Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(46) by Ilona Andrews
She was important. She was vitally important to me.
“Kate,” she whispered, her voice shaking. “Kate?”
“Yes?” I managed.
“It’s me, Julie. Are you dying?”
I could tell she desperately wanted a different answer. “I love you.”
The expression on her face twisted something inside me.
I looked from her to Curran. “I love you so much. Both . . .”
“You can’t die.” She grabbed my hand. Tears swelled in her eyes. “You’re all I have. Kate, please. Please don’t die.”
My head hurt so much. I didn’t like that she was crying. I had to make her better. “It will be okay.”
“Kate, don’t leave me.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “It’s not fair. It’s not fair!”
The door swung open.
“Do I need to put a lock on this door?” Doolittle asked.
“Come on.” Curran appeared by the bed, took Julie by her shoulders, and gently but firmly pulled her away from my bed.
“Is she dying?” Julie pulled against him.
“She will be okay,” he told her.
“What if she won’t be? What if she—”
The door closing behind them cut off the rest of her words.
I’d never felt so helpless.
“Home,” I told Doolittle.
“Soon,” he promised.
Liar. I had to get out of here. I didn’t want to end my life in this hospital bed. I had spent too long without magic, and my body was giving out. I felt weaker and weaker. They had to take me home. I wanted to die in our house. “Too long . . .”
“You’ve only been in here a few hours. It feels longer because you keep waking up despite the sedative.”
“Julie will be fine. You don’t have to worry about that right now,” he said. “Focus on healing. Rest.”
• • •
I WOKE UP to pain. My brain was slow and confused. My mouth tasted like medicine. I was so tired. I was sinking deeper and deeper into the murky water of pain and exhaustion. I knew the signs. My body was giving out. Why wouldn’t they just let me go home . . .
It was night and my room was quiet. Doolittle still sat in his chair, his paperback on his lap, his eyes closed. A hair-thin line of bright orange light marked the edge of the door—someone had failed to close it all the way. Quiet voices floated into the room. I had to strain to make out the words.
“What if she doesn’t pull through?”
“She will.” Curran. His voice was rock steady, quiet, strong, reassuring.
“Ascanio said she might be paralyzed. He said she could get amnesia . . .”
A spark of the old me fought to the surface of the pain for a brief second. Damn it, could that kid not keep his mouth shut for once?
“Don’t listen to what that idiot says. Kate wouldn’t abandon her family. That’s not who she is and that’s not what she does.”
Which Kate are we talking about? Because the one in this bed didn’t have a choice.
“But what if she doesn’t?” Julie pressed. Her voice was trembling. “She isn’t acting like herself. She’s a fighter and she isn’t even fighting. Ascanio said he heard her say she wants to go home to die.”
If I got better, that bouda was going to regret it.
“Ascanio shouldn’t run his mouth,” Curran said. “Sometimes when people have head injuries, it changes who they are for a little while. She will be back to normal soon.”
And often that change was permanent. I’d killed a man who had turned into a violent sadistic drifter after suffering a fractured skull.
“I know it’s scary. But you have to trust Doolittle. She is under heavy sedation. She just isn’t herself right now,” Curran said. “When the magic comes, Doolittle will heal her.”
“What if she never comes home? What would I . . . I won’t have anybody . . .”
“You will have me. She will come home, but if she doesn’t, I will still be there,” Curran said. “We are family. You will always have a place in my house. I won’t abandon you. If something happens to me, Andrea and Raphael will step up. Derek will always be there for you. You have people, Julie. You are not alone.”
You are not alone . . .
Someone upstairs must’ve really hated me. I wanted to have people, too. I had wanted to hear those words for so long, and now, just after I’d had a small crumb of happiness, I was about to lose all of it over something so stupid. I had to get better. I had to get better now.
I clenched my teeth.
This wouldn’t end me. Not like this. Not right now. I would survive this.
I fought through the pounding in my head, trying to find something, anything, to pull me out of the cold murky depths to the surface. I just had to survive until the magic hit.
I would take anything. Any help, no matter how small.
I refused to sink. I would walk out of here. I would be with Curran again. I would see Julie grow up.
I want to survive.
I fought for it, trying to keep myself up, trying to reach the surface, but I kept sinking.
Something shifted deep inside me, an unidentified muscle clenched tight for too long relaxing in a flood of new ache, and then I felt it, a tiny hint of a current pushing me up. It was weak, oh so weak, but it was there. I wrapped myself in it and for a brief moment my addled brain recognized it for what it was: the city I’d claimed surrendering what little residual magic it had kept during the technology. The land I’d claimed was trying to keep me alive.
It wasn’t enough to lift me up. It was barely there, but it stretched to me. I felt the city breathing. It was filled with life. Tiny creatures squirming through the dirt, plants growing in the soil, ivy and kudzu climbing up the ruins, skittish things hiding in their burrows, predators crouching in the dark, people in their homes, all of them sacrificing a tiny crumb of the magic stored within their bodies. It hurt them, it was precious, yet still they gave it to me because I asked.
I stopped sinking.
• • •
“. . . GO BACK AND tell him that if he thinks he can dictate who I can and can’t treat, I quit,” Doolittle said. “And I won’t be coming back until hell freezes over.”
I opened my eyes. The room was still dimly lit. My head still hurt, but I was floating.
A woman stood next to Doolittle, her face obscured. Curran leaned against the other bed like a dark shadow. His arms were crossed on his chest. His eyes were glowing pale gold. Menace rolled off him, and the air in the room turned thick and tense.
“That’s not what the Beast Lord says. The law states that a retired alpha can’t be in the Keep during the time of separation. Which is why I brought down this paper.” The woman held the paper up to Doolittle. “This is an amendment to the Pack law code that gives you the right to treat patients who are not members of the Pack in the Pack’s facilities if you determine that their condition requires emergency treatment.”
“This is a hospital. I don’t need anyone’s permission to treat a patient.” Doolittle took the paper and read it.
The woman looked at Curran. “Curran.”
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