Ryder:SEALs of Honor, Book 14(8)

By: Dale Mayer


“That’s enough,” he said. “I’m taking you back to the clinic.”

“I’m fine,” she said, her teeth chattering so badly it was hard to talk. “They have bigger problems to deal with. I just need to get warm.”

Instantly, she was shifted gently to one side, and he lay down behind her and tucked her up close. With his arms wrapped around her, his legs pressed up against hers, it was like coming up against a heated blanket. Slowly, ever so slowly, she started to warm up.

Finally her teeth stopped chattering, and she whispered, “Thank you.”

He dropped a gentle kiss on her head, bringing tears to her eyes. And he whispered, “No problem. Now go to sleep.”

Too tired and sore, and still too cold to argue, she let her eyes drift closed and finally fell asleep.

*

Ryder held her close. Her vomiting had really worried him.

He’d seen a lot of different reactions to head injuries, and, from where he was, he counted only a few stitches, six or eight at the most, at the back of her head. She also might have more than a concussion. The doctor had clipped her hair around the torn skin at her nape and had pulled the edges together. It didn’t look deep but was raw and ugly looking. He’d seen much worse. However, what he didn’t know was if she’d sustained other injuries. No way would he sleep. Somebody needed to keep a watch on her overnight.

He glanced around the tent and saw two of the beds appeared to be claimed as duffel bags were underneath. The rest of the tent was empty. He didn’t really have any right to be here, but it was either this or he took her to the clinic. If nothing else he should let them know what kind of reaction she had had.

Had they given her drugs? Maybe she’d reacted to those? Worried, he went over the possible scenarios, afraid something much more major was going on.

Another woman walked into the tent and froze at the sight of him. He held up a finger to his lips, checked on Caitlyn to make sure she was still sleeping and slowly sat up. He walked over to the woman and said, “She was injured today. She just emptied her stomach and couldn’t get warm. She’s asleep now.”

The other woman was one of the supply chain clerks. She nodded. “I’m just here to collect my bag. Then I report to work.”

He nodded. “I want to update the doctor on her condition. Can you stay long enough for me to return?”

She frowned, checked her watch and said, “Only if you’re fast.”

He was gone instantly. He found Dr. Carter, standing at the entrance to the med center, catching a breath of fresh air. Ryder introduced himself and said, “You put stitches in Caitlyn’s head today. I don’t know if it’s important or not, but she just had a violent upchuck session and couldn’t get warm.”

The doctor frowned and said, “Are you keeping an eye on her overnight, or do you want me to watch her here?” He turned and looked inside. “We’re really short on space after the last attack.”

“That’s what Caitlyn said,” Ryder said. “She refused when I mentioned it earlier.”

“Keep an eye on her. If her symptoms persist or get any worse, bring her in. Likely she’ll be fine come morning.”

Ryder had to be content with that. He quickly retraced his steps to her tent. The supply chain clerk smiled with relief. “Thanks for being as fast as you were.” And she bolted out the door.

At Caitlyn’s side, he noted her deep relaxed breathing contrasted by her ashen-white cheeks and an almost bruised look under her eyes. He still had a bucket of nastiness to dispose of. Something he needed to do now. He hated to leave her alone, but the latrine was next door. He dumped the bucket, rinsed it out, dumped and rinsed it a few more times and then went back.

There was no change in Caitlyn’s condition. She slept deeply. Good. That was the best thing for her. He took her water bottle and raced out to the mess tent for several new ones, and, since he hadn’t had anything to eat, he grabbed a sandwich and some coffee.

Back at her tent, he sat at the end of her bed to keep watch.

His phone went off several minutes later. Corey asked, “Where the hell are you?”

“Caitlyn was injured. I’m at her bedside.” He glanced down to make sure he hadn’t awakened her, but she slept soundly.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“I can’t do anything less,” he said simply.

After that came no answer. Then again what could Corey say? He knew Caitlyn wasn’t Ryder’s best friend anymore, yet Ryder could hardly leave her like this.

He was a better person than that. And, although he understood the need to protect his heart, he wasn’t at all sure it was possible. She’d had a place deep inside for such a long time.

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