Obsidian – Laurann Dohner

Dr. Allison Baker knew what it was like to lose patients. She’d sat next to them and held their hands as death hovered to take them away after their last breaths. It was part of the job and it came with the territory to understand that some battles couldn’t be won. It wasn’t something a textbook could teach but experience and loss had burned that lesson deep into her soul. It was why she’d left the hospital to become a member of the NSO medical staff. They represented hope and new life. Her gaze flicked over the monitor readings and helplessness settled in. Her patient wasn’t improving but he wasn’t growing worse either. Limbo sucked. She gripped the cold metal railing that would prevent him rolling out of the clinic bed but it wasn’t needed. He didn’t move, wouldn’t wake, and hours had passed into days. Then weeks. Eventually months. The male New Species had really long, silky black hair and it shone from being washed and brushed.

She’d tenderly cared for it as if it were her own. Small, thin scars marred handsome, fierce features. His lips were really full and plush. His nose was a bit wide, a little flat, and his cheekbones jutted out, pronounced. Tape kept his eyes closed but she knew their chocolate-brown color well. Every day she removed it and hoped she’d see a response in his pupils. It hadn’t happened. “Doc Alli?” The gruff male voice startled her. She glanced over her shoulder at Destiny. He was a big primate Species with pretty brown eyes and really long eyelashes.

He stepped into the room and his mouth curved downward. “What’s up?” “You shouldn’t be in here. You know the rules.” Her focus returned to the man who lay meekly on a bed with tubes and needles attached to him. “He hasn’t woken and it’s driving me crazy. His wounds have healed, he’s got brain activity and I’ve run every test I can think of on him. So have the other doctors. What am I missing?” “He could become conscious and you’d be in danger.” Destiny moved to her side, his big body only inches away. “He could hurt you if that happens.

He’ll believe he’s still at the mercy of Mer- cile Industries and you’re human. He’d consider you the enemy.” “I wish he would attack me. He’d be awake then.” He growled softly. “The rules state that you aren’t allowed to enter this room without me or another Species male present. The officer was gone and I scented you down here. Where is Book?” “He went to lunch.” She hesitated. “He locked the door but I know where you keep the key.

” She shrugged, not bothering to apologize for what she’d done. “I come in here sometimes when one of the officers takes a meal break. I’m always hoping for a change.” “He has no will to live.” “I won’t accept that as the reason. I just don’t understand what physical injury I’m missing. His body is healed. He should have come out of the coma. I ordered new drugs to try and hopefully they will bring him around.” Destiny remained silent for long seconds.

“Perhaps we should remove the feeding tube and allow his body to finish what his mind started.” Horrified, she jerked her head around to gape at him. “No!” “We discussed it.” Sorrow filled his eyes. “We know so little about him, except he lost his mate. She died in front of him and he injured himself attempting to end his suffering. He has no reason to fight to survive.” “Who discussed stopping intervention?” “Everyone. There is no dignity in forcing him to live when his will is not there.” “Screw that.

” Her temper flared. “There could be a medical condition that we haven’t diagnosed yet. We just don’t know for sure.” She stared at the scarred face that she’d grown to care for so deeply. “I won’t give up on him.” “You’re a good female with a kind heart.” Destiny reached out slowly and curled his big, warm hand over one of hers. “You’re suffering more than he is. It might be better to allow nature to take course.” “It’s ‘allow nature to take its course’ but no damn way.

” She jerked her hand from beneath his and shook her head. Her teeth dented her bottom lip while she wor- ried over the decision others could make. She was the patient’s doctor but she had bosses. The NSO pulled her strings. “There’s something I’m missing and I just have to figure it out.” “I came to bathe his body. I was informed that Field washed his hair this morning.” He hesitated. “You brushed it out for him.” “Yeah.

It was tangled. Field is becoming a great nurse but he’s not very good at things like that.” “We’re learning.” “You’re doing a great job.” She flashed him an encouraging smile. “You need to leave while I bathe him.” “Of course.” New Species were weird about allowing the opposite sex to see an injured one of their own naked. She understood, respected it, but she was a doctor. Part of her was curious since she’d never seen a Species male totally bare from the waist down but she wasn’t a voyeur either.

She’d feel perverted if she stayed. “Call me if anything changes.” “It will not. He lost his mate and he no longer wishes to live.” She turned away from the bed but paused by the door. She studied the Species nurse-in-training. “Do you really think that’s it?” “Yes.” “What exactly is involved with a mating? Maybe that’s the answer.” “You know as much as I do.” “I know that men choose a woman and they are loyal to her once they decide she is it for them.

