Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(47) by Ilona Andrews
Curran’s face was grim. “Trisha. How did he manage to push that through? The Council wouldn’t stand for it.”
“They don’t know it’s for you,” Trisha said. “They went into session just before you got here, and Jim brought it up under the Cooperation Act, making a case that if there is an injured shapeshifter within Pack borders, there may not always be enough time to observe all proprieties. He bundled it with an addendum to the border policy, and they passed it without looking closely at it.”
“Smart,” Curran said.
“It’s Jim,” Trisha, said as if it explained everything. “Nobody except the personal guard knows you’re here. It will get out eventually, but the Council has left the Keep, so we bought you a few more hours. How is she?”
I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to be a focal point right now.
“Resting,” Curran said.
“Nasrin!” I heard Doolittle roll into the hallway. “I need a second opinion on this paper . . .”
“What will you do if she remains paralyzed?” Trisha asked quietly.
“I’ll take care of her,” Curran said.
He would. I knew he would. I opened my eyes.
“My aunt is quadriplegic,” she murmured. “It is extremely difficult. We could keep her here for you . . .” She caught herself. “Sorry.”
Excellent timing. Perhaps she should borrow one of my knives and stab him while she was at it.
Doolittle rolled back, the paper in his hand. “We signed it.”
Curran took it from his hand and gave it to Trisha. She took it.
“Did Jim need anything else?” Curran asked, his voice cold.
“No.” Trisha realized she was being dismissed. “Good luck.”
She turned around and walked out.
Curran looked at the closed door for a long moment.
“It’s okay,” Doolittle murmured, his voice soothing. “Come on. Let’s get you some tea . . .”
Curran shook his head.
“Stay right here,” Doolittle said, rolling to the door. “I’ll be right back with the tea.”
The door closed behind Doolittle. For a moment nothing happened, and then Curran’s pose shifted. Tension gripped his spine and his shoulders. He looked like a man backed into a corner, outnumbered and injured, resigned to his fate, but grimly determined to stand his ground. His face was neutral like a mask, but his eyes weren’t. They brimmed with pain and fear.
It tried to bend him, and he wasn’t used to bending. He didn’t know how and he was fighting it, but whatever anxiety churned inside him now was slowly winning. It would drag him down and crush him. All of his power, will, and explosive strength meant nothing and he knew it. He looked like a man at the deathbed of someone he loved.
That someone was me. I put him through this.
I wasn’t even that lovable to begin with. I was a selfish ass, but somehow something I did made this man love me, deeply and without reservation. He knew things about me that I would die to keep secret. I trusted him more than I trusted anyone in my life. I mattered to him. He was suffering and I wanted it to stop. I wanted to see him happy. I loved him so much.
I meant to tell him that if he chased Trisha down and brought her back here, I’d punch her in the arm for him. I managed one word. “Bitch.”
He pushed off from the bed against which he leaned. All signs of worry vanished from him. He forced a neutral expression onto his face. My Beast Lord.
“Come,” I whispered.
He came over to my bed.
“Closer . . .”
He leaned in closer.
It took all of my will. I lifted my hand and punched his jaw. It was the saddest punch on the planet. My fingers barely grazed his stubble and then my arm gave out and fell back on the bed.
“You looked sad,” I explained.
“Is this you trying to cheer me up?”
“What are you . . . going . . . to do about it?” I asked. “Your Wussiness?”
He touched his index finger to my forehead. His voice was rough. “Tap. You’re out, Ass Kicker.”
“I leave you alone for five minutes and you’re in here punching each other and playing grab-ass,” Doolittle said from somewhere in the room. “I expect this from you, Kate, because you have no sense, but you, you should know better. Roughhousing in the hospital. Drink your tea.” Doolittle thrust one of the glasses at Curran.
Curran obediently took the glass and drained it.
“The tea was a lie,” I told him quietly.
He nodded. “He spikes it with a sedative.”
So he knew and drank it anyway. “What kind of a sedative takes down . . . a shapeshifter?”
“I don’t know.” Curran’s face was relaxing. He sat on my bed, moving very carefully. “He won’t tell me.”
“He needs it,” Doolittle said. “He hasn’t slept since you got here.”
“You get your tea through your IV,” Doolittle told me.
“No more tea. It makes me loopy and sad.”
“I would be most appreciative if you refrained from telling me how to do my job. If I need some guidance on how to best skewer something twenty times my size and get myself nearly dead in the process, I’ll ask you. There is only one medmage in this room, and since I am that medmage, I’ll decide what medicine to administer and when. And for your information, it is your head injury that is the culprit, not the sedative.”
I felt oddly light and sleepy.
“Lie with me,” I whispered.
Curran stretched out next to me. Our arms were touching. The smell of him drifted over, so familiar and comforting.
Curran’s fingers held my hand, his thumb gently stroking my skin. I recalled the way he tasted. The feel of his body on mine. The weight of it. The strength of the arms wrapped around me. His eyes. The way he looked at me . . .
“Stay with me, Kate,” he said.
“I will,” I promised.
THE MAGIC WAVE jolted me out of my sleep, the crushing headache a familiar agony by now. This one-night stand with my stroke had lasted way too long. The pain was intense but my thoughts were no longer jumbled. The current of the city had pushed me a few inches higher.
I opened my eyes to the morning light and saw Doolittle looking at me. Curran sat on the other bed.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for.” Doolittle rolled his chair close to me.
“Leave, please,” Doolittle said.
Curran rose and took a step to me.
“Remember now,” Doolittle warned him. “We have an agreement. I’ll hold you to it.”
Curran stepped to my bed. His arms closed around me and he squeezed me to him. My bones groaned. His voice was a low growl. “I will wait for you. As long as it takes. Even if you never choose to come back. But it’s your choice.”
He let me go, turned, and marched out. Okay, then.
Doolittle regarded me with his dark eyes. “Your brain is very delicate. Think of your mind as a forest crisscrossed by many paths along which signals travel to your body. Some are clear, some become overgrown over time, but all have formed naturally. Right now these paths are damaged. I can use magic to restore them.”
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