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Authors: Lara Nance

Dealers of Light

BOOK: Dealers of Light
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                                                                                                                        1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEALERS OF LIGHT

 

By

 

Lara Nance

Dealers of Light

Lara Nance

 

ISBN-13: 978-1481843652

 

ISBN-10: 1481843656

 

 

©
Copyright - Lara Nance 2011

 

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Cover Art:

Lara Nance

 

Editor
s:

Elizabeth Walker & Lynn Rush

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To the Givers.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

“Vampires,
Nicki? Come on, this isn’t funny.” Cara Collins swept her gaze over the shivering girl perched on the edge of the exam table. A cut on her bruised cheek oozed blood, and raw scrapes ran down one arm. A whiff of stale beer wafted from the clothes Nicki had discarded in a heap on the floor. Dear Lord, had she slept in a bar instead of her apartment? “Let’s talk about what happened to you, not vampires.”


I just wanted to know if you believe in them.” Nicki clutched the thin exam gown at her neck with shaking hands and her wide, sunk-in eyes followed Cara’s movements.


Stop joking and tell me what the hell happened to you.” Cara frowned and placed her stethoscope on the girl’s chest. A throbbing pulse tapped out a fast staccato rhythm. It was too early in the morning to deal with the evasions her patients offered to avoid snitching. She’d only had a sip of coffee before Nicki stumbled into the clinic, looking like a scrawny, wrung out street cat, as the doors opened at eight.

“I’m
not
joking. Oh, God.” Nicki gulped, and her shivering morphed into jerky sobs. Cara put an arm around the girl’s thin shoulders to steady her on the narrow table. Lord, Nicki was really frightened about something.

Nicki’s
weeping increased. Cara grabbed a blanket from under the exam table and draped it about her. As she tugged it close against Nicki’s chest, she slipped her hand to the area just beneath the girl’s right collar bone. She concentrated on the glow of Light floating in the core of her being and drew out strands of power. Focusing on her fingers, her thoughts guided the Light to flow into the shivering girl. Nicki’s skin warmed a fraction, and the shaking eased immediately. The girl sighed and her shoulders slumped.

Cara withdrew her hand,
and the strands of power retreated into a heated, glowing center. The tingle of energy passing through her body subsided, and the Light settled into a dormant tickle of warmth. The small amount of Light lost didn’t faze her. She rubbed Nicki’s shoulders and murmured soothing words until Nicki sat straighter and rubbed her head. 

Satisfied she’d stabilized the distressed girl
, Cara sprayed wound cleanser on the cuts and scrapes, then patted them with gauze. Next, she applied antibiotic ointment and covered the worst areas with bandages and tape. 

“So?”
Nicki twisted at the waist to face her, brow wrinkled.

Vampires, did she say? Good grief, what a bizarre question, but then she never knew what went on in the girl’s head
. Nicki had tossed out crazy questions before. Cara held Nicki’s chin and flashed the scope to check her eyes. Good, pupils equal and reactive to light.

Cara
opened the back of the exam gown and ran her fingers down Nicki’s bony spine. Poor girl probably hadn’t eaten a good meal in a year. On her lower back, a dark tattoo of a dagger with a snake twisted around the hilt contrasted with her pale skin. The tattoo hadn’t been there six months ago when she gave Nicki her regular check up. But at least she found no other injuries than the ones on Nicki’s face and arms.

Cara
smoothed back the shaggy black hair falling across Nicki’s forehead and obscuring one eye. Her skin felt cool and clammy. An eyebrow piercing glittered in the harsh overhead lighting—a new addition to the already impressive collection adorning Nicki’s nose, tongue and lip.

“Vampires?
No, I don’t believe in them. So, tell me what happened to you. We might need to call the police.” She hoped Nicki hadn’t been raped.

Nicki
bolted upright, eyes wide. “No police.” She scooted to the edge of the table, poised like a frightened bird ready to take flight.

Cara held one hand
high in surrender. “Calm down. I can’t call them unless you agree. I’m trying to help. To keep you from being hurt again.”

The poor girl
sagged back and hung her head, twisting her hands in her lap. “I just want to know if you believe something can suck the life out of you.”

Cara planted her hands on her hips. “You mean suck the
blood
out of you? As in Dracula?” Nicki must be protecting someone with this crazy story—a violent boyfriend or drug dealer maybe.

The girl
didn’t answer for a moment, then leaned forward, eyes intent. “Not Dracula. Be real, he’s just in the movies. But something
like
that.”

A chill ran up both Cara’s arms at the depth of fear in
Nicki’s eyes. “What are you talking about? If there’s something bad going on in the neighborhood you need to tell me. Maybe I can help.” A gang hazing gone wrong might be one explanation. No telling what violent rituals the girl had witnessed. Only twenty-one and her short life had been rough.

Nicki
leaned back, a fresh flash of fear lit her eyes. “Maybe. Maybe I seen something.”

Several sharp raps
on the door made Cara jump. She opened it a crack, and one of the clinic nurses, Regina, stood there frowning.
Damn it!
Just when I was getting somewhere with Nicki
.

