73. Care

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Song: Heal  by Tom Odell.  Sorry, I can't remember who  recommended this one, but thank you!

Chapter dedicated to @melaniewilliams564. Thanks so much for your kind and comforting words!

NOT edited.

Chapter 73—Care

Leander

Crossing the wooden deck in long strides, I quickly reached the door with Luca right on my heels.

"Wait," Grace interjected softly from her position next to the entrance. "Leander, it's important that we start Hycinth's treatment as quickly as possible, and you may not want another male on hand." Her eyes flickered to Luca for a brief second before returning to me.

Luca's face fell. He immediately stepped back, his shoulders hunching. "Of course. I can wait to see her another time."

"It shouldn't take more than twenty minutes," Grace reassured him.

Luca's stricken expression shifted back to hopefulness. He waited for my response.

"As long as Hycinth remains stable through the process, I see no reason to delay your visit any longer." In my heart, I was hoping Luca's presence might make a difference. As long as my Wolf remained calm, I wanted him to see her as soon as possible. "Wait here. I'll let you know when she's ready."

"Yes...of course," Luca agreed, sinking down into a nearby chair and placing his hands in his lap.

Turning toward the entrance again, I inhaled a slow breath and let it out. Not sure how much good it did to steady my frayed nerves. Every moment during the last few days had been consumed with a paralyzing fear of the unknown. It felt like a sledgehammer beating against my chest. But my perilous emotional condition was nothing compared to the raging war that my small and fragile mate was battling, so I pushed my shoulders back and forced every bit of wayward emotion into a locked box. I would deal with it later. For now, I had been away from Hycinth for long enough. My Wolf agreed. Not another minute needed it to be delayed.

We stepped through the doorway. My eyes dilated, adjusting to the soft interior lighting. Sydney was sitting in a chair next to the bed, holding Hycinth's hand and lightly stroking her limp fingers. Sydney's eyes flickered up to meet mine. She had questions. I could see it in her hesitant expression. She worried about the future as well. Not just Hycinth but all of us.

Sydney and Hycinth may have had a rocky start, but Sydney had come around to understand and accept my choice in the matter. It had been the ideal outcome after Sydney's punishment for her bad behavior—a Wolf brought back into harmonious accord with the pack. And now, it has been obvious in Sydney's words and actions that there was no breach in her loyalty or sense of duty. If I'd had any doubt, I certainly wouldn't have left her alone with my vulnerable mate.

But I didn't have the answers Sydney was seeking. I wished I did. Fuck. More than anything, I wanted to say that everything would be all right. But I didn't know what the future held any more than the rest of them. Not yet.

Lips set in a tight line, I gave no response as I approached Hycinth's bedside.

In her usual intuitive way, Sydney understood my silence. She nodded almost imperceptibly and quietly stood to her feet before walking out the door, careful to close it softly behind her.

As soon as Sydney left, grace began softly, "We'll start with the feeding tube."

I looked over to find her collecting various sterile packaging from inside one of the medical bags. Working with smooth efficiency that belied her inexperience, gloved hands carefully unpackaged each item and assembled them on a nearby rolling tray. Once everything was in place, Grace picked up the tubing and unwound it. Holding one end at Hycinth's nose, Grace extended it to Hycinth's ear and then down to her stomach as she explained, "I'm measuring the appropriate length to insert." Satisfied she had the correct distance, Grace marked the tubing with a permanent black pen.

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