Authors: Shana Vanterpool
Tags: #long-distance relationship, #social issues, #friendship, #soldier, #military, #new adult
CRYSTAL GULF BOOK 2
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.
Copyright © 2016 by Shana Vanterpool
DAMAGE ME by Shana Vanterpool
All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Swoon Romance. Swoon Romance and its related logo are registered trademarks of Georgia McBride Media Group, LLC.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
EPub ISBN: 978-1-945107-58-0
Published by Swoon Romance, Raleigh, NC 27609
Cover design by Hunter Blue
For those who’ve survived the bite of a monster and came out stronger.
To the men who have given their lives and hearts for this country.
Some angels have scars too.
“I was an angel before my fall and I could still fly with my scarred wings.
I would soar again.”
- Hillary Hayes
Out of all of my nurses, this one was the hottest.
Her scrubs were the color of lavender, a soft purple that offset her olive skin. The black strands of her short hairstyle framed her face. Her top stretched over the fullness of her tits, and her ass was tight, the fabric of her pants taut as she bent over to pick up the pen she’d dropped. She tucked the pen in the front pocket of her shirt and then turned the sink on, pumping soap into her palm.
My eyes followed her around the room.
I wondered if it was making her uncomfortable, especially when she jammed her knee into the counter or when she dropped her used, damp paper towel onto the floor instead of landing it in the trashcan.
Finally, she turned around and gave me a tight smile. “Good morning, Dylan.”
I nodded once, eyes pinned on her as she came closer. It was morning. I wasn’t sure it was a
She turned to examine the whiteboard on the wall, reading the last nurses notes. I’d given up hope on trying to understand their abbreviated words and instead studied their handwriting. The graveyard nurse wrote in large bubble letters, and the nightshift nurse wrote in small illegible letters with the pink marker. My current nurse picked up the black marker and wrote beneath it, indicating she was on shift this morning and then scribbled beneath her name,
I would be a complete cliché if I hooked up with her, but then again I was nothing but a cliché now. A fallen bitter man.
“Did you have a good night?” she asked, moving over to a drawer to grab some items.
“Hmm,” I grunted, crossing my arms over my chest.
Again, the word
should have been clarified. Night had come, the way it always did. I laid here because I had no choice. The television kept me company because there was no one to talk to. I’d stared, resigned to this same spot for the past six months. There was nothing
about anything right now. I wasn’t sure there ever had been in my life, but her banal questions had started to get on my last damn nerve.
have a good night?”
“I did, thank you,” she said, wisely ignoring my bitterness. She pulled the tray over and then slapped on a pair of gloves. “Pull your blanket down, please. Can you sit up as well? I need to check on your wounds.”
I dreaded this part. Taking a deep breath, I used the strength of my arms to lift my body into a sitting position. It had been months since I’d lifted a single weight. The muscles in my body still looked like they were there, but it didn’t feel like they were. I ground my teeth together and pushed once more, sagging in a half-slumped position. “That’s all you’re getting,” I huffed, feeling like a pathetic piece of uselessness. My tone was harsh, but I wasn’t mad at her.
I was mad at … everything.
“That’s good enough.” She toggled with the remote that controlled my bed. She lifted the back to alleviate the pressure on me, and I sagged gratefully against it. “Blanket too.” She ripped open a pack of gauze as I pushed my blankets down past my knees, revealing my thighs. Without flinching or shrinking away like I did the first time I saw my leg, she simply took the antiseptic-soaked gauze and drug the moistened material over my wounds. “You’ve been scratching.” A cluck under her tongue sounded as she reached for the antiseptic, pouring even more onto the gauze. “What’s going to happen when you’re at home? There won’t be anyone there to make sure your wounds are cleaned. Do you want to lose your leg?”
My right thigh looked like a battlefield. There were long lines of scar tissue crosshatched with stitching. There was a particularly gnarled circle of scar where the bullet had entered my leg and shattered my femur. I’d been shown the x-rays and knew the same scar existed on the underside of my leg where the bullet exited. The other scars were from surgery, where the surgeon repaired my femur and attached a titanium rod to keep it in place. I’d been fixed and repaired. But I didn’t feel healed.
