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Megan jumped at her patient’s raspy voice. She was nervous. Nervous about being in the same room as Morgan. Nervous about treating the large, sexy man lying naked beneath her hands. She would never have slipped up and mention that she knew that spell otherwise. Then it registered that her patient, his lordship's new pet, had sounded very ill, much more than he should have, and he hadn't outright refused.
"Would that be a good idea?" Morgan drawled somewhere behind her. It sounded like he'd stood up and walked closer. She refused to look at him. He had the same ability to tie her in knots now that he'd had when she was a girl and she refused to give in to the temptation of him. A temptation made all the worse because she knew, absolutely knew, she could have a taste of him. But she didn't want a taste. Didn't want to be just one more warm body to fall in a hormonal heap at his arrogant feet.
She cleared her throat and started checking her patient for any other injuries. She found nothing more than scrapes and bruises, but she couldn’t be absolutely sure. His declining health might be due to shock, but it might also be due to internal injuries.
"Meg, is that wise?" Morgan said again, from much closer. "Black is pure fae. If he's not weak enough—"
"I understand the side effects, milord," she snapped over her shoulder. She closed her eyes and silently counted to five. When she opened them, she found that her wayward fingers had been playing with the thick steel rings in her patient's nipples. She blushed and pretended she had been inspecting them rather than fondling him.
"These are plain steel with no silver. They won't interfere should he choose the change," she said hurriedly.
"Is he injured enough?" Morgan asked again, sounding a bit hostile. Megan sighed in disgust.
"It's not about injury, milord. With you fea, shock is much more important. Your new pet—"
"His name is Jarod Black," Morgan interrupted.
"Jarod Black, then," Megan repeated impatiently. "As I was saying, shock is the deciding factor, not level of injury. What warrior would lay so still like this?" She chanced a look back over her shoulder and found Morgan only inches away. He wasn't looking at her, though. His attention was fixed on the large, naked man who was shivering and sweating and breathing shallowly through his open mouth.
"He's in deep shock. The virus will take because his body simply cannot fight it off at the moment."
"What animal would I be?" Jarod asked again, sounding a bit worse.
"I don't know," Megan said with a shrug. "With a new manifestation, the virus chooses the form best suited to the host. It's only with secondary infection that the parent shifter's breed determines the breed of the child."
"Just so long as I don't manifest as a gerbil," Jarod said, clearly joking. She saw a warm note enter Morgan's gaze and felt a knot of longing form in her own belly. There was a time she would have given much for the lord's son to look at her like that. Whatever the initial reason Morgan took this man for his pet, there was the beginning of true affection there.
"Are you agreeing to the treatment?" she asked. Jarod nodded weakly. A look of concern crossed Morgan's strong, beautiful features.
"Can he be saved without it?"
"Yes, he should pull through on his own now that he's warm and dry," Megan replied. She knew why he was concerned. Infection by the lycos virus could be fatal if the conditions weren't just right. The risk was worse for pure-blood fae. They were a deeply magical race. The virus had to take over the body before any injury could kill the host and before the fae's magical defenses could muster a response. That battle of magic could kill the host as easily as an infected wound.
But this was different. Jarod Black was in shock, which meant his magic was completely off-line at the moment. Fae magic came from their own life force and he was not putting any out right now.
"My choice," Jarod croaked before coughing weakly. Morgan looked troubled but he nodded once.
"Your choice, then. Perform the ritual, Meg," he said, swinging his penitrating black gaze to her. Megan gulped nervously but nodded.
"The spell is deceptively simple," she said as her gaze darted around the room. She frowned.
"What?" Morgan asked.
"Last night was the full moon. New-turns are especially sensitive to the full moon and also the day before and the day after," she replied distractedly.
"Does that mean you can't do it?" Jarod asked, his voice cracking a bit. She looked at him very closely and noted that his shock was still progressing. She smiled comfortingly at him, but his eyes weren't open to see it.
"No, it merely means we need to take a few precautions," she reassured.
"Such as?" Morgan asked archly. Him, she shot a dirty look at.
"He needs to be tied down. Ideally, a new-turn is locked away in a cell during the three nights of the full moon, but with his injuries—"
"It's just his shoulder," Morgan cut in. "I would think the virus should be able to heal it by moonrise since its still early morning now." She glared at him until he shut up and then for a few moments after just to make sure he understood that while he was the lord, she was the healer.
"It's not just his shoulder," she said coldly. "He has other injuries, internal ones. I could waste time healing them first, but frankly, they and the shock they brought on have pushed him into a condition which is ideal for a successful infection of the lycos virus. He needs to be tied down, preferably spread eagle, so I can safely monitor his change and healing. I may need to do some healing to help him be fit before the moon fully grabs him."
Morgan looked at her for a long moment, clearly trying to impress upon her that yes, she was the healer, but lord did still trump her. Then he nodded once and said, "You'll have to do it on my bed, then."
"Your bed?" she squeaked, blushing as inappropriate visions of Morgan in his big bed ran through her flustered mind.
"It's there or I call the footmen back to move him to the dungeons. Other than them, this room is the only one set up for someone being completely immobilized."
"But this bed—" she began, nodding at Jarod's sumptuous pallet, but Morgan interrupted again.
"It's only fitted with one wall loop to secure a neck chain. My father had the master's bed built specifically for restraining people who were struggling against bonds. If memory serves, he actually chained down a giantess on it once."
Megan said nothing to that. All knew that the previous lord of Castle Blanche had been very quirky in his bedroom play, more than most darklings, as the more perverse types of fae were called. Morgan's whole bloodline was known for it, which was why she had never responded to any of his overtures. She wanted him, but was scared to let him close. What if his sexual appetite was as strange as his father's had been? What if he wanted to do things to her that she would find distasteful? Or painful?
She shrugged and nodded, setting those uncomfortable thoughts aside. Her fears and desires were a distant second to helping her patient. Together, they got Jarod over to the master's bed and bound spread eagle. When Morgan went to draw the covers over the shivering man, Megan stopped him.
"I need to see what I'm doing," she said. "Besides, once the ritual is complete and the fight between the virus and his natural immune system begins, he'll be burning up with fever."
"What else do you need?" Morgan asked. "Any special tools or ingredients for a potion?"
Megan shook her head."All I need is room to work and my dagger." She began stripping off her clothes, fighting to act normally when she felt Morgan's eyes zero in on her bare flesh. She didn't want to send him away because her patient was too big for her to control by herself if he broke free. Besides, she was part darkling, too. Her father may have been an elf, but the rest of her blood came from good, solid dark fae gentry. She liked a little kink now and then and making a sexy man sweat with need while not being able to touch was definitely her kind of kink.
She climbed up on the bed—Morgan's bed, where he slept every night—and then climbed up on top of the panting Jarod. He wasn't panting in need but rather in pain, his breath shallow because of shock. The healer in her was worried but she knew his condition was perfect. She set her small dagger in both of her hands point down and hovering over Jarod's heart. She closed her eyes and gathered her magic. And with one sharp stab, she sent both the spell and her blade into his body.