Dead and Loving It (Page 23)
“In return for free room and board, which is not such a bad deal, I might add.”
Antonia snorted but had no comeback for that, so instead she said, “We’re really done? You’re not just yanking my chain?”
The queen looked shocked. “Not about wedding matters. Never!”
When she went back to the sitting room, Garrett was waiting for her.
She blinked at him. There was one door to the sitting d^^?i^ room, and he would have had to get past the three of them to get in. She had no idea how he’d slipped by. That lack of scent was maddening, not to mention a real asset.
“Antonia,” he said.
“Shhhh,” she said, jerking a thumb over her shoulder. “They’re right in the next room, I’m sorry to say.” She started wriggling out of the dress. “This is so completely not what I had in mind by helping the queen, I can tell you that right f*****g now. I assumed she’d be attacked and I’d save her with my superior—” She realized she was standing in her underwear and he was staring at her.
Stupid monkey customs! Apparently it even bothered dead monkeys, the whole no-clothes thing. Although, strange, she hadn’t thought of Garrett as a monkey before. But of course he was. Right? A dead monkey was still—
Well, that wasn’t true at all, and she knew it well. He was stronger, faster, quicker. He didn’t babble until she felt like ripping out her own throat, he didn’t fret, he didn’t want to talk about her feelings, he didn’t make war to get more money and then pretend it was to help people. He was just… Garrett.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, reaching for her shirt. “I forgot that—look, where I come from—which admittedly isn’t here— nobody really cares about nudity. But I’ll try to remember in the future—”
“Pretty,” Garrett said and grabbed her arm, which startled her into dropping her shirt. She hadn’t even seen him start to move. Now, why was that thrilling instead of frightening?
“Thanks,” she said, “but really, I get that all the time.”
“So?” he asked and pulled again. Now she was in his arms, and his cool mouth was on hers, and his hands were moving in her hair, restlessly, almost tugging.
“Yeah,” she said into his mouth. “That’ll work.”
“What’s taking so long in there?” Betsy hollered.
“And when you’re done kissing me,” she said, pulling back and looking into his eyes, which struck her now as more chocolate-colored than mud-colored,“could you drive that hanger into my ear until I can’t hear her anymore?”
“No,” he said and kissed her again. Which she privately thought made the whole stupid trip worthwhile.
There was a polite rap at the door; she could smell a
single youngish man, blood, and vomit. It was six
o’clock in the morning; everyone had gone to bed (to coffin?)
but her. Jessica, she had since learned, adjusted her sleeping
schedule to the vampires‘, and Betsy usually went to bed early.
With her charge out of commission until dawn, Antonia found herself putzing about in her room with absolutely nothing to do. She cursed herself for not stocking up on magazines before she came to the house.
There was another knock, interrupting her thoughts. “Come,” she called.
The door swung open, and a twenty-something dark-haired man of average height (wasn’t Minnesota supposed to be the land of blondes? What was with all the brunettes?), wearing pea-green hospital scrubs and scuffed tennis shoes, stood framed in the doorway. Interestingly, his stethoscope was still around his neck.
“You smell like puke,” she informed him.
“You must be Antonia,” he replied, grinning. He held out his hand, and she reluctantly shook it. “I’m Marc Spangler. Dr. Spangler, which is why I reek. I swear, I thought the nurse was going to grab the emesis basin in time, but, as so often in my life, I was sadly wrong.”
She laughed in spite of herself. “That’s too bad. So you spend your days getting puked on?”
“And peed on, and shat on, and bled on,” he said cheerfully. “But hey, the pay sucks and the hours are horrible, so it all works out. Luckily, my rent is low.”
She laughed again. “What can I do for you, doctor?”
“Oooooh, almost polite and everything! That’s funny, I was warned about you.”
“P*****s,” she scoffed.
“Mmm. Well, today I gotta earn my keep—Sinclair asked me to take a look at you. So if you don’t mind.” He didn’t trail off, as people usually did when they said such a thing. And she realized that, in his laid-back way, he wasn’t really asking.
“I’m not crazy,” she said. “And you’re not a shrink, I bet.”
“No, just a garden-variety E.R. rez. But what the hell, it’ll make the big guy feel better, right?”