“It’s Miss
Emmie, and her condition is bad, but she won’t let anyone touch her. She keeps asking for you,” Regina said.

Oh, no, not
Emmie
. Cara didn’t want to leave Nicki, but at least the girl was calm, her brown eyes veiled and cautious now—more like the tough street persona she usually portrayed. “Nicki, go ahead and get dressed, but wait here. I want to talk some more, but I have an emergency. Okay?”

“Sure.
” Nicki crossed her arms, and her gaze slid away from Cara’s.

Cara gave an encouraging smi
le then closed the door behind her. Her heart pounding, she followed Regina along the hall to the left, two doors down where they had taken Emmie.

Regina held up the chart.
“Pulse is rapid at one-ten, but her BP is low, eighty-six over fifty. Respirations 28 and oh-two sats at 86%, but she won’t let us give her oxygen.”

“Good lord. She won’t go to the ER?”
Those vitals indicated issues with both her heart and lungs. They couldn’t handle such acute situations in the clinic.

“No, kept demanding to see you.”

Cara burst through the door, and a chill pierced her bones. Two other nurses knelt beside the chair where the old woman sat. Emmie’s normally rich mahogany skin had taken on an ashen hue.

Cara glanced back at Regina.
“Any sign of trauma?”

“None we can
see. But, as I said, after getting vitals she wouldn’t let us touch her.” Regina handed Cara the chart.

The old woman’s gaze met Cara’s and Emmie took a deep, ragged breath, slumping in the chair. Her light blue eyes, which used to twinkle in humor, had now dulled to silver. One hand clutched her battered black patent purse to her chest.

“Shall we put her on the exam table?” Regina
rested her hand on the paper covered bed.

“No!”
Emmie’s eyes flashed, and she jabbed one finger at them. “You leave me be.”

“Leave her
where she is if she’s comfortable.” Cara sank to her knees beside the chair, taking one of the woman’s hands. She inspected her patient up and down, detecting no obvious injuries. She removed the slack blood pressure cuff from Emmie’s arm and tossed it on the counter. “Miss Emmie, what happened?”

Emmie
’s face scrunched up, and she reached a shaking hand toward Cara’s face. “Tell them to leave,” she whispered, her gaze shifting to the nurses.

Cara
bit her lip, weighing Emmie’s request against the need for the nurses’ help. But, in the end, it was Emmie’s decision, so Cara gave a dismissive wave. The nurses filed out, reluctance and concern etched on their faces. She turned back to Emmie. The wrinkles on the old woman’s face smoothed, and her breathing slowed. Cara unwound the stethoscope from her neck, but Emmie laid a hand on her arm.

“No need for
you to examine me.” Giving her a weak smile, Emmie tightened her grip on Cara’s arm. “I decided it was my time this morning. I woulda been here sooner but I was way ‘cross town at St. Columba’s shelter last night.”

Cara
slipped the stethoscope into her pocket with a trembling hand. She fisted her hand around the cool metal, her heart aching at the sight of her old friend on the brink of death. “Do you need anything? Water? Something for pain?”

Emmie
shook her head, still smiling. “No, child. I’m not in any pain. I’m at peace knowin’ I got here in time to see your pretty smile and those deep hazel eyes I love. I always knew I was seeing your soul through them. You got a good soul.”

Cara glanced
back at the door to make sure it had closed completely then turned to Emmie, grabbing her shoulders. “I can help, Emmie. Please, let me give you some Light.” She moved one hand toward the old woman’s chest. Emmie swatted it away with surprising vigor. Tears stung Cara’s eyes. Emmie could be so stubborn. How exasperating when she knew the Light might keep the old woman from dying. She clenched her hands, nails biting into her palms.

“No!
I didn’t come for healin’.” Emmie’s eyes narrowed, and she took a deep breath, then let it out. Her shoulders slumped and her grip on her purse loosened so it fell into her lap. “Fact is, I got something to give
you
.”

“But
maybe I can save you.” She clasped Emmie’s hand and squeezed it. If ever she wanted to use her unusual gift it was now. The thought of losing her dear friend shattered her heart with grief.

Emmie
frowned and shook her head.


At least let me ease your passing. I can’t bear the thought of you suffering.”

Emmie
fixed her with a stern stare, blue flickering through the film of gray covering her eyes. “Now just you listen. I got little time left and what I got to say is important. You hear?”

Cara
drew back and blinked.

“Good girl.”
Emmie’s lids eased shut, and she patted Cara’s hand. After three long breaths, Emmie’s eyes snapped open. Instead of gray and clouded, piercing blue eyes pinned Cara with their stare. Icy fingers gripped Cara’s hand like a vise.

“Now listen.
Something’s coming. Somethin’ powerful. I got a premonition. It’s an evil growing out there, like you ain’t never seen the like of,” she whispered, and Cara leaned closer from her kneeling position. Emmie’s breath fanned her face.

BOOK: Dealers of Light
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