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From Inside the Flap
Rianna was tired-and she had a sinus headache. She considered using her allergy medication, but it usually made her drowsy. She looked down at her watch. It was midnight, and she still had five hours to go on her shift as triage nurse at the Le Font Nursing Home for the Elderly.
Things had been slow all night. She and her supervisor, Mike, were the only ones on schedule, and he was doing rounds while she monitored the rooms. She opened a desk drawer and pulled out her purse. She took out a couple of aspirins, popped them into her mouth, and washed them down with a swig from her bottle of water. She put the bottle of aspirins and her purse away and turned her attention to the monitors.
She saw something out of place as soon as she looked down at the one connected to Mr. Jacobson's room. Mr. Jacobson suffered from Alzheimer's and had been at the facility for several years. Over the years, she had grown fond of him, and checked on him periodically to see how he was doing. He didn't recognize anyone anymore, and he had to be strapped into bed at night so he wouldn't wander through the hospital and get hurt.
A man entered the room. Rianna looked down at her watch again. Visiting hours were long over, and he did not resemble the elderly black man. She assumed that Mr. Jacobson didn't have any family or friends, since no one ever came to see him, so naturally it made her curious when she saw the visitor walk over to his bed. She couldn't see his face very clearly. He was dressed in a white suit, and he was very muscular. He didn't utter a word. He just reached over and touched Mr. Jacobson on the forehead.
Something jumped in front of the screen and blocked her view for a second. Rianna yelped. Whatever it was had scared the shit out of her, because she hadn't been expecting anything to happen. The monitor alarm beeped loudly, and then there was one resounding, loud blare.
She reached for the microphone. "Code Blue to room one-oh-six," she stammered. Her heart palpitated wildly in her chest as fear gripped her. Her patient was in trouble, and she couldn't lose him too. She pressed the emergency button, put down the mike, jumped to her feet, and ran over to get the crash cart. It would be a couple of minutes before the entire emergency team could arrive from a nearby hospital, so she was on her own. She headed toward Mr. Jacobson's room. It was her job to do whatever she could to help him.
Rianna turned the curve so quickly that she nearly toppled the cart. She stopped in front of Mr. Jacobson's room and pushed the door open. The man in white stood over Mr. Jacobson's prone, still figure.
"You're not supposed to be here," she said to the man's back. "Visiting hours are over."
He turned around to face her. Rianna gasped, and her heart fluttered. He was so extremely handsome that the sight of him made her momentarily speechless.
The stranger did not respond. He just stared past her as if he was looking at someone else on the other side of the room.
"I don't know what you did to him, but you need to leave now." Hurrying over to Mr. Jacobson, she looked at the screen that monitored his heart rate. It had flatlined. She reached over on the cart, picked up the paddles of the defibrillator, and placed them on her patient's chest. She discharged electricity to his heart to shock it back to a normal rhythm. Mr. Jacobson's body rose from the bed and then fell. But the line remained flat. A repetition of the procedure produced the same results.
The rest of the crew arrived. Mike rushed through the door with them. "Start massaging his chest," he ordered. The others fell into place beside the bed.
Rianna nodded. She pointed behind him. "Get that visitor out of the room. This is no place for him."
Mike turned around. "What visitor?"
"The man in the white suit standing near the door."
The others can't see him. "Never mind," she muttered. She didn't have time to explain. The man had probably slipped out in all the confusion. She went back to work on Mr. Jacobson, even though she knew he was beyond help now.
Calypso looked at Thantos with a disapproving snarl on his face. "She saw you. How is that possible, Than?"
Thantos shrugged his shoulders. "How the hell do I know?"
Calypso raised an eyebrow. "Has this ever happened before?"
"Not that I know of. Maybe she's a demon."
Calypso shook his head. "I don't think so. She felt human to me." He raised his hand and raked it over Thantos' aura. "You feel normal, too."
"Human normal?" Thantos joked.
"This isn't a time for humor, Thantos. No, you still feel like an immortal, except for your heart. It feels human."
"Don't shit with me. You know my heart is as black as the subterranean tar pits of Hades."
Calypso almost cracked a smile-almost. "I can't explain it, but we'd better leave before she comes out that door." He turned and disappeared, leaving Thantos standing in the dimly lit hall.
A dark shadow hovered nearby, waiting. If he did nothing, it would continue to linger there, lost and confused. It was a disembodiment-an essence seeking guidance. Thantos waved his hand and whisked them out of the nursing home.
Tears streamed down Rianna's face at the realization her favorite patient had passed away. She had lost patients before, but Mr. Jacobson was special. She sighed and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. Her emotions were all tangled. It seemed as if she were being punished. She was angry, and she felt betrayed. I'm a good person. Why is this happening to me? She shook away the hatred and depression that tried to engulf her. Maybe Mike was right. I do need to take some time off to rest. It's been a month since Seth died.
No one thought someone his age could have a heart attack, but he drank like a fish and use recreational drugs from the moment he woke up until the moment he went to bed. Seth's overindulgence in both made it impossible for them to have a meaningful relationship, especially since they'd never had sex. He'd never been able to get an erection, which had pissed her off-and left her very horny.
