Authors: Christine D'Abo
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
The Bond That Heals Us
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The Bond That Heals Us Copyright © 2008Edited by Briana St. James.
Photography and cover art by Les Byerley.
Electronic book Publication May 2008
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/) This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
Sara Fergus raced through the door to the meeting room and practically threw herself into the only empty seat at the conference table. The chair shifted, making a scraping noise as it absorbed her moving body.
“Sorry I’m late. One of the engineers had a severe laceration on his leg after a conduit exploded and sent metal flying. I had to rush him into surgery. Bloody mess everywhere.” She muttered the last under her breath.
She blew a strand of hair away from her face before she finally looked up at the people who were now all staring at her. Her best friend and chief of security, Haylie, was sitting at the end of the table next to her husband Kamran, grinning like a fool. He stared at her, trying to maintain an air of diplomatic professionalism, but Sara couldn’t miss the twinkle in his eyes or the slight smirk on his face. Sara didn’t need to look around at the rest of the participants to know what their expressions would be.
Dumb, stupid space cadet!
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause a disturbance,” she said and felt a blush heat her face.
“Not at all. We all appreciate how busy you are,” Kamran said, unable to contain his smile anymore. “You are just in time to hear about our supply situation.”
Thank god her two friends were here to smooth things over. Sara had been an unorganized mess most of her life. Haylie had been around for most of it and knew how to keep her in line. Now that her friend had formed a mental bond with her husband, Sara suddenly found herself with another powerful friend—and someone who could help keep her out of trouble. Not that she
to get into trouble, but it always seemed to follow her.
Kamran looked down at Haylie and Sara watched as his smile changed. She knew they were probably sharing some silent thought, a comment or private joke communicated through their bond. Despite the close friendship the three of them shared, she couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable around them sometimes. She didn’t like that she’d lost some of the intimacy she’d shared with her best friend for years.
Hated that she couldn’t claim to know Haylie’s mind as well as her husband did.
Petty jealously, she supposed.
Sara gave her head a shake and tried to focus her attention on the portly man in the brown suit who was now talking. A data pad was pushed in front of her and automatically began to flick from report to report, detailing the state of the colony as the man talked. She had to fight back a sudden wave of exhaustion and stifle a yawn when he began droning on about regulations. She really didn’t have time for this crap.
“Administrator Kamran, after taking a closer look at our supply reserves and comparing that against how much profit we can earn from sales of silicate ore from our mines, we will be running dangerously close to the wire for the next six months.” The man leaned his fleshy arms across the table and pressed his belly firmly against the edge. “We will need to increase production if we are to maintain the colony.”
“Why is this just coming to light now?” Kamran asked, his hands folded together in front of him. “We should have had warning long before now.”
“Sir, we don’t have the luxury of trying to figure out how this happened. We need to get matters resolved quickly before this colony is at risk. We need triple shifts.”
Was this guy for real?
“I don’t recommend that at all,” Sara cut in. She made sure all eyes were on her before continuing. “I’ve already had five miners report to the med bay in the past week from exhaustion-related injuries. They barely seem to know where they are or what they are doing. I’ve had to take three of them off active duty and send them on mandatory rest leave. They’re being pushed to their limits already.”
The man in brown snorted. “They’re simply taking advantage of your bleeding heart, Doctor. I very much doubt things are as dire as you are leading us to believe. And the triple shifts will let us—”
Somewhere in her head she registered the sudden sharp intake of breath as Haylie’s, but she was far too pissed off to acknowledge it. Sara was on her feet, leaning across the Briel who sat beside her, so she could glare at the odious man.
“What is your name?” she ground out.
“I don’t see what that—”
“Grant,” he squeaked.
, you may take issue with many things about me, but don’t you ever,
call into question the validity of any of my diagnoses. The health and wellbeing of my patients are the most important thing to me and under no circumstance will I have my ethics as a doctor disputed by a small-minded
. Do I make myself clear,
By the end of her speech, Sara’s voice was dangerously close to a yell and her body was shaking. For his part, sitting wide mouthed and sputtering, Grant could only nod.
Sara flopped back into her chair, folded her hands across her lap and shot her gaze to a blank spot on the wall. Her heart was pounding and it took all her concentration to relax.
“Thank you for your recommendations,
your recommendations, on the situation at the mines.” Kamran’s calm, steady voice filled the uncomfortable silence in the room. “If the situation is as dire as we are led to believe, I’ll appoint a representative from the colony to start a recruiting campaign to entice some additional personnel to 5
relocate to Eurus. That should help both the production and the physical conditions of the miners.”
“Thank you,” she said, casting a glance at Grant.
“We need to look into getting a better forecasting system in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening again,” Haylie said, sitting back in her chair, her arms across her stomach.
“Of course,” Grant nodded, looking strangely pleased.
Kamran nodded. “Good. I’d also like to arrange a tour of the mines. I’ve put off checking the conditions—”
“I don’t recommend that currently, Administrator,” Grant cut in. “Conditions aren’t ideal at the moment. We had one of the secondary caves collapse and need to get it cleaned up.”
“Can’t have a mess in the mines,” Sara muttered, a bit louder than she’d intended.
Sara felt her face heat for the second time since her arrival at the meeting. She quickly flicked her gaze to Kamran, who only winked at her. Haylie rolled her eyes but winced suddenly afterward. Her husband’s hand immediately went to hers and gave it a squeeze.
“Were there any other items on the agenda?” Kamran’s voice, while still even, had taken on a concerned note.
