Ryder:SEALs of Honor, Book 14(7)

By: Dale Mayer

She gave a quick rundown as he led her into an examining room. Another nurse came. She clipped Caitlyn’s hair at the nape of her neck, then gave her a local anaesthetic. Dr. Carter, according to his name tag, stitched up the cut. “Good timing. I needed to see what your schedule was to put you into the roster. But you’re taking twenty-four hours to rest up, and we’ll see how you are then. Do you have time off coming?”

“Not sure.” She shrugged. “I’ve only got a few weeks left in my tour as it is. I think I do though.”

Nothing like a concussion to ensure confusion. By the time she reached her quarters, her thoughts were scrambled as to whether she was due leave or not.

Feeling unsteady and woozy, she lay down, stretching out with a blanket over her shoulders. She hadn’t even been aware of her injury until the blood flowed in the shower. But now that she knew … She had been given something for the pain but hadn’t even touched it yet.

With all the confusion, she’d forgotten to ask for an update on Mac. And that made her feel like a crap. She’d gotten so busy with everything that had happened after his exit that she hadn’t had a chance to even think about him.

She reached up and tentatively winced as her fingers came in contact with the stitches. If she could get a good night’s sleep, she’d be fine in the morning.

Just as she was about to drop off to sleep, she heard footsteps at the entrance to her eight-bed tent. Still, she hadn’t seen anybody else bunking here since she had arrived. A man called out, “Caitlyn?”

She froze. “Ryder?” Why was he here? She so wanted to see him but not when she was like this.

He stepped into the tent, his gaze searching the quarters before zooming toward her. A frown appeared. In several strides, he reached her bedside. “What the hell happened to you? And when?”

“I can’t remember,” she said. “Maybe flying debris from the blast clipped my head. I don’t know.”

“How bad?”

“Just a few stitches. And a mild concussion, so I’m off for the next day.”

She dropped her gaze, wishing he’d sit down and pull her into his arms. Dangerous thoughts. She just didn’t have the energy to keep her blocks up right now. She had to apologize but feared there was no going back to what they had. That she still loved this guy with the chasm between them made this all so impossible. That he was here, available to talk to, but she wasn’t … not when she was like this, made it worse again.

“Can I get you anything?”

She shook her head and then moaned as waves of blackness swam over her eyes. Gasping, she whispered, “No, I’ll be fine. I just need to lie here. Hopefully when I wake up, it will be okay.”

“Fine, you do that. I’ll come back in a couple hours to check on you.”

“You don’t have to.” She closed her eyes, sinking deeper into the bedding, hoping he’d leave. Pain still rolled through her like a rocking boat in a terrible storm. She kept waiting for calm weather.

Her stomach churned alarmingly. She sat upright, shuddering as what little was in her stomach flew up her throat and out her mouth. And into a bucket. She accepted the container from Ryder even as she wondered how he had known. The trouble was, her stomach wasn’t done emptying. Three more heaves and she lay back, gasping in pain.

“Take it easy.”

She didn’t have a choice. Obviously her body wasn’t letting her do anything but take it easy. The shivers started next. She pulled the blanket over her shoulders, wishing she could disappear. There was no reason to feel ashamed, but it was hard not to. She groaned. “Go away.”

“Like hell,” he said good-naturedly. “I get you don’t want anything to do with me, but I’m not leaving you in this condition. Why aren’t you in the clinic?”

“Not that bad.”

“Right.” He picked up her hand, wrapping her fingers around a bottle. “Here’s some fresh water if you want to drink.”

With his help she sat up enough that she could fill her mouth, rinse, then spit. He held the bucket. She repeated the motion several more times, then finished with a long drink of water. She collapsed back down again, holding out the empty bottle to him. “Take this and thanks.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll bring you another one.”

She didn’t care what he did just so long as he left her alone. Thankfully she heard his footsteps fade away.

She drifted in and out, her stomach still queasy, her head still pounding. She didn’t think it was anything serious, wasn’t exactly sure why her stomach had decided to react since she had eaten very little. Now she could get no food down. If only the shivers would stop. She curled into a fetal position with the blankets almost over her head and waited for her body to warm up. She heard his exclamation before she recognized he’d actually returned.

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