Home > Moonshifted (Edie Spence #2)(15)

Moonshifted (Edie Spence #2)(15)
Author: Cassie Alexander

“Depends on what that is.” I tapped one, and watched it slosh.

“Luna Lobos.”

I knew enough Spanish to parse that. “Wolf Moon?” I said, and she nodded.

“That still doesn’t tell me what it is.” I picked one up. “You can’t give him drugs, Luz. You don’t know what they’ll do to him—”

“It’s not drugs.” I stared at her, and she went on. “I swear it. It’s a booster. Like—the Red Bull with vodka. It’s not the Red Bull’s fault that the vodka is alcohol.”

“Even if that’s true, it’s not a good idea. He can’t sit up to swallow right now. You give him that, and he’ll choke,” I said, trying to sound stern, setting the vial back down. Truth was, the sum total in those vials was maybe two tablespoons of fluid combined. Hard to see him aspirating on that.

“You don’t know what I’ve seen. This stuff,” she said, rolling the vials around in her palm. “Sometimes it’s better than the high.” She closed his hand suddenly, making all the vials clatter. “It might make him better.”

“You can’t bargain his injury away.”

“I’m his hyna. I have to try.”

I didn’t know what a hyna was, and I was still within my rights to kick her out of the room. This was why I hated visitors. You gave them an inch, and they’d take a thousand miles.

“Sorry.” I put my hand out. “Give it here.”

“Awww, no—”

I shook my head. “Give it here, or I’ll kick you out of the room.” I hated being a hardass, but there was no way I was going to let her give him medication, vitamin supplements, anything that wasn’t by the books tonight.

She squinted at me in anger and dropped the vials into my hand. I popped them into the sharps container on the wall and stepped outside.

“I’m going on break now,” I told the charge nurse. Hopefully Luz would be less pissed off at me by the time I got back.

“Come back in fifteen,” the charge nurse said as I pushed through the doors into the waiting lobby.

* * *

“Finally.” Sike stood when she saw me. She walked ahead of me to the elevators and pushed the DOWN button.

“I still don’t get why you can’t get to Y4 on your own,” I said as the elevator arrived.

“Me either,” she said and stepped inside.

We went through the warren of hallways that led to Y4, and reached the final elevator bank. “This is the one that wouldn’t work for me,” she said, pointing. I waved my badge in front of the door. It arrived, and we stepped in.

“The Shadows control our access. You’d have to ask them.” I looked up, toward the recesses behind the lights set above. “Maybe they didn’t want you to come down?”

“But now it’s fine?” Sike frowned. “What’s changed?”

“I’m here?” I guessed. The Shadows never did anything the easy way, not when the hard way involved more pain for them to feed on. Shit. “Sike—why are you here?”

“There’s been a small accident.”

The elevator doors opened, releasing us onto Y4.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

My home floor was chaos. The P.M. shift charge nurse spotted me from behind her desk. “Did they call you to come in early?”

“I’m on break from trauma. What’s going on?”

“New admit. If you want to keep your dinner down, stay outside.” I didn’t think I had that as an option. “Who’s she?” the charge nurse asked as Sike came forward. Sike opened her stolen lab coat, pulling some paperwork out of the breast pocket.

“I have visitation rights for any members of the Rose Throne on this floor.”

The charge nurse snorted. “Figures. Room four.”

Sike put her forms away and walked across the floor. I could leave now, my escorting job done, but my stupid, foolish curiosity wouldn’t let me. I followed her in.

* * *

Doctors barked orders and nurses swarmed the room like ants: finding IV sites, hanging meds, setting up sterile surgical trays.

“Did anyone find the fingers?” a doctor asked aloud. “Any of them?” he went on, his voice rising. No one answered.

The patient sat on the bed in the middle of everything, arms exposed, face bound up in gauze, seeping bright red blood. A nurse stood beside the bed, clamping her gloved hands over the gauze where his ears would be, to apply pressure.

“And not a drop to drink,” Sike murmured, then strode into the room. “The Rose Throne demands recursion.”

The doctor stopped where he was, Betadine staining his gloves and his patient’s hand orange-brown. The doctor was willowy, too tall, folded over the bed like a number 3. When he looked over at Sike, his face was stern. “You can’t take him—he needs profound medical care.”

Sike took off her lab coat and folded it over her arm. “Gideon Strand is the Rose Throne’s property.”

