the moment.

Chance was busily trying to explain her business in Hazzard between Rosco’s questions. He didn’t pause to give Chance a break to answer amid his repeated exclamations of “Hush!” She didn’t notice the General Lee pulling up behind them. It wasn’t until she heard the sound of “Dixie” that she turned to see what had to be the most oddly colored car she had ever seen. And the two occupants climbing outside the windows, no less.

“Hey Rosco, we heard the crash and came to see if anyone needed help.”

“Well, I don’t need help from no Dukes, so you just git! This is official police business and I’m arresting this here…” Roscoe glanced down at the ID Chance had given him. “Chance Walker, and bringing her in for questioning.”

“Sheriff, I have to ask again, what did I do that warrants an investigation? I already admitted I was speeding and told you I’d pay for the damages to the other…”

“Hush!”

Chance rolled her eyes skyward, as if seeking divine guidance. Bo chuckled at her predicament.

“Don’t mind Rosco none, he’s probably so tickled to actually have someone willing to pay for both the ticket and damages that he’s stringing this out as long as he can.”

“Be that as it may, I do have an appointment in Hazzard that I can’t miss.”

“Oh Tiddely-Tuddely, and just who would a city-slicker like yourself be meeting in Hazzard?”

“Dr. Henry Appleby. He’s expecting me at his office.”

Luke gave the newcomer a once-over while idly rubbing his chin. “You sure don’t look sick to me.”

Chance’s glare clearly showed Luke wasn’t winning any points with her with that comment. “I’m not sick, I’m a doctor. I’m taking over Henry’s practice when he retires next week.”

“That’s funny, Doc Appleby never said anything about a replacement. Certainly not a lady doctor as pretty as you.” Bo grinned widely. Chance rolled her eyes again and wondered which episode of the Twilight Zone she had blundered into.

“Will you all just Hush! This lady, doctor or not, is coming with me. I’m arresting her. Khee!”

Chance sighed wearily. “Alright, if it will simplify matters, I’ll go with you, sheriff. But what about my car?”

The deputy whose car Chance had plowed into had been quietly observing until now “If you’d like, I’ll call Cooter and have him tow your car to his garage and let Doc Appleby know you’re gonna be late.”

***

“All right!” Chance raised her hands, as if to prevent anything else happening or any other Hazzardites showing up for what was apparently the social event of the year. “Sheriff, I’ll go with you and straighten this mess out. Let’s just get out of here before the three-piece band gets here as well. If this “Cooter”, whoever he is, can repair my car and the patrol cars, I’ll pay for damages.” Chance got into the patrol car before anything else could happen to complicate matters, as if she hadn’t already just wrecked her brand new Bronco, and was in immediate danger of spending her first night in Hazzard in the county jail.

“Jit, Jit! You just don’t go causing no trouble or I’ll have to cuff ya and stuff ya.” Rosco warned Chance as he got into the driver’s seat. The patrol car pulled away.

The Duke Cousins watched Rosco and the doctor lady leave.

“Doctor or not, Doc Appleby’s pretty lady friend looked ready to spit nails.” Bo told Luke.

“Don’t blame her, hell of a way to be welcomed to Hazzard.”

***

The town of Hazzard turned out to be just as quaint and charming as Doc Appleby promised, except Chance wasn’t feeling very charmed at the moment, having spent the better part of the drive being lectured by Rosco on the basic dos and don’ts of Hazzard law. It was the first time in a long time that he’d had someone at his disposal that was too polite to interrupt, and not inclined to run away.

Getting out of the patrol car in front of the Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department, Chance had barely reached the steps with Rosco when she actually heard her name being called.

“Chance. Chance Walker!” Doc Appleby was looking none too pleased. “What in tarnation’s happened? When you were late, I called Cletus on the CB and he told me you were arrested?!”

“Apparently, there was a slight misunderstanding coming into town.”

“Slight?! Enos said you wrecked two patrols cars and your own…”

“Jit, yeah, she scuffed them up good.”

“Sheriff, please, not now. C’mon, Chance, let’s get inside and see if we can get this squared away.” Chance and Doc Appleby followed Rosco into the office. The Sheriff shook his finger sternly at Chance.

“Now you just stay here while I have a talk with the Boss, and he’ll decide what to fine ya.”

