Updated: Sep 8
Sundays at the clinic were always busy; it finally calmed down enough for a break. Besides their fair share of normal activity, once a year, hybrids and vampires had to get physicals, give samples of blood and urine. The humans didn't require this; the hybrids called the Phoenix Council did. To appease the human population, they proved they were disease-free. Vampires never got sick or contracted diseases, and it wasn't often that a hybrid got ill. Their immune system regenerated, repaired and healed most all superficial wounds while preventing illness. On occasion, hybrids got sick from tainted bagged blood or drinking blood full of toxins from a human source containing controlled substances.
The clinic treated humans, hybrids, and vampires. Only open-minded humans used this clinic for treatment. They weren't fond of the risks when vampires showed up for IV blood transfusions even if they chose not to take it from a vein.
On this night, Dr. Sofia Pierce had seen one hybrid that drank tainted blood, a hybrid stabbed in the stomach, conducted four physicals and had to dig something out of the noses of two-year-old hybrid twins. She was on duty until two a.m. with two long hours to go. Generally, she loved the late shift, but she had felt uneasy all day. Perhaps it was all the vampire problems they have had lately. She had experienced one herself when her car broke down, and she had to take the bus ride from hell home from Everett. The vampire community had integrated well over the past seventy years. They became more human; they had regard for all life, so these recent incidents left her troubled.
Sofia worked at the hybrid-vampire clinic because she needed a challenge and wanted more knowledge of their biology. Discovering their differences fascinated her, but it didn't come without risks; she had been injured three times in her two years at the clinic. And still, she loved the job.
She learned from Dr. Ramos, the head of the clinic. Dr. Ramos acted as the primary human doctor for The Alliance headquarters. He went in three times a week and spent three full days at the clinic and performed their physicals and treatments in their infirmary since they had humans on staff. At age sixty-five, Dr. Ramos was ready to retire. He wanted to spend his days fishing and playing with his grandchildren. Who could blame him? This job had its hazards, and he had a lot to live for, go figure.
Sofia was finishing up paperwork behind the front desk when she heard the front door open. She glanced at her watch; it was twelve-fifteen in the morning, the time when accidents came through the door after a rough weekend. They also acted as the overflow for minor human wounds for the emergency room a couple of blocks over.
Busy at her charts, she failed to notice how eerily quiet the front desk clerk, Suzanne, became since the front door opened. Sofia glanced over at Suzanne frozen in place, her hands shaking. Sofia looked up and noticed a massive, muscled hybrid or vampire who looked lethal, though lethal didn't even cover how scary this man appeared. He looked like humans did when having a substance abuse withdrawal; he sweated, shook, and looked confused.
"I… need... help." He struggled to get out his words. He gripped the edge of the counter to maintain control as sweat beaded his forehead.
Sofia stood. "I'm Dr. Pierce, come with me. Let me take a look." She motioned for him to follow her as she stepped out from behind the desk. He hesitated, sniffed the air, and then followed. She glanced over her shoulder. His movements reminded her of an animal stalking its prey. Inside her pocket, her hand closed around the tranquilizer epi-pen she carried for emergencies. She hated using the drug, but necessary at times. And hers could take down a grizzly, which meant it could take down a vampire.
His jet-black hair was messy and wavy, touching his shoulders. He wore blue jeans with a tight, dark T-shirt and biker boots. Intricate tattoos covered his left arm starting at his wrist, disappearing under his shirt sleeve. His blue eyes almost glowed, so bright against his olive skin and midnight hair. A thin, well-trimmed mustache and goatee gave him the finishing touch of looking oddly like the devil. He was at least six-four and over two hundred pounds, muscled yet lean. She imagined he'd look like a chiseled slab of granite naked. Their size didn't bother her much, but this guy looked like he could peel the skin from her body if she looked at him wrong. He had a murderous air about him.
Peel the skin from her body?
This was one of the Phoenix warriors from the hijacked bus, the one who kept sniffing the air as he did now. She couldn't remember his name, but positive he was one of the two on the bus.
Get a hold of yourself, she told herself.
There was something about this man that made her nervous yet… curious. "Come in here; please have a seat on the table. Kelly, get me a bag of blood and IV fluids." She called to her assistant in the next room as she lowered the table so she would be eye level with the patient. She patted the table, "Please, have a seat."
He obeyed, his eyes studying her.
Sofia went to touch his neck for his pulse, hybrids and vampires' pulse was the strongest in the neck while the wrist was barely audible. He jerked back from her and growled. Sofia flinched. Don't show fear. Don't show fear, she repeated in her head. "I'm not going to hurt you; I need to get your pulse, okay?" She reached up and pressed two fingers on his erratic pulse. When he didn't growl a second time, she smiled. "See? That wasn't so bad. I'm going to get an IV started and give you fresh blood. Have you fed tonight?"
His electric eyes locked on hers. He didn't answer.
Was he afraid to admit it? Or perhaps he couldn't find the words to answer.
"If you can't speak, then nod. Did you feed today?"
He sniffed around her, struggling to focus on her face, then nodded yes.
