BOOK 1 IN THE DEMON WARRIOR SERIES
Imagine a life where the simplest touch leaves you in agony.
Imagine finding that one person whose touch brings you pleasure.
“Last few checks and you’re free to go,” Oliver called over his shoulder, that usual smile curving his lips as Rosalyn followedhim into yet another ward.
Her feet throbbed in her otherwise comfortable shoes, eyes burning with each fluorescent light they passed under. Her fifteen hour shift finally took its toll on her, and yet, she couldn’t be happier to be here. Just one more step to achieving her dream and becoming a real doctor.
Luckily for her, she got the young, friendly and kind Oliver to shadow during her studies, unlike her roommate Sara, stuck with the old, cranky matron. A woman so strict she put any headmistress to shame.
“Good evening, Ms. Graham,” Oliver chirped, pulling up a small stool by the elderly woman’s side before he took her arm in his hands and wrapped the cuff around it, taking her blood pressure for the final time that evening.
“You look much perkier than you did this morning.”
“Those painkillers you gave me are doing just the trick,” she replied with a quick nod, aiming a little smile in Rosalyn’s direction.
Though it had been Rosalyn to notice the woman was still in a lot of pain, and not in the area where the bruising from her fall was, she never expected that Oliver would give her the credit for the catch.
When she pulled him aside and told him about the grimaces she noticed when the nurses had lifted her to the gurney for her x-ray yesterday, she thought he would shrug it off and think she was making a fuss, but he hadn’t, he’d believed her, something she wasn’t used to. He looked deeper into the woman's records and found that she had been going back and forth with her general practitioner for months, and sent her for some further tests confirming Rosalyn’s suspicions.
The elderly woman hadn’t broken a bone in her fall like all the other doctors and nurses seemed so certain of, she had kidney stones. Large ones. The pain from those likely to have caused her to stumble whilst she climbed her stairs.
Oliver hadn’t only believed her words, he’d praised her for the find, and told all the other staff members that it was her who had discovered the truth, allowing her to be the one to book Ms. Graham in for her Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy to help break the stones into smaller pieces.
“We’ll come back to check on you again in the morning once you’re back on the ward to see how it goes. You’ll be home in no time,” Oliver announced, patting her arm as he stood and headed for the door, Rosalyn racing to catch up to him.
“Good job, Rose,” he remarked when she joined him on the other side of the swinging doors. “You don’t mind me calling you Rose, do you?”
“Yes. I mean no. Thank you,” Rosalyn spluttered, unsure how to answer him, her heart beating frantically as she returned his smile.
She wasn’t used to people believing in her words, or being particularly friendly for that matter.
Sara was the only person she really spoke to for any length of time, unable not to when they lived in the same apartment.
She’d certainly never had a nickname before, at least nothing normal or non derogatory like, Rose.
“Oliver!” a loud voice shouted, forcing both of their heads to turn to see one of the female nurses jog in their direction, giving Rosalyn the side eye before she turned to him with a sweet smile. “We’ve got an unusual emergency incoming. Five minutes tops.”
Oliver moved instantly, Rosalyn following along behind in silence as he made his way toward the front desk.
Part of her was excited. A real emergency to watch and learn from, and an unusual one at that. The other more exhausted and rational part was a little apprehensive.
Not only did she long to go home and rest before her next shift tomorrow, she was inexperienced and would likely just get in the way whilst the others all worked on the patient.
“Something wrong?” Oliver asked, pausing in front of her with his arms crossed, the action so sudden that Rosalyn almost bumped into him.
“I’m fine,” she blurted, taking a step back from their close proximity, her cheeks aglow.
“You don’t need to worry. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was a student. You won’t be in the way if that’s what you’re thinking. Just stand back and observe,” he told her, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze, his hand lingering a little longer than she would have expected.
“If your observation skills prove as helpful as they were yesterday, we’d benefit from you being in there with us.”
Rosalyn opened her mouth to respond, ready to argue with his confidence in her, when the double doors at the end of the corridor flew open and a hospital gurney pushed by several paramedics, battling with a large, muscular man passed them by. His shouts and growls vibrated through her body making her tremble. A look of pure fury and agony contorting his face.
Rosalyn froze, that word bouncing around in her head while she watched on in horror.
She was supposed to be cured, wasn’t she? So why now all of a sudden was she thinking such abnormal things?
There were no such things as demons, everybody had told her so. No vampires or shifters, or any other creatures from myth or fairy tales walking among them like she used to believe.
“Rosalyn? Are you coming?” Oliver called, already walking in step with the paramedics.
She jogged to keep up with them, her earlier fatigue forgotten as she focused her eyes on the patient who continued to fight against them.
Open your eyes, Rosalyn willed him, needing to prove to herself that she was just imagining things. That he wasn’t like those people she used to see when she was younger. That his eyes would not change black like she thought theirs had.
For almost ten years she hadn’t thought of demons or other creatures, not seeing them everywhere like she once had, so where had that crazy thought come from?
If such creatures existed, she would have seen them before now, wouldn’t she?
