Authors: Cassia Brightmore
“Sebastian Harris, age five. Admitted overnight with shortness of breath. How are you two doing today, Mrs. Harris?” Webster addressed the slim woman leaning over the boy. The dark circles under her eyes and the protective way she hovered indicated this was Sebastian’s mother.
“Hi, Dr. Webster. We’re hanging in, aren’t we, Sebastian?” Her smile was full of love but her eyes held her fear. Fear that she’d lose her child before he really got a chance to live. “You have quite the entourage today,” she commented, her eyes darting nervously over the group of interns crowded into the room.
“They’re interns, pay them no mind.” A deep voice answered from the door. The bodies shuffled and made way for the man as he shouldered his way through. He walked to Mrs. Harris and put a hand on her shoulder and then ruffled Sebastian’s blond hair.
“Good morning, champ. Got an update on the scores for me?” Athena’s mouth dropped as she recognized the man in the white coat. It was the douche from that morning that had nearly ran over her and Sabine. Now he was here in the same patient room as them. Was he an intern? No, he was too old for that. A resident? Too authoritative for that. Oh, God. Please, no. He can’t be...
Sebastian answered the douche’s question before she got a chance to finish her thought. “Dr. O’Reilly! The Yankees were down by three runs in the 8th, but they came back to win in the bottom of the 9th. You owe me ten minutes outside today. You promised.”
“Okay, kid. We’ll talk,” he smiled once more at him and then turned to address the interns. “I’m Dr. Cian O’Reilly, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Who can tell me based on the symptoms you’ve observed so far why Sebastian has been admitted?” The room fell dead quiet; no one brave enough to answer.
His eyes locked with hers, his penetrating gaze staring right through her. She knew the answer and he knew it. They engaged in a silent battle of wills, her refusing to address him, him refusing to let her get away that easily. Finally, on a sigh, she gave in.
“Heart transplant?” her answer came out like a question and that annoyed her. She cleared her throat and tried again. “My preliminary assessment is that Sebastian is waiting on a heart transplant.” She looked at his mother sympathetically, her heart breaking as the woman’s eyes filled with tears.
“Correct. And in the time you wasted voicing that accurate assessment, you lost precious seconds. Seconds that could cost this little boy if someone else was placed above him on the transplant list as a result of your hesitation. To be a good doctor, you need to study hard, practice and have real skills. To be an outstanding doctor, you need to have good instincts and enough sense to know when to follow them.” He looked hard at each of them, his gaze finally coming back to land on her. This time, a jolt of electricity flowed through her at the contact. There was something about his cold and domineering attitude that both infuriated her and turned her on at the same time. He was sexy as sin and he damn well knew it. “In your case, I’d say you better start practicing those skills if you want to have a chance at becoming an outstanding doctor.” His words were meant as a stinging blow and they hit home hard. Her temper rose, and she had to fight like hell to keep herself in check.
Dick crashed into the room, the door banging off the wall as he juggled an armload of tablets and binders. Oblivious to the tension, he announced that he’d gathered the charts.
“Are we supposed to give you a medal?” Athena snapped before she could stop herself. Her face turning bright red, she covered her mouth and immediately apologized. “I’m sorry, I don’t know where that came from,” she looked pleadingly at Sabine for help, but it was unnecessary as Cian came to her rescue.
“Put them down and join the others. Have a little respect the next time you enter a patient’s room. Sebastian, bud, I’ll be back later to talk about those ten minutes. Mara, find me if you need anything.” He tossed Athena a cocky grin and then strode from the room, leaving them all staring after him.
Sabine sighed long and low. “I’m in love.”
Athena huffed out a breath. “He’s an ass.”
“He’s an ass you’re going to have to suck up to if you want on his service,” Sabine whispered as they followed Dr. Webster to the next patient room.
“Don’t remind me.”
IAN LET THE door to his penthouse apartment swing shut behind him and dropped his keys on the entryway table. It’d been a week since Henry Smalls had passed away unexpectedly on the table and he’d ‘taken care of’ the problem of Sally Pope. So far, there had been no suspicion over her death on the table; there never was when one of his special patients expired. His team was a well-oiled machine, each an integral part of making sure that their activities remained secret.
In the kitchen, he uncorked a bottle of fine red wine and poured himself a healthy glass. His chef had prepared salmon and steamed vegetables, leaving everything ready for him to heat and serve. With his hours at the hospital fluctuating as they did, there was little time for him to cook, no matter how much it was one of his favorite pastimes. His apartment showed off more of his style and little of his personality. Beige and cream paint colored the walls while modern art filled in the blank spaces. There were no splashes of color, no gaudy photo frames cluttering up his space. Everything was clean lines and open space. Neat and orderly just how he liked it.
Taking his warmed plate and glass of wine, he sat at his cream marble kitchen table and opened his portfolio to the section that held his notepad. A few clicks of a remote had his wall size flat-screen TV turning on to the local news station. He spent the next thirty minutes listening to the reports and pouring over the newspaper jotting down notes and information. One particular case on the news caught his attention and had him looking up.