Sofia cringed a little when she watched him breathe her in again. She wondered if she smelled nasty. It had been a long day. Maybe she was ripe. A three-year-old threw up on the floor, and some could have splattered on her. With their hypersensitive sense of smell, it wouldn't surprise her is she reeked of vomit or sweat to him.
Kelly came in with two IV poles, two bags of blood and a bag of fluid for dehydration. Two hybrid male guards entered the room as part of their standard procedure to protect the human doctors. Human males weren't effective, so they always used hybrids since vampires were still frowned upon by humans since they drank blood and hybrids didn't.
The man jumped off the table, shoved Sofia behind him and blocked their path. The veins in his neck pulsed with anger.
Was he protecting her?
Not thinking about her safety, Sofia jumped between her patient and the hybrid guards. She reached out, placing a hand on his hard chest, and felt his heart beating rapidly under her palm. "They won't hurt you. They won't even touch you." He advanced, pushing her back toward the guards as he moved. He was about to force the guards from the room with her body between them. Sofia kept her hand on her patient. "Out. Go now. You're agitating him."
"Doc, you know we can't leave you." Seth, the blonde hybrid guard, said.
A low growl came from the man's chest; the rumble vibrated under her hand.
"He won't hurt me, will you?" She held out her hand to him, face up to encourage him to take it. If he did, then she had his trust. Or in his state, she hoped that's what it meant to him. You never knew what an agitated hybrid or vampire would do, especially a vampire.
The man stood there; agitation rippled through his huge body. He sniffed in her direction, stepped closer. His piercing blue eyes held hers as he reached for her hand.
Sofia smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "Good, he trusts me. Now go." She shooed the two guards from the room. "I'll call you if I need anything." She walked backward, so she could keep her eyes on the man, leading him back to the table. "Please sit. We need to get the IV started."
Kelly rolled the tray table towards Sofia as his head snapped in her direction, Kelly stopped dead in her tracks. This time he didn't growl or snarl. Sofia new all alpha males saw other males as a threat, and in his condition, she wasn't sure what he viewed as a danger.
As Sofia prepared the IV needle, she smiled at him again. "My guess is you like and trust women, but not men. That's okay. I guess it's my lucky day." After tying a rubber band around his muscular bicep on his untattooed arm, she wiped an alcohol swab over his hot skin in the bend of his elbow. There was no need to disinfect the skin, but she did it out of habit.
He sniffed at Sofia again, making her tingle, sending chills down her spine.
"Okay, I'm going to stick this needle right here," pointing to his pulsating vein as she inserted the needle. "You'll feel a prick, but it shouldn't-"
In a blink, he slammed the tray table away. The needle lodged in his vein. Kelly gasped while Sofia retreated away from him.
"Kelly, walk out slowly, now. I'll keep him focused on me, get out, now." She watched Kelly from the corner of her eye walk a snail's pace back to the door.
"Aren't you coming with me?" Kelly whispered.
"No. I need to help him. I'll be fine, and he won't hurt me." I hope. Sofia noticed how his eyes searched her from head to toe. He cocked his head as he studied her like he wanted her. The question was, why did he want her?
Sofia retreated in the same direction as Kelly, toward the door, but for an entirely different reason. She saw Kelly slip out from the corner of her eye. The man was stalking her, following her footsteps. Her one step back was his one step forward.
Great, she was his prey.
She had only one chance, so Sofia turned and sprinted for the door, slamming the lock-down button as he tackled her from behind. She and her assailant tumbled to the floor, he growled. Did he think she was leaving him? Was he trying to stop her or was she about to be his next meal? Sofia had no time to ponder. His body protected her as they tumbled to the floor; he spun with her in his arms and landed on his back. His thick arms wrapped around her, rolling, keeping her underneath his body all safe and sound. If you considered being trapped under a two-hundred-pound hybrid or vampire safe and sound.
The air was knocked out of her lungs as she gasped. She was flat on her stomach with the man on top of her. Sofia struggled under his weight; he hissed and raised his hips off her for a moment. She used that opening to gouge her toes into the slick floor to scoot forward. He grabbed her hips, dragging her back to him, flipping her over to her back. His hard body pinned her to the floor as he breathed her into his lungs, but her hands were free. As she looked up into his face inches above her, a feeling of Déjà Vu slammed into her. A wave of familiarity washed through her body, Sofia gasped at the sudden invasion this sensation had over her.
"Oh, shit." She breathed out. "I need you to listen to me, okay?" Her voice was soft and soothing. "I'm not going to hurt you, but you need to listen to me. Everything is okay." Yeah, right.
One arm braced beside her head as he stared into her eyes. He lowered his head to hers, their noses barely touching, and he breathed in her scent. Then he frowned, pulling back to stare at her again. He lowered his face to her and sniffed her more intimately. His nose skimmed over her cheek down to her neck. Once he reached her throat, he licked her rapidly beating pulse. Every muscle in Sofia's body tightened, ready for him to sink his fangs into her neck. One thing she was sure of, was this man had fangs; she remembered seeing them that night.
