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Numbers (New Species #14-15)

By:Laurann Dohner
Numbers (New Species #14-15)
New Species series
Chapter One

“I can’t believe you get to live here,” Dana whispered, afraid of being overheard in Medical.
Her brother, Paul, grinned. “New Species are really cool. I’m glad you decided to take me up on the tour and visit us for a few days. I think my wife is a little homesick.”
“Maybe you should come back for Christmas this year. That way Becky will get to hang out with all of us and it will be a reminder of why you guys moved to California.”
Paul chuckled. “Is Mom still driving you nuts?”
Her humor fled. “She set me up with her chiropractor, her pharmacist and—wait for it—her gynecologist. Talk about awkward.” She rolled her eyes. “As if I ever want to be married to a guy who stares at girl parts all day. I’d be afraid to ask him how his day went. I really don’t want to hear any gross stories over dinner. Can you imagine?” She deepened her voice. “It was the worst case of crabs ever. There were so many I had to use a net to catch those suckers.”
Paul doubled over in a fit of laughter. “You’re horrible.”
She forced a smile. “Don’t even get me started about the wrongness of knowing he’s seen our mother’s knees spread apart while she’s naked. Can you say ewwww?”
He sobered. “That’s not funny. You had to go there?”
“That’s almost exactly what I said to our mother when she told me who she’d set me up with.”
He carefully studied her. She knew that look.
“I’m fine. Don’t do that. You’re a nurse, not a mind reader.”
“Are you dating anyone Mom wouldn’t approve of on the sly?”
“Nope.” She turned away, ducking inside one of the open rooms. “This is much cozier than a hospital. I like the soft wall colors and the nice bedding. It’s pretty fancy for a small clinic. It has a homey feel.”
She swung around, and returned to his side. They strolled down the hallway to reception. “It’s been two years. I should move on with my life. It’s like riding a bike. Just get back on the dating cycle and take a spin.” She paused. “Did I miss any advice you were about to give? Maybe you could stoop low enough to say how Tommy would want me to be happy by finding someone else? I hate that one the most. It pissed him off when some guy would check me out.”
“I wasn’t going to say any of that. I just worry about you. It’s my job.” 
“You’re the best big brother ever but I’m really fine. It has been two years. Time heals everything.” She wished that were true, but it always seemed to set other people at ease. She really didn’t want Paul to worry. “I have a vibrator, a body pillow and a heating blanket. I’m good.”
He blanched. “You went there.”
“I’ll make a deal with you. I won’t overshare things like that if you stop digging into my personal life.”
He held out his hand. “Only if you promise to call me more often.”
She grasped it and gave it a firm shake. “Done.”
“Do you want to see the surgical rooms? We have two.”
“Pass. Totally not my thing. I quit nursing school for a reason. Some of the equipment should be featured in horror movies.” She let him go.
His eyes narrowed and she regretted her words. They both knew why she’d really changed careers. All the time she’d spent in hospitals had made her hate them. It reminded her of Tommy’s suffering. She decided to say something fast.
“Why do you need surgical rooms in a clinic?”
He schooled his features. “In case of emergencies. We’re fifteen minutes from a trauma unit.”
It was her turn to study him. “I see. This is one of those topics you’re not allowed to talk about, right? To protect the New Species?”
“It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it?” He grinned.
“Message received. I have one question you do have to answer though.”
“Do you like them? Are they as nice and friendly as they seem to be on TV?”
“They are different, but in great ways. They have my respect and yes, I really like them. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
“Good enough. I’ll stop being nosy. We’d better get back to your wife before she thinks we’ve gotten lost. I’m really looking forward to—”
A blaring car horn cut off her words. She turned, watching a Jeep come to a stop part way on the street and sidewalk. Two big New Species jumped out of the front and lifted a third one out of the back. Her brother grabbed the counter separating him from the front doors and vaulted over the top of it.
