Beyond that, here's your eye candy.
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The hands of the clock near the door showed a few seconds past four when the ever-perky Nurse Joy sailed through for Gail’s hourly check. Every hour on the hour Joy swept into the room with her cute little chipmunk cheeks dimpled in a happy smile and began the process of poking, prodding and monitor checking. True to form, the cartoon clad nurse shone a light in her eyes and grabbed a wrist lightly humming in tune to the piped in music still circulating over the speakers.
“I thought the reason people stayed was to get rest,” Gail was pissed. Her voice still slurred, her head still hurt and things seemed to have a weird aura to them. She was starting to look forward to seeing the big orderly who pushed her bed around with all the empathy of a grocery cart. He at least, still appeared perfectly normal when she looked at him. The doctor had this funny glow and good old Joy practically gave off light in the dark, it was an odd greenish glow that didn’t touch her skin or looks but was just there. Like a nimbus or a corona. After a few seconds of staring the haze faded and Gail felt her hopes rise. Maybe it was just a side effect of the concussion or the anesthetic.
“I am sorry, but I do have to wake you every hour to make sure you sleep normally and don’t fall into a coma.” Gail stared slack jawed at the peevish teacher-like voice. Hello? Just because she had a concussion didn’t mean she was knocked brainless. She was pissy and hurt, she should be allowed to bitch. Joy picked that moment to poke her fingers at the base of Gail’s skull. Reflexively, she grabbed the smaller woman’s wrist and squeezed. Hard.
“I do unnerstan’. But let me explain somethin’ to you.” Gail fought to keep her voice strong; her traitorous tongue wanted to do the Tequila Tango. “That fuckin’ hurts, it hurt an hour ago, and it’ll hurt an hour from now. Leave it the fuck alone.” Gail nearly dropped the woman’s wrist as the glow flared back into existence turning from lime green to a weird pumpkin. Instead of shimmering it pulsed in time to Joy’s heartbeat. Slightly freaked she dropped her grip.
“Jesus…nurse Joy and pumpkin bolts of lightning...Raichu isn’t it? I see it now, this is like a joke. I am stuck in some Pokémon nightmare.” Almost instantly the glow steadied and resumed the green shimmer before fading.
“I hear the Pokémon thing a lot more when I work pediatrics. That’s my regular beat if you can tell.” The younger woman attempted a strained smile as she indicated her cartooned uniform. “I didn’t know you had a kid. You know, to know about Nurse Joy.” Gail’s eyes drooped. The need for sleep was winning out over her pain and irritation.
“No kids, guys on crew…I babysit some…go birthdays.” It seemed like all she did was blink and the clock went from reading quarter past four to five and again to six. Someone must have taken pity because the next time Gail pried her eyes open sunlight flooded the room through half-closed window slats.
“Gail,” breathed a voice from the shadows, “how are you girl?” She squinted at the dark shape in the chair.
“Mr. Seiff?” her voice sounded froggy. Reaching unsteadily she found a small plastic cup, beaded with moisture sporting a straw. The water tasted better than it should have and she nearly forgot about her visitor as she looked around for a way to refill the now empty cup.
“Ah, here you go, Gail.” He stood up and set something on her knees as he picked up a mauve colored plastic pitcher and refilled her cup. “I wanted to ask you what you remembered from yesterday. And to show you how lucky you were just to have a concussion.”
Gail struggled to work the confusing buttons on the bed to allow her to sit without turning contortionist. Something of her feelings must have shown on her face because the careworn features of her boss broke into a huge smile. “Hospital beds bite,” he agreed as she wrestled with the sheet and alleged blanket.
“What’s this?” she gripped a broken piece of bloody plastic in her hand.
“That, Ms. Hardesty, is what is left of your hard hat.” The voice came from her left, startling her so much she nearly fell out of the bed as she jerked in reaction. It was an incredible voice, dark and deep like an opera singer, full bodied. The man, however, was unusually ordinary. Dark brown hair framed an almost perfect face. The lines of his cheeks, nose and jaw had a rugged cast rather than scalpel smooth flawlessness turning what could have been breath-taking male beauty down the road to regular Joe.
Yet, there was something that drew her gaze, changed her heartbeat and made her hormones want to howl at the moon. Blinking, Gail tried to understand her reaction to the stranger sitting relaxed at her bedside. Then it struck her, the weird aura thing she’d been experiencing didn’t just surround him like an indelible line, it played along his features like a lover’s paintbrush. There was a bluish cast to the skin of his tented fingers and relaxed face. Yet around his eyes and mouth there was a crimson film. For a moment she could have sworn that the gold of his irises actually glowed under his dark brows.
