“Soren,” Arland told her.
They reached the spot where the hallway split. They had a choice, his room or hers. Soren likely had a direct channel to Arland’s quarters with priority access. If they went to Arland’s room, they would get no peace.
“Does Lord Soren have an override code to my quarters?” she asked.
She turned right, to her rooms, and he went with her. The last fifty feet of the hallway was pure torture. Her knees shook and her back burned from the strain.
The door whispered open. They stumbled through and it slid shut behind them. His full weight hit her. His face had gone blank and almost soft. He was done.
“Bathroom,” she squeezed out, “we have to get you into the bathroom.”
His face jerked, and he staggered to the bathroom, fueled by pure will.
“Medbed!” she ordered as they crossed the threshold.
A shelf shot out of the wall and she half-lowered, half-dumped Arland on to it. He landed on his back, his mane of blond hair fanning over the bed. His right leg hung off the edge. Maud heaved it on to the shelf.
Arland tapped his chest. The syn armor cracked along its seams, pieces of it falling off. Maud pulled parts of the breastplate off him, dropping them on the floor.
“First aid kit!”
A tray slid out of the wall, offering the usual vampire assortment of stimulants, antibiotics, wound sealants, and anesthetics. She got the last piece off of him. Arland was built like a vampire hero of legend. Saying that he had broad shoulders, chiseled chest, and a washboard stomach didn’t do him justice. He was big. There was really no better word for it. Hard, powerful muscle sheathed his massive frame. When you looked at him, you saw pure force in physical form. Arland was mighty. A large, athletic human male would look like a fragile teenager next to him.
All of that muscle came with a price. He had endurance and could deliver bursts of devastating power, but he couldn’t run for hours the way Sean, her sister’s boyfriend, did. Sean, being an alpha strain werewolf, had almost unlimited speed and stamina. Arland was designed to stand his ground. And that’s exactly what he had done. His entire left side was an oblong bruise. His right biceps bled in two places, where something had punctured the armor. His right hip had turned dark red, the result of blunt force trauma. He’d gotten hit in the back too, but she would deal with it later.
Maud took a smooth nutrient cartridge from the tray, slid it into the injector with practiced ease, found a vein on his left arm, and shot it. Vampires healed faster than humans, but they also required a lot of fuel to do it.
A mechanical appendage slid from the wall with two prongs about eight inches apart. She pulled it forward, positioning the prongs horizontally over the bruise on Arland’s left side. A screen shimmered into existence between the prongs, showing her the black and silver view of Arland’s bones. Two hair-line fractures. Not great, but not awful. She had half expected to find broken ribs puncturing vital organs. If he had been human, she would have.
Maud moved the scanner to his right arm. Whatever punctured it had missed the major blood vessels. The bleeding had already slowed.
His right hip was next.
“A little to the left and down,” he said, his voice quiet.
“Do keep in mind that I have a whole tray of tranquilizers.”
“That would be nice, too.”
The pain killers would have to wait until she finished evaluating the extent of his injuries.
The hip offered her a muscle contusion, bruised bone, and hematoma. A lump had formed as a pool of blood saturated the injured tissue. It hurt like hell, which had contributed to him limping, but wasn’t fatal.
She grasped his shoulders. “I need you to sit up.”
He sat upright. She moved the scanner over his back. He’d taken the blow on his left shoulder blade. Fractured scapula. Crap.
“Lift your left arm.”
Arland raised his arm a couple of inches out to his side and stopped. “No.”
“Does it hurt to breathe?”
“I’ve had worse.”
“You need a medic.”
Human, vampire, werewolf, didn’t matter. If they were male and severely injured, they all thought they could just “walk it off.”
“Take a deep breath, my lord.”
“We’re back to ‘my lord,’” Arland said dryly.
Right. Misdirection was a wonderful strategy, when it worked. Maud smiled and clapped her hand on his back. Arland jerked forward, sucking in a sharp breath.
She plucked a heavy-duty pain reliever cartridge from the tray. It would knock him out, which was the best thing she could do for him.
“No,” he said. “I don’t want to be sedated. It will make me slow and sleepy. I don’t have time for a nap.”
“You have a fractured scapula and two cracked ribs. You have lost the full use of your arm and every breath is torture. You need some quality time with a bone knitter.”
“Maud,” he said.
“No. You are not a teenager. We both know you require sedation and a visit to a medward. Why are we even having this con…”
He reached out with his left arm and caught her wrist in his fingers, drawing her close. Suddenly they were face to face and he was looking at her. His eyes were very blue.
It would have been easy to pull away. A part of her, the one that panicked and kept her alive on Karhari, warned her to be cautious. But she was so damn tired of being careful and prudent. Something wild swept through her like a scorching sariv. She kissed him. His lips were warm on hers and she opened her mouth and let him in. He tasted just as she imagined, hot and male, and he kissed her like she was the only thing that mattered. It started tender, then turned hungry, as if they both couldn’t get enough. Her whole body strummed with need. He kissed her until she could think of nothing except stripping off her clothes and climbing on top of him to feel him against her skin.
They broke apart. His eyes had turned dark. She saw raw, naked lust in his face, and it thrilled her.
“Looks like I have some use of my left arm,” he said.
“It does,” she said and emptied the cartridge of sedative into his back.