Even though I’m posting this on a Thursday this is labeled as a “Friday Snippet” and I’ve added numbers to these posts so readers can see how to read them in order.
The reason why I’m posting this today is because this piece of the story comes next. However, I’ve previously posted it because I thought readers would enjoy the exchange between Kathryn and Dragos. I don’t want anybody to feel cheated out of a new Friday snippet, so I’ll post a new one – number (3) – tomorrow. As always, this is subject to editing and change.
Hope you enjoy!
New York, present day
When the Lord of the Wyr issued a summons to those he kept on retainer, one responded with as much immediacy as one could manage. While Dr. Kathryn Shaw was no exception to this rule, she also refused to walk out of surgery to accommodate his demands.
“Tell him I’m busy,” she said tersely to the nurse who had delivered the message to the operating room over the intercom.
As she spoke, Kathryn eyed the mangled leg in front of her with a frown. The leg belonged to a twelve-year-old boy who had taken a bad fall while trespassing on a construction site. It was a tricky operation that needed a combination of both magic and physical surgery—which was the only kind of case that Kathryn took on anymore—but she had her favorite surgery team with her, everyone worked really well with each other, and the boy stood a good chance of a near total recovery if Kathryn got it right.
So, she would get it right.
A few minutes later the dragon himself broke into her mind. Kathryn, I need you at Cuelebre Tower, Dragos said telepathically. Get here as fast as you can.
She paused, frustrated, and when the nurse beside her gave her an inquiring glance, she held up a gloved finger and shook her head.
Everyone else in the world had a telepathic range of ten or fifteen feet—everyone, but Dragos. His telepathic range was over a hundred miles, and Kathryn had cause to regret that more than once in her professional life.
She snapped, And I said I was busy. Is anybody on fire? Are any of the sentinels near imminent death?
No, Dragos growled.
Well, I’m in the middle of surgery, and as I’ve told you before, I don’t care for telepathic interruptions when I’m operating.
The Wyr lord was frustrated too. She could hear it in his voice. Can’t you hand the surgery to someone else on your team?
She could, but she wouldn’t. She told him, You wouldn’t want me to walk out on you if I was operating on you, would you?
As she had, in fact, recently operated on him, this hypothetical was more than a little potent. Recently, while in a battle to rescue his kidnapped wife, Dragos had been shot several times and taken a few hits to the chest. One of the bullets had come close to penetrating the truly spectacular protective casing around his powerful heart.
By his pause, she suspected that he was thinking of that injury too. No, of course not.
Then don’t expect me to do it to someone else, she said. If you don’t have a clear-cut medical emergency for me to respond to, then you pick up your damn phone and call or text—and if I say you have to wait, you have to wait. Is that clear?
Well, get here directly after surgery.
Of course. But right now, I’ve got a twelve-year-old boy’s leg to save, so get out of my head—and stay out. She inhaled deeply to get rid of the stress, then turned her total attention back to the boy on her table.
Three hours and twenty-six minutes later, she finished and stepped back to let Angus close for her. Euphoria and relief flooded her tight body. Rotating her head to release the tension in her neck and shoulders, she stripped off her operating gown, gloves, and mask and headed out.
It had been a good afternoon’s work. Better than good. It had been great. She would have a better idea of the boy’s prognosis after his body had fully absorbed the spells, but when she felt this good about a surgery she was rarely wrong about it later. She was pretty sure he would regain full mobility.
But it was too soon to tell his anxious parents that. For now, it was enough to simply tell them she was pleased that the surgery had gone very well. While she briefed them, she multitasked and drank a hot, bracing cup of coffee. After promising to check on his post op recovery that evening, she was finally able to head up to the hospital roof.
As she climbed the stairs, she texted Dragos. Out of surgery. On my way. Be there in 20.
His response was almost immediate. How is the boy?
That last caused her to shake her head and snort. Just when she got to thinking the Wyr lord was a total self-absorbed ass, he switched things up on her. She answered him rapidly. Doing well.
Excellent. Come to the meeting hall when you get here.