“Stab wound to the chest. Unsure of the extent of the injury, he won’t keep still long enough to examine it thoroughly,” one paramedic commented through clenched teeth, doing his best to hold the patient’s shoulders down as they prepared to lift him onto the bed.
“He’s lost a lot of blood on the way here, but it appears to be slowing,” another called, gasping when the man swung out his arm, almost colliding with her face.
“He shouldn’t be able to move like this after suffering such a near fatal wound.”
“Maybe he’s taken something?”
The room grew busier by the minute. More and more staff entered in an attempt to hold the man still and lift him across to the bed.
The roar and howls coming from the man caused Rosalyn to cover her ears and look away before she took several steps back, shaking her head from side to side.
No. Not now. Not when everything was going so well.
She had a job now. She had a new dream and an aim for her future. She couldn’t allow herself to believe in demons again. There was no such thing.
No such thing, she repeated in her head while the fight before her continued.
“Strap him down already, before he does himself or anyone else damage,” Oliver groaned, making her look up in time to see him dodge an arm that flew in his direction. Only, he wasn’t fast enough to notice the other, taking a hefty punch to the eye making Rosalyn gasp and plaster her hands over her mouth.
She was useless. Unable to move or speak while the fight continued, battling with her own mind to think clearly.
The paramedics left the room, several nurses and doctors rushing forward to take their place.
“The bleed is gaining momentum again,” an older nurse commented, trying to hold his arm still long enough for Oliver to inject him with a sedative.
Rosalyn watched on in horror, staring at the man’s pained expression, still willing him to open his eyes so she could finally push the thought of him being a demon from her mind. He was nothing more than an ordinary man. A large, intimidating one, but still, just a man.
She sighed and stepped a little closer, her head tilted to one side as she peered around the male nurse blocking her view, watching the man who continued to buck and roar, swinging his arms at anybody who got too close.
He shouldn’t be behaving like this.
Rosalyn may not have been in an emergency room before, but she had seen enough documentaries and read through enough files to know that this wasn’t normal behaviour. There had to be something else bothering him, something the others seemed to be missing. Another wound they had overlooked perhaps. A piece of debris or a foreign object stuck in his body causing him pain. Anything at all that wasn’t due to him being a demon like her head kept on insisting.
There is no such thing, she berated herself, digging her nails into her palms, stepping to the side and staring long and hard at the patient’s face, watching his nostrils flare whilst he fought to break free of the hands holding him down and the restraints the doctors were attempting to secure him with. His face scrunched up in agony.
“We’re trying to help you. Keep, still,” Oliver groaned.
Rosalyn’s eyes moved lower, to the wound on his chest. The blood had already begun to flow again as one nurse had mentioned earlier, gaining speed each time he flexed and convulsed on the bed. The wound like an incision, small and round; not like any knife blade she had ever seen.
Her eyes travelled lower still, searching for another wound when she noticed tattoos across his arms in an unusually pale shade that reminded her of the white ink tattoos she’d seen on others before, except his seemed to almost shimmer under the bright lights as more hands pinned him down, fastening straps across his wrists. Their fingers digging into his flesh, turning it red while the fabric groaned in protest from his excessive movements.
No, his skin wasn’t just red, it appeared to be inflamed. Sore and blistering beneath their touch, some parts much darker and deeper than others.
“Stop,” she shrieked, rushing toward the bedside, pushing several of the nurses away from him.
All eyes focused on her, their gazes judgemental, reminding her of all those looks she’d gotten when she was younger from her Aunt and Uncle, and all those in town. A look of irritation and contempt on their faces while they stared and looked her up and down.
She took a step back, ready to bolt from the room, her chest constricting, making it difficult to breath when several of the nurses leaned together and began to gossip in hushed tones, until Oliver’s voice cut through them all.
Oliver turned back to the patient and muttered something under his breath, shoving at some of the doctor’s hands still making contact with the man.
“Get your hands off of him,” he demanded, pointing to the reddened skin she had noticed. “Looks like a severe case of Dermatographia?” he breathed, his words lost on her as he furrowed his brows and scratched his head. Some of the other nurses who still secured the restraints keeping their hands at a distance from his skin.
Rosalyn took a deep breath, grateful that they had stopped looking at her and could now see why she had interrupted them, noticing that the room had suddenly grown very quiet.
The man. He no longer howled in pain or shouted out, fighting against them all; just breathed heavily, his eyes glued to her. One eye green, shining brightly under the tube lights above him. The other peeking through his mussed hair, dark as midnight, seemingly void of colour.
No, no, no, she insisted. His eyes weren’t changing colour like those before had, his were just different colours from one another. Heterochromia. It was rare, affecting a small percentage of people, but that didn’t make him a demon. In fact, she found them quite beautiful and mesmerising, finding herself taking several steps toward the bed, drawn in by their intensity.
“Nice catch, Rose,” Oliver remarked, gripping hold of her forearm and halting her advance forward. An unusual, almost animalistic sound coming from the man who continued to stare at her even when Oliver spun her around and ushered her toward the door. His grunts and the sound of him tugging against the restraints across his wrists and ankles drawing her attention back over her shoulder as Oliver continued to push her forward, barking out one last order. “Give him another shot of triazolam.”