6/27/13

Queen of the Pack 1:4

Frustrated, Phillip tried to sit up again. He couldn’t let her get away.  It was crazy, but just the thought of her leaving sent a surge of panic through him. His weak, barely-there muscles strained against the straps. Pain lanced into his side making him hiss.
 “Whoa, careful there, mister, take it easy.” Hands pushed his shoulders back down. “We’ll be at the hospital in a few minutes.”
“No, you don’t understand. I have to see that woman, the one who helped me.”
“Relax,” another EMT insisted, his restraining hand joining the first man’s. “You can thank her later, dude. Trust me, you don’t want to try chasing down a woman when you’ve got broken ribs.”
Phillip lay back, panting, trying to calm himself. The man was right, this was ridiculous. If he wanted to thank the woman for her help all he had to do was get her name and address from the police report later. He didn’t have to do it right now.
Except thanking her hadn’t even crossed his mind. Not losing sight of her, that was the main thing. Even now something was prodding him to go after her.
He felt like he was losing his mind.
The ambulance ran with lights only, no sirens, thank God. He let his eyes roam the inside as it barreled down the highway toward Tampa General.
“Try to relax, Mr. Prevatte,” said the EMT taking his blood pressure for the fifth time. The young man leaned back, out of Phillip’s sight. “Better tell Keith to step on it. Guy’s gonna give himself a heart attack if he doesn’t calm down.”
Phillip almost laughed. Calming down was not an option. Not with the EMT’s whispered words sounding clear as a bell in his ears. His hearing was definitely changing, getting better. Not only that, but the words printed on the metal panels and shelves of the ambulance’s interior were beginning to jump out at him like fish from a murky pond.
…Warning…
…Glucose…
…Syringes, Saline, Pressure Bandages…
God, what was happening to him?
Phillip squeezed his eyes shut. He could hear his own heart pounding out a frantic rhythm. BuhBoomBuhBoomBuhBoomBuhBoom—
No wonder the EMT was freaking.
A deep breath and a bit of concentration and the beating became less frenzied, less desperate. Pressure eased behind his eyes. Maybe he had a concussion. Maybe that explained the weirdness with his hearing and eyesight. Everything would probably return to normal in a few hours.
Part of him knew that wasn’t the case. Part of him realized his life was about to change—had already changed—dramatically. And he wasn’t sure yet if that meant things were going to get better…or worse.

6/9/13

Queen of the Pack 1:3

Gritting his teeth, Phillip clambered through the busted windshield and down the outside of the wreck. Smoke burned his eyes and nose, blinding his senses as hands reached for him. Not the hands of woman who’d risked her life to rescue him. He could tell that much by the grip on his arm. He let the person lead him up the embankment. The touch of a fresh breeze against his face was welcome. He coughed out smoke and inhaled cautiously before opening his eyes. His escort was female, but not his female.
His female?
Pressing a hand against his injured side, Phillip struggled not to laugh. He must have hit his head harder than he thought. Never in all his thirty years had a female looked at his pimply face twice much less given him even the remotest impression she was his. Women didn’t date someone like him.
He blinked his watering eyes, watching the emergency vehicles roll up. Police cars, two ambulances, and further back, a fire truck. The shriek of multiple sirens felt like knives stabbing into his head. Wincing, he covered both ears with his hands and looked around. No one else seemed bothered by the cacophony. The woman leading him up the hill gave him a worried look.
“Do you want to sit down?” she asked.
Even with his ears covered he heard her question despite the racket of shouts, sirens, and racing engines from the nearby interstate traffic. He shook his head, confused. He shouldn’t be able to hear her so clearly. For that matter, the sirens shouldn’t be hurting his ears. He’d never been sensitive to noise before.
Thankfully, the blaring wails stopped when the vehicles did. EMTs converged on him and he didn’t have a choice about sitting down. One look at his bleeding forehead and they all but pushed him onto a padded gurney. Two of them started checking his injuries and taking his vitals while the other began asking questions. He answered automatically, his attention scattered among the snippets of conversation going on around him.
“Man, that SUV came out of nowhere…”
“…sports car didn’t have a chance…”
“I need to call my wife…”
“…surprised he’s not dead…”
“It’s a good thing you acted so quickly. That guy owes you his life.”
Phillip’s attention focused. He twisted his head back to look up the hill where a man and woman stood outlined in the glare of headlights.
The woman shook her head. “A lot of people stopped immediately. I’m sure someone else would have jumped in if I hadn’t.”
It was her. He’d know that sultry voice now anywhere.
“Maybe,” the man said, tipping back his distinctive trooper hat.
Phillip swallowed a swear word and narrowed his eyes. He shouldn’t be able to see well enough to tell if the man was wearing a hat, much less identify its shape. Without his glasses he should only be seeing blurry outlines and fuzzy shadows.
“We’ll be in touch if we need any more information,” the officer said.
The woman turned and walked toward a parked car.
The EMTs pushed Phillip’s gurney in the opposite direction.
“Wait.” He tried to sit up, but found he’d been strapped down to the gurney at some point. “Wait!” he said again, louder this time. Neither the EMTs nor the woman paid him any attention. She disappeared into a car while he was shoved into the back of an ambulance.

