Home > The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(8)

The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(8)
Author: J. R. Ward


Qhuinn smiled in a way he hoped looked chill. “Hey, I’ll meet you in there, ’kay? I’m supposed to go down and talk to Doc Jane about my shoulder for, like, ten minutes? Shouldn’t be long.”

“Of course. Do you want me to go with you?”

For a second, Qhuinn got lost just staring at his male. Blaylock, son of Rocke, was everything he himself was not: Blay was flawless with a Michelangelo body, a face to die for, and a head of red hair that was thick and shiny as a pony’s tail; he was smart, but also levelheaded, which made all the difference; and he was as steady and reliable as a granite mountain, the kind of guy who never wavered.

In all the ways that mattered, compared to Blay, Qhuinn was the plastic tub to the porcelain bowl, the partial set to the perfect dozen, the crack down the middle to the never-been-broken.

For some reason, though, Blay had picked him. Against all odds, the disowned, bad-seed son of a Founding Family, the sex fiend with the mismatched eyes, the mercurial, hostile, snarling stray … had somehow landed Prince Charming, and shit, it was almost enough to make you religious.

Blay was the reason he breathed, the home he’d never had, the sunlight that powered his earth.

“Qhuinn?” Those iridescent blue eyes frowned. “Are you okay?” “Sorry.” He leaned in and pressed his lips to the male’s jugular. “Distracted. But you do that to me, don’t you.”

As Qhuinn eased back, Blay was blushing—and aroused. And that scent was a diversion not easily conquered.

Except he had a real problem he needed to deal with.

“Tell the brothers I’ll be fast.” Qhuinn nodded in the direction of the billiards room. “And I’ma beat their ass.”

“You always do. Even Butch.”

The words were soft, and backed up with an adoration that made Qhuinn count every one of his blessings.

Giving in to instinct, Qhuinn got up close again and whispered in the guy’s ear, “You may want to food up at Last Meal. I’m going to keep you busy all day long.”

With a quick lick of the throat he intended to work on later, Qhuinn stalked off before he couldn’t leave his mate at all.

Heading around the base of the staircase, he went through a hidden door and down into the tunnel system that connected the components of the estate. The Brotherhood’s underground training center was located about a quarter of a mile away from the mansion, and this subterranean pass connecting the two was a broad, concrete expanse lit by fluorescent ceiling panels.

As he stomped along, his footfalls echoed all around, like his shitkickers were applauding his initiative.

He wasn’t so sure they were right, though. He had no fucking clue what he was doing here.

The door into the back of the supply closet opened without a sound after he entered the correct code, and then he was passing by shelves of legal pads, printer paper, pens, and other Staples shit. The office beyond presented your typical desk-chair-computer and old-school filing cabinets setups, none of it particularly registering as he punched through the glass door across the way and hit the corridor beyond. With long, impatient strides, he went by all kinds of professional-grade facilities, from the full-size gym and the Dwayne Johnson–worthy weight room, to the locker rooms and the first of the classrooms.

The clinic portion of the training center had a number of treatment spaces, an OR, and several patient bunks. Doc Jane, V’s shellan, and Dr. Manny Manello, Payne’s mate, took care of all manner of war-related injuries in it as well as household-whoopsies, and even the pregnancies and deliveries of L.W. as well as Nalla, Lyric, and Rhampage.

He knocked on the first door he came to, and he didn’t have to wait more than a heartbeat.

“Come on in!” Doc Jane called out from the other side.

The good doctor was in surgical scrubs and Crocs as she sat at the computer on the far side of the well-equipped clinical space, her fingers flying over the keys as she updated someone’s record, her head bent, her short blond hair sticking up like she’d been dragging her hand through it for hours.

“One sec …” She punched the enter key and spun herself around. “Oh, hey there, Dad. How are you?”

“Oh, you know, soaking up the love.”

“Those babies of yours are amazing. And I don’t even like kids.”

Her smile was as easygoing as apple pie. Her forest-green eyes, on the other hand, were laser sharp.

“Thanks to you, they’re doing great.”

Annnnnnnd cue the quiet. As the conversation stalled out, he wandered around because he couldn’t stay still, checking out the shiny, sterile equipment in the stainless-steel cabinets, inspecting the empty gurney under the operating light, jacking up his leathers.

Doc Jane just sat there on her little stool, calmly and quietly letting him thrash around in his own head. And when her phone went off, she let it go to voice mail without even checking to see who it was.

“I’m probably wrong,” he said eventually. “You know, what the fuck do I know.”

Doc Jane smiled. “I actually think you’re a very smart guy.”

“Not about shit like this.” Clearing his throat, he told himself to get on with it—even though Doc Jane didn’t seem in a rush, he was annoying himself. “Look … I love Layla.”

“Of course you do.”

“And I want the best for her. She’s the mother of my children. I mean, behind Blay, she’s my partner because of those kids.”

“Absolutely.”

Crossing his arms over his chest, he cut the pacing and faced off at the good doctor. “I’m not saying I know anything about females. Like, about their moods and shit. Except … Layla’s crying a lot. I mean, she tries to hide it from Blay and me, but … every time we go in to see her, I find Kleenex wads in the wastepaper basket, and her eyes are too shiny, and her cheeks are flushed. She smiles, but it never reaches past the surface. Her eyes are … fucking tragic. And … I don’t know what to do, I just know it’s not right.”

Doc Jane nodded. “How is she with the kids?”

“Great, as far as I can see. She’s totally devoted to them, and they are thriving. Matter of fact, the only time I see her even halfway to happy, it’s when she’s holding them.” He cleared his throat. “So I guess what I’m wondering … asking … whatever, is, like, can’t pregnant females, once they’re unpregnant, can’t they, like …”

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