I hissed in pain when the antiseptic burned in my wounds. Leaning my head back, I stared up at the ceiling, willing the pain from my mind. “It itches. You have no idea how badly it itches. All day, all night. I can’t help it. So yeah, I scratched it.”
“Look at this.” She pointed to my gunshot. The edges were inflamed and as I stared I wanted to scratch it all over again. “It’s probably infected. Good thing you have another week here to clear it up. I’ll put in a note for some antibiotics. Until then no scratching.” She wiggled her finger at me. I wanted to bite it off but kept my teeth gritted. “I’ll need to roll you over now.”
This was another part I dreaded. It required more than arm strength, which unfortunately was the only strength I possessed these days. I leaned on my side and pushed over onto my left leg, grabbing the rail on the bed to keep me steady. The pain on my right side flared, and I groaned, squeezing my eyes shut against the onslaught. When I found a way to think around the ache, I could feel her gloved fingers prodding the wound on the underside of my thigh.
This was the closest a woman had been to my dick in months. It wasn’t how I planned it. She probably thought I was a pitiful fallen solider who stared at her from his hospital bed. If she wanted me, I couldn’t even fuck her. I couldn’t move or even stand; I couldn’t do anything at all to her. She wouldn’t even be able to ride me because her weight would kill my right leg. It hit me then, truly hit me, that I was completely out of the game. I kept waiting to get released. When I did, I’d fooled myself into thinking I’d be the same man I was before I got shot. I needed to escape everything with a cold beer and a willing woman, to feel the bubbles slide down my throat and her legs spread for me, but that plan looked like it was over before it’d even gotten started.
Nurse Carrie helped ease me onto my back. Sweat dripped down my forehead, and I could smell the overwhelming scent of body odor emanating from my skin. Showering was the hardest part of all. I needed help to do it and needing help disgusted me. I didn’t want help. I’d gotten this far without it, and falling wasn’t going to make me want it. So I smelled like sweat and ass, and Nurse Carrie would just have to deal with it. She didn’t look like she minded as she changed her gloves and then pulled out a tube from the front pocket of her scrubs.
She squeezed a dab onto her fingers and then rubbed the white goo into my wounds.
I moaned unexpectedly as she smeared the balm over me. “What is that?”
With a smile on her face, she continued, smattering my right leg with it. “We’re not supposed to bring outside medicine in, but I didn’t think this would hurt.” The ointment numbed my wounds and soothed the desire to scratch my flesh off. “But you’re going to have to refrain from scratching. I know it itches but think about it this way. You go to the bathroom and forget to wash your hands. You scratch your wound and bam; you have an infection. You’re not in the proper mind frame right now to do what’s best for you. You could end up needing to amputate. You survived, and you have a daughter to take care of. If you don’t care about yourself for you, then could you please do it for her?”
There were too many things wrong with what she said. And though she’d given me a gift, I snapped. “First of all, what the fuck does that mean? What kind of mind frame am I in if not the right one? And don’t bring my daughter into this. She’s got nothing to do with any of this shit.” I waved an angry hand around my hospital room. But I meant me. It was just me.
She sighed and capped the ointment. “Anyone in your position would be depressed, Dylan. It’s understandable given what happened to you overseas. But you’re worrying us. When’s the last time you ate?” She glanced over at the untouched food trays. “You don’t talk unless we force you. You’ve been here for months and haven’t smiled. You won’t even let anyone visit you. All I’m asking for,” she continued quickly when I glared, “is to try. You’re going home in a week. This path you’re on is barely starting. You have a long way to go, and it would help if you didn’t have such a negative outlook.”
“Depressed?” I picked out, seething. “You think I’m depressed? Why would you think that? Is it because the love of my life is with my best friend now? Or the fact that I went to Afghanistan and got picked off by a sniper?
,” I screamed, making her flinch. “Could it be the fact that my femur was shattered, and even when the scars and wounds heal I still won’t be able to ever use my leg like I did before? Maybe it’s because the mother of my child won’t bring my kid around because she doesn’t want her to see me like this? Is that what you were referring to?” By the time I finished, I was screaming.
Depression was a drop of rain in my ocean right now. I was not depressed. I was barely alive. I didn’t need this woman who didn’t know me whatsoever to walk in here and tell me how I felt about something she didn’t even understand.