Without thinking she shook her head to clear it and nearly bit off the tip of her tongue as pain exploded behind her eyes. Like the night before it seemed to want to rip through the top of her head at the one spot on the left. “Son of a bitch,” she moaned massaging her fingers around her eyes and cheeks trying to loosen some of the excruciating pressure-pain.
“Ms. Hardesty?” the incredibly sexy voice drew her like a magnet, regardless of the throbbing. His voice had texture, she marveled between heartbeats of misery. Then she nearly lost the battle between her heaving stomach and the titling room as she looked at the unknown man again. The burst of aural color had fled and this time his skin tinged blue, eyes glowed gold and the sharp, bloodstained teeth of a predator smiled at her as the shadows coalesced into the shape of dark wings. Gail screamed in terror before her mind short circuited sending her into oblivion.
“Women don’t usually fall at my feet,” Kyle Atwood joked. He had just barely managed to grab the woman’s shoulders before she could tumble out of the bed. She had been as much a surprise to the vampire prince.
“Damn, I hope that head injury didn’t screw her up permanently. We need her,” Sieff patted a pale hand, tucking it beneath the covers as he pushed the alert button next to the bed summoning a nurse. Kyle arched a dark brow at the other man’s skewed sense of concern. For millennia humanity had accused his people of being unfeeling, but nothing compared to modern America for a true lack of compassion.
“Oh don’t get me wrong,” the older man caught the look of amused disgust on Kyle’s face. “Gail is a great lady. She’s more than just a construction project manager to me. Almost like a daughter, I’ve known her so long, but I know how bad she hates being laid up. Last year some fool accidentally shot her in the leg with a nail gun.” With a shake of his salt and pepper head over the memory, Sieff grinned in pride at the limp woman. “Never known for her fainting, she’s plenty tough. That day she gritted her teeth, glared down the cowboy with the gun and picked up a claw hammer cool as you please and pulled the nail out.”
Kyle stepped back from the bed, at once repulsed by the casual pride the other man took in the woman’s unfeminine spirit yet oddly attracted to her strength. It seemed like only yesterday that women were feted and cosseted, every whim indulged and every injury fretted over with the greatest of care in regard to their more delicate constitution. In the space of a mere handful of years woman had truly evolved into the more deadly of the species of man.
Curiously he stared at her true face revealed under the duress of pain and wondered if she would be the one. Marble cool skin the color of unpainted porcelain slid smoothly under a questing fingertip. She glowed with life, energy and potential as brilliantly as the moon. For all he knew, she could be equally unattainable.
A heavyset nurse bustled into the room with a scowl on her face. Breathing deeply Kyle read the woman in consternation. She was more concerned with merely shutting off the alarm and returning to her romance novel secreted in the stock closet where she was supposed to be doing inventory. Disregard and a lack of caring flowed from her pores like a tang of filth.
Stepping to the side he allowed the slovenly woman to brush against his clothes and stiffened in revulsion. She was utterly focused on the value of her paycheck and the expensive quality to the ‘harlot’s’ visitors. The woman had a penchant for “tidying” the personal effects of patients and visitors alike. A sudden wave of protective warmth rose and flooded his mind with the need to keep the greedy thief from inflicting harm on the woman before him. Instinctively Kyle stepped forward and plucked the sweaty plump hand from Gail’s.
“Get a doctor. Now.” He growled through teeth bared in a parody of a smile. Incredibly the woman still tried a pathetic attempt at an old pickpocket maneuver, the bump and dip, as she moved to leave the room. Kyle forced icy calm through his veins and allowed the foolish woman to win a small token piece of jewelry, a gold cufflink. His dogs would track the scent back and render proper judgment.
A younger harried looking doctor walked into the door and paused, staring wide-eyed. Kyle gave an imperceptible nod and the young neurologist hastened forward frowning lightly. Even to one of the lesser bloods Kyle mused, her identity was revealed by scent, appearance and her very touch. Lightly her eyes fluttered and opened. Dilated with shock and something more, the warm hazel orbs had drained in color showing only the brilliant red-gold threads gleaming fire, bright against the muddy green humanity boiling away from her very soul.
Silently he stared, considering Gail Hardesty, the future and all it could hold. Clasping Sieff’s shoulder in a gesture of support he turned directing a final fulminating glance at the dazed prone woman before leaving. There were many, interesting things for his attention. Things like the worm Cody Barnett and his unusual hold over men who should have been more loyal to the stricken Gail Hardesty.