All of her friends had been telling her for years to get a new man, but finding one in Mayflower was damn nearly impossible. The place was just teeming with good-for-nothing, low-life men, whose idea of fun was hanging out in the country bars. It didn't take her long to discover that Seth was the cream of the crop.
Well, all that was true until she met Andrew. The two of them had met when he came into the nursing home to visit his grandmother. Things were starting to get hot and heavy between them and she was meeting him at his apartment tomorrow for dinner.
"Have you given any thought to taking some time off?" Mike asked as he approached her desk.
Rianna nodded. "Yes, I have. I was thinking of using some of my vacation time to clean my house," she lied. "And maybe I'll take a trip home to Dallas for a visit." Another lie. She didn't have anyone there any more. Both of her parents died when she was child, and she didn't have any siblings. She did have a sprinkling of aunts, uncle, and cousins, but they were never very close to her.
"Excellent plan. You need some rest. Seeing men that aren't there isn't normal."
Rianna grimaced. He would have to go there. She had pushed the incident to the back of her mind. She guessed she could contribute what she saw to stress. Working in a nursing home could get pretty harrowing at times, especially when she had to work double shifts.
"I'll just go over to the office and get the paperwork." Mike left the desk and walked down the hall.
Rianna smiled. She supposed that if it had been a hallucination, it was the best hallucination in the world. The man in her fantasy had been perfect. She closed her eyes and conjured him up in her mind. He appeared to her like a vision in white, with thick silver-gray hair, light-colored eyes and a movie star's face. He was also muscular and tall, which was the way she preferred her men. Just the thought of him made her feel all tingly inside.
A few minutes later, her daydream was interrupted when Mike returned with the vacation forms and handed them to her. She signed them right in front of him and gave them back.
"Have a great time," he told her. "See you in two weeks."
Rianna glanced at her watch. It was five in the morning, which meant her shift was over. She gathered up her things and walked outside. It was still dark outside and a thick fog had just rolled in. The full moon was barely visible.
Damn. Why didn't I park closer to the building instead of in the second lot? She walked in the direction she thought she had left her car. The sound of footsteps echoed behind her. Rianna turned her head to look, but didn't see anyone. She kept on walking, lightly brushing into the edges of cars. She continued to berate herself for parking so far away. The nursing home was located on the seamier side of Mayflower, Texas, near several bars, a boxing gym, and a slaughterhouse.
The footsteps grew nearer. Rianna quickened her pace. Evidently whoever it was had her in their scope, even though she had trouble seeing through the thick haze. She fumbled around her purse for her keys. She scraped her knuckles on the rough surface of the bag as she searched. The sharp edge of one of her keys nearly pierced the side of her hand. She grabbed it, pulled it out of her purse and pressed the remote, hoping to see her taillights flash. She didn't see anything except more fog. It took her several seconds to realize that she wasn't even going in the right direction, and her stalker was using it to his or her advantage.
Rianna ran into the side of a car. She felt around it until she was at the trunk and then ducked out of sight. A few seconds later, someone approached. He was so near that she could smell his cologne and perspiration. She peeked around the car, hoping she wouldn't be seen. She could make out a pair of blue denim jeans and a plaid shirt such as most of the ranchers in the area wore. Long, black, stringy hair hung down his back and shielded most of his face. She heard another set of footsteps. She didn't like these odds. The second man, too, had on a pair of jeans, but this one wore a solid-colored shirt. It was too dark for her to make out the color.
"The woman is hiding out here somewhere," one of them said. "Find her." He had an accent, but it wasn't a southern one. There was a guttural noise and then the sound of departing footsteps.
Rianna figured that she should try to get to her car. The sun was starting to come up, and visibility would soon improve. She stood and looked around to get her bearings. She had parked her car in Lot B next to the big oak tree. She squinted, and the tree came into view. She looked to the right and then slid around the side of the car. Someone grabbed her from behind and slammed her against the vehicle. She screamed, and a calloused hand covered her mouth. Her assailant grabbed her around her waist and pulled her backwards. His stench assaulted her. Rianna struggled to break free. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, and her hand hurt from the tight grip she had on her keys and purse.
"Stop struggling," he ordered. "It won't do you any good."
Rianna frowned. I'm not going out that way, she thought. She planned to ignore what her self-defense teacher had taught her. She wasn't going to give up her purse or her pussy without a struggle. She planned to fight to the bitter end. She was trying to free herself from his grasp when the other man reappeared.
"Can't you control one human female?" he asked. Rianna could clearly see his face now. He had an olive complexion, light blue eyes and short, black hair.
"She's a fighter," the one who held her replied.
She tried to bite his hand.
He bent over and whispered in her ear. "Bite me and I'll snap your neck and carry your dead ass back to Demetrius, human."
Who the hell is Demetrius? She didn't know anyone by that name.
All of a sudden, something came barreling though the fog and knocked the dark-haired man out of the way. Whatever it was moved so fast that she couldn't get a good look at it. The man struggled to his feet but was knocked down again. He didn't get up this time.
"What the hell is that?" the man who held her asked.
Something slammed into him. He released her before he fell to the ground. Rianna escaped to the safety of her car, thanking her guardian angel for protecting her.
Blood Moon Publishing is an imprint of Double Dragon Publishing