Home > Moonshifted (Edie Spence #2)(7)

Moonshifted (Edie Spence #2)(7)
Author: Cassie Alexander

I rolled my eyes. “No.”

He shrugged. “I go where the people go. Where there are crowds. The more people I touch, the more options I have,” he said, wiggling his fingers out toward me. I danced backward and he laughed. “Don’t worry, you’ve got your badge on you somewhere,” he said.

He was right, I did. The badge that got me into Y4 also proved I was a noncombatant to the creatures that honored such things. Remembering his arm around my waist. It hadn’t been skin on skin, but: “You touched me!” I protested.

“Of course. But you’ve got a coat on.” He looked around. “It’s harder this time of year to find skin. That’s why I go to the dance clubs.”

Which was where we’d met. No one danced in thermals, not even in icy Port Cavell.

I started walking toward the register, and he followed. “How come it doesn’t drive you mad?” The only other shapeshifter I’d had close contact with had been a patient at Y4, and they’d been driven insane after touching too many vampires. It’d overloaded whatever it was inside of them that kept them them … and what’d been left hadn’t been pretty.

“I maintain a smug sense of superiority, no matter what form I am in. It helps.” He offered me his elbow. “Want me to walk you to your car?”

I’d slept with him twice, when he’d been hot, olive-skinned, and vaguely British—and here he was looking like somebody’s dad, maybe even somebody’s grandpa. He was the opposite of sexy—doughy, and that shirt, oh, that shirt. I wasn’t sure which of them was harder to deny. Sexy Asher was wicked and tempting. This Asher was more likely to be disappointed in me if I didn’t take him up on his offer, which might be worse.

“Sure.”

“Want me to get that for you?” he pressed, reaching for the couch cover and his wallet at the same time.

“No.”

“You sure?” he said looking down at me. His eyes seemed his own, no matter what the rest of him looked like. He clearly remembered the cheap apartment complex where I lived.

I still had a full jar of peanut butter and jelly at home, half a loaf of bread, and my pride. “Yeah, I’m sure. Thanks.”

* * *

Asher walked me to my car, and there were no angry vampires in sight. I stared at my shoes, concentrating on not slipping on patches of ice, and contemplated my chances of survival. It wasn’t till I was almost at my car that I realized how tense Asher was—mostly by the fact that he wasn’t being glib.

“You really think I’m in danger, don’t you?” I asked him.

The expression on his current face said it all. “If you don’t, you’re not taking things seriously enough, Edie.”

“No, I am. I’m just being quiet for once.” My cold fingers fumbled through my keys.

“Where’s your zombie boyfriend when you need him, then?”

I looked at the ground and frowned. “He said he had to go.”

“Spend holidays with his zombie family?” Asher guessed, the note of sarcasm in his voice unmistakable. “Is he going to come back soon? You shouldn’t really be alone—”

“I don’t know. He didn’t say.” Without meeting his eyes, I finally found my car key and unlocked my door.

“What? Edie—”

“He said he had to leave town, okay? He didn’t make any promises as to when he’d be back. Or if he’d be back. At all.” I shook my head, remembering the night when he’d left me—it still hurt. “Too many people saw him save me. So he had to go.”

Asher’s voice was soft. “That’s not right, Edie. You’re not the kind of girl—”

“How can I get Dren off my back?” I interrupted. I didn’t want to pull off any more scabs just now.

This version of Asher made a disappointed face at my predicament, then answered me. “You’ll have to find something that Dren really wants and give it to him.”

Like my life, or someone else’s. “There’s just no way.”

“You could get the Shadows involved again—”

I shook my head. “I hate those things.”

Asher shrugged. “All right. I’d offer you my people’s protection, but I think I know how you feel about that already. Can’t you just get that killer vampire friend of yours to take care of him?” He held his hand low to indicate how tall Anna used to be.

“I suppose I could. Maybe. Hey, have you ever heard of the phrase Ambassador of the Sun?”

“What is that, a shitty metal band?”

I snorted. “No. My vampire friend has her vampire debutante ball soon. She’d like me to have a position in her court. I wasn’t going to take it seriously, but—”

“If it’ll get Dren off your back.” Asher finished my thought as I ducked into my car. “I’ve never heard of it before, but I’ll look into it and get back to you.”

“Thanks, Asher.”