Once the sheriff was gone, Chance looked wearily at the older doctor. “Things always this quiet in Hazzard? Makes me think the Atlanta ER would be good for a vacation spot.”

Doc Appleby chuckled. “You have no idea.”

Chance didn’t have to wait long before the sheriff returned, followed by an extremely rotund man in a white suit, a fat cigar hanging from the corner of his mouth. There’s a cardiologist’s worse nightmare, or dream come true, depending on your point of view.

“Boss, there is the suspicious character I was telling you about. A here’s the list of charges.”

“Boss…”, if Chance got the name right, leafed through the papers Rosco had handed him. “Well, well, speeding, reckless driving, damage to county property, resisting arrest… and driving with a broken turn signal.”

“Now wait a minute, my turn signal was working fine… before the crash, that is.”

“Oh…” Boss Hogg looked skeptical. “Can you provide evidence to that fact?”

“Well, no, but…”

“No buts, except yours… in the county lockup if you cannot provide payment for damage and fines, to the amount of…” Boss considered this, and added a bit for his own trouble “five hundred dollars.”

“Five Hundred!” Chance could afford it, but it was a bit of a stretch considering she had sunk most of her savings into buying Doc Appleby’s office building. Affording it was one thing, but Doc had a feeling that if she opened her checkbook now, the Hazzard boss would be squeezing her every chance he got. Hell, she dealt with insurance companies and Medicare, one round little county boss didn’t frighten her. She caught sight of the picture of Boss and Lulu on the wall, and felt a smile forming. She kept her tone casual.

“Boss, how would you feel if my first act as Hazzard’s new medical official was informing your wife of your new dietary needs? I mean, a man of your… stature, my professional recommendation would be to cut out all cigars, booze, red meat, sugar…” Chance grabbed a pen and paper from the nearby desk and starting writing her “prescription” for Mrs. Hogg.

Doc Appleby saw what Chance was getting at. “Better add a regime of heavy cardiovascular exercise to that, Chance.”

Hogg’s eyes had widened with every beloved vice that Chance had mentioned, and was in the process of turning an unattractive shade of red. “You… you wouldn’t dare!”

“And, with Doc Appleby here to concur, what devoted wife wouldn’t listen to the advice of not one, but two doctors?”

“That’s blackmail!”

Henry grinned. “Seems she catches on fast to Hazzard thinking, what ya say, Hogg, your freedom for hers?”

“But, but… All right, all right! Rosco, tear up those charges!”

Chance looked concerned at Hogg’s color, which right now was going from red to purple. “I hope he doesn’t have a heart attack. I don’t want to have to resuscitate him.”

Doc Appleby visible shuddered at the concept. “Don’t look at me!”

***

Watching all this from the booking desk, MaryAnne had kept quiet. This Chance Walker was certainly getting a crash-course education on Hazzard County. She stood up and came down from the booking desk to join the group.

“Well,” she said.

Boss looked at her, pointing a finger and his cigar at her. “Don’t you start with me too, MaryAnne.”

“You mean I can’t join in on the fun here?”

“Jit! MaryAnne, hush.”

MaryAnne turned to Rosco, blue eyes regarding her cousin in a cold stare that made Rosco flinch. “YOU hush. Seein’ as there’s an audience here, I’ll save reading the riot act at you both for later!” MaryAnne turned and faced Chance and Doc Appleby.

“I apologize for the conduct of our Sheriff and County Commissioner. Doc told several of us that you were coming. I hope you understand that this ain’t our usual red carpet treatment for new arrivals.”

***

Chance’s anger deflated a little. At least one Coltrane was somewhat sane. “That’s alright, deputy. In a town this small, I have a feeling me and the Coltranes will cross paths again.”
Placing her hands on her hips, she glared at Rosco. She poked Sheriff Coltrane, who had been the source of most of today’s aggravation, in the chest. “As for you…

“Chance! C’mon, let’s get out of here, before you DO end up in jail.” Chance’s temper in the Atlanta ER was legendary, Doc Appleby knew if she started into the sheriff with her temper, she wound ended up regretting it. And Rosco, I wouldn’t make Dr. Walker mad if I were you. Never anger a woman who knows her way about a scalpel.” Doc Appleby added over his shoulder.

