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Scarred Protector

By:Maggie Mundy

Scarred Protector (Midworlder Trilogy Book 2) -Maggie Mundy,


Chapter 1



Farewell



Evie’s stomach clenched as she placed her hands on her legs. At least no one would notice how much she was shaking, not that anyone was looking. She hated hospitals. The bloody angels and demons were all over the freaking place. Funny thing was the ghosts weren’t. You would have thought with people dying they would have been roaming the corridors, arms outstretched like zombies, but nope. Her breath caught in her throat as she struggled to breathe. There was one ghost she didn’t want to see and it was Dad’s. She could hold back her tears but not the inevitable.

Evie pressed her back against the wall, hoping it would give her some strength with what was to come. It didn’t−it was just a wall. The woman behind the desk at the front of the ward kept staring over the top of her spectacles. Evie thought she would wave a finger at her in a minute, like she was being a naughty kid. The nurse was probably wondering why the little old man had someone who appeared such a mess visiting. Evie looked down at her hands against her black pants. Okay, so she was mixed race and tanned, but even she was starting to look pale because she never went out in the sun anymore. Her head of black hair hung in a mass of curls around her shoulders. It was always an unruly mess. She’d plait it some days, but then when she’d take it out, it would look like she’d stuck her finger in a plug socket.

Evie tucked a strand behind her ear and bit her bottom lip. Dad was dying and her heart ached so much, she was sure it was physically breaking in two. It was the only reason she had left the house, which had been her place of security and sanctuary for the past five years. Most of her twenty-five-year-old friends from school were off around the world with high-flying jobs, or married with kids. Evie gave up long ago on the idea of ever meeting someone or having a relationship. Who wants a nutcase who sees weird stuff like she did for a girlfriend?



             The past few days, the hospital had kept calling, saying Dad was getting worse. How could she be so selfish to not have come earlier? Each day she phoned, but he said to stay away. He would be fine and home tomorrow. A part of her knew he was lying to protect her and things were worse, but she was scared. Today the nurse phoned and said Dad probably wouldn’t make it through the night. The doctor was in there now doing something. Draining fluid from his abdomen, maybe.

The doctor came out of the room and said something to the nurse at her desk. The nurse pointed over, and he turned to stare. Evie’s thoughts went out to him, she was sure he had no good news to tell her. He strode over and peered down awkwardly as he drew his lips into a thin line. She got up but kept her arms folded across her chest, not wanting to shake his hand. She didn’t like to touch people. When she did, their angels and demons or whatever they were seemed to get agitated. Funny thing was these weird beings never seemed to be able to tell she could see them. They always kind of stared straight through her like they were looking but seeing nothing. She was just mad and imagining it all anyway.



“Miss Withers. Evie, isn’t it? I’m Doctor Samuels. We’ve made your father as comfortable as possible. I fear he may not last much longer, though. I was wondering whether you have any questions for me.”



             Evie shook her head. Dad was dying−what else was there to say?

“I’ll be back later to check on him.”

He walked off, and she had the distinct impression he was glad the discussion was over. She couldn’t blame him. She hoped he didn’t think she was rude, but she didn’t know what to say to people anymore. Except maybe, I’m a fucking loony, so you should stay away from me. It wasn’t the sort of comment that would endear people to you.

She took a deep breath and turned toward her father’s room, her combat boots clomping on the hard floor. Dad had always been stronger than her against the angels and demons. He could see them, too, but never seemed to be phased by it. Said he thought he had an angel, but neither of them could see it. Evie wasn’t sure whether she wanted one or not. Some of the dark ones looked like they were draining every bit of goodness out of people. She would rather be mad than have one of them on board.

She stood at the door of the hospital room and peered across at the man she hardly recognized anymore. He seemed so small and frail. All her life, he had always been so cheerful and full of laughter. He used to say laughing was part of the Jamaican way of life and everyone should do it more.

The doctor said he had taken the fluid away, but Dad’s abdomen still looked large under the sheets. The nurse said something about the fluid collecting there because of the tumor. They had opened and closed him, saying it was inoperable so they couldn’t remove it. He wouldn’t have made it through major surgery anyway. There was a tube going into a bag on the side of the bed, and it was filling up with a brownish liquid. The room smelt like a mixture of antiseptic and bile, causing her stomach to turn. Dad always smelt of Old Spice, and she used to tease him about it, but not now. He opened his eyes, looked toward her, and smiled.

“Evie.”



             She ran across the room and went to hug him, but hesitated, thinking she might hurt him, but he reached his arms up to her.

“You shouldn’t have come.”

He was dying, yet all he thought about was her. “I’ll be fine. I didn’t want whatever they are to win by keeping us apart now. I’m wearing the bracelet you made me so they can just bugger off. I’ll be fine. Have they been bothering you?”



“Mind your language. Not sure what that voodoo trinket will do, but it can’t do any harm to have our spirits on your side. The angels know they’ll have me soon enough, so they have probably gone to bother someone else. I can only see the ones attached to others still, but like you, only when they touch me. Guess I was wrong to think I had one. Thought that now I’m going, it might have shown up.” He coughed and screwed his face up in pain. Evie grabbed the glass of water from beside the bed and gave him a drink. He lay back against the pillow, but he was still struggling with each intake of air. She had never felt so useless in all her life.

“Thank you, Evie. I’m sorry I called the ambulance the other day. I didn’t want to upset you, and I panicked with the pain. I should’ve been with you. I’m going anyway, so we should’ve been together. It’s not like these good people here can stop what is to come.”

“No, you were right to call. They’ve made you comfortable and I couldn’t do that.” Her father smiled and peered passed her, as if he was staring at something else. Evie’s hands went sweaty while she tried to control her breathing. The room had gone cold and she knew they were no longer alone. She closed her eyes and crossed her fingers. Please let it be a pixie. What a pathetic appeal that sounded, and who was she asking anyway? She took a deep breath and turned. Letting out a sigh, she was relieved to see a beautiful pixie-like angel with glowing white-and-gold wings sitting on the edge of the bed.



             Dad took Evie’s hands in his and squeezed them. “She said they didn’t know I could see them.”

“They can talk?” Evie couldn’t see the pixie’s mouth move, so maybe she was talking in Dad’s head. “How come they haven’t spoken to us before?”

A chill went up Evie’s spine when the pixie glared at her. What the hell was wrong now?

“She said I can see her because I’m dying, but she’s angry you can see her, too. She’s asking where your guardian is.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? Don’t they have all the answers?” Evie considered pulling a face at the pixie, but maybe she shouldn’t get it angry since she was here for Dad.

“She said she’s calling someone to come get you. She said you’re not safe without one.”

Dad started to cough again. Hacking coughs shook his whole body. Evie tried to give him a sip of water, but the coughing was getting worse. Then he gripped her hand tightly, took in a big breath, and let it out slowly. She waited, staring at him, but he didn’t take another breath. His chest no longer moved as the monitor beside the bed started to alarm. The nurse from the desk outside ran in, followed by the doctor. He listened to Dad’s chest then looked back up at her and shook his head. Then he pressed a button on the machine to turn the alarm off. There would be no crash team trying to save Dad. What would be the point?

Evie peered at the end of the bed to where the pixie had been sitting. She was gone now, just like Dad. Her brain told her she should move, but her legs would give out if she tried. The doctor was talking to her, but she couldn’t focus on the words. The nurse went to help, but Evie put her hand up to stop her as she guided her from the room. She couldn’t have someone touching her now. It would make things worse. The nurse led her to a small room opposite where Evie sat on the couch before her legs gave out. A glass of water was placed on the table in front of her, but Evie didn’t even have the inclination to drink.

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