He performed a hand-twirling bow. “What kind of Grinch would I be if I didn’t escort lovely ladies safely to their cars?”

I gave him a wan smile and closed the door.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Most roads were empty, so hopefully the hospital would be slow. I’d noticed before my transfer to Y4 that on holidays our workloads seemed to go down. Even truly sick people would rather be at home than here.

I parked in the visitor lot and went in. Our Charlie Brown tree was slumped in the lobby, but there were some gift donations stacked beneath it, and somebody had thoughtfully added a pine-scented car freshener to its cheap ornaments and tinsel. I walked by and wound my way down to Y4.

* * *

There was a note from our nurse manager on my locker. You didn’t complete attendance of your mandatory safety class. Your new class is scheduled January 10. The date was underlined in red. I could feel the disappointment in her cursive. “I was only helping to save some guy’s life, and then covered in were-blood. Sheesh,” I said to no one as I pulled the note off my locker and shoved it into my bag. Maybe Charles and I would be rescheduled together. That would be nice. I took the knife out and settled it onto the top shelf of my locker just as Gina came into the room. She smiled as soon as she saw me.

“Merry Christmas!” She rummaged in a large red gift bag and pulled out a smaller one to give me. It said EDIE RN on the card.

I grinned for a second as I took it from her—and then realized I hadn’t even thought about getting my co-workers gifts. I should have. I’d been in denial about this entire holiday season, and now I felt like a heel. “Gina, I can’t take—”

“It’s nothing big.” Her voice was muffled by her locker. She began humming “Up on the Rooftop.”

I peeked inside the bag. Saran-wrapped cookies, oatmeal and chocolate chip. “Awww, Gina—”

“See? You’re welcome.”

I teased the edge of the wrap up, and the scent of homemade cookies wafted out. “You’re awesome, Gina.”

“I know.” She pulled off her dirty scrubs and began pulling new ones on. “See you on the floor!” she sang after me as I left the locker room. I ducked into the bathroom to pull my hair into a ponytail in front of the mirror, my heart swelling a little bit with the spirit of the holiday.

* * *

Y4 wasn’t decorated for Christmas, but someone had found a small boom box and carols were playing.

Meaty’s head rose up as I came through the doors. “Edie! Happy holidays!” My charge nurse was a massive human being with an androgynous face and an indeterminate gender. As far as I was concerned, it didn’t matter—he/she/it had saved my life twice now, and I was pleased to see them.

“Merry Christmas yourself,” I said with a grin. I sidled up to see the assignment sheet. “Room one? I’m not a vet—”

“He’s two to one. You’re spotting Gina. Winter is strong as hell—and he’s important. The Consortium will be watching this one.”

The Consortium was the insurance group in charge of us, some sort of HMO for the supernatural. I’d never seen any of their representatives, but I figured that was because I didn’t work day shift. I glanced back at the doctors’ charts behind Meaty. Room one still said NO INFO. “We know his name now?”

“Unofficially. He’s been here before. I recognize him.” Meaty’s voice sounded unhappy about that fact. “Gina’s already getting report. Tell her he’s Karl Winter—but we’re not allowed to tell anyone else that yet.”

“He’s seasonally appropriate at least,” I said.

Meaty snorted. “Get down the hall.”

* * *

I hovered outside room one. Gina was getting a report from the prior shift’s vet-RN, and their spotter was inside the room, holding a tranquilizer gun. I knew what my job would be for the rest of the night.

“Psst, Lynn—” I whispered, and the gun-holding nurse looked back at me. Her back slumped in relief.

“Thank God, and it’s about time.” She backed out of the room as I rummaged through the isolation cart outside the door, pulling on all my gear—a thin cotton smock, hair bonnet, gloves, and mask. Heat billowed out of the room, and I started sweating. It was going to be a long night.

I took the gun from her. She stretched and her back popped twice. I waved the rifle a bit into the interior of the room. “Is this really necessary?”

“Do you want to find out?” She stripped out of her gown and tossed it into the soiled linen cart. “The Domitor slows the change, but it’s not perfect. And every minute of the day the full moon gets nearer.”

“True.”

She caught me looking at her, instead of the patient. “Eyes on the prize there, Spence,” she said, pointing at her eyes then back into the room with two fingers. “Always keep him line-of-sight.”

I nodded quickly, and did what I was told.

   
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