***

The Hazzard medical clinic was a three-story red brick building sitting in Hazzard Square, opposite to Cooter’s garage. The first story consisted of the reception area, the doctor’s office and exam room, the second was patients’ rooms and a room that double as a supply room and X-ray, the third was Chance’s new loft apartment. Chance had had the attic converted for living quarters so she could be found quickly and easily in case of medical emergencies, not that there were many of those in Hazzard.

Doc Appleby was explaining all this while walking to the clinic when his words stopped. Chance noticed this. “What’s wrong?” She turned to see the elderly doctor had come to a sudden stop. A young mother was sitting at the clinic steps with the young boy in her arms.

“Doc Appleby, you have to help little David. He’s got worse since you saw him!”

Even at this distance, Chance noticed the bluish undertone to his skin and the very slow rise and fall of his chest.

Chance didn’t give the mother a chance to elaborate; she picked up the boy and carried him into the clinic, the woman and Doc Appleby close behind.

The young doctor carried the boy into the exam room, forgetting everything else that had happened that day. She laid the boy gently down, he didn’t even react. Doc glanced back behind her, Doc Appleby was reassuring the mother quietly. But Chance’s focus was on the child.

The young boy was laying in the center of the exam table, very quiet, hardly moving. In any other case, the boy could have been sleeping.

“How long has he been like this?”

His mother looked confused. “About an hour, maybe longer. I was relieved he finally settled down after crying all day.”

Crying nothing! This kid is out of breath and not getting oxygen.

“I saw him yesterday. His mother brought him into my office for strep throat. He was pale before, but nothing like that.”

Chance lowered her head and her voice so the mother couldn’t hear. There was no need to panic her. “This isn’t strep, Henry. This boy is turning blue.” She nodded to the mother. “You need to get her out so I can examine him without her panicking.”

As Doc Appleby ushered the mother out, reassuring her quietly, Chance placed the medical case on the table and retrieved a stethoscope and small flashlight. Placing the scope around her head and onto David’s chest, she listened intently to his breathing. Frowning, she shook her head. “It’s too slow.” Using the flashlight, she looked down David’s throat. The inside was fire red and swollen so far that even in his listless condition, the toddler squirmed and winced as Chance gently probed his throat column with her hands. “Oh yeah” she said, “Those tonsils are more than ripe, and his throat’s not just swollen, its infected as well.” Chance shone the light over David’s eyes, checking his pupils. She paused, frowned and repeated the procedure. When Chance looked up at Doc Appleby’s return, she spoke quietly so as not to spook the worried mother. But her eyes held true concern.

“This boys got more than just strep throat complicated with tonsillitis, look to this.” Chance handed Doc Appleby the light and let the older doctor shine it into his eyes, checking the pupils.

“My God, how did I miss that?”

Chance nodded grimly. “His throat is closed shut. He’s not getting enough oxygen. We have to move fast.”

“What do you want to do?”

“What’s the closest hospital?”

“Atlanta ER.”

“Call the ER and get an ambulance down here. Tell them we have a child with breathing complications that needs to go into OR stat.”

“It’ll take about 45 minutes to get here.”

“WHAT?!”

“Old country back roads, Chance, and there’s no shortcuts.”

“Alright, we need to get his airways unblocked and quickly. If we can control the swelling or bypass it, we can gain some time.” Ok… Chance’s thoughts raced. What I need is a sterile OR, a tray full of equipment and a capable nurse…” What do I HAVE? A duffel bag full of basic supplies, a 50 year old medical office, and a 70-year-old family doctor… crap.

Chance looked around, thinking quickly. “Can we move David?”

“I think the extra stress would make things worse. Can you get those things here?”

“It’s a medical office, not an emergency center.”

“Damn!” Chance ran her hands through her hair, totally frustrated. She sat back and thought, with the grim realization that there was one course of action. From the medical bag she took a small sterile knife, alcohol swabs, and a piece of clear hollow tubing. A quick slice of the knife chopped the tubing to about a three inch length. Doc Appleby looked confused at first, then it dawned on him what Chance was about to do. He grabbed her wrist.

“Chance, wait, you can’t perform a tracheotomy here!”

“We can’t wait for the ambulance, we do this now and get that ambulance here on time, and this kid might have a chance!”