The murmur in the room faded out when Kamran gave his head a sharp nod.
“Excellent. We’ll meet again next week. Thank you for coming.”
Grant practically bowled Sara over trying to escape the room, but she really didn’t give a shit about his little snit right now. Haylie was sick. Sara strode across the room as fast as her short legs would carry her until she was at her friend’s side.
“What the hell’s the matter with you and why haven’t you called me sooner?”
“Sara, there’s nothing—”
“She’s been sick for over a week now,” Kamran said, his hand wrapped around her shoulder. “She’s barely eating and what she does eat, she can’t keep down. And she’s moody, worse than normal.”
Haylie hit her husband hard across the chest. He completely ignored her.
“Any weight loss or weight gain?” she asked Kamran, blocking out Haylie’s annoyed protests.
“Yes, some weight loss. And she’s been sleeping more than normal.”
Haylie sighed. “I miss one little meeting—”
“She missed a meeting?” Sara couldn’t hide her surprise. That was something she would have done, but never Haylie.
“That was yesterday. I had a hard time getting her out of bed again today.”
Kamran ran his hand through Haylie’s long brown hair and frowned. Sara knew they were communicating through their mental bond when Haylie sighed and nodded.
“Go ahead. But I swear nothing’s wrong with me. It’s probably just the flu.”
Sara immediately set to work checking her over. The last time Haylie had exhibited strange symptoms, Sara had ignored them. It turned out to be the effects of an alien pheromone manipulation, something that had created a temporary mating bond between Haylie and Kamran. Sara had been thrilled when the Briel council had found a way to make their bond permanent a little over a year ago. She’d never seen her friend this happy.
This time she wasn’t about to ignore any strange goings on when it came to Haylie.
The quick check of her vitals revealed lower than normal blood pressure and heart rate.
It wasn’t until she pulled out her portable bio scanner that Sara clued in to the problem.
The excitement that zipped through her brought an instant grin to her face.
“What?” Haylie and Kamran asked at the same time.
“You, my dearest and oldest friend, are going to be perfectly fine.”
“See,” Haylie said and whacked Kamran across the chest again. “It’s just the flu.”
“Then what’s wrong with her, Sara? She’s not acting herself. And please don’t tell me it’s the flu.”
Not wanting to worry either of them, Sara stood up, taking Haylie’s hand with her.
She reached for Kamran’s and laced the two of them together. “I have to say that this is my favorite part of being a doctor. I have the utmost pleasure to be able to tell you that you should expect an addition to your family in about twelve months.”
Kamran was on his feet, eyes wide. “A baby?”
“Twelve months!” Haylie was on her feet just as fast. “What happened to nine?”
Sara couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, the normal gestation period for a Briel baby is fifteen months. I figure it’s somewhere in the middle and took a guess. I’ll be able to give you a more accurate reading once I can get you back to the med bay.”
“A baby,” Kamran repeated with a grin fixed firmly on his face. He suddenly picked up Haylie in his arms and gave her a hug. Haylie giggled and, after a brief protest, relaxed against him.
“I’ll leave you two alone. But I want you to check in later on today so we can start some blood work to make sure everything’s in order. And until I do so, consider yourself off duty, Chief.”
She couldn’t be sure either of them heard her at that moment. They were so lost in each other that Sara took the opportunity to slip away.
Light from outside streamed in through the windows that lined the outside wall of the colony’s main building. Since the Ecada attack last year, they’d expanded the colony to include a second building. Sara slowed as she approached one of the windows so she could stare at the half-finished structure. Men and women in EV suits were outside welding metal frames that would soon be fitted with reinforced plastic panels. Another 7
six months, maybe a year and they’d be finished. The Eurus colony would see another explosion of colonists arrive to seek out adventure on the frontier. That, combined with the gradual influx of explorers from neighboring star systems, pirates and wanderers, and the colony would be at its capacity sooner than anyone anticipated.
Sara ran her fingers along her neck, trying to rub out the stiff muscles. With any luck, there would be a few more doctors with the new group and she’d get a rest.
Shaking off her exhaustion, Sara made her way back toward her office, knowing there was a pile of work waiting for her. As she walked, she smiled at the people she passed, trying to mentally review each of their names and, for the most part,
remembering them. She had no problem recalling the symptoms of most human diseases and more than a few alien ones as well, but give her someone’s name and she was lost. Not for the first time, she envied Haylie’s photographic memory.
The doors hissed closed behind her as she walked into the unusually quiet med bay. Several of the Briel doctors had taken the day off to prepare for some sort of ceremony, which for the life of her, Sara couldn’t remember. It was important—that much she knew. What it meant was she needed to pull a double shift until Jaylin returned.
She’d been more than a little suspicious of the new Briel doctor when he’d arrived shortly after Ray’s death. The elder council vouched for him and his abilities until she was satisfied he wouldn’t launch an attack against them. But it didn’t stop her from having Haylie and Taber run a background check anyway. She wasn’t taking any more chances when it came to who she worked with.
“Hey, Doc. I thought you had a meeting?” Rachael asked, throwing a nutrition bar at her.
Sara smiled at her head nurse as she ripped into the packaging and pulled off a piece of the moist bar.
“I did. Showed up late, got out early. Anything exciting going on here?”
“Nope. Quiet enough that you can steal a nap in the isolation room,” Rachael said and winked.
The temptation was certainly there. Instead, Sara sighed and made her way toward her office. “No, I have a pile of reports I need to get through. Earth Medical sent me another nasty communication yesterday, and if I don’t get these done, they’ve vowed to replace me.”