Numbers Page 3

’’You can stay.’’

’’What?’’ Doc Harris grabbed Midnight\s arm. ’’I think it\s a bad idea. You know how Mourn gets. She\s an outsider. What happens if she tells someone about him? She has already heard too much. Can you imagine what the press would do with this story?’’

’’I won\ repeat anything,’’ Dana promised. ’’I attended group grief counseling after Tommy\s death. It\s like Alcoholics Anonymous. What is said in that room stays in that room. I\ve never told anyone where Paul really works either. Most of our family, and all of our friends, believe he\s overseas with some nonprofit charity group that provides free medical assistance to the poor. It would put our family in danger if anyone who hates the NSO targets us to get back at Paul for working here. You can trust me.’’

Doc Harris didn\ appear happy. ’’Mourn is unpleasant on his best days. He\s dangerous.’’

’’I\m willing to risk it.’’ Dana didn\ even have to think about it.

’’Damn. I hate when you get that determined look, sis. You\ e not going to let this drop, are you?’’

Dana shook her head. ’’You said he\s done this before. What could it hurt to at least talk to him?’’

Paul looked grimly at Doc Harris. ’’She is stubborn as shit. We\d have to drag her out of here now. Mourn won\ attack my sister.’’ Paul didn\ sound so sure though. ’’He\s restrained, and I\ll be here.’’

’’Let the female talk to Mourn.’’ Midnight took the doctor\s hand. ’’We haven\ been able to do him much good. She\s female and wants to spend time with him. They both share the loss of their mates. What harm could it do? I agree with Paul. He wouldn\ pick a fight with her.’’

’’I think we should run this by the NSO first.’’ Doc Harris attempted to reach the phone on the bedside table but Midnight yanked him back.

’’I\m Species, and I say it\s fine. We don\ need to hold a meeting about this. Let\s go have lunch the way we planned.’’ Midnight grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the door.

’’I know what you\ e doing, Midnight. It\s a bad idea.’’ Doc Harris dragged his feet but the woman just yanked him harder, forcing him to follow her.

As they left the room, Midnight laughed and said, ’’She\s cute.’’

’’Damn,’’ Paul muttered after the couple was out of hearing range.

’’What?’’ Dana looked at him for clarification.

’’She\s hoping you and Mourn will hit it off. Let me just call for one of the Species to take you back to my house. I\ll stay until they return to Medical so someone is here with Mourn when he wakes.’’

Dana took a seat in the only chair. ’’Go do whatever you do. I\m fine right here.’’

’’Did you hear me? Midnight thinks you\ e cute enough for Mourn to be interested in you as a woman.’’

’’I heard. He lost his wife. Believe me when I say that isn\ going to happen. He obviously loved her very much. The last thing he\ll want is to date someone. Take it from someone who knows.’’

Paul glanced at the unconscious patient, and then back at her. ’’New Species don\ date. I wouldn\ mind you hooking up with one since you\d get to live here, but not that one, sis. He\s all kinds of screwed up.’’

’’That\s not why I want to talk to him. I\m not looking for someone either. It might help him in some way. That\s all.’’

Paul leaned against a cabinet. ’’Is that why you\ e still single? Don\ you ever get lonely?’’

’’I go on dates that Mom sets up.’’

’’We both know those don\ count. You only do it to get her off your ass so she won\ badger you.’’

’’True. I get to tell her that I tried but there were no sparks. She can\ fault me for that.’’

’’But don\ you get lonely?’’ He pressed the issue.

She decided to be honest. ’’All the time, but then I think about Tommy and what we had. We grew up together. Who is going to love me the way he did? I hear all the dating horror stories from my single friends. No thanks. Men play games, cheat. Those I\ve met just wouldn\ mesh with me.’’

’’There are good guys out there. I\m proof of that.’’ He grinned. ’’I didn\ need to date Becky since the seventh grade to make a good husband. We met much later and I\m almost ten years her senior. I worship the ground she walks on.’’

’’I know. One day I\ll be ready, but not yet.’’

’’Have you told our mother that?’’

’’She thinks I\m wasting my life by being single, and you know she wants grandchildren. She\s given up on you and Becky presenting her with one.’’

He laughed. ’’Sounds like Mom. She was so disappointed when I joined the military instead of working for Dad. She used to throw everyone\s daughter at me right after I graduated high school. It was part of the reason I wanted out. She always wanted a third kid and I think she figured a grandchild would be just as good.’’

Dana shrugged. ’’She\s pushy. No one can deny that. It\s gotten worse since Dad died, and she lives alone. She asked me to move in with her or to allow her to move in with me.’’ She winced. ’’I\d strangle her. Part of it is my fault. I was really messed up after Tommy died so I didn\ fight her as much as I should have when she took over parts of my life. I just didn\ have the strength or the will. She\s way worse than she was when we were kids.’’

’’I know. I couldn\ wait to get out on my own. She loves us. There\s no denying that, but she micromanages us. It drove me nuts.’’

’’At least you got away from her. I envied you that while you were traveling around the world. She threw a fit every time I even went on vacation. You should have heard her rant when I said I was planning to visit you. It\s just a weekend but she started in with the guilt trips of what could happen to her if I left her alone for a few days.’’ She snorted. ’’As if she\s some delicate flower.’’

’’It wasn\ so great being enlisted. It\s why I got out and work here now. Not to mention, once I met Becky, I didn\ want her worrying about me being deployed, or to have to leave her for months at a time. I sure as hell didn\ want to live close to Mom. She\d drive us crazy.’’

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