Throwback Thursday 2/9/2023
My throwback Thursday this week is from Quarry,
book 2 of The Vampire Guard.
Four members of The Vampire Guard—Forge, Blair, Declan, and Lucas—face a dangerous and elusive enemy.
And this time, it’s personal.
When massive tech outages impact everything from Wi-Fi to traffic control, Blair, Forge, Declan, and Lucas think it’s a simple matter of catching troublesome hackers.
But they quickly realize far more is at stake. Millions of dollars in art are the target of a thief who’s not afraid to kill---and he’s no stranger. Not only has he escaped capture, twice, a decade ago, but he’s had a hand in life-altering tragedies throughout their lifetimes.
Once it becomes clear that art theft is just a fraction of his plan for mass destruction, they realize time is running out. The clock’s ticking. Catastrophe is imminent. Can they find and disarm all the bombs in time or will countless lives be lost?
Kai was a few steps behind them and Lucas and Ori just behind him, each on one side of a gurney transporting Blair into the house. The medical specialist, a human woman, carried a large plastic wrapped package. Her name was Tiffany, Declan didn’t remember her last name, though he was sure she’d mentioned it. She wasn’t the chatty type, and he really didn’t care enough to ask.
“We’ll need to get this on him,” Tiffany instructed. She handed the package off to Declan and turned to Jonas, crouching in front of him. “Are you his soulmate?” She asked in a soft, gentle voice, resting one hand on his knee.
Jonas nodded. “Yes.”
“How well connected are you?”
“Extremely well,” Jonas said at once. His voice sounded stronger. “He can’t swim.”
Tiffany smiled. “He won’t have to, but that tank holds about three feet of water so he will be almost submerged for the first part. Will you be able to keep him calm?”
“I think so.”
Patting Jonas’s knee, Tiffany stood up and glanced around at them. “This treatment works best when both of a bonded pair are vampires, so we caught a break on that.” She checked some settings on the tank. “It’s possible to use it with vampires bonded to werewolves or humans, but it’s more difficult. The stronger their empathic connection, the easier the management of treatment.” She held out one hand to Declan. “May I have that?”
Declan silently handed the package over and watched as she unpacked large sheets of what looked like bubble wrap but had two tubes attached.
“Get his clothes off and he’ll need to be wrapped in these sheets. We’ll lower the temperature very quickly just so he stays unconscious,” Tiffany explained.
“I’ve been dunked in very cold water, pulled under in a deep lake and wasn’t sure I was going to get my brain to work correctly when I thawed out,” Declan cut in.
“We’re not going to deprive his brain of oxygen. That’s the difference. Hibernate his body, it’ll act as excellent pain control and help him sleep, but we’ll be giving oxygen the entire time.” She looked around at them. “I’ve trained my entire career with The Guard to treat critically injured vampires and werewolves because seventy years ago, before I was born and met him, my soulmate needed the same sort of treatment.” She stopped and looked away for a few seconds. “He had to go through it alone. It’s a blessing and a responsibility I take very seriously.” She stood up. “Now, Agent?” She rested her gaze on Jonas.
“Agent Forge keep your soulmate calm and reassure him while we get him prepped. This is going to hurt.” She turned to Lucas. “Do we need to deal with any other broken bones?”
“No.” Lucas shook his head. “I set his broken leg before we moved him and put a brace on his knee. I think making any further adjustments to it won’t be necessary.” He smiled softly. “I’ve done that once or twice before.”
His ribs and pelvis would heal well enough because Blair’s body had been kept in alignment as they traveled.
Once Blair was wrapped in the odd sheets, they carefully lifted him and set him on a hammock suspended inside the tank. Jonas couldn’t help move Blair, but he held his hand and stroked his hair. As soon as Blair hit the water he started to struggle and whimper.
Declan felt sick and Lucas looked like he wanted to cry. Jonas leaned down and pressed his forehead to Blair’s.
“Sshhh. It’s okay. I’m here. I won’t…” Jonas’s voice faltered. “I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.”
Declan could well imagine the guilt Jonas likely felt since Blair shouldn’t have been chasing their perp but tracking from inside the van. Declan felt that guilt in huge doses.
It only took a few seconds before Blair was unconscious again, but it seemed like hours. When Jonas stood to his full height and pulled in a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly, Declan realized the cold was doing its job.
Tiffany rested her hand on Jonas’s forearm. “How is he doing?”
“He’s scared, but more because of being almost submerged, not from the pain anymore.”
She nodded. “That’s good and to be expected. Even people who aren’t afraid of the water don’t like it when they’re initially lowered into the tank. It’s normal.”
“That doesn’t make it easier,” Lucas said.
“No. It does not.” She looked around at them. “Like a human in a coma, he can hear and be comforted by people talking to him. After the first eighteen hours we’ll raise the temperature enough he’ll wake up. It’s the only way to gauge his recovery rate.”
“How long will this take?” Declan asked.
“Each individual is unique, of course, but the average time is forty hours. Though, I’ve had treatments take almost ninety-six,” Tiffany explained while making some adjustments to the tank controls. She motioned Lucas closer. “Dr. Coate, let me show you how to operate the equipment.”
Blair was cold. Freaking freezing, but at least the horrible, all-consuming pain had quieted to a dull ache. He felt his soulmate, Forge, in his mind. The man damn near drenched Blair in feelings of safety and love.
The realization struck that he was suspended in water up to his nose, literally. Cold, bone-chilling water. When he’d try to get out and remind anyone who’d listen, he couldn’t swim, he was held still. Every time panic raced through him, trying to consume and shatter, Forge’s connection calmed him, as did his hand encasing Blair’s.
Lucas spent time reading passages from a sweet sci-fi trilogy with gay characters and a generational ship. Declan and Forge told him stories from their past then Forge gave him a running commentary on what was right, and wrong, about all the new Star Trek series. Forge, Lucas and Declan would never let him drown, yet they kept him in the water. He recognized Ori and Kai’s voices, the Penningtons and a woman who seemed to be directing something, but Blair wasn’t sure what. He did have the distinct feeling that something had to do with him.
Rational thinking was impossible. Blair’s brain felt as if it were encased in rubber cement, nothing made sense and any thought he tried to form drifted into oblivion only to resurface unconnected to anything specific. Exhaustion took over and Blair floated off to sleep. The water wasn’t as cold when he woke up and he’d been lifted, or maybe the water was lowered, so he was floating but not almost submerged. He shuddered and tried to heft himself out to freedom but straps around his chest held him down as did Forge’s hands.
“It’s okay. Relax. I’m here. We’re all here and no one will let you sink,” Forge’s words broke through the murky haze that was Blair’s brain and he relaxed.
Quarry is available in eBook, paperback and through Kindle Unlimited.
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