Vradin, Chapter Seventeen

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When I woke up the next morning, I have to admit, I was a little out of it. Nothing felt right. There was too much light in the room, for one, and that stroked the dim throbbing in the back of my head rather the same way running your hand from tail to head up a cat’s spine strokes their fur. The room smelled, well, wrong, and I felt kind of queasy from that. The blankets were too heavy, making me feel like someone was trying to trap me. I struggled out of them, only to start shivering as I clambered out of the bed.

I felt a wave of dizziness strike as I tried to stand, and I managed to catch myself on the edge of the bed as I fell so I ended up sitting down really hard instead of face planting into the carpet. That was a bonus, wasn’t it?

When my head cleared again, I looked around and saw that the room I was in had a lot of dark stained wooden furniture with crisp, nearly white canvas cloth accents. I couldn’t see the door, so it had to be on the other side of the bed, right? There was a vanity or maybe it was just a dresser with a mirror mounted to it, because it had a lot of clothes-holding sized drawers. The mirror caught the rays of the morning sun and drove them into my eyeballs, spiraling up the nausea I was experiencing.

Standing did not feel like a great idea, but I was pretty sure I was going to be sick and soon, so I started crawling around the bed.

A knocking sounded in the general direction I was headed and then the sound of a latch clicking open.

I rounded the bed in time to see a look of alarm on Tank’s face as he took in the bed. “Zoe, what are you doing?” he asked, catching sight of me.

“Can’t stand, sick,” I managed to get out, and Tank was beside me. Thankfully, he slowed down the super speed when he picked me up and carried me into the bathroom.

I would have felt embarrassed or ashamed about him holding my hair back as I puked my guts up, but my head was spinning like a top and I was still too damned dog tired to care about anything at that point.

When I finished heaving up the remnants of my stew and biscuits, Tank helped me to stand up and supported me while I rinsed my mouth out at the sink. Finished with that, I yawned fit to crack my jaw off and sagged back against him.

“Should I take you back to bed?” he asked.

“Too much light, can’t sleep,” I muttered.

“All right, well, then, how about you nap in my bed? The curtains are heavier in there, should keep more light out,” he suggested.


So up I went again in his arms. I heard the distant ringing of my cell phone once we entered the hallway.

“Should get that,” I mumbled and leaned toward the sound. Tank obliged and carried me back into the room I woke up in, plopping me on the bed and retrieving my purse from the bedside table.

I dug out my phone just as the ringer stopped ringing. I frowned to see that I had missed a call from Dan when it started ringing again with a picture of a zebra looking over their shoulder at the screen. The zebra’s ass was on prominent display. I answered the phone. “Hey, Dan.”

“There you are short stuff. Why aren’t you answering your door? Where’s Jody?” he asked, and I could hear the tension in his voice.

I blinked. “I’m at Tank’s and so’s Jody.”

The sound of a deeply inhaled breath came through the line crystal clear. In an exaggeratedly controlled voice, Dan asked, “Where are you?”

“At. Tank’s. What’s. Up?” I exaggerated his deliberate tones, mocking him a bit because, well, it was Dan.

“Give me his address.”

I heaved my own sigh. “Whaaat do you waaant?” I whined the words, knowing how much that irritated Dan.

“I want to see you with my own two eyes, and I need to know how the fuck to find you in case that crazy schizoid stalker guy tries to grab you again. Now give me the god damn address!” The staccato click of each syllable, more than the growly raising of his voice, warned me that Dan was actually getting angry and not playing ass hat games.

“I feel like shit thanks to the pill you made me take last night. I don’t want company; I want to go back to sleep. Can this just please wait?”

Dan repeated, his voice going softer, “Give me the address where I can find you.”

I rolled my eyes, which was a mistake because it hurt, and, handing the phone to Tank, I asked, “Could you please give Mr. Sunshine directions on how to get here? He’s going to be an ass hat about it, so whatever.”

Tank looked back at me with amused sympathy and took the phone. “Fergusson, how are you?” he asked with an almost clinical lack of emotion as he walked to the other side of the room. I did not care to pay attention to the conversation, but after the directions were discussed, I caught things like, “she’s exhausted,” “hasn’t had much chance to sleep,” “reassess after a week”.

The call ended, and Tank came back to stand in front of me. I was half dozing sitting up, slumping forward to cup my head in my hands and brace my elbows against my thighs. “You doing okay? Should I take you back into the clinic?”

I felt his hands sweeping my hair back and I leaned into him. “No, just less light would be really good right now.”

“Then let’s get you settled in my room.” And up I went, back into his arms, carried like I weighed less than any grown woman should.

Tank’s bed smelled like him, that magic and forest smell, easing my nausea right off the bat. The drapes were darker and heavier, and the room was also decorated in dark woods, with wood paneling on the walls. The covers on his bed were warm and comfortable. I remember he sat on the bed beside me, but I was asleep before he rose.