“The young woman has been missing for three weeks now and frantic pleas from her parents for her safe return have gone viral in a heart breaking video posted on social media sites. Layla Hunt, eighteen, was last seen in New York City outside a theatre on 43rd Street. She was visiting the city with two girlfriends who have both given statements to the police. Foul play is suspected; a source tells us that this investigation has ties to the string of unsolved murders in the Louisiana a few months back. If you have any information that could lead to the safe return of Layla Hunt, please contact authorities immediately.” Cian chewed his salmon thoughtfully as he recalled the details of the murdered women from a few months back. Apparently, the killer had a sick fetish for blood and got off on torturing the women for days before disposing of them. The trail had gone cold; that was until now when the killer had evidently resurfaced in New York City. He made several notes in his file to remind himself to do some digging. He’d never had a serial killer as one of his patients before but there was a first time for everything.
is what they’re calling him. A man in the shadows that’s protecting our city without us knowing about it.” Cian’s head snapped up and his eyes locked on the annoying, bubbly, former weather girl, Rae Kelley. She’d recently been appointed to a news anchor position and now every night at the city was treated—or tortured depending how you looked at it—to her presence on their screens relating the latest news.
“Criminals that have previously escaped persecution are conveniently ending up dead not long after they’ve been released from their charges. Is this a coincidence? Or does the city really have a protector watching over us and ridding us of criminals that have gotten away with unspeakable crimes? I’ll be looking into these cases over the next few weeks and reporting on my online blog,
, so be sure to keep it locked on Channel 15 and bookmark my site.”
Cian launched the remote across the room in disgust. How the hell had they picked up on the deaths not being accidental? And some dimwit weather reporter at that?
“Fuck.” he swore. If they’d figured out that the criminals that skipped out on punishment were slowly going missing, and ultimately ending up dead, it was only a matter of time before their “investigation” lead them straight to him, and that was something he couldn’t have. He’d have to speak to Reynolds about the OR notes and be sure that everything was iron-clad to show that the deaths on his table had been accidental and nothing more. His reputation would hold through some scrutiny but not something on a scale as large as this. He needed a plan and he needed it fast. The urge to kill was becoming stronger with every passing day and waiting the twenty-three days to take another victim was damn near killing him.
Feeling wound up, he rose from the table and dumped his dishes in the dishwasher. He needed release to get rid of the tension coiled inside him after watching that news broadcast. Walking into the living room, he grabbed his phone and scrolled through the numbers. None of the women jumped out at him and he fucking knew why. That intern with her unique, wide, olive-colored eyes was on his mind a hell of a lot more than she should be. Her stare had burned into him from the first second he’d spotted her in the parking lot after he’d nearly mowed her down when she’d been standing stupidly in the middle of the road. Thinking she was some new nurse, he’d brushed her off, only to find her later at the bedside of one of his patients. Intelligence flashed in her eyes and he knew she was as sharp as they came. The fact that she’d held back when he knew she knew the answer pissed him off. To have knowledge and not use it was the highest form of idiocy and he wouldn’t tolerate it, especially from someone that could end up assisting in his OR.
She had a bit of spunk in her though, he’d give her that. Her sassy comment to the asshole intern that had barged in the room like a bumbling buffoon had proven that. She would be a challenge and challenges were something that interested him. And if he was being honest with himself, the new little intern did interest him. He’d bet his life that smart mouth could be put to several good uses.
He changed clothes in his bedroom and then opened the door to a second bedroom that housed his home gym. A few hours working up a good sweat would push those eyes and that mouth out of his mind. The last thing he needed right now was the distraction of an unwanted woman, amazing eyes or not.
A coffee cup slid across the nurse’s desk in front of Athena where she was charting vitals on the three patients she’d seen so far that shift. Glancing up, she smiled gratefully at Sabine who always seemed to know exactly what she needed. Their friendship was one of the things she treasured most in her life; she might drive her crazy with her insane ideas, but her fun-loving spirit was what made her who she was.
“Thanks. How’s it going in the ER?” she asked. Webster had split them up that morning and Sabine had been one of the interns assigned to the ER for the day. It actually was one of the better assignments as the chances of being picked to observe in the OR were much higher than when rounding on patients and prescribing medications like she’d been doing all day.
“It’s fucking unreal, Thene. You wouldn’t believe the shit that’s come through the door. A guy had a nail file in his eye. A nail file! His girlfriend shoved it there after finding pictures on his phone of him and another woman. But get this, it was his cousin, she just flipped out and wouldn’t listen to the explanation! They were able to get it out without surgery though,” her excited recounting ended with a frown, showing her disappointment at not being able to scrub in on the eye surgery.
Clarence and Oscar joined them, Clarence tossing an apple in the air and catching it before taking a bite. Oscar hung back a bit awkwardly, still not sure of his place in the group. It’d been two weeks since their first day and Athena had yet to hear him say more than five words unless he was speaking to Webster or a patient. Even Dick had warmed up slightly, although he was still a creep as far as Athena was concerned.
“Dude, I can’t believe you’re not more animated about this! We were in the OR, come on, crack a smile or something,” Clarence said around a mouthful of apple.