I know they get loud during sex and are extremely protective but what are the physical symptoms?” He hesitated. “We scent imprint our females.” “So you smell a woman and know she’s the one for you?” “No.” He faced her. “Our feelings become involved. We spend a lot of time with them and become addicted to their scent.” “You rely heavily on your senses.” “Yes.” Allison chewed on her bottom lip again, thinking. A crazy thought came to her.

“What if we got him interested in a new scent?” “What do you mean?” “I mean what if he learned a new female scent? He’s breathing through his nose and he’s got to be partially aware since there’s brain activity. If he shut down because he lost one woman, maybe he’d wake for another one.” Destiny frowned. “I don’t think it would work.” Her gaze lingered on her patient. “Do we really have anything to lose?” “We’d have to find a female to spend a lot of time in his room.” He shook his head. “None of our women would do it. What if it worked and he woke?” “We’d get him therapy if his mind is fractured. He’d at least be talking and alert.

We can work with that.” Her hand lifted and she waved in the direction of the bed. “Right now we can’t do anything but keep him alive.” “Mating is not just about scent.” “When you bathe him does his body respond at all?” “I don’t understand.” She hesitated, not sure how to broach the subject so just decided to be blunt. “Does he get an erection?” Shock widened his dark eyes. “No. You are referring to his dick?” “Yes. I assume you clean him there and have to touch him.

Does he respond to stimuli in that region?” “No.” “Maybe he knows you’re male.” Destiny frowned. “I don’t fondle him.” She smiled. “I didn’t think you did.” He wasn’t amused. “What’s the worst that could happen if we brought in a woman?” His features hardened. “You’d risk him becoming addicted to a female’s scent and he could attempt to claim her if that were to happen. Our females don’t want to be mated.

It would be cruel to have him wake for something he can’t have.” “He’d be awake at least. Alive.” “No.” “I think I’ll run this by Tiger or Justice.” “Don’t. It is a bad idea. You don’t understand Species if this is something you truly wish to consider. He could wake feral too and become violent with one of our females. Nothing is worth tak- ing that risk.

” “He’s chained down. I still think that’s unnecessary.” She glanced at the restraints attached to her patient’s wrists and ankles. “He hasn’t stirred since he was flown in.” “He may wake on his own.” “He may lie there until his body gives out. He’s lost weight. The only reason he’s survived this long is because of his hybrid genetics.” Destiny’s broad shoulders shrugged. “He will either wake or he won’t.

We tend to him, do our best, and have given him a chance at survival. It’s all any of us could ask for. No female will put her life at risk to wake this one. He isn’t familiar from the facilities any of them came from and we know nothing about him.” “He’s New Species.” “That is evident from his features and his blood tests but no one knows him. He never touched any of the females and they won’t feel compelled to risk being mated or stalked by him if he were to want them enough to come out of his deep sleep.” “It would be worth it if it brought him around. We’ll just explain why we did it and it’s not as though he’ll know her personally to feel emotions. He’ll just be used to her scent.

” “No. You don’t understand.” “So explain it to me.” Destiny suddenly moved and it scared her when he invaded her personal space. He halted inches away from her. His gaze narrowed. “I smell you every day I work with you. I have adjusted to your scent but I tend to miss it when I leave.” His gaze left hers to slowly wander down her body. “I know it means nothing, that our close contact is unavoidable if I’m to learn nursing, but that doesn’t stop my body from reacting to you.

I’m hard, Alli. Do you want to talk about erections?” Her jaw dropped and she backed up fast enough to slam against the door. She didn’t overlook the fact that he’d called her by her shortened name either. Destiny didn’t move but his lips parted enough to flash his sharp canines—a benefit from the animal DNA. “I know you aren’t interested and I would never cross that line. I’ve never scented arousal on you but I am very aware of your every movement. I think often of stripping you bare to show you how I could be your male.” He took a step back. “I am logical, calm, and have been free for a long time.” He glanced at their patient before his gaze held hers.

“I wouldn’t have shown any restraint when I was first released if I had these desires. You’d be flat on your back under me and your clothes gone from between us. I’d make you want me as much as I do you.” He took a deep breath and released it slowly. “I don’t mean to frighten you but you must understand that is the nature of Species. Never forget that, regardless of how civil we seem. Any female you used to bait him to struggle to survive would be at his mercy. He has no restraint, no calm, and she would find herself with one aggressive male who would demand nothing less than what he wanted from her. He isn’t safe.” Allison swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat.

