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outside that bar in Houston was alive, well, and not even human, Cash
had little trust in the system. Freeing Fisher was the right thing to do,
Eight Second Fall 131
but it wasn t enough to change his opinion of the IPC or those who
ran it.
Since humans had no knowledge about anything paranormal, Cash
and a few other trusted vampire guards had needed to compel the
hospital staff to make sure only a select group of people were allowed
to see Fisher. Each time it was Cash s turn to guard the man, though,
it broke his heart a little more at how small and pale the shifter
looked.
 How are you feeling?
 I m dying, Fisher answered casually.  How are you today, Mr.
Gavin?
 I ve told you to call me Cash. And you re not dying. He eased
down on the side of the mattress and crossed his arms over his chest.
 I have some news for you.
 Oh?
 You re getting out of this place.
Fisher half-shrugged and nodded.  I figured they d be sending me
back to my cell before long. These human doctors can t find anything
wrong with me, and I don t have health insurance. It only makes
sense.
 Are you always so pessimistic? It was as though he was just
waiting to die and had no illusions that anyone would miss him.
 I m not pessimistic. I m realistic. Sugar-coating my condition
isn t going to change anything.
 They re not takin you back to prison, and the warden is
expectin for your pardon to come through any day now. There was a
small bit of satisfaction at seeing the surprise on Fisher s face.  Umm,
don t take offense to this, but we re movin you to the zoo.
Fisher snorted, which sent him into a violent coughing fit. Once it
passed and he d taken a sip of the water Cash handed him, he smiled
and shook his head.  The zoo? Really?
 There s a vet there who happens to be an elf. We re hopin he
might be able to help.
132 Gabrielle Evans
 I m in no position to argue, so to the zoo it is.
 You re a little smart-ass. The most adorable little giggle
bubbled up through the shifter s lips. How in the hell had he ended up
in Ironrock? Cash just couldn t see the guy hurting anyone.  Can I ask
you something?
 You want to know why I was in prison.
 Well, yeah. Cash rubbed at the back of his neck and frowned.
 I m sorry, but I m just not seein it.
Fisher sighed and ringed the rim of his cup with one finger.  My
parents kicked me out of the house the day I turned sixteen. That s a
story for another time, though. He took a deep breath and coughed it
back out before slumping against his pillow.  I did okay on my own,
though. I got a job at this bakery. The owner, she was a really sweet
lady and let me rent the apartment over the shop for next to nothing.
 What happened? Cash prompted when Fisher stopped talking
and gazed out the window.
 I d gone out with some friends one night and was cutting through
an alley on my way home. A couple of guys I d turned down at the
club apparently didn t understand the meaning of no.
His bottom lip trembled and his hands shook, making the water
slosh around in his cup.  There was an officer patrolling the
neighborhood, and I guess he heard the noise. One of the guys who
attacked me pulled a knife and went at the cop with it. He ended up
with a bullet in his leg and two in the chest for his efforts.
 They threw you in jail for that? Cash could feel the fury boiling
just beneath the surface. What had been done to him could have been
written off as a misunderstanding. This was bullshit of the highest
caliber, though.
 I was so scared. A single tear slid down Fisher s cheek.  I
couldn t stop myself from shifting. Two guys showed up at my door
the next morning saying I had caused the whole incident and had
revealed our world to humans. You know the rest of the story.
Eight Second Fall 133
No wonder the man didn t trust that Cash was trying to help him.
No one in his entire life had stood up for him or cared about him. It
was probably the saddest story he had ever heard, and as much as
Fisher needed a champion, Cash already had someone depending on
him, someone who was his entire world.
He could be Fisher s friend, though, could do what he was capable
of to make sure the man never suffered like that again. And he
wouldn t do it alone.  You can come in now, baby.
Cedric, Atticus, Nigel, Thaddeus, and Brenner all filed into the
room with tear tracks on their cheeks and smiles on their faces.
 Hello, Fisher, Cedric said before making the introductions.  It s
nice to finally meet you. No putting the moves on my mate, though.
 He s so not my type, Fisher answered automatically. The
moment he d realized what he d said, his eyes went wide, and he
looked up at Cash in apology.  Oh, I didn t mean it like that. I mean,
you re attractive, but I just& I& oh, crap.
The room erupted into laughter, and Cedric sauntered over to the
bed to kiss Cash on the cheek.  Don t worry, big guy. You are totally
my type.
Cash hadn t been offended, but if it would get him another kiss,
he wasn t above playing that card to the hilt.  My ego is bruised.
 Oh, poor baby. Cedric winked at Fisher before placing a kiss on
Cash s lips.  Does that make it feel better?
 A little. One more.
The playful banter did the trick, pulling Fisher out of the sadness
of his memories.  It s nice to meet you all. Uh, why are you here?
 We re breaking you out of here, Nigel answered, puffing out his
chest and huffing on his fingernails.  It s a secret.
 I m going to see the vet now, right?
 That s the plan, Cedric agreed.  It s top-secret spy stuff, though.
No one can know. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]