Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(45) by Ilona Andrews
A door swung open and a woman stuck her head in. “Doolittle?”
Doolittle turned his chair toward her and the look on his face said he would bite her head off if she were within reach. Serious business.
“Trisha asked if you could spare a minute for some paperwork.”
“If Trisha wants to see me, she can come down here.” His voice had a snap to it.
The woman withdrew and shut the door.
The other man said something I didn’t quite catch in an unfamiliar voice. I blinked, desperately trying to bring him into focus. Curran. What the hell was wrong with me?
“There is nothing I can do,” Doolittle answered, his voice stern. “The MRI showed multiple microbleeds. The small vessels inside her brain exploded. They sealed themselves almost immediately, which is why you’re not cradling a corpse right now, and her body began to magically heal, but the damage was done. She should be dead. If it were anybody else, they would be dead, but she is too damn stubborn to die. There is nothing I can do right now. Until the magic comes up, my only option is to manage the symptoms. I’m monitoring her blood pressure. I’m administering mannitol to keep the swelling under control and anticonvulsants so she doesn’t seize again. And I need to be doing all that and you need to be somewhere else. Did I not give you something to do?”
“What if she stops breathing again?”
“If her internal respiratory drive mechanism is affected, I will put her on a ventilator. Go away.”
Curran glanced at me. I blinked and then he was by my bed. “Kate. Baby.”
I still didn’t recognize his voice.
I opened my mouth. No words came out.
“Curran,” Doolittle growled. “Move.”
Curran slid to the side, and Doolittle in his chair took Curran’s place.
“Can you hear me?” Doolittle asked, pronouncing the words slowly. “Blink once if yes.”
“Your MRI shows ruptures in multiple small blood vessels in your brain,” Doolittle said, his voice calm.
I was bleeding in my brain, I couldn’t move, I had difficulty talking. The symptoms lined up like links in a chain. I opened my mouth. Concentrate. You can do it. One sound at a time.
I would make the goddamn word come out.
“St . . . stroke.”
Next to me Curran dragged his hand over his face.
“Yes,” Doolittle said. “You had a stroke. You had several microstrokes simultaneously.”
That’s me, the overachiever.
Doolittle squinted at me, his face somber. He usually appeared to be in his fifties, but he looked much older today, a tired black man with salt-and-pepper hair and kind eyes.
“How are you feeling?”
I opened my mouth and concentrated on pronouncing a word. My voice was so weak. “P . . .”
They both leaned in, trying to hear me. I fought through the bout of pain, drawing a sharp breath.
“P . . . peachy.”
Curran exploded out of the chair, moving out of my view.
“That’s good,” Doolittle said, his expression somber.
I tried to squeeze my sword. I couldn’t do it. My hand rested right on it, because Curran must’ve put it there. He knew Sarrat would make me feel safe. But now I couldn’t even close my fingers around it.
I couldn’t hold my sword.
I wanted to go home. I had to go home right now. I needed to be out of this hospital bed.
A man stuck his head into the room. “Ariela is in labor.”
Doolittle pushed his chair to the door. “I will be right back. She’s confused and sedated. Don’t do anything to aggravate her. No stressful topics. Nothing that could potentially upset her. Less information is better at this point. Sam, stay right here and monitor her.”
A dark-haired man walked into the room and parked himself at the far wall.
I had to get out of here. Panic took my throat into a clawed hand and squeezed.
Curran blocked the light from the window. I felt his warm hand on mine.
“It will be okay,” he said, stroking my fingers. “It will be okay.”
I had to tell him that I had to go home.
“What is it?” Curran leaned closer to me.
“I don’t think you should encourage her to talk . . .” Sam started.
Curran turned to him. A gold light drowned his irises.
Sam’s mouth snapped shut. I heard his teeth click.
“What is it, baby?”
I finally squeezed the word out. “Home.”
A muscle in his face jerked. “No, baby. We can’t go home. Doolittle will take good care of you. You just have to hold on until the magic starts.”
“It will be okay.”
I had to make him understand.
“She’s getting too agitated,” Sam said.
“It will be fine,” Curran told me. “You’re safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
My eyes felt wet. Curran’s face turned pale.
“We can’t go home right now. We’ll go as soon as you’re better.”
The wetness was running down my cheeks now in hot streaks. “Have to go home.”
Curran’s face was terrible. Pain twisted his mouth and he forced it down, his face calm again, but I knew. I saw it. If I made him understand, he would take me home.
“Don’t cry,” he whispered.
“Please,” I begged. “Please.”
“What’s so important about home?”
I opened my mouth. My voice was so weak. He wrapped his arms around me, lifting me to him.
“Want . . . to die at home.”
Shock slapped Curran’s face.
Doolittle made a screeching noise that sliced against my ears like a knife.
Curran let go of me.
“Get out,” Doolittle said, his voice icy.
Curran opened his mouth.
“Get out or I’ll have you removed from the Keep.”
Curran spun on his foot and stalked out.
Doolittle turned to Sam. “What did I say?”
“I know, but . . .”
“He’s Curran,” Sam said, as if it explained everything.
“I don’t care if he is Curran. In your ward, you are god. Go.”
Sam fled. Doolittle wheeled the chair to me.
“Home,” I told him.
“That’s patently ridiculous. Nobody is going home.”
Cold rushed through my veins. Too late I saw Doolittle taking a syringe from the IV. Fatigue mugged me, threatening to drag me under.
I struggled to say the words. “Don’t want . . . to die . . . here.”
“You’re just insulting me now. Nobody is dying today, if I can help it.” Doolittle said. His voice faded, growing weaker and weaker. “You’re safe. Your maniac is just outside the door, watching over you. Rest now. Rest . . .”
• • •
I WOKE UP because someone was looking at me. The room was dim. My body felt heavy. I was so tired. All my systems were shutting down one by one. I couldn’t tell which symptoms came from the stroke, which from the sedative. I was lost and I couldn’t pull myself together.
The soft electric glow of a floor lamp illuminated a teenage girl sitting by my bed. She was pale and blond and, against that light backdrop, her huge brown eyes stood out like two dark pools.
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