6/2/13

Queen of the Pack 1:2

Phillip grabbed the seatbelt and tried to slip out from under it. No good. Even with his skinny frame there just wasn’t enough room.
A feminine grunt, and the pitiful Ferrari carcass rocked, metal squealing like a stuck pig. Phillip’s fuzzy gaze shot to the top of the crumpled hood. Were those pale things hands? He squinted, but didn’t have time to wonder more because the hood gave up with a last dying scream and a lithe body squeezed into the cramped space beside him. At least he thought she had a lithe body.  Damn it, where were his glasses?
“Are you okay,” a throaty voice asked. “Do you hurt anywhere? Here, let me see your face, you’re bleeding.”
Her words seemed to pour into his ears like warm wine. He felt giddy all of a sudden, dizzy as a three-day drunk. Must have hit his head somehow despite the damn air bags.
He didn’t resist as she cupped his face in her hands. Warm, soft, gentle hands. She leaned forward, her features an unsatisfying blur.
“M-my glasses,” he stuttered. “I can’t see without my glasses.” And he really wanted to see what she looked like. She would have to have the face of an angel, he decided. An ethereal face to go with that goddess voice.
He felt rather than saw her looking around. Her hands still held his cheeks and when he turned his head to look for his glasses, too, his mouth brushed across her palm. Warm liquid wet his dry lips. He licked automatically. What the hell? He’d tasted his own blood before, and buddy, this wasn’t it. He couldn’t keep his tongue from slipping out for another taste.
Her hands jerked away. “Sorry, sorry,” she apologized quickly. “I cut my hand a little getting in here. I promise I don’t have a disease or anything, my blood’s perfectly safe. I can get a note from my doctor if you want.”
It took a second for her words to make sense. “No, that’s okay.  No harm done.” Phillip brought his hand up as if to wipe the blood away, the motion hiding the quick flick of his tongue as he licked his lips clean instead. She’d think him crazy, but damn, she tasted good. A sudden shiver went through him. The next full moon was a week away. While he didn’t change, his wolf had a tendency to rouse enough to make its cravings known. Why was he suddenly craving the taste of her blood? What was wrong with him?
“Um, sorry, but I don’t see your glasses and we don’t have time to look for them. We need to get you out of here.”
More shouts, and the car shook again. A darker shadow appeared at the now open windshield. “Lady, if you’re coming out, you’d better hurry. The fire’s spreading.” A male voice urged.
“I need a knife, something to cut the seatbelt.”
He could hear the fire now. The rising crackle made him anxious.
“Could you hurry it up,” he told her. “I’m not in the mood for bar-b-que tonight.”
She laughed. “Neither am I. I was planning on sea food myself.”
It wasn’t the fact that she’d laughed at his poor excuse for a joke, but the sound of her laugh itself that surprised him. He felt liked he’d been punched and forgot all about taking shallow breaths. Damn busted ribs.
Smoke started filling the cramped space. Sirens wailed in the distance.
As soon as the seatbelt fell away Phillip waved the woman ahead of him. “I’m okay, I’ll be right behind you.” I hope, he added to himself. Between his bad vision and painful ribs, the climb out wasn’t going to be fun.