“I’m sorry. I don’t feel that way about you.” “I’m aware.” His gaze cooled. “Don’t feel guilty. I am not in love with you but I easily could be. Your detachment has reminded me daily that the desire isn’t mutual. I am rational, in control of my body and thoughts. You needed to be told the truth to stop you from making a mistake that would endanger one of our females.” “Okay.

” He turned. “I will bathe him now. Please close the door, Doc Allison.” She fled quickly. She’d had no idea the nurse was attracted to her. She leaned against the wall down the hallway near the elevator. 880 would die if something wasn’t done. She’d grown to know his features so well and they haunted her. He’d suffered greatly for the scars he carried on his face, neck, and upper body. At some point he’d been whipped.

Whoever had done it to him had been vicious. The fact that no one from the facilities had ever seen him or picked up his scent off any of the technicians stumped her. Mercile employees had stolen him when they’d fled the facility. He had to have been there somewhere, perhaps on some floor where others weren’t kept. He’d obviously never had any breeding tests done with any of the females since none of them knew him. Who are you? What did they do to you? And how did you end up mated to a New Species female? She chewed her bottom lip, realized she was once again doing it and stopped. It was a bad habit of hers. Whoever that Species woman had been, 880 was willing to give up his life over her loss. That had to mean he must have loved her deeply. A cold-blooded soul wouldn’t grieve.

She believed with all her heart he was worth saving. “Feral, my ass.” She pushed away from the wall while waiting for the elevator to take her one floor higher. She closed her office door and collapsed into her seat when she got there. She finally admitted she was obsessed with the New Species male. Drawn to him. 880 needed to be saved and she wasn’t about to let him die. She was more than willing to do it for him if he couldn’t fight to return to life on his own. She reached for her phone and dialed the NSO main offices to ask to speak to Tiger. She hoped the kindhearted male would agree to her plan.

He patiently listened as she explained her idea but quickly shot it down. “It’s too dangerous. We can’t find any Species who knows his scent or his face.” He paused. “We’ve interviewed some of the Mercile employees who have been captured and they said that a handful of our kind were assigned to special projects. We have no idea what was done to them but I assume it had to be pretty bad. We’re guessing, and that’s all we are, that they wanted to see the long-term effects of putting a couple together. They wanted us to breed for them and a few of the doctors theorized a long-term relationship might get those results. There is also the possibility that he was severely tortured. Mercile tested pain medications, according to some of the records we were able to recover.

That would mean he could have suffered years of agony if they experimented on him.” “We can’t just allow him to die. He’ll lie there until his body wastes away if we continue our current methods of treating him. It’s not enough just to feed him and keep him clean.” “I understand but we’ve done all we can. We have faith in you and the other doctors that you’re all doing your best. Since there are no medical reasons for the coma, he has probably just emotionally shut down.” “I think this could work if that’s the case. He’ll form a bond with someone and it might draw him out of his coma.” “It’s too dangerous.

We won’t risk any of our females on an unknown male. I know that sounds harsh but the bottom line is protecting the ones who survived.” “He’s not dead.” He would be if something wasn’t done soon but she kept that to herself. She’d sent reports to Justice and his people every few days. They knew how grim the outlook was for 880. “What if I volunteer? I’ll spend a lot of time with him and allow him to get to know my scent. That won’t put your women at risk.” “No.” “Why not? It’s my ass on the line and I’m willing to do it.

It won’t interfere with my duties. I’ll set up a cot inside his room and kind of move in there when I’m not working. I’ll read to him and get him used to my voice too.” “You’re human. He will probably kill you on sight if he wakes. We won’t allow you to put yourself in that kind of danger. You work for us, Allison. We care what happens to you just as much as if you were one of our own.” “He’s going to die!” Her temper snapped. “I can’t just do nothing, damn it.

That’s what you’re asking me to do. He’s hitting a point where there’s going to be no return. Even with PT, his muscles are starting to atrophy, he’s lost weight, and it’s only a matter of time before his internal organs begin to fail. You hired me to be a doctor and treat New Species. Don’t tell me to sit on my ass and just watch this go down.” “I’m sorry but it’s not up for debate. Do what you can safely but you aren’t to spend more time with the male than when you run required tests.” “Tiger—” “No. I have to go. There is a council meeting I must attend.

” He hung up. She clutched the dead phone for long seconds before hanging up too. Her teeth dug painfully into her bottom lip while she decided to refuse to allow 880 to waste away. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” she muttered. A plan formed in her mind. It was insane, dangerous, but if it worked, the New Species in the basement would wake. His survival was what really mattered.

.

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