Like the guilt that ground deep in her stomach, road pavement pressed into Jess’s legs through the knees of her jeans. As the sun rose, she continued to hover over the still motorcycle rider.
Shock hit her, and her body chilled far colder than the spring weather warranted. How? Why? Disbelief that she had run out in front of a motorcycle bearing down on her coursed through her. Gasoline and road tar stench fumed the area and half-gagged her.
“No, no, no. I can’t believe this is happening.”
In gentle pats, she touched the injured man’s shoulders and arms through the leather of his torn jacket. She gently stroked the back of his gloved hand. After a moment, her nursing experience and innate urge to heal kicked in, and she yanked off his glove and tossed it aside. Despite her fatigue from the use of her ability and her flight through the woods, she pushed herself to help him. Her insides quivered, and she struggled to slow her breathing.
“Focus. I have to focus.”
With her shadow spreading over him, Jess scrubbed her palms down the thighs of her blue jeans, then wiped her hands on her long, deep-green blouse tail.
The best she could do, considering the severity of the situation and that one of her attackers took her backpack. She bent over him and took his hand.
From the angle of his lower leg, he suffered broken bones.
The realization of the extent of his injuries throbbed in her temples.
Downhill, an explosion boomed. If only the bike blowing apart took care of the three jerks who’d been chasing her. Not really hurt them exactly, but, well, at least scared them off and made them leave her alone.
A ball of flame tossed metal parts into the air. Oily gasoline smoke churned toward the pale blue sky in slick black rolls. Jagged metal pieces rained down in splats through the trees. If they were lucky, the men who chased her were okay and hadn’t been hit by the wreckage.
She was a healer. Not a fighter.
Yes, the bad guys chased her, but still, how could she have been so careless to run out in front of a motorcycle, lack of headlight or not? Worried out of her mind about the injured boy and the men who were after her, she hadn’t even registered the roar of the motor.
All her focus had been to get the creeps away from the child.
“Dang, dang, dang.” Shaking her head after failing to swallow, she turned her full attention to the man. “I’m so, so sorry. You did your best to not run me over. For that I’m thankful.” With trembling fingers, she clasped his hand.
Injuries? First, through her touch, she perceived his right leg was broken. A crushed knee twisted, and the lower leg jutted off to one side.
With a glance at the canted angle, she flinched. Nope, a normal leg wasn’t supposed to bend at that angle.
“Poor fellow.” The stirring in her belly turned into a dull ache. “I hope with all my heart you’ll be able to forgive me.”
Next, she used her knowledge and experience to delve into the twisted fracture of his lower arm halfway between his elbow and wrist. When she reached his neck with her mental scan, still holding his hand, she sat up straight.
Spinal injury. Not impossible to fix, but a challenge.
Then she probed for any harm to his brain and heart.
Awareness crawled over her scalp like a thousand beetle bugs. The perceptions she received through her touch… Never had she received such obscure, unusual readings. They told her that with such a high red blood cell count, the man’s blood would flow like sludge.
The workings of his brain, the amount of hormones in his system, blood chemistry—
Jess yanked her hand away. His hand flopped, and his knuckles knocked against the asphalt. She thought better of leaving his bare hand on the pavement, and retrieved the glove, wedging it underneath his fingers like a mini pillow.
Never in all her twenty-eight years had she encountered such. How was this possible?
While she did a mental tally of the impressions she received from her touch, her not-so-usually bold glance skimmed over the front of his jeans. Yes, all the parts, organs, and appendages were in the right place. Cheeks flushed, she again shook her head. Her modern nursing degree told her what she sensed was reality. “It’s not possible.”
Thunder barely sounded above the light rustle of the trees on either side of the road, but she strained to hear footsteps or perhaps oncoming cars.
“Yes, you’re a man. A buff example of one from the looks of the way your jeans and jacket fit. But you’re also something else.”
~ from Vampire’s Quest