Black and Blue (Page 8)

Black and Blue (Otherworld Assassin #2)(8)
Author: Gena Showalter

“How did you get in here?” An alarm should be screeching right now.

“Window. Disabled . . . security. Inside and out. Sorry.”

She craned her neck, zeroing in on the interior ID box. Sure enough, the lid had been pulled from the wall and the wires exposed, obviously cut and realigned. “That’s going to cost a fortune to fix.” But only because she would be doing the labor, and her time was mega money, and oh, wow, she really needed a moment to process what was going on.

“Bill . . . me,” he gritted. “First . . . help me.”

“Sure, sure,” she said. “I’ll ring the Arcadian chief of medicine at St. Anthony. Nice guy. Usually a three-month waiting time to see him, but for me he’ll make a house call. You will, of course, be responsible for your bill, as well as owe me a huge favor.” Stop babbling.

“No. You.”

She got what he was trying to tell her, but wished she hadn’t. For a year straight, this man had screwed with her anytime they were forced to work together. Nothing overt, and nothing that would compromise the end result of the work—his work, that is. He’d left her behind. Told her wrong places to meet, stuck her with all kinds of paperwork. Worst of all, he’d always written a review of her performance.

The gist of every review? Miss Black stinks like arse.

She’d seen him a few times since Claire was killed, when she’d acted as an asset. He’d always ignored her, as if she were unworthy of his attention, and made a big deal of making out with his date. Whoever that happened to be.

The suckwad treatment cut to the quick, even though she hated the guy. Like she really needed another male to drive home the point that she wasn’t good enough—for anything! And for a conceited man-whore to do it? A male willing to hump anything that moved? Bloody humiliating.

“Ignoring?” he said now. “Typical.”

I should make him beg. “Fine,” she huffed. “I’ll help you.” For Michael. And information. “Just be warned. Arcadians are not one of my thousands of specialties, and I will be keeping track of your behavior. Expect me to write a report.” Babbling again.

She dragged her gaze over him, medical eye assessing the massive amount of damage, her mind at last computing just how weak he must be. His nostrils were black. He could have inhaled a lethal amount of smoke. She might have to place a tube in his trachea. It would deliver a higher concentration of oxygen to his lungs. Also, resuscitating fluid would definitely have to be dispensed. He might even need a transfusion. Clearly more than ten percent of his cells had suffered hemolysis, and that could lead to kidney malfunction.

If he were human. But he wasn’t. Blimey. She truly had no experience with his race.

“I’m assuming you weren’t playing Throw Another Arcadian on the Barbie but were in the explosion that decimated Michael’s house,” she said, walking to her dresser and withdrawing her box of “home brew,” as she called it. Drugs she’d . . . tampered with.

“Yes. Woke up. Michael . . . gone. Everyone gone.”

Great. He knew as much as she did. So much for trading her services for info. “You’d fare better in a hospital, you know.” Once more at his side, she stuck him in the arm. “That should take the edge off your pain.”

“No hospital. Please . . . no. Too . . . dangerous. Star . . . bomb . . . could still . . .” He went quiet, his head lolling to the side.

Unconscious? Or dead?

Had the anesthetic harmed him?

She felt for a pulse, frowned. He had no— There! It was too slow, too light, but there. Relief flooded her.

Evie rushed into the bathroom and drew a bath. She gathered everything she would need—or, rather, everything she had that would work. Scissors, IV tubes, and fluid bags she’d once used to practice, as well as a medicinal liquid soap usually only loaded into an enzyme shower, and a bottle of antibiotics she kept on hand. She would treat Blue as she would treat a human, and hope it worked.

She stuffed one of the pills under his tongue, praying it would dissolve and help prevent sepsis. Then she cut away what remained of his clothing, and removed his shoes.

When he was stripped to—well, can’t say the skin—raw meat, she loudly stated, “Blue, I need you to wake up now.”

His eyelids blinked open, and he moaned.

“Don’t be a crybaby,” she said, being merciless to be kind . . . maybe. “I have to get you into the tub, and while I may be strong, I’m not a crane and can’t carry you.” She slid her arm underneath his shoulders, intending to help him rise, but he flinched away from the agony of the contact.

“Don’t touch!” he roared.

Don’t shout! Despite her calm appearance, she was kind of a mess inside and he was only making it worse. “Be a dear and stand up on your own. I need you to walk into the bathroom.”

Blue lumbered to his feet and stumbled toward the tub. She couldn’t fathom the enormous amount of strength required for him to remain in an upright position while his leg was broken, and tried not to be impressed.

“Good boy. Now climb in the tub,” she said.

Wheezing, grimacing, he slowly sank below the waterline.

“Guaranteed this isn’t going to be the sponge bath of your fantasies,” she said, crouching beside the stone tub to wash him with the soap and minimize the possibility of infection, “but I have to do it.”

“Whatever . . . necessary,” he hissed.

Her grin was devoid of humor. “Give me a few minutes. You’ll probably regret saying that.”

* * *

Time ceased to exist for Blue. He lived only in moments.

There were moments he was utterly alone, lost to pain and darkness. There were moments he was trapped in a nightmare, when the meeting with Michael finished and he stood with John and Solo and they walked to the door, unaware their lives were about to be forever altered. There were moments a woman stroked him, and muttered to him, her honey-almond scent saturating him and her raspy voice delighting him.

He loved those moments.

“It’s been a week,” she said now, “and you’ve already grown a new layer of skin—unscarred, of course, because you’re the gold standard every man is measured against, and flaws aren’t allowed to stay. Gag. You grew a new hand, and a new head of hair.” Soft fingers shifted through the strands. “It’s sickening.”

He wanted to lean into her touch, her warmth, but his body refused to obey the mental command.