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Authors: Laurann Dohner

Numbers

BOOK: Numbers
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Numbers

Laurann Dohner

 

Stories 14 and 15 in the New Species series.
It is
advisable to read the books in order, to get the most enjoyment from the series.

140

Dana is visiting Homeland when she
meets a New Species who tugs at her heartstrings. As a widow, she knows
firsthand the pain he’s suffering after losing his mate.

Mourn isn’t so certain that talking
to a human female will help him heal but he desires her. It’s possible she
could become his new reason for living.

927

Candi lost the male she loved, but
never forgot him. New Species are her only hope to seek revenge for 927’s
death.

A human female claiming to have
been reared at Mercile has demanded entry to Homeland. Hero rushes to Medical
and comes face-to-face with his past. One look at Candi and the life he’s built
since gaining freedom comes crashing down around him.

 

Reader Advisory
: These stories have graphic sexual
language and scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!

 

An
adult science fiction romance
from Ellora’s Cave

 

Numbers
Laurann Dohner

Dedication

 

As always, I’d like to thank my wonderful husband. I
couldn’t do what I do without him. He’s my hero, my best friend and my
inspiration.

I’d like to thank you—the ones who have been so supportive
of all things New Species. I appreciate you waiting so patiently for the next
book. A lot of people asked to see more interaction between Species and what
life at Homeland is like. I listened.

Thank you to Ellora’s Cave for allowing me to combine two
New Species stories into one book. It was something I really wanted to do. My
editor, Pamela Campbell always makes me look good. She endlessly fixes my
errors and teaches me with each edit.

Last but never least, a big thank you to Kele Moon. She’s my
best friend and my critique partner. She’s the one who listens to my crazy book
ideas and keeps me on task when my mind starts to wander. You’re awesome!

 

NUMBERS

 

140
927

 

140
Chapter One

 

“I can’t believe you get to live here,” Dana whispered,
afraid of being overheard in Medical.

Her brother, Paul, grinned. “New Species are really cool.
I’m glad you decided to take me up on the tour and visit us for a few days. I
think my wife is a little homesick.”

“Maybe you should come back for Christmas this year. That
way Becky will get to hang out with all of us and it will be a reminder of why
you guys moved to California.”

Paul chuckled. “Is Mom still driving you nuts?”

Her humor fled. “She set me up with her chiropractor, her
pharmacist and—wait for it—her gynecologist. Talk about awkward.” She rolled
her eyes. “As if I ever want to be married to a guy who stares at girl parts
all day. I’d be afraid to ask him how his day went. I really don’t want to hear
any gross stories over dinner. Can you imagine?” She deepened her voice. “It
was the worst case of crabs ever. There were so many I had to use a net to
catch those suckers.”

Paul doubled over in a fit of laughter. “You’re horrible.”

She forced a smile. “Don’t even get me started about the
wrongness of knowing he’s seen our mother’s knees spread apart while she’s
naked. Can you say
ewwww
?”

He sobered. “That’s not funny. You had to go there?”

“That’s almost exactly what I said to our mother when she
told me who she’d set me up with.”

He carefully studied her. She knew that look.

“I’m fine. Don’t do that. You’re a nurse, not a mind
reader.”

“Are you dating anyone Mom wouldn’t approve of on the sly?”

“Nope.” She turned away, ducking inside one of the open
rooms. “This is much cozier than a hospital. I like the soft wall colors and
the nice bedding. It’s pretty fancy for a small clinic. It has a homey feel.”

“Dana?”

She swung around, and returned to his side. They strolled
down the hallway to reception. “It’s been two years. I should move on with my
life. It’s like riding a bike. Just get back on the dating cycle and take a
spin.” She paused. “Did I miss any advice you were about to give? Maybe you
could stoop low enough to say how Tommy would want me to be happy by finding
someone else? I hate that one the most. It pissed him off when some guy would
check me out.”

“I wasn’t going to say any of that. I just worry about you.
It’s my job.”

“You’re the best big brother ever but I’m really fine. It
has been two years. Time heals everything.” She wished that were true, but it
always seemed to set other people at ease. She really didn’t want Paul to
worry. “I have a vibrator, a body pillow and a heating blanket. I’m good.”

He blanched. “You went there.”

“I’ll make a deal with you. I won’t overshare things like
that if you stop digging into my personal life.”

He held out his hand. “Only if you promise to call me more
often.”

She grasped it and gave it a firm shake. “Done.”

“Do you want to see the surgical rooms? We have two.”

“Pass. Totally not my thing. I quit nursing school for a
reason. Some of the equipment should be featured in horror movies.” She let him
go.

His eyes narrowed and she regretted her words. They both
knew why she’d really changed careers. All the time she’d spent in hospitals
had made her hate them. It reminded her of Tommy’s suffering. She decided to
say something fast.

