Cali's Hurricane - Excerpt
Copyright © Afton Locke, 2016 - All Rights Reserved
“Jon, look out!”
But he didn’t hear Cali soon enough. The projectile slammed into his spine, knocking him against the corner of the building. His neck caught on metal sheeting, which ripped open his flesh. Despite the heavy rain, red bloomed from the gash with alarming speed. His gray eyes widened before he lurched toward the ground.
She tripped over her feet as she rushed to his side to break his fall. “Lean on me. We have to get you inside.”
Her small body staggered under his weight as she half dragged and half walked him into the structure. She risked injuring him more by moving him, but he needed warmth and shelter to survive the shock. After finding the nearest clean patch of floor, she eased him down to it.
Blood already soaked the collar of his white shirt, and his skin was paler than a sheet of ice. If she didn’t do something—and quickly—Jonathan Carter would die.
For a few moments, Cali froze, staring at his life bleeding away. The most bigoted man on Oyster Island was in her hands. If he died, the hatred here would end with him. No more crosses burned on Crab Creek.
Ernest’s face popped into her mind—bloodshot eyes, cheeks lined with pain, and lips cracked from the ragged breaths he took. The Klan had whipped him for hours, turning his entire back into a slab of raw meat.
Jonathan writhed on the rough wooden floor, clutching his neck with a shaky hand.
“I should let you die,” she whispered, not quite loud enough for him to hear.
A shuddering sigh swept through her, making her totter on her feet. The spirits had spoken. She couldn’t let anyone die. The healer in her wouldn’t allow it. Besides, she’d seen good sides of the man. Granted, there weren’t many, but the hospital would benefit Oyster Harbor for years. Mary had already been through so much. Losing the brother who loved her might finally send her over the edge.
Kissing him had forged its own bond. One she’d rather not admit.
His eyelashes fluttered. “H-help me.”
Her body flew into movement all at once as if breaking out of a shell. Because it was handiest, she pulled off the kerchief from her head, folded it, and pressed it into his cold, quivering grip, which she guided to his neck.
“Can you hold this in place while I find some supplies?”
He obeyed, but when she leaned close to help him, she discovered his breaths came too fast. They sounded like sandpaper.
“Does your chest hurt, Jonathan?” she asked.
His wheezy grunt and cough were answer enough. Hitting the building must have broken a rib…and punctured his lung.
Pneumothorax. The fancy word from one of Dr. Green’s books popped into her mind. It meant collapsed lung. Jonathan needed a hospital so he could get a chest x-ray, oxygen, and antibiotics.
She peered out at the destruction wrought by the hurricane and winced. The roads were too flooded for driving. Leaving Jon’s side to find help would be risky. Most people had evacuated Oyster Harbor, including the doctor, most likely. Given her healing skills, Jon had the best chance right here, under her care.
Cali had always wanted to do medical work in the new hospital, but not this way. Like it or not, her biggest test had arrived.