“Internal bleeding, broken ribs, broken nose and broken fingers on both hands. Contusions and lacerations virtually everywhere… it’s a miracle he survived the journey here.”
Myranda Gaehts gave the doctor a grateful smile. “Thank you for saving his life, Doctor. He’s more important to me than you could ever know.”
Doctor Loken repaid her smile with a nod. “Your husband is very lucky to have had you looking out for him, Mrs. Stellerson.”
She tried not to cringe at the false name she had given to protect herself and Darius Alazar from her real husband. But she knew Berent would be monitoring all the hospitals on Sindria for word of their whereabouts and couldn’t risk being found when Alazar was so vulnerable. “Can I see him now?”
The doctor nodded once more. “He’s not likely to be very coherent yet, but he’s stable enough for a short visit. If you’ll follow me.”
Myranda followed the doctor, a middle-aged Sindrian man, down the hall to the recovery ward. She was slightly surprised that this hospital was so similar to the one she worked in. Perhaps all hospitals on this planet were the same? The doctor showed her in to Alazar’s room and left her with strict instructions to stay no more than fifteen minutes. She promised to behave and waited until he had gone before turning her attention to her patient.
Alazar was asleep, his usually quite handsome face swollen and stitched in various places. His breathing was even and slow, his heart monitor emitting a strong, steady rhythm. She moved to the touchpad set in its niche on the footboard of the bed and picked it up, the screen waking up at her touch. Alazar’s chart displayed on the screen and she flipped through the pages, looking for any issues she’d need to monitor him for over the coming days. Other than mild anemia and the usual risk of infection, he appeared to be in no danger.
Myranda looked up to see Alazar squinting at her. She put the chart back in its niche and came closer to him. “No, Alazar, it’s Myranda. Meris is waiting for us with Wyll and the others. How do you feel?”
He grunted and licked his busted lips. “Like I barely survived being beaten to death.” His voice was hoarse. Myranda picked up the cup of water from the bedside table and helped him take a sip. He swallowed thickly. “Thank you.”
Relentlessly polite, our Alazar. “You bet.” She eyed him a little more closely. He looked so frail, nothing like the man who was the nearly sainted owner of the NewVerse’s largest supplier of the versatile and lucrative Bolidium ore. He had always seemed untouchable, somehow, and yet so compassionate. In the days she had gotten to really know him, she realized that this persona was genuine. He was a caring, noble man.
Alazar was also the man her husband had tried to frame for murder.
“I’m going to have to get you out of here soon. Do you think you’re up for it?”
He nodded slowly. “I know you’ll take good care of me.” He tried to smile, but it ended up a wince. He took a deep breath and let it out in a controlled, slow exhale. “How soon?”
Myranda glanced out the window. Evening was approaching. “In the morning. After the four o’clock rounds, but before sunrise.” She frowned sympathetically. “I’d give you more time if I could…”
“I’ll be fine.”
She gave a curt nod. “You have to be, or Berent wins.” Her hands balled up into fists. “And I can’t let that happen.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Doctor Loken approaching. He rapped his knuckles on the door before entering the room. She forced her hands and expression to relax and smiled at him. “Fifteen minutes already?” She placed a hand on Alazar’s forearm and gently but firmly squeezed.
“I’m afraid so, Mrs. Stellerson. Your husband needs to rest now.”
She quickly turned the warmest smile she could fake on Alazar. “You heard the doctor, honey. Get some rest now, but I’ll be back in the morning.”
He barely batted an eye. “I’ll look forward to it, my love.”
She bent as if to kiss his cheek, but then made a show of stopping herself at the sight of his many wounds. “Oh, uh,” she said, straightening back up. She kissed her fingertips and gingerly caressed his left temple, one of the few uninjured spots on his face. The loving look he gave her was so convincing she actually felt her heart skip a beat. “Good night, love.”
He placed his battered hand over hers. “Be safe.”
She smiled again, though she felt far from happy leaving him so unguarded, and turned to face the doctor. She caught the look of suspicion on his face being quickly replaced – or hidden – by a warm expression. “Good night, Doctor.”
“Good night.” He stepped aside for her, and she shot one last look at Alazar – a warning to watch out for this seemingly good-natured caregiver – before leaving.
She kept her pace even and confident as she walked toward the exit. If Loken wasn’t convinced by their charade, Alazar could be in serious danger. They may need to step up their timetable by several hours.
She dug her tablet out of her pocket and sent a buzz to her brother, Wyll:
Possibly sussed. Ready the fireworks. -M