And there they were; razor-sharp fangs dropped from his gums as he stared at her neck. No doubt he fixated on her vein pulsating from fear. Sofia was on the verge of panic. She had never been in this position before. "Focus on me, focus on my voice. Look at me, please." At her pleading, he obeyed, his body trembling as he fought for control. "Can you tell me your name? Just focus, you can do this. I can see how hard you're trying to keep control. Focus on me, my voice," dare she say, "my smell. You know I will not hurt you. You sense it, I can tell."
She watched as he did his best to obey. She tried to shift as his weight pushed all the air out of her lungs, he grabbed her left hand to hold it in place beside her head.
Well, shit again. Thank god, she was right-handed and could still reach the tranquilizer pen. "Good, that's it. Now, please, tell me your name."
He breathed in, staring into her eyes. He seemed to search for words. "I'm… Gage."
Yes, Gage, now she remembered. And his friend was Andros or something like that. She smiled, slid her right hand out without him noticing, and pressed the tranquilizer into his neck. He didn't seem to feel the prick, but he felt the drug rushing through his system, his eyes told her so. "It's good to meet you, Gage. Thank you for not hurting me, now let's get you fixed up."
After about ten seconds of being stuck with the tranquilizer, Gage collapsed on top of Sofia. All two hundred plus pounds pressed her into the cold hard floor.
"Well, this is fucking great," Sofia groaned under the man's dead weight. Now she was pinned securely under him with the door locked. She'd bet he was a hybrid since he didn't try to bite her, they had more control over their urges and instincts than a vampire had, even the most civilized ones. The realization she made it out without being Gage's dinner struck her as funny, and she chuckled. Then she laughed, "Okay, shit. This is not funny." Sofia tried convincing herself.
She squirmed under his hard, hot body, and he groaned. When she wiggled to free herself, he moaned again. He wasn't out cold, his moans told her. Sofia froze, feeling the bulge in his jeans. "Shit." She gave the guy a hard-on… which meant that he definitely was not completely unconscious. Perfect, he was about to wake up on top of her with an erection. Tonight was getting better and better by the moment. "This can't be happening." One more chuckle. "Okay, let's try this," she mumbled. "Gage, can you hear me?" She knew he could feel her warm breath in his ear when his body shivered as his face turned into her neck. "If you can, I need you to roll off me. Okay? Just roll or scoot, I can't breathe. I need you to move, please, Gage." Her fingers were on his face, hoping that her touch and voice would do the trick.
His muscles strained as he fought to command his body. Sofia shivered when his tongue licked the side of her neck for a second time. Inch by inch, he slipped his solid frame to the left. Sofia had her upper body free, sitting up, she pulled her legs out from under the rest of him. Now he lay face down on the floor. Once up, she sucked in a deep breath, standing on shaky legs, she bent over and placed her hands on her knees. Sofia tried to steady herself and calm her nerves. He came damn close to biting her, and if that had happened, she didn't know if he'd have known when to stop in his condition. Still shaky, Sofia turned towards the door, and a hand grabbed her ankle.
"Stay." Gage rasped out.
Sofia knelt back down and took his hand from her ankle, holding it for reassurance. "I'm not leaving you, I promise." She brushed the hair from his eyes, an affectionate gesture. "I promise." She got up quickly this time to unlock the door before he woke up and tackled her again.
The two guards rushed in, Tasers drawn.
"Don't you fucking dare Taser him!" She snapped. They both froze and stared at her outburst. She was always so calm and collected, and kind, she was always kind. "Pick him up and put him on the table and strap him down. I'll get another tranquilizer pen just in case."
Seth stood in front of Sofia. "The Taser won't hurt him; just stun him until we can get him under control."
"He's under control if you move him right now," she pointed to his unmoving body on the floor. "Besides, in my experience, Tasering pisses them off even more once they wake up."
The guards did as she asked, got him on the table and cuffed wrists, ankles, his chest, and his thighs. As they were tightening the last strap, Gage's eyes flew open, and he snarled at the men. He fought against his bonds. If the table wasn't bolted to the floor, he would have tipped it over.
Sofia rushed over and hovered over his face. With one hand on his chest and one on his face, she spoke to him in her soothing voice. "Gage, I'm here. Easy now. I'm sorry we had to strap you down, but it was the only way to treat you. Please try to relax. Trust me. I'm going to get the IV's in and help you." Her fingers tunneled into his silky black hair. "I promise you'll be safe with me."
Gage turned his head into her touch. His clear blue eyes held hers; he finally nodded, then looked at her name badge. "Sorry, Sofie," he whispered, then he passed out again.
The guard Seth snorted as he looked at Sofia. "You gonna kick his ass for calling you Sofie?"
Sofia got the blood bag attached to the IV and made sure it flowed steadily. She let no one call her Sofie. Sofie meant they had a close relationship with her, and even at that, she still didn't like it. "I'm thinking about it," she mumbled as she checked his pupils.
Seth frowned, stepping closer to Gage, studying his face. "Damn, you know who this is?"
"No." It was a lie, she saw him on the bus. He was a warrior from The Alliance.
"He is one of the Phoenix Five. Their real name is the Phoenix Council. He's the fucking bad-ass they call Lucifer."
Her eyes got big. Lucifer? Really?
Well, shit. Suddenly, Sofia was grateful to be alive.