by Marteeka Karland
eBook ISBN: 9781595967671
Print ISBN: 978-1595965530
The Gothe’maran are a harsh warrior people. When they collide with the men and women of Earth and are met with resistance, a war begins that will change the face of both civilizations. Passions collide with tradition and a new way of life must be forged or both peoples will lose the best parts of themselves. Both sides must learn that love is a force stronger than even the staunchest warrior, and sometimes the heart takes you places you never thought you’d be.
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Neighborhood Watch [Book 2]
“Mikkarn, over there,” Kiril whispered, pointing to a small group of humans working frantically on a badly wounded man in the crowded refugee center.
“By the Universe! His whole belly’s been blown away.” Mikkarn winced as he glanced back at his boyhood friend, now bodyguard. “Our Earth contact will have to wait. Time is of the essence.”
Kiril cleared the way through the chaos and filth so Mikkarn could scan the man’s abdomen—or what was left of it—for a quick assessment of the injuries.
“Who the hell are you, and what the hell are you doing to my patient?” A tiny woman stepped between Mikkarn and the dying man.
“Doctor Mikkarn Tovel. I am in charge of the relief sent from Gothe’mar by Medical Command. This,” he gestured to Kiril, “is Commander Kiril Cha’marn, my bodyguard.”
“It’s about damn time! I’m Doctor Mara Jenson. We’ve been expecting you for days.” She turned back to her patient. Digging in her jacket pocket, which bulged with its contents, she came out with a pair of small scissors. “I’m your contact and Earth representative. I’ll take care of the paperwork later. Right now, I need your help.” Mara cut away bits of the man’s shirt and Mikkarn saw there were actually two wounds, though one was much larger than the other.
Mikkarn moved his scanner over the man again. His wounds were fatal. The healing tube wouldn’t be ready in time to save him. Still, Mikkarn had to try. He barked a sharp set of instructions into the communicator at his throat.
Not getting the results he wanted, he backed away from the patient and spoke with a deadly calm. “We don’t have a few minutes. Get the computers online now.”
The man’s vital signs were failing, fast. Mikkarn was losing this battle.
Without warning, the man screamed, a blood-curling howl that raised the hair on the back of Mikkarn’s neck. A bright red fountain of blood erupted from the gaping wound, and Mara and her staff scrambled in an effort to stem the flow.
“I told you to hold pressure!” Mara snapped. Grabbing a nearby towel, she pressed it to the man’s abdomen and looked over her shoulder at Mikkarn. “Are you going to stand there, or do something?” Her vivid green eyes pierced him straight to his soul.
“We are making the final preparations. I can transport him directly into the tube in five minutes.”
“This guy doesn’t have five minutes!”
Mikkarn moved closer to do an intensive scan of the man’s brain. Kiril had not interfered until this point, but he placed a restraining hand on Mikkarn’s shoulder. “Kiril, I need an exact reading of neurological decay.” Not saying anything, Kiril backed off.
“There is a steady drop in brain function.” Mikkarn made eye contact with Mara again and winced at the anger he saw there. “He’s losing too much blood to maintain oxygen levels.”
Her disgusted snort actually caused a physical ache in his chest. Why her opinion of him mattered at all was beyond reasoning.
“No shit. You think?” Mara drawled as she dug into another pocket and handed a roll of tape to the woman next to her.
“Sarcasm isn’t helping.” His reply was harsher than he intended and his anger self-directed. He had absolutely no idea what to do before technology took over. His patient was dying right before his eyes.
“You’re the one with god-like medical knowledge. Do something!” Mara’s desperate accusation hung between them. Mikkarn hated to admit there was nothing he could do until the computers were linked and engaged.
“Not without the proper equipment,” he replied tightly.
Mara looked at him in disbelief. “You’re kidding, right?”
No matter how much she affected him, her mouth was getting on his nerves. “Do your job. I’ll do mine. You keep blood and oxygen going where it’s supposed to and I’ll get the computers ready to operate the healing tube.”
As she turned from him, his attention never left Mara or her team. Unfortunately, when she bent over the patient to grab something just out of reach, the fabric of her pants stretched tightly across her backside. He blinked as an unbidden image of that shapely rear clothed in nothing but his hands stabbed into his consciousness.
It took his team just shy of five minutes to ensure all was ready for Mara’s patient. Mikkarn looked down at the dying man just as Mara spoke to her nurses.
“No, squeeze them in. He needs blood too badly to let it drip on its own, and we don’t have a pump.”
“That’s not advisable, Dr. Jenson. This is untyped blood.” Mikkarn almost felt sorry for the nurse who spoke. Almost. Mara knew what she was doing, and any delay in carrying out her orders could very possibly cost this man his life.
“Just do it!” Mara snapped. “Or leave. I really don’t care which.”
Another nurse, who wisely kept her head down, squeezed a bag attached to a tube coming from the patient’s mouth, while another nurse pressed the man’s chest downward with a considerable amount of force in a steady rhythm. Mara had one hand inserted past her wrist inside the man’s gut.
Blood was everywhere.
“If you’re done fiddling with your fancy gizmos, we could really use a little help here.” Mara’s voice was strained, incensed. Almost accusing. She never even glanced at him.
Mikkarn ignored her biting comment. “You must remove your hand from his body.” His irritation was of no consequence. The only thing that mattered was getting this patient to a healing tube safely.
“If I do that, he’ll bleed to death in seconds. I’m plugging his aorta.”
“Transfer will be instantaneous. You will move on my mark.”
She looked at him then. “You better be right about this.”
Mikkarn didn’t flinch. “Ready? Now.”