“Why do you need surgical rooms in a clinic?”

He schooled his features. “In case of emergencies. We’re
fifteen minutes from a trauma unit.”

It was her turn to study him. “I see. This is one of those
topics you’re not allowed to talk about, right? To protect the New Species?”

“It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it?” He grinned.

“Message received. I have one question you do have to answer
though.”

“What?”

“Do you like them? Are they as nice and friendly as they
seem to be on TV?”

“They are different, but in great ways. They have my respect
and yes, I really like them. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

“Good enough. I’ll stop being nosy. We’d better get back to
your wife before she thinks we’ve gotten lost. I’m really looking forward to—”

A blaring car horn cut off her words. She turned, watching a
Jeep come to a stop part way on the street and sidewalk. Two big New Species
jumped out of the front and lifted a third one out of the back. Her brother
grabbed the counter separating him from the front doors and vaulted over the
top of it.

The man they carried inside bled from one leg, his arm and
his forehead. He seemed to be unconscious since his eyes were closed and he
sagged between the two New Species as they rushed inside the clinic. Paul met them
there.

“Down the hall, first room!” her brother yelled. He hit a
button near the front doors and an alarm sounded. Paul ran after the injured
patient and two doors along the back of the large room burst open.

Dana watched a human guy rush after them and seconds later
the doors in the back burst open again. A tall New Species woman sped past her
without giving her a glance. It left Dana alone. She was unsure what to do.

She debated for a few seconds before following them. The
injured man looked bad off and there were only three people to tend him,
besides the two men who’d brought him in. She strode down the hallway and
entered the exam room.

Paul cut the guy’s bloodied pants leg open. The dark-haired
Species woman put in an IV line and the human guy she guessed was a doctor
flashed his tiny penlight in the patient’s eyes after opening each lid.

“What happened?” the doctor asked.

The two New Species who’d brought him stayed against a wall,
keeping out of the way. “He picked another fight and ended up stumbling onto
the balcony. He fell from the second floor but landed on the grass. It was the
tree he hit on the way down that did most of the damage. He hasn’t woken
since,” one of them muttered.

“Fuck,” the New Species woman growled.

“The leg doesn’t appear broken,” Paul muttered. “Just a deep
laceration.”

“He might have struck his head on a branch or two on the way
down,” the other New Species added. “We found him under the tree.”

Paul turned his head and spotted Dana. “Get your ass over
here and apply pressure to this.”

She hesitated. “Where are the gloves?”

“Second drawer to your right,” he snapped. “But they don’t
carry any blood diseases, and they easily fight infection.”

After putting on gloves, she clamped her hand down over the
cut. Paul tore open the patient’s sleeve to examine his arm. Dana glanced up
and found the doctor frowning at her.

“That’s my sister,” Paul informed him. “Dana, meet Doc
Harris and Midnight. The two along the wall are Snow and Book.”

“She can’t be in here,” Doc Harris protested.

“She’s cool, and she did a year of nursing school. She’s
also done a shitload of home health care. She won’t faint over seeing some
blood. The arm doesn’t seem broken but he’s going to need stitches.”

Midnight turned toward the door. “I’ll get the portable
X-ray machine for his head.”

The doctor examined the patient’s skull, probing, probably
checking for fractures or lacerations. “It’s okay, Midnight. This son of a
bitch is too hardheaded. He probably just has another concussion, but we’ll run
a CT scan just to be safe. Let’s deal with the issues we see right now first.”

Midnight yanked a bag of saline from a cupboard. She growled
low, a scary sound. “Who did he fight this time?”

“Darkness. Suicidal bastard,” Snow muttered.

“I won’t ask if Darkness is okay then.” Doc Harris sighed.
“I’m surprised he’s not the one who brought him in.”

“He will be along.”

“Great.” Midnight spun away after hanging the IV bag and
killed the blaring alarm. “That’s just what we don’t need. He’ll be angry.
Please tell him not to bother. You two can go.”

Snow and Book shot curious glances at Dana. She forced a
smile but they didn’t speak directly to her before they quit the room.

Doc Harris changed positions with Paul. “Let me see his
arm.”

“I’ll grab a suture kit.” Paul opened a drawer.

Midnight caught Dana’s gaze. “You’re Paul’s sister?”

“Yes.” She tried not to stare. The New Species woman was the
first one she’d seen up close since she’d arrived. She was pretty, with long
dark hair. “I’m visiting him and Becky this weekend. He wouldn’t come home so I
came to him.”

“Welcome to Homeland.” She stepped closer. “Let me take
over. This is Mourn.” She glanced at the patient, and then back at Dana. “He’s
a troublemaker. He comes in here every few weeks. Don’t be alarmed.”

