ever seen with this virus. It’s either her, or the virus is changing.”
He handed Haydrien a second needle with medicine. “If there’s no change in twelve hours, give her another dose.”
Haydrien nodded. “What should I do in the meantime?”
“Keep a cold rag on her head. Comfort her. Other than that, there’s not much to do.”
“We have to figure this out.”
The doctor nodded. “I’ve drawn some of her blood, and I’m going to get to work on it. With her getting sick, we now know anyone that comes here has a fifty-fifty shot of becoming ill.”
Haydrien sighed. “Is there a way to eradicate it from the air?”
“Possibly. I’m going to consult with the science center on Rhinari. See if they can be of any assistance.”
“Whatever you need is yours,” Haydrien said.
The doctor patted him on the shoulder as he left the room. Haydrien slowly approached the bed and placed the needle on the table next to it. Jacquelyn’s hair was matted from sweat, her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes were sunken.
It pained him to see her in this shape. He never wanted this to happen. He grabbed the rag the doctor had placed by her bed and laid it across her forehead. She mumbled incoherently something about her hair, and Haydrien smiled. Where was that smart-mouthed spitfire he so loved fighting with? Was she still in there? Would her stubborn spirit pull her through?
* * * *
Twelve hours had passed, and still no change. She’d woken briefly a couple of times, but only long enough to take a sip of water. She just wasn’t drinking enough, so the doctor came by and hooked up an IV so she wouldn’t dehydrate.
She opened her eyes and glanced in confusion around the room. “Where am I?” she mumbled.
Haydrien rushed to her side and sat on the edge of the bed.
“You’re sick, Jacquelyn,” he said softly.
She stared at him and frowned. “You’re that pirate. The one Agnus warned me about.”
Haydrien frowned. Someone warned her?
Her eyes began to slowly drift closed. “I’m so cold.”
Haydrien jumped over her to the center of the bed and stretched his body out along hers. She felt incredibly hot. His worry for her increased. She was burning up, and every time she drew in a breath, she sounded like she was trying to breathe through a thin straw.
He drew her into his arms and nestled her close to his chest. “It’s going to be okay, Jacquelyn.”
He reached over her shoulder and grabbed the syringe from the table. He placed the needle against her arm and injected the second dosage of meds.
“Please let this work,” he whispered.
“Ow,” she whined.
A single tear slipped from the corner of her eye, and Haydrien kissed it away. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
And he was. He was sorry for hurting her with the needle. He was sorry she got sick, but the one thing he couldn’t be sorry for was bringing her here.
* * * *
Jack awoke to the gentle sound of rain. A cool breeze blew across her body, and she shivered, pulling the blankets around her tighter. A dull ache in the back of her hand kept her from dozing back off. She opened her eyes to see what the problem was, then gasped at the sight of a needle.
“What the hell?” she exclaimed as she sat up.
The second she did, she regretted it. Pain throbbed behind her eyes, and she brought her hands up to frame the sides of her head, hoping the pressure would make the pain subside. It didn’t.
“Son of a—”
“You sat up too fast, Jacquelyn. Lay back down,” Haydrien said from somewhere beside her.
She looked over and spotted him coming from the bathroom, a wet rag in his hand.
“What happened to me?” she croaked.
Her mouth was so dry, she could hardly speak.
“You’ve been sick for about four days now.”
Haydrien handed her a cup of tea. She took a large sip, then another. The warmth felt good against her throat, so she took a third, almost devouring all the liquid.
She set the cup aside