“That ever happens again, don’t wake me,” I warn. A menacing thought strikes through me picturing what could have happened if I didn’t wake in time. She’s lucky I didn’t hurt her, like the last time a woman touched me while I had a nightmare.
“You don’t always have to be so brave, Jesse.” Her hand moves to my dog tags. I don’t stop her. I’m starting to like the feeling of her hands touching them.
“Never tried to be, Bell. But talking doesn’t help me. Never has.” I think back to the time when I did try and it forced me out of control. Talking about those triggers only amplified my insecurities. When death sits afar, mocking you in the dangerous confines of your surroundings, it fucks with your head; nothing was going to change it.
Besides, my issues weren’t what I had done. They were what I had survived. My conscience wasn’t clear and my honor wasn’t clean.
“Promise me you won’t touch me.” I keep my tone even, controlled.
“I promise.” I take her hand in mine and bring it to my lips. Maybe one day I will let someone in. Let her in.
Today isn’t that day.
But today, I didn’t push her away.
That has to count for something.
“Bell, we have a glass wound. Need your help. Bay three.” Rebecca, a fellow nurse rushes past me as I finish up with cleaning a nasty graze a five-year-old earned when she fell off her bike.
“Coming,” I call out, ripping my disposable gloves off and dropping them in the nearest trash can. “Okay Mrs. Penn, the doctor will be in soon to assess that cut under Lara’s chin.” I turn my head and smile down at my little patient.
“Will I get a lollipop?” Her lip wobbles, but she doesn’t let the tears come.
Learning from past experiences, I turn back to her mom to make sure she’s allowed candy. She nods, giving me the okay. “Of course, you keep being fearless and I’ll tell Dr. Benson just how brave you are.” Her small grin grows wide and she turns to her mom in excitement.
“Sit tight.” I nod, then quickly duck out and make my way down to bay three.
Tonight’s shift in the ER has been crazy. One after another, we’ve been hit with cuts, breaks, falls, even fights. I was meant to finish my shift two hours ago, but with the way the night is going, I know there is no hope until we can clear some beds.
“Bell, I need you,” Rebecca calls again and I race the rest of the way. Pulling the curtain back, I take in the scene.
“What the fuck are you standing there for? Get this fucking thing out of me so I can get gone.” A big, burly man sitting on the bed curses. A large piece of glass is embedded into the top of his shoulder, protruding through his leather jacket.
“If you don’t calm down, sir, we’ll have to call security,” Rebecca warns, holding a pair of scissors.
“You’re not coming near my fucking cut with those scissors.” He continues to curse, looking from Rebecca to me.
“Can you deal with him? I need to clean the wound but he’s refusing to budge.” Rebecca hands me the scissors.
“Looks like you have no choice, sir.” I step forward to inspect the glass.
“You’re not fucking cutting it off. I’ll pull this fucker out myself before you cut it up,” he announces.
“It’s just a jacket,” I comment, running my eyes over the leather, and that’s when I catch the patch on the side.
Warriors of Mayhem.
Great, just who I want to work on. This man could have taken my sister . I force the thought out of my head. I promised Jesse I wouldn’t get involved with these men. I’m not breaking it.
“It’s more than just a jacket, sweetheart.” I flinch at the endearment, but nod because I get it. The way the Rebels wear theirs, I know what he means.
“Fine,” I agree, moving to the small basin in the corner to wash my hands and get gloved up.
“Rebecca, help me get set up,” I ask, drying my hands.
She gets to work, setting up everything we need. Turning back around, I catch the man watching me.
“You’re going to do it?” He opens his mouth and pushes his tongue slightly forward in disgust. Yeah, I feel the same way, asshole.
“We’re going to get the wound cleaned up before the doctor comes in. Do you have an issue with that,”—I look down at his chart to get his name—“Danger?” I tilt my head and pause. “Mr. Danger Hale?”
“That’s my name, baby. You wanna take a ride with Danger?” Clamping my lips together, I hold up my hand and ask for a minute.
“Sorry, you expect me to believe your name is Danger?” I find myself impressed he would try it.
“Check my ID. Not messing with you. My mom was loopy.” He shrugs then winces when he moves his shoulder with the piece of glass lodged in it.
“Yeah, sounds like it.” I agree, stepping in closer to begin.
“So how about that ride with Danger?” he smoothly replies, but I don’t respond. Calling Rebecca around, she stands beside me ready to assist as I slowly start to remove the glass.
Danger is quiet while I work, only taking a breath when I finally drop the glass in the metal bowl.
Working quickly, Rebecca helps him out of his cut then starts applying gauze to the gash.
After a few minutes of applying pressure to his wound, I take a look.
“Looks about twenty to twenty-five or so sutures.” I look up and catch his eyes raking over me. “We’ll clean the area, get you ready for a shot, and the doctor will have you stitched up in no time.”