Dana released the cut on his calf and backed up, doing what
she was told. She tossed away the used gloves and made sure blood hadn’t gotten
on her skin above them. She turned and kept out of the way while they worked on
the patient. Mourn needed six stitches on his forearm but his leg just needed
to be cleaned and bandaged.

“Should I put restraints on him before he wakes? You know
he’s going to just get up and walk out the same way he did last time.” Paul
stared at the doctor.

“Yeah. I hate to do it but Snow had a point. He is
suicidal.”

“Why?” Dana regretted asking as soon as three pairs of eyes
swung her way. “Sorry,” she added. “It’s none of my business.”

“His mate died.” Midnight helped Paul use thick, padded
restraints to secure the patient’s arms and legs to the hospital bed. They even
wrapped a few across his chest and thighs to hold him in place. “You helped
work on him. I’d be curious as well. He picks fights with other males, hoping
one of them will kill him. We won’t end our own lives the way humans do. It’s a
matter of pride.”

Dana stared at the patient, really taking a good look at his
face. He was feline. The shape of his eyes was a dead giveaway. His black hair
was cut short. He had the over-the-top manly features that all the New Species
possessed. Their bone structure was denser than a normal human. He was
handsome, despite the bandage on his forehead. Midnight cleaned off the blood
and backed away from him.

It pulled at Dana’s heartstrings, hearing that he’d lost the
woman he loved. She knew what the term mate implied, thanks to some of the
things Paul had felt free to tell her. Some of the New Species were married,
but they called their wives mates. They didn’t require a ceremony, but instead
could just share a promise of commitment, sign legal documents and make it
official.

“We’ve got this handled, Paul.” Doc Harris glanced her way.
“You should take your sister back to your house.”

Her brother hesitated. “Are you sure? I could hang here for
a few hours. I know the two of you wanted to go out to have lunch instead of
eating in the office. I could have someone escort my sister home.”

“We’ll both stay,” Dana quickly added.

Paul frowned, glanced at Mourn and then her. His eyes
narrowed. “You want to talk to him when he comes around, don’t you?”

There was no use denying the accusation so she just
shrugged.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Doc Harris snapped.
“He’s not fit for strangers. Your sister could chat with other Species if she
is curious about them.”

“He’ll be rude,” Midnight predicted.

Paul dried his hands. “You told her that Mourn lost his
mate, Midnight.” He hesitated, holding Dana’s gaze. She realized he’d stopped
talking because he wasn’t sure if she wanted anything about her life revealed.

She turned to Midnight. “My husband died of cancer two years
ago. We were childhood sweethearts and it was devastating.” She swallowed the
lump that formed in her throat. “You said Mourn is suicidal. I can relate to
that.”

“Dana…”

“I used to feel that way,” she corrected, daring to look at
her brother. She hated seeing his pained expression. “It helps to talk with
others who have shared the same loss. I might be able to help him.”

“No.” Doc Harris came around the bed. “I don’t think that’s
a good idea.”

“I agree,” Paul stated.

Midnight seemed to stare right into Dana’s soul for long
seconds. “Have you taken a new male into your life?”

“No.”

“You can stay.”

“What?” Doc Harris grabbed Midnight’s arm. “I think it’s a
bad idea. You know how Mourn gets. She’s an outsider. What happens if she tells
someone about him? She has already heard too much. Can you imagine what the
press would do with this story?”

“I won’t repeat anything,” Dana promised. “I attended group
grief counseling after Tommy’s death. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous. What is
said in that room stays in that room. I’ve never told anyone where Paul really
works either. Most of our family, and all of our friends, believe he’s overseas
with some nonprofit charity group that provides free medical assistance to the
poor. It would put our family in danger if anyone who hates the NSO targets us
to get back at Paul for working here. You can trust me.”

Doc Harris didn’t appear happy. “Mourn is unpleasant on his
best days. He’s dangerous.”

“I’m willing to risk it.” Dana didn’t even have to think
about it.

“Damn. I hate when you get that determined look, sis. You’re
not going to let this drop, are you?”

Dana shook her head. “You said he’s done this before. What
could it hurt to at least talk to him?”

Paul looked grimly at Doc Harris. “She is stubborn as shit.
We’d have to drag her out of here now. Mourn won’t attack my sister.” Paul
didn’t sound so sure though. “He’s restrained, and I’ll be here.”

“Let the female talk to Mourn.” Midnight took the doctor’s
hand. “We haven’t been able to do him much good. She’s female and wants to
spend time with him. They both share the loss of their mates. What harm could
it do? I agree with Paul. He wouldn’t pick a fight with her.”

“I think we should run this by the NSO first.” Doc Harris
attempted to reach the phone on the bedside table but Midnight yanked him back.

BOOK: Numbers
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