“But…”

“No buts, you can either give me a hand or leave the room, Henry.” Chance’s voice quietened to a whisper. “If we wait until the ambulance gets here, this child will be dead.”

Doc Appleby was quiet for a moment. He looked at the distraught mother through the crack in the door. “We have to tell them what we’re about to do. We owe them at least that much.”

Chance nodded grimly, straightening. She approached the distraught woman, who looked up at her, expectantly. Chance found she had to swallow before speaking. “Your son’s condition is much worse than we thought. His throat is swollen to the point where he’s having difficulty breathing. Dr. Appleby is calling an ambulance to take him to Atlanta ER right now, but in the meantime, I’m going to have to perform a tracheotomy on him so he can get enough oxygen. I’m going to make a small incision in his throat and place a small piece of hollow tubing so air can get through without going through his mouth and nose.” The young woman paled.

“And if you don’t?”

Chance swallowed again and hoped she can say the words without stammering “Then David will die before ambulance arrives.”

Shaking now, her hands covering her mouth, the woman could only nod. “Please… do what you can to help my boy.”

Doc Appleby asked. “Is there anyone we can do?”

“Call the ambulance and tell them to hurry. Then pray.”

Chance nodded, the poor woman trusted her to save him and be damned if she wouldn’t. “Let’s go” she said, following Doc Appleby into the exam room, quietly closing the door behind her. There was no need for an audience for what she was about to do to the boy.

“Chance?” Doc Appleby’s voice broke into her thoughts. She glanced back to him setting the phone down. “The ambulance is on its way. If we’re gonna do this, we gotta do this now.”

Once inside, Chance and Doc Appleby quickly set to work. Doc Appleby positioned himself to one side of David to hold him still while Chance went to the other side of the desk, setting her instruments down. She swabbed David’s neck with alcohol, and brought her surgical knife to his throat. She handed Doc Appleby the piece of tubing. “When I cut, as soon as you see air bubbles in the blood, widen the incision just far enough to slip the tube through.”

Doc Appleby nodded, his eyes grim. “Just stay steady.”

Chance leaned David’s head back, placed the knife tip to the boy’s skin and took a steadying breath. Her hands were quick and calm as they made the incision, and held the boy as Doc Appleby slid the tubing in. The whole procedure took less than 5 minutes, but it seemed like hours to the two doctors who held the young boy’s life in their hands. Chance cleaned the incision and placed bandages around to secure the tube. Only then did she release the breath she had been holding. She held her hand above the tubing, and sighed in relief when she felt the movement of air as David inhaled and exhaled.

“It’s working, he’s breathing.”

“Thank God. Will it hold until the ambulance gets here?”

“It should.” Chance jerked her head towards the door. “Better let the mother in to see the boy, and let her know everything’s gonna be ok.”

“Chance?”

“Yeah?”

“You saved this boy’s life.” When Chance raised her eyebrows questioningly, Doc added “Not that I had any doubts, but I wanted to be the first to say it.” Doc Appleby smiled at his young colleague and went outside to give the news to the family.

Chance listened to Doc Appleby’s voice as he explained what they had done, and reassured them that while David’s condition was still serious, the child was out of immediate danger. Chance looked down at the small boy. In the few minutes since she and Doc Appleby had created a new airway, some of his color was returning and he didn’t feel so cold. The life before her seemed so fragile. She thought about what could have happened, had she not been here when she had…

Chance felt her throat constrict. She frowned. This was an unusual reaction for her to have about a patient. She had seen worse injuries, with worse chances of survival, several times a day at the ER. Why was this young boy shaking her usual calm so badly?

“They’re here,” Doc Appleby interrupted, running into the exam room, followed by the mother. Chance stepped back so the mother could get to the table, touching her son’s forehead.

“Your son should be fine now. Once he gets to the hospital, they’ll take him straight up to surgery and they’ll probably want to keep him overnight for observation.” God, she sounded so clinical… Chance watched Doc Appleby comfort the family.

Chance watched the tender scene of the town doctor speaking to the mother. She was huddled around the small child as the paramedics were lifting little David into a stretcher. Chance felt something tighten in her chest and her eyes burn. This was small example of what she was looking for. They trusted Doc Appleby so much. Family. Community. Something she never had in Atlanta. Looking around, she saw that everyone was distracted, and no one would notice if she had a moment to collect herself.