I blinked. The man underneath all the gauze was Gideon? The daytimer from my kitchen, with Anna? I couldn’t tell. With all the gauze, I couldn’t see much of anything.

“We demand recursion. I’m here on behalf of Anna Arsov, the near-ascended.”

“I don’t care who you are, lady. You’re not taking him.”

“Gideon,” Sike said, addressing their patient. The gauzed man groaned in response. “Come with me.” She snapped her fingers.

And like King Kong on the Empire State Building, he started to swat staff away like tiny planes.

“Restraints!” the doctor ordered, and a nurse ran off to get them. Technically—I should have. Or could have. But I didn’t know whose side I was on just then—“Ten milligrams of Haldol stat! And get me a trank gun!”

There was an isolation cart right outside the door. I took a step back outside and made my choice—I put the code into the isolation cart and hauled open the top drawer. It unlocked, freeing the trank gun. I grabbed and loaded two of the sedative darts.

I went back into the room with the trank gun ready, even if I wasn’t sure whom I was going to shoot. Sike and the doctor were in each other’s faces.

“I have every right to take him. He belongs to my Throne. We are responsible for his care.”

“You can’t possibly care for him. He’s staying here.”

Gideon was wrestling with the nurses beyond. One of my P.M. shift co-workers yelped as he made contact with her ribs.

“Nobody get injured!” said the doctor, and the nurses stopped trying. Gideon pulled himself out of bed and stumbled, unable to see where he was at or where he was going.

“I promise he will be better off once relinquished into my care,” Sike said. “I have all the official paperwork.” She presented her papers again, folded neatly in two. “It’s signed in triplicate, in her blood. You have to comply.”

“He’s covered in wounds. Infection is a given—”

“He’ll get blood.”

We all knew she didn’t mean merely human. “Do it here then,” the doctor challenged her.

Sike frowned. “Fine. Leave the room. Now.” Sike turned toward me and handed me her lab coat, then pushed Gideon back to sitting. I made to follow my co-workers but she called after me. “Edie—stay.”

My curiosity had curdled to guilt and horror, but I did as I was told.

* * *

Sike sat beside him on the bed and blotted away the Betadine distastefully with the corner of a sheet. Then she reached into her pocket and pulled out a makeup compact, flipping it open to reveal what appeared to be a crème blush.

“Gideon, give me your hand.”

She smeared her right thumb in the substance, then ran it along the edges of his wounds. One knuckle at a time began to seal. Only the first knuckles remained on that hand. I wondered with a sick fascination what was left of the other one.

“Sike—what happened?” I didn’t want to see what was under the bandages covering his face. “And why?”

“Becoming a member of the Sanguine is not without trials.” She continued to paint what was clearly a vampire-blood-based substance onto Gideon’s hand, like a salve.

The enormity of his situation settled in. He had no fingers. Lord only knew what the gauze around his face was concealing. “Who did this?”

“If I knew that, I’d be killing them right now. Anna was asleep when he was damaged, and he did not see his attackers.” Finishing with his nearest hand, she reached up to unwrap his face. “He was her first daytimer. Her eyes, her ears,” she said, as his face was uncovered—his eye sockets were empty, hollow, and the shells of his ears were gone. “And now he is as helpless as a baby bird.”

“But why?”

“Because she chose him.”

“I thought they revered Anna?”

“Our kind buys reverence with fear.” She loaded up her thumb with the salve again and pressed it into the moist concavity of his eye sockets. I breathed deeply to keep my stomach straight.

“So the Rose Throne isn’t all one big happy vampire family?”

“The words happy and family do not belong in the same sentence as vampire.” She traced the outlines of his mutilated ears. “But this wasn’t us. The Rose Throne is pleased about Anna’s ascension. This was someone else.”

“Who? And why?”

“I’ll be trying to figure that out as soon as I leave here.”

I swallowed. I didn’t want to think of myself just now, but—“Whoever did this—could they come for me?”

Sike paused in her ministrations. “I suspect that this was done for show. Harming a daytimer’s much more of an affront than killing a mere human. No offense.”

“None taken,” I said. “Somehow, your explanation doesn’t make me feel any more safe.”

“You don’t understand, Edie. Even without your badge, you wouldn’t. She can hear him inside her mind, crying.” Sike unwound his other hand and started to treat it. “Not killing him is worse than death, in this case.”

   
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