The man they carried inside bled from one leg, his arm and his forehead. He seemed to be unconscious since his eyes were closed and he sagged between the two New Species as they rushed inside the clinic. Paul met them there.
“Down the hall, first room!” her brother yelled. He hit a button near the front doors and an alarm sounded. Paul ran after the injured patient and two doors along the back of the large room burst open.
Dana watched a human guy rush after them and seconds later the doors in the back burst open again. A tall New Species woman sped past her without giving her a glance. It left Dana alone. She was unsure what to do.
She debated for a few seconds before following them. The injured man looked bad off and there were only three people to tend him, besides the two men who’d brought him in. She strode down the hallway and entered the exam room.
Paul cut the guy’s bloodied pants leg open. The dark-haired Species woman put in an IV line and the human guy she guessed was a doctor flashed his tiny penlight in the patient’s eyes after opening each lid.
“What happened?” the doctor asked.
The two New Species who’d brought him stayed against a wall, keeping out of the way. “He picked another fight and ended up stumbling onto the balcony. He fell from the second floor but landed on the grass. It was the tree he hit on the way down that did most of the damage. He hasn’t woken since,” one of them muttered.
“Fuck,” the New Species woman growled.“The leg doesn’t appear broken,” Paul muttered. “Just a deep laceration.”
“He might have struck his head on a branch or two on the way down,” the other New Species added. “We found him under the tree.”
Paul turned his head and spotted Dana. “Get your ass over here and apply pressure to this.”
She hesitated. “Where are the gloves?”
“Second drawer to your right,” he snapped. “But they don’t carry any blood diseases, and they easily fight infection.”
After putting on gloves, she clamped her hand down over the cut. Paul tore open the patient’s sleeve to examine his arm. Dana glanced up and found the doctor frowning at her.
“That’s my sister,” Paul informed him. “Dana, meet Doc Harris and Midnight. The two along the wall are Snow and Book.”
“She can’t be in here,” Doc Harris protested.
“She’s cool, and she did a year of nursing school. She’s also done a shitload of home health care. She won’t faint over seeing some blood. The arm doesn’t seem broken but he’s going to need stitches.”
Midnight turned toward the door. “I’ll get the portable X-ray machine for his head.”
The doctor examined the patient’s skull, probing, probably checking for fractures or lacerations. “It’s okay, Midnight. This son of a bitch is too hardheaded. He probably just has another concussion, but we’ll run a CT scan just to be safe. Let’s deal with the issues we see right now first.”
Midnight yanked a bag of saline from a cupboard. She growled low, a scary sound. “Who did he fight this time?”
“Darkness. Suicidal bastard,” Snow muttered.
“I won’t ask if Darkness is okay then.” Doc Harris sighed. “I’m surprised he’s not the one who brought him in.”
“He will be along.”
“Great.” Midnight spun away after hanging the IV bag and killed the blaring alarm. “That’s just what we don’t need. He’ll be angry. Please tell him not to bother. You two can go.”
Snow and Book shot curious glances at Dana. She forced a smile but they didn’t speak directly to her before they quit the room.
Doc Harris changed positions with Paul. “Let me see his arm.”
“I’ll grab a suture kit.” Paul opened a drawer.
Midnight caught Dana’s gaze. “You’re Paul’s sister?”
“Yes.” She tried not to stare. The New Species woman was the first one she’d seen up close since she’d arrived. She was pretty, with long dark hair. “I’m visiting him and Becky this weekend. He wouldn’t come home so I came to him.” 
“Welcome to Homeland.” She stepped closer. “Let me take over. This is Mourn.” She glanced at the patient, and then back at Dana. “He’s a troublemaker. He comes in here every few weeks. Don’t be alarmed.”
Dana released the cut on his calf and backed up, doing what she was told. She tossed away the used gloves and made sure blood hadn’t gotten on her skin above them. She turned and kept out of the way while they worked on the patient. Mourn needed six stitches on his forearm but his leg just needed to be cleaned and bandaged.