She rolled her eyes. “Right. Get on with it.”
He took her pulse and blood pressure and listened to her heart and lungs. He chatted with her about this and that, and she wasn’t supposed to notice that he was checking for depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, or delusional thinking.
“Look, I’m flunking your little mental health checklist,” she told him, rolling her sleeve back down, “because I do believe things most people don’t, I do think people are out to get me, and I’m really bummed about my life, which is why I’m here.”
“Yeah, but on the bright side, your vitals are all textbook perfect. You’ve got the heart and lungs of a track star.”
“Well,” she said, shrugging modestly. “Superior life form and all that.”
“Descended from wolves, is that right?”
She rolled her eyes and didn’t answer.
“Uh-huh. But of all the werewolves—and there aren’t very many—but of all of them, only you don’t turn into a wolf during the full moon. Instead, you can see the future.”
She sighed. “I know how it sounds.”
“It sounds like you’re loony tunes,” he told her gleefully, “but who am I to judge? I live with vampires.”
She smiled at him. She liked him, and on short acquaintance, too! Unheard of. “That’s true,” she replied. “So what are you telling the king?”
“That you’re the picture of health, but I have no idea if you’re crazy or not. For what it’s worth, you don’t seem like a drooling psychopath.”
“Time will tell,” he went on perkily. “Just when I thought it was getting dull around here, too. I mean, how many times can Betsy obsess over her bouquet?”
She didn’t answer him; she was looking at the picture that had popped into her head. “Dr. Spangler,” she said after a few seconds.
“Hon, call me Marc. Dr. Spangler is—no one I know, actually, but it’s weird, anyway.”
She reached out and touched his arm, gently, she thought, but he ow’ed and pulled away. “Youch! Hon, you don’t know your own strength.”
“Call security before you treat your first patient. Have them check his coat pockets. Understand? Because if you don’t…” She was rubbing her temples in anticipation of the headache to follow if he ignored her, not to mention the aggravation of funeral arrangements and Betsy’s hysterics. “If you don’t, your first patient will be your last—stop that!”
He had whipped the stethoscope out and was listening to her heart. She pulled away. “Did you hear what I said?”
“Yup. Did you know your pulse goes way, way up when you’re having one of those visions or whatever?”
“Yes,” she said and escorted him out. “Remember what I said!” she yelled at him and shut the door before he could bug her with more questions.
And the guy had not one, ladies and gents, but two guns on him! And every other word was the ‘MF’ word. It was like a bad episode of Deadwood.“
It was the wee hours of the next morning, an hour or so away from dawn. Jessica and Betsy were listening, slack-jawed. Tina and Sinclair were hiding their emotions a little better but couldn’t conceal their interest. Antonia yawned, bored.
“A thirty-eight and a forty-five, for the love of Pete! And I’ll tell you what, the minute I’dve tried to Foley him, he would have blown my brains all over the wall. Which would have improved the color scheme, but that’s about it.”
“And Antonia told you this would happen?” Sinclair asked carefully.
“No,” Antonia said. “I told you to have security check your first patient’s coat. That’s what I saw: them checking his coat. For all I knew, they would have found a pack of Chiclets.”
“You saved him,” Betsy breathed.
“They were only guns.” Oh, wait. Guns were taken a little more seriously by the regulars. “Hmm, maybe I did.” She waited. They all waited. Finally, she said, “But I don’t feel any better. I mean, I don’t feel like I got what I wanted.”
“Is it an instant kind of thing?” Betsy wondered. “Boom, you’re satisfied and you go home?”
“What do you want?” Tina asked.
She shrugged, partly because she wasn’t one hundred percent certain, partly because it was nobody’s damned business, and partly because the truth—if it was the truth—was embarrassing. How do you tell strangers you want to belong, you want friends and a family who weren’t afraid of you?
“Well, saving Marc certainly helped me out,” Betsy said. “Thanks.”
“No,” Sinclair said.
“Oh, that’s nice,” Marc sniped.
“Don’t misunderstand, Dr. Spangler, but I fail to see how saving your life directly helps Elizabeth.”
“That’s a lot better,” Antonia told her. “You should use that instead of Betsy. Betsy’s lame.”