Chance managed to slip out without anyone seeing. She left the clinic, stepped onto the porch steps and sat down. Only then did she let her usual professionalism fall. Her shoulders sagged a bit and she brought a hand up to her eyes. Chance realized belatedly that she never even got the mother’s name. She had moved with the instinct of an ER doctor. Another nameless, faceless patient… old habits die hard, I guess…

That had been close, too damned close. If she had not been there when she had, the boy probably would have died tonight. If she hadn’t been in Hazzard that day… hell, if she hadn’t crashed into the patrol car… She needed to think, calm down and catch her breath.

She heard footsteps on the steps, and looked up to see Doc Appleby. “I’m sorry for losing my temper with the sheriff before. It’s not one of my best qualities.”

“But definitely never makes for a dull moment.”

Chance snorted. “Definitely. But you don’t make many new friends that way.”

“You can’t scare me off that easy, I’m a doctor too, remember?”

Chance was quiet for a moment. “Henry, I don’t think I ever told me about the patient that clinched me coming to Hazzard, did I?” She looked down into her hands, trying to find the words.”

“Well, no, but I didn’t think it was any of my business.”

“He was a 13-year-old boy. The victim of a drive-by shooting. Just at the wrong place at the wrong time. You should have seen him coming into the ER. He was covered in blood, at least 4 wounds, one just below the spinal cord. He…” Chance swallowed before continuing. “He must have crashed twice on the way to the ER. They kept saying that it was no good, that he was finished, that even if he lived he’d be paralyzed from the neck down. But I keep bringing him back to the table. I worked on that kid’s spine for 5 hours. He lived, and he’ll walk with help.” Chance looked at the floor before looking back up at the older doctor. “When I came back down to the ER after that surgery, that kid was already forgotten. Just another patient in an endless line of patients. Not one other doctor, nurse, resident or patient cared whether that child had lived or died. That’s when I knew that volume hospital work wasn’t for me. But here in Hazzard, I’ll know each patient by name, by their face, and they will know that I’ll do everything in my power to help them. That’s real medicine.

“You’re find real medicine in Hazzard, Doc. Maybe not just for your patient, but perhaps for you too.” The older doctor grasped her shoulder tightly before heading back into the clinic

Chance looked up at the stars, and realized night had fallen since they had arrived. She idly thought that they never looked so bright, so close, in the city. She looked back at her first day in town, crashing into the sheriff’s car, blackmailing the county boss, and performing emergency surgery on a child in her office. Chance sighed, glanced heavenward and wondered again what she got herself into. “Welcome to Hazzard, Doc.”

***

Epilogue

Chance left the Boar’s Nest. She stood by her bike, pulling on her gloves and breathing in the night air, happier than she had been in a long time. A new life was ahead of her, and there was no telling what was going to happen next.

She straddled the red racing bike. Chance had almost pulled on her helmet when she was suddenly illuminated by the headlights of a car pulling into the Boar’s Nest. She squinted, unable to see the unfamiliar car at first. Then she understood why. It was a black car on a black night, and only the chrome gave a hint of the shape and no hint of the driver. For a moment, Chance stood perfectly still, like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. She couldn’t understand why… but she waited.

The long black car made a slow circuit around the parking lot before finding a spot next to the General Lee. Deliberately, the black Chevy parked it’s passenger side close to the orange Charger, giving anyone climbing into the General’s driver side a tough time of it.

The Chevy’s driver stepped out, pleased with his early mischief. Any free beer night at the Boar’s Nest meant free fights, and Brian had showed up late on purpose. The Duke’s reflexes ought to be just a little slower by now, whereas Brian himself was cold sober. He walked towards the Boar’s Nest entrance, shoulders squared and spine straight, anticipating an evening’s rowdy entertainment.

But he forgot all about the free beer, the Dukes, and anything else, with one glance at the red motorcycle and the wild-looking blonde woman who straddled it. She was tall, lithe-bodied, wearing riding leathers and holding a motorcycle helmet. And Lord help him, her elegant face was turned in his direction, a sensuous hello-who-are-you smile curving her red-tinted lips.