Mara removed her hand.
* * *
Mara’s first encounter with her mentor, Dr. Mikkarn Tovel, and the brooding bodyguard, Kiril Cha’marn, was a mixture of intense emotions. The instant she’d pulled her hand from the dying man’s belly, her patient simply vanished. For several seconds, Mara knelt where she was. Talk about anticlimactic.
Well, that was until she got a good look at Mikkarn, and his silent shadow. The adrenaline rush she had experienced during the life and death struggle was quickly replaced with a surge of lust so strong, she sat flat on her butt in dismay. These men were as different as daylight and dark, but she was hard-pressed to decide which man was the sexiest.
Mikkarn was exceedingly tall—perhaps six feet seven inches—towering over her own five foot three inch frame. Exceedingly tall and very lean, wearing a loose-fitting white shirt and pants. His muscled, vein-roped forearms were bare, and when he moved she caught glimpses of a nicely chiseled chest. His eyes, though ice blue, held a wealth of warmth in them, welcoming her within their depths. Lightly tanned skin and a lustrous head of long, blond hair completed a man she could have created in her fondest dreams.
The other one, the silent, looming one, probably sprang from her worst nightmares.
Kiril was heavily armored, but Mara doubted he was anything other than one solidly built warrior. He couldn’t be anything else. His skin was a rich mocha color and black eyebrows revealed the hair color hidden by his helmet. His eyes were so brown, they were almost black, and she knew those eyes saw straight to her soul… and found her lacking.
Once she recovered herself, and the necessary introductions were made, Mikkarn took Mara straight to her patient. She could see for herself the machine working to repair damage no Earth surgeon would have had a prayer of fixing.
“I greatly admire what you were able to accomplish today. I doubt anyone among my own people could have saved that man under the same circumstances.”
For a moment, she thought he might be making fun of her and Earth’s “primitive” medicine, but something in his eyes said otherwise. She just stared at him a moment, not sure what to say.
“Well, we didn’t save him, did we?” It was a statement more than a question. “You said the magic words and he vanished off to Neverland where he will emerge whole again. My thanks to you.” Mara was certain her irritation radiated off her in waves.
Mikkarn sighed. “I am trying to compliment your skill.”
“Coming from the Masters of the Universe, that’s a very great compliment indeed,” she drawled. “Why is it, by the way, that you can bring the dead back to life, but you have this aversion to a little blood?”
He blinked. “You think the blood bothered me?”
Mara shrugged. “It seemed the logical conclusion. Besides —” she did her best to pin him with a sharp look, difficult when looking so far up just to catch his gaze, “—I’d rather think you didn’t like any blood than that you just didn’t want to dirty yourself with human blood.”
He backed away a step, surprise in his azure eyes. “Mara, I came here to help your people. All life is precious to me.”
“Then why didn’t you help me? Why did you just stand there, jabbering about your computer?” She knew she was being belligerent, but couldn’t seem to stop herself.
“Because I simply didn’t know what to do. Everything is computerized on Gothe’mar. There are very few places left where actual physical contact with a patient is necessary. I can diagnose any problem and tell our computers what has to be done to save a patient, but I cannot actually perform the procedure myself. No doctor in Medical Command can. It simply isn’t necessary.”
Well, that was pretty straightforward. Mara blinked several times, trying to absorb what he had just told her.
“You mean, you don’t do even the most basic procedures? No sutures, no closed reductions? Nothing?”
“No. That is what the computers were designed for. It’s guaranteed to be a sterile procedure, the antibiotics are automatically administered, and the chance of error is cut by eighty percent. Everything entered into the computer is checked by two other failsafe devices.” He shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Mara almost laughed. Almost. Recent events being what they were, she didn’t find it that amusing just now.
“Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t Gothe’mar. If this is all the help your people have sent, you’ve all wasted your time.” She turned her back to him. In the space of one breath, Mara felt the last hope of Earth’s wounded slip away. The Gothies couldn’t help.
“Wait!” Mikkarn grabbed her arm, forcing her to stop. “We have everything on the way. There will be enough equipment here to help everyone in a few days.” If she didn’t know better, she’d think he almost sounded desperate for her to agree with him.
But she couldn’t.
“A few days,” she said, disappointment creeping into her words. “What about the people who need help now? And how much longer will it take to set up your equipment once it arrives?” Mara waved her arm to encompass the whole camp. “Look around us. Do you think most of these people have that long?”
For a moment, his eyes held hers. Then he dropped his gaze. “No. They don’t.”
Mara could see the pain in his features. Maybe she was being too hard on the man. After all, he was only doing what he could. “Look,” Mara sighed, “there’s not much you can do here. There is a doctor in place running the equipment you have working and we need much more of those wonderful computers of yours. Do what you can. We’ll make do until you can get things running from your end.”
He turned from her without another word. It was strange, but Mara thought she could almost feel the sorrow in him. She watched the tall, brooding physician leave the camp, his head high. She was so preoccupied with the emotions welling up inside her that she almost missed Kiril’s intense scrutiny.
He looked at her with disapproval. For a handful of heartbeats, neither broke the gaze. It was a contest of wills. Mara raised her chin several notches in an effort to keep from backing down. No man cowed her. For any reason. And she’d be damned if she’d start letting this one because his buddy got his feelings hurt.
But she couldn’t keep it up. She actually felt bad about the dressing down she’d given Mikkarn. He was trying to help in the only way he could. She knew that. She had taken out her frustration and disappointment on a man who didn’t deserve it. Lowering her gaze, she turned away.
She had more important things to worry about than a man’s ego.
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