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|Hook Me(Men of Inked #2) by Chelle Bliss|
How could someone hit a child and leave him in the street to die?
A child… a goddamn innocent little boy.
I looked at Dr. Patel and was struck by the weariness on his face. His eyes were bloodshot, the tiny creases around them looked deeper with big dark circles. I could see that the day had taken a toll on him too. I wasn’t alone in my despair.
I rested my palms against the boy’s chest and felt the silence within, there was no life left to save. “Time of death: seven-twenty-one P.M.” I closed my eyes and took a couple slow, steady breaths before I removed my hands. I wanted to run to the bathroom and throw up.
A third life I couldn’t save.
“I’ll go tell his parents, Mia. You’ve done enough today,” Patel said, placing his hand on my shoulder, giving it a tiny squeeze.
“Thank you, Eric.”
I usually argued with him. I wanted to be the one to talk with the families and help console them, but today, I had nothing. He patted my shoulder before leaving me with the boy that would never age or have the opportunity to experience all the joys in life.
I collapsed in the chair against the wall, pulling out my ponytail; I let my hair fall free. Placing my head in my hands, I ran my fingers through my hair as I tried to collect my thoughts.
More patients needed me, but I just needed a moment to myself. I couldn’t take another loss; I didn’t have anything left to give. Each time I lost someone, a small piece of my heart died.
Light footsteps broke my moment of serenity as I questioned my decision to work in an emergency room instead of an office practice like most of my classmates.
“Sorry to interrupt, Dr. Greco, I need to prep the body for the family to say their goodbyes,” the nurse said, as she grabbed a damp cloth to wipe down his bloodied face.
“It’s okay. I have patients to see. I just needed a moment to myself.”
She gave me a weak smile before beginning to clean the body. I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t take the sounds of the cries and utter grief that would fill this room. It took everything I had to climb to my feet and pull myself together. The ER had an endless stream of people.
I had one hour left until I could go home and crawl in bed.
I thought about moving back to Minnesota after I finished my internship, but Florida had become a part of me. I wanted to wear sandals year round, feel the sunshine on my face, and watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from my beachfront home. I couldn’t go back – snow and I never got along.
My work had become my life, especially in the summer months when my parents went back home. They were snowbirds and came to Florida to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather when the deep freeze hit up North. They’d been gone a month as spring arrived back home. The quietness of my life had become almost deafening when I wasn’t at the hospital. Today I was thankful I didn’t have to go home and put on a cheery smile for them.
I felt needed here. I had something to contribute, something that many people didn’t. The local population was poor and I wanted to help. It had become my calling. I spent my free time helping at the free clinic in town, and helped raise money for the homeless youth that plagued the county.
I stayed for the clinic, where I volunteered, and the chance to make a difference.
My muscles revolted with each kick, every single one screamed for me to stop, but I couldn’t. I worked too damn hard to get to this point in my life to give up now. Sometimes I questioned my sanity for waking up at three in the morning to work out for hours at the gym, but my body had to be strong and I had to be ready to win my next fight.
“Pansy ass,” Rob yelled. “Harder. Your ribs have been healed for weeks. Show me what you’re made of already, Mike.”
He egged me on and did everything in the world to piss me off. Rob had been my trainer for two years. Most days, like today, I wanted to knock his f**king lights out, but I knew his methods were right in the end.
“Your sister hits harder than you,” he teased with a shit-eating grin on his face.
My sister, Izzy, is where the friend-trainer line crossed with Rob and I. They dated for a short time. When Izzy dumped him, I didn’t think we’d continue working together. In typical Rob fashion he brushed it off and moved on to the next notch in his bedpost.
“Cocksucker,” I said, hitting the target in his hand hard enough to cause Rob to stagger backward.
“Better,” he said, as he regained his stance. “Ten more minutes and then we’ll call it a day.”
My drive to be the champion was so strong that I could almost taste the next victory. I wanted to show my family that I had talent and the ability even though at times, at least in the beginning, their support had been questionable until recently.
I won my first two matches and with each victory their support grew and my pop finally started to believe. When my ma said he was bragging to his friends, I knew I had him.
I grew up watching the fights with my pop and his buddies. They yelled at the television and made side bets. He liked to call my fighting career a hobby, but I needed to show him that it was more than that. I was meant to be the champion.
Wanting the gym all to myself when I trained, I paid the owner to wait until six in the morning to open the doors. He liked the idea of the publicity my victory and career would bring to his small town gym in the middle bum f**k Florida and it didn’t hurt that he was Rob’s brother either.
“’Bodies” by Drowning Pool started and it gave me the last push of motivation I needed. Sweat dripped from my brows and stung my eyes. Doing a roundhouse kick, I almost missed the target, nearly hitting Rob in the head.