Angel fever, p.27
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       Angel Fever, p.27

         Part #3 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 27


  “It looks like an Eden vehicle,” she said. “The driver’s gotten out and is heading for the gate. There’s only one of them, but they’ve got a gun. ”

  Doing a quick scan, Alex felt only human energy. With Seb close behind, he bolted for the door and slapped at the switch to turn on the outside light.

  “Okay, hold it right there,” he warned as he flung the door open, aiming his pistol. He froze and the blood slowly drained from his face.

  Kara stood at the chain-link fence, blinking in the sudden light.

  “Alex?” she said hoarsely. The exotic beauty of her face was hidden under purplish swollen bruises. One hand clutched the fence as if holding on for dear life.

  “Oh Jesus,” whispered Alex. He started to rush towards the gate, then glanced at Seb. “She’s not—?”

  Seb shook his head, staring. “No. She doesn’t have angel burn. ”

  When Alex threw open the gate, Kara stumbled into his arms; he held her tightly, his thoughts reeling. “Kara, what’s happened?” he said. Her once-toned body felt far too thin, like a fragile bird.

  Kara was shivering, as if overwhelmed by cold. Finally she drew back, and Alex’s stomach knotted with helpless anger – her face was even worse than he’d thought. One eye was puffed closed, her lip bloodied and swollen, her perfect nose broken.

  “It…it wasn’t the easiest journey, getting here,” she mumbled. “I…” She trailed off, swaying on her feet.

  “Explain later. ” Alex put his arm around her; she sagged against him. “Where are your keys?” He took them from her unresisting hand and tossed them to Seb. “Get her truck in here, okay?”

  Seb looked down at the keys; his mouth twisted wryly. “Ah – I can’t drive, amigo. ”

  “What? Fine, tell Heather to call someone up. And come down to the infirmary with us; I need you to read her hand and see what you can get. ” Now that the first shock of seeing Kara alive was over, Alex’s main concern was whether whoever had beaten her up was still coming after her, about to discover their base.

  They’d almost reached the door; Kara stiffened and stopped short. “No,” she said. “No readings. Just – no more, all right?”

  Her voice shook, and unease stirred through Alex – what the hell had happened to her? He glanced at Seb and could see the half-angel scanning her aura more thoroughly, picking up who knew what from it.

  “Okay, don’t worry,” Alex said. He got Kara inside and punched the button for the elevator. “Just tell me, is anyone following you?”

  Kara had slumped against his shoulder again; blearily, she shook her head. Her short black hair, always so sleek against her scalp, was longer now, unkempt. And her nails… Alex’s chest tightened as he saw that they were ragged and broken, with no sign of the jaunty pink polish she used to wear.

  They got her down to the medical bay. In response to Alex’s page, Claudia arrived; she looked at Kara in surprise. “Who…?” she started to say.

  “She’s an AK from the Mexico City group,” Alex said tersely. “I’ll explain later. ”

  “All right, let me clean up her face and see what I can do for her nose,” said Claudia. “Any other injuries?”

  “I think I’ve got a broken rib,” Kara murmured. She was lying on the examination table, her good eye closed. In her jeans and old T-shirt, she looked almost skeletal.

  As Claudia started to work, Seb took Alex’s arm and drew him aside. “She’s been around angels,” he said. “I can feel their energy in her aura – not angel burn, but they’ve been near to her. For a long time, I think. ”

  Somehow Alex wasn’t surprised. He gazed at Kara. “I can’t believe she’s still alive,” he said softly. “It’s been almost a year; what’s been going on?”

  It didn’t seem likely he’d find out anytime soon. Though sitting up now, Kara looked dead to the world as Claudia dabbed at her face – hardly even reacting when the paramedic adjusted her broken nose with a quick motion and then set it with tape.

  They didn’t have an X-ray machine. As Claudia gently examined Kara’s ribs, Alex winced to see how sharply each was outlined beneath Kara’s mocha skin. Not to mention the bruising – it looked like someone had used her for a punching bag.

  “Think it’s just a fracture…at least there shouldn’t be any danger of it puncturing the lung there,” Claudia muttered. “I hope. ” Finally she nodded. “Okay, I think that’s it – you look really dehydrated, though. Let’s get you into bed and onto a drip. ”

  She brought out a green hospital gown. “Here,” she said, placing it on Kara’s lap. “There’s a bathroom just there, if you want to get changed. ”

  The gown slithered to the floor as Kara eased herself off the table, clutching its edge for support. “No, I’ll keep my own clothes. ”

  Claudia blinked. “But you need to rest. You won’t be very comfortable if—”

  “I said no. ”

  Claudia looked at Alex; he shrugged. “Forget it. Let’s just get her into bed. ”

  There were three hospital beds in an adjacent room. Claudia drew back the covers of one, and Alex helped Kara into it; she sank against the pillows. Then as Claudia readied an IV drip, Kara’s good eye flew to Alex’s in alarm.

  “It’s just to get you hydrated again; it’s all right,” he said. Kara swallowed and nodded. She made no protest as Claudia eased the needle into her forearm and taped it into place.

  “Okay,” said Claudia, holding a hypodermic up to the light as she filled it. She reached for Kara’s arm again. “I’ve got something here that will help you sleep—”

  Kara’s thin hand shot out and grabbed her wrist; Claudia gave a startled squeak. “Touch me with that thing, and I’ll stab you in the neck with it,” said Kara in a low voice.

  Alex had lunged at her first movement; he gripped Kara’s wrist hard. Finger by finger, she let go of Claudia. “Trust me, you don’t even want to try it,” he said. “Do not threaten my team, now or ever again. Claudia, you’d better go. Thanks for your help – I’ll call you if we need you. ”

  She nodded, still pale. Seb stood leaning against the doorway; she brushed against him as she hurried out.

  “I should go too,” Seb said, straightening.

  There was a chair beside Kara’s bedside; Alex dropped into it. Kara had collapsed back against the bedding, her good eye closed again. “I’d better sit with her for a while,” said Alex, rubbing a hand over his face. “But, yeah, you go on to bed. ”

  Seb shook his head as he glanced at Kara. “It’s not that. She doesn’t want me here. Goodnight, amigo. ”

  Before Alex could respond, Seb had slipped out, silent as a ghost. Alex looked at Kara with a frown. Since arriving she’d hardly acknowledged Seb’s presence, but now he saw her relax a little. At the sound of the outer door closing, she turned her head to look at him, twisting at the sheet’s hem with a fretful hand.

  “Willow’s here too, isn’t she?” she asked. “Alex, how can you bear to have them around? How?”

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