Torin (Hope City #9) - Maryann Jordan


Blood. So much blood.

She raced along with the sounds of other booted footsteps over the dirt and gravel, knowing where she needed to be and what she needed to do. Sirens were wailing, making it difficult to hear the orders being shouted as she rounded the corner toward the front of the base hospital where the ambulances mingled with other vehicles, all bringing the injured, the dying, and the dead.

It was hard to think as fear choked her breathing, making it difficult to drag oxygen into her lungs. Focus. I have to focus. She looked around, a guilt-ridden slither of relief moving through her when she did not recognize any of the faces staring up from the stretchers. They all deserve my attention.

Racing over to her team, she immediately began triage. The military medical staff, well-trained and well-honed on the battlefield, worked in concert, their synchronized movements identifying who needed surgery and who could be held back to wait for treatment.

“Who is this?” she asked as one of the nurses moved in beside her, trying to keep her voice from shaking.

Without glancing up, Lieutenant Bacher replied, “More than one. Early report was IED. First Armored Brigade Combat.”

Just as she exhaled her sigh of relief, the Lieutenant continued.

“I also heard that Recovery had gone out as well. They were hit and are on their way back. No idea what Company. So, get ready for a fuckin’ long night.”

Her lungs seized at the information, and she threw up a prayer as she slipped on a clean pair of gloves, moving to the next patient. Looking down, she brushed her hand over his dirty, sweaty forehead. Assessing his medical needs, she barely heard him whisper.

“Am I going to make it?”

Glancing down at his ravaged body, she knew the odds were not in his favor. With a sweet smile crossing her face, she replied, “Gonna do the best we can. We’ve got to get you back home to that special girl.”

He smiled at her words, then closed his eyes as the pain medication took effect. Scribbling instructions down on the tag around his wrist, she moved on.

The stench of blood sent a wave of nausea throughout her, something that had never happened in her career as a medic. There was a reason as to why hit her, but she pushed it down. I can think about that later when I know he’s okay.

The sound of rumbling incoming vehicles continued, bringing in more injured and dead. One of the young doctors, Captain Rosenberg, jogged by, shouting out, “I think this is more of the Brigade Support.” Her heart slammed against her rib cage as the ambulances jolted to a halt, dust from the road swirling up to greet them.

She twisted around to look at the newcomers, her eyes stinging from the dust as she scanned the faces of those coming in. “Please, God, not him. Please, God, not him.” She recognized one of the men lying on a stretcher and dropped to his side, taking his hand. “Was he with you?”

The soldier opened his eyes, and she saw the light dimming. Glancing down, it was obvious from his chest and abdominal injuries he was not long for this world. As another medic came by, she looked up and said, “Help. If you can,” then she stood and continued running, continually searching.

Near the end of the column of trucks, she recognized the bright red hair. “Jesus, no, no, Jesus, no!” she chanted as she ran toward the stretcher. Her feet stumbled as she neared.

Blood. So much blood.

A field medic was working on him, and an IV had already been inserted into a vein.

She swallowed down the bile, forcing her body forward, grabbing his hand, the fit so familiar as she linked her fingers with his. “John, it’s Erin. Can you hear me, sweetheart? Can you hear me?”

With the noise and chaos all around, no one could hear her slip of endearment, not that she would care at the moment. She leaned over so that her face was directly above his, and her heart leaped into her throat as his eyes moved, staring straight at her. His mouth opened slightly, barely a gurgle as he said, “Er… rin.”

“That’s it, John, it’s Erin. We’re going to get you patched up, baby. I know you wanted to go home early with me, but this wasn’t the way we planned it. But it’s okay. We’ll get you home, and I’ll join you soon.”

His lips curved ever so slightly. Then his face