Nikki’s back connected with the hospital wall as she struggled to catch her breath. She gulped mouthfuls of air, feeling the burn in the back of her throat of the antiseptic scents of hospital disinfectant. Her eyes stung, tears pooled in the corners.
I will not be sick, I will not be sick, she repeated, commanding her rebellious stomach. She was not willing to disgrace herself in front of Lieutenant Evans. Not again, after her graceless exit from the room. Her hip still ached from slamming into the doorframe on her rush out. Nothing anyone said and no report could have prepared her for the horror back there in the hospital bed.
Her hand massaged her hip, her eyes closed, and the agony of the infected Shapeshifter seared into her brain. Images of the writhing, twisted being in the room flashed across her closed eyelids like a Technicolor horror movie. The shock of seeing the disease in action would stay with her until the end of her days.
Bile rose in her throat, choking her. She pictured Bella, or heaven forbid, her own sibling, Katie, in place of the anonymous Shifter infected in the hospital bed. Please let it have been swift, she prayed to herself.
Darkness passed between the fluorescent lighting and her closed eyelids. A hand clasped her shoulder and stayed there. Spicy-scented cologne filled her nostrils, flushing the antiseptic smell away. She opened her eyes to find Lieutenant Evans looking down at her.
“Are you okay, Hill?”
“You could call me Nikki.” She tried to change the subject to wipe the images from her mind. “Or Nick.”
His gaze traveled up and down her body in the first appreciative look she’d seen from him. His eyes showed an interest she could easily reciprocate. Warmth filled her as his gaze finally reached her face, and his eyes brightened to metallic silver.
“You don’t look like a Nick to me.”
“I could be in a jiff, if you like.”