Once she reached the rooftop, she shapeshifted into her Wyr form, a falcon, and launched into flight.
She loved flying over New York. The cold, keen autumn wind blew away the last of the hospital scents, while the huge, glittering city sprawled beneath her. New York City had been home to Kathryn for many years. She knew its moods and seasons, and she’d watched the skyline evolve. Flying over Central Park was especially glorious, since all the trees were displaying their fall foliage in brilliant canopies of crimson, yellow, and orange.
The eighty-story-tall Cuelebre Tower was an unmistakable landmark, and as familiar to her as the back of her hand. Swooping down to the roof, she shapeshifted back into her human form and headed for the stairs.
What she really wanted to do was take a detour to the cafeteria and eat a large steak for dinner, but that would have to wait until later.
Now that she had the time to turn her attention to Dragos’s summons, she was growing intrigued.
The last she had heard, Dragos and his mate Pia had been recuperating at home with their newborn son Niall while their eldest son Liam was home visting from college.
Something had lured Dragos back to the city, at least briefly, and whatever it was had to be compelling enough to get him to interrupt his personal family time.
If Dragos had wanted to meet with Kathryn personally, he was just as likely to show up at her office at the hospital or direct her to his. If it involved a matter internal to the Wyr demesne, the meeting venue would most likely have been one of the conference rooms on the top two stories of the Tower.
Being summoned to the meeting hall… that meant outsiders were involved somehow. The meeting hall was where the Cuelebre’s annual Masque of the Gods was held. It was a massive space suitable for public occasions, with tall windows, the high ceilings decorated with crown molding, and the marble floors gleaming and polished.
It also had protection spells woven into the construction, reinforcing steels beams, walls, ceiling and floor in case anything untoward were to happen—and with the Elder Races involved something untoward almost always happened.
Kathryn hadn’t taken the time to change, so when she had shapeshifted back into her human form she still wore her standard surgery fare—blue scrubs, a white long-sleeved thermal shirt underneath, and tennis shoes, and she had confined her straight, fine brown hair in a no-nonsense pony tail. Her scrubs had been fresh when she’d donned them earlier, but now they were crumpled, and in any case, her scrubs weren’t exactly meeting hall attire.
With an internal shrug, she set speculation aside and headed down to the hall which was located just above the ground floor shops and restaurants, and just below the law offices of the Wyr demesne.
This time she took the elevator, and when she stepped out she saw two sentinels, Bayne and Quentin, standing guard at the meeting hall’s large, ornately carved double doors.
Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would have said during her adventure in Wonderland.
Approaching, she said, “Hey, guys.”
Quentin gave her a genial nod. He was a handsome devil and quite insane, as he had mated with the harpy Aryal and appeared to be quite content with the result of his life choices. Despite his undeniable sex appeal, nobody, at least that Kathryn knew of, was tempted to try to coax Quentin into cheating.
Bayne’s handsome looks were much rougher. His Wyr form was a gryphon the size of an SUV, and his human form seemed not that much smaller.
The corners of his gray eyes crinkled as he looked at her. “Hey, Kathryn.”
Oh, she had a soft spot for Bayne. She had a very soft spot for him. They had dated off and on in a casually, and part of her was sorry that they didn’t manage to generate between them whatever it was that catapulted the Wyr into mating.
Maybe they were both too dedicated to their jobs?
Whatever the reason, their relationship was enough that she felt entirely comfortable stopping beside him and switching to telepathy. Any clues about what’s going on before I walk in there?
His smile deepened. Not my place, babe. All I gotta say is, buckle up.
Well, a girl had to try. She was tall for a woman, but not unusually so. The top of her head came to his chin, and she smiled up at him.
Let’s grab a bite to eat afterward, if you’ve got time.
I’d like that. She touched his arm. I have to check on a patient this evening, but other than that, I’m free.
Good deal. He switched back to verbal speech. “Ready to go inside?”
“I guess so.” She gave the closed doors a leery glance.
Quentin opened one of the doors and held it for her.
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