Beard Mode(3)

By: Lani Lynn Vale

 Hoss stood, grinning.

 “Thank God,” he mumbled. “Tyson tell you this place was a freakin’ madhouse?”

 I nodded my head.

 “He did,” I confirmed.

 “Well, good luck to you,” he called. “I hope your day won’t be as exciting as mine.”

 I hoped not, too.

 However, shit like that rarely worked out.

 And I was right.

 Four hours later, I was standing in the middle of chaos.

 “You have to do something for her!” the little boy screamed.

 “I will,” I muttered. “Stop screaming in my ear and let me look at her.”

 The little boy backed off only far enough that I could get down to my knees in front of the woman.

 A woman who was exceptionally beautiful… and, as it turned out, also my neighbor.

 “What happened?” I asked quietly, pulling back the bandage so I could get a better look at the source of all the blood that was covering her blouse.

 The woman stared at me with apprehension.

 “Rod didn’t mean to do it,” she informed me.

 Sure he didn’t.

 “Just tell me what happened,” I ordered.

 “I tripped over him and hit my head on the table,” she lied.

 I rolled my eyes.

 Sure she did.

 “You don’t believe me?” she asked, guessing by the look on my face.

 “I believe you,” I lied.

 She harrumphed, and I had to hide my smile.

 She was a cute little thing. However, every time she looked at me her face would get all scrunched up…kind of like it was doing now.

 She was a pixie.

 Short, small-statured, with a cute bob of blonde hair, she was everything that I wouldn’t go for.

 I would chew her up and spit her out.

 Her breasts, though…those didn’t fit with her tiny body. No, they were more fitting for a freakin’ Victoria’s Secret ad.

 Not that I was looking at her breasts…or the way the blood from her head wound dripped down between those beautiful specimens.

 “I’m fine, promise,” the woman lied.

 “Can you tell me your name?” I asked, bringing out my pen light and shining it in her eyes.

 “Yes,” she replied stiffly.

 I resisted the urge to laugh. Barely.

 “What is your name?” I repeated.

 “Imogen,” she responded reluctantly. “And let me go ahead and say that I’m a twenty-nine-year-old female interested in men. Single. The month is June. It’s one oh three in the afternoon…What else do you want to know?”

 My mouth twitched. “I definitely don’t remember age and sexual orientation being in my paramedic training as the litmus test to ascertain whether or not the patient is alert and oriented.”

 She glared.

 “I was trying to show you that I was in control of all my faculties,” she growled defensively.

 “I can put a couple stitches in this, but so can the hospital. Up to you,” I told her.

 “She doesn’t want you to hurt her!” the kid cried loudly.

 “Shhh,” Imogen held up her hand. “If it’s free, you’re more than welcome to poke me all you want.”

 Oh, I wanted to poke her all right…just not with anything that even remotely resembled a needle.

 But that wouldn’t work.

 I’d sworn off women. Especially ones that smelled like commitment.

 “I can do it.” I stood and held out my hand. “Follow me to the infirmary.”

 The kid stiffened. “I’m going to stay here and talk to Dad…okay?”

 “Absolutely not,” Imogen declared, holding out her hand. “You’re not staying with him. Ever.”

 It was so final that even I knew not to try to change her mind. It was the words of finality delivered in the motherly ‘don’t even think about it, mister’ tone that women used when addressing their children—the one that told them that there would be hell to pay if they chose to disobey.

 The kid growled.

 “I am staying, whether you want me to or not!” the kid snapped.

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