Brian walked towards her, compelled, fascinated by the sight of those long legs holding up the motorcycle. He kept his approach easy, casual, his leather jacket hanging open at the shoulders. He avoided reaching up to brush back the tuft of brown hair that always hung over his temple; but the instinct to preen himself was pulling at him. Too late, though….she had already seen him as he was. Black-clothed, dark-eyed, and predatory; not the kind of man most girls in Hazzard County wanted a damn thing to do with….

Except her smile grew wider as he approached, as if she’d known he’d come to her. She was tall, confident, and unafraid as he came to stand next to her. All at once, Brian realized who she was; he had heard the stories of the race, which he had missed during his foray to Atlanta. Looking at her now, he was sorry he missed it.

She was staring at him with that smile; waiting for him to say something.

Brian glanced down at the motorcycle. He reached out to touch the new paint, brushing his fingertips over it in admiration. “Nice bike,” he said with a smooth Atlantan drawl. “But are you really as fast…as they say you are?”

He ended the words with a cavalier smile. His dark eyes drifted up from the bike, giving her a deep gaze.

Chance smiled herself. That was an introduction she could appreciate. For a moment, Chance didn’t reply nor did she get off the bike, but remained where she was and made a slow and very through visual inspection of the man standing before her, not missing the way the black tee underneath the jacket stretched over a muscular chest, nor the way the black jeans hugged the legs and definitely not the way the dark eyes stared back at her, a depthless dark gaze that belonged to a night hunter. All put together made a very, very attractive specimen indeed. Tall, very dark, and very very handsome.

She boldly leaned forward on the bike a bit, and answered the stranger’s question. Chance’s own voice was low and smooth, by nature rather by design, with just a taste of a southern drawl, despite the orphanages attempts to train the “southern” out of her voice.

“Faster.”

The answer sent a hot thrill through Brian’s blood. It wasn’t a safe answer for any lady to give; clearly this woman enjoyed playing with fire. Just like he did.

There were opportunities in life that only came around once. Brian knew that if he didn’t claim this woman now, he’d never catch her again. That much was clear in the way she was leaning over her bike…daring him to up the ante.

And so he moved around her, and swung one leg over the bike, setting himself in behind her. He sat closely, his own jacket creaking slightly as he shifted his weight, fitting himself snugly against the back of her body. He kept his hands off her…for now…but he leaned forward, speaking with a low drawl into her ear, his breath stirring a wisp of that blonde, silky hair.

“In that case….ah’d love to go for a ride.”

Any other time, an act as bold as this would be been answered with Chance leaving a set of skid marks as she backed up over the unfortunate soul with her bike. But there something about this man, despite the black clothes and deadly good looks, she felt safe with him. Besides who was she to resist the warmth, strength and masculine power now so nicely nestled against her back. She dropped the helmet to the ground, deciding this would be a good night to feel the night air over skin and through her hair. She’d be back for it later. Maybe.

This night held endless possibilities and Chance had a feeling this dangerously charming stranger was thinking the same thing.

So with a raised eyebrow and wicked grin, she looked back at her impromptu passenger, the motion bringing their faces to almost touching.

“Oh you’ll get one, but you have to hold on tight. I don’t want to lose you.”

“I might nevah let go,” Brian answered with a smile. He wrapped his arms around her, locking a sure hold around her slender waist.

Sounded like a good deal to Chance, the feel of the strong arms wrapped around her was more than pleasant. And natural, as if they had done this before. Balancing the bike carefully, she leaned forward, as one does on a sports bike. That, of course, forced her passenger to lean with her. She could feel his breath against her neck and the contours of his body behind her. Definitely more the pleasant. She revved up the throttle and grinned mischievously over her shoulder.

“Let’s see what trouble we can get into.”

“The opportunities are endless,” Brian answered with a murmured drawl. He held the blonde woman close, both of them leaning over the bike, bodies melded together…

…and Brian knew that he was in for one helluva ride.

Chance couldn’t agree more, and the thought of exploring those possibilities with the man behind her was thrilling. She brought up her legs to tuck her feet into the rests and let the bike bolt forward from the parking lot, sending up a cloud of dust. Once they were on pavement, she hit the throttle and let the bike fly, carrying both of them to wherever they wanted to go.

Now that she was a permanent resident of Hazzard, with a new life to live here. The dark stranger was right about one thing, the opportunities were endless….
Chance had the feeling she was in for